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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.

Chapter Text

It may have callous to some, but as soon as Arcturus Black noticed his father getting ill over the past year he'd started making plans for the future betterment of his family for when he would finally take over. He could easily admit that his father’s ideas simply weren’t helping the family anymore, and he just wanted the idiocy to stop. When Sirius had collaborated with Pollux to betroth young Cygnus it had been enough make him want to bang his head against his desk. Pollux wasn’t a bad father per se, but his ideas on how to help his children were rather … off. Arcturus had only just managed to convince him that a betrothal between Walburga and Orion was a bad idea, and he supposed that the recent drama with Cygnus and Druella had helped distract him.

The two had been found in bed together after the seventeen-year-old girl seduced her twelve-year-old betrothed, causing scandal within both the families. She hadn't been pregnant, but the Rosiers had been furious at her loss of virtue and had demanded an immediate marriage when they'd found out about the illicit relationship. A quick and somewhat scandalous wedding later – the groom had only been twelve after all – the two had been married, and then the girl went and got herself pregnant. The two of them were quickly pulled from Hogwarts and Druella took her exams at the Ministry before tutors were hired for Cygnus’ continued education.

She was now a few months pregnant and living in the Manor with Cygnus – there was no way in hell that those two were going to live alone after this mess – and learning how to be a Black from Cassi. Pollux was too busy being pissed off at his youngest son to worry about Walburga and Orion – thank Merlin – and everyone was reeling from the fact that the family was about to have a new member so soon.

While the situation wasn’t funny in the slightest, Arcturus couldn’t help but inwardly smirk at the irony whenever he saw the stressed face of Pollux. He was so busy berating Cygnus that he seemed to have forgotten the situation mirrored his own marriage very closely.

He had been betrothed to Irma at a young age like his son, and then when he had been twelve the two of them got drunk together at a function and slept together. Unfortunately for them Irma had been pregnant, and to avoid a further scandal the Blacks and the Crabbes collaborated and made Irma drink a very dangerous and very illegal potion that would extend her pregnancy a little so that it looked like she'd conceived after the impromptu wedding.

Granted the situation also mirrored his own marriage somewhat, but at least he’d had some feelings for Melania when they had been married off too quickly. Phineas Nigellus Black may have been a good Headmaster and shrewd Lord Black, but he'd led the family through total authority and disregarded anyone’s thoughts and opinions but his own.

At the time of Arcturus’ marriage, random diseases had been popping up in the magical community that were especially deadly to young children, and with only a few Black children in existence, fourteen-year-old Arcturus had been swiftly married off to the eighteen-year-old Melania Macmillan and told to reproduce. Phineas’ ‘brilliant’ plan had been, instead of protecting the children that they'd already had, they should just make more. Arcturus had never been more disgusted with his grandfather.

Lucretia had been born just shy of his fifteenth birthday and the stress of a teenage marriage and fatherhood at fourteen had made his schoolwork suffer. Shockingly, his father Sirius had come to his defence and told Phineas that Arcturus would not be siring any more children just for the sake of his plans. Granted he'd only said it for the family and not Arcturus, but it had been appreciated all the same. He'd been sent to Hogwarts with the knowledge that his new wife would be caring for their daughter during the school year and he could focus on his work.

Luckily for him, Phineas had then turned nearly all his attention to the school, and he'd managed to graduate and finally get to know his wife. He had eventually grown to love Melania completely, and the two had taken great joy in raising Lucretia together. A few years after Phineas died they'd decided to try for another baby, and Orion Arcturus Black joined the world shortly thereafter. Arcturus would never understand his father and grandfather’s disregard for their children’s wellbeing; he would never deny his family’s happiness if he could help it. As long as they weren't stupid, anyway.

Arcturus knew his father probably wouldn’t last more than a few years at this point and decided to get ready for when he took over. The first thing he would do is make sure no Black could be forced into a betrothal against their will, even at the request of their parents or even the Head of the family. He supposed watching his daughter’s happy marriage and looking after his grandchildren – including Lyra – had softened him somewhat, but he knew that forcing two people to marry against their will wouldn’t help the family at all.

He would also make sure that if someone in the family actually wanted a betrothal they would have to be tested for compulsion spells and potions, or anything that modified behaviour. It might be harsh but he was honestly concerned about how Walburga kept looking at his son. Orion was undoubtedly smart, but he was naïve with women and Arcturus didn’t want his niece to force a marriage where it wasn’t wanted.

He really needed to speak with Orion about his aversion to women, too. Ever since Alphard had drunkenly suggested that Orion was gay Arcturus couldn’t stop thinking about it. He had no problem with his son being interested in men – same-sex couples could still have children, after all – but he more was concerned that Orion would end up married to someone he didn’t like from fear of persecution.

He resolved to talk to his son the next day, but for now he really needed to go through these assets and prepare for the future of the Black family. Why on earth do we own a bar anyway?

Lyra Black – once known as Harry Potter – looked over at her cousins on the floor from where she was sitting before glancing over at their mother. Druella Rosier Black was a bitch, plain and simple, and she had a sinking feeling that this person was the one really responsible for Bellatrix going mad in her old life. If it weren’t for the fact that she was actually an adult in the body of an eight-year-old – and yes, she called herself a girl now, it was too tiring trying to differentiate and reconcile her two lives from one other – she might not have realised what was going on.

A regular eight-year-old wouldn’t have noticed that four-year-old Bellatrix flinched away from her mother whenever she moved. They wouldn’t have noticed how she favoured one leg when she walked around the manor. They wouldn’t have noticed how she stood in front of two-year-old Andromeda as if she could shield the younger girl with her own body. And they wouldn’t have noticed how she looked at her own mother, the woman who'd birthed her, with fear in her eyes.

Lyra knew she couldn’t just let this carry on. She knew Druella was bitter that she’d had to marry Cygnus so quickly, but it was her own fault for seducing a child just because she could. Lyra had long since perfected her ability to walk around Black Manor silently and eavesdrop on her elders, and she knew a lot more about the goings on of her family than she’d admit – Aunt Coris and Aunt Cassi had made sure that she knew the value of information and how to use it to her advantage. (It was certainly a different childhood education than Harry had ever received.)

As the unnaturally smart child that she was (or so everyone thought), she had the respect of most of the older Blacks and she knew that they’d listen to her if she told them something was going on. They had certainly listened when she’d found Walburga brewing Amortentia for Orion a few months back. The woman was now undergoing extensive therapy with a Mind Healer in a private location to preserve the integrity of the family. That, and keep her far away from Orion.

The point was they would listen to what she had to say, and between her tutoring in how to be a Black and her memories of being Harry Potter and handling the press, she had the ability to get her point across subtly but firmly. She had the sinking feeling that she would have no hope of avoiding being Sorted into Slytherin this time around.

She wished that she could tell Cygnus what was happening, but he was just as abusive towards his children even if he did it slightly differently. He was beyond disappointed that he had only sired daughters for the family, since even the baby Druella was carrying now was a daughter, and he always made sure to let Bellatrix and Andromeda know just how much of a disappointment they were to him. Andi was only two and didn’t understand what was said, but Bella was smart for a four-year-old, and Lyra could see the pain in her eyes when her usually-absentee father showed up just to remind her that she wasn’t wanted.

Lyra hated them both with a passion. She couldn’t bear to see her baby cousins treated like that. They were innocent children who had done nothing to deserve their parents’ hatred, except be born because of their parents’ mistakes. Cygnus hated that he only had daughters and hated them for it, and he hated Druella for not providing a son. Druella hated her husband for having to marry him, and she hated her children for earning her husband’s ire. The entire family was an explosion waiting to happen, and the children were caught right in the middle.

She could not in any way reconcile the mad woman who’d callously murdered her beloved godfather with the small girl who toddled around after her grinning and calling her ‘Ly’. Bella was utterly adorable and seemed to idolise Lyra, seemingly because she proved to everyone that girls could be just as strong as boys. She was unusually strong-willed as well, probably because of her parents’ abuse, and once told Lyra that girls were going to rule the Black family. It seemed when Cygnus said that girls were useless Bella decided to prove him wrong.

The two of them looked very similar with curly black hair and silver eyes, even more than Bella and Andi did. But while Bella idolised Lyra, she adored Andromeda. She took the task of being a big sister very seriously and did everything in her power to teach and protect her. Lyra hated the fact that a four-year-old already knew enough about abuse to have to do so. It brought back memories of being Harry Potter; Harry nursing a broken arm, Harry crying in a cupboard, Harry running from bullies … If there was one thing that she hated it was children being abused, and she swore that she would do something to stop it.

Lyra made her way through the expansive halls of Black Manor, inwardly snorting at the over-the-top extravagance. At least there’s no elf heads on the walls here. She couldn’t help but compare it to Grimmauld Place in her previous life. Arcturus would have had a fit at how Walburga left it to disrepair and he would have hated the dark and dreary décor. Black Manor was very opulent, yes, but it was decorated with wide open rooms and light colours, so if anyone visited it wouldn’t look like it was steeped in dark magic. Those rooms were there of course, but they were carefully hidden away from outsiders.

She came to the door of the main study for the Head of the family and took a deep breath. Arcturus may have spoiled her like a granddaughter but this was a serious situation. This was something that had the potential to ruin the family if others found out that Druella was abusing her children and that Cygnus was letting it happen, not to mention it could put the girls in a vulnerable position. She’d thought about telling her dad, but he was impulsive for a Black – her future Sirius had to get it from somewhere – and this situation needed to be handled delicately.

The girl was just glad that Arcturus was the Head of the family and not his father. He’d died three years ago and everyone had breathed a collective, if private, sigh of relief. Except for Regulus that is, who was still bitter that he didn’t inherit the family. The git had disappeared after that and she’d heard that he was the one now living in Grimmauld Place with occasional visits from Aunt Coris and Aunt Cassi. Lyra had a feeling those visits were more for their entertainment than his.

She knocked on the door and walked in after she was called. She opened the door and looked around the large study, once more marvelling at its sheer masculinity. The hand-made desk was at least six feet wide in a dark glossy mahogany with intricate carvings all over, and in front of it sat two small chairs.

All the furniture was the same wood, with the walls covered in bookcases from floor to ceiling. There was a large fireplace in front of which was an emerald green rug and two high-backed armchairs and a coffee table. A slightly larger table was on the other side of the room surrounded by two leather sofas for more informal meetings.

Arcturus looked up and smiled at her, gesturing her to sit down while he finished what he was writing. She closed the door and walked over to sit in one of the chairs in front of his desk. He raised an eyebrow at that, which became a worried frown when she spoke.


Lyra didn’t call Arcturus ‘Grandfather’ unless they were in public. Or if there was trouble. She usually smiled at him and called him ‘Granddad’ before skipping over to the chair by the fireplace.

But they were alone and she wasn’t smiling, instead sitting in front of his desk looking dead serious like she had with the love potion incident last year.

Arcturus wanted to scream in frustration at his family causing more trouble, but a Black never loses composure – where anyone can see them, that is.

“What seems to be the problem, Lyra?”

He sat there, stomach sinking further and further as he listened to his oldest granddaughter describe her suspicions. He knew full well that she never would have said anything unless she was certain of what was happening as she cared too much about the family to cause trouble on purpose. It was that fact more than anything that had him believing her concerns immediately.

He knew straight away that Bellatrix and Andromeda would have to be removed from Cygnus and Druella’s ‘care’, as would the baby when it was born in a few months. He knew that Cygnus was only seventeen right now, but his behaviour was utterly ridiculous. He had no idea where he had gotten the idea that only having daughters was a bad thing, especially with how well-respected the Black women were.

Walburga may have been a problem, but no-one could deny the talents of Lycoris and Cassiopeia Black, even if they were still unmarried and childless. Arcturus didn't give two fucks what they did as long as they stayed true to the family and didn’t tarnish its reputation. That didn't even touch on his own daughter or Dorea. And Lyra was adored all around – he didn’t count his brother or Irma – and he had a strong feeling that she wouldn’t be forced into doing anything. If she even got married she’d probably make her husband take her name, unconventional though it would be to say the least.

Daughters did not exist to be a disappointment, and he knew if left with their parents the girls would eventually be turned into pawns for political marriages. He knew a divorce wouldn’t reflect all that well on the family but it was becoming more common than before. That was the only reason why Pollux and Irma had never divorced after they'd had their children, as it hadn't really been done at that time.

He couldn’t just storm through the manor where Cygnus and Druella still lived, but he needed to make plans for the children immediately. He had a feeling that the townhouse where Alphard and Lyra lived in Chelsea might be best for them. It was where Lyra had most of her lessons and was very different to Black Manor. Lyra still came here two days a week so Bella and Andi could still visit those who lived here, but they’d also be able to get away from the scene of their abuse.

Even if he didn’t dissolve the contract between Cygnus and Druella he wanted them out of the manor and gone. There were plenty of Black properties they could live in, separately preferably, but if they divorced Druella could go back to the Rosiers. Either way the two would not be in charge of their children any longer.

Taking them away might give them the opportunity to socialise with the other members of their extended family, too. Lucretia was now a mother of three to Gideon, Fabian and Molly, Dorea had a son, and the eight children between Callidora, Cedrella and Charis might help too. (He'd always liked Cedrella but the reason she had been disinherited was because she had broken her betrothal contract and eloped. One of the written consequences of her actions was being cast out the family and Arcturus didn’t have the power to write her back in despite wanting to.)

He looked across the desk at the stoic face of his adopted granddaughter and thanked Merlin for her brains. If she weren’t around Orion might have been tricked into a marriage with Walburga and who knows what would have happened to Bella, Andi and their unborn sister. The girl had practically saved their family and Arcturus thanked the stars that his father had never caught wind of her genius before he died.

He got up and walked over to one of the bookshelves and pulled off a stone dish before turning back to her. “Do you know what this is Lyra?”

“It’s a Pensieve Grandfather. It’s used to view memories.”

He smiled at her. “Yes it is Lyra, well done.” He laughed inwardly at the proud gleam in her eyes. She was always very receptive to praise and couldn’t quite hide how happy she was when it happened. It was a little worrying, as if she wasn’t used to being praised for her actions, but he chalked it up to wanting to be useful for their family.

“I would like to see these events from your perspective, so I need you to think about what happened and I will take a copy of your memory, are we clear?”

The girl nodded before a look of concentration covered her face. She nodded again before he lifted his wand and pulled the glowing gossamer strand from her head and dropped it in the shallow stone bowl.

“I will examine this shortly dear, for now why don’t you run along back to your research on compulsion potions – don’t look at me like that, of course I know what you’re up to – and if you see Orion let him know I need to speak to him.”

Lyra’s eyes widened before she flashed a quick grin at the man. “Okay, will do Granddad, see you later.” Then she proceeded to skip out the office.

Arcturus shook his head with a wry grin as he wondered what the Black family would be like with her in charge. He cringed a little imagining what she would do with that power, bringing along his sister and Cassiopeia for the ride.

He banished that horrific thought before planning for a meeting about the three sisters. He needed to speak to some others in the family as soon as possible. Lucretia would definitely be willing to help, and it might bring Orion out of his shell a little too. Pollux might actually kill Cygnus, so he would leave him out of things for the moment, as well as the she-devils. Regulus was clearly a lost cause, but hopefully Alphard would house the girls while they recovered, so he needed to come too.

He sat at this desk for a while before his willpower crumbled, and he took a bottle of firewhiskey from his cabinet and proceeded to drink away his problems, cursing the stupidity of his various family members.

Chapter Text

Orion Black sat at his cousin’s dining room table thinking of how things had certainly changed in the past few years. He had been horrified when it was discovered that his cousin Walburga had been trying to dose him with love potions, and sickened that she didn’t seem to care that they were related. It was her fault he didn’t like women anyway, seeing as she had once gotten drunk and tried to seduce him when he was only fourteen. She hadn't remembered anything of that night but he certainly had, and whenever he saw women look at him with interest he could only remember the awful experience that he'd only managed to escape because of his speed.

The woman was clearly disturbed and seemed to be under the impression that all Black marriages happened when the grooms were barely into puberty or still growing up. She needed all the help she could get, and he hoped that she got it – far away from him. He had always secretly dreamed of having a real relationship, nothing like Walburga’s delusions, but he had resigned himself to doing what was expected of him as Heir Black. There was no way his father would allow his life to proceed as he wanted.

Except that he actually would.

When his father had blatantly asked him if he was gay, the sound that had come out his mouth had been akin to a dying animal, before his father outright told him he didn’t care as long as he got grandchildren from him. Orion had just looked at him blankly before his father sighed exasperatedly and pointed him in the direction of Alphard who was apparently bisexual. Orion had been baffled at that, as he’d never seen the slightest indication of his cousin's attraction to men, especially with the birth of Lyra. (Alphard was a Slytherin after all, and never let his conquests be known in public – emotions are a weakness that can be used as leverage, and he would never allow himself to be that vulnerable.)

His favourite cousin – not that he would inflate Alphard’s ego for him any more – had sat him down and joyfully explained the ins and outs of intimate relationships between two men. Orion just knew that the annoying git delighted in embarrassing him by explaining everything in excruciating detail, so much so that Orion would never forget some of those blasted diagrams Alphard had pulled out of thin air.

After that Orion had finally started dating men – in private – and slowly became surer of himself and more confident. He’d started a few informal lessons with Arcturus concerning the running of the family, and had actually contributed on a recent bill for the Wizengamot. He still avoided women for the most part, especially those like Cassiopeia and Lycoris, though that had more to do with how insane they were rather than them being female.

His cousins were way too much for him, but he had reconnected with his sister more since the mess with Walburga. They’d never been the closest with fourteen years between them, but Lucretia had recently started mothering him more and more which he found more than a little amusing, to be honest. She'd ended up dragging him to see their cousin Dorea as well, and the two of them were not nearly as bad as the other Black women. Sure they were Blacks, but their insanity was tempered by a calm that the others didn’t have in the slightest.

Surprisingly he got along well with his young cousin/goddaughter Lyra who called him ‘Uncle Orion’, and liked spending time with him learning how to read runic alphabets (as Ancient Runes had been Orion’s best subject at Hogwarts). She was a happy and carefree girl who seemed to give him a better appreciation for women, even if she was only a child. At ten-years-old the girl was admittedly very beautiful and was apparently going through puberty early to the distress of Alphard who had started muttering under his breath about evil hormonal boys who would ruin everything.

He snorted derisively at Alphard whenever he started, but even he could admit that he was a little protective over her. She was extremely smart yes, but she’d already received a couple of offers of betrothal and Orion worried that someone would finally manage to get one over on her and she’d end up in a shitty marriage. As a witch she had many characteristics that made her an attractive candidate for marriage: she was pure-blooded, magically powerful, intelligent, a member of the House of Black, and physically beautiful. All in all, she had a massive target on her head and Orion worried that someone would go after her and succeed.

She wasn’t as mad as the older Black women and Orion genuinely enjoyed spending time with her, notably because of her wicked sense of humour. It seemed she was a bit of a prankster and she enjoyed causing mischief in a way that couldn’t be traced back to her. He had no idea where this side of her had come from, but it was admittedly hilarious to watch her wreak havoc and it was surprisingly effective at relieving stress. Orion had unwittingly become her accomplice in mayhem and was now rather protective towards her.

With the scandal two years ago, everyone was now aware of the fact that the newest generation of the House of Black consisted of four young girls who were apparently in the perfect position and available for political marriages. Arcturus had been furious at the very idea when people started speaking about it, and proceeded to make it very clear that Black women were not tools for marriage, and that the discussion was over. In revenge, the two she-devils had ended up getting a couple of people – high-ranking Ministry officials – sacked after it was found out that they had been in the habit of picking up muggle prostitutes. Orion really didn’t want to know how they knew about that.

When the other Blacks had found out that Druella and Cygnus had been abusing their children the atmosphere around them had cooled until it was like ice. Blacks don’t shout and scream when they hear something they don’t like, instead their anger turns cold and they become viciously cruel to their victims. They were sat around the table as Arcturus had spoken of Lyra’s suspicions, becoming more and more furious at the mere suggestion of abuse. Children were precious to pure-blood families, especially as it was becoming increasingly difficult to conceive, so to even think of treating them in such a way was outrageous. That didn't even get into the disaster that was Obscurials; nobody wanted to tempt fate like that.

It was soon decided that the two girls would be staying with Alphard as soon as possible, citing giving Lyra company as an excuse, while Cygnus and Druella would be subtly questioned with Legilimency so as to not harm the unborn baby – other truth potions and spells were too risky for use during pregnancy, and they weren’t going to risk an unborn child for the transgressions of their parents.

The baby would be taken away from them after the birth and the parents would be moved out of the manor permanently. The plan was supposed to have been simple: take the children away from the parents and don’t let the public know about anything. Just because the Blacks genuinely cared about their family in private didn’t mean they had any desire to reveal their personal business to the public.

Anything that happened in private would stay private, especially something of this magnitude. Admittedly there was a matter of pride, which would take a massive hit if it was discovered that some of the people in their family treated their children like dirt, but the larger concern was the vulnerability of the girls if they were found to be victims in that sense. Their plan would ensure the family remained strong, both in private and in public.

It had gone well up until the moment that Druella’s hormones flared up and caused yet another argument between her and Cygnus, after which she quickly went into labour an entire month early. The stress from the final month of her pregnancy had not been kind to Druella; realising that the others probably knew the truth about how the children had been treated, trying to make plans to run away by herself, and the sheer hatred she felt for the monster she called her husband, it all built up until it erupted and caused the early birth.

It had been a difficult and messy experience, and she had barely been alive afterwards. She hadn't been able to take it anymore. She had yet another daughter, she hated her disgusting husband, and it seemed as if her very body was giving up on her. And then she simply gave up on herself. She took her wand and slit her own throat just hours after Narcissa Violetta Black was born.

When Cygnus found out what happened he snapped and Apparated away never to be seen alive again.

Apparently he had ended up in a dodgy bar in Knockturn Alley, drunkenly moaning about having three useless daughters, and Alphard’s useless daughter, and why his life was just so unfair, before he got in a bar fight with a dozen other wizards and ended up on the receiving end of an organ-rotting curse to the heart. A Black, supposedly a great duellist, died in a dingy bar because he couldn’t accept that his life wasn’t what he had envisioned, and his daughters were left with the aftermath.

Within twenty-four hours, Bellatrix, Andromeda and Narcissa Black were orphaned, and everyone knew about the vulnerable girls of the House of Black.

The funerals had been awful, as no one had really felt all that sad for their deaths. Nobody had been able to bring themselves to mourn a couple that had willingly abused their children. They were two people who had revelled in lashing out and causing trouble for others, and even in their last moments they had been selfish and caused a mountain of trouble for their family despite what everyone had done to help them. Nobody had been sad at all, except for Lyra. When Orion had asked her why she'd stunned him with her response.

Because now the girls can’t prove them wrong.”

It turned out that even Lyra hadn't really cared. She hadn't cared that they were dead, she'd cared that her cousins couldn’t throw their future success in their faces, and Orion had ended up at home laughing somewhat hysterically at the entire mess. Even dead and buried there had been no mourners. Cygnus and Druella had died as they'd lived, as a curse that ruined the lives of the people they touched. Lyra had been right once more: it wasn’t sad that that they were dead, it was sad that the girls couldn’t have their revenge.

She had only gotten more like a Black as she got older, thankfully with a little more sanity than the older Black women. Watching her now with the other girls he was glad for that, as he shuddered at the idea of a Lyra Black who was insane. She seemed delighted to be looking after the three sisters as their pseudo-sibling, and Alphard’s house was certainly noisier than ever before.

It wasn’t as if he did much during the day anyway as his painting didn’t take up too much time, and the gallery he owned was managed by someone else. Everyone chipped in to help Alphard care for the girls, including him, and the Black family had never been so close, even with the unfortunate deaths tainting their memories.

The girls may have been cousins but they were all as close as siblings, and looking at Lyra right now Orion knew that she would continue to protect any future children of the House of Black. He felt secure in the knowledge that any children he may have would be adored by the girls, as they too would probably be adopted as siblings.

He looked over at the four girls laughing at Alphard’s paint-covered face and wondered if his future children would be as entertaining as them. He smiled at everyone as he got up to leave – he had a date to get ready for.

Lyra Black sat by herself on the Hogwarts Express in a pensive mood. Leaving behind Bella, Andi and Cissa as they turned their wide tearful eyes on her was rather heart-breaking, and if it weren’t for her family distracting the girls she might have given up on school altogether out of guilt.

She mused how strange her life had turned out since she was reborn into a second life. Going from being a man in his seventies killed protecting his grandchildren to waking up in the screaming body of an infant had been disconcerting to say the least, not to mention the gender change and apparent time travel.

She was thankful that she hadn't possessed the ability to speak at the time, because she knew she would have said something completely inappropriate when she'd realised what had happened. She had been startled more than anything when had come face to face with her new father, and looked at a face that was so eerily like Sirius that she'd felt her heart break just looking at him.

Bewildered hadn't even begun to cover her mood at that point. Even waking up as a baby had been less strange than seeing a face that she'd known to be a Black proclaiming himself to be her father. After a while she'd figured out that her father was Alphard Black, but that had just brought up more questions than answers. She knew all about Alphard and knew that he'd died unmarried and without children, so she was baffled as to where exactly she was – parallel universe maybe?

When she'd found out she was a girl she'd realised that the world was fucking with her again and just ran with it. It wasn’t as if she had no experience being in a female body, as an undercover Auror case she had once participated in, that would never be spoken of again, required going to a questionable club and some rather unorthodox gender changing potions.

Harry James Potter, born 31st July 1980. Lyra Ophelia Black, born 31st July 1947. It seemed Fate still had a terrible sense of humour where her life was involved. Having a simple life was never going to happen at this rate.

Realising that once more she had no mother had been a little disheartening, but her new dad more than made up for it. She knew that, while Lily and James Potter would always be Harry’s parents, she was Lyra Black now and Alphard didn’t deserve to have his daughter constantly thinking of other people as her parents. She'd also wanted to be selfish for once in her life – the memory of wishing desperately for a family in a dark and dreary cupboard wasn’t nearly as buried as people thought, even decades later – and she had been more than willing to take advantage of her situation of it meant she could have at least a small part of her childhood wish.

Accepting that ‘he’ was now a ‘she’ had been surprisingly easy. What with all of the craziness of Harry’s life, becoming a girl had been so ridiculously easy it was rather pathetic. Past bizarre potions incidents aside, Harry had never been the most masculine man, and even being a husband and father hadn't inspired testosterone-fuelled behaviour in the slightest. Granted, being married to the tomboy Ginny Weasley hadn't helped, but Harry as an adult had long since given up caring what other people thought, and had been content to be the more domestic parent of the Potter family. Strict gender roles were never something that Harry had adhered to, and he'd found himself to be rather fluid in that respect.

Being openly bisexual had probably helped, too. Harry had been very candid about which people he’d been attracted to in life despite his happy marriage, and the fact that his wife had also played for both teams seemed to bring them closer together. Gin had always made her husband laugh with how she’d leered at random people they saw, and there had never been any fear of her straying so Harry had ended up joining in to her amusement and their children’s embarrassment.

Ending up as a girl was pretty much par for the course in all the things that could go wrong in the life of Harry Potter. It was a fact that Harry had accepted long ago – if something has the capacity to go wrong, it will fuck up so badly that the end result is completely unrecognisable from the point of origin. A new life as a girl was nothing that Harry couldn’t handle. Being a baby was so much more humiliating than learning how to use a different set of genitalia.

Honestly, the main problem for her had been being born a Black. Sirius may have been prone to exaggeration – and by exaggeration she meant being the biggest drama queen in all of magical Britain – but as Harry she’d been Head of the Black family and some of the things that she had found out about their actions were awful. It was more surprising that they all didn’t go crazy and destroy their lives.

She had been happy that Sirius’ favourite uncle was now her father – and wasn’t that a confusing thought – but she had been concerned about how she would be treated in this specific family. Even as a baby she could hear the surrounding conversations, above all her new father who had a tendency to talk to himself out loud, inadvertently filling her in on the reality of the House of Black.

Meeting them, realising that Sirius’ father was kind, that Lucretia was excitable, and that Regulus hated her … The reactions were so varied that she had been shocked with the truth – that they were a family. A true family, not a group of people who stabbed each other in the back for politics. They argued, they bitched, and they stood together through thick and thin. Some of them were nice while some were not, and she had been struck with the realisation that something must have gone so horribly wrong for them to crumble as they had in the future.

As she'd grown up with them she'd begun to realise with a sinking feeling in her stomach that there was not one singular problem in the House of Black, it was that there had been many that had contributed to the inevitable fall of the Blacks. Walburga’s mental state, the marriage between Cygnus and Druella, and older Sirius’ policies for the families were only some of the problems infesting the family from within.

And they were her family now.

Long ago she might have scorned them for their outdated ideals about blood, but growing up on the inside she had become a true Black. Toujours purs. Others thought it was about blood purity, and while the majority of the family did subscribe to pure-blood supremacy, that was not the point of the motto. Being pure for a Black was about staying pure to the Black family. Always pure, always Black, always stand united with the family.

It was about being pure in the family spirit, the drive to keep the family alive, and it was a way of life that she’d embraced to the full. She was more dangerous now, more calculating. She’d learned how to determine weaknesses and use them to destroy her enemies in the name of the family, even if the enemy was family themselves. She knew that even if Cygnus and Druella hadn’t died the way they did, ‘accidents’ would have eventually occurred to rid the family of its abusive disease.

Harry James Potter was a kind man who'd loved his wife before, during, and after their amicable divorce, who'd doted on his children, and had adored the grandchildren that he had been blessed with. He'd protected his family as a righteous man with strong morals who had advocated for justice. ‘Harry Potter’ was synonymous with ‘light’.

Lyra Ophelia Black was a ruthless girl who would stop at no bounds to protect what was hers. Her adopted sisters were hers, her father was hers, and the Black family was hers. She was cold, and her vicious anger would not hold back as it devoured others in the name of vengeance. Lyra was not light at all.

Harry was Lyra, but Lyra was not Harry. She couldn’t afford to be weak in any way, and if she had to tear out her own heart to protect her family, she’d gladly do it with her bare hands.

Chapter Text

Lyra may have been willing to forgive the future transgressions of the Black family seeing as how she was now one of them herself, but being surrounded by future Death Eaters did nothing but serve to irritate her. Just because they were only eleven at the moment didn’t erase the memories of their murderous older selves, gleefully trying to kill her and her friends. She didn’t know enough about them yet to make a proper judgement of their characters though, and if there was one thing she’d learnt as a Black it was to not take anything at face value.

Her family was a prime example of that, as on the outside the House of Black was cold and distant, looking down at other families in a superior manner, and while some of them were truly like that it was the Blacks’ dedication to magical traditions that caused their behaviour. To see others of their community spit in the face of Magic and turn their backs on tradition was blasphemy to the Blacks.

What people didn’t realise was that the Blacks were Slytherins through and through and had no desire to make themselves vulnerable to any type of attack from the outside. Showing emotions, showing weaknesses … it was never a good idea to lead your enemies right to your weak spot, and The Noble and Most Ancient House of Black would never reveal to others that they were just as much a family as any other.

She had no intention of treating others how her family was treated without evidence of any wrongdoing. For her, the Black family was genuinely close and she hated that outsiders didn’t understand them and judged them with preconceived notions. She would keep an open mind with her peers but there was no way she would naively trust anyone implicitly without good reason.

Looking around the carriage she inwardly sighed at the conundrum her fellow first years presented. Glancing at the childish faces she noticed it was similar to the situation with Bellatrix and how hard it was to reconcile evil murderers with excited children.

The twins Rodolphus and Rabastan Lestrange and Augustus Rookwood had wandered in a while ago and joined her without even asking, before proceeding to ignore her presence entirely and talk amongst themselves. Childhood arrogance aside, the boys weren’t leering manically or throwing curses like their future counterparts, and she found it difficult to see them as they had been in her past memories. The boys sat in her compartment were having a passionate discussion on the brilliance of Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans, and she couldn’t imagine them killing anybody at all.

Lyra glanced up from the heavy potions tome to look at the boys and couldn’t help but smirk at what they’d say when they realised that they’d snubbed a Black. With her book in front of her face, they hadn’t even been able to recognise her. She thought about introducing herself properly before deciding to give up and go and find her cousins. It was ironic how she’d always wished for a large family when she had been Harry Potter, and now her extended family was so large that she surreptitiously kept a family tree to keep on top of just who was who.

Her aunt Callidora had two children now, Edmund who’d just graduated, and Lysandra who was nine. It was odd to see Neville’s grandfather as a young man, but it was even more strange how much Neville looked like Edmund just with different colouring. The Longbottom family was quite genial as a whole except for Edmund’s cousin Algie who was a pain to everyone, and whenever Lyra saw him the git was so patronising it took all she had not to test some obscure hex on him.

Aunt Cedrella was remarkably different from other Blacks, and her sons had inherited her obvious cheer to the delight of her husband. Arthur, Tristan and Gareth were a riot, and Lyra found it utterly hilarious that Fred and George’s prankster nature had actually come from their father. Arthur was only thirteen now, and while he wasn’t as riotous as his future twin sons there were a few times when he got a familiar glint in his eye which was followed by an explosion of mayhem. The twins Tristan and Gareth were the same age as her and would be joining her as a first year. They were just as jovial as her memories of the older Arthur, and she had a feeling the Weasley household was the same cheerful place in any timeline.

Comparatively, Aunt Charis’ children were rather reserved, and when she realised Bartemius Crouch Sr. was her cousin she may have screamed into her pillow in frustration. It had been even worse when she first met him. There was only four years between them, but even as a child he was so serious and boring that she wanted to hit him with a Cheering Charm just to see him crack a smile. Luckily his sister Diana was happier if a bit shy; she had a fascination with mythology and usually had her nose in some book or another. Their younger sister Camilla was similar but more outspoken than the other two even at five, and Lyra suspected that the Crouch household had been visited by Lycoris over recent years judging by Camilla’s speech pattern.

Lucretia’s family was so far removed from control that Lyra often wondered how Granddad Arcturus didn’t go grey when looking after her children. Gideon and Fabian were now fourteen, and between them and Tristan and Gareth, Lyra wasn’t the slightest bit surprised that the genes of the Prewett and Weasley lines had converged to create the menaces that were Fred and George. Nine-year-old Molly reminded Lyra of Gin a little, except much more aggressive, and her verbal assaults painted a very simple picture of how she had come to rule her future family with an iron fist.

She also had a Potter cousin which she found to be a very strange experience. Darius had been born a couple of years after her, and the nearly nine-year-old bore a startling resemblance to her old body with messy the trademark black hair, but instead had silver eyes from Dorea. She hadn’t met Darius all that often because Aunt Dorea point-blank refused to spend any extended period of time in the company of her birth family and didn't want to inflict them on her son, but Lyra could tell that he was loud, cheerful and good-natured. A so-called typical Potter.

By now there were so many relatives of the Black family it was getting difficult to marry someone without them being some sort of cousin, and she dearly hoped in the future she would be able to find a partner whose name was not so close on her family tree. In recent years there had been a few articles concerning the correlation between marrying one’s close relatives and declining birth rates – anonymous letters to newspapers’ editors were so helpful – and more and more people were starting to understand the issue of inbreeding.

Walking along the train she prayed that none of her cousins tried to do the same. They’d only just escaped that situation with Walburga, and even now after her treatment she barely spoke to the family. After finishing her therapy she'd quickly set out to find herself a husband to escape the shame of being with her family, especially Orion – though Lyra suspected it was actually shame that she’d failed to ensnare him – and ended up married to Theodore Nott Sr. not even six months after returning.

Lyra felt a little bad for the Nott of her time seeing as Walburga Black had basically become his grandmother if he were to be born again. A year ago Michael Pollux Nott had been born, and she found it intriguing at the very least that, from what she remembered of her past life, Theodore Nott Jr.’s father had been called Michael, too. At this rate he would be born again, unfortunately directly related to Walburga Black. Lyra wished him the best of luck.

She’d only met her small cousin once as Walburga despised Lyra, probably because it was her who stopped her from seducing Orion, so instead she asked her grandfather Pollux to get pictures of her baby cousin whenever he visited them. He wasn’t entirely happy with the marriage into the Nott family, but seeing as how she probably would have destroyed their family with the inbreeding he counted his blessings where he could.

She knocked on the compartment door firmly and waited patiently to be called in. The door was flung open and she came face to face with a redhead who had a flushed face and a giant grin.


Arthur’s happy shout roused the other occupants of the compartment, and she peered over her older cousin’s shoulder to see two identical faces smirking at her. She simply smirked back at them. The mischievous glint in the two pairs of grey eyes would have made anyone else cringe in worry, but she was the daughter of Alphard Black in this life and more or less the child of three Marauders and Lily Evans in her past one: she wasn’t scared that easily.

Tristan and Gareth knew it too. Originally they’d thought that she hadn't been taking them seriously, until she’d turned their prank back around on them and they’d had to walk around with Slytherin green hair for three days straight. They’d been six at the time, and ever since then the trio had got along like a house on fire. Granddad Arcturus looked at them with pure dread whenever he saw them, and the pain in his eyes upon seeing them together was honestly kind of hilarious.

The final occupant was sat silently in the corner with a muggle book on Roman mythology, and Diana lifted her brown eyes quickly to smile at Lyra before going back to her book, face hidden behind long black curls. Nobody was that surprised by her behaviour anymore and they left her to it.

She strolled into the compartment before closing the door and sitting down next to Arthur, who frowned at her slightly. His ability to sense the mood was uncanny, she thought.

“What’s wrong, Ly?” His worried tone made her smile inwardly; no matter how old he was, Arthur Weasley would always sound like a worried brother-slash-parent.

The tone of his voice sobered everyone quickly, and they all – including Diana – turned to her with questioning looks.

She sighed. “It’s nothing, really. It’s just ... I was just in a compartment with Rodolphus and Rabastan Lestrange and Augustus Rookwood. They seem to be fairly sure they’re headed to Slytherin, and everyone knows I’m likely to go there too, and it’s just … I’m not sure how to react to them. I know judging them from rumours isn’t the best idea, but I can’t help but keep my guard up around them.” She finished with a frustrated frown.

“Because of the rumours about their fathers?” Diana’s voice was soft but her eyes were glinting in a way that reminded everyone her mother was a Black first and foremost.

Lyra nodded, and the twins and Diana nodded back. Arthur frowned some more but didn’t disagree with her. He always liked to see the best in people but he was a little more cunning than in her previous life, and was very devoted to protecting his family. (Apparently seeing Walburga go mad had prompted Cedrella to instil a little more caution into her children, and prompted them not to trust people at face value.) Whether he liked it or not, the possibility was there that the other children were a threat to his family.

Rufinus Lestrange, the father of Rodolphus and Rabastan, was rumoured to be an associate of someone that was acting like a rising Dark Lord and he’d had quite a few skirmishes with the DMLE in the past few years that hinted at the untoward nature of the House of Lestrange. Not to mention the betrothal contract that Lyra had received from the family years ago about a marriage between her and Rodolphus. The fact that the contract had been covered with a mild but dangerous compulsion charm had been almost too much for Arcturus, and the elder Lestrange had only escaped incarceration – and death – by calling in every favour he had.

Augustus Rookwood on the other hand was the son of a man who would have been convicted of muggle baiting and torture if he hadn’t used the classic ‘I was Imperiused’ excuse. She was actually surprised it worked at this point in time, and she wondered if the people following Voldemort now were practicing their pleas in case he died.

“I don’t think there’s much you can do, to be honest. Unless you manage to avoid Slytherin, which is highly unlikely, you’re probably going to have to interact with them daily.”

“Just be civil with them. And try to avoid the Lestranges as much as possible, old Arcturus'll go ballistic if they get too close after the contract fiasco.”

The twins tried to be helpful but Lyra was aware the situation didn’t really have an option for peaceful resolution. They would all be in the same House together, of that she had no doubt, and she would have to deal with the possibility of not-so-sane children on top of the cloak and dagger politics of the House of snakes.

Lyra always knew she would be in Slytherin; Harry was supposed to have been in Slytherin, and growing up this time as a Black had cultivated her cunning to where it came as naturally as breathing. She was a Black and was ambitious by nature – even if most of her ambition pertained to protecting her family – and this new life had given her the opportunity to develop in a way not constrained by the expectations of others. Her family may have expected a lot from her but that wasn’t because of a stupid title given as a baby, it was simply because she was one of them.

While there was a part of her that cringed at the thought of the political nature of Slytherin and wanted to avoid it entirely, the bigger part of her raged at what it would do to her family. She didn’t mean her older family who might protest her Sorting if she didn’t enter the snake pit, but her younger family members.

Her younger cousins had had their lives very much altered by the presence of Lyra in this timeline, and she just knew that they wouldn’t become the same people as they had been in her old memories. That wasn’t to say that they weren’t Blacks though, as after the Cygnus/Druella debacle Cassiopeia and Lycoris had descended upon the orphaned sisters with a vengeance that made Arcturus and Orion pale and Pollux turn the other way. The girls were becoming more ‘Black’ than before and Lyra pitied anyone who got in their way when they were older.

They were true Blacks and Lyra had no doubt that they’d be in Slytherin. And therein lied the crux of the issue. The last Black to be at Hogwarts was the aforementioned Cygnus, and between getting married at twelve and dying and orphaning his children at seventeen he hadn't exactly presented the best image of himself or their family.

The House of Black had not had a member at Hogwarts in good standing for a while, and if the next one to go into Slytherin was one of Cygnus’s children they’d be decimated. The sisters needed a support network in place already when they arrived so they would be protected, and as callous as it was their other cousins wouldn’t be enough. As primarily Gryffindors, the Weasley and Prewett lines weren’t all that respected by the Slytherins, and while the Crouches were, Barty was too self-absorbed to do anything for his cousins and Diana was too meek.

Which left the problem to Lyra.

Lyra Black and Harry Potter. It seemed a change of name and time did nothing to rid her of her saving people thing, even if now it was more selfish and family-oriented. She despised the idea of leaving her family to the wolves if they came to the school with nothing but the generic respect of the Black family, rather than a personal example. She would embrace Slytherin entirely for the sake of her family, so that by the time Bella and her sisters arrived they would be protected by the knowledge that they were Lyra’s.

She turned her head to see another pair of red-headed twins barge in with a sullen boy between them, and grinned back at Gideon and Fabian’s identical smirks as they poked Barty in the ribs. She shook her head and sat back comfortably, wondering about her second chance at school.

Orion distractedly wondered if hyperventilating on one’s wedding day was a customary occurrence, or if being a Black just invited the bizarre and unnatural to reside in every recess of one’s life. Certainly his life had been a little strange after his cousin had been caught trying to seduce him – it is so unfortunate that self-Obliviation is frowned upon by medical specialists – but apparently seeing the lengths the crazy woman would go to had given him an epiphany concerning his love life, which had ended up saving the future of the House of Black. According to his father, anyway.

Ending up in a relationship with genuine emotions behind it was nothing that he’d ever imagined happening, at least emotions that were genuinely positive. Realising his father had no issue with his family entering into casual dating situations as long as they were careful – *cough* Alphard *cough* – did wonders for Orion’s sense of freedom.

His string of random dates had abruptly ended upon his meeting with the enigmatic Marcus Greengrass. A mere year after Cygnus and Druella had died he'd met the younger brother of Heir Cassius Greengrass and had become immediately attracted to the man who he would go on to love and marry. Their relationship had not been a whirlwind one, full of scandalous trysts and emotional outbursts, but rather a comforting journey as the two of them realised how compatible they were.

It was now nearing the end of September and he was getting ready for his wedding to Marcus. Or at least he would be if he could breathe. Just the thought of his fiancé was enough to make him lose his breath, make his stomach flutter with anticipation, and cause a very strong desire to vomit. Saying that he was nervous was a severe understatement.

His father came in the room and began reciting the procedures for the wedding as he fussed with Orion’s wedding robes, but he was too busy trying not to pass out to pay attention. His body seemed to nod and agree with his father as he spoke, but if asked Orion wouldn’t have a clue what was being said.

Orion’s dazed state eventually cleared, and he suddenly found himself in the middle of his wedding ceremony, the official’s words carrying around Black Manor’s grounds, and his soon-to-be-husband grinning at him knowingly as he watched comprehension dawn in Orion’s eyes. Marcus’ amusement was tempered by the warmth in his eyes though, and Orion felt his breath catch looking at the man he loved.

Marcus was tall at 6’3”, towering over his 5’11”, and he had light blonde hair with a golden tint that fell in waves to just above his shoulders. His dark green eyes were locked onto his, and all Orion could think of was how lucky he was to be marrying this kind and gentle man. A man who had immediately stated that he would be taking the Black name and how he couldn’t wait to have children with Orion. Children, not Heirs. Orion may have cried a little. In private, of course.

The man had even subjected himself to scrutiny by the Black family willingly, and happily let them examine every inch of his life without a single complaint. Orion was convinced that he was a saint. To Orion’s surprise, Marcus got along with everyone in the family – everyone alive, anyway. His uncle Arcturus had not long passed away in his sleep and he was mourned by everyone who knew him. He was never one of the more outspoken members of the family, and was content to leave the major decisions to the Head of the family. Arcturus was missed – unlike others.

Regulus and Irma had also both died in the past year, with Regulus contracting a disease that ate away at his magic painfully until he died while Irma died of muggle cancer, which everyone considered to be the height of irony for the woman who had looked down on muggles as if they were animals. After the deaths the family once more silently and privately rejoiced at the worst members of their family leaving them alone for good. (Pollux may or may not have gotten drunk in celebration of his wife finally giving him some peace and quiet.)

His parents apparently loved Marcus and were shocked but delighted at his vow of taking the Black name. Pollux, still genial over his recent ‘fortune’ had offered the couple his sincere congratulations – to Marcus’ joy and Orion’s worry over his cousin-slash-uncle’s mental state – and the she-devils looked distressingly pleased at the turn of events, as did Alphard who grinned at him maniacally whenever he saw the couple together.

The younger children loved Marcus but Orion had been more than a little concerned about Lyra. The girl was exceedingly dangerous and Orion’s instincts told him that if she saw something she didn’t like, she would remove it – permanently.

As it turned out the two got along well – too well. Apparently Marcus was also a prankster, and the two were soon swapping methods and ideas that were honestly too dangerous for a girl her age. When she recruited Gideon and Fabian and Cedrella’s boys, Orion had been terrified for the continued existence of their house. Marcus found it hilarious, the traitor.

All those memories kept swirling round his head as he looked up into the deep green eyes and he couldn’t help but wonder what their children would look like. He heard the official speak and the two sped through their vows with locked eyes.

When their lips finally met and the magic of their bond flowed around them and settled deep in their cores, all Orion Black could think about was how lucky he was to have met this wondrous man and married him. His beautiful, charming and breath-taking husband.

He had never felt so lucky.

Chapter Text

While many things in her life had changed since being born a second time, one thing that hadn’t was her inability to understand the minds of preteen girls. (Not that she’d been much better with teenage girls, but the fact remained.)

“I refuse to associate with a bastard wench who cannot even comprehend the utter disgrace her mere existence presents.”

“You know, I heard that first years are restricted to mostly theory for Defence. Of course, I’ve already been trained extensively by my family so there should be no issue when it comes to classes.”

“I’ve never shared a room with anyone else before, this should be fun!”

Lyra looked around the dorm and wondered if she should have taken her father up on his offer of home-schooling instead of dealing with this mess. This was a disaster, and the disaster in question wasn’t even doing her the courtesy of waiting before it happened.

Slytherin was a hotbed of politics and alliances on a good day, and not even the dorms, the very rooms in which they were theoretically supposed to relax in, were safe from the subtle and sometimes dangerous manoeuvring of children who'd been taught this world from the cradle.

Every girl of their year slept in one dorm together as did the boys, and within each separate room in Slytherin a hierarchy had to be established to maintain order. Or so Slytherin promoted. Lyra honestly thought it was such a bunch of bullshit, and she couldn't quite believe that mere eleven-year-olds were being encouraged to be so cut-throat just to be seen as the best.

Then again, her own relatives hadn't exactly been quiet about encouraging her to be number one.

Lyra was a member of The Noble and Most Ancient House of Black; she wasn't expected to be subservient to anyone, even if they were Heirs and Heiresses. They might be in line to inherit their families, but Blacks bowed to nobody. (Though if this were true it was especially worrying that her relatives had been so fucked up in the future as to bow in service to an insane megalomaniac. Not that that would be happening now, thank you very much.)

Thankfully none of the girls in her dorm were the future Ladies of their families, so she wouldn't have to deal with the irritating posturing from that angle. She could only imagine some little girl attempting to glare her into submission as they snottily spoke down their nose at her, pronouncing their future power.

Yeah, how about no.

Unfortunately, there was once a time when her name was Harry Potter, and Harry had attracted trouble like a magnet on crack. Being called Lyra in a different lifetime was apparently not enough to counteract years upon years of crack-ish magnet mayhem, and Lyra was stuck dealing with posturing and politics of a different nature with her roommates.

Firstly, there was the defensive panic from Willow Parkinson and Adelheid Flint. The two girls were very much aware they could be entered into a betrothal contract at any moment at the whim of their families, so they were determined to be in charge of their peers to prove they could take care of themselves and didn't need spouses right this second. The aunts of the future Pansy Parkinson and Marcus Flint were beyond irritating, and they seemed to have the same ingrained racist and condescending attitudes of their relatives from Harry's time.

In other words, Lyra wanted to hex them.

Then of course there was family drama galore which necessitated two specific girls using beds at opposite ends of the room. The quiet and dangerous Renata Lestrange was the younger cousin to Rodolphus and Rabastan, but what was especially problematic was her other cousin, a half-blooded Bridget Parsons.

The twins' half-sister.

Apparently Lestrange Sr. was something of a womanising philanderer – which Lyra was already aware of; Aunt Cassi loved to gossip about the bastard, and if she was quiet enough Lyra could usually catch some scandalous bits and pieces of the man's usual antics – and had taken a muggle-born mistress years ago (along with the others he already had). Unfortunately, said mistress had actually fallen pregnant even before his wife, and nine months later came Bridget.

The Lestrange family hadn't always been patriarchal and women could inherit the Family magic. Because she was technically the first-born, there was every chance that Bridget was the true magical Heiress to the House of Lestrange over her legitimate brothers. She'd only managed to avoid being killed because her father was genuinely in love with her mother so decided not to 'prune' his family tree.

Renata refused to socialise with her cousin because she maintained that Bridget had ruined the family, and the diminutive girl had even tried to draw her wand on her illegitimate cousin before the rest of the room interfered.

Preteen girls were their own kind of monster.

The last of Lyra's roommates was a genial and rather excitable girl considering the reputation of the House of snakes, but seeing as this girl would go on to create a rather popular business it was no surprise. Patricia Malkin was a half-blood – because blood status was something people noticed in Slytherin – from a small family known for crafting furniture for wizarding homes. The dazed girl who looked rather simple – and not in a fun Luna way, either – seemed to be the antithesis of everything that Slytherin promoted, and so managed to alienate every other girl within minutes.

And I thought my first go at school was a nightmare.

If things went by apparent status, Lyra and Renata would be tied for first place, followed by Adelheid and Willow, leaving Bridget and Patricia at the bottom. However, Lyra was someone to be avoided by the House of Lestrange because the contract stuff years ago, meaning Renata would either stay well away or try and control her in retaliation. The sheer determination of the Flint and Parkinson girls would make them try to become number one out of self-preservation, and the others were political disasters for their school House.

Lyra inwardly sighed and got ready for bed. Time would only tell how things worked out.

"Hello, Miss Black. You're looking as lovely as ever."

The words were rather restrained and polite, but the overly-suggestive tone and leering posture to the twat leaning over her made her skin crawl. She was eleven, and this moron had the audacity to speak to her like that?

He should be glad there were no adult Blacks at Hogwarts. She had more important things to do than attend an impromptu funeral.

She peered up at the grinning cretin that was Andrei Bole, the half-Russian cousin to the Heir Bole, and valiantly resisted the urge to throw one of Aunt Cassi's favourite curses in his face. The slimy git was admittedly attractive with light blonde hair and sea-green eyes, a lithely muscled frame and standing just an inch short of six feet, but everything about him just felt wrong.

Having to deal with this kind of situation on top of making her classmates, particularly the Slytherin girls, realise just how stupid it was to mess with her would be such a pain. Lyra had already cultivated a reputation of being magically powerful by succeeding with the spells in class ahead of her peers, but in Defence she usually let loose with a little more power than was strictly necessary.

It might not be the subtlest method of showing why people shouldn't try and take her on, but it certainly worked.

Bole leaned even closer to her, and he was getting very close to disregarding propriety by invading her personal space. Lyra wasn't someone without a respected name, but thanks to Cygnus the Black reputation had been shot to fuck in recent years at school. Apparently just being a Black wasn't enough to make this arsehole back up, so she'd have to do something quick before people started seeing her as weak.

"Thank you so much for your kind words, Mister Bole. Is there anything I can do for you today? I was under the impression that NEWT students were far too busy to be socialising in their final year. Unless of course you have no desire nor need to study. It must be such a fortuitous occurrence to know without a doubt that the grades you require will come without a single ounce of effort. I'm so happy for you."

She finished with a bland smile and slightly narrowed eyes, leaning back casually in her chair. Her drawling and eloquent words echoed around the Slytherin common room, carrying to all students regardless of distance. Lyra’s tone was light and conversational, but the barest undercurrent of mocking was obvious to anyone with half a brain cell.

Tittering and small gasps erupted around her and she kept the same simple smile on her face, never once removing her grey eyes from the light-green orbs in front of her. The girl watched as a flash of hatred and fury flickered in Bole’s eyes before it was smothered by a determined amusement that made her skin crawl. Lyra didn’t even need the git to open his mouth again to know she would have to do something.

Her instincts were rarely wrong, and this slimeball was dangerous.

“Ha ha, Miss Black, you really are such an entertaining individual! Perhaps we should get together to study sometime? I could help you get to grips with the curriculum. It is rather different from home tutoring.”

She smirked up at him, wishing more than anything she could ram her foot into his balls, but that wasn’t something a young lady should be doing to someone – where anyone could see her, anyway. (She might have been a former man that dreaded that pain more than Voldemort himself, but she was more than willing to forego male solidarity in favour of brutal violence. Besides, she could kind of see the appeal now she herself wasn’t at risk of that particular agony.)

“Perhaps,” Lyra demurred, “however it would have to be at a later time. I currently have additional work to complete for my grandfather, and he shall be most displeased if it is delayed in any way.”

Which was utter crap; Pollux had simply told her not to get caught doing anything illegal – implying he didn’t care about the legality part, just getting caught - and Arcturus had told her not to burn down Hogwarts.

(Honestly, she was pretty offended at that. She wasn’t that bad. Those last two potions were just unfortunate mistakes. Completely accidental.)

“Fantastic.” Lyra wanted to punch him in his unnaturally-white teeth. “I’ll be in contact.”

And with that, the smarmy creep sauntered off through the glowing green lights and black leather sofas, clearly trying to maintain as much dignity as possible in the face of being mocked by an eleven-year-old.

Contact? I’m sure you will …

Lyra inwardly snorted before she paused, contemplating just how that particular word had a rather different connotation which could still be applied to Andrei Bole. She mulled over her thoughts, absentmindedly leafing through the daunting Defence tome she had from home. (Lyra already knew most of what was inside, but the sight of her Housemates looking at her in wary awe made her want to roll on the floor laughing.)

Technically she had a plan which she could use to deal with Bole, but she wondered what it said about her as a person that she’d even considered it at all. Harry had been a very just and moral person, acting as the stereotypical hero to save people even when the world went to shit. Harry Potter’s actions had been those of a very selfless man.

But Harry wasn’t selfless.

Harry had hoarded those he loved with a ferocity usually reserved for Voldemort and his followers, he’d had a horrendous temper and willingly shut out people that he knew would help him for no other reason than vindictive pleasure at being able to control any measure of his life after his childhood.

As a ‘perfect’ little Gryffindor, Harry had never been able to show his darker sides without someone taking great offense, being appalled at ‘Harry Potter’ not being what they expected him to be. He was a character, not a human.

Lyra was a Black.

While people might not be as respectful because of Cygnus’s actions, there was no doubt amongst the smarter of her peers that she would react with ruthless violence if provoked, and she could see the seventh-year prefects currently exchanging subtle worried glances as they flicked their eyes between Lyra and the door from which Bole had just strutted out.

She had the freedom to act as she wanted to without being hated, without being condemned by those she cared about, and she could do what she wanted regardless of morality because she was a scion of The Noble and Most Ancient House of Black. Her family might nearly all be politicians at this point in time, but their society hadn’t forgotten the battle prowess of the Blacks that killed and destroyed for whatever they desired centuries ago.

It would be stranger for Lyra not to react with ruthlessness if someone pissed her off. Honestly though, Lyra found it quite depressing that being a dark witch gave her more inherent freedom in her actions than the good little lion that the world needed to save the day.

Perhaps the motto for their world should be ‘Rampant Hypocrisy’.

Lyra tapped her fingers on the arm of the chair and smiled to herself. She was Lyra Ophelia Black, not Harry James Potter, and if she wanted to embrace everything about her then nobody could stop her.

She lifted her eyes to the door and smirked, inwardly rolling her eyes at the fifth years next to her that tensed and shifted away. Merlin, they’re pitiful. Even Gin before the diary wasn’t so … sad.

The girl straightened her back and started flicking through the pages with her right hand, casually moving her left so it lay along the armrest with her fingers in full display.

Including the finger with the Black ring.

It might not be the Heir or Heiress ring, but Arcturus was very much in favour of flaunting their power in an understated fashion. The thick gold signet ring with the Black crest in relief was rather masculine for an eleven-year-old girl, but the heavy dark magic flowing through the ring and leading to Granddad Arcturus made her feel at home. (It also reminded her of future Sirius’ ring, and after making that connection there was no way she would complain about it.)

Lyra was a Black and proud of it, and if she had to slap these imbeciles around the head with the truth then so be it.

Bole was going to be her first victim, she’d decided.

Now all she needed were accomplices.

Fred and George Weasley might have never been the most obvious of Harry’s friends, but they’d always stuck with him no matter what from the moment they were friends. Even Ron and Hermione had been shitty plenty of times, but the redheaded menaces had remained by Harry’s side though thick and thin.

He'd hated only seeing one.

(To be fair, if George and Angelina hadn’t gotten married and had Fred II so quickly, there would have been a massive row over who got to name their kid Fred. Gin had been especially determined before begrudgingly conceding that it seemed fitting for George to use the name. Insane woman.)

The twins had been a massive part of Harry’s life even if nobody really saw it or understood, and being in the past was bittersweet with coming face to face with not one but two sets of red-haired twins that tugged at her heartstrings every time she looked at them.

Gideon and Fabian, Tristan and Gareth. Prewett, Weasley. Auburn, ginger. Brown, grey. Pale skin, freckles. Two sets of two, two sets of uncles that’d shared another set of two as their nephews, and looking at them it was easy to see that Fred and George had inherited equally from both sides.

This included their temperament.

Lyra loved her memories of the twins, but she wasn’t nearly so naïve as to think they’d been perfect little angels. They were sneaky, they were vindictive, and some of the pranks she’d witnessed had been nothing short of cruel in their actions and results. But she loved them.

She knew that she would have loved to have their input on her newest plan for the creepy seventh year. Lyra could almost see brown eyes twinkling with unholy glee, freckles stretching as lips pulled up in wicked grins, identical plans of pandemonium and mayhem.

Lyra wanted that.

The girl looked over at the Gryffindor table and glanced between the two sets of twins. They were both mischievous and manic, but only one set had the conviction she remembered from the future twins, a touch of viciousness to ensure they got what they wanted.

(How they all avoided Slytherin she would never know. Perfect little Gryffindors, her arse.)

She carefully stood up, trying not to snort as her Housemates swung their eyes towards her with carefully-hidden interest. (Aunt Coris would be appalled at their idea of subtlety.) After surreptitiously smoothing down her robes so her green and silver tie stood out against the black backdrop, Lyra stepped away from the Slytherin table and strode determinedly towards the sea of red and gold, studiously ignoring the pointing and whispering from her peers.

Lyra stopped before two identical faces looking at her with glinting eyes and quirked lips, already enjoying the fact that her mere presence was garnering attention. Little shits. They're just like Gred and Forge.

“Would either of you care for some fun?”

The twin smirks were her only answer, but seeing as she returned the gesture no words were needed. They knew what she meant, and as she grinned back at her distant cousins she tried not to laugh at the potential chaos involving Gideon and Fabian might bring.

The occupants of the Great Hall were simultaneously baffled and terrified of three grins emanating Peeves-like glee, but invariably were unable to do anything without adequate knowledge of future events.

(Even in years to come Hogwarts would never realise the true depths or motivations of their siege against the castle, and the Blacks would once more be reaffirmed as deadly and ruthless, all thanks to one man-turned-girl who wanted real revenge for once. It was definitely deserved at this point.)

An explosion rang though the Great Hall, but seeing as this had become something of a common event during the past week, students and professors alike wearily braced themselves for the smoke to clear and the ensuing chaos to erupt. (Though of course some were eagerly awaiting the mayhem, and not all of them were students, either. Slughorn looked rather excited as per usual, though that was perhaps the obvious use of potions in the innovative pranks.)

The smoke around the staff table cleared and Lyra had to physically bite her tongue before she lost it and started cackling hysterically. Her rotund Head of House had subtly covered his mouth with a napkin to disguise his amusement, and Headmaster Dippet looked to be employing her own method of control. The twenty-something Professor McGonagall – and it was weird seeing her so young – looked utterly scandalised at the prospect of something like this happening, though that probably had more to do with her idol being the victim.

But frankly, seeing Dumbledore sporting goat ears and bleating was testing the limits of her composure.

The students seemed torn between awe of the prank and affront at it being Dumbledore, though she could see a fair few individuals smirking at the scene with a calculating expression as they analysed the motivation behind this event.

Lyra and her menace accomplices were all aware there was a difference between being known as a prankster and being viewed as a criminal. The spontaneous mischief from the past few days had cautiously been attributed to her and the Prewett twins despite no definitive proof – they weren’t amateurs – but ironically that protected them while their true plan was put into practice.

Andrei Bole was many things, but Lyra personally thought of him as what her own children had once dubbed a ‘man-whore’. The sleaze quite happily shagged his way through the population of Hogwarts that were willing to give him the time of day, and despite what he thought his actions were nowhere near discreet.

She refocused at a particularly loud bleat that cause several students to laugh and jeer, pointing in glee or snorting and trying to hide their amusement at the barest hint of guilt. Not that any semblance of guilt was enough to stop their joy.

Lyra peered sideways at the sound of a small snort to see wide blue eyes looking at her with shock as a hand pressed against the boy’s mouth as if to mask any sound. Demetrius Burke was small and quiet, looking quite uncomfortable with his place amongst the first-year snakes but was valiantly keeping up with the politicking. He currently had his head bowed with his shoulders quivering slightly, and she tried no to grin at the success of her prank.

A quick glance at the clock told her that breakfast still had just over fifteen minutes left. This was the time when everyone started making their way to classes and she could see several students get up and leave so they wouldn’t be late.

It was a shame their day would be ruined.

Ten, nine, eight …

While it might be rather cruel to inflict so much mental torture on the inhabitants of the castle she was much more interested in making Bole’s life a living hell.

five, four …

Really, he was supposedly one of the best students in his year yet he thought that trying to fuck with the House of Black was a good idea. Idiot.

one. Go time.

Unlike the previous shouts of amusement at Dumblegoat these were screams of pure horrified shock. The professors stood up and rushed out the Great Hall en masse, running passed Lyra as she casually made her way towards the door with a slight frown on her face. No need to alert everyone she was anticipating this.

“Oh Merlin, that’s disgusting!”

“How many people are there?!”

“Is … is that Bole?”

Lyra walked out the hall to the sight of the walls plastered with various pictures of Andrei Bole in the middle of his intimate moments, the huge tapestry-like images showing just how much the sleazy bastard got around considering there were at least ten different partners shown on the walls.

She'd done the courtesy of using some obscure magic to blur the faces and defining features of the other students, but now everyone in Hogwarts was aware of what sort of person Bole really was.

While sex before marriage was of course something that happened, people were very careful not to let anyone know in case it affected potential marriages and alliances. It wasn’t a case of being physically unable to participate in a magical ceremony, it had more to do with the shame of everyone know that a member of your family liked to fuck around. Literally.

Thanks to pissing off Lyra by attempting to seduce her eleven-year-old self, he’d just been outed as someone that fucked anything that walked and shamed his entire family. In front of everyone.

The girl looked up at the pictures and smirked slightly. She wondered how her family would react to this.

Don’t mess with a Black.

Chapter Text

The man took a deep breath then let it out slowly, repeating the action several times to try and mute the red haze of fury settling over his mind.

He was going to kill the brat.

It wasn’t even a figure of speech at this point. All he could think about was torturing the little fucker so badly he was crying in pain, begging for release, and all he would do is smile and keep him alive and in agony for even longer just for the satisfaction of getting revenge. The family grimoires were full of unique and interesting spells to use; spells to boil the blood, burn the flesh from the inside, cause agony even beyond the Cruciatus Curse …

Yes, the Black magic was dangerous, and at his core Alphard was still a Black.

People looked at him and smiled genially, ignoring his surname and seeing what they wanted. He was a simple man that owned his own gallery in London, commissioned paintings for whoever had enough cash, and flirted his way through high-society with a different lover every week. Alphard was the Black who wasn’t really a Black. He was open and cheerful, doted on his only daughter, and was nothing like the rest of his family.

The vast majority of their society never questioned why he hadn’t been disinherited.

Lord Sirius Black probably had been on the verge of kicking him out the family until he had Lyra. His baby girl was the first Black of their generation and was essentially his saving grace despite the circumstances of her conception. When Arcturus took over there was no question of Alphard leaving the family. The older man and their other relatives couldn’t fathom disinheriting him because they were a hell of a lot smarter than others seemed to think, and Alphard was a Black through and through.

While some in their family might be obvious with their bloodlust like Cassiopeia and his father, Alphard was quite content to be the more mellow and open Black. People saw him as misplaced amongst his kin and immediately opened up to him the way they wouldn’t dare with his relatives.

It was rather sad that others didn’t seem to know the definition to ‘cunning’.

He was a Black and a Slytherin, and just because others were unaware didn’t mean he couldn’t be ruthless and vicious. Since becoming a father he’d been especially protective of Lyra, and sending her away to Hogwarts had had him reciting torturous curses and spells on the off chance he needed to go and save his daughter.

He should have remembered she was just as much of a Black as he was.

Lyra had thoroughly humiliated that little shit that tried to seduce his underage daughter, so much so that Andrei Bole’s parents had immediately pulled him from school in an attempt to save what little dignity he had left. Not that there was much left after the entire school bore witness to the brat shagging everything that walked in such a public manner.

But that wasn’t enough. That vile cretin of a boy had tried to entice his daughter into an adult relationship, one that would have probably been more than sexual going by his past exploits, and he couldn’t control the burning anger working its way through his system. He wanted to hurt the brat, make him wish he hadn’t been born, he wanted to make him regret every nasty thing he’d ever done, he …

He wanted to kill him.

Alphard wanted Bole dead. Literally, definitely dead. He wanted a body to send back to the House of Bole, nothing that could be traced back to the Blacks but was obviously a warning from their family.


He turned sideways to see his father Pollux and Arcturus standing in the doorway, both men wearing identical expressions of severe and controlled rage. They were stood with their backs straight and posture rigid, as if controlling themselves by sheer force of will not to do what they wished. Alphard had a feeling he knew what they were resisting.

Arcturus looked him in the eye and nodded. “It’s done.”

He said nothing for a moment before slowly nodding back, turning back to his glass of whiskey and taking it in hand, tipping his head back to down it in one with a curl of vicious satisfaction in his stomach. The man supposed anyone else would be horrified at the actions of his family but he couldn’t even muster the slightest bit of empathy in this case. He slammed the glass back onto the table next to him and stood up, drawing himself up to his full height and striding out the room passed the other two men.

Alphard was vaguely aware of Arcturus and Pollux following him in silence but he was far more focused on his destination. With every step he took he could hear the blood rush in his ears, his heart beating into overdrive as the adrenaline coursed through his body. He couldn’t help the rush of excitement, anticipation seeping into his very being as he got closer and closer to his destination.

Upon reaching the door in question he paused for a second to get his bearing, appreciating the hand on his shoulder. He wasn’t sure who it was but considering the sentiment was share by both his companions, he took it as assent from both.

He slowly pulled the handle down and opened the door before walking in alone, relishing the echoing slam as the heavy iron door closed behind him. He was alone now.

Well, they were alone.

“Hello Mister Bole, my name is Alphard Black. I believe we have some things to discuss concerning my daughter.”

As he stepped closer to the flinching young man in front of him he couldn’t help but smirk at the flashes of terror in the sea-green eyes.

What part of don’t mess with a Black do these idiots not understand?

“Oh look, there’s another article about Bole.”

“Shut up, Gideon.”

“I mean, it is a little sad that he hasn’t turned up yet.”

“Gideon Ignatius Prewett –”

“That’s interesting, did you guys know that Nimbus are working on a new model?”

Lyra ignored the stifled laughs around her and glared at the smirking redhead. His brown eyes were shining with amusement and she could see the corners of his lips struggle against the constant twitches threatening to erupt into a full-blown grin. Prat.

His twin had no such issue, and Fabian was grinning like a madman while snickering at her expression. (She had to give the Prewetts credit where it was due; if she glared at someone like that in her own common room nowadays, more than one person was likely to whimper and flee. Sort of. Perhaps it was best described as escaping with as much composure as physically possible. Either way it was pathetic.)

“Gideon, be nice. It’s not her fault about Bole.”

She turned to Arthur with a smile. I actually love you right now.

“She’s a Black, she can’t help but be somewhat evil.”

I take it back, you shitty ginger bastard.

Lyra huffed. “I didn’t do anything to Bole.”

Tristan grinned a little maniacally. “You mean aside from putting pictures up everywhere of him shagging Merlin only knows how many people?”

She opened her mouth before spotting the fidgeting figure and red face of Diana. Clearly the other girl wasn’t comfortable with their discussion so Lyra gestured at her female cousin with another glare before turning to her.

“Diana? Did Barty say whether he was coming today or not?”

The Ravenclaw turned big brown eyes in her direction and blinked. “He didn’t say anything, but I saw him with Miss James earlier so he could be spending the day with her.”

Ah right, his poor future wife who got stuck dying in prison while her psychotic son was freed then put under the Imperious Curse by his arsehole father, that Miss James.

(Honestly, the future Crouch family was nothing but a monumental mess. But then again, so were most of the families that were cousins to the Blacks. Was it the Black blood? Or were they just astronomically unlucky with their relatives?)

So apparently Bastard Barty (as was his name in her head) was enjoying the winter day with his fellow Ravenclaw and once more completely ignoring his family, as per fucking usual.

Lyra hated it when people took their families for granted. As Harry she hadn’t had the best familial experiences growing up, and it was only thanks to the Weasleys that she’d understood what a family truly was. Having her own kids with Gin had been amazing and they’d both imparted the importance of family on them as much as possible.

As Lyra she was no less family-oriented; she loved her father and grandparents, regularly spent time with her godparents, and adored looking after her young cousins who were practically her sisters now. That didn’t even get into all the cousins sat around her now. All of them had practically grown up with one another, and while their perceptions of each other often drifted from friend to sibling and back again, all of them looked at the rest as family.

Except for Barty, of course. He was a self-centred twit who was determined to join the Ministry straight out of Hogwarts because it was the right thing to do or some such tripe that he kept spouting recently. He was uncomfortably similar to how Percy was during her fifth year, only Barty didn’t have a father trying to make him see sense. Her uncle Caspar didn’t seem to find issue with his son’s behaviour so happily encouraged him to the annoyance of Aunt Charis. (Lyra wouldn’t be surprised if the woman snapped and did something soon like beat some common sense into her son’s brain. She might be mellow for a Black, but she was still a Black and had been raised like one.)

“I wonder why,” snorted Fabian sarcastically. “I wonder if it has anything to do with Yule break coming up soon? Perhaps the prospect of a whole two weeks without seeing his paramour is too much of a tragedy to even think about?”

The sound of everyone laughing made her roll her eyes, but to be fair everyone was already sick of Barty’s obvious infatuation with his classmate. She and her fellow first years hadn’t even been there for a whole term yet and even they’d noticed his feelings for Florence James. Poor girl.

“Yeah, yeah, but back to Bole,” said Gideon with a smirk. “Aren’t you the least bit concerned that you’re basically the reason he’s dead?”

The sudden tension in the room was rather uncomfortable and she really wanted to curse Gideon for opening his mouth. Tristan and Gareth had steely-grey eyes focused on her intensely while Arthur was looking worriedly between her and Gideon. Diana had her head bent over her book once more, though the stiffness in her shoulders gave away her caution. Fabian was leant against the wall behind his twin, brown eyes boring into hers with an intensity not often seen on the prankster.

“If he is indeed dead – and remember, there’s no evidence of anything like that happening – then I would have nothing to do with it. Andrei Bole went missing after withdrawing from school, meaning he went missing while I was still at school. His disappearance has nothing to do with me.”

“Okay, maybe not directly,” Gideon conceded, “but definitely indirectly. If he hadn’t tried to seduce you, you wouldn’t have retaliated, and the Blacks wouldn’t have caught wind of what was going on. Because of your retribution he withdrew from school, and as soon as Bole was out from under the protection of Hogwarts he was taken by the House of Black as a form of revenge for what he tried to do to you.

“Am I wrong?”

Lyra sat up straight with a blank face that belied none of her inner turmoil. “I never said you were, but where do we go from here?”


She turned to Arthur with a small frown. “Out of all of you here, Diana’s the only one who isn’t a Gryffindor. I don’t mean to stereotype but most Gryffindors abhor the idea of murder and revenge. Let's be honest here, Bole probably is dead, most likely at the hands of someone that’s family to us all, someone who’s probably a Black. Can you look at me and genuinely not be disgusted with me? My actions more than likely killed someone, they might do again in the future, and I’m really not concerned that someone like that got what they had coming to them."

In the wake of her words there was complete silence and she had to fight the urge to fidget in place. These people might be children in the eyes of the law but they were her family. Of course there were things she wouldn’t be telling them any time soon if at all because of the severity of her knowledge, but she had no desire to completely lie to the people she cared for.

The problem was, she also didn’t want to alienate them, either. She wasn’t lying when she said that most Gryffindors hated murder and revenge, and the idea that her own family was going to turn their backs on her because of what she was like was heart-wrenching to think about.

“You’re an idiot.”

The words were accompanied by a gentle tap to the top of her head, and she lifted her head bewilderedly to see Gideon peering down at her with a soft smile.

“Did you really think we’d abandon you just because you were a little bloodthirsty?”

Lyra blinked rapidly. “But, I – I mean … I just –”

“You’re our family, Ly,” Gareth piped up. “We don’t care as long as you don’t start killing people randomly.”

“Yeah, it’d be kind of a downer,” Tristan added with a sly grin.

She looked around the room and tried not to beam like an idiot. Harry Potter hadn’t had the chance to grow up with a supportive family, but Lyra was going to take advantage of the support with all she had enough for two lifetimes.

Besides, it was quite nice to have ready and willing alibis.

Lyra huffed before smirking lazily. “Please, as if I’d do something like that. I’ve got enough work to do as if is without becoming a full-time killer. Do you have any idea how tiring that would be?”

As everyone started laughing and calming down again, Lyra took a moment to wonder if she’d ever find out the truth about Bole and what had really happened to him since his disappearance a couple of months ago. Maybe she could investigate a little after she got home?

She paused for a moment as she thought about the results of said investigation and mentally shook off the resulting disgust.

Not to self: do not go exploring in Black Manor. Finding dead bodies will not be fun.

“Miss Black.”

Lyra turned slowly with a blank face and curtsied gracefully. “Heiress Fawley.”

As she rose Lyra took in the young woman in front of her. Eleonora Fawley was the seventh-year Slytherin Prefect and the current Head Girl, as well as the Heiress to The Noble and Most Ancient House of Fawley. Despite the fact that she had a younger brother – Lyra’s fellow first-year Slytherin Nicholas Fawley – the other girl’s parents had elected to keep her Heiress rather than hand over the family to her brother. Lyra wasn’t entirely sure what had happened to the family in the future, but considering the Fawleys went extinct she had a feeling she was looking at one of Voldemort’s endless victims.

Eleonora had straight honey brown hair that was currently pinned up in an elaborate twist and pale green eyes, slightly tanned skin and beautifully symmetrical features that had earned her many a fan during her seven years at Hogwarts. She was a little on the short side at 5’4”, but Fawley had more than enough presence to make up for her lack of height, especially with her duelling prowess that had earned her the title of Junior Champion in the National League.

The number one dueller in Britain under the age of seventeen, Head Girl, and the future Head of her family. She was the most respected female of their House, and probably one of the only people that Lyra genuinely respected without knowing properly.

She was dangerous.

Fawley looked at her with calculating eyes, had done ever since the Bole fiasco and his subsequent disappearance. Instead of following their fellow Housemates by avoiding Lyra and acting terrified of her, the older girl simply hung back and studied her.

Lyra found it to be quite unsettling, truth be told. Everywhere she went she felt green eyes following her, focusing whenever she interacted with her year mates who avoided her like the plague, zeroing in when she spoke to and visited her many cousins.

Eleonora Fawley was a dangerous person to have as an adversary, and Lyra dearly hoped that she wouldn’t have to deal with yet another seventh year trying something they shouldn’t.

“Miss Black, what do you think you’re doing?”

Lyra arched a brow in question. “I’m afraid you’ll have to be a little more specific, Heiress Fawley. To what action of mine are you referring?”

“I’m referring to your incessant and flagrant disregard for the expectations of our venerated House. Exactly what do you hope to gain by associating so casually and openly with Gryffindors?” Fawley questioned with a stoic face, just the barest hint of anger in her demeanour.

How about a family? Idiot.

She resisted the urge to roll her eyes and give the other girl the middle finger, instead she met green eyes head on and stared for a moment in silence, enjoying the subtle wariness Fawley was exuding. Lyra knew full well that the silver eyes her family was famous for tended to unsettle people when they were the focus of such a gaze. Lyra also knew she enjoyed freaking people out with them.

“Heiress Fawley, have you ever heard of the saying ‘you catch more flies with honey than vinegar’?”

The older girl blinked confusedly. “I beg your pardon?”

“It’s a proverb,” Lyra explained patiently. “It means that when you want something, you’re more likely to get what you want if you’re nice rather than nasty.

“To be quite frank Heiress Fawley, I can see nothing but stupidity in alienating the other three-quarters of the school because of the belief that we’re superior. While that might be the case, it doesn’t erase the fact that there may be situations in the future where we need a specific skill set that another House possesses in abundance. Cultivating friendships and relationships with individuals that may be of use to you in the future seems like the most logical course of action, not to mention I thought that one of the defining characteristics of Slytherin was cunning. Surely planning for possible scenarios by ensuring multiple contingency plans despite personal preferences is the very definition of such?”

The empty hallway was silent in the wake of her speech, though she could hear the sound of at least three sets of feet scurrying away from the corner behind her. She tried not to smirk at the idea of her fellow snakes getting a massive wake-up call in the form of an eleven-year-old, though it was especially trying as Eleonora Fawley was attempting not to gape and look as floored as she probably was. It was amazing – and pathetic – how easy it was to mentally trip up her fellow magicals by using mere common sense, but it was what it was unfortunately.

Fawley quietly cleared her throat and fixed Lyra with a look of intrigue. “Miss Black, would you be amenable to joining my friends and I during dinner this evening? I do believe it to be a wonderful opportunity to introduce you to some of your seniors.”

Bingo. Point one to Lyra.

Lyra fought to keep the maniacal grin off her face and instead pasted a small smile of her face as she nodded politely. “That sounds like an excellent idea. I graciously accept your invitation, Heiress Fawley.”

“Fantastic. I shall see you at six o’clock in the Great Hall.”

And with that, the older girl spun on her heel and took off through the castle, striding with a pace that suggested that she had somewhere to be and couldn’t miss the appointment. (Considering the people spying on them, Lyra had a feeling what the ‘appointment’ was.)

Lyra turned around herself and started wandering up the staircases in a random pattern, all the while resisting the urge to emulate her female relatives and start cackling like a madwoman. Lyra had been trying to figure out how to gain respect from her peers after the Bole thing, but getting Fawley on her side had been a bloody miracle that she couldn’t pass up.

Fawley was the Queen of Slytherin, and having said Queen respect her and speak to her personally would be like flashing a sign in their common room that Lyra wasn’t someone to be messed with. Fawley would spread the message to her fellow seventh years, who would then pass it on to the sixth years and those younger, and due to Fawley’s brother being her classmate her own peers would soon get the idea.

Slytherin would eventually be hers if she played her cards right.

Lyra was by no means stupid, but she’d never been the most strategic person around. Fortunately, as Harry her best friends had been Hermione and Ron, and as Lyra she’d been raised as a Black. Her education and experiences from both lives had done wonders for her Slytherin mind, and there was no way in hell she’d be noble after that conversation with Fawley.

Slytherin needed to respect her fully by the time she was in fifth year so that Bella wouldn’t have trouble in the snake pit, and they needed to understand that she would retaliate if pushed in any way she found distasteful. The way she dealt with Bole had accomplished the latter part of her plan, and time and experience would hopefully grant the former.

She refocused as she got to the seventh floor and tried to slow her heart rate through sheer force of will. Lyra had avoided this part of the castle and this specific thought for months, too busy with navigating snake politics and writing letters to her insanely-worried father every single day. (She was honestly a little worried that one of her older relatives would try and off her dad considering how mad he was acting. If even she could see it through writing, there was no telling how bad he was in person. Moron.)

I need The Room of Hidden Things … I need The Room of Hidden Things … I need The Room of Hidden Things …

Lyra stopped her pacing and watched with butterflies in her stomach as the door slowly materialised, seemingly taking ages as if to mock her urgency. She really did need to check though; the train was taking them home tomorrow for the Yule break and she couldn’t justify her avoidance any longer.

The girl opened the door and stepped inside, once more taking in the cavernous room that housed not only centuries worth of broken and lost objects, but also some of Lyra’s memories that still affected her today. Seeing her friends covered with cuts and bruises just before the battle, exchanging soft and awkward teenage kisses with Gin, watching a classmate fall into cursed flames and die …

Yes, The Room of Requirement was a strange place to be for her.

She carefully made her way through the maze-like structure of the hall, picking though objects and looking for things that she remembered from decades ago. Harry hadn’t been in the room since his twenties, over half a century for Lyra, and it was difficult to remember what was in here, let alone where anything was.

Except there.

She rushed forward with a look excitement before she stopped, blood draining from her face and making her look even paler than she already was.

There was an ugly chipped bust of some warlock, nose too large and eyes too beady to look good, and it was sat on a wonky side-table next to a broken-looking Vanishing Cabinet. There was a wig strewn on the table at the foot of the bust, but nothing else in this area at all.

There was no diadem.

No, it has to be here …

Lyra dived forward and started throwing things about, almost ripping the hinges off the cabinet in her haste to look inside. Scarves and cloaks went flying, the wig was ripped from the table and launched across the room, surrounding trunks were emptied, floorboards ripped, explosion spells, levitating spells, summoning, revealing, Lyra needed to find that diadem, it had to be here, it had to be, Voldemort needed to die, and to do that she needed that bloody ancient tiara …

The one that wasn’t here.

She slumped to the floor, sitting on her knees with wide eyes in the midst of the chaos she’d caused. There was dust and fluff in her mussed hair, her clothes were ripped and dirty, her left knee was slowly seeping blood out of a long cut across the front, and all she could think about was the diadem. Which was lost.

The lost diadem.

The horrific irony of the situation was too much and she started laughing loudly, tears streaming down her face at how the lost diadem was once more lost. Before long her laughter took on a hysterical edge, sounding far too similar to what people thought of her family on a good day. She couldn’t help it; this situation was a nightmare. Voldemort was a situation she’d never be able to sit back and ignore, but without the appropriate knowledge she was screwed.

Lyra sniffed and looked up at the disaster around her, realising it was a terribly appropriate visual metaphor for her life right about now.

“What do I do now?”

The silence of the room was an answer in and of itself.

Chapter Text

“Come on girls, we’re leaving in a minute!”

Lyra looked down at the small child with bright blue eyes that were sparkling with excitement and had to resist the urge to use her as a human teddy-bear. She looked utterly adorable with her blonde hair in two low plaits hanging down her front, a leaf-green velvet dress with a wide skirt and black collar, white tights and black buckled shoes that were similar to what children wore to school.

Bella was right, Cissa was too cute for words.

It was still beyond strange trying to equate the regal and aristocratic woman that had become something of a regular visitor to Harry – much to the hilarious bewilderment of Draco – with the little girl who smiled widely at her family and enjoyed following her older sisters around like a happy duckling.

The other sisters were also prime examples of the weirdness of Lyra’s life. Instead of an insane woman that had callously murdered her own cousin with unrepentant glee, there was a sly and cheerful girl who enjoyed emulating their aunts for her own amusement. Instead of a weary woman that had lost practically her entire family after running away from the Blacks, there was an enthusiastic and intelligent girl that prided herself on being a member of her birth family.

Merlin, her life was so bloody weird.

“I’m warning you, if you’re not down here in twenty seconds I’m leaving without you!”

Blue eyes widened in panic and Narcissa grabbed her hand. “Ly! We’ve got to go!”

The words were accompanied by a truly valiant attempt from the three-year-old to drag her through their home towards the front room, before the younger girl decided racing ahead to their escort was the best course of action.

Lyra smiled as platinum blonde hair flew around the corner and vanished as quickly as Cissa’s legs could take her. Not that Lyra was worried. Their grandfather Pollux might enjoy acting like a hard-arse and threatening them with missing out, but she was more than aware the man doted on his grandchildren too much to actually follow through, especially with something like this.

She wandered through the hallway and wondered what Pollux had originally done when Voldemort surfaced. Did he support him eagerly? Scoff at someone trying to gain support from The Noble and Most Ancient House of Black? Or did he carefully weigh up the options and decide to throw his lot in with whichever faction seemed most likely to win? If I told him and Granddad Arcturus …

Stop. Now.

The girl mentally shoved her thoughts towards the back of her mind and resolved to ignore them for the rest of the day. Today was about her family, not obsessing over how much she’d been fucked over in terms of Tom-bloody-Riddle and Albus Dumbledore.

She finally got to the sitting room where the large, ornate fireplace sat and saw the three sisters chatting happily about their imminent outing without a care in the world. Her grandfather was lounging against the wall across the room surveying the scene, his usually cold slate eyes almost glowing with warmth as he looked at his young granddaughters.

Her dad wasn’t here for once, the man working in his gallery trying to negotiate with a difficult customer over the price of one of his paintings. (Alphard Black might be well-off – filthy rich by some standards – but he was a bit of a stingy bastard that refused any but the best price for what he did. Lyra just wondered why people were so blind about her father’s personality. Nice? Please.)

"Right, is everyone ready?"

Three young voices all excitedly spoke over one another and Lyra couldn't help but remember her own children with Gin, the three of them babbling and bouncing around whenever they got to go out as a family. It was bittersweet really; it'd been decades since her kids were this young, and she still couldn't get past how much she missed having children around.

She blinked before she smiled ruefully, almost shaking her head at her thoughts. Jesus Christ, I'm getting broody at the age of eleven. Dad would have a coronary if I told him that. Lyra briefly imagined the hilarity that would no doubt come with telling Alphard Black that he was going to be a grandfather before stifling her laughter and turning back to her own grandfather.

(She wasn't too annoyed; she was sure she'd get the chance to enjoy his panic in a few years' time.)

"Come on then, we're heading out."

Lyra moved forward and held onto Andi and Cissa's hands, Bella being a serious and devoted sister and taking Cissa's other hand to ensure the toddler didn't make a break for it. The four girls followed their grandfather out the front of their townhouse and down the steps, not bothering to lock the door considering the number of protection and concealment spells on the property. (Lyra had originally thought it was a tad overkill, but then she remembered having to be talked down by her exasperated ex-wife about putting a tracker on their daughter. Fathers got weird when it came to their little girls.)

She and the elder Black directed the girls towards the expensive-looking car parked just outside and helped them get inside the back, making sure they were fastened securely and comfortably. Not that Pollux hadn't covered every inch of his beloved 1955 Chrysler Imperial with every legal spell he could think of. And of course every illegal one that wouldn't be noticed.

It was hilarious to think that her proud pure-blood grandfather had a thing for muggle cars, but she supposed his regular outings into the non-magical world were more than enough to give him an obsession. Long-term exposure, and all that.

"Ly, aren't you sitting with us?" Bella asked with a frown. She was so cute.

Lyra smiled as she helped Cissa with her skirt. "I'm sitting in the front with Granddad."

Pollux turned around in his seat. "Lyra, is everything done?"

"Yes, Granddad. I'm just coming."

She took a moment to smooth Cissa's dress and tuck one of Bella's mad curls behind her ear before getting out the car and closing the back door, then getting in the front and revelling at the softness of the seats. There's no way this comfort isn't magic-induced.

It was quite a nice experience, though; Pollux was exceedingly protective of his car and hardly let anyone near it. Lyra hadn't ever ridden in it before, something about her grandfather wanting her to get used to other muggle vehicles before going for a ride in something worth a small pile of gold. Though she was fairly certain there was some other reason the insane man didn't want to share his car. Besides, it wasn't as if she could say that she'd been driving for decades and really wouldn't be shocked by anything.

The elder Black smiled at each of the girls before he turned back to the steering wheel with a grin that struck her warning instincts like a gong. "Well then, off we go."

With that, Pollux Black put his foot down hard and sent them flying down the streets of London at a criminally-high speed that had Lyra clutching her seat with wide eyes and mentally praying not to die while reciting every protection and healing spell her panicked mind could recall.

Belatedly, she remembered that the crazy man sat next to her was originally the grandfather to the adrenaline junkie, motorcycle-owning Sirius Orion Black of the future.

She revised her earlier statement about not being shocked by her grandfather.

If I live, I'm never trusting this bastard again.

Lyra didn't remember much of Granddad Arcturus' father, Lord Sirius Black. She knew that her early years had been spent with her father fervently keeping her away from Black Manor and the Head of their family as much as possible, so much so that he'd enlisted Aunt Coris as her primary tutor to seemingly appease the bastard and keep him away from their small family unit. After all, having Lord Black's very own daughter instruct the newest Black on magic and their society was clearly a sign of respect and a way of adhering to the family's rules.

Or it would have been if Lycoris Black hadn't hated her father with a passion and happily acquiesced to anything Alphard wanted from the woman for his daughter. Lycoris had of course been her primary tutor during her childhood, but Lyra had received a very balanced education instead of the fanatical pure-blood supremacist ideals that Sirius had wanted to impart on her.

Sirius had died a few months before her fifth birthday, and it was at that point her family began to relax more openly with one another. Revealing certain pastimes and proclivities that the previous Head would have despised, not to mention becoming more open with one another, were just some of the changes brought by that specific death.

Lyra didn't remember much of that Sirius Black, but what she did know was that the man would have had an aneurysm if he'd seen their outing that winter.

Being driven across London in a muggle car, walking through the busy streets rather than avoid the foot traffic altogether, and even making their way towards a muggle entertainment venue, the trip of Pollux Black and his granddaughters would have made Lord Black furious and they all probably would have been disinherited on the spot. Or killed.

"Long time no see, Brother."

Not to mention the Squib brother.

Marius Black, disinherited at the age of eleven for having no magic, and Lyra's great-uncle. The man was her grandfather's younger and only brother, and the two siblings were extraordinarily close considering Marius' status. Or past status, anyway. For whatever reason Marius had been brought back into the family by Arcturus when the old Lord Black bit the dust, so he was quite free to interact with the Blacks without fear of retribution.

The circumstances of Marius' disownment were something Lyra was completely blank on. Pollux was incredibly tight-lipped about his brother's childhood, and even as the Head of the Black family Harry hadn't ever found out the truth.

She did know that her great-uncle had surprisingly married a witch as opposed to running from all magic entirely. From what she'd gathered of reading between the lines, Marius' childhood exit from the House of Black definitely hadn't been amicable or even simple, as such Lyra was struck by the man's choice to bind himself to a magical through marriage.

It wasn't anything against Squibs, but nearly all of them tried to ignore magic entirely, opting to marry muggles and integrate themselves into the non-magical world. That Marius Black had married a witch – Melania's niece, in fact – meant that he'd willingly kept himself surrounded by the magic he couldn't use. It was intriguing, to say the least.

Her grandfather beamed and clapped his brother on the shoulder. "Marius! Good to see you! How's Felicia doing?"

The other man nodded with a small but genuine smile. "She's doing fine. The Healers have said she's recovering well, she just needs some bed rest and she'll be back to normal in a few weeks."

Marius turned to her and the other girls. "If everything goes well you should be able to come and see your newest cousin before school starts up again. I'm sure she'd love to meet her other relatives," he finished with a grin.

Lyra knew full well a – regular – new-born baby wouldn't remember jack shit and therefore had no concept of meeting people, but she appreciated the offer all the same. Uncle Marius' wife had just given birth for the second time, and he was now the proud father of two daughters, the two-year-old Hadriana and the baby Tatiana. Lyra was sure that both girls would also be magical, given that Marius was technically a pure-blood and had also married a pure-blood. It also begged the question of what the hell had happened to Marius' family in her first life, but she wasn't likely to figure things out any time soon, if at all.

Oh well, it's not as if it really matters. Granddad Arcturus clearly doesn't give a shit about continuing as his dad did, and everyone acting as decent human beings can only be good. Still not going to relax though, this family's still batshit insane. Her heart rate could attest to that, that's for sure.

"You should tell Aunt Felicia she's lucky, Uncle Marius. If she'd had to share a car with Granddad, she'd have been begging for forced bed rest," she added flatly with a glare to her unrepentant grandfather. He really was a bastard.

"I've said it before and I'll say it again, there is not a single thing wrong with my driving."

The casual reply did not impress her at all. "Of course, Grandfather. That's why your other three granddaughters look to be a second from passing out where they stand."

She and the two men looked sideways to see three small girls stood frozen with shock and fear, practically clinging to each other as they tried to remain upright. Lyra looked back at Pollux and glared. 'Nothing wrong', my arse.

Said man grimaced and winced. "Okay, I'll concede that I should have slowed down a little."

"A little?" Lyra questioned incredulously. Did this man have no concept of what was appropriate for children? How did her father survive to adulthood?

"Ignore him, Lyra. Pollux has always lacked common sense. It's a miracle he manages to function in his day to day life."

The wounded expression on her grandfather's face at Marius' words made her snort before she broke down laughing, furthered by the smirk on her uncle's face and the happy grins of her cousins now they weren't paralysed by fear.

It was such a surreal experience to be stood there in muggle London laughing and having fun with her family, especially when you considered the general opinion of her family in the magical community. A straight-laced pure-blood, a disowned Squib, and four young girls that many saw as nothing but future brides were all convened together and having fun as human beings without magic interfering at all.

Things in Lyra's life really were weird.

"Anyway," Marius added before Pollux could start ranting, "the play's about to start, so we'd better hurry so we get our seats before the curtains open."

Lyra tilted her head back so she could look the stupidly-tall man in the eyes. "Uncle Marius, what are we even seeing?"

"That, my dear niece, is a surprise." A large hand came to rest on her hand before gently ruffling her curls. "Don't worry, I'm sure the four of you will enjoy it."

A play that we'll all like? The likelihood was small but she'd give the man the benefit of the doubt. After all, Marius Black did manage to remain at least half-sane after growing up with her grandfather, so there had to be a smart mind behind the intimidating exterior.

"Come on then. In we go before I get any more attacks about my person."

She scoffed. "Granddad, if you honestly think a change of location is going to do you any favours on that front, then I would seriously suggest having a Healer take a look at your head. Delusions like that can't be a sign of anything good."

There was a beat of silence before Marius roared with laughter, catching the attention of a dozen people around them as he bent double holding his stomach. Giggles erupted from her smaller cousins to the side as she smirked at the gaping man in front of her, quite happy to get one over on him for once. Take that, you snarky wanker.

Pollux looked simultaneously bewildered and approving, faintly answering, "I'm not sure whether I should be more offended or impressed. Your verbal quips are delightful to listen to, though I do not feel happy being the target of them.

"Bravo, Granddaughter, bravo."

“Thank you,” she replied primly, inwardly thanking the Draco Malfoy of her past life for being the perfect inspiration for verbal sparring. (He might have been a twat, but the things that came out of his mouth were works of art. Not that Harry had ever admitted that to the smug git, his ego had been big enough as it was.)

Lyra grinned at the exasperated look on Pollux’s face as he corralled her cousins into behaving and followed them into the muggle theatre.

I never thought I'd be here as a Black.

Lyra walked back into her bedroom and closed the door, activating the privacy ward that her father had installed on the off chance that someone might try and get in her room. (Say what you will about Alphard Black’s personality, but he was serious about the protection of his only daughter.)

It was strange that being a member of a traditional pure-blood family that was fully immersed in the magical world had granted her more opportunities to enjoy outings in the muggle world than growing up in muggle Surrey had, but Harry’s life hadn’t ever really been the definition of the word ‘fair’. It wasn’t as if the Dursleys had ever been happy taking Harry out in public where others might connect the small boy to the oh-so-normal family of three.

Pollux wasn’t like that, and today’s trip to London was just the most recent in a string of trips to wherever the man felt like. Of course things had essentially ground to a halt what with her being in school now, but the crazy schedule for her Yule break seemed to trying to make up for her absence in the past few months. (Both her father and grandfather were certifiable, she was sure of it.)

Today had actually been rather enjoyable, and Uncle Marius had been right about all of the girls enjoying the play. She thought it was a little odd that Shakespeare was playing at this time of year, but A Midsummer Night’s Dream was the perfect production for people of all ages to enjoy. Bright and colourful costumes, mischievous antics, beautiful dialogue, there was something for everything and the girls loved it so much they didn’t want to leave.

It was nice, she thought, having some down time to take her mind off her hectic life. Between ensuring she was at the top of her class, playing mediator between her roommates, and being ‘friends’ with Eleonora Fawley, she had barely any time to herself at school.

Not to mention that.

Lyra looked at the trunk sat in the corner of the room, the innocuous-looking design obscuring the truth inside. Granted it was extraordinarily expensive, made of imported African blackwood covered with a sheen that highlighted the fine grain and craftsmanship, and covered with a somewhat-ostentatious Black family crest in the centre, but it still looked to be an ordinary trunk.

Inside was a different matter.

Being friends with a woman that married the grandson of a man with unique – and brilliant – capabilities with charms had granted Harry a wealth of knowledge when it came to wizarding space and how to modify it to suit whatever purpose he wanted. A wealth of knowledge Lyra had continued to put to good use in this lifetime.

The girl walked forwards and bent down, pressing her finger against a sharp spike at the corner of the trunk lid so it would accept her blood and watched as the wood glowed for a second before a sharp click echoed around her room.

She pressed a discrete button located amongst the engravings and opened the lid, looking at the ladder inside. In practically no time at all Lyra was down inside the trunk and looking around the expansive front room that made up the entire apartment inside her trunk.

Newt Scamander really needed a letter of thanks. Maybe she’d send him a book on muggle animals.

The man’s infamous suitcase had been studied by his grandson Rolf, and the cheerful man had been glad to share the knowledge of how to create rooms and habitats and whatever the hell you wanted inside of something that should only be a few feet wide. It was quite lucky when she thought about it, especially with her current research.

Lyra turned to the wall on her left and surveyed the notes and pictures stuck to the wall. Lists and links and ideas surrounded one particular name in the centre, a name that had really and truly managed to fuck with her mind so much so that being trapped in the House of backstabbing snakes seemed like a walk in the park in comparison.

Tom Marvolo Riddle.

She'd put this research off long enough by now, especially with her ill-fated trip to The Room of Requirement to look for the shitty diadem. Her life was complicated enough without the prospect of two wars in the next few decades, but Lyra knew herself enough that she wouldn’t be able to just sit idly by as Voldemort destroyed their world and tried to take over. Her family would be prime targets what with their physical strength and political power, and it was something she was loath to simply ignore because of its difficulties.

And it was difficult, no doubt about it. Harry Potter or Lyra Black, neither had ever been in the prime position to really and truly know Voldemort, and the time period in which she lived was nothing but a massive ‘fuck you’ to her efforts in killing the bastard. Knowledge was something she sorely lacked here, and it was going to be the furthest thing from easy to get even the slightest bit closer to knowing enough to act decisively.

Once more, Albus Dumbledore could go fuck himself.

Before she and Gin had started doubting the old bastard they’d quite happily visited his portrait from time to time, but as her fiery wife had started to realise Harry’s lack of knowledge of the wizarding world as a whole they’d started questioning all manner of things. Why hadn’t Harry gone to live with any of his paternal relatives? Why did he arrive at Hogwarts ignorant of magic? How come he knew nothing about his inheritance?

It was a domino effect of suspicion and accusation.

How dare that sanctimonious, passive old wanker sit there and have the audacity to say it was ‘necessary'?! Necessary?! You know what is necessary? Setting fire to that bloody portrait and preserving the memory for my own fucking enjoyment!”

(Harry had honestly been more impressed with his wife’s expanding vocabulary than her violent threats. Not that he’d said that to her, of course. He’d learnt some self-preservation.)

Lyra supposed one of the biggest slaps to the face came from the headmaster’s admission that he himself didn’t objectively know anything about Voldemort’s life and had therefore been working off theories and ideas with a few facts sprinkled in to make it seem like gospel. Lying piece of shit.

Harry had been running up and down the country with his two best friends working off the vaguest instructions which in turn had been based off of nothing more than what Dumbledore thought was the truth. Not the definite truth, just the belief of a self-absorbed old man whose confidence bordered on arrogance too much to see the folly of his actions.

Dumbledore hadn’t known definitively when all the Horcruxes were made, he hadn’t known the identities of all the victims used in the process, and he sure as hell hadn’t known when they were placed in the spots Harry found them in.

This included the diadem.

Harry had guessed that the heirloom of Rowena Ravenclaw was placed in The Room of Requirement during Riddle’s interview with Dumbledore after he became Headmaster, as apparently it was only after this event that the Defence position seemingly became cursed. Why wouldn’t the two things have been connected?

But the truth of the matter was that Tom Riddle had already applied for a teaching position at Hogwarts at this point in time after he graduated, but because nothing overtly untoward had happened at the school the event had been written off as inconsequential.

Riddle could have placed the diadem Horcrux then, and Albus Dumbledore had admitted it was possible.

That admission was a sledgehammer against Harry Potter’s trust in the Headmaster, trust that began to crumble with alarming speed as the old man casually mentioned that each and every Horcrux hadn’t been where they were in the future always, and he honestly had no concrete evidence as to where they were before Harry’s teens.

The Horcruxes had been moved around over the decades according to Voldemort’s whims and Dumbledore hadn’t had any irrefutable proof as to where they were. The fact that Harry had managed to kill the insane monster was pretty much down to, as McGonagall would call it, “sheer dumb luck”.

“Truer words have never been spoken,” she muttered.

Lyra sighed and ran a hand over her face roughly. She had no bloody idea when the Horcruxes were made other than them all being done in the forties except Nagini and her future-self decades later, only Merlin knew where they were right now – though she had an idea for one of them, at least – and she still had to figure out if they were even a problem to begin with.

As much as it pained her to admit it, there still existed the possibility that Tom Marvolo Riddle existed as a regular person or even a good person in this world. There was a chance that she was in an alternate universe seeing as how her original life had gone on without ‘Lyra Black' even existing, and if that were the case then she was really and truly screwed.

Though I'm still kind of screwed as it is seeing as how there’s no way to even know if I'm in the same world as before or not. God, this is like Luna levels of mad.

She looked up at the wall and flicked her eyes over her notes. She'd only written them down just so she knew definitively that she could remember everything, and even that had had to wait until her core got strong enough to charm the fuck out of her trunk so nobody could get inside without hurting herself.

Lyra Black gazed into the copied picture of the Slug Club with Tom Marvolo Riddle surrounded by his adoring peers and nodded decisively before grabbing some parchment and a quill.

Now, who exactly are this Tom’s very first minions?

Chapter Text

“A knut for your thoughts?”

Arcturus looked up and saw the amused face of his daughter, lips pulled up in a happy grin as she leaned casually against the door-frame of the conservatory. Though if he looked carefully he could see the carefully-concealed worry in the woman’s eyes as they subtly flickered over his body as if to look for an injury. Mother hen.

Lucretia was her mother’s daughter through-and-through despite inheriting his dark hair and grey eyes, and it was bizarre to see the baby he’d been terrified of caring for as a teenager stand in front of him as a proud and intelligent wife and mother of three.

The sheer happiness his daughter exuded on a daily basis was a source of contentment for Arcturus, and once more he found himself rather viciously feeling grateful for his father’s demise over half a decade ago. The older man had prized his opinions and methods of promoting them above all else, especially family happiness, and the knowledge that his own children would have been used for political gain against their will made the Lord Black wish he could curse his deceased sire into oblivion.

It might be crass, but Sirius Black’s death had been a blessing for everyone in the family.

His daughter had never regularly visited Black Manor before Sirius’ death, and when she did she’d employed every ounce of the formal etiquette that she so despised out of sheer self-preservation. The chance of catching the attention of the Lord Sirius Black was too high to disregard, hence Lucretia had taken to wrapping her blank mask around herself like a shield.

Her marriage to Ignatius hadn’t earned her any favours with the Head of their family, and though the Blacks were rewarded with a political relationship with the rich Prewetts, his father hadn’t been quiet concerning his distaste for the marriage to a light family. (Which was so ridiculously hypocritical after forcing Arcturus to marry Melania, but then again his father had never been the prime example of integrity.) Arcturus had had to sit back and watch his daughter embrace everything about the House of Prewett for her own survival, hardly ever returning to the fold of the Blacks except for the direst of occasions.

That didn’t even get into Orion; his son had been overwhelmed at the pressure to settle down and beget a new generation of main-line Blacks, ensuring that their venerable family didn’t die out from outside forces or not having enough male progeny to carry the name. Merlin forbid that Orion not follow the homophobic views of Sirius Black and marry a proper witch and have ‘useful’ sons as opposed to witches for the family.

Arcturus kind of wished his father was alive to see their family now.

Lucretia roaring with laughter at the antics of her sons, Orion married to a man who was besotted with him, Cedrella and Marius once more proudly bearing the name of Black (after Arcturus researching some stupidly-obscure adoption-like ritual for years just to get Cedrella back on the family tree). Their family had never been so close and united, and Arcturus was proud of himself for doing as he wished rather than blindly following the tired traditions of yesteryear. (Though he’d fully admit it was partly to spite his horrid relatives from beyond the veil.)

“I was just musing about how strange our situation is, how our family has deviated so far from what our previous leaders wanted and expected of us, yet we seem to be closer than ever.”

Lucretia smiled gently. “Well, allowing those disinherited to re-enter the family certainly helped to convince those more progressive of your trustworthy nature. Though I’ll admit, I never did figure out why you did so.

“Father, why did you allow Cedrella and Marius back into the family?”

He leaned back and smirked. “Would you believe me if I said it was because of something Lyra said?”

“Yes, I would,” his daughter snorted. “If I didn’t know that girl to be so genuine in her words, I’d be more convinced that she was manipulating everyone around her for fun.”

Arcturus felt his lips twitch. His adopted granddaughter was a lot sneakier than most gave her credit for.

“Yes, she does give off that impression, doesn’t she?” He shifted back in his chair and looked at Lucretia. “I’d already been contemplating it somewhat; seeing Alphard with Lyra was so far removed from what the previous generation had done with our children, yet instead of the overt affection creating a spoiled and unintelligent brat, it seemed to motivate her to being even smarter and more inquisitive. I was impressed, but speaking to her myself really solved the issue in my head.”

“Hello, Lyra.”

The girl lifted her head and beamed at him. “Hi, Granddad!”

He walked over to the armchair and settled down next to the child on the floor who appeared to be devouring a massive tome of medicinal potions. It was certainly advanced for a five-year-old, but the girl seemed quite happy to browse the pages, not to mention she actually seemed to comprehend the words she was reading as opposed to staring at them blankly like a child who was pretending to be an adult.

“What are you reading?”

Lyra looked up at him. “It’s about potions for medical problems. It's pretty useful when you think about it. Even if you don’t have the potion with you, you can use the book to figure out if someone also has problems. Like, reading about this potion for headaches tells you not to use it if someone has these symptoms, so it also teaches you how to figure out problems by yourself.”

“It sounds very useful,” he said before pausing. “But what if somebody isn’t well-versed in potions and figuring things out?”

The girl scrunched her nose up and eyed him weirdly. “Granddad, nobody’s good at everything, and that includes potion-making. If someone pretends to be good at everything, then I think they’re just lying so people won’t figure out the truth.”

“That is indeed true, everyone has their strengths and weakness,” Arcturus mused. His family were prime examples of that, what with the varied careers of their family like Curse-Breaker, Arithmancer and Painter to name a few. Even Marius was a genius when it came to business planning and acquisition, what with being the part-owner of a publishing company. Arcturus froze. Marius is a genius, and lack of magic plays no part in that.

Arcturus cleared his throat. “But what about magic?”

“Magic?” Lyra frowned.

“Having magic or not,” he explained patiently. “Some people don’t have magic, so do you think a person without magic would have any strengths in the magical world?”

He knew full well that he was asking rather advanced and difficult questions to the girl, but Lyra had demonstrated from a startlingly young age that she could understand things the adults around her spoke of. Arcturus could remember vividly one occasion that Walburga spoke to her niece like a baby and Lyra looked at her pure disgust on her childish face. Alphard had nearly fallen over laughing.

Lyra blinked. “Of course they would! There’s so much someone could do without magic in our world! Like brew some potions, work with runes, learn about history, teach work without a wand, astronomy, looking after animals, and that’s just the classes at school! There’s also things like shop work, owning a business, even designing stuff so somebody else could make it.

“Why would not having magic mean they have no strengths?”

Arcturus finished recalling the scene from years before, becoming more and more amused as his daughter’s eyes widened as he spoke. A few seconds after he stopped speaking, she broke into peals of laughter, doubling over with the force of her amusement as she struggled to breathe properly.

Half a minute of coughing and forced breathing later, Lucretia stood straight while wiping tears out her eyes as she grinned widely. “That girl … I swear, how Alphard ended up with such a precocious genius still eludes me to this day. Lyra really does make things more interesting, doesn’t she?”

Before he could reply, his wife came strolling in with a beaming smile on her face, a smile that was unconsciously reflected in his daughter at the sight of her mother.

“Mother, what are you doing here?”

Melania looked at the two occupants before smiling gently, the calm face at odds with the barely-hidden excitement visible in her brown eyes.

“Orion passed out earlier, but the Healer said he’s okay now.”

Arcturus could feel his stomach constrict with worry and was barely aware of himself standing up, too concerned as he was with his son spontaneously falling unconscious. Orion had never been a sickly child, and as an adult was very thorough in maintaining his health. Could someone have decided to take action against the House of Black? Could his son have consumed something unsuitable for humans?

As his mind begun to spin off into all manner of deadly topics and worrisome plots, his wife – bless her heart – managed to pierce through his inner rambling by getting to the heart of the matter, revealing why Orion was in fact perfectly healthy, and why Melania looked so ecstatic at the news of her son requiring a Healer.

“Orion’s pregnant.”

His mind came to a grinding halt, vaguely aware of Lucretia’s delighted gasp as he began to process his wife’s proclamation. Orion, his only son, his youngest child that had nearly fallen prey to the crazed machinations of his obsessed cousin, was pregnant. The Black family was growing once more, and this time it would be the next Heir of the House of Black.

Toujurs purs. Congratulations, Son.


She turned to the side, watching her exuberant son run and greet their guest and cousin, the younger boy all but beaming at the girl who smiled at him. If she didn’t know her son as well as she did, she’d think he had a crush on the enigmatic young Black that seemed to live for the sole purpose of throwing their family on its head.

Yes, Lyra was a true Black, and Dorea loved being the imp’s godmother.

To say she’d been surprised at her nephew asking her to be Lyra’s godmother would be an understatement, but upon witnessing Alphard’s wary aversion to the then-Lord Black, Dorea had only become more determined to do right by her young niece. Just because she hated the vast majority of her birth family didn’t mean she wouldn’t employ their cunning and tactics to suit her own needs – she might have married a Potter, but she was still a Slytherin, after all.

Godparents were practically sacred in their world, two people chosen specifically to care for a child in the absence of parents if they were unavailable or unsuited for the role, and even if parents were perfectly able to raise their children, godparents would introduce a larger sphere of knowledge for them to draw on. Godparents instructed their charges on life as an authority figure, but not as a parent would unless charged to do so.

Despite some people not recognising it as such – or being wilfully blind and ignorant – Alphard had acted as the consummate Slytherin in selecting godparents for his daughter. As the first Black of her generation, and the first in close to a decade, Lyra was essentially an example of the perfect Black upon her birth and had been expected to be raised in a certain way. Alphard had of course had his own ideas concerning such a topic and had taken measures to give his daughter a sense of freedom as she aged.

The headstrong Black chose Orion to be Lyra’s godfather, an act that appeased Lord Sirius Black as his grandson and the next Heir Black was selected to guide the first of the next generation. On the surface it appeared to be entirely political, but Orion was Alphard’s favourite cousin – was closer to him than his own brother – and he knew that Orion would care for Lyra in a fair and kind way.

Alphard then managed to get one over on their family by appointing her as godmother. She might have married a Potter but she still had a respected reputation amongst the dark families, meaning Lord Black couldn’t complain about her position lest he lose face amongst his peers.

But she wasn’t really the perfect dark godmother.

Dorea's magic was dark, true, and she was a master when it came to using dark spells, but her views fell more in line with the grey faction than the dark and that was something Alphard was aware of. By allowing her a godparent bond with Lyra – a bond that would require constant visits and nurturing if it were to be of any use – Dorea had been placed in the prime position to ensure her goddaughter wasn’t corrupted or hurt by the Black family.

She might mutter and curse her family far more often than was ladylike, but she knew deep down that not all of them were as poisonous as some. The issue was that those with poison did exist and were far more prominent than she was comfortable with. As Lyra’s godmother – a godmother that had married into a light family the Blacks didn’t consistently associate with – she existed as Lyra’s sanctuary away from the House of Black in case things happened to be worse than was bearable.

Or she would have if Lyra hadn’t turned out to be a sneaky brat that delighted in ruining others’ plans.

Honestly, her goddaughter was a true delight to be around for any Slytherin. Catching Walburga brewing Amortentia for Orion, revealing the truth concerning Cygnus and Druella, not to mention the fiasco with Bole months ago … Lyra Black was an intriguing paradox, and Dorea was so proud she’d taught the girl all the different ways to sneak around and eavesdrop on people. Only amateurs stuck to one method without a backup plan.

The girl was the perfect blend of cruel and kind, fiercely protective of those she saw as her own, and from what Dorea had heard from Gideon and Fabian – those boys were so informative in their letters – Lyra had even managed to convince the other snakes that there was a strategic and political advantage to maintaining overt connections with Gryffindors.

Dorea nearly shed a proud tear at that knowledge.

“Mum, Lyra’s here!”

“I can see that,” she replied dryly, lips quirking at Lyra’s grin.


Darius was such a darling to be around, but unfortunately he was just as blunt as his father in terms of expressing his displeasure concerning something. It was certainly entertaining to witness though, and the thought of what her hated father would say if he could see her laidback family was enough to fuel a full-bodied Patronus.

“Aren’t you going back to the garden? The girls are waiting for you.”

“Girls?” Lyra asked while cocking her head slightly.

“Molls and Sandy are here!” Darius informed his cousin with a grin. “They’re in the garden ‘cause they want to go flying together. Later, Lyra!”

The young Potter gave a quick salute to her goddaughter before speeding off towards the back door, and Dorea was exceedingly thankful that she’d seen fit to cover all their brooms in every safety spell she could think of, as well as every inch of the garden and a few discrete charms on the clothes they were currently wearing. And there might be a few elves keeping an eye on the children. Or a dozen. With Charlus discretely watching from his office window.

… So she was a little over-protective; it was hard not to be when your son was convinced he was practically an adult at the age of nearly-ten and persisted in doing things that nearly gave her a heart attack. (She was going to kill Pollux for introducing Darius to proper metal sword-fighting.)

“So, Molly and Lysandra are visiting?”

Dorea turned back to the girl and smirked. “Lucretia decided to go and ‘visit’ Orion, and since Lysandra was already at the Prewetts, they were dropped off while Lucretia went to Black Manor.”

Lyra’s lips twitched. “So basically, Aunt Lu went to mother Uncle Orion and pester him about the pregnancy, trying to pass it off as helpful advice?”

It was so lovely when people got the point of her words.

“Precisely. Lucretia is very excited to be an aunt, though I’m sure her enthusiasm is more than a little irritating to Orion. He’s never enjoyed being hovered over.”

Lyra wrinkled her nose, no doubt silently agreeing with her godfather’s point of view and Dorea couldn’t help but shake her head. The young girl had always been independent and hated the idea of being looked after by adults. There was no question as to whether or not she was competent in caring for herself, but Lyra almost seemed out of reach with how she held herself apart from others, ensuring that she never appeared vulnerable or unable to handle life.

Her goddaughter was such an intriguing girl.

“Now,” Dorea began, “why don’t we move to the parlour for some tea and I’ll get your birthday present.”

“Aunt Dorea, you do realise my birthday isn’t until the end of the month, don’t you? Dad’s organised a crazy party and everything already. If I didn’t know any better, I’d say the insane man was doing it so he himself could have some fun,” the girl finished with a mutter.

Dorea laughed out loud. “Oh, that certainly does sound like Alphard! Nevertheless, consider this your true present while a more publicly-appropriate one will be displayed at the party. This gift is for Black eyes only.”

Lyra’s eyes shone with curiosity and her brows tilted downwards into a frown, no doubt trying to guess what Dorea could be gifting her with that couldn’t be witnessed by any outside the family. Dorea wasn’t joking either, and any outsider who discovered what she was entrusting to her goddaughter would be eternally silenced so as to ensure the knowledge was kept a secret.

Blacks were secretive with good reason.

Sitting down and calmly reclining in her chair, Dorea studied the girl before her as she pondered the enigma that was Lyra Ophelia Black and how the girl truly saw the Blacks and her place in the family. Lyra was of course the oldest of her generation, but she never appeared arrogant or assumed a position of control around her younger cousins. It was certainly unlike her childhood, and Dorea could remember well her cousin Regulus acting like a self-entitled shit simply because he was older than the majority of their cousins. Of course he never bothered trying with his siblings, and she could only imagine how Lycoris and Arctutus would have responded. She would’ve paid good money to see that.

“Tuller, please bring me the package I mentioned earlier.”

A few seconds later a wrapped present appeared on the table with a popping sound, her personal elf staying out of sight as per usual as he probably went straight back to whatever he was doing previously. The box was black and rectangular, rising a few inches off the table in height and covered with a thin purple ribbon. It was fairly obvious that a book resided inside, and Dorea watched as Lyra studied the present as if trying to discern why this should remain a secret before giving in to her curiosity and reaching for the box.

Lyra carefully peeled off the ribbon and set it aside before turning her attention to the paper and unfolding it gently so as to not rip it. (The girl had fantastic manners, one of the only things Dorea was appreciative of concerning her birth family.) Once the paper was off, Lyra slowly pulled the lid off the box and peered down at her present inside before frowning and reaching for it.

Upon holding the book in her hand, Lyra twitched slightly and stilled, eyes narrowed in contemplation as she stared at the blank cover. She caught Dorea’s eye and the older woman nodded once, letting her goddaughter know the sensation that she’d just felt was entirely normal for that particular volume. (She wasn’t going to think about what the book would have done to someone who wasn’t a Black, but Lyra was so it was completely fine she hadn’t mentioned it. Most likely.)

The girl pulled the book closer and opened it to the first page, freezing with her eyes glued to the words inside.

“This … is this real?” Lyra lifted her head and met Dorea’s eyes. “Is this really a journal of personal spells created by Phineas Nigellus Black?”

She could understand where Lyra’s awe was coming from. For all his faults – his many, many faults – Phineas Nigellus Black had been an extraordinary wizard and a source of pride for the House of Black. Three Masteries in Potions, Defence and History, siring five children for their family – four of which were sons – as well as serving as Headmaster of Hogwarts and Lord Black on the Wizengamot simultaneously without faltering in either endeavour, the man had been a genius and a magical powerhouse, and owning some of his personal creations was an honour for a member of the Blacks.

For most of them, anyway.

Her vile father had hated owning anything of his father’s, seeing it as some petty confirmation that it was all he’d have as he would never be Lord Black despite the fact that each of Phineas’ children received the same journals, regardless of their place in the line of succession. This journal in particular had been left to Pollux upon their father’s death, but considering her brother’s less than amicable feelings towards their father – which was putting it politely – Pollux had quite happily decided to give it to one of his siblings, all of which were something of a disappointment to their father Cygnus. She and Cassiopeia were female and Marius was a Squib; none of them would have been appropriate recipients of Cygnus’ things hence why Pollux did it.

Her brother had a terrible sense of humour.

He’d originally offered it to Cassiopeia, but considering she was a Spell-Crafter herself and preferred working from her own notes, Dorea had ended up as the unwitting owner of her esteemed grandfather’s journal. It was certainly interesting, but her magical interests laid more in the direction of Charms, a subject which hadn’t appeared that often in said journal.

Dorea had no issue gifting this item to her goddaughter seeing as how she wouldn’t be able to pass it onto Darius as a Potter. She could of course give it to Alphard, but seeing as the man painted for a living instead of delving into magical academia it seemed rather pointless all things considered. The only other options at this time would be to have it held in storage until Bellatrix, her sisters or Marius’ children were old enough, which also seemed rather pointless seeing as how Lyra was intelligent and mature enough to own the journal and make use of its contents.

“Yes, it is. It was originally bequeathed to my father, and upon his own death it went to Pollux. My brother very quickly divested himself of it by giving it to me, and now I’m giving you the Black journal for you to peruse at your pleasure.

“Happy Birthday, Lyra.”

The girl looked over the book again, carefully skimming her fingers across the pages before lifting her head and beaming at her. “Thank you, Aunt Dorea.”

“You’re welcome. Perhaps when you return to Black Manor you could ask Orion if you could peruse his own journal. I do believe Arcturus already passed it on years ago in order to help Orion’s education.”

Lyra’s eyes flashed momentarily and her shoulders tensed minutely, and Dorea wouldn’t have noticed if she hadn’t been paying the utmost attention to her goddaughter as they spoke. It almost seemed as if Lyra was having problems with Orion, but Dorea honestly couldn’t remember a time when godfather and goddaughter were anything but loving towards one another. If something was wrong at the current time then it must be a horrifically-troubling issue to inspire so much tension in Lyra.

“Perhaps,” the girl said with her eyes averted. “I don’t want to trouble him at the moment though, not with the … baby.”

Dorea froze. Does she have a problem with the pregnancy? It was conceivable, she supposed. Lyra had been adored and loved by the Blacks as long as she existed, and if she’d been born Heiress Black the family would have rejoiced at her abilities. Her goddaughter had never had a problem with any of her young female cousins, but as they were all Pollux’s granddaughters and therefore not in the running to be the Head of the family, there was no direct competition between any of them.

This child however was Orion’s child, the next Heir to the House of Black, and the very fact that this child existed meant that Lyra would never inherit the family. Could that be the issue? Was Lyra jealous of Orion’s unborn child? Had she been hoping to be Lady Black in the future?

“Lyra,” she began slowly, “I hate to sound judgemental, but are you … jealous of Orion’s baby?”

Lyra blinked, then blinked again, before a bewildered expression took over her face and her eyebrows ascended towards her hairline. “Why the bloody hell would I be jealous of a baby that hasn’t even been born yet?”

“Perhaps because you wished to become Lady Black, and Orion having a child has entirely excluded you from the line of succession?”

There was a beat of silence before Lyra snorted and devolved into laughter, almost cackling as she bent double at the waist, head buried into the table and she carried on laughing hysterically. Okay, that wasn’t quite the reaction I was expecting.

“I – what – I just.” Lyra took a few deep breaths and wiped the tears from her eyes, still hiccoughing slightly as she sat up straight, unable to keep the highly-amused grin off her face.

“Aunt Dorea, why on earth would I be jealous of having to be raised from birth to be the next Head of the Blacks? Aside from that, having to actually be in charge of our mad and oversized family would drive me mental! I mean, have you seen Granddad Arcturus after he has to do his paperwork every day? He looks about a second away from having a breakdown at any given moment. I might love our family, but being Lady Black would be hell.”

The woman could feel her lips twitch at those words. Lyra did make a point about Arcturus’ mental state. Perhaps she should go visit her cousin soon?

She cleared her throat. “If that’s the case, when why are you so … tense concerning the pregnancy?”

Lyra’s shoulders slumped. “It’s just … I was reading a book recently on pregnancy in men, and I found out that men carrying a child have a much higher probability of having complications in both the pregnancy and birth.

“I’m just worried that something will happen."

Oh, Lyra … Dorea stood up and walked around the table to her goddaughter before wrapping her arms around the girl tightly, pulling her into her body. Lyra tensed for a second before melting into the embrace and all but burying into her. She guessed it had to do with never having a mother, and Dorea being her godmother had essentially become that figure in the girl’s life. It was a shame she’d never known the woman that gave birth to her, but from what Alphard had said of the woman perhaps it was a good thing she’d died.

Dorea pressed a kiss to the crown of Lyra’s head. “Orion is very careful with this pregnancy, and though things can happen unexpectedly he’s having regular check-ups to ensure things run smoothly.” The woman pulled back to look down into grey eyes that mirrored her own. “He’s going to be fine, Lyra. Have some faith.”

Lyra smiled at her. “Thank you, Aunt Dorea.”

She smiled back before it transformed into a smirk. “So tell me, exactly what did your father do to make Walburga flee Black Manor last week?”

The girl grinned. “Well …”

Yes, her goddaughter really was a delight.

Lyra walked into her room before flopping down on the bed gracelessly, letting out a moan as she sunk into the soft duvet on top.

Things were so bloody weird in her life at the best of times, but having Uncle Orion pregnant was so strange to think about, it seemed to top everything else going on at any given time. It wasn’t quite as weird as when she’d originally realised than same-sex couples could conceive and have children together – Gin had been especially detailed in her descriptions with an evil grin on her face; crazy woman – but still, she was nearly twelve and her godfather was about halfway through his pregnancy.

And was due in November.

That was the issue. She wasn’t jealous of Uncle Orion’s baby – and Aunt Dorea was bloody mental, she was sure of it – but she was worried about the baby. Orion was due to dive birth at the same time that Sirius had originally been born, and she was desperately hoping and praying that the baby her godfather was carrying was indeed Sirius.

She missed him so much, she still had nightmares about his death and happy dreams about the man hugging Harry tightly, but she was terrified that this baby wouldn’t be the godfather she once knew and loved. Yes, Bellatrix, Andromeda and Narcissa had all been born the exact same way as before, but the early deaths of their parents proved things could change. Orion marrying Marcus and getting pregnant himself proved things could change, but the mere chance of Sirius Orion Black’s existence changing and disappearing was horrific to think about. Lyra didn’t know what she’d do if he wasn’t born.

It didn’t help that Orion and Marcus had decided to keep the gender of their first child a secret until the birth, and while it was of course the parents’ decision entirely, Lyra wanted to know. She didn’t want to have to go another four-and-a-bit months with the tension building up inside of her, making her antsy and panicked and any other worried emotion she could think of.

God, I'm hopeless. She let out a massive sigh and rolled over onto her back, staring up at the ceiling of her four-poster bed. It had been painted by her father, covered in intricate lines and decorated with gems to display the various constellations and stars in the sky. Alphard had arranged hers so that ‘Lyra’ was in the centre and practically glowing in comparison to the surrounding constellations and she felt her lips pull up in a smile. He really was an amazing father.

Lyra groaned before heaving herself up and off the bed, padding over to her desk and sitting down determinedly. Even if the child her godfather was carrying wasn’t Sirius, it was still Uncle Orion’s baby and her future cousin. She hadn’t spent all that time trying to sort out her new family just to turn her back on a baby she hadn’t expected. Family was family, and it was high time she accepted that.

The girl pulled a plain piece of parchment towards her and began sketching. She couldn’t not get the baby a present. As she scribbled on the page, Lyra felt her shoulders loosen as she calmed down. No matter what happened, no matter which babies were born or weren’t, nothing in the world would ever be able to take away the memories of her Sirius.

He was kind of unforgettable, after all.

Chapter Text

No matter what was happening in his life right now, Orion was a man and would always be a man.

I am a man. My name is Orion Arcturus Black, my date of birth is the 17 th May 1929, and I am the only son and youngest child of Arcturus Sirius Black and Melania Melissa Black nee Macmillan. I was Sorted into Slytherin House at Hogwarts, and I was made Prefect in my fifth year. I’m married to Marcus Alexis Black nee Greengrass, and we’re going to have our first child in a month’s time. I'm a happily married man.

It was a little depressing he had to say that so often to calm down, but life had always had a tendency to go sideways when he least expected it.

As much as it truly pained him to admit it – and it did pain him, because being a father was something that he’d dreamed about for years – this pregnancy was almost making him resent his unborn child. Every time he looked at his engorged stomach he felt physically sick, shuddering at the sight of his body stretching beyond what it should to accommodate his growing child. He wanted his baby, of course he did, but he didn’t want to be pregnant anymore. He hated it.

Men weren’t built to conceive children. That was a fact, no matter how many supposed ‘solutions’ had been found in this case for decades. Women carried children and men sired them. It didn’t matter what someone’s sexual orientation was, children were conceived with a man and a woman, plain and simple.

Of course, some people had decided that magic could overcome this.

Originally some idiot had spread the idea of using potions to switch one’s gender in order to have a child and this method had been used for years before someone else decided to improve upon this idea in their own ‘brilliant’ way. Orion wasn’t entirely sure who claimed the ‘success’ of helping same-sex couples have their own biological children or when in this manner, but the imbecile had clearly only considered the physicality of such a fact without any of the associated psychological consequences being factored in. Though to be fair, even he had thought it to be a genius idea before he’d subjected himself to it.

Men couldn’t conceive children, but someone had decided that if that wasn’t an issue, then two men or two women could have children without turning themselves into the opposite gender. If people could turn into animals as an Animagus, or partially transfigure their body into animals for certain tasks, then why couldn’t the reproductive system of the body be transfigured into that of the opposite sex for the purpose of having children?

It turns out, it can.

A strange and convoluted combination – that Orion honestly hadn’t paid attention to in the midst of his anxiety to have a child – of human transfiguration, tying the spell into a rune anchored on a piece of jewellery in constant contact with the skin, then several potions to kickstart fertility and improve the health of the human body, then voila, a man can physically conceive and carry their own child without having to involve a woman.

This also held true for two women wishing to have a family, though the process was infinitely quicker as they didn’t have to have male genitalia for the entire pregnancy, just long enough to actually conceive. Considering how quickly magical couples – either a man and a woman, two men or two women – could conceive using a fertility potion, a couple consisting of two women were largely unaffected by the entire process.

This was not the case for Orion.

Orion was a man and had never had a problem with his body growing up. He was slim and muscular, with narrow hips and a flat stomach, facial hair when he deemed to grow it out, not to mention the obvious package hidden inside his underwear. His sex life with Marcus was entirely based on reciprocity seeing as they were both men with the same equipment and physical capabilities, and he was quite happy to be one of the fortunate few in their society who could say they enjoyed sex and exploring his spouse’s body during their intimate moments.

Unfortunately, right now his body was everything it had never been and everything Orion had never wanted it to be. His face had gained a soft roundness from the weight gain, his ankles were swollen and sore, his hips were actually curved and far wider than he was used to, and of course his abdomen had been slowly expanding over the past eight months, skin stretching taught over the bump as the baby inside kicked him and assured him of its presence. That didn’t even get into the female genitalia he was currently sporting.

It felt wrong.

He'd never felt so sick and disgusted with himself seeing this … transformation take place. His body was a vile amalgamation of male and female, and more than once he’d actually thrown up after looking in the mirror at himself. He was a man, yet this body wasn’t a man’s body. It wasn’t Orion’s body, and he hated himself so much that he’d holed himself up in his personal suite ever since his stomach had been too large to conceal.

This wasn’t him and he was repulsed by it, ashamed to let anyone see him in this state. He knew his family was excited for the main line to carry on, but not one of them seemed to have the faintest inclination of his declining mental health. The past two Lord Blacks had been adamantly homophobic and ensured that the only marriages that occurred were between men and women. Nobody in the House of Black before him – in recent history, at least – had been allowed to wed someone of the same gender, and certainly none of them had embarked on this ridiculous process of a pregnancy between two men.

None of them could truly understand what he was going through, indirectly or directly, so their excitement was understandable considering they only really saw his pregnancy as that of any ordinary woman. They didn’t get it.

His body had admittedly been somewhat intriguing for a few days after the procedure, but when it came to actually having sex to conceive he’d had to swallow down bile, disgusted with the idea of being intimate using a body not truly of his own. Yes, he’d looked entirely the same when dressed as he ordinarily did, but clothes did nothing to disguise the unnaturalness below.

They'd used a conception potion instead.

Having Marcus donate seed just to get him pregnant was horribly informal and he’d felt cheated. Their genuinely loving marriage had been reduced to a clinical procedure just to ensure the continuation of the Black name, and he’d never felt so much self-hatred at that time. Not that it hadn’t gotten worse of course, because obviously taking a potion to conceive wasn’t too difficult to deal with. No, that honour went to the realisation that if he couldn’t bear to even look at or touch his own body, then he definitely couldn’t bear for his husband to do so, either.

Marcus was so kind and understanding throughout the entire pregnancy, but if anything that made Orion feel worse. Marcus should be furious, annoyed, hell, even disgusted himself that his husband was now this freakish mix of whatever the Healers had done. In some ways his husband’s complete acceptance made Orion resent him. Marcus seemed so unflappable and unaffected by the entire pregnancy, yet Orion had been turned into a recluse by his body growing and changing and looking like a woman when he was a man. Orion’s emotions and hormones were all over the place, his body was coming up with all sorts of different ways to introduce new pains and things to torture himself mentally with, yet the man he married simply smiled genially and told him that everything would be okay and how it was perfectly acceptable to not want to be intimate at this time.

Orion didn’t know if Marcus’ seemingly-unconditional understanding made him want to rage at the man or curl into a ball and cry.

He'd never been the most extroverted person in his family, but this pregnancy had well and truly kicked him into the category of ‘hermit’. He hated seeing himself so why would he want anyone else to see him like this? He’d been reduced from a proud and dignified son of The Noble and Most Ancient House of Black to a man that threw a lamp at his mirror so he didn’t have to see his own reflection.

He took a deep breath and let it out shakily as he opened his eyes, pulling the covers off him and sitting up. He swung his legs out of the bed, making sure his oversized jumper was fully covering his stomach and diminishing its size as much as possible. He'd been sleeping far more than he ever had, and far more than any of his pregnant female relatives had done.

Depression, his mind supplied bitterly. All he’d ever wanted out of life was a man to love and children to raise, now his body had essentially betrayed him; his husband had been sleeping in a separate bed for months and he was ambivalent at best concerning the child in his stomach.

Orion stood up and made his way across the room to his personal bathroom, pausing outside the door as his pulse started to race as it did every time he came to this room. Either he had to relieve himself and come face-to-face with his lower extremities being those of a female, or he had to undress to bathe and deal with his engorged abdomen – the root of all his problems.

He took a deep breath and began his usual mantra to centre himself. I am a man. My name is Orion Arcturus Black, my date of birth is the 17th May 1929 ...

He prayed things would get better after the birth.

They had to.

Lyra didn’t think she’d ever been so worried about Uncle Orion as she was right now.

The man had always had an unusual abundance of common sense and composure for their family – it was actually quite sad to think that those things were considered desirable traits rather than part and parcel of the Blacks – but his recent letters were just so … monotone and lifeless.

She knew that he’d been suffering with the pregnancy, anyone with two eyes could figure it out, but the problem was the people of this time period weren’t nearly as well-versed in psychological illnesses, disorders, conditions and such as in her original lifetime as Harry. The twenty-first century was leaps and bounds ahead of the nineteen-fifties when it came to mental health, and Lyra knew full-well what the problem was despite never having experienced it herself.

Gender dysphoria.

Uncle Orion very firmly identified as a man yet his body currently had parts of the female anatomy and was actually pregnant, his body experiencing every single moment of gestation, from the physical to the psychological to the hormonal. The man obviously viewed conceiving and carrying a child to be something only for women, and being trapped in a body not of his own or even looking anywhere close to his gender identity was playing havoc with his mind.

The issue was that all of the research and scientific publications and even self-help leaflets wouldn’t be created for decades, meaning Uncle Orion was stuck in this situation and would more than likely be a victim of Postnatal Depression after the pregnancy if things continued in the same vein. Lyra knew the condition intimately, Gin having been simultaneously numb and terrified after Lily was born. Their daughter had been a month early and the birth was awful, both mother and baby nearly dying from blood loss and a lack of oxygen, respectively. Harry had been close to having daily panic attacks himself at that point, and after months of Mind-Healer visits for both of them they’d decided against any more children. Three had been enough.

There was no fountain of knowledge for Uncle Orion to draw on to help him, and even if Lyra were to explain to him what he was going through there wasn’t enough research for her to be able to get away with describing his situation. How on earth would she get away with mentioning everything considering there was barely any material to draw from? He'd think she was nuts.

Lyra honestly didn’t quite understand her godfather’s repulsed attitude towards his own body, even if she knew she had more cause than anyone to empathise with him. She grabbed her clothes and made her way into the adjoined bathroom to their dorm, walking into one of the enclosed shower stalls and locking it with every spell she could think of. Slytherin wasn’t exactly a neutral House.

The girl stripped down and carefully placed her clothes in the hamper which would eventually be emptied by the house-elves when they washed everyone’s clothes. “Thank you, elves of Hogwarts.” There was no reason not to be polite, manners didn’t cost anything.

She turned to the full-length mirror on the side of the stall and looked at her naked reflection, noting how utterly different she looked from her life as Harry Potter. Pale alabaster skin as opposed to the slight tan of before, soft curves in place of lithe muscles, long curls reaching past her hips instead of a windswept bird’s nest, and of course the obvious differences such as a pair of breasts and the lack of a penis.

Focusing her grey eyes on her chest and the startlingly different genitals she now possessed, Lyra tried to find some sort of disgust or feeling of wrongness in the body she now had. She'd lived over half a century in a male body, had to deal with horrendously-embarrassing wet dreams and awkward moments of spontaneous erections as a teenager, then the realisation that her sex life was unfairly easier as a man compared to her wife, but now having to deal with being in the body of a preteen girl she honestly didn’t mind. Yes, having periods was disgusting and every month her stomach felt like it was being used as a stress ball by a mountain troll, but from what she’d gathered her feelings didn’t differ that much from other girls her age.

That was another thing, why didn’t she have a problem referring to herself as a girl? Was it because everyone else called her a girl? If people started calling Lyra Black a boy then she’d probably shrug and carry on with life as usual. Or would that be, he’d shrug? Lyra was Lyra, and Lyra was Harry. Either name didn’t really matter, and on some level she’d never really defined herself by what she was supposed to do based on gender. Lyra could call herself a man or a woman without either feeling wrong. Boy, girl, man, woman, female, male, Lyra honestly couldn’t look at any of those labels and feel a strong resonance with one of them in particular.

Lyra was … Lyra.

Lyra narrowed her eyes and delved into the many memories of their past children and the conversations with them. The children of Harry and Ginevra Potter had always been very open with their parents as per their wishes and had happily divulged more modern topics of discussion with them. Lyra knew full well that she’d been told all sorts of gender identities and catch-all umbrella terms for people that refused to limit themselves with constricting labels. She blinked and her eyes widened. Ah, that’s it.

Genderqueer. A term for identities that are not exclusively masculine or feminine and exist outside of the binary. People that exhibit a combination of masculine and feminine traits, or neither … Is that me? Lyra took a second to ponder the question. As Harry, she had of course been exclusively referred to as a man but honestly it had neither felt right nor wrong. Harry was Harry, and Harry never had a problem with people defining him by his biological sex. It was much more infuriating to be constantly judged by the public concerning a fickle celebrity status rather than gender expression. Lyra was still Harry in some respects and still preferred to be defined by personality rather what body she had, and she had no problem using female pronouns when she had a female name, a female body, and was constantly referred to as a daughter of The Noble and Most Ancient House of Black.

No matter what anyone said, Lyra was Lyra more than Lyra was a woman or a man.

The twelve-year-old looked into the mirror once more for a few seconds before shrugging and climbing into the shower. The human body and its capabilities never really bothered her, it was more the human mind that pissed her off, particularly when people were ignorant or superior because of their own backwards-arsed beliefs. The human mind could be amazing or terrible in another person, but in your own body it was your own worst nightmare.

Like Uncle Orion. She frowned and sighed as she stood under the spray of hot water, trying to figure out how to help him. Over time the magical world had eventually realised the disturbing correlation between same-sex couples that had children via the potion/transfiguration way and the rise in mental health disorders and had firmly discouraged such an endeavour among those who chose it to continue their family lines. (This method was actually far more prevalent in families with money considering the process was far more expensive than the average couple could afford. Rich pure-bloods really are self-entitled, Lyra thought. They assumed that because they were rich they could have what they wanted rather than enduring a heterosexual marriage which they’d hate. Money was everything, as per usual.)

When Gender dysphoria became a widely-understood topic amongst Mind-Healers, they’d been adamant that the practice of same-sex conception stop, and it had once Hermione introduced the magical world to the idea of muggle surrogacy with all the grace and tact of a bull in a china shop. (It’d been one the most entertaining Wizengamot sessions Harry had ever seen.) Soon enough, a combination of hiring people to either bear or sire children and then blood-adopting them after birth became the new norm, and Mind-Healers were ecstatic with the drop in numbers of clients with problems such as depression, dysphoria and even suicide. Thanks to certain blood-adoption potions entirely re-writing one half of a child’s DNA, the result was a child that was entirely blood and magic-related to the same-sex couple, without the parents suffering from any of the associated psychological ailments that came with transfiguring one’s body to something they didn’t identify with.

But would they do that now? Lyra wondered about the people of this time and snorted. They were all so wrapped-up in their own opinions and lives, and it would take someone extraordinarily powerful to get the self-absorbed arseholes of their world to take notice and look after their own.

Someone like Granddad Arcturus, her mind supplied slyly. Lyra froze in the middle of washing her hair and considered it. For all the House of Black had a reputation for being murderous, psychotic crazy people – a reputation that wasn’t entirely undeserved, as much as it pained her to admit – the current Black family consisted of people that genuinely cared for one another as family. Arcturus ensured those under his purview wouldn’t be married off or used against their will, Aunt Cassi happily blackmailed and/or destroyed the livelihoods of those attempting to hurt their House, and from what she’d overheard of her dad’s muttering during the summer months, she had a very good idea of who exactly was responsible for Andrei Bole’s body being sent back to his family looking like a jigsaw puzzle, complete with coloured outlines. (Alphard Black had a very twisted sense of humour, and that was putting it politely.)

The point was, the current Blacks all had a tendency to go to astonishing lengths, regardless of morality or ethics, in order to help the family if they needed it. Perhaps if she wrote up at least some of what she knew of the topic, mostly focusing on Uncle Orion’s poor health, he’d look into doing something about it? Only time would tell, she supposed.

She was hoping nothing horrendous would happen in the meantime; she hadn’t been lying to Aunt Dorea when she said that men carrying children are at a higher risk of complications during the pregnancy. Stress, anxiety, possible depression – which her godfather was definitely suffering from, no doubt about it – they all affected a person’s innate magic, and unlike a witch carrying a child naturally, a man under the effects of the pregnancy magic couldn’t freely use their own magic in case it negatively affected the pregnancy, causing anywhere from an early birth, complications during the birth, or even their magic completely lashing out and reverting their body back to normal and killing the baby.

Lyra hadn’t had such horrible nightmares in a while.

The girl sighed and shut off the water, wrapping a towel around her as she padded outside the shower stall. The Slytherin bathrooms looked like a line of simple shower stalls from the outside, but were magically expanded on the inside to house a shower, changing room and dressing table. It was fairly elaborate for such young school girls, but considering what sort of families the Slytherins usually hailed from, it wasn’t that big of a surprise.

She changed into a simple yet elegant black dress made of Acromantula silk, the material sliding down her body like liquid. It pulled in at the waist thanks to the wonderful – she wasn’t being sarcastic at all, of course not! – corset underneath. The dressed fell to an inch above her ankles, had long sleeves flaring just past her wrists, and a conservative neckline that rounded her neck just past her collarbones. The outfit was finished with polished black boots that laced up to her calves. She wasn’t one for wearing things like this – honestly, she missed the jeans and teeshirts of the next century – but her crazy aunts would no doubt find out if she failed to correctly represent the House of Black in public.

Lyra flicked her wand and watched in the mirror as her curls dried and smoothed instantaneously before lifting and arranging themselves into an elaborate bun. Another flick had a deep purple comb and a few diamond clips fasten themselves into her hair and hold it in place. (Being a father to a girl that loved playing with her hair had come in quite handy.)

She stood up, making sure she didn’t have a hair out of place before making her way back into her dorm and through the winding hallways of the Slytherin dormitories. Walking determinedly through the common room, she gave a brief but respectful nod to Eleonora Fawley and her companions without pausing. She had too much to think about without getting pulled into a random political discussion that more than likely wouldn’t even be something she gave two shits about.

It didn’t help that it was the thirtieth of October.

Tomorrow was the anniversary of James and Lily Potter’s murder, and even if it hadn’t happened yet – the two them not even having been born – it was still an event that defined who she was immensely. She might be the daughter of Alphard Black and Margot Caron – whose family didn’t seem to care one bit about her existence – but nearly every single characteristic or personality trait she exhibited could at least indirectly be traced back to their murder and her subsequent placement with the Dursleys. Lyra knew that had Harry been raised by James and Lily he would have turned out completely different, but it was being raised by people that despised and feared Harry that led to him developing into a Slytherin with enough self-preservation to embrace his Gryffindor side for his own well-being.

The anniversary of the murders, Tom Riddle hanging over her head like a miasma of doom, trying to navigate snake politics, and the fact that Orion was miserable and in pain and quite possibly about to give birth to the Sirius Black of the future. All of that was swirling around in her head and screaming at her to do something, yet really and truly not one of those situations were something she could find a solution to and fix. Everything was a mess.

God, I need a potion for this migraine.

With that thought she seamlessly switched her path from the library to the hospital wing. She'd hit the books afterwards to see if there was anything she could use to convince Arcturus of her idea, but for now she needed to be able to actually think straight.

There had to be something she could do for the people she loved.

Orion sat up and gasped, dropping the glass he was holding and not paying the slightest bit of attention as it smashed into pieces on the floor. He had more important things to worry about.

Like the contractions that meant he was in labour.

I can’t do this. Just the thought of lying in bed and physically pushing a human out of his body made his stomach roil with nausea, the sick feeling only adding to the sharp pains and making him feel worse. He knew that this was the final hurdle so to speak, but the idea of going through this part of the birth made something in him rebel. If he did this he didn’t know how he’d cope afterwards, and he didn’t want his entire marriage and life as a father to fall apart before it had really begun.

He didn’t want to hate his own child.

Because he probably would. He hated this pregnancy, he hated his own naivete when he agreed to carry his own child, and he hated himself so much because he’d started to resent his own family, his own spouse and baby, during the past several months. He couldn’t do this, and though he knew the alternative was more dangerous he refused to have a so-called ‘natural’ birth. He couldn’t.


The bulbous-eyed elf appeared in front of him. “What can Kreacher be doing for Master Orion?”

“Fetch Healer Proudfoot, my father and Marcus,” he bit out with a wince. “Immediately.”

“Yes, Master Orion."

When he was alone Orion slammed his eyes shut and started taking deep breaths, trying to deal with both the physical pain and his panic at the idea of his situation. I'm not supposed to be feeling this, I’m a man! Men don’t do this, why did I ever think this was a good idea? How do the others deal with this?!

“Orion!” He looked up to see Marcus and his father rush in, both men looking just slightly worried, though in large part they looked excited and in awe. Orion wanted to curse them at the sight.

Marcus bent down and gently took his hand. “Healer Proudfoot’s just on his way, he’s picking up the supplies for the labour and then he’ll be here.”

“It might take a while,” Arcturus mused. “Both times Melania was in labour for over ten hours.”

Orion snapped.

“I AM NOT GIVING BIRTH LIKE THAT, DO YOU HEAR ME?!” Orion roared before wincing in pain at another Merlin-damned contraction. He narrowed his eyes and shot a truly venomous glare at the other two men, viciously satisfied at their shocked faces.

“For fuck’s sake, the two of you are supposed to be some of the people closest to me, yet neither of you seem to have even noticed how much I despise this situation! This,” he gestured erratically at his stomach with wild eyes, “is not me! I’m a man. Men aren’t supposed to be in this situation! Do either of you have any fucking idea what it feels like to be trapped in a body not your own, to feel disgusted when you catch sight of yourself in a mirror, to feel nauseated when your own spouse comes closer because you feel like a failure?!”

He slumped and swallowed painfully, whispering brokenly. “Do you have any idea what it’s like to resent your own unborn child because they’re ruining your body? I can’t take this anymore, and I can’t lay there for hours giving birth only to come out the other side hating my own child for making me do that. I can’t.

“Please don’t make me carry on like this.”

Familiar, yet painfully-unfamiliar because of the past months, arms came up to wrap around his shoulders gently as if he was made of spun glass, before tilting his head forward so it was resting on a muscled shoulder. Orion practically dropped forward, the confession having drained him of energy, and he rested his head on his husband’s shoulder and let the tears fall. I’m a failure.

“I’m so, so sorry, Orion. I knew you weren’t feeling great but I had no clue it was like this. I should have realised it was worse than it seemed, I should have kept close and discussed it with you. I … I failed as a husband, and I’m so sorry.”

Before he could refute Marcus’ words – he wasn’t the one with such despicable feelings towards their child – he felt a large hand rest on his shoulder and he raised his head. His eyes met the same molten silver he’d inherited and took note of the pain and guilt in them, the shame buried within making Orion oddly happy. He was being listened to, accepted, and despite his emotions still being all over the place his feelings were being validated. It was … freeing.

“Son. Nothing can make me push you to something you despise, and if avoiding childbirth in that manner will help you, then I’m all for it. I should have researched the process more before allowing it to happen, and I cannot fully express my regret in this matter.

“I don’t care how many Healers and Mind-Healers I have to pay, you will get through this both physically and mentally, and then you’ll be able to experience the joys of being a parent. I don’t say this because you’re a Black, I say this because you’re Orion and you’ve always been strong in every sense of the word.”

His father looked at him with a soft smile not often found on his stern face. “I have no doubt you can do this, Son.”

Arcturus Black, Lord of The Noble and Most Ancient House of Black, famed Curse-Breaker and feared politician, believed in Orion not because of their esteemed bloodline, but because he was his son.

If the acceptance and belief of the two most important men in his life wasn’t enough to give him hope, he didn’t know what would.

The sound of footsteps roused the three men and they turned as one to the doorway, Marcus standing in front of Orion as if to shield his husband with his larger frame. He felt a stab of guilt hit him at the same time as a contraction and felt doubly worse at the treatment of Marcus. I'll have to make it up to him. He winced again. After this mess, anyway.

Healer Proudfoot walked in, back straight and face set in determination. “Lord Black, Heir Black, Heir-Consort Black. I do believe it’s time for the next generation to be born.”

Orion cut in firmly. “I’m having a caesarean, Healer Proudfoot.”

The older man with greying-brown hair studied him with narrowed coal eyes for a few seconds before sighing. “I can see this isn’t something you’ll be persuaded from.” He turned to Arcturus. “In order to perform the surgery on your son, I’ll need more Healers here to assist. Will you adjust the wards to allow them entrance to the manor, Lord Black?”

His father nodded seriously. “I will.”

“Very well. I will momentarily return to St Mungo’s and fetch an adequate support team and return in less than five minutes. I shall be back shortly.”

With that, the Healer marched back out the room and presumably to the fireplace to assemble his team. Orion was still struck with how his thoughts were being treated. He knew his family cared for him and his happiness – a stark contrast to the running of their family before – but neither his husband nor Marcus had been in his situation before so knew nothing of why he despised it so, yet instead of acting as if Orion was blowing things out of proportion they immediately claimed guilt and acquiesced to his demands. If he wasn’t in so much pain he’d be more confused.

A hand came to rest on his head, fingers carding through his hair. He looked up to see Marcus gazing down at him looking as besotted as he had on their wedding day. Orion had been far too lucky to be blessed with a husband that still wanted to be close to him after half a year of avoidance.

“When I was fifteen, Cas thought it was funny to dose me with a potion and change me into a girl for a week. As you can imagine I was far from impressed, though thankfully it was the summer holidays and I didn’t have to be anywhere. My parents were furious with my brother, worried that the potion might mess with my magic or something. The problem was the antidote took a month to brew and none of the local Apothecaries or Potioneers they knew had any in stock, so the result was I had to wait the week for the potion to fade and hope for the best.”

Marcus paused with a frown. “I had a week in a body not of my own and I hated it. A week. You've had to deal with this for months by now, deal with the fact that your body is not only not yours, but is also carrying and nourishing another human at the same time. I don’t blame you for feeling so wrong and disturbed. I know that I honestly couldn’t do it, and the fact that you’ve got this far to give us our own child amazes me.”

He bent down and cupped Orion’s cheeks in his hands. “While I feel completely wretched that I didn’t figure out the problem, figure out that my own husband was feeling so awful, I can’t help but feel so immensely proud of you for doing this to give us a family to love and cherish. We're going to have a beautiful child to raise and teach, all because of you.

“I love you, Husband.”

Marcus leaned forward and sealed their lips together, pushing what felt like every ounce of his love into Orion. He couldn’t help but latch onto the taller man, leaning into him and latching onto his support and love like a lifeline. He was still terrified and felt sick, but knowing the other father of his baby was there with him made him feel like he could breathe easier.

“I’m still here, by the way.”

Orion pulled back sharply at the dry tone, face flushing with what he knew was a deep red at the amused yet mocking words. Well, this is embarrassing.

“Just in case you’d forgotten.”

Merlin, but Arcturus Black could be an arsehole when he wanted to! His father was currently smirking at his blushing face, while his traitorous husband was currently looking skywards with a bland smile as if he had no clue what was going on.

Orion opened his mouth to say something rather unsavoury to the older Black before Healer Proudfoot strode back in accompanied by three other Healers who began setting up equipment in the room. Oh Merlin, this is actually happening.

A hand squeezing his caught his attention and he turned to see a look of pure encouragement in his husband’s green eyes. I can do this.

“Heir Black, if you may."

As he stood up and shuffled his way over to the bed with the Healers he kept repeating that new mantra. I can do this. I can do this. I can do this. I can do this. I can do this.

He lied down on the bed and watched the Healers wave their wands over his body.

He sincerely hoped his mantra was true.

“I can’t believe the git wouldn’t let anyone tell us what happened.”

“The birth of a future Heir is an auspicious occasion which often happens in secrecy.”

“What part of ‘we’re family’ do you not understand, you sanctimonious bastard?!”

“I don’t think this is quite the right time, you know …”

As the sound of the bickering behind her escalated, Lyra felt her patience literally snap and she spun around with a glare of fury, unknowingly adopting an expression disturbingly-similar to those of Cassiopeia and Lycoris Black during of their infamous ‘death duels’ they staged whenever they got bored.

In other words, she looked terrifying.

“ENOUGH! I have had enough of you lot bickering like a bunch of irritating toddlers while bitching about being left out of the loop! In case you imbeciles hadn’t noticed, we’re actually now in Black Manor so we can find out the truth. On that note, Uncle Orion and Marcus were entirely within their rights to withhold the information of their child from us until we returned from school, and now we’re here I will NOT have your arguing ruin either the atmosphere or Uncle Orion’s recovery simply because you’re unable to control yourself, do I make myself clear?!”

Her cousins all nodded at her rapidly, their heads bobbing up and down frantically while looking at her with wide, fear-filled eyes. The Prewett, Weasley and Crouch siblings were all suspiciously silent in the wake of her rant and Lyra huffed a breath, turning back to the door of the sitting room while muttering under her breath about annoying teenagers.

Honestly, did they think she didn’t care about Uncle Orion? He was her godfather, of course she was worried! Yes, her father and grandfathers had all written to her and assured her of the health of both father and baby, but she hadn’t had anything specifically from Uncle Orion, and in any case written words paled in comparison to seeing them in person.

All she knew was that her godfather had given birth and that both he and his baby were healthy. While that might be the case physically, she was still worried about his mentality after the birth. How would he feel knowing that his child was the cause of his body changing and messing him up over the past several months? Would he resent the baby? Or would seeing his own child make Uncle Orion love them regardless? Just being assured in a brief letter wasn’t enough to assuage her fears.

The sound of hard soles caught her attention and she looked over at the door just in time to see Gran Melania walk in beaming and looking as if she wanted to bounce around giddily while laughing. Apparently becoming a grandmother again, but for the first time because of her son, was a rather happy experience for the woman, and that was putting it lightly. She looked like she’d been hit with a permanent Cheering Charm.

The woman turned to her and smiled widely. “Lyra. Orion has requested that you go in and see him first. The rest of you will get a chance afterwards.”

After addressing the other cousins, there was a bit of good-natured grumbling though it was clear none of them meant it. Everyone was fully aware that Lyra was close to Orion and that it made sense for her see her godfather first. Which she would have anyway, with or without their agreement. Excuse me, the best Defence student at Hogwarts in two separate lifetimes despite a change in magic? I'm bloody awesome and I could easily make them change their minds.

She stood up and grinned at the older woman, her expression belying the mounting anxiety within at the realisation she was about to come face-to-face with the truth.

Sirius or no Sirius?

Lyra mechanically walked out the sitting room and down the hallway to her godfather’s suite, pausing outside to take a few deep breaths and calm herself. It's okay. No matter what happens, you’ll always remember your godfather Sirius and how much he loved you. Being born again or not will never change that.

She let out the air in her lungs and nodded to herself before raising her hand and knocking on the door before she could change her mind. There was a second of silence before she heard a clear voice inviting her in, and she steeled herself before pushing the door open and walking inside, softly closing the door behind her.

It seemed as if her godfather had gotten bored of spending all his time in bed, and the front room she was in was covered by an assortment of blankets and cushions from where the man had seemingly made a nest for himself outside his bedroom. The room was as spacious and gorgeously-decorated as usual, but all her attention was taken up by the man sat on the sofa cradling a small form wrapped in a white blanket.

Lyra felt her heart thud at the sight of the newest Black and her newest cousin. This child was going to determine whether or not she went to bed with a grin or in tears tonight, and she hated herself for thinking like that. She wasn’t going to lie to herself, though; even if she’d be happy with the child regardless, it would still feel like her heart was being crushed if it wasn’t him.

The girl pushed her maudlin thoughts away and smiled brightly. “Uncle Orion. How are you?”

“Lyra,” he said finally tearing his eyes away from his baby with a small grin. “I’m fine, thanks for asking. Did you want to meet your newest cousin?”

She nodded calmly, her appearance belying none of her inner turmoil as she strode forward towards the man and child. Lyra could feel the blood rush in her ears and tried to remember this child was always going to be her cousin no matter what.

Orion leaned forward with the bundle in his arms and adjusted the blanket so she could see the sleeping infant. A tiny face with facial features that blended Orion and Marcus perfectly, pale skin indicative of the baby’s Black heritage, and a thick head of curls that looked identical to the ones on her godfather’s head.

Blonde curls.

“Meet my daughter, Aludra Marciana Black, born on the 4th November.”

She could feel her breath catch as she froze, but before the icy feeling of dread and disappointment could fully settle in her stomach, another voice cut in from the doorway to her left and interrupted the start to her inner breakdown.

“And this,” said Marcus, walking in with a giant grin spread across his face as he held another child, “is our son.

“Meet Sirius Orion Black, born on the 3rd November, 1959.”

Lyra blinked bewilderedly down at the tiny, so tiny form of her own godfather from before and gaped, completely uncaring if the two men took offense to her lack of manners. She could see where Sirius would eventually have a slim nose and strong jaw like his adult self, his lips looking soft but not feminine. In her mind’s eye she could easily see this fragile infant growing up and transitioning into the handsome man that would essentially become a carbon copy of Orion Black.

Sirius was alive.

She could feel herself start to tear up, ecstatic and so relieved that one of the men she’d loved most in any lifetime had a chance to live again, this time unburdened by all the shit he’d gone through before. This Sirius wasn’t the son of Walburga, he wasn’t a part of a Black family falling apart at the seams and stabbing each other in the back at any given opportunity, and he wasn’t the son of a man out of his mind on love potions.

He could be happy.

And he’s going to be if I have my way, Lyra thought viciously. The other Sirius had had a terrible life and was fucked over way too many times to count, but even so he’d still done his best to try and help Harry in any way he could. The man had been half-insane from Azkaban yet he’d tried to remove a threat to Harry’s safety, tried to explain to him about the war and treat Harry like a man while also like a child in need of affection, and that didn’t even get into rushing into the Ministry of Magic to save his godchild despite the chances of being sent back to the very hell he’d escaped from before. Sirius Black hadn’t always handled things well, but at the very least Lyra had never doubted the man’s love and intentions as he tried to protect Harry.

This time, she’d protect him.

And her. Lyra looked over at the child sleeping on Uncle Orion and felt nothing but bemusement. She'd been convinced she would either get Sirius or an entirely new child from this pregnancy, yet instead she had both at once. Lyra had someone she loved and cherished from her old life to look after as well as an entirely new person she had no preconceived notions of. This little girl was solid proof that things were well and truly changing for the House of Black, and Lyra was thrilled at the chance to have a cousin she could learn about as they grew.

She blinked for a few seconds before meeting her godfather’s eyes with a confused frown. “Wait a minute, did you say they have different birthdays? How did that happen?”

Orion snorted and shook his head. “While I didn’t give birth naturally, the operation didn’t happen until very close to midnight. As it happens, Sirius was born quickly but made things difficult for the Healers as he kept screaming and wiggling for attention, so Aludra didn’t come into the world until after the clock struck twelve, leaving her with a different birthday. Or so I’ve been told.”

Lyra bit her tongue before she could break down laughing. Even from birth Sirius was an attention-seeking brat, and having an entirely different parent wasn't enough to change that. Some things were just meant to be.

“Marcus, did you want to call the other kids in? I think they should meet their cousins before they burn down the manor in their excitement.”

The blonde man laughed loudly then leaned down to kiss his husband chastely before walking over to Lyra and unceremoniously dumping his oldest child in her lap with a smirk, clearly expecting her to freak out at having to hold a baby. In response she lifted a brow in challenge then carefully but effortlessly adjusted Sirius so his head was supported in the crook of her elbow and his blankets were wrapped securely and comfortably around his body.

Marcus pouted. “Well, that’s not fair.”

“Of course not,” she drawled with a playful smirk. “It’s not as if Cissa’s been living with me and my father since she was born or anything. Of course I’ve never cared for an infant.”

(Cissa was certainly a more believable excuse than, ‘I was the father of three children and the grandfather of eleven, I know damn well how to hold a baby, moron.’)

“Oh, right,” Marcus murmured as he grinned sheepishly. The man poked his tongue out at her as she rolled her eyes at him before heading out to find her school-aged cousins so they could meet the newest Blacks.

As the door closed, Lyra looked down at the baby in her arms and studied him once more, beaming as the infant woke up and blinked slowly before settling unfocused, baby-blue eyes at her for a second. God, he’s cute.

Then he screamed.

Yep, just as loud as the other Sirius, she thought with a wince.

As Lyra helped her godfather wrangle two crying babies, she wondered how else things were going to change in the future. It couldn’t be stranger than a brand-new child appearing, surely.

She considered that thought before blanching and shaking her head. Better not jinx it.

The girl grinned at baby Sirius. Not with this family, anyway.

Chapter Text

Lyra leaned back in the chair and peered down at her personal journal, studying her own neat calligraphy as she tried not to frown. 

Tom Riddle was always going to be a pain in the arse to deal with, she’d known that, but actually going over his life with a fine-tooth comb down to the last minute detail – and trying to do so in a manner that gave her irrefutable and objective truths that she could act on without hesitation or uncertainty – was exhausting. And irritating. If she was being entirely honest, she was completely fucked off with the entire situation and the limitations she was under. 

The biggest problem she had was the physical nature of herself and what she wanted to study. Lyra Black was a twelve-year-old witch who either resided at a secluded school in the Scottish countryside during term time, or in her home or the family manor under the watchful eye – and a tracking charm or two – of her extraordinarily overprotective father or her interfering relatives. She didn’t yet have the magical power required to either Apparate or create a portkey, and considering the Knight bus and fireplaces in Hogsmeade could sense if someone was underage or not, they weren’t much help, either. She couldn’t exactly just leave to investigate what needed to looked into, meaning there was no real way for her to confirm whether or not things were exactly the same as her past life. 

Whether or not Tom Marvolo Riddle was the same as her past life. 

She absentmindedly tapped the tip of her quill against the parchment and frowned a little at the first sentence. Tom M. Riddle, born to Merope Gaunt and Tom Riddle Snr. I almost feel bad for him; his mum was an obsessed and desperate stalker, and his old man was a spoiled and self-entitled coward. Lyra knew she was probably being way too harsh on Merope and Tom; they each had their own circumstances which affected their behaviour, but that didn’t mean they both hadn’t made some spectacularly stupid decisions that had inadvertently yet directly made their son into something of a psycho. Even without considering the baby involved, neither Tom nor Merope had acted with much common sense or maturity. 

Lyra shook of the scathing thoughts and looked back down at the page. She'd written some notes on what she remembered of the idiot from her past life, from his situation at the orphanage, what he’d done to the other children in retaliation, all the way up until the first war and the list of victims he’d accumulated.  

What was most important was the Horcruxes. 

What was most annoying was just how little she knew about them. 

Albus Dumbledore had lived a life of holding his cards way too close to his chest, refusing to share any of his carefully-hoarded information for fear that he couldn’t maintain control of things around him. That was really and truly the main issue; the old man had become so accustomed to being the one dictating and directing things for others – reinforced no doubt thanks to the mindless drones of their society who couldn’t seem to wipe their own arses without being told to – that he never escaped the mindset that he had to do everything himself. He never considered that someone else might actually be able to do things that he could, or heaven forbid things he was unable to. 

This particular situation highlighted the lack of information dissemination quite clearly; Lyra knew what all the Horcruxes were, she knew which of them had been created at this point in time, and she knew where they would be in the year nineteen ninety-eight.  

After two wars in a world where Lyra Black didn’t exist to fuck with the timeline because she wanted to change certain things. 

She was fucked. 

She'd never been told when exactly the Horcruxes were made – discounting Nagini and herself, seeing as she knew damn well when that crazy bastard made his pet a soul container; those visions had been awful as a teenager – rather she knew what period in time they were all done by.  

It was currently nineteen-sixty, and Lyra knew that all the Horcruxes had been created in the forties by the time Riddle was only twenty. Which was disturbing on so many levels in the context of his sanity and common sense, but she wasn’t even going to get into that topic. Just the knowledge that Tom Riddle was rather cunning and could have been a powerful political force that shaped the world for the better was beyond irritating to think about. So much wasted potential, but she was getting off track. 

The Horcruxes. 

The diary, the Gaunt ring, Slytherin’s locket, Ravenclaw’s diadem, Hufflepuff’s cup. They all existed at this moment in time as receptacles of an insane man’s soul, and they’d all been completed by the end of the nineteen-forties through various murders. The issue once more was the lack of knowledge she possessed concerning the particulars. As much as pained her to admit – which also summarily pissed her off when considering Albus-bloody-Dumbledore – she was far from having all the facts. 

Lyra did know the first Horcrux created was the diary, made with the death of one Myrtle Warren, who had in fact died in a tragic accident in this timeline in the year nineteen forty-three. There was also a corresponding award in the trophy room for Riddle for ‘special services’ to the school. Which is complete and utter bollocks in so many ways, but of course Dumbledore couldn’t just act decisively for once. For Christ’s sake, he might not have been Tom’s guardian, but there’s no way he wouldn’t have been able to convince Dippet to have the wanker properly investigated! Lyra closed her eyes and tried to stave off the migraine at the thoughts of the people in charge of their education. One problem at a time. 

From what she remembered of the other Horcruxes, they were created in rather rapid succession over the course of that decade after Voldy offed his classmate in a temper tantrum of dire consequences. (Why people considered Tom Riddle to be smart, she’d never know. How was murdering someone in broad daylight while leaving evidence behind the work of an intelligent person?  

… Bloody hell, I knew becoming friends with Draco would fuck me up eventually.

The next Horcrux to be created was apparently the ring, done so with the – again, very not subtle – murders of the Riddle family and subsequent framing of Morfin Gaunt. The fact that the second soul container was made within the same year, within months even, of the first Horcrux was horrifying to even think about. The soul was a person’s entire being, and for a magical it was everything about them. Their Family magic, their blood, their very essence … The soul was a sacred part of any person, and to imagine someone so casually yet deliberately tearing it to shreds made Lyra’s stomach turn.  

Lyra may have had a skewed moral compass, but doing that to a soul was wrong

In the remaining years of that decade, Tom Riddle went on to ruin himself even further by desecrating priceless heirlooms from the middle ages, incredible reminders of the venerated Founders. Four infamous witches and wizards whose possessions were destroyed all for the quest of a man who refused to accept his own mortality. It was disgusting when she thought about it, but then again, even as Harry death had never truly scared her. Life was much more terrifying with its endless uncertainties and pitfalls of pain. Being mortal was … grounding for her. She thought that over and shook her head, a wry smile playing about her lips. I really am messed up, aren’t I? 

The girl twisted the quill in her fingers, running the soft feather over the clinical and factual words that made her feel ill. 

Diary. June 1943. Myrtle. 

- Ring. August 1943. Riddles. 

- Locket. December 1946 (?). Muggle tramp (?). 

- Cup. December 1946 (?). Hepzibah Smith (?). 

- Diadem. 1946/47 (?). Albanian peasant (?). 

Myrtle was … well, it wasn’t easy in any sense of the word, but it had been rather simple for Lyra to discover whether or not the girl was dead in this world, and the presence of her ghost – startlingly identical to Harry’s dead fan from before – was ample proof to start with that Voldemort wasn’t any different in this world. Which wasn’t good news seeing as he was a mass-murdering crazy bastard, but the prospect of having at least some advantage in terms of knowledge was a nice silver lining Lyra was happy to embrace. 

On the other hand, the murders of the Riddle family weren’t exactly the sort of news magical beings received at all, so Lyra had no clue on that particular incident. The same with the diadem murder. How the bloody hell was she supposed to find any reports on the random murder of a poorer person from what she assumed was rural Albania? I don’t even know if they were magical or not. It wouldn’t be the first time he used a muggle, she thought, memories flickering back to the aristocratic Riddles, the elegant family living in contrast to their modest neighbours and surroundings. 

Even if she were to find information on the deaths of Hepzibah Smith and the Riddles, that wouldn’t exactly provide all the answers for the endless questions she had. Did Tom make two Horcruxes at once when he killed Smith? Which did he make first, the locket or the cup? When exactly did he get the diadem, and why did it take him years after he graduated to go and find the bloody thing? Surely The Grey Lady had already told him about the situation with her mother while in school, so why did he go to Borgin and Burkes instead of straight to Albania? 

The more she thought, the more she questioned, and the less she was answered. Story of my fucking life. 

What it boiled down to was this: Lyra needed more information. She needed to know the truth about the Riddles, whether or not they were even alive, and she needed to know the general consensus of Hepzibah Smith’s death and how it happened. The more knowledge she had, the better off she’d be in making a decision as to the character of Tom Riddle in this life. Though knowing my luck, we’ll be stuck with the same psychotic imbecile as before. She blew a stream of air out her mouth, absentmindedly watching a few dark curls sway from the force, before tilting her head back and staring at the cream ceiling. 

She needed help. 

Just because she knew about her version of the Horcruxes and where they’d ended up later on, didn’t mean she had any clue as to where they’d be right now, if they even existed. (Though she was more or less convinced things were the same as before, but she wouldn’t discount the possibility of otherwise. Despite what some people had thought, Harry Potter had in fact learnt to think things through, and Lyra didn’t want to risk Gin tearing through time and space just to launch a Bat-Bogey Hex at her head and rant about her lack of self-control. The woman was friends with Luna and Hermione, time and dimensional travel was nothing to those three.)  

Hence, she needed someone outside the castle to investigate for her, someone that wouldn’t ask questions, and someone that wouldn’t go out of their way to ‘help' her in any way they saw fit. Her father was out of the question immediately; the man was too over-protective as it was, let alone if he caught wind of her investigating actual murders. She briefly imagined the reaction and snorted. There was no way she was going to deal with that hysterical panicking.  

Her uncles and aunts would more than likely acquiesce to any of her requests, right before they decided to get involved for their own entertainment and probably fuck things up so much that all of Lyra’s plans would be useless. Her cousins were of a similar temperament, and if Edmund wasn’t so determined to keep his younger relatives safe from harm, she would have asked him to do a little digging for her now he was out of school. But he was, so no. Granddad Arcturus would go even greyer if I asked him to do this, which leaves …  

The girl pictured said man in her head and groaned out loud, knowing that while he was the best person for the job, he was also someone that’d take great joy in analysing her actions and making assumptions that would piss her off. Which she damn well knew he did on purpose, those words pleading innocence were complete and utter bullshit

Lyra closed her eyes and counted to ten and back again, repeating once more before relaxing and slouching in her chair, very much appreciating the empty dorm room for once. Propriety was the least of her concerns right now. She pulled a sheet of parchment to her and dipped her quill in her black ink, poising the tip over the page as she considered her wording. 

Soon after she paused, rolling her eyes and grinning to herself. Why am I worrying about etiquette with a man who got drunk in celebration after his own wife died? Without a moment’s hesitation she started writing, words flowing without thought and Lyra smirked. 

I wonder what he’ll find.  

The man looked down at the open envelope on his desk and pondered with a smirk on his face. 

The young girl – who was really and truly a woman in terms of intelligence and maturity, held captive in a growing body – was far too brilliant to ever be trapped in an arranged marriage, and he’d do everything in his power to ensure that never happened. If only for his own amusement. 

Lyra was beyond intelligent, had immense bravery that was tempered by a sharp mind, and the balls to do what she wanted regardless of what anyone thought, including her family. He certainly enjoyed watching her cause chaos, more than anything because he was guaranteed a front-row seat to whatever mayhem she caused either deliberately or inadvertently. Like watching Alphard whenever he received an offer of betrothal for Lyra simply because his daughter was a gorgeous young lady. (Seriously, he needed to calm down and breathe. Said young lady wasn’t as fucked up as some of their other female relatives, and he had no doubt she’d at least be of age before getting married. Not that that would stop Alphard from having a mental breakdown or anything when it eventually happened, but at least it would be fun to watch from the side-lines.) 

Yes, Pollux definitely appreciated his granddaughter Lyra. 

He could admit that he'd considered disinheriting Alphard after he got some French chit pregnant – French. Really, Son? – but he couldn't bear to do that to his favourite child. Not that he'd ever admit that Alphard was his favourite (his ego was bad enough as it was), but considering his daughter had always been a little … off, and Cygnus had been a pompous child more like a Malfoy – which I would have believed of the cheating bitch had the family tapestry not said otherwise – it was obvious that his laidback oldest son was easier to deal with. 

When Alphard had asked about getting sole custody of his unborn child, Pollux had been more than mildly impressed; Alphard had usually been one for compromising, and rarely did he ever try to steamroll over other people to get what he wanted. Though considering his wife's personality, Pollux had understood. And sympathised – a lot. 

The woman dying hadn't been expected but it fixed everything nice and neatly. The useless woman wouldn't be around to corrupt his first grandchild, and the Blacks had a brand-new generation – from his branch of the family. Not that he rubbed it in Arcturus' face or anything. Much. 

Lyra was a brilliant addition to the family and she was a little genius in the making. She took well to her lessons, ended up taking her cousins under her wing as pseudo-siblings, and even managed to stop their more stupid family members from ruining them. (He still looked back on the memories of his daughter and youngest son when they were children, and wondered when exactly things had gone so wrong.) 

Hearing about her exploits in Hogwarts brought back memories of her blasé father as a teenager, and he couldn't help but laugh hysterically at his eleven-year-old granddaughter getting such brutal revenge on her enemies. While he was a little pissed off that she'd been exposed to sex like that, the bigger part of him felt so proud that she'd been so vicious in her revenge. He'd almost shed a tear of pure happiness. Especially as nobody could prove it had been her. She was a true Black through and through, and he delighted in hearing about every scandal or situation she was involved in; seeing Arcturus resisting the urge to drown himself in a bottle of firewhiskey was just a bonus as far as he was concerned. 

Lyra faced every trial with perfect grace, though she was ruthless in getting what she wanted. The Bole debacle was the epitome of callous and unrelenting revenge, even if she hadn’t gone all the way and removed his worthless self from this life. Then again, if she had his poor son wouldn’t have had anyone to take his anger out on, and he and Arcturus wouldn’t have had that lovely afternoon of family bonding while hunting down the little shit. (Not that it was much of a hunt, truth be told, the cretin was disgustingly easy to capture. A pity, really. He'd been looking forward to something a little more exciting, but his granddaughter was happy and healthy, the brat was dead, and all was done.)  

The girl tore people down without a second thought, delighted in showing everyone how superior she was, and casually – but stringently – protected her cousins to the best of her ability. He hadn’t seen a Black so family oriented since his youngest sister. (Though that was something of a worrisome comparison considering Dorea had something of a reputation for doting on the cousins she liked and setting the rest on fire for her own amusement.) Just like Dorea, Lyra seemed to act in a way that was simultaneously uncaring of others opinions, while also playing everyone around her to give herself the best advantage. She was hilarious to witness, and he couldn’t deny that he really did love his granddaughter. 

He also knew that she was more curious than a hyper kneazle, and was why this letter was far more intriguing than was immediately obvious.


Before I get into the topic of this letter, is it really okay for me to come home for the blessing ceremony? While I won’t deny I genuinely want to be there for Sirius and  Aludra , I'm surprised the school would allow me to miss a day for the occasion. It doesn’t help that Headmaster  Dippet  seems to be replying on Professor Dumbledore and his  advice  in matters of student experience and learning more and more as time goes by. Honestly, is informing the muggle- borns  about the truth of magical culture, the good  and  the bad, such a terrible idea? It's not as if that might cease conflicts or anything, but I digress. Ranting about the  worrying  education standards  at  Hogwarts  wasn’t  why I wrote.  

This letter is a request for assistance in a personal project of mine. I wish to know more about the death of Madam Hepzibah Smith, more specifically the general conclusion as to how she died. A year-mate of mine is a relative of hers, and while some might deem it callous to use the memory of a family member from beyond the veil to manipulate them, I am a Black and quite frankly don’t give a shit. He's actually as bad as Bole was, though unfortunately not nearly as much of a threat to warrant that level of retribution. He's more like an annoying fly that needs swatting every now and then. Perhaps I should invest in  one  of the muggle swatters?  

If you are amenable, I would also appreciate some information on the Riddle family (they are muggles) from the village of Little  Hangleton  in Yorkshire. I have some suspicions concerning their relation to somebody breaking the Statute of Secrecy, something which you and I both agree is a terribly stupid idea. Of  course , it’s  such  a fantastic idea to antagonise the people that invented the atomic bomb! Yet another reason why our school really needs to teach its students about the non-magical world. It might even get some of the narrow-minded muggle- borns  to open their fucking eyes and realise the magical world isn’t the only community with problems.  

I've gotten off track again. Would you be willing  to  obtain this information, and if you cannot would you please direct me to someone who will? Preferably not one of our relatives with poor impulse control, if you get my meaning. There is in fact such a thing as too much help.  

Your (rather stressed) granddaughter,  


The man skimmed his silver eyes over the neat writing once more and snorted, hand clapping over his mouth as the sound devolved into hysterical cackles. 

Lyra was such a little shit. 

Granted, her letter was incredibly cavalier – as was the norm for his blasé granddaughter when she wrote informal letters to their family – and her words seemed so casual and unplanned, but Pollux had been a large part of the girl’s childhood and knew how her mind worked. Even more, he’d had a front-row seat to her mischievous nature for years, witnessing first-hand how the girl went about fucking with people without them ever realising they were the victim of a vindictive and/or bored Black. Pollux admitted his granddaughter was fairly reserved for one of their family, but he also knew a façade when he saw one and knew nothing about her was accidental. Like this letter. 

She was lying.  

If there was one thing Lyra had inherited from Alphard it was his penchant for using impropriety as both a mask and a dagger in the back, sometimes both at the same time. Lyra simply couldn’t be bothered with perfect etiquette while corresponding to a member of their family that wouldn’t take offense, but that casual diction worked perfectly as a way to manipulate the weak-minded into doing or thinking things they ordinarily wouldn’t. She was being simple, how could that possibly be planned? Of course she wasn’t mentioning the problems with the education system because she wanted her grandfather to start thinking about it and do something to rectify it! Pollux smirked. Dearest Lyra, you are so entertaining to see in action.  

He knew full well that she enjoyed dropping metaphorical bombshells in a manner that seemed entirely unintentional, and even more interesting – especially so in this letter – was her written vernacular. Lyra had a tendency to slip further into formality the more agitated she got, so the fact that she’d been perfectly polite while asking for help indicated there was something about these particular situations that made her wary. Which was rather worrying considering his granddaughter’s usual propensity for trouble; if even she was concerned because of this topic, there must be something truly worrying there. 

The least Pollux could do was conduct a covert investigation himself to see what he could find out. There was no way he was going to refuse her request – at least she’s got more manners than Alphard, which isn’t too hard now I think about it – partly because it would be amusing if she found out something interesting or scandalous, and partly because no matter how much he joked about, he did in fact trust his granddaughter’s judgement immensely. 

He wouldn’t interfere and mess up her own plans – clearly she had some other ideas turning over in her mind rather than what she mentioned in her letter, but he was impressed with her lies all the same; they were rather convincing, all things considered – but there was nothing wrong with arming himself with information that might benefit Lyra in the future. He knew – as Lyra obviously did – that their other relatives would probably act on anything they found without consulting her, more than likely interfering and causing her plans to crash and burn. can’t blame her for not wanting that lot involved. 

Pollux wouldn’t do that to her. Lyra had been single-handedly responsible for catching Walburga and spotting the behaviour of Cygnus and Druella, and instead of reacting like an emotional child, she hadn’t let those in question become aware of her knowledge before going straight to Lord Black. He had no doubt his granddaughter was intelligent enough to plan appropriately, so really and truly there was no need for him to forcefully insert himself into the situation. 

Pollux would ensure he was well-equipped to deal with anything his trouble-magnet of a granddaughter came across, all the while trying to figure out just what it was Lyra was investigating herself. 

He'd always loved a good mystery. 

Lyra walked down the halls of Black Manor, trying to forget the annoying smirk on her grandfather’s face. 

She'd known asking Pollux Black for help with the Horcruxes – well, help with finding information on them in a very roundabout way – would be a pain the arse, but she honestly wanted to punch him in the face. He kept looking at her and grinning, like ‘I know you’re up to something and nobody else does.’ He was a grown man who was nearly fifty, he should really start acting like it!  

… She could dream, couldn’t she? 

The girl sighed slightly and shook her head. No. Today is about family, and there’s no way I'm going to let that crazed psycho ruin this for me. Tom was a very serious threat, but Lyra could say with perfect honesty that the idea of her relatives trying to curse her if she was late terrified her so much more right now. (To be quite frank, Lyra was glad none of the Blacks had ever seen fit to become a Dark Lord. They were way more creative than Tom-the-Unforgiveables-are-the-only-spells-worth-using-Riddle. Usurping control of Britain in a mere year? No problem! If they’d had the slightest inclination, we’d be living in the Black Empire right now.

Lyra made her way towards the suite she’d entered terrified just a few short months ago and smiled wryly. It was strange how things could change so drastically in such a short period of time. She was now quite excited to see her baby cousins again, even if it was only for a day. Lyra wanted to see how things were getting on and if Sirius had in fact started looking more like his future self. She'd admit it would be weird to see him with Marcus’ green eyes, but she supposed it couldn’t be any more jarring than finding that picture of a teenage Sirius with thick eyeliner and batting his lashes at the camera. (She didn’t care what Gin said, there was no way the person behind the camera wasn’t Remus. And people used to call Harry oblivious?) 

She vaguely wondered if Aludra had Uncle Orion’s silver eyes or if she’d be like Cissa and end up with no Black colouring whatsoever. It was a little strange, she mused, that Cissa was very much a Black in terms of magic, yet still ended up looking just like Druella, though thankfully more beautiful than that bitch had ever been. Though that still didn’t stop the spiteful comments questioning the paternity of the blonde girl and if she even belonged in their House. Says the hypocrites that are shagging everyone but their spouses. Yet another reason she had to essentially usurp control of Slytherin; it was bad enough for the girl to be known at least superficially as Cygnus Black’s daughter, but Lyra knew full well there were going to be hateful comments and rumours when the young girl started Hogwarts. Unless of course she scared everyone into submission while grooming lovely and (slightly) crazy Bella to take over when she left. She pictured it and snorted. I almost pity them. Almost. 

She knocked on the door and went in at the sound of her uncle’s voice, closing the door behind her as she once more took in the nest of blankets and cushions thrown haphazardly around the sofa and on the floor in front of it. Unlike last time there were baby bottles and stuffed toys here and there around the room – Orion was obviously beyond caring about tidiness at this point – and of course the large wooden cot just next to the sofa. 

Lyra smiled briefly at her uncle leaning against the door to his room before making her way over to the cot and peering down at the two infants. Closest to her was Aludra, who had in fact defied Black genetics and now sported light golden hair and dark-green eyes like her sire, though she was still obviously Orion’s. Sirius on the other hand looked exactly like he was supposed to, and she couldn’t help but grin and wiggle her fingers in front of those curious silver orbs. The oh-so-great, suave and sophisticated Sirius Orion Black, mysterious man who smoked and drank whiskey like there was no tomorrow, now exists as a screaming infant who has no control over his own toilet habits. If only he could see himself now, this is hilarious. 


She lifted her head. “Uncle Orion?” 

“I wanted to talk to you before the blessings.” The man pushed off from the wall and strode towards her, settling himself comfortably on the sofa. He looked serious, but thankfully a hell of a lot more settled than during the pregnancy, which she was infinitely grateful for. “You know that we planned for a singular child, hence why originally Marcus and I only chose one set of godparents. We've decided to go with Alphard and Marcus’ sister Claudia for Aludra, as was the initial choice. Alphard is good with children – but please don’t tell him I said that, his ego is terrible enough to deal with as it is,” he muttered while rolling his eyes, making Lyra smirk, “and Claudia is an extraordinarily independent woman who’d be a good influence on Aludra. 

“The issue now is Sirius.” 

Orion looked her in the eye with a significant look on his face. “Neither of us want any of our children to forget either side of their family, so we chose Cassius for Sirius’ godfather. I would have chosen Lucretia, but my sister has managed to amass four godchildren over the past several years and I should probably give her a break.  

“So I chose you.” 

Lyra blinked rapidly, hearing and understanding the words the man was speaking, but not quite processing them because the picture they painted really wasn’t she’d been expecting from this conversation. She said the only thing her brain could manage to send out right now. 


The man’s lips twitched at her flat tone and no doubt bewildered face, obviously finding all sorts of amusement in the fact he’d just announced he was asking his own godchild to be the godparent to his own child. (And if that convoluted statement didn’t sum up the general weirdness of their family’s design, she didn’t know what would.) 

“I would like you to be Sirius’ godmother.” 

“Uncle Orion,” she spoke slowly, genuinely wondering if he was suffering from some sort of head injury, “I’m twelve.” 

A brow raised in derision. “Funnily enough, I can actually count, Lyra.” 

“Funny,” she snorted and crossed her arms. “In the eyes of the law and magic itself, I am a child, no matter how much I despise the distinction. A godparent is someone who’s seen as an authority figure, yet how can I be so if I'm underage?” (Which was all she was going to think about right now, because she couldn’t address the horrific irony of this situation without crying and laughing hysterically.) 

Orion rolled his eyes again – so much for a proper Heir Black – and turned unamused eyes on hers. “A godparent has no legitimate need to be of-age, people simply chose adults in case the worst happens and the child has to be adopted by the godparents. I’d rather not think about anything happening to Marcus or I, but even if it did our children would be adopted by the family and raised to Head the family in the future. Besides, if the absolute worst ever happened – which I refuse to even consider – and you were the one that had to adopt any of the Black children, my father's already arranged it so you'd be automatically emancipated.”

Those words stopped her short and she started. “What? Emancipated? When did that happen?” 

His face softened and he reached forward to hold her hand gently. “Lyra, we all know how mature you are, not to mention intelligent, so we all agreed if there was ever such a situation where all of the adults were unable to Head the family, you would do so until the designated Heir was old and competent enough to take over.” 

Lyra froze at that thought and tried to calm her racing heart. This was … this was insane. She didn’t want to even think of her family dying, having to try and raise her younger cousins while keeping the Black family alive and flourishing. It was … horrendous to think about. She briefly considered a certain desk in the manor and physically shuddered. 

“What’s wrong?” 

She turned to see a concerned look on the man’s face and grimaced. “I just remembered the mounds of paperwork Granddad Arcturus has to deal with day in day out. No way in hell am I dealing with that crap, I'll do anything to keep all you bastards alive.”  

She paused for a second. “Until Sirius is seventeen, anyway, you’re on your own after that." 

Orion had wide eyes for a second before he coughed a little, the sound dissolving into roaring laughter that had tears pouring from his eyes and a red flush crawling across his pale face. Which was admittedly pretty funny – and heart-warming after the past year – to see, even if the twins didn’t sound too pleased at the noise.  

Lyra turned and tried to wave a stuffed unicorn in front of the babies, smiling when little Sirius made grabbing motions and held on tightly to the soft fur, small face lighting up in an infectious grin at the feeling. Aludra on the other hand seemed far more interested in her brother’s smile, green eyes boring into Sirius’s face with a curious expression that reminded Lyra of the Ravenclaws whenever they found something interesting. I wonder if she’ll break the mould of Blacks being snakes? 

“You have a stronger connection with Sirius.” 

She jumped slightly at the sound and stared at her godfather, the amusement on his face muted for the moment as he stared at her. The girl felt as though the words were a condemnation of sorts and winced, feeling guilty all of a sudden. She had no desire to choose between her family. “I’m sorry –” 

“That’s not what I meant,” he interrupted with a wave of his hand. “Your magic resonates with his, it’s why he’s so responsive to you. When he gets older, you’ll probably find that the two of you can duel well together, or cast any magic, really. It's not that well-known, but certain family members aside from parents and children have close magic, even within Family magic. It's another way people choose godparents because the synchronicity helps foster trust and the godparent bond. Aludra's the same way with Claudia despite the fact she’s not a Black, which was another point in her favour for being godmother.” He was silent for a second before he smirked. “Of course, you could also do what Alphard did and play politics just to piss off Lord Sirius Black.” 

The girl laughed lightly and looked back down at Sirius, feeling her heart warm. He was so beautiful and looked so happy, and she couldn’t help the desire that rose up in her, wanting to wrap him up in blankets and keep him safe from the rest of the world. She hadn’t felt like that since her own children.  

That thought gave Lyra pause and she reached down with a finger which Sirius promptly wrapped in her hand, squeezing without a care in the world. Lyra closed her eyes and felt along her magic, awed at the feel of it mingling with the untrained pools belonging to the baby holding on to her. It reminded her of her magic mixing with that of her second son, the one who’d taken after Harry in every way possible, at least physically. And a lot of ways in terms of personality, even if the stubborn boy hadn’t wanted to admit it. She missed them all. 

She shook off the melancholy thought and turned back to Orion, pausing with a frown as a thought came to mind. “Uncle Orion, if you didn’t like your grandfather so much, why did you reuse his name for your own son?” 

The man smiled wickedly at her. “I think you and I both know I'd never name my son after that arsehole, Lyra.” He grinned at her choked laugh before carrying on. “Did you know that Phineas Nigellus Black nearly died when he was six-years-old?” 

She shook her head at the random anecdote. She had no idea. 

“Anyway, his older brother – who was just eight at the time – pushed young Phineas out of the way of an errant spell – they were at a party hosted by their mother’s family, which was unfortunately attacked – and took on the spell himself. As said spell had in fact been designed to cause massive amounts of damage to a fully-grown wizard, to a child it was deadly and the young boy perished. 

“That boy was named Sirius.” 

Orion leaned back and gazed at his children with warm, loving eyes. “My grandfather carried his namesake horrendously, ruined it. The Sirius who died for his family as a mere child is someone who deserves to be remembered, which is why I used it.” There was a beat of silence. “And hopefully this time we’ll have a Sirius Black who doesn’t make everyone want to hex him on sight.” 

Lyra bit her tongue to stifle her giggles. Yeah, good luck with that, Uncle. If he’s anything like the other version, you’ll be wanting to hex him from the moment he walks and talks. I hope you enjoy Calming Draughts and Pepper-Ups, you’ll be needing them for years to come

“So, what do you say?” 

The girl turned back to the man who’d doted on her for years, almost becoming something of a second father to her – just without the over-protective melodrama – and considered the idea. Did she want to be Sirius’ godmother? It was so strange to think about considering her previous relationship with the other Sirius, but perhaps she wasn’t looking at this from the right perspective. Perhaps the question she should be asking herself is whether she wants to help him have a better life or not. 

No shit, Sherlock. 

Of course she wanted him to have a better life! He'd been screwed over so many times in Harry’s lifetime, from childhood right up until his end, and Lyra couldn’t fathom sitting back and trying to make things turn out okay from the side-lines, especially when she could look after him directly. Being his godmother would make that infinitely easier, and maybe this way she’d be able to curb his more morally-grey habits and ensure he ended up more open-minded than before. (Lyra loved her memories of her godfather, but she was far from blind to his faults. Feeding people to werewolves wasn’t a good idea; she had to wonder if he’d been suffering from a head injury when he did that.) 

Being godmother to Sirius Orion Black would be weird, no doubt – the irony is bitch-slapping me across the face now, it’s ridiculous – but she loved him and wanted to protect him. Which she could do if she said the magic words. 

“Okay, I accept.” 

The man beamed and her and stood up, encasing her in his muscled arms and hugging her tightly. She felt a pair of lips press to her head gently and buried into his chest, closing her eyes and soaking up the affection. It felt eerily like the hugs Sirius always gave Harry, and she briefly wondered if Sirius had ever been more disappointed with Orion than Walburga because they were so similar. She pushed the thoughts away and inhaled the scent of musky cologne, so different from the muggle cigarette smoke that permeated her other godfather. This isn’t the same, and if I have my way, he’ll never have to bury himself in vices just to cope with life. 

“Thank you, Lyra.” 

He pulled back and brushed one of her curl behind her ears. “Now, did you want to help me get the imps to the ceremony?” 

She nodded with a grin and watched as Uncle Orion bent down to pick up his daughter, cradling the unusually quiet infant against his chest as her eyes flitted around the room. Contrary to his sister, Sirius was happily making as much noise as possible, the sounds not even close to stereotypical babble as they tried to speak, but nonetheless he was looking at her and trying to communicate, which was so ridiculously cute it was unbelievable. Seriously, this grows up to be a man who attracts romantic partners like moths to a flame? His teens are going to be hell. She momentarily imagined this baby as a young man and felt her eyebrow twitch. Nobody is going to take advantage of him, not going to happen. 

The party of four made their way through the manor’s hallways, the older two chatting about Lyra’s current Defence assignment on their way to the extensive gardens. As they made their way out the doors, they came face-to-face with the majority of their family, even though the standard blessing and naming ceremonies were considered for close family only. The issue with that description was that the House of Black was closer than ever before, and the Greengrasses were also rather amicable towards one another as a whole. 

It seemed that Lyra wasn’t the only one that had been given permission to miss school – she did wonder just how Granddad Arcturus had managed to pull that one off – and her Weasley, Prewett and Crouch cousins were all with their parents, mingling with their various other relatives. Aunt Cassi and Aunt Coris seemed to have teamed up to wind up Granddad Arcturus, the older man looking a second away from whipping out his wand and cursing his sister and cousin just for some peace and quiet. Though considering how good the two women were at duelling, her unofficial grandfather would probably just start some stupidly-powerful fight that would level half the manor. Or all of it. 

Uncle Marius was with his wife and daughters, the two girls being fawned over by Bella, Andi and Cissa, though they were sticking close to Dorea whose icy glare was ample warning to stay the fuck away from her and her brother. Her lips twitched. My godmother’s fucking hilarious.  

And of course, the Greengrass contingent were all there, seeing as their family was rather small in comparison to the Blacks. Marcus’ parents Cadmus and Marciana were there, the poster-perfect blonde couple who looked like they belonged in a modelling agency somewhere; she shouldn’t have been surprised with Marcus being so gorgeous. 

Marcus’ elder brother Cassius was stood not far from his parents with his wife Corinna Greengrass nee Pucey and their two children, four-year-old Cyrus (who was the future father of Daphne and Astoria), and baby Clara who was being held in her mother’s arms. Just off to the side was his sister Claudia, who had a wide smile on her face and was in deep discussion with Marcus, Pollux and Alphard. 

This was her family. 

They were insane, there were far too many of them to be normal – this wasn’t even everyone – and they tended to cause more problems than solve them at any given time. But she wouldn’t give them up for the world. Harry had grown up feeling unwanted and unloved for so long, so much so that it had taken Ron and Hermione years just to build a decent and solid friendship with him while understanding his issues. That didn’t even get into Gin, and Lyra could still remember the heart-broken expression on the redhead’s face when she realised the true depths of Harry’s non-existent self-esteem. The woman had worked tirelessly for years, even after their divorce, to ensure that Harry felt loved and wanted, and Lyra loved Gin too much to let all her hard work go to waste. She wasn’t going to let her family go to hell and she wasn’t going to let them go for anything. 

As she watched the druid gather her family and bless her newest cousins, inviting her, Cassius, Claudia and her father to be bonded with the children as godparents, Lyra knew that she’d do everything in her power to make them happy. 

Even if they did make her want to facepalm nearly every day. 

Lyra tiptoed back into the Slytherin dormitory, making sure her roommates were asleep before rifling through her trunk and getting her pyjamas. After getting ready for bed she climbed into the four-poster and closed the draped, absentmindedly casting the usual protection and silencing spells around her bed. Not only was she in a room full of vindictive little girls, she really didn’t want to deal with them hearing any nightmares of hers. Though maybe that’s a new way to scare the crap out of them? 

She mentally shook off the thoughts of terrifying the snide girls and thought back over the day’s events. The ceremony had been beautiful as expected, but it was strange thinking about the impact of what had happened. 

I'm Sirius’ godmother. I am now the goddaughter of my godfather’s father, and the godmother of my old godfather. I'm now in a position of authority over Sirius Orion Black. 

Lyra blinked and stared at the ceiling, eyes widening in realisation. Fucking hell, I'm the corrupting influence now. 

The girl was very thankful for the strong silencers around the bed as she choked on a laugh, trying to restrain herself before she let loose with loud cackles that would have put the future Bellatrix Lestrange to shame. She couldn’t help it, she was hiccoughing and snorting through her giggles, tears streaming down her face as laughed maniacally into her pillow. She was Sirius’ godmother

Her life was mental. 

I’m totally buying him a toy broom. 

Chapter Text

“You do realise that the twins are only six months, don't you?”

“So? What's wrong with getting a head-start on our plans?”

Orion just levelled his overenthusiastic husband with a flat look and slowly shook his head at Marcus' unrepentant grin. He really and truly loved the slightly older man, but that didn't mean that he didn't often want to hex him and attempt to jolt some common sense into him. And some patience. How his spouse had survived in Slytherin was as much a mystery as how the muggles perceived the ancient island of Atlantis.

Sirius and Aludra were, as he had clearly pointed out, a mere six-months-old, and the two of them were so startlingly precocious that they seemed to be ahead of the developmental curve by a fair margin; Orion had already started having horrified visions of when they started crawling. Given that they could already hoist themselves up on all fours and shuffle maybe an inch or two before they fell, it wouldn't be that long before they began to give him daily panic attacks.

Marcus knew all this and more, yet the idiot blonde that he was in love with – and yes, he was somewhat of an idiot, Orion was in love, not blind or oblivious – was clearly of the opinion that that fact wasn't enough of a reason to hold out for longer. Apparently taking to fatherhood like a fish to water – often making Orion soften and internally thank Lyra for saving him from what would have been a fate worse than hell if his harpy of a cousin had succeeded in her incestuous plans – was something that made Marcus extremely in favour of wanting even more physical proof of their love for one another.

By having another child already.

Thankfully, Orion was well aware that his husband would never make him endure the hell that was a male pregnancy again. While Marcus wanted another child, he would never infringe upon Orion's personal comfort and health, physical or mental. There was also the fact that he was much too thoughtful to force the issue with Orion. The Heir Black knew without a shadow of a doubt that if he were to put his foot down, his husband would capitulate and remain blissfully ecstatic with the two children they'd already been blessed with.

However, the excitable idiot he'd agreed to marry (for reasons that often escaped him) was currently all for expanding their small family, and sooner rather than later. Orion himself wasn’t entirely against the idea, especially not after seeing how well things had gone since him giving birth, however he was concerned regarding how he would view any future children. Just because he’d finally gotten to the point where thinking of Sirius and Aludra inside his stomach didn’t make him nauseous, didn’t mean that any other children where such a disturbing pregnancy wasn’t an issue would be treated differently. He didn’t want to use an alternate method to have another child just to subconsciously favour them because they didn’t send him straight to a Mind-Healer.

Orion closed his eyes for a moment before meeting leaf-green eyes head on. “Marcus,” he murmured, getting the other’s attention. “The pregnancy broke me, ruined me and made me subconsciously resent my children for a long while. Even as I loved them, the memories of the pain and self-loathing weren’t exactly easy to push to the side and ignore. Of course, don’t doubt for a second that I’d do anything for them, but it was –” He cut off with a bitter laugh and ran a hand through his curls roughly.

“It shames me to admit it was a long while before I could hold them without flinching upon remembering where they came from.”

Toned arms gently wrapped his waist from behind and held him gently yet firmly. “That never was, and will never be your fault. That sort of magic … it needs to be researched more, studied, thought about in relation to health after the fact. It shouldn’t be paraded around as the be all and end all to solving the issue of children for same-sex couples.

“The fact that you’ve suffered because of it is not on you, you hear me?” The words were whispered softly in Orion’s ear, but there was an undercurrent of determination, a spine of steel wrought into his husband’s voice that caused a lump in his throat. What a stupidly accepting man. Marcus continued gently with his chin on Orion’s head. “Yes, I would quite like another child, but there’s no way I would ever even think about using the same method as before. If there is truly no other way that works for us, I'll spend every day for the rest of my life praising Magic that I’m blessed with such a strong husband and two beautiful children.

“Just because this is something I want, doesn’t mean it’s something I’m seeking to ensure no matter the cost.”

The Heir Black turned in Marcus’ arms and looked up slightly into those arresting eyes that had so intrigued him when they formally met a few years ago. He blinked for a moment and smiled bemusedly to himself at the thought. Four years. It had only been just under four years that they’d almost literally ran into one another in an attempt to avoid the politicking at the Gamps’ Midsummer Soiree, and no matter the issues that had arisen in their relationship – expecting simple bliss in a marriage of two flawed humans was naivety at its most stupid – Orion honestly wouldn’t change any part of it.

He had a husband that accepted his opinions and gave them consideration as his equal partner, he wasn’t passive in any way – which the Black would have cringed at, truth be told; what was exciting about someone who simply rolled over and never challenged you? – and the man had given him a son and a daughter who were everything he’d ever wanted in a family. The family he’d envisioned having with Marcus upon originally daydreaming about the topic was one that closely mirrored his sister’s. (He'd long since considered Lucretia to be extraordinarily lucky in her life, having a husband she truly loved and three children she doted on daily. Was it any surprise he envied her of her life?)

Orion leaned up and brushed his lips over Marcus’, smirking slightly at the way the other man’s eyes darkened with desire almost immediately. Genuine love aside, it was rather gratifying to know he was capable of evoking such obvious lust with such a simple gesture. Not to mention after the disaster of his pregnancy, but clearly the blonde man couldn’t care less right now, not with that reaction, anyway.

He grinned momentarily before leaning his head against the muscled chest in front of him. “I’m not going to lie and say I’m not apprehensive, especially because I’m concerned with how I’ll treat them in comparison to Sirius and Aludra, but …

“Yes, I would like at least one more child.”

Marcus gently pulled his head back and scrutinised Orion’s face, green orbs intently tracing every inch of his face before Marcus broke out in a wide, beaming smile, the expression a tad silly and reminding Orion of his husband after one too many glasses of wine. The taller man surged forward and pressed their lips together hard, holding Orion tightly so he was plastered to the former Greengrass from head to toe.

A few seconds later and Orion found his back against the wall of their front room with no recollection of how he got there, but quite happy to ignore the lack of memory for a chance to sit back and appreciate the view of Marcus letting go. Flushed skin, dilated eyes, tense shoulders corded with hard muscle …

It was no wonder Orion was doomed from the moment they met.

“You know,” Marcus mused with a playful smile, the corners of his lips just twitching slightly with wicked mirth, “Arcturus did say he and Melania would be happy to babysit the twins all day.”

That teasing smirk that promised all sorts of things really not appropriate for public behaviour or conversation was something Orion was happy to lose against, and he didn’t even bother to suppress the triumph in his expression as he pulled the other man to the bedroom by his hand.

There had to be some benefits to marriage, after all.

“That should be everything for today. If anybody has any questions, I’m sure you know by now how to find me or the prefects. As members of the House of cunning and resourcefulness, I certainly have no doubts!”

The generous praise was delivered with a cheerful grin and a small wink to the gathered students, and while Lyra could see a few of her peers subtly roll their eyes or scoff at the genial words, she couldn’t help but be rather impressed by the man’s tactics. The quiet stressing of the defining characteristics of Slytherin, brief mentions of how their decisions now had the ability to reflect back on their reputation later in life, the man in front of Lyra was no doubt a stereotypical Slytherin in regards to their true attributes.

She honestly didn’t think Horace Slughorn had it in him.

Old Sluggy was an irritating man no doubt, and even as Harry she’d been pretty pissed off at how much he’d hemmed and hawed over Voldemort and the information she’d needed to deal with the bastard. She knew most of that irritation was the instinct to always charge ahead and fight that Dumbledore had oh-so-lovingly cultivated in her, and it had taken her a while and a fair few lengthy discussions with Gin before she could accept that there was a part of her that sometimes craved being that self-serving, and there wasn’t anything wrong with wanting to protect yourself.

So yes, she could understand Slughorn’s reticence to draw a Dark Lord’s attention to himself, but what still annoyed her about her rotund Head of House was how he persisted on trying to endear himself to the politically-prevalent students. Which, seeing as Slytherin tended to attract those types like moths to a flame, made the resident Potions master rather ecstatic whenever he saw the newest influx of first years.

I suppose his saving grace is that he’s actually good at his job and still helps everyone equally, regardless of blood status. It was one of the things about the man that turned off the pure-blood supremacists which just made Lyra shake her head. These people have no hope. Merlin forbid they actually accept that being civil to everyone might turn out to help them in the future. Then again, that sounds like way too much common sense for our society.

“Is this really necessary? It's not as if this matters that much in the grand scheme of things.”

The quiet scoff from a few feet away from Lyra caused her to suppress a snort of derision for the stupid girl, not only for her naïve words – spectacularly naïve for someone who often and emphatically laid claim to much more maturity than her peers – but also because she’d spotted someone who was about to inform the whinging brat that she was wrong in the most condescending of ways.

There was a reason that Lyra had automatically been wary of Eleonora Fawley.

“Really, Miss Flint?” drawled the young woman, jade eyes peering down at the flushing girl with such cutting scorn that Lyra almost felt bad for her. (Almost.) “Do you honestly think that you, a mere child of twelve, is more informed about the ways of life than a seasoned Potioneer of several decades? Or any of the seventh years or those of us who have already graduated, who have in fact already gone through this process years ago and have therefore experienced the consequences of these decisions in both our familial and academic lives?

“Do us all a favour and grow up, Flint. You could do a lot to learn about how to use the brain you supposedly possess. If you feel that this is beneath you and your ‘superior’ knowledge, then by all means, do me a favour and close the door behind you. If, however, you would prefer to gain some much-needed advice on how best to comport yourself in this instance, then sit still and be quiet, you ignorant girl.”

Ouch. Lyra subtly pulled up her mental shields before she did something cruel like laugh in her classmate’s face, but as it was, she couldn’t quite contain the faint smirk that emerged in the face of the former Head Girl’s mockery. Emphasising that Flint was in fact a child, not to mention not even bothering to talk to her with a proper form of address, the older Slytherin was certainly pulling no punches in making her disdain obvious for all to see. Eleonora Fawley was the same as always; having graduated the previous year hadn’t contained her sharp tongue, which would probably help her in her current mission of seeking a spouse to continue her family line. Which Lyra honestly wished her luck with, considering the entire family seemed to have been wiped out by the time Harry was born.

The Heiress Fawley had graciously given up her day to come back to Hogwarts with a few of her peers to assist Professor Slughorn in explaining to the Slytherin second years about their third-year electives and how the choices they make at the tender age of twelve or thirteen had the potential to affect them right through their adult lives. Which was true, no matter how much it made Lyra weep when she thought about how utterly pretentious it made their society seem. The number of classes taken, which subjects were studied, the third-year electives chosen in second year shaped how both you as an individual were viewed and also reflected back on your family. Granted, they were rather important; trying to go into warding without any knowledge of Ancient Runes or Arithmancy would earn you your own personal plot in the family cemetery pretty damn quickly. Then again, you could just say it’s natural selection at work. An idiot like that shouldn’t be allowed to infest the gene pool with their blatant stupidity.

The reborn Black looked back up to see Miss Adelheid Flint looking suitably cowed for once in her life, her blue eyes boring into the stone floor with a blank look fixed on her face. Lyra understood that the girl just wanted the chance to live her life how she wished, but arrogantly flaunting about without definitively knowing that you were right was never a good idea, especially in her current position. Adelheid was both the only daughter to the Heir Flint and his youngest child, meaning there was no way in hell she’d be inheriting the House of Flint as an adult. From what Aunt Cassi had told her when she was last at home, the Flints were already looking to betroth the egotistical girl to someone to try and temper her somewhat.

As someone that had shared a room with her for the past two years, Lyra wished her future spouse luck.

The other Slytherins her age were resolutely ignoring the chastised girl and staring straight ahead at the visiting graduates, intently listening to their advice on how best to choose which classes to go ahead and begin in the coming year. I mean, it’s pretty good advice. I wish I had this last time around; I wouldn’t have been stuck taking classes for the sake of following Ron. Not that it wasn’t fucking hilarious in the end, but Jesus was I ignorant.

“Lyra, which classes are you going to take?”

She lifted her eyes from the detailed pamphlets and looked Eleonora in the eye, smirking slightly at her acquaintance-cum-friend. “All of them.”


The choked exclamation from a few feet away made her raise a brow at the boy. Mister Satoshi Nakamura, her half-Japanese classmate, looked to have lost all composure in the wake of her answer, the usually-stoic boy usually keeping to himself and immersing himself in his studies. In that respect, Lyra was greatly reminded of Theodore Nott in the future.

Lyra nodded once. “Indeed. I see no reason not to invest my time wisely and acquire qualifications in all of the subjects Hogwarts has to offer.”

“Really?” Rodolphus Lestrange scoffed with a sneer on his face. “Going to embrace Divination and Muggle Studies are we, Black? I can’t imagine a member of The Noble and Most Ancient House of Black involving themselves with such vile and useless ‘education’.”

The girl just leaned back in her chair and crossed her legs properly, lifting her nose ever so slightly as she stared down the shithead that still had problems with her to this day. “Oh? I do so apologise, Mister Lestrange, I didn’t mean to cause any offence with my personal decision.”

The boy reddened as she subtly reminded him of the proper forms of address between them, making a few of her fellow snakes perk up in amusement, their eyes alight with wicked glee at Rodolphus’ slight humiliation. Her emphasis that her electives had nothing to do with the nosy little shit also seemed to earn him no points with their peers, and Lyra noticed the eldest Lestrange sibling become the focus of more than a few looks of pity at earning her ire. Unfortunately, being an arrogant git wasn’t enough to justify wide-scale humiliation like she did with Bole, but that didn’t mean a bit of verbal sparring – and ensuring she won – wouldn't work just as well.

Interestingly, Lyra noted that Rabastan seemed to be pretty pissed off with his brother instead of her. Despite the fact that she was metaphorically knocking Rodolphus off his high horse for all to see, the younger of the twins appeared to her more sympathetic towards her rather than his own sibling. Rodolphus must be a right pain in the arse if even his brother doesn’t want to come to his rescue.

“I think that it’s an excellent idea, Lyra.”

The girl looked up into the amused green eyes and smirked. “Thank you. Your advice is very much appreciated in this instance, Eleonora.”

Not a single person failed to take note of the two of them calling each other by first name, and Lyra embraced her inner Black and mentally preened at what no doubt be an improved reputation in the days to come. She'd slowly managed to get people not to look at her as the devil incarnate this past year, not an easy feat after the Bole fiasco, but it wasn’t as if she was an easily accepted Slytherin, either.

Yes, she was a Black who embodied the traditional traits of the snakes, but she was still essentially a wild card and dangerous to her peers in a number of ways. Lyra had already proven she would retaliate if pushed, a fact that caused people to gaze at her warily or outright avoid her. What with having Eleonora be something of a mentor and friend to her in her first year, and someone she wrote to regularly now, it was no wonder she’d become vastly more approachable in the previous months.

The older girl slightly tilted her head to the side in curiosity. “Have you considered additional classes beyond the standard five electives?”

Lyra nodded once. “Yes, I have. The OWLs in Duelling and Healing are certainly ones I’m taking, and I’m also considering studying Ritual Magic and Warding.”

It’s certainly different in this time period, she mused. Not that magicals weren’t able to take extra exams at the Ministry in her original time, but they definitely didn’t advertise the fact. God forbid they took a break from lining their own pockets with bribes to help the next generation get a decent bloody education. Crooked bastards. (And no, Lyra was not bitter about this fact, or bitter about how as Harry she could have gotten more help from their government, or how it had taken until Harry had three bloody kids before he realised what a steaming pile of shit their education system was, turning his youngest son into a nervous mess at trying to decide how to take all the classes he wanted.

Nope, Lyra wasn’t bitter at all.)

Thankfully, a loud chime echoed through the hallways to announce the start of lunch, and Lyra sent a mental prayer to Hogwarts for the well-timed interruption. Saved by the bell. Literally. She had no desire to sit there and listen to her classmates bitch about how she was trying to be better than them, or how she was a snotty over-achiever, or how she was setting herself up for failure because she wasn’t a male and would therefore never amount to anything.

She couldn’t wait for Rodolphus Lestrange to do something she could enact vengeance for. Sexist twat. I still can’t believe the family married off Bella to him.

As Lyra lost herself in mourning the ridiculously stupid decisions of the previous House of Black, she vaguely paid attention to Eleonora handing over a letter to her younger brother, Nicholas. The younger Fawley sibling was probably the nicest of the second-year Slytherin boys, or at least the most open about it, anyway, and Lyra respected him for the simple fact that he’d never shied away from her or treated her with contempt, instead sending her small but sincere smiles whenever their eyes met. Granted, her friendship with Eleonora appeared to have influenced his geniality, but she wouldn’t look a gift horse in the mouth. (Especially considering the vast majority of the other Slytherins in her year instilled in her a great urge to maim and hex, but apparently that was impolite or something, so whatever.

Contrary to popular opinion, she did have some morals.)


She refocused to see Eleonora the only one remaining in the room, and the former student gestured towards a small table next to the wall, quietly asking for tea from the house-elves as she did so. The two of them sat down and set to making their own tea, Lyra carefully spooning in what was probably way too much sugar and an offence to the drink itself, but after years of growing up being denied any sort of treat at the Dursleys, Harry had developed such a bad sweet tooth as an adult that Gin had taken to warding their cupboards at home. Evil witch. And a hypocritical one. After eating the entire bloody bottom tier of our wedding cake to herself, she really had no room talk.

Eleonora raised an amused brow at her cup of half-sugar, half-tea – sue me – and smirked. “Enjoying your sugar?”

“Yes, yes I am.”

“You’re incorrigible,” the young woman muttered. Jade eyes met silver and Eleonora’s mirth shifted to sobriety. “Have you considered the offer I spoke to you about last time we corresponded?”

Well, fuck.

Now, Lyra genuinely liked Eleonora Fawley. The older girl was brilliant, ruthless, startlingly aware of the undercurrents taking place in whatever situation she was in and how to take advantage of them, and above all, was actually a kind person underneath the pure-blood persona she wielded. One only had to look at how she quietly doted on her brother and cousins, or casually asked about them when writing to Lyra. She was even caring towards her parents, having been one of luckier members of their society who actually had a set of parents that were openly loving towards their children.

On the other hand, Eleonora was going to be Lady Fawley in the future and would be in a position where she had to make decisions on how to best further her House’s position and broker deals for alliances and whatnot.

Which she’d already started by offering a betrothal between Lyra and Nicholas.

How to handle this … This was a delicate situation to say the least. She couldn’t just scream, ‘Fuck no!’ with her fingers crossed as if warding off the supernatural and run the other way, no matter how much her instincts were screaming at her. The idea of planning her future marriage at the age of twelve well and truly squicked her out, and that was an understatement. (And she’d forever thank her children for introducing her to internet slang, she’d loved embarrassing them with it.)

“Eleonora,” she began slowly, “not that I don’t appreciate the opportunity to ally myself with a House such as yours, not to mention gaining a spouse I would genuinely get along with, but I would prefer to be older when I start considering things like marriage and the like. I understand the reasoning behind such actions, but I personally would prefer not to tie myself to another in such a manner.”

The woman slumped dejectedly as much as her poise would allow. “I thought that you’d say that.”

“I’m curious; why did you ask me when you more than likely knew what my response would be?” Lyra asked, brows furrowed puzzledly. “You’ve already heard my opinion on the subject, so why bother asking?”

“Because of Nicholas,” Eleonora answered with a sigh. “I understand that you’re both only second years, but the two of you are infinitely more mature than your peers. He's already stated that he has no desire to exert effort on a romantic relationship of a casual nature, that he’d rather learn about the family businesses from our father. He said with no hint of ambivalence whatsoever that he’d prefer an arranged marriage, and seeing as I actually like you and the two of you are acquainted …”

Eleonora trailed off, vaguely waving her hand and looking the least put-together that Lyra had ever seen the composed Heiress. It was a strange sight, and a little disheartening, if she were honest. Maybe …

Lyra grinned impishly, eyes glinting as she earned a curious look from her companion. “So, what you’re saying is, you didn’t want an in-law you didn’t like to get close to your precious baby brother?”

The brown-haired girl blinked before chuckling to herself, her face lighting up with her laughter, and Lyra was glad she’d managed to dispel the gloom at least a little.

“I suppose you’re not entirely wrong.” Eleonora sighed and smiled wryly. “If only arranging a marriage weren’t such an involved process.”

Lyra thought about her father being a teenage whore and accidentally knocking up her birth mother, or when Ron got pissed out of his mind and managed to find Hermione’s muggle house before loudly proposing to her from the lawn outside, or even Harry’s own spontaneous and completely unromantic proposal …

Yeah, I’m not going to say anything. She'd probably kill me out of spite.

She gently cleared her throat. “Is there any particular family or faction that your parents want an alliance with through marriage?”

“The Blacks,” Eleonora replied flatly.

“Ah.” Lyra considered this, tapping her finger against her mug as she thought about the situation. As much as she personally despised betrothals and arranged marriages, she was well aware that some people were more than happy to partake in them. She wouldn’t begrudge anyone this decision as long as it was theirs in its entirety. There was also the fact that many betrothals were created with clauses that allowed either party to end the agreement upon their majority if they didn’t want to go through with it, so that was a point in the practice’s favour, she supposed.

A fair few of her older cousins had been betrothed when they were younger, but Granddad Arcturus was rather vehement in his disapproval of involving a younger child in such an agreement without a multitude of escape clauses to help them if they wanted out. He was also very outspoken about not using a binding contract before either party were fourteen at the youngest. By that age someone should at least have an idea of what a betrothal would entail and how they could go about it.

Lyra knew that Aunt Lucretia entered an agreement with Uncle Ignatius when they were both twelve, though thankfully they were already incredibly good friends and grew to love each immensely as they aged. Uncle Orion’s initial betrothal in his younger years had been a disaster according to Alphard, her godfather being promised an older witch from the House of Flint who’d been caught in bed with her own uncle. (Excuse me while I go and vomit.) Luckily, that allowed him to break the agreement without any retribution from the previous Sirius Black, though of course that hadn’t stopped the bastard from trying to force betrothals left, right and centre with any of the other Blacks.

Her aunts Callidora, Cedrella and Charis were prime examples of this outdated idiocy. They'd been targets for the simple fact that they were all ‘useless’ daughters – sexist wanker– and not from the main branch of the family. The three sisters were essentially all different routes of arranged marriages that came of betrothals, each taking a different path in their younger years. Callidora married Harfang Longbottom and eventually fell in love with him, Charis married Caspar Crouch and grew to view him as a beloved friend and nothing else, and Cedrella took one look at her contract before promptly sending a hilariously vulgar Howler to Lord Sirius Black telling him that she’d marry his choice of husband when he agreed to be publicly sodomised by a fully-grown Mountain Troll.

As disturbing as the image was, this event made Cedrella a legend in Lyra’s eyes.

“Just to be clear,” Lyra began slowly, “if the House of Fawley were to negotiate a betrothal between one of your members and a magical of another House, would they utilise a binding contract or one that can be broken upon their majority?”

“One that can be broken,” replied Eleonora resolutely. “My parents find it appalling to marry off their children to somebody in a manner that can’t be reversed. Of course, they still find positives in the practice of betrothals – political security, alliances, et cetera – but they refuse to go through with anything so binding knowing how it has the potential to spectacularly backfire later down the line.”

Lyra nodded along with her, agreeing very much with the perspective. It was essentially the most Slytherin response to such a scenario; make yourself look good to begin with, while also making sure you had your own personal key to an escape hatch if things went south later on.

Lord and Lady Fawley sounded pretty cool, all things considered.

“While I do personally find the practice … unattractive, I won’t deny its benefits.” She paused before asking, “Do your parents want an alliance with somebody specifically bearing the Black name, or will someone of Black blood and heritage suffice?”

Eleonora eyes her speculatively. “Preferably of name, but blood is more than adequate for them.” She looked Lyra in the eyes and grinned wickedly, making Lyra instantly wary. “Truth be told, they’ve been looking into this specific alliance for years, originally with me, but the only available man meeting my requirements not of the main branch was your father.”

Lyra blanched and looked at her companion aghast. “My father? You considered marrying my father?!”

“Well, your grandfather was unfortunately outside the age range I was looking for.”

Granddad Pollux?! With Eleonora? What the hell? That’s just … No, just not even in the vicinity of right.

“Please tell me you’re joking,” she begged weakly.

The elder girl smirked back. “I’m afraid not. You do realise the two men are both still within marrying age, don’t you?”

Lyra briefly remembered the poorly-hidden hickey on her dad’s neck the last time she saw him and nearly snorted. Yeah, I know.

“It’s not the idea of them getting married again that’s the problem, it’s them possibly ending up with someone young enough that I went to school with.” She grimaced. “Honestly, just imagine one of your parents possibly ending up with a fellow student. Or your grandparent.”

Eleonora blinked before a slightly disturbed look took over her face. “Oh, I see what you mean. That's … not particularly something I want to contemplate.”

Tell me about it; it’s bad enough that Aunt Dorea keeps sending me letters telling me exactly which members of our society my dad’s shagging every other week. I sincerely hope he’s managed to learn some contraceptive spells since my spontaneous appearance in this world.

“You see? It's weird.” Lyra imagined the scenario and suppressed a full-body shudder, forcefully pushing the images out of her mind with her improved Occlumency. No bloody way am I thinking about this, I've got enough to deal with as it is. “But aside from that disturbing scenario,” which didn’t begin to describe the depths of how fucked up it was, “what I was trying to get at was suggesting one of my cousins for a betrothal to Nicholas. The majority of my cousins are younger than me, and I have a feeling you’d prefer someone close to you in age and someone you can have children with sooner rather than later,” Lyra explained.

Eleonora raised a brow speculatively. “That sounds suspiciously simple. Offering up a neat and simple solution without any obvious drawbacks.” Jade eyes narrowed, a dangerous glint appearing that was aimed at Lyra. “And what do you get out of this arrangement?”

(While that expression might have been a truly terrifying expression to any other twelve-year-old child, Lyra once bore the name of Harry Potter and had the (mis)fortune of being married to one Ginevra Potter nee Weasley. Gin in the midst of pregnancy had scared Harry shitless waaay more than Voldemort prowling through his fifteen-year-old mind. The woman gave a new meaning to ‘hot-tempered’. Seriously, with the number of times Kreacher had had to help Harry clean the walls of scorch marks, it was a miracle the Potter family home had remained standing. Crazy woman.)

She leaned back in her chair and smirked lazily. “Entertainment. You get the ‘lovely’ honour of attempting to negotiate with one of my aunts and uncles to allow a betrothal between your brother and one of their precious children.”

Her companion just blinked at her for a few seconds before huffing a laugh, smiling wryly as her shoulders relaxed. It was a far sight better than the previous tense atmosphere.

“I really need to start remembering your sadistic personality.”

“I’m not sadistic, I just enjoy a spot of Schadenfreude every now and then,” Lyra replied airily with a bright smile.

Eleonora shook her head. “Like I said before, incorrigible.” The young woman took a sip of tea before sitting up straight. “In any case, I appreciate the suggestion of one of your cousins. Despite your awful personality,” she added pointedly, smirking at Lyra’s unrepentant grin, “your words hold a great deal of truth. I’ll return home after this and get to researching your cousins and their parents. I want a match for Nicholas that he’ll be able to create a strong relationship with if they were to agree to progress to a marriage upon their majority.”

Lyra looked at Eleonora Fawley and thanked Magic the woman didn’t consider her an enemy. She was dangerously smart and a natural leader – as evidenced by her parents allowing her the power to arrange her own marriage and her brother’s betrothal – and she could probably cut down anyone in her way as efficiently as any Black. (Though probably with less blood and violence.)

She gently cleared her throat. “I don’t want to pry or anything –” which was a complete lie; being George’s brother-in-law had bred a pretty deep habit of being nosy for the sake of being nosy “– but have you thought about your own situation?”

“I haven’t stopped,” she muttered darkly. “I am to be Lady Fawley, and I need a strong spouse to stand by my side as my Consort. I want someone I might build a true marriage with, but also someone that accepts my place as Head of my own family and doesn’t try and contest that.

“I need a kind man that will support me.”

Lyra sympathised with her. It was bloody hard being the Head of a family, and knowing you had a duty to carry the family into the future was a daunting prospect. Knowing you more than likely had to marry and have children to do so was just as bad. She’d been one of the lucky few to get married for love.

She wanted to help her friend, but she also wouldn’t deny that she was selfish. Lyra was a Black; the House of Black was hers, and her family was hers to protect, no matter if they were strong in and of themselves. She wanted the Blacks to flourish in a way they hadn’t before, to see her cousins grow up and find their place in the world. Lyra wanted her father and grandparents and everyone else she grew up with to find happiness, and part of that meant ensuring they didn’t end up with people they wouldn’t mesh well with.

Eleonora was proud of her family and wanted it to continue, but the problem was so did the majority of her cousins, and she honestly couldn’t see any of the males in her family consenting to take the Fawley name and sire Fawley children when they were so proud of their own names. The Weasley siblings seemed to be delighted over the prospect of spawning even more Weasleys to join the ever-growing ginger army, Barty was a dickhead through and through, and Gideon and Fabian were responsible for continuing the diminished Prewett family –

Huh. There is that …

See, when Lyra was younger and started learning about her new family, she’d discovered a rather interesting network across her family tree. Mainly that, because the Blacks had married so many other families, all her cousins had a wealth of relatives of their own, which the Blacks were essentially connected to through marriage. For instance, while nobody of the House of Black had married a Goyle in well over three centuries, both families were linked through marriages with the Crabbes.

Then there was the fact that the families joined to the Blacks had other members of their own Houses that weren’t Heirs or Heiresses, weren’t being raised to continue their family lines, and those were the ones that Lyra thought were best to consider for Eleonora.

There are fuck knows how many Weasley cousins, but they’ve already got too light a reputation for the Fawleys, Eleonora wouldn’t touch a Crabbe or Bulstrode with a fifty-foot pole, so I guess out of everyone …

“Bilius Prewett.”

Eleonora paused with her mug in the air and blinked at Lyra, visibly thrown at the suggestion. “Prewett?”

Lyra nodded and sat back. “Gideon is Heir to House Prewett, and even if he weren’t, there’s still Fabian who can carry on the family name. Bilius is their first cousin, however he isn’t in line to inherit anything from either side of his family at the current time. He's certainly more open than the males we see in Slytherin, however he did graduate with six NEWTs and immediately gain employment in the Administrative Registration Department. While he might be rather inexperienced at the current time, Gideon told me he’s also studying to become a lawyer.

“The Prewetts are a member of the Sacred Twenty-Eight,” she continued calmly, “and they’re decidedly more of a grey family than light, despite their overt Gryffindor affiliations. In terms of his personality, he’s quite calm and logical, and he doesn’t appear to be dismissive of females in positions of authority. I believe he’d be rather accepting of taking on your name and siring children for the House of Fawley.”

The older girl was silent after that, the only sound in the room the unconscious tapping of Eleonora’s nails against the table as she mentally sounded out Lyra’s suggestion. And not that she was being arrogant or anything, but Lyra truly believed the two would mesh together well as a married couple. They might not be romantically-inclined at the start – or even at all – but the two individuals were similar enough that they wouldn’t clash horribly on the vital parts of running a House.

(Lyra privately felt awful for the Bilius Prewett of Harry’s time. The younger Weasleys might have taken the piss out of the man for always having a drink in hand and his performance of rather inappropriate physical jokes in public places, but a tired conversation with Arthur after the war proved the man was anything but a laughing matter. The man had become an alcoholic joker, laughing and drinking away the pain of losing nearly everyone in his family in the space of five short years. His father Romaeus, his mother Regina, Ignatius, Lucretia, Gideon and Fabian … all of them were murdered because of the First War and Bilius never recovered. Thankfully though, the current Bilius Prewett was nothing like the war-torn future version that died prematurely in dubious circumstances.)

“I remember Prewett,” Eleonora mused quietly. “He seems like he’d have a good temperament when it comes to raising children, and I can’t imagine him being derogatory towards me in my role of Lady Fawley …

“I believe this is an avenue I shall pursue.”

Lyra beamed. “See! And you said arranging a marriage was difficult; you need to relax more.”

“I haven’t even communicated with the man yet,” came the dry answer.

“Please,” she said, waving off the young woman, “things’ll be fine. Bilius isn’t even in a relationship right now, so really and truly your only obstacle is pointing out the benefits to him, and you’ll be set.”

“You sound as if you know him personally.”

“I wouldn’t say ‘personally’, but I have met with him on several occasions,” Lyra revealed. “He doesn’t live in Prewett House, but sometimes he’ll stay there during the summer break to catch up with the twins and Aunt Lucretia and Uncle Ignatius.

“He’s never looked down on me for being a female, or not being in the line of succession, and he openly admires Aunt Lycoris and Aunt Cassiopeia despite them going against tradition and not marrying or having children. Given that, I think it’s safe to say he really doesn’t have a problem with women at all,” she said dryly.

Eleonora’s lips twitched and her shoulders relaxed minutely, almost as if an invisible weight had been lifted. It was gratifying to know that Lyra had the ability to help someone she genuinely cared about, and she privately hoped that Eleonora and Bilius both gained the happiness they’d been denied in her other life, whether that be together or individually.

“At the very least, I think I can agree that Prewett’s personality appears to be in line with what I want from a husband. Of course, it goes without saying, but I’ll need a face-to-face meeting to truly make my own judgement on the matter, though for the time being I'm going to tentatively accept your word.”

Which was the best course of action; friend or not, only an idiot took someone else’s opinion as gospel without verifying it first.

Eleonora looked at her before smirking evilly, though Lyra got the impression that it wasn’t anything bad for her (this time).

“So, did you hear about what happened with Lady Yaxley during the Beltane celebrations?”

Lyra’s eyes lit up with wicked glee and she leaned forward. “Tell me everything.”

As she sat and listened to her older friend’s tales of the scandals surrounding the upper crust of their society, she couldn’t help but feel glad that Eleonora was back to her usual confident and sly persona.

And that she herself hadn’t earnt her ire.

Poor, poor Lady Yaxley. She really shouldn’t have tried to seduce Eleonora’s father.

She looked at jade eyes radiating a promise of pain and internally winced.

She really shouldn’t have.

“I do wonder what it says about our lives that this isn’t the strangest thing I’ve ever heard of.”

The man snorted softly at her sardonic words, and she smirked at her success of eliciting such a lax response in her usually-composed baby brother. For someone that had done everything he could to be a dutiful Black from infancy, seeing him so relaxed and comfortable was somewhat jarring to witness.

Then again, Orion wasn’t a baby anymore, and Lucretia wasn’t the same obedient Black daughter, either.

The two of them had come a long way from being mere pawns for their grandfather; she, the submissive – and ‘useless’ – female who was engaged in a binding contract at the age of twelve, and he, the compliant male who was groomed to never question his place and had to learn how to be a ‘proper’ Lord Black without a single original thought in his head.

It was no wonder Lord Sirius Black’s funeral had been a rather fun occasion for the two siblings.

The entire family had grown immensely since her father took over, and she couldn’t help but relish in the thought of what the previous Lord Blacks would say if they could see how wild and untamed the family was now in comparison to before. One only had to take a look at Orion to see the difference.

Once a young man on the verge of drowning under unrealistic expectations, a mere teenager who came perilously close to being trapped in a loveless – and rather disturbing – marriage to an insane hag, had now matured into a quietly confident man who took pride in his place in the family and was openly appreciative of his husband and two young children. Orion was probably the best example of good balance in terms of his position; he was both comfortable as the Heir to the House of Black, while also personally loving towards his family and loved ones. Neither part of his life was neglected, nor was either side prioritised, and Lucretia could honestly say that she had never been prouder of her brother.

She could admit that the two of them hadn’t been all that close for many years, the age gap between the two of them presenting a difficult barrier that they didn’t overcome for many years. For Lucretia, she honestly hadn’t cared too much at having a younger brother at the time of his birth. Despite Orion being the child that her parents chose to have without Phineas Nigellus Black breathing down their necks, Lucretia had been bitter about being sold off like a broodmare all because her grandfather was a sexist bastard.

She'd known she wouldn’t be inheriting the family because the line of succession was strictly patriarchal unless there were no other options, but what she hadn’t appreciated was her being betrothed at twelve just so that she didn’t become an obstacle for the next Lord. Lucretia had never wanted to be Lady Black, but being sold for Galleons just so she wasn’t ‘trouble’ was infuriating. And humiliating.

Even though she’d been betrothed for two years by the time Orion was born, her rage hadn’t calmed one whit. It simply festered, twisting into hatred for her grandfather and the entire practice of binding betrothal contracts. The only consolation found was that her betrothed was Ignatius. The Gryffindor boy had been the initial act of rebellion once she started Hogwarts; after listening to her awful grandfather rant and rave about how the lions were useless and idiotic, the idea of befriending one just to spite the prejudiced man had filled her with a perverse sort of glee.

So she had, and it was only that Ignatius was her best friend by the time the betrothal was enacted that they both managed to weather the entire mess without taking it out on the other. A fact she was immensely grateful for when they finally got married at eighteen. Lucretia had not been in love with Ignatius at that time, and their attempts to continue the Prewett line would have counted as half-hearted at best. Really and truly, all of Lucretia’s time had been spent getting to know her tiny baby brother and studying to be a tutor for all of her younger cousins just for the sake of pissing off her grandfather.

Funnily enough, he couldn’t really control her seeing as her name was Lucretia Prewett.

Eventually falling in love with her husband and giving him children hadn’t erased the rage at being tossed to another family as a child, and she could say with certainty that she’d despised going to Black Manor when her grandfather was alive. Being constantly on edge that your actions would be judged in the harshest manner possible and result in pain for your new family was terrifying.

Needless to say, her appearances at the Black ancestral home when Sirius was around were scarce.

Her duties as Lady Prewett and raising her children hadn’t allowed her to truly become close to Orion for years, by which time Sirius had learned how to best verbally beat down his grandson, not to mention Walburga’s unfortunate success at giving him nightmares. Bloody bitch.

But now, watching her brother lounging in his chair with a straight back, head held high and casually sipping wine with a carefree smirk on his face, Lucretia was so tempted to raise their grandfather’s spirit just to introduce him to the future Lord Black who was the furthest thing from what Sirius had ever wanted from their family.

(And if that was petty and spiteful to some, then Lucretia would like to remind everyone that she grew up and attended school with Callidora and Cassiopeia. She did not take insults lying down, thank you very much.)

“So,” she began, “you and Marcus are truly having another child?”

Orion nodded. “Yes. You know that Father recently discovered a … concerning trend between male pregnancies and mental health issues, and also somehow came up with the idea of adoption after a pregnancy to allow the child to be someone else’s. Not to mention that using a carefully-written contract – worded while referencing our marriage contract – that someone else carrying the child before they’re adopted doesn’t equate to infidelity, therefore there’s no consequence for our marriage.”

Lucretia hummed to herself, silently admitting it was an ingenious method for having children that entirely negated the mental trauma that Orion went through with the twins. (And Lucretia was still disgusted with herself that she’d mistaken his withdrawal for mere embarrassment and hormones. She was never going to accept changes in her family at face value ever again.)

She looked up and met Orion’s eyes head on. “Now, let me see if I've got this correct: because you want another child – another Black child – but aren’t carrying the child yourself, you’ve employed Claudia Greengrass to carry your child. Once she gives birth, Marcus will use a blood-adoption potion to replace Claudia’s blood entirely, thereby ensuring the child is yours and your husband’s.

“Did I get everything?”

“I think you did,” her brother murmured wryly, lips twitching in a sardonic grin at the thought of the mad plan he was currently enacting. Though, truth be told, she was torn between deeming the entire thing insane or genius. (Considering their family, it was likely a bit of both.)

“Though if you must know, Claudia’s already taken the potion and is currently pregnant. We're just waiting for things to progress further before we tell more people.” Orion tilted his head slightly and frowned bemusedly. “If I'm being honest, it was bizarre how willing she was to carry and deliver what would eventually be her own niece or nephew.”

Lucretia snorted into her drink. That does sound bloody odd. She cleared her throat and grinned at her companion. “I can only speculate, but I imagine she was so enthusiastic because she wants her family to be happy. Not to mention she gets to avoid socialising for a whole year if she wants. She did throw a glass of whiskey in that gentleman’s face last month for everyone to see.”

(Lord Warrington might have deserved it, but Claudia was probably grateful for the chance to avoid that particular fallout.)

Orion chuckled under his breath, no doubt remembering that rather memorable night where his sister-in-law proved she was no submissive woman in a very memorable manner. Her decisive actions made Lucretia rather annoyed that she’d missed the spectacle. Then again, that’s what Pensieves were for. Well, them and vindictive relatives who’d just so happened to be at that specific event.

“I know the pregnancy’s only in its initial stages, but have you spared a thought for possible names yet?”

He rolled his eyes and sighed in an exaggerated manner. “Well, …”

Lucretia merely smirked and sat back, listening to her brother bemoan the endless possibilities when it came to naming a scion of The Noble and Most Ancient House of Black. She grinned and nodded along, laughing out loud with Orion as they suggested some of the more ridiculous names that could be used. It was nice, especially with how alive Orion seemed to be at the ludicrous ideas she came up with.

The two of them had come a long way.

“Lyra! I feel so unloved!”

Lyra just rolled her eyes at the childish whinging behind her and resisted the urge to blast the annoyance away. Just a small explosion, or perhaps a simple Body-Bind? Surely that wouldn’t be so bad? She huffed as she realised her rage-fuelled plans probably wouldn’t come to fruition despite her overwhelming irritation.

Unfortunately, she happened to love that ball of annoyance that was shaped like her father.

Alphard was a good man, all things considered – for a Black, at least – but dear Merlin, did he have the ability to get on her last nerve! The man was ridiculously overprotective, and apparently the fact that she was quite happy to walk by herself in front of him meant that she was ‘growing up too fast’ or some such tripe.

(And yes, she knew full well what this was like from the perspective of a parent, but Harry had never been the whinging type of parent. That honour went to Gin, and the half-demented woman had delighted in tormenting their sons by acting abandoned in public. If he hadn’t been so entertained, Harry would have been mortified. Also, their daughter ended up as a total Daddy’s girl. All in all, Harry won by a landslide there.)

Lyra rolled her eyes again for the nth time in ten minutes and spun around to her father, catching his arm before standing on her tiptoes and pecking his cheek quickly. As she pulled back, she spotted silver eyes softening as he gazed down at her, his arm tightening around hers. She smiled gently in response, once more feeling immensely grateful that her spontaneous rebirth had granted her at least one parent that treasured her beyond reason. It might be selfish, but she relished in the unconditional affection.

But that didn’t mean that Alphard Black could carry on acting like a brat.

“Dad. Did you ever stop to wonder why exactly I was trying to go ahead by myself?”

Her father blinked bewilderedly before answering, “Err … no. Was there a reason?”

Must. Not. Roll. Eyes. Again. Seriously, I'm going to end up with glasses again at this rate, just from the muscle strain.

Yes, there’s a reason. In case you’ve forgotten, it’s your birthday soon. I was trying to go and find you a present discretely, hence why I originally tried to ask Uncle Orion before you started pouting.

“I was going to surprise you.”

The man looked down at her with wide eyes, but what Lyra thought made him rather adorable was the light red flush dusted over his cheeks as he stared down at her with shock. No wonder the moron managed to find so many bed partners.

“You …” He stopped and ran a hand through his hair sheepishly, causing his curls to fall haphazardly around his handsome face. Alphard lifted a hand and cupped her cheek before doing the same with his other hand, bending down to press a gentle kiss to her forehead. It was such a simple action that she’d experienced many times before, but Lyra didn’t think she’d ever get used to the feeling of warmth suffusing her body, or the sensation of simply being light in every inch of her soul. The love of a parent was a wondrous thing to behold, and being able to be on the receiving end of such genuine emotions would never feel old to her.

“Thank you,” came the whisper from above her head. “I still don’t know what I did to deserve such a wonderful and precious person to call my daughter, but I do know I'll never not cherish you in every way I can. I sometimes wonder if you aren’t too good for a man like me, but I also know I'm far too selfish to let someone else raise and care for you.” Silver eyes swam with warmth not often seen in their family in public.

“You’re my daughter, Lyra, and I love you from the depths of my being.”

Lyra closed her eyes to block the tears from forming and buried her face in her father’s chest, burrowing deeper at the feeling of two strong arms wrapping around her and holding her close. Alphard was holding Lyra like he didn’t want to let her go, while also treating her as if she was too delicate to squeeze any tighter for fear of hurting her.

Alphard Black’s love for her would never get old.

He pulled back and grinned at her, the childish expression not doing much to disguise the warm tone to his eyes. “Well, why don’t the two of us go and wander round the alley, and whenever we go in one of the shops, I'll do you a favour and leave you be. I don’t doubt you’ll want to get something else, anyway. I do believe your vault should have enough left.”

(The truly sad part was that he wasn’t even being sarcastic about the last part, despite the fact that her Trust Vault probably had close to twenty-thousand Galleons inside, not counting the piles of Sickles or Knuts. The House of Black took the idea of being filthy rich to new heights. And regularly gave her high blood pressure at the idea of their net worth in a time when they weren’t all dead. Thank fuck I didn’t have to manage all that last time around.)

The two of them linked arms and ambled down the cobbled roads, smiling and chatting about Orion’s new ‘situation’ (and making sure not to let anything slip to those around). Lyra personally wondered if this new child would eventually be Regulus seeing as the dates matched up, or if things would take a strange turn and result in something entirely different. Like a female Regulus. Stranger things had happened, after all.

Lyra was looking sideways at her father when she felt a body collide with her at the turning into Nocturn Alley. She immediately stepped back and prepared herself to play the part of a perfect pure-blood princess and apologise courteously, even if she was pretty damn sure the moron was at fault here and not her. But propriety dictated things here, and Lyra was more concerned about finding an appropriate gift for her father. She inwardly sighed and looked up, only to feel the blood drain out her face as ice formed in the pit of her stomach.

It was Tom Riddle.

The man was paler than his childhood self, but his eyes weren’t yet the bright scarlet of the monster that still plagued her nightmares. He was well-dressed as befitted his delusions of self-grandeur, and she could tell that every other person around them thought nothing untoward of the handsome wizard apparently taking a stroll through the historical shopping alleys of magical Britain. Everyone except her, that is.

Oh God, not now. Please, not now.

Voldemort – and it was Voldemort, in the flesh! This was madness – looked at her father with recognition in his calculating eyes and nodded slightly, with barely any respect. “Black.”


Lyra nearly blinked and had to hold herself still at the cold tone from Alphard. No, it was more than that. It was like ice, frozen and unwelcoming to the extreme, and she’d never heard her father speak to anyone like that. He might act this way remembering those like Bole, or when talking about Grindelwald, but Lyra couldn’t recall a single time when the man that had raised her was so derisive to a person to their face.

She chanced a brief glance to the side – anything to avoid looking at him – and unconsciously tightened her hold on Alphard's arm at the look on his face. It was the Black mask her family always used in public, though even more reserved than usual. A face like carved stone staring blankly as one might look upon an insect.

For whatever reason, Alphard Black did not like Tom Riddle.

“I was under the impression that you'd gone abroad.”

Riddle stared at her father impassively, not even blinking like a normal human being. “I do prefer to travel these days, though I had business in the alley.” Dark brown eyes flickered over to her and Lyra felt her heart race, the sound of blood rushing in her ears. “Now, who do we have here?”

He was interested in her. Tom Riddle or Voldemort, she didn't think he'd ever be intrigued by someone in a sexual manner, but witnessing that curious gleam in his eyes, edged by the beginnings of what she knew was insanity, she felt terrified. She was terrified of what this meant for her life, for her family and how things would progress from here on out. Lyra wasn't scared about killing this monstrous being posing as a human, she felt fear at the thought of her family being dragged into this mess, the people that had raised her ending up as nothing but prey for a twisted predator.

For the first time since researching this new life, Lyra knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that this Tom Riddle was the same as last time, and she'd be damned if she let her family fall apart at the seams again.

Alphard subtly glared. “This is my daughter, Lyra. Terribly sorry, but I'm afraid we have a prior engagement to get to. Goodbye, Riddle.”

Brown eyes never left hers. “Until later, Black.”

Lyra didn't shiver, she didn't cower behind her father, and she didn't whimper in fear while stood before this creature. But she wanted to, because while she might have killed this bastard as Harry a long time ago, it would be a monumental lie to say that she hadn't been scared as it happened. Harry had been just seventeen, of course there was fear there, but this was infinitely worse because Lyra had so many more people surrounding her that could end up as collateral damage if things went south.

She didn't want her family to get hurt.

She was only vaguely aware of her father gently pulling her up the street towards the Apparition point, and even the nausea-inducing twist through space wasn't enough to jolt her back to reality. It wasn't until a mug of tea had been pushed under her nose that Lyra blinked slowly, lifting her head to find herself sat at their kitchen table, the quiet of the house reminding her that Bella, Andi and Cissa were staying with Uncle Marius.

Lyra glanced down and belatedly noticed her fingers twitching erratically, almost as if they were desperately reaching for her wand, for any weapon they could use. No wonder Alphard was studying her like that.

“You recognised him. More than if you'd seen a picture from when he and I were at school together.

“What's going on, Lyra?”

She closed her eyes and took a deep breath, forcefully relaxing her shoulders and flattening her palms against the table to calm her hands. Lyra slowly opened her eyes and met those of Alphard Black, her father, the one person that had raised and cherished her without any ulterior motives for the past thirteen years.

If there was one thing she owed him, it was the truth.

Lyra Black smiled sadly, praying she wouldn't lose the only true parent she'd ever had.

“There's something I need to tell you.”

A/N: This is a quick list of the Slytherins in Lyra's year. I'm not entirely sure how important all of them will become to the story, but once I had the list for myself I figured I'd let you guys know in case you see a name you don't recognise in the future.

Lyra’s class:

  • Lyra Black: curly, black hair; sharp, silver eyes; pale; half-French, half-English

  • Willow Parkinson: straight, brown hair; oval, chocolate eyes; peach-toned; English

  • Adelheid Flint: straight, black hair; narrow, blue eyes; tanned; half-German, half-Scottish

  • Bridget Parsons: curly, red hair; wide, grey eyes; pale with freckles; half-Irish, half mixed English/French heritage

  • Patricia Malkin: frizzy, brown hair; round, coal eyes; olive-toned; mixed English/Cypriot heritage

  • Renata Lestrange: curly, brown hair; narrow, grey eyes; pale; mixed English/French heritage

  • Augustus Rookwood: short, dark blonde hair; slanted, pale green eyes; pale; English

  • Rodolphus Lestrange: long, wavy black hair; narrow, grey eyes; pale; mixed English/French heritage

  • Rabastan Lestrange: long, wavy black hair; narrow, grey eyes; pale; mixed English/French heritage

  • Demetrius Burke: short, blue/black hair; almond, sky-blue eyes; very pale; English

  • Nicholas Fawley: curly, short brown hair; round, jade-green eyes; tanned; mixed English/Irish heritage

  • Satoshi Nakamura: short, straight black hair; small, black eyes; slight tan; half-Japanese, half white English

  • Adam Levre: frizzy, black hair; sharp brown eyes; dark skin; French

Chapter Text

Lyra rolled over on her bed and stared up the intricate paintings on the ceiling of the four-poster, focusing on the larger constellation of Lyra in the centre. Vega was twinkling brightly, her father having infused the paint with magic that he ran over some carved runes to make the design stand out even more. It was beautiful.

She closed her eyes and took a deep breath, holding it for a few seconds before slowly exhaling. Her headache hadn't abated at all, and she still had a veritable mountain of homework to do before she started third year. Taking every class possible – and adding to them further – was going to be like the Twelve Labours of Hercules, but she was never going to be someone to back out of a difficult situation.

Perhaps there were some benefits to Harry's shitty childhood.

The girl rolled back onto her side and pulled the giant stuffed bear towards her, hugging it close to her body and burying her face in the soft fur. Alphard had brought it for Lyra's fifth birthday, getting the idea from Uncle Marius during one of their regular outings. (One of the first after Lord Sirius had bitten the dust and everyone had celebrated like mad.)

The bear was charmed to smell like vanilla, a subtle scent that never failed to calm her thoughts whenever she smelt it now. Her father tended to use aftershave with a hint of the familiar aroma as well, and Lyra breathed in the smell deeply as she remembered all the times the loving man had held her in his strong arms over the years.

As much as Lyra loved the House of Black as a whole, Alphard was truly the one she adored more than anyone else. He was her father, the one person in their shitstorm of a family who'd never demanded anything of her, and the one who'd done absolutely everything in his power to give her as normal a life as possible. Alphard had done so much for her, even if he hadn't had to. He hadn't had to argue with the previous Sirius Black for them to live elsewhere, he hadn't had to look after her himself instead of pawning her off on elves, and he sure as hell hadn't had to even claim her as his. If her father had wanted, he could have asked the Blacks to 'deal with' the situation, and Lyra wouldn't have even existed.

Alphard Black hadn't been obliged to do jack shit when it came to Lyra, but he had.

Lyra clenched her eyes shut even more and squeezed the toy hard, refusing to react outwardly in an explosive manner. This entire situation was a joke, and Tom Riddle should fucking burn in the depths of hell for daring to mess with the laws of magic like that. It was disgusting. Life and death were practically sacred, pillars of Magic itself, and having the arrogance to mess with them – believing that you'd been blessed with the power to mess with them – was conceited beyond anything she'd ever encountered. (And Lyra had once born witness to Draco Malfoy's personal skincare routine; she knew what conceited looked like.)

That psychotic, narcissistic, mess of a human being had ruined everything. He'd appeared out of nowhere and completely upturned Lyra's organised life, causing her to have to accelerate all of her carefully-laid plans for the sake of the family that she loved. Lyra had of course been planning to deal with Tom – she wasn't an ostrich with their head buried in the sand, thank you very much – but things were supposed to have happened later in life, not when she hadn't even turned thirteen yet.

She supposed some of it might be her own fault; Lyra had never been able to keep her cool when it came to Voldemort, usually morphing into a painfully stereotypical Gryffindor with no mouth filter when face-to-face with the crazy bastard. One only had to remember Harry stupidly taunting Voldemort in front of his own followers to know there was no self-control present anywhere. Running into him in Diagon Alley had shocked her to the core, and she had no doubt that Riddle had realised that she recognised him somewhat. Her father certainly had, and though he knew her better, Tom Riddle wasn't considered a genius for nothing.

He was a terrifying person to be opposing. No, he wasn't a person. He was a distorted, empty shell. A body without the ability to empathise and now with a corrupted, small sliver of a soul. Lyra could feel her skin crawl just thinking of him. It wasn't even the emotional distance that was the problem – having had friends on the autism spectrum had certainly helped broaden Harry's mind there – but that Tom had delved so far into things that were almost universally perceived to be horrific. You didn't have to have difficulties understanding emotions to know that killing is considered to be wrong, even if you can't comprehend why.

Tom Riddle could only understand control of power, and he let it consume him.

Lyra opened her eyes and gazed at the silver fur of her favourite toy as she mused. She had to find the Horcruxes, no questions asked. Basilisk venom could be found in the Chamber of Secrets – incredibly dangerous reptile living there, notwithstanding – so it was simply a case of finding the soul receptacles and destroying them, before finding the psychotic murderer himself and offing him nice and simple. Or the slightly more disturbing Black way. She wasn't really fussy, to be honest.

She let go of the bear and sat up, swinging her legs off the bed and into her slippers. Lyra stood up and stretched her back out, wincing at the loud crack that would have made Aunt Coris fling a Stinging Hex at her behind in reprimand. At least there wasn't anyone in this house that would genuinely have a go about her – apparently deplorable – lack of manners.

It was just her and her father.

The girl took a moment to remember that awful expression that had crossed Alphard's face earlier in the day, before squaring her shoulders and striding across her bedroom and out the door.

She couldn't afford to run away from her problems any more.

Alphard sat at the kitchen table, in the exact same seat he had been for hours, with his elbows on the polished wood and his head in his hands.

A bottle of his favourite wine sat abandoned a foot away from him, the subtle drink having been abandoned for something stronger not even ten minutes after Lyra left to retreat to her room.


That girl was … She was insane. Completely and irrevocably mad. The things she'd said and done, not just in that conversation, but over the course of her life were insane. Genuinely, entirely insane. That girl was a mess of a human being, and Alphard still couldn't wrap his mind around the baffling words that had come pouring out of her mouth in a never-ending stream. He was furious with everything he'd heard, and Lyra hadn't helped at all by sitting there with that Merlin-forsaken expression on her face.

His mood hadn't been helped in the slightest by the sheer terror in those identical silver eyes as they gazed at him and waited for his judgement. Alphard had had to sit there and listen to one of the most ridiculous stories ever come out of the girl's mouth, the mad words pouring forth in halting sentences seemingly designed to incite his rage. This child that he'd been single-handedly raising for the past thirteen years had sat there and revealed things that no child her age should feasibly know, yet she'd told him every little thing that she knew off the top of her head, which only served to make him even more enraged as he listened to the insanity.

Quite frankly, he was furious with himself.

Alphard's own fucking daughter had sat there in front of him, revealing long-held secrets that had the potential to plunge their world into a war of Grindelwald-like proportions, and she'd looked fucking terrified and almost cowered away from him. Lyra had looked scared of him, of his own possible reactions, and Alphard had felt that like a punch to the gut.

This was his daughter, his only child. The one who'd been solely his for over a decade. More than being yet another scion of one of the branch families of the House of Black, Lyra was his unexpected, yet equally cherished, daughter. She'd been his beautiful baby when she first learned to say, “Love you, Daddy”, he'd seen her as his brilliant child when she'd 'accidentally' turned his mother's hair pus yellow when she was eight, and Lyra had been his precious princess from the very first time she told him that it didn't matter if she didn't have a mother, as long as she had him in her life.

No matter what other life had been lived before, Lyra would always be his daughter, end of discussion.

This was his daughter, and the very best part of his life had meekly peered at him as if she was bracing herself to be thrown out the house, or physically beaten, and he'd nearly thrown up at the soul-shattering reaction. Lyra was his family, far more than the House of Black in its entirety, and to see her scared of his possible rejection – physically preparing for it, even – was nauseating to witness.

Lyra was Lyra, no matter if her name had once been Harry in an entirely different time and family. His daughter was no longer some poor boy who'd been raised to be a martyr for a cause he didn't fully understand – and thank fuck he wasn't at school right now, he didn't think he could get away with murdering Dumbledore – she was his, and their family's, and she was never going to have to shoulder so much horrendous responsibility herself ever again.

She might have the memories and developed mind of an adult, but Alphard was her father, and he was going to bloody well act like it.

He heard the soft footsteps of Lyra coming down the stairs and lifted his head, vanishing the alcohol before standing up and turning towards the door.

If he was going to be a good father to the most amazing daughter in the world, then he sure as hell was going to do it right.

“There's something I need to tell you.”

This is it. She could feel her heart racing, could hear the blood rushing through her ears. This was terrifying. This was a conversation that Lyra had always assumed would never happen, and she'd made peace with the fact that Alphard Black would never learn of the link between Lyra Black and Harry Potter. He would never know that the person that he called 'Daughter' was in fact a man in his seventies reborn into his infant child's body. He couldn't know, couldn't ever become aware of the terrible truth of their family unit.

Yet here she was.

Lyra knew that she owed this man so much. Her happiness, her very life, practically every facet of her continued – and wondrously happy – existence could be attributed to the wonderful man sat across from her right now. A man who she loved and cherished above all others in their family. A man who deserves the truth if I'm going to inevitably cause shit sooner rather than later.

The truth was, Tom Riddle wasn't going to wait to incite havoc through terror and murder, so she was going to have to be proactive instead of sitting back and waiting for things to happen. Even more so with how the Blacks were entirely different to how they were before; Lyra had no idea what Tom had originally been up to in the late fifties to early sixties, so there was every chance that her altered family had somehow peripherally interfered with his plans simply though existing as they were now. (Time travel, and consequently making small ripples through miniscule actions, were such complicated subjects, hence why she tended to ignore them for the sake of her own continued sanity.)

Lyra looked down and studied the polished table to steel herself, before looking up into identical silver eyes and opening her mouth, only to freeze in her seat, words lodged in her throat. She couldn't do it. Her voice was stuck, her muscles locked in place to prevent the truth from spilling forth. She was trapped in her chair, torn between tossing a cheap lie in his face to explain her strange behaviour or letting loose with the bizarre truth which would change everything.

The truth which he deserved.

The girl cleared her throat and licked her lips. “If … Memories make up a person – I mean … Damn it,” she finished with a furious whisper, her brows pulled together in frustration.


She lifted her eyes once more as a hand settled over hers and squeezed, concern written as plain as day across the face in front of her. Lyra squeezed back briefly before taking yet another deep breath, sitting back in her seat and straightening her spine. She could do this.

“I have a question for you.”

Alphard looked warily concerned at the direction of the conversation, but nodded along with her. “Go ahead, you know you can always ask me anything.”

A pang of guilt shot through her heart, but she persevered. “If … if, at the end of your life, your death didn't result in any form of expected afterlife, but another life entirely, who would you be?”

Lyra licked her lips nervously and lowered her eyes once more, heart racing furiously. “You're Alphard Black, son of Pollux Black and Irma Crabbe, my … my father, yet if you ended up living another life, would you still be Alphard, or would you be another person entirely?

“Imagine having your consciousness awaken in – in an infant, a newborn,” she suggested quickly, words pouring out even as her voice broke slightly, “and you become aware that you're a baby, in a completely different situation. Different parents from before, a different time even, but you – you knew about your new family. And you were in the past, as crazy as it sounds, and you wanted to help your new family, and – and –”

Lyra stopped abruptly, feeling tears prick behind her eyes. She was breathing heavily – too heavily to be normal – and her hands were clenched into fists on the table, her muscles clenching together so tightly that a sharp pain was emanating from her hands. It was rather grounding in a slightly disturbing manner, but she almost relished in it, feeling it to be a minute ounce of just punishment for the emotional upheaval she was piling on this brilliant man.

“If someone's had an entire life before, does that make their new life redundant? Or a lie?”

The silence was oppressive in the wake of her confession. She might not have revealed any defining details to her father, but it was a confession, because the man in front of her was smart enough to extrapolate from her words and come to the correct conclusion on his own. Alphard had been raised as a proper Black from the onset, had grown up in a House under the strict purview of Lord Sirius Black, and there was no way he was failing to understand her point with everything she'd just revealed. (A fact she could admit she was taking advantage of, still running away from the act of just admitting everything up front. Lyra really had embraced the culture of Slytherin self-preservation, hadn't she?)

Her mind was spinning, wondering if this was the end for her life as the beloved only child of Alphard Black, if she was soon going to be on the receiving end of a morbidly stereotypical pure-blood banishment. The mere possibility of her father adopting that classical 'Black' sneer and severing their entire relationship was enough to make her nauseous, the image of her being thrown out of her own home – perhaps the House of Black itself – flickering across her panicked mind and heightening the desire to flee from this confrontation.

Such an action wasn't really something Harry had done when he was younger, but he'd grown to be more cautious and considering as an adult, traits which had only grown in Lyra from the first moment of this new life. Engaging in revealing discussions with no clear outcome was a gamble, truth be told, something that Lyra despised with her whole being.

(Gin had been another proponent of this development, ensuring that Harry knew that there was nothing wrong with looking out for yourself at all, especially if your actions weren't detrimental to others. Taking care of yourself wasn't a selfish act in and of itself, and Harry had been beyond grateful at the woman's patient understanding after they'd had children. He'd vowed to never let anyone treat his beloved children the same way he'd been treated.)

“You …” The deep voice trailed off quietly, the sound of pure shock reverberating round Lyra's head, causing her to hunch her shoulders and tip her head down even further in her seat. Much more, and she'd be laying with her head on the table, the ultimate picture of scared submission. Something that ordinarily would have made Lyra bristle in indignation, but now only served to make her feel even more sick. He sounded bewildered at his – no doubt correct – conclusions, but also wary, almost as if he had no idea how to begin broaching the suffocating elephant in the room.

Almost hysterically, Lyra could empathise with the attitude.

“Another life. From infancy.” Lyra could hear the gruffness in the familiar voice, but the tone was flat, entirely devoid of emotion as the man retreated to brief, sharp narration as opposed to the gentle teasing tone she had long since become accustomed to. If that wasn't a stab to the heart, she didn't know what was.

Alphard cleared his throat. “Look at me.”

Lyra jolted a little in her seat, the authoritative tone of voice having never been directed at her in all her life. As a grown adult, she hadn't needed to be taught the correct way to behave, or reprimanded for childish misbehaviour. Alphard Black had very much been in favour of doting on his daughter and hoping that she'd respond well in kind, which had continued through her life because of how much she listened to her father. Lyra supposed it was rather lucky, seeing as how a normal child could have become overwhelmingly spoiled from being the focus of such attention all the time.

She braced herself in her seat, muscles coiled tightly, and slowly raised her head until two pairs of silver eyes met, desperately fighting the urge to run away and never look back. The man that had raised her was as blank as the public persona of Lord Black, all presence and no warmth, and Lyra couldn't fight the feeling of nausea rolling in her stomach at the sight.

She'd never felt as far from being a Gryffindor as she did now.

Slate orbs bore into hers with an intensity that Lyra had rarely seen on the usually genial man. “Are you telling me that you've lived a life before this one? One that you remember, even?”

Lyra nodded slowly, throat still constricted with fear. This was horrible.

His eyes narrowed slightly, making him look even more imposing than before. Like this, Alphard bore a striking resemblance to Phineas Nigellus Black, even if there were several generations between them. The Black blood truly did run strong.

“Tell me about it.”

Starting strong, aren't you? Alphard Black was a laid-back wizard, true, but he was a determined individual who despised not having the correct information pertaining to any give situation that he was involved in. Lyra wasn't the slightest bit surprised at the demand, even if the words made her heart race even more than ever, a feat she didn't think possible. The thundering beat in her chest said otherwise, however.

“I –” Lyra cut herself off and took a deep breath, sliding her eyes a little until she was looking just over the man's shoulder. Maintaining eye-contact had never been a problem of hers – one need only remember how belligerent Harry had been in the midst of puberty for evidence of that – but this situation was enough of a diversion from the norm of her everyday life that her standard behaviour had taken a nosedive away from habit. (A very understandable nosedive, if you asked her.)

“Before … before becoming your daughter, I was born as Harry Potter, Heir to the House of Potter.” The confession was whispered, sounding like a dirty little secret, her reluctant tone murmuring the words as quietly as she possibly could. It was almost as if speaking any louder would make the words more real, as if they weren't already akin to something best suited to a shadowy confessional in a church. This conversation was the first domino in a line, the damning start to what was definitely going to be one of the worst days of her life; she could feel it. Shitty Potter luck.

“I was born in the year nineteen-eighty, so I originally never experienced growing up in this time. Well, time period aside, I didn't exactly grow up normally anyway, what with being solely with muggles for better part of a decade –” Lyra stopped at the sight of Alphard's elegant brow raised in question, and flushed as she realised she was rambling. This wasn't helping matters at all.

She took yet another deep breath – how many is that now? – and started again. “I was – Harry was a half-blood, born of a pure-blood father and muggle-born mother, and when my parents were murdered, I was shipped off to live with my mother's sister and her family.”

Lyra closed her eyes as she remembered Privet Drive. “They hated me.

“Magic. Harry's aunt despised it because she was jealous of her sister, the sister who'd always been more talented and attractive, so when faced with her nephew – a reminder of the sister she'd scorned so thoroughly – the nephew became the target for all the household's resentment. Harry didn't have a happy childhood” – which was something of an understatement, but not really relevant right now – “but he dealt with it, and got used to the idea of just dealing with life until he became an adult and could leave.” A common daydream of a young Harry James Potter.

“Then the Hogwarts letter came.”

Lyra ignored the whole insanity that was driving around the country to avoid the letters and meeting Hagrid; it was going to be difficult enough to explain about Tom Riddle without adding in the tonnes of unnecessary bullshit from her first life.

“I found out about magic for the first time ever, found out that my parents were war heroes, and that everyone knew who 'Harry Potter' was because he'd survived the Killing Curse, taking down a Dark Lord at the same time as a toddler,” she revealed solemnly, absentmindedly noting that Alphard's fingers were twitching from where his arms were rested on the table. “I'll get into the Dark Lord stuff in a bit,” Lyra added quickly, wanting to at least get everything off her chest in some semblance of order. It might seem a little childish to some to explain things in a simple, linear fashion, but she honestly couldn't think of any other way to describe the monumental travesty that was the life of Harry Potter before she became Lyra Black. How could you explain a series of events in a concise manner when even decades of analysis still didn't provide any decent conclusions? Her life was a mess, simple as.

Lyra nervously tapped her fingers on her lap, dreadfully fearful of revealing more that would establish 'Harry' as defining person, but also oddly anticipatory of Alphard's reaction. It was bizarre, she knew that, but Lyra supposed there was at least some part of her that was still Gryffindor enough to shine through; now she was here, confessing secret after secret, she was almost impatient to hear the verdict of the most important person in her life. Granted, the girl was still terrified of losing her beloved father, but her hatred of the unknown was almost enough to rival said terror.

Sitting back and waiting had never been her strong suit, for both her Gryffindor and Slytherin sides.

“I was a literal fish out of water when I was first eleven,” Lyra muttered with a frown, still quite resentful that so many had left Harry to flounder in his obvious naivete. “From classes to social interactions, Harry knew nothing, but I suppose the most important thing about that year was discovering that the Defence professor had been playing host to the soul of the same Dark Lord that I'd supposedly vanquished a decade previous, and me subsequently killing him.”

At the sight of Alphard opening his mouth to question her, Lyra held up a hand to halt his impending inquisition. “I'm not trying to stop you from asking me anything, but this is only the first year. I'd … I'd like to tell you about the rest of school first.


Lyra despised how small her voice sounded, but she was still terrified and preparing for the worst. If she didn't get all of this out now, she knew that she'd never be able to reveal the truth to her father ever again. Which was something she couldn't afford, not with how Tom Riddle had now crawled out of whatever ditch he'd been hiding in before to start tormenting them all.

No matter if Alphard hated and disowned her, she'd still protect him to the best of her ability. Lyra was always going to be a Black, and she was always going to owe everything to her sire.

The man surveyed her quietly for a few minutes before gracing her with a curt nod, leaning back in his chair with his strong arms crossed over his chest. Imposing picture aside, it was somewhat of a relief to be given some form of autonomy over this tense conversation. Of course, it was always possible that Alphard simply wanted all the information he could from her, but Lyra took small comfort in the knowledge that he could have gotten that in different, albeit dangerous, ways if he'd so desired. That he hadn't, gave Lyra a tiny sliver of hope for the continuation of their current relationship (for now).

She took a moment to calm herself – as much as she currently could – and began once more. “Second year, Harry found out he was a Parselmouth, and The Chamber of Secrets was opened again.” Though he remained silent, Alphard visibly paled and his eyes widened slightly at that revelation. He was no doubt a smart man, and she could almost see the wheels turning behind his eyes as he started putting things together. Lyra knew he was going to get it before she finished.

“That year finished with me coming face-to-face with the younger version of the Dark Lord, who'd been living in a diary and had tried to take over a young girl's body by draining her of magic.”

Silver eyes flared with anger at the mention of the diary, and Lyra almost smiled wryly at her sire's intelligence. Alphard Black might have cultivated a personality of a flighty playboy, but he was an extraordinarily smart man when he actually bothered to use his brain.

“It was Riddle, wasn't it?”

Lyra met the man's eyes once more and flinched slightly at the cold fury she could see there, her breath freezing in her chest at the restrained anger on her father's face. Luckily, the man quickly took a deep breath and closed his eyes, inhaling and exhaling for a minute before he opened his eyes, shoulders not carrying nearly as much tension as they had before. He looked at her and nodded once more.

“Carry on.”

She forcefully pushed away the seeping cold in her body, both from the creeping tinge of Black magic she'd felt in the air, as well as the long-past memories of Gin laying pale and lifeless on the Chamber floor, and once more looked over her sire's shoulder. “The third year at Hogwarts had nothing to do with any Dark Lords, but I discovered that my parents had been murdered because their Secret Keeper had told said Dark Lord their location while they were under Fidelius. Harry's godfather – a Black – had been thrown in Azkaban without a trial and was universally blamed for the Potter murders.”

Alphard let out an angry hiss that had the hairs on the back of her neck standing on end, but Lyra ignored the dangerous sound and mentally took herself back to the age of thirteen, the initial fear of seeing those wanted posters and Arthur's warning clashing with the eventual elation over Sirius' offer. She didn't think her old godfather had ever really known just how much Harry had loved him for that spontaneous offer. Lyra knew full well that Sirius had been too hotheaded, but if he'd known even the slightest amount of what Harry went through at the Dursleys', he would have moved mountains to get his godson out of that miserable house.

Harry had always been too ashamed to admit the truth, as if telling anyone about the abuse made him weak and unworthy. An opinion that had had Gin tapping into the infamous tempers of her Weasley and Prewett ancestors when she found out, but Harry's wife was the only person that had ever been told the full truth of his childhood. Ron and Hermione might have guessed some of it – or a lot, considering how they'd treated Harry – but he'd never admitted to anything out loud.

The idea that just telling Sirius might have changed things entirely was a constant dull ache in her soul, the thought that she might have been able to save him if she'd only learned to speak up. Lyra constantly had to check herself, reminding her own logic that there was every chance that she could have made things irrevocably worse, as well. Even so, one of Harry's constant regrets throughout his long life was how he'd handled his entire relationship with Sirius.

If there was one thing that she hated about herself more than anything, it was not telling Sirius that she loved him more before he died.

“He escaped from Azkaban, and the Ministry got the idea to station Dementors around the school because they assumed he'd be coming for me. Nobody told me this, and I was exceptionally sensitive to them after witnessing my mother's murder,” Lyra revealed quietly, still affected by the memories of Lily Potter dying to this day. It wasn't a common nightmare, but it still occurred from time to time. “The year ended with Harry and his friends discovering the truth, as well as the true culprit, though they escaped before they could be handed over to the Ministry, and Harry's godfather went on the run.”

Merlin, I hope this world's Sirius has a better run of it than before, Lyra mused sadly. Even if she was summarily booted from the House of Black, she'd still do all she could for baby Sirius and Aludra, all the Black cousins, even. She'd long since promised to protect her family to the best of her ability, and Lyra was going to keep that promise as much as she possibly could.

Willingly breaking a promise was terrible thing to do, especially with magic involved.

“Fourth year was … horrendous, to put it bluntly. Harry was forcefully – and illegally – entered into the Triwizard Tournament at Hogwarts as a fourth competitor, and had to deal with that danger while also handling increased media attention from a nasty reporter who delighted in defaming his reputation.” Which didn't begin to fully explain the problems with Rita Skeeter, but the woman was just a girl at this moment in time, so there was no real point in delving into that future drama when there were more important events happening even now.

Lyra frowned at her memories, making an aborted movement to touch her forehead where the infamous scar once lay. She caught Alphard's inquisitive gaze and flushed, lowering her eyes once more as the long-past teenage shame welled within her. Having Voldemort's presence in her own mind for so long, and so vividly, had made her so ashamed and left her feeling weak. It was why she'd never admitted to it unless pushed; saying it out loud made it more real, made it as if she was admitting to defeat. Harry had always hoped that Voldemort being in his mind meant nothing, that the crazy psycho would just do him a favour and give up on going after him, even if he knew it was a vain hope.

Feeling as if you were desperate for help, but too scared to ask for it, was a dreadful combination.

She cleared her throat to steady her breathing, knowing that the tale of Harry Potter was about to take an even darker tone. Fourth year really had been the beginning of everything. “Throughout the year, Harry was subject to random visions which seemed to be direct links to the Dark Lord's present, seeing what was happening with him at that very moment. It was terrifying,” she said softly.

“The tournament ended with Harry and Hogwarts' other champion being kidnapped via Portkey and taken to a graveyard where what remained of Riddle was and a follower of his. The traitorous Secret Keeper.

“The other student was killed in front of me and I was tied to a gravestone, before my blood was used in a ritual to fully resurrect the Dark Lord. A few minutes later, and he was stepping out of a cauldron looking far less than human, and he thought it was funny to untie me and have us duel.”

Despite the fear she still felt in this moment, Lyra laughed bitterly at the memory and shook her head. “I was fourteen, and barely trained as we'd had a different Defence professor every year, and I was terrified. We fought and I survived, but just barely, and that was only due to the spontaneous Priori Incantatem that happened. Our wands had brother cores so connected beyond a normal duel, and I was both protected from Riddle's followers, and introduced to the shades of those murdered by Riddle's wand, including my parents.”

Lyra was silent for a moment in contemplation, silenced through both sadness at the events themselves and frustration from how they'd been consequently handled. The idea that hundreds of lives could have been saved if the Ministry had just listened, just investigated Harry's words was nauseating to think about, but depressingly expected considering Fudge and his ostrich-like tendencies.

“I escaped with my schoolmate's body, told everyone what happened, got ignored by the general populace, and shipped off back to my magic-hating relatives while I was falling apart. Dumbledore told everyone not to tell me anything, so that summer I knew of nothing happening in our world.

“In hindsight, it might have been somewhat of a good thing,” she reluctantly conceded. “Harry was being constantly slandered, reported to be unstable and delusional, and the visions plus the duel were wreaking havoc with his emotional control. Back at school, the school was introduced to the dictatorial 'High Inquisitor', who was a plant from the Ministry to discredit myself and Dumbledore. The nasty woman had previously sent Dementors after me in the muggle world, and she proceeded to torture me and many other students with a Blood Quill under the guise of regular detentions.”

She clenched her eyes shut tight and tried to control her magic, the silky power flowing under skin and building up a sort of charge the more her mood soured. Accidental magic might be considered a childhood issue, but the truth was it could last throughout your life if you were sufficiently powerful. It was more than a little inconvenient, but nothing that Harry hadn't experienced in his lifetime.

“The visions continued even more that year, Harry had a horrible mood at fifteen, and he started an illegal Defence club to help the other students learn to protect themselves. At the end of the year, Harry received a – a vision.” Lyra cleared her throat reflexively, keeping her eyes shut to prevent any stray tears from escaping. “It was of my godfather, being tortured by another follower for something in The Department of Mysteries. I'd been dreaming of the place for months – more visions – so I was convinced that it was true. I decided to run straight for the Ministry, flying there on Thestrals, taking along some of my friends who'd decided to join me on my dangerous journey.

“It wasn't true.”

Lyra felt her breath catch, the memory of one of her worst moments playing across her mind on a loop as she spoke, her voice breaking with sheer misery. “He knew about the connection and sent me a vision, so I ran straight into a trap and got my godfather killed. He fell through the Veil after his cousin tried to kill him – another Black, a crazy one – and it was my fault.

“Dumbledore soon told me I was the subject of a prophecy – destined to defeat the Dark Lord, even – and I would never be able to avoid our connection unless one of us died.”

Even after all this time, Lyra despised the Headmaster for dumping such delicate revelations on Harry at such a painful moment. He'd just lost the closest thing he had to a parent, felt deliberately responsible for it, and was enormously guilty over his friends getting injured at the Ministry. The old man hadn't cared, had practically used the situation to manipulate him even further into the cookie cutter mold of a martyr, and Lyra would never forgive him for his actions.

Aberforth had always been right. Secrets and lies were Albus' way of breathing, and they always would be.

Lyra sighed angrily to herself. “It never got any better. Sixth year was spent with me stalking one of my classmates as they were obviously becoming mixed up with joining Riddle and his merry band of psychos, Dumbledore mysteriously turned up with a blackened hand and started giving me 'lessons' about Riddle's past, and the year ended with the bastard dragging me along on a mysterious journey to get one of Riddle's 'mementos'. A journey which ended with Albus Dumbledore dead, Riddle's followers infiltrating the school and murdering students and professors alike, and me left with the job of completing the arsehole's mission with next to no information.”

The man across from her shifted in his chair but remained silent, prompting her to continue lest she lose herself once more in a tirade of angry reflection over Dumbledore's previous actions. Which was rather likely, considering how much he'd screwed her life over as Harry. It was difficult to accept his actions, knowing that just a little more common sense and empathy from the esteemed headmaster would have allowed her to have a proper childhood, let alone her life at school. People were supposed to learn from their mistakes, yet Dumbledore simply continued accumulating life experiences and never deemed to build on them to improve his decisions later on; if anything, his rose-tinted lenses only got thicker as he aged.

“By the time the final year came around, Britain was fully embroiled in a civil war,” Lyra stated in monotone, not even wanting to get into the cloying atmosphere of the country's terror in the comfort of her own mind. “Riddle was at large, his followers leading the Ministry in his name, and there were so many attacks pervading the country that the muggle news stations were baffled at the random destruction and disappearances every other week. Hogwarts was now being run by those under the Dark Lord, and I was on the run as the most wanted criminal in British magical society.”

Lyra closed her eyes and could practically hear all of the protective spells that she'd learned by heart at seventeen, could see the precise wand movements as the trio incanted around small clearings and hidden alcoves. Seventh year would always be one of the most straining periods in her life.

“My two closest friends and I lived in a tent for the year to hunt down various objects owned by Riddle and destroy them, thereby gradually weakening him to eventually kill him.” Training teenagers to be ruthless killers. Exactly how much of a difference was there between Dumbledore and Tom? “Towards the end of the year, the last object was revealed to be in Hogwarts, so we infiltrated the school just before a massive battle began. The Battle of Hogwarts, that's what it came to be known as,” Lyra snorted. “Unoriginal, but to the point, I suppose.”

Her lips twisted into a sneer as she recalled the carnage from the battle. (Anger had always been easier for her to process than grief.)

“At the end of everything, the Great Hall was lined with bodies from one end to the other, and that didn't even include those on the losing side. The elves were instructed to take away the dead of the enemies' side so the grieving didn't have to be surrounded by those that were responsible for murdering their loved ones. Even so, there ended up being a lot of names on the monument when all was said and done,” Lyra murmured quietly, lost in thought as she often was whenever she remembered her life just after the war.

Harry had been something of a recluse to the general public at the time, a mystery to be solved as people were desperately curious to know about where their elusive saviour was. Which was nowhere near as interesting as the masses seemed to think. He'd been in Grimmauld Place, sleeping and recuperating and generally trying to recover from months of stress and near-starvation and fucking dying in the Forbidden Forest. (Not that anyone had been aware of that last fact aside from Ron and Hermione, and later Gin, but you'd think that killing a fucking Dark Lord would be enough to earn some bloody privacy.)

“The battle itself was curiously short in hindsight,” she mused, frowning to herself as she sunk inwards instead of focusing on her still-blank sire. “Less than a day. Less than an entire day for hundreds of witches and wizards and half-humans and full-blooded creatures to lose their lives on the grounds of Hogwarts. Professors and students alike, all four Houses targeted regardless of the colours on their ties. I spent most of the battle running around like crazy, trying to figure out where in the millennium-old castle some random heirloom might be hidden.” She snorted and chuckled bitterly. “As you can imagine, it really wasn't easy.

“As people were dropping dead all around me, I was sprinting through the castle with my thoughts racing, feeling so bloody narrow-minded and self-centred for focusing on the search, but knowing that Riddle wouldn't be – couldn't be killed unless I succeeded.” Lyra shifted in her chair, the mourning seeping into her very bones at the memory of finding the diadem. “I did. Succeed, that is. Found what I was looking for, and subsequently had to escape a room filled to the brim with Fiendfyre. A classmate died – the one who conjured it to begin with. It was a painful irony,” she added solemnly.

“There was a point when our side were offered a choice: give me to Riddle, or they all die.” The sound of wood creaked under Alphard's hand, his fingers curled over into a tight fist that was gripping the arm of the chair as if to anchor himself to reality. She wanted to tell him it wasn't likely to work.

“People were generally bullheaded, optimistically hopeful that we would win – that Harry would miraculously save them like the Chosen One he was supposed to be. I was an icon, a beacon of hope for the masses. Even when they were tending to the wounded or sobbing over the bodies of their loved ones, there was still an undercurrent of belief in me.

“It was such a fucking joke.”

Lyra tilted her head back and stared at the ceiling – anything to avoid that piercing gaze across from her – before closing her eyes and sighing. That moment in Dumbledore's office when she discovered the truth – discovered that her life had never been her own – was still like a punch to the gut. At the time, she hadn't put much thought into it, had even agreed that her life wasn't much to pay for taking down the megalomaniac that had killed Harry's friends and family.

Life had been rather shit up until that point, and though there had been Ron and Hermione, the other Weasleys, and the beautifully fiery Gin, having to die for them had seemed like a rather natural progression in the miserable life of Harry James Potter.

He was a Horcrux, and he would do anything for those he loved, even die.

“I was a martyr, I –”

“I beg your pardon?”

That deep voice had a dangerous edge to it, the hairs on the back of Lyra's neck standing on edge as she tensed. She lowered her head and peeked at Alphard's face, stilling in her seat at the fury etched on his visage. She swallowed reflexively, resolutely pushing down the nausea threatening to take over. Once more, her heart was racing in her chest, the rhythmic thumping reminding her over and over again that Lyra was sat across from a very dangerous wizard with a horrendous temper. It was a sobering thought.

She cleared her throat and stared at the table surface. “It turned out that I'd been raised to be a martyr, to let myself be killed when the time came. Riddle had to die, and so did I.” Linked by prophecy, in death just as in life. She licked her dry lips and carried on. “Those objects I mentioned before? They linked the Dark Lord to life.


At the sharp intake of breath, Lyra knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that Alphard Black knew what they were, knew them as the stain upon Magic that they were. She briefly wondered just what was in the restricted parts of the main library if Horcruxes were instantly recognisable to her father, and whether or not she should use some good, old-fashioned mischief to have a look before the inevitable fallout from this conversation. It was doubtful that the result would be happy for her.

“Tom Riddle made seven in total.” Lyra ignored the disgusted sound her father made – even if she agreed with him – and shifted in her chair once more, crossing her arms across her chest. This was going to ruin everything. “Five were objects which he felt were worthy, one was his prized Familiar, and the other …”

Lyra took a deep breath and met Alphard's intimidating gaze head on. “The other one was me.”

A smash echoed from behind her and she jumped in her seat, flinching awfully at the sound as she curled inwards, shoulders hunching as she made herself a smaller target. The man in front of her was frozen in his seat, an imposing yet blank expression etched across his face, his hands still clenched on the arms of his chair, yet he was furious. Eyes usually a sly quicksilver were a stormy pewter, the Family magic visibly roiling in them like a snake waiting to strike. Which it already had, if the exploding painting behind her was any indication. She'd never seen accidental magic from her sire, the man always being in control of himself, if a bit too spontaneous for someone of their House.

Being scared of Alphard Black was a new thing, that was for sure.


Lyra nodded jerkily at the commanding tone. “I … Dumbledore knew about the Horcrux in my head, so he knew it had to be destroyed in order to kill Tom. He – he didn't know of any other way to get rid of it, so … so me dying was the plan,” she whispered, her voice sounding pitiful even to her own ears. “He had me hunt down and destroy the other Horcruxes, then made sure I knew that nobody would be safe – that my friends wouldn't be safe – unless I offered myself up to him.

“So I did.”

She continued staring at the fine grain of their table, absently remembering all the times the table had been surrounded by warmth and laughter, cheer and mischief. It was where Cissa had learned to feed herself for the first time, where Andi had come to her with angry tears in her eyes as she ranted that she was going to prove the old portraits wrong about girls, where an unusually solemn Bella had revealed that she was going to spend the rest of her life protecting her sisters. She herself had sat at this table with Alphard on many an occasion, just enjoying each other's company as he taught her about magic with a loving expression on his face. The table had accumulated many memories by now.

“I willingly walked to death at the age of seventeen, fully expecting my life to be over, and stood there silently as Riddle fired off a Killing Curse at me. I passed out – sort of – had a strange … vision, of sorts, then woke up.” Even having experienced the insanity in person, she couldn't deny how bloody mad it all sounded. Then again, she'd never claimed to be entirely sane. “The war was concluded in a short battle afterwards, after the final Horcrux had been destroyed by one of my friends, then I finished it. I killed Tom Riddle.”

It was a terrible fact of life, but it was the truth. She'd killed someone, whether deliberately or not. Harry had fired off an Expelliarmus, true, but it had done the same job as the sickly green flash in the end. Even if the being in question had been Tom Riddle, Lord Voldemort, even if he'd been an insane shell of a human being by that point, with barely any soul left, Harry had still killed somebody.

Harry had never acted like Dumbledore and tried to justify things, or wrapped it up to hide it under the banner of 'war'. Tom had been a mass-murderer, but Harry killing him hadn't simply been a random act of war or a justifiable occurrence in their battle, it had still qualified as murder. Harry had always known that trying to explain things away led to a slippery slope – as he'd known from only mentally acknowledging his mental health issues, which had led to many difficulties later on – so had immediately decided to own up to the fact. He hadn't been able to simply give excuses for his actions, or he would have gotten into the incorrigible habit of doing so. The truth had been all that had mattered: he'd murdered someone.

Lyra squeezed her eyes shut tight and began to speak once more. “Later on, I got married to the woman I loved, started a job which turned out to be crap, then started a family. Years later – in my seventies, even – I was killed while protecting my grandchildren from a mad man who was firing off deadly spells in public. After I closed my eyes that time, I fully expected to go to some sort of afterlife, to be reunited with my loved ones. Instead, I opened them to see a man – who was very obviously a member of the House of Black – call himself my father.

“The rest, as they say, is history.”

And there it was. The whole, sordid story. Maybe not every little thing she could think of off the top of her head – and there were even more details that had gone a little fuzzy over the years – but enough to irrevocably change everything. The two of them could never go back to how things used to be now. Lyra knew that many people were in favour of revealing secrets, advised that letting go and unloading was supposed to be followed by a sense of relief, but all that she felt was dread. Icy dread coursing through her veins, a sickly sensation emanating from her stomach, and the surety that she'd lost her father flashing loudly in her mind like a Sonorous during a Quidditch match.

Telling the truth might be a release, but losing her father really wasn't worth it.

There would never be the same relationship between them ever again, and that was the best case scenario at this moment in time. Alphard could still very much kick her to the curb, cutting ties with the daughter that had intruded on his carefree life in France all those years ago. There was no relief to be felt here, only the painful reminder that 'Harry Potter' was now going to hang between them as a tainted cloud forever, an eternal elephant in the room whenever Lyra was present.

She couldn't help but wonder if this conversation had really been worth it. Yes, Tom Riddle had once more appeared and wreaked havoc with any sense of stability that Lyra had, but she could have kept mum, locked up her knowledge in a vault and pushed it to the back of her mind, refused to let it ruin her life again.

Lyra chanced a look at the man across the table and flinched in her seat. His eyes were still a storm of unrestrained magic, and her sire hadn't moved an inch in his seat, except perhaps to try even harder to break the chair with his bare hands. 'Furious' didn't begin to explain his appearance, and Lyra had to take a few deep breaths to combat the urge to vomit from nerves.

She was … there were no words to describe how awful she felt right now, knowing that she'd just revealed some horrendous truths to Alphard about how things were going to get so much worse for their world. Then there was the fact that she'd been lying to him for nearly thirteen years, had held back such a monumental secret that was currently shaking the foundations of their relationship in every way, shape and form. The truth was tearing through every assertion of their life together, and Lyra hated it.

It was, however, the reason that she'd told this man in the first place. For all that he had a temper, for all that he had the ability and willingness to murder people decades younger than him, for all his flighty vices, Alphard Pollux Black was an inherently good man. Lyra wasn't blind; she knew well – more than many others – the faults that he possessed, but she was also intimately aware of his many virtues that outshone everything else. He was patient and kind, genuinely loving, and so, so attentive as a father.

If there was anyone that deserved the unedited truth, it was this wonderful man.

She hesitantly looked up. “If you –”

“I'd like some time alone right now,” he interrupted bluntly. “If you don't mind.”

Lyra ignored the sharp pain in her heart and nodded carefully, knowing that if she dared to speak her voice would crack with agony, and he had enough to deal with without adding in her emotional turmoil. If he even cares anymore, her traitorous mind added slyly, a knife designed to hit where it really hurt. The mind had always been the most dangerous thing in anyone.

She got up and started walking, one foot in front of the other, her mind elsewhere as she kept replaying her father's visible emotions in her head, almost physically wincing at the memories. Lyra wasn't paying attention in the slightest, but she'd lived in this house for over a decade now; her feet knew where to take her. It was her home. Perhaps, she mused depressingly. There was no telling how he'd take everything after processing.

Lyra stepped into her bedroom, absentmindedly locking the door before wandering over to the sinfully comfortable bed and collapsing face first on the duvet. After a few seconds, the girl rolled onto her side, head buried into the cloud-like pillow and arms curled around herself.

If it was all going to end soon, she'd enjoy the comfort while she could.

Lyra took a deep breath and pulled her shoulders back, straightening her spine as she pasted a blank expression on her face. The door was mocking her, the plain design a ridiculous contrast to the loud thoughts reverberating around her mind.

Beyond this door was the man that had raised her with love, had showered her with affection for the entirety of this life. Beyond the door was also a man that had just had his world turned upside down in the most bizarre manner imaginable, and Lyra honestly couldn't fathom how he was going to react to all of this.

It was true that he'd allowed her to remain in the house for now, but there was every chance that she'd be kicked out the family for good in short order. While Alphard was a good man, Lyra wasn't ignorant enough not to know that he could be cruel when the situation called for it. This could very well be the last time that they spoke to one another.

Lyra took a moment to remember the scene from Diagon Alley, just before Riddle materialised and ruined everything. The look on her father's face as he held her and told her how much he loved her. The sheer warmth in his silver orbs and the genuine smile on his handsome face.

That was the way she'd always remember Alphard Black.

She pushed open the door and looked around, noting that the room appeared strangely empty. There was no furious wizard sat at the table, no broken glass littering the floor, nothing to indicated that a world-shifting discussion had taken place mere hours before. Where is he?

Stepping through the door with hesitant footsteps, Lyra stopped just a foot from the table and frowned, shoulders slumping with resignation. There was a lump in her throat and she almost laughed bitterly at herself. The 'great' Harry Potter, famed Auror and Head of two Houses, crying like a child at people abandoning them. Why had she ever assumed things would turn out otherwise?

She'd always had a shitty life – had accepted it as normal for her – yet she still remained surprised when it happened. Lyra's life might have been more stable than Harry's in many ways, but the turbulent nature of the House of Black should have been enough of a warning for how things could go. For how they likely would.

I shouldn't be shocked at this. I guess –

Lyra tensed as a pair of strong arms wound around her shoulders, manoeuvring her so she was pressed against a firm chest, her head held against one shoulder as the man crouched down to her level. She was being hugged. Hugged. Lyra was being held in an obviously loving embrace, and the subtle scent of vanilla wafting up from the warm body in front of her left no question as to who it was. Dad.

She could feel the familiar sting in her nose and eyes, recognised the beginning of tears clinging to her lashes. The girl clenched her eyes shut, willing herself not to cry at the clear acceptance of the one person she loved above all others.

“I don't care who you were. You've never been anything other than a Black, even with your memories, so there's nothing to do other than get on with saving our family.

“You've always been my daughter, Lyra, and you always will be, and I love you more than words can express. I'm so proud of you, Princess.”

As soon as she heard the childhood nickname, Lyra lost it. She started sobbing with relief and buried into her father's chest, clinging to him desperately as if she'd lose him if she let go. Lyra ignored the snide voice in her head mocking her, telling her that someone who'd lived as long as she had shouldn't lose control of her emotions and act so weak.

Fuck off. Fuck. Off.

This brilliant man, this understanding and kind man, was accepting her with all of her faults and secrets and changes, and she would never be able to thank him enough. She didn't give a shit what was 'appropriate' in terms of displaying her emotions, all she could think about was that she still has a family with her father. Her funny, amazing dad who loved her, in spite of what she'd told him.

He simply held her tighter, one hand gently running his fingers through her curls, all the while whispering soft reassurances in her ear. I've got you. I'm here for you. You're my little Princess, Lyra. I'll always love you.

No matter what happened from here on out, at least she'd never be alone.

Alphard absently tapped his fingers on the arm of the chair, resolutely ignoring what was happening on the other side of the desk as he willed his body not to tense up.

He frowned briefly, making a mental note to take a quick trip to muggle London in the morning to get some of those pastries that Lyra loved so much. His precious child had never been one for demanding for things she wanted – not even asking politely – so he'd had to be very observant when it came to her reactions to things around her.

She'd never been spoiled or self-entitled, yet her face had always lit up with a real smile and a small flush whenever he treated her, especially if the gift was something she truly enjoyed. Alphard knew well from their trips with his father that Lyra had a sweet tooth and a slight obsession with baked goods, so he had no qualms spending piles of gold in order to cheer up his darling daughter with boxes of confections.

He was pulled from worrying over his only child – she had passed out in bed after crying on him for well over an hour – as the older man surfaced from the Pensieve, a troubled yet resigned expression etched on his face. He wouldn't have looked so bad if it weren't for the deep sorrow mixed with rage in his silver eyes.

Alphard wondered if he'd see something similar in the mirror.

Arcturus poured a healthy measure of whiskey for the two of them before the Lord Black downed his in one, filling up the glass once more and taking a small sip. He placed the glass back on his desk and let his eyes drop to the Pensieve, clearly lost in thought as his fingers tapped rhythmically on the expensive tumbler. The Head of House ring made a clear sound every time it struck the glass with the older man's finger, and Alphard quietly sipped his own alcohol as he waited for his Lord's verdict.

His uncle stopped tapping and heaved an enormous sigh, the singular sound enough to indicate just how weary Arcturus was at the knowledge from that particular memory. Alphard could relate. Arcturus ran a hand roughly over his face before sighing once more, then straightening his back and meeting Alphard's eyes.

“You know I'll want more information.”

He nodded, even if the thought of prying more of the disgusting future from his daughter's mind made him want to throw up, want to shield her with his very body. He knew that his uncle wasn't a threat to Lyra, could visibly see that he believed every word she'd said – every horrific, painful word – yet the thought of another discussion which could leave his proud baby girl in shreds and sobbing her heart out made his very soul rebel. He couldn't do that to her.

He needed that information from her.

“I know,” he bit out tersely, wishing he could spirit his daughter away and shower her with enough affection that the vivacious girl from a mere day ago would reappear. A mere fucking day, and Tom bloody Riddle had managed to fuck everything up. Words couldn't describe what the father thought of his former Housemate right now.

“Alphard.” The man in question looked up to see a determined expression on Arcturus' face, the cloak of Lord Black wrapped around him like he was prepared for battle. Alphard felt his heart race in response. “There's only one thing left to do now.”

The younger of the two raised a brow, unable to contain the slight smirk on his face. “Oh? And what would that be?”

Arcturus leaned back in his chair and returned the smirk. “Regardless of what happened before, Lyra is a Black, and nothing's going to change that. As a Black, she is awarded the same protections given to every member of our House, especially when faced with a clear enemy.

“We're going to kill the next Dark Lord.”

Alphard could feel his magic rising in response to the Lord Black's promise – and it was a promise, no doubt about that – the coiling darkness creeping through his veins and leaving him on edge, tense and ready to strike. He was excited.

He lifted his glass with a dark grin. “As you command, my Lord.”

Arcturus repeated the action and clinked the glasses together, the sound almost reverberating around the office like a gong, a signature upon the agreement of murder. There was no need for more words; the Black Family magic was in harmony with their vow, ready and waiting to be let out.

Riddle wouldn't know what hit him, and he only had himself to blame. Targeting Lyra would be his biggest mistake to date, because Alphard knew the truth, knew it before he'd learned about the terrible sacrifice of James and Lily Potter for Harry. If anything, his assertion was only strengthened, and Tom Riddle would pay the price for his ignorance.

Nothing would ever hold a candle to the strength of a parent's love.

Chapter Text

It was rather astounding how life could come full circle without regretting even the slightest part.

The woman looked around the table at her companions and shook her head, wondering just how she'd gotten here considering the earlier course of her life. She sighed as she slipped into reminiscence; if that wasn't a sign she was getting older, she didn't know what was.

She'd despised her family growing up. Well, the larger part, certainly. Her own smaller family unit had been surprisingly informal during her childhood, all five of them enjoying their lives together and seeing their cousins whenever they visited her home.

Then her grandfather had Phineas died, and life had gone to shit.

Cedrella had only been eight when her grandfather passed away and his son took over the family. Sirius had always been a complete and utter twat, and being given control of the House of Black hadn't helped with his personality deficiencies in any way. Being the firstborn son of Phineas Nigellus Black had bred a very distinct superiority complex, especially in relation to his other four siblings. Merlin forbid her uncle ever cared about his brothers and sister.

Between having his brother Phineas be disinherited, having a 'useless' sister, and two brothers clearly behind him in the line of succession, Sirius had never been one for focusing on familial solidarity when his own security within their House was a preferable alternative. Despite the fact that he'd sired two sons by that point – with Arcturus already having had his first child – Sirius had been far more concerned with how the Blacks were perceived by others.

Image had been his primary concern, even if certain situations had made the arsehole rage at his inability to change things. He hadn't been able to do much when Lycoris had become a freelance Arithmancer, assisting various magicals with their copious numerical struggles with whatever projects they were embroiled in. Sirius' daughter having a career that deviated from the 'typical' path of marrying for political gain had infuriated the man, though considering she'd had Phineas' blessing, there wasn't much he'd been able to do.

To her, that is.

The stupid, hypocritical bastard had been content to leave his son Regulus to his own choices, but he'd certainly interfered with his younger brothers' children and their lives. Pollux had of course already been married disastrously early, though his siblings hadn't been nearly as secure. Dorea and Marius had been young children, but Cassiopeia had been ten and due to start Hogwarts the following year, so clearly she'd been ready for a betrothal. (Her cousin had been betrothed very early into her school career, but the creepy brat had vanished off the face of the earth just after they'd graduated. Funny, that.)

Her uncle Cygnus' family had been largely safe, just as much as Sirius' own, so things had been fairly calm for those particular Blacks. Some of her first cousins had already had their own children at the time that her grandfather died, hence it had been obvious that their family was secure in its continuation.

The problem was her family.

Cedrella's father, Arcturus Nigellus Black, had been Phineas' third son. He'd never expected to inherit the family, even after his brother Phineas had been disinherited. As such, the man had been able to avoid the weight of responsibility that Sirius had been subject to. He'd gone through life as an unusually quiet Black, more of a stereotypical Ravenclaw in terms of disposition before he'd eventually acquired a Mastery in History of Magic. Arcturus had been a researcher and scholar working throughout continental Europe when he had met his future wife.

Lysandra Yaxley had met Cedrella's father while doing similar research to him, and the witch and wizard had more or less immediately fallen in love, cliché as it sounded. Cedrella's mother had been twelve years younger than Arcturus, but had apparently been captivated by the quiet man. The House of Black – see: Sirius – had been more than happy for the pair to wed, mostly because it would give the Blacks yet another connection to a Sacred Twenty-Eight family. Lysandra had been the second daughter to Lord and Lady Yaxley, so her marrying the third son of the former Lord Black had been somewhat logical in society's collective consensus. And so goes the story of one of the few happy marriages of their venerated House.

Of course, things are never perfect.

Cedrella was the middle of three sisters. Three girls. Three daughters born to their parents. Their only children, yet ones that they'd truly loved and cared for as the girls grew. Arcturus and Lysandra had been gentle parents, loving in a way that had caused Cedrella to feel pity for her cousins. The five of them had lived in an isolated cottage on the coast of Kent, and Cedrella had loved her childhood. While it lasted, that is.

She hadn't noticed at first, hadn't realised the growing tensions in her family thanks to the abundance of daughters instead of preferred sons for a good few years to come. She still distinctly remembered Callidora coming home for Yule in her second year, pale and shocked to silence. Her sister had shut herself in her room, refusing to talk to anyone for days, and Cedrella hadn't known what was going on for days to come.

What she had known, was that her father could be terrifying.

After hours of cursing and screaming, the shoreline in front of their home had been reshaped and to this day still housed what looked to be a small lake, the edges of which had been smoking and sparking with chaotic magic. Her mother had had red-rimmed eyes, a furious set to her jaw as she'd barred anyone else – especially the Lord Black – from entering their home in any way.

Cedrella had busied herself with looking after Charis, trying to distract her younger sister from the tension within the house to no avail. Eventually, Callidora had let them into her bedroom and the three sisters had curled together on the oldest girl's bed, curled around each other tightly as if that would heal whatever ailment the girl suffered from.

Turns out, there's no real way to break a binding betrothal contract.

Both Cedrella's sister and her cousin Lucretia had been signed away for the sake of their uncle's political machinations, and Cedrella had realised in that moment that she'd been far too naïve in her understanding of their lives.

She was a Black, a daughter of The Noble and Most Ancient House of Black, a young lady who would be expected to wed whomever it was that her Head of House decided on, whenever they decided. Cedrella had stupidly believed that her father was in charge of their family, and he had been, no doubt about it, but he hadn't been in charge of their Family. A critical distinction, she'd unfortunately realised.

Callidora would be marrying her classmate Harfang Longbottom upon their graduation, which the sisters had begrudgingly admitted was nowhere hear as bad as if could have been. The Longbottoms had always been a respected family, had centuries worth of noble history, and Callidora would be able to be much safer from Sirius' machinations than she would if she remained with the Blacks.

Lucretia had also dodged a killing blow by being betrothed to Ignatius Prewett. The girls had known by that point that their daring cousin was friends with the cheerful Gryffindor, so their marriage would likely be far from a disaster, even if they hadn't chosen it themselves.

That had been Cedrella's main issue with the entire situation. They hadn't had a choice. Their Lord had decided himself; Cedrella's family had simply had to do as told. Told, not asked.

She'd hated it.

She'd hated it even more when little Charis, her quiet and beloved younger sister, had faced the same situation at the age of thirteen, promised to a man that she'd never even met. A man who'd already graduated and gained employment at the Ministry, therefore the sisters had had no way of even getting to know him first. They'd all technically gone to school with Caspar Crouch, but none of them had been in his year or House. The quiet Ravenclaw hadn't been a Prefect or a Quidditch player, so none of them had had any idea on how he and Charis would get along after marrying.

It'd been a disgusting time in Cedrella's life, being stuck at school and knowing that her life as she knew it was subject to a timer counting down towards the unknown. She'd been stressed from preparing for her OWLs, stressed from the knowledge that Callidora would be getting married after this school year, stressed from a barely teenaged Charis getting thrown at a grown man, stressed from waiting for the inevitable …

To this day, she was still surprised she hadn't suffered a mental breakdown.

Cedrella had come close to being sold off to Valerius Flint, despite the man being a whole sixteen years her senior. Not that she had any problems with age gaps in general, but only when both parties were mature adults who understood their situations and could make informed decisions themselves. Even if love wasn't present – like her parents – it would still be their choice. But of course, choice hadn't been a factor in her case, even if she'd only been sixteen.

Funnily enough, Sirius' sense of propriety had saved her arse from that disaster after the creep had been caught in bed with his fifteen-year-old niece. Her uncle's disgusted fury had resulted in him setting the contract alight and raging for a solid two hours on the revolting incident, much to Cedrella's internal delight. And relief, because Merlin, she had not wanted to wed a man who'd seen no issue with incest.

That incident had caused Lord Black to be much more cautious in his attempts with Cedrella's betrothal, and she'd been figuratively matched with many a wizard before her uncle decided that he would instead deign to choose a younger wizard that she would have to wait on until he grew to an appropriate age.

Of course, that was when she met Septimus.

The man who would eventually be her husband and the father of her children was a year older than her, and as the consummate Gryffindor he'd been, they'd never interacted beyond catching sight of one another in the castle halls. She'd never had the slightest indication that there was anything other than recognition in his blue eyes whenever he'd glanced her way, but she would eventually come to see this as one occasion in which she was grateful to be wrong.

The older boy had come across her one day in an abandoned classroom in the dungeons, furious tears pouring down her faces as she repeatedly hexed the same wall again and again with some of Cassiopeia's favourite – and deadly – spells.

Cedrella smiled to herself. She could still vividly remember how Septimus had looked at the damage of her spellwork with clear awe on his face, not even the slightest hint of fear or unease. That he'd immediately given her a handkerchief to clean her tears had upped her estimation of the redhead on the spot. There weren't many wizards who'd been so accepting of her magical prowess, let alone one who'd been a gentleman, too.

She'd definitely started to fall for him then and there.

Cedrella had ignored her mental warnings, the internal voice sounding like her mother whenever she'd worried about her daughters' wellbeing. She'd ignored any idea that things weren't going to end well as she'd embroiled herself more and more in Septimus' life. Even after he graduated, the young man had continuously kept in contact with her. Updating her on his new job, funny stories about the neverending antics of his younger brothers, whatever the cheerful idiot had been able to think of. He'd even gotten to know Caspar and written to Cedrella and her sisters so that they'd know more about Charis' future husband. She'd been so in love; giddy and happily ignoring the consequences.

Then she'd been sent a contract.

Unlike her sisters' betrothals, Sirius hadn't used a binding contract for Cedrella, simply for the fact that the arsehole didn't trust the other family enough to bind the Blacks to them in an irreversible manner. To this day, it wasn't shocking; the Blacks and Malfoys had never fully seen eye to eye, and a binding betrothal contract would have only ramped the animosity up to new heights.

Even more galling than the prospect of marrying a man who wasn't Septimus – they'd been in a relationship for nearly a year when she'd received that particular owl – was that her dictator of an uncle wanted to promise her to a mere child. Abraxas Malfoy was nine years her junior, and waiting for this marriage would mean that she would've been under Sirius' control for even more years to come, before being shipped off the House of Malfoy with no support.

Needless to say, Cedrella had disagreed. Massively.

Perhaps she'd merely snapped, perhaps it had been prolonged exposure to Septimus' Gryffindor tendencies, perhaps it had been having to stand there and watch Callidora be bound to a man that she wasn't in love with for the sake of politics, but Cedrella had decided then and there that the House of Black could go fuck themselves. Permanently.

She went off the deep end in terms of composure, proposing to Septimus and asking him to elope with her, but she'd felt free for the first time in close to a decade, hence why Cedrella hadn't been able to summon any empathy for her family. Why should she have cared about those who saw more worth in her uterus rather than her accomplishments?

Going back to her family's cottage after her final year had been the end of her life as a Black. She'd walked into the front room only to come face-to-face with her parents, each with a knowing smile on their faces. Not a single word had passed between the three, but Arcturus had hugged her tightly and kissed the crown of her head. Her mother's eyes had glinted with quiet pride, and Cedrella had known there and then that they wouldn't turn on her.

A day later, and her name had been Cedrella Weasley, and Cedrella Black had been disinherited.

Being kicked out of the family would have been far worse if it hadn't been for the fact that she'd still managed to see many of them on the sly. Her sisters, various sneaky cousins, not to mention her parents, they'd all kept in contact with her throughout the following decade and a half. Not losing her true family had been a balm on her soul, knowing that she could share the joys of her new family with those she'd grown up with.

Sirius dying had been a viciously joyful occasion for Cedrella, even if her cousin Acrturus hadn't been able to reinstate her standing in their House. That had never been the point. Being able to freely be family had been more than enough, and she'd repeatedly said so to her perpetually stressed cousin.

Of course, the idiot eventually managed to accomplish the very thing she told him not to worry about, though Cedrella had a sneaking suspicion that that had more to do with pissing off the memory of his dearly-departed father than helping her. Not that she was complaining; she'd hated Sirius as an uncle, and Arcturus had had to deal with the cretin as a parent. She still pitied him, even now.

She'd been restored as a Black, Marius had been brought back into the family fold, the Blacks were now marrying for love, and the family had never been closer than they were right now. It was almost as if everything was perfect beyond reproach.

Which was why being sat in a Family meeting with an oppressive atmosphere felt fantastic.

Interestingly, only a few of her kin looked as if they had no clue what was going on. Cedrella, her sisters and Lucretia were peering around at their fellow Blacks with curiosity shining from their silver eyes. She would have cracked a joke to break up the stifling silence if it weren't for the grave looks sported by Alphard and Arcturus. The former was as relaxed as one could get in their House, and Arcturus was rarely not sporting a half-smile at least when in the company of his family. Whatever this was, it was serious.

Arcturus uncrossed his arms and laid them on the table, though still maintaining that intimidating posture that reminded Cedrella of his father more than she was comfortable admitting. She scolded herself internally; her cousin was nothing like his sire.

“We have another Dark Lord to deal with.”

Cedrella stilled in her seat, her breath catching as the memories of Grindelwald's attacks painted themselves across her mind. She'd been the same age as Arthur the first time she'd witnessed that particular carnage while on holiday. She couldn't let her family be at risk again.

“Well, it looks like we've got a job on our hands, doesn't it?” she mused to herself.

“Yes, we do.”

She looked up and caught Arcturus' eye, meeting his grim smile with one of her own.

So much for peace.

“Who do you think should be told, Lyra?”

The girl – or woman, if he was going off of mental maturity – lifted her head from her numerous notes and frowned, absentmindedly biting her lip as she considered his question. Which was a genuine enquiry; he was intrigued what his adopted granddaughter's perspective would be in this area.

“At the very least, I think pretty much everyone should be told that there's a Dark Lord roaming around now. It's callous to leave our family to their own devices when someone like this is really starting to get into his plans,” she said with another frown. Arcturus noticed it was becoming a frequent expression on the young teenager. “Well,” Lyra added with a grimace, “there's always Walburga and her husband. I have a feeling they might be the opposite problem.”

Alphard snorted and leaned back in his chair. “Too right. My darling sister would likely be the first to sign up to serve such a brilliant man. It wouldn't surprise me if she tried to do the same for her son.”

Lyra winced, the movement noticed by the two men in the study. Arcturus felt his stomach roil with disgust. “She didn't? Her own children?” Thank fuck that crazy bitch didn't get her claws into his son. Could her depravity sink no further?

“Sirius ended up running away before she could with him, but his brother wasn't so lucky. The younger one was a marked follower as soon as he graduated, though as I said, he did eventually turn on Riddle because he was a smart man. I don't think I could have finished things before without him,” Lyra finished with a small smile. Arcturus was just glad this horrific future didn't feature all of his House as helpless lunatics.

“I still think it's bizarre that Aludra didn't exist before. And why won't you tell me the name of Sirius' brother?” Alphard whined with an exaggerated pout. The Lord Black tried not to snort. His nephew was an idiot.

Lyra rolled her eyes and huffed. “Dad, we've been over this. For one, there's no guarantee that it'll be the same exact child as last time. Orion and Marcus might end up with a daughter this time, or even another set of twins. Besides, I'm curious as to whether or not they'll end up using the same name if it's another boy. If they do, there's got to be something magical going on,” she added with a wicked grin.

“You have a terrible personality, daughter dearest.”

“I beg your pardon? That is so not true. And if I do, then whose fault is that, huh?”

“I think you'll find that …”

Arcturus tuned out the familiar routine of father and daughter bickering – yet again – and poured himself a cup of tea with a relieved smile. Ever since Lyra had relented and told them the truth of her reincarnation – or whatever her case would be categorised as – Arcturus had been concerned that the girl would emotionally separate herself from them. That she would believe herself to not be a true part of their House, that she would feel some distance was necessary.

Even more concerning had been the possibility of Alphard changing how he treated his daughter. The Lord Black himself hadn't been too concerned about his own reactions. Lyra had, by her own words, always had these memories, meaning that her actions throughout the past thirteen years had been directed by such memories. Every time she'd helped their family, whether that be through foiling the disastrous actions of her relatives or by subtly influencing others in their society, each action had been because of her past experiences. It wasn't as if Lyra had suddenly changed or anything, she was simply revealing knowledge that she'd previously kept private. Arcturus was simply treating it as Lyra having learned things through studying. Her mind being the home to vast quantities of information had no bearing on her personality.

Thankfully, Alphard was of the same mind. He hadn't changed how he interacted with Lyra at all, save for being more physically affectionate and more vocal with his verbal praise. Both things that the girl seemed to subconsciously crave if the way she curled into her father's side was any indication. Arcturus frowned heavily at the thought. No child should ever be treated the way that Harry had been.

The two men were in agreement that Harry was simply a part of the charming young girl that they called family. A large part, because Harry's complicated life definitely had an impact on how Lyra behaved, but not anything irrevocably defining. Lyra was Lyra, and Lyra was also Harry. They were one individual that had given their all for the sake of saving a society of lazy cowards, and were still willing to do the same now, all for ensuring the safety of their family and loved ones.

Arcturus was beyond proud of his granddaughter.

“So,” he said firmly, interrupting the – admittedly entertaining – argument across the table, “have you considered who we should disclose the truth to?”

Lyra hummed to herself before looking him in the eye. “I don't think telling the truth is the be all and end all of the situation. If we're going to do something about Riddle as a family, then some of our House are going to have to told the full truth. But that isn't the entirety of things, either, because there are some that are going to want to focus on their individual families instead of putting themselves in danger.”

“There are going to be those who could help, even with their families, but probably don't need to know everything that's going on,” Alphard added as he wrote something on the page in front of him.

Arcturus leaned forward and surveyed the copy of the family tree. “Then the first step would be to decide who gets to learn everything, your memories and all of who this Tom Riddle is.” He ignored the quiet growl from Alphard with a practised ease, even as he internally agreed with the sentiment. A grown man had no business staring at such a young girl in the manner he had. Alphard's old classmate was going to rue the day he'd incited the Blacks' ire.

“Granddad Pollux needs to know.” Lyra shot them a rueful smile, the slightly guilty look making her look exactly like her physical age for once. He'd seen the expression on his own children more than enough to recognise. It was quite amusing to him.

Arcturus raised a brow at the girl, reining in the urge to smirk at the childish fidget. She was far too charming for her own good.

Lyra huffed and wrinkled her nose at his stare. “He's already been investigating some stuff for me. I asked him a while ago to see if he could dig up whatever he could on Hepzibah Smith and the Riddles' deaths,” she explained, waving a casual hand towards a couple of files on the large table.

“Huh. I guess that's why Dad kept giving me those weird grins whenever you came up in conversation,” Alphard added lightly, grinning at his imp of a daughter. The girl in question just smirked back at her father. What a brat.

The Lord Black snorted quietly. “I was going to suggest my cousin anyway; the idiot's far too inquisitive to leave by himself anyway. What he needs is a target, so we can just point him in the right direction and let him go.”

“What is he, a postal owl?”

Arcturus ignored Lyra's sarcastic mutter – the image was quite hilarious though, he'd give her that – and carried on. “My sister and Cassiopeia are both without spouses or children, and work freelance, therefore are in good positions from which to conduct research on all disciplines of magic, depending on which we require.”

“I think,” Alphard began slowly, eyes roving over his daughter as if ascertaining her safety (once again), “that Orion and Dorea should know the truth. I know you don't want Orion involved in this mess,” the other man immediately added, holding up a hand to stall Arcturus' complaints about telling his son the whole truth, “but he is Lyra's godfather. I definitely believe he should focus on his children, but he can still aid us in terms of politics. Strengthening House Black will also serve to shield us while we carry out other endeavours. And Dorea, aside from being Lyra's godmother, isn't someone who's going to appreciate being kept in the dark. Can you imagine what she'd do if she found out that we'd essentially lied to her?” Alphard asked him with a pointed look.

Arcturus kept still in his chair, but internally shuddered as he pictured the inevitable wrath of the opinionated woman. There might be over two decades between the two cousins, but Dorea was truly frightening when she wanted to be. Why Charlus Potter had taken one look at the carnage she left behind and immediately fallen in love was beyond him. The idiots deserved each other.

“Perhaps you're right,” he conceded, deliberately ignoring the two smirks across the table. He'd get revenge on the duo later. “Is there anyone else that you think should be told the full truth?”

Lyra gnawed on her bottom lip, clearly conflicted. “I think … I don't really know if Riddle ever did anything in the muggle world before. Do you think Uncle Marius needs to know?”

“At the bare minimum, he needs to know there's a crazy twat running around with delusions about his own self-importance.” Arcturus tried not to laugh at his nephew's sneer. He didn't think the younger man would want to know just how much he resembled his sister at the moment.

“I'm not sure if he necessarily needs to know everything, but I understand that you and he are very close, Lyra,” he said, trying to think through the ramifications, especially in the context of Marius' own childhood. “I can guarantee that he won't say anything to anyone not already aware of the situation, so it's really up to you.”

He wasn't lying, either. As much as Arcturus was going to direct their plans to kill this fool mocking their way of life, Lyra's memories were her own. She was smart enough to understand that divulging her secrets to those outside of their House was far too dangerous, so there was no need to lecture her on the subject. That being said, the House of Black was Lyra's family now. If she wished to get closer to certain individuals and tell them the truth, who was Arcturus to interfere? While he could certainly bind her in Vows and order her around, the mere notion of such control left a bad taste in his mouth. He wasn't a dictator. He wasn't his father.

Lyra flushed slightly. It would have been sweeter if it weren't for the fact that the expression was likely from being unaccustomed to being in control of her own person. If only Albus Dumbledore could be easily killed. (Well, accidents happen sometimes. He wouldn't be the first Hogwarts Professor to fall prey to wild magic in the ancient castle.)

The girl cleared her throat and lifted her head, chin raised confidently. Good girl. “I'll tell him. Aside from personal connections, I think he'll be incredibly helpful in our endeavours.” She gestured at a particular point on the parchment in the centre of the table, and Arcturus smirked. Lyra had quite a gift when it came to persuasive arguments. A combination of logic, charm, and a minute edge of threat worked wonders in her speech. No wonder her fellow Slytherins were so wary of the young lady.

“I think that should be adequate for those with full disclosure,” murmured Alphard, eyes roving over the family tree carefully. “Everyone else is going to need to know about Riddle's idiocy, of course, but odd instances of rebirth aren't quite necessary for the others.”

Lyra lifted her head and blinked, a bemused look on her face. “Did you just call me odd?”

“Afraid so, Princess.”

The girl blushed and scowled for a second before pausing, a wicked smirk appearing as she stared at her sire. “You know, it's nice to know that you're taking responsibility for my … eccentricities.”

Alphard raised a brow. “Oh? How have you come to that conclusion?”

“Well, a person's character is determined through a combination of nature and nurture. Nature, as in their very blood, and nurture, concerning how somebody is raised and influenced by their surroundings.” She shifted, her smirk widening into a grin with far too many teeth. “Considering that you're responsible for both in my case, any of my issues can be laid squarely at your feet.

“Thank you so much for taking the blame.”

His nephew's gaping face reminded him of Pollux so much that Arcturus snorted and started chuckling quietly, thoroughly amused at the sight of a grown man at the cut-throat mercy of a dainty thirteen-year-old.

Arcturus casually ignored the argument that had erupted not three feet away and studied his notes. Now he had an idea of the players, it was time to start the game. Riddle was definitely going to regret angering them.

Time for a Family meeting.

“I'm sorry, Brother, could you repeat that?”

Arcturus shot her a flat look – rude twat; bastard hasn't changed – and shifted back in his chair.

“I said, reincarnation – or rebirth, whatever you want to call it – is definitely possible, and I have evidence of such, because Lyra has always remembered every little detail from her old life.”

The room was silent in the wake of her brother's revelations – which were definitely not a joke; Arcturus wouldn't joke about something that could be disproved so easily – and Lycoris tried to process this new information.

Her little niece had the memories of an entire other life that didn't include herself as Lyra Black. Well, that's bizarre. Had she been a Black before, or from an entirely different House? Though she supposed it didn't really matter; the girl had been a Black from birth in this world, therefore any other experiences were merely superfluous.

She twitched in her seat at the sound of Cassiopeia suddenly cackling like a madwoman, though Lycoris couldn't quite prevent her own smirk, even with how deathly serious the conversation was. She had a feeling she knew exactly what was going through her best friend's mind. They'd been living together for far too many years for the older woman not to know what the younger was thinking.

Merlin, that girl's brilliant! So many plans, so much intelligence hidden for years … My, our niece really is the perfect little snake, isn't she?”

Cassiopeia finished with a rather bloodthirsty smirk on her lips, clearly ignoring the snort coming from Alphard and Arcturus' long-suffering sigh at the head of the table. (Lycoris was intimately familiar with the sound from their childhood.)

She supposed it was rather brilliant. None of them had to ask for further explanation of the woman's words in this particular case; all Blacks had the same education, after all. Lyra having managed to slyly lead events to her own preferred outcome without ever letting on that she was doing so with an adult's memories was quite astounding, really. Although, she was rather curious as to who the young girl had been before. By the looks of it, she wasn't the only one.

Dorea and Orion looked to be shocked though accepting of the fact that their mutual godchild had once had another identity. Seeing as Lyra had a solid bond with the older two magicals, it wasn't as if they were unaware of who Lyra was as a person. It was clear to see for all of them that Alphard's daughter was Lyra now and always would be, regardless of previous lives.

Marius leaned forward with a small frown, no doubt picking up on the tension within Arcturus and Alphard as Lycoris had. It was disconcerting. Her brother was Lord Black, though infinitely more relaxed within a private setting such as this. Alphard even more so. The two of them seeming to be about a second away from a duel, as well as sharing loaded glances while some of the others were bemused by this revelation, was a worrying sight.

“Who was Lyra before, then? Was it someone we know?” Marius asked bluntly.

The second question gave her pause. It would be an odd thing to endure if Lyra turned out to be a reincarnated version of someone they already knew to be walking around. At the very least, Lycoris highly doubted that it would be an unlikeable individual to their family. Lyra most certainly wasn't acting when it came to her personable character, so it was likely that her innate behaviour was simply carried over from before. It appeared that her niece had simply always been a charming person.

“What you need to know is that her identity isn't the only thing changed from her past life,” explained Alphard with a blank face, his collected tone catching everyone's attention. “Lyra was also in a different time period altogether, born nearly two decades from now, to be exact.” Her nephew shifted in his chair and gazed down at the table, seemingly at nothing.

“Lyra was born as Harry James Potter in the year nineteen-eighty, as Fleamont Potter's grandson.”

While nearly everyone was silently stunned at this news, even Cassiopeia quiet and contemplating in her seat – though 'scheming' was likely a more apt term for her manipulative cousin – Lycoris noticed Pollux freeze where he was, his mind clearly whirring with something serious that he'd better share with the rest of them. Pollux was never a subdued individual, meaning whatever had altered that regularity was far from palatable.

“Arcturus.” Pollux's low yet carrying voice silenced them all, watching as the two cousins looked one another in the eye. “Does this have anything to do with why Lyra asked me to research several murders for her?”

Lycoris felt her stomach drop. She didn't know why, or what would happen from here on out, but what she did know was that her conniving niece wouldn't go digging into things that dangerous without a very good reason. Lyra was fiercely protective of her family, especially her younger cousins, and wouldn't do anything to invite trouble to her loved ones if she could. Lycoris and Cassi had metaphorically beaten that knowledge into her from as soon as she could talk. Seeing as Lyra had apparently had an adult's mind at the time, all they'd done was reinforce those ideals and refine her methods. (She had a feeling that life as a Potter wouldn't have prepared Lyra for the Blacks' preferred subtleties.)

As such, Lycoris was loathe to open her mouth and invite knowledge of something that would no doubt alter their lives massively, but she had to know. If she could help her family in any way, then she bloody well would. (Which definitely didn't have anything to do with any deeply hidden Gryffindor tendencies. The Sorting Hat was full of nonsense, end of discussion.)


She didn't need to ask more. The siblings had always been close enough to communicate with barely a word. Her brother was already aware of what she was asking.

Stormy silver eyes met her own. “If things play out the same way as the history from Lyra's original life, our country is going to become embroiled in a civil war on the level of what Grindelwald did, however it will only occur in our country. By the time two decades have gone by from now, we'll be stuck dealing with a Dark Lord who looked up to the aforementioned German imbecile as an icon and who'll murder thousands of witches, wizards and creatures as he see fits. As for the murders you mentioned,” he said to Pollux, “that was Lyra's attempt to see if this was the same universe with the same Dark Lord. As it turns out, things are the same.”

Silence. Nothing. No talking, no movement, no sign of life at all. They were all united in their mutual horror, thoughts racing internally as they contemplated what unspeakable horrors would befall their world if they didn't do anything to prevent them. Which they would, because if there was one thing the House of Black was, it was proactive. They couldn't afford to be reactive in a case such as this; there were far too many opportunities for failure otherwise.

Lycoris pushed aside her instinctive uncertainty and turned to Arcturus. “Do we know who this Dark Lord is?”

“Tom Riddle,” Alphard sneered, his expression twisting with disgusted familiarity. “He was in my year at school. One of Slughorn's most prized. I shouldn't be surprised how he went, not with how entirely apathetic he was. The only emotion he ever related to was greed,” her nephew muttered.

She took a deep breath and closed her eyes. Now she understood why they were all here. Every single person here was personally close to Lyra, could be easily trusted to not divulge her secrets to any other. Not that their other kin would do such a thing, but she knew as they all did that secrets didn't remain so if too many were aware of the truth.

Dorea was the only Black in the room to have married outside their family, yet as Lyra's godmother, it would be foolish to not bring her into the fold. These revelations would need to be dealt with accordingly, and Dorea was far too competent not to be utilised. Not to mention that she likely would have discovered the truth on her own and proceeded to show her displeasure on the matter. Nobody wanted to have to deal with that.

Lycoris could understand why the others hadn't been brought in. She could even agree with the decision. What she wanted to know was what would happen from here on out. A sentiment evidently shared by the others sat at the table, if their calculating frowns were anything to go by.

“Father.” Orion's narrowed eyes made Lycoris smile slightly. Her nephew had come a long way from his childhood. “What do you want to happen from here on out? You wouldn't have called us all here unless you had a distinct plan to stop this imbecile.”

Ignoring Alphard's disparaging snort – though the sentiment was agreed with – Arcturus reclined in his chair and surveyed them all. “Lyra has been conducting research on the subject for well over a year already, which she has graciously turned over for us to study ourselves,” he said, nodding at the organised piles in front of him. “However, she knew from the start that it would be difficult to learn all that was needed herself, both because of her age and her lack of familiarity with Riddle at this point in time.

“I've decided to break down specific areas that we need to delve into further, which I would like your assistance with.” He paused in order to watch everyone nod in agreement. She hadn't doubted for a moment that anyone would decline to help, but it was still a relief to see everyone on the same page. “For now, I'll give you what Lyra's uncovered for your specific topic, then I would like you to get on with it as soon as possible. I think I can speak for all of us when I say that I do not want to deal with a Dark Lord reaping havoc in our society.”

Lycoris scoffed under her breath. Only an idiot ever thought a Dark Lord was a good idea. Regardless of whatever sentiments and policies they advocated, history proved again and again that such individuals inevitably succumbed to the temptation of black magic and spun out of control. Their morals would always be left to the wayside in their journey for revolution.

Change was difficult for any society, especially for one like theirs. They might live on a small island on a vast planet, but their magical society had spanned over millennia, traditions wrought into every aspect of their lives. Yes, not all of these traditions were things that Lycoris agreed to or even submitted to herself, but she recognised them and their origins, nonetheless.

It was idiocy at its finest to not expect any form of resistance when advocating for change. What people neglected to recognise was that it was possible to effect change, it just had to be done slowly and carefully in order to fully work. Starting from the inside and shifting policies in minute increments, subtly creating alliances and persuading someone to your side, creating bills with irrefutable evidence that an idea would benefit all … These movements were how to revolutionise a society, not going around and murdering everyone who disagreed even the slightest with your perspective. That only served to make politicians more resistant.

Perhaps Hogwarts needed to invest in a class on critical thinking. It could only do good at this point.

“So, what do you want us to research?”

Lycoris looked up at Dorea's question. The younger woman had a point. She had her own ideas as to how things could progress, but she was intrigued what her older brother would come up with. Arcturus wasn't an idiot in any sense of the word; as a former Curse-Breaker, his blood would otherwise be decorating a remote tomb somewhere if his intelligence had ever been in question.

“Firstly, I should mention that this goes beyond being a Dark Lord,” Arcturus said tiredly, a look of pure revulsion on his lightly lined face. He looked her in the eye and grimaced, faintly apologetic for some bewildering reason. She thought her current anxiety could be forgiven.

“If Lyra's thoughts are correct, then Riddle is in possession of five Horcruxes.”

Pollux swore loudly and Cassi started hissing furiously at their Lord's words, but Lycoris barely noticed them, let alone what other reactions were playing out around her. Those words had changed everything. Horcruxes. Five Horcruxes. Merlin, can this pain in the arse get any worse?

She felt sick at the thought of such an aberration of magic, a stain on everything their world stood for. Her stomach felt like a ball of lead had dropped there and made itself a home, roiling around and destroying any sense of calm that she possessed. The cold she could feel was nothing compared to how dirty she felt. Even the word itself was pure filth, anathema to Magic and their way of life.

That some piece of shit had dared to defile the laws of magic like that was bad enough, but to do so five times was vile. If it wouldn't ruin things, she would walk up to him right this instant and rip him apart from pelvis to throat. Perhaps a little exploration of his innards would help her discover if he'd even had a soul to begin with …


The slight warning tone in her brother's voice made her huff, crossing her arms in annoyance. Her magic might have been crackling in a dangerous manner, but it wasn't as if she was going to lose control or anything. She was a Black, after all.

Arcturus kept his gaze on her for a few more moments before he turned to the rest. “In light of this information, we're going to need to research Horcruxes as much as possible. Lyra never learned much about them except a scant few ways to destroy them before. Apparently, as Harry she'd point blank refused to delve into the knowledge when given the opportunity to later on.”

Thank Merlin for small mercies. Her little niece might be a vindictive little shit when the opportunity presented itself, but she kept to her morals. She looked at the stacks on the table and snorted softly. Unlike some.

“This is going to be a difficult topic, so I believe it best if I study it myself, in conjunction with Coris and Cassi.”

Lycoris turned to Cassi, smirking at the wicked glee in her friend's eyes. Not at the topic itself, of course, but at the chance for some well deserved retribution, no doubt. Besides, it was a good team. A former Curse-Breaker, an Arithmancer, and a Spell-Crafter. Their group was almost overqualified for something like this, though this would definitely be one topic where Lycoris would always err on the side of caution. She was confident in her magical abilities, but dealing with such disgusting objects warranted a touch of heightened vigilance.

“Tracking magic, possibly figuring out how to track these disgusting things, would also be a good thing to focus on. Pollux, I'd like you and Alphard to get on with that.” Arcturus slid over a small stack to his cousin with a grim face, returning the silent nod from the younger man.

Pollux started skimming the words silently, absentmindedly passing over several sheets to his son when he was done. Lycoris watched them with a twinge of anger. Pollux and Alphard were supposed to be the light-hearted ones in their family, not acquiring harsh lines thanks to some piece of shit who had no respect for their world. This tosser really needs to die.

At least they were well suited for such research. Pollux was especially sensitive to magic, always had been. He could quite easily sense wards and spots where magic was highly concentrated. It had made youthful adventures of the not-so-legal variety much easier for the git. And Alphard had forever been tracking things down in his childhood home thanks to Irma being a bitch of the highest order. His mother hadn't liked his personality, so had decided to hide anything that could make him happy. What a lovely woman. What a shame she's dead. Either way, Alphard had long since honed these particular skills, hence they'd likely make an efficient team in this endeavour.

“Dorea, I'd like you to trace Riddle's movements as a Dark Lord. Not him as a person, simply as a figure,” her brother explained. “I want to know what his major movements are and where they are. He's likely gone abroad somewhat, and I know you have friends on the continent.

“Furthermore, I want you to see if you could get some detailed information on the House of Gaunt as a whole. His mother was a Gaunt, and I'm wondering if his ancestry could give us some advantage in some way.”

Such a prestigious lineage; he must be so proud. Lycoris couldn't help but wrinkle her nose. Being descended from the Gaunts meant that Riddle was extraordinarily likely to be a descendent of Salazar Slytherin, but that meant nothing, as far as she was concerned. Coming from a family that deliberately fucked their own siblings in order to keep their blood 'pure' was revolting. Some might think the Blacks were obsessed with blood purity, but the Gaunts had long since taken things to new – and disturbing – levels.

Regardless of the subject matter, Dorea would be perfect for digging up whatever information she wanted to get her hands on. She might be a Healer, someone seen as a paragon of good to others, but she was a consummate Slytherin in every way that mattered. Lyra might be Lycoris and Cassi's current disciple when it came to finding others' weakness and using them for you own benefit, but Dorea had been their original student. Now she thought about, it was no wonder that Dorea got along with Lyra as her godmother. They were kindred spirits, really.

She refocussed as Arcturus turned to Orion. “I'm not going to ask you to get into all of this in depth. I'm well aware that you want to prioritise your children, and I'm not going to disparage that. What I would like you to do is more of what you'd ordinarily be doing as preparation for taking over as Lord Black in the future. Gain as many allies as possible so that our House will be better protected.”

“Don't you want me to do anything else?” Orion asked with a heavy frown. “I might have children, but surely I could do some more than what I'm already doing?”

Alphard leaned forward, his posture something that used to send his mother into angry tirades. “It's not just allies, Ori. We know that Riddle's going to use his old friends to make a group of followers like Grindelwald did. If you can make connections with their families as well, you can probably find out all sorts that'll go a long way to helping us kill the moron.”

Orion nodded slowly, mind obviously racing as he took the offered parchment. He peered down at the list in front of him and frowned, the small crease between his brows a clear indication of what he thought of whoever was written down. Lycoris had no doubt that those names clearly denoted some spectacularly stupid individuals; who else would think that mass murder was going to solve anything?

“His muggle life is also going to help us figure out more of Riddle's personality, and his likely future actions. Marius, I'd like you to investigate Riddle's muggle life.” Arcturus handed over some notes to their Squib cousin. “When I tell the others about a new Dark Lord, I'll be getting Cedrella to join you. I don't doubt that the two of you will be well suited to the task.”

It made sense, she thought. Both were lawyers, even if Marius worked exclusively in the muggle world. Cedrella sometimes helped out on muggle cases too, so the two of them would create quite the effective investigative team. And Cedrella's magic would go a long way to assisting when muggle procedures wouldn't grant them access to everything they needed.

“The only thing left would be a broad study into soul magics as a whole. I'll ask Lucretia to look into that when I meet her tomorrow.” Arcturus heaved a sigh before up and gazing at each of them in turn. “That should be everything before we can deal with the problem for good.”

There was silence in the wake of her brother's proclamation and Lycoris resisted the urge to sigh herself. What a ridiculous situation they'd found themselves in. Not that she was going to blame Lyra or anything. It wasn't the poor girl's fault that some imbecile had decided to ruin the world for some rather nonsensical ideals. Lycoris was rather grateful that Lyra had opened her mouth at all, truthfully. She didn't want to think about what her young niece might have done if she'd kept silent. Lyra always liked to shoulder everything herself, but this was far too widespread to do so. They all had to band together if they were to get anything done.

It was the whole House of Black against their enemies. There would never be any divide.


She looked up at Alphard's voice, opening her mouth to question the man before something appeared on the table. The older woman's gaze pierced into the heirloom in front of her, silver eyes studying ever inch of the thing that would no doubt change their perceptions even more than they already had.

Rough stone carefully crafted into the rounded shape required, a circular inscription of assorted runes going around the edges, the mystifying depths drawing her in via her innate curiosity …

The Pensieve was a warning all by itself.

Alphard cleared his throat. “Lyra said that it would be best for all of you to witness her life before, including the memories of how she learned about Riddle. They're … not nice, in any sense of the word. She's also asked that nobody go rushing off to kill anyone that may be alive at the current time.” His blank face turned to each of them in turn so that they all understood the seriousness of the situation. Lycoris wasn't happy to see that expression. “Lyra's life as Harry was awful, but I'd like to ask that you don't treat her any differently than before. That part of her life's over now, though you will see just why she's so independent now.”

With that, Alphard stood up and left the room. Arcturus followed with a quiet “I'll see you all later”, leaving the rest of the room's occupants to stare at the stone bowl with trepidation evident in their silver eyes.

Lycoris stood up and walked around the table, stopping next to Pensieve to stare down into the swirling memories of her precocious little niece. If Lyra had the courage to give up these incredibly personal moments from her previous life, then they could all find the courage to dive into them to help her.

“Well, there's no going back from here, is there?” she murmured.

A hand landed on her shoulder and squeezed lightly. She turned around to see a look of grim empathy gracing Pollux's face. They nodded at each other before reaching for the Pensieve, pulling it closer so everyone else could crowd around the bowl together.

She took a deep breath and peered at her kin. They all gave her a brief nod before reaching forward as one.

Her hand touched the surface and she fell.

Merlin, I hope this isn't as bad as I'm imagining.

Lyra sighed and flopped down onto her bed, heedless of the sheets of parchment that went flying through the air.

This is complete and utter bollocks.

Tom bloody Riddle was out there somewhere doing who only knows what, yet here she was acting like a studious little schoolgirl. She should be doing something to help, not focussing on a bunch of classes that she knew like the back of her hand. She felt useless.

Lyra groaned and rolled over on her back, ignoring the crinkling sound of her summer homework from underneath her. A simple charm would fix that easily enough. The teenager – and she still couldn't believe that she was thirteen again; things went quickly when she didn't pay enough attention – could admit, at least to herself, that she was wary of how her older relatives were going to react to the revelations of her past life.

Two days ago, Granddad Arcturus had told those who were being told the full truth, and yesterday he'd let the others in the family know that there was a crazy twat running around as a Dark Lord. Lyra had a feeling that being told that there was a dumbass messing with the very laws of magic was going to light a fire under everyone's arses.

Not that she could blame the likely reactions. Tom was a fucking idiot, end of. While she could admit that a part of her still felt bad for his childhood self, that ship had sailed too along ago to do anything about it. He'd had plenty of opportunities to turn away from his moral deviations, yet he'd clung to his murderous ways with a childlike glee. And for what? Respect from a bunch of bigoted arseholes? Power thanks to destroying the sanctity of Magic? Wariness from potential allies because his pride was as flimsy as tissue paper? He was an idiot.

No wonder the prat never went to Ravenclaw.

She shook off her thoughts before she worked her way up to a fury that would only be solved through a vicious duel. Not that she wasn't familiar with the feeling; Gin had always delighted in winding Harry up until the couple descended into explosive fights that would leave various rooms of their home in desperate need of renovation. (Kreacher had moaned about it enough, but Lyra had seen him grin enough to know he'd quite enjoyed it. It turned out that a Kreacher without insanity was something of an interior designer, and he had good taste. Harry's home had always looked brilliant.)

Lyra pulled herself up into a sitting position and grabbed the letter next to her. She peered down at it again and scowled for something like the fiftieth time that day.

“… unprecedented stress on a child such as yourself … would be best to remain within a young girl's limits … perhaps after graduation …”

The letter was signed by Headmaster Dippet, but Lyra wasn't an idiot. This had Dumbledore written all over it. The piece of shit that was her current Defence Professor simply didn't like her, all because she was a Black. Well, she conceded to herself, it might have also been because she reminded him of a young Tom Riddle. Not that that was any reason to be such a discriminatory bastard.

All she'd wanted to do was take more classes than was common, and to possibly take some OWLs earlier than was normal. Hermione might have been the only one from their class to do so in her old life, but it certainly wasn't a rare occurrence. It wasn't common, but it did happen, hence why the Ministry had several rules and regulations in place for a situation wherein a student's timetable was overloaded.

Dippet didn't have much of a problem with her – Lyra's obvious closeness with her Gryffindor cousins had gone a long way to ensuring she didn't look like a prejudiced bitch – but he did have a problem, that being holding Dumbledore's 'advice' to a ridiculously high standard.

If the Deputy didn't want her taking any extra classes, then she wouldn't be.

Unless … Lyra swung her legs off the bed and strode to her desk, rifling through various school-related correspondence. Need to write back to Nicholas … Bloody hell, Patricia, give me a break … Where is – ah, here we are. Lyra studied the letter in her hand before a lazy smirk painted itself across her face, her eyes glinting with wicked glee.

Good old Slughorn.

Horace Slughorn was a consummate Slytherin in how he was ambitious, cunning in the ways he created connections, and maintained them to make himself look better. However, he did help all students regardless of blood purity, House, or political faction. It was one of the few things that Lyra respected him for. The rotund man also did all he could to help students that wanted to advance, and seeing as Slytherin was unfairly judged by a great number of other people in the castle, the Potions Master often went to great lengths to assist the snakes with their school ambitions.

Another benefit was how Riddle wasn't a well-known problem at this point in time. Slughorn didn't currently have any reason to fear for his life, didn't worry that he'd done something monumentally stupid that would throw their world into disarray. Which, he had done something idiotic, but Lyra knew full well that Tom would have simply gotten the information elsewhere even if Slughorn hadn't spilled his guts. Her professor wasn't really to blame for Tom Riddle's psychological disorders and resulting behaviours.

Anyway, if there was one man that could help her with taking extra classes, it was Slughorn. Of course, she could simply ask Granddad Arcturus to waltz into the school and terrify the Headmaster into submission, but that was a little too obvious for Lyra's liking. She was quite enjoying the Slytherin methods of subtlety in this life.

To be fair, Lyra knew that she could probably go the Ministry right now and take enough OWLs to graduate and leave school, but doing something that would let anyone other than her family know about her previous life would likely end in her abduction and subsequent death at the hands of The Department of Mysteries. Harry had worked with the crazy fuckers enough as an Auror to know that you did not draw their attention if you could help it.

As Lyra jotted down some notes so she could send a letter to the Head of Slytherin, she heard footsteps coming from downstairs. The teenager paused and carefully laid down her quill, slowly drawing her wand as she stood up. Wards or not, you never knew who could potentially end up in your house if they tried enough.

She crept out of her bedroom and down the hallway, back to the wall the entire way. Lyra was grateful for her silenced slippers as she slowly stepped down the wide, open staircase. The sounds were coming from the kitchen now, and Lyra silently took a deep breath to calm herself.

There were two voices coming from the kitchen, both vaguely familiar to the girl. She knew it was incredibly likely that they were two members of her family, but after living such an insane life as Harry had, Lyra was never in the mood for not exercising caution. She'd rather her relatives think her to be a paranoid bastard than end up six feet under.

(She'd always had her priorities straight, no matter what her batshit ex-wife had said.)

“Lyra? Are you there?”

Definitely paranoid. Lyra closed her eyes and resisted the urge to facepalm, her shoulders instantly losing their tension as she recognised the female voice. The angry muttering of the man – complete with very specific curses to that particular individual – gave away his identity, too. Lyra felt like laughing hysterically at how panicked she could get, so much so that she failed to identify her own relatives.

She shook her head and slipped her wand back into the holster on her arm. A small smile appeared on Lyra's face as she walked towards the door and pushed it open, making her way into the warm kitchen. It was bizarre that less than a week ago she'd revealed so many earth-shattering secrets, information that had the capability to send history down an entirely unprecedented course into an unknown future. Yet just last night, she and her father had spent hours together making spaghetti from scratch, stomachs aching from laughing at their disastrous attempts. This room had seen so many things over the past thirteen years.

And now her godparents were here, smiling ever so gently at her.

“Lyra.” A single word was all that was said before Dorea was gathering her in her arms, pulling her in close to her chest. It was nothing like Molly's affectionate attempts to suffocate Harry, or when Narcissa had begun to gently encircle her arms around her son's friend, but it was amazing all the same.

She could feel a slight lump in her throat as the older witch pressed a kiss to the top of her head. After her father and adoptive grandfather, Lyra's godparents were the ones she'd been most worried about in terms of them accepting her. Seeing them, feeling their love for her, it was clear that she'd been worried for nothing. Perhaps after all the crappy luck that Harry had had in terms of family, the universe was giving her a break in that regard. She didn't know if that was true, or if there was another magical reason, but Lyra felt far too blessed to question it.

Having a family had always been her dream, past life or present.

A broader hand was on her shoulder, its presence drawing her attention from the warm embrace. She turned around and looked up at Uncle Orion, returning his smile with ease. Even with the faintly troubled look in his eyes, he didn't look too traumatised. As far as she was concerned, it would have been monumentally cruel to donate her memory of Sirius dying for him to view. It might have been a different version of his son, but it still would have been a memory of his son being killed by his own cousin.

No parent needed to see their own child die.

Orion repeated Dorea's movements, drawing her into his body and holding her tightly. She buried herself into her godfather's chest and inhaled deeply, relaxing at the familiar scent of musky cologne. It was a relief to be able to knock down the walls between them without any distance rising from the rubble. She'd never wanted to be in a position where she lied to her loved ones, even if it was necessary. Though not everyone was now aware of the truth, Lyra felt like she could breathe a little easier. (She'd always tried to handle everything herself, hadn't she? Gin would kill her if she could.)

Lyra pulled back and peered up at both of her godparents. “What are you doing here?”

Orion snorted. “Alphards's stuck in a meeting with a ridiculously pretentious customer, so he won't be able to come home for lunch. The girls are with my mother, and everyone else is arguing in the manor's library.” The man met her eyes and smirked. “The three of us are only safe ones right now.”

She grinned and giggled slightly. Her imagination was more than adequate as a picture for what was possibly occurring in their library at the current time. Their family had always been a bunch of insanity-riddled prats.

Dorea raised a brow as if she could read Lyra's mind, and the girl shot her a cheeky grin in response. The woman didn't comment, but the eye roll was more than enough for Lyra to understand her godmother's sentiment. It was rather entertaining, truth be told.

“In any case, the elves have been preparing some food for the garden, so let's go out, shall we?”

Lyra was a soul that wasn't far off a century old, she'd been the subject of a dodgy prophecy that had ruined her life, and she'd fought in a war and killed a Dark Lord at the age of seventeen. She'd been an Auror, the youngest ever Director of The Department of Magical Law Enforcement, a father and a husband. Her life had gone through so many ups and down over the years, and now she was a daughter, a precious child that was doted on by her family, an intelligent girl to be respected.

She was far too old to be feeling childish emotions, but the pained part of her mind that she usually buried was something that still craved affection and care. In this moment, she wasn't a weary reborn soul, she was thirteen-year-old Lyra Ophelia Black, and she was on cloud nine thanks to the acceptance of her family.

Lyra looked up at the two adults and beamed widely.

The party of three made their way to the garden where they spent a couple of hours eating amazing food, laughing about the antics of their relatives, and scheming on how to get Lyra what she wanted for school. There was no mention of Tom Riddle, the upcoming war, or anything even remotely serious.

If this wasn't proof that there was something to look forward to after Tom was taken care of, she didn't know what was.

Lyra laughed at the affronted look on Uncle Orion's face as Aunt Dorea mocked his inability to brew a decent sobering potion, remembering the usual effects of the man's drunken state. She smiled to herself, soaking in the happy atmosphere.

The House of Black was going to get through this. She knew it.