Draco, Lucius, me: The three living Malfoys. The war is over, and Harry Potter himself saw to our pardons. Half the Malfoy assets were liquidated and taken as war reparations, but my small Black inheritance was left untouched. Everything is calm, I suppose. We have each other; we love each other; we still have our manor and much of our wealth; only that does not seem so important any more.
My losses in this war were few, really. I am glad Potter won. I spent the last two years in misery: The first because Draco was taken into The Dar---Voldemort's service against my will, the second because even though I had my husband back, we were imprisoned in our own home. Both years I dealt with the nearly constant presence of my sister, Bella. Unfortunately, much of what I loved about her as a sister vanished as her mental illness became stronger. I shall have to act disdainfully around Molly Weasley, I suppose, but in reality, she did me a favour.
The Black Sisters: There were three of us. Andromeda's losses in this war were far greater than mine. She lost her husband, her only child, her son-in-law, her source of income . . . maybe I can help with the last one. She will be raising that grandchild alone. I never stopped caring about Andromeda; she was always my favourite sister. But when she married a Muggleborn--a Black married a Muggleborn--I did my duty to my pureblood name: I stopped speaking to her. Now? I just want my sister. In this time of great emptiness with all my past values seen for the hollow mockeries they were, all I want is to gather my family close--all of my family. But would she accept me?
Slowly, carefully, deliberately: I must find a way to earn her trust. I slip fifty Galleons into a pouch and add a note, making my handwriting back-slanted in case she remembers my hand.
To the Wife, Mother, and Mother-in-Law of three of the fallen heroes of the war. This is to help you raise your grandson. There will be more each month. We remember and we care.
I send it with my owl, Calypso. She is fairly young and is not easily identified like Lucius's eagle owl.
Now, to come up with a plan for reconciliation with my sister. Perhaps she and the child would even come to live here at the Manor if this works. Of course, I would have to convince Lucius of the necessity of that. However, after seeing how this war left him, I think I can do that--all these years I thought Lucius was the strong one in this marriage, but in the last two years I have learned differently, and he knows it. He will accept my sister and her grandson if I tell him to.
For the second day in a row an owl comes. I did not recognize yesterday's owl, nor the handwriting in the note, but the gift it brought was most needed. It seems at least one person realizes the straits I am in. But this owl? This owl I know. Lucius Malfoy's eagle owl is nearly as infamous as he is. "So what does my brother-in-law want?" I quietly ask sleeping Teddy.
I know it has been too long. I know it is all my fault. I was wrong to shut you out. The war is over, and the right side won. Family is more important now than ever. I need you in my life. Perhaps you find that need me as well, if only just a little bit. I am hoping to Morgana that you do. Please, just tell me the time and the place, and I will be there to talk to you.
She wants to make up with me? Narcissa? She who fought on the wrong side, who married a bloody Death Eater, who gave safe harbor to Voldemort and his followers, whose entire her family survived the war...SHE wants to make up with me? Who does she think she is?
I get ready to shoo out the owl, who seems to be waiting for a reply, then I think better of it. Certainly, she can meet with me...just long enough for me to tell her how much hurt she has caused me and show her that I have no desire to ever see her again. I decide to write a return note and send it with the owl.
I have no desire to reconcile with you, you who had all your family LIVE through the war. But if you wish to meet me anyway, then come to the old tree in the woods we three Black sisters used to have our tea parties under when we were little witches. I will be there at one p.m. in two days. I will have to find a babysitter for my ORPHANED grandson. You will not have a pleasant experience, but I will have the satisfaction of telling you what I think of you, and you can at least say you tried, so that when you are with all your pureblood society friends you'll have the satisfaction of saying it is all my fault.
Send notice if you are coming.
I send the owl off and go to take care of Teddy, who is in need of changing.
Three hours later, the eagle owl returns.
I will be there. You say I lost no family in the war, but you are wrong: I lost my brother-in-law, my niece, and her husband. I also lost another sister--this one I mostly lost years ago because what died in the war had little of our sister left in her. I will allow you to say to me whatever you need to, Andromeda. I will take it, and I will keep trying, because I do not want to lose my only remaining sister. We are the last two Blacks . . . I was a fool to let tradition and bigotry stand in the way of showing my sister I love her.
This does not sound like the stuck-up little sister I have come to despise. Hmmn. Our meeting should be interesting.
I spent the morning instructing the elves in the making of Andromeda's favorite clove, walnut, and honey-filled puff pastry. Now with a dozen of them safely tucked in a basket along with hot tea in the dragon tea-pot she gave me twenty eight years ago and the matching cups and saucers, I am ready to meet her under our tree. It did not feel right going back to that tree without having a tea party. I double check my hair, my robe, my jewelry: I want to be as presentable as possible, but not pretentious. This will do.
I kiss Lucius on the cheek. "I am going out. I will be back in a few hours."
He looks at me warily. "Where are you going, Cissa? What is in the basket?"
"Tea things." I appraise him for a moment. If this succeeds, he will have to accept her too. "I am going to meet my sister, Andromeda. I am hoping for a reconciliation. If all goes well, I will invite her and her grandson to live with us in the Manor."
"What? Cissa? How can you consider this? In our home? When had you planned on telling me?"
"Lucius. I had one sister, a psychotic, dead in the service of a madman. I still have another, living, sister. I was wrong to shut her out of my life. She needs my help, and I need her to be my sister again. I will help her, and I will give her and Teddy the South Wing if she will accept it. You will be polite and remember she is my sister." I stand at my full height and look him squarely in the eye.
He looks ready to challenge me, to argue with me, then a weariness settles over him and resignation fills his features. "Very well, Cissa. I will support you in this."
"Thank you, dear." I kiss him softly, then Apparate to the old tree in the woods near our family home. Andromeda has not arrived yet, so I set up the tea things under the tree. It is hard to see how the last two years have broken my husband and son. But I doubt it is permanent for both of them. Draco is young enough to accept change. He, at least, will thrive in this new world.
I have just finished setting everything up when I hear the crack of Andromeda's apparition. I stand up. "Andromeda . . . I . . . " She still looks so much like Bella, or what Bella should have looked like had she not lost her sanity.
"Narcissa. You look well," she says coldly.
"I did not think we could meet here without tea."
She looks at the tea set--the set she gave me for my sixteenth birthday--and frowns slightly.
"Just get it out, Andi. I deserve whatever you want to say to me." And the sooner she says it, the sooner we can start fixing things."
"Barely more than a passing glance for the last twenty five years, Narcissa! Now that my family is dead and yours survives, you want to renew our relationship? Why? So you can gloat? You do not care about me, Narcissa. If you did, you would have found a way to talk to me in spite of what that arse of a husband of yours dictated! Now my family is dead except for little Teddy; they're all gone. What, do you pity me now? Is that an emotion you even have left, Cissy? Well, I don't want your pity."
Her words sting more than I can say. I take a deep slow breath before I reply. "I was wrong. I learned what was important these last two years. I told Lucius I was going to remedy things with you. He accepts this. He is not trying to control me any more, Andromeda. I am not afraid of what others may say. I do not pity you. I pity myself for being so foolish as to shut you out. I need you, Andi. Please forgive me." Well, that was one of the hardest things I have ever said.
She stands there stiffly, apprising me guardedly. "You are serious. I did not believe it." She finally sits down at the tea setting. She looks at the pastries. "You remembered." She takes one tentatively, and bites it cautiously. "Why should I trust you?"
"Because I am your sister, and I miss you," I say firmly. All this truth and humility is starting to get uncomfortable. I do have some pride--well, except when saving Draco.
"You miss who I used to be. You've not said more than five words at a time to me in twenty-five years. You do not know me anymore. I do not know you, but from what I know of you, I do not think I want to," she says.
"Do you know why Harry Potter testified FOR us, Sister? Why I am not in Azkaban right now?"
"I have heard rumors, but they seemed too incredible."
Rumors? I wonder what she heard. Probably that one about the Malfoys buying Potter's testimony in court. "I spent a year with that monster under my roof, Crucioing me and my family, manipulating, frightening, and torturing us at every turn. It was everything I could do to keep us all alive, and I turned against him. I saved Potter, and he saved Draco."
Her eyes register surprise, but she is silent for nearly a minute before she speaks. "Then maybe you are worth knowing," she finally acknowledges reluctantly.
"I should not have to prove my worth to you, Andromeda. We are sisters. I have tried to make things right with you. I want you in my life. I will not give up! What more do you want?" I ask with a little annoyance.
"Ah, there's my little sister. I was wondering where the proud, spoiled, petulant princess went. Now I am starting to hear her again in your voice and see her in your eyes."
I let out an angry frustrated breath and fold my arms.
"Yes, definitely her," she laughs.
"I fail to see what you find so amusing, Andi!"
"I wondered how long the humility act would last. But now I see you are willing to be yourself with me." She drinks a cup of tea and eats another pastry. I watch her in astonishment. "You win, Cissy. We can be sisters again."
I keep my inward grin to a gentle smile, but my happiness bubbles out anyway. "So do you want to move into the manor? It would save on your expenses, and you and Teddy could have the whole south wing."
She raises her nose just a little in the air and stiffens her back. "Slow down. I agreed to have a relationship again with you. I am not willing to move in with Lucius-Death-Eater-Malfoy," she says. "Besides, I am not hurting financially. I have what looks to be a steady source of income."
I suppress a smile, knowing that steady source is me. But she need never know. "All right. Then why don't you come over for dinner next week? You might even find my husband can be polite."
"Let's just start with us for now, Cissy. We will do lunch a few times. Then in a few months, maybe I will be ready to have dinner at your manor. We should take this slowly."
"Very well, Andi. Does this mean you forgive me?" I ask.
"I am beginning to. I will let you prove the rest." Andromeda reaches across the blanket and gives my hand a tentative squeeze. "I have missed having my little sister too."