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The mirror was an oval shaped one. It was perfectly cut; not a bit out of proportion. The surface was clean and shiny as it could be, not a smudge on it. The house-elf had probably cleaned it that day. It looked like a river, a clean, shining, sparkling river. Of course, this was no surprise; the house-elf knew only too well of Druella Black’s fanaticism for cleanliness.
Rivers and mirrors were essentially the same thing, after all. Mirrors were artificial, and didn’t have as much life as a river, that was true. But one couldn’t differentiate much more than that. At least, not in Narcissa’s opinion.
Would it be better to be a river or a mirror? Rivers could seem steady and gentle, but they were always changing, always flowing. Water never stayed in the same place. Whereas mirrors had the same smoothness and calmness, and in a mirror it wasn’t deceptive.
Narcissa pondered the idea as she stared at the mirror before her. Her eyes, blue, and the one definitive object in her pale face, were the pebbles thrown into the river to create ripples. Pebbles frozen in time; in a river that would never move, change, or flow. A perfect reflection of the way Narcissa’s life seemed to go.
“You have lovely hair, Miss Narcissa,” a gentle voice behind her said. Narcissa started, losing her train of thought at once. She had almost forgotten about the maid
standing behind her, steadily brushing her long hair.
“Thank you, Harriet,” Narcissa murmured, a faint smile crossing her lips.
Harriet smiled at Narcissa’s reflection, somewhat surprised. She had made this comment almost every time she brushed Narcissa’s lovely golden hair, and was never rewarded with anything more than the ghost of a smile. The change prompted Harriet to continue speaking. Narcissa noted her pleasure with slight amusement; she had always wondered what Harriet’s reaction would be should she actually spoke.
“When I was a girl, my mum used to give up on my hair; ‘too many tangles and not enough time to get them all out!’, that’s what she used to say. But I can’t imagine you’d ever have that problem.”
Narcissa smiled again, and glanced at Harriet’s hair. It was light brown and curly, pulled tightly back, keeping it out of her face. She was about to reply to the maid’s comment when Druella Black swanned into the room. Narcissa clamped her lips shut, and went back to gazing expressionlessly at the mirror.
“I’ll finish that, Harriet,” Druella said brusquely, holding her hand out for the brush.
“I’m almost finished, Mrs Black,” Harriet replied quickly. “You needn’t bother . . .”
“It’s no bother. You can go finish other chores.” Druella’s voice took on a sharp edge as she eyed the maid severely.
“I’ve completed my chores for the day, ma’am.”
“Nonsense. I saw dust in the dining room, and you know that’s your job, not the house-elves',” snapped Druella sharply. “And besides, you’re a maid . . . if you look hard enough, I’m sure you’ll find something that needs to be done. Hurry off now."
Harriet bit back a reply and curtseyed quickly. “Yes, ma’am.” She averted her soft, pale eyes from Druella’s dark, piercing ones. Druella had always intimidated her.
In the mirror, Narcissa watched the reflection of the scene as it played out. Would a river, she wondered vaguely, show someone something going on behind them so clearly? Probably not. Perhaps on a very clear day if you were looking into a very clear river. But still, she felt sure that rivers, like mirrors, could reflect emotion. It was strange, Narcissa thought, that so many people ran away from emotion, yet it was reflected more clearly than anything else could be.
Then again the angles of the river and the mirror were different. Mirrors were vertical, while rivers were horizontal. You could put the river vertically, she supposed. After all, she was a witch. But then it would be a waterfall, which was too fast to show anything, and they had no order anyway. And sometimes rivers turned into waterfalls naturally. She wouldn’t like to be a waterfall. Yes, she was almost certain she’d rather be a mirror.
Harriet left the room and Druella started brushing Narcissa’s hair. Druella wasn’t as gentle and steady as Harriet, but brisk and forceful. Narcissa winced slightly; a flaw in the perfection of the mirror.
“Your hair will look lovely tonight,” Druella murmured softly.
Narcissa smiled at her mother, inwardly sighing. It was the annual Christmas celebration, this year hosted by the elderly Lestranges. It was a prestigious pureblood event, and one Narcissa had been attending since before she could remember.
When she had been a child, it had been different. She and the other children had played silly games and chased each other around, and no-one had paid any attention to them. It had usually been her and her sisters and cousins. They had been bearable then, fun even.
Only now it was different. Andromeda had run off with the Mudblood, and Bellatrix had recently married Rodolphus Lestrange (whose parents were the hosts that night). Sirius was all but disowned by the family and would probably be left at home. And although there was still Regulus, Narcissa herself had grown up, which meant that she was expected to be the good, sweet, pureblood daughter.
“The Malfoys will be there,” her mother continued.
Narcissa rolled her eyes. The Malfoys were there every year. No, it was one Malfoy in particular her mother was thinking of. And they’d only been on two dates.
“I know, Mother.” Narcissa’s voice subtly took on a weary tone that her preoccupied mother didn’t notice.
Druella tugged sharply on her hair, and Narcissa straightened her head.
“Lucius is going to propose.”
Narcissa started violently, spinning to actually face her mother, instead of just looking at her reflection. In her opinion, the mirror somewhat softened her mother’s sharp features, but it was simply no use carrying out an argument with a reflection.
“Calm down, Narcissa!” Druella snapped crossly, turning her daughter’s head back the right way firmly. “I know it’s exciting, but –”
“It’s not exciting! I don’t want to marry him!”
“Keep your voice down, and don’t interrupt me when I’m speaking,” her mother said coldly.
“Mother, we’ve only been out a couple of times, I’m not marrying him!”
“Don’t use that tone of voice speaking to me, either.”
Narcissa willed herself to calm down as her mother resumed brushing her hair, in a particularly violent fashion. She gave it a sharp tug again, and Narcissa obediently straightened her head.
“How do you know?” she asked finally, her voice at last controlled and calm. She knew if she didn’t calm her voice her mother would refuse to give anymore details.
“Oh, you know how these things spread. Walburga told me, and she was told by Reita Lestrange, who was told by Lucretia Malfoy herself.”
“Narcissa, you’ll make such a lovely bride. Bellatrix was gorgeous, of course, but you have this beautiful hair! Oh, darling, it shall be spectacular.”
Narcissa frowned. “Mother, didn’t you hear me? I’m not marrying him. I’m going
to say no.”
Druella snorted, as though the very idea was unthinkable.
“Don’t be silly, Narcissa. Keep your head straight!” This sentence was followed up by a particularly hard yank on her hair.
“What’s so silly about it?” Narcissa demanded. “I don’t want to marry him.”
“Of course you do,” her mother scoffed. “Why wouldn’t you?”
Because I barely know him, Narcissa thought. Because I’m only 18, and I just graduated, and because I’m meant to have my whole life ahead of me. Because I can’t fathom being a boring old housewife.
Out loud she said nothing.
“Narcissa,” her mother sighed, “you have to understand. The Black family name has undergone much shame over the past few years . . . your sister’s running off with the Mudblood, and your cousin being sorted into Gryffindor. Bellatrix’s wedding has helped, and another wedding would be wonderful! And a Black and a Malfoy . . . dear, it’s a match made in heaven!”
Narcissa sighed, gazing into the mirror again. Her mother paused with her brushing, and leant low, next to her ear.
“Darling, no-one will force you to say yes tonight. But, for the sake of your family, do you really want to say no?”
Narcissa had nothing to reply. Seeing this, her mother nodded in satisfaction, rose, and continued brushing her hair. They were both silent.
There was another difference, Narcissa decided. The mirror, the river frozen in time, reflected the silence, whereas a real river couldn’t.
Narcissa stared at her reflection. Before it had been emotionless. Now it was troubled. The pebbles had landed, and there were ripples in the river.
There was yet another difference between mirrors and rivers. Unlike a river, if you threw a real pebble into a mirror, it broke.
A/N: I really hope you liked this! It was kind of an idea that just came to me all of a sudden. Huge thanks go to Shona and Lyn, who beta-ed this for me, and special thanks to Lyn for coming up with a title; without you I don’t think I’d ever ended up posting this! Thanks so much, girls! *hugs*
Thanks for reading :)