"You shouldn't be out of bed. You should be resting."
Narcissa remained where she was beside the window, refusing to look at him for fear of seeing disgust or disappointment in his pale gray eyes. Perhaps if she ignored him, he'd leave her alone so she could grieve in privacy.
Her pale cheeks were gaunt and covered with the stains of her tears, her complexion even more pale than normal due to the amount of blood she had lost during the morning and her despair and heartbreak was evident to anyone who looked into her light blue eyes.
That was the primary reason she stubbornly kept her back to him. She was unable to conceal her emotions at the moment, unable to pretend that she was unaffected by the events of the day, unable to play her expected part of cool and aloof perfect Pureblood wife.
i Emotions are weakness, girl. A Black never displays such frivolous behavior. Tears are for those who are feeble minded and easy controlled. /i
Her Father's voice echoed in her mind, sharp and forceful. She recalled the occasion when she had first heard those words, remembered the scolding and being sent to her room during her sixth birthday party because she'd cried when Bellatrix had pushed her into a puddle of mud and ruined her new dress robes. Bellatrix had been praised by their Father while she had been punished. It was the first and only time she ever allowed her Father to see her cry. He had never again seen her display any true emotion, Narcissa learning at an early age how to protect herself by hiding her feelings from those around her.
She had learned everything expected of a Black and done her best to fulfill her obligations to her family and her bloodline. Her life had been planned for her before she was born, her role in her own life merely being that of an inactive participant. When she had scored high marks on all her OWLS, she had been punished because no wizard would wish for his wife to be intelligent. A pretty face, a passive personality, and children were all she was meant to offer the world.
Choice was not a word familiar to her nor would it ever be as the wife of Lucius Malfoy. She had known since she was ten that she was going to marry Lucius. Contracts had been signed on his fifth birthday when she was still an infant. The ceremony had been lavish, expensive, and very formal, occurring only one month following her graduation from Hogwarts two years ago. During those two years, she had done something incredibly foolish.
She had fallen in love with her husband.
He was not a kind man, but he was gentle with her. That tenderness had awoken something within her, emotions she'd long buried because they were not expected of her. On too many occasions, he reminded her of her Father. Cold, harsh, distant. He had been raised as the perfect Pureblood, never betraying his emotions nor indicating that he bothered with such weakness. Yet, when they made love, the icy façade melted away leaving a passionate, hot-blooded, intense man whose touch aroused her, whose kisses left her body heated, whose eyes could see into her very soul.
A sigh escaped her lips as she stared out the window at the gardens of the Manor. It was snowing, the ground covered in a blanket of white. It would soon be Christmas, the position of the moon indicating that it was nearly a new day. She heard the door close behind her, relieved that Lucius had left her in peace.
He had never approached her the other time, just over a year ago, instead leaving her to the silence of her rooms until the pain faded and the memory became distant. Under the guise of a business trip, he had left the Manor for a week, not returning until there were no more tears for her to cry and she had been capable of playing her part of the detached, indifferent Pureblood wife. They had never spoken about what happened and she had mourned silently, accustomed to keeping her emotions to herself and showing her weakness in private.
When she felt warm fingers move along her shoulder, brushing her hair away before full lips kissed her lower neck, she gasped, unable to hide her surprise. His arm moved around her slender body, the palm of his large hand resting on her sore stomach.
"You should be in bed, Narcissa," he scolded gently. "You are unable to even stand without resting your weight against the window."
"I could not remain in bed like last time," she whispered. "It was so cold, so lonely."
"I should have been here." Lucius moved his hand beneath her chin, turning her head to face him. Gray eyes moved over her face, lingering on the tears that were still slowly falling across her cheeks before looking into her eyes. "I am here now, Narcissa. You are not alone."
"I am so sorry, Lucius," she said softly. i Your only purpose in life is to support your husband and continue the bloodline, Narcissa. You are worthless if you are unable to fulfill those two expectations. A Black is to never be considered worthless so worry less about your studies and concentrate on being a beautiful hostess and companion for your husband.. /i "I am worthless."
"You need rest, love." Before she could protest, he lifted her into his arms and carried her back to bed, holding her carefully for fear of causing her unnecessary pain.
Narcissa noticed the orchids lying on the top blanket when he laid her on the bed. Hesitantly, she reached out to touch the delicate flower, looking from them to her husband.
"Do you remember that evening we made love surrounded by the scent of orchids and jasmine?" he asked as he removed his robe, his eyes on her face as he spoke. "I always think of that night when I smell their scent."
She blushed at the memory, recalling her brazen behavior and the need in his eyes as he had taken her beneath the stars, both of them consumed with their desire for one another. "They're beautiful."
"You mentioned that they were one of your favorites when you were lying in my arms," he said simply as he stretched out on the bed beside her. "They are a very delicate flower, difficult to locate, but there is a strength and beauty to them that reminds me of you. You are far from worthless, Narcissa."
"I am weak," she sighed softly as she looked at the flowers. "This was the second child I have lost in as many years, Lucius. You deserve a wife that can give you a child, a woman who is strong and will not bother you with her tears."
"Are you suggesting that I am a liar?" he asked quietly, his fingers moving through her pale gold hair as he looked at her profile.
"Never!" she exclaimed sharply as she turned to look at him, finding his face so close that she could feel his warm breath against her nose and lips.
"Yet you are insinuating that very thing by insisting you are weak and not a good wife. Do you find me to be so cold-hearted that you fear I will replace you because you have not yet provided me with an heir? Does our marriage mean so very little to you?"
"You married me for a companion, a hostess, and a mother to your children. If I am unable to give you a child, why would you want me?"
"Those are the reasons that we were married, Narcissa, but they are not the only reasons why I want you," he informed her coolly, his finger moving along her cheek as his eyes softened. "I thought I had lost you this morning. There was so much blood and you were deathly pale. The thought of losing you, it scared me and I realized how important you are to me. I do not wish to hear anymore talk about you being weak or me finding another wife. You silly woman, I do not want anyone but you."
"Shh." He placed his finger against her lips before he said, "We will have a child one day, of that I am confident, but I know that will not replace the two we have lost. You can cry for what we have lost and I will still consider you one of the strongest women I know, love. I considered buying you jewelry or robes to distract you from the miscarriage, but I am not my Father nor am I your Father. Instead, I wish to offer you something I have never given anyone and that I honestly never considered giving to anyone because I was always taught that it was a weakness. However, you have somehow changed my view on such things, Narcissa. If you will accept it, I offer you myself."
She studied him carefully, uncertain if he was sincere or merely playing a game in which she did not know or understand the rules. He was projecting the same cool detachment that was familiar when they were not in the privacy of their bedroom yet there was a slight hint of vulnerability in his eyes that she had never seen before that convinced her he was being honest. Neither of them were able to say the words yet and might never, but they were not really necessary. He loved her. With that realization, she leaned forward and brushed her lips against his. Pulling back, she looked into his eyes as she whispered, "I accept."
"Happy Christmas, Narcissa," he said softly before his lips gently moved over hers, his arm holding her tenderly against his body as the new day began