She pretends to love him. Narcissa/Remus
She pretends to love him.
She watches him with gentle affection, her eyes half hidden beneath the thick dusting of her long, golden lashes. There is a smile on her lips. Her skin is very pale, and very soft. So soft that he is often afraid to touch her. She will crumble beneath his hands, like sugar and snow. Only the thrum of her pulse comforts him. He rests his lips against her wrists, her neck. He breathes her in. She is here, she is /his/. This is no illusion.
There is dimple on her cheek; a slightly chapped quality to her lips. These things make her imperfect, but they endear her to him. When he touches her cheek, her smile softens to something warmer than happiness. When he touches her lips, she takes him in, her mouth warm and wet around his fingers. It makes him tremble.
He is conscious of the scars flayed across his skin, heavy reminders of the beast seething inside him. He was once afraid that she would hate him for it, this darkness. She says she does not hate him. When she kisses his scars and presses her fingers against his skin, he is sure that she loves him.
He is gasping, panting beneath her touch. He wants to tell her everything. He has nothing to say. Words fail to explain how much she means to him. He has been lonely for so long, but she is here now.
He is sixteen years old. He should have learnt, by now, to stop hoping.
2. Gone fading everything.
His last night in school is spent with her. His friends will not notice he is gone, or so he hopes. James and Sirius are wrapped up in their friendship and in their youth; in the knowledge that they will live forever. Peter is nowhere to be found. He has other friends now.
She rests her head against his shoulder. Her hair tickles at his neck in an almost teasing manner. The strands are so thin and fine that she cannot always bring them under control. Her eyes are closed. Her lips are parted. He can feel her moist breath against the frayed cloth of his robes. She seems so vulnerable like this.
The words spill out of him, suddenly. There is so much feeling inside him, so much to say /(you are so beautiful and alive and you make me feel human and worthy like I can want and want and have it all)/, so he tells her. He tells her everything, with the only words that seem right.
"I love you," he says.
There is a beat of silence, heavy and oppressive, so thick that he thinks he might choke. Her body tenses against his. This is the first time he has felt the hardness inside her. There is a core of ice within her, and now it is pushing at him, biting away at his flesh and at his hope. Her eyes open. He feels her lashes brush against his shoulder.
And then he realises that she is laughing. Silent mirth shakes her small form. Her head is still on his shoulder - he can feel her lips through his robes, twisting into a hard smile. She has never smiled like this before. He wants to push her away (how can she do this to him?). He pushes her away.
She refuses to let go, though she does lean back. Her eyes meet his. She has dark eyes, cold eyes, eyes like polished stones dipped in ink. He knows why she has never met his eyes like this before: they reveal too much that isn't there. She is lacking something. Why has he never noticed before?
"Oh Remus, you're sweet," she says fondly. Her voice has always been soft. Is still soft. "But you shouldn't have told me."
"Why?" He whispers. He has to force the words out.
Her hands twist idly at the material of his robes. There is nothing rough in her touch, but she holds him fast. Perhaps he does not want to run.
"Because now you're mine," she says, leaning forward.
This time, when she kisses him, she is careful to make it hurt. He bleeds for her.
3. Please take this.
He hates what she does to him. Sometimes she is gone for weeks on end. Sometimes months. He begins to think that he can heal - the wounds she tore inside him are rancid, festering, but time will wash them clean. He will grow old and he will forget and everything he loves about her will fade: her smiles, both hard and soft. The feel of her possessive flesh closing over him. Her lies. This is what he hopes for now.
The hope never lasts. She always returns, with that hard smile beneath the soft one, a laugh on her lips. Oh Remus, you're so sweet.
Tonight, she is waiting for him. She is cool and composed, like some exquisite marble figurine. It has been three weeks, and two days. He feels almost relieved to see her again. At least the waiting is over.
There is a ritual to this. She knows the pattern. She walks over to him. Her arms twine around his neck, her body pressing against his. She is misleadingly soft. He knows he should not underestimate her, but there is still something so vulnerable about her. He wants to protect her.
"Did you miss me?" She asks.
He doesn't have to answer her. He doesn't.
She laughs then. She always does. Her hands slide down his back, leaving painful warmth in their wake. He would like to be cold, just once. He would like her to go away.
"Shall I stay?"
"Yes." His voice is barely a whisper. Barely a sound at all.
He does not know why they must pretend that he has a choice. She kisses him, and he yields. He loves her. He hates her. It doesn't really matter anymore.
4. Ice is starting to form.
James is dead. James is dead. The war years have gone by in chaos, in mess and suffering and in blood. The war years are over and James is dead. James and Lily are dead.
Harry is alive.
He thinks of Harry, who is only a baby. He thinks: there would have been more babies. There will never be another James or Lily. He thinks this, and he hates himself for thinking at all.
Sirius is a traitor. Traitor, traitor, traitor. How could he not have seen it? His friends are dead. Even Peter, who would have lived, if only he had avoided the trap of foolish bravery. His friends are traitors. He never knew them at all.
He is so lonely. He is drunk too, of course. Drunkenness and loneliness go so well together. His head is spinning and he thinks he is going to be sick. He decides to do this again someday. He's feeling so much better already.
He does not expect to see her. It has been only two days since her last visit. There should be weeks of silence ahead of him; weeks of searching for her face in the shadows and listening for the soft, icy lilt of her voice. Weeks of waiting.
But today is a day for the unexpected, and she comes to him anyway. Her body is a sharp, pale blur. His vision is rippling, like water - he cannot seem to catch hold of her image. She looks tired, and much older than she should. Has the end of the war hurt her too? Strange, that they can hurt, together like this. As if they are equals.
"You're here," he says, and begins to weep.
She catches his face between her hands and presses her lacquered nails into the curve of his hollowed flesh. She is close now, so close that he can see the dark of her eyes and the white, white pallor of her skin. There is something in her face that he cannot comprehend.
"Why are you crying for them?" She asks. "Why aren't you crying for me? I've lost so /much/..."
But he doesn't care. He can't care. Names spill from his lips like curses and prayers and he is to broken now to hold them back.
"James, Lily, Peter. They're all..." He takes in a breath to fill the pause. Dead. The word remains unspoken. "And Sirius..."
Her grip tightens, so sudden and painful that the words fade from his lips. Her nails cut grooves into his flesh.
"No," she says fiercely. "/No./"
She pulls back her hands, and takes hold of his own in her cold palms. She presses his hands to her waist, her breasts. Her movements are hurried. She is clumsy and that frightens him. He does not know what to do. She is not playing with him. She is making mistakes, she is letting him see her pain. This is not how it should go. She has broken the pattern. Where do they go from here?
Her skin tastes of salt. Bitter.
5. Maybe I'll disappear.
This time, she does not come back.
He does not care at first. It is too hard to mourn, or love, or remember; too hard to carry any more pain. Apathy sets in, drying his tears to dust. He survives the hours, the minutes (the ticking in his mind, /gone gone gone/). He does not think. There is nothing left inside him to hurt him anymore.
Weeks. Months. The mist in his mind begins to clear, and he feels the new grief settling in with the old. He thinks she will come back. He waits. She always returns. She always finds him. She will make it hurt again.
Years. They stretch before him, empty and strange. He realises that she will not come back.
She is gone, and he can heal. She is gone, and he should be free. But there were no goodbyes, and her taste is a bitter echo in his dreams.
He thinks of the softness of her hair, curled around his fingers. He remembers her face, the last time he saw her: vague and blurred, drawn tight with emotion. He wishes his vision had been clearer.
She is gone.
Night after night he dreams of winter, and walks through the cold calling her name. She chooses not to be found.
6. You meant everything.
The winter is here, the war is over, and Remus is sure that he is dreaming again. It is cold, so cold and there is snow in her hair. She is standing there, snow in her hair and on the slope of her shoulders. She is wearing black. Black for mourning, of course. She has so much to mourn for.
"Remus," she says.
Her eyes meet his. There are new lines etched around her lips and across her brow. He remembers the smoothness of her skin, young once, and feels a pang of sadness. She looks old. Even her shining hair is dulled, though not as grey as his own. Her eyes are still dark. Still cold.
Her husband is mad. Her son is dead. He should have known that no sorrow, no matter how great, could change her nature. She is so different from him.
He moves towards her, footsteps slow and unrefined, as if he is still lost in a dream. But this is no dream. Dreams, he has come to understand, are never quite as imperfect as life. As this.
He stops. There is still some distance between, but she does not try to breach it. There is a tight, forced smile on her lips. She used to take such joy in smiling (because it had hurt him. Oh but this, this hurts far more).
"I never thought I'd see you again," he murmurs. His voice is rough. Choked.
She inclines her head. I know. Her eyes assess him. He feels her gaze, prickling at his skin. She knows his scars so well.
They lapse into silence. Her hand reaches out, sudden and strange. Her caress is affectionate, almost loving as she traces the curve of his cheek. He flinches.
"Oh Remus," she whispers. Tender. Her fingers move across his skin, warm like a frayed memory. "I really did love you once."
Her hand moves away. He is cold again.
He turns away. The wind whistles hollow around him. This is goodbye, after all. He can hear her breath misting the air. He will not look back.
Behind him, her image scatters to the wind. Sugar and snow.