She was certain that it was a woman, eating her son from the inside out. Drawing out his emotions and making him snappy and sensitive. Not that Lucius noticed, or probably anyone else. Her son was a fine actor. He would make a good Gambler, his cues were subtle and only someone who was finely tuned to his moods and expressions would notice the heavy strain on him. The stiffness in his shoulders on another boy might have been nervous fidgeting. The tightness at the corner of his mouth, even when he wore his customarily despising smirk, on someone else might have been shifty feet. He was wound tight and any time now she expected him to snap.

The boy was under an extreme amount of pressure. Much of it was self induced but his ridiculously high standards for himself were catalyzed by Lucius's high expectations of a Malfoy. She hated it when he would say "You're a Malfoy boy! Act like one." He was more than a Malfoy, he was her son. And now a woman had been added to the mix. By nature Draco was not often frustrated. Determined yes. But not often frustrated. But she could see it in his eyes, the brittle restlessness. His usual single mindedness that could be so overwhelming was dulled. As if the bulk of his formidable attention was elsewhere. It must be a woman.

The room was crowded with people, a breeding ground for germs and disease. She shuddered delicately. Lucius stood at the end of their table, looking over the throng of people with a cool look of superiority. No doubt where her son got his massive ego. Draco stood slightly apart from them with a knot of his friends. She didn't care for Crabbe and Goyle, but she could respect her son's need to Shepard them, give them guidance. Lord knew that they would never have made it a fortnight at Hogwarts without Draco's leadership. Their father being who he was they had been his cribmates, and her boy was nothing if not loyal.

He had other friends for intellectual challenge. Blaize Zambini who also stood with him, had a sharp clever mind. Other than the glaring exception of his two goons, her son surrounded himself with quick witted people. Oh and Pansy. She was a nice enough girl Narcissa decided, but she lacked something. She did nothing for her son. There was no spark with them. And Draco was as reserved and polite with the girl as he was with everyone else. It wasn't her. But someone was getting under his skin. Perhaps if the young woman was here today, she might get a glimpse of her.

IF she attended Hogwarts, she would be here. Dumbledore had thrown a great ball for the students and their families. To promote house unity and tolerance. Did the muggles know how hated they were by some here? She watched with great interest when something snagged his son's interest and he focused his attention on the door, Crabbe, who was speaking didn't even notice. They were small group of three. A girl and her parents.

Her son balanced on the balls of his feet and sent his friends away with a careless wave of his hand. They of course immediately obeyed. His overwhelming presence resulted in natural leadership. His eyes never left the girl as they made their way over to a small group of Weasleys. His mouth instantly turned up in his trademark sneer, but his mother's eyes were riveted to this girl, this young woman, this siren.

She was stunning, in muggle wear that draped her figure alluringly and fell gracefully to her feet. Her shape was trim and firm, with all of the proper curves to entice. Her face was delicate, clever, with wide chocolate eyes that sparkled up at her friends from even this distance. But it was her hair that held Narcissa's attention. It was nothing like her own silky locks. It was an amazing riotous river of bouncy shiny coffee colored curls, streaked with whorls of sun kissed blond and auburn. It was an entity of it's own that draped over her shoulders and down her slender back, throbbing with life and vitality.

She must have felt his eyes on her because she turned her head, glancing over her shoulder. Her eyes focused instantly on Draco, wide and expressive, a window to her very soul. Her friend spoke to her twice, before she turned away and back to her conversation. When one of the Weasley boys slipped his arm around her willowy shoulders in a way that screamed familiarity, the delicate glass in Draco's hand shattered with the force of his grip.

Narcissa tisked reproachfully as she drew her wand in one hand, taking Draco's hand in the other. She ignored the headmaster's call for silence and muttered gentle healing spells quietly watching the blood well up as cuts healed. She wiped the blood clean with a pure silk handkerchief, emblazoned with the Malfoy crest. Both Malfoy's ignored Dumbledore's warm words of greeting and urges for unity, until he uttered words that made her son go ridged as a board.

"And now to start us off I'd like our school heads to share a dance. Hermione Granger and Draco Malfoy."

There was a split second while her son gathered his ever present composure, and then his eyes met hers across the room. Hermione was her name, and she was head girl. Apparently she had the intelligence to match her beauty. No wonder he was enchanted.

Draco met her in the middle, the music fired up around them. She took his hand without hesitation and immediately fell into his long sweeping steps as if she had danced with him a hundred times.

To the untrained eye it was a customary dance. Formal in the way of the wizarding world. Just an elegant waltz. But Narcissa had seen her son dance with many women. He had been schooled in the art from a very young age by the very best tutors. He held even his many girlfriends at a ridged distance, danced with a refined formality that was almost cold. He held this girl only three inches from his body, guiding her flawlessly through a set of stylish steps that resulted it her legs brushing his. His hand rested at the small of her back, their hands held close to their bodies. His eyes never left hers for a moment.

She seemed to melt into his touch as he whirled her around the floor. Their movements were in perfect sync. Her hips swayed in time with his creating a subtle intimacy that the rest of the room seemed to miss. Narcissa's eyes zeroed in on the girls mother across the room and was not surprised to find the other woman's face scrunched in thought, her eyes narrowed in contemplation. No, she wasn't the only one who saw it.

"It's disgraceful." Her husband hissed at her side, handing her a glass of wine which she sipped delicately. "Letting a lowborn mudblood like her take the most prestigious honor at Hogwarts, and then demanding my son lower himself to dance with her. That Dumbledore is an old…"

His voice trailed off at her cold stare. When she was certain that she had set Lucius off balance and had his full attention she finally spoke, setting her voice to the lowest chill she could muster.

"Lucius, you will never speak that way about my future daughter in law again. Do you understand me?"

He had no reply for her. He had feinted dead away.