Title: Yesterday’s Tomorrow (tentative/arc title)
Series: The Future is My Past; the Past is My Future #2
Fandom: Harry Potter
Pairings: Orion Black/Ophelia Manus (female Harry Potter)
Genre: genderbend, time travel, romance, drama, adventure
Warnings: Attempted murder (in a Harry Potter story? Really? Because that never happened in canon!) racism, bigotry, violence, and all the other stuff the Brits consider completely appropriate in children’s books. (On this side of the pond, we know that all these things should be in children’s television, where it belongs). Canon-typical . . . everything. And probably sex. But not in this excerpt; sex doesn’t happen until someone nearly dies. Like in nature.
Notes: Yes, this the sequel to Future’s Past. No it is not done, though I’ve been doing a lot of plotting on it. I got distracted by the end of the world, winter, Christmas and, oh yeah, that thing where I wrote 50 000 words in a month. I am actually planning to spend April on this story/arc since I’m not qualified for the Mulligan challenge on Rough Trade. First, I need to do some planning though, because while I originally intended this to be a story in 4 parts — the first year of Ophelia and Orion’s marriage, broken into seasons — I’ve been seriously considering breaking it into episodes (which has nothing to do with the fact that July’s challenge involves writing in an episode format, nope, no siree; that would involve planning and forethought).
Synopsis: Once, Ophelia Manus was a girl named Ianthe Potter. Once, Ianthe Potter was the Girl-Who-Lived. Then her last family member died, she lost her temper, and there was a ritual performed. The time travel was entirely by accident. Ophelia blames Merlin. Yes, that Merlin.
Now, Ianthe is Ophelia, and Ophelia is the wife of Orion Black, Lord of the House of Black, Duke of Ravensmoor, and father to Sirius and Regulus. The damned man caught her at a weak moment.
Orion married the woman he loved — which is a pleasant change from being forced to marry his vicious harpy of a cousin. He knew she had secrets; no one rendered their own soul in magical ritual on a whim without the results being . . . unfortunate. He wasn’t expecting this, but he has no regrets.
Two people, who were strangers a year ago, were brought together by time, magic, and a meddling mage. Now, despite their enemies and the obstacles in their path, they will build a family and a life; stop a war, bring down a government, transform a society, and grow old together. Ophelia has everything to live for; Orion has everything to fight for. Each other.
October 17, 1975
Alphard was a thousand years in the past when his library was invaded by that most terrifying force — Lady Melania MacMillian Black, the Dowager Duchess of Ravensmoor.
Oh, and the Family Patriarch and abdicated Duke. But he was a secondary concern at best.
“Alphard Black, get your nose out of that dusty tome and start explaining.”
He blinked up from his desk — myopically, though he would never admit it aloud. As his vision adjusted and his mind returned from the Fae Conflict of 968 — a terribly overlooked event in history, so often overshadowed by the far less relevant Goblin Rebellion of the same year, though how one brief skirmish could count as a full rebellion he would never understand —
“Alphard Pollux Black.”
That tone. Bloody hell, he’d been a good boy for weeks — months, even.
“I didn’t do it.”
The old man — yes, yes, respect for his elders, blah, blah — chuckled. Lady Melania arched a brow at him. “I have no doubt you’ve done any number of things that deserve a scolding — don’t think for a moment I remain unaware of that little affaire with the Comtesse de Saint-Aulaire. For Annwn’s sake, Alphard, she’s twenty years older than you and the lover of the King of Magical France besides —”
“I have no idea what you are speaking of,” he demurred, hiding his twitch. How on earth did she always know?
“Of course,” she said dryly. “However, in this particular instance, I want an explanation for Orion.”
“Orion? What has His Grace done to annoy you, madam?” Leaning back in his armchair, he relaxed. Perhaps someone realized that he knew the identity of the mysterious redhead that was driving the maidens of Britain, the Daily Prophet, and half his kin mad with curiosity.
And rage, in some cases.
“He got married.”
Alphard barely refrained from sputtering. His parents might believe him lacking in dignity, but he had plenty — just not the arrogant kind they espoused. He would never splutter in public.
Gaping foolishly, however, was entirely possible. He did so as Lady Melania stared, steely-eyed at him. The old man broke in, saving Alphard from himself and his cousin-slash-aunt.
“Haven’t seen the tapestry today, have you, lad?”
“The last time I checked, my lord, I wasn’t my father. I hardly stare at that blasted thing everyday.”
Lord Arcturus ignored that — he knew very well what his cousin was like — and said, “Neither do I, but I still notice when my own branch has a new addition that wasn’t there yesterday. Who, exactly, is Ophelia Manus.”
That canny, cunning bastard had actually done it. Alphard started laughing.
“Stop laughing like a loon and start talking, Alphard.”
He waved a hand and he got control of himself. “Sorry, sorry — I’m just imagining what that scene was like. I wonder if she hexed him when he asked? Morgana, I hope so! I’d not put it past that Scottish dragoness.” Alphard sighed. “I always knew Orion wouldn’t let formality and protocol stand in his way when he really wanted something, but it’s one thing to think about, and another entirely to get proof.”
“You’ve met her.” The old man’s tone was sharp. “I’ve never heard of a Manus family — is she —?”
“Unknot your robe, my lord, she’s not a muggleborn, though I’m very surprised that you, Lady Melania, don’t know the name.”
She sighed. “It’s familiar, but distantly. Honestly, I’ve forgotten more people than you’ve met by this point. Scottish?”
Since the MacMillian family, despite being very involved in English society and politics, were actually a lowland Clan, it wasn’t surprising that she brightened at that thought.
“The Manus family was granted lands and a barony on Fara Island by Robert de Brus,” Alphard told his elders calmly, watching them both relax by degrees. “They served under various Scottish kings as everything from mage-knights to royal mistresses — in fact it’s very likely that the main line shared blood with the House of Stuart as a result. The family is under the rule of the MacFusty Clan, whose territory includes all of Fara, and have married into that clan and vice versa several times — along with Clan MacBeth of Glamis, Clan McGonagall, and both Campbell clans. More recently, they married into several French families, including the House of Baudin, who descend from the House of Normandy. Like most Scottish lines, there’s a hefty dose of Norse in the mix as well, including the Seidr Vikings of Midgard.”
He was gratified by the lack of surprise on their faces at his recitation. The old man and Lady Melania had always been better at understanding him than his own family. Too many members of their House looked at him and wondered how he could be a Slytherin, but they made a fatal mistake that was all too common; they forgot the traits of Slytherin House.
Yes, the House of Snakes was famous for many things — including traditionalism and ideas of purity, ruthlessness and Dark magic. But that was not what got you Sorted there. Resourcefulness and ambition were the marks of Salazar’s house, and despite his cheerful demeanor, Alphard had both in spades. There were all kinds of ambitions, and you didn’t need to stab people in the back to meet your goals. Alphard was a historian, obsessed with and fascinated by the details of the past and the threads that wove through every day, every event. His ambition was to uncover secrets, reveal parts of the past unknown and unexplored, and to know everything he could. And if his cunning ran more to distraction than overt plotting? Well, he still kept his thoughts hidden and his secrets his own, but with the added benefit that people believed that he hid nothing and, therefore, didn’t go digging for more.
His parents would never understand that; his masteries in Magical History, Old English and Latin were an embarrassment to them because they didn’t involve spellwork. He might as well be a Muggle, according to them, if he was only going to read books all day.
His father and grandfather had placed all their ambitions in Walburga, leaving Alphard to his mother — whose idea of nobility involved marrying the richest, purest witch he could find, have children to force to do the same, and plotting against everyone you came across while being sickeningly polite and bitingly venomous. Alphard had, of course, done everything he could to be the opposite. His family maintained cold, formal demeanors — he was cheerful and charming. They plotted and insinuated with every word; he disarmed and distracted to protect his secrets. Their ambitions were in power and gold; his were of the mind. His mother wanted him to marry well and breed, like his brother Cygnus — he made himself completely unsuitable by having lavish affairs and cultivating a playwizard’s reputation.
Orion had always understood him. His cousin, older but not too old, who actually had a sense of humor if a dry one. Who had never looked down on him for preferring books to dueling, who he was closer to in age and affection than both of his own siblings. Whose place in the Family he’d never coveted — the duchy was as much a burden as a blessing, to Alphard’s eye — and who was constantly plotted against by Alphard’s own family. Orion had backed him in his choice of study, and because of him and the old man he’d been able to attend Oxford’s Novena College instead of being disowned.
When the old duke had gone a little mad and forced Orion into that blasted contract — and Alphard contended to this day that there had been a Confounding Potion involved somehow — Alphard had been furious on Orion’s behalf and disgusted with his relatives. Most of all, though, he’d been saddened. During his marriage, Orion had slowly gone colder, withdrawing from his family. It was like he had seen the House of Black as enemies — though some of them certainly were — and retreated into his duties and work. Orion had spent more time on the Continent than in London, in matters of politics and finance, rarely taking time even for the dueling he loved. Walburga had cost Alphard his friend and cousin, and Alphard hated her and his own family for it.
Now, however, he had his cousin back. However horrible it had been, Walburga’s attempted murder had freed Orion and his sons and, over the last months, Alphard had seen the old Orion emerge. The old man, Lady Melania and Lucretia were all content to give the man room, but Alphard had made a point of showing up periodically to remind Orion that he had more family than just his sons — that not everyone he shared blood with was an enemy.
The reward? Orion had done the first truly impulsive thing he’d done in well over a decade — and set the whole House on it’s ear. Alphard desperately wished he could see his mother and sister-in-law’s faces when they found out.
His inner rambling was interrupted by his elder relations. “Well, that’s better than one might hope,” the old man mused.
“Very well, her family is one thing, but what about her? What is she like?” Melania demanded. “Has Orion been distracted by a pretty face, or is there something behind it? And what about my grandsons?” She huffed and glared at nothing. “Just like a man — honestly, who marries a woman without introducing her to his own mother?”
“A sensible one,” Alphard muttered.
“I heard that.”
He smirked. “You were supposed to.”
“I really do not understand what all those foolish witches who fall at your feet see in you, Alphard.”
He smiled winningly. “That’s not a conversation for polite company.” He counted it as a win when both elder Blacks hid grins. “I wouldn’t worry too much about the boys, though. They decided months ago that Lady Ophelia was theirs. I’m fairly certain that if Orion hadn’t courted her, they’d have done it on his behalf.”
“So he did court her,” Lord Arcturus spoke up. “It wasn’t an impulse.”
“Getting married without your family is very impulsive, Arcturus.” Melania said sharply.
“I imagine he did ask her on impulse,” Alphard interjected, “mostly because the man plans everything to the smallest detail and he probably had precise plan for when and how to propose. Undoubtedly an opportunity that was just too good to ignore came up. As for already getting married. . .” Alphard smirked. “I imagine he wanted the thing done before the lady meets his kin, if only to avoid one of us running her off.”
Neither tried to deny that the House of Black could be a little. . . much.
Lady Melania huffed again. “I don’t like it — when is he going to introduce her to us? Is he just going to hide away with a wife forever?”
“Didn’t you tell me only this morning that he’s a grown man and deserves time to himself?” Arcturus asked.
“That was before he married someone I’ve never met — don’t you dare laugh, Arcturus!”
“Never, dear,” the old man demurred.
“Even the boys managed to keep this from me! Sirius writes twice a month, and there’s been no mention of his father courting anyone,” she complained.
Alphard chuckled despite her glare. “So he never mentioned someone named Phee in his letters?”
“Phee? Yes, of course, a neighbour with kneazles he made fast friends with. His letters are full of her and Loki, his new familiar.”
He hmmed as the old man chuckled. “And Phee would be a nickname for. . . ?”
“Oh, for Magic’s sake!” she growled. “You mean I knew who she was all along?” Wisely, Alphard said nothing. “I thought Phee was another child — or maybe an older woman! Who lives all alone with a houseful of kneazles?”
“Lady Ophelia Manus was orphaned as a child, and raised by a godfather who spent most of her life travelling the world to study alchemy and other magicks, only to die in a fire just before her majority. I imagine a houseful of kneazles is welcome company.”
“Well, at least the boys like her,” she muttered.
Alphard debated with himself for a moment before rising from his chair. “Just a moment.”
One wall of his study contained several hidden doors — one lead directly into the library, another into a druid’s hole — and several hidden compartments. When he’d graduated from Novena, he’d had an opportunity to move into any number of family properties, including a glamorous penthouse in Paris. He’d chosen Tŷ Du in Wales because the house, with it’s odd quirks, and spacious if wild grounds appealed to him. He had space and privacy, could wander over to the nearby village for a pint if he chose, or walk to the nearby stone circle, rich with centuries of magic. But ultimately, it was the library and study which drew him to this house. It was a stronger man than he who could turn down a large, well-appointed library.
Inside a compartment hidden behind his references on the Statute of Secrecy — he was entitled to his little quirks — was a rosewood letter case. Personal correspondence, of course; business letters and documents had a different case and compartment while letters containing research correspondence were filed and organized by date in a chest tucked in the druid’s hole. He was a historian; he’d never met a letter he couldn’t preserve and archive.
Alphard extracted an envelope and passed it to Lady Melania. “Sirius and Reggie sent me this in July.”
He’d read the letter several times, and knew exactly where she was by her facial expressions. He knew the moment she read the line about getting a lady to marry you. By the end, she was biting her lip against a giggle.
“I suppose you twitted him relentlessly over this,” she remarked dryly.
“My lady, it’s like you know me.”
She passed the old man the letter that he’d refrained from making grabby hands at, and extracted the photos that Sirius had sent along from the envelope. Images of dragons and kneazles and Sirius waving from the top of a tree — and one single picture of a lovely redheaded witch sitting on a garden bench, surrounded by felines, who looked up and grinned towards the camera.
Lady Melania’s eyes were a little softer when she finally passed the photos to her husband. She pursed her lips thoughtfully. “Alphard. Tell me everything.”
So much for a day spent with his books and papers.
Alphard Black, Arcturus Black, Melania Black