I'm using the House Cup as an excuse to FINALLY come and review this fic. I'm sorry I didn't get around to it earlier.
Wow. This is beautiful, Renee. I love how much you tackle in this one-shot. It's clear that Narcissa is battling her own demons from the war--fear that something will happen to someone in her family, trauma over the fact that they harbored Voldemort in their own home (avoiding the dining room was such a chilling details), worry over her son succeeding in spite of the stain on their name, guilt over her damaged relationship with her sister. Your exploration of Narcissa as a character is so complex and fleshed out that I cannot help but feel attached to her already. This is really well done.
Oh, and her interaction with Molly Weasley? I have so many feelings about it. First, I totally understand Molly's reaction, and her words to Narcissa are probably true. But also, I feel for Narcissa. She's trying to make things right. And I know to the world, it may seem like "too little, too late." It is a shame that it took a war and the deaths of so many innocent people for her to realize that she had chosen the wrong side. But at the same time, she was raised in this world. This is all she's known. And at least she is willing to change, even if it has taken all this time. Which is why it was so nice to end with her potentially making things right with her sister. It may take time and patience and effort, but I hope they can repair what has been broken and that Narcissa can be there for Andromeda, because Andromeda needs family now. She has lost so much.
Your depictions here are so nuanced and rich. I found myself genuinely moved by Narcissa's reflections. The scene when she puts her ear to Draco's door and then opens it to watch him breathe--SOOOOO relatable. I mean, I've never been through a war or anything, but I think every parent has stood and watched their child sleep, hoping that they will be happy and healthy and successful.
This was just beautiful and I'm so glad I finally got around to reading it.
Hi, I’m here for the CMDC, round #2.
You are such an awesome job with characterization! I love the comparisons between the girls’ parents-the flat, hard tone of the father (which you’re right can be even more chilling) and the wailing of her mother and then comparing them to the silence of Andromeda. It makes an interesting triangle, each leg handling the “crisis” a different way. You also did a great job digging into Andromeda even more with the various examples of her kindness. It makes one wonder how she ever ended up in this family. Of course, we can’t forget Bella-pugnacious. I word I’ve never considered but it’s perfect to describe her.
You’ve done a nice job describing the Malfoy. We’ve always known that family was important to them, but you’ve made them more human and a bit softer than their would like to appear. However, at the same time, it’s obvious that they (or at least Lucius) isn’t going to let go of his beliefs overnight (I have never heard the world liberal applied in the magical world, but I’m sure Lucius would classify it at the same level at half-blood, maybe just slightly above mudblood.)
I love the way Narcissa just blurted out her wish and then tried to retract it almost as if she isn’t sure herself at that moment, what she wants. When Lucius first started talking, I was sure he was telling her no, being the non-admitting Death Eater that he is. It didn’t occur to me that he would mistake her declaration for Bella, but of course he would. Then he is so adamantly about not visiting Bella and then almost nonchalant about Andromeda. It’s reaction to go to his traitor sister surprised me more than anything else, but I can see where he would be resigned to such things. (Perhaps he will find a way to make it to his advantage.)
I was a bit surprised that Narcissa didn’t recognize Molly to begin with since the woman did kill Bellatrix. The trail scene demonstrated not only how her family will be attacked from the outside like Molly did, but also cracking from the inside in that Draco wouldn’t attend his father’s trial. I also found it interesting that we never heard the results of that trial. Was that intentional or just not the focus on the story?
Nice transition using ghosts to go from Molly back to Andromeda. Thank you for much for not making their reunion picture perfect. This was so much realistic, but Narcissa’s speech was still tender and their interactions gave us hope.
Renee! :) it's been far too long since I've been back to your page, honestly!
I'm just going to admit it straight up: the end of this made me almost emotional? Like, genuinely - I felt almost a bit teary; it hit me unexpectedly hard? But then, in a way, I should have been expecting it, really, since I know just how good you are at writing sibling relationships - especially sisters and especially difficult and damaged sister relationships - after Beyond Repair. But even so, yea, it was so powerful - the simple fact of Andromeda asking if Narcissa still took her tea the same and opening the door to let her in, rather than leaving her stand outside on the doorstep; there was something so sweet about it and kinda hopeful, too, like this is very much a first step, but it feels like there's the possibility of them getting some kind of relationship back, yk?
Also, I loved that Andromeda didn't move out of the doorway but instead opened it wider. I dunno, for some reason, that just struck me as sort of significant: like, Andromeda's not moving from her position, but maybe she's letting Narcissa join her in hers - which in a way, they kinda are, since Andromeda's 'side' 'won' and Narcissa's lost, and Narcissa's the one who turned up to see Andromeda.
I lovedlovedloved the little interaction with Molly, as well! I really wasn't expecting her to turn up (or Oliver! :D Don't think I didn't notice that brief Percy/Oliver reference because I did ;)) in this, but I loved how it kinda showed that so many of the traumas people face after a war are the same, whichever side you were on or whichever role you played. There was something kinda sad, too, about how Molly was so okay with being comforted by a woman she didn't know because they could understand each other, up until she realised it was Narcissa. Ironically, I think they're characters who would probably agree on a number of things - especially that their kids were all too young to really have been involved.
As always, your writing was so so lovely in this. I think my favourite line was 'tumultuous, bruise-coloured clouds': it's just so descriptive and so pretty and so emotional, as well - like, it so perfectly sums up Narcissa's feelings in that moment, with all her nerves and fear and hope and her own ghosts and wounds from the war that she's carrying, even if they're unseen ones. Seriously, you have a real knack of writing something which is powerful and striking and so incredibly realistic - like, I feel like if you told me this story in person, I'd think it was true, not that it was a fic, yk? And you have a way of making things feel so domestic - like Narcissa's family, and her former family in Andromeda and Teddy. Ugh, it's such a powerful thing to write and it's made me think so much and I love it :)
Amazing, as always,
Hi Renee! I’m here for the CMDC review event round 1!
I’ve been wanting to read Beyond Repair, and then I came to your page and saw you have this other story also about sisters with a broken relationship and knew I had to read it!
Narcissa is a fascinating character, and highly sympathetic even while she does have her faults. I think you’ve done a good job humanizing her here, and really painting a picture of what her post-war home life is like, with everyone struggling with their demons, night sleeping, having night terrors. It is clear here that she is almost entirely consumed by her grief and worry for Draco -- but I say almost entirely, because she also has these thoughts for her sister. Perhaps the terror and losses of war were what she needed to want to reconcile this relationship. But I also like how you bring in that she saw Tonks at the Battle, and saw Andromeda in Tonks’s face, because that would also do it in terms of kick starting this fervent desire to reconnect with her sister.
The part where Lucius mistakes Narcissa’s intentions as wanting to visit Bellatrix’s grave was pretty brilliant, I wasn’t expecting it at all, and when I read his response to her I found myself just as confused as Narcissa did! So that was nicely done. And it makes sense, actually, that Lucius’s assumption would be that Narcissa wanted to visit Bellatrix.
Even more clever is this idea that Narcissa was banking on the idea that Lucius would tell her not to visit Andromeda -- and she would have used that as her excuse not to! But with Lucius’s approval or agreement, she finds herself in quite a pickle. This felt incredibly realistic and human.
You know, I really liked what you did with Narcissa and Molly here, because what I think you did effectively in that scene is you make the reader feel for both of them and see both their sides. Like it’s obvious, to me at least, that Narcissa is being sincere here, empathizing with Molly’s grief, and mother to mother she wants to express support, and that’s commendable. But then Molly sees who it is, and Molly of course has no tolerance for speaking with the wife of a Death Eater, and so I’m glad, for Molly at least, that Molly rejects Narcissa’s support. It’s sad for Narcissa, of course, but necessary for Molly, and I don’t think I could see Molly welcoming commiseration from this woman. So you did a nice job of basically making both of their actions and responses completely reasonable, even though they are at odds with one another.
I remain hopeful for her relationship with Andromeda moving forward, though I’m sure it’s not going to be easy especially if she remains with Lucius!
Great job on this!
As I work toward finishing my tabulation of results for this round, I have arrived here to behold your work - and it was something to behold indeed.
I liked that you wrote from Narcissa's POV which, though I'm badly out of touch with 'what's hot' at the moment, I feel is a pretty rare perspective. Beyond its rarity however, you wrote it well. I could see the character you created for her and I could see the realism in it - a witch caught between worlds, between families who never made (or at least feared she never made) the right choices. Early on she doesn't take ownership and acts as if she had no will of her own and that the life she was left with was something forced on her (for the most part).
Fortunately, at least in the moment, nightmares both living and sleeping have a way of bringing critical issues, beliefs, decisions to light and Narcissa manages to locate the strength to face Andromeda - the sister she abandoned despite everything Andromeda had done for her before her exile from the family. Andromeda for her part shows grace in return for Narcissa's (hopefully genuine) newfound sincerity. Since I forgot to mention it before, I really appreciated the checking on Draco scene. Even when it's way less rational - completely irrational to be honest - there's always that tug when you check on them. They are real right? It's all real. Thank God they're (still) alive.
Thanks for sharing, Renee!
Kaitlin asked in her wishlist gifts for the staff, and since I adore you and you don't have your own wishlist up (unless I missed it) and since I don't stop by here often enough... well... here I am ;)
HAPPY HOLIDAYS, DARLING!
I thought I'd read on Beyond Repair, but I saw this at the top of your page and how could I resist a Narcissa and Andromeda "reconciliation" piece? I was so excited already when you mentioned it on Twitter, and of course your writing was delightful as always! Have I ever told you that you have the most beautiful descriptions? Because it's true! Your writing is just delightful and this story is no exception! <3
The dream at the beginning... how scary must it have been for young Narcissa eavesdropping on that moment... hearing her sister's screams as her father Crucioed her... it was horrible and heartbreaking but also such great writing! And I just want to hug both girls...
I also really, really loved all of Narcissa's memories of her sister, all the times she'd stepped in to protect her when they were young... it's so sad that their beautiful relationship got lost the way it did... so cruel... They're going to kill her, Narcissa thought. And then, but they wouldn't. Would they? Bella would. For some reason these two lines were particularly haunting... it must have been hard to be a Black... :/
The following paragraph was just so painful as well... the image of Nymphadora dead - the niece she never knew - and her anxiety about Draco... the way both Draco and Lucius are so broken... everyone's so broken... it's all so hard, but you captured all of it brilliantly!
Lucius' reaction when she confessed she wanted to visit her sister amused me, to be honest. :P The fact that his first thought was Bellatrix and he was like, "Are you crazy, what will people think?" was just so Lucius Malfoy... appearences, always appearence... :P but then he was so chill about Andromeda, and I guess it shows that he's changing a bit too... maybe? Of course, after everything they've suffered, he probably wouldn't be so proud of blood purity anymore...
The paragraph about the trails was interesting. I kind of wonder how Lucius' one went. And Draco's... I suppose he'd have one too? I guess they were all pardoned, but I still wonder... I loved the interaction between Narcissa and Molly, how unjudging Narcissa was there... all she can see is a mother in pain, just like she is, and I love that moment of connection. Even if Molly refused it all once she recognized her. It's cruel but it's true, the Malfoys caused their own misery.
And finally the actual encounter with Andromeda. It isn't the reconciliation I was hoping for (admittedly, it would've felt out of place if she'd just straight forgiven her after everything) but it's something. Do you still take your tea black? I love how this little line shows how close they used to be, how well they know each other... things aren't good, but there is a connection and eventually they might be... :)
Side note 1: Teddy is adorable! <3 <3 <3
Side note 2: I loved to see Oliver nervously waiting on Percy's trial... and I wonder what exactly their relationship is... :P
Beautiful! Just like everything I've ever read by you! Happy holidays again and big snowball hug!
I know you expressed doubt about starting with a dream, but I think it totally works here. Especially because it is a memory as well as a dream and works really well to lend context to the story. I could really feel both Narcissa and Andromeda/s emotions in that section, and the sentimentality of all the times Andromeda was there for Narcissa was really strong, and the little hints of Bellatrix just right to remind us what a complicated effed up family this is.
The parts about Narcissa never having wanted to know Nymphadora, but then having all of these complex feelings about her death were powerful. I like that all that was happening at the same time she was having her little revolt of loyalty over her family.
Okay I’m feeling the weight of all this a lot now. But your description continues to be very good.
Oooh I really like that exchange of Lucius misunderstanding which sister Narcissa meant and then accepting it. Ugh and then the complexity of Narcissa’s reaction to his reaction. Good shit.
I shall try to find comfort through the angst in your headcanon that oliver/percy/aud is viable in this universe
Dammit, I was just liking this nice moment between Narcissa and Molly and how Narcissa’s compassion comes first, but then Molly goes and ruins it. I know I can’t blame her, but come on
The only part of this that I might say felt rushed to me was the final scene, though that may be a result of the stylistic choice of it was mostly dialogue and moved at a different pace and didn’t have as much as the perfect description as the rest of the story.
But also that final scene was such a roller coaster for me! I read most of the story assuming that there would be no reconciliation. And then as that scene opened and Andromeda didn’t immediately shut Narcissa out, I saw hope. But then Andromeda hardened and I couldn’t blame her. But then, thank goodness, tea saves the day! In a bittersweet way, and I suppose tea is a perfect beverage for bittersweet.
I think you did a really good job characterizing Narcissa. She was a good mix of complicated, culpable, and sympathetic through her compassion and desire for change.
Some favorite lines:
“Half mud, perhaps… but also half Andromeda. Half her sister”
“Better screams, Narcissa reminded herself, than silence. Better a ghost than a grave.”
“His supposed “brotherhood” was of a type that brokered no arguments, that strangled all defiance”
“Was he a ghost now, like her Draco? What about his brothers? How many ghosts haunted the Weasley family? How many graves?”
“It was not acceptance - the distance between them could never be unmade”