Disclaimer: You know the drill, it's not mine.
A/N: Thanks to Katie (Black is the New Pink) for the beta, and Hannah for annoying me while I tried to pick a title. Anyone who thinks I should have named this "He Loves Me Not" can make a comment to that effect and Hannah can laugh in my face. Anyways. This was a challenge fic, a little different from most of the stuff I've written, and fairly confusing. Good luck.
Apathy began to seep over her. It was coming. She knew it was coming.
A laugh, a harsh, inhuman laugh, slipped from her lips.
So this is how it was.
This is how it would end.
A smile still playing across her mouth, she fell to the ground.
Her hair spread in a halo around her.
He loves me.
Narcissa stood at the top of the hill, her dark shawl whipping around her as the wind ripped through her hair, twisting it into impossible tangles. Her eyes were cold and hard, the single tear dripping down her cheek an inexplicable anomaly.
It was the beginning of winter, or the end, or sometime in between. She couldn't tell.
He loves me not.
Everyone was dressed in black. Black, black, black.
Narcissa was wearing black.
Her hair was up in a tight bun, the platinum blonde inappropriate for a funeral.
A wind snaked its way up her skirt, and she wanted to take her hair out. She wanted it to blow in the wind. She wanted it to tickle her face. She wanted to stand alone, and she didn't want the world to be black.
Unassumingly she began to walk away from the small crowd and up a hill to the left of the graveyard.
He loves me.
A third petal dropped to the ground.
A man was speaking hurriedly. It came as no surprise to anyone. They were all in a hurry. Being found here, considering whom they had come to pretend to honor, would be very dangerous.
Narcissa's mind drifted. She didn't care. It was empty, hollow anyways. No one cared. Had she just caught the words good man? She snorted inwardly. Hardly.
Finally the man finished, and she began to look around at the people surrounding her.
He loves me not.
The fourth petal began to drop, and a light breeze picked it up and carried it back to the girl's fingertips. She rubbed the silky whiteness between thumb and forefinger for a moment, and then let it go, let it float away.
The realization hit her that the petal symbolized her life perfectly, and she felt like vomiting.
Narcissa was the first to arrive at the gravesite. It was only fitting, she supposed. But she had expected Draco to come first. He had, after all, idolized his father.
The body had been wrapped in black velvet and placed in casket. The lid was open, but his face wasn't showing.
Narcissa knew why.
She watched the coffin for a few minutes, as if afraid that he might not really be dead.
When he didn't move, she turned away. Her goodbye's had already been said.
He loves me.
As the fifth began to fall, the sunlight slipped away. She glanced upward.
Storm clouds were beginning to gather. It didn't matter though. The rain probably wouldn't start for an hour, and even if it did she would be fine.
Lucius's body was slumped in the chair at the head of the table.
Narcissa walked back in from the kitchen, her hands dripping with soapy water. She had sent their new house elf away for the day, and the dishes needed to be done.
For a few moments she stared at the corpse.
His face was disfigured, turning an ugly shade of black-green. It contrasted sharply with his bright red tongue, hanging out of his mouth, nearly touching his collar bone.
Then she turned on her heel and finished wiping the plates clean.
He loves me not.
She shivered slightly.
They ate in silence. Forks clattered on china as they each lifted steak and gravy to their mouths.
Narcissa watched Lucius carefully. The poison was fast-acting; it should not be much longer.
They finished their dinners. She began to get worried.
Standing to clear the dishes, Narcissa lifted hers gingerly and walked down the table. She was beginning to feel queasy. It hadn't gone onto the wrong plate, had it?
The closer she got to Lucius, the sicker she felt.
He opened his mouth, presumably to ask why the house-elf didn't clear, but no words came out. His tongue lolled gently from his mouth, his body paralyzed. Narcissa picked up his plate and walked to the kitchen.
Behind her there was the pathetic sound of attempted breath. It wouldn't work, and if it did she would have Borgin's head.
Placing her wand next to the sink, she decided that for once it might be nice to do things the muggle way and wash her hands of this.
He loves me.
A raindrop dripped onto the petal as it fell, and the girl sighed, sliding off the rock she had been perched on and into the grass.
She curled into herself, still clutching the decrepit daisy in hand. An almost panicked feeling stole over her, and she hated the world. It was too big. Too too too too big. She wanted her mother's arms to wrap around her. That would make everything better.
Narcissa opened the cupboard, pulling out two sets of silverware.
She clutched them tightly in her palm as she walked to the dining room table. There she set two spots: hers and Lucius'.
Reentering the kitchen she took out the steak she had had the house elf make before he left and placed in on two plates. A quick warming charm and they were out on the table, ready to be eaten.
Taking a deep breath, Narcissa's eyes darted nervously to the door. She still had time; she was sure of it.
Quickly, before her courage could fail, she reached into her pocket for a small vial of white powder and tapped the contents over Lucius' meal. It dissolved and disappeared instantly. No taste, no smell, no residue. As she had been promised.
She walked smartly to her seat and sat down primly, waiting for Lucius.
He entered fifteen minutes later, throwing his coat next to the door and walking directly to his seat. Not a glance was spared for Narcissa.
After he took the first bite she began eating as well.
He loves me not.
More raindrops began to fall, and they mixed with the tears dripping silently from the girl's eyes.
The door to Borgin and Burkes clanged shut behind Narcissa as she swept into the shop. It was empty, dark, and dusty. She sneezed.
The sound of something dropping came from behind the counter, and there was something red rushing towards her before she had the chance to duck.
Narcissa awoke to see Borgin's oily face above her, muttering pointless apologies.
"So sorry, my lady, no idea that it was you… Under normal circumstances…"
She shoved him out of the way as she stood, whipping out her wand as he backed into a stand full of dead roses. "I need something."
"Of – of course…"
"You will tell no one of it. Not even Lucius."
A mixture of fear and interest lit Borgin's face. Narcissa realized the oddity of her request, but it did not worry her. A well placed memory charm and he would forget everything.
"You will give me a poison. It is called Immoluber."
The interest left his eyes; now there was only terror. "How… How do you…?"
"You will give it to me."
Borgin swallowed, and then began crawling along the floor towards his counter.
Once he was out of sight, Narcissa sank to the ground. It was tiring, but it had to be done. She was not worried that he would bring a fake poison. He knew that he would be dead within a day if he lied to her.
Scooting back against a shelf, Narcissa started as something fell to the floor beside her. She picked it up tentatively. It was a simple spun-glass ball, and there appeared to be nothing unusual about it.
As she clutched it in her hand the insides gradually grew darker… A Remembrall? Borgin never sold anything that innocent. It was probably dysfunctional or cursed.
But the seed was planted, and Narcissa could not help herself from trying to remember if she had forgotten anything.
Without warning her face turned stark white, her hands trembled and the Remembrall dropped to the floor, hairline cracks appearing. That wasn't how they were supposed to work… No one knew about that… She barely even knew, hadn't been in her right mind… It was ridiculous, only an object…
She scrambled to her feet, taking deep breaths. It didn't matter now. In retrospect, it never had, it was simply that she had not realized it until now.
She was dead whether she killed Lucius or not.
He loves me.
The girl had to stop herself from looking too closely at the flower and counting how many petals were left. It was no good if she figured out whether he loved her or not before the end.
Not that it really mattered. It was childish of her to believe that this silly little daisy could change anything, and deep down she knew that.
But she could always hope.
She knew she would marry him whether she wanted it or not; that was how arranged marriages worked. But everything would be that much easier if he loved her.
Narcissa lay in her bed, wrapped in the black silken sheets. She wanted to be warm, but the cloth was cool against her skin.
There was no one she could run to.
Last time there had been Severus, but he was gone as well as Draco now.
The urge to stay there and scream, to wail against the world, was overwhelming, but she needed to be strong.
Before she could lose her confidence she slipped from the bed and threw on a pair of robes. Quickly she walked to the door, wracking her brain for someone she could go to for help.
When Narcissa opened the door she screamed.
A figure was standing there with their wand pointed at her heart. A harsh laugh slipped from beneath the hood. "Unprepared as usual, Narcissa."
"Bella! I – I wasn't expecting, didn't think…"
"Which will get you killed some day." Bellatrix threw her hood back, revealing eyes that seemed to have sunk deeper into her face than they had ever been before. "But I do not come here to give advice or visit. I have been sent by My Lord."
What little color was left in Narcissa's face left. "Draco isn't here… He knows that… The number of time our house has been searched…"
"The Dark Lord knows this. He also knows where Draco is."
Narcissa gasped. She had never thought… But then Draco was in danger. Severus was supposed to have hidden him…
"You know the Dark Lord is not happy with Draco. He was supposed to have killed Dumbledore, but he failed. That is weakness." Narcissa's chin trembled. "But My Lord is merciful. He will spare Draco… But you must do something in return."
"He is not happy with Lucius. However, many of the others have great, ah, respect for Lucius. The Dark Lord cannot kill him without discord beginning, and now of all times, when we are coming to the catalyst of this war, we do not need discord. You must kill Lucius."
Without thinking, without ever considering any of the possible consequences, Narcissa agreed.
"Very well. I shall tell you how to do it…"
He loves me not.
It started to downpour. The girl barely noticed.
Her long blonde hair stuck to the sides of her face, rivulets of water dripping off the tips.
Narcissa was waiting for Lucius. She would confront him the moment he walked through the door, and there would be no way he could avoid her this way. No way he could change the subject, or simply walk away, or pretend there was somewhere he needed to be.
It was nearly midnight by the time he came home. There was rain drizzling against the windows, and it had lulled Narcissa into half-consciousness. The slamming door startled her, and Lucius almost got away before she collected herself.
"Lucius!" she screamed.
He whipped around, sneered at her, and continued walking.
Her nails scrabbled at his arm. "Lucius, we need to talk."
"I have no time for you. Leave me in peace."
Narcissa stopped. There was a sick feeling in her stomach, and she didn't have the strength to continue following him.
"Please, Lucius. Our son! Our only son! How could you lose that? How could you lose Draco? Please…" She was moaning now, backing into the wall, slipping down it, tears dripping off her nose.
"I have no time for him. He is a silly boy. I told you to leave."
"Please," she whispered.
Lucius spared her one last scornful gaze and left the room.
He loves me.
The last petal fell from the stem, and the girl gave a weak smile. Perhaps. It was a good omen at any rate.
The green stalk dropped from her fingertips as she stood up. Rain had soaked her clothes completely. For the first time she noticed the cold and shivered.
Quickly she began to walk up the hill. The house was only on the other side.
As she glanced upwards she saw someone silhouetted at the top of the knoll, and she squinted, trying to make out the face through the rain.
Upon getting closer, she made out the blonde hair, dry under a simple bubble charm. Immediately she felt silly, having forgotten her wand at the house.
"Narcissa," he smiled upon her arrival at the crest. "I was wondering where you were."
"Oh," she said softly, biting her lip. "I was just sitting out, and I think I must've fallen asleep."
Lucius laughed charmingly and waved his wand over her. She immediately grew warmer. "Well, let's get back to the house. There's something I want to show you."
Narcissa blushed in reply, wondering airily why she had been so worried. There was a detached feeling stealing over her mind, and she followed Lucius without questioning.
When they reached the house they found a man she only vaguely recognized standing there waiting for them. Narcissa gave a twitch of the lips in his direction and Lucius made some sort of hand signal.
"Come now, Cissy, hold my hand."
She entwined her fingers in his. Their hands fit perfectly together.
"Now, I'm going to ask you a few questions, and all you need to do is say 'I swear' after each of them. Just ignore my friend Rabastan. What he's doing is not important."
Narcissa nodded seriously.
"Very good. Now, will you be an obedient wife to me?"
She started as a twist of fire came out of Rabastan's wand but said nothing.
"Will you answer me truthfully when I ask things of you?"
Another strand of fire encircled their hands. It must have been some odd Malfoy family ritual she decided.
"Lastly: Do you swear to me that you shall never stand guilty at my funeral?"
The question struck her as odd, and the back of her mind began to feel heavy and sluggish, like a gear that couldn't quite click into place. She shook her head quickly to rid herself of the feeling and muttered a quick, "I swear."
More fire came out of Rabastan's wand. The three strings coiled together, burned fiercely for a moment and then dissipated.
Lucius turned from her and began walking from the room with Rabastan. She felt light-headed and sick, but strained to hear what they were saying nonetheless.
"Did you really have to be so wordy? I thought you said you were going to make her more agreeable… Didn't you use the Imperius?"
"Unbreakable Vows won't work properly if one of the participants is under the Imperius. I used a simple charm to make her worry less, nothing more. But if the questions had been too obvious she would have worried, and that would have ruined everything. I have a dangerous life, Rabastan. I can't risk someone using Narcissa to harm me, but neither can I go without a wife. It would ruin the image I've worked so hard to uphold"
Rabastan answered something, but she didn't hear. She didn't comprehend anything she did hear, save the last few sentences. Cannot go without a wife… There was a feeling, deep down inside of her, and there was a single thought running through her head.
The flower lied.