Chapter: I. Luce
Fandom: Harry Potter
Chapter Rating: PG-13
Pairing: Harry/Draco (intended); others.
Disclaimer: JKR owns. I only play. You do not sue.
Chapter Warnings: There's a baby.
Chapter Length: 3200 words
Chapter Summary: Some time after the war, Draco visits Diagon Alley. Disguised as a woman. With a pram. And a baby in it. What could go wrong?
Beta: None. Read at your own risk.
Notes: See above. Luce is pronounced like this (the first one). The name was inspired by both the eponymous minor character in KHR and Lucius's name. Of all the [things] in the world, A had to [verb] into B's is a Casablanca reference, and the Gold Roger company is a nod to One Piece.
Concrit: Always welcome and appreciated.
An unjust peace is better than a just war. [Cicero]
"It's a girl."
Draco looked up at the midwife. The stocky, grim-faced witch's brow shone with sweat; she looked exhausted, as though she'd been the one giving birth. From above the manse courtyard, a baby's lusty wail pierced the tranquil roar of the Ionian Sea.
A spike of sudden terror seized Draco, lodging like ice in his spine. Why had this woman come down here personally; why hadn't she just leaned out of the window and shouted for him to come up? "Is Mother--?"
"Your mother is fine. They're both fine. I've been asked to bring you so you may meet your sister."
Draco followed the woman into the gloomy antechamber and up the winding staircase to the manse's second floor. The birthing room had been bright and airy when he'd left; now the floating globes of light along the walls had dimmed, and the air smelled of blood and salt. Though he'd had no wish to observe the birth, he had wanted to at least sit in the corner, but the women had ushered him out. That had been seventeen hours and thirty-four minutes ago.
Narcissa Malfoy lay against a mountain of cushions, hair clinging to her face in messy clumps. The child lay next to her, swaddled in white, no longer wailing. The midwife walked towards the window and slid it shut, issuing a muttered instruction to her colleague, who was busy with the washbasin in the corner.
Draco was hesitant to come further into the room -- shouldn't the midwives have cast some kind of purification spell to make sure he didn't bring some sort of disease in with him?
"Is her head supposed to be that large?" he asked, studying the baby from the doorstep.
The women all chuckled, and Narcissa gave him an amused half-smile. "Yours was bigger."
Draco blushed and took a tiny step forward.
"What was the word for 'light' in Italian, again?" Narcissa asked the midwife. "I used to know it, long ago."
"It is luce, Lady Narcissa."
"That's right," Narcissa said, touching the infant's cheek gently with the back of her hand. "Hello, Luce."
They spent the first five months after Luce's birth at the Malfoy manse in the Unplottable wizarding settlement near Fontane Bianche. Draco had been born here, too, with the same midwives attending. Back then, those women had summoned Lucius Malfoy from the courtyard overlooking the sea to meet his firstborn son.
Lucius's second child would never know his face but for old photographs. He had left behind no wizarding portraits.
They had sent word to Azkaban with news of Narcissa's twenty-eight-week pregnancy two months into Lucius's imprisonment. The child would be six years old before Lucius's first parole checkpoint, but that hadn't mattered. They could wait. Narcissa hadn't even realised she was pregnant until she started to show; she'd written off the other changes to her body to heightened stress. To think that she could have told him in person! But they could wait, or so they'd thought.
Three weeks later, a Ministry official had delivered a letter of empty condolences and a box of personal effects.
Lucius's cell door had been left open by mistake after the prisoners' midday meal one day. A pair of wandering Dementors had also had their lunch. Prison officials regretted the unfortunate oversight. Per Azkaban protocol and Ministry decree, allowing Dementor victims to live was inhumane, and Lucius Malfoy's living shell had been fed a fast-acting poison and incinerated a week prior to the letter's date. The turnkey responsible had been reprimanded and deprived of six weeks' pay. Bereavement compensation would be negotiated on the family's behalf by a Ministry barrister, but the process would unfortunately take a number of years, as prison resources were stretched thinner than ever due to the influx of inmates from the Death Eater trials.
The box had contained the dress robes Lucius had worn to his sentencing, an empty coin purse, his wand, and Narcissa's letter. The prison censors had still been examining it when the guards had found Lucius.
Draco and Narcissa had still been under house arrest at that time. Ministry charges of dangerous sedition against Narcissa had been dropped due to her role in saving Harry Potter's life in the war's final hours. Draco's charges had been reduced summarily with the rest of the Death Eater children attending Hogwarts at the time: the Wizengamot felt it would be too difficult and time-consuming to prove that any of them acted on their own accord rather than due to blind family loyalty.
Both Narcissa and Draco had been sentenced to three months of house arrest each and lifetime bans on leaving England for longer than six months per year. They'd relocated to their holiday manse on Sicily's southern shore one month before Narcissa's due date -- not only that the child wouldn't have to endure the English winter, but also to avoid Narcissa's pregnancy being noticed by the Ministry.
The Malfoy name would only ensure doors slamming shut in Luce's face as she grew, and Narcissa had decided -- even before news of her husband's death -- that they would not permit that. When it was time for the child to go to Hogwarts, the Malfoys couldn't hide where she lived and with whom. But they could at least ensure that there would be no direct association to the Death Eater family name already in History of Magic textbooks.
Luce was entered into the Fontane Bianche settlement family register as Luce Allegra Marino. A local witch had suffered a premature stillbirth a month before Luce's arrival; it had taken Draco three weeks to convince the family to lend their surname to his sister, and another three days to bribe the local wizarding council to doctor the official record. Allegra Marino had never been stillborn; instead, a healthy Luce Allegra had arrived a month later, with a head full of wispy blond hair and a voice like pocket-sized thunder.
Draco had hated the idea of raising the child as adoptive, but he had not argued. Father's death had been a shocking blow to them both, and he couldn't stand the idea of adding to his mother's sorrows, especially in her condition. They agreed that when Luce was old enough to understand everything that had happened, they would tell her the whole story and give her a choice.
And now it was time for the mandatory return to Wiltshire. The house elves had been packing for a week; a carriage would arrive in three hours to take them to Syracuse, where they would board a Gold Roger brigantine bound for Southampton.
Narcissa handed the swaddled Luce to Draco. "See if she'll have a bit of a doze, will you please?"
Draco placed the child in her cot by the drawing room's open window. Her tiny nose wrinkled, and her mouth quivered briefly, but she closed her eyes. She was perhaps too old to be swaddled already, but it still made her fall asleep quickly, and she did need her nap today. Draco remained standing next to the cot, knowing from experience that if he moved before she was sound asleep, Luce would cry. She did not like to be alone.
"Say, Mother," he said in the now-habitual don't-wake-the-baby voice. "I thought of a way for us not to go back."
Narcissa looked up from her embroidery. "Why wouldn't we go back? England is our home."
"Some home," Draco said. "They hate us. They only want us there six months out of every year because they don't want us to be happy, as we could be if we simply moved elsewhere."
"Happiness is a relative concept," Narcissa said, frowning at a stitch. "If we fled elsewhere, we would leave behind so many memories. I do not wish to forget your father."
Draco's frown mirrored hers. "Could you really forget him?"
Narcissa sighed. "Sometimes I fear I already have. Your face is all I have here to remind me of him, and Luce is clearly a child of the Black family."
That much was true. Whereas Draco's face was a younger version of his father's, Luce resembled her aunt Andromeda most of all. But how could his mother say she'd nearly forgotten her husband? It had barely been a year since his death.
"Besides, Draco, I will not risk outlaw status; I cannot. If we flee, and we're discovered, we'll be taken back for a new trial. What would become of Luce if they decide we are to share your father's fate?"
"But we wouldn't be discovered," Draco argued. "We can sell all our properties on the continent, then empty out our Gringotts vaults and open a new one in Luce's name. Greece is just across the sea, and their wizarding government doesn't have a clear-cut extradition treaty with England. Nor is there any love lost between the two, from what I remember." He saw that Narcissa was watching him and took it as encouragement. "We could become the Marino family -- I shall talk to the council Elder; his daughter fancies me -- alter our appearance a little bit, and no one would ever find us. Gringotts would be the only lead, and those goblins would sooner stop doing business with a whole country than reveal a single client's secrets."
Narcissa set her embroidery hoops on the bow-legged side table next to her rocking chair and straightened her back. "We couldn't just sell off all our properties at our leisure. The goblins are remarkable at protecting client privacy, it is true, but even they are bound by law to provide accounting reports for taxation purposes. Do you really think the wretched bean counters at the Ministry will not notice that our gold is multiplying?"
"There must be a way around it. After selling one, keep the money in trust with a lesser bank and instruct them to deposit it in small amounts... tell Gringotts to call it household income, like we're renting the properties or something."
"That would take years, Draco," Narcissa said. "Luce would be in her second year at Hogwarts before we could move, and by then it wouldn't make a difference, would it?"
"Yeah," Draco conceded. If they were to reap any real benefits from flight, they needed to do it before Luce knew a world outside the two of them. He didn't care what the rabble in England thought of him and his mother. He just wanted to shield Luce from any possible pain.
"I know how you feel," Narcissa said, rising to approach the cot. "A part of me doesn't want her there, either. But I grew up there, and so did your father, and so did you, and all the generations before. We will make it work somehow. When you marry--"
"I know, Draco. I am not saying you must marry any time soon. But when you are ready, we can make sure to ally with a family in the current leadership's favour--"
"What, like the Weasleys?" Draco interrupted, scowling. "The blasted leadership is full of Mud-- excuse me, Muggle-borns and their sympathisers--"
Luce began to squirm a little, and he shut up promptly.
"We have discussed this, Draco," Narcissa said. She put a soft hand on his shoulder, but her voice was steel. "We must unlearn those prejudices if we're to restore the Malfoy name."
"I know," Draco said.
For his part, he saw nothing wrong with having whatever prejudices he liked as long as he kept them hidden from people who mattered. Was he to forsake all that his father had taught him?
He knew better than to raise that line of reasoning in his mother's presence, of course. She had been in frequent correspondence with Andromeda Tonks since the Death Eater trials, and that had somehow convinced her that the Old Blood way of doing things would never work again. Well, he couldn't blame her; the Black family did produce two blood traitors in the same generation. What was one more?
As soon as the thought materialised in Draco's mind, he felt ashamed. For his father's sake, he didn't want to change -- but his father was dead, his soul devoured, his ashes scattered in icy waters far from home. His mother and Luce were all he had; what would he gain by setting himself against them?
"Excuse me, Mistress and Young Master," rasped Prego, the head house-elf, from the doorway. "Will Mistress and Young Master take their afternoon tea in the drawing room today?"
Luce's eyes opened and she scrunched up her face to cry, but Draco snatched her up and rocked her, glaring at the elf. He wanted to kick it -- both for waking the child and because he wanted to release his fury somehow. But ever since Dobby's escape, his mother had forbidden harm to the Malfoy house-elves.
"Thank you, Prego," Narcissa said. "We shall take our tea in the courtyard today. Please bring out Luce's pram."
"Courtyard. Pram for Young Mistress," the creature said, bowing out of the room.
"Come, Draco," Narcissa said. "Let us enjoy our last afternoon by the sea."
"Why is baby crying?" Draco asked, lifting Luce out of her high chair, where she had been wailing for a full twenty seconds after her late-morning feeding. "Did Mummy feed baby something funny again?"
Luce quieted, still frowning. Draco puffed out his cheeks, staring at her, and she laughed, though with some reluctance -- as though she wasn't ready to stop being upset yet.
She loved it when Draco made faces at her and when Narcissa moved her tiny flailing limbs for exercise. She even loved it when the house-elves changed her nappies; one would work while a second one let her grab at its ears. It didn't take very much at all for her to forget her tiny troubles and start to laugh. Luce was a happy child, and Draco meant to make sure that would never change.
"Still no teeth?" Draco asked. "And here I thought you could have steak with us tomorrow."
Luce attempted to stick her finger in his eye.
"She hated the broccoli," Narcissa said, appearing in the doorway. "Hence the free concert."
Draco gave Luce an exaggeratedly stern look. "You hate everything but apples, demon child. Are you a rabbit? Wizards are omnivores. O-M-N-I-V-O-R-E-S. Say it with me."
Luce laughed again.
"Will you have time to take her for a walk before you go to the Zabinis'?" Narcissa asked, taking Luce from him. "I should like to try and write some letters this afternoon."
"I thought I'd take her to Diagon Alley, actually," Draco said, his tone casual.
It was May first; Luce was six months old today. It has been just over a month since they'd returned to Wiltshire. He hadn't ventured outside the Manor except to see former housemates, and he'd used the private Floo network for those visits. He wanted to see -- not just hear about -- how the world had changed in the last year.
Narcissa half-turned to him, a measure of alarm evident on her face. "Is that wise?"
"Don't worry," Draco said. "I'll alter my appearance and borrow one of your veils. It'll double as training for when Luce has a governess."
Relaxed incredulity replaced Narcissa's alarm. "Sometimes I forget you are still a child."
"Hardly," Draco drawled. "I'll be nineteen in a month."
"Like I said," Narcissa replied fondly, shifting Luce to her other arm. "A child. Very well, then: I'll get the slightly smaller child ready for her debut."
Twenty minutes later, Draco pushed Luce's pram into the Manor's spacious travelling fireplace. He wore a set of his mother's old robes and one of her cloche hats, a dark green, gauzy veil covering half his face. He had already let his hair grow past his shoulders in conscious imitation of his father, so all he'd needed for this occasion was to colour it jet-black and flip it out at the ends. His eyes were now a dark brown and his lips slightly fuller and rouged; he looked nothing like a Malfoy or a Black.
"What a fine pair of daughters," his mother remarked with a wry look. "Be safe."
Draco tossed Floo Powder under his feet. "Diagon Alley!"
The Diagon fireplace frequently saw large groups, so there was plenty of room for the pram. Draco pushed Luce out across the floor, and it occurred to him that he had never had to navigate a crowd with the pram before. He aimed his wand surreptitiously at his throat and shortened his vocal cords. It wouldn't do for a dainty young governess to speak with a distinctly male voice.
He cleared his throat and bent low over the pram. "Hello, baby," he said. It was a little deeper than he'd aimed for, but definitely feminine.
The baby stared up at him with wide eyes.
"Does your new governess sound strange to you, Mistress Marino?" Draco asked, a little louder. "She sounds strange to herself."
Luce guffawed and stared at him expectantly, as if to say, do that again, minion of mine. Draco nodded, satisfied. If he could fool his sister, he could fool anyone.
"Right, then," Draco said, wheeling the pram around towards the street.
The lunch crowds were already dispersing; he'd be able to walk without jostling anyone. He wouldn't dare venture into Knockturn Alley with Luce, but at least he'd have a look around to see how many of the Old Blood were still allowed to do business in the open.
The cobblestones made the pram judder this way and that, and Luce found this hilarious, yelping and giggling and waving her rattle with great enthusiasm. Draco became so absorbed in her that he forgot to watch where he was going.
"Oh, no, I am so sorry," Draco squeaked at the pair of legs behind the pram, watching Luce worriedly; the jolt had made her stop laughing. "I do apologise; it's her first time on the cobblestones, and--"
"It's no problem," said a voice that Draco knew well. Too well. He looked up and found a pair of brilliant green eyes behind round glasses, underneath a shock of black hair that time, evidently, could not tame. Harry bloody Potter, looking as smug as ever. Of all the legs in the world, Draco had to barrel Luce's pram into Potter's.
Next to Potter stood Ginny Weasley, looking less smug -- it wasn't physically possible for anyone to out-smug Potter -- and even prettier than Draco remembered.
"Oh, she's adorable!" Ginny exclaimed, craning her neck to look at Luce, who promptly began to frown. Come to think of it, she'd never seen a stranger before.
Of course Luce was fucking adorable; she was the most adorable child the world had ever seen. That still didn't mean Draco liked hearing it from Ginny bloody Weasley. And to think the first unfamiliar face Luce saw belonged to a Weasley!
Ginny turned to him.
Draco half-expected horror to dawn on her face as she realised she was looking at Draco Malfoy, but nothing like that happened. A glance stolen sideways cemented it: Potter was more interested in the broomsticks on display across the street than in Draco. There had been the initial once-over but no recognition.
"How old is she?" Ginny asked.
...feign friendliness and engage Ginny in conversation about Luce.
...answer the question politely but make no further attempt at conversation.
...pretend he didn’t notice Ginny and keep walking.
...roll his eyes and stalk off in a huff.
...investigate the shrubbery.