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Chapter 3 : A Black Family Affair (Post-Hogwarts)
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Author: Elphaba and Boyfriends
Main Character: Narcissa Malfoy
Warnings: sensitive topic/issue/theme and mild violence
Narcissa frowned at the other families that had gathered for the burial. There were so many of them – more than she could have imagined. People that she had never met (or had met so long ago and then not seen again for so long that she’d forgotten they existed) had crawled out of the woodwork. What business did they have at her niece’s graveside?
She wiped a speck of nonexistent lint from her ink black robes and withdrew into herself.
There were only three members of the Black family left alive, and none of them were known by the name of Black. There were her and Draco, who fidgeted now by her side. The third was her sister Andromeda, looking so much like Bella that Narcissa couldn't bring herself to gaze long in her direction. She stood behind her in the cemetery, eyes flitting occasionally over her long black-brown hair. She snorted at the babe Andromeda held swaddled in her arms.
That werewolf's spawn hardly counts as a Black.
Bella was dead, interred already in a ceremony that had drawn a tiny fraction of the people here today. Narcissa sniffed loudly. Bella wasn't perfect, but she had been her sister. For all her faults she had never forsaken her duties to her family.
Of the daughter Andromeda buried today, Narcissa knew practically nothing. She had spoken only twice to her sister since she'd run off with that mudblood. The last time had been just a few months shy of Nymphandora's birth.
As Narcissa listened now to the recounting of her niece's deeds, she unwillingly called the girl's face to mind. She’d only caught brief glimpses of the girl before practically stumbling over her body in Hogwarts' great hall. Anyone could have seen the Black in her blood – the long, thin nose; the pale, heart-shaped face.
Nymphandora had also been powerful, whether Bella had admitted it or not. Surely her mother had been the one to gift her with metmorphmagus abilities, not that dirty Tonks. Tonks. She hated the sound of that name even in her mind. She would never utter it aloud. Nymphandora had been a Black. She could not think about the manner of her death. She must not.
It had been the heat of battle, it had to have been.
Bella may have vowed to kill her in order to impress the Dark Lord, but in her heart she must have felt some of the same love that Narcissa still harbored for their sister.
Ice-blue eyes rimmed in red floated gently over Andromeda’s hair.
She looks so much like Bella.
As Narcissa watched her from this particular angle she could imagine her oldest sister standing there, now. Occasionally she would shift, and Narcissa would catch the angle of her nose. It was similar but slightly off, just as the lines in her brow and the set of her mouth were not quite the same.
She should go and comfort her sister.
How brave she is to stand there with shimmering eyes, bouncing the werewolf’s babe while the eulogies for her daughter drone on!
Now and then Narcissa caught glimpses of turquoise hair pressed against her shoulder. The little halfbreed was quiet.
He must be asleep. Better for him to sleep through this and form no memory of his mother’s funeral.
Narcissa glanced to her right, at Draco standing warm and solid by her arm, close enough that their robes brushed. He looked straight ahead, his face blank, but she knew he was prepared to support her should she waver.
That could be Draco in the casket today, she thought for the thousandth time.
Bella once claimed she'd sacrifice her sons gladly to the Dark Lord. Narcissa had held her tongue then, but later she'd shaken her head. Bella had no children. If she did, then she would understand. Narcissa would do anything to keep Draco safe. Just as Andromeda would have done anything for Nymphandora.
If only Bella hadn’t spent all those years in prison. She could have borne a child of her own. She could have experienced true love. She’d done wrong, certainly, if even half of what she’d heard was true, but it was prison that had truly warped her. She’d been so young. She’d been influenced by the Dark Lord. They all had, but Bella's ambition had made her especially vulnerable. Narcissa had barely recognized the creature that emerged from Azkaban all those years later.
They were still sisters, though. Nothing could erase their bond. Neither had ever broken the other's confidence. They had remained loyal to each other, to their blood.
Until … until...
Now that both Andromeda's husband and daughter were dead, the only shame to the Black family that remained was that halfbreed boy she held in her arms. If Bella were here she might rip the child from her arms and dash his head against his mother's stone. Then perhaps she would welcome their sister back into the fold.
Narcissa gazed at Andromeda at length now, watched her shoulders shake and her head bow. Arthur Weasley of all people dared to comfort her, resting a soft, freckled hand on her back and whispering into her hair.
Narcissa should be the one to comfort her, to tell her she understood – not some blood traitor. What words of comfort could he offer her? She remembered then that Weasley had also lost a child.
“I understand. We’ll get through this together,” he might say.
He had plenty of other children, though; could he really understand? Narcissa could understand; she'd come so close to experiencing the same grief.
I will see my sister through.
The babe awoke and cried, and Andromeda shifted him higher on her shoulder, bouncing him, rubbing his back, cooing into one tiny red ear. His hair deepened from turquoise to black and then lightened to bright gold as he wailed. She bounced him again and he settled, and his eyes, which had been squeezed tight shut, opened wide and blue as the sea.
For a moment Narcissa saw Draco as a three-month-old all over again, and then his hair shifted to turquoise as bright as his eyes. He gazed around at the crowd behind him, and Narcissa met his eyes and saw the Black blood coursing through his veins.
The little halfbreed was a Black, after all. She saw then her folly and her duty.
What does it matter if our name has died, so long as the blood lives on?
The service had ended, and the mourners broke up into smaller groups. Strangers shuffled by in disorderly clumps to offer Andromeda their condolences. Narcissa must go to her, but first the Weasleys must leave. She would wait them out. She racked her brain for what she should say.
She felt Draco stir beside her, but ignored him for the moment.
He must learn patience.
He wouldn’t learn it from his father, so he would learn it from her.
She hadn’t protested when Lucius announced that he would not be attending the funeral that morning. She had pouted briefly, but now she felt relieved to not have him here. She still felt out of place, still felt the judgmental eyes of strangers following her, but his presence would have made her feel even more unwelcome.
“Mum, are you all right?”
“Yes, Draco. I'm thinking,”
Her lips curled into a bitter smile. Some people felt sympathy for her, they might even say that she had seen the light and redeemed herself at the end. They were fools. She was only a mother acting to protect her son. Everything she’d done, right up until the end, had been purely for Draco sake's.
The Weasley horde finally departed, and for a moment Andromeda stood alone. Narcissa watched her turn, about to leave herself, with the fat little babe clutching fistfuls of her dark hair.
“Draco, wait here, please. I need to speak with my sister.” She didn’t wait for his answer, didn’t look at his face or register his surprise, just walked straight across the lawn toward Andromeda. She cleared her throat and lifted her chin as she approached, her hair spreading like sunlight across her shoulders.
“Andromeda,” she said, her voice clear and cold as a mountain spring.
Her sister stopped and turned slowly, perhaps reluctantly. Narcissa gazed into her eyes, sky blue meeting chocolate brown for the first time in over 20 years. Only now did her resemblance to Bella fade. Her eyes were so warm, and so forlorn.
Why, they might melt and drip from her face.
Narcissa wavered then, and wished for a moment that she had asked Draco to walk with her, to support her.
Andromeda has no child to support her, she thought. She has no husband waiting for her at home.
Narcissa had nothing to fear, and everything. She remembered the loathing in her sister's eyes the last time they'd talked, the angry words they'd exchanged. Would Andromeda remember? She squeezed her eyes shut. If she could forget them she would. Could Andromeda forget? Could she forgive?
“I love Ted.”
“Them leave him, nothing good can come of this. He'll be safer with you gone.”
“I'm carrying his child.”
“It's not too late to get rid of it. I won't tell mother or Bella, no one need ever know.”
She didn’t see hate in those eyes, now, nor in the set of her mouth. Neither did she see love. If only she could know what thoughts ran through her sister’s mind. Could she see the pain that she felt? Did she care that she felt it?
“Narcissa,” Andromeda said, her voice guarded. Then she waited for Narcissa to speak, while her grandson pulled her hair towards his mouth, ogling her with those aquamarine eyes.
“I’ve kept many of Draco's baby things,” she began, her voice suddenly weak and small. “There are some adorable clothes that should fit him, and I won't need them again. I’d like to give them to you.”
Andromeda blinked. “That’s kind of you,” she said, her voice softening. She paused to pull a lock of her hair from her grandson's mouth. Yes, he was Andromeda's grandson despite the accursed surname. Foolish men might have squandered the name of Black, but her and her sister continued the line.
“I can bring them by tomorrow afternoon,” Narcissa said in a rush. “If that isn’t convenient for you then I may be able to call next—“
“Tomorrow afternoon is fine. Come by any time you like.”
Narcissa nodded, “We'll come by around two,” she said, then turned and fled back to her son.
He looked at her with wide eyes. “Will father–“
“This doesn't concern your father, Draco,” she said coldly, her voice regaining some power. “I'll visit with my sister and grand-nephew when I please. It's time you met your aunt.”
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