A/N: Thank you to Jamie_Malfoy for the title! There were loads of good ideas, I'll probably use most of them at some point. Reviews welcome :-)

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The Butterfly Flawed

Painful head. Raw throat. Sour stench. Narcissa opens her eyes only to clench them tightly shut against the piercing morning light. Sudden nausea overtakes her and she leans over the side of the bed to spew up onto the polished wooden floor.

‘Welcome to the land of the living’ remarks Flavia dryly.

Narcissa looks up to see her dark haired friend clearing up the vomit with a swift ‘scourgify’ charm. Flavia raises an elegantly arched eye-brow before commenting:

‘At least I’ll never forget that charm again – I certainly had enough practice at it last night! Bloody hell Narcissa, for a small person you must have an enormous stomach to produce such vast amounts of yuckiness. . .’

Narcissa laughs weakly, regretting it immediately as it causes her head to pound even more. Flavia looks at her again, this time with eyes dark and solemn.

‘Cissa, why did you drink so much? I’d have thought you of all people would avoid getting drunk. If Snape hadn’t taken you here, and I hadn’t arrived last night instead of this morning, Merlin knows what would have happened!’

Tears dribble down Narcissa’s face as she hugs her knees tightly to her chest. The physical sickness is nothing compared to the hideous fact that she can barely remember the events of last night.

‘I just – I’m so sorry – I don’t know; I just wanted to forget everything, to wipe out what a mess I am. . .’

Flavia sighs as she looks at her friend sobbing on the bed, her face a mess of tears, snot and sick. She cannot stand to see dignified, beautiful Narcissa Black in such despair.

* * *

Flavia and Narcissa clamber off their brooms onto the barren, windswept moor. The crisp wind stings colour into Narcissa’s blanched cheeks as Flavia paces back and forth, muttering in concentration and scrutinising a dog-eared map. Eventually she comes back to stand beside her friend, a look of satisfaction on her face.

‘Right. This is the place; I just got confused for a moment. I’ll come back when I think you’ve had enough time.’

Narcissa glares at her friend in exasperated confusion.

‘Flavia: where the hell are we, and why?! You just told me to get my behind on my broom and follow you!’

The brunette merely smiles as she elegantly jumps back onto her broom–stick and flies away into the sky.

* * *

Narcissa plonks herself down onto a patch of heather, scanning the surroundings with impatient curiosity. At least Flavia’s bizarre escapade goes someway in distracting her mind from last night’s disaster. Her mother informed her at breakfast that Evan Rosier and Severus Snape were in St. Mungo’s due to the effects of an extremely violent duel. ‘Absolutely destroyed the fourth floor carpeting!’ announced Elladora fretfully. ‘And neither will admit what it was about. Boys!’

Her brow furrows in concentration; she knows that Severus helped her but she can’t remember the details – yet thinking of her taciturn friend brings a blush to her face as she grasps at an elusive wisp of memory, a tantalising impression of Severus’ body being pressed against hers . . .

A soft crunching footstep on the dry earth alerts Narcissa to the presence of another person. She whips around, wand at the ready, but can see no one.

‘Who’s there?’ she asks, her shaking voice belying her fear. There is a soft whisper of silken fabric; then he stands before her, invisibility cloak draped through his hands.


* * *

Sirius didn’t know where he was going when he Apparated from his erstwhile family home. Hell, Sirius didn’t even know he could Apparate. So when he found himself at the bottom of the long, overgrown drive that led to the comfortably sprawling Potter house, he had to pause a second to scrub away a few shameful tears.

The door was answered by James himself, as his parents were both working at the ministry. The gangling, bespectacled boy took one look at Sirius’ face and knew everything he needed to know – that was the kind of friendship they had – any attempt to describe it would end in inadequate clichés: ‘two of a kind’, ‘quite the double act’, ‘comrades-in-arms’, ‘closer than brothers. . .’ Such a friendship is a mixed blessing, because letting another person become part of you is to risk that one day they might be ripped away, leaving a wound that can never heal. Yet at that moment Sirius was unimaginably grateful to James for not demanding explanations, not expecting him to pour out his heart. All he wanted to do was sleep.

* * *

A few days later and Sirius, on the surface at least, was healing. He and James played endless games of Quidditch in which Sirius whacked away Bludgers with a savage violence that disturbed James more than he cared to admit. James’ parents inwardly seethed when they saw what the Blacks had done to Sirius, but they knew there was no legal action they could pursue successfully; the Black house was far too rich and far too well-connected. So they did what they could, welcoming the embittered teenager into their home as they had done for so many summers, showing him what family love really meant, but this time on a permanent basis.

About a week before full-moon a letter arrived from Remus Lupin, inviting the pair, along with Peter Pettigrew, to his Yorkshire home. Sirius looked up at James after they read the parchment, his grey eyes solemn.

‘James, can you not. . .tell Remus and Pete? I mean, I’ll let them know at some point but not yet. I can’t face talking it over again, and seeing their pity.’

‘They wouldn’t pity you; they’d just want to help. I thought that was what the Marauders were about.’

‘I know I know; I’m just not ready to share it yet. Haven’t even told you what Narcissa accused me of. . .it’s too raw.’

James smiled at his friend compassionately, giving him an enthusiastic yet awkward hug. Afterwards he cleared his throat and polished his glasses in boyish embarrassment at his physical affection.

‘Don’t worry Padfoot, I won’t let on.’

At this Sirius flashed a devilish grin, his features lighting in a mischievousness that had been missing for far too long:

‘Well it’s good you agreed Prongs, or I’d have had to resort to blackmail - I heard some rather strange noises from your room last night, and mention of a certain red-headed prefect. . .’

Flushing scarlet, James pushed Sirius backwards, the signal for the pair to begin a friendly wrestling match, expressing their love for one another in a respectably manly fashion.

* * *

Moony was worried about something. It wasn’t the fast-approaching full-moon, as for the first summer his friends would be able to keep him company, but Sirius could sense that something was troubling his amber-eyed friend. His suspicions were confirmed when Remus said they needed to talk, leading him to the end of the back garden which opened out onto the moors.

‘Alright Moony, what’s going on?’ Sirius asked flatly, arms folded across his chest. ‘I know you’re hiding something, you’ve got the same look in your eyes you had when you didn’t want us to know you were a werewolf.’ The tenderness in his grey eyes contrasts his blunt words; Sirius cares deeply for his fellow Marauders and can’t stand to have them saddened. A touch of anger flickered across Remus’ usually gentle face:

‘You’ve not been so open yourself, Sirius. I know you ran away from home.’

The words hung between them ominously, amber eyes meeting grey, until Sirius dropped his head.

‘I’m sorry, Remus. I should have told you. I was going to, soon, but I should have talked about it when I got here.’

Remus’ face softend as he clapped his friend on the shoulder.

‘No hard feelings Padfoot. Heh, I’m not one to judge! But if you ever want to talk about it, well, I’m always here. Unless it’s the full-moon of course, I doubt the wolf goes in much for sensitive heart-to-hearts.’

Sirius smiled in relief, the air thankfully cleared. However, a small frown faltered over his mouth:

‘If you don’t mind me asking, how did you find out? About me leaving Number Twelve?’

Now it was Remus’ turn to hang his head, shifting nervously from one foot to another.

‘A friend told me. They know Narcissa, you see. And, well – she’s very upset. Narcissa, I mean. The person only sent a short note but it sounds pretty serious.’

The black-haired boy’s hands clenched at the first mention of Narcissa, a bitter grimace twisting his handsome face. But in spite of himself he felt worry for his cousin burn through his veins.

‘What do you mean, “serious”? What’s happened?’

Remus shook his head agitatedly:

‘I don’t know Sirius, Flavia Flint just wrote that she was really upset and had done some stupid stuff.’

‘Wait a second, who’s Flavia. . .oh she’s the Slytherin Quidditch captain’s sister. . .but how the hell do you know her?’

‘I don’t know her very well at all; we’ve just seen each other at Charms Club a few times. I suppose she just banked on the fact that I’d know where you were.’

Turning away to hide his conflicted face, Sirius struggled to control the thoughts pounding through his head.
She can’t just accuse me of something that awful then expect me to come crawling back when she turns on the water works. . .She cared more about the feelings of her fucking Death Eater sister than me. . .What’s she done? – What’s so serious a Slytherin would ask a Gryffindor for help? . . . Fuck, Cissa, how come you can still do this to me. . .What have you done. . .

He span back round towards Remus, who had been patiently waiting for his friend to finish his vicious internal battle.

‘Alright. I’ll see Narcissa. Where is she?’

* * *

She is sitting in the heather, golden hair blown into disarray by the winds that sweep over the moor. Her face is pale and blotchy, eyes swollen and red-lidded with black shadows beneath. Beautiful Narcissa has never looked uglier.

It hurts to see her. And although Sirius still stings from the bitterness of her betrayal, still feels the anger at her duplicity choking up his throat like bile, he finds he can’t just walk away without speaking to her as he had originally planned. He steps forward and lets James’ invisibility cloak slip, schooling his expression into a blank mask.


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