Narcissa Malfoy woke with a start. Strange, because she was normally a quite peaceful sleeper. In the darkness and chill air of a March evening, she took a moment to examine her unsettled feeling. Timidly, a slender, pale hand crept from underneath the duvet to sample the atmosphere. It felt like the warming charms were still in effect, and the fire in the floo still flickered.
No, it wasn't cold that had woken her… She shifted back into her pillow, and into the warm, masculine body that spooned her. Maybe it was nothing. Her eyes were closing again when she caught it: motion – there outside the open bedroom door.
She froze. Fear clamped her chest. Intrusion was a debilitating phobia since she'd played reluctant hostess to the Dark Lord and his minions just a few years earlier. Awake, her wide eyes flicked to her wand on the bedside table. She would have it in her hand in seconds; she only hoped the presence in the hall wasn't faster.
Another glimmer of movement. A quick white shadow darted by the door and she knew there was no way she'd imagined it. She bolted upright. Both their wands seemed to fly into her hand even as she reached for them.
"Mm. Huh… Wha?" The blonde man behind her stirred when she violently left his arms.
"There's someone in the hallway," she whispered.
He was immediately wakeful, too. Life in wartime made one evolve such instincts. His defined chest pressed to her back and she pressed his wand into his hand. "The wards are intact," he whispered back.
"I know." She couldn't imagine how someone had gotten into the manor, especially without the occupants immediately knowing. But dark magic definitely had its ways…
Her partner was moving. "Stay here," he instructed firmly.
"Draco – "
"I said stay here." He tied his pajama pants on and started stealthily for the door.
Bugger this. Narcissa was not one to stand idly by while an intruder stalked about their corridors. She slid from the bed as well, pulling her dressing gown over her own nakedness. Draco peered around the edge of the doorjamb, and when she peered around his shoulder, he jumped.
"Merlin's nadgers, witch! I told you to stay in bed," he hissed.
Eyes shocked, she briskly slapped the back of his head. "Don't speak to me like that! I'm your mother! Furthermore, I shall not let you face this threat alone," she replied tightly. "Besides, this is my home, too!"
Frustrated, Draco raised a hand to silence her and peeped around the doorframe again. He drew back so quickly, he bumped her nose with his shoulder, upsetting her balance.
"Ouch!" She grabbed at her face and stumbled back toward the floo. Draco caught her by the elbow, but not before she toppled a folded fireplace screen. It clattered loudly to the marble.
"Oh, shite!" Narcissa's frightened voice pitched high. Draco winced and darted another look around the door. "Did you see them?" She asked.
"I saw something," he murmured.
He nodded. "It went downstairs."
"It?" She pressed nervously against his side.
"I think Bella's come back to haunt us."
She blew air through her teeth. "Oh, Draco, please!"
"Seriously!" He looked into her eyes. "It's white and…sort of fuzzy. It's a ghost – like the ones at school. I'm sure of it!"
"Don't be ridiculous." Narcissa swatted at his arm. "It's probably some witch or wizard your father slighted in some way, broken in to slit our throats in our sleep."
"Well, that's positive thinking!" Draco hissed. He sighed, looked around the door. "I'm going to check it out."
"No!" She clutched at his arm. "We should just alert aurors. They'll deal with it."
"Mum…I don't think it was a witch or wizard."
She looked even more terrified. "You don't think a muggle got in?"
"Oh, for fuck's sake!" He rolled his eyes and pulled away from her. "I'm going downstairs. Stay. Up. Here. And be ready to alert aurors if need be."
"How will I know?" She asked around worried fingers.
Draco raised his wand purposefully. "If you hear me screaming," he said, "call aurors."
He twisted sharply into the dark corridor, ignoring his frightened mother's worried warnings. Witches… Seeing nothing lingering in the hall, and finding all unused rooms closed off still, he made his way cautiously to the top of the stairs and pressed against a column.
Taking a deep breath, he twisted his head to peer over the nearby balcony railing. Sure enough, a hint of white disappeared smoothly from his line of sight on the first floor. He gasped and straightened again. His heart hammered in his chest. Definitely Bella…the crazy cunt's back for my blood. Fine, bitch…bring it.
He whirled onto the landing, wand at ready, and stared down the stairs with his chin raised.
But instead of facing off against a maniacal ghost, he caught a glimpse of white slipping through the drawing room archway. He gulped. So that's how she wants it – back in her favorite torture chamber. Bravely, he began descending the stairs, muting the slap of his bare feet on stone.
On the first floor, he ducked into the shadowed alcove beneath the stairs, tensing for a fight. He checked around the corner. He heard rather than saw rustling in the drawing room, and darted across the chilled foyer floor as silently as an owl in flight.
He flattened to the wall just beside the drawing room entrance. At the sound of another rustle, he lunged into the open arch just in time to see –
Nothing. Shoulders drooping a little, he listened and looked around. Moonlight brightened the spacious drawing room. A few orchids nodded softly. The black lacquered piano glimmered. All was still.
Scratch scritch scritch
Goosepimpled, he whirled toward the sound. "Lumos!"
The light bursting from his wand tip revealed nothing but thickly upholstered antique furnishings. Definitely Bella. "Alright," he said firmly. "Come on out then, you teasing ashen varlot. I'm ready."
The sound of his own voice was a steadying comfort. He strode toward the room's center, eyes dashing about.
Scritch scritch scratch
Behind the loveseat. He leapt over the tea table and onto the sofa in a fashion that would have made his mother momentarily forget they were incestuous lovers and scold him like a child. "Got you!" He thrust his glowing wand over the chairback.
Nothing? "What the hell?" He whispered.
A little movement. His head and wand whipped to the right. There, peeking over the arm of the loveseat was –
As if in answer, the bird ruffled up its crown and tail feathers. It also…growled. Draco raised an eyebrow at it. "Ridiculous bird." But he collapsed, relieved, onto the sofa and couldn't help chuckling at himself. "Well," he looked at the stark white creature. "You simply must go out, my friend."
He stood. The bird tensed, growled again. "Calm down, there." Draco whispered. He remembered that the birds were easily distressed. "It's alllll right." He backed toward the arch. "I'm just going to open the front door for you."
As he backed from the room, the bird started a small, fretful clucking. Its clawed feet scritched on the floor and it paced nervously before the drawing room floo.
"Shhh, shhh, shhhh." Draco soothed, nearing the archway. "Come along then, fellow," he urged softly. "We'll have you back out with your hen soon. Won't you like that? I know I would." He grumbled the last bit.
Icy hands suddenly curled over his bare shoulders, accompanied by a breathy hiss. "Dracooooo."
He spun, terror squeezing his bladder like a vice, and jabbed his wand into the face of his mother. "You!" He screamed.
She screamed at his wand's proximity and drew back as if burned.
The peacock screamed at the screaming couple and flapped onto the sofa, clucking louder and pacing frantically.
Narcissa screamed again. "My Victorian loveseat! Get off, you filthy beast!" The bird screamed back at her. Draco grabbed her to stop her physically attacking the bird.
"Calm down, mother!" He shook her slightly, made her look at him. Her eyes were still wide with fear and shock. "It's just a peacock," he soothed. "I'll take care of it." He stroked her elbows.
"Get it off the furniture!" She barked, pointing her wand over his shoulder.
The peacock ruffled indignantly…and shat on the pristine eggshell sofa cushion.
Narcissa ruffled, as well. It was a thing to behold. "You…rank and disgusting moldwarp!" She shouted. Her wand trembled, chest swelled. "Avada –"
"MOTHER!" Draco shook her harder. "Stop it!"
The peacock let loose a low, mournful cry. It was answered by the birds still outside. This incensed it further, drove it to the drawing room window where it paced and cried loudly. Draco shot the bird a glare, then looked back to his mother.
He watched the azure tsunami in her eyes soften to the usual placid lagoon. Her wand lowered slowly. "Merlin…" She murmured.
"Yeah," he agreed. "Merlin."
"It was just a bird?" She asked.
He nodded, pulled her to him and kissed her forehead. "Just a peacock."
"I got worried."
He rubbed her back, felt the tension ebb away. "I'm sorry. I should have called you." He had to speak loudly over the increasingly agitated peafowl. "I'm going to let it out." She nodded into the crook of his neck, obviously not about to let go of him.
He sighed and waved his wand over the drawing room windows. "Aperios." They flew open, and the peacock excitedly flapped over the sill and out. Happy clucking could be heard from outside. No doubt the bird was translating his adventure with the strange pale creatures inside the colossal coop. He waved his wand again. "Clodos." The windows slammed shut.
The banging caused Narcissa to jump a little in his arms. "Shhh, shhhh, shhh." He soothed her. "Just a peacock." He tried not to grin – or worse – laugh at the situation.
"My loveseat," she murmured.
"I know," he cooed. "We shall clean it together." A smile quirked despite himself. "We cleaned far worse when the Dark Lord was here, didn't we?"
"Don't condescend!" She whined.
He absolutely couldn't contain the eventual chuckle. "I'm not! I'm not, mother."
"Yes, you are!" She slapped at his bare ribs. "What a terrible boy…laughing at his poor, frightened mother."
"Never!" He stroked her cheeks, pushed her back so he could see her face. "I acted quite silly, myself."
Suddenly, she was the one fighting a smile. "You thought it was Bella."
He scowled. "I didn't really."
She chuckled. "Yes, you did. You nearly wet yourself! I saw you from upstairs!"
"Shut up, witch," he growled, rubbing against her.
"Bella's ghost…" Narcissa giggled. "I don't know if I shall ever –"
She was silenced by his mouth on hers. After a moment, the kiss deepened and they moaned softly. Comfortable that she would drop the subject, Draco let his lips travel to her sensitive neck. "Oh, Draco…"
He bit at her shoulder, pushed her dressing gown away from the creamy skin. "I don't believe we've ever fucked in peacock offal, have we, mother?"
She tensed. "You wouldn't dare."
Draco chuckled darkly and nudged his mother out of the dark drawing room. "Come on, then. Back to bed." She gathered her robe over her bare, chilled breasts as they mounted the stairs eagerly. "And mother?"
She glanced back at him. "Hm?"
"It is you who wouldn't dare." Their laughter echoed off stone, momentarily filling the darkness with light.
But not all darkness can be dispelled so easily. And in the most darkened corner of the drawing room, a pale form shifted ethereally into the moonlight. In fact, she seemed to mate with the moonlight - blend with it - until all that differentiated her from that light at all was her mop of pitch black anarchist curls and the floating tendrils of her equally black and tattered attire.
Malice curled her lush, gray lips. Revenge glinted in her murky, patient eyes. She faded into the moonglow…for the moment.