Author's Note: This is the last chapter. I know everyone was hoping for an A/U ending, but as you can see from Chapter 18, it isn't going to be.
As promised, I have begun writing a sequel to White Flower, Silver Moon, with an A/U theme. I published the first chapter today, and am currently working on more. I will write as fast as inspiration and schoolwork allow, and I thank everyone here for their reviews thus far. I hope you will read and comment on the second story. It's published under the title A Night Without Stars.
The Leaky Cauldron was nearly empty these days, Remus thought as he entered one snowy evening. A few years ago, the pub would have been filled of a Friday evening. But now, with Death Eaters everywhere and Voldemort on the loose, more people were staying in, or had gone into hiding.
Remus requested a private parlor and ordered a firewhisky. He didn't usually indulge, but tonight was a special night. A bittersweet night, to be more specific. One last drink with the boys, before – well, he didn't want to think anymore about it.
A chunky man wearing plain blue robes had wandered up to the table. Remus smiled.
"Peter. Have a seat."
Peter Pettigrew looked around him, worried, "How have you been, Moony?"
"Pretty much the same. And yourself?" Remus looked concerned, "Still keeping out of trouble?"
"Almost impossible, these days," Peter looked around shiftily, then ordered a scotch and soda. Remus smiled in spite of himself. Peter had never had a head for liquor – not even in their school days. "Are Sirius and James here, yet?" he asked.
"Should be, any minute," Remus replied easily.
"How're your mum and dad?" Peter asked.
Remus did not reply. His parents were not well, but then again, who was, these days? Life was hard for everyone. Especially for an Auror. That was an Auror's life.
Peter began to spin his glass nervously, "I never thought – we'd end up like this," he said awkwardly, "Look at us – twenty-one, and everything's so messed up."
"Moony, old friend."
Sirius and James had arrived. Remus smiled, this time gratefully. Nothing was ever awkward with these two. "Padfoot, Prongs. Pull up a couple of stools and sit down."
The two of them had aged considerably since the last time he'd seen them, and James' and Lily's wedding, he noticed. Sirius was still as handsome as ever, but his face was growing thinner, and his hair was longer, less kempt. James, Remus noticed with admiration, was still as rumpled and boyish as ever – except that his face was lined with worry now, where no worry had lighted on it five years ago.
Five years. Was that really how long it had been?
"You look good, James," Remus commented.
"Fatherhood agrees with him," Sirius grinned.
Remus perked up, "That's right. How is Harry?"
James's smile almost split his face, "Perfect. Absolutely perfect. Getting big, too. Looks just like me, when I was little," he added proudly.
"God forbid," Sirius teased. James cuffed him.
Peter cleared his throat, "I hear," he said to James, "you're going into hiding."
James nodded grimly, "Dumbledore's orders. Lily and me and Harry leave tomorrow. Sirius here's going to be our Secret-Keeper."
Remus nodded. Peter looked from Sirius to James and to Sirius again.
"We can't stay long," James said quietly, "Anyone could be in here."
"I know," Remus replied. "I just – wanted to have one more – " His voice trailed off.
"Listen, Moony," Sirius said, "If anything should happen –"
"Nothing's going to," James said fiercely.
"But if it does," Sirius hesitated, "We want you to know – "
Remus felt a lump in his throat. He looked around the table at his old friends. Handsome Sirius. Confident James. Worrywart Peter.
"I will never forget any of you," he said quietly. "We must never forget what passed between us."
The three of them nodded.
"That way – "
His eyes closed for a moment, remembering snowflakes falling onto featherlight eyelashes. He opened them again.
"– we'll never truly lose each other."
"That's enough now, Draco," Narcissa cooed, putting the bottle down on the table and kissing her baby on his chubby cheek, "What a big boy you're getting to be!"
She lifted him high into the air and blew a raspberry on his tummy. Draco squealed with laughter and Narcissa joined in. She snuggled him to her and walked into her husband's study.
"Lucius," she said, "I'm going to put the baby to bed. Are you going to sleep anytime soon?"
Lucius was sitting in the old easy chair that had belonged to his father before him, staring into the fire. "I'll be along in a little while, Narcissa," he said faintly.
Narcissa looked at him sadly for a minute. Poor Lucius always seemed to be so stressed, always staring off into the distance, as if he was thinking about something unpleasant. But whenever she asked him, he only told her that it was nothing, nothing for her to be concerned about, at least.
Narcissa walked upstairs and into Draco's nursery. She put him into his mahogany crib and kissed him on the duck fluff on his round head. "Goodnight, darling," she murmured. Draco yawned and sucked his thumb contentedly.
She left the door opened a crack and walked back down the hall to her bedroom. The huge French windows let so much light in, and on nights like this – snow nights – the sky was an orange violet color, and the room was bright as day. Narcissa walked over to the window and looked out onto the snowy grounds.
Something about snowy winter nights always made her nostalgic for the past she couldn't remember. Narcissa traced her fingers along the glass of the window, drawing a small heart in the moisture. She sighed a little.
Why did she feel like this? She loved her life. True, she was only twenty, which was a bit young to be married and have a child. But Lucius was nothing if not a model husband – and Draco was the light of her life. She couldn't have asked for anything more.
It had been so difficult. She remembered nothing - Lucius had told her everything. About the car accident that had erased every memory of her life before the age of seventeen. About how he had been betrothed to her when she was six – and how he was in love with her. They had waited a year before they had been married, and while Narcissa did love him very much, she was still haunted by the past she didn't remember. Why did it torment her so?
She smiled softly. Draco had been born only ten months after their wedding – in October. He was the ray of sunshine in her dark past, a beautiful baby with her soft blonde hair and his father's gray eyes. Everything about him was pure and untainted.
He is the only memory I have, she thought, that I remember from the beginning, that nobody had to tell me.
In the moisture on the glass, inside the heart, she traced her initials: N. M. She drew a plus sign+
Lucius came up behind her in the dark and kissed her cheek softly. "I thought you were going to bed."
"I'm restless," she answered. "Isn't it a beautiful night?"
Lucius wrapped his arms around her waist, "Bit snowy for my taste."
"Mmm," she hesitated, "Lucius?"
"Before – before the accident." She felt him stiffen slightly. Lucius didn't like talking about the accident. It was a bad memory for him. She pressed on, "did – was there ever anyone else?"
She knew this answer even before he gave it.
"I don't know, my love," Lucius replied, sounding as if he was far away, "You were a secret to me, in many ways."
"I know," Narcissa leaned against him, "I just wish – I could remember."
Lucius swallowed and nodded, "Sometimes, I wish you could, too."
Narcissa turned to him and kissed him on the lips. Lucius seemed a little relieved.
"Let's go to bed, Narcissa," he said gently.
She turned back to the window for a moment. With one hand, she reached out and erased the heart and letters.
Then, she closed the curtains.