Fandom: Harry Potter
Word Count: 4.928
Disclaimer: I, unfortunately, do not own anything.
Characters/Pairings: Narcissa Malfoy, Andromeda Tonks; Narcissa/Lucius
Warnings Post-war; mentions of happenings during the war and canon character deaths
Summary: Months since the war's ending have passed and it's become Christmas in Great Britain, faster than any of the Black sisters noticed. Both Narcissa and Andromeda aren't ready for Christmas yet, not after what happened, not without snow. But still, they move on and celebrate Christmas Eve, apart form each other, both in their very own ways.
Author's Note: First of all, a huge thank you to my lovely artist Caitriona caitriona_3 for the wonderful artwork. Then, of course, another thank you to my eternally wonderful Beta damianjblack. ♥
Link to art master post: Snow; Artowrk by Caitriona
The past months had been like a dream to her. A dream? Or a nightmare? She did not know. She’d lived her life as if she’d gone into a trance, barely realizing what she did, barely realizing what happened around her. She’d become a doll, a puppet on a string, free of emotion, free of will.
Winter had come faster than Narcissa had noticed, it had become freezing outside; tightly she wrapped her arms around her body, shivering with cold. She quickened her pace, her eyes focused straight on the street. Narcissa knew very well who lived in the house she’d just passed by, couldn’t suppress a wince. No. No, she wouldn’t want to spend a single thought on her, not at the moment. But wasn’t it Christmas? Wasn’t it time to forgive her, especially now that Bella was dead, wasn’t it time to-
She knew what had happened to her, could only imagine how much pain all these events, all these losses must have caused her, even more than herself, how lonely she had to be. And… Didn’t she miss her? Didn’t Narcissa miss her, didn’t she-
Stop it, she told herself in her thoughts, shaking her head. Of course she missed her. Of course she missed Andromeda, more than she dared to admit, but what could she do? Times had changed; they weren't girls any more. They’d grown up, lived their own lives apart from each other. Narcissa had her own problems, wouldn't want to put even more weight on herself, not now, not so shortly after the war.
The war. Merlin, had it really been so long already? So many months had gone by and she’d barely noticed they’d passed. To her, it was still summer, to her they were still in Hogwarts, standing there, watching people fight, watching people die.
They were alive.
They all were still alive! Her, Draco, even Lucius. So why couldn’t they just move on? Move on and forget about all this, forget about the war, about what had happened during all these years of fighting, of struggling to survive. Even now she still dreamed. Would still dream, see them dead, all of them, would still see their lifeless bodies right before her eyes if she’d not taken her potion for the night. The war had left its mark on her, had left its mark on all of them.
Even if the healing process had begun, it would still take many years until everything would be all right again. But would it really be all right? Would time really be able to fix what the war had broken? She did not know. Did not know anything. For now, all that mattered was that they were alive. That they all were alive.
Finally Narcissa reached her home. It had already become dark, even colder than only a few minutes before. She did not know how long she’d been out, nor did she know where she’d gone. She liked to go for long walks, had always enjoyed being outside in the fresh air, alone with her thoughts, with no one bothering her. She’d walked where her feet had taken her, not caring about anything.
For a moment she looked up to the sky, up to the clouds that were covering the stars, unable to suppress a quiet sigh. It had not snowed for such a long time, hadn’t even rained for several weeks. She missed snow, to be honest, couldn’t describe how much she loved looking out of the window, seeing the streets turn white within only a few hours. White, clean, bright… The entire world would changed when it snowed, would be cleaned from all the past happenings, all sins would be washed away all at once, people would forget about anything that had happened. But now? Now? Would people still be able to forget about what had happened? Would it even be possible to clean the world from these terrible memories?
A voice, more than just familiar to her, interrupted her thoughts and made her turn around. Again she winced as she felt Lucius’ hand on her shoulder. He smiled at her, a gentle, warm smile like back then in their time at school when they’d just discovered their love for each other.
“I’m glad you’re back,” he said to her, placing a gentle kiss on her neck. “I was beginning to worry.”
Narcissa wouldn’t reply. She’d never spoken much, but during the past few months she’d barely opened her mouth. She knew that Lucius would always understand her, even without words. He always had.
He’d changed, too, over the years, just like they all had. While the mark on his arm had faded away, the ones on his soul wouldn’t be as easy to remove. The events had taken their toll on him, especially Azkaban, although he’d only been there for just a few months. But he’d become thin, pale, with dark circles around his eyes. Narcissa knew that, even if he’d not dare to speak it out, nightmares were haunting him.
They never talked about what had happened, of course they didn’t, would only try to forget about it, or to at least block it out. Narcissa frowned as she suddenly heard a peal of bells from far away, closed her eyes for a moment, but before she was even able to determine the direction the noise had come form, it’d become silent. Perhaps it had only been her imagination, trying to fool her.
Christmas. It really was Christmas already. The war was over; they were alive… It would be lonely holidays this year since Draco had chosen to celebrate with friends rather than his parents, but neither her nor Lucius had objected to it. They both knew that spending time with his friends would keep their son distracted, and under these circumstances they’d not force him to stay at home, suffocated by the gloomy atmosphere the house seemed to exude since he had held his meetings in their drawing room.
“It’s going to be like in old times, my love,” Lucius said while he lead her back inside, again kissing her, this time on the cheek. “Just the two of us.”
Slowly she nodded, turned her head to look at him, would even smile, for the first time after over a year. Like in old times… How much had they enjoyed celebrating Christmas together, alone, without any members of their families, what a wonderful time had they had back then, when they’d still been young and foolish.
“Can you believe it’s Christmas already?” he asked her, causing her to shake her head.
“No,” she replied quietly, still looking at him, looking deeply into his eyes. His beautiful, grey eyes… They’d lost their glow over the years; just like her own had lost theirs. She’d give everything to bring the shine in his eyes back, to be able to make him look at her with the same passion, the same love he’d looked at her before the wars. But these times were long gone; she shouldn’t dwell on the past, should finally accept that she was unable to turn back time, unable to undo things she regretted more than anything else. But why, why was it so hard to start living in today’s world, why couldn’t she face her life like she was supposed to face it?
“It… It feels like it’s only been yesterday.”
Lucius sighed, the expression on his face had changed within only a few seconds. Now it was him to look at her, to almost fix his gaze on her. He seemed worried as he opened his mouth to speak but closed it again only a second later as if he’d forgotten what he’d been intending to say.
“It’s over, Cissy,” he finally said, after minutes of silence seemed to have passed. “It’s over and we are alive. That’s what matters.”
“That’s what matters,” Narcissa repeated quietly, nodded, almost like a machine. For a moment she closed her eyes as they headed up the stairs, sighed like she’d sighed so often during the past years.
He’s right, a voice told her in her head. He’s right, Narcissa. It’s over. You’re alive. That’s what matters.
Of course he was right. How could Narcissa ever doubt him, of course he was right! But it was so hard, so incredibly hard, so incredibly difficult, not only for her, but for all of them. It all sounded so easy: move on, forget about the past, don’t think about what happened, especially not about how you saw your sister die. But it was not easy, no, not at all. Everyone who’d experienced anything similar would be able to understand her.
“What’s the time?” she asked absent-mindedly as they reached their bedroom, as she had a brief look at the mirror. She barely recognized herself, looked at her reflection as if she saw a stranger, staring back at her, holding her gaze. Had she really changed that much?
“Half past twelve,” Lucius replied. “You’ve been out the entire day.”
Half past twelve. Half past twelve… Narcissa had not even realized how long she’d walked. Slowly she shook her head, sinking down to the bed after she’d put on her nightgown. All of a sudden tiredness seemed to overwhelm her; it would cost her a great effort to get up again, to head for the bathroom. Lucius followed her only a minute later, now looking tired as well. He’d waited for her the entire evening. He’d actually waited for her.
Lucius was obviously confused as Narcissa sank down to a chair at her desk when they returned to their bedroom. Even she hadn’t noticed what she’d done until she found herself reaching for her quill.
“What are you doing?” he asked her, but like so often she didn't reply. Quickly her hands flew over the parchment, writing down only a single sentence. Narcissa wouldn’t even have to look up the address; rose, only short time after she’d sat down, and opened her window. As if it had read her mind, a beautiful black barn owl gracefully landed on her arm seconds later; and disappeared as soon as Narcissa had attached the letter to its leg.
Her husband still frowned as she finally sank down to their bed, placing a gentle kiss on his forehead. She reached out her hand for the tiny phial lying on her bedside locker, didn't even look at the purple liquid it was filled with as she emptied it at a stroke. Slowly she turned her head to look at him one last time, to carefully remove a thick strand of blond hair form his face.
“Good night, Lucius,” she whispered into his ear, her hand searching for his. She liked feeling his skin against her own, liked falling asleep hand in hand with the man she loved more than she loved herself. Nothing would ever be able to change her feelings for him, not even a war, not even himself. Of course he’d mistakes, they both had made mistakes, but what had really mattered was that they’d always had each other; that they’d been able to trust each other, no matter about what had happened.
The potion would make an impact soon, she’d hardly swallowed and she found herself unable to keep her eyes any longer.
“Good night, darling,” Lucius replied, as quietly as her. She felt his thumb stroke over her back of the hand, slowly, gently, before sleep would finally overwhelm her.
He woke her up with a kiss. Slowly Narcissa opened her eyes, unable even to realize where she was for a moment. She knew she’d not slept long, only for about an hour, maybe two. With a quiet sigh she sat up in her bed, blinking a few times before she saw Lucius right before her, looking at her, smiling at her. Softly he stroked over her skin, kissing her again, a long, gentle kiss on her lips.
“I’m sorry I woke you, my love,” he whispered into her ear. “It’s only three in the morning. But I have to show you something…”
He took her hand, helping her to get up, gently wrapped an arm around her shoulder as she’d risen.
“What is it?” she asked him quietly, hardly able to suppress a yawn. Lucius would only smile, lead her to the window he’d opened. Only now Narcissa realized how cold their bedroom was, but Lucius held her even tighter as her body started to tremble. Still drowsy, almost like in a trance, she looked out of the window…
Her eyes widened. Thick snowflakes fell down from the sky, fall down to the earth, covering grass and streets like a pure white blanket.
Narcissa was unable to keep her eyes off the window, unable to even more. She seemed almost hypnotized by the snow, but then… Then, finally she turned her head, turned her head to Lucius, smiling at him like she’d not smiled for so many years.
“Merry Christmas, Cissy,” Lucius breathed against her ear, stroking over her forehead, looking at her like he’d looked at her when they’d been young, his eyes so full of love, so full of warmth…
Finally, for just a moment, she forgot about everything that had happened in the past, forgot about everything that had bothered her, everything that had caused her pain. Would it be all right? Would it really be all right, could this moment be real? Yes. Yes, now she knew that the wounds would heal; now she knew that one day everything would be forgotten.
“Merry Christmas, Lucius,” she whispered, leaning her head against his shoulder, closing her eyes, falling asleep against his body, the smile on her lips never fading.
It had already become dark as Andromeda saw the figure on the street, passing by her house for the third time within only a few hours. She’d been sitting in her rocking chair in the drawing room the entire day, holding, cradling the baby in her arms, looking and smiling at him, whispering to him, trying to distract herself.
Of course she knew who the figure was, knew very well who seemed to be almost creeping around her house. How many times had she imagined just getting up, opening the door and calling her name, asking her to come in. But she’d never moved. Never. Had she been too prideful or too cowardly to do so? She did not know. Did not know about anything.
The past few months had been a nightmare to her, a sheer nightmare she was unable to wake up from, unable to escape from. The war had taken everything from her within only a few days, had eliminated everything she’d ever lived for. But still, still she would go on, would always go on for her grandson’s sake. He deserved to have a happy childhood, deserved to grow up far away from the happenings in the past, far away from they pain they all had been forced to experience.
Once again, like so many times before, she forced herself to smile, kissed her grandson’s forehead, looking down at him, down into his beautiful big eyes. They were shining in a warm, light brown today, brown like her own eyes.
“Merry Christmas, Teddy,” she whispered to him, receiving a happy chuckle as response.
It had become dark early; only the Christmas tree’s warm lights would illuminate the drawing room. Christmas. Was it really Christmas already? Had so much time passed already? It seemed like yesterday to her since her husband had been forced to escape, seemed like yesterday since the war had been officially announced to be over. She knew that her sister had died as well, alongside with so many other people; so many lives had just been-
No. No, she’d not think about all this, not now, not on Christmas Eve. She wouldn’t shed any tears tonight, would restrain herself, for him, for Teddy. Quickly she had a look on the clock in the corner of the room, couldn’t suppress a wince. It had become late already and there were still many things to prepare.
Slowly, carefully she got up, heading for the staircase, ready to bring Teddy to bed. She would almost smile as she thought about her first Christmas with Dora, about how stressful everything had been. It had been wonderful, however, their first Christmas as a family. While Andromeda had wrapped presents, her husband had taken care of the tree, but of course everything had been more than only chaos…
“In the end it was perfect,” she whispered to herself as she laid her grandson down into his cradle, watching over his sleep for almost an hour before she left the room again, quietly, taking care of not waking him again. Yes. Yes, it had been perfect, even beyond perfect. She’d used to love Christmas, even when Dora had grown up, even when she’d already moved out, they’d always celebrated together.
But now? Now she was gone, would never come back, would never celebrate with her again. Andromeda bit her lip, closed her eyes for a moment, trying to restrain herself, but she failed, felt how a single tear rolled down her cheek. Ted… Dora… They were gone. They were all gone. It was still so hard to believe, it all still seemed so unreal to her, as if it were a dream, nothing but a dream. But she wasn’t dreaming.
Of course she missed her sister, too. Of course she missed Cissy, too, but the days of them being friends had been long gone. They had been friends once, had been best friends in their childhood, but times had changed. Andromeda had chosen to follow her own path, far away from the family she’d been born in, far away from what she’d grown up with.
Too much had happened between them to pretend that everything was all right, too much had happened to go on where they’d stopped and pretend they were still sisters, even now that it was Christmas. Christmas, the feast of love, the feast of forgiveness.
No, she’d focus on her own life, would focus on her grandson, on granting him the most beautiful first Christmas possible. She loved him, loved him more than anything else, more than she loved herself. He was her everything, her only purpose in life, and if she did not have a chance to, at least he deserved to be happy.
It was near midnight when Andromeda sank down to her rocking chair, exhausted but content. The presents looked beautiful beneath the tree, almost bringing the Christmas spirit back to her. She was tired all of a sudden and couldn’t suppress a yawn. Absent-mindedly she looked out of the window, sighing a quiet sigh. For a moment she remembered her childhood, remembered how Narcissa and her had sat on the windowsill each night in December, and even November, waiting for it to start snowing. They’d always dreamed of a white Christmas. Cissy loved snow, loved snow so much, and so did she. The entire world seemed to change once it snowed, once it turned white.
She still caught herself waiting for it to snow, still caught herself looking out of the window, looking up to the sky, even after so many years had passed. Slowly Andromeda closed her eyes, drifting away into sleep only a second later.
She’d barely slept for thirty minutes when a quiet knock at the pane woke her. Andromeda frowned as she got up and opened the window. A beautiful black owl landed on the windowsill, carrying a small envelope, addressed to her. It disappeared as soon as it had arrived, leaving her alone again, alone with the letter. Even though the handwriting seemed familiar to her she did not know who’d sent it and, to be honest, she didn't want to know, at least not now. All she wanted was to sleep, but even her bedroom seemed too far away to her at the moment. She was too tired even to wonder why an owl had come to her in the middle of the night, delivering a message it could just as well have delivered in the morning.
Before she even noticed what she did she sank back down to her chair instead of heading for the staircase, closed her eyes again, but this time she wouldn’t fall asleep. Her memories seemed to overwhelm her; all of a sudden she saw his face, right before her eyes, saw him smiling at her, reaching out his hand for her…
“Ted,” she whispered to him, but he wouldn’t reply. Would just be there, looking at her, looking at her like he’d looked at her on the day of their wedding… His eyes were so full of love, so full of warmth, as if he wanted to tell her not to be afraid, as if he wanted to tell her to be strong…
“I miss you, Ted,” Andromeda said quietly, gasped for breath when she felt how an electric current seemed to be running through her body as their hands finally found each other. She was not even able to describe how much she’d missed his touch, how much she’d missed feeling his skin against hers. Merlin, she loved him, had always loved him from the moment they’d met.
How many times had she prayed that their parents would accept him, how many times had she hoped they’d forget about their views, about all their principles for once, but of course they hadn’t. Of course they’d been unable to accept him.
Andromeda had not cared about being disowned, had not cared about leaving her parents, but leaving her sisters had almost broken her heart. She’d not thought about the consequences of marrying, had not thought that she’d be forced to also-
Ted seemed to notice that the expression on her face had changed, seemed to immediately know what bothered her. He always knew about her thoughts, about her feelings, sometimes even before she herself knew.
“Do you regret it?” he asked her, his voice as quiet and soft as she had it in memory… Quickly she shook her head.
“No,” she whispered. No. No, she’d never regretted her decision, not a single minute in her life. Of course she’d cried at first, of course she’d been desperate about leaving her family, but… She’d been happy, happier than she’d ever been before in her life. Until the war had taken everything from her she’d lived for.
“I miss you,” she said again, but again he wouldn’t reply. Would just start to smile again, look at her, look deeply into her eyes. He took her head into his hands, pulling her closer and closer until their lips would touch each other…
Quickly Andromeda opened her eyes. She gasped for breath, jumping up from her chair. It took her almost a minute to realize where she was, to find back to reality. A dream. It had been only a dream, nothing but a dream. Of course. He wasn’t here any more to comfort her, he wouldn’t kiss her any more, wouldn’t come to her when she called his name.
How many times had she dreamed of him during the past few months, how many times had she dreamed of her daughter… She’d been forced to take a potion each night at first, in order not to wake up screaming, not to wake up crying. But she’d learned to manage. Somehow she’d learned to manage, had learned to cope, even though she did not even know how. It felt as if she’d gone into a trance, as if someone controlled her, remotely, without her noticing.
But she was alive. Wasn’t it all that mattered? That she was alive? If she was dead, too, whom would her grandson be forced to grow up with, who would take care of Teddy? She couldn’t even dare to think of him being raised by strangers, couldn’t even dare to think about being separated from him.
Slowly Andromeda turned her head, having a look at the clock. Three in the morning. Yes. Yes, she’d definitely slept, even though she felt like she’d been up for days. Tired. Exhausted.
Perhaps some fresh air would help her, perhaps going for a walk would distract her from all these thoughts. But could she really go out now? Could she really leave Teddy alone, even if only for a few minutes? No. No, she wouldn’t risk it, not now. Furthermore, it was freezing outside, she’d probably only catch a cold.
Instead she opened the window, took a few deep breaths before she turned away again, ready to finally head for her bedroom. But then, her movements froze. Was it snowing? Was it really… Or had her imagination only tried to fool her? She was tired, overworked, still disturbed by her dream, it was likely she’d seen something her sub consciousness had wanted her to see. But still, she turned around, looking out of the window again, her eyes widening.
A smile formed on her lips as she sat down on the windowsill to watch the snowflakes fall down from the sky, smiled a barely noticeable, shy smile as if she had forgotten how to show pure joy, how to smile without forcing herself to do so.
The entire street turned white within only a few minutes, immediately seeming brighter, cleaner than before. All of a sudden, all her worries, all her concerns were forgotten, as if the snow had washed them away. It was Christmas. Christmas, the time of year she’d always enjoyed the most. She knew that Ted and Dora would have wanted her to be happy, even without them, knew they wouldn’t approve of her forgetting about the joys in life. And… Didn’t Teddy deserve to spend a wonderful first Christmas as well?
For the first time after so many months she felt that there maybe would be a chance for her to be happy again, that, even though it would always hurt, her life would go on. And even Christmas would be beautiful, without her daughter and husband but with her grandson.
Absent-mindedly Andromeda reached out her hand to take the letter she’d received only a few hours ago, wouldn’t even notice what she did as she took the parchment out of the envelope, unfolding it. She gasped for breath and almost dropped it down to the floor as she finally recognized the handwriting on it.
“That’s impossible!” she exclaimed, shaking her head. No. No it could not have been her writing this, it was impossible... Andromeda now was sure that her imagination was trying to fool her, that she was just too tired to think straight. She knew that it was probably best to put the letter away again, to read it tomorrow, when it was light outside, after she’d slept for a few hours. But still, she couldn’t keep her eyes off it. Would only stare at the parchment without reading the words written on it, the ink blurring before her eyes. She sighed, a quiet, deep sigh, wanted to rise but she seemed paralyzed.
Get up, a voice told her in her head. Just get up and don’t think about all this any more, Andromeda. You need to sleep.
She knew she had to sleep, craved her bed, but still… Still, she couldn’t, couldn’t move, was even unable to keep her thoughts in order. Why was it so hard to her to just get up and leave the drawing room? She did not know, did not know anything. Andromeda hardly recognized herself any more. She’d changed, had changed more than she dared to admit and she knew that these changes couldn’t be undone. The past years had marked her, some happenings had left irreparable scars on her soul. But she would be all right again, she knew that everything would be all right, if she only believed in it.
For just a second she closed her eyes, looking back at the letter as she opened them again, finally reading. Only a single sentence was written on the parchment.
Merry Christmas, Andy.
Again, Andromeda smiled, finally rose from the windowsill, heading for the staircase, leaving the drawing room behind, the letter still in her hands. She walked up the steps slowly, having a quick look at Teddy’s room. He was fast asleep, wouldn’t notice anything around him, having no idea about the snow, no idea about the letter his grandmother had received. For a moment Andromeda wondered whether he was dreaming as well, wondered what his dreams might be about…
She blew him a silent kiss before she turned away again, slowly, carefully leaving the room, finally heading for her bedroom. Again she read the letter, again, again, over again, still hardly able to believe what she held in her hands.
Merry Christmas, Andy.
How was it possible that three words, three simple words could confuse her so much, but at the same time make her feel something that could only be described as happiness? Happiness… Was she happy? Or was she more relieved, surprised that she’d taken the first step? She did not know.
With a quiet sigh Andromeda sank down to her bed after she’d undressed herself, after she’d brushed her teeth, shaking her head, smiling. Unbelievable… It was just… Unbelievable after all these years that had passed. She caught herself looking out of the window again, watching the snow falling down to the streets.
Merry Christmas, Andy.
“Merry Christmas, Cissy,” she whispered.