Disclaimer: The entire Malfoy family, as well as other characters, settings and all other random things mentioned, belong to JK Rowling. Incidentally, if anyone didn't know this already then might I inquire as to which planet you've inhabited these past few years?
Author's Note: The original title for this piece was "But… Mummy…" and then it spanned to include Lucius rather than just Narcissa and Draco, so it was changed. But if you're wondering why Draco keeps saying that then it's because it was the original title.
Diagon Alley was practically glowing with conviviality and crowded with cheerful, chattering people. Flourish and Blott's had a sale on all their Dark Arts books and conjured bats fluttered around like confetti. Banners of orange and black were hung over almost all the buildings and, much to Narcissa's horror, there was a special on pumpkin flavoured ice cream sundaes with spiders through it. She really wondered about people sometimes… Festive pumpkins with faces ranging from cheerful, to scary, to downright macabre were positioned in almost every shop window with bright, flickering flames inside them despite the fact that it was still daylight; low melancholy notes issued forth from many stores while jaunty tunes were heard in the rest and there was a grin, ranging from genuine and enthusiastic to abysmally fake, plastered on everyone's faces. In Narcissa's case it was a genuine smile that had merely been enhanced to meet with the required cheerfulness level.
If she was honest, she was torn between irritation and amusement at the entire affair.
But if the folks on Diagon Alley took Halloween seriously, the people on Knockturn Alley were die-hard fanatics. And they didn't hold with that whole 'holiday' lark either. Halloween was serious business and should be treated as such according to the occupants of that street. It was a night for contacting the dead (which never worked), for honouring the contributions made by Dark Wizards throughout history (but none of them that were recent enough to be politically incorrect, of course) and, last but not least, for pretending they weren't all still bitter about that whole "Voldemort killed by an infant on this night" thing (which was about as successful as the necromancy attempts). So everything was black, the most gruesome window displays imaginable were available in abundance and everyone wore a slightly sour expression and grunted a lot.
Narcissa didn't feel torn at all in her reaction to Knockturn Alley's so-called "festivities". She found them hilarious. And apparently, so did her young son.
"Yes Draco?" she asked, pulling the four year old away from a particularly grotesque display.
"Why is everyone angry?" he asked with a giggle, pointing at a scowling woman selling human fingernails as if to illustrate his point. Indeed, the woman looked almost murderous.
Narcissa chuckled and leant down to her son's ear. "I'll tell you as soon as we get back onto Diagon Alley, all right darling? I promise."
"All right Mum." Draco agreed, happy that he'd got his way even if he'd have to wait a while to get his answer.
Narcissa straightened and checked her reflection in a store window. Her blue velvet robes were a little askew, a problem she was sure to fix before entering Borgin and Burkes. Best foot forward, and all that.
Once inside, Draco instantly made a beeline for a display case holding cursed swords and poisoned blades. Narcissa seized the back of his robes and held him firmly in place beside her to prevent such a move; her little boy was far too enchanted by deadly weapons. It was becoming quite worrisome.
She was there to get her darling husband a present. She despised how sullen he became on Halloween, not at all like her Lucius. And they had a Ministry event to attend that night so she wanted him to appear cordial for that. She was also collecting a stunning set of dress robes for the ball that evening, also to cheer him up as he adored showing her off.
It had been suggested to Narcissa once that she was a trophy wife; a suggestion she found utterly preposterous. After all, she enjoyed showing off Lucius even more than he enjoyed showing her off, but it was hardly the basis of their relationship. No, their relationship was based on mutual respect, never-ending attraction, continual surprises and the fact that both of them could tell when the other needed cheering up. This was, after all, her reason for being there.
However a quick scan of the store revealed nothing of specific interest or even anything that hadn't been there on her last visit. How disappointing.
"Mister Borgin!" she called sharply to the seemingly deserted store. She'd simply have to ask for help from the proprietor, they always had something secreted away in the back rooms anyway. The oily little sycophant appeared at once in a doorway behind the counter. "Mister Borgin." she repeated, though this time it was with a tone of acknowledgment rather than summons.
"Ah, Madame Malfoy… such an unexpected pleasure-"
"Save it." Narcissa cut him off contemptuously. "I require your assistance with something. Do you have a moment or are you occupied?"
"I am with a customer at the moment Madame Malfoy, but I assure you that his business will be completed momentarily and I shall be with you then." He bowed, and lingered a moment. Narcissa watched in amusement as his gaze travelled appreciatively down her body in a move he no doubt thought to be discreet. It eventually lowered so much as to land on her young son, who looked so much like his father and was currently glaring at Borgin. He had also stepped protectively in front of his mother and folded his arms in irritation.
He was Daddy's little boy all right.
Borgin's eyes widened and he visibly paled. No doubt wondering what Lucius would do to him if he ever heard of his disrespectful behaviour. He quickly straightened and hurried through into the back.
"I don't like him Mummy." Draco stated derisively, watching Mister Borgin disappear through back. "He kept looking at you funny."
"Perceptive little devil aren't you?" Narcissa commented. Draco obviously didn't know what she meant but he seemed pleased with the compliment nonetheless. "I don't like him either Draco. However he is a useful ally and as such we must maintain civil relations." Draco frowned, confused. "If we're nice to him, he's nice to us." Narcissa clarified. "And his being nice to us can be extremely beneficial."
She would hardly call how she treated Mister Borgin 'nice' but what the hell, she figured, she was just making things easier for her son to understand. He didn't quite understand politics yet, even though he was already a great deal better at them than many of her husband's associates. Her little boy always got what he wanted and he usually did so with very little effort on his part, making other people jump to attention and do his bidding. Usually while making them feel that they were doing it of their own volition rather than having him pull the strings. If that wasn't politics she didn't know what was.
Narcissa rapped her fingers on the polished counter absent-mindedly. She could see an open account book from where she stood. Perhaps it had been bred into her or perhaps it had simply become instinct after seven years in Slytherin, but whenever Narcissa Black Malfoy saw a document, note or even distracted doodles done by her superiors or associates, she was compelled to read it. This had quickly spread into works done by anyone. After all, everyone had their uses and knowledge was power.
Not just read it, scan it for information of value. This compulsion of hers had served her well over the years. It was a result of it that she had been able to discover that her parents were in talks with the MacNairs of all people; they had intended for her to marry their eldest.
A small smile tugged Narcissa's lips as she remembered her absolute horror at the time. She'd already decided that she was marrying one of two men at the time: Lucius Malfoy, who was at least ten years her senior and had not, at that time, given her the time of day. Or, she remembered with amusement, Severus Snape; the arch enemy of her dratted cousin and, in her first year at least, the only upperclassman who had even realised she existed. He'd even tutored her a little in Defence Against the Dark Arts and in Potions, eventually leading her to have the top marks in both classes.
However her little compulsion had also led her to reading a letter from his mother one day where in she had discovered that he was a half-blood. A secret she had kept to this very day, even from him. However the revelation had basically left her with Lucius or Walden MacNair, because no matter how fond she was of Severus she simply would not marry a half-blood. And since she also refused to marry a brain-dead moron, she'd set her sights on Lucius.
The following months had involved her dressing far more provocatively than any nineteen year old girl should know how to do, implementing a truly inspired scheme to get the attention of Lucius' parents and nothing more than frosty politeness to Lucius himself. She had not intended for her coolness to spark his interest, it was simply that she'd spent so much of the time preoccupied with impressing his parents, placating her parents and fending off MacNair that she really didn't have any energy left to be anything but frigid with him. But spark his interest was exactly what her apathy had done.
Narcissa smiled nostalgically. Not two weeks previously, Lucius had told her that she was the only woman in his life he'd ever really wanted to impress, a need he continued to feel every time they were together. The idea made Narcissa feel rather smug and she was not above admitting it.
Her compulsion had also given her a fairly good standing in Slytherin; within one year of arriving at Hogwarts she had people eating out of her hand. Including teachers. Even Slughorn had been a little intimidated by her extensive knowledge of all that went on around that school.
And so, seeing the carelessly abandoned ledger just lying there amongst random letters and memos… Well Narcissa didn't even really have a choice when she decided to start reading it.
It had to be said that there was little of interest in the ledger itself. Though she did note that annual sales were on the increase once more, the taboo surrounding Knockturn Alley was apparently beginning to wear off. People were so concerned with being politically correct nowadays, it was rather disheartening. The majority of the memos were merely shipping details and the paper equivalent of double speak which basically covered the business should anything illegal be found in their possession. But one piece of paper did catch her attention.
A yellowing piece of parchment, with loopy untidy handwriting on it, contrasting with Borgin's spindly, vaguely sinister and meticulously neat scroll. It read simply "Lady Zabini agreed! The tomes will be there on the twenty-eighth, what a purchase!"
Narcissa did a double take. Then a slow, satisfied smirk graced her face.
Lady Zabini… the woman was a delight. In male circles she was referred to as the Black Widow, in female circles she was referred to as an Inspiration. She had married countless men, all of whom were handsome, all of whom were rich, all of whom were pureblood and all of whom had come to a sticky end. And, Narcissa mused, in the case of the American gentleman and the tar pit, that "sticky end" was not always figurative.
One of her earliest husbands had been a Spanish wizard named Alberto Machado. His family had owned one of the rarest and most extensive book collections on the planet. For the past eleven generations they had kept twelve books, a set, away from the public eye. In fact the volumes had been out of circulation for so long that many had dismissed them as a myth. They held within their pages some of the most feared and powerful Dark Magic known to Wizarding kind, but that was not their real allure. Their real allure was the historical accounts found within them. After all, Dark Magic was relatively easy to come across. Besides, most of the spells contained were now obsolete.
But the history in them… the accounts of ancient wizards and even of the Founders of Hogwarts were second to none. Mythical in their own right. But the family had never even contemplated selling them.
Then along came Lady Zabini. She had married the last in a long line of Machado men and he had left everything to her. He'd died two days after changing his will and every single book from that collection had passed into Lady Zabini's hands. Narcissa knew for a fact that Lady Zabini didn't care one way or the other; she had little interest in Dark Magic or in history. What she did have an interest in was waiting to see how much people would pay for them. She was a ruthless operator and a slick businesswoman whom you couldn't trust to give you an honest weather report even if both of you were standing by a window… Narcissa had always liked that about her.
A very long time ago Lucius had made a comment about how he would love to own those books. To own Los Tomos Oscuros was more than just a claim to fame or even a conversation piece: It was an honour. And according to the note on Borgin's desk, he had them in his possession. Oh yes… Lucius was going to have a very good night…
"Hmmm?" Narcissa asked distractedly, imagining Lucius' reaction.
"Mummy I'm bored."
She looked down at Draco who was, indeed, looking thoroughly unimpressed with the lack of activity. Narcissa realised that she had been left waiting for five whole minutes. More than any Black girl would ever have accepted no matter what juicy little titbits had been found in the meantime.
"Mister Borgin, I do hope you realise that from here on out every minute you keep me waiting takes ten percent off my purchase!" Narcissa called through to the back in a sugary tone. She heard the man clear his throat loudly and tell whomever he was talking to that it was a pleasure doing business with them. Narcissa smirked. Some people were so easy to control. "Won't be much longer Draco, dear." she informed her son brightly. He looked mollified but still generally annoyed.
And rightly so, Narcissa thought with satisfaction. She would not have a son who accepted anything less than prompt, professional and respectful service from anyone and everyone. After all, how else would the Malfoy family name continue to be upheld and the Black family standards continue to be catered to if their heir was not of such a temperament?
Mister Borgin appeared almost instantaneously. Narcissa was slightly disappointed but she still deducted ten percent from the price of the tomes in her mind. "I hope we didn't interrupt Mister Borgin." Narcissa said sarcastically. Borgin chuckled falsely and immediately moved towards the counter, taking up position behind it comfortably.
"Now. How may I help you Mrs Malfoy?"
Narcissa noticed the sudden use of the word "Mrs" now replacing "Madame". Draco must be more intimidating than she had previously thought.
She sent the man a piercing look, however. "With whom were you doing business Mister Borgin?" she asked sharply. If that pathetic little rat had sold those tomes already she was going to be forced to do unpleasant things to him.
"Oh I doubt you'd be acquainted Mrs Malfoy." Borgin said evasively. Narcissa smiled a predatory smile.
"Well uh- you see… he's-"
"He's surprised to see a fine, upstanding lady such as you in such an establishment." Said a silky voice from the shadowy back rooms Borgin had just exited.
Narcissa whirled to face the source of the comment, grinning from ear to ear. "Severus!" she exclaimed gleefully. Behind her she heard Borgin sigh with relief, she ignored him and focused on where Severus Snape stood, black robes billowing as always, with his customary sneer in place, though not maliciously.
She knew that the non-malicious sneer was the closest anyone got to a smile from the man. He was always so deliciously malevolent.
"Narcissa." Severus said politely. "And young master Draco. You don't look to be in the best of humours Draco, what's wrong?" he requested. Narcissa looked down at her son who was still shooting glares over his shoulder at Borgin.
"I'm bored. HE," Draco jerked his head at Mister Borgin "kept us waiting." Draco grumbled.
"He certainly is his mother's son." Severus remarked, a light dancing in his eyes.
"And what is that supposed to mean?" Narcissa demanded playfully.
"To this day," Severus said quietly. "I still remember your reaction to making Polyjuice potion… 'It has to stew for HOW long?' Very amusing." Narcissa laughed.
"Oh shut up. Not all of us were born with unlimited supplies of patience." she informed him sanctimoniously. "But what are you doing here anyway? I thought you'd be locked up in your dungeon torturing Gryffindors. After all, it's what you promised me you'd do when you took that job." she reminded him.
A smirk played on Snape's lips. "Well yes. And I assure you, I do it well. But this evening I required something a little outside the normal potion making equipment and, since even my patience does not extend forever, I came for it now rather than waiting until next summer."
"What did you need?" Narcissa asked with interest.
"Ceremonial blade." Snape replied with a non-committal shrug.
"The silver dagger with the scorpion on it and the fretted sheath." Draco piped up.
"I beg your pardon?"
"What's that sweetie?"
Draco looked embarrassed but he still stuck out his chin and said loudly: "You must have bought the silver dagger with the scorpion on it. It's the only blade that's missing from the cabinet." Narcissa felt a flutter of pride at her son. He may be impossible to control on occasions and he may even be inordinately prone to looking at and playing with sharp objects, but damned if he wasn't an observant little thing.
She sent Severus a questioning look but was pleased to see him watching her son with wide eyes.
"You do pay attention don't you my boy?" he said quietly. Draco didn't respond. Severus didn't expect him to. "Well, I must be going, I have more business to attend to before I return to that dratted school." he said with a theatrical roll of his eyes.
"Lovely seeing you again Severus." Narcissa said sincerely. "I wonder if you'd be interested in joining me for tea when you've completed your business?"
"Of course." Severus nodded, looking as though he enjoyed the idea. "Will you be done by two?"
"Almost certainly." Narcissa said, casting a glance back at the still trembling Mister Borgin and being careful to put a hint of a threat in her voice. She would not have him messing her around today.
With a hint of amusement Snape nodded once more. "Well, I look forward to it. The tea shop behind Gringotts?" he asked her.
"Absolutely. See you then." Narcissa agreed with a smile. Snape nodded once more both at her and at Draco, and then in a billow of his black robes, he disappeared out the door. Draco stared after him as he went.
"I think I liked him Mummy." Draco commented. Narcissa smiled wickedly.
"You have superior taste, darling." she congratulated him. She turned slowly about and pinned her gaze on Mister Borgin, who was clearly trying to become a shadow as best he could without actually leaving the spot Narcissa had left him in. He wasn't having much luck. "Now, Mister Borgin. I have business to discuss with you." she coolly informed him. "Before we begin I feel we should make it perfectly clear that I am not representing my husband. I am not here on his behalf and he will hear nothing of what goes on in this room today, are we clear?"
She noted, with amusement, how Borgin's posture relaxed and how the predatory gleam of a salesman returned to his eyes. "Y-yes, Madame Malfoy."
A wide smile graced Narcissa's face as she took one step closer to him. "I, Narcissa Black, am here entirely of my own volition." she'd stressed the last name just enough to get his attention again and, once more, put him on edge. "And I must regretfully inform you that I have neither my husband's patience nor his skill at dealing politely with people who have kept me waiting." Borgin's eyes widened once more. God it was fun terrifying underlings, Narcissa thought with relish. "Now I am in no mood to be coy, Mister Borgin, so allow me to make my point very clear."
She whipped out her wand and felt a small thrill of pleasure as Mister Borgin whimpered in response. Rather than curse him until he was catatonic, however, she waved her wand above his desk. A red velvet money bag that she had just transported, by means of a secure and utterly silent incantation, from her private vault at Malfoy Manor, appeared there. Inside was a truly appalling amount of gold which could probably buy her a good few people's souls.
"It has come to my attention," she whispered, leaning over the table. "That you have, in your possession, Los Tomos Oscuros. I intend to purchase them." she tossed the money bag at Borgin and watched him slowly process the situation. He was obviously surprised that she knew. Even more surprised that she could be big and scary without her husband or her family members there. She had, after all, purposefully taken out the wand in a manner that would make it clear she was trained in duelling. She had also displayed impressive non-verbal skills by summoning the money bag from such a long distance. She knew that such things would not be lost on one in Mister Borgin's line of work.
"I… Ms Malfoy, I… It's such a rare find." he murmured. "To let them go so soon…"
"Would not only be a wise business move, that would supply you with an obscene amount of gold but would also," Narcissa said gravely. "Take you off the list of targets of other interested parties who dearly want their hands on those books and who are not nearly as civilised as I am when it comes to getting them."
Borgin paled a few shades. Narcissa had lied without blinking, she was ready to do so on almost any subject at any time of day; it was something you just learned how to do when you grew up as she had. She was not about to let such a petty thing as the truth stand between her and those books. She was maintaining eye contact with Borgin, keeping him under pressure, but she still laid her hand on Draco's shoulder once more to assure herself that he hadn't managed to get into trouble.
Borgin licked his lips, apparently trying to return the moisture to them. Good, Narcissa thought with satisfaction, she'd made him nervous. Excellent.
"Other interested parties?" he repeated weakly. "Like who?"
Narcissa allowed an expression of regret to pass over her face. To him it would appear she was sorry to say what she was about to say: She was actually mourning his pitiable grammar. "I can tell you nothing Mister Borgin, except that certain people want those books. I also want them and am prepared to do whatever is necessary to get them." She allowed the implied threat to sink in. "If you look in that money bag you will see how much I am willing to pay. But whether you accept that price or not, I am walking out of here with those books Mister Borgin." she told him in a cold, emotionless voice.
Beneath her hand, she felt Draco rock on his heels. He was -she realised with an inward smirk- enjoying himself. That was definitely her boy.
Mister Borgin was staring at the money bag, as though it were a rattlesnake. A whole minute passed, then two. Narcissa never let her gaze leave him. Then he shook his head slowly. "I… I'm sorry Ms Malfoy, but I just can't. It's too precious a find, I couldn't possibly…"
Narcissa smiled with just enough sadness behind it to give Borgin the impression that she regretted what she was about to do. In her head she was doing a gleeful jig. Intimidation was so much fun. "I'm very displeased to hear that Mister Borgin." she said slowly.
Narcissa crouched down and placed both her hands on her son's shoulders. Draco's eyes were alight and he looked as though he was trying very hard not to grin. Narcissa turned him slightly so that his expression wasn't visible to Borgin.
"Draco? Could you tell the good sir what your Mummy did to the last person who displeased her?" she asked him politely. Draco really did grin at that point. He nodded vehemently. "Good Boy Draco. Tell Mister Borgin about it"
"Well I don't know exactly." Draco admitted with a shrug. "It was my last nanny. She told me that father was a very bad man and that he was evil and that I should try not to be like him. You didn't like it. You heard her doing it one day and you took her upstairs. I don't know what you did to her but she was screaming for about an hour. Then she came downstairs with Hilly, the house elf, and she was all pale and shaking and she was bleeding from her mouth and…" Draco trailed off, frowning. "Well I don't think it was really her mouth that was bleeding but it was where the blood was coming from. And oh yeah, her skin was all purple and black around her throat and across her jaw. She told Hilly she might have to go to Saint Mungo's. It was great." he added with a wolfish grin.
Narcissa, who had worked very hard to keep her own face expressionless throughout, smiled her thanks to her son before standing up and turning back to Borgin. He was shaking, his mouth was hanging open, his eyes were as wide as saucers and he was still staring, shell shocked, at Draco.
"The tomes, Mister Borgin?" she asked him in a bright and cheerful tone. He jumped about a foot in the air, looked at her in terror and then nodded vigorously.
"R-right away Mrs Malfoy. Right away." he immediately scuttled through to the back, carefully swiping the money bag as he went, should Narcissa change her mind. As soon as Borgin was out of sight, Narcissa offered her son a great big dazzling smile.
"Did I do well Mummy?" he asked her curiously. Narcissa swooped and gave him a kiss.
"Yes Draco, you did very, very well." she whispered to him happily, making sure Mister Borgin couldn't possibly hear her. "And you'll be getting a present for it later." she assured her son, who beamed at her in response.
Less than a minute later, Mister Borgin was scuttling out with a large wooden box. A locked wooden box. Alarms went off in Narcissa's head immediately as she realised that he'd locked the box without showing her the books first. That pathetic little worm was actually trying to dupe her. Oh he would suffer for this, she thought darkly. No one showed her those levels of impudence without suffering greatly.
"Here they are Mrs Malfoy." he simpered, reaching for the money bag. "It was a pleasure doing business with-"
Narcissa flicked her wand at him, pinning the man in place. A full-body bind was a childish spell, she knew. But it was just so useful. "Why Mister Borgin, I do believe that you are trying to make a fool of Me." she commented lightly. She was not disappointed to see his eyes bulge slightly in response. She flicked her wand leisurely at the box, sending the lid flying.
Approaching it slowly, she quirked a brow. "Agatha Christie?" she commented dryly. "You were trying to pawn me off with Agatha Christie books?" She clucked her tongue reproachfully and plucked a book off the top of the pile. "Tsk. You didn't even go for Miss Marple or Poirot? Pitiful." she turned to look at Draco, who was regarding Mister Borgin with interest.
"What did you do to him Mummy?" he queried.
Narcissa smiled benignly at her son. "Its call a full-body bind Draco. I don't doubt you'll be more than capable of doing it in a few years." Draco looked pleased. "However," Narcissa continued. "What I'm about to do to him is something which will take you an awful lot longer to learn, and something which you are unfortunately too young to witness."
"But… Mummy!" Draco pouted. Narcissa smiled again.
"No buts Draco. Go on through to the back, you can return in just a moment." she told him firmly. Knowing better than to argue with his mother on such a point, Draco turned and walked into the back chambers, shooting Mister Borgin a dirty look as he went.
Mister Borgin appeared to be trying to communicate with his eyes. Narcissa ignored him and flicked her wand towards the front of the store. The windows covered themselves, the door locked and the 'Closed' sign was hung up. Narcissa tossed her hair dramatically and walked over towards Mister Borgin, sending a quick glance to the back of the store to make sure Draco wasn't watching.
"Mister Borgin, I am a busy woman." she told him in a dangerously polite voice. "I do not have time for these trivial games and nor do I have the patience for people, such as yourself, who seem to think that I am incapable of dealing with those who waste my time."
A quick wave of her wand and the Full-Body-Bind disappeared. "Mrs Malfoy, I didn't mean… you must understand… it's so precious!" he cried. "I was just…"
"Silence!" Narcissa hissed, raising her hand to stop one more idiotic word coming out of him. "Mister Borgin my son is in the next room, I will not have his mind polluted with your snivelling excuses." she snapped, still being careful to keep her voice down. Draco really didn't need to hear this exchange, after all. Borgin shut up. Narcissa cocked her head and watched him carefully. "You are going to give me those books, do you understand me?"
"And you are going to do so politely, promptly and pleasantly or I will personally see to it that you can never eat a solid meal again. Is that clear?" He nodded again. Narcissa smiled. "Excellent. Go ahead." Borgin attempted to scuttle off at once but Narcissa stepped into his way. "Oh, one other thing Mister Borgin?" she said blithely. Borgin's eyes grew wide once more.
She made a slashing movement with her wand and purple flames shot out of her wand, slicing open Borgin's face for a moment. He yelled out in pain and dropped to the floor, clutching his face. Narcissa stepped closer to him. "If you ever try and disrespect me like that again, you are going to be so very beyond sorry." she hissed. "Understood?"
Looking absolutely petrified, Borgin nodded. Narcissa smirked at him and reversed the spell, returning his face to normal aside from the angry red line that still marred it. Without even waiting for permission he practically flew into back. Narcissa returned the windows and front door to normal. "Draco!" she called through to the back. "You can come back now."
Fifteen minutes later, Narcissa was strolling back onto Diagon Alley with her son. The twelve Tomes had been returned to Narcissa's personal vault along with half the contents of the moneybag she had originally summoned. While she had been more than willing to pay Borgin every brass Knut inside that bag in order to get the tomes, she damn well wasn't giving him that much money after he'd messed her around like that.
"Now then Draco. What do you want as your present?" she asked her son cheerfully.
Draco paused and frowned in concentration. "A Quidditch pitch." he said finally. Narcissa froze and quirked an eyebrow at her son. Either his demands were getting more than a little extreme or he was about to elaborate.
"Father said he'd turn that old field out back into a Quidditch pitch for me." Draco informed her. "He still hasn't done it though." he was clearly not amused by this fact.
Come to think of it, Narcissa did remember Lucius mentioning something like that a few months ago. But since she'd forgotten, he seemed to have forgotten and Draco wasn't putting up much of a fuss, it had just faded away. But apparently Draco did indeed remember. "Very well Draco." she agreed. "Why don't we just go into Quality Quidditch supplies now and we'll get the contact details of a pitch designer, hmm? Then we can get them to come to the house and you and your father can design the pitch personally." Draco beamed at her. "Anything else you'd like darling? Something that perhaps takes a little less time to enjoy?" she asked him curiously.
Draco nodded. "You still haven't told me why everyone was angry." he told her.
Narcissa took a deep breath and straightened up, still trying not to grin. "Well Draco it's a long story." she said. "So you'll have to pay attention." Draco's expression immediately shifted into one of rapt interest and focus as they weaved their way through the milling crowds towards Quality Quidditch supplies. "Now, you know about muggles, not you?"
Draco nodded, holding her hand tightly as they passed through a group outside the Apothecary. "They're non-magic people. They can't do anything." he stated. Narcissa didn't feel this statement was exactly accurate but she supposed that, for her purposes, it was a suitable enough explanation.
"Yes, them. Well sometimes two muggles can get married and have children. And sometimes one of those children can turn out to be a witch or wizard." she said, ducking down as a swarm of bats appeared overhead.
"How?" Draco asked.
"How do two muggles make a wizard?" Draco wondered.
"Er…" Narcissa frowned. "I don't really know Draco. But somehow it happens."
"Are they bad wizards?"
"Can they do the same things as regular wizards?" Draco clarified.
"Well yes, I suppose." Narcissa acceded. "I mean they're not very likely to get into Slytherin but apart from that…" she shrugged. "Quiet now Draco, we can keep talking about it when we're done in here."
Narcissa pushed open the door to Quality Quidditch Supplies and was revolted to find a small child dressed as a vampire. Or rather a caricature of a vampire since no real vampire dressed like that, had skin that rosy or was so clearly in need of a low-fat diet and exercise. "Excuse me Miss, do you have any sweeties?" the little leech asked in a saccharine tone.
"Even if I did, you wouldn't be getting any." Narcissa informed the boy disdainfully. "Now go and find your mother and stop pestering people. With a frame like that you should be waiting until your teenage years until your begging women for attention anyway. Be gone with you."
The child looked dumbfounded for a moment and then went running off towards the other side of the store crying. Narcissa clucked her tongue. "Draco? Promise me you'll never beg for anything like that piece of vermin." she asked her son quietly.
Draco, who was looking more than a little disgusted himself, nodded. And Narcissa distinctly heard him mutter the phrase 'Sickening'. With a smug look, Narcissa swept up to the counter and demanded the attention of a member of staff.
As she gathered the names and addresses of innumerable Quidditch pitch designers from a catalogue they had, the two adolescent males behind the counter gawked openly at her. One, she was impressed to see, was staring at her face and legs with obvious attraction. The other was plainly eyeing her chest. Narcissa didn't especially care either way. As she took note of the last contact, she felt Draco tugging on her robes. Not something he usually did, it had to be said.
"Just a moment darling." she told him, handing back the catalogues and thanking the two boys for their help before turning to face her son. "What is it Draco?"
He sent a pointed look behind them. Narcissa turned and was met with the sight of a distinctly unpleasant looking woman. She had hips the size of a small country and a face like the back end of a truck. In one arm she held a screaming baby, while behind her the child Narcissa had sent away earlier was cowering nervously. A few steps behind him another woman, who looked so fragile Narcissa feared a breath of wind would shatter her like glass, was holding two more children and glaring quite magnificently at her. The smell of redcurrant rum hovered around them like a cloud and both wore muggle clothing.
"I have a problem with you." the woman closest to her snapped, pointing a finger at Narcissa. Narcissa's only response was to tilt her head expectantly. "You made my son cry!" she woman yelled.
Narcissa chuckled. "You mean to tell me that pathetic little waste of oxygen is yours? And you admit to it? My, my, one certainly can't fault you on your honesty." she sent a pointed glance up and down the woman. "Perhaps they could fault you on everything else, but not your honesty."
"Just what is that supposed to mean?" the woman said threateningly.
"Which part?" Narcissa inquired.
"The part about my son!"
"Oh well," Narcissa said accommodatingly. "It's really quite simple. You see I called your son a pathetic little waste of oxygen. I did so because anyone that begs strangers for candy at such a young age has very little potential for improvement in my eyes." she considered it for a moment. "Though I don't suppose the child can really be blamed for the fact that his mother can't control him and is more interested in gossiping with her friends and drinking rum than providing the child with the treats he wants. And quite plainly doesn't need with such an ample gut, but I digress." Beside her Draco sniggered.
Narcissa supposed it was rather symbolic that, while her son stood proudly beside her, that woman kept her child quite firmly behind her while trembling. Not to mention amusing. This woman honestly thought she was being a better mother than Narcissa because she was standing up to her after she'd upset her son. But while there hadn't been a second in the past five years when she hadn't known the exact location of her son and every detail of his health, this woman let her children run riot and was actually surprised when that ended badly for her. The brainless fool.
"That's it! I won't have you talking about my child that way!" the woman bellowed.
Narcissa sent her a pitying look. "Forgive me for saying so, but there doesn't seem to be an awful lot you can do to stop me."
"You think I can't fight you?"
"My good woman, with that broomstick where it is I'd be surprised if you can bend." Narcissa told her dryly. "Now do us all a favour; shut up, go home and keep your children under control from now on." she snapped waspishly. "Come on Draco, we have more important things to do than waste our time on this idiot."
And with that, she and her son stalked out of the store.
Slightly annoyed that someone of such lowly origins would dare address her in such a manner, Narcissa swept along Diagon Alley in irritation. Draco practically had to run to keep up with her. She only stopped when she made it to Madam Malkin's, where she was forced to pause and adjust her hair and robes.
"Mother! Don't walk so quickly!" Draco panted, glaring at her. Narcissa looked down at her son and sighed.
"I apologise Draco. I was… angry." she told him. "I won't do it again." Draco looked placated. Narcissa turned and opened the door into Madam Malkin's.
"Ah! Mrs Malfoy!" Malkin said brightly. "I've been waiting for you! If you'd just like to go upstairs I'll be with you in a moment to make some last minutes adjustments."
Narcissa nodded curtly and moved upstairs with Draco following behind her. She found herself in a brightly lit studio sort of room with large, frosted windows, a circular stage in the middle of the room with mirrors surrounding it and three chairs behind it. Along one wall there was a rack full of robes, dresses and assorted clothing and in one corner there was a changing area. Narcissa moved for the chairs and took a seat. She lifted Draco up onto the chair next to her.
"Mummy?" Draco asked curiously, eyeing a few lacy purple contraptions that hung on one of the racks. "What are those for?"
So far as Narcissa could see, those were for activities that no four-year-old boy should ever hear about. At least not until they were an awful lot older, and had perhaps been married for seventy years and was in need of spicing up his… well, anyway. Safe to say Narcissa had never needed to wear one of those contraptions and she really didn't see a time where she'd need to with Lucius.
"Er… it's nothing Draco. What were we talking about earlier?" she questioned.
"You were telling me about muggles who have wizard children and why everyone looked so angry." he replied promptly.
Narcissa had the fleeting thought that it would've been less awkward to discuss the lacy purple contraptions. She quelled it however, and began answering her son's questions. "Well, you see these wizards and witches who had muggles as parents, they're called Muggle-born. Or Mud… er…never mind. They're called Muggle-born. Well some wizards, like your father, didn't want Muggle-borns being allowed into the Wizarding World."
"Why not?" Draco asked.
"Well… that's a difficult question Draco." Narcissa told him. "In you father's case it was because he thought that having witches and wizards with a Muggle upbringing would endanger our way of life. Also since your father is a pureblood, and so are you and I, it means that we enjoy certain privileges that Muggle-born wizards don't."
"Like what?" Draco wondered.
Narcissa could have given him a very long list but nothing on that list would really make sense to a four-year-old. She closed her eyes and shook her head slightly. "They just… do. All right? Trust me. But other wizards like my mother and father didn't want Muggle-borns joining the Wizarding world because they didn't want muggle blood mixing with wizard blood."
"But…" Draco frowned. "You said that the Muggle-born Witches and Wizards were still Witches and Wizards." he pointed out.
"Well… they are but… you see…" Narcissa fought the urge to smack her forehead. "Your grandparents blood runs through you, right?" she asked him. Draco nodded. "Right, well people like my family didn't want witches and wizards running around with muggle blood running through them. They thought it polluted them."
"Did it?" Draco asked.
"Did it what?"
"Well… no. Of course not. But they still thought… Look, Draco, that's what they thought, okay?"
Draco looked dubious. "But… Mummy… if both their parents were wizards then wouldn't they be purebloods too?" he asked her. Narcissa opened her mouth to respond but no sound came out. She sighed, closed it again and regarded her son wearily.
"Mrs Malfoy?" Madam Malkin's cheerful voice called from the door. Narcissa gratefully turned to look at her.
She wore lavender coloured robes and held in her hands a set of brilliant white, silk dress robes. Or, perhaps more accurately, a gown that had been made by wizards and so therefore earned the title of 'wizard robes' for some obscure reason. Narcissa beamed at her as the woman indicated that she should try them on and more than willingly did so. "Draco wait here, I'll be back in just a moment." she told her son.
She moved behind the screen in the corner and began to change out of her blue velvet robes.
Draco was asking far too many questions. Not that asking questions was a bad thing in Narcissa's book, it was just that she didn't really know how to deal with that particular brand of questions. Lucius was still rather firmly against Muggle-born Wizards, and no matter what he said Narcissa knew that blood-purity was a factor for him too.
Personally, she didn't care one way or the other. She was a pureblood, she had fallen for a pureblood husband and she had produced a pureblood son. None of it had been planned. Andromeda had fallen for a muggle-born, and such was life. Since she cared even less than Narcissa, she had followed the exact same path as her, albeit with a muggle-born. To be honest, the only part of this line of questioning that she really hated was the fact that she knew she'd be forced to talk about Voldemort. Never a happy topic.
Pushing the thoughts from her mind, Narcissa stepped delicately into the silk gown and slid into it. The skirt had a few sheer layers underneath and was carefully embroidered with the golden hairs from a Unicorn Foal. It was unusual for a unicorn to shed their golden hairs in favour of the silver, anywhere where a human being could possibly get at them and so they cost quite a bit. The embroidery itself was of a spiral-and-wave design, rather than floral. Mainly because flowery items tended to irk Narcissa greatly.
The dress itself was really more like a ball gown than anything else. Strapless, flowing and elegant; it was the most beautiful dress she'd ever seen. From the perfect lines to the feel of the material against her skin, it was everything she could've hoped for to cheer Lucius up and upstage every other woman at the ball that night. She could even wear the gold, diamond encrusted locket Lucius had bought her on their honeymoon with it. And the dress, Narcissa knew, would only improve when she went out there and had it fitted perfectly. Not to mention when she added the correct shoes, the correct make-up and had her hair done. She smirked; it was never a bad feeling to look in the mirror and even feel attracted to yourself.
She did, however, have one qualm with the dress. While the skirt was beautifully embroidered and decorative (without being gaudy, she hastened to add), from the waist up the dress was just rather… plain.
Narcissa walked slowly out behind the screen and towards the stage in the centre of the room. She was not disappointed to hear a stunned gasp of admiration from Madam Malkin and a look of awe on her young son's face.
"Mum?" he said slowly, as Narcissa stepped up onto the stage.
"You look beautiful." he told her sincerely. Narcissa fought the urge to buy him another present and thanked her son politely. Meanwhile, Madam Malkin bustled around adjusting the dress to make it more form fitting. As she looked in the mirrors around the stage, Narcissa noticed another thing that had previously gone unnoticed by her. The dress, in all it's glory, made the pure gold (and, obviously, magically reinforced) wedding band on her hand shine like a beacon. Yet another thing that would please Lucius.
"Would you like to peruse our range of shoes Mrs Malfoy?" Madam Malkin simpered. Narcissa nodded and, with a wave of her wand, Malkin had the entire shoe stock of the store in front of Narcissa on a display rack.
As she looked over them all carefully, Narcissa decided she may as well bring up the thing that had annoyed her about the dress and see if the woman could do anything about it. "Madam Malkin, I do have one complaint about this dress." Narcissa said slowly,
"What's that Mrs Malfoy?" Malkin asked; sounding genuinely stunned that anyone could have a problem with something of such great beauty.
"The bodice. It's rather… well… dull, I suppose." Narcissa commented. To her surprise Malkin laughed and held her hand to her breast.
"Oh Mrs Malfoy, that is entirely my fault. I forgot to give you the accompanying piece." Malkin scurried over to a chest of drawers in one corner and extracted what appeared to be a corset. Or at least, what a corset would look like if it had been embroidered with pure gold and then had everything but the gold removed. It actually reminded Narcissa of chain mail rather than anything else. "Here you go." Malkin said pleasantly, placing the corset on.
Narcissa examined the results appreciatively. It was understated and continued the same spiral-and-wave design of the skirt but, rather than unicorn hair, the corset was actually made of gold. It was also solid enough to make her feel more secure, while also being fitted well-enough for her not to feel closed in. "This is perfect." she breathed, looking at her reflection. Lucius would lose his breath when he saw her.
Twenty minutes later Narcissa and Draco walked out of Madam Malkin's with Narcissa's dress, corset and shoes (white satin court shoes with killer heels and one or two scatter gold beads on each), Narcissa clad once again in her blue velvet robes, and the intention of meeting Severus for tea. The streets were finally starting to clear… ever so slightly. In her mind Narcissa was picturing what she'd get the House Elves to do to her hair, and which colour of eye-shadow she was going to wear.
"Mummy." Draco said clearly. "You still haven't explained why they were angry."
Narcissa looked down at her son and repressed a sigh. "You're right. Where was I?" she asked him, knowing she'd get an accurate and instant response.
"You'd just told me why some wizards didn't want Muggle-borns joining the Wizarding world." he told her with certainty. Narcissa weaved around a group gathered outside the Magical Menagerie who looked far too unclean to be allowed within three metres of her new dress.
"Right. Well. About fifteen years ago, there was a Wizard who gathered together a large group of witches and wizards to try and eradicate Muggle-born wizards and take over the Wizarding world. They called themselves the Death Eaters." she told him. "And they were led by the Dark Lord."
Draco looked enraptured. Narcissa went on to give a very brief description of the war, tactfully leaving out his father's participation in it for a later date. One when they weren't surrounded by people.
"So what did he look like?" Draco asked curiously.
Narcissa gave it a bit of thought and shuddered involuntarily. "Well… last time I saw him, he was pure white with flaky skin. He had red slits for eyes and didn't have a nose. He was a bit taller than a normal human being and he had this high-pitched sort of voice…" Narcissa frowned as she remembered, wondering what had become of that fearsome individual…
"He doesn't sound very attractive." Draco said dismissively. His blasé attitude stunned a laugh out of Narcissa.
"No, no he wasn't." she agreed as they approached the tearoom.
"So what was he the Lord of?" Draco asked as they entered. The tearoom, (ever-so wittily name "Tea Leave") was decorated with highly polished oak floors and dark green leather wing back chairs around small wooden tables. Dark wood panelling graced the walls and there were about a dozen small fireplaces dotted around the room. In front of one of them. Severus was already waiting for them and was, quite predictably, reading a book. "Mother?" Draco tugged her robes. "What was he the lord of?" he repeated as they made their way over to Severus.
"To whom are you referring?" Narcissa asked in confusion.
"You called this person 'the Dark Lord'. So what was he the lord of?" Severus had looked up sharply at the phrase 'Dark Lord' and Narcissa fought down a chuckle.
"He wasn't really a Lord per se Draco, he was just… it was a title he gave himself." she clarified as she stepped towards Severus, giving him a quick kiss on the cheek before taking her seat opposite him. Draco took a chair between the two of them and appeared to be completely oblivious to Snape's presence.
"So people just called him Lord?" Draco asked incredulously.
"No Draco, they called him other things. Like… He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named, or You-Know-Who, or The Dark Lord or… something." Narcissa exchanged a quick eye roll with Severus.
"Well what was his real name?" Draco demanded, just as the waitress came over. Narcissa held up a single, slender finger to silence her son for a moment while she placed their order. "What was his real name?" Draco repeated as soon as the waitress had left the table.
"Why do you want to know?" Narcissa asked him.
"Because." Draco said stubbornly, folding his arms across his chest.
Taking a deep breath and steadying herself as much as possible, Narcissa answered. "His name was Lord Voldemort." she said quietly, but clearly enough so that she wouldn't have to repeat it. "But you are not to use that word." she told him sternly.
"Because," Narcissa mimicked his earlier behaviour. Draco grinned at her joke.
"So what does this Lord person have to do with why everyone was so miserable on Knockturn Alley?" he asked his mother. Severus was not even pretending to read, but rather watching the exchange with barely concealed amusement.
Narcissa inhaled slowly. "Well, three years ago tonight, the Dark Lord was defeated. And some people are still upset about that, so they don't like being reminded."
"Well wouldn't everyone want him defeated?" Draco asked, puzzled. "You said he was pale and scaly with red eyes so wouldn't they be happy to get rid of someone who looks like that? And he's got a stupid name too." Draco said definitively.
Narcissa had pressed both hands firmly against her face and was trying her very hardest not to burst out laughing. Across the table, Severus coughed lightly.
"Draco I think that what your mother is trying to say is that people followed the Dark Lord for his beliefs, not his looks." he told Draco in the gentlest voice Severus Snape actually possessed.
Narcissa could imagine her son's confused look even as she flatly refused to remove her head from her hands. "But… weren't his beliefs dumb?" Draco asked earnestly.
Unable to take anymore, Narcissa threw her head back and cackled.
- - -
It was ten to nine that night when Narcissa was ready for the ball. This, since it started at nine, was fairly punctual in her opinion.
Her hair, nails and skin had all been pampered and polished until she positively glowed, even without make-up or the dress. But with the addition of her gorgeous gown, some light, sheer golden make-up around her eyes and lips, thick dark lashes and the House-elves careful curling of her hair until it flowed down her back in elegant waves, and she was looking rather stunning in her opinion.
She even smelled of Jasmine. The flower of love, grace, elegance and one of the world's best-known aphrodisiacs.
There was of course, the addition of the locket still to go. And she had yet to give Lucius his present. Far more fun for her to let him sulk all day and cheer him up just before they left. He would spend the evening whispering delightedly wicked things in her ear and she would spend the evening shivering in anticipation while every other woman in the room sent her covetous looks.
With that happy thought, Narcissa reached into her jewellery box and pulled out the locket. It was a medium sized oval-shaped locket, nothing terribly special upon first glance. Expensive, yes; tasteful, yes. But nothing remarkable. However the diamonds placed on its front had been specifically placed to represent the position of the stars on the day they'd met. The largest diamond indicated the full moon that had been there that same night. Inside there was not only a picture of her and Lucius on their wedding day, but also a small brass key to Malfoy Manor and enough protection spells to make the Spanish Inquisition turn around and go home without a second thought. It was, Narcissa thought as she pulled it on, perfect in every way. Especially as it now also held a photograph of their son.
Narcissa checked her reflection one last time before she delicately picked up her wand and slid it into a specifically designed hidden pocket at the small of her back. She also took a tiny phial of clear liquid and secreted that away as well. It was the antidote to Veritaserum. And it was something she refused to enter the Ministry of Magic without.
As she realised that they only had five minutes to go before they had to leave for the Ministry, Narcissa decided it was time to make an appearance. She took a deep breath and sashayed out of her dressing room and into the bedroom where Lucius was stood. He was adjusting the neckline of his (black) dress robes when he caught sight of her in the mirror. His eyes widened, his jaw dropped and he appeared to lose the ability to speak. Or, for that matter, move.
Smiling, Narcissa walked over to him and snaked her arms through his. She reached up to his neck and fixed the collar. Looking Lucius reflection in the eye, she perched her chin on his shoulder. "So…" she said coyly. "Do you like my dress?"
"You are a goddess." Lucius managed in a dry whisper. Narcissa placed her hand on his chest and gently turned him around to face her.
"You have an extremely irritated son you know." she told him, placing herself within his, still rather stiff and stupefied, arms.
"Draco?" Lucius asked in alarm. "What's wrong?"
"Well apparently," Narcissa told him, "You promised to build a Quidditch Pitch for him." A pained expression crossed Lucius' face, but before he could say anything Narcissa cut him off. "There is, however, a list of Quidditch Pitch designers on the desk in your study ready for your attention first thing tomorrow."
"What would I do without you?" he commented adoringly.
"Wither and die." Narcissa answered in all seriousness. Lucius bent down and kissed her. A slow, tender and adoring kiss. His mouth, still as talented as ever, almost managed to reduce her to liquid for a moment. Pushing herself against him, Narcissa made a noise of utmost approval with his actions before pulling back. She sighed contentedly. "I have a present for you." she whispered.
"A present? What kind of present?" Lucius asked suspiciously. Narcissa knew he was remembering the time in their youth when he had requested her presence on Valentines Day, and she had offered him a present. The present had landed him in the Hospital Wing.
Narcissa smiled. "Not that kind of present." she assured him. "Close your eyes." Lucius did as instructed. Narcissa pulled out her wand and pointed it at her vault. A few seconds later, Los Tomos Oscuros were laid out on the bed. Satisfied, she put her wand away and turned back to her husband.
"A present I got you today because I know that you don't like Halloween." she told him. "Open your eyes."
Lucius did so and looked at her expectantly. Narcissa tilted her head slightly to indicate the bed. Lucius allowed his gaze to drift over and land upon the bed sheets. Where the twelve black tomes were perched. Their covers bound with iron hinges rather than regular binds and the telltale intricate, Etruscan moon symbol on each and every cover. "Are they… no, they couldn't possibly…" he looked to Narcissa for confirmation. She nodded slowly.
"Los Tomos Oscuros." she assured him. "All twelve. All authenticated. And all yours Lucius."
Lucius looked at the books with an expression akin to awe. Narcissa smiled to herself as he appeared to drift off into another world just looking at them. Then something snapped. He turned back to her, with a focused gaze which didn't indicate any knowledge of the outside world. He grabbed the back of her head and kissed her.
Not like before, not a sweet or adoring kiss. But a rough, thorough and passionate kiss that left her trembling and her spine tingling. She returned it in kind, deeply enjoying herself when…
Ding, ding, ding, ding, ding…
From down the hall the grandfather clock rang out to signal nine o'clock. Furious, Narcissa screamed in frustration. But since her mouth was still pressed against her husband's, it came out rather muffled. Pulling away from her, Lucius grinned. Even after all those years, she knew he never tired of making her that desperate for his touch and prayed to God that he never would. Even after nearly ten years together, he still relished making her scream in frustration.
Knowing that she'd need to quickly redo her hair and make-up before they left, Narcissa sent his bottom lip a longing look.
Lucius' only response was to capture her own with his teeth for a moment, returning her gaze to his eyes. "Tonight." he told her quietly.
"Tonight what?" Narcissa murmured back.
Lucius smirked. "Tonight's the night we're going to start liking Halloween again." he promised her. Narcissa really, truly believed him.