Moments of Realization
Summary: Fanfiction of murkybluematter's The Pureblood Pretense series. A collection of the moments in which various character discover or realize the ruse, and their reactions.
AN: So for clarity, this is fanfiction of a fanfiction, being The Pureblood Pretense series by the excellent Violet (murkybluematter), who hopefully doesn't mind me appropriating her characters for this series! If you haven't read it – you need to set aside a few days now to read it. If you have, hopefully this ficlet tides you over before the next chapter is out!
Aldon woke up in a cold sweat, his mind already whirring.
He had no idea what made him think of such a thing, but he had long since learned that his instincts were good, and his sleeping brain was, in some respects, more … flexible than his awake one. It didn't make any sense, but then… it also did.
He ran his fingers through his hair, mussing it in a way that he knew would take half an hour to get it to sit right again, yet he couldn't bring himself to care. They were just too similar. Rigel Black, and Harriet Potter … just a little too similar.
He had said as much, a year ago, hadn't he? They were too similar to marry. And with Rigel's knowledge of the legislation in first year, the timing of the engagement was, he thought, a little too suspicious. He always thought, once Rigel had mentioned the engagement, it was really for Harriet's protection. But if Rigel Black was also …
His head hurt. A glass of water would help. He staggered out of his bed, tossing his sheets aside carelessly, making his way to the bathroom he shared with Edmund.
"Aldon?" A low gravelly voice asked. Curse Edmund – he always was a light sleeper.
"I'm fine," he replied lightly after a pause to slow his breathing. "It's nothing."
It was nothing, right? Harriet Potter couldn't possibly be Rigel Black as well. There were two of them at last year's gala – Harriet Potter was clearly a separate person from Rigel Black. They both clearly existed, even the official records and old society pages agreed. Harriet Potter, eldest daughter of Lord and Lady Potter – and Arcturus Rigel Black, the heir to the Noble and most Ancient House of Black. They both existed.
Aldon stared into the mirror – his golden eyes, the trademark of House Rosier, were wide, and a light sheen of sweat covered his brow. He shook his head, turned on the faucet and splashed cool water onto his face.
Yet, all of Rigel's friends had remarked that he was uncommonly distracted that night, more scatterbrained than they were accustomed to from their mysterious friend, and Aldon himself had been rather preoccupied with Harriet, hadn't he? Rigel certainly explained it away easily enough with concern over his dear cousin…
His mind lit back on the connection his sleeping brain had made. They were still too similar. Yes, he only had a few minutes with Harriet, though those minutes felt familiar. She was so much like Rigel, though a little more open, a little less reserved. And Rigel, that night, had been distracted, a little different, a little less reserved.
He took a deep breath, toweled off his face and quietly slipped back behind his hangings, settling neatly in a cross-legged position in his bed.
He was smart. His sleeping brain was a little more open, yes, a little better at creative solutions, but not always right. And apparently, his idiot brain was not letting go of this thought, so he may as well follow it through. Surely he could reason himself out of this sudden conviction that Rigel Black and Harriet Potter were the same person.
He threw himself down the rabbit hole.
Say that, hypothetically, Rigel Black and Harriet Potter were the same person.
Well, first, there were actually two of them. One Arcturus Rigel Black, and one Harriet Potter. That was problem number one. Could one of them be an actor? No, based on the interactions both had with their families and that Rigel had had with his friends that night, unlikely – a paid actor would not have been able to pull it off so convincingly. No, if anyone was acting, they were right in the thick of it. And, unless the Blacks and Potters and the Ministry's department of vital statistics were in it together, there were actually two of them – one Arcturus Rigel Black, and one Harriett Potter.
Unbidden, another memory struck. He was in fifth year, prying Rigel about his future plans – the boy was reading a healing textbook, of all things, even though he was clearly extraordinarily dedicated to his potions pursuit. He knew that Rigel's cousin attended the American Institute of Magic, and sent along her Healing notes for him. By all accounts, he remembered, piecing together the bits of rumour he had heard from Rigel's yearmates and his own eavesdropping, Harriet had also been described as being, if possible, more interested in potions than Rigel. Then why Healing? And why did Rigel also study Healing, if both of Harriet and Rigel were so dedicated to healing?
Aldon's fingers traced a pattern in his bedclothes. Two people, one Arcturus Rigel Black, one Harriet Potter. Two passions, apparently – Healing, and Potions. One pureblooded, Arcturus Rigel Black and one halfblooded, Harriet Potter. Two enrollments in two different schools – one at the American Institute of Magic, the school with the best healing program worldwide, and one at Hogwarts, the school with the best general education and access to Potions Master Severus Snape?
It was crazy, utterly insane, but what if they simply… traded places?
It was beautifully, marvellously simple. If the real Arcturus Rigel Black was interested in healing, which would certainly make sense given his mother's death, then of course he would have been uncomfortable at last year's gala – he would be playing the role of Rigel Black for the benefit of Harriet's friends. And it would explain, too, why Harriet seemed so comfortable with him, and so much like Rigel.
And it explained Rigel's notorious secretiveness – he would be a girl, masquerading as a boy. Of course he would be cautious of physical contact, whatever lie he had fed to Draco clearly keeping the other boy off his trail. It explained Rigel's study of healing when Potions was clearly his, or rather her, forte – if she was supposedly at the American Institute of Magic learning healing, surely she would actually need to know healing. It even explained that bizarre thing in first year, where the boy hadn't bothered getting his broken wrist healed, and in second-year, in the carriages, when he had mistakenly asked if she accompanied her uncle to volunteer at St. Mungos. At the time, it had been an honest mistake, and when she didn't deny it, he had though she was just distracted by the sight of the thestrals. In fact…
In fact, it explained more things than it didn't. Sure, there were some things that didn't make sense, such as why they looked so similar, or how Harriet was able to masquerade as a boy… but overall, it made better sense than simply figuring that they were so similar because they had grown up together. No two people were that similar.
He paused, tapping his lower lip with one well-manicured fingertip.
If his thought was true, that meant Harriet – or Rigel – had committed blood identity theft to attend Hogwarts. Blood identity theft was no small crime, leading towards a lifelong sentence in Azkaban – though, he amended, it was likely that, in these circumstances, it was more likely to lead to Rigel claiming blood refugee status in America or Australia.
Either way, if it was true, and even if it wasn't, revealing his knowledge would seal Rigel – or Harriet – far away from him, which was not his intention. And not in his interests, either.
Actually…. He paused, cocked his head to one side and let a smirk leak onto his face. Actually, if Rigel ended up being Harriet, that certainly solved some problems for him, didn't it?