Content Harry Potter Miscellaneous
  • Previous
  • Next

Chapter 20: Justice and Revenge

The bolt was drawn back and the door opened. They shielded their eyes, blinking, in the sudden light.

Sirius was first to recover, and stared at the figure revealed in the doorway.

"What are you doing here?" he said.


"I live here," said a cool, feminine voice. Its owner, slim and blonde, held a lighted wand in her hand. "Follow me."

The Pack traded looks. Remus made a small motion with his hand, and Sirius nodded, then led the way out of their dungeon.

Who… Danger began.

Narcissa Malfoy. Lucius’ wife. Sirius’ cousin.

Narcissa… feminine of Narcissus… which is not only a name…

But a flower. Indeed.

"I must commend your parenting skills, Sirius," Narcissa said as she led the way down the stone corridor. "The boy seems fearless, the girl nearly so. Where did you find her?"

"She belongs to Remus’ wife," Sirius answered, forestalling Danger with a lifted hand.

Danger gave a mental snort. Well, if he’s going to be rude about it —

He’s not being rude, he’s being prudent. These are treacherous waters, my love. Negotiations between pureblood wizards are known for being circuitous and filled with traps. Sirius grew up in this environment, he knows all the tricks — and he knows Narcissa. We don’t.

Point taken.

"Sirius," Remus said softly. Sirius looked over his shoulder without breaking stride. "You speak for us." He indicated himself and Danger.

"And for me," Aletha added in a similar tone.

"Voice of the Pack, eh?" Sirius gave a half-smile. "I’ll do my best."

They climbed a set of stairs and passed through an iron-bound wooden door, entering the main part of the manor house. It was vast and luxurious, decorated mostly in green and black, with serpents the main motif. Danger squared her shoulders and held her head high.

Make believe you’re brave, and the trick will take you far, she chanted in her mind. You may be as brave as you make believe you are.

Isn’t that a song?

Yes, but I can never remember the tune.

Remus seemed about to answer, but instead he stopped suddenly, turning his head to one side. I hear something.


It’s… the children.

"The children!"

"Yes, your children are safe. I will bring you where they are," Narcissa said distantly, ignoring Aletha’s sharp intake of breath. "And then we will speak."

"We will speak," Sirius responded, as if it were a ritual. Which it might well be, for all Danger knew.

Narcissa quickened her steps, seeming to respond to the Pack’s impatience, and turned swiftly into a room which had light spilling from it. Sirius and Aletha followed her in, Remus and Danger on their heels.

Harry and Hermione were sitting side by side on a leather couch, with a little boy who strongly favored Lucius Malfoy on Hermione’s other side and a book on her lap. They all looked up as the Pack entered, and the book went flying as Harry and Neenie dashed into their Pack-parents’ open arms. Aletha wrenched herself out of the general melee after a moment to hurry to a corner where a cradle sat, with a strange-looking creature standing by it.

House-elf, Danger identified from Remus’ memories as she hugged Harry close. Considered a lesser creature, source of unpaid labor, usually bound to old or rich wizarding families. The Malfoys being both of the above.

The boy must be Malfoy’s son. Drake? No, Draco. She gathered Neenie to herself, relinquishing Harry to Remus, and looked over her sister’s head at the boy. He was sitting on the couch, hugging his knees to his chest, watching the Pack’s reunion with a strange expression on his face.

I wonder what it is he wants so badly. The only thing that inspires that look on Harry or Neenie is cupcakes that aren’t cool enough to eat yet.

Sirius was holding Meghan now, with only one arm, because the other was around Aletha’s waist. Remus was loosening Harry’s arms around his neck, explaining patiently that people needed air to live. Danger felt Neenie shiver in her arms. "It’s all right, sweetheart," she breathed, stroking the little girl’s hair. "It’s all right now. We’re all together again. I love you."

"Love you," Neenie murmured, pressing herself closer as she did when she wanted to be picked up. Danger obliged, standing up with the girl in her arms as Remus did the same with Harry. Draco quickly vacated the couch, moving to a chair in the corner of the room.

Looks like an invitation to me. Danger sat down in the middle of the couch and rotated Hermione onto her lap. As she had expected, Neenie’s thumb was already in her mouth. Harry’s head rested on Remus’ shoulder as they joined the sisters. Aletha seated herself on Danger’s other side, Meghan in her arms.

Sirius sat down in the chair next to the couch, twin to Narcissa’s own, which faced them all from across the room. "We are ready," he said formally.

"As am I." Narcissa looked only at Sirius, as if the rest of the Pack didn’t exist.

Maybe, to her, we don’t. We’re not purebloods, after all.

"Sirius Black, my cousin, I greet you," Narcissa said.

"Narcissa Black Malfoy, my cousin, I greet you," Sirius answered. "You wish to speak with me."

"I do."

"Name the matter of speech."

"Business. Namely, a transaction between us, to our mutual benefit."

"I am willing to listen. Speak, if you will."

Narcissa hesitated. "I must speak of another matter first," she said. "A personal matter. An… outstanding wager between us, one might say."

"I was unaware any such existed."

"It was no formal affair, no money or goods were at stake. It was merely a difference of opinion we once spoke about, you and I."

Sirius let his hand dangle over the arm of the chair and made a fist, thumb inside, then transferred it out.

In Marauder sign-language, that means "What the hell is this person talking about?" Remus noted. We used to use that one a lot in class.

"Go on," Sirius said aloud.

"Once, when we were at school together, I stated my opinion that love was a fiction and a folly, and that no truly strong or pure wizard would allow himself to be tainted by it. You took exception to this, and we would have dueled, had we not been restrained by others."

I was one of those others. It took four people to keep them apart.

"I wish…" Narcissa hesitated. "I wish to apologize. I was wrong."

Sirius stared at her for one second, then recovered his aplomb. "Apology accepted," he said coolly, while opening his hand fully, then touching thumb and little finger together.

"This is one for the record books." I agree. Getting a Black to apologize for something, or admit to being wrong, is like getting crups and kneazles to be friends. Getting both is nothing short of a miracle. And about a subject like this…

Not what you were expecting?

No, to put it bluntly. Nor what Sirius is, I’m sure.

"I would ask, though," Sirius continued, "what brought about your change of heart."

Narcissa gestured to the corner of the room. Everyone turned to look.

Ah-ha. Of course.

"I never expected a child to change me," Narcissa said almost absently, looking at Draco, who shrank into himself slightly with all the attention. "My mother told me about the process, of course. She warned me about both the pain and the emotion that came with childbirth. I was prepared for the pain. For the emotion, I was not."

Sirius’ hand contorted oddly. It looked as if he were crossing all his fingers at once.

I’m not translating that one directly, but he thinks she’s lying.

No. She’s not. Danger’s thoughts came in a rush. "The flower truly speaks, O star/ Though from your thoughts her words are far." That’s what this is. She’s telling the truth. Remind him.

Remus cleared his throat. Sirius looked back at him, and he made the crossing-fingers gesture, then uncrossed them, extending all his fingers at once, and tapped Danger’s knee. Sirius looked at them for a moment, then nodded once and turned back to Narcissa.

"I was unprepared, as I say, for the… feeling which came to me on the birth of my son," Narcissa went on. "I would have given my life for him. I would have done anything for him. And gradually I began to realize that others felt this way as well… and that the feeling had a name, and that name was love."

She gave a short, humorless laugh. "I tried to deny it, then to fight it, but it was too late. I loved my son, and nothing in the world or beyond it could change that. Soon after I discovered this, the Dark Lord fell." She looked at Harry, half-dozing on Remus’ shoulder. "I lied, as all of our fraternity lied, lied to save myself."

"Your fraternity," said Sirius, his tone lingering between statement and question.

"The Death Eaters," Narcissa stated bluntly, and pulled up her left sleeve. Danger gasped and Aletha hissed under her breath at the sight of a faint marking on the pale skin — a skull with a serpent issuing from its mouth.

"Yes, I bear the Mark," Narcissa said evenly. "I took it willingly, gladly even. Before Draco was born. And I lied about that to the fools at the Ministry. Those who did not lie, went to Azkaban for it. Perhaps they will have their reward when the Dark Lord returns. For his own sake, Lucius was not willing to take that chance. For my child’s sake, neither was I."

"You did not dare leave him alone with his father," Sirius said, again letting his sentence trail away so that it was unclear whether he was asking for information or stating a fact.

Narcissa laughed again. "He has been alone with his father all his life," she said mirthlessly, toying with a scrap of parchment. "I dare not spend time with him. It is not the correct or expected thing for a woman in my position to care for her son. The house-elf can show him more affection than I." Shreds of parchment fluttered to the floor. "All that I can do is watch, and listen, and distract my husband before he can strike the boy more than once or twice…"

Narcissa’s face, which had been soft for a moment, hardened again. "Lucius is a fool. He guards against scrying-spells from outside the house, but not from inside. So I see everything that happens to my son. I saw what transpired between your children and mine." Her eyes flickered to the rest of the Pack. "And I heard what you spoke to one another, when you thought yourselves alone."

Remus cursed silently. Damn it, she knows about the prophecy!

Maybe, but I don’t think that’s what she’s talking about, Danger said, looking carefully at the other woman.

"We said much to one another," said Sirius, making the "what-the-hell" gesture again. "Words of comfort, mostly, nothing of interest."

"On the contrary, one thing which interested me greatly," Narcissa said, leaning forward. She looked directly at Danger. "You have prophetic dreams."

"I do," Danger admitted, meeting Narcissa’s pale green-gray eyes.

"You spoke rhyming lines from such a dream, which named a light and a flower. The light was called haughty, and the flower would bring him low." Narcissa turned back to Sirius. "I believe this dream speaks of my husband and myself. And I wish to fulfill it."

Silence filled the room for a moment.

"Do you have a plan?" Sirius asked finally.

"I do."

"Wait," said Aletha suddenly.

Narcissa looked at her oddly, as if just realizing she was there.

"I would hear, if you will tell us, what transpired between our children," Aletha said, stumbling slightly over the formal idiom but managing well enough.

Narcissa looked at Sirius, who nodded. "There is time enough," she said. "I will tell you. Your son and daughter — you consider them as such, I believe — were friendly and courteous to my son. They played with him, something no other child of his acquaintance has done. Most children Draco knows are very like him, half-spoiled, half-abused, and altogether unchildlike. Your children were, I believe, a good influence on him."

Harry, a good influence. Now that’s saying something. This Draco kid must really be a little monster.

As she said — half-spoiled, half-abused… Remus looked at the boy in question, who was curled into a tight ball in the armchair, obviously trying not to fall asleep. I feel sorry for him.

So do I.

"While they were with my son, your children accomplished three rather remarkable things," Narcissa was saying. "First, and probably by accident, they freed our house-elf."

"How?" Sirius asked, shooting a look at the little creature, who was standing rather nervously in the corner of the room.

"They were playing with a ball made of their knotted socks. Draco threw the ball and Dobby caught it."

That would do it. Accident or not.

"Second, they stopped my husband from harming Draco." Narcissa smiled, for the first time with something resembling humor. "They ran into him from the side. He lost his balance and struck his head against the mantel."

They were busy, weren’t they?

"Third, the boy displayed an ability I believe you are unaware of." Narcissa leaned back in her chair. "He is a Parselmouth."

Sirius actually jerked in surprise. Aletha made an unbelieving noise.

A Parselmouth? HARRY?

What’s that?

He can understand snakes, and speak to them in their own language. It’s very rare, it’s always been considered Dark — the founder of Slytherin House could do it, that’s why their symbol is a snake.


"I came upon them in the hallway after they had incapacitated my husband, the Potter boy having just managed to lock the door of Draco’s room by speaking in Parseltongue. I reopened the door, Stunned my husband, and brought the children here. Dobby told me, when I called him, that Draco had freed him, but he agreed to stay long enough to tend your daughter until you arrived."

"Thank you for your trouble, Dobby," Aletha said to the house-elf, smiling at him.

"Little mistress Meghan was no trouble," Dobby said shyly. "She is a good baby."

"Narcissa, you Stunned Lucius," Sirius said over this. "Why?"

"Because I did not wish him to wake and find me speaking peaceably to his enemies," Narcissa said in a use-your-mind tone. "Because I wish to transact business with you. If you would care to speak now of business."

"I would. What transaction do you propose?"

"A simple trade of services. To begin with, your freedom." Narcissa reached into a pocket of her robes and extracted four wands, displaying them briefly before returning them to the pocket. "I will then travel to the Ministry of Magic to provide proof that my husband was a willing servant of the Dark Lord. He should subsequently be arrested and sentenced to Azkaban, removing the threat he otherwise poses to you and your family."

"That would be a great service to us," Sirius said, waving his ring finger.

He thinks she’s got something up her sleeve, truth or not.

"What do you wish in return?"

Narcissa gave a slow smile. "I wish you to exact both justice and revenge on Lucius Malfoy. I wish you to take his greatest treasure and ruin it while saving it."

"You speak in riddles, Narcissa," Sirius said impatiently. "Use plain words."

Narcissa took a deep, trembling breath. "Plain words, then," she said. "Do to my fool of a husband what he planned to do to you. Take my son, Sirius. Take him and raise him as your own."

Another silence, this one longer than the last, blanketed the room.

"Lucius’ greatest love, besides himself, is his family line," Narcissa said, almost desperately, Danger thought. "You can end it, Sirius. Make Lucius the last Malfoy. Give Draco your name — our name — and make the house of Black great again."

"You desire greatness," Sirius said slowly, eyes fixed on Narcissa. "But no son of mine will ever be a Slytherin."

"So much the better," said Narcissa heatedly. "Teach him your ways, Sirius. Raise my son to be a Gryffindor. I watched him cower before his father, and I watched your children fight back, and I was ashamed. I want more for my son than I had — "

To everyone’s astonishment, Narcissa slid from her chair and fell gracefully onto her knees. "I beg of you," she said imploringly. "You remember, Sirius, you remember what our homes were like as children. I cannot bear the thought of my Draco in another place like this. I beg of you, give him a chance. Teach him what we were never taught. Teach him to love and be loved."

"I do not speak only for myself," Sirius said, his voice tight, as if he were holding something back. "I must consult with my — friends."

He had had to stop himself from saying ‘Pack,’ Danger suspected. She turned to Aletha. "What do you think?" she asked quietly, suspecting what the answer would be.

Aletha looked over at the sleeping Draco and shrugged. "Always room for one more, I guess." Her casual manner could not disguise her concern for the situation, and Danger knew that she had guessed correctly — Aletha, too, had wished there was something she could do for this child, and was not going to pass up this opportunity to truly make a difference.

You know my vote, Danger said silently. So two for, none against so far…

Three for. But Sirius speaks for us tonight. So the final decision is his. Remus made a series of signals to Sirius, who was watching the discussions carefully. Sirius nodded, then turned back to Narcissa, getting to his feet.

"We have spoken," he said deliberately, and reached his hand down to her. "It will be done. Your child will be our child, no less than any of the others. We will raise him in love and give him all he needs."

Narcissa slowly took the offered hand and rose to her feet with its help. "I have a contract prepared," she said, seeming almost in a daze. "So that you will be his legal guardians. Will you make it binding?"

Good Lord. Making something magically binding can mean signing in blood.

"I will," Sirius said.

"As will I." Aletha rose from her seat. "The boy will need a mother, after all."

Narcissa looked at Remus and Danger. "And you?" she asked.

What’s a little blood between friends? Danger asked rhetorically. She got up, laying Neenie on the couch, thumb still in mouth.

Harry roused as Remus stood up. "We go home soon?" he said sleepily.

"Soon, Harry-kins," Remus said, setting the boy gently down beside Hermione. "Soon."

The adults gathered around the desk, where Narcissa produced a parchment scroll and a sharp, black quill. She signed first, and Danger winced as every movement of the quill was reproduced on the back of Narcissa’s writing hand. Well, I suppose that’s one way to do it.

Sirius signed first, then Aletha. Remus took his turn, and Danger was last. Inwardly, she made a face. This is going to hurt.

It did, but it was over quickly, and the contract was complete. When the glistening signatures were dry, Narcissa rolled the scroll up and gave it to Sirius. "Dobby," she said over her shoulder. "Please wake Draco."

The house-elf scurried over to the corner and shook the boy by the shoulder. "Little master," he said in his squeaky voice. "Little master, you must wake up. Your mother wants you."

Draco roused at once, looking around with fear plain in his eyes.

No more fear, Danger wanted to tell him. You don't have to be afraid anymore. But she held her peace. This was Narcissa’s moment, not hers.

Narcissa knelt beside her son’s chair. "Tell me your full name," she said.

"Draco Regulus Malfoy," the boy recited, pronouncing the difficult names carefully.

"That was your name when you were born," Narcissa said, her voice smooth and utterly controlled. "But that is not your name now. Listen to me carefully. Your name is Draco Regulus Black. These men—" She gestured behind her, to Sirius and Remus. "They are fathers to you now. These women will be your mothers." Aletha and Danger smiled at Draco, who looked at them in confusion, then looked back at his mother.

"Do you like the children you played with today, Draco?" she asked him. He nodded timidly. "They are your brother and your sister now. You will never be lonely again. You will go far away from here, to live with them. You will be a good boy for your new family. Won’t you?"

It was obvious that Draco had understood almost nothing of this. "I be good," he said hesitantly. "I a’ways be good."

"I know you will," Narcissa said. "I—" Her voice broke. She dropped her face into her hands, shoulders shaking. Draco stared at her, bewildered.

After only a moment, Narcissa raised her head. "I will never see you again, Draco," she said very quietly. "Come here."

Draco slid from the chair and stood before his mother. She placed her hand on his head and stroked his hair, once, twice, three times. Then she rose and faced the Pack.

"Teach him to forget," she said. "When you bring him into the light, do not let him remember the darkness. Erase my name and my face from his memory. It will be easier."

"It would also be wrong," Remus said. "We teach the other children to remember the parents who loved them and made sacrifices for them. The name of Lucius Malfoy he will forget, but you he will remember, and honor you for doing right. As we do." He bowed his head to her. The rest of the Pack did the same.

"I thank you," Narcissa said formally, but Danger could see tears still shining in her eyes, tears the woman refused to shed.

The grandfather clock in the corner whirred, then chimed for half past the hour. The sound seemed to break Narcissa’s trance. "Take him now," she said, giving her son a slight push, so that he stumbled forward toward the Pack. "Take him and go. This fireplace will take you home. Fulfill your side of the bargain, and I shall fulfill mine."

"It is agreed," Sirius said, accepting the wand Narcissa handed to him.

She drew her own and touched its tip to his. "It is agreed," she echoed.

Remus took the rest of the wands from her and handed Aletha and Danger theirs. Danger pocketed hers and hefted the sleeping Hermione. Why is it that sleeping children are always twice as heavy as they are awake? Remus took Harry again, and Aletha was already holding Meghan.

So that leaves Sirius with Draco. Oh boy…

"Come here, Draco," Sirius said, going down on one knee. Draco did as he was told, warily, looking like a puppy unsure if it was going to be praised or kicked. "I’m going to pick you up. Understand?"

Draco nodded, but he still stiffened when Sirius put his hands under the boy’s arms and lifted him.

"You need to hold on to me," Sirius told him. "Put your arms around my neck. That’s right."

Narcissa turned away and left the room without another word.

Danger’s vision grayed for a moment, and she stumbled backward. Aletha moved to catch her with her free arm. Must be tireder than I thought.

"Was that you?" Remus asked, looking grave.

"Was what me?"

"You spoke."

"I don’t remember saying anything. What did I say?"

"The flower plucks itself; it withers even now," Sirius recited.

"Great, now I don’t even have to be asleep to be cryptic."

"We’re all half-asleep, I think," Aletha said. She looked at Meghan, then at Hermione and Harry. "Some of us more than others. Let’s finish this conversation at home, shall we?"

"Sounds like a good idea."

One by one, they stepped into the fire, called out "The Marauders’ Den!" and vanished.


Fragments of broken glass lay on the floor of Narcissa Malfoy’s bedroom. A blue liquid dripped from some of them.

There are poisons which act quickly, and poisons which do not. There are even poisons which give their victim a certain, measured term of life, twenty-four hours for instance.

Much can be done in twenty-four hours.

  • Previous
  • Next