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Chapter 1: A New Beginning
Disclaimer: [to apply to the entire story, as I will probably forget to insert it into later chapters] I do not own any of the characters you recognize- those belong to J K Rowling. Those you do not recognize are figments of my imagination. Credit for the gorgeous chapter image goes to nala @ TDA! ♥
Walburga Black had never in her entire life witnessed such activity at Number Twelve, Grimmauld Place. In her bedroom, she stood in her elegant bridal gown; a beautiful dress of pure white embellished with real diamonds upon the bodice. It was eyewateringly expensive; but it was worthy of the eldest of Pollux Black's children and that was more important to any of the Blacks than the amount of Galleons it cost. As Walburga swished around again, searching meticulously for any imperfections in the mirror, she noticed her flame-haired bridesmaid in the background.
“So what do you think, Fee?” she queried, her eyes fixed upon her own reflection.
“I think you look absolutely stunning, Wali,” her best friend admitted, her own emerald green dress bringing out the green of her eyes. “In fact, I'd go as far to say that I may very well be jealous.”
“I'd understand that,” Walburga smirked as she turned to her friend. “Orion is a respectable gentleman, and as my second cousin he is undeniably from a family of impeccable heritage and flawless blood.”
“Not to mention you have the added perk of not being required to change your surname,” Fee snickered gently. “In all honesty, though, I must admit that it is not your dress or your groom that I am jealous of, but the fact that in a few hours, Orion will be pledging himself to you and vice versa. He will promise to care for you, to treat you like a queen, to stand by you, to give you children, and you will promise all of those in return. He will vow to stand by you until the end of your days just like you will do for him, and I can't help but feel that such moments hold indisputable value. In fact, they're a sizeable part of the reason I adore weddings.”
“How contemplative you are today, Fiona,” Irma Carrow Black commented frostily as she walked into Walburga's bedroom. “Do locate Alphard; he was instructed to wake Orion and help him prepare for the ceremony. Ensure he has done so.”
“Certainly,” Fee answered. “May I ask which room Orion slept in last night?”
“The one that holds the portrait of Pollux's grandfather, a former outstanding Headmaster of Hogwarts, Phineas Nigellus Black- I do believe you are familiar with its location?” Irma replied.
“Yes, I am,” Fee smiled. “I'll see you downstairs at the carriage, Wali.”
As the flame-haired witch walked out of the room, she could hear the beginning of Irma's complaint that she used a shortened, over-familiar nickname disproportionate to her position within the hierarchy of pure-bloods. She ignored the older woman's objections and quickly proceeded towards the room in question, pausing when she reached the door to knock gently on the mahogany wood.
“Come in!” Orion's voice rang out from within the room, and Fee opened it gently to reveal two grumbling wizards- one of whom she classed as one of her best friends, considering they had spent their seven years of schooling practically inseparable. “Ah, Miss Phoenix. Young Alphard here is unable to secure a tie properly; would you mind assisting?”
“I'm perfectly able to put a tie on myself, Orion, but it's not as easy when you're trying to put it on someone else,” Alphard grumbled.
“Miss Phoenix seems to be managing quite successfully,” Orion reprimanded his younger relative while Fee fixed his tie for him.
“Only because she's got plenty of practice in, considering the amount of ties she's removed amorously in her life,” Alphard muttered darkly, earning himself an glare of indignation from Fee; fortunately for her, Orion seemed to be preoccupied with his pre-wedding nerves and hadn't heard Alphard's insult.
“Master Orion,” a house-elf spoke as he Apparated into the room without warning, “you are expected at the carriage now. Mistress Irma urges you to make haste; she wishes for you to depart before Mistress Walburga descends.”
“Is that house-elf new?” Fee asked Alphard, her hand on her chest in an attempt to steady her heart. When he nodded, she turned to the creature and narrowed her eyes darkly. “Don't ever turn up without warning like that again, at least when I am present. You may Apparate first, then speak, but never do both at the same time or you will surely frighten somebody to death.”
“Kreacher apologizes to Mistress Walburga and Master Alphard's friend for alarming her,” the house-elf replied, taking a long bow.
“Thank you for correcting my tie, Miss Phoenix,” Orion nodded. “Alphard, we had better leave now; I have no wish to antagonize my future mother-in-law before the wedding has even taken place.”
Fee could only watch her best friend be half-dragged out of the room by a worried Orion Black. If she knew anyone who was prepared to participate in placing bets on the Black family, she would have willingly staked fifty Galleons that Orion Black had performed an unspeakable crime- socializing with Muggle filth, for example- and had been given the choice of marrying Walburga or becoming disowned, to which he had voluntarily chosen the former. However, in the absence of such an ally, she was forced to debate internally on what heinous transgression Orion Black had theoretically committed to have been placed in such a position.
“Fiona,” Irma's voice rang out from the room upstairs. “Walburga is on her way downstairs; please accompany her to the carriage and for Merlin's sake, don't forget the flowers! I'd never live it down if my daughter and her bridesmaid were both without their bouquets.”
“I certainly won't forget the flowers, Mrs Black,” Fee called out as she rushed quickly to her room and scooped up both bouquets in her hands before returning to the staircase just in time to meet Walburga, and together they descended the final flight of steps.
“I've been thinking over what you said earlier,” Walburga revealed after the two young witches had been seated in the bridal carriage. “About how significant my vows are today. I have to ask: why would you be jealous of that? You are the most independent person I know; I would never consider that you might require a man to protect you.”
“I don't want a man to protect me,” Fee admitted. “I want a man who is unafraid to let me explore the world and see everything; I want a man who will support me in forging a career of my own; I want a man who will encourage me to take risks and catch me if I fall. I want a man who I can love without restraint, and who does not hold back from admitting his own love.”
“That's a very modern view,” Walburga remarked. “You and my brother would make a suitable match, I suspect.”
“It's true that Alphard and I have similar personalities,” Fee confessed, “but my feelings for him are purely platonic. Even if I did view him in a romantic way, I am certain that your mother would object vehemently and therefore there would be no possibility of a Black-Phoenix union.”
“It's all very well to marry for love, Fee,” the bride answered, “but there is no certainty that love exists. Are you truly prepared to wait for the gentleman who holds your affections to return your unrequited feelings, possibly for the rest of your life?”
Fee looked out of the carriage window at the unseasonable summer downpour, and her hand instinctively reached up to trace the beautiful locket around her neck; a gift from a highly distinguished, faultless Slytherin called Tom Marvolo Riddle. Walburga would never understand the bond that she and Tom shared; Fee suspected that her friend's view of their relationship was in fact inaccurate, but so far there was no proof of what Walburga's notions were.
“Yes,” she whispered. “Yes, I am.”
Alphard could not resist a glance over at his best friend while his sister and soon-to-be brother-in-law made their vows. He knew how significant weddings were to Fee and how much they moved her; even now he suspected that her watery eyes were from fighting back tears and not caused by a trick of the light like most people would assume.
“I, Walburga Elladora, take you, Orion Arcturus, to be my beloved husband, to have and to hold you, to honour you, to treasure you, to be at your side in sorrow and joy, in the good times, and in the bad, and to love and cherish you always. I promise you this from my heart, for all the days of my life.”
Walburga spoke with pure decorum in her voice, something that Alphard could sense meant that her heart wasn't in the words. He winced when his mother sobbed loudly, overcome by her own emotions. Once again, he glanced at Fee, who continued to maintain her unemotional façade. It seemed strange to Alphard that the only one of his friends who Irma criticized unfairly was the same young witch he considered to be worth ten times more than his mother.
“I, Orion Arcturus, take you, Walburga Elladora, to be my beloved wife, to have and to hold you, to honour you, to treasure you, to be at your side in sorrow and joy, in the good times, and in the bad, and to love and cherish you always. I promise you this from my heart, for all the days of my life.”
Orion's words were slightly more believable; at least he actually wanted to be married which was more than Alphard could say about Walburga. He had eavesdropped on his sister and best friend the previous night under Orion's orders, the groom being eager to hear what his bride truly thought of him. If Alphard was entirely honest with himself, he'd wanted to hear if Fee had any plans of marriage too, but he hadn't had a chance to indulge his curiosity after discovering Walburga's secret. Even now he wished desperately he could stand up and confess to Walburga's growing addiction to alcohol because no matter how much he disliked Orion, he couldn't allow his second-cousin to become trapped in a loveless marriage to an imbalanced wife. But he knew that if he did, the consequences would be unfathomable.
“I now declare you man and wife,” the wizarding Reverend declared. “You may kiss the bride.”
Orion's lips met Walburga's, and Alphard breathed a sigh of relief- not because his brother-in-law had just signed his soul away but because the temptation to intervene no longer existed now that it was too late to prevent the marriage. He took yet another look at Fee, and saw her standing and laughing and clapping with the rest of Walburga's friends from school, who had been invited for the occasion. It was then that he noticed Tom Riddle, the fourth member of the quartet that he, Walburga and Fee had formed on their first trip aboard the Hogwarts Express, standing next to Fee and whispering something in her ear that caused her to giggle. Alphard clenched his fists in anger; and it was in that moment he realized the true extent of his feelings for Fiona Phoenix.
He, Alphard Black, direct descendant of Hogwarts' most glorious Headmaster and a descendant of the aristocratic bloodline of the Blacks- so noble that his family were practically royalty in the wizarding world- was jealous.
I wish that I could turn back time and change what happened. I wish that I hadn't destroyed everything that I loved. I wish that I had made different choices that night.
I wish that wishes came true.
I'm so sorry. Please forgive me.
Author's Note: Oooh, who do you think the mystery letter-writer is? ;) Is Fee to your liking? Am I remaining true to the canon characters we already know about? I'd love it if you could drop me a review!
Oh, and I did a little research for this story, as I wanted to keep it as canon as possible, and came across some inconsistencies or even a lack of information, so here is a comprehensive [I hope!] layout of date of births, years attended at Hogwarts et cetera. Some of those have been changed to fit in with this story, although I have tried to keep it as canon as possible. :)
Pollux Black was born in 1912 according to JKR, but as that would make him 12 or 13 when Walburga [his eldest child] was born, I have changed the year of his birth to 1902.
Walburga Black was born in 1925. Technically this means she should have attended Hogwarts during either 1936-1943 or 1937-1944 depending which month she was born, but for the purposes of this fanfiction she attended during 1938-1945. [This could very well be canon, as several people in real life are delayed a year for some kind of reason, so it stands to reason that this could happen in the wizarding world too]
Alphard Black was born between 1925 and 1929, so I have decided to mark him as born in summer 1927 and attending Hogwarts during 1938-1945.
Fiona Phoenix was born on 31st October 1926 and attended Hogwarts during 1938-1945.
Tom Marvolo Riddle was born on 31st December 1926 and attended Hogwarts during 1938-1945.
Orion Black was born in 1929 according to JKR, however I can't imagine a wizard from a “practically royal” family would marry a witch who was older than him, so for all intents and purposes, in this story he was born in late 1919 and attended Hogwarts during 1931-1938.
Cygnus Black III was born in 1938 according to JKR, but the same mathematical error has occurred as with Pollux, where he is 12 or 13 when his eldest daughter is born. Therefore, I have marked his date of birth as early 1928, and he is a year below Alphard at Hogwarts and attended Hogwarts during 1939-1946.
Druella Rosier Black's date of birth is unknown, however if she was the same age or younger than Cygnus, the very latest she could have been born would be 31st August 1934, when she would then attend Hogwarts from 1944-1951 and give birth to Bellatrix shortly after she graduated, which is the age I have marked her as.
Abraxas Malfoy's date of birth is also unknown, although to father Lucius at eighteen he would have to have been born by 1937 or 1938 at the latest; however as it is possible that due to years of inbreeding in the pure-bloods, he had infertility problems and fathered Lucius aged 30. Therefore, for the purposes of this story, Abraxas was born in late 1925 and attended Hogwarts during 1937-1944.