Chapter 2 : Dancing
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He's looked my way three times in the two weeks since school started again, and sometimes I wonder if I imagined the little half smiles.
The worse part is that I remember each and every time he's looked at me in agonizingly vivid detail. When he walked by me on the grounds, the low winter sun made his blond hair seem golden and his grey eyes shine. When he was bored in History of Magic and turned my way, I thought I finally understood what Elizabeth's silly Muggle romances meant when they talked about your heart skipping a beat. It was a very odd feeling for me.
It's all preposterous, I know, but I do like that I have something to blame, even if a crush is not a tangible thing - trust me, when you seriously consider going up to your crush and enquiring about dance lessons just to have a reason to talk to him, you will be glad for something to blame, too.
I should just forget all about it, look for someone else to be with. Or no one at all. I don't need a man. What I need to do is stop letting my father's marriage talks get to me. With Bellatrix being... less than sane and Andromeda gone, I think he's working too hard to turn me into the perfect Pureblood daughter, the one who does and gets everything right.
In his eyes, a Malfoy, being in a position of power and with the money and connections to last generations, is a perfect candidate for marriage.
I fear I've dug my own grave with this one.
That turns out to not be true almost immediately after thinking it... at least, not yet.
After my last class of the day, Charms, I say good bye to Elizabeth and head for the school's entrance; it's still quite cold outside, but I enjoy sitting by the lake to get started on my reading. It's peaceful there; the silence in the library is forced, made so due to fear of Madam Pince's wrath, but even then you can still hear whispers, arguments some can't quite keep quiet, and the occasional smack of lips... unless you know where to avoid it. The lake doesn't have that; to quote Nott, no one else is stupid enough to go there during the winter or weird enough to go there in general. He thinks it's dull, that there's nothing there to do or to look at. He doesn't understand the beauty of doing nothing, to pretend you're alone in the world, with no pressure or threat of war, just for a minute.
I like to spend every minute I can there.
So, I make my way to the lake, not really paying attention because I know the path so well after years of walking the same way, and make a grunt considered unladylike in Pureblood society when an unknown arm grabs my own and pulls me around. The arm is far from gentle, I'm sure there'll be a bruise there soon enough, but I don't focus on it yet. Instead, I focus on the arm - my gaze goes up, to a shoulder, and then to a chest that is very much female, and then, finally, and most unfortunately, to the face of Jane Mather. Lucius Malfoy's scarily crazy ex-girlfriend.
The bad kind of crazy, he said at his party. Looking at her, with her cold demeanor and eyes so wild they remind me of Bella when she's talking about the Dark Lord, I have to agree with him.
"Can I help you, Jane?" I ask calmly. Don't rise to the bait, my father says. Their status tells you everything you need to know about a person. Jane Mather may be Pureblood and her family may be connected enough to give her some status, enough to get Lucius' mother to like her even, but her name is not as old and strong as 'Malfoy' is, nor does it have a reputation quite like 'Black'.
She is not important to me.
"Stay away from Luke," Jane spits out harshly, her eyes narrowed in a way that even I think makes her dangerous.
It takes a moment longer than it should for me to realize that 'Luke' can be a nickname for 'Lucius' and that she's referring to Malfoy. I wonder if he likes that, or if the nickname is one of the many reasons he probably had for leaving her. Luke is more fitting for the boy he becomes after a drink or two, the talkative, normal one, not the closed up, sometimes harsh man the world is used to seeing. And I very much doubt he was anything close to normal around Jane. No one can let their guard down around her to do that.
I also do not remember anyone else ever calling him 'Luke', not even his best friend.
Maybe one day I can ask him.
"I assure you, I have no idea what you are talking about," I tell her truthfully. I fear even she has noticed the slight disappointment I couldn't quite conceal in my tone when she steps closer to me; I force myself to not move back. "We don't even talk."
"I heard that you danced with him at the Malfoy Christmas Ball," she sneers, looking smug when I don't answer her. "I knew it. He's not interested in you, so stop trying to get his attention."
"She doesn't need to try," a voice murmurs from behind Jane.
I don't turn to him, I don't want to slip and let her do something to me because I've broken eye contact, though I don't think she will now that Lucius is here. It's hard to do, almost painfully so: she doesn't need to try. Does that mean I already have his attention? Or is he just saying so to get to Jane?
I wish I knew.
"Luke, she's -"
"None of your business," he interrupts calmly. For someone who claims to be afraid of her, he certainly knows how to handle himself and, if he was honest with me, hide how he feels. Just from hearing his voice, I can tell that his mask hasn't slipped.
"We are no longer together, Jane, and my relationship with Narcissa isn't your business to mess up," he continues, his voice still low, almost soft, but with an edge to it that would have shivers running down my spine if I wasn't forcing myself to stay straight and still, with my eyes on her. "Leave, Jane. I won't say it again."
Like the villains in Elizabeth's books, Jane gives me a look that tells me something isn't over between us, then her gaze moves to Lucius and longing is mixed with the hatred and jealousy she was throwing my way. She does not say anything else, to me or to him, and she does not stomp her foot and storm off like the spoilt little princess I know she can be. She just walks away, probably plotting my sudden, 'accidental' death.
I don't move from my spot, refusing to look at him. I know it sounds crazy, I don't doubt the craziness, but I did not want our first meeting since Christmas to be him rescuing me from his psycho ex like I'm some damsel in distress. It's embarrassing.
If Lucius has any understanding of my feelings, and maybe he does have some idea because after six years, even he has commented on my hatred of being treated like a fragile, little girl, he doesn't seem to care very much. Instead of leaving like I wish he would, he circles me until he's stopped in front of me.
"Now do you see the bad crazy?" he asks, not mentioning him helping me at all. I'll take it.
"I do. She's really... something," I answer eventually. It's the nicest thing I can say about her. Lucius gives me one of his brief, small smiles and says nothing.
"I could have handled her," I add, though I'm not actually sure why; I only know that I want the silence between us to end. "But you were... helpful."
It's as close to a thank you as he's going to get, and I can tell by the look in his face that he knows it; it's more of a smirk than a smile, but still not quite there.
"You were going somewhere," Lucius says, stepping to the side and holding out his hand as though he's letting me pass.
I stroll past him, internally kicking myself for this being the worst timing, and try to understand why I'm both relieved and disappointed by the fact that he will leave me alone now... until I catch the light swinging of his arm from the corner of my eyes and realize that he's following me. Then confusion is added to the growing list of emotions I would rather not feel.
"Where are we going?" he asks.
"To the lake."
"I like to read there. It's peaceful," I add when he opens his mouth again. "Since when are you so nosy?"
Lucius shrugs. "I'm making conversation. We haven't talked since the party." He turns to me and grins, like he's found something amusing. "You promised me dance lessons."
"Actually, I believe I said that I thought you were a lost cause, but may be willing to try," I point out with a smile of my own. "I haven't decided yet."
I go straight to the large oak tree when we get to the lake, lean against it and grab my History of Magic textbook from my bag. I took the class for sixth year because Elizabeth didn't want to take it alone, and she only took it because Leo Zabini did; Professor Binns can make even the most exciting topics dull, but when you read our history in the books, it's quite interesting. I have to read about the Statue of Secrecy, but I keep going back to the supposed extinction of fairies (no one really knows what happened to them); it's very cool.
"How's the book?" Lucius asks quietly.
I look up to find him sat across from me, his knees pulled up to his chest so he can rest his chin on his arms. He looks more like the version of him I saw at the party, and I'm happily surprised that he doesn't have to be drunk to look normal. I also find myself hiding a grin behind my book when a whisper in the back of my mind points out that Leo and I are probably the only people in the world who have ever seen him this way.
"Did you know that fairies used to be considered important?" I ask in answer to his question. "They even had royals."
He shakes his head, which prompts me to pat the ground by my side so I can tell him more. He probably finds it boring, but he never complains.
We eventually move closer to the lake, lying side-by-side on the grass. We use our cloaks as blankets, without transfiguring them into an actual blanket, so we keep close, the left side of my body touching his right. I don't feel guilty about the fact that I lied when he asked if I knew the spell to transfigure the cloaks; it would have taken away our need to be close and a girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do if she wants at least a few moments with her crush.
My crush may act like a jerk most of the time and I don't have some idiotic fantasy of him being my prince, but he can be nice and fun and he talks to me about things in the world without sugarcoating them to 'protect my feelings'. He's a realistic crush, even if I can't have him.
When the sun starts to set, early thanks to winter, I make a joke about him finding constellations because Elizabeth thinks stargazing is romantic, but the wind picks up and he casts a warming charm instead of moving, then he tells me that he thinks Andromeda is somewhere on the left.
Eh, close enough.
I don't tell him that I'm glad he picked that one.
"Do you wish she'd stayed?" Lucius asks me quietly.
"Yes," I reply immediately. She was the one who stopped Father from giving me lectures and kept Bellatrix from practicing dark magic with me in fear of her using me for practice, she slept with me when I was afraid and told me it was for her so I didn't have to admit it.
But then I remember why she left; it wasn't just for Ted Tonks, it was for her beliefs. Or lack of, in this instance. Everyone thinks Slytherin is evil, that you're with the Dark Lord the moment they know your House, but they're wrong. Andromeda proves that. She may have an impressive knowledge of the dark arts and will use it, but only if you hurt her or anyone she cares about. She's not out killing Muggles and Muggleborns because she thinks they're abominations, I don't think Ted would stay if she did.
People think he changed her, he didn't. Falling for him just gave her the incentive to tell everyone what she thought.
Andromeda just protects her own, not caring who or what another is as long as they don't go after her.
That's why she left and that's why I miss her so much. She's just like me.
"I just wish I could see her," I correct. I take a deep breath and ask him something that suddenly comes back to my mind, something that is usually my reason for not approaching him. "Where do you stand with Lord Voldemort?"
He flinches when I say the name, noticeable because he doesn't expect the question, and shrugs. "I'm not very good with authority, I usually do the opposite. It would probably get me killed."
"I don't understand what you're telling me," I tell him honestly, only knowing that it's a weak and terrible attempt at joking.
"I agree with his ideals," he admits, and he's not ashamed of that, nor does he sugarcoat his feelings in fear of what I'll think. But he does look a little nervous. Maybe he thinks I'll walk away. I won't; I've always known, or at least suspected, this. He's never really hidden it, he just makes sure he can't be expelled for it.
"Would you join him?"
"Would you want me to?"
I can't answer him, I know I'll sound weak and fragile and unbearably sad, so I shake my head and look away from him. I protect my own and Lucius Malfoy is not mine; I have no say. But if he was and he did join and it brought danger to my door, protecting him over the Dark Lord would only get us killed.
Could I chance that?
It would be easier for us if he didn't join at all.
Lucius opens his mouth to speak, and then thunder roars in the distance and whatever he thinks about saying is gone.
"We should go inside, I don't want to get wet," he tells me instead.
I don't argue, talk about charms that will keep us dry; the moment has gone and so has our time together. Going back inside is for the best. We stand and grab our cloaks in silence, I have my back to him while I put mine on. Then I start to leave, only to be pulled back so I'm in his arms. He hesitates a moments, then dips his head and kisses me. It's quick but hard and leave no room for misinterpretation.
"But," I start, frowning, "you only date brunets with long legs and large... chests."
He laughs, which is unexpected and more than a little nice. "It's a little too specific, don't you think?"
Now that I think about it, his preference in girls is awfully specific. I often wonder how he finds so many girls who fits his... criteria. I nod.
"I gave my mother as detailed a description as I could, so she would stop asking me about my love life," he explains, still smiling. "Now she's cheating; the girl at the Christmas ball was definitely a redhead with a bad glamour charm. Not that I have anything against redheads. But I don't like liars, unless I'm the one lying."
"That's so sweet," I murmur sarcastically.
Lucius nods. "I thought so."
"So, you like me?" I ask, turning serious.
"I am willing to get wet for you."
His tone suggests humor, but the look in his eyes says so much more and it both excites and scares me. What else will he do for me?
I take a deep breath and hope he understands my meaning, too - I protect the one's I care about.
"Me too," I say before he kisses me again.
It's better than dancing.
A/N: I don't want to talk about how long it's been since I posted the first chapter, it would only makes us sad. Instead, I hope you enjoy this and expect more soon. :)
This may be changed to Short Story Collection, the time in between Lucius and Narcissa's story can be long.
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