Chapter 1 : Hellfire
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"The fire you kindle for your enemy often burns yourself more than them."
- Chinese Proverb
"Narcissa!" rang Druella Black's voice in the ears of her youngest daughter as she hurried to her. She grabbed the back of her daughter's black dress and tied it as tightly as possible. "Is this how you intend to present yourself?"
"Mother, I'm doing the best I can," Narcissa moaned.
Her mother's fingers yanked at the ties at the back of her dress, and Narcissa fell forward, grabbing at the full length mirror before her for support.
"Then your best isn't good enough," her mother muttered as she shook her head in disappointment. "Your sister is joining the Dark Lord's ranks. This shall be the first time you personally see the Dark Lord, and this is the best you can do? Any daughter of mine is capable of better."
Narcissa closed her eyes and tried to keep the tears from spilling over as they clouded her vision. The tears were there because of her mother, because her mother very rarely had a good thing to say about her. She knew Druella Black was proud of her youngest daughter, but she never showed it, and Narcissa only wished for one small measure of reassurance that she made her parents proud, that she was the daughter they wished her to be. Her parents weren't ones for terms of endearment. She blinked them away; her mother couldn't see her cry. She would only reprimand her further. Especially on a day like this. So she gripped the wood of the mirror's frame until she felt splinters in her palm, coughing as her mother fastened the dress that she made all too tight on her already small bodice.
"Yes, Mother," Naricssa whispered.
Cygnus and Druella Black held great pride in their eldest daughter Bellatrix, and in the house of Cygnus Black, today was an important day, a day in which Bellatrix Black would be inducted into Lord Voldemort's ranks. The thought made Narcissa quiver with fear. She knew her parents expected the act from her someday, but she was grateful that her time for such actions was yet to come. Joining the Death Eaters was just one more thing her parents had added to her to-do list, along with marrying a respectful pureblood. Being twenty-three years old, this greatly disappointed her parents, but she was still a step above her middle sister. Andromeda had married a muggle born six years ago, had had her face blasted off the family tapestry, and had given birth to a half-blood child five years ago. Knowing that in the eyes of her parents she couldn't do worse than her sister, she had hope that her parents had yet to give up on Narcissa.
Satisfied with her daughter's dress, Druella backed away to appraise her daughter's appearance. Sighing in frustration, she shoved a finger into the middle of her back, making her stand up straight. Narcissa sighed as her mother's long finger prodded at her back. She looked into the mirror and watched her mother's expression, her nose wrinkling and forming a crease, her lips tightly pursed. She looked as if she were about to say something, but the door opened and her father stood there impatiently.
"Ella. Narcissa. It's time," Cygnus Black instructed.
Narcissa sucked in a deep breath, mustering her courage. Her mother led her from the room, and she whispered to her as they left. "What will Bella have to do?"
"We're not sure. The Dark Lord is creative with his methods. You know what Bella's betrothed had to do."
Narcissa shivered. She did recall what her eldest sister's betrothed did upon his induction into Lord Voldemort's ranks. The screams of the muggle-born man still rang in her ears, still resurfaced in her nightmares. She could still see the man twitching on the floor even after Rodolphus had lifted the Cruciatus Curse, and she pitied the poor man, disposed of in a field for his crazed and deranged self to find a way back to safety.
She knew her sister was dark, but would Bella do whatever Lord Voldemort asked of her? Somehow Narcissa believed that she would, and that made her cringe. She hoped Voldemort wouldn't make her do anything worse than Rodolphus. At least Rodolphus' victim lived through the event, as far as Narcissa knew. If he died alone in the field, then at least she didn't know about it, but for some reason Voldemort seemed to test women further than he did men. He knew that the commitment they were making was nothing of light magnitude; he wished to make sure that his followers were ready to fully commit.
Narcissa trembled as she and her mother followed Cygnus down the hall way of the manor and into the sitting room on the first floor where Bellatrix Black was eagerly and impatiently waiting for their departure. She was sitting on one of the arm chairs, tapping her wand against the arm of it and huffing in exasperation.
"Patience, Bella," Cygnus instructed, and upon their entrance into the room, Bellatrix jumped up from her seat. She ran to greet them, her long black hair bouncing and a hunger in her eyes to perform to her darkest potential.
The four met in the middle of the sitting room. Narcissa tried not to let her anxiety show. Her father would scorn her, and she didn't want that. She only wanted to please him. Especially on a day like this. Bellatrix asked of where they would be going, but Cygnus only demanded more patience from her.
Their father reached out his hand, and the three women grabbed hold of his wrist. Then with that familiar pull in their gut, they were apparating to Lord Voldemort's desired meeting place for Bellatrix's induction.
The air grew thick and heavy, musty inside the manor that was resting in shambles. They were suddenly surrounded by other men of Voldemort's ranks, and many of them graciously congratulated Bellatrix for her wonderful opportunity, wishing her well on her task that was yet to be assigned. They were congregating in a room of an abandoned manor. The windows were boarded up, the stench of mold from the fraying wallpaper permeated the air, and cobwebs hung over their heads.
Narcissa took two great steps back from her parents and sister. She didn't wish to be bombarded with questions about when she would join the ranks as well. She had faced that before and had to awkwardly stammer her response back. She wasn't brave enough to face that. She felt the heat rise to her cheeks as she watched her sister's smile grow larger with pride by the second. She took another step back and grunted when she hit a blockade with her back.
She swung around, and cool fingers gripped her elbows. She looked up to see a masked man looking down at her. She wanted to cringe; she hated the look of that mask, but she knew better than to show her fear in front of a man who had already sworn his allegiance. Unknowing of the man's identity, she lowered her head and tried to brush past him. However, he had other plans.
His voice was cool like his fingers, and Narcissa could immediately place the voice with a name. "Narcissa. Just as beautiful as the last time I saw you."
"L-Lucius," she stammered apprehensively.
"You're quite jittery today. Excited for your sister?" Lucius Malfoy asked as if that was why she was quivering. She tried not to show how she had quickly dissolved into shambles.
"Very," she answered, unable to think of anything else to say.
"And when do you plan on pledging your allegiance to the Dark Lord?" asked Lucius.
"My allegiance will come all in good time, Lucius," Naricssa said. She sucked in a deep breath, pushing her chest out with pride and bravery. She didn't want to seem weak, fragile, or unsure. Not here. She had to save that for the confinement of her bedroom where no one could see how weak and how afraid she truly was of these changing times.
The thin lips of Lucius' mouth tugged up into a witty smirk, and he nodded. Narcissa pushed past him, not able to tolerate any more talk on this day.
Then a crack cut the chatter in the eerie house like a knife, and silence fell over everyone. Those with large black hoods and masks covering their heads went to stand amongst the ranks, and those who had yet to take their oath swearing Lord Voldemort's allegiance turned to face him upon his arrival. Cygnus and Druella stood proudly behind their eldest daughter. Bellatrix held her head high, and she even had to keep her smile from growing too wide with her excitement. Narcissa, however, lowered her head and slipped behind her parents, wishing to go unseen.
Lord Voldemort walked swiftly towards them. As he got closer to them, Narcissa felt her head sink lower and lower. She tried to fixate her eyes on one small splinter of wood on the floor beneath her feet. When she heard his cool voice, she began to quake on the spot and had to silently dismiss herself. She walked quickly and silently from the room. Luckily no one paid her any mind as she went; everyone was too submersed in the Dark Lord's words.
Narcissa tried not to listen as he gave Bellatrix her task, but slipped from the sitting room into the lavatory. It was quiet, small, and gloomy in the bathroom. She ran to the sink and turned on the faucet, thankful for the working plumbing. She splashed her face with the cool, murky water and dabbed at the beads of sweat on her neck. Bracing the marble counter with her hands, she stared at her reflection in the dirty mirror. Her reflection was distorted, and she wondered who was staring back at her.
She had always followed in her parents' and elder sister's footsteps without question. She followed their every order and did her best to live up to their expectations. She wanted to be the best daughter she could be, yet she didn't know why the people her family associated with terrified her so greatly. They made her tremble, made her feel vulnerable, and made her fear everything that came across her path.
There were times when she felt as if she were out of place. Did she really belong with the family she was born to? She didn't quite know how she felt when she watched someone she loved hurt another for sheer pleasure. She hated being asked when she would join Lord Voldemort's ranks, for she knew why she had yet to join them. Everyone else could believe that it was because she was still of young age, that her parents didn't want her to join until she was Bella's age. Everyone could believe that, but Narcissa knew the truth. That she was unsure of what she truly wanted. She wasn't one to make her own way in life; she was a follower. She always had been, and she felt as if she always would be.
Panting, she leaned against the wall and slid down, trying to gather her bearings. She did her best to hold back her tears, reflecting on her troubled life and decisions. What say did she have in her life at all? She felt as if she lacked any ounce of free will in her choices.
When one tear escaped the corner of her right eye, she quickly swiped it away. She knew she couldn't leave the vicinity of the bathroom until she had straightened up. No one could see her like this. But she was fine with passing the time in the lavatory. In there no one could see her, no one could ask her questions, and she wouldn't have to watch her sister most likely torture a hopeless muggle.
After a good few minutes had passed and she had gathered her bearings, she stood up and straightened her black dress. She tucked her blonde locks behind her ear and reached for the doorknob. She held her head high as she weaved through the long hallway and towards the sitting room once again. As she got closer, a warm, amber glow was coming from the room. She suddenly felt the temperature of the atmosphere around her rapidly climbing. Beads of sweat formed on her forehead and not due to her anxiety. She had difficulty breathing, could feel the air growing thick, and realized that smoke clouded the air.
A new sense of panic hit her, and she pushed into the sitting room to find it empty except for a man bound by ropes on the floor. The curtains along the wall were alive with burning flames. The glowing flames lapped at the walls and quickly spread like wildfire. They grew and ignited as they spread along the walls, engulfing every inch of the wood, catching on one of the sofas. It caught on the roof, and chunks of the wood fell down to the floor.
The man on the floor was gagged, and his arms and legs were tied. He wiggled about, trying to free himself while attempting to scream.
Narcissa let out a shout of horror, coughing on smoke, and ran to the man's side. She pulled the rag from his mouth and asked as the tears she had tried so hard to fight suddenly fell down her cheeks. "What happened?!" she demanded from him.
He coughed on the smoke, but was finally able to articulate his words. "Wicked people, the lot of them! Tied me up and set fire to the place."
Bellatrix. Suddenly her questions were answered. Bella had been given her task in the small amount of time Narcissa had escaped to the bathroom, and in that time, she, her family, Voldemort, and the Death Eaters had evacuated the place to carry out the task. Narcissa could just picture everyone outside the old manor. Bellatrix was probably throwing fireballs at the manor with a crude laugh. The rest of the Death Eaters were probably laughing along with her. But what of her parents? Did they even realize Narcissa was missing? Had they completely forgotten about her?
A large piece of burning wood fell down from the ceiling just a few feet away from them. Narcissa and the tied up man gave a jump and a scream. What was she to do with him? Did she untie him and free him? What about her? How was she to leave the manor? It had probably had protective enchantments placed upon it to keep the man from escaping.
"W-Wait here," she said quickly. Only then did she realize how poorly she had chosen her words. Of course he couldn't go anywhere; where did she think he was going to go? She quickly recovered, rising from beside him and trying not to gag as her head leveled with the smoke once more. "I'll try to find a way out."
Unable to tolerate the smoke, she sank to her knees and crawled to the nearest door. She banged against some wood that wasn't on fire. She ignored the sweat dripping down her body, soaking her hair, stinging her eyes. She could feel it becoming harder and harder to breathe, and now she just wanted to get away with her life. She banged against the wood, shouting as best she could.
Sucking in a deep breath, she reached out for the doorknob. Her hand immediately retracted as a searing pain hit her palm. A scream followed, and she clutched onto her hand in pain, a red blister already forming from the heat of the fire. She raised her foot and kicked the door. When it didn't bulge, she slammed her shoulder into the door with all the force she could muster. It became evident to her that the door had been sealed with magic.
She ran from the door to a window, hitting at the wood.
"Hello!! Bella! Mother! Somebody, help me!" she screamed, sobs working their way into her voice.
She looked wildly from the window to the room. It was slowly crumbling around them, and they were quickly losing time. She had just turned back to the man wiggling on the floor, trying to loosen his bonds when a large piece of the roof caved in and collapsed on top of him. He screamed as he saw the flames descending upon him but was silenced upon the impact, and Narcissa knew immediately he was dead. She clapped her hands over her mouth, stifling her screams, and she ran for the window again.
She beat harder at the walls, screaming as loud as she could. "Bella! Mother! Help me! Please!"
She turned away, looking about the destroyed sitting room for some way to free herself. Her eyes caught sight of an old brass lamp, and an idea struck her. She dropped to her knees and crawled on the floor, drinking in what little clean air was left. She reached out with her already burnt hand and prepared herself for another blazing impact. Her fingers closed around the hot lamp and pulled it to the floor with her. She could feel the skin on the inside of her palm blistering further with the searing touch of the lampís hot metal. She crawled back to the window, and when she stood up, she pitched the lamp at the window with all her might.
The sound of shattered glass actually sent a wave of relief washing over her. She looked back at where the large chunk of wood had fallen, burning the man's body to ashes, and regrettably prepared herself to leave without him. She faced the window once more, took two giant steps back and then pitched herself through the window. Her body hit the ground outside in a heavy heap, but she could hardly care. There was a crunch beneath her as she landed on the shattered glass from the window. She could feel some of the jagged edges sinking into her side from the impact. She sucked in the deepest gulp of air she had ever tasted, but she didn't take the time to relish it. She clambered to her feet and ran away from the manor at a dead sprint, her dress torn and covered in soot, and her right shoulder bloodied and embedded with glass. When she believed herself to be a safe distance away, she turned back to look at what had held her hostage.
The manor appeared to be three stories, and every inch of it was now alive with flames. The fire was roaring higher and higher in the sky, and the smoke was even heavy in the air outside. It was crumbling, and it wouldn't be long before the manor was nothing but a heap of ash. She tried to listen over the roaring of the flames to see if her family and the Death Eaters were still around. She was clearly at the back of the manor, and when she heard voices, she knew everyone had to be at the front. She was able to decipher a crazed cackle clearly belonging to her sister, and the cruel laughter of the other Death Eaters followed.
There was no desperate scream from her mother. No one was calling her name in fear or worry. No one knew she was missing; no one knew she had almost died along with that poor man. Her tears fell steadily down her cheeks. Had no one really noticed? Did no one care? She wanted to run to the front of the manor, to shout and scream at her family for not giving a damn, but what would that do? She would be sucked back into her regular life where she was overlooked by her better sister, where she would constantly be a disappointment.
Something within her compelled her to turn around, to turn her back on the manor, and without another thought, she was running at a dead sprint into the forest that surrounded the place. She ran until she felt as if daggers were piercing her lungs, until she knew her feet were bleeding. She kicked her shoes off and abandoned them in the forest. The limbs of trees had cut her cheeks, and blood and ash coated her skin. She didn't know where she was running to or what she thought she was doing.
She didn't know how long she had been running for when she finally entered a clearing. She burst through the trees with a new sense of hope and relief. With the clear air, she fell to her knees and just let the cool air wash over her. She wasn't even aware of a voice calling to her. She fell onto her back and was startled when she felt a hand on her shoulder.
"Are you all - Narcissa Black?" the woman asked.
Narcissa opened her eyes and was startled to be staring into the shocking green eyes of a woman she had gone to Hogwarts with. "Lily Evans?"
A note to all, this will be slightly AU with just a few events that take place.
Disclaimer: I do not own the characters or the lovely world of Harry Potter. I also do not own the The Prince and the Pauper in any shape or fashion. This is simply my HP rendition of it.
I hope you enjoyed the first chapter! Feel free to leave a review!
Edited and revised: 2/12/13
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