Author: Lady Altair
Title: One Last Lullaby
Warnings: DH spoilers like whoa.
Disclaimer: No characters or settings are mine. They belong to JKR and she is wonderful.
Sweet is the voice of a sister in the season of sorrow.
The Great Hall has long been quiet when Narcissa sees Andromeda.
Her sister is still beautiful after all these years, soft as Bellatrix never was, warm as Narcissa will never be. There is an infant in her arms; her grandchild, Narcissa remembers with a start. The werewolf's son.
When she reaches the middle of the Hall, where they have carefully laid the fallen, Andromeda collapses onto her knees with a keening cry, clutching the small bundle in her arms. He's crying now too, cradled in his grandmother's arms as she sobs desperately beside the cold body of her only daughter, her only child. Their cries echo in the deathly quiet hall, against the false sky above them.
Draco's head is resting on her shoulder, and her robes are wet with his tears. He's so warm against her, and she remembers all those nights when he was new and cried only for her, late in the night when they were alone and she was his world. She thinks of the ugly emptiness she felt when she thought him in danger, thought him dead. And now her older sister sits closer than she has been in more than twenty years, keening in the agony that Narcissa so feared.
Andromeda would have sung to her daughter the same as Narcissa had once sung to Draco. She would've soothed her in thunderstorms and after bad dreams. She would've laughed with her daughter, wiped away tears and healed scraped knees and loved her child as only a mother can love something more a part of her than anything else in the world. She would have loved her daughter as Narcissa loves Draco, feared for her only daughter with every heartbeat as Narcissa feared for her only son.
In only moments, Andromeda's crying has stopped. Andromeda was always the strongest of the Black sisters. If Narcissa had found Draco as Andromeda has found her child…Nymphadora. Her daughter's name is Nymphadora. If she had found her son as Andromeda has found Nymphadora...Narcissa cannot even imagine it without feeling the sucking pull of empty despair. Even the thought of losing him has driven her mad with grief and desperation, but Andromeda sits beside her child's cold body and somehow stems the flow of her tears.
She can only see her sister's curtain of hair now, Andromeda's head bowed and back curled under the weight of her loss, and Narcissa does not know how families can rip themselves apart in such cruel and painful ways.
The Black sisters had loved each other once. Now one lay dead, a victim of her own madness and obsession. One sat on the floor of a world emptied of all meaning but the crying, motherless child in her arms. And one…Narcissa alone has escaped. Not from pain, for she has known much of that, but from the utter devastation that has brought low the last daughters of the Noble and Most Ancient House of Black.
She kisses her son's head, easing herself out and shifting him to his father, who looks at her questioningly. She knows she should be ashamed that her heart cries out for her elder sister, the dishonored blood traitor, but it is Andromeda and Narcissa loves her still and she is alone and shaking in pain on the floor beside her dead daughter.
She ignores Lucius, creeping off to where they have lain out the bodies and where Andromeda still sits. The baby has quieted, curled into his yellow blanket with his hand fisted in Andromeda's long hair.
There is a lullaby in the air. Andromeda has always had such a lovely voice, even now, choked with grief and tears. She sings the lullaby she once sang to her daughter to Nymphadora's son, the lullaby Narcissa sang to Draco in his cradle, the one their mother sang to them so long ago. Andromeda hears her approach, and when she looks up to her younger sister, she doesn't even seem surprised. She just looks back down, gently untangling the baby's hand from her hair when he tries to shove some of it in his mouth, singing to him softly all the while. He smiles at his grandmother, troubled by her tears but soothed by her voice, by the lullaby she has sung to him every night since he was born. She sings to him again, as she will sing to him throughout the rest of her life, but she also sings this last lullaby to her daughter, singing her into the sleep she will never wake from. It is agonizing to watch her, silent tears running down her face, to listen to her beautiful voice, rasped and rough, but Narcissa lets her finish, her sister's last one last song for her baby.
Andromeda's daughter is so sad and beautiful in death that Narcissa wants to scream for this niece she never knew. She is deathly pale and still, lying next to her werewolf husband. Andromeda reaches over and takes her daughter's hand and places it on top of the werewolf's as she lets the last few notes of her final lullaby slip from her lips. Her fingers linger over the limp hand that was once so much smaller, a tiny, miraculously perfect hand that curled around Andromeda's fingers in those sleepless hours when Nymphadora belonged only to her and the night.
There is nothing else to do, nothing to say that can lighten this debilitating grief, and so Narcissa drops to her knees and wraps her broken older sister in her arms without a word.
Andromeda is crying again now, her tears hot on Narcissa's neck, so much hotter than Draco's were. The baby is crying again too, uncomfortable with this strange new person he is pressed against. Narcissa realizes that she is crying as well, and holds her sister as tightly as she dares.
Andromeda has lost everything she once defied her pureblood world for; her husband and daughter have gone somewhere she cannot yet follow. Narcissa will give her something back.
The elder sister cries for what she has lost, for what her grandson will never know. The youngest sister cries for her blindness, for the violence and pain and loss it took to remind her what it means to love, what it is to be a mother. The two sisters cling to each other in the quiet Hall, the last two daughters of a ruined house, two mothers brought back to each other, the last two who once bore the great name of Black.