Chapter 1: Several years earlier...

It was the first and only time she would be happy that Lucius had been called out of town on business. Though it started out as a bitter disappointment because it meant that he wouldn't be available to retrieve Draco from Kings Cross with herself and their niece, Claire, who was on her own vacation from Beauxbatons. Especially since it was Draco's first holiday home from Hogwarts and it had been even more trying than she'd imagined to have him away at school. She'd wanted them all back together as much as possible before he returned to Scotland in just two short weeks. But Lucius' business associates were oblivious to that desire and had owled to summon him to France just that morning. She'd seen the missive and admitted that the trip was unavoidable; that didn't allay her irritation. To temper her disappointment she'd planned an outing to Diagon Alley with the children and then dinner out, she knew she would feel Lucius' absence less if they weren't at the Manor all night.

They were rounding out their shopping at Flourish and Blotts and, as usual, she'd lost track of Draco. They had a library at home that could rival any in Europe and yet her son never failed to get lost in every bookshop they wandered into and re-emerge with a pile of books that he just couldn't live without. As happy as he had been to see her, much to her pleasure, he had been even more pleased to be let loose inside of a bookshop (and earlier a quidditch shop), and so she'd given him more free reign than usual- she'd never been able to resist spoiling him.

She started searching for him in earnest when she realized that they were getting dangerously close to missing their reservation. Not that the restaurant would dare give her table away, she was the Lady of one of the most powerful, and certainly the wealthiest House in Britain, one did not want to risk losing her patronage, but it was rude to be late. After a few minutes of searching she spotted his distinctive hair through a gap in the bookshelves and quickly rounded the corner to collect him with Claire trailing obediently behind her. However, instead of hurrying him out of the shop she came to a startled halt when she saw the scene unfolding in front of her.

Her son was standing there scowling at a girl about his age who was still dressed in her Hogwarts robes. Narcissa hid a moue of distaste at the red and gold Gryffindor trim as not to offend the girl. In the end her house loyalties mattered little anyway, not compared to what she saw happening between the girl and her Draco.

Narcissa was not a Seer. She did not get visions of the future, she had never given a prophecy, but she did see more than most other witches. Or perhaps you could say that she saw deeper.

As a small child it had thrilled her; the colors she saw swirling around people, the things she just knew about them instinctively, the energy that pulsed amongst them. But that had turned to fear when she'd grown a little and began making comments about what she was seeing to her sisters and was harshly informed that what she was experiencing was not normal. Luckily, she'd had a governess for a time (they never lasted long, Bellatrix inevitably frightened them off) who realized her young charge's talent and encouraged it.

She learned to trust her sight and how to utilize it to judge people and relationships. It was how she knew that Lucius was good and that he would love and take care of her despite his family's dark reputation. She saw the potential for a loving relationship with him the first time they'd met after she'd been sorted into Slytherin despite the haughty way he'd introduced himself.

Her ability was the reason she'd never been close to Bellatrix, but was careful to hide her wariness of her eldest sister lest the dangerous witch catch on and turn against her. Narcissa had watched her descent into madness on a much more intense plane than most, it had been hard to maintain her stoic mask in the face of that kind of insanity. Her eventual incarceration had been a relief.

She'd known of Andromeda's connection to a muggleborn Ravenclaw named Ted Tonks for years before they eloped. She'd realized that the only family member she had any real bond with -their parents were largely indifferent to their three disappointingly female offspring- was probably going to be lost to her. It broke her heart. But she never said anything, she learned to keep her own counsel because she had no innocent way to explain how she knew these things. She was careful to appear passive and pliable, the opposite of formidable, so that nobody would suspect how much she was actually capable of. Her gift was powerful and she treasured it, but she knew it could make her vulnerable if the wrong person learned of it.

When she met the Dark Lord for the first time she knew her caution had been justified. What she experienced in his presence made her violently ill for a week. Despite his good looks and the charming and personable demeanor that had won him so many followers, she knew what a monster he was at first sight. It was all she could do not to grab her husband's hand and flee the scene. But she couldn't, it was too late to warn him, he'd been Marked for years by then, given to his father's master like some sort of prize the moment he'd graduated Hogwarts. She had just been grateful for her well practiced societal mask and the fact that she was largely viewed as harmless, a pretty trophy on Lucius' arm.

When she recovered from the experience she finally began sharing her observations with her husband, she was afraid it was their only chance of survival. He listened, he'd always known there were depths to her that she hid from the world, and together they tiptoed their way through Death Eater politics even as the Dark Lord gradually grew more and more insane. It was only the Potters sacrifice that freed them. Without it she was sure they'd have been dead long ago, and she regularly visited and tended to the young couple's grave in apology and repentance.

So, she knew that what she was seeing now, during this seemingly innocent encounter in a bookshop, was of supreme importance, especially as it involved her precious boy. This was going to change his life. The power that existed between and within Draco and this young girl was incredible. Their auras flowed around them, mingling and creating something truly beautiful. She was certain she'd never seen two people whose magic was so compatible with each others' and that included herself and her husband after more than two decades together. The two children in question seemed completely oblivious to the magical connection they shared, despite how palpable it was to Narcissa. The tension between them was palpable as well and it was certainly less pleasant to behold.

That was when she started to become grateful that Lucius was out of town, because the fact that the girl was still wearing her Hogwarts robes was a dead giveaway that she was a muggleborn. Any child from a magical family would have been sure to change before disembarking the train. Narcissa couldn't have her husband flying off the handle until she'd fully evaluated the situation. One look and Narcissa knew that the connection between Draco and this girl was special, but that wasn't enough information, she needed to do some exploring that would have been just about impossible had her beloved, yet seriously narrow-minded husband been present. At first the girl herself was appeared average, with an insane mop of hair which was unlike anything Narcissa had ever seen before. But a second glance told her something completely different: this girl was as far from average as one could get.

Draco looked at her warily, but as much as he seemed disgusted by her, he also couldn't seem to turn away from her. Narcissa understood why, their auras sang at their proximity; he did not see what Narcissa saw, but he certainly felt something. And the girl herself radiated power; she would grow into a fearsome witch. But more than that, further inspection revealed her as a blossoming beauty as well, albeit in the early stages. She was going to be a striking and powerful woman; no wonder her Draco was drawn to her. And that was exactly the kind of witch that he needed in his life. As much as she adored Lucius she knew that Draco was a bit too much like him for his own good. They both needed a formidable witch at their side to keep them in line.

She swooped in to introduce herself before Draco could say something unforgivably rude, as he appeared ready to do at any moment. The girl was clearly puzzled by her courtesy and kept shooting Draco surreptitious wary glances. That meant they'd had run-ins at school, she assumed. At least he didn't appear to have scared her, he'd probably made his opinion about the circumstances of her birth clear though, his propensity to run his mouth could be very un-Slytherin and she'd been trying to curtail it for years.

As it turned out the girl was called Hermione, which was lovely, just unusual enough, and surprisingly but delightfully un-muggle. She seemed to be unfailingly polite even though her manners were slightly different from those that Narcissa was used to, which she attributed to her muggle upbringing. Narcissa reckoned that, having only been exposed to their world for a few months, she was rather like a blank slate, which was actually quite refreshing. Much better, she realized, than the majority of the wizarding population who thought they knew what they were doing but almost always fell short of the mark. Hermione could still be trained properly.

She invited Hermione and her parents, who had been waiting just outside the shop, to dinner. Draco looked a bit like the world was coming down around him when he heard her issue the invitation, but one sharp look from her silenced him. She didn't miss the slight look of triumph Hermione shot Draco as she agreed to join them for dinner after consulting with her parents, obviously not intimidated by him in the least, something she'd witnessed with several of his peers. Narcissa found herself secretly pleased that the girl could already hold her own against her stubborn and often entitled son.

She watched in silent approval as Hermione performed some simple magic with impressive ease when they reached the restaurant and Narcissa assured her that the trace would not be triggered in Diagon Alley while she was surrounded by magic users. Claire befriended her easily and Draco sulked, but at least he did it quietly. The most pleasant surprise was Richard and Helen Granger who were poised, polite, and well-spoken. She wouldn't even find it a chore to spend time with muggles like these and felt comfortable enough to ask to join in the girls' day that Claire, Hermione, and Helen were planning after Claire expressed clear interest in spending some time in the muggle world. All this time in the back of her mind she was plotting how she was going to break all of this to Lucius, she didn't want to give the poor man a heart attack.

She was waiting for him when he arrived home later that night in a nightie which was provocative enough to entice, but not so distracting as to cause him to want to postpone the discussion they needed to have.

"How is Draco?" he questioned as he entered their suite and approached the chair where she was reading to kiss her in greeting.

"He looks well, I can tell he's pleased to be home. I'm glad he's getting on at Hogwarts but it's nice to know that he misses home as well," she answered, closing her book.

He nodded absentmindedly and began to unbutton his robes as he crossed the room. She rose and followed him into their bedroom and then into his spacious wardrobe. He turned and cocked an eyebrow at her questioningly. He'd only been gone a day and she normally wouldn't have been so clingy following such a short absence, but he'd misinterpreted her actions. While she had missed him and been anxious for him to return home, her behavior was born of excitement and trepidation over what she had to tell him, not an irrational need to stay close to him.

"I met somebody important today," she began.

"Oh?" he questioned blandly, turning back to the task of changing his clothes.

"Yes, she's a classmate of Draco's and she was in Flourish and Blotts at the same time we were."

He let out a noncommittal grunting noise.

"I believe she's Draco's soul mate."

He froze for just a moment but then with an air of great deliberance he continued removing his cravat.

"He's eleven," he answered, "and a rather young eleven at that. You and I barely understood our compatibility at that age and that was with the advantage of your rather unique insight, not that I knew it at the time."

She resisted the urge to roll her eyes.

"I didn't say Draco realized what she could be to him, I'm telling you what I saw between them using my rather unique insight, as you say," she said, voice slightly mocking.

He sighed, sounding greatly put upon, and turned to face her.

"Cissa, I know how you worry about Draco finding real companionship, are you sure you weren't just seeing what you wanted to see?"

It was true, she had worried incessantly about her only child since the moment she'd learned that he was growing inside of her, but especially since he'd gotten old enough to socialize and it became clear what a unique soul he was.

"No," she said firmly, "maybe it won't end in romance, but the friendship is worth cultivating, he needs somebody capable of challenging him and I am certain I saw that in her. Have I ever steered us wrong?" she challenged.

"You're far more intuitive than I, and I don't want to demean your abilities, but how do you know it's not wishful thinking? I just don't want you to get your hopes up."

She saw the hesitation in his eyes and knew it was not for himself but for her. He wanted to give her the world and couldn't stand the thought of a possible disappointment. That was good, if she could get him to concentrate on her desires and not Hermione's unfortunate background, he'd learn to accept her more quickly. She smirked and approached him, running her hands up his bare chest.

"Because she's a muggleborn," she'd have to casually drop the fact that she was also a Gryffindor into a conversation at a later date.

He froze once again, his quicksilver eyes hardened and he clenched his jaw.

"Have you completely taken leave of your senses?!" he hissed.

She stood defiant.

"Of course not. Times have changed, Lucius."

"Yes, but I was unaware that my wife agreed with these changes!"

He loomed over her and his complexion was rapidly reddening, but she could never be afraid of him. However, she needed to make her case before he lost his temper and with it the ability to process what she was saying.

"Are you at least satisfied that I wouldn't imagine a connection between our son and a muggleborn? I am certainly aware of the difficulties her blood status presents," she said primly.

"Difficulties! This is preposterous! What are you thinking? Draco is not going to become involved with a mudblood in any capacity. Please tell me you have not shared this absurd theory with our son," he raged.

She huffed daintily and resisted the urge to roll her eyes. He could be so dramatic, Draco definitely got that from the Malfoy side of the family.

"I'd thank you not to use such vulgar language in my presence. In fact I think it's time that word was purged from your vocabulary."

Frankly, she'd always hated that term, it was gauche. But she'd also always been good at picking her battles.

"What is the matter with you?" he studied her carefully, meeting her eyes and searching them.

"There is nothing at all the matter with me. I simply want Draco to be happy and I want grandchildren."

That brought him up short.

"And you think this filth could make him happy? I can't even speak of what you're implying about his children," he spat.

This time she did roll her eyes.

"She's bright and articulate. She's going to be a beautiful woman and a powerful witch. Together with Draco the world would be their oyster. Their combined power, his resources, her temperament to keep him in check. It's everything we've ever wanted for our son, for your heir," she explained reasonably, like she was trying to persuade him to change the drapes in the breakfast room and not his entire worldview.

"She's a muggle!" he roared.

"She's a witch," Narcissa countered firmly, "her parents may not have magic, but she does, powerful magic. What's more, she doesn't know anything about our world, we would be able to guide her. Would you prefer Draco end up with some half-blood upstart who only wants him for his money and his name? Whom we wouldn't be able to mold the way we can this girl because she has no other connection to our world?"

"I would prefer we keep the bloodline pure! We have a thousand years of history to preserve. We are talking about the fate of the Malfoy line here!"

And this was the crux of her argument.

"Exactly Lucius, I fear if Draco marries a pureblood that we may be talking about the end of the line. We both know that we're fortunate to have even one healthy child, I'm not sure Draco would be that lucky. And I don't want him to go through what we went through. I don't think I could bear to watch him suffer like that, to have trouble conceiving and then be told one pregnancy after another isn't viable. He has a much better chance with a muggleborn and we both know it. We would never keep the Abraxan blood lines so small because we'd never have any healthy foals. It's time to quit living in denial."

"You would compare us to animals?!"

She ignored him and plowed on.

"And have you considered Draco's options? Because of the war there are only a fraction of the students at Hogwarts as there were when we were there and the girls that you would deem acceptable? Let me tell you, the Parkinson child looks as much like a small dog as she does a girl and don't even get me started on the Bulstrode girl. I hear the Weasleys have finally produced a daughter who will be starting at Hogwarts next year, should we consider talking to Arthur about an arrangement?" she finished sweetly.

"Don't be foolish. And surely you're exaggerating, there must be other options," he huffed.

She shrugged delicately, she knew she was getting to him but didn't want to press her advantage too far.

"We could look abroad, but as far as staying within the Sacred 28, I just don't think it's possible. And Lucius, a muggleborn would erase any hint of suspicion about the family, the Dark Lord business would be completely forgotten," she cajoled.

"And you think tainting our bloodline is worth it?" he sneered.

"I think Draco's happiness is worth any price, I'm simply pointing out that there are other benefits. And listen, I'm not saying draw up the betrothal contract right now, all I'm asking is that you not poison our son's mind against the idea. I'm simply going to attempt to cultivate a friendship and see what happens. Claire already considers her a friend," she explained reasonably.

He gave her a questioning look.

"We had dinner with her and her parents."

"You ate with muggles," he deadpanned, but his face was a picture of horror and disbelief.

"We had a perfectly lovely meal, they aren't barbarians."

Lucius just snorted and she decided they'd had enough discussion for one night. He would need to think things through, but she was confident that once he did he would at least have to admit that she'd made some good points. He wouldn't be ready to meet the girl tomorrow but she was certain that, with time, she could persuade him to her way of thinking. She put her hands back on his bare chest and leaned in to place a kiss over his heart. He immediately took her into his arms.

"I am sorry to have upset you," she said sincerely, it had been necessary but she hated disagreeing with him.

"There is nothing we cannot discuss, even if I am still not quite certain that you haven't taken leave of your senses," there was a slight pause, "I am sorry that I could not give you more children."

She sighed, knowing that would have been extremely difficult for him to say and feeling slightly guilty about the emotional manipulation she'd just used on him about this most tender of subjects.

"I believe I was the one who could not give you more children," she said quietly, but bravely raised her face to look at him.

He shook his head.

"You gave me an heir, that's all I could ask for. You were the one who desired to fill the Manor."

She allowed him his little joke and did not call him on his lie.

"Don't be absurd, I never had any intention of filling it, I am not a Weasley."

She felt him wince at the reference and she cringed at her own faux pas. The animosity between the Houses of Malfoy and Weasley went back generations and so it had been an especially bitter pill to swallow to witness Arthur and Molly produce one child after another with almost cringe inducing regularity while they suffered one failed pregnancy after another. If there was anything he hated more than failing at his duty it was disappointing her in any way, and every miscarriage was both, not that she ever blamed him.

True, she had desired children more than he had, motherhood had felt essential to her being in a way fatherhood hadn't seemed to be to him. Until Draco's birth he had only been doing his duty and hoping to please her by giving her children; he hadn't wanted it for himself. His own horrible father hadn't helped the situation, she knew he'd been afraid that he would turn out the same, but she'd never worried. And she'd been right, he'd fallen in love with his son the moment he'd laid eyes on him that first time, and he'd been a devoted father ever since.

But the way that he doted on Claire, on top of the wretched way he'd mourned for the stillborn daughter she'd delivered when Draco was a toddler left her in no doubt that he'd badly wanted a girl. In fact, she was certain he would have been thrilled with as many children as may have come along after Draco, regardless of sex. Unfortunately, that stillbirth had inflicted so much trauma on her body that it had made the hope of any future children impossible.

"I love you, my wife, and the son you did give us, you are my world," he finally broke the silence, taking her back into his arms.

She closed her eyes and savored the treasured but not oft spoken sentiment. She knew without a doubt that he loved her, but it was always good to hear the words.

"I love you too my husband."

"Perhaps now we could retire to bed and find a more pleasurable activity to fill our time," he said silkily.

He used the hands on her hips to pull her more firmly against him, as if his meaning hadn't already been clear. She looked up at him to find him smirking wickedly at her, she smirked right back, and pointed to the large mirror off to one side and then pushed him down on the large ottoman in the middle of the room from which you could easily see your reflection in the mirror.

"I was thinking we could start right here," she said as she climbed onto his lap, "still think I've taken leave of my senses?"

He chuckled darkly.

"I'm very relieved to see that the really important ones are still present."

Author's note: Thanks for all your support, especially to those who favorited, followed or reviewed! I can't promise updates will come this quickly in the future but the response was so good I wanted to go ahead and give y'all the first real chapter and get into the meat of the story. Thanks for reading!