a/n: I completely fail at fighting and the end of this chapter is so not what I wanted it to be. But unfortunately, you'll just have to deal with that since I seem to lack the creativity to properly work out the fight. Enjoy it anyway.
Baiting A Dragon
"You shouldn't have booted 'er, mate," Rodolphus said over his glass of firewhiskey. He was sitting in a smoke and drink filled gentleman's club with Lucius, glancing distractedly at a skirt sitting up at the bar with his brother.
"For one, I'm not your mate, mate. Our unfortunate acquaintance stems from having to work civilly with one another. Two, my home life is absolutely none of your concern," Lucius responded, following the other man's line of sight and rolled his eyes, rather disgustedly. "Merlin, Rodolphus. She's obviously going home with your brother. Beside that, you're married. Have some dignity, would you?"
"You're such a stick up the arse, Malfoy, I'm sure someone's told you that by now. There ain't nothing wrong with innocent lookin'," Rodolphus said, draining his glass and returning to the problem on hand. "We may not be friends, no. But you married my wife's sister. Unfortunately, that means Narcissa has vented everything out on my wife, who in turn vents it out on me for representing the obviously terrible male specie. So the sooner I get you to stop being a prick bastard, the sooner baby Black stops unloading on Bella, the sooner I get to sleep with both eyes closed."
"I see. How noble of you," Lucius sneered, snubbing out his cigarette.
"Shut your smart ass mouth and listen to me," the other man snapped, leaning forward on his elbows. "Get off your bloody high horse. You kicked out your pregnant wife. Do you have any idea what that says about you?"
"Why do I get the bad end of the stick?" Lucius returned, getting over his initial refusal to speak with a man he considered to be more barbarian than English man. He needed venting himself. "She has an affair. She gets pregnant during said affair. And I'm the asshole for booting her out because I don't want her illegitimate bastard tarnishing my manor!"
Rodolphus thought for a moment, lips quirked to the side as he considered his empty cup. "You know, I see your point of view, I really do. But lemme ask you something: are you happy with her out?"
This made Lucius look down at his own cup in thought. He certainly wasn't happy. He was honestly surprised to find how big of a sore spot she had left. He missed accidentally-on-purpose waking her when he came in late from his death eating meetings and fights. He missed breakfast and dinner with her. Being so completely alone wasn't something he had ever done before, it wasn't something he could easily adjust to.
He didn't need to answer. Rodolphus got another refill on his drink and proceeded to the next question. "You can't honestly tell me you aren't attracted to her. Both of the sisters are drop dead, but you have to admit the innocence that Narcissa seems to radiate makes you want to completely ruin every aspect of her."
At that, Lucius glared. No one should be looking at his wife like that other than himself, much less talk about her with that predatory gleam in their eyes. "This is still my wife we're talking about, Lestrange. Don't forget that."
"I think that'll answer any questions on feelings that you seem to lack the ability to show," he stated, holding up his hands in surrender, smirking vaguely before waving down a server for a refill on his drink. "You know, we weren't all that different. We used to be friends, remember? What happened to you?"
Lucius considered him a moment. "We got married. I grew up. You didn't. That simple."
Rodolphus considered it as well. That didn't seem to be the right answer in his mind. Way he saw it, Lucius had turned into the politician who didn't want to dirty his hands and Rodolphus wasn't willing to do the dirty work for him anymore. But he wasn't interested in the fight. He slammed down his second drink and put the glass down, standing up. "Well. We've talked. You've got stuff to think about. See you around, mate."
Lucius was quiet for a while after he left, slowly swirling his own glass of firewhiskey, staring blankly at a burn spot on the table.
"Pleasure to see you. Coming in?"
She hesitated a moment on the threshold, biting her lip lightly, before nodding. Really, right now, she thought that perhaps she should have just gone to Bella's. No, Bellatrix had never dealt with anything like what Narcissa was dealing with now. And all right, maybe she was anti-baby and would probably insist on talking Narcissa in to terminating it. But surely it was a safer option than going to an old flame? After all, what if he had a girlfriend by now? He probably did. Not that she was here for that. She frowned at the odd look he gave her as she pushed passed him and headed for the sitting room.
Xavier closed the door behind him and followed after her, eyebrow cocked curiously at her as she flopped down gracefully on the couch, crossing her legs. Something was different about her. He cleared his throat and poured himself a glass of fire whiskey before turning to her and offering her the cup. "Drink?"
Narcissa paused a second before shaking her head. "No thanks, I'm good."
He gave her another curious look, taking her in before shrugging and taking a sip of his own drink and sitting in the armchair across from her, head cocked to the side slightly and making her shift uncomfortably.
"So how far along are you?" he questioned at the same moment Narcissa asked, "What are you staring at?"
She frowned, shaking her head slightly. "Wait, what?"
"How far along are you?" he repeated, taking her blank stare and rolling his eyes. "Come on, Cissa. I am a Healer, you know? Your breasts are swollen, you're wearing flats, you're breaking out, and you don't want a drink. If you're not pregnant, I'm King of Antarctica. Considering I've never been, not a big fan of the cold, I'd go with the first."
"I am not breaking out!" she protested, hands immediately flying up to her face to feel the non-existent bumps. Xavier shook his head and gestured to the small spattering of pink and red across her collarbone and upper chest. She lowered her hand to attempted to look awkwardly at her chest before sighing. "Eleven weeks."
"Well. Congrats, right?" he nodded, tipping his cup towards her. "So, what are you doing here instead of spending your time in wonderful wedded bliss with that wonderful husband and proud father-to-be of yours?"
"That wonderful husband and proud father-to-be is also a wonderful ass," she commented dryly, clicking her fingernails distractedly as she stared towards the fireplace a moment, contemplating all manner of torture before shaking her head and rousing herself from her day dreams. "Do you happen to have any ice cream? Preferably strawberry."
He let her have her minute or so before he cocked an eyebrow at the random request. Well. Not so random, really, considering the condition of the person it was coming from. He summoned an elf to go and find said strawberry ice cream for her before reconsidering her as she shifted on the couch in to a presumably more comfortable position. "Do I want to know?"
"No, not really," she commented dismissively. "I didn't come here to talk about it, though."
"You didn't come here for a drink, you didn't come here to talk about it, I'm assuming you didn't come here thinking to resume a relationship," he counted off, frowning. "Why did you come here, Narcissa?"
There was that same question she had been asking herself when she had found herself knocking. Why did she come here? She shrugged, taking the bowl of pink ice cream from the elf as it popped back in, holding it up on a tray for her, then popped right back out once it had completed it's job. She took in a spoonful before deciding on a non-committed answer. "The wonderful service. And, clearly, the ice cream."
"The ice cream, I see," he said with a nod, frowning at her. "You know, Cissy, it's probably not my place, but, uh. Shouldn't you be having ice cream at home? I mean, I'm fairly positive Lucius might just be able to afford a gallon to two."
She was quiet for a moment as she toyed with her spoon, stirring the cream. "I'm not staying at the manor, as it were. For the time being, I'm residing in the town house. And tonight, I just didn't feel like being home alone, yet again."
"The town house?" he asked, frowning. "By your own choice or by his?"
"His," she muttered darkly, glaring at her ice cream as if it had been the one who had kicked her out, sent her to be on her own. She didn't see the way Xavier's frown deepened, nor could she possibly see the way the cogs of his mind were spinning.
"Well, that's not right, either way. It's not safe for a pregnant woman to live alone. What if something happened to you or the baby and you needed medical help immediately and are unable to seek it out yourself?" he asked, more talking to himself as he considered her. She shifted under his scrutinizing gaze. "You should stay here?"
She coughed on the ice cream she had just put into her mouth, taking a moment before blinking watery eyes at him. "Stay here? Xavier, I don't think that's a good idea, really. I was looking for a night of company, not a new home."
"I'm not offering you a new home, per se. You have twenty-nine more weeks. I'll give you until the baby is six weeks old, then you can go back to your town house," he said innocently. "I just think you're going to need a lot of help and if Lucius isn't going to do his job, then someone else ought to."
"And that someone else should not be you," she muttered, frowning at the prospect. She didn't think Lucius would much like the idea of her living with Xavier. Then she wondered why she should care what Lucius would and would not like.
"Then who?" he asked, brows raised. Narcissa hesitated a second, mouth open with an answer refusing to come to her tongue before looking up at him. She sighed, closing her mouth. It was a fairly good question. If Lucius refused to help her, then who else would? Xavier plowed on when she was silent. "Look. You know it's a good idea. Do I need to berate you with the facts? You're almost out of the first trimester. You aren't allowed to disaparate; unless, of course, you want to risk splinching the baby. I highly doubt, and no offense intended, that you'll be able to think clearly enough to get through the floo network when you go in to labor. And do you seriously want only house elves present when that happens? I know you; you'll want a whole team of healers and nurses at your side. Don't stay here for the sake of you and me, Cissy. Stay here for the safety of your baby."
He was making a lot of sense. Really, would she be able to floo when it was time to? No, she wouldn't try disaparating; that was far too dangerous for her to be willing to consider. She wasn't very fond of that mode of transportation anyway. An elf could hardly be relied upon – yes, to fix dinner and do around the house chores, but to birth a baby or summon an appropriate healer? Merlin no. And yes, he did know her. She would want all of those people there helping her. She would even want Lucius there to hold her hand and tell her it would be alright, to be the first person their baby saw upside down. But no, that was silly. Xavier was the one making all the sense right now and she sighed.
A routine trip to the doctor had seen her well enough to take herself down to Diagon Alley, in need of a nice sundae from Fortescue's on a warm August afternoon. Going out alone had taken some getting used to and, to be perfectly honest, it still wasn't something she was pleased about. She couldn't stand the thought of uprooting Xavier's home anymore than she had when she had moved in (and Merlin did he hear from his current girlfriend about it) and the fights around her at this moment in time were the last things she needed, being perfectly honest. She needed to rest, relax, to not worry about people around her. This place was perfect. It wasn't too terribly busy as last minute school shoppers weren't due for another week and a half.
She glanced down at her stomach self consciously before deciding to go with it and got a two scoop sundae, finding a table outside to people watch. Doing so in peace was always a wonderfully relaxing thing. However, her nose pinched at an imaginary bad smell while a large red headed woman, made even larger by her pregnant belly, came up to scold a wandering 2-year-old with equally red hair for disappearing and deciding to actually talk to the blonde woman he was bothering.
He had been angry with her for moving out of the townhouse he had put her in so he could think. More than angry, really, he was downright furious. This woman had all the nerve in the world and some to spare. Did she not understand how bad she was making him look? His reputation was tarnishing terribly because of her. She had completely disappeared from his radar and it was driving him mad. She wasn't at the townhouse; it had been emptied of her clothes and belongings. He had checked hotels, their friends, distant relatives. Three weeks of searching had left him ready to hex first, ask later. So when he heard what he was fairly positive was her sneering voice while on his way to Knockturn Alley, he paused with a frown and backtracked a few paces. Yes, that was his wife with her hand resting protectively on the small bump of her stomach, conversing with Molly Weasley, who happened to be congratulating her on said protected bump.
"Thank you, Mrs. Weasley. Erm. You as well. What number is this?" she asked in false tones of happiness. The other woman clearly didn't get the disgust that was so obviously dripping in her voice.
"They're twins, actually. Four and five. More boys, of course, last thing I needed," she said with a bright smile, patting her own stomach with her freehand, the other holding the hand of a small boy who was squinting around and trying to pull away from the tight grip of his mother.
"Yes. Well, you can certainly tell," Narcissa sneered, giving the woman a once over. She probably had stretch marks galore. "Look what it's done to your hips, after all. Have you ever considered glamour charms for that?"
"Glamour charms for what, exactly?" Molly snapped coolly, glaring slightly at the suggestion.
She opened her mouth to respond, but her insult was cut short as a hand lay lightly on the small of her back. She started slightly and twisted, terribly surprised to find Lucius standing there. She frowned and turned back to Molly to continue with her barb when Lucius spoke instead. "Darling. Our appointment was five minutes ago. We should get moving."
She growled slightly before forcing yet another smile. "Right. Our appointment. Silly me, I must have forgotten. If you'll excuse us, Molly."
"Yes, please give your husband a lovely…eh," he shrugged off whatever departing repartee he had been about to give the large redheaded witch and nudged Narcissa on.
They left a rather indignant looking Molly behind as Narcissa allowed Lucius to steer her out of there rather than cause a scene. That was the last thing they needed, really, to cause a scene in Diagon Alley. However, once they were well out of anyone's earshot other than the occasional passer-by, Narcissa couldn't help snarling at him. "What do you want, Lucius?"
"To talk, darling. You don't owl, you don't floo; how's that supposed to make me feel? I mean, you just up and disappeared on me, how was I to know where you've been and if you're alright?" he asked, brow arched, not removing the hand from her back lest she manage to disappear yet again.
"I didn't know you cared so, considering the circumstances," she sneered, rolling her eyes slightly.
"Still harping on about that, now, are we?" he questioned with a frown.
"Harping on about…" she started, cutting herself off to glare at him and lower her voice just a tad. "Yes, I am. And I will continue 'harping on about that', Lucius Malfoy, for as long as I feel like it and if you insist on continuing to annoy me and be an ass, then you shall have to hear about it!"
"My, my, darling. Mind your temper, it's hardly becoming on a woman of your stature," he drawled, managing only barely not to roll his eyes.
It took Narcissa only a few moments to frown at their surroundings. They appeared to be headed towards the dark side alley. "Where are we going?"
"Just to take care of a quick business thing I have to do, then you and I are going to go and discuss a few things," he said cryptically, leading her on towards Borgin and Burke's. He paused outside the doors, considering something before coming to his decision and opening the door to let her in first, but then once the door had closed, looked at her with a frown and rather condescendingly added on, "Stay here. Touch nothing, I'd rather not be rushing you to Mungo's."
She sent him a glare as he turned around and headed towards the counter where a greasy looking man was coming out. What was she, five? She scoffed turning to leave the store when something caught her eye. She paused to stare into a nearby case, stepping closer and placing a light hand on the glass. The necklace was beautiful. She had never been one for opals, but something about these opals just called to her.
She wasn't sure how long she stood there observing them, but she started when a hand placed itself on the small of her back before scowling to herself for such a reaction. Lucius chuckled, though, thoroughly amused. "Those opals are cursed. I would advise against such an object, darling. However, if you decide to cooperate fully, I'm sure I could get a non-cursed replica made."
"You know, I think I'm good," she replied dryly. "And if you don't mind, I have things to do."
"You're right, you do," he informed her, steering her out of the shop. "You need to show me where you're living since you're no longer in the town house."
"I need to do so such thing, Lucius. It's none of your concern, remember?" she said coolly, taking some control of the situation and turning away from his hand to leave Knockturn Alley. She still needed to get back to the floo grates at the Leaky Cauldron.
He caught up rather quickly, which wasn't a hard thing to do, considering the circumstances. "Where in Merlin's beard did you get that you are not my concern? You are still my wife. Just because we're having a spat doesn't mean I'm not concerned."
"Why do you need to know where I'm currently staying?" she asked, deciding for a change of tactic.
"Well, if you actually are carrying my child, as you so insist you are, then don't you think I have a right to know where you're staying? My potential child's welfare at sake, I think it's fully within my rights to ask," he said simply. In his mind, it was a fair point.
"No it's not," she snorted, shaking her head. "It's not at all within your rights. If you cared so much, you wouldn't have kicked me out."
"I kicked you out due to uncertainty. Surely you can understand my point of view and how I could believe it not to be mine. You have had an affair before, I've been taking preventative measures, it is not at all out of the realm of possibility," he said sensibly.
"If you were concerned about your 'possible child', as you put it, you wouldn't have seen me out, Lucius."
"What do you expect, Narcissa? I was hurt, I've been humiliated at your hands. Do you expect a dragon not to bite if you bait it?" he said, with what he thought was just the right tone to get to her. And it was, he could see her caving as she sighed, putting a hand to her temple.
"Alright? Are you happy now? That was tour; this is where I'm staying. Thank you for your concern, you can go now," she said, glancing at the clock in the den. Xavier would be off soon, she'd rather not see the two of them fight, as she knew Lucius would probably spark some sort of argument.
He looked around with a decidedly unhappy look, seeming to be thinking about it. He shook his head. "No. This doesn't really work for me, darling. What's wrong with the town house? It's bigger. More plush. Indefinitely more appropriate for you."
"More appropriate for me in your opinion. I can't stay somewhere by myself while I'm pregnant, Lucius. What if I get sick or hurt and need help?" she asked tiredly, not in the mood for such questions.
"You have house elves, right? Send one of them for me or a doctor or whatever help you need," he explained, thinking it was the most obvious thing in the world.
"You think a house elf suffices proper human contact during a period she needs it the most?" a voice cut in from behind Lucius, causing him to raise his eyebrows at Narcissa. The owner of this house was home, it would seem. The voice continued. "That's the problem with you, Malfoy. You're so critical minded that you can't see passed basic human need and believe a pregnant, emotional woman to be needing no more care than a house elf can provide."
Lucius held up a hand, as if to excuse himself for a minute from Narcissa, before turning around to face the man who was speaking and pausing in what he was about to say to him when he caught sight of him. This man was far more familiar than Lucius would have liked to admit. In fact, the last time Lucius saw this man, Xavier was kissing his wife in a bit of a secluded area at a luncheon. His train of thought changed and he glared back at Narcissa. "This is why you're here? Do you think I don't know who this is?"
"Lucius, don't. Xavier, please, just go for now," Narcissa injected as quickly as she could, stepping in between the men. Hopefully Xavier would indeed leave so she could get Lucius off. She placed hands on his shoulder, nudging him towards the fireplace.
"No, I'm not going to just go for now. This is my house, Narcissa, and I need to have a word with Lucius here about how to treat women," Xavier snapped, not exactly going down the route Narcissa obviously preferred. "For one, Malfoy, you don't dump your pregnant wife out on the streets or on another man's door."
"This is between a husband and his wife. Considering that you are neither in this situation, I'll thank you to keep out of it," Lucius returned coldly, just before something else clicked and he glared again at Narcissa. "Is that why you're here, Narcissa? You insist it's mine, yet you end up at the house of an old lover. What, you couldn't unload it off on me, so you went to the actual father in the end anyway?"
"Lucius, I've told you-" Narcissa started, exasperated, when Xavier decided instead to cut in. "Would that be such a bad thing anyway? I mean, someone's gotta take care of her. And you seem to be failing quite miserably in the aspect. Even if the kid's not mine in blood, I'll take care of it."
Lucius laughed at him. "Do you know what that makes you?"
"A better man than you," Xavier sneered at him. "Now leave my house."
"I'm afraid I'm not finished talking to my wife," Lucius returned, doing a much better job at the sneer. "Now, if you don't mind…"
"Actually, I do mind," he snapped back, this time pulling his wand and taking aim over Narcissa's shoulder. "This is my house. I'm the one looking after her right now. I'm going to have to ask you to leave, just one last time before I start cursing."
At the sight of the drawn wand, Lucius was by no means hesitant to draw his own, reaching out a hand to Narcissa's hip to try and move her out of the way. "Well, if we must, we must. Your insistence, mind you."
Knowing perfectly well the chance a doctor stood against a perfectly trained Death Eater with a wide expanse of painful curses, Narcissa refused to let Lucius move her out of the way. She instead put her hand on his to try and push his hand down. "Please stop it, the both of you. This isn't helping anyone do anything. Put the wands down. Lucius, go home, I'll talk to you about it all later."
"Yeah, Lucius. Go home. Can you not tell you aren't wanted here?" Xavier injected, keeping his wand trained on where Lucius's chest would be.
"Xavier, put your wand away," Narcissa demanded, keeping her hand on Lucius's, wary eye on Xavier's. Rather than doing as she asked, Xavier felt the need to send a warning shot over her shoulder towards Lucius's own shoulder. "Xavier!"
Lucius managed to avoid the shot, but he was far less than amused. He put his hand back on Narcissa's hip to push her out of the way – she really didn't need to get hit by anything just because this man was an idiot – and returned the shot. It wasn't long before curses were going back and forth between the two, Narcissa still trying to get them to stop, but by now knowing better than to step between them. But that didn't stop either of them from ducking, or from curses ricocheting off furniture or other furnishings in the room. Lucius ducked one of the harsher curses from the doctor, firing back one of his own at his first chance. Xavier's curse hit the mantle at just the fight angle that it flew back into the fight, knocking Narcissa off her feet.