Malfoy Manor in Wiltshire, England was a testament to the old Powers. Home of the ever-pure Malfoy family since they had left their native France, it had passed down the line father to son, occasionally father to daughter until it came into the hands of what many purebloods thought was its greatest Lord, Lucius, son of Abraxas. Abraxas had been a powerful old Lord as well, tempered however with signs of madness.
Madness that had restricted the Malfoy line down to one living male heir, not a situation most Lords wished to be in. Most of the Old Blood planned for at least two children (hopefully sons), an heir and a spare, to put it bluntly. Wars, disease or old feuds often claimed the life of an heir before they were able to inherit, if not then the second child was provided for with as much dignity as the first, though not with the same wealth, naturally. Second sons often proved to be a credit to their lines, rising beyond that of the heir through hard work, guile and plenty of motivation.
However, there was only one heir to the Malfoy line, that he was alive at all was a credit to the Lady Malfoy, Narcissa Druella Malfoy nee Black. The loveliest of the late Cygnus Black’s daughters, the match was one that had the Old Blood families salivating as they anticipated the next generation, along with the match of the rich Old Blood Black family to House Lestrange, considered the last of the top tier families, though that had been for naught.
The horror that had run through the Old Blood society at hearing that Bellatrix Black was not only insane due to her Aunt the Lady Walburga but barren as well had nearly been compounded as the elite society held its breath upon hearing rumours that Abraxas Malfoy had hit his daughter-in-law, pregnant no less, with a Cruciatus Curse, starting early labor. The collective sigh of relief when the papers announced the early arrival of a healthy male Heir was complicated with slight fears that perhaps the Malfoy line was going to die out. Whispers had begun to be circulated that according to Healers, Narcissa would not be able to carry another child thanks to her father-in-law.
The Old Blood had celebrated when the Malfoy Heir reached his first year and was introduced to the public, a miniature of his proud sire with the mercurial grey eyes of the Black family. Little Draco was watched and admired from afar even as shrewd Lords only gifted with daughters began to imagine betrothal contracts, ready to offer them to Lucius when Draco was five, as was customary. With the loss of the Lord, Lady and Spare to the Black family Draco became more precious, an Heir to the Blacks as well, the tempestuous Heir Black sentenced to Azkaban for life for some truly heinous crimes.
Draco was watched with pride from afar by the Old Blood society he was born into as he started Hogwarts, sorted into Slytherin naturally like the vast majority of his family. His pride and elegance admired, his composure complimented even as his youthful antics were waved off with indulgent chuckles, for whom among the Old Blood could say that they had not gotten into a few mishaps in their childhood years?
Draco was well known to be the only Heir to two Old Blood lines, thus the confusion when word came that the Malfoys were putting out feelers for marriage contracts. Draco had been betrothed at five as was the norm to either of the Lord Greengrass’ daughters, a coup indeed considering how many of the Old Blood had sent potential contracts to the Lord Malfoy. So, another contract being sought was confusing indeed, polyamorous relationships were not the done thing and the wording of the Malfoy’s missive made clear that it was not for Draco, their son and Heir.
And then word began to spread at the end of Draco’s sixth year. Rumor gained swift wings and spread amongst the Old Blood and hesitant hope began to rise again. A pureblood Heir. A male pureblood heir, rich in family magics. A Black Heir, of the direct line. Legitimate no less, not a bastard. An Old Ways bonding kept private for safety, resulting in a richly gifted, powerful son.
Around the British Isles word spread, whispers reached farther than any paper. Many eyes focused on Malfoy Manor, hope arising once again. Hope and curiosity, centered around one thought. Who?
Narcissa Black stood proudly in the public parlor of her elegant old home, hands clasped lightly together in front of her. Her long, fine hair fell over her left shoulder in an elegant twist, appearance as refined as always in a feminine black and silver houndstooth A-line skirt and silver blouse with a tailored black suit jacket. Any member of the Old Blood would immediately recognize the colors alone, for they were the Black Family’s and none but a Black would wear just black and silver. It was just not done.
Her husband stood next to her in cream summer-weight cotton slacks and a blue silk shirt with solitaire diamond cufflinks. As Lord of House Malfoy he would be here to witness the coming meeting, as her husband he wouldn’t have been anywhere else. The barest edge of a faint silvery mark could be seen on her husband’s forearm, causing a triumphant feeling to well up once again in Narcissa’s heart.
The Dark Lord was dead. Against all odds, all expectations to the contrary, Harry Potter had indeed been the one to best the Dark Lord. In front of a crowd of witnesses including the now former Minister of Magic, Cornelius Fudge. The untrained sixteen-year-old wizard had somehow managed to throw the Dark Lord out of his mind and follow him into his own, destroying him from the inside out and reducing him to fragments of pure magic. The sheer power necessary, from one who hadn’t even reached his majority yet!
All of the Old Blood families who had relatives sworn into the madman’s service by their ancestors breathed a great sigh of relief as clean-up began. Restoring family wealth and social status as well as beginning the long haul of repairing their family image in the eyes of the general public. The Old Blood had been dealt a great service by Harry Potter, whether he knew it or not they owed him debts to varying degrees. As he was a half-blood, none were obligated to tell him so.
Their public Floo flared to life, Narcissa flicking her eyes to the massive mahogany grandfather clock ticking in the corner. 5 minutes to the 11th hour, on the dot. Their guests were nothing if not punctual, a tick in their favor. The meeting had been arranged for eleven, but to arrive at the hour would be uncouth, social greetings would take at least five minutes. As their guests were from yet another Old Blood family the social niceties were as ingrained into them as it was into Lucius and Narcissa, they would do nothing less.
First to exit the Floo was a man with rich gold-brown eyes and brown hair, looking much improved over the last time Narcissa had seen him. He had slightly more raw-looking features then the refined elegance of Lucius and Narcissa, his blood full of tribal kings and mingled Roman descendants. He stepped forward without so much as a moment of hesitation from the Floo, reaching out to clasp Lucius’ forearm and greeting him warmly.
He turned to Narcissa, a glimmer of amusement in his eyes and bowed gracefully, taking her proffered hand and kissing the back of it in a refined motion. “Lady Malfoy, thank you for being so gracious as to open your home for our meeting.”
“You are most welcome, Rabastan,” Narcissa replied, remaining as refined and poised as always. For her companion was none other than Rabastan Aurelius Lestrange, younger son of Janus Aurelius Lestrange, peer to the late, unmissed Abraxas Malfoy and still the Lord of House Lestrange, despite his advancing age.
The Floo, still active, flared again, admitting the man Narcissa had just been thinking about. Despite being well past seventy winters, Lord Janus Lestrange was still a distractingly-handsome man, rich gold-brown eyes he shared with his younger son crowned with dark silver hair that had been a rich black in his youth. He, along with his peers Abraxas Malfoy and Orion Black had been the talk of Old Blood society in his youth, many a marriage contract had been sent their way and graciously turned down.
Abraxas Malfoy had settled on refined, beautiful Belladonna Elpis Delacroix as his bride, going back to the Malfoy’s native France for his marriage. Orion Black had been pushed, pulled and finally forced by his controlling sire Antares to take his second cousin, Walburga Black as his bride, a marriage that had not been a pleasant one from the start.
Janus Lestrange had found his bride while serving in the International Confederation of Wizards at nearly age forty, something that had given the Old Blood of England and across the world fits of worry as he was yet another Heir and then Lord without a sibling in case of something happening. That his bride was a beautiful, elegant pureblood woman of Italy named Ceres Alagona was a salve to their anxious nerves that was only calmed with the birth of his Heir as a peer to Orion Black’s eldest son instead of Lucius Malfoy if his father had married younger as expected.
Orion Black’s Heir had been born late in his marriage, a topic of gossip amongst Old Blood families. Gossip had been confirmed by the new Lord Black himself. In revenge for forcing his marriage to a woman he detested, Orion had delayed siring an Heir until his own Sire had died, denying the man the honor of seeing the future generation of the Black line. That he had bothered with lying with the woman again, siring his spare as was expected gained him much respect amongst the Old Blood. Only he and Janus Lestrange had spares in a time which was tempestuous indeed.
Janus had just finished warmly greeting Narcissa when the Floo flared once more and revealed a single figure, the flames dying to regular colors and he exited the Floo, flicking non-existent ash from an open wool outer-robe. Rodolphus Janus Lestrange, Heir to House Lestrange, widowed as of June when Narcissa’s late cousin Sirius Orion had dragged her psychopathic sister through the mysterious Veil in the Department of Mysteries. Narcissa had grieved as expected, but for the girl Bellatrix had once been, not the insane woman she had become. She had breathed a sigh of relief to have Bella away from her son and had held a heartfelt ritual for her late cousin, Heir to House Black.
Rodolphus looked well, healthy even. Narcissa approved of his much-improved body and bearing. Lord Lestrange had spared no expense to make sure both of his sons recovered from their time spent in Azkaban prison. Rodolphus had his sire’s rich black hair which fell in slightly waved strands around his face to just below his ears. His eyes were a rich, unusual violet-blue color gifted by his late mother; Ceres Lestrange having passed soon after the birth of her younger son to a virulent fever.
Rodolphus pressed a kiss to the back of her hand before straightening, the habitual half-smirk falling back onto his generous mouth once social greetings had been observed. He was distractingly good looking and he knew it, taking more of his Italian mother’s aquiline Roman features than Rabastan as well as a more olive skin tone that tanned with ease. Rumor placed the Lestrange’s as heirs to King Arthur and one could believe it looking at the aristocratic features of Rodolphus Lestrange, a clear blend of raw tribal Britannic kings and Roman refinement.
As they all took seats, Narcissa noted how well the three men across from her wore variations of their family colors, peacock blue and bronze. Vaguely reminiscent of the colors Rowena Ravenclaw had used to represent her house, though she had used sky blue and a more golden shade of bronze than the rusty shade of House Lestrange. Hands folded primly in her lap, she let her husband begin the conversation.
“Thank you, gentlemen, for your interest and willingness to meet with us here at House Malfoy, I know the curtains of privacy drawn across this contract search has confused and rebuffed many Houses. We assure you that all the privacy and secrecy predating this meeting has been necessary and are not wasting your time.”
Janus’ shrewd gaze matched Lucius’ level one as he said mildly, “Had it been any other House than Malfoy acting as a go-between for House Black, we would have joined many of our fellow Houses in denying this meeting. However, House Malfoy would have had a vested interest in remaining in control of House Black with your more-than-suitable Heir. So needless to say I am intrigued to hear what and who this Betrothal Contract is about.”
“Accurately summed, Lord Lestrange,” Narcissa replied, not taking offense, “and your honest opinion of such manners is respected and observed. As the Black representative for my cousin’s Contract, I assure you this is worth your time. Before I begin, know that all of this has been proven, no matter how outrageous and impossible it may seem. I wouldn’t have accepted anything less than Gringotts and Old Blood provided proof of my cousin’s claims.”
Rodolphus spoke for the first time outside of the formal greetings. “Certainly not, Narcissa, nor would we have expected anything else of you. For all that you are the Lady Malfoy and an exemplary one at that, you are first and foremost a Black. Considering your birth-family’s heritage, standing and wealth, it is only right that you would have a vested interest in protecting it from any pretenders.”
Narcissa inclined her head elegantly in thanks and took a steadying breath. “With your agreement, I would begin with explaining something of my cousin’s parentage, it is a tale all in its own, one I had not believed for a second until I saw the proof myself.”
“Explain as you see fit, Lady Malfoy,” Janus nodded.
“Even if I should wish for Draco to maintain control over the Black estate, it would be impossible with my cousin alive and now acknowledged. He is from the direct line, the firstborn and only child of my late cousin, Sirius Orion Black, Heir of House Black.”
Rodolphus cocked an eyebrow, both of Rabastan’s shot into his hairline and Janus blinked. Tilting his chin just a bit to the side in his only obvious sign of confusion he said, “That is surprising indeed, Narcissa. From what I remember of my few meetings with your late cousin, he did not strike me as the type to possess such guile as to hide a child from anyone, let alone his family.”
“I do not believe he actually did hide it from his sire, Lord Orion,” Narcissa said softly. “I do not know if any of you remember the memorial service my Lord Uncle held for his younger son Regulus, but Sirius was present. Walburga screamed at him after for defiling her perfect son’s funeral, but Orion cut her off and sent her home.”
“I remember that portion anyway,” Rabastan commented. “It impressed me that he would stand and take that kind of vitriol without losing his temper.”
“Afterwards Orion departed with my cousin, Apparating to some unknown location. They did not go to Grimmauld Place, Walburga was spitting her rages at the idea of Orion deigning to speak with Sirius at all. Orion returned to Grimmauld by himself sometime later, spent a brief moment in the tapestry room and then sequestered himself in his office.”
“Less than a month later, he had restored Sirius Orion Black as Heir to the Lordship of House Black and none of my Lady Aunt’s screaming rages would change his mind.”
Janus contemplated that for a moment and said, “You believe he told his sire about his Heir, perhaps introduced the babe to Orion even.”
“With the knowledge that Sirius had a son at all, that is what makes sense for a series of actions that baffled most of the Black family at the time,” Narcissa nodded. “Orion may have been disappointed in his son for running away, but he never formally disowned his eldest and was first and foremost a member of the Old Blood and the Sacred Twenty-Eight. He realized that Sirius’ son, his grandson, was the only future for a direct line of House Black.”
Rodolphus couldn’t help a slight snigger, which he was swift to explain. “Sirius was considered a blight upon his family by his mother and a giant upset for the Old Blood families for both his Sorting and his famous temper, but it appears he may have been the most cunning Black in his direct family after all.”
“With knowledge of my cousin’s birth and all of the paperwork we have been unearthing from a secret Vault Sirius owned at Gringotts, it can safely be said that Sirius Orion was the most cunning member of the Black Line, no debating necessary. Had he not died just a few weeks ago he would have been a force of magic indeed,” Lucius commented, shaking his head slightly.
At the curious looks from the Lestranges he continued, “I have been sorting through all of the paperwork he left behind in a vault under an alias at Gringotts and the sheer amount of work, foresight and ambition he displays through it all is remarkable. His Heir’s validity can’t be doubted in the slightest, there’s a paper trail going all the way back to when the pregnancy was first confirmed.”
“As well,” Narcissa said, with a voice full of admiration for the sheer cunning of her cousin, “as two witnesses to the legality of his marriage and three living witnesses to the birth and confirmation of his Heir. It’s quite incredible.”
“Sirius Black; the ultimate in pureblood preparation and Old Blood cunning,” Rodolphus quipped, before snorting incredulously. “He played everyone, including that old goat.”
“Indeed,” Lucius replied, giving Narcissa a moment to center herself at the mention of Albus Too-Many-Names Dumbledore. The depths of that man’s depravity weren’t widely known, but they would be soon enough.
“The two witnesses we mentioned previously were present at the formal Old Ways bonding ceremony performed 1st of May, 1979 between Sirius and his beloved, the Heir Consort Black.”
Narcissa dropped that bombshell on the Lestranges without so much as smirk, Lucius’ blue eyes dancing in amusement as he watched them process it and their shock as a result of it. After all, had it been a woman as they were expecting, she would have said Heir Lady Black. As she had said Heir Consort, it meant her cousin Sirius had married another man.
Janus sighed, pinched the bridge of his nose and shook his head in rueful amusement. With everything else that had been revealed about Sirius Orion Black, this should not have been a surprise.
“He was bisexual,” Rabastan said, firmly. “That’s the only explanation for it, I remember how much he chased the female populace at Hogwarts, I was two years younger after all.”
Janus sighed. “With everything else we’ve learned about the late Heir Black I would say that was deliberate, throwing suspicion away from him even being attracted to men. Merlin only knows how Walburga and some of the ancient-minded Blacks would have reacted to him finding his own gender attractive. For one of the oldest of the Sacred Twenty-Eight they certainly had their faults, one of which was blatant prejudice, which was rich considering their habit of inbreeding amongst their own family.”
Looking at Narcissa, Janus said shrewdly, “His spouse was not a Black, was it?”
Narcissa smirked. “No, he was not. Pureblood, Old Blood, there is some Black in his line but he wasn’t closely related to Sirius. Apparently, my cousin didn’t just take Muggle Studies to irritate his mother, he was actually paying attention. Muggles have proven amongst dogs, horses and people that close inbreeding amongst related family members weakens future generations, producing less and less talent. He correctly realized that this likely applied to Magic as well and married a man with generous helpings of outside Blood. His Heir as a result was born an exceptionally powerful individual, showing first signs of accidental magic at only several months of age.”
All three Lestrange’s sucked in a breath in surprise as Janus breathed, “The power in that child!”
“Indeed, and he still is a remarkably powerful individual for all his youth. It will be interesting to see when he reaches his Majority in August,” Lucius commented.
Janus appeared to be thinking, gold-brown eyes dark in concentration. Narcissa watched the brilliant older Lord’s eyes practically whirl with color and intelligence as he sorted through what they had been already told. If in a moment he didn’t outright say the name Narcissa hadn’t mentioned yet she would be very surprised. A bit longer of a pause and a sudden sharp inhale of breath had both Rodolphus and Rabastan turning to look at their father, obviously caught off-guard by the shocked realization in his eyes.
“Harry Potter,” he said, with alarming firmness, “Harry Potter is actually Sirius Orion Black’s son, his spouse was James Charlus Potter.”
Rodolphus and Rabastan’s eyes widened in surprise and they turned to Narcissa, still sitting poised and elegant in her chair. A chuckle caught them off-guard and they looked to their friend, spotting Lucius giving his wife a small smile, rich blue eyes warm with amusement. “It seems, darling, I owe you that dinner and play after all. I had thought it would take Janus a few more hints to get to the truth.”
“Harry Potter, the one who defeated the Dark Lord the same day his Father died, was born Harrigan Orion Black, son of Heir Lord Sirius Orion Black and his much beloved Heir Consort James Charlus Potter-Black on 1st August, 1980,” Narcissa said softly in lieu of agreeing.
“He has been controlled and manipulated most of his life by Albus Dumbledore ever since the original downfall of the Dark Lord in 1981, my cousin illegally and without trial imprisoned in Azkaban and unable to do a thing to protect his son from the manipulations of an old man.”
“He had been communicating with his son for the past two years however, ever since the Dark Lord recovered corporeal form at the end of the Triwizard Tournament. Harrigan is grief-stricken, angry and out for revenge. He wants away from Albus Dumbledore and knows, thanks to his sire’s covert education of the Old Blood and Wizarding Law, that the best option for immediate removal from his current situation is marriage. He requested that I represent his interests and seek out male Old Blood Lords or Heirs that would desire a male Black Consort.”
“He currently is in Muggle London, forced there by Dumbledore for his ‘protection’, despite the fact that he isn’t actually related to Lily Evans’ family. We will be retrieving him soon and escorting him to Gringotts, where he will be able to take control of his estates since he was legally emancipated by our former Minister and the Headmaster as of the Triwizard Tournament. Should you consider the idea of a Black spouse palatable still, it would be ideal for you to meet us at Gringotts,” Lucius said.
“Should you be interested in enacting a formal Betrothal Contract with Heir Lord Harrigan Orion Potter-Black, which of you would be willing to enter the contract?”
There was only a moment’s pause, a couple of heartbeats before Rodolphus’ habitual half-smirk evolved into a full one and his unusual eyes glinted as he said, “I would, and I think I speak for my father as well when we say we are very interested.”