Tainted Love

(dedicated to Stephanie & Margaret)

Disclaimer: J. K. Rowling and Warner Bros. own all recognisable characters and storylines.

Summary: Lucius Malfoy is a cruel, ruthless and powerful man. How did a cunning, power-hungry Narcissa get her claws into him, and then go on to save him from Azkaban? This is a Lucius/Narcissa story, which recounts my version of their life together.

N/B: Written in UK-English. Readers are reminded that this fanfic was written before the publication of 'Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix'.

A/N: I've never written a HP fic before (eek) but I am a big fan of the books. Reviews, feedback and constructive criticism are always very much appreciated. Enjoy!

Tainted Love

Chapter One: Ministers & Memories

The Manor was situated in the heart of the Cotswolds. Its sprawling grounds covered just over a hundred acres of lush English countryside. The house had rich, honey-coloured walls that were built from ancient sandstone and which had stood solid for centuries. Tall windows glinted in the summer sun and allowed light to flood into the interior of the building. Formal gardens skirted the house and led down to a languid river, while a wilder copse encircled the edges of the property. The house and its grounds were picturesque in both style and setting. So it was perhaps a pity that the beauty of the house was at such odds with the nature of its owners.

At one of the grand windows stood a woman. She was tall and slim, and her fair hair was swept back elegantly from her face. Oddly, her hands were clenched tightly at her sides and a vicious scowl rested on her face. She was looking out onto the flowering garden, but she did not seem to see the scene before her eyes. A timid knock sounded on the door to the room, causing the woman's cold grey gaze to flicker away from the window.

"What is it?" Her voice was well trained; she had long ago learnt to heighten its pitch, to clip her consonances and accentuate her vowels.

"There's a man from the Ministry here to see you, ma'am." The maid was new, and trembling visibly.

"Well, show him in then," hissed her mistress.

The young girl turned tail and rushed back out of the room, only to reappear a few moments later, but this time a wizard in ruffled robes was following her. An awful, strained atmosphere filled the room instantly.

"Mr Weasley, to what do I owe the pleasure?" asked the woman, barely able to keep the contempt from her voice.

"Mrs Malfoy," said Arthur Weasley with a forced smile as he tipped his pointy hat. "I wonder, is Lucius at home?"

"No," sniffed Narcissa Malfoy, "he is not, but I'll be sure to tell him that you called when he does get back."

"Ah," said Mr Weasley hesitantly, "well never mind, we'll just have to go ahead without him," he sounded disappointed. Narcissa raised one fine eyebrow suspiciously. "I have a warrant from the Misuse of Muggle Artifacts Office," Mr Weasley continued, as he pulled a roll of parchment from beneath his cloak, "authorising me to search your house for any illegal items."

"Again?" snarled Narcissa acidly. "Really, I would have thought that the Ministry had better things to do with its time." Arthur Weasley went slightly red around the ears, but cleared his throat and recovered admirably.

"Shall we make a start then?"

"Do as you wish," Narcissa sighed carelessly. She settled herself down on a cushioned window seat, which she had previously been standing beside. "I obviously have no power to stop you."

"Very well then," shrugged Mr Weasley. He turned and eagerly left the room to start his search.

Narcissa watched him go and then sat very still. Her hands rested on top of her claret-coloured skirt, while she fiddled absently with her platinum wedding band. She could soon hear Arthur Weasley's footsteps in the room above her; she followed the sound with her eyes, then blinked and forced herself to remain calm. He wouldn't find anything. Not up there at least.

Narcissa let her eyes wander around the room, which among the family was known as the small study. She was trying to occupy her troubled mind, but she bit down on her lip when her piercing gaze immediately fell on the blue fire that was burning in the ornate hearth. It was giving off a pleasantly cool air, to combat the stuffy summer warmth, but something about it obviously unnerved her. She ran her fingers distractedly through her hair and unintentionally pulled a few blonde strands free of their pins before she managed to tug her eyes away from the fireplace.

A large mahogany bookshelf lined one entire wall of the small study. It looked disappointingly ordinary, apart from the fact that the books would occasionally rearrange themselves. Sighing in irritation Narcissa stood up and walked across to the bookshelf. She bent down and picked up a tatty little book that had just been jostled out of place and knocked to the floor by its fellows. As she read the title, "Advanced Curses" by Dr Sesruc, a thin smile transformed her face.

She had been seventeen and half way through her last year at Hogwarts when she'd first made him notice her. Lucius was five years her senior and had never paid her a second's worth of attention while he'd been attending the school, but then he had been in his sixth year when Narcissa started Hogwarts, and what sixteen-year-old would notice a child of eleven?

It was a very old, unoriginal trick that Narcissa had employed. She had been walking back to her Slytherin dormitory with an armful of books when she'd spotted him. She hadn't seen Lucius Malfoy for five whole years, but she knew him instantly. He was unmistakable. He was with his father and another young man who she didn't then know. This young man and Malfoy Senior were talking rather animatedly, while Lucius was lazily scanning the school corridor.

Much later that day, as Narcissa sat alone in the Slytherin common room she would wonder why she'd done it; it was just that she couldn't imagine having not done something. She didn't know what it would lead to, if it would even lead anywhere, she simply knew that men such as Lucius Malfoy were powerful, and she was drawn to that power like a moth to a flame.

The corridor wasn't empty, if it had been then she never would have done it; to do so would have been terribly vulgar. She hadn't quite reached her intended audience when she accidentally knocked into a second year rushing the opposite way and let her books tumble to the stone floor. A swift, sharp glare at her ignorant assistant ensured that he didn't try to help her, but it seemed her ploy had failed, for the seconds ticked by and no one else came to her aid either.

Feeling rather foolish and very embarrassed she scooped up her books and hurried along the corridor and around the nearest corner. In her hast she'd taken the wrong turning, and unless she wanted to retrace her journey back passed the Malfoys she would be forced to climb up to the next floor before being able to get back down to the dungeons. Cursing her own stupidity as she went she began to make her way towards the stone staircase when a drawling voice made her stop.

"You dropped this."

Narcissa straightened her back and turned around slowly; Lucius Malfoy was standing in the dim corridor, watching her through narrowed eyes and holding a small, leather-bound book in one hand. Without a word she made her way back to where he was standing, taunting her with the book.

"Well, well. 'Advanced Curses'?" he read off the cover, and a derisive smile was playing on his face as his icy blue eyes travelled back to her face. Her stomach twisted; she knew he knew what she'd been playing at. "Has Hogwarts actually started teaching the Dark Arts?"

"I hardly think you need to ask," replied Narcissa, her humiliation made her strangely bold, for she could hardly make things any worse! He tilted his head thoughtfully.

"And have you anyone in particular in mind?" he asked. He was mocking her now, and she hated to be mocked!

"Yes, actually," she snapped, her lip curling. She took the book from him sharply and turning away. He continued to watch her with mild curiosity as she began to climb the stairs.

"You didn't tell me your name," he called, after a moment's contemplation. She stopped and glanced down at him, an annoyingly smug smile was teasing her mouth.

"You didn't ask for it."

"Well, everything seems to be in order."

Narcissa blinked sharply and span around to find Mr Weasley standing before her. She tried very hard not to glance at the fireplace and alert him to the fact that he'd failed to search the very room they were in, but she soon noticed that he wasn't paying her very much attention, he looked rather cross and very disappointed.

"In that case perhaps you will manage not to visit us for a few months at least?" Narcissa hissed tartly. Mr Weasley cleared his throat and straightened his untidy robes.

"Yes, well-" he muttered. "I'd better be going."

Narcissa nodded coolly, placed the book back on its shelf and quickly ushered Arthur Weasley out of the small study and then down the main hallway to the front door.

Evening was just beginning to draw in as Narcissa pushed open the huge oak door. Mr Weasley stepped outside, tipped his hat once again, pulled out his wand and then Disapparated without another word.

Narcissa hesitated for a moment, and then she too stepped outside onto the gravely terrace in front of the Manor. She didn't stop, but kept on walking. Her long skirt rustled around her while the gravel crunched beneath her feet. She passed through a gap in the ornamental stonewall, which separated the terrace from a huge length of lawn that gently sloped all the way down to the river.

It took a good ten minutes to walk all the way down to the edge of the river, but only when she reached its banks did Narcissa stop. She stared down into the flowing water, and saw the blue, cloudless evening sky reflected there.

"There is a storm brewing," she muttered pensively.

It had been bothering her for several days now. She was no Seer, but something was coming. Something big. But just how big? She couldn't be sure…

A man shrouded in black stood on the terrace in front of the Manor. He was silently watching the distant feminine figure, outlined in red, which was down by the waterside. His frosty gaze shifted to a wooden footbridge that was just a few feet from his wife's side. It had been a present from his father to his mother, given to her the year before her death. Lucius hated it. It led to open fields and meadows, to the world outside, and symbolised the path that his treacherous mother had bolted down.

She had been no match for her husband, or indeed her son. She had been a puppet of the Malfoy family for most of her life. Too timid, too foolish to be anything else. When she had endured all that she could bear she had tried to escape. But Lucius' father had found her, not because he loved her, not because he wanted her, but because in his eyes she belonged to him. He had dragged her back, kicking and screaming, literally, and built the bridge as a constant reminder. He could never forgive and won't let any of them forget.

Lucius had been in his final year at Hogwarts for the last year of his mother's life. He sometimes wondered whether he would have helped her had been at home? As a young man of eighteen he could already equal his father's power and cunning. Would he then have protected his mother? He honestly didn't know. Betrayal such as hers was just too great a crime, and so the bridge still stood, a niggling thorn in his side. Lucius would have dearly liked to have had it torn down years ago, but Narcissa loved to sit by the river, and cross it to walk in the meadows beyond…and besides, he reasoned as his mouth formed a thin conceited smile, he knew that she couldn't bolt.