Ending his engagement with Bellatrix proved easier than Lucius had anticipated. After their one conversation at the penthouse, she'd vanished from his life as if she'd never been part of it in the first place. Even her things had miraculously disappeared from the penthouse by the next evening. Dealing with her father hadn't been quite as easy, but luckily Lucius had Abraxas by his side as he dealt with Cygnus.
Initially Cygnus had tried to argue the engagement couldn't be broken, but at the constant mention of Voldemort and the Dark Arts, he capitulated to the two Malfoy men. Given how he himself felt about Bellatrix's involvement with Voldemort, he really couldn't argue too much about Lucius wanting to end his engagement because of that involvement. In the end he'd had no choice but to accept the end of the engagement, although he was adamant that the Malfoys picked up all the bills cancelling the wedding would incur.
The only real problem with ending the engagement came via Abraxas's stipulation that Lucius stay away from Narcissa. Lucius had managed to talk to Narcissa before he ended things with Bellatrix, and she agreed to go along with his father's conditions, but that didn't mean either of them had to like it. It was torture for both of them to keep their distance from each other, while at the same time hoping that Narcissa's father didn't arrange a union for her before she and Lucius could attempt to get together after a respectable time had passed.
By the time six weeks had passed following the end of his engagement, Lucius was desperate to see Narcissa. Fortunately he was due to attend a big charity dinner with his father, and he was hopeful of seeing Narcissa at the event. The dinner was held every year to raise money for St Mungo's, and while it was open to all of the wizarding public tickets were expensive and more often than not the evening turned into a display of one-upmanship between the elite pureblood families as they all vied to be seen as the most generous benefactor of the evening.
On the evening in question, Lucius dressed in his sharpest, most expensive black suit and silk grey shirt. His long hair was neatly tied up with a black ribbon, and he exuded a confidence very few other wizards could match. He knew people would be talking due to the broken engagement with Bellatrix, but he was going to show the world that he was doing just fine and Bellatrix was ancient history.
"Behave yourself this evening, Lucius," Abraxas warned as the two wizards prepared to head to the hotel where the charity evening was being held. "Remember our good reputation is at stake here."
"What do you think I'm going to do, declare undying love for Narcissa in the middle of the dance floor?" Lucius snorted.
"I'm not sure what you're capable of these days, Lucius," Abraxas sneered. "Just remember there will be a strong press presence this evening, and I don't want even a hint of scandal to touch us. Do you understand?"
"Yes," Lucius replied solemnly. "Don't worry, I won't expose us. But if Narcissa is there, I will be talking to her. If we ever want to get together, we have to start interacting."
"Just make sure you do no more than talk to her," Abraxas cautioned. "A dance at the very most."
Agreeing that he wouldn't overstep the boundaries, Lucius accompanied his father to the charity dinner. Before dinner there were drinks in the adjoining ballroom and Abraxas quickly left Lucius to go and mingle. Grabbing a drink of a passing waiter, Lucius looked around the ballroom in search of Narcissa. He actually found no sign of the Black family, but he did spot Nigel and Horatio sitting at a table with the witch Horatio had recently been dating. Making his way over to his friends, he sat down with them and was introduced to Horatio's new girlfriend, Prudence.
"Horatio has told me so much about you," Prudence gushed. "I was so sorry to hear of your broken engagement. Heartbreak is always so ugly."
"I can't say I'm heartbroken," Lucius replied with a slight smile. "It was a mutual decision to end our engagement. Bellatrix and I decided that we weren't very well suited."
Even though Lucius had cancelled the engagement, he'd been happy to claim it was a mutual decision. It saved the Blacks further humiliation, and he didn't feel it was right to drag Bellatrix's private life into matters.
"You can tell us the truth, Lucius," Horatio urged. "Don't forget I know how fickle those damn Blacks can be. We won't judge you if Bella called the whole thing off."
"It was mutual," Lucius said sternly, throwing his friend a look that clearly warned him to drop it.
"So Lucius, have you set your sights on anyone new?" Nigel asked, eager to prevent an all-out argument between his two friends. Lucius and Horatio had always been prone to bickering, but these days it was happening even more frequently and Nigel got the distinct impression there was something more serious bubbling under the surface between the pair.
"No, not yet," Lucius replied, even as his grey eyes scanned the room for any signs of Narcissa. Sadly, it looked like the Blacks still hadn't made an appearance.
"Keeping an eye out for the ex, are you, Lucius?" Horatio chuckled. "I don't blame you. In your shoes, I wouldn't want to run into her for the first time since the split in public."
"Didn't you first see Narcissa at a party after she ended your engagement?" Nigel asked.
"We weren't engaged, we were engaged to be engaged," Horatio argued with a slight pout. "Besides, Narcissa has way more class than Bellatrix. She was never going to cause a public scene."
"And you think this Bellatrix woman might?" Prudence asked, her dark eyes glittering with anticipation of a bit of scandal.
"No, she won't," Lucius snapped. To be honest he didn't know what his ex was capable of, but he was desperately hoping that her upbringing would prevent her from causing a public scene when their paths did once again cross.
"It looks like we're about to find out," Horatio replied with a smirk. "Watch out Lucius, here comes Bella."
Casting his eyes towards the door to the room, Lucius spotted the Blacks arriving. He paid very little attention to Cygnus and Druella, and only spared Bellatrix a brief look, before focusing on Narcissa. As usual she was looking stunning, and was already the most desirable witch in the room. She was wearing a long, shimmering golden dress and her long blonde hair was lying loose around her shoulders. Lucius felt arousal flood his body at the sight of the lover he hadn't seen for weeks, and he was greatly relieved he was sitting down as not to embarrass himself.
"Which one is Bellatrix?" Prudence asked. "The golden goddess or the darkly dangerous looking one."
"Bella's the one in the black and red dress," Horatio supplied, unable to tear his eyes from the clingy dress that Bellatrix was wearing. It certainly left very little to the imagination, and it showed that Lucius had let a very sexy witch slip through his fingers.
"She looks cheap," Prudence hissed, well aware of where Horatio's attention was fixed.
"But Narcissa looks stunning," Nigel said wistfully.
Lucius frowned at his friend, suddenly remembering that Nigel had taken an interest in Narcissa. Not wanting his friend to go over to her and make an impression on her family, Lucius rose to his feet, grateful that his surge of arousal was now under control thanks to some deep breaths. Making an excuse, he left his friends and headed over to the family he'd almost married into, and with any luck still would, only via a different daughter.
The second he approached, Bellatrix snarled angrily and flounced off to grab a drink. Undaunted, Lucius warmly greeted Mr and Mrs Black and politely inquired about Narcissa's well-being. Since they were in public the Blacks were perfectly polite to Lucius, but as quickly as was suitable they made their excuses and left him alone with Narcissa.
"How are you?" Lucius asked quietly, ensuring he kept a discreet distance from his lover.
"Missing you," Narcissa replied with a slight smile. "I can't wait until we can be together."
"Neither can I," Lucius agreed. "Maybe after dinner we can have a dance."
"Initiating contact, are you?" Narcissa chuckled lightly.
"Something like that," Lucius returned with a smile. "Is that a yes?"
"It's a yes," Narcissa replied happily. "But I should go now. I can't be seen talking to you for very long. It'll look suspicious given what's happened between you and Bella."
"How is Bella?" Lucius asked. He hated having to ask Narcissa, but he did want to make sure she was doing okay, and he hadn't wanted to ask her parents since they were both aware that he was the one who'd ended their engagement and they might have gotten snappy with him.
"Barely at home," Narcissa answered with a worried frown. "I think she's getting further involved with that mad man, Lucius," she confided in a whisper.
"I was afraid of that, but I was never going to be able to prise her away from him," Lucius said with a sigh.
"At the end of the day it's her choice," Narcissa said with a slight shrug. "Let's hope it doesn't come back to bite her."
Aware that they were already pushing the limits of how long they could spend talking without people starting to talk, the pair went their separate ways. However as Narcissa got herself a drink and found some friends to talk to, and Lucius returned to his friends, neither of them noticed Bellatrix watching them with a murderous glint in her eyes. Even though she hadn't been able to hear a word that was said, the body language had spoken volumes and she was in no doubt that her sister and former fiancé were still involved with each other.
Unaware that Bellatrix was plotting her next move, Lucius and Narcissa enjoyed the first part of the evening. During dinner they were seated at different tables, but as the auction that followed the meal was about to begin, several people moved tables and they found themselves sitting at tables directly next to each other. When the auction did begin, neither of them were really fussed about proceedings as their fathers would be making bids and showing off their fortunes. Instead they sat making subtle eyes at each other, looking forward to the couple of minutes they could spend in each other's arms as they danced later in the evening.
Across the room, Bellatrix had been watching her sister and former fiancé, her anger rising with each passing minute. By halfway through the auction, Bellatrix was ready to move and when Abraxas placed the winning bid on a night in a luxury hotel in Paris, she rose to her feet and began to clap.
"Congratulations, Abraxas, what a wonderful prize," she sneered. "Too bad you don't have anyone to go to Paris with. I know, why don't you give it to your son. He can take his fiancée. Oh wait, he dumped me."
"Bellatrix, stop this now," Cygnus ordered in a low voice as he got to his feet. "Sorry, she's had a bit too much to drink," he added to the crowds in embarrassment.
"I have not had too much to drink," Bellatrix snapped. "And I think you're going to want to hear this next part, Daddy."
"Enough," Abraxas shouted as he too got to his feet. "Take her home Cygnus before she embarrasses you further."
"You're the one who's going to be embarrassed, Abraxas," Bellatrix warned.
"Do not threaten me, young lady," Abraxas warned in a growl.
"I'm not scared of you," Bellatrix spat. "I'm not scared of any Malfoy. Lest of all my cheating rat of an ex-fiancé. That's right everyone, Lucius was cheating on me. And do you want to know the best bit? Do you want to know what whore was spreading her legs for him? It was my baby sister, Narcissa."
As one the entire room turned to look at where Lucius and Narcissa were sitting. Bellatrix's revelation had come as such a surprise to both of them that they hadn't had time to hide their guilt and shock, and it was obvious to everyone in the room that Bellatrix was telling the truth.
"You bastard," Horatio yelled, taking a swing at Lucius and only missing because Nigel grabbed onto the back of his shirt. "That's why Narcissa wouldn't get engaged, because she was sleeping with you. You two timing little slapper," he hissed in Narcissa's direction.
"You speak to her like that again and I'll knock your teeth down your throat," Lucius warned in a menacing voice as he rose to his feet.
Taking hold of Narcissa, Lucius gently pulled her to her feet and making sure to keep himself slightly in front of her, he led her to the front of the room where their family was standing. By this point Druella was standing by her husband, mutely shaking her head from side to side in disbelief.
"Tell me this isn't true, Narcissa," Cygnus demanded of his youngest daughter.
"You can see its true," Bellatrix spat. "Just look at them, they've got no shame."
"This is not the time or the place," Abraxas muttered in a low voice as he shuffled uncomfortable under the curious stares of the other party-goers.
"You knew." Cygnus turned to face Abraxas, his eyes glaring accusingly at the blond wizard. "You knew your bastard of a son was seducing my poor innocent daughter, while preparing to marry her sister."
"Innocent?" Bellatrix squealed. "Cissy wasn't innocent. She's the whore who stole my fiancé."
"Bellatrix," Druella scolded, wincing at the profanity.
"Don't you dare," Bellatrix hissed. "Don't you dare choose her over me. I'm the injured party here. Narcissa is the one in the wrong, not me. That little cow stole my fiancé, and she hasn't even had the decency to apologise."
"I am sorry," Narcissa whispered. "I doubt this means anything to you, Bella, but we never meant to hurt you."
"If you never meant to hurt me you should have refrained from shagging my fiancé," Bellatrix spat. "And if you really had to sleep with him, you could have covered your tracks a bit better. It's rather cliché leaving jewellery in his bed for me to find."
"The bracelet," Narcissa muttered to herself as the pieces fell into place. She hadn't been able to find her bracelet for days, but when she'd seen Bellatrix with it she'd assumed she'd found it in her bedroom, when she really must have found it in Lucius's room at the manor.
"Yes, your bracelet led me to discover your sordid secret," Bellatrix crowed triumphantly. "And you know, I might have been able to forgive the pair of you. But then Lucius ended the engagement, and I knew the real reason why. It wasn't anything to do with how I spend my free time, it was because of you, Narcissa. He wouldn't marry me because he wanted you."
"I'm sorry Bella," Lucius offered.
"I don't want your apologies, Lucius," Bellatrix snarled. "In fact, I want nothing to do with you. Either of you," she added, glaring hatefully at her sister. "I've exposed you for the cheating scum you are, and I hope the pair of you rot in hell."
"I think we should take this elsewhere," Abraxas said, trying again to stop the public spectacle they were making, although he knew it was already too late to contain the scandal.
"I'm not going anywhere with those two," Bellatrix spat, pointing at Lucius and Narcissa. "And I will not be returning home, if she's there," she informed her parents. "It's time you chose. Me, who has done nothing wrong, or Cissy, who's being going behind my back and sleeping with the man who was going to be my husband."
"We really can't condone this, Narcissa," Druella said sternly. "You've disgraced the entire family."
"I know, and I'm sorry," Narcissa whispered.
"Sorry enough to give Lucius up?" Cygnus asked, trying desperately to give his daughter another chance, even though he wasn't sure she deserved one.
"No," Narcissa replied with a shake of her head. "I love him."
"Well, go on," Bellatrix urged her parents. "Disown the bitch."
"This is your final chance, Narcissa," Cygnus warned. "Leave Lucius and come with us and we can try and fix this. Of course you will have to move out and you'll lose your inheritance, but I can find you a suitable husband. Maybe a foreign wizard would have you."
"A foreign wizard will not bloody well have her," Lucius snarled. "Narcissa is mine. I love her and I intend to marry her."
"We will never accept this," Druella spat at her daughter. "If you chose him, you're dead to us."
"I have to choose Lucius, I love him," Narcissa replied quietly.
"Then we're done," Druella announced with a dramatic flourish of her hand. "Narcissa Black, you're no longer a daughter of ours."
"And you're no sister of mine," Bellatrix hissed. "Watch your back, Cissy, because I will never forget this. One day, I'll make you regret taking what's not yours."
"Daddy, please," Narcissa begged as both her mother and sister pushed past her to leave the room.
"I'm sorry, but you brought this on yourself," Cygnus said with a rueful shake of his head. "I hope he's worth it, Narcissa, because you've just lost everything."
With his head held high, Cygnus moved past the Malfoys and accompanied his wife and eldest daughter out of the room. At the sight of their departing backs, Narcissa broke down in Lucius's arms while whispers began to spread around the previously silent crowd. Aware that they were still the centre of attention, Abraxas clipped Lucius around the ear and ordered him to leave with him. Silently the two Malfoys, and a still weeping Narcissa, departed the evening and made their way back to the manor.
Knowing that Abraxas would be mad at him, Lucius hurriedly settled Narcissa in his bedroom before hurrying off to deal with his father. As expected Abraxas was fuming and Lucius was greeted by a glass narrowly missing hitting his head as he entered his father's study. For an hour he had to endure Abraxas lecturing him on the stain he'd placed on the family name, and how it was going to be his job to turn things around and return the Malfoys to the respectable pureblood family they'd been for generations.
"And Narcissa?" Lucius finally managed to ask.
"It looks like we have no choice but to keep her," Abraxas snapped, not bothering to hide his disapproval from his son. "She better be worth all of this fuss, Lucius."
"She is," Lucius vowed. "I love her father."
"I know you do," Abraxas admitted with a sigh. "And given the way she stood up to her family, I would say she loved you. But things are not going to be easy."
"I'm aware of that," Lucius said quietly. "And I'm sorry for what happened this evening, but I can't be sorry for loving Narcissa. I will never regret loving her."
Abraxas gave a sharp nod of understanding before dismissing his son. Returning to his private wing of the manor, Lucius found Narcissa had stopped crying and she was sitting curled up in the centre of his large bed, looking forlorn. Immediately she began to apologise for the trouble she'd caused, but Lucius quietened her with a kiss.
"This isn't your fault, Narcissa," Lucius assured her. "This may not have been the way we wanted things to go, but in a way Bella might have done us a favour. At least now we're together."
"Do you think we're going to last?" Narcissa asked in a small voice. After everything she'd just given up she wanted to be sure that Lucius still wanted her and thought they had a future together.
"Forever," Lucius answered confidently as he gave Narcissa another kiss. "This is only the beginning, Narcissa. We've got the rest of our lives ahead of us, and I for one can't wait to see what our future holds."
A/N – Thank you for reading and reviewing Tangled Web. I have to say I was a bit nervous about posting a story with a different pairing than my usual writing, but I've been thrilled with the support I've received.
As I said at the start of this story, Tangled Web marks the beginning of a new universe I plan of revisiting in future stories. In fact, I've already started work on a second story in this universe, and I have plans for more stories which will eventually lead back to my usual Dramione based stories. But for now this chapter of Lucius and Narcissa's story is over, and I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. I can't say when I will be back with more from this universe, but I will be back and next time will feature a few more familiar faces.
So thanks again for reading, and hopefully I'll see a lot of you soon when it's time for my next new story in a few weeks time.