This idea has been in my head for some time now, but I just haven't gotten to typing it out. Well, I've decided to just see how this goes…and here's chapter one. I really do hope that it goes well.
Disclaimer: I own nothing; it all belongs to JK Rowling.
Chapter One: Birthdays and Invitations
"Andromeda Polaris Black, you will sit down this instant, if you know what's good for you," came the cold, sharp voice, causing the brunette young girl to freeze on the spot.
The golden-haired girl, seated on her right, sighed in relief when her sister complied with their mother's order. She had half thought that the girl would nonchalantly walk out of the dining room without so much as a glance at the stately, well-dressed woman.
"Polaris," muttered the young woman seated on the brunette's left, as she shuddered. "Honestly, mother, what in the name of Merlin possessed you to give us these…these vile excuses for names? Andromeda Polaris…Narcissa Capella…and Bellatrix Electra –" she shuddered again. "-It's a good thing that I was never one to put up with being ridiculed, or I would have been tormented during those seven years at school."
Druella Black, as dark-haired and dark-eyed as her eldest daughter, silenced her with a look; albeit an exasperated one.
"As I was saying," she said with a sharp edge to her voice as she stared at her second daughter, who was silently staring at her, "Today is a very special day for you."
A glimmer of light appeared in the brunette's grey eyes. Is she…saying what I think she's saying? "Today, you are turning, or rather, have turned sixteen."
"Yes," said Andromeda, still not taking her eyes off her mother.
"You know by now, of course, that it is your seventeenth birthday that is of utmost importance, for it is then that you come of age and are expected to be engaged. Not to mention the Coming of Age ball that will be held in your honor…"
Andromeda's hopes – of the possibility of something good happening that day – were dashed almost at once, and she continued to watch her mother, albeit in dread.
"You could be like Bella and get engaged before seventeen, can't you, mother?" questioned fourteen year old Narcissa, as she reached out and squeezed Andromeda's hand underneath the table. The brunette returned the squeeze, but said nothing as black-haired Bella shot her youngest sister an amused look.
"Is there someone you fancy already, Cissy?" she questioned, amusement gleaming in her eyes. "If there is, do tell mother, so that she can plan your engagement and wedding within the next week."
"That is enough, Bellatrix. In any case, I already have some idea of whom Narcissa would be a perfect match for," said Druella Black, in clipped tones, sending her youngest, more timid child a stern glance as she looked as though she would like to know more about it. "And what, may I ask, are you doing here, in your father's house?" Her eyes were cold and hard as she stared at her eldest daughter. "You have a husband, and he most certainly has a house, which is where a good, well-bred wife should be."
"Merlin curse me for deciding to pay my family a visit on my sister's birthday," she said, rolling her eyes and shrugging off the glare her mother sent her for the act – because it clearly wasn't a very Pureblood thing to do.
She knew that their mother could do nothing to her; she had officially been an adult for four years now and had married in to a respectable, wealthy Pureblood family.
Druella scowled at her for a moment, before shifting her attention, once more, to her second daughter; the one who was proving to be quite…rebellious.
"As I was saying before I was interrupted yet again," she said, coolly, "since today is your sixteenth birthday, we have planned a surprise function for you. It-"
"-Well it's not a 'surprise function' anymore, is it?" snorted Bellatrix.
"-will start at exactly seven forty five this evening-"
"-and how many seconds should we add to that immaculate, perfect time?"
"-Of course, being the reason for the ball, you will have to make a grand entrance-"
"-Which means that you will be dressed in such a manner that you will attract the attention of all the eligible men in the room-"
"-you will be introduced to many of the young sons from respectable Pureblood families who are worthy-"
"-In other words, Andy, my dear, by the end of this 'surprise ball' you can rest assured that you will find yourself engaged to one of the 'young sons' and whatnot."
"Bellatrix Electra Lestrange!" exclaimed Druella, shrilly, thoroughly fed up with her daughter's interruptions. The woman in question just blinked at her mother.
"What? I was only giving her a summary of what you were no doubt going to tell her," she said, as innocently as she could. Druella noticed the corners of Andromeda's mouth twitching upward and glared at her as well.
Raising her chin, she sniffed, just as the house-elf appeared with more sandwiches for Narcissa.
"Very well. As you have been…informed of everything already, you are free to leave. But remember the time, and as for the appropriate clothing…well, you will be given that later in the afternoon." She nodded at the house-elf. "Plimby will bring to you everything that you will need."
Without another word, Andromeda pushed her chair back and left the dining room.
Malfoy Manor, later in the day:
"And of course, with that, there will come the – Lucius, given your upbringing, I should have hoped that you would at least have the common sense to try and look as though you are listening to me."
The pale-yellow haired young man had the decency to look embarrassed as he raised his grey eyes to meet his father's cold blue.
"Forgive me, father," he said, quickly hiding his embarrassment. "My mind…wandered."
Abraxas Malfoy felt his lips twitch at his son's words, but he hid it well.
"Your mind seems to wander a fair bit as of late," he said, instead, managing to keep his voice aloof. Lucius shrugged gracefully.
"I am young, father, with all the time in the world to learn and achieve."
Abraxas was biting the inside of his lower lip by this point.
"Youth is not something to be taken for granted, son. It has the curious ability of being spent all too quickly."
Lucius nodded slowly.
"Which is why, I suppose, I did not find myself capable of paying attention to whatever it was that you were speaking of," he said, lazily.
Abraxas was not able to stop the chuckle that escaped his lips this time, as his mirth grew at the perplexed expression his twenty year old son was sending him.
He managed to control his mirth a moment later – he was a Malfoy after all – even though he was still amused.
"Would I be right in guessing that the wandering that your mind was doing had something to do with a member of the opposite gender?"
Lucius looked startled for a moment, before the nonchalant expression was back on his face.
"You might be right," he said, "For my mind certainly does not wander – in the manner you are no doubt implying – to where those of my own gender are concerned."
Abraxas smiled wryly, before silence fell amongst father and son. He took the opportunity to observe his only child. He was tall and slender, with smooth pale blond hair that was tied back in a low ponytail – all of which he had inherited from him, of course. The one thing that he seemed to have inherited from his mother – along with his sharper features – was his sharp grey eyes.
He was a very good-looking young man, and very wealthy too. There was no doubt that he would not have a hard time when the time came to select a good, Pureblood wife.
"Would I know the young lady?" he questioned, casually, although it was done to hide his interest. Of course, all healthy Malfoy men constantly thought of those of the opposite gender – heck, all healthy men did – and sometimes had mistresses…but something told him that this wasn't the case with his son.
Lucius stared thoughtfully at his father for a moment, before shrugging.
"You probably would," he said. "She is a Pureblood."
"Ah." There was another pause. "I will not be getting any more than that out of you, will I?" Lucius smirked.
"I do not think you will," he agreed.
"Well then, I-" Abraxas looked to his right when the house-elf appeared in the study, bowing low first to him and then to his son. "Ah, Dobby. Was there something you needed?"
The still relatively young house-elf shook his head slowly.
"No, master, but Dobby has a letter. Letter for the young master," added the excitable house-elf, when Abraxas reached out for the letter.
"Oh." He nodded at the house-elf who bowed low once more as he moved to his son.
"Plimby just delivered it, young master," he said. A quick glance at his father showed the man raising his eyebrows, and, with an inward scowl, Lucius knew that his father was putting two and two together. He all but snatched the letter from the house-elf, giving him a curt nod.
"You may go." With another bow, the house-elf was gone with a sudden 'crack'. He spared the envelope a quick glance, curious as to what its contents would be, before looking back at his father, feigning disinterest in the thing he held – rather firmly – in his hands.
Abraxas suddenly found himself biting his lip once more.
"Plimby…?" he questioned, eyebrows still raised.
Lucius nodded slowly.
"Yes, I believe that was what Dobby said."
"And…why would Plimby be hand-delivering letters to the Malfoy Manor?"
"…It could be because he – or she – was asked to," said Lucius, sarcastically, "but then again, I am not too sure of that." He shrugged. "I do not even know who – or what – this…Plimby is."
Handsome Abraxas allowed a moment's silence to pass between them as he fought to gain control of his amusement.
"I believe Plimby is a house-elf," he said, delighted that his tone was casual. "A house-elf, or the house-elf rather in the service of Mrs. Black."
Lucius, to his credit, did not show his discomfort at all.
"I do wonder what Mrs. Black desires of me, in that case," he said.
"Mayhap Plimby was sent, not by Mrs. Black herself, but by one of her children…?"
Lucius feigned puzzlement.
"Oh." He paused. "I must admit that I do not know young Sirius very well. I was in my last year at Hogwarts when he started." He shrugged, looking disinterested. "Anyway, what was it that you were saying, father?"
Now highly amused and desiring to ruffle his son's feather's a bit, Abraxas was not to be put off.
"Ah, my mistake Lucius, when I said that Plimby was in the employment of Mrs. Black, I did not mean Walburga Black. I meant Druella Black."
His son tensed slightly.
"In light of which, Plimby might just as well have been sent by one of her children, for Druella never fails to send the family owl, Bartaemios, with her letters."
"True." Lucius knew that he had to get out of this…sticky situation. "I am sure that it cannot be very important, in any case." He shrugged once more for good measure, missing the twinkling of his father's ice blue eyes. "It is probably a letter from Bellatrix – or rather, Mrs. Lestrange, concerning dinner…or something of the sort. We were on amicable terms while attending Hogwarts."
Of course, if Abraxas had not been in such a slyly mischievous mood, he would have nodded and left it at that. But, unfortunately, he was in such a mood.
"Oh yes, I know that the two of you got along civilly. She was one year above you, was she not?" Lucius nodded. "But Bellatrix would not send Plimby with a letter from her. Would that not be rather…strange, given the amount of house-elves employed in the Lestranges' service?"
Lucius forcefully stopped the flush from spreading across his naturally pale face.
"That is true," he agreed, somewhat reluctantly.
"So then you agree that the letter must be from one of Bellatrix' sisters?"
"I-" the young man closed his mouth. "Father, it is just a letter. I fail to see why it is so important to-" Abraxas' warm chuckle cut him off, causing him to stare at his father, perplexed.
"Ah, Lucius," he said, as he wiped a tear from his eye. "You are so very easy to embarrass, my son. It was highly amusing."
Lucius glared at his father. "Although I must give you credit for your calm handling of it; that was admirable."
"I – er, thank you?" He was not sure if it was a compliment or not. Abraxas laughed once more, waving a hand dismissively.
"It matters not, Lucius, of any…affairs that you have with the Black girls," he said. "I encourage it, in fact, although I must ask you not to treat any such affair as a common dalliance."
"Father, I-" Abraxas raised a hand, stopping him.
"-Do not deny it, my boy, for I am not blind. In any case, the two girls in question – whichever one it is – come from an ancient line of respectable, wealthy and well-bred Purebloods. I only ask that you treat the girl well; we do not want to be making enemies of the Blacks."
Lucius stared hard at his father, an impassive expression on his face as he did so.
"You need not worry about…that, father," he said, quietly. Abraxas stared at his son for a brief moment before nodding. "Well, father, I am feeling somewhat…tired. I think I will go up to my rooms, if that is alright with you?" He did not like the all too familiar smirk on his father's lips.
"You could read the letter here – I would not pry – but…if you insist that you are tired…"
"Father!" Flushing hotly this time, Lucius spun on his heel and headed towards the door, thoroughly embarrassed.
"Lucius…" he paused at the door. "Do you love her?"
"…I will see you later, father," was all the reply he got, as the door was shut behind him. Abraxas stared at the door for a long moment, before relaxing into his comfortable chair, a smile on his face.
I will see how things go…and then inform Druella…for it is too soon to think of anything now.
The moment he was in his room, comfortably settled on the large bed, Lucius swiftly opened the envelope, taking out the folded parchment. Instead of opening at once, he stared at the folded item for a moment, wondering at the suddenly quick beating of his heart.
Father was right. It…would not be Bellatrix who sent Plimby, he thought, logically, she would send one of Rodolphus' owls – not a house-elf.
He frowned. It must, indeed, be…well…it certainly cannot be the youngest. I cannot see why Narcissa would write to me. If I didn't know any better, I would say that she is intimidated by my presence.
He couldn't help but smirk at the thought of the petite golden haired girl. I suppose I must come across as intimidating to a fourteen year old.
His eyes were still on the folded sheet of parchment.
It has to – it must be her. It cannot be anyone else. There is no one else in that house who would write to me. He paused his thoughts, but why would she be writing to me…? She has spurned my…advances, repeatedly, over the years…
His heartbeat quickened as his mind conjured up an image of an infinitely pretty, soft-eyed brunette; the same one he had had an eye on for many a year, having watched her grow from a cute child to a pretty young girl.
There I go again, sounding like I am fifty. I am only four years older than her, dammit. He shrugged, clearing his mind of all thought, and opened the letter.
He was disappointed almost immediately, when he found that it was from Druella Black, but he read the letter anyway.
Grey eyes widened as he took in its contents. It was not a letter; it was an invitation. To a ball. Held in honor of—
"Yes, young master?" Lucius was halfway inside his massive wardrobe, sorting through the various items in it.
"Tell father – and mother – to cancel our dinner plans for tonight," came his muffled voice. "We – what on earth…is this even supposed to be an item of clothing? Rubbish! Anyway, Dobby, tell them that we have been invited to the Blacks' – not Orion and Walburga, the other Blacks' – for Dromeda's…I mean, Andromeda's birthday celebrations."
Lucius appeared in Dobby's view, looking disgruntled and sending his wardrobe one quick glare before turning his attention to the house-elf. "Right. So…go and tell mother and father what I just said. We'll be going to the Blacks' tonight, to celebrate Miss. Black's sixteenth birthday."
"As you wish, young master," said Dobby, bowing.
"Oh, and Dobby?"
"Yes, young master?"
"Tell father that Mrs. Black was the one who sent Plimby with the invitation."
Well, that's just the first chapter! It was long, I know…but I can't seem to shorten my work recently…not without feeling like I'm cutting important chunks out. Oh well. I will do my best to make sure that the rest of the chapters aren't as long as this!
A few things to clarify – namely the ages – so…as of this chapter, the ages of the important characters are;
Bellatrix: Twenty one
Narcissa: Fourteen (I am most certainly wrong, but I had imagined her as being a fair number of years younger than Lucius…so I just went along with that. Like I said, I could certainly be wrong…)
Sirius: Thirteen (along with the Marauders and Snape and Lily)
Rodolphus: Twenty three
That's about all I can think of for now…and that's about it for this chapter! Hope you enjoyed it.
Till next time,