Narcissa Black sat on her silver-sheeted bed, staring out into her room with unseeing eyes. Deep shadows crept across the wooden floor as the last rays of sunlight began to slowly slip away, and a slight chill accompanied the darkness. Narcissa shivered involuntarily but didn't bother to try to shelter herself from the cold in any way.
It was clear from her vacant expression that Narcissa was deep in thought as she continued to sit motionlessly in the silent, growing darkness. The worry lines adorning her young, pale face gave her the appearance of someone much older and more experienced. A sigh escaped her lips as she began to realize that sitting here in silence wouldn't change the situation she'd found herself in.
Change. The word made her grimace as it passed through her brain. After all, change was the reason she was sitting here so solemnly in the first place... she couldn't believe how drastic a turn her life had taken in the past few days.
Trying to push these thoughts from her mind, she got to her feet and crossed the room, taking a seat at her cherry wood vanity. Her mind began to wander again as she started combing her hair, and when that was finished she started touching up her makeup in the places where her tears had washed it away.
Who is he? she thought, making herself ever more nervous, if that were even possible. What will he be like? What will he look like?
Angry at herself for allowing these questions to roam around unchecked in her brain, she scowled at her reflection in the mirror and got to her feet once more, deciding to walk over to her closet and pick out more appropriate attire for the occasion. Perhaps, she thought, if I keep myself occupied, I can keep these feelings at bay.
As she selected a more elegant gown from her vast wardrobe, painful memories washed over her. This was his favorite dress; she'd worn it the first time they'd met. She allowed the memories to continue for a moment and found herself recalling that fateful first date with a heavy heart.
They were both younger then, and neither had ever had such an intense relationship before. And at seventeen years old, neither of them had expected love to come so quickly. She'd snuck off to meet him at the Hog's Head, afraid of what her parents would think if they knew she was dating, and even more afraid of the questions they'd ask. Was he a pureblood? Was he wealthy? Well-connected?
Narcissa hadn't known the answers to these questions and still didn't know them, even now that their two-year relationship had ended. Nor did she care; all she knew was the feeling of pure elation she felt in his presence... the way her heart seemed to stop beating when he entered a room.
Thinking about these feelings caused them to bubble to the surface, and Narcissa soon realized there were tears building up in the corners of her eyes. She quickly pushed the memories away and straightened her face into an expression of firm resolution. Now was not the time for sentimental reminiscence; her guest would be here soon, and it would all be over.
But then again, it already was over; she'd seen to that. She'd sent her beloved a letter a week ago, telling him they could no longer be together. She'd explained why as best she could, but none of the words that made their way from her quill had been fully able to express her remorse for what she was doing. But it had to be done... it was a matter of family honor.
Family honor, she thought to herself with a chuckle. Now I'm starting to sound like my mother.
Narcissa slipped into the dress she had chosen and tied the sash around the waist tightly before stepping into her private bathroom to appraise herself. A sense of finality swept over her as she stared at her mirror image. Was she really going to go through with this?
Of course she was. She'd made up her mind about that eight days ago, when her mother first suggested this course of action. The decision had been an easy one; it was the execution that had proven difficult. She thought back to that night quickly, in the hopes of reminding herself of the reasons for her choice and thereby strengthening her resolve.
"Your father has a wealthy pureblood friend who has a son about your age," her mother had said. "We think he'd be an excellent match for you, and the union of the two of you would certainly preserve the prestige and honor associated with the Black family name. It's entirely up to you... but for what it's worth, your father and I desire this greatly."
Those few sentences had been enough to give Narcissa her answer. She didn't argue or cry... she didn't even explain to her mother that she was already in love with someone else. This was a matter of purity and family honor, which Narcissa knew were more important than any feelings she may have had. This was her chance to honor her heritage and make her family proud, and she wasn't going to pass it up.
Still, though, the fact that Narcissa knew she was doing the right thing hadn't kept her heart from breaking as she wrote to her former lover, ending their affair. Her tears had smudged the ink in several places, but she'd been determined to finish it in one sitting, no matter how much grief it caused her. Thinking about the pain she'd endured while writing that letter caused tears to make their way down her cheeks once more, and she placed her right hand above her still-aching heart, which seemed to be calling out his name. "Lucius," she whispered, finally allowing his name to escape her lips for the first time in more than a week.
At that exact moment, as if scolding her for indulging in such a childish display of emotion, the grandfather clock in the hallway began to chime the hour. Narcissa's heart started beating rapidly as she realized that the time had come; her future husband would be here soon... if he wasn't downstairs already.
Finally bidding farewell to the memories of the love she had put to an abrupt end, Narcissa wiped her tears away forcefully, as though angry at her eyes for betraying her innermost feelings. Forcing a smile onto her now even paler face, she straightened her chin and marched from her bedroom with an air of pompousness.
When she reached the first of three flights of stairs, she heard the doorbell ring, but ignored the involuntary jolt her heart made. As she descended the second flight, still unable to see the new arrivals, she heard her mother's laughter and the sound of men talking, and she thought her legs might give out from under her. But as she placed her foot on the first step of the final flight of stairs, she heard a deep voice greeting her mother with finesse.
The sound of his voice made her stop dead in her tracks, mid-step. Besides the slight edge in his tone, his voice sounded slow and smooth, like honey pouring from a jar. Narcissa couldn't fight the feeling that his voice sounded oddly familiar, but she wasn't quite sure where she'd heard it before.
Eager to meet the man behind the lovely, calming voice, Narcissa picked up her stride and descended the final flight of stairs two times as quickly as she had the first two flights. Looking up at her suitor for the first time, Narcissa's eyes widened and her breath caught in her throat. He was tall and thin, but muscular, with long, silky blonde hair.
"L- Lucius?" she managed a moment later, unable to believe her eyes. The look of shock upon his handsome face mirrored hers almost identically.
"Narcissa?" he asked incredulously.
The two families looked on with interest, wondering how their children knew each other. Narcissa could feel the four pairs of eyes on them, but her eyes never left the gaze of the only pair she cared about. Without thinking, without caring what the onlookers would say, she rushed forward and found herself in his familiar embrace without realizing how it had happened.
Feeling his heart swell with joy, Lucius kissed her forehead tenderly and hugged her close, ignoring the questioning looks he was receiving from his parents. "Well, it looks like we're going to be together after all," he said with a smile.