A/N: This is written for Masquerade Doll's My Other Half Challenge. My pairing was Narcissa/Astoria and my prompts were wonderland, bliss, and Blinding by Florence and the Machine.
Disclaimer: Anything you recognize belongs to JKR.
And finally it seemed that the spell was broken
And all my bones began to shake, my eyes flew open
Blinding :: Florence and the Machine
It was the lack of light, it sapped any warmth that remained and turned it into nothing more than ice laced air. The manor was dark as night and cold as winter, even in summer. She paces the corridors restlessly, her thick black cloak swirling about her ankles, and her silver-blonde hair falling down in sheets as fragile snow to the middle of her back. She meets no one as she makes her self appointed rounds of the manor, the house as empty and barren as if no one else lives there.
She keeps up her round of pacing, sounds float to her ears from down the corridor and from behind closed doors. Living proof that she is not alone, but they don't change a thing, they don't make her feel any less alone.
A dark green tapestry lies to her left, hanging upon the stone wall, and she pushes it aside, revealing a spiral staircase that disappears into the dark. She traces her pale finger upon the wall as she makes her way up the stairs, her guide in this lightless gloom. Her eyes fall closed, they are no use to her in this moment. Touch and sound are all that she needs. She hears her footsteps falling loudly upon each stone that makes up the stairs. The wall turns a corner under her hand and the stairs fall short under her feet, opening up into a room. Her eyes are still closed, her hand still pressed against the wall.
She steps forward, knowing her way even with her eyes tight shut. The room is small and square, with a sofa pushed up against the opposite wall, and two windows, one facing north, the other south. She opens her eyes to find herself standing directly in front of the north window and allows herself a small smile.
Malfoy Manor's grounds stretch out before her eyes, fields of green dotted with perfectly manicured trees and the evening sky tinted orange. She lets out a sigh and rests her arms on the window sill.
"The Queen locked away in her tower, what do you know? Isn't that usually the role of the Princess?" says a voice and Narcissa spins instantly around.
"What are you doing here?" The words fall from her lips in a snap. Astoria walks further into the room.
"I was bored," she says as she steps up to the other window, looking out at their surroundings.
Narcissa's blue eyes narrow slightly. "How did you find it?" she asks, revising her question.
Still looking out of the window, Astoria shrugs. "I heard someone coming down the corridor and then, when I got there, no one was around. So I did a bit of snooping, and sure enough..." She finally turns back around, leaning against the wall. "How long have you been keeping this place a secret?" There is amusement dancing behind her dark brown eyes, so much amusement, in fact, that Narcissa is suddenly sure that she is hiding something behind it.
"Snooping – I should have known. And you should know better than to go sticking that pretty little nose of yours where it doesn't belong." Narcissa turns back to her window, a few drops of water now splattered against its side.
Astoria steps up to her side, twirling a dark blonde curl between her fingers. "Why did you do it?" she asks suddenly, and Narcissa turns to look at her, her eyebrow raised.
"Why did I do what?" she asks.
A pink tinge creeps onto Astoria's cheeks and she gives a shy smile before looking off to the side. "Why did you marry Lucius?"
"I don't see how that is any of your business," Narcissa says with a frown.
"I know it is none of my business, but please..." Astoria turns to look at her again and she can see the desperation etched in her face. "Was it arranged? Or did you actually want to marry him?" Her voice is so different than it was just minutes before; all of her amusement is gone, revealing everything that lay underneath.
They stand there in silence for a moment before Narcissa finally answers her. "If you are thinking what I think you are thinking, Astoria, then I am not the person that you should be having this conversation with." She moves to step around her daughter-in-law, to leave, but Astoria grabs her wrist.
Instinctively, Narcissa's other hand reaches into her robes, tightening on her wand. But as she looks up and meets Astoria's eyes once more, she lets her hand fall loose at her side. "Please," Astoria whispers, still not releasing her wrist. The rain beats down loudly now, filling the silence that stretches out between them.
"In the beginning..." Narcissa begins softly and Astoria leans in closer. "I did want to marry him – and my mother and father couldn't have been more proud. Mrs. Narcissa Malfoy: I used to love the sound of that..." She looks back at the window, the world outside an unfamiliar blur. "But things change. People change." She looks back at Astoria. "I am not the same person as I was on the day that I married Lucius Malfoy – and neither is he."
"Then you know what it's like, exactly what it is like," Astoria says, her grip finally loosening itself on Narcissa's wrist only to slide down to her hand and knot their finger together.
"Astoria," Narcissa warns, but Astoria ignores her.
"I care about Draco. But caring and loving are worlds apart." Narcissa opens her mouth to interrupt her, but Astoria continues on before she can do so. "And don't try and tell me that he loves me because we both know that isn't true. I'm stuck here and I can't stop wondering if I made the right choice in marrying him or if I'm going to spend the rest of my life regretting it, if I'm going to spend the rest of my life alone.
"Until it finally hit me that I am probably not the only person living here that feels that way." Her eyes pierce into Narcissa's, and finally, instead of trying to interrupt her, Narcissa is lost for words. Astoria raises the hand that is not holding Narcissa's and gently brushes the hair back out of Narcissa's eyes. "I don't want to be alone," she says simply.
It is against her better judgment when Narcissa finds herself leaning forward, closing the remaining distance between them, but part of her is just too tired to care. And when their lips finally meet she lets out a sigh of relief. Because she couldn't see it until now, but in this moment, Astoria breathes joy and life into her endless winter, transforming it from a dead frost into a winter wonderland. And in that moment nothing exists except for Astoria; Astoria and Narcissa. It is unexpected and her thoughts are scattered and confused, and in this moment there is hardly anything that she is certain of, save for one thing: despite how wrong this whole situation is, it is pure bliss. Or maybe that is what makes it so perfect, but either way, she can no longer bring herself to care.
A/N: I still don't know how I feel about the ending; it reminds me way too much of one of my other fics. But I decided that the storyline I did have going for this would work much better as a chaptered fic, so I decided to save that idea. But leave a review and let me know what you thought of this, good or bad. =]