Disclaimer: Not mine.
Written for the Hogwarts Online Forum. Prompt: Rosemary for Remembrance
Draco Malfoy stood quiet and sombre at the foot of his mother's grave. Once a year he had the rosemary bush, that clustered at the base of the statue, pruned and cared for, ensuring that the small delicate orchid like flowers would be in full bloom on her birthday. Today he came alone, as always he did, for he alone knew her burial site marked only by a white marble statue of Althaea and a fragrant bush of remembrance.
The Blacks and Malfoy, if they visited her memory at all, which he doubted they did, did so to a now empty mausoleum, her crypt filled with broken rubble in a bronzed and gilded casket. The marker there proclaimed her to be a loving wife and dutiful mother and set the date of her birth and death in cold chiselled words of stone. White roses and camellias graced the site, charmed to always bloom as if the sight of virginal trappings made a statement on her pristine and perfect life.
Here, hidden in plain sight and open view, in the middle of Astoria's garden, was Narcissa's final resting place. If indeed she could (or would) rest at all, he had often thought.
Draco rather hoped that she would not. He preferred to think of her as moving on, not satisfied with her lot and life and finding one beyond the confines of white sculptured marble and the coldness of a grave.
Like Althaea, she knew brands seared in fire had meant the death of her son and with his, her own. Now, Draco realized she had not had a chance at all. Not like he, or Astoria. Not like his son or the rest of the survivors that could look back and see the folly of their ways or bask in the glory of a war won and children buried for the protection of all.
Narcissa had been born to a cold unfeeling family, one sister mad and the other fleeing in terror, attesting to his mother's early life and pushing her into the only option left. Like Althaea, she had only one option. Whereas the goddess had married into the house of Oeneus, Narcissa hadmarried theMalfoy name. Both were given in matches for the betterment of their families to strengthen the bond of blood.
When the rosemary was in full bloom, and Draco stood engulfed in the bittersweet yet sharp and acrid smell, it was hard not to know the exact moment Narcissa had sealed her fate, and the fate of the entire Wizarding world. It had been so simple, she must have thought. It had been so simple to save her son by the simple act of sacrificing a willing replacement, exchanging life for life and brand for brand.
Squatting down he rubbed the rosemary nettles between his fingers, to smell the fragrant herb without the cloying sweetness of the flower, remembering more the stories than the fact.
It was times, such as this, that what-if thoughts raced through his mind. However, the older he became the more the what-if list became shorter, honed to the obvious, until he knew without a doubt what the one moment had been that had catapulted them headlong into destruction and pushed Narcissa to her grave.
She had made who she saw as her son's saviour take an unbreakable oath.
Perhaps, Draco liked to think, it had been only after Bellatrix's prompting that the idea had come to her. Bellatrix, who had been so sure in Snape's refusal and that in it, she would uncover his ruse and use it to her advantage, later admitting her surprise and disappointment that Snape had not refused. Had admitted that when he had held Narcissa's hand and vowed to complete the task or die in his failure, she had been as unnerved by his agreement as Narcissa had been comforted.
Draco knew the story. He had heard it from Potter's mouth and had heard it recanted once a year at war memorials and services for the Order's dead with sterile words of a mother's love and to lengths she had taken. He had heard the truth however, from Narcissa's lips and his father's dark warnings of blood traitors and mad witches. He had heard the exact moment that the word shuddered and knew the second that turned this world upside down.
It was in the moment of accepting the oath that she had dipped her hands in blood and caused so many deaths that later she would go quite mad, following her sister's path.
Draco wondered If she had not demanded the oath, if she had been unable to do that one thing, he wondered how different it would it have been. Would Dumbledore have given the same oath, knowing there was no child to save? Would he not have fought with every breath to defeat the Dark Lord and not left this world too soon alone?
Draco sighed and stood up. He tipped his head up to the misty rain that just now began to fall and thought of the Carrows. If Snape had not fled that dark night, not finding favour with the Lord, would he have been put in such a position of power at Hogwarts? Would the Carrows have ever stepped foot behind its walls, free to torture and scar the souls of so many. If Snape had not thrown the curse how much different would the battle on the astronomy tower have been.
Would Snape have had to show his hand? Would Potter have stepped up to fight instead of hiding within hearing, keeping out of sight? Would he, himself have lived if he had spun and levelled his wand on Bellatrix instead. Would Dumbledore, even in his weaken state not protected the Boy-Who-Lived? Would not the fact that the Headmaster had been attacked be enough to rally the rest of the world and put an earlier end to the horror that was Voldemort?
Would not Voldemort, in a rage of fury, have played his hand too soon? Would not Potter still have had time to find the missing parts of the beast's soul before he rose again? Draco now knew the one what-if that would have changed the world, what he did not know was if that one moment would have changed it so completely as to make it unnecessary.
Draco had moved his mother here, knowing that she would not want to lie forever in the Malfoy family plot. She would want to be free of that and free of the nee Black that the bastards had seen fit to add to the marble slab as if the purity of the Malfoy name was not enough.
In the end, it had been she that saved the lot. She had turned blood traitor and had with her lie, enabled Potter to save the world while she saved her son. In the end he, as did Meleager (Althaea's son), carry the guilt of killing two that had fought to save her son.
She would be remembered as a haughty woman who loved her family and with that love had sacrificed all that she held dear, all her husband had held close. She would be remembered as a Malfoy, a Black, raised in the shadow of the Rosier name and that of the Crabbes. She would be distained by the Muggle-born and hated by the squibs, she would be the shinning light of all that was pure and in her suicide worshiped for not giving in.
Draco stepped back and looked at the statue that guarded the grave, pleased with the commissioned work he had designed himself. Pleased that here she could be free and remembered as she was and not the golden haired woman they wanted to believe would rather have died then have lived in a world without hope.
Hearing a noise Draco turned to see Astoria walking towards him, a shawl held tightly over her head.
"You'll get sick," he muttered, casting a drying spell over her and taking off his own robes to throw over her shoulders.
"So will you." She scowled at him, looking up at the statue of Althaea. "What are you doing out here in the rain?"
"I picked some rosemary, for the dinner. You said you were preparing lamb."
He opened his palm and showed her the sprigs he had crushed and bruised in his fist, holding them so tightly they were now a sodden mass.
"Did you know that rosemary is for remembrance?" she asked, scraping the herbs form his hand into hers, knowing not to say anything about their condition.
"I thought that was forget-me-nots," he said lightly, taking her arm and starting back to the house.
"No, it is rosemary. I always wanted to take some to your mother's crypt. I hate those stupid camellias they planted. She never liked them."
"Somehow I don't think it matters," he said with a smirk.
"No, I suppose not." She smiled and hugged his arm.
A/N: (copied from Wiki) Althaea is especially celebrated in ancient story about the fate of her son Meleager, who also became the cause of her death. When Meleager was born, the fates predicted he would only live until a brand, burning in the family hearth, was consumed by fire. Althaea immediately hid the brand. Later, Meleager killed his mother's two brothers in an argument and she placed the brand back upon the fire, killing him. Some say that she later hanged herself, others that she killed herself with a dagger.