Chapter 1 : Narcissa's Choice
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Her family was waiting for her in the Slytherin common room. Her mother, Druella, was dressed in the house colours in honour of the occasion. Her green dress fit her wonderfully – no, perfectly. Just as expected, Narcissa thought as she came out of her dormitory and watched her mother’s slim figure in the expensive-looking dress.
One of her older sisters… Narcissa interrupted the thought. Her only sister, Bellatrix, was sitting in one of the chairs, twisting one of her dark locks around her finger while she waited. Their father was sitting in the opposite chair, and he rose to his feet as he saw his youngest daughter coming.
Cygnus Black III was an impressive man, not only due to his height. He was very handsome, with hair even darker than Bellatrix’s, broad shoulders and proportional facial features.
“Narcissa”, he greeted her. “How nice of you to finally come join us.”
“I’m sorry that you had to wait, father”, Narcissa responded, watching his face nervously.
“Well, becoming beautiful takes work”, Druella said while grabbing Narcissa’s chin to examine her face. “You’ve done well tonight.”
“Thank you, mother.”
“Shall we go then?” Bellatrix asked. “I believe the ceremony is starting soon. Of course they will have saved us seats, but I assume you’d want to be on time, Cissy, as it is your graduation.”
The family left the common room, made their way up from the dungeons and headed off for the Great Hall. The usual long tables had been removed and replaced by countless rows of chairs. Seats had been saved for the graduates in the front, and their families took up the rest of them. Narcissa said goodbye to her parents and sister and walked up to join her classmates.
As the headmaster, Albus Dumbledore, rose to begin his speech, Narcissa turned to watch her father’s face. Cygnus was staring up at the man, his normally handsome face distorted with hatred and disgust. Narcissa’s father and the headmaster could not have been more unlike each other. Dumbledore was the kind of man who would have been proud to see his child marry a Muggle-born. Cygnus, on the other hand, now only had two daughters.
“As you leave this castle tonight”, Dumbledore said, peering out at the students over the top of his glasses, “you will enter a world entirely different from the one you’ve lived in over the last seven years. At Hogwarts, you have always got a second chance if you’ve made a mistake. There is a whole group of teachers whose number one purpose is to help you, look out for you and guide you. Tonight the time has come for you to leave that safety behind.” His eyes lingered on the Slytherin students as he continued: “I ask of you to keep in mind, that with freedom comes responsibility. You are free to choose your path in life, but remember to consider your choices carefully. Leave this castle with the aspiration to do not what is asked of you nor what others are doing, but what is right.”
When the ceremony was over, the students scattered across the hall, looking for their families. Narcissa squeezed the envelope in her hand, which contained her diploma and grades, as she walked over to her family. They had been given some of the best seats nearby, and barely had time to stand up before she reached them.
“I can’t believe that man gets to be the headmaster”, Cygnus muttered. “The way he talks… I am surprised the Ministry hasn’t interfered yet.”
“It is true what you say, love, but let’s not discuss that now”, Druella told him. “This is a day of celebration. Let me see those grades, Narcissa.”
“Let me guess”, Bellatrix said while their mother tore the envelope open. “They are perfect?”
“They really are!” Druella said proudly. “Well done, dear.”
“Very well done”, Cygnus agreed after eyeing the parchment over his wife’s shoulder. “Of course, you won’t be needing that, Narcissa. See, this truly is a day of celebration. Not only is our youngest daughter graduating, I also have some other news for you. Wonderful news!”
Narcissa rarely saw her father happy, but as he smiled widely at her she couldn’t help but smile back. Her mother had let her know that she was prettier when she didn’t smile, because it made her mouth look so big, but she couldn’t always hold it back. This was one of those moments, but it wouldn’t last long. Casting a glance over her father’s shoulder, Narcissa met the eyes of the last person she had expected to see there, and her smile disappeared in an instant. Her other sister, Andromeda, was standing in the back of the hall.
It had been years since Narcissa had even seen her. Four years, to be more precise. They hadn’t met since the day Andromeda announced to her family that she was marrying Ted Tonks – a Muggle-born. It had lead to hours of arguing, Cygnus yelling about the shame she brought upon her family and how she defiled the magical blood in her veins by marrying someone like that. Andromeda had left in tears and never set foot in their house again.
“Narcissa, are you listening to your father?”
Narcissa tore her eyes away from Andromeda and looked at her parents. “I’m sorry, I missed that last part.”
“I was just telling you that I have been presented with a delightful offer”, Cygnus said. “My good friend Abraxas stopped by our house the other week. I think you’re familiar with his son, Lucius?”
“I remember him”, Narcissa said, thinking about the good-looking, blonde Slytherin boy. “He was in the year above me – he graduated last year, so he wouldn’t be here.”
“As a matter of fact he is”, Cygnus said with a smile. “You see, Lucius expressed an interest in you to his father. Abraxas and I both agree it would be… how should I put it? – perfect, if the two of you married.”
“Ma… married?” Narcissa stuttered. “Father, I barely know him!”
“Oh, you silly girl”, said Druella. “He is a Malfoy – that’s a well-respected family, as I’m sure you’re aware. Only eighteen years old and already working for the Ministry. What more could you ask for in a husband?”
“He is rich too”, Bellatrix pointed out. “You will have a great life with him, Cissy. Not to mention his good looks.”
“And nothing but pure blood in those veins of his”, Cygnus said with a smirk.
“I hear he has connections too”, said Bellatrix. “With them – with him.” She leaned in and whispered, quietly so that only Narcissa could hear: “With the Dark Lord, Cissy.”
“And he’s here”, Druella said happily. “Him and Abraxas both. They have come to see you graduate, Narcissa. Don’t you realize what a caring, lovely man young Lucius is?”
Narcissa opened her mouth to respond, but before she had uttered a word someone else spoke.
“And what does it matter if he’s caring if she doesn’t love him?”
Everyone’s heads turned. Druella gasped, Bellatrix started laughing and Cygnus’ eyes narrowed. Andromeda had walked up to them, and she was now standing with her arms crossed over her chest, looking at her parents with a defiant expression on her face. Now that she was closer, Narcissa noticed something else about her. She was pregnant. She quickly looked at her father to see if he had noticed too, but he was still staring at Andromeda’s face.
“What are you doing here?” Bellatrix said. “You have no right to be here.”
“I came to see my sister graduate”, Andromeda said. “And apparently save her from your brainwashing. Don’t let them talk you into this, Cissy.”
“Don’t speak to her!” Bellatrix said, her voice now full of fury. “You are not our sister! You gave up the right to call yourself that when you married that… that Mudblood husband of yours!”
“I didn’t come here for you, Bella”, Andromeda said calmly. “Cissy, you look absolutely beautiful. I just wanted to…”
“Please, leave us”, Druella said.
Andromeda looked shocked. Druella had never been the one to plead the cause when it came to her situation. Narcissa thought it was because she didn’t feel as strongly about the whole pure blood thing as her husband or Bellatrix. Sometimes she would see a sad look in her mother’s eyes and she had always assumed it was whenever Andromeda crossed her mind. Surely it must bother her, Narcissa thought, to never get to see her child.
“Mother”, Andromeda started. “Don’t…”
Druella interrupted her. “You are no daughter of mine! Now leave!”
Andromeda turned around, and it was then that Cygnus saw her swollen belly. He took a step back, as if he had been punched in the face.
“Yes”, Andromeda said when she saw his reaction. “You are going to be grandparents. Congratulations.”
“He has… you’re having his child?” Cygnus was shocked. “He… I can’t believe it.”
“You can come meet the baby”, Andromeda said, and a glow was lit in her eyes. “When it’s born… I would let you meet her. I think it’s a her, but we won’t know until it’s time…”
“That baby”, Cygnus interrupted, “shouldn’t be allowed to be born. Its father shouldn’t be allowed to live, and neither should his offspring. Now leave before anyone sees you. You are a shame. I can’t even look at you.”
Andromeda’s eyes were full of tears when she placed a hand on her belly and turned to Narcissa.
“I’m leaving”, she said. “You could come with me. We could go…”
Narcissa’s voice was loud and clear. She did feel sorry for her sister, but she would never go with her. Andromeda claimed to have made a better choice in life, because she had chosen love. She thought that she was happier than her sisters, because she had followed her heart and married that Tonks character. But Narcissa could see that it wasn’t true. How could it be the better choice when her own parents hated her for it? How could it be the better choice when she had no contact with any of her family, and when her child would have to grow up with the shame of having a Muggle-born for a father? No, Narcissa told herself, thinking about Dumbledore’s speech about making the right choices. The right choice could not be to betray her family and their beliefs. Andromeda was the one who had made the wrong choice, and Narcissa refused to end up like her.
“Father”, she said with a smile on her face. “Will you take me to Lucius?”
Cygnus, who had still been staring at the door that Andromeda had just passed through, turned his head, met his youngest daughter’s eyes and smiled back.
“I knew it”, he said proudly. “Let’s go.”
He grabbed her arm and led her out of the Great Hall. Lucius and Abraxas Malfoy were waiting on the other side of the door. Narcissa eyed Lucius curiously. His blonde hair had grown longer, and it suited him. He dressed up well, wearing a black dress robes with silver clasps in a beautiful, soft-looking material. When he spotted Narcissa, his face lit up.
“Mr Black, sir”, he said and shook Cygnus’ hand. “Such a pleasure to meet you again.”
“You too, Lucius”, Cygnus said. “I’m sure you remember my daughter, Bellatrix. My wife, Druella. And the person you’ve been longing to meet… our beautiful Narcissa.”
Lucius grabbed Narcissa’s hand and bent down to kiss it. “It’s an honour, Miss.”
Abraxas Malfoy gave his son a pat on the shoulder and grinned.
“She’s beautiful, son. A great trophy to display to your friends.”
Lucius looked a little disturbed. After a suggestion from Druella, he grabbed Narcissa’s arm and led her out of the castle to take a walk around the lake.
“It must be nice to be back at Hogwarts”, Narcissa said as they stepped out into the chilly night. “Do you miss it at all?”
“Not really”, Lucius admitted. “There are just all these people that you have to deal with here. Dumbledore is just one of them. Once school is done you can choose your company… you’ll see soon enough. It’s much better.”
Narcissa nodded, not knowing what to respond. Instead she tightened her grip around his arm, causing him to smile and turn his head towards her.
“Have you considered my offer?” Lucius asked. “Do you agree to marry me?”
When Narcissa didn’t respond quite away, he stopped and grabbed her hands. She looked into his eyes, nervously waiting for him to say something.
“I know you heard what my father said in there”, he finally said. “But just to make it clear, you wouldn’t be just a trophy to me. You would be a whole lot more than a trophy, actually. I would be honoured to have you for my wife, and I promise you that I will do everything in my power to give you a perfect life.”
“Well, in that case”, Narcissa said with a smile, “I would be honoured to have you for my husband. Now, why don’t you step a little closer? It’s a chilly night, and I hope you’re not going to let your betrothed freeze.”
Lucius smiled and took a step towards her. He then wrapped his arms around her and pulled her a little closer. “Maybe this will warm you up”, he said, bent his head down and kissed her.