The Unknown Aunt
Draco stood at the front gates of Malfoy Manor, looking at it in a way he had never done before. It was now his property, as well as everything in it.
His father had been killed several years before, and now he had just lost his mother too. Her condition had deteriorated since his father's murder six years before, and the fact that whoever did it was unknown and walking free did little to help.
Despite what the Healers said, he believed his mother died of grief.
Although it may not have seemed it, the Malfoy's were a very close family, as was common amongst pure-bloods. As Draco was an only child, he never had to compete for his parent's attention, and they were happy enough to dote on him. There was not a day that went by that he didn't think of his father, and now he had lost his mother too. He didn't know where to turn.
He walked through the empty halls of the Manor, his footsteps echoing off the walls. He hadn't been explored the Manor properly in years; he moved out after he graduated Hogwarts to live with his girlfriend, and now wife, Astoria Greengrass.
He stopped in front of the Master bedroom. Hesitating, he opened the door slowly. It creaked; it had not been used in a long time, as his mother had not slept properly for several years, unwilling to sleep in her marital bed without Lucius. He looked around the bedroom, at all the little objects dotted around. It struck him how little he knew about either of his parents. They rarely spoke of their childhoods or their lives during Hogwarts. Come to think of it, they didn't really talk about anything from before he was born, except when his father was telling him about the Dark Lord and the first Wizarding War.
He moved into the room, the floorboards creaking under his feet. He had instructed the house-elves to leave the master bedroom alone since his mother had passed; he hated the thought of them touching her things. He wanted to do that task himself.
After wandering around the room, he stopped before the only painting which occupied the master bedroom. It was of his grandfather on his father's side, Abraxas, whom which had left his father this manor. The man still stood dignified in his frame, although the picture was only a shadow of its former glory. Draco reached out, taking it from the wall. It could do with being restored by a professional; a simple magical repair would do little to help it. As he took it from the wall, he found it was concealing something. It looked like a safe. Placing the painting gently on the floor, he examined it in more detail. What use was there for a hidden safe? The manor already sported a heavily warded dungeon, which his father often utilized for his more controversial possessions.
Well, he thought, he wasn't going to find out what was hidden without looking. He took a breath and braced himself, taking his wand out. He reached forward and undid the locking charms. He opened the safe.
It was not what he had expected. Inside the safe resided a single box. He took it out and carried it to the bed, wondering why such an innocent thing was concealed.
Opening the lid, he found it contained a selection of items, all of which appeared to belong to his mother. Trinkets with the Black family crest on them. Hand-made necklaces, pressed flowers. A single doll. Love notes from various men Draco had never heard of. School reports. An old Slytherin tie.
A sudden wave of emotion overcame him. The items in this modest box were his mother's life. Childhood memories, letters from Hogwarts. Everything it contained was a memory which must have meant so much to his mother, but so little to him. He fingered a small silver ball, contemplating what its significance could be, but he knew he would never know. All these possessions, these puzzle pieces of his mother's past, all of which have been lost to time.
He moved the trinkets aside, to find another, smaller box within the first. It contained a vial neatly packaged in soft material, presumably so it would not break. He immediately recognised the substance as memories. Why had his mother left memories stored away? Taking it carefully out of the smaller box, he moved them aside.
Under the vial were several envelopes.
He hesitated. It was one thing looking at these trinkets, but another to delve into his mother's memories and to read through her personal letters.
But a fierce curiosity came over him. He knew he would not be able to put the memories back and forget about them. He felt compelled to find out as much about his mother as he could, in order to remember her. He wanted to know what she was really like, behind the front that she had, that all Malfoys must have.
Summoning his portable pensive, he poured the memories into them, before delving head-first into the fog.
Three young girls were playing in a large garden. He immediately recognised his mother, and his aunt Bellatrix. The third girl was unknown to him, but he had a feeling he knew her from somewhere.
He watched as the girls sat around, picking flowers and doing cartwheels, acting like any young girls did. He had never seen his mother look so light-hearted, so carefree. He was amazed by this side of his mother, and wondered when she changed.
"Children, dinner is ready," a voice called from inside. Then it struck him; the other girl was the third sister. His mother had briefly mentioned her, but all he knew was that she was removed from the Black family tree for abandoning her family to marry a muggle-born.
He stared at his unknown aunt in wonder. His mother had spent her whole childhood with her, yet he knew so little about her.
The memory shifted.
Narcissa was standing with her arms cross, all traces of light-heartedness gone.
"You've been seeing that Muggle-born, haven't you?" Narcissa asked.
"Andy," Narcissa sighed, "please don't do this."
"Do what?" Andromeda asked, straightening up. "I'm just following my heart. It feels right."
"I love you too much to lose you."
"You might not lose me yet. Mother and father might understand."
Draco watched the discussion continue, he could feel the tension rising. He knew that her parents would not be as accepting as Andromeda hoped, and he felt bad for her naivety. His mother seemed a lot more compassionate towards her sister than he ever would have expected. She didn't even seem to care that he was a muggle-born, she even remarked that as long as he's not actually a muggle, she didn't mind that much.
That really made Draco think. Did his mother always believe that? Did she not think muggle-borns were that much different? Was she, then, just going along with his father's ideas whilst she was less judgemental about the issue of blood purity? Or, was she just making an exception as Andromeda was her sister and she loved her? It was just one of those unanswered questions he would never know.
The memories changed again.
"Please Andy, don't do this." A younger Narcissa begged. They were walking in the street in front of the house. All traces of young naivety and light-heartedness had completely disappeared now, this was a woman who knew what she wanted and how to get it.
"Cissy," Andromeda sighed. "I love him."
"More than you love your family? Me and Bella? Mother and Father?"
Andromeda paused. "I do love them. But they won't accept me; they are the ones forcing me to choose. I'd gladly stay if I could still be with him."
"I don't understand."
"Goodbye, Cissy," Andromeda said, ducking away down a side street.
Draco knew that was the last time his mother had seen her sister.
He took out the letters next.
He scanned the envelopes. They appeared to be a series of correspondence between his mother and her sister Andromeda for many years.
The first letters were very tense, but then they seemed to lighten up, before changing again. There were several periods where the writing seemed to dry up completely, but they always restarted. He scanned the first few letters. Andromeda wrote about her daughter, Nymphadora, being born, and a few years later his mother talked about her pregnancy and Draco's own birth.
The discussed the end of the war and once again tensions ran high. There was a period of several years where neither of them wrote, before Narcissa wrote concerned about an illness Draco's father had caught many years ago, when Draco was too young to remember.
Then he was almost at the end of the pile.
I know it has been a long time since I've written. I know this war has been hard, for both you and me. At the moment, I don't care what side you were on, or what side I was on. I'm just so glad that you made it through, both you and your family. I hope Draco is well.
As you may have heard, Ted was killed several months ago. I lost Dora and her husband Remus in the battle of Hogwarts. They had just had a son, Teddy Lupin. He survives.
I know you won't want to come and see him, but I just thought I should let you know.
He moved the letter aside, finding the last letter.
It has been far too long, I agree. We are very well. I am sorry to hear of your loss.
Since the war, so much has changed. I've missed you all these years, Andy. I hope you know that. I want to make up for it.
I would like to meet little Teddy. If you agree, that is. It's time we started acting like a proper family. I'm sorry for everything. I never stopped caring for you.
It took Draco a few moments to process the letter. His mother had wanted to make amends.
But it was never sent.
After placing all of the trinkets, letters and memories of his mother's life back into the box, he sprinted to his desk. He scrawled a letter to his friend Blaise, who worked for the Daily Prophet. A few hours later, he received a reply.
Draco, he read.
I hope you are well. I have enquired for you, and I am sorry to inform you that Andromeda Tonks passed away a few months ago.
He closed his eyes, letting the tears for his unknown aunt fall.
A/N: This was written as a combination for several challenges. Thanks for giving me the inspiration!
The 'Prompt Competition: The Black Sisters' by UnleashtheSnitch114 gave me the prompt 'Light-hearted'
For the 'Pieces of a life' challenge by ReillyJade I had to write about any character going through the possessions of Narcissa.
For the 'Speed of Lightning Challenge' by Shira Lansys I had to write angst. I'm not sure if this counts, I hope it does!