Lucius and Narcissa
She noticed him because he was brushing his hair.
Wandering into the Slytherin common room on the first evening of her third term at Hogwarts, Narcissa discovered the place a bustle of activity: old students catching up with friends, new students fumbling to drag their suitcases into their rooms, gossip and greetings filling the air. And in the middle of it, perched cross-legged and alone the most sumptuous couch in the room, the blonde boy ran a silver comb through his long hair and ignored the calamity about him.
At first, because of the length of his hair, Narcissa mistook him for a girl and then she remembered him from the ceremony of the Sorting earlier in the day. His hair had been tied behind his back, then, in a simple plait; he'd stepped forward to the stool as soon as his name was called, and the hat was barely on his head before it screamed Slytherin!, to the cheers of the Slytherin table.
Malfoy, Lucius. Something about the way he sat was regal; he looked like a little elf prince staring down balefully at his minions as they scattered willy nilly around him. Narcissa paused in the doorway, realising she was holding her breath. She shook her head and was about to gamely enter the room, when one of her classmates, Serverus Snape, bumped into her from behind.
"Sorry are you okay?"
Serverus reached for her elbow he'd knocked her against the opposite side of the doorframe. Narcissa smiled, weakly, and rubbed her shoulder.
"Yes. I'm fine I shouldn't have been blocking the doorway. My fault." She lowered her eyes, embarrassed. She'd always been shy, but since entering Hogwarts she'd grown even more reticent. The merciless taunts and jeers she received from the other students were enough to make her careful with her words; she was only too aware they all thought of her as nothing more than a pretty face.
It would have been easier, she imagined, if she hadn't been beautiful. Perhaps no one would have noticed her then, perhaps she wouldn't have stood out from the student ranks like a peacock amongst pigeons. But even when she tied back her hair, and pulled her hood over her head, her grey eyes shone out, thick lashed and incredible in her pale face. It was her curse, she thought.
Every night, while other girls were praying to be thinner or prettier, Narcissa prayed for pimples.
"We have Potions together tomorrow," said Serverus. "Are you still looking for a lab partner? I figured " he smiled, shrugged. Narcissa wondered if he was just taking pity on her. But it was easier to accept the offer than to attempt to find reasons for declining it.
"Sure, Sev," she said. "I'll see you in class, then?"
"Want me to help you with your bags?"
"No no. I'm set. It's okay." She tried another weak smile.
"Well, alright then. I'd better go help sort out these first years," said Serverus. "They're a mixed bunch, this year."
Narcissa couldn't help but stare over at the blonde boy on the couch. He was still pulling the silver comb through his hair. Serverus caught the direction of her gaze.
"Wasn't much of a surprise we got him," he said. "His family have been Slytherins ever since Hogwarts opened. That's one of the Malfoys, you know. Born with a silver spoon in his mouth, I'll bet he's the only kid I've ever seen who brought his own house elves with him to unpack his luggage."
"Gosh," said Narcissa she felt it was expected of her.
"You're telling me. I have a bad feeling about him." Serverus shrugged. "I just know he's going to be trouble."
He left her then, striding forwards into the middle of the room to begin ordering the first years about. Narcissa pulled the hood of her robe lower over her face, and moved around the outskirts of the room toward the door to the girl's dormitory. She was feeling homesick already; she missed her family's property out in the country, the privacy of the fields and the solemn, empty rooms of their manor.
Out there amidst the corn she could pretend she was free of all the burdens of her heritage, of all her mother's demands. She was the eldest daughter, and despite coming top of the class in almost every subject the previous year, her mother still seemed disappointed. What more could she want from me? Narcissa had thought, upset. I did my best; I spent the whole year studying to get those marks. I can't become popular and- be smart.
There were a few girls chatting in the dorm, standing by the window and gossiping about boys, boys, boys. They stopped as Narcissa entered, and exchanged amused glances. Narcissa averted her eyes, and slipped away to her own bed. Her school books were lying in a pile on the blankets. She sat down, taking one at random, and began to flick through the pages. She was horribly aware the girls were still staring at her.
"Studying already, Cissy?"
It was Persephone Patil, one of the louder, more obnoxious girls from the house. Before Persephone became part of the schools in-crowd, she and Narcissa had been friends; they'd eaten lunch together, and chatted about all the exciting things they would do once they became real witches. But now now, Persephone seemed to actually resent the time they'd spent together. She didn't want to remember associating with such a country bumpkin as Narcissa d'Antoine.
"I just thought I should get a head start," Narcissa mumbled into her book.
"You came top of the class last year," Persephone snickered. "And the year before that, and the year before that, too haven't you already got enough of a head start?"
"Well " Narcissa began, blushing scarlet underneath her hood.
"It's sickening, really," said Persephone. "Why can't you just lighten up a bit, huh? It's the first day of school. No one cares how smart you are, anyway."
"Sorry." Narcissa was close to tears. The words on the pages blurred, and she gripped the covers tight. Her fingers were long and thin, but her nails were chewed away almost to the cuticle. The laughter of the girls seemed to be coming from a very long way away.
"Aw, don't cry," Persephone jeered. "I'm sure your boyfriend Serverus will come and save you. Though what he would want from a haughty little snob like you, I'll never know."
Narcissa couldn't take it anymore. Gripping the book to her chest, she fled the room, dashing downstairs and through the common room. She heard Serverus call her name, but didn't dare stop. If there was one thing Narcissa couldn't stand, it was letting other people see her cry.
Sitting on the outskirts of the Forbidden Forest, Narcissa rocked herself, her arms hugging her school book. It's not fair, she thought. I didn't ask to be this way. I didn't ask to be beautiful, I didn't ask to come from a well off family. If I had my way, I'd be poor and plain, so no one would notice me.
She closed her eyes, squeezing them tight over the tears which eked out between her lashes.
"My stars. What's a girl like you doing in a nice place like this, hm?"
Narcissa started, dropping her book in her surprise. Getting to her knees, she stared up to see the blonde boy from the common room gazing down at her from the top of a slight grassy mound. His hair was pulled back into its casual plait again, but wisps of it hung about his pointed features.
"Don't cry," he said, his hands on his hips. "I mean that too. We'll have a hundred unicorns here in a second, ready to pay homage to a poor maiden in distress ridiculous beasts that they are. Then again, I've always rather wanted to catch a unicorn. My father won't let me keep one, of course he says it'll destroy his herb garden. I told him we could fatten it up and eat it at Christmas, but apparently unicorn meat has the tendancy to make a person feel overly generous and caring. The horns are a powerful restorative, though but I expect you know that. Being top of the class, and all."
Narcissa blinked, rubbing her eyes.
"I certainly can't believe you'd cry over something a Patil said," the boy continued. "For one thing that girl is half mud-blood, you know, and for another she's as flat chested as an ironing board, and about as physically attractive, too. Give me a knothole any day. There's a hanky in your pocket you should probably blow your nose."
She withdrew the hankerchief, without questioning him, and blew into it noisily.
"Your name is Narcissa d'Antoine nice breeding, good family, despite the fact I'm fairly sure your grandmother was a Veela. Still, you don't have any obvious claws. You should stand up now, and let me introduce myself. There that's better," he nodded as she rose, unsteadily, and he extended a fine-bone hand towards her. She took it, with some misgivings, and they shook. "Lucius Malfoy," said the boy. "I'm not particulary pleased to meet you, but after seeing the other fools this school has to offer by way of friends, I'll have to say that I'm somewhat relieved in finding you. By the way, I'm joking there it would be gratifying for me if you'd laugh."
Narcissa couldn't quite muster the courage to laugh it had been a long time since she'd laughed but she did smile.
"Better than nothing, one supposes," said Lucius, wrinkling his nose. "I'm wicked, you ought to know this. I'm also not a great fan of idiots, which is why I'm here with you, and not in the common room listening to why Quidditch is the greatest game on earth and why some fool named Serverus Snape is oh so dreamy and why the pretty girls always have to be so damned stuck up. I think they were talking about you, on that last account we're going to go for a walk now, Narcissa, you and me, and we're going to have a long conversation about what I plan to do, now that I'm forced to interact with these peons, and what you're going to do with me.."
I have a friend, Narcissa thought, as she lay in bed that night. I have a friend called Lucius Malfoy. Okay, so he might be a first year, and he might not shut up often, and he might have a habit of ordering me around, but he's a friend. A real friend; he's not just taking pity on me like Serverus does. He really, genuinely likes me.
And he's cute, too.
For once, the chilly Slytherin tower didn't seem quite as cold as usual.
"Oo. It's the bitch queen. Show us some legs, Cissy."
"Mm, shake those hips. Tease."
"Talk about frigid."
Ignore them, Narcissa told herself fiercely. They're just the Marauders. No one cares what they think, anyway. She pulled her hood down over her head, and tried to worm her way through the thick of the hallway crowd, but their taunts followed her.
"Arrooo! Ice princess coming through!"
"Beware, boys! She can freeze a man's balls with one look."
"Hah, I guess we're just not good enough for her, right? Bloody stuck up little whore she'll get what's coming to her Argh!"
At the yell Narcissa turned, confused. James Potter was doubled over beside the lockers, his face red with anger, while the other Marauders crowded around him. From what Narcissa could see, all the stitching in James' robe seemed to have suddenly vanished he was clutching the material over his chest to protect his modesty.
Standing opposite him, staring at his wand as if he was just as shocked as anyone else, was Lucius Malfoy.
"Oh, gosh," he said, in an innocent little voice. "I wonder how that happened."
Potter snarled and leapt towards him, but stumbled over the end of his robe and fell flat on his stomach. Lucius giggled, and fled. The other Marauders, Black, Pettigrew and Lupin, only paused for a second before taking up the chase. As he passed her, Lucius pinched Narcissa' arm, winked and then continued running, toward the dining hall.
"What the " Narcissa began, before Black elbowed her out of the way. She fell back against the metal lockers, too stunned to do anything. In fact, she was so stunned that she didn't realise she'd stuck out her foot before Lupin tripped over it. Pettigrew, right behind Lupin, staggered and tumbled on top of Lupin; the two boys struggled against each other to stand.
"Oh, gosh," said Narcissa, without realising what she was saying. "I wonder how that happened."
The fallen Marauders cursed, and Narcissa realised it was probably in her best interests to get away quickly, before they managed to get to their feet. She dodged through the crowd, following Black and Lucius.
Pushing open the doors to the dining hall, Narcissa saw that Lucius had made it in, and was seated safely at the Slytherin table. Black was panting inside the doorway, but with the teachers watching, he couldn't do anything. Narcissa felt her lips twitching into a grin, and covered her face with her hand.
"What ever did you do to Black?" Serverus was asking Lucius, as Narcissa slipped into a chair between the two of them.
"Oh, nothing," Lucius said, airily. He slotted his wand back into the pocket of his robes, and leant back in his chair. "I think he's just a little exciteable. That's a euphemism for a hysterical, violent freak, by the way. Do you want to pass the mushrooms, Serverus? Thankyou."
And then, under his breath to Narcissa, Lucius whispered, "See. I told you I was wicked."
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