Narcissa looked down at the letter that dropped onto her desk, frowning at the handwriting on the front of it. She held it by a corner, as far away from her body as she could, raising her wand and using a precisely aimed Diffindo to open it. A single piece of parchment fluttered out, onto the ground, and she picked it up, turning it over. A paw print stood out at the bottom of the page, but she ignored it, looking at the words.
Narcissa dropped the letter, quickly picking it back up again and holding it tightly.
'This probably seems like a cruel joke, doesn't it? I swear to you, it isn't. The date is January 23, 1980, and whatever you were told about me regarding a particular incident last year was a lie. But I can trust you. You're having a son soon, I've heard. Knowing you, you'd do worse than kill to keep him safe. So here is what you need to know...'
"C'mon Draco, put that down, Mummy needs it."
Draco looked up at Narcissa from where he was sitting on her desk, chewing on the envelope that she had just retrieved from a now familiar barred owl.
She sighed, gently trying to tug it from the one year old's iron grasp. "I just need it for a few minutes, love."
The small wizard's pale eyes met hers for a moment, and he opened his mouth, letting the envelope go.
"Mumum." He held the letter out to her, and she smiled, kissing the top of his head.
I don't think words could possibly explain the joy I feel knowing that he's finally dead. At the expense of some of the finest of magical folk and a child's happiness, but he's gone.
However, I still think it best that I stay here, especially considering the fishy situation around my kin. I'm trying to discretely poke my nose in, but it doesn't seem all right. Then again, I have never been a man of the law, unlike you. Woman of all talents. I envy you that.
Nonetheless, as always, I send you and yours my love.'
Narcissa sat down heavily on her bed, her splitting headache that had begun at dinner when one of her most unpleasant memories had visited her finally subsiding. The bed sank next to her as Lucius sat beside her, taking her hand into his.
"How are you feeling, love?"
She looked over at him for a moment, eyes scanning his face before she leaned into him. "You know."
Lucius wrapped his arm around her, rubbing her side before shifting behind her and pulling her hair back so he could hold it in one hand.
"Do you want to talk about it?" He asked gently as he began the slow process of braiding his wife's hair.
"It's just more of the same. I looked at Draco and Harry earlier and they were just so comfortable with each other. It reminded me of when Draco was little and he asked for a sibling for Christmas. I'm ridiculous." Narcissa sighed, rubbing her hands over her face, eyes shut.
"Of course you aren't. You can be ridiculous at times, such as when you decided to invite everyone over for Christmas last minute and then rush around making plans over the course of an hour, but you are not a ridiculous person. I would know, we've been married almost fifteen years now."
Narcissa smiled slightly, tilting her head back to look at her husband. "When do you think we should tell Harry?"
Lucius hummed, quiet for a moment as he thought. "I think he'll find out about Dan on Christmas, if he asks, one of us can explain to him. My Mark though..." He let out a heavy breath, swearing softly. "I don't want him to hate me already, you know? That's supposed to come from puberty. I'll own up to it, wear short sleeves or something. I'll initiate it if he doesn't ask."
"He needs to know. Draco avoided us for weeks when you told him until he understood, he can help Harry. I hope..."
Lucius said nothing, instead leaning forward and kissing Narcissa's cheek after tying up her braid.
Dobby popped into the room, and they both looked at him. He quickly walked towards Narcissa, head bowed. "Mistress, this letter came for you in your office."
She took it, opening it and groaning at the eight words and the paw print on the parchment, flopping back onto her bed.
"Readjust everything to accommodate one more."
"Yes, Mistress." Dobby popped off, and Lucius leaned over to look at the letter in his wife's hand.
"What's significant about a blank parchment? Or is it spelled?"
She held it up in front of her face. "'I am on my way. Disregard my cancellation.'"
Lucius just laughed, shaking his head. "Right, well, best off to bed with both of us."
Narcissa nodded, getting up and tossing the parchment into the fireplace before getting back into bed. She could already tell that Christmas would be a longer day than she had expected.
Harry groaned as weight suddenly hit him full force. He opened his eyes, groaning and trying to wiggle out from under Draco.
"C'mon, I was sleeping."
"It's Christmas!" Draco crowed, only for Harry to shove him off and scramble out of bed, grabbing his glasses.
"It's like six in the morning!"
Draco just laughed, grabbing Harry's arm and pulling him out of his room and down the stairs to the living room where Narcissa and Lucius looked a bit half asleep where they were sitting on the floor by the tree.
"Good morning Harry. Happy Christmas."
"Happy Christmas, Harry."
Harry smiled, walking over to both of his parents and hugging them before sitting down beside Draco. Lucius stood, setting down his cup of coffee on a table before sitting next to the tree, leaning over to play Santa and pass out the presents.
"Alright, let's see, this is for Harry, Draco, Draco, Harry..." He continued on until there were two massive piles before each boy and Harry's jaw was hanging open. He hadn't ever seen anyone get as many presents as were sitting before him, not even Dudley.
Draco reached over and shut Harry's mouth, smiling slightly. "Pixies."
Harry nodded slightly, looking at Narcissa and Lucius, both of whom gestured for him to begin opening the presents beside him. Harry reached out and took a present just as Draco did, following Draco's example in tearing the paper open.
In the end, he received several books, most of which he had asked for, a few of which Draco had seen him eyeing in the Library and so told his parents about. Quite a few were on different Wizarding topics, and Draco had laughed when he opened one on politics. ("Only you would be excited over a book on dead Ministers.")
Along with those, however, he'd also received a new quill set to replace the quills he had that were starting to get rather tattered after daily usage.
Lucius pulled out two more presents from behind the tree, holding them out to his sons.
"Last ones, here you go, boys."
The two stood, reaching out and unwrapping their final gifts, both turning to each other and yelling as they realised that they had both gotten Nimbus 2000s. Lucius grinned at their delight, grunting softly as they both hugged him tightly.
"Now you can stop stealing your mum's broom from her, Harry."
Harry just laughed, releasing Lucius to hug Narcissa as well. "Thank you."
Narcissa and Lucius opened their presents, both fawning over the gifts their sons had gotten them before ushering the kids into the dining room, Dobby Apparating in to take the gifts to their room as they ate.
The Malfoy family was still in their pajamas when the fireplace flared up and Sirius walked out of it, carrying a stack of presents. Arcturus followed him, holding his own small stack. An unfamiliar man walked out behind him, bending down to pick up the gifts that were falling out of Sirius' arms.
"Happy Christmas!" Sirius called out from behind his stack of presents, almost tripping over the pajama pants that were clearly too big for him. Lucius stood, taking the top half of the stack off his hands. The four men disappeared off into the living room, and Narcissa herded the two eleven year olds out after them.
Sirius turned towards Harry after the young wizard had hugged Arcturus. "Harry, I'd like to introduce my fiancé, Remus Lupin."
Harry looked at Remus, walking up to him and holding out his hand. "Hello, Remus, I'm Harry."
Remus smiled, shaking Harry's hand. "Hello Harry. I haven't seen you in many years, but Sirius has been keeping me updated. How's your Defense class?"
Harry's eyes lit up, and Remus noticeably relaxed as the eleven year old began babbling excitedly about the theory work he had learnt in class and how he wanted to apply it.
"Have you gotten to magical creatures yet?" Remus asked tentatively, and he felt Sirius turn and look at him from across the room where he was helping Draco stuff more presents under the tree to open later when everyone had arrived.
Harry paused, scrunching up his nose as he thought back to his previous classes, finding it a bit easier now than it had been in previous months thanks to Alex's Occlumency lessons. "A little bit. Mostly like Bowtruckles and ghosts and hags. Nothing scary like werewolves."
Remus' heart sank as Harry generalised all werewolves as scary, nodding slightly. "Well, you'll get to more advanced things in time. After all, you still have six and a half years."
Harry grinned, whirling around as Draco called him a nerd from across the room. Harry ran over to the couch, grabbing a pillow and chasing his brother with it as Draco took off running.
Narcissa looked over her shoulder, shaking her head and calling out to them, "Boys, no running in the house, take it outside!" She turned her head towards Sirius and Remus, smiling softly. "Would you two terribly mind watching them? They got brooms, so I'm sure they want to fly."
Both former Gryffindors shook their heads, each taking a broom and heading outside after the eleven year olds, finding that Harry was now using his pillow as a shield as Draco threw messily formed snowballs at him.
"Hey, kiddos! Your mum said you could fly if you want!"
The two dashed over, taking the brooms and immediately shooting off, occasionally diving to grab snow to throw at each other. Remus stared up at them, smiling slightly.
"James would shit himself seeing this."
Sirius looked at him for a moment, absently nodding as he looked back up at his godson and cousin. "Because his son is a Slytherin and a Malfoy, or because he's obscenely good at flying?"
Sirius smiled slightly, wrapping his arm around Remus' waist before jumping as hands slammed down onto his shoulders. He whirled around, wand out, relaxing when he saw Arcturus.
"Merlin, Granddad, you scared the hell out of me."
Arcturus just grinned, looking up at the boys who were now rapidly descending, holding out his arms as Harry crashed into him, hugging him tightly. Arcturus waved his hand towards Draco, who joined the hug. He patted their backs, grinning. "Getting ready to make the League, are you?"
Draco grinned, prodding Harry's ribs. "Yeah, maybe once he actually starts acting instead of watching what's happening."
Harry stuck his tongue out at Draco, speaking in the same tone of voice. "And maybe you'll make it once you think before you act."
Remus snorted, suddenly freezing and whispering in Sirius' ear before he quickly dashed back inside. Sirius watched him leave for a moment before accepting Harry's offer to team up against Draco and Arcturus in a mock game of Quidditch.
"Dragon! No, no! Wyrm! What do you mean no? Wyvern?"
Arcturus threw his arms up in the air in exasperation, and Harry drummed on his cheek before clapping his hands together.
Arcturus pointed at Harry, before rounding on Lucius. "See, your son got it, you were just railing on about different giant scaled things!"
"You made a go-on motion!"
"Yes, go on with the word!"
Draco was in fits of giggles as the two men squabbled, both looking ridiculous with their hair down and braided - courtesy of Narcissa, who was now working on Sirius' hair - and decked out in ridiculous looking onesies that Sirius and Remus had bought them from some Muggle shop. There was a knock at the door, and Lucius froze for a moment before looking at Narcissa. She bit her lip, looking down at Sirius' hair, glancing at the door as the knock resounded again.
The elf crack!ed into existence in front of them, and Harry absently waved as he read the card that Remus had passed him from their deck of charades cards. "Hey, Moony, what does this mean?"
Remus beamed before beckoning Harry down, whispering in his ear as Narcissa told the house elf to have the guest wait in the foyer. She wrapped a band around his braid before standing, the sound of harsh whispers coming from the foyer. There was another knock at the door, and everyone paused as they heard Narcissa hiss "Oh, just go!" before opening the door again.
Harry squinted at the man standing in the doorway, looking at Sirius to see his mouth hanging open, Arcturus standing and putting his hand on Sirius' shoulder, looking grim. Harry swung his head back towards the man, looking at Sirius again. "Is that your...brother?"
Lucius was noticeably drawn back into the couch, and Sirius sprang to his feet, moving to dash towards the man. "YOU MOTHERF-"
Remus dragged him back down, covering his mouth, everyone staring at the newcomer but Harry and Draco, who were markedly confused. Narcissa reentered to see everyone staring, Sirius clearly fuming, Alex trailing behind her.
"Oh, for Merlin's sake. Harry, Draco, this is Regulus, Sirius' little brother, Reg, my sons."
Harry stood, offering his hand to Regulus even as Sirius hissed "Don't touch him!" at his godson. Regulus shook Harry's hand, smiling slightly. "Charmed."
Draco followed Harry's example, Lucius stiffening on the couch as his elder son shook hands with his cousin.
Regulus looked at Arcturus, swallowing heavily. "Granddad."
"Regulus. Why did you never write me? You know you can't hide from me, what's wrong with you, avoiding your own grandfather, twelve years and no owl, no Floo call? Your mother would be ashamed."
Arcturus strode over to his youngest grandson, embracing him tightly as Sirius' mouth fell open. Regulus smiled slightly, hugging Arcturus back before walking over to Sirius.
Sirius surged up, drawing back his fist, slowly dropping it and grabbing his brother by the shoulders, staring at his face, his hands balling up again, fists tapping against Regulus' shoulders. "What happened?"
"I defected. I realised you were right, and I found out something awful, and I defected. But there's no honourable discharge from being a Death Eater. The only way out is death. His or ours. He stuck around too long, so I had to go."
Sirius was quiet again, breaking into a sob before hugging Regulus tightly. Harry frowned, looking at Draco, whispering. "What's a Death Eater?"
Draco froze, clearing his throat. "It's, uh...it's...ask someone else."
Harry frowned more, and Narcissa emerged from the kitchen with Alex, the two levitating a large table of desserts into the room, setting it in the centre.
Harry perked up at seeing Alex, bouncing over to them, Draco right beside him, the two children excitedly chattering, asking for stories and hugs. Alex just laughed, holding up their hands to shush the boys, reaching into their robes to pull out two small cages. Harry whooped as he saw his favourite Puffskein from his Occlumency lessons, Draco cooing at the little fuzzball, letting it out onto his hand. Harry's was already perched on his head, happily humming as the boy hugged Alex in thanks.
The party returned to intense charades, guessing between moutfuls of cake, brownies, pies, pudding, and the like. Regulus read his card and rubbed his hands together before pushing his sleeves up, clearly excited about his card. Harry's eyes were caught by the bright red mark on his left arm, and as the hour mounted towards midnight, Arcturus, Sirius, and Remus retreated upstairs to sleep and Narcissa and Lucius had to drag a half asleep Draco up to bed, so Harry took the opportunity to make his way towards Regulus, Alex having been passed out on the couch for at least an hour already, leg on the floor beside a half-empty bottle of Firewhiskey, snoring away with a blanket half over their body.
Regulus looked at him, glancing back at the row of stockings, nodding at a small pink one on the very far edge of the mantelpiece. "Who's Dan?"
Harry furrowed his brows, looking around for his parents, beckoning them over as they came down the stairs.
Harry pointed at the tiny stocking, repeating Regulus' inquiry. "Who's Dan?"
Narcissa's mouth opened and closed, and she swallowed. "I, uh...Harry, you know how when people are pregnant, the babies are in their tummy, right?"
"Of course." Harry nodded, remembering seeing a few pregnant women walking around Privet Drive while he did yard work.
Narcissa sat down on the floor, pulling Harry down to sit with her. Lucius instinctively sat beside his wife, and Regulus slowly sat behind Harry. Narcissa took Harry's hands in hers, biting her lip for a moment.
"And you know that sometimes the baby isn't born?"
Harry nodded again. His aunt had gotten pregnant when he was about five, and the whole house had been in uproar about the new Dursley. Harry had actually been included in the celebration, and he regarded it as one of the few times he was happy at the Dursleys, as he was allowed to sleep on the couch. But after a few months, his aunt had come home crying and he was returned back to the cupboard, a blocked memory preceding it.
"Well, Harry," Narcissa paused, and Lucius rubbed her back. "I was...fighting one day, the war was still going on, this was just after you had killed the Dark Lord, and things weren't fixed over night, there were still problems. This...one group, they targeted families like ours, they essentially ambushed your father and I, Draco was still a baby. And-"
She choked as her throat closed up, and Harry climbed into her lap, hugging her tightly, resting his head against her neck. "You don't have to tell me more, Mum."
She held him tightly, and Regulus cleared his throat. "I'll be going, then."
Harry's eyes opened, and he jumped up as Regulus headed towards the door.
"Wait! I have a question to ask you!" Regulus turned, and Harry pointed at his arm. "Why do you and Dad have matching tattoos?"
Regulus and Lucius met eyes, and Lucius sighed heavily. "It's a long story, Harry."
"I'm not tired," Harry said, resisting the urge to rub at his eyes. Regulus smiled slightly, and sat back down in front of the fireplace, quietly explaining to Harry the ideals of the majority of the Black family, and Harry froze, looking between his parents and Regulus, and Regulus held up a hand.
"Harry, listen, it's easier to go along with what you know is wrong when it's the majority and all you've been told for your entire life. It takes some serious balls to realise you're wrong and reject what you've known. Especially when you've committed to it. Sirius is a Gryffindor for a reason, he took in everything he learnt from our parents and threw it out the window. I wasn't strong enough for that until it was thrown into my face that the path I chose wasn't what I wanted. Unfortunately, it was about eight months after I had given my service, my life to the Dark Lord."
Regulus smiled slightly, nodding. "Yeah, Wormyport. Anyhow, this mark, this is the Dark Mark. It's the mark of the Dark Lord's followers. It's red right now, I presume because he's not around, but when he was active it was black. It let us summon him, let him summon us. We had to do whatever he said, or he'd torture us, or kill us if we were lucky. He treated his followers worse than his enemies."
Harry frowned, nodding. "But you defected, and that's why you're okay."
"That's why I'm still alive, yes. Okay is a different thing."
Harry looked at his father, who sighed, closing his eyes. "And you, you also defected right?"
Harry smiled before he realised what Lucius had said, his breath stopping for a moment as he scrabbled backwards. "W-what?"
Lucius looked up at Harry, face haggard and full of shame. "I never defected, Harry. I'm sorry. It took Eridanus to realise he was wrong, I was wrong. I bought my way out of Azkaban. I worked for the man who took Lily and James Potter for you. I'm part of the reason as to why you were sent to the Dursleys. Not even your mother could convince me otherwise in the darkest of my days. I'm sorry. You're allowed to hate me. I'd understand."
Harry held his head in his hands, shaking his head rapidly. "But you can't be bad, you're my dad, and you love me, and Draco."
"Bad people can do good things and good people can do bad things. The world isn't black and white, it's shades of grey."
Harry lifted his head, tears shining in his eyes behind his round glasses. "You said you realised it was all wrong though." Lucius nodded, and Harry nodded more aggressively. "You're still good then, it's okay. Regulus realised he was wrong, he's good, you realised so you're good too!"
"There's not really such a thing as good people, Harry."
Harry shook his head harder, his glasses almost flying off. He shoved them back up, standing. "No, you're good. I promise."
Lucius didn't respond, and Narcissa stood, pulling her husband up, looking at the clock. She glanced at Regulus, who was silently watching the exchange between father and son. "You're welcome to take a spare room upstairs any time, you know that, right?"
He stood, the smallest hint of a smile gracing his features. "I'll take you up for tonight."
He made his way up the stairs, and Narcissa looked at Harry, who was shaking slightly, putting her hand on his shoulder. "I think it's time we all head to bed, alright, Harry?"
Harry nodded slightly, and she guided him up the stairs, Lucius close behind her. They tucked him in, and Narcissa sat on his bed, quietly singing to him until he fell asleep, remaining for a few moments to kiss his forehead and blow out the light before joining her husband in bed. For the first time in a decade, she slept through the night on Christmas, only awoken the next day by the sound of breaking glass and Draco and Harry yelling in unison that Sirius had done it.