During the train ride before third year Harry has a close encounter with a dementor that causes him to absorb the soul fragment within him, granting both knowledge and power. Features Harry with a ...
I I I
Narcissa, cast out of her family and divorced, had been seeking for some time to make an appearance at Hogwarts to appeal to both Heads of the Black and Darling (formerly Malfoy) families to be let back in and granted a name and support.
Her circumstances in life depended on it, and the concession was a vital one. With Lucius dead both she and Draco were bereft of support. And though he was now legally a bastard, her marriage having been dissolved retroactively so Draco had no legal father, she still owed him what help she could provide.
And that was a major concern, as Draco had been hospitalized due to some accident she didn't quite grasp - after all, one could formerly count on all dangerous incidents at school happening only to those of lesser breeding.
What she did not know was the Confundus under which Snape tortured Draco had been programmed to wear off just as the poor unfortunate subject died, for the direct purpose of seeing Snape realize just what he had done, right after it was too late to do anything to stop or reverse it.
Dobby had gotten them a great Polaroid of his face with an expression like unto a glutton who realized that meal he'd been devouring so ravenously was dung - part shame, part revulsion, and a large measure of horror.
The vomiting afterwards had been the same.
Naturally the first thing the greasy professor had done after voiding his stomach was check the body on the faint hope that it wasn't really dead yet, and unfortunately the little brat hadn't been quite dead; near enough to grant that impression, briefly, but on examination not fully gone yet. And so a quick rush to the Hospital Wing, then a transferal to St. Mungo's when the facilities at school proved insufficient, had so far saved the boy's life.
What Narcissa DID know was that somehow she was going to have to pay for her child's medical expenses; and, as she owned nothing else, was determined to get some official family support so she didn't have to rent herself out as a prostitute to whomever could pay.
Quite a fall from grace for the pureblood queen.
Officially, since this had occurred on school grounds during the school year it was the school's problem and they ought to pay for it. But good luck getting Albus to do something he didn't want to do; and he hadn't volunteered yet, so was unlikely to in the future. And she didn't have the money to get the right lawyers who might have a chance to drag him to court to force him. Those types of lawyers cost more than the medical treatment anyway.
So it would be back to the prostitution option, or getting a family's backing.
Always having been raised in the midst of wealth and privilege, having been surrounded by powerful family members who could accomplish whatever they wanted, Narcissa did not have a good idea of how any other person lived their life - and these last two weeks had been a very unwelcome lesson. At least her sister Andromeda had taken her in, allowing her to stay in Nymphadora's room while her daughter was at auror school. Otherwise she would've had no place to live!
And, while Bellatrix had offered to let her stay at Grimmauld Place, her old family home had fallen into ruin and disrepair, and it was frankly filthy, not to mention those muggles constantly screaming in the basement and the insane elf who bumbled instructions so badly he was more harm than good. So, while it had been a distinct step down for the pureblood princess to go stay in a humble muggle home with the Tonks family, at least it had been clean.
But Andromeda had been clear that her sister could only stay there while her daughter was in school, so the arrangement was strictly temporary. The house was small and they couldn't afford to let her stay long term.
Her only option at that point would be the filthy horror that was Grimmauld Place, the elf who was as apt to poison her unwittingly as serve her tea, and those muggles screaming in the basement at all hours. Not to mention the question of what she was to do for food in that all-but-abandoned property!
And that was all strictly for herself. If she had to take Draco home to that place, still wounded due to incomplete medical treatments that she could not afford (and were presently piling up debts), her child would surely die!
Given that motivation, Narcissa had, a bit indiscreetly, simply skipped the authorization process that had been taking so long for Dumbledore to approve and appeared at Hogwarts to make a plea to both heads of families she might have the most hope of gaining support from. Neither child had any reason to hate her, and she did have cases for proving her relations to them. From there she could play up on the bonds of kin.
Then she entered that room and found three stony faces.
Narcissa saw at once that the plea she had hoped to make had already failed before she'd even set foot in their room. The dignified and elegant lady gave way to the fear and panic she'd been papering over (hoping to make a good impression) and threw herself prostrate on the floor, grabbing Harry's knees as she pled, spouting enough tears to wet his ankles.
"PLEASE, my lord!" Deciding to act on a hint from not long ago when Bellatrix stopped by her house directly after her escape from Azkaban -with a note stating that this boy was to be the new vessel of the Dark Lord, Narcissa adopted a tack she knew would appeal to Voldemort. "Torture me if you like. I beg of you to enjoy my pain and screams. But do not let me descend to the level of a base whore! My financial situation is desperate, and I need your support that my life and my line may continue!"
Harry glanced away, suddenly ashamed. This was something Tom Riddle would have enjoyed, purebloods abasing themselves to find favor with him. What he did not know was that Narcissa had chosen that route precisely because it would've appealed to Voldemort, whom she thought he was, and she truly was desperate enough to accept exactly what she'd only just proposed.
Hermione was horrified as well, but Luna simply bent down and began to play with Narcissa's hair, bouncing the locks as would a child. Stroking a finger down the side of the woman's face, she asked, "It would seem ashame to mar this with scars. Why would you want that?"
A quick glance assured the former Black princess that Harry wasn't as interested in her debasement as the Dark Lord would've been. That caused her no relief, only concern. Had she played wrongly? "It is for my lord to decide whatever he wants done with me. I bow to whatever he demands."
"Up!" Luna declared, tapping her on the shoulder.
And, seeing as how Harry did not correct or overrule her, Narcissa obeyed.
Leading her behind a changing screen, as old houses (which described magical living fairly well) tended to have, Luna commanded again, "Strip!"
Once again, on seeing Harry not object or correct, Narcissa obeyed, shedding clothes quickly until she stood as bare as though for a shower, acknowledging silently in her own mind it was the first time she'd been like this in front of anyone since her last bath among the girls at their dorm in Slytherin.
Hermione, who'd opened her mouth in horror and begun to object, caught this thought as she read it from the woman's mind with her growing powers of passive Legilimency, and instantly her concern shifted focus and she joined Luna, who was conducting a careful search for Dark Marks.
Harry, having the memories of the man who gave them, knew she did not have one, so stayed safely on the other side of that screen where he could not see anything below the woman's shoulders.
Actually, figuring they didn't need him for this, Harry got up to go. However Hermione noted certain other details, then commanded firmly, "Harry, don't you dare walk away from this conversation!"
The boy stared at her, shocked. Hermione gestured over to where Luna was having Narcissa turn slowly for her inspection. "You're not seeing anything inappropriate from over there, Harry. Besides, even if you did I'm not sure it would be wrong. She's yours now, just like Bellatrix. She wants to be yours, and I'm sure you can find some use for her - one better than torturing or debasing her, anyway."
Seeing he remained in confusion, the bookworm rolled her eyes. "HARRY!We DO need allies, and here is one volunteering! I don't know that we can afford to turn her away."
Luna spoke calmly from where she was examining the bottom of Narcissa's left foot, wanting to be VERY thorough in her inspection, due to how much harm traitors had done in the last war, "Besides, we are already expanding beyond the threesome. With the small population of Fae and Fairy, it might even be considered necessary to our mission."
The boy's eyes suddenly lit up in understanding, a look that was cheerfully mirrored on Luna's face, who offered, smiling, "You also HAVE to consider, she was never a real wife in the muggle sense."
Seeing the story painted in the thoughts behind Narcissa's puzzled eyes, Hermione winced in sympathy, before explaining in gentle tones to Harry(who'd been trying his best not to look anywhere near the woman), "Harry, evil people do not care for others. The selfishness they show in everything makes that impossible! They care for themselves only. That makes the kind of marriage most people consider normal, where the spouses love each other and their children, impossible. At best they can only pretend. Selfishness is all about 'Me, Me, Me' while true love is all about sacrifice and putting others first - to the extent you are filled with one you are blocked from having the other, and Lucius was an extremely selfish man! It defined his existence!"
"How was Draco born, then?" Harry shot back, thinking he was clever.
Since it was he who asked the question, Narcissa hurried to answer,"I gave a potion ingredient drawn from a certain portion of my body. Lucius gave another. Then we had a muggleborn woman go through the pregnancy for us."
Luna knew that from what she knew of pureblood culture. Having virgins about was important for a wide assortment of ritual magics. Hermione knew it from having seen the lack of certain changes to a woman's figure wrought by having a pregnancy. But still she thought the very concept disgusting.
Harry hadn't a clue, Voldemort having cared nothing for such things.
Seeing his confusion, the pureblood witch tried to explain, "The population of witches and wizards is so low all contraceptive charms, spells or potions are massively illegal, not just to use but to teach or invent. Casting a castration hex is punishable by twelve years forced pregnancy, along with a permanent gender change if you weren't female at the time you cast it. Books with such spells are banned, for good reason. We are already a dying race. We don't need to accelerate that process any more than it already is by our internal wars and things. Our society needs all the children it can get."
Seeing by his confusion the delicate approach hadn't worked, she tried again.
"Perhaps I could put it this way: Barring birth control or accident, husbands who are interested in their wives do more than have an heir and stop there. Even the muggle aristocracy have an heir and a spare, and that is using those contraceptives that are terribly illegal among us. No? Well then allow me to spell it out in gory detail: Lucius had an unhealthy interest in little boys, and belonged to a social club whose motto is: 'Sex by eight, it's too late'. Rabastan and Rodolphus are senior members."
Narcissa gave them all a very direct look. "All three of them were far more interested in Draco than they ever were in me or Bellatrix."
Harry's jaw now hung open, gaping in disgusted astonishment.
Once again, Tom Riddle had cared nothing for those things. Having sacrificed his own sex organs in a dark ritual to make him ageless, he'd ignored entire facets of pureblood culture. Anything related to sex and dynasties, really, and Harry was really beginning to keenly feel those gaps in knowledge.
Luna snorted mirthfully. "Dumbledore may have founded the local chapter."
Narcissa shrugged, feeling progress by what she'd judged of his expressions."It's possible. I know they socialized with him at those events."
"No birth control at all?" Hermione asked, eyes round, thinking of all the children that could lead to. But then, children weren't a bad thing...
The pureblood witch standing there in all her naked glory behind the changing screen shrugged, eying Harry out of the corner of her eye to judge his reaction while she answered this young little Miss' question, "There are such spells and potions available, of course. Being illegal has never stopped certain families. If anything that is a draw to some of them."She delicately did not state that two of those families were represented by their heads standing before her, as she had no clue as yet as to whether or not they'd choose to continue those policies of gleefully disobeying laws just because they could. "From what I understand the longer they are used the harder they are to reverse, leading to permanent sterility after not much time on them. Entire families died out learning that. Still, as I'd said, some enjoy it just because it is forbidden. But frankly Lucius had no interest in women for the lure of the forbidden to fan. His desires lay more in causing death and collecting power than in creating life -and he was an ideal most pureblood men aspire to."
Having finally gotten the message, Harry nodded soberly.
"Well," Luna chirruped brightly, having found no marks despite an inspection a gynecologist could be proud of, "the first thing we'll be interested in is Draco having one of those permanent gender changes you spoke of. We'll agree to cover his medical expenses if you, as his guardian, sign for that."
"Of course," Narcissa agreed demurely, sensing victory. Better her child be alive than anything else; and paying those bills was impossible for her without their support; so whatever their reasons, they had power to make demands. And she would obey them.
Seeing the other two stare at her, Luna giggled brightly. "What? It's the only thing left to take from him to reduce his status among pureblood wizards. As you just heard, they have little use for witches. Not having a name, wealth or a family to call his own, his gender is the only thing left to take away!"
Turning to explain to Narcissa, she said, "Your ponce of a son has been our nemesis since we first came to this school, never missing an opportunity to insult, assault or belittle us. We see this as a necessary act of revenge."
Narcissa silently cursed her child. Far be it from a pureblood queen to get in the way of revenge for someone more powerful than her when she needed their support for her own sake. Besides, they'd never been close. Draco had always idolized his father, so was more his child than hers anyway.
Pureblood witches had learned to be good about sacrificing anything to those in power if they wanted to keep their comfortable lifestyles. She had put up with Lucius being a Death Eater, and had been willing to accept Voldemort's torture of her person in order to maintain her standard of living.
This was nothing by comparison.
Draco had chosen his enemies, and she needed those same people as allies right now - Perhaps forever, as she didn't want any other life than to be part of a powerful family, and these two were her only real opportunity for that.
Still, what was left of her maternal instinct satisfied herself that at least Draco would live. His medical bills would be paid for. And if Draco was going to become a girl in exchange, well, at least he would be alive.
There was so much else worse that they could do to him.
Hermione had been concentrating all this time, running through ideas in her head. Considering all of the times Draco'd made derogatory remarks to her about being a 'mudblood whore', and figuring out what his probable use for that sort of person had been after hearing his mother's story about hiring muggleborns to go through pregnancy on her behalf, Hermione acquired a nasty smirk of her own. "You know, perhaps we should consider taking poor little Draca" (feminine of Draco, she knew her Latin) "back into the fold - just long enough to give her a dowry and arrange for her to be engaged to both Crabbe and Goyle? Provided we get a contract stating that she bears all her own children, of course."
"She'd have to bear at least a dozen," Luna nodded, agreeing with the sentiment fervently. "By each."
"Nurse them, too," the bookworm added, noting by the lack of signs that was another thing the woman standing there nude had not done.
"Of course," Narcissa nodded regally. It would land her offspring among a pureblood household or two, which was the only life Draco had ever known- the only one he was suited for, really. It would require some adjustments, but better, (to her mind) than living on the streets, which was the alternative. If that was the best thing she could do for him, at least it wasn't so bad.
Life and home. No, they were being quite generous to Draca, really. Offering a future to one of their enemies? These people were being kind to a fault, by the standards of her culture.
That spoke well for her own future among them.
Satisfied that she had done her best, Narcissa released her conscience from its last hold on her stranger of a son and accepted that her daughter would have, if not a good life, then at least a tolerable one.
Draco might have different ideas, of course.
Luna was already counting up the PR benefits of having 'done so much to advance the pureblood cause', and 'made such a sacrifice to guarantee the continuation of pureblood lines', by transforming Draco into a baby factory to two of the roughest and ugliest (but purest!) boys at school.
Almost better revenge than having killed him, really.
The Luna frowned softly, stating, "We're going to have to juggle some legal hoops in order to make Draca non-inheritable, take her in as a ward instead of a child, just so she doesn't get any ideas about assassinating me again."
Narcissa grew VERY still, suppressing a shudder as she silently cast her child off. She NEEDED these benefactors!! And wasn't about to tie herself to a sinking ship. Failed assassinations were taken VERY poorly among purebloods, and whatever Lucius' child got, the little brat deserved.
Frankly, she counted it a miracle they'd be willing to pay her medical bills, and whatever they wanted to do to Draca in return, well, it was deserved. Lucius would have terminated the boy himself for having failed, if he were still alive, even if he hadn't been the target. Failed assassinations were Very Bad Form!
If you were going to do it, you ought to do it right!
Narcissa was enough of a pureblood to cast off family as required, and in this case it was definitely required! Draca was on her own from now on! In fact, she had to make this position clear to her new benefactors so they didn't entertain any doubts as to her loyalties, so Narcissa offered,"There is a breeder contract that would suit just fine, similar to the one we used to spawn the beast actually. Draca herself would have no status as part of any family, a hired maid basically, but her children would be Crabbes and Goyles. Is that what you're after? Her wages could be set quite low."
"Perfect!" Both Luna and Hermione declared in unison.
Harry looked green around the gills. He raised a finger, "All that aside, what about Narcissa here? What place do we have for her?"
Voldemort had not been particularly impressed with pureblood loyalties. Strictly speaking, they didn't have any. Most of them would stay bought so long as you were the best deal they'd been offered, but that was as far as they'd extend loyalty, even for family members.
Case in point: Here was Narcissa casting off her own child, rather than going to someone else for her money. Not that she had a great deal of chance with any of the other rich families, but there were people who'd live in a shipping crate on the street rather than part with family. But the purebloods didn't have that sort of loyalty among them.
Harry found it rather hard to trust them, especially considering the number of secrets he had. Not even Tom Riddle had trusted them without a dark mark forcing their cooperation. Purebloods just weren't very trustworthy!
Which explained why they almost never showed up in Hufflepuff House. He considered Susan Bones the exception; but the exception proves the rule- just like Bellatrix' blindly devoted loyalty to him was out of place among purebloods. It stood out because it was unusual. Most Death Eaters were out for the rewards they got for service to the Dark Lord, whether that be plunder or an opportunity to kill. She considered serving him its own reward.
Narcissa had instantly frozen at his question of 'what place do we have for her', fearing to make a suggestion but intensely interested in the answer. Her own life and future was being decided now - or if she even HAD a life or a future!
No, naturally she was quite interested, and would do anything to skew the results in her favor, but wasn't certain what to say that could count in her favor, so remained quiet for now, waiting for one of them to say something that she could hopefully then improve on.
"Sirius would be unhappy if we couldn't do something good for her,"Hermione stated authoritatively, inspecting the woman thoughtfully.
The former Malfoy standing there naked behind the screen (they hadn't given her leave to dress yet) silently blessed her sweet hearted Gryffindor cousin, resolving to do something nice to repair that relationship soon.
He was now a valuable ally to have, to her mind. That comment alone sufficed to make him so.
Luna, having considered the matter well enough to her mind, gave the woman a slap on her bare flank and said, "Alright, I've seen enough. You're hired. I need a Piratical Maid of All-Work."
You see, reading the Quibbler upside-down could get boring, especially when she wrote more than half of it herself. And triple days meant she had so many more odd moments to fill! So she'd taken to reading muggle plays she'd snuck out of Hermione's collection.
And there had been that nice one called The Pirates of Penzance.
"A what?!?" Narcissa blinked, nonplused.
"I need someone to do illegal things for me," Luna calmly explained with a sly smile. "All kinds of things."
"But, hired..." the woman had really wanted to be part of a family.
The blonde Ravenclaw snorted disparagingly. "Being idle is bad for people, and idle rich get into all sorts of nasty hobbies, as I'm sure you're aware- you were only just complaining about Uncle Lucy's pastimes, after all. So I want you to show me that you know how to work. If you can show me that you can learn some Hufflepuff qualities, namely hard work and loyalty, I'm willing to accept you as a Darling."
"Well, I guess she was willing to accept disfigurement and torture,"Hermione mused thoughtfully. "So she has no excuse to refuse this, which is far better in my opinion." Firming up, she declared, "I'm with Luna on this. Hard work only improves people, and loyalty is a trait everyone should have. Both would serve you well, if you could learn them."
"Besides," Luna softened into dreamy wistfulness, "Harry has Dobby to work and smuggle things in and out of Hogwarts for him, and it's entirely unfair that he hasn't offered to share. So now I get my own servant. And, if she can prove herself the kind of person I want as family, then later a Darling."
"Sounds eminently reasonable," Harry agreed.
Luna bobbed her head merrily. "And, if things work out, you can take her as a mistress."
Harry's eyes bugged out.
Realizing she was teasing, Hermione flicked a lock of hair out of her face to answer, "By medieval law, and thus of course wizarding laws since they're almost the same, any man who is married is an adult no matter his age - A second way of achieving the freedoms you got as the acting head of the Black family, making both of the means more secure, and less subject to contest of any sort."
Luna continued dreamily, "It need not be spoken that, as an adult, you are far harder for Dumbledore to control. And thus he'd do anything to take that status away from you. You could be the only fifty year old man in full control of his faculties to still be considered a child, if he had anything to say about it. So he's going to do something. We just don't know what. So we'll act first, and he'd have to react immediately in order to stop it; and even then it would cost him a lot to do so."
Narcissa raised a delicately trimmed eyebrow, showing a slight smirk for the first time in their presence. "Not only that, if Dumbledore did go ahead and try, he would be showing everyone that he has the power to do this to them as well. The courts are very careful about setting precedents like that."
Hermione was considering, her sympathy for the pureblood witch overcoming her hesitations. "You know, we should get the marriage of Bellatrix dissolved at the same time."
"Better would be to arrange to have Rabastan and Rodolphus executed, so you can claim those family properties," Narcissa offered, dropping her eyes demurely to the floor.
"You see!" Luna bounced to a standing position, hugging the naked older woman. "I KNEW we needed her! That's my gift, to see needful things. Imay not know how to get them, or even what they're useful for, but I know what's needed! Our dear Narcissa will take over Lucius' position of political savvy insider helping us from that angle, after swearing Unbreakable Vows of loyalty, of course."
"I live to serve," Narcissa bowed regally in the nude (harder than you'd think).
Luna snorted. "I bet you do."
The bookworm was grinning. "You know," she paused, before blurting out,"Whilst old age and treachery WILL generally trump youth and skill, it WON'T trump youth, skill, experience, an assortment of strange and useful esoteric powers, the advantage of complete and utter surprise and a comprehensive, sustained, ruthless and totally unpredictable campaign which old age and treachery can't foresee, block, evade, strike back at, recover from or even catch a breathing space in. Unfortunately (for Bumbles, anyway), that's exactly what he's in the middle of! And the more people we have to carry on the fight, the better!"
"We can't go to Wizengamot sessions while attending Hogwarts. So we do need a proxy to cast our votes for us; and lacking any other person of our choice, Dumbledore would be our proxy by default. The Headmaster was very careful about arranging that," Harry tentatively agreed in principle to needing a politically savvy insider to the government, and trying desperately to draw them to a practical instead of teasing angle.
He did not have much experience being teased. Growing up as Harry all of the nasty things said to him were meant with real intent, and Tom Riddle was a bully who hurt people who tried teasing him. So graciously accepting playful jibes meant in fun was one of those areas he was lacking in.
Something Sirius would like to do something about, he felt sure.
"I was someone secure who could listen and act as sounding board for Lucius on all of his schemes," Narcissa kept her eyes on the floor. "While I did not agree with all of them, I am well acquainted with how he exerted his influence on politics. Having accompanied him to formal dinners and dances, I have also met all the right people, and belong to the correct social circles... or would, if only I had a name and home and decent living stipend for wardrobe and such."
Catching a proud twinkle of victory in the witch's downturned eye, Luna gave her a hard slap on her bare flank. "None of that, now!"
"We'll draw up a list of instructions," Hermione offered. "And depending on how well you carry them out... well, promotions are based on performance around here."
Luna nodded firmly, ordering the older woman. "Get dressed. We'll have a list of tasks for you in a moment, along with perks you'll enjoy should you be able to carry them out."
Still behind the changing screen, Narcissa scrambled into her clothes.
I I I
This scene actually falls in between the second to last and last scenes of the previous chapter, but it just kept growing and growing...
And I also disagree with the sentiment espoused in the Pirates of Penzance that "when a felon's not engaged in his employment he's just the same as any honest man." Being evil twists a person. I have personally witnessed that in real life. And pureblood culture has had a long time to get itself thoroughly twisted.