Title: Hooked On a Feeling
Pairing: Lord Black/fem!Harry
Summary: Mistress Harmony Potter was horrified when a marriage call was placed for her. Little did she know that the previously unknown Lord Black would be the one chosen to answer.
A Note on Titles in the Wizarding World: An Essay was written on this topic.
Credits: “Hooked on a Feeling” by Blue Swede
Warnings: rule 63, arranged marriages, (canon) death, Charlus, Lord Potter (yes, he gets his own warning), EWE, Potter and Malfoy siblings, hidden identities, lemons (or lack thereof), severe injury and maiming (fairytale)
Mistress Harmony Potter was twenty-one, beautiful, but with a stubborn streak that would make most Gryffindors cringe. Her mother Lily, who had never made it to the title of Lady Potter, had died the night that Lord Voldemort attacked the little cottage at Godric’s Hollow. She was defending Harmony. Heir James Potter had already been disarmed and stunned on the ground floor.
It was then that Lord Voldemort had tried to murder Mistress Harmony Potter in her crib. He did not succeed. With a lightning bolt scar on her forehead and a destroyed Dark Lord, she became the famous Girl-Who-Lived. As the daughter of the Heir of one of the Ancient Houses, despite her half-blood status, she became one of the most eligible witches in all of wizarding England.
Of course, the Potter name was not the most prestigious. There were the Malfoys who outranked them and, of course, the Blacks.
Mr. Sirius Black was Mistress Harmony’s godfather. When he had known Heir James at Hogwarts, he had been Heir Sirius, but with his disownment he became a simple pureblood with little more than a cursory title. He was, however, allowed to keep his surname. His younger brother Lord Regulus Black ascended to the title of Heir Regulus Black and held the position until his death in 1979, the year before Mistress Harmony’s birth.
What was a strange coincidence of magic is that Heir Regulus’s death was never recorded on the family tapestry in Grimmauld Place. Sirius always said it was because the ancient relic was so old, but the magics did not pass on the title to the next in line—Lady Lestrange. She should have become Lady Black if not for her own marriage title. Then the title would have gone to Andromeda Tonks, whose husband was a Muggleborn and therefore had no title of his own. They should have been the new Lord and Lady Black. However, the magic appeared to reject them also. Sirius said snidely it was because of Ted Tonks’s blood status, but magic would have been blind to such a fact. Then of course there was Heiress Lucius Malfoy, the former Lady Narcissa Black. Although Lucius had no brothers or sisters to carry on the family name, the title of Lord Black would have taken precedence to his position of mere Heir to a title, especially given the fact that the Blacks were preeminent in society, but still it came to nothing.
Lady Meirona Potter, Mistress Harmony’s younger sister, believed it was all because Heir Regulus was not really dead. Somehow, Mistress Harmony doubted this. Heir Regulus’ own house elf had appeared in the Black dining room, crying about how his poor master was dead at the hands of the Dark Lord. House elves might not be the brightest of creatures, but they were loyal and honest. No, Heir Regulus was dead.
That, however, did not matter. Mistress Harmony Potter was twenty-one years of age and had shown no inclination to marry. Her stepmother, Heiress James Potter, had pleaded and prodded with Harmony but could not even gather whether or not her stepdaughter preferred wizards over witches.
It was over dinner one night when Charlus, Lord Potter slammed down his knife and fork and said, “That’s enough, Harmony. Either choose for yourself who you will marry or he will be chosen for you.”
The table went silent at his command. Dorea née Black, the Lady Potter, looked at her husband pleadingly. “Surely, Charlus, she has more time. She’s only been of age for a few years.”
He snorted. “A few years? Dorea, we were married when you were just eighteen. James first married when he was seventeen. Enid was nineteen.”
“Yes, dear. However, you were twenty-five when you married me,” she pointed out.
“Pure-bloods marry young, Dorea. Lily, of course, was the exception.” He looked over at James, his heir. “I know Harmony is a half-blood but Enid raised her as a pure-blood, she’s grown up as an heiress to one of the noblest families in the realm, and she will take her place among its ranks.”
Meirona looked over to her half-sister. She was just about to start her seventh year at Hogwarts and fortunately was dating a suitable wizard, at least according to her grandfather. James Potter, however, believed in marrying for love. As long as Meirona loved Heir Draco Malfoy, despite their “four” year age difference, that was all that mattered.
“Father,” James said, “give Harmony more time. You know how being the Girl-Who-Lived makes it difficult—“
“I know that Harmony was not fond of the idea of marriage dates, but perhaps I could arrange a few with prominent wizarding families. The Selwyns, for example, have a fine son,” Dorea put in. “Enid and I can arrange it. Perhaps a nice Welsh family will do.” She looked pleadingly at her Welsh daughter-in-law.
“Yes, that perhaps could allow Harmony time to get used to the idea.”
“Don’t I get a say in any of this?” Harmony finally put in. “I’m not allowed to work, but instead I must go shopping and go to tea parties and bridge parties. It’s all rather ludicrous. And now you want me to be married and to go shopping and to tea parties and bridge parties while leaving my babies to the care of house elves?” she huffed. “I’m sorry. I won’t do it. I’ll go out and find a Muggle or Muggle-born like Father.”
“The future Lord Potter will not be a Muggle-born or, gods forbid, a Muggle!” Charlus all but shouted. “No. There will be a marriage call.”
Several people dropped their silverware.
“A—a marriage call?” Harmony breathed out in shock.
“Surely the situation can’t be that desperate,” Enid said, looking between the angry expression on her husband’s face and her own daughter Meirona, who was taking this all rather well.
“It is that desperate. I don’t want a spinster in my household. Dorea, put out the call. This needs to be dealt with before Yule.”
“Yule?” James croaked.
“Yule,” Charlus affirmed. “I won’t have her unmarried after that holiday. She should have her own hearth to tend by then.”
James looked over to his favorite daughter. He knew he shouldn’t have favorites, but he had never been in love with Enid. He loved her dearly, like a friend, but it wasn’t the same. Meirona was not born of love and passion but of duty and quiet companionship. She always represented to him what was lacking in his second marriage.
The problem was that Enid knew it and Meirona suspected that she was not as loved as Harmony.
“Well, if that’s settled,” Charlus said, turning back to his meal.
“But you can’t—“ Harmony pleaded.
“But I can.”
“I won’t marry him, whoever he is.”
“You will if I have to drag you to the bondler myself. You will walk up to your future husband, be bonded, and you will be happy about it, young lady.” He waved his knife about.
“You might like whomever Grandmama chooses,” Meirona finally put in. “He could be the man of your dreams.”
Harmony rolled her eyes. “Like Draco Malfoy is the man of yours?”
Meirona didn’t answer but instead took a bite of her lamb.
Harmony turned back to her own plate, trying to figure out a way of getting around a marriage call.
A marriage call was an ancient practice that was employed when a witch or wizard wished to marry but had no one in mind as their intended spouse. They would employ a matchmaker who would choose someone based on certain unknown criteria and then the couple would meet for the first time at the bondler when they exchanged their vows.
Harmony couldn’t remember the last time a marriage call had been put out. It was a rather archaic practice.
She was rather startled the next morning to see that the call had been placed in The Daily Prophet. The ad had taken up an entire page, and a rather recent photograph of her smiling was on display.
It sickened her.
Harmony chose not to leave Potter Abbey for the next week. She didn’t want to be hounded by society ladies about the call or followed by reporters. Her grandmother followed her around with a little book, asking her about her preferences regarding wizards. Witches were apparently out of the question because she wouldn’t be able to conceive with them, and the Potter name needed an heir. Not that it mattered. Harmony had never had an inclination for either gender.
What surprised her was that, one day, when she was in her solar, her godfather Sirius Black came to visit her. She smiled up at him and he grinned back at her. He was wearing robes she had seen him in before, showing that this was not a social visit.
“Padfoot, it’s been too long.”
She air kissed both of his cheeks.
“About a month,” he agreed, taking a seat. “You seem to get lovelier every time I see you.”
“Stop. You’ll make me blush.”
He took her hands in his and she looked down in amazement. “Uncle Sirius, what are you—“
But then he leaned forward and kissed her, just the brush of lips. She instantly yanked back despite her shock. Narrowing her eyes at him, she whispered, “You’ve answered the marriage call.”
“Yes,” he admitted, still holding her hands. “Are you angry with me?”
She thought about it for several long moments. “Does Father know?”
Sirius shrugged, finally releasing her hands. “I don’t know. Probably not. This is women’s business.”
Looking at him warily, she said boldly, “You know that you’re breaking all the rules.”
He grinned at her. “Isn’t that what I do? And I want every advantage that I can get. I know Dorea. She’ll listen to you.”
“You assume I want to marry you.”
His grin lowered a bit. “I’m hoping you would. I would take care of you, like I always have—“
“You’ve always played pranks on me, Sirius. You’ve never taken care of me a day of your life.”
Sirius looked like he’d been slapped. “I’d love you,” he continued. “You need to be loved and appreciated.”
“Not by you.” Harmony couldn’t stand the thought of being tied to Sirius. Yes, she loved him but as a godfather. She couldn’t bear to have that twisted and blackened and ruined until she hated him. It just wouldn’t be right. She would grow to resent him. And he would be the way he always was—the jokester who never could take responsibility. He would never make a fine Lord Potter. She knew that.
Harmony wondered what her father would think if he knew. Would he be happy for his dearest friend? Or would he see her pain?
“I have to go,” she said standing, smoothing out her robes. “Goodbye, Sirius.” She said it with such finality that they both knew that they would never see each other in a private setting again.
Normally, she would have hugged him goodbye, but not today. Never today.
And she walked away from him.
Finding her grandmother, she instantly said, “I want Mr. Sirius Black excluded from the call. I only want men with their hair cropped to their ears in the Roman style.” Sirius, ever the prankster, wore his hair long like the Lord of a family. Heirs, lower ranking lords, masters, and mr.’s wore their hair cropped. There, she thought, you’re completely excluded now even if Father wants to keep you in the running.
It was after Meirona had gone back to Hogwarts that Heir Draco Malfoy came to visit Heir James Potter and Lord Potter to ask permission for Meirona’s hand in marriage. They were locked in her grandfather’s study for over an hour when James finally came out and called her in. She had been in the rose garden, reading Shakespeare’s sonnets, but she came immediately.
Looking between the three men, she queried, “Grandfather?”
“Heir Draco wants to marry your sister.” His voice was gruff and gravelly from smoking. In fact, there was a smoldering cigar on his desk. “What do you think about it? You went to school with Heir Draco.”
Harmony looked at Draco Malfoy and narrowed her eyes. It was no secret that the two had been enemies at Hogwarts, but during their final year Malfoy had suddenly grown fond of the young Meirona Potter, despite her being in Gryffindor, and his ire toward Harmony had suddenly cooled. Meirona had been sweet on Malfoy since the day he had asked her out on a Hogsmeade weekend. Fortunately, she had been fourteen and Malfoy barely seventeen otherwise Harmony would have strongly objected.
Two years wasn’t that much of an age difference, after all, although four years separated them at Hogwarts.
“I—“ she began, turning to her grandfather. “I think he cares very much for her. It’s been evident since they first went to Hogsmeade together.”
She could hear Malfoy let out a breath of air in relief.
“So you’d like the whelp in the family?” Charlus looked at her perceptively.
“Well, I’ve never been fond of him, but that hardly matters. We’re civil toward each other and, remember, Meirona will be the future Lady Malfoy.”
James shook his head in disgust. “As if that matters.”
“I know you’ve never cared about it, James, but some of us care about the family honor.” Charlus looked over at Malfoy. “You have permission from three generations of Potters. You may propose on the next Hogsmeade weekend, and you will inform us immediately of her response so we can put an announcement in The Daily Prophet.”
Malfoy, for once, did not have a stony or a put-upon expression. He actually smiled. “Thank you, Lord Potter. I promise to make Lady Meirona very happy.”
“Well, you better hold true to that promise,” James put in. “She is my daughter, after all.”
“Yes, Heir James. Of course.” He was still smiling.
“Mistress Harmony will show you to the floo,” Charlus put in, picking up his cigar. “I need to go inform the ladies of the house.”
“Of course.” Malfoy then actually bowed. Harmony’s eyebrows rose in surprise. Meetings never ended in bows or curtseys. “Thank you. Thank you again.”
“Be gone with you.” Charlus waved his hand.
Harmony followed Malfoy out the door. “So I suppose we will be in laws within the next year,” Harmony pointed out. “Who would have thought when I refused to shake your hand at the beginning of first year?” Her following laugh sounded like chimes.
“Yes, it seems strange,” Malfoy agreed.
She looked over at him. “Malfoy, can I ask you something?”
He looked at her in curiosity.
“What ever happened to Lady Astoria Greengrass?” Harmony paused just in front of the floo, blocking it from him so he could not make a quick escape.
Heir Draco had had an interesting dating career at Hogwarts. In fourth year, he had appeared with Miss Pansy Parkinson at the Yule Ball. Then, at the beginning of sixth year on the train, Harmony had spotted him with his head in Miss Pansy’s lap. However, within a month he was dating Lady Astoria Greengrass. He took her to every Hogsmeade weekend, would sit with her at the Ravenclaw table, and would walk her to class. Then, one day, he seemed to notice Meirona and asked her to Hogsmeade and Lady Astoria was completely forgotten about, just as quickly as Miss Pansy had been.
“She cheated on me,” Draco responded, bringing Harmony back to the present. “I’d rather not go into particulars—Meirona knows, of course—“
“Of course,” she murmured. “I’m sorry for the pain that she inflicted, Heir Draco.”
“Draco,” he corrected. “We’re to be family.”
“As soon as my sister accepts you, then you must call me Harmony.”
“Mistress Harmony,” he said in farewell.
“Draco.” She moved away from the floo and then he was gone.
It was a week later that Grandmama informed her that she had chosen her match. They were drinking tea with Enid (Harmony never could call her “Mother”) when the announcement was made.
“I think you’ll be most pleased.”
Harmony’s cup chinked on the saucer. “Are you going to tell me his name?”
“Yes, Dorea. Who is he?” Enid asked.
“I see no harm. He sent you this, dearest,” she said, holding out a letter. “That should be information enough.”
With shaking hands, Harmony took the letter. “You know Grandfather is going to have to employ the Imperius Curse on me to get me to marry whoever this is.”
“If you say so, dear.”
Harmony opened the letter and looked over the beautiful calligraphy. She then turned to the signature. Her cup clattered to the floor. “But there isn’t—How can this be possible—?”
“I believe that’s for you to discuss with your husband.” Her eyes twinkled. “I think you’ll be very happy.”
“I—“ She was at a loss for words. Harmony skimmed the letter. He was looking forward to meeting her. He promised to be true. He hoped that she would not mind giving up her title of Mistress Harmony Potter to be the Lady of her own Ancient House. He promised that his hair had been in the Roman style since he was a young boy despite his title. He hoped that he would not disappoint. He hoped she would not be adverse to a small, private bonding. “Am I in a dream?”
“No. I’ve met the wizard myself and he was everything we could have hoped. A pureblood. From an Ancient House. He favors blood purity though does not begrudge you your mother for ‘it is never the child’s fault’—those are his words. Faithful—he swore an unbreakable vow. Mature enough for you, darling. Kind. He wants a family. Handsome to your specifications. Need I go on?”
Enid took the letter from Harmony’s limp fingers. Her eyes bulged at the signature. “Is he a recluse? He surely must be.”
“Yes,” Dorea agreed. “He prefers to live out of the wizarding spotlight. He would not be adverse to Harmony’s social obligations, however, and is even willing to make an appearance in society every now and then for her sake if it comes to it.”
“You know how I hate society, Grandmama,” Harmony pointed out sullenly. “Are you sure he’s for real?”
“He let me perform a blood test on him as I was skeptical myself.”
Harmony sucked in her breath. Allowing blood magic to be performed showed great trust.
“However, he is in fact Lord Black. How should you like being Lady Black, my dear? You will be the first amongst all the ladies of society! You will outrank your sister when she becomes Lady Malfoy! Only the best would suit our Harmony.”
“And he certainly is the best,” Enid murmured. She then handed back the letter and kissed Harmony’s temple. “Congratulations, darling.” Turning to Dorea she asked, “When is the wedding to be?”
Harmony, however, cut in. “Are you sure it’s not Sirius Black playing some trick?”
“No, the blood test proved that he was not Mr. Sirius Black. And I would not have allowed you to marry that wizard even before you asked not to be matched with him. He is entirely unsuitable.” She took a sip of her tea. “The wedding will be on the Equinox.”
“That’s in less than a week!” Harmony squeaked.
“I know, I know. But the day is so auspicious and I didn’t want to wait until Samhain, especially since your mother died on that day and you got that horrendous scar. Now, I’m sure Enid agrees with me, we simply must go have tea with the Malfoys tomorrow and share the good news.”
“Shouldn’t something be sent to The Prophet?” Enid asked, still a little dazed.
Charlus walked in. “The fact that the marriage is taking place has been, but not the name of the groom. That is strictly to remain private so that we can seem to be following exact protocol.” He kissed his wife’s cheek. “I never could trust you with a good piece of family news or gossip.”
“You know how we Blacks are, dear. We like to keep the family informed.”
And to the Malfoys they went. Harmony took her time choosing her Autumn robes. Her black hair fell in messy curls and her startling green eyes, that she inherited from her mother, shone out of her eyes. Although she could get correction surgery for her eyes, Harmony had never liked anesthetic charms and so wore a pair of cute rectangular glasses that perched on her nose. Finally deciding on a pair of pea green robes, she brushed out her hair and put it up in a twist. No one but her family members and her lord could see her with her hair down. Draco Malfoy would get to see her with her hair half-down once he married Meirona, but the rest of the Malfoys would still only be extended family by marriage.
She walked into the drawing room of Malfoy Manor and sank into a curtsey when she saw Lady Malfoy, who had risen to greet her guests. Narcissa née Black, Lady Malfoy nodded to Dorea, while Enid offered a shallower curtsey than Harmony’s own.
Lady Lacerta Malfoy at eighteen, who was Draco’s younger sister and who was not engaged and seemed to have no hope of becoming so without family intervention, greeted them and looked pointedly at Harmony. The two had never been friends. Lacerta had been in Slytherin with Draco and had not approved of his attachment to Meirona, for whatever reason. She also seemed to alienate the entire male population around her.
Harmony attracted the young wizards at Hogwarts like moths to a flame. She simply hadn’t shown any interest in return, even when her godsibling Heir Neville Longbottom had asked her for her hand in marriage quite unexpectedly during her sixth year. Lacerta, however, despite her standing in the Malfoy family, seemed to repel men, even those interested in the family name. They all seemed, instead, to flock to her younger sister Lady Iolanthe, who was now in her sixth year at Hogwarts.
Ignoring Lacerta’s look, Harmony sat next to Lady Malfoy who patted the place beside her. “Well, Mistress Harmony, we’re all very excited about your nuptials. I take it that they will be probably before our Draco can ask for your sister’s hand in marriage?”
“No, I think the Hogsmeade weekend is sometime in October. I’ll be married this week.”
“So soon?” She looked over at Dorea Potter née Black. “The auspicious day of the Equinox perhaps, Aunt Dorea?”
“You know me too well, Narcissa.”
Lady Malfoy squeezed Harmony’s hand. “You must promise to bring him round once Draco’s engagement is announced. Perhaps over winter break so your sister can be here.”
Harmony wondered if that would even be possible given the fact that her husband was supposed to be a recluse.
“What will it be like,” Lacerta put in, “having to curtsey to your own sister once she’s Lady Malfoy?” She pasted a smile on her face that was far too sugary. Harmony was suddenly reminded why no one would touch her with a ten foot pole.
“I don’t know, Lady Lacerta. However, I will one day be Lady Potter in my own right.” Not that it mattered. Lady Potter was almost, though not quite, the social equal of a Malfoy. “What will it be like to curtsey to her as you were born a Malfoy and she is a Potter?”
That, at least, shut her up.
Lady Malfoy turned back to her. “Do you know if he’s handsome?”
“Very handsome,” Grandmama was now saying. “I wouldn’t allow for anything less. I visited him on his estate and he left a very good impression, Narcissa.”
“Not a hint then?” she pleaded to her aunt.
Harmony’s grandmother laughed. “Is it not enough that you’ll know by the 22nd?”
“I suppose I can wait that long, but you know how we Blacks are, Aunt Dorea. We’re rather impatient.” She looked between Enid and Harmony. “Forgive me, Heiress James, Mistress Harmony. I’ve rather forgotten myself in the excitement. Tell me of the dower.”
Harmony’s dower was rather odd for a pure-blood. She had the traditional linens, silver, and china, but she also had the Muggle clothing of her mother as well as all the photographs ever taken of her parents together. To her knowledge, her father had only kept one after her mother’s death. All the others had been preserved for her.
What was so unusual is that she also had a magical portrait of her mother that had been painted just before Heir James Potter and his bride, Lily, had gone into hiding. Lily, blushing, was in her wedding gown and veil. Usually such portraits stayed in a family home and a bride was transplanted into a new home with new portraits with none from her own family. Her father, however, couldn’t bear to be around the talking portrait of his late wife, so it had been given to Harmony as part of her dower.
When Draco heard of this, his head snapped up. “How unusual. Usually portraits are only painted of pure-bloods.”
Enid looked uncomfortable. Heir James had never had a portrait painted of her, though he had promised he would once she became Lady Potter.
“He loved Mother so much, and it was a time of war,” Harmony explained. “They didn’t want to lose each other.”
The wedding wasn’t talked about much in the Potter household. That is, until James found out.
“What?” he screeched, tossing his tumbler of Single Malt into the fire. Harmony was rather surprised and just a little bit shocked. “Lord Black?”
“Yes,” Dorea confirmed. “He’s Lord Black.”
“You choose a Black and it’s not Sirius?” His eyes immediately sought out Harmony’s imploringly, and in that moment she decided: she would marry Lord Black. Just to spite this horrible idea of marrying Sirius Black. “This isn’t happening,” James muttered to no one.
“It most definitely is happening,” Charlus growled. “The call went out and Lord Black was chosen.”
“But who the fuck is he? Who is he, Mother?”
No one had an answer to his question.
The wedding was going to be small. Meirona wasn’t being pulled from classes, James and Enid wouldn’t even be present although they were her father and stepmother. James didn’t even know the identity of Harmony’s betrothed! All that was needed was the lord and lady of a house in a private ceremony. As the groom was Lord to his own House, he was to bring along a witness. Then there was the bondler, but Lord Black had requested that they marry under the old rites.
Lord Potter had instantly agreed.
Carefully on the morning of September the 21st, Harmony let her stepmother dress her in yellow linen with a veil. Her glasses were plucked from her eyes, a temporary sight charm cast on them, and her hands were washed in buttermilk.
“Write to me, Harmony, and tell me how he treats you,” James made her promise. “I know Father will tell me exactly who he is once they return, but I need to know that he’ll be good to you.”
“I love you, too, Father,” Harmony whispered into his ear as she embraced him. “And trust Grandmama. Hopefully she knows what she’s doing.”
James laughed. “She did choose Enid for me, although we were not ‘matched’. And we’ve had a good run of it.”
Harmony smiled sadly. Yes, they’d had a ‘good run of it.’ They were happy, but they weren’t in love.
He took a photograph of her by the mantle before she floo’d away.
She arrived in the foyer of a house that was illuminated by floating candles. Her grandfather and grandmother were right behind her.
“This way,” Dorea directed, and they walked up a beautiful gothic staircase.
Candles were everywhere, casting shadows, along with windows that were open and letting in light and fresh air. Still, that did not squash the ghostly feeling of the mansion. It was full of shadows and half-lights.
Harmony craned her neck as she looked around her. They walked by several portraits, all of whom looked slightly familiar, but Harmony couldn’t quite place them.
Finally they came to an open door and Dorea ushered them through.
The first thing that Harmony noticed was the plush Oriental carpet. There was a fire roaring in the grate and several moving photographs on the mantle. Harmony hardly registered the other two wizards in the room when she noticed one of the pictures.
Gasping, she rushed forward and plucked it off the mantle. “But this is Uncle Sirius,” she said to no one in particular. She turned and saw a wizard, standing next to a table with a pomegranate and a knife on it.
He was standing with the aid of a walking stick that was more like a cane. She took in his slim build of a Seeker and his broad shoulders. His hair was clipped to his ears in the Roman fashion. He had black hair, gray eyes, and the haughty good looks that she associated with her godfather.
She barely paid the other wizard any notice.
Putting the photograph of Sirius Black back on the mantle, she took in the other photographs. There was one Lady Malfoy and her husband. Another one showed a woman who looked a great deal like Lady Lestrange except with brown hair. Then there was Lady Lestrange herself also with Lady Malfoy. They were all Blacks.
“You really are Lord Black,” she whispered, taking a step forward. “Forgive my rudeness. I was startled.”
“I understand you know some of my family,” he offered.
“Sirius is my godfather,” she explained. “And Heir Draco Malfoy will probably be marrying my sister, Meirona. I’ve seen Lady Lestrange once or twice. She’s not one for bridge parties.”
“Yes, poor Bellatrix. She wanted to marry Lucius,” at the confusion on her face, he clarified, “Lord Malfoy, but he’d have none but her sister. So, Bella married a minor Lord.”
“Hmm,” Harmony hummed. She turned then to her betrothed. “Forgive me. I’m Mistress Harmony Potter.” She lifted out her hand, and he raised it to just below his lips before releasing it. All the while, he leaned heavily on his walking stick.
“This is Master Bartemius Crouch, Jr.,” Lord Black introduced his companion. “Lady Potter, as lovely as ever. And Lord Potter, it is a privilege to make your acquaintance.”
The two shook hands. Charlus took in his leg and then looked over at his wife, who was smiling at everyone.
“Shall we?” Lord Black asked.
Everyone took up their positions and Harmony, who had felt so sure of herself just minutes before, felt her heart sink. This was real. She was really marrying a stranger. Just as Lord Black was about to pick up the ritual knife and slice open his hand, she quelled the blade and looked into his eyes. “Might I know your name?” She offered him a courageous smile. She was a Gryffindor, after all. “It’s just—“
“I understand. But after,” he promised. He held her gaze and she saw only honesty there and so she nodded.
They sliced open the palms of their hands, letting their blood mix, before feeding each other pieces of pomegranate, cut from the same knife. In the end, Lord Black lifted the hem of her veil and gray eyes met green. “A Muggle tradition,” he murmured before leaning in to kiss her.
It was only her second kiss. It was stronger than Sirius’s and it felt—right was not the correct word. Sure, perhaps. It felt sure. She did not want to draw away from it and she waited until he set her veil back in place. Looking at him through the lace, she saw that his eyes were moist.
“Now,” Master Bartemius said. “Champagne.”
Harmony pulled herself together and took the arm that her husband offered to her. She was now Lady Black. She outranked her own grandmother. It was surreal.
Her grandparents only stayed for a glass before making an excuse to leave. At this point, Harmony lifted up her veil and took a good look at her husband. Although Master Bartemius was still present, she exhaled and said boldly, “It’s surprising how much like Sirius and Lady Lestrange you look. Then again, I look almost exactly like my mother except with my father’s coloring and his poor eyesight.”
“You had a very beautiful mother, then,” Master Bartemius commented, “even if she was a Mudblood.”
Harmony looked at him sharply.
Lord Black, however, spoke before she could. “Remember that you are speaking to Lady Black, Master Bartemius. You are a guest in her home and she will always outrank you.”
Master Bartemius was flushed. “Forgive me. I forgot we weren’t among friends.”
Harmony bristled. “And what’s that supposed to mean? Lord Black accepts my heritage.”
“Lord Black accepts the fact that you might be able to cure him—“
Lord Black hissed at him and Master Bartemius instantly became silent. After a moment, he got up and put down his half-empty flute of champagne. “Thank you, Lord Black, Lady Black. May your marriage be filled with happiness.”
Lord Black flicked his hand at him, which seemed to be the signal that Master Bartemius was waiting for, and their guest left them.
Harmony sat on the sofa and took a sip of her champagne. “Where are we exactly?” she asked after a second. It would perhaps be better to stay with innocent questions before she got to know her husband better. Harmony certainly knew she didn’t like people to pry into her personal affairs, especially if they thought they had a right to just because she was the Girl-Who-Lived.
“Berkshire. Near the Muggle Public School Eton.”
“Oh.” That was interesting. “And here is–?” Harmony hadn’t heard the name that was spoken in the floo.
She looked at her husband, who seemed to just be getting handsomer with the more champagne she drank.
She nearly choked. “There’s a Black Castle? But the previous Lord Black, Orion, lived at Grimmauld Place! It’s where Sirius and Heir Regulus grew up!”
“That’s only because Orion, Lord Black fancied a London address. Heaven knows why.” He looked at her earnestly. “Aren’t you going to ask my name?”
Harmony considered. Setting down her glass, she leaned forward toward Lord Black who was sitting on the other side of the couch. She kissed him softly, just to feel it. The touch of lips on lips was intoxicating and Harmony wasn’t sure if she could get enough of him.
When she wasn’t rebuffed, Harmony kissed him again, a little harder. He snaked his good arm around her, and pulled her closer. Kissing her soundly, he breathed against her mouth until she opened her lips slightly. Then, slowly, as if testing her response, he flicked his tongue inside.
Winding her hand into his short hair, Harmony tugged him closer and sighed into the kiss.
Finally pulling away, they smiled at each other. “You were saying, Lord Black?”
He kissed the tip of her nose. “Are you going to ask me my name?”
She pulled him closer until she was pressed against him, her chin tucking against his shoulder. “I think that you’ll tell me when you want to,” she said boldly. “I know the value of true privacy, Lord Black, and hopefully you’ll trust me with your name soon. Either that,” she laughed, “or I’ll find the family tapestry.” Her eyes glanced to the corner of the room where she thought she saw it hanging. “I know it’s no longer at Grimmauld Place. I’ve been there once or twice.”
When Lord Black pulled away, Harmony could hear the rustle of bandages and she wondered at it. Lord Black searched her eyes. “You are a treasure, Lady Black.”
“Don’t think that I won’t ask questions. I was in Gryffindor and I’ve been told I’m stubborn.”
Lord Black called a house elf then, Minxie, who was asked if “Lady’s Black dower has arrived.” It had and was instantly taken to the Mistress’s chamber.
Dorea had once told Harmony that James and Lily had lived together outside of Potter Abbey in a cottage somewhere or other. Dorea had visited once and was surprised that there were only three bedrooms: one for Heir and Heiress James, one for the infant Harmony, and one permanently for guests. Such arrangements were rare in the wizarding world, at least amongst pure-bloods. Lord and Lady Potter had separate wings. James and Enid had separate suites. It appeared that a similar arrangement would occur at Black Castle.
The rest of the afternoon was spent with Lord Black showing Harmony the principle rooms in that wing of the Castle. It turned out that they were in the men’s reading room, which Lord Black frequented in the afternoon. There was also the library, the study, the drawing room which Lord Black had redone in pale blue for her, the morning room where she would write her letters, the breakfast room, the family dining room, the formal dining room, and then the lord’s and lady’s suites.
Before she saw the suites, the new Lord and Lady Black sat down in the family dining room for a light supper. The room was rather cozy though clearly in disuse. It appeared that Lord Black had been in the habit of taking his meals in the library. “All of that will change, though,” he said with a smile, candlelight shining off of his black hair. “This castle hasn’t had a mistress in a very long time.”
They retired to their suites, which were adjoining. Harmony’s were done in shades of dark yellow and gold. They were simply beautiful.
“Black,” she murmured, the name which she had given her husband, “they’re wonderful.”
“I’m glad you approve. They were dark green before and I thought that you might not appreciate that.”
“No, I wouldn’t have,” she agreed.
The portrait of her mother was already hanging over the fireplace in her private sitting room. Minxie was clearly invaluable.
“Well, I’ll leave you to it. Call Minxie if you feel like unpacking, Harmony.”
He began to leave through a set of doors in the bedroom, which apparently led to his suite, but Harmony chased after him. “Lord Black!” she called, then blushed when he turned. His penetrating gray gaze fell on her. He was still leaning on his walking stick. “I,” she swallowed. “Will you come to me tonight or shall I come to you?”
Enid had sat her down the night before and had explained what happened between a witch and a wizard. It sounded terribly uncomfortable, but she would endure it, and her husband was handsome, which she was told would help.
“Oh, I thought I’d let you get settled, Harmony.”
That certainly confused her. They looked at each other for several moments before he left her staring at the door closed between them.
The family magic was different in the Castle than at the Abbey and Harmony couldn’t sleep. She’d unpacked all of her personal trunks, had read a little, and gone to bed by eleven. Now, though, it was three in the morning and she just couldn’t sleep. She felt so alone without the family magics.
An idea swirled in her head. No, she shouldn’t do it. Her husband didn’t want her tonight, she reminded herself. However, she didn’t see any other option.
Getting to her feet, she put on a dressing gown and padded to the adjoining door. She tried the handle. The door opened. Lifting a candle above her head, she took in a room of dark blues, which had no pictures on the walls. That was certainly sensible, she thought.
The walking cane was leaning up against the bedside table and bloodied bandages were in a bowl by the side of the bed.
Harmony paused. Then, steeling her resolve, she stepped forward. Placing the candle down, she reached for Lord Black’s prone form. He was on his side, facing away from her.
Although everything was cast in gray, she noticed that his upper body, which was shirtless, was wrapped in bandages and that there were drops of blood seeping through.
She touched his arm.
He did not move.
She shook his arm and he groaned in his sleep.
“Lord Black,” she murmured. “Are you awake?”
He turned onto his back and gazed up at her. Harmony swallowed. Even through the bandages, she could tell that his lean form was muscled.
“Harmony?” he asked in confusion.
“I can’t sleep,” she explained. “The family magics are strange. I feel—alone,” she admitted. “Could I sleep here? Just sleep. I don’t want to bother you.”
Lord Black looked at her piercingly before he turned over so that he was facing her. He held out an arm and she quickly kicked off her slippers and enfolded herself into his embrace, his strong arm coming around her.
“Blow out the candle,” he instructed.
She was asleep within minutes.
Lord Black was gone in the morning and Harmony noticed that the bloodied bandages had been cleared away. Blinking awake, she sighed. She got out of the bed, looking around at the clean room, and then exited through the adjoining door.
Minxie was waiting for her. Apparently, she had been assigned as Harmony’s personal house elf, and she brushed out Harmony’s hair, leaving it down, and helped button up her red robes.
Harmony made her way to the breakfast room and was surprised to see Lord Black still there. He was reading the morning paper and sipping a cup of tea. “You may want to read this, Harmony,” he said, passing over the society pages. She had just sat down with toast and bacon.
Taking the paper she looked to see the announcement of their marriage. There was also an entire article speculating as to the identity of Lord Black. One guess involved the grandson of a Squib. “I don’t suppose that any of these are true?” she murmured.
“No, they didn’t get it right,” he admitted.
“Ah, a mystery then.” She put blackcurrant jam on her toast. “I take it you won’t be visiting Lady Malfoy with me then later this week,” she half-teased. She had no intention of going anywhere that week.
“I’m afraid not.”
“I didn’t think so.”
Every night Harmony couldn’t sleep and she wandered into her husband’s bedchamber. He would always hold her close but would never make any advances on her. It was quite perplexing.
After a full fortnight had passed where Harmony had spent her time writing poetry in the sprawling gardens and going Pegasus flying, she wrote to her grandmother and asked her over to tea. She wasn’t sure if she could talk to Enid about such a matter. However, if anyone knew how to act, it would be her grandmother.
They were in the drawing room, which was one of the few bright rooms in the castle, sipping at tea, neither saying anything.
“Out with it,” Dorea finally said. “I know something’s bothering you. I’ve always been able to tell.”
“Are Father and Enid going to have another child? I mean, I’m Lady Black and now Meirona is Mistress Meirona, but she’ll be Heiress Draco within the year, so there will be no one to carry on the family name.”
Dorea put down the cup. “I’ll allow the deflection because it’s family business, but Enid is with child. It’s one of the reasons why I seriously considered Lord Black. I would have considered him anyway because he is the preeminent Lord in England and Wales—and Scotland, come to think of it—but his suit became stronger because of that fact.”
“I thought that Father and Enid—that they remained in their separate suites.”
Dorea looked at her pointedly. “They normally do. I only say this because you’re a married woman now, but your father had a little bit too much to drink about four months ago.”
“I—see.” Harmony blushed. Although she had wanted to know, she was still a maiden.
“Now you, duck. What’s bothering you? He’s not cruel otherwise you would have said outright.”
“No, it’s nothing like that.”
“He’s kind to you?”
“Lord Black is nothing but kind, Grandmama.”
“I’m glad to hear it. He struck me as a kind, if reclusive wizard.” She took a sip of her tea. “What is it then?”
“It’s just—he doesn’t visit me at night. I’ve been visiting him because the magic here is so different than at Potter Abbey, but all he does is hold me. Am I doing something wrong?”
Dorea hummed. “Invite him to your rooms tonight and wear that negligée I gave you the day before the wedding. However, you may want to take this time to get to know Lord Black. Then again, you could get into a rut. Invite him. Then owl me tomorrow.” She nodded purposefully.
“I will, Grandmama. Thank you.”
Harmony couldn’t find Lord Black after supper. So, instead, she got dressed as her grandmother instructed and waited for him in his room. At half past midnight she heard the heavy thump of his walking stick and she steeled herself. She reclined on the bed, her hair falling about her face.
He entered the room, breathing heavily. At first he didn’t notice her, but when he did, he sucked in a breath. “Harmony, darling, not tonight.” His hand went involuntarily to his injured side.
“Black,” she said, jumping from the bed and rushing to him. “What’s wrong?” All thoughts of seducing her husband were gone.
“I—it’s nothing. Go to bed, Harmony.”
“I sleep with you. Now, let me see what’s wrong.” She began to push his robes off his shoulder but he stilled her with his hand. “Harmony, you’re not my nursemaid.”
As if slapped, she released the robes and looked up at him through her glasses. “If that’s how you feel.”
She turned to go.
“Harmony, I didn’t mean it like that. Please, dove. Don’t be angry.”
She turned around and saw him looking at her imploringly. He was every bit as handsome as he always was. “Why—why don’t I go get changed and you can come get me when you’re ready for us to go to bed? We can think about—everything else—some other night.”
Lord Black looked relieved. “I’ll only be fifteen minutes.”
If he was more stiff that evening and kept some distance between them in the bed so that she would not rub against his side, Harmony tried not to notice.
It was nearly two weeks after that when Lord Black kissed her just before luncheon. “Why don’t you do that more often?” she murmured against his lips.
“Why don’t I kiss you more?” he asked her, eyebrow cocked.
“Yes,” she stated boldly, taking her seat. “We haven’t kissed since our wedding day.”
He paused. “No, I suppose we haven’t.” Food materialized on their plate. Today it was cold ham. “I didn’t know you wanted to be kissed.”
“Well, I do,” she hummed, taking a slice of ham. “I much prefer your kisses to—“ To Sirius, she was going to say, but that wouldn’t be right.
Lord Black looked up at her. Candles floated in the air above his head, illuminating the room. It was still a bit gloomy, though. “Did you have a Hogwarts dalliance?”
She blushed. “No. No, I’ve never been one for boys. Or girls. I’ve never been one for anyone, actually.”
“But you’ve become one for me,” Lord Black stated, his voice decisive, his finger curling along the rim of his wine glass. Candlelight glinted off of the red liquid. It would have been rather enthralling if not for their present conversation.
Harmony didn’t need to answer. They both knew it was true.
“Whose kisses then?”
She blushed in shame. “I really shouldn’t say. He kissed me—he wanted to influence the matching and, well, it did the opposite. I went and requested hair the opposite of his.”
“Ah,” Lord Black stated, a glint to his gray eyes. “I wondered why suddenly Lady Potter wanted to know if I meant to keep my hair short and how long it had been in the Roman style. It was rather peculiar. But, who, dove? Whoever he was shouldn’t have kissed you. It was amoral—your father should know.”
“Father can’t know,” she stated quickly. “And really, Black, it was nothing.”
“It obviously wasn’t nothing. Tell me, Harmony. Who was it?”
“Sirius Black,” she mumbled into her napkin.
Unfortunately he heard. “Sirius Black? My kin? Your godfather?” His voice was cold, calculated, but it betrayed his anger.
“I never wanted to marry Sirius. He’s my father’s age—“
Lord Black looked at her, startled, especially given the fact that he was about that age himself.
“My father’s best friend,” she amended. “He’s known me since birth. He pranks me. I didn’t want a husband who pranks me.”
“Yes, Sirius used to prank me. Rather horribly. Please tell me he didn’t force himself on you.”
She shook her head. “No. It was just the kiss and it was barely a kiss. I just—I didn’t like it. But that wasn’t the point of this conversation, Black.”
“As stubborn as ever,” he remarked fondly. “I will kiss you more often, Harmony. And you may kiss me whenever we’re in private.”
“We’re always in private,” she deadpanned.
“Then you will have many opportunities.”
Lord Black had to go out that afternoon, rather suddenly, but Harmony didn’t question it. Instead, she floo’d back to Potter Abbey for the first time. Draco was set to propose to Meirona any day now and the house was tense with anticipation.
Dorea pulled her aside to ask her how everything was going, and Harmony said that she thought they were making progress. Actual progress. Kissing was progress, wasn’t it?
Her father was out with Sirius and they didn’t get back until late that afternoon. James was covered in blood and Sirius’s face was bashed in. “The Healers at St. Mungo’s can’t do anything,” James explained. “Apparently the curses used are unregistered.”
“Merlin,” Enid gasped. She was beginning to put on pregnancy weight. “What happened?”
“We were on Vertic Alley when Sirius was pulled into a side gully and curses were cast on him. There were two men—one had a cane—but they were gone as soon as I ran to help. I couldn’t do anything in time. Sirius was just there and then he was gone. I swear it was less than thirty seconds that he was out of my sight.”
Harmony gulped. She was almost certain of exactly what happened. She excused herself rather quickly, saying she didn’t want to get in the way, before she floo’d back to Black Castle.
“Black!” she called as she rushed up the stairs. “Black! Where are you?”
She was passing rooms on the second floor, calling for her husband, not bothering with house elves in her anger, when she found him and Master Bartemius in the reading room.
“What,” she demanded, “were you doing in Vertic Alley attacking wizards in the light of day? You’re lucky no one but my grandparents know that Lord Black walks with a walking stick!”
Master Bartemius snorted into his Single Malt. “She’s got you there, Black. It is a rather identifying feature.”
Harmony ignored him. “Is this because of our conversation at lunch?”
Lord Black swiped his cane against the carpet. “He stole your maiden kiss, Harmony. No wizard has that right. He’s a Black. He knows how sacred it is. I would have let it slide if it were a Hogwarts affair. They happen. We’re all young and Hogwarts romances so often turn into marriages. But this—what he did to you—is despicable.”
Harmony looked into his eyes and saw only sincerity. Despite the fact that Master Bartemius was in the room, Harmony grabbed both sides of Lord Black’s face and kissed him hard. Pulling away, she couldn’t help but smile. “Not even my father would have defended my honor if he had known. I may be the daughter of his dear departed wife, but Sirius is real and alive and his best friend. He’d love to be related to him in any way he could be.”
“Then your father’s a fool,” Lord Black murmured. He turned to his friend. “Bartemius, I’d like a moment alone with Lady Black.”
Master Bartemius knocked back his drink and then exited the room without a word. Harmony’s eyes trailed after him, a question in her look. Lord Black also watched him go, but then his arm was around Harmony and he was kissing her deeply.
When they finally pulled apart, Lord Black brushed back an errant curl from Harmony’s face. “There’s something you’ve been wanting to ask me.”
She blushed. “Yes. It’s just—Heir Neville Longbottom is my godsibling and it was suspected that Lord and Lady Lestrange, along with Master Bartemius, were the ones who tortured Lord and Lady Longbottom into insanity.” It was a tragedy of the wizarding nobility. Frank, Lord Longbottom and his wife Alice were wards of St. Mungo’s, neither knowing their own names or recognizing their own son. The House of Longbottom was left Headless until Lord Longbottom finally died and Heir Neville ascended to the position of Head of the House.
The attack had been sudden, swift, and only a few days after Harmony had defeated the Dark Lord. Death Eaters, angry for He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named’s demise, had attacked a pureblood household that was so opposed against him, perhaps for retribution, perhaps for sport, and the House of Longbottom would never be the same again. A young auror was the first to respond to the scene and he was the one to identify Lord and Lady Lestrange and Master Bartemius Crouch, Jr. before they Apparated away, but it was his word against their alibis, and it hadn’t held up in court.
Harmony bit her lip and looked up at the impassive face of her husband. “He did do it, didn’t he?”
“I was his alibi,” was his only answer. “Have you known me to lie to you?”
“No,” she responded. “But you’d lie for me. That’s entirely different.”
“True. But Barty’s not my wife.”
“No, he’s your best friend.”
“We grew up together,” he conceded. “Although he was in Ravenclaw.”
Harmony, though, was now turning something new over in her mind. “If you were his alibi, then surely the government knew of your existence. How did all of society not know?”
“A well placed bribe and my existence was forgotten. My name appears in a closed file, but nothing else.”
“I—see.” Harmony was not liking any of this at all. “I just—I have some letters to write,” she lied, needing some time to think things over. She turned quickly and left the room.
Master Bartemius was in the smoking room, not smoking, and Harmony paused on the way to the morning room. “I’m sure he’ll see you now,” she said icily after hesitating. He turned toward her. “Lord Black is unoccupied.”
“You’re angry,” he observed. “You were far from angry when I left.”
“I’m not angry,” Harmony replied, smoothing her skirts.
“Don’t give that bullshit to me, Lady Black. I’ve known Lord Black all my life. I know a Black ploy when I see one and your grandmother’s a Black.”
She stared icily at him. “As I said, Lord Black is unoccupied, Master Bartemius.”
Turning to go, he came up behind her. “Look, Black is a decent wizard. He’s always been there for me, for the ones he loves. Did you know he kept Mr. Sirius out of Azkaban when everyone but your father thought he was your secret keeper?”
Harmony spun on her heels. “What?”
“Heir James was in St. Mungo’s, in a coma. You were with your grandparents and they were out for blood. Sirius was stupid and went after the real secret keeper, Mr. Peter Pettigrew, in a street full of Muggles. You’ll remember how that turned out.”
Yes, Harmony more than recollected. Pettigrew blew up the street and twelve Muggles ended up dead. Sirius had initially been blamed. Then there had been a trial—
“Everyone wanted to lock Mr. Sirius up in Azkaban and throw away the key,” Master Bartemius was saying. “However, Black pushed for a trial and he secured one. During it, everything came out about Mr. Peter Pettigrew, the secret, those dead Muggles.”
Harmony was surprised that she hadn’t heard the soft thud of the walking stick on carpets, but she noticed how Master Bartemius was looking over her shoulder.
“Birds of a feather, flock together,” Master Bartemius was now quoting, looking over her shoulder.
Harmony spun around and saw her husband resting against the door, his walking stick held limply in his fingers. “You’re injured!” she murmured in distress, coming up to him and taking the ornate walking stick. It was a dark black and white marble with the head of some gnarled creature on the top of it. Carefully, she reached for her husband’s side and felt the wetness of blood against her fingers.
Ever the hostess, she turned to Master Bartemius and said, “If you’ll forgive me, I fear I have a headache and Lord Black and I will have to retire for the afternoon.”
He swept into a bow. “Of course, Lady Black.” He clapped his hand on Lord Black’s good shoulder as he left and Black patted it in return.
“Moxnos!” Harmony called and Lord Black’s personal house elf appeared. “Get Lord Black to his room. And the bandages. I’ll follow closely.”
“Really, Harmony, Moxnos is more than capable—“
She kissed him silent. “Just because we had an argument does not mean that you weren’t injured fighting for me. Let me take care of you. Let me be your wife.”
The damage was worse than she’d feared. When her husband was stripped down to his trousers she saw that the bandages around his torso were soaked through with blood. “By Merlin,” she murmured, before taking a pair of scissors and carefully cutting through them. What she saw made her sicken into a waste paper basket.
Harmony never thought she would be sick with the sight of blood before, but this was just grotesque. There was a gaping wound on the left side of his ribcage, which exposed the bones and several of his inner organs. It looked like a spear with ragged hooks attached to it had been plunged into his side and pulled back out again. “Is this spell damage?” she asked when she finally got control of herself.
“Yes. The Dark Lord can be very angry when one of his followers defects,” Regulus murmured.
Her eyes naturally glanced to his arm where she saw the outline of the Dark Mark. She had never noticed it before in the darkness of the night. How strange, but it did not repulse her.
“I’m afraid to cast any spells on you for fear of making it worse,” she whispered.
“There’s a blood replenishing potion in the drawer,” he murmured, his eyes closing.
She fished it out. “Hey, Black, stay with me,” she cried a little desperately. She slapped his face and his eyes flew open and focused on hers.
“Harmony. My little Harmony.”
Smiling at him, she propped his head up so that he could take the potion. It seemed to revive him.
They took their evening meal in his room that night, Lord Black with his head in Harmony’s lap. Harmony fed him pieces of fruit and they laughed in between kisses.
“Tell me about your cousins, the Blacks I know.”
“My favorite cousin was Narcissa,” he admitted. “After Andromeda went off and married a Mudblood—“
“A Muggle-born. Forgive me, dove.” He kissed her. “After Andromeda ran away, Narcissa was put in a precarious position. Bella had several suitors, none up to Black standards, but there was still interest in her. Everyone thought that Narcissa was illegitimate because of her fair coloring, so her father always ignored her. Father always ignored me, as well as mother, so we sort of bonded.”
“Why were you ignored?”
“You forget that I wasn’t supposed to be Lord Black,” he laughed. “I was unwanted.”
“Meirona’s only purpose was to be Master Meiron Potter and to secure the line. Instead she was a girl and Father decided it was only right that the daughter of his beloved Lily be the one to carry on the family name. Grandfather never liked it because I’m a half-blood.”
Silence fell over them before Harmony finally asked. “Am I the cure that Master Bartemius was talking about? For your wound?”
“Yes. You defeated the Dark Lord. Perhaps you can defeat his magic.”
Harmony paused. “I don’t see how. I’m not a spell-crafter. I’m sorry.” She looked away.
Lord Black kissed her hand. “It’s cursed—as in an enchantment. All you have to do is break the curse.”
“How can I do that if I don’t know what the enchantment is?”
“Do the heroines of fairy stories ever know how to break the enchantments they do, eventually, break? Just be here, with me, as you have been, Harmony. Why were you named Harmony, by the way? It’s almost a wizarding name—if it were Harmonia.”
“Mother hoped that my birth would bring about harmony between the House of Potter and upstart Muggle-borns like herself. She was a bit naïve, I admit, but the ideal is a beautiful one.”
“It suits you,” he murmured, and then he fell asleep, his arm curled around her knee.
Harmony couldn’t bear to move him so she rested herself against the pillows and drifted off to sleep with her husband clinging to her.
It became a ritual of theirs. Every night Harmony would unwrap the bloody bandages from her husband’s torso and then sleep in his arms, and then every morning he would kiss her awake and they would have breakfast in bed, just the two of them, before they would ready for the morning. Candles would always float above them and would magically extinguish when they were ready to go to sleep.
Strangely, over time, Harmony thought the wound got better and better and every day she became a little more and more devoted to her husband.
Harmony began to call her husband “Star” when they were in private, just as he called her “dove.” “You must be named after a star,” she mused one day over luncheon. “All male Blacks are.”
“Not all of them,” he quipped, laughing at her.
“Are you saying you’re not?”
“Not necessarily?” he smiled at her. His smile was so unlike Sirius’s. Sirius’s was always full of mischief and the promise of more to come. Her husband’s was honest, which seemed strange since he was in Slytherin as most Blacks were. Harmony had found a picture of him on the Slytherin Quidditch team. She didn’t recognize any of the other players and so didn’t think to ask about them.
With her husband’s blessing, she floo’d to Malfoy Manor once the engagement between her sister and Heir Draco was announced. “Lady Malfoy,” she greeted happily, her face half-hidden in a veil she had begun to favor once she was married. It was an archaic practice but the Castle, as well as Lord Black, was archaic by extension. “Such happy news.” She fought not to curtsey. She was Lady Malfoy’s superior in society now.
Lady Malfoy offered her a slight bob before the two women embraced.
“When Draco first asked Meirona to Hogsmeade all those years ago I knew that it meant something important was going on. He never does anything by halves.” She smiled at her old school rival.
“You know me too well, Harmony,” he said after a slight bow. “I wanted to gift you with this. I had a friend of mine take it when I was proposing.”
Harmony took a box, which revealed a framed picture of a photograph of Draco kneeling on one knee and offering a Malfoy bonding ring to her elated sister. “Thank you. I’ll be sure to display this in my drawing room,” she murmured. She realized quite suddenly that there were no pictures of her with her husband. There was just her wedding photograph, which Lord Black had on his desk.
“And where is Lord Black?” Lady Lacerta asked, inserting herself into the conversation. “I thought that we would have the pleasure of his esteemed company.” Her voice showed just how unesteemed she thought his company would prove to be. The natural light in the bright room shone off of her platinum blonde hair.
“Lacy,” her mother chided. “This is not the time.”
“No,” Draco agreed. “But I’m sure we all want to hear about the wedding.” His voice was a little strained.
“Well, it was traditional,” she stated, holding out her hand to display the slash across the palm of her hand. “It was all rather formal. Grandmama and Grandfather were with me and Master Bartemius Crouch, Jr., was with Lord Black.”
Lady Malfoy’s head whipped round. “Master Bartemius? The Undersecretary of the Minister’s son?”
“Yes,” Harmony stated. “I was rather surprised myself. He’s not been an irregular guest to the Castle since the wedding.”
“How—interesting,” Lady Malfoy said, clearly at a loss for words. “And where is your place of residence? It cannot be Grimmauld Place. Sirius lives there.”
“Yes, I have no idea why,” she pondered out loud. “We live at Black Castle in Berkshire.”
All of the Malfoys looked startled. “I’ve never been,” Lady Malfoy admitted. It was then that Lord Malfoy entered the room. “Oh, Lucius, dear, Lady Black has come to congratulate Draco on his engagement.”
“I was hoping to catch you, Lady Black,” he said with a bow of his own. He held out a letter. “I wanted to send Lord Black a letter of friendship given our close association.”
Harmony took the missive. “I’ll be sure to give it to him.”
Lady Malfoy licked her lips. “Forgive my curiosity, but he is a kinsman of mine. Who is he?”
“Lord Black is who he says he is—Lord Black.” It was the only answer she could give, as unsatisfying as it might seem.
“Perhaps this Christmas we will have an engagement dinner. Then I shall see my kinsman in the flesh,” Lady Malfoy mused.
Harmony highly doubted it. Her star rarely showed himself to anyone.
It was a few weeks later that Heir and Heiress James announced the impending birth of the next Potter.
“Please come with me,” Harmony begged as she picked out the appropriate jewels of her station to wear to the private family gathering.
“I do not leave the Castle or its grounds,” Lord Black responded. “You must content yourself with that, dove. You did not marry a social man.”
“Yes, but everyone’s beginning to think you’re a ghost,” she argued a bit desperately. “Wouldn’t you like to walk into a room with me on your arm?”
“You are so much more than an ornament,” he answered, fastening a necklace of sapphires around her neck. She was once again wearing a veil.
“What about when we go on our wedding tour?” she countered, looking at him through the mirror. It was traditional for a couple to go on a wedding tour a year after their wedding. “You’ll have to be seen with me then.”
“I thought we’d go to the continent. Have you ever seen Norway?”
She turned in her seat. “Norway?” she breathed. “How did you know I wanted to go to Norway?”
“I am not blind, Harmony. You pray to the old Norse gods instead of the old Celtic ones. Is it because your stepmother is Welsh?”
She blushed. That was exactly the reason. In a fit of pique when she was seven years old she decided to worship the gods of the Angles and the Saxons instead of those of the Celtic peoples. Enid meant well, but she had been chiding Harmony for not sitting like a proper pure-blood lady.
“I thought as much,” he chuckled. “You will forgive me for praying to the traditional pure-blood gods, Harmony. We can, however, raise the children in whatever fashion you choose.”
She grasped his hand, which was resting on her shoulder, and kissed it. “Thank you, Star, thank you.”
Harmony began to entertain in the Castle. She first invited Enid and Dorea over. They had to arrive via carriage because of Enid’s delicate condition. She couldn’t floo or Apparate for fear of losing the baby. However, Charlus was with them.
He looked about the room. “There are no pictures of Lord Black, I see.”
“That’s entirely unfair,” Harmony stated, going up to the mantle where there was a sketch in profile of a young man. She’d insisted that Lord Black dig it up for her. “This is Lord Black.” The sketch was shaded so his features were hardly visible to those who didn’t know him, but it was unmistakably her husband.
“Could be anyone,” he huffed. “Dorea, who was he? You’re a Black!”
She looked a little trapped. “I really couldn’t say. You know I was horrible at keeping my nephews and nieces apart and it was only the fact that Narcissa became Lady Malfoy that I was able to recognize her as my great-niece.”
Charlus harrumphed. “Really, Dorea. You’ve seen the man. Is he even a Black or some off-shoot through a maternal line?”
“That’s like asking if Harmony’s a Potter! She looks exactly like Lily except for her hair!”
Enid looked rather uncomfortable at this. Her own daughter looked the spitting image of James down to his hazel eyes. The only difference was that her hair was a bit straighter.
“Well, is he a Black or isn’t he?”
“He most certainly is,” Harmony put in, deathly quiet. “He looks just like Sirius only—handsomer. You saw him at the bonding.”
Charlus harrumphed again. “You can hardly see in this lighting. All these blasted candles hovering and casting shadows. It’s a wonder your eyesight hasn’t worsened, Harmony.”
Silence enveloped the group of Potters until finally Enid, timid Enid, had the courage to speak. “Your father sends his greetings. He was still a little shocked to learn that you were marrying Lord Black and didn’t want to disturb.”
“You mean he and Uncle Sirius are licking their wounds,” Harmony noted perceptively. “If it had to be a Black, both of them would have rather it have been Padfoot.” The familiar pet name fell off her tongue without a second thought, but she cringed when she heard the thump of the familiar walking stick against the carpet.
“Yes, I forgot that’s what his friends called him. After his animagus form, wasn’t it?” Lord Black asked conversationally.
Enid’s mouth dropped open while Harmony spun around. “How could you possibly know that?”
“It wasn’t exactly a secret among some of the Blacks. He wasn’t all that careful.—Forgive me, ladies, for interrupting.” Everyone rose on cue and Enid and Dorea offered a curtsey, Enid’s lower than her mother-in-law’s. Charlus begrudgingly bowed.
“Obviously Prongs is your father,” he spoke now to Harmony, “and Mr. Peter Pettigrew or Wormtail is in jail, but whatever happened to Remus Lupin, the fourth friend?”
Yes, Remus Lupin. The Muggle who was bitten by a werewolf and thereby got magical powers, becoming a wizard in the process.
“I have no idea,” Dorea put in. “Do you know, Enid?”
Enid squeaked. “I think he went travelling.” At least, that was the official story. Harmony overheard her father telling Enid once that Remus had joined a werewolf community in France.
“The real question is,” Charlus put in, “why my granddaughter is still wearing the veil of a bride. And don’t give me the tripe she told Lady Malfoy about following the Old Ways. Harmony has never been one for traditionalism.”
Lord Black looked over to Harmony who was indeed wearing a veil. It was light blue, short, and covered only her eyes. She cringed. She had been wearing it in a form of traditionalism, but had she also been donning one each time she was seen in public as a sign of her status as an unbedded bride?
“Now Dorea tells me that over a month ago Harmony sought her out because the marriage had not yet been consummated and she thought there was something wrong with her. Lady Potter never received any word that it had been. What is this all about, Lord Black?”
Harmony’s ire rose. “How dare you question Lord Black on such a matter!—and if such a—topic—had been discussed, it was only done so in confidence.”
“My wife and I have no secrets,” Charlus explained. Well, that was the last time that Harmony ever trusted her grandmother.
“No, dove, it’s quite all right,” Lord Black placated. “I would rather he ask me than you.”
“I’d rather he ask nobody at all,” she muttered into her teacup.
“Surely,” Enid put in, “the marriage has been consummated. Harmony is as beautiful as her mother. It would be madness to think otherwise.”
Harmony sent her stepmother a thankful smile. It was the first kind thing she had ever said about Harmony’s appearance, or about Lily’s for that matter.
“You’ll be happy to know, Lord Potter,” Lord Black was now saying, “that Harmony spends every night in my bed and I am in a state of undress. Does that satisfy you?”
“Hardly,” Charlus stated. “You’re simply evading the question.”
“Well, it’s all the answer you’re going to get from either of us. Now, I believe that all of this commotion has given Lady Black a headache and she needs some rest. Moxnos will show you to the floo.” He held out his arm for Harmony and after quickly air kissing her stepmother and grandmother goodbye, she walked up to her husband and placed her hand on top of his. Their arms pressed together and they walked straight-backed from the room.
Her next visit was, surprisingly, with the Muggle-born Hermione Granger. Muggle-borns in wizarding society held no title. Only the ones who read up on wizarding culture knew that they must bow to every pure-blood and most half-bloods, and Hermione was one such individual.
The two had been friends of a sort at Hogwarts and had shared a dorm room. While Harmony had gravitated toward her godsibling Heir Neville Longbottom, Hermione was her next closest companion. She didn’t gossip over wizarding fashion like the other girls, and didn’t pander to her because of her place in wizarding society.
Rising from her curtsey, Hermione rushed forward to give her friend a hug. “I’ve read all about it, Harmony. You’re second only to the Queen in wizarding society.”
“I know. Isn’t it odd? I knew from a young age that there was a great possibility that I would by Lady Potter if my father never had a son, but that would have been a little bit removed. I would never be Lady Black or Lady Malfoy, for instance.”
“No,” Hermione agreed. “Congratulations to your sister, by the way. I hope she’ll be very happy with Malfoy.”
The two giggled, their rocking shadows hovering against the candlelit walls.
“I can just imagine her face when she read The Daily Prophet and saw who I’d married. I know she was secretly gleeful over having seniority over me if she married Malfoy, and now I’m above her in the ranks. Of course, she gets to enjoy being Mistress Meirona for half a year.”
“Here, I brought you something,” Hermione said quickly, blushing. “I got it from a strange shop in Knockturn Alley. Don’t look at me like that,” she added at Harmony’s reproachful gaze. “It’s a book about the life of every Lord Black. It only updates once a Lord Black dies, so it ends with Orion Black, but I thought you might like it.”
The book was certainly old, with a molding cover but Harmony could see flecks of gold plate on it. “Thank you, Hermione,” she whispered, flipping through the pages. She noticed some female names. “Does it record the lives of the Ladies Black?”
“In less detail, but yes,” she agreed. “You’ll be in there one day.”
The two talked about Hermione’s job at the ministry and her engagement to Mr. Ronald Weasley, which would earn her a title that meant next-to-nothing, but it was a title nonetheless.
Finally, they parted, without Lord Black making a mysterious entrance. Harmony saw him, however, at dinner.
“How was your friend?” he asked.
“Well. She gave me a book about the House of Black. It’s absolutely fascinating. I’ve been reading up on Orion, Lord Black. His wife seems to have been a bit of a nightmare.”
He laughed outright. “Yes, she was.”
“So you were close to the family, then?”
“You could say that,” he admitted.
She shifted her peas around on her plate. “Star, why do you allow Uncle Sirius to live at Grimmauld Place? It’s your house, after all, and he has enough money from his Uncle Alphard.”
“That’s true, but I don’t need the property. If later you want a presence in London, then we can always come to a new arrangement.”
“He knows about you then.” How odd. He had never said anything.
“No, well, now he does.” He took a bite of his pheasant pie. “Obviously.”
“I wonder how his face is.” The last time she had seen it was just after the incident, and it looked horrendous then. Harmony wondered if Sirius would ever have a handsome face again. Surely all those spells would scar his entire face beyond recognition. One scar was dashing, several were a tragedy.
“Probably scarred for life,” Lord Black answered happily. “And don’t look at me like that.”
Harmony glanced away. “I wasn’t looking at you a particular way.” This was, of course, a lie, but he didn’t need to know that.
He did, fortunately, change the subject. “Why don’t you have your godbrother around? You’ve had your family and now your Mudblood friend. It seems only right.”
Harmony let the insult to her friend slide. She had gotten used to it after two months of marriage, mainly from Master Bartemius, of course, but occasionally from her own husband. “You knew she was a Muggleborn and you still let her on the premises?”
“She’s a friend of the Lady of the House. She has not offended me in any way or committed a faux pas in society apart from her unfortunate birth. However, I have it on very good authority that she’s marrying a pure-blood, so all will be forgiven.”
“I—“ She closed her mouth. “I thought you would not approve of a gentleman caller. I understood it from Enid that most new husbands don’t until after the first or second heir is born.” Her mind flitted back to that humiliating conversation about marriage and the marital bed, but she quickly turned her thoughts back to her husband and the conversation at hand.
“Well, he’s your godbrother. Invite that grandmother of his. What is her name?”
“Augusta, the Dowager Lady Longbottom.”
“She will ensure propriety,” he remarked. “Now, eat, dove. You haven’t touched your food.”
Harmony looked down at her plate and the odd way it was shadowed in the candlelight.
She was cleaning his wound a few nights later when she noticed that it was, in fact, getting better. Kissing him in relief, they fell onto his bed, bandages firmly in place. “Star,” she murmured between kisses, “surely now?” Her husband was so dear to her, and she wanted to be his so badly, but he only shook his head.
“No, dove. I’m not well. Not yet.”
“But—“ she tried to reason, but he simply removed her hand, which had roamed to his bandaged chest.
“Dove, the last thing we want is for me to start bleeding.”
She looked down in shame. “You must have known that I’m not a spell-crafter when we married. Why did you marry me if not to beget an heir? I know you saw my picture. It was in the paper.”
“Yes, and I saw how enchanting you were, with your smile and your glasses.”
Blushing, she didn’t let herself be deterred. “How did you convince Grandmama to overlook your limp? I know Grandfather wasn’t pleased.”
“No. He wasn’t,” Lord Black agreed. “I simply told her it was an injury from the war. That’s all that needed to be said.”
Harmony ran her hand through his hair. “Promise me that you at least desire me. That I’m not hideous to you. That when you’re cured—“ She blushed again.
“I promise, my darling. Words cannot explain how much I have come to love you.”
She wished she could say the words back, especially when his gray eyes searched her gaze so she did the only thing she could do. She kissed him deeply, hushing him silent, until she fell asleep once again in his arms, wondering what it would be like to really be his.
Harmony was surprised when, on the day she was expecting Neville and Dowager Longbottom, Lady Lestrange waltzed into the room. Her striking profile was cast in half-shadows from the roaring fire and the hovering candles that populated the air of the room. Harmony actually gaped. Quickly standing though her fingers were so lax from surprise that she dropped her book of Byron’s poetry, she waited for the woman to curtsey to her.
Instead, Lady Lestrange explained, “My husband came to see Lord Black.”
She still waited. Finally she said, “Aren’t you going to curtsey, Lady Lestrange?”
The woman looked at her contemptuously and then lowered herself into a shallow bob. She then walked forward and offered her hand. “So you’re the witch who finally caught my darling cousin’s attention. I’d been despairing for years.”
“Have you?” Harmony said, taking a seat.
Lady Lestrange reached down and plucked the book of poetry from Harmony’s skirts. “Lord Byron. Is he Muggle?” She handed it over without waiting for a response. “How odd.”
She seated herself and looked Harmony over with a critical gaze. “Well at least your grandmother’s a Black. I haven’t seen Aunt Dorea in years. How is the old battleaxe?”
“Perfectly well, thank you,” Harmony stated coolly. “I must admit I’m surprised to see you here. I was under the impression that no one knew my husband’s identity.”
Lady Lestrange looked her over. “Yes. Lord Black did tell us that he hadn’t told you yet. I’m the only Black who knows. Not Cissy, or Sirius, and of course not Dromeda.”
“Andromeda was blasted off the family tapestry according to Uncle Sirius,” Harmony remarked. “However did she meet this Tonks fellow? Hogwarts?”
“No,” Lady Lestrange—Bellatrix—said, pursing her lips. “He was much older than her and a conductor of the Knight Bus. She had to take it one night because she misplaced her wand and couldn’t get to a floo. Again. She was always doing that.” She sighed. “Somehow a romance was born. I have no idea if she ever regretted it.”
“No, I suppose not. Perhaps you’ve heard, my sister, Mistress Meirona Potter, is marrying—“
“My whelp of a nephew, Heir Draco Malfoy,” Bellatrix finished. “There’s going to be a dinner for family. Cissy was talking about inviting Dromeda’s daughter—she has a daughter—though Dromeda, of course, isn’t allowed in polite society.” It was strange, Harmony’s father, as the Heir to an Ancient House could bring his Muggleborn wife into the fold, but Lady Andromeda could not bring her Muggleborn husband. She had to give up her title and rank and become simply Andromeda Tonks. Then again, she was also disinherited. Her daughter, similarly, had no title.
“Any news on Lady Lacerta? Is she to be married soon?” Harmony asked in polite interest. She doubted that anything had happened in the past weeks, but one never knew.
Bellatrix’s gray eyes brightened. “There is actually news. Lucius—Lord Malfoy—is entering into a marriage contract with the Dowager Longbottom.”
Harmony swallowed. That couldn’t be true. Sweet and trusting Neville couldn’t be saddled with cunning and cruel Lady Lacerta Malfoy. But of course Dowager Lady Longbottom would see it as a good match. It was a great match. The Longbottoms were one of the middle houses and the Malfoys were second only to the Blacks! Augusta wouldn’t care about Neville’s happiness. That would be tertiary to her own greed for her House and having Neville settled at last.
Hopefully Bellatrix was wrong. She had to be wrong.
When Neville and Augusta finally arrived, Bellatrix still being present, Harmony drew Neville over to a secluded window seat while the other two ladies made polite small talk that had thinly veiled contempt behind it.
“Nev, please tell me it’s not true,” Harmony begged.
“If what’s not true?” His eyes betrayed that he knew exactly what Harmony was talking about, which saddened her. They had never lied to each other, not even when they were children.
The lines of his face were stark in the half-light, Harmony noticed, candles hovering all around them.
“You and Lady Lacerta. I heard from Lady Lestrange.” She looked at him imploringly.
He sighed. “I’m afraid it’s true. The contract is almost completely ironed out. I expect it will be all settled by Yule. On the bright side I’ll see you at the Malfoy gathering celebrating your sister’s engagement over break.” At least he tried to bring some levity to the situation. “That reminds me, Harmony. Will you serve as chaperone for our few dates that we’ve decided to go on to get to know one another better? We don’t have Hogwarts weekends and dozens of students to count on, and I can’t stand the thought of Gran or even Lady Malfoy—“
Harmony squeezed his hand. “You can always count on me, Nev.” A hovering candle got a little too close to her and made her hot, so she got out her wand and sent it a little higher.
She explained the whole entirely dreadful situation to Lord Black that evening as she dressed his wound, which was still getting better, thank Merlin!
“I just can’t bear to see Neville unhappy and she’s horrible, Star. Simply horrible.”
“Arranged marriages are the stuff of pure-blood society,” Lord Black tried to soothe. “Our marriage was arranged and we worked out.”
“Yes, but our marriage was based off of compatibility as well as dynastic considerations. This is purely dynastic.”
Lifting her up by her elbows, Lord Black embraced her, shadows playing across their skin. She clung to him desperately. Thank the gods that he had been the wonderful wizard that he was and not some ogre!
“Have faith, dove. Hopefully both of them want this to work, and then they will hopefully find a way.”
He distracted her with kisses and his hands on her hips felt hot and glorious and she wanted more, but she couldn’t say more of what exactly.
With Lord Black’s blessing, Harmony attended Hermione’s wedding. It was a subdued affair. There was a smattering of Ministry Officials due to Mr. Ronald’s father’s position in the Misuse for Muggle Artifacts Office, and there were of course Hermione’s parents and younger Muggle sister, Elissa. Apparently there had been great debate over whether Elissa’s fiancé would be invited, but in the end David McDonald was seen as too much of an “outsider,” being not a proper member of the family, so Elissa went stag.
Because of Harmony’s attendance, there was a reporter from The Daily Prophet who took a photo with her and Hermione, asking her about her relationship with the bride and whether or not she knew the groom. Then he asked her a pointed question, “The Blacks are known to be against Muggle incursions into the wizarding world. How does Lord Black view your presence here today? I notice his absence.”
“Lord Black never goes to any society functions,” Harmony explained. “He hasn’t since before he became Lord Black, you can quote me on that. As to Muggles, I believe he believes in an insular society, but he recognizes the fact that Mrs. Ronald Weasley was my dorm-mate at Hogwarts and, therefore, an integral part of my childhood.”
“Will a mere Mr. and Mrs. be dining at the Black residence in the future?”
“As I said, my husband is not one for society functions. Mrs. Ronald, however, has been my guest at Black Castle for tea.”
The first date between Heir Neville and Lady Lacerta was at The White Witch, an exclusive restaurant in the heart of magical London, which was only for purebloods from the highest-ranking families. The Longbottoms just qualified. Before her ascension to the title of Lady Black, only the fact that Harmony was in direct succession for the title of Lady Potter allowed her entrance despite her tainted status as a half-blood.
However, here she sat with Lacerta on one side and Neville on the other.
“Could Lord Black not make it?” Neville asked innocently. “We could have made it a double date.”
Harmony thought of Lord Black and how he was shut away in his study with his butterfly collection. “I’m afraid I will have to suffice as your only chaperone.” She looked over the menu. “I think I’ll have the escargot. I haven’t had that in awhile.”
“You haven’t had it at Black Castle?” Lacerta asked cruelly. “We had it at the Manor just last week.”
“Well, we eat what we raise and grow off the land,” Harmony responded. “Lord Black takes pride in the agriculture of his estate. It is rather large, after all.” For once she wasn’t wearing a veil. If her picture made it into The Daily Prophet, she didn’t want her grandfather getting any ideas.
Neville and Lacerta barely said a word to one another. Harmony ended up having to make all the conversation herself. She returned home, exhausted, and ready to collapse in her private sitting room.
However, Minxie called her away to the drawing room.
“Father,” she exclaimed excitedly when she saw who it was. She lunged into his waiting arms and held on hard. “I haven’t seen you in so long.”
“Yes, well, I wasn’t certain if I’d be well received in Lord Black’s Castle,” he admitted with a small grin. “Oh, Harmony, you grow more beautiful every time I see you. Doesn’t she, Padfoot?”
Harmony hadn’t seen him at first, so she was surprised when Sirius unfolded himself from the settee. His black hair hung lank around his face, which was badly scarred as if he had been attacked by a ravaging beast. She would not have recognized him except for the fact that he was wearing his favorite robes.
Knowing that Lord Black would not want her in the same room as Sirius, she instantly called for Minxie. “Fetch Lord Black, and I don’t care if he says he’s indisposed or busy, and bring tea for four. If Lord Black proves difficult, tell him that Mr. Sirius Black is here.” The little house elf was gone with a pop, and Harmony turned back to her father.
“Why are you here? Not that I’m not glad to see you, it’s just such a surprise.”
“Darling, Enid lost the child.”
The news hit her in the gut. “There will be other children,” she said defensively, knowing they could be here for no good reason.
“Darling,” James was saying, and there was that clunk, clunk, clunk in the hallway. “There will be no more children.”
“Is there something wrong with Enid? Complications?”
James paused for far too long. “No.”
Harmony reared back as if slapped. “You can’t be suggesting what I think you’re suggesting. You need another heir otherwise Meirona can’t marry Heir Draco, and I know you don’t want that. You know they’re a love match, like you and Mother were.”
Sirius sucked in his breath and Harmony looked around James to see Sirius looking as if he was gazing on a ghost. She glanced between Sirius and her husband. Obviously Sirius recognized him.
“Father, Uncle Sirius, this is my husband, Lord Black,” she introduced formally. “Lord Black, Heir James Potter and Mr. Sirius Black.”
James now looked like he’d seen a ghost as well.
“You’re walking on a cane,” Sirius finally said. “The man who attacked me walked on a cane.”
“Really?” Lord Black drawled. “What a coincidence. Lady Black,” he bowed to her slightly. “Perhaps you would like to freshen up before dinner.”
“Wait right there,” James commanded. “He,” pointing his finger at Lord Black, James spat out, “cannot be your husband.”
“Whatever do you mean?” she asked, pausing. “I assure you that he is.”
“He’s a Death Eater!” Sirius bellowed. “And more than that—“
“Shut. Up.” It was the first cross word she had ever said to her father, though she had had words with Sirius before. “I won’t hear a word against him.”
“Dove,” Lord Black murmured as she was standing close enough to him to hear, “perhaps you can leave this to the gentlemen?”
“I—yes,” she said. “Goodbye, Father, Uncle Sirius.”
She picked up her robes and walked over to her husband. Kissing him on the cheek, she whispered, “Don’t let them force you to admit the marriage has not been consummated. Please, Star.” Then in a whisper of skirts she was gone.
They didn’t talk about it over dinner and it wasn’t until they were lying in bed that Lord Black whispered, “You were right to get me.”
She snuggled closer. “I’m glad. I didn’t think you’d want me near Uncle Sirius.”
“I didn’t,” he confessed. “I never want you near him in the future if I can help it. He stole what is rightfully a husband’s and tried to influence the matching process, which is a great offence. I could have him brought up on charges by the Wizengamot.”
“Then why don’t you?” Her voice was smaller than she would have liked, and she berated herself for it.
“He’s kin,” was the only answer she was given. After several minutes he said, “They want an annulment so that you will become Lady Potter. They believe the marriage has not been consummated.”
“Well, I’ll never say otherwise,” Harmony huffed. “I know there are no spells that can prove it. No legal ones anyway.”
“They’ll try to appeal to your sense of family, duty, honor. They won’t just give up. The fact that you’re not yet with child even with the help of Mother Magic—“ It was a well known fact that witches within the first few months of marriage became with child due to magic’s interference. She had been married for two and a half months with no sign of a child on the way. It was damning evidence.
“I hate this!” Harmony hissed, turning in his arms so that she could look into his gray, beautiful eyes. She loved him. She could admit that to herself now. Kissing him desperately, she pulled him close to her, her hands with their long fingers finding their way into his hair. “I won’t let them take you from me,” she promised. “Not unless you want me to go.” Because I’m useless, she thought. Your wound is getting better, but it’s not healed.
“No,” he breathed against her cheek. “I love you, my dove. I love you.”
Looking into his gray eyes, speckled with candlelight, she wanted to say the words back, but it was too soon. She had only just realized, just now—and she wanted to be sober when she admitted her love. She didn’t want it to be in the heat of passion when he might doubt the validity of her words.
They held each other close and if she wept against his shoulder in the night, he did not reproach her.
The second date between Neville and Lady Lacerta was more casual. Harmony suggested they go to Florean Fortescue’s for she had yet to meet someone who didn’t like ice cream. She had agreed to meet Lacerta at Black Castle before Apparating with her to Diagon Alley.
She had rather forgotten the time, so she was in Lord Black’s study, admiring his collection of magical beetles. “This one,” Lord Black said over her shoulder, “is from South America. It’s called—“
“Mistress,” Minxie announced. “Lady Lacerta Malfoy be here.”
The two turned to see Lacerta looking hesitant in the doorway. It was clear she had never been in a wizard’s inner sanctum, which was his study, before. She curtsied deeply to the two of them. “Forgive me, Lord Black, Lady Black, it is only that it’s time—“
“Oh!” Harmony’s laughter like chimes filled the room. She glanced at the grandfather clock. “Forgive me, I lost track of the time. Lady Lacerta Malfoy, my husband, Lord Black.” Lacerta curtsied again and Lord Black nodded to her in recognition. Harmony grabbed her purse from the desk. She was wearing periwinkle blue today. “I’ll take you to the Apparition room, Lady Lacerta.”
“Of-of course.” She curtsied again. “Lord Black.”
Harmony pressed her hand in his in farewell.
When they left the study Lacerta breathed out in relief. “Your husband—he’s certainly—handsome.”
“No arch words?”
“No,” she admitted, looking over at Harmony. “You’re a very lucky witch.”
Harmony laughed. “Thank you, I like to think I am.”
The date was not as successful. Lacerta barely touched her ice cream and Neville tried to interest her in flowers. It was a lost cause. “Did you know that the red rose is called Rosa rosa?”
“Doesn’t that rather defeat the purpose, naming it twice?”
“It simply denotes that it is the most common type of rose.”
“Are you saying I’m common?”
“I—I never said you were a rose.” Neville looked down at his ice cream. It was just the right temperature out of doors so they weren’t too cold and their ice cream remained frozen.
“But you were implying it. Doesn’t your poet say, Harmony, that one’s lips are like a red, red rose?”
“It’s ‘O my Luve’s like a red, red rose, / That’s newly sprung in June.’ The poet is Robert Burns. He’s a Muggle.”
“What is it with you and Muggle poetry?” Lacerta asked archly, completely ignoring poor Neville.
“They write better than wizards,” Harmony responded honestly. “Now, your mother’s named Narcissa. What’s your favorite flower?”
“Hemerocallis fulva,” Neville supplied. “I could plant some in my garden, if you like.”
“Don’t you have house elves to do that?”
The conversation just got worse from there.
Harmony flopped onto the bed in Lord Black’s room in a set of pajamas. Candles floated in the air, just beyond the canopy. “It’s like she’s trying not to like him,” she stated. “Perhaps she thinks he’s too far beneath her.” Harmony had finished redressing Lord Black’s wound, kissing the bandage once it was done up, and he was just now entering the room, having gotten changed into his sleep trousers in his bathroom.
“Perhaps she does think he’s beneath her,” he suggested. “She’s a Malfoy and he’s a Longbottom. Ideally, if you’d had a brother, she’d marry him.”
“Yes, if only Mother hadn’t died and had a son. You know, she was pregnant when she was killed? He was going to be named Henry.”
Lord Black carded his fingers through her hair. “A tragedy.” He kissed her shoulder. “I’m truly sorry.”
“Why—why did you become a Death Eater?” she asked, kissing his fingers tenderly. “I just want to understand you better. Understand us.”
“The Blacks have always been a dark family,” he explained, a far off look in his eye. “I wanted my parents to—love me, I suppose. I’ve always wanted to be loved.” At that she reached forward and traced the lines of his face. She couldn’t say the words, however. Not yet. It was all too new and terrifying. He cleared his throat, looking away from her. “So, to gain their approval, I became a Death Eater.”
“How horrible,” she murmured.
“Yes, it was just that: horrible. I found out that the Dark Lord was prolonging his life by means of dark magical artifacts. I destroyed the three I found—the only three it turned out that there were—and for that I gained the wound in my side. He meant to give me a slow and agonizing death.”
“But you’re getting better,” she murmured. “You’re healing.”
“Yes,” he agreed, turning back towards her. “You’re making me better.” And he kissed her softly then, and she lost herself in his kisses and fell asleep contentedly in his arms that night.
Harmony was in the morning room, answering a letter from Lavender Brown, when Minxie came and informed her that her father and grandfather had come to visit her. She immediately made her way to the drawing room, and saw James holding out the sketch of Lord Black to Charlus.
“See, look how much he looks like Sirius, Father!”
He harrumphed in response.
They both turned when she cleared her throat daintily. She expected James to open his arms to her, but instead he held the picture and looked at her piercingly. “Did you know?” he asked, accusation laced in his voice.
“Who cares if she knew?! The question is whether or not the marriage has been consummated!” Charlus roared.
“Father, Grandfather, what an unexpected surpr—“
“Don’t play the pure-blood hostess with me, Harmony,” her grandfather bellowed. “Is the marriage consummated? We need a Lord and Lady Potter!”
“Then tell Meirona not to get married to Heir Draco or have him sign a contract that will make him Heir Meirona and later Lord Potter! Goodness knows, Lacerta can become Lady Longbottom so that line doesn’t die out and I’m sure that Iolanthe can become Lady Malfoy! Leave me out of it. I’m married, for Merlin’s sake!”
“But the marriage isn’t consummated,” Charlus put in snidely.
“How dare you suggest such a thing!” she tried desperately.
“Darling,” James tried to explain. “You need not stay in a loveless relationship with a Death Eater if the marriage isn’t consummated. I know Regulus told Mother that he fought He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named, but that’s just semantics.”
Harmony reared back as if slapped. “Did you just say ‘Regulus’?”
“Yes,” her father explained patiently. “Regulus Arcturus Black.”
“Padfoot’s younger brother? Isn’t he, well, dead?” But then Harmony remembered. Only the house elf had said he was dead and the tapestry (before it mysteriously disappeared) never confirmed it. He was Heir Regulus Black so, of course, after his father’s death he would become Lord Black. You-Know-Who had also killed him with a slow acting curse that only now was showing signs of remission, because she, apparently, was breaking the enchantment of it…
“I told you she didn’t know, Father,” James was now saying to Charlus. He turned again to his shell-shocked daughter. “Yes, he’s Sirius’s horrible younger brother.”
Harmony was instantly on the defensive. “Who says he’s horrible? Sirius? Because Sirius thinks anyone who doesn’t joke or prank is the worst kind of offender. And I know for a fact that Sirius used to prank Lord Black cruelly.”
“We are not debating the merits of your husband,” Charlus put in. At James’s look, he amended, “I am not debating his merits. However, Harmony, if your marriage has not been consummated, then it can be annulled and we can find you a new Lord Potter. No one will fault you.” Everyone would fault her, though. She just knew they would. Also, and more to the point, Harmony didn’t want the marriage annulled.
She sucked in a deep breath. “He has a freckle, on the back of his left shoulder, that looks a little like a crescent moon. Now, how would I know that if the marriage had not been consummated?” She looked them boldly in the eye. Charlus looked stunned. James looked upset. “You’re going to have to find a new Heir, because it won’t be me.”
“You can’t be married to Regulus Black, darling,” James pleaded softly. “It would have broken your mother’s heart.”
“I don’t—I don’t—“ She sucked in a deep breath. “You’re lying. I’ll prove it to you!”
She had seen the Black Tapestry, poking out behind a curtain in the reading room behind a shelf, just where no one would notice it. However, she had, on her wedding day. Harmony hadn’t disturbed it because it was her husband’s private business. He had never once asked her about what it was like to be the Girl-Who-Lived although he easily could have. He could have dragged the memories of her mother’s death and that horrible night to the fore, but he had let her be herself—just Harmony.
Now, though, she couldn’t let it go. Lord Black would be in his study, he always was in the mornings, so the reading room would be uninhabited. Lifting up her robes, she swept from the room and she was only barely aware of her father and grandfather following her.
Her shoes clicked on the beautiful woodwork of the castle floors. Candles hung in the air, casting shadows around her. She could feel the eyes of the portraits of dozens of Blacks following her. She even stopped in front of the painting of Walburga, Lady Black, and stared at her. Could this really be her mother-in-law? The book Hermione Granger had given her had said that she was mad due to incestuous relationships.
Harmony had to privately admit that her own relationship to Lord Black was slightly incestuous. If her husband was indeed Regulus Arcturus Black, they were second cousins. Her grandmother Dorea Black was sisters with his mother’s father Pollux. It was all too horrible to be realized. She thought the relationship was more distant.
Tearing her eyes away from the portrait which was assessing her, Harmony’s steps picked up and she practically ran to the reading room. Master Bartemius Crouch, Jr. was there, fortunately without her husband. “Out,” she ordered, not bothering to be polite. “Find somewhere else to be.”
He bowed at the three newcomers. “Lady Black, Lord Potter, and you are?” Master Bartemius looked at James curiously.
Harmony looked at him angrily. “My father, Heir James Potter. Father, Master Bartemius Crouch, Jr. His grandmother was Miss Charis Black.—Now, out, Barty,” she said, using his nickname for the first time. “I have business to attend to.”
“Shouldn’t you be in the women’s quarters?” he asked, a little confused.
“Shouldn’t you be at your own house?”
He rocked back on his heels. “Point well taken. I’ll just be going. Say my goodbyes to Lord Black. He’s off in his study or somewhere.” He exited with another bow in the direction of the floo.
Harmony breathed out. “Father, close the door,” she commanded, rather than asked. She then went to the far corner, right where the bookshelf ended and there should have been a connecting door to the next room (and there probably was behind the tapestry) and she pulled back the dark green curtain with gold tassels.
The tapestry was as grimy as she remembered it. Quickly casting a Scourgify, she let her fingers trace down the trail of the Lords Black. “Sirius I,” his brother “Phineas Nigellus.” His son “Sirius the Second.” His son “Arcturus.” His son “Orion,” who was married to his second cousin “Miss Walburga Black.” Then there were his two sons Sirius Orion and Regulus Arcturus. “Mr. Sirius Black” had the title “Heir Sirius Black” written in small red letters, showing that the title no longer belonged to him. Then, also in red capital letters, was written “DISOWNED 1975.” There was no death date listed. His picture was also scorched from the tapestry. Then there was the name “Regulus Arcturus, Lord Black.” Underneath in red were the words “Heir Regulus Black.” There was no death date.
Before the tapestry had been removed, Uncle Sirius never would have known. The tapestry was too filthy to read and Sirius’s own face was blasted off of it. He hated the thing. He probably never looked at it. Harmony remembered the stories that James would tell of how Sirius tried to remove it but that it was stuck on the wall with a sticking charm. Only strong and powerful magic could remove it.
And it was moved here, to the family seat.
She felt like she was punched in the gut.
“Do you believe me now?” James asked into the near silence. The same shadows from the candles were cast on the walls and Harmony slowly stood.
“He’s not dead.” She only seemed able to state the obvious.
“No, dearest. He’s not dead. Now you see why you must get out of this marriage. We’ll give you all the time you need to grieve—“
When Charlus made a sound of protest, Harmony cringed and James squeezed his shoulder in warning.
“And then we can all move on from this debacle.”
Harmony was staring at her hands, at the bonding ring that Regulus had given her the morning after their marriage. It was dulled platinum with Anglo-Saxon runes on it that denoted the House of Black. The ring had been that—just a ring. But now it meant so much more. It symbolized the love he had given to her so freely. The love that she gave back, unspoken, to him.
Harmony closed her eyes in pain, but then opened them up resolutely. “No.” Her voice was cold but stern. “I love my husband, Father, and he loves me. You should just be happy for us.”
“But, Harmony, darling, your mother—“
“Believed in marrying for all the right reasons. You once did, too, but you seem to have forgotten all of that. Where were you when Grandfather had Grandmama send out the call? You made a small protest but you stood by and watched. When you were told that it was a Black—a Black other than Uncle Sirius and we both know you knew the family was dark apart from Padfoot and Grandmama—you let it happen. You did not say a word against the match. I am matched and I am happy, Father. Happy. I am sorry that you seem not to be completely happy with Enid, but that’s not my fault. Don’t you care for her even just a little? I thought you were friends?”
James looked distinctly uncomfortable at the weighted stares of his daughter and father. “She’s not Lily,” he whispered helplessly.
“No,” Harmony agreed. “She’s not. But she deserves your friendship and your love. I know she’d like to have a son. Love her out of friendship, Father, please. Don’t make me unhappy. And you will be making me unhappy.”
“I want you to be happy, Song,” he said, using her childhood nickname that he hadn’t used since before she had gone to Hogwarts.
“I am happy. I love my husband and my husband loves me. And he wasn’t just another Death Eater, I promise. He fought You-Know-Who from the inside. I swear it.”
“Then why didn’t he tell you his name?”
“I told him not to,” she explained. “It was private, like the night He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named killed Mother is private. I don’t like to think of Mother’s wails or pleadings.” She shook at the very thought. When she was in her fifth year she had the unfortunate pleasure of being too close to a Dementor and heard the night playing over and over in her mind. It was her worst memory.
“And you swear the marriage has been consummated?” Charlus asked, his voice rough. He would never give up on an old bone.
“Yes, I swear,” she answered, hoping that he wouldn’t be able to hear that she was lying.
“And when can I expect grandchildren?” James asked.
“When can I expect a little brother or sister?”
They laughed awkwardly together and Harmony called for tea, even though it was a little late. Her father and grandfather only left when it was time for luncheon.
When Lord Black—Regulus—didn’t come down for lunch, Harmony thought he just must be busy in his study. When Moxnos informed her a few hours later that he had never summoned a tray from the kitchens, she brought one up to the reading room, where he spent his afternoons, herself.
However, he wasn’t in the reading room. Instead, he was hunched over the desk in his study, keening back and forth in his chair. “Regulus!” she called out, in her shock, running toward him. The tray was discarded with all of its contents near the door.
He looked up at her with soulful eyes and said, “I think the curse has run its course, dove. There’s nothing to be done for it.”
“What?” she exclaimed. “No.” She put him in a sitting position and wiped his sweating brow. Carefully, after pulling out her wand, she cast a severing charm on his robes and watched them fall away. The bandages underneath were completely clean. Quickly cutting through them with a pair of scissors she found in the desk (she would never trust a severing charm so close to the skin), she freed his body and looked at the wound in amazement. As if by some strange magic, the flesh was knitting itself back together.
Touching it carefully, he hissed out a breath in pain.
“This is good,” she murmured, turning her attention toward his pained face. “Very good. You’re healing, Regulus.”
“Who—told—you—my—name?” he gritted out, his gray eyes seeking her green ones.
“Father. He came with grandfather to try and convince me to admit that the marriage was unconsummated.” At the worried look that passed over his features, she added, “Don’t worry. I left them in little doubt that it wasn’t.”
He looked at her in curiosity before wincing again.
“Oh, hush,” she murmured, kissing his brow. “I, well, I described an unusual freckle on your shoulder. It was as personal as I could get, but it seemed to shock Grandfather.” Her laughter, like a breeze through a wind chime, sounded through the room.
Regulus hissed again.
Harmony looked at the flesh on his side. It was all knitted back together in a series of pink scars that were beginning to fade to white. She ran her fingers over them. He didn’t flinch away. “There, I think it’s almost done,” she reassured him. There must have been a great deal more damage than she realized for it to have taken since at least lunch. She watched as the scars became thicker, more knotted, and hardened into a tangle of white marks.
Finally he breathed out in relief.
Tugging her to him, Regulus sighed into her hair and whispered a quiet “thank you” in her ear.
“I didn’t do anything,” she muttered, but he only shook his head.
“You loved me, for me. For all of me. Unsolicited. Unasked. You must have said the words, dove.”
“I-I did,” she admitted, nestling closer and running a hand across his shoulder. “I told Father and Grandfather that I love you. I do, you know, love you, Regulus Black.” She pulled away and looked him in the eye. “I love you.”
“He—the Dark Lord—swore to me that only if I was truly loved that I’d be saved,” Regulus admitted. “I hadn’t the heart to try until I saw the matching call for you. Any other alliance would be purely political and I was too weak to go out into society and meet someone. But a matching call with the Girl-Who-Lived, the woman who had defeated the Dark Lord and who might be able to defeat his curse, and a woman whom I could be matched with based on her specifications—I thought that was worth a shot.”
She creased her brow.
Lifting up her hair, he murmured, “I didn’t count on falling in love with Mistress Harmony Potter in the process.”
A smile broke out across her face and she leaned forward and kissed him.
That night they lay in each other’s arms as man and wife, a bundle of limbs and shared kisses. Regulus held Harmony close to him afterward when she cried from the discomfort, and he kissed each tear away, promising it wouldn’t always be like that. She slept trustingly in his arms that night and every night to come, as she had done all the nights previous.
It was the morning of the Malfoy family gathering and Harmony knew. She’d had Regulus perform the spell, to see if there was a faint heartbeat fluttering with her own, and there was. She was with child.
“Are you sure you want to do this?” she murmured as she gazed over her husband’s handsome form. He still carried the walking stick, but only as an accessory, much like Lord Malfoy did. “You don’t have to go out into society just to please me—“
“This is a small family gathering,” Regulus refuted. “Cissy will be there with her husband and children, Bellatrix, Dromeda’s daughter, your family—“
“Don’t forget the Longbottoms and Uncle Sirius. They’re all part of the clan now.”
“The Blacks, the Potters, and the Malfoys,” Regulus mused. “It’s surprising how things really don’t change over the years.”
“No, I guess you’re right,” Harmony agreed, a hand over her abdomen. “I guess you’re right.”
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