Title: What’s in a Name
Author: Jinni (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Disclaimer: All things HP belong to JK Rowling, et al.
Distribution: The normal places.
Author’s Notes: Quick little NM/SS fic that was floating through my head as I tried in vain to amuse myself during Jury Duty today.
Summary: When I was younger, I didn’t understand.
“What’s in a name?”
I said that when I was younger, before I realized exactly what a name could do or mean in this world. Names hold power, prestige. There are good names and bad names. Even the bad are delineated into their own groups. Bad names with power are still better than those bad names that carry no weight in this world.
Malfoy versus Snape, for instance. Yes, let’s just lay it on the table. The crux of the matter. One a name steeped in shadow, in fear and power, the other a broken name from a family all but extinct in their disgrace.
Seventeen years ago, I spoke those words when Severus told me he and I could be ‘no more’, that he would no longer allow me to risk my betrothal. At least, not with him. He wouldn’t be the one to cost me that precious ‘Malfoy name’. I ‘deserved’ everything that Lucius could give me, the places he could take me, the things he could buy me. These were his reasons for releasing me from the love we shared.
Seventeen long years, and I can still hear his response to my naïve question like it was only a moment ago.
Even now the words slice all the way down to my soul, burning their way into my heart, swift and painful as they jab into that throbbing muscle.
That was my response. For all that the Malfoy name held power and wealth, it could not hold my heart. So I spoke those words, with the conviction of a young witch that love was enough. That it would make it all better. Everything. I’ve come to hate that word since that night. There is no ‘everything’ in life. There’s this and that. But never the sum total of all that exists. To him, however, a name was just that. And love was a weakness, a luxury that I didn’t need or deserve, despite how I wanted it.
But it didn’t matter. Not to him. He wanted me to have the Malfoy name, to have the so-called opportunity that came along with it. He ended it right there. And I took his words to heart. If a name meant everything in this life, then I would become what my name most symbolized. Coldness. Cruelty. Beauty without a heart. An unbreakable ice queen in her ice castle.
And I did it well. So well that I lost myself in it. Wrapped in a shield of desperate coldness, I embraced it for the world to see.
No longer Narcissa Black, future star of the wizarding world; just one hundred percent Narcissa Malfoy, untouchable wife of Lucius Malfoy. And, after that, mother to the Malfoy heir.
When did the ice begin to melt, my castle begin to fall? At what point did I feel that cool façade slip even the slightest, the dark games of my life no longer enough?
The Dark Lord, that is.
He crawled up out of whatever hole it was that the Potter brat had put him in, and gathered together again his most faithful. Including my Lucius and some of our closest friends. His return meant revels. And revels meant –
They meant that Severus was visiting again. Often. He was one of Lucius’ most trusted associated, after all, in all things Dark. His best friend, if wizards of Lucius’ caliber even have such a thing.
And, as usual, my downfall was his fault.
Not that he did a single bloody thing to encourage it. No, he was perfect in his politeness, never giving a centimeter one way or the other. Not too cool, nor too warm. He would not even approach me unless Lucius was there, as if he did not trust me to keep my hands to myself, to not say something that would shatter his little world, so carefully built up to not include me or those feelings that we once shared.
Or, perhaps he did not trust himself. In retrospect there is no evidence to make a conclusion either way. Just being around him was enough, though, to start the thaw. A little warming, just from being in his presence.
The ice walls crumbled into sopping wet puddles the night Lucius died. Entombed in Azkaban for five long months, I suppose the stress finally became too much for his poor, cold heart. Ironic, isn’t it, that my cousin Siri could last all those years, as weak and useless as my husband claimed he was, yet Lucius himself couldn’t even last but a small fraction of that time?
That was only a week ago. One short week, and already I’ve begun to look to my future, and that of my son. I’ve opened the curtains and let light into the ‘ice castle’ that is our manor, welcoming us back into the world. No more blood will be spilled within these walls. No more death will come to pass in those lower levels that I was never supposed to know about. There will be no more Dark Revels to tire my sensibilities. It’s time for something new.
And I think I know where to begin – by rectifying a mistake that was made years ago.
So I’ve invited Him over tonight and, wonder up wonder, he’s accepted. Merlin only knows what will happen next. I still hold that same love for him that I had all those years ago, when I was all but chained to a name I didn’t want. What does this new chapter of my life contain? Only one thing is for sure as I being this new venture – my feelings.
Severus’ way didn’t work. It didn’t provide me one bloody thing he couldn’t have given me himself. I’ve gotten the name now, though, may it rot along with Lucius’ cold, dead body.
Now I want a shot at love.