vendredi 7 décembre 2012

ExcentrykeMuse - [Enchantment Series -4] Book of Hours

Title: Book of Hours. Enchantment Series.

Author: ExcentrykeMuse

Pairing: Harry/James Sirius

Warning: Unintentional incest. Illegitimacy.

Summary: Jamie never knew who was his father was, and knew that his mother, Ginny Weasley, had given him away to her brother George. When a stranger enters his life, causing time itself to murmur to him and slow almost completely, all thoughts are wiped from his mind and he falls in love at first sight. Based on the legend of 'Cupid and Pysche.' EWE. Harry/James Sirius.

Book of Hours

Fourth in the Enchantment Series

Part the First

The whistle blew in the cold December air and Jamie looked out the window at all the waiting parents and families, their faces blurry and indistinguishable in the frosting breeze. His eyes searched for familiar features, the upturn of a pretty nose, the falling tresses of ginger hair, deep brown eyes that looked so much like his own and yet not at all.

His friends laughed around him, his little sister Roxanne giggling with her best friend Harriet, and he knew even without looking that they were staring at him. "Ask him," he heard Roxie whisper. "I'm sure he'll say 'yes.' You're so pretty."

"But shouldn't he have felt it?" Harriet murmured back. "The sting of cupid's bow? I read all about it for History of Magic."

"Maybe he's not listening?" Roxie suggested back. "The legends say if you don't listen to the chime of a clock when cupid first strikes, you won't know you're in love."

Jamie rolled his eyes. Sometimes he wished his sister's friends would fancy his brother Fred instead.

He remembered when he was five and first noticed that he looked nothing like his siblings or their mother. At the time he believed it was magic, but now, he thought bitterly, he knew that wasn't the reason.

"She here?" the soft lilt of Fred's voice whispered in his ear and he shivered slightly at the sensation.

"No," he responded, shaking his head a little. "I don't see Aunt Ginny."

A hand wrapped around his shoulder but Jamie didn't turn. "She'll be here. It was your birthday last month after all."

Jamie shrugged. He always hopped his aunt would come like she said she would in her short owls, but he rarely expected her to anymore. It led to far too much disappointment.

G. Weasley, a national Quidditch star. Ginevra, the sometimes model. Ginevra Weasley, his legal aunt. Ginny, the woman who gave birth to him and now could barely stand the sight of him.

He sighed out, feeling once again as if he had dropped into a haunting dream, not quite a nightmare but still unbearable to live. He'd asked his dad when he was nine why his aunt disliked him so much, and his father had looked pained before explaining. Ginny never wanted children and no one was quite certain who his father was. It could be anyone—a Muggle, another Quidditch player, a married pureblood. She never did say.

She had come to her older brother George Weasley and his wife when she was three months pregnant, telling them that they would either take the child or she'd get rid of it. Jamie had heard whispers years later, which he could then understand, that that was why his dad and birth mother had fallen out. Angelina Weasley couldn't bear the thought of not wanting a child, and had taken him in gladly and raised him with her son who was only a few months older.

Jamie shook himself from his thoughts, the blurred faces becoming even more indistinct as the cold air blurred the warm glass of the train compartment.

"Come on," Fred said. "Time to go."

Standing up, Jamie grabbed his trunk and made his way out of the compartment.

"Hey, Jamie," Harriet said as she passed him and he merely nodded.

An arm snaked through his in comfort and Jamie looked up to see his brother Fred smiling down at him. "If only she knew. . ." he teased and Jamie couldn't help but chuckle slightly. "It would break her little fourth-year heart."

"You wouldn't tell. . ." Jamie bit his lip in worry, but released it when Fred squeezed his arm. He looked down at the mocha colored hand that rested against his blue knit shirt.

"Course not. We're brothers," Fred reassured him before leaning his head slightly against Jamie's. "Practically twins."

"And yet you're a seventh year," Jamie griped.

"What can I say? I was born in August, you in October. I just made the cut when you-er-didn't."

"So kind," Jamie half-mocked as they stepped out onto platform nine and three-quarters, looking about for his aunt but not seeing her anywhere in the crush. The sight of his Uncle Percy caught his eye, as well as his Aunt Hermione and Uncle Ron. Grandma often said they were a match made from deep magic, but from the stories he heard about when they were younger, it appeared that they hadn't heard the whispered ring of love's call, pulling them together, if it was ever there at all. Part of him somehow doubted it. He sighed as he watched his aunt, who was now enthusiastically hugging her eldest daughter, Rose. Rose the Ravenclaw. She was the only Weasley who hadn't been sorted into Gryffindor.

"Malfoy's looking at you," Fred whispered in Jamie's ear and his head snapped around, looking in the direction his brother was staring.

He blushed slightly, his eyes resting on the Malfoy heir who was a year below him and in Ravenclaw with his cousin Rose. He gave her a run for her money for grades and much to his Uncle Ron's disappointment, he came first in nearly every class while Rose usually trailed at third or fourth.

Grey eyes met hazel and held, until Malfoy's attention was called away by his mother.

"I think he fancies you," Fred commented casually, and Jamie blushed some more.

He really wished he didn't blush. It clashed with his deep auburn hair, which must have come from his father as his mother's waves were a flaming red.

"Malfoys don't like Weasleys—or half-bloods," Jamie noted sadly and he felt Fred squeeze his arm again.

"Don't' say that," he murmured, not caring that their parents were waiting for him, "and it could be the old magic."

Jamie looked at him incredulously.

"And Aunt Ginny goes for the best—you're probably a pureblood. My bet's on Flint."

Jamie looked at him startled. "The member of the Wizengamot? The one who's married to—to—someone," he finished lamely.

Fred nodded. "He's a fan. There have been pictures of him in the Prophet attending Aunt Ginny's games—and his hair is the same color as yours."

He considered it a moment, before shaking his head, not really wanting to think about it. Whoever his father was, he obviously didn't want him or know about him, although his birth had been a bit of a scandal as Angelina clearly had just given birth to Fred and he looked nothing like his mother who was a dark-skinned beauty.

"You're also the most powerful wizard at Hogwarts—have been for years. I heard Professor Longbottom say that he hadn't seen anyone with your magical potential since Harry Potter came through—before he left the country."

Jamie looked at him, startled. "Really?"

Fred nodded. "Professor Longbottom was friends with him, along with Mum and Dad. Same year, I think. Aunt 'Mione talked about it once when she was tipsy."

Jamie turned away, looking through the crowd, still trying to find his wayward aunt, who still hadn't made an appearance. The family rarely spoke about Harry Potter, and everything they said was tantalizing and mysterious.

He knew that Potter had been his aunt and uncle's best friend and had even briefly dated his biological mother when they were at Hogwarts. He'd defeated Voldemort and then had trained to become an Auror. One day about a year before he was born, Potter had just left the country without a word to anyone. All owls were returned unopened and eventually the Weasley clan had just given up hope. His dad still talked about him fondly, mentioning how he gave him and Uncle Fred the one thousand galleons that started up Weasley's Wizard Wheezes. Uncle Ron wouldn't even speak his name and Aunt Hermione only mentioned him every few years.

Grandmother, he remembered, once lamented when he was thirteen that Potter would have been the perfect stepfather and how she had always wanted him as a son-in-law. Once, when he was sleeping over her house, his grandmother had told him a story of a little cupid who had wandered onto the platform and whispered to both Potter and Ginny with the tick tock of the platform clock, though the hushed voices had slowly quieted to silence years before. She meant it to be a love story, a comfort rooted in old pureblood traditions that not even 'blood traitors' forgot, but he found it hollow and false, and knew that a decent wizard could never love a mother who almost ended Jamie's life because she was inconvenienced. His grandmother had looked meaningfully in his direction with a sadness in her eyes that so many of his relatives held while looking at him.

Every few years, Harry Potter would make the front page of The Daily Prophet as he was sighted in Muggle London or even in Hogsmeade, but he never contacted any of his old family. There might be an accompanying blurred photograph, but the articles were full of speculation and could never really be proven or disproven.

Vaguely he heard Fred talking to one of their parents, telling them to go on ahead of him.

"No, go on," he urged Fred. "I'll just wait here. Aunt Ginny's bound to come."

"Are you certain, darling?" his mum asked and he nodded.

"I'll Floo home tonight," he promised and his mum ruffled his hair before leading Fred away.

Jamie sighed before looking around again, pushing his glasses further up his nose before finding a seat and sitting down. Platform nine and three-quarters slowly emptied as Muggles took their children through the barriers while other families used the Floo system or simply side-apparated.

He watched coyly as Malfoy gave him one more lingering look before taking his father's arm, his younger sister taking his mother's, before he and his family were gone.

Jamie smiled to himself. Perhaps Malfoy did like him a little.

Soon he was all alone with only the porter and he watched the station clock as the minute hand slowly moved. He glanced around when a full hour had passed and still there was no sign of his aunt.

He sighed. He knew she wouldn't come—she hated the very sight of him, though she never said it. She would smile at her nieces and nephews on the rare occasions that she'd see them, but only looked through him and insisted on calling him by his full name.

When he asked her once why she had named him "James Sirius" a cold smile had played on her lips, before she gave a simple answer Jamie hadn't understood: Revenge.

He knew that a Sirius Black was a distant cousin, but who James could be was a mystery to him. Jamie had wanted to ask his dad, but had been too afraid to. He didn't like to remind his parents that he wasn't biologically theirs, that he was their nephew technically.

He liked to pretend that it was otherwise. That his hair wasn't auburn but a black like his mother's that his skin didn't freckle and was the beautiful mocha color of his siblings'. He looked like the rest of the Weasley clan but not like his own beloved mum who had wanted him to live and had taken him in and loved him just as much as Fred and Roxanne.

Another hour ticked by slowly and the station grew cold. He was all alone now, but he didn't want to go home, admitting defeat.

He was far too proud for that, which was a bit of a Weasley trait. At least he could count on that.

The clock continued to tick, almost sneaking into his mind with its soft clicking noise, a steady rhythm that reminded him that time sped up and slowed down, almost magically. Another fifteen minutes that seemed like fifteen hours went by, and still nothing.

Jamie ran his hand through his naturally disheveled hair and bit his bottom lip in worry. He secretly wished he had his own stash of Floo Powder. He knew that soon he'd have to venture out into cold Muggle London and somehow make his way to the Leaky Cauldron to get home, or illegally Apparate. His dad would applaud him but Mum would shake her head before scolding him gently.

A whoosh of air filled with whispers and the ticking of time, almost as if it were being forcefully displaced, rang through the magical platform and Jamie looked up and was startled to see that a wizard about his parent's age had just come through the barrier from the Muggle world.

His eyes widened slightly as he took in the charcoal colored robes that were stitched with deep blue thread, shocking green eyes and messy black hair that brushed down to the wizard's shoulder. His breath caught in his chest when he realized the newcomer was staring directly at him.

Pushing his glasses up in his nervousness, Jamie smiled slightly. "Everyone's gone home already," he said quietly, although his voice carried on the crisp winter air.

The stranger looked at him strangely almost as if he didn't understand what Jamie was trying to say. Time almost stilled as they gazed upon one another and the soft rhythmic chimes sounded between them, unintelligible to mortal ears and yet so sweet and soothing. Jamie swallowed reflexively, trying to disperse the soft voices whispering into his ear, mechanical yet ancient. He couldn't understand the soft syllables, but they sent murmurs through his soul, trapping him within the sound of a single second.

"If you're looking for your son or daughter, they're not here," he said quietly, trying to regain his inner balance. "The Hogwarts Express came hours ago."

The stranger nodded slowly, almost as if affected himself although Jamie instinctively knew that only frost-kissed silence lay between them. "You're still here." His voice, a soft baritone, washed over Jamie and he bit his lip again, trying to control the sliver of desire that coursed through him.

Jamie tried to smile. "My aunt is late."

The man hesitated a moment before steadily walking over and taking a seat next to Jamie, his cane clasped in his hand although he didn't use it. It almost reminded of the cane he saw Lucius Malfoy carry in old editions of the Prophet from the Second War.

"I haven't been here for years," the man whispered to himself and Jamie looked over to him, startled. "Not since I was at Hogwarts."

Jamie smiled. "Came to reminisce?"

The stranger started slightly, as if he had forgotten that he had even spoken, and looked over at Jamie, his bright eyes sweeping over his form. "Yes," he answered hesitantly. "I—sometimes I miss it."

Jamie nodded, before turning back to the clock, the faint ticking resonating through his mind. The stranger beside him really was too beautiful, his voice haunting as if he had seen too much of the world. He was British, certainly, but it was almost as if French and perhaps Italian had tinged his speech slightly.

"You could go to Hogwarts," he finally offered, without looking at the stranger. "I know Headmistress Sinistra allows alumni to come back."

"Sinistra's headmistress?" the stranger asked and Jamie only nodded in response. Words weren't needed, only the sound of the clock not-chiming the never-hour.

Near silence settled over them and Jamie could feel the frost-licked air caress his cheek, and held back a shiver.

The stranger let out a cold breath that almost seemed to hover between them, a tantalizing and teasing warmth that was so fleeting it was almost dreamlike.

"Your aunt is terribly late," he remarked at last and Jamie glanced over again.

The stranger wasn't looking at him but instead was staring at the tracks, his cane grasped tightly in his gloved hand.

"I never thought she'd actually come," Jamie finally admitted. "She rarely does."

A rush of air caressed in unheard murmurs and the stranger looked at him appraisingly. "I had an aunt like that. She hated me."

Jamie felt a small smile play at the right corner of his mouth, an odd gesture that must belong to his biological father. "So does mine."

Perceptive green eyes met his and Jamie felt his breath catch again. They were so eerie and yet so beautiful, and he tried to repress any visceral reaction he might have to the stranger. "Why did you wait, then?"

"I—she gave birth to me," Jamie found himself confessing, urged by words he could not comprehend with his mind, but only his soul. "I just wish. . ." He shook his head.

"—that she would love you?" the baritone voice asked, causing Jamie's cheeks to redden slightly. The stranger nodded. "How long have you waited?"

Glancing back at the clock, he answered, "Two and a half hours. It was supposed to be a celebration since I turned seventeen." He turned away again, hating his own emotional weakness. Jamie knew it was ridiculous to even hope that his aunt would cast one pleased or affectionate look upon him, but still he waited, he always waited, although he told himself he would not hope, only to arrive home to Diagon Alley, quietly disappointed.

He could feel the stranger's gaze on him, but didn't turn to meet it.

The cold washed over him before a gloved hand rested gently on his elbow. "When was your birthday?"

Jamie laughed. "All Hallow's Eve," he admitted. "She couldn't—wouldn't—come to Hogsmeade as there was a photo shoot for Witch Weekly that she was being featured in."

"Never read it," the stranger quietly admitted, his haunting voice lightening slightly in jest.

Jamie found himself biting his lip again as he turned to see the stranger's eyes slightly alight, his messy black hair falling into them and down his back. He was truly beautiful, timeless almost. With the way he was dressed and his expensive cane, he looked as if he were a more traditional pureblood caught in the nineteenth century, and yet he had a worldly air about him that hinted that he was very much in the height of fashion in a way his biological mother could only hope to be.

Green eyes met his again and seemed to ponder a question. Just as Jamie was about to look away, the stranger's grip on his elbow tightened and he asked, firmly yet softly, "Would you care to have dinner?"

Jamie's eyes widened. "S-Sorry?"

"Would you care to have dinner as a belated birthday present—from a stranger? I've always spent my birthdays alone, and often wished not to. You may, of course, decline—"

"No," Jamie said quickly, too quickly. "No, dinner sounds lovely."

He quickly looked down at his dark jeans and the collar of his blue sweater that peaked out from under his wool coat.

"I'm-er-not dressed very well."

The stranger shrugged, releasing his cane so that as it fell, he caught the head of it in a fluid movement. "Would a Muggle restaurant suffice? I do not care to be seen in the wizarding world."

Jamie's eyes widened once again as he took in the pureblood costume the stranger wore. He could never blend in with the Muggle world, as far as he knew.

The stranger's pale lips smirked for a moment. "I assure you the Muggles are used to my eccentricities."

He nodded dumbly before following the wizard to the Muggle barrier. "Oh—I'm—" he began to introduce himself before the stranger cut him off.

"Names are just words," he said softly as he smiled back at Jamie. "They create misconceptions, I often find."

Jamie stopped and just stared the stranger, his words sinking down into his mind as the clock ticked onward through the platform. He often felt his name was a curse, though he didn't understand fully why. Malfoy—who now seemed childish compared to the handsome stranger who stood before him—rarely looked at him because of his name and ignored Rose completely, and his given name engendered sadness in his relatives, though he did not understand the reason.

He broke out of his thoughts as a warm arm wrapped around his waist and he found himself in the stranger's partial embrace. Jamie looked up and found the green eyes appraising him, a silent question he couldn't understand, before the stranger led him through the archway into the Muggle station.

"Do you know much of the Muggle world?" The cultured baritone voice slipped through Jamie's senses and he knew that the stranger felt the shiver that had seeped from him at just the sound of it.

"No," Jamie admitted after a long moment. They were now moving through the train station and the stranger was completely ignoring the stares that were directed at his erect form. "My aunt—a different aunt—took me once to Muggle London. She's Muggle-born. Mum was angry as she didn't tell anyone first."

The stranger nodded and they soon were outside, the cold air hitting them as bodies milled around them. "A cab, I think," he murmured before he lifted his cane, one arm still wrapped firmly around Jamie.

He felt his breath hitch as the stranger angled him slightly closer as people jostled Jamie on their way past. He breathed in the stranger's natural scent and tried to withhold a sigh that wanted to escape from his cold lips. He glanced up to see the angular jaw of the stranger's face that was turned away from him.

Jamie knew that he was acting impulsively, that he shouldn't trust someone he didn't know, especially considering how he was now being held, but he couldn't find it in himself to care. He'd always felt somehow out of place among the Weasleys, although he knew his parents loved him deeply, but he always desperately craved the affection and approval his biological mother would never give him. He always felt that he was hiding somehow in plain sight, an open secret that everyone knew but no one talked about, but now—now for perhaps the first time—he was simply himself, with no expectations, just a young wizard without a name celebrating his birthday with a handsome man.

Briefly he wondered if he was under some form of rare enchantment he had never heard about.

A vehicle pulled up and the stranger smiled down at the content look on his face, before ushering him inside, his arm never leaving Jamie's waist.

Jamie didn't listen as the stranger spoke to the driver, instead glancing out the window and leaning against the warm body that kept away the cold.

Emotions washed through him in waves, causing him to shiver again, and he smiled when he felt the stranger pull him closer.

The taxi began to move.

"Is this all right? I wouldn't want to presume—" the stranger murmured hesitantly and Jamie looked up, startled, at the green eyes that were so expressive.

"I—" He sighed and bit his lower lip. He reached up slowly and caressed the stranger's cheek, watching his expression closely. Despite the artificial heat of the cab, they were surrounded by cold, the frost on the window and the falling snow outside only heightening the ethereal moment. Jamie could feel his skin shiver in the cold, their icy breath mingling between them as it swirled in a cold mist, so strange—so other.

A thought shivered through him and Jamie felt himself tense slightly before forcing himself to relax, an old pureblood legend that he remembered his mum telling him when he was younger—there was a deep magic that was bound tightly to the earth tand would occasionally take flight and implant itself in human hearts, causing them to love and adore without question.

It existed before time and could sometimes be heard whispering through the tolling of a clock or the passing of the hour.

Muggles called the deep magic "cupid" and dressed it up as a cherub or god with wings, carrying a bow and shooting arrows through mortal hearts to force them to love where it may not be wanted.

Now they described it as the elusive "love at first sight."

They could not recognize it for what it was, and were rarely touched by it, even less so than wizards.

He had believed it was just a story, an ancient legend, but now, as their cold breaths panted from their beating hearts, Jamie wondered if there was some form of truth in the words.

The tick of a clock, perhaps from a watch, reverberated through the cold air and Jamie felt himself shiver once again, his bare fingers still pressing against the stranger's skin.

"Do you feel it?" The stranger spoke softly, his green eyes never leaving Jamie's, almost as if he knew exactly what Jamie was contemplating. "The hushed voices surrounding every second, hidden within a moment."

"I—" Jamie began before pausing and forcing himself to consider his words carefully. He listened and felt time move slowly, the same slight sound slithering through his thoughts, caressing them almost like a human whisper. "I thought it a myth, a bedtime story."

"So did I, but I've thought that of so many things throughout my life." The stranger paused, wonder in his unceasing gaze. "I don't even know your name."

"I thought you didn't want to," Jamie murmured back.

The stranger glanced down, his long black hair covering his features almost completely from Jamie's sight. His free hand grasped Jamie's and he interwove their fingers together, a quiet gesture of apology, before he looked up again, his fringe parting briefly before quickly falling back into his eyes. "I was mistaken."

Jamie nodded, and he leaned closer into the cold touch of this unknown wizard, who captured his entire attention. "James," he found himself whispering, giving his full name that no one ever used. "My name is James."

The stranger hesitated a moment before frozen lips pressed against Jamie's, a sigh escaping between them until they parted a moment later.

The stranger leaned into the touch and Jamie felt himself smile. His hand lingered for a moment before he withdrew it and looked back out the window.

The arm around his waist tightened and Jamie found himself smiling to himself once again.

If this was an enchantment, he found he never wanted it to be lifted.

Part the Second

Jamie woke with a start on Christmas morning and pressed his hand to his tingling lips. He glanced beside him to only see the empty bed and sighed before going to the slightly open window and closing it. He knew he could close it with his wand, but he found that he wanted to be closer to the stranger—whose name he still didn't know—and the window was the nearest he could come at that moment.

He was being reckless—he knew he was. Ever since the short ride to his birthday dinner, he was acting purely on instincts and want. He was behaving irrationally, even for a Weasley though the entire clan often defied logic, but he couldn't help himself.

For once he didn't have to unconsciously pretend to be anyone but himself, the bastard son of a witch who didn't want anything to do with him. In relative anonymity in his stranger's arms, he could whisper childhood secrets and know that they were treasured, although he still didn't know the other wizard's name.

He was James—just James—and the way the wizard huskily murmured his name before leaving at the break of dawn sent coils of pleasure through him.

It had only been four days—less than that, even, three and a half—yet Jamie found that the stranger had claimed his aching heart so completely that Jamie already dreaded returning to Hogwarts where the stranger could not follow, despite his apparent wealth and almost Weasley ability to sneak into a ward protected home on Jamie's quiet invitation.

Whenever the stranger was near him, the air would go suddenly cold like the frost in which they had first met, time slowing until the quiet chime of the minutes spread out into eternity, bringing them closer to one another.

A knock on the door pulled him from his thoughts, and Jamie hurried over quickly, unlocking it.

"You never lock the door," Fred said by way of a Christmas greeting before eyeing him speculatively.

Jamie didn't answer but instead looked away, biting his lip. His pillow still held the imprint of two heads, and he hoped that Fred wouldn't notice it. When he glanced back, Fred was still looking at him, a question in his dark eyes.

"What's changed? What's happened, Jamie?" he murmured, barely a whisper.

"I—" Jamie began, but he couldn't quite speak the words, and turned away again. A glitter of red caught his eye and his eyes alighted on a small wrapped package on his dresser. The ghost of a smile flitted across his features and he reached for it, thinking only of his stranger.

Fred moved up behind him and snuck his warm hands around Jamie's waist. "Gryffindor colors," he remarked quietly. "I wonder who it's from."

When Jamie hesitated, he tightened his arms in encouragement.

"Come on, open it."

Hesitantly, Jamie pulled at the gold bow, and let it fall away to the floor. The paper crinkled in his hands as it soon followed, the clock on the wall almost silent as time watched him, and carefully he opened the small box in his hand to reveal a beautiful ring.

Gasping, Jamie reflexively dropped it only to have Fred lean forward and grab the box before it clattered to the floor. Fred held it up to his hands and examined the platinum band and the Roman numerals etched on it, representing the hours of the day in increments of three, the large six and twelve highlighted in small diamonds.

Jamie couldn't take his eyes off of it, and started when Fred finally spoke.

"I think I saw a note flutter out." Fred quickly dropped to the ground and picked up a small piece of paper that had messy writing on it that to Jamie seemed so opposed to the sophisticated stranger. "Marry me," Fred whispered, reading the note, and he looked up confused at his brother. "It says, 'Marry me.'"

Jamie nodded hesitantly before reaching for the ring and caressing it lightly. "He wants to marry me," he said in wonder before looking up into Fred's dark eyes.

"Who wants to marry you, Jamie?"

He shook his head and was about to pull away, when Fred strengthened his grasp, the ring held between them.

"Who, Jamie?" he demanded, a look of hurt passing over his eyes. A warm hand reached up and stroked away the ice-cold tears Jamie didn't even know he was crying, and he sighed into the silent room. "Why didn't you tell me?"

Jamie shook his head before burying his face in his brother's shoulder, allowing his emotions to just wash over him. He could feel Fred carefully put the ring down, but Jamie reached for it and, with a quick look at Fred, slipped it onto his left hand where it resized itself naturally to his third finger.

A shiver of cold swept through him as the metal kissed his hand, but Jamie could not bring himself to mind and instead stared down in awe at his hand.

"Who is it, Jamie?"

"Y-You don't know him," he admitted quietly. "No one in the family does."

Fred tensed but nodded slowly before leading Jamie to the bed. "Are you sure that's—wise? You're barely seventeen."

He shrugged. "I know, but—it was like in the stories, Fred. Time whispered and grew cold. I—it was as Grandmother says it was for Aunt Ginny and Harry Potter, except I really felt it and, if the deep magic had touched them, there is no way she could have dated all those men or no possible way he could have left her. It's not—possible. It's too strong, too powerful, too wonderful." He looked up, seeking Fred's understanding, but only saw confusion on his face.

"That's not possible," Fred finally said. "It doesn't exist. It's a story, as ridiculous as the Muggle belief in cupid."

"It's not," Jamie persisted, grasping his brother's hand and feeling the smooth ring press against his finger.

Fred looked at him frantically, searching for something in his gaze, but turned away when he seemed to find nothing. "Who is he then? You haven't told me."

"I—" Jamie began but at the hardness in Fred's eyes, shut his own. "It does not matter if you do not believe me." He stood up to leave, but Fred grasped him again, fidgeting slightly.

"How long have you known him at least?"

"Three and a half days," he murmured and Fred started, dropping his hand in shock.

"How—?"

"She never came, of course," he said sadly. "He came instead."

Christmas every year was celebrated at the Burrow, his grandmother serving as matriarch over the entire clan. Their parents had noticed Fred and Jamie's frosty behavior to each other, and now after Christmas dinner, Jamie found himself curled up in a corner of the living room, staring into the enchanted fire and watching time tick slowly by, wishing he could return home and into the stranger's arms.

Aunt Ginny had yet to make an appearance.

"'Ave you 'eard?" his Aunt Fleur whispered to Aunt Audrey, just loud enough for Jamie to hear as he traced the glittering numbers on his engagement ring. "Zey say 'ee 'as been spotted back een Eengland."

"I know. Poor Ginny. Of course, I heard Percy argue with her once, years ago before Little Molly was born—something about a love potion."

Aunt Fleur flicked her silver hair behind her shoulder and looked astonished. "I deed not theenk Ginevre would do such a thing!"

"I never knew her when she was in school, of course, but they say she was desperately in love with him."

Fleur shrugged. "Zat eez because 'ee eez a celebrity. Weetches more clever zan 'er 'ave failed to trap 'im, my seester eencluded."

Jamie sighed. They were talking about Harry Potter, then. For a man who didn't even live in England and hadn't contacted the Weasley clan since before he was born, he still was the most talked about person at parties.

The next morning, when he lay in the stranger's arms, he laughed quietly as he related the story before kissing his fiancé's lips softly, the slow murmur of ticking whispers hushed around them. "She—she's known for always having a lover," he murmured as tendrils of cold slid down his cheek at each touch from the stranger. "I don't even know if my own father is a pureblood or some Muggle she picked up when she was in one of her moods." He bit his lip in worry. "Does that—matter to you?" He fingered the sleeve of the stranger's dark burgundy robe, feeling the expensive fabric between his fingers.

"No. Blood status means nothing to me."

Strong hands reached up into the back of his messy hair and Jamie sighed in contentment, closing his eyes briefly.

"Fred thinks Marcus Flint is my father."

The hands stilled and Jamie opened his eyes with a grin.

"His hair is dark red like mine. One of my aunts was saying, though, how she tried to give a love potion to Harry Potter. Everyone in the family thinks they were meant for each other. I can't remember how many times Grandmother has told me how wonderful of a stepfather he would have been for me, if things had been different." He sighed and snuggled into the stranger's warm embrace, only slightly noticing that he had gone stiff in his arms.

"Is your—your aunt Romilda Vane?" he questioned and Jamie opened his eyes in astonishment.

The stranger's brilliant green eyes looked wary though slightly hopeful, and Jamie couldn't understand the emotions.

He reached up to smooth his black fringe from his eyes, a flicker of scarred skin on his forehead, and shook his head. "No. Who's she?"

Tensing, the stranger drew him closer and kissed the bridge of his nose. "Ginny Weasley?"

Jamie's eyes widened. "Yes. She's my aunt. How did you—?"

Sharp green eyes assessed him frostily, and smooth fingers came up to caress his features. "Just seventeen," he murmured in the half-light. "Just seventeen years old."

He shivered against the cold caresses, their breath mixing together between them. "It doesn't matter, does it?" he whispered worriedly. "You said names—"

"I meant what I said, James," he murmured, time slowing down until it almost did not move at all. They lay wrapped up within one another, eyes gazing lovingly and fingers gently exploring contours in the cold December morning.

The clock ticked in the still morning air, filling their senses as frost formed slowly on the windowpane. "Muggles have strange myths," the stranger began abruptly and Jamie looked up at him, startled. "Cupid, for instance."

"I didn't know that you knew much of Muggles," Jamie whispered softly. "Most wizards don't."

The stranger only nodded, his fierce gaze never leaving Jamie's face. "Muggles raised me after my parents died," he admitted, and Jamie could hear the sadness in his voice. "I knew nothing of magic until my Hogwarts letter."

Jamie pulled him closer, their cold noses almost brushing against each other, their cool skin barely touched by the heated flames that warmed the rest of the room, including the sheets they lay within.

"They speak of Father Time, an old man with a scythe and an hour glass. He and cupid have nothing to do with each other and yet this. . ." His voice trailed off in wonder as he continued to drink in Jamie's form. "Love freezes a single moment so it lasts an eternity."

He snuggled closer to the stranger, and closed his eyes, allowing himself to drift in his happiness, uncaring of the ethereal cold that surrounded him or the sun's rays that announced that it would soon be time to awaken. A rustle of sheets startled him out of his half-dreams and his hazel eyes fluttered open, focusing once again on the stranger whom he loved so dearly.

"I—" the stranger began hesitantly and Jamie reached forward to kiss his lips lovingly. "I might be away for a few days."

Jamie looked at him startled. "You'll come back?"

The stranger hesitated, Jamie's perceptive eyes catching the movement, and he nodded. "I'll always come back," he vowed before leaving through the window, an invisibility cloak swirling around him.

Time slowed completely as whispers filled Jamie's ears, taunting him with gentle silent chimes, as he was now alone.

… … … … … … …

The days passed agonizingly slowly, the ticks of the clocks in the house in Diagon Alley unheard as Jamie waited impatiently to return. Fred noticed his sudden change of mood, the small smiles gone from his lips, but he said nothing.

His mother had noticed his engagement ring and remarked on it, but Jamie had only shrugged. He didn't know what to say about it, and instead ignored his sister Roxie's questions when she asked if he fancied Harriet or her friend Faith.

A few days before the New Year, Jamie was quite surprised when his Aunt Ginny arrived, quite alone, with a copy of The Daily Prophet clutched in her hand. "He's definitely here," she said by way of greeting to her brother George, placing the paper down on the kitchen table.

Jamie didn't bother to look even when she continued, her soft voice grating on his nerves. She never looked at him, spoke to him rarely, and didn't seem to recall that she had missed his birthday celebration.

"Did you know," he said slowly when there was a lull in the conversation, "that a Romilda Vane tried to sneak Harry Potter a love potion at some point?"

His aunt looked up at him, startled, but Jamie refused to meet her questioning gaze.

"But did she actually get him into bed?" a voice murmured, but he blocked it out, not wanting to think of the crime his biological mother had partially just admitted to.

Snow continued to fall over the next few days, but Jamie could not feel the cold that kissed the glass of his window, as he stared out into the night sky. His home was three doors down from his father's shop, specifically sound proofed so that no noise came up from the streets. His windows had been charmed when he was small so no one could see into them, but he always enjoyed watching wizards and witches walk past and children screaming happily when they entered his father's store.

When the New Year approached, he found himself huddled in his room, not wanting to join the festivities of the greater clan at the Burrow. His mum had kissed him, telling him to feel better, and Fred had looked at him pleadingly, but Jamie had only turned away.

The hands of the clock stilled in their enchanted frame and a cold wind licked the sides of Jamie's messy hair, ginger strands falling precariously into his eyes. He looked up, startled, to see the stranger perched on the window frame, staring intently at him.

"James," he whispered along with the now frozen clock, before taking several strides and catching his lips with his own.

Jamie moaned as strong, cold arms wrapped around him, pulling him closer, and he parted his lips as the stranger's tongue asked for entrance. He felt himself drowning in the frost-filled sensations that coursed through his body, the stranger claiming his mouth dominantly and soon found himself lifted and placed reverently on the bed.

"Come away," rough words whispered against his bruised lips as ice-tipped fingers played against his jaw. "Come away tonight, James. Nothing else matters," he bit out, a meaning hidden beneath this words that Jamie's lust filled mind could not comprehend when the stranger looked down at him as if he would disappear into nothing if Jamie refused him. "Nothing else matters but us, and this." He reverently touched the engagement ring that Jamie had refused to remove, even when he went to sleep at night. "Come away, before—"

His green eyes glittered darkly and, in desperation, Jamie arched up and kissed the stranger passionately.

Jamie had never kissed anyone before this wizard had walked into his life, ceasing time itself so that it moved so slowly even the clocks forgot to tick. "I love you," he whispered and cold arms held him closer, hushed murmurs blessing their union.

"Is that a 'yes,' then?" the stranger asked as he broke away, and Jamie smiled before nodding his head.

"How could it be otherwise?" he teased and he saw a flash of emotion in the bright eyes before they frosted over with tenderness.

"True," he sighed, now kissing Jamie gently, almost hesitantly, as if afraid he might break. "I must—ask you something before we wed."

Hands frosted over his cheekbones as the stranger drew away, sitting up on the bed and staring unblinkingly at the clock on the wall. It had been a gift from his Uncle Charlie when he was still small. It was a beautiful piece, too expensive for a child who might break it, a thin serpentine dragon twisting in gold plate as its wings flapped to display the different hours and minutes of each passing day.

Jamie slowly sat up and curled himself around the stranger's arm, gazing up at the side of his face and the soft tresses of black that fell down his back. "You're beautiful," he admitted quietly and the stranger turned to him, confusion written on his features. Jamie smiled. "Men aren't supposed to be beautiful, I know. But you are—to me." He reached up and his fingers tangled themselves in his long black hair and, for the first time since they met, Jamie noticed the small flecks of frosty gray that interwove within the mass.

The stranger reached out to once again caress his cheek, an old scar in the form of words glinting off in the candlelight. "What did I ever do to deserve you?" he wondered aloud before bowing his head slightly to capture Jamie's waiting lips in a kiss. It wasn't desperate or demanding, but instead full of tender affection and amazement that the deep magic touched them.

When they finally pulled apart, Jamie glanced at the clock and saw that time had barely progressed, the dragon watching them silently as frozen words hovered between them, unspoken yet not unheard.

"They'll be home soon," Jamie absently remarked and the stranger nodded.

"I—you must promise me," he hesitated and Jamie looked up into the cold yet beautiful green eyes. "Promise me that you will never go looking for my name."

A rush of whispers assaulted Jamie's senses and he could feel the cool detached tick of time in his mind, taunting him, hushing him, pulling him ever closer. Hesitating, he nodded, not meeting the stranger's eyes. "What should I call you?" He glanced up and noticed the large smile that had blossomed on the stranger's face.

"Thank you," he murmured, cold lips pressing against his again, and Jamie felt himself melting into the touch. "I adore you."

"You're not," Jamie pulled away, "already married?" He bit his lip at the question and watched his fiancé anxiously. "Just—tell me you're not married and that's why—"

"No," he whispered pulling Jamie closer and kissing his lips again and again. "No. I'm not married. I never have been."

Jamie sagged in relief, tension leaving his body, and he clasped tightly to the stranger. "Names are just words," he repeated the words that the stranger had spoken to him so long ago, and yet it had been only a little over a week. "Just words, love."

The stranger smiled again, his breath leaving him and becoming of wisps of mist that surrounded them. "Yes, just words."

He nodded. "She once said she named me for revenge," he confided. "I don't know why. James Sirius."

The stranger tensed before relaxing again. "Yes," he commented. "I knew your birth mother, briefly, at Hogwarts. It was—revenge—but it suits you." His large hands reached behind Jamie's head and angled it so they were looking directly at each other, the cold causing shivers to lazily race down Jamie's spine. "You look nothing like her—your aunt."

"Is that a compliment?" he teased and the stranger smiled thinly.

"Yes."

"She is very beautiful, though not as beautiful as Aunt Fleur or perhaps Aunt Audrey."

"Audrey?" the stranger inquired, clearly content just to look his fill at his young fiancé as the whispers surrounded their minds, freezing their skin, as time forgot to move forward.

"My Uncle Percy's wife and Molly and Lucy's mother."

"You have an extended family tree," the stranger murmured and Jamie attempted to smile. "What of your aunt, Hermione?"

Jamie pulled away slighty and the stranger allowed him, watching him closely as he got up and grabbed a quill and parchment from his desk.

"My least favorite," he sighed as he stuck the end of the quill in his mouth. "She looks at me as though she's searching for something in a book. Aunt Ginny has never told anyone who my father is, she might not even know, and Aunt Hermione cannot bear not to know anything." He shivered at a memory of her when he was about five, arguing with his grandmother about forcing him to take a hereditary potion in order to call 'the father' back, whoever he was.

"She hasn't changed," the stranger remarked before pulling him back against his chest, looking over Jamie's note. "You can come back," he whispered. "I will not keep you from them." He kissed the side of Jamie's neck and then sighed out, frozen breath tickling the red hairs at the base of his neck. "Come away," he whispered when Jamie was done, and Jamie found himself bundled up in a warm coat and hurried out the window, hidden from view with a simple disillusionment charm.

An invisible hand held his possessively as they walked silently through the snow covered streets, their footsteps hidden amongst countless others from the day's merriment.

As they reached the corner of the alley, Jamie paused and looked back at the house in which he grew up, cherished and loved, and yet somehow always separate somehow. "Do-Do you think Fred will hate me?" he murmured, the cold catching his warm breath and freezing it, the clock tower silent as it remained at only a minute to the Witching Hour indefinitely.

"Fred?" he heard upon the wind and he turned to where he knew the stranger was standing.

"My older brother. We're only two months apart."

Cloth rustled in the near silence and warm arms seeped out and wrapped him in a frost-filled embrace. He heard the ticking of time as it slowed to nothing again and he breathed out happily as a moan escaped his throat, the firm body of the wizard he adored keeping him safe and wanted in the darkness of the non-night.

"How can Muggles call this cupid's arrow?" Jamie murmured, the shivering darkness swallowing his hushed words as the tick, tick, tocking continued unabated in his mind.

"I do not know. Perhaps they do not feel it as we do—time does not slow for them."

Jamie turned in the stranger's arms and looked up into nothing.

"Your brother, Fred, he does not want you to be happy?" the stranger asked before their cold noses brushed up against one another.

Jamie breathed out harshly before pressing himself closer and claiming lips he could not see. "No," he muttered as he broke away. "He does not believe me, he believes they are children's stories."

"They're often based upon fact," the stranger said softly and Jamie kissed him again, before gently moving from his arms.

"Yes. Yes, they must be."

He glanced up again at the clock and saw that still it had not moved. Figures of late night travelers moved around them, brushing up against their forms and yet unnoticing, as they moved on into the alley.

Jamie started when he saw his aunt Ginny emerge from the Glass Slipper on the arm of a wizard. They were laughing together, champagne glasses clutched in their hands, and the wizard murmured something into her ear that caused her to smirk back at him.

He looked on with longing at the woman who gave birth to him, partially wishing for her to look over at him, to see him despite the Disillusionment Charm, to smile at least once for him.

"Come away," the stranger murmured into his ear and a gentle tug on his hand pulled him back into reality. "Come away, come away."

Part the Third

A small paper was pushed into his hand as they stood in the frozen London street, and Jamie looked down in confusion as he read the words "Your home is located at 12 Grimmauld Place."

"Don't say it," the stranger murmured and Jamie nodded, looking down at it again. "Just memorize it and then look straight ahead of you."

Jamie mouthed the words as the frosty air nipped at his exposed skin, reddening his kiss-swollen lips and biting at his nose. He glanced up again and was startled when he saw a brick house emerge, a gilt letter twelve hanging imperiously on the door. "What—?" he breathed out in wonder, only to feel himself being lifted into the air. "Love?" he whispered in question and saw the stranger's eyes sparkling down at him.

A soft kiss was placed on his cold lips and he moaned in contentment before he was carried up to the door, which was opened for them.

Jamie looked around him and stared wide-eyed at the entryway. Oak panels covered the walls and dark blue curtains hung over the windows, giving the room a formal yet comfortable air.

"I did not know what you would like," the stranger admitted. "I rarely stay here and the house was in disrepair, but as soon as I met you, I started redoing it with you in mind—for you."

Jamie smiled and kissed the stranger briefly as he was let down.

"Certain rooms are locked," he continued to explain, pulling him forward. He pointed to the left. "The kitchen's down there, which is where we'll eat. If the room is locked, don't go in. This house was unlived in for several decades and renovations are still taking place. I don't want you to be hurt." He squeezed Jamie's hand gently and led him toward the stairs.

"Where do you usually live if not here?"

"Italy in the winter, Paris in the spring, Germany in summer. . ." His cultured voice trailed off and he looked back at Jamie who was still smiling. "Abroad." He paused. "That's all changed now," he said with a slight smile. "Back in England again, to where I began.—The renovations should be complete for the summer."

"Who is this then?" a formidable voice asked and Jamie quickly turned, surveying a large portrait in the corner that he had not before recognized. "Who do you bring into the House of Black?"

"This is the House of Black?" Jamie asked as he dropped the stranger's hand and walked toward the portrait. He inspected the portrait, a stern looking witch, and bowed to it carefully when he saw the glinting look in her eyes.

"This one has manners then," she stated, a slight tinge of approval in her tones, before she looked more closely. "He's been touched by the deep magic," she whispered, awe suffusing her tone with a warmth that sounded foreign on her lips. "Time slows and freezes for you."

Jamie nodded hesitantly.

"How long as Time itself embraced you?" she half-whispered, her painted eyes wide with wonder and glazed over from the cold that now seeped through the warm room. "How long since the deep magic infused you, young man?"

"A little more than a week." She nodded, and Jamie glanced back at his fiancé. "You're a Black?"

"My grandmother was," he admitted. "The name has died out though in the male line." He walked forward and nodded to the portrait and she nodded back, though stiffly. "This is Walburga Black," he introduced. "James Sirius, my soon-to-be husband."

"Sirius?" she whispered. "Is he a Black then?"

The stranger smiled tightly. "His great-grandmother on his mother's side," he admitted. He grasped Jamie's cold hand in his own, and led him away.

A clock chimed the hour and Jamie smiled. "A New Year," he murmured and the stranger squeezed his hand as he led him up several flights of stairs to the third floor.

"I thought you would like the master bedroom," he admitted quietly as he opened up a door, the knob glistening with frozen dew at his touch.

Jamie silently walked through, ticking humming in his ears, and he looked around at the deep mahogany furnishings and the purple drapes. A warm fire that could emit no heat onto their shivering forms roared to life, playing in tones of purple and blue and a large rug of tiger fur rested before it.

Candles hovered in the air around them, casting shadows against their faces, and on the bedside table rested a single pomegranate on a silver platter and a ceremonial knife. "A traditional bonding," Jamie murmured to himself and the stranger wrapped his arms around his waist in a silent reply, his head resting against Jamie's shoulder.

"Does that bother you?"

"No. It makes sense given your desire for—anonymity." His breath puffed out and solidified before him, coating his glasses in frosty white for a few moments. "My secret," he murmured before whirling around in the stranger's arms and kissing his waiting lips softly. "Just mine."

The stranger led him to the bed, and Jamie found himself waiting in the flickering candlelight, the clock on the mantel frozen at one minute into the New Year, taking the knife to his hand and slicing it open. He stifled his cry of pain and with trembling fingers, handed it to the man he loved so dearly, and watched as the gesture was repeated.

Pomegranate juice slid across his tongue as he bit into the magical fruit, sealing their union with soft, seed-filled kisses, the cold whispering at their hair as they ceased to breathe in the second that stretched out for an eternity. No words were spoken, only the hushed murmur of chimes and love-filled looks as blood mingled with pomegranate seeds upon the silver plate, a testament to their recent marriage and vowed fidelity.

All thoughts fled from Jamie's mind as with a movement of the stranger's arm, the tools went crashing to the polished floor, the flames flickering in the cold air, and his mouth was claimed again and again. His fur-lined coat was quickly shed and his feeble pajamas were pushed from his frozen skin, tinged blue in the ethereal coldness that emanated from their hearts whenever they were with one another.

Ice formed on the counterpane as they began to move together, joyous gasps convulsing in the misting air. Sweat that formed on their skin soon cooled and frosted over into a light dusting of snow that was soon melted away as their bodies warmed again.

Jamie gasped into a searing kiss when, with gentle movements and cold strokes, he shivered his pleasure into the cold January air. "Love," he whispered with the final thrust inside of him, before cold descended fully upon them and they climbed beneath the fur blankets that the stranger, his husband, had outfitted their room with.

As he drifted off to sleep, the clock on the mantelpiece chimed quietly, sounding two minutes after midnight, humming lightly in their minds intermingled with a gentle "I love you" Jamie could barely hear.

… … … … … … …

Jamie awoke before the stranger and found that the room was warm around them, droplets of melted ice hovering on his skin. He glanced at his husband's sleeping face, unmarred by glasses, and pushed the long black waves away from his shoulder before lightly kissing it.

The skin still remained cold beneath his touch, but he found he could not mind. Their love had been a gift, a precious gift, from magic that occurred only a few times each millennium, and it had been granted to them.

Nuzzling the expanse of skin one last time, he slipped from between the furs and quickly pulled a waiting robe over his bare form. He winced in pain when his hand tried to tie a not and looked down at the healing cut on the palm of his hand. He knew it would never fully heal, leaving a pale white line that obstructed any attempt to read his fortune. Such magic was meant to mark, to leave a physical sign that spoke of an unbreakable marriage.

The Atlas ring gleamed upon his left hand and he watched it flicker in the morning's light for a few moments before walking purposefully out of the room, closing the door behind him.

The house was warm and inviting, although most of the doors remained closed, but Jamie didn't bother to try and open any of them. He was rather hungry and knew that his new husband probably would be as well as soon as he woke up.

As he entered the kitchen, however, he was startled to see a fire already blazing and a house-elf happily cooking at the large stove. He'd heard of house-elves, of course, from his aunt Hermione. She was rather adamant that they were all slaves and should be set free whether they wanted to or not. She had also attempted to introduce several bills to the Wizengamot, but had been largely unsuccessful.

He took a hesitant step forward, but stopped when the house-elf turned to him with large tennis ball eyes and squeaked in surprise.

"Er-I'm sorry. I didn't mean to startle you." He blushed slightly and began to back up to the door.

"Winky is happy to be meeting Master Bride," she said in a high squeaky voice as she bowed low. "Winky is making breakfast for Master Lordsy and Master Bride. Winky will punish Iself for not being done in time, Master Bride Sir."

"Er—no," he said as he saw the elf was about to hit its head against the cupboard door. "Don't punish yourself. I didn't know my-er-husband had a house-elf. It was my mistake."

The elf nodded dutifully. "Winky is new house-elf. Master Lordsy comes and gives Winky a family although Winky bad house-elf. Winky losts family years before when Master Lordsy was still in Hogwarts, but he is remembering Winky and came last week when he knowses he is getting married to Master Bride." She bowed again, her freshly laundered pillowcase that served as her uniform scraping on the floor.

"That's nice," he said as he quietly took a seat at the table, strangely fascinated by the first house-elf he had ever met.

"Old nasty Black elf died last year. He is not taking care of house, but Winky is setting it to rights for new Masters and little masters that yous will have." She bobbed around the kitchen excitedly, scrambling eggs and making bacon as she made a fresh pot of coffee. "Master Bride is of Gryffindor, I thinks. I sees him when I clean the tower."

Jamie gaped slightly. "You worked at Hogwarts?"

"Yeses, Master Bride."

"Ah, there you are," a deep baritone sounded and Jamie turned to see his husband leaning up against the door.

He smiled. "I thought I'd make you breakfast but Winky is already doing a fine job."

"I hope you approve," he said softly as he came up to kiss Jamie's lips, his freezing breath revitalizing Jamie. "I know your Aunt Hermione disapproves—"

"She's lovely," he reassured the stranger. "She was telling me how she was happy to have a family once again." The word family filled him with a frozen warmth that bloomed in his heart, and he kissed his husband again, slightly stronger this time. "Our family."

"Our family." The stranger turned and moved to sit next to him. "Are you well? Not too sore?"

Jamie blushed at the question, glancing at Winky.

"Winky is the soul of discretion and will not reveal any family discussions to anyone, James."

He bit his lip, but still answered. "Not so much. The spells helped, love."

"I'm glad," he murmured just as Winky was serving them their breakfast. He turned toward Winky who was now serving his husband's coffee precisely before turning her large brown eyes to Jamie in a silent question.

"Er-milk. Skim if we have it, and I like it rather milky," he rambled and the house-elf bobbed her head before making his coffee for him. Jamie thought he could rather get used to a life of luxury. It left more time for him to be with his husband.

"What are you doing today?" the stranger asked Winky.

"I is trying to remove large family tapestry as Master Lordsy asked. It is badly singed and not good for new family."

The stranger nodded appreciatively and Jamie looked at him in question. "It's an old Black relic. They had a tendency to scorch off relatives' names if they were disinherited including my godfather, who was a Black."

"Are we on there?" Jamie asked in interest and the stranger tensed slightly.

"I don't know," he said warily and Jamie nodded, accepting the answer.

Jamie smiled yet again, as their fingers wove together, creating tendrils of ice on the kitchen table.

Later that afternoon when they were lying in each other's arms in their bedroom, Jamie shuddered as he felt the magic shift around them, a heat that had not been present before. "What's that?" he murmured sleepily before snuggling closer into his husband's arms.

"An owl," he muttered, ruffling Jamie's wild hair, before climbing out of bed and opening the window, letting in a blast of freezing wind.

Jamie curled deeper within his fur blankets and sighed, before wings flapped in front of his semi closed eyes.

"Do you know this owl?"

He squinted and then pulled the feather ball closer to him. "Yes, he's Mum's," Jamie explained and felt the owl being taken from him.

"Do you want me to read it to you?" the stranger murmured lovingly before climbing back into the warm fur with him, cold skin pressing against skin.

"If you don't mind."

He heard the wrinkle of paper before the stranger cleared his throat. "My dearest Jamie." He paused. "Jamie?"

"You're the only one who calls me James."

A cold hand settled on his bare shoulder and Jamie sighed out in happiness. "After interrogating your siblings, we've learned from Fred that you've been engaged since Christmas morning, although he doesn't know your fiancée's name—she used the feminine spelling," he added.

Jamie breathed out, not even realizing he was holding in his breath, and it solidified in the warm air around their ice-kissed bed. "Good. Fred didn't tell then."

"Tell?"

"My darkest secret," he murmured before turning over and wrapping his body around his husband's. "I'm bent." He shivered in the cold embrace and reveled in the ticking of time slowing down around them once again.

The stranger nodded absently before turning back to the letter, his square glasses perched on his nose. Jamie thought he looked rather handsome, especially as he hadn't shaved since the day before.

"Roxie says she hopes you've married Harriet, but as she's only fourteen, I know that can't be the case. You are, of course, of age and are free to do as you wish, although your father and I had hoped that you would introduce us to the woman you fell in love with before marrying. Your dad is commending your Weasley spirit at pulling such a good prank—" Jamie laughed and his husband kissed his lips softly before continuing "—although I have a feeling that you are actually serious. Please owl us and tell us that you're well and hopefully you and your bride will be along for Sunday brunch where we can discuss your allowance and living conditions, as you have little of your own money. Love, Mum."

Silence wrapped them in a cold embrace and the stranger let the letter drop from his hands as he pulled Jamie closer to him and kissed him passionately. With every touch, frost spread onto their skin, chilling them so that they shivered in both bliss and cold, their lips blue and their eyes glassy from the added moisture in the air.

"I take it we're not going to brunch?" Jamie finally asked when they lay huddled together under the furs, lazily kissing and sated once again.

"You may of course go—you don't have to ask."

"I know," Jamie sighed. "I meant you."

The stranger didn't answer for a moment. "You know I can't."

Jamie brushed away the dark hair from his husband's eyes and looked at him lovingly. "Shh," he soothed against his frosted lips. "I know. I don't understand, but I know, love."

… … … … … … …

He felt heat seep into his skin in the cold January wind as he walked into Diagon Alley, his husband's eyes upon him as Jamie made his way toward his childhood home.

Pushing his glasses further up his nose, he watched as a gentle snow began to fall and sighed heavily, knowing that the next few hours would be awkward, especially when he arrived alone.

When his home came into sight, he gave a gentle sigh and firmly walked up to the door around the back and knocked on it. A moment later and he found himself in his mother's arms.

"Jamie, you're here," she murmured before hastily looking him over. "Is that a fur cloak?"

"Er-yes," he mumbled. As he hadn't actually taken any of his belongings when he eloped, the stranger had been resizing his own clothes until new ones could be made for him. Winky had come importantly in one morning and with a tape measure had taken down his measurements before happily sending an owl off to Twilfitt and Tatting's with all of the stranger's specifications for new robes and colors.

His mum quickly ushered him inside before asking, "And your wife, Jamie? Could she not make it?"

He shook his head. "No. Our home is being completely redone and needs a bit of work," he lied flawlessly. "We have a house-elf who rather loves having a family again who helps, but only a few rooms are livable at the moment."

His mum looked at him strangely before opening the door to the kitchen where he was surprised to see most of the Weasley clan sitting and waiting for him. Even his Aunt Ginny was there, obsessively reading over the Prophet which Jamie could see was announcing once again Harry Potter's activities in London, where he'd been spotted, though as usual there were no photographs. Fred looked beyond him and sighed when he didn't see his mysterious bride behind him.

"Oh, Jamie," his grandmother said, getting up from the table immediately and engrossing him in a warm hug. "My second grandchild to get married." She pulled back and ran her hands over his cheeks. "So grown up and just seventeen."

"Yeah, Dominique," Louis teased his older sister. "You're a whole year older. You or Freddie should have been next."

Dominique huffed and flicked her strawberry blonde hair over one shoulder.

"Fred," Victoire put in, "is the same age as Jamie, Louis."

"Oh, hush now," the Weasley Matron huffed, not bothering to turn around. "Well, where is she, young man? Where's my new granddaughter?"

"She couldn't make it," his mother put in and placed her hands firmly on his shoulders, squeezing slightly in assurance. "She's seeing to the house and managing their new house-elf."

His grandmother grumbled before kissing his forehead and motioning him to the table. His father looked at him apprehensively before smiling slightly at him. "She's a good sort?" he asked under his breath and Jamie smiled in appreciation.

"Yes, Dad. They are." He paused, but before he could speak again, Hermione cut in.

"House-elf. You married someone who keeps a house-elf?"

He sighed. He knew this would come up. "Yes, Aunt Hermione," he replied, turning to her. "I didn't know though until I walked into the kitchen to make breakfast and Winky was already there."

Ginny's head snapped up and her eyes narrowed. "Did you say Winky?"

He gulped, confused. "Er-yes. She used to work at Hogwarts, but Love knew of her and asked if she wanted a family, so now we have a house-elf."

"Love?" his dad laughed. "You married someone named 'Love'?"

Jamie tried to smile but his face wouldn't hold the emotion. "It's—it's a pet name," he finally admitted and then his aunt launched into a diatribe about house-elf rights. No one, not even Uncle Ron, paid her much mind.

His grandmother was bustling happily around the kitchen and started piling the table with dishes and everyone began to eagerly serve themselves brunch.

"So, a house-elf then," his Aunt Audrey said over the din. "She must come from a very old family, even if the elf is recently acquired."

"Yes," his mum added. "And you said you already have a house? Family inheritance perhaps?"

"Er—yes." He took a bite of sausage and chased it down with orange juice. "The Black Family home actually."

Silverware clattered to a halt as the entire clan stared at him, making Jamie even more uncomfortable.

Aunt Ginny was the first to break from the shock. "Twelve Grimmauld Place?" she murmured and Jamie, astounded, nodded.

"Do you know it?"

She slammed the paper, which she had been surreptitiously reading instead of paying attention to the proceedings, shut. "Do I know it?" she snapped.

He flinched.

"Ginny," his dad spat out, his face red. "That's enough."

"We just spent our bloody childhoods there during the War," she shot back, her brown eyes blazing in fury. "It just happens to be owned by Harry Potter."

"He could have sold it," his mum put in, "or left it to someone else in the Black line. He lives in America or something."

Hermione nodded. "He always hated that house, after Sirius died. It was in quite a state back during the war, no wonder your wife stayed at home to try to put it into shape." She drummed her fingers against the table. "What did you say her name was?"

Jamie glanced away and caught Fred's eye. His brother was staring darkly at him. "Er—I didn't."

"Well?" Teddy, Victoire's husband, spoke up. "Who is she?"

"He," Jamie murmured and he looked down at his hand where his engagement ring glittered. "He. My husband."

A warm hand covered his own and he looked up to see his dad smiling down at him. "He then."

Jamie smiled and impulsively threw himself in his father's arms. "Thanks, Dad," he mumbled, stroking the scarred flesh where an ear should have been.

"You're my son," his dad responded before allowing Jamie to pull away again. "Tell us about this man of yours."

"Well, he's cultured," Jamie began. "A pureblood, I think. He even walks with a cane."

Uncle Ron snorted. "Sounds like Old Lucius Malfoy."

Jamie narrowed his eyes, thinking of his previous crush's grandfather, who was at least seventy.

"He's much younger by several decades," Jamie stressed.

"Even worse," Ron said quietly only to have his wife hit him on the shoulder. "Ow!"

"Not our age then," his mum joked, but Jamie just bit his lip in response. Her eyes narrowed before they widened. "He is our age, then."

"Possibly," he muttered.

Rose, Hugo, and Roxanne all stared at him, open-mouthed. Aunt Ginny was looking at him calculatingly.

His grandmother tsked. "A name, dear. We need to check up on this—husband of yours. Percy, I want you to run a background check on this wizard. It's—not normal for a man your age to elope with a seventeen year old."

Fred looked away from him.

"How long have you known him?" This time Audrey was speaking to him.

"Er—not long."

"Then why—?" Bill asked, but Fred answered for him.

"He said that time stilled and froze," he murmured and everyone looked at him, even Ginny. "It's Aunt Ginny's fault anyway," he continued, his voice bitter. "You were supposed to meet him at King's Cross and he waited for hours until he met this wizard and then thought love whispered to him."

"Hours, Gin?" George said dangerously, throwing down his napkin. "How could you leave him for hours?"

"That's not possible," his grandmother whispered as Ginny just glared at her older brother. "No, no it isn't. Who is he, Jamie? Tell me who's been telling you these—lies."

"They're not lies," he defended and his dad quickly stood, throwing down his napkin.

"This is really the last time, Gin. You've spent years chasing after Harry when he doesn't want you and then ignore your own family. Get out of my house."

His mother stared at her husband before nodding. "It really might be best."

Aunt Ginny huffed, and gathered up her paper. "If I'm not wanted," she sniffed, but no one was paying attention to her anymore and were staring back at Jamie who had just revealed the magical scar on the palm of his hand.

"Who did this?" Percy ordered Jamie and he bit this lip. "This—this isn't right. You've known each other only for a week and a half."

Bill was leaning over it. "It is the traditional magic," he murmured, flicking his wand over a few times. "At least it's not infected or cursed."

"It's sick. That man—whoever he is—is sick," Jamie's grandmother exclaimed, her namesake looking up at her with worried eyes.

"Who is he, baby?" his mum whispered to him as she took his hand and stroked the scar. "Tell us who he is."

"I don't know," Jamie quietly admitted. "Words—they're not important. We didn't exchange names, at first."

"Oh, sweetheart," she murmured, tears in her eyes, before pulling him close.

"Percy?" his dad asked quietly. "Is there a case for abuse or kidnapping or even child-rape? This isn't—he's—"

"He could be brainwashed," Charlie agreed, looking on sadly. "To use the excuse of love stilling time—it's despicable. Ginny went too far this time, leaving him to be preyed upon and not giving him any form of approval. She never takes responsibility."

"It's not—I'm not—"

"Of course, dear," his grandmother whispered before he felt his sister wrap her arms around him. "You've done nothing wrong."

Jamie set his jaw in exasperation.

"We'll keep you safe," his Uncle Ron promised, but all Jamie could think about was how to escape back to the arms of the man he adored.

Part the Fourth

Jamie sat on his childhood bed, his favorite book open before him, as he tried not to think about how his mum had taken his wand from him earlier that day so he could not "return," as she called it.

He'd always loved Till We Have Faces by C.S. Lewis, along with his other works. His dad laughed at him, saying he took after his grandfather, who loved everything Muggle. It could be true, Jamie thought. He just adored Muggle myths and literature in general, Lewis in particular.

Jamie leaned back and sighed as he thought of Psyche and her mysterious husband, a man without a face whom she was never permitted to look upon. It was almost ironic as he now had a husband whose name he was never supposed to discover.

He huffed in indignation and closed the book, his eyes drifting out the window to London where he knew the stranger was anxiously waiting for him. His windows had been spelled closed and locked and he couldn't even sneak an owl as they were all being used to send off petitions and inquiries about his situation.

No matter what he said his family took his marriage as some sort of abomination and considered him brainwashed simply because his husband was older and wanted some sense of privacy. The stranger appeared to know his family at least in passing, and part of Jamie wondered if his desire for secrecy was because they had never gotten along.

Jamie groaned. He just wanted to go home to Grimmauld Place. He didn't want to be here, he wanted to be in his husband's arms as it was his last night before returning to Hogwarts. He craved the cold pulse of their slow lovemaking, the impassioned kisses and the frost-filled looks as the air tingled with near-snow about them.

A tap on the window startled him and he nearly fell off the bed when he saw his husband's face staring intently at him. Smiling brightly, he ran to the window and flicked his wrist as if he were holding a wand, gesturing to the stranger what needed to be done.

'Alohamora!' the stranger mouthed and instantly the window was open and his husband fell into his arms.

Cold lips caught his as the chiming of clocks stilled and sang quietly to them.

"I'm so sorry, so sorry," Jamie murmured against the stranger's mouth, holding him close. "They—they think—I don't know why they think it. I told them it wasn't true, that we're in love and it doesn't matter that you're older and we met only last month, but they won't believe me." Tears were now streaming down his face and glistening in the cold air, but the stranger quickly brushed them away.

"Shh, it's all right," the stranger murmured as he gently kissed Jamie's lips again. "I'm here. It's fine."

Jamie shook his head. "It's not. They have Uncle Percy looking up laws and they've owled the Wizengamot clerk. I just—it's just—I don't know why—and Fred won't even look at me and they took away my wand so I couldn't escape back to you."

Strong hands stretched into Jamie's auburn hair, cold thumbs stroking the sides of his eyes as they leaked half-frozen rivulets of tears. "I love you," the stranger murmured. "Always love you."

Soon hands were pulling away at their robes until they met cool flesh, and after whispering a wandless locking spell on the door, Jamie felt his husband slowly enter him and hissed out his pleasure. He reveled in the cold embrace, the gentle movement of hips moving together until with a soft exclamation he shivered his release, his frost covered hair falling against his shoulders as they threw back his head in pleasure.

"What are we going to do?" Jamie murmured as he curled himself around the stranger, his breathing finally under control. "I don't know what to do."

The stranger pulled him closer. "Your parents are here, I assume? George and Angelina?"

Jamie nodded in answer. He felt cold lips press against the nape of his neck.

"No one else?"

"Fred and Roxanne—and her friend Harriet."

"Ah," the stranger breathed out, bringing him even closer. "The one Roxanne wanted you to marry? Should I be jealous?"

A smile quirked at the side of Jamie's lips. "No," he assured him. "No need to be jealous."

"I'll clear this up," he promised. "Just—don't ask them who I am. I'd rather not—"

Jamie sighed and turned in the stranger's arms before kissing him achingly slowly. He moaned as a soft tongue quietly asked for entrance, parting his lips before moaning into the kiss. "I don't care who you are, love." Jamie assured him. "It doesn't matter, but I won't ask. Never will."

After a last lingering kiss, the stranger untangled himself from Jamie and quickly redressed, pushing his fringe firmly over his forehead, which Jamie had noticed was a habit of his.

"Shall I come with you?" Jamie asked and his husband smiled down at him.

"In a minute or two."

Jamie nodded and then sighed as the door opened and closed behind the stranger. He could hear his husband's movement as he made his way down the stairs to the living room and even heard his mum's surprised exclamation when he must have appeared before them.

He glanced down at his open palm and stared at the shimmering cut across his hand. It always seemed to glisten with frost, even when he was separated from the stranger, and carefully he kissed it.

He could hear murmurs from below before he quickly got up and redressed. He picked up his novel from where it had fallen on the floor and traced the title carefully before, with another swell in conversation, he slipped out of the door and down the stairs.

"You've known me since I was eleven," his husband was saying as he rounded the corner. "I'm not a rapist, brainwashing him, or whatever else Granger's come up with."

The edges of Jamie's robe rustled and the stranger looked back, smiling at him slightly. His parents were sitting before the fire looking utterly astonished, their mouths hanging slightly open. He walked forward and found himself standing beside his husband, an arm snaking possessively around his waist as the stranger kissed the top of his head lovingly.

"Why didn't you just—come to us?" his dad said. "You've been a friend of the family for years, o-one of my sibling's closest friends. Why won't you even tell Jamie your name?"

The stranger looked down before glancing up again. "It's no one's business but ours, George. Can you imagine what would happen if your younger siblings found out? If your parents did? It would be a mess—one I wish to avoid. I didn't even know he was a Weasley until just before we married."

His mum cleared her throat. "You know it will come out. It can't remain a secret forever."

"No," the stranger confirmed. "But long enough. Angelina, George, please."

His dad looked up with haunted eyes before nodding once. "I can't believe you're my son-in-law," he murmured. "Gin's going to have a fit when she finds out."

"Your sister can go off with her man of the week for all I care," his husband responded somewhat viciously and Jamie looked up at him in worry. He reached up and hesitantly stroked the side of his neck and smiled when he was rewarded with a soft kiss.

"She's been kicked out of our home indefinitely," his mum offered. "She's pulled one too many stunts where Jamie's concerned and enough is enough."

"Why did she?" the stranger wondered aloud, not taking his eyes from Jamie's hazel ones. "I never saw her as the maternal type, but this, this is too much. Molly would have had a fit."

"She's been having several since Jamie was conceived," his dad confirmed and Jamie sighed before sitting down on the sofa, dragging the stranger down with him. "We were happy to take him, of course," he added, "though Mum wanted him."

"Couldn't let her smother another generation of Weasleys," his mum joked before looking fondly at Jamie.

"Always over feeding everyone," the stranger mused as he ran his hand up Jamie's neck and into his hair. "Now I'd like to take James back to Grimmauld Place."

His mum nodded once but his dad hesitated. "Tell me you're in love with him," he half-begged, his eyes locking with frosted green. "Tell me he's all you've ever dreamed of. He's my son."

The stranger nodded. "That and more, George. I swear to you."

His dad breathed out in relief and within moments Jamie found himself swept out into the cold January air.

… … … … … … …

"It's not right!" Fred exclaimed as he met up with Jamie on platform nine and three-quarters the next day. "I wake up this morning and you're gone and Mum and Dad won't say anything except that Mr. Mysterious is 'a friend of the family's.' What kind of a friend marries your child anyway?"

Jamie shook his head but quickly threw his arm around his brother.

"You should have seen Aunt Mione's face when she came round this morning to bring us here and Mum said you were with your husband," he said loudly, and Jamie noticed with a little regret that Scorpius Malfoy turned toward them in shock.

He bit his lip.

"So, what does he look like?"

"What? Who?"

Fred breathed out in exasperation. "The new Mr. Weasley. Or are you now Mr. Black, I suppose?"

"Er-Black, I guess," he suggested. He didn't know his husband's last name, but at least he knew that he was a Black. His thoughts, however, weren't able to progress much further.

"James Sirius Weasley!" Aunt Hermione called out and he stopped dead and turned, upset that she was standing right near Scorpius and his family, including his younger sister Miranda. "Come here this instant!"

Glancing once at his brother, he quickly made his way over. "Yes, Aunt?"

"What is this I hear from your mother that you left home last night to be with that good-for-nothing husband of yours?" She crossed her arms over her work robes. Yellow, he decided, was not her color.

"He's not 'good-for-nothing,'" he explained. "Mum and Dad met him last night and approved."

"And," Fred added in, having come over. "His name is now James Sirius Black—we think. Closest we can get." He turned to Jamie, who noticed the Malfoys had become still. "How can you not know your husband's name when you had to have a wedding ceremony?"

Hermione rolled her eyes. "Traditional ceremonies, Fred, require a knife and a pomegranate. No words are exchanged.—Jamie! He's your parents' age!"

"Age," he quoted one of his favorite novels, "doesn't mean a thing in marriage."

Fred laughed openly. "Where's that one from then?"

"Rebecca," he responded. "'Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.' Grimmauld place is a bit like Manderley, I suppose."

"Muggle?"

Jamie inclined his head.

"I spent part of my childhood there," Aunt Hermione huffed, "during the war, and it was nothing like Manderley. It was the headquarters of the Order of the Phoenix.—That, however, is not the point."

Glancing at the clock, he saw that he painfully still had half an hour before the train left.

"It is. It's a house, still partially haunted by the past. You can feel it in the portraits that watch you; and what is the point?"

"You've gone and married a man twice your age, you met him less than two weeks ago, and you don't know his name," she stated succinctly. "What does this man even look like?"

Unfortunately, Aunt Hermione's rather impassioned half of the conversation had drawn most of the other Weasleys on the platform to them, all huddled behind the Malfoys who were glancing disdainfully at them.

A small smile played across Jamie's lips just at the thought of the stranger. "He's taller than I am. Wears glasses. Green eyes, almost emerald. He's sophisticated and his English, while perfect, is tainted with French and Italian. A little German occasionally when he's sleepy." He fidgeted and played with the cuff of his new robe. "His hair falls down to the shoulder in messy waves, so black, so beautiful."

He looked up when he heard a gasp.

Aunt Hermione was staring at him wide-eyed. "It can't be," she murmured before looking over at Ginny. "Can it?"

"Can't be what?"

Hermione looked slightly ill and was now shivering even though she was wearing one of her favorite cloaks, which was spelled with a lasting heating charm. "Harry. Harry Potter."

Jamie's eyebrows rose as he took in the thought, images running through his mind. "No," he muttered. "No, he's not."

"You think I wouldn't recognize my best friend's description?" Her eyes flashed dangerously. "Does he have the scar?"

"I—" Jamie gasped and shook his head in wonder. "There is no scar."

"Are you certain?" Her eyes gazed piercingly into his and Jamie felt like the entire world was cutting off his air.

His husband couldn't be Harry Potter, the famous recluse who shunned British society for somewhere abroad. He'd never seen the full scar, never heard anything that would even suggest it, except that Harry Potter had been considered the eighth Weasley before he mysteriously disappeared. He had wondered at his parents' reaction to the stranger the night before, but decided to just consider it a gift from magic, nothing more and nothing less.

It did not matter, though, his mind whispered. The stranger was still his husband, still the one he loved—and now it all made a dreadful kind of sense why he wished for privacy to this extent.

Huffing, Aunt Hermione drew her wand and imperiously waved in the air, conjuring an old photograph from when she was at Hogwarts. She thrust it into his hands.

He stared down at it, almost unseeingly, at three smiling faces looking back at him. His Aunt Hermione and Uncle Ron stood on one side, smiling at the camera, while Uncle Ron's arm was wrapped another wizard, a boy in scruffy jeans and a hoodie, eyes green and shining through horn-rimmed glasses as messy black hair fell into his eyes, barely covering the scar on his forehead.

The stranger, his husband, the man he adored, so young and yet unmistakable.

He set his jaw in determination. "No. That's not him," he responded quietly. "Definitely not him."

"Are you certain?" his Uncle Ron plied. He had come up behind his wife and his arms were now circling her waist. His blue eyes were shining hopefully, though his expression was tinged with wariness. "How can you be sure? That was taken over twenty years ago."

Jamie ground his teeth together, debating before the offended look on his biological mother's face decided him. "I think I would know the face of the man I fuck; and I think I would know when I grab his hair whether he has a scar on his forehead or not."

"There's Muggle plastic surgery," Hermione said, her voice harsh and her body rigidly defensive.

"Yes, well, my husband's a pureblood—an intense, traditional one." He purposefully drew out the words, wanting to offend his relatives. They were condemning him in public on a private family matter and just wouldn't let it go. He was an adult and he was now completely independent from them and he was wealthy from his marriage. They had absolutely no right, especially when they knew that part of their reactions came from a misguided sense that they owned Harry Potter—his husband, the man who magic herself had given him. "He wouldn't be caught dead with anything Muggle. And why would Harry Potter ever think of touching me after my biological mother drugged him with love potions?"

Aunt Ginny's eyes flared at him and she stepped forward, striking Jamie hard across the face with such a force that he fell back slightly.

The slap stung across his cheek and he placed his hand over it, his eyes widening in shock. "How-How could you?" he demanded quietly.

"You disgust me," she murmured into his ear.

Jamie growled, resentment searing through him. "Not as much as you disgust me, Mother."

"If it's him," he whispered lowly, "no wonder he kept it a secret from a Potter bastard."

He stumbled back, shocked, and she smirked at him.

"You heard me." She spoke louder, allowing most of the Weasleys and the Malfoys to hear her. "James for his father, Sirius for his godfather. The perfect revenge."

Images fluttered through his mind and he bit down on his tongue hard enough to draw blood. He felt the world spinning around him, haunting him, heat tearing at his heart and rushing down his spine. He felt like he was going to be sick, and with a groan, collapsed onto the hard platform.

As people surrounded him, speaking to him and flashing their hands in front of his eyes, he saw nothing. All he could hear were her words echoing in his mind and the soft murmurs of ticking clocks resounding around him.

… … … … … … …

"There's nothing here," Fred whined as they walked up Grimmauld Place. The last few months had been a blur to Jamie. He had dutifully written to his husband, pushing away all thoughts of what Ginny had insinuated, but now he had to know. He knew he shouldn't do it, shouldn't bring Fred here, to their home, especially without informing the stranger, but he couldn't do it alone. Everything was so twisted inside his mind, tearing at his heart. Some nights when he slept alone in the Gryffindor dorms he felt like he could barely breathe.

He had to know for certain and if Winky hadn't removed the Black tapestry yet, he just might yet learn the truth of his father's identity.

Jamie knew that the stranger was down in Cornwall that day and was set to meet him at the train station for Easter holidays, but he and Fred had Apparated from Hogsmeade directly onto an empty platform nine and three-quarters instead of taking the train. They had quickly walked through the barrier, ignoring the stares they received for their cloaks, and took a Muggle taxi to Jamie's home.

"It's under Fidelius," Jamie whispered and quickly walked up the steps, not caring that Fred's eyes had probably widened as he walked into thin air. "Come on," he urged, opening the door and disappearing. He had given Fred the small paper his husband had given him months before, but he was still being difficult.

"Jamie," Fred called, hurrying after him and looking strangely down at the stairs and then around the hall. "This is ridiculous. There's nothing here but an abandoned run down building."

He looked at his older brother oddly, taking in his clammy mocha-colored skin and wide, brown eyes. "What are you going on about?" he questioned, taking off his cloak and then bowing formally to the portrait of Mrs. Black. "I know it still needs a bit of work done, but it's not run down."

Fred's eyes widened. "What am I going on about? What am I going on about?"

Jamie looked at him oddly. "That's what I said."

"Jamie! We're in a building that is missing pieces of the wall and," he gestured wildly to the stairs, "there are planks missing. Merlin, the rot. You can't possibly live here. It's not fit for the homeless!"

He opened his mouth to respond harshly before cocking his head to the side.

Fred, however, took that as permission to continue. "What do you see?"

"The entry hall. Everything's burnished oak and blue velvet drapes."

"These bug-ridden things with holes in them?" Fred asked, grabbing one and tugging harshly. Nothing happened. "You see? It even ripped!"

"Must be the wards," he muttered under his breath, before jogging up the stairs.

"He's got you under a spell, this bloke of yours," Fred continued angrily. "An enchantment. He gets you to marry him after a week and a half, you don't know his name, and now this. He's one sick bastard."

"Don't call him that," Jamie said harshly before staring at the locked door to the drawing room and taking out his wand. "Alohamora," he whispered and it clicked open.

"As if you'd have to cast that on a door you can see through. Looks like someone put their hand through it," Fred griped, but Jamie wasn't paying attention.

He quickly walked through the door and took in the pristine and beautiful room. Rich golds and flawless whites covered every surface, the room bright and almost airy as a magical fire roared to life, though Fred seemed to not feel it and began to shiver in cold. Bookcases lined three of the walls, only stopping when windows let in the Spring light, gossamer curtains of pearl shimming against the panes of glass. The texts looked well read, loved, some so old that the bindings were pealing away. It was the most beautiful room that Jamie thought he had ever seen. One wall was taken up almost exclusively by a large tapestry, and without thinking Jamie quickly rushed over to it.

Running his hands over the threadbare fabric, he traced the names, surprised to see some he recognized. Scorpius and Miranda Malfoy were proudly displayed beneath their father's name, his mother a Black. Finding her beautiful yet cold face, Jamie traced through that generation until he found a dark hole with the small name Sirius Orion Black written pristinely underneath it.

"What are you doing?" Fred demanded. "That filthy thing must be crawling with maggots!"

Jamie didn't even bother to respond. Harry Potter wasn't closely related to Sirius and he moved up farther, tracing the lines down, only to become disappointed. Still, he kept on looking, not heeding his brother's pleas and pushing him away when Fred tried to pull him from the old family tree.

"It's not—this isn't—let's just get out of here," Fred begged, but Jamie still gave no response, glad that his brother had yet to resort to magic.

He gasped when he traced the name of Charlus Potter, married to a Dorea Black, and followed it down through James Charles and then finally Harry James.

Harry, his stranger, his husband.

"Found him," he muttered to himself, but Fred didn't hear him, and then slowly, he traced a thin dotted line across to the name Ginevera Molly Weasley.

He bit his lip painfully and forced his mind to clear as tears stung at his eyes.

A dotted line. He wasn't quite certain what exactly that meant though he knew it wasn't marriage. The love potion then.

He held back a sob as he traced the line down to his own richly embroidered name as his miniature portrait stared back at him, auburn hair and hazel eyes. James Sirius Weasley. A thick black line curved away from his portrait to meet with his f—with his husband's showing they were legally married. Jamie had known for months that his mother had raped his husband, and now he knew exactly what had occurred afterward.

The perfect revenge.

He closed his eyes in pain and let his emotions wash over him. He knew the stranger—his husband—his Harry had always wanted a family. So many nights together he had whispered his dreams for the future that he had held close to his heart for so long. A family, children. She had raped him and then, when he left the country in disgust as he obviously had, she kept secret and hid the one thing he had always wanted. She had taken and taken and taken, never giving anything back. Then years later, magic had reformed the love into something that should have been unthinkable.

Angrily, he took out his wand and, not hearing his brother's cries or the creak of movement on the stairs, he blasted his name from the tapestry.

"Jamie! What are you doing?" Fred shrieked, but Jamie simply turned around and glared at him, pain etched on his face. "What are you doing?"

"Correcting something," he murmured before sitting on the floor, ignoring his brother's protests. It didn't matter; nothing mattered.

Taking a deep, labored breath, he then scorched his mother's face from beside his husband's and, conjuring a pair of scissors, cut around the two new scorch marks, eliminating the lines completely.

The door creaked open, but still Jamie didn't hear. He couldn't. All that existed was the rushing in his ears and now the subtle ticking of a clock and cold seeping into his bleeding heart.

"He's gone mad," Fred whispered in response to something and Jamie simply conjured a black permanent marker.

Harry would never know he was here unless he looked at the tapestry, Jamie decided. He never needed to know, but this needed to be done, needed to be made right. He wasn't Harry's child, but conceived through a potent potion. He was fatherless biologically.

With shaking hands he drew a line off to the side from his husband's name and then carefully wrote his own in. His hand slipped on his surname and a warm hand enveloped it. Jamie began to shiver, his breath solidifying, and the tapestry began to frost over.

"I told you never to come in here," a sophisticated voice said and Jamie sobbed, his tears freezing on his skin.

"I know. I'm sorry—it's just—I saw your picture and Aunt Ginny said—"

He turned around and looked into impossibly green eyes, shuttered so that no emotion but the cold emanating between them shone out.

"It doesn't matter," Jamie whispered before lightly kissing his husband's lips. "Harry, love, it doesn't matter, you said so yourself before we were married."

"It doesn't, James?" the stranger—Harry—questioned before dropping his hand, his own cold hands coming up to cup Jamie's face.

Jamie leaned into the touch. "No," he murmured, pulling closer. "My mother's a whore and my father's a Muggle."

Frost-kissed lips curved into a gentle smile and Jamie found himself lost as time slowed completely, the deep magic murmuring in their ears as the buzzing of chimes sounded all around them. He was free and in the arms of the stranger he adored.

- The End -

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