Owl and A Crossing
June 5, 2005My dearest son,
I hope today finds you in good health and good spirits. I understand you are busy, and have ordered a house elf to leave your present at the Council. I do not trust an owl and do not wish for you to have to come to the Manor to retrieve it.
I am very proud of you, with all your faults. Nothing could make me stop loving you.
It was a special summer tea. Rosemarie Parkinson and Calanthe Fabiana both came from abroad to attend, because they knew it meant a lot to her. The high end tea room she secured for the gathering was decorated to her standards and the guests were all seated. They were just about to start when a house elf announced more guests.
Unconsciously, Narcissa looked around the large table set and furrowed her brow slightly. "All who accepted my invitation have arrived. There is a mistake. Send them on."
"Oh come now, Mrs. Malfoy, surely you have room for a few more," Irulan said as she swept in. "Especially when one of them is your own sister."
Andromeda could have breathed fire. She could not believe Irulan had tricked her like this. Branwyn and Willow exchanged a look. This was going to be intense.
"I do hope we aren't late," another voice called.
Willow turned. She did not recognize the woman, but she did recognize the woman next to her - Astoria Greengrass. That had to be her mother Queenie.
"Oh thank the gods," Tori said as she hurried up to Willow and kissed her cheek. "This is going to be just dreadful."
"Agreed," Andromeda muttered, looking at her younger sister.
Narcissa inhaled deeply but kept her mouth shut. Underneath the table, hidden by the silk table cloth, her hands were gripping the cloth napkin in her lap and she swore she heard a rip. Andromeda always received a courtesy invitation, but never before had she taken her sister up on it.
Like a good, yet reluctant, hostess, Narcissa stood. Throwing them out would be bad decorum, but accepting them was the equivalent of giving Draco free reign with a book of matches.
"Andromeda, I was unaware you decided to come." She walked over to her sister to kiss her cheek. Once she did, she leaned in to whisper. "There will
"Irulan did not tell me this was your
affair," Andromeda whispered back. "I will be out of here as politely as possible."
Willow's eyes were wide. She had been standing close enough to Andy to hear the exchange.
"Astoria, dear," Queenie said. "Who's you little friend?"
Astoria could feel her mother's worry that she too preferred girls like Daphne. She giggled.
"This is Willow Rosenberg, Mother. Draco's friend. You might hear her referred to as the Dark One."
Willow gasped and looked at Astoria in horror.
"Of course you know Narcissa Malfoy, Wills. This is my mother Queenie Greengrass, and I do believe..." she paused to giggle. "You've met Blaise's mum, Calanthe. And that there is Pansy's mum Rosemarie. Ladies, I do believe you all know Irulan Purecraft and Andromeda Tonks. The charming Scot next to them is Branwyn MacDougal MacAren."
"Thank you, Madam Social Director," Andromeda muttered.
Narcissa closed her eyes in pain as six more chairs were added. She ignored the small movements as the women already seated scooted farther away from the newly added chairs. She took her seat next to Rosemarie and left an empty chair to her right. It was the least she could do to save one of the ladies the torment from sitting next to an uninvited guest.
Lucius was going to get a kick out of this.
"Well, now that the majority of introductions is completed, how would you ladies like your tea?"
Somehow Andromeda was manuvered into sitting next to her sister. She blamed Irulan, who was looking entirely too smug. Willow ended up sitting next to Calanthe. Astoria was next to her with Queenie on the other side.
"Surprise me," Irulan replied, eyes sparkling.
"I believe Mrs. Malfoy need not ask that of dear Andy," Astoria announced.
Willow kicked her under the table and Astoria grunted slightly. Andromeda gave Tori a look that could have peeled back paint.
Narcissa had to take another deep breath.
Calanthe looked over at Willow as she took a sip of her tea. "Willow, have you seen Blaise lately? I trust he hasn't run off again?"
"Oh yes. Just the other night he was in the infirmary after an incident. He's quiten all right. Mac carried him, but that's because he didn't want Theo to heal him."
Branwyn choked. "Mac carried him?"
"Your niece is quite strong," Astoria replied. "I like her."
Narcissa leaned over to Rosemarie. "Do us all a favor and hex me under the table."
Her friend chuckled. "This is the most exciting thing that's happened to me in a while. I'm inclined to let it play out."
"I disown you," she replied and Rosemarie chuckled again. "I'm happy to hear Blaise is all right. Draco hasn't caused such trouble, has he?"
"Well, he locked Pevensie in a crypt with a bunch of vampires," Astoria said. "But you knew that already. A better question would be - has Draco not caused any trouble?"
Willow tried not to snicker. "Don't listen to Tori. He's actually doing quite well."
"Have you seen Draco then, darling?" Queenie asked Astoria.
Tori rolled her eyes. "We're just friends, Mother. He has his eyes on someone else, as do I."
Narcissa perked up at that. It was about time Draco had his eyes on someone.
"Does Blaise have his eyes set on anyone?" Calanthe asked Astoria.
The question made Rosemarie frown. "What happened to Ella?"
Narcissa tried not to choke as she swallowed her tea and laughed at the same time.
"Did Ella enjoy her new haircut?" Astoria asked, nudging Willow.
"Blaise definitely has his eye on someone," Astoria continued.
"Is it you, dear?" Queenie asked.
"No," Astoria replied in an overly even tone. If her mother kept pushing, she was not only going to tell the woman where her eye was but her vagina too.
This certainly was not what she had in mind when she instigated this tea, but if it kept current company preoccupied and pleasant, she was more than willing to go with it. "Rose, how is Pansy?"
She received a look that told her Rosemarie knew exactly where she was getting at and was not amused. "She's still abroad discovering herself, whatever that means. I'm confident she'll return soon to start her family, but I'm willing to let her go off while she's still young."
She turned to Queenie. "How is your oldest, dear? Is she still abroad as well?"
Astoria started laughing. She could not help it. Pansy starting a family? HILARIOUS! Pansy had not even liked children when she was one.
Willow elbowed her.
"Yes," Queenie replied, glaring at her youngest. "Daphne is quite enjoying Berlin."
"I hope Pansy comes home," Willow said. "Draco's told me so much about her. I really would like to meet her."
Andromeda started laughing then, but covered with a discreet cough. Astoria was not so subtle. She cackled like a hyena.
Narcissa shook her head. "I think it would be a good thing. She could help keep Blaise and Draco in line. The boys both need it since they lack the positive female influence in their lives."
Willow and Astoria both bristled and looked at Narcissa.
Andromeda peered at her sister out of the corner of her eye. "Insult the crazy one with the temper and the dark witch in one go," she whispered out of the side of her mouth from behind her teacup. "Good show, little sister."
"Willow," Irulan said. "Don't you see Draco every day? Doesn't he live in the Council house with you?"
"Yes," Willow replied frostily.
Narcissa rolled her eyes. "And yet he has locked his ward in a crypt full of vampires. I did not mean to insult you, Willow. If he were to have a partner who was with him constantly, perhaps he would cease to be such an idiot."
"Draco's not an idiot," Astoria snapped.
"Easy there, Tori," Andy said. "Narcissa said she meant no offense."
"He's quite smart. Quite," Astoria went on as if Andromeda had not spoken. "He's doing very well. Pevensie adores him and he dotes on her like a big brother. You don't see the whole picture. He's lovely."
"Oh darling," Queenie said, placing a hand on her daughter's gloved one. "Of course you love him."
Astoria yanked her hand away. "Not like that. I'm actually better suited for Blaise. Draco's entirely too gentle for me, but as fate would have it, Blaise is into blondes now, and I am very content with Marcus Flint."
You could have heard a pin drop.
"Terribly discreet," Andromeda remarked after a moment.
Narcissa pinched the bridge of her nose. "Please do not encourage this, Andromeda."
"I find it refreshing, actually. I was merely remarking that there are better ways for Tori to tell her mother about her new beau."
"Marcus... Flint?" Queenie sputtered.
She was never having tea outside of the Manor wards again. "I wonder if this conversation would be better suited for the home, Queenie, and not in front of others
," Narcissa said firmly.
"I am perfectly willing to drop it for now," Astoria said. "So long as my mother knows that if she wants grandchildren, they'll all be Flints."
Astoria blinked in surprise.
"Oh. Well. I didn't... I didn't realize. Oh my. Must tell him, I suppose."
Willow nudged her. "Shhhh."
"I agree entirely with your sister, Cissa. This is refreshing," Calanthe said. Narcissa resisted the urge to hex her. Of course she found it refreshing. Calanthe reveled in chaos. It was where Blaise got the temptations to stir up trouble from.
"Yes, it is refreshing, but I'd rather it not be refreshing at my
"Willow," Irulan said. "Astoria mentioned Blaise and a blonde? I admit I am curious."
Then Willow swallowed nervously. She probably should have said she had no idea who they were talking about.
Calanthe peered over curiously. "Hannah? I'm not familiar with any woman named Hannah. Is she from England or Italy? Or is he branching out beyond his roots?"
Astoria's face took on her not-so-nice grin. "Hannah's English. She's delightfully pretty and works as the Council liaison. She's fond f unicorns and rainbows. Very sweet girl. Muggleborn. Blaise stayed with her when he was ousting you and Ella from his home."
Willow elbowed her. "Stop being rude."
"Oh dear," Rosemarie muttered, and Narcissa resisted doing the same.
Calanthe was still very adamant that Blaise only marry a pureblood, and she was as prejudiced against Muggleborns as the rest of them were. Calanthe was just much more vocal against it, but Blaise was more open minded considering his father's side had muggleborns married into it.
Narcissa tensed when Calanthe put her tea down and glared at Astoria. "You must be mistaken. My Blaise wouldn't dare think about dating, or even staying, with that sort."
"And I think you know all too well, madam, that I am rarely mistaken. Blaise has been doing quite a few things it was suspected he'd never do as of late, has he not?"
"Hannah's really very nice," Willow injected nervously. "She staked a vampire that had attacked Blaise when he went on a patrol with Draco and his slayer."
"And she's met Nonna and Alessandro, among others," Astoria continued, twisting the knife. "I do believe Nonna came to Hannah's home and cooked with her."
"Astoria..." Andromeda said in a warning tone.
"If anyone forgets," Narcissa began icily, "about my rules at the table, be it dinner or tea, I will show you exactly what a Black and the wife of a Malfoy is capable of."
The threat was aimed mostly at Calanthe, who Narcissa knew had drawn her wand out under the table, but also a warning if others decided they didn't like the turn in conversation. "If I wanted this to be a squabbling contest, I would have invited my entire social circle, and not a select few. I've considered myself to be gracious so far."
"Quite," Andromeda agreed, her tone going to ice. "Astoria, I know for a fact you have better manners, and Calanthe, Willow is not going to let you get a hex off and ruin Cissa's tea."
Willow could feel her heart racing slightly from the tension. It was mostly Astoria. She was dead angry at Blaise's mom for being a bigot. Willow could hear Astoria thoughts, feel them. She wanted Balise to be happy, and she knew right down to her inner eyes that Hannah could do that if Blaise would let her.
"We're in public, dear," Irulan said. "Center. Breathe. Relax, and Tori, cut it out. Now."
"Nana will be sorry she missed this," Branwyn commented.
Narcissa wanted to snap that she missed her chance since this would be the last time she held a private tea in a semi-public place. If only there was an excuse to cut the tea short.
A house elf came in and asked if they wanted any more scones or tea cakes, and the glare Narcissa sent it made the house elf back track so quickly it stumbled twice.
Willow only felt her eyes go black for a moment before she reigned herself in.
"I'm sorry," Willow said to Narcissa. "But Astoria's upset and sometimes when people get upset, I get upset. And you're upset, and I can feel that, and Blaise's mom is all upset, and I really wish she wouldn't be because Hannah is a lovely person. She could make Blaise happy, I think, and I worry about him because he's not happy, and I worry about Draco because he doesn't think he's worth anything and he so is. He, like, walked into Andy's house and saved me when I did not even know I wad drowning so bad."
She had just babbled. Big time.
Narcissa's eyebrow slowly went up. "Out of anyone, I believe I have the right to be upset, but I do wish that the others would calm down. I do not want you uncomfortable, Miss Rosenberg."
Andromeda snorted but covered that with a cough. Narcissa not wanting to make anyone uncomfortable? That was funny.
"Apologies," Astoria said. "I don't mean to fuss, but I do happen to have my father's temper. I care about Blaise and Draco as if they were my own brothers, and I, too, would like to see both of them nice and settled with babies of their own and such. Draco is going to be the best father, and Blaise is going to shine when it comes to scaring potential suitors."
"And I agree with you, Miss Greengrass, on all points," Narcissa conceded. "Shall we return to safer topics?"
"How is Mr. Flint doing these days, Astoria?" Calanthe asked innocently.
Narcissa dropped all pretenses and slammed her teacup down, disregarding Rosemarie's badly concealed laughter. It was a stab at her for publicly admonishing her in front of the other women, but it was a low blow.
"Very well," Astoria replied politely. "He works mostly nights, but I don't mind that so much. He allows me to stalk him. It's my favorite pastime. I could watch him for hours. Sometimes I do."
Willow smiled. She did like the tone Astoria's voice took when he spoke of Marcus. It was soft and caring, as if she really did love him. Willow could see that. She knew there was more to Marcus. It was all in the way he tolerated Pevensie. No one would was wholly bad would treat the girl like he did.
"You sound like Narcissa did in school around Lucius," Rosemarie chimed in, prompting a glare from her friend.
"I certainly did not stalk him."
"Of course you didn't."
To get the subject off of her, she turned to Willow. "What about you Willow? How is work in the Council? And how is that wonderful young woman Draco was pining over earlier this year?"
"Buffy? Oh she's good. Things have been picking up. It's like the nasties know we're here and are flocking to us. There's been a few zombie spottings, lots of vampires. There's a wolf pack, but they're mostly harmless these days. Buffy did nearly break something on Draco after he locked Pevensie in that crypt. Thankfully she didn't. Those two are like brother and sister now. You should hear them squabble. Especially about Andy and Giles."
Willow looked sheepish when Andromeda glared at her.
"Giles?" Queenie asked.
"Andromeda's boyfriend," Astoria supplied.
Narcissa nearly didn't stop herself from spitting out her tea. She looked at her sister in shock. "You have a boyfriend?"
"Yes, all right, yes. I have a boyfriend. He's a rather nice chap who likes Teddy. His surrogate daughter threatened to beat me to death with a shovel should I harm him. What? I can't have a life just because I happen to be a grandmother?"
She smirked. "Well, I can't speak for him, but I like his surrogate daughter. And I never said you couldn't have a life. It was sudden. I had no idea you were looking for another man."
"I wasn't. Rupert's been a friend for a while now."
"The surrogate is Buffy," Willow explained. "Giles takes care of all of us. We're family that way."
"Well, isn't that a coincidence," Narcissa said. "I really did hate that Buffy and Draco did not work out. Lucius would have come to like the woman once he discovered her violent side."
"Buffy's a slayer then, aye?" Branwyn asked. "She's the lead one?"
"She is," Willow said that. "Mrs. Malfoy has already been to the Council and Andromeda visits a lot."
"It's a very... interesting lifestyle they lead. Draco's rather proud that he's learning to physically assault people. Lucius has yet to visit, however."
Astoria started chuckling again.
"Draco's learning more than physical defense," Willow replied, going into teacher mode. "He's helping a young girl embrace a difficult destiny and training her to survive it. Draco is also actually quite good at research, and he's been spending a great deal of time helping the woman we hired to organize the library."
Astoria laughed harder.
"What is so funny?" Willow snapped at her.
"That is so not why Draco goes to the library."
Narcissa's eyebrow went up. "Well why else would he go into the library but to read books?"
"Why else, indeed," Astoria remarked cryptically before taking a sip of her tea.
"You know, darling, you're the only one who is amused when you behave like this," her mother said. "I will never understand why you just can not say what you mean."
"Oh like yo do? And where's the fun in that? I am not going to do all of people's work for them. Draco doesn't even know why he does it yet, but he will. He soon will."
Willow was frowning. "Well, that doesn't make any sense. The only thing in the library besides the books is..."
She looked at Astoria with wide eyes.
"Indeed," Astoria said again.
"I've decided I much rather like Draco's penchant for verbally destroying the English language when he speaks and reveals too much," Narcissa said firmly.
"Well, he won't speak of this," Astoria said. "Even he's unaware of it."
"Are you sure?" Willow asked. "I mean... you're really sure?"
"That he doesn't know or that he fancies her? Did you see how jealous he got when Blaise took her to lunch? He practically foamed at the mouth."
"But you weren't-"
"There? Your Darkness, I don't have to be. I radiates off of him like heat when he's jealous. If it could be bottled, he could power all of Muggle London with that jealousy of his. The best part is that he does not even know he's acting jealous. It's too adorable on him."
Narcissa looked between Astoria and Willow cautiously. "I do not know of what you two ladies speak, but here is a warning. Draco gets dangerous when jealous. Not just physically, but emotionally as well. I don't want my son's heart broken and if you keep playing games and that comes to pass, I'm afraid Daphne will be an only child."
"I would never," Astoria replied, gasping, honestly insulted that someone would think she would. "I could tell him, but he needs to figure it out. I don't do people's work for them. I give hints, but it's up to him to discover he has feelings there. He thinks it's inappropriate, and he makes her nervous - not his fault. It began with him very sweetly trying to make her not see him as part of her past."
"Sweet Merlin..." was all Andromeda could manage.
She had just realized who they were speaking of. Rupert had mentioned Luna Lovegood was organizing their library. Astoria was right. This could get complicated.
"Well the boy has it in his head that he is not suitable for a woman," Narcissa replied. "I hope he doesn't manage to muck this up."
"It's a bit more complicated than that, Cissa," Andromeda said. "Draco's always doubted his worth, but that's not the whole of it."
She rolled her eyes and finished off her nearly cold tea. "Of course it's complicated. It's Draco we're discussing. When has my son ever been not complicated?"
"Does Luna know?" Willow asked.
Astoria shook her head 'no'. "That makes it even more delicious."
"Luna? Luna Lovegood?" Irulan questioned. "Xeno's daughter? Oh that is
Her empty tea cup crashed to the table. Narcissa didn't know whether to laugh hysterically or just get up, leave, and never hold another tea again. She was going to have a horrible time when Lucius found out. She needed to make a point to talk to Draco about this.
Why couldn't he work things out with the violent young woman?
Astoria turned sharply to Narcissa. "You can not tell him. You just can't. He needs to discover this on his own. Otherwise, he'll go typically 'Draco' and muck it all up."
Andromeda leaned over, suddenly a bit worried about her sister. "Are you all right, Cissy?"
She was most certainly not all right. If things progressed, Lucius would need to be dealt with carefully so not to ruin things with Draco. Their relationship was already so much of a strain. "Of course, Andromeda," she replied, reverting back to her formal grace. "My tea just went cold, is all."
Willow leaned over to a nearby house elf. "Hi. Mrs. Malfoy has cold tea. Can we fix that? Thanks."
"I mean it," Astoria continued. "No one tells him. If I find out, and I will find out, I'll do something Slytherin drastic."
"Darling," her mother said. "Ladies don't make bold threats."
'Well, Mother, anyone who can put their legs behind her head like I can during sex, might not be all lady."
Andromeda closed her eyes in pain when Queenie Greengrass fainted and toppled from her chair.
While Calanthe laughed loudly, Narcissa gave up and stood from her chair, turning to leave. She had all she could take for one afternoon, society rules be damned.