"How much do you know, Narcissa?"
Lucius said this conversationally as they prepared for bed. She was sitting in her virtuous white robe at her dressing table (until today, his late mother's), white silk spilling over the little seat onto the floor. She was brushing her hair in long, even strokes. The potions she had used to change her hair had changed its texture as well as colour. She savoured the new softness beneath her hands.
It had pleased him, too. She had seen it in the softness around his eyes, sudden as his gaze flitted over her at their Handfasting that day. It was a symbolic gesture of unity, of leaving her family of origin to cleave to him, casting off black and Black for Malfoy fair. She loved her parents - even loved her remaining sister, though with a fair degree of caution - but she took her vows seriously, and from today, she was his.
Now, she looked up at him, reflected in the mirror, standing behind her, awaiting an answer. Even on relatively short acquaintance, she perceived the falseness of his casualness. There were concerned furrows etched into his brow and his head was tilted to one side as he studied her.
He meant the consummation of their marriage, then.
She would have laughed. It was, after all, 1974, and even her strictly controlled and sheltered world had not completely kept the sexual revolution at bay. Would have laughed, except she knew that even today, there were Pureblood women who went to their marriage beds, not only untouched, but utterly ignorant like their mothers and grandmothers before them.
"I understand what the act entails," she said matter-of-factly, resuming her attentions to her hair. "I shan't be shocked, or protest with horrified modesty, if that's what concerns you. I know my...my duty."
"I'm sure," Lucius said, but she perceived the slight softening of his shoulders anyway. "Druella took you aside this morning, I suppose? I'd expect nothing less."
Her lips twitched. "You like my mother now? My, my, Lucius. You are coming along."
His twitched too. "She's a worthy society matron, I'll grant that much." He went on, "But I wasn't speaking of duty, Narcissa. I was speaking of enjoyment. I dare say no one's thought to tell you that's possible also?"
She snorted. "Of course they haven't. But a man's pleasure is well known, and there's always at least one girl at school who throws her reputation to the wind in pursuit of her own. I presumed a woman's enjoyment was at least possible." A woman's, yes; a lady's, probably not, at least in her mother's view. Apparently, Lucius thought differently - something that intrigued and intimidated her in turns.
"Indeed." His shoulders relaxed a little more.
Her matter-of-fact demeanour slipped a little then. She said, a little more softly, "If you're...offering...to concern yourself with my enjoyment, Lucius, I appreciate it. Truly. But I don't know...I don't know my...my part in it." She said it awkwardly. No longer looking at him.
He came around her then. She turned to look up at him. He stroked back that newly-blonde hair off her face, placing it gently over her shoulder.
"Your part is to trust me. Just that. Can you do that?"
She didn't know if she could, but she knew that she would. She nodded.
Satisfied, he took one of the vials from the dressing table beside them. She had assumed they were his mother's perfumes, but she saw that the one he had chosen was sparkling and new. He removed the stopper and handed it to her.
"It will help," he said kindly. "The first time hurts for some, they say. It will get better. All you have to do is breathe. Trust me."
She felt her uncertainty fall away, falling off her like a heavy shroud, leaving her lighter and surer. The tales of her contemporaries were told in soft-focus, but the two competing themes were of disregard and of consideration. Lucius gave every appearance of the latter, of utmost diligence and care.
She did trust him, she thought. She did.
She took the vial without asking what was in it. She would ask later, but to ask now would be a sign of mistrust that was wholly undeserved. It was bitter; Devil's Claw was in it, and other things like it, probably. It was a relaxant, and its taste was unmistakable.
He was waiting beside her, this time with a glass of glittering, golden wine. Botrytis, dessert wine, sliding sweetly over her lips, taking the bitterness away. She looked up at him as she drank, holding his eyes with hers. She took the measure of him, and she liked what she saw.
He was well-bred, aristocratic and conscientious, but still very young. Just twenty, only a year older than her. Watching him thoughtfully, she perceived his quiet determination to make every step the right one; saw the thoroughness that lurked beneath his confidence. He was sure of himself only because he had made sure. That touched her, reassured her, far more than any unreasoned confidence ever could.
She set down her glass on the dresser and, gathering her courage, she held out her hand to him.
That sureness, that confidence faltered. She could feel it in his hand over hers, suddenly hesitant. Could see it in the pensive look on his face, the softened lines of his jaw. It wasn't inexperience, she thought; he would have made sure to come to her with enough experience to lead her. But this was different. He had responsibility for her. And he was afraid of getting it wrong.
She felt more warmth, more sympathy for him than she could have imagined was possible. Squeezed his hand as she rose to stand at his side.
"Thank you for looking after me," she said softly, and leaned in to kiss his cheek. She did it slowly. Tenderly. It was both impulsive and calculated, the way she did it. Opening the door to him. Leading him, then yielding, so he could lead her. Opening gambit to the story of their lifetime.
She pulled back from him slowly, giving him time to catch her mouth with his, and he did. Closing his lips around hers, loosely, just firm enough to press his way into her mouth and no more. She felt her jaw soften involuntarily, opening for him, and knew a moment of shocked triumph as it dawned on her that her body had knowledge of its own, that it could show her the way.
"Oh, God," she whispered as he opened her, as he searched her, first slowly, just her lips; then, as her head sank back into his hand, deeper and harder. Dimly, she thought she should reciprocate, but oh, how she loved this, loved this surrender, this feeling of being safe in his hands. Loved his fingers twining in her hair, tangling it lovingly, gentle mayhem to her carefully controlled life.
Her hands were curling around his robe, and high, sighing little sounds were coming from her that she'd never heard before. They were wanton, she thought, reckless and greedy, begging for more. She had never been greedy, never begged, and it shocked her how easily she did so now. How easily he had reduced her to it.
She felt mortification as he released her; wouldn't have met his eye, only that would make it much, much worse. Had the vague, uneasy feeling that she had handed him some sort of power over her by letting him see her so unguarded.
But he pressed his forehead to hers and said, "You are so very beautiful like this, you know. You give me a great gift with your trust."
That was more poetic than she had given him credit for, and she wondered whether someone had told him to say it, some older and wiser gentleman perhaps (though for the life of her she couldn't imagine who).
But she was a pragmatist, and she dismissed the origin and accepted the sentiment. Her...vulnerability...was something cherished, and that touched her. She'd accepted the constraints of her world as a constant, with no idea until now how deeply she had wanted to be known. It was like pools of knowledge opening up before her, things about who she was and what she wanted and how she wanted, and it washed over her, heady, exhilarating, overwhelming.
"Lucius," she whispered, something hard rising in her throat, as it dawned on her that she was already naked before him. In every way that mattered.
"My Narcissa," he said, and he said it the way you would say my love. Belonging. Not owned.
She'd never known there was a difference before.
She had no words for what rose up in her in response, so she pressed against him and kissed him once more. Hungry. Urgent. Whispering his name into his mouth, with more longing than she could ever say out loud. Slid her fingers experimentally into his hair, and was rewarded with a tiny sigh and his hands rising up onto her shoulders, gripping her there, somehow hard and tender at the same time. Thumbs brushing her flesh at the collarbone, sending ripples over her skin, tingles radiating down over her décolleté, down her arms, over her...breasts...and...God.
An urge came over her, to take one of his hands and...put it...there...but she didn't know how. Couldn't imagine doing something like that.
"Oh," she sighed out, arching her neck, baring it, pushing forward into him. It was the closest thing to a request that she could manage.
He seemed to understand, because his palm drifted across her flesh, came to rest at the base of her neck. Cradled her there with the webbing between his thumb and fingers, pressure as his fingertips danced over the hollows of her collarbone, gentle yet possessive. Transmitting his claim unerringly before sliding his palm firmly down between her breasts. She breathed out in a sigh and pressed against his hand, giving a tiny sound of dismay and need as he moved on, cradling her waist and tugging her against him.
That was when she felt it, hardness against her belly, recognised yet unfamiliar. Essential difference and bridge, part of him that would become part of her. She drew in her breath, feeling fear and curiosity in turns. Looked up into his eyes, searching them. Saw fear of his own. Fear that she could not embrace him, perhaps.
She could. She would.
She slid her hands over his shoulders. Rose up on her toes and kissed him, hard, moulding her body to his. Choked out a new sound, a different, deeper kind of need, as his urgency unleashed itself; arms firm around her, one hand splayed out between her shoulderblades, the other around her waist. He rocked his hips against hers, slowly, leisurely, friction rising up from her pelvic bone to her navel and back again. Those ripples flowed over her flesh and sank down deep inside her, deep in her pelvis, where they exploded into something dark and pounding, radiating out like languidly searching fingertips, pressing into places she'd never known she had.
Her hands shook as she slid them over his shoulders, beneath his robe. "Off," she whispered, breathing hard. Inarticulate. Frantic."Off." She could have unfastened it herself, but she was too overwhelmed for that, shivering, undone all over again by the realisation of how completely and willingly she had been mastered.
If she had been mastered, then so had he; his kiss was deep and hard and grateful as he fumbled with the tie at his waist. He pulled away from her a little to do it, and she gave a little whimper of agony at that delicious pressure taken away. But he was back soon enough, straining against her, welcome and heavy with need.
His hands were at her waist, sliding up beneath her arms. Brushing the sideswell of her breasts, maddening, teasing. Close enough to send waves of heat to her nipples; they peaked, drawing in and up, so near and so far. "Lucius," she choked out against his lips, and gave a sound of utter relief when he finally touched her there, cupping her through thin silk, kneading their peaks. Rolling them between practiced fingertips, shooting currents of unbearable heat down into her core. She sank her head back, little cries escaping her as his mouth closed on her throat.
He slid his fingertips down over the edges of her robe, down to where they overlapped at the waist, tracing a feather-light line down her flesh as he went. Skin to skin there, for the first time. Unfastened her belt, letting it fall open.
She waited for him to part the silken folds, expose her tingling flesh, but he didn't. There were tantalising hints of his nakedness against hers, surprisingly soft hair between her breasts, hard belly against her softer one, heaviness of his sac brushing against her mound, while her breasts strained against her robe and their hips slid against each other through silk. It was sensory overload, too much, too close, yet not close enough.
His hands slid around her waist. Down over her buttocks. He roamed the back of her thigh restlessly, sliding silk, drawing it up. She could feel coolness between her thighs as he exposed her, felt it tingle over the flesh between, swollen and tender and open. Again she marvelled at her own body, the mysteries it had held, just waiting to be revealed by flesh riding against flesh. A kind of magic, earth magic, magic that pre-dated magic as they knew it.
He drew his fingertips up the backs of her thighs. She tensed, anticipation and fear all at once, but he brushed the cleft between them, and passed it by. Did it over and over, idly tracing circles and dipping in and out between them, low and high, until the fear was washed away by need.
He slipped his hand between them - she parted for him gratefully - and traced the crease of her inner thigh, starting far between them, just above where she felt heat and pressure and aching, aching need. Then, slowly, leisurely, he outlined her sex with two fingertips and withdrew again. Found the spot where her thigh met her nether lips, not parting them, just pressing firmly in the hollows there. Pressing, pulsing, until she felt unbearable pressure and heat and then heady, swooning relief. Crying out against him, loud, greedy, fluid rushing out of her onto his hand in a single surge of release. Her split-second of horror was swept away, forgotten, as he groaned, "Oh, fuck, yes, come for me like that," and his erection was even harder, more insistent, grinding against her as she leaned into his chest.
His hands - one of them - roamed her hair the way they'd roamed her thighs, while the other slid at last between her lips, parting swollen flesh as she shivered against him. Traced the spot, the one no one had told her about but she'd felt it waiting and throbbing as he'd touched her, making her fall against him with a cry that sounded like a sob. Making her move shamelessly against him, rocking back and forth, getting what she wanted from him.
Abruptly, his thumb sank inside her, slipping easily into her wetness. He cupped her mound, cradling her with his palm, supporting her as her knees gave way. Her whole weight was friction there, bringing up that pressure all over again, and she bit down on her lip and stiffened, hard against him.
"Let go," he insisted. "I want to hear. I want to see." Voice of utter, unquestioned command. He demanded this exposure from her as her husband, and the demand washed over her like permission, like release from bounds. She forced her teeth to let go of her lip, and release swept through her, loud cries echoing. She felt that telltale surge of fluid again, felt it stream down her thighs, felt him trail it over her buttocks as he withdrew his hand.
She lifted her head to look at him. Hesitant. Half embarrassed, half jubilant. His face was flushed, his eyes filled with triumph. But it was a benign triumph, she thought; triumph with her, not over her.
"I love you," he said. Breathless. Sinking his hand into her hair. It was damp with sweat; he pushed it back off her temple. Expression soft and adoring, and vaguely confused as well. Taken by surprise at the way she had affected him.
It sounded like naiveté, but Narcissa knew better. Knew the way love grew and changed over the course of an arranged marriage. His love was only the beginnings of it, a willingness to love and be loved; but no less truth for that.
"I love you too," she said, and she did.
He took her face between his hands and kissed her, and just like that, her body came to life all over again beneath his touch. He urged her back, edge of the dressing table pressing into her bottom, and stretched out his hand to levitate the bottles behind her to one side. They landed haphazardly as he withdrew his shaking hand and lifted her onto the wooden surface.
This time, he reached out and parted her robe as she leaned back against the mirror. Exposed her breasts, fuller than she remembered. She leaned back on her hands. Let him look at her.
She still felt that nagging embarrassment, but it was fading. Everything he'd seen, every sound she'd made, all of it made him want her more, not less, and she was starting to trust that it always would.
The moonlight fell on his face as he paused, his hair gleaming and silver in the starlight. He reached out and cradled her cheek, then, slowly, teasingly, he ran his palm down over her flesh. Taking his time. Keeping well back. She realised that he was giving her space, letting her look at him for the first time, letting her prepare for what came next, and she loved him for it.
So she studied him, that part of him that was all new to her. Saw the long, sleek lines of his shaft, the graceful curving at the head. The fluid gleaming at the tip, counterpart to hers. Soft hair rising at the base. The sac, just visible in the shadows beneath. There was an elegance about it, she decided. Extension of the languid, elegant man before her. He would use it with care as he did everything with care. That thought broke through her fear, and she felt hunger. Began to rock urgently on the dresser as his hands danced over her hips and her thighs and everywhere but where she really wanted them.
"It's all right," she whispered. "You can-"
He nodded. Didn't make her say it. Just leaned in to kiss her gently on the lips.
When she felt him against her, glans parting her swollen lips, the fear came flooding back. She stiffened. Whispered against him, "I'm frightened."
Great gentleness rose in his eyes. It softened his whole face. "Oh, Narcissa."
"It isn't that I don't trust-"
"Shh," he murmured. Took himself in hand and eased back and forth, over and over. Arousing her. Spongy tip, nothing like fingers and hands. Awakening a new kind of hunger in her, and she found herself pushing back, arching, grinding against him as he passed back and forth across her opening.
"Oh, God," she moaned. Desire was outstripping fear. Inside, she thought, she needed him inside. She felt pressure as he held against her, firm but not hard, felt his lips close over hers, felt his free hand press down on the spot for which she still had no name, rotating it through the shield of flesh. Felt something in her relax, felt it drive out. Making way for him. Drawing him in. Fear and resistance giving way.
"Narcissa," he groaned, baritones of satisfaction as he sank deep into her. He held there for a long moment, both of them shifting, finding a fit that suited them both. She arched hard against him, his pelvic bone hard and delicious against her sex, his glans finding a place inside her that worked, that pressed insistently against the heat in her core.
The sounds that vibrated in her throat as he began to move were deep and earthy. She'd have swallowed them down rather than release them, but they escaped her every time he thrust home, every time her body took his weight and welcomed it.
He paused every so often, sheathing into her up to the hilt and staying there, and it was a couple of times before she realised he was holding on, pacing himself until she'd taken her pleasure to the full. It was a realisation that filled her with warmth, made her want him even more. Made her press her lips to his, shivering with hunger as she came.
He slipped out of her and tugged her up off the dresser. Turned her to face the mirror. She gasped at what she saw there, her hair wild and fair, eyes dark and glittering, breasts full and free and her nipples impossibly, wilfully hard. The thatch of hair between her thighs was damp and glistening, nether lips swollen, parted, more secret parts of her in evidence. Her throat, her face was flushed and pink; her robe hung indecently off her shoulders. And him - oh God, his arm around her waist, hand roaming her hair, sliding possessively down her neck, easing her head to one side to expose her throat. Staring at her reflection with hunger, long silver hair falling over her shoulders as he nipped at her throat, still holding her reflected gaze.
It was hypnotic. Captivating. She was wet inside all over again, throbbing within and without, and she wanted-
"Please," she whispered. Just that.
Without preamble, he sank two fingers into her. She was ready enough that he could do that, and she jolted, clenched him and then released, taking him gratefully, making little sounds every time he thrust home. His fingers sank into her in her reflection, and his free hand kneaded her breast before settling on the tendon of her neck, tearing her gaze away from the mirror to meet his over his shoulder, glittering, demanding, almost feral as he claimed her mouth with his. She sank back against him gratefully, taking him in her mouth and her core, falling, sinking, crying out his name. Collapsed against the dresser, resting on her hands as he took her by the hips and took her from behind. He was close against her, arm around her waist as they stared at one another in the mirror, only inches away as he thrust into her, paused, and thrust again.
She could do this for the rest of her life, she thought. She never wanted it to stop.
This time, her orgasm left her sinking, her legs giving way completely. Lucius caught her by the arm.
"Bed," he whispered.
"Yes," she choked out.
He laid her out on her stomach, and she didn't argue. Couldn't. Wouldn't. She was his, and he'd earned her trust.
Slowly, gently, he entered her from behind. Sank down on top of her, resting on his elbows, forearms beneath hers. Hovering over her, his front to her back, just enough of his weight on her to make her feel closeness and warmth. She felt utter surrender, utter rest. Gave low, rhythmic sounds of satisfaction as he filled her, slowly, deeply. This was something different to before, something slower and more decadent, and she came deep inside, shudders that were subtle but vibrant, spiralling through her body at the core. Her release left her collapsed on her arms, still taking him, still rocking and seizing. Crying out his name.
She still didn't want it to stop, but she knew, vaguely, that it was time. Her thirst was slaked enough, and her body might soon betray her, might give way to aches and exhaustion, might begin to turn him away.
She eased out from under him. Turned over to face him. "Finish it," she said, reaching up to stroke his cheek. "I want to see it. I want to feel it."
He gave a low, deep growl at that, and she understood, suddenly, how hard-won his restraint had been. Gave a little gasp of shock, of need, as he sank deep inside her. Lifted a little for him as he cradled her around her shoulder and bent to her breast, kissing it hungrily, nipping at her as she plunged restless hands into his hair. She drew up her thighs, high on his back, and urged him on with her heels. Climaxed beneath him, and drove him over the edge of his own, relishing the pulse of him inside her.
They stayed like that for long, long moments, his weight heavy on hers. Her thighs hurt from making room for him, but she didn't tell him to move. Couldn't. Couldn't imagine ever letting him go. Not for anything.
At last, his body slipped free of hers, and he withdrew from her, kissing her gently. Slipped under the covers with no comment, other than to hold out his hand to her.
She supposed she should Scourgify, but she didn't want to do that. She could feel what they'd shared, comforting and warm inside her. So she crawled in beside him, let him draw her against him, heavy eyelids already beginning to drift closed.
"How do you feel?" he wondered, hesitantly.
She remembered collapsing gratefully with him at her back, like gentle wind, driving her forward. "Free," she said. Then, more softly, "You make me fly."
His arm tightened around her. "You should be free." She wondered if he was thinking of their world. Their marriage, chosen by others when they were but children.
"I'm free with you," she said, and she meant it.
His hand drifted along her arm. Said again, "You give me a great gift with your trust."
She said gently, "It isn't a gift if you earn it."
He released her abruptly. Hovered over her, eyes bright. She'd touched him. "Narcissa."
She reached for him then, and found she still had room for him after all.
That night was their first time, and it was the beginning of the story of a lifetime.