Bitter Cold

It was bitterly cold the day Andromeda left. Narcissa knows; she followed her into the garden, pleading with her to stay.

Andromeda looked her in the eye, told her she would always love her, but she had to go. Had to.

(If you loved me, you'd have stayed.)

All these years later, Narcissa closes her eyes, wondering why the memory has returned, when she spent so long blocking it from her consciousness.

Andromeda is no longer her sister. Not, not really, because she married a muggle-born. Narcissa could have forgiven that. But because Andromeda left, Andromeda assumed that Narcissa wouldn't accept her, that she would stay with the family and the old values, just like she was expected to.

Do you always do what you're expected to?

It was bitterly cold the day Bella became a Death Eater. Narcissa knows; Bella came home shortly after receiving the mark, and opened the door, bringing the cold with her. Narcissa was stood in the hall, so felt the cold wrap around her, as Bella met her gaze with pride and the beginnings of madness.

(If you hadn't become this, I would have loved you.)

She showed her the mark, expecting Narcissa to be proud, thrilled. She assumed that Narcissa would be pleased to have a Death Eater in the family. Expected her to show no fear, to gasp in awe.

Did you do what was expected of you?

It was bitterly cold the day she married Lucius. Narcissa remembers. She stood outside the huge, impressive home she'd grown up in, wearing the white wedding robes that had been in her family for generations, a blood-red shawl around her shoulders, smiling for the photos.

(They made me do it, but I grew to love you.)

She was expected to marry a pure-blood, and Lucius' family were one of the richest, oldest, pure-blood families in the country. She was expected to marry the best, to smile for the photos, bear a son, play the perfect wife.

Why do you always do what is expected?

It was bitterly cold the day she had Draco. Narcissa remembers Lucius opening a window, because she was too hot from the strain of labour. The cold air swept in gladly, and for a moment it was welcome – then it was too cold, and she ordered Lucius to close the window before their son was harmed.

(You were mine, so I loved you.)

She was expect to have a son, expected to give him a traditional name, expected to love him, spoil him, give him the best of everything.

Let me guess, you did what was expected?

Narcissa was bitterly cold as she looked down at the lifeless body of her niece. Andromeda's daughter is dead, killed by her own estranged aunt. Narcissa looks down at the young, innocent face, and for a moment, wishes things were different.

(If she had stayed, I would have loved you.)

She longed, for a moment, to hold the young girl, because someone ought to cradle her, to hug her one last time, to whisper that she was loved and hope that the girl heard. But Narcissa was expected not to care, expected to leave the body, to return to the Dark Lord.

Do you regret doing what was expected?

Narcissa was still bitterly cold as she stood in the woods, waiting for Voldemort to kill the boy, waiting to go into the castle and find her son, hoping against all hope that he was still alive. They couldn't take her son. He couldn't. She looked at the creature, at Voldemort, feeling nothing but hate.

(They may have done, but I never loved you.)

She hopes he loses, hopes he dies.

But that's not what they expected.

Narcissa was colder still as she leaned over the lifeless body of Harry Potter, the boy whose mother died to save him. The boy the same age as her son. The boy who'd seen and done far too much.

(Your mother loved you. If you were mine, she'd have saved you.)

Narcissa is warmer when she lies.

That's not expected.

Narcissa is warmer as she seeks Draco in the crowd, as she sees him, alive.

(You are still mine, I still love you.)

Narcissa is warmer as she watches Bella die, and feels no grief as she looks down at the empty shell.

(Long ago, sister, I stopped loving you.)

Narcissa is warmer as Draco slips his arms around her waist, hugs her like desperate child.

(So, my son, you love your mother.)

Narcissa is warmer as Lucius puts his arm over her shoulders, tells her it's over.

(From the beginning, you loved me.)

Narcissa is warmer as Harry Potter meets her gazes, and mouths his thanks.

(I do not love you, but I'm glad you survived.)

And Narcissa knows it will not be bitterly cold when she goes to Andromeda, as she knows she must.

(You didn't stay, but do you love me?)

(I love, I love, I love.)