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Fool Me Once...
Tuesday, May 1st ~ Afternoon

It was probably quite naive of Narcissa to be so blindsided by her husband's actions, but she'd never - that she knew of at any rate - been on the receiving end of one of them. Her hand strayed to the slightly larger bulge under her gown and while she couldn't and wouldn't take any actions against the child - Lucius was another matter.

Confirmation was needed from an unimpeachable source. She hadn't believed the words the stuttering elf had managed to spit out in its idiotic ramblings while it bashed its head on the floor. Only the fact it was the one that had served Narcissa faithfully since her childhood kept her from ordering its disposal on the spot.

Which was why Narcissa found herself with one hand covering her second child while the other knocked on the door housing her first. From what she could gather, the elf had given the suspect potion to her son in defiance of the order from Lucius to destroy it.
Having finished with his classes for the day, Draco had been relaxing while flipping through documents sent to him by the Falcons management. The team had been doing well and had high expectations for this year, he was more than happy to sign off on the requested purchases. Draco felt a brief pang of longing for the sport - or at least the locker room - and made a mental note to 'check up' on his investment soon.

Glancing up at the sound of a knock, Draco briefly considered ignoring it before rising and opening the door. "Mother!"

Draco leaned in and placed a kiss on her cheek - all the while glancing behind her for any sign of elves bearing furniture. Seeing no sign of her 'nesting' instinct threatening to take over his home, Draco stood back to allow her entry and escorted her to a chair.

"At least she likes you," Draco snorted as a full tea service popped onto the coffee table. "To what do I owe this surprise?"
Surprise was a good word for it. Narcissa been in shock over what the elf told her on the way to Draco's. She suddenly realized she'd actually Apparated and hadn't used a Portkey like she normally did. Looking down at her hands and feet, Narcissa was relieved to see she'd made it in one piece.

The steaming tea in the cups offered some comfort as she reached out to pick one up instead of waiting for Draco to serve her. It was too hot, but Narcissa didn't care as she took careful sips. When enough had been swallowed to moisten her throat and mouth it was placed back on the saucer by a hand that held a slight tremor.

Leaning back in the chair, Narcissa studied her beautiful son. True, she'd tried to arrange for his happiness, but she hadn't tried to change him. After their last talk she was fairly certain they understood each other.

"Draco, I don't have time or the inclination to play our normal games today. Ipling came to me this morning and told me - told me..."

Even now Narcissa was having trouble voicing it over the sense of betrayal she felt and her eyes closed momentarily.

"Told me she'd given you a bottle containing a potion Lucius had been substituting for my contraceptive."
Fuck, fuck, fuckity fuck!

This was bad. Very, very, very bad.

And his mother - his mother - was visibly upset!

That just wasn't right (Unless she was trying to manipulate someone anyway.).

Draco dropped to his knees and hugged her tightly while babbling, "I'm sorry! I'm sorry! She did and I didn't tell you but I just blackmailed Father - just a bit - to get a bigger chunk of what was suppose to be all mine anyway and you would have done the same thing! Don't hate me, Mummy!"
Her husband had betrayed her in the worst possible way. Thoughts and memories flooded her mind as she drew her son closer and hugged him. She didn't blame Draco. He had merely taken advantage of circumstance, as she herself would have done.

To think I dreamed of the day you would be returned to us.

Memories of what life had been like without Lucius came back to her. The harsh adjustments at the beginning, when she floundered in a sea of business transactions that threatened to take the very bread from their mouths if she took one wrong step. Unable to do anything with the Malfoy fortune, since the Ministry had placed a hold, Narcissa had turned to her own share of the Black estate. Success there had made it possible to eventually loosen the strings holding the Malfoy vaults and she'd never looked back.

Until Lucius was released.

He never did seem pleased I'd managed so long without him.

Is that what this is all about?

Ripping away everything I've managed to become while he was incarcerated so he could have his comfortable 'old' life back?

How many of his words were false and designed to merely placate me until it was too late to dispose of the child?

Not that she would now even if it was possible. The movements she felt grew stronger every day and she loved the child in her womb almost as much as she did the son currently being held in her arms.

Narcissa swallowed hard as a half sob was torn from her throat. She blinked her eyes furiously as they watered. Tears would not be allowed to spoil her appearance.

Too many were apparently spilled in my empty bed over a man who merely wanted a convenient outlet for his lust and an appropriate vessel to incubate his heirs.

But they are my children - not merely my heirs.

They will remain his heirs, but that is all.

Narcissa's love for Lucius, curdled and turned to vinegar in her heart. She desperately wished she could turn back the years, take some of the numerous suitors who'd tried to woo her into their beds up on their offers, if only to throw it in his face now. Narcissa's cheeks pinkened with anger when she thought of his first night back and the simple pleasures that had made them so happy in those days.

When did it change?

Suddenly, she knew when it began.

I shall end it.

Her own words to Lucius when they'd argued over the pregnancy came back to her.

"If you choose to dissolve the union it will not please me, but I will survive."

Only now, I choose to dissolve and I will indeed survive.

"Draco dear," Narcissa said at last. "Of course I don't blame you."

She paused for a moment, drawing back and gazing into his beautiful face.

"I can't go back there. Not now. I'll not be treated as a brood mare whose master has decided it's time for another foal. The penthouse - in your other building - it's still unoccupied, is it not? I know it will be difficult for you, but I must ask you to allow me - and probably your Aunt Bella - to move in there. Until we can find other accomodations. I would go the the Black Orchid, but with Bella it would be best not to."
I'll not be treated as a brood mare whose master has decided it's time for another foal.

Until we can find other accomodations.
And she was taking Aunt Bella with her - it all sounded so final and Draco knew that his father had done it again. He felt a vague sense of panic - his parents weren't suppose to split up, his father was suppose to come home and everything was to go back the way it had been-

But they weren't the same anymore.

And his father was.

They had moved on with their own lives under their own power - his mother taking over the tasks his father had handled once upon a time, Draco becoming a man and choosing his own path in his life - while for his father, time had stood virtually still, nothing changing but the days spent away from his family in Azkaban. A family he had once led (nearly to ruin) that had found themselves without that dictatorship guidance... and thrived.

Draco considered for a moment how lost his father must have felt - but he wasn't willing to let Lucius run his life for him. And his mother shouldn't have to either.

They couldn't go back. All they could do was make the best of the now.

If only the now hadn't included Aunt Crazy.

Draco gave a sad smile and clasped his mother's hands in his own. "You can stay as long as you like. Keep it if you want."

Thank gods you couldn't see in his windows.