Title: More than Blood
Summary: Lucius Malfoy was more than just a Death Eater. How easy it was to forget that.
Author's Note: ohmaigawd, yes. I am so avoiding Speak Softly. And, uhm, everything else.
More Than Blood
Sometimes when Narcissa looked at Lucius, she saw something else.
Not a marriage of privilege, though it was certainly that. And, of course, there was the blood to think about—toujours pur, because the purity was not debatable—but a phrase other than the Black Family motto had been drilled into her head, a phrase that Narcissa had never imagined she could associate with herself.
Bella would have laughed. Married or not, Bella would have laughed. Oh, Cissy, you're being ridiculous, she would say, voice obnoxiously sing-song and condescending. It's only for the blood, after all.
Narcissa knew differently. She knew differently because Andromeda had taught her differently, despite the way the family had blasted her name out of existence the moment her fingers wrapped around that muggleborn man and refused to let go. Narcissa had seen, then, the lengths people would go to just to ensure their own happiness, and she had learned.
It was really no surprise she had chosen Lucius. Blood, power, money. He had it all. But time had passed and while blood and money were everything it still was not enough and circumstances had to change. Remaining the same was just… foolish. Forward progress needed to be made and it had. Nine aggravating and painful months later, a screaming little hellion had entered the world and Narcissa thought she could understand just why Andromeda was so desperate to hang on, because if Narcissa had been gifted with a child as beautiful as Draco, she would have held on, too.
The war had been something out of a nightmare. Not actively participating but not actively rejecting the ideals, Narcissa watched as the marriage of more than just privilege and blood morphed, changing from a cool and aloof distance to there-there-always-there. Draco was almost unbearable at times, but he was the apple of his father's eye and Narcissa knew she was not mistaking the gleam of pride that turned Lucius's gaze from liquid to molten whenever he held his tiny son in his hands, stared down into those big, gleaming silver eyes. There was no mistaking the small touches of affection he would bestow upon her, hands stained red with the ideals of others but never noticing the scars left in their wake.
The first time Narcissa realized the extent of Lucius's loyalties, she was trying to settle a colicky Draco. Lucius had stumbled in, a bloodied, broken mask gleaming in his hands and his robes caked with mud. Blood stained his hair red—a violent scarlet against a backdrop of blond, and Narcissa felt her heart wrench (it wasn't supposed to exist, hearts weren't meant for witches like her, people used to say) because Lucius was hurt and he wasn't supposed to be.
"Lucius," Narcissa said lowly, Draco pressed comfortingly against her breast.
Lucius's gaze shifted and he tossed the broken mask into the fireplace absently. "Narcissa. Is Draco unwell?"
"Is he—no, no. Draco is quite fine. Lucius, you're—"
"If that is the case, I hope you don't mind if I excuse myself," Lucius replied, inclining his head slightly. A sharp sting of something flushed Narcissa's skin red and made her nostrils flare, but Lucius was already slipping out the room, leaving Draco to keen in her arms. Later, the blood was cleaned from his hair and the mud spelled from his robes, but it didn't stop the faint tremor in Narcissa's heart, not even when Draco gave a loud gurgle and laughed for the first time.
And it never went away, not even when Lucius worked hard at handling political alliances in gold, or when Draco first began to crawl across the floor, or even when, some months later, he finally had enough strength in his legs to actually stand.
"Precious little Draco is so talented," Bellatrix said one day during a visit. "A great candidate to carry on the legacy of Black."
"Of course," Narcissa agreed, helping a stumbling and not-quite-strong-enough Draco around the parlor room.
"Has he done magic yet?"
The inquiry was made so delicately, Narcissa hardly noticed the underlying tone in her older sister's voice.
"No, however Lucius and I remain optimistic. It shall happen eventually. Toujours Pur, Bella. Nothing will keep my precious Draco from carrying on our family legacy."
Bellatrix watched Narcissa through hooded eyes. "And since we are on the subject of... legacies... Lucius seems quite capable of creating his own. Don't you agree Cissy?"
It was the tone that brought her up short. Made the almost-gone tremor begin to stretch its sinuous claws and tear at the flesh of her chest. An image, one Narcissa had wanted to forget, flashed across her mind—red on white on blond—and her lips thinned in displeasure. A legacy of death, of blood-stained hands and scars and a smear on their honor, if there had ever been any. But honor was not what mattered in the war, not since the violence turned into something that made people refuse to say the Dark Lord's name, and Narcissa understood what it meant to have black ink burned into the skin, unable to be removed. A prison of that caliber was forged in more than just brick and steel and the harsh chill of a Dementor's presence.
That wasn't how it was supposed to be.
"Oh, don't be that way, Cissy," Bella crooned, stepping around Draco and petting Narcissa's soft blond hair. "You should be proud. You really have chosen a capable husband."
"Lately," Narcissa said heavily, "I find myself thinking about more than just his capabilities."
Bellatrix clicked her tongue, gaze assessing. "Draco would do well to follow in his footsteps. Father was particularly pleased when I embraced the ideals. I imagine Lucius would be the same."
But Lucius was not their father. Lucius was Lucius and even through his long nights and dark silences, there was something there that drew Narcissa towards him, made her want to scrub the blood and deaths and tortures away and keep them locked out of his mind. There was something chilling about the thought of Draco—her precious, beautiful little Draco—being owned by the Dark Lord that made Narcissa's stomach turn, and as well meaning as Bellatrix might have been, Narcissa was not her sister and she would not allow it.
"The Prophet has taken to calling you Death Eaters," Narcissa said unkindly over breakfast some weeks later.
Lucius paused, eyes narrowing at her. His lips had pressed into a thin line, eyes flashing the way Narcissa imagined Draco's might if he ever had the chance to become like his father. He was his father's son, through and through—his cheek bones, while round with fat, would narrow and become angular and sharp. His lips would thin, the bright blond of his hair dimming to something closer to platinum. He would speak with Lucius's voice, retain the cool aloofness of Lucius's demeanor, but Narcissa knew that he would burn burn burn with that fetid anger that seemed to drown Lucius in its hateful grasp these days. Politicking with galleons was not enough, not when the ideals kept them trapped and chained and Narcissa had married for more than just blood and security, and she would be damned if she saw the only thing she strived to keep normal whisked away because there was just too much rage.
"Is that so?" Lucius questioned, slow and liquid-like. "A fitting title, considering our Lord's goals."
Narcissa speared an egg, watched the yolk burst with her violence. "Bella claims such a title is a crowning glory. To be able to eat death, to make it out of existence—"
"Is there a point, Narcissa? If so, make it."
"I will never be a Death Eater," Narcissa answered tightly. "While I embrace the ideals and anticipate the Dark Lord's rise to power, I will not follow in your, or Bellatrix's, footsteps."
Lucius arched a delicate brow. "No one asked you to."
Narcissa let out a long breath.
"And neither will my son."
The expression fell from Lucius's face. For a moment, Narcissa waited as that anger rose up, his silver eyes going molten hot at her words. She could hear the words slipping past his lips, words that he refused to speak, but Draco would not fall prey to the same trap that caught Lucius. He was his father's son, in every way but one. No matter how much of Lucius he carried in him, Draco was Narcissa's, too.
"Perhaps," Lucius said slowly, lips twisting into a vicious sneer, "you would care to explain the meaning of such an… outburst."
"I've seen the ways you've come home Lucius. I know the horrors you must deal in, the lives that must be eradicated if we are to gain control over the infestation that continues to dilute the purity of wizard blood. But I will not allow anyone to… to trap my son in the service of another wizard."
"How dare you," Lucius hissed, coldly furious. "To be in our Lord's service is an honor—"
"I will not allow it!" Narcissa snapped, slapping her hand against the table. Draco jerked in his high chair, his saucer of mashed peas spilling all over his hands. "Capable as you are, dearest husband, do you never stop to wonder at the possibility that a single moment of miscalculation would end with you in Azkaban or dead? Draco will not have that fate, Lucius. That will not be his future."
Lucius stared at Narcissa long and hard. The sharp sting of emotions, of the need to protect Draco at all costs, continued to storm inside of her, strong and powerful and unrelenting.
Then, finally, he said, "I never intended him to."
Something inside of Narcissa broke. The harsh lines of Lucius's face smoothed, his gaze speculative as he watched her sink into her chair, the hot flush of her face softening to the natural, cool beauty he was accustomed to. Narcissa wasn't sure whether to call the feeling swarming beneath the surface relief or triumph—it had to be some mixture of the both, some sort of in-between because there was nothing even comparable, not even the affection that clotted Narcissa's heart whenever she looked at Lucius, or the way her heart would skip a beat whenever his hot hands would grip her shoulder in the only display of affection he would allow in public settings.
Lucius's eyes strayed over to Draco, who was propped in his highchair and smearing the green mess of peas all over his face. Draco caught his father's eye, laughed, and continued on. Lucius's eyes tightened.
"My son is a Malfoy. My servitude is sacrifice enough."
The second time Narcissa realized the extent of Lucius's loyalties, Draco was filthy with green. Her eyes were wide and her heart was hammering in her chest and all she could think of was Lucius, standing tall and proud and, quite suddenly, Narcissa understood just what, exactly, Andromeda had been protecting years ago, when she had chosen the muggleborn filth and the child over the family. Toujours pur, because it was not debatable, but there was more than blood, sometimes. More than ideals. Lucius Malfoy was more than just a Death Eater. How easy it had been to forget that.
(Narcissa remembered the pride, all that time ago. But perhaps it was more than pride, more than the satisfaction of having a son, because no one would sacrifice so much of their own if not for the people they loved.)
"Bellatrix will be adamant," Narcissa said once she could breathe again.
Lucius scoffed, sitting stiffly in his seat and continuing his breakfast. "Bellatrix is a fool."
"And my sister."
"An unfortunate matter of circumstance." Lucius glanced at Narcissa sharply. "Narcissa—"
"I would just like you to realize, Lucius dear, that some marriages are built off of more than just blood."
Lucius stared, eyes shifting from liquid silver to fierce, hot molten gray. "Indeed," he replied softly.
A moment passed, and Lucius stood, striding around the table to Narcissa's side. He reached forward, laced delicate fingers through Narcissa's own, and pulled her close. Held her.
The declaration and the promise weren't overt, but it was enough.
I love you.
(No one will ever take our son away.)
A month later, a boy lived.
His name was Harry Potter.