Author's Notes: Written for Taragh McCarthy's Genre Competition on the HPFC forum.
Genre: Slice of Life - A story that might have no plot, but represents a portion of (everyday) life.
Prompt: I See You
Also for avatarluv97's One Word Challenge on the HPFC forum.
I give you a one- word bit of dialogue, and you make sure it gets in your story. That one word that I give you is the only word of dialogue in the whole story. And you can't just have someone say it a bunch of times or have multiple characters use it- just one appearance. The rest is all description.
My word: "Hello."
Druella hummed quietly to herself, arranging the flowers that her husband had bought her in his favourite silver vase. He had presented her with the bouquet that morning, quite out of the blue, and it was only polite of her to display them in the finest manner she could. If it had been her choice, she would have placed the flowers in the cut crystal jug that Abraxas had given her as a wedding gift, but…
If it had been her choice she would have thrown them to the ground and trampled them into the dirt. But she could never have done that, and putting them into the vase would have been the next best thing.
Her lips twitched into a smile. What would Cygnus have said if he had come home and found the flowers that he had spent so much time picking out for his wife being displayed in the vase given to her by her lover…?
She smoothed the petals of the flowers. They were fine white roses, the very highest quality and stripped of their thorns – pretty, pure, delicate and devoid of anything even remotely dangerous.
The smile slipped off of Druella's face as quickly as it had arrived. What a fine analogy that was – she, Druella, might as well have been one of those flowers. The thought was bitter, thinking of herself like those poor roses, destroyed by her husband so that they – so that she – would look pretty without the risk of hurting him.
Druella looked away from the flowers and smiled as Narcissa wandered into the parlour. At not yet quite three years old, Narcissa already bore too many of her father's features for Druella's comfort. She knew the resemblance had been commented upon more than once (by Maria Lestrange mostly, that meddling…) but Cygnus seemed to be capable of ignoring the accusations, which was all that mattered.
Narcissa grabbed onto her mother's skirts and looked up at her with wide, pale blue eyes framed in long blonde lashes.
Druella pulled her littlest daughter, her princess, up onto her lap and put her arms around her, holding her against her breast. She, Druella, might have been a rose stripped bare of its thorns, but when she saw her little girl (Abraxas's little girl) she felt as though she were the luckiest woman in the world. How many other people in her family had ever had a chance to bear children for the men the loved? Not many.
Narcissa grabbed at her mother's honey-blonde curls, giggling and knotting her little fingers into them. Druella laughed as well, letting her daughter's hands pull her silky locks softly.
Their moment of familial bliss was interrupted by a knock at the front door.
Druella pulled Narcissa up into her arms, still laughing as she made her way through the wide corridors of Black Manor to answer. Narcissa squealed softly, holding out her hands and touching the paintings that lined the hallways – dreadful dark ones, Druella thought, but they were Cygnus's, and she would not dare to say a word against them. She hoisted her daughter more securely into her arms when they approached the doors. Through the small, frosted windowpane, Druella could just make out an outline she fancied to be familiar.
She opened the door, balancing her daughter on her hip.
The smile slipped from her lips when she saw her visitor.
Was he mad? she thought, staring at Abraxas, who was standing upon the stoop, holding a bouquet of violets in his arms. She was rendered speechless by the sheer audacity of his appearance here – anyone could have seen! And what would people think, seeing him carrying flowers and coming to her door while Cygnus was out? As if people weren't gossiping enough.
"Hello," she managed at last, more than a little frostily.
Abraxas said nothing in response. He simply stepped in, as free of guilt or shame for intruding as if Druella had invited him. He closed the door quickly, then took Narcissa from her arms and kissed her.
In spite of herself, Druella felt the smile creeping slowly back onto her face. She took the violets from Abraxas's arms so that he could hold his daughter (his illegitimate daughter, but she did not care to focus on that at the moment) more easily. Narcissa laughed as her father swung her around lightly, and Druella felt a pang – oh, why couldn't I have married him?
Druella turned away quickly, not wanting those thoughts to burn themselves into her mind and send her into a depression. She pulled the crystal vase from a cabinet and setting the violets in it. She would put them in the kitchens, where Cygnus never ventured, and he would be none the wiser as to their existence.
She touched the violet petals absently, feeling the velvety texture slip gently against her fingers.
They did not have thorns either, she mused, stroking them. No more than the roses from Cygnus did. But there was a difference between them.
Roses were meant to have thorns, and violets were not.
When Druella was with Cygnus, she felt nothing but anger that she could not do anything to hurt him, but when she was with Abraxas, she never wanted anything more than to be beautiful to him.
Allowing a warm smile to creep across her lips, she dared to turn back to him and Narcissa, watching Abraxas entertain his little girl with some childish sort of game – peek-a-boo, I see you perhaps – that Cygnus would never have lowered himself to participate in.
They were a picture of a happy family – father, mother, daughter, all pretty and looking alike and wealthy and in love… had Druella not known, she would never have guessed that they were a family built on a foundation of infidelity and deceit.
But, as long as Abraxas and Narcissa there and Cygnus, Bellatrix and Andromeda were not, that fact didn't matter to Druella.
She was happy without them.