King of Swamp Castle: "One day, lad, all this will be yours."
Prince Herbert: "What, the curtains?"
-Monty Python and the Holy Grail
"It means he gave them a load of gold," said Sirius contemptuously, throwing the medal into the rubbish sack.
-Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
I - 1930
THE DAILY PROPHET
An excerpt from Claudius Cuffe's article: "PUREBLOOD DIRECTORY CAUSES CHAOS!"
...yet, not all families included in this list of so-called 'Sacred Twenty-Eight' were pleased with the publicity. "The Black family has never relied on anonymous pamphlets to understand and preserve our heritage," said Mr. Sirius Black, 53, speaking from the cigar room at the Aethonan Club in London last night. "I would encourage due diligence from all wizards attempting to use this resource." Mr. Black, who is active in philanthropic and scholarly circles, controls one of the country's oldest and largest fortunes and is related to many of the other families noted in the book. (See "Directory" continued on p. 13)
II - 1936
Côte d'Azur, France
The S.S. Nefertari has briefly docked and I wanted to make sure I could owl this card. Please accept my belated b'day wishes & know I would be there if I could—promise the presents will be v. lavish when I get back. As one could guess, Father would like me to "lie low" for a bit (as if it's my fault Paschalis was a cheating scumbag, ha!). I suppose I should count my lucky stars they won't disown me, but I have always been Father's favourite. Mother says this is what I get for not marrying some good old English wizard, but now I'm free and richer than ever on settlement money, so I suppose she who laughs last laughs best.
I will continue this cruise for a few more months w/ every intention of being back for your debut (as long as you can tolerate being seen w/ a divorcée!). I am quite tan & will horrify our Grandmama. Give my kisses to Arcturus, Reggie, Pollux & Cass.
Love from yr. cousin,
P.S. Heard about your new beau—a Potter, really? Aren't they very nearly liberals?
III - 1940
Ravenscroft Hall, Somerset
"This is the bloody end of the road, Pollux." When he was angry, which he often was, a vein pulsed at the top of Arcturus's forehead.
By the fireplace, Pollux yawned, one hand running through a head of artfully tousled dark hair, the other spinning a bespoke hat. "You, my dear cousin, are no fun today."
"And you'll be less fun when I cut you off," Arcturus hissed. "You have no idea what it takes to maintain your spendthrift lifestyle, and for Salazar's sake, what kind of moron bets that much on Thestral races? Thestrals! You can't see the bloody things! And your parade of whores is out of hand at this point. Have a little discretion! You. Have. Children."
"Right, and your massive expenses, those are so bloody reasonable! The Knights of Walpurgis. An endowed Black family scholarship for the insane here, another Rembrandt for the gallery there, here Minister, have another bag of gold or I could just keep sucking your—"
Arcturus's hands slammed onto the desk, eyes narrowed with disgust. "You are a drunk embarrassment, Pollux Black."
Pollux bowed mockingly. "Guilty as charged."
IV - 1949
An excerpt from Brunhilda Sayre's "SOCIETY SNITCH" column
...I would be amiss not to specifically mention the return of the dashing Cygnus Black from the continent, with several international duelling titles in tow. It is supposed that Mr. Black is back just to be present for the party of the year—celebrating, of course, the engagement of his sister Walburga Black to their second cousin Orion Black.
This reporter briefly wondered if Mr. Black was here only to claim the title of most eligible bachelor, but sources say he spent the entire evening captivated by charming debutante Druella Rosier. Considering what we all know about the state of the Rosier family's vault (see last week's Snitch for details about the woes of financier Evander Roiser), Miss Rosier could quite literally have found a portkey to endless Galleons. In other words: en garde, ladies!
V - 1972
Ted Tonks's studio flat, London
"Did you get dinner?" Andromeda asked breathlessly, stepping out of the fireplace and throwing herself onto the creaking futon.
"Takeaway curry and it's the best damn—what are you wearing?" Ted, hands laden with dishes, stopped and gawked.
Andromeda winced and began to peel off her elbow-length silk gloves. "Er, I was at the opera. I couldn't escape until the intermission," she added defensively. "But look, I've brought all this!"
A velvet pouch rested in her lap, and one by one she began to remove pieces of jewelry: black pearl earrings, a sapphire brooch the size of a small egg, a choker of rubies shaped like teardrops. Ted went pale.
"They're all mine," she said flatly. "I quadruple-checked, none of it is Black family heirlooms. It was all made for me or given to me. D'you think it's enough for the down payment? You can take it to some muggle appraisers."
"Sure," he said, mouth dry. "Yeah."
"I tried to see what else I could get. I can't access my trust fund without Papa seeing the transactions and I know there's some real estate in my name but there's no way to get at it. I know you don't like this... but it's best to prepare for the worst."
He set the plates down on the tiny table and sat beside her, an arm tentatively reaching out to encircle her shoulders. "Right. And it's possible they'll come 'round when they find out, anyway. It's their grandkid too, yeah?"
Andromeda closed her eyes and sighed. The baby already had fingers; she wondered if the baby also had its father's loving, loyal, stupidly optimistic heart.
VI - 1976
Law Offices of Avery & Avery, Esq., London
Avery: "Now that we're all seated, I just wanted to express our immense gratitude that the Black family continues to place its trust in Avery & Avery to—"
Walburga: "Let's just get on with it."
Avery: "Very well."
THE LAST WILL AND TESTAMENT OF ALPHARD BLACK
I, Alphard Pollux Black of London, England, being sound of mind and body, revoke all former wills and testamentary dispositions heretofore made by me and declare this to be my last Will.
Specific Legacies of Personal Property
- To my niece Bellatrix BLACK LESTRANGE, I bequeath my 13th century Kamakura Katana and express the hope that she will display this sword and not use it.
(Druella: Oh, for Merlin's sake. He's always encouraging her to be her worst self, even from beyond the grave. )
- To my niece Narcissa BLACK MALFOY, I bequeath my small collection of ancient celadon porcelain, as I know she will take better care of it than I ever did.
- To my nephew Regulus BLACK, I bequeath my first-edition copy of Agrippa's "De occulta philosophia libri tres."
(Regulus: Wow. )
Legacies of Real Property
- I give and bequeath my property in DARJEELING, India, and all contents within this hundred-acre estate to my dear friend and companion of the past twenty years, Mr. Jean-Luc BONACCORD.
(Narcissa: Uncle Alphard had an estate in India? )
(Cygnus: 'Friend and companion'? )
Legacies of Shares and Specific Cash Legacies
- I bequeath my 1,000,000 Ptolemy & Sons Ltd shares to my niece Andromeda BLACK TONKS, and hope this will allow her to better provide for herself, her husband, and her daughter.
(Rodolphus: Well. Bella will love this. )
- I transfer ownership of my personal Gringotts vault, No. 711, and bequeath its remaining contents to my nephew Sirius BLACK, and hope he will use this money in fashions both responsible and deeply irresponsible.
(Walburga: "EXCUSE ME?!")
SIGNED by ALPHARD POLLUX BLACK
VII - 1978
The Avalon Club, London
"And anyway, I can't just take nine months off. Dolph and I are far too busy. There is a war going on, if you've forgotten."
Irma Black set down the scone and pressed a napkin to the corners of her mouth. "Bellatrix, your obstinacy is ridiculous. It's been years. The point of you two getting married was to ensure the continuation of some of this country's oldest bloodlines."
Bella smirked. "Merlin, you're so mercenary today, Grandmother."
(The point of getting married is being drawn to someone like a magnet. The point is to burn the world down and build it anew. The point is to stand together, partners, at our Lord's right hand. As if you would understand any of that, you stupid old woman.)
"I'm just trying to speak a language you'll understand. You're the one always talking about duty! Imagine if that fortune went to those French cousins..." A shudder. "The Lestrange line must be secured, child."
"Rabastan will have children," Bella said dismissively. She chuckled: "Merlin help that woman, whoever she turns out to be!"
VIII - 1992
Malfoy Manor, Wiltshire
Dear Mr. and Mrs. Malfoy,
We would like to confirm a withdrawal made on September 4 from your family vault for seven (7) Nimbus Two-Thousand and One broomsticks. As you are aware, with the increase of identity theft in this day and age, we at Gringotts Bank take pride in our additional security measures. Please respond to this owl to confirm that this transaction is valid.
IX - 1999
12 Grimmauld Place, London
"You know I would've signed it over for free," Harry checked his watch, voice low as to not disturb Walburga's portrait.
Draco looked up from signing the hovering parchment, eyes narrow. "Like I said, Potter, we don't need your charity. There, it's done."
Harry rocked back on the heels of his trainers, surveying the crumbling walls for what he fervently hoped was the very last time. "What are you even going to do with the place? Move in? Open a shop and sell chips?"
"Mother just wants to keep it in the family. After her I suppose it'll be mine, and then passed on…"
Harry shook his head. "Some heirloom."
Draco shrugged. "I didn't think you'd understand."