Black Magic
by Ishafel

He comes to Sirius's funeral in immaculate dark gray robes that cost more than Remus makes in a year, and his father has been in prison for eleven days -- Sirius has been dead for eleven days -- but he smirks at Remus and at Harry. And his mother's beside him, straightening the Windsor knot in his tie, brushing rose petals off his shoulders. (They held Sirius's service in the garden of the house at Grimmauld Place because he was still a convicted Death Eater and the church forbade rites to traitors and suicides.)

He reads the lesson in his clipped public school drawl, as if he were reciting from Virgil, Homer, the poets there are no longer time to teach because Hogwarts must teach politics and war. But Remus watches him shape the words, "And the only law they follow shall be, Love as thy wilt," and he thinks the boy is more like the Blacks than he is like the Malfoys. He is like Sirius and he shall be damned like Sirius.

Afterward they file into the house for refreshments and Narcissa moves restlessly about the house, fingering the edges of tapestries, the gilt-edged frames of paintings, pointing out to the boy what remains and what is gone. She and Andromeda and Bellatrix came to this house as children; they played with Sirius and Regulus in these gloomy hallways. Her face, in profile, is not unlike her son's; which is to say, it is not unlike Sirius's. But she is the only Black Remus has met whose control over her temper is absolute.

The boy follows her, feigning interest without any particular skill. Remus isn't close enough to hear what she's saying but he can imagine it, the kind of childhood memories Narcissa Malfoy, nee Black, would find amusing and appropriate. She is venomous as any serpent, for all her fairness of face; she is Bellatrix's sister and Sirius's cousin. ("None of the Blacks ever amounted to anything," Cornelius Fudge said. "The boy, the man, is poison, his brother was the same. Like rats." But that was years ago and besides Sirius is dead.) The boy catches Remus staring and stares back, the cool arch of an eyebrow Sirius never mastered. Remus turns away. He knows better than to want what he can't have.

Narcissa makes a show of leaving, smoothing the silk of her robes, holding Remus's hand a little too long. She is Sirius's heir, after Bellatrix, and Sirius would hate that, even more than he hated the house. She whispers to him that she'll write, that she thinks they can reach an agreement. ("A mutually beneficial accord," she called it; Remus didn't know what that meant and he didn't care. He couldn't think of anything he and Narcissa would agree about.) Tonks packs a scowling Harry off; Molly Weasley gathers her chicks, Albus hugs Remus before he Floos.

The house is useless to the Order without Sirius, and so, he suspects, is Remus. But he has nowhere else to go. He is still there a fortnight later, when Bellatrix comes to evict him. She was a beauty once -- is a beauty still. (Azkaban had left its mark on her as it had on Sirius, but there is beauty in the ruin of beauty.) He can see Sirius in her, and he can see the boy, the promise of what might have been, the promise of what still might be. Remus waits for her on the stair, wand in hand, though the honor of the House of Black is too tarnished to be worth fighting for.


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