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Spoilers: Through Deathly Hallows
Distribution: The Blackberry Patch and . If you're interested, please let me know.
Summary: Narcissa Malfoy has not always been who she is.
Author's Note: See end.
Disclaimer: All characters are owned by J. K. Rowling, a wonderful author whose characters I have borrowed for a completely profit-free flight of fancy. Kindly do not sue me, please, as I am terrified of you. Thank you.
I did not always resemble my husband so closely as I do now.
I realize this may be a shock to anyone who has met my son Draco. He completes the picture, of course: the three of us, each pale-eyed, pallid-skinned, and white-blond. We could have been carved from white marble and Charmed to life, could we not? The pure blood that flows through our veins seems totally absent. We are beautiful, yes, of course, but we are waxwork figures, devoid of color or life. We don't seem quite human.
When I was a girl, I looked quite different. Bellatrix and Andromeda (in my own mind I can say her name, though I am forbidden to do so aloud) and I were a truly mismatched set of sisters. Bellatrix had hair as dark as starless night even in the cradle, or so the pictures show, and wide, dark eyes that provide windows to a soul just as boundlessly shaded. Andromeda's hair was always the color of the crust of freshly baked bread, a warm, golden honey-brown, curling wildly, and her eyes were a soft hazel. Bella was always as sharp and cold as Andi was warm, even in appearance.
And then I brought up the rear in the family, the youngest daughter and easily the least striking, though you would not know it now. During my first year of Hogwarts, my hair was a decidedly non-descript brown and chopped nearly as short as a boy's from one of Bella's dreadfully unpleasant pranks. My eyes were brown as well, and my skin tended towards tan with blotches of pink and red from my penchant for spending too much time in the sun. I was, all in all, rather homely.
That was, of course, the year I met Lucius Malfoy. He was one year older than I, and of one of the oldest, purest families in England. My mother had forewarned me that I must be particularly courteous to him, that he would grow up to be a man of great importance someday and an alliance with him would be most advantageous. She did not suggest, by word, tone or action, even the possibility of my marriage to such an heir, most likely because my appearance did not warrant that level of attention. In retrospect I think she had an eye on Andromeda for him even though she was a year his senior.
Mother needn't have given me any consul to be attentive to Lucius. By the end of first year, I had already begun to develop a more than passing interest in him which did nothing but increase in second year and bloomed into a full blown case of puppy love in third. In all that time, I don't believe he ever gave me more than a passing glance, usually one filled with disdain, when we were forced to interact with one another within our house. Aside from my flawless bloodline, I knew there was nothing that he found to be pleasing about me.
The summer after third year, I remember sitting out in the garden for hours, staring at nothing, a writing tablet and quill on my lap, as I tried to think what Lucius liked. I attempted making a list and realized that I could come up with really only one thing: winning. Well, I thought with all of my fourteen-year-old cunning, that will mean I will have to convince him to want to win me. I would have to desirable to him in some way for that to happen.
After days and weeks of hard thought, I was able to add another item to my list of things Lucius liked, and that was himself. Obviously, he was a very handsome boy, and he took no pains to hide the fact he knew it. From this, I slowly began to realize that what he found beautiful in himself might well be what he found beautiful in another. It was a link, a small one, but one that had a touch of hope to it.
I went to my room and stared at myself, taking inventory and beginning the process of change. I shunned the sunlight, and by degrees my skin grew whiter over the summer months rather than darker as was its wont. My hair I attacked with a combination of Extension Charms and Mademoiselle Etoile's Permanent Lightning Potion. I practiced moving with grace instead of the rough flamboyance I was used to, much to my mother's approval. The result was startling.
I was still a plain, ordinary, unremarkable girl with rather streaky, uneven, blondish hair and skin that had improved marginally but was not anywhere near the lily-like perfection of the Malfoy boy. It was utterly hopeless, and I actually cried myself to sleep the night before the Hogwarts Express left that year.
I awoke that morning filled with dread until I looked in the mirror of my vanity table and stopped dead in my tracks. I remember spinning around wildly to see who the other person in my room was, only to find that she was myself. I blinked and looked at the very strange countenance that greeted me, and I remember reaching for my wand to hex Bella for the horrible trick she had pulled on me, then I realized what I was looking at. My hair had turned green, my nose was a different shape, and my eyes were, yes, they were most definitely blue instead of brown. I had heard of such things happening under severe emotional duress, but only to a Metamorphmagus. It appeared I was one. Normally this would have been discovered at birth, but there are rare cases of the condition developing in adolescence.
My blood immediately ran cold. My family would not be pleased that I was a freak, and I could imagine the insults Bella would hurl at me, most likely as I was thrown out the door of the Black home forever. I could not afford to allow anyone to know my secret, and I must control it at once. With a tremendous force of will, I rearranged my features into their usual semblance, but then I reconsidered. If I had been given this opportunity, why shouldn't I use it to its fullest?
I was subtle, of course. Too great a change would have aroused suspicion, but I very, very gradually altered my appearance. Most simply assumed that I was blossoming from very gawky adolescence into a surprisingly beautiful young girl. Surprisingly, yes, but not so much so that it was unbelievable. Over the course of the next year, I gradually made the smallest of changes, restrained ones. I recast my nose, my cheekbones, my chin, all of it delicately, all of it purposely mirroring Lucius's features but in a feminine cast. My hair was soon the palest of colors, pale as winter wind it seemed, but my eyes remained brown.
And Lucius finally noticed. He noticed and fell in love with his own image as my namesake had done. But Lucius did not need to pine away to an echo, for his image loved him back, always within the limited parameters of what was wanted, what was acceptable, what was desirable. I threw myself away and became what he wanted, but I never willfully changed the color of my eyes. It was the last bit of myself, my own small rebellion, the part of me that remained solely me.
It was on the day that Lucius introduced his young, pure-blood bride to the Dark Lord that the color drained from my eyes as though a plug had been pulled in their depths and left them devoid of color. It was the only time in all those years that I lost control of my carefully crafted appearance, the only time the Metamorphmagus inside me gained the upper hand from pure panic.
"Such very lovely eyes," he had hissed at me at first sight, "like the purest opals."
I saw Lucius start at his words, but only a bit, and the Dark Lord's attention was elsewhere, proving him to be no more than a man in some ways, but I was terrified behind my pleased, coy smile.
"Yes," Lucius had said, "pale summer sky, as always."
The last two words were said for my benefit, and I nodded delicately. They have remained blue ever since, and Lucius has never said a word about the change. When Andi gave birth to Nymphadora, I realized it was a family condition, but as Lucius and I had resolutely decided I never had a sister other than Bella, the need to discuss or even insult her about the hideous aberration she had birthed was blessedly absent.
Once, during those awful months when the Dark Lord was in residence, I stood before my mirror in the dead of night and looked at myself, wondering what I actually looked like beneath the carefully constructed mask I had created in my husband's image. I began to will the disguise to fall away, for Narcissa to reappear in the glass before me. I thought of the girl I had trained into the perfect companion to the man who had chosen to hand his family and his world over to a demented, murderous madman. I tried to relax the muscles held taut for so long, to let the true color of my hair appear, the shape of nose and chin, the planes of my face.
Nothing happened, not even the smallest speck of brown in my irises.
It was not until then that I realized the mask had become my face, and the girl had suffocated to death beneath it.
A.N. Vaguely inspired by Slyvia Plath's poem "Mirror"; "A woman bends over me, /
Searching my reaches for what she really is[…]/In me she has drowned a young girl."