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The Crafts

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Malfoy manor was not a sprawling estate, but it was properly spacious. Draco had never thought to think of it that way, but these days he was quietly grateful that both his mother and father had their own wings, where the other would not venture. It simply was not done and thus would never be an issue. This simple household rule was coming in handy now, as he opened the door to the room that had once been his nursery. It had been reclaimed as a study once he had moved to his own apartments, of course, but these days… The far wall was stacked with crates and rigid translucent, muggle-made, plastic tubs. Strips of parchments with his mother’s beautiful calligraphy labelled everything. Fabric, yarn, clay, beads for embroidery, beads in strings, paints, brushes, inks…

***

It had started, of course, because of Potter. There had been a perfectly formal invitation sent as the Malfoy started to get back on their feet, socially speaking. And enough people of import had shown that it was fine, really. It felt good, in truth, to have light and laughter back into the house, washing away the stains of dark and dread. Potter had been in London for some Ministry business, or just because he wanted to maybe it was unclear, and had barely been reluctant to come at all. But he had cleaned up nicely in proper robes and had brought Narcissa a hostess gift. Cut flowers, a simple bouquet of white lilies, bright red dried Chinese lanterns, a single blue orchid and some greenery. She had accepted it with the well trained etiquette lessons of a lifetime, but she was clearly puzzled. The thing was wrapped in waxy paper. It had been bought, not conjured. Muggle. Not an ounce of magic to it.

Draco had ranted about it to Astoria, later, trying to articulate how confused and angry it had made him. It had to have been a slight, some underhand insult. The flowers stayed vibrant for a day or two in a vase of water the house elfs had brought. Then they started to fade and wilt and decay. Astoria sighed, setting Scorpius down in his crib.

“They are meant to.”

Draco stopped in his pacing, turning to face his wife, confused still.
“What? Why?”

“Muggles live much shorter lives than us. You give flowers to someone and it brings joy and light and color to their house. They will fade soon, so it is a reminder to enjoy the present moment with the person who gave them to you. Or you bring flowers to someone at a funeral or after a sad time, and the flowers will perk them up and fade, like sorrow will fade in time. In happy times you can re-invite that person, or accept an invitation and bring them flowers, because you are rekindling that link.” She paused, thinking.

“It is also a way to give the hostess something she doesn’t have to keep track of. She won’t have to make sure to re-use that piece of silverware at a later date, or serve you that wine or liquor, or eat the chocolate. It’s a gift that is not an imposition.” She shrugged. “Maybe that’s more what the Auror had in mind. I know the muggle also affix meanings to flowers, a whole language of colors and petal. And the Japanese have an art form for making the bouquets”.

Draco gaped at her, confused and smiling, warmth radiating from within him.

“I knew Granger wasn’t the only genius is school”. He reached for his wife and didn’t speak of it further.

***

Narcissa, of course, never admitted how she had figured the same thing out, but she had developed a curiosity for cut flowers following that day. Well, curiosity was perhaps not the word. She had had several books on Ikebana brought to her study. She had remained stubborn for a few months, making arrangements out of conjured spun glass, beautiful scintillating artifact. But she grew irritated with their perfect immovability, so she had slowly started making them out of real flowers. Flowers from her garden, magical and sparkling. And then, nearly a year later, had asked Draco, in great secret, to get her flowers from the city and to bring them to her and not tell his father.

That first shopping trip had been a nightmare. Muggles were loud and rude and their clothes were strange and constricting. He could not ask Astoria to come with him, his pride would never recover, but he did ask Granger. She did not laugh, for which he was grateful, but there was a very suspicious upturn to her lips as she walked with him into the florist. And as she took over the payment for the armful of cut flowers, as Draco stared helplessly at the slips of papers and coins that made no sense to him. She insisted that they stop by a bookstore on their way back and got a few books on different crafts and gave them to him.

“I think she’ll like these.”

“What makes you say that?”

Hermione gave him a sidelong glance. “She has been defined by taking care of you, supporting your father, supporting her own image in society. I don’t think she has any of those really left these days. She’s looking for a hobby, something that is hers and that she feels accomplished in. And flowers will only hold her attention so long.”

She had been right of course. Narcissa had loved the books and wanted more. More material, more things to try. And so now, every week Draco would visit and go have tea with his parents, bringing Scorpius most of the time, but not Astoria (there was something to be said about choosing one’s battles). And he would leave with a shopping list slipped into his pocket by a house elf.

***

“Good morning Mother.”

“Draco!” She smiled, something she was doing more these days, as she rose to greet him.

“I brought you a few things.”

“Oh, thank you, you shouldn’t have!” she raised an eyebrow as she said it, daring him to bring forth the implicit request of the list.

“I wanted to. Please accept it." It was true. He liked the way these crafts and projects made his mother happy, softer somehow.

“Will you stay for dinner? Your father is out but I can send him an owl to tell him you’ll be joining us?” The same question, every time.

“No. But thank you for the invitation. I will come for tea on Saturday, if that is acceptable?” same answer. Comfort in ritual. They spoke for an hour or two, gentle idle chat about his work and her project and the perfect color of the new pigments he had brought.

“I made this for my grand-son” she said, giving him a rectangular blanket, that could be closed like a cape or a robe with a mother of pearl button on one side. “I’ve added a charm to it, so it will change colors with his moods.” She smiled, softly.

“It is beautiful mother.”

“As it should be. Handmade, wizard-made, is what that child should have as a security blanket"

Draco bowed in acceptance, then once more, to gently kiss his mother on the cheek.

“I will see you Saturday.”

He took his leave, smiling more broadly when it was safe to do so. He would never admit it to another, but it felt good, to feel this warmth from his mother. Like the sun, gently breaking winter’s hold after too long a time under the grip of winter.