She was here.
Lucius Malfoy closed his eyes and took a deep breath, both to compose himself and to savor the way that the very air around him changed in her presence. It was like finally breathing again after being underwater too long, like food to a man starving. He lived for her visits, even as he hated them.
"You shouldn't be here, Narcissa," he said flatly. "I told you not to come." And he had, several times. She was the one bright spot in his existence, but he hated knowing what these visits did to her spirits, knowing the indignities she suffered to get to him. Knowing, as he did better than anyone, how repulsive it was to enter this horrible place, even if you had the prospect of leaving again. There were days he thought he would go mad with it, the ceaseless march of identical days with only the thought of seeing her again to cling to.
She shook her head slightly, a hint of a smile on her lips. "You always say that. It makes a girl feel unwelcome." She undid the clasp at her throat that held her robe closed, sliding out of it smoothly as she moved towards him. There wasn't much time, and he resented that bitterly, resented that he was cheated out of being able to slowly undress his wife.
He watched her lie down, her body shining and almost achingly clean next to the filthy rags that he slept on. She shouldn't be here, shouldn't be exposed to this filth and crudity... But he was completely incapable of forcing her to stay away, because her presence was all he wanted.
His hand shook as he reached for her, then hesitated. He couldn't profane her that way, couldn't touch her purity with his stained hands. His fingers hovered above her cheek until she took his hand, crushing it against her lips as she bathed it with kisses and tears.
"Lucius..." Her voice was broken as she stretched her arms to him, and he couldn't deny her, couldn't deny himself.
His arms reached around her and he held on tightly, afraid for a moment that this might be another fevered dream, and he would wake up all the more alone for having caught a remembered glimpse of her. Her head fit perfectly into the crook of his neck, as it always had, and she was sobbing now, her body shaking as her arms gripped him painfully tight.
"Shhh, it's all right, I'm here, everything is fine," he murmured, rocking slightly as he held her. He patted her back with long, smooth strokes, kissed her hair and temples and forehead, all the while still murmuring, nonsense that they could pretend to believe for the short amount of time they had together.
She turned to him blindly, her lips meeting his with a desperation that he matched. Soon her hands were in his hair and she was pulling him down, settling his weight over her and running frantic hands over the fastenings of his clothes.
"Lucius..." she groaned as she ran her hands over his chest, the texture rough against her pampered fingers. "Oh, Lucius, I've missed you so."
And just like that, the fragile thread of his control was broken. He tugged at his own clothes, further tearing the disgusting rags that had once been the finest tailoring money could buy. He had thought, once upon a time, that he knew what desperation was. In the different world of his past, when he had known the unimaginable luxury of a fully busy day, he had used to think that he couldn't long more for his wife than he did when stuck in meeting after endless meeting, with no relief in sight.
He'd been wrong, so very wrong, and even if the dementors were gone there were days when he thought he would go mad with the idleness that left the days to be filled endlessly with longing. Only knowing she would come made the days bearable, the hours and minutes and seconds like sandpaper as they crawled past.
He lived in terror that one day she would come to her senses, would stop coming to visit him and instead move on with her life, leaving him with nothing. The thought made him clutch her closer and he shuddered as her open mouth met the skin of his neck.
Finally he managed to scramble out of the last of his clothes, throwing them aside ruthlessly as he returned to be cradled in her arms and legs and bosom. Lucius allowed himself a moment to close his eyes and just enjoy a moment of the perfect comfort that could only be found in Narcissa's body, the feel of her skin and the smell of her perfume making the reality of the prison cell melt away.
"I love you," he breathed out as he maneuvered himself to sink into her. She smiled and then closed her eyes as he thrust against her, her chest rising and falling rapidly as her breath quickened. "Narcissa, open your eyes."
She obeyed, looking at him with those crystal blue eyes that had caught his attention the first time he saw them, turning a dull society party into an unforgettable evening. He kept moving in her, slowly and steadily, as her loving gaze locked with his. Her hands reached up to toy with his hair and he dipped his head down to kiss her, leisurely, before starting to up the tempo.
"Please, Lucius, more," she murmured as she brought her legs up to wrap around his. He nuzzled the curve of her neck even as he sped up, thrusting into her harder and faster as she clutched him close to her and whispered praise and encouragement and love. He
waited until her nails were sinking into his shoulder and her muscles spasming around him before he gave way to his own release, muffling the urge to howl his pleasure by burying it in her skin, so that for a single moment, all that he was poured into her.
They lay still for several minutes, his weight heavy on her as she held him tightly. Finally, the silence was broken by Lucius saying flatly, "You're pregnant."
She nodded slightly, her hand going to cover the very slight curve that her stomach had developed. "I was...distracted, the last time I made a batch of contraceptive potion. Apparently I left out the flobberworms."
Lucius pulled himself off of his wife and started gathering her clothing. "You'll have to stop coming here."
"No!" She glared at him fiercely, prompting his lips to quirk in the familiar half-smile that those who didn't know him as well as she did called a smirk. "If you dare to suggest that this baby isn't yours, I'll make the Cruciatus look like child's play."
He raised his eyebrow and looked at her with unreserved amusement. "I was merely pointing out that this is hardly the environment for a pregnant woman, let alone the next Malfoy." His smile turned mocking as he said quietly, "Not that I would blame you if you had chosen to move on."
"Really, Lucius, self-pity is so tiresome." She looked at him archly and allowed him to help her sit up.
He smiled crookedly as he started to dress her. "I'll never understand you. Any decent Slytherin would have cut their losses and abandoned a convicted criminal without a second thought."
"There's still more benefit to keeping you than otherwise." He finished smoothing her knickers into place and she smiled coolly as he lowered the hem of her robe to the ground. "Draco sends his love."
Lucius made a noise that in a less elegant man would have been called a snort. "Is that why he never visits?"
Narcissa looked at him reprovingly as he finished re-pinning her hair. "He doesn't visit because he thinks you don't want him to."
There was a knock on the door, indicating their time was almost up. He pulled her into his arms, ignoring his own nakedness to get these last precious seconds of the feeling of her. She was crying again, her cheek damp against his chest as he rested his chin on her hair and tried not to do the same.
"Time's up," called the jailer from the open door. "Sorry, missus."
"Please, Earnest, just one more minute?" Narcissa's eyes were huge and pleading as she looked at the burly guard, and it made Lucius burn with fury that she should be in the position to humiliate herself that way.
The loutish guard looked nervous, but said, "Only a minute, mind, or it'll be my neck in the noose."
He pulled the door shut again and Lucius looked at Narcissa quizzically as she pulled herself out of his arms. She wiped the last of her tears away and stood very straight, looking every inch the doyenne of pureblood society. "The girl wants to see you."
"I see," said Lucius, although he didn't. He was in Azkaban, brought low, humiliated, without a shred of dignity, let alone power. She had his son, and through him she had his wealth, and she had power now, even more than he had had once. What more could Ginny Weasley want? "Did she say why?"
Narcissa shook her head. "Only that she'd prefer if it could be before the wedding."
A muscle ticked in Lucius's jaw as he thought it over. "Very well, provided it does not lessen the amount of time you are allowed to spend here."
She nodded regally as the door opened again, and she followed the guard out without question. "Until next month, Lucius."
He watched until she was gone, then eyed his scattered garments in distaste before putting them on and starting to count the minutes until he saw her again.
It was about 12,000 minutes later, give or take an eternity, before he was led, manacled and hobbled, into a small room with tiny windows set near the ceiling. He'd been allowed to wash, his skin prickling from the strangeness of being completely clean for once, instead of the best he could do with water saved from his mealtimes. His face showed no flicker of the surprise he felt at seeing that the room only contained two chairs, a small table, and Ginny Weasley. He'd have expected her to have her faltering steps led by her brother, the Minister, or heroic Potter, or even his own son. Instead she was seated there calmly, her back straight, her wand placed neatly in front of her on the table.
"Thank you, we'll be alright now." She smiled at the guards and they nodded and left, leaving Lucius very confused indeed. Convicted criminals being allowed alone with anyone was rare, but with a wand in the vicinity? Unheard of.
She turned her smile on Lucius and said, "Thank you for agreeing to meet with me, Mister Malfoy. Or should it be 'my lord'?"
"My dear Miss Weasley, as it seems we are to be related, there is no need to be so formal. You may call me Lucius... Or father, if you prefer." He raised an eyebrow and smirked as he thought of what Arthur Weasley would think of that.
"I believe we'll stay with Lucius for now. You may call me Ginny," she said, still smiling faintly. "Unless, of course, you prefer 'muggle-loving gold-digger'."
He was hard pressed not to laugh at the unexpectedness. "There are many reasons for you marrying my son, but I don't believe that money is one of them, or social climbing." The tilt of his head and the sneer on his lips were pure Malfoy as he continued, "It would be too... Slytherin."
"Or possibly Ravenclaw." She sat back in her chair and looked him over. "After all, Slytherins are capable of allowing emotion to interfere with logic."
He smiled at the stiff way she held herself. "I had thought noble Gryffindors believed that the foul Slytherins had no emotions not rooted in evil."
She smiled back, the slyness of it making Lucius reassess some of his assumptions. "Noble Gryffindors, perhaps. I wouldn't know, not being one."
"Come now. Ginny Weasley, friend to Harry Potter, the girl who brought Draco Malfoy to the side of the angels, the girl who risked her life in order to ply her healing skills on the battlefield, even managing to save the life of the sainted Dumbledore?" Lucius allowed himself a contemptuous sneer. "You're so noble, it's a wonder ordinary mortals are allowed in your presence."
She didn't react to his sneer, ignoring it where grown men had been known to cower. "You forgot taunting the Dark Lord into a frenzy to allow Harry time to get back up and kill him."
"Just so," he said, inclining his head gracefully. "Which begs the question of why this paragon is visiting someone like me."
Ginny turned cool eyes at him and he thought he could see a glimmer of why his son was insane about this girl, despite her violently ginger hair and grotesque freckles. "Perhaps it's due to family sentiment."
They sat in silence for a minute, re-taking each other's measure. At length, she said, "Do you know why it is that you're still here?"
"I'm a horrible, evil man is what I'm given to understand," Lucius said calmly. "Do give your mother my compliments on such a descriptive turn of phrase."
"I would suggest that you leave my mother out of this," Ginny said, her nostrils flaring with the first visible crack in the cool façade she'd maintained since he'd entered. "You are here on my say-so, and mine alone."
Lucius's eyes narrowed. He had wondered why it was that none of his money or influence had had the slightest effect on his incarceration. Every move made by his lawyers or his more shady representatives had been countered, and he had thought to wonder which of his enemies would have that kind of power, influence, and cleverness, but not enough to finish him completely.
"I could have had you murdered, of course, or simply allowed the guard on you to be lowered so that someone else would do it." She gave him a look that seemed vastly familiar somehow, and he tried to think of why. "You're a popular man. There've been fifteen attempts thus far."
"One does what one can," he shrugged. "And yet, none of this explains why you are here today."
She looked a bit dreamy and it suddenly struck Lucius that the last time he had seen that look, it was worn by a jumped-up half-blood named Tom Riddle, whose charisma had seemed at first to be eminently suited to furthering Malfoy ideals. By the time his underlying madness was apparent, self preservation dictated compliance until a way to rectify the mistake was found. "Do you know, I took a great deal of satisfaction in keeping you locked away? I thought that death would be too simple for a man that I hated so much."
"Past tense, Miss Weasley?" Lucius was holding himself very still, ruthlessly tamping down the primitive part of his nature that wanted to leap across the table and use the chain holding his manacles together to wring her scrawny little neck.
"Your wife and son love you very much," she said calmly. "And yet you also saw nothing wrong in giving that diary to a defenseless eleven year old girl."
He wasn't sure what he would have said; an apology, an explanation, or even something rudely defiant were possibilities. He didn't get a chance, however, as she continued, "On the other hand, that experience shaped who I am today. From my interest in healing to my being with Draco, and even to my having the wit to decide when and how much to risk during the war, all can be attributed to the diary, and by extension, you."
"Very touching, but I'm afraid that at present I have no place suitable for displaying medals." She let out a sharp bark of laughter and he sat back in his chair, looking as if the chains binding him were simply the latest fashion for the discerning corporate wizard. "Do forgive me for pressing, but perhaps we might come to the point soon?"
She pushed the wand across the table and he realized with a start that it was his own, which he had thought was broken upon his entering Azkaban. "I am prepared to make you an offer."
"I'm listening," Lucius said, trying not to stare at how close to his reach the wand lay.
"In three weeks, I'm going to become a Malfoy. Narcissa's pregnancy made me think about the Malfoy name and what I want it to mean for my children." She looked him over and sneered in a way that reminded him eerily of his mother. "You are currently a blot to it."
He waited, wanting to see what this surprising girl had in mind. She placed her palms flat on the table and leaned forward. "You can kill me now. You'll get caught, and killed, and the Malfoy name will be disgraced forever. Or, you can go free."
"On what conditions?" He didn't allow himself to hope, didn't dare to. There had to be a catch.
"Be a credit to the Malfoy name. You don't have to go out and kiss muggle babies, but given current political realities, working overtly to kill muggle-borns or even being identified publicly with that cause is a bad idea." She leaned back slightly and looked at him expectantly.
Lucius wasn't sure yet whether to believe this offer was real. "What, no demands for cooperating with the Minister's quest and naming Death Eaters? Not even a bit of public sackcloth and ashes?"
She smirked. "Your personal public relations will be up to you, provided you're not an embarrassment." Ginny took her own wand out of her robes and used it to remove his restraints.
As he was rubbing his wrists, she looked him directly in the eye and said, "Of course, if you do prove a liability, I won't hesitate to have you eliminated."
He picked up his wand, the weight of it familiar and comforting in his hand. Deliberately, he raised it and pointed it at his prospective daughter-in-law. She didn't flinch, just stared back with unreadable eyes. After several moments of each measuring and calculating their opponent, Lucius flicked his wand and a parchment appeared on the table. "The names of all Death Eaters of note, details of each one's levels of involvement, and all the contingency plans I know of in case of Voldemort's demise."
Her eyes flickered over the parchment as he said, "I trust you will use the information well."
"I'll make sure Percy knows who to thank. It'll be useful, having the Minister on your side." She tucked the parchment away in her robes and stood.
Lucius's curiosity for the better of him, and he said, "What would you have done, Miss Weasley, if I had tried to kill you?"
A grin split her face and she looked like a mischievous child instead of the controlled ice queen she had been for the majority of the interview. "I've got so many wards up, you wouldn't even have gotten close. It would've either rebounded on you and killed you or just dissipated, leaving you to rot in that cell forever."
"How very underhanded of you," Lucius said admiringly.
"I owe it all to you." She had waited for him at the door and he held his arm out on joining her. As she threaded her arm through his, she winked and added, "Father."
He laughed. Perhaps, after all, his son had chosen well. He was free, would be a father again soon, and a grandfather many times over if the Weasley fertility proved true. The world stretched out before him once again and the future of the Malfoys boded well. "Do you know, Ginny, you remind me distinctly of my mother?"
This fic is dedicated to the great and lovely Kirixchi, whom I met when I went into total fangirl adoration mode for her fanfic, "Fathers. Husbands. Lovers. Sons.". Without her, I would still be putting Lucius Malfoy firmly in the 'two dimensional villain for use as needed' box. This fic specifically was written in exchange for a cute and funny fic that I requested from her, which I'll be pimping as soon as she deems it ready for publication.