"When did you decide to betray the Dark Lord?"
I blinked and looked up at the man whose arms were wrapped tightly around me. My husband and I were in the library of our Manor, enjoying some time being free for the first time in years. Lucius' cool grey eyes glinted in the firelight as he waited for my answer.
My mind traveled back to that night in the Forbidden Forest…
"You." The Dark Lord pointed a long, pale finger in my direction. "Examine him. Tell me whether he is dead."
Lucius' grip tightened for a moment before he let go of my hand. I approached Harry Potter cautiously—but I could already see as I kneeled down beside him that he was alive. He faked death well as I examined him by pulling back an eyelid and feeling his chest; but he could not stop his heart from beating.
But I did not call out to the others—instead I pretended to continue searching for signs of life as I leaned closer to him so my hair covered his face.
"Is Draco alive?" I breathed. "Is he in the castle?"
"Yes." My heart swelled with hope. I could still save my son—our family could still survive this war.
"He is dead!"
I had not, however, decided to betray the Dark Lord at that moment. That would have been careless. There had already been a seed of treachery somewhere inside me, buried somewhere in the past…
"Let's see…Lucius, I see no reason for you to have a wand anymore." My husband looked up, his skin yellowish, his eyes dead. Azkaban had not done well for him, and now we were little more than prisoners in our own Manor.
"Your wand, Lucius. I require your wand."
Lucius glanced at me, and I touched his wrist to urge him to retrieve his wand and hand it over to the Dark Lord. He passed it to the Dark Lord and told him what the wand was of—elm with dragon heartstring. The Dark Lord then proceeded to humiliate our family. Draco and I said nothing, but felt the sting of the laughter and the words hissed at us.
Overeager Bella, dear Bella, had insisted, "My Lord, it is an honor to have you here, in our family's house. There can be no higher pleasure."
The Dark Lord had used this comment as a way to further humiliate the Malfoys and my sister. He tormented us with the fact that our niece had married a werewolf. Honestly, who cared? We were not in contact with her at all. It was strange how the Malfoys and Bellatrix, once among the most valued members of the Dark Lord's inner circle, were now little more than a means for cruel entertainment for the Dark Lord and his followers.
And I hated the lot of them. The Dark Lord, the Death Eaters, and all of his followers. I hated what they had done to my sister (though she may have deserved it), my husband, my son, and me.
I wondered how the Dark Lord had never sensed that hatred. Was he so focused on everyone else in the room that he had forgotten that I existed? Was my mind not worthy of being closely watched? He had been a fool—if he had looked for one moment during that meeting, he would have predicted the treacherous behavior that was sure to come. He could have kept himself in power if he had killed me.
But he had not. He had not had any inkling of my true feelings. Perhaps I was not as bad at Occlumency as I had thought. Bella had been trying to help me guard my thoughts and emotions…
"Finally," Bella said exasperatedly. "You blocked me."
I slumped into a chair in the library. "Why are we doing this again? I mean, I'm grateful, but—."
"Because you trust Severus Snape, and I don't."
"He proved his loyalties already, Bella, remember?"
Bella tossed a dark lock of hair over her shoulder. "That does not mean I trust him. He is a skilled Occlumens, Cissy. How else could he get by as a professor at Hogwarts? And those who are good at Occlumens are that much more likely to be a skilled Legilimens."
"And that's dangerous," I finished.
"I trust him, Bella."
Bella sighed and looked out a nearby window. Her eyes suddenly widened and she became alert. "The battle is over!"
I rushed to her side to see the shadows of figures approaching the manor. One was more easily visible than the rest, his blond hair shining in the moonlight. "Draco!" I gasped, tears filling my eyes. "He did it, he's all right!" My eyes moved to the tall man who was walking alongside him, almost lost in the darkness. "Bless you, Severus."
I ignored Bella and rushed to open the front door for them. Never mind house-elves, my son was alive and home. Draco and Severus were first, and for a while, I did not look beyond them.
"Draco!" Normally Draco would have pulled away from my eager embrace, embarrassed, but instead Draco returned it.
"It's done." I looked up at Severus, whose dark eyes bore into mine in such a way I believed that he might have been delving into my mind.
When I finally let go of Draco, I startled Severus by throwing my arms around him. "Thank you," I whispered in his ear. I kissed his cheek as I pulled away. Severus blinked, staring at me in surprise as I smiled at him. He did not return the smile, but he did nod politely as he walked into the Manor after Draco.
It was then that I saw that there were others following.
The Dark Lord, the Death Eaters—I had soon discovered that the Malfoy Manor was to become the headquarters for the Dark Lord. Obviously I was not pleased with that arrangement. But what could I do but stand aside and allow the Dark Lord to take over my home? I had no control over what the Dark Lord did…
Draco was screaming in pain. I stood by silently, pretending to be proud. But I knew that the Dark Lord was only branding my son with the Dark Mark to punish Lucius for his failure at the Ministry. The Dark Lord did not even bother to try and get my husband out of Azkaban. He wanted Lucius to wither away as my son came closer and closer to death each day in his attempts to do the impossible…
And though I never allowed myself to admit it out loud, or even to myself, I hated the Dark Lord for it.
I never wanted Draco to be a part of the war. When it came to it, I did not want Lucius to be part of it either. I never thought it would happen again; I never thought that the Dark Mark would burn and call my husband to the Dark Lord's side. The Dark Lord was supposed to be dead.
"Lucius, dear? Are you coming to bed?"
I was wearing black silk nightgown Lucius had bought for me for Christmas. It was very revealing—which was perfect. I was trying to distract my husband. He had been becoming distant and overworked lately, and I hoped that somehow I would help…I hated him being like this. "It's getting late," commented when Lucius said nothing.
Lucius stood and walked over to me. His eyes were not looking me over as I expected, nor even looking at me with love, and I began to worry that it was more than work driving him away from me…but surely he was not having an affair….
He kissed me lightly. "I'm afraid this work needs to be done tonight, my love." His fingers brushed tenderly over my cheek, but I was beginning to fear that the motion was meaningless to him.
"Is something wrong, Lucius?" I asked timidly.
"Besides too much work and the idiot of a Minister we have?" His smile was fake.
"You've just been rather…distant lately." I stepped backwards slightly as I said this, almost afraid of him. That was silly, being afraid of my own husband…
Lucius suddenly stepped forward and cupped my cheek before kissing me with the same fiery passion as our first kiss. I melted.
It seemed like hours before he pulled away, leaving me completely breathless; he had not kissed me like that in months. "I love you, Narcissa. No matter what happens, know that."
The wording caught my attention. "You make it sound as though something bad is going to happen."
Lucius gazed at me as I tried to think of what he could mean. He appeared to be considering whether or not to tell me something. He glanced down at his left arm.
I was not sure why he was looking at his arm like that. I knew that the Dark Mark had previously been there, but since the Dark Lord fell the Mark had faded. I rolled up his sleeve, fear suddenly overtaking me as I did so.
And there it was. The skull with a serpent protruding from its mouth.
I jumped back as though burned. "He cant—it can't be." No, the Dark Lord could not be back; he was supposed to be dead.
Lucius wrapped his arms around me and held me to his chest as he whispered a few words of comfort. His embrace was reassuring to me—I felt safe. "I love you," he said earnestly.
Lucius suddenly stepped away from me, staring at his arm, his grey eyes wide. He looked up at me, his eyes filled with dread. The Dark Lord had returned.
Lucius had told me again that he loved me and then left to rejoin the Dark Lord. He had to, after all. Failure to heed the Dark Lord's call, or any of his orders, would mean death for him and most likely his family.
I remembered when I had first seen Lucius' Dark Mark. He had been bursting with pride in almost a childlike cheerfulness. He was more than a follower, then—he was a favorite, like my eldest sister.
"I told you the Dark Lord was wonderful," Bella said, elbowing me. "Didn't I, Cissy?" I sighed and did not answer, tracing the Dark Mark on my husband's arm. "So when are you joining him?"
Bella was half-joking when she asked me this, but Lucius took the remark seriously. "Never!" he snapped, his eyes suddenly cold. "Narcissa is pregnant—she's not about to risk our child fighting for anything."
Bella held up her hands in surrender. "Sorry, I wasn't serious. I know she's pregnant."
Lucius was so excited—he was favored by the Dark Lord because of his blood, his wealth, his family…I tried to be happy for him, for us, for what Bella called our "good fortune." But my unborn child…what sort of world would he be born into, and what sort of family would raise him?
I did not desire for my son to live in the world the Dark Lord planned to create. I still wish that Draco had never been a part of the war. I had worried about Lucius all the time, though I never told him. But he knew how I felt, just the same, for I had not always watched my tongue so carefully.
"You had the dream again," Lucius said quietly, taking my hands in his as he kneeled before me in the Slytherin common room. I nodded, looking at him, both worried and embarrassed that he was seeing me like this. But he was so kind—he never made a joke when I was frightened, even though it was only a nightmare. "It isn't real, Narcissa," he insisted, stroking me cheek.
"But it might be real," I counted, knowing that I probably sounded foolish. "It could happen. I know you—you're going to join him as soon as you leave here!"
Lucius shook his head. "No, no, I'm not."
"But you want to be a Death Eater." Lucius frowned at my disapproving tone. I obviously did not want to disappoint my family or oppose the Dark Lord, but I did not want to become one of his inner circle.
Lucius shook his head. "The dream won't happen."
Yet parts of the dream had happened. Lucius had been wasting away in prison, as I had dreamed before. I had also feared that he would die, or worse, suffer the Dementor's Kiss. I could not remember a time that I had not cared for Lucius.
I looked at my sisters, Bella and Andromeda, both sitting at the Slytherin table. I was suddenly worried that perhaps I would not be sorted into Slytherin. If I did not…I would never hear the end of it from my mother and Bella, I knew it. Andromeda would probably be the only one who would talk to me…
Sitting on the stool, I slowly placed the Sorting Hat on my head. It fell almost over my eyes, blocking my sisters from view. But I could still see some of the younger students. My eyes locked on one blond boy. He turned away from a friend he had been talking to, a grin still on his face as he looked up at me as I waited for the hat's decision. His grey eyes seemed to sparkle as the hat shouted, "SLYTHERIN!"
The boy's eyes lit up as he clapped, arching an eyebrow as he watched me sit down by the other first-year who had been sorted into Slytherin so far. When I dared to look toward the boy, he was talking amongst his friends again. I just barely managed to look away in time as he turned back to the sorting.
At least, I think he didn't notice me watching him…
But even then, my first year at Hogwarts, I had fallen for him—cared for him.
My life before that had been dark and gloomy; I was always in the shadows of my elder sisters. But life at Hogwarts and with my friends there had been so much more. But the Dark Lord took that life away…
"I never decided to betray him," I said softly. Lucius' brow furrowed inquisitively as he ran a hand through my hair.
"Your actions caused him to lose."
I shook my head, smiling softly. Yes, my actions had caused the Dark Lord's downfall, or at least greatly aided it. But I had never betrayed the Dark Lord.
"I was never loyal to him."
Lucius gazed at me incredulously for a few moments before a slow smile spread across his face. "I love you, Narcissa," he said quietly before lowering his face and kissing me passionately, sending my mind to our first kiss, back in time…