Posted: 3 April, 2011

Disclaimer: I do not own anything in this story that is recognisable from the Harry Potter books, movies, etc. Everything else however (eg. story plot, original characters, etc.) stems from my own imagination and belongs to me. No copyright infringement is intended and I am not profiting financially from this story in any way.

Author's Notes: For those interested, the 'Harry Potter Pairing Generator' I used can be found at: www. angelfire. com/stars2/fireandice/generator. html (remove the spaces). Also, pairing/s will be identified at the bottom of the chapters, so as not to spoil any possible surprises, though by the time you reach the end you'll of course have figured it out.

Warnings: Nothing too racy, I expect, but I will throw out warnings for: super-weird pairings, slash, femslash, and het.


Random Pairing Ficlet #1

She strode briskly through the Hogwarts gates, pulling close her winter cloak, and wrapping her fur stole tighter beneath her chin. It was unseasonably cold, even for October. She'd much rather be back at the manor, ordering an elf to fetch her hot chocolate, a secret indulgence of hers. It was really quite plebeian, at least the way she preferred it. No fancy spices, just heaped with sugar and topped with garishly coloured marshmallows.

She shook off her musings and sped up her pace. She could have her common comfort drink when she returned home. For now, she had business to attend to. Important, terrible business. Draco was going to be heartbroken when he heard, she knew, but there was nothing for it. It was done, and now all that was left was to inform her son, a task she insisted on taking upon herself. Her dearest Draco deserved better than to hear it from an, at best indifferent and at worst gleeful, professor.

"Cissa?"

Narcissa halted, head whipping toward the familiar voice. She felt her breath catch as she took in the dark curls, round cheeks and full lips. Merlin curse it all, but she should be over this by now. It had been decades. She pushed down her feelings by forcing herself to focus on flaws. A mess as always, she thought to herself, rumpled robes, and cheap ones too, dirt beneath un-manicured nails, a vine twig caught in curly hair. She almost managed to fool herself that she didn't actually, strangely, find these things endearing for this particular person. Enough, anyway, to keep her expression cool and composed.

"Professor Sprout," she greeted in return, pretending her heart didn't ache at the way her aloofness clearly caused hurt. "It has been some time since I've seen you."

"Yes, the battle of Hogwarts," Pomona replied, "and not for years before then." She was fidgeting in that way Narcissa remembered meant she had something to say, and was worried how it would be received. "What brings you to Hogwarts today?"

"Draco. They've reached a verdict and…" She trailed off, and bowed her head.

"I'm so sorry Cissa," Pomona said, still knowing her well enough it seemed, even after all this time, to read her well.

"Thank you," she said, but secretly wondered 'are you really?' before chastising herself. Poe had never been the petty sort, not like Narcissa was. "Unless there was something else, I'd best continue on."

"Actually, there was a reason I stopped you. I wanted to ask- to tell you that-" Pomona cut herself off, and Narcissa wondered what the woman wanted to tell her, that could make her stutter as she hadn't done since fifth year. "It's about Draco."

"What?" She was immediately alert with motherly concern at the mention of her son. "Is there something wrong with him?"

"No! No, not exactly, just… do you know Neville Longbottom?"

"Longbottom?" Narcissa blinked, confused by the non sequitur. "Yes, of course. The boy who slew Nagini, the Dark Lord's familiar. He was a thorn in the side of the Carrow siblings too, when the Death Eaters ran Hogwarts, from what I've heard."

"Yes, an exceedingly brave young man," Pomona said proudly. "Not always so though. He was the most nervous boy you'd ever have met, till about the end of his fifth year. Stuttering when he spoke, flopping his spells, too afraid to make friends. But a genius in Herbology."

"It sounds like you're describing yourself, as a young witch."

"Yes, exactly!" Narcissa was a bit taken aback by the force of the response, but remained silent. Pomona continued, saying, "And your Draco, he's so very much like you at that age."

"Yes, for all that he looks like his father, and idolises the man to the point of imitation, his personality has always been mine at heart."

"Exactly. Neville- Neville is me, Cissa. And Draco is you. And history…" Pomona stared at her with a sorrowful look. "I fear history is repeating itself."

"Are you saying…?" She trailed off, unable to finish the words, feeling stricken by the mere implication.

"Yes. At least, I'm fairly certain. I've seen the secret looks, and the little touches they try to hide. But when you've been in their position, you tend to notice these things. I'm sure you remember how it is."

A flash of memory: an out of the way classroom, wandering hands, laughter and kisses and… love. "Perhaps I do."

"And I understand Draco has been contracted to the younger Greengrass daughter?" Pomona asked, letting the 'like you were to Lucius' remain unsaid and yet perfectly clear.

"Astoria," Narcissa said, and watched as the woman who once, and perhaps even still, meant so much to her became even more distressed at the confirmation.

"Please Cissa, please speak to your son," Pomona plaintively begged of her. "Don't let him continue on, not when nothing will come of it." 'Like you did to me,' Narcissa could almost hear. "Neville will be devastated." 'Like I was.' "He's braver than I am. Stronger. He might recover, find another to be with, but he might just as easily not, and spend the rest of his life alone and regretting." 'As I have done.'

Narcissa swallowed hard and looked away. Regret swamped her, and sadness. And guilt too, though it hadn't been her fault. Not really. A marriage contract was a marriage contract, and to defy it would have meant exile from family, fortune and society. Narcissa could not bring herself to accept such a fate, and in doing so had consigned the woman she loved to heartbreak. Herself, too.

When finally she looked back, it was into eyes that begged, not for their own happiness, for the chance for that which was long since lost, but rather for the happiness of another. Those eyes begged her to do something, before things went too far, and the Longbottom boy was hurt as she had been. And he would be, Narcissa knew. Draco was a good, obedient son, and would honour the contract.

"Very well." She nodded. "I'll see to it."

"Thank you Cissa." Pomona said, relief and gratitude clear in her tone.

Narcissa tightened her stole which had come loose again, nodded once, turned on her heel and headed off. She had taken no more than a dozen steps before halting and looking over her shoulder. The other witch was still stood there, watching her departure with a wistful expression that Narcissa could quite relate to.

"I am sorry Poe," she said impulsively. "I wish things could have been different." And then she continued her way up to the castle before the other could reply.

Ten minutes later, watching from the shadows, Narcissa was holding back tears. At the other end of the corridor her son and Longbottom were ensconced in a seat beneath a beautiful stained glass window. She'd never seen her baby boy so happy, so tender, so… so in love. Oh yes, he was very much in love, just like she had been. It was a surprising, unconventional pairing, like she and Poe once were, but similarly no less genuine for that fact.

Resolve filled Narcissa. She had a promise to keep to an old love. She said she'd 'see to it'. But, she'd never said how. Pomona probably expected her to do as she had begged, and instruct Draco to break things off. Narcissa felt that she must love her child far more than her own parents had ever loved her, for she couldn't bear to go through with such a thing.

She knew what she had to do. She would have to interrupt them. Draco needed to know that the courts had come to a decision, that Lucius was bound for Azkaban for actions during the war. And then… well, then she would head back to the manor, sit down with a mug of plebeian hot chocolate, and dig into the family paperwork. She wished to cancel a marriage contract, and with Lucius imprisoned, she now had the authority to do so in his place.

History would not repeat itself, not for her precious son. He would have the love she was denied.


Pairings:
- Narcissa Malfoy / Pomona Sprout
- Draco Malfoy / Neville Longbottom


Reviews make me happy (hint, hint).