The Sugar Quill
Author: Cyane Snape  Story: Unconditional Love  Chapter: Default
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Malfoy Manor was very dark and gloomy

Unconditional Love

 

            Malfoy Manor was very dark and gloomy. This was not the normal appearance for the ancient and noble home. It was usually lit with bright lights and had enjoyed a continuous stream of visitors, but the manor had been dark for a while. Its owners were experiencing very difficult times and had been away for many weeks.

            The beginning of the end came when the Order of the Phoenix managed to attack Lord Voldemort and most of his followers in the Ministry of Magic. Several of his minions had been captured. Narcissa Malfoy’s sister Bellatrix and brother-in-law Rodolphus Lestrange had managed to escape capture and disappeared with Voldemort. Her husband Lucius had been captured along with the remaining Death Eaters trapped in the Ministry building and taken to Azkaban prison where they were awaiting word on their punishment from the Ministry.

            Near the end of Draco’s fourth year at Hogwarts, Narcissa knew that things had a chance of not proceeding well for her family. She had always managed to stay out of harm’s way and let Lucius retain control of things. She was not a weak woman, but it was usually easier just to let him run things for her. He provided everything she could ever desire or need. They had a beautiful son together that Narcissa adored and spoiled. She held no false hopes of Lucius’ love for her. She knew that she was a convenient vessel to give him his precious heir and she also knew that he had many lovers, male and female, to satisfy his sexual needs. It had been a long time since they had shared a bed together and she did miss him, because Lucius was an excellent lover.

            No, Narcissa accepted the fact that she was the ‘trophy’ wife and learned to play her role well. She did wonder, however, if Lucius would have eventually replaced her with a younger, prettier wife had they not gotten into this mess. Well, no sense worrying about that. Now we’ll be lucky to come out of this alive.

            The former lady of Malfoy Manor sat alone under the trees surrounding her home. It was cold and dark and forbidding. She shouldn’t even be there, because the Ministry had confiscated the entire Malfoy estate. What the Ministry didn’t know was that while Lucius was consorting with his Death Eaters, Narcissa had been liquidating their entire estate. During the last year, she had managed to convert most of the family wealth into gold Galleons and had transferred the wealth into a very private wizard’s bank in Switzerland. She had put the new account in three names: Lucius’, hers, and Draco’s. There would always be money for them. Narcissa would have done anything within her power to save her family, and when things started to turn against them after Lucius’ capture, she sent Draco into hiding in Switzerland. He was to remain with some distant relatives of the Blacks until he heard personally from either his mother or his father.

            Narcissa had insisted that Draco should be sent to a safe haven over his father’s objections. He wanted his son by his side, but Narcissa would not hear of it. She knew that Lucius was a target and therefore, so was Draco. She had given Draco the information about the bank account and told him to use the money if something happened to both her and Lucius. She had also given him a list of relatives and friends that would help him if he needed them. Now that he was safe, Narcissa could concentrate on Lucius.

            A chilling voice spoke to her from behind the trees, “What are you looking for, Narcissa?”

            “Who’s there? Come out where I can see your face!”

            The tall slim figure of Severus Snape stepped forward out of the trees to stare down at Narcissa Malfoy. “What are you looking for, Narcissa?”

            “Go away, Severus. I’ve had enough of you…you traitor!” Narcissa lunged at the Potions Master and tried to claw his eyes out, but it was very easy for the man to subdue her into submission. “How could you do this to me? You’ve ruined everything!”

            “I’ll ask you for the final time, what are you looking for, Narcissa?”

            “Nothing, anything. This is my home, Severus. Don’t you understand? I have nowhere to go. You and your precious order have taken everything from me!” I will NOT cry. I will not cry in front of Snape or anyone. They will find no weaknesses in Narcissa Malfoy. I live my life on my own terms. “Let go of me.  You have no right to detain me. I have been charged with no crimes.”

            “What about the crime of bribery? Just how did you manage to bribe the guards at Azkaban into letting Lucius escape? Is that why you are here, to meet Lucius?” Snape searched the area surrounding them but could see no movement and heard no sounds. He tried to look into her mind, but found it blocked to his invasion. Narcissa forced him out of her mind.

            “Lucius escaped from the prison? When? How?” Narcissa knew that Lucius had been freed, but she would never let Snape know that. It had taken her a month to prepare the polyjuice potion that let her enter the prison as her niece Nymphadora Tonks. The guards had been easy to bribe with gold. She had been careful to remain in the background as she watched them release her husband from his cell. Narcissa had only had a few minutes to talk with him before she left. She had given him directions to a secluded house where he could hide for awhile and find food and clothing. Then, at a pre-arranged a time and place they would meet again… and Narcissa was late.

            “Narcissa, I don’t believe you. I know you for the lying, conniving bitch that you are. You know where he is and if you expect to live through this, you had better tell me where he is. If there is proof that you helped Lucius in his escape, you will meet the same fate that awaits him.”

            “And what fate is that, Severus, the Dementor’s kiss?”

            “You know as well as I that the Dementors are no longer in Azkaban. No, Cornelius Fudge and the Ministry have decided that public execution is the only appropriate sentence for traitors like your husband.”

            “Public execution? What, are they back to burning witches again? That’s just so 17th century, Severus.”

            “No, Narcissa, public execution as in beheading. All known Death Eaters are to be beheaded in the public square in Hogsmeade. Fear and paranoia strike deep. The Ministry wants the Death Eaters who committed the worst crimes to set the example for any who might try to bring the old evil ways back. Lucius is to head up the list of the condemned. It should really be a proud day for the Malfoy family.”

            “Sarcasm does not become you, Severus.”

            “Narcissa, come with me. I will take you to Dumbledore and the Ministry and you can plead your case to them. I will not leave you here.”

            Narcissa turned to follow Snape into the woods and away from her home. She thought for a few moments and decided not to push the situation with Snape. Sometimes the best offense is a quick defense. Or is it the best defense is a good offense? Whatever... He had never known how skilled Narcissa was at Occlumency because he didn’t see her thoughts or notice her actions until he heard, “Stupefy!” Snape’s body stopped in mid-stride. “Incarcerous!” Magic ropes wrapped around his body and he was levitated down onto the grass.

            “Sorry, Severus, but I’m not going anywhere with you or anyone else from your precious order. I’m not a simpering wallflower or weak witch you can manipulate. Never forget, Bellatrix was my sister and I can hold my own against her. Just because I chose not to actively practice the Dark Arts, doesn’t mean that I don’t know how to use them. I now expect you to send up a prayer of thanks every day that you live because I didn’t kill you where you lie. You now owe me a life debt. My son is safe and you will never find him. What happens to me is of little importance any more and I can guarantee that you will never, ever put your filthy hands on my husband again.” Narcissa spat upon Snape’s prone figure as she turned away from him and started off toward the back of her deserted home.

            Slipping through the high wall, Narcissa found herself at a back entrance to the house. She tapped a pre-arranged signal on the locked door and it slowly opened, allowing her entrance into her home.

            “Good evening, Kreacher. It everything ready?”

            “Yes, Mistress, Kreacher has prepared for everything that you have asked.”

            The house elf bowed to his mistress and pointed to the assorted items he had collected into a basket.

            “Good. Now, Kreacher, things may not go as planned tonight. We may in fact have uninvited guests. Do you know what you are to do?”

            “Yes, Mistress. Kreacher will leave the house and go to Switzerland to care for young Master Draco, then Mistress will place charms and spells on the house so that no one may enter.”

            “Very well, Kreacher, you have done all that I could have expected. I release you from your service here and charge you with the care of my son. Do not let him return until it is safe. Do you understand?”

            “Yes, Mistress.”

            “Go now, before someone sees you leaving.”

            She waved her hand to dismiss him and made sure to lock the door behind him as he left.

            Kreacher silently left the Malfoy estate and slipped into the surrounding woods. He was not approached by anyone and began his slow trip to join his young master.

            Narcissa rummaged through the meager items that Kreacher had procured for her. There were a few bits of clean clothing, some healing salves, cleansing items and food for a day or two. If all went well, that was all they would need. A sudden noise from below alerted her to the danger she was in. She quickly gathered the items and went about the confines of the house placing complicated sealing wards on all the doors and windows. With luck, it would give them time to escape to safety.

            Lumos.” The tiny light emitting from her wand was the only light in the cavernous house. Narcissa gathered the items in a bundle and opened the outer door to Lucius’ private dungeons. She didn’t go down there often, but she knew that it would be the safest place in the house. After closing the door, more elaborate charms were placed on the door and locks sealed the dungeons off from the outside world.

            A long, dark hallway with several side halls stretched before her. Narcissa didn’t want to know where any of those terrifying passages led; she only knew that she was instructed to proceed straight down until the end of the passage. A recessed stone door with no handle blocked her entrance. There was an intricate carving of a many-headed snake in the center of the door. She leaned in and whispered the password, “Serpensortia!” A wry smile crossed her lips as she remembered the time that Draco had used the silly charm to scare Harry Potter in a wizard’s duel. It had become a bit of a family joke since then. This time, it might save her life.

            The large door contracted into the inner room and opened enough to allow Narcissa entry into the dark room. As she gingerly stepped inside, she held her wand up to have a look around. Abruptly she was shoved against the cold stone wall and fingers as cold as ice held her throat in a vice-like grip. She tried to speak but nothing could emerge. Her air supply was effectively extinguished. Narcissa looked into the pale, haunted eyes of her husband Lucius. She reached up to brush his hair out of his face and his hand relaxed around her throat. Her lungs instinctively gulped for air.

            “Lucius?”

            “Narcissa, is that you?”

            “Yes, Lucius.”

            “You’re late. Where have you been?”

            Ever the gentleman, as always, my love. “I was detained in the woods. Severus stopped me and tried to take me back to the Ministry. Let’s just say we had a bit of a disagreement about where I was going. He agreed that I should go with him and I disagreed.”

            “What did you do to him?”

            “I stunned him and graciously prevented myself from killing him. It was a difficult choice, but now he owes me a life debt.”

            “Stupid woman. You should have killed him. You cannot trust him!”

            “We will be out of here before he can track us down, my love. Here, let me look at you.”

            Narcissa held her wand up to illuminate the area. The wretched creature standing before her could hardly be recognized as the same elegant man whom Narcissa had married. Prison had not treated him well. His clothing was ragged and dirty. His hair was matted and full of filth, and he smelled. Oh, Lucius, this must be killing you.

            “Here, Lucius, sit down on the floor and eat something. You look like you are about to drop from starvation. You’ll need all your strength to get out of here.”

            As Lucius ate the meager fare, Narcissa watched her husband in amazement. Even in this horrible situation, there was an air of grace and elegance that surrounded him. Yes, she knew exactly what and who he was. She knew what he did, and while not participating with him, she accepted and agreed with his pure-blood beliefs. Their marriage had been arranged years ago, but no one ever knew that Narcissa had truly loved her husband and would have done anything for him. She would prove it to her husband now. She would make sure that no one captured him. He was not going to be publicly executed in front of all those filthy Mudbloods.

            Narcissa took some of the cleansing items out of the bundle and began to gently stroke Lucius’ skin. Her slow and tender ministrations seemed to revive him some. The healing salves removed the bruises and cuts from his skin. He looked into her eyes, but said nothing, but she understood him. She had always understood him and knew that there were words that he would never speak…words like “thank you… please… I love you”. Narcissa didn’t need to hear the words. On this day, she felt them.

            Once he had been cleansed and healed, Narcissa began helping Lucius into the clean clothing from the bundle. They were not as elegant as most of his clothes but were serviceable for his current needs.

            A loud thump from over their heads startled them both. “What was that?”

            “Don’t worry yourself, Lucius. It’s…it’s…just Kreacher cleaning in the kitchen.” How did anyone get inside? There are enough wards and spells on this house to keep out an army. They will still have to break through the door...

            “Kreacher? I thought he was with Draco.”

            “He will be. He is leaving tomorrow morning. Don’t worry, Lucius. Nothing can enter the dungeon. I’ve taken care of that. Nothing can harm you.”

            Narcissa checked the wards on the stone door and sat down on the floor next to the far wall of the dungeon.

            “Come, sit down. We have some time before we can leave. Lie down on my lap and rest while you eat.”

            Lucius sat down and placed his head in Narcissa’s lap. She absentmindedly began combing his long blond hair. For a moment, they were transported to another time and place.

            “Lucius, do you remember when we were in school?”

            “Yes.”

            “Do you remember how we would sit by the lake and do nothing all afternoon?”

            “I remember.”

            “We had just found out that our parents had arranged our marriage. Neither of us was particularly happy about it.”

            “That was a certainty.”

            “Do you remember what you said to me?”

            “Refresh my memory.”

            “You said, ‘Don’t worry about me ever loving you. I’m only marrying you to continue the Malfoy name. You just bear my son and I’ll be done with you. You can live your own life. I will never tell you that I love you.’ That was what you said to me just before our wedding. I was so hurt and couldn’t understand how anyone could be so cruel.”

            “But you said the same thing to me, Narcissa. You said that you would never love me and that I was lucky that one of the Blacks even considered marrying a Malfoy. I believe your words were that the world was running out of pure-blood wizards and that I was your best choice.”

            “I lied to you, Lucius.” I always considered myself a strong woman, but I’ve never had the courage to tell you how much I love you.

            “You lied?”

            “Yes, I lied about everything. I lied about you being my only choice. I lied about the Blacks and the Malfoys. I lied…I lied when I said I could never love you.”

            “You lied to me?”

            “Yes, Lucius, I have always loved you and I will always love you. I have accepted the fact that you will never love me the way I love you, but I wanted you to know that everything I’ve done has always been to protect you and Draco and the Malfoy family name. I will never allow anyone to soil the Malfoy name.”

            The loud noises from upstairs were now coming from just on the other side of the dungeon door. Lucius made no indication of hearing them, but Narcissa heard them and she knew who was on the other side. Damn, I hate it when he’s right. I should have killed the traitorous bastard.

            “Lucius, did you love me, even just a little?”

            “Yes, Narcissa, if there was ever a woman that I could have loved or trusted, it would have been you.”

            “Do you trust me, Lucius?”

            “Yes, Narcissa, I trust you with my life.”

            Narcissa leaned over to press a deep passionate kiss on her beautiful husband’s lips. Then you will have to trust me this time, my love. The people on the other side of that door will take both of us away. They will humiliate us with the mockery of a trial and Draco will never be able to recover. This time they will not win. They will not take Lucius and Narcissa Malfoy. I will end this game on my own terms.

            Narcissa Malfoy embraced her husband and held him close to her own body. As she pointed her wand at their two bodies, she uttered the final words of her life.

 

“Avada Kedavra!”

 

 

 

 

 

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