WARNING:

Character death and implied (or blatant, whichever you prefer) insanity.

NOTE:

This story was inspired partly by the song "Even In Death" by Evanescence. This isn't a songfic in my usual style, but I'm sure you'll be happy with it all the same. Lyrics for the song are as follows:

Give me a reason to believe that you're gone
I see your shadow so I know they're all wrong
Moonlight on the soft brown earth
It leads me to where you lay
They took you away from but now I'm taking you home

I will stay forever here with you, my love
The softly spoken words you gave me
Even in death our love goes on

Some say I'm crazy for my love
Oh, my love
But no bonds can hold me from your side
Oh, my love
They don't know you can't leave me
They don't hear you singing to me

I will stay forever here with you, my love
The softly spoken words you gave me
Even in death our love goes on
And I can't love you
Any more than I do

I will stay forever here with you, my love
The softly spoken words you gave me
Even in death our love goes on
And I can't love you
Any more than I do

People die, but real love is forever

Even though I don't use the actual lyrics in the story (hence it being not in the usual style of my other songfics) the theme becomes apparent throughout the writing. I promise.

Happy reading.

People Die, But Real Love Is Forever

"I'm sorry, Mrs. Malfoy; there was nothing we could do. I suppose the stress of prison must have finally gotten to him."

Narcissa Malfoy stared blankly at the wall in front of her, giving no indication that she was even aware of the prison warden's presence. Unnerved by her uncanny gaze, the warden sat the coffee he had brought her on the desk and then left the room quickly; again, she gave no indication that she was even aware of his drastic departure. She ignored the presence of the coffee and continued to stare at the wall, her mind still focusing on what she had just been told.

Her husband, Lucius--the love of her life--had committed suicide. Taken his own life without magic; killed himself in a Muggle fashion. How terrible it must have been for him, Narcissa mused, to have to take his own life in the way of the filth that he despised. Which is why she had a hard time believing it. Oh, they said Lucius was dead, but what did they know? They didn't know Lucius like she knew Lucius, and she said that he wasn't dead at all. She had no reason to believe that Lucius was gone. In fact, if she cleared her mind and concentrated, she could almost feel him standing there beside her, just like he always had.

"Mother?" Her son Draco's voice grounded her, brought her back to reality. "Mother, they're going to let us see his body. I need you to come with me."

Numbly, and as if in a daze, Narcissa took Draco's hand and allowed herself to be pulled from the warden's office. Draco led her down a dark, quiet corridor and then into a cold, impersonal room. Lucius was there, laid out on a hard table. There were bruises on his neck, and Narcissa almost cried for the marks marring his beautiful skin. But at least she was with him now--she was always more calm and clear-headed when she was with him. She left Draco standing in the doorway and went to the table, grasping Lucius' cold hand in hers.

"Lucius, you're cold as ice," she whispered, completely forgetting all the others in the room. Right now the only people in the world--the only two who mattered--were her and her husband.

She waited quietly, patiently, for him to answer her, but he never did. Still, she waited, holding his hand tightly, not allowing herself to let him go. His skin was so cold and a pale, bluish color. That worried her. She chewed on her bottom lip nervously. The prison warden's words came back to her: There was nothing we could do. I suppose the stress of prison must have finally gotten to him. Narcissa forced the words away--Lucius was not dead! He wasn't. He had promised never to leave her and damn it all, he hadn't!

"Mother, we've got to leave now," Draco tugged on her arm, trying to get her to leave Lucius' side. "We've got to let them prepare the body for burial."

"No!" Narcissa struggled against Draco's grasp, still holding tightly to Lucius' hand. She wouldn't let them take Lucius away, she wouldn't let them separate her from him!

"Mrs. Malfoy, you have to leave!" another person said, joining Draco in trying to pry her away from her husband.

"No, stop it!" Narcissa shouted at the two people pulling her away. She lost her grip and Lucius' hand fell so that it hung off the edge of the table. "Lucius!" she cried. "Make them stop this!" She waited for him to answer, but he never did. And as she opened her mouth to scream for him again, everything went black, and she fell limp in her son's arms.

xXxXxXxXxXx

The soothing darkness of the room was penetrated by the glaring brightness of the midday sun. Narcissa silently cursed whomever had thrown open the curtains, and turned over to go back to sleep. "Mother?" A hand gently shook her shoulder, keeping her from going back to sleep. "Mother, you have to get up."

"What do you want, Draco?" Narcissa demanded sleepily. She reached out to see if Lucius was still asleep, but her hand met nothing but air. It was no matter--he was probably already up; she must have slept late, and he sent Draco to rouse her.

"Mother, you have to get up and get ready. We're going to be late for the funeral."

Narcissa groaned and rolled over so that she could see Draco. "What are you talking about?" she asked. "What funeral?"

Draco looked at her sadly. His expression worried her; why did he look so upset, and why, underneath the sadness, was he regarding her as if she had lost her mind? "Mother, don't you remember? Father died yesterday."

For a single moment Draco saw what he thought was recognition in Narcissa's eyes, but then it was gone, and she chuckled. It wasn't the regular kind of chuckle--it was a high-pitched, almost nervous kind of chuckle. "Don't be absurd, Draco," she chided.

Draco sighed and took his mother's hand in his, kissing her pale knuckles. "All right, Mother," he said quietly. "Have it your way, then." He left her alone after that, shutting the door softly behind him. Narcissa got up and pulled the curtains shut, so that the room was completely dark, and then got back into bed. She sat up and rested against the headboard, her knees drawn to her, like she used to sit when she was a young girl and couldn't get to sleep at night. Wasn't it funny how she had never had any more trouble sleeping after she had married Lucius? It was because he made her feel safe, she supposed.

But she didn't feel safe now. No, not at all. She thought back to the night before, to her rushed trip to Azkaban. She thought back to the prison warden telling her that her husband had taken his own life--hung himself using the shirt of his prisoner's uniform. She thought back to that little room where they had laid Lucius out on a table as if he an object rather than a person. She thought back to the coldness of Lucius' skin. The marks and bruises on his neck. How his eyes remained shut despite her best efforts to coax any repsonse out of him. The abscence of movement that came with breathing.

But Lucius wasn't dead. They all said he was dead, but again, what did they know? They didn't know that Lucius couldn't leave her--he had vowed he never would. An Unbreakable Vow at that; a vow of marriage that only the bravest of couples were willing to take. Lucius couldn't leave her. If she knew Lucius at all--and she did--this was all an elaborate trick of his. He used to be quite good at tricks, Narcissa recalled fondly. This was nothing more than a trick of his. A way to get out of prison. Prison life hadn't gotten to him at all--he had found a way to escape. Narcissa laughed gleefully at her newfound theory. Lucius knew that his family would call for proper funeral arrangement, thus saving him from an impersonal prison burial.

Lucius hadn't died.

He had found a way out.

Now that she had discovered his secret, Narcissa knew that she would have to play along. She couldn't risk someone finding out about his clever escape. Feeling very pleased with herself, she got out of bed and threw back the curtains, welcoming the light where only moments ago she had shunned it. She then went to the wardrobe and found the most stylishly expensive funerary clothes she possessed. After all, the occasion demanded it.

Draco looked surprised when she entered the parlor, dressed and made-up and ready to go. "Mother?" he ventured cautiously, his tone suggesting the nervousness of someone walking on eggshells. "Are you ready to go?"

Narcissa nodded, pulling the black hood of her black, light summer cloak up. It hid the top half of her face in shadow, and when you added that to her silence, it painted quite an unnerving picture. She rather thought she was doing very good at this "grieving widow" business.

"Let's get this over with, then," Draco muttered, grasping his mother's arm. Together they Apparated to the funeral parlor, where the high-quality mortician they had hired (well, actually, Draco had hired with the help of his Aunt Bella, as Narcissa had been incapacitated at the time) was just putting the finishing touches on Lucius' clothing and hair details like some macabre artist. In a way, Narcissa supposed, a mortician was nothing more than an artist, who happened to work with stranger media than the rest of them.

Narcissa left Draco's company immediately upon arrival and went directly to the coffin, where Lucius was laid adorned in his finest robes, looking more handsome than she had ever seen him. Of course, the bruises on his neck were covered by his shirt; good. That mortician really knew what he was doing, Narcissa thought. People would certainly believe Lucius was dead once they saw him this way. She stared down at him, hoping for some small sign that would confirm her theory and let her know that everything was all right, but there was nothing. He was still, looking serene and more at peace than she had ever seen him.

"Mother? People have started arriving, you need to greet them."

Narcissa moved through the endless line of people offering their condolences in a trance. If Lucius had been dead, she wouldn't have been comforted by their impersonal words at all. Had any of these people really cared for Lucius? Would they even be the least bit saddened had he truly been gone? She sat in the front row and stared directly at the coffin. She could just make out Lucius' profile over the edge, and she contented herself to admiring how handsome he was as various people stood behind the podium and droned on about his life. At regular intervals Narcissa would shake her head and mutter some words of disgust--these people didn't know Lucius at all. Not like she knew him.

When it was over two workers from the funeral home came and shut the lid on Lucius' coffin, bolting it shut as per custom. Narcissa gripped Draco's hand tightly as she watched--how was he going to get any air? Hadn't he thought of this when planning his grande scheme? Of course he did, a nasty little voice in the back of Narcissa's mind said. Lucius always thinks of everything, that's why you're always so comfortable around him--you never have to make any decisions for yourself.

"That's not true," Narcissa muttered darkly to herself.

"What's not true, Mother?" Draco asked, trying to hide his concern that his mother had started conversing with herself.

She shook her head but otherwise gave him no repsonse.

The entire funeral party (Narcissa had always wondered why it was referred to as a party) then Flooed back to Malfoy Manor, to the Malfoy family crypt, where Lucius was being laid to rest. Again, Narcissa grew worried. Wasn't he the least bit worried about being locked away in a tomb? She wouldn't ask herself if he was afraid of being locked away, because she knew better than that. Lucius Malfoy wasn't afraid of anything. And then it suddenly dawned on her: Lucius wasn't worried about being locked away, because this was all part of his plan. He knew that she would have figured out what was going on by now, and he was obviously biding his time until she came to release him from the tomb.

It was all so simple!

So she was able to watch with relative calm as the funeral workers levitated the coffin into the tomb, and set it in its rightful place on the stone base next to the coffins of his parents. A few words were said by an old wizard whose name Narcissa couldn't even begin to guess, and then people were leaving, some of them stopping to say a few words to her before Disapparating. She stood there long after the last funeral guest had left, staring at the now-sealed door of the Malfoy tomb, formulating her plan. It wouldn't be that hard to break the magic that sealed the door; Lucius was waiting for, and she couldn't keep him waiting too long. She would go tonight, she decided. When the others were asleep, she could come here and release him. And then she would take him home, and they would be together again.

It was all so perfect.

"Mother, it's started to rain." Draco took her arm and attempted to pull her from the tomb, back up to the house. "You'll catch your death out here. You can't leave me, too."

If she hadn't been so preoccupied, Narcissa would have heard the sadness, the desperation, in her son's voice, and would have soothed him with some comforting words, like she always did. However this time, she remained silent, immune to such trivial matters as giving a comforting word to her son.

The hours after the funeral drug by slowly, painfully so. The immediate family had all gathered at the manor, in the way of families, and attempted to cheer each other in whatever ways they could. Narcissa didn't talk to anyone throughout the whole ordeal. She sat in the parlor with the family, but she shunned all human contact. All she did was sit at the window seat and stare at the grounds--the only reason she was still in the room was that the northern parlor windows where the only windows that gave a clear view of the family tomb from the house.

Finally, to her delight, night fell, and most of the relatives left. Except, of course, for Bellatrix and Rodolphus, who had taken it upon themselves to manage family affairs since they thought Narcissa wouldn't be up to the job. What Narcissa didn't tell them was that they didn't need to bother with the affairs, as in a short while she would be releasing Lucius from his tomb, and then the family would have no need of the Lestranges' services.

"Cissy, do you want to talk?" Bellatrix asked, sitting on the window seat beside her sister. She had been going up to bed, but had decided to give communication with Narcissa one more try before she called it quits.

Narcissa wanted to laugh. Since when was Bellatrix nice, especially to her sisters? Usually all Narcissa and her older sibling did was argue. She didn't laugh, as she thought that might be a bit rude, and instead continued to stare out the window. "There's nothing to talk about, Bella."

Bellatrix sighed. "This isn't healthy, Cissy," she said. "I know you must feel terrible right now, but staying in denial like this isn't making it any better."

Narcissa's eyes flashed as she looked at Bellatrix. "I'm not in denial about anything, Bella. Goodnight."

Bellatrix's shoulders slumped, a sign of her defeat. "Goodnight, Narcissa," she muttered, and then left Narcissa alone in the parlor. She sat there in silence, watching the shadows outside, until she could hear no more noises coming from the upper floors. As soon as she was certain everyone in the house was asleep, she grabbed her wand and her cloak, and then left the manor.

The rain had left as quickly as it had come, and so even though the ground was damp the sky was beautifully clear. The moon was big and full, so Narcissa had no trouble at all seeing on her way down to the tomb. Her prediction about the magic on the door being fairly easy to break was right--in a matter of minutes she was pushing open the heavy stone door and making her way into the musty old tomb.

The smell of death was nauseating and Narcissa immediately stuck her head outside the door to give herself some fresh air. It took her several minutes to become accustomed to the smell alone. When she felt that she could stomach the stench, she came back in, and went straight to Lucius' coffin. Poor Lucius, being stuck in there for hours because she couldn't get away to come release him. She unbolted the coffin lid and pushed it off onto the floor--it was one of the old-fashioned coffins where the lids were a separate piece altogether.

There he was, still looking handsome and serene. She stroked his cheek with her fingertips, again feeling the unnatural coldness of his skin. "I'm here, Lucius," she whispered to him. Even though she was speaking quietly, her words seemed to echo off the stone walls. "You can stop pretending now. I've come to take you home."

Just like back at the prison, Narcissa waited for a response that would never come. She just didn't understand it; it had all fit so perfectly. Her theory had no loopholes, it was foolproof.

So why wasn't he waking up?

"Lucius?" she said. Reaching in to the coffin, she shook him slightly. "Lucius, this isn't funny. Wake up."

She don't know how long she stood there, trying to coax him into consciousness. But sometime in the early hours of the morning she made the connection. This wasn't a trick. This wasn't an elaborate scheme or an attempt at escape.

This was death.

"No," she whispered, horror-struck. It all made perfect sense now. All this time, he had been dead. The first tears of grief spilled onto her pale features, and then in a restless movement she banged on his chest with her fist, letting out a heart-wrenching scream. "You're not dead!" she cried, accentuating each word with her fist. "You're not dead. You promised me, Lucius, you promised me you'd never leave!"

She sobbed then, body-wracking sobs that had her convulsing every few seconds. Because it was an old-fashioned coffin, it was a little big for the body, and Narcissa found that there was just enough room for her to lay beside him if she stayed on her side. Still sobbing, she lifted herself into the coffin and stretched out beside Lucius, laying on her side and wrapping an arm around his body. She buried her face into the folds of his expensive robes and let her tears wet the fabric.

She found herself whispering words of love to him even though she was aware that he couldn't hear her. She recalled fond memories, everything from their school days to when Draco was born. Finally, when Narcissa feared she wouldn't be able to keep her eyes open any longer, she reached up and planted a kiss on Lucius' cold lips, muttering "I love you," against the slightly blue flesh. Then she fell into a deep, yet peaceful sleep.

xXxXxXxXxXx

Draco stared at the scene, unable to tear his eyes away. His father, laying in the coffin in exactly the same way he had been put in, and his mother, sprawled halfway on top of his father, just as cold and pale as her husband.

"And there's no cause?" he asked the medical examiner from St. Mungo's they had called in upon finding the body.

"None that I can find," the older medi-wizard replied. "She didn't commit suicide, she wasn't murdered. No heart attacks or seizures or sickness of any kind. I would almost say she died of a broken heart, if of course, you believe in that sort of nonsense."

"Yes, nonsense," Draco muttered vaguely, not paying attention to a word the medi-wizard was saying. He couldn't get over how utterly in love and peaceful his parents looked together in death. The thought was disturbing, to say the least.

The body was taken away to the prepared for burial, and the tomb was resealed. Draco stayed at the tomb long after everyone had left, sitting on the still slightly-damp grass and staring up at the sky. Were his parents really up there, looking down at him now? Another disturbing thought. He didn't even stir when his Aunt Bella appeared beside him.

"Why?" he asked her, and he didn't need to elaborate.

"I don't know," she answered truthfully.

"I knew she had taken it hard," Draco said, more to himself than to Bellatrix, "but I had no idea..."

"People die," Bellatrix mused, "but I suppose real love is forever."

A/N:

This is another one of those really weird one-shot...things. And again, even thought it's kind of weird, I kind of like it.

--Paige--