It was Hayden who began to distribute the pictures, spreading them all over the table. If it had been any other situation, he would have found the looks on their faces hilarious. It ranged from confusion to blanching to out right disgust. Some of the photos were rather…a horrific sight to see.
cleft palates in children.
Pictures of elongated heads.
Clubbed footed children.
On and on the pictures were spread out for them to see, making sure to save the worst for last, clubbed feet and rather horrendous looking beings. Some were moving, colour pictures from what looks to be the magical circus. Arcturus, Sirius, Hesper and Melania looked ready to be sick just viewing the pictures.
"Enough," Sirius stated firmly, glancing to the side, unable to stomach looking at another picture of such an unfortunate child. "Tell us what this is about, now. Before I lose my patience with both of you!" he really shouldn't be speaking to a Lord that way, but he couldn't help himself. He was very angry to be brought here to see this.
"Every single one of those children have one thing in common," Hayden informed the elder Black's. Staring then straight in the eye, his face more serious than they'd ever seen it. "All these problem stem from one thing, and one thing only." Putting the last of the pictures down, making a pointed statement with it.
"Are you looking for a donation?" Sirius asked, perplexed, wondering if that's what all this was, and at this time of night too. He knew he was wrong even as he said it, but nothing else made any sense whatsoever. Why else would he be showing these pictures of these unfortunate souls?
"No, Mr. Black, I'm not," Hayden said with a small sympathetic smile, he knew he was going to hurt them all with this news. Shake their very beliefs to the foundations and make them question everything they'd ever known. "However, it is important to Orion that you know as soon as possible."
"It's Sirius," he groused, there were so many Mr. Black's that he'd never been comfortable with that title. He liked Lord Black of course, since there was only ever one of them. He wasn't Lord Black anymore, so preferred those close to him to call him Sirius. As tiresome as this conversation was…he rather liked the young Peverell Lord and hoped to bring the families close together. Who wouldn't want an alliance with the Peverell family?
Hayden inclined his head, removing his wand, "I, Hayden Peverell, so do swear to tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth for the next hour, on my magic I so swear, so mote it be!" magic flared to life binding Hayden to his word.
That certainly got the Elder Black's attentions, as they straightened at the sworn oath.
Orion just smirked a little, he was growing used to just how unpredictable Hayden liked to be. He was thoroughly charmed by him without even meaning to be. Shaking off his thoughts, this definitely wasn't the time or the place for getting lost in thought.
"This, all these problems are all a result of inbreeding," Orion said, steeling himself for the inevitable protestations. "Of brothers and sisters, of cousins marrying to preserve the bloodlines."
Sirius scoffed, "Nonsense, we've been doing it for years and there's been no problems…like that!" gesturing wildly to the pictures, he then began to turn over the pictures. He wasn't heartless, those pictures were just downright awful to see. No, something else caused them, of that he had no doubt. None of his family displayed any of those signs at all.
"Magic prevents the worst of it," Hayden continued on relentlessly, despite the quite understandable denials. "There are a lot more problems that come with inbreeding that aren't exactly photographable." Allowing him to turn the pictures over, without qualms.
"Up to including, Cryptorchidism, where the testes don't drop down into the scrotum," Hayden told them causing Arcturus and Sirius to shift uncomfortably at the mere mention of them. Hayden had to bite his lip to stop himself laughing, honestly, and Melania flushed a little while Hesper remained unperturbed. "Infertility, witches that cannot birth healthy children, or more than one, the inability to have children full stop. Immune system problems that result in deaths of children when their systems can't fight of something simple like an infection. More importantly…result in squibs, low magical cores…and the disappearance of magical gifts."
The Elder Blacks inhaled sharply, shock blooming on their features as they shook their heads, it couldn't be. They were quite quickly forcefully reminded of the fact Hayden had sworn and oath on his magic.
"A magical tribe is a primary example of that, the Hippogriff people, they marry from the same pool over and over again and it's resulted in feet that resemble birds' feet with limbs fused onto their toes." Orion added, showing the information he'd gathered on that 'tribe' which wasn't much but enough to prove their point.
"When I saw your portrait gallery…I realized one other glaring distinction as well." Hayden told them softly, they were reeling in shock. "Your lives are becoming significantly shorter, Black wizards and witches back in the day lived over one hundred years old, three hundred was the oldest I noticed…even Muggles are outliving you, you're lucky now to see your sixtieth birthday. The inbreeding is affecting your longevity. How 'powerful' you are doesn't dictate a longer life, the inbreeding causes you medical problems that prevent it."
"All purebloods are affected the same way; they're marrying too closely into their own families. Ours is worse because of our penchant for marrying our cousins." Orion told them, grey eyes filled with fear, pure unadulterated fear. Not only for his life, how it might turn out, but also for the future generations of the Black family. Whether they could save themselves or if they were doomed to extinction.
"This cannot be…" Sirius shook his head, pale and aged beyond his years in a few short moments.
"Do you know where Muggle-borns sprung from? Why they suddenly started appearing a century ago?" Hayden continued on.
"What do Mudbloods have to do with this?" Arcturus spat the word out as if it was filthy.
Hayden laughed; it was almost on the cusp of derisive but not quite. "You never wondered why they began popping up? Just after Wizardkind began to become more civilised? Stopped murdering their squib children? Instead began sending them to orphanages in the Muggle world? You're just insulting old blood, families that have long since died out being brought back again when magic makes a reappearance." His tone sardonic as he stared at the four Elder Black's with vindication.
"No, no that cannot be…" Arcturus shook his head, veering back as if he'd been slapped. His brother Marius primarily on his mind.
"Magic is in our DNA, two Muggles cannot produce a magical offspring, magic has to dormant just waiting for someone compatible, strong enough to wield it to come along from a squib line." Hayden declared, "Lumos! Still telling the truth here." He added, staring them down.
Arcturus swallowed thickly, "Just because you believe it to be true, doesn't mean it's the truth." He pointed out, but it was weak and brittle the point. Part of Arcturus believed in what Hayden was saying. It made a significant amount of more sense than anything else ever had.
"Very true, truth is a matter of perspective," Hayden agreed, inclining his head, it was true enough. "Which is why I didn't come unprepared, now just so you know I had nothing to do with evidence gathering. I'm afraid I…allowed my opinion to be known when Orion mentioned his betrothal to his cousin. It wasn't meant to cause offence." Having to be careful how he worded things here.
"I met with Otto Hooch and got everything you see here copied," Orion took over, letting the scrolls with the family trees to roll across the table. "These are family trees of the Egyptian royal families, both Wizardkind and Muggle. Notice anything about them?"
"Wait, Otto Hooch? Ha! Now I realize why those eyes were familiar!" Hayden said grinning despite the severity of the conversation. He was used to getting what happiness he could during hard times.
Orion just shook his head, fondness clearly written across his features.
"They're shorter, than this one," Melania noticed, her manicured index finger tapping on the copied parchment.
"Yes, the inbreeding affects Muggles much quicker, the circle goes around much more swiftly." Hayden nodded enthusiastically. "Magic seems to curtail the most obvious signs, either that or the fact you don't always marry cousins and sometimes let new blood into the family is preventing your entire line to die out."
"It probably is," Orion agreed, glancing at the tapestry.
Hayden turned to see what Orion was looking at, and his eyes widened, "Merlin are those the ones with Metamorphamagus abilities?" the hair on their face portraits were going various colours continuously like multicoloured lights. "Oh, that is neat!" stepping closer utterly mesmerised by what he was seeing. Had it died out or was it just not taken care of and that disgusting he hadn't noticed it in Grimmauld Place?
"I'm surprised you've heard of that ability, let alone that it's ours," Orion confessed, "It's so rare for it to pop up."
Hayden turned around and spoke, "And I can guarantee you that if you stop marrying your own blood the next generation will be…inundated with the family gifts. Or will it be the next again generation? Either way trust me…you'll be bringing back the gifts and better yet…become more magically inclined. Do you know Orion and Melania are the strongest here besides me?"
"What?" Sirius and Hesper asked indignantly, staring at Hayden in dismay.
"In terms of magical power, it's me, Orion, Melania, Hesper, Sirius then you Arcturus," Hayden explained sombrely. "The only reason I reckon, that Orion is so powerful is because Melania isn't too closely related to the Black family."
Orion couldn't help but preen, there was nothing more important to a wizard than their magical powers.
Giving the magical tapestry another look, "Does this belong to the Lord or do you have more than one?" genuine curiosity getting the better of him. He could feel the magic imbued within the tapestry. The same very strong magic that was in the book in the library.
"It follows the Lord of the estate," Sirius said proudly, standing up to explain, "Each birth is recorded upon the birth of each child and their names added magically. It was created by Orion's namesake sixteen generations ago." it was one of a kind, and the Blacks were extremely proud of it.
"Impressive," Hayden agreed, before turning back around to find Melania and Hesper digging through the articles, pictures, scrolls of family trees quiet and sombre as they did so.
"What is this? Animal husbandry?" Melania asked, noticing the book, and found herself perplexed.
"You know what Animal husbandry is?" Hayden asked, padding back over and sitting down, "It's basically the same for us, inbreeding animals causes all sort of medical problems and deformities. It's stated to always never breed animals with close relatives. DNA works the same regardless of which species we are. Then again what's the saying? We're all animals?"
"You have proof that Mudbloods are products of squib lines?" Sirius asked, pensively. His gaze moving to the tapestry, he knew each and every squib was located on that beautiful piece of magic. Including his own son Marius Black, who had been in the Muggle world with fellow squibs since he was eleven. It broke his heart to send him away, his sons had never quite forgiven him for that. He was safe there, the family had enemies and Marius was so very vulnerable to them. What sort of life would he have had in the magical world? Surrounded by people constantly performing magic and not being able to do so himself? Had his son gone on to have a magical child? Or magical grandchild that he knew nothing about?
"I will have tomorrow," Hayden told him confidently, "I'm meeting with dozens of them and performing family trees for them all. It will confirm the truth that I already know."
"Your line came from a squib line," Sirius commented leaning back looking stunned.
"My great-great-great-grandfather or something was a squib, the first-born son," Hayden told them, legally he was still a pureblood, with quite an interesting history. "I'd need to look it up I can't quite remember; I've not had a real chance to study it in greater detail like I want to. Not that it can be a surprise, you all know that the Peverell line almost ended up extinct."
"How do you know all this?" Arcturus asked, halfway through the biology book which had been bookmarked. How did they not know about this information? This was geared towards Wizardkind since it repeatedly mentioned wizards and old Wizardkind tribes.
"I read?" Hayden sassily replied.
Orion coughed, biting his tongue and glancing at the kitchen doorway. Thankfully able to muffle his laughter, not just at Hayden's sassiness but the look on his father's face.
Arcturus' face went through a range of emotions before stilling on droll.
Deciding to take pity on him, "Muggles are advancing quite well with DNA and science, you can compare it to our potions and biology. As in all things, the wizarding world copies information from the Muggle world."
Sirius straightened, "Excuse me?" insulted to the extreme.
"I mean come on, you take their trains and magically modify them. Take their buildings and create hospitals out of them. Modify their cars and use them admittedly sparingly. That's not to say you're lazy, far from it, this information in there must have taken a long time to collect. It's just a shame that it never became mainstream."
"The world was ours first," Hesper said lips pursed, "The world used to celebrate magic, revere it. Paganism was a massive culture…"
"Before Christianity came along and demonised Paganism and magic, and it's stuck to this day that it's demonic and evil." Hayden nodded, "Trust me, I don't need to be told what Muggles think of magic, I heard about it enough throughout my life." raising his hand to forestall the inevitable diatribe.
"My apologies," Hesper said quietly, subdued, shuddering at the thought of being raised by those barbaric beings.
"Muggles have a long memory; they rarely forgive and forget." Hayden sighed softly, "The wizarding world did right in hiding, there are billions more Muggles than wizards we would lose. We adapt and change with the times, its humanities greatest achievement. Remaining stagnant because you feel wronged is a waste of our potential." Unknowingly hitting on one of the biggest problems the Wizardkind faced. The anger and resentment at hiding, even if they knew it was for the best.
"It's time to stop feeling sorry for yourselves and make the wizarding world prosper like it has never done before."
Orion sat back watching all the reactions, wondering if his family was feeling the same thing, he did or if they were angry. He felt as though he could do anything, achieve everything he wanted just by being around Hayden. Not even Tom had that sort of pull, that sort of allure, maybe because they knew it was a front. Hayden's might be as well, one never really got to know someone entirely until you've lived with them, and even then, something could happen to surprise you.
Hayden could very well become a highly paid, highly sought-after motivational speaker.
The stunned Elder Blacks just stared at the evidence sitting in front of them as if it were a ticking time bomb. Reeling over everything they'd just been told, and by such a young wizard…who had by all accounts grown up in the Muggle world.
"This has what has been bothering you?" Hesper rasped out, recalling how out of sorts her grandson had been the day after he met Hayden Peverell. "What were you expecting to happen when you told us?" just how much pressure was Orion under? How worried had he been these past days? That he felt he couldn't speak to them right away?
"Orion?" Sirius questioned sternly when his grandson didn't answer quick enough. It had been what…three days since Orion found out? Nearing it's fourth day, now that it was soon to be midnight and the start of a new day.
"I wasn't sure," Orion stated firmly, keeping his tone non-confrontational as possible. "Even I didn't want to believe it." and wouldn't have if Hayden had given him clues on where to go and what to read. He would have continued to dig until he felt he'd read everything he could. Which he had done anyway, he'd made sure of that.
"I um…I think I should go," Hayden said, feeling like he was intruding more on their grief regarding their belief. More so than their grief at the recent loss.
"No, you're always welcome here," Melania firmly told Hayden seeing the look on her son's face. He was deeply entrenched in Hayden Peverell, how far even she didn't know, her son concealed his feelings all too well even from her. It broke her heart that she couldn't gauge her own son, now he felt like he couldn't talk to them anymore.
"I need another drink…" Hesper rasped out.
"I'll get it," Melania said, "And some appropriate glasses,"
Hayden flushed, causing Orion to chuckle dryly at the red embarrassment creeping up his face.
Hayden threw Orion a look that clearly said 'shut up you' before huffing.
"So much for that debate," Arcturus bleated out, staring at the evidence in front of him. If they'd had one, he would have been soundly trounced apparently.
Hayden's head flew back as he laughed, amusement ripping through him. "We still can," he teased after calming down, a small smirk playing across his face. "I'm aware you'll probably do your own investigation regardless of the evidence in front of you. Believe me though, that your grandchildren and great grandchildren will be immensely powerful, smart, innovative and they will bring back the Black gifts, the Black legacy. Including your great, great-grandchild."
Arcturus' breathing hitched, "You have the Peverell gifts," he wasn't just the Last Peverell Male heir alive…he had at least one of the renowned gifts that Wizardkind had not forgotten. Accepting the glass of wine his wife gave him, wishing it was something much stronger.
Hayden inclined his head, "More than one," he confessed, he could feel them, just under his skin waiting. When he'd touched the Palantir he'd felt it not only calling to him but he swore he'd almost caught glimpse of an image. If he'd continued to hold on who knew what he might have seen? Then again…maybe all wizards could do the same? The Palantir's at Hogwarts hadn't felt anything remotely like that…so it was either a gift that came from being a Peverell and Mort or everyone could with those Palantir's, the Peverell brothers magic was imbued in them. "Thank you," he said as Melania handed him a glass.
The Black's all drank the new wine in big gulps, noticing that Orion wasn't the slightest bit startled. He already knew, just how close had Orion and Hayden gotten in the past few days? Just how 'close' did this 'closeness' get.
Then Arcturus and Sirius recalled the betrothal contract between Orion and Walburga and quite frankly, their faces could have resembled the ghosts at Hogwarts.
All Arcturus could think was 'Melania's really going to kill me this time'.
There we go! I hope it was all you imagined it to be :) although it wasn't as much of a debate as I would have wished but with evidence...well, there wasn't much debates to be had. So what do you think the Blacks will do next? hmm do you want to see all the rituals or just one? then jump to the next day to Tom Riddle? Or will we see more of the Blacks sudden woes with Walburga and Orion's threats to never have a child? how will that shape the Black family? Will it be too much for them? R&R please!