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Chaos, Imperium, Scientiae

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The Headmaster's office was cluttered with shiny objects and untouched books, cozy armchairs straight out of the Gryffindor common room. Harry, Hermione, and Ron sat stiff-backed in such chairs, appearing at ease but with strained, bland smiles and hard eyes to those who cared to notice. Dumbledore, as he was quick to underestimate them, did not.

"Are you sure you three have nothing more to report to me?" Dumbledore asked, glasses slipping down his face and blue eyes peering into each of theirs. The Golden Trio continued smiling blandly, none of them avoiding his eyes and allowing him to slip inside their heads.

He looked almost displeased when he gleaned nothing more from the three, and dismissed them with the usual, "If you need to talk my door is always open..you can trust me."

Harry stood first and walked out of the Headmaster's office, Hermione and Ron close on his heels. The heavy door swung shut behind them, and the strained smiles on their faces smoothed out, the in-sync trio ensuring no one was nearby before speaking.

"You can trust me," Ron mimicked, "I absolutely don't view you as little more than chess pieces."

Hermione snorted, giving him a sideways look. "Careful Ron, you're sounding like a hypocrite."

"My manipulation is nothing like that bumbling idiots! I simply let people underestimate me and slip them little suggestions until I have them exactly where I want them. Manipulation’s more Harry's thing," he denied, looking indignant, although the corners of his mouth quirk.

Harry glanced at them out of the corner of his eyes, twisting his head slightly to see where they obediently followed him. "Manipulation is an art to be respected. Dumbledore is not a fool for it, it's his penchant for child soldiers and turning a blind eye to abuse and mistreatment that make him deplorable. His quickness to demonize anything he disagrees with, his own hypocrisy and lack of morals...the list goes on. But not his manipulation, nor his grandfatherly facade. After all..we do the s-"

"Children! Is there a reason you are wandering the halls after dinner?" Professor Sprout asked, looking both stern and concerned as she stumbled across them. Immediately, all three changed. Hermione straightened, looking nervous and grasping her bag. Ron slouched, shoving his hands in his pockets and adapting a carefree expression. Harry blinked at her, looking apologetic and polite.

"Sorry, Professor, the Headmaster called us into his office, something about discussing future career paths..?" Hermione answered, biting her lip.

"How odd, Heads of Houses are supposed to hold those meetings, and usually one at a time..." Professor Sprout pondered, brow furrowing but no suspicion was aimed at them. Her hands twist into her robes, eyes sweeping over them.

"You know the Headmaster; he likes to oversee those he takes an interest in personally," Harry explained, and Professor Sprout nodded a few times.

"That must be it. Well, hurry back to your dorms. Curfew is soon," she agreed, before bustling off again, presumably towards the Hufflepuff dorms.

The three relaxed once more and continued on. Once her footsteps have faded into soft echos, they continued speaking.

"Have we everything for the ritual tonight?" Harry asked casually.

Ron brightened, a twinkle of madness in his eye. "The Chamber is set up mostly, and Hermione has a bag filled with anything else we need."

Hermione nodded. "Everything has been taken care of. We'll lounge in the Common Room with the others briefly, head up to bed, and slip back out when they're asleep. As usual."

"Ah, but this isn't our usual type of ritual. This one is much more fun."

"Mmm, fun but dangerous, Harry."

"Don't be such a wet blanket, Hermione. I know what I'm doing. This isn't my first olde ritual, not by a long shot." Ron laughed, knocking his shoulder with hers. She sent him a dark glare, and he was lucky that's all she did.

They were greeted in Gryffindor warmly, "friends" of theirs ushering them to the sitting area. Ron quickly got roped into a game of chess. Others tried to converse with Harry, but he excused himself with the excuse of homework, sitting next to Hermione on a couch to do so. The fire roared warmly, and the atmosphere was warm and comfortable, but none of the three were quick to forget the doubt, fear, and hatred their housemates have shown them in the past. So while they played nice, every smile hid sharp teeth and poisonous thoughts. Eventually, they were able to bashfully bow out to bed, where after a short exchange of glances they locked themselves behind their curtained beds and wait.

The Chamber of Secrets was dark and gloomy, dripping water echoing around them. They had cleaned it up since second year, fixed the flooding and set aside an area for Ron to practice rituals and make sacrifices. The ground was bloodstained by now and saturated in dark magic. Hermione sniffed at it in distaste, not a stranger to blood but not a fan of the gory work Ron did down here.

A softly pulsing pentagram and runes were surrounded by flickering candles, distorting the teens' features as they stood around it. There was no need for a sacrifice during this ritual due to the actual sacrifices they offered to their chosen gods on a routine basis, but they were all freshly scrubbed and wearing flimsy black robes that swirled around their bodies and bare feet.

The candles reflected off Harry's glasses and illuminated the clustered freckles on Ron, glinted off their athame and the rings on Hermione's fingers.

Hermione walked slowly around the circle, burning herbs as Ron passed Harry the athame and knelt. Harry twirled the blade around his hands, watching with glee as Ron started lowly chanting, Latin smooth and familiar on the ginger's tongue. Harry sliced his thumb deeply and waited as Hermione walked close to him.

He cradled her face with his unharmed hand and drew the rune for Knowledge on her forehead, the runes for Change and Success on each cheek, and trailing his fingers down her dark skin, he finished with a large rune for Magic on her sternum. She smiled blissfully as his magic melded with hers and the runes softly glowed like the ones on the ground. He released her, and she began pacing the circle again, smoke wafting from her herbs and cleansing the space.

Harry moved over to kneel in front of Ron, his eyes opening to stare into Harry's with a hazy, crazed look. The ring around his iris glowed, and the black of his pupils bled into the blue of his eyes. Harry gave him a sinister smile and Ron echoed it, continuing to chant. Harry drew a crimson rune for Chaos on his forehead, and proceeded to repeat the runes he drew on Hermione's cheeks and sternum on Ron's pale skin. He paused to watch Ron's eyes flutter closed and the quick intake of breath before standing and moving to his place. Hermione stopped pacing and they created a triangle.

Harry sliced his thumb to produce more blood and smeared it into the runes for Life and Death on his forehead, drawing them close enough to merge. He repeats the runes for Change, Success, and Magic. The magic around them swelled and built, the smoke that had swirled around them from the herbs now whipping like a tornado around them, fast and almost sentient.

The magic spiked and then crashed with a resounding boom, building up in the center only to be expelled outwards. The three collapsed, their vision going black.

Many will wonder when the pretending and the lying and the illegal dark magic started. And honestly, it all stemmed back to Hermione's innocent thirst for knowledge and her rapid obsession for the Restricted Section. She found she disliked being denied knowledge and the thought that there were things she wasn't allowed to know. So 11-year-old Hermione started putting her nose where it wasn't supposed to be. She devoured the Restricted Section by her third year and wasn't satisfied.

She had taken both a liking to and a curiosity for dark magic, untraceable poisons, and incredibly illegal spells. It wasn’t long until she was brewing things she shouldn't have, wandering down Knockturn Alley and into questionable stores for ingredients and more books. She was crafty and hid her tracks well, becoming an expert at Dark Arts and violent spells. But most of all, she excelled in Legilimency and other magic that made people bend to her will. She would whisper what she wanted to know in their ears and move them like puppets she held the strings to.

Ron and Harry never noticed Hermione as she started down her path, and Ron didn't have the thirst for knowledge to send him into questionable places. No, Ron was just as he appeared until second year when the glistening sight of blood on the walls drew his eye and took his breath away. The dripping blood and nearly lifeless bodies unlocked an all-consuming urge in him, not for knowledge and not for death. Not even necessarily for pain and torture. It was an unnamable urge he couldn’t quite put his finger on.

He told Hermione about it in a dark corner, whispering to her about how his magic sung at the sight of blood, how it called for something he didn’t know. She smiled, not a kind smile he expected nor a scared smile he dreaded, and told him about blood magic. He must have an affinity for blood magic, she explained, and she handed over one of her precious books. Ron handled it delicately and looked at it like it held the answers to his problems. It did.

Blood magic led to blood rituals, which led to larger rituals. He discovered long-forgotten gods, ones that weren't as kind and good as the gods of sun and harvest. He was 14 and feeling smothered by his family's shadow when he snuck off to the Chamber of Secrets, still able to say basic words in Parseltongue from listening to Harry, although he couldn't understand any of it. There he made his first sacrifice. The heady magic left him trembling in ecstasy when it was done, but he would learn that feeling was nothing compared to what he felt when he sacrificed to an incredibly ancient Chaos deity.

Ron's affinity with blood and chaos magic set apart from his family, and the illegal practices let him soar higher than any broomstick. He was more peaceful and happy during the day, less prone to jealousy and far more satisfied with life. But a swelling part of him longed for the things his gods represented: pain, death, blood, chaos. His eyes were sharper, his grins toothier and edging on crazed. Hermione had to take him aside and build up his masks and mental walls to keep him out of the penetrating eyes of Dumbledore and his Light supporters.

Harry, well, he had always been a bit twisted because of his experiences as a child. He always had looser morals and a heavier mistrust in authority figures than he had shown. He allowed the thirst for approval and affection guide him for the beginning, but the seductive magic pulsing from Tom Riddle’s diary awoke something within him. And Tom was so insightful, so helpful to put him on the right path. To tell him of the addictive nature of Dark magic and how sweet someone would scream under a specific curse.

Tom was his mentor, whispering to him late at night about books he should read and spells he should try. About how Dumbledore was not who he seemed and pointing out the hidden strings that moved him like a puppet. Tom was a kindred soul who knew how Harry craved for control and power, needed to achieve great things and choose his own destiny. After all, Harry was so similar to Tom. Harry was raised like a pig for slaughter, molded to be someone he wasn’t, a weapon. But everyone assumes that abused children are pitiful and desperate for attention and affection. Dumbledore assumed he would be malleable like snow. Abused children are cold, heavy chunks of ice shattered and chipped until they are twisted and sharp. Ice is not snow, and if you try to mold it into a snowman, you will slice and rip and impale your own hands.

Harry was so good at Defense Against the Dark Arts. But he was far better at the Dark Arts themselves.

And the way the Golden Trio twined themselves together was easily seen to each other. They were like bloody glass melded and woven until you couldn't see where they met. It wasn’t long before all three were aware of the inclinations of the others. And by late fourth year, they were the Golden Trio only in front of others. Alone, they showed their true colors. Most would label them psychopaths, but they didn't quite like the term. They weren't inhuman, not incapable of love and kindness. They were like razor-sharp knives, to be handled with care and caution because they were just as able to harm as to help.

After the ritual, they awoke to screams and explosions, the air thick with smoke and the scent of death, heavy with magic all of them were far too familiar with. They opened their eyes to a battle, lying on hard ground covered in broken glass and shattered items in a strange house. Harry pushed himself up, glass cutting into his hands, as he surveyed his surroundings. They shouldn’t be here; he wasn't sure how this had happened. Dead bodies covered the ground outside, slumped and crumpled in unnatural positions. Curses flashed overhead in bursts of color, and the sound of more bodies hitting the ground echoed around them. Ron and Hermione were stirring as well, Hermione's gaze calculating and Ron's gleeful at the signs of chaos all around. They were hidden in a wrecked house, near broken windows that showed the incredible destruction around them. Sitting up, Harry noticed that the blood runes were gone from their bodies, and their ritual robes were replaced with stiff, old-fashioned casual robes. Harry felt slightly panicked, clutching the fabric and trying to figure out how they got here, wherever they were.

The sounds of battle outside were dying off before going silent completely, cracks of Apparition sounding across the destruction. Hermione stood, peering out the windows before turning to her friends.

"We must go, Aurors will be here soon and finding all of us unharmed and clustered together near the doorway isn't going to look good. We should look as if we hid, so let’s go down to the basement," she said, helping Ron up, his legs trembling and unstable from the ritual. He hummed, pleasure still etched into his face.

Harry stood, and they both helped Ron down the stairs, finding a storeroom where they dragged Ron into a concealed corner and crouched down unseen. Harry, quickly thinking, grabbed his wand and knocked Ron out with a quick Stupefy.

"Harry!" Hermione objected.

"If the Aurors find us, finding him drunk on ritual magic isn't going to look good. If he's unconscious, he won't wake until after the magic’s out of his system, hopefully," Harry explained. "We're lucky enough we all look like we've been attacked, so our story is that the attacking wizards burst in on us in the living room upstairs and hit Ron before we were able to escape and hide."

"Wonderful, but it’s going to be pretty damn suspicious finding the Boy Who Lived here during school anyway. Harry, we don't even know where we are, let alone have an excuse as to why we're here!" Hermione said, face screwed up.

Harry frowned. "Then what are we to do? None of us can apparate and from the light outside, I’d say someone's already noticed we're missing."

"..Hit me with a curse. If we've been cursed, they're required by law to get us medical attention. That'll give me time to peek into people's minds and get us a story’" she said after a moment of thought. She took a deep breath as Harry nodded jerkily, grabbing his wand.

Harry cast a torture spell on her, a lesser curse similar to Cruciatus. Hermione bit her tongue to keep from crying out as her body dropped to the ground and began to writhe. He didn't leave her under it long, cutting off the curse. She breathed heavily, pushing herself up on shaking arms to cast a curse on him.

He felt like a thousand lightning bolts had hit him, the pain sudden and blinding but over quickly. Both leaned against each other, exhausted and shaking. Harry cast a bunch of harmless spells to hide the Dark magic, and Hermione followed suit. Both stiffened when heavy footfalls came down the stairs, Harry peeking over the boxes that were hidden behind to see the flash of bright red robes of Aurors.

Chapter Text

The Aurors, a tall gangly young man, and an older woman rushed over to them when Harry called out weakly, looking panicked and distraught.

"Are you alright? What's happened? How much have you seen?" The man asked rapidly, before being shoved out of the way by the woman. She took his face in her hands gently, and Harry failed to not flinch. She just made a soothing noise as she checked his eyes for signs of concussion or brain damage.

"Don't overwhelm them, Hodge, they're just kids." The woman ordered sternly before her eyes softened, and she met Harry’s gaze. "It's all right, there's no danger left. Can you tell me your name?"

Harry hesitated, but Hermione cut in.

"My name is Hermione, and this is my brother Hadrian, can you tell us what's going on?" She asked, confused and looking disoriented. Harry blinked at her response, but the look in her eyes clearly told him she'd explain later.

The man, Hodge, moved to kneel over Ron's unconscious body, doing the standard procedure for such a situation.

"I'm Auror Marial, my partner and I are here with many of our Aurors. Are either of you hurt?" She asked, eyes scanning over them and obviously noticing the way they leaned against each other and the twitching of their limbs.

"We've been hit with a few curses," Harry replied as if trying to muster the energy. He looked desperately into her eyes, seeming panicked. "Where are our parents?"

She blanched and looked away. "We must get you to St. Mungos. Can you tell me who the person with you is?" She avoids, looking at Ron.

"That's Ron, our neighbor. He was hit with a stunner or something, we aren't sure. We fled when the fighting picked up," Hermione murmured, moving to clutch Harry's arm as if needing comfort. He wrapped an arm around her, and she burrowed closer.

The Aurors nodded, grabbing one of their arms and the pull of Apparition hit them both.

The panic and bustle for the next while blurred and distorted his memory, but Harry and Hermione are hurried into parallel hospital beds and fussed over for a long time. By the time they were left nearly alone, it was noon and Harry could feel a sense of wrong wrong wrong itching under his skin. St. Mungo’s looked different, and none of the people around him were even faintly familiar. He was given a pain potion that was much weaker than usual and left a lingering aftertaste it shouldn't. Hermione met every eye she could, and her face grew more troubled by each person she didn’t recognize.

Ron was immobile and still out cold on the bed on Hermione's other side, but should be awake soon. When the last nurse left for lunch, Harry was desperate for any information.

"What's going on?" he demanded, twisting on the sterile white sheets beneath him.

"Ron must have mistranslated the ritual or something, because this isn't what should have happened. Harry, we didn't just move from Hogwarts. We traveled back in time." Hermione said urgently.

"What?"

"Today's date is October 3rd, 1942. The battle we appeared in the middle of was when a pro-Grindelwald radical group  destroyed a large Wizarding community, killing everyone."

Harry stopped breathing, eyes wide and fingers clenching into the sheets around him. Hermione looked just as shocked and distressed.

"Why...?" He started, before taking a deep breath and trying again. "Why are we here? The ritual was simple; it was supposed to bring us success and achievement. Not send us 50 bloody years back!"

Hermione ran a hand through her tangled and windblown hair, huffing. "I haven't the slightest idea. But mainly I'm worried about the questioning we're unavoidably going to go through."

Harry started to agree, before something hit him. "Hermione, what was with the random story you said earlier to the Aurors? You aren't the type to randomly start spouting things, so what came over you?" He asked, slightly irritated.

She pursed her lips. "I'm not sure...It just felt right. It felt like those were the correct answers."

Harry laughed coldly. "Correct answers? Hermione, you said we were siblings! News flash, we look nothing alike! And the blood tests out there are going to prove our lies!"

Hermione gave him a look, one that made him feel stupid for doubting her even though her response was bullshit. "Do leave this to me, Harry. Everyone knows that my ability to get off scot-free is legendary. Just ask Pansy Parkinson." She paused, and Harry stifled a laugh. A large grin overtook her face. "Oh, wait...you can't."

 


 

 

"Can you tell me your full names?" The female Auror from before, Marial, asked, her weedy partner scribbling notes behind her. Hermione was sitting up composed, obviously taking the lead between the two.

"My name is Hermione Black, and this is Hadrian Black, my brother," she said confidently. Harry didn't show his surprise at the names.

Marial's eyebrows furrowed as she glanced between them. "You're siblings?"

Hermione nodded firmly. Her tangled, dark brown, bouncy curls clustered around her face, a stark contrast to Harry's short black, straight hair despite the similar untamable appearance.

"We are siblings in everything but blood, although our parents have been talking about changing that."

"Can you explain?"

Yes, Hermione, please explain the incredibly detailed, crazy past you've concocted for us, Harry thought. He was sure she knew that simpler ones are less likely to be proven false, so what was she doing?

Hermione looked sad but as if she was trying to hide the fact, shoulders sagging and lips tightening. Harry wanted to applaud her acting skills.

"I'm adopted. My own parents died in an accident when I was just a baby so my Godmother, Harry's mother, took me in and raised me as her own."

Marial nodded sadly, looking at Hermione with pity. Harry was busy trying to remember the information and not yell at his best friend over how unnecessarily complicated this was.

"It was fully legal I promise you, blood adoption some by the goblins and all. But Mother wanted to wait until Harry and I were older to give us the choice to blood adopt each other." She finished, dark fingers picking at the snow-white sheets.

"Can-" Marial cleared her throat, "Can you tell us your parent's names? And then the full name of your friend over there?"

"Mother's name is Cassiopeia Black and Father's is Ralstan Potter. Neither are of direct branches and Father was displeased with how his brother, Lord Henry Potter, shamed dark magic and family's so Father took Mother's name after marriage." Hermione recited as if she'd heard this information many times before.

"That's Ronald Fawley. He's our neighbor, we homeschool with him." Harry spoke up, startled when the information came out. He didn't think that up..where was the story coming from then?

Hermione caught his eye and nodded in understanding. She must have a theory.

Harry looked over to the Aurors, making his voice weak. "What's happened to our parents?"

Marian swallowed. "I'm afraid that no one else in the town survived. You three are the only ones." She stood straighter, reigning in her emotions. "I'm afraid as orphans you fall under control of the government until we can contact your relatives. Do you have a preference for maternal or paternal?"

"Maternal. What's going to happen to us until then?"

"Well kids, all three of you are to start Hogwarts within the next week. You're free to leave the hospital as soon as your friend comes around with an Auror representative to watch over you as you get anything you might need for the school year. Do you have any questions?"

"No, ma'am." They answer, pretending to be meek and mourning the sudden news of their parent's death. The Auror's take their leave, and Harry and Hermione slump exhausted back into their beds. It's been a long day.

Ron was furious when he woke, threatening Harry so violently and creatively Harry worried that the pure magic whipping around would actually curse him out of nothing more than intent.

He calmed down a bit when Hermione filled him in, though he continued looking at them like that were crazy, likely thinking the same thoughts Harry had originally. They leave the hospital three hours after they're checked in and are assigned an Auror chaperone much to their annoyance. However, they were only 15 and not to be allowed to wander off alone. They couldn't even be emancipated yet.

The Auror, a young man named Cairo Reeves, was obviously a new recruit and was happy enough to just check into the room next to theirs in the Leaky Cauldron and call it a day. The sun was rapidly setting by then, so the three locked themselves in one of their rooms to discuss.

Harry had no patience and went straight to the point. "Where is this information coming from? Hermione, we could have just doomed ourselves."

She sat on one of the made beds, looking at the dusty torn robe she wore with distaste. "Don't you see? None of the Aurors were suspicious. They even told us our parents were dead, something that only would have done if the names I mentioned were among the dead."

"So what does that mean?" Ron asked.

Hermione's eyes glittered in the low lighting, a fascination with the situation apparent. Hermione always did love information, and it seemed they were in the prime situation for her to learn more. "It means the information I used was correct. I recognized the names. Cassiopeia and Ralstan Black were actual people on the Black Family Tapestry. They had no children, but our presence here could have changed that," she said, face alight with curiosity and glee. It was an almost manic look, especially in the lighting, a look that they had seen before when she had done horrid things just to obtain knowledge.

"You said my last name was Fawley? That's a pureblood family in the Sacred 28, but I remember reading somewhere that the bloodline died out around the first World War." Ron commented absent-mindedly.

"So what are you hinting at?" Harry asked Hermione.

"Time has rewritten itself for us. We were misplaced tears in the current timeline, so time itself wove us in. We actually are Blacks, and I'm willing to bet a blood test at Gringotts will show all the information I just told the Aurors."

Harry scoffed, and Hermione darkened at his disbelief. "Have you even opened your eyes, Harry? You said earlier we look nothing alike, but we do! We didn't before, but suddenly I have features I didn't have yesterday. Sharp cheekbones, darker hair, aristocratic features... Harry, your hair is more disheveled than a rat’s nest, and your eyes have never been greener. Your bone structure is more feminine; your features more noble. Even Ron looks different!"

Harry quieted, eyes scanning her face and seeing she was right. Her skin face was sharper, her hair was inky and more curly than frizzy. It wasn't immediately noticeable, but Hermione looked like the women on Sirius's tapestry. And Ron looked more like a pureblood than ever.

"I guess we'll see tomorrow," Ron said, his voice weak and baffled.

Chapter Text

Sunlight streamed through the heavy curtains over the window, slicing beams of light over the twin beds in the room. Harry blinked tiredly and was immediately gifted with the sight of Ron's drooling face. Harry's nose wrinkled in distaste, and he slowly moved his head to the right, immediately being attacked by a head full of bushy hair. He nearly sneezed, the curly black hair blocking his sight and tickling his nose. Hermione's solid body was warm against his side, hand clutched close to her chest and head resting on his own bare one.

None of the three had felt comfortable with the thought of Hermione sleeping alone in the room across the hall. They were in an unknown situation due to unknown magics and preferred to keep an eye on each other. And Hermione had slept curled around Harry several times before, it was never awkward the way it was the one time Hermione fell asleep in Ron's bed. The familiar scene was disorientating and stabilizing at the same time.

Harry wasn't sure how to feel about this situation honestly. It was unnerving, suddenly being 50 years in the past, decades before he was born. But the concept of a completely clean slate? That was too good to be true. This all seemed too easy, and Harry had a sinking feeling that it was because things were about to get hard. Very hard. After all, good times for him usually led to tragedy.


"Do shut up Harry, I can hear your brooding starting," Hermione grumbled, a single bleary eye-popping open to glare at him. He resisted the urge to laugh, dark mood receding.

"Good morning cheerful." He said, teasing. Hermione sent a small shock at him through her fingers, making him jump and mutter a curse. He heard her laugh quietly.

A loud, rattling snore startled them, and to Harry's amusement seemed to also startle Ron even though he had been the source. Ron was so startled, in fact, that he promptly scrambled half asleep right over the side of the bed, making a heavy thump against the hard floor.

"Bloody fucking Jesus Christ!" Ron swore, sitting up and whipping his head around frantically. His hair was a rats nest and his freckles stood out against the pale shade of white he had become. Harry and Hermione were stifling laughter behind hands but failing. Ron's eyes eventually landed on them, and he playfully scowled.

"Come on, we should probably get up and beat the crowds in town," Harry said, deciding not to make a snide remark. Hermione sighed and sat up, stretching out the kinks in her back. Harry grinned when he spotted Ron's look at her, and got up to dress.

 



Diagon Alley was nearly an exact replica of what it was in his time, and the stagnant nature of the wizarding world irritated him. The buildings were the same, just newer, and the street was in slightly less disrepair. Every sign he read was a store he recognized and with Ron and Hermione at his side, he could almost pretend nothing changed at all. It was both comforting, to have a familiar place among a discomforting experience, and terrifying, to acknowledge that in 50 years nothing changes.

The pinched look on Hermione's face let him know he wasn't the only one who noticed. Ron just kept yammering next to them about Merlin knows what. The large gleaming bank in the center was obviously their first stop, as none of them had more than the strange robes they awoke in.

"After Gringotts, we should go buy something to eat, I'm bloody starving," Ron said, stance casual and confident.

"Ronald, I don't think it's a very good idea to be in town too long. We're supposed to be purebloods, ones of a very high rank at that, and none of us at familiar with the customs or anything." Hermione piped up, glancing around at the people walking near them. Ron deflated but didn't argue, knowing the minimal pureblood training he had gotten growing up would do them no help.

No one even bothered to look up when they entered the bank, and Harry was quite enjoying not being stared at like a circus animal for once in his life. Harry led the way to the Goblins and stood in front of one.

"We wish to take an inheritance test and access our vaults," Harry called up to the squat creature, features blank and chin raised. The goblin looked down at them in barely contained contempt but summoned another goblin to them without comment. The new goblin ushered them down the big entrance room and down to the winding hallways where they have their private rooms.

They were sat in a deep red room with dark wood and expensive-looking furniture. It was an average-sized room, about the same size as a large office. The goblin sat on a couch across from the three, mouth set in a permanent scowl.

"The fee is four sickles," he announced in a scratchy voice, "The money is to be paid upfront or we will take it from your vaults with an extra sickle fee."

Three snow white papers were passed towards them, the Gringotts official watermark on the bottom. Ron and Harry blinked at the papers for a moment, never having had to take an inheritance test and not sure what it entailed. Hermione looked at them and nearly rolled her eyes. A gold-handled knife skid across the table with a loud scraping noise and she quickly scooped it up and sliced her finger. Scarlet blood welled up on the wound and she tipped it toward at the blank paper, letting three drops splatter over it before she popped her finger in her mouth.

Harry and Ron quickly followed suit and watched with barely hidden fascination as the blood disappeared and was scrawled into words.

Hermione Callidora Black

Birth Father: Regulus Black (Deceased)
Birth Mother: Marrionett Black neé Burke (Deceased)

Adopted Father: Ralston Black neé Potter (Deceased)
Adopted Mother: Cassiopeia Black (Deceased)

Sibling(s): Hadrian Black

Active Marriage Contracts: N/A

Creature Inheritance: N/A

Genetic Abilities: N/A


Hermione scanned the rest of the sheet, which informed her of her trust fund, the fact that she was last in line for all Heirships due to being a woman, and that she'd gain access to the larger vaults once she hit 17. She glanced at the boys, who had quickly followed suit in snatching up their papers.


Hadrian Ignotus Black

Birth Father: Ralston Black neé Potter (Deceased)
Birth Mother: Cassiopeia Black (Deceased)

Sibling(s): Hermione Black

Active Marriage Contracts: N/A

Creature Inheritance: N/A

Genetic Abilities: Wandless Magic, Potential Master of Death

Active Heirships: Peverell


Ronald Finneus Fawley

Birth Father: Finneus Fawley (Deceased)
Birth Mother: Rebecca Fawley neé Abbott (Deceased)

Sibling(s): N/A

Active Marriage Contracts: N/A

Creature Inheritance: N/A

Genetic Abilities: Necromancer

Active Heirships: Fawley


"That's so fucking cool!" Ron exclaimed, holding his paper up to his face as if the words would disappear. Hermione shot him a disapproving look but Harry just grinned. The goblin stared bored at them.

"We'll each take 200 gallons from our vaults," Harry informed the goblin. Ron finally stopped his manic smiling and gaped at him.

"200 gallons??"

"That should cover a full wardrobe, all the books we'll need, school supplies…I mean honestly Ron we are building a life from scratch." Hermione said, ignoring his stuttering disbelief. Harry supposed that to Ron, 200 gallons was quite a lot. He certainly would have had the same reaction if he had just entered the wizarding world, but by 15 he was mostly used to having ridiculous amounts of money.

After a nauseating cart ride to their vaults and back, they made their way down the streets of Diagon Ally once more. Hermione was mumbling about whether the bookstores in the Ally would have some of the books they'd need or if they'd have to go down Knockturn. Harry wasn't sure if the stores would sell them either but didn't want to be caught in an area filled with Purebloods before they know what they're doing.

So they swept into Flourish and Blott's with fingers crossed. Ron was sent off to buy three trunks because he was incapable of being in a bookstore without being bored out of his mind. Harry and Hermione split up to check the sections for anything of use. Harry wandered down the shelves, scanning over the mismatched books and their names. The store smelled like dust and paper, with a hint of something warm. He ran his fingers over the bindings, the soft conversations and the tinkling of the door fading away. He grabbed history books and books about the Ministry, and to his delight found three books on the manners, traditions, and general knowledge for purebloods. From what he could see from his position, Hemione was also pulling out quite a few and he was pleased they could put off a Knockturn trip until they had educated themselves.

"Can you believe some of these books? There's a chapter in here that talks about muggle hunting." Harry said idly when Hermione walked up to him. A book was open in his hands and when he glanced up from it he could see she also had her nose in a book.

"There are bound to be a few distasteful things in here, and at least one of these is going to be just blood supremacy drivel. But hopefully, they will tell us what we need to know in order to pass. Purebloods do have etiquettes and rules they must follow." She informed him absently.

"It's like being a royal in the times of old. Can't wait to act just like a Malfoy."

Hermione rolled her eyes and they took their books to the register to buy them. Harry gave the cashier a bashful smile when he gave them a weird look. It must look fairly weird to see a wizard and a witch buying so many books on purebloods and such. They were able to buy the books without issue though and were quick to search out Ron.

They found him standing in front of Quality Quidditch Supplies, an icecream cone in one hand and a bag of shrunken trunks in the other. He was staring at the newest broom proudly displayed in the window. The sign labeled it as a Silver Arrow and Harry was reminded that the brooms of this time were much slower and of lesser quality. He nearly scowled.

"Don't know if I'll try out for Quidditch again but I'd still like a broom," Ron commented, turning to look at them.

Hermione looked ready to protest when Harry spoke up. " Actually, buying a broom is probably smart. We're rich pureblood boys, it only makes sense we'd own a broom. The best broom even."

Hermione gave him a look that made it clear that she knew he was bullshitting, but with a long-suffering sigh gestured for them to be quick. Both boys grinned and hurried into the shop, barely remembering to keep up a pureblood posture. Hermione smiled at their enthusiasm and tried not to feel impatient as she waited.

Eventually, the exited the bustling store with a shiny Silver Arrow perched on each of their shoulders, joking around. She bustled them down the cobblestone street with little patience, nearly shoving them into Twilfitt and Tattings.

A stiff-looking man looked up from where he was writing and looks at them appraisingly from over his spectacles. Harry straightened up and blanked his face, trying to channel his inner Malfoy.

"How may I help you today?" He asked them, quill tapping against his parchment.

"We'd like to purchase three full wardrobes. Casual wear, formal wear, sleepwear if you have any." Harry informed him. His eyes brightened with the thought of how much that would all cost, but he obviously wasn't one to rush into things.

"And you can pay for this?" He drawled, eyes narrowed at their slightly torn robes and the disarray of their hair.

"We can." Harry agreed, plucking the money bag out of his robes and opening it enough for him to see the large amount of gallons inside. This seemed to convince him and the man was immediately on his feet and pointing them to a platform to stand on. Measuring tapes whizzed through the air and immediately started taking their measurements with jerky, quick movements.

Hermione let out a squeak when hers pulled tight around her waist, and Rob blushed when his measured his inseam. Harry was disgruntled when his wrapped around his hips and the measurements were noticeably larger than his waist. Damn feminine hips.

The flurry of movements ended as abruptly as it began, and Harry felt oddly off-balanced.

"Do you have a preference for color, fabric, or style?"

Harry thought about it for a moment, but a quick glance at his friends told him they had about as little idea of fashion as he did.

"Perhaps darker colors? Do as you see fit. If we approve you'll be heavily tipped." Harry said, faking confidence. He was sure the man was either going to kick them out for his demanding attitude or make their clothes hideous, but to his relief, the man seemed excited about the idea.

"Of course." He agreed, giving them a good look over before grabbing a fabric book off a nearby table. "I haven't gotten to choose in ages. All these bossy women think they know best, I'll gladly take a challenge." He muttered to himself.

Harry almost regretted his decision when the next long while was spent being tugged around and shoved into things and having fabrics and colors held against him. But the delight on the man's face and the promise that the clothes would be done by tomorrow eased his irritation.

It was nearing 4 by the time they were able to make their way back to their room, hands heavy with books, brooms, trunks, and a set of pajamas and robes each. Harry had been pleased that the man had made a few for them quick before they had to leave. The quality was good he had to admit, and from his glimpse at them they were nice.

Though all he and Ron wanted to do upon reaching their room in the Leaky was collapse, Hermione quickly pulled out books and plopped them on their laps. Ron sighed and Harry flipped open the heavy book with resignation.

 

Chapter Text

"I feel like a bloody princess," Harry grumbled, back straight as a ruler and two hardcover books balanced on his head. Hermione was watching Ron and him like a hawk, closely inspecting their walk. She had perfected it easily and admitted that she used to do it as a child to feel like the Queen.

"I'll be happy to make you look like one too if you don't stop your whining." Hermione threatened casually. Harry glared at her, hands protectively covering his navy blue expensive robes.

"Don't even think of transfiguring these, we didn't pay all that money for new robes just for you to turn them into ballgowns!"

"Are you suggesting that I'm incapable of turning them back to their original state?" Her voice was sharp. Harry was about to backpedal when Ron spoke.

" 'Mione, you realize that you're going to have to pass as well right?"

She faced him, puzzled. That had seemingly come from nowhere. "Obviously."

"Well, the rules of the '40s are to 'sit and look pretty' and 'speak only when spoken to. You're going to have to learn when to express your opinions." He pointed out, not cruelly.

Her face twisted into a disgruntled grimace and she raised her chin.

"Ronald if you expect me to let others walk over me because I have a vagina you have another thing coming to you." Her voice was low and dangerous, eyes glinting.

"Of course not. There's no doubt we'll be in Slytherin and behavior like that will not be acceptable. However you still have to remember your station, and that means you can't go against a male of higher standing." Harry agreed, remembering the books they had been reading since yesterday. Pureblood etiquette was a subtle thing, nothing drastically new for them to do. It was mostly just traditions such as courting and a good amount of societal etiquette.

Hermione deflated a bit, but it was obvious she wasn't pleased. He wouldn't be either, suddenly having even fewer rights and more rules on how to act. The shame brought on a pureblood girl for her misstep was far greater than a males.

A steady rapping at their door startled them, and Ron's books toppled off his head with a loud clatter. He let out a colorful string of curses while Hermione went to open the door and Harry set his own stack of books on a table nearby.

Auror Reeves was standing outside, grinning cheerfully with three letters and a stack of papers in his hand.

"Sorry kids, but it's time for boring school stuff. We need you to pick out your classes before we head out to buy your school supplies. You're entering your 5th year correct?"

"Yes, Sir."

"I remember my 5th year," Reeves said wistfully. He glanced around at their uninterested faces and cleared his throat, back to business. "Headmaster Dippet was kind enough to take your word on classes, he won't force you to take the beginning electives with the third years. So what classes-"

Harry was done with the Auror, even though he hadn't been there for more than three minutes. He was obviously about to shove his way in and try to help them with their class selection. It was kind, what Reeve's was doing, but they weren't really mourning teenagers and he could see he wasn't the only one who's patience was wearing thin. He stepped up, and with a charming smile took the small stack of papers from the Aurors arms and dismissed him with a quick, "Thank you for your help, we'll come to your room when we are finished to give you the paperwork."

He turned quickly and moved back to the beds, attempting to imitate the walk they had been practicing. Graceful, powerful, confident. Reeves gaped, but stuttered out an awkward farewell and left their room. Immediately the trio relaxed and gathered around the papers. He handed each of them the packers with their names in them, and Hermione descended hungrily on it.

"Harry! Look at the differences! Classes like Healing, Wards and Other Protections, look a class specifically on Household Charms!" She spouts excitedly, flipping through the pages excitedly. Harry smiled fondly at her, and sat down at the headboard of their bed, opening his own packet. Ron was sitting identically to Harry with a bored look on his face.

"Don't think I'm going to take anything but the Core classes honestly. Unlike you lot, I'm not a bloody bookworm."

Hermione frowned and looked ready to argue, but Harry just grinned at Ron. "Do what you want, but wouldn't Runes be beneficial to your ritual knowledge?"

A few seconds later Son was scribbling it down with a muttered, "Fine, but nothing else! I'm not going to spend all my time with my nose up a books ars-"

"Ronald!" Hermione scolded. Harry held back the urge to laugh. "You can't talk like that outside of the three of us, now that you're an heir. You really should try to watch your mouth."

"Yes, mum," Ron said sarcastically. Hermione's eyes darkened and with a swift flick of her wrist, Ron was shouting, hands shooting up to clutch his sliced cheek.

Her grin was bloodthirsty, and Ron's free to match it as he casually reached for his wand.

Harry had seen the duel thousands of times, wounds ranging from childhood hexes to crucio's. However, they were not in an area where dueling would go unnoticed and was quick to put an end to it by wandlessly summoning their wands.

Both made a displeased noise, but with a stern look, they turned back to their papers.

Harry turned to his own and deliberated his options. He wrote down the classes he wanted to take on the designated lines.

Charms

Defense

Herbology

History of Magic

Potions

Transfiguration

Arithmancy

Study of Ancient Runes

Magical Theory

He paused, looking over to Hermione who was frantically scribbling. "Do you know anything about Music?"

She glanced up, eyebrows furrowed. "Not a clue. I think Lavender took it but I always tune out when she speaks."

He shrugs and sets his quill down. "Oh well, didn't care too much. Just was curious."

Hermione leaned over, glancing over his chicken scratch. She nodded when she was done. "That's a good selection, a bit demanding though." She then frowned. "Remind me to help you with your penmanship, it's simply horrible."

"Hey, wonder why DADA is just Defense right now." Ron finally spoke up.

"It was Defense from the Founder's time up until Dumbledore took up the Headmaster position. What I can't figure out is why all these different classes disappeared.." Hermione responded, setting her quill down as well. Harry called at the long list she had written and resigned himself to another year of barely seeing her. At least she hasn't taken every class this time.

 



Reeves was incredibly reluctant to let the three go shopping by themselves, obviously unsure if letting them to as they pleaded was really doing his job, but a little sneaky compulsion charm and they were off, in new robes and strutting along like the purebloods they now were.

The Alley was still disconcerting in its stagnant nature, but on a bustling weekend, it was easier to focus on the differences. Like the fashion, and the large amount of people. The wizarding population was higher than any of them had ever seen it, not yet depleted by wars.

They caught a few eyes, especially when people noticed they were buying supplies for Hogwarts in October. Their looks also drew a bit of attention, both for being attractive and for being so obviously pureblood. Harry almost wanted to scowl. It was helpful, and made sense now that Gringotts had confirmed the blood running through their blood was different. They had been molded for this universe, and Harry didn't know if he liked it.

Eventually, they slipped into Knockturn Ally, not one person blinking an eye at the sight of them as they strode down the cracked stone path. They were quietly deliberating about which store to visit first when, but looking at where he was going, Harry ran directly into someone.

The person was a bit taller than him -not that that was hard- and instinctually grabbed his shoulders to steady him. Hermione and Ron went quiet, and as Harry moved back an inch to look at the man he had run into, he realized why.

Slightly wavy blond hair fell into steel grey eyes, familiar features set in familiar snow-white skin. A Malfoy. Except instead of a sneer, the Malfoy's lips curled into a grin, flirty and mischievous.

"You really should watch where you're going, couldn't have a pretty face like yours running into trouble."

Harry's eyes widened and he didn't have to look behind him to know Hermione and Ron were alert and tense, ready for a fight.

But Harry's lips quirked back, amused. "I thought I just did."

Malfoy laughed, bright and unexpected. He stepped back, releasing Harry. He thrust a hand forward, introducing himself. "Abraxas Malfoy, Heir of the Most Ancient and Noble House of Malfoy."

Harry took it. He wasn't looking for friends, but this connection could only be beneficial. After all, Draco had been quite interesting. Bratty and entitled, but interesting.

"Aha! I knew it. Trouble." He teased. "Hadrian Black, of the Most Ancient and Noble House of Black."

Malfoy's eyes widened, just a fraction but Harry noticed. They released hands, and Harry felt his friends come up to flank him.

Etiquette demanded he introduced them. "May I introduce you to my lovely cousin Hermione Black," He gestured to her, noticing her face was blank but pleasant and her body was purposely relaxed. "And our friend Ronald Fawley." Ron was the same.

Malfoy's eyes eagerly took them all in, smile hungry, a tad sharp. "Blacks and a Fawley? It must be my lucky day. I can't believe we haven't met at one of my family's Yule Balls or another social function."

Digging for information. Harry would find this rude, if not for the opportunity it presented him.

"Mother and Father were too indulgent with us, let us avoid them until we were of age." His smile turned slightly sad. "I'm afraid they didn't have the chance to introduce us, but before their passing."

Malfoy drank this information in, pasting a cake sympathetic look on his face. "In sorry for your loss. And Fawley?"

Ron's cold eyes connected with Malfoy's. "My parents despised social functions, preferred their own company all the way up until the day they died."

"If you'll excuse us, Heir Malfoy, we were about to finish up our shopping before heading back to the Inn. I'm sure we can have a lengthier conversation another time, one where we aren't in a rush and you aren't supposed to be at Hogwarts." Harry said smoothly, polite as can be.

Malfoy smirked, winking. "I'll look forward to it, Black. Have a pleasant day, and if you would keep my.. adventures to yourself, I would be ever so grateful."

He walked past them, leaving the three in a swish of robes and the crack of apparition. Underaged apparition, how fascinating.

"A Malfoy, how charming," Hermione commented. Ron scowled. Neither seemed to be very taken with him. Harry, however, was cheerful, a bounce in his step as they continued onwards.

"Much more charming than his future descendants." Harry was grateful for the chance to have their story spread.

Purebloods with mysteriously deceased parents, suddenly appearing in the Alley after 15 years of avoiding the wizarding world. Suspicious, but hopefully less suspicious if Malfoy spreads the word instead of them.

Well, that and Harry doesn't have the patience to tell the story over and over. He'd end up hexing someone for sure.

 

 

Chapter Text

The chatter in the large hall was like background static, and Tom only tended to tune in when something caught his attention. He didn't tend to talk though, just filed information away. Except during this meal, Malfoy wouldn't shut up.

"Another Black? Can you believe it? That family breeds like dogs." Malfoy commented, sending a smirk at Orion Black who was sitting two seats to Tom's right.

"Shut it. Just because the Malfoys haven't had more than one kid in generations doesn't mean the rest of our families are nearly infertile." Black bit back.

"I have to admit, I much prefer your cousin to you. He was cute and very charming. Though his company was less than." Malfoy mused.

Tom heard Dolohov complain loudly next to him about the lack of food, and Tom looked over the top of his book to find the tables empty of their meal, just as Dolohov had said. The students could be heard loudly complaining about across the hall, and Tom scrunched his nose in annoyance for the briefest second. You'd think these children hadn't eaten like pigs since arrival, the way they whine. Tom closed his book and turned his eyes towards the teachers, looking to see their reactions to the oddity.

Dippet stood from his seat, and the hall went nearly silent. "Before we commence with our feast, Hogwarts would like to welcome three new transfer students."

The hall burst with whispers and Tom noticed that the sorting hat in all its tattered glory had in fact been placed at its usual spot. Strange, Tom had never heard of students transferring before.

The hall doors open and three teens sweep in, elegant postures and blank faces marking them as purebloods. Malfoy lifted out of his seat to get a good look at them, and Tom nearly scolded him for his behavior, except he couldn't quite take his eyes off the scene.

"Those are the three I was telling you about!" Malfoy whispered excitedly. Tom hadn't seen him get this excited since that Ravenclaw girl agreed to a date, and he sent a look at him before turning back to the trio.

He couldn't see their faces from where he was sitting, could only see the back of them as they stood in front of the stool. The tall one was freckled and ginger, with a stiff back and a posture that suggested he was uncomfortable. Next to him was a shorter girl with unruly black curls and dark skin, she stood more relaxed but alert, as if she was waiting for something to happen. On the ginger's other side was a lithe boy who was shorter than the both of them, with curly,  inky black hair that's untamed, and tan skin. His posture was graceful, effortless, regal.

"Black, Hadrian," Dumbledore called down to the group, battered hat in hand. The short boy walked up to the stool and sat, finally facing Tom as the hat was placed on his head.

Hadrian Black had androgynous features, feminine but with an underlying strength that meant there was no mistake he was male. He wasn't a stunning beauty, more of a silent one that people always notice but never drool over. Black features would do that. Except, Tom noticed, Those green eyes. Such a vibrant shade, a shade of both tragedy and beauty. Those were not a Black trait.

The hat stirred, and from its flap lips it shouted out, "SLYTHERIN!" Polite clapping followed, and Tom watched Dumbledore's pleasant facade slipped when he took the hat back with a sharp movement. Black stood and swept past his friends to the Slytherin table, pausing to whisper with them for a brief second. Of course Black was going to be targeted by the batty professor like the rest of them. Black AND Slytherin, he must be evil.

"Black, Hermione." Was called next, and the girl confidently took a seat, a haughty expression of her face. She too, had Black features. Strong but feminine, sharp cheekbones, large eyes lined in lashes. But her eyes were a dark brown, plain and ordinary. Her call of "Slytherin" was also awarded by clapping, but Tom had no interest in her. His eyes trailed over to where Black was being waved over to sit with a group of older Slytherin girls.

"Fawley, Ronald." Was called, the tallboy. He looked completely and utterly average, and Tom dismissed him without a thought, not caring even when yet another "Slytherin!" was announced.

"That's odd, Walburga and her giggling group don't tend to welcome newcomers," Mulciber mentioned, filling his plate now that the food had finally arrived.

"Don't address her like that, Mulcuber. You aren't that familiar!" Orion Black growled, glaring at him. Mulcuber snickered and started to taunt him again but Tom had tuned them out once more, gazing intently at the odd little trio.

 


 


"Dear Cousin, do come and sit with us!" A girl called out to Harr-Hadrian as he walked slowly down the table in search of a seat. Hadrian looked over the fair-skinned girl, taking in her appearance. Her hair was tightly curled and swept away from her face, a black that wasn't as dark as his own and artfully styled. Her features were sharp and beautiful, her lips plump and glossed and her cheeks a pretty pink. But her eyes were narrow and as sharp as her cheekbones, a familiar dark brown lined with thick lashes. He knew this girl, and her resemblance to him confirmed his suspicions. He sat.

"I am Walburga Black, of the Most Ancient and Noble House of Black. I'm afraid we haven't met before Cousin." She offered her hand, smiling kindly at him. Harry was hit with how different the pretty girl in front of him was to her ugly, horrible portrait. He took her hand and pressed it chastely to his lips, and was rewarded with a pleased smile. He felt movement to his right and could see Hermione's bushy hair in his peripheral vision.

"Hadrian Black, and my sister Hermione Black. It's a pleasure to meet you now if nothing else." He smiled at her, genuinely. She was family, even back before. He hadn't gotten to know much family.

Hermione greeted her politely and dipped her head instead of kissing her hand like Harry. Walburga looked tickled with them and dipped her head back. Her smile could light up a room, and Hadrian could, in fact, see a few boys looking longingly.

"A pleasure to meet you both. May I introduce our other relatives, Lucretia and Cygnus Black, as well as our friends Adney Yaxley and Belinda Goyle."

Lucretia had the Black's good looks but had stronger features and short, cropped black hair that barely tickled her jaw. Her lips were ruby red and her jaw was strong giving her a determined look about her. She regarded him with eyes the same color as Hermione and Walburga, not warm like her cousins but analytical, as if she was sizing them up.

Cygnus was older than Lucretia, who seemed to be the youngest of the three, and had a very masculine face shape. His hair was gelled to keep the curls neatly back, and his clothes were impeccably neat. The Black Heir ring sat glittering on his hand, and while he was relaxed he didn't seem to feel either way about the two.

Adney was tall and strong but plain-looking, with mocha skin and average features. His hair was cut close to his head, and he smiled kindly at them both, an Heir ring on his finger also though he looked to be Hadrian and Hermione's age. He was already eating, much like Ron who had slipped into Hadrian's other side during the introductions.

Belinda was a larger woman like her descendant, but most seemed to be muscle. She was pretty, however, even if her features were a bit handsome. Her hair was pinned back as if she couldn't bother with it, and she had a few scars.

After introductions, there was the inevitable conversation about the three's family and absence from pureblood society, which they swiftly explained and moved on from. Then came classwork and interests, and Hadrian found he quite liked the bunch. Lucretia was loudly opinionated and brash, while Cygnus was a bit of a snob and rude but neither were unlikable. And Yaxley, though posher, shared a few of Ron's more mischevious and kind traits while Goyle quickly roped Hadrian into a debate about quidditch, which she apparently played.

"I didn't know women were allowed to play Quidditch," Hermione spoke up, confused. This group didn't act the way the books had said those of their station should. Walburga, clearly the leader in their group, laughed.

"They didn't up until last year when Lucretia promptly threw a fit at Headmaster Dippett for the sexist rule. Lucretia found out about the feminist movement that summer, and while I find it a bit batty we've decided to support her."

Hermione blinked, mouth slightly parted as she turned to look at the younger girl. Lucretia's cheeks were a bit red and she glared at them, daring them to comment. "Look, Hermione, pureblood women have a way they need to act. But while we must be meek and feeble and obedient in front of our father's and men like Malfoy and Abbott, we do not need to be less than ourselves with each other." She took a breath. "And while you're friends with us, we'd like you to do the same."

Hermione slowly smiled, tucking a stray strand of hair behind her ear. Hadrian and Ron both grinned at her, but the moment was interrupted when Yaxley spoke up. "Riddle is heading this way."

Instantly the atmosphere changed and the three watched and mimicked the way the group regained their poise and etiquette.

"Well, he is a Prefect. Riddle must have been tasked to introduce them to Slytherin and Hogwarts instead of them being with Crouch." Goyle said, delicately picking at her food as she subtly watched the boy approach.

Hadrian's mind raced, quickly snapping together information he hadn't before. It was '42, which was when Tom Riddle was in his 5th year. The year he finds the chamber. Which meant Riddle was currently a Slytherin prefect and in his year.

He turned only when a throat was cleared behind him, and gazed up into honey brown eyes. Riddle was a perfect replica of the diary Horcrux, tall and neat and handsome. The prefect badge shone on his robes and his charming smile didn't reach his eyes.

"Excuse me for interrupting, but I thought it best to show you to the common rooms before the rest of the house files in. I am Tom Riddle, 5th-year Prefect."

Hermione and Ron gazed at him with blank, suspicious faces, but Hadrian knew that making an enemy of Riddle was not the way to avoid his attention. The best way to go about this was to be completely and utterly unassuming.

"I am Hadrian Black, of the Most Noble and Ancient House of Black." He introduced, remembering faintly that as Riddle didn't present himself as a pureblood Harry wasn't to introduce Ron and Hermione. Riddle inclined his head only the slightest bit and did not lower his eyes while doing so, a slight. Hadrian's smile tightened, but he didn't comment.

Ron spoke up, his usual cheerful tone gone. "Ronald Fawley, Heir to the Most Ancient and Noble House of Fawley."

Riddle's head once again inclined only the tiniest bit, staring straight into Ron's eyes. A move of dominance, Riddle's way of saying he believes himself better. Ron's eyes darkened.

Hermione outstretched her hand, face now cold but polite. "Hermione Black, of the Most Noble and Ancient House of Black." She held back a grimace as Riddle took her hand and brushed his lips across her knuckles. Once again, making eye contact. An offense, as even as a woman Hermione was above Riddle due to her bloodline. Her lips twisted down, and she wiped her knuckles subtly across her robes.

"Shall we go?" Riddle asked, stepping back and standing back to his full height. Harry nodded, and the trio stood. Ron was irritated to find that even as the tallest of them, Riddle was still a few inches taller.

"Thank you for your company, Cousin's, and we shall see you all later," Hadrian said smoothly before Riddle forced them all to follow him out of the Great Hall. Walburga smiled at their retreating forms, obviously taken with the three.

With Riddle stalking ahead of them, he didn't notice the way Hermione subtly caught Hadrian's attention and gave him a long look. Hadrian grimaced, knowing that whatever good luck that had made their passage here so easy had run out, and was now taking repayment.

Chapter Text

Riddle prattled the entire way there about Hogwarts, information that would have been both interesting and useful had the three not already lived there for five years. So they tuned him out, Hadrian and Hermione shot looks at each other in attempts to communicate. Ron was left on 'mhm'ing duty, something that clearly irritated Riddle.

It was only when they reached the Slytherin common room that they all snapped to attention, eyes on the blank wall ahead of them. Riddle was giving a quick lay down on hidden rooms for Hogwarts, which was actually quite informative, before stepping up to it and uttering a clear, "Hellebore."

The wall slid away and they were hurried into the green common rooms, Riddle obviously running out of patience with them.

In the '40s the Slytherin common rooms were less gaudy and actually quite beautiful. The floors were a dark cherry wood, illuminated by the large fireplace and the glowing orbs floating along the ceiling like lanterns. Tasteful chairs and couches of deep green and brown leather sat by the fire, with plush pillows and dark walnut tables were set up nearly around the room, covered in items that ranged from textbooks to games to a table covered completely in apples. A few silver rugs laid artfully on the floor. There were gorgeous paintings and tapestries, and walls of bookshelves in the back, but Hadrian's favorite part was the large windows that showed the Black Lake. They cast a slight green glow on the area around them, and the glass was overlayed by slim silver metal in elegant patterns around the edges. The occasional creature hurried by, and Harry was grateful he would not spend the year confined underground in a windowless house.

Riddle had started up another speech, likely the same ones the first years got, but paused when he noticed Hadrian's fascination with the windows. He took in the open wonderment on Hadrian's face, before clearing his throat. His voice was a tad kinder when he spoke next.

"You can ogle the view later Black, since my speech is boring you I suppose it's time to show you to the dorms."

And then he strode off, like a giant twat.

Ron was first to snap out of his surprise and hurry after him, but Harry and Hermione weren't far behind. It grew a bit dimmer down the hallways, but there was plenty of space to walk and torches linked the tops. Tom paused at a split and turned to look at Hermione.

"I'm afraid there are spells on both hallways that prevent the opposite sex from entering so I cannot show you to your room personally. Just follow the hallway down a bit and look for the door with your name on the plaque."

Hermione didn't say anything, just turned on heel and walked down the hallway. Riddle sneered briefly before continuing down the boy's hall.

"The same applies here. There are 8 fifth-year boys this year so there are two dorm rooms. A bed will have been placed for you by the elves, it's the one with your trunk in front of it."

They paused in the hallway, and Harry noticed the gleaming silver plaques on the wooden doors. He scanned the one closest to him, and then the one across the hall. He and Ron were in separate rooms.

HADRIAN BLACK
GARRETT LESTRANGE
TOM RIDDLE
MATTHEW ROSIER


RONALD FAWLEY
QUINN NOTT
ANTHONY WARRINGTON
ADNEY YAXLEY

Hadrian felt a pang of disappointment but just reached for the handle of his room. He didn't notice Tom looming behind him, simply entered the dorm room and glanced around for his trunk. Unlike in Gryffindor, there were no generic trunks by the beds, no issue of opening and closing to figure out which one was yours. Everyone had custom trunks, with initials and flare. Hadrian's was old and had HB in the right corner in silver metal letters. There were faint patterns of snakes on it that most wouldn't notice, as well as the Black crest. It was set by a bed in the left corner, farthest from the door and closest to another door, presumably the bathroom. He made a beeline for his bed, intent on his task.


Tom was baffled when instead of taking in any of the beautiful or impressive features of the room, Black immediately crawled into his bed. Not even more than the cursory glance around, even the richest students were awed by Hogwart's beauty. But Black simply wasn't affected, and he wasn't even of the mainline!

Tom, frustrated to see their beds were side by side, was about to stalk off to the common room when he felt it. Strong magic drifted and swirled around the bed, strong enough he didn't need to be magic sensitive to feel it. Most of the boys set spells on their beds, such as silencing spells for when their wanking and anti-theft spells. But they were all weak little things, just precaution.

This was complicated magic, and Tom itched to see what it was. But barging in on spell casting while it happens was never a good idea, and he'd like to keep both his limbs and Black's opinion of him. He decided to find out tomorrow when Black wasn't around, before stalking out.

 



Hadrian buried his face in his arms, letting out a low groan. Hermione picked at her breakfast pastry across from him, the two nearly alone in the Great Hall. Most weren't awake yet, including Ron.

"What is it?"

He lifted his head only slightly, revealing his intense eyes nearly hidden by his unruly black hair.
"I have three roommates. Three, incredibly attractive roommates. Who, unlike my old roommates, sleep in various states of undress."

Hermione let out a soft peal of laughter, covering her mouth with her hand. Hadrian glared at her, but the corners of his lips twitched. He had tried to keep his eyes away from any living thing this morning because he was firmly against being a pervert. Murder, torture, dark spells? Sure. But Hadrian was firmly against sexual predators.

"All three of them are attractive? Really?" Hermione asked, calming down from her laughter.

And the thing was, they were. Some more than others, but all solid 8's and above. The only one he hadn't met was Matthew Rosier. While Riddle was cold and studious, and Lestrange was brash and mischevious, Rosier was normal. A bit clumsy, funny, and kind. Very frank and honest. And his honey brown eyes and rich curly brown hair didn't hurt.

"Well, what about your roommates? What are they like?" People were starting to filter in and Hadrian wanted to firmly steer the conversation from anything that could out him.

"They're an odd bunch. I share with Isadora Flint and Camellia Parkinson. And they couldn't be more opposite. Camellia decorated her area in soft colors and flowers and has a love for wizarding romance novels. She's giggly and dreamy, and very kind. Isadora…has a love for the macabre. Like a goth girl from our time, but even though she's aloof and cold she's nice in her own way, and feminine."

Hadrian smiled but had no chance to reply as Ron ungracefully plopped down next to them, yawning. Hermione sent him a dark glare, and Ron sat up straight so fast you'd think he'd been hit by lightning.

"You guys talking about roommates? I've got Yaxley and some other guys, but anything's better than that prick Riddle. What gives Harry? You never said he was like this!"

Hadrian's mood darkened. He'd been trying to avoid thinking about his Tom, because the truth was a bolt of disappointment had shot through him when he realized how different the two were. Riddle wasn't his Tom, he was younger and didn't have the memories Tom did. Not the years of isolation in the diary, not his first kill, not Harry. Harry spent three years befriending Tom, learning from him and teaching him. But Voldemort was going to need to be stopped because what he was doing wasn't fighting for the dark. It was human eradication, and Tom needed to be sacrificed in the end.

Seeing Riddle made that wound throb, and every time he failed to act like Tom Harry- no, Hadrian- hated him more.

"Riddle is not Tom. For now, he's a nuisance. Likely he'll end up our advisory. Remember that." Hadrian said firmly. The lively mood was gone, and all of them were in subdued spirits by the time their new 'friends' joined them.

Chapter Text

"Black!" A voice called behind him, the only warning before an arm wrapped around his shoulders. Hermione was the only one with him due to Ron being held up in the great hall by a very disgruntled dorm mate. Apparently Nott was a stickler for cleanliness and Ron was..a disgusting slob.

Hermione scowled at the blonde as he reeled Hadrian in closer. Hadrian also frowned, a small thing ruined by the nearly non-existent pinkening of his cheeks. "Malfoy."

Malfoy grinned, his gold hair swept impeccably into the current style and his clothes nearly in place. Hadrian wondered if it took him as long as his grandson to make himself presentable. Nothing was funnier than finding out Draco Malfoy woke up with a floofy birds nest every morning.

"Other Black." Malfoy nodded his head at Hermione, who turned her nose up at him. Hermione hated being snubbed, and her snooty response made Hadrian's lips twitch.

"Really, it would be much easier to just use first names, wouldn't it?" Malfoy suggested, smiling hopefully at Hadrian. He pursed his lips and shook his head a firm no.

"I'm afraid I'm not that easy, Malfoy." Hadrian teased, purposely putting a bit of flirt into his words. Malfoy was a person to stay on the good side of, and Hadrian would keep up their silly game to do so if he had to. Until he gained respect, at least. "Anyway, it's fun to see you try to greet all of us with one name."

"Is there a reason you're here?" Hermione said curtly, drawing attention back to herself. Harry used the distraction to shrug Malfoy's arm off of his shoulders and take a step back. Malfoy didn't try to grab him again, simply stuck his hands in his pockets.

Where Gryffindor Hermione was unstylish and plain, Slytherin Hermione was proper and pretty. Her new hair was easier to control and now fell into neater curls, though it was still in its natural, mane-like state, and the green of her uniform brought out her new noble features. She still looked like Hermione, but what used to take a bit of effort was now effortless to achieve.

Hadrian himself was smart in his new uniform, the already existing Black features a bit more prominent, and his green eyes practically glowing in comparison to his black hair and porcelain skin. He wasn't sure if he minded being less masculine looking, but he didn't hate it. He looked more like his mother, and it was nice to feel closer to her.

"I'm here to escort you to your classes of course," Malfoy replied. "Since as new students, you won't know where they are."

"That won't be necessary." Ron and Yaxley strode up, having obviously jogged a bit to get there. Yaxley looked at Malfoy with distaste, and it was obvious there was an animosity there.

"Yax! What a pleasure. I decided to show the newcomers around, it's always nice to make new friends." There was something under his words that made the three time-travelers tense. "Especially ones as cute as Black here."

He didn't make any movement to suggest which one of them he was talking about, and it was an admirable move. Now Yaxley would have to struggle to keep an eye on both of them, for he seemed to be just as wary as the others of what Malfoy wanted.

"Yes, well as pleasant as your company is I'm afraid Walaburga is quite fond of them, so it'll be a struggle for them to make time for you and your…friends."

Hadrian made to remember this, as it seemed at least the 5th and 6th year Slytherin's were separated into groups. That was good for them, a united front was harder to find a good foothold in.

The Potions door loomed in front of them, and leaving Malfoy behind the four slipped inside. Much like in their original time, the classroom was divided into two. On one side was Slytherin, where they immediately found seats. The other, surprisingly, was Ravenclaw. Hadrian supposed before Dumbledore was in charge, the rivalry between Slytherin and Gryffindor was much more subdued.

Hadrian sat with Hermione, while Ron seemed exasperated to have to pair up with Yaxley. It was mostly teasing, but Hadrian knew that all three of them were uncomfortable around others. After the treatment from their peers and constantly pretending to be someone else, they weren't very good at socializing beyond what was necessary for their goals.

Hadrian nearly groaned when the short, plump figure of Professor Slughorn hustled to the front of the class, his round face red and grinning merrily. He looked much worse than Snape, overly friendly and involved.

"Welcome class! Before we start today I would like to greet our transfer students." People who had only glimpsed the three last night turned towards them, more whispers and giggles ringing out. None of them reacted, far too used to the behavior to be affected.

"I am your Potions Professor, Professor Slughorn. And I am greatly looking forward to seeing if any of you are lovers of the craft, eh?" He looked expectantly towards them, but when they did nothing more than give him small, indulgent smiles, he turned back to the class as a whole. "Anywho, today we are brewing the Beffudlement Draught, a fun one. Collect your ingredients and begin on your individual potions. No partners today."

As students rushed to the Supply cupboard Hadrian examined the materials he was given to work with, noting the differences between the ones from his time and these older ones. He was hoping to let the crowd disperse, as he still hated large crowds. Hermione, next to him, waited as well, though Ron could be seen shoving his way through the mass of teens. The Befuddlement Draught was an interesting option to brew, but he was melancholy in preparation for purposely botching it.

Hermione noticed, and grabbed his arm firmly, forcing him to look at her.

"This isn't 1995 Hadrian, and you aren't Harry Potter." She said lowly. "The ritual brought us back here so we could succeed, and that means no more hiding. Let them notice us. Let Riddle, let Dumbledore, let Dippet and all the students. We are not going to cower or play their games anymore."

The words hit Hadrian hard, and a new sense of determination filled him, and he suddenly realized he had no path ahead of him anymore. No responsibilities beyond what he wanted to do. Hermione's eyes mirrored that back to him, and the two smoothly slid from their seats and set to work.

The chopping and slicing and crushing were soothing, rhythmic, but it wasn't really his thing. Hermione however, we in her element. Her hair was tied back messily, thick and wild, and her movements were quick and skilled. This option was nothing compared to the poisons she was used to brewing, and while the results of the potion were less satisfying for her Hermione always loved to show off.

Ron, behind them, had a pink sludge murking up his cauldron, and looked very put out. Hadrian snickered, earning himself a glare and a nonverbal stinging hex for his efforts. He sent one back and was saved from an all-out war when the Professor wandered their way to comment on Ron's completely ruined potion.

By the time the class was over the classroom was hot and smelled, and Professor Slughorns face was as red as a tomato. He had looked over the other options with disappointment until he got to Hadrian and Hermione. His face split in half and he cheerfully crowed, "Why, Tom I think you have some competition. Two perfect potions, what talent." He spent another second looking at Hermione's with glee. "Especially you, Miss Black. This is a fine potion, you are very skilled."

They both smiled at him, and Hadrian was high with the feeling of achievement. As everyone filtered out, however, he caught the calculating glare sent his way by Riddle. He wasn't scared, and just stared blankly back until he was swallowed by the crowd.

"I never thought I'd see the day Har-Hadrian bested me at potions. What's next? Astronomy?" Ron complained. Hadrian grinned up at him, while Yaxley, who was trailing behind them, frowned in confusion.

"Your skills were incredibly far apart, how would you have ever bested him at Potions?"

"Back when we were homeschooled, one of our neighbors taught us potions. But I didn't like him, so I purposefully did terrible to annoy him." Hadrian lied easily. "What class is next?"

"History of Magic. I hope you brought something else to do because I don't think a single student has learned anything from Binns." Yaxley warned, and Hadrian was glad he had brought extra reading materials.

 


 

 

"Cousins! How were classes?" Walburga asks, already seated when they arrived at lunch. Hermione, who had taken a shine to Lucretia's feminist movement, sat next to her while Hadrian sat across from Walburga once again. Ron plopped next to him, looking half-awake.

"Potions was fun, though the Professor seems to be overly interactive. History of Magic was useless." Hadrian replied, spooning himself up some lunch.


Belinda -who refused to be referred to informally as she considered them friends - snorted. "Sluggy's something alright. If you manage to impress him he invited you to his club though, and the connections are useful."

"I believe we may have, but I don't want to be presumptuous."

"Be as presumptuous as you truly believe. Confidence isn't a bad thing, as long as you have the skillset to back it up." Lucretia said firmly, and Hadrian noticed the smudge of dirt on her cheek and the way her hair was pinned back. When he mentioned it, Belinda lit up.

"I'm teaching her Quidditch. Slytherin needs a new Seeker."

"However, I'm terrible. I firmly believe women should be allowed to play, but that doesn't mean I particularly want to."

"Hadrian's a Seeker. A damned good one too." Ron said, around a mouthful of sandwich. Walburga wrinkled her nose at him, and Hermione sent an acid hex his way.

"You should come try out tomorrow night. You'll have to show our Captain, not me." Belinda responded, "Though I think you'll like our pitch even if you don't make the team. It's just beautiful."

"I'm not sure, I wasn't planning on joining the team due to the recent...upheaval of my life." Hadrian hesitated, wanting to be back on a broom but aware that he wasn't in a secure enough place to be drawing that much attention to himself yet. Belinda waved him off.

"That's fine, I understand. But with how bad our back up seeker is, I'm sure the Captain will make an exception if you'd like to join later."

A girl, who Hadrian hadn't notice approach, suddenly places a flower behind Belinda's ear, humming serenely. Belinda scowls and immediately takes it back out as the girl sits next to her.

"Not as beautiful as you, Goyle." The girl said sweetly. She had dark black hair and wide, kind-looking grey eyes with a round face and a widow's peak. Her nose was distinctive, upturned and remarkably puggish. A white flower, identical to the one Belinda now held, was stuck behind her own ear, and a gold locket hung from her neck.

"Go away Parkinson, no one invited you," Belinda said, though there was little bite and Parkinson -Hermione's roommate Hadrian recalled- just laughed.

"I wanted to see Hermione. We barely had a chance to talk last night. Anyway, Annabelle and Whitney were being mean to a Gryff girl and I wanted no part of it in case the girl tattles. Father will lower my allowance if I get in another bullying incident." She explained, playing with her hair. She noticed Hadrian and immediately flutters her lashes at him.

"Hello, you must be Hermione's brother. Hadrian, was it?"

Hadrian held back a grimace, Hermione wasn't lying when she said Parkinson was love-obsessed.

"Camellia, please do not address him with such familiarity. You make a mockery of your name with such rudeness." Walburga interrupted, voice colder than Hadrian has ever heard it. Camellia immediately straightened and looked over at the older girl ashamed.

"I apologize, Mr. Black, it was horribly rude of me to assume that level of familiarity." She apologized, not looking him in the eye.

"I accept your apology, and ask you to refrain from using it again until given permission," Hadrian said, remembering a social rule about this in one of their books. It also had the added bonus of preventing her advances, as he had made it clear he wasn't looking to be that close to her. She seemed nice and meant nothing by it, but Hadrian wasn't sure he wanted to interact with a silly teen girl.

"Camellia, where's my flower?" Lucretia suddenly asked, smiling teasingly at the girl. Camilla parked up and smiled. When she winked at Lucretia, the younger girl turned faintly pink.

"I forgot it on my vanity. I'll make sure to bring you one tomorrow. After all, a doll like yourself deserves to get flowers."

Hadrian smiled slightly at the exchange but noticed the sad way Walburga looked at her cousin. His heart twisted, and his own smile became bittersweet.

"We really must be off, we have Herbology. We'll see you at lunch." Hadrian said, clearing his throat. Hermione rushed to gather her things, while Ron grabbed one last roll before they left.

All he could think of on the way to the greenhouse was the pained look in Walburga's eyes as she watched her beloved cousin flirt. The times were not kind, and Harry mourned for the girl.

Chapter Text

THE BOY GONE MISSING

By: Rita Skeeter

Dear Readers, I regret to inform you that our beloved hero, the 12-year-old Harry Potter, has gone missing from Hogwarts. On October 3rd his roommates woke to find two beds empty, the boys who sleep there gone from the school. The other boy, Ronald Westly went missing along with their friend Herminny Granger the same night, and the disappearances are thought to be connected.

Harry's roommate, Neville Largebottom, told us that the three went missing sometime during the night, as all three set present when students went to bed. They are expected to have gone missing between the hours of midnight and 4 am when another roommate for up to use the restroom and found their beds empty, though he had assumed they were off mischief-making.

Speculation on where they went runs rampant through the school's halls, one student telling me "They likely went to the muggle world to elope, muggles allow those type of relationships". And while everyone's for a theory on where, everyone' is stumped on the how. Is Albus Dumbledore's school not as safe and secure as he leads parents to think?

Whether the students are out causing mischief or something more sinister is going on, I believe I speak for all of us when I say I want answers on the safety of the school the next generation is being held in.


"Albus what is the meaning of this?!" Molly Weasley shrieked, slamming her hands on the desk in front of her. The rest of the Weasley clan stood behind her, in various states of grief and anger. Everyone but Percy, who hadn't visited his family since 'they started that You-Know-Who nonsense'.

"Molly, I assure you that everything possible is being done to find the children and bring them back." Albus soothed. He sat calmly behind his desk, eyes twinkling and glasses slipping down his nose. 

"I don't understand, this is nothing like Hermione. Ron maybe, occasionally Harry, but Hermione would never let them leave school grounds. Not with Voldemort on the rise." George spoke up, his twin nodding along.

"We have to consider that Voldemort is moving faster than expected. They couldn't have gotten out without foul play!" Ginny agreed, hands twisting anxiously.

Albus sighed. He had just finished calming Remus and Sirius, both worried sick like mother hens, and was tired of dealing with parents. "I highly doubt that, Miss Weasley. They are very likely off being teenagers, all three have a penchant for adventures and rule-breaking. They will be back, safe, eventually, and then we can sit down and have a talk with them."

The youngest three obviously wanted to say something, but Bill and Charlie quickly herded them out of the office, quietly telling them to shut up. Molly opened her mouth as if to argue, but just huffed instead and grabbed her husband by the arm, dragging him after their children.

Albus sighed, rubbing his temple as worry and anger shot through him in the quiet of his empty office. This was very bad. It was impossible, the way the teens simply vanished from the school without his knowledge. He had placed tracking spells on them immediately in first year, as soon as Harry chose his friends, that would alert him if they left the building. He usually only checked them when he knew they were likely to be in danger or were undergoing one of his tests, such as First Year, but a loud blaring noise could be heard whenever they left the grounds. Not only had no noise been made, but all three trackers were disabled, so he couldn't tell where they were.

There were only two options to what could have happened. Either the three found out about the trackers and found a way to remove them before they left, or someone had removed them when they kidnapped the three. On one hand, the three were on to him and likely untrusting now, or they were in grave danger. Both were horrible for his future plans, and he had to scurry to do damage control.

Albus grabbed lemon drop, laced with calming draught, and shoved it in his mouth. He glared at the far wall, his anger causing his magic to lash out and shake his desk. Those damn kids were more trouble than they were worth, and he looked forward to the day he could be done with them. Perhaps they'd die during the final battle, and he'd never have to see their faces again.

 



"They're gone." Blaise said simply, standing in front of Draco, who sat staring pensively out the window. They were in an empty corridor, Draco sitting on a window sill with a book unread on his lap, features scrunched up as he stared out into the grounds.

"It wasn't the Dark Lord. Father and the others have been scrambling to find him as well, he keeps asking me where they could have gone as if I would know." Draco replied to the unasked question. He scowled and turned his head to look up at Blaise, who's face was nearly a blank mask. A hint of curiosity and worry lit up his eyes, however, giving away his strange attachment to the trio.


Blaise nodded, the tension in his body relaxing the slightest bit. "That means they left on their own, and they aren't likely coming back. I fear what they could be doing out there. We've seen first hand what they can do. They're brilliant and determined."

"They're also batshit crazy," Draco said darkly, his hand clutching an old, worn down gold locket. He thumbed it open to reveal a magically preserved pink camilla petal, and a picture of Pansy Parkinson smiling with her grandmother. Draco watched the picture move for a minute, watched a young Pansy wave to the camera before he snapped it closed.

Chapter Text

"He's watching you again," Ron said under his breath, hand paused where it was scribbling notes. Hermione made a sound on Ron's other side but continued with her own.

Hadrian glanced up, and there he was. Riddle, looking like a carved statue, staring directly at him. His quill was held up near his head, and his fingers slowly twirled it back and forth. A hypnotic rhythm, much like the way Riddle blinked, the only other movement he made. Hadrian refused to get caught in the movements, and though he made eye contact he turned his head before Riddle could slip inside. Tom had told him about that particular talent of his, and Hadrian did not appreciate the attempted violation.

"He does that. I'm afraid I've caught his interest, but mostly it's intimidation. He wants me to either fall in line or become a low-level lackey."

Riddle had been watching him, throughout all of yesterday and last night. It was unnerving, in a way, but easy enough to ignore. Despite the way 2/3 of his roommates acted during the day, he was mostly left alone in the room, which he could appreciate.

The Professor, a spindly, tall woman, tapped her wand against her desk to catch their attention, the algorithms on the board stopping. Hadrian set his quill down.

"Partner up and do the work on page 49. For our new students, your partner must be from the other house. I dislike the silly separation the school likes to do."

Ron groaned lowly but stood to find a person to talk to. Hermione followed, much more comfortable with the idea of mingling. Harry watched a nervous boy immediately ascend upon her and grinned. He was about to stand to find his own partner when a hand tapped his shoulder. He twisted in his seat to look up at the Ravenclaw behind him.

The boy slid into Ron's abandoned seat, a smirk on his face and his hand held out for a handshake. He was geeky, but attractive, with thick dark curls making a mess of his head and thick-rimmed glasses. But Hadrian was unsure what to do. If the boy was pureblood, he was supposed to grab his elbow and shake that way, but if he was muggleborn or halfblood he had to give a handshake. If he did the wrong one, the social repercussions could be vast.

He settled for raising his hand and allowing the boy to initiate. A firm handshake, not a pureblood.

"Isaac Malcolm." The boy said simply.

"Hadrian Black."

"Of the Most Noble Black, yeah I've heard the shtick. I know your cousin Lucy." Malcolm commented, smiling as though he thought himself funny. Hadrian tightened his grip on his hand.

"Noble and Ancient Blacks, actually. Did Lucretia give you permission to call her that?" Hadrian said, grin all teeth. Despite his threatening aura, Malcolm let out a laugh.

"Yes she did, mama bear. Now, if I could have my hand back, we should really start on our work."

Hadrian released his hand, not sure if he disliked the boy or not. His personality was…irritating. But with an odd bit of charm.

They cracked open their books and each rolled out a bit of parchment. It turned out Malcolm was a whiz with math, and Hadrian struggled to keep up. Something Malcolm was annoyingly smug about.

"Loverboy is looking this way," Malcolm said, leaning in close to point out a mistake on Hadrian's paper. Hadrian stiffened briefly but forced himself to relax. He sent a side-eyed glare at Malcolm.

"He's not in love with me. I'm not in love with him."

Malcolm snorted disbelievingly. "Yeah, whatever you say. I'm not going to judge you. I got my own idiot over there." He pointed to a blonde boy who was working with Ron, though it didn't look like they were getting much work done. Instead, the Ravenclaw seemed to be talking about something else passionately and was using strange hand gestures.

"Though he's cluelessly in love with some herbology whiz, so mostly I'm lover boy," Malcolm said fondly. "He's talking about Dinosaurs, probably scaring the hell out of your friend there too. Out of everything, Dinosaurs are probably the scariest muggle thing."

"Have you seen what they're fighting the war with? Dinosaurs are not the scariest thing in the muggle world." Hadrian said quietly, his voice dark. The mood subdued, and he changed the subject.

"How do you know my cousin?"

"I'm the one to introduce her to the Feminist Movement. I noticed her ideas and opinions and told her about muggle women who felt the same way, she was fascinated. Now, since Lucy's old man would disown her if he found out, I order the newsletters she wants." Malcolm explained.

"What do you get out of it?" Hadrian asked, curious.

"I get someone to talk Chaos Theory with."

Hadrian let out a surprised laugh, drawing the attention of a few students around them. Malcolm smiled, intrigued.

"You've heard of it?"

Hadrian gave him a secretive smile. "Once or twice. But I know a thing or two about chaos."

 


 

 

Hadrian found, that out of all of his defense teachers, Professor Merrythought was both the craziest and the most qualified.

She wasn't a large woman or a particularly intimidating woman. She didn't scream Defense teacher, or have large noticeable scars. She was average height and weight, with mousy brown hair tied back and a plain face. But the minute she cleared her throat, the class went silent. Hadrian turned to Ron, amazed. He had only ever seen Snape able to do that, and Snape had ruled his class with an iron fist. Professor Merrythought looked rather pleasant.

"Good Morning class! As most of you know, we're currently in our dueling unit. As for our newcomers, I'm afraid that we won't be easing you into it, so I hope you keep up." She gave them pointed looks. "But if you can't manage my class, I'll be happy to go easy on you. In my First Year class."

Ron grinned, and their silence seemed to appease her as she continued. "Today we're going to be dueling blindfolded. After all, there are several curses and hexes out there that can blind you, and you can easily find yourself dueling in a dark area. Your opponent will not go easy on you just because you can't see." She gave the class a terrifying smile, and Hadrian saw several students shiver. They had this class with the HufflePuffs, and though Hadrian doubted that were anything like their stereotypes, they tended to be new to violence.

"Pair up. One of you will be blindfolded, the other will cast the spells. Stick to harmless hexes and spells, most of you will struggle with this and I don't want students ending up in the Hospital Wing."

This was one class where Hadrian would always pair up with Ron. It may seem cruel, for him to consistently pair up with Hermione in classes. As if he was excluding Ron. But Ron was comfortable as an average student, and they wanted to be top of their class. But Hermione was average at combat, and Rob thrives on the chaos of it.

"You put on the blindfold first. See if you've gotten any better at dueling." Hadrian said, tossing the black cloth at his friend. Ron didn't hesitate to put it on, body thrumming with anticipation.

The students were in two lines in an empty side of the room, and there was a good distance between the partners. Hermione was next to Hadrian, partnered up with Parkinson and blindfold free. Parkinson seemed nervous but was obviously ready for whatever shot her way.

Hadrian turned back to Ron, who was tense and ready to dodge. He wouldn't be casting spells back at Hadrian, just blocking and dodging. Hadrian moved into an offensive stance and flung his first spell.

Ron had heard him mutter the spell, but wasn't able to tell where it was aimed and was immediately hit. He let out a bark of laughter, hands grabbing his sides as the tickling hex took effect. He was quick to utter the countercurse, and Hadrian wasted no time in slinging two spells at him, one after the other.

This time, Ron dodged the first one and managed to throw up a shield for the second just before it hit him. He grinned triumphantly but was knocked back with a spell immediately after. Hadrian laughed. That's what he got for boasting.

"Don't let your guard down." He called out, letting Ron get to his feet before sending a leg locking hex his way.

Ron scowled and dodged. They went at this for a few minutes, before Hadrian managed to disarm Ron.

Ron ripped the blindfold off in frustration and stormed to Hadrian. He shoved the cloth into his hands, sweaty and aching. Hadrian smirked, and walked down to Ron's old spot, slipping on the blindfold.

He was submerged in black, the cloth obviously spelled to completely take away sight. But as he was blinded, the noise around him became sharper, clearer. He fell into a defensive posture and raised his wand, searching for Ron's voice in the cacophony.

There.

He swiftly dogged a spell, feeling the magic fly past his left leg. It was close, but Hadrian had fought blind before. Glasses were easy things to lose, and after years of quidditch in the dark and the rain, as well as the dark battle last year, he was well versed in detecting spells.

Another whizzed past his head, second from hitting him. It was a distraction, another spell collided with his shoulder and he knew the impact was going to bruise. He grinned. Three spells, rapid-fire. A swift dance of dodging and shields, Ron never letting up. He knew one at a time Hadrian could detect them, but if he just kept throwing them….

Hadrian only was hit twice more, with a hex that must have affected his appearance and a hex that made him twitch uncontrollably. They only set him back a few seconds, and by the time the spells stopped coming he was panting and smiling like a fool.

What a work out. He lifted the blindfold from his head, wiping some of the sweat there off in the process, to find the room mostly quiet. People were watching him, their own duels abandoned in the process. Professor Merryweather watched him with a calculating look. His first reaction was panic, at having drawn attention to his skills. But Hermione's words rang through his head and he straightened up. No more hiding.

"That was very impressive. You seemed like you knew what you were doing." She commented, walking closer to him.

"Ron and I duel often, Professor. I know his style pretty well."

"And I suppose with glasses, you sometimes are left blind. They get knocked off and broken in battle."

"Yes, ma'am." He nodded.

"Do you like Defense, Mr. Black?"

He grinned, and truthfully replied, "Defense is my passion, Professor."

Her calculating look melted away into a bright smile, and she clapped him on the shoulder. "Excellent!" She turned to address the staring students. "Since all of you were too busy gawking to do the work yourself, I hope you learned a few things from Mr. Black. Your homework is two feet on why you must duel without sight and why it is helpful to learn, due next class. Dismissed."

Students dispersed, leaving their blindfolds on the from the desk and gathering their things. Lunch was next, and Hadrian has worked up an appetite. He attempted to slip down the hall with the students complaining about the homework but was halted by a firm hand on his arm.

Hermione looked sternly at him, a no-nonsense attitude about her.

"Not so fast. I saw your notes, Hadrian. You haven't been listening to me."

He wanted to groan. "Hermione…"

"We are spending lunch in the library, correcting this issue." She said finally, dragging him off in the opposite direction. Ron watched them go, conflict warring on his face for a moment before he shrugged and headed to the great hall.

"Hermione my handwriting really isn't that bad..," Hadrian complained as she shoved him in an empty seat. The library was nearly empty during lunch, and Hadrian was sure he'd rather face Riddle than Hermione in her current state.

She sat across from him and pulled out parchment and a quill, sliding them over to Hadrian. She pulled out more supplies for herself -Hadrian doesn't question why she had several inkpots and quills in her bag- before leaning in to speak with him.

"Firstly, yes it really is." She gave him a look. "Second, we need to figure out what Riddle wants with you."

Hadrian nodded, resigning himself to his fate. He grabbed the quill, but Hermione grabbed his hand before he could ink it. He watched her fix his fingers into an uncomfortable grip on the quill without complaint and dunked the quill when she was done.

"I assume he's trying to recruit me for his Death Eaters. I'm not sure why, but he and his followers have been assessing me since the sorting. Malfoy especially had been clingy."

"Malfoys always have had obsessions with you." She commented, before quieting down with a pensive expression on her face. "They aren't Death Eaters. That name was given to them by the media long after Riddle graduated. But they are going to become the first ones, and it might be beneficial to join their ranks." She suggested.

Hadrian shook his head. "Not a chance."

Hermione seemed a bit irritated by his immediate dismissal. "And why not?"

He leaned in, a sharp smile tugging at the corners of his mouth. "Because I refuse to be a lackey."

Her mouth fell open into a soft 'O', blinking in surprise. He reached over and grabbed her hand.

" 'Mione, if you think I'm going to spend the next two years under Riddle's rule, you don't know me at all. Riddle has a good circle, but he made a major mistake. And I'm going to benefit off of it."

Her eyes gleamed. "A mistake?"

"Tom Riddle only wants pureblood males. Which leaves a good chunk of potential for us. And I'm going to shape them into something that strikes fear into Riddle's gang's hearts."


By the end of lunch, Hadrian's handwriting was looking much more presentable, though his hand was cramping. Hermione had walked with him to Magical Theory but left him at the door to head to Herbology. Hadrian was alone for this class, and walking into the classroom he realized he was also almost late. Almost all of the seats were filled.

Except, of course, a seat right next to Riddle. Hadrian looked at the back of Riddle's head, and then at his followers sitting on the seats around him. The seat was deliberate, and Hadrian was trapped.

Sliding into the seat, he caught sight of a smug smile on Riddle's face. It was gone in an instant, but Hadrian has to resist the urge to flare at the handsome boy.

"I hope you weren't holding this seat for someone," Hadrian said politely, though they both knew better.

"No, feel free," Riddle responded, not looking up from the textbook open in front of him. Hadrian slid open his own textbook and parchment, content to ignore the prefect until he initiated conversation.

Which apparently wasn't until after the lesson was over. The silence irritated Hadrian, putting him more on edge the longer Riddle pretended that he didn't exist. He tapped his quill as the Professor ended the lesson, debating just leaving instead of listening to Riddle's spiel. However, just as he gathered his bag and moved to leave with the rest of the class, Riddle grabbed his arm.

He tensed, fighting the immediate instinct to jerk away and cursing him bloody. He forced himself to relax, though the look on Riddle's face told him that it had not gone unnoticed.

"Excuse me?" Hadrian said, polite even as he stared coldly up at him. Riddle smiled though, sharp and smug.

"I was hoping we could talk, Black."

"It couldn't wait until tonight?"

"I felt it was best to do it away from our room. Put you more at ease." Riddle explained smoothly. "I was afraid you'd feel cornered."

Hadrian glanced around at the Slytherins loitering around them. Riddle's followers, surrounding the pair and keeping lookout. He definitely doesn't feel cornered at all.

Riddle continued. "I've been watching you-"

"I noticed."

"-and I've found myself impressed. You're very powerful, and you know what you're doing. And though you insist on hanging out with a bunch of girls, you are obviously intelligent and capable. I could use someone like you in my group." Riddle paused, grey eyes searching Hadrian's face. "A political group. We're intent on changing the wizarding world for the better, and in the process dealing with the…pest problem. If you join us, I promise the reward is great."

His short speech has roused a few of the people around them, most noticeably Lestrange, who's grin was nothing short of sinister. But Hadrian was bored and very uninterested.

"No thank you." He said blandly. Riddle's eyes widened, and his group was noticeably shocked.

"Excuse me?" He hissed, words verging on shifting into parseltongue. Hadrian didn't flinch, even though Riddle's grip on his arm had tightened and dragged him closer.

"I decline your offer. I'm not keen on spending the rest of my life kneeling at your feet. I'm sure you understand." Hadrian said steadily, tugging his arm loose. He swung his bag over his shoulder and turned to walk away.

Lestrange and Avery moved as if to block him, but something over his shoulder had them reluctantly relaxing and letting him through.

Hadrian left the classroom without looking back, mind racing. This wasn't the end, Riddle was nothing if persistent. But soon he'd realize Hadrian was an enemy. Riddle was smart, and their interactions would soon be dangerous as they competed for the throne.

Chapter Text

With classes done for the day, Hadrian stopped into his room to drop off his bookbag. None of his roommates were there, Riddle had likely called a meeting. Hermione, however, was in the common room curled up by the fire.

To most it would look like she was daydreaming, homework half-finished in front of her and head propped up in her hand. But Hadrian saw the way her eyes watched the students milling around, and knew she was gathering information. He walked up behind her chair, resting his forearms on the back.

"How was class?" Hermione asked, still focused on a group of giggling fourth years.

"Riddle knows my stance on joining his cult. We need information and support quickly. Right now we have the upper hand, but that could change in an instant."

Hermione looked over her shoulder at him, surprised. "He's approached you already? It's only been a week. We should have had more time."

"Our showing off in class has impressed him. Enough that he didn't need to spend any more time debating my worth."

She muttered a curse, fingers tapping against her knee. "We need to move in on Walburga and her group then, though I'd hoped for some time to ease our way into the circle naturally."

"We can start by getting closer to them, we just need to rush through the friendship bit," Hadrian said, just as pleased as her. "Where are they?"

"Slytherin has Quidditch practice. Walburga and Lucretia are watching Belinda practice."

"And Adney?"

"Somewhere with Ron, I believe. Ron says he's glad to finally have a male to hang out with that isn't Cygnus."

Hadrian nodded, filing that information away for later. He said goodbye to Hermione and grabbed his scarf and cloak quickly from his room before hurrying off to the pitch.

It was windy out, a chilling breeze tugging at his scarf and hair as he hurried down to the pitch. The sun was blocked by fluffy gray clouds, and the only color seemed to come from the vibrant fall leaves underfoot. Fall was Hadrian's favorite season, and the weather managed to lift his spirits a bit after all the drama. It seemed the pitch had a way of making his problems seem far away, even when he wasn't on a broom.

He spotted Lucretia's short hair before anything else, both girls wrapped tight in their own scarves and non-uniform cloaks. They weren't seated in the stands, instead, they stood and watched from a grassy area nearby.

"Hadrian, what a surprise. We weren't expecting you to join us." Walburga said, looking surprised to see him. Lucretia waved from her side, cheeks and ears flushed as pink as Walburga's lipstick.

"I wanted to come and spend time with my favorite cousins. Am I intruding? I can head back." Hadrian said, smiling charmingly.

"You're welcome to join us! I, for one, enjoy your company." Lucretia piped up. She seemed to be in a good mood.

"We're just watching the practice. Belinda and Cygnus like the support, and I like the chance to get out of the castle now and then." Walburga said, bringing the old fashioned omnioculars up to her face. Her curls were the messiest he'd ever seen them, and the dusty grey cloak she wore made her own pink cheeks even more dramatic.

"I do enjoy quidditch. I used to play Seeker, you know."

"For your neighborhood team?" Lucretia asked.

Hadrian paused, but only for a moment. "Yes. We were a pretty good team, won more matches than we lost."

"Perhaps you should try out for the Slytherin team. We could use a better Seeker."

He hummed, noncommital. "Maybe."

They lapsed into silence for a few moments, the girls watching the practice through their shiny omnioculars. Hadrian watched the vague shape he believed was Belinda hurl bludgers at the opposing players, and decided he was glad she was on their team.

"I know you two aren't very interested in Quidditch. What do you like to do?" He asked when the quiet became too much for him. He had come down to get to know the girls, to become their friend. Not to watch Belinda murder her teammates.

They both seemed surprised by the question.

"I like to embroider…and play the piano. I read a bit, and play a bit of chess. Normal things, I suppose." Walburga responded, looking as if she was struggling to come up with hobbies. He supposed she spent most of her time conversating.

"I like to sing and dance. I read a lot. I do a fair bit of writing, when I'm not swamped in homework." Lucretia commented.

"Those are nice. Are you any good at singing and dancing?" Hadrian teased. Lucretia blushed, fiddling with the clasp of her cloak.

"I..well..what about you? What do you do for fun?" She deflected. Walburga laughed.

"I'm that strange teenager who likes to learn and read. I find magic fascinating, and spend a good amount of time studying and practicing it." He paused, attention being caught by a player nearly being knocked off their broom.

"But surely you have hobbies?" Lucretia pressed.

"I play Quidditch, and some chess. I know how to garden and cook." He lists absent-mindedly. Then he softens a bit, a warm smile appearing. "I paint. Not often, but I think it's what I most enjoy to do."

The girls gazed at him, surprised. The sun was setting around them, painting the scene in a pleasant glow, and the wind blew their hair around. Hadrian could see the golden glow of the snitch near the ground and felt the urge to grab it.

"You know, Hadrian, Walburga took Magical Art last year." Lucrative started, tone ringing with mischief. Walburga stiffened, looking at her cousin with horror.

"She joined because a boy she fancied was in it. Head over heels, she tried to paint a picture of the place they met. Now, she was just terrible, but the funniest part is when casting the spell to enchant it-"

"Lucretia!" Walburga screeched, losing her composure fully for the first time since Hadrian has met her. She flung herself at the smaller girl, wrapping herself around her and attempting to cover her mouth.

"-she messed up the spell and spent a week with a painting that looks like a 5-year-old made it moving across her skin!" Lucretia finished, giggling like mad as she struggled in Walburga's hold. Hadrian laughed at their antics, enjoying the carefree expressions on their faces. Walburga was as red as a Gryffindor, but he could see the moment her Slytherin showed up.

"Fine. Cousin, did you know that the first time Lucretia here met the Minister of Magic she was in her bright blue sleep robes, with curlers in her hair and drool dried on her chin?" Walburga told Hadrian, speaking conversationally despite her wicked from giving her away. Lucretia squawked, hitting Walburga who held her tightly.

"And the very first words out of her mouth were 'Mother, the knockers are stealing my undergarments again'!"

"It was right after I had woken up, and I was 13!" Lucretia cried, struggling harder in Walburga's grip.

The girls lightly wrestled for a minute, bickering as they shoved and punched and hit. However Lucretia shoved too hard when Walburga went to tickle her, and the elder girl stumbled back and fell. It wasn't a big deal until Hadrian caught sight of the bludger speeding right towards her.

Lucretia spotted it right after he did, and let out a piercing scream that alerted Walburga something was wrong. She opened her mouth to scream as well, but was interrupted when Hadrian's body reacted to years of life-threatening situations and dived on top of her. The momentum rolled them a few inches, the tumble knocking the breath out of both of them and pressing them flush together.

It wasn't enough to completely avoid the bludger, and for the second time in his life Hadrian felt all the bones in his arm shatter as the round ball from hell slammed into the outstretched limb.

He didn't scream, just let out a hissed breath and squeezed his eyes shut tight. The pain lit up the nerves of his entire right side, blistering and throbbing. It hurt more than any belt or cut but didn't come close to the pain of basilisk venom or the agony of a crucio.

Lucretia was on him in a second, shouting his name and speaking a mile a minute as she pulled him back into a sitting position. The Slytherin team had landed, and most of them were clamoring to get closer, the racket of their speech giving Hadrian the start of a migraine. Belinda was chewing out the other beater, a scrawny looking guy, and waving her bat at him in a way that caused the guy to break out in a cold sweat. But all of this was blurry, fading in and out as the pain sent his body into a shock. With no adrenaline to keep him moving, Hadrian passed out.

 


 


The Slytherin common room had been boisterous and loud, as it apparently was on most Friday nights, so Ron immediately retired to his room when he came back from the library. Adney trailed behind him, nose in a book on the mermaid rebellions.

The room was quiet, as usual. Ron had found that the boys he was roomed with were easily described with one word -boring. And he was becoming restless, two weeks the longest had ever gone without performing a ritual or a small blood sacrifice. Everything about him itched, and his mind craved the stimulation he wasn't receiving. So Ron carelessly dropped the books he had checked out onto his side table with a heavy thud and turned on Adney.

"Do you play chess?" He asked out of the blue. Adney looked up, looking both disorientated and a bit irritated at being interrupted. But they melted into interest, and the book was snapped shut.

"Yes, actually. I am a part of the school's chess club, even." He replied, setting his own books in his area. Ron shucked the stiff black robes and the grey sweater underneath, loosening his tie one-handed as he opened the drawer on his side table.

"Fancy a game?"

Armey easily agreed, neatly hanging up his own robes though he left everything else in place. Ron grinned, consciously toning down the excitement he knew bled through. Ron had a bad habit of coming off a little…unhinged. He pulled his chess set out of the drawer and shut it with his hip, moving to sit at the table near the corner of the room. The Slytherin dorms were crazily large.

They sat and set up the game, quiet as the first moves were done. Chatter drifted in from the slightly open door, a backdrop for the game.

The atmosphere was falsely relaxed, Adney's fingers tapping against the table as he expertly ordered his pieces around. Ron kept up with him easily, tension seeping from his body as the moves got tougher and tougher.

Finally, when Adney took over two minutes to make a move, Ron spoke.

"It's getting close to the end of the month. Does Hogwarts celebrate Samhain? Or another holiday?" He asked.

Adney seemed surprised at the question. "We have a Samhain feast, yes. And the Divination professor leads a remembrance and cleansing ritual. I hear the Hufflepuffs hold a ritual for luck in the year to come where they write down dreams and wishes and stick them in a jar with glitter and fairy dust. Why?"

"That sounds…boring." Ron pretended to yawn, praying his intuition wasn't going to lead him into trouble. "What about the dark families?" He leans in to ask, pitching his voice low. Adney straightened like he had been struck by lighting, watching Ron curiously.

"What are you looking for?"

"Something a bit more..bloody. My friends and I do a ritual every year where we invoke Botus, the God of all things past and future. It's a wonderful ritual, and the knowledge he gives us…" Ron paused to compose himself, magic thrumming under his skin. He took a deep breath. "It's much more fun than that hope and mourning shite."

"It's much more Illegal," Adney commented, though his voice was bland.

Ron smiled, teeth peeking out from his lips. "My best mates are Black's."

"As are mine." He leaned back in his chair. "Are we invited?"

"Of course. Don't go spreading the invite though." Ron ran his hand through his hair, eyes flicking back to the chessboard.

"I'd never. Knight to H3."

Ron watched idly as the delicately carved knight slid across the board, before declaring. "Checkmate."

The look on Adney's face was nearly better than winning.

 


 


Hermione slipped through the halls, robes sweeping behind her as she searched. There. She quietly approached the pair standing under an archway, the permanent silencing charm on her shoes killing any footsteps that would otherwise echo in the empty hallway.

Malfoy was leaned against the wall, robe missing and hair disheveled. He was talking to a younger Slytherin, a boy with reddish hair and the ugliest nose Hermione had ever seen, and she had Snape as a teacher for over 4 years.


"Malfoy!" She called as she needed him, schooling her expression into something pleasant. Malfoy looked a bit startled to see her and was obviously confused about why she was speaking to him. She made sure not to look in his eye, etiquette rushing through her head.

"Black. To what do I owe the pleasure."

"Hadrian is looking for you. He says he feels he acted too rashly earlier and feels most comfortable speaking to you." She said, ducking her head a bit bashfully and smiling. Malfoy lit up, and she resisted the urge to gag.

"We'll continue this later, Killinger." Malfoy dismissed the younger boy, and the kid did a clumsy now before scurrying off. He then turned to her.

"I'd be happy to speak to Hadrian. A were all disappointed when he shot us down so quickly." He gestured for her to lead the way, following a little behind her as the started moving. Hermione glanced over her shoulder, pretending to make sure he was following her as she silently cast a compulsion charm on him.

Hermione led him down the twisting hallways to a secluded spot in a dead end. Malfoy was grinning, eyes glazed and unfocused. Hermione reached up and tilted his head gently, forcing him to look in her eyes. Malfoy, underestimating her, had left all his mental blocks down, and it was easy to skip inside his mind. With some delicate spellwork, Malfoy was now certain he was speaking to Hadrian, and the gentle persuasion of her magic urged him to be honest and straightforward.

"Malfoy, I'm afraid I made an uneducated decision earlier. It's just that I'm not keen on joining an organization I know nothing about. Can you explain it to me?" She asked, staring into his foggy grey eyes. Malfoy smiled, and moved closer to her, putting on the charm. She fought a grimace.

"Of course. Whatever you want to know."

"What's the name of your group?" She asked, lacing curiosity into her voice.

"We're called the Knights of Walpurgis. The names a bit silly, but Riddle chose it."

She hummed. "Does Riddle make a lot of the decisions?"

Malfoy hesitated, and she pressed her magic against him more firmly.

"Riddle makes all the decisions. It's his group after all. He's our Lord, and we are his loyal followers." Malfoy said, charm melting into something more serious. The hallway wasn't well lit, and the shadows cast over them made him look sinister.

"How long have you been around? The Knights I mean."

"Only about a year. We formed when Riddle found out about his ancestry."

Hermione paused, thinking about any information she needed. "What are your goals?"

She already had a pretty good idea, but seeing what the goals were before Voldemort lost his sanity would be enlightening.

"The subjugation or eradication of muggles, integration of muggleborns, and an upheaval of the Ministry and education system. We shouldn't be hiding, and when my Lord takes control of the Ministry we won't have to. We will free dark magic and creatures and establish our dominance in blood and magic." Malfoy grew more eager as he went on, a fervent madness seeping through his disorientated state. Hermione wasn't impressed but took note of his words.

"And what are you currently doing to achieve this?"

"Educating others and younger purebloods, making connections, studying laws. My Lord is insistent that the best way to get what we want is by convincing others we are right. But most of everything is on hold."

Hermione leaned closer, face inches from him and eyes alight with curiosity. "Why?" She whispered.

"Riddle is looking for something. He won't tell us what it is but he's obsessed. Spends ages searching the school and shaking down information."

Hermione smiled, deceivingly angelic, and Malfoy stared, caught firmly in her web. Her soft grip on his face tightened, nails sharply digging into his skin. He flinched, but didn't pull away as she lovingly murmured, "Obliviate."

It wasn't hard to convince a dazed Malfoy to walk back to the common room and ignore anything strange about the encounter. Anyone else skilled in mind magics would be able to break these spells, but no one would be able to break the obliviate or find any trace of her. She'd had lots of time and occasions to practice.

She herself hurried back, distracted and mulling over the information she received. Riddle was looking for the Chamber, that much was clear. But she was unsure how close he was, unable to remember the dates of the attacks. Either way, she had to inform Hadrian so he could come up with their next move.

Halfway down the dungeons, she's intercepted by a sweaty and out of breath Slytherin, dressed in quidditch robes and ruddy in the face.

"Hadrian Black is in the infirmary and requesting you!" The kid panted, leaning against the wall. She didn't pause to thank him or ask further questions, immediately spinning on heel and taking off. This was far too familiar to her, and she decided that visiting Hadrian in the Infirmary needed to stop happening this frequently. She was barely worried about him.

Chapter Text

"Really, Miss, It's not that bad." Hadrian insisted, attempting to be charming. The healer, a young woman who towered over a good amount of students, pursed her carefully painted lips.

"Mr. Black you came in with a shattered arm. Despite the bones now being whole, they are still fragile and sore. You will stay overnight and that's the end of it!" Madame June smoothed down her skirts and turned to the small crowd of muddy quidditch players and a small group of composed Blacks.

"I must insist those of you who are messy to say a quick goodbye and leave. I will not have you dirtying an area that holds wounded students!" She said firmly. When she got a few murmured agreements, she spun on heel and left to her office, poofy uniform skirts swishing behind her. As soon as her door clicked shut, a few of the Slytherin team were on him. All of them were messy, covered in dirt and grass stains from warm-up and hair a positive mess from the wind.

Barnaby Travers, the quidditch captain, stepped forward. He was an average boy with dirty blond hair and a round face, a 7th year if Hadrian remembered.

"I just wanted to apologize on behalf of the quidditch team for your injury. The bludger never goes that low, otherwise, we would have warned you." He said, friendly. Hadrian returns his smile.

"Apology accepted, no harm was done. We were the ones foolishly standing inside the wards. I hope you accept my own apologies, for interrupting your practice." Hadrian replied, mind racing through etiquette books. The acceptance of the apology was necessary, the casual comments were allowed, and the return apology was polite. Travers accepted his apology and hustled his team out of the sterile white room. Standing near the edges were Walburga, Lucretia, Cygnus, and another Black he didn't recognize. Walburga scrunched up her nose at the mess the rowdy team left, lazily waving her wand and casting a cleaning charm. Cygnus lead the small group over to Hadrian's bedside.

"Hello, Cygnus. It's a pleasure to see you again, you are a great flyer by the way." Hadrian commented, shifting where he was sitting on the bed. The light green blankets covered his legs, and his arm was in a sling to keep him from accidentally using it. Cygnus sat primly in the chair next to the bed, the unknown Black standing behind him while the girls sat neatly at the end of his bed. Both girls had obviously been crying, and Walburga was almost visibly shaken. Cygnus's posture screamed business.

"Hadrian Ignotus Black, today you have done a significant act. You've saved my sister's life, at your own harm." Cygnus's eyes were piercing, his heir ring glinting on his hand. Hadrian remained quiet.

"Normally our family would pledge an alliance with yours, along with the life debt my sister now owes you. However, as you are our own blood, I have decided to give you a favor. Anything you wish."

There's silence for a few moments, before Hadrian respectfully bowed his head. It took him a moment to remember to and he hoped everyone would just think he had been processing. "I gratefully accept, Heir Black. However, I hope you understand that I did it willingly and would do it again."

Walburga's breath hitched, and she grabbed Hadrian's unharmed hand. She was obviously overcome with feelings, to allow her mask to slip like this. He could see Cygnus smiling slightly out of the corner of his eye, and felt a pang as he understood these people were family. More importantly, they were family he could be himself with.

The group stood, and the unknown Black came forward. He was loose and relaxed, long black hair that fell to his shoulders and a twinkle in his eye that reminded Hadrian of Sirius. The boy held out his arm.

"Alphonse Black, Cygnus and Walburga's brother. It's a pleasure to meet you, and my apologies for not meeting you sooner. I sit with my friends at the Ravenclaw table during meals, you see."

Hadrian firmly gripped Alphonse's elbow, giving it the slightest shake. "Hadrian Black, Hermione Black's brother and your cousin. I accept your apology, and I hope to see you again soon."

Then they were sweeping out of the room, though Hadrian managed to call out to Lucretia before she left.

"Wait! Can you send someone to find my sister? If she has to find out after I get out she'll have my head." He asked, sheepishly. Lucretia smiled, humorously.

"I'll send for her. Good day cousin."

 


 


By the time Hermione arrived, Madame June had checked on him and given him another dose of pain potions despite his insistance he was fine. She looked bored and vaguely irritated, sweeping in with the practiced grace she had been hammering into them. Her magic was less controlled than usual, Hadrian could feel it whipping around her.

"There's my sister. I was starting to think you'd never come." Hadrian grinned, though Hermione didn't mirror it. She sat down on the bottom of his bed much like the girls had, and surveyed his appearance.

"What have you done now?"

"Shattered my arm. Bludger accident." He said casually. She made a small huff, and promptly reached over and hit him in his uninjured arm.

"Hey! Injured here!"

"You aren't even in Quidditch, really. Perhaps Blaise was right, you are a trouble magnet."

Hadrian let out a short laugh, enjoying the put-out look on her face.

"Since we've established you're okay, I have news." She said, cutting off the lighthearted banter. Both slipped into serious mode, straightening up and casting silencing charms.

"Go on."

"I have that information you wanted. I took it from Malfoy, as he was the easiest to get alone and the least suspicious." She began, adjusting her robe across her lap.

"And?"

"He doesn't remember a thing, though he sang like a bird. Riddle's group is called the Knights of Walpurgis, pretentious I know. They have most of the same views, murder all muggles, segregate the muggleborns. They aren't very far but they're only 16, and Riddle had put a pause on their plans." She listed all business.

"Pause?" He asked, curious.

"He's searching for the Chamber and his family ties. I don't know how successful he is in either, so we need to know what were doing."

Hadrian's eyebrows launched up, surprise filling him. The chamber, of course! Riddle opened it his 5th year, though he had no idea when. That meant he hadn't made his first Horcrux yet, may not even know about them at all. He thought for a while, both of them lapsing into silence.

Releasing the Basilisk would not be a good thing to allow to happen. Fingers would likely be pointed at them as they're the newcomers, and the restrictions and rules of a threatened Hogwarts would have negative effects on their goals. Also, Hadrian would rather not find out if Hermione was now safe. So he would have to stop that..but how?

"We have to make sure it doesn't open. I'll go down to the Chambers and attempt to reason with the basilisk. Perhaps if I arrive first, I can win its loyalty." Hadrian finally decided, fingers drumming against his thigh. Hermione nodded, obviously thinking.

"And if you can't?"

"I've killed it before."

 


 


Hermione left when Madame June decided he needed to rest, promising to inform Ron and gather more information. The pain potions were catching up to him, and he was dozing lightly after eating dinner when his peace was again interrupted.

Dumbledore sat at his bedside, smiling kindly and playing with a box of Bertie Botts. It was oddly reminiscent of his first trip to the hospital wing, and if not for the youthful appearance of the professor and the differences in the room, he might think he was back there.

"Mr. Black. It's good to finally meet you personally, I haven't been able to speak to you during class. I've heard from the other teachers that you and your sister are excelling beyond my class." Dumbledore said, his voice lacking some of the rasp and weakness he was used to. The grey streaked red of his hair and beard were by far the weirdest to see.

"I enjoy learning," Hadrian said shortly, struggling to come off as uninterested and polite when really all he wanted to do was..well It was enough to get the Kiss. Several times.

"That is a great attitude to have. One many students don't share."

He had a feeling idle chatter could go on for a while.

"I'm sorry, Professor, but may I ask why you are here?" He asked bluntly. Dumbledore seemed taken aback. He waited patiently as the old man gathered his composure.

"I simply wanted to see how you were doing. Putting yourself in danger for the sake of another student was a wonderfully heroic thing to do. It reminds me of a student I used to have, a Potter." Dumbledore added, conversationally. Hadrian suddenly knew where this was going.

"Your father was a Potter, correct? A great family, very warm and welcoming. Have you ever met your relatives?"

Hadrian couldn't decide whether the whir of minutes in spells, the endless ticking of the clock, or Dumbledore's obnoxious voice was worse.

"I've met nearly all my cousins." Hadrian responded, pretending not to know Dumbledore meant his 'light' relatives.

"And the Potters?" Dumbledore pushed.

"No. They stopped talking to my father after the marriage."

"Perhaps you should reach out, my boy-"

Hadrian interrupted him, anger mounting. What had been simmering under the surface boiled over, triggered by that word. "Please do not call me that. No offense meant, Professor, but it's presumptive to treat me so familiar when this is the first time we've met." His tone was sharp and left no room for further friendliness. "And as you aren't the head of my house, and we aren't close, I wonder why you have decided to sit at my bedside and question me."

There's silence for a moment, Dumbledore's expression patronizing and falsely kind though his eyes were calculating. "With a heroic action like you've done, you could have been one of my lions. Most Slytherins would not have done what you did, Mr. Black."

The old man was reaching, and it was pathetic.

"I realize I haven't been here long, Professor Dumbledore, but your lions aren't the only brave ones. Everyone has the capability to be brave and heroic, just as everyone can be smart and loyal and ambitious. But that doesn't make them any less of their house, just as I am no less of a Slytherin. And really, as a Gryffindor, what do you know about Slytherins?"

Madame June bustled out then, ending the tense conversation. She shooed Dumbledore from the infirmary, yelling about disturbing her patients. It was quite amusing until she turned to him with her hands on her hips.

 


 


There was perfect silence, barely the sound of breathing interrupting the stillness of the room. It was a dusty, abandoned classroom with a sleek wooden table in the center. Tom Riddle sat at the front of the table, long legs gracefully crossed and hands resting on the armrest. He gazed impassively at his Knights, who were sitting ramrod straight in their own chairs, waiting for the meeting to begin.

Nott looked ready to sweat under Tom's gaze, a sharp contrast to the bored expression on Rosier's face across from him and the positively bloodthirsty look on Lestrange's. Deciding the silence had gone in long enough, Tom began.

"In our last meeting, you were informed of Hadrian Black's potential, and my decision to have him join as our 7th. However," Tom paused, fingers clenching into the armrests, his jaw tightening. "Black has refused. At first, I was unable to understand why. But the more I watch him, the more strange he appears. This meeting I want any strange behavior you've seen. Perhaps we can get to the bottom of this."

There's quiet for a moment before Tom lazily waved his hand to prompt them to begin. Rosier, his right-hand man, started.

"Black is advanced in his studies, beyond what you would assume from him considering he was tutored. He seems to have no trouble assimilating to actual classes, My Lord."

Tom nodded, showing he heard Rosier. He gazed off into the distance, pensive.

"He knows his way around the castle like he's lived here for years. I've seen him use hidden passages, navigate the moving staircase like a pro, and navigate the Slytherin dungeons half asleep." Nott piped up. Several heads nodded.

"I saw him greet a portrait by name the other day. She was baffled that he knew her." Avery added.

"This could be explained away as him wandering the halls often. It's odd, surely, but what else?" Tom interrupted, impatient. He filed that fact away to observe later.

"My Lord, the three of them recently lost their parents. Two weeks ago, actually." Malfoy began, hesitant. When the intense gray eyes swiveled to state into his own, he elaborated. "They don't seem to be in mourning. They don't even appear upset, as if they've moved on by the time they arrived at Hogwarts. From the close relationship they've described, shouldn't they be visibly distraught?"

"Good point Malfoy." Tom purred, the boy gracefully shifting positions to lean over the table. "I hadn't noticed that."

Proud to have pleased his Lord, Malfoy seemed to straighten farther, into a confident stance.

"He's a fighter." Lestrange suddenly said, staring intently at Tom. Tom's head whipped over to look at Lestrange.

"Explain." He demanded, glad someone else had picked up on this tidbit. Lestrange's eyes positively glowed, his smile lopsided and disconcerting.

"Black holds himself tall, wand in easy reach and eyes constantly watching his surroundings. Like he's always expecting an attack. He almost always sits in places he can see all the exits and the majority of the room."

Tom grinned, a strange sight for his followers. "Exactly. Black maps out his exits when he enters a room, did you notice that? He's also exceptional at dueling, Professor Merrythought admitted to me that she's only seen aurors duel like that. Add this up with his sudden appearance, and the strong magic on his bed, and I believe dear Black has a secret."

"Is he a threat my Lord?" Orion Black asked, his hands clenched into his robes.

"What do you mean?"

"It's just…it seems he's building his own inner circle. My Lord."

Tom laughed, a cold, amused sound that sent shivers down all of their spines. He leaned casually back in his chair, all the ease of a powerful king.

"An inner circle? Really Black, I don't care how highly you think of you're cousins, they're still women. Hadrian Black has surrounded himself with a bunch of girls, a lazy halfwit, and the meek Yaxley scion. Even if he were attempting to build a circle I'm hardly afraid." A few of the others chuckled, but Black still looked worried. Rosier gazed into the distance thoughtfully.

"Now, your orders. Rosier, Lestrange, I want you to get closer to Black. Perhaps he's hesitant to join because he doesn't know us. Convince him of our vision."

"Yes, My Lord."

"Avery, Nott, Black's sister is becoming a nuisance in class. While I doubt my standing of first in our year is going to be threatened, I don't like her easily becoming second. Distract her, ruin her notes, give her false information, I don't care. Just do something."

"Yes, My Lord."

"Black, continue spreading our message to the younger years. It's imperative we influence them before they gain their own opinion."

"Yes, My Lord."

"And Malfoy. Continue doing what you do best, making connections. You'll be graduating next year, and we need you in the ministry."

"Yes, My Lord."

"Dismissed."

They filed out, silent, and Tom was left with his thoughts. Hadrian Black was smart, powerful, cautious. But he was also defiant and prideful, the fearless look on his face when he told Tom Riddle 'no thanks'…it was beautiful and made Tom want to spill blood. But he would not, because winning Black over would be worth it. Tom smirked, a dangerous look crossing his angelic features.

Black will soon learn everyone kneels before Tom. Whether they want to or not.

Chapter Text

The '40s were strange, and there was a very obvious sense of not belonging. From knowing things that don't exist yet, to having no ties, Hadrian had to admit what really hammered it home was the clothes. Getting dressed Saturday morning was strange, as he was used to baggy jeans and cheap shirts. Instead, he pulled on charcoal grey trousers, a white button-up, and a soft cashmere pullover in a dark forest green. Instead of ratty sneakers, he had gleaming black oxfords, and a fairly nice watch tested in his wrist. He looked good, he thought.

Of course, if he thought getting dressed was strange, seeing Mione and Ron was stranger. Hermione was a vision with pinned back hair and soft makeup, a white blouse with a peter pan collar covered by a waist-high a-line skirt in a deep violet that matched her skin tone well. Black heeled ankle boots gave her a boost of height, and white stockings covered any skin the skirt didn't. Ron was dressed in a blue pinstriped button-up, black trousers, and his hair was slicked back neatly.

"Looking good, 'Mione. Perhaps I should lock you in your room, you're sure to draw attention from boys now." Hadrian grinned, gesturing for her to do a spin. She laughed delightedly, twirling for him slowly.

"Camilla helped me with my hair and makeup, said I was hopeless at it. Isadora laughed at me the whole time, but I'll get her back."

A girl appeared behind Hermione, and Hadrian was startled by her appearance. The girl was short with inky black hair straight as a board, her pale skin paler against the deep purple of her lips, and her eyes were nearly black with blue bags. Her nails were long and sharp, painted black, and her thin neck was covered by a black satin choker with a bright blue gem in it. She was positively gothic, her long dress black with black lace, and when she smiled it sent chills down his spine. Her eyes found his, as she kindly said, "Your sweater looks dashing with your eyes."

Hadrian blinked, before thanking her. Hermione smiled down at the girl, and Ron looked uncomfortable. Ron moved his gaze to the book clutch in her spidery fingers.

"What's that?" He asked, shoving his hands in his pockets. She gazed at him, and he paled, freckles standing stark against his bloodless skin.

"A wizarding novel. It's about a necromancer, who falls in love with a wizard dying from smallpox. She brings him back after he dies, but deep down at knows that the vessel she brings back only had a shadow of him left in it. It's a tragedy, but all good stories are." She explained, tracing the words in the cover fondly. Ron looked creeped out, but Hadrian understood.

"Isadora, don't you have a detention to get to?" Hermione gently reminded the girl, who rolled her eyes and left.

They made their way down the hall into the common room, which was nearly empty due to the early time. Hadrian took a seat next to the constantly roaring fireplace, on a couch that was much softer than it looked. Hermione sat next to him, dark skin illuminated beautifully in the flickering firelight, while Ron slouched in a chair across from them.

"She was interesting," Ron said, a bit meanly, as he stuck his foot up on the table. Hermione forced it off, glaring at him.

"I am not happy with you Ronald, so don't press your luck." She said darkly. Ron held up his hands defensively, looking gobsmacked.

"What did I do?!" He asked, and Hadrian smirked. That was not a smart tone to give an angry 'Mione. Sure enough, she whacked him, scowling.

"Acted like a bloody Gryffindor, that's what! Do you realize how stupid it was to bluntly ask Yaxley if he wanted to join our illegal celebration?!" She hissed, leaning into his space.

"It worked, didn't it? Merlin's balls, Hermione, I got them to join what more so you want?!"

Hermione whacked him again, and they bicker for a moment. Hadrian swept his eyes over the nearly empty common room, eyes drawn to the ominous dark shapes that swam past the window. When he heard them quiet down, he turned back to his friends, ready to discuss their next moves.

"The ritual is in a week, what supplies are we going to need?" Hadrian asked, resting his cheek against his fist. Hermione settled back into her seat, digging up a pad and quill from her bag.

"We'll need all the candles, the oils, a ritual knife, a sacrifice, and somewhere to do this." She read off, twirling the quill's feather across her cheek. Hadrian thought, knowing that the ingredients would be rarely easy to find. The place and an appropriate sacrifice would be harder. He slid his gaze over to Ron.

"Check out the ROR for the place. And find a sacrifice from the forest. Hermione, get the ingredients." He ordered.

"And what will you be doing?" Ron asked.

"I have to decide my action towards the Basilisk. I need to feed her and gain her trust without endangering any of the stu-"

They all quiet down when they hear the phrase 'filthy muggles', turning to find Orion Black chatting with a few first years. Orion was scowling, and the younger kids hung off of his every word with awe. The pure slander and lies coming out of his mouth were awful, and Hermione was about to cut in when a blur bounced down on a chair next to Hadrian.

It was Lucretia, dressed in loose trousers and a rich brown blouse with a bow tied through the collar. She's barefoot and beaming, leaning over the arm of the chair to speak to Hadrian.

"Before you were injured you mentioned that you draw, right? I was really hoping I could see your work!" Lucretia immediately asked, skipping pleasantries completely. Hadrian leaned back in his seat, eyes wide and a bit panicked. He really didn't like showing off his work.

"Uhh….."

She pouted, giving him puppy eyes and pleading, "Please, Cousin?!" Hadrian sighed, and hefted himself up.

"Fine. Let me go grab it." He said reluctantly, making his way out of the commons and into his room. Lestrange was still in the room, slouched casually on his bed and tossing a rubber ball at the wall. His dark eyes caught right of Hadrian and he stopped, holding the ball firmly.

Hadrian ignored him, bending over to grab his thick, worn sketchbook from the bottom drawer of his nightstand. When he still up again Lestrange was suddenly behind him, snatching the book from his hands before Hadrian even knew what was going on. The shorter boy made a loud protest, but Lestrange was already flipping open to a random page, delighted at what he found.

"Give it back!" Hadrian demanded, but Lestrange just shot him an amused look. He smirked down at the white page, and Hadrian couldn't fathom what was so interesting.

"He's cute. Cedric…you put an awful lot of detail into his drawing, Black." Lestrange mused. Horror filled Hadrian's gut, and wide-eyed he quickly summoned the sketchbook back, clutching it to his chest. But Lestrange wasn't done, swaggering up into his personal space.

"He's pretty, did you have a thing for him? I never thought that wholesome, boy-next-door look would do it for you," Lestrange reached down and twirled a lock of Hadrian's hair around his fingers, leaning even closer into Hadrian's space. Their chests bumped, and he could feel his breath on his face. "I thought you'd be all about the dangerous ones. You're so innocent-looking, a boy like you needs someone stronger, someone, who can really pound you into-"

Hadrian hexed him, knocking him back a few feet and turning his skin a startling red. Satisfied with his work and ignoring the disbelieving look on Lestrange's face, Hadrian hurried out of the room and back to his friends, face flushed and angry.


Hermione was asking Lucretia about her plans for the day when an older boy came up to them, looking at Ron.

"Professor Slughorn would like to speak to you in his office." The boy said simply, looking bored. Ron frowned, and shrugged when Hermione sent him a questioning look. Ron followed the boy, passing Hadrian who was coming out of the hallway, pale skin pink and desperately holding his sketchbook against his chest.

Lucretia doesn't notice his state, just eagerly taking the sketchbook from him and opening it. Hadrian sat back down, and both of them looked over her shoulder at what she was looking at.

The first picture she sees is obviously old, from when Harry was younger. It's of 12-year-old Hermione and Ron sitting in the grass outside of Hagrid's cabin, and Lucretia looked back up at Hermione in shock, obviously comparing the frazzled, unattractive child in the drawing with the elegant woman in front of her. Hermione smiled ruefully, and Lucretia looked at where Hermione's buck teeth used to be.

"Puberty was kind to me." She explained, and Lucretia thankfully moved on. There were more pictures of Hermione and Ron, as well as a picture of the twins setting off a prank and a sloppy self-portrait. It was the first time Hadrian had drawn himself, and he winced at the image of a skeletal, wild-looking child. He flipped the page for her this time, ignoring her questioning look. The next image was of the basilisk, in all its elegant glory, slithering out of a pipe and into the bone filled water. Lucretia gasped in awe at the image, spending several moments looking at it. But eventually, she moved on to more images of his friends, a colorful drawing of the Burrow, before coming across the image of Cedric Lestrange had found.

Cedric was sitting in the grass on the quidditch pitch, dressed in street clothes and tilting his face up to the sun. He's grinning, and Harry had spent weeks sketching every shadow and eyelash. The next image is of Fleur at the Yule Ball, spinning with her dress and her hair flowing around her. It's still, but the movement in the picture is obvious and something Hadrian was particularly proud of. Lucretia complemented it and flipped to the next page. There were drawings of Draco and Blaise, both scowling, and vividly colored drawings of the dragons. A moving picture of Fawks dying and being reborn, McGonagall transforming into a cat, and an image of Sirius and Remus reading on the couch, holding hands.

His sketchbook held his life and soul, and while he had another filled with drawings he couldn't risk falling into other hands, the safe one still revealed the moments of his life. There was a rude caricature of Umbridge he hadn't finished, and then she turned the page and Hadrian's heart stopped.

The graveyard was shown, sketched ominously in black and white with heavy fog rolling across the page. Only the fog was enchanted to move, but as it did it revealed a glowing trophy laying broken on the ground. Lucretia frowned and flipped the page, finding the same graveyard looking even more like a horror scene. Harry took the book back before she could find the more disturbing ones, clearing his throat. Those drawings had happened after his nightmares last summer, and he had been too distressed to remember to draw them in the other one.

"What was that?" She asked quietly, looking at Hadrian in concern. Hermione is stiff and silent, watching Hadrian closely.

"Just a place I have nightmares about," Hadrian said, although the thickness of his voice gave him away. He forced a smile. "Can I draw you?"

The girl eagerly agreed, and for the next half an hour he quietly drew as the girls chatted about their classes. The pencil in his hand was familiar and comforting, the soft sounds of the lead against the page lulling him into a state of calm as his entire mind was taken up by the details and the scene in front of him. The common room was slowly filling, students waking and coming down to either go to breakfast or lounge in the chairs.

Camilla wandered over, wearing a modest pink dress and a white camilla in her hair. She walked past Hermione, apparently heading over to Lucretia, but Hermione noticed the glinting locket the girl always wore looked familiar. She reached out and grabbed it to get a better look, but something shot through her and suddenly she was stuck in a memory.

Hermione was cornered in an abandoned classroom by a sneering Pansy Parkinson. Hermione's wild hair framed her terrified expression, her body pressed tightly against the wall and her knobby knees shaking. It's fourth year, and both girls just got out of class, still dressed in their uniforms but lacking robes. Pansy traced her wand down the side of Hermione's cheek, looking nasty.

"Look at you, just a mudblood whore. You think you're so special, too of our class and ever so smart." Pansy spat, digging her wand in deep against Hermione's cheek and cackling when the girl flinched.

"But I know your secret. You spread your legs for your grades, don't you? Lay down and take it from any teacher that asks. I bet you love it too. The smartest thing you've ever done was realize that as a filthy, dark-skinned mudblood the only way to pretend to be close to as good as girls like me we to slut yourself out." Pansy continued, so close array spittle landed on Hermione's cheek. Pansy reached up and ripped Hermione's short open, jabbing her wand into the flesh right under her belly button.

"How often do you let those two friends of yours use you as a cockwarmer, huh?" She asked conversationally, ignoring Hermione's trembling body and screams as she slowly carved into her flesh.

W H O R E

The next day Hermione watched Pansy take an absentminded bite out of a muffin that had appeared on her plate. Harry and Ron are arguing next to her, probably about Cedric, but her focus was completely on the Slytherin table. Every time she breathed the scabbing on her stomach stretched and pulled under the bandages she had wrapped around them. It stung, and she was sure she'd be scarred for life. But as Pansy's eyes bugged and her face turned purple, satisfaction coiled in her stomach. Pansy clutched desperately at the table, drawing attention towards herself, and by the time she fell to the floor the entire hall was a loud commotion. Hermione could just barely see Pansy's lifeless eyes staring in horror, body limp and cooling, from her seat. When Dumbledore ordered them all back to their houses Hermione faked the fear and concern of everyone else, but her hand played with the empty vial in her pocket.

Hermione ripped her hand away from the locket, gasping and staring up at Camilla with a shocked and bloodless face. Camilla stared down at her, the look in her eyes confirming Hermione's suspicion that she had also seen the memory. But despite the fact that the woman just watched Hermione murder her grand-daughter, revealing both Hermione's time traveler status and her murder, Camilla just stared down into her eyes quietly.

"Are you alright?" Hadrian asked, pencil paused in the air. Camilla looked at him, dazed but mustering a smile.

"Fine. It seems my locket shocked her, no harm done." Camilla replied easily, though both Black's could hear the tremor in her voice.

 


 


The hall was a thrum of chatter, laughter and shouts echoing around the Great Hall. Giant pumpkins grinned and shrieked near the walls, and paper bats swooped around student's heads. Hadrian grabbed a toffee off of Adney's plate, grinning charmingly when the boy made a noise of protest.

Walburga, Adney, Hermione, and he were discussing the History of Magic class, Adney suggesting actual History books to read during Binns's drolling. Ron and Belinda argued about Quidditch through full mouths near them, their argument passionate and heading toward violent. Lucretia and Camilla are leaned close, giggling about their recent letters from their families while making goo-goo eyes at each other.

Headmaster Dippet stood, drawing a hush over the students' everyone looking up at the wrinkled, wizened wizard.

"Tonight we celebrate the blessed night of Samhain, a night of death and new beginnings for us all. Magic is high tonight and the veil is thin, I hope all of you take time tonight to honor the dead and to let go of the past to make room for the future. Enjoy your feast, and a happy new year." The Headmaster said, clasping his hands together and looking over all of them solemnly. He smiled, for Samhain was still a night of celebration despite its mournful meanings.

Everyone went back to their meals, but Isadora leaned into the group, tapping her sharp nails against the table. Her fake lashes fluttered, the spiderweb designs she had drawn on her face shimmering with dew.

"You know, Jeremy Longbottom has been loudly proclaiming to anyone who will listen that Samhain is a dark, evil celebration full of dark magic. He says that the muggle Halloween is much better and should replace it." Isadora gossiped, a hand coming up to fiddle with her black lace choker.

Walburga scoffed, rolling her eyes, and a few of the others expressed their distaste as well.

"Just another tradition the light are trying to wipe out. Soon enough we'll just be muggles, forgetting we even have magic at all." Adney said bitterly.

"Samhain is a magical celebration! It's tied to our magics and out beliefs, unlike a muggle celebration that not only commercialized fake magic but stems directly from the same people that demonized us and burned us at the stake!" Walburga agreed, bidding as she stabbed a noodle on her plate.

"Why should we change our holidays away from not only out traditions but away from our magic itself? These thoughts of good and evil that are tainting our society come directly from uneducated muggleborns who come into our world only knowing the closed-minded ideas from the Muggle world." Hadrian pointed out, drawing everyone's attention towards him.

Lucretia frowned. "Are you suggesting we don't allow muggleborn into the wizarding world?"

Hadrian shook his head. "Not at all. I'm suggesting we actually teach them, explain and integrate them into our culture and beliefs in a way that benefits us all."

The group around him stared at him in various states of shock and thought. The discussion is ended however when the hall started to empty. Before they could leave, Hadrian caught Lucretia, Adney, and Walburga.

"Meet us on the 7th floor near the tapestry at 2:30 tonight. Don't get caught." He told them quietly, before merging into the crowd.

 


 

Hadrian sat on his unmade bed, bare feet curling into his blankets and back pressed up against his headboard. His charmwork had been undone, and he sat on his perfectly normal-looking bed with his large sketchbook in his lap. He had charcoal on his fingers and a streak smeared on his jaw, the image of Lucretia sitting on the chair and laughing started on the page. Rosier and Lestrange were playing a magic card game on Lestrange's bed, both ready for bed and cursing up a storm. Riddle sat in his own bed, homework laid out in front of him as he wrote an essay, still fully dressed. Glancing over once again though, he noticed the black leather cover in his hands. Oh, he was writing in his diary. Just the sight of it sent pain shooting through Hadrian.

Riddle glanced up at Hadrian, looking irritated. He slammed his diary shut scowling, but the expression smoothed into bland disinterested when his gaze fell down to Hadrian's sketchbook.

"What are you doing?" Riddle asked, drawing the attention of Rosier and Lestrange, who paused in their game.

"I'm writing out my plans to summon the muggle Satan, I wanted to see if the rumors that it's actually you are true," Hadrian replied, just as bland though irritation spiked in him. Riddle had a way of making him want to shove a knife through his stupidly handsome face.

Rosier let out a quiet chuckle, covering his mouth with his cards even though Riddle's face once again crumpled into a scowl. Lestrange, however, lit up.

"Is that your sketchbook? Are you drawing us?!" He asked delighted. Lestrange leaned forward on his bed as if to peer at the drawing.

Hadrian snorted. "I only draw attractive people."

Lestrange made an offended gasp, dramatically pressing his hand to his chest over his tank top, and jerking back as if he'd been shot. Then he seemed to get an idea, slowly smirking. This couldn't be good.

"Oh. Are you drawing Cedric again?"

Hadrian glared, ignoring the dark twisting in his chest. Cedric was too fresh to deal with this. "Fuck off, Lestrange."

He didn't notice Riddle perking up, avidly listening to the conversation now. Lestrange crowed out a laugh, falling back onto the bed ignoring the disgruntled look Rosier shot him as I moved out of the way. Lestrange states at Hadrian from his position, hair falling over his face and looking positively joyful.

"You are, aren't you? You're drawing your little boyfriend! Can I see, or is it scandalous?!"

Hadrian refrained from cursing Lestrange bloody, an intestinal knitting curse on the tip of his tongue. Instead, he slammed his curtains shit without a word. He could hear Lestrange laughing and cast a silencing spell, firmly ignoring the ache of loss in his chest and the flicker of a lifeless body behind his eyes.

 


 

At 2:27 am, the trio stood silently by the tapestry. Ron was vibrating with excitement, and Hermione kept fingering the bag at her side, distracted. There was no one nearby, and the torches were few and far between, casting deep shadows over the stone passages. Hadrian leaned against the wall,

"The best part of being back now is Sluggy only makes us write a sheet of parchment once a month, compared to 4 sheets every night," Ron commented, picking at the ink on his fingers. Hermione looked ready to argue, but in the end, begrudgingly agreed.

"Snape knew options though, Slughorn's a fool, and half the class is failing because of it," Hadrian commented, though defending Snape made him feel disgusted. Footsteps echoed down the silent castle then, causing all three to snap their gazes up to the four teens approaching. The only one who didn't look nervous was Cygnus, and Hadrian briefly worried that tonight would scar then irreparably. He shook that off, and stood tall, slipping into leader mode.

"Before we start, I need to inform you that I am leading the ceremony tonight. Do any of you have a problem with that?" He inquired. There were a few shaken heads, so they proceeded.

Hermione cast a quick cleaning charm over all of them, though the group was distracted by Ron, pacing up and down the corridor to summon the room. When the heavy wood door appeared, the group was visibly amazed.

"Where did that door come from? How did you know it was here, you've only been here for a few weeks! Is it-" Adney rambled, looking excited and apprehensive. Hadrian ignored him and ushered them inside.

As the door closed behind them, the group was thrown into complete darkness, broken only when Hermione cast a Lumos. The week light only barely lit up the bare stone room, but at uttered another spell and tossed the ball of light up, the light detaching from her wand and forming a larger, brighter ball near the ceiling.

"Please take off your shoes, socks, accessories, and anything that isn't your clothes and your wand. Please." Hadrian ordered them, his own feet here and his clothes simple fabric. Behind him, Ron and Hermione were taking things out of a small bag, setting them up. Rob lifted a struggling deer out of the bag, easily restraining it and moving it to the center of the room, tying it up with silver chains. Adney paled, and Hadrian smirked.

Hermione was setting up silver, purple, orange, and yellow candles up in two circles, one around the frantic deer and a larger one around that one. Hadrian led the group inside the largest circle, gently moving them around as he pleased. A circle of salt is poured directly outside of the largest circle, and then Hermione joined them inside. A wave of Hadrian's hand has the candles lighting up, the flickering flames signaling Hermione to cancel her Lumos. Cast in an eery glow, they began.

Hadrian lowly started chanting in Latin, letting the power of the incantation wash over him like a warm bath. As he invoked Botus, Ron harshly sliced the deer's throat, splattering himself and the area around where he was kneeling in blood. Ron just grinned and moved the head to pour the blood into a stone bowl underneath. Hadrian ignored it, continuing chanting as he slowly walked around the circle of people, dipping his fingers into a smaller stone bowl, filled with cedarwood oil, and brushing the oil across the very tops of everyone's forehead. Hermione shivered under his fingers, looking electric in the lights. She was already lightly sweating, and Hadrian gave her a fond smile.

Ron took the bowl filled with blood, leaving the corpse tied up, and began painstakingly painting runes at people's feet. Harry had moved on to dotting mugwort in the center of everyone's forehead, where their third eye lied. He stepped over Ron, who was smearing a rune for 'year' at Cygnus's feet. Hadrian, finished with the mugwort, set the bowl aside and picked up the next one, calmly asking, "Please lift your shirts up, to your ribcage."

Lucretia flushed and Walburga opened her mouth to protest, looking indignant when Cygnus shut them up with a sharp look. Only Hadrian could speak right now. Everyone, including Ron who paused in his painting, lifted their shirts so Hadrian could brush a mix of sandalwood and myrrh across their diaphragms. His chanting never breaks. He noticed Ron was finishing up the rune for 'future' in front of his empty spot, completing the circle. Year, knowledge, vision, power, worship, future, memory.

"Everyone, please sit in from of your runes. Do not smear them, blow out any of the candles, or mess with the salt line." Hadrian intoned, setting down his last bowl and moving to his spot. Ron scurried over to his own empty place and sat, knowing that being caught standing when the visions started was a surefire way to get a concussion.

Hadrian's chanting intensified, echoing ominously in the bare room, and all of them are violently thrown into visions.

Images and scenes flashed before Hadrian's eyes. A large, beautiful basilisk slithering through the chamber, stacks of falling apart books weakened and yellowed with age in front of a portrait of a man, one he doesn't recognize. He saw himself whirling across a crowded ballroom with a man in a mask, a beautiful girl with dark brown hair waving at him from down a hall, calling out his name and grinning, Riddle's dark eyes staring into his intensely, a large younger year gazing up at him from under scraggly brown hair, looking at him like he'd hung the moon and Hadrian protects him. Camilla, twitching violently on the ground, Draco's hate-filled face with tear marks, Riddle, tracing his scar with wonder in his eyes, Riddle with his hand around his throat hissing at him in rage as he presses him deeply into a wall.

Hermione, Ron, Walburga, Lucretia, the beautiful girl, Adney, and Camilla standing in front of him. They slowly fall to their knees to kneel. A familiar-looking couple with dark hair and deep laugh lines having dinner with him in an unfamiliar house.

Coming too, Hadrian gasped out a pained breath, head aching and body clenched tight. The world span around him, and his mind raced with the vague information.

"It's never worked so well before." He whispered, looking into the glazed and dazed eyes of the trend in front of him.

Chapter Text

Hadrian ducked into the third-floor girls bathroom, taking care to check around for witnesses now that Moaning Myrtle wasn't around to cause girls to avoid it. He cast a small ward, something that would cause those who wanted to enter to suddenly change their minds.

After the faint glow of the ward faded, he turned around to face the unchanged bathroom. The circle of sinks in the middle were well cared for, the mirrors and faucets gleaming and the stone free from coats of dust. He traced a finger over the lip of the sinks, slowly walking over to the now-familiar one. The snake carving brought a smile to his face, memories of fumbled learning and childish games coming to his mind.

"Open." He whispered, stepping back as the sink moved and sunk into a long tunnel. He barely hesitated, stepping over and allowing gravity to send him shooting down the tunnel, calling a quick "Close!" As he went.

Hitting the bottom was met with a sickening crunch of snapping bones and echos of dripping water. His robes were coated in slime and dust, a disgusting mixture that would have made him gag if he wasn't who he was. Instead, he waved his wand, casting a thorough cleaning spell that made his skin tingle and his robes flutter. He pressed his glasses further up his face and gazed around.

The Chamber looked nearly identical to when he first found it, covered in grime and bones, snakeskin and rot. The floor was just as flooded, dark depths surrounding bits of dry stone. He took a step deeper into the chamber, hearing his footsteps echo hollowly. Seeing it like this, well it brought much different memories to mind.

 

Tom Riddle, in all his semi-translucent glory, pointed Harry's wand unwaveringly at him. Harry looked afraid and betrayed, mind racing with the knowledge that his friend, the only person he felt understand him, was only using him. Ginny laid like a corpse on the ground behind him, skin colorless and hair like waves of blood where they splayed around her. She was dying, and Harry couldn't figure out why that didn't upset him.

Tom stalked forward, his face earnest and handsome even as he kept the wand trained on him. Harry stumbled back, but Tom reached out and grabbed his forearm to steady him. Harry gazed up at him, wide-eyed and young.

"Are you going to fight me, Harry?" Tom asked, voice deceptively quiet.

Harry's voice shook. "I will if I have to." But he didn't know if he could. He spent nights pouring his heart out to Tom, and the idea of harming him, of going against him..it didn't feel right.

"Why do you do this? Why do you continuously fight for the light side when your heart longs for the dark? Why do you waste all this potential you have for a man who doesn't care about you? Dumbledore doesn't care about you at all, Harry, he only sees you as a means to the end, a sacrificial chess piece!" Tom ranted, his smooth voice quickly becoming louder and passionate as he drew Harry closer almost unconsciously. Harry gasped in surprise, breaking Tom's anger. Tom gazed down into the teary eyes of a twelve-year-old, who's malnourished body trembled with an unknown emotion.

Tom relaxed, grip gentling as he smiled. "Join me instead, think of all you could be at my side! You could be so much more than this puppet, you will be powerful and happy! You'll want nothing for the rest of your life, you'll be free to be yourself. Join me, and the options are limitless." He insisted, bright and sincere. Harry wavered, though his heart screamed to go with his friend. He'd noticed how wrong everything was around him, noticed how he was treated. He wanted to make his own choices.

But the small girl behind him was barely breathing, looking like a puppet whose strings had been cut and Harry knew she was minutes from death. And while he still had a worrying feeling of detachment at the thought, his brain knew that her death would not be good for them.

"I will, I'll join you, Tom. I promise. But not like this. Killing Ginny will only make Dumbledore watch me closer, and I have to keep up appearances. Ginny dying will make Ron hate me, and if I lose my friends I'll have nobody!" Harry pleaded, grabbing onto the hand Tom gripped him with. Tom seemed to almost pout.

"You'll have me."

Harry gave him a small smile, liking the childish way Tom seemed to act when he didn't get his way. "Yeah, but aren't I more useful without the lights suspicion." He insisted. "If you let her go and go back into the diary I'll write you every day. We'll find another way."

 

Ominous hissing snapped him back, heart hammering from the vivid memory of when it all started. Hadrian firmly shut his eyes, not keen on dying down here.

"Slytherin's great basilisk, my name is Hadrian Black and I have come to speak to you. If you will, can you please shut your inner lids so we may speak face to face?" He called out politely, aware that even if he couldn't be killed by her gaze she still had a very sharp set of fangs. There was the sound of the basilisk dragging across the flooded floor before a curious voice replied.

"You may open your eyes, human, you are safe from harm."

The basilisk was a gorgeous creature with opulent green scales that glistened in the torchlight that automatically lit up. Hadrian took a sharp breath, able to appreciate how amazing she was now that he was older…and not afraid for his life.

Intelligent yellow eyes peered into his, slitted pupils following his every move. Her tongue flickered steadily and her head wavers from side to side. Then, she spoke.

"It has been centuries since I've been visited. I have only awakened recently, you must be the Heir that awoke me." She hissed curiously, body inching forward as if he was fascinating.

He smiled crookedly, "What's your name?" He asked, avoiding answering her last statement.

She perked up, her tongue flicking a little faster and tail flicking happily. "Kundalini, Master. What do you require me to do?" He wondered how long it's been since anyone asked her name, with a reaction like that.

"Just Hadrian is fine. Are you hungry?"

The question seemed to baffle her. "Very. I haven't eaten more than small mice in a century."

Hadrian smiled larger, walking up closer to her. "I have a proposition. I will repair your chamber, clean it, and release you to feed in the forest nearby. However you must not harm any students or teachers, you must stay underground, and you must not expose yourself." The offer was practiced and checked by Hermione for holes, so Hadrian was fairly confident it was sturdy.

"Of course! You are very kind, Harry." Kundalini agreed happily, allowing Hadrian to come even closer and run a hand softly across her scales. They were smooth, though slightly dirty due to the state of the Chambers.

He opened the exit to the forest, but before he slid through he stopped her.

She tilted her head at him, and he quickly spoke. "I will be back with friends to start the rest of the deal, but please refrain from mentioning me to anyone else who comes down here. I know it sounds odd, but I need you to promise me that my ability to speak to you and my visits remain a secret. Understood?" He said seriously, staring into her eyes. She was quick to agree, and then she was gone.

 


 

The wind whipped frantically around them, picking up hair and scarves all through the stands. Rowdy cheers and peeling laughter came from all sides, penetrating Walburga's silencing charm.

Ron sat casually on the bleachers, legs splayed and Slytherin scarf undone around his neck. Walburga sat primly next to him, looking bored and unimpressed. Ron grinned at her as he, once again, attempted to wheedle information from her.

"C'mon! What did you see last week? Hadrian only said we didn't have to share, not that we couldn't!" He insisted. Walburga looked at him from the corner of her eye, fiddling with the gold omnoculars in her lap.

"He said we shouldn't share if someone knowing could impact the future. I don't know if anything I saw can do that, so I am not speaking." She replied. Hadrian turned away from the game and looked back at them, glancing between them neutrally.

"Is he bothering you, cousin?" He asked her, even though they were fully aware he had heard the entire conversation. Walburga smiled at him, while Ron squawked in indignation.

"Not yet, Cousin. I'll inform you when." She replied, mirth twinkling in her dark eyes.

Ron scowled, crossing his arms. "I don't know why you constantly do that 'cousin' thing. We get it, you're related."

Hadrian chuckled. "Because it's fun. It's nice to have some family."

Ron tensed at that, and Walburga sucked in a sharp breath, eyes going soft. Hadrian realized both how pitiful he sounded and that Ron didn't have anyone left.

"Oh, Hadrian-" Walburga started, but he cut her off, twisting to fully look at Ron.

"I'm sorry, I wasn't thinking-"

But Ron cut him off, smiling fakely. " 's fine. Anyway, Wally, you sure you won't tell me about your visions???" He switched easily back into a carefree teen, leaning into Walburga, but Hadrian saw the tightness in his form that wasn't there before.

She wrinkled her nose in disgust. "Do not ever call me that again."

Their conversation was abruptly interrupted by a girl walking over to them, waving. She was slight, with golden hair up in victory rolls and her fair skin pinkened by the rough weather. The rowdy crowd in the stands, though far more composed than the Hufflepuffs and the Gryffindors, gave her a bit of trouble reaching them.

However, she eventually managed to sit down, smiling and out of breath. Walburga seemed delighted to see her.

"Regina, a pleasure! It's been too long since we last spent time together!" She greeted, reaching forward to grasp Regina's hands. Hadrian was surprised at the familiarity behind the movement, considering he'd never met the girl.

Regina smiled, a small one, and shifted on the bench. Her voice was soft when she greeted her back. "Hello, Walburga. I'm sorry for the distance, I've been getting to know my betrothed." She explained.

Walburga's face twisted into something ugly for a moment, Hadrian seemed to be the only one who caught it. But the expression smoothed out almost quicker than it came, and she was smiling brightly. The girls chittered for a while, Ron and Hadrian quietly watching the game.

Regina seemed to be the opposite of Walburga, soft-spoken and polite, not hiding any sharp edges or power. He didn't even know how she got into Slytherin, honestly. Though he was more focused on the game than the girls, an itch to fly crawling up inside him. It was strange, being on this side of the stands, instead of fighting other houses and the elements to win. Quidditch didn't fit into their plan, but perhaps…

Orion Black, one of the Slytherin chasers, flew past them. He was followed quickly by Cygnus, another chaser, and Hadrian realized he knew nearly nothing about his cousin. He'd never been introduced to Orion, never seen any of the Black's interact with him. He seemed to be part of the Knights, but it was odd his family seemed to completely cut him off.

"That's Orion, right? Our cousin? I haven't met him yet." Hadrian commented off-hand, closely watching Walburga for a reaction. Sure enough, she stiffened, turning to look at him in surprise. Her lips tightened into a thin line, and she nodded sharply.

"What is he like?" He pried further.

She seemed to take a moment to compose herself. "Orion is friendly, loud. He's fun-loving and adventurous. He's naive." She listed, detached and awkward, as if she was wracking her brain for descriptions. She noticed his look and sighed quietly.

"I haven't spoken to him since he was 14, when he fell into the wrong crowd."

It was obvious she was done with the conversation, but Hadrian wasn't done with his questions. He leaned closer to her, eager to know her view on Riddle. It was important to their plans, after all.

"Wrong crowd?" He asked, smoothing his expression into controlled curiosity. She didn't respond, face blank and tense, and Regina looked uncomfortable. Ron watched them all closely, the game seemingly forgotten.

"What do you mean by that, cousin?" He pressed. Her lips pursed and her nose crinkled, obviously reluctant to answer. But she turned to him anyway.

"Orion follows Tom Riddle, I'm sure you're aware of him. Riddle seems very charming, he's a smooth talker for sure, but his views are..close-minded and barbaric. He's bad news, and I am not fond of who Orion became after falling in with him." She replied, stiffly and faintly angry. Regina was nodding, a bit of spark in her eyes.

"Oh, Riddle is the worst sort. He has everyone under this thrall, but a few of us know the truth. He's a fanatic and a bigot." Regina agreed, scowling. Hadrian soaked in the information and smoothly changed the subject, seeing how worked up the girls had become.

 


 

Hadrian hurried down the cold, stone hall, arms full of books and hair in disarray. It was nearing curfew and he had lost track of time, only realizing when the librarian had to kick him out. He stumbled, dropping a few books to the gloom with an echoing thump. He groaned, squinting at the books grumpily and trying to figure out how to pick them back up without dropping the rest. He cursed himself for not bringing his book bag and was about to levitate them up with wandless magic when they were suddenly scooped up by a pale hand.

It was Rosier, the teen having had walked up behind him without Hadrian noticing. The boy grinned at him from under his swept up bangs, looking mischevious. He straightened up but didn't hand Hadrian the books back, holding them up above his reach as he read the titles.

"The Art of Protection, Advanced Guide to Defense, The Practical Uses of Runes.." He read off, swapping them around and ignoring Hadrian's glower. He didn't know Rosier very well, he blended well into the background. He wasn't loud and obnoxious like Lestrange, or as charming and moody as Riddle. He was handsome enough, with a good sense of humor and the mouth of a sailor, but he didn't stand out. However, when he directed another smile of gleaming white teeth and charm at him, it was hard to figure out how Hadrian overlooked him.

"Defense books, of course. I've noticed you're a natural in the class, it's very impressive. Professor Merrythought speaks very highly of you as well." He set the books back on the stack in his hands. Hadrian looked back up at him, surprised and suspicious at the compliments.

"You know, I'm just terrible at Defense. Would you mind if I study with you sometime?" He asked, tilting his head and putting his hands in his pocket. It seems an innocent enough request, and Hadrian found himself agreeing before he even though about it.

"That sounds fine. I'm busy tonight, by perhaps tomorrow?"

Rosier gave him a winning smile. "Works for me. See you, Black." He winked and turned around, walking away from where the common room is. Hadrian looked after him confused for a moment, before continuing on his way. Inside the common room, he made a bee-line for Ron and Hermione, who were sitting near the back of the room on the stiff green couches.

Hermione looked cross, sitting primly and scowling at Ron's relaxed form. "Really, it's not like I'm asking for perfect grades. But you need to focus more, you are failing classes and you're taking the bare minimum!" She scolded him.

Ron was desperately trying to distract her, pointing at a walking by first year. "What about them, what do you think they're favorite food is? I bet it's chocolate frogs, I can see a card sticking out of his pocket."

Hermione flicked a hex at him, looking done with his shit. Hadrian laughed, sitting down next to her and dropping his books by his feet. Ron opened his mouth to complain, but all that came out was garbled Irish.

A second-year girl nearby giggled into her hand with her friends, and Ron glared at Hermione, blissfully silent. Hadrian pulled out one of his books, Repair, Warding, and Cleaning for Beginner's, and cracked it open. Hermione grabbed a book from the top of the stack as well, looking just as displeased as before.

She didn't open it, just waved it at Hadrian. "When do you expect us to have time for this? I don't have time for extra research, I'm spending all my time fixing my notes!" She asked angrily, looking frazzled. Hadrian was taken off guard, leaning back just to be safe. He knew how much books can hurt.

"What's wrong with your notes?" He asked, baffled.

She tossed the book back, running a hand through her hair. "They've randomly become riddled with false information I know I didn't write down! And some of them are just missing, vanished!" She seethed, gesturing violently with her hands. She's beyond angry, and Hadrian just hopes he's around when she finds the culprit. Watching Hermione in action is brilliant.

Chapter Text

Hermione's old fashioned shoes clack sharply against the stone floor, nearly in-sync with her companions.

 

She brushed her thick, curly curtain of hair over her shoulder, glancing at Camellia out of the corner of her eye. It was unnerving, watching the girl treat Hermione exactly the same, as if they hadn't both been tossed into a memory. A memory of her first murder, a memory that obviously showed her in Hogwarts as a Gryffindor despite the impossibility of it.

 

Camellia never spoke of it, and if it wasn't for those brief moments after the experience where Camellia stared into her eyes with shock and knowledge, Hermione might think she hadn't seen a thing.

 

"And it's just silly that Sluggy won't let me add bluebells to my simple healing potion, as I'm sure it will increase the potency and make it smell wonderful! He thinks I'm just a fanciful girl and completely dismisses the magical properties in flowers!" Camellia ranted, but she cut off in surprise while glancing over Hermione's shoulder.

 

Before she could react, her hand was grabbed and she was spun around in place. She let out a noise of surprise, looking up into the face of a 5th year Slytherin….Nott, she was pretty sure. He smiled down at her, and the wand she had hurried into her hand from her wrist holster was discreetly inched back up.

 

"Sorry, I just couldn't help myself, your skirt looked great for twirling." He winked, grinning at them. Camellia smiled at him, so Hermione pretended to bring down her own guard and allowed herself to tentatively trust him.

 

"That's not proper at all, Nott! Just grabbing random lady's hands, ones you barely know at that!" She teased, turning up her nose at him.

 

Nott was one of Ron's roommates, but this was the first time she'd actually spoken to him. He seemed nice, and he was charming, in a plain sort of way. He wasn't exceedingly handsome, and he didn't stick out much, but she'll give him points for bravery after that stunt. Being that forward with a girl you don't know? Unthinkable in the Slytherin House.

 

"But Black! I do know you!" He acted offended. Hermione rolled her eyes, and he fell into step with them as they continued walking.

 

"Do you now?" She humored him.

 

"Of course! I know all about how your mind is just as beautiful as your beauty. And while all I have as a basis is class, I am impressed with your intelligence. Are you sure you aren't a Ravenclaw?" He grinned, winking. She pursed her lips.

 

"Intelligence without ambition is a bird without wings. "

 

His eyes lit up in recognition, and it startled her. What sort of Slytherin knew Salvador Dali that well? Actually, what sort of person would recognize that quote, period? (Besides her.)

 

"Ah, But happiness in intelligent people is the rarest thing I know. " He quoted back. "Are you happy, Black?" He taunted. She ignored the question, delighted at the easy response.

 

"Have you read any Hemmingway?"

 

"A few. I particularly enjoyed 'The Sun Rises', and 'The Old Man and the Sea'." He looked surprised by the sudden question. Hermione didn’t care, her boys were smart but Hadrian had very different tastes in books than her and it had been a long time since she had a chance to discuss muggle books like this.

 

“I found ‘The Old Man and the Sea’ absolutely dull, but I did enjoy ‘The Sun Rises’.” Hermione commented. As they continued their conversation, Camilla grinned and drifted off without a sound.

 



“And we disagreed on the main idea of the book, but I don’t mind so much because the following discussion was thrilling-”

 

Ron groaned, dramatically loud and long. She shot him a dirty look from where she was concentrating on transfiguring a pile of rubble back into a stone snake.

 

“You’ve been talking about bloody Nott forever, ‘Mione! Give it a break!” He complained.

 

The three were in the Chamber, spending their Saturday starting the cleanup and repairs as promised. Ron was vanishing bones and remains near Hermione, looking disheveled and bored. Hadrian was working on the flooding, magicking away any water that wasn’t in the pools around the snakes and throwing a few purifying spells at the water in the pools. He didn’t appear to be paying attention at all, eyebrows furrowed and looking contemplative.

 

Hermione turned back to the crumbling statues and threw some powerful cleaning spells at the repaired one in front of her. “Whatever Ronald, it’s just nice to have an intellectual to discuss important literature, since Hadrian likes trashy fiction and you can’t read.” She shot back, and Hadrian just shrugged in agreement when Hermione sent a semi-apologetic glance his way. It was true.

 

“The last time we spent time together he borrowed my King Arthur book, said he wanted to enjoy something I enjoyed and that the legend sounded fairly interesting.” She continued, harshness melting into something else, softer. Hermione ran her fingertips over the mostly clean statue in front of her, a small smile on her face. “You know, I think it’s my favorite book. It isn’t my usual style, but I think my love for it comes from my pare...nts…”

 

She stumbled over the word, eyes widening a fraction and her smile dropping. She went completely silent, just staring at the snake. Hadrian looked up from the wet floor and glanced over at her, concerned. “Are you alright, ‘Mione?”

 

She nodded, and another moment of silence passed before she spoke. “I knew, theoretically, I knew that everyone I used to know is gone, but to be faced with it really drives it in.” Hadrian started towards her, watching her poke the snake’s fang with intense concentration. Ron had also stopped what he had been doing, worried.

 

She noticed this and smiles sadly at him, turning away from the statue. “I’m not that upset, honestly, we weren’t very close. Barely spoke, you know. But,” She pauses, takes a breath, “Even though they were never sure what to do with me, even before my letter, they tried, you know?” She stared into Hadrian’s eyes at this, searching them for understanding. And he really did know.

 

He took her hand, smiling the way he only does with them. Open, emotional. “The sacrifice will be worth it.” He promised, comforting her. She nodded, more sure, and seems to steel herself a little more.

 

“I still miss Sirius and Remus, they were the only adults I’d ever call family, but they never really knew me. Not the real me, not what’s under the golden mask. So it’s easier, I suppose, to let them go.” Hadrian commented casually. He had thought about the life they left, about the people he would miss, before. But Sirius and Remus would never be able to look past their own experiences, expectations, and prejudices enough to be able to accept Hadrian as he truly was. They would love him, he was certain, but it wouldn’t be right to rip away their Harry Potter when they had already lost so much. It was better this way.

 

Ron had joined them, less somber, and slung an arm around Hermione’s shoulders. He shrugged when they looked at him. “Suppose I really only miss the twins, they were the only ones who gave me any sort of positive attention. Half my family's shit, the rest are too busy or oblivious to matter to me. But the twins, they were good people. Hard to regret being here though, when I know they would celebrate if they knew what had happened. Time Travel? Ultimate prank to those two.” Ron grinned, fond, and the other two smiled back. They had all liked Fred and George.

 

Hadrian, it’ss good to see you. You’ve brought two-leggers?” Kundalini greeted them, sliding through the grimy water over to them as she returned from hunting.

 

Hadrian pulled back, tugging on his rolled-up sleeves. He looked up at her, gesturing to his connected friends. Both seem to have forgotten they were touching, gazing up in awe at the gleaming scales and elegant angles of the basilisk. The three of them had created a spell third year using parselmagic books Hadrian had found in the Black Library and borrowed from Draco, allowing non-parselmouths to understand the language as long as a parselmouth cast it. It came in handy now, and though the spell wasn’t yet Hadrian planned on attempting to weave it into the spellwork in the Chamber he would first have to alter the spell to have it only affect those who he keyed into it...and was that even possible? He shook his thoughts away, realizing he was getting distracted.

 

He smiled politely, “I have. Ron, Hermione, this is the great Kundalini, Slytherin’s basilisk. Kundalini, these are my friends Ron and Hermione. They’ve come to help with the repairs to the Chamber.” Harry introduced Hermione and Ron, both dipping their heads in respect to the magnificent creature behind him.

 

“A pleasure.” Hermione greeted.

 

“Pleased to meet you.” Ron agreed.

 

Kundalini seemed pleased and bobbed her head. She looked around the slowly changing surroundings, before turning back to Hadrian. “It already looks much nicer, I hope it can return to the greatness of my youth. Thank you, Speaker and friends. However, do remember not to overwork your magic.” She hissed, delighted but concerned at the amounts of recent magic she could taste.

 

Ron, on instinct likely, scratched the back of his neck and teasingly called up to her, “You’re such a mother!” He went still a moment later, realizing the disrespect he had just committed, but Kundalini seemed almost to laugh. She was amused by the comment, and rose higher, as if proud.

 

Yes, I like that! I am your mother, and you are the hatchlings I have never been able to have!” She declared. Hadrian gave her a soft smile, while the others burst into surprised giggles behind him. He stepped forward and stroked her scales, surprised and warmed by how kind and human-like Kundalini was. He never expected this, and mourned her death in his first life.

 

They returned to work as Kundalini curls up and watched and told them stories about her adventures over the centuries. They listened with rapt attention, awed by the fantastical tales. When he became annoyed with attempting to fix the flooding problem Hadrian moved on to shrinking and collecting the shed skins littering the stone. It was a lot of power to shove into a spell, and when he came upon one that was still mostly intact and resistant to his magic he called over to Ron to come and help him.

 

Ron abandoned his bone hunt and walked over through the sloshing water, however halfway there he slipped on a particularly slimy spot and ends up crashing to the ground with a large splash.

 

He sat back up, wet above his waist with water dripping from his matted hair, and Hermione let out a loud cackle, laughing at his dumbstruck expression. His lips tightened, and he cast a fire hex at her nonverbally. It was his turn to laugh as she squawked and jumped at the pain. Her face scrunched up in determination and annoyance, and Ron jumped up and ran, laughing all the way. Hermione cast a hex at him from behind, and suddenly the two were ducking and weaving and jumping around the room, a dirty duel. Hermione ducked behind Kundalini, screeching about vengeance, and Ron lost all stealth by splashing through the water like a child. Kundalini watched with amusement, and Harry leaned his hip against a giant stone debris.

 

“You’re both children!” He called out, his lips quirking despite his words. His fondness disappeared as his friends popped up from their crouched position and turned their wands on him, smirking. His wand slipped into his hand and they’re off, laughter bouncing off the walls and flashes of colored spells lighting up the Chamber.

 



Later that night, Hermione laid on her bed, swinging her feet as she carefully wrote an essay for Ancient Runes, her tongue peeking out as she concentrated. The lace of her nightgown tickled her wrists and her hair was swept up away from her face. Camellia danced by her bed to music crooning out of her magical record player like device, her own soft pink silk nightgown swirling around her as she giggled.

 

“Could you turn that racket down?” Isadora grumbled, cross-legged on her own bed and stitching together her handmaid vampire doll, but it was half-hearted at best.

 

Camellia ignored her, swooning as the love song drifts to its completion. She sighed dreamily, “Love is so sweet, just wonderful.” Her eyes suddenly lit up with mischief, looking over to the distracted Hermione.

 

“Hey, Hermione,” Hermione made a noise to show she’s listening, glancing up, “Has Quinn Nott proclaimed his intention to court you yet?”

 

Hermione dropped her quill, a barely visible blush warming her dark complexion and her lips opening in surprise. She pushes herself onto her knees quickly, grabbing her wand and vanishing the mess she made on her essay in a jerky, embarrassed movement. Camellia giggled, covering her mouth, and even Isadora lets out a laugh at her flustered roommate.

 

Hermione sat up straight, grabbing for her composure, raising her nose in the air primly. “I have no idea where you got this idea, but there are no feelings between us except mutual appreciation for literature.”

Hermione didn’t know how Camellia knew about the annoying blossoming feelings in her chest, but Camellia always knew more than she should. Honestly, why is she surprised?

 

Suuuree.” Camellia singsonged, a knowing look in her eyes. It irritated Hermione, and she deflected the questioning away from her.

 

“Well, who do you like, Lady Love?”

 

Hermione almost regretted what she said when Camellia’s smile shrunk into a sad little thing, but despite liking the girl Hermione was still the girl she was in 1990, and Hermione cared little for anyone other than her trio.

 

Camellia sat gently on her bed, a hand coming up to play with her locket. “I’m in love with Lucretia, of course. Have been for years.” Even with the sorrow lacing her words they were strong and confident, unashamed.

 

“And Lucretia loves me. But purebloods aren’t allowed to be bent because we have to pass on the bloodline.” She continued, voice never wavering even though her hand tightened, white around the locket she clutched in her palm.

 

Hermione frowned. “You are your own person and you can do as you wish! Purebloods fall in love just as everyone does, and no duty should force you to do something you don’t want!” She argued.

 

Isadora, who had long ago stopped sewing in order to listen, shook her head. Both teens stared at her like she was crazy, and Hermione’s face scrunched up in frustration. Her fists clenched and she wanted to hex the girls until they came to their senses.

 

“You can make your own choices! Hadrian is bent and you know what? He refuses to conform and enter a loveless marriage! He told our father to his face that he didn’t care if he was the only son, he would never marry a woman!” Hermione insists, nearly shouting. It was true, mostly, as he had told Sirius this his third year when he came out to him. Sirius had been shocked, as even in his rebellion he had never considered a pureblood being openly bent. But he had also been accepting.

 

Isadora and Camellia stared in shock, from the new information or her anger she wasn’t sure, but either way, she took a deep breath and continued. “Hadrian, Ron, and I are are determined to change the wizarding world for the better, preserve our traditions but finally move us forward. This includes women’s rights and bent rights. So you might as well start accepting your freedom now.”

 

Camellia clapped, cheering at her speech. She looked genuinely moved and her support knocked Isadora out of her stupor, and the goth girl gave Hermione a hopeful smile.

 

Camellia caught her eye and kept it, the knowledge and hope in her eye startling for a second. It was more than hope for a better future, it was the knowledge of a better future and the dawning hope of someone who had lost it. Camellia seemed to know what was ahead, and Hermione was reminded that as innocent and airheaded as she seemed. Camellia seemed to have a gift of sight. She needed more information.

Chapter Text

Hadrian scratched his ankle, the grass beneath him hard and itchy due to the time of the year. The wind bit at his ears and cheeks and fluttered the pages of the textbook in his lap. He sat near the lake with Rosier, both boys sitting on the ground with textbooks and parchments. Few other students were outside now that it was getting cold outside, but neither Hadrian or Rosier seemed to mind.

"Really, Black, it was impressive. Some of the best spellwork Hogwarts has seen in a long time." Rosier leaned forward toward Hadrian, who was leaned casually against a tree and scratching diligently away at his essay. Hadrian doesn't even look up, but his body tenses minutely. His hand itched for his wand. It wasn't a good day.

Rosier's brown curls were held tightly in place with a spell, unlike Hadrian's which was a mess of windblown strands, but even the put-together pureblood was flushed red from the cold. He was admittedly handsome like this, relaxed and smiling. It was suspicious how easy-going he was.

"It was nothing, you could do the same if you put enough work in." Hadrian blandly brushed off, dipping his quill in his ink-pot. Rosier seemed to get closer, and when Hadrian gave in and looked up there was something lurking in his eyes.

"Well if it isn't natural ability then you must have had a good teacher. Who taught you?"

Quirrell, stuttering through a dull lesson on vampires. Flinching at the sound of spell casting. Quirrell, dying and manic, lunging at Hadrian and knocking his frail body into the cold stone floor, only to start screaming in shrieking agony as his flesh melts from his bones.

Lockheart, his book of lies and self-praising classes of reenactment and facts. Hiss pearly smile as he prattles on instead of teaching them spells. Lockheart's cold ruthlessness, the way his hand doesn't shake, his voice steady, as he tells two 12-year-olds that he's going to kill them so he can be famous. No Voldemort or dark magic, simply murdering children because his books will sell better.

Lupin, laughing as he teaches them to fend off a bogart. Correcting wand movements and notes about every dark creature they can cover. Smiling proudly as he patiently teaches Hadrian to cast a Patronus. Lupin acting as a father, kind and warm, but never knowing who Hadrian is. His appearance too little too late in Hadrian's life.

Crouch, casting the unforgivables gleefully to a classroom of terrified children. Crouch, showing them real spells and how to defend themselves. His observant eyes following Hadrian around, suspicious and intrigued. Their genuine conversations. Crouch, frantic and reverent as he waxed poetry about the Dark Lord, his attempt on Hadrian's life.

Voldemort, disfigured and insane, forcing Hadrian to bow to him after slaughtering the only genuinely good person Hadrian had ever known. The bright blasts of spells as he chased him through crumbling gravestones, Hadrian weak and poisoned but blinded by the magic surrounding him and thrumming through his veins.

And Tom, lovingly describing the imperious curse as he stalked around Hadrian, magic dark and potent as he whispered in Hadrian's ear and held his hand steady. Tom, who was the best teacher he'd ever had, patient and articulate. The pride he took in Hadrian's first kill, the conversations about everything and nothing in the pitch black of night. Tom, who he'd grown attached to but ultimately had to face down to stop Voldemort. Tom, furiously stalking toward him as Hadrian stared him in the eye unflinchingly and cast fiendfyre.

Hadrian scanned Rosier's face, finger's tightening briefly around his quill. His expression is bored, body forcibly relaxed, and he blinked slowly before answering calmly. "Mostly I learned through practice. Lots of practice." He set his quill down. "Professor Merrythought is a great teacher, however."

Rosier slouched back, seeming to not have gotten what he wanted from Hadrian. He leaned back on his arms, scoffing at Hadrian's last comment. The conversation is over then, Rosier asking Hadrian to show him the spell from class again. He picked up his wand, setting aside his essay as pointed it at the other boy.

"Watch closely. Torpentem ." He said slowly, rotating his wrist clockwise and jabbing it toward Rosier's left arm. The magic shot from his arm and Rosier fell to the ground, his left arm giving away as it became numb and useless. Rosier was silent but for a quiet sound as he impacted, which was slightly impressive. Hadrian waits for him to cast the counter-spell, but decided it was a good time to fish for some information of his own.

"What do you know about Nott? You two know each other, right?"

Rosier grinned, his wand still tapping his arm to no avail. It was probably Hadrian's fault, his spells are hard to counter cast. "Checking up on your sister, are you?"

He was startled, and as slight as his reaction was, Rosier noticed. His eyes hardened. "Answer the question." Why did he look so gleeful?

"I'd watch him if I were you. I think he's going to court your sister." His arm moved, and he shook it out, grinning wider as he looked up. "Ah! Got it. Let's continue then?"

 


 

Cygnus Black neatly cut up the sausage on his plate, still blinking sleep from his eyes this early on Saturday. His family surrounded him at the Slytherin table during their traditional family breakfast. A tradition in the Black family, they continued waking early to eat together every Saturday at school, finding some comfort that every Black in Europe was also eating right now. It was very early, few student's sitting at the tables, so their large cluster stood out. Only Orion was absent, a common occurrence since he affiliated himself with Riddle. Hadrian and Hermione were also missing, not yet informed. Cygnus had made the decision, aware that it may be painful to continue the tradition so soon after their parent's passing.

A great crested owl swooped above them, letters in its claws. Father's owl. Cygnus caught the letters as they were dropped and pulled the sleek black ribbon that tied them all together. Walburga and Lucretia had stopped talking at the bird's arrival, Alphard looking up from breakfast as well. Cygnus passed them the letter's addressed to them and split his open with a clean knife on the table. He pulled the parchment from its envelope and began to read it. Everyone waited patiently, in case there was family-related news inside his, as he was the heir.

Cygnus skimmed the pleasantries and inquiry's, searching for an answer to the question he had asked in a previous letter.

 

As for Hadrian Black, I have considered your request and would be pleased if the twins would join us for the Yule festivities. Their parent's passing is a great tragedy, and they belong with family. I also intend to finally size them up, as i haven't seen either of them for so long my memories have become hazy. From your description they sound like fine purebloods, I am eager to see if this is true or purely exaggeration. Inform them of the invitation and respond with their answers as soon as possible, your mother is finishing up the Yule Ball invitations and would be displeased telling others they are coming if they will not.  

Cygnus smiled, folding up the letter to continue reading later. He turned to his cousins and sister, watching them wait silently. "Hadrian and Hermione will be joining us at the Estate over yuletide break. They've been invited, at least."

The girls became noticeably excited, perking up in their seats, and he fondly thought of how close the twins had become to the women of the Black family. 

"How wonderful, I'm sure Mother and Father are looking forward to meeting them. And it's their first Yule Ball, how exciting!" Walburga hummed, scooping up a spoonful of baked beans. Lucretia pouted, however, seeming as if a realization came about her.

"How come they're staying with you, instead of at my home? I want to spend time with Hadrian and Hermione!" Lucretia complained.

"Do you really wish to spend two weeks with Hadrian and Riddle under the same roof?" Walburga points out. That's right, Riddle had spent the break last year with Orion, Cygnus had nearly forgotten he was staying there this year as well. 

"They share a room, and they seem perfectly fine!" Lucretia argued, but she seemed as if she saw her point and was only arguing for argument's sake. He considered scolding her for her unladylike behavior but decided to let this one slide. No one was around to witness it at the moment. 

Camellia floated up to them, a pink camellia weaved into her updo, the same color as her cashmere sweater. Her eyes were glazed and her movements dreamlike. Some days Camellia seemed fully present and aware, but others, like today, she seemed trapped in a trance.

"After Yule, everything will start." She said cheerfully, grinning but looking straight through them. She twirls around, her full skirts swaying, and walks away. The family watched her leave, but Cygnus's mind was elsewhere, his vision from Samhain plaguing him..

He kneeled reverently on the ground, more kneeling around him. Hadrian Black stood before them, dressed in deep green dueling robes, falling like liquid they shimmer nearly black. Hadrian looked dark and dangerous, eyes glowing with terrifying power. But Cygnus was not afraid, only proud to serve such a wizard. Hadrian smiled, and the excitement was palpable.  

Camellia was right, he could feel it in his bones. Yule would be the turning point.

 


 

The potion in front of Hermione and him bubbled happily, a sinister auburn that smelt of rain and grass. Hadrian stared into it, head propped up on his elbow and his brow furrowed unhappily. His hair curled around his nape, damp with sweat from the heat, and the sleeves of his uniform were rolled up, his robes folded neatly on top of his things. Hermione was shining with a sheen of sweat, thick hair straining against a hair tie at the top of her head. She was also talking to him.

"You and I both know that refusing the invitation would be suspicious, not to mention rude." She insisted, gutting a durumodio beetle at her station. Durumodio's were a magical insect that fed on the moonlight, also known as a Moon Spirit Beetle. They were the prettiest bug Hadrian had ever seen, with a sleek, glittery shell that glowed after feeding, or when the shell was exposed to a large amount of moonlight. They also bled a lot, pale blue coating Hermione's dark fingers.

"I don't feel like socializing with empty-headed people all break, 'Mione. I'd much rather stay and enjoy the quiet." He said, grumpily. Anyway, they had plans to plot and continue. He couldn't be bothered with stuffy old people with expectations of him, he had had enough of those for a lifetime.

Hermione glowered at him, removing the shell and tossing the rest of the bug in the pot. It turned a soft lavender and Hermione turned the flames up even more. This potion brewed at an incredibly hot temperature, and it wasn't helping Hadrian's bad mood. However, he relented at the look in his sister's eyes.

"It will be a good opportunity to further a few plans we have in progress." He agreed. He turned in his chair to where Yaxley and Ron were bent over their own potion, which was a darker purple. The flames were too low. 

"Ron, we've been invited to spend the yuletide with the Black's, and have decided to accept. We won't be able to spend it with you this year, I'm afraid." Hadrian announced, feeling a bit guilty about leaving his best mate alone. Ron had always skipped plans to spend the hols with Hadrian, so it felt a bit like betrayal. Hermione had turned around as well, looking a tad concerned.

Ron, however, didn't look upset, but before he could reply Slughorn appeared in front of Hadrian and Hermione's cauldron. His round face was red and sweaty, his robes a bit damp. 

"Miss and Mr. Black, just because your potion is doing well doesn't mean you get to slack off in my class!" He scolded them, but there was no bite in his words. "I hope you both have found a plus one for my Yule Party next Thursday, I hear the choices are getting slim." He reminded them jovially, and Hadrian smiled politely back up at him.

"Of course Professor, we wouldn't miss it." He responded. Slughorn looked pleased and tottered off toward's Riddle's group. Hadrian's smile dropped, and he looked at Hermione.

"There's a Yule party??" He hissed, bad mood worsening. She gave him a flat look.

"Honestly, it's like you never listen. Everyone's been talking about it, and there were even invitations sent out during breakfast."

He blinked at her. "I never got an invitation."

Ron laughed, "Yes you did, you shoved it in your bag without opening it. It's probably still in there."

Hadrian scowled. He hated yule dances, or any kind of party. His fingers twitched toward his wand, unsure of who he was angry at but calling for retribution all the same. They turned back around and continued working on their potion, but his mood didn't improve. His next twitch towards his wand was more obvious, and Hermione caught it. She laid a hand over his, wary, and he took a deep breath. 

"Are you alright? You're twitchy and your magic is leaking a little. You aren't usually in this bad a mood. Did something happen?" She whispered, concerned.

Something happened all right. Tom Riddle was getting on his last nerve. The boy was always watching him, dark eyes tracking his every movement. He couldn't concentrate, not when Riddle was looking at him so intensely, as if Hadrian was the only thing that existed during those moments. Being the target of that focus was...confusing. He understood what Riddle was doing, analyzing him for strengths and weaknesses, taking him apart and finding what makes him tick. The same thing Hadrian would usually do back, if he didn't already understand him. If you can ever really understand Tom Riddle.

But the looks were stirring something inside of him, making it perk up in interest whenever he could feel his gaze. In their room, in class, during meals...the handsome teenager was everywhere. Seeping inside to places, places he would have given anything to have died in that fiendfire.

Even now, he knew if he looked over at his table that green would meet brown. It was frying his fight or flight response, making him twitchy and irritable. But Hermione didn't know much about Tom and his....acquaintanceship. So he just looked into her eyes, tired and worn thin, and replied, "I've had a bad day."

 


 

Tom sat, once again, in his temporary throne. The long wooden table stretched in front of him in the perpetually dusty room, his followers again silent and waiting. And once again, the meeting is about Hadrian Black. The boy was inhabiting his thoughts and attention, infuriating and impossible. He had to get to the bottom of him, before his plans fell down around Tom's head. Tom had always had a single-minded focus, and he had never been able to control his obsessions. They threatened to swallow him whole.

"Any progress on the trio?" He asked, tap tap tapping against the arm of his chair. It was unnerving his followers, a temporary pleasure that soothed his irritation. 

"I have some, my Lord," Lestrange spoke up, looking entirely too pleased with himself. Tom gestured for him to continue.

"As I have mentioned to you, Black has a sketchbook. I managed to take it from him briefly, but I got some info from it while I had it. It's not his only one, according to the small 'Sketchbook #2' written in the cover. I was also able to open it to one of his images, one he seemed particularly sensitive about based on his reaction. It was titled 'Cedric', and was a drawing of a boy, older, sitting in the sun. Due to the amount of details and the way it was drawn the boy, Cedric, is obviously someone of importance to Black. Perhaps, someone he was...romantically involved with." Lestrange looked gleeful at the amount he was able to share. Tom, however, Tom was far from pleased. Fury boiled within him, jaw tight and fingers clenching. Romantically involved? Ridiculous. Hadrian was his, Tom's to puzzle out and force to submit. Tom wasn't done with him, possessive over his power and mystery. The mere idea that anyone else could have claim over his obsession was infuriating.

"Is he any good at drawing?" Rosier asked quietly to Lestrange, looking curious. Lestrange nodded, starting to whisper back. Tom interrupted, in no mood for his follower's chit chat. 

"Avery, Nott." They snapped to attention. "What's the status on the girl?"

Avery sat straighter, pale and jittery. "I have been sabotaging her notes, editing them through spells, vanishing them, mixing them up..., She is getting increasingly frustrated."

Nott spoke up, sending an unimpressed look at the blonde. "I've had more success. I've been talking to her, getting her to trust me. I now study with her, giving me the ability to distract, confuse, and misinform her. I've also edited a few of her essays while she wasn't looking." He smiled, and Tom would have hexed him for daring if it wasn't for his success. Instead, he gave him a dark look, and the smile quickly dropped. Better.

"And Ronald? You share a room, correct?" Tom drawled.

Nott nodded. "He's fairly unremarkable, if a tad odd. He's close with the Yaxley scion, plays a truly ridiculous amount of chess, appears to be the stupid one of the group, and has an insanely warded trunk that from brief glimpses seems to hold a large section full of books. I've never seen him read." He paused. "Also, he has a strange habit of disappearing during the middle of the night. I've woken a few times to find no trace of him."

Mulling this over, Tom waited for anyone else to speak up. When there's only silence, he spoke. "In addition to any other orders, find out what you can from the girl's roommates. Dismissed."

His followers stood, exiting the classroom and beginning to quietly speak. A conversation between Rosier and Malfoy started up as they began to leave.

"-Black looks irresistible curled up in front of the fireplace in his sweaters and bedhead, such a shame someone as pretty as him might end up being our enemy."

"You should see him during defense, sweaty and powerful. It's really something else, his power, and it's quite attractive how that small body can destroy his opponents-"

The door closed behind them, and Tom grabbed his inkpot and hurled it across the room in his anger. How dare they talk that way about Tom's things? The disrespect, the audacity! Tom seethed in his throne, heart hammering and emotions twisting and turning inside him. He forced himself to take a calming breath, turning his mind to things that made more sense than this odd obsession. Such as Black's warded trunk and bed, which he still hadn't managed to break into. When would he possibly have time?

 

Chapter Text

The glass against his arm was achingly chilly, seeping through his thick sweater to the sensitive flesh beneath. It was getting later and later into the year, fall making the quick transition to winter before the students could clean the last of Samhain from their heads. Snow had fallen thick over the grounds last night, and Hadrian was pleased to spend his day off curled up in a particularly large windowsill, in an empty hallway somewhere high above the grounds. The sleeves of his sweater kept falling over his graphite smudged fingers, and he kept hastily shoving them back up. The peaceful snow-blanketed grounds slowly appeared on the page of his sketchbook, the work of hours he was barely aware of passing. He knew he should be off, furthering his plan like Ron and Hermione were doubtlessly doing, but as the days stretched on his blood-thirst and his agitation kept spiking thanks to Riddle. Sketching was easing some of the tension strangling his heart and lungs.

Better a wasted day than a suspicious murder.

"You look as frozen as the Black Lake, cousin. How long have you been sitting here?" Lucretia was bundled tight, wearing a thick grey plaid coat that fell past her knees, a fur collar and two rows of golden buttons down the breast. Her Slytherin scarf was tucked inside and flared black pants peeked out from underneath. She was shivering slightly, coming even closer and frowning. "I don't know how you can stand the temperature."

"I'm used to the cold." He responded softly, the contentment that had tingled under his skin dissipating at the girl's presence. He was darkly familiar with cold, and he was unsure if he found it comforting or suffocating now. 

Harsh winters alone in his pitch-black cupboard, no blanket to keep heat from being stolen from his frail body, only thin worn clothes. Ice in his lungs, stealing the breath from him and leaving stabbing cold pain as the dementors grew closer and closer.  Struggling against the freezing water as creatures clawed sharp against his legs, unable to breathe, Ron's body unresponsive in his arms, weighing him down...

Lucretia's silk-gloved hand rested on his shoulder as she leaned in close to look at his sketchbook, his entire body tensing tight at the touch. Her body stiffened like a domino effect, but the hand didn't move. Floral perfume filled his lungs and he felt like gagging.

"Hadrian this is beautiful! You have such talent, I can't believe it!" She admired, and he gave her a genuine -if strained- smile. 

He set his graphite pencil down, "Would you like to see the one of you? I finished it recently."

She beamed, nodding excitedly, and he carefully flipped to the page his sketch of her was. The image of her sitting in the common room, smiling lazily while talking to someone off-page, her face lit up by the firelight and the glow of the torches. Its only movement was the slow blink of her eyes and a slight flicker of flame in the distant fireplace. It wasn't his best, but his favorite muses were either in the future or far too busy to be his model. And sketching his cousin was better than some of the other ideas that had flitted through his mind, unwelcome, whenever he placed his pencil on a blank page. As expected Lucretia was delighted, fingers twitching to touch but seeming to sense that it wouldn't be welcome. There was a moment of stilted silence then, Lucretia removing her hand from his shoulder but seeming reluctant to leave. Wonderful, more small talk was surely coming.

"Are you excited for the Slug Club Yule Ball?" And there it was. "Nearly everyone is, but I'm dreading the stuffy dress I'll be forced to wear. Prophet photographers will be there, you know?"

Hadrian groaned, and she let out a low laugh. "I know. I wish Adney hadn't invited me. As a 4th year, I nearly avoided attending since only 5th years and above in the Slug Club receive invites. Who are you taking?"

"I haven't invited anyone." He grumbled. She 'tsk'ed at him, looking amused.

"That's a social faux-pas, dear cousin. As a Black, going solo is looked down upon. Might I suggest inviting Camellia Parkinson?"

He stared at her for a moment, searching her eyes. She seemed to sense the conversation was about to change, her mood deflating. He ignored it, thoughtful. "You really do like Camellia a lot, don't you?" It was quiet, secret. Lucretia went pale but put on a brave mask.

"Yes, I am quite fond of Parkinson. She's a good friend and it's pleasant to be in her company." She looked him dead in the eye, daring him to call her bluff. And, well, Hadrian could never turn down a dare.

"You're three shades from in love with her, Lucretia. Don't treat me like a fool."

Her eyes widened in surprise, before shuttering even further. But she was just a sheltered child, and he could see the cracks spreading through her pureblood mask like a predator catching the scent of blood. He'd spent his entire life finding weaknesses in those around him.

"It doesn't matter either way. I am the only daughter of an influential pureblood family, I am to be married off to a respectable pureblood wizard."

"Is that why you bury yourself in muggle women's-rights?"

She searched his face as well, lips tight and body tense. But she nodded, instead of stalking off. "I'm sick and tired of pureblood gender roles and expectations. I love my traditions and roots, but the world wasn't meant to stay stagnant."

He smiled, slowly and purposefully. "I agree."

 


 

The common room was a bustle of energy and noise, younger years watching jealously as upper years hurried about and left for the Ball. Hadrian stepped into the activity with ease, smoothing down his plain black formal robes unconsciously, and searched the room for his group. He found them gathered around the couches Hermione and he usually studied at and slipped through the crowd with only a little difficulty. Hermione saw him first, giving him an acknowledging smile and drawing the rest of their attention to him. Hermione and Walburga wore similar simple dresses with black robes laid open over them, sleek and straight in design with high necklines. Hermione's was a deep wine red shade and her thick curls were pinned away from her face but loose. Walburga's was a dark pine green and she wore a black satin choker with a matching green jewel pendant glinting at him, her own curls in a tight updo. Nott stood next to Hermione, engaging her and Walburga in conversation, dressed in basic formal robes like Hadrian was but Nott's chocolate waves were tamed, nothing like Hadrian's chaotic locks.


Adney had grey formal robes in the same style and was snickering at Lucretia, who was looking at Camellia with a dumbfounded expression on her face. Lucretia's dress fell to her knees and flared slightly from her waist, a plain but pleasant brown in color with a square neckline. A slightly translucent white robe was on top and her usual red lipstick was replaced with a nude pink. Camellia wore a floor-length, soft pink dress that fluttered around her and a light grey robe, her dark hair in a complicated twist with white camellias woven in.


"You look lovely, as usual, ladies." Hadrian complimented, before giving Nott a subtle look. He was not a fan of the boy, but he understood what Hermione was doing and would keep his mouth shut. Unlike Ron. He greeted Camellia with a formal nod and offered his arm to her as they departed.


"Where's your date, Walburga?" Adney asked, wincing as Lucretia jabbed her elbow into his side again from where she was being escorted on his arm. She looked pleased with herself and her small revenge for dragging her out tonight, and Hadrian had a feeling she was going to be a thorn in Adney's side all night. His lips twitched in amusement.


"He's a Ravenclaw, so he'll be meeting me at the entrance. I'm not a big fan of the Slytherin boys in my year."


"That's not nice, Walburga. You and Avery have something very special between you." Avery drawled, smirking. She shuddered and sneered.


"Yes, an agreement that if he pursues a marriage contract with me he won't live to see the wedding."


Adney and Lucretia laughed, while Nott looked surprised and gleeful. Hermione was giggling behind a hand but Hadrian could see the glint in her eye, both of them storing this information away. Up ahead students were arriving with their dates and entering the decorated classroom the party was being held in, their round potions professor red in the face and shouting greetings to students at the door. They came close enough that he zeroed in on them, a half-empty glass of wine dangling precariously from his thick fingers. He beamed, waving and forcing them to stop.


"Oh good, good! I'm pleased you could make it, all of you. What a talented group, if you had arrived with Mister Riddle I'd have all my top students in one place!" He chortled.


"Are you having a good time, Professor?" Hadrian asked politely, smiling past his displeasure at being here.


Slughorn met his gaze and winked playfully. "Mister Black, I am having a wonderful time. But enough of this, I won't keep you kids any longer. Go and have fun!"


They passed him and entered the room, and Hadrian glanced around at once was a dusty, unused classroom. It was lit with lanterns and floating candles and cleared of all of the desks, instead cluttered by chatting students and adults with a dance area and a long table full of refreshments. The music playing was a popular band that was respectable enough for a mostly formal event but still had students dancing and laughing on the floor. Walburga stayed outside to wait for her date, while Lucretia dragged Adney across the room to where she had spotted a friend. Surprisingly Hermione and Nott disappeared to the dance floor with little more than a small wave from her, leaving him with Camellia and silence. Outwardly he continued smiling, but inner him was cursing at the awkward conversation sure to follow.


He led her away from the door before they separated, racking his head for what he could possibly talk to her about. She beat him to it.


"I heard from Hermione that you two are going to the main estate for the break, Black." She hummed, eyes distant and gazing around the dance floor. He didn't take it personally, he knew she rarely made eye contact. He was confused by the strangeness of her tacking his last name on the end but realized what she was hinting at. He laughed, slightly embarrassed.


"You can call me Hadrian, I think we've gotten to know each other enough for that." He didn't, but she had backed him into a social corner, forcing him to retract the distance he had established with their first meeting. She hadn't tried to flirt with him since, but he was still wary. She smiled, and he was reminded that behind her airy disposition she was a Slytherin like him.


"Alright, Hadrian. Feel free to use my first name as well." She tilted her head in acknowledgment.


"And yes, my sister and I will be staying with our cousins at the main estate. We leave tomorrow. I'm quite excited to meet my relatives."


She seemed to sense it was a dead-end conversation and completely bypassing social etiquette launched seamlessly into a new one. "Professor Merrythought keeps pairing up Gryffindors with Slytherins in class and I'm wondering if it qualifies as endangerment at this point, as four students have already ended up in the hospital wing and it's clear quite a few kids are out for blood during sparring."


"Which House were the injured students in?" Hadrian asked.


"Gryffindors, as if a Slytherin would be idiotic enough to show that kind of vulnerability." Camellia scoffed.


"Good." He agreed, and they continued discussing classes and their professors for a while, dragging out the small talk as long as possible. He found he quite liked her style of conversation, often ignoring politeness and social niceties as much as a pureblood girl could. They were discussing magical properties in common plants when they were interrupted Slughorn and a familiar-looking older woman.


"Oh good, Mister Black, there you are! I wanted to introduce you to a friend of mine, Auror Marial." Slughorn enthused, and Hadrian realized where he knew the woman from. She was one of the Aurors that found the three of them, the partner of that idiot Reeves. He gave her a charming smile, holding out his hand to her.


"Actually we've met, Professor. Auror Marial was one of the brave Aurors that pulled me out of the destruction after the attack. Hello again ma'am, it's great to see you. I never did get to fully thank you for helping me and my loved ones."


She grabbed his hand and gave it a strong shake, giving him a small smile. "Hello Mister Black, I'm glad to see you're in good health."


Slughorn looked delighted, clapping his hands together. "Wonderful! I was just telling her that Professor Merrythought speaks highly of your skills in class. It's your best class I hear, you appear to have a real passion for it. And with your current test scores as long as you take the necessary classes it should be a breeze to get into Auror training-"


"Excuse me, Professor." Hadrian interrupted. "I'm flattered but while I am currently unsure what I'd like to pursue as a career, Auror -while a noble career- isn't it."


Slughorn deflated, but Auror Marial took it with grace, giving him another well-wishing comment before she and Slughorn took their leave. Hadrian stared after them, brow furrowed. Where had Slughorn gotten the idea he wanted to be an Auror from? It had been expected from him in his past life, due to his father being one and his fighting Voldemort, but he can't think of a single thing he'd done here that would lead him to that conclusion. It felt like the walls between his lives had become thin for just a moment, something leaking through.


When he turned back to Camellia the usual distant look in her eyes was worse, she seemed to be looking straight through him to miles away, her eyes cloudy and unfocused. He blinked, startled, and took a small drink from the punch she handed him. When had she left to get this?


"You're likely unsure about your future because you're still finding your place in this timeline."


He choked on his drink, spluttering as he stared wide-eyed at her. He gaped, all thoughts of staying poised out the window. "What do you mean?" He managed to cough out, but she just smiled at him and patted his arm. Her unseeing eyes stared right into his, chillingly knowing.


"You'll figure out your place soon, Harry. After all, you belong here." She turned her head, purposefully staring out into the crowd. He followed her gaze and met intense brown eyes, nearly glinting red in the light. Riddle was staring unabashedly at him from across the room, an elderly witch trying to chat with him. Hadrian shivered, his scar heating and sparking strangely at the look in Riddle's eye. He sucked in a sharp breath, mind racing. His scar hadn't done a thing since they traveled back, and he didn't know what it meant that it suddenly would act up, or why it wasn't searing in pain like usual. When he turned back Camellia was gone, now softly speaking to Lucretia next to the overflowing refreshment table. He sighed, taking another drink and forcing his hand not to shake.


Not a second later someone slid up next to him, and he's surprised to find it was Orion Black. The younger boy was smiling but obviously hiding nerves. He offered Hadrian his hand and Hadrian grabbed him by the elbow firmly, eyes searching his face.


"Hello, Hadrian. It's nice to meet you, finally, it's odd we haven't been introduced yet even though we are in the same house.." Orion rambled as if waiting for Hadrian to say something. He stayed silent, waiting in turn for Orion to get to why he was over here.


"How are you enjoying the party?" Orion tried, but Hadrian just raised an eyebrow. "Alright then, I'm here to see if you're ready to accept Riddle's offer."


He wasn't surprised, the boy's attention had gotten worse steadily and it was starting to get to him, honestly. "I thought I made myself quite clear the first time." He replied calmly, and Orion's smile melted into an incredulous look, brow creasing in a glare.


"You're crazy. There are only two sides after Riddle takes interest in you, follower or enemy." Orion replied, dead serious."Are you ready for that?"


Hadrian smiled, slow and vicious, full of teeth. He leaned close to Orion, a shadow crossing over his cousin's face.


"Bring it on." He whispered, before standing back up and taking a slow drink, finishing it off. He gave Orion one last long look before heading over to where he could see Walburga and her date. On his way he sought out Riddle's gaze one more time, eyes hard and determined. Riddle doesn't change his expression, but Hadrian has spent enough time looking into those eyes to see the flash of fury as he realized he'd been denied. Hadrian smirked, small and satisfied. Smart boy.

 


 

 

Orion made his way quickly back to his Lord, appalled at his cousin's audacity. How dare he challenge the Dark Lord like that? He was nothing but an ant, not even good enough for Tom Riddle to wipe his boots with. Now they could get back on track, Orion was sure of it.


"-but Hermione said Hadrian is gay, and even told his father that he would never marry for anything but love."


Orion's ears strained and he slowed down, spotting his cousin Lucretia whispering with another girl, both girls looking frustrated. An argument then. One with very interesting information.


"Camellia, my father would never allow anything like this to happen, just as Lord Black will surely not allow Hadrian to marry a man-"


Orion filed what he had heard away, and continued on his mission.

 


 

 

His pencil scratched softly against the paper in his hands, the smooth scales underneath him shifting minutely with Kundalini's breathing. The stone chamber was nearly clean and repaired, and Hadrian was sat on top of Kundalini's coiled, resting body, a half-sketched drawing of Salazar Slytherin's statue on his page, the work of hours he'd spent down here today.


"-won't even be able to smell you if you leave the castle. How am I to know if you've up and died if I can't smell you?" Kundalini complained, displeased. He let out a small chuckle, sparing a hand to stroke soothingly over her body.


"I'm sorry, I don't want to go either. But humans have silly obligations. I'll be back in a week or so." He added one last detail before flipping his sketchbook (his second one, the one full of drawings people can't see) closed and slid off her. She grumbled, shifting around.


"Humans are stupid, and you are fragile. Don't get yourself hurt, Hatchling."


"I won't. Goodbye Kundalini." He tucked his sketchbook into his schoolbag and made his way back up out of the sewers, hissing and making the sinks slide back into place once he was out. He was just taking down his wards when the door flew open, loud sobbing echoing around the empty bathroom as a small blur burst in. The girl nearly ran right into him, and both of them reared back. She looked up at him and he was faced with a familiar, snotty face. Myrtle Warren stared bug-eyed at him from behind her clunky glasses and promptly started shrieking.


"A boy?! You pervert, what are you doing in the girl's bathroom?! I'm getting a teacher, just you watch! You, you rotten peeking tom!"


Shit. He put his hands up in a placating manner, schooling his expression into sheepish confusion as the girl wailed.


"Wait! Please, I didn't mean to! I wasn't paying attention to the sign on the door and was just turning around to leave when you burst in!" He lied, giving her a charming smile. Her face was ruddy and tear-stained, still crying. He pretended to be worried. "Are you okay?"


"Are you making fun of me?" She growled, and he stammered out a negative.


"No, I just, you don't...you look upset."


Myrtle's eyes went wide and her lip trembled, tears flowing faster as she started hiccuping. "No one's ever been worried about me before."


Wait, no, he didn't mean to do that. He was just hoping to get in her good graces and leave without anyone being notified.


Next thing he knew they were sitting against the wall, Myrtle's face buried in his shoulder and her tears and snot were making his robes wet. Her crying had gone down, but he was pretty sure he'd heard her entire life story and actually had no clue how long he'd been here.


"-And then she tripped me and I fell on my face right in front of Jasper Knockers! My glasses broke and she and her friends were cackling and then she said it was an improvement to how they usually looked and Olive Hornby is a demon!" She wailed, and Hadrian made the appropriate sympathetic noise. He had experience, after all, ghost Myrtle would complain to him once a week, just like this, and as long as he played sympathetic to her whining she wouldn't inform anyone that he was going down into the sewers all the time. She was desperate for attention, had no friends ever from what he had pieced together. Like he used to be, but he had never seen that spark of hatred or ambition in her. She was soft, easily moldable. Easily...


Actually, it would be ridiculously easy to make Myrtle into a better version of herself, her issues were remarkably easy fixes for the most part. And gaining her loyalty and trust would be child's play after gaining Malfoy's. She was like a domino line, as long as he replaced the few pieces missing she would fall with ease, already set up for him. Hadrian decided that he really did owe Myrtle, for all the help she had been before, and that he was going to help her. He smiled, gentle and kind, and spoke.


"That's just awful, Myrtle. You don't deserve to be treated like that." She stopped her rambling, looking up in surprise. "But, forgive me if I'm overstepping here, it looks like with a little help your problems can be dealt with." He continued, reaching up to her face and lifting her glasses off. He continued smiling, casting a simple Oculus Reparo on them. He tucked them back on her nose and smiled even more at the faint blush on her cheeks.


"Let me help you."


"Help me how?" She asked, confused and longing. She was so lonely, he could see it in her eyes. His eyes used to look like that.


"Remaking yourself. If you don't like who you are, why not change?"


She reared back a little, scowling again. "You're trying to change me, just like everyone else! No one ever likes ugly old Myrtle, I should have known!" She accused him angrily. He just continued to smile.


"The only person in this room that doesn't like you is you. I don't care if you change, but it seems silly to stay unhappy with who you are just because you think change is bad. I can help you become the girl you've always dreamed of being."


She calmed back down, squinting at him suspiciously. Hopefully.


"And what do you get out of this?" She sniffed, not crying for the first time since he 'met' her. Time to go in for the kill.


"I was hoping for a friend." She stopped breathing, hands clutched tightly to her chest. He stood, wiping off his pants and smiling once more at her.


"Owl me, if you want to take me up on my offer."

Chapter Text

Hermione and Ron sat at their usual spot in the common area, under a muffling spell, as they pondered over Ron’s chessboard. Ron is leaned back casually, legs spread and arms crossed, giving off the illusion he’s completely at ease. However, Hermione could see his analytical eyes watching the board closely, battle tactics flitting around in his head. Hermione, on the other hand, was poised and attentive. Both of them were scowling at each other and the board, bickering under the somewhat privacy of the spell.

“Maybe, ‘Mione, if you weren’t off prancing around with that scumbag Nott, you’d know that I already finished reading Brackfeather’s Blood tombs. Really, the fact that you’d put us all at risk for some guy is a great realization, he’s one of Riddle’s right-hand men you know.” Ron argued, brashly ordering his piece forward to slaughter Hermione’s pawn. It was the wrong thing to say, but even faced with Hermione’s pissed face he didn’t waver, bullheaded in his statement.

“Are you suggesting I don’t know what I’m doing, Ronald?” Hermione asked quietly, leaning forward seriously. She looked furious, dangerous. Ron tilted his chin up, lips pulling into a sneer as he opened his mouth to further shove his foot inside it when Hadrian coughed.

They both turned to look at him, tense and angry, and he held his sketchbook closer to his chest, gesturing over his shoulder awkwardly. Suddenly, he wished he wasn’t being placed under their scrutiny.  

“I can leave if this isn’t a good time…” He offered, shuffling a bit. Hermione rolled her eyes at him, waving her hand at a chair next to them.

“Oh just sit, you’re nearly bursting.” Hermione sighed.

“Yeah mate, even an idiot could tell you have news you want to share.”

“Explains why you noticed.”

“Oi-”

Hadrian cuts in, “Do you remember Myrtle Warren?”

They go quiet, Ron raising his eyebrows in disbelief. “Moaning Myrtle? Rings a bell.” He joked, crossing his arms and splaying his ridiculously long legs out further. “What’s the crybaby got to do with anything?”

“Yes, what does Myrtle have to do with us?” Hermione added on, sending a pointed look at Ron. He bristled.

Ignoring them, he continued. “I just ran into her. Turns out Myrtle was like that even with a pulse.” Hadrian had always assumed that her odd personality was just a warped version of her original self, thanks to years of isolation and death. His best friends straightened in their seats, obviously at least a little interested. 

“That’s right, this is her time period isn’t it?” Hermione hummed. Ron gave him a suspicious look out of the corner of his eye, moving his next piece with a mumbled command under his breath.  Hermione grumbled as another one of her pieces was destroyed. 

“What are you planning?” Ron asked, and Hadrian grinned like a child on their birthday. He set down his sketchbook and leaned forward, catching his friends' full attention.

“I’m going to build her in my image. She’s already broken, so desperate for guidance it’s a surprise someone hasn’t scooped her up yet, honestly. It’s killing two birds with one stone, I’ll prove that muggleborns can be taught to be proper purebloods while also handcrafting myself a loyal follower who owes everything to me.” 

Hermione’s eyes widened. “That’s brilliant!” She said, surprised.

“Sound like you can’t believe it, ‘Mione. Are you trying to say something?” He teased. Ron rolled his eyes while Hermione looked like she was going to whack him, an amused tilt to her lips.

“Admit it, you’ve got a savior complex,” Ron said, before looking insufferably pleased with himself as he turned to Hermione. “Checkmate, by the way.”

 

The best part about being a Slytherin, arguably, was how people avoided him in the halls. Despite the crowded area after lunch finished, he was left a fair space between him and the next student, even while the rest of the houses practically slammed into each other rowdily. 

Usually, even other Slytherins stayed out of his space, as they understood how twitchy a person’s wand hand could be. And they knew how quick Hadrian’s was. However, Malfoy had no concept of personal space and it was starting to make Hadrian homicidal. 

The tall 6th year was brushing shoulders with him, intense and stiff as he murmured low to Hadrian.

“I heard you’ve denied Riddle once again, and he’s not happy, Black.”

Hadrian smirked at the news, trying to ignore the blonde nuisance next to him. But Malfoy’s really love the sound of their own voices.

“I suggest kneeling before him and begging forgiveness, honestly. Punishment is only going to get more severe the longer you insist on being stubborn-”

“No.”

“No?” Malfoy repeated, incredulous.  

“No,” Hadrian said firmly, attempting to turn a corner. 

Malfoy grabbed ahold of his arm tight and pulled him closer to him. Hadrian’s wand was out within seconds, pressed firmly to Malfoy’s abdomen. The taller boy leaned over him.

“You’re going to regret this.” Hadrian would think he was being threatened if not for the worry stitched through Malfoy’s tense expression. He yanked his arm free, pressing his wand harder for a second as a warning before slipping that back into his sleeve.

“I can take care of myself.” He said firmly, eyes flashing darkly for a second before he continued down the other hall, glaring. The glare smoothed out into a pleasant expression when he noticed his target.

“Myrtle!” He called out, startling quite a few kids around him. Myrtle turned around and flushed when he waved at her, jogging a bit to catch up to her side. People were watching them, but she was too giddy to notice.

“Black! Or, Hadrian? What should I call you?” She asked nervously, nasally voice grating on his already thin nerves. He ignored it, easily leading her away from the crowded halls into one that was always empty, subtly checking around for Riddle’s lackies.

“Hadrian is fine, we’re friends are we not?” He laughed, fakely. She beamed though, stars in her eyes.

“And you can call me Myrtle!” She interjected.

“Myrtle, as a friend, your stories broke my heart. I haven’t been able to stop thinking about the cruelty you’ve faced here at Hogwarts. So receiving your owl made me incredibly happy.”

“Really?”

“Of course! I just want to help you, Myrtle.” He leaned closer to her in the empty hall, his voice echoing seemingly throughout (though he knew it wouldn’t make it past the wards he had set up to avoid spying. He wasn’t doing anything especially incriminating but the longer he could keep any part of his plans from Riddle the better. “If you’ll let me, of course.”

She leaned closer, looking dazzled. It wasn’t particularly hard to dazzle a girl like Myrtle so he didn’t let it go to his head. He gave her his buttery-est smile, the one he used to pull on the Dursley’s and McGonagall to attempt to get out of trouble. It was more effective on one than the other. Myrtle eats it up, and he leans into her as well, as if to tell her a secret.

“Do you want to be popular, prove all of your tormentors wrong?”

She nodded, looking breathless. 

“My friends and I can make that happen, as long as you’re willing to put the effort into changing.” He promised, voice low and soothing. But her face closed up at his wording, and he cursed himself as she drew back a little.

“You’re just trying to make me something I’m not.” She accused, quietly as if she was hurt and unsure. Fuck. He lifted his hand to her bicep, slow enough to not be threatening, and forced himself to be more open.

“Not at all,” Hadrian soothed, “All I want to do is help you become who you want to be. You don’t have to do anything you don’t like, or want.” He promised. She relaxed, movements as slow and hesitant as her answer.

“Alright, Hadrian.”

He smiled at her, this time more sincere. “ Over break my friends and I will take you shopping, our treat. For now, I suggest watching the more popular students and taking notes. Figure out how you want to act, who you really are. Understood?”

She mimics his smile and they part, Hadrian slipping into the shadowed hall and letting the wicked grin to overtake his features, turning the warm, open expression into something darkly excited. Oh, there was very little like the rush of a piece falling into place. Willingly, none-the-less. 

 


 

 

Hadrian and Hermione stood behind a pillar, separated from the rest of the crowd that swarmed around the train. They faced Ron, who was shivering from the cold, having decided to face the winter chill with nothing more than a sweater. His face was as bright as his hair, and he gave them a wistful smile.

“First year not spending the holidays together,” He commented, “I can’t say I won’t miss opening our gifts together on Yule.”

Hermione, usually so put together, seemed unusually choked up. She threw herself at Ron, pulling him into a tight hug. Ron looked down at her in shock, wrapping his arms around her out of instinct, the sight of him towering over her comical when taken in with the look of confusion and fear on his face. Hadrian chuckled at the display, and Hermione pulled away from the hug, face pink and glaring from embarrassment. Hadrian took her place, tugging his best friend into a fond embrace, knowing that he looked even more hysterical dwarfed by the lanky ginger. Ron squeezed him back, giving him a strong pat on the back before releasing him.

“I’m going to miss you too, Ron,” Hadrian responded, shoving his hands in his pocket and grinning up at him. Hermione nodded, still too embarrassed to speak, so he took it over. 

“We’ll update you often on any changes, as well as how our holiday is doing. You should do the same.”

“Understood. I should have a more concise battle plan when you return, though admittedly I'm much more equipped for actual battle strategy, I’m not amazing with this social/political war you’ve waged.” Ron scratched his nose, looking sheepish. Hadrian knew he was frustrated with how useless he currently was, but Hadrian knew they all felt the same. No one was sure how to deal with this battle they’ve waged, it was unlike any other they've undertaken. I mean, it was a popularity contest in essence. How silly, that they had been reduced to this.

“Goodbye, Ronald,” Hermione said, almost soft and certainly warm. Ron’s eyes softened when he looked at her, and Hadrian wanted to roll his eyes.

“Bye, Ron.”

“See you guys.” Ron chimed, and the twins turned to re-enter the crowd. They weaved expertly through it, managing to avoid bumping into many people, and hurried closer to the train. Hadrian waved at Adney and Belinda, who he spotted in the crowd, and they waved back just as he entered the warm interior of the Hogwarts express. He should spend more time with the two, they were useful tools and fairly nice. 

Hermione led the way to the back, where the Slytherin’s had always set up base back in their own timeline. And peering into the open doors showed that, once again, tradition held true. They managed to find the other Black’s fairly quickly and settled down in the compartment with very few words. They unshrank their trunks and sat, waiting patiently for the train to start its journey. 

An hour into the ride and they’re almost there, their compartment lapsed into quiet as they did their own activities. Walburga sat primly, embroidering what appeared to be a handkerchief but could be anything (Hadrian wasn’t well versed), while Cygnus sat next to her and completed some form of paperwork on a hovering desktop he had conjured. Hermione and Lucretia played some wizard card game, seated next to the window with the pull-up table between them. Hadrian was engaged in conversation with Alphard, discussing the Black Family Tree.

It was a simple conversation, mostly review, making sure Hadrian was aware of relations, and sore subjects.

“Do make sure you don’t mention Aunt Cedrella, she was struck off the family tapestry for her marriage to a Weasley last spring.” Alphard insisted, and Hadrian drank it in, connecting these people to the stories Sirius had told him with fascination. He could also tell that Hermione was listening intently, though her focus never wavered from the cards in front of her.

Suddenly Walburga glanced out the window to where the sun was setting over the snowy hilltops and then to Lucretia.

“Your hair.” She prompted, simply, and said girl startled. Lucretia reached a hand back to touch her bob and gasped, reaching for her wand.

Capillus Incrementum. ” She cast, and her black locks begin to lengthen, spilling over her shoulders in long waves. “Thank you, cousin.” She said quietly, waving her wand in a circle around her head. Another spell, “Imperdiet, ” and her hair lifted itself, weaving into a plait and then spinning into a bun. Then she tapped her chin gently, “Medicamine,” and soft makeup similar to Hermione’s and Walburga’s painted itself on her usually bold face. Hadrian could barely recognize her, she looked beautiful like all Black women but..so utterly normal. Plain.

Lucretia picked her cards back up, attempting to ignore what had happened and continue playing. However, Hermione kept looking at her, curious, and eventually Lucretia sighed.

“My Father and I have an agreement, he ignores all gossip he hears about me acting as I do at school, and I always transform into a perfect, proper, pureblood daughter at home.”

Hermione offered her a sympathetic smile and the game continued in silence. Hadrian turned his attention back to Alphard, who had continued speaking as if nothing was going on.

“Do you understand?” He asked Hadrian, and Hadrian nodded.

“Perfectly.”

The train pulled into the station with a loud screech, smoothly stopping despite the noise. They all stand, grabbing up their luggage quietly, and exiting the train with as much grace as possible when trying to maneuver through excitable, running children in a small hallway. As he stepped onto the platform he could spot Lord Pollux, Arcturus, and their wives standing together. Orion and Riddle were already speaking to Arcturus, Riddle appearing relaxed and charming in the face of the stern-looking man. Cygnus and Walburga lead them over to the group, Lucretia sighing and putting on a smile, glancing over at Hadrian and Hermione.

“Wish me luck.” She murmured quietly, before breaking off from them and gliding over to join her brother, ducking into a curtsy in front of her father. Walburga did the same when they arrived in front of her parents. Hadrian took the couple in.

Pollux Black was just as stern-looking as his cousin, but his aura was meek, submissive. He was of average height, with a bushy black mustache and expensive robes, hands gripping his cane in a strong grip, but his magic wasn’t domineering the way many pureblood Lord’s were. Irma Black, however, was a powerful woman. She was short and pretty, plump with more color in her skin than any of her children, deep brown hair falling down her back, straight as sticks. Her eyes were perceptive and sharp, but her mouth quirked in a loving smile.

“Children.” She greeted, and while there were no returned smiles the tension eased. 

“Mother.” Walburga and Cygnus intoned. Lord Black pulled his wand from his sleeve and levitated their bags for them, glancing around with a displeased look.

“Where is your brother?” He asked, and discreetly glancing around Hadrian noticed the boy jogging up behind them, looking a tad more ruffled than when they had exited. He grinned at them as he came closer, such an odd sight in the formal group, and kissed his mother on the cheek.

“Sorry, Father, I was caught up in an accident involving a First Year and a broken trunk.” He explained cheerily, but his Father didn’t look happy with the explanation. They head to the floo then, Lucretia and her family long gone. Irma scolded Alphard quietly, behind Lord Black and Cygnus who were discussing something quietly. Walburga walked at the end with Hadrian and Hermione, quiet as a mouse.

When he exited the floo he found himself in Grimmauld Place. It appeared to be in its prime, clean and elegant and only creepy in that way all old mansions were. Hadrian and Hermione were astonished, and he could barely equate this place to the one in his memories. The walls turned out to be black and a brownish red, the heavy drapes the same red-mahogany and the carpet a pattern of reds and oranges and blues. It was incredibly odd to see it in color, not dusty and damaged and dark. Gas lamps lit up the walls and a glittering chandelier hung over the two black and gold couches. A gleaming piano sat in the corner in front of another fireplace, this one with a gigantic mirror on its mantle. Walburga seemed to notice his and Hermione’s staring, as she smiled proudly.

“Do you like it? It’s mine to inherit you know.”

Hadrian blinked at that, confused. He had been sure that Orion owned the house. Hermione looked just as puzzled.

“I wasn’t aware you were allowed to own property, aren’t you to live with your husband?” She asked the woman. Walburga leaned into them, looking tickled pink.

“I sweet-talked Father into giving it to me, my husband will just have to learn to live with it.” She told them quietly, as if departing a secret. She then straightens.

“Your rooms are upstairs, on the fourth floor,” she clapped her hands loudly, “Kreature!”

A younger Kreature appeared, bright-eyed and smiling. Hadrian stared at him too, feeling out of his element. Walburga paid him no attention, directing the house elf. “Take our things to our room, please.”

She then led them to another ornate drawing-room, which was decorated in Slytherin green and silver. They found Lord Black seated in a large armchair, his wife sitting on one of the couches and their son’s sitting on the other. Walburga left them standing to sit next to her mother, and Hadrian bowed, Hermione curtsying next to him.

“Thank you for having us in your home.” They straightened and awaited instruction, though it doesn’t take long.

“Sit.” Lord Black gestured at the couches, and Hadrian went to sit next to Alphard while Hermione sat next to Walburga.

“Tea?” Irma offered, and Hermione nodded while he passed, watching the teapot tip over magically.

“Hadrian and Hermione, correct?” Lord Black asked, and they nod. “It’s a pleasure to have you over the break, It's a shame we haven’t met before this.”

And then there was school talk, the adults commenting on grades and letters sent home in that detached way Pureblood’s did. Formal, routine. He gathered the little comments and information in his head, though ultimately they were unlikely to be any use to him. And when the conversation cycled back to them, he was prepared with his rehearsed answers.

“And the Headmaster has informed us that you two are in the tops of your classes. I’m impressed.”

Wait, that wasn’t how it was supposed to go. How did he-?

“You received our grades from the Headmaster?” Hermione commented casually, apparently just as confused as him. She sipped her tea, her mouth tight at attempting to not speak all this time. 

“Of course, you are to become our wards until you reach majority.”

“Tell me, are you the tops in any of your classes?” Irma asked.

“Not quite. I’m second in Magical Theory, Herbology and History of Magic, and I’m tied at first in Defense. I believe I’ll overtake first soon, however.” Tom Riddle was stubbornly in first place in every class he took, and since he was in all of Hadrian’s courses beside Arithmancy (which Riddle was taking a higher version of) he was stuck anywhere from second to fifth. Hadrian wasn’t lying when he said he was close to gaining first in Defense though, and Riddle was positively seething at that. It brought joy to Hadrian’s heart.

“Defense?” Lord Black asked, interested.

“Hadrian is particularly skilled in Defense, Father, Professor Merrythought won’t stop raving about how he’s a natural.” Cygnus chimed in, and Hadrian smiled politely as Lord Black stared at him, interest gleaming in his beady eyes.

“And you, Hermione?” He asked, as a second thought. Hermione began to talk about the classes she was excelling in (first in Healing, Wards, and Arithmetic, second in Potions, Charms, and Transfiguration), but Lord Black kept looking right at him.

“You’re such talented students, It’s impressive how you’ve taken to the curriculum despite just transferring.” Irma complimented.

“We had good teachers, ma’am.” Hermione humbly responded.

“Yes, our condolences on your loss,” Irma commented, as was expected of her.

“Thank you, Lady Black,” Hadrian replied, as was expected of him.

“Your mother was my favorite sibling, you know. I regret losing contact with her.” Lord Black mentioned, and the mood dipped into something somber. The man stared into his eyes, leaning forward.

“You look just like her, but that’s not why I can tell you’re her son. You have your mother’s heart, my boy.”

Hadrian stilled. He had never been compared to his mother before, not beyond a fleeting comment on his eyes, and though Cassiopeia was not his mother something in him ached for that connection. To be more than his father, more than just James Potter born again. 

“Thank you, sir.” He managed back. 

Lord Black dismissed them, then, and they all stood to depart when he spoke up again.

“Hadrian, if you would stay behind?”

He paused, Hermione doing the same as everyone filed out around them. She hesitated, looking at him for a response, but he nodded and she went on her way, stealing one more look. Hadrian sat back down, mind whirring over what this could possibly be about. Lord Black gestured with his wand and a cup of tea was poured for Hadrian, who this time picked it up and began sipping at it calmly, watching the Lord closely.

“You’re brave.” He began, “Very brave. I cannot thank you enough for saving my daughter’s life earlier this year.”

“She is family, sir. Loyalty is not just for Hufflepuff’s.” Hadrian quipped, unable to help himself. It was odd, the way what was once expected of him was treated as a great sacrifice in Slytherin. Lord Black just smiled at his comment, agreeing.

“I’d like to offer you Walburga’s hand in marriage.”

Hadrian nearly choked on his tea, eyes going wide. “I’m sorry?”

“You are strong, intelligent, handsome, and of good blood. You’re the ideal suitor, Hadrian.”

Of good blood? Try the same blood. He coughed, attempting to regain his composure.

“It’s an honor, Lord Black, however, I am afraid I must decline. While your daughter is wonderful, truly the perfect wife, I am not into women.”

Lord Black seemed to take that in, looking surprised but unfazed at his declaration. “You can still marry her if you’re bent, boy. You just need to produce one heir.”

Hadrian shook his head, thinking idly of how coming out to the previous Lord Black had gone. (There had almost been a party, much to his horror.)

“I will only be marrying for love, with all due respect Lord Black. Thank you for the offer.” Hadrian said firmly, placing his teacup down. The man sighed and leaned back in his chair.

“You’re dismissed.”

 



Ron sat on his bed in his empty dorm, lazily watching a fly circle above his head. Hermione and Hadrian had left yesterday, and left him with the task of creating a strategy to complete their goals. He groaned, having thought himself in circles but finding himself just as puzzled as when he started. He knew that as Hadrian’s right-hand man and his battle advisor that this was his responsibility, and so far he was the only one not completing his role in their trio. But this wasn’t a battleground he was familiar with, no expected bloodshed or familiar pawns. He scrubbed a hand down his face, brow furrowed in thought. Alright, time to approach this a different way.

What were their goals? To stop Voldemort from coming into power, and instead place Hadrian in a position to bring about necessary change in the Wizarding World. This was the same goal they had always had, but that was the only constant. They were no longer fighting Voldemort, instead now facing Tom Riddle, a charismatic and sane wizard with similar ideals. Riddle already had a foothold in Slytherin and Hogwarts, his inner circle already build and his politics already spreading. 

What was their battleground? Hogwarts? Ron thought a moment. Yes, but their main war would be fought in Slytherin. This house would become future Death Eaters and the parents of them. Any politics and ideals spread here would thrive and grow, as the most powerful and influential wizards and witches came from Slytherin. So, with Riddle already leading Slytherin, and already well into converting them to his agenda, how did they begin to start theirs? Simple, they had to knock Riddle off his throne, and place their own king in his place.

Ron snorted, simple his arse. What they needed was to start a political revolution, something subtle and powerful. Well, they had headed a revolution before.

But, while he felt clearer than he had before, Ron was still unsure of how to begin, or even what to do. They couldn’t just start talking to people, even with their affluential bloodlines few would hear them out. It was an uncrackable puzzle to him, far more subtle and sneaky than anything the trio had done before. He was at a loss.

Frustrated, Ron aimed his wand at the buzzing fly and shot a hex at it, watching as it fell onto his sheets, dead instantly. He nudged the bug with his finger, frustration sizzling out, and decided to do something else to distract himself. But he was long sick of chess games against himself, and anyone he would talk to was long gone. That ruled out card games, and it was too cold out to fly. His eyes, still staring at the dead fly, suddenly widened. That was it! He hurried off his bed and knelt in front of his trunk, tapping his wand on the crest and uttering the password.

“1980.” And then he opened the trunk, reaching in and pulling up the short bookshelf up. It contained nearly a hundred books he had gathered from the Fawley vault, bought, or borrowed from Hadrian. It wasn’t nearly as big as the collection Hermione and Hadrian kept in their trunks, but it was undeniably dark. He scanned the titles, scrolling through the sliding shelves until he found the book he was looking for. Beginning the Darkest Art; Necromancy by Hemlock Fawley. He grinned, pulling the book out and closing his trunk, before sitting once more on his bed. He had been beyond thrilled to find out he had inherited Necromancy in this timeline, something he had wanted to dabble in before but the art was far more complicated for non-inheritors, nearly impossible. There had been way too much going on for him to have a chance to process his new ability, let alone practice it, but the holidays were a perfect time. He cracked open the book and began to study.

He learned that if he simply wished to communicate with the dead, a full moon was necessary. However, reanimation was easiest to accomplish during a new moon, and though with experience he would be able to do it at any time, beginners shouldn’t attempt it without one. He sketched out the moon phases for the month on a parchment, thankful he was skilled in figuring it out due to rituals and other forms of magic that required knowledge of the cycle. He managed to confirm it with Professor Slughorn, claiming he was curious on which moon Yule fell this year. And to his luck, the new moon was only two days away. He had been worried he wouldn’t be able to fit in his first attempt before break was over. He spent those days preparing, gathering ingredients -though he already owned most of them- and reading through his book, studying the ritual he had decided on. He didn’t wish to create inferi, that was above his level, and he had no one he wished to contact, so a simple reanimation ritual would do. Each night he spent an hour in a cleansing bath, watching the water turn milky and gray. He spent the time wracking his brain for answers to their plan but made almost no progress.

The day of the new moon he spent in solitude in the Room of Requirement, meditating in an empty stone room, naked and cleansed, his ingredients tucked into a corner. The large window to his backlights the room during the day, and at night his eyes adjust to the small amount of light that managed to shine in. At 1 am, he transfigured a stack of parchment paper into a bird, watching it flutter around looking for an exit for three minutes, before killing it. It fell into his hands, cold and motionless, and Ron placed it in front of him. He meditated once more over the dead bird, waiting for its soul, if transfigured animals were even gifted with them, to part from its body completely. At 3:03 am he stood and drew his circle of protection, the bird dead center, only moved so that he could draw a rune for resurrection beneath it, in its own blood. He had cast a spell that completely drained the corpse of it earlier, filling up a ritual bowl with the small amount. Then he lit his candles, black and purple around the circle, the only light in the room. He burned a bundle of wormwood and walked around the circle clockwise, the bundle clasped between his hands. One, two, three, four, five, six laps, before he turned on heel and did a final, seventh lap counterclockwise. Representing the cycle of life, and turning back the clock. Ron took a deep breath and knelt by the corpse, setting the smoldering remains of the wormwood down and reaching into a bag of grave dirt, scooping out a small amount and sprinkling it over the bird’s eyes. To represent death and burial. He grabbed his athame and carefully pressed it into the bird’s soft stomach, carving the rune for possession. He set the athame, not a speck of blood on it, to the side, picking up a tiny birch stake engraved with a binding rune. It dripped with his own blood, having been submerged in a small bowl previously. Then, Ron began to chant, low and foreboding.

Praesens spiritibus,

Perdidit spiritibus,

Ego dedi vobis hoc corpus,

Vos imperium dabis mihi

Ego alliges duplicia vos ad me usura magica meum

Oportet audire mei

Vous sequentur desiderio meo

Praesens spiritibus,

Ligatus spiritibus,

Tu obey

Ron stabbed the corpse with the stake, forcing it deep into its stomach, straight through the rune there. He grabbed his wand and healed the corpse’s stomach over the stake until it appeared as if Ron had done nothing at all. The stake would disintegrate in a day, binding the spirit trapped in the bird to him and his magic permanently. He sat back and watched the bird with bated breath.

After seven minutes of complete silence, the stillness was broken. The bird hopped to its feet, eyes milky and unseeing, and took to the air. Ron’s magic nudged it into flying in circles over his head, smooth and elegant.

Ron grinned, body thrumming with ritual magic, and stared at his creation. Suddenly, everything made sense. He knew what they had to do.

 


 

Hadrian and Hermione sat hidden away in the Black Family library, a stack of books in front of them and one open, propped up above several sheets of parchment paper. They had been there for hours, using their resources for as long as they had access to them.

“The theory of time travel has always been considered and debated on, Hadrian, but most of the books on it won’t be written until after Grindelwald's defeat. Time turners are still in their most basic prototypes, perhaps not even anything beyond musings on a page.” Hermione grumbled, looking tired. Hadrian rubbed his eyes, glasses held in his hand.

“But there is speculation of rituals sending people elsewhere, and as there are reports of this it suggests that time travel doesn’t affect the timeline, as it’s most likely that these people wouldn’t have been born in the first place, let alone have people aware they went missing,” Hadrian argued.

“That’s if they were sent into the past in the first place, they could have just been sent to another place in the world, or died!” 

“But nearly all theories suggest time travel, if possible, sends the witch or wizard into an alternate timeline. And seeing as all of reality hasn’t unraveled on us I feel as if that’s a fair assumption.”

“But we’ve already suggested that that was because time wove us into the past to protect the fabric of reality, hence our identities. If this is the case, it’s possible our actions still have an effect on the future.” She insisted. Hadrian sighed, placing his glasses back on his face.

“Hermione, you’re being ridiculous, if that was the case then time would easily be unraveled at the slightest action. The muggle butterfly effect claims-”

“I know what the butterfly effect is, don’t patronize me!”

“I’m not intending to, ‘Mione, I just meant to make sure we both had the same understanding-”

Hadrian trailed off, hearing footsteps approach just as his wards alerted him to a presence within hearing distance. He looked up, catching sight of the Black heir appearing between the bookcases. Cygnus looked as put together as always, but even stiffer than usual. He walked up in front of their table, standing formally. Hadrian blinked at his odd behavior, straightening his posture.

“Is there something you need from me, Cygnus?” He asked.

“I was wondering if you were ready to call in your favor.” How curious. Hadrian quirked a brow.

“Why are you so sure I know what I want?”

Cygnus smiled dryly, without humor. “Anyone with eyes could tell you are a revolution waiting to happen. There’s only one thing you could want.”

Hadrian smirked, nodding in acknowledgment. Hermione looked delighted at his side, just as restless as he was to finally begin putting their plans in motion.

“Alright. I want you to listen to my politics, my plans for the wizarding world, and honestly consider joining me.” He paused, watching curiously as something akin to surprise passed through Cygnus’s eyes. “And as it is the whole Black family that owes me, Walburga and Lucretia are required to listen as well.”

“Alphard?” 

“If he pleases, but it’s not required.” Alphard hardly seemed useful to their cause, as much as he reminded Hadrian of Sirius in the best ways.

Cygnus nodded firmly, “I’ll retrieve them immediately, I anticipate we’ll be back within the hour. Is there a time or place you’d  prefer to meet?”

“Here is fine, whenever you arrive.” Hadrian dismissed him, watching the older boy head back to where he came. His wards once more alerted him as he passed through them, and Hadrian relaxed.

Hermione turned to him, eyes alight with passion. “Are you ready for what’s now in motion?” She asked, hushed and breathy with excitement. Hadrian leaned back in his chair.

“I have to be.” He responded, as serious as death. He looked deep into her eyes, “Are you ready to follow me?”

She beamed, inclining her head. “I’ll follow you to my death, my Lord.”

Chapter Text

When Hadrian had been Harry, truly and honestly, he had wanted a family more than anything in the world. More than new toys, more than clothes that fit, more than sight or food or for the pain to stop.

Harry had desperately hoped, had begged whoever could possibly be listening, night after night. Until he was 7, he wanted the Dursley’s to accept him, and after that, he longed for his parents. Both were foolish, idealistic. The Dursley’s would never love him, and his parents could never be with him. That was just how it was.

Hadrian still longed for a family, vague and wistful and endless. A greedy want that wasn’t satisfied with Ron and Hermione, with the conditional love Sirius and Remus had for a ghost, with the doomed love he had spiraled into with…

Looking at the careful masks of the Black children as they sat before him, he knew that the door to this family could slam shut in a blink of an eye, he knew he was balancing a tightrope every second in this world. But while Harry cried out for a family with desperate, heaving sobs, Hadrian coveted other things.

“The agreement is only to listen to your pitch, correct?” Walburga asked, face hard and body stiff. Hadrian smiled at her, admiring the forethought she had. Blacks’ were not easily tricked.

“All you have to do is listen, the rest is up to you,” Hadrian confirmed. He sat very still in the armchair, unnaturally still for most wizards, but especially for him. There was an ease of tension around him, very slight and likely unnoticeable to those not actively feeling the room. He gave it a beat before he began.

“Muggles and Wizards can never co-exist. The muggles would slaughter us the moment we tried, light wizards are fools for thinking they won’t. All of their history spells out a warning, endless massacre, and genocide of those who dare be different in the slightest. For being wrong, unnatural, going against their holy book.

They do not hesitate to slaughter what they are afraid of and what they cannot explain, so what do you think they would do if they found out about us?”

“So you suggest war, like Grindelwald?” Alphard wondered, looking as nonchalant as ever but a sharpness in his eye gave him away. Hadrian almost snorted at the idea he would think anything like Grindelwald.

“Of course not,” He said instead, “Grindelwald’s a fool for thinking he can take on the muggles. One on one, wizards may be stronger, but we are outnumbered by vast amounts. Not to mention that muggles, without the crutch of magic to make them compliant, have advanced far beyond your wildest dreams. They have weaponry capable of decimating the entirety of Wizarding Britain before we could even raise our wands. We wouldn’t stand a chance in war, not as we are.”

“Then you favor Riddle’s approach, killing all the muggles and mudbloods so there is no threat,” Cygnus asked.

Hadrian leaned forward swiftly, fire burning in his eyes. His voice was dangerously calm. “Do not compare me to him.”

In a breath all the tension that had been slowly leaking out of the room was back, coiling tight around them as the Blacks looked into Hadrian’s bright eyes. For a second they appeared to be glow with burning light, emotion swirling inside too fast to even be sure was there. Then he leaned back, the turbulent magic around him once again sluggish and nonthreatening. 

“Riddle’s agenda ends the exact same way as Grindelwald’s, there are far too many muggles. We’d be discovered before we even killed half of them. Not to mention the fact that we need them.”

The shock on their faces shone clear as day, no one had expected him to say anything pro-muggle.

“There are simply not enough wizards, especially in Britain. We are already becoming inbred, our magic weak and muddled, our minds and bodies warping every generation. The Crabbes, the Goyles, the Gaunts.., I’m sure you’ve all seen the whispering of madness that runs in our family as well. 

Muggleborns bring fresh blood to our bloodlines, renew our power. Without them, wizards will die out in only a few centuries.”

“Were you not the one complaining at Samhain about the muggleborns erasing our culture for their own comfort?”

“That is a problem coming from their upbringing, not their blood.” Hadrian insisted, “A muggle-born raised alongside a pureblood would be indistinguishable from one another.”

A moment of silence as they took that in, and he waited patiently. They wouldn’t be convinced, not fully, but that was understandable. He had time to show them the truth of his words.

“So,” Lucretia started, “You’re pro-muggleborn.”

“I’m pro-magic.” He corrected, and she gave an acknowledging nod.

“What about witches? What about Witch Rights?” She asked.

“You know I’m pro-witch, cousin. We’ve spoken on the topic before.” Hadrian said, warm and amused. He slipped out of his Leader role for a moment at the ridiculous question, Hermione was his right hand for Merlin’s sake. Lucretia seemed to ease at his answer, however, and he understood she needed the confirmation.

“What about our traditions? What is your stance on them?”

The political talk went on for what felt like ages, and by the end of it, Hadrian felt worn and agitated. Recruiting was harder than he thought it would be, and a headache was forming in his temple. Finally, they reached their final business.

“You should know, in regards to Riddle and his little group, I will be declaring my intent to stand against him. This conflict is unavoidable, and almost certainly will become physical in time. If you decide to join me you must undergo training with me, I refuse to send you out to fight ill-prepared. Keep in mind I am not just an aspiring politician.” Hadrian searched their eyes very seriously for a moment, before relaxing fully. It was over. Now all he could do was wait.

“You have until the end of break to give me an answer, whatever that answer is. I won't be mad if you say no, but I hope you keep in mind the blood we share between us and not betray me.”

They all stood, readying themselves to leave, but Hadrian held up his hand and stopped them all in their tracks.

“I was wondering if you could stay behind, Walburga and Lucretia? I have something I want to talk about outside of all of this business.” He asked, and there was a justifiable hesitation. It was hard to trust someone after you’ve heard them speak as he has. Politics made people wary, always. But the girls nodded, faces set like stone as if there was never any doubt there in the first place. Cygnus and Alphard left after a pointed look, and Hadrian grinned up at them in hopes of settling their nerves.

“You remember how I mentioned that muggleborns, raised as purebloods, would be exactly the same? That it isn’t their blood at all?” 

Walburga nodded.

“I’m doing a little experiment to prove my theory and I could use your help.” It was only an experiment to prove to the world what he already knew, it wasn’t like he could present Hermione and him as examples. Walburga looked startled by this, however.

“You’ve a child?” She asked, chin raising to look down at him. His eyes widened at the misunderstanding.

“No, of course not. I’m hardly equipped to test my theory that far, Cousin. No, I have a muggle-born student willing to learn our ways and customs. Her name is Myrtle Warren, and I would like your help in teaching her how to be a pureblood lady.” He clarified.

“The idea is laughable,” Lucretia cut in, “And if we were found out we’d be shamed.”

Hadrian stood, “Only if it doesn’t work.”

They were clearly not impressed. “I’ll take all scrutiny if it fails, or if there are questions before we are done. Your names will be kept out of it until you ask me otherwise.”

A pause as the girls contemplated this, only the sound of the crackling fire to fill the room. Then, just as he was giving up hope, two smiles.

“It will be difficult, but I do enjoy a challenge. I’ll help this little project of yours.”

“Sounds fun.” Lucretia agreed, and Hadrian beamed.

“I’ll give you her information, please send her an owl with a date to go shopping on it. I told her to expect one before break ends.”

They went on their way, and as the door closed behind them Hadrian fell back into his armchair with a low groan. Hermione reached over the back of the couch to place a comforting hand on his shoulder, and he sent a grateful smile up at where she stood at his right hand. 

“How’d I do?” He asked quietly, his headache catching up with him. 

“You sounded like a true Pureblood Lord.” She assured him, before grinning. “The lessons paid off.”

Learning all the pomp and tradition and customs over the years apparently offered more than the bad mood it had always given him. He sent her a wry grin, thankful she was at his right side. Had always been there, and would always be there. He took her hand off his shoulder and raised it to his lips, giving it a mocking kiss. “Where would I be without you, dear Sister?”

The words rang true, and they both knew it. Hermione gave him a mischievous quirk of her lips, leaning forward conspiringly. 

“Dead, without a doubt.”

Hadrian laughed, loud and startled, her softer giggles following.

 


 

Barnaby Travers was an average boy, with lank blonde hair and a round face. As friendly as a Slytherin tended to be, good at charms, and bloody awful at Quidditch. How he became the Slytherin Seeker Ron had no idea, but in the end, it hardly mattered.

Ron followed at a safe distance as Travers walked down the hall, broom propped over his shoulder awkwardly and obnoxious whistling filling the empty space. Only four Slytherins stayed behind during the break, and it was nearly fate that Travers happened to be one. Spells spin around in Ron’s mind, but none of them seem right.

“Ronald Fawley, just the student I was looking for!” A cheery voice cut through the quiet, startling Ron to the point that he almost had his wand in his hand. Albus Dumbledore had intercepted him at a crossroad, and Ron watched over the wizard’s shoulder as Travers pause, glance over his shoulder at them, and continue on his way. He was out of sight in seconds, and Ron held back the curses at the tip of his tongue. He glanced back up at Dumbledore and gave him an easy smile, befitting of a Weasley.

“Professor Dumbledore, why would you be looking for me?” He asked, peering up at him through his shaggy bangs. Dumbledore was the same meddling wizard he knew before, and if he had any doubts of that, those cold blue eyes would always remind him. It didn’t matter if they now twinkled from a younger man.

“I was wondering how you and your friends were settling in, I haven’t had a chance to speak with any of you yet.” 

“While that’s kind of you, Professor, I again am wondering why? You aren’t my head of house, sir.” Ron asked, pushing nearly all his focus into keeping the bite out of his words. They had enough to deal with, without having the old man on their cases.

“Well,” Dumbledore faltered for a moment, and it was a small joy to see. Oh, how he’d love to rip him limb from limb. “As a Hogwarts teacher, I care about all of my students. And you three have come to us under such tragic circumstances. I myself have lost family, so I understand the hardship it is to deal with such a loss.”

Smart. “I’m dealing with it as well as I can, sir.”

He didn’t take the hint, but Ron didn’t expect him to. “And how is Hogwarts treating you?”

It took an actual effort not to slip back into the mask he always donned around him. A repeating chorus in his mind reminding him that he wasn’t a Weasly anymore, he wasn’t a Gryffindor, He was Ronald Fawley, a Slytherin with no good family reputation to fall back on in Dumbledore’s eyes.

“Hogwarts is very welcoming, I feel as if I’ve walked these halls for years.” His grin this time was real, amused. Dumbledore seemed to warm at the words, apparently he had passed some kind of test. The first of many, no doubt.

“Good, good. It’s wonderful you find yourself so at home, especially considering you’re spending your holidays here. Alone, too. I assume your friends went to stay with their cousins?” They began to walk, in the opposite direction Ron had been going. 

“Yes, sir.” 

“It’s a shame you had no relatives of your own, to take you in.” He sympathized, falseness dripping from his tongue. Ron gripped his fist tight together, hidden from the old man’s view. “Where will you be spending your summers, if I may inquire?”

“The Blacks have kindly offered me their home.”

A glint in those eyes, giving away his interest to the trained eye. And Ron was very much trained in watching this wizard. “How kind of them. You and the Black siblings must be very close, for Lord Black to take you in.”

“Friends for nearly all our lives, Professor. I’m very lucky to have them.” Dumbledore nodded, smiling at the ground as they slowly walked.

“Wonderful. They are good students, I’ve been very impressed with their skills in my class.” A pause, and Ron had a sinking understanding of where this was going. “Though apparently my class isn’t even their best. Professor Brantnook has high praise for Hermione Black, one of many teachers.”

“Yeah, she’s brilliant, sir.” He agreed. And she was, smartest witch he’d ever met, in all but her love life he supposed. There she appeared to be a blind fool, and he was sick of her temper when he pointed it out.

“And Hadrian Black, I’ve heard very impressive things about his abilities in Defense. Do you know where he learned such skill?” Dumbledore pried, confirming Ron’s suspicions. Hadrian seemed cursed to draw his attention in every life he lived, and Ron didn’t envy him the slightest.

Ron gave Dumbledore an open smile despite the rage swirling up inside him. “He’s always been a natural, I suppose.”

And there it was, the well-concealed greed in his twinkling, grandfatherly eyes. Whether he was an old wizard with as many titles as wrinkles and more admiration than he’d ever deserve, or a charming young man with a head of auburn and a growing reputation, Dumbledore was always driven by his greed, and his greed alone. It was his strength and weakness, what brought him so high and would eventually knock him down. Ron wasn’t sure what he planned to do with Hadrian, but something was obviously brewing. Their steps echoed through the empty stone halls and the inside his head with building force.

“Excuse me, Professor Dumbledore,” He interrupted suddenly, straightening up. They came to a stop suddenly, Dumbledore giving him a confused look. “I don’t mean to be rude but we’ve arrived at the Library and I’m afraid I have a book I’ve been meaning to check out. If you’ll excuse me?” Bloody hell he sounded like Hermione. Dumbledore blinked at him before smiling that familiar smile, and the hatred in Ron’s heart reared to a sharp point. If it wasn’t for his recent necromancy rituals his bloodlust would have overtaken him completely.

“Of course, thank you for walking with me Mister Fawley. Good day.”

“Good day, sir.” Ron intoned back, before slipping through the library doors. He quickly checked out a book he could pass off as reading for a class before making sure he was seen heading towards a table near the back. The alibi would be useful, as he doubted anyone was aware of the secret passageway right behind the shelves in the history section.

Unseen, he made his way through the dusty tunnel, shivering at the sight of spiders crawling the walls. It wasn’t long before he was standing unseen by the quidditch field, watching Travers make lazy, ungraceful loops on his broom. This would be much easier, he mused, if he was allowed to use the Basilisk. But Hadrian insisted that they couldn’t open the chamber without suspicion, as newcomers and Slytherin’s fingers would automatically point to them.

Oh well, he thought as he raised his wand with a wicked grin, he could do this the old fashioned way. His plan was relying on this, after all.

 


 

“Do you have a moment, Hadrian?” Cygnus asked, interrupting him. He looked up from his sketchbook to the older boy in the doorway, lifting his pencil from the page. Lady Black, Walburga, and Hermione had all paused in their sewing, looking as out of it as he felt. How long had they spent wasting the day quietly in here? The fire was lit, but they had not yet been served dinner, so it was early evening for sure.

“Yes, of course,” Hadrian answered after a prolonged pause, clearing the haze from his mind and closing his sketchbook. He stood and followed Cygnus out of the room and down a winding hall, curiosity buzzing through him. What could this be about?

They stopped before long, and the Black heir faced him with a very serious expression. Hadrian opened his mouth to ask, but Cynus spoke first.

“I’ve chosen to follow you.”

Oh. Oh! “You decided so soon?” It had only been a day since he had made the proposition, the headache had only just gone away. To say he was surprised would be an understatement. Hadrian always assumed recruitment was a long, grueling process.

But Cygnus gave him a steady nod. “I’ve been ready to follow since I heard your speech, but I waited to guarantee I was sure.” And there was something in his gaze that made it impossible to take anything he was saying lightly, a passion in his voice Hadrian hadn’t been privy to before.

“You are the future, Hadrian Black, I’ve seen you and your power in my visions. It’s not a sight I’m soon to forget. I pledge myself to you, willingly. What do you need from me?”

Hadrian felt giddy, even this small success rushing through his veins addictingly.

“You’ll need to swear loyalty through ritual before I’ll give you orders. The next new moon, January 6th, that’s when we’ll conduct it.” He smiled at the older boy then, “Thank you, Cygnus, for your support. I’ll lead you well.”

“I know you will.” Cygnus tilted his head in respect, before turning on heel and walking away. Hadrian watched him go, before making his way back to the sitting room. He passed Lord Black on his way and gave him a somewhat awkward greeting.

Hermione looked up when he entered, catching his eye and tilting her head towards the letter placed on his notebook. When he picked it up, messy scrawl greeted him. It was Myrtle, confirming their trip to Diagon tomorrow at noon. Hadrian grinned, swiftly sitting down. Everything appeared to be falling into place, and he picked up his sketchbook once more.

 


 

Tom tossed another book on the pile of hazardously stacked books that created walls around him. Pages of notes sprawled across every available space, the handwriting becoming sloppier every page, cramped and confusing for any that attempted to read it. 

Frustration built steadily as he read through each book, unable to find solid information on the Chamber of Secrets. A myth, according to all sources, but Tom knew it was real. It was his birthright, and he would find it before the year was through. But at the moment his head spun with information and problems, an endless chase behind his eyes that refused to be solved.

Hadrian Black. The boy had once again denied him, and Tom knew he could not go unpunished. Wasn’t sure why he hadn’t been punished after his first insult, why this idiotic, maddening boy alluded him. Why he kept being lenient, pursuing what was clear in its refusal. 

He let out an angry huff, running his hand through his hair and glaring at the half-filled page in front of him. He knew thinking of Black was useless, he still knew nothing about him and was no closer to solving his puzzle. He didn’t even know what his goals were, only that he had challenged Tom fearlessly. Foolishly.

The quill in his hand creaked at the sudden force, nearly snapping, and he forced himself to take a deep breath and refocus on the tombs open on the table. He had more pressing things to deal with, the brat was hardly worth this frustration.

He had to find the Chamber, he had to prove his power and continue Salazar’s vision. The Black twins were only distractions from his goals, his destiny. 

Footsteps alerted him and he cast a quick spell to fix his displaced hair and glanced over his tower of books as Orion Black approached. The boy shifted from foot to foot in front of him, and Tom forced himself to be patient for the moments it took him to speak.

“Dinner is served, my Lord.” The nerves are palatable, and Tom regrets for the millionth time that this is the Black he was able to convert to his cause. Heir Black was much more composed, powerful, and clearly had more dignity. He sighed, flippantly waving him off and listening to him all but scurry away. It could be worse, he mused, he could have been stuck with Alphard Black.

He pushed away from the table, casting another spell and sending the tombs and notes flying back to where they belong. He unrolled his sleeves and glanced in a mirror he passed exiting the Black Library, confirming his perfect appearance. 

“I apologize for being late, I get wrapped up in my reading at times.” He said smoothly, giving a customary nod to Arcturus Black at the head of the table as he took his seat. Lucretia Black sat across from him, nearly unrecognizable at home. It unsettled him, despite the days he had been around it. 

Usually, the youngest Black daughter would ignore him, but today she gave him quite a strange look. He was unsure exactly what it meant, he hadn’t had enough time to learn her different expressions and hardly cared to learn, but he was sure it was nothing pleasant. He shot her a polite smile in return, taking joy in the slight scrunch of her face. She clearly wanted to roll her eyes at him but both were well aware she couldn’t in front of her father’s watchful eye.

“What do you do cooped up all day in there, Mr. Riddle?” Arcturus questioned, and their plates suddenly filled up as dinner was served. Tom began to eat, famished from his long hours in the library.

“Nothing terribly interesting, sir. I have school work to complete, and I find I prefer to spend my time reading anyhow.” He lied. Arcturus nodded and accepted it, as all adults did. With one exception, but he resolutely pushed the thought away. He had enough battering around in his head without thinking of that fool.

“You’re a smart young man. In between all that learning, I don’t suppose you have time to read the paper?”

“No, not usually, sir.”

The women and Orion kept their heads down, while Arcturus leaned forward slightly over his plate. Tom put his spoon down briefly, curious.

“It’s all on Grindelwald nowadays. Prophet’s up in a tizzy over his movements, suggesting he’s heading over here. Now, I don’t know about that, but his recent attack was closer than usual I’m sure.”

Oh, that was interesting. Tom didn’t know much about Grindelwald, it was hardly anything he needed to know, but it was important to figure out if he was coming to England. Tom didn’t fancy fighting for control when the time came. “They believe he’s a threat to England?”

Arcturus sipped his wine, cheeks already slightly flushed. How much had he already drank tonight?

“His recent attacks have been brutal, if he is indeed heading over to us I am unsure how we would defend ourselves.”

“What Britain needs,” Tom stated, his eyes dark and a smile curling like a shadow across his cheeks, “Is a strong leader, one who’s unafraid of a little bloodshed.”

The man laughed, gruff and barking, while his children both looked up from their food at Tom. Gazing at Orion’s devoted stare, he completely missed the intense look leveled upon him by Lucretia.

 


 

Myrtle Warren arrived in an unflattering, oversized brown skirt, a scratchy looking blue and green striped cardigan, and grey argyle knee-high socks. Even Hadrian, admittedly far from a fashion expert, felt a cringe rise up within him. Walburga and Lucretia stand next to him, giving the muggleborn a distasteful look. He stood instead with a pleasant smile, watching as Myrtle fidgeted uncomfortably under their stares.

Finally, Walburga raised her chin and strolled past them, leading them down the crowded streets of Diagon and down a side road. Myrtle scrambled after her, looking startled, while Hadrian and Lucretia fell into an easy pace behind them both.

“We’ll floo over to Italy’s shopping district, If I’m seen with her I’ll never hear the end of it from my Father. Imagine the gossip!” She announced to Hadrian, and he watched Myrtle stiffen. Whether it was the casual decision to travel that far or the clear insult, he wasn’t sure.

“Italy? Not France?” He inquired, aware that outside of London’s pureblood shopping district, Euphuistic Alley, most purebloods shopped in France. 

“It would be likely we’d run into a family we knew there, the Malfoy’s, in particular, prefer to shop there. Italy is uncommon, outside of certain summer months. We will have to be wary of running into the Zabini’s though.” Lucretia explained, and the rounded the corner to find a simple store. Hadrian didn’t recognize it, but Walburga lead them inside confidently. A row of fireplaces sat against a wall, well kept and obviously expensive. Behind a desk stood an elderly witch, poised as any pureblood, and she gave Myrtle a long look when she saw her.

“Miss Black, It’s good to see you. Traveling without your parents, today?” 

“Yes, My cousin Hadrian is accompanying us today instead. We’d like to floo to Italy, Moda Way.” 

The witch held out her hand and Walburga gave her a couple of gleaming gallons. The fire roared, and they were on their way.

Moda Way was bright, colorful stores and clean cobblestone streets at once so familiar and so strange. The dreary weather of London, the constant wash of gray even on sunny days, was a stark contrast to the splashes of color and clear sunlight. A smaller crowd hustled past them, men and women and children dressed in elegant day clothes, chatting in a language Hadrian couldn’t understand. He cast a subtle look around at his surroundings, drinking it in, while Myrtle openly gaped and spun around. He didn’t hold it against her, knowing all too well how magical the wizarding world was and how hard it was to keep your composure without training.

“Close your mouth, Warren, please do act like a lady,” Walburga commented, but it wasn’t unkind and Myrtle obeyed quickly. Lucretia, behind her, pressed a hand against her lower back and seemed to press slightly.

“And straighten your back. You’ll thank me.” Lucretia said, smiling when Myrtle did as she was told. 

“Do you have a style in mind?” Walburga started them moving again, hair swinging hypnotically against her robes. 

“Not really, though Agatha Yankle always wears the prettiest clothes.” Myrtle offered, though Hadrian didn’t recognize the name. Walburga made a noise in the back of her throat, dismissive.

“Yes, but her style wouldn’t suit you at all. Leave everything up to us then.”

They ended up in high-class store after high-class store, Hadrian sitting on the bench and reading a novel while the girls poured after swaths of fabrics miles long, comparing colors and patterns and discussing cuts. Myrtle was obviously flustered and out of her element, startled as prices were volleyed around between the witches (though Hadrian was footing the bill), awkward as each seam-witch prodded and measured, and off-balance at all the corrections in manners and posture. Hadrian almost burst out laughing at the look on her face when Walburga sternly stuck a hand under her chin and raised it, remembering Hermione’s lessons and lectures on the same things.

Myrtle complained only once, and a few words from him managed to calm her down. He ended up weighed down by several bags, with more bags shrunk down inside them. The featherlight charm was definitely strained, he thought with a chuckle. They finished with clothes and shoes and ducked into a store for cosmetics and potions, Hadrian idly thinking on how much his feet hurt and how long they had been in Italy as he stood out front.

A man strode past him, quick and focused, and Hadrian was forced to step back against the wall to avoid being bowled over. The man was older, and he strode with the confidence of a powerful man. Hadrian couldn’t help but watch him go. It was because of this he noticed something fall out of his pocket, a piece of paper.

Uncharacteristically, Hadrian bent down to pick it up and found no urge to open it and read it’s contents. Instead, he called out in what little Italian he knew. “Signore!”

The man stopped, looking over his shoulder. His blue eyes were pale and discomfiting, piercing through Hadrian as if trying to read his very person. He made sure not to meet the wizard's eyes, only lifting the paper as explanation. The man was obviously shocked, narrowing in on the paper with such an intensity that it must have been something very important indeed. Hadrian suddenly wished he had read it, or kept it, and wasn’t sure why he hadn’t. 

The wizard stalked back to him and held out his hand, expectant. Hadrian carefully handed it back to him, instinct rising in him and telling him to grab his wand. 

“Thank you.” Came the stilted, accented response, and then the man was turning and striding off once more, shoving the paper back into his robes, his other hand tight around a familiar wand.

Hadrian squinted at his retreating back, but the girls emerged from the store and he put it to the back of his mind. He smiled at them, noticing their eased conversation. They must have bonded in some way.

Back at the Manor, Myrtle was whisked away for a haircut and makeover. Unlike wizards, witches did not allow strangers to touch their hair and therefore Lucretia had to be the one to do it, used to cutting her own hair and well versed in hair cair charms. It took long enough that Hadrian finished his novel and began on a potions essay due after break. 

When they re-emerged he was ready to doze off in his armchair, but the shock was enough to rouse him.

Standing before him was the brunette from his Samhain visions. Frizzy pigtails replaced by elegant curls, clunky tortoiseshell glasses gone and revealing her bold eyes, makeup carefully applied. She wore stylish robes and short heels, clothes that while elegant like Walburga’s were more youthful and bright, favoring blues but with splashes of yellow and green.

But it’s painfully obvious it was still Myrtle, posture hunched and defensive, knees wobbling in her heels, a lack of poise that contrasted sharply with her look. She also looked exhausted.

“You look like a lady, Myrtle. I’d like to see Olive Hornby try to make fun of your look now.” He grinned, and she straightened up in pride. That was more like it.

“Don’t forget that looking the part is barely half of it. Do your reading, follow the training we’ve set out, and do not forget the charms we’ve taught you!” Walburga instructed, but there was ease behind her words as she stacked Myrtle’s arms with books. Myrtle nodded, looking very serious, and Hadrian was suddenly very certain this would work as planned. “Well continue lessons after break.”

“Thank you, really.” Myrtle enthused, genuine emotion spilling through the way only common girls would dare. It was almost refreshing.

Then she was off through the floo before she could be caught by an adult. Walburga gave Lucretia a long look, before turning on heel and retiring to her room. Hadrian suddenly realized what was going on, watching Lucretia tug at her fingers.

“You’ve made a decision.”

She nodded, determination on her face making her look younger and older simultaneously. “I’ll follow you.”

“You’re sure?” There was never a way to take this kind of declaration back, not truly. But she didn’t falter.

“I’m sure. You aren’t like anyone else in politics, Hadrian. I know the wizarding world would be better in your hands.”

He smiled, warmly. “Then welcome, Cousin.”

 


 

Hadrian stood in the center of a small ballroom, watching Hermione place a record on the gramophone. The music washed over them, upbeat and complex, and her heels clicked on the floor as she walked back to him. Her skirt swung around her legs playfully. 

“Let’s see how much we can remember.” Hermione teased, and he laughed as he took her into his arms and began a slightly clumsy waltz. 

“We have to make McGonagal proud, after all.” He agreed, and she snorted. Their steps became smoother and lighter and after a couple of rounds around the ballroom, it was almost instinct. 

“A lady should never promenade the ball-room alone, nor enter it unaccompanied.” Hermione quoted, though the wrinkle of her nose told Hadrian what she thought about that.

“Treading on a lady's skirts is a great offense, a gentleman should take great care in where he steps.” Hadrian continues. Merlin, that etiquette book was ridiculous, but they both agreed they needed to study it.

“Great care should be taken by a lady in refusing to dance with a gentleman. After refusing, she should not accept another invitation for the same dance.”

“Yeah, ‘Mione, be careful to not be a bitch.” She whacked him on the arm and they nearly tripped. 

“Mind your tone, or I’ll mind it for you.” She warned, eyes alight with humor. He winked at her, leading her into a spin.

“Do not forget to thank your partner after seating her, for the favor she has bestowed upon you.” He began once more, and they went back and forth studying and quizzing each other in between snark and laughter. 

The music swelled around them, and the easy smile Hadrian wore fell away, along with the room around him.

 

“This is hardly going to help me at the ball,” Harry complained, but he gazed up at Tom fondly as the older boy led him around the Room of Requirement. They had both abandoned their robes over a couch, sleeves rolled up to their elbows and ties loosened.

“Well, I’m quite sick of you leading and stepping on my toes, so I’m afraid you’ll have to learn to follow.” Tom drawled back, a hint of a smirk on his handsome features. Harry scowled, embarrassed.

“I was fine when I was dancing with girls. You’re just too tall.” He bit back. “Besides, the skill is useless. I won’t be allowing anyone to lead me.”

Tom lent down closer to his ear. “You’re allowing me to lead you.”

Harry fought to keep from flushing, and nodded. “I’m allowing you.”

It was softly spoken, intimate and vulnerable. They both knew the weight behind that statement.

The moment, like hundreds before it, passed. Tom leaned back and donned his teacher mode once more. “Lean back into my hand, Harry. I can’t effectively lead if you won’t.” He chided, and Harry rolled his eyes but did as he told. Their steps, while mostly in sync, were heavy and at slightly different timings. But no matter how long they danced it didn’t seem to improve. And as they spun around the room Tom seemed to drift, and the good mood went with him.

“What do you think he’s doing?”

Harry went stiff and missed a step. But Tom hardly seemed to notice.

“Voldemort?” He asked, but he knew the answer. It was always about him. “I’m not sure. I suspect he’s behind me becoming a Champion but I don’t know why.”

Tom made a humming noise, still distracted, and Harry’s stomach dropped. “Why do you care, Tom?”

“I feel a whisper of change coming, I simply was curious what it could be.”

But the suspicion that had been wrapping around Harry’s heart only pulled tighter. He gripped the hand in his tight and dropped his eyes. He didn’t want to see the distant look that was becoming more frequent.

“Likely a plan to kill me, my bets are on the end of the year as usual.” He said dryly, bitterly. Tom chuckled and shook his head.

“He can’t kill you, Harry. Not once he realizes you’re one of us.” Tom soothed, and Harry’s eyes fell on the diary laying open on the bed. He felt anything but soothed, but he was starting to accept the path he longed he didn’t have to tread.

They turned to the building music, and the diary fell out of his line of sight.

 

“Hadrian.” Hermione prompted, and he turned his unfocused eyes to hers. The music had just fallen silent, though he only had hazy memories of the last few turns around the room. Hermione looked at him in clear concern, but he gave her a light-hearted grin. It reached his eyes, but not the swirling thing in his heart.

“I’m bored, why don’t I teach you the polka?” He offered lightly, swinging her into a dip. The concern melted from her features, and she huffed in amusement.

“How on earth do you know the polka?” She laughed, quirking an eyebrow.

“I know a great many things, and I thought we could see if the polka was one of them.”

She shoved him but went to replace the record, all the same, a pep in her step. He smiled at her back, but it was a small, mournful thing.


 

Suddenly, Mother’s Night was upon them and the Manor became very busy as the 12 days of Yule began. Elves were busy at work cleaning and cleansing the house of both clutter and bad energy under the watchful eye of Lady Black. The place smelt strongly of smudge sticks, but he could hardly complain as he had smudged his room and belongings as well.

The house Altar was updated for the sabbat, and after cleaning came decorating. Ribbons strung from every ceiling, wreaths placed on doors, Yule Trees set up both outside and in, covered in floating candles and offerings for the fairies. 

Rituals of all sorts were held, ones Hadrian and Hermione were invited to and ones they were not. Family walked the halls, so many names he attempted to remember as they were introduced to him in swaths. And through it all, the Yule Log burned in the fireplace.

Gifts were exchanged often, small things and big things, handcrafted and expensive. Hadrian receives art supplies, sketchbooks, novels and texts, letters and candy from peers he had met. It was the grandest celebration of tradition and magic he had ever been a part of, a far cry from the quiet rituals Ron, Hermione, and he would hold. They managed a floo call during it all, and Hadrian told the legend of the Holly King and the Oak King, soft as a bedtime story. The way they had whispered it to each other, hidden in Hadrian’s bed late at night as his dorm mates slept.

On the 11th day of Yule, Hadrian awoke to Hermione standing over his bed, his curtains opening with a wave of her wand. He blinked the sleep out of his eyes, reluctant to wake up. She tucked her wand back up the sleeve of her sleep robe and climbed up onto the bed, kneeling on the sheets.

“Good morning, ‘Mione. What do I owe the pleasure at this hour?”

She rolled her eyes and grabbed his hand. “Blessed Yule.”

He examined the carefully wrapped present she had pressed into his palm, fondness warming him better than the charms on his covers ever could. 

“Thank you.” Even after all this time, it was odd to receive a present. He cherished each one his friends gave him, much to their exasperation.

“Open it, Hadrian, before you give Ronald a heart attack all the way back at Hogwarts.” She urged, and he choked out a loud laugh, imagining how Ron’s fingers would twitch towards his gifts every time he dallied. He unwrapped the present with ease, and popped open the lid to find a swirling purple potion carefully placed inside. His brows knit together, even as he pulled the vial out.

“It’s a eye-sight potion, I brewed it myself. I thought you would like it before the Ball tonight, instead of during tomorrow's feast and celebrations.” She explained, and his eyebrows shot right back up in surprise. He had known the potions existed, of course, just last week Myrtle had taken one. But he had always had his glasses, never considered he might not have to wear them anymore. Part of him didn’t want to take the potion, so used to the round frames and uncomfortable with the idea of parting with them. They were part of him, almost. But admittedly, life would be far easier, in dueling and in flying. Glasses got in the way, and if they were ever knocked off his face he would be in big trouble.

He nodded and smiled at Hermione, setting the vial down and tugging her into a hug. “Thank you. I’m so glad to have you as a sister, ‘Mione.”

Her breath hitched and her arms tightened around him, burying her head in his neck. The bond that had always been between them strengthened, the heightened magic of the season wrapping tight around his words. He knew she could feel it too, and they held their breaths as they held each other for a long moment. Then she pulled back and gave him a watery grin, obviously caught off guard by the emotional scene. 

“I have to go, the ladies are starting the very long process of getting ready now. How it’s going to take most of the day to get dressed I don’t know, but Walburga threatened to ban me from the Library for the rest of break if I don’t get there on time.” She chuckled softly, before slipping off the bed and out the door. He watched her go with a smirk, before turning back to the vial on his blankets.

He examined it under the light, watching the thick substance swirl easily, before popping the top of and swallowing it in a large gulp. It wasn’t an awful tasting potion, but it hardly tasted good.

He was prepared for the taste, and the slimy feeling on his tongue and in his throat that always lingered, but what he wasn’t prepared for was the sudden beginnings of a headache behind his eyes. It was soft, but he could feel in his gut that it would get much worse. So he sighed, plucking his glasses off his face and laying back down. He spelled the lights low and settled in for the next few hours of agony.

The headache was gone by 5, though he had to eat his dinner in bed as the after-affects wore off, and he almost stuck his glasses on out of instinct. His eyes fluttered open and to his amazement he could see perfectly, awe filling him despite him knowing this would happen.

He didn’t have much time to revel in the wonder of magic, however, having to hurry out of bed and begin getting ready for the Ball.

He washed up quickly, and then began tugging on his slacks and socks. His button-up was white with a high collar and ruffled sleeves that reminded him of Ron’s Yule robes, though his was much cleaner and more elegant. Green ribbons were spelled to tie themselves around his wrists and elbows, something Lucretia had insisted on and he hadn’t had the heart to refuse. He would admit, despite the faint girlishness of them, they looked quite charming. He shrugged on a dark, emerald green vest that was well-tailored to him, ignoring his dance robes as he went to stand in front of the mirror.

“You look very dashing, young Mister Black.” The mirror complimented, “Though your hair is a disaster.”

He grinned cheekily at his reflection, winking. “I’m well aware. I think I’ll leave it though, not that I have much choice.”

His hair, despite the smoother curls, still had a mind of it’s own and refused to be tamed from it’s wild mop. He ran a hand through it and watched it bounce right back into place, before turning from the Mirror and it’s grumbling and grabbing up his robe.

It was a black, with tiny gold detailing threaded throughout, causing it to catch the light and glint when he moved. It was also heavy, which was helpful to keep out the chill these old Manors always seemed to have, but he worried he would eventually have to remove it as he danced.

“Surely, running a comb through would help, Mister Black!” The mirror called to him as he left, and he just laughed at the idea, closing his door behind him. He walked down the hall and to Hermione’s room, knocking steadily on the door.

She emerged and he was taken back once more at how pretty she was. She wore a poofy silk ballgown, the dark blue color beautiful against her dark skin. The skirt ruffled at the bottom, with tulle swags curving around her hips. The boatneck exposed the sapphire necklace she wore and ruffled out into sleeves. Her mane of hair was up in an elaborate style full of ribbons, and he suddenly understood why women took so long to get ready.

“Ready to go, Miss Black?” He asked, bowing and offering his arm. She huffed a quiet laugh at his antics and threaded a lace-covered hand into the crook of his arm. He led her down the hallway and down the stairs to the large ballroom, which was tastefully decorated for Yule. The rest of the Black household were waiting in the entryway for guests to start arriving, and Hadrian and Hermione were quick to settle in next to Walburga at the end. 

Walburga wore a pure white ball gown even larger than Hermione’s, with a tightly cinched bodice and a neckline that ended halfway up her neck, as his did. There’s lace detailing and lace sleeves, along with two white ribbons, one around her neck and one in her hair.

He nodded at her in greeting, receiving a bob in return, and then soon guests began drifting in.

To be frank, it was very boring. There were a lot of people, almost all influential, and while he appreciated the opportunity presented to him he had never had the patience for social functions like this. It took half an hour for the other side of the Black family to arrive, not including the elders.

Then, he walked in. He was dressed in all black, from his long elegant robes to his button up to his vest. The only color on him was a gleaming red ring, and Hadrian was reminded of slitted blood eyes and smooth gray skin. A quote rose in his mind like fog.

The devil doesn’t come to you with his red face and horns, he comes disguised as everything you’ve ever wanted.

He didn’t know where he heard this quote, but it lingered anyway, even as he tried to wave it away. Riddle was not what he wanted, couldn’t be. He wanted power, he wanted change. And this devil, who wore the face of his greatest mistake, would only give him his downfall.

“Hadrian.” Lucretia greeted, as she stopped in front of him. He wrenched his eyes away from Riddle, who was greeting Lord Black with a charming smile, and gave her a polite smile of his own. Lucretia wore a daffodil ball gown with a queen anne neckline, orange floral patterns flowing down the center of the skirt and around her neckline. Her hair is long down her back, which amused Hadrian. It was clearly a way to draw attention to the fact that her hair was ladylike, perhaps to please her Father. 

“Lucretia, good to see you.” He greeted back, and the line moved on. Arcturus’ wife, Melania Black, was next to greet him. She was a quiet woman, much quieter than Lady Black was, and he was not at all surprised to find his arm gripped tightly by her husband. His Uncle was a stern-looking man with a large presence, not all in a good way, and he didn’t seem to grasp how impolite it was to use a handshake as a way to assert dominance. 

“Cassiopeia’s boy, Harry.”

Hadrian gave him an icy smile, “Hadrian, actually. Good to meet you, Uncle.” 

“Yes, yes,” Arcturus waved him off, and he wanted to curse him. “Good to meet you as well.”

And then his Uncle moved along as well and Hadrian is faced with Riddle, who gave his obnoxiously fake smile and offered his hand. 

“Black.” He greeted simply, and Hadrian took great delight in taking his hand instead of his arm to shake, clearly marking Riddle as not a pureblood. Brown eyes glinted with anger, but neither of their faces changed from the frozen politeness.

“Riddle.” And then his hand was empty once more, almost stinging with it, as Riddle moved on to greet Hermione. Then they were past the allotted greeting time, and Hadrian led Hermione to the seating area in the now filled ballroom, sitting her down next to Lucretia. Walburga sat down next to both of them, escorted by Cygnus.

“Care to accompany me as I mingle, Hadrian?” Cygnus offered, and Hadrian recognized it for what it was. Cygnus was trying to serve him in any way he could, but Hadrian nodded and allowed him to do it. It was odd, having someone follow him other than Ron and Hermione, but it was pleasant, walking around the ballroom (slowly, as not to trample any gowns) with his eldest cousin. Cygnus was a reserved personality, but he had dry wit in spades and Hadrian found himself smothering laughter more than once at the rude comments uttered politely under his breath. Eventually, however, Hadrian was once more bored with the introductions and gaining a headache, so he retreated over to the edges, finding himself standing with Alphard.

“Cousin!” He greeted warmly, raising his wine glass towards Hadrian. It’s refreshing, Alphard’s pure enthusiasm and general laid-backness. It was so unlike the rest of his family, he could see why Sirius took such a shining to the man.

“Cousin. Drinking already?” He inquired, amused at the flush in his cheeks. He was obviously well on his way to being a tad past tipsy. But Alphard just gave a brief chuckle and winked at him.

“How else am I to survive the night?”

“Very true.” Hadrian couldn’t help but laugh, and Alphard’s eyes lit up.

“You aren’t a fan of these types of things? You of all people, truly?” He exclaimed.

“Truly. I find it dull and overly ordered. Plus, nearly none of these people have even the slightest thing interesting to say.” Alphard looked delighted, and they fell into easy banter about the endless line of old people they were forced to deal with. It reminded him of listening to some of the Slytherin’s moan and complain.

He noticed a swirl of blue on the dancefloor, and found that Hermione was engaged in conversation with Nott as they danced. His eyebrows drew together in frustration, uncomfortable with how close they were. Surely, Hermione was not fooled by the friendly persona Nott put up? He knew her better than that, he refused to doubt her. But he knew better than most how clouded intelligence and gut instincts can become with affection, and he worried for her. Even if she would hex him for doing so.

Seeing her dance reminded him, however, that as a gentleman he was expected to dance at least once during the night, so he left Alphard and carefully made his way back to where the women were seated. He spotted Walburga sitting down, and thought he was very lucky for it. As rude as it was, he didn’t feel like dancing with some girl who would likely expect something from him he couldn’t give.

“May I have the pleasure of dancing with you, miss?” He bowed and held out his hand to her. She slid her gloved hand into his and allowed him to gently pull her out of her chair.

“Of course, Cousin.” She agreed, and they made their way to the floor as the song began.

He led her with ease, maybe not the best dancer but certainly proficient enough to not look like any kind of idiot on the floor. Walburga was, admittedly, a tad taller than him, which was slightly embarrassing. But she was also a very beautiful woman, even if he couldn't (and wouldn't, due to the relation) appreciate it fully. The most beautiful thing about her, however, was definitely the Slytherin gleam in her dark eyes.

“I’ve made my decision.” She said conversationally, and wasn’t that a surprise. He hadn’t expected three of the four would have answers for him so soon.

“And?” He prompted.

Her painted lips lifted, and something in him eased. “I think you’ll make a strong leader. Admittedly, I was shocked to be recruited. Women never are, we must seek it out ourselves and work effortlessly to prove ourselves. But you, dear cousin, saw past the pureblood lady, the future wife, and saw me. And that is something very incredible indeed.”

They shared a look of meaning, and he inclined his head to her. “I’m pleased to have you. We’ll discuss the details at a more suitable time.”

The music ended not long after that, and he led her back to her seat, making sure to thank her for the dance. His suspicions proved correct, and he had to shed his robes and hand them off to an elf before the heat caused him to start sweating. It was then he spotted Hermione once more. Deciding to dance with her, and hopefully keep her from Nott if only for one song, he started towards her.

Halfway across the floor, he felt a solid tap against his shoulder, and something shivered down his spine. Turning, he found just what he expected.

Riddle grinned at him, friendly and sharp, and the hand stretched out towards him twisted into an offering. 

“May I have the pleasure of your next dance?” Riddle asked, and oh. What was he playing at? Hadrian pushed the sudden rise of emotions away and focused on his suspicion, a refusal already pressing at the seam of his lips.

But, impossibly, he felt his arm lift and his hand slide into the offered palm. 

 


 

Hermione could barely believe her eyes, watching Riddle pull Hadrian’s body close to his as the music began. It was unexplainable, impossible to wrap her mind around, and even as she danced once more across the floor with Nott, the boy chattering endlessly in her ear, she couldn’t tear her gaze away from the two boys expertly waltzing amidst the crowd. Neither of them seemed to notice the way the floor began to empty, immersed as they were in each others eyes. 

There were stares of delight and stares of disgust, but every eye in the room was on them. And suddenly there were eyes on her, Hadrian meeting her gaze. There was something she didn’t have words for hidden in his eyes, and no answer to the question she silently asked back. And then, after only a moment, his attention was back to Riddle.

She glanced once more around the room, and knew that despite the turn of events, the moment she’d been waiting for was here. She turned back to her dance partner, who appeared unaware of everything happening, and leaned forward towards his ear.

“I’m finding myself overwhelmed. I know it’s unsuitable, but do you mind accompanying me into the hall for a breath of fresh air?” She asked innocently, catching the look in his eye.

She knew what he was thinking, but she was counting on it, and let him lead her from the ball into the hall without comment. From there she took over, grasping his hand and taking him deeper into the hallways towards a secluded spot.

Nott, despite all his many flaws, was still a pureblood heir, and after only a hallway she knew her excuse of air was taken at face value, but wouldn’t hold up for long. She knew he was hoping for a private conversation, believing himself able to subtly get information out of her, and not for anything untoward as some men would hope for. In fact, she was sure he was soon to begin protesting at the distance, so she was left with no option but to imperio him and order him to follow.

Deep in the manor she stopped, tugging the mindless boy in after her. And from there, a different sort of dance began.

It wasn’t the first time she had done this, and she doubted it would be the last, but the subtle barrage of spells needed to allow Nott to speak freely was an art she found very soothing. It was complicated work, avoiding walls and precautions placed, his mental strength as a pureblood and Knight of Walpurgis something not easily broken. And to extract the information she wanted without leaving a trace of herself behind, without leaving anything suspicious for either Nott or Riddle to notice? It took all of the skills she had learned over the years, and plenty of time. So, despite being aware of what was happening, she allowed Nott to woo her. It allowed the time she needed without suspicion, and eased many of the barriers put around the sensitive information she coveted.

Hermione Black was not an idiot, not a fool led astray by a handsome boy with a charming smile. She was Hadrian’s right hand, and she would act like it.

Still, it was always infuriating delving into the boy's mind. How twisted his image of her was, how stupid he thought her. The things he admitted under her spells caused fury to tighten her fingers around her wand.

“How dare you try to play me. What kind of fool did you think me, to decide romance was the path through my defences? What did you gain in return?” She asked coldly, staring into his glazed eyes. It wasn’t something she had dared ask before, but every session it pressed at her. She had to know.

But when he opened his mouth, she suddenly wished he hadn’t. “I wasn’t playing you.” He admitted, voice droning without emotion. “I always thought you were interesting. I was going to ask to court you, even before my Lord gave me orders.”

Her wand dipped, and the anger paused for only a moment, in which something in her heart broke. But she didn’t falter long, taking a deep breath and digging her nails deeper into his face. Blood dripped down from the cuts, lazy rivulets of crimson that streaked his cheeks and stained her fingers. She watched it with a hardened face, anger swallowing her whole once more.

“That was your mistake. You are not Romeo, and there is no love in war.” 

She leaned in, just a breath away from his lips, a mockery of an embrace. And she whispered out a soft, “ Obliviate.

 



Hadrian's fingers curled around the rough palm, accepting his offer.

Riddle almost appeared surprised, but he certainly wasn’t as surprised as Hadrian himself. Music began, something smooth and unmistakably a waltz. Riddle pulled him in by his hand, and he had to tilt his head to meet his eyes. 

They danced in silence for a moment, at once feeling like ages and no time at all. Hadrian was forced to stare into those falsely friendly brown eyes, dumbfounded by the depth of an unnameable emotion inside. Riddle’s hands were warm, the one against his back strong and familiar. He hated it, longed for it, hated that he longed for it. He broke eye contact, the intimacy straining the conflicting emotions inside him, and gazed to the side. He found himself suddenly meeting Hermione’s worried expression, unsure how to convey exactly what was going on.

Riddle’s hand tightened in his own, and suddenly he began to speak. “I heard you refused my offer once more, Black. It’s a pity.”

Hadrian dragged his eyes from Hermione and back into that piercing stare, seeing satisfaction flit across his handsome features. He almost scowled. “I don’t think it’s such a pity.”

“We’ll be enemies now, you understand. I’ve been far too lenient already.” The threat in that casual tone was stark, and he was sure on lesser wizards it would leave them trembling. But Riddle was not half as frightening as other things he’d been through. Hadrian’s expression darkened, and their pace quickened with the music.

“We’ve always been enemies.” He said very seriously, and a flash of pain lit him up, a phantom smoke filling his nose and lungs. He would never forget that smell, cloying and awful.

Riddle raised an eyebrow, murmuring, “Is that so?”

Hadrian snapped out of it, replacing the pain with dark amusement. Yes, they were enemies. Destined to be, always. Riddle had no idea, but he would understand what little he could, soon.

“We’ve been enemies since I stepped foot in Hogwarts, Riddle. My goals do not fit with yours, and I am not one to lie down and accept your leadership. I’ve been meaning to do this for a while, and I suppose this is as good a time as any.”

They were close, too close. Riddle’s voice was low and velvet, dangerous as a viper. “To do what?”

Hadrian lent in, only the slightest bit closer. “I’m declaring war.”

Riddle’s eyes flashed with anger, and his grip tightened until they were nearly chest to chest. Indecent for the ballroom floor, but they had already created a spectacle the moment their hands met. Men were not to dance together, under any circumstances, but if they had any saving grace it was that at least they did it well. Riddle led him gracefully across the floor, smooth and easy, skilled. He was sure they made quite the picture.

“You think it’s wise to put yourself opposite me?”

“I don’t care if it’s wise, honestly.”

“I’ll destroy you.”

“I’d like to see you try.”

The music swelled to a climax behind them, heavy and tense and loud. It filled up the spaces inside of him with so much emotion he felt he was going to burst, composure slipping even as they came to a sudden stop in the center of the ballroom, the only couple on the floor. Both their chests heaved from exertion and anger, and without the movement, Hadrian is aware of all of the eyes on them. The floor is clear, had been most of the song, the only people dancing them.

They break apart, smooth to the audience but Hadrian knew he tore his hand back from the warm palm of his temptation like hellfire had sparked between them. He took a step back, then another, before raising his chin and turning on heel. He glanced briefly over the crowd of onlookers before making as composed an exit as he was able.

Outside the ballroom the air was crisper, the draft filling the manor, and he could hear Riddle’s footsteps hurrying after him as he wound through the manor’s halls. He didn’t want to deal with this, couldn’t deal with this. The pureblood manners he had built around him were crumbling and he had never felt so close to Harry, not since he arrived here. Tears of frustration threatened to well, and his hand twitched around the air, demanding he grab his wand and deal with Riddle like he always had.

He was halfway down a hall, far from the ball, when a strong grip grabbed him by the arm and slammed him against the wallpaper. The breath is knocked out of him, his head thunking painfully against the wallpaper, and Riddle towered over him, furious. He had never been more aware of their height difference.

A wand was wedged under his chin, tilting it up to meet burning eyes, Riddle’s face inches from his own and twisted in rage. Hadrian’s heart stuttered in his chest, and he wondered if Riddle could feel it pounding against the arm that was braced there, holding him against the cold wall at his back.

“You are a fool for challenging me.” Gone was the composure Riddle had always held, something more true and primal in its place.

Hadrian felt his lips curl into a smirk, eyes hooded and flashing. “Better a witty fool than a foolish wit.” He quoted lowly, knowing Riddle was likely to recognize the quote. Either way, the wand dug deeper into his flesh, a painful bite. Hadrian couldn’t help but hiss, face furrowing. He rocked up on his toes to relieve some of the pressure.

“I will kill you.” It was dark, the melody of Riddle’s voice stroking along the words and only adding to their threat. Hadrian bared his teeth in a vicious smile.

“No you couldn’t. You never could.” He laughed, and the wand once more dug into his skin. He just tilted his head to give him access, unafraid. Something was burning and sparking in Riddle’s eyes, a desire, but at that moment he could strike him dead and Hadrian was unsure if he would even care. The tension was suffocating enough he might die anyway, unable to bring back the breath he had lost.

Riddle didn’t kill him, or perhaps he did. Perhaps by leaning down and pressing his lips to Hadrian’s in a bruising kiss Riddle killed Hadrian in the only way that mattered. Even as part of him shriveled in his chest his self-control snapped, his hands reaching up and tangling in Riddle’s hair to tug him firmly against him.

All the pain and tension and passion bled into each other, fueling the rough, clumsy meeting of lips. Hadrian had little idea what he was doing, his only experience the quickly discarded fantasies of a life passed. But even as tears threatened to spill, his chest gapingly empty and burstingly full of every emotion he could possibly feel, he found a blissful peace, an unknown pleasure in his enemy's lips. 

When they parted, all of the walls and veils in his mind and heart would crumble, and he would be forced to face all the things he had rejected. But for now, he lost himself in the moment, the heat of the body against his and the taste of sin on his lips. 

Chapter Text

The ground was cold and hard beneath his bare feet, grass tickling bare soles. He moved quickly, following the lead of his partner. They waltzed with ease around the gravestones, despite the near pitch black of the night and the thick fog lazily rolling across the ground.

Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, ” Tom said, low, his deep voice rumbling in Harry’s ear. “ Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?

It was such a pleasant sound, the only sound breaking the dead silence. No music played, no nature sang, and the sticks that snapped under Harry’s foot and tore them into bloody wounds sounded no different than the grass and dirt. The pain was dull, barely there, and when he glanced down he could not see through the thickness of the fog that chilled his bare skin. It was chilly out, but wasn’t it summer? He could see his school robes from where he tried to peer through the fog, but a headache accompanied the sight. What color was his tie supposed to be again?

The warm, rough hand in his squeezed and he looked back up at Tom, sucked into the dark depths of his eyes. Tom gave him a smile, but was it warm or dangerous? It was like the fog was in his head instead of the ground.

“The woman said to the serpent, ‘We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’’ ,” Tom continued, his voice like silk. Harry was captivated. Tom spun him gracefully, and Hadrian felt like the world would never stop spinning, the empty graveyard blurring in front of him. He fell into Tom, grasping his school robes tight and gasping as his stomach rolled. He was disoriented, far more than he should be, and he felt as if he was going to be sick. But Tom righted him with ease, continuing the dance without pause even as he supported most of Harry’s weight. And as Tom was once again in his sight, he found his mind perfectly clear, a blissful smile stretching his face. The pain was gone.

The moon came out from under the heavy clouds, and when they illuminated Tom, Harry saw them glint a ruby red. Something told Hadrian he should be afraid, but how could Harry be afraid of Tom? Tom leaned back down, whispering once more in his ear. “‘You will not certainly die,’ the serpent said to the woman. ‘For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.’.” 

Hadrian turned his head as the verse finished, seeking out Tom’s lips. He placed a hand on his lover’s cheek, pulling him in closer, even as his forehead burst out in stabbing pain. Tears prickled his eyes, his head throbbed and screamed, and smoke and fog mixed to one and coated his lungs.

When he pulled back Tom was on fire. His face was blank, crackling and burning, but Hadrian only felt numb. He stroked his cheek, tilting his head as it fell to pieces in his grip. He remembered then, a passage he had learned in church when he was just a child.

You were blameless in your ways/ from the day you were created/ till wickedness was found in you. Through your widespread trade/ you were filled with violence,/ and you sinned.” He murmured softly, “So I drove you in disgrace from the mount of God,/ and I expelled you, guardian cherub,/ from among the fiery stones. Your heart became proud/ on account of your beauty,/ and you corrupted your wisdom/ because of your splendor. So I threw you to the earth; I made a spectacle of you before kings.

Blood dripped down his face, his scar bleeding profusely. Tom gazed at him, eyes bright with pain and begging Hadrian to stop. But Hadrian watched indifferently, allowing Tom to stumble back and break his grip. “ By your many sins and dishonest trade/ you have desecrated your sanctuaries./ So I made a fire come out from you, and it consumed you,/ and I reduced you to ashes on the ground/ in the sight of all who were watching.

Harry could see figures in the fog now, a circle of dark robes around the two of them. Silver faces glinted in the moonlight, as fiendfyre blazed hot, consuming the figure of Tom. In the light of the flames, Hadrian didn’t know what color his eyes were, only that they gazed at him. Begging mercy? Swearing vengeance? Laughing or crying? He didn’t know, so he opened his mouth and let his words fill the void of sound around them.

All the nations who knew you/ are appalled at you; ” Tom fell to his knees, and over his shoulder, Harry could see a tattered figure in yellow and black staring at him. “ you have come to a horrible end/ and will be no more.

The fiendfyre soared bright, consuming Tom completely as he screamed in silent agony, and Harry watched the blaze of light flicker across Cedric’s face before it blinded him. He blinked, the heat gone and leaving an unearthly chill. 

He was alone in a graveyard, his back to a large gravestone he couldn’t read but knew intimately. There was no light, the moon behind clouds, only the fog rolling across the ground and into his lungs, suffocating him. He can barely see through the blood dripping in his eyes, but he began to hum. Stretching out his arms he followed an invisible leader in a waltz of one, to a tune he had never heard.

 


 

Hadrian gasped, the sound ripping through the silence of the room. He had surged up in bed, sweat coating his cold skin as his eyes searched wildly around the room, glazed and unseeing. He heaved for breath, his lungs thick as if he had inhaled smoke. After a moment he collapsed into himself as if his strings had been cut, drawing up his knees and running a shaky hand through his damp hair. He gave a wry smile to the dark, feeling the dampness of his eyes.

A dream.

He sat there for ages, curled around himself and wheezing through phantom fog, feeling the jittering of his body recede and the tension slack, his strength sapped from him.

There was a knocking at his door, heavy but not panicked. His brow furrows and he called out.

“Come in.”

The door swung open to reveal Hermione, her robe wrapped tight around her body, covering her nightgown. Her face was pallid, cheeks splotchy, and her eyes were red. She shook, an echo of his previous state (though his hands still trembled faintly), and he opened his arms to her silently. She rushed into the bed, the door swinging closed behind her, and he wrapped her up in his embrace, an arm holding her close and a hand buried in her wild mess of curls. They both hid their faces and took comfort in the body holding theirs, even as they wracked with tremors. He could feel dampness against his neck but didn’t comment. Just tucked them both under the covers and reclined, waiting out the rest of the night.

He didn’t know why Hermione was upset, but he knew neither were willing to share tonight, so they just allowed their breathing to slow, and took comfort from the embrace of a sibling.

 


 

The glass shattered against the wall of the guest room, the noise loud enough to wake the dead. Shards glittered on the wood floor and in the wall where they had stuck, the wall undamaged but for the large stain of dried liquid on the wallpaper.

Tom growled in frustration, eyes flashing and knuckles white around his wand. He couldn’t sleep, couldn’t think, plagued by thoughts of Hadrian Black. He twisted his wrist sharply and watched the glass float back together and back to its place on the desk. His hand tingled with a phantom touch, warming, and he snatched up the glass and flung it at the wall in the blink of an eye, heaving for breath and looking wild. He ran a shaking hand through his normally perfect hair, the strands sticking out as if he had been through a storm.

Black had looked so pretty tonight, his large green eyes glowing without his glasses, his dark curls framing his face like a woman’s. They had been just as soft as they had looked, wrapped around his fingers as he pinned Hadrian to the wall, biting those damnable lips…

He shouted in anger, ripping himself from the train of thought and grabbing the glass again, hurling it with all his might. Those same lips had refused him, declared war so brashly, so foolishly. How dare he have the gall to stand against Tom, stand against Lord Voldemort! 

Tom didn’t bother fixing the glass this time, grinding his teeth together and gripping his wand tight enough to hurt. He hadn’t known what came over him at the ball, still couldn’t figure out what had possessed him to even dance with Black in the first place. It was insane, a scandal like that was going to be incredibly detrimental to his image, his plans. But watching him dance with another, it knocked all the common sense out of his head. Something he had thought was impossible. Something so unlike him. 

And to kiss him...what could have possibly entered his head to make him do that? What was he thinking, where did that come from? This obsession with Hadrian Black was ridiculous, spiraling out of control. Tom was always in control. Why was Black different? Was it a love potion of some kind? How did you check for that, how many kinds were there, when could he have possibly slipped it into his food-

He stopped in his track, taking a deep breath. He was too worked up, he was slipping. He took a moment to calm himself, aware of how ridiculous he was acting. Black couldn’t have possibly slipped him a potion, he was meticulous about checking his food. And he was not in love with Hadrian Black. He almost laughed at the thought. Faint lust, maybe. Black was attractive, doll-like but steely, a walking contraction.

And that was it, Tom assured himself. Hadrian Black was a contradiction in every way, and Tom wanted to rip him apart to find out why. That’s where this unfortunate obsession came from. But he had to focus on the facts now. And the facts were: Hadrian Black was officially his enemy, Tom had made a fool of himself by dancing with a man at the Ball tonight, Tom had kissed Black for unknown reasons, and both of them were ignoring it happened.

Going forward, he had plans he needed to further. Putting aside the sudden urge for a smoke, he spelled the glass back together and fixed his clothes and hair. Sitting down at the desk he picked up his quill and began to write.

 


 

Finally, break ended. On his way down the stairs the day they were to depart, Hadrian found himself face to face with the Lady of the House, her sharp eyes trained purposefully on him. He hadn’t interacted much Irma Black, though he knew Hermione had spent plenty of time learning thread work with her in the parlor. So he was caught off guard when she reached up and grasped his face with cold hands and a firm grip, tilting it up to search his eyes. He was frozen in surprise and confusion, allowing her to hold his gaze for a long time before she gave him a sad smile. 

“Take care of my children, Hadrian Black.” She told him sternly, and he gaped up at her.

“Excuse me, ma’am?” He blinked, startled. She still hadn’t released his face.

She just shook her head softly, eyes filled with loss and acceptance. “A mother always knows.”

She released him and stepped back, straightening up. “Good luck at school.” She said simply, before continuing up the stairs. Hadrian stared after her, feeling distinctly unbalanced. 

He shook his head and shifted his grip on his suitcase, continuing down the stairs. He had a train to catch.

 


 

Ron was a ginger blot against the white snow, and Hadrian broke out in a grin at the sight. Merlin, he had missed him. Ron waved, one hand tucked in his pocket like always, and both Hadrian and Hermione sped up to reach him at the gate.

It was unsightly for a pureblood, but the trio didn’t care, tugging each other into a hug and laughing. Ron stepped on Hadrian’s foot, so he elbowed him in the gut, Hermione scolding them both as the hug turns into a grappling match. She jabbed her wand into Hadrian’s side and managed to wiggle out of the tussle, hair mussed up and not helped by the winter wind.

“Children, the both of you!” She cried, patting her hair before remembering she could spell it back. Hadrian and Ron laughed at her, leaning against each other.

“Yes, but you love us anyway.” Hadrian teased and watched her flush. Hm, that was a bit different. Not enough to care, however, and he turned back to Ron.

“Did you get our gifts?” He asked, and that ginger mop bobbed.

“Course, thanks, guys. They were great. And you got mine?”

“It was lovely,” Hermione confirmed, fingering the clip in her hair. Hadrian was sure she was just enjoying the novelty of not getting a book for once.

“It was awesome, thank you.” Hadrian agreed, and they began their trek up to the castle through the heavy snow.

“We’re sorry again for leaving you this holiday, it wasn’t very fun without you.” Hadrian apologized for the millionth time, still feeling guilty. Ron just laughed, waving them off.

“It was nice to have some quiet for a change, I’ve had enough busy holidays and loud chatter for a lifetime. Besides, this was really vital to our plans. This cause is just as important to me as you guys, alright?”

Ron’s eyes were deadly serious, reminding Hadrian of giant chess pieces and young blood-stained hands. Ron had always been stubborn, reliable. He made up his mind and he didn’t change it easily. Hadrian smiled up at him, sharing the moment of understanding.

“As long as you’re sure. We would have stayed behind if you really hadn’t been okay with it, you know?” Hermione said, something Hadrian was sure was hard for her. Ron and Hermione had not been getting along lately, and it was starting to worry Hadrian just a little.

“I told you, stop worrying. I spent the time being just as productive as you. In fact, I figured out our next steps.”

They entered the castle, the warming charms chasing the chill from their fingertips and noses. Hermione cast a privacy spell over them, all three heading towards the Room of Requirement without pause. Hadrian gazed curiously at Ron, who continued once the spell was cast.

“You know how we’ve been unsure how we spread our message? Well, I realized that before we can control them we need them to trust us. And to trust us, we need to get their attention.”

“And?” Hermione asked, opening the door for them. They all sat down in front of the fire, unwrapping scarves and shrugging out of coats.

“How did Riddle get them? He was a muggle-born, a dick, and poor. No one should have ever listened to him. But he was powerful and smart, and apparently he’s handsome or whatever.”

“Get to the point,” Hadrian said, but he was amused at the gleam in Ron’s eyes. Which were promptly rolled, Ron continuing his explanation and waving his hands around.

“Yes, my Lord. Anyway, Hadrian’s all those things too, but he keeps to himself. Riddle is a prefect, and well known around the school. He’s got the attention, he’s got the voice, he’s got the trust. And therefore he has the masses. So what we need to do is get you the attention.”

Hadrian raised an eyebrow. “You mean I need to become popular.”

“Yeah! I mean, it worked for you before. Every student was looking at you, mate, and they were ready to follow your lead. If there hadn’t been the propaganda against the dark, and all the tension from Voldemort, you could have easily turned them all to our goals.”

“He has a point.” Hermione chimed in, looking deep in thought. She snatched parchment and a quill from the table, beginning to write. “We’ll never get you back to that popularity, but we could imitate some of it, and as long as we can get up near Riddle’s popularity we should be able to pose a genuine threat. Of course, most of the Slytherins are already allied to him, but there are those who aren’t, particularly the women, and if we can get the other houses thinking about our politics we could gather quite the following. Gryffindors are mostly a lost cause, but Hufflepuffs can be scared into realizing the threat we’re facing, and if we can get a handful of them most of the rest will follow..” Hermione fell into mumbles, quill speeding across the page. 

“But how do I become popular? I’m a Slytherin with no reputation to my name.” He leaned forward, bracing himself on his knees as he read the upside-down writing. Hermione pushed his forehead back with her finger, not looking up. He huffed a laugh.

“I’m already on top of it,” Ron said proudly, and Hadrian looked back at him. “You’re going to join the Quidditch team as Slytherin’s seeker, leading the team to victory and gaining the support of Quidditch fans all over.”

“That did boost my standing last time, but there’s the problem of the current seeker.”

Ron lounged back against the chair, looking like a cat who got the cream. “I already took care of it. Traver’s had an accident over break and won’t be waking up from his coma for quite some time. Certainly not before the next game.”

Hadrian grinned, clapping Ron on the knee. There was a moment of celebration before they moved on to more debriefing and planning, Hermione discussing some of the information and gossip she learned from Lucretia, Walburga, and Lady Black. Hadrian shared what had happened on the night of the ball, leaving out anything that had happened in the hallway. Hadrian was honest with his friends, but Tom Riddle had always been the exception. He knew what he had done was foolish, and it created complications. He didn’t want to get scolded, not when it was already punishing him.

Plus, this was one thing Hadrian wanted for himself. Something secret, something he could enjoy without anyone knowing. Even as the memory made him sick, emotions swelling to an unbearable level, there was something so pleasant about it. It had been...amazing.

“I’ll finish researching the bonding ritual, and then I’ll get the list to you,” Hermione said curtly, and Hadrian tuned back in to find them arguing once more. He rolled his eyes and stood, gathering his things.

“It’s getting late, I think we should head back.” He broke in, and lead them silently back to their dorms. It was a relief, getting out from the tension between his best friends, but stepping into his room he found an even more hostile environment. 

Oh, that’s right. He had almost forgotten he shared a room with his opposition. He was shot glares from Lestrange, as well as Warrington and Nott who appeared to be visiting Lestrange. He noted that Nott’s glare was halfhearted, and wondered if that was due to his infatuation with Hermione. He looked at the three of them blankly, and they had turned around just as quickly, intent on ignoring him it seemed. 

Curiously, Rosier didn’t even look up from his book where he lounged on his bed, though Hadrian didn’t know if it was just him ignoring him, or if he was not following the others in their behavior. A hex comes at him from behind but he deflected it absentmindedly.

Riddle, thankfully, wasn’t in the room, and Hadrian took the opportunity to change quickly before hiding away, sure that he couldn’t handle seeing the handsome face of the person who had singlehandedly ruined him. The teen who had kissed him so passionately against a wall.

Laying in bed, he pressed his fingers to his lips and pondered how many times Riddle was going to steal his breath. Though this was the first time it wasn’t pain, his chest hurt every time he remembered it.

Hadrian groaned at his train of thought and rolled over, burying his face in the pillow. He was so stupid.

 


 

“I heard Riddle stayed at the Black estate over the break.” Isadora pried, sitting primly on Hermione’s bed, hands braiding her long black hair. Camilla laid on her stomach next to her, Hermione’s pillow under her cheek where she clutched it. They both watched Hermione unpack, firing off questions rapidly. It was sweet, though Hermione still wasn’t used to talking to other girls. 

“He stayed with Lucretia and her family, he’s friends with Orion. We didn’t see him other than at the Ball.” Hermione watched Isadora frown, and nearly grimaced when she realized why.

“Is it true that he and Hadrian danced at the Ball?” Camilla pressed.

“It’s all that’s being talked about, every pureblood is in a tizzy over the scandal,” Isadora added on, perking back up. Hermione fought a scowl, well aware of the gossip already making its way through the students.

“They danced, yes.” She answered, just as vaguely as she had answered all of their other questions. 

“So it’s true then? Hadrian and Riddle are together?” Isadora looked nearly crestfallen under her stoic features, her shoulders slumping slightly.

“Together? Merlin no, where are you getting that from?”She blurted out, nearly laughing at the thought. Those two would never get along, had barely gotten along when Riddle had been a diary memory and Hadrian had been a child. 

“Well, they caused a giant scandal over one dance.” Isadora pointed out, but Hermione was drawn to Camilla’s gaze, which was unusually clear and sharp.

“And Hadrian is gay, isn’t he?” Oh, it was about this again. A sigh was caught in her throat.

“Yes, he even declared to Lord Black his intentions of never marrying a woman, just as I’ve said before. But he isn’t dating Riddle.” She said firmly, hoping to ease both girls' curiosity. It was obvious with each of their questions what they wanted to know, no subtly at all. Honestly.

Her roommates both eased, and Isadora moved off of her bed, fixing her robes.

“I knew the rumors were false, but it’s nice to know for sure. Now I have a meeting to make, if you’ll excuse me.” She moved to grab her heels up, brushing her hand against Camilla’s shoulder on the way.

Hermione watched her eyes glaze over, arm shooting out to wrap around Isadora’s wrist.

“Wear your other heels.” She said breathily, eyes blinking rapidly as if to clear the fog from them. Isadora hesitated for a moment before nodding, extracting herself from Camilla’s grip.

“All right.” She agreed easily, moving instead to her closet. She put on her brown heels without question, despite the fact that they didn’t quite match, and headed out the door.

Camilla must have seen something, she knew that much, but to have Isadora trust her automatically…

“Does she know?”

Camilla shook her head. “Not in any specific terms, and not for certain either, unlike you. She’s just learned to listen to me when I give her advice, bad things happen sometimes when she ignores me.”

“So you see her often. Do you mean to, is it on purpose?” Hermione pried, not even bothering to use her magic. Camilla would answer, she could feel it in her bones. Camilla pushed herself up into a sitting position, still clutching Hermione’s pillow to her chest. Hermione sat at the edge of the bed, watching her closely.

“No, I can’t control the visions. They just come to me, whenever they feel like.” Camilla looked odd with the resigned but frustrated look. She was always so airy, so bright. “They are almost always initiated by touch, but I can’t force it. I saw so many awful things as a child, I stopped touching people all together until...my uncle died. And I couldn’t be certain I couldn’t have prevented it, if I had only allowed the visions to come..”

Her eyes watered, and it was uncomfortable. Hermione had only seen a girl cry a handful of times, and even less had she been the only one around to comfort her. Emotions like this were messy, and she didn’t understand why Camilla was spilling everything to her without any magic prompting. She reached forward to grasp her knee, like she had seen others do before, but paused right above it. Oh right, the visions. Best ask permission first.

Camilla didn’t even let Hermione open her mouth, grasping her hand in her own. Oh, all right then.

“It must be awful, to see such things. Does anyone else know?”

A head shake. 

“And how does it work? Is it only precognition? What you saw when you touched me was both past and future, you understand.”

“I’m aware.” There was a heavy pause, as both of them sat in the knowledge that Camilla had witnessed the murder of her granddaughter, and would have to live with the knowledge for the rest of her life. Hermione felt a rare bought of nervousness over what Camilla would do with the knowledge, but it was small and brief. She wouldn’t hesitate to deal with the girl if need be.

“I promised myself I wouldn’t let the visions affect me, or who I interacted with, especially ones I couldn’t stop. I find it very hard to do that, this time.” Camilla said tightly.

“I understand,” Hermione said dutifully. 

“I’m managing, though. A very large part of me hates you for what you’ll do, Hermione Black, and wants to forcibly stop you.” There was a darkness in her eyes, reminded Hermione that the sweet girl in front of her was still from a dark family. But the glint didn’t last long, fading back into the dreamy glint that was so familiar. “But I know I can’t. The things you and yours will do, they are marvelous. I find myself in awe of it, the terrific and the terrible.”

“You’ve seen our future, the one from this timeline?” Hermione demanded to know, leaning in. The slow smile and slower nod only fueled her curiosity, a burning need that she’s all too familiar with. She had to forcibly stop herself from snatching Camilla’s head into her grip and digging in her nails until she drained every vision from her small mind. “What have you seen?” She asked, low and secretive. Her Lord would be over the moon if she could manage to bring him a reliable seer for their army, to her knowledge no other Dark Lord had managed the feat.

Camilla gave her a smile she couldn’t read and shook her head. “Nothing concrete, nothing yet. Nothing I can tell you that will help. I know you want me to serve him, and I know I will.”

“But,” She said, the seriousness nearly displacing the fog in her eyes. “I will be a consultant, nothing more. I was not made to be a soldier, I am not made to fight a war. Only guide it.”

Hermione smiled, sweet and polite, even as her eyes flickered with triumph. “I promise you’ll never see any fighting.”

“Then I vow myself to our Lord.”

 


 

Hadrian finds himself in a sick mimicry of his second year, whispers and rumors following him everywhere he walked. Instead of fear, however, there was the same ridicule and hatred from just the year prior, hexes and jinxes flung at his back as he went from class to class, students refusing to utter a word to him even as they muttered behind his back. 

He was well used to it, by now, and was able to navigate the spells and the gossip with ease. It helped that he wasn’t the only one suffering the treatment, for the first time.

Outside of his inner circle, Riddle was treated exactly like Hadrian was, and though his mask never slipped Hadrian knew he was frustrated beyond words at his fall from social grace. It wouldn’t last long, but Hadrian enjoyed it while it lasted, even shooting a few of his own hexes when no one could see.

The gossip wasn’t helped by his and Riddle’s utter refusal to even look at each other, but he beyond his few jinxes Hadrian was pretending the boy didn’t even exist. Anything to avoid the suffocating feeling in his chest, too many emotions to untangle and the taste of smoke in his mouth. 

“Black.” Winkey Crocket stood in front of him, stopping him on his way to lunch. He blinked slowly at the unexpected roadblock and raised a brow.

“Crocket. What do I owe this pleasure?” The captain looked seconds from scowling but managed to keep his face blank.

“Despite your current social standing, Belinda insists you’re a prime seeker. I find myself in desperate need of one, to the point where I’m willing to speak with you. You’ll try out in one hour, don’t be late.” Crocket demanded, lips briefly twisting before he stalked off, not waiting to hear anything from him. Hadrian was a little off-kilter from how different Crocket had been from their first conversation, but he was well used to the fickle ways of his peers.

He was also used to the hot irritation at such disrespect, but he shook it off and continued on his way. He was getting what he needed, in the end.

 

It’s odd, being dressed for flying again. The weight of his broom, while not exactly like his old one, was familiar and soothing even as he trekked through the snow to the pitch. The entire Slytherin team waited for him, no other students in sight, and he was reminded suddenly that he had never tried out for Quidditch before. He had just always had a spot. He only had faint recollections of how tryouts went, but in this peculiar instance, he had no idea what to expect.

Apparently, it wasn’t much.

“Catch it in under an hour, your in. A second more, your out.” Crocket said simply, holding the snitch up, the gold glinting in the dim light from the winter sun. He was caught off guard with how simple that was, wondering how desperate they were. “Snitch gets a minute head start, starting now.”

The rest of the team silently turned to head over to the bleachers, murmuring among themselves. Crocket released the snitch with no fanfare, and Hadrian wondered if this behavior was because of his current social standing or if the Slytherin’s were always like this. Maybe he was too used to Gryffindor’s spectacles.

Belinda gave him a hard stare, the last one standing out in the snow with him besides Crocket, who was staring at the numbers sprouting from his wand. “Don’t make a fool of me, Black, or you’ll regret it.” She warned him.

“5..4..3..2..”

Hadrian just gave her a cocky grin and pushed off from the ground the minute the countdown ended, feeling the brisk wind bite his face as he took to the sky. The feeling of weightlessness was like a drug, the wind thrumming through his veins and calming the itch that had been building the longer he stayed away from the sky. Merlin, he loved to fly, and he took a moment to loop lazily through the sky, self-indulgent. 

But he was on a mission, and his eyes were soon darting around the stands, searching for the glint that was so familiar to him. He drew patterns across the sky as the minutes ticked by, everything a dull roar to his ears, faded away. This was what he was good at, and he missed it more than he had realized. If he wasn’t so set on being a Dark Lord, maybe he would have become a respectable Quidditch player, he laughed to himself.

After what felt like ages, he shot off without hesitation, rocketing through the sky after the brief glimpse he had seen from the corner of his eye. There was no build-up, one moment he was lazily hovering and the next he was pressed tight to his broom, face set like stone, following the loops and zags of the snitch like he was its shadow, not a second thought to what he was doing.

He didn’t think, mind blissfully blank for the minute it took to close the gap and reach out, plucking it from the sky. He couldn’t feel the frozen metal through his gloves but the phantom chill was pressed to his skin anyway as his hand wrapped around the familiar shape, fluttering wings halting in surrender.

He slowed to a stop, breathing faster than usual, cheeks bright red from the harsh wind and eyes glowing with adrenaline. He let out a loud laugh and descended, hitting the ground gracefully.

Crocket was waiting for him, blinking in surprise, and after a moment Hadrian could hear clapping from the stands. 

“Well?” He asked, even though he knew the answer. Satisfaction curled through him, warming him as the exhilaration ebbed. 

“Fifteen minutes.” Crocket answered, looking vaguely impressed, “Welcome to the team, Black.”

 

Gryffindor would have gathered around him, cheering and making a ruckus, but Slytherin simply came over, shook his hand, and left the field. The only exception was Belinda, who gave him a solid whack on the back that almost had him stumbling.

“Good job, Hadrian. You really weren’t lying about your skills.” She sounded like that was a surprise, and he chuckled. “See you at dinner then.”

Then he was alone on the field, heart still pumping and sky still calling to him. He was considering taking back off for a little while when he noticed that Rosier was still standing there, watching him.

“You were good out there, might be the best seeker Slytherin’s had in years.” He grinned, but Hadrian just watched him, wary.

Rosier noticed, but just ambled up to him. “Don’t be like that. Look, I know we are on opposite sides here, but we’re also teammates. I think we can manage to be friendly, don’t you?”

If he though Hadrian was going to trust him, he had another thing coming. But he supposed he could be friendly, Rosier had always been a good conversationalist in the past. If either of them were normal teens, he bet they could have even been friends.

“Sure, Rosier. We can be friendly.” He agreed, starting the trek back up to the castle. 

“Call me Matthew. I insist.” He fell into line with Hadrian, who gave him a look out of the corner of his eye. 

“Hadrian, then.” He offered in turn. Matthew gave him a bright smile, before turning to look ahead again.

“Did you complete the essay for Herbology?”

Hadrian groaned, rolling his eyes. “Of course. Why anyone needs 6 feet on a plant I’ll never know.”

Matthew laughed and they fell into easy conversation for the walk. Hadrian found himself enjoying it more than he expected, relaxing and teasing Matthew back, laughing even. Then again, he had always been his favorite of Riddle’s lackies. A shame that he would never join Hadrian’s circle.

At the castle, they turned to separate, but Hadrian found his wrist gripped tight. Matthew leaned in just slightly, smiling mischievously.

“By the way, I never did tell you how green your eyes look without those frames in the way.” Their eyes met and held, Hadrian’s face slack in surprise. “I like it.”

His wrist was released and the boy took off as if nothing had happened, but Hadrian was left with a red in his cheeks he couldn’t blame on the cold, feeling uncomfortably off balance.