For forty years Narcissa Malfoy never really has a reason to contemplate the direction her life will take. From the very beginning she knows what her future will be.
Her first memory is of toddling after her mother as she sweeps from room to room, inspecting the progress of the preparations for the Black’s latest party. She trips in the doorway to the ballroom and cries and cries and cries, waiting for her mother’s attention. Druella spins around after a few minutes of this and fixes her eyes on her youngest daughter.
“I will not help you up Narcissa. If you are old enough to fall down, then you are old enough to pick yourself up. Blacks do not expect help from others; we do what we must on our own.”
Narcissa takes these words to heart. When she sits on the stool in the Great Hall as the Hat is placed on her head, she makes sure to think about her cunning and ambition and familial tradition to make sure she is placed in Slytherin. She remembers the cold shoulder Andromeda received when she was sorted into Ravenclaw. She’s not about to let herself be placed anywhere she doesn’t want to be.
She gets good, but not stellar grades. Black women are not expected to be brilliant, though they should not be stupid either. Narcissa feels no need to take part in the study groups that her fellow Slytherins form; she is smart enough to get by on her own without too much strain. Besides, it is much more important to her that she secure a future with an acceptable pureblood classmate. Because more than anything, Narcissa wants a family.
She considers herself lucky when she begins dating Lucius. He’s a year older than her and with his lineage he could have his pick of the Slytherin girls, but he chooses her and she is grateful. He is kind if occasionally distant and is willing to discuss politics and current affairs when she expresses an interest. By the third date Narcissa has the wedding invitations planned.
Lucius proposes the summer before her seventh year. They’re young, but they’ve been dating for three years and it’s what everyone expects. She begins planning in between NEWT classes, browsing wedding magazines and sending letters to photographers and florists.
She remembers clearly the day that Andromeda is removed from the family tree. It is three months before her wedding and her mother finds a note on the dining room table explaining that Andromeda has eloped. It does not say with whom, but it’s not long before they hear from Aunt Walburga that she was seen meeting with a Ravenclaw Mudblood, Ted something or other. Narcissa clutches her sister’s bridesmaid gown as her mother rages below. Andromeda was to be her maid of honor; now Bella steps into her place. It’s not the wedding Narcissa dreamed of, but she’s thankful it has occurred at all.
The day they put Draco in her arms is the day she knows that she is not truly and purely a Black. As she looks down on his red, scrunched up face (goodness, he’s an ugly baby) she knows instantly that he will always come before duty, before honor, before her role as a Black and a Malfoy. Draco is her reason to be; he is the only thing she has truly and unconditionally loved.
And so, it makes sense that the day she throws away everything she has lived by for her life is the day Draco most needs her to forget those things. When Lucius tells her of the Dark Lord’s plans for her son, she knows she will disobey the man she has followed for so many years without a second thought. She will risk her own life to ensure the safety of her son.
As she hurries down the street towards Snape’s house, Bella in hot and angry pursuit, Narcissa can finally understand how she and her sisters have led such different lives than their parents intended. It’s love, she knows now. Bellatrix’s love of the Dark Lord superseded her duty as a Black to be faithful to her husband and bear him children. Andromeda’s love of a Mudblood led her to run away from all that she was taught as a child. And now she, the youngest and most dutiful of the three, will risk her life to protect the thing she loves most in the world.
She is a Black. And she will do what she must on her own, even if it kills her.
Apologies for the gaps in posting. My experiments have started up again, which means much less time for writing. However, it means there’s plenty of space for submissions!