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Chapter 1: Wild Strawberries
“It is so hard to leave—until you leave.
And then it is the easiest goddamned thing in the world.”
John Green – ‘Paper Towns’
The lace of her wedding dress looked less white in the fractured moonlight. The slivers of silvery blue which managed to squeeze through the intricate floral pattern danced along the wall of her small bedroom like ghosts ominously calling to her, beckoning her forward to join in their mindless, easeless dance. Her feet shuffled across the cold wooden floorboards of a house only she knew.
The house had been her mother’s, old and creaky it was filled with the ghosts of a past best forgotten; the spirits of those who once walked the long white corridors whispering to her in the early hours of the morning, voices unnoticed due to sleep having taken its hold on her. The voices surrounded her, singing both their freedoms and desires for a life beyond these walls, and had she heard them she might have agreed, envious of the wild beauty to be found in freedom. Now firmly locked into a wedding to the man she had questionable feelings of attachment for. Her life lived singular seemed to be coming to a ceremonious ending, a fairy-tale wedding for a woman who lived alone, her sole love for the books which graced the shelves of the store below the house.
A life lived quietly, her nose pressed against the pages of a book allowing the dark world she had been raised within to pass her by. Life had mostly left the quiet blonde forgotten, at least until Lucius had invited it into her life – and then it sunk its filthy claws into her soft clean skin and she had been unable to escape. All because Lucius embraced her with one arm and the Dark Lord with the other and long gone was the time when she could leave him, her attachment to him no longer breakable when something had taken root deep within her - a quiet fragile love.
The darkness had held her until now – taunting her from a distance with its cold smile and empty grey eyes, and here it was now, so easily peeled from her life, each finger wrapped around her wrist plucked away precisely and easily, leaving no trace as though it was never able to truly hold her in the first place. Freedom tasted so sweet, like strawberries picked and eaten in the field, a taste frozen in a place and time preserved by memory until this moment when it seemed so perfect. A memory so vivid the taste was all she could think of, and as though the taste was the beginnings of an earth-moving realisation, she knew she needed to leave, to taste the wild strawberries from the field beside her grandparents’ home once more before her life needed to be lived plural.
Slipping a pair of slippers over her cold feet the woman made her way through the dark house; her wand tucked into the pocket of her white nightgown which dragged along the wooden floors until both she and the white liquid-like wave behind her came to stop at the door to her mother’s room. Opening the door the stale air reached her nostrils in waves, the dust covered possessions of a life half-lived left behind following Druella Rosier-Black’s untimely death, everything exactly as it had been left the day she had died. Possessions and a house left to her eldest – Narcissa – no longer needed, because she was Narcissa no longer and the house was no longer her home.
On the eve of her wedding to Lucius Malfoy Narcissa Black vanished without a word, not a cry nor a whimper left lingering in the dark corners of her room bathed in moonlight to indicate a struggle – there was nothing but silence. The blonde vanished like the flame of a candle pinched between two fingers, only a little smoke at first, impossible to grasp or contain left trailing behind her, smoke which grew into flame, and with that flame vanished Narcissa Black, a woman in search of the taste of wild strawberries.
The quote at the beginning of this chapter is taken from John Green’s novel ‘Paper Towns’ (Paperback ed., Speak Publishing, p.229 )