Narcissa Black Malfoy knew she was the perfect pureblood witch. She had always been the perfect daughter to the Black family and planned to be the perfect bride to Lucius. This is why she didn’t know why she was having tea in a little cottage in Dorset. Pureblood witches who cared about their culture didn’t associate with Blood-traitors. And yet, here she was doing exactly that.
“How is Lucius?” Dromeda asked.
“He’s doing well. The wedding is in two weeks.”
“Are you looking forward to it?” The question was innocent but she knew what her sister was asking. Dromeda had never believed in some aspects of their upbringing but she still was raised a Black and there were some questions you couldn’t ask straightaway.
“He’s good to me. I think I’ll be happy.”
“Does he know you’re here?”
“No. There are some things I can’t expect from him.” Before Dromeda could answer she continued, “I know you won’t be invited to the wedding but I came to tell you that if I could, I would find a way for you to be there.”
Dromeda smiled kindly. There weren’t many people in her life who smiled at her like that and at that moment she felt a fierce rush of nostalgia. She could remember the first time she had hidden in the attic at Grimmauld Place when they had gone to visit Aunt Walburga. Bellatrix had told her she would cut her hair in her sleep and Dromeda had come looking for her, with a face that looked so much like Bella but not really, with her soft eyes and kind smile and told her she wouldn’t let anything happen to her.
“I know Cissy. And I’m glad Lucius is good to you. I just want you to be happy.”
She choked on a sob and Dromeda held her and ran her fingers through her hair liked she used to when Narcissa cried in her bed after a particularly bad lesson with their governess who was talented with her stinging hexes.
“Would you like to meet Dora? She still can’t stick to one hair colour but I think she favours pink.”
She walked down to the nursery with Dromeda and saw a girl, barely two years old whose hair colour changed from pink to a soft blonde as soon as Narcissa walked into the room.
“I think she likes you. Here, hold her.”
Dora looked a lot like Dromeda but her features were not as sharp, something she had presumably inherited from her father. She was a tiny little thing, but beautiful and even though she had come to visit Dromeda because she was terribly nervous about the wedding she knew that this was something she had to do. If only to hold one that looked like her or like Lucius in her arms. She saw Dromeda smiling at her and smiled back.
“I should go. It was nice seeing you.”
“Feel free to visit whenever you want to.”
It had been a few years since she’d visited and the house looked different. The wallpaper had changed from a soft blue to cream and there was a child sitting in front of her whose hair colour changed every five seconds. Her sister was preparing tea and she gave herself a moment to relax. No one would expect her to be a Malfoy here. She didn’t have to make sure her face was unreadable, she didn’t have to make small talk with people she didn’t like, and she didn’t have to pretend she was perfectly fine when all she wanted to do was shout or cry or both.
“I like your hair.” Dora said to her and she smiled at the little girl.
“I like yours too. I wish mine could change its colour like that.”
Dora beamed at her and all she felt was longing. She wanted a little kid in the parlour in the manor too. To hold and to spoil, to soothe and to teach.
“How is Lucius?” Dromeda asked as soon as they were sitting with a cup of tea in their hands.
“He is doing well. His business is flourishing.”
She knew Dromeda knew something was wrong but was waiting for her to begin.
“We’re having trouble getting pregnant. It’s been four years since the wedding and we started trying immediately. Lucius is staying strong for my sake but I know how much he wants this and the ladies at the monthly teas have moved from polite suggestions to veiled insults. We’ve tried everything.” She knew she was very close to crying but she couldn’t let herself. The one thing she had wanted was being denied to her and she knew that if she started now she wouldn’t stop.
“There is a healer Ted knows, his housemate. She has been researching how muggle techniques can be applied in the magical world to have children. I don’t know if Lucius will allow you to see a muggle-born healer but from what I’ve heard she has helped a lot of people get pregnant.”
“I’ll convince him. I don’t think it’ll be hard. He wants an heir more than anything.” She stood up to hug her sister, “Thank You”, she whispered softly.
Narcissa had never felt so nervous in her life; not when Lucius had taken her to a posh restaurant in Milan and asked her to marry him, not when they had visited the healer that gave her the beautiful boy standing next to her, not even when Lucius had been accused of being a death eater and she had been very close to losing everything she had known. But standing in front of her sister’s house with her 5 year old son next to her, she could feel her heart beating and found herself holding back tears.
“Aren’t you going to knock mother?” Draco asked in a high pitched voice, trying to imitate his father’s drawl. He had started following his father around trying to copy him and she didn’t think she had seen anything as cute or funny as it, not that she would tell Draco. She collected herself and decided to knock.
Andromeda looked shocked as she opened the door and then her face became devoid of all emotions. At that moment Narcissa knew coming here was a bad idea, but she had to do this. She had waited long enough.
“What are you doing here?”
“I wanted to talk to you. Can I come in?”
Dromeda looked like she wanted to say no but then she pursed her lips and asked Narcissa to come in. She looked at Draco and her face softened slightly, she gave him a small smile.
“You must be Draco, how are you?”
Draco puffed up his chest and tried to look taller - “I’m well ma’am. How are you?”
“I’m well too. Would you like tea?”
Narcissa nodded and waited for Andromeda to sit before she spoke.
“How is Dora? She must have started at Hogwarts last year.”
“She is well. She got sorted into Hufflepuff and is tripping around the whole school. I’m pretty sure she gets into trouble often but apparently she likes to use her metamorphic abilities to prank people so I haven’t received many complaints.” Draco whose nose had scrunched at hearing the word Hufflepuff suddenly looked excited.
“She’s a metamorphmagus and pranks people?” His eyes were wide and for once he was acting like the 5 year old child he was. Andromeda seemed amused and smiled before answering- “Yes. She’s quite good at it. The walls in her bedroom are still neon green from when she was experimenting when she was nine.” Suddenly her face became unreadable again and looked at Narcissa “What are you doing here?” Draco looked like he wanted to say something because of the rude question directed at his mother so Narcissa shut him up with a look and asked him to go play in the garden.
She looked at Andromeda and could still see the unreadable mask they all had perfected by the time they were six. The perfect pureblood daughters. The phrase brought a bitter smile to her face and she answered - “I wanted to apologise, for Ted’s parents.”
“You’re 4 years too late.” Andromeda snapped and Narcissa wanted to flinch but she didn’t.
“I know. I’m sorry. I didn’t know how to come before now.”
Andromeda’s face softened slightly but she still didn’t look like the sister Narcissa knew. “I’ll be honest with you Cissy. When you came to visit me six years ago I knew what Lucius and by extension you were involved in. I don’t blame you for Ted’s parents’ deaths but you and I both know Lucius was there and I don’t think he has even thought of them even once since that night.” Narcissa saw Andromeda take a deep breath and wanted to say something, anything to tell her she was wrong but she wasn’t. She was pretty sure Lucius didn’t care about any muggle even if they were her sister’s in-laws and had died by his wand. She kept quiet and Andromeda continued.
“You may be feeling guilty but there is nothing I can do about that. Ted was a wreck after they died. He reached their house just as the death eaters were portkeying out and what he saw there wasn’t pretty. I had a 7 year old daughter and a grieving husband to take care of and even though you had nothing to do with it I can’t help but remember those two years every time I look at you. We both know who we would choose if it ever came to choosing between and husbands and children, and each other so I think we should stop pretending.”
Narcissa wanted to say so much – wanted to keep apologising till Andromeda changed her mind, wanted to tell her she didn’t condone the violence her husband took part in, wanted her to know how hard it was to wait at home with house elves and a year old child while Lucius went on missions and she didn’t know if he would return. She knew Dromeda would be there for her if Narcissa asked her to but she knew that wasn’t the right thing to do so she nodded and called Draco.
He came running and Andromeda gave him a chocolate frog. He gave her a toothy smile, the kind of smile she knew she would stop seeing in a few years. They walked out of the house, Draco was looking thoughtful.
“Who was she, mother?”
“Someone I used to know Dragon.”
“Will we visit again? She seemed nice.”
“No. I don’t think we’ll meet her again. I just came to say goodbye.”
“Well that’s a pity. I like people who give me sweets.”
Narcissa gave him a soft smile, turned and saw Andromeda looking from the window.
She took Draco’s hand and apparated away.