Literatti: Fiction By Deslea
Deslea R. Judd
Pairing: Gen, with references to Bellatrix/Rodolphus, Lucius/Narcissa, and Bellatrix/Voldemort.
Word Count: 3250
Summary: Blood defines and entwines us, and sometimes it explains what we are. (Or: A brief history of Narcissa, Bella, and Andromeda). Trigger warnings: Non-explicit sexual abuse by a parent, brief but disturbing rape imagery, child death, suicide.
More Fic: On AO3 or my fic site.
Feedback: Love the stuff. On AO3 or at deslea at deslea dot com.
Monday's child is fair of face,
Tuesday's child is full of grace,
Wednesday's child is full of woe,
Thursday's child has far to go,
Friday's child is loving and giving,
Saturday's child works hard for a living,
But the child that's born on the Sabbath day
Is bonny, blithe, good and gay.
Monday's Child: Cygnus
Cygnus said this quietly, as Druella retired behind the screen. She was trying on her going-away outfit for after the wedding, the only part of her trousseau he was permitted to see. The rest of these proceedings would take part without him.
"No lingerie?" the dressmaker queried. There was no surprise in her tone, only a wish to ensure she had understood. Cygnus presumed she had been privy to every groom's preference under the sun.
"Look at her. She's an innocent child." And indeed, there was a faint shadow of her undressing behind the screen. The shape of Druella's small, still-budding breasts was visible as she bent to slip on her skirt over her narrow hips. She was a slip of a girl, fifteen but looked closer to ten. "Fine linen and simple lace only. I value her innocence. I won't see her made into something she isn't."
"Of course," the dressmaker murmured. "I have just the thing." She made her way to a rack and produced a camisole and short bloomer, in off-white linen with pale pinstripes. Eyelet ribbon-and-lace trimmed the edges. Underthings for a modest girl, perhaps a young bridesmaid. "Would you like me to steer her in the direction of these?"
Cygnus felt his stomach gnaw with sudden, urgent need. Could feel his cock twitch. His eyes crawled avidly over the garments. He could imagine perching Druella on his lap, touching her with fingers that were feather-light. Could imagine baring her tiny breasts and squeezing what little flesh he could find of them. Could imagine the way her eyes would grow wide when he pulled her tiny frame down on his massive cock, opening her wide; could imagine her girlish squeaks and mews. Imagined spilling all over those virginal little maiden underthings, spoiling them. Spoiling her.
"Yes, please," he said with warmth. "They're perfect."
"Very pretty," the dressmaker agreed.
His gaze drifted sidelong to Druella's shadow, unselfconsciously preening in the mirror behind the screen. He wanted to storm in there and fuck all the girlish light out of her. He wanted to devour it until it all belonged to him, until she belonged to him, until without him she was just a used, spoiled thing that no one else would have.
Fondly, he murmured, "Pretty little things for a pretty little girl."
Tuesday's Child: Druella
"Madam Black, heart-shaped sida is a controlled herb. I cannot give it to you."
Druella's heart sank. The Carmentis witches had been healers to her family for centuries; she had hoped they would ask no questions. When it came to illegal substances, they often didn't.
"I must insist," she said autocratically. "The Ministry does not pay you for your service - I do. It is not for them to comment on my medical care."
Healer Carmentis spread her hands wide. "I care no more for the Ministry than you do. But my mother and sisters and I delivered you, delivered your children. I will not shorten your life to indulge your vanity. Heart-shaped sida is a drug of last resort - it may save a life that is otherwise doomed, but it shortens the life that it restores."
Druella said evenly, "I am willing to accept a shortened life, if I can have youth again in the time I have left."
At this point, Healer Carmentis lost patience. She thrust her quill down on her desk in disgust. "You stupid woman, don't understand you won't even live to be fifty? You will be a young and beautiful corpse before your first grandchild draws breath."
"Will I live to forty?" Druella demanded. "Til my daughters are grown?"
This brought Carmentis up short. "I - I don't know. I think so." She shook her head a little in confusion. "But it doesn't matter, because I won't be giving it to you." Frowning angrily, the woman picked up her quill again and began scratching out her notes once more.
Druella felt tears begin to rise up in her face. She said quickly, before they could take hold, "My husband likes girls to be…young."
That simple statement was not meant to reveal as much as it did, but the look of knowing in the Healer's eyes as she lifted her head made Druella squirm deep inside. Somehow, she thought Carmentis could see the disgust in Cygnus' face when childbearing had made her a woman. Slight, delicate breasts grew heavy. Hips grew wider. Hair grew thicker. Nipples grew darker. She had come to revel in her body, but the more her body opened for him, the less he wanted her. He wanted her small and tight. He wanted her fear and reluctance. He wanted to own and rule and take.
He had turned his attention to parlourmaids and secretaries, all of them young, and now he was looking at Dromeda.
Carmentis sighed. "It happens. Send him to Knockturn Alley. I look after the girls at Parlour Nine. They're clean and discreet and vaccinated. The vaccine is illegal, of course - the Ministry doesn't want to promote indiscriminate relations - but it works. He won't bring any diseases home, or bastards either."
"I have daughters!" she burst out.
"All the more reason to stay alive, woman! Are you really-" Carmentis stopped short, the colour draining from her face. "Oh. Oh."
Druella said no more. There was nothing to say. Just watched as Carmentis, in a moment, weighed the options she had wrestled with for a lifetime. Leave and watch Cygnus get custody. Run with a herd of children and be hunted. Let him have one of the girls (God, which one?) and hope to Merlin he'd leave the rest alone. Kill him, be imprisoned, and see them in the equally-abusive care of Orion and Walburga. It was hopeless.
"It is no sacrifice, I assure you." The image of a life with him rose up before her, staring at him day after day, knowing what he had done, and she shuddered. "I have no intention of lingering once my daughters are grown."
Carmentis grappled with it visibly, but then she rose and went to her medicine chest. Used a small gold key to open an inner section. Returned to her desk with a vial.
"It's one dose. It should be enough."
Druella had no idea whether it would be enough, but she could only try.
Wednesday's Child: Andromeda
Her father told her no respectable man would want her.
Andromeda had thought, if she got better at pleasing him, maybe he wouldn't need her sisters too, but it hadn't worked that way. When she had come home from school and wrapped her well-practiced mouth around him, he had pushed her away. She hadn't been good enough, innocent enough, and her sisters had paid.
So she had returned to school, and word had spread of her exploits the previous year. She didn't suffer for company, and some of it was genuinely pleasant, but she wasn't wife material either. Not for a nice Pureblood boy, at any rate.
The idea of returning home again was unthinkable. She would feel her father's disgust across the dinner table. Would hear him take her sisters, day after day, down cruelly echoing hallways. Would soon see the light fade from Narcissa's eyes as the cycle began with her. Bellatrix was coming apart at the seams, now that she bore the brunt of it, and the guilt of that was eating her alive.
There was nothing she could do to stop any of it. She could only spare herself the sight of it.
Andromeda was a Ravenclaw, rational and resourceful, and it seemed to her that her best bet was a Muggleborn. The Muggles were in the midst of a sexual revolution. Free love, they called it. Filth, her world called it with bile in their voices, but that was all right. She was already spoiled to them anyway.
The man she married was neither Pure nor respectable, but he didn't think she was spoiled, and soon enough she came to love him anyway.
Thursday's Child: Bellatrix
When Rodolphus took her, he found the Dark Lord inside her already. It wasn't the first time, and it wouldn't be the last.
A flicker of something crossed his features, something dark and grim, followed immediately by sadness. She wondered if this would be the time he would take her to task for it, if this would be the time he would ask her why.
He didn't. He never had. He had never shown any bitterness towards the Dark Lord, either, but sometimes Bella caught sight of him looking at Cygnus, eyes burning and feral with hatred, and she thought he already knew.
When the Dark Lord took her, it all fell away, all the guilt, all the responsibility (myFAULTmyFAULT). Her father had told her the greatest thing she could be was owned, a vessel, and she had committed an unforgivable betrayal by turning her back on him, but all that was redeemed now that she was vessel for someone even greater. The Dark Lord owned her. Completely. It was something Rodolphus had never been willing to do.
But he would soothe her after. He would fill her while leaving enough room for herself. It was something she craved and loved and it wasn't enough, but it meant everything to her just the same. Rodolphus' kisses were gifts and not demands, and letting him make love to her was like listening to something beautiful in a language she did not speak.
"Do you hate me?" she whispered when they were done.
"No," Rodolphus murmured into her hair. "Bella, no. I just wish I was enough. That's all."
Laying there, wrapped in the miserable bit of peace the Gods had allowed her, Bella wished it too.
Friday's Child: Hawthorn
"Eleven inches, unicorn heartstring core. A fine choice."
Narcissa nodded. "Thank you, Mr Ollivander."
She waited as he descended the steps of his ladder and boxed the wand up. "Your sister had the same wand, Miss Black. I remember thinking how fitting it was. The tree was a hawthorn, of course."
Narcissa gave a little nod and looked away, surreptitiously wiping her eyes. Mortified. She'd been doing so well.
Ollivander took his time, and she realised, years later, that he'd done it on purpose to allow her to compose herself. "A lovely young lady."
She nodded. Still looking away. "She was. We miss her very much." It slipped out before she could stop it, and she cursed herself. A lady was supposed to relieve others of their discomfort, not add to it. She said quickly, "Hawthorn spoke fondly of when she chose her wand. I think you made rather an impression on her."
"It's good of you to say so," Ollivander said, not unkindly, and she knew then that he knew she had lied.
"I don't know what became of her wand," she said abruptly. "It didn't come home with her from school after -" she faltered.
"After the accident in the grounds," he said smoothly. "A great tragedy." There was still that tone in his voice, kind and also wise, and she was suddenly, utterly certain he knew that was a lie too.
Hawthorn had stolen a massive dose of the Draught of Living Death. While she slept, she starved, and slipped painlessly away. They found her in the Room of Requirement after a frantic three-week search.
The Room had stayed stubbornly closed until she had done what she needed to do. That was how they knew it was suicide, and a clear-headed one at that. Headmaster Dippet hadn't asked why she'd done it, but he had offered to take Narcissa right away rather than at the beginning of the new school year, if it would be easier for the family, and Druella had gratefully said yes.
Watching Ollivander, Narcissa thought that those who didn't ask, already knew.
Saturday's Child: Narcissa
Lucius stroked her hair. It was still new, what she'd done to it, and he still had that expression of wonder.
"You didn't have to do this, you know," he said, and she loved him because he meant it, but she also knew he loved it. What it meant, and what he thought it meant.
"It means I'm a Malfoy," she murmured, but that was a lie. What it meant was she wasn't a Black.
Her father had known it, when Lucius had lifted her veil to kiss her. Gone were the black tresses her father had fisted when he took her, replaced by gentle blonde waves, mirror to her husband's. Cygnus had flinched, and scowled, and barely spoken to her at the reception. His congratulations to her were clipped and biting.
The evening press had gone wild, rhapsodising about her romantic gesture, elevating their wedding coverage to that of society wedding of the season, with an entire lift-out promised the next day. Brides changing their hair as a sign of solidarity with their new families was praised, and predicted to become a trend. Through gritted teeth, Cygnus had told the press that he was very proud of his daughter's wifely gesture. That quote had been taken at face value, and published widely.
Narcissa Black was spoiled, but Narcissa Black was no more. She was dead and buried, obliterated with the black hair she had sacrificed in the ritual that yielded her beautiful blonde hair. In her place had risen Narcissa Malfoy, a new creature, a Malfoy through and through.
"Are you frightened?" Lucius asked her, more gently than she had expected from him, and a memory came to her, of Lucius and Bella's husband, talking solemnly in the grounds at the reception. Lucius had greeted her with that same gentle tone when he'd come back.
With a chill, she wondered how much Rodolphus had told him.
"No," she said. Why would she be? Everything that had happened, happened to Narcissa Black.
They hadn't happened to her at all.
Sunday's Child: Draco
"It's a boy."
Narcissa gave a flicker of a smile, a faint 'O' on her lips her only effort at feigning surprise.
Lucius raised an eyebrow as he sat on the bed beside her. He knew her too well. She could lie to him by omission, but never by action.
"I…might have checked," she admittedly sheepishly. "I'm sorry, darling, I just couldn't wait. I knew you wanted to be surprised, so I didn't say anything." She shot a warning glance at Healer Carmentis as she said it.
Lucius tried and failed to look disapproving. It was a Slytherin marriage, and a Malfoy one; a certain amount of minor deception was expected. He shot her a quirky smirk of approval instead, and leaned over and drew her close. "We did it at last, darling."
Narcissa leaned in to him, her whole body crumpling all of a sudden. She felt heat and salt rising in her face, sudden and strong. "Lucius-"
Lucius frowned as he felt her shaking. "Narcissa?" he said softly, pulling back to look at her as the tears began to fall. "What in the world-"
Abruptly, Carmentis intervened. "My Lord, perhaps you could go and tell your father-in-law the good news. I'll look after your wife."
Lucius frowned. Uncertainty lined his features.
"Please go, Lucius," Narcissa blurted through tears. Starting to get control again. "It's just bloody hormones. I'll be all right as long as I can be a complete snivelling idiot in private for a bit."
Lucius looked at her for one long moment before nodding. "All right, Cissa. I'll be back." He leaned forward and dropped a kiss on the top of her head, and left her.
Narcissa and watched in silence as he left. As his footsteps fell away, Carmentis looked at her solemnly.
"I was given to understand, Madam Malfoy, that your husband was aware of the baby's sex."
Narcissa held out her arms. Her tears were gone, but her voice still wavered. "My son, Healer."
Carmentis came around the bed and laid the child into Narcissa's arms. Narcissa's lip trembled as she drew him close. He was blonde and beautiful.
Too beautiful. She had done the right thing. Every doubt, every shred of guilt left her in that instant.
Cygnus had lived on the Malfoy estate since her mother died, under orders from the Dark Lord after Bella and Rodolphus refused. Surprisingly, Lucius had not argued with her insistence that he should live separately in the guesthouse, and the elves were instructed not to allow him into the Manor unescorted. But he would have found a way in if this beautiful child had been a girl.
Healer Carmentis persisted. "Does your husband know of the others?"
Narcissa didn't look up. Entranced by the child's long, dark lashes; his rosebud lips. That cornsilk blonde hair. Thank Merlin he wasn't dark. He was no Black, but a Malfoy, through and through.
Just like her.
"No. He doesn't. Abortion is women's business."
"It is, but you suggested to me that the others were not wanted because they were girls. In view of Malfoy attitudes to male heirs, that seemed plausible and raised no concerns for your welfare. I am now less confident."
"I wanted a boy," Narcissa said mechanically, drawing her son closer. "We're done here."
The Healer drew closer, her shadow falling over Narcissa. Over the baby. Blocking out the sun. Narcissa shivered.
"Madam Malfoy, do you have concerns for the safety of daughters under your husband's care?"
Narcissa's head shot up at that, staring at the Healer's silhouette. "No!" she sputtered. "Merlin! No! Not - not him."
"No," Carmentis said quietly. As though confirming a long-held suspicion. "Not him."
Narcissa felt the blood drain from her face.
"You are not the only Black woman I've treated, Madam Malfoy, nor the only pregnancy I've ended for one."
Narcissa stared at her. Mind racing. Bella? Andromeda? But Carmentis would never break her vows to admit it, not when they still lived. Hawthorn?
But then, suddenly, she knew. Flash of a memory, woman in modest black garb at a society funeral. Respectful, but out of place.
Carmentis inclined her head. "She had been taking herbs to prevent it, but after you and your sister moved away, they were tampered with."
Bile rose in her throat at the idea that Cygnus had tried to - to replace them. "Why are you telling me this?"
"I've delivered generations of Blacks, Madam Malfoy. I believe your mother would have wanted you to know that she understood. It is a lonely thing, to put an end to a wanted child."
Narcissa shrank back, drawing her son closer. "I am no Black. I'm a Malfoy. Only that."
Carmentis sighed. "As you wish." She turned away and went back to cleaning her instruments.
"She let it happen, you know," Narcissa said presently.
Carmentis looked up at her with sympathy. "She couldn't stop it. There's a difference." She nodded her head towards the baby in Narcissa's arms. "That is the great tragedy of motherhood. We cannot always protect our child from the evil on our doorstep. One day you will understand that."
Narcissa didn't understand, not then; but years later, in a war not yet imagined, she would remember, and understand.
And she forgave.
1. The history of this piece is a meta discussion where I proposed that Cygnus abusing the three Black girls would probably explain virtually everything about their actions, omissions, and history, including Narcissa's wholehearted embrace of the Malfoys and her blonde hair. (I have never really believed that she was genetically blonde - there are no other known blondes in either the Black or Rosier families).
2. Sida Cordifolia (heart-leaf sida, among other names) is a poisonous herb. It does not appear to have any explicit historical association with youth, but it has been associated with cell regeneration. I couldn't find any herbs explicitly associated with youth that were also known to be dangerous, so I exercised some poetic licence.
3. I went looking for a flower name like Narcissa for her sister (and hawthorn is a flowering tree), but when I found reference to Hawthorn as an old name, and remembered that Narcissa's wand was made of hawthorn, I knew I had found the one. Hawthorn means hope.
4. Carmentis is a girls' name of Latin origin, meaning healer.