A/N- There is only one more chapter of this story left, so I'm tying up lose ends. If there is something that you feel isn't being addressed, then let me know so I can get it tied up in the last chapter. Thanks for coming on this emotional ride with me!
Chapter 20: Coming Together in Times of Sorrow
Sirius sighed softly as he dressed in his formal clothes, making sure he was impeccable before holstering his wand and making his way to the apparition point. He needed to get a hold of his grief, Narcissa needed someone to be there for her. He would have to man up and take her and Lucius in hand.
As much as he hated that pompous arse that she called a husband, Narcissa was a Black first, and family sticks together. Gathering his magic, he apparated to the front of Malfoy Manor, before walking up to the front door. Taking a breath, he gave a firm knock, wishing he was anywhere but here, but this had to be done.
"Where is your mistress?" Sirius asked briskly as he was led inside by a house elf.
"In the sitting room Lord Black," the elf replied before leading him to it.
Sirius followed dutifully after the creature, his face a blank mask as he passed the portraits on the wall to the sitting room. He took another deep breath as he walked inside the room.
"Cissa," he breathed out, his eyes taking in her pale and unkempt form. It was so unlike her but with the situation being what it was, this was no fault of her own. He found his body moving of its own accord towards her.
"Cousin," Narcissa hoarsely returned as she stared almost unseeingly at him.
Sirius needed no other encouragement, no other things were said. Despite his earlier admissions he knew that he had done the right thing. He gathered her in his arms tightly and hugged her, feeling her fragile form shake from her silent sobs. His family had never been there for him when he needed them, but he would be here for her because other than Harry she was all he had.
Severus sighed softly, as Harry's cries finally tapered off into small sniffles. He stood up with the child in his arms adjusting the boy accordingly. He had heard his Slytherin's pass by the corridors moments before but he hadn't been able to follow them. He needed to make sure that they were okay and that no one was blaming themselves. He glanced at the child in his arms, and he could see the boy's eyes were closed but he also knew that Harry wasn't asleep.
"Are you up to going into the Slytherin Common room with me?" Severus asked casually, wondering if Harry would rise to the bait.
"No, I've been in there already, nothing's change. Except Draco not being in there," he gasped out, pressing his face hard into his guardian's shoulder.
"Do you need me to get Sirius?" Severus asked kindly, even as he headed to the Slytherin Dorms.
"No, you said he was with his family," Harry mumbled out. He wasn't totally sure how he felt about that exactly.
"He's with Narcissa, that's his first cousin," Severus explained.
"So I was related to Draco?" Harry asked after a moment of silence had gone by.
"You were, both through your father and your godfather. Your paternal grandmother was a Black," Severus told him honestly.
"So basically Draco was like my 3rd cousin, and I never knew that," Harry said with a strange gleam in his eye.
"Yes," Severus replied softly as he continued to the Slytherin dorms. Touching his palm to the wall that guarded the Slytherin common room, he took a breath and walked on in. He had some students to soothe.
~(~(~(A Few Days Later~(~(~(~
Narcissa took a deep breath before grabbing some floo powder and stepping into the fireplace. "The Burrow," she called out clearly before she disappeared into the green flames.
She had never thought she would ever utter those words in her life, but then again she had never thought she would be doing a lot of things that she had done this week. No mother was supposed to bury her own child. How was she going to cope with this?
She pushed those tearful thoughts behind her mental barriers as she smoothly stepped out of the fireplace. Now was not the time to break down, she had a job to do. Silently spelling the soot from her clothes she waited patiently for someone to come. She knew she wasn't expected but she also didn't think anyone would mind. They were Gryffindors how could they not?
Molly Weasley wasn't expecting anyone so when she heard her floo ring, she wasn't sure what to think. Bill and Charlie had taken Fred and George out flying about 30 minutes before. She just wanted her boys to have a sense of normalcy amid their grief. And Percy and Arthur were at Mungos doing the latter's physical therapy. Sighing softly, she made her way down the stairs and to the floo room, gasping softly in surprise as she saw who it was.
"Mrs. Malfoy, may I help you with something?" Molly asked quietly, her hands clasped tightly in front of her. She wasn't afraid now, but she did feel some empathy for the other woman in front of her. She could see, the red rimmed eyes, and the less than perfect style of her hair, but she found no fault in her.
"Narcissa please," Narcissa replied quietly, her heart aching as she looked at the clock that showed where all the members of Molly's family currently were. Her own heart clenched at the thought that she would never ever see her beloved Draco again.
Molly smiled sadly as she followed the woman's gaze. "Narcissa, would you like some tea?" She asked instead, she could hear the hurt in the woman's tone and she ached with her.
"Tea would be lovely, thank you," Narcissa stated tearfully just barely being able to keep it together as it was.
Her manor had never felt so empty then it currently did, Lucius was never in the same room as her and she couldn't bear to go in her dragon's room. It didn't even feel like this was real, never had she thought this was a possibility. Her hand came to grab her chest as she struggled for control of her emotions, why had she come here? What had she been thinking of when she flooed here? She turned to leave when she felt a hand grab her free hand and hold it tightly.
"You are not alone here, I will be your rock if you need me too," Molly told her tightly, her throat thick with unshed tears. She could feel what the woman was going through, there had been times when she had thought that she had lost more than one of her children during the tragedy. But this was different, for it to be true, she didn't know how she would cope. But she could be here for her, and she would be.
"I need to talk to Fredrick," Narcissa whispered out, unable to raise her voice any higher. She was barely keeping it together as it was.
"And you will, but for now we will have some tea, you are no longer alone in your grief Narcissa. I haven't lost a child so I won't pretend like I know the pain you feel. However, I am here you," Molly told her fiercely.
There was nothing left for Narcissa to say to that declaration, so she didn't say anything. There was nothing to be said as she was pulled into a tight hug, where she wept for her lost child.
"Albus, what is the plan for Draco's memorial service?" Minerva asked quietly.
"Sirius is talking with the Malfoy's regarding it, he will let me know when he gets back. But I hope to have it here and after unveil the plaque of remembrance of all the children we lost that fateful day," Albus replied softly. He had never more felt his age then he did now.
"And you'll be adding Mr. Malfoy to that plaque as well?" Minerva asked tightly.
"Yes, he was affect by this tragedy, hurting in ways I can only imagine. And he deserves to be up there, to be remembered," Albus said firmly, wondering if she would dispute that.
"Good, I'm glad," Minerva told him quietly, she had been prepared to bring both Severus and Sirius to convince Albus that Draco's name needed to be there.
"Have you spoken with Dean Thomas and his family?" Albus asked after a moment.
"I have, as you were aware the Thomas's and Finnegan's family were quite close. They feel that he's not ready to come back at all this year, and he will be tutored at home. They aren't sure about his 4th year, but I'm staying in contact with them either way," she said sadly. It was a tragic situation all around.
"That's understandable, I think that it would be beneficial to maybe the close the school early for the summer holidays," Albus said slowly.
"Maybe we should wait, and discuss to see what the other Professor's think of that suggestion," Minerva said carefully.
"Right you are, I send out missives for a staff meeting and we will all go from there," he promised her.
Minerva nodded silently before making her way out of the room, she needed to make sure that her students were still okay.
Fred was confused when he and his brothers walked inside their house to see his mum and Draco Malfoy's mum talking quietly together. He wasn't exactly sure what to think, not to mention just what had they been talking about? What was going on? He swallowed thickly, wondering why she was even here? Was she here to blame him for her son's death as well?
He didn't want to hear it, but he knew since it was his fault, it was the least he could do. Fred grabbed his twin's hand tightly, as his older brothers led the way to where their mother was.
"Mum, are you alright?" Bill asked cautiously as neither woman had looked up when they opened the door.
"I'm alright dear, we were just discussing a few things. Can you and Charlie join me in the kitchen please?" Molly asked even as she gave the other woman's hand a small squeeze before standing up.
Bill's eyes flashed between the blonde woman and back to his twin brothers before he was shaking his head in denial. "No thanks mum, I'll stay out here with the twins," he said casually.
"She is not going to harm them William, now you and Charlie get over here," Molly hissed out. She was not in the mood for this, her emotions were already run ragged as it was.
Bill sighed but he and Charlie obediently made their way to their mother and disappeared into the kitchen.
George glanced at his brother before pulling him towards the couch that his mum had just vacated to take a seat. "What can we help you with Mrs. Malfoy?"
Narcissa smiled fondly even through her hurt she could see how much Fredrick had cared for her child. To know during his last torturous months at school that he hadn't suffered alone. That there had been someone there for him, when Lucius wouldn't, and she couldn't. They would never be able to repay him for that. But they would be able to help.
"I wanted to thank you Fredrick, for what you did for Draco," She started off softly.
Fred shook his head in denial, at her words, even as he felt his brother squeezing his hand tightly. "I should've been there for him," he said softly. "This is all my fault," he whispered out tearfully.
"It's no more your fault then it is mine, or his for that matter. He was very good at hiding his emotions, his father taught him well. But despite all that you saw through that mask and found him. He cared for you deeply, make no mistake about that," Narcissa told him firmly.
She would make him understand, he would not hold this in. It was not his fault, and she would be there to tell him that every day if she needed too. She would not watch as another child suffered in silence, for she had learned her lesson. And what a harsh lesson it had been.
"I'm sorry for your loss," Fred finally said sadly when it became apparent she wouldn't allow him to take the blame.
"As am I for yours," Narcissa replied kindly before pulling out a small black book that Severus had given him. They had both lost someone important too them. "Do you know what this is?"
"Draco's journal," Fred replied carefully wondering what she was planning on doing with it.
"Yes, I have a copy of it, but this is the original, and I want you to have it. You don't have to read it now, but in the future, you should," she said quietly as she held it out for him to take. She had kept all of her son's letters he had written to her, and she wasn't Fredrick to have her son's original journal.
"No, those are his personal thoughts. I can't betray him like that," Fred sniffled out refusing to take the book.
"You won't be betraying him, but you will get some closure from it," she insisted as she continued to hold it out to him.
George sighed before he gently took in the book in his brother's stead. "I will make sure he reads it," he promised her. They were both stubborn; and he didn't want to be sitting here all day waiting for his brother to grab the book from her.
Narcissa smiled fondly at him before reaching into her bag once more and pulling out an envelope. "This is also for you; I wish I could take this pain away from you. But to do so would mean that you hadn't gotten to know Draco; and I could never do that to you. It will get better Fredrick; we just need to take it a day at a time," Narcissa told him wretchedly.
"What is it?" Fred asked inaudibly as took the envelope from her curiously.
"Something to make you smile I hope. Draco told me of your dreams, I hope that you can make it a reality. We all could do with a little bit more laughter in our lives," Narcissa replied kindly.
Fred nodded in confusion, unsure exactly what Draco had said. He stood up and reached over to hug the woman tightly. "Thank you," he whispered out, his voice catching in his throat from the tears that were running down his face.
"No, thank you. And please tell your mother I will owl her, and feel free to come see me at the manor any time Fredrick," she told him kindly. He would not be shutting her out, for she was sure that Molly and her had come together. Their husbands would just need to get over it.
Fred nodded slowly watching impassively as she walked to the fireplace before she flooed out. He glanced at his twin who was still holding Draco's journal in his hands. He felt off about George holding it, but he didn't want to grab it himself. He swallowed the lump in his throat as he leaned on his brother.
"You gonna open it Freddie?" George asked, he was curious to know what was in it.
Fred glanced down at the envelope and nodded, wondering what on earth she had given him. He could feel something in the envelope but he was focused on the letter, and as he grabbed it, something small fell out.
"I got it," George said easily as he bent down to pick it up. His eyes widen as he looked at the key in his hand. "What's that letter say Freddie?" He asked quietly, his heart thudding quickly in his chest.
Fred gasped in disbelief as he held the letter out for his twin to see it as well.
To Mr. Fredrick Gideon Weasley:
I wish I could say this to your face, I wish I was strong enough to admit when I was wrong. But mostly I wish that I had been there for my son when he needed me. But I wasn't and I have to live with the consequences of that. But you do not, you were strong that even in your own grief, you found time for my Draco and you will always have my gratitude for that.
I wish that things could be different, but even me in all my wealth and political power I cannot get my son back. These are the moments in life where you realize how strong someone can be. Do not let this hinder you, you have an opportunity to live your life too the fullest extent that you can. Grieve for my son, but do not waste your life, you can get through this. You are not at fault in this, in no way was my son's death your fault; that is my burden to bear.
I want to say thank you for everything that you have done for my Draco. I wish you the very best in your life, and as a thank you I have enclosed a key for you. This is yours to do with whatever you choose to do. There are no strings attached and I want nothing from you in return. Live your dreams, and remember the good times with Draco. He would want you bring joy to everyone like you did for him.
Fred almost couldn't breathe as he looked from the letter to the key in his brother's hand. He didn't know how to feel now, but shock and disbelief and a bit of fear of the unknown had taken over the grief he had been feeling. He was curious to see how much was in the vault, for that's what the key was obviously too. He swallowed thickly before turning to look towards the kitchen door where his mum and older brothers had disappeared into.
"Mum, you can come out now. Can George and I go to Diagon Alley please?" Fred called out, surprising himself that his voice while a bit thick, came out clearer then he had thought.
"If Bill or Charlie goes with you both," Molly replied easily as she came out of the kitchen.
George looked towards his older brothers expecting one of them to come with them as he headed over with his twin to the fireplace.
"Where do you need to go Fred?" Bill asked warily.
"Gringotts," Fred replied softly.
"I'll go then, I need to talk with my superior regarding my leave anyway, come on then," Bill said as he grabbed the floo powder and ushered them all into the fireplace. He was feeling oddly protective of all his siblings so they would be going together. "Take care of Mum, Charlie," he told him before they disappeared in the green flames.
They landed in one of the fireplace designated for floo travel in the alley and ushered his brothers down the cobblestone path. He wasn't sure what they needed at the bank, but he gathered it might have to do with the letter and key in his brother's hand. Their mum seemed to think whatever they had was alright so he would trust her judgement, for now anyways. The brothers walked up the steps to the bank, following their older brother who led them to a goblin teller.
"We need to speak to someone regarding a gift vault please," Bill stated respectfully.
"Of course William, may I see the key?" The Goblin requested.
George handed over the key wearily as he watched the Goblin's eyes lit up in recognition before glancing down at the red-headed males.
"I see, did you wish to visit the vault today or did you just want a statement regarding how much is in it?" The Goblin asked.
"Uh, I guess we can see the vault, and get a statement while we are at it," Bill replied when it became apparent his brothers wouldn't be answering. He nodded his thanks as he was passed the parchment letting out a low whistle as he saw the amount.
"Is it a lot Bill?" George asked out softly as they followed a Goblin towards the carts.
"I'll say, who left you guys 1 million galleons?" Bill asked quietly, this was more money than he had ever seen before. He was in shock that much was apparent.
Fred gasped softly, as he grabbed the parchment out of his brother's hand, stopping in the middle of the bank to stare in incredulity at the parchment. "Oh my Merlin," he breathed out, his legs trembling. If he hadn't of been holding onto his twin, he knew for sure he would have fallen.
"You okay there Freddie?" George asked softly.
Fred blew out a breath and gave a weak chuckle. "No, but I think in time, I will be," he said softly as he allowed his brothers to help him onto the cart. He did not ever think this would be the result of his talk with Narcissa.
"Uncle Severus, what's going to happen now?" Harry asked quietly as they made their way to the Great Hall.
"Well, we will have a memorial service here for Draco and then his parents will send out invitations for his funeral and we go to that. And then when it's all said and done, the Headmaster has a plaque he will set up somewhere on the grounds, to remember the 24 students that we lost," he said including Draco in the count.
"Then can we go home?" Harry asked quietly he didn't think he was strong enough to do school anymore this year. True they only had a few more months until the summer Holidays but he was overwrought for it.
"Yes, we can go home," Severus promised him. School could wait, Harry emotional state was more important now. And he knew that other parents probably felt the same. They had tried to give a semblance of calm but that had shattered yet again. And everyone needed to come to terms with yet another death.
"When will Uncle Sirius come back?" Harry asked after a moment.
"I'm not sure to be honest, but he will be back," Severus assured him.
Harry nodded, he wasn't worried about that. He was just so heartbroken at the moment, that he wanted everyone he loved close to him. He gritted his teeth hard to stop the wave of grief that threatened his calm façade. He just needed to get through one more service and then he would be home free. If he had to bury another one of his friends, he was sure that he would break, and no one would be able to fix him.