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Author's Note To make a long story short, I decided that I couldn't let all the work I've put in this story go to waste. I promise you that I'll finish Ambrosia and I promise to respond as soon as I can to those reviews that I have received over the past few months. I love and appreciate all of you, whether you remember me or not. I hope you enjoy.

-Gubby






BEE STING




Narcissa would never look at her sister the same way again. But she had to try. And if she couldn’t treat her normally, she could at least treat her better.

Dromeda seemed to have forgotten about how close she had unknowingly come to being betrothed to a wayward killer, but no one else had. The family was wary around her now. Druella stopped crying in the middle of the day, muttering about the shame of the dear Yaxley boy’s death. Bella wouldn’t even stay inside while Dromeda was home; no one knew where she ran off to, and no one cared to find out. Only Narcissa, eager to cling to her reputation for refined optimism and juvenile sophistication, acted no differently.

Three days after the disastrous tea, a boring Monday, Narcissa flounced into her sister’s room and demanded point-blank to be taken shopping.

“Oh, come on,” Narcissa grumbled winningly. “It’s not like you’ve anything better to do, and Mother doesn’t want me unaccompanied.”

“You don’t need anything.”

“I want everything.”

This was no surprise.

“And I got my letter this morning.” She waved it like a nation’s banner, proudly and tauntingly. “I’ve got to get books and new cloaks and potions ingredients and such. So you’ll come, won’t you, Dromeda? Of course you will!” She hadn’t said anything more, but with her stoic and flighty disposition of late, there was no point waiting. Dromeda’s mood needed moulding. “Now please put that dreadful book down and get dressed, for heaven’s sake!”

Narcissa galloped out of the room to allow sister for time to ready herself. As she waited, she ran her index finger over the delicate folds and creases of her Muggle lover’s origami dragon. It was the strangest thing she’d ever seen. This Thursday, she would ask him to make another, and allow her to observe the technique. This, she reflected, turning it over in her hands, was its own brand of magic.

The very thought of magic, her lover’s brand of magic, sent chills down her spine.

Dromeda emerged twenty minutes later, dressed quite well, for her. A yellow sundress and her signature light sweater. It was black today, for reasons no one really could understand. She looked like a bee, and felt equally as nosy. There was always a reason for Cissa’s whims, and she didn’t mind devoting her day to snuffing that reason out.

She came to the kitchen to find her sister at the sink, her finger thrust into a torrent of tap water.

Narcissa heard her coming, and winced, “Paper cut,” without having to be asked.

“What paper? Ugh, never mind, come here.” The girl obeyed placidly, and stuck her quivering, bleeding finger under Dromeda’s wand. Within a moment the porcelain skin was smoothed over. There was a very faint scar where the split had been, but the older witch never had mastered healing spells. Narcissa, in any case, did not see it. “Right-o. Diagon Alley, then? Run along, run along, I haven’t got all day!”

Narcissa knew this was not the case, but didn’t say anything. She fingered the dragon in her pocket. Even as she as she trooped over to the fireplace, she was really thinking of Sirius’ face when he’d see her gift. How his eyes would sparkle, his smile brighten, his posture straighten! Sirius wasn’t a characteristically happy person. She couldn’t imagine that he’d be having much fun holed up in Grimmauld Place with Walburga hovering over everything he did. Yes, she knew it. This present, barely her own to give, would be Sirius’ saving grace this summer.

“By the way,” Dromeda said, halting just before their grate, “Auntie just Floo-ed into Mother’s room. She wants us to take the boys with us.”

Narcissa’s heart leapt a little bit, but she kept her excitement to a minimum. “Do we have to?” she pretended to whine. “Sirius has got to get his wand and cauldron and robes, and I have to get my stuff too, and we’ll have to get Regulus stuff to make him happy–”

“I’ll handle the boys, you get your things.” She grinned. “Can’t risk pissing off Auntie Walburga, can you, Cissa? Unless you don’t mind being sold to Lucius Malfoy?”

Narcissa made a face, and clambered into the grate. Her shout was lost in the roar of flames.

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