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Sometimes I wonder if men and women really suit each other.
Perhaps they should live next door and just visit now and then.
~ Katharine Hepburn
Saturday, February 3rd ~ Evening

The elves had been entirely unable to do anything to please the mistress of the house since she had returned from the outing with the master of the manor the day before. There had been much ear ironing and smashing of heads with oven doors occurring as well as a few elves who were forced to resort to throwing themselves off the roof when all the traditional ways of punishing themselves were taken. The only saving grace for the poor creatures was that the regular Friday evening meal with the son of the manor attending was postponed until the next evening after a flurry of owls had been sent. The tray brought to the mistress' room later was thrown out into the hall with a resounding crash of china and crystal.

The dawn found few of the household servants not wearing some type of bandage on their small bodies and they would deny to their dying breath the relief some of them felt when the mistress announced she was going shopping. They were to have her closets and drawers cleaned of all the rubbish they contained by the time she returned. Such was Narcissa's mood that she merely tossed the breakfast tray she'd ordered back at the trembling elf presenting it and left in a huff without telling any human member of the family she was leaving.

After a day spent combing through fabrics, patterns and shredding several dressmakers, she'd returned and started tearing into the mountain of packages that had arrived during the day. Two elves were kept busy putting the articles away as she decimated the pile. Terse instructions were left as to which sections of the large walk-in closets were to be left open for garments being finished.

Declaring herself frazzled and in need of a bath, one of the elves scurried to prepare the mistress' favorite scented water only to be left wringing its hands in dismay as Narcissa declared it was the most odious thing she'd ever smelled. A different scent was chosen and the bath filled again. As she rested her head against the downy soft pillow on the back of the tub, Narcissa's eyes closed and she sighed.

During the day, her problem had settled into a small niche in the corner of her brain and stewed. While the hot water soothed the various muscles of her body, she took it out and examined it from every angle.

What do I want? was the first question she asked herself. Obviously not this, but he does.

If I do this - what could I gain besides the obvious?

Various answers came to her as an elf bathed her limbs and finally, a small smile slid over her mouth. Narcissa's eyes opened as she sat up and ordered the elf to bring her a robe.
Lucius intercepted the elf, taking the robe from him. The little creature squeaked, knowing it would have to punish itself for this. The Mistress had ordered the robe and he could fulfill the request but he couldn't disobey the Master either. With its ears dropping it left the room to join the others in the line wait to smash their fingers in the stove door.

Stepping into the bathroom, Lucius tried to keep the smug smile from his face. He was deliciously pleased with himself and the chaos among the staff had only whetted te self smugness. "Here is your robe, my dear," he said silkily, enjoying the vision of his wet wife. "I believe the elf was about to drop from sheer fear that he was unable to complete his task."
Lucius' gaze and the satisfied gleam in his eye caused Narcissa's chin to elevate a notch as she raised an arm for him to assist in putting it on.

"You needn't be so content with yourself, my husband. The issue of your issue isn't settled yet. Just because I choose not to haggle with you in front of the healer like a common fishmonger's wife does not mean I'm agreeable."
Sliding the robe onto her arm, Lucius lowered his head and brushed his lips over her ear. "Cannot a man just enjoy the vision of his beautiful naked wife, darling?" he purred, pulling the robe up as the other arm was put in. "Have you forgotten how pleased I was when you were enchante with Draco? Surely it is better that I am pleased than not."

He was too caught up in his own achievement to entertain the notion that she would choose to disrupt the 'issue'.
Normally, the touch of his lips would find her relaxing back against him, encouraging the possibility of a delightful romp in the bath. It had occurred before and probably would again - but not now. Pulling away from him she walked over to the cabinet housing the potion that was supposed to prevent the issue from ever becoming an issue in the first place.

"I hope you also remember how difficult it was to regain my figure after Draco was born. Not to mention all the potions and lotions required to prevent those awful stretch marks the Weasley cow probably delights in showing off."

Pulling open the door, Narcissa reached in and grabbed the stoppered bottle. Holding it in front of the light from one of the candles her mouth pursed slightly.

"I'm going to have to take Severus to task. I've never known one of his potions to fail before. I was going to ask him for the proper one to have on hand when I finally decide, but now I may look elsewhere."

Glancing at her husband, Narcissa added, "Some women are born brood mares, Lucius. I'm not one of them and will not be forced into it."
Lucius did not look at the potion knowing that Severus would find nothing wrong with it as it was indeed a contraceptive potion, the fertility one safely tucked away to be disposed of . "Perhaps Severus is losing his touch, distracted by his youthful plaything. It happens to the best of men," Lucius said smoothly, resisting the urge to toy with a damp curl that was so enticingly resting against her neck.

"Narcissa, I would never dream, nor anyone of good breeding, of comparing you to that Weasley woman. Have you considered that this unexpected pregnancy is the hand of fate? Our lives were put on hold for a decade and now we have been given a new chance to recapture everything."
Starting to take the glass of wine the elf had presented, Narcissa rolled her eyes and shook her head.

Damn. No alcohol for the next - however long I'll have this little bundle of joy inhabiting my body, crossed her mind as she waved the glass away.

"Bring me..."

She was at a loss what to have and glared at the elf.

"Bring me some of that flavored bubbling drink that Draco seems inordinately fond of."

It starts already. Inconveniences and disruptions, she thought while watching her husband take a sip of his pre-dinner brandy with no small amount of envy. I should ask that he abstain for the same amount of time and see how well that sits with Daddy.

Her eyes slid over to Bella and a very quick decision not to ask her sister to abstain was made.
A wife and mother was dead in Liverpool, drowned.

A seven-year-old boy in Islington had heard a banshee's cry while playing in a park.

Bellatrix had read the news in the Daily Prophet, and a smile had curled across her face.

No one suspected.

The guards were paying, the webs she'd spun drawing tightly around them, and no one would save them, no one at all.

Everything had gone so well lately. True, there hadn't been nearly enough fatalities from this week's triumph at the castle, but whispers spoke that the werewolf ailed and there were ... abscences at the Auror station. A good beginning, that would be a delight to follow up upon.

But Bellatrix wasn't as happy as she might be, sitting and staring at the liquid swirl within her glass of port.

She was built to act, not to delegate.

Promises were well and good but she was called to a higher purpose. Sacrifices would be made.

"And speaking of the boy, has punctuality become to much to ask?"

The sooner dinner was over, the sooner she could return to the dungeon to plan her next strike.
Perhaps it would be better to break the news to Bella first. Give her time to 'adjust' before Draco gets here.

"He won't be joining us until it's time to sup, Bella dear," Narcissa murmured as she accepted a glass of the frothy drink her son seemed to like. A small sip surprised her and a larger one was taken before it was placed on a coaster.

"We do have some news that might brighten your evening. There's going to be an addition to the family."
"Ah, how delightful. So the first course is delayed while Draco Imperios a bride?"
Draco checked to make sure Lady Carmilla had made the trip in one piece - all legs accounted for - and straightened the tiny jeweled vest his mother had given her for Christmas. "You are such a pretty girl! And I don't say that to girls, you know. Now you distract the crazy Auntie - don't look at me like that, you may like her but your brain is the size of a pea - oh! I didn't mean it like that, you know I love you."

Draco nuzzled her back before setting her on his shoulder. "You distract the crazy and I'll decorate the yard. Father's a fan of the arts, right?"
Narcissa arrived outside the family Apparation room in time to hear the last sentence of Draco's conversation with Lady Carmilla and her eyebrows rose slightly. As her son tossed his cloak in the general direction of the coat rack, she stepped into the room and crossed to give him a kiss on the cheek.

"Draco, I'm quite glad you could attend this evening. Are you terribly bored lately, that you've taken up landscaping or have you discovered a new artist you wish to sponsor?"
"Hello, Mother," Draco replied while returning her kiss. "No. Artists are too temperamental, I'm suppose to be the center of the universe and they just don't get that. Or if they do they forget and wander off to play with their supplies and make something that, while flattering, does not capture my absolute perfection. I've merely perfected the art of the forty meter snow-cock!"

Wrapping his arm around her waist he leaned his head on her shoulder. "You don't usually come find me. Who died? Or worse yet, who lived?"
A genuine laugh came out of Narcissa's mouth before a small smile crept over her mouth. Her son - was perfect and if there were those out there that didn't appreciate him as he should be...

Let them stumble along in their ignorance or arrange some lessons?

She filed that particular thought away to be acted upon later and took his arm.

"You're trying to give me lines on my face, aren't you darling boy?" Narcissa asked in an almost teasing voice. "Fortunately or unfortunately no one has died that I know of - yet."

As they started down the long hallway to the lounge where they normally had pre-dinner drinks, Narcissa paused before answering his last question.

"Your aunt and father are waiting, but I made it clear that I wanted to be the one to tell you the news - alone."

If this child turns out as well as he did - it may be worth it after all.
It was news, which meant that it wasn't something he had done which was good - but news that she wanted to tell him by herself which was worrying. Father and Auntie Crazy apparently knew and had agreed - which was...


Draco turned to face his mother and tilted her face up with a hand under her chin and scrutinized her face. "Now why would I want to give my beautiful mother wrinkles so my flawless perfection stands out even more?" Draco asked lightly before pouting. "Besides, it isn't working."
Lucius was on his sixth brandy once again looking much to pleased with himself. "Dinner was excellent," he drawled, casting a look around at the others. Draco definitely didn't look too thrilled with the prospect of becoming a big brother.

Smirking, he demanded the elf to bring him another brandy, feeling the need to celebrate. Draco should be pleased after all, he know longer had to worry about fulfilling his role as heir, not that he was about to. Of course, his son would have to make some adjustments, such as sharing the family fortune. Ah well. One was rewarded as fate saw fit.