Losses beyond imagining

Chapter 34

Ever since their latest talk about Draco’s predicament, Lucius had been bullying Narcissa into finding a solution. He shouted orders from his painting, naming the most likely books and people that might help find a reversal for the spell. His new found zest was irritating her, but it had sparked some life into him again. And for that, Narcissa was grateful.

The kitchen was her only respite from his loud orders, and it was there that she invited her sister one rainy afternoon. She had a mission of her own…

Andromeda was delighted to hear that Hermione had faced her fears and stayed at the manor.

“They do seem to become more serious… don’t they? How are you feeling about that?” she asked her sister tentatively. It was still a rather volatile subject…

“I…I..” She hesitated. “I don’t really know anymore….” Narcissa finally said softly. “They do seem to fit together somehow… much as I dislike that…”

“At least she isn’t soft and meek as we were supposed to be…” Andromeda giggled. “Do you remember all the stupid advice we used to get from mother? Not showing that you have a brain in order to attract someone?”

“When were we ever soft or meek?” Narcissa returned the question with a sparkle in her eyes. “I must have missed that particular day…”

“Bellatrix must have missed the entire year…” Andromeda said more solemnly. “Do…do you miss her?” She didn’t dare look into her sister’s eyes as she dreaded the answer.

Their third sister was an even more difficult subject than Muggle-borns had been. Bellatrix being responsible for Tonks’s death didn’t help…. However, Narcissa hadn’t been that close to her anymore either, since the Dark Lord was Bellatrix’s one and only priority, even over the relatives she did acknowledge… Something Andromeda wasn’t quite aware of.

Narcissa swallowed. “Perhaps it was for the best… Bella would have taking his death rather badly…” She suddenly saw a way in for her topic…

“You don’t mean, Lucius?” Andromeda asked puzzled.

“Of course not… Voldemort’s…. That is… If he is truly gone…”

Andromeda’s eyes grew big. “Of course, he is! How could you even doubt that…!”

“It’s Draco…” she said, appealing to her sister’s motherliness, “he is still afraid sometimes… He did return once before…”

Andromeda nodded in sympathy. “That must be hard. To not even feel the same relief the rest of us do… Is there nothing you can say or do to make him believe?” she asked sincerely.

“I’ve done all I can,” her sister replied. “Draco saw his body for himself. More than that… I don’t know what else I could do…”

Andromeda picked up on her hint. “But… I don’t see how I could help…” she stuttered. “I don’t… Draco and I don’t… I hardly know him…”

Narcissa swallowed hard. This was the moment… “It’s not how well you know Draco. It is what you know…” she nudged her sister, hoping it wasn’t too obvious.

“Oh… Oh….” She began to understand. Her eyes narrowed and she quickly rose from her chair. “I cannot believe you, Cissy…” Andromeda said coldly. “To use such a ruse on me, your own sister…. I was wrong to trust you again!”

She stalked out of the manor, Narcissa hurrying after her along the driveway. Right before apparating, Andromeda stated boldly: “You have really disappointed me.. I should have listened to my friends… You haven’t changed your spots…”

“Please wait… I… I’m sorry… But it really was for Draco’s…” Narcissa didn’t get the chance to explain as she saw her sister leave in an instant. With a deep sigh and a single tear in the corner of her eye, she slowly walked back to her house… Her luxurious yet empty manor…

“To think that I almost trusted her!” Andromeda was letting of steam to Molly who had been babysitting Teddy. The three of them were sitting on the Burrow’s veranda, watching the drizzling rain. “She just wanted to know about…. Well, even I don’t know what Harry did precisely…”

Molly nodded. She did know but wasn’t going to rub it in. “Do you believe it was just for Draco’s sake?” she asked skeptically.

Andromeda sighed. “I don’t know… I can hardly think why else though…. It is not as if she convinced of his return herself… “

“Perhaps she wants to be immortal…” Molly wondered. “Or make Draco so…. Or bring Lucius back…”

Andromeda peered at her. “Narcissa isn’t a fool. She knows Lucius can’t come back… As for becoming immortal… Sometimes I wonder if she’d not rather join her husband, instead of staying alive… Much like myself, I may add…”

“I’m sorry, I wasn’t thinking…” Molly replied quickly. “It’s still mysterious though…. Not to mention dangerous…”

“Yes…” Andromeda began to slowly wonder if her sister perhaps hadn’t lied. Maybe she was simply looking out for her son… Perhaps she had stalked away too quickly.

“She did mention…. She said that…” she started hesitantly, “that Hermione and Draco did seem to fit, even if she didn’t like it…. And also… that…” she stopped briefly. “That Bellatrix’s death…”

Molly turned white, overcome with a sudden and immense fear that Narcissa was, at long last, going to avenge her sister…

“That her death was perhaps for the best… That she couldn’t have coped with Voldemort’s death anyhow…”

Molly sighed in relief. “Narcissa said that?! I can scarcely believe it!”

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