Natalie, you crack me up! No wait- I meant to say JKR. I was confused there for a moment... :)
I totally liked this story. I especially loved the title. It was well fitting for Narcissa. :)
Though this was one of your earlier works, it is still magnificent! Would you consider being my beta?
First of all, I was pulled into this story when I saw the title “For I Am A Mother” and the name Narcissa Malfoy. I was a definite Malfoy hater prior to the books. I never understood the appeal of Draco and I thought the whole lot of them were rotten and spoiled. After the seventh book, I found them fascinating. Though I don’t think I’ll ever consider myself a Malfoy “fan”, I think that morally ambiguous characters are the best kind. I loved that the Malfoys were given a new dimension, and I love that you wrote a fic showing Narcissa’s side to the story. Narcissa’s decision was completely unexpected but it made total sense. She risked her life to save Harry. But she still did it to serve her own purpose, even if it wasn’t a bad one.
Let’s start at the beginning. The first paragraph was captivating. To put it into Harry Potter terms, it felt like I had been swept up in a portkey and dropped into the Forbidden Forest. I loved the intense emotion of it. I also liked your use of parallel structure (i.e. the repeated “and along with” and “we stand, we kneel, we crouch”). However, though it really puts you in the right mindset for this fic, I did feel a bit confused at first. In one way it’s cool because it reflects the turmoil in Narcissa’s mind. But on the other hand, I did have to read it twice to get the full meaning out of it. I feel like I’m the only one with that problem. Also, having to reread something doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s “wrong” or should be “fixed”—it just has such a big impact that I had to read it again to fully absorb it.
I also like how you built up Narcissa’s characterization in the second paragraph. In a fic about Narcissa in this specific moment, her desire to find her son must be addressed. It was expected but I thought that you kept it fresh by making her seem bitter and resentful. I like the added layer of defiance. And I also thought that you seemed to indirectly characterize Voldemort—you appear to insinuate that Voldemort won’t let her go because looking for her son, aka choosing love, is a weakness.
And you took it one step further by somehow managing to sum up Lucius’s and Narcissa’s relationship in one sentence:
In love, we have been equally culpable; in guilt, nothing has changed.
Brillliant. While Narcissa has seemingly always put her family above the Dark Lord (I surmise this from her meeting with Snape in HBP), she’s never actually taken control and broken free from him. You expressed this so eloquently and in so few words, it leaves me completely stunned.
Though I admit I liked the beginning more than these next few paragraphs about Narcissa weighing the decisions in front of her. However, I did think you made some pretty profound statements—I particularly think that this line is very insightful:
And if the Dark Lord wins? Will we be better off? After all, what is life lived with constant fear? What is life lived with death looking at you with hunger in its eyes? What is life spent serving a master who will never be pleased?
Going through this fic paragraph-by-paragraph has made me realized how thoughtful it is. When I first read it, I read it very quickly. When I started the review, I reread it bit by bit. On the surface it just seems like an interesting story from a different character’s point of view. Below the surface it’s deeply philosophical. What is worth risking your life for? And how should life be lived? Not many fics delve into this kind of thinking, and I applaud you for taking that extra step.
As the fic goes on, the tension builds appropriately. Unfortunately, as this is purely a scene straight out of the book shown from another perspective, it doesn’t give you much room for creativity as an author. It was very well written, but it doesn’t really seem new. Sadly, it can’t be helped with fics like these.
My favorite line of the aforementioned paragraphs is when Narcissa acknowledges that Harry is both brave and foolish. It doesn’t seem like much at first, but this small sentence again perfectly characterizes Narcissa. She believes in self-preservation, but another side of her realizes how noble it is to give one’s life for others.
I understand that the theme of this fic is motherhood, and how it compels mothers to risk everything for their children. However, I think this also shows how Narcissa’s humanity triumphed. I’d like to think that she was inspired by Harry’s own bravery and selflessness in giving his life for others.
All in all, a great little read. I do think it was a little on the short side, but it was enormously satisfying. Great job!
Author's Response: I never got the appeal of the Malfoys … until I started writing them. But even so, I don’t think I’ll fangirl them more than the good guys. Okay, that aside, let me get into the review. ;) You’re absolutely right that I was indirectly characterizing Voldemort as well. In fact, writing Voldemort/Narcissa – not as a ship, but the dynamics of their relationship, was my pet subject when I began writing fanfic. Isn’t Voldemort’s presence in the Manor such a violation of the Malfoys’ personal space? I’d be resentful like Narcissa, too. On top of that, there is the constant threat hanging over their family. Someone like Narcissa would definitely show defiance, though soundlessly. It was really a task writing this fic because there was so much I wanted to explore, and I had so little writing space because of the material I was using. I was nodding my head when I read this line in your review: Unfortunately, as this is purely a scene straight out of the book shown from another perspective, it doesn’t give you much room for creativity as an author. A lot of things had to be crammed into this fic with a mere 1000-something word count. It’s therefore amazing to hear good things about it. Thanks for the gorgeous review, Wife. And I apologize for being a right cow and replying so, so late. <3333
OOOH wow. This is another great fic that dumb here has missed. The atmosphere here is very brooding and intense. There's this tension that holds all the way through despite us knowing the outcome.
In love, we have been equally culpable; in guilt, nothing has changed. that just sums up the Malfoys to me.
Well done (15)
Author's Response: That line sums up the Malfoys for me too. They stick together no matter what. Also, don't feel guilty about missing out on my fics. Merlin knows I haven't been through a quarter of your mammoth author page. D: <33333 Thanks!!!
I can't believe how you managed to create so much of Narcissa's character in this short story! It was a very interesting fic, as with the same dialoge as in DH, you have created a story that is almost entirely different from the original.
I think it was great that you achieved to humanise Narcissa - in canon we see nothing good of her, and yet here it is obvious that she truly cares for Draco more than herself.
I also liked your characterisations of Lucius and Bella - in just a few sentences you really managed to capture them.
I really loved the line How much longer do I have to wait? How much longer till I learn of my son’s fate?, because it just had that bit of rhyme and rhythm which really added to your prose writing. I also loved hearing Narcissa's thoughts throughout, and that you wrote in present tense.
But when I reach him, I am irresistibly reminded of Draco. I thought this line was great too - it shows Narcissa's desperation when she is reminded of her "perfect Pureblood" son when she sees the ultimate blood traitor Harry. I also thought that it created an interesting connection between the two boys, and reminded me of the fact that Harry is motherless...
Anyway, this was yet another fantastic fic from you... I don't know where you get all the ideas from!! Beautifully written and great characterisation!
Author's Response: Hellloooo! :D This was one of my earliest fics. In fact, I'm pretty sure this was the third complete fanfic I'd ever written and published. When I'd first started, I used to write the Malfoys and Blacks more often than the other characters. I don't know why - I don't even like them or call myself fans of them, except Sirius. This isn't important, though. I've always found Narcissa more fascinating than both Bellatrix and Andromeda. This scene in Dh, especially, is where we see her love and strength; to me, it seemed like a great moment to write because I wanted to go into what she was thinking. A friend of mine - ToBeOrNotToBeAGryffindor- calls my style 'poetic junk'. :D It's weird that my poems have very prosaic language and almost never has rhymes, while my prose - not all of it, of course - tends to have rhymes and rhythms and flowery language. For this fic, it was an approach I used deliberately. It is packed full of emotion and fear and excitement, and in Narcissa's case, urgency, too. I wanted it almost to sound like a prayer. Thank you - I wish I knew your name so that I could mention it in my thanks - for all the reviews you have given me these past weeks. They have added a lot of joy to my days. ~Natalie
Love it! very emotional and surely what Narcissa felt.
Author's Response: Thanks! :)
Interesting insights into Narcissa. I like the line "I gather what remaining strength I have so I can lie to the one who cannot be deceived" because it reminds the readers of just how hard it is for her to tell the lie.
Author's Response: Thanks for the review! I think that's my favourite line, too. :)
Totally enjoyable story. I have found how wonderful your stories are; they tell so much in such a small amount of words. The introspection your characters have is so strongly thought through. Thank you for this gift.
Author's Response: Noelle! Your reviews made my week. :D Thank you for this one, too. It is one of my favourite stories...by me. *scratches head*.
I very much enjoyed reading this story; you’ve done a fantastic job interpreting this scene and exactly what Narcissa had to be feeling during the scene in the forest. Characterization was done very well with Narcissa feeling as though she is weak in this struggle, but even more than that, she feels undying protectiveness over her only child. I liked how you brought that out, in the midst of the struggle of whether the Dark Lord will continue to control or if his power will cease. My favorite lines:
What is life lived with death looking at you with hunger in its eyes? What is life spent serving a master who will never be pleased?
I felt these lines were undeniably true, in how things still look bleak even for those who are on the Dark Lord’s side. It is understandable that Voldemort is only going to want more power and one wrong move on anyone’s part would be the end of them.
The way you wrote Narcissa was very believable, as I do believe one of her prime concerns is the safety of her son, to whatever lengths it takes to see to his safety, as shown in HBP. The brief moment with Lucius taking her hand was also good, as it seemed throughout DH that he didn’t know what he was fighting for anymore, but he didn’t know a way out (other than death, of course). I liked the brief mentions of the other characters present, such as Bellatrix and Voldemort as you were still able to get a feel for their characters in those small spots.
I really liked the idea of this story, and you executed it well. The repetition at the beginning was well done as it didn’t seem overly done and it gave a nice pace to the story. I hadn’t really put much thought to Narcissa’s thoughts during Harry’s “death” scene, but this was very believably done.
One small thing; I felt that this story could have been a little longer, perhaps in describing more of how the Dark Lord looks (his anticipation of Harry’s arrival or even after his brief collapse)? It’s just a suggestion, but what you have here is very good.
As I said before, I really liked this story and I think you did a great job with it. Your characters were well written and it was an interesting perception of this scene in DH. Nicely done!
Author's Response: Hey there Mercy!
First off, thank you for your wonderful words. I’m honestly flattered.
This fic started out as a drabble, then it snowballed into something bigger. I find Narcissa an interesting character – more interesting than her deranged older sister with whom I became obsessed when I started writing drabbles. *the mind boggles* Anyway, Narcissa was really pushed to the limits. Here was a war she had never planned to participate in, here was a master who she took for granted – they all believed that he would quickly win the war, make slaves of Mudbloods and Muggleborns, and reward them for their services. Wrong guess!
Then, she finds out that those close to him are at as much risk as those who oppose him, and she starts losing her composure. Add to that the danger in store for her darling son, and Narcissa had had enough. She took her one chance, come hell or high water, and she succeeded.
I just wanted to show all of that. She had to be reflecting upon those thought for quite some time, and this moment appeared to me good enough for her to make a choce for herself.
Thanks for the lovely review!
Very nice reading a one shot from Narcissa point of view of the event. It really helps the readers define her as a actual person rather than a Death Eater...Great job :-)
Author's Response: Thank you! You put what I wanted to prove in a very succint review. :D
The first impression from this story is the repetition in the first paragraph, which conveys to me a since of impatience from the narrator (whom I know to be Narcissa). The first two sentences employ this technique and are brilliant, in my opinion. (The "along with" and "we's".)
Even in a story from Narcissa's POV, your characterization of Bella is stunning. "My sister…who used to play with me, who used to protect me…that Bella lives no more. It is just Bellatrix now." You seem to be able to capture some essence of their relationship that I either haven't seen before or haven't bothered to read yet.
Now, this scene is obviously the same scene from DH, just from another point of view. But when I read the line "Harry Potter is standing in front of me," I got chills. I don't know why, I thought the way that you introduced his entrance was great.
There are some lines which are just…motherly? If that makes sense. Which cross the lines of a pureblood follower, undeveloped character, into a real person. Usually they are Narcissa's thoughts.
"Can we really be free of him?"
"But when I reach him, I am irresistibly reminded of Draco. Where is my son? When does this end?"
I always assumed it was Voldemort's arrogance that led him to believe Narcissa and not actually examine whether or not she was lying:
"I gather what remaining strength I have so that I can lie to the one who cannot be deceived."
But here, is she gathering strength for Occlumency?
I liked it, a lot. But I felt like the ending was lacking somewhat…I was waiting for some line about how her hope about Draco still being alive still, and her joy and potentially being able to save him was keeping her together…does that make sense?
Either way, you are a very talented writer, and this is a great piece.
Author's Response: Hey! I see what you mean about the last part. It was Voldemort's own arrogance that led him to believe Narcissa. The thing is, Narcissa suppose Voldemort considers her a coward because of her weakness- Draco. And this is a correct supposition. However, what Voldemort does not know is that this "coward" can lie to him - he is arrogant, and Narcissa knows this. But she needs to take precautions just the same. When I wrote "to lie the one who cannot be deceived", I wanted to draw attention to all these- that one woman was going to successfully lie to such a powerful Legilimen, because he is too arrogant, or shall I say "ignorant", to think otherwise. But Narcissa needs strength for this act of deception. I daresay she has been acting for over a year by now, although she has not told a lie to Voldemort's face as yet. It is not so much Occlumency (though it does seem to point that way), as a brave and courageous attempt to tell an outright lie for love. Does this make sense? I am happy that you thought I captured Narcissa's impatience, and, indeed, make everything sound "motherly." Thanks for the incredible interview, and your other encouraging words. You really make my day everytime you comment. [hugs] Natalie.
Awesome! You captured her emotions perfectly. I really enjoyed reading this.
Author's Response: Oh wow! Thanks. Glad you liked it. :D