The Spare Princess
It was at the engagement ball of her elder sister where Walden Macnair first heard of Evangeline Prince.
The patriarch of the Prince family held court at a table along the side of the ballroom. He gestured expansively over the whirl of merriment and color. "A fine affair," he proclaimed with no small amount of pride, looking around. It truly was nothing less than grand, a white marble ballroom adorned in silver and black, all the finest families of Wizarding Britain in attendance. The old man, dressed in simple but magnificently embroidered black robes, cast a veiled, malicious glance over at his youngest son. "The last one I'll wager we'll be seeing for a Prince girl, isn't that right, Elliot?" Everard Prince said over a glass of scotch, and the younger of his two sons stiffened, his own glass of scotch sloshing slightly in the glass as he did.
"There's still Evangeline, Father," he corrected, with the hesitant, already-defeated air of one being cornered into an argument had (and, as a matter of course, lost) many times before.
"Ha! Evangeline, poor girl!" the old man scoffed theatrically and without any sympathetic meaning whatsoever, looking around those seated at the table to the other men sitting with liquor in their hands. There was a cruel light in his eyes and a mean curl to his lip as he carried on with this charade. "And who shall she marry? What man is there for her? Abraxas? Would Lucius like the poor little thing for a wife? You, Renaud, would she do for Rabastan or Rodolphus?" There was a smug sort of satisfaction in his voice; this was nothing more than a carefully constructed humiliation, the prodding of an open wound, for his younger son. This Everard Prince was not a man who put much stock in familial affection. "There are none left with blood fit to mingle with our line, Elliot, none that would have her."
It said something that, though Macnair sat in their midst, the closest thing he had to a wife was the young dancer from a sleazy pub in Knockturn deluded enough to think she might get a ring and a moderately respectable name from him and persisted accordingly. He was good-looking and young, with a decent job in the Ministry of Magic. And no one cast half a glance in his direction, a half-blood of unremarkable name and lineage, when the question of suitable husbands for this last Prince daughter was raised. These men might pour out an extra measure of scotch and allow him amongst them in the guise of an equal, but he was no man for any daughter of theirs, even one so unmarriageable and pitiable as Miss Evangeline Prince.
"Frail little thing," Abraxas dismissed her, picking up his cue from Everard with similar smug eagerness. "Pretty enough, I will give you that; quite the fragile little beauty, Elliot, so like her mother! But best to let that sort of blood flow no further. Things can deteriorate in just a few short generations, we must always be looking forward."
Familial honor and bloodpride drove her father to speak. There might have been no husband for his poor, frail Evangeline, but the slight on her blood, on his blood, could not be ignored. "She's very gifted, fragile as she is. Her skills in Potions and Arithmancy run unparalleled. She's not ungifted in Transfiguration, either."
Wendell McMillan, who'd remained uncomfortably and increasingly angrily silent as Elliot's father had started in on the youngest Prince son, picked up in his friend's defense. "Miss Evangeline is quite good friends with my Regina; a very polite and well-bred girl. A credit to her noble family," he vouched staunchly, squaring his shoulders and meeting Old Man Prince's beady black eyes straight on.
Everard barked hoarsely, wheezing on his laughter. "Of course she is, Wendell, a most dutiful and obedient daughter."
Edmund, Everard's eldest son and heir, had inherited already the cruel streak so obvious in his father. He turned to his younger brother, with that same sort of smug, ugly smile their father had employed. "And she will serve our house well, Elliot. There will always be a place for her here, rest assured, brother. The Prince family does not abandon its loyal daughters and sons." He smirked, reveling in the unsaid: loyal, if worthless.
"A pity really, such a waste of good blood," Everard muttered, draining the dregs of his scotch and standing to return to the ballroom, dismissing the gathering to the larger affair whirling around them in vibrant colors and lively conversation.
Not a few weeks later, Macnair passed word to the Prince family of an impending Ministry 'inspection'—funny the useful things you could overhear in a lift—and Everard was very grateful. Or at least he seemed so, in his slick, understated way.
Over drinks in the drawing room of the Prince family estate, Everard set his younger son choking as he calmly announced, "Mr. Macnair, I would like to give you Evangeline."
"You what?" Elliot sputtered, red-eyed from the burn of alcohol in his windpipe, as his brother looked on in amusement.
"I'm giving him your daughter for his wife, Elliot, if he's not foolish enough to refuse her hand," Everard repeated as though it was the most obvious thing in the world.
"You'd give a kitten to a manticore," he spat, glaring over at the brawny giant of a man stuck uncomfortably into the chair across from him. "Give a Prince daughter—my daughter—to a half-blood butcher! You must be mad to think I'll allow that!"
"You must be mad to think you have a choice, Elliot," Everard said lightly, taking a leisurely sip of his brandy. "I've found a husband for her, son, you should be thanking me."
"If you were going to allow my daughter to marry so beneath herself, you might've approved the suit of that Abbott boy last year. At least he has a respectable reputation." Elliot Prince's eyes darted over to the man sitting silent in his chair as though he'd protest the slight on his name and character. Walden met the gaze with an imperceptible shrug.
He did have a reputation, and he was proud of it; a friend of the High ring of purebloods, a brutal, violent hand of their wills. His reputation was feared, respected, and that was a great deal more than anyone ever expected from a too-handsome man of no name, mixed blood, and uncertain character.
Everard scoffed. "Those blood-traitor Abbotts—Evangeline's children would've been marrying mudblooded filth, Elliot, passing down our noble line to ill-deserving, dirty-blooded whelps!"
"Your daughter married muggle filth, Father, or are we still pretending Eileen's dead?" Elliot roared, enraged, his sense flying out of his head as unwise words likewise flew from his mouth.
Everard's face went stone-frozen, the only motion a twitch in the grey, crepe-like skin around his eyes.
"You speak that name in my house?" he asked his youngest son, cool and deadly. "I have no daughter."
Elliot scoffed, too far gone in his anger (because, despite the steel and tissue paper layers of nobility and tradition and bloodpride, Elliot was not like Everard; he loved his daughter and would not sit back and watch her handed off to a butcher-monster-halfblood as a token of passing gratitude) to stop now. "Of course, and that pure Prince blood you put so much stock in isn't, right as we speak, flowing in the veins of her muggle-fathered son! All of this already on our name, and you denied my poor daughter what happiness she would have found with that boy, a pureblood who would have her, only to give her to this!" he hissed. Elliot was out of his seat, brandy glass clutched tight in his hand. For a moment, it seemed as though he was about to toss the alcohol at his father, but he only smashed the glass down onto the thick carpet. It didn't shatter dramatically, cushioned by the priceless Persian rug, but it did break and the liquid wicked away into the carpet.
And Elliot left. The room was still but for eyes nervously glancing sideways at each other, at old man Prince, waiting for something to happen.
The pause was very long. And then Everard Prince turned back to Walden. "Mr. Macnair might be unworthy of our dear daughter, but he's willing to climb, isn't that right?"
"Anything to maintain your good graces, sir. The honor of your blood for my children is a great gift, indeed," Walden rumbled, inclining his head respectfully. Everard barked a laugh.
"Indeed it is, Mr. Macnair, indeed it is. There are sweet rewards for those of good mind and character. You'll do for her." Old Mr. Prince laughed to himself as he called for his wife to begin the arrangements.
And so, a few days later, Walden found himself shunted into the back garden of the Prince estate, in nicer robes than he'd ever worn in his life, and approaching the girl, posed statue-like on a stone bench by the rose bushes and chaperoned by Everard's sour spinster sister, who would be his wife.
Author's Notes: All the news of the updates on this, as well as the still untitled Hestia Jones piece, will be posted on my Author's profile, so check back to that. I have the first two chapters of the Hestia piece finished and am a good two thousand words into the third. I'm trying to get some slack built in so I don't have omgdelays between postings if something goes wrong, so I'll probably post the first chapter of Hestia in the first week of August. This might be a little more sporadic, since it's taking something of a back-burner position, but it shouldn't be too bad!
Please review! Now that I'm embarking on chaptered fic, it is going to mean even more than the one-shots in terms of keeping up my motivation and maintaining my work ethic! I WILL finish what I start. I will I will I will!