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Chapter 1 : august 16, 1972
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AUGUST 16, 1972
She suffocated between dusty tapestries and gilded staircases. It was stifling and choking and left her gasping for survival through Mother’s constant criticism and Bella’s lectures. She needed air; she couldn’t breathe. She could never breathe freely in here, constricted by dresses that were too tight, smothered with critical glances, picked apart and chewed up with so many daggered eyes, so many tight-lipped mouths.
And yet she still complied with her mother’s demands. She associated only with those whose blood was blue, pure. She played the piano with delicate, spindly-spider fingers and read books such as Nature’s Nobility: A Wizarding Geneology and The Young Lady’s Guide to Proper Etiquette. (Although, it could be admitted that Narcissa Black sneaked in a few extra sugars with her tea and listened to a few Weird Sisters songs from time to time.)
Narcissa sighed. She was gazing out of the window into the front yard of the house. The sun was shinning beautifully outside, and the sky was cerulean, dotted only with a few puffy white clouds. Today, it was like the windowpane was all she knew, all she ever would know. Trapped, like a delicate bird in a gilded cage, a beautiful ice princess in this never-melting, never-ending coldness.
She sighed again, another exhale, another echo of discontent. She willed her eyes to look away from the window and her feet to walk downstairs. Her mother was rearranging the flowers on the table, muttering something about “that wretched elf”.
“Mother,” called Narcissa. “It’s lovely outside, and I’ve been in here all day. Could I please go outside? I’ve practiced piano today, too.”
“Very well. You may go outside. But don’t stay too long, and for Merlin’s sake, don’t get your dress dirty,” Druella said, but Narcissa was already gone with the gentle thump of the front door behind her.
Finally. Narcissa breathed in the fresh summer air and the sweet scent of nearby flowers that bloomed around her. She smiled and breathed in deeply again. She sat down at the small bench, opened her book, and began reading. She did not know how long she sat there, immersed in her own world far away, but suddenly she began to feel a prickling at the back of her throat, the unmistakable sensation someone was watching her. Yet it was not quite unpleasant. Unnerving, yes, that was the word.
She looked up.
Her blue eyes met his gray ones, and time seemed to suspend itself in that moment.
She could feel the the fire climbing her throat, the flames licking her cheeks. She looked away when she could take the heat no more, when the ice in her eyes and veins melted and all she was was water: shapeless, formless, thoughtless.
“Naricissa,” he said at last, with a nod.
“Lucius.” It came out as a hoarse mutter. “What are you – I didn’t expect – what I mean is –” She cleared her throat, abashed.
“Is this the way you usually greet someone, Narcissa? One would think you were almost unhappy to see me.” A playful smirk bent the corners of his mouth.
She gathered her scattered wits and the ability to communicate them. “No, no, not at all. I was just surprised, that’s all.”
She had been caught off-guard. This was not how the courtship was supposed to happen. It was supposed to develop over aloof glances in hallways and coy smiles at dinner times. It was supposed to happen through an air of enigma, of mystery, of intrigue. Instead, she was making an awkward, stuttering fool of herself in front of him. If Mother could see her now, she’d faint dead away on the carefully trimmed grass. Narcissa inwardly cringed and tried to sweep all thoughts of her mother to the back of her mind.
“If you’re still curious,” he said, interrupting her train of thought. “I came here to talk with your father.”
She almost ventured to ask why, but her mother’s voice sprouted again. It’s quite rude to ask so many questions, Narcissa. A proper young lady with good manners would never do it!
“I came out here to enjoy the sunshine and read,” said Narcissa. “My mother’s been keeping me stuck inside the whole day; it’s been horrible.”
“I can imagine it must be,” he replied. He reached out and took the book from her grasp, his cool fingers brushing against her wrist. Her breath caught, and her heart started palpitating in a strange, crazy rhythm, like that one time her metronome had gone wild.
“Not the type of book your mother would approve of, I assume, but then again, what she doesn’t know won’t hurt her,” he smirked, and returned the book to her, but this time, there was no accidental brush of fingers or electric jolts.
“It’s been lovely talking to you, Narcissa, though unfortunately, it is getting late. I’ll see you around.” His words faded with the last breath of afternoon breeze, and with a crack!, he Apparated into the amber sky.
A/N: Welcome to my new story, everyone! I've been meaning to write this for a long time, but I was never quite sure how to start, until I finally sat down and wrote this. It's a short story collection of little moments in Narcissa's life, not necessarily in chronological order. The story title and summary come from the song Piano Fire by Sparklehorse, and Harry Potter belongs to J.K. Rowling, neither of which belong to me. Thank you for reading, and I'd love to hear any thoughts/opinions you have on the story so far! :D
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