Disclaimer: This story is based on characters and situations created and owned by JK Rowling, various publishers including but not limited to Bloomsbury Books, Scholastic Books and Raincoast Books, and Warner Bros., Inc. No money is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended.
Author's Note: This fic was written for FictionAlley's June Wedding challenge. The prompt was: RomildaVane married MrGoyle because it was the only way to book a hotel room together. Beta read and Britpicked by the BeST team.
A Mark of Pride
"You don't understand!" Romilda implored the sour-faced witch at the reception desk. "I don't have anywhere else to go! I've been dismissed from school, my friends are all dead, and my family are … Potterists." She choked the word out with great difficulty.
The witch's face became even more sour, if possible, upon hearing that word. "And I told you, Missie, we don't have any rooms. All booked up." She slammed the guest register shut and stowed it under the desk.
"You're lying!" Romilda screeched, her long black hair flying across her face. "I'm a Pureblood, for God's sake, it's not my fault my parents are blood traitors! I denounced them already, what more do you want? Look, I have money …" She crammed around in her shoulder bag and came up with a handful of coins, which she slammed onto the desk; she'd been allowed to keep what was in her parents' bank accounts, as a sort of compensation. It hadn't been much, but she'd thought it would get her through until she was able to find a job. Only no one decent would hire her. A sixteen-year-old child of blood traitors without her NEWTs was only good for certain types of work. Her eyes were brimming with tears of frustration and exhaustion.
The other witch stared straight ahead. "If you don't leave, I will be forced to call the Umbrors," she said stiffly. Her gaze flicked once at Romilda, then away again. "I'm sorry," she muttered.
"I'll bet," Romilda growled, stuffing the money back into her bag. "Some Grand New Society: Just because I haven't got some bloody tattoo, I can't even get a room in a dive like this. Well fuck you, lady. I don't need this. I know people, and when they find out how you've treated me, you'll be the one running from the Umbrors."
Romilda awoke to the hissing sound of a thin stream of liquid hitting stone with a moderate velocity. A drop of something warm landed on her hand. She scrambled backward, scooping up the bags she'd been lying on and wiping her hand on the coat she'd been using as a blanket. Next to her towered a raggedy figure, now shaking something back down into his trousers.
"Don't start so, just takin' a slash," he said in a light Irish accent. "'M not goin' to mess with you." He swayed slightly and leaned against the wall. The alley was still dark, but it was getting on toward dawn. "You wouldn't happen to have some money for me, would you? Couple of Sickles?" He crouched down next to Romilda and poked at her coat pocket.
"I have not!" she cried, pulling the coat more closely around herself.
"Drink, then?" the man asked in a scratchy voice. "Cigarettes?"
Romilda sighed and begrudgingly unzipped one of her bags. She shook out two cigarettes from the crumpled packet and handed one to the man.
"Cheers, doll," he said, now sitting down all the way and leaning against the wall. "Any chance of a light as well?"
Romilda had already lit her own cigarette and, economically, leaned over so that he could reach the glowing tip. The brief flare-up of light as his cigarette caught gave her a glimpse of his face: unshaven, reddish brown hair, and not much older than herself. Another Hogwarts refugee, maybe? Left without means, family, or connections when the school re-opened under the new leadership?
"Hey, do I know you?" Romilda asked.
The man paused, then leaned closer to get a better look at her. He smelled of poverty and neglect, and she shrank back from him. At least she wasn't that poorly off yet. She still had people she could go to … Not that she wanted to, not if she could avoid it. They were men, Death Eaters, obviously, because no one else had access to anything she wanted. But she was still a Pureblood, even if an unMarked Gryffindor, and that counted for something, at least.
"Gryffindor, right?" the man said after a moment. "Can't place your name, though."
"Vane." She gave her cigarette a good, hard drag and willed herself to calm down. Unless she was a very poor judge of character, and she wasn't, he was no threat to her. Maybe he could even help her. One never knew.
"Vane," he acknowledged, holding out a hand. It trembled slightly as Romilda shook it. "Finnigan." He inadvertently blew smoke in her face.
"Finnigan …" She narrowed her eyes. "Give me another clue."
"I was one of Potter's roommates."
"So you're one of his, then?" she asked as matter-of-factly as she could. If he was, she might as well get up and leave now, before an Umbror turned up. If she was found together with a Potterist, it would mean at the very least an appearance before a Re-Alignment Panel.
"Nah, but that doesn't half matter, does it," Finnigan said darkly. "Guilt by association. And on top of it all, half-blood. Me Da."
He was no good for her, then. Known half-bloods were hardly better off than Muggleborns. At least they hadn't had their wands confiscated. Some still had Pureblood relations in high places.
"Sorry," Romilda said, and she meant it; for both of them.
Romilda jumped down from the Knight Bus. It was dark, but the street lighting was ample for her to make out her goal: A large, two-storey Tudor-style house set well back from the street behind an immaculately kept garden. She smoothed her hair and set off up the gravel path.
This was it. She'd exhausted every other option. She had no money left, and no hope of getting any, other than doing things which were either very dangerous or very distasteful. If she didn't want to end up like Finnigan, or worse, like her parents, she'd have to take him up on his offer.
And it was, in all truth, a very generous offer. As an S.D.E., or simply a Senior, he could have anyone … and probably did. But he had taken a liking to her, for some reason, and had offered her his name along with his protection. It was a risk for him, to be sure; she steadfastly refused to take the Mark, and she was a Gryffindor, although, thank God, two years below Potter, and thus two steps removed from suspicion. Maybe it was all a set-up, and they'd slap an Imperius on her and try to use her to infiltrate the Potterists; she'd considered this, too, and decided that it was worth the risk. It was all so petty and meaningless, anyway. Maybe if she kept him satisfied well enough, he'd refuse to send her away; this was her hope, anyway. She'd done him well enough in the past.
A house-elf let her in. She was asked to wait in the parlour. He wasn't surprised to see her. It was all decided very quickly.
"The name is Goyle. We have reservations. My husband will be right in." Romilda smiled coolly at the young concierge. She recognised him vaguely from Hogwarts. He was a few years older than she, and thus would have graduated before V-Day.
"Of course, Mrs Goyle," he said smoothly. "We're expecting you. The Enchanter's Suite, I believe?"
"Yes, that's right." She looked around the lobby while he pulled up the paperwork. It had been slapped together quickly, built to cater to the new leadership, but that made it no less opulent. Personally, she would have preferred something more cosy, but she wasn't exactly in a position to be making demands. Or even to be voicing preferences. Certain things had been made clear to her, and enforced with magical contracts. That was fine. Contracts worked both ways.
"Are we all checked in, then?"
Romilda turned around. She hadn't even noticed that Gordon had come in. He was all right, actually. Smarter than his son, Gregory, in her opinion.
"Yes, sir," the concierge said. "I'll just need …" He discreetly indicated Mr Goyle's left arm and raised his wand expectantly.
"Of course." Mr Goyle pulled back his sleeve. The Mark writhed black against his skin. The concierge ran his wand over it, and smiled, satisfied.
"I'll have your bags brought up, Sir. Enjoy your stay."
"It's our honeymoon," Mr Goyle confided. Romilda looked at him in surprise. He actually sounded proud of it.
"Congratulations," the concierge responded dutifully.
A silence fell, and Mr Goyle seemed embarrassed now at his outburst. He turned and marched purposefully to the lift.
Romilda hesitated for a moment, and then followed her husband, her silken robes billowing softly.