“I was trying to fly, But I didn’t have wings, Then you came along and you changed everything.”“Crazier,” Taylor Swift
She screamed as she went through the wards and landed in her Uncle Lucius’s study. The wards must have been changed since she was last here. Breathing heavily in a crouching position, Imbolc did not take stalk of what was around her.
“My dear little flame,” she heard Uncle Lucius declare and strong arms came around her.
“Wards,” she breathed, looking up at him dazedly. “Why would you change them?”
“Draco insisted,” he answered simply as he helped her to her feet.
“Well,” she said, taking a steadying breath. “I am the Dark Lady and I demand you change them back. I came here for sanctuary and instead I find physical pain? I’m like a daughter to you, Uncle Lucius. Why would you treat me in such a way?”
“You broke my son’s heart when you gave him back his courtship ring.”
She stared at him. “He broke mine first.” The two looked at each other and eventually he looked away, bowing.
“It is as my lady commands.”
“Good,” she declared, sweeping out of the study. “Now, why the attack? There were some dark families present.”
“They were unharmed,” Lucius told her. “As you were, my lady.”
She sighed. “I better use the floo. Tell Draco I’m angry with him, not that he cares,” she muttered. She went to the fireplace and disappeared in green flames. She exited out at Grimmauld Place. “Anyone home, Kreacher?” she asked, and he pointed upward. “Right.” Imperiously, she marched up the stairs and made it to the drawing room. “Ah, Weasley, Granger,” she greeted. “You’ll never guess. Draco is so angry at me that he had Uncle Lucius change the wards. Anyway, I know when I’m not wanted.”
“It’s not safe—“ Granger tried to say, but Imbolc just waved her hand.
“Nothing’s safe. Sleeping in my husband’s arms isn’t safe. In a perfect world it would be, but sadly it is not.”
They all looked at her in shock.
“Potter didn’t tell you,” she surmised. “Don’t you read The Prophet? Society Section? I’m married.”
“Not to Malfoy,” Potter added. “To that Peverell guy.”
“Well, that’s one blessing,” Granger said. “When you had that row, I was sure it was over.” She batted her hair away and Imbolc couldn’t help but grin at the action. “What’s he like?”
“Peverell?” She took a seat and removed her hat. “Well, he’s very tall, and he has the longest fingers.” Spindly, she could call them, but oh! what wonderful things they could do to her. Imbolc smiled softly at the thought. “He’s not handsome, far from it, however he has this look that I’ve never seen anyone else have. He’s certainly distinctive and draws every eye in the room.—He’s in International politics, you know, and I often go to functions with him and end up dancing the night away. I think he likes to watch me enjoy myself. I often catch him watching me.”
“How romantic!” Granger gushed. “Isn’t it romantic, Harry?”
“Does he dance with you?” he asked instead.
“We tend to open the floor together,” she admitted. “I’m not sure if it’s his status as a politician, if it’s because he’s a favored guest, or something else entirely, but it’s strange having hundreds of eyes upon you as you go through the complicated steps of the music.—I saw you and Weasley dance, Granger. Is there a budding romance there?”
They both blushed.
“Just don’t mention me and Selenadora. She seems to have gotten a cue from Malfoy and taken a horrible fancy to me. Worst is, she made it into Gryffindor and tries to insert herself into our gang.”
Granger looked at him apologetically.
“Just make sure she doesn’t abduct you,” Imbolc told him. “Then again, you’re male, so you’d have to say the words of the ancient rites, so you’ll be fine, come to think of it. Still, it probably wouldn’t be pleasant for you.”
Weasley opened his mouth in shock.
“You look like a codfish,” Granger told him. “Imbolc, we need you to revoke the secret to this house.”
“Beg pardon?” she asked in astonishment. “This is my father’s house. I have a room here.”
“We know,” Granger admitted. “However, things aren’t safe anymore, especially for Harry.”—He was looking away at a window—“Sirius has even taken Selenadora to Malfoy Manor to see if they will have her until all this blows over, and to get Malfoy to revoke the secret.”
“This is absurd!” she declared. “You know I can’t tell anyone. I’m not the Secret—Oh.” Since Dumbledore died, everyone who held the secret was the keeper of it. “Do you have a bit of parchment?”
She wrote down the floo address to her home and folded it. “Do not open this up,” she told Potter, knowing that he would do as she asked. “When Father comes home, give it to him, and have him floo here. If he wants me to revoke the secret, then and only then will I do it.”
Potter took her left hand and brought it to just underneath his lips, holding it a little too long, before releasing it.
“Father has taught you pretty manners,” she remarked. “No more trying to kiss me.”
“You’re a married woman now,” he said in response, as if that answered everything, and she supposed it did.
“He must come alone. My husband does not like visitors.” She nodded to Weasley and Granger and then left the room. When she arrived back at Riddle House she went and found Peverell.
“Father’s coming,” she said, without even knocking on the door. “They want me to revoke the secret on where Father lives, and I said I’d only do it if he asked it of me. He’s currently at Malfoy Manor trying to get them to take Selenadora.”
He looked up at her with shocking red eyes. “If you think that is best, Winter. Serve him tea in the floo room. I set it up so that you could have an elegant tea space while I could move about the upper stories without fear of being seen.”
“You think of everything,” she praised, moving forward until she was leaning on his desk and kissing him. “I best go see to the house elves.”
“Yes,” he agreed, turning back to his parchments. She wondered if he would be seeing his followers later that day after the attack.
Sirius took over an hour to arrive and he came in his dress robes, looking harassed.
“Uncle Lucius give you a hard time?” she questioned as she motioned toward the tea set.
He looked up toward the skylight and then kissed her cheek. “It was truly horrible. That whelp of a cousin of yours was all against the idea because Selene is a Gryffindor and a friend of Potter’s and he didn’t want to give her your old room.” He sighed. “In the end, I appealed to Narcissa and her love of Regulus. It took another half an hour to get Draco to repeal the secret, but he did eventually. I still think he has a hankering for you. He wears your courtship ring on a chain around his neck. He was fiddling with it the whole time.”
“He’ll have to take it off when he goes back to Hogwarts,” she murmured. “Now, why must I revoke the secret?”
“Harry and his friends need a place to hide. You-Know-Who has taken over the Ministry.”
“You don’t say,” she murmured, looking up at the ascending floors. Peverell would be especially gleeful and thus amorous tonight. “Do you really think I would give it away?”
“You lived with the Malfoys, sweetheart. I honestly don’t know.”
That hurt, honestly, but she nodded instead. She took the piece of paper from him and tore off the top. Writing down, “The Secret to the Order of the Phoenix is at Number Twelve, Grimmauld Place,” she threw it in the fire. “I revoke you,” she mumbled. She then turned to her father. “Happy?”
“Yes, Imbolc,” he said, taking her hands and kissing them. “Words cannot describe.”
“Keep my room in order,” she begged. “I’ll never know when I’ll have use for it again.” A chill ran up her spine at the premonition but she just breathed out. It was something to think on another day. Now she was exiled from the childhood home she never had. “I think you should go,” she finally murmured.
“Maybe I could visit you here?” he asked hopefully.
“I think not,” she answered firmly. “Peverell enjoys his privacy. He allowed this because it was so important.”
“So you are trapped in your own home.”
“Hardly,” she laughed. “I may travel as I please. This place is merely a sanctuary from the outside world and its obligations. You have your home, Father, which you are trying to completely cut off. Surely, you must understand the concept.”
“This is a time of war,” he growled angrily like a dog.
“And it isn’t for us?” she snapped back. “Go, Father, before we say something we regret.”
He got up and kissed the crown of her head lightly. “I would not have wished a marriage for you at this age.”
“You wished one for yourself,” she reminded him. “Now go, and leave the secret behind you.”
They were walking among the many gravestones at Malfoy Manor, her arm tucked into the crook of his arm. “There’s grandfather Abraxas,” Draco told her, pointing the stone out. “It’s strange to think that you’re his great-grandaughter and yet we’re the same age.”
“Do you think we should bury Mother here?” she asked, turning around and looking at the spot. There were several gravestones and they were kept together by a fence that she knew could be expanded and moved by magic.
“I know she would be happy here,” Draco whispered in her ear, and she smiled up at him. “You’ll be here, after all, with me.” His hand ran down her cheek, but then it was suddenly nighttime and he was gone.
Imbolc looked around her wildly and saw the strange, mysterious form of the Dark Lord between the graves. “I think not,” he said in his cool, attractive voice. “You will be buried in Little Hangleton, beside me, Lady Peverell.”
The scene changed and they were in another graveyard, this one barely kept up, with crumbling stones and grass overgrown on the stones.
She crouched by one and read: “Tom Riddle. Riddle House. Did he own it, Mal?”
Peverell looked at her closely and gave her the hint of a smile. “Think, child, think. Peverell is from my mother’s side. Who is my father?”
“But Riddle is not a wizarding name,” she argued. “It’s a Muggle—“ she gasped and instantly she was awake, sitting up, sweat trickling down her brow.
“Winter?” Peverell asked, but she couldn’t bear to look at him.
“Riddle. The house belonged to Tom Riddle.”
“Yes,” he answered carefully. “That’s why there are no magical portraits on the walls.”
“I,” she gulped. “Your mother is a Peverell. Your father—Please say it’s not true. It’s a muggle name.”
Peverell sat up and ran a hand down her golden hair. “He seduced my mother. It was a trick of his. When she was pregnant with me, she told him she was a witch, and he abandoned her on the streets of London. She died giving birth to me. I grew up in an orphanage thinking I was a common Muggle,” he spat out the final words, his long fingers painfully grasping at her hair, and she drew away from him.
“You’re hurting me,” she begged. “Please, Mal, let my hair go.”
After a few silent beats when she thought that nothing would change, Peverell released her hair, and Imbolc sighed out in relief.
“Thank you,” she murmured, not looking at him. Instead, she whispered, “I married a half-blood.”
“You married a pureblood,” he corrected. “I discovered how to destroy the Muggle taint of my father. Unfortunately, I had his visage and so that disappeared.”
She nodded to herself. “I—I think I want to be alone tonight,” she whispered, resting on her side away from him. “I’ll tell you if you can come back tomorrow.”
He reached out tentatively and stroked her shoulder, before she heard the rustle of sheets and he was gone. Tears streamed down her eyes and she wondered why love had to hurt so much.
“I can’t go home,” she told Uncle Lucius seriously. “I’ve had a fight with Peverell and Father made me revoke the secret of the Black home.”
“Surely, this argument can be resolved,” he offered.
“I don’t see how,” she said, a few tears forming in her eyes. “He lied.”
“He’s the Dark Lord,” Lucius reminded her. “He’s supposed to lie.”
It felt like a slap on the cheek. “All I want is a place I can sleep for a few nights,” she begged. “Uncle, you gave Selenadora sanctuary.”
“She is not the Dark Lord’s wife,” he reminded her. “You are. It would be my head if the Dark Lord found I was harboring one of his prized possessions.”
Anger welled up inside her. “I am not a possession. I am a wife.”
“What is the difference to a man as powerful as him? He found the most talented, most beautiful, youngest witch on the island and took her for his own, even though she clearly belonged to someone else. You are nothing more than a possession, my dear. You should get used to it.”
“If I were a possession,” she shot back, “he would not have left my bed last night when I told him to. He would have stayed and used me however he would like.—Is this how you see Aunt Narcissa?”
“Of course,” he answered simply. “It’s how every pureblood wizard views his wife. Her opinions are unimportant; she is there simply to serve tea to guests and to appear on your arm at official functions. She also serves the purpose of breeding beloved and important children for the next generation.”
“And Lacerta and little Io?”
“I will simply have to search for wizards who take good care of their possessions. I am sorry this was never explained to you. Draco was besotted and your marriage to the Dark Lord was so sudden.”
“I suppose this is what he meant,” she murmured, drinking her elven wine.
“I beg pardon?”
“He said he wanted me to be a woman and not a doll on our wedding night. I suppose he meant he didn’t want me to simply be a possession. But ‘tis no matter. If you will not give me sanctuary, I will find it elsewhere. Give my cousins my best, though you can exclude Draco. I’m not really fond of him at present. I fear with my displeasure he may soon lose the Dark Lord’s favor.”
She stood and waited for her Uncle to rise, given her superior station. She offered her hand and withdrew it from his grasp quickly, as if she couldn’t stand to be touched by him.
There were several other witches and wizards with him in the study when Imbolc approached the room. She wove her way through them until she came to Peverell and she lightly touched his arm. He looked at her and his gaze was guarded, but she persevered.
“Mal,” she greeted. “I’ve just been to see my uncle Lucius and he’s said some disturbing things. I wonder, when you have a minute, if you might spare it so that you might clear it up. It involves male roles in pureblood culture.”
“Are you well, my dear?” he offered after a long pause.
“I suggest placing the Malfoys under disfavor,” she stated, “although they are my kin. They have grossly insulted me today.”
“I shall come to you presently.” He took her hand and raised it to beneath his lipless mouth, before releasing it. A sad smile played on her face, before she left the room and made for the writing nook.
She took out a sheet of paper and wrote to Apricot Selwyn about her own courtship to Januarius Montague, offering her whatever advice she could.
Imbolc, at first, wasn’t aware of her husband’s presence, until he placed a hand on her shoulder. She startled and put down the unicorn horn pen he had gifted to her during their courtship and saw that the door was closed. “Did your meeting go well?” she asked solicitously.
“Very,” he stressed. “We’re planning the curriculum for Hogwarts. Your favorite professor has been named Headmaster.”
“Snape?” she asked, a little in wonder. “I’m sure he’ll like that. It will be a recognition of his many talents. I also don’t think he likes teaching ‘dunderheads,’ as he calls them.”
“I think you’re right.” He moved away from her toward a sofa and she hesitated before taking the seat next to him.
“I went to Malfoy Manor to ask for sanctuary,” she admitted. “I’m a little lost in our current—predicament and I thought that getting away for a bit would help me think better.”
“I see,” he stated coldly. “What did Lord Malfoy say?”
“He denied me and stated that as your wife I was your possession to do with as you will.” She turned to him, trying to keep tears from her eyes. “You don’t think of me like that, do you? I know we currently have our differences, but I’m a human being, Mal, I’m not something that spouts opinions that you ignore, that’s meant as a breeding farm, who’s supposed to look good on your arm, who’s your plaything in bed. Am I? I mean, tell me if I am, Peverell, leave me in no doubt, I’d rather just know—“
Then he reached forward and he kissed her. It was soft and sweet and it reminded her of how Draco used to kiss her before the whole mess with the scars. Still, there was promise to it.
“If you were any of those things,” he told her in his sibilant voice, “then I wouldn’t bother to kiss you.”
“So he lied?” she asked hopefully, “even though you play at being the pureblood?”
“He lied,” he confirmed. “Malfoy spoke of most situations. Not of ours.” He stroked the scarred side of her face. “May I come to your bed tonight?”
“What’s your name?” she countered, and he sighed.
“Tom Marvolo Riddle, Jr. My mother was Merope Gaunt.”
She nodded. “I suppose I’m Lady Imbolc Riddle, then. At least our son will be second generation from the title of Lord Black, so he’ll be Lord Perseus Riddle.”
He shook his head. “No. I am a Peverell. You wear the Resurrection Stone on your hand. You are Imbolc, Lady Peverell, my darling. I will have no one take that away from you.” His red eyes shone so deeply into hers that she could only nod.
“Swear to me on all that is holy that you are truly a pureblood despite the Riddle taint,” she begged, “and then you may come back to our room.”
“I swear by the old gods,” he said in devotion, his hands on either side of her face. “Now are you satisfied?”
After a brief hesitation, she nodded.
He kissed her again lightly, and then pulled away from her. “I must go visit your uncle and have a serious discussion about what he teaches the ladies of his household and how he treats the Dark Lady. You should be able to seek sanctuary anywhere for whatever reason, even if it is to escape me.” His finger traced her chin and he smiled down at her. “Je t’adore,” he said for the first time in their waking hours.
“Je t’adore aussi,” she promised. “Come home, soon. I’ve had a long day and I would like dinner in bed with my husband.”
She received a strange letter from Selenadora and instantly floo’ed over to Malfoy Manor. Imbolc was surprised to see Lucius in the drawing room and was gratified when he instantly bowed to her.
“Where’s Selene?” she asked, and it was Lacerta who answered.
Imbolc smiled at her cousin.
“Will you show me?”
She remembered the room well. It was not in the family quarters but in the guest wing and was made of teals and golds. Selenadora was sitting and reading a book. Imbolc immediately went to her. “Have you owled Father?” she asked.
Selenadora nodded. “Five times. Each owl has come back with the letter unopened.”
“It must be the wards,” she reasoned. “Here, let me see the letter.”
She looked at it and then at Selenadora. “Do you know George Weasley?”
“I think I danced with him at the wedding, but beyond that I cannot be certain. He has red hair, does he not?”
“Yes,” she agreed. “Father and Potter are great friends with the Weasleys. They’re technically blood traitors but this won’t be the first time a Black has married a Weasley. This one also owns his own joke shop.”
“There’s this one, too.” Selenadora produced another letter. It was from Ernie McMillan. He was a Hufflepuff in their year and from a low upper house. This was much more promising.
“Well, I must squire you to meet both of them,” Imbolc decided. “You don’t have any other female relative. I’m sure Peverell won’t mind if I ride Elizabeth Woodville a little less.” She sighed. “Shall I answer these and then owl you with the dates?”
“They’re not from Harry,” she said morosely.
“No,” Imbolc agreed, “but he’s wanted by the government. He also tends another way.”
“You mean he’s in love with you. I may be French, but I’m not stupid. English is my first language because of Father.”
“Of course,” Imbolc demurred. “I didn’t mean to insult your intelligence. It’s just—indelicate for me to suggest such a thing.”
“It’s indelicate that it’s even happening!” She threw her hands up in the air. “You’re a married woman!”
“That I am,” Imbolc agreed, thinking of Peverell. “That I am.”
“What are we doing!” Imbolc whispered, although there was no one about. Both she and Peverell were in their robes and he was hurrying her toward his study.
“You go to Hogwarts in three days,” he declared, waving his wand so that all his papers were now lined up on his shelves. “I want pleasant memories of you, naked, on my desk.”
He came close to her and pushed his hand beneath her robe and then undid the tie. The robe fell from her shoulders and she was left before him completely bare. “Like what you see?” she asked at his hungry gaze. Imbolc quickly went to work on his tie and he shrugged off his robe until they were standing naked before one another.
“Now then,” he stated, picking her up and laying her on the desk. “Prepare to be ravaged, Madam.”
“Promises, promises,” she claimed, until his tongue was on her and the only option she had was to fist her own hair. She arched off the desk as she cried out her pleasure, but he didn’t stop the assault. He continued until she reached a second peak, which was more of a plateau, before he crawled upward and claimed her lips.
“So much more than a possession,” he promised her, and she smiled up at him, letting her hands run over his bald head.
Then she sat up and surprised him as she hesitantly kissed her way down his body until he finally seized her and turned her over.
“Hold on,” he warned, and then he was inside her, and she was pushing back, and they were together in that moment of time, just Lord Voldemort and his bride. Nothing else mattered.
She’d made Head Girl, just as she’d always hoped. From the letter she received, Draco had made Head Boy. The moment was bittersweet. It was supposed to be their triumph and yet they had a great rift between them.
Imbolc went to the station alone, wearing gold robes, the color of royalty. Various students on the platform curtsied to her or bowed, while the others just watched on in confusion. She held Valentinus in her arms and stepped onto the train. It was her seventh and final year, after all.