Author's Notes: Thanks to Miss Breed, Libertine, Krissy, Kickflaw, and Kissaki, for talking me through this. I think this Narcissa is a direct result of reading Libertine's Gorge. Thanks for reading! And special thanks to Jivanna (again), and Stella, and AHC, Starkiller, Anachia, sm, lunarennui, Jive, and Wednesday, and everyone….thanks so much for your comments. They are endlessly interesting and keep me thinking.

Disclaimer: I still don't own these folks. J.K. Rowling does. I'm not sure she'd want to claim them after I'm through with them, though.


Chapter Ten - The Sins of the Mother

By Ivy Blossom


"Again. Attack again. In London, the next portion of the list. Mudbloods. Make them vanish. Make them run away, dirty little things. You understand?" The dark-haired man nodded. He bowed low, and walked backwards out of the room. No one turned their backs to Narcissa anymore. She smiled.

They listened to her now. They listened to every word she said. They were never sure whether it was her who was speaking, or him. They assumed it was him because it was safer that way. She had had to prove it, at first. With the Voldemort's body still lying as if in state, proof had been required. She had used Lucius, she had pressed his mark and watched all their faces drop in shock and fear as their own marks sharpened, burned. Afterwards they did not question her. And thus far her orders had lead to great success; twenty mudblood deaths in a single week, no casualties on their side at all. Not a fabulously huge statistic, twenty mudbloods, but it wasn't numbers she was aiming for. It was fear. Kill just enough so that the rest fear to walk outside their front doors. Kill just enough so that mudbloods everywhere reconsider their power. So that they feel their disgrace. That they tug themselves back away into the background like the genetic mistakes they are, bastards, half-breeds, evidence of a shameful history. Force purebloods to reconsider their disgusting relationships with muggles, if only out of compassion for their future children, who would have nothing to hope for. Teach them. Sometimes the truth seems cruel. But it doesn't make it any less true, any less righteous.

Narcissa stroked her belly. She felt as though she were pregnant again. She smiled. Being pregnant was such a wonderful thing. It had been more than twenty years since she had been pregnant herself, and the boring details about the physical process had filtered to the back of her mind. She didn't need them now. No, this was a spiritual pregnancy. When her only child had filled her womb she had felt him there, sensed his rising consciousness, his thoughts that were not quite thoughts. She imagined him, small and half-formed, certain that she was the entire universe, feeling warmth and not knowing about coldness, feeling the constant pressure of her body wrapped around him, never thinking that he might one day lose that embrace.

She had known from the very beginning that Draco would be a boy. There was something in the way he took up space within her, something in his certainty that he deserved it, the he belonged inside of her, the way he moved with such unconflicted ease, with such strength, that Narcissa felt even then that she could always fully possess him. Girls, she imagined, would grow within their mothers in a more apologetic fashion, as if they asked questions rather than made demands. Girl babies were passive aggressive. They took over you, making you certain that it was your power that got them there, and not their own. Girl babies were inherently devious. With a boy, you knew they could be owned entirely; they made shows of domination because they could be dominated so easily and so completely; girls could never be wholly owned, because they were well-trained in the art of submssion. Girls were born with the knowledge that no one would offer them anything, that they would have to convince the world that offering was prudent, that it was required. Draco had not understood this, not in utero and not as a small, helpless and sweet child, as Narcissa always knew that he wouldn't. He had had to learn it, as boys often do. His learning was sharp, bloody, and painful, but it was the making of him. Draco was both aggressive and passive aggressive. Narcissa smiled. It takes a strong mother to give her son the inborn knowledge of a daughter.

And now she felt another conciousness within her again. He so reminded her of Draco as a child it nearly made her weep. He whimpered, cried, he laughed like a little fairy child. When she had first brought him inside of herself, he had been so angry. She imagined that she could feel his little fists pounding against her, his ribs were sore when she woke in the morning. He was angry like a murdered soul, residual vengence, pain, violent pangs and outrage overcoming him. He showed her ceaseless images of his anger; blood, murder, pain. He knew nothing other than that for those first days. She had had to struggle against it. He had an infant mentality in the beginning, but he was a strong, knowledgeable, angry infant. It had not overwhelmed her; she had tamed this angry little child.

He was so happy when she gave him her attention, and so disappointed when she was too busy to play with him. And Narcissa stroked him softly, cooed to him, sang little songs to him. She couldn't see him, of course, he having no physical body, but in her mind she pictured her own little princeling, her little angel, Draco, his white-blonde hair, his big, innocent, silver eyes. Her perfect little man whom she had known, even from the beginning, was entirely hers. Tom, love. She said now, whispering to her new little charge. She had reverted to calling him Tom, his given name, because mothers always have special privledges. Oh, we're going to have a fun day tomorrow, my princeling. Our friends are going to make the world prettier for us. And just you wait, when you get big, my love, this whole, pretty world will be yours. He settled down, asked no questions, slept fitfully. Perhaps he was half-mad, reverting to his own childhood; perhaps it was simply the process of being released from the beautiful diamond home he had been trapped within. There was something so sinister about it, that smooth, cold diamond. She wore it now on set in silver on a short chain around her neck. Her little Tom screamed painfully if she didn't wear it, so he kept it pressed always against her throat. Sleep now, little princeling. Have happy dreams.

Lucius was much more lucid that Voldemort, from the very beginning. He had been mad, Narcissa assumed, trapped bodily and bodiless inside a small stone, but he had woken from it simply relieved, released, and sane, with very few memories that made any kind of sense. When she had opened the prison, Lucius had returned from it much in the same way he had entered; he appeared in a puff of black and green smoke, collapsing on the floor, bleeding from the temples and from his wrists. He had very little muscle left in his limbs, his breathing was pained and restricted by a viscous green mucus that he coughed up for days. The house elves had tended him. Narcissa was disappointed, seeing him so weak, so defeated, so hopeless and entirely useless.

She had never been entirely pleased with Lucius, and he knew it. She had expected him to be strong, powerful, to take care of the petty things she was too bored to be bothered with, as well as the large shows of power that she was disinterested in undertaking. At the beginning, he did just as she had hoped, in that regard. He had risen to great power among the Death Eaters, and Narcissa had approved. She enjoyed Malfoy manor, she enjoyed entertaining there, decorating rooms, making appearances, and so on. But still, when the doors were shut, the lights out, Lucius had inner weaknesses that sickened her. He was plagued with conflicts she simply didn't have. He was like a minor dictator in the afternoon, and like a child who needed to be coddled in the evening; his desire to be touched overwhelmed almost all other desires he had, including his desire to be obeyed. In his weakest moments, he most desired to submit, the one thing he did not know how to do with any kind of self-respect. She could have him crawling on his hands and knees with at most four motions of one hand, and leave him waiting there, which she often did. He couldn't decide whether he loved her or hated her.

There had been once that he had taken it into his mind that he should beat his wife for her subtle insolence. It had been fairly early in their marriage, at the point when Lucius realized that his wife was no trophy, no innocent, no sweet and lovely young thing who would keep his house and bear his child and worship him. For, truth be told, that is what Lucius had envisioned. Certainly it had been what Narcissa had promised, with those demure looks and parochial interests. He hadn't been looking for an equal. He hadn't intended to marry a woman who could rival him, and certainly not one who would master him.

He had fallen prey to the whims of his wife, and he knew how she must despise him for this weakness. He had slapped her across the face, thrown her up against the wall, his fingernails pressing through the silk of her blouse and bruising her delicate skin. He sent his knee hard up into her stomach, feeling as well as hearing the snap of her thin ribs. He had punched her face, over and over, breaking her nose, her jaw, blackening her eyes. She said nothing, and did not resist, but watched him with a bleeding lip and cold, swelling and bleeding eyes. Finally he grabbed her arms and threw her to the ground, screaming obsenities at her, and then collapsed in grief, on his knees in front of her. He looked at her there, lying broken on the floor, blood seeping through at the elbow where her blouse (a white one he had bought her himself several months before, one he had brought home to surprise her, to please her, so that she would grace him with that lovely smile) had ripped. He was shocked at his own rage, shocked at the violence he wrought on a defenseless woman, a woman he loved, in spite of her schemes and her coldness. He sat on his heels, knees pressed against the hardwood floor. He buried his face in his hands, tasting the blood of his wife on the heels of his palms. He sobbed like a child, whispering, "I'm sorry. I'm so sorry. Oh, Narcissa, I'm so sorry…"

Wrapped up in his own grief, he didn't notice her gather herself and rise carefully to her feet, pulling her wand from her sleeve, and healing her wounds. Her eyes cleared of the rising purplish colour and dripping blood, her broken jaw, nose, ribs, wrist repaired. They were still sore, but no longer broken. She was never broken, not really. She reached down and picked up her purse from the chair opposite, extracted a compact from it, and fixed her hair. It had been gathered simply in a clip at the nape of her neck, left to sway behind her when she walked, to drape luxuriously over her back. The clip had become dislodged in the tussle, and she now smoothed it back. Perfect. She then pulled a matte, neutral lipstick from her purse, which she applied carefully, pressing her lips together, and smiling prettily into the mirror, snapping the compact shut. She returned it and the lipstick to her purse, and clipped it shut smartly. She rested her hand on Lucius' head. He was still sobbing uncontrollably, whispering, breaking into pieces.

"And now who will suffer, Lucius dear." She removed her hand, and walked elegantly out of the room, swaying her hips disdainfully, walking down the corridor toward her private wing of Malfoy manor. Later that night, Draco Malfoy was conceived.

She sighed, standing alone in the great reception room in Malfoy manor. It was a hub of activity these days, always something to fret over, problems to solve, council to give. Her home had become Death Eater central, administrative heart, the home of the despot. She hated it. This was not the life she wanted for herself, but she saw the necessity of participating in it. This was the world she would relinquish to men, the games of power, the arrogant shows of dominance. Like strutting peacocks, waving their tail feathers at each other. And now, here she was, master peacock, while she would much prefer to sit quietly in the background, plotting sure courses toward success, stroking her calf-hide boots absently and watching the powerful wait on her charming smile.

She walked toward a door on her left, entering a vaulted chamber with the afternoon sun pouring in through elegant plated glass. This anteroom had always been one of her favourites; it had always been quiet and still, musty with age but filled with fresh, clean air. Now, it was a centre of milling activity, always, at every hour and through every day. Things had become complicated. She had the Death Eater intelligentsia at her fingertips, of course, but much knowledge had been lost. She opened the door and saw three tired-lookinig men and five goblins working relentlessly over the slack body of Tom Riddle, Voldemort, the Dark Lord. He hadn't moved independently in four years. Narcissa thought, idly, that lying there, peaceful-looking, cold to the touch with such white, nearly-transparent skin, that he reminded her of Lenin. Vladimir Illych, the man who came to strike down a world of suspicion and false adoration, and ended up becoming an undead, roaming deity. What a fool. But Tom Riddle was not dead, and he was a deity, of a sort. He certainly was worshipped, even now. Narcissa could feel it in the way these men groveled to her, presented her with sacrifices, they way they shuffled and scraped. She imagined that they prayed to her as well; O Great Mother, Narcissa, caretaker of the broken soul of our Lord, we beseech you. She moved closer to one of the men, and placed a gentle hand on his shoulder.

"Issac, love. You've been at this for hours, you need your rest." She brushed her fingers against his cheek. "I promise to wake you if there's the slightest change." The man nodded, grateful and humbled, looking at her the way her own child used to, eyes brimming with devoted, unquestionable love, accompanied always that white noise of fear.

The body of Tom Riddle had not been prepared to accept his consciousness. An elite group of Death Eaters had extracted it in the first place, confident in their ability to move it back and forth, but something in the goblin filth that had contaminated it made its transition back to its home difficult. Though, Narcissa reasoned to herself, to be honest, the consciousness of Tom Riddle is not quite ready to accept his body, either. She touched her hands to her belly again, and imagined stroking her little charge's head, running her fingers through that baby soft, platinum hair. Shhhhh, shhhhh little one. Sleep, my little princeling. How cruel they were to do this to him. To not give him the dignity of dying, but to let him turn into this child-being, bodiless, screaming at frivolous things, demanding blood, murder, sacrifice, mayhem, and then weeping for comfort. A weaker woman might have been driven mad by it.

She looked down on the body of Tom Riddle and felt a pang of tenderness for him. Oh, my little sweeting, she thought as she stroked his cold forehead with her thumb, you'll be home soon, love. And it is so good now that you will always have me to submit to, to turn to. You will never have been stronger.

One of the goblin monsters looked up at her. "We're coming along as best we can, your Honour. Perhaps…perhaps we're on to something. In another few hours will try another compliation spell, this one seems to have solved some of the other problems we were encountering…" it's voice trailed off as it noticed that she wasn't paying any attention to it. She had taken one of Tom's lifeless hands in hers, and pressed it against her cheek, looking worriedly into his face. The goblin sighed and left her. She had been in fact paying close attention to the little creature, but had cultivated a look of serene miscomprehension which had long given her the illusion of innocence. She noted that it carried a book on elementary magic in one hand, one Narcissa remembered reading when she was eleven. She hid her smirk.

"Your best," she whispered. "Yes, indeed." One of the problems they had encountered was that while it had been proper magic that had turned Tom into pure consciousness, and goblin magic that had ensnared him, it was unclear from which side the answer lay to putting him right. Goblin master wizards had had no luck, nor had the Death Eaters experts. There had been many bitter arguments, but thus far no results. She sighed. She knew who could solve this problem, who was, perhaps, the only one who could begin to approach the multitude of complicated issues that had arisen. Someone trained in both the proper and the ugly magics. But he was too far beyond her reach. For the moment.

He had come home just once, since his father left. Just once. It had been a rainy day, and she had seen him approach from a distance, his thick grey cloak covering his head and face. He had decided not to apparate directly in front of the manor itself, in spite of the rain, the fog and the mud. He had chosen to walk up the long path from the road on foot. Narcissa had understood the ritual nature of that decision. She had, of course, heard the news. Draco Malfoy, traitor to all. He had fulfilled his duty to Voldemort, but had not returned with the Death Eaters, he had not stood accused with them. No one was sure where he was, and in spite of the accusations that flew out of the ministry like owls in the cool dawn, he had not been arrested, he had not been sent to Azkaban, he had not felt the dementor's kiss. At first, Narcissa assumed, with some degree of pride, that both her husband and her son had followed Voldemort in to his captivity, that neither of them were prepared to submit to the ministry, that they were hostages to the cause. Within a week of Voldemort's capture, a large, serious-looking owl had alighted on the windowsill of her sitting room. She untied the parchment from its leg, and it gave her a ponderous look before spreading its exceptionally large wings and beating a lazy retreat into the gray morning sky.


You son is terribly ill, and we are not at present certain whether or not he will survive. Do you have any knowledge of the potions he has ingested over the last months? We have managed to counter most of them, but a complete list would be most helpful. He is unconscious most of the time, but when he wakes he asks for you. Great evil has been done to him, but there is an even greater resistance in his heart, which I believe will give him the strength to survive this ordeal. I would like to make arrangements for you to visit with him, if you would. I hope that you can come quickly, for while I am hopeful, our potions master asks me to write in haste.

Albus Dumbledore

The letter had dashed all of her hopes for her son. So. He had not stood by his father, by Voldemort. He had failed, and he had betrayed them. He had gained Dumbledore's sympathy, and he was being protected by that great fool in his fortress at Hogwarts. She had written a short note back (Albus, I'm not certain of which potions you speak. Perhaps he took a bad medicine while he was in the Wolds last year? I have heard no word my husband, perhaps Draco told him what he might have taken. I will certainly come at the soonest moment, but I have taken rather ill myself. Please give him this trinket to remind him of my love. N.) and enclosed a small ring, with the word 'fideles' engraved on it, strung on a silver chain. It was the gift she had given him the night he had become a Death Eater.

She had worried about him, well before he graduated from Hogwarts. He was not a strong boy. He believed himself to be strong, and his father never questioned it. Certainly Draco was tough, physically powerful even, lithe and fast and wiry, but he was not strong. His weakness was clear to Narcissa in the way he looked at her, the way he spoke to his father, the way he so easily became frustrated with the successes of other students. She had seen it during those final school holidays; his weakness was growing, and was shaping itself into doubt. When he was small she had had great hopes for him; he had learned how to use coy looks and soft words to get what he wanted from his father, from his friends, from strangers, even from his mother. He could wheedle his way to gifts and beautiful clothes and pretty things, to political favours, positions of esteem. Narcissa knew he had persuaded several girls into begging him to allow them to wrapping their young thighs around his hips, and she was proud of the skill with which he had done so; no one every talked about Draco taking advantage, being disrespectful, using these girls. Rape was the tool of weaklings. He had had his way without anyone knowing, or even considering, that he had been in control, that he had made a demand and that demand had been met. Those girls would always think of him tenderly, as an innocent, as a gift. Indeed, he had learned some of his mother's skills.

But as he grew older, particularly in those last couple of years at Hogwarts, something had changed. He was easily distracted, his eyes had taken on an anxious, fretting appearance, he cared less about the fit of his clothes, the part of his hair, the fine joys of small triumphs, passive but intense victories, the mental challenge of perfect self control. It worried her. She had taught him, and he had learned, but he was too much like his father. Something had latched on to him in those last months, and it was clear to her that even he didn't know it. Narcissa should have seen it; he would explode in violence, rage, deminance, and pride, but he would crawl back, repentant, weakened, and needing to be comforted like a child. And who would comfort him? Who would seize control of him? At the time, it was only a small, nagging voice in the very depths of her mind. At the Christmas holidays, the voice grew louder, and Narcissa could no longer ignore it. She could no longer imagine that Draco was the daughter she would have had. No. He was a young man, and he bore all the weaknesses of powerful and haughty young men. How profoundly disappointing.

It had been then that she had begun hinting that Lucius ought to take Draco from Hogwarts in the spring, before he could graduate. When he breaks, which he inevitably will, he needs to be carefully controlled, or he will be useless, she had thought. The graduation itself was meaningless, and Narcissa was not concerned about whether or not Draco officially graduated or not. He was powerful and knowledgeable; he reminded Narcissa of a young Severus Snape, brilliant with potions, a genius in his own way. Unlike Snape, however, Draco had the manners of a prince, and the face of an angel. The Death Eaters, who were almost constantly traipsing through Malfoy manor in the last twenty-five years, had commented on Draco's ethereal beauty from the moment he was born. She knew his pretty face had bought him no easy road, however; she was well aware of several Death Eaters with a penchant for pretty little boys who had taken what they would from him, before he even knew what he had. It was no matter. Innocence was a commodity that he did not require, being perfectly able to mimic it at will. He had too many other talents, there was no need for concern over such a small thing as sexual purity. Draco had fine, steady, careful hands, a sharp eye, and the fine movements and measurements required for potion-making and other, more complicated and lesser known arts. But more than that; he had a remarkable skill for abstraction. Narcissa had watched him at age eleven or twelve consider leaps of logic that had baffled and impressed their dinner guests. He was a bright boy. But it had not saved him.

Getting him the Mark had been a struggle. He had taken to being stubborn, to resisting her will, the demands of his father. Young men will do this, they don't know their own strength, their own power, and so they make a show of independence and dominance. Three times she had insisted that Lucius bring him home, and three times Draco had evaded capture. He had insisted on graduating, even after his friends had left. Without appealing directly to Dumbledore, her options had been limited. She had decided to let it pass, and punished Lucius for his failings in controlling his son instead. This had been the wrong choice, and she winced about it, watching Draco's slow movements on the muddy track, trekking up through the pounding rain toward the manor. That decision had allowed her to lose her boy. Perhaps by then she had already lost him.

Like his father, Draco had a weakness. Narcissa knew that if someone managed to find it when he had left it exposed, to clutch on to it, to stroke it gently like a precious gift, cradle Draco's body and mind and stroke his fine hair, he would be lost to her. She had always, in some way, known that this was so, but she had forgotten. In her delight in her son, she had forgotten that he was his father's child. It had been she, in the beginning, who had fulfilled this need in him, had provided the balm to hide his weakness, even without knowing it. And then, after he had left for school, it had been his own delight in his superiority that had comforted and soothed him, made him feel powerful. She let her work drop at that point, thinking that he was complete, that he was strong and certain. She scolded herself now for her laxity and foolishness.

It was in those last years, when he became disillusioned with his own power and saw its limits, that he sought to find comfort submitting to another. When Narcissa had heard what Voldemort had said after Draco received his Mark, she understood what had happened. Draco had fallen in love with the Potter boy. It had been him, of all people, that flimsy, myopic, disaster of a child Lily Potter had fawned over to proudly, who had managed to reach inside Draco's careful, coy armour and twist his fingers through Draco's soul. She closed her eyes.

Voldemort had made his own decisions about what to do with Draco, and Narcissa had not found it wise. Don't you see? She wanted to scream. He's been corrupted. He's been touched by that boy, and he will always long for that touch again, he can't be trusted. Too late. As the months wore on and the plan unfolded, potions masters and transfigurers and experts of all kinds proposing ideas and considering alternatives, she realized that Voldemort did understand how Draco had been touched, that that touch was permanent. It was precisely that fact that he was counting on. He had no intention of trusting Draco. And so, he had not been wrong. It was a brilliant plan. Draco would follow Voldemort, or he would be sacrificed. No. He would be sacrificed anyway.

She had watched him walk up the steps, pulling his hood away from his face. How he had grown. He was a man now, she realized. His hair was damp and unkempt, his face stern and sad. He was thin, too thin, and he wore a great weariness in his limbs and on his face. He had not been expected to live. Yet he lived. She sat regally in her anteroom, ankles crossed. She adjusted the pearls at the neck, smoothed her navy skirt. She was facing him when he walked in, drops of rain beading on his neck.

"Oh, Draco love. How I've missed you. Look at you, a proper man! Come here and let me have a better look at you." He smiled sadly and walked over to his mother, taking her outstretched hand and kissing her cheek. His wet hair brushed her face. He smelled musky, spicy, scrubbed clean and tired. He sat on the ottoman in front of her.

"How are you, mother?" His voice had deepened since she had last heard it. She realized in a moment that this was not true; this was the same voice of the defiant eighteen-year-old who had threatened rebellion with every word. It was the same voice of the delusional boy she had tended so gently, locked away in a distant tower of the manor. But in her mind, Draco was always a small child, perhaps six or seven, with the tiny voice of her pliable, brilliant little boy. She still saw that little boy in there, in the slight curl of his lip, in those silver irises.

"Oh, I get along, my dear. I'm better now, with you here." She leaned forward and kissed his forehead, ruffled his hair, and then took his hands in hers. "You look so different, princeling. All grown up. Your hair is so long! And what beautiful robes." She reached up and stroked the flecked, off-white woolen robes that gathered at his shoulders, attached with a silver chain across his chest. "I never put you in this colour. I'm not sure why not." She reached up and stroked his cheek. "You look good, love. You've recovered?"

He nodded. "For the most part, yes."

Narcissa shook her head. "It's best to stay out the Wolds, love. No foreign magics." She kissed him again. He had pinkish marks on his forehead from her lipstick. "Have you seen your father? Is he alright? Have you spoken to him?"

He winced. "No, mother. I can't go to him anymore."


"Yes. He is. But…out of reach for now. He will not be harmed, mother, but he won't be coming back." He ran his fingers through his damp hair and looked at a place on the floor.

"Well, we'll see. Your father has gotten himself into a scrape and no mistake, but I'm sure he will find a way. Is he…abroad, then?"

Draco shook his head. He wasn't sure how to answer her questions, and she sensed this.

"I still wait for him. I watch for him by the window here," she motioned toward the large, low window seat in front of the plated glass window, "especially on rainy, foggy days like this. They remind me of him. He likes the rain, he likes the sound it makes. Sometimes we would go up into the attic, you know, on rainy days, we'd sip brandy and lie on the couches and just listen to the rain." She had taken his hand, and traced patterns on his palm.

He had not stayed long. He had told her that he had a job at the ministry, and she had been disappointed not to be able to hear more about this. She had guessed that he would be an Unspeakable, which made her curious. Unspeakables needed to be trustworthy; no one would ever fully trust this Malfoy. No, too much had been revealed. He told her that he had a flat in London, and she questioned him about his finances. She had delicately asked if he had met any nice girls, and he had just smiled weakly and shook his head no.

"I wish you would visit more often," she had complained as he pulled on his boots. "They wouldn't let me care for you when you were sick. You know I could have had the best doctors here for you, but they wouldn't hear of it. But you know. They treat me so well, your fathers friends, they keep a good eye on me. Sometimes they come for dinner and humour me. They could get you a better job in the ministry, love, come see me and I’ll invite them over and we'll talk about it. I don't throw parties anymore. Not without your father. But I'll invite some of them over, it will be nice." She wrung her hands together, looking worried. Then she smiled, and whispered, "you'll let me know, when you hear from him? I'm certain he'll come to you first. I'm certain of it. You know how much he loves you, don't you?" He had nodded dumbly, pulling his on his damp cloak.

She lay Tom Riddle's hand back down, adjusting the blanket over him, feeling the eyes of the goblin monsters and the Death Eaters on her. She walked over to her desk in front of the window, glancing over her papers. She had tried to work out some of the questions herself, of course. The small sphere she had left in Draco office had told her some very important things. Some months back, a well-placed spy had discovered that Draco's work was somehow related to Voldemort and his captivity. Narcissa had planned to visit Draco’s office when he was away, to sneak in and drop the useful little object. It had only given her seven days, seven short days to snoop about in Draco's papers, to listen in on his conversations. She had seen and heard much, but only small portions that were directly useful. She would not have guessed, after his initial work for the ministry rooting out Death Eaters, that he would be found, now, working within the ministry to free Voldemort. The knowledge made her feel hopeful.

The first thing she had learned from the sphere was that her son spoke fluent goblin. She hadn't recognized it at first; it had been, of all things, a house elf who had identified the language.

She had paced around her sitting room, listing to the recording of Draco's voice over and over and over. He was soft spoken, the words almost sounded familiar. Russian, Mongolian, Inuktitut? Zambian, Maori? Cree? Sechelt? It had alluded her. When her personal House Elf, Daisy, had simpered into the room with her afternoon tea, hers ears perked up.

"Is that Master Draco, ma'am? I didn't know he could speak goblin." Narcissa had smiled.

"Why, yes Daisy. Isn't it impressive? Do you understand what he’s saying?"

Daisy shook her head. "Only a word here and there, if you please, ma’am. I heard him say 'good' and 'inside', is all. The rest, well, I couldn’t rightly say, ma’am." Daisy set the tray with Narcissa’s teapot and cup on the table. "Good afternoon, ma’am!" She scurried back out of the room.

It had been enough. Within the week she had been in North Africa. There, a particularly nasty-looking goblin had helped her. What she retrieved from the sphere, before it crumbled into dust, was this: Voldemort and Lucius were inside some form of charm, which had keys. There was more, trust, secrets, a great deal about a whole collection of matrixes, their relative stabilities, combinations of wizard and goblin spells and how they interact, and so on. And one lucky diagram, that she had almost overlooked. Her nasty little goblin helper, who was called Spode, had gasped, looking at her wide-eyed.

He had told her that what she asked was impossible. Without the co-operation of someone with a key, it was simply impossible to lift and break a charm like this. The key could not be replicated. If there was one thing goblins knew well, it was locks and security, and this was one of the surest. He threw up his hands and shook his head. "In your recording, the man says, ‘Doombladoor, Herry, and myself’, Those must be the holders of the key. You must talk to them, I cannot help you." She almost gave up then, almost.

She had, as a last resort, sought out a medieval text she had discovered on the properties of this form of goblin charm. Oddly, the text was held in a muggle archive, and was written in Latin. She had sat in the airy Morroccan reading room for days, hearing the calls to prayer outside. Her Latin was rusty, and every inch of text she covered was a tremendous victory. After the third day, the man who had been sitting across from her, a husky American man, had leaned across the table and whispered, "Salve, puella bellus." She had noticed him watching her a couple of days ago, and felt certain he would make his move at some point. She was surprised it had taken so long. Now he spoke to her in Latin, and she was prepared to play his game for some assistance. She looked up, smiling broadly. He was in his late forties, with thick dark hair and sharp blue eyes. He smiled back.

His name, it turned out, was Simon. Simon Osborne. She had enlisted his help, which had been remarkably pleasant. She claimed to be a novelist doing research. He was an American photo-journalist. She had good-naturedly agreed to pose for a series of pictures for him in exchange for his help with her text, but had managed to avoid the photo shoot until they had skimmed over about half of her book. It was then that the book described the nature of the keys on this strange goblin charm.

"Cruento. Well, this is gruesome. It’s got something to do with blood. Now that will be a lovely addition to your novel, I suspect. Listen: you, who touch the charm, hold a key in your best humour. The sanguine humour, boiled and purified, holds the key you cannot lose." Isn’t that odd, though!" He sat back, reasoning aloud. "A key you can’t lose. So: a charm, that can be locked, with a key that is…your own blood? Interesting idea." Narcissa looked up sharply.

"Your own blood. So…only someone who touches the charm…touching the charm makes it recognize you by your blood." She smiled, and rose. "I’ll be right back, one moment." She had left then, apparating home. She walked up the stairs, and down the long corridor to her sitting room. The knife was dusty, but still gleamed as she took it down. She smiled.

When she had returned to that nasty little Spode, he had thought her simply persistent. But when she dropped the knife on his desk, he looked at her entirely differently, and nodded slowly. "If there enough blood in this knife, yes. Yes, it can be done. It is dangerous, mind you." He had raised an eyebrow.

She had paid an extravagant amount for the scroll. She was certain that Spode was making a tidy profit from this little transaction, but she didn’t care. The scroll had been specially prepared, under Spode’s watchful eye. A scroll designed to transfer her innocent little Draco’s blood, so carefully and meticulously stored, into her veins. It was perfect.

Simon had caught up with her as she returned to her rented flat to pick up her things. "Jane!" he called, running toward her, using the name she had handed out without thought. For a moment, she almost forgot to respond to it. Inwardly she swore. "Jane, wait, now, can we do a quick photo shoot? I know you’re about to head out of here, I can see it written on your face. A promise is a promise now," he teased.

She considered killing him on the spot, but thought better of it. She smiled. "Oh, I wouldn’t forget, I just had to pick up my prop." She tossed the knife around listlessly. "Let’s go to my flat."

While the pictures didn’t move, Narcissa had been pleased with the results. It had been a fairly even exchange; his help for four consecutive afternoons for an hour-long photo shoot. Once she was home again in England, she had managed to get a copy of the magazine in which the pictures appeared, and kept it, with some of her other trinkets and baubles that she kept for reasons she couldn’t entirely explain, in a shoebox underneath her bed. It was only a matter of time, now.

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