Lyra Ophelia Black was the picture-perfect example of what a young girl of the Black family should be. At the mere age of six-years-old she was poised and graceful, extraordinarily intelligent, and was strong-willed as befitted a member of The Noble and Most Ancient House of Black. Lyra was a Black through and through, and the young girl was a source of pride for her family.
She spent her days learning etiquette from her relatives, studying basic maths and writing, learning to speak French with her father, and a whole manner of other topics which were rather advanced for a girl her age. Being so mature and smart beyond her years was a fantastic occurrence, and the older Blacks were ecstatic that they had a child that they could show off to the other families as proof of their inherent superiority.
Her education was not tarnished by useless labels such as 'light' or 'dark', instead she was encouraged to learn for power. What did arbitrary labels matter in the face of becoming stronger? She was even allowed unrestricted access to the extensive potions lab and large sections of the main family library – Blacks were intelligent enough, but common sense was simply not one of their strong suits when it came to child-rearing.
Lyra knew that her arduous work schedule was worth it though, as her intelligence was helping to overcome the stigma that was attached to the circumstances of her birth. Her parents had not been married or even in a relationship when her mother had fallen pregnant with her, and it was only a quick marriage that had prevented her from being born a bastard. To some of her family, even worse was that her mother had not been from Britain and instead had been a witch from France.
To some of the Blacks, missing an opportunity to ally themselves with another reputable family in Britain was simply inexcusable. She could have been the daughter of a Malfoy, or a Selwyn, or even a Flint, but no, her mother had to be someone that did nothing to further the Black family's ideals or social standing.
She often wondered what her birth mother had been like, as whenever she asked her father about her he got a rather twisted and forced smile on his face as he struggled to find nice things to say about the woman. To be honest, Lyra only asked because it was too amusing to see her father wearing such an expression on his face. She knew full well that her father despised her mother for some unknown reason, and she had a feeling that the woman must have been truly awful if even her laid-back and cheerful father didn't like her, even years after her death.
All in all, Lyra Black was a happy and content girl who enjoyed spending time with her extensive family, learning how to be a Black to the best of her ability, and showing off her bizarre intelligence at strategic times to scare her lovable yet fiercely overprotective father. To the Black family, Lyra was simply an extraordinarily advanced young witch who enjoyed learning about magic and how to use it.
That was certainly a more likely explanation than one Harry James Potter somehow being reborn in a different time and body.
Margot Elle Caron may have been a pure-blood witch who was closely related to the French Minister of Magic, but she was flighty and whimsical, ignoring basic rules of etiquette for her own pleasure and generally living for fun. It was this nature of hers which unfortunately drew in Lyra's father when he lived in France.
Alphard Pollux Black was unusually relaxed for a member of the House of Black. He was no doubt intelligent, but he had never strived for brilliance in the slightest. Seemingly, his only motivation in life was to coast by and have fun. He enjoyed toeing the line of propriety, though never enough that he would cause a scandal and be disinherited. The constant lectures from his father were standard fare after a while, even if Alphard had the sneaking suspicion that his father was actually rather amused with his antics.
After graduating from Hogwarts, Alphard knew that he would probably be drafted into politics like the rest of his family, which went completely against his plans to have more fun. His solution had been to immediately pack up and move to the family home in France and paint for a living. When he'd received an indignant letter from his great-uncle Sirius (who was the Head of the family) about his actions, he promptly replied that no one told a Black what to do, and that was that. (Unknown to him his father had laughed uproariously at that, and refused to admonish his son because he had been so amused.)
Alphard was a playboy, to put it simply, and he enjoyed working at his leisure so that he could spend as much time as possible with whomever had caught his fancy that particular week – he certainly didn't discriminate by gender, he didn't want to deprive himself of any options – and he spent just over two years ensconced in his little bubble of lazy happiness after school.
Which promptly ended when it turned out that the contraceptive charms had failed in his drunken tryst with one Margot Caron and she'd been 'helpful' enough to inform her cousin, the Minister, that she was with child. His child. He had vaguely considered throttling the woman at the time.
It wasn't that he hated her, it was just that he disliked her immensely. Their 'relationship' was supposed to be entirely physical and he had no plans for immediate fatherhood. His decision was taken out of his hands when the cousin Minister and his family collaborated for a quick wedding, and that was the end of that discussion.
They agreed to stay in France – Alphard was sure that his family didn't want the possibility of anyone finding out the truth of the situation back home – and Margot moved into his home. He quickly discovered that she was even more of a pain than he'd realised, and her whiny voice got on his nerves almost immediately.
She moaned constantly, about how she didn't wanted to get married this early, or have a child this early, or how the child was making her fat. That last one pissed him off the most. He was mature enough to admit that they had to take responsibility for their own mistakes and taking it out on the unborn child was pathetic, especially with how many pure-bloods struggled to even conceive.
He was dreading having the child with her and eventually began writing to his family about taking sole custody when the baby was born. Just because he hadn't wanted to be a father at twenty didn't mean he didn't care about the well-being of his unborn baby.
When he first felt the baby kick – Margot had been shrieking about something moving inside her – he'd quite happily admit that he fell in love. He had no idea how anything was going to go, or if it was even possible to get full custody, or if he would even be a suitable father for a child, but he resolved to do everything in his power to look after his child.
After Margot went through childbirth it appeared that his plans were no longer needed, as the woman died shortly after the baby was born. Alphard felt a little horrible after that. Just because he hadn't liked the woman didn't mean he'd wanted her dead. In his mind at least, he admitted that the main reason he felt bad was not because her death was inherently sad, but that his daughter would never get the chance to meet her own mother.
When everything came to light, the Blacks had insisted that he come back home straight away. He wasn't stupid though, and he knew that they only wanted him back because he was the first of his generation to have a child bearing the Black name. They probably wanted to raise her to be the perfect pure-blood princess, and a perfect Black to show off to everyone. Alphard wasn't entirely against raising her that way, but it would happen on his terms, as per his instructions.
What people seemed to forget about him was that he was a Black, and a Slytherin too. He knew how to manipulate people and get what he wanted. He wasn't lying when he left school either – no one told a Black what to do.
After getting home he came face to face with his siblings and cousins who were all rather curious about the newest Black, more or less. Lucretia and her husband Ignatius Prewett were ecstatic for him, with two young twins of their own – Fabian and Gideon – and they were quick to offer all manner of parental advice for looking after young babies. (Alphard would deny to his dying day that he re-watched their advice in a Pensieve over and over again until it all sunk in.)
His sister Walburga actually smiled at his daughter – smiled! He nearly fell over – before turning to their cousin Orion with a calculating look that made him cringe. Did she not realised that they were cousins?! Or did she just not care? Either way it seemed that she was happy with her niece and was making plans to entice her cousin into making some children themselves, despite the disturbing incestuous relationship that it would require.
Said cousin was looking at the small bundle in Alphard's arms a little nervously. Orion had always been a little sensitive and anxious, and at that moment the eighteen-year-old had his eyes darting around looking for an escape, especially with the intense stare from Walburga. What no one outside the family knew was that Orion was rather scared of women for some reason, and Alphard had long since suspected the younger man to be gay.
Lastly his younger brother Cygnus peered up at the child with a kind of superior curiosity on his face. As the youngest of their generation at nine-years-old, he probably thought that he had to act more like a serious adult to be taken seriously by anyone, especially with such an age gap between he and his cousins. It had back-fired rather spectacularly on him, as the women thought that he was utterly adorable while the men simply found it amusing that he was trying so hard.
Alphard truly felt bad for his brother as he'd just been entered into a betrothal contract with the fourteen-year-old Druella Rosier, and he had a sneaking suspicion it was because Pollux didn't want to deal with another son going off the rails and ending up with a baby. Sorry, Cyg.
The baby in question was looking around with undisguised curiosity at her family, and Alphard thanked every deity he knew of that she hadn't started crying. Lyra was actually very quiet for an infant, and usually contented herself with focusing her unusually intelligent eyes on anything that she could see as if trying to categorise her surroundings. Her eyes were still baby blue at two months, but she had a full head of silky black hair like his and he hoped her eyes would eventually fade to silver like his. He knew that it was petty but he was extremely smug that she looked so much like him, with only a small button nose and pouty lips from her mother.
For now he would count his blessings that they liked his daughter, and could only hope that the rest of the family accepted her.
As it turned out most of them did. His cousin/uncle Arcturus and his wife Melania were openly happy for him, even if Arcturus seemed a little annoyed that Pollux had a Black grandchild before him. The couple were some of his favourite relatives, as even if they were cold and calculating in public they were genuinely kind in private (at least with the family members they liked). It was easy to see where Lucretia and Orion got their personalities from. Perhaps he should mention Walburga's interest in Orion?
Lycoris and Cassiopeia were Black women through and through, and looked at his daughter with unholy glee at the prospect of a future protege. The two she-devils delighted in causing trouble for other families, and Alphard knew between the two of them they had enough blackmail material to crumble the Ministry to ashes if they chose to. They were smart however, and knew how and when to use such information, and they seemed determined to teach his daughter to do the same in the future. He made a mental note to make sure that she was aware of what they were like when she was older.
His great-uncle Arcturus was currently ill but he received a note congratulating him all the same, and Alphard counted it as acceptance of Lyra. He met his cousins Callidora, Cedrella and Charis privately, what with Cedrella being disinherited, and the three women were all overjoyed for him; he suspected it was because they were all parents themselves. Callidora currently had a seven-year old boy named Edmund and was very content at being part of a laid-back family like the Longbottoms and was relieved not to be a Black anymore.
Cedrella had three boys and was loving motherhood in a very un-Black fashion to her sisters' amusement, as the Weasleys were a lot more relaxed than the House of Black. Her oldest was Arthur at two, and she had just given birth to twins Tristan and Gareth a few months before Lyra was born. Cedrella seemed to find a twisted pleasure in disregarding any form of etiquette she had ever employed as a Black, and Alphard thought she was hilarious.
Their sister Charis was more composed than the other two, but she was happy to recount tales of her four-year-old Bartemius who was unusually serious as a child, and Alphard dearly hoped his daughter would be a happier child than that. He was hoping that her next child, due in the next month, would at least be able to smile without looking constipated.
His great-Aunt Belvina was a recluse as were her children and descendants, so those introductions didn't pan out, and his cousin Regulus and Alphard's mother Irma were in agreement that the French blood from Margot had sullied the Black family. Regulus had always been bitter as the younger brother who didn't inherit the family, and his mother was a righteous bitch who still resented how she'd married into the family. Considering his father had only been thirteen when Walburga was born and fifteen when he came along, he had a feeling that she didn't marry his father willingly.
Of course good old Uncle Sirius, Lord Black himself, turned up at one point to 'meet' the newest member of the family as well. It took all of Alphard's willpower not to curse the old man and flee with his daughter when the bastard looked at Lyra with those calculating eyes, as if he was already planning on how she could be used for the betterment of the House of Black. Alphard dearly hoped he'd die soon and do everyone a favour.
He also managed to meet up with his aunt Dorea and uncle Marius. Dorea has just managed to avoid being disinherited by the skin of her teeth because the Potter family was in good standing and had a lot of money to their name; she'd only just got married and was visibly relieved at being out from under the thumb of her birth family.
His uncle on the other hand was enjoying his life in the muggle world. After being tossed aside for being a squib he'd decided to viciously work his way through school and university, and was now using the fact that he was a partner in his own business as a giant middle finger to the Black family. Alphard thought it was great. He always had to be careful meeting with his uncle because his family generally pretended he didn't exist, and now it was worse as he had a daughter to care for. He couldn't allow himself to get caught doing something that would have repercussions for her.
He may have been willing to play with his own life, but Lyra's was out of the question. He'd already found a small house – for the Black family – for the two of them to live in which the family reluctantly agreed to, but not before ensuring they spent at least two days a week at the manor. If that was all it took to ensure his daughter grew up at least half-normal – he had no illusions when it came to his parenting skills – then he would do it.
Alphard always made sure to impress upon his daughter the importance of control, even as a toddler. Control over what she did, where she did it, and who saw her. He got the strangest feeling that she understood most, if not all, of what he said, and in the end he just spoke to her as an adult, if with simpler language.
She was exceptionally advanced for her age. She spoke and walked quicker than what child development books said, and her magic was unnaturally controlled for a three-year-old, as he'd found out once when walking into her bedroom to see her toys flying around the room at a calm pace before gently settling in their original places.
He was torn between pride and worry. He thought that it was amazing that she was developing so quickly, but wondered if it was indicative of an underlying problem. He'd even called a Healer at one point who had been sworn under every oath possible before he'd even been allowed to see the girl – Alphard may have been a little overprotective of his daughter – and checked her with every spell he could think of before informing the worried father that his daughter was perfectly healthy, if strangely advanced.
His family was another cause for concern. All Blacks started their learning early, and if his great-uncle Sirius found out that she was so advanced he'd end up using her as a pawn for his own gain. Sirius was, quite frankly, an arsehole. He was everything Alphard hated about pure-bloods, with his blatant racism, ignorance towards other cultures, and hatred for muggles. His father had rather skewed views towards muggle-borns too, but that stemmed from their ignorance towards magic and the lack of family magic in their blood, to which Alphard could agree to some extent.
Sirius didn't care to help their society, only to help the House of Black. He didn't seem to realise that bettering their world would also serve to better the family, and Alphard honestly couldn't wait for him to bite the dust and for Arcturus to take over. His cousin was shrewd and devious, but was open-minded enough to listen to others' opinions, and he had ideas for the Wizengamot which would help create a better society and give the family a better reputation.
That he also adored Lyra was a point in his favour. The cheerful girl always managed to get a smile from the stately man who had seemingly adopted her as a granddaughter. He and Melania were constantly spoiling the girl to Alphard's frustration. Outward frustration at least. Inwardly he agreed with them and constantly showered his daughter with gifts and affection. He considered it his fatherly duty to spoil her, probably because she was the spitting image of him.
It seemed he had been lucky with her eyes, which had faded to the customary silvery-grey of the Blacks. They were wider than his but framed with thick curly lashes that made them stand out even more. She had silky black hair which fell in loose curls past her shoulders – he couldn't bear to cut it even a little – and a face that was strikingly like his. It was obviously round with baby fat, but he could see where her cheekbones would be high like his, with a similar jawline if softer. Her small button nose and full lips were still the only things from her mother, but Alphard thought he was right in saying that she was utterly adorable, and he dreaded the future when she got old enough to attract attention from boys.
At least the library was filled with curses for him to use.