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Paper Tiger by Padfoot Girl

Format: Novella
Chapters: 2
Word Count: 7,926
Status: WIP

Rating: 15+
Warnings: Mild Language, Mild Violence, Scenes of a Mild Sexual Nature, Substance Use or Abuse

Genres: Drama, Horror/Dark, Romance
Characters: Snape, Sirius, Tonks, Andromeda, Regulus, Bellatrix, R. Lestrange, Lucius, Narcissa, Draco
Pairings: Lucius/Narcissa

First Published: 07/25/2007
Last Chapter: 06/27/2009
Last Updated: 06/27/2009

Summary:




Mistake: it was the one word in the English language that Narcissa Malfoy had too much experience with. One family blindly pledged their allegiance to the greatest dark wizard and were faced with the penalties that followed his downfall.


Chapter 1: Resist or Serve
  [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]

Summary – Mistake: it was the one word in the English language that Narcissa Malfoy had too much experience with. One family blindly pledged their allegiance to the greatest dark wizard and were faced with the penalties that followed his downfall.



Paper Tiger: A person or organization that appears to be powerful but in reality is ineffectual



"Paper Tiger"


"Chapter One: Resist or Serve" 



            As long as Narcissa Malfoy could remember, her mother told her everything was either black or white and not a shade a grey. There was no medium, no halfway, no maybes, or what ifs. There was a right and a wrong; and by Merlin if her children didn't pick the right path, there would be hell to pay. If her daughters strayed down the wrong path, the Black name would be tarnished forever and that simply would not be suitable under any circumstance.



            Druella Black also talked about great tales of love and passion. Narcissa was taught that there was no such thing as coincidence when it came to love and that everything happens for a reason. Devotion to your soul mate could not waver - emotions could never be torn. Perhaps, that was why she knew her life would belong to a single boy when she was only seven years old. She knew in the instant that she saw him holding her cousin's hand and offering to play a game with him that she was in love, and there was nothing that anyone could do about it. Narcissa couldn't help but think, years later, that perhaps devotion could waver and emotions could tear.

            When did the infallible love suddenly stop? When exactly had she been persuaded to a life of tears and sorrow? At what moment did her life start to crumple at her feet?



            One mistake, that was all it took to ruin her ideal family. They were told it was resist or serve, that there was no other way out. They either served the Dark Lord or prepare themselves for unavoidable death. If only it were that simple, only so pure. Serving seemed like the obvious decision at the time: the right choice that would lead the Black name into prominence.

            The simplest of things, however, are never easy and rarely pure. If only she knew that from the beginning. If only she tried harder to convince her husband that he was going about things the wrong way. If only she stopped her sister from blindly devoting her life for a cause that wasn’t even her own. If only she herself denied to be branded. If only she heeded to Andi’s advice and stayed neutral in the fight ultimately between good and evil. If onlys and what ifs… which ones could have changed the outcome? Or would they have been doomed no matter which path they chose to march down?

            She was told it would be a high honor to serve the Dark Lord. She was told that everything she ever wished and hoped for would become reality if her arm bore the Dark Mark. Then why, if nothing but good was supposed to come out of serving him, was her life slowly falling apart? Why must Reggie die and never have his body recovered? Why must Bella be destined to the tortures of Azkaban? Why must Lucius have to pay his way out of Azkaban? Why must the Malfoy and Black names be fated to be tainted with the label of dark?



-

            Her heels clicked on the broken and stained cobblestone walkway. She unconsciously drew her expensive emerald cloak tighter around her body as the icy air emitted from the Dementors licked her flesh. Blonde locks bounced back and forth like stiff pendulums as her strides quickened. Voices filled her head as she tried her hardest to push them away. Her breath hitched in her throat, and she found it difficult to breathe through her nose. Her pale lips parted, letting a puff of frosty breath escape.

            It was evident that her life of luxury and privilege was still intact, despite the mistakes the Malfoy and Black lines made. She was still married to one of the richest men in the Wizarding World - but doubts plagued her mind about the man whom she used to think she was made for. It seemed, however, that her once fulfilling life was nothing more than a mere black hole of darkness and despair. The absence of her older sister made the world appear depopulated in her eyes. Bella. She could remember when they were little girls running around Black manor picking flowers, dancing around in circles, making daytrips through their grandparents' meadow. The memories of them together were faint as the Dementors tampered with her mind, sucking out what little happiness that still remained.

            “Name,” a gruff voice snapped her out of her reverie.

            “Narcissa Malfoy,” she spoke curtly as her jaw tightened and nose shot up in the air. “I am here to visit Bellatrix Lestrange.”

            The wizard glared at her tone, his lips twitching into a sneer. He flipped through a clipboard of papers. Dark circles resided under his bloodshot eyes. His face was gaunt, his cheeks concaved as though they were large canyons. He towered over her, his upper body muscular and tight with tension. A pink tongue snaked out of his mouth, moistening cracked lips. The papers rustled as his fingers twitched and jerked involuntarily. Narcissa held back a noise of annoyance.

            “Cellblock seven,” he mumbled mostly to himself before speaking up. “It’s highly guarded. I’m sorry. I can’t give you permission to go down there.”

            "Did you not hear that my name is Narcissa Malfoy?” she challenged. “My husband Lucius Malfoy and father-in-law Abraxas Malfoy have spent a great deal of money to keep this sorry excuse of a prison running. I think you should reconsider your decision of denying me access to see Ms Lestrange before our generous donations suddenly cease to arrive.”

            The man seemed to consider the woman in front of him for several seconds before he reached into a drawer and pulled out a badge that read, “Azkaban Visitor – 8”. Narcissa grabbed the badge and fastened it carefully on her cloak. A hand stuck itself in front of her chest, gesturing to her wand that was tucked away in her cloak. Groaning, she handed over her wand almost reluctantly. Certainly, she didn't trust the buffoons employed at Azkaban to keep her safe from Dementors and the ingrates behind bars.



            After several long minutes, a guard appeared to take her down to cellblock seven which had just been cleared of all Dementors. The new man looked sick and weak. Narcissa felt more unsafe than before.

            The two walked briskly down the uneven floor of the prison. There were more stains in the long corridors, dark blackish spots as well as sickly greenish ones.  Several of the wizards banged on the bars of their cells and shouted obscene words to Narcissa - there were even a few men who thrust their naked bodies at her and growled almost as though they were barbaric animals striped down to the core. Others rocked back and forth in the corners of the cells with their heads in their hands - mumbling and crying softly to themselves.



            They turned left where a large seven was stamped on the weathered, granite wall. The shouting and crude gestures continued to be directed at Narcissa in the new corridor, but she really didn't expect anything less from savages. One wizard reached through the bars and made a grab for her. Flinching, she hurried to be as close to the guard as she could. She bumped into him, which caused the guard to send a spark from his wand at the wizard who tried to grope her. He leapt away from the metal bars, cursing loudly while spitting in their direction.

            One prisoner caught Narcissa's eye in particular and not because she was frightened or disgusted by him. A young man with long, black hair stared at her from the back of his cell. He was in nothing but tattered cloth pants. On his torso, a distinguishing tattoo was etched upon it - a tattoo that had not been there the last time she saw him. His gray eyes were distant and burned into her. She could have sworn she saw them flicker in recognition, a small spark of hope shining. A lump formed in her throat to see her tortured cousin.



            There was a time when Narcissa and Sirius used to play games on the grounds of their grandparents' manor, when they'd joke and laugh during dinnertime, when she'd tell him stories during boring parties, when he used to be a sweet little boy who would ran to her and her sisters when hurt. She could even remember the exact moment when he was sorted into Gryffindor, when he became outspoken against their family, when he had ran away from home, when he had been blasted off the family tree. She could remember being told he was no longer a Black, no longer her cousin, that he was nothing but vermin just like Mudbloods and Half-Breeds. Tears burned her pale eyes as she forced herself to look away. He was just another reason her life fell apart - her once favorite, bubbly cousin who had betrayed her family.

            She walked farther into the block until they finally reached the prisoner she longed to see. Bellatrix was lounging on an old, dusty cot with a cigarette hanging out of her mouth. Her black hair was in dirty snarls. Her robes were twisted on her thin frame and looked as though they had been intentionally ripped in several places. Bella took a drag of her cigarette as her eyes burned into her sister.

            “If it isn’t my perfect sister.” Bella’s voice was husky with sarcasm. “I hope you are only here to visit and not to become a guest in this humble abode. It isn’t as luxurious as it looks.”

            “You have ten minutes,” the guard spoke sternly as he unlocked the cell to allow Narcissa entrance.

            “Only here for a visit, Bella,” Narcissa replied once the guard left.

            “Of course, your loyalty to the Dark Lord isn’t as great as mine.”

            Narcissa stood stiffly with her back resting uncomfortably against the bars. There were so many thoughts running wild through her mind, so many things that needed to be said, but neither one of them felt it was the right place or time. They stood in silence for a couple of minutes - only the screams of the prisoners and Bella’s puffs of smoke could be heard. Narcissa wanted to cry out in anguish, but she knew Bella would only see that as weakness. How many times had Bella chastised her for crying when they were younger and carefree?



            “How did you get cigarettes?” Narcissa broke the deafening silence between them.

            “You can get anything in Azkaban if you are willing to pay the right price,” she replied with a sneer. “Naturally, everything but your freedom.”

            They lapsed into silence again as Bella flicked her cigarette butt at the opposite wall. She adjusted herself on the hard cot so that she could lean her head against the wall. Her eyes were heavy with weariness as she looked over at her younger sister as though she expected to see some change in her.

            “Is this worth it?” Narcissa burst out, her voice cracking ever so slightly. “Living in this nightmare to prove your brainless loyalty to a man who is dead?”

            “The Dark Lord is not dead!” Bella roared as she jumped up from the cot. “When he reemerges from the depths of hell that Harry Potter laid upon him, those of us who remained unconditionally devoted to him will be repaid in the highest of respects!”

         “Yes, yes,” Narcissa snapped with disdain lacing her words, “let us hope by then you are not dead or driven insane by the Dementors!”

            “You do not understand what the Dark Lord is capable of, Cissy! If you did, you would not be doubting the life he is offering you!”

            “What has he offered me?” she challenged. “A sister and cousin who are in prison? A cousin who is dead? A husband who had to pay his way out of Azkaban? He has given me nothing but grief!”

            “Reggie deserved to die for doubting the Dark Lord! Sirius isn’t even a Death Eater! Lucius is a coward! As for me, I am happy to live my life here until the Dark Lord brings salvation!”

            “Don’t be daft, Bella," she said curtly.

            “Don’t be so pessimistic, Cissy.”



            In that moment, Narcissa saw her sister as a stranger. She was no longer the girl who crafted games for her sisters and cousins. She was no longer the girl who stood up to bullies who were pushing around her younger family members. No, Bella was no longer the girl that Narcissa had grown up with, the girl who would laugh in the face of danger and loved her family more than anything. Narcissa couldn’t bear it any longer, so she left Azkaban with her mind set on the future – set onto her son. She would not allow her son to fall in the same pitfalls as so many Blacks before him.






            There was a certain etiquette that is instilled in every pureblood's mind from the time they learn how to comprehend what was said and done around them. There were rules that needed to be followed. Seven members of the Black family didn't heed to those regulations. Narcissa didn't much care at first for the sister and cousin she was ordered not to see or speak to again. They were the blood traitors who turned their backs on the family and not the other way around. With the Black empire crumbling beneath her, Narcissa made a spur of the moment decision - a choice she was sure that if she spent only seconds longer to contemplate she would never have made it.



            Before she could stop herself, Narcissa found herself outside of a small cottage with her knuckles rapping on the wooden door. After a few seconds of knocking, she regretted ever coming to the house or considering talking to someone who wasn't even worthy enough to be recognized as a Black any longer. With Bella gone, Narcissa needed an older sister to tell her what to do, how to deal, how to move on with her life.

            “I’ll get it!” a childish voice rang from beyond the door.

            The door swung open to reveal a small girl around the age of nine with vibrant purple hair surrounding her pale heart-shaped face. Narcissa couldn’t help but cringe at the sight of her so-called niece’s appearance. Forcing a smile onto her face, she asked for Andromeda. The girl opened her mouth and screamed in a shrill voice, “MUM!” at the top of her lungs. The girl stared at the woman before her, oblivious to the fact that the woman was indeed her aunt who couldn't be bothered with a half-blood.

            “Nymphador-”

            “Mum!” the girl whined. “How many times do I have to tell you to call me Tonks?”

            “How many times do I have to tell you to stop changing your hair to outrageous colors like that?” Andromeda snapped back.

            “I can’t help it! I sneezed, and it turned purple!” the girl replied annoyed.

            “You say that every single time, Dora! I just cannot under-” Andromeda broke off when she saw Narcissa standing in her doorway, “Cissy!”

            Andromeda strolled forward with her arms outstretched in a warming position. Being pulled into an embrace by her estranged sister, Narcissa cringed inwardly and hesitated before she slipped her arms around her sister as well. With two quick taps on the back, she pulled back from her older sister. The sisters had not seen each other since Andromeda moved out of Black Manor and married that Mudblood Ted Tonks. Their parents disowned Andromeda and wanted nothing to do with her after bringing such shame among the Black name. Forever being marked a blood traitor, she was disinherited from the family fortune.

            “Andi,” Narcissa whispered as she wrapped her arms protectively around her chest to ward off any more unwanted touching.

            “Long time no see!” Andromeda exclaimed as she stepped to the side to allow her younger sister into her home.

            “Likewise.”

            The house was small and the living room was decorated in an array of mix-matched furniture. On the end tables were pictures of Andromeda, her husband, and daughter. Narcissa picked up one photo to see a fifteen-year-old Andromeda in Slytherin robes with her arms around to Ravenclaw boys, one who happened to be Ted Tonks. Setting down the photo back into its spot, another picture caught her eye. Sirius Black lounged back in a chair with a blue-haired toddler sitting comfortably on his lap. He laughed as the toddler pouted at whatever had made him laugh.

            “Would you like something to drink?” asked Andromeda.

            “No, no thank you.” She cleared her throat as her eyes wandered longingly to the door.

            “I didn’t see you at Bella’s trial,” Andromeda commented.

            “No,” Narcissa replied as she glanced up at her sister, “Lucius didn’t think it was proper.”

            “It wasn’t much of a trial anyways,” Andromeda announced as she sat herself down in the nearest chair. “Bella just shouted a whole bunch of bullshit about how she was going to be repaid for being a loyal follower to the Dark Lord.”

            “Bella was never able to keep her mouth shut.”

            “Always loyal though… sort of surprised she wasn’t in Hufflepuff.” Andromeda grinned impishly. "Gosh, she'd kill me if she heard me say that… quite literally too I suspect."

            Narcissa didn’t say anything to her sister’s comment. She sneered slightly and turned her head away. There were just so many rules to adhere to, so many regulations of whom she could and could not speak with. Narcissa longed for the days when the three sisters got along famously, longed for when they would share a bed and talk into the late hours of the night. Narcissa hated Andromeda for choosing the Mudblood over her, hated her so very much.

            “Why are you here, Cissy? I’m sure you don’t need to borrow money or a pair of earrings,” Andromeda said with a hurt tone in her voice. “We both know that you’re at least ten times richer than I’ll ever be – considering you married into a rich, respectable family and didn’t get blasted off the Black family tree. I’m sure it’s not for a little reunion with mother, father, and Aunt Walburga. I’m sure that you’re not here to discuss Sirius or Regulus either.”

            “I don’t need money nor am I here to discuss our family.”

            “One would think that family would be what you would want to discuss.”

            “You were disowned by the Black family when you decided to marry that Mudblood,” Narcissa snapped. “You could have everything, yet you have nothing because you couldn’t marry into a reputable family!”

            “For someone who is disowned, I certainly care more about our family than you do! Who was at Regulus' memorial? Who was at Bella’s trial? Who was the one who went to the Ministry after Sirius was taken to Azkaban to figure out what happened? Not you, that’s for sure.”

            “Oh, for Merlin’s sake, Andi! Don’t go pretending like you’re the perfect, innocent sister in all of this!”

            “Don’t start on me, Cissy,” Andromeda roared. “You were too caught up with Lucius that you didn’t even realize what was happening to our family! Bella’s a Death Eater. Did you know that? They say Reggie was one too. They say Sirius joined as well, but if Sirius is a Death Eater then I’m Grindelwald.”

            Narcissa unconsciously ran a hand over her left arm. The dark mark burned faintly in her arm, but it was nearly faded now. All the marks were nearly gone now. They were quickly disappearing for the Dark Lord vanished – but for how long? How long would Lord Voldemort cease to exist in a post-war England? Surely, he wasn’t dead. He often talked about how he went to extreme measures to ensure that he couldn’t be killed. What extreme measures could they be though?

            “It was a mistake coming here,” Narcissa mumbled as she slowly made her way to the front door. “Sorry to have wasted your time, sister dear.”



            "You know, Cissy, I have my thoughts about you."



            "What thoughts would those be, Andromeda?" Narcissa snapped as her hand clenched the doorknob.



            "I know you only joined him because of Lucius and Bella. I know that you would never put Draco in harm's way. I get it, Cissy, I really do. You thought the Dark Lord was powerful, unbeatable. You thought it was the right path to go down. It's only now that you're realizing that he wasn't as strong as he was made out to be, that he was weak and pathetic and now our family is paying the ultimate price."



            "Don't even presume you know what you're talking about." She didn't dare look at her sister. "Don't you dare judge me or my family."

            Andromeda merely sneered at her sister as she watched Narcissa wrenched the door open. With a loud WHACK! she slammed the front door shut with no intention of ever going back.



-

            If only she could go back to when she was a child, a teenager even. She could remember the games her sisters and her played before Andi chose the wrong sort of partner… before Bella went insane for power. She could remember the first day she met Lucius at the tender age of seven. She could feel the love and adoration she felt for him then. Now, however, her family was either dead, disowned, in prison, or changed so much that she couldn't even recognize them anymore.



            Was it too much to ask to go back to the way things were before the Dark Lord and the Death Eater deeds? Back to a time before war when the only thing Narcissa worried about was looking perfect for her dates with Lucius. She missed the family dinners at Aunt Walburga's home, missed the lazy summer days at her grandparents', and longed for a time when her family all got along.


Chapter 2: The Loss of Innocence
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“Paper Tiger”

“Chapter Two: The Loss of Innocence”

 

1972: Narcissa is 17, Sirius is 13

            It was an annual dinner that all Blacks had to attend unless they were blasted off the family tapestry. It was a celebration of the year, a dinner to honor hard work in both work and academics. Every single Black child was currently attending Hogwarts or already graduated. The newest graduate was Narcissa, finishing tenth in her class and newly engaged to her playground boyfriend.

            Narcissa sat in-between Lucius and Sirius, a grand smile shining brightly through every inch of her body. As soon as she had stepped off the Hogwarts Express, Lucius swept her up in his arms and proposed. Everyone congratulated them, swooned over the diamond on her finger, fussed over how handsome their children would be. Everyone except Sirius Black who refused to acknowledge that anything out the ordinary occurred.


            “Oh, I’m so excited. It’s going to be simply divine!” Narcissa gushed. “Bella, you’ll be the maid of honor, right?”


            “Of course, Cissy. I wouldn’t dream of anyone else taking my place!”

            “Sirius and Reggie will be groomsmen, naturally.”

            Next to her, Sirius faltered shoveling the food around his plate but said nothing. After a few seconds, he started to once more play with the food.


            “I’m just glad to see you are going to marry into a respectable name and family,” Aunt Walburga beamed. “A Black and Malfoy union will be a grand affair just like the Black and Lestrange marriage was.”


            “Certainly no Muggles or Mudbloods will be in attendance unlike the last pseudo-Black wedding,” Uncle Orion cut in. “I’m just glad that nobody in this room was apart of that.”


            Narcissa glanced at her cousin next to her. He had been furious last summer when he had been denied to go to Andromeda’s wedding, infuriated when his parents locked him up in his room and refused to allow him out until they were certain that Andi and the Mudblood were off on their honeymoon.


            At the time, she had been completely torn. Part of her wanted to attend her sister’s wedding so badly that it nearly hurt. Then, a more prominent part of her, could not condone her marriage to a Mudblood and forget about how she had dishonored their family. 


            “I hear this Dark Lord emerging is doing a fabulous job at ridding the world of Mudbloods,” Father spoke proudly. “It will be such a nice change once he succeeds.”


            “I daresay, Cygnus, that I absolutely agree with that statement,” Rodulphus added. “I truly wish to get involved in the movement.”


            “Oh, you radical wizards,” Aunt Walbugra chuckled. “I remember back in the day when Orion, Druella, Cygnus, and I would get involved in social movements. It’s a very important thing for young wizards and witches to do. You find the right cause and you support it to your fullest ability.”


            “Lucretia used to run with us as well until she married that Prewett. Now, she’s very quiet in the movement realm,” Mother added.


            “Our parents got us involved, naturally. Our aunts and uncles as well. Although, Dorea never truly wished to partake in such things,” Aunt Walburga continued. “Then she went off and married that Potter boy. I daresay, it’s still shocking whenever I see them. They’re so reserved in their thoughts.”


            Narcissa noticed that Sirius tensed beside her, his hand clenching his fork. His eyes were glaring at his parents across the table, his jaw set and breathing heavy.


            “I must say though that out of all the friends Sirius has picked up at school, at least he befriended a pureblood with Black blood in him as James Potter. Although, I must confess, it concerns me that he follows Dorea and Charlus’s philosophy and not the Black philosophy of life,” Uncle Orion spoke gently. “The Potters are only reinforcing Sirius’ rebellious behavior.”


            “The Potters are the greatest Wizarding family that there ever was!” Sirius seethed through gritted teeth.


            “The Blacks are the greatest Wizarding family there ever was and don’t you forget it,” Aunt Walburga hissed.


            “The Dark Lord will assure that the Black family name stays in prominence,” Bella joined in.


            “Our family is drowning! You all think that this Dark Lord is the greatest thing since Quidditch when he’s really a foul, evil man who will only destroy our world! Can’t you get that through your thick skulls?” shouted Sirius who rose out of his chair and gripped the edge of the table tightly until the whites of his knuckles shown brightly against the mahogany.


            “You will not speak ill of him!” Bella rose from her chair as well, eyes blaring wildly. “The Dark Lord will bring our world salvation! Those who will walk alongside him, those who believe his word as law, will be delivered!”


            A bitter laugh escaped Sirius’s lips. It had become a common scene in the Black household – Sirius and Bellatrix squaring off at each other as though they were the worst of enemies. Both stubborn and the most outspoken of all the Blacks, they always butted heads with each other since they were kids. When Sirius was sorted into Gryffindor, well, the fights only grew out of control. They often had shouting matches where the worst of insults would be thrown in their faces.


            “I want to be excused,” Sirius commanded.


            “You will eat your dinner and shut your mouth!” his mother shouted.


            Sirius collasped back in his chair, arms cross over his chest. Two pairs of grey eyes glared at each other. The tension was palpable and would snap a knife in half if tried to be sliced.

            It was common knowledge within the old families that Sirius and Andromeda were troublemakers. They often defied their families and carried torches for causes that were not their own. They walked diligently on a campaign trial and shouted their points of views. They lived by the philosophy that whoever is the loudest will win, so they outrageously made sure that the proper wizards knew their positions.


            “Aunt Walburga,” Narcissa spoke softly, “perhaps it would be best if Sirius were to go to his room. I would love to discuss the wedding farther and cease all this talk about Mudbloods and Muggles.”


            “Get out of my sight, Sirius!”


            He rose from his chair at his mother’s request and sulked upstairs. The family usually said that Sirius had more millstones around his neck than anyone they had ever met. The boy was constantly rioting trouble with new causes that would only be looked poorly upon in the Black family. Whenever he thought something would upset the family, he made it his business to turn the belief into his own little millstone.


            Narcissa liked to believe it was only just a phase, a rebellious phase that he would grow out of. One sister had already been lost, and Narcissa didn’t think she could bear losing a cousin as well.


            After dinner, when every retired to their rooms, Narcissa grabbed a piece of desert and made her way up to her cousin’s room. Upon entering, she noted that his trunk was packed and owl missing. The door snapped softly behind her.


            “I brought you some desert so don’t say that I never did anything for you.”


            She sat the desert down on the dresser when Sirius refused to take it. Collapsing down on his bed, he stared at his cousin through bloodshot eyes.


            “Are you going someplace?”


            “I owled James to see if I could spend the summer with him.”


            “You’re more than welcomed to stay at my flat.”


            Narcissa thought that maybe, just maybe, if she took a more subtle approach with Sirius that she could turn him around in his ways. Obviously, a strict hand with Sirius was not the way to go about the situation. He wouldn’t listen to shouts and demands. Perhaps, if she could gently show him the wrongs of his ways, he could go back to being the Sirius he used the be.


            “Thanks, Cissy, but no thanks.”


            “Well, eat your desert and be sure to owl me if you do spend the summer with James.”


            With that, she let herself out of the room. Her back eased against the door, a long sigh bubbling up her throat and muscles tensing in her shoulders. 


1973: Narcissa is 18, Sirius is 14


            Narcissa peered into the library on the first floor of her aunt and uncle’s home to see her cousin curled up on the windowsill reading one of his schoolbooks. Rapping gently onto the doorframe, she invited herself in. Sirius glanced up at her briefly before turning his attention back on the book.


            Crossing the room, she grabbed an ottoman and tugged it along the wood floor. Once it was positioned in front of the window, she took a seat. Her hand reached out to grab the book, which was Transfiguration, out of Sirius’ loose grip and closed it shut before placing it on her lap.


            “What?” he sighed.


            “I’ve been writing you all year and you never responded back.”


            Sirius gazed out the window, refusing to look at her. It was raining. Puddles accumulated in the streets. When the rain pelted down into the puddles, bubbles rippled through the water. Muggle children were dancing in the rain and their mothers were screaming at them to get into the house.


            “I’m getting married, Sirius, and I want you to be there. I already cleared it with Lucius. He says you can be a groomsman.”


            “I don’t want to be a groomsman,” he replied sharply. “I don’t even want to go to the wedding.”


            Clearing her throat, Narcissa turned away from her cousin in order to blink back the tears that burned her eyes. Sure, the pair of them hadn’t really gotten along in awhile, but she had hoped bygones could be bygones. She hadn’t said one ruddy word when he got sorted into Gryffindor and started befriending Mudbloods. She overlooked it, because he’d surely come to his senses sooner or later.


            “It would mean the world to me, Sirius.”


            “Is ‘Dromeda going?”


            “No.”


            Sirius looked at her, his grey eyes fiercely boring into her. He shook his head, a deep frown etching into his lips and eyebrows.


            “Did you even invite her?”


            “What does it matter?”


            “It matters more than you think it does,” he snapped. “Did you invite her or just conveniently forget to send out an invitation?”


            “Andi has dishonored our family and has committed disloyalty towards the great house of Black.”


            Sirius just laughed, a sneer working its way onto his pallid face. It was a sneer that she had never seen on her cousin before, a sneer that always seemed to be affixed onto Uncle Orion’s face. Narcissa never thought she’d see the day when Sirius would look so much like his father.


            “She’s been disinherited, Sirius! I couldn’t even invite her if I wanted to,” she reasoned.


            “Fuck the noble house of Black, Cissy! Stand up for what you believe in and don’t just follow the flow of what Lucius and our parents want! Andi didn’t. Andi fell in love and married the man of her dreams; because of that, she’s no longer viewed to be one of us. She’s still family though, Cissy. The same blood runs through all our veins!”


            The last time that Narcissa could recall her cousin crying was when he was nine. He had been climbing a monolithic tree at their grandparents’ home in Wales. It was dark outside since they all decided to retire after a formal Ministry party. Sirius met James Potter at the party, pulled pranks with the boy and befriended him. When out of earshot from the Potters and everyone else, Aunt Walburga told him to stay away from the Potters and that they were not allowed to be friends.


            Sirius rebelled and stormed out of their grandparents’ house. He climbed the tree quickly, his feet slipping every so often on small branches. Aunt Walburga and Uncle Orion shouted at him to get down. Narcissa could remember standing there holding her father’s lit wand as he started to climb up the tree after his nephew.


            When her father got too close, Sirius just let go. He fell through the air for what seemed like forever. Aunt Walburga shouted to let him fall, to not help. Narcissa watched with large eyes as her nephew collided with the hard earth and cried out when something snapped upon impact. With his arm broken in several plces, Aunt Walburga refused to fix it and said it was a lesson he had to learn.


            Hours passed as Narcissa and Andromeda sat with their cousin, his arm cradled protectively against his chest and dried tears caked upon his white face. It was only after Narcissa begged Bellatrix to fix it, bribing her with whatever she liked, that Sirius’s arm was set. Bella went eye level with Sirius and told him that next time he was a naughty boy, she’d let him suffer.


            Narcissa stared at her cousin now, six years later. He physically matured as he was taller than any of the Black women. In fact, the only person who stood taller than him was his father Orion. Except, in so many ways, mentally and emotionally, Sirius failed to mature at all. It deeply disturbed Narcissa more than she was willing to admit.


            The teenager in front of her fought so hard to hold back the tears that were stinging his eyes. Wiping a hand furiously over his eyes, Sirius turned away from her to glance out the window once more. The Muggle children disappeared into their homes.


            “I’ll go, but I refuse to take part in it and I refuse to give you my blessing. Lucius Malfoy is a vile man who will do nothing but destroy you.”


            “Lucius loves me, and he would do nothing to harm me,” she whispered. “You used to like him. Remember? The three of us were always together. He taught you how to play Quidditch, took you to the tournaments with his family, came over anytime you were sick with games and candy. He’s still the same as a man as he was a child.”


            “He’s changed, Cissy. We all have.”


            He glanced at her with big eyes and a weary face. There was something in that glare that unnerved Narcissa greatly except she couldn’t quite place her finger on it. It was a haunted look, one of a boy who had been through too much.


            “How have we changed? I haven’t. Lucius hasn’t. You have though, Sirius, you parade around Hogwarts acting like we don’t mean anything to you. We’re family and you act like it’s a curse to be family.”


            “Our parents kicked Andi out of the family, Cissy, and I know I’m next. It’s only a matter of time before I get thrown out into the streets. I don’t believe what our parents believe. Me being sorted into Gryffindor was the first straw and every time I tell them to shut up with their wicked comments, another straw is added. My friendships with James and Remus and Peter… it’s just causing tension. I’ll be kicked out within the year, I just know it.”


            “You’re not going to be kicked out, Sirius. That’s just ludicrous. Where would you even go?”


            “It’s not crazy, Cissy. My parents’ hate me and they’re already telling Reggie to stay away from me. I’m so isolated in my own home. I just… if I don’t get kicked out soon, then I’ll just leave on my own accord. I don’t know how much longer I can bear it here.”


            “If it ever becomes too much, just promise me that you’ll come to me. You’ll always have a bed in my home.”


            Sirius leaned forward and wrapped his arms around his cousin. His face buried into the crook of her neck and his hands gripped the back of her robes. It had been three years since Sirius had given her a hug, three years since he showed her any kind of physical affection. Narcissa wrapped her arms around her cousin and rubbed his back soothingly.


1975: Narcissa is 20, Sirius is 16


            Narcissa had never cried more in her life. Her hands clenched Lucius’ robes as though her very life depended on it. The final straw was placed upon the camel’s back and Sirius Black was no longer supposed to be considered family.


            The large grandfather clock chimed throughout the house, and Narcissa’s heart churned. Her cousin stormed out of his home five hours earlier and immediately the whole family was notified of Sirius’ disobedience, his ignorance, his disloyalty. Why hadn’t he just come to her? Why did he have to denounce their family and get kicked out?


            She knew it was a long time coming. Ever since Sirius met James Potter, he began to change. Narcissa watched her adorable, loyal cousin quickly transform into a badmouthing, disobedient man who hated his family with a fiery passion. A part of her always thought that perhaps she could put him back on the right path, that she could fix whatever was broken within him. She failed miserably, because he refused to confide in her.


            There was a knock at the front door. Lucius untangled himself from his wife to answer it. She drew herself up into a ball and rested her head onto her drawn up knees. Hopefully, it was Bella behind the door because she needed her sisters – no, sister.

            “Is Narcissa here?” a familiar voice echoed throughout the manor.


            She unfolded herself, her neck craning in an attempt to see her cousin. Lucius’ frame was blocking any view of him and a tinge of disappointment filled every fiber of her body.


            “You are no longer recognized in this household.”


            “I need to talk to Cissy.”


            “I only allow loyal and honest men into my household and, Sirius, since you are neither, I cannot allow you access.”


            She rose slowly from the couch and crossed the distance to the entryway. There, in the doorframe, stood Sirius Black looking exhausted and downtrodden. When he caught sight of her, a forced smile crossed his grey face.


            “Cissy, can I talk to you outside, alone?” Sirius’s eyes pleaded.


            “Narcissa,” Lucius warned.


            Turning to look at her husband, she raised a sole finger before stepping outside with her cousin. Crossing her arms over her chest, she remained silent. She glanced up at Sirius which seemed so foreign to her in the past couple of years. She was so used to him looking up to her.


            “Word says that Lucius has joined ranks with the Death Eaters.”


            She didn’t dare respond.


            “Word also says that Bella’s joined ranks too.”


            Her throat tightened.


            “Cissy, please, let me help you.”


            “Help me with what?”


            “War is upon us and Lucius is going to drown. He will only pull you with him. I can’t bear to see you go down too.” Sirius licked his lips. “It’s hard, I know. We were so poisoned growing up, Cissy. Our parents just fed us with prejudices and evils. The lies became a maze that seemed nearly impossible to escape. Sometimes… Merlin, Cissy, sometimes I still have vile thoughts in my head. They’re just always there and they creep up so easily.”


            Narcissa looked away. She looked anywhere but his face. It was too painful to look at him because every time she looked at him, she still saw the cheerful little boy who tried so hard to please his family.


            “It’s wrong, Cissy. Muggleborns don’t deserve to be treated like vermin.”


            “They have no right in our world!”


            “Cissy…”


            “No, Sirius, they don’t. Think of it this way, I am a human. If I went around acting like a cat, I would be conceived as bonkers! I am not a cat. I am a human, a witch. I have the birthright of a witch. A Muggleborn has the birthright of a Muggle. They can’t go parading around like they’re something they’re not. It is beyond insulting.”


            When she dared look at him, he ran a hand down his face and widened his posture. It looked as though he wanted to say something but thought better of it.


            “Please, Sirius, just apologize and proceed to atonement.”


            “I can’t do that. While you find yourself aligned with the Dark Lord, I will find myself aligned with Albus Dumbledore.”


            “Sirius, please! I beg of you. I can’t lose you too!”


            “I remember a little over a year ago, you told me that if it ever became too much to bear that you would always have a place for me. Funny how the tables have turned since my mother made me a scorch mark… how quickly you forget your promises.”


            A man strolled towards the house from the street, a familiar looking man with pepper hair and round glasses perched on his nose. Charlus Potter stopped behind Sirius and placed a comforting had on his shoulder. The teenager leaned back into the older man as his eyes slid shut.


            Narcissa looked beyond the pair to see her great aunt Dorea and James Potter standing on the curb. She had an arm wrapped around her son, a frown etched into every feature of her face.


            “Narcissa, pay my respects to your parents and relatives. We seem to run in different social circles as of late,” Charlus spoke gently.


            “Be warned that Aunt Walburga might blast you three off the family tree as well.”


            “Walburga knows her place. She may not agree with our positions, but she will not blast off such a prominent name as Potter from the Black tree. It’s all about bloodlines,” he explained with a frown. “The Prewett’s still stand tall with their linage on the tree I hear despite the fact that their sons are very outspoken against this so-called Dark Lord rising.”


            “The Weasleys were blasted off the tree,” she reasoned.


            “Yes, well, while Weasley might be a pureblood name, they lack the certain financial and social status of the Prewetts and Potters.”


            “It’s degrading,” Sirius spoke up. “It makes me so angry. Who cares for blood?”


            “Come, Sirius, let’s go home.”

            With a tap on the shoulder to his newfound house guest and a curt nod towards his estranged relative, Charlus led Sirius towards the curb where the rest of his family waited. With a pop, they were all gone. Narcissa never felt so alone before.


1995: Narcissa is 40, Sirius is 36


            At first, in the deepest seed of her mind, she heard a man’s heavy and broken breathing from behind her. Then, one arm slipped around her waist and the other hand clamped over her mouth. She shuddered in the man’s arms as he extracted her wand from her robes and everything went into a swirl.


            Everything around her melted, the colors swirling together in a mixture of different hues. She could feel her heart pounding wildly against her chest, hammering to burst through the muscle and skin. Then, when the colors settled, she was pushed against a dingy wall forcefully.


            Looming in front of her was a man she only recognized from the papers. He looked so different than the last time she saw him in person. His eyes were lackluster, wrinkles dug into his forehead, a few streaks of grey hidden in with his long, black locks. 


            “Sirius, you look… different.”


            “I’ve only one thing to say to you, Narcissa.”


            There was malice in his tone that she had never experienced before. In fact, if she didn’t know any better, she would not believe that the man stationed in front of her was her cousin.


            “If you or Lucius touch one hair on Harry Potter’s head, I swear to Merlin that I will do to Draco exactly what you do to him.”


            “You think that I would harm a child?”


            Sirius gripped her wrist tightly and shoved up the sleeve to her robe to reveal the dark mark on her pallid flesh. A bitter laugh escaped his lips as he roughly pushed the arm away.


            “You bear the dark mark. I wouldn’t put it pass you.”


            “What choice did I have?” she screamed. “It was join him or die! I never touched anyone! I never went on one of his silly little missions! I bear the mark but I don’t partake.”


            “If that’s true, then you and Draco need to get away from Voldemort… from Lucius. Dumbledore will protect you. I’ll protect you. Just come with me, Cissy.”


            Tears burned Narcissa’s eyes but she refused to let them fall. Jutting her chin up, she flattened herself against the wall.


            “I will not leave my husband’s side. Our son will not betray his father. I know my loyalties are to my family which is something that you seemed to have forgotten long ago.”


            “Tell Lucius that if he touches my godson, I will not hesitate to kill your son.”


            With that, Sirius disappeared. Melting down the wall, Narcissa let the tears fall from her eyes. She glanced out the window of the decrepit house to see Hogsmeade in the distance.


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