She heard him out before silently gesturing for him to step through. After he was done brushing soot off of his clothes, she led him into her study, though throne room might have been more accurate. Exquisitely and severely decorated in white, silver, and black, it was designed to subtly intimidate and awe all at once.
The woman who calmly took a seat behind the sleekly glossy white desk was the ice queen, the true power behind the figurehead of Lucius Malfoy, Draco mused, as he waited for her to sit before daring to take a seat himself. He felt the privacy and locking wards go up, and raised his brows slightly. Those were the blood wards, targeted to someone of Black descent, not Malfoy, which meant Lucius could not enter if she did not allow it. This was a conversation not meant for his sire’s ears then. Draco’s interest was piqued, but he remained calm and quiet.
“My son.” Narcissa said quietly. “Before Lucius returns, it is time that you and I had a very frank discussion about your heritage and lineage, as well as your future.”
Draco wondered abstractly why she said ‘Lucius’ and not ‘your father’, but waited patiently for her to continue.
She paused, tapping a glob on her desk with her wand. A large square in the center appeared and shimmered away, revealing a silver, ornate Pensieve. “This is the Black family pensieve.” She said quietly. “Passed down from mother to daughter for generations.” She met his gaze, her own dark brown eyes resolute, though they glimmered with something undefinable. “I have placed three memories in here, that you need to see. Before you do, however, I need you to remove your bracelet.”
He frowned, surprised and instinctively finding the silver cuff on his right wrist with his left hand, covering it protectively. “My bracelet? But you told me that I was never to remove it! I’ve worn it since I was a child.”
“Yes, for your protection and safety. Such precautions were necessary, especially after the first defeat of the Dark Lord. But change is in the wind, my son. You will have some extremely difficult decisions to make, and I would rather you did it with a clear head and resolute heart.” She hesitated. “The bracelet has a loyalty rune inscribed on it, spelled to Lucius.”
His eyes widened in surprise, and he pulled up his sleeve to inspect the cuff more closely. Sure enough, there they were, mixed in with the Celtic design so seamlessly that one would never notice if they were not specifically looking. “I don’t understand.” He said, his heart racing. Loyalty runes were a dangerous thing, almost on the level of a love potion. It was a form of mind control, influencing the victim’s thoughts, decisions, and emotions without them being aware of it. “Why would you need to do such a thing to me? I am my father’s son–” he stopped, trembling.
“Take the bracelet off, Draco, and watch the memories.” Narcissa entreated softly. “I will answer all of your questions after, as I may.”
He didn’t move for a long moment.
It was the please that decided him. Slowly, slowly, he pressed both sides of the hidden clasp on the underside of his wrist, feeling a sharp prick as he did so.
“Ouch!” he cried indignantly, tossing the bracelet onto the desktop. “Mother–”
“A blood clasp, so that only you or someone of your blood could remove it.”
He wanted to protest the indignity and injustice of it all – why had she gone to such lengths to ensure his loyalty to his flesh and blood? – but he was distracted by the whirlwind of feelings that assaulted him as soon as the bracelet left his skin. It felt as if a hoard of cobwebs were suddenly cleared from his mind. He could feel his magic spreading, responding, stretching…
“What is this?” He said, and nearly jumped in surprise at the sound of his voice. Instead of the cultured, crisp tones he had cultivated and practiced to achieve (like Lucius), his voice had deepened slightly to a medium baritone. The accents and inflections were different too, although he couldn’t’t quite put his finger on the nagging vague familiarity.
“The memories, Draco.” Narcissa prompted.
“Fine. Let’s get this over with.” He grumbled, touching the silvery surface swirling inside the Pensieve with a finger, as she did the same. They landed in a scene,
“This is one of many conversations that Lily and I had, leading up to your conception.” She said. “Keep an open mind, my son, and watch and listen.”
“Lilian Potter! Are you mad? I can’t just – use – your husband, like he’s some kind of stud horse!” Memory Narcissa hissed, glancing around the fancy restaurant in shock and horror.
Draco did a double take at the familiar surname, as the redhead threw her head back and laughed, the sound full and joyful. “Relax. I double layered the Muggle repelling and shielding charms. No one will overhear – or even notice us here.”
That was true, Draco thought, observing his surroundings with interest. The two women were seated outside at a little bistro cafe, on what seemed to be a Muggle university campus. People wandered by, chatting and laughing and completely oblivious to the beautiful redhead and blonde calmly sipping their drinks, which made no sense. Though, they did seem to fit in rather well, dressed as they were in stylish Muggle clothing. Well, stylish for the times, he thought with a glimmer of amusement. His mother looked young and vibrant, her face free of the faint shadows and worry lines, her hair up in a high ponytail that accented her sharp cheekbones, her skin nearly translucent in the sunlight, which contrasted with the deep red lipstick that was still her trademark.
Where Narcissa was like a marble statue come to life, almost too perfect and sharp to be real, unapproachable in both demeanor and appearance, Lily Potter was like fire, vibrant and glowing. Her long, deep red hair cascaded past her shoulders, and her green eyes, so much like her son’s, sparkled with humor and life. Together, the women made a stunning pair. They should have had blokes lining up, ten deep to talk to them, but no one approached, or even glanced twice.
Lily tipped her head back to the sun, eyes closed in bliss as the warmth hit her face. “And why can’t you use James? It was his idea, Selina!”
“Because!” The blonde sputtered. “Really, Lillian – it’s just not done. I will find another solution. Don’t concern yourself over it. I never should have told you in the first place!”
Lily opened her eyes to glare at her friend, green eyes flashing.
“Don’t be a bitch, Narcissa. And you know as well as I do that there is no other solution. Lucius is a Death Eater – Kingsley confirmed it at the last Order meeting. He took the Mark before you were married. To do so is to pledge allegiance to death and despair and hatred. There is no more room for anything symbolizing light and love and hope, which the creation of a child signifies by act, thought, and deed. Lucius – all the Death Eaters – are rendered sterile by the Dark Lord’s touch and Mark. You will not have Lucius’s child. The Malfoy line ends with him.”
“That doesn’t mean I want to have Potter’s child either!” Narcissa cried. “There must be someone–”
“No one we trust, who meets the blood requirements of your marriage contract.” Lily said fiercely. “Even Severus cannot, because he is a Death Eater. Sirius is too closely related. You don’t trust or like Fabian and Gideon, the Weasley twins –” Narcissa shuddered, as did Draco. “–so James is the only one left. He is willing, as I said.”
“And you?” Narcissa snapped. “Will you so easily condone your husband’s infidelity?”
Lily shook her head. “I do not like it. I wish there were another way. But this is your life at stake. If you don’t produce an heir, pureblood and magical, then you will lose your magic–and your life.” She smiled thinly. “And this way, I can ensure that my son has a sibling, and family to turn to, should something happen to me or James. We will be sisters by magic, Selina, and that gives me comfort as well.”
The scene abruptly shimmered and changed , to a private room at St. Mungo’s. Narcissa lay on a hospital bed, covered with a white sheet. Lily was there, standing next to the bed in green robes signifying her Healer status. A man with messy dark hair that could only belong to a Potter sat in a chair out of the way, watching.
“I didn’t know witches could get pregnant this way.” James said wryly, ice blue eyes sparkling with amusement. “I always assumed that the more…traditional method was the only way.”
“Not all witches prefer wizards, or can tolerate the ‘traditional method’, for various reasons.” Lily replied, also amused. “Yet they may still want children of their own, without a man to get in the way.” She smirked. “This is one area in which we are light years ahead of muggle technology. Although the surgery itself was done at a Muggle hospital, they would still be at the ‘wait and see stage right now. Witches are naturally more attuned to the rhythms of their bodies and magical cores, so we can go in and ‘manipulate’ things a bit, as it were, now that there’s confirmation of a child. Not that there’s an absolute guarantee that it will happen, but we can at least influence certain inheritable major traits; gender, eye color, hair color…” She pointedly eyed James’ disheveled mop. “Things like that. More delicate traits, like eye sight, or whether that hair is curly or straight, is still left up to Mother Nature.”
“In my case, that will be more than enough.” Narcissa added quietly. “A boy, with my hair and your eyes, and Lucius will never know that this child is not his flesh and blood.”
“Promise me that you will tell him, though.” James said abruptly. “And that you will teach him to look out for his younger brother, as he may – no matter what sides or Houses they’re in.”
“War is coming, Selina.” He said softly. “It creeps over us, like a shadow on the land. Voldemort rises in power. I know that you may have to make choices in the future that will put us in direct opposition. Like Sirius and Regulus eventually had to. But they’re still brothers and blood, and that will show true when it counts. Please.”
Narcissa met his gaze for a long moment, before slowly inclining her head. “I promise I will protect our sons as best as I can, James. And when it counts, they will protect each other. This I swear, by blood, magic, and intent.” A gold quill streamed out of her wand, inking the words she had vowed onto her arm in glittery script, before sinking into her skin and disappearing.
“So mote it be.” Lily said quietly. “Shall we proceed then with creating our fierce little protective dragon?”
Draco gasped as he was thrown out of the memory and back into his own head. He met the level gaze of his mother, still reeling with the implications of what he had seen and learned. “You – I – I’m the son of a Potter?!?!”
“You are a Black.” She corrected firmly. “You are the last living male directly connected to the Black line, by both your father and your mother, and that makes you the heir, even more so than Harry. But yes. The man who sired you was James Potter, not Lucius Malfoy. His line ends with him.”
Draco’s mind was whirling. It was too much. “All-those-years!” he spat. “The lectures and lessons and punishments when I didn’t quite act the way a Malfoy was supposed to conduct himself! And the whole time–”
“Lily Potter was as close to a best friend and sister as I ever had.” Narcissa interrupted bluntly. “She was brilliant and ruthless and at times vicious and cruel. But she also laughed and loved and lived with every fiber of her being. She was the epitome of what a witch should be, no matter their parentage.” She put her hands firmly on Draco’s shoulders, forcing him to meet her gaze. “Lucius had the illusion of more influence over you because I allowed it, to protect us both. I put negative triggers in your mind, associated with the words Muggle, Muggle-born, and Harry Potter, among others.”
“What?” he whispered.
“You needed to be able to naturally react how Lucius wanted, yet I needed a back door besides the bracelet to bring you back to me, should the opportunity arise.” She drew her wand. “Hold still. This will only take a moment.”
It was as if someone had cleared out cobwebs from his mind and senses. Everything was brighter, cleaner.
“How do you feel?” She asked. “Muggles. Muggle-born. Harry Potter. Hermione Granger.”
“I feel…nothing.” He said slowly, waiting for the surge of rage and hatred he normally felt at hearing the despised words and names. “So it was all the blocks?”
“Yes. It was safer for you if you had no knowledge of anything else but Lucius.” She said quietly. “Safer if you were taught to be a true Slytherin and pureblood, despite being the son of a Gryffindor.” A wan smile flitted about her lips. “Your impulsiveness and temper are very much your father’s – James’s – influences.” She raised a finely arched pale brow. “Something I believe, that young Harry has inherited also?”
That distracted him sufficiently. “Harry Potter…is my half-brother.” He said slowly, the words foreign and thick on his tongue. “But I hate him!”
The world shimmered and wavered in front of him, and he swayed. The last thing he heard was his mother saying distantly, “Rest, Draco. It is much to take in. I will send word to Severus that you came home early due to illness. We will speak more tomorrow,” before he was enveloped in darkness.
The next morning, Draco joined Narcissa at the breakfast table as usual. He looked perfectly normal, not a hair out of place, clothes neatly pressed and tucked as bespoke a true English wizard of the old blood. Dolly, their new house elf, quietly filled their plates and disappeared with a soft pop! , leaving mother and son alone.
“So.” Draco began, the opening gauntlet. “What happens now?”
She eyed him warily.
“Harry Potter hates me, and I hate him. You haven’t done a very good job on that vow of yours, by the way. The idiot has nearly gotten himself killed at least three times for every year he’s been at Hogwarts. And those were just during the Quidditch matches.”
She was bemused at the calm, accepting, matter of fact attitude, but not truly surprised. Within all the pureblood families was a blood géis of varying strength, to remain loyal to each other no matter what. As the Black and Potter families, and especially Draco and Harry, were so closely related, it ran stronger in their blood, especially now that at least one side had acknowledged the relation. The blood géis was meant to prevent patricide when heirs or siblings got greedy for their inheritance, but it worked for half siblings too. It also helped that the bracelet with the loyalty rune on it was gone, and with it the nullifying effect; though now with nothing to stem it, the blood géis was flowing stronger than ever, like a river that had just broke through a dam.
“I know that there is a schoolyard animosity between you and Harry. Part of that is your shared history working against you; you are much alike, in a lot of ways.” She replied, setting her tea cup down and accepting that this conversation needed to happen before either of them were to take another bite. “Part of that, Draco my darling, is you not being at all subtle or cunning, but that is Lucius’s influence. From what you have told me, it is petty resentments and teenage grudges that make up the majority of your feud, as well as the long standing dislike between Slytherin and Gryffindor House.”
“Yes.” He agreed grudgingly. “Although it is more Weasel and Granger that are always up in arms. Weasley had already gotten to Potter before we even entered Hogwarts the first time, spouting off his nonsense about evil Slytherin and goody two-shoes Gryffindor. Potter ate it up.”
“I suspect that there is much more Slytherin in Harry than anyone realizes.” Narcissa mused thoughtfully. “His mother Lily was certainly the most cunning and Slytherin like Gryffindor I’ve ever met in my life.” She smiled fondly, reminiscing. “Though I didn’t realize exactly quite how much she had successfully manipulated everyone until long after we were out of school. But then, she was a politician’s daughter, and a Muggle born. She was used to hiding in plain sight.”
Draco’s lip curled. “You say that as if you actually admired her.”
“I did. Lily Potter was one of the most powerful witches I have ever met, as well as one of the most courageous. Her parentage had absolutely nothing to do with that.” Narcissa said sharply. “But that brings us to the other half of this conversation. You are not your father, Draco. Not James, and not Lucius. You are a powerful, intelligent wizard with your own mind and path. So tell me true. Do you honestly believe in blood purity and that there are some people who are less because of who their parents are?”
He opened his mouth to reply that of course he believed in blood purity! He was of noble blood, that could be traced back to the great Morgana le Fey herself! Magic coursed through his veins, unlike those muggles, who would never know the thrill of casting a spell or shooting through the air on a broom. Didn’t that make them less because of it? Sure, some of them were lucky enough to mate with those of magic blood, and occasionally they had children that inherited the magic, but even they were less. Less powerful, less magical, less intell…Draco stopped. His mental reasoning and justification suddenly had a witch sized hole in it. A witch with bushy hair, named Hermione Granger.
Hermione was a Muggle born, a fellow student in his year at Hogwarts, and had been the bane of his existence since his first day at school. She was the brightest witch in their year, and usually the first to master whatever new spell, charm, or potion they were working on in class, often with no effort. Magic came effortlessly to her, theory and application, which shouldn’t have been possible if she didn’t already have the power to perform the spell work in the first place. But she was a Muggle born. Her parents had no magic whatsoever, so how had they produced such a powerful witch?
Narcissa read the thoughts on his face with ease, and smiled to herself. Time to land the final blow to Lucius’s teachings. “Lily was a Muggle born, and one of the most powerful and smartest witches I have ever met.” She repeated quietly. “She was also your godmother, come to that. Magic chooses us, just as our wands do. Parentage and blood is only a small fraction of the reasons why.” She curled her lip in disdain. “Besides, the Dark Lord is a half-blood.”
“What?!?!” Draco yelped.
“Tom Marvolo Riddle. Born to a witch and a muggle. Lucius bragged about it, though I’m sure that he would’ve made sure that he had a way to kill Riddle himself, if he started to veer in a direction not in line with Lucius’s beliefs and guidance. Thought it amusing and ironic. Said he agreed enough with Riddle’s end goal to follow him until the time was right, and anyone with that much natural power and charisma would do great things. He later excused his allowing Riddle to brand him like a sheep by saying that he didn’t wish to get on Riddle’s bad side! Your precious Lucius, along with all of his pureblood noble witches and wizards, willingly groveled at their lord’s feet, in the mud, and kissed his robes!” She said icily, her words having even more impact for her too calm tone. “And with every brand that he pressed into their flesh, Marking them as his, so they ended centuries of wizarding heritage and tradition and lineage.”
Her son collapsed in his chair, his face ashen grey. She continued on, merciless.
“The parents of your Housemates took the Mark after they were married and at least pregnant with their heirs. But you will notice that every single one of them who have bragged about serving Riddle have no siblings, either older or younger. Now consider the neutral families, those who chose their own path and will not follow Riddle or Dumbledore. The Greengrasses. Davies. The Patils. The Changs. The Li family. All families with multiple children, and, interestingly enough, all girl children. Magic herself is screaming into the abyss, my son, and no one is listening.” She stopped, breathing hard, and closed her eyes. “The point is, this whole conflict is a bundle of lies and contradictions, and neither side is favorable to us. But in every war…”
“…there’s always a third side.” Draco finished slowly.
“Yes. You may have noticed Lucius’s convenient absence from the manor at the moment. He is at the Ministry, arrested for possession of a dangerous Dark Artifact.” She said coolly, sitting back down in her chair. “The Weasley girl confessed that she found the diary that possessed her last year in her stack of books directly after her father’s and Lucius’s confrontation. Harry Potter has proclaimed that he saw Lucius slip the diary into the cauldron. Truth spell of your father confirmed the whole story, as well as revealed the original owner.” She paused at his look of confusion. “You did hear about all of this, didn’t you? That whole ‘Heir of Slytherin’ nonsense?”
He hadn’t, not to this detail, but he nodded anyway so that she would keep going.
“Moody, that devious old badger, also slipped in a question of whether or not Lucius was truly coerced into taking the Dark Mark.” She added smugly. “Unfortunately, that wasn’t what he was in for, so the evidence isn’t actually admissible, but it is still a hard hit against his carefully cultivated reputation and image. Also, James Potter is alive.”
Draco stared at her in shock and dismay. “That’s…not possible.”
“Oh, but it is.” Concentrating hard on the image of James in her mind – fully clothed – she drew it out of her mind and into the Pensieve, then set it to project, so that they could both view it. “This is him, not even a week ago. How he is alive is another story, one I don’t even know the full details of, but I assure you, James Potter is very much alive.” She resisted the urge to roll her eyes at the massive understatement, but admitting exactly how well she knew James was alive was not a truth that her thirteen year old son was ready to hear. Draco was well used ot the coldly formal relationship that she and Lucius maintained, so any thought of his mother in an ardent and intimate embrace with the man whom he had just learned was his biological father was completely beyond his reckoning at this time.
“You’re leaving father to join him.” he stated, staring at the image with narrowed eyes. “Him and Potter – Harry.”
“You cannot leave if you were never there. I doubt he will even notice or miss my presence for very long.” She answered gently. “In the eyes of Magic, I am still unwed, Draco. It is only the laws of man which name me his wife, and even now I could go to the Ministry and have our marriage annulled. Completely dissolved, as if it never happened. I already have the papers citing breach of contract for being unable to produce and heir of his body and blood. With the death of Regulus and the incarceration of Sirius, I became Lady Black, and the rightful legal heir and owner of all of our properties, holdings, and assets. Lucius also forfeits everything – this manor, all of his other properties, money, stocks. Everything. The only thing he has left right now is his precious name and bloodline, which dies with him.”
“Do you truly hate him so much?” Draco said wistfully, looking and sounding suddenly much younger than his thirteen years.
Narcissa sighed, considering him – and her answer – for a long moment. She knew that this was truly a lot to comprehend and process, but she had never coddled him like Lucius had. Her fierce little dragon was so much stronger and more resilient than even he knew, so she knew he would get through this.
“I do not hate Lucius.” She answered finally. “He is not worth even the effort that excessive emotion would take. Lucius Malfoy was a means to an end, and now that end is finally in sight.”
“And where does that leave me?”
“At a fork in the road. On one side is Lucius and Tom Riddle. On the opposite side is Dumbledore and his Order. Will you take one of the easy, clear paths, into darkness or or light, but blinding so that you must follow on faith alone? OR will you forge a new path into the unknown grey, with lightening to lead the way?”