Chapter 3 : The Photo Album
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She was kneeling on the floor in a room on the third floor that was used so seldom that everything was covered in a thick layer of dust. She knew that when she rose, her skirt would be absolutely filthy – but that was what one had servants for, wasn’t it?
It had taken years to find a house-elf to replace Dobby, and she did not miss the days in which she’d had to do the cleaning herself or hire a person to do it for her one bit.
Narcissa had avoided this wing of the manor for years; it was largely used as storage space. However, since Draco had announced his engagement to Astoria two weeks prior, Narcissa had become motivated to sort through the belongings that had sat untouched in these out-of-the-way rooms for decades – or, in some cases, centuries.
After all, if they were going to hold a wedding here, the manor needed to be absolutely spotless, and there was no way Narcissa or Lucius would allow someone else to sort through items of such a personal nature. Lucius had already found several dark objects that probably would have gotten his pardon revoked had the wrong people found out about them.
And Narcissa, for her part, had found a lovely table and chairs that, once the house-elf had dusted and polished them, would be a perfect addition to Draco’s new home – not to mention a set of fine china that Draco had scorned but Astoria had loved so much he’d relented and agreed to take.
Why, with all of the things she and Lucius were unearthing, Narcissa was sure that there would be very little Draco needed to buy for his new home. Not that affording it was a problem, but anyone could buy new things. Having beautiful, well-cared for antiques were a sign of proper breeding, and thankfully, Draco was marrying a girl of proper breeding. Why, with the war over, some of the children of Narcissa’s friends had gotten all kinds of ideas.
A few had even married mudbloods. It was a real shame, to see good wizarding blood diluted like that – but thankfully, her son was doing nothing of the sort. She could only hope that whatever children he had would be equally sensible.
This particular room was mostly filled with things that she and Lucius had put in it – things that they couldn’t find a place for, but did not want to throw away. Upon reexamination, she’d consigned some of it to the trash without a second thought: the documents from her failed attempt to get Bellatrix released from Azkaban all those years ago, old photographs of Bellatrix and her husband – really, most things related to Bellatrix were put directly into the box of things she had no desire to keep.
Narcissa had not yet forgiven her sister for her behavior during the war. Inviting the Dark Lord into their home? Telling her not to worry about her son? Bellatrix had no idea what it was like to have a son.
But this album… Narcissa picked it up and waved her wand over the cover. The dust vanished.
She opened it carefully, and then she remembered exactly what it was.
It was the album of her wedding that Andromeda had sent, all those years ago, when she’d still hoped to reconcile with her sisters. Bellatrix, of course, had sent it back with several nasty hexes and curses attached, ready to harm anyone stupid enough to open it. Since neither Andromeda nor her husband had ended up in St. Mungo’s, Narcissa assumed that no one had been stupid enough to open it.
Bella had told her to do the same with hers, but Narcissa had kept it. She couldn’t remember why; she’d looked through it several times in the months following the wedding, and then left it in this dark and dusty room, not ready to let it go and too sick with hurt and betrayal to want to see it again.
Here was a picture of Andromeda and her husband, standing in front of a gate Narcissa didn’t recognize and gazing happily into each other’s eyes. As she looked at the picture, Andromeda turned away toward the camera and waved happily; her husband caught her around her waist and pulled her close, and they both laughed.
Narcissa turned the page. Here was a picture of Andromeda dancing with their cousin Sirius, the two of them grinning madly as he made a comment that no one else would ever hear.
She swallowed hard. Their stupid, muggle-obsessed cousin was the only family member who’d shown up. She regretted that now. Maybe if she’d gone, Andromeda would feel more inclined to forgive her now.
It had been well over a year since Narcissa had gone to Andromeda’s house to apologize, to try and reason with her. Since then, there had not been so much as a Christmas card.
It hurt, more than Narcissa had expected it to. She hadn’t been expecting Andromeda to welcome her with open arms, but to scorn her completely?
Narcissa was part of the reason the Dark Lord had been defeated in the first place. She had lost friends over her actions. Didn’t she deserve some credit for it?
Lucius said that she should stop thinking about it, and that her blood traitor sister was not worth the heartache she was putting herself through. She knew that he was worried about her, and just trying to make her feel better. She knew that he was probably right.
But she couldn’t quite bring herself to let go.
It wasn’t that Narcissa no longer cared about blood status. She did. The idea of mudbloods running the country was not one that she relished, and it pained her to see good wizarding blood get diluted.
However, she had also discovered that her idea of what society should look like came at far too high a price. She’d spent two years in agony, fearing for her son’s life. Her husband had come back from Azkaban looking tired and haunted. They had all spent a year terrified and being ordered around in their own home.
And all of the deaths and the disappearances…
They had not really bothered Narcissa during the First Wizarding War. She’d been younger, more dismissive of lower beings, more immune to their pain. But during the Second Wizarding War… mudbloods and blood traitors or not, she could see far too much of herself in the faces of mothers mourning their children or pleading for their lives to be comfortable with all of the killing, and all of the violence.
Lucius, now… She did not think that it was the killing or violence that had bothered him. It was the threat to his family.
Narcissa did not delude herself; she knew that Lucius was not a good man, and that he had done terrible things that he didn’t really regret.
But it really was amazing how little being good really had to do with who you were. Good was overrated; what mattered to Narcissa was the way his smiles started in his eyes, and his protectiveness, and the way he could find a solution to almost any problem.
She looked back down at the picture just in time to see Sirius step on Andromeda’s foot.
A few pages later there was a photograph she’d never taken much notice of before. Andromeda and her husband were standing with two middle-aged people. Narcissa had always taken them for wedding guests, but as she looked at them more closely, she began to see a resemblance between them and her sister’s husband.
They were his parents.
She had not really questioned her parents at the time, but now that she was a mother, she knew that there wasn’t anyone her son could marry that would cause her to miss his wedding.
Narcissa felt a tear slide down her cheek.
“Narcissa?” She looked behind her, and found her husband standing in the doorway. “What’s wrong?”
She brushed the back of her hand across her face and tried to smile. “Nothing. It’s just dusty.”
He crossed the room and knelt next to her. He gently slid the photo album out of her grip. When he saw what it was, he sighed.
“You’re just going to upset yourself, looking at this,” he told her, producing a handkerchief from inside his pocket and handing it to her.
She took it and wiped her eyes with it. “I know.” Lucius started to close the album, and she stopped him. “Those are his parents,” she said, pointing at the picture.
He peered more closely at it before nodding, once. He clearly wasn’t sure what to say.
“Our parents didn’t go,” Narcissa whispered. “I didn’t go.”
Lucius took her hand and squeezed it. “That was a long time ago, Narcissa. If she hasn’t gotten over it by now…” his voice trailed off as he collected his thoughts. “She made her choice, and it’s her loss.” Narcissa wasn’t sure if he was referring to the choice to marry Ted in the first place or Andromeda’s recent silence.
“She’s my sister,” Narcissa said, staring into his eyes and willing him to understand.
She’d spent so many years being so angry at Andromeda – for marrying the Mudblood, for having a child with him, for allowing her child to marry a werewolf.
Those concerns seemed so petty and foolish now. Andromeda had made mistakes, yes, but Narcissa no longer thought that those mistakes were worth losing her sister over. After all, she had made her own mistakes, and really, compared to Bellatrix…
“I know she is,” he said softly. “But if—”
“I can understand why she’s so angry,” Narcissa said, talking over him. He stopped, but continued to run his thumb along her hand, trying to comfort her. “She lost almost everything, and I…” Her voice trailed off.
A shadow of a grimace crossed Lucius’s face, but he waited a moment to make sure she was finished before he spoke. “Your sisters always expected too much of you.” She shook her head, uncomprehending, and he sighed. “Bellatrix resented you – she resented both of us – because we hadn’t suffered enough.” The distaste in his voice was apparent; he had never much liked her sister Bellatrix, and the year leading up to the Dark Lord’s defeat had only deepened his antipathy. “Now Andromeda is telling you that you should feel guilty for still having your family by your side. You don’t need sisters in your life who wish misery on you.”
“I treated her so badly, Lucius,” Narcissa whispered. “I don’t deserve forgiveness.”
“You don’t deserve to be miserable, either,” he said. He laid the album aside. “Your sister conveniently forgets that you helped her side in the end, and more than she ever did.” He squeezed her hand again. “Come. You’ve done enough for the day.”
He rose, and Narcissa let him help her to her feet. Before they left the room, however, she bent down and picked the album up. He raised his eyebrows slightly, but refrained from commenting as they made their way down the hall.
She stopped in their bedroom on the way downstairs, and shelved the album on the bookshelf that stood next to the large window as he waited in the doorway. When she turned back to him, he held out his hand. “Let’s go for a walk,” he suggested.
Narcissa took his hand and allowed him to lead her down to the first floor and out onto the manor’s grounds.
A/N: I was originally just going to write this from Andromeda's point of view, but then Narcissa jumped into my head and wouldn't leave. This is my first attempt writing from Narcissa's PoV - how do you think I did?
I would love it if you took a moment to leave me a review. Most of all, thanks so much for reading! :)
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