This is in response to Pipperstorms' Christmas in July challenge on HPFF, but I decided to wait until Christmastime to post it here. The title of the story is the title of the song which is featured in this one-shot. It was written by me, but the tune is to Christ Child Lullaby, which I do not own.
It was no different than any other day or time of the year, for it was but the weather that had the ability to bring change upon them. Change that they would grow accustomed to soon enough, and it would be as though nothing had ever occurred. This was how it had been before, and was always supposed to be thereafter. Yet this was not how it had become. Things had changed, and change they would still until stopped abruptly in their tracks.
Yet for now, Narcissa mused, she would let them change, and perhaps some things would stay as they were.
Her pale hands rested upon the arms of the chair in which she sat, her silvery gaze fixed upon the window. The velvet curtains were pulled aside that day, secured by a tassel. She could see the gentle flakes of white floating down just beyond the glass, though those which drifted further from it could not be distinguished from the dark night which had settled upon the manor.
Narcissa smiled. Her son–their son–had grown so quickly; his sixth birthday was approaching, yet it felt as though they should have been preparing to celebrate his first. His first steps. His first words. Before she realized the time that had passed, he would have had many more firsts already: his first Hogwarts letter; his first love. His own first child.
She remembered how things had been before. The manor was always dark: a somber place so vast that not even the affection she felt for her husband could fill it. It had been quiet, as well, yet not peaceful. It had been empty. They had been empty. It had not stayed that way for long.
Narcissa could remember the day the manor had ceased to be but a grandiose building, and had become a home.
She had awakened to a sickness churning within her stomach one morning. It had been dizzying, yet she had been careful not to make a sound, for she did not wish to disturb her still-slumbering husband. As she stumbled into the bathroom, however, her insides had heaved, and Lucius had called out to her, startled from sleep by the sound.
She had not responded. She had simply grasped for her wand with shaking fingers, and had performed the spell that her mother had taught her the night before her wedding.
And it had been just as she had suspected–and hoped.
"Lucius," she had murmured, her voice hardly rising above a whisper.
She had swallowed, wiping her mouth, and nearly tripped over her own feet as she returned to her bedchamber. For the first time in many days, her lips had curled into a broad smile, and her cheeks glowed as they had only done in the early years of her childhood. Her husband had eyed her warily, noticeably startled.
Then she had smoothed the creases of her satin dressing gown, suddenly shy, and had said, "Lucius, I am with child."
He had blinked, then his features had spread into a grin that had matched her own. That had been the first day he had drawn the curtains back. The first day that the summer sun had streamed in, lighting every corner of the room, and the first time their emptiness had slowly begun to decrease.
To Narcissa, it could have been only yesterday, at a stretch, the day before. There had not been many memories she had cherished then, and though her heart was now brimming with an abundance of them, she still held this above most.
And now, nearly six glorious years later, it was Christmas Eve. Ever since Draco's birth, the manor had been transformed each winter. The staircases were laden with garlands, and enormous fir trees were brought inside, each one decorated lavishly, yet none were ever the same. Candles were enchanted to remain lit, and the fires in each of the many fireplaces smelled always of cinnamon and nutmeg. The finest feast that could be bought was laid upon their table, and Lucius–though never had he admitted to it–made sure that enough snow had collected behind the manor for their son to play in. Indeed, only this morning, she had glimpsed him through their bedroom window, banishing large drifts to where Draco could easily access them.
She smiled at the memory. It had taken much effort to drag the small boy inside that evening when it had come time to dine. Narcissa supposed that outside he had returned after refusing his meal, and that Dobby was with him now. Yet he would grow tired soon, she knew, and decided that she should put him to bed.
She pulled her dressing gown closer to her slender frame, and descended the stairs, pausing fondly at one point to trace her fingers across a sprig of holly.
Draco's first Christmas had marked the first year she had not attended the Black family holiday gathering. It had been decided that an infant did not belong at such an event, and Lucius had been obliged to remain home with his wife. In truth, it had been Narcissa herself to convince her mother of the inappropriateness of Draco's attendance, for she had wanted nothing more than to spend a warm Christmas with her new family. One gathering missed would not matter; they would attend after Draco became more independent. After all, it was at one such event that Lucius and Narcissa had met.
When she reached the bottom of the stairs, she took her husband's coat and braced herself for the blast of cold that would greet her when she opened the back door.
Six years ago, they had known nothing of how to prepare for the holiday season, for they had both been accustomed to everything being done before their arrival. That Christmas, she reflected, it had been she and not Dobby that had copiously decorated every centimeter of the manor. She had wanted Draco's first Christmas to be special. Lucius had called her foolish; she later caught him fondly doing the same.
The result, however, had not come even near to the splendor of the Black family home. It was, with little doubt, as though the Malfoy Manor had been overrun by holiday plants. She had been tearful and frustrated, yet Lucius had told her that it had its own elegance. Draco had been captivated by the way the silvery tinsel caught the candlelight.
Narcissa stepped out into the December night, surprised to find less of a chill to it than she expected. Above, patches of stars could be glimpsed through the clouds. She squinted as a small figure approached her, carrying a lantern which cast a sort of glow upon the snow.
"Mistress Malfoy, ma'am," Dobby said with a bow. His teeth were chattering. "The young Master is being over there. Dobby is telling him to go inside, but young Master says he is not to be listening. Dobby is thinking he and young Master is catching a cold, ma'am!"
She nodded. "Go inside and set out Draco's nightclothes before you freeze," she said by way of thanks.
The house elf bowed once more, and obeyed. Cast in darkness, Narcissa conjured another lantern and ignited it with her wand. It bobbed beside her in the air as she walked.
"Draco," she cooed, waiting. A moment later, her son emerged from behind a large bank of snow, his cheeks pleasantly red.
"Hello Mother," he muttered, his voice forlorn, for she knew he did not wish to return to the manor.
"Come, my son," she coaxed, holding out her hand. "It is time for you to go to bed."
He stuck out his bottom lip in a pout. "I don't want to go to bed!" he protested. "I want to stay out here in the snow!"
Narcissa smiled, edging closer to him, and her regarded her warily, aware of her intentions. "But you must go to bed," she told him, "or else Father Christmas will not come."
Draco looked shocked for a moment, then his eyes brightened with delight. He rushed forward and grasped her hand. "Come on, Mother!" he cried with urgency. "I must go to bed, or Father Christmas won't come!" He began to awkwardly run through the snow–which had become quite deep–and Narcissa followed, taking lengthy strides to match his pace. Once inside, his coat and boots had scarcely been removed before he bounded up the stairs.
Yes, Narcissa thought, her son made them complete. Even the darkness was dispersed by the illumination he created in their lives. She skipped the first two steps as she had done as a young girl, and started after him.
When she reached his bedchamber, she discovered him already nestled within the blankets upon his bed. He had extinguished the lamps, and his pyjamas had fallen to the floor in his haste. Narcissa chuckled and bent to pick them up. She could see Draco watching her through a single opened eye as she did so.
"Here," she said softly, "Mother will help you with your pyjamas."
Reluctantly, the boy slid from his bed, and Narcissa dressed him in his nightclothes. The green and silver scarf which she unwrapped from his neck was littered with small flakes of snow, still unmelted and perfect.
"Perfect," she murmured, and cast a quick drying spell upon his sheets, for it seemed that he had brought much more of it inside than either of them had thought. His light blonde hair was still damp from the burrowing she imagined he must have done. She pulled his sodden socks from his small feet and helped him into bed.
He lay there for several minutes, until suddenly he proclaimed, "Mother, I can't sleep."
Narcissa stroked his hair tenderly, smoothing it from his forehead. "You must try," she soothed, and parted her lips. A soft song came forth: an old lullaby, the only one she knew.
"My flesh, my bones, my prideful blood
Are mirrored as I know they should
My child, such elegance of old
Softly now may dreams unfold
The purity within our veins
You must flaunt and shall never feign
Hold your head aloft and look
Not at life but lives you took
And within these walls you will grow
To understand what you must know:
Only one of founders four
Did not betray like Gryffindors
There they slumber upon this night
And for once, you shall share their plight
As you wait for morning to dawn
For after that you must go on
They share not in your happiness
For parcels, fir trees, and Christmas
Are made to hang their heads in shame
In envy of the Malfoy name."
Narcissa frowned, then looked upon her son's face. His eyelids were lightly shut, yet she could see that he slumbered. She was thankful for this, for he had not been long enough awake to hear the words of the song. For that night alone, she disagreed with the ancient message which all Purebloods ingrained into the minds of their children. It was Christmas Eve, and for once, she reasoned that they could be the same as everyone else.
She smiled to herself and descended the stairs once more to help Lucius arrange the parcels beneath the Christmas tree.