The honeymoon was over. Narcissa brushed the sand off her now golden-kissed skin and stood up to go inside, wishing she didn't have to go home. She looked at the quickly retreating form of her handsome husband; his long blond hair looked perfectly at home here on the shore, even if his pale skin did not. The two weeks of boating and swimming, dining in fine restaurants, and being pampered at the spa—and between times exploring every inch of her husband's beautiful body—had been enchanting. Only now it was time to leave. She had counted on a longer time with him all to herself, but it was not to be. She walked back to the beach house, dropped her gold lamé bikini on the floor, and showered quickly. When she finished, she put on a shimmery soft blue robe, then dried her hair into some soft waves. She checked the room one more time to make sure the cabana's elf had packed everything.
"I'm ready, Lucius," she said softly, walking into the sitting room.
"You took long enough," he answered coolly, then looking up, smiled. "It was worth it. I regret we only had two weeks here instead of a full month, Narcissa, but business at home takes precedence. Perhaps we shall return another time and pick up where we left off."
"Perhaps." But she had a sinking feeling that nothing would be the same once they returned. A large piece of his life was unofficially labeled 'Not for Narcissa's knowledge.' She did know, far more than he realized. How could she not know when her eldest sister was Bellatrix? She took his arm, and he touched the Portkey. Moments later they were standing in the foyer of Malfoy Manor. Home.
The cabana house-elf appeared with the bags, then quickly Disapparated. Lucius hurried away, reappearing momentarily wearing dark hooded robes. He kissed her quickly on the cheek. "I don't know how long I'll be gone, so don't wait up for me." Then he disappeared.
Narcissa sat down and took a deep breath. She felt like crying, but would not allow herself that. She had known Lucius was Dark when she married him. She had chosen him anyway. Her parents had been delighted. She had been congratulated on the brilliance of the match. He deeply attracted her. They were of like mind and backgrounds. Everything was as it should be, but… she sighed. No but. This was her own choice. Full stop. Now she had to live with it.
Narcissa had always known pure-bloods were superior. They had the natural talent and breeding; the culture of the Wizarding world was their legacy. They were the natural magical nobility. Half-bloods had their place. They made excellent intermediaries in those professions where magical and Muggle crossed paths and for the thriving merchant class. Some of them were every bit as talented as pure-bloods—young Severus Snape, for example. But a pure-blood did not marry one of them. Muggle-borns were an anomaly. She did not despise them, as long as they knew their place. They naturally belonged to the serving class, not positions of leadership. They did not understand magical society well, thus they should be kept quiet and innocuous. Once a Muggle-born had proven herself, she could be married to a half-blood, but never a pure-blood. The pure lines needed to be kept pure. If Muggle-born married another Muggle-born, they would be better to stay on the very peripheries of the magical world, as they and their children would be too indoctrinated in the Muggle ways. So many nasty Muggle habits had already corrupted their world, like smoking. No pure-blood who understood her place would do something so disgusting. Muggles were best ignored, not emulated.
She thought over her beliefs. Was she so different from Lucius? She believed in codifying her beliefs through law, through example, and through encouragement. Bellatrix believed in forcibly enforcing the differences between them. She had tried to deny that Lucius was more like Bellatrix than like herself, but the robe he wore tonight spoke otherwise.
He did not return that night. She went to bed alone. When she awoke, she was still alone. The place next to her had remained undisturbed. She made herself ready, then went downstairs to breakfast. He was sitting at the head of the table. He smiled at her. "Good morning, Narcissa."
"Good morning, Lucius. When did you get home?"
"Just two hours ago. I saw no need to disturb you. I will catch a nap after breakfast."
Her face remained implacable. She did not hope his meeting was successful. She did not hope he enjoyed it. She was only glad to see he survived and seemed unhurt, so she made no comment. The house-elf entered and put breakfast on the table. "Me is Dobby, new Mistress."
"Dobby. Eggs Benedict is my favourite," she smiled reflexively.
Lucius ate his breakfast silently, glancing at the Daily Prophet while he did so. "I will be eating lunch at the Ministry. I have work this afternoon. I should be home for dinner," he said, putting his serviette on his plate and standing up. He walked around to Narcissa and kissed her on the cheek.
He stopped. "Yes, Narcissa?"
"I was wondering if I could do some redecorating. Some of these rooms are very dark."
"None of the main rooms are to be changed. They are part of the Malfoy tradition and heritage."
"I see. Which rooms may I decorate?" Narcissa asked softly.
Lucius looked annoyed, but then smiled patronizingly. "You may decorate the solarium, and you may have a room for a personal library and office. Also, you have your own bedroom leading off of ours, for when you wish some privacy. You may redecorate that, and the nursery as well. Especially the nursery. You may want to start with that one." He looked at her hopefully.
"Then I suppose that is what I will do to fill my time. I thought I would do the nursery mostly in bright white with some primary colours accenting it. Babies like bright colours."
"Excellent idea, my love. I am certain you will find much to do. This manor is my life and the legacy to our children, and I've given you the charge of it all. You can have teas for charities, can plan meals and keep the inventory, read, or practice your music… didn't you used to play an instrument?"
"I studied the violin before Hogwarts and during the holidays. It was how Mother kept us girls out of trouble. I am very rusty, however."
"Well, it is up to you. I know you will find something constructive to do." With that, he left the room.
Narcissa busied herself, doing her best to suppress her frustration.
They soon settled down into a married routine. The affection between them grew steadily, but was only shown privately, in private places. When Narcissa braved questioning him about work, he brushed it off, saying he did not wish to bring politics at home—the Manor, and his lovely wife, were his haven.
Narcissa picked up her violin again and began practicing when Lucius was away. She found a great quantity of time in which to practice. She soon became quite proficient as her skills improved.
One day a week she held teas for St. Mungo's charities, taking her place in pure-blood society.
Room by room, Narcissa redecorated. Between her wand, thehouse-elves, and her own sense of style, she found no desire to hire it done. She did her personal office and library in sage and coral and gold. Her own room she saved for last, decorating it in soft cream and light blue in Louis XIV style.
"You really outdid yourself, Narcissa. This room is you." Lucius appeared behind her suddenly, putting his arms around her waist.
"Thank you, Lucius."
"I would like to have a little party during the summer holidays. Since you were at Hogwarts for a year after I was, perhaps you'd know who the young wizards are who are sympathetic to our cause. I have Goyle and Crouch…" he added.
"Why would you be having them as guests at a party?" she asked, her heart feeling wary.
"They will be entering our world as full wizards soon. They will need opportunities to get ahead. I want to know who to help and how I can help them. I would have included your cousin and Potter, but they are a pair of blood traitors."
"My cousin Regulus is no blood traitor. Do not label him with the same quill that labels his brother. Severus Snape would be a good one to work with, too. He is very clever and fully sees the world our way," she added.
"Excellent. I'll add them to my list." He kissed her on the cheek, but then she turned her head, and his lips met hers hungrily. After a long minute, he pulled away, breathlessly telling her, "Tonight, my love."
Then his face momentarily contorted in pain as he grabbed his forearm, his voice and face losing all warmth. "Later. At least I have a good list to report." He Disapparated and left Narcissa seething.
A list to report? She had given him Severus and Regulus. He had lied. All he wanted was more pure-bloodsto become willing servants to that madman. She bit back her anger and walked calmly to the music room; her nails dug deep crescents in the palms of her hands. She pulled out her violin and played and played Bartok's Violin Sonata #2 until her fingers were raw.
------------------------------- Late Spring 1976
Lily waited for Severus to come to the library, but he didn't come. She didn't wonder where he was: he was with that bunch of Slytherin junior Death Eaters again. She and Severus had been such friends once. It had grown harder and harder to talk to him lately. He seemed so wrapped up in being part of their group. He couldn't even see how it was changing him.
Well, OWLs were next week. She only hoped he found time to study without her. She immersed herself in her revision.
A week later, they were finally done with their OWLS. She had spoken to him just before the exams began and wished him well. He seemed to be more receptive again. Maybe he was still the old friend she'd loved since she was a small girl.
Last OWL finished, she headed outside to enjoy the sunshine. She heard a crowd laughing and hurried over to see what it was all about. There was Severus, held upside down with his pants showing, suspended by James's wand.
Lily jumped in, yelling at Potter and seeing Severus put to rights. Then, Potter had the gall to ask her out! She reached out to touch Severus, but he shook her hand from his arm. "I don't need you, Mudblood!"
Lily's heart sunk. Later, Severus had come to her and tried to show it meant nothing, but she had given up on him. He was too Dark. Their friendship was dead. She cried that night.
That summer of 1976, while America celebrated its founding, Lucius had a celebration of his own. He held a huge outdoor dinner, introducing some of the older members of the Dark Lord's guard to the rising generation.
Snape stood there, looking unnaturally pleased. Regulus strutted up to Narcissa, looking delighted as well. "We're going to do this, Narcissa!" Narcissa only nodded and faked a smile, and feeling her stomach turning over rudely, apologized and left the party. She spent the rest of the day sick.
She watched Regulus, Severus, Lucius, and so many others. The most brilliant pure-bloods of their day—voluntarily accepting servitude. The Dark Lord may just be the biggest pure-blood hater of them all, she decided, as they were the first ones he made his slaves. She pushed that treasonous thought aside, then buried it deeply.
She did not return to the party, instead lying down, but she realized she had one more thing she had to do while Lucius was gone, and the sooner the better. She resolved to teach herself Occlumency. She could no longer risk a Death Eater, even her husband or sister, or worse, the Dark Lord, reading her thoughts.
She practiced Occlumency an hour or more each day from then on.
During Christmas, at the Malfoy party, her fears were confirmed. She caught Snape and Regulus flaunting their forearms to Bellatrix.
It was her fault they were now Death Eaters. She sped to the loo once again, vomiting violently. A searing pain ripped through her lower abdomen, and she fell to her knees. She was glad she had not yet told anyone about the baby, but it did not lessen her own pain. She cleaned herself up, then went to her private room, shutting the door tightly behind her. For the first time since Andromeda's elopement, she cried.
------------------------------- Summer 1977
Lily opened the letter from Hogwarts, and grinned happily when the Head Girl's badge fell out. She scanned the letter… then her eyes stopped. James Potter? What was his name doing in her Hogwarts letter? She read more closely. James Potter was Head Boy? He wasn't even a prefect! She could hardly believe it.
She would just keep it businesslike and be polite and respectful. It would be fine. She thought back to past Head Girls. She remembered an incident from her second year.
Lily had just come out of the Great Hall. Severus ran to catch her up. The two had been chatting about the potions test and how easy it had been for them, when a girl came up behind her and shoved her rudely. "Get away from Slytherins, Gryffindork!"
Then she turned on Severus…"Really Snape. You may be only a half-blood, but this Mudblood is below even you. You must learn how to act like a Slytherin."
Lily turned on the older Slytherin girl. "Get away from us. We've been friends a long time and nothing you say is going to change that!"
The girl pointed her wand at Lily and cast a hex at her. Her lips were instantly sealed together. She couldn't pull them apart. "Shut up, Mudblood. And stay shut up."
Severus had his wand pointed at the witch—throwing a Stinging Hex at her and making her yelp.
"You'll pay for this, blood traitor!" she screamed, pointing her wand again at Lily, seeming to know this would hurt Severus more than hexing him. Lily was hit with a Full-Body Bind.
Narcissa Black appeared. All Lily could do was watch from the ground. "You, Selwin. Ten points off Slytherin and a detention with Slughorn. Get out of here before I have to do my own house more harm."
The witch huffed away, furious, but unwilling to stand up to the Head Girl. Black turned to Lily. In two waves of the wand and no voice, she had removed the spells. "Are you all right?"
"Yes, thank you," Lily said, eyes wide with wonder at the voiceless spell.
"Severus, are you all right?"
"Yeah, thanks, but I'm going to make her pay for that."
"If you must," Black answered, "but do not get caught." She smiled at him.
Black had been a good head girl. Lily knew that Black didn't really like Gryffindors, but she had been fair and helped when she was needed, regardless of what house. She was going to be like her, she decided. Fair and respectful.
She grabbed her book list and made preparations to go to Diagon Alley.
Narcissa waited in the Healer's office for the results of the exam. When he came, she looked at him calmly, doing her best to hide her sorrow. He sat down across from her, gently putting his hand over hers.
"Mrs Malfoy, the good news is that you're clean inside. No remnants. I am sorry, though. This was your second miscarriage. Let's see, the last one was six months ago?"
Narcissa nodded. "Yes. Please tell me what I am doing wrong. Tell me how I can fix this. I want to have a baby. I once wanted three, like my mother, but at this point, if I can just have one healthy baby, I will be satisfied."
"First, you need to stop trying. Your levels of stress are incredible—just by the tightness in your muscles, I can tell you are making yourself ill with worry. When I checked you magically, I could visibly see the layers of stress in your neck and upper back. So I don't want you to try to get pregnant again for two years. During those two years, I want you to concentrate on being as healthy as possible. I want you to eat healthy, wholesome foods. I want you to exercise daily. Work outside in the garden. Swim. Gain ten to twenty pounds—in muscle. I want you to sleep at night and be well rested. Most importantly, no stress. If you need to learn yoga or meditation in order to relax, then do, but you are holding all your worry inside, and it is ruining your health and making it impossible for you to carry a pregnancy."
No stress? Narcissa nearly smirked. Did he have any clue what her husband was up to? She hoped not. But she could learn yoga. She could hire a masseuse, if that would help. And she could certainly do the rest.
"Would you like a consultation with a nutritional Healer?" he asked gently.
"No, I know what to do. Eat whole foods, cultured dairy, lots of fruits and veg, whole grains, lean meats, few sauces, very little alcohol, right?"
"Yes, that would sum it up. I have two prescriptions for you. One is a potion for restful sleep, for when you have difficulty. Use it only when you need it. The other is a birth control potion. It should be gentler on your system than the over-the-counter birth control potions."
"Thank you. Will there be anything else?" she asked.
"Come back and see me in two years when you're ready to try again."
"I will do that. Good day, Healer Michaels." Narcissa took the scripts and left, heading for the apothecary on Diagon Alley. She filled her prescriptions, then, even though she felt the exhaustion to her spirit, decided to go to the book store.
The store smelled deliciously of leather and gilt pages. If Narcissa had not been so sad inside, she would have truly enjoyed it, but now it was just a way to avoid going home and facing Lucius.
She was leafing through a translation of Spells Worked through Music by W.A. Mozart, when she was tapped on the shoulder. She reflexively grabbed her wand before turning around.
Narcissa turned and saw a vaguely familiar girl with dark red hair and a new Head Girl badge dangling from her pocket.
"Beg your pardon, Miss Black, erm, Mrs Malfoy, but could we talk?"
"Do I know you?" Narcissa asked, slowly putting her wand back into her pocket.
"Lily Evans. I was a second-year when you were a seventh-year."
Ah yes, the little Muggle-born whom Severus had seemed so taken with. Why would she talk to her? Or tap her with her horrid finger? "Head Girl. Congratulations." Narcissa turned back to the book.
"I didn't get your attention so I could show off my badge. I would like to talk to you, witch to witch."
Narcissa turned, looking at her suspiciously. "Go on."
"I'm worried about Severus, and he's in with the wrong crowd, and I was wondering if you could get him away from…"
Narcissa put her hand up to stop her. "It is too late. He has made his choice. Where were you when he made it, if he is so important to you?"
"He and I don't talk any more. I was hoping you could…"
"You will be at school with him this year. I suggest you try harder if you care about him."
Lily shook her head. "I can't… you see, I'm Muggle-born, and…"
"I know what you are, Miss Evans. And you seem to be making some assumptions about what I am. You have no idea what you are asking. But I do know Severus. He has twice been to parties at my home. He is a very talented young wizard. I can make no promises other than as much as my influence can do, I will protect him."
"You mean it? Oh, thank you!" Lily nearly hugged Narcissa, but Narcissa stepped back, looking horrified.
"I suggest you do the same. Even if you will not speak to him, you as Head Girl have some influence and can protect him," Narcissa told her.
"Yes, of course, I will. I just want him to stay safe until, until… he can see…" Lily stopped herself short.
"Until he can see enough to leave the Darkness?" Narcissa asked haughtily.
Lily looked uncomfortable. "I don't think you are like the rest of them. You were always respectful, even if you weren't friendly… I wouldn't have spoken to you if I thought you were one of them."
"I suppose I shall have to count that as a compliment. Good day, Miss Evans. Perhaps if we protect this boy now, he will one day repay the favour. Karma, yes?"
"Yes. Thank you."
Lily finally left Narcissa alone, so she turned back to the book, finally deciding to buy it. But she had greater things on her mind. Now she not only had to tell Lucius about the miscarriage and what the Healer said, but also figure out how to protect Snape. She sighed. No stress? The Healer must be mad.
She Apparated home, exhausted and worried. Dobby brought her tea, and she gave him directions for the changes in the menu to suit the Healer. Then she lay down for a nap.
She awoke to see Lucius standing over her, looking concerned. "You are back home," she said softly.
"I had business… it took longer than I thought it would." He touched her cheek with the back of his hand. "It is unlike you to lie down in the middle of the day. Are you unwell?"
"I am healing." She paused, knowing that it would be best to just say it. "I had another miscarriage."
"Another? When was the first one?" he asked, startled.
"Christmas. I was not very far along."
"But you did not tell me." His voice was tinged with both hurt and anger.
"I knew you were busy, and I did not wish to add to your burden."
"That sort of thing should always be told, Narcissa. I am your husband. I am the father of these lost pregnancies. Did you see the Healer? Are you all right?"
"Yes, he told me to eat better, sleep better, exercise better, stop being stressed, gain a little weight, and wait for two years before I try to carry a pregnancy again." She looked at him closely.
He nodded and took her hand. "Why are you so stressed? Or do I really need to ask?" He brought her hand to his lips and kissed it. "I am sorry. There is a reason I do not tell you what I do in this business. Part of it is to not stress you. The rest is to protect you. But you worry anyway."
"I cannot help myself. I care about you. I care about my sister. Now I worry about my cousin and Severus as well." Narcissa realized her chance had just presented itself. "I know you look out for my sister and cousin. They are Blacks and my blood relations. But Severus… he is only a half-blood. He could get into trouble. If there was just a way to suggest to the Dark Lord that he better needs Regulus and Severus for what their intellect and talent offer him, and not for blood-thirstiness or brutality… but it could not be seen as telling him what to do…" She paused, as if thinking of a solution. "If only there was a way one could think about their talents… think about all the things they could do, not about what they should not be doing… and the Dark Lord could pick it up from a mind. It would take a very talented Occlumens to make it look like the Dark Lord had extracted the thought, and it had not been planted there for him to find…"
"Do you doubt me, Narcissa? Of course I can do that. It's the perfect way to give the Dark Lord the inclination to give Regulus and Severus more reconnaissance-type duties, and get them away from the dangerous and ugly duties. You forget I am a master at manipulating things to my will. You must at least try to worry less. You need to be strong and healthy so you can get your body ready to bear our son."
He bent down and kissed her. "Get some more rest. I'll come up and have dinner with you in an hour."
After he had left, Narcissa let out a long sigh. "All right, Evans, it is done. Snape owes us both," she whispered, letting her head sink heavily into the pillow.