Chapter 1: All Stories Must Have a Beginning
Narcissa softly stared down upon the newborn baby in her hands, thick emotions getting caught in her throat as she swallowed them down. Her vision was blurry with the unshed tears but no mistake was she happy- so, so happy with her daughter secured in her arms- but she could feel the heaviness of the world surrounding them. There was no ignoring it.
Dread lingering around them like a dark shadow that treaded along the bed, simply waiting for the chance to devour them at the slightest slip. Oh yes, it was there, hovering and licking at her skin in anticipation. It was terrifying.
She had never envisioned it like this.
She had always wanted children. As a child she had fantasied about the day she would become a mother. The fantasy had been dreams that she had acted out as a young child with fake dollies that she would carry on her hip and cradle against her chest. She had longed for them for so long and now, she had them. Her perfect family.
She was complete, her sole goal in life was achieved, but everything was...wrong. The world wasn't right. It was too dark and damning for the pure, for the innocent. Children weren't supposed to be raised in such dangerous times, babies weren't supposed to be born in the middle of a war yet, here she was, cradling her newborn daughter tightly to her chest. This was real now. It was too real.
Tears threatened to spill as she took in her daughter's precious face, flush and pink just as an hour old baby's should. Her daughter didn't deserve to be brought into such a dreary world, not with the threat of defeat on one hand and dealing with the rule of a madman on the other. Even Narcissa had been raised in a better world; a demanding pureblood society was the worst she had to deal with, the loss of her sister and her cousin had been eventful but that had happened later in her life when she had understood the ways of the world. There had been no war when she was a child and yet she would describe her youth as a hardship due to the social pressures of the society she had been born into.
Being a member of the Black family, she had been given everything and anything she wanted...as long as she did as she was told. There would be no difference with her own daughter. Living up to Lucius' expectations would be demanding enough but her daughter would have to deal with an abiding war, with no power to defend herself. Narcissa was far from ignorant and she wouldn't deny the strength that both sides possessed and that there was no clear winner that would be conquering the other any time soon. This war was going to drag on for years. Decades, possibly, and it made her heart clench in agony. How long could hell last in the Wizarding World before it tore everyone apart? How long would it be until it went after her own children and ripped them out of her arms, out of her life forever?
It wasn't supposed to be like this.
Her gaze hardened, darting towards the door before she tightened her arms around her newborn. She wouldn't let it happen. Her children would be fine if she kept them in the Manor. The world could have their war. The magic in the wards was too strong to be penetrated by their enemies and as long as her children remained there, all would be fine. She would be able to protect them even from him.
She quickly swept her piercing eyes around the room to make sure she was truly alone with her daughter before she nuzzled into her baby's cheek, letting her lips linger at the newborn's ear. "I'm sorry, so, so sorry, my love," she whispered. She brought her free hand up to swipe at the tears that were falling from her eyes. For bringing her's into such a dreadful world, it did make her feel sorry for her child, but never would she regret her children's birth.
"My sweet, sweet daughter," she cooed down at her baby, kissing the curled brown hair on top of the newborn's fragile head. "So perfect, so pure. Mama loves you."
Narcissa closed her eyes against her daughter's skin, feeling the overwhelming surge to keep the contact, knowing that their moments alone were limited and Lucius would be entering the room soon along with… She swallowed heavily at the thought and opened her eyes, scanning over her daughter for the umpteeth time. A mother was always the first one to memorize the faces of her children. Looking down at the newborn, Narcissa couldn't help but reminisce back to when her son, Tom, had been born, just three years prior. So alike and yet so different. Where Tom had been silent and observant, her daughter was soft coos and small smiles that would tug at the corner of her lips. A complete balance to one another.
Her family would be perfect; she could see their lives flashing before her eyes, every holiday, every milestone as her children continued to grow.
A warm smile stretched across her face. "You complete our family," she whispered. "We will be happy, I promise. Everything will be fine as long as we are together." She placed another kiss upon the newborn's head just as she heard a soft knocking at the door. Panic was quick to seize her heart but there was nothing she could do as the door was opened, taking less than a second before Lucius walked in, closely followed by their young son.
Her husband looked unsure as he gazed at her and the bundle in her arms but at her nod, beckoning them toward the bed, Lucius picked up Tom and strided forward. In Lucius' grasp, Tom clung to his father's shoulder, never taking his steel eyes off of her or his new sibling. Once Lucius made his way next to the bed, he gently sat both him and Tom on the edge, letting go of their son to let him get closer to her.
Lucius was quick to take their daughter into his own hands. If it were possible, the baby appeared even smaller than she already was- more fragile. Narcissa watched carefully.
When they had first married, Lucius had been adamant on a child to further on the family name. A son was what he always wanted, and it had been a relief when it was revealed their first born was a boy. They didn't have to conceive more because a son was all they - Lucius - had desired, but he hadn't shunned her longing for another. All worry of Lucius' reaction turning sour disappeared as he smiled softly down at their daughter. She was perfect in his eyes- worthy to carry on his name- otherwise he would've… She would've already known had he not been pleased with the newest addition to their family. At the moment he appeared to be the happiest wizard in the entire world, a rarity for her husband, and it made a warmth spread throughout her body.
Her gaze shifted to Tom who was intently watching the interaction between his father and the baby. She reached out and wrapped her arms around Tom's small frame, bringing him closer to the rest of them as she pressed a kiss to his cheek. He blinked up at her but his gaze was quick to train back onto his sister.
"Mine?" Tom leaned forward to loom over the baby in his father's hands.
Lucius nodded his head, briefly switching his attention to their son. "Yes, son. This is your sister," he said with a proud grin. "You're a big brother now. You must protect her, do you understand?"
Narcissa watched Tom nod at his father, too seriously for a boy of his age. "I promise Father. I will protect her from them." She felt her face threaten to crumble at her son's words. She had no doubt he would be a protective brother but it was the fact that he knew the difference between the sides of war that he distinguished with one.
The war had already touched her son. Lucius had already exposed their loyalty to forces she never wanted Tom to see. It was devastating. She fought back the tears when Tom lowered his head to kiss at his sister's lips, a bond already forming between her two children as her daughter's eyes fluttered open. It was as if time stood still while the two siblings locked eyes, Tom's promise silent as he hovered over his sister and smiled down at her.
"I love you sister," he muttered close to the baby's cheek, his pale skin brushing against the newborn's flesh. "Forever and ever, Hermione."
Peace was something that was always taken for granted. You either have it in one moment and in the next, it's gone. It was like a cloud that would wash over them for just a few moments, in the midst of movement and chaos, and there would be a stillness inside. A moment, even in it's briefest stage, was bliss. The world would slow down, there would be no war looming beyond their warded grounds or Death Eaters running throughout their beloved home, everything would just be still. The moments were rare but they were everything she lived for now. It's what pushed her onward in these dreary days as long as her children were wrapped in her arms.
Like now, with Tom and Hermione nestled in her lap as her son marveled at his new baby sister. For the past hour they had been allowed to get lost in time, the world was shut off from their family, as they simply all laid in the bed together. But like all good things, it was quickly put to an end as a hasty knock rang throughout the room.
The door flew open and Narcissa beamed at who she saw. A woman with wild black curls bounded through with a toddler of her own hoisted on her hip. The woman smiled widely at the sight of them all on the bed, before she strided over, huffing away the stray lock that had fallen into her vision. The second Narcissa's sister joined them, the toddler rapidly managed to climb over them and sit himself next to Tom, curiously eyeing the baby in his lap.
"Cygnus," the woman hissed at the wild toddler. "Settle yourself."
But Narcissa patted her sister's worries away. "Nonsense, Bella. Let him see her." She smiled warmly at her nephew. He was practically her second son, Tom's twin as they liked to term since the two cousins were only a couple months apart and nearly always joined at the hip. The two of their children did everything together and she wouldn't want it any other way. "Besides, unless you plan on having anymore children-," Narcissa turned to grin teasingly at her sister, but was cut off by Bella's snort.
"Cissa, you and I both know that Cygnus is more than enough," Bella said with a quick look in her son's direction. "Besides, Rodolphus wanted a son and only one."
Narcissa forced her attention to the cluster of their children, staring unblinkingly as the two boys played with Hermione's small fingers. In all honesty, she had been surprised when Bella had a kid to begin with. Never in all of their years growing up together had her older sister ever expressed the want of children but she would never wouldn't go as far as describing Bella as the motherly type but she had grown...kinder since his arrival, more affectionate than she had been before. It was only when he was in the room, that her sister would transform before her very eyes. She liked to ignore those moments.
"And you?" Bella's question brought her out of her revier. "Is Hermione going to be the last Black grandchild or do you plan on having a horde like some-"
"No," Narcissa interrupted her sister with a humorous smile. "Hermione's my last. Having more wouldn't...it wouldn't do anything for our family. We're complete now, Bella. This is it."
Bella hummed. "Good," she stared down at the children. "You can't serve the Dark Lord while being pregnant."
And just like that, the bliss was gone. It was there one moment and gone the next.
"Bella…" she began but the words died in her throat as she became aware of the pair of eyes watching her. Both of the boys had turned towards her, as had Lucius and she tried her hardest to not bristle underneath their keen eyes; always looking, always expecting.
Her sister cleared her throat and gestured towards Hermione with a jerk of her chin. "Well, she looks just like Tom did. Could be twins if there was no age gap...and the eyes, of course are different. It's hilarious that neither of them inherited the blonde but I must admit I am quite fond of the brown. A nice mix between you and Lucius'," Bella softly twisted the fine hairs upon Hermione's head around her fingers. "Makes me think that the Black genes aren't strong, Cissa, since Cygnus only inherited his hair color from me. Perhaps we'll find out if Regulus ever has a child. He has to carry on the family name before that blood traitor taints our lineage anymore than our-"
"Who knows what the future holds," Narcissa quickly said. "Anything can happen at this rate."
"Of course, of course," Bella waved her off, her dark eyes skimming frantically over the three children in anticipation. "Cissa, the Dark Lord wants to meet her. He's here, in the sitting room with Severus. We mustn't keep him waiting."
Narcissa could feel the icy tendril seep down her spine at the mention of their Lord. She had been expecting it but nothing would ever prepare her for getting used to the man's presence, no matter how many times he would be in the same vicinity as her. She had known he would come and see the newest arrival, he had done the same when Cygnus and Tom had been born. It wasn't as if they - she - could say no. He would blast the door down if she ever had the gall to refuse him and what was worse was that her sister and husband would probably allow their beloved Lord to kill her on the spot. The two of them were in the top of Voldemort's ranks and they didn't get there by standing against him. It was unsettling to think of such things but that was the cruel reality of the world she was living in, the world she had brought her children into.
She forced her turn of thoughts away and grinned uneasily towards her sister, shuddering away the stiffness that found its way around her shoulders. "Bring him in," she gave a slow nod. Bella's attention darted towards Lucius and wordlessly exchanged a conversation before the blonde patriarch turned and walked through the door.
With Lucius gone, she turned her worrisome eyes down onto her slumbering daughter, softly positioned in her brother's arms. Tom was right by her side with Cygnus in front of him and the three of them appeared to not have a single care in the world. They were simply basking in Hermione's arrival and it was almost enough to melt even her own worries away. But, unlike the children, she knew what was out there and knew what powers threatened their family. There would be no carefree spirits coming from her. She had to stay strong and alert for her them. It was all that mattered to her.
"Everything will be so different now," Bella's voice lulled out. "A little girl like her growing up in our family, I mean. She'll be so different from the boys."
Narcissa nodded her head. "It won't be that bad," she admitted. "There were three of us girls growing up in one house and we turned out fine. Surely one daughter won't be too troublesome."
She could pinpoint the exact moment that her sister turned sour but Bella did nothing but pinch her lips in agitation. The older witch knew better than to hinder her mood on the day of her daughter's birth. She hadn't meant to cause her sister any wrong but there were times that she would simply forget that there were certain aspects of their lives that they were meant to forget and ignore, as if certain people had never existed. It was hard...but she didn't have a choice in the matter. She didn't have the chance to dwell on that either as she heard several footsteps approach the door.
Lucius entered first, with two other men, both clad in black, that everyone knew and recognized instantly. One was practically crackling in dark energy and the other wasn't too far behind, he was just better at controlling his magic instead of letting it tower over every individual in the room like the dominance that it was. Her arms ached to bring her children closer to her but the movement would instantly set the Dark Lord on edge, along with everyone in the room. She was supposed to be loyal to him, willing to present her children to the man in the blink of an eye, not shield them away.
Her fingers twitched against the fabric of the blanket that had been wrapped around Hermione as Lucius swept their daughter out of Tom's hands, her eyes lingering on the newborn as her husband began to hand the bundle to Voldemort.
"My Lord," Lucius bent his head, "we would like for you to meet our daughter, Hermione."
Narcissa bit into her lip as Voldemort's pale hands wrapped around Hermione, bringing the baby close to his chest. His dark eyes were skimming over her daughter's features and Narcissa felt her stomach churn in repulsion, wanting nothing more than to rip her daughter away from the twisted man's grasp. The things that man had done...the lives he had ruined, it was horrifying yet the same man's hands were wrapped around her daughter.
"Congratulations," Voldemort's strong voice rang out. He leaned his head down and pushed his lips down onto Hermione's forehead, eyes closing at the contact. "She's perfect." Narcissa's piercing stare was trained directly on the lips against her daughter, the lips that were lingering for far too long for her comfort. She had to do something. She had to-
"Severus," her attention locked onto the other man in the room, a beloved friend she had the pleasure of saying for the past several years. He had been watching the interaction between Hermione and Voldemort with an emotionless face but she was used to that expression, knowing that he never let his true feelings show through. It's what she admired so much about him; his ability to stay strong and forthcoming yet understanding and at times, gentle, when it came to the children.
At his name being called, he turned to look at her expectantly. "We wanted to ask you if we could have the of making you Hermione's Godfather." She nearly flinched when she saw Voldemort's eyes snap open and stare down at her daughter. Through the corner of his dark gaze, the Dark Lord glanced at one of his most prized Death Eaters. Narcissa could only hold her breath as she kept her focus on Severus, waiting for him to react. Anything. Even the slightest, most briefest curve of his mouth was all she needed. To her, it felt like ages until Severus' dark brows raised slightly. He was surprised though, that much she could tell and she knew that Severus had thought that the role would have been given to Voldemort just as it had been with Tom and Cygnus. There had been no hesitation on Lucius' part when she had gotten pregnant with Tom but this time Narcissa had made sure her husband knew that it would be different this time. Voldemort wouldn't be the Godfather to both of her children. She simply wouldn't stand for it and didn't care how their Lord would react. Severus deserved to be her daughter's Godfather and she wanted no one else to fulfil the position but him.
She smiled up at him when she recognized his gratitude almost having stunned him into silence. "The honor is all mine," he sternly nodded his head, a bright gleam present in his black eyes that she had never seen before. When his gaze turned back towards Hermione, he didn't bother to hide the softness in his eyes as they took in the newborn. The image warmed her to the core.
"Congratulations, Severus." Voldemort's cold voice shattered the moment, slicing and tearing into the air like a vice. "You're a fortunate man," he remarked before turning his torso to gently hand Hermione to the Death Eater. It was an instant relief when Narcissa watched Hermione nestle into her Godfather's arms. There was an awestruck look on her friend's face as he ghosted his fingers across Hermione's features and to her surprise, her daughter had silently woken up. She straightened up ready to take Hermione from Severus before she started to fuss but she was quickly stilled as she watched a smile slowly creep onto Severus' face. Hermione had managed to wrap her small hand around Severus' index finger and was gazing up at him, not a single cry leaving her mouth. The encounter between the two was beautiful as she had never seen Severus so at ease as he was at that very moment. Tears pricked at the back of her eyes and threatened to spill over.
However, instead of everyone's attention on Severus and Hermione, Lucius and Bella were eagerly watching Voldemort, and to her disdain, so were the two boys. Tom and Cygnus had always had an intense admiration of Lord Voldemort and really, it had been unavoidable. Lucius and Bella were nearly always with the man and Rodolphus was never that far behind which left Cygnus in extremely close proximity to the madman and wherever Cygnus was, Tom wouldn't be too far away. And what was worse, was that the Dark Lord always wanted his Godsons near. Even now, Voldemort was grinning at the two of them like they were his own, and in a way, the boys were. Voldemort controlled a vast majority of what the two of them came into contact with, in both the forms of people and...the activities of the Death Eaters. Lucius always assured her that neither of the boys ever witnessed anything too graphic, but it was rare for Narcissa to ever believe a word that came from her husband. He was blinded by the madman they followed and the twisted words that he spewed. All of them were.
Voldemort reached down and grasped both Tom and Cygnus by the shoulder. "It'll be quite the journey training the three of them," he said. From her place in the bed, Narcissa's heart halted in her chest, palms starting to sweat. "But I wouldn't want it any other way. These three will lead the newest generation and to do so, they have to be trained. These next years to come will be the most important for our cause - to prepare a better world for these children, the next wizards and witches to make an importance. They'll be powerful and ruthless and no one will be able to harm them." Her eyes widened and darted to Tom and Cygnus, balking as they grinned up at their Godfather collectively. They were simply too young and naive to the nightmare Voldemort was and she had no power to show them the truth nor was she sure that she wanted to. The boys loved him, as much as it pained her to admit, and if they were happy in his presence, what was she to do? Especially with her husband and sister beaming in pride at them. This is what they had wanted all along, more leverage into the Dark Lord's favor and had the audacity to go as far as presenting their own children to him.
The world was a dark, damning place that ripped people's sanity apart and replaced it with festering copies of what they used to be.
"These children," the Dark Lord continued, "are the ones that will lead us into victory. The three of them will stand by my side when we rule them all."
She watched as Lucius nodded his head in anticipation, a determined glint in his silver eyes but she felt no such thing. She felt nothing but remorse, thinking that her children were being robbed of their lives before it had even began. And in that briefest span of seconds, Narcissa knew. She knew that just like everything else that came into Voldemort's path, the life as she knew it was tethering on fine strings until the torment of his war tore them apart.
Merlin would be the only one to save them now.
October 30, 1981
Time was of the essence when a war was in place. Months could determine which side was increasing in numbers as supporters flocked in from all across the wizarding world; weeks could determine which side was losing; days could tell you which friends and family members had been taken away; and hours - the worst form of time - could mean a person being there one moment and gone the next.
That's what time could do. He was an undeniable, powerful bastard that even the Dark Lord couldn't overtake. For now at least…
It felt that this new life had dragged on for ages now, yet, in reality, only a mere year had dragged by. It had been hard and tough but it didn't take from success as their message continued to be heard by the thousands. The sheer force of the Dark Lord's followers was something the Wizarding World had never seen before. They were feared, respected, and even admired by the magical society in ways that were unbelievable by some, mainly those that were solely loyal to the Light. But as they continued to rise in their power, so did the number of people who opposed of their ideals.
Battles were no stranger to the Wizarding World anymore. Deaths had become more common than births just as it was to see another wizard strike a curse at another instead of shake their hand. The fighting between the dark and light had gotten so out of hand and so dominant that it had finally been acknowledged by the Ministry as a crisis that had taken over England. Many would argue that it was considered a global event but none of the other Ministries had taken action as of yet. However, there was no denying that the war was beginning to take a toll on population numbers.
The Death Eaters killed anyone that opposed them, it was common knowledge at this point. It was a stressful time that kept building up on everyone; keeping those on edge and hesitant of talking to those that they may have known in a time not that long ago. It was hard to walk out of your front door and not know if you would be home for dinner.
For Lucius, it was the opposite. Being Voldemort's right hand and being one of the top ranked Death Eaters did have it's benefits, after all. Many considered the circumstances unfair, which he did have to consider had a plentiful deal of truth, but he didn't give a damn on how others felt. He had a job to do, a job that the Dark Lord had given him specifically.
Don't get caught.
It was a simple task, more simpler than any of the others had been given but at the same time, it was the hardest. At times it could be so damn hard to keep silent on his views when in the public eye because he had a high influence on the Ministry of Magic, not to mention the overwhelming wealth of his vaults, that needed to be maintained in order to serve its purpose to the Dark Lord. It certainly wouldn't bode well for him to start spewing his blood purity supremacy when the Ministry made it clear they were so accepting of those of lesser status'. He had to stay in charge, the people needed to know he was on a mutual standpoint or else they would turn on him faster than a tick infestation in Azkaban.
On most days he was ordered to stay tucked away in the Manor as Death Eaters popped in and out after their missions to give him their reports on raids and minor battles that took place. Voldemort didn't waste his time with useless tasks such as that. That wasn't to say, however, that he didn't participate in the tortures and killings of anyone that threatened their cause because he most certainly did and by the tenfold. He had long lost count of the number of individuals that had died by his wand alone; how many magical and muggle people had faced his curses before he cut their lives short. He would listen with deaf ears when those same people would beg for their life - with their hands stretched out towards him, faces full of misery and horror, bleeding and broken right before his very eyes. They would look at him with such pleading, crawling on their knees to ask him for mercy but they just didn't understand. They didn't get it.
Their lives were worthless to him. They meant less to him than the mud that would coat his dragon hide boots during those wet raids. They were nothing, less than that if there another word. And the more he did it, the more he thrived in knowing that he was doing the Wizarding World a favor - ridding their precious world of the scum that infested their society, the filth that littered Hogwart's halls. Each one he and the others ended, was another mudblood less than before.
He did it for his family; his wife and his most prized possessions. His children. The very beings that he had brought into this world. Tom and Hermione were the very reason he woke up in the mornings and continued to do what he did and so meticulously close to Voldemort's orders of not getting caught. How was he supposed to protect his family if he were locked away in a piss hole? The answer was simple - he wouldn't. So, every time he was called for a raid, his signature hair was hidden from sight and his face was blocked by his metal mask. He wouldn't be fickle enough to get caught but if the months kept passing as they did know, he wouldn't have to hide for much longer. Soon, he would be able to show his face proudly and not hesitate to partake in a public execution.
He could hardly wait.
It had started out as a mere whisper; a prophecy that had somehow spread quickly across the Wizarding World and took society by storm. Followers of the Light saw hope for the first time in a very long time but the rest of them...they saw the threat for what it was. An end to everything they had worked so hard for and the ideals they praised so strongly.
And if there was anything the Dark Lord hated most, it was a threat against his power. Therefore, when wind caught up to Voldemort, hell was unleashed.
When Lucius himself heard of the prophecy, he had nearly laughed at its absurdity. A mere baby was what would bring their powerful Lord crumbling apart? Not a chance, he had thought at the time but when Voldemort had made it their topmost priority, none of the Death Eaters took the matter light anymore. They all feared the possibility of being Lordless, knowing that if he fell then it wouldn't be long until they were hauled away like animals and locked into chains and shoved into Azkaban. That is, if they were lucky.
...born as the seventh month dies…
That was the key that Voldemort latched onto. With the Ministry heavily corrupted, it had been almost too easy to get ahold of the magical birth records. It had first come down to a handful of children but Voldemort focused his prime attention on two - a halfblood named Harry Potter and a pureblood by the name of Neville Longbottom. Both were the offspring of known Order members, which had been another clue from the prophecy.
...born to those who have thrice defied him…
With Voldemort's attention and wrath focused on such small families, Lucius knew the two infants didn't stand a chance. He wouldn't put it past his beloved Lord to take both of them out in the process, just to ensure the possibility of it being either one of them that would lead to his demise. Their Lord wasn't a stupid man, after all.
It had been nearly dead into the night when Lucius felt his forearm burn in haste. The Dark Lord had gathered up his most loyal Death Eaters, which wasn't a rarity when the matter at hand was of importance. Joining him at the large table was Severus, Bella, Nott, Goyle, Crabbe, the Lestrange brothers, and Karkaroff, while Voldemort sat proudly at the head - a pleased grin on his face that had the rest of them beaming in anticipation.
They had sat there for what felt like hours as the Dark Lord discussed his plan that would take effect immediately the following night. He had grown tired of waiting and wanted to end the preposterous hope that had the Light radiating, glowing in the possibility of his end. He wanted to ruin them once and for all and they all knew that this was the way to do it. This would be what destroyed them.
"My Lord-" Bella leaned forward in her chair, bowing her head as Voldemort's stare snapped to her. "- How will you find them? We have been searching for the Potter's for weeks and yet haven't came across anything. The Fidelius Charm is nearly impossible to trace and there's no doubt that Dumbledore would be the Secret Keeper himself."
All eyes turned back towards Voldemort as he nodded his head, an eery glint that they all recognized gleaming in his dark eyes. He tilted his head back as he snapped his fingers, the sound echoing across the room before a loud pop of apparition followed.
Lucius eyed the house elf with brief, mild disgust before taking immediate interest in the figure slouched over with a dark cloth placed over his head and visible cuts bleeding through his clothing. His hands were magically bound behind his back but even through the invisible bindings, a deep red crimson was dripping from his wounds. It was obvious the man had been tortured for some time and it could only mean that it was someone that Voldemort found interesting. Days of torture meant their Lord wanted to break them, slowly and methodically until they were drowning in their own blood and sweat.
With a flourish, Voldemort flicked his wand toward the man and together his followers sat up straight, eyes wide as he revealed the identity of the prisoner.
Peter Pettigrew was hardly recognizable but they all knew who he was, a member of Dumbledore's supporters, one of the golden Order members. When the Dark Lord stood and began to circle around the broken man, they too stood and watched as Voldemort's wand trained on the man on the floor.
"My friends," the word sounded twisted on his tongue, "I bring before you all the very man who is the Secret Keeper of the Potters. You may all find this amusing, but this man has revealed their location to me without a single curse from my wand. He offered to me what he knew we wanted, begging for his life to be spared. As he said, he would like to join us."
Bella, once again, stepped forward, head bowed low as she addressed Voldemort. "But my Lord, what of Sirius? He was the one we believed to be the Secret Keeper, he's Potter's best friend. Surely, this is a rouse - a trap they've set up for us to take."
"I've already taken that into consideration," Voldemort responded, his eyes set and determined on Pettigrew. "But this coward before us is telling the truth. I've had him reporting to us for weeks now and every piece of information he's given has been beneficial in our raids. The location of the Potters was the very first thing he gave us; betraying his friends in the blink of an eye," their Lord taunted the man as he cowered before them.
"Tomorrow night, I will kill the Potter boy," Voldemort turned away from Pettigrew and looked at each of them. "Once he's dead, the remaining Order will go next. They're already falling apart believing they have a spy in their ranks. They're turning on each other just as fast as we are gaining new supporters," he grinned. "But...we will save Dumbledore for last. I want to see him defeated before I kill him, the look of anguish on his face frozen for his afterlife. I want him to know that I've finally won."
One by one the Death Eaters apparated from the Manor until all that was left was Bella, Severus, and him. The Dark Lord was before them, and nodded his head, a sickening smile on his face. "Tomorrow will be the day we have all waited for. Our plans for the Wizarding World will be put into full force until it is cleansed of the filth that has infested our sacred society."
Lucius turned his head when he caught sight of Pettigrew in the corner, the rest of the individuals doing the same. It was Voldemort who approached the man, a look mixed with disgust and eagerness as he looked down. "We will need to deal with Mr. Pettigrew. He needs to be taught loyalty if he wants to be considered for our ranks."
"What would you like for us to do, my Lord?" Lucius said, meeting Voldemort's gaze with ease. It was silent as the Dark Lord contemplated what to do, his dark eyes set on Pettigrew the way a predator watches its prey until he nodded his head, slowly but surely.
Voldemort turned towards him and Bella, and grinned. "Tomorrow morning I want Tom and Cygnus to meet with me in the drawing room. They're still young but they need to witness what we do to those who are not loyal. They need to see firsthand what it takes to show who has the power and who was destined to be ruled."
He peered back down towards Pettigrew who was shaking in fear on the ground, trembling from head to toe. "I'm confident that you will admire my godsons. They both have quite the potential; young and determined, knowing what they want in life while having everything and everyone they will possibly ever need. Children are beautiful things, aren't they?" He sneered, nastily that made Pettigrew shrink even more if it were possible.
"Of course, I only mean those that are born of the right lineage, and to those on the right side. The offsprings of those such as the Potters for example," he tsked, "deserve to be put out of their misery, wouldn't you agree?"
Pettigrew stayed motionless, his eyes darting every which way except on Lord Voldemort.
"Well," Voldemort smiled, cruel and heartless, "considering you betrayed them, I believe you do."
Night of October 31, 1980
It was dark both inside and outside of the Granger Manor, the only source of fluorescence was the lightning that would brighten up the sky every few seconds. All day it had been raining. Not a light sprinkle, or clouds of drizzle, no. It was as if the floodgates of the skies above had been opened and it's main goal was to drown every living creature in the world. To her, however, it felt as if the sky was in mourning. As if it too sensed the malevolent change that was taking place.
Midnight had come and gone hours before yet here they were, still awake and waiting. Waiting, waiting, waiting. It had been hours now, as she sat in her chair and watched as Lucius paced back and forth, over and over, in front of the fireplace as his mind raced. He had been unable to sit still once the deadline had passed and now it was an excruciating game of waiting.
Both of their children were fast asleep upstairs and had been for quite some time. Tom had gone to bed earlier than usual, being both physically and mentally exhausted from his altercation with his Godfather and Pettigrew. He had transformed before her very eyes when she first spotted him come out of the drawing room; stoic and silent, almost as if he had aged an entire decade in the span of those short hours. Cygnus, on the other hand, had been unable to stay quiet as he jumped up and down in excitement, too caught up in the adrenalin that was coursing through his small veins. Her nephew had always been the untamable one, much like her sister. She hadn't been able to say anything, only watching as Lucius presented Tom with a Granger signet. Tears had pricked her eyes when Tom smoothed the band onto his finger with a proud grin, wholly matching that of his father.
Her son had grown up. Barely a toddler, yet he had done those terrible things… things she should have been able to protect him from.
"The Dark Lord should be here by now," Lucius snapped, fierce silver eyes locking on her. "If there was trouble he would have summoned us. How hard would it be to dispose of a child the same age as Hermione?"
Narcissa tried her hardest to not balk underneath his scrutiny. The thought of such a cruelty performed on an innocent child, let alone the same age as her very own, was doing very damning things to her morality.
"Maybe he changed his plan," she began softly. "Maybe the prophecy wasn't valid and there was no threat to his cause -"
"Our cause," he corrected her with a sneer, eyes flashing in warning. "Or maybe the Dark Lord already succeeded and his power was drained. It would explain why his apparition is delayed or why he hasn't given us any signal through our marks," he looked down to his exposed forearm. He had unbuttoned his sleeves long ago, revealing the dark contrast against his pale skin. It made her want to vomit at the sight of it.
She inhaled shakily as she found her next words, knowing that her husband wouldn't find it beneficial in the slightest. "Love …" she gazed at him apprehensively, "What if… What if the Dark Lord fails?"
Her husband spun around rapidly, his pale blonde hair billowing behind him. "Don't you dare say such -"
She stood up from her chair. "Stop!" she yelled. "Don't pretend that the option of failure wasn't a possibility that could unfold."
"The Dark Lord can kill a child," he venomously spat in her direction. "The Dark Lord can kill it's blood traitor father and it's mudblood mother with ease."
"Then why isn't he here!" she sobbed. "What could have possibly drained him of his power like you said? A child, Lucius?! If he's failed-"
"He hasn't failed!"
Tears were beginning to fall from her eyes. "What will happen to us?" she begged him to answer. "Will we be taken to Azkaban? What about our children, will they be taken from us? Given to another wizarding family or thrown into the muggle world like garbage!? Who will take care of them!? They're going to take Hermione and Tom away from us, Lucius!"
Her husband gripped her wrists and she knew he could feel her shaking. He was furious and she wanted nothing more than to be upstairs with her children, protecting them as much as she could. Something was wrong, she knew it.
"No one is going to take our children from us. No one," he barked. He released her just as fast as he had grabbed her, and took large breaths to force himself to calm down. He had turned away from her and marched up to the fireplace, staring into its wild flames.
"If he was to fail, the authorities would have no reason to come after us," he started, slowly. "I have never been traced to him. Even if suspicions were to arise, I could bribe the Ministry. Or even claim that we were under the Imperius if need be."
She closed her eyes in relief. Her husband had never been a stupid man, then again he had made the decision to follow after the madman like a depraved animal, and not the powerful, pureblood wizard that he was. Then again, it was because of that that he had offered his services to Voldemort in the first place.
But just as she began to ease in his reassurance, another face came into mind. She shook her head knowing that the answer to her second worry wouldn't be a good one. "My sister, Lucius. What will happen to her?"
Lucius eyed her briefly. "They've been spotted numerous times. Her and Rodolphus, along with Rabastan. Neither of the three are shy to vocalize their allegiance."
There was no doubt in her mind that if Voldemort were to fail, her sister would be hauled away without the possibility of a trial. She cursed her sister's insolence.
"We will keep Cygnus," she remarked. There was no question in her voice. It wasn't a request. "If it were to come to that."
Her husband nodded his head. He knew better than to think otherwise.
She wanted to smile at him, to show her appreciation of his words but she couldn't find the will to. She held so much anger towards him these days, for bringing them into this world. She had thought she got out of the Dark's control when she escaped her parent's house, little knowing that it would follow after her like the plague that it was. It wanted to consume her whole, or at least that's what it felt like.
She sank back into the chair as Lucius walked over towards the cabinet that held his sacred firewhiskey. She let her thoughts escape her as she listened to the clinking of the tumbler glass connect with the bottle of whiskey. Her husband rarely drank apart from social gatherings with acquaintances but it wasn't odd to see him grab a glass when he was alone either. His nerves must finally getting to him, she mused.
She turned to peer out the large windows just as another lightning strike lit up the room. It appeared that the storm was getting even stronger as the wind and rain thrashed against the windows. She wondered if either of her children would awaken because of it, hoping that nothing would disrupt their sleep. Tom was always terribly cranky when he was rudely awaken; never the morning person, that one was. A fond smile graced her lips as a particular memory evaded her mind but it was short lived as she heard her husband, any pleasant thought washing away just like the rain on their windows.
Lucius had inhaled sharply, the crystallized glass in his hand slipping as he moved to clutch at his left forearm. His eyes went wide and she paled as his frantic gaze found hers.
It came out as a whisper but Narcissa heard him as if he had yelled.
Outside, it continued to pour.
Everything blurred before her eyes, seemingly stuck in a time of fast forward yet dreadfully slow as individuals and objects morphed into each other. This couldn't be real, she had to be caught in some cruel nightmare, standing motionless as Lucius seemed to disappear from her sight more times than not. He was yelling into the fireplace, so loudly that the words were pounding against her skull yet she couldn't comprehend what she was hearing. Her heart was racing so fast that she feared it would burst in her chest. She could feel her sanity falling apart, piece by piece, as her worries started to jump to the surface.
She raised a hand to place it on her chest, eyes going wide when Lucius turned on her. She could see the vein in his neck beating as rapidly as her heart and took a step back, inching to the double doors as the seconds ticked by. She didn't want to be there when all hell broke loose. She had seen firsthand the damage Lucius could do when he was angry and at that moment, she knew she had never seen him as furious as he was now.
Narcissa silently kept inching backwards, slowly - so slowly - as the magic surrounding her husband flared wildly. She could hear its dangerous hiss as it drank in her worries; her fear. Her steps began to get quicker. She needed to be ready to leave, ready to flee when Lucius would finally lose it.
Narcissa watched every move her husband took with hawk-like eyes and when he advanced, her hands were already placed against the thick wood of the doors ready to run as fast as she could away from him and to her children. However, just as his eyes narrowed at her actions, several distinct pops shot through the air. Her eyes closed in relief as she registered the change in the wards. The other Death Eaters had finally joined them. They would keep her husband occupied...for now, at least. It was in the blink of an eye that Lucius turned away from her and towards the Death Eaters that had started to gather around, each of them sharing a hard, frantic and angry gaze.
Her hand tightened around the handle. She didn't belong here...she didn't want to be here. She wanted-
Bellatrix rushed up, startling her as she pulled at her arm. Her sister's black eyes shone dangerously in the light.
"Cissa-" Bella's voice broke her thoughts like a whip against flesh. "Cissa, listen to me. Go get Cygnus. He knows what to do, he's waiting for you. The house elves are transferring our heirlooms into the vaults before the Ministry has the chance to raid the Manor. I need to be with the others, we...we need to find out what happened."
She blinked at her older sister. There was nothing more they could do, didn't she realize that? The mission was over, they were over. The Dark Lord had lost. What more could they possibly have to do? They needed to protect themselves now, her sister included.
But when Bella turned away from her, it appeared that her sister didn't have the same intuition. Her hand shot out and clamped around her sister's wrist before she could understand what it was she was doing. It was an act of desperation, she knew, but when Bella's impatient eyes flickered towards her, she faltered. What was she to say? There wasn't a thing she could say that would change her sister's mind. She just had to accept it.
As another second ticked by, she released her sister with a shaky breath. It was all she could do before Bella strided towards the Death Eaters yelling amongst one another.
Narcissa spotted the lost cause for what it was and she disapparated without a moment of hesitation.
The Lestrange Manor never failed to unsettle her. It was buried deep in the forest, away from life itself, it seemed, and the sun never made its presence known as it was hidden behind the hundreds of thousands of leaves that blocked its rays. If one wasn't looking carefully, they would miss it as the giant manor had a sinister way of disappearing into the shadows. It was quiet there too, with no one to hear the screams for miles on end. Although, Narcissa had always figured that that's how the Lestrange's liked it, dating even centuries back. It was one of the main things that had drawn her sister in; it's dark claws sinking deep in Bella and not once releasing its grip.
However, when she arrived in the foyer, the house was very much alive. Every light in the house was on and there were several house elves scurrying past her with multiple objects balanced in their hands. Some of the creatures had objects levitating in the air due to the dark magic that had long possessed the items. She bypassed them almost immediately and took to the stairs, trampling up them as fast as her heels could take her.
When she made it to Cygnus' bedroom chamber, she found two more house elves standing guard near his door. Their loyalty had never ceased to amaze her but given the time, she glided through without a look in their direction. Narcissa found her nephew darting across his room as he collected numerous objects, however, when he heard her enter, he rushed up to her and wrapped his small arms around her. She accepted his embrace instantly, kissing the top of his head as she felt the trembles wrack his body. He was terrified and he had every reason to be.
"Mother said I'm going to stay with you now," he whispered, his voice thick with emotion. "Father wouldn't tell me what happened, they left and didn't-"
She hushed him as he began to get worked up. "You will be alright," she promised him. "As long as you stay safe, that's what matters."
He looked up at her with wide, dark blue eyes. "But Mother and Father?" he asked, the worry heavy in his gaze. It was enough to kill the words of comfort that were starting to escape her throat. She wasn't going to lie to him. She wouldn't dare.
"I don't know," she admitted.
A noise of breaking glass from the hall made the both of them jump. And it was then that she realized she was taking too long. The Aurors could be there at any moment and she and Cygnus would be stuck in the crossfire as the house elves obeyed their orders to protect the house. She needed to get the both of them out and as fast as possible.
She released her nephew and nodded towards his suitcases filled with his belongings. "We need to go," she urged him. "Is this everything?" One look around his chambers said that it was. The double doors that led to his closet was wide open and all of the shelves and racks on the inside had been swiped clean. The display cases where his jewelry and cuffs had once been were now empty, the drawers of his dressers were all pulled out and she could see the bottom of each of them. Everything he owned was gone, packed away and likely to never enter his room again. She had to blink away the tears that threatened to spill.
Wordlessly, she reached down with one hand and grabbed his suitcase while the other gripped onto his hand. No matter what, he would be safe. That, she promised.
The wards welcomed the two of them easily, allowing them to slip in as if they were a simple breeze in the night and it took only a mere second until their feet were firmly planted on the marbled ground of the second floor. It was the wing that contained Tom and Hermione's bedrooms, and now, Cygnus'. In the beginning, Lucius had insisted that the two of their children be given separate wings of the house, but she had wanted them to stay close. He had agreed in the long run but only until they reached an appropriate age. For now, it would be perfect as they grew up together.
She was back into motion as she stepped forward, Cygnus' hand still clutched in her own. "Dobby!" she whispered, determined not to wake her slumbering children. The house elf that Tom and Hermione had direct ownership of, appeared out of thin air before her and she was quick to haphazardly hand the creature Cygnus' trunk for him to properly put into a bedroom of his own. She didn't linger long, however, as she pulled Cygnus along towards Tom's room. Narcissa wanted to let the children sleep until morning; neither of the boys didn't need to know what was happening. They didn't need to worry. The problems should be left to the Death Eaters and the other adults involved, not children.
But as soon as she opened Tom's door, she stopped in her tracks at the sight before her. Tom was awake, wide awake, and nestled in his lap was his slumbering sister. Hermione was cradled tightly against his chest with a blanket draped across both of their figures.
Slowly, almost hesitantly, Narcissa led herself and Cygnus into the room. "Tom...why aren't you in bed?"
Her son didn't look back, just kept his unblinking gaze fixed on something outside the large paned window that he was sitting in front of. "I couldn't sleep," he answered, simply and emotionless. "Something's happened, I know it. I can feel it."
She swallowed thickly, letting go of Cygnus as she approached her son. "Why did you get your sister out of her room? She needs to sleep-"
"But she is asleep," Tom's gaze snapped to her, leaving just as fast to look down at Hermione. Narcissa watched as his brows furrowed slightly before tightening his grip, bringing her even closer. He didn't take his molten gaze off of Hermione but he turned his head slightly to address her. "I felt the wards change. They've been changing for the past hour," he muttered enough for her to hear. "I ordered Dobby to bring her to me. I can't protect her if she's in another room."
She nodded her head in understanding, making her way to stand in front of him. Cygnus had moved to stand beside the chair, next to his cousins and the two boys looked to her, waiting. They always had been too smart for their own good.
Her mouth felt dry, the words in her mouth too heavy in more ways than one. "We'll talk about it in the morning," she offered, watching as Tom and Cygnus darted a look in each other's direction. "Right now, I just want us to all be together, okay? We're going to lay down in here and wait until the morning. Am I clear? We will all be fine as long as we're together."
Chaos had erupted amongst the Death Eaters. Reasoning had gotten old for the past two hours and all it left was them biting each other's heads off as each fought to have their voices heard. They wanted action, wanted revenge for their fallen Lord and some wanted to cause as much damage as possible to their enemies. He had tried to get the majority of them under control, but it was a useless action. Too many of them were furious and scared and too many of them didn't know what to do with themselves.
They were lost without order.
It was Bella that kept igniting the fire within the group. After every few minutes, Lucius could see her fingers twitch around her wand in anticipation. He could see the bloodlust in her unhinged eyes, could see the way her eyes darted towards the doors and windows as if plotting her escape. She knew no one would stop her, yet she stayed, trying with little success to enrage the remaining Death Eater into action. She knew better than to try him.
Almost immediately after the signal had been sent, many of the Death Eaters in the top ranks apparated directly into the Manor. However, with slight unease, Lucius noted that every was accounted for except Severus. In times like this and every other meeting with the Dark Lord, he always stood next to the man. So it was very natural to spot his absence, not that Lucius found any comfort to him. But there were more important matters at hand that needed his attention, matters that were quickly escalating beyond proportions.
"I refuse to stand in this house while our Lord is alone, defeated and needing our assistance," Bellatrix stalked beyond the perimeters of the circle the Death Eaters had created. Her wild hair seemed to crackle as her magic flared dangerously, curls spilling into her face with every word she spoke. "We must stick to the plan," she insisted, with wide, obsessive eyes. "The Potter house will be swarmed with the remaining Order. That leaves our other targets open and unguarded. They'll think we're finished, abandoning our cause at the fall of our Lord! We must avenge him," her hiss filled the room with cause, strong and commanding that several of the Death Eaters were nodding their heads feverently in agreement.
Rodolphus moved to stand beside his wife, the same dark gleam in his eyes as Rabastan joined him. "The Longbottoms were our second option," he voiced. "They won't see us coming if we act now."
Apart from Barty Crouch Jr. eagerly joining their team, no one moved. Lucius could feel Bella's burning glare singeing into his face but he pointedly avoided her gaze. There too many risks in their hasty actions, too many possibilities of failure that he didn't hesitate to decline the offer. He had a family to protect, a life to live and he couldn't do that rotting away in Azkaban.
He heard Bella scoff in disbelief when several of the others made no move to join.
Several long, deathly silent seconds passed until Bella and the other three men disapparated with a sickening crack.
It left the others sulking in their own despair and anger.
"We all know the Dark Lord has fallen," Lucius treaded carefully as he addressed the remaining men. "We all felt the connection in our marks sever. I'm not going to pretend that any plan of action is the right one as of now, but I believe we should all return to our homes and wait. We cannot all be hauled into Azkaban. Who would remain and serve the Dark Lord if he were to return?"
His words seemed to be the type of reassurance that many of them needed as they nodded their heads in acceptance, disappearing one by one until they were all gone and leaving him no choice but to embrace the quiet. He could feel his jaw ticking as he stared at the empty room, a word that he had said echoing through his skull.
If he were to return...
It was a sentence he never thought he'd have to say and now, the brutality of it all, was that he pleaded himself to be wrong. The Dark Lord had to come back. The Wizarding World strayed further from the right path by the minute. The Dark Lord had been focused on fixing it all. They had finally been getting close.
The Dark Lord had been there one moment and gone the next.
Ending Note: Update will be once a week with the new chapters. Incredibly sorry that I have deleted all of the old chapters but they will be up soon! It was easier to edit that way.