Title: Obsidian's Desire
Disclaimer: J. K. Rowling and associates own these characters. I am writing this story for fun and not profit.
Pairing: Harry/Marcus Flint
Content Notes: Angst, referenced torture, brief violence, present tense, humor, courtship
Wordcount: This part 4700
Summary: Marcus Flint doesn't really know what to do with his life after his father dies; his father always told him what to do. So he consults a piece of obsidian, and it directs him to Harry Potter. And, well, Potter has friends, but he doesn't have a husband…
Author's Notes: This is one of my "From Litha to Lammas" fics being posted between the summer solstice and the first of August. It will have two parts, the second to be posted tomorrow.
Marcus sighs in relief when he finally finds the heavy black tome on a shelf at the very back of his father's library. This particular room was always off limits when Julius Flint was alive, and Marcus didn't know where the book was. He blows off dust and opens it. For a moment, the pages flicker as though jaws are going to snap at him, but then the book falls still.
Marcus travels slowly through the pages, looking at each one thoroughly. Contrary to what everyone thinks, he's not stupid, but nor is he a fast reader.
He finds what he's looking for near the middle of the book, after he's been in the library long enough for his house-elf to bring him a lunch of ham sandwiches and butterbeer (Marcus is a man of simple tastes). The ritual is simple, which is a relief. Marcus has no patience for the kind of fussy nonsense that some wizards call rituals, circle that and pentagram this and run around the room in a widdershins direction three times, except when you're supposed to switch to sunwise.
This ritual just requires a pristine piece of obsidian, which Marcus has already seen among his father's Potions ingredients, and a silver bowl of pure water. Marcus has the bowl, and his elf, Reginald, will know where to get the water.
Marcus smiles and calls Reginald to fetch the bowl and the water. Soon he'll know the answers to his questions and can stop with all this thinking that makes his head hurt.
The ritual takes place outside at the full moon. Marcus waits patiently in the center of his grounds, near a place that earlier Flint generations marked with a huge obsidian boulder. Just like the piece of obsidian in the ritual. Marcus takes that for a good sign.
When the moon sparkles down into the silver bowl of water, Marcus drops the piece of obsidian into it. A black spark of light comes up. Marcus sits down and looks, seeing what can be seen in the face of the moon.
Inky darkness tumbles across it, as if the obsidian is bleeding, and then resolves into a tangle of black hair. Marcus frowns thoughtfully. The hair looks almost familiar, but he's not sure. He's not sure about a lot of things, though, so he just waits.
Then the silver water seems to gather itself, and a pale face forms beneath the hair, with—green eyes.
Marcus might still not recognize him, because it's been seven years since he saw him in person, but the bright scar is there as a jagged line on the forehead, darker there than it is in reality. Marcus thinks, anyway.
Marcus sits back with a surprised huff, and the vision in the bowl of water disappears. The piece of obsidian floats back to the surface, and Marcus palms it and tucks it in his pocket while he thinks about things.
He always thinks through them, in the end.
In this case, it takes him a week.
There's realistically only one place that he can occupy in Potter's life, Marcus decides after a while. Potter has plenty of friends. He had mentors, but they all died, and he probably wouldn't welcome another one. If Potter was a Dark Lord, well, problem solved, Marcus would just go and ask for his Mark, but he isn't and Marcus can't. And Potter can defend himself well enough that he wouldn't like having a bodyguard around all the time.
There's the boyfriend position, but Marcus disdains such an impermanent tie. His father was engaged to his mother from their second date. Marcus is going to be Harry Potter's husband, a formal position.
Of course, he doesn't know if Potter will want to date him. He only dated a Gryffindor and a Ravenclaw at school. But Marcus knows that Potter will have done some growing up since the war, and he hasn't been with anyone—at least, that the Prophet reported—for over a year now. There's at least the chance Marcus can ask.
If Potter rejects him, Marcus will try a few other things. But he will at least propose the formal marriage that would mean protection for everyone Potter cares about. If one of his friends gets a snide paragraph written about them in the paper by Skeeter? Marcus can threaten Skeeter. And there's the Flint family name and wealth that can be piled in behind him.
Once, that fortune had to be distributed among a lot of people, but Marcus's father, grandfather, and great-grandfather were all only children. His mother's family doesn't want anything to do with him, or anyone who had relatives among the Death Eaters. Marcus is all right with that. Other than sometimes sending him expensive gifts when he was a toddler, they haven't wanted anything to do with him in years.
But Marcus won't know anything until he asks Potter, and there are traditional ways of doing that. First, he's going to send an owl.
Potter looks at him with a cool, assessing gaze that impresses Marcus. He's sure that he never saw it when they were at Hogwarts. On the other hand, most of the time they were at Hogwarts, he was in an entirely separate House and classes from Potter, or screaming at him from across a Quidditch pitch. Not a good way to see someone's eyes up close, that.
"Shall we sit down?" Potter asks after a second of them standing on either side of the small round table in the back of the private dining room at Le Chateau. The Flint name has lost some of the pull it once had, but Marcus's glares haven't.
"Sure." Marcus watches closely as Potter tugs his chair out roughly and sits. Not used to having someone else do it for him, then. That's promising. It means that Marcus has yet something else he can offer Potter.
"I was surprised to get your owl," Potter continues, leaning forwards over the table and clasping his hands on it. Marcus notes both the elbows on the table and the silent buzz of extreme power that seems to surround Potter, a kind of dormant power, as if he doesn't know it's there or is committed to not using it. That makes it easier to believe that Potter died and came back.
"Why? I was clear in my owl."
Potter pauses for a long moment, long enough for the menu to form in between them on shining crystal panes that split the table in half. Marcus idly glances at the selections. He already knows what he wants.
"You mean the owl wasn't—in code or a joke?"
"No," Marcus says, frowning a little. "Why would it be?"
"Because—" Potter sprawls back in his chair and runs his hand through his thick dark hair. He could use some new shampoo, Marcus thinks. And it would look better if he let it grow. "You can't seriously think that I'm looking for a husband."
Marcus shrugs. "A lot of our kind get married young, so I wouldn't be surprised. And if you're not, we can put off the wedding for a few years." It's the betrothal he wants, the formal arrangement that guarantees him security and a leader to follow.
"Wizards. Did someone cast a Confundus Charm on you when you came through the Floo, Potter?"
Potter puts his hand over his eyes. "I just thought—you wouldn't refer to me as your kind. What with me not being a pureblood and all."
"Oh." Marcus shakes his head. "Blood purity has always been less important to my family than power, Potter. And you've got power oozing off you." He studies the buzz around Potter again. "It's really attractive."
"It's—" Potter was starting to take his hand down from his eyes, but now he puts it back again. "Flint, you can't just say things like that."
"Who's going to stop me? And are you going to choose the thing you want off the menu so the damn thing will disappear?"
"I don't want anything to eat, and besides, I can't read French."
"Well, you can share some of mine, then." Marcus traces the tip of his wand along his selection, and the menu gives a wink like a star blinking out and disappears. "Anyway, you could stop me from saying things like that, if you want. You can just tell me not to, and then I won't."
"Does that mean that you'll give up on this ridiculous courting offer, as well?"
Marcus frowns. "I'll let you know, Potter, that a lot of people would be very happy that someone was offering to court them. I mean, you might have lots of offers, I don't know. But courting is very respectful."
"As opposed to throwing someone over your shoulder and running off with them to your common room?"
"A house, not a common room. That's where we used to take abducted spouses. You can't have the first joining happen in the middle of a common room. That's way too public." Marcus peers thoughtfully at Potter, wondering if this is a kink of his. Maybe Potter has been participating in public rituals or something of the kind.
"Flint, I was kidding." Potter shakes his head, making his hair tumble wildly over his shoulders the way it did in the image in the silver bowl. Marcus admires it. He likes that. His own hair is straight, and some people have told him it's handsome, but it's a lot lanker than Potter's. "I can't—I don't want to marry you."
"Well, not right now, of course. The idea is too new. But are you going to refuse my courting offer?"
Potter sends him a baffled look. "Why would you think that I'd take it?"
"You haven't rejected it yet." Marcus grins at Potter and props his elbow on the table to flex his bicep a little, testing a theory. Yes, Potter's eyes rest on it, which at least says that he doesn't prefer witches to the exclusion of wizards. "Are you afraid to do it or something? I mean, I'd send another one, and I'd keep trying to convince you to let me court you, but I wouldn't try to kill you right here."
Marcus lifts his eyebrows. "I like your sense of humor. That's attractive, too."
Potter coughs, and jumps a little as their plates pop up in the middle of the table. "Is that snails?"
"Escargot," Marcus says, and thinks about picking up some from his plate to feed it to Potter. No, that's probably too soon. "Try it. Maybe you won't like it, but then you can at least say that you don't like it the next time someone asks you."
Potter accepts some, looking entirely bewildered. "Look, no one has ever offered to court me before. I didn't even know what it meant until I looked it up in a book. I didn't know what was the best way to reject it. And I don't know why you would be interested in me anyway."
"You don't think I know power and beauty when I see it?" Marcus rolls his eyes. "Come on, Potter. I know I'm not the most intelligent person in the world, but no one could fail to see what you are."
"People sure did for years at school."
Marcus studies Potter. He didn't know Potter would take that rejection so personally. He always kept going and defeated a basilisk and sort of won the Tournament when they scorned him, after all, and he survived the Dark Lord's resurrection. Marcus doesn't think he could have done that.
It's a new realization. He just hasn't compared himself directly to Potter very much. But it makes him all the more certain that his decision to court Potter is the right one.
"Well, I wouldn't do that to you," Marcus says, and pops a snail into his mouth. It's delicious. "Besides, why wouldn't you just reject the courtship offer outright if you wanted to?"
Potter frowns at him. "It's really none of your business."
"My family doesn't hold that much power now," Marcus persists, enjoying the annoyed look Potter gives him. "And you don't owe us a favor the way that some people could argue you owed the Malfoys."
"No, I don't owe you anything." Potter's eyes glint as he leans forwards across the table. "I could get up and walk out of this restaurant right now, and the damage would be to your reputation, not mine. People would assume that you said something to offend me or something like that, and they would mutter about you behind your back, and some of them wouldn't want to do business with you."
Marcus laughs aloud, delighted. From the wary expression on Potter's face, he wasn't supposed to respond that way. Marcus toasts Potter with his buttery hand and grins. "It's good to see that you're taking advantage of the power that you ignored all the time you were in school."
Potter frowns and doesn't say anything for a second. Then he asks, "Seriously, Flint, why me? There are purebloods you could court."
"I already told you. You're attractive and powerful and you have a sense of humor I like."
"But there should be more important things when it comes to someone you'll spend the rest of your life with."
Potter falters for a second, as if he can't believe that Marcus isn't leaping at the chance to abandon him. Then he straightens his shoulders and says, "Money. Bloodlines. How much good they can do you in the world. The—"
"You don't believe in that bollocks, Potter, and I know you don't." Marcus picks up a piece of the crusty baguette that's appeared next to the escargot and reaches for some of the sopping garlic butter. "You're just mumbling the kinds of things that you think purebloods ought to find attractive."
"I'm not mumbling!"
"Sure you are. I could offer you elocution lessons if you want them."
Potter stares at him, and for a second, Marcus thinks he might get up and storm out the door. And then, incredibly, he laughs and leans back in his chair, tossing his head a little as if he thinks that will make him more attractive.
It does, of course. Marcus thinks that there's not much that won't make him attractive. Not that he'll let Potter know that right away. It would give him too many indications of his own power.
"Say that I permit this courtship to go ahead for a little while," Potter says, and finally reaches for one of the snails. "What will you do next? Are you going to send me a contract, or formal gifts, or some promise to smite my enemies, or what?"
Marcus perks up, because he knows which of those options he'd like best. "Which enemies would you like me to smite?"
Potter blinks. "It's an example, Flint. I don't have any enemies I can think of."
Marcus rolls his eyes, because that's just an example of Potter not applying his native intelligence to the real world. "Come on, Potter. The Death Eaters who are still at large? The Lestranges? Fenrir Greyback? Of course they want to kill you, and the Ministry hasn't shown that much success at capturing them."
Potter looks at him strangely. "The Ministry captured the Lestranges last month."
"Those turned out to be two Obliviated fools under Polyjuice guise," Marcus says. He makes an impatient gesture when the strange look continues. "Come on, the Ministry only admitted it on the back page of the Prophet last week, but they still had to admit it. Don't you pay attention to news of your enemies?"
"I don't read the Prophet all the way through. It's so rarely worth it."
Marcus grunts in agreement, but he's already seeing how his role in Potter's life might shape up. He can be the strong left hand that defends him against those enemies he'd probably prefer to ignore. "Do you mean me to find the Lestranges and take care of them?"
"It would be dangerous for you."
Marcus just wants to make sure he's heard right, but Potter seems to take it as an insult. He leans forwards, his eyes blazing, and his power surges out around him, draping the table like a giant's hand for a second. "Yes, for you," he bites out. "You might be a Slytherin, sure, you're probably skilled at Dark Arts, I don't know for sure. But you're only a couple years older than I am. The Lestranges are Death Eaters."
"I'm touched you care," Marcus says, and lets his hand rest for a second on Potter's arm. He really is. It bodes very well for the future. "But one thing you need to realize is that I can take these idiots."
"Why? Don't take this the wrong way, Flint, but you were known for brute strength at Hogwarts, not—deeper pursuits."
"You can say it," Marcus says, unoffended. "I'm not smart. But I can give you what you need that you might not get from other people."
Potter closes his eyes, then stands. "I—I appreciate the offer, Flint, but I really can't have anyone else risking their lives in my name." He snatches a crust of the baguette and turns to leave, then pauses. "How many Galleons do I owe you for the meal?"
"Please, Potter. This is my treat. A small enough thing to do for sending you a courtship offer that you'd apparently rather not continue in the first place."
"I didn't say that." Potter's voice is subdued, but Marcus manages to hear him anyway, and every nerve in his body twangs like a cut hamstring.
"Then what are you saying?"
Potter gives him a look as conflicted as his heart probably is, and leaves him there.
As far as Marcus is concerned, he's on probation. That means he might have a chance to win Potter's heart, but he has to do something spectacular to prove his intentions.
And he'd like to. Potter's attractive, and he seems to have at least the same amount of compassion for Marcus that he'd have for anyone else who might try to confront the Lestranges. That's better than a lot of the arranged marriage partners Marcus might be facing if his father was still alive.
So the first courting gift is going to be finding the Lestranges. Bringing them to Potter alive if he possibly can. If it were anyone else, he'd bring their heads, but Marcus is sure Potter is a bit more modern than some purebloods.
Which is why he's waiting here outside Knockturn Alley, his hood pulled up over his face. His father taught him charms that make the ones Unspeakables use to disguise themselves look clumsy. No one is approaching him, which is normal for Knockturn Alley. Marcus watches people come and go.
He can be patient when he wants to. He just didn't need to be, in school, except when he had to repeat his seventh year and his father threatened him with worse than expulsion if he didn't sit down and study. And now he blends into the background and memorizes the faces of people who come and go.
Marcus isn't smart, maybe. But he understands Death Eaters and blood purists from the outside in, and there are needs those people have. If the Lestranges don't show themselves tonight, Marcus will see people who have those same needs, and can lead him to the places they might be found.
He quickly identifies the shabby little building near the center of the Alley, just one among other dilapidated buildings and brothels and pubs and apothecaries. Except that it has too many people who aren't hags coming into it, and it doesn't admit the werewolves and other creatures Marcus can see skulking around, and when he drifts silently closer, he can make out the symbol of the black skull with shining red eyes above the door.
Marcus thinks about coming back tomorrow, but why should he? The traffic is decreasing a little as evening comes on, and he has the location he needs. And Potter is right that he's more known for brute force than anything subtle.
That doesn't have to be a bad thing, of course.
Marcus draws his wand and strides through the front door. He receives a confused, shifting impression of shadows, jungles, statues with sharp teeth, someone reaching for him with long fingernails, but precisely because he's not the sort of person who would have to seek out this place on a regular basis, he shakes off the attempts at mind control. In the end, he's walking through a large, grimy room with black basins sunk in the floor here and there, and his wand aimed at the large piece of tree trunk off to one side.
"I need information," he says.
The tree ripples, and a shadowy, nymph-like form emerges. It's slender, and parts of it roll under the skin as if it's not sure what it wants to be. Marcus knows that it's neither male nor female, but becomes the most desirable form as seen by those who deal with it.
Marcus holds his Occlumency shields high and ready, and in the end, the creature bows its head and says, "I deal in the presence of Darkness, not secrets."
Marcus just nods. This is a place where those who practice the Dark Arts so often they become addicted come to bathe in that presence and shore up the cracks in their souls. They don't have to pay anything because their basking inadvertently feeds the creature in front of him.
Marcus doesn't have that weakness, though, so what he says next doesn't cost him anything personal. "And I deal in fire."
The creature hisses and recoils. It seems to be shrinking under the cloak of shadows, but Marcus knows it isn't. Part of it is shielded in the tree, which is ancient, petrified wood, and could resist the flames better. "You dare!"
The creature pauses as if considering him, probably trying to read how Dark he is on his aura. Then it says, "I don't believe you."
Marcus turns around and shoots a firebolt at the nearest black stone basin sunken into the floor. There's a long wail as his spell connects, and not only the basin but the air around it sunders and burns. When it's gone—after a spell of shrieking from the creature that makes Marcus want to plug his ears—there's still a smear there that seems like the negative of moonlight. Nothing this steeped in Dark Arts can resist fire, either the light of it or the purifying effects.
"But you are Dark." The creature sounds confused and dazed as it stares at him, its claws curling in on its hands.
"Not your kind of Darkness." Marcus deals in blood, not Dark Arts. "I need names. Rabastan and Rodolphus Lestrange. Where are they?"
"Let me get this straight."
Potter's voice is stilted, full of conflicting emotions. Marcus smiles. That's all right. He's going to give Potter the chance to absorb the sight of the Lestrange brothers lying senseless on his doorstep, while Marcus stands behind them.
And if the moment that passes also gives Marcus a chance to let the ringing in his head subside and his ear stop bleeding, well, that's his business, isn't it?
"You went after the Lestranges after I specifically told you not to—"
"No, you said they were Death Eaters, and I said I could take them, and you said I was stupid. You were wrong."
Potter drags his hand down his face and stares at the Lestranges again. Marcus follows his gaze and wonders what the bloke's worried about. Yes, they're both smeared with ashes and the like, but they're alive.
"It looks like Rodolphus has a broken leg."
"Yeah, he came after me and I conjured a snake to trip him."
"And—Rabastan's left arm is gone."
"I had to rip it off. But I cauterized it."
Potter stares at him with a pointed look, or what Marcus has the feeling is supposed to be a pointed look. He doesn't know where it's coming from or what's inspiring it. He settles for smiling hopefully back, and ignores the people peering out of their windows around Potter's small cottage in Hogsmeade. He didn't do this for them.
He did it for the man who still hasn't rejected his courtship offer, despite all his haughty words about how he should, and who is staring at the Lestrange brothers now with an expression that's even harder to read. Marcus finally has to ask. "Do you want me to turn them over to the Aurors?"
"Of course! Why did you bring them here in the first place?"
"So you could see that I was the one who captured them, of course. Having someone else capture them isn't much of a courting gift."
"We aren't courting."
"Then you should send me a formal rejection." Marcus folds his arms, and watches the way Potter's eyes trace along his biceps. A smug victory dance would be out of place in public, so he doesn't do it, but he feels a quiet satisfaction. He knew Potter wasn't as exclusive as the Daily Prophet was implying he was, by always sighing over "which witch" has "captured the Savior's heart."
Potter can like both. The way he stared at Oliver Wood during Quidditch practices that the Slytherins watched certainly implied it.
"I don't have to." Potter's voice sounds a little distant, and then he snaps his eyes away from Marcus's arms and back to his face, flushing.
"Look all you like, Potter." Marcus flexes this time. "It's all for you."
"You're a barbarian."
"A fit barbarian. And yes, you have to send me a formal rejection, or you're allowing the courtship to continue. Until the point where one of us says that's enough, and we have to make the final rejection—which means we can't even be friends afterwards—or we have to accept that we're getting married."
"How many gifts do you send me before we say that's enough?"
"I don't know."
"What?" Potter's eyes shine at him from behind his glasses, which Marcus can't wait to remove when he snogs him.
"You're the one who makes the decision." Marcus shrugs and steps back, turning a little, so that Potter can admire his arse. He might say all he likes that he doesn't care about that, but his eyes are lingering. "I mean, there are people who say it's bad form to reject the courtship right after an expensive gift or after seven of them, but that's just a lot of old fussy etiquette. There are no formal rules except I give you gifts, you make up your mind, and then you reject me or you accept me."
Potter stares at him. "And you won't take back the courtship gifts."
"I'm not letting these gits out of Azkaban." Marcus gestures at the Lestranges. "Rabastan almost burned my head off."
"I told you they were too dangerous—"
"Does it look like I needed your warning?"
Potter's eyes go indecisively back to the space where Rabastan's left arm should be. "No," he admits.
"Then assume I know what I'm doing." Marcus winks at him. "Enjoy your gift." He turns around and Disapparates. Potter is a bit wrongfooted with him right now, a bit lost in his thinking about what he should do, and a bit dazzled.
Marcus knows how to quit while he's ahead.