Author's Note: In canon, Narcissa is at least five years older than Lily. I messed with that timeline. It just didn't really work. My first time writing femslash!

The Realm Where Ice and Fire Mingle

"How long will this last?"

"As long as it does."

"And how long will that be?"

Narcissa almost smiles at Lily's question. Lily always has had a thirst for knowledge.

"Until we have to join the real world."

"And when will that be?" Narcissa can tell their conversation has moved from seriousness to banter. Lily doesn't like resting on any one subject too long.

"When the real world decides they want us back."

"And when would that be?" Lily's voice is teasing, as light as her hair is when it blows in the breeze.

"When they realize we have gone."

"Where did we go?"

"Into the realm of play-acting."

"Why?" Perhaps Lily is teasing her, seeing how long the normally stoic and cold Narcissa Black will put up with her questions.

"Because it's the only realm in which we can be together."

"Why can't we be together in all realms?"

Narcissa hesitates. "Because I am ice and you are fire."

Lily stops asking questions.

*** *** ***

They pass each other in the halls. Narcissa sneers, looks away. Her entourage titters.

Lily ignores her, turns pointedly to talk to her friend.

Sometimes Narcissa wonders in which of her two realms she is most artificial, in which one she is less true.

*** *** ***

They rejoice in stolen moments, little loops of time that they pass hidden away from everything. They don't know when it started ("That's Narcissa Black, Lily. Haven't you heard of her before?") They don't know why it started ("I'm breaking a hundred personal rules by being here.") They don't know why it continues ("James talked to me today, you know. He's been asking after me again.") They don't know where it ends ("I can hardly talk to you in public, Lily." "Why not? Is your public persona so important? More important than this?" "You're hardly one to talk. How's Potter doing?")

But in their world, none of that matters.

*** *** ***

A butterfly dances over Lily's head. Narcissa stares at it, not enraptured by its beauty or freedom, but enraptured in way only those who are not actively thinking about the thing they are staring at can be. It does not do to over think beauty.

"Cissa?"

"Yes Lily?"

"Do you ever think about running away?"

The butterfly flaps its wings and is gone.

"No."

"Oh."

Narcissa stares at the sky. It in itself is not beautiful. It requires little touches, other things, to make it beautiful.

"Cissa?"

"Yes Lily?"

"If someone asked you to run away with them, would you?"

The clouds drift, form different images, constantly changing.

"No."

*** *** *** ***

Lily tries to avoid her, around the school. They are in separate classes and Houses, so this is fairly easily managed. There are days when Narcissa will only see her at meals in the Great Hall, a streak of vibrant red against a backdrop of black robes and the dull grey of the walls. She watches Lily while feigning interest in the conversations going on around her.

On the ceiling, the clouds gather.

*** *** ***

"Do you get tired of being a bitch around school?"

"Bitch, Lily? Such language."

The light glints off Lily's green eyes. Lily is all color, flaming hair, snapping eyes, golden skin. Next to her, Narcissa seems even more colourless, a cloud trying valiantly to outshine the sky.

"Your Ice Queen persona. Does it ever get tiring?"

"Perhaps I am the Ice Queen. Perhaps the person beside you is the person I pretend to be."

"Could you please just give me a straight answer?" Lily has been impatient lately, more prone to fits of anger. Deep down, it worries Narcissa. On the surface, she realizes this is how it goes.

"I did, Lily. I did."

*** *** ***

Lily likes to be outside. She and her friends stay by the lake in summer and close to the castle walls in winter. Narcissa never joins her in reality. Such a thing would be preposterous. But she watches them, safely ensconced in the towers or kept in the cages of the rooms of the main floors. She likes the curve of Lily's neck when she throws her head back to laugh. She likes how sometimes only Lily's hands and face will tan, the rest protected by the school uniforms. She loves the freckles Lily gets on her nose, little tributes to Lily's sun.

Once, just once, Lily seemed to know Narcissa was watching her. It was winter, and Narcissa was a story above her, but Lily turned her head up and smiled, her eyes focused on the window Narcissa stood behind. For a moment, Narcissa felt the warmth of the happiness of their realm descend upon her, but then Lily was called back to her friends, and Narcissa felt the cold descend once more.

*** *** ***

Narcissa knows how it will end when she sees Lily holding a white rose, something brought into their realm from reality.

"My first thought when I saw you was 'That's the most beautiful girl in the world,' did you know that?" Lily does not look up from her study of the rose, and Narcissa wants to say "No, you are the most beautiful girl in the world. Beside you I am a moss compared with a flower." But this realm is one they have not visited before; right on the edge of the real world and the realm of play-acting they've made their own, so Narcissa only says "No, I didn't know."

"Everyone was surprised when I didn't know who you were, as though word of your existence should have passed even to the Muggles. And then later, you were always there. It was like I could feel your presence. I saw you once, you know, all alone behind Hogwarts, right here actually. You looked so peaceful, and I knew in that moment that I had been right, and there was more to you than the person you are expected to be." Lily finally looks up, and Narcissa can see in that moment both the girl Lily had been (so little, and curious, and kind) and the woman she became when she made the decision to come and sit here with a white rose in her hand.

"This is how it ends, Cissa."

"I know." There is no use fighting it.

"It was just a stolen season, wasn't it? I used to dream about it becoming more, of us running away together, or living in secret until the war is over. Those were the dreams of a little girl, I realize that now. Its funny how limited your view of the world is, while in school. We'll go out and face the world, scared, likely, and we'll feel foolish and new, but we'll move on, make lives. You'll marry your fiancée, and I'll probably marry Potter, and I'll try to forget our realm."

"Potter?"

"Yeah. He's not a bad bloke, really."

"He's a prat."

Lily raises an eyebrow. "You're engaged to Lucius Malfoy now, Cissa. I don't think Malfoy and Potter are anywhere close to each other in levels of "pratness.""

It has started to rain lightly, blurring the lines around their hide-out at the back of the school. The rain runs in rivulets down Lily's face, and Narcissa sees there are tears hidden behind the veil of the rain.

"This is it, then." They have moved into the realm of reality, back to the world they are supposed to inhabit, where the little things of everyday life no longer seem inconsequential as they did when they were hidden in their realm of light and color.

If Lily is disappointed in Narcissa's reaction she does not show it. Her face holds only weary resignation. "Yeah. No more hiding. No more illusion of us being possible."

Lily stands, and she is still shorter than Narcissa, still more vibrant, still the girl she was, once. "I got this rose for you. I considered a Lily, but it seemed a little trite... though really the rose isn't much better. But white is supposed to signify death, did you know that? The ending of things."

Narcissa takes the outstretched rose, and watches Lily walk away in the rain.

*** *** ***

It is only later that she will take a good look at the rose Lily gifted to her. Narcissa will realize it has a preservation charm on it. It will look different than it did on the day it was given to her, drab and colorless, a dim reminder of the bright color it once was.

*** *** ***

On the day Lily dies, Narcissa is firmly ensconced in the realm of reality. No more does she think of butterflies fluttering over fire hair. No more does she leave behind the dark of the world. She tries to forget that there is a little niche hidden by rocks behind Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry that is only big enough for two girls to escape into.

On the day Lily dies, Narcissa is a cold but dutiful wife to her husband.

On the day Lily dies, Narcissa goes for a walk in her garden.

On the day Lily dies, Narcissa sees a single lily growing amid a briar of roses.

Narcissa had specifically ordered that no lilies be planted in the garden.

*** *** ***

She escapes for a few minutes, away from the enquiries about her involvement with the Dark Lord, to just once visit the house in which Lily lived. She wears a hood that covers her face, and is admitted to sit at the back of the funeral.

She follows the long line to pay her respects at the caskets. They are open, allowing the now adoring public to gaze upon the figures of the unlucky parents of "The Boy Who Lived." James Potter's casket is first, his face staring up at the world, no cocky grin. Narcissa studies the face of the boy she never knew, the one destined to be able to have a future with Lily. She feels no sadness about his death.

Narcissa moves on.

It feels blasphemous, for her, a Death-Eater's wife to be saying good-bye to a beacon of light. No one else would think it fitting.

In death, Lily's face is pale, her cheeks waxen. Her hair no longer shines, and her eyes are closed.

It is then that Narcissa realizes that, of all the qualities of the only person she has ever truly loved, she loved Lily's vibrancy best.

*** *** ***

It will be the evening of the funeral, when Narcissa has returned to her home, somber and depressed with the newfound realization of her love that she will once again pick up the white rose Lily gave her so long ago. Her fingers will trace the stem, and then the flower itself. But this time she will feel something she has not before, a piece of paper tucked in among the innermost petals of the flower. She will pull it out with trembling fingers and will unfold it and place it on the bed before reading.

I love you, Cissa. More than I will ever love anyone else, most likely. I would have been glad to share all the worlds with you.

And for the first time, Narcissa will bow her head and cry for the girl she was in the realm of play-acting, for fire, and for the things she couldn't say before. Just once more, she will allow herself to escape to their world during the day, to be able to whisper her secret words of love and devotion over Lily's skin.

And then other realms will only be places she escapes to at night, secrets never to be told, tales to tell to her child—if she should find a motherly instinct to tell stories—but ones that she will have to edit. For no one who has not visited that realm themselves can understand it, the repercussions that come when ice and fire mingle lovingly. Such things do not happen in reality.

Fin

Of course you want to touch the green button underneath this. Right...?