November 10, 1981
Granger Corp Headquarters, London
When Marius Granger was blasted off the family tree in 1929, he was relieved. After all, most of the Black family squibs died tragically, magical status publicly unknown.
He'd rather expected to be drowned- or maybe to break his neck in a hippogriff riding accident. Instead, his twin had offered up a rather unexpected solution.
"Father, Uncle, I would petition you for the sake of House Black," Cassiopeia had solemnly intoned as she watched the two men play Wizard's Chess in the front parlor.
Father had looked rather skeptical, but Uncle Sirius was delighted- he had no girls of his own, and considered them to be rather amusing creatures. Fortunately for Cassiopeia (and Marius too), it was Uncle Sirius's opinion who mattered.
"Oh, would you?" The Black paterfamilias quirked one dark eyebrow, and from his hidden spot beneath the stairs Marius watched his twin sister visibly straighten her back in response.
"Certainly, sir. I have discovered a beneficial use for my twin."
"The squib?" Uncle Sirius demanded, rather shocked. Most of the family spent their time pretending Marius didn't exist- it was much easier on the Black family ego.
"Yes, sir. Marius may be defective, but he is still a Black by blood. As such, he's at least better than any muggle. He's certainly smarter than any of them, don't you think?"
While Uncle Sirius looked increasingly skeptical, Father had nodded firmly at this- no child of his, squib or no, would be considered equal to- let alone below- dirty muggles. This was the exact reason that murdering his squib son on his 11th birthday would be a perfectly moral mercy killing.
"With Mother's approval I've done some study of the Black accounts, and I now believe that we could triple our fortune through muggle investments. Their markets are growing at a rate that our world cannot duplicate, even with the current economic strife they are seeing." Cassiopeia pulled a stack of parchment out from behind her back, carefully laying it on the table between the two men.
"And why would Marius be needed for these investments? Do you not believe we can manage them ourselves? What does a squib have to offer?" Uncle Sirius was outright taunting now, but his eyes were skimming over Cassiopeia's tidy handwriting hungrily.
Gold didn't talk to the Blacks- it sang. Loudly.
"I believe that with the rate of investment I am suggesting, the project would need a daily manager- someone who can seamlessly fit in with the muggles and understand their trending economics. We are Blacks, sir, and I believe we are best served by family in any position." Cassiopeia's nerves were betrayed only by the slight tapping of her foot, almost hidden by her robes. "No respectable wizarding relative of ours wants to work with muggles. Marius is the perfect fit."
They hadn't let him keep his name, of course- Uncle Sirius had stated firmly that if the family magic rejected him, he didn't deserve to be known as a Black. But his life had been his, and "Granger" had a rather nice ring to it.
After he was blasted off the family tapestry and sent away to learn how to make Muggle money for the Blacks, Marius expected to not see any of his siblings again. Here, too, he had been pleasantly surprised. Pollux may have conveniently forgotten him, but Dorea had volunteered to meet him for a "business lunch" once each quarter to review accounts (and gossip about the rest of the family), and Cassiopeia…. Well.
His twin sister had never failed to respond to his letters, and her house elf had invited first him and later his whole family to France for a visit the second week of June each year (attempts to schedule this visit for different dates had always been met with a strangely frantic deferral to the next year on part of the house elf). His own invitations for her to visit for holidays or family gatherings or even their shared birthday had, however, always been firmly rejected.
The repeated rejections bothered his wife to the point that Agnes had complained quite loudly about it after downing several cups of eggnog one Christmas. "Honestly, she's skipped all the children's christenings, and she doesn't have the decency to pop in on a holiday even- she's as much of a snob as your older brother!"
Marius had laughed aloud at the very thought that Pollux and Cassiopeia had anything other than eye color in common. "You don't understand, Aggie. Cass would never say a word about it, but she's really had to give up quite a lot for my sake."
Agnes Granger nee Selwyn was a muggle, but her father had been a squib, so she often understood Marius's childhood traumas better than he himself did. However, her father had not been a twin, and some Pureblood elitist stigmas surrounding a Squib's family had not been explained to her.
"Squibs among the old families are rare, and no one actually knows what they're caused by. My father was a firm believer in the concept of "blocked magic", which means that a squib has a magical core but can't access it. This is actually a fairly progressive theory, by pureblood standards." Progressive, but brutal- Marius quite intentionally left out the fact that the purebloods who believed in the block also believed it could be 'shocked' into oblivion if a squib child was sufficiently threatened. Marius himself had been dangled out of no less than 20 windows by his father.
"My mother, on the other hand, was more traditional. She believed, as does most of the rest of the Sacred 28, that squibs are the result of a curse on the pregnancy. That theory explains away the fact that one child could be magically powerful and the next magicless." It also allowed his slightly self-centered mother to spend hours moaning over her own misfortunes rather than those of her children.
"Pretty much all purebloods also believe that twins, especially identical twins, share their magic freely between them. Even non identical twins like Cass and I should have been able to support one another's casting if we were both magical- it's something about the joint womb experience."
Agnes looked skeptical. "A baby's magic is strong enough to merge with their womb-mate while they still have a tail?"
"First of all, points for saying womb-mate because that is an absolutely awful pun. Secondly, yes. Magic apparently makes twin fetal development a lot more, well…. makes it a much more shared experience." Marius gave her his best really-I'm-not-the-nerdy-twin-don't-ask-me shrug before continuing. "So pretty much every member of the Sacred 28 thinks that Cass and I shared literally every magical trauma- and by that I mean theoretical curse- and because of that she's presumed to be tainted."
"But she has magic- so how is she tainted? Admittedly she is the swottiest person I've ever met, but that seems more like a curse on everyone who makes the mistake of asking her about her latest research."
Marius threw a pillow at his wife. "Be glad she only held you hostage in the lab for four hours, Aggie dear, it could have been much worse I assure you."
Agnes muttered something into her eggnog that sounded suspiciously like, "Five more minutes and I'd be dead of boredom."
Marius released a much put upon sigh. "Anyways, wife- the general population's belief is that the curse took my magic but that it will take her children's magic. Cass knew she wouldn't be allowed to court, or get married, or have children the very second I was publicly declared a squib."
There were other consequences, too, but Marius had never gotten around to sharing them with his wife as Agnes (now more than just "several" cups of eggnog deep) had promptly burst into sympathetic tears for her least favorite sister-in-law. Things like dealing with their mother's spite, and being considered an undesirable mistress by the house elves, and having to handle a rather unfortunate amount of teasing about his existence from other Hogwarts students.
No, Marius didn't begrudge Cassiopeia's choice to stay in France one bit, and he had long since come to terms with her choice to avoid English soil on all but the most required of occasions (mostly funerals). He didn't expect to ever see her set foot in his home, let alone visit Granger Corporation (which had been built entirely based on her early models).
Therefore it was quite the shock when one perfectly average Wednesday morning, his secretary popped her head through the door and said, "Mr. Granger, a Miss Cassiopeia Black just arrived in the lobby and is requesting you personally. Should I send her in?"
"A Miss Cassiopeia Black is in the lobby, should I send her in?"
"I'm sorry Komal, one more time?"
Komal, who had been hired for her sharp tongue and brilliant wit but not for possessing a single iota of patience, glared at him through narrowed brown eyes. "A woman just walked into the lobby," she said, extremely slowly and loudly, "Her name is Cassiopeia Black. Cassiopeia Black, the woman in the lobby, would like to see you. Would you like me to bring her back?"
"Oh yes, please do Komal, right away." Marius said somewhat numbly, still starting at the much younger woman in shock. Komal heaved a sigh, shooting him a look that screamed, "you can hardly say right away when you aren't listening to me you idiot" and also "you seem more insane than normal, I am totally calling your wife" before leaving the room.
In less than two minutes- certainly not enough time for Marius to compose himself or even begin to imagine why on earth Cassiopeia could possibly have come to visit- Komal had reappeared with guest in tow.
Well, she certainly looked like Cassiopeia, though he couldn't quite imagine Cassiopeia picking out that clearly muggle blazer with structured shoulders and large golden buttons. Body snatchers?
"Can I get you anything to drink before I go?"
"No, thank you, we'll be fine." Ok, the voice was definitely correct, but that didn't rule out something inane like polyjuice.
Komal nodded politely and closed the door behind her with one last narrow glanced reminder for Marius to pull himself together.
"Bonjour, little brother."
The familiar taunt snapped him out of it. "I'm not even a minute younger than you, as you well know."
Cassiopeia waved a hand dismissively. "Facts are facts, Marius, don't argue." She glanced around the room, wandering over to the bookshelf to poke at a decorative set of potions vials that Marius's daughter had insisted made a better vase. "You know, I'd be willing to bet this isn't quite what Pip imagined you'd use these for when she sent them."
"Your house elf is pretty rubbish at picking birthday gifts, you know." Marius laughed, and gestured for Cassiopeia to sit down in one of the two hunter green wing back chairs in front of his desk. "Is this a social visit then?"
Immediately Marius's mind jumped to the hundreds of thousands of galleons that Granger Corp could rake in if Cassiopeia was brought on board as a head researcher. They could break into wizarding markets in a matter of days! Imagine, the Black family squib taking over the-!
A bit squeakily, "Business?"
"Why else would I come to your actual workplace, Marius? Now you'll need to see- oh, bother. Pip!"
It had been too many years since Marius last lived with house elves for him to avoid flinching when the old elf popped into existence by Cassiopeia's shoulder. "Missy Cassiopeia is forgetting her briefcase again."
"Hello there, Pip," Marius saluted the house elf jovially, getting a look nearly as quelling as Komal's in return.
"Missy's brother has precisely 49 minutes left to agree to everything Missy Cassiopeia is telling him before our next appointment," Pip warned, and quickly began pulling stacks of newspapers and scribbled on parchments from the magically expanded case that Cassiopeia had apparently forgotten wherever she was coming from.
It took 30 of Pip's carefully allotted minutes for Cassiopeia to explain the current state of family affairs.
"What? Dorea's boy is dead?" Marius gaped, only to have his jaw nearly hit the desk when Cassiopeia described Sirus's involvement. "Surely not! Dorea said that Sirius put frog spawn in Pollux's tea- I refuse to believe he's anything other than good!"
Cygnus's daughters' actions didn't particularly surprise him, but he did let out several, "Morgana! Did they really?"'s that left Cassiopeia huffing impatiently.
"Honestly Marius, do you even know what a newspaper is? Pip, please ensure my brother begins getting a proper newspaper immediately."
With only 19 minutes left to explain what she needed, Cassiopeia cut straight to the point. "Anyways Marius, I'll need to borrow your family for Isla and I's redemption plan."
"Your family. I need to borrow them. Probably permanently, which I suppose is a bit more than a loan, but-,"
"Why on earth do you need my family?" Marius demanded, smashing one palm on the desk impatiently. Neither woman or house elf flinched.
"Rule one of a good PR campaign Marius- convince them you care about their cause. And what's more politically Light right now than a Squib, his muggle child, and his Muggleborn granddaughter?"