In Bad Faith
A Harry Potter Self-Insert
Summary: Do you know what separates a dream from a nightmare? It turns out the line between them is fine, so fine and thin that you can stand with one foot on either side without strain.
A/N: Yes, I've heard it refer to as "That Most Egregious of Sins: The Self-Insert;" and I'm writing one. Joy. I suppose this is a response to reading several very well-written self-insertion stories recently...and several not-very-well written ones as well. Then, I had that great thought (you know, the one that occurs when you see a great badass scene in an action movie) that, arrogantly, 'Hey, I can do that!' Yes, I know, very humble. At any rate, because I'm evidently a closet masochist, I decided to make a fictional personification of myself really suffer...
The result is this charming (yeah, right) piece of crap which is taking time away from more successfully and popular pieces of crap. In addition to being arrogant, though, I am also shameless and would like to insert a little advertisement for DC Phantom and Marvel Phantom, my other active stories on this site...you might like them if you're a Danny Phantom fan. In the meantime, enjoy...
Chapter 1 – Ill-Starred
...It's hard to hate someone once you understand them.
They seem to go hand in hand, don't they? Everyone I've heard wax poetic on the end of life has always put forth the idea of a creeping chill crawling up you extremities, clawing at your heart until it suddenly...stops. I won't say they're wrong, because dieing seems like an intensely personal process to me...and the physical remains of an individual do seem to grow cold after death, losing the warm breath of life that was bestowed on it after your passing. In my experience, death is not cold...death is warm.
The transition was fast, happening in the blink of an eye.
Then, I couldn't take another breath, feel my heart beat, or notice the blood in my veins. I couldn't see, I couldn't move, I couldn't even feel really.
I was just...warm.
It was a sensation which suffused my very being, seeming to come from within and without at the same time. In the sudden darkness, completely withdrawn from any 'real' stimuli, I suppose I should have been afraid. Despite these facts, I was so utterly comfortable in this...place? Time? Space? Void? I was so at home that I drifted off to sleep almost immediately.
And awoke to screaming.
It took me a moment of startled alarm to realize it was my own.
I have to admit that realization scared me more than anything else that comes to mind, even now. To explain why that is...is difficult, I'll admit. To put the situation in proper perspective, imagine the situation as I've explained it: you are encapsulated in an all-encompassing warmth that promises safety, security, and protection; then, you are ripped from that warmth and pushed, roughly, into a cold and unforgiving world of harsh lights and blurry images mixed with ill-defined sounds.
And you can't control the fact that you are screaming.
Throughout my life, control of my body had been sacrosanct, something inviolate and unalienable. To realize, rather abruptly, that you can no longer do something so basic as to stop yourself from crying out?
That thought rips the last remnant of self control from you.
And then I wanted to cry.
It took me an unjustifiable amount of time to realize what had happened.
In retrospect I can attribute this to two factors: one, the unbelievability of the reality of my situation. There are some 'explanations' which people...or at least modern, logical, adults, disregard out of hand. No matter what an individual may espouse belief in...be it fate, destiny, or God, if the explanation is absurd enough, it doesn't even come up for consideration.
I live in terror of actually having to explain anything comprehensive about my life to anyone, mainly because I can't really 'explain' any of it. Nothing important, at least. No whys or hows, no divine mandate from a semi-omnipotent power...
The second reason why it took so long to come to terms with the reality of the situation is related to that lack of proof, either material or insubstantial. At first I was convinced I was either suffering from some kind of delusional episode, psychotic break, or that I had suffered some kind of traumatic brain injury.
I was convinced that it wasn't real.
Because it couldn't be.
In an abstract way, I suppose I acknowledged the possibility of the paranormal, but never considered it to have any real, practical application or effect on my life. I've entertained the notion of zombies, ninja, vampires...
Hell, I read Twilight back when I was a teenager.
The important part, though, is that I didn't really believe in them, or, if I did, I didn't consider that any of them would or could have interact with me in any way, shape, or form. Coming to terms with the fact that the supernatural did involve itself in my life? Even if this was some byproduct of an unrelated cosmic event?
Easier said than done.
Ultimately, I suppose I can sum up my circumstances in one word.
Or, at least, that's the most appropriate word I can think of. I'm not Buddhist, but...I suppose I wouldn't need to be, now would I? Putting aside the religious connotations, though, I do have to wonder at the fact that I've retained my memories...which would imply that either someone made a mistake 'upstairs,' I'm the victim (or beneficiary) of a fluke of epic proportions, or...
Well, the idea that I was put here in this life, intentionally?
Not a very comforting thought, given the implications of such.
I suppose I've waxed poetic on life, death, and the universe enough, thought, haven't I?
And, silly me, I haven't even introduced myself yet.
Please though, no jokes, I've made more than enough, especially seeing as how I used to be male and am now most decidedly female. I actually don't like thinking about 'that' much, for reasons I'm sure you understand and will, instead, skip ahead to the more...interesting parts of my life, with only passing commentaries on the...ahem, 'joys' of infancy.
I'm Desdemona Galatea Malfoy.
Daughter of Lucius and Narcissa Malfoy.
Sister to Draco Abraxus Malfoy.
Proud heiress to a long line of traditional pure-blood ideology, cold-blooded murder, and the hoarding of political enfranchisement.
I am so proud of my family, in case you couldn't tell.
And, yes, in case you missed it, Desdemona is a girl's name, and something I'd rather not think about too hard, if you get my drift.
Although, in a kind of horrible perverse way that makes me more than a bit ashamed to admit it, I am proud of my family. I also completely understand if you think that makes me a horrible person. At this point in my life, I'm honestly not really sure if I can bring myself to care anymore; I know, objectively, that my 'father' probably qualifies for the title of Mass Murderer, but when you live with someone everyday for over a decade and depend on them for your every need and want...
It gets very, very hard to hate them.
My first real memories, after my eyes developed enough to see properly and my ears developed enough to hear properly, are of my 'mother' holding me. Honestly, after six months, I had more or less come to terms with my situation and the fact that this, whatever it was, was becoming less and less likely to be a dream or delusion or a coma or something.
Ultimately, I decided that I would live my life as if it were real.
Because...well, realistically, what choice do I really have?
If I someone offers me a red pill or a blue pill one day?
I'll cross that bridge when I come to it.
I will admit that, as much as I sometimes hoped I would wake up back in my own bead or in a hospital room, those instances have become fewer and fewer as I've spent more time in my new world, with my new family...although there is the occasional sting of betrayal when I think of Narcissa and Lucius as 'mom' and 'dad.'
...well, 'mother' and 'father.'
And for those of you who still don't believe me? You remember when I mentioned those first memories? Yeah, it gets really hard to fear someone when they sing you to sleep night after night. It gets hard to hate someone after they're there for you every time you wake up crying from a nightmare you can't remember. It get hard to remember all those terrible sins when someone wakes up in the middle of the night to change your diaper.
Infancy is embarrassing, humiliating, messy, and a whole slew of other things that I really would rather not mention.
My point is, Narcissa and Lucius were there for me, in a way only parents could be.
As much as I believed I already had parents, I eventually started to realize there was a certain 'debt' that existed between myself and my new parents. The Malfoys had, knowingly or unknowingly, extended an unreserved welcome to me and I couldn't exactly repay them with the cold shoulder.
That didn't mean being a 'child' came naturally to me, though.
One day I'd like to ask my parents what they thought of me, considering their experiences with my older brother.
Ah, yes...Draco, how could I forget?
Draco was nearly a full year older than me and very much a needy and clingy baby. In that respect, at least, I was probably a relief for my parents. It was easy to see the budding start of selfishness and arrogance in the small child, though I tried to turn a blind eye to his grabbing hands and temper tantrums...it wasn't like I was in any position to apply discipline, anyway. Still, at the first sign of distemper, Narcissa...mom, would shower the child in almost anything to get him to quiet.
Given the harried and panicked look in her eyes, the slightly frayed ends of her normally-immaculate hair, and the nervous tics that she usually suppressed, it was easy to see these were the actions of a first-time mother rather than someone trying to willfully distort and deform a child's ability to interact with other children.
Yes, mom was very much the picture of a scheming, evil matron of an Ancient and Noble House during those years. These scenes were actually the greatest source of amusement for me during the early years of my second childhood, especially because they usually presaged magic.
If anything is worth the insanity of my new life, the trauma of realizing I had died, and the terror of realizing who my parents were...it was magic.
Narcissa would often levitate various colorful baby toys around either Draco or myself and I have never before been so enthralled by anything. I suppose this was the first time I thought about doing magic myself, too...as well as the possibility that I might not be able to do magic at all.
And that was the greatest scare I'd gotten since I died.
Given the majority of stories I'd read tended to demonize the Malfoys, the idea that I might (and considering my 'origins' I considered this a probability rather than a possibility) not be able to do magic, that I was a squib, terrified me beyond rational thought. The more lurid and grimdark tales I'd looked at tended towards blood sacrifice and slavery as an eventuality in the Malfoy family.
And it was that momentary burst of fear, not entirely irrational, that probably had something to do with what happened next...
All of the windows in the west wing of Malfoy Manor exploded outwards.
Between my fear, my surprise, and the ensuing (not entirely voluntary on my part) temper tantrum, it took several days for me to realize that 'I' had caused the micro-disaster. In fact, it was my parents who actually pointed it out and, even then, it took several hours to penetrate my sometimes-thick skull that I...well, that I had superpowers.
Yes, laugh it up, I don't care.
In the mind of a proud anime nerd, comic book geek, and overall fantasy freak, magic equals superpowers. That's just how it goes. Granted, there are sets of powers that I would prefer, but beggars can't be choosers and, particularly in this setting, with these parents, I was devoutly grateful to be a witch...
Yeah, that whole 'different gender thing' still unnerves me a bit.
While not particularly 'cold' towards mom and dad, I had to intentionally remind myself to occasionally reach out for hugs and affection, not the least of reasons was because I tended to get lost in my own little world. If I had to pick a single word to describe my second childhood? It would probably be 'intent.' I was always studying my surroundings, gazing at things with such focus I think my parents must have noticed something was a little 'off' with me.
I was very quiet as a child, forgoing much of the babbling and cooing common to newborns in favor of silent observation, especially after I figured out exactly who my new parents were. Given that I already understood 'their' language (barring a few colloquialisms which were unfamiliar, honestly who uses 'biggie' to mean 'poo?'...and I don't think anything else quite shattered my image of Narcissa as a stuck up pure-blood wife than the realization that she indulged in baby talk), it was fairly easy to analyze their conversations and pick up interesting tidbits.
For the first few years of my life, Lucius was a distant father figure and I only saw him when at the dinner table or a few scattered instances of tucking me in at night.
I have no doubt that many people think of my father, of Lucius, as an arrogant and cold person, beyond merely 'human' emotions and sensibilities. Much like my first few years with my mother, my first impressions of Lucius shattered that image. In retrospect, I shouldn't have been surprised; Lucius, for all the fact that he was a murderous monster, was also a human being. Even if that cold mask of indifference was a real aspect of his personality, it wasn't all there was to him.
It would be nice if monsters were so simple.
It would be nice if I could forget the bone-tired weariness that I remember seeing in my father's eyes those first few years. It would be nice if I could forget the moment I realized why he always looked so tired, so utterly exhausted. But, this isn't a nice, simple world with wicked witches and handsome princes ripped from a disney-esque fairy tale. No, this world is more like the older, dark, and meaner fairy tales...
I suppose that was my wake up call.
Well, one of them, anyway.
In Bad Faith
I suppose there are worse worlds to be born into.
And, even if it might not seem like it, there are worse lives to be born into too.
For instance, I could have been born an Ikari, a Saotome, a Hellsing, or even a Dresden. Given what those families go through, I'd have given suicide very long and serious consideration. Granted, while the last name 'Malfoy' isn't a harbinger of great things, there are worse fates, even in the world of Harry Potter.
And let's not even start with how weird it is to live in a fictional world named after a single individual.
Well, for a given value of 'fictional.'
But still, magic!
It was a bit of a let down that my mother inched her wand out of the way every time I made a clumsy and fat-fingered grab for it, smiling as she admonished me.
"Now, now Dezzy, that's not for you. That's mommy's wand, you'll get your own later~"
Her voice was musical, lilting, and happy in a way I had never imagined it could be. Normally, that would have probably garnered a tantrum from a child my age, however I graciously allowed myself to be soothed with a song and a bottle of milk. To this day, I thank whatever incarnation of the Abrahamic God or pagan deity was involved in Narcissa's decision not to breast feed her children.
I think that would have probably broken my mind.
And, yes, my childhood nickname was Dezzy.
I'll wait for your laughter to subside.
Honestly, the moment I heard the name 'Malfoy,' I'd thought I was going to be saddled with a name that was equally as monstrous as Draco's...and I was largely correct. Desdemona is the kind of name I'd imagine for a Saturday morning cartoon villain, though 'Dezzy' is the hilarious baby name that someone brings up during your sixteenth birthday party that ensures no one ever takes you seriously again.
Kind of like 'Dray-dray.'
As a newly minted younger sister, I hereby swear that my older brother's nickname will come back to haunt him in a public setting, with witnesses, in the most reputation-damaging way possible.
...maybe I might fit in with the Malfoys after all.
I make no apologies.
I suppose I'm a masochist at heart, to write something like this, especially for my own enjoyment.
At any rate, I know I should be working on other stuff, but, again, this stuff is for my own fun, even if I am indulging in a horrible cliche of fanfiction writers everywhere.
Ah well, I suppose the maxim of 'everybody gets one' holds up here as well as anywhere else.
Peace Out ~ Slayer Anderson