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The first step to getting the things you want out of life is this: Decide what you want.
~ Ben Stein
Friday, May 4th ~ Morning



Since Lucius was absent for an extended period on business matters, there was really no hurry. However, having made her mind up, Narcissa wanted to be completely moved and established in her new home before he returned. Mostly because she didn't trust him. Narcissa had no doubt Lucius would take whatever steps he felt were necessary to keep her in their - his home and her skills with a wand were pitiful at best.

For that matter, what's to stop him from simply removing me from the penthouse and depositing me back here again? made a frown appear between her brows. Then and there she decided to ask Draco and Severus for assistance in setting up proper deterrents against that possibility. It wouldn't stop him if he happened to catch her out in the open, but at least she could sleep at night knowing nothing would happen.

She instructed the elves she was taking with her - those that she'd brought to the union - what to pack and what to leave. The furniture in her study as well as all the books, the newly completed nursery furnishings and her clothes. The jewelry would have to be hand sorted, but that could be done at a later time and that which was Malfoy - would be returned.

Satisfied they would follow their instructions, Narcissa took a deep breath and sought out her sister. She didn't relish explaining the situation to her and hoped she could pull it off without Lucius ending up dead. He was still the father of her children.
 
 
 
 
 
 
The first rise of the Dark Lord had been an age of glories, when Bellatrix and her favored companions had rightfully inspired fear as they struck at will: Aurors, mudbloods, all the misguided sheep who needed culling.

But that had ended, and instead of fire the shadows and dark had contained only cold.

The second attempt to restore the world to its proper order had been contained its triumphs as well, but somehow they'd seemed muted in comparison — and over so very quickly.

This time, however, Bellatrix was flexing her power on her own. Others' counsel was accepted, yes, but the impetus and the work was hers. Perhaps it was on a smaller scale than the Dark Lord's own, but she'd been spinning a web of darkness that had ensared some fine morsels. If others had escaped so far ... no matter. Her plans were undetected, and their defeat inevitable.

An anticipatory smile played about her lips as she left her rooms in the Malfoy Mansion for her favored dungeon — one of the final guards from her trial had just become engaged. She must send them both a token of her ... regard.

"Ah, sweet sister." Bellatrix brushed a kiss onto her sister's cheek upon encountering Narcissa in the hall. "I apologize for missing breakfast, but work calls."
Bella seemed happy at last and it gave Narcissa pause. She had no doubts her sister could hold her own against Lucius and there would be no dungeons in the penthouse.

If she chooses to go with me - one of the warehouses could be cleared and secured for her "work".

A small comute?


Giving Bella a smile, Narcissa brushed a kiss on Bella in return.

"Bella? Could it wait a few minutes, please? There's something quite - serious - I need to discuss with you. I'll be moving out and I'd like to know if you're going to remain here or move with me."
Leaving?

Bellatrix froze in shock.

Narcissa's loyalty was not given lightly, and it did not bow under pressure. Something truly terrible must have happened for her sister to want to leave her husband's home at this point in her life, with a child on its way.

"There's nothing for me here without you, Narcissa. There is no question; I will stay at your side. Now, come. Tell your big sister what has happened."

Hopefully there was something to channel her quickly rising rage.

"Tell your big sister what she might do."
If hugging was something the Black family did, Narcissa would be hugging her sister about now. As it was, one hand did caress Bella's arm lightly before it moved away. A lady like snort was expressed before Narcissa threw her chin up in the air. She would get through this and with Bella's help, the Black sisters would thrive.

"You can help me make Lucius suffer the indignity of having a wife who left him flat. Suffer every day that I'm no longer living in his manor. My pregnancy wasn't happenstance, but a carefully controlled deception on his part. He switched potions on me. While I'm willing to keep the child and will fight him for it, I no longer want a husband that would deceive his own wife in such a manner and treat her as a mere chattel to spawn when he sees fit."

She wanted Bella to know exactly what she was getting into.

"Draco has basically given me the penthouse in the building across from him, but there are no dungeons there, Bella. I do have a few warehouses - one could be converted to allow you to continue your work if you wish. I confess - I'd feel easier if you were there with me. My wand is no match for his if he should try to bring me back by force."
Narcissa's wishes were clear — lifelong suffering as opposed to a quick end. Bellatrix respected that, and although she could add to the lifelong suffering quite easily, judging from the reports of the elder Longbottoms, the awareness of that suffering was more difficult for her to guarantee.

She hissed with displeasure.

"You always deserved better than he. Lucius put too much stock in himself to properly evaluate another's worth."

He had put his own welfare ahead of the Dark Lord's, and now he treated her sister infamously. It would not be borne; losing a base of operations was nothing to that.

"My work requires nothing more than my wand and my will — everything else is mere trappings. Let Lucius try to come. He will not find you defenseless."
It had taken days to arrange for someone to watch the shoppe so that Severus could visit Malfoy Manor. True, he could have picked an evening after work, but then he would have had to explain to Ginevra, and Severus had no wish to dredge up the old specter of he and Narcissa once more.

Not that there was anything to dredge up, realistically, but all those years of taunting Draco did make the blond a tad paranoid and mouthy, and it was all just best to keep the visit quiet.

Severus waited in the front hall for an elf to fetch the mistress of the house, and wondered once more if he'd managed to hit his head at some point and might be in a dream state brought on by a coma. It would be a logical explanation for the events of the last few months.
"Severus, how lovely," Narcissa said as she joined him in the hall. Giving him a kiss on the cheek, she then smiled.

"I was going to call on you later today to ask for your assistance once more. Would you care for a cup of tea in the drawing room or do you have the time?"

Glancing toward an elf that was carrying one of the vases from the study, she pointed at it.

"Not that one, idiot. That's a Malfoy heirloom. It remains here."
"Tea would be lovely."

One thing Severus had learned early on, was that one did not throw a fit in front of the servants. Whether they were house-elves or young, eager Potions experts.

He held his tongue until they were in the drawing room, then exploded.

"What is this nonsense I heard about you having another child? For that matter, Malfoy heirlooms staying here? Where are the other heirlooms going? What in hades is going on, Narcissa?"
Narcissa's hand flew to the base of her throat while the expression on her face held astonishment. Severus had never spoken to her in such a manner, even during the worst times when he and Draco were still being hunted. The normally quick witted Narcissa was at a bit of a loss to know where to begin.

"I'm - It's - I'm..."

She was almost stuttering she was so surprised. There had been too many suprises in the last few days.

"Would - could we sit down first?"
Instantly, he realized he'd let his own frustration with the circumstances of the last few months get to him and he'd taken it out on her. He rushed forward to offer his hand to lead her to a chair.

"Of course, forgive my outburst. We'll sit, and wait for the tea, and then start again?"
It was always pleasant to explore a fine late spring day with a walk. The leaves on the trees had just finished coming out, the sun was warm enough to tempt one to go without a coat. It was enjoyable to stroll through the streets to study human interaction.

He frowned as he rounded a corner and saw a moving wagon stopped infront of building across from Draco's and a small knot of house elves were moving the trunks off. Someone was moving in. What had him stopping dead in the street was the sight of Draco's mother, Narcissa Malfoy. There was no mistaking her hair.

Pulled by curiousity he walked towards them. A small house elf was struggling with one footlocker and it nearly tumbled to the ground so Greg caught the handle of it.

"Easy." He said to the little creature as he waited for it to be taken from him.
The action drew her eyes and Narcissa smiled before walking toward the young man.

"Mr Goyle, thank you for your assistance. I'm afraid they're a touch nervous today. Some of them haven't been out of Malfoy Manor for a number of years."
Greg gave her a quick smile before forcing it from his face and rooting his eyes to the ground. He hoped the action would be taken as shyness. He didn't know what, if anything, Draco had told her about his appearance of unintelligence. He thought it was best to simply remain a dunce. One that gets nervous around beautiful women.

"I can understand. I get uneasy in strange places too." Greg mumbled as his eyes followed the house elves as they busied about thier work. "Would you like me to help? The more people to bring things in the faster it gets done."
Gregory Goyle was a Pureblood and Narcissa never lightly dismissed them, unless their last name was Weasley of course. From all accounts this young man had done well for himself and that made her tilt her head and regard him carefully before responding.

"I would appreciate any assistance you care to give, Mr. Goyle. Elves are good with simple directions, but anything more complicated seems to fluster them. Of course moving out of the manor isn't something they do every day either."

Glancing at the entrance to the building, Narcissa frowned.

"If you'll be good enough to make sure they don't completely destroy my things, I'll see about getting us a proper tea, shall I? Draco and Severus may be joining us as well."
Moving out of the Manor? My oh My. This is going to cause Lucius' blood pressure to rise. I'd say this is an act of domestic politics but a woman like Narcissa has more tools at her disposal. Must be something serious indeed to cause her to uproot herself.

"Certainly." Greg met her eyes again with a warm smile that reached his eyes. He would admit it, he was curious to see what would happen. He let a little hint of the American accent that eroded his good queen's english return temporarily. "Leave everything down here to me. I'll make sure the elves get everything unloaded and upstairs in one piece. It'd be nice to see Draco and Pro... I mean Mr. Snape again."

He wanted to gently tweek her curiousity. If she was curious about him she was more likely to invite him back and he could watch the story unfold.