When Lucius proposed the first time, he had told her of his fortune and how lucky she was to be chosen. Narcissa hadn’t been impressed at all, though she had been rather smug at the utter shock that had been on his Lucius’ face when she curtly declined his offer. The second time, he told her about the intelligence of such an alignment, making it sound as if he were discussing a merger instead of marriage. The bewilderment that he’d shown when she politely refused and asked him to pass the butter had been rather adorable, not that she’d shown any sign of finding him at all interesting or intriguing.
The third, fourth, and fifth times were increasingly worse, though the setting and dates he arranged definitely improved. Every time, she said no as if it was the most natural thing in the world for Lucius Malfoy to be rejected. The sixth time was dreadful, with awful music and so many flowers that she’d sneezed in the middle of it and said no before he’d even managed to ask. The seventh and eighth times were forgettable, at best, though he proved himself persistent or perhaps just a man who couldn’t resist a challenge.
Regardless of his motivations, the fact that he continued to ask endeared him to her, even if he had very little to offer. His family had wealth, but the Blacks were far more prestigious and established, having vaults that could easily buy and sell the Malfoys several times over. Bellatrix had made the ‘proper’ marriage choice while Andromeda had made a ‘bad’ choice, so Narcissa wasn’t pressured to choose anyone because her sisters had already satisfied her parents by giving them a marriage to praise and one to curse.
Lucius asked every week for nearly three months, all the while taking her out to dinner and private picnics and attempting to seduce her without ever realizing that she was seducing him. By the eleventh time, he didn’t tell her about the advantages of their alliance nor did he talk about how grateful she should feel. Instead, he told her about the family he wanted, a son and perhaps a daughter, and about his wish to find an equal for marriage, something he admitted he hadn’t even realized he wanted until he met her. He promised that he’d give her everything she ever wanted, that they’d never want for anything, and that they’d be happy together, unlike many of their acquaintances who married for the very reasons he initially proposed.
It wasn’t until he mumbled that he loved her, the words practically torn from him as if saying such things made him weak and lesser of a man, that she stunned him into silence by saying yes. She had wealth and prestige, she had power and control, but the one thing she wanted from any union that would literally be until the end of her life was love, the emotion lacking in her parents marriage and in Bellatrix’s, though she often thought it must be all that Andromeda had at the end of a long day, which wasn’t suitable at all.
She should have known better. Lucius made promises that he very well couldn’t keep, and she foolishly believed that nothing could ever destroy their happy lives. They had a beautiful son after trying for years, and two pregnancies that she was unable to carry to term, and he was perfect in every way. He had inherited all of their best qualities, yet she realized years later that he’d also inherited their worst. She was never foolish enough to believe that love, such a vague emotion that few seemed capable of feeling, would make the world wonderful, but she could admit now that she too na´ve and hadn’t anticipated how the future would unfold.
The first war was terrible. Lucius joined Voldemort at his father’s urging, and she supported his choice. After all, she hated the idea of their world being taken over by Muggleborns who didn’t deserve to carry a wand, and she detested the fact that the strength of their blood was being weakened by marriages to inferior creatures. There had been three pregnancies during that time to keep her occupied, and Lucius sheltered her from much of his activities, though she was certainly smart enough to know what was happening and what he did all in the name of his Dark Lord.
When it was over, they managed to survive without losing very much at all. Now, there’s another war, and there’s so much more to lose. Draco, their only child, is caught up in a tangled web of his father’s making, and she can do very little to help him because they’re being watched even more closely than before. Dumbledore’s death did nothing to alleviate the stress and pressure. If anything, it’s made it worse.
The Manor is no longer theirs. It’s his, and he cares about nothing except power and control. She sits at the meetings now, listening and watching as people cower in his presence and stop thinking for themselves. Lucius is out of prison, which is the only benefit to the entire mess, but he’s not himself. He shivers at night and cries out in his sleep, tossing and turning until he finally finds a few moments of peace in her arms.
The man she married no longer outwardly exists, but he’s still there, buried within this shell he’s become. It’s that knowledge which gives her strength even when things become unbearable. She wants to see him smile again, to hear him laugh huskily as they make love, to feel him touch her and love her without fear and anxiety. One day, she knows he’ll be himself again. He has to be because she’ll not settle for anything less.
There’s still a chance of saving Draco, of saving Lucius, and she likes focusing on that hope, even if it‘s still appalling to find herself in this life she doesn‘t even understand anymore. Lucius’ broken promises mean little compared to the years of happiness and their beautiful son, yet she can’t stop thinking about that night when she lay in his arms and he whispered all those lovely words. As she watches Voldemort humiliate Lucius and ridicule Bellatrix, she wonders why any of them ever swore their allegiance to such a man, regardless of his promises of a Pureblood society and a future without Muggleborns.
In all honesty, Narcissa doesn’t care who wins this silly war, as preserving the strength of their world doesn’t matter nearly as much as keeping her family alive, though she has begun to consider the future should Voldemort win, and she‘s not at all sure she likes the possibilities. If does win, though, she has to hope that the intense scrutiny and paranoia will cease, and they‘ll be allowed to be a family again. If he loses, she knows that there will be a price to pay for all of them, but she’ll think of a way to keep Draco safe. She promised to protect him when he was born, after all. And, unlike the ones that Lucius made so many years ago, she will keep her promise, even if it‘s the last thing she does.