Chapter 1 : Heart(less)
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Narcissa pretended she wasn’t listening to her sister and continued to examine her doll. Acacia had a glamorous evening planned – her regalia needed to be perfect.
She could feel Bellatrix’s eyes on her as she reached for the small shelf where she hung Acacia’s robes. There was a small pause – a pause for dramatics, for impact, Narcissa knew (they’d attended the same etiquette lessons) – and then,
“It’s still beating in ten of them.”
Narcissa breathed in, breathed out.
Bellatrix’s eyes glittered.
“That’s life. Isn’t it splendid?”
The voice was firm, confident, recognizable. Narcissa knew who was standing in front of her chair before she looked up from her Potions textbook.
“Hello. Can I help you?”
Lucius Malfoy was standing there, in front of her, in the middle of the Slytherin common room. Lucius Malfoy, scion of the Malfoy family. Clever, popular, intriguing Lucius Malfoy.
“Would you like to accompany me to Hogsmeade this weekend?”
He looked smart, standing there in his perfectly tailored robes, and Narcissa felt her heart flutter.
He was someone her parents would approve of, she knew. Much more so than Bellatrix’s affair with Dolohov.
She still had a fifteen-inch essay to write for history, an eleven-inch essay to write for transfiguration, and a worksheet to fill in for herbology. Sixth year had not been any kinder to her than fifth. But with Lucius standing before her, there was only one answer she wanted to give.
“Perfect. I shall meet you here at nine.”
She hid her smile behind her textbook as he walked away.
It was just him at the station with her. It was just Lucius. It was just Lucius, moments before there would be no more of him.
No more walks together, across the manor grounds, through Diagon Alley, around the countryside.
No more long conversations, around a cup of tea, on politics, on books, on anything.
No more just being together.
Just letters. Just words.
They were beside the train, beside each other. Lucius was holding her trunk and her hand.
“I suppose I should board the train.” Lucius nodded.
“I suppose I should go.” Neither moved. They watched each other, steadfastly ignoring the giant clock ticking down to eleven o’clock.
“Yes. Of course.”
Then he moved closer and kissed her. His hand clenched hers. Her heart beat steady with his.
Then they parted, and parted again.
“I’ve joined him. Officially.”
Narcissa looked at the black mark scarring his arm, then at her husband.
The pain was horrible, excruciating. It came in waves, making it so that she could never become used to it. The lulls were the worst: she lay gasping, hair plastered with sweat, face wet with tears, anticipating the next wave of pain.
Anticipating the next time she would be told to “push”, as though she had the ability to end this torture. As though she had any control at all.
Lucius arrived during a lull, more anxious than Narcissa had ever seen him in public. He leapt at her, brushing her hair back from her face and murmuring words that she couldn’t hear, couldn’t understand. Her next yell sent him skittering away, startled, afraid.
He came back, though, his hand reaching between her grasping fingers. He winced at her pressure, but he stayed.
He stayed until after the birth of their son, until she fell asleep.
Draco’s first word was “ma”.
But a mangled version of “Father” was his second.
Draco’s cries pierced the air and made Narcissa feel like crying as well. Her poor boy was hurt, had been hurt by falling off the practice broom Lucius had insisted on getting him. She knew that it had been too early, that he was still too young, but Lucius had succumbed before Draco’s wide eyes and trembling lips.
He screeched when she cleaned the scrapes that littered his arms and legs, struggling to get away from the swab of cotton. It only made the process longer, but he wouldn’t listen to her, so she hurried as best she could.
Soon enough he was bandaged and ready to play once again. With a quick kiss to her cheek he was gone, running off to explore the grounds of the manor. The broomstick remained at Narcissa’s side, confiscated for the time being.
Her heart ached to follow him and protect him from further injury, but instead she stayed still. Watching from a distance would have to do.
Lucius was radiating confidence from his Lord’s return. Narcissa had been content along with him until she had read the paper.
“Lucius,” she said, and tapped her nail on the announcement. She watched his eyes skim over the words, watched him dismiss them.
“Lucius. Tell me: did your Lord have anything to do with this?”
“Narcissa—,” he began, but she didn’t let him speak for long.
“A child, Lucius! A child died! A boy not much older than Draco!”
“A blood traitor.”
“An innocent boy.”
Silence. Narcissa could see her husband gathering his thoughts, preparing an argument. Struggling to justify this act of murder.
She had seen the boy, this dead Cedric, before, when she’d watched Draco play Quidditch. He’d had blond hair, same as Draco. She could feel her heart beat faster as she began to imagine Draco in his place. Draco, dead – it was unbearable to think about.
“Draco will not die. I will not let him be hurt.”
She would not let him fall victim to the Dark Lord.
“Of course not.” And Narcissa could see that he meant it. He wouldn’t let their son get hurt.
Her heart settled.
Lucius hadn’t mentioned anything about himself, though.
The bed was cold, the light absent.
“It will be okay.” Her husband’s voice came through the darkness, and then his arms followed, wrapping themselves around her body. She could feel his chest against her back.
“How do you know?”
“Because I know. Because it’s us.”
The response was automatic, practiced, and silence followed. Narcissa listened to his heartbeat, so close to hers. Its sound distracted her from her own.
“I’ll be back.”
And then he was gone, taken to Azkaban, while Narcissa was left with an empty manor and a heart that refused to break.
Their manor wasn’t theirs anymore.
Her heart pounded, its beat echoing in the caverns of each room.
The manor no longer felt safe, not when the shadows that stretched around each corner were unfamiliar.
Not when Lucius wasn’t there.
“It is necessary.”
“It is not! It never has and it never will be necessary to risk my son! Draco is only a boy – he is most certainly not a toy to be played with by the Dark Lord!”
“Careful, Cissy. You wouldn’t want him to hear you speaking in such a manner. Your poor boy could suffer so much worse than the honour of serving the Dark Lord.” Bellatrix’s eyes glinted in the darkness of the room.
Narcissa’s heart beat like drums in her ears.
“I’m sorry, Narcissa.” The words were repeated, again and again, but Narcissa didn’t waste any time on them. Lucius was there, gripping her tight – what use were his words?
She could feel the grim of Azkaban under her fingers, could see its destruction brought home in Lucius’ expression.
They were not fine; they were not okay. They had no home, no stability, no safety… But now, at least, there was one thing in their favour.
They had each other.
She couldn’t hear, not really. She couldn’t hear the yells and shouts of pain, terror and anger. She couldn’t hear the cries of spells cast to hurt and defend. She couldn’t hear anything, except for the beat of her own heart.
She couldn’t tell how far the sound went, if Draco heard it, if anyone heard it.
She knew that Lucius was running beside her, that he had forever chosen their son over his Lord. They were both searching for their son. Together.
They ran through the castle, running up moving staircases and down crumbling corridors.
And there Draco was, trembling and shaken but alive.
Draco was alive and within her arms and Lucius was warm and solid next to her. They were both safe – they were both with her.
Her heart was calm for the first time in a long time.
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