(WL02) Part the Second

We had a beautiful, magical, love affair; What is sad beautiful tragic love affair.

“Sad, Beautiful, Tragic,” Taylor Swift

Imbolc wasn’t sure why, especially given his usual security, but Harry Potter came along to the Black mausoleum.  Draco was dressed in pureblood Black, Sirius in a brown corduroy suit, Potter in what are called jeans, and Imbolc in an Illyria dress.

They walked through a cemetery in the center of London.  It was large and you couldn’t hear any traffic and they finally came to a large building.  “Here it is,” Sirius said as he took out a rusted looking key and opened it.  With a flick of his wand, the lights were ignited.  Then there were two large walls of large square slabs that had names and dates emblazoned on them.

“This one,” Sirius said, pointing to one, “is my father, Orion.  Here is Mother.”  He pointed to another next to his.  “This is me and this,” he showed another, “belongs to Lux.”

Imbolc looked around in curiosity.  “Thoughts?” she asked Harry and Draco.

“I might be partial,” Draco admitted, “but I think she should be in nature, where her descendants can walk by her grave.”

“Her descendants won’t be there,” Imbolc argued.

Draco looked at her pointedly.  “We don’t know that.”

Sirius was looking between them.  “I thought you weren’t courting because I don’t approve.”

“My father has custody of Imbolc,” Draco snapped.  “He’s the one who gets the say.  And, no, we’re not technically courting.”

“You’re just close friends,” Sirius decided.  He looked at Imbolc.

“Don’t look at me, Father,” she begged.  “I have no idea what I feel about anything.  I just got my father back.  That’s enough to be getting on with, don’t you think?—Harry?  What are your thoughts?”

“Well, I don’t like it in here,” he admitted.  “But weren’t you two in love?” he asked Sirius.  “Shouldn’t you be together in death?”

“That’s the winning argument, isn’t it?” Imbolc said sadly.  “I don’t like it in here at all, so unless you decide, Father, that you want to be put to rest elsewhere, I guess we’ll move Mother here.”

Draco sighed.  “I was afraid you’d say that.”

“Well, I won’t end up here,” she promised him.  “There’s no Black for me to marry, unless we count that Squib’s children.  I don’t think they pass the blood purity test, though.”  She placed a hand on his chest and looked into his gray eyes.

He covered her hand and smiled at her.

“Are you sure you’re not courting?” Sirius asked into the gloom.  Harry must have been hanging around, possibly looking at the names and dates of the deceased.

“I offered,” Draco said testily.  “The lady needs to decide.”

“Ah, limbo,” Sirius said knowledgably.  “Lux kept me in that for months.  I still don’t approve.”

“I don’t think you’d approve of any pureblood,” Imbolc noted as she moved away from Draco.  “You’d find them all too—pure or something.”

“My best friend, James Potter, was a pureblood.  I married a pureblood.  I’m not against purebloods in theory.  I’m against two individuals who are second cousins through the Blacks and first cousins once removed through the Malfoys.”

“You married your godsibling,” Draco reminded.  “You needed a special dispensation from the Wizengamot as the relationship was considered so incestuous.  Only the fact that Heiress Sirius’s uncle was Lord Malfoy and your father was Lord Black pushed it through.”

“What?” Harry asked in shock.

“It’s called ‘magical incest,’” Draco informed him.

“Draco!” Imbolc said angrily.  “I would remind you I am the product of such a union.”

“I was merely reminding him that incestuous relationships exist in his own love life and he shouldn’t judge.”

She breathed out angrily.  “The air is too tight in here.  I’m ready to leave.”  She walked out the door, leaving Sirius, Draco, and Harry behind.

It was Harry who found her first.  “Are you okay?”

“It’s nothing I haven’t heard before,” she informed him quietly, “and I know why Draco said it.  Still, Mother was always treated badly, especially as the wife of a Death Eater.”  She sighed.  “Nothing for it.  A child of incest I will always be.  I might make an incestuous marriage myself.”

“Don’t say that,” he said quietly, his hand reaching out until he brushed the length of her arm.

She looked over at him in shock, but he was blushing and looking away.  Taking a deep breath, she murmured, “The honorable thing to do would be to express your interest to my uncle, Lord Malfoy.”

Harry looked at her sharply.  “Not Sirius?”

Shaking her head, she looked out over the graveyard.  “Father is not my guardian.  He may or may not approve of a relationship, but he has no input as to the actual situation.”

“Did Malfoy ask?”

“I can only assume,” she declared.  “He is not dishonorable.  Are you honorable, Mr. Potter?”

“I thought wizards and witches just date.”  He looked a little confused.

Draco came up during this last part.  “Blood traitors, half-bloods, and Mudbloods do,” he informed.  “True purebloods of standing would never suggest such a degrading activity.”

“If Harry wants to date,” Sirius said, coming up to the three of them.  “Then he can date.  His father James was a pureblood and he dated his mother.”

“I would remind you, Father, that to my knowledge Mrs. Potter was a Muggleborn.”  She sighed.  “I tire of this line of conversation.  It reminds me of the fact that I am the Black heiress and am the richest witch in Britain.”

Harry looked at her strangely.

Sirius explained, “She’s richer than the Queen of England.”

“Muggle,” Draco hissed.  “I can’t believe we’re technically her subjects.”

“Father,” Imbolc broke in as she walked through the graveyard pausing at the older stones to look at the names.  Most of them were wizarding.  She noticed there was a whole patch of Selwyns.  “Do you plan on marrying again?  It’s only that I wonder if I will continue the privilege of being the Black heiress.”

Draco looked at Sirius curiously.

“Change your suit, does it?” he asked nastily, but at a harsh look from Imbolc, he swallowed.  “If I am ever freed and were to marry again, I would take a contraceptive before the wedding.”

“Aren’t those painful and illegal?” Draco asked in shock.

“What does it do?”  That was Harry.  Someone really needed to take his education in hand.

“It ensures a wizard can father no children,” Imbolc whispered.  “Would you truly do that, Father?”

He took her by the crook of the arm and turned her toward him.  “Candlemas,” he said simply.  “You are my only child by the love of my life.  I couldn’t bear it if a child by some other woman other than Lux were to inherit my fortune.”

With tears in her eyes, she launched herself at her Father, and whispered, “Thank you, Daddy.  Thank you.”

He held her just as tightly.  “Only for you, sprite,” he promised.  “You’re the light of my world.”

It was unusual for Imbolc to be called to see Uncle Lucius.  Usually, she just spoke to Aunt Narcissa.  However, here she was, alone, in his study, with both her aunt and uncle there.

She wished Draco were there so she could grab his hand and feel his support.

“Have I done something to displease you?” she began.

Narcissa came up to her and took both of her hands.  “Of course not, darling Imbolc.  Now, Lucius, some elven wine for our dear daughter.  She’s shaking like a frightened unicorn who has just encountered its first maiden.”

The glass was produced and it was pressed into Imbolc’s hand.  Another was passed to Aunt Narcissa and she motioned to the divan in front of the fireplace.  It was far too warm to light it, but it was still comforting.  Uncle Lucius came over with his glass of firewhiskey and sat in a high backed armchair.  “Would you like to explain, dear?” he offered.  “I really can’t wrap my mind around it.”

Aunt Narcissa nodded.  Her hair was once again in a net, this time dark forest green, which contrasted well with her dark blonde hair.  It wasn’t truly golden like Imbolc’s but it was still lovely.  Little Iolanthe had inherited it.  Lacerta, on the other hand, had her father’s platinum hair and his ice blue eyes.

“We understand that you’ve become acquainted with several individuals since you began visiting your father.  Draco has described a troop of Gryffindors, the Weasleys, which is most disgraceful, and that Mudblood Hermione Granger.  He also said that your father’s godson was now a member of the household.”

Imbolc looked down at her hands.  “That is correct.  He dresses horribly.  You must believe me.  I’ve been trying to decide how to approach Father about his wardrobe as he’s part of the Black household, but Harry has this ridiculous guard and isn’t allowed to leave.”

“So you have a fondness for the boy,” Uncle Lucius surmised.

“I wouldn’t call it that,” she admitted.  “I find him the pleasantest company there, apart from Draco.  Is that so wrong?  I just pretend his mother wasn’t a Muggleborn and he’s quite easy to converse with.”

“And Mr. Potter?”  It was Aunt Narcissa now.  “Does he find you pleasant company?”

“I—he—he tried to comfort me,” she admitted him.  “I told him to be honorable and to write Uncle Lucius.  I didn’t know what else to do.  If I said anything, Father would hear and be happy that I was receiving attention from someone other than Draco, Draco would have been offended, I don’t know how Harry would have felt, and I would have Apparated straight to my room and probably locked myself in there for a few days.”  She said this all quickly, her eyes flicking between her aunt and uncle.  “I did the right thing, didn’t I?”

“As an unattached young woman, you behaved beautifully,” Aunt Narcissa reassured.  “Your uncle has received a letter from him.”

He cleared his throat.  “Yes,” he drawled.  “The Potter boy wants to take you to the first Hogsmeade weekend.”

“But that’s a date!” she said in astonishment.  “He knows the difference.”

“I shall refuse on those specific terms then,” Uncle Lucius promised.  “And he’s a half-blood and currently anathema in society.  We’ll try not to put that in writing in case the tides turn and it makes it into The Daily Prophet or some other publication.”

She took a sip of her wine for fortification.  “May I ask, and I apologize if you see this as an aspersion of your character because that is not what is meant, Uncle Lucius, but is the Dark Lord really back?”  Imbolc stared at her uncle and he took a long sip of his firewhiskey.

“I’ve told Draco and will give you the courtesy of the same answer.  I trust that this will not go beyond this room.  You may discuss it in private with Draco, if you like, but neither Lacy nor Io are to hear of it.”

She nodded.

“The Dark Lord is indeed back.  He will be a guest at the Manor once you three leave for Hogwarts.”

“I see,” she chewed her lip.  “There’s more.”

“We were to give reports, as you may imagine.  It has been fourteen years, after all, child.  I told the Dark Lord of you and how you are skilled at Divination and how you have received your mastery in it even though you are just fifteen years of age.  He is interested in such a talent.  The Dark Lord wonders if you might read for him.”

“He wouldn’t mark me,” she clarified.

“No,” Lucius agreed.

She nodded and sipped at her wine.  “I would want you and Draco in the room.  I don’t care if he wants privacy.  Those are my conditions and if I cannot see, I refuse to be punished.  The future is subjective and often fluid.”

Uncle Lucius inclined his head.  “I will inform him.”

“This business with Harry Potter disturbs,” she finally admitted.  “I know my father is a Muggle-lover, but still…”

“Yes, but he does have celebrity,” Aunt Narcissa stated.

“A line has been drawn in the sand,” Uncle Lucius reminded them.  “We’re on one side, and Lord Black and Harry Potter are on the other.  They may think that because Imbolc was born to Lord Black that she might be more liberal minded, but they forget her mother was a dark witch who delighted in the Unforgivables and she was raised by accused Death Eaters.”

“I pray he doesn’t mark Draco,” Imbolc mused over her wine.  “If I marry him, I’d prefer his arms to be bare.  I think.  I’m assuming.”  She took another sip.

Narcissa reached out and rubbed her temple.  “This is perhaps a discussion for ladies and for when you accept Draco’s courting offer.”

Uncle Lucius looked at her perceptively.  “The only thing holding her back is she’s afraid of the consanguinuity.  Her parents and her paternal grandparents have given her a complex.”

“Lucius,” Narcissa hissed.

“You’ve seen them together.  They act like a courting couple.  It’s just not official.  You know I considered this meeting a courtesy, as I will any subsequent meetings.  Oh, Roland Vane has shown an interest.”

“Wasn’t he Head Boy last year?” she asked.  “And a half-blood that was raised to a middle house by his stepfather?”

“That’s a negative then,” Uncle Lucius decided.  “Madeleine married into one of the lower higher houses.  There was no shame in it.”

“No,” Narcissa agreed.  “I was also from an offshoot of the Blacks.  My aunt might have been Lady Black but my father was a poor relation.  I was nothing compared to the Black heiress.”

“I suppose the vultures will start circling,” she murmured unhappily.

“Not until your sixth and seventh year,” Uncle Lucius assured her.  “One may start courting in fifth year in stricter houses, but most view it as rather young.  I would give you as much time to consider Draco’s suit as you needed, you are my daughter in all but name, after all, but it helps that there are no outside pressures.”

Imbolc smiled at him.

“Now we just have to see if Harry Potter comes up with a counter offer.  I wouldn’t be surprised if your father helps him if he hears of this little adventure Potter finds himself on.”

“May the old gods help me,” Imbolc sighed, squeezing her aunt’s hand.  “Why aren’t we godsiblings?”

“Two reasons,” Uncle Lucius told her.  “First of all, before Sirius went to Azkaban, there was still a great stigma concerning his marriage to his godsibling Lady Lux Kingsley, despite their magical dispensation.  I know Lux didn’t want you in a similar situation.  Also, James and Lily Potter greatly disapproved of Lux.  She hinted that it had to do with the godsibling bond but also that she was a dark witch.  They suspected her of being a spy.  Lux refused to have them as godparents.  One of the Prewett brothers was named as well as Amelia Bones, niece to Lord Bones.  But you, of course, know that.  You know your Aunt Amelia well and both Prewett brothers died.”

Imbolc hummed and finished her drink.  Narcissa put down their glasses and pulled her into a hug.  “I know it’s hard,” she murmured, “growing into a woman when you’re still partially a child.  Just enjoy your time with Draco.  It’s all I can suggest.”

“Yes, Aunt,” she murmured, burying her face into her aunt’s shoulder and breathing in her familiar scent.

The Dark Lord swept into the house when Imbolc was least expecting it.  She was at her correspondence again.  She had made many friends with the French delegation in the Triwizard Tournament and she saw it as an excellent excuse for practicing her French.  She also had the chance to ask about a ‘Black’ and one of the witches thought there might have been one in the lower years, but she couldn’t be certain.

Narcissa walked into the drawing room followed by Draco.  “Imbolc, dear.  Go get your cards and your crystal ball and then go with your cousin.  You’re needed.”

Imbolc looked at her and then understanding washed over her.  She moved to her aunt and whispered, “Am I dressed appropriately?”

Moving a step or two away, Aunt Narcissa took her in.  Imbolc was wearing periwinkle robes edged in white and her hair was in three twists that came together at her mid-shoulders.  “You look every inch the pureblood lady,” she announced.  “Now, don’t keep our guest waiting.”

Draco held out his hand and Imbolc took it.  “You’re wearing the scent I bought you,” he murmured as they went up two flights of steps to the family wing.

“Of course I am,” she responded.  “You know how much I love jasmine, and when my last one was discontinued…” She sighed.  “Wherever did you get this one?”

“I have a few contacts from Durmstrang,” he answered, a smirk playing on his lips.  “I merely got a scent catalogue from Vienna from one and placed my order.  I thought you deserved something a little special for making prefect.”

“Oh!  But I didn’t get you anything,” she fretted.

“Your very presence is enough,” he said romantically, squeezing her hand. 

She rested her head on his shoulder for a few moments before he showed her to her doors.  Although they were closely related, they weren’t technically siblings, so he wasn’t allowed in her rooms.  Imbolc walked in and found a periwinkle ribbon and she quickly threaded it through her hair so that it showed just near her hairline.  Nodding to herself, she collected her deck and her crystal ball and stand.

“Be helpful,” she joked as she handed the ball and stand to Draco.  No one could touch her cards.  It would be sacrilege.  They could only have her energy.  She slipped her hand through the crook in his arm and they walked down toward the smoking room, much to her surprise. 

She knocked and when she was bid to enter, she fluidly walked in, Draco a few steps behind her.

There was a man with his back to her.  He was wearing black robes and had skin so white it was almost translucent.  He held his wand in pianist fingers and then he turned.

His nose was gone as well as his lips.  Intelligent red eyes shone from his snake face and his head was completely without hair.

She curtsied low.  “My lord,” she intoned.  She kept her eyes lowered and waited until he touched her shoulder to rise.  She ascended and then smiled at her uncle.

“I understand you are a mistress of the cards,” the Dark Lord spoke.  His voice was haunting, attractive.

She nodded. 

He motioned to a table.  “I wish to know when my presence will become known.”

“Apart from the fact that Dumbledore and Harry Potter are proclaiming it as such?”  Uncle Lucius gave her a warning look, but she continued.  “Could you sate my curiosity?  Why was Potter cut on his arm?  I’ve seen the scar and it is quite—unappealing.”  She took out the cards and shuffled them.  She heard Draco place the crystal ball somewhere else in the room.

“It was a ritual,” the Dark Lord explained.  “I needed his blood.”

“A dark ritual then,” she surmised, cutting the cards once and then again.  “Uncle Lucius says we’re too young to attempt them.  So much can go wrong, apparently.”

“I said when you were sixteen, Imbolc.  Surely you can wait a year.”

She looked up at him and gave Draco a winning smile.  Turning back to the Dark Lord she lay out a three card spread.  “Tell me, do you have a spy within the Order of the Phoenix, because even I can figure out who it is?”

Draco coughed.

“Perhaps that is how I like it, Lady Imbolc.”

“Grandmother Madeleine was a spy,” she said, though he probably already knew this.  “She’s in Azkaban.  Mother was, of course, accused as well.”  She tapped the first card.  “You’re free,” she told him, “which is apparent.  Now you’re planning.”  She moved the second card forward before she came to the third card.  “A battle,” she murmured.  “You can’t get out in time and you’re seen.”

He looked at her, fascinated.

She swiped the cards away and flipped over a card from the deck.  “Yes,” she murmured.  “Somewhere dark.”

Another card went down.  “I—“  She looked up to Draco.  “Why would you go there?” she questioned.

“Where?” the Dark Lord asked.

“The Ministry of Magic.  Somewhere secret there, but it’s definitely the ministry.  I think it’s a trap.” 

She turned over the next card to the wise man.  “Dumbledore,” she breathed.  “He keeps you there so you can be seen.  How—Slytherin of him.  Wasn’t he a Gryffindor?”

Uncle Lucius nodded.

“Shameful,” she murmured.  “You know, Professor Flitwick’s been there longer than McGonagall and yet she’s Deputy Headmistress?  What’s so wrong with having a Ravenclaw Headmaster?”  She sighed out and turned back to the Dark Lord who was assessing her.

“Not even my lieutenants know my interest in the Ministry,” he confided.  “Tell me, if I could get you a prophecy, would you be able to interpret it, Lady Imbolc?”

She thought for a moment.  “I’ve never tried,” she admitted, “but I don’t see why not.  It’s just another means of seeing the future.”

“Tell me, is it a gift through the Malfoys or the Blacks?”

“The Kingsleys,” she admitted.  “It hasn’t surfaced in several centuries, but a great-great-great aunt had the sight.”  Imbolc smiled at him.  “I am fortunate that Uncle Lucius and Aunt Narcissa have nurtured the talent.”

“I am very much pleased,” he stated.  “You and your cousin may go.  I must speak with Lord Malfoy alone.”  He took her hand and lifted it to just beneath his lips per pureblood custom before releasing it.  Draco tracked the movement with his eyes before picking up the crystal ball.  Imbolc gathered her cards.

Once they were far enough away, Draco dragged her into a room.  “What?” she demanded, but he’d already put down the crystal ball and was holding her close to him.

“I don’t like how he was looking at you,” he admitted.

“I’m just an oddity,” she sighed as her hands came around his back.  “That’s all.  You know I’m hailed by the Unspeakables as one of the strongest Clairvoyants in the past several centuries.”

“I know,” he agreed, his face pressed into her shoulder.  “I just—I never want to share you.”

She laughed at this.  “You know I have friends and will have other admirers.  You must share me with the wizarding world, Draco.”

“I know,” he murmured, “it doesn’t mean I’m happy about it.”

He picked her up and swung her about the room, so much so that she laughed.

She was once again in Uncle Lucius’s study.  Aunt Narcissa had given her firewhiskey of all things.  Sipping at it, the liquid burned her throat and she coughed and gasped.

“You’ll get used to it,” she promised.  “Just keep on sipping it gently.”

“But why?  I don’t understand.”

“We have—unusual news,” Uncle Lucius said, looking at her.  “You made quite an impression on the Dark Lord.”

“Yes, he told me so.”  She nodded and tried to take another sip of her drink.  It made her cough again.

“He has requested that you become his magical ward,” Uncle Lucius said carefully.  “All courtship requests must go through him.”

“Absolutely not!” she cried.  “That’s the most ridiculous—“ she stopped.  “He’s approved someone.”

“Only Draco,” Uncle Lucius told her.  “As soon as we found out, we put in a petition so that some horrible Death Eater who’s old enough to be your grandfather doesn’t get ahold of you or your fortune.”

“Draco,” she repeated.  “But I thought you were giving me time.”

“And Draco will give it to you,” Uncle Lucius promised.  “The courtship can be in name only for as long as you want.  You care for Draco deeply.”

“He’s my best friend!” she insisted.  “I—how could he—how could you—“  She threw down her glass and hurried from the study.  Imbolc ran past Draco at one point and she didn’t stop to speak to him.  She would probably end up screaming.  Instead she threw herself on her bed and started weeping.

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