Disclaimer : I am not J.K Rowling. As i have repeatedly claimed before my fanfics begin.
It is amazing how complete is the delusion that beauty is goodness.- Leo Tolstoy
i. She was a tiny white thing with a mop of fair hair unheard of in the Black family when she was born. Cygnus names her Narcissa, because she is possibly the only girl his wife had given birth to that he wasn't disapointed seeing (more resigned that his wife wouldn't produce an heir, but that is a different story altogether) and he gives her a distinctive name.
ii. Growing up, Narcissa is the one the sisters sought to protect, and she knew appropriately by her shrewd child's mind that if she fills her grey eyes with tears, she would be given anything she wanted, or she could make people feel appropriately guilty for hurt she had suffered, whether or not it was their fault. She also knew she was beautiful at a very young age, but in a delicate fragile way that her sisters couldn't manage and one in her later years, she would use to her very advantage. She, of course, had no trouble believing that her family was superior to others, to Muggles, mudbloods and blood traitors. Well, she was clean, had pretty clothes and had properly formed mouth, a long thin nose like the rest of her family. Of course they were above everybody else.
iii. She sees a Muggle for the first time when she was trailing after Andromeda who found a bookshop at a fairly unknown place. Narcissa went protesting all the way, holding up her dress, wrinkling her nose at the dust in the air. "Andy! Father wouldn't like it if he found out! He had forbidden us to come here...in this filthy Muggle place", she doesn't pay attention to the ones with rags, such an ugly blemish on an already dusty landscape, she would rather close her eyes rather than see them. Andy, however, seemed to hardly care when she entered an old bookshop, stroking the spines of the books, wiping off dust and speaking to the Muggle normally if she could buy the books he had stocked. Narcissa stood in her doorway, terribly ashamed of her sister, but perversely fascinated by how Andy showed no discrimination when she spoke to the Muggle bookshop owner. One must discriminate, Narcissa thought.How would one person know they are different and special from others if you spoke without discrimination?
It seemed terribly cold and impersonal to Narcissa, but as Andy came out of the bookshop (she paid the Muggle a galleon and the Muggle man was picking it up, fascinated) , she asks, "What are you going tell Father when he finds out where you had gone?"
"Are you going to tell him?" Andy asks, smiling. Narcissa shook her head, because she loved her sister dearly and did not want her in trouble.
iv. Narcissa steals for the first time from her mother's drawer. It was a ring that bore Black family crest, and it was so pretty. It was too big and too heavy for her long fingers, but she looked at the design that was carved around the stone, and Tojours Pur written inside of the band, she knew she wanted it. Her theft was discovered by her mother, who thankfully did not punish her and said, "That ring is for Sirius. He is the heir of this family" which Narcissa found unfair. Sirius? Sirius was the dirty boisterous cousin who jumped walls and challenged Bella to climb trees with him. How can he be the heir to this family? He is not going to understand. She looked miserably at the ring and told her mother, petulantly, "Sirius is never going to appreciate how beautiful it is", and she thought bitterly, He will probably throw it at Regulus's forehead or something of that sort.
v. She was 16, and she was used to having heads turn around and stare as if they had never seen a woman before, she relished in it, the attention, the power her beauty seemed to hold over them. Of course, her expressions were neutral as if she scarcely noticed, but, oh, of course she did. She feels a twinge of regret when Lucius Malfoy is engaged to her sister, but a curious feeling of triumph and shame goes through her when his grey eyes lingered on her longer than necessary when Andromeda mechanically introduces him to her. She doesn't think of it much though, when she returns to school, she becomes a little infatuated with a certain blood traitor James Potter. Maybe it is a phase, she decides. After all, Andromeda seemed to spend a lot of time with that Mudblood in school. Maybe all Blacks have certain rebellious phase they eventually grow out of.
"Forget about him" a voice said, when she was watching James Potter fly, his Captain badge shining over the red robes. Narcissa looks up to see her cousin smirking at her.
"I wouldn't think about a blood traitor like that one" she said defensively.
"Oh it is not him you want" Sirius said, his smirk turning into a cruel smile. " Or do you not know yourself well enough to know what is it about him that attracts you?"
She stares at him dumbfounded.
"He is the golden Quidditch hero, pureblood and talented. A trophy if you will. You keep collecting pretty things, don't you? Surround yourself with it so that your beauty is magnified, with brainless people around you to constantly bleat about about how precious you are to validate your sense of self worth, to make you believe your beauty is your power. But Narcissa, it is also a lie. When your illusions about your perfect life shatter, you would see there is nothing beneath you but a void".
She feels tears prick her eyes and remembers that tears never worked on this beast of a cousin.
So she responds viciously in kind,"And you see the truth, do you? Do you know you are always going to be a Black first and Gryffindor later? It is you who they'll throw to the dogs the moment they smell trouble! You think they have the honor Sirius, but they are never going to trust you implicitly. Does that hurt?"
Sirius had stopped smiling but the cruel twist in his expression remained. "By all means, go after James. I'd rather watch you crash and burn, Narcissa. Maybe then you'll learn to see the world not as you dress it up but as it truly is. And also, you are going to lose to Lily Evans, who I might add, ten times the person you are and with a beauty that is real". He walks away, leaving her smarting with his words.
vi. She never pursues James Potter, her cousin's words had crippled her, and she realises belatedly, that probably was the point. However the anger she feels towards her cousin is nothing compared to the all consuming betrayal and rage when Andromeda runs away to marry that Mudblood.
When she sees Andromeda after few days of her marriage announcement with her husband in Diagon Alley, she hopes they have not noticed her but when her sister grabs her arm and says quietly, "I need to talk to you", she knows it is too late.
She turns around, her insides melting in hot rage and fury, screaming, I never told anyone about him! I trusted you when you told me it meant nothing! I covered up for you..and you abandon our family for him?
"What do you want?" Narcissa said, coldly. "I have no business talking to strangers."
"Stranger, am I, Cissy? I want to talk to you, and I know it was hard that I left without any explanation, but I have to explain, to make you understand you haven't lost me, your sister-"
Narcissa looks at the Mudblood, standing few feet away from them, watching. She knew he was standing there out of respect for her feelings and his respect for the fact that she was his wife's sister, but she felt contemptuous of him nevertheless. "I have one sister and she is Bellatrix Lestrange. I don't know who you are. Please stop bothering me. I'd also appreciate it if you let go of my arm."
Andromeda lets go of her arm, hurt. "If that is what you wish, Cissy."
"You'd have had a better chance of talking to me without that scum trailing after you like a lost dog" Narcissa told her sister, whose expression changed dramatically from hurt.
Andromeda raised her hand and left a stinging slap on Narcissa's face. "You are disgusting" Andromeda said. "My husband shouldn't have been standing there out of respect for your illogical bigotry like the rest of our family but he did it so it would be easier on you. Easier for me to make you understand that you haven't lost me but I see that isn't necessary."
Andromeda walks away with Ted Tonks from Narcissa's life then. Narcissa had known by then how to stop her tears, so she sees them walk away without tears of humiliation and hurt falling from her eyes.
vii. The Daily Prophet makes much of the information when she is engaged to Lucius Malfoy. Rejected by one sister, taken by the other, the gossip columns said. It makes Narcissa more determined to have the most beautiful wedding the Wizarding world had seen. She had gone to Lucius Malfoy as a petty revenge against her sister even knowing Andromeda probably wouldn't care less but she would know that action was designed to hurt her, and that would hurt her.
Of course, Narcissa had not counted on falling in love with him, but fall in love she did. And everything in the world was bright and beautiful again, and again she lived in a bubble where no one could touch her floating above the rest of the world with her world of rings and flowers and dresses. She thinks her life could not have held more perfection until she gives birth to Draco, who, as she held the baby in her arms, she might love more than his father.
"Draco," Lucius was smiling,watching the baby sleep in her arms. "Draco Malfoy."
"It is perfect," she whispered before Lucius kissed her.
viii. Narcissa knew how to coax information sweetly from people, how to be alternately sympathetic and stern when situation demanded it. That is probably why when Kreacher turns up at the Manor, the Dark Lord delegates the task of interrogating the elf about the Order to her. It is Lucius who tells her, of course. But questioning Kreacher was a useless affair when her dear cousin had closed all the loopholes, and the only two sentences he managed to choke out were "Master Sirius loves Harry Potter" and after another useless round of looking for loopholes, "Harry Potter sees Master as a surrogate father". She was feeling frustrated with the lack of leads when Lucius came late in the night and said, a touch of triumph in his voice, "It appears, Cissa, the elf's information is not as useless as we thought. The Dark Lord seems to value it greatly and thinks we can finally make a breakthrough to the Department of Mysteries"
Narcissa sat up,bright, like an obedient schoolgirl whose homework has been marked with top grades. There was also a sense of savage pleasure in knowing she got one over the great rebel, the heir, Sirius Black.
She smiled, putting a palm on Lucius's cheek, "And we will get everything we dreamed of, wouldn't we? The life we wanted without the stain of suspicion from flea bitten fools like the Weasleys ?"
Lucius closed his eyes. "Yes, now that all the Death Eaters are out, there is no one who can stand in our way."
ix. The sweet taste of victory over Sirius Black was not to last very long, when this boomeranged into her perfect life, shattering it- Lucius was carted off to Azkaban, and her son, her child chosen for a suicide mission. She could barely keep it together, trying to find something, something that would save her son from the fate decided by the Dark Lord and Sirius's taunt echoed in her ears, you would see there is nothing beneath you but a void.
She was only partially assured when Severus made the Unbreakable Vow, but the overwhelming paranoia had gripped her soul and it never left even when her son was returned to her relatively unscathed but disturbed, and Lucius returned, a husk of the man he was. She wanted to scream her despair, how useless she is, not able to protect Lucius who she loved so deeply and not even able to protect their son who had seen more horrors a child had right to see. It is wrong, a child should not see this. Her parents made sure that she lived in comfort of satin and dresses, with the protection of nobility of their family.
She had failed as a parent. Her child is seeing blood and torture and death, and she wondered how long had she fooled herself thinking this life was an answer, and let Lucius believe this life would bring him the power and glory he deserves.
When her sister leans forward and passionately tells the Dark Lord about how they have never set eyes on Andromeda since she left, she understood Bellatrix means to kill Andromeda's daughter, and she feels as repulsed by the knowledge as she is by her...niece marrying a werewolf. She watches Bellatrix talk to the Dark Lord the way she never does with her husband, and she feels bewildered and disgusted. How can you love this...demon, Bella?
Bellatrix's madness scared her, terrified her because there was no Andromeda to reign her back in, and she had always blamed Andromeda leaving for Bellatrix descending to this madness, not Azkaban.
When the snake proceeds across their table to feed on the corpse of Draco's teacher, she feels violently sick not only because she had the misfortune to see such grisly ugliness in her life, but her son, sitting petrified beside her, is seeing them too.
x. She winces in pain as she approaches the boy's body. Harry Potter, he had looked so larger than life when he came into the clearing, there was no fear in his face as he faced the Dark Lord. Now, at her feet, arm bent in awkward angle, mouth lolling open, she pictures Draco's body as she falls to her knees and touches his face and wrist. Her long hair covered the boy from onlookers when, with a terrifying skip of her heart she realises the boy is alive.
Alive with a fierce sense of conviction as she felt his pulse, it was as if she could hear his heart pumping in his rebellion, a defiance against the Dark Lord. She drew a little back and let her hand creep under his shirt to feel the desperate beating. She saw, for a moment, how beautiful this child was, even when ravaged by war, by the title of the hero for the other side. There was a certain purity about him, not of blood or nobility or the way affection colours the way she sees in Draco or Lucius, for his hair and his demeanor were so like his father's-rough, arrogant as she had remembered when she last confronted the boy at Madam Malkins. So she opens his eyelid with a certain childlike curiosity, like she had opened her mother's jewelery box to steal pendant her mother wore the day she took back the Black family ring, she sees a startlingly green eye like a precious emerald stone.
So she whispers, wondering how she trusts him to answer her, to not lie to her, to assure her that all is not lost,"Is Draco alive? Is he up at the castle?"
"Yes" he breathes back, and her nails clutch his chest for a moment, because she believes him instantly and she needs strength, strength to lie to the Dark Lord, to save her son, to protect her family and to preserve the sudden beauty she sees in this boy. A beauty that is tangible and raw and real, even when he is lying sprawled on the ground pretending to be dead. She suddenly sees how evil it was, not only how her son has been forced to live a pitiful existence past two years, but of this boy,how evil it would have been to point a wand at this boy when he was an infant, how evil its is now, a child barely an adult chased after for murder to satisfy the lust of pure power for the Dark Lord.
She feels no regret when she turns to the Dark lord, her eyes empty of emotion,
"He is dead!"
my notes : I have tweaked Narcissa and Andromeda's canon ages. I have made Narcissa an year older than Sirius- this tweaking helps the story flow better, and I really wanted to write this. :D
I had a pretty hard time with the title, but I decided on Echo, because of how J.K Rowling pointed out that when Narcissa saves Harry, it was a conscious echo of what Lily did, which is a pretty defining moment for Narcissa. Also, has anyone read the poem of Narcissus and the nymph Echo? :)
read and review please. :)