Losing him was blue like I’d never known, Missing him was dark gray all alone, Forgetting him was like trying to know somebody you never met, But loving him was red.“Red,” Taylor Swift
“This is Japan,” Imbolc realized as she looked out the window at the sprawling city beneath her. She turned to the Dark Lord, smiling. “You brought me to Japan.”
“A powerful Yakuza here protects my identity,” he murmured, motioning for her to sit on the opposite side of a table. The table was short and she had to sit on her knees. There were screens all around them. “We can be entirely anonymous here.”
“True, that’s something neither of us can quite accomplish in Britain,” she sighed. “Especially yourself. Tell me, do you enjoy the media attention you are receiving speculating on your presence at the Ministry or is it simply an annoyance?”
A waitress, her face powdered, her lips red, and her black hair up in an elaborate twist, came in. She placed two small glasses in front of them along with a blue bottle with a flowered vine crawling up it. She instantly withdrew.
The Dark Lord picked it up and poured them each a glass. “This is sake. You drink your whole glass in one go.”
“Really?” she answered.
They clinked glasses. She took her glass, paused, and then knocked it back. She sputtered a bit.
“Enjoy it?” he asked.
She nodded her head. “It was strange, but it was good.”
He poured her another glass. “And to answer your question, I find it amusing. Anything that discredits Potter is more than gratifying, even if he is merely a decoy.” He looked at her. “You’re very much in love with Malfoy, are you not?”
“Don’t lie,” he ordered, drinking his sake. She did the same. “I am merely wondering if you are potentially interested in another match.”
She paused. She certainly wasn’t expecting this. Imbolc breathed deeply. “I can’t imagine another match that would hold my interest over Draco. Surely you know our close bond together.”
“It is for that reason that I ask,” the Dark Lord stated coolly.
Cautiously she asked, “Who is more important than the Malfoy heir? Please don’t say Harry Potter, because my answer is ‘no’.”
The Dark Lord changed tactics. “Have you looked into the future? My future?” He poured another glass. Sushi had appeared before them and she carefully chose a piece before washing it down with sake.
“I looked at the war,” she answered. “There’s to be a battle. I’m not certain who wins. However, you hit Harry Potter, the idiot, with the Killing Curse. I don’t know if he survives again.”
“That is why you want immunity and for young Malfoy to be free of the Dark Mark,” the Dark Lord surmised. “You’re playing to the uncertain future. Perhaps, then, you will not be so open to my proposal, heiress.” He looked at her carefully and then removed a jewelry box from his pocket.
She looked at it in horror.
“It’s not silver, for the Blacks,” he apologized, as he opened the box. In it was a large gold ring, clumsily made, with a diamond shaped black stone dominating it. “It belonged to my mother’s family who were descended from the Peverells.”
Imbolc looked at it and then at his red eyes. “I—you’ve spent so many years unmarried,” she stated. “I always assumed you didn’t want companionship or children.”
“There was a witch,” he admitted, “at Hogwarts. I was not deemed worthy. I determined never to marry after that experience—until I encountered you. I thought I would be satisfied as your magical guardian and I agree that the match with young Malfoy is a good one, but I would ask that you would consider my suit.”
He picked up her right hand and slipped the ring onto her third finger. She was now officially accepting two courtships.
“I never said ‘yes’,” she argued.
“Sleep on it,” he told her as he poured another glass of sake. Wanting to take her mind off of it, she ate more fish and then knocked back her glass. “You’ll find in the morning it is never imprudent to have two suitors, both of whom are politically powerful and devoted to you.”
“Do you think I take my other followers or associates to dinner?” he laughed. “Come, now, tell me of your plans after Hogwarts.”
She relaxed into the familiar subject and tried to ignore the weight on her right hand.
When she was finally returned home, she didn’t even think about it. After changing, which took more effort given the fact that her balance was completely off, she stumbled out of the room and found Draco’s. Without even knocking, she slipped in. He was laid out in nothing more than his pajama bottoms, atop the covers, his platinum blond hair mussed.
She climbed onto the bed and shook his shoulder. “Immy?” he asked, rubbing his eyes and sitting up. “What are you doing—? My room!”
Placing her hand over his mouth, she breathed deeply. “I think I’m drunk and something’s happened,” she explained. “I need to tell you now.” There were tears forming in her eyes. “I couldn’t bear to sleep on this and be the only one who knew.”
He pulled her hand away and cupped her cheek. “Darling, what is it?”
Sobbing, she held out her right hand where the Peverell ring was on display. “He’s courting me, Draco. He’s fucking courting me!”
Draco grabbed her hand and stared at the ring. “By the old gods,” he murmured before he clasped her to him. “It’s all right. He didn’t make you remove my ring,” he reasoned. “He’s behaving with honor—well, as much honor as this situation merits.—Come, we’ll go to Father’s study.”
“But it’s half past two!” she declared.
“Doesn’t matter,” he disagreed, pulling her from the bed before picking up an old Quidditch jersey.
He set her down in a comfortable chair and then disappeared again. It took Draco so long that Imbolc was almost sure they weren’t coming. Then Lucius rushed into the room, he grabbed her hand and stared at the ring.
“This is from?”
She nodded, crying again. “He says he’s devoted to me. How is he devoted to me? I’m his spy and I read the future for him!”
“He grants you boons. It’s unheard of even in the inner circle,” Lucius told her.
“How is she going to explain it away to Cousin Sirius or at Hogwarts?” Draco now asked pragmatically. “As far as I’m concerned, nothing has changed between us, and I will make her my wife, even if I have to use every dirty tactic I know, but someone’s going to notice. It’s rather large.”
“I wonder where he got it from,” Lucius mused.
“It’s a Peverell ring,” she told them. “It’s from his mother’s family. He’s a goddamn Peverell!”
“She’s drunk,” Draco murmured, probably to explain her unladylike swearing.
“Well,” Lucius said unhappily, “he’s definitely serious then. You know French wizards from the Tournament. Just say one has declared intentions and it’s an old family piece. If anyone asks about you and Draco, say you accepted the courtship as a courtesy due to your friendship.”
She was crying again. Draco came forward to embrace her, but she turned away and just curled in on herself.
“You’ll be sleeping with your aunt,” Lucius told her. “She knows the basics. Come on.” He swept her into his arms. “Draco, go to bed. You’ll see her sometime in the morning.”
When Imbolc was placed in a foreign bed, she felt the arms of her Aunt Narcissa come around her. “Cry all you need,” she murmured into Imbolc’s hair. “I’m here. There’s nowhere we need to be tomorrow morning.”
It was clear that Draco was unhappy with the courtship gifts. The Dark Lord had gifted her with a fountain pen made of unicorn horn that was imprinted with jasmine. His next gift had been an elaborate pearl choker, that Lacerta and Imbolc had just stared at.
“Maybe I’ll wear it to my first ball,” she mused.
They were standing on the steps of Grimmauld Place, holding hands, as Draco rang the bell.
“He’s asked that you go dancing with him tomorrow night,” Draco petulantly informed.
Imbolc turned to answer when the door opened to reveal Harry. “Ah, there you are,” he said, taking in their joined hands unhappily.
However, they didn’t pay attention to him as they walked inside. “Where? Are we going back to Japan of all places?”
“He means for you to wear that elaborate choker,” Draco seethed. “You’ll probably go to Germany or somewhere like that. They’re allies of him.” He spat out the word and clasped her hand tighter, but she didn’t mind. He could feel as possessive as he wanted, for all she cared.
Selenadora was a beautiful yet strange witch. She was dressed in the latest fashions, probably thanks to Sirius, but her brown hair fell down to her mid back and she wore a coronet on her brow. Gray eyes shone out of an intelligent face, which also possessed the Black cheekbones.
If Imbolc hadn’t seen hair like Selenadora’s during the tournament, she would have been insulted. “Lady cousin,” she greeted, coming forward and clasping her hand. “I’m Imbolc and this is our cousin Heir Draco Malfoy.”
Draco stepped forward, took her hand and lifted it to just beneath his lips before releasing it.
“I understood,” Selenadora said carefully, “that you were to come and live with us, Imbolc, but that you chose to stay with your cousins.”
“Yes, I grew up with them,” she answered. “They’ve been very good to me.”
It was then that Sirius noticed the ring. “What is that?” he said, grabbing her hand. “I thought you were courting the Malfoy boy?”
“I am,” she stated. “A French wizard I met during the Tournament also offered suit, and we thought it prudent not to reject him out of hand.”
Harry came up. “What an ugly ring.”
“It’s an old family piece,” Imbolc told him, “and you know I’m more unhappy than you are, Draco. I was in tears until five in the morning!”
“Do you think I got any sleep?” he countered. “I was ready to go duel the bastard except I didn’t know the floo address and I didn’t want to die.”
“I appreciate the sentiment.”
Sirius was looking back and forth between the two of them. “Dissention between the ranks, I see. That’s something then. I think I approve of this French wizard.”
Imbolc had to hold in her laughter.
Over dinner, Selenadora kept deferring to Harry, who wasn’t quite sure what to do with the situation. Imbolc and Draco kept on sharing glances, wondering what a blood purist like Regulus Black would say if he knew his daughter was fond of a half-blood, albeit the proclaimed Chosen One.
“I’m not sure,” Imbolc stated as she looked at herself in the mirror. She was wearing a dark yellow dress with a bustle in back, her hair covered in pearls, with the pearl choker around her neck. She was also wearing pearl earrings and pearl bracelets.
“It doesn’t clash with your hair,” Narcissa said. “And I know the style is different from what you usually wear”—it was a column that fell down to her shoulders—“but it really is quite beautiful.”
“I don’t understand this wooing. I’m convinced I’m going to end up in a back room telling someone their fortune. And how does this give me immunity?”
Narcissa sighed. “Trust the Dark Lord,” was all she could say. “Now, you’re ready. He should be here any moment.”
Draco was oddly missing, though perhaps Imbolc couldn’t blame him. She wouldn’t like to see him dressed for another woman. The Dark Lord appeared in a swirl of red and he took her in appreciatively. “You wore them,” he breathed.
“Wasn’t that the point?” she quipped back, much to everyone’s combined horror. “I think the dress is off. Do you think the dress is off?”
He laughed, his voice as attractive as ever, and he held out his hand to her. “Do you expect me to know such things?”
“I thought you were an expert in all things magical,” she accused as he took her hand.
“Come. Spain awaits.” He held her almost tenderly in the floo and they whisked off to a ballroom. He held her hand formally as he greeted various politicians and members of society, and she just smiled as she couldn’t speak a word of Spanish.
Then the dancing started.
Imbolc expected the Spanish Minister for Magic to start it off, but instead the Dark Lord led her to the center of the floor. He held her in his arms, reaching up with his right in a semi circle until she mimicked the gestured. “You do know the wizarding waltz,” he confirmed, and she smirked at him.
“I had the best tutors, my lord.”
The music started and they began the intricate steps, never leaving one another’s grasp. Soon other couples joined them but their eyes never left one another.
“Enough of this formality,” he said, when she was once again held closely in his arms. “To you I am Lord Peverell, or simply Peverell.”
“Peverell,” she mused, her violet eyes looking into his red. “It suits. May I use it even among my family? You are my suitor, after all.”
The dance parted them so that she was turned so that her back was pressed against his front, their hands still clasped and he whispered into her ear, “It would much please me, Imbolc.”
“I did not give you leave to use my name,” she reminded him.
“Forgive me, I thought such familiarity was implied in a courtship with one so free of spirit as you.”
“Hmm,” she suggested. The dance ended and she lowered herself into a curtsey and he tapped her shoulder so she should rise.
“None of that,” he decreed. “I am simply Peverell and not the Dark Lord, am I not?”
She tilted her head to the side. “I have never known you to be a man to not stand on ceremony.”
“You have never known me as a lover,” he argued.
A young man approached and in halting English asked her to dance. She looked at Peverell and he gave his nod of approval, so she went off in the young Spanish wizard’s arms.
She danced from man to man the entire night, even sitting down and sipping punch a few times with the more interesting, her eyes always tracking Peverell. His red eyes seemed to catch hers until, suddenly, he grasped her around the waist and pulled her out onto a balcony.
“I promised this dance to—someone,” she ended lamely. “Really, I can’t get their names right.”
“It takes practice,” he offered, removing the cup of punch from her hands. “I would ask a boon from the belle of the ball.”
She flushed at the praise. “Isn’t it you who usually grants the boons?”
“True,” he said, stalking around her. “But there are certain things one asks a lady without presuming.”
“Then ask,” was all she could say. “You may be rejected.”
“I may,” he agreed, touching her shoulder. “I should hope not.” Their eyes met again and she saw such heat there that it almost frightened her. “I ask for a kiss,” he murmured.
“I—pardon?” She turned toward him and truly looked at him. He was tall and lithe, as deadly as the serpent his face resembled, with a voice as liquid as silk. He wasn’t attractive, unlike Draco, but he was certainly the most intriguing man she’d met.
“A kiss,” he repeated, reaching for her. “There would be no shame in it.”
“Is another suitor,” he countered. “He is of no concern to us when we are together. All that matters is us.” He approached her and took her trembling hands in his. “A kiss, Lady Imbolc. That is what I ask.”
“I—“ she searched his eyes “It’s too soon,” she decided. She disengaged herself and walked back into the ballroom with her head held high. Her next dance partner found her and if she and Peverell didn’t speak when he brought her back to Malfoy Manor, she found she couldn’t mind.
“You’ve made The Daily Prophet,” Lucius told her as he handed Imbolc the front page of the paper. Sure enough, there was a picture of her smiling, speaking to the Spanish Minister of Magic. She was called the lady of the elusive Lord Peverell and a new face on the international scene.
“I’m not sure Peverell will like it,” she mused, “we had a disagreement.”
“How so, dear?” Narcissa asked kindly.
Imbolc looked at Draco. “I’m not sure I should say. It’s a rather delicate subject.”
Lucius stared at her coolly. “Did you offend the Dark Lord?”
“Possibly,” she answered him truthfully. “He asked for a boon, and I said it was too soon to even think of such things. We didn’t speak a word after that.”
“What was that boon?”
“Uncle, I really shouldn’t…”
“Imbolc!” he demanded.
“A kiss,” she whispered.
He swore under this breath. “I must contact the Dark Lord, though what possessed you to deny the him of all men?”
“I wasn’t ready!” she practically shouted. “And I don’t want to kiss anyone but Draco! It’s unfair after so short a time to make me try and forget such an allegiance of the heart.”
Lucius sighed. “As I said, I must see if the Dark Lord will accept a fire call. May the old gods help us if he is incensed.”
Draco and Imbolc walked around the grounds later. “He truly asked you for a kiss and you denied him?”
“What would you have me do?” she asked angrily. “I’m not something to be sold or bartered. If this gets much worse I will simply go and live with Father and if the courts ask me why I will be entirely candid.”
“Immy,” he sighed, taking her into his arms. “Please don’t do that.”
“What else am I supposed to do? I feel like a pawn.”
“Young Malfoy,” the attractive voice of the Dark Lord rang out, “I think I am needed in this situation.”
Imbolc saw the Dark Lord standing there, his black robes whipping around him like shadows, and a shiver ran through her. Draco’s hands squeezed her shoulders before he reluctantly pulled away; she felt utterly alone.
“Come,” she heard her Uncle Lucius murmur. “Let’s leave the Dark Lord to his business.”
And then she knew it: she was completely at the mercy of this wizard before her. Although there were tears streaming down her cheeks, she stood tall and refused to curtsey. “Peverell,” she murmured. “Did you accomplish everything you wished to politically last night?”
“You wish to hide behind politics?” he asked cuttingly. “I had not thought that of you, Lady Imbolc.”
“Perhaps I wish to gage your mood,” she flung back. “And I am more than just a pretty face. I have been under my uncle’s tutelage since I was a child of six. I may not play the game of politics well, but I certainly understand it better than most purebloods. The language last night and the players may be foreign to me, but that does not mean I cannot grasp the concepts that were being discussed or considered.”
The Dark Lord looked at her assessingly. “I apologize, my lady. I mistook your meaning.” He paused. “There’s a Muggle song, you will not have heard it.”
She waited, confused by the topic he had chosen.
“It’s about a man being in love with an angel who has fallen from heaven and he is afraid. He’s fearful that he cannot be the man she needs him to be.”
Silence stretched between them.
“Have you found evidence of the legendary angels, Peverell, or are you trying to tell me something else?” Angels had been rumored about among wizards for centuries. It was said that a wizard’s power came from his direct ancestor, the fallen angels, the nephilim. However, none of this was provable.
“Have you never been compared to the legendary creatures, my lady, with your purity of blood, your molten hair, and your violet eyes?”
She sucked in a breath. “Peverell, I—“
“Don’t speak,” he murmured, coming close to her and, after hesitating, taking her two hands in his. “Mountains rise and fall on my command. I do not deny this. The fortune of your family is fated to my whims; it is true. However, you need not worry for their favor when it comes to us. There are bound to be misunderstandings, setbacks, and the ever present notion of Young Malfoy that I may never be able to escape.”
“That is gracious of you,” she admitted. Looking down at their hands and his spindly fingers, she then glanced away.
“You still fear me,” he surmised. “Not before, but as a lover. I can comprehend why. I wish I looked much as I did at Hogwarts. Then you would find me handsome at the very least.”
Taking a deep breath, she looked him directly in the eyes. “This may be premature, but I keep photographs near my bed. The Malfoys, one of Draco in particular, my parents… you’re a suitor. You should be among them.”
“I will find one for my lady from my youth,” he promised. “Only Dumbledore should recognize it.”
“I doubt he would ever come looking among my photographs,” she reasoned. “I’m afraid it’s nearly lunch. I promised an afternoon with Hermione Granger and my cousin Selenadora. It is important that I stay close to Harry Potter without encouraging his affections.”
He picked up her hand and lifted it to just below where his lips would have been. “Lady Imbolc,” he murmured.
She didn’t bother to answer him. Instead, she turned and made her way back to the house. Imbolc was only too aware of his gaze on her.
“What is it like?” Selenadora asked as they walked in the back gardens. Kreacher, in his love for both Imbolc and Selenadora, had trimmed the hedges and replanted the roses that had been present in Imbolc’s childhood.
Her cousin barely had traces of a French accent. Imbolc wondered if it was because she had tutors in the English language as a child. She knew from Father that her mother, Alix Vilaneuve, was dying from some magical disease, so had sent her to her closest relative.
Imbolc looked at Selenadora. “What is what like?” she asked in confusion.
“Being courted? I was an unfavored granddaughter in France. Here I am a favored niece of one of the four Lords. Surely, it is not completely out of the realm of possibilities.”
“No,” Imbolc said quickly. “No, it’s not. However, we are talking about Harry Potter.”
“I thought as much. Unfortunately, his affections lie elsewhere. They are not returned, far from it, but you’ll have to battle a ghost. A living one.”
Imbolc didn’t know what to say. At that point, Hermione found them.
“What are we talking about?”
“Harry Potter,” Imbolc said plainly.
“Is he still annoying you, Imbolc?”
She shared a look with Selenadora, who couldn’t be more different from her than she tried. The girl even played Quidditch. Then again, that could work in her favor.
“I should go find Draco,” she murmured to no one in particular. Making her way through the hedges, she became lost in her own thoughts. Then, there was a hand around her waist and she was pulled behind a hedge. “What?” she demanded only to see Draco grinning down at her.
“A stolen moment?” he begged, and then she was leaning up on her tiptoes and kissing him sweetly.
She snaked her arms around his neck and they were smiling at each other. “Hello, Draco,” she greeted.
“Immy,” he murmured before stealing another kiss. “No one can find us here,” he whispered, meaning the Dark Lord.
“Only Father,” she refuted and he looked affronted. However, she kissed him again until they were utterly lost in each other.
Little did she know, but Draco was stunned in the library, his clothes stripped from him, a bit of hair taken from his head. A discarded glass was lying by his body.
When Sirius opened the door to find him, he smelled the glass. Polyjuice potion. He smiled to himself. It seemed Harry was more resourceful than he thought. This was truly worthy of a Marauder.