Here is a long-overdue giftfic for Gamma Orionis, duly earned for her amazing performance in The Dark Lord's Most Faithful Forum Birthday Challenges: no less than 60 100-word drabbles… yes. -bows to Gamma-
Requested: a Druella/Abraxas story, alluding to Lucius/Narcissa being incest (harumph. It's hinted at) with the prompts: "misunderstood", "night", "envy", "lust", "restless", "saviour". I think envy might be missing actually… Thanks for the prompts anyway dear, they were very helpful.
Title is inspired by the song "Wasted Daylight" by Stars.
The great grandfather clock at the middle of the mantlepiece was clicking away slowly, coldly, echoing around the quiet and nearly-empty bedroom.
Druella's legs made a slight ruffling sound as she curled them under the sheets, restlessness nagging at her. The woman slowly turned over, leaning her dainty head against the pillow and willing herself to sleep. She was alone, and this was not by any means a novelty nor a disappointment. But some lurking thoughts were circling in her head and it would not do to surrender to them now.
Lurking, unpleasant, unwelcome ideas, she told herself as her fingers unwillingly clenched around the sheets and a small shiver rippled down her spine. She was alone, and perhaps, after all, perhaps it was less of an offense to entertain those in such a situation – or perhaps she merely ought to stop deluding herself with reflections of her own stainlessness, and simply admit that if merely thinking about such things had been her only wrong… well, she certainly could have deemed herself fortunate. She flinched at the notion, and endeavoured to view the empty bed as a blessing, for the double absence it whispered of was only preventing her having to face her own… sins.
Sins. Druella sighed, a melancholy breath quietly let out. She would never, in the first prime of her youth, have believed herself to be such a woman as to find herself confronted to a notion that ugly and crude, let alone give in to the torment of temptation… Times changed, however, and so did people. No, what was she thinking? She hadn't changed at all – her standards hadn't. Not in the slightest…
…only her actions had.
Druella shuddered, and turned over again, desperately – burying her face in her pale arms as she gasped for breath. White face, white arms – she was the very picture of perfect purity, a role model and a source of pride… for her family – who didn't know her true face, who, hopefully, never would. What a relief it was to be so largely misunderstood. But after all, it was earned and deserved – after all, she'd never wanted to sin, she'd done everything in her power to prevent the fault, and then to make up for it. She'd been corrupted and then she'd been let down by he who should have been her shelter and protection, her saviour – her husband – and so she had fallen.
(How beautiful the fallen angels, Abraxas would whisper into her ear, his hot breath subtly caressing her, leaving her undone, already, without further touch.)
Yes, yes – the fault was all theirs. She was but a feeble woman. How in the name of Salazar was she supposed to resist, when her husband abandoned her, to the cunning tongue and blazing eyes of his very best friend?
It was all wrong, she knew; it was but lie and delusion, and she ought not to harbour such treacherous indulgence; yet she could not help it. For all of her torment, for all of her anguish, she could not fully regret – her cowardly mind begged for an excuse to keep the shame at bay.
(He had given her an angel-faced child. Surely it was a sign – that it couldn't be so wrong?)
She squeezed her eyes more tightly shut, willing to hold back her traitor tears. Confused feelings were crawling beneath her skin, pacing her veins and exploring the crevices of her heart; the feeble organ hammered with corrupt passion, aroused, frantic – hungry. Cygnus was not home, would not grace her with his wordless presence in their bed. Where he was, she didn't know, could faintly suspect, and yet forbid, with iron will, her thoughts to wander down this dark and slippery path. Her daughters, though, slept in their chambers, each of them safely tucked in, each of them visited by innocent dreams – all but Narcissa, who slumbered in the nursery, too young yet to possess her own rooms. And – and that was all. That was everybody she should be concerned about, everybody who had right and reason to wander through her head at this unreasonably late hour.
And still he was always there, haunting the recesses of her mind with dishonorable memories and the whole of his imperious being, demanding her attention. Damn Abraxas Malfoy to the deepest pits of hell, she thought ragefully, gritting her teeth in frustration. Damn him, damn him, damn him…
She would dream of him if she slept now, him as he had looked to her on the very day of their first meeting, young and dashing with the glowing eyes of a genius. It had not actually been the first time they saw one another: Abraxas had been, like Cygnus, three years above her at school – too large a gap, however, for them to have developed any acquaintance. And thus she first got to know him as the closest friend her fiancé had, likely to stand as the best man at her wedding. His smile had been courteous with a wry edge to it and his wife, Circe, pushed on her with the implied message that they ought to get on well and spend time together, proved to be a true lady, despite the sharp hint of a headstrong, independent personality that slightly unsettled the young bride-to-be. Overall, she had deemed the Malfoys to be a pleasant couple, and certainly valuable company to keep, for their influence over good society was swiftly spreading, all they lacked yet being a heir. She had passed her opinions on to her betrothed, considered her frustrated, troubled state by the end of the evening to be due to nervousness for her upcoming wedding, and dismissed those matters as settled. How wrong she had been.
The Blacks and the Malfoys had, from then on, seen each other frequently; Abraxas, mostly, had come to the Manor to meet with her spouse, the two men discussing in Cygnus' study behind closed doors, after a greeting had been bestowed upon her, as brief as could possibly be appropriate. It irritated her greatly, for she had a nagging, persistent feeling that she was being somehow disregarded; and during the rare evenings the four of them spent gathered, the Malfoys' behaviour towards her was nothing short of pleasant – the hypocrisy jabbed at her nerves. With his intelligent, influential wife, and his gorgeous Manor, and his immense fortune, and his flawless manners and his beautiful face, Abraxas would stare down at her and tell her without words that she was nothing but Cygnus Black's wife, freshly out of school and thoroughly insignificant. He would look between the two of them with a subtle smile as though he knew everything there could possibly be to know… and she would be quiet.
It had been a trap, Druella seethed, trembling with shame and tormented, morbid excitement at her recollections – as she neared the end of it all, the end of her pride, of her virtue. Yes, Abraxas had played her, played on her frustration for the sake of curiosity, as he knew, that devil of a man – he knew everything – and he had gotten more than he had been bargaining for. Surely he expected an outburst from her; surely he expected the sweet entertainment of her humiliation. And she resisted – she had, she had. When she broke down though, she did so fully.
That evening. She gasped in anger, shook her head wildly to dismiss the thought, but it would not fade away – it flashed through her mind, vivid as it had been then and more, knocking the breath from her lungs. She was five months pregnant again, pacing an empty manor with nobody but their house-elf and one Abraxas Malfoy – forced to confess that her husband was out, that she did not know when he would return. "I shall wait for him," he said, glass-smooth, and the study door slammed behind her, unladylike, but she could not care – anything but to break down crying before the enemy. She wandered the corridors, yearning for her husband's return, in vain. And then the anger took over, and she dashed back up the stairs, into Cygnus' abandoned quarters, and sprang towards Abraxas as though she were about to claw his eyes out, shrieking for him to tell her what he knew – everything.
"Your husband is gone, my dear Druella, that is all I can tell you – surely the fact is vastly enough," he said with perfect calm and a hint of bewilderment colouring his tone. "Not to worry, I am quite sure he will be back before long."
His self-control choked her, his irony infuriated her – within seconds she was beating his chest with tiny, vengeful fists, before he grabbed her wrists in his large, strong and warm hands, and held her at arm's length, their faces too close. She struggled, and then he kept her restrained with one hand, as with the other he pushed her fair hair out of her face. "It is not me you should be attacking, my lady," he purred, "I did nothing yet."
She shuddered, nearly broken, and he only had to lean in and press a kiss to her forehead. His hair brushed ever so briefly against her cheek; his breath was hot against her skin, and suddenly she ached for more closeness, something to cling to. She stood on her tiptoes, and found her hands freed; their mouths crashed clumsily together –
Her nails tore through the pale, fragile skin of her arms. She gasped scatteredly, fighting the memories as they flew through her guilty, guilty mind and burned underneath her eyelids, blinding, searing – she was kissing another man, she was crying, sobbing so hard her breath was completely lost in-between the furious convulsions squeezing her lungs – she was clinging to broad shoulders, spiralling out of control, spitting out shattered words that made no sense… she was falling and he supported her weight, she was breaking apart, only held together by arms coiled around her waist, and her pride had long vanished, her name, duties and breeding forgotten, so she clutched him tighter, and let everything go – everything she had left and should have held onto.
Virtue, dignity, over as she fell into the open arms of sin.
She had blamed it on the vulnerability of this evening, on her first pregnancy, her disturbed body and fear-ridden mind, on not knowing where Cygnus was – the fault, the stain was on her conscience, a dark burden to be carried in silence, but to be indulged nevermore, she had told herself, rigid in her disgust of her own actions, in her iron determination and confidence in her self-control. She had believed it without question; arrogantly vowing she would never as much as look at him again, and demanding he do the same. He had complied, with a mocking smirk she had found tremendously unpleasant. And she had carried on with her life.
Nothing had changed, really – it hadn't. Cygnus would still disappear, Merlin knew where, sometimes bothering to tell her he was at work, sometimes not. Abraxas would still come to converse in his study, and Druella was left with the baby girl. After the first few weeks and their strenuous stream of gushing relatives and honeyed-tongued acquaintances, visits gradually became few and far between, as though society intended to tactfully leave her to steep in her failure for a while; and she remained behind, with her beautiful child who was not and would never be a heir.
She loved the baby girl, she just didn't quite know how. A well-bred, carefully-selected nurse would tend to the child, leaving the mother to watch from a distance, bewildered. Not that she would have wished to feed or clean her herself, Merlin forbid – Druella was merely quite uncertain of the role left for her to fulfill. Bellatrix was a perfect creature for two minutes, a milky-skinned infant with her father's dark eyes, and then she would open her pink little mouth wide and scream. In the shrill, dreadful sound and the blotchy colour that flooded her doll-like face, angel turned into monster and Druella flew away, appalled that she had given life to this hungry, foreign being.
Cygnus' study was fast becoming forbidden territory as he took shelter in the room day by day, dutifully avoiding his family. Sometimes Druella would stand still for several minutes or several hours, just staring at the door, wishing it would open before praying it didn't. The result was always the same, regardless of her will.
One day, Abraxas caught her muttering furiously to herself in the corridor, as he was walking out.
"What is with you?" he asked and everything burned her lips, while nothing was, in fact, the correct answer, according to her rational mind. She opted for silence, just stealing his face with her avid eyes to store in her memory and endlessly compare. This was the face she'd kissed and held passionately once. It was another's husband's. It had been folly, sin and momentary dementia. But after all, if she was not a mother. If she was not a wife. If she was not a praised and appreciated lady.
And she had surrendered to the hunger in her soul, becoming infamy and treason as she kissed another man hard, right in front of her husband's quarters, never wishing to stop.
The memory weighed heavy as a turning point, the place everything blended together so occasional strayings became one path of treachery – not a mistake, an affair. The moment burned Druella's lids and forced them shut as she sighed, drained of the anger with only shame left behind. Shame, her darling, constant companion, shame for every kiss and every caress, shame for the untangible – for Abraxas' face dwelling in her mind, instead of Cygnus', more than Cygnus'. Shame she rightfully deserved.
Did she love him? The notion, painted an even more vivid shade of forbidden, made her bristle and tremble, seeking the relief of denial – but did he love her? That she had no answer for. Cryptic glances and low, deep laughter, stolen words, frantic kisses – it was all Abraxas Malfoy would offer her, that and the passion of sin, of lust, and the shame of pleasure. He would never give her more, for they were both married, respectable purebloods, parents –
A fair little face flashed under her eyelids, and she moaned, fear joining despair's feast upon her conscience, for the first time selflessly. If Cygnus had understood, if anyone had understood. It was her terror – the striking difference between onyx and gold, the delicate, crystal-eyed princess, standing out among her sisters – half-sisters. Half-sisters, repeated Druella, mouthing the vile word, tasting her own doom in its twisted two faces, the proximity and then the gap, enormous, unacceptable, irreversible. It was beyond her how nobody had doubted thus far. To her the truth was huge, obvious, it screamed in every move of her youngest daughter's dainty hand, in every look, in every smile. Narcissa didn't look like her – Narcissa was golden and pure. Narcissa looked like Mr Malfoy, like young Lucius in his mother's lap, and someday the truth would be revealed.
And her sunny, precious princess, her adored child, as a bastard born in sin, would never marry, or marry lower than she deserved.
No, Druella whispered with hot, bitter tears. Her little girl would not pay for her mistakes. Precious Narcissa would marry well and be treasured always, no matter the cost.
She'd be treasured as she was by her siblings (all of her siblings), by her mother – by her mother most of all. She'd be treasured for the genuine smiles she triggered from Abraxas and Cygnus alike, enchanting angel that she was. Narcissa was perfect, she was beautiful. She was the only innocent face in a family marked with veiled disgrace – her redemption.
Druella held on to that fact, to the last strand of purity she possessed – a mother's adoration for her child. (Her children.) She willed Narcissa's face, Andromeda's voice and Bellatrix's laughter to fill her thoughts entirely, and selfishly she found rest in their sheer existence. They were her everything, after all, entirely – more entirely than everyone could suspect, for they were all that rightfully belonged to her… all she could cling to, though not without shame, and never without fear.
Druella drifted into slumber with her daughters on her mind, only to dream of steely eyes and a forbidden touch burning her skin, leaving her desperate for more.