Flibbertigibbet. That was the word an older Gryffindor boy sneered in my face. I was twelve, and with not the faintest notion what the word meant. It seemed he sensed this fact, for his sneer broadened.
My older sister, Bellatrix, nearly hexed him into oblivion after he made this comment. She probably would have too, if Professor McGonagall had not interfered. Then Bellatrix grabbed me firmly by the shoulder and marched off to the Great Hall, taking me along.
After we finished our dinner and made our way back to the Slytherin Common Room, I asked Bellatrix what flibbertigibbet meant.
"I don't know, but I wasn't about to let him get away with saying it," she told me firmly. "I know this much: that kid is a blood-traitor, a nasty piece of work, and a moron. In addition to that, his expression was so vile I just knew he wasn't paying you a compliment."
"Are you referring to the vile expression he had before or after you hexed him?" I giggled.
Bellatrix smirked. "Before, but the one afterwards was more satisfying."
Pleased with her response, I pranced over to a chair and sat to chat and gossip with my friends, occasionally thinking about what the word might mean. Of course, the logical thing would have been to go down to the school library and find a dictionary. But I was a young lady Black. I was quite above doing work myself.
I glanced around the room, scanning for someone who could guide me.
Goyle – he may be handy in fights, but my head probably has more in there than his, and he's several years my senior.
Lucius – charming, wealthy, and handsome he may be, but while he is very intelligent in how to act, the same could not always be said of his schoolwork. And he would probably pretend like he knew the word anyway, which would provide no help at all.
Flint – she's alright, I suppose, but how many purebloods get themselves locked in a broom cupboard? I needed someone with a bit more intelligence.
Severus – yes. Very anti-social, that was for certain, but he was also one of the brightest students in his year, possibly one of the brightest in the school. Granted, he may sneer down his long hooked nose at me, but he will surely know, and will surely tell me. No one refused a Black.
Excusing myself from the conversation like the true noble pureblood I was, I stood and flounced towards the chair he was huddled over. "Hello," I said, placing my thin, pale hands on one arm of the chair.
Severus looked up at me, irritated. I had disturbed his work. "Narcissa," he acknowledged coolly, shutting his textbooks and standing so he was slightly taller than me.
I smiled charmingly, tossing my blonde hair lightly. He just continued staring at me impassively. Quickly switching tactics, I straightened myself and said, "I need to ask you something."
His expression didn't change in the slightest. Did he ever so much as smile?
"I need to know what flibbertigibbet means," I said directly, tired of him giving me that stare.
He sneered down his long hooked nose at me. Hmph. "Whatever for, Narcissa?" he inquired quietly.
"It's – it's for a homework assignment."
"Yes," I said. "I saw someone else writing it on their essay for Slughorn, and I wanted to know what it meant to see if I could do the same."
He continued to just watch me. Was he reading more than my facial expression?
"Are you going to answer me or not," I demanded. How dare he make me feel so inferior?
Severus' sneer twisted into one that was even more mocking. "I would be curious to read your friend's essay," he demurred.
"Oh?" I replied coolly. "Why's that?"
"It would be interesting to know whether they were calling the potion a foolish and scatterbrained gossiper, or Slughorn."
I felt my face flush. Severus' eyes glittered with cold pleasure.
"So," he said after a pause, eyes still shimmering, "you would like the definition of the word?"
"No," I said stiffly. "My essay shall do without. Thank you for your precious time."
Severus gave me a mock bow, his eyes never leaving mine. "My pleasure." He sat back down among his stupid books and homework. I scurried off back to my throng of girls, who were giggling and speaking quietly to each other.
"I didn't know you liked Snape, Narcissa!" one of them whispered.
"I don't," I snapped.
"Well, what happened?" said another, leaning towards me. "How did the conversation go?"
I glared in Severus' direction. "Charming," I said bitterly. "Just charming."
Another young lady nudged my leg, directing my attention back to her. "Come on, tell us what's going on. You're hiding something," she said, eyes big with interest.
And so, with one more defiant glance at Severus, I did just that. Let him and that other idiot think me a silly babbler. They were probably just jealous, and wished they were friends with me.
". . .and then he sneered down his long nose at me – good Merlin, that thing is huge! – and wanted to know why. . ."