Draco finds his mother perched carefully on the edge of a wrought iron chair on the veranda, and wonders idly, if her fair skin will bruise against such contact. She smiles, the brilliant, joyful smile that makes her look like a school girl and enraptures his father so much at his approach.

"Hello, mother."

He leans back into the chair opposite her, tenting his fingers and resting his elbows on the thin arm rests. She studies him carefully, assessing, and he bares her scrutiny with no more then a smirk. The wind drifts lazily through his fine blonde hair.

"I am hale and hearty, mother. Fret not."

She leans back into her chair as well, glances carefully about as if to divulge a great secret.

And then she does.

"You are in love," she murmurs, seeming pleased.

He gapes at her, composure forgotten and damned, and for a moment he can hear wind drifting through the trees and a bird crying out in the silence with deafening clarity. He recovers quickly, – admirably – cursing her abilities and hoping that she said no more.

"Love is for fools and adolescents, mother," he says smoothly, and Narcissa shakes her head.

"Who is she?"

Irrationally, Draco is defensive, protective, knowing that if his mother knew, then Lucius would know and his world would be destroyed, for she would be destroyed. It was a dangerous web they wove together, and it was ever binding them tighter, blissfully closer and maddeningly farther apart.

Narcissa studies her son, feeling motherly pride swell in her breast. Draco is so very handsome, and so composed and confident. He could have his pick of mates, but clearly he has chosen one he should not have, for his eyes have turned to flint as they do when he is angry.

She should not have probed. Brushing a strand of blonde hair from her face, Narcissa smiles and gazes out over the expanse of green grass belonging to Lucius. Her heart swells again, thinking of her dark and beautiful husband, and she cannot resist turning back and looking at Draco once more.

He is the symbol of them entwined; His bone structure her own, but his harsh personality and silver eyes belonging to his father. He is lean and tall; graceful but not gawky. His is the kind of body that would not have worked if anyone else had been carrying it.

"Is she lovely?" she whispers, and this time a flash of pain darkens the depths of his grey eyes to storm clouds.

"She is not for me to have."

"She belongs to another?"

Hatred, ugly and seething and monstrous crosses her sons beautiful face and makes him vicious, the firm lip curling over white teeth and his eyes narrowing sharply. There is only one Draco hates so much; the one the rest of the world adores; Harry Potter.

She searches her brain, listing the social gossip that spread throughout the upper classes quicker then wildfire. Patricia Parkinson's mother laughing snidely about Potter breeding with his own class… How their children would have unsightly mops of red to live with.

She recalls a set of wide, curious brown eyes and a fall of firelight hair. Pale skin scattered with freckles and a warm, happy smile.

Oh, Draco…

"The little Weasley girl," she sighs, and Draco jerks his eyes to hers, that hideous, possessive, protective rage hampered only by a flash of fear.

Narcissa feels a pang of unease that he would harm her merely for knowing. He is much too open, too vulnerable. If Lucius were to know, then he would obliterate her.

Though the love of her husband is great, the sudden, sorrowful pity she holds for her child is greater and she gazes at him sadly. He hangs his head, something a Malfoy should never do, and closes his eyes tightly for a moment before straightening again.

"She is not for me to have," he reaffirms, looking distantly away into the morning sky.

She wishes she could tell him otherwise; could use all her influence and sway to give him the girl… But she was something beyond his reach. There is a thick line of blood and black magic and misery swelling between them that could not be broached as her own with Lucius had.

"Draco…"

She dares not ask how much of her he has had. If he was anything like his father then nothing would stop him but himself. If he truly knew he could not have her, then he was safe.

He must be safe.

He glances back at her, secrets once again hidden within the silver of his eyes and the arrogant smirk on his lips, and she feels apprehension and sadness drift hazily over her.

He would not give up.

But he had no choice.

"Why her, Draco? She is a…"

Narcissa halts herself, for she cannot share her husband's views.

"A Weasley?" he sneers, "A muggle loving, poverty stricken nothing who I cannot contain myself around?"

He snickers; a cold, sinister sound.

"I'll kill her, mother. If she ever denied me I would kill her because it would kill me to be shamed by such a person. A Weasley; and I could not live without her. It's a sickness. It spreads through my veins like ivy – wrapping itself over and under every fibre of my being."

He ends in a snarl, gets up, paces. His handsome face is distorted, and his mother wonders if he has ever spoken this way to the girl. If she understood how it was for him; the risks, the costs, the betrayals. Draco adores his father, idolizes him to the point of mirroring his image, his achievements, his views. She looks away, feeling useless and pained to only listen.

"And she is so simple, and so good, and so odd. She takes walks in the rain because she likes to taste it. Her laugh always ends in a snicker and she plays with her ear when she is nervous. She wears awful, cast off robes and is happy. She has audacious red hair and ghastly freckles and she is too short, and she is so beautiful I can hardly breath!"

He ends in a gasp, flushing, eyes wild, and glancing around as if he expected Lucius to arise from the ground with girl in hand and whisper the killing curse. He looks so guilty and humiliated by his outburst that Narcissa could say nothing but the truth.

"I will not tell a soul, dearest. She is your secret to keep, but you must guard it better then you do now, unless you wish for a swift death for you both."

He scoffs, sneering again.

"She will never be mine to keep, mother, and I long for that very thing each day I arise to find us both alive and not together."

He does not look at her as he walks away, and when he returns to France a week later for more training, Lucius watches him go proudly, assured that his son would be everything he hoped him to be.

And Narcissa prayed, that the girl understood the gift she had been given, and the burden she now had to bare.