A/N – This is for Alys (alyssialui). The prompt was [Lucius has to shave his head]. Things may have escalated.
"Mr Malfoy, I'm sorry. There is no cure," the doctor spoke in a sympathetic tone; Narcissa wished he hadn't – it would only make this harder for him.
"You mean to tell me, that even with all you expert knowledge," he sneered the words," you have still not managed to find a cure for something so simple as this. So common; so-"
"Sir, with all due respect, it's far from simple. But there is something that could help."
"No." They'd been having this argument for several days now, and nothing had changed.
"Lucius, it could help," she tried again.
"I will not resort to Muggle techniques to- to-"
"To survive?" The look he gave her said exactly what he thought of that. "You would rather die than try something like this?"
"Lucius, you are being absolutely ridiculous," she'd never spoken to him like this before – never with so much anger – but he just wouldn't listen.
"Ridiculous? I'm the one being ridiculous?" his tone was incredulous. "You're willing to abandon everything you stand for on the off chance that this might work, and I'm the one-"
"Yes," she snarled. "You are. If we do nothing you will certainly die. Why will you not try this? It's our last resort! There are no other options." She lowered her tone before continuing, "Please, Lucius. We have to at least try."
Something must have come across in her tone, as he didn't outright disregard the idea this time. Instead, he clenched his jaw and looked down to the left. His breathing was heavy and she could tell he was struggling, but she wasn't going to back down on this. She couldn't.
He gave a slight nod, and the relief she felt was crippling in its intensity.
"You promised you would try," she hissed through clenched teeth, hoping the Muggle doctor didn't hear her.
"I am trying. I'm here, aren't I?" he whispered, tone bored. She clenched her jaw in an effort to keep her composure; she knew this was difficult for him, but did he have to be so... difficult?
The doctor droned on, oblivious, describing the treatment in shocking detail – Narcissa had to agree with Lucius on one thing; this was positively barbaric. Needles, every day and the side effects and 'Mrs Malfoy, if you would prefer your regular hospital to administer the injections then I suggest you discuss treatment with them'.
By the end of it, she was left with a sour taste in her mouth and she almost regretted forcing Lucius to go through with this – almost. But he seemed to have accepted the decision; he was taking this better than she was – once he made a decision, he stuck to it.
"This is humiliating," he snarled, careful to keep his voice low. "There must be a better way to do this."
"Yes, I agree, but it's not really an area of medicine the Healers have much experience with. It's so..." she cut herself off quickly.
"Common?" he asked; he continued facing forward but cast his eyes in her direction, eyebrows raised slightly.
"Well... I don't know, really. I've never known anyone who had this." She furrowed her brows in thought, trying to remember.
"It's the magic in our blood that allows those with magic to live longer. Perhaps it's the same with this," Lucius suggested. The doctors had all been talking about cells and reproduction as if they worked together. It did make her wonder if these people had any grasp of the English language, but she supposed they must know what they were talking about.
"Yes, I suppose so," she said after a brief pause.
Afterwards, Lucius kept rubbing at the tiny hole in his arm.
"Don't," she admonished gently. "Let me get you some tea. It'll take your mind off things," she said as she summoned the House Elf.
"They put it directly into my blood, Narcissa," he complained, still rubbing at the tape on his arm.
"Yes, dear, I was there," she sighed. There wasn't really anything she could do to make this better for him.
Lucius stood up from the dinner table, then sat back down heavily with a gasp.
"Lucius? Are you alright?" Concern laced her voice.
"Fine," he ground out, breathing heavily. He was pale, sweat beading on his forehead.
"Lucius?" she tried again hesitantly.
"I'm fine," he whispered. "Just a little dizzy."
"Here," she murmured gently, pouring him some juice. "Drink this."
"We should tell Draco." She'd been trying for weeks to find a way to broach the subject sensitively, but when she could come up with nothing she'd opted for a more blunt approach.
"Why not? He would want to know," she tried again.
"Yes, and he'd come visit. He wouldn't leave, and I don't-" he stopped abruptly, sighed, and lowered his tone. "I don't want him to see me like this."
"Lucius," she whispered. It felt like her heart was breaking.
Reluctantly, she nodded.
"Lucius, are you- Oh." He looked up when she entered, his eyes pleading with her to help.
"I-" he began, but he couldn't get the words out. He was still had strands of his hair caught between his fingers, and he was looking from it to her.
"Oh," she repeated. She'd never seen him look like this; so desperate and afraid. It wasn't like him. She gathered herself after a few seconds, hoping he hadn't noticed her pause, and walked towards him pulling out her wand. "Here, let me."
She knelt behind him on the bed, whispering comforting words that she knew he wasn't listening to. His hair fell to lie in curls on the floor; on the bed. She hated herself for doing this; she hated his illness for making her do this.
When it was over she cleared his hair away with a wave of her wand. She climbed off the bed, lacking her usual grace, but he wasn't lucid enough to notice.
"There," she whispered, running her hand along his newly shaved head. "That's better."
He looked up at her, tears shining in his eyes. She traced the bones of his skull, pulling his head to her chest.
She could feel the exact moment the tears finally escaped, wetness seeping into her shirt and sobs wracking his body.
She couldn't cry yet; that would come later. He needed her.
She watched him sleep – she was always awake before him now – and even whilst asleep he looked tired. The permanent dark circles in stark contrast to his pale skin; his bones too prominent.
A frown still marred his features, and she wanted to smooth it away with her fingers but she feared touching him now; she'd gripped his wrist too tightly a couple days ago and the bruises still marked his skin.
He stared up at the ceiling blankly, refusing to even acknowledge her as she changed the sheets and his clothes. The smell of urine still clung to the air.
She felt like crying – he husband should not be degraded like this; he had been through enough – but she held herself together for his sake.
"I'm sorry," he whispered.
"You heard me," and it was the closest he'd come to his usual tone in months.
"Why are you sorry?" she asked.
"You shouldn't have to go through this. It's not-"
"I shouldn't have to go through this?" she asked incredulously. "Me? What about you?"
"Are you sure you don't want to go to Saint Mungos'?" she whispered, clutching his cold hand in hers.
"There's nothing they can do for me." His voice was gravelly, and he couldn't speak much louder than a whisper. 'Any day now,' they'd told her.
"There must be something." She finally let the tears fall in front of him; she couldn't hold them back any longer. "We have to try," the desperation was clear in her voice.
"We have tried. We've tried everything."
"It's okay, Narcissa."
"No! It's not okay. It's-"
"I love you." He finally turned to look at her, a sad smile on his face.
"No, you don't get to say that! Not like this. Not like-" she broke off with a choked sob.
Not like goodbye.