Disclaimer: If the characters were mine they would be in a lot more pain. Alas, they're JKR's.

Bullet with butterfly wings

She has the face of a marble mask, hair pinned up with two lady-bird clips, shiny, enamelled and as unlikely to fly as she is to ever speak. Because Narcissa Malfoy had her tongue cut off.

She was very young when it happened and the memory is shapeless, the outlines blurred. There is only the image of a pair of scissors, the sharp blades reflecting the light and then a strange sensation. Something like ripping. Something like burning. She has forgotten who and why. Perhaps there was never a reason like there were never words for her.

Words are of no importance. Their purpose is not communication, she has come to realize, their purpose is to build a wall to hide your face behind. And Narcissa has no intention of hiding hers, she is proud of the bleached- white skin, the bone structure like fine china.

There is quite some flurry and excitement at the Manor these days, weekly inspections from the Ministry, dinners with Cornelius and his wife, Deatheater gatherings at the dungeons by midnight. She is always the perfect mistress, arranging champagne glasses and poison vials, inspecting every piece of silverware and torture device for stains. The house elves rush to obey her commands, squinting as they try to decipher the perfumed hand-written notes.

To keep herself entertained she has devised her own version of a Russian Roulette. She laces one of the champagne glasses with poison and before every formal dinner she mixes it with the rest. What does she care? She is not afraid of death, at least not the death of others.

As a child she used to spend the summer evenings in her father's garden of the hypnotized roses, counting the falling stars under a sky of ink black. These summer evenings she counts the falling men but has no tongue to make a wish.

A family meeting tonight, her husband, her son and Lord Voldemort. Lucius is blabbing on endlessly, his chest swelling with such self-importance that the lungs seem about to burst out of the ribcage. Draco - whose resemblance to his father never failed to surprise her, as if Lucius had molded him into shape from of clay - is silent and pale, his shoulders hunched.

Over the halos of the flickering candles the guest of honor with the red and slitted eyes proposes a toast. She raises her champagne glass and bringing it to her lips she takes a sip.

Such a familiar sensation. Something like ripping. Something like burning. Her vision is tinted red for a moment and she sways as the venom pushes through the spiderweb of her veins like molten wire. Then Lucius taps his cane on the floor, signaling the end of dinner. The cane is silver-tipped and makes a clear, ringing sound.

The poison will need many hours to take effect. Meanwhile the men retire to Lucius' office to talk business with some brandy by the fireplace. Narcissa carefully unclenches Draco's desperate fingers from the silk of her robes and sends him along.

Walking out in the balcony she notices that she is still holding her champagne glass, grasping it like a small animal she has just strangled. Her fingertips have changed to an odd and pleasantly numb shade of purple. 'Doesn't matter' she thinks absentmindedly, 'the dead in this house will soon outnumber the living anyway'.

She is still standing there when the morning sun spreads in the grey sky like a punctured egg yolk. The wind comes up behind her, wearing a blue cape, bringing a scent of summer, anise and sesame. It says: 'So you dare me to push you? So I dare you to jump.'

The end