Chapter 1: Prologue
It was 7 years after the war, at some tedious ministry event, when Lucius Malfoy made the unpleasant discovery that Draco actually meant it when he yammered on about how sorry he was for his part in the war. Certainly one has to say things like that when finding oneself on the wrong side of a war. Placating the rabble like Minister Shacklebolt and the Weasleys is part of the indignity of losing. But to actually mean it? Preposterous. He always knew he’d allowed Narcissa to coddle the boy too often.
It was 10 years after the war when Narcissa suggested they move to France. She was too refined to say it out loud, but his refusal to pretend remorse or throw the muggle-loving branch of the Wizengamot a bone when it came to their ridiculous proposals was hampering her efforts to return them to their rightful place in civilized British society. She was still unable to reclaim the Yule Ball on the calendar. Last year the ball was held by Luna Longbottom, of all people. Narcissa’s couture gown had been saturated with garish rainbow colored fairy dust and ruined. After a decade of trying to redeem the Malfoy name, Narcissa was ready for a strategic retreat. Lucius had titles in both wizarding and muggle France. Plus the French were so invested in seeming above such things as the failed “Pure Blood Uprising” in Britain that Narcissa and Lucius would be welcomed into society as a quaint oddity. Lucius knew Narcissa could work with that. Within 5 years they would be hosting the premier event of the season.
It was 22 years after the war when Daphne and Lucius’ two grandsons showed up on Lucius’ doorstep. Draco had been murdered in the street like a dog by some crazed muggleborn who still held a grudge over the death of some relative or another. As if everyone hadn’t lost someone in the war. It was war for Merlin’s sake. The six year old’s French was atrocious, but Narcissa would have it fixed before the year is out. At least Daphne had insisted the kids receive proper tutoring in spite of Draco’s regret and desire to lose all the trappings benefiting their station.
It was 36 years after the war when the trembling began in Lucius’ left arm. Because, of course, the Dark Mark hadn’t finished taking things from him. Apparently his dignity and his life were still on the list. According to the healers, the mark had been slowly siphoning away his magic all this time, like the slow rotting away of the support beams in a house. His magical core was finally so compromised that physical symptoms were beginning to show. There was nothing to be done. Sometimes, late in the evening, after an injudicious amount of firewhiskey Lucius wrote letters to Lord Potter-Black asking if others were showing the same signs, asking if the healers in Britain had any success in treating it, asking if he was entirely positive that the Dark Lord was truly, 100%, most assuredly, dead… Lucius always burned the letters in the morning when he was back in his right mind. Dealing with one expensive healer after another, each faking sympathy as they proved utterly useless was gulling. He missed his old friend, Severus, who surely would have at least entertained him with an epic amount of bitching while failing to find a cure.
It was 38 years after the war when Lucius Malfoy’s magical core broke killing him instantly. Which was fortunate because he was spared the indignity of feeling his face fall into his bowl of vichyssoise.
Chapter 2: So This is Death
Lucius meets magic. She's not what he expected.
Lucius had always assumed death was the end. Just as there was nothing before he was born, there would be nothing after he was dead. He is quite chagrined to find himself standing in a train station next to an elderly woman dressed in a housecoat carrying a giant purse and an umbrella.
The old woman smacks Lucius with her umbrella. “You really are a pain in my ass, Lucius. A smart lad with good placement, but more stubborn than a mountain, and completely unwilling to consider you might be wrong about something.”
Lucius dodges back to avoid the next two swipes of the umbrella. “So the muggles were right about Hell, I see. I suppose I get an eternity of listening to some uptight, old biddy harangue me.”
“Not at all. I’m here to offer you a deal.” The woman stops swinging her umbrella and starts rummaging through her bag. “Not that you’ll take it, of course. Stubborn, pig-headed, self-righteous tosser that you are.” Finally finding what she was looking for she pulls a little tin out of her bag. A tin in the shape of a raven with blood red eyes. Or maybe it’s a white sow. Lucius can’t seem to get a good look at it in her gnarled hands as she wrestles the top off.
“So here’s the deal. I can send you on off to the other side. You can be reunited with whatever loved ones you have still hanging about. Blah, blah, blah.” She pauses as she selects a hard candy out of the tin and shoves it into her mouth. She bites down on it. The cracking and crunching sounding like breaking bones and exploding tree limbs rather than simple hard candy. Lucius is shocked the old woman has any teeth left after that display.
“I assume sending me off to the other side isn’t the deal, considering I’m already dead and all.”
“Yes, yes, always impatient. The other choice is I can send you back. All the way back to when your little Draco was 5 years old. The dark lord will be without a body. I’ll send you back without the dark mark and with your magical core free from any black magic stain. I’ll even send you back with the ability to remove the dark mark from others who wish to be free of it. You’ll retain all your knowledge of the events that came to pass the first time, along with the knowledge of which items house all of ol’ Voldy-pants nasty little horcruxes. It will be your chance for a complete do-over. Hopefully you won’t make such of bloody mess of everything a second time ‘round.”
Lucius thinks. He tests her words looking for the inevitable curse in such an offer. “Will I go back in this body or simply arrive with this knowledge in my younger body?”
She smiles at him. The candy has stained the edges of her teeth an unsettling red color. “Your soul now, unmarked and cleansed of black magic, will be placed into your younger body. You’ll get to enjoy being young and fit again with a young and fit wife.” She leers and chuckles.
Lucius tries not to shudder. “Will I keep the magic gained in my second maturation at age 60 or will I be limited by my younger magical core?”
“I suppose I can allow you to keep the larger magical core. And you will still enter into a second magical maturation should you live to see 60 a second time. Congratulation, you’ll be a Magus after all.”
It had always gulled him that he remained 5 points below the scale to qualify as a Magus. “What do I have to sacrifice for all this? A second chance, knowledge, freedom, the ability to fix past mistakes, plus more power. Such a deal would come with a very high cost.”
“Ah, there’s the suspicious bastard I expected. There is a cost. You must save Harry Potter. You must raise him, love him, give him a place in the magical world. In short, you will not only help him defeat the Dark Lord Voldemort, you will ensure he finds happiness and fulfilment in the magical world.”
Lucius stares at the crazy old biddy and waits. He gives her time to laugh at her own joke and tell him the actual cost. Surely she’ll want to take Draco or Narcissa from him. Or he’ll have to do some ritual to raise some demon from a dark dimension. Maybe he’ll have to perform some small favor that in 600 years will bring about the end of all life on earth.
But she just keeps staring back at him. Waiting for his response. And it’s preposterous. Save Harry Potter? The whelp that refused to die? He had saved himself just fine. He defeated the Dark Lord before he even graduated from Hogwarts for Merlin’s sake. Then he claimed two titles and immediately wasted them by marrying into the Weasley clan. If anyone didn’t need saving, it was Harry Bloody Potter!
“Very funny. Now what will it actually cost me?”
“I have named my price. You will save Harry Potter. You will raise him. You will love him. You will help him defeat Voldemort. You will ensure he finds happiness and fulfilment in the magical world by taking his proper place. I’d consider it a personal favor if you could make sure that red-headed bitch and her mother don’t potion him into a loveless marriage. And if you could make Dumbledore cry by blocking his heavy-handed and horrific meddling, that would be the icing on the cake.”
“Dumbledore wouldn’t let me near Harry Potter if the boy were on fire and I was the only person around who knew a water conjuring charm. How on earth do you expect me to ‘raise him as my own’?”
“You’re a resourceful man with a brilliantly strategic wife. You’ll figure it out.” The old woman started rummaging in her purse again. Glimpses of candy wrappers, potion bottles, a dead fly, kernels of corn, and other oddities made Lucius vaguely nauseous. Everything in the bag seemed a little off in its proportions and color. As if he was seeing a poorly placed illusion. The edges never quite lining up like they should. He wrenched his gaze away.
“What do you get out of this? The boy takes his proper place. And you?”
She cackles. Looking up from her bag her intense gaze locks with Lucius “I get to live. You succeed and I’ll be renewed. Once more able to kick up my heels and dance in the moon beams. You fail, and I’ll stay as I am. Withering away, forgotten and gone in another 3 maybe 4 generations.”
A chill rises up Lucius’ spine and arms. He can hear a horn blow in the distance and smell the deep dark woods.
“Who, what are you? What horror will I renew in this world by taking your deal?” He hears the thundering of hooves and another horn blow, closer this time. The end of the train station is in darkness. Something is coming. Something hungry and without mercy. Baying hounds and clattering hooves approach. Lucius squeezes his eyes shut. He holds his breath and shakes with fear. Waiting. Waiting for something worse than death.
Then silence. He opens his eyes. The train station is just a train station again.
The old woman frowns. “Is that any way to speak to Magic, my boy? All these years pushing for pure blooded traditions to honor me and now you cringe away. Have you simply been paying lip service to your devotion? When you swore your life to me at your coming of age ritual, did you think I wasn’t listening? Did you think I’d never come to collect? You swore your soul and magic to me, and then allowed them to be marked and tainted by that twisted mortal! Your very core shattered under the weight of your broken oath to me. Now I’m allowing you to reconsider. I believe my offer is more than generous, Lucius, son of Eleanor, grandson of Vivienne, great grandson of Sidonie. What is your choice?”
Lucius keeps his mouth shut and thinks. He never really believed that there was an embodied force of magic. His mother had insisted he follow the rituals of the old ways. Those bit and pieces of tradition left from before. From the Faerie Courts before they fled underhill, from the High Elves before they sailed to the west, from the fragmented traditions of Ur and Egypt, from the writings of Cassandra and the Oracles. Different families had different names and slightly different rituals and lore. His mother left milk and honey when cutting flowers from her garden. His father had always huffed about how his mother left mead and stout as was proper, “spirits for the spirits is the thing to do, my boy.” But Lucius had always felt they were just traditions. Things to pass along to prove your family had the proper amount of history to be admired. Unlike these uninitiated muggleborns with their lack of tradition, or worse, still clinging to their muggle faith. He had forced Narcissa to skip Draco’s coming of age ritual since Draco would be initiated into his wizarding adulthood by taking the Dark Mark.
Thoughts swirling Lucius finally asks, “Why me?”
“Most family rituals require young ones pledge their life and magic to me in their coming of age ceremony. But your mother followed the tradition of Boadicea’s line. So you pledged your soul into my care as well. That gives me the option to intervene on your behalf with my brother. Luckily Death is fond of Harry Potter. So he’s willing to let me bend the rules. It has to be you.” The old woman digs into her purse, pulls out a golden apple, shakes her head, and tosses it back in. Next she pulls out a ball of golden thread, shakes her head no again, and tosses it back. Still digging she asks, “So what is your answer, Lucius of Boadicea’s lineage? Do you step into the great beyond, or do you return to save Harry Potter?”
“I will return, Lady.” Lucius says.
“Excellent” She finally pulls a dead fish from her bag, a rainbow of colors flashing across the fish’s scales as the light hits it. She licks the fish, then uses her other hand to grab the back of Lucius’ head and pull his face down for a kiss. Her lips are chapped. She smells of mothballs, potions, and the rich dark earth. Her tongue touches his and he has visions of purple flowers pushing up from beneath the snow. Then lightning hits him.
Chapter 3: The Witching Hour
Lucius’ lungs heave as he bolts up in bed. Echos of his shout ring through the room though he has no idea what he was shouting. Narcissa knocks the glass of water off her side of the bed as she grabs her wand to cast Lumos.
“What is it? Lucius, what’s wrong?” Narcissa pats his arms and torso looking for a wound or something to explain her husband’s terror.
Lucius looks and is struck by how young she is. Were they really such babies the first time he made these choices? “I’m fine. I’m alright.”
He takes hold of her hands. His beautiful, soft, delicate wife. She stood beside him, every bad decision he made. She’d done everything in her power to spin things for the best. She was smart and loyal and he had never given her enough credit for everything she’d done to restore their good name. Even after Draco died and the name and titles were bound for a distant cousin in Belgium, she had ensured they were the pinnacle of society. She had tried to protect Draco in a hundred little ways. She never once asked if he could be spared the mark, but she had offered opportunities for Draco to be sent away. The Salem Institute in America, an early potions apprenticeship in Switzerland, an elderly Aunt of the Black family in Quebec. She had tried to spare their son slavery to a mad man and war but never once voiced that Lucius was an idiot and an ass for insisting Draco stay.
He looks into her pale blue eyes and says, “I love you. You are my greatest treasure.”
She sucks in a quick breath in surprise. “Oh Merlin! You’re dying. What is it? Has someone poisoned you? Was it McNair? The loathsome little toad! I will hex his bollocks off and gut his cow of a wife.”
Lucius laughs. Great belly laughs. He laughs until tears and rolling down his face and he’s hiccupping.
Narcissa is less amused the more Lucius laughs. She finally gets out of bed and pulls on her robe ignoring her husband’s hysterics. “I’ll return to my own bedroom since it seems you find my worry so funny.”
Lucius pulls himself back under control. “No, wait. Please stay with me, Narcissa.” He gets out of bed and gently takes her arm. “I have a great deal to discuss with you.”
She allows herself to be lead back into bed. She arranges her pillows against the headboard and looks at him expectantly.
“I’m not even sure where to begin. I di-”
“Your arm!” Narcissa grabs his left arm and pulls it closer to examine it. “What happened to the mark?”
“Did you just say you died?” Narcissa tightened her hold on his arm.
“Ok, I believe you should start at the beginning.”
He tells her everything. How things went last time. Voldemort’s descent into madness. Losing the war. Draco’s regret and death. His own death and his deal with Magic.
The sun has risen and Lucius’ throat is dry by the time he is done. Narcissa is silent.
She rises and rummages through her vanity. She grabs a handkerchief, palms something else, and returns to bed. She pulls his left arm across her lap and then jabs him with a nail.
“Ow! What the seven hells is wrong with you?”
She drops the nail on her nightstand and wraps his bleeding arm with her handkerchief. “Just making sure you aren’t a changeling. Usually they only replace babies, but one has to be sure about these things.” She unwraps the handkerchief and murmurs a quick healing spell to close the puncture. Then she licks his bloodstain on the handkerchief as a final test.
“Ok, I believe you are my Lucius. So it appears we need a plan.”
Chapter 4: Lucius is an Idiot
Lucius is a bit of an idiot, which shouldn't surprise anyone.
Narcissa arranged for Draco to spend a few days with her friend Charlotte in Marseille.
Charlotte’s unfortunate attraction to witches, and witches only, meant she’d used her money to flee society and live the life of Bohemian abroad. She adores Draco and takes any opportunity to spoil him rotten. Even if that opportunity arrives with Narcissa’s crack of dawn floo call waking the limber young poet Charlotte had lured home and into her bed the night before.
Lucius almost feels guilty for sacrificing Charlotte in a dark ritual last time. But she was technically “untouched by man” and a pureblood. Women matching those requirements don’t exactly grow on trees. And needs must. The ritual hadn’t even worked. It took another 7 years for the Dark Lord to actually be resurrected.
But no use crying over spilled milk. Charlotte is alive and well again, and able to babysit his heir.
Narcissa obviously remembers that part of Lucius’ story because she gives him the hairy eyeball as she ushers a sleepy Draco through the floo to “have fun” with his “Auntie Charlotte” who he “loves and adores and would miss terribly if she weren’t there for some reason.”
Once Draco is seen off, Narcissa and Lucius eat a quick breakfast and start in on a pot of strong tea. It’s time to make their plans.
“It’s simple. We find Potter, kidnap him, and flee to Brazil to live in an enclave of Grindelwald’s old supporters. Neither the British Ministry nor the ICW will be able to touch us.”
Lucius sits back in his chair ready for Narcissa to praise his simple but brilliant plan.
“You’re an idiot.” Narcissa says.
Lucius rears back like he’s been slapped. He jumps to his feet, “Excuse me?” he growls.
“You’re an idiot.” Narcissa says again. Her eyes calmly meeting his as she sips her tea.
“How dare you speak to me in this manner!” Lucius yells slamming his hands on the table making his tea slosh over the rim of his cup. He takes a deep breath and then continues with his voice low, quiet and deadly. “I am your husband, your patriarch, and your Lord. You will address me with respect.”
“No.” Narcissa says simply. She puts her cup down and folds her hands in her lap. “I have spent my entire life being the perfect, well-bred, wife. Never arguing, never contradicting, never voicing what I want. Always being supportive. Always ensuring life is made as easy as possible for you. Always thinking about how I can get us in with the right people at the right time so your ambitions are met.
According to you, a lifetime of that earned me humiliation in front of my peers, exile from my home, and a dead son.
We did things your way and it went so poorly that Magic herself had to intervene to prevent the destruction of everything we hold dear. So I will not bite my tongue and quietly steer from the background. I will not nod and smile while franticly trying to get you to change course with mild suggestions and opportunities that you think have just magically appeared before you.
You are not ‘the luckiest bastard alive’ as you so often proclaim when your latest coup comes off without a hitch. What you are is married to me. And I work tirelessly so your goals are my goals, your wants are my wants, your victories are my victories. And last night those victories turned to ash in my mouth. Your victories ruined us. Your victories will lead to the end of magic. Your victories saw my son marked by a lunatic and murdered.
I will no longer waste my time protecting your precious ego. We will be partners, and I will speak plainly. There will be no misunderstanding between us. You are my husband, my patriarch, my Lord and I love you. But you are an idiot and the stakes are simply too high for me to remain silent. ”
Narcissa draws her wand clearing the table. Then summons several long blank scrolls of parchment.
Lucius is furious. He can feel the adrenalin coursing through his veins and his magic whirling around him.
An idiot? He is Lord Lucius Malfoy. People on the street dart into shops and out of his path in fear. Half the Ministry breaks out into a cold sweat simply when he walks across the lobby. He is, well was, the Dark Lord’s right hand man. He is not-
“Stop pouting and let’s start working on a real plan.” Narcissa says while arranging the parchment on the table. “Tell me again Magic’s exact terms for your deal.”
“I am not pouting! My plan is perfect. How dare you act like-”
Narcissa never even looks up from the parchment when she casts her silencing spell.
“Your plan is idiotic. It doesn’t even meet half of Magic’s requirements.” Narcissa starts a bullet pointed list on the first parchment.
- Save Harry Potter
- Raise Harry Potter
- Love Harry Potter
- Help Harry Potter defeat the Dark Lord
- Ensure Harry Potter finds happiness and fulfilment in the magical world
- Stop Harry Potter from being potioned into a loveless marriage with Ginevra Weasley.
- Make Dumbledore cry
Lucius grabs the teapot from the sideboard and throws it into the wall.
This will not be borne! He will not be called an idiot, silenced, and ignored by his own wife.
Narcissa flinches at the sound of the tea pot breaking but recovers quickly.
Tibby pops in and starts cleaning up the shattered teapot and the wall.
Lucius glares at Narcissa with murder in his eyes. His breathing fast and labored causing his nostrils to flare reminding Narcissa of her father’s prized stallion.
Lucius reaches for a vase at the end of the sideboard.
Narcissa accio’s it and says, “It’s remarkable how it’s always my stuff you break when you are simply ‘too angry to control yourself’. One would think that if you were actually beyond the ability to reason, it would be whatever is closet that would get broken.
But it’s not. It’s always something of mine. Which seems to indicate you aren’t actually beyond reason or control. You are just indulging yourself in this tantrum.”
Narcissa finites the silencing spell and puts the vase, a wedding gift from her great-great grandmother, on the table.
Lucius is still angry but doesn’t want to give her the satisfaction of calling his righteous anger a “tantrum” again. So he stays still while franticly thinking of something cutting and cruel to say.
Narcissa walks over and opens up the French doors out onto the patio. She steps into the light. The sun glints off her hair making it sparkle like spun gold and ice. She closes her eyes and tilts her face up to the sun, breathing deeply. The scents of freesia and lilacs drift into the breakfast room. She is stunning. Her silhouette against the bright mid-morning light. She looks like a Nordic goddess, Freya with her chariot of cats pulling the sun across the sky.
Lucius remembers when he first saw Narcissa. She was being introduced to society at the mid-summer ball hosted by Circe Zabini. All the other young women paled in comparison. Lucius had begged his father to offer her father a betrothal contract that very night. Gossip said she’d been offered two dozen betrothal contracts in the week after the ball, some of them from young men who weren’t even there but had heard about her from their friends. Lucius has never dared to ask why she chose his. There were times, early in their marriage, where he’d be struck dumb by her beauty. She’d see him staring and smile at him. And he’d feel his love for her like a punch to his gut. It would leave him breathless and stupid.
Narcissa is still outside in the sunlight when she turns back around to face him again. The bright sun shining through the open door making his eyes squint and water as he looks at her.
She comes back inside and walks over to the window seat that she uses for her needlepoint in the mornings. The sunlight streaming in, making it easy to see the threads and stiches.
She holds out a hand and says “Come, sit here with me.”
Lucius walks across the room, takes her sun-warmed hand sits with his back wedged into the corner of the window and the post that frames the window seat so he is half facing her rather than facing into the room. Naricssa lets go of his hand and slips her feet out of her pumps. She puts her back against the post on her side, turning fully to face him as she put her feet in his lap.
They haven’t sat like this in ages. It’s how they used to sit while munching midnight snacks after evenings spent lost in passion together. It’s how they used to sit when she was heavy with Draco and nothing made her feel better than Lucius rubbing her swollen feet and ankles. It’s how they used to sit when they were young and in love, before he took on the mantle of Lord Malfoy, before he was marked by a madman, and before she became society’s most sought after hostess.
“This is going to be hard for you.” Narcissa says. Her voice is quiet and warm. “Nothing ever prepared you for having to grow up. Your entire childhood you were catered too, spoiled, assured of your place as lord and master of all your survey. You were raised to be Lord Malfoy. A position where you’d never have to worry about money or power. Where everything you desire is yours for the taking.
You were trained in how to walk, talk, and carry yourself as a rich and powerful man. But nothing was ever really expected of you. You have never once been asked to consider another person’s feelings, wants, dreams, and desires.
And now Magic has given you as task that you are completely unprepared and ill-suited to handle. You are going to have to put the happiness of Harry Potter above your own. And you don’t have any preparation or tools for that task.”
“That’s not true. I have you and Draco. I had to put the Dark Lords wants and desires ahead of my own.” Lucius states.
Narcissa laughs. Her voice is clear like a bell, but there is bitterness in the sound as well. “You’ve never considered that Draco or I may want something different than what you want. Did you know that Draco wants a Kneazle? He hasn’t asked you because he knows you don’t approve of animals in the house.”
Lucius gives his perfectly reasonable answer as to why pets simply aren’t a thing. “Animals are filthy and should be kept outside. Unless you’re too poor to have a barn so the livestock has to join you in your hovel for the winter.”
“Yes, as you’ve said, dear.” Narcissa smiles and Lucius gets the feeling she’s simply indulging him on the whole pet thing. Darn it. He’s pretty sure they’re going to have a Kneazle before the end of the year.
Narcissa continues, “As for me, I hate the Dark Lord with a passion; that arrogant, twisted, sadistic fraud. Yet you kept inviting him into our home because you thought being his right hand would make you the kingmaker. You never asked me, discussed it with me, or even considered that I might not want to be associated with that man.”
Narcissa’s voice had started to rise in pitch. So she stopped and took a deep breath. Composure recovered she says, “It’s a failure of imagination. You assume everyone is like you and wants what you want.
You hate Arthur Weasley because, had situations be reversed, you would have jumped at the chance to do his bidding and be his toady in exchange for money and possible social advancement. You cannot fathom why the man turned down your bribe money to look the other way on those cursed doorknobs.”
Lucius scoffs, “The man has seven children. Six pure blood boys and only one girl. His wife’s mother died when Molly was too young to have even been through her coming of age ceremony. With no other female relatives, that means all her family lore comes from diaries and books. His wife wouldn’t even allow Arthur’s great aunt to come help with their family ceremonies because she didn’t want his family’s traditions to overtake her own.
Their children are not being raised with a strong tradition. Arthur needs money and social status if he hopes to marry even just the oldest to a girl who brings family lore and tradition with her. Without it, they may as well be muggleborns. His high horse is going to ruin his family’s name far quicker than some minor bribery scandal would have.”
Narcissa lifts one of her feet and pokes him in the ribs with her toes.
“That’s exactly what I mean,” she says. “You assume he cares about tradition and social standing when he cares far more about integrity and happiness.
You might have gotten your way with the doorknobs had you befriended the man. Taken him to the pub for a few pints. Watched some Quidditch matches with him. Made him feel like his friendship meant something to you. Made him feel like he was important to you.
Then when you needed to slip the doorknobs through, you could have approached him as having a huge problem and needing his help. Needing him to do this little thing as a friend to cover for you. You could have played up the contrition and how you’d never allow something like this to happen again.
If you made it feel like he was helping you, as a friend in a jam, you would have stood half a chance. Instead you basically looked at him like he was pond scum and tried to throw some money at him.”
Lucius sighs. “He is basically pond scum. That stuff just keeps reproducing until it fills every nook and cranny as well.”
Narcissa snorts. His wife has a wicked sense of humor. She has kept him entertained through many a dull evening making snide observations about guests at events.
Lucius concedes, “But I believe I see your point.”
Lucius rubs his hands over his face and takes a deep breath. He then picks up one of Narcissa’s feet and starts massaging it. Making sure to use the long, strong strokes along the arch of the foot. Then making a circle in the ball of the foot beneath the big toe. “Ok, since you hate my plan, what’s your plan for this whole situation?”
Narcissa bites her bottom lip and looks up at him through her lashes. Then she smiles and says “You’re not going to like it. But to start, we need to spend a couple months in Rome making some friends in the ICW…”
Chapter 5: Something Has Changed
Everyone agreed something had changed.
But no one agreed on what exactly or when it happened.
Pierce Parkinson insists the Malfoys became infected with “Continental manners” when they returned from Rome. It was a very unseemly display of cheek kissing and emoting. They’d even picked up the habit of dressing their house elves in livery inspired uniforms and speaking to them as if they were valued staff members rather than creatures. Pierce always knew the Gaullish French blood in that line would rear its ugly head sooner or later. Such a shame. Now he was glad Lucius hadn’t recommended him to become a member of Boddle’s. Merlin knows that lot won’t appreciate Lucius’ loss of British reserve and class. Maybe Pierce can get Garrick Haversham to recommend him to the Carlton Club instead. It’s less prestigious but would be better in the long run if this new sunstroke induced sensibility keeps its hold on Lucius.
Augusta Longbottom will tell you the change happened in Narcissa and not that puffed up prized pony she married. Augusta noticed the change at the annual garden party fundraiser for St. Mungo’s hospital held at the Zambini country estate. Rather than holding court with those vipers Parkinson, Morris, and Talbot as usual, Narcissa Malfoy made deliberate and stunning overtures of friendship to Pandora Lovegood, Amelia Bones, and Virginia Clearwater. Yes, something indeed had changed in the Malfoy household. Lucius is probably dying from a well-earned but slow moving curse, and since his wife is no fool she’s making friends outside of his dark circle. That way she can shed the death-eater stain on the family name once she’s widow Malfoy. Paving the way for little Draco to align himself with grey and light families if he chooses. Augusta’s suspicions are completely confirmed when Narcissa makes respectful conversation with her for 4 minutes before broaching the idea of Draco and Neville having a playdate at Tallmadge Park. Augusta remembers what a bright young thing Narcissa Black had been. If she can pull this off without being mysteriously cursed or poisoned herself, it will certainly shake things up in the Wizengamot. The least Augusta can do is lend some tacit support as she watches how things unfold.
Virginia Clearwater almost swallowed her tongue in shock when she received an owl from Narcissa Malfoy. There had been a touch of a scandal when Virginia married Thomas Clearwater. He was the last of his family line and his mother had died less than a year after he left Hogwarts. Two years later, Thomas bumped into Virginia as she tried to navigate her way through the office of International Portkeys. It was love at first sight. But by marrying a muggle born witch, the Clearwater family lost their “family lore and traditions”. Virginia didn’t have any lore of her own to bring unless you count Christmas and Easter attending the Church of England services, which traditional wizards and witches most certainly do not count. And there was no Clearwater matriarch to adopt Virginia into their traditions. Virginia received a few howlers before the wedding. And blood purists, like the McNairs, never let an opportunity to be ugly to Virginia pass. But other than that, it hadn’t seemed like too big of a deal. Thomas had tried to explain that not having family lore and tradition would limit their daughter’s marriage prospects. But if some jerk of a wizard felt her little girl wasn’t good enough because she didn’t know the right chant under a full moon or the correct way to sacrifice a chicken or whatever it is that “family lore” actually encompuses, then he didn’t deserve her. While Lady Malfoy had never been directly rude to Virginia, she had treated her as entirely forgettable. But here was an invitation to join Lady Malfoy and few other ladies for “Tea and Discussion” at the incredibly fashionable M’s tea and patisserie shop in the Mayfair district. As much as Virginia hates these sorts of politics, having Lady Malfoy’s friendship could make a huge difference for little Penelope. Virginia isn’t blind. She knows the loss of status Thomas experienced when he chose love over family politics. He insists he doesn’t care. When he proposed he told her that a single day with her as his wife would be worth stripping his family vaults, selling the family lands, and stalling his career at the ministry. But if she can help him regain some of the status and help with his career that sort of status brings, it would be worth a thousand stuffy teas with the social climbing witches of the ton.
Arthur Weasley will tell you that he believes Lucius Malfoy must have been secreted away in a spell damage clinic in Switzerland for those six months he was supposedly holidaying in Rome. A cleansed aura and removal of black magic damage to his core is the only explanation Arthur has for the summons to Gringotts he received. There a goblin account manager named Stonefort, and Lord Malfoy were waiting. This alone is shocking. There had been a blood feud between the Weasley family and the Malfoy family for a little over 300 years. Arthur’s family journals insist Perseus Weasley rescued Vivian Malfoy from her abusive father and they married in secret. The Malfoy family insists that Perseus seduced Vivan and then stole her away under the cover of night. Marrying her and stealing her virtue before her older brothers could rescue her. Lord Malfoy states he wants to settle the feud. He would like their families to start anew and he is willing to correct a great injustice to do so. Stonefort then explains that Lord Malfoy presented his family journals to the Goblins for authentication. The Malfoy journals proved the Weasley family had been established two generations earlier than previously thought. In addition, the journals proved that one of the lost baronies of Scotland actually belonged to the Weasley family. This information had been purposely hidden and the descendants cursed to forget by Lucius Malfoy’s great, great uncle. This change means that Bill is actually the first generation of the Weasley family to be considered “Ancient and Noble”. It also means that Arthur is really Lord Weasley, Baron of Torbol. Stonefort immediately begins rolling out scrolls with properties, farms, vaults, etc… that now belong to Arthur. The amount of gallons listed seems impossible. It also comes with three seats on the Wizengamot. While his head is spinning, Lord Malfoy says “Arthur, we’ve never been friends. But I’ve recently been able to reassess past choices and interactions. I would be honored if Weasley family would accept the alliance of the Malfoy family.” Arthur, who knows the world considers him to be bumbling and naive, stares at Lord Malfoy’s hand for 10 solid seconds as he thinks about it. From every angle, this is Lucius Malfoy aligning with him. Offering to support and stand next to him. It’s impossible. Yet, there is Lucius Malfoy’s hand, held out across the table that holds all the documents showing an incredible change in Arthur’s fortune. In the end, he shakes Lucius’s hand and says “The Weasley Family is honored to accept the alliance of the Malfoy family. May we prosper together in peace and stand together in war.” When he gets home and tells Molly, she takes him to St. Mungo’s and has him tested for dozens of compulsions spells and loyalty potions. When everything comes up clean, she laughs until she cries and then laughs some more.
Greyback isn’t talking to anyone. But if someone summoned his spirit, he’d tell everyone how Lucius Malfoy gave his location to a squad of ICW hit wizards. And he’s not the only one. The six months while Lucius Malfoy was in Rome saw a huge decrease in the population of known death eaters who had escaped at the end of Voldemort’s blood war. Out of 15 internationally known fugitives, 8 were taken out by ICW hit wizards and 4 turned themselves in for trial rather than being hunted down in their beds. The other 3 are presumably looking over their shoulders as they continue to run.
Chapter 6: It's Time
Narcissa puts the plan in motion.
Narcissa Malfoy was dressed in light grey robes with silver accents. It shimmered as she walked to the center dias on the floor of the Wizengamot. She looked like an enchantress from a fairytale. Her pale blonde hair held in place with heirloom combs decorated with emeralds and black pearls. Her ice blue eyes swept over the gathered session.
“Thank you chairman Douglas and gathered members of the Wizengamot. I’ve asked to be the sole item on today’s and tomorrow’s agenda. In the past year I’ve been researching a family matter and what I’ve uncovered is deeply disturbing and has far reaching consequences for our entire society.
I beg your patience. While the members gather here will are already well versed in some items I wish to address, many of our fellow citizens sitting at home listening on the wireless are not so well informed. So I am going to start with things you gathered in front of me learned at your father’s knee.
Since Voldemort’s defeat and the end of the “Blood War” a little over 5 years ago, I have heard my family and all families who believe in heritage and tradition being villainized for hating muggles, muggle born, and half blood witches and wizards. I’ve heard about how we want to wipe all of them from the face of the earth. How we want them to be relegated to serfdom and crushed beneath our heels.
So to start, I, Narcissa Malfoy nee Black, swear on my magic that I do not hate muggles, muggle born witches and wizards, or half blood witches and wizards, so mote it be.”
Lady Malfoy raised her wand and cast Patronus. A unicorn burst from her wand and galloped around the front of the gallery before returning to Narcissa and nuzzling against her hand before fading away. Gasps and murmurs filled the hall until Chairman Douglas cleared his throat and nodded at Lady Malfoy to continue.
“I am about to speak frankly about things that are considered sacred. I apologize to those who I will certainly offend by speaking so publically about such things. I am Narcissa Black, daughter of Druella Rosier, granddaughter of Catherine Byrne, continuing the line of Medea. I can trace my mother’s line back over two thousand years to Idyia consort of King Aeetes and mother of Madea. Our tradition and lore passed from mother to daughter, our magic watering the roots of over a dozen family trees in this very room. Titles and properties travel with a man’s name and male scions, but magic, ritual, and the very will of the gods travel with the blood of our daughters.
I want my son to marry a woman with strong family lore, not because she’s “pure blood” but because she will raise my grandchildren under the protection and favor of her family’s magic.
Every time a wizard marries Circe Zabini and takes her last name, you men snicker and twitter like twelve year old girls. But Circe Zabini is the last Priestess of Ishtar in Europe. Her sex and blood magic is the strongest any of us know. Her son and daughter will have their pick of the finest families in Europe because their family lore and tradition are so incredibly strong. And any man who wants to be blessed by her magic that will have to renounce his family’s name and take hers. Seven husbands have felt that exchange was more than worth it.
Before the Statute of Secrecy there were many muggle families that kept their own family lore alive. In those days, it wasn’t unheard of for muggle born witches to actually have family lore and tradition to add to our community. Those women were celebrated. They brought new and fresh blessings to our family magic.
But since the Statute of Secrecy, almost all muggle families have lost their lore. So each new muggle born witch enters our society without any tradition or lore to add to their family. And their children are left loreless, and those children’s children. It dooms entire family lines to live without that rich lore and tradition we hold so dear.
Two hundred years ago, talented muggle born or half blood witches might be offered initiation into a family tradition. Muggle born and half blood witches strived to distinguish themselves in the hopes that one of the old families would offer. It was a huge honor and responsibility. The woman making the offer essentially adopted the muggle born or half blood witch in blood and magic. It required an enormous amount of time, dedication, and magical power to accomplish.
Then came Delphine Lalaurie nee Maccarty of Louisiana. She was a young muggleborn witch and was know to be incredibly beautiful. She caught the eye of and married a Spanish Diplomat and wizard, Don Ramón de López y Angulo. He brought her to Spain where his sister adopted Delphine into their family tradition. Less than a year later, he needed to return to Louisiana. Once back in Louisiana, Delphine twisted the rituals and tradition she had learned. She murdered her husband, then married and murdered another. Finally she potioned a rich muggle dentist into compliance as her 3rd husband. Then she spent years torturing and murdering slaves in her attic. Her black magic was so corrosive and toxic that the muggles around her felt the results. Birth rates dropped, birth defects increased. The Lopez line in Spain and several magic families in Louisiana gave birth to nothing but squibs for the twelve years she spent indulging in the blackest and most depraved magic any of us have ever considered. Finally the Lopez family magic broke. The backlash of family magic breaking cracked the magic core of almost seventy witches and wizards who were rendered magicless. It caused the wards keeping muggles from realizing what was happening in the Lalaurie mansion to break. And a mob of muggles put an end to Delphine’s life. But the devastation to magical Spain had already happened.
It was such a scandal that magic families all over the world closed ranks. We stopped offering to adopt the muggle born and half blood witches without tradition. None of us were willing to put our family magic at risk again. When the embargo remained 25 years later, most magical schools stopped mentioning magical lore and traditions. Polite society didn’t mention it because there was no reason to taunt muggleborn and half blood witches and wizards with something they could never obtain.
So instead we would make oblique references to “pure blood” and “traditional” wizarding families. After 100 years, this erroneous idea that “pure blood” families hate muggles took root.
Today, I am ending our silence on the subject. I have offered to adopt Virginia Clearwater and her daughter, Penelope, into my tradition and lore. The Clearwater family will be restored. Penelope will be able to raise her children in the line of Medea. I encourage other families to do the same.”
Wizengamot erupted into shouts and chaos. Some women in the gallery were shouting questions
while others were shouting for Narcissa’s blood. Lords in the Wizengamot were turning purple in
the face and they yelled “Not my wife!” and “Traitor!”
Chairman Douglas cast a silencing spell and a minor stinging hex through the entire hall.
“That is quite enough of that. I’ll remind everyone this is a Wizengamot session and not a circus. Anyone who cannot act with a modicum of decorum and comportment is welcome to leave. Lady Malfoy, the floor is still yours.”
“Thank you Chairman.” Narcissa remained calm as she looked out at the riled crowd. “More than simply encouraging other families to do the right thing, I have reached out to the Goblins.
Sometimes families go dormant for a few generations before coming back into their magic. My dowry vault will pay for any muggleborn or half blood witch to be tested to see if she is already blood of one of the known lines.
If she is descended from a known line and wants to be adopted into her family’s blood born tradition and lore, the Goblins will owl all the women of her line who are initiated into the lore with her information.
If there is no line found, don’t lose hope. There are women in our society, like Circe Zabini, who are the very last initiate of their line. The goblins will contact them so they can offer to initiate new blood into their traditions.
This is my plan. We will return lore and tradition to every wizarding family that wants it, and that will end this petty squabbling and bloodshed over blood status.”
The crowd pouring out of the Wizengamot session was buzzing. Lucius heard snatches of conversation as he and Narcissa headed toward the floos.
“Adopted witches never really learn enough to…”
“...simply unacceptable. If magic wanted them to have tradition they would have been born…”
“Traitors. Nothing but the worst sort of…”
“...have to get to Gringotts immediately. This is a huge opportunity…”
“...never even heard of family lore. How is it possible…”
Neither Lucius nor Narcissa are surprised when the first curse flies.
Everyone knows Lucius is a master dueler. His shield spell is in place around him and Narcissa before the first curse even finishes being cast.
People shriek and dive for cover expecting the curses to fly hard and heavy..
No one expects Narcissa to pull and throw a pair of goblin daggers putting an end to Robert Avery and Walden Macnair.
People freeze and the shrieking stops as Aurors start pushing their way through the crowd.
Narcissa makes a gesture and the daggers make a horrible squelch noise as they remove themselves from the right eye of each dead men and return to Narcissa’s hands.
Lucius casts a cleaning spell on the daggers and Narcissa returns them to her charmed bracelet.
The Aurors finally make their way to the scene. Wands drawn they yell “Freeze” and “Drop your weapons!”
Narcissa raises an eyebrow and displays her now empty hands.
Lucius returns his wand to his cane.
Alastor Moody pushes his way past the Aurors and says “Malfoy! Only you would be arrogant enough to murder two people in the very heart of the ministry and think you can get away with it!”
Turning to a recruit Moody shouts “Johnson, get the suppression cuffs. We’ll be taking Lord and Lady Malfoy to the interrogation suites.”
“I beg your pardon!” Augusta Longbottom says from the sideline.
“We all just watched those two men target Lord and Lady Malfoy with a suffocation hex and an organ rupturing hex. Are you saying that witches and wizards are no longer allowed to defend themselves Auror Moody?”
“Augusta, this isn’t your concern. Clear the hall everyone! There’s nothing to see here!”
“No.” Arthur Weasley pushes his way through the crowd. “This is unacceptable. Lady Malfoy defended her life and that of her Lord and husband. You can collect their statement, but you have no cause to hold them.”
“He’s a death eater and she’s no better. They are dark. Who knows what happened to start this attack. I will interrogate them until I get to the bottom of this. There are two dead men on the floor who deserve justice.” Moody replies. Flabbergasted that people who hate the Malfoys like Lady Regiant Longbottom and Lord Weasley are standing up for them.
“You will not, Auror Moody. Johnson here says you sent him for suppression cuffs. What are you thinking?” Head Auror Davidson arrived on scene with Auror Johnson trailing behind him.
“Sir, Lady Malfoy just killed two men in the hall in front of a dozen witnesses. We can’t just let them walk away.”
“The same dozen witnesses that saw these two men cast deadly hexes at her and her husband? You’re suspended Auror Moody. I’m ordering you to have a session with a mind healer and then we’ll decide the appropriate response to your illegal request for suppression cuffs.” Head Auror Davis turned to the Malfoys.
“Lord and Lady Malfoy, I apologize. We do need a statement for the record. Would you be willing to join me in my office. I’ll take it personally.”
“Of course, Head Auror.” Lucius places Narcissa’s hand in the crook of his arm.
“Lady Longbottom, Lord Weasley, thank you both for your defense. You and your families are invited to Malfoy Manor for an informal lunch on Saturday. Arthur, have the boys bring their brooms. We have a quidditch pitch out back that doesn’t get nearly enough use these days.”
With a nod of his head, Lucius and Narcissa followed Head Auror Davis to his office.
Chapter 7: Brief Interlude
Lucius came down to the breakfast table to find Narcissa already there reading through the Daily Prophet and nibbling on some toast with marmelade.
“Good morning” he said as he walked over and kissed her forehead.
Draco was focused on carefully trying to cut his french toast into a bite sized piece. Lucius ruffled his hair as he walked over to his chair. Draco shot him a dark look and got syrup in his hair as he patted it back into place. “Can we go to the park today?” Draco asked.
“Not today. You and Neville are going to play over at the Clearwater’s again today. Your mother and I have to talk to the Wizengamot again today.”
“Neville likes Mrs. Clearwater’s garden. He made her roses sing yesterday.”
Narcissa quickly glanced up. “Are you sure, Draco? It was Neville that made the roses sing?”
Draco takes a big gulp of his milk and nods his head. “Yeah. We were playing hide and go seek. I was hiding behind the roses. Neville couldn’t find me and started getting upset. He stomped on the grass and said ‘Where is he?’ and the roses started singing ‘Here, here, here’. I thought it was cheating. But Neville insisted that since he didn’t ask the roses to sing, they did it on their own, it wasn’t cheating.”
“Next time you should play tag. The roses won’t be able to help Neville out with that game.” Lucius says as he and Narcissa exchange looks.
When Draco and Neville had played at the park under Narcissa and Augusta’s watchful eyes a few weeks ago, Augusta had confessed her concern that Neville hadn’t shown any accidental magic yet.
Narcissa believed Augusta had been memory charmed to forget his accidental magic while Lucius thought he was just a late bloomer.
Lucius just lost the bet; Draco is going to get a Krup for his birthday.
“Well you should go upstairs with Twinkle and get ready for your day over at the Clearwaters.” Narcissa says.
Twinkle appears as soon as her name is spoken and curtsies. “Come master Malfoy. Youse all sticky. A good bath will help.”
After they’ve left the room Lucius looks pointedly at the Daily Prophet. “How did we fare?”
“Pretty well. They can’t decide if they should fear me or fall down at my feet and worship me. Stonefort confirmed the daggers are goblin made. Augusta Longbottom and Arthur Weasley give very supportive quotes. Alastar Moody and Parkinson’s cow wife both declared this to be some sort of death eater trick insinuating that women who went to get tested by the goblins would end up sacrificed on our family altars.”
“Did they actually attribute the quote to ‘Parkinson’s cow wife? Because that would be worth seeing.” Lucius asked.
“No. It’s a shame how journalistic integrity wins out over the ugly truth sometimes.” Narcissa responds with a smile. “Are you ready for today? Yesterday was just the ground work. Today we see if the dominos all fall the right way.”
Lucius nods. “I’m ready. Dumbledore isn’t going to fall easily. But today we’re going to crack the very foundation of his ‘I’m a harmless old man defending the light’ routine.”
Chapter 8: Things get complicated
It's a long one folks. Hold onto your hats.
The Wizengamot was packed. Every member was at their seat, including a few who had cut vacations short are returned via international portkey just to attend today’s session. A group of sixth year girls snuck out of Beauxbaton Academy and caught the last ferry over the night before. They’d camped out in the ministry lobby and were first in line when the doors to the gallery opened. They were sitting in the front row; their charmed uniform sweaters proclaiming “Narcissa Malfoy nee Black” and “Well behaved witches rarely make history!” in flashing glitter letters. The gallery had reached capacity at 5am.
The ministry opened several ballrooms and set up wireless speakers so people could sit and listen to the proceedings. Many people had conjured magical banners. Some said “Tradition and Lore for EVERY magical family!” and others said “Sacred means sacred! How dare you Mrs. Malfoy! You’re no lady!”. A couple young men wearing robes flashing “I’ll show you my ‘family lore’ if you’ll show me yours!” were instructed to remove the message or leave. In the end they’d decided to remove the wording so they could stay. Once those seats had all been filled, the ministry was forced to turn people away.
The pubs of the wizarding world were doing brisk business as people filed in to listen to the wireless broadcast. Wizarding business pretty much ground to a halt as employees gathered around the wireless to listen. All over the country, little witches and wizards were being put down for their naps early so mom could listen to the wireless. After the bombshells Lady Malfoy had dropped the day before, no one wanted to miss what might happen today.
Chairman Douglas enters the room followed by Lady Malfoy, and a most unusual entourage: Ragnok, Chief Goblin, with two goblins dressed as bank employees and two goblins in full battle armor, followed by ICW Head Prosecutor, Sybil Chidiki, and two ICW uniformed hit witches.
Chairman Douglas conjures seats for Lady Malfoy, the goblins, and the ICW representatives, and approaches the podium.
He glares out from beneath his bushy white eyebrows in a way that causes all chatter to cease.
“Right, I see we are already teetering on the edge of a full blown circus today. Let me be very clear ladies and gentlemen, I will not abide any shenanigans. We are going to follow our procedures as put forth in the code of conduct of 1734. Any sitting member of the Wizengamot who speaks without first being recognized will be sanctioned the full penalty of 7,000 galleons for each infraction. The history scroll started as soon as I stepped on the dias. Every word spoken on the floor and in the seats of the Wizengamot is being recorded. Members of the gallery who refuse to keep their peace will be ejected from these proceedings. You’ll notice the aurors at each exit and lining the back of the hall. They have no instructions to be gentle while ensuring today’s proceedings are just as orderly and boring as any normal Wizengamot session.”
He pauses and raises an eyebrow daring any witch or wizard present to be the first to act out.
When everyone remains seated and quiet he continues.
“A few items of business before I allow Lady Malfoy to continue presenting her business before us.
One: sending me howlers accomplishes nothing. My house elves sort my mail and they wear mangrove rated earmuffs while doing so
Two: cursed letters, hexed letters, charmed letters, potioned letters, etc… are prohibited by the Owl Mail Act of 1832. These letters are being logged at each public owlery, by the goblins at Gringotts, and by the Ministry of Floos and Transportation. I believe many prominent families will be surprised when you receive your summons to court to face charges for breaking the Owl Mail Act of 1832.
The goblins are also quite literally insisting on a pound of blood and or flesh for any letters that damaged or sickened their certified owls. Those of you without the common sense Merlin gave a fire crab who sent cursed, hexed, or potioned letter via a Gringotts owl, I’d suggest you show up at the bank to give your pound of flesh willingly rather than face a summons to Goblin Court. The goblins don’t believe in bail and they sometimes go centuries between court sessions. All prisoners of the goblin kingdom are required to work in the mines to earn their rations. Frankly I don’t think there’s a single man or woman in the courtroom who’d survive the week under those conditions. Don’t even think of petitioning this body to intervene on your behalf with the goblins. You brought that pile of hippogriff dung on yourselves.
Three: Once Lady Malfoy takes the podium, all doors will be locked. No one will be allowed in and the only people getting out are the ones being physically tossed out by the aurors. This is your last chance to leave before the doors are magically sealed.”
Several members of the Wizengamot raise their wands requesting to be recognized.
Chairman Douglass sighs and rolls his eyes.
“Put your wands down. You were given the appropriate time to add concerns or topics to the agenda. Everyone one of you poor excuses for witches and wizards happily gave Lady Malfoy the entire session yesterday and today. So now you will suck it up and listen to what the lady has to say.”
With that the Chairman turns on his heel to return to his seat.
“No.” Arcturus Black stands in his box. “I certainly have the galleons to pay the fine and I will not be silent. In a single session Lady Malfoy has done irreparable damage to our society. Today she appears not just by herself but with the Chief of the Goblin Horde and the Head Prosecutor of the ICW.
The last goblin rebellion nearly ended wizarding europe. My father and uncle both carried battle wounds from that fight and died far younger than they should have due to the amount of spell damage they received as young men.
The ICW has been itching for a chance to steal away the British Ministry of Magic’s autonomy since the war with Grindelwald. And these are the allies she brings to stand with her before us.
I fear this witch will wilfully and gleefully destroy our way of life if she is allowed even one more day to use our platform to spread her subversive and seditious ideas. She is mad. If her husband is too henpecked to lock her away at home, I will happily petition to return her to the House of Black. As her patriarch, I will bind her magic and brick her into a room under silencing spells with only the company of house elves for the rest of her days to protect the rest of us.”
This draws cheers and boos from the gallery. Many of the men use their wands to beat on their Wizengamot boxes to show their support without speaking and risking fines of their own.
Chairman Douglass casts a silencing charm and broad stinging hex through the crowd.
“That is quite enough of that! Settle down! I will bind member to their seats and empty the gallery if you are unable to contain yourselves.”
The crowd quickly returns to their seats. Lord Black remains standing.
“Lord Black your words have been recorded and you will be fined accordingly. Your requested petition is noted but since it wasn’t filed prior to the agenda deadline, it will have to wait until our session in two weeks.”
Lucius Malfoy signals his request to speak.
Chairman Douglas takes a deep breath and counts to ten. He’s really getting too old for this. It’s like herding cats on the best of days.
“The floor recognizes Lord Malfoy.”
Lucius stands and says “There is no need to clutter next session’s agenda with the petition. If Lord Black still wishes to recall Narcissa when today’s session is over, I’ll gladly meet him on the dueling platform. I’m not above crippling an old man in the protection of my Lady, my wife, and the mother of my child.
It’s been nearly 5 years since I put down the last man who thought he could steal what is mine.
For those of you who weren’t paying attention yesterday, Narcissa brings over two thousand years of tradition and lore to my family. In her blood is the magic, ritual,and the will of the gods which waters my family tree and blesses my son.
When she honored me by accepting my proposal, we were bound together in blood, magic, and flesh. As far as I’m concerned, the only reason you are allowed to hear her mellifluous voice or gaze upon her beautiful countenance is because she prefers going out in public and I indulge her in all things.
You call me henpecked. And I pity you. Lord Black. For if you had been fortunate enough to be loved by a woman who was half the witch my lady is, you would have laid your riches at her feet simply to hear the joy in her laughter. I’m not henpecked, I understand how incredibly blessed I am.
I will lay waste to every man and woman in here should any of you think to try to part my lady from me. Not even Voldemort was fool enough to threaten Narcissa because even potioned to the gills and imperiused, I would have broken from my stupor and struck him down on the spot.
You know how to reach me after today’s session, Lord Black.
I look forward to your abject apology or your terms for our duel.”
The sixth year girls from Beauxbatons rose to their feet clapping and then pretended to faint into each other’s arms.
“That’s enough of that.” Chairman Douglas declares. “Lord Malfoy, please compose your love poems to your wife on your own time in the future. Lord Black, your petition has been removed from next session’s agenda since it appears you and Lord Malfoy will work this out privately.
We’ve wasted enough time. No more members will be acknowledged. Lady Malfoy, the floor is yours.”
Chairman Douglas returns to his seat leaving the podium for Narcissa.
Narcissa rises along with Chief Ragnok and Prosecutor Chidiki. Narcisa is wearing robes of midnight blue making her pale skin and cornsilk hair look all the more luminous and otherworldly. Her hair is braided into a complicated crown dotted with sapphire and diamond stars.
She steps up to the podium looking down at it’s surface. She’s the picture of a genteel lady, beautiful, modest, untouchable, eyes down, submissive. When she lifts her gaze and looks out at the room, more than one man feels her regard like a physical caress. This is the woman who at 16 was the most sought after girl of her season. Now she has ripened into full womanhood. Like a rose that has come into full bloom, even more beautiful than the promise she held at 16. This moment from eyes downcast to eyes straight at the camera will be the front page of tomorrow’s Daily Prophet. It will sell out and they will have to print eight extra runs to keep up with the demand.
“Thank you Chairman Douglas, members of the Wizengamot, and all those who are taking time from their day to listen to these proceedings.
The things I’m going to discuss today are serious and far reaching. Some of them are so incredible, that I wouldn’t believe them if I hadn’t uncovered them. In order to ensure people know I’m speaking the truth, I’ve asked Chief Ragnok to cast a goblin level truth ward. I’ve also asked Prosecutor Chidiki to cast the ICW’s truth certification charm so the official record will verify I am speaking the truth and it can be submitted to the ICW courts as evidence if needed.
I do this for my own protection and the protection of my family. Even if I am murdered after this session what I say today will stand up as evidence on its own.”
Ragnok raises his staff and chants in Ghukliak. The power of the ward resonates like a clap of thunder when it settles.
Next Prosecutor Chidiki raises her hands and makes a series of complicated gestures. Lady Malfoy and the Wizengamot history scroll both glow the traditional “true blue” color that shows the truth certification spell has been successful. The glow fades quickly and Narcissa is ready to begin.
“Thank you Chief Ragnok and Prosecutor Chidiki. I am humbled by your help in these proceedings.” Narcissa Malfoy then enters into a formal deep curtsey with headbow which shows a level of respect that several members of the Wizengamot feel is unseemly considering there is a creature involved.
Narcissa reaches into her robes and pulls out a tiny box. She places it on the floor and casts the spell to return it to a full size three drawer filing cabinet.
“Ladies and Gentlemen of the Wizengamot, I enter these certified documents into evidence. You will see an indexed list of what’s included appear in your agenda. You are welcome to request certified copies of any of these documents. Each item here has been certified as true by both an emergency session of the Goblin Court and by the ICW Committee on International Crimes Against Magic. What is contained within tells a chilling story of abuse of power, manipulation, and greed.
The only way I know to tell this story is to start at the beginning.
My son Draco is five years old. We are spending this year preparing him for his family ritual on his sixth birthday. On the sixth birthday boys move out from under their mother’s influence and fully into their father’s leadership. It’s an important milestone, especially for a titled heir. It’s when they accept the weight of their first responsibilities. To prepare I’ve been telling Draco his family stories. First my tree, than his father’s. So he understands the legacy and magic he carries in his blood. One of the tests he must pass is being able to recite his family alliances, feuds, and sponsorships.
At the same time I started preparing Draco, my husband went through his own transformation.
He went to extreme measures and magic blessed him. His core was healed, cleansed, and strengthened. The dark mark was dissolved, removed from his arm and his magic as if it never existed in the first place.”
Chaos breaks out. Cries of “Impossible!”, “Death eater!”, and “Liar!” come from the gallery and members of the Wizengamot. People are on their feet and screaming.
Chief Ragnok stands and slams the bottom of his staff into the stone floor. A wave of magic sweeps over the crowd knocking people on their feet back into their seats.
“I live in constant wonder that you idiots haven’t managed to hex off your own heads. Are you courting war with the Goblin Horde? Or are you looking to meet me personally on the dueling sands?” Ragnok looks over the crowd of wizards and witches who have been shocked into silence.
“Lady Malfoy is under a goblin honesty hex that I, as Chief of the Horde, have personally administered. Every single witch or wizard that has voiced the opinion that Lady Malfoy is lying has impugned my honor and the honor of the entire goblin horde.” Ragnok pauses and lets his gaze travel across the entire crowd. People start shifting uncomfortably.
“Because your unfortunate circumstances of birth made you witches and wizards rather than goblins, I will be merciful. All who have impugned my honor and the honor of the horde have until noon tomorrow to come to Gringotts and arrange appropriate reparations. Any who fail to do so will be hunted down and given the option of a quick beheading or meeting one of my clan on the dueling sands. I promise you death on the sands will be slow and anything but merciful.”
“You can’t do that! We forced you to sign a peace treaty when you lost the goblin rebellion of 1891.” Lord Hampton, just 19 and having taken his seat at 15 when his father was murdered by two death eaters who were hiding out on some farmland in Wales owned by the Hampton family, stood defiant in the face of the Goblin Chieftain.
“Your grasp of history is terrible William Hampton. Moments like this are why your vaults are being charged the 18% asshole tax. You think you’re superior to goblins but seek to increase your fortunes with our skills and cunning. I had hoped once your second magical maturity arrived and your hormones stopped running so rampant you might learn to be less of a dick.” Ragnok shakes his head sadly.
“The goblins won the rebellion of 1891. Hogwarts has got to stop using that racist ghost to teach history. The actual treaty of 1891 is available to you. You can request a copy from the ministry or Gringotts. And it clearly states that any witch or wizard impugning the honor of the Goblin Horde can be dealt with via goblin law. Now if you are done being an ignorant wanker, I believe the lady has more to say.”
Lord Hampton, flushed red with embarrassment sits back down.
“Excellent. And since you spoke without being acknowledged, I’ll make sure your account manager promptly pays the fine you’ve acquired. If you keep spending money so recklessly, how are you going to properly launch your sister in society in two years?”
Lord Hampton folds his arms over his box and gently raps his head against the podium in front of him a few times but wisely says nothing.
Ragnok nods his head to Lady Malfoy and returns to his seat.
Lady Malfoy waits to make sure the silence will hold. Then she takes and deep breath and dives back into her testimony.
“My husband visited three different ICW healers, a goblin shamen, and a Vestal Priestess while we were in Rome. Certified copies of all five reports are available to you. They show that not only is the dark mark completely gone, but his magic and core show zero dark or black magic stain. His magic is pure enough that he could get a job at a unicorn preserve. The only explanation that makes sense to me is it’s a miracle wrought by Lady Magic herself.
In addition to his own cleansing, Lord Malfoy was able to remove the dark mark from Robert Meynell.
Many of you will remember that both of Robert’s older brothers were tortured to death in front of him. He was just 16 years old. He was told his mother and sisters would be next if he didn’t accept the mark, so he took it. Even with this coercion, Robert served a year in Azkaban due to his partaking in a failed raid on the magical village of Dunchase. Since he was released, his family moved to Rome so he could be treated by a world class mind healer.
I’ve included both the pre and post ritual exams as well as the observations of the ritual from the ICW Healer and Goblin Shaman that were in attendance.
If you were marked by Voldemort and you wish to reject him, if you want peace from the corruption and taint he placed on your magic, if you want to once again stand with honor as your own witch or wizard rather than his branded slave, it is possible. Present your petition to account manager Stonefort at Gringotts. If your desire to be free is sincere, my husband will remove your mark. Since this ability was bestowed by Lady Magic in the greatest blessing our house has ever received, there will be no charge. It is our honor and duty to help rid our world of Voldemort’s lingering taint.”
By the time Narcissa stops speaking, every eye is on Lucius in his Wizengamot box. Lucius nods at Narcissa and stands. He removes his left cuff link and rolls up his left sleeve. Then he raises his left arm and displays it to the crowd. This is the picture that will appear below the fold in tomorrow’s Daily Prophet. Lucius’s bared left arm raised, as if in victory, showing no hint of the dark mark.
Several member of the Wizengamot have ordered copies of the reports Narcissa mentioned and are flipping through them in disbelief.
Lucius returns to his seat and puts his sleeve back in order.
A wave of murmuring and chatter starts in the gallery until Chairman Douglas pointedly clears his throat.
Once the room is silent, Lady Malfoy continues.
“As I mentioned, I was educating Draco in my family tree and his father’s family tree. Like most kids his age, Draco is fascinated with all things Harry Potter and was devastated to learn of my cousin, Sirius Black’s betrayal of the Potter family.
It was in talking to Draco about that event that I realized my son might actually be the heir to Lord Black. Sirius’s betrayal and conviction would make him ineligible to inherit the title of Lord Black. And I couldn’t remember Arcturus ever notifying the family that he named a different heir.
I reached out to Gringotts, but received a letter stating that Sirius Black was still the heir to Lord Black. A Certified copy of the letter is provided in the file.
It was impossible. As soon as my cousin was convicted and sentenced to Azkaban for the deaths of James Potter, Lily Potter, Peter Pettigrew, 12 muggles, the attempted murder of Harry Potter, the attempted destruction of an ancient and noble house, etc… the family magic would have struck him from being heir.
So I wrote to the Ministry of Magic and asked for copy of the conviction. Included in the evidence file is the letter I received on Ministry Letterhead stating in verbatim ‘Death eater scum sentenced to Azkaban’ and signed by Barty Crouch Sr.
This wasn’t exactly the official documentation I was requesting so I owled the Aurors and requested the case file, I owled the Wizengamot and requested the court transcripts, I owled the Minister of Magic’s office for help, I owled the Department of Muggle Relations asking for their records of the incident.
Each one of their responses is included in the evidence file. Each department either stated they had no record or they refused to provide any records due to my family’s reputation.
Then I received a most peculiar owl. Albus Dumbledore, Headmaster of Hogwarts, defeater of Grindelwald, Order of Merlin first class owled me and asked me to please stop looking into my cousin’s conviction. That I was opening old wounds and possibly putting Harry Potter’s life in mortal danger. The letter included a very powerful obedience hex and a charm that would make me want to destroy it after reading. Luckily my husband has more than earned his reputation as a paranoid bastard, so the wards on our manor had neutralized the hex and charm before I opened it.”
The gallery was filled with outraged gasps and murmuring.
Everyone turned to look at Albus Dumbledore.
Albus just looked back with a serene expression and twinkling eyes.
Narcissa conjured a glass of water and took a sip.
“I was horrified. If Albus Dumbledore was willing to send a hexed letter to me, obviously something bigger was at play than who would inherit the Black title.
My husband and I discussed what might be going on and for our safety decided a trip to the continent was in order. Once in Rome I approached the IWC and the Goblins with what little information I had. Mostly it was just suspicions and unanswered questions.
A low level researcher in the ICW’s international relations office started working on getting my cousin’s trial and conviction records. What he found was shocking. My cousin and 38 other prisoners of Azkaban never received any trial. They were arrested. Barty Crouch Sr. remanded them Azkaban to await trial. And then no trial was ever scheduled. 17 of those prisoners have died in Azkaban. So my cousin and 21 others have been held for years without any trial or conviction.”
The gallery breaks out into chaos. People are shouting and rushing towards the floor. Aurors start stunning the most aggressive of them. Chairman Douglass sends a silencing spell and three stinging hexes through the crowd before people relent and start heading back to their seats.
The aurors grab and drag the stunned members of the gallery into the hallway and return to reseal the doors and stand guard.
Narcissa takes another sip of water and waits for people to settle.
“I understand your upset and horror in hearing this information. It seems impossible that our society could allow such injustice to pass by unnoticed. All the information collected by researcher Gallo is included in the files. Prosecutor Chidiki has filed official charges in the ICW court against the British Ministry of Magic. The Minister of Magic will find a copy of those charges and the appropriate subpoenas to appear in his office at the conclusion of this session.
In addition, the office of Galloway, Brooks, and Khan is filing a class action lawsuit on behalf of the families against the ministry, Barty Crouch Sr., Alastor Moody, Sarah Phinney, and Albus Dumbledore. Included in the research you will see where those four individuals conspired to keep these witches and wizards in Azkaban without trial and without the public’s knowledge. Included in the ICW court’s charges against the British Ministry of Magic are also individual charges against those four individuals.”
Narcissa pauses for a moment and takes a deep breath.
“I wish I could tell you that was the end of what I uncovered. But there is more.
Finding this made me wonder why. Why would Albus Dumbledore stop my cousin from facing a trial? Everyone knows he’s guilty. In some circles he is even more hated than Voldemort for his betrayal of the Potters.
My husband held the key to that answer.
My cousin, Sirius Black, Heir of Lord Black, is innocent. Peter Pettigrew was the betrayer. Peter Pettigrew was a death eater. Peter Pettigrew faked his death and killed those muggles to get away. In a fair trial, he could have proved his innocence. Instead for almost six years he has been languishing in Azkaban for a crime he didn’t commit.
In the files you will find the reports detailing the capture and interrogation of Peter Pettigrew. He was interrogated by both the ICW and the Goblin Court. For reasons I will discuss later, the Goblin Court had jurisdiction and sentenced Peter Pettigrew to death. The sentence was carried out immediately. Though I wouldn’t recommend it, pensive viewing of the Goblin Court trial and execution are available by request at Gringotts.”
Narcissa closed her eyes as if to steady herself. She took a deep breath and looked back out at the crowd.
“Albus Dumbledore has told us the Potters had no will. He has told us that Harry Potter is safely secreted away in the muggle world. He has told us not to worry, that everything is fine.
Albus Dumbledore has lied.
During their investigation the Goblins discovered three account managers that had been compromised and another five that had been memory charmed by Albus Dumbledore.
In clearing years of layered hexes, curses, charms, and compulsions that had twisted the three account managers loyalty away from the horde and to Albus Dumbledore two of the account managers magical cores failed and they died. The third one survived but shortly after took his own life in shame and to try to preserve the honor of his clan.
The five that were memory charmed have declared a blood feud against Albus Dumbledore. By the Treaty of 1891 they are allowed to hunt him down and execute him in the street like a dog to restore their clan’s honor.
My husband informed the board of governors at Hogwarts of the blood feud in an emergency session this morning. To keep the children safe they have removed Albus Dumbledore as headmaster. He has been barred from the premises of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Augusta Longbottom has the official notification letter. If an auror could come get it and deliver it to former headmaster Dumbledore, that would be appreciated.”
Everyone watched as an auror walked over to Augusta in the Longbottom box and retrieved the scroll. He cast several detection spells to ensure the scroll wasn’t cursed. Then walked it over to Albus in the Order of Merlin box. Albus Dumbledore was no longer serene and twinkling. He was red faced with anger. He took the scroll without a word and tucked it into his robes.
The crowd remains silent in shock.
Lady Malfoy continues “James and Lily Potter both left wills. In them it was revealed that my cousin Sirius Black had adopted Harry Potter in blood and magic as a third parent shortly after Harry’s birth. He named Harry Potter-Black as his heir. Their wills clearly stated that this information had only been shared with Albus Dumbledore to help keep Harry and Sirius safe.
The wills also gave a list of people for guardianship of Harry in the event of their deaths:
Frank & Alice Longbottom
The wills clearly stated that Harry was never to be left with Lily’s muggle sister, Petunia Dursley nee Evans. Petunia and her husband Vernon were known to hate magic and Lily suspected that Vernon was physically abusive to her sister.
Considering the lengths Albus Dumbledore took to suppress the will and this information, I was concerned. My innocent cousin was sitting in Azkaban, three goblins were dead, what else had he done in order to maintain control over little Harry?
Narcissa’s voice wavered and cracked. “I’m sorry. My Draco is the same age as Harry and as a mother, this is a little emotional for me.”
Lady Malfoy, with a trembling hand, took a sip of water. She was the picture of fragility. No longer an ice queen or untouchable.
People found themselves realizing that the Malfoys weren’t even thirty yet. Lucius is so feared and Narcissa always seems so cool and untouchable. But they were still so very young in the wizarding world. Yes, their generation had been forged by war and made to grow up quickly. But in a thousands other ways, they were still practically kids themselves.
“I asked an ICW Healer and Goblin Shamen to examine Frank and Alice Longbottom this weekend. Augusta Longbottom was present when the examination revealed neither had been treated in years. Augusta has moved them to a spell damage clinic in Oslo where the prognosis is good. In a year or two Lord and Lady Longbottom are expected to make an excellent, if not full, recovery.
The certified examinations are available.
Along with the report showing that the head healer for the magical damage ward as well as two of the shift supervisor medi witches had been charmed and hexed in order to not treat the Longbottoms. They were made to believe that any attempts to help the Longbottoms would cause them excruciating pain and would possibly make them worse rather than better.
The person who charmed and hexed them, Albus Dumbledore.
Minerva McGonagall has not responded to the ICW’s nor the Goblin Horde’s attempts to interview and examine her. I am hoping that with the Headmaster removed from Hogwarts, she will receive their requests and feel safe enough to respond.” For the next few weeks, “Free McGonagall” merchandise will be a huge seller.
Lady Malfoy pauses and visibly steels herself.
“This brings us to young Harry Potter himself. Albus Dumbledore used several methods to magically hide the child. So the ICW coordinated with muggle private eyes and a muggle child protection agency to find Vernon and Petunia Dursley. They finally found him three days ago.
Those reports are in the files. They are deeply disturbing. Harry was found severely underweight, malnourished, and bruised. He was locked in a boot cupboard under the stairs and told the social worker it was his room. His examination shows he has suffered chronic physical abuse including broken bones, chemical burns, and even a skull fracture. None of the injuries had been medically treated.
Neighbors reported they didn’t even realize the Dursleys had a second child in the home.
Harry’s older cousin had also been abused. But in his case it had manifested as being fed to the point of obesity, being encouraged to attack his cousin physically while his father cheer, and being given no boundaries or rules.
Both children were removed from the home and taken in by an ICW trauma specialist. She is ensuring that both kids are being seen by Healers and Mind Healers.
Vernon Dursley was beheaded at the scene when he tried to attack one of the Goblin Warriors on site who was there to protect the ICW child specialist.
Petunia Dursley is being held for trial by the ICW. She is a squib so they have jurisdiction. However she also shows a long history of physical abuse that will be taken into account at her sentencing. Most likely, she will be memory charmed and given a completely new identity in a different country. But that trial is scheduled for late next month in the ICW family court in Rome.”
Lady Malfoy pauses and sips her water. She takes a deep breath and seems to relax a little. The worst is over.
“I appreciate your patience and indulgence as I relayed all these events. This finally brings me to the reason I asked to be added to the Wizengamot agenda.
I have three emergency motions to present to your membership.
One, as Sirius Black’s cousin, I demand his immediate release into my custody. After nearly six years in Azkaban, he is going to need a lot of physical and mental healing. I have already contracted with a staff of two healers, a goblin shamen, a priestess of Apollo, and two mind healers. Each one has been vetted and declared free of influence by the ICW and the Goblin Court.
Two, on Sirius Black’s behalf, I demand to immediately be appointed as emergency guardian of his heir Harry Potter and Harry’s cousin, Dudley Dursley. In addition to the previously mentioned medical staff, I have two nanny house elves, a witch who just finished her master level courses on early childhood development, and a squib who has spent the last decade teaching muggle elementary school.
Three, on behalf of the 21 other prisoners who have spent years in Azkaban without trial, I demand their immediate release to either their families or the Bianchi Clinic for Rehabilitation and Rejuvenation in Rome. The goblins have a fund set up to cover either personal healers in the family home or treatment at the Bianchi Clinic for each prisoner.
The final documents in the evidence file are these three emergency motions.
Chairman Douglas, I return the podium to your control.”
With that Narcissa Malfoy glided back to her seat.
The first motion passes.
Albus Dumbledore tries to make a run for it during the voting on the second motion. One of the goblin warriors throws an axe and cleaves the old man’s head in two. The warrior then walks over to Dumbledore’s dead body, turns it over, and rummages through the dead wizard’s robes until he finds Dumbledore’s wand. The goblin warrior then uses Albus’s own wand to set his corpse on fire and burn it to ash. Satisfied his clan honor is restored, the goblin warrior returns to his party and presents Dumbledore’s wand to Lady Malfoy.
As soon as Narcissa takes the wand from the goblin warrior’s hand, Fawkes bursts into the hall with a song and lands on Lucius Malfoy’s shoulder. The phoenix proceeds to groom Lord Malfoy’s hair with his beak for a few seconds before settling down.
The next two motions also pass.
Chapter 9: Quiet Before the Storm
Lucius and Narcissa spend a quiet evening together.
Lucius sat in bed reading over the scrolls his solicitor had sent. It was a mess extricating himself from dozens of black and illegal business dealings.
The Malfoy estate was involved in everything from black market potions ingredients to undocumented portkeys, selling of dark artifacts to sponsoring tomb robbing, money laundering through the vampire banks in the Ukraine to illegal use of seers to invest in muggle world markets.
In order to get clear Lucius had struck deals with both the ICW and Goblins to expose the illegal operations in exchange for immunity. It is very useful way to ensure unmarked supporters of Lord Voldemort will to be too busy defending themselves against charges by the ICW and begging the goblins to unfreeze their vaults to launch any sort of coordinate reprisals against Lucius and Narcissa in the short term.
Unfortunately it was also a ton a paperwork and meant taking a loss in most of those endeavors. The goblins had also required three Malfoy family artifacts in reparations. One of the artifacts they’d insisted on was the dragon-eye dagger. It’s hilt has a ruby the size of snitch at the end of the pommel and the mithril blade is infused with the venom of a Peruvian Kukulkan. It was an absolutely priceless treasure and Lucius swears he felt at least a dozen of his ancestors start spinning in their graves when he handed it over to Stonefort.
In order to free up some galleons, Lucius was selling Lord Weasley the Malfoy hunting lodge in Scotland. The property is adjacent to the barony Arthur claimed. So the sale increases the new Lord Weasley’s lands and it helps cement their families allegiance. And because Arthur is hopelessly earnest, he insisted on paying Lucius full value for the property and buildings. Gryffindors might be good for something after all.
Lucius finishes signing and initialing the sale and seals the scroll to be owled back to Gringotts in the morning.
Narcissa is at the vanity removing her enhancement charms and rubbing various potions and creams into her skin. Lucius remembers asking her once why she spent so much time on her beauty routine when she is already the most gorgeous creature on the planet. She’d laughed and told him “Women, like houses, require constant upkeep if you want them to still impress people a hundred years from now.”
He wants to tell her that she has nothing to worry about. Forty years from now she’ll still be the most beautiful woman in any room. That the tiny line she develops in her forehead and the light crinkles at the corners of her eyes will make him adore her all the more. They will make her look more herself, a beauty that can be touched and cherished rather than an untouchable goddess that can only be admired and feared from afar. But he can’t find a way to put the words together so she’d understand rather than feel he was humoring her.
Narcissa’s eyes meet his in the mirror. He feels it like a punch to the chest. Merlin he loves her. She raises a questioning eyebrow. He smiles and says “Snow White would always have to settle for second best in your kingdom.”
Narcissa laughs and says “I’d never delegate the removing of her heart to some random huntsman. I’m more than able to take care of such matters personally. How lazy was that queen? First she outsources the murder of her enemy and then she mixes up her potions and gives the brat Draught of Living Death instead of Draught of Certain Death. That woman deserved to lose her kingdom. Her subjects deserved better than that sort of incompetence.”
Lucius snorts. Then he becomes more serious. “I wish I had been the one to testify. People know you’re dangerous now. They’ll come for you.”
Narcissa puts down her night cream and picks up her hairbrush. She starts brushing her hair and thinks a moment before she says, “It had to be me. Too many people already fear you or hate you. They would have spent their time trying to figure out your angle without actually listening. The light and grey families would have stoned you to death on the dias as soon as you began speaking about family traditions and lore.”
Lucius sighs and says, “I know. We agreed it was the only way. But I don’t like it. I have always been prepared for them to come at me. Everything from the wards to my will are set up for me to be killed by some idiot do-gooder fighting for whatever society is calling ‘light’ today. I cannot lose you. I will burn the entire wizarding world to the ground and end magic first.”
Narciss puts down her hairbrush and walks over to the bed. She climbs in next to Lucius and leaning against his side rests her head on his shoulder. He lays his cheek against the top of her head. She reaches down and tangles her fingers with his. Lucius closes his eyes and savors her closeness, her warmth. He allows himself to get lost in the sound of her breathing and light scent of jasmine and freesia from her evening beauty routine.
Until Narciss jabs the back of his hand with a hat pin.
“Ow! What the hell?” Lucius jerks his hand but Narcissa doesn’t let go as he raises the back of his hand to his lips to suck on the drop of blood welling up where she stabbed him.
Narcissa’s voice is low and hard when she says “You listen to me, Lucius Abraxas Malfoy. You do not get to set the world on fire and storm off into the afterlife if I die. You will follow our plans. You will raise our son and Harry Potter. You will fulfil your side of the bargain you made with Magic. It’s time to grow up. We don’t get to make big dramatic gestures that lead to our deaths. Leave that sort of foolishness to the Potters.”
Narcissa pulls their clasped hands away from Lucius’s mouth. She stabs the back of her own hand with the hatpin. As the blood wells up and puts down the hat pin and finally releases Lucius’s still bleeding hand. Realizing what she wants Lucius turns the back of his bleeding hand and presses it against the back of her bleeding hand, allowing their blood to mix.
Narcissa says “I pledge my blood and my body to my lord.”
Lucius replies “May I always be worthy of my lady. I will protect her blood and body with my own.”
Lucius feels his magic rise, swell and Narcissa’s magic reaches out in return. Mixing like fire and ice, lightning and the deep rumble of thunder. It is the most powerful and intimate thing Lucius has ever felt. It always it. Since the first time she shared herself this way with him on their wedding night. A joining more powerful than flesh and bodies, this is the joining of magic and souls. It lasts seconds, Lucius has always suspected that if it lasted for longer his body might shake apart and scatter through the cosmos like stardust.
In the first timeline, taking the dark mark had prevented the communion of their magic from happening. Narcissa had cried when their magic would no longer touch. She’d retreated to her own bedroom for three months before she forgave him. In the beginning, it was the only thing he regretted about accepting the mark. Now, of course, he could fill novels with how many regrets he had the all started with taking the mark.
Narcissa lifts her hand away from his. He captures her fingers and brings the back of her hand to his lips. He carefully licks their combined blood off her skin. She does the same to his hand. He feels something drop onto the back of his hand and realizes Narcissa is quietly crying.
“What’s wrong?” Lucius asks as he gathers her close.
Narcissa hates to cry. She buries her face in his shoulder and takes a few deep breaths until she has herself under control. Then she lifts her head and looking away from Lucius she says “I was afraid it still wouldn’t work. That just taking the mark once broke something between us that was unfixable even by Magic herself. But you really are returned to me. My husband and my lord. You are once again my Lucius. My magic isn’t doomed to decades or possibly a century of lying untouched and isolated.”
Narcissa turns her head back to look at him when she says, “When you first took the mark I dreamed of all the ways I wanted to murder Voldemort. But I knew even if he died, the mark would remain. Forever blocking you from me.” Anger creeps into her voice as she continues, “The worst part was you wanted to do that to Draco. You wanted to make it so he would never know what it was like to combine his magic with his wife. Those three months I spent in my own room, I’d lie awake in bed all night. I thought of dozens of ways to murder you along with Voldemort. So that Draco would be free. But I loved you too much. Even when I hated you, I couldn’t bring myself to murder you.” Narcissa sighs and sounds resigned when she says, “I wonder if that was still true in your timeline. I wonder if that me could have killed you at the news of Draco’s death.”
“You didn’t have to.” Lucius replies, “I was already dying by then. I hadn’t admitted it to myself, but looking back I’m sure you’d realized. By then, you’d spent years in your own room each night. We shared a home, but I don’t think you’d loved me for a long time.”
Narcissa thinks for a few moments. Finally she looks Lucius directly in the eye when she says “We’re going to do better this time. We are going to save Harry Potter. We’re going to raise him, love him, help him defeat Voldemort, and help him find happiness and fulfillment by taking his proper place in the magical world.
And in doing this, we are going to restore magic. Saving magic herself will be the legacy we give to Draco.
You and I will grow old together, improperly and scandalously in love. We will dote on all the grandchildren Draco, Harry, and even Dudley give us.
You are going to build the Malfoy fortune by being an incredible businessman in the Muggle world as well as ours. I am going to host parties that people will tell their children about.
And I’m going to find the smartest, most beautiful, and most accomplished witches to initiate into the line of Medea. You’re going to teach me the coming of age ceremony your mother used, so I can add the correct wording to my ceremony. The line of Medea, like the line of Boadicea, will pledge ourselves correctly so if magic needs us, she can call on us even after death.
We are going to be so successful that future generations will look back upon us as a golden age like Camelot or Atlantis.”
Narcissa pauses. She takes Lucius’s hand in her hand and brings it towards her mouth. She kisses the Malfoy ring. Then she lowers his hand and gets on her knees. She straddles him and places her hands on his shoulder. She is looking directly in his eyes, so close her breath is mingling with his. “And if I should die before we accomplish all those things, you will damned well finish whatever is left on the list before you join me on the other side. Have I made myself clear Lord Malfoy?”
“Very, Lady Malfoy” Lucius responds.
“Good” Narcissa closes the gap between them and bites Lucius’s bottom lip. “Now show me why you’re Lord of the manor. I expect not to be able to remember my name by the time you’re done.”
Never let it be said that Lucius doesn’t know how execute a brilliant plan when he hears one.
Chapter 10: Sirius
Time to free Sirius.
Sirius felt the dementors leave. Knowing human guards would come by soon he shifted into his human skin. Azkaban is even colder without his fur. It’s not a meal time. It’s early morning but the sun hasn’t started to rise.
“Good. Maybe they’ll kill me.” Sirius thinks with a vicious pleasure. Anger and resentment churning deep in his belly. It won’t be the first time a couple of guards have slipped in after hours to beat and curse him. It happened more often in the beginning.
Sirius closes his eyes and curls up in the corner. Let them think he is sleeping. Maybe an opportunity will present itself and he will get a piece of one of them.
“Sirius. I know you aren’t sleeping. You’re entirely too tense.”
It can’t be.
Sirius looks through the bars and sees Amelia Bones standing next to two of the younger guards.
“Amelia?” Sirius’s voice is little more than a rusty growl.How long has it been since he said something?
“I’m so sorry, Sirius. We’ve got fresh clothes. There’s a hot meal and a shower waiting on the other side of the ferry. Come along.” One of the guards unlocks the door and swings it open.
“No need. They can kiss me right here. Wouldn’t want to inconvenience the ministry by being demanding.” Sirius pushes himself up to his feet.
“No! Sirius you’re being released. None of us realized there hadn’t been a trial. You and 21 others are being released first thing. I wanted to bring you the news myself and fill you in on what’s happened.” Amelia gestures for the guards to get out of the way.
Sirius freezes. It’s a dream. Dear Merlin, he must have fallen asleep after the dementors backed away. It’s the only explanation.
Amelia walks into the cell. She keeps her hands visible and down by her side. She moves slowly towards him. “Sirius, that bastard Dumbledore. Well, it’s all a huge mess and really you should have a shower and a hot meal before I even try to explain it all.”
Sirius flinches back thinking “Wake up! Wake up, you fool!”
Amelia pulls out her wand and says “I, Amelia Prudence Bones, do solemnly swear on my magic that Sirius Black and 21 other prisoners are being released from Azkaban today because they were held unlawfully and without a trial.” She then casts a strong warming charm on Sirius.
Sirius takes a deep breath and straightens his shoulders. “Alright, Bones. Lead the way. And there best be bacon as part of that hot meal.”
Sirius is starting to believe this is real. He, the 21 other prisoners, and a shit-ton of aurors take several boats across the water.
The ministry has taken over a muggle hotel: ”LARPing Convention expect to see and hear a lot of weird stuff that makes no sense.” the staff had been told.
Each of the released prisoners has a pair of aurors take them to a hotel room so they can shower, shave, and change into clean clothes.
Once they are in a room, Amelia says “I have something yours.” and pulls out his wand. She hands his wand to him like it is nothing, no big deal. After 6 years, wandless, cold, hungry, and utterly without hope, it feels like she’s giving him back a limb or maybe his eyesight. As soon as he grasps his wand he feels his magic leap forward and golden sparks fly out the end.
“There’s fresh clothes on the counter in the bathroom. Go ahead and take as long as you like in the shower. The hotel has a breakfast buffet going for the next 4 hours. So we can go get food whenever you’re ready.” Amelia shoos him towards the bathroom.
Sirius turns on the light and sees himself in the mirror. He doesn’t even recognize his own face. Unkempt wild hair and beard framed sunken eyes and sharp cheekbones. He turns the light off. After 6 years the dark feels more familiar anyhow. He strips out of his ragged prison uniform. The little bathroom smells like cleaning products. It makes him horrifyingly aware of how much his uniform, and he, reeks. Sweat, dirt, despair, and so much worse. He cracks open the door and tosses the rags he’d been wearing into the bedroom.
It takes a few minutes of trial and error to get hot water flowing and turn the shower on. He steps into the warm spray and feels it wash down over him. He keeps turning it hotter and hotter, nearly boiling himself to make up for years of being cold. He doesn’t know how long he sands there just letting the hot water beat down on him.
Suddenly it is too much. He sits down in the tub under the hot spray and begins to sob. He tries to muffle the noise in his knees. But he can’t stop. He is making horrible noises like a wounded animal.
Amelia opens the door. She’d been willing to let him cry himself out and pretend she hadn’t heard. But the sounds are too heartbreaking.
Sirius had been her partner in training. She had felt so betrayed and angry when it came out that he killed the Potters. She’s been right with the crowd calling for his blood. And now it turns out she was the one who let him down. She was the one who betrayed him by never even questioning what she’d been told.
It had been an exhausting couple of days. The entire evening after Lady Malfoy’s testimony had been spent contacting families and finding out which prisoners were returning to their family homes and which ones were going to the Bianchi Clinic first.
Then Croaker had insisted that all Department of Mysteries employees, all Department of Magical Law Enforcement employees, Department Heads, Department Secretaries, the Minister of Magic, and the Minister of Magic’s entire staff be checked for loyalty charms, loyalty hexes, loyalty potions, memory modifications, behavior modifications, magical blocks, etc… by a goblin shaman and an ICW healer. Even with eight pairs of shamen and healers working simultaneously, it was almost 4 am before enough aurors were declared clear of influence to start the prisoner release at Azkaban.
A disturbing number of ministry employees were found with magical blocks, loyalty charms, and memory charms. The goblins and ICW would continue checking the rest of the ministry employees over the next week. Then they are going to check all Hogwarts employees, all St. Mungo’s employees, and finally they will offer testing to anyone who attended Hogwarts or spent time with Albus Dumbledore.
The goblins were grumbling about necromancy so they could bring Dumbledore back and execute him at least 8 to 10 more times.
Amelia is one hundred percent onboard with that plan considering she had to drink 3 flushing draughts, have three different loyalty charms stripped from her aura, have a loyalty hex carefully pried away from her core, have a magical block removed from her parselmagic (and wasn’t that a kick in the teeth, to find out she’s a damn parselwitch at age 28), and have several memories returned to her last night. Every one of those memories involving her asking Dumbledore why Sirius Black hadn’t received a trail.
So Amelia is exhausted and shaken herself, and she just can’t bare to listen to Sirius Black wail any longer. She turns on the light and sees him huddled in on himself beneath the steaming spray of the shower. He never closed the shower curtain so there’s water puddled all over the floor.
She strips off her uniform, spells the water off the floor and back into to tub, and she climbs into the shower closing the curtain around both her and Sirius. She turns the heat down a little so the water is tolerable. She kneels down in front of him and puts her hand on his arms. He’s so thin. She remembers how strong and vibrant he was during training. The sort of cad who’d hit her in the bum with a pinching hex while they were dueling and then wink at her. “Oh Siri, you’re breaking my heart.” she says.
Sirius lets go of his knees and reaches for Amelia. He pulls her to him and buries his face in her hair as he cries. She wraps her arms around him and holds on tight. And if she cries a little too, neither of them will ever tell.
Finally the sobbing stops. His breath stops shuddering. He can breathe again. Amelia doesn’t let go and doesn’t loosen her grip. She will hold him from now until the sun explodes if that is what he needs.
“I see how it is now. Taking advantage of the gratitude of released prisoners is how you get your jollies these days, Amelia?” Sirius jokes.
Amelia pulls back and punches him in the arm. “If that were the case, I would found myself someone pretty rather than wasting my time with your ugly mug.”
Amelia stands and pulls Sirius up after her. “Now I’ll wash your back and you wash mine just like that time we got hit with skunk weed during the raid on Talbot’s Apothecary.”
Once they are both scrubbed clean and wrapped in towels, Amelia directs Sirius to sit on the closed lid of the toilet. She carefully spells the beard off his face for him and then follows it up with a skin soothing spell. “Great. Now I smell like lilacs. What kind of girly spells are you using on me, Bones? Should I expect to find my hair in ringlets too?”
Amelia snorts and says “It’s better than the wet dog smell you had before. I’m just classing you up a bit. Do you want me to trim your hair? If not, your cousin sent a jeweled hair clip that matches the fancy duds she sent along for you.” She gestures at the clothes on the counter along with a familiar pair of cufflinks and a hair tie Sirius hasn’t seen since his parents kicked him out of the house.
The cufflinks and hair tie each sport the profile of a raven with a ruby red eye. They’d been his gift the night before he went off to Hogwarts. His brother’s way of saying that even if he was sorted into Ravenclaw, it would be ok.
Sirius had worn them all through his first few of years at Hogwarts. But he’d accidently left them behind when he’d run away to go seek shelter with the Potters.
“How on Earth did Andromeda manage to get her hands on those?” Sirius asked.
“She didn’t. Narcissa did.” Amelia responded.
“Narcissa?” Sirius says. It makes no sense unless, “Is Lucius dead?”
“No, but it’s a long story. Get dressed and I’ll tell you everything over breakfast.” Amelia leaves Sirius in the bathroom to get dressed. She puts her auror uniform back on in the bedroom while she waits.
Sirius is pretty sure that bacon has gotten better in the last six years.
Amelia gives him the last two days editions of the Daily Prophet where he reads all about Narcissa’s testimony: the public declaration regarding family tradition and lore, Lucius being free of the Dark Mark and offering to remove it from others, Dumbledore’s betrayal, Harry’s abuse, Dumbledore’s execution… it’s unbelievable. It’s like the plot from one of those radio dramas housewives listen to in the middle of the day where everyone has an evil twin and people are constantly coming back from the dead.
Amelia also slides over the preliminary report from the goblins and ICW showing just how many people had been subject to Dumbledore’s particular brand of “greater good” treatment. Including blocks on family gifts like parselmagic, green magic, soulmates, aviamagic, seers, and holy callings.
Sirius is gutted. “We trusted him. He defeated Grindelwald and had a pheonix as a familiar for Merlin’s sake. How did he get away with this?”
Amelia replies “Everyone is going to be asking that for a long time. It seems we were all busy fighting Voldemort and missed a different Dark Lord right in front of our faces. And it turns out Fawkes wasn’t his familiar at all. Fawkes is connected to Dumbledore’s wand somehow. As soon as his wand was given to Narcissa as an item of conquest by the goblins, Fawkes appeared on Lucius’s shoulder.”
“Right. This whole thing is hopelessly buggered.” Sirius pushes his plate away and rubs his hands over his face.
Finally he says, “Ok, I need to clean out Grimmauld Place so Harry and I have a home, meet with my account manager to find out what’s happened with my vaults, and look into hiring a lawyer to sue everyone until I feel better about this mess. When are we going to be done here so I can get started?”
Amelia freezes for a second and then says “Sirius, you spent nearly 6 years in Azkaban. And we have no idea what charms, hexes, curses, blocks etc… Dumbledore left on you. No court in the world is going to hand a traumatized little boy, much less two traumatized boys, into your care.
Since you adopted Harry Potter as your son and heir, Narcissa petitioned the courts as your cousin to be made Harry’s, and his cousin Dudley’s, emergency guardian.”
“What?” Sirius shouts standing so quickly his chair falls over. “You cannot be telling me that Harry is being handed over to Lucius Malfoy’s tender care! Have you all lost your minds? Lucius is one of the darkest bastards on the planet!”
Amelia picks up his chair and says “Sit down!” in an angry whisper.
“If you want any chance of gaining custody of Harry, you need to be smart about it. Yelling and throwing scenes in public isn’t going to help you prove that you’re healthy and sane enough to take care of a little boy who was starved and beaten most of his life. If you want to be a father to that little boy, you’re going to go home with Lord and Lady Malfoy this afternoon. You’re going to take full advantage of the mind healers, goblin shaman, Priestess of Apollo and regular healers they’ve hired to care for you, Harry, and Dudley.”
Sirius, sitting again, lowers his voice to a growl when he responds “Stay in Malfoy Mannor? Trust whatever corrupt healers and staff Lucius has brought in to seize control of the Black line? You’re crazier than a niffler in a box of snitches if you think that’s going to happen. I’d rather take the ferry back to Azkaban.”
Amelia can’t believe how stubborn Sirius is being. “Lucius Malfoy did some crazy petition to magic herself. He refuses to say exactly what only that it could have and probably should have killed him.
But Magic herself rewarded him by not just removing his dark mark, she cleansed his entire core and auror. His magic is so pure he could work on a unicorn preserve. He is also able and willing to remove Voldemort’s the mark from other people.
Don’t get me wrong, Lucius Malfoy was one dark SOB. A year ago, I would have gleefully locked him up in Azkaban and thrown away the key. But by every possible measure, it appears he has made a drastic change that Magic herself approved.”
“Sure” Sirius snorts, “Lucius, right hand man to the dark lord, is now all sunshine and light. How can you be so gullible? Obviously this is some sort of scam. It’s a power play of some kind. How can you not see that?”
Amelia replies “Narcissa worked with the Goblins and ICW for seven months putting together the pieces to free you, save Harry, and take down Dumbledore. She’s your cousin for goodness sakes. I can’t imagine she did all that and put herself in such a dangerous and public position just to get access to the Black vaults. When she could have just petitioned Arcturus Black to name Draco as his new heir.”
Amelia continues “As for Lucius, If he had the ability to fake out the Goblin Horde, multiple ICW healers, a Vestal Priestess, and a Priestess of Apollo, he never would have needed to follow Voldemort to start with. Lucius is smart, cunning, and ruthless. But he’s not Merlin. There’s no way he could pull off a scam this big. The change to his magic and core have been certified by so many different organizations. I’m not saying it makes him a good guy. But it should absolutely buy him a little trust and leniency.”
Sirius shakes his head. “No, this is crazy, Amelia. Three days ago everyone knew the Malfoy’s were dark as sin and that Dumbledore was our champion for the light. Now, after two days of testimony from Narcissa, everyone is just ready to accept the Malfoy’s as shining examples of wizardom and Dumbledore as a secret Dark Lord.” Sirius makes a frustrated noise and continues, “From what I can see, Dumbledore didn’t even get a chance to defend himself. He was executed by the Goblins before he was able to say a word. This is all just a little too convenient for my tastes.”
Amelia responds, “Part of that may be because of whatever lingering loyalty charms, hexes, etc… Dumbledore left on you. Don’t shake your head at me!
Last night, it took 3 flushing drafts to get rid of loyalty potions in my system. Then 20 minutes of work by an ICW healer and a goblin shaman to remove three loyalty charms from my aura and a loyalty hex from my core, all keyed to Dumbledore. Another 30 agonizing minutes for them to remove a block Dumbledore put on my parselmagic when I was as child. Finally it took a mind healer another 20 minutes to restore three different memories of me going to Dumbledore having just discovered you never received a trail.
So each time I discovered you didn’t get a trial I went to that twinkling-eyed son of a bitch for help. And each time he memory charmed me, dosed me with a loyalty potion keyed to him, and hit me with a loyalty charm keyed to him. I guess the third time he was getting nervous so he added a loyalty hex to my core for good measure. He stopped me from even knowing you needed to be saved. He stopped me, and Merlin knows how many other people, from helping you. He purposely left you in Azkaban to rot.”
Sirius shakes his head and says, “Albus Dumbledore is a great man. He never would have done that. This is a Malfoy trick and you’re handing my son into their care! You say you didn’t help me before, so help me now!”
Amelia puts her hand on his arm and gently says, “I am helping you now.”
After a brief pause, she says a little more briskly, “If you’re finished with breakfast we have goblin shamen, ICW healers, ICW mind healers, ICW potion masters, a couple Vetsal Priestesses, and a few Pristesses of Apollo on hand to evaluate you for loyalty charms, loyalty hexes, behavior modification potions, memory charms, any magical blocks, as well as assess the damage done by your stay in Azkaban.”
Sirius jerks his arm away, “You’re just going to hand me over to them. The same people that brainwashed you and Merlin knows how many other people on behalf of the Malfoys?”
Amelia pulls out her wand and casts a body bind on Sirius. “If you think that anyone, even the Malfoys, could find a way around the stringent vows taken by a Vestal Priestess, I know something is wrong with you. We will find what it is and we’ll fix it. I promise, Sirius.”
Amelia floats Sirius’s bound body towards one of the conference rooms where the team of healers are waiting.
Chapter 11: Narcissa Rolls Up Her Sleeves
Narcissa Malfoy is a BAMF.
Today is critical. Everything will either fall in line, or things are about to get much more difficult.
By mid morning or early afternoon Narcissa should have the report from the healing team on Sirius. Then she and the emergency coordinator for the ICW can decide if Sirius is well enough to be moved into the manor today so he’ll already be in place when Harry and Dudley move in this evening.
She is busy making her third version of today’s to do list, when Moppet pops into the library. “Mistress Malfoy, Lord Black is in the floo calling for Master and Mistress Malfoy. Tobsit is telling Master Malfoy.”
Narcissa caps her ink, rinses and dries the tip of her quill, and puts away her scrolls. “Thank you, Moppet. You may return to your duties.” Narcissa stands, smoothing her dress. She transfigures a lamp into a full sized mirror to ensure she is perfectly put together. Satisfied, she returns the mirror to its lamp form and heads for the receiving hall.
She isn’t nervous. Lord Black will either be offering an apology, or Lucius will take him apart piece by piece on the dueling platform. However, it will be much better for their plans if Lord Black is offering an apology, especially since they don’t know Sirius’s state. If Lucius is forced to kill the current Lord Black, and Sirius isn’t mentally or physically stable enough to take on the mantle of Lord Black, there will be a fight for the Lord Regent position until Harry is of age. Everything is already in place to ensure Lucius would be awarded the position, but it would give fuel to the fire of people who want to discredit the Malfoys in order to gain control of both the Potter and Black family magic.
Narcissa plucks three hairs from her head as she walks and quickly knots them together at the top. She places the knot between her lips to hold the strands still so she can braid them together. Once braided she ties the bottom of the strands into a knot as well. Using her broach, she pricks her forearm and runs the braided strand through the dot of blood that wells up.
Coiling the braid in the palm of her right hand Narcissa whispers, “Lady Athena hear my supplication and accept my token. I have crafted my plan. Please aid me with your wisdom and strength. Let any who are standing in my way be bound. Let all who aid me be nourished.”
Narcissa pushes her magic into the token. It combusts with a sapphire flame and disappears without any ash only leaving behind the faint smell of orange blossoms. Token accepted with the best possible portants.”Efkharisto” Narcissa murmurs.
Narcissa heals the pin prick on her arm. Then she turns the corner and enters the receiving hall.
Lord Black is wearing traditional morning robes and is accompanied by a house elf in a clean pillow case. The house elf is holding a wooden jewelry box.
Lucius holds his hand out to take hers and says “Narciss, darling, Lord Black has brought an apology gift.”
Lord Black offers a bow and says “Lady Malfoy, I humbly and wholeheartedly apologize for my words on the floor of the Wizengamot. Your brave actions have seen my heir exonerated and a great injustice corrected. You are a credit to the House of Malfoy and to the House of Black.”
The house elf walks forward two paces and opens the jewelry box.
“As a token of my apology, I am giving you the Black rubies.”
Nestled into the box is a ruby and diamond floral bandeau necklace with matching bracelet, earrings, brooch, and diadem. They are stunning. They were the favorite pieces of Ursula Black, given to her by her husband, Phineas Nigellus Black, in celebration of the birth of their first son.
Narcissa waits for Lucius to tilt his head to let her know he finds the apology acceptable.
Narcissa curtseys and says “I accept your apology and your lovely gift, Lord Black. We won’t ever think on it again.” Narcissa continues, “With Sirius joining us at the manor to recover from his ordeal, I do hope we will be seeing a great deal more of you. Won’t you join us for tea? Or, if you prefer something a touch more bracing, I’m sure my Lucius would be happy to show you his latest plans for our Abraxan racing lines in his study.”
Lord Black chuckles, “You know me too well. I’d love to hear about the Malfoy racing stable and I wouldn’t say no to some Campbell’s Finest.”
Lucius releases Narcissa’s hand and takes the jewelry box from the Black family house elf and closes the lid. He calls for Tobsit. “Please place this in my Lady’s vault and let the kitchen know Lord Black is joining us for tea.”
Tobsit takes the case, bows, and pops out of the room.
Lucius clasps Lord Black’s shoulder and says “Right this way. I recently purchased a beauty of a foal from Lord Greenglass.”
Narcissa admires how deftly Lord Black, “please call me Arcturus,” has adopted his hail-fellow-well-met persona. Exuberantly discussing abraxan racing with Lucius then drawing Narcissa into a conversations regarding the best wines to pair with various game. Back to congratulations towards Lucius for the deal he just closed acquiring 27% of a muggle shipping firm. Then praising Narcissa for the smart layout of the Malfoy formal gardens. If anyone had happened upon them taking tea in the sitting room, they’d assume the three of them old friends.
Narcissa hears the subtext. Lord Black has not forgotten Lucius’s words in front of the Wizengamot regarding the caliber of witch Lord Black had married. Nor is he unaware that by presenting their information to the Goblins, ICW, and publically to the whole of Wizarding Britain, without even attempting to contact Lord Black, they made him look like an out of touch old fool. A man who didn’t even realize his own heir was languishing in Azkaban without a trial and innocent of the crimes he’d been accused. Arcturus is doing them the courtesy of letting them know he’s not toothless.
Narcissa and Lucius communicate via a series of cup placements, hand placements, and carefully chosen words. It is a code they’d worked out long ago to ensure they are always on the same page when entertaining.
Lucius turning his cucumber sandwich a quarter turn with the tongs before returning the tongs to the serving tray: “spy”.
Narcissa mentioning that Arcturus simply must travel to Singaraja in Bali, the magical community there has been influenced by Hindu, Muslim, and Buddhist traditions making their family rituals and festivals hum with magic you simply don’t get to experience in Britain: “dangerous - need to revise our plans”.
Lucius letting his right hand rest at the edge of the table and absentmindedly tapping his wedding band against the table twice while making an passionate point. “He/She shouldn’t know that.”
Narcissa adding a lace cookie to Lucius’s plate before she takes one for herself. “Keep him/her close. We need intel.”
“Lucius, Narcissa, it has been a pleasure.” Arcturus beams as he leans back in his chair, “This old man can’t remember having a finer time in years. You really must join me for dinner at Black Manor next week. Bring along Draco, Harry, and Dudley. I’d love the chance to meet our family’s newest generation.”
Arcturus pauses, his smile falls, and his voice is more serious when he continues, “If he is up for it, please bring Sirius as well. I owe him the deepest of apologies.”
With a wistful shrug of his shoulders, Lord Black rises and reaches out to shake Lord Malfoy’s hand.
“Arcturus, the pleasure was ours. We’d be delighted to join you for dinner.” Lucius clasps Lord Black’s hand.
Narcissa gives a curtsey and says, “I do hope this means you are ready to attend more society events. Not a single event passes without mention of how you and your dear Melania are missed. The spring ball she organized in 1928 is still remembered as the most elegant event anyone ever had the pleasure of attending. Her loss is still felt among the ladies of the Ton, but her memory is cherished and shared. I know her friends would be heartened to see you again.”
Lord Black gives a small smile and says, “She was a remarkable witch. I believe she would have adored you. She was an ardent supporter of witches suffrage. She would have seen your revealing of family traditions and lore as just exactly the sort of revolution our stuffy society needs.”
Lord Black bobs his head at Narcissa and turns to walk back to the Receiving Hall. Lucius escorts him while asking about Lord Black’s favorite Quidditch team.
Narcissa is going to have to make the rounds with the matrons of society to find out what Melania’s favorite charity was. Lucius will hold a fundraiser for it in Melania’s honor, or pay to have a building erected in her name, or start a scholarship. Something public and thoughtful should help appease Lord Black’s ire over Lucius’s comments before the Wizengamot. It will be a start to getting this relationship back on track.
More difficult will be soothing the waters regarding the revelation of his heir’s predicament.
Lord Black has been out of play for too long for Narcissa to feel confident she knows all his connections. And with the information he dropped during tea, it’s clear he has access to at least one information source they’d overlooked. Lucius’s acquisition of the muggle shipping firm hasn’t been advertised nor spoken about in the wizarding world. Though it had been announced in the muggle business journals, so it’s possible that Lord Black is simply savvy enough to do business in both societies. More distressing is Narcissa completely redid the formal gardens after Draco turned one and Lord Black hasn’t been to the manner at any time after that.
Luckily heir Black’s planned convalescence at Malfoy Manor seems to have persuaded Lord Black to give the Malfoy’s a chance to sooth those rough feelings rather than declaring an all out feud. Though it’s always possible that today’s tea is a feint to distract Narcissa and Lucius while Arcturus works quietly in the background to undermine them. Narcissa is going to have to work quickly to ascertain which is true.
Narcissa’s contemplation is interrupted by the unexpected return of Lucius and Lord Black accompanied by Amelia Bones and Chief Ragnok.
“It’s about Sirius.” Amelia says quickly. “That twinkling-eyed, troll buggerer made Sirius take a loyalty oath on his life and magic.”
Narcissa feels the blood drain from her face.
Lucius orders the house elves to bring everyone a shot of warm brandy with honey. And gets everyone seated.
Narcissa’s mind is spinning as she’s looking for an angle any angle to save her cousin.
Chief Ragnok begins “There is evidence of old loyalty potions, loyalty hexes, loyalty charms, as well as an inhibition lowering hex designed to make Sirius erratic and more willing to charge into danger. Many, many memories were returned. Our mind healers found entire parts of Sirius’s memory had been twisted, new memories laid down over hidden old memories. With the amount of changes, the ICW mind healers suggested we fix the memory slowly over months because all at once would be incredibly traumatic and would most likely leave Sirius Black feeling disoriented and alienated from his own life.”
Several scrolls appear on the low table in front of Ragnok detailing all the charm work, potions, etc… found in Sirius’s examination and the treatment recommendations. Ragnok passes them around so everyone has a chance to review them.
“It was the Vestal Priestess who uncovered the oath anchored deep in Black’s core. One of the mind healers was able to uncover the memory of the oath.”
Ragnok pulls a memory vial out of his robe. “You can review it later. It contains a prophecy about Harry Potter and Lord Voldemort. Dumbledore told Sirius about it three days after Sirius became Harry’s third parent by ritually adopting Harry as his son and heir. Between the inhibition lowering charm and the incredibly strong protective instinct a ritual adoption creates in a new parent, Sirius would have agreed to anything to help protect Harry.
Dumbledore used that to insist Sirius vow a personal loyalty oath to Dumbledore on his life and magic. The oath was cemented in place with the Holly wand. Which is why it didn’t lift at Dumbledore’s death.”
Amelia Bones makes a frustrated noise and takes over, “Now, in order to protect itself, Sirius’s magic keeps twisting his mind to insist that Dumbledore was good and light and everything revealed in the last three days is part of a vast conspiracy for Lord and Lady Malfoy to gain control of Harry.
The twisting is so powerful that Sirius wants Harry returned to Petunia Dursley. When we detailed the abuse Harry suffered in her home already, Sirius responded that it was even more vital Harry be returned right away. Because if Dumbledore had left Harry in that situation, it must have been absolutely vital and even more dangerous for Harry to be anywhere else.”
Amelia realizes her hands are shaking so she balls them into fists and takes a deep breath.
Ragnok takes the opportunity to lay out another scroll and say, “The Vestal Priestess, ICW Mind Healer, and my Shaman all agree that Sirius Black is a danger to himself and everyone else so long as this oath remains in place. The only option they can see is to bind Sirius’s magic, remove all his memories, and relocate him somewhere far away in the muggle world with a new identity. If he doesn’t remember Dumbledore, has no access to his magic, and has no access to the magical world, he won’t keep trying to bring Dumbledore’s plans to fruition or keep trying to uncover a vast conspiracy that doesn’t exist.”
“No.” Lord Black says firmly. “I will not simply abandon Sirius in the muggle world. There has to be a way to break this oath.”
Ranok sadly shakes his head, “Not without destroying his magical core and killing him. We are simply out of options.”
Narcissa picks up her shot glass, drowns her brandy in a single swallow, and forcefully returns her glass to the low tabletop. “Lord Black, did you attend Sirius’s coming of age ceremony?”
Arcturus gives her a quizzical look and says, “Yes. He is my heir. Of course I attended.”
“What was his oath to magic?” Narcissa asks.
Lucius and Amelia are both shocked into stillness.
Arcturus rears back as if he had been slapped.
Lord Black’s voice is low and vicious when he responds, “I don’t know what kind of game you are playing, Narcissa Malfoy Black. But I will destroy you and your husband if you don’t give me some sort of explanation for that indecent and unacceptable question. It appears Dumbledore has stolen my heir from me. Are you really so brazen as to steal my wife’s legacy as well?”
“No.” Narcissa replies, “I’m trying to save your heir, Lord Black.”
She takes a calming breath and continues “If Sirius pledged his life and magic to Lady Magic in his coming of age ceremony then her claim would supercede Dumbledore’s. We have the Holly wand. With that powerful an object as focus, I know a ritual to petition both Lord Death and Lady Magic.
They’ll might simply take Sirius. Or, in exchange for one of the deathly hallows, they might be willing to remove Sirius’s compromised core and replace it with his core from his coming of age ceremony.
If Lord Death and Lady Magic favor us, Sirius might lose some power but will be free of Dumbledore’s taint. If not, Sirius will die, which seem to be the more palatable of the two options my cousin is currently facing.”
Lord Black remains silent and stone faced for a moment, and then another.
Lucius is preparing for Lord Black to pull his wand and simply start hexing them all.
Lord Black finally nods and says, “Sirius did pledge his life and magic to Lady Magic at his coming of age. Let me know what you need me to contribute to the ritual, even if it’s my very heart’s blood. I will aid you in saving my heir.”
Narcissa nods and says, “As your heir, did Sirius pledge his allegiance to a particular deity to aid him and guide him in Magic?”
Lord Black swallows hard and replies, “Yes, he pledged his allegiance to Shamash.”
Narcissa looks down at her hands and a slightly hysterical hiccup escapes. “Of course he’d choose a God of justice.”
Narcissa sighs and says, “If this works, Shamash is likely to be called forth. That means the entire Black family magic will be judged.”
Arcturus replies, “So be it.”
Narcissa picks up Lucius’s shot glass and downs his brandy before saying, “I will help you save your heir, Lord Black. If this is successful, you will offer the Malfoy Family the formal allegiance and full support of the Black Family.”
“Now see here,” Lord Black begins
“No, this is not a negotiation.” Narcissa looks Lord Black directly in the eye and continues, “Know that I am doing this even though it will cost my sister, Bellatrix, her life. The dark mark is a betrayal of family magic because it gives the Dark Lord access to the family magic he’s never taken an oath to protect. Since Bellatrix took the mark willingly and is still loyal to Voldemort above all else, Shamash will find her placement in the Black Family Magic as abhorrent. His judgement will violently cast her out, destroying her magical core and killing her.”
Narcissa raises an eyebrow and asks, “With that in mind, do we have an accord, Lord Black?”
Chapter 12: Wool Gathering
Narcissa prepares for the ritual.
Narcissa is gathering her ritual supplies, ensuring everything is in order.
Lucius watches her briefly touch each item checking her list. She hasn’t stopped moving since Lord Black agreed to her proposal.
She gave Lord Black a list of items to bring when he returns.
The ritual will begin just before sunrise. The transition from dark to light making it easier to keep Sirius in this world rather than moving him to the next realm. Plus, this particular dawn falls in an hour ruled by Jupiter: justice and wisdom.
Lucius knows he never would have seen the depth of her grief in the first timeline. The slight tightening around her mouth, the hint of stiffness in her usually graceful stride.
Lucius would put Bellatrix down like a rabid dog with no problems. She is sadistic, crazy, and dangerous. But she is Narcissa’s sister.
Lucius finds himself in awe of his wife. She is so much stronger than he ever gave her credit. She has always been his beautiful and clever bride.
But in the first timeline he’d been frustrated with her during the first and second blood war.
He knew she was holding back. That she could have been a great asset to the Dark Lord. But she presented herself only as a pure blood wife: beautiful, graceful, able to run a household, but more interested in drapes and dresses than politics.
When Lucius would try to convince Voldemort to bring her into their planning the Dark Lord would chuckle and say “Lucius, you’re the meanest bastard I’ve ever had the pleasure to know. I have seen men wet themselves and begin to stutter when you walk into a room. They would be shocked to find out how soft hearted and devoted you are when it comes to your wife. She turns you into a starry-eyed, school boy. I’m sure she is a fine strategist when it comes to balls and teas. She rules the social calendar with an iron fist. But war is man’s realm. No need to upset her delicate constitution.”
He watches her now, preparing to save her cousin at the cost of her sister. She didn’t even hesitate to make the trade. Instead she leveraged it to ensure a better placement for the House of Malfoy.
Lucius realizes that she never once complained. Not about the deal he made with Lady Magic and how it completely uprooted their plans. Not about being expected to raise and mother two additional little boys alongside her own. Not about the danger she now faces, the new friends and allies she’s had to cultivate; the old friends she was forced to abandon and undermine socially.
She faces each new complication and hurdle, several that would kill lesser witches and wizards, with a strength and grace that appears effortless.
Lucius realizes that he never really understood duty. All the lectures from his father about his duty to the House of Malfoy, about his duty as Lord, his duty as a pure blood wizard had been hollow. Lucius and his father before him had both served their own wishes and desires above all else. If asked, Lucius could have given rousing speeches about why being the right hand of Voldemort was part of his duty as a pure blood wizard. But it wasn’t about duty at all. It was really about serving his own ego and amassing personal power.
But Narcissa, Narcissa was raised beneath the crushing weight of duty her entire life. Narcissa is smart, cunning, beautiful, and saturated with family magic and lore that stretches back over two thousand years. If she’d been a man, the world would have happily bowed at her feet. But as a woman, she took up the yoke of family duty and has borne it like a crown rather than a prison.
For forty years after Voldemort’s defeat in the first timeline she never once threw it in his face. Not even after Draco’s murder. She never called him a fool or pointed out how he had destroyed everything he had promised to build. How everything he’d touched had been poisoned and rotted away. Instead she brought her grandsons and daughter in law into their home and comforted them. She improved the boy’s French, taught them about various plants in the garden, spoiled them with toys and brooms.
When Lucius would lose his temper and yell at her that she was spoiling them, making them soft like Draco had been, she would simply say “Yes, dear.” and herd the kids off into the garden to build fairy houses or into the kitchen to bake cookies.
He had been such a fool.
“Why did you marry me?” Lucius asks suddenly startling Narcissa as she double checks the amount of dragonsblood ink she has.
“You asked me.” Narcissa replies distractedly trying to decide if opal or moonstone will better suit the ritual. If it was a request for Lady Magic alone the moonstone would be the best choice. But since they need Lord Death as well, substituting opal might be the best bet. Plus she has that lovely athame with the blade made from an opal dragon’s scale and the pommel topped with a fire opal the size of a dragon’s eye.
“Lots of young men asked you. Why did you choose me?” Lucius presses.
“You were kind to your mother.” Narcissa replies as she opens her chest and pulls out the opal athame to add to her supplies for the ritual. “Your father was a monster who barely tolerated her in public and abused her behind closed doors. Most young men would have reflected their father’s disdain and violence, but you treated your mother like she was precious.”
“My mother had been dead for three years by the time we met.” Lucius says baffled.
Narcissa looks at him, “You honestly believe that.” She laughs. “I thought you told people that ‘love at first sight during the Zambini Ball’ story because it’s so romantic. But you really think that was the first time we met.” Narcissa shakes her head fondly. “I went to Beauxbatons because they have a ritual and family magic program that Hogwarts lacks. But we often attended the same Yule and Summer parties as children. I was three years younger than you so we had different friends. Then, in order to make as big an impact as possible in my coming out ball, I avoided parties and gatherings for two years beforehand. It helped ensure boys that had only seen me as a child might suddenly see me as marriage material.
But as a child, I paid attention to all the young men of the Ton at every party, tea, and ball I attended. I knew I would be expected to marry one of them. So I needed to know who was cruel, who was violent, who was gay, who was weak, who was strong. People don’t change. Know them at ten and you know who they are at their core.”
“You chose me because I loved my mother?” Lucius asks.
“No, everyone loves their mother.” Narcissa scoffs. “I chose you because you treated her kindly. She was trapped in a nightmare, and you were too young to fix it. But you were old enough to show her deference and kindness.” Narcissa pauses. She sees Lucius tilt his head. Ready to accept that as the full answer. Normally she would let it go at that. But she’s a little too raw for the polite fiction to stand.
So she continues, “It also gave you a terrible blind spot when it comes to witches. Deep down you think all of us are as weak and passive as your mother. That we all would simply bend, crumple, and break under abuse. Even seeing the things my sister has done, you still are a little slow to pull your wand or hex a witch. I knew if I didn’t marry you, you’d end up potioned to the gills and cut off at the knees by some other bitch who only wanted your fortune and pretty looks.”
Narcissa shrugs and start going through her altar cloths. She knows has one of snow white linen somewhere in this drawer. “Plus, you cursed James Potter so that he kept feeling like he’d walked into a spider web after he pushed me into Lady Haversham’s fountain at the midsummer garden party when I was seven. The way he’d suddenly start flailing around trying to brush off the spiderwebs was hilarious. And I heard it took him two days to even realize he was cursed.”
“I remember that.” Lucius exclaims, “You were just a little kid and I was afraid you were going to cry. I wanted to curse him with something worse but my dad had told me that if I was on my best behavior he’d buy me a new broom to take to Hogwarts in the fall.”
Lucius is amazed that he remembers the incident. He had no idea that little girl was Narcissa. He remembers how upset she’d been that her silk dress was ruined. He’d tried to fix it with a drying charm but the fabric never really recovered.
“I’d stolen and eaten his cupcake, you know.” Narcissa says as she rummages through her jewelry drawer. She needs an item of gifted silver, preferably from a female family member, that she doesn’t mind destroying. Somewhere is that hideous silver pig brooch her Aunt Irma gave her when she was nine.
“Who’s cupcake?” Lucius asks.
“James Potter’s. It’s why he pushed me into the pond. When he was busy playing tag with Sirius and Frank, I stole the raspberry cup cake off his plate and ate it. I hadn’t exactly reached my current skill or subtlety, so he saw me scarfing it down while trying to hide in the honeysuckle vines that covered the garden wall. Bella had stolen mine. And when I’d complained to my mother she praised Bella for her exploitation of my distraction.”
Narcissa’s hand clutches around the pig brooch. Bella, her oldest sister who had been both her tormentor and protector. Passionate, beautiful, crazy Bella. Narcissa’s heart feels like it’s being crushed inside her chest. No, she will not break. She will not cry. She will breathe and remember she lost her sister a long time ago. She lost her Bella to fanaticism, lunacy, and Voldemort’s darkness.
The last time she paid a guard to bring a mirror to Bellatrix in Azkaban, Bella had spent the entire time switching between raving about Voldemort’s imminent, glorious return; cursing Narcissa for not bribing an official to grant Bella’s release; and screaming nonsense about how little Draco would not replace her as Voldemort’s favorite consort. Then Bella would list all the different ways she would torture and kill Narcissa and Draco once Voldemort saved her from Azkaban.
Narcissa had been relieved when Bellatrix was one of the few people in Azkaban who had actually been legally tried and sentenced. She had been relieved her own sister would remain locked away with Dementors; she does not get to cry about Bella’s fate now. She will not allow grief to make her hesitate or sway from the course. The alliance of the Black family to the Malfoy family is too vital to screw up.
Tomorrow, after Sirius is saved and the alliance has been sworn, then she can lock herself away in a dark room and grieve. She can cry and scream and curse the gods for being so capricious and demanding such a high cost for their favor tomorrow.
That is why women hold the family magic. Women realize all magic requires some sort of sacrifice. Women know that all life starts with blood and pain. Nothing so precious and miraculous comes for free.
Today she will breath and do what must be done. She will make her layers upon layers, circles upon circles, of sacrifices. And if everything sways in their favor, it might be enough to save her cousin. She will not be greedy and plead for her sister too. She will not be weak and beg to be spared this pain. She wants a miracle; she will not quibble over the cost.
Narcissa relaxes her hand from around the pig brooch. She bent it’s little ears and one of its legs by squeezing so hard. But it’s going to be melted down in a few hours. No one will notice. Everything will be fine.
Narcissa goes back to her list and hopes Lucius doesn’t have any more silly questions about why she married him. He was the most acceptable of the offers her father was willing to consider. Save her from fools and their romantic notions. This world is sharp edges, blood, and pain. Only someone as privileged and protected as Lucius or a fool would wear their heart on their sleeve in it.
Now somewhere in her hope chest she has beeswax candles made from a hive’s first pressing and a hank of white wool from a lamb’s first shearing.
Chapter 13: Laying the Groundwork
A brief chat with Sirius before the ritual
“Using the runic circle I’ve constructed and Lord Black’s blood, I can suppress the loyalty oath for as long as it takes for Lord Black’s blood to dry on Sirius’s heart and solar plexus chakras. Once it dries, I’ll have to scrape it off with a razor and apply new blood. So talk quickly and obtain the knowledge and consent for your ritual in three hours. This loyalty oath is powerful and cunning, so it’s necessary to keep Sirius unconscious when the oath is not suppressed.”
Octavia Russo, the Vestal Priestess who had certified Lucius as free of the dark mark, had responded to Lady Malfoy’s desperate request for aid. She’d appreciated Lady Malfoy’s tenacity in Rome as she swept through the ICW, Gringotts, and several ancient mystery cults to ensure her husband’s magic and core were truly cleansed.
Octavia spent the last five hours laying down an intricate runic circle that would suppress Sirius Black’s magic and, with the aid of his grandfather’s blood, would also allow her to suppress the ugly loyalty oath anchored to Sirius’s magical core.
“Excellent, thank you Priestess Russo. I’d like Lord Black, Harry, and myself in the room. I’ll ensure Harry doesn’t accidentally break your runic circle. Lucius, Dudley, Auror Bones, and Signora Gallo will wait in the hallway in case we have need for any of them.” Narcissa replies.
“Again, I really object to this, Lady Malfoy” Signora Gallo states for the fifth time in just under an hour. “Harry and Dudley have been through enough. Allow them to stay with me a few more nights while you settle this family drama.”
Narcissa barely stops herself from sighing. She is exhausted and the night isn’t even close to over. “Signora Gallo, normally I’d have time to draw this out slowly and delicately. But tonight I have neither the time nor the energy to spare. Who exactly is bribing you or blackmailing you to ensure Sirius Black’s death?”
Signora Gallo looks shocked and replies, “Lady Malfoy, I have no idea…”
Narcissa places her hand in the center of the matronly Madame Gallo’s chest and propels her out of the room and all the way across the hall slamming her against the far wall of the hallway. She produces one of her goblin wrought daggers and holds the point beneath Signora Gallo’s chin. “If you think your status as an ICW emergency care giver and your excellent care of Harry and Dudley up to this point will prevent me from spilling your blood across my favorite hall rug, you are mistaken Signora Gallo. Continue trying to sabotage this ritual and I’ll be happy to include you as one of the sacrifices. Now, explain yourself.”
Signora Gallo begins to tremble and her eyes fill with tears as she pleads, “Please, Madam Malfoy. I’m just thinking of the children.”
Narcissa sheaths her dagger and wandlessly casts a binding spell around the crying woman. “Very well. Protect the person behind this plot. Your hearts blood will be far more potent than the spring lamb I was going to sacrifice. Any chance you’re a virgin? It would work best with virgin’s blood. Lucius, if you could take the signora to the ritual circle. Amelia can watch Dudley.”
Lucius snaps his fingers and two house elves appear. One tips Signora Gallo over so she slides down the wall and her head and shoulders are caught by the other elf with a grunt. The first elf hefts her feet and looks to Lucius for lead the way.
“You can’t do this!” Signora Gallo cries out. “It’s against the law. They’ll give you the Kiss for this!”
Narcissa raises a single eyebrow and says “Only if I’m caught, signora. And even if I am kissed for this, Harry’s adoptive father will be restored. Harry will be safe from your and your benefactor’s grasp. Risking my own life to protect magic’s champion is an honor and a duty I will happily bare.”
The house elves begin dragging the squirming witch down the hall.
“No! Wait!” Signora Gallo cries. “It was Lady Weasley!”
Lucius lifts his hand and signals the house elves to return.
Moppet and Tobsit start dragging the witch back towards the group..
“Lady Weasley somehow has proof that years ago I had an affair with a teen who was put in my care after his parents died in a potion lab accident. She will go public and destroy my life if I don’t stop Harry from participating in your ritual. She says if Sirius Black dies she will be able to successfully petition to be appointed as Harry’s guardian. Please, my whole life is devoted to helping orphaned and abused children. I don’t want to die.” Signora Gallo is sobbing by the end. Tears and snot sliding are sideways off her face and onto Moppet’s arm.
Lucius snaps his fingers and both house elves drop the sobbing woman on the floor and pop away.
Narcissa releases the crying woman from her bonds with a wave of her hand. “Pity. Not a virgin after all. You are going to tell Auror Bones everything and then you’re going to turn yourself into the ICW for taking advantage of a teen in your care.”
“It wasn’t like that. I loved him and he loved me.” Signora Gallo pushes herself into a sitting position leaning against the wall. Amelia Bones efficiently runs her hands down the woman’s robes and removes two wands and a portkey from Signora Gallo’s robes.
“You wouldn’t believe how little I care.” Narcissa responds.
Amelia says, “I’ll take Signora Gallo to the tea room to get her statement and then accompany her to the temporary ICW satellite office that has been set up at the Ministry. If I’m done in the next couple of hours, I’ll return for the ritual.”
“Thank you, Amelia” Narcissa says.
She turns around to see Harry and Dudley looking at her with wide eyes. She kneels down and says, “I know that was scary. Seeing me push Signora Gallo and threaten her after she’s been so nice to you. Know this, I will do everything in my power to protect you. Sometimes adults fight, but so long as you are in my care, no one will lay a violent hand on you. You are my boys now. If you’re scared or sad or angry, you can come to me and I’ll do everything in my power to make things better.” She gently cups Dudley’s face in her hands and kisses his forehead. Then she does the same to Harry. Dudley starts crying and throws his arms around her.
Narcissa rubs circles on Dudley’s back. “Hush, hush, mon petite. You’re alright. Everything’s alright...” she whispers comforting nonsense into the crying boy’s hair. Harry awkwardly stands there just watching Dudley cry.
As Dudley’s sobs slow down into a few hiccuping breaths, Harry suddenly pipes up with “I don’t want you to kill anyone. It was gross when the goblins killed Uncle Vernon. Blood splattered everywhere and his head bounced across the parlor floor.”
Lucius lets out an undignified snort, breaking the tension and setting off a chain reaction of snorts, then giggles, then outright laughter among all the adults.
“I will do my very best to not make such a mess if at all possible. But I will do everything necessary to keep you safe, Harry. Even if it’s gross.” Narcissa says gathering Harry into her embrace next to Dudley.
Harry is standing on a chair between Narcissa and Arcturus Black just outside the runic circle.
Dudley and Lucius are in the hallway looking in through the open door. Dudley gets upset when he can’t see Harry because he’s afraid Harry’s been put back in the cupboard under the stairs. This will keep Lucius and Dudley out of Sirius’s sight while still allowing Dudley to see his cousin.
Sirius Black is lying on a table naked to the waist. Priestess Russo has drawn several gold and silver runes on him. Some to bind him to the table, others to suppress his magic, a final incomplete phrase that will suppress his loyalty oath to Dumbledore.
Priestess Russo holds the bowl with Arcturus’s blood in her left hand and whispers “Ignis ex Vesta”. A bright blue flame burst forth lining the runic circle and surrounding the bowl of blood in her palm. She reaches her right hand through the flames surrounding the bowl, dips a finger into the blood and says “Veritas per sanguinem” as she draws the rune for truth over Sirius’s Heart Chakra. She then draws a line of blood through the rune on his forehead and Sirius Black wakes.
“Cousin, your grandfather and Harry are here.” Narcissa says.
Sirius looks over at Narcissa, then around the room and back to Narcissa, Harry, and Lord Black.
“Binding me to a table in a complicated runic circle using a combo of Vestal ritual magic and blood magic isn’t exactly the best way to earn my trust, Cissy.” Sirius replies.
“It was the only way to speak to you while suppressing the loyalty oath you made to Dumbledore.” Narcissa replies.
“Dumbledore’s dead. Any supposed loyalty oaths would have died with him.” Sirius says.
“He used the holly wand, one of the Deathly Hallows, to cast the oath.” Narcissa explains.
“Bullshite.” Sirius replies laughing. “The Deathly Hallows are a fairy tale. You might as well tell me he resurrected Merlin to cast the oath.”
“You can’t swear. Dirty mouths get washed out with soap.” Harry says very seriously.
“You’re right, Harry. I’m sorry.” Sirius looks away from Narcissa and really looks at Harry. It’s like a knife to his gut. “You’ve grown so big since I last saw you. You have your father’s hair, poor lad, and your mother’s beautiful eyes.”
“I’m sorry bad people put you in a bad place. Do you have to sleep with a light on? I have a bear, a dragon, and a snake to protect me when I get scared. Do you have any animals to protect you?” Harry asks.
“I’m so sorry bad people put you in a bad place too, pup. Sometimes I don’t like any light at all. It seems too bright after years in the dark. I have memories of my friends Moony and Prongs to protect me when I get scared. Moony is a wolf and Prongs a giant stag.” Sirius replies trying to ignore the moisture pricking the backs of his eyes.
He remembers how convinced he was just a few hours ago that Harry should be returned to Petunia Dursley. Even after seeing the pensive of Harry’s injuries and the tiny cupboard where he was locked away. He’s just a little kid. How could anyone hurt him? How could he have wanted to send him back to that? What was Dumbledore thinking?
Priestess Russo reapplies the blood rune over Sirius’s heart chakra and the line across the rune on his forehead. To ensure the application stays wet.
“Dudley hugs me when I have nightmares. He used to hit me, but he cries when people make him talk about it. Now he hugs me and says he’s sorry and he’s going to be a good cousin. Did Narcissa used to hit you. Is that why you don’t like her?” Harry asks.
Sirius chuckles “No, Narcissa never hit me. Once she turned me into a gopher and set me loose in old Lady Haversham’s garden. Lady Haversham’s garden elf almost cut me in half with a garden hoe before she transformed me back.”
“Did she say she was sorry?” Harry asks.
“You know, I don’t think she did.” Sirius replies.
Harry looks at Narcissa expectantly. “You have to say you’re sorry. He can’t forgive you if he doesn’t know you’re sorry.”
Narcissa smiles and says “Sirius, I am very sorry. I was mad that you transformed my hair ribbons into gum. But it was wrong of me to turn you into gopher. I apologize.”
Sirius laughs. “My life is so surreal. I accept your apology, Cissy. Harry, you are a very smart young man. Ok grandfather. You have been very quiet. What do you have to add?”
Arcturus Black says “Sirius, I’m so sorry. I should have been there for you. I should have protected you from your mother and Dumbledore. I failed you in every possible way. I don’t know where to start to make up for that.
But I’d like to try. To start, Narcissa is going to use the Holly wand in a ritual in two hours to petition Magic and Death to replace your magical core now with your magical core at your coming of age ceremony so you’ll be free of your loyalty oath to Dumbledore. The ritual is more likely to be a success if you consent ahead of time.
And once the ritual is successful, I will publically and magically acknowledge your adoption of Harry as your son and heir securing him in the line of succession for the title of Lord Black.”
Sirius is quiet. He never expected his grandfather, who he remembers dimly as always being very gruff and very busy, to apologize without any excuses or equivocations. A ritual calling forth both Magic and Death with an artifact as powerful as a Deathly Hallow, if the Hollow’s actually exist, would be extremely risky. Dangerous enough that if things go sideways he, as the focus, will definitely die and everyone else inside the circle could be killed as well. Magic and Death couldn’t be contained or controlled so if they didn’t appreciate being called they could simply wipe everyone in the circle out of existence in a fit of pique.
Priestess Russo startles him out of his reverie by repainting the rune over his heart and crossing through the one over his brow.
“I want to adopt Dudley as well. As a squib he can’t inherit the magical titles of Lord Black, but he can inherit the muggle title of Earl of Bramham. Plus, it will make Dudley and Harry brothers instead of just cousins.” Sirius says. “They need family and the Black family tree is in serious need of new blood.”
Lord Black is startled by the request. “We’ll have to file Dudley’s adoption legally through the muggle courts which might take some time. Plus the Queen will have to approve the succession of the title. But I’m happy to witness and acknowledge his magical adoption as soon as you wish to proceed.”
Lucius brings Dudley into the room and lifts him up onto the chair next to Harry.
“Cousin, may I introduce Dudley Dursley.” Narcissa says.
“Hello Dudley. I’m Sirius.” Sirius smiles at the young man. “Would you like to be Harry’s big brother?”
Dudley shyly nods.
“Excellent. Now you know big brothers have to look out for their little brothers. They have to protect them and teach them. Would you be willing to do that for Harry?” Sirius asks.
“Yes.” Dudley says while nodding more emphatically.
“I’ll add it to the ritual. As soon as your core is restored and clear of influence, your first magical act can be adopting young Dudley here.” Narcissa says.
Sirius smiles as the two little boys. “Good! Now you to run along with Lord Malfoy to get ready for the ritual. I’ll see you in a couple hours.”
Lucius lifts Harry off the chair first and then Dudley. “Come along” he says holding out his hands for each of the boys to take one. The boys giggle and pick their feet up so he can swing them forward one at a time. “Oh my! You’re both very heavy? What have you been eating? Lead weights?” The boys laugh as Lucius makes more and more dramatic grunting and groaning sounds as he swings them out of the room and down the hall.
“I’m starting to think all of this is a very weird dream. Did Lucius, Lord-Stick-Up-His-Bum, just untwist enough to play with a couple of kids?” Sirius asks.
“That’s my husband, Lord-Stick-Up-His-Bum, thank you very much. And Lucius has made some profound changes in the past year. Being cleansed of the Dark Mark and all the dark magic staining his core and aura has restored him to the man I married.” Narcissa replies.
Priestess Russo reapplies the rune over Sirius’s heart and the line across his forehead. “This is the last application. You have until it dries.”
“Grandfather, if this doesn’t work, I want you to adopt Dudley in my stead and name Harry as your heir.” Sirius says.
“It will be done.” Arcturus replies.
“Cissy, I was dedicated Shamash at my coming of age. There is almost no chance he won’t choose to show. With such a big ask, all of our connected magics will be judged. I can’t imagine any way in which Bellatrix will escape that judgement unscathed. Have you consider that?” Sirius asks.
Narcissa swallows and nods. “Yes. I know. But saving you also protects Harry. Bellatrix…” her voice cracks and she looks away for a moment. Then clears her throat and looks back at Sirius with steel in her gaze “Bellatrix has made her choices. And I am making mine. Will you allow me to save you, Sirius?”
“Yes. I consent to the ritual.” Sirius replies.
Priestess Russo takes a wet cloth and wipes the blood from Sirius’s forehead. The rune there puts him back into a deep slumber. “I’ll have him ready for the ritual in one hour, Lady Malfoy.”
“Thank you, Priestess Russo. The ritual circle is prepared. Once he is moved, the house elves will be happy to show you to a bedroom where you can rest and refresh yourself.”
“You don’t want my assistance in the main ritual?” Octavia says in surprise.
“No. This ritual is all about family connections. There won’t be any coven, just us.” Narcissa replies.
Octavia is shocked. Raising the kind of power necessary for the type ritual they are planning without a coven: it’s not just unheard of; it’s madness.
“I think I’ll go ahead and floo back to Italy after Sirius is moved to the ritual room. There is a red-eye international floo in just a couple of hours.” Octavia replies. Better to be far, far away if things go wrong.