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Black Masks & Gasoline

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Narcissa could hear them in the dark, in the garden burying her sister, as inside the house she packed her things to go. She was lucky. Most of the dead still lay where they fell. Animals might defile the bodies; if they did not the victors would. They hadn't been able to bring them all, but Bellatrix at least would be at peace, in the quiet and unhallowed ground of Malfoy Manor.

“Do you want--,” Lucius had asked, and gestured to the body.

“Let her robes and mask be her shroud,” Narcissa had said, looking at Bellatrix's slack face and tangled hair. Bella had been the most beautiful of three sisters known for their beauty, and men had written sonnets about her midnight eyes and the mysteries of her smile.

Narcissa had left her husband and son to do the digging and gone into the house, and begun putting things in her bag. What did you take, when you left, she wondered. Which robes were fashionable for deserting one's husband? Black, because almost everyone they knew was dead. There would be funerals for weeks.

Despite herself she thought of Bella, still at last; the niece she'd never known who'd died at Hogwarts, Sirius, whose grave she'd never seen, Regulus, whose body had never been found. So many dead, and all of them for nothing, because the war had been lost. For nothing, because the Muggles were going to ruin everything and call it progress.

The brushes with the silver handles had been a gift from Lucius's mother; she left them on her dressing table. There was a framed photograph of Draco, which she wrapped in a scarf and tucked into her bag, and one of Lucius that she left. She ran her fingers across the spines of the books on the little shelf under the window, but in the end she left them. They could be sent on later.

In the bath she tucked shampoo and conditioning potions and makeup into a case, and left her birth control on the edge of the sink, because she might be leaving Lucius but she could not imagine going to bed with anyone else. Eighteen years of marriage, and two years of sin before that, and she had been not quite eighteen that first time. Even then she had known what she wanted, and what it might mean.

She had been a Death Eater's daughter, even then, a Death Eater's sister. She cannot say she wasn't warned.

Suddenly she was on her knees on the tile, sobbing so hard she could barely breathe. She had warned them-- she had warned them all, and they hadn't listened. No one had ever listened. Not her father, not her sister, not her husband. Not her son.

“I thought you were gone,” Lucius said from the doorway, “Narcissa?”

She looked up then. Her head hurt and her eyes burned and her nose was running. She was too old to be so foolish. He had something on his cheek that might be dirt, and might be a bruise, and when he knelt beside her and touched her face his hands were filthy. He smelled of blood and smoke and the mud of her sister's grave.

“No,” she said, and put her hand on his. “I'm not going anywhere.” It was true, unfortunately; she never could bring herself to go. Her husband was a racist and an idiot who had involved their teenage son in a civil war, and he had appalling taste and wore more jewelry than she did and had quarreled with her entire family. She had meant to leave him a dozen times and never managed it, and just because their world is burning does not mean she ever will. “You know I love you too much to leave.”

“Yes,” Lucius said, resting his chin on top of her head, “but that doesn't mean I ever get tired of hearing you say it.”