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10 December 2012 @ 07:21 am
Fic: Three Christmases, Two Reunions, and One White Lie for alley_skywalker  
Title: Three Christmases, Two Reunions, and One White Lie
Author: ???
A gift for: alley_skywalker
Rating: PG
Length: 2200 words
Character(s): Narcissa, Draco, Andromeda
Summary: Alone in Malfoy Manor, Narcissa contemplates Christmases past and resurrects an old relationship
Author's Notes: for alley_skywalker, who wanted to know about Malfoy Christmases, Draco's first broomstick, and sending Draco to Hogwarts for the first time.



Narcissa's footsteps echoed on the grand staircase. The bells on the Christmas tree tinkled faintly, out of rhythm and off key. Narcissa hadn't bothered to teach them a song this year. This morning she'd ordered the house elf to turn away well wishers, but she needn't have bothered. The Malfoy name was poison now; no one had even bothered to visit and gloat.

She seated herself at the head of the great dining table, in the chair so recently occupied by Voldemort.

"Voldemort," she whispered, feeling a little thrill at the name on her tongue. "Voldemort," she said again, more loudly this time. She waited. The air did not tremble; no darkness rose at the sound of his name. She was free.

With a sudden, decisive gesture, she pointed her wand at a large cabinet in the corner of the room.

"Accio photo album!" she commanded. Her voice reverberated in the empty hall, and she laid a hand against her throat. How long had it been since she dared speak so loudly in her own home?

The book whizzed across the room and landed in front of her with a dull thud that knocked a small cloud of dust from the cover. Though it chronicled the first eleven years of Draco's life, the book was surprisingly thin; Narcissa had always preferred to live in the present. Still, confronted with the first solitary Christmas of her life, she was grateful for the immediacy of the photographs.

Though it had been a year since she last looked at the album, she knew exactly which photograph she wanted: Draco, aged four, perched on his first Firebolt.

***


Lucius held the little broom steady while Draco mounted it. His face was grim, his mouth set in a firm line. He was afraid of disappointing Lucius, she knew, and she smiled at him encouragingly as she could. She hoped she'd done well enough; nothing in her childhood had taught her to be soft, and though she wanted a kinder life for Draco, she wasn't sure she had the tools to provide it.

"Keep your back straight," Lucius instructed, and Draco's spine stiffened instantly. "I'm going to let go on the count of three," he said, but then he released the broom handle on the count of one.

Draco's pale face turned even whiter, but he didn't make a sound as the broom rose higher and higher in the air. The leveling charm kicked in a few meters higher than Narcissa would have liked, and Draco shrieked. Narcissa lunged toward him, but the tiny broom hovered just out of her reach. She looked up, and Draco smiled down at her, golden and triumphant. Suddenly his eyes narrowed, and Narcissa flung herself aside just in time to avoid his dive.

"Young man, that is not appropriate!" she called, but she felt a secret thrill at the glee in Draco's eyes as he sped toward her. When he ignored her, she did not bother to chase him down.

"No one likes a spoiled child, you know," Lucius drawled in an alarmingly perfect imitation of her mother.

"Hush," Narcissa said. "I like my spoiled child quite well, thank you very much."

Hands linked, they watched Draco soar overhead.

***


Narcissa flipped absently through seven years of photos until she found the next one she was looking for: the day Draco had left for Hogwarts. Draco, Gregory, and Vincent stood on the platform in front of the first car. Unlike the other children, they weren't linking arms or holding hands. Instead, Draco stood in front of them, his arms crossed over his chest, looking every inch the Malfoy heir. Lucius had stood behind her, his chest puffed with pride. This had been his first chance to show Draco to the whole of the wizarding world, and Draco hadn't let him down.

Narcissa had been proud too. The only movement in the foreground of the picture was the boys' slow, steady blinks. In the background, though, other children's mothers reached for their handkerchiefs and embraced their children. Usually, Narcissa would have charmed these interlopers into stillness or banished them from the photograph altogether, but she had wanted to remember the whole moment. Her eyes had been dry; she had no fears of sending her child out into the world.

Draco had been afraid, though. Not that he would show it. He had followed Lucius around the manor all morning, his eyes widening at each proclamation of "when you're in Slytherin," "when you make the Quidditch team," and "when you're named Head Boy."

Narcissa had taken him aside and pinned a small, silver serpent to the outside of his robes.

"What's that for?" he demanded, though she could tell he was pleased with the gift.

"It's a charm to make the hat sort you into Slytherin."

Draco looked dubious. "Nothing can control the hat. Goyle told me."

Narcissa sniffed. "You forget who we are, Draco. Look at this house. There are centuries of magic here. No one else can control the hat, but we can."

Draco smiled, and the fear in his eyes vanished. Narcissa didn't feel guilty about the subterfuge. What was one small lie in the pursuit of her son's happiness?

***


In the last photograph in the book, Narcissa, Lucius, and Draco stood before a Christmas tree festooned with singing pixies and fairy lights. Draco fidgeted. Lucius then, but his mark was already growing darker.

It had not been a good Christmas. Draco had not stopped whining about how unfair it was that Harry Potter got to compete in the Triwizard Tournament, and Lucius responded by indulging his every whim. Even so, Draco spent most of his time in his room, making more of those ridiculous POTTER STINKS badges. When he came downstairs, he tormented the pixies in their glass balls, making them shriek and sing out of key.

In the photograph, Draco had refused to stand still.

"Why can't we have a portrait painted like all the other good families?" he'd demanded, scowling at the camera.

Narcissa had answered through gritted teeth, her smile still firmly fixed in place. "Because next year, all the other good families will want a photograph like ours." She had only narrowly restrained herself from speaking the truth: that she had no love for the Potter boy, but she wished Draco would stop his whinging, because they both knew he was secretly relieved not to compete in the tournament.

With sudden, sickening clarity, she realized how much she missed her sister. Not Bella, who'd been mad long before she was locked up in Azkaban, but Andromeda, her solid, stable older sister who would know what to do about spoiled boys and husbands who overindulged them.

The camera clicked. Narcissa's smile never flickered, but she could not look at the photo without thinking about the sister she'd lost. Family endures, her mother had said. She'd been wrong.

***


Narcissa closed the book carefully, keeping her eyes trained on Lucius' restrained smile as she did so. She stood slowly, smoothing the folds of her robes, and walked toward her seldom-visited kitchen.






"Happy Christmas, m'lady." The house elf, her last loyal servant, awaited her at the doorway. "Will the young master be coming home?"

"No." Narcissa glanced at the creature reluctantly, aware of how badly she needed the contact. She almost told it that Harry Potter was petitioning for Draco's release, but the words stuck in her throat. Lucius' case held even less hope.

"Then Mistress will be spending Christmas alone?" the creature asked. Narcissa marveled at the sadness in its eyes. It felt for her.

Or it was good at manipulation.

"No," Narcissa said. There was someone who would receive her, however reluctantly.

"Then I shall make Mistress a Christmas dinner to remember forever. Puddings and teas and cakes and roast..."

"You will not go into the kitchen today," Narcissa commanded. The kitchen was her domain today, and she stepped over the threshold.

"No, no, Mistress can't go in the kitchen!" the creature squawked. It actually threw itself in front of her, shaking its wrinkled head. "Kitchens is for house elves, not for ladies. Whatever you like, Mistress, I will make it."

"Silence." Narcissa did not raise her voice, but it echoed in the empty hallway anyway. "You will not contradict me." She walked onward without looking at the creature again, wishing it would punish itself silently. The sound of its head striking the stone floor was rather irksome.

She locked the kitchen door behind her, though there was hardly any need. Still, she needed absolute privacy for what she was about to do. At the back of the pantry was a bright purple box. She snatched it up, grateful that Lucius was not here to see her. Of course, if Lucius had been here, if he had done as he ought to have, she would have no need of Madame Miffins' EZ Frost Cake Mix.

Foolproof for the most incompetent of witches, the box promised in pink curlicue writing. Narcissa was not incompetent; she had simply not bothered to learn to cook. It was beneath a witch of her station.

She took a deep breath and recited the incantation through gritted teeth. "One two three, bippity boppety boo, cake for me and cake for you." She pointed her wand. Nothing happened.

"Say it with a smile, love," the box cajoled her. "That's part of the magic."

Narcissa exhaled slowly, closing her eyes until the image of a flaming box of cake mix disappeared from her mind. She offered it her most practiced smile, the one she had once used to charm a snake.

"One two three, bippity boppety boo, cake for me and cake for you," she said again, pretending it was a nursery rhyme for Draco. This time, when she pointed her wand, a cake appeared, its white frosting smooth and perfect, bits of raspberry jam oozing from between the layers. With a lazy flick of her wand, she conjured a pan for it, and then she sighed. Now there was no choice but to go.

***


Andromeda frowned when she opened the door. "A disillusionment charm? Really, Cissy, how desperate are you?"

"Not desperate at all, sister. Only realistic." Narcissa smiled in spite of herself; she and Andromeda had always bantered well, and even after all these years, she derived a certain pleasure from annoying her sister.

"You always did whatever it took to get what you wanted." Andromeda's face was pinched. "That isn't a compliment, Narcissa. It never was."

"Don't lie," she said quietly. "You admired it once."

"Well, no more." She began to close the door, but Narcissa held out her cake.

"Not so quickly, sister. I've brought a gift."

"And you think I should open my door to you because your poor, decrepit house elf baked a peace offering?"

Narcissa suppressed the urge to smile. Baiting and teasing her sister was not so different from the intricate dance she'd played with the Dark Lord and his followers. She'd forgotten how much she enjoyed it when it really was a game.

"Certainly not. I made this myself. From Madame Miffins."

Andromeda stared. "You went to the market? Yourself? And bought cake mix?" Narcissa could see the smile tugging at the corners of her mouth; Andromeda had gotten careless. Or maybe she simply lived in a world where emotions needn't be hidden.

"I did. Because I want very much to come into your house." Narcissa looked past Andromeda into the little sitting room. The ceiling was low, and the brightly colored furniture looked worn, but a fire blazed cheerfully in the fireplace. Andromeda had lost everything, and yet her house didn't look like it could be cold, even for a day.

Andromeda shook her head, her face hardening into the Black mask. For an instant, she looked like Bella, before she'd gone mad. "Have you forgotten that I don't like you?"

"No. But I don't like myself much either these days, to tell the truth." She let her own mask slide, felt her face settle into strange slack lines that had only rarely seen in her own bathroom mirror. "So you see, we have something in common at last. I thought you could let me inside and we could hate me together for old times' sake."

She could only manage half a smile. Andromeda smiled back, halfway at least, with her tired eyes, just as Narcissa had known she would.

"Toujours," she murmured, and opened the door.

***


They took a picture together at the end of the night. They sat too far apart on the sofa, and neither of their smiles quite reached their eyes. If Lucius had seen the photograph, he would have said, "why darling, you and your sister have exactly the same fake smile." But Lucius never saw it; no one did. Narcissa hid it in the bottom of her make-up drawer, where bits of powder and eyeshadow rained down on it every day. On the bottom of the photograph, Narcissa inscribed a single word: family.

Years later, Scorpius Malfoy found the photograph among his grandmother's things. He carried it with him on the Hogwarts Express, and then he did something that horrified the living remainder of the Malfoy clan: he made Teddy Lupin his best friend.
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alley_skywalkeralley_skywalker on December 10th, 2012 08:04 am (UTC)
Aww thank you for writing this! This was very sweet, and I especially like the detail about Scorpius becoming friends with Teddy.
La Reine Noire: Lucrezialareinenoire on December 10th, 2012 02:49 pm (UTC)
Oh. This. This is wonderful.

I love your Narcissa, how she's brittle and fractured, but not broken, not by a long shot. Memories are what sustain her and keep her, and she's not afraid of them. Loved the glimpses we had of Draco's childhood and the interaction between Andromeda and Narcissa made me so happy (I really, really love the idea of the two of them making peace after all these years).
primeideal.dreamwidth.orgprimeideal.dreamwidth.org on December 10th, 2012 03:27 pm (UTC)
Excellent ending! The EZ Cake was very amusing too, I had not expected that to work.
忘れな草: reading and researchingwasureneba on December 11th, 2012 02:12 am (UTC)
I agree that I really like your Narcissa---she's had a bad time and she's suffered, but she's still strong and moving forward. And I love that she uses the Miffins EZ bake cake to try to make peace with Andromeda.

Not to mention the last two paragraphs are wonderful.
Cats: catsintheatticcatsintheattic on December 12th, 2012 05:20 pm (UTC)
I love this so hard I have almost no words left to tell you why.

This is a beautiful characterisation of Narcissa and how her world has change, how adaptive she is and how she yet stays true to herself. I love all the little glimpses you give of her with Draco, Lucius and Andromeda - there is a fully realised person behind those vignettes. I enjoyed all the little bits of magic you included, and the ending was utterly delightful and made me very happy. The Malfoy clan deserves a change of attitude and a brighter future, and Narcissa made a tiny step towards in at that particular Christmas.
mollywheezy: Slytherin--greenmollywheezy on December 16th, 2012 09:36 pm (UTC)
I really felt for Narcissa and loved your descriptions of her, especially her repeating Voldemort's name to prove that she was free.

Ickle Draco on his first broom was adorable. ;)

I LOLed at the cake mix--what a fabulous detail, especially the incantation. ;D

Great story!
kellychambliss: Xmaskellychambliss on December 23rd, 2012 05:15 am (UTC)
Nicely done. I find this story more unsettling (in a fascinating way) than sweet, but it is the very complexity that makes your ambiguous, hard-edged, strong Narcissa such a compelling and interesting character. What a revealing and full backstory you create for her. The scene with Andromeda is quite effective, as is the fun magic.
DoraeAzure: Shinydoraeazure on December 27th, 2012 04:02 am (UTC)
then he did something that horrified the living remainder of the Malfoy clan: he made Teddy Lupin his best friend

Hahaha! The ending is very cute. I also liked the characterization of Narcissa here, and the way the silly cake (and its even sillier spell) really show how desperate for family this proud woman was at that point in her life. (Narcissa Malfoy. baking. sort of)