Disclaimer: If you think I own Harry Potter you are either very, very flattering or very, very stupid. Or possibly you've spotted me trying on a blonde wig for Halloween and were very drunk. Whichever reason is yours, you are incorrect.
In all his life, Lucius didn't remember being so annoyed.
Not only had that idiotic little Weasley girl escaped the clutches of Lord Voldemort unscathed, not only had that bearded, muggle-loving git Albus Dumbledore returned to the school despite his best efforts, not only was he facing eminent dismissal from the board of directors, and not only had that goggly eyed, facially disfigured little twerp that Draco hated managed to escape the King of Serpents, but now he was also in trouble with his wife.
Frankly, he would rather have been in trouble with a Hungarian Horntail. At least with the Horntail he could throw a curse or two and run for it; with Narcissa he was stuck pretending to be brave.
"Would you care to repeat that?" Narcissa asked quietly. She was sitting, cross-legged in an armchair by the fire. The firelight danced off her long golden hair, and off the floor-length black silk dressing gown she wore. Narcissa looked quite thoroughly ravishing. Or she would have, had she not worn an expression not unlike her sister Bellatrix would've worn if she'd been invited to brunch with a Muggle Rights activist and Ronald McDonald.
Lucius had been looking forward to coming home after his horrid day and having her comfort him. Walking in on her as she wore nothing but a silk dressing gown had hardly lessened his desire for 'comfort'. She had, at first, seemed more than willing to acquiesce this urge of his. She'd sent for a bottle of eighteen-year-old malt whisky to be sent up for him, pulled him out of his heavy over-robes sat him by the fire with a drink, and told him to tell her everything. Lucius had been more than willing to oblige. Every word he shared with her seemed to lessen the weight that had been constricting his chest all evening. Even when she quite clearly disagreed with his actions ("You did what to the Weasley girl? For God's sake Lucius! She's eleven! A filthy blood-traitor, yes, but a filthy eleven-year-old blood-traitor nonetheless."), she still managed to make him feel better about the outcome of it all ("You mean to tell me that Albus Dumbledore's pet bird is more potent against the Dark Lord than he is? Well I must say, I'm not wholly surprised…"). She was, without a doubt, his angel of mercy in the entire affair.
By the time his sorry tale was nearly complete, Lucius was feeling very much relaxed. He was even starting to see the humour in certain aspects, and fully expected to feel a thousand times better by the time he went to sleep. Alas, it was not to be.
As Narcissa occupied her armchair like it was some sort of throne and pinned him with a look of sheer fury, Lucius was made very aware of the fact that his wand had been in his outer-robes. The outer-robes which Narcissa had removed. The outer-robes which were on the opposite side of the room.
Lucius took a deep breath. "I took the diary from him, only to find that it had been placed inside a filthy sock. Covered in blood, ink, sweat, venom and heaven knows what else." he said, wrinkling his nose and praying that such a foul image would distract his wife from her rage.
No such luck. Narcissa's eyes narrowed dangerously. "Yes Lucius, I was quite clear on that part of the narration." she informed him, her voice like ice. "The part I am less clear on, is what precisely you did with the sock in question."
"I cast the thing aside of course." he said flippantly. "I was hardly going to keep it as a memento, was I?"
"You cast it aside." Narcissa repeated slowly. Lucius was disheartened to note that she looked no less imposing. "And then?"
Lucius cleared his throat and made to stand up. "Really Narcissa I hardly think this is-"
"Sit down Lucius." she commanded.
He did so, cringing. It occurred to him that even the Dark Lord had been forced to put a bit more effort into controlling him than his wife did. Granted, he'd never had the Cruciatus curse administered to him by Narcissa, but her methods of punishment were much more personal, much more painful, and felt for much longer after the fact. Indeed, looking at her now, he thought she could have offered Lord Voldemort lessons on how to look intimidating; as Lucius sincerely doubted that the Dark Lord could look that frightening in a dressing gown.
Pushing aside that slightly upsetting mental image, Lucius turned his attentions back to the matter at hand.
"Am I correct in assuming that the House Elf caught the aforementioned sock?" Narcissa queried.
"Er… well, kind of." Lucius stated, sounding like an eight-year-old child caught with his hand in the biscuit tin.
"Kind of?" Narcissa said. "Kind of? How, pray tell, can you 'kind of' catch something Lucius? Surely the creature either caught the sock or did not catch the sock. Which is it?"
"The um… first one." Lucius admitted.
Narcissa clasped her hands together in front of her. On anyone else, the gesture would appear almost prayer like. On her, it was exceedingly obvious that she had only done it to prevent herself reaching for her wand. "I see." she acknowledged. Any trace of kindness or coquettish understanding had evaporated from her voice. As had any hopes Lucius had formerly held about being 'comforted'. "Am I also correct in assuming that the elf you took with you was the very one whose presence Albus Dumbledore requested?"
He was very tempted to respond with a deeply sarcastic 'No it was part of the thirty-strong House Elf entourage I have follow me around everywhere'. Had it been almost anyone else, he would have. However it was more than his appendages were worth to say such a thing to his wife in her current mood. "It was." he admitted with a nod.
Narcissa's lips were now very thin and she had tented her fingertips. The firelight had ceased make her look alluring, now lending her an ominous air. "Lucius," she said sweetly. "When I first met you, we had rather a lot of disagreements. One of those disagreements was your opinion of House Elves. Now, whilst I do not deny that the creatures are little more than vermin, they are useful. Do you deny this?"
It wasn't a question. It may have sounded like one, but if Lucius had any intention of getting within twenty metres of his wife again then he knew how he was supposed to answer. "No Narcissa." he said contritely.
"No. I didn't think you would. Few can argue the usefulness of a House Elf." she said contemplatively. Narcissa got to her feet and walked over to her dressing table. She picked up a hairbrush and began combing out her long golden hair with it. Lucius watched her go with a feeling of dread. "I was fond of that elf." she said in a would-be casual tone. "Very fond indeed. I spent a great deal of time and effort educating it on my preferences. Whilst it was a high-pitched, subservient, little runt with no real power, it certainly had some measure of personality. Indeed, it was the only house elf in the Manor that one could actually converse with and expect to get a vaguely relevant response."
She shook out her hair. Lucius thought she was being a bit overly-sentimental about the Elf, but he'd be damned if he'd say so out loud. And he meant that literally: She would damn him. He was sure of it.
"Yes. I liked that elf." Narcissa said to herself. She spun to face him, hands on hips. "And you lost him." she announced.
Lucius sprang to his feet, highly affronted. "Come on Cissa, it was hardly my fault!" he exclaimed. "Potter tricked me!"
Narcissa's eyes narrowed again. "I hardly think that being outsmarted by a twelve-year-old is something you should brag about, Lucius." she remarked.
"But… So far as we know, Dumbledore instructed him the entire time!" Lucius said desperately. There were very few people that Lucius specifically wanted to think highly of him, but the thought of Narcissa thinking so little of him cut him to the quick for some reason. His response hardly helped his case, however.
"Somehow I doubt that Dumbledore cared for anything more than the continued well-being of the Potter boy." she stated, not unreasonably. "No, Lucius, I would bet good money that it was Potter and Potter alone you were dealing with. And somehow, you still came off the worse." she cocked her head. "Now, while it is hardly an anecdote you should share at cocktail parties, being outsmarted by Harry Potter is not quite as insulting as being outsmarted by some random muggle-born, for example." Narcissa said judiciously.
Lucius supposed she had a point. Potter had defeated the Dark Lord from the cradle, after all. Comparatively speaking, being defeated by a twelve-year-old wasn't too terribly humiliating. Hell, Potter had even beaten Draco at Quidditch. Something Lucius refused to believe could have occurred in a fair match.
He nodded to show his agreement.
Narcissa also nodded in response. "So now the question is not so much about how you lost me my favourite House Elf, but rather what you intend to do to get him back to me." she said, continuing in the same depressingly equitable tone which belied the fierce glint in her eyes.
Lucius felt his jaw drop. He took two steps towards his wife and attempted to search for some sign of humour on her face. There was none. "You-you can't be serious." he stammered. "Get that little- that worthless- that Kitchen Rat to come back here? You must be joking. Surely, you're joking."
"Do I look like I'm joking, Lucius?" she inquired.
"But… but it… It's just a House Elf!" he snapped. "Why can't you just train another one?"
Narcissa sent him a look of deepest disdain. "I'm going to pretend you didn't ask me that." she said, as though granting him some great mercy by doing so. Lucius chose to believe that, in her mind at least, she was. But he still didn't understand her reasoning.
And he had enough experience dealing with his wife on topics such as this one to know that he never would understand her reasoning. More to the point, he had enough experience to know that if he didn't do what she asked, a vengeance would be brought down upon him, the likes of which most men could only imagine. The Wrath of Narcissa Black was not something to be taken lightly.
Lucius stared at his wife for a few more moments, trying to think of an alternative, before he sighed heavily. He closed his eyes and shook his head. "Fine." he said, not quite prepared to open his eyes just yet. Maybe if he kept them closed them what he was agreeing to would seem a little less humiliating. "Fine. You win. I'll try to get the Elf back. Tomorrow." At last, he opened his eyes.
Narcissa's hands were still on her hips but the fearsome look she had previously worn was now absent. Instead she was regarding him with affection, amusement and not-a-small-amount of triumphant glee. Which was a definite improvement, to his mind.
Lucius perked up a bit. "Of course, it doesn't change the fact that I've had a terrible day." he said tentatively. Narcissa was happy with him now, after all… "And tomorrow isn't looking much better at this rate." he added.
A wicked, feline grin appeared on his wife's face. "Mmm." she acknowledged in a low purr. She allowed her hands to slide down so that they rested on her thighs. Lucius followed their trail across the black silk with unabashed interest. "And," she continued. "I suppose you are lowering yourself so very much, all for me."
"Yes… yes I suppose I am." Lucius said distractedly, still staring openly. Narcissa cocked her head to one side and sashayed slowly over to him. Lucius felt his jaw drop at her sudden change of mood.
"You certainly are." Narcissa whispered seductively, placing her hands gently on his chest. "What sort of wife would I be if I didn't show my appreciation? Hmm?" Her hands slid up onto his shoulders.
Lucius made a noise of agreement. He would have dearly loved to say something witty or charming at that particular juncture, however his blood had somehow stopped flowing in the direction of his brain from the very second she put her hands on his chest.
A fact which Narcissa seemed to enjoy. An enigmatic smirk had appeared on her face. She snaked her arms around his neck and stretched up so that her face was inches from his own. The scent of jasmine assaulted him as she did so, and Lucius found himself quite unable to think clearly. Something which was just fine with him, given the direction his evening seemed to be going in. "I'm sure I could help you… relax." she murmured in a husky tone. "Would you like that Lucius?" she asked, pressing herself against him.
Since he was about three seconds away from groaning in submission as she asked, Lucius thought the answer was pretty obvious. He nodded once, somehow managing to suppress any whimper-like sounds that may have escaped his lips.
Narcissa smirked wider. She bit her lip gently, and lowered her head so that he could feel her breath on his neck. It sent a shiver of anticipation down his spine. Her lips were less than an inch away from his ear when she whispered…
Lucius was left blinking at thin air, as the heavenly creature that had been pressed against him moments before suddenly vanished.
Narcissa was stalking over to the bed. She snatched up his outer-robes and thrust them towards him. "You can sleep in the guest quarters tonight." she told him coolly. "Actually you can sleep in the koi pond tonight, for all I care."
Lucius felt like a bucket of ice-water had just been dumped on his head. He gaped at his wife. "Excuse me?" he asked incredulously.
Narcissa glared at him. "Was I somehow unclear?" she asked. "Get out. Get of my bedroom, get out my quarters and get out of my sight. Now." And with that she turned on her heel and swept towards the dressing room.
A stunned, annoyed and intensely frustrated Lucius watched her go. "I knew I should've married Bellatrix instead." he muttered. "Yes, she's insane, not nearly as attractive, and would have probably killed us both by now, but behaviour like this certainly wouldn't have been an issue…"