Disclaimer: I own nothing and seek no profit from this story. JKR owns all things Harry Potter. No copyright infringement intended.
Feedback: Yes, please! It makes me all happy-like.Warnings:
Character Death, Angst.
Author's Notes: This story was inspired by the events of a Role-playing game I used to participate in. (The game has now disbanded.) The only things you absolutely have to know about the game's universe are as follows. This story is set in a very changed Wizarding world. Lucius Malfoy is presumed dead, though no one ever found his body. Draco was murdered, and the world Narcissa lives in is dark and lonely. She and Snape had a bit of a relationship for a while. That is all. :)
Thank you to Kaz and Houses for the beta. I appreciate it greatly.
It is snowing again, thought that is unsurprising. Early January is supposed to bring snow, or so history has proven. I sit alone in the parlor of Malfoy Manor watching it fall. The white, glistening powder sparkles under the moonlight, and part of me longs for a time long ago, when I was a girl, and I could walk through the snow slowly, kicking my feet. It was easy to play then. Covering Bellatrix or one of the others with snow and running off, laughing ... that sort of behavior came so naturally then. Sirius was very good at playing in the snow and, for all that he became, we did have fun as children.
It is easy to think of all of us as children, even now. Bella, Sirius, Regulus, myself; we were all together so often it was as if we were all siblings. Andromeda was always different, more so than even Sirius, choosing to do things in more Muggle-friendly ways than the rest of us. None of that mattered much, though, not when we were children. We were all equal then, and all of us were raised to be proper witches and wizards. I suppose it is no surprise that I turned out the way I did, though I have to wonder about a few of the others.
Children's games have been put away now, placed on a shelf inside my mind. In their place, of course, adult matters have taken up residence. Worries, cares ... time has taken it's toll. I learned very early that if one wishes to be seen as a proper lady, one does not frolic in the snow, no matter how inviting it looks, and I am, if nothing else, a proper lady.
I sigh, the sound seeming to echo off the walls, reminding me once more how alone I truly am. Lucius is gone. Draco is gone. Even the Dark Lord is gone. My entire world, the world Lucius and I worked together to build, is gone. And what am I left with? A glorious manor fit for royalty, an overflowing bank vault, and a tarnished reputation. But what of that matters? The reputation my name invokes has been tarnished for years in the eyes of the good
people of the world. Why does it bother me so that those I once called friends have all either scattered to the wind or passed on? Is it because they've left me alone to face the judgmental eyes of the rest of the Wizarding world? Is it because they've left me here, surrounded by a group of overly zealous children instead of taking me along? Perhaps, but it is the loneliness, the guilt, of being left alive when so many were not, that matters most.
I realize that all of my trials make me stronger in a way, yet it is a sad realization to know that the person I worked half my life to perfect doesn't exist any longer. She couldn't, not amongst all the changes. Change, however, is inevitable, unstoppable, and I do not pity myself. I do not want the pity of others, either. What I want is a purpose. A reason. A goal. I want a place in this new world. I want a life deserving of the woman I know myself to be.
Severus would have me by his side, would provide me a place in his world, should I ever lower myself to ask. He is not who I want, though, and he knows it. Just as I know I am not who he wants. A beautiful distraction was what he gave me in my pain, my grief. His friend, his Cricket, I remain, but I will not go to him again, and I know he will not come to me. My heart deserves more than he could give. We both deserve more. Perhaps even love.
Love. Such a novel idea. I wonder sometimes if my capacity to truly love died along side Lucius. Or perhaps it was with Draco. All I know is that I occasionally feel hollow inside, and no charm, no potion can make me feel alive.
I do have to wonder though, what my husband would think of the current state of the world. Part of me knows we would be presiding over it by now. Part of me wishes we were. Lucius would have loved the chaos that elbowed it's way into our lives after the Dark Lord fell. He would have used it, manipulated it. He would have taken his place, taken charge, and we would have prevailed. All of his secret dreams, all of my secret dreams, fulfilled.
A quiet pop alerts me to the fact that I am not alone. I look over and see a House Elf cowering in a corner and raise an eyebrow. "Yes?"
"Would the Misses care for tea?"
I scowl. "Did I send for tea?"
"Begging your pardon, Misses, but yous not asked for anything all day."
I close my eyes. I hadn't realized I've not eaten, but I don't let it concern me. There is always tomorrow, after all. The gall of the house elf, however, is another matter entirely. They have been properly trained. Lucius trained these himself. They should know not to be so bold. "When I care for something I will send for it."
The creature shifts nervously. I raise my hand, waving a dismissal before it can speak again, and I am alone once more. Rising, I leave the parlor and walk up the stairs. I am unready to go to bed, as I often am. Retiring alone to the bed Lucius and I shared for so long still stings, and I can barely stand to put myself through it. I should take Daphne up on her offer to stay at the Dark Lord's Manor with her, but I cannot bring myself to leave here again. Not even for the lovely rooms I've awaiting me there, away from the memories I'm surrounded by here. For if I leave my memories, what else do I have? The memories are all I have left.
I walk aimlessly and after a while, I end up, after a while, in Lucius' study. I often find myself here, gazing at his books, sitting at his desk. It reminds me, more than any other room, of the life he led. I stand over the desk, gazing at the polished wood, and reach out to run a finger over the things that were once his. A quill. An ink well. It is strange that such simple things can invoke such powerful memories.
It is not only Lucius I miss, of course. Seeing something of Draco's has the same effect on me. My son rarely leaves my thoughts, the gruesome way he died haunts me, as I fear it will forever. But it is Lucius' touch I crave, his kiss. Missing a child is a pain that never fades. Missing a husband ... that is an ache.
I sit at the desk and take up the quill, dipping it into the ink and placing it to parchment before I can actually truly think of what I'm doing. I blink for a moment, wondering at my intentions, before beginning to write. Tears come unbidden to my eyes, but I keep them at bay, focusing on the task at hand. Somehow I know this is something I simply must do.Dear Lucius,
By now I am sure you know you are dead. Your ghost does not haunt the halls of our home, and so I take comfort in knowing that you have found peace wherever you are. That is little comfort though, my love, for you are not at peace with me.
Our world has changed since you last saw it. For a time, we thought for the better, but we were wrong. The "Final" battle came as you always said it would, the Dark Lord facing Potter and, my darling, we prevailed. Potter fell along side his troublesome friends and Dumbledore. The Dark Lord reigned in terror for a while, but all good things must come to an end, or so they say. There were two boys mentioned in that prophecy. Did you know that? Of course you did. Ironic isn't it, love? That a clumsy, fool of a boy like Neville Longbottom would become the savior of the Wizarding world?
The Dark Lord fell and took with him our entire way of life. I am surrounded now by young idiots with grand ideals but no real means of achieving anything. They are young, foolhardy, and impulsive. With the right guidance, I know they could become quite the tool, but with no one to lead them ... I fear they will never amount to much. Had you survived that first battle, my love, I've no doubt things would be very different now.
Malfoy would not be a name to be pitied. It would not be a name associated with a supposedly broken line and a woman left alone. Malfoy would once again be a name to be feared and respected by all.
Isn't that what you always wanted, love?
Time moves on, though, or so I'm told. Winter has come again, and the earth is frozen. I long for your warmth, Lucius. I wake in the night reaching for you, and I know that I always will. The memories I have of your touch, of our love, feed my dreams. There are nights I swear I can feel you, your body pressing into me, your lips on my skin. There are moments I can taste your kiss, hear your sigh, feel you within me. And though I know it is simply my mind playing tricks on me, I cannot help but revel in those brief sensations. It is then, Lucius, that I can feel close to you again.
They never found your body. All they brought back to me was that damn cane of yours. That cane to serve as a reminder of all I had and all I will never have again. It is not enough. It will never be enough. I am yours, love, and forever will be.
Remember me, remember our love, wherever you are, and hold tight to the faith that we will be together again someday. Faith is all I have left now, but perhaps ... perhaps it is enough.
All of my love,
The room is silent as I finish writing and place the quill down on the desk. Folding the letter carefully, I press it to my heart briefly before addressing it to a man who will never read it.
I close my eyes. "I have asked you not to speak to me."
"You are crying, my love."
It is only then that I realize he is right. My hands rise to my cheeks and I wipe away the tears before turning. "Still, I have asked you not to speak to me."
"I may be nothing more than a painting to you, but I hold his memories. Our memories. You are still my wife, and I cannot bear to see you like this."
"My husband is dead. I am no one's wife."
The painted eyes that have always seemed entirely too lifelike soften, sadden even, and I want to look away. I cannot bring myself to tear my gaze away from his, as I am drawn to his face. His beautiful, perfect face. My Lucius. I feel the tears begin to fill my eyes again and hate that I've been reduced to such a ... failure. He reaches out, his hand stopped by the barrier of canvas, and says softly, "You must take care of yourself. The other paintings all tell me you've not eaten in days."
"Lucius, please! Don't you understand how painful this is for me? To hear your voice, to see your face, and know that it's not actually you? Please, just don't speak to me."
He nods and is silent for a long moment. "I will do as you wish, as long as you do one thing for me."
A single tear slips down my cheek. "I would do anything for you, Lucius. You know that."
My voice is soft but I know he hears me because his other hand joins the first, as if he thinks he can push his way out of the portrait. "Eat," he says. "Take care of yourself. For me."
I nod slowly. "I will try."
I shake my head. I've given him all that I can for the moment. I cannot bear this anymore. "Goodnight, Lucius."
I leave the room much more quickly than a lady should, but I care not. It is only when I am halfway down the hall that I realize I still have the letter I wrote to my husband clutched in my hand. I look at it for a long moment before walking purposefully down the hall. I must finish what I began.
Ten minutes later, bundled in my warmest cloak, I stand in the snow next to the marker others call Lucius' grave. Kneeling beside it, I kiss the stone even though I know he's not there. Brushing away the snow, I place the letter on the headstone, my hand lingering over the parchment a moment longer than necessary.
Rising slowly, I allow my eyes to linger first on Draco's grave and then again at Lucius' marker. My boy. My husband. How I miss you both. How I wish you were both still here, by my side, facing the world. How I wish I was not alone.
I place Lucius' cane in the snow next to his headstone and turn to walk away. It is time to get back. I have my life to lead, after all. Still though, I can't help but look back one more time.
"All my love," I whisper. "All my love."