What is the point of killing Molly Weasley, I wonder while I glance at my sister's grinning face.
"I would have thought you would have been more happy with the news. You hate those filthy blood traitors," Bella announces as her smile fades.
I fiddle with the warm cup of tea in my hands, enjoying the sensation of the heat spread to my fingertips. Bella does not drink tea, which is just as well. My sister was never one I readily associated with fine china, even before her spell in Azkaban. She paces up and down while I try to eat my breakfast calmly in an attempt to salvage my once peaceful morning.
"I'll be happy when I see Draco," I reply, changing the subject around to what I want to talk about and not Bella's plans for tonight. So she wants to kill a blood traitor and she has finally gotten her way. Well, I want my son and until I have him back, to me her victories will always seem petty.
"I've told you, he is doing the Dark Lord's bidding. You should be happy for him."
Yes, I would be if I were you, Bella, for you could not understand the love I have for him even if you tried.
"I will be when I can see my son." I glare at her hoping to get my point across.
I always wonder how far I have to push Bellatrix to make her turn on me. I thought I had done it for sure the night we paid Snape a visit, but she took my actions remarkably well. I have no evidence that she would ever hurt me, not the good sister that married into a respectful family. Though with what she says about Andromeda I never stop wondering.
"You've gone soft, Cissy," she says.
"Maybe I have." Not this time, Bella. It is time again for me to get what I want. "Then again, maybe I should take this matter up with Severus."
She glares at me. Severus will get Draco for me. He has always had a soft spot for me, and I find that getting what you want out of a person is easy when you are what they want. But he has always been a last resort. One's loyalty should always firstly be to ones family, and for me that just happens to be Bella, at stubborn and unhelpful as she is.
"How do I know that if that he comes here the Aurors won't show up?" she asks.
"I know when an Auror is within five miles of this house. I can hide him." I then realise what she has suggested. Silly me. I must remember my refusal to have myself branded means everyone will forever doubt me. "Are you questioning my loyalty?" I ask bluntly.
Bellatrix says nothing.
"They have thrown my husband in Azkaban and they hunt my son. Do you honestly think I would ever go crawling to them?"
"Fine then," Bellatrix relents. "Tonight. I don't think he has the stomach for what I plan to do anyway," Bella adds. She says it like it is an insult. I know he has not got the stomach for it. He is my son and I raised him to be proud and not a murderous lowlife. Murder is so common. It is beneath us.
Bellatrix leaves, and soon after I head for Draco's bedroom in the hope that maybe, just maybe he will sleep there tonight. It has been such a long time.
What is the point of killing Molly Weasley? The thought works its way back into my mind as I walk alone down the corridors through the portraits of so many former heirs of the Malfoy name. Malfoys are all men, they take wives but rarely have daughters. Draco is a Malfoy. Lucius is a Malfoy. In the eyes of the portraits I am a Black and I shall always be a Black. Despite this, these days I am the only one who walks down the long corridors of Malfoy Manor.
Molly is the last Prewitt. I remember when that name meant something. I remember when my name meant something. The Blacks were one of the greatest wizarding families, not just in Britain but the world. We were much older and much prouder than even some of the better-known continental families. We had status and power, and all the opportunity we could want was served up to us, the toasts of British society.
There was a point to Sirius' death. He betrayed us all. Spent his time fighting against his own blood. Maybe one day he would have married a muggle and had half-blood children not worthy to carry the name. Maybe there was a point to Regulus' death. He was a coward. He ran away, incapable of fighting whole-heartedly for the cause. But then again, we Blacks have never prided ourselves on our bravery. We were Slytherins through and through. Bravery is not in our nature; that was why he was killed. The last of the Blacks killed for being a Black.
Pureblood cause? What pureblood cause? The ideology we were sold is nowhere to be seen, the deaths are random and there is no reason anymore. They are mainly just covers for revenge. In the name of cleansing our blood we are killing so many who did not deserve to be wiped out.
And now, tonight, the last of the Prewitts killed for marrying a pureblood and having pureblood children. Yes, they were filthy and scruffy and did not care whom they associated with, but Andromeda did far worse and that does not make her any less of a pureblood or any less of a sister. I wish sometimes I knew where she was. That freak of a daughter of hers hides her away, saving her from being a victim but enhancing my own isolation. Andromeda was always more willing to listen than Bella.
Pushing aside the heavy mahogany door, I reach my destination. Draco's room stands soulless and alone, as it has done for so many months. It has been far too long since he has walked through the corridors of his own home. All I have had is quickly scribbled letters that do not say much and verbal reports from Bella to keep up on his progress. I hear more from Lucius in Azkaban.
Yes, Lucius. This is some bright future you have in store for us. You incarcerated, Draco missing and hunted by Aurors and me left trying to hold the Malfoy name up against Ministry scrutiny. My home searched every other week, my assets investigated, my name slandered in the papers. Is this your utopia? Severus Snape giving orders? Werewolves being revered? Pureblood families being wiped out?
Draco's room is empty. The green curtains and bedspread remain still. We decorated it that colour the day Draco was sorted, in honour of him carrying on the family tradition. To an untrained eye it may look tidy. However the dark wooden furniture betrays a thin white layer of dust and the room gives away a musty, damp smell. Nothing at all like my son.
"Dimpy!" I call.
With a crack the house-elf appears in front of me. "Dimpy is here, Mistress." She bows low, just the way we expect her to do so.
"Master Draco will be home tonight. I want his room impeccable or it's clothes for you."
"Not clothes for Dimpy, Mistress!"
"This room is your responsibility, Dimpy, and it is untidy."
"Yes, Mistress. Dimpy has failed Mistress."
"Yes, Dimpy has."
I walk out leaving Dimpy attempting to smash her head open on the wall. I hope she does not succeed. The last thing this house needs is blood-stains.
My mind wanders to Molly Weasley again. I do wish Bella had not told me in advance; it is so odd knowing that it is her last day on earth.
I knew Molly as a child. I was always much younger than her, but she was present at the gatherings one would have for births, weddings and funerals. The three of us, Bella, Andi and I, never thought very highly of her despite the fact we were all younger. We were taller, we were thinner, we were richer and we were far prettier. We did not turn red when we got flushed. We walked with grace. Molly Prewitt never did those things. We joked sometimes that she could not a real pureblood; somebody had switched her at birth with a Muggle. She would never have made a good marriage; her brothers inherited all the benefits of the Prewitt blood to her detriment. I suppose that a Weasley was her only option.
But did she deserve to die? Did she deserve what Bellatrix was planning to do, storm the Weasley home while her children were away and her husband was working? Did she deserve to be tortured until Bella was satisfied? Did her husband, the blood traitor, deserve to come home to the dark mark above his home and his wife's dead body?
Maybe she did deserve to die. These were the same people who stormed my home and interrogated me for hours. The same people who kept tabs on my every move whenever I left my home. The same people who would not hesitate to throw Draco in jail for the rest of his life, or feed him to the Dementors, or torture him for information. Harry Potter attempted to kill my only child, and I know those vicious children of hers were involved in it somehow, or at least laughing with glee at the news.
Reminding myself of these facts, I keep myself occupied as the hours of the day count down. I write letters to my friends discussing the silly little details, the latest robe patterns and colours, how annoying house elves can be, excellent recipes. One must keep up appearances even in the current times.
I find myself pacing up and down the lounge while watching the clock. Nearby is the portrait of Draco I commissioned before he went to Hogwarts. Back then he would talk about his plans for the future and how he was not just going to live up to the Malfoy name, he was going to surpass it. His face as a child stares down at me, watching me with his little pleased expression. I wonder if the painting knows that his likeness is on the run.
The doorbell rings, sending the clanging noise of the bells ringing through the house and breaking the silence. I rush to the door.
He stares up at me with those grey eyes he inherited from me.
I encase him a hug. He's thin. He's always been thin, but he's thinner than he should be. I should never have let him go. Never have let him leave this house, not to go to Hogwarts and certainly not to attend Death Eater meetings.
Kissing him forehead, I let go and survey him, running my hands down his face, reminding myself he is real and whole. He looks so tired and mournful and so much more mature than I had last seen him. His hair is much longer. He looks more and more like his father and yet in a way nothing at all like Lucius. He looks so much older than Lucius did at his age.
"You're home!" I finally exclaim. It comes out as a relieved sob.
He wanders into the lounge quietly and I watch him look around.
"Do you want some food?" I ask. He must be hungry; he is so thin.
"No," he replies quietly. "I think I just want to go to my room."
"I've kept it just like you had it. The Aurors searched it, but I always had the house-elves put it back just the way it was," I tell him.
He nods and wanders off to his room, leaving me once again to the silence of Malfoy Manner. My son is home and yet the house is just as quiet and empty as it had been without him.
I sit and wait for a moment and then I follow behind him, sneaking down the corridors. Spying on my own son. What a mother I have become.
I glance through is his bedroom door and see Draco sitting between his bed and the wall, arms wrapped around his knees, his face hidden just like a child would do.
My son, my only child, is crying inside his room.
I walk away quietly and reach the kitchen, someplace private and away from the prying, judgmental eyes of the portraits and somewhere I will not be stumbled upon should Draco go wandering. The house-elves are busy preparing a roast, a celebration for the return of Draco, and the kitchen smells like rosemary.
"Get out!" I yell.
They flee. They are not stupid creatures.
Finding solace in the corner amongst the cupboards, I begin to weep.
My son is in pain and I can do nothing to stop it. Draco acts on the orders of the Dark Lord and I have no power to defy him. I have no power to protect my family. The Dark Lord knows all. He kills those who defy him. He shows no mercy to those who fail him. He destroys those who betray him. Sirius, Lucius, Regulus: the constant reminders of the fate we face.
My family has fallen, and my son will be next and there is no escape. This is not a utopia, Lucius. You have damned us all and I can do nothing to stop it.
I think of Molly Weasley again. That poor doomed woman. I am trapped like her, incapable of escaping my fate. I cannot escape and I cannot help my son escape, and even if I did, they would surely kill Lucius. Nobody thinks that Azkaban could hold with the Dementors on our side. Azkaban is only permitted to stand so long as no one the Dark Lord favours is incarcerated there. My husband made the mistake that trapped us, but he does not deserve to be killed.
My son is fated to kill or be killed and my family has been ruined and if I speak out I will be killed, or Lucius shall be killed, or Draco shall be killed.
She is fated to die and her family is doomed to ruin.
Unless I act.
A life for a life. Molly Weasley's life for my husband's freedom. It is not a bad deal.
Looking out the window, night is falling. If I am going to act, I have to act quickly. I get up off the floor and pull out my wand.
Walking down the corridor I stare defiantly at the portraits, dismissing their judgemental stares. I am not damning this family like your son has, I am saving it and do not dare tell me otherwise.
When I enter Draco's room, he is sitting on the edge of the bed staring at the wall. He looks to me.
"Don't," he says quietly with a desperate look in his eyes, as if he knows my plans before I even do.
"I am your mother. I love you and I would rather die then see you live like this, but we do not have much time."
"Please don't," he says one more time.
I wrap my arms around him and kiss him on the forehead. "I will come back for you tonight," I whisper, "and we will run. You, me and your father. We will run away. We will escape this."
I hurry out of the front door. There is no time to pack. No time to lock away what is left of the valuables. No time to give the house-elves orders.
As the chill of night hits my cheeks pull out my wand and glance back at the house. It has been part of my life for so long. But, I remind myself, my family is Draco and Lucius, not the hallways and portraits and heirlooms that had always looked down on me.
Clutching my wand apparate to Molly Weasley's house in Catchpole.
I stand on the front lawn. It is dark, but even though we cannot see much, I still feel out of place with the surroundings. What have I done? These people are blood traitors. They associate with half-breeds, Mudbloods and freaks.
I am doing this for Draco, I remind myself.
I walk across the lawn. There is just one light on in the whole house, shining out from the kitchen. She would not have house-elves I tell myself. It is really a very small house. Even worse than I had expected.
I knock on the door.
"Who is there?" comes a strained voice from inside.
"Narcissa Malfoy and I demand you speak with me."
"I'm not letting you in my house," comes the now alarmed voice.
"It is in your best interests that you do," I reply.
I hear the sound of unlocking. Foolish woman. I though it would require much more to get her to open her door to me. Yet another person underestimating what I am capable of.
The door swings open, but no one is there to greet me. There are no corridors in the Weasley home, just an entrance to the kitchen.
I step in and turn around to find someone familiar staring back. Silly me. How did I not realise that Molly Weasley is not the only one who will die here tonight?
"I hoped you would not come," Bellatrix says, her wand pointed at me.
I could defeat her, but looking at my surroundings I would not last long. She is not the only Death Eater there. Three more figures with black robes and white masks watch me, nameless and faceless witnesses to my demise.
Molly Weasley is here, on the floor by Bella's feet looking up at me. Her hair is wild and her expression pained. Bellatrix has probably been having fun while waiting for me.
"It's quite sad really," Bella says. "Draco begged me not to test you. He told me he would tell you himself, that it was entrapment and he would warn you. He had his opportunity, but obviously he must not value your life more than his own."
I should never have taught Bella about the practical uses of unbreakable vows.
"You're going to kill me," I say, daring her to admit it.
"I have no choice. You are not loyal. You are unworthy."
Just like Regulus.
I stare at her dark eyes. I wonder when we lost her? When she broke our mother's cardinal rule and switched her loyalty from her family? And, I wonder, how did I let this happen?
"Then I shall die." I grip my wand tighter and look at Molly. There is still life behind those brown eyes and determination written across her brow. She makes a small nodding gesture. Molly is the last of the Prewitts, condemned for marrying a pureblood and having his children. And I, Narcissa Atropos Malfoy am the last of the true Blacks, condemned for my unwavering loyalty to my family.
We shall not go down without a fight.