The Sugar Quill
Author: Texasmagic  Story: A Mother Knows  Chapter: Default
The distribution of this story is for personal use only. Any other form of distribution is prohibited without the consent of the author.

Let us not fear the hidden, or each other

Let us not fear the hidden, or each other.~Muriel Rukeyser

 

Draco was hiding something.  She wasn’t sure what it might entail.  All she knew was that there was something wrong with her son. It was in the things he said, the things he didn’t say.

 

It shouldn’t have surprised her, really. The house was full of secrets.  It was full of things that had to be hidden:  things that you kept from the outside world, things you kept from your family.  Things you kept from yourself.

 

But there was no more denying it.  So this evening, when the house elf reported that the young master had not yet turned in, she went up to his chambers to wait. It was time to see what Draco was up to.

 

The overcast sky was dark, and clouds hid every last star from view,  turning the window into a mirror.  She could not see through the glass to the trees that lined their property, so instead, she studied her own reflection in the pane. 

 

A mother could hardly hope for a son who was such a fine blend of his parents: his father’s flashing eyes, his mother’s chin, his father’s distinguished nose and his mother’s svelte frame.  He shared with them both the complexion and hair that distinguished them so easily as members of the same family. 

 

Yes, he was a fine heir to the family lines.  And like any well trained, pure-blood child, Draco understood the importance of keeping certain things hidden.

 

Such as what he had been doing out late at night. Again. 

 

Any other summer she would have assumed that he was out making mischief with his friends, or busy courting some young witch.  But not this summer.

 

The house elf had told her the young master was not sleeping.  Had Draco been merely gallivanting around, he would have managed to have a lie-in after his adventures, rather than appear every morning in the dining room, looking wan and too disengaged to even order the help around, only to push his plate away, having hardly touched his meal.

 

No, Draco was involved in something more sinister than teasing the Muggle farmer across the moor or flirting with that Parkinson girl.  Ever since she had collected her son from the train, he had been sullen and withdrawn.  After she had pressed him to invite his friends, Vincent and Gregory,  to spend the week at Malfoy Manor, she discovered from his outburst that he knew far more about his father’s involvement in the debacle at the Ministry a few weeks ago than she wished him to. He was far too young to be enmeshed in the antics of Lucius’s less desirable associates.

 

He didn’t even act surprised when the MLES had invaded their home, uninvited, of course, claiming to be searching for items of interest to her husband’s prosecution.  Luckily, Narcissa was as skilled at hiding the family heirlooms as she was at hiding her sister, for nothing good would have come of the authorities being made aware of the location of either.

 

Draco, of course, knew his Aunt Bella had been hiding with them for weeks. Narcissa had a sneaking suspicion that Bellatrix was the source of much of Draco’s information about his father’s situation. He was spending far too much time with her. 

 

Bellatrix was the elder sister, the one who was supposed to carry on the Black family line.  But when she had been caught torturing the Longbottoms,  Narcissa had realized that Bella’s association with the Dark Lord had ceased being an alignment with a powerful wizard who promised to further the values of power and purity in their world, and had evolved into blind, fanatical devotion.  It could not be healthy for Draco to be spending so much time with his aunt.

 

It was time to put a stop to the adventures before things went too far.

 

A quiet pop made Narcissa turn from the window,  where she had been waiting, to see who had appeared in her son’s bedchamber. Draco stood there, his hand clutching his aunt's arm, his eyes cast down at his feet. Bellatrix’s other hand was lowering her black, switch-like wand.

 

“So that’s how you’ve been managing,” Narcissa said, sitting down on the settee at the end of Draco’s bed.  “Apparating jointly.  I should have known. The Ministry is monitoring our fires, and the use of Portkeys is too tedious to appeal to you, Sister.  Still, I would prefer that you did not take my son out on any of your adventures.”

 

“He’s nearly of age,” Bellatrix responded, squaring her shoulders and tilting her chin to her sister.  “Someone has to take steps to see to it that he makes the appropriate connections, especially considering the mess Lucius has ended up in.”

 

“And you were all too happy to fill the void, weren’t you, Bella?” Narcissa said coolly. “I imagine that bringing the Dark Lord new recruits might help him overlook your role in the catastrophe last month.”

 

“He counts me among his most loyal servants,” Bellatrix answered, tossing her long black hair in defiance. “I had to make certain that the family would continue to show its support for his cause!”

 

“So you saw fit to step in and usurp my position, did you?” Narcissa rose from the settee, drawing herself up to her full, authoritative  height.  “He still has most of a year before he comes of age, and that means that I, as his mother, still bear the responsibility for his guidance and supervision.”

 

“That is assuming that you and your poor excuse for a Death Eater husband still choose to align yourselves with the Dark Lord.” Bellatrix practically spat the words.

 

Narcissa glanced at Draco, who was hanging his head at his aunt’s words. It was a posture of shame, and it did not become him.  This was Bellatrix’s doing, taking Draco out at all times of the night, to who knows where, poisoning his mind.  More than likely, she had made promises to her nephew that his proof of loyalty could somehow salvage the family honor in the eyes of the Dark Lord.  It was time for his mother to step in, consequences be damned.

 

Narcissa took a deep but silent breath, and then fixed her eyes upon the gaunt face of her elder sister.  Bellatrix was her opposite in many ways, as petite as Narcissa was tall, as flamboyant as she was reserved, the elder with hair of onyx, and the younger with hair of platinum.  Many years before, Narcissa had been intimidated by Bella’s wild look and taunting voice.  But Azkaban had not been kind to her sister, and Bella’s heavy-lidded eyes were darker than ever against her pallid complexion.  She had allowed her fanatical obsession to bring her to the point of becoming a ghost of her formerly imposing self.  Narcissa was the one with the power and authority now. She simply had to keep a level head in opposition to Bella’s madness.

 

“Need I remind you, dear Sister,” Narcissa said, “that it is I who have been able to perpetuate the line of not only the ancient House of Black, but of the Malfoys as well?  Our foolish cousins have ended up dead. Our sister has turned blood traitor and borne a freak that I am glad does not share our name, and you have spent these last fourteen years pining for the attentions of a Dark Lord who might never have returned to collect you.”

 

“But he did return,” Bellatrix shrieked, narrowing her eyes at her sister.  “I am privileged to be in his inner circle. I knew that he could not be completely defeated. I know how he managed it.  That is more than your bribe-paying husband can say.”

 

“Yet, the fact that my husband and I were able to maintain our social standing provided the opportunity for you to ultimately escape, did it not?  Lucius may have believed the Dark Lord defeated, but we have never abandoned our principles. We have done everything we can to further the cause of purity and rid ourselves of Muggle lovers and mudbloods.  Don’t forget, dear Sister, the words we heard preached at our father’s knee. It is up to us, as the last loyal members of the House of Black, to further these goals and preserve our family’s traditions and secrets.  You would do well to remember when you joined this cause for those reasons, instead of irrational fear of a megalomaniac you have helped to make even more powerful.”

 

Bellatrix’s eyes widened upon hearing her sister’s words.  “You dare to question the Dark Lord?  I doubt very much that you would be brash enough to challenge him so in his presence!”

 

“I would never challenge the Dark Lord, just as I would never speak of this to anyone else save you, my husband, and my son,” Narcissa replied.

 

“You trust me to keep your disloyalty a secret, then.”

 

“Of course. Like me, you are neither foolish nor stupid enough to reveal that my loyalties are to the purity of the wizarding race rather than the obsession of this madman.  Giving him reason to punish me would take your place of refuge from you. And I know how very much you have appreciated my skills at secret keeping and camouflage.  You would much rather continue to hide from the authorities in the comfort of my home than in whatever hole your other associates must inhabit.  I trust that you will use your very considerable skills at Occlumency to protect me the way I have protected you.”

 

“You will see-” Bellatrix began.

 

“Yes, I suppose I may, but until that time, I remain mistress of this house, and I do not give you leave to usurp my authority, especially with regards to my son.  Now, leave us. I need to speak of things with Draco,” Narcissa said, dismissing her sister  with a wave of her hand.

 

Bellatrix huffed and looked as though she were about to speak, but then she turned on her heel and stalked out of the room.

 

“Close the door,” Narcissa told Draco, as she returned to the settee at the foot of his bed.  He did as she asked, but remained by the door, his head downcast, clutching his arms around himself. His distress, disguised earlier as surliness and a bad temper, could no longer be hidden. What had he been up to? Where was the defiant young wizard she had raised?  The Draco she knew would be haughtily lifting his chin, looking her in the eye, challenging his mother to assert herself in the absence of his father. This Draco appeared resigned, meek and downtrodden.

 

It was time to put things right.  “Come here,” she ordered. He crossed the room to stand before his mother.

 

“Draco, look at me when I speak to you,” she said, and he raised his eyes to hers. His eyes were nearly as sunken as his aunt’s. How had she let this go on for so long?  “You are no longer permitted to leave this house with your aunt, Draco.   She does not have your best interests, nor the interests of this family, at heart.”

 

“I have to go with her,” Draco answered in a quiet voice.

 

“Nonsense.  You are my son, and I forbid you to go with her.”

 

“Mother,  you don’t understand. I have to go with her. She’s the only one who can take me to him,” Draco said, his grey eyes pleading with hers.

 

“There is no place she can take you that you need to go.  I realize that your Aunt Bella can spin wonderful tales of glory and honor from her service to the Dark Lord, but these are things that you do not fully understand.”

 

“I do understand,” Draco said. “Father is a Death Eater, I’ve always known that. He is sworn to the service of the Dark Lord.  Only, he failed at something important, and it’s up to me to set things right for our family.”

 

“You are not old enough to realize the ramifications of what you propose to do,” Narcissa said, rising from her seat and walking to stand in front of the fireplace. “Think about it, Draco,” she continued. “Pledging yourself to him gives him power over you.  Once he holds you in his grasp...” She had to discourage Draco from continuing down this path.  He was the sole heir to two of the grandest wizarding families. She had taught him the secrets of these families. It was his responsibility to keep them protected and hidden.

 

He was her only son.  She could not let him be taken.

 

“It’s too late,” Draco said wearily as he sat down on the settee himself.

 

“What do you mean, too late?” Narcissa asked, turning around to face him.

 

“I've already given my oath,” he explained.

“Your oath? You mean you’ve promised to be loyal to him?  Well, that is easily dealt with,” Narcissa said, waving her hand dismissively.  “Bella can teach you Occlumency. I could do it, but she is even more skilled than I am.  We can teach you how to keep things hidden from him.  Besides, you are not of age, and we can easily explain away your absence the next time Bella fails to bring you along.  You are not truly bound to him until you take the Mark-“

 

“I have,” he said.

 

“Pardon me?” Narcissa said.  Draco pulled up the sleeve of his robe and gingerly stretched his arm out.  There it was, his secret.  The Dark Mark, freshly burned into his skin. 

 

Draco had much to learn, about purity, about power, and about alliances.

 

But he already knew how to keep things hidden. She had taught him too well.

 

 

Special thanks to Magnolia Mama for helping me hash this idea out, and to PirateQueen, my SQ beta.  I'm excited to join the great authors at the Sugar Quill.

 

Please let me know what you think.

 

 

 

 

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