- *No Site Warnings Apply
- Alternate Universe
Merlin observed Amaranth at breakfast on the morning of her eleventh birthday, a fond smile curving his lips as he watched her chat happily with Sirius and Remus about their trip to Gringotts and then Diagon Alley later that day to finish picking up her school supplies now that her Hogwarts letter and supply list had arrived. She was excited to get her first wand and Heiress rings, though what the latter would look like given the various titles she would gain upon her majority, he had no idea. The various rings would be able to combine magically together, so if she just showed the Potter crest, her secret should continue to be safe until the time came to unveil it.
She was also excited to visit the Book of Souls at the Ministry, as was tradition when a young witch or wizard, regardless of background, turned eleven or first entered the Wizarding World to start at Hogwarts, whichever came first. Previously, it had just been something that pure- and half-bloods did, but as fostering and sponsoring had regained traction over the past decade, it had come to encompass children from all backgrounds, as had inheritance tests for Muggleborns at Gringotts to see if they had come from Squib lines that could then be reinstated and the funds that had merely been collecting paltry bits of interest in their vaults be rejuvenated, along with the economy. That had been one of the things the Avalon Alliance, as it had been come to be called privately amongst the group, was most proud of, as it often provided Muggleborns with a more even footing to their Wizard-born peers.
Draco had already been to the Book since he was a month older than Amaranth, and had returned from the experience quietly contemplative. Amaranth had been bursting to ask one of her favorite cousins questions about what had happened, but Narcissa had taken her aside to explain that the experience of each witch or wizard with the Book was an intensely private one, and that Draco would tell her when he felt ready. Amaranth hadn’t been pleased with the answer but understood nonetheless, as it was part of the Old Ways and Magics that made up the foundation of the Wizarding World and its society. The Book had been there long before Merlin himself had been born, and would likely be there long after any of them were long dead and buried in their family crypts.
Helping to raise Amaranth over the past nine and a half years had often an adventure. The young witch flourished under so much positive and loving attention, though the adults were careful not to spoil her too much. As she grew, she could often be found in the company of her cousins and a few others her age, though for major holidays and festivals like Yule, Samhain, and Beltane, she would make appearances at the various parties and balls held by other noble families. They would also take her to Diagon and Hogsmeade on occasion, though she was accompanied by an adult at all times just in case.
Even with Voldemort gone, there were those who would love nothing more than to either kidnap or kill his defeater. Merlin and the others had put a firm stop to that ‘Girl Who Lived’ nonsense that the press wanted to push, as well as the various books about her so-called adventures that were pure drivel. Sirius had gone after the publisher and author quite soundly the moment the books hit shelves and he was made aware of them, coming down on them like several tons of angry Hungarian Horntail.
Much to everyone’s surprise, the author was revealed as Gilderoy Lockhart using a pseudonym. The pompous idiot tried to defend his work by saying the books were marked as fiction and if people believed they were true, then that was their own fault. The books were marked as fiction, though it was in tiny print in a corner under the books’ summaries and half-hidden by price stickers. Sirius tore Lockhart and the publishers a new one, ending up with the latter paying him for reparations and the former losing a good deal of his loyal fan base and being derided as a fame-hungry hack. He eventually faded away into obscurity, only being remembered as a mediocre writer and a rather shoddy wizard.
That wasn’t the last time that someone tried to use Amaranth’s fame for their own ends, though most of the time they were more subtle in their attempts. Sirius eventually had to get a magical cease-and-desist order against all who wanted to use Amaranth’s name or likeness, as well as attributing anything from quotes to endorsements to her without proper permission beforehand. Several people learned the hard way that the magic tied to the order was very punitive and creative, as befit Sirius’ Marauder legacy.
“Mer, c’mon, we’re going to go to Diagon!” Amaranth said happily, rousing Merlin out of his contemplation. He returned the smile she was giving him, the sight of her happy face bringing joy to his heart as always. She’d taken after Lily in looks for the most part, though there were some features that were purely Black or Potter, such as her high cheekbones or her lithe yet tall frame. She was tall for a newly turned eleven year old witch, taking after James’ height with aplomb, and was fond of keeping her waist-length hair up in tiny ornately intertwined braids that her personal house elf, Dahlia, helped her with every morning. That morning’s pins had tiny blossoms of her namesake blooming on them, picked out in the multitude of bright colors that the real blooms came in.
The braids were enchanted to keep her head and neck from getting sore, and Dahlia often decorated them with little hair pins that sparkled in the light. Most witches who followed the Old Ways kept their hair up when out in public, only letting it down when in private around their children and/or spouses. Merlin had always been intrigued by it but didn’t question it, not wanting to bring the cold wrath of many of the witches he knew upon him, though he was sure Amaranth would forgive him.
To her, he’d always be her Mer, while most of the rest of the adults of the Avalon Alliance were either called aunt or uncle by her, regardless of actual blood relation to her. Sirius was Padfoot or Dad depending on Amaranth’s mood, though if they were in a particularly formal situation, it was Father or Lord Black as needed.
“You’ll be joining us, right?” Remus asked.
“Of course,” Merlin replied. “I wouldn’t miss this for the world. The Longbottoms will be joining us, right?”
“They went yesterday,” Sirius said with a shake of his head. “Tradition and all. They’ll be coming over for the usual joint birthday dinner, of course, but they visited the Book and Gringotts yesterday, as well as got Neville’s supplies and wand then.”
“It’ll be good to see him again,” Amaranth said, a small smile curving her lips. The gentle crush that she had on Neville was adorable, and Neville certainly didn’t seem to mind, especially since they’d grown up as such close friends. Neville and his parents had been on a vacation to Brazil for the past month, exploring various Wizarding enclaves and reserves that had rare Herbology and Potions ingredients growing in them. Severus had asked them to bring back samples if they could since he wasn’t able to come with them. As Alice was a Herbology Mistress, she was more than happy to do as requested, and had collected quite a bit of ingredients that weren’t available in Great Britain that Severus could plant in his own greenhouses and put in his specially warded ingredient storage cupboards.
Severus had started his own apothecary in Diagon when Amaranth was three, settling in happily to brew most days while the shop itself was tended by shopkeepers that Severus had interviewed thoroughly to make sure that they were as passionate about potions as he was. He and Remus had quietly bonded two years after that. Neither had gone to the Book of Souls when they were old enough, as Severus’ parents had refused to take him when he was eleven and Remus… Well, werewolves weren’t viewed as being worthy of the Book or soulmates by the general Wizarding world, so though his parents were aware of it, neither had wanted to disappoint him by getting there and having the Book’s Keeper tell him he couldn’t touch it.
The two had gone to the Book after discovering that neither had been before one night. Both were surprised to see the other’s name glowing on the pages of the Book after they’d touched it, especially after the enmity between them at school. Severus had the idea to go to Gringotts to get both of them checked for any personality or behavioral modifying spell or potions on them just in case. The tests had turned out rather horrifying, as there was a large amount of evidence of long-term potions and spell abuse heaped upon both of them. The magical signature was degraded after so long, but the goblins recorded what they could of it and then purged the two wizards of everything that was wrong with them. They weren’t able to stop Remus from being a werewolf, but had provided Severus a way to refine the Wolfsbane Potion that had been developed a few years prior so Remus experienced less pain in his transformations.
Amaranth had been part of their bonding ceremony, acting as the flower girl with great glee. She had loved seeing the growth of their love, both before the bonding and after. She had asked Merlin why he wasn’t bonded to someone after the ceremony or if he had a soulmate. Merlin had merely replied that not everyone had soulmates or got bonded with them, though he hadn’t been able to entirely hide the flash of long-borne pain that came with the answer. Amaranth hadn’t been entirely pleased with that answer, but had been distracted a short time later by the announcement of cake and food, much like any five year old would be.
Sirius had been watching the interaction, and when Amaranth had wandered off to see if she could get cake with the help of Narcissa or one of the other adults, he stepped forward.
Merlin merely smiled a little. “They will be,” he replied. “Her questions were… well, not quite unexpected, but still.”
Sirius hummed softly. “Do– or did –you have a soulmate?”
“I do, but we have not seen one another in person in at least…” Merlin made a thoughtful noise. “…four months now? The Lady has blessed him with the same long lifespan as I have had, but his work for Her has him traveling all over the world.”
Sirius blinked at that. “Have we met him?”
Merlin smiled. “You have, I believe, in your work as an Auror. Alexander Hart, the Lord Gaheris. The legends have recorded him as Galahad. He works with the magical side of MI-5, the Muggle intelligence agency, and has ever since the Crown needed an intelligence service. We keep in touch via enchanted mirrors and linked communication journals.”
He let his magic flow over his left hand, revealing for a brief moment the simple gold bonding ring on the ring finger there that was engraved with runes for happiness, fidelity, and good health before hiding it again. “It’s safer that no one knows we’re bonded, mainly for his sake and safety.”
Sirius nodded. “I’ve met him before. He’s nice, though a little…” He laughed. “I thought he was a bit of a pompous prick at first, and then I saw him in action. He’s deadly with a wand.”
Merlin laughed as well. “Alexander does give off that impression at first, I’m afraid, though it’s often a mask more than anything else.”
“Naturally,” Sirius said. “Still, I’m happy for you.” He shoved his hands into the pockets of his dress robes, looking out over the party. The Book of Souls hadn’t opened for him when he was eleven, leaving him free to pursue whomever he liked as a romantic partner. That had been the same thing that had happened with Andromeda, though she had created more scandal with her marriage to a Muggleborn and subsequent birthing of a half-blood daughter than Sirius had with not actually settling down with anyone yet. Amaranth had taken up quite a bit of his time, and he never lacked for non-romantic company, so he was content.
Merlin shook himself out of his thoughts once more as they made their way to the Floo room of Potter Manor, the house elves quickly and efficiently clearing up the remnants of breakfast the moment they were out of the informal dining room. The five of them Flooed to the Leaky Cauldron, Amaranth going with Sirius while the other three made solo trips with a space of about thirty seconds between them. The crowds were healthy that year, and it took longer than expected to get to Gringotts as quite a few people stopped to say hello and wish Amaranth a happy birthday.
When they finally did reach the bank, Goldthorn was waiting for them in their office, the boxes holding the various Heir rings she was eligible for already sitting on their desk. The sight of four boxes on the desk was surprising but no one commented. Once they were all seated in front of Goldthorn’s desk, the goblin cleared their throat.
“Welcome, young Amaranth,” they said, giving her a respectful nod.
Amaranth smiled and returned it. “Honored Senior Account Manager,” she replied, folding her hands neatly in her lap. “May the Lady bless you on this fine day.”
“And you,” Goldthorn said, looking rather pleased about the respect they were being shown, particularly by such a young witch. “Are you ready to take up your rings?”
“Yes, I am,” Amaranth confirmed. “Which ones do we have here?”
“Black, Potter, Slytherin, and Pendragon, in order of prominence,” Goldthorn said, tapping each one with a long finger as they named them off. Amaranth blinked in surprise.
“Slytherin?” she asked.
Goldthorn nodded. “Yes. It doesn’t have any vaults associated with it, but the title is an old one nonetheless. You gained it from your mother’s defeat of Slytherin’s heir. Riddle never claimed the title fully, though I’m not entirely sure if he knew he could, to be honest. Regardless, it’s yours by right of conquest. You will need to put the rings on in order of prominence. They will blend together and then you can cycle between them as needed.”
Amaranth looked over at her three companions to double-check one last time before she pulled the Black ring box to her. Ten minutes later, she was opening the Pendragon ring box. The first three had gone on with no fuss and only small flashes of light as they accepted her and resized and then blended seamlessly with one another on her right hand. She’d felt rushes of warmth run through her with each one as they accepted her.
“When you’re ready, Heiress Potter,” Goldthorn urged gently. Amaranth smiled at them before opening the box and taking out the ring. It was a mithril band with a shimmering green-blue fire opal that had the Pendragon crest of two dragons rampant reversed on it. She carefully plucked it out of the box, running her thumb over the crest with a soft sigh before steeling herself and putting it on.
A golden nimbus of magic surrounded her the moment the ring touched her skin, the haze nearly obscuring her from view before it sank into her skin. She shivered and then switched the ring that was showing to the Potter Heir’s ring.
“You okay, Mara?” Sirius asked in concern.
“Fine. Just… overwhelmed,” Amaranth said, taking several deep breaths to steady herself. She looked at Merlin with a startled expression. “I can feel you. Your magic.” She placed a hand over her heart. “Here.”
“That’s the liege bond,” Merlin replied easily. “I pledged my service and loyalty to the Eternal and Royal House of Pendragon a long time ago. Our Houses are eternally entwined.”
“Oh. That’s… amazing,” Amaranth breathed. She hopped off the chair and went to hug him tightly. Merlin hugged her back with a fond smile, pleased that she wasn’t put off by it. He could feel her magic as well, the sensation a gentle pull that reminded him of her hand in his when they were walking together. She didn’t do that as often these days, but that was all a part of growing up.
Once the hug was over, Amaranth returned to her seat, looking to Goldthorn for further instructions. They had tidied away the ring boxes while she and Merlin were talking, sending them back to where they belonged.
“When you turn seventeen, the Potter and Slytherin titles and rings will automatically change from Heir to Lady,” they said, folding their hands on their desk. “You can ascend the throne at twenty-one, so you still have a decade to prepare and feather your nest and future court, so to speak. The next seven years will likely be the most vital since you will be able to make connections at Hogwarts that will last for years.”
Amaranth nodded, taking it all in. She was well aware of the need to make good connections with people from all backgrounds, regardless of what some of the more staunchly traditionalist and isolationist Purebloods might think. She hadn’t been raised to believe in all the blood purity nonsense– not that any of the adults in her life would let her –and rather disliked people who did believe in it wholeheartedly, often quietly avoiding them and their children as often as she could.
“Now, Lord Ambrose here will remain as regent for your titles until that time,” Goldthorn continued on. “The Pendragon title will not become active until you take the throne, so you won’t have to worry about that coming to light until the proper time. Now that you’re eleven, you have access to your trust vault.”
They produced a small golden key from a desk drawer and handed it over to her, along with a small leather wallet that had the Potter coat of arms on it. “This is the key to the vault,” they said. “The wallet will keep it safe for you. If you add a drop of blood on the coat of arms, it will bind the wallet and the key to your magic and not allow anyone else to attempt to use either. The wallet can expand to hold the key and a few other things, like a personal seal or something similar. You can use your key to pay for things in stores– the money will be magically moved to the shopkeepers’ vaults instantly after you press it against a special pad of receipt paper they have –or you can withdraw money from your vault yourself, whichever you prefer. If someone tries to take the wallet from you, it will immediately return to your vault within thirty seconds and their magical signature will be recorded here in the bank so we know who the potential thief was. Never lend your key or wallet to anyone.”
“I won’t,” Amaranth promised sincerely. “Thank you, Goldthorn. Is there anything else I need to know?”
Goldthorn shook their head. “No. I’m sure your father and regent will be able to inform you about anything else.” They smiled. “Many blessings on your day of birth, young Amaranth, and have a wonderful day.”
“Thank you, Goldthorn, and I hope you have a good day as well,” Amaranth said, putting the key into the wallet and then carefully storing it in the dimensional storage bracelet she wore around her right wrist. It had been a present from Narcissa and Andromeda for her birthday; a stag and doe rampant had been engraved on it, along with the Potter Family motto. The four magic users left Goldthorn’s office after saying their goodbyes, deciding to get Amaranth’s supplies and wand while they were still on the Alley rather than going to the Ministry and then returning to the shops afterwards.
Once they finished with the bank, they headed out into the Alley, going to the trunk store first before everything else. Amaranth got a satchel with a limited Undetectable Expansion Charm and a Featherlight Charm in dark leather with her initials on the brass clasp. She also got a four compartment trunk in pale oak with verbal password and magical signature-based locks on it, as well as some simple anti-theft charms, a Featherlight Charm, and runes that would allow it to shrink to the size of a matchbox for ease of transport. One compartment was for clothes and shoes, the second for books, the third for ink, parchment, and quills, and the fourth for other miscellaneous items that didn’t fit in the first three categories. The compartments had auto-sorting charms on them that would keep everything neat and tidy, particularly in the compartment with the ink bottles.
After the trunk was obtained, the small party went to collect her books and supplies, stopping at Severus’ apothecary to get her ingredients and other Potions tools, such as her scales and cauldron, rather than anywhere else, knowing that he would carry the best Potions ingredients, tools, and pre-made kits. He had a goodly amount of the pre-made ingredients kits for each year-level at Hogwarts, with twice as much the amount of the more common ingredients in the kits than those that Slug and Jiggers, his most direct competitor, put in theirs. He knew that the first and second years likely wouldn’t be able to get through the whole year without needing to refill on the basics from his own experience, and didn’t want them to overtax the school’s supplies or their parents’ coffers.
Severus himself rang them up, not wanting to miss out on Amaranth’s day even if he had to be working for most of it. They would have their usual quiet family birthday party in the evening, with the Longbottoms joining them then. He wished her a happy birthday as he finished the transaction, earning a bright smile from her. Remus spoke quietly to him as Sirius shrank the purchases down and put them in a bag with everything else, parting ways with his husband only when Sirius announced that it was time for Amaranth to get her wand.
They didn’t go to Ollivander’s, but rather a custom wand shop on Historic Alley– an offshoot of Diagon that had quite a few charming cafes and shops that were mostly owned by Halfbloods and Muggleborn –called Moorehaven’s. It was run by a middle-aged and slightly heavy-set wizard with short salt and pepper hair and a neatly trimmed beard. He looked rather stern and distant until he began to talk, and then his natural warmth and excitement for his craft shone through, transforming him into someone Amaranth was quite happy to talk with. She’d always been fascinated with wands and their lore, though she knew she’d never be able to become a wandsmith given her other duties when she grew old enough. She left the shop with an 12 and 3/4” pearwood and horned serpent horn wand, the pale red wood glimmering in the sunlight before Amaranth put it away in her dimensional store.
“So,” she said, looking up at Sirius, “can we go now?”
“Go?” Sirius asked playfully. “Go where?”
Amaranth just rolled her eyes and then looked at Merlin. “Maybe you and Uncle Remus can take me, Mer, since Dad doesn’t seem to want to go with me.”
Merlin laughed at the sudden hangdog look on Sirius’ face. “Something tells me that he would sulk for weeks if he wasn’t able to come with you on this part of your journey, dearest,” he said, shooting Sirius an amused look “I don’t think I’d want to deal with that while you’re off at Hogwarts learning everything you can.”
Amaranth glanced at Sirius before sighing dramatically. “Oh, alright, I guess he can come along,” she said, holding a straight face for all of ten seconds before laughing brightly and then hugging Sirius, who returned the hug with an equal measure of love.
“Alright, I vote we get lunch at the Leaky and then Floo from there,” Sirius said once the hug was over. “My stomach is grumbling worse than Remus before his morning tea.”
“I don’t grumble – much,” Remus protested. Sirius laid a hand on his shoulder, a suitably solemn expression on his face.
“Moony, old friend, it’s time to face the facts. You are a bear when you haven’t had your tea in the morning. The Lady only knows how Severus manages.”
“He has his ways,” Remus said with a smirk. Sirius’ nose wrinkled at that as he realized what Remus was implying.
“Aw, c’mon, Moony, I didn’t need to think about that,” he whined. “Let’s just go get lunch and not talk about your morning… habits.”
Remus laughed as they headed to the Leaky Cauldron, continuing to carefully tease Sirius until the Animagus shot him with a Stinging Charm to get him to change subjects. The lunch was delicious as usual, with Tom himself serving them their food. Once they were done, they paid for the use of the Floo and headed to the Ministry. The journey to the Book took them down to the ninth level near the Department of Mysteries, though not exactly in it.
It was located behind a heavy oak door that was carved with runes and various magical plants. The chamber beyond was spacious though sparsely decorated. There was a waist-high marble plinth in the center of the chamber with a thick leather-bound tome placed on it. A heavy bronze clasp kept the gold-edged pages shut, but that was the only real decoration on the whole Book.
Standing next to the plinth was a figure dressed all in midnight blue. It was hard to tell what gender they were, as their face was hidden in the shadows of their hooded cloak and the cut of their robes was tailored just so to hide any obvious signs, much like an Unspeakable’s robes.
“Welcome, Amaranth Potter, to the Book of Souls,” the Keeper said, their voice carefully modulated with spells to be neither male nor female, but an oddly melodious combination of both. “A very happy birthday to you. Please place your hand on the center of the Book and state your name.”
Amaranth licked her lips, one of her nervous tells, before approaching the Book. A step-stool magically appeared out of thin air to help her reach the Book. She hesitated, her hand hovering over the Book with her fingers curled against her palm.
“Go on,” Sirius urged gently. “It’s alright, Mara.”
Amaranth looked back over her shoulder before nodding and turning back to the Book. She took a deep breath, let it out slowly, and then placed her hand flat on the Book’s cover. “Amaranth Euphemia Potter,” she announced slowly but clearly.
There was an expectant hush in the room before a surprisingly loud click sounded from the lock as it opened. Amaranth lifted her hand just as the Book opened of its own accord, the pages fluttering as if in a high wind. It stopped somewhere near the middle, the pages emitting a gentle golden glow. Amaranth leaned forward, a soft gasp escaping her as she read what was on the page.
Let it be known that Amaranth Euphemia Potter and Neville Alexander Longbottom are fated soulmates, joined by Magic Herself for all time and lives. Woe be unto those who try to part them, for the utmost penalties will be exacted. Thus speaks the Lady, Weaver of Fates and Mother of Magic.
The page that the proclamation was written on floated free of the book, rolling itself into a neat scroll; a golden silk ribbon appeared out of nowhere and tied itself around the center. Amaranth plucked it out of the air in a daze, the Book closing with a quiet thud and snick of the lock. She turned to look at her family, blinking a few times before overwhelmed tears of joy started streaming down her face. She ran to Sirius, wrapping her arms around him but never letting go of the scroll.
Sirius hugged her tightly, smoothing a gentle hand over her head as she cried into his robes. Eventually, her tears petered out, leaving her sniffling occasionally. Merlin quietly conjured up a fresh handkerchief and handed it to Amaranth, earning a mumbled thanks from her as she dried her tears and blew her nose.
“Good news?” Remus prompted quietly. Amaranth nodded, sniffling a few more times before putting the handkerchief away in a pocket of her robes.
“Y-yeah,” she said as she carefully put the scroll away in an inner pocket of her robes. “It’s… It’s Nev. I…” She let out a watery laugh. “I always felt close to him, but I thought it was just because we’ve grown up together, you know? I didn’t think we’d be soulmates.”
Merlin smiled. “It’s an amazing feeling,” he said. “I remember when I touched the Book myself and saw the name of my soulmate staring back at me.”
“Same here,” Remus added. “It’s overwhelming, isn’t it?”
Amaranth’s smile was watery. “Yeah, but it’ll be worth it in the end, right?”
“Right, though just because you’re soulmates doesn’t mean you won’t have arguments,” Remus said with a crooked smile as he thought of the many fights he’d had with Severus over the years, both before and after their bonding, “but having that assurance that Magic herself made you for one another does help things. It’s a reminder that even when times get tough, there’s always a spark of light that binds you to another person in the world.”
Sirius watched the three of them talk, his emotions conflicting within him. On the one hand, he was excited and more than a little relieved that Amaranth had a soulmate, but on the other hand, the fact that he didn’t have a soulmate of his own made his heart ache deeply at times. He looked at the Book while the others were distracted, wondering why it hadn’t opened for him at eleven. Sirius didn’t know if it would’ve made things easier or harder, especially considering how crazy his parents had been.
He looked down at Amaranth’s tear-streaked but happy face and shoved the old hurts down deep where they usually lived. He knew he would have to be strong for his daughter and help her weather the ups and downs of life, just as he had been for the past ten years. It was what she deserved and what he would continue to do until either she stopped needing him– which he hoped never happened –or when he passed from this life and moved on to the next.
Sirius helped to escort Amaranth out of the room, his hand resting against her back. Today was a day for celebrations, not dwelling on old hurts. He could do that later in the privacy of his own study once Amaranth was asleep for the night, but for the time being, he was going to do what he did best: make merry and shower love on his daughter.