This was something wonderful and beautiful. And so original, too. Right from the beginning, you captured Narcissa so well. I loved the routine of brushing her hair, the idea of her finding a grey hair. It showed to the reader what she shows to the rest of the world, and then you delved more inside her.
I loved that the flashback was in present tense - it gave that whole scen an immediacy and urgency which really fitted. Your Rodolphus was a breath of fresh air - so often he seems to be immasculated by Bella, just a toy she plays with, so to show this side of him was fascinating.
I just have a few little nitpicks - you wrote whatever that was supposed entailed. It either has to be "whatever that was supposed to entail" or "whatever that supposedly entailed".
Also, personally I think the ending would have been more effective if you'd swapped the "I don't love you." with the last paragraph. I think "I don't love you" would have been a great ending for the story, and to me it has more punch than what you have.
Anyway, they're just small things. I really loved your attention to detail in terms of appearances and Narcissa's actions as well as your characterisations.
You have a good hold of your words. Your sentences are like silk threads weaving. I mean, you describe very eloquently and purposefully. The imagination wasn’t lost, and because of it, the words were almost tangible. Do you get what I mean? Sentences like these:
She wasn't wholly bad, of course, not an empty shell, an aesthetically-pleasing figure devoid entirely of presence.
The sheer, blazing warmth of his skin almost seems to crackle with magnitude.
And know that when his piercing gaze focuses with gut-wrenching consideration on the limbs his fingers and tongue have previously teased, it's pure and utter manipulation.
I like your Narcissa very much. I thought Rodolphus’ discernment of her is justified and accurate. I can really understand how she grew up to be confident in only one aspect of her life – her beauty in appearance. Although I would have enjoyed reading how exactly she came to be like that, say a scene with her sisters or her mother perhaps, I still liked reading your story. Narcissa’s self-prohibited rule of showing her personality was so sad. Her confidence in her own soul, mind, and heart wasn’t strong enough as she had for her outward appearance. It seemed like she thought she was pure in pretty much everything but her own self. And, good Merlin, the sentence “you just can't cope with the idea of anyone loving you, and at that, loving you for you. Not as a Black. Not as a beautiful pure-blood. But as Narcissa - the person you are. You can't handle the idea that someone is going deeper than your appearance.” was a perfect aim to her person. I think that was the most beautiful part in the story. My second favourite would be this: “But you - your personality, your soul is so ignored, so worthless in these circles, that no-one's ever really paid any due attention to it - they've never had to.” That was really brilliant. That line, ‘your soul is so ignored.’ Another perfect line to describe her perspective.
Rodolphus was an enigma as well. I can truly imagine him playing it up, thinking it was just a game. But somewhere, the fun stops, and it’s not long before someone gets hurt. He was a gentleman. . . sort of. I liked his character, although I would have liked it more if there was more mention to him than that sole scene.
Over all, a story with wonderful characters, but a rather thin plot. Not that I don’t like the concept of the pairing, but I thought it was too short, and better explanations could have been made. I would just like to ask though, what Narcissa felt after the whole flashback. I didn’t really get the signal she was sending with that sigh. Was she heartbroken by it, or sad because Rodolphus wasn’t very good at persuading her to love herself and him with it?
I hope you don’t think I was too harsh. I did enjoy reading it. :)
Oohh!! I remember this! I thought it was really good!