Disclaimer: J. K. Rowling and associates own these characters. I am writing this story for fun and not profit.
Pairing: Harry/Draco, Lucius/Narcissa, implied Draco/others
Warnings: Angst, present tense
Summary: Narcissa's first fear was for how she was raising her son. Then it became whether Draco would soar too high and far.
Author's Notes: This is a fic for goddess47, who asked for the POV of a strong Narcissa on a Harry/Draco relationship. Sorry I couldn't give you the coda to The Marriage of True Minds that you asked for! I hope this satisfies. The "jesses" of the story's title are the leather straps used to control a hawk.
When she learns that she has borne a son with a strong proportion of the Black blood, Narcissa Malfoy is not sure whether to be relieved or worried.
She discovers Draco's Black side the first time they have to deny one of his large requests: that for a winged horse foal of his very own. Lucius does not think Draco responsible enough to either stay off the animal until they tell him he can fly or to take care of it, and after considering the matter, Narcissa has to agree. Winged horses are delicate, high-strung creatures. House-elves cannot be trusted with their care.
But Draco throws a tantrum that includes long, deep, piercing shrieks, and he does not merely fling himself to the floor but snatches a plate off the table and skims it into the wall. He is screaming so loud himself that he does not hear Lucius's shouts for him to stop. He flings himself flat on his stomach and claws at the floorboards and his arms.
Of course, a simple Reparo charm fixes the dish and the floorboards. But Draco's response is too Black, too much like an insane fit, for a child of ten years old and Narcissa's peace of mind.
Too much like her sister Bella's not to give her nightmares.
"He'll grow out of it," Lucius reassures her, after they have scolded Draco and sent him to bed without dessert. "I know what you were thinking, but…" His hand touches her hair. "He's more than just that. Even your sister was sane, once."
The words are not comforting, and more than that, Narcissa sees the way Lucius's eyes follow his son, deeply troubled. He may not believe in the scourge of the Black madness, accepting, as so many pure-bloods do, that character is hereditary and follows the name. Narcissa took the Malfoy name, therefore any of her children are Malfoys, therefore they are Malfoys through and through. Not Blacks.
But Lucius will not handle the problem correctly, precisely because he does not believe. He will speak to Draco sternly, and stop him if he sees him doing this again, and otherwise forget it.
Narcissa understands. And for that reason, she moves to restrain Draco more strongly from that evening forward, using the disapproving glances Draco hates sparingly, but effectively.
And that works until he goes to Hogwarts, and perhaps a little after. Fear and war and Severus Snape stand in for Narcissa where she cannot follow.
"A late night, Draco?" Narcissa keeps her voice mild, her eyes on the newspaper. One of the things that has done no good since the war is to speak scornfully to Draco when he sits across from her, still bearing the marks of whatever fight or fuck he found to keep him occupied the night before.
Narcissa peers at him around the corner of the paper and sees him sipping Hangover Potion without a grimace. That is a sign of how much his head hurts, she supposes, and a sign that he probably took only a Firewhisky bottle to bed with him last night.
Then he shifts, and she catches sight of a bite mark on his neck. She looks back down at the paper and turns a page, focusing on Quidditch news that she doesn't care about, because it holds down her rage and exasperation.
"I think I'm going to stay home for the next week," Draco announces to the air.
Narcissa conceals another sigh. He doesn't mean it. She knows that the next opportunity that avails him, probably through a firecall from the Zabini boy, he'll be out the door and in another of the numerous pubs, restaurants, and dingier places that have opened to serve people his age since the war.
One thing she wanted has come true. Draco has survived the war, and even Lucius going to prison. He did not lose his soul to the Dark Lord. He did not become imprisoned. He suffered through a year of house arrest, as she did, but that is six months behind him now, and although he has monitoring charms on his wand still, he is trusted enough to cast spells on a daily basis without Aurors rushing through the door.
But that does not mean that he does not distress her. He has his wings back, he told her the first time he left Malfoy Manor to go to a party, and, she has learned, get drunk and fall into bed with whoever will have him.
He might be able to fly. But Draco is like a trained hawk, the way he was brought up, with pure-blood etiquette drummed into his head, a layer of Malfoy on top of the deep Black heritage that Narcissa knows he shares with her and Bella and her cousin Sirius. In the case of Sirius, any restrain he had broke after he escaped from Azkaban, and Azkaban broke it in Bella, too, albeit in a different way. Narcissa had to learn how to control herself as she was growing up; her parents clamped down even harder after Andromeda escaped, and made it impossible for Narcissa to follow that route herself.
Draco needs jesses on him, as much as Narcissa hates to admit it. Yes, this might be the normal wildness of a twenty-two-year-old wizard with almost endless wealth and nothing pressing to do. But she knows that Draco has come home with broken limbs more than once, and shaking with the Cruciatus at other times, and he would be better with someone to fly him.
A hawk will kill itself, sometimes, resisting the hand of the tamer, will die rather than submit, is essentially wild, and the way Draco exploded at her when she tried to intervene...Narcissa knows that she is not the right one for this job.
She does not know who is, however. None of Draco's friends seem interested enough in him. Lucius is in Azkaban. Narcissa has no other family, no other friends, to whom she can turn and trust with the problem, let alone with Draco.
"I'm going upstairs," Draco announces, and shoves his plate back with food untouched, and stands up to depart.
Narcissa watches him go, and wishes.
"Mrs. Malfoy? I'm sorry to disturb you, but I thought you ought to know."
Narcissa nods, and nods again. She feels as though her mind is caught in a wild, half-woven net, rather like the straggling picture her hair must make around her face. She wishes she could respond better, speak up with the gracious words that her ancestors and her husband, at the very least, would expect from her. That she expects from herself.
But it isn't every day—middle of the night—that she sees Harry Potter standing in the middle of her drawing room with his hands clasped behind his back, in the surprisingly spotless robes of an Auror, his head half-inclined as if he wants to spare her embarrassment by not looking directly at her face until she's cleaned the sleep from her eyes.
Narcissa sits up and clears her throat. "So—you found Draco where?"
Potter sighs and looks up at her. She knows that he's the newest Auror assigned to Draco's case, but he's only sent owls so far. Draco hasn't cast any spells that would require the presence of Aurors, it seems. Until now.
"In the middle of the Ministry's Atrium," he murmured, "pissing into the Fountain of Species Friendship."
Narcissa allows the smallest smile to curl her lips, not because she's amused, but because she appreciates Potter allowing her the frankness of the word "pissing." She nods. "Did he cast any Dark spells when you went to remonstrate with him?"
Potter shakes his head. "The only reason I brought him here is because I'm the one who found him, on the way out of the Ministry. He wasn't casting Dark spells, or hurting anyone."
The way his voices slides on the last words tells Narcissa he is hiding something, however. She hasn't been the mother of a son this long without becoming aware of lies. She sits up and narrows her eyes. "If Draco is in legal trouble, Auror Potter, then I need to know. At once."
Potter shoots her a sideways glance and clears his throat. "He tried to curse me. Something about how ugly my glasses were. The curse didn't hit me, though. I promise."
Narcissa sighs. The last thing they need is actual scandal touching Draco, to go with the bad reputation he's gradually acquiring in pure-blood circles.
"I brought him home." Potter hesitates, then seems to decide he has nothing to lose and he might as well ask full out. "Mrs. Malfoy, what's wrong with him? Was it losing his father to prison, or the fact that he had house arrest for a year, or—something else?"
Narcissa hesitates in turn, and then decides she will answer. It might be because Potter called Lucius's prison sentence a loss. "I think it all those things, combined with the fact that he is now head of the Malfoy family but has none of the business interests that occupied my husband. And no hobbies, either. No interests, outside of the endless social round." And angering Aurors, apparently. They are both lucky, Narcissa thinks, that Potter appears to understand and won't report Draco.
"Hmm." Potter nods. "And he doesn't want a job or anything? Even a minor position in the Ministry might keep him too busy for this."
"I did ask," says Narcissa, thinking of the owls she's sent out and the carefully orchestrated conversations she's had with Draco. "I think that a combination of real prejudice against his family name and his own pride prevented him from receiving any offers. He was asked to come talk to one of Mr. Parkinson's friends, but I don't think he kept the appointment." She shakes her head. Once again, there is the sensation of Draco speeding high over her head, out of control, flapping his wings so wildly that he will crash into something. He does not yet know how to fly. They did not train him well enough.
"Because," says Potter, with real diffidence, "it's not like I would be able to get him a job as an Auror or anything, but there are people in the Ministry who would listen to me if I asked them to give him a second chance. I wouldn't be able to keep him in the job if he didn't do the work, but at least he would be given a fair trial." He grimaces a second later, as if thinking that the coincidence of the wording is unfortunate. Narcissa agrees silently, but not aloud. "Anyway. I can talk to people if you want me to."
"Why not ask Draco if that's what he wants?" Narcissa wonders. Potter does not strike her as the type to keep secrets.
Then again, he has never struck her as the type who will use the influence of his name for someone else's benefit, either. And that is what he is offering to do.
"Because I think he'd refuse it point-blank, simply because it came from me." Potter bows his head a little. "I've been worried about him for a while, you know. The other Slytherins from our year have settled themselves, but he hasn't. And I want everyone from our year to—to be able to have a life after the war."
Narcissa opens her mouth, and then shuts it. That makes more sense than she wants to think about. Potter, the Savior, out to heal the world.
"Make the offer," she says. "Send the letter to me. That way, he'll have one more step between it and you." She adds, as Potter smiles at her, "But he'll have to know it's you someday, you realize."
"I know," Potter replies, turning away. "But by that time, he might like the job enough to stay there anyway."
Narcissa hopes so. She goes to bed dreaming that these might be the kind of jesses that Draco needs, so he can learn to fly himself.
Draco is quiet about the job interview for three days afterwards, and by that time, Narcissa has passed through impatience, counseling herself to patience, and several silent arguments about whether interfering with Draco will do more good this time than it ever has. But when he is late to lunch, not a time of day when he is normally out partying, Narcissa cannot contain herself when he does come in.
"How did it go?"
Draco tosses her a bewildered look as he pulls a plate towards him and begins piling it from the steaming dishes in the center of the table. "How did what go?"
There are times—not many, but times—when Narcissa wants to shake her son. She puts it down to the Black blood that ruins in her own veins, and says, "The interview you had. How did it go?"
Draco stares down at his hands for a second, freezing. Then he looks up, and smiles at her, just a tiny motion of his mouth, but a good one. "It went fine. I'm now a proud member of the Department of Magical Accidents and Catastrophes. Clean-up, specifically," he adds, and digs hard enough into his food to tell Narcissa he has a healthy appetite.
Narcissa half-closes her eyes, and turns back to her own food. Potter has managed it, then. She doesn't know why she's surprised. He does seem to manage everything he turns his hand to, that young man.
Which leads to other ideas.
"You didn't tell me you were the one who gave it to me."
The voice is low, but heated, and it doesn't seem as if Draco is talking to her. Narcissa marks her place in her book with one finger and turns her head to look out the window that faces the gardens. Draco is standing beneath it, on the grass, and, sure enough, talking to Potter. Narcissa wonders that she never felt Potter pass through the wards.
Then she remembers the night he brought Draco home after finding him near the Fountain. The house-elves and the wards both seem to accept Potter as one of the family. It is strange, but not the strangest thing they've ever done.
She stands up, casts a Disillusionment Charm on herself, and moves nearer the window to hear better.
Draco has his back turned to Potter at the moment, and Potter has his eyes raised to the sky. Narcissa puts a hand to her mouth to cover the smile, then remembers that no one can see her anyway and lets the smile have its way.
"You didn't tell me," Draco goes on, and there is a whine in the back of his voice that Narcissa hasn't heard in a long time. While she tries to remember where she heard it before, Draco turns around and glares at Potter. "You could have told me."
"So let me understand this," Potter says, and brings his gaze down to fasten it on Draco. "You were all right with me giving you the job with my influence, as long as I told you that was what I was doing?"
Draco stalks a few steps closer to him. "Yes," he says. "You should have thought about that before you started talking about trusting you—"
But Potter puts a hand up, and although Draco narrows his eyes, he falls silent. "You were the one who told me that trust wasn't important to you," Potter points out. "When I tried to talk to you about what you were doing to yourself, you mocked me for caring. You said that you would never care about anything that involved me. So why do you care about this?"
There is much silent spluttering from Draco's direction. Narcissa watches in interest. This kind of spluttering is what some of Draco's friends could never cause, because they could never make him pay this much attention. If Potter can get him to this sort of moment, and perhaps past it, then Narcissa wants to see it.
"You had no right to interfere in what didn't concern you," Draco finally whispers, harshly. Narcissa is beginning to think that this is about far more than Potter getting Draco a job, or finding him in the Atrium one night, or even being the Auror assigned to his case.
"You're my concern," Potter says firmly. "Because we were in the same year as each other. Because we owe each other life-debts. Because I hate what you're doing to yourself, and you really do need someone to shake you sometimes. You've been better since you started in the Ministry, haven't you? Not as many nights spent drinking and fucking?"
Narcissa nods, although Potter cannot see her. It seems wrong that he should not have at least one answer to his question, however long it may be in coming.
"Neither," Draco says, but his voice flicks like the sudden twist of a talon, and he leans towards Potter. "Which of those are you more bothered by? The drinking or the fucking?"
Potter's face whitens, tautens. "You were the one who told me I had no right to care about either."
"I'm asking you now."
"You said that you didn't care, and I shouldn't care," Potter retorts, and starts to shoulder past Draco towards the Apparition point.
Narcissa clucks her tongue. She could have told Potter that wouldn't work.
And sure enough, Draco grabs Potter's arm and hauls with all his strength, so that Potter nearly sprawls forwards into the mud. It's only good luck that he doesn't, Narcissa thinks, or maybe the training he's received. He shoves his glasses up on his nose with a hand that trembles and spins around to snarl at Draco. "What do you think you're doing?"
"Something I wanted to do," Draco says, and hands him a hard smile. "I want to know what bothered you."
"The fucking, all right?" Potter doesn't raise his voice, mostly because the sharpness comes through without that, Narcissa thinks. "I didn't like the thought of you running around with anyone who wanted you and falling into any bed that someone would hold open for you." He gestures helplessly, one hand chopping up and down. "You're better than that."
"My hero," Draco says, and he's holding Potter's arm in a different way now, although Narcissa doesn't know if Potter has noticed that. "My jealous hero."
He kisses Potter as though he has spent a long time thinking about how to do it, but that could also just be the result of practice, Narcissa thinks. She grimaces a little, because she is thinking about her son's sex life, but on the other hand, he more or less made it her business when he would stumble home at ten in the morning, or when she had to visit him in St. Mungo's and see the sorts of bruises he had welcomed as well as the ones he hadn't.
Draco draws back from the kiss and grins at Potter. "Well? Are you going to be the one to tell me that you don't care, and walk away?"
Potter gapes like a fish for a bit, and then shakes his head and drags Draco down to him with mouth and hands open wide.
Narcissa watches them only until she is sure—that, this time, Draco has found not just his jesses, but someone who can fly with him—and then she turns away from the window and back to her book. The morning is very clear and still and bright, and she smiles as she slips away into the pages.