Title: Call It Whatever You Want
Disclaimer: I own no one, all
belongs to JK Rowling.
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There was a piano, in number 12, Grimmauld Place. Old, mahogany, a grand
piano set at the corner of the day parlour, it’s windows wide and overlooking
an unkempt back garden with a large willow. The keys were yellowed ivory and
smoothed with age, but when her fingers trailed over them, the lightest of
touches elicited a note of purest music. She sat down on the stool and held her
hands in the traditional way, fingers resting lightly on the keys, bent; then
they started to move. Chopin filled the room, strains of his Prelude in E Minor
causing heartbreak to anyone that heard it being played, and she sat with her
head bent, strands of long, dark hair setting a contrast to the yellow-white
keys. The hem of her robes flowed on stylish and careful lines to the ground,
just touching, royal blue and dark mahogany complementing. When the final notes
rose to it’s final crescendo, then ended in a throbbing, silent echo in the
room, she sat still, her spine straight and her hands in her lap.
belong in front of a piano.”
didn’t acknowledge his presence, just raised her hands again and played another
piece by Chopin. Prelude in B Minor. These days, only the minor keys appealed
to her, their solemn, sad tones complementing the mood she found herself in.
Cheerless. Her fingers moved over the keys effortlessly, smoothly, not needing
the music, the tone living forever in her mind. Fingers light as air and heavy
as death danced on yellow ivory, coaxing anguish filled beauty to fill the
stillness of the room. Eventually, that too had to end and she sat once more
with her hands in her lap, her back straight and staring straight ahead. She
felt, rather than heard, the man walking towards her, and when she felt the
hand resting on her shoulder, she merely turned her head solemnly and looked up
at the familiar, lined face.
been two years, Andromeda.” The woman shook her head, blue eyes suddenly filled
with tears, shimmering in the half light of the dusk sun filtering in through
the French windows. Still, the tears didn’t fall and not so much as a whimper
escaped her throat.
“I stillcan’t cry
,” she whispered, her voice
breaking. “He’s gone, and I know he’s gone… but I can’t cry.”
not your fault.” The tone was pleading, almost. He, who never plead, plead with
her as his mouth tightened. “It was never your fault, Andromeda. You couldn’t
have known, you of all people could never have known.”
I should have, Sev.” The eyes still shone, still shimmered in the half-light.
“He was my cousin
. I should have done better by him. Instead I… I abandoned
him to her
she was your sister. Nothing you could have done about it, nothing at all.
Bella has always been mad, and I fear Azkaban has not improved her disposition
much, if at all. ‘Meda, please. Don’t blame yourself.”
should listen to what Sev says, sister. The man makes all kinds of sense, for
one I once thought incredibly stupid.” Andromeda turned her head to see her
fair haired sister walking towards them. No, walking was not the right word for
what Cissa managed to do. Gliding was more of an accurate word for it. Severus
scowled at the woman, but Cissa merely smirked at the man, before turning back
to Andromeda. “If anyone should blame themselves, it would be me. I should have
known, but I didn’t. I, who was the wife of Lucius Malfoy, should have known.”
Severus inquired, politely. Narcissa shot him a scathing glance, then sighed
when she saw Andromeda’s look.
Ministry has approved my appeal for a divorce. I am no longer Narcissa Malfoy,
but Narcissa Black. As my son is, as of yet, not yet eighteen, I am the keeper
of his fortune, that he has inherited from his father, may his body and mind
rot in Azkaban.”
Andromeda admonished, quietly. Narcissa made a big show of sighing, then raised
one slim shoulder in an elegant shrug.
couldn’t think of a worse insult. In my defence, I am tired.”
was wondering why you were so out of your game today,” Andromeda smirked.
Narcissa scowled at her, then shook her head.
suspect that the reason why I am siblings to you, dearest one, is because I committed
some hideous crime in my past life.” She paused, contemplating what she said.
“I really wish I knew what that hideous crime was, though. It might be useful
for me to try out on Lucius… if he thinks to escape.”
Malfoy will hurt you or your son over my dead body,” Severus snapped. Then he
halted, when he noticed the identical looks of raised eyebrowed disbelief. And
amusement, on Andromeda’s case. “I grew attached to the boy. One has to, if one
wants to escape one’s captivity with him with one’s mind intact. And with one’s
conscience clean of the guilt of murder.”
is certainly wordy today,
?” Narcissa mocked. Severus
raised an eyebrow at her, and chose to answer that impertinent comment only
with dignified silence. Narcissa let out a breath in a huff. Really, the man
was quite the irritant. He couldn’t even react as expected. Damn his hide,
anyway. She had enough of difficult males. She had been married to one for
twenty years, and had given birth to one 17 and-a-half years ago. Not to
mention she was brought up by a difficult male. It was a good thing she was a
difficult woman, or else she might have been cowed by the men in her life. No
such luck, as her hus…her ex
used to lament.
be nice to Severus. He’s a friend of mine.”
I?” She sighed at Andromeda’s unamused look. “I’ll attempt civility.”
the only thing I’ve ever been able to hope from you anyway.”
would resent that remark if I didn’t know how true that statement was,”
Narcissa smirked. Then she smiled softly to her sister. “Were you playing,
before? I heard music, but it ended before I made an appearance. It’s been too
long since last I heard you play.”
close to that, yes,” Narcissa agreed. “Certainly it was before Draco’s birth.
Lucius didn’t want me associating with a woman who had shamed her family as
thoroughly as you had, ours.”
words, sister, or yours?” Narcissa snorted.
me better credit. His, for poor originality. I think he must have been gifted
with a book, some course of his life. They rather follow the same thread.”
“What,Evil For Dummies
?” At Narcissa and
Severus’ blank looks, Andromeda sighed. “Never mind. Muggle reference.”
of the muggle… how is your husband?”
missed the funeral, then.”
alright, I didn’t send you an invitation.”
were always impertinent.”
were always spoilt.”
gift to your life,” Narcissa raised her hand to examine perfectly filed nails.
Then she looked up to lock eyes with Andromeda. “I’m sorry for your loss. I
know you loved him.”
you dare pity
me,” Andromeda hissed,
suddenly. With a few quick steps, she stood in front of Narcissa, quivering
with rage. “Don’t you dare pity me or mine. We were dealt with a blow, but we
survived. We don’t need your pity.”
wasn’t giving you, it,” Narcissa said, coolly. Her expression was carefully
blank. “I was merely offering my condolences. And I was told it was polite to
do so at a close loss.”
never bothered to uphold etiquette before. I don’t suspect you to, now.”
and time change, sister. Even I. I was married to a Malfoy after all, was I
not?” It was Andromeda’s turn to snort.
With a sigh, she seemed to shrink and her rage subsided. She looked sheepishly
on to her sister. “I apologise for my outburst. It was undignified.”
when have Orion Black’s children been dignified?”
enough.” Andromeda looked to her sister, thoughtful. “Do you still sing?”
What do you have in mind?”
were always good at words, Cissa. Sing us a song.”
if you play for me.”
I have it any other way?” The sisters looked cautiously, carefully fond at each
other. Andromeda sat herself down on the piano stool and positioned her hands,
carefully. She looked up at Narcissa for a beat, then began to play. It was a
soaring melody, with dips and rises that hinted at gloriousness, of sadness and
happiness as well. Loss and gain and of past and future. Then Narcissa opened
her mouth and sang, sang of a dark haired man with his laughing blue eyes, sang
of a man who spent his life the outcast of his family for being sorted into
Gryffindor. She sang of a man she considered the only of a few that were worth
a damn and she sang of his loss and his grief and his end. This song was her,
tribute to their wayward
cousin, whom by some ironic and evil fate fell by the hands of their own
sister. Of his own flesh and blood, the girl whom he had played with as a
child. His best friend. She sang for him, for her, and for their family and she
sang about how she wished things were different, that people were different.
She sang of her hopes in a voice that should have sounded as clear and sweet as
an angel’s, yet was sultry and hinted of dark things. Severus stood, forgotten
and enthralled as he heard the sisters, watched as Andromeda’s fingers flew
across the keyboard and heard as the heartbreak of Narcissa’s voice teased in
him emotion he had long since forgotten were there. When it ended, there was a
moment of perfect and utter still silence… before the heavy and solemn claps
filled in the air.
forgotten you had quite the voice on you,” Severus said, softly. “You used to
sing… in the Slytherin Common Room. If they asked you to. You’d be very coy
about it, too. But you always wowed them all.”
never think you would remember that.”
Because I skulk around corners and scowl and make a general nuisance of myself?
Because I buried myself in my work and in my hopelessness and in my
unpopularity? Because I sank myself deeper into the recesses of my blackened,
soulless self to cease the pain I never showed at the teasing?” A corner of his
mouth lifted self-mockingly. “I was still a boy, Narcissa. I still felt. I
still noticed a charming girl with a beautiful voice and cold eyes. I was not
as oblivious as most believe me to be.”
were always good at pretending, though.”
we all?” They stared at each other something fierce, both not breaking the hold
on their gazes, each seemingly trying to pass the other some silent message
they refused to listen to. Andromeda let out a silent sigh. It was always so
with the two of them, they baited each other constantly and glared and scowled
and sneered… then one or the other would say something of incredible insight
about the other… and they would ignore it. It was most taxing, what they did.
There were times she felt she could do her head in by watching them: her sister
and the man she called her best friend. If they were not so stubborn, they
would discover what she had always known.
make us some tea, then. You don’t need to help.” She said quickly to Narcissa.
Then she turned to Severus. “Or you. I can manage it by myself perfectly fine.”
With that, she nodded, then left them alone.
awfully subtle, isn’t she?”
doesn’t mean to be,” Narcissa sighed. Then she turned to Severus. “I know she
thinks me, thinks us, stupid. Are we, Sev?”
done so for so long that I know not what I should think of, now. You gave me a revelation,
today,” he said, quietly. “Something I have wished for for far too long… yet
now I have it, I wonder if it’s right.”
if you coveted for so long… that it should. That it is. Right, that is,” she
said, quietly. He sighed.
difficult we make our lives, Cissa. Maybe Andromeda is right.”
does have that annoying habit,” Narcissa said, rather wryly. Then she sighed.
“How should we proceed? As usual or…?”
should I take the chance? On you?”
me?” she laughed. “Perhaps you would be best off not.”
are far too hard on yourself.”
speak only truth.”
maybe not.” Severus walked forwards towards her, then stopped just as he was a
hairsbreadth away from her. He raised a hand to her cheek, as though to brush
it, then he lingered it there, above her cheek and stroking air. “I always
looked upon this face. All the time, in school. Any spare moment I had. I
always wondered if Lucius’ initial attraction to you was due to your own merits
or due to his knowledge of what went on in my head as I heard you sing and
laugh and talk.”
what,” she said, oh so softly. “What did you think?”
no thing on earth could make me feel as you when you sing. When you smile and
dance and scream. And when you sneer. I think that of no other woman, none but
you. And I speak of it rarely so.”
I rarely speak when I am spoken to. Few and far between hear my own views. The
others were pomp and show, to make my parents love me, believe in me. But I
spoke to you, even though they were in sneering terms. You were never below me,
and you certainly aren’t, either.” His mouth curved, just slightly.
that an invitation, Cissa?” he said, and his voice, so quiet, so soft and so
suddenly bare and vulnerable that she knew not of how to act. She tilted her
head back to look at him, to study that face with it’s too-large nose, those
lips that could curve into the most cynical of smiles or coldest of sneers. She
raised a hand, her fingertips tracing gently over the lines imbedded upon the
corners of his eyes and she smoothed her fingertips down towards his cheek,
finally tracing his lips. She stared fixedly at the movement of her hand, as if
entranced by what they were doing, as if they had a life of their own. Severus
stilled her hands with his own, but held it there just at his lips, before
moving them in the slightest of gestures. He opened his mouth, just slightly,
then closed it again in what could be the lightest touch of a kiss.
don’t know what it is,” she said, quietly. “All I know is that we’ve gone too
far, too long. All I know is that I knew that you never truly gave your heart
to the Dark Lord’s cause… and yet you stayed. You’ve been playing both sides,
Severus. It’s a dangerous game. And I… I…” she faltered, looking away for the
first time. He moved his hand to her chin and held it with just the lightest of
pressures but he found her reacting to his touch and turning her face, albeit
reluctantly towards him.
you…” he repeated, softly. She blew out a breath explosively and he found
himself with her hands cupping his face, firmly. She pulled him down so that he
looked at her eye to eye and her eyes snapped, her mouth was tight.
I find myself not liking that image very much,” she said, fiercely. “I find that
the thought of you hurt, somewhere… I can’t imagine that. I can’t imagine you
not in my life in any way. But I do not know if I can give you what you would
want from me.”
what would I want?” he asked, quietly. She let go of him and turned away. She
was breathing harshly, her shoulders rising and falling with her breaths and
that glorious hair of hers covered her face from view. “Tell me, Cissa. What
would I want?”
, Severus,” she said, so softly that
at first he thought he had imagined her response. “A wife, a person who would
bear your children, who would be your companion forever more, and bound to you
by love and law. A person I am not willing, not able to be for you. I’m too
only thirty eight, Cissa,” Severus sounded faintly amused. “That’s hardly old.”
also not the point, Severus,” she said, mild irritation clouding her tone, now.
She shook her head. “I’ve only escape one imprisonment. I.. I don’t want to go
back to that.”
to me will hardly be an imprisonment, Cissa,” Severus said, mildly. “I really
should be insulted.”
will you stop sounding so condescending!” she cried out, irritably. “I’m
suitably worried and worked up over this, the least you could do is be
dear,” he sounded apologetic, but there was still a hint of a smile in his
tone. She looked at him suspiciously, but turned back to more important things.
adore you, Sev, but if I’m with a man just as I was with Lucius I will hate you
and I will loathe you and I will not be happy for the rest of my life. Can’t
you see that?”
of all, love,” there was a strange tenderness in his tone. “I am not Lucius
Malfoy. And the fact that you said the possibility of our marriage and his name
in the same sentence without a negative does wonders for my far too large ego.
Secondly…Secondly,” here he strode to her and turned her to face him, tipped
her chin to lift her face to his. “Secondly… I can wait. I don’t want children,
Narcissa. Not if you don’t want to. I’ll have Draco, and he’s already a handful
by himself. God forbid another child. And I do want you as a companion. As a
person by my side… but only if you so wish. I will not force you into anything,
dearest. I refuse to. And so will you. I will wait
, Cissa. Until you are ready, I will wait. Because I am patient
and I have waited long enough. As long as I have you… it will not matter
she felt like crying. She did, the tears brimming in her eyes. He brushed at a
stray tear with his thumb, and she started crying harder.
woman. I abhor crying females. Must you wail on, so? You remind me of a wet
cat. Do cease with your caterwauling.” Narcissa couldn’t help but laugh.
ever romantic.” She herself on her tip toes and kissed him, harshly.
Passionately. She kissed him with all her repressed feelings, with everything
that she had in her. She kissed him like she was making up for lost time. When
they finally pulled free from each other, both were breathing, hard. Her eyes
were wide with wonder. “If I knew it was to be like that… I might have done so
might have I.”
you still have me? Despite my being an idiot.” He smiled at that.
my idiot. And you always have been.” She let out a strangled laugh before she
launched herself at him again. This time, what broke them off was Andromeda’s
leave a couple for a few minutes…” she was grinning madly, though. “Tea’s
ready. You having some?”
looked at Severus, then at her sister. She slipped her hand in his and nodded.
“Yes… maybe we shall.”
thing I made enough, then.”