After the war, the survivors try to find a way to cope with the losses they have incurred and move into a future they have yet to create. As they try to find ways to save themselves, they realize that perhaps the best way is to save each other.
This story will eventually be Harry Draco Slash. It will probably take a while to get there from here. This chapter is rated for general audiences.
Posted so far: 13 Chapters / 66,878 words.
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On to the Chapter
Chapter 13 B
May 7, 1998
Narcissa resisted the urge to twist the bracelet on her wrist. Her captors felt it necessary not only to bind her with the cursed bracelet, but also to send along three Aurors. In a way it pleased her, that they felt such fear of her, one wandless witch. Her power had never only been in her magic, but in the force of her will. She was born of the old families, and had their assembled strength behind her.
It amazed her that she was about to usher three Aurors, of her own will and without prior preparation, into Malfoy Manor. She knew the lengths she was willing to go for her family. It was as it should be, but she would never have believed that protecting her family would, at the same time, open them to such risk.
The Dark Lord had used it as his base, on and off, for the past year. Certainly, he had felt it his right to quarter his Death Eaters there.
The state of the Manor cut at her heart. She had chosen the decor of the Manor, elegance to intimidate, offset by small touches, almost invisible to outside eyes, to make it a home for her family. She controlled the mood and desires of those guests who stayed there. Did she put them at their ease, in the forest green bedroom? Or perhaps she would make them aware of the honour of staying at the Manor, with any of a number of elegantly appointed bedrooms, accented in creams and gilt. Of course, there were the accommodations in the dungeon, but those were Lucius’ purview.
The Manor was her contribution to the Malfoy power. As a host, she controlled the Ministers of Magic as much as her husband did with judicious applications of galleons and subtle warnings. Then the Dark Lord came and destroyed what she had developed. He had infested the Manor with the likes of Greyback and Pettigrew, neither of whom were Pureblood, neither having had even the benefit of a polite upbringing, for which she might overlook the taint in their blood. In doing so, the Dark Lord had undermined one of the gifts the Malfoys offered him: influence. Without the ability to host Ministers and Department Heads at the Manor, they were left with crass exchanges of galleons and threats.
It had devolved slowly, but with the presence of the Dark Lord a constant threat, she hadn’t dared let the criticism cross her mind. Instead, she merely planned around it, making up for the disadvantages wherever she could, with a soft or sharp word, or a delicate potion in the wine. Her choices were subtle: nothing that controlled a person, just minor suggestions that could be used to guide a person’s choices by one with the skill.
And now, the beautiful alabaster columns were smudged and splattered, the marble floors littered with their leavings. The cellars were worse. If the Aurors saw fit to examine those, it was doubtful that even her non-participation in the battle at Hogwarts would save herself or her son. She cringed at the thought of the wine cellars, bottles opened and discarded, spilled over with blood and whatever else leaked out of those who provided the entertainment at one of Bella’s gatherings. The fact that it was her own sister that was one of the worst of the lot disturbed her further.
How had it all gone so wrong? They were supposed to be protecting Pureblood values and traditions. When had it been a Pureblood tradition to drink out of the bottle like a commoner? When had it been a tradition to waste blood in mundane torture? Blood was sacred. Blood was their heritage, their power. She would have to have the elves, finally, clean the blood-sprayed walls and stained floors of the dungeons, now that the Dark Lord was no longer there to enjoy them.
Until this past year, she had never allowed one not of the family into her home without having ensured it was presentable. When Aurors and Ministers visited, there must be no sign of the arts that had been made illegal by short-sighted officials and zealots. And certainly, when guests of any sort were welcomed, they needed to be made comfortable, in a clean and refined environment. The Dark Lord had required the use of the manor, however, and her husband had complied. Perhaps that was the Alohomora that opened the way for the risks she took today.
For here she was, pricking her finger on the sharp point at the gate to let those of the Malfoy family through the wards, in case of disaster when they might need access yet not have their wands. She was only glad that the point was disillusioned, so that the Malfoy use of blood as an emergency method of entry was hidden from the judgemental eyes of the Aurors.
The front walk and lawn were trampled. The front door had been scarred by one of the Dark Lord’s werewolf allies. And she had allowed this.
The entry, at least, had been cleaned. Perhaps the house elves had taken it upon themselves to make it presentable for her return.
She made her way to the main library. She did not run her fingers along the spines to find the book she was after. Such treatment would destroy some of the Malfoy collection, and could well lose her an arm.
In a long stride, she passed the public shelves, leaving the Aurors behind, and quickly turned down one aisle to touch three books in rapid succession, duck into the opening that cleared, and close it behind her.
She breathed deeply but quietly. One Malfoy secret, saved from the Aurors’ prying eyes. On the third shelf from the top, on the fifth case in, was a small, pale, leather-bound book.
She took it from the shelf. The leather was soft from age and handling, and was the colour of cream. She ran her fingers along it. There had been one like it at the Black Estate that she had learned from, but she had not been there for many years. She remembered studying her childhood copy: learning the runes, and learning to focus her will. That was the Black family book, with its own stories and secrets. The Black book was bound in dark red, and the leather was textured. The one in her hands reminded her of the Malfoy men: pale, dangerous, beautiful to look at, full of stories more complicated than outward appearance.
This was the Malfoy children’s book. She remembered teaching Draco, watching his young face scrunch up in concentration, before he had learnt to keep his face calm in the face of adversity. She opened it. There it all was, Wizarding traditions passed down from parent to child within each family, each slightly different, each followed in the name of generations. The reason for life was lineage. Each spell, each ward, each glyph of protection written in this book was in the name of protecting the blood. She would protect her child with her life. Any Pureblood who remained true to the old ways would.
Swiftly, she marked the sections she wished to reveal, and then triggered the runes that would selectively show just those sections. Although she must open the Manor to outsiders who did not wish them well, she would not reveal more than was necessary. When she had protected all that she could, she went to the other end of the narrow hall of books, the most protected library of Malfoy Manor.
She activated the glass by which she could see past the door, painting the necessary rune with her finger. The Aurors were still seeking her in the area of her entry point. The magic used to conceal the private library also seemed to misdirect the controller on her bracelet: the Aurors were scanning the controller, and probably could tell she was close, but not her specific location. She could only surmise that they didn’t want to stun their only guide at the Manor—she had made it quite clear that they should stick close to her or the protections at the Manor might well trap them. She smirked briefly, but knew she had better return to them before they gave up and activated the stun rather than risk her escape, regardless of the risk to themselves. Tracing the rune on the door and focussing on her will, she felt it come ajar with a soft click. As quickly as she had entered, she left the narrow aisle, closed the door behind her, and moved halfway down the next aisle to protect the location of the entry.
Composing herself, she walked back to where she heard the Aurors, three aisles down. “I have what I need.” One of the Aurors jumped. He had been reaching to touch a book in the shelves.
“I wouldn’t touch that one, if I were you. Not if you like that hand.” The Auror jerked back his hand. Narcissa smiled.
Using every ounce of the skill she had developed in acting the hostess for both ministry officials and the Dark Lord, although not at the same time, she manoeuvred the Aurors out before they could snoop too much. She doubted they even realized they were being managed.
When she arrived back at the castle, the Aurors brought her back to their rooms, despite her request to see Lucius. She asked them to pass the message along that she had the proof the Headmistress desired. Once they had locked her in, fortunately removing the bracelet first, she brought Draco up to date on his father, as well as the opportunity she had opened for him.
* * *Of Family Obligations
May 7, 1998
The knock at the door was followed, without even a courtesy pause, by the sound of a murmured spell to unlock it, and the creak as the door opened. An Auror came in and scanned the room with eyes and wand, before gesturing Minerva McGonagall into the room. Narcissa schooled her features into a pleasant blandness, before turning to face her visitor, still not quite able to decide whether she felt complimented or irritated by their obvious wariness toward her family. Did they imagine she would carve into them with the spoons that were furnished with their lunch, like a deranged Muggle?
As Headmistress McGonagall stepped through, she heard Draco barely repress an exasperated huff. He did need to work on controlling his presentation. No sooner had she thought that, when her son stood up, turned toward the Headmistress with a neutral, curious gaze. They both knew what the Headmistress was visiting about, and Narcissa had the book to hand, but Draco was within his rights to be annoyed. He had written several letters to the woman, and she had ignored them.
The Headmistress may have seen something of her, or more likely her son’s thoughts, for she turned to him. “I have received your messages, Mr Malfoy. I will address them in due course, but at the moment, I need to speak with your mother in my office, for reasons I’m sure she has discussed with you. I will have tea prepared for us. Please bring the book you retrieved, so we may discuss it. In addition, your sister – Andromeda Tonks – has made a request. I am to determine if it is one we can honour.”
Narcissa raised an inquisitive eyebrow, but Professor McGonagall merely waited. She searched the older woman’s face, which was cool but showed no other signs. After a moment, she nodded.
“I’m afraid, given the circumstances, I must again ask you to wear this.” The bracelet that Professor McGonagall held out was a solid band of silver with no apparent clasp. “It is not as extensively protected as the Auror detaining bracelet you wore earlier today, but it still has several features to ensure that you will return here at the end of our conversation.”
“I would not leave my family to your... care. I’m sure I’ve mentioned this?”
“Nevertheless, it is required. Be aware that it will stupefy under the same conditions as the Auror model, although perhaps not so vigorously.”
“That does relieve the mind. Your Aurors gave the impression that the device was potentially life-threatening. I, of course, would never expect such casual disregard for human life among your group.” Her voice was wry. The very fact that they did not teach basic methods to protect the children against such a danger as they were seeing now made it clear that their oft touted values were only within their narrow view of the world.
Narcissa had already chosen her way, however, and there was no purpose served in indecision or debate. She stretched out her hand for the bracelet, and slid it onto her wrist. As soon as it touched her skin, it shrank to fit, neither too tight, nor loose enough to remove.
She gestured toward the door, as if she were the lady of the house, and the Headmistress passed through it, only to pause on the other side to wait as Narcissa exited their suite as well. With Narcissa flanked by an Auror on one side, and McGonagall on the other, they made their way to the Headmistress’ office.
Today, both on the way out to Malfoy Manor, and just now, was Narcissa’s first chance to see the full extent of the destruction of the battle. When she left for the Manor she had been focussed on her plans, on how to get in, get the book, and get out, without allowing the Aurors too much access. They could have pushed the matter, of course. She had needed to control each movement, each gesture, each word, so as to direct their choices without them being aware of it.
Now she had the leisure to observe her Alma Mater. It looked like a battlefield more than a school, even days later. She did not feel quite as horrified by the destruction here as she did by that at the Manor, but it still pained her. Hogwarts was where she had learned to love Lucius. This was where she had yielded her neck to his kisses. Even with a son almost grown, those kisses caused her body to tremble and yearn. Lucius was the only one she had ever considered. When she chose him, she chose his path, and put her skills and wit toward furthering his goals, knowing they walked their path together. She aligned herself with his family, and gave her heart to him. It was at Hogwarts that they had started their plans for a future together. A future almost certainly destroyed. A future she would do anything to reclaim for Draco.
* * *
The Headmaster's Office, Narcissa observed, had changed. She had last been here when Dumbledore had been in residence, with his garish gewgaws and ornaments. Of course McGonagall was in charge now. The office now was much more relaxing, if just as cluttered, now with papers.
The tea table stood to the side with a properly prepared tea and sandwiches, and McGonagall gestured her to sit, exactly as if this were a social call. Narcissa appreciated the effort. McGonagall poured the tea, and offered a sandwich. When they each had a plate and a cup to hand, McGonagall spoke.
“Your sister Andromeda lost her only child to the wand of Bellatrix Lestrange.”
Narcissa’s heart clenched at further evidence that her sister truly had gone insane. Much as she disapproved of Andromeda’s choice to marry that mudblood, her niece was still of Black blood, and the blood, at least, should have been respected, however tainted.
McGonagall continued with another shocking statement. “The funeral will be tomorrow, at the Black estate, by the wishes of the current Head of the Black family.”
Narcissa had not been to the Black estate since it had been closed six years ago. After Arcturus’ death, his widow and his spinster cousin Cassiopeia had managed to dodder around the old Black estate for another year. When they died, within a month of each other, there had been no one in the line and of the blood to leave it to, what with Arcturus’ son Orion dead, and his grandsons either dead, in the case of Regulus, or cast out and in Azkaban, in the case of Sirius. Various cousins and nieces and nephews who might have been eligible to lead the family had either died or married out, as Narcissa herself had, thereby transferring her first loyalty to her husband’s family. The estate had been sealed, and none but those of the Blood could gain entrance. Andromeda had taken her life in her hands to even venture there, cast out as she was, but apparently she had succeeded. But even more astounding was the latter part of the headmistress’ statement.
“There is a new head of the family? Why was I not informed?”
“You are being informed now. From what I gather, the transition occurred yesterday afternoon. Sirius Black declared Harry Potter his heir in name, magic, and blood.”
Narcissa tracked back the Black lineage. “Dorea Black married Charlus Potter. Yes, I suppose that would make him eligible. Still, I had thought that Draco…”
“You know the Black family better than I do. Which line had precedence?”
Narcissa considered. The Potter boy actually had a claim. Suddenly she realised: there was a half-blood head of house Black! Harry Potter might have the right to claim her allegiance, especially if Lucius and Draco—
She set aside the thought, lest the pain of it distract her from necessity. She knew she would have to include all possibilities in her calculations to ensure that the Malfoy family continued, but for now, the sacrifice she would likely have to make ripped her soul open. Each moment she could spend with her husband was precious, yet even now she sacrificed those moments to create a future for her son. She would not have the luxury of Lucius’ presence for long, and she yearned to spend this time with the man she had fallen in love with all those years ago, and who held her loyalty to this day.
For Draco’s sake, and the sake of the family name, she would have to consider what benefit she could get. And having Harry Potter as the head of her family did have benefit, once the unthinkable happened. If he followed the rules, she would be able to call on him to provide protection and defence. She would use that, for herself and for Draco. She would use it all.
“Mr Potter will also be at the funeral, and it will also include a memorial for his mentor, Remus Lupin.” McGonagall broke into her thoughts.
Not only half-bloods, but werewolves as well. She could already sense the shaking of the Black mausoleum as the dead shuddered in their crypts.
“I will allow you to attend this funeral if I have your word, on your magic, that you will do nothing to disrupt it. Mr Potter and Mrs Tonks have been through enough, and have a right to their grief, and to have a memorial to their loved ones in peace.”
Narcissa looked down her nose at the woman seated before her. “I would not disrupt such an event, especially on Black land, regardless of my personal feelings. You understand little if you think I would even consider it.”
The Headmistress nodded.
“I would ask a favour, however. My son is also of the lineage. He has the right to attend as well. It would be of benefit to him, to be able to re-connect with my side of the family, however truncated it is at present.”
McGonagall pursed her lips. “Your son and Mr Potter have no need to ‘reconnect’. They have connected quite enough in their years here, and do not have the best history. Mr Potter doesn’t need his old school nemesis disrupting such a tragic occasion. Can your son abide by the same restrictions? I would expect the same oath of him, as he is of age to make it.”
Circumstances had constrained their choices. Narcissa did not want her son to risk such an oath. He still had trouble controlling himself, especially around Harry Potter. But if he could—if he could use the connection that now existed between Harry Potter and her line, they might just get out of this.
“Draco will behave. I will explain the need to him, and he will give his word.”
“Now that that is settled, I would like to see this book of yours.”
Narcissa took the book from the pocket of her robe, but held it in her hand. “This book is part of the Malfoy family heritage.”
“You may retain it. I would ask to copy any relevant pages, to assist in protecting the volunteers.”
Narcissa handed the book to the Headmistress. “You will want to look on page 26. That is where the rites of cleansing are contained.
McGonagall turned to the page as directed, then proceeded to read. Her face grew pale as she read, as well it should, considering the ignorance that was being perpetuated at the school for which she was responsible.
Turning page after page, until she reached the end of the section, and indeed, the end of the parts of the book Narcissa had allowed for viewing, McGonagall read the words and examined the glyphs and drawings. She put the book down when she was done.
“Mr Malfoy, Draco Malfoy that is, knows how to do this?”
Narcissa looked at her coolly, "It is the first magic they do as part of the family. From the age of seven, our children are also responsible for protecting the family and their home.”
“How many people are needed to do the work?”
Narcissa considered. “If time were not a concern, one person could do it alone. However, for safety and for speed, I would recommend no less than four in a group, but five would be preferable. More teams of five would speed the work, if you could find enough that know the process. The knowledge and skill of the members of the group are more important than mere quantity.”
“Would you be able to identify students that have this knowledge? There are several students among the volunteers, as well as among those detained here. Kingsley Shacklebolt and I decided that incarceration at the Ministry, much less at Azkaban, was not conducive to rehabilitation of students who had come under – Tom Riddle’s influence.”
The wry twist of the Headmistress’ lips warned her. “Tom Riddle was a half-blood who attended Hogwarts in the nineteen forties. He chose to change his name, to distance himself from his past. He died at Harry Potter’s hands on the morning of May second.
Narcissa leaned back in shock, certain that her face gave her away. She suddenly remembered something Draco had said a few days ago that had not made sense. He had been ranting, and she had been more concerned with Lucius at the moment. The Dark Lord, a half-blood!
She had known he was cruel to enemies and followers alike, and that he was a powerful wizard who excelled in the dark arts. She had learned that he was base and disturbed. But she had thought it was a known thing, that which sometimes afflicted Pureblood families, or those who are incautious with the dark arts. She thought that he valued what she did. He spoke of valuing wizarding blood. She remembered attending a meeting, while she was yet at Hogwarts, and listening to this charismatic man speak about the need to restore true wizarding traditions. How could he restore what he had never truly known?
She closed her eyes and gathered her thoughts. The Dark Lord was dead; her life continued. She had to focus on that.
The Headmistress had avoided saying “Your Master”, although she was sure that the older woman had thought it. She wondered at the circumlocution. Was she allowing for the possibility that Narcissa herself had not followed him? Or perhaps it was too much work to say “your husband’s erstwhile master.” She almost discounted the possibility that Professor McGonagall had used the name to convey information, or to acquire it. Perhaps she shouldn’t. The old witch knew something now that she hadn’t known before, as did Narcissa.
Narcissa took a sip of her tea, replaying the conversation in her mind, and returned to the Headmistress’ actual question. Giving names also revealed affiliations that should perhaps be kept silent, now that their opponents were ascendant. It was, nevertheless, necessary.
“Do you know the status of Miss Greengrass or Miss Parkinson? I would trust either of them, as well as young Mr Nott, if they are in your…collection. I know them from long family acquaintance. The Zabini boy would be a good choice. He would have been trained when his mother was married into the Selwyn family.”
“You’ve only mentioned Slytherins.” McGonagall noted. She sipped her tea, but did not let her gaze waver from Narcissa’s face.
“There may well be other purebloods I could recommend, but I am not as familiar with all the families as I am with the ones I mentioned. "You've seen what happened to those people in the infirmary. Anyone who is not well trained in this task, and experienced enough that the work and the necessary caution would be instinct, stands to lose their magic completely. Can you imagine living like a Muggle?" Narcissa allowed herself a delicate shudder.
“Then why risk your son?”
“I trained him, using this exact book.” She picked up the pale book on the table and returned it to the safety of her lap. “I worked with him. The risk to him is not nearly as much as the risk to all of us if we allow undertrained witches and wizards, regardless of their house, to attempt it. You need someone who understands, in blood and bone, what the risks and consequences are. You need someone whose caution is ingrained, because they are familiar with the dangers of dark magic, and not just the rhetoric put forth by the Ministry and…certain other parties. If I had my preference, I would do the work myself. When my husband has recovered, he could do it—” The flicker of rejection in McGonagall’s eyes was exactly what Narcissa expected. “But you don’t trust us. I’m asking you to trust my son, or at the very least, trust my son’s desire to see a future.
When the Headmistress didn’t respond, Narcissa continued, “The children I mentioned are all Slytherin. I mention them because I know that their families practice the old ways. There are families that may also practice the tradition in other houses—I know of at least three in Ravenclaw, and another two in Hufflepuff. Whether their experience working with dark magic is extensive enough for me to trust them in the cleansing is not something I can confirm. In addition, while those in other houses than Slytherin might know the rites, I don’t know how well they would work with my son, considering the prejudice present at Hogwarts.”
McGonagall protested “The teachers at Hogwarts have always treated their students fairly.”
“The Malfoy family name protected Draco. I know this as well as you. But even so, most of the points deducted from Slytherin house were taken by you, Headmistress. I trust you will be more even handed in the future. Students recognize prejudice, and act accordingly.”
“Your son and his friends were far from innocent, Mrs Malfoy. I took points where I saw wrongdoing. Frankly, if all the wrongdoing had been accounted for, Slytherin house would have suffered greatly.” The Headmistress frowned. “Counting of points, is not the matter at hand, however. We were discussing the removal of the taint in the magic at Hogwarts. You would have me create an all Slytherin crew?”
"I would. Give the children a chance Headmistress. Their parents are imprisoned or dead, their funds tied up until the Wizengamot has its say. They have nothing but their heritage, and it is what will save Hogwarts."
The Headmistress considered. “How long will it take? Can the other volunteers continue to work?”
“There is no need to endanger them. A weekend’s delay will not matter, but each spell cast makes Hogwarts more precarious.”
The Headmistress nodded, making a note.
“The time required depends on the resources you have available. I assume you have a list of the…detainees currently at Hogwarts? Perhaps also a list of your volunteers? It would be especially useful if I could discuss it with my son. While I might recognise families that have practiced our traditions, Draco would know which students were skilled.”
McGonagall did not look pleased at the prospect of providing such information. Narcissa adjusted her hands in her lap to draw attention to the book she had brought, and gazed directly into the other woman’s eyes. Information needed to pass both ways for either of them to achieve their goals. McGonagall nodded. “You will have it.”
Chapter 1 (If you've not read the story yet, start Here...)
Chapter 13A (if you missed the first part of the chapter, click here)
Chapter 14 (To Go on to the next chapter, click here)