Caught In The Act
Chapter 3: Out
Jiffy appeared shortly after Lucius' departure, carrying a tray holding the most delicious-looking meal she had seen in a long while. He offered to show her to a guest room where she could dine alone, and she was glad to follow him. The room she was taken to was one with quite a few antiques, which had been hers for the taking until bloody Lucius took them back.
Bloody, stupid, teasing, delicious Lucius, she allowed herself to think. It had been a long time since she'd had any contact with a bloke. Except Hadrian. But she wouldn't touch that man with the end of a Quidditch hoop.
But soon her mind was overtaken by another hunger. A hunger for duck a l'orange with thyme and porcini mushrooms. As she dug in – still eating like a dog – she also began to think of the ball. It might be nice to see how the other half live for once. Without biding her time and then robbing them blind, obviously. Free booze, too. And, oh! She'd get to bathe!
The thought of a real bath, as well as a stomach full of people-food, helped her to sleep that night.
Eurydice was momentarily shocked when she found herself in a bed, surrounded by soft pillows and the smell of sleep. A drowsy smile spread across her face as she rolled off the bed and went for the door – she'd become quite accustomed to a morning wander across the grounds over the past few days. The door was locked.
What . A. Tosser, she thought. She looked around her surroundings in hope of finding some means of escape. Or, at least, something to do. It was hardly a sparse room – she doubted there was anything of the sort in this mansion – and to her fury, there seemed to be no alternative exit. One look out the window let her know that a leap to escape would, in fact, be suicide.
Right, then, she thought, the direct approach.
"Malfoy! You newt-licking bastard! Let me out of here right now! YOU," she began to punctuate her words by punching the door, "ABSOLUTE! IDIOT!"
Finally the door opened to reveal a very smug Lucius Malfoy, who looked her over with an arched silver
brow and a patronizing stare.
"Now, don't be shy," he drawled, "Call me Lucius, my dear. You are a guest, after all."
Eurydice let out a gritted scream of frustration.
"You are keeping me hostage!"
"Well that's simply for your own safety. After all, if you were to ah, disappear before holding up your end of the deal, you and that partner-in-crime of yours would be in very grave peril, indeed."
"Oh, really," Eurydice grated out, not sure if her bravado was entirely believable, "Are you sure you can successfully put someone in grave peril all by yourself? Because last time you and your friends tried that, you got your arses handed to you by a teenager – "
Suddenly her face was being crushed against the doorframe, with Lucius weight keeping her firmly in place.
"Isn't this familiar," she managed to sputter. She could feel a twitch in Lucius' cheek; he was smirking again .
"You've got a smart mouth, did you know?" His mock-innocent voice was laced with something darker – something that sent a nasty shudder through her shoulder blades. She swallowed before spitting out a retort.
"So why are you punishing my arse?"
She heard him chuckle darkly, felt his grip on her posterior tighten painfully. Then, as quicky as it had happened, the pressure of his body lifted. Lucius cleared his throat.
"It's nearly noon. I suggest you begin to ready yourself for tonight." He looked down at her as she remembered what exactly her end o'f the deal was. This…ball.
"I, uh, don't have anything to wear…"
"Narcissa's left quite a few things in her armoire upstairs. No doubt she expected to he back here soon enough," his voice turned mocking and harsh as he spoke of his ex-wife, "I'll show you there and you can see if anything fits..."
They navigated hallways and staircases, Lucius leading the way, to Narcissa's wardrobe room. Eurydice had missed this room when searching to valuable items in the mansion. Though there wasn't much on the hangars, each piece was unmistakably expensive.
"I trust you'll find something in here. Afterwards, go bathe. You haven't actually washed in quite a few days, have you?"
Eurydice felt a surprising smidgeon of embarrassment. Lucius' smirk grew a millimeter as he crossed back to the door.
"It shows," He shut the door on her shocked, wide-eyed face.
Muttering darkly to herself, she looked over the shimmering and opulent contents of the armoire. Part of her wanted to choose the most ostentatious gown; one covered in enough jewels to make up for the past three years living in the dirt. But she knew that in Lucius' circle, such flamboyance was cheap.
There was a dark red on with an extra-long train...she'd probably trip over it. She felt a strange anger when she caught sight of a white chiffon wedding gown hanging forlornly near the back. A slinky metallic black dress, floor-length and straight-cut, wasn't her style.
Aha! She'd found it. Wedged between two meringue monstrosities hung a piece of seafoam-green loveliness. One-shoulder, with a mermaid-tail hem. This would do better than nicely.
And now for a bath, she thought.
Lucius, she had to admit, had been right: she hadn't had a washing in quite a while. When she saw the bathtub, all smooth white marble with golden taps, she also realized that she hadn't had a proper bath in about three years. Bubbles, scents and salts promised to entertain her for quite a while. For about two hours, in fact. When she emerged out of the bathroom, she smelled of just about every bath product that lined the sides of the tub. Freesia, sea salt, vanilla, linen, primrose, tea…hm. Maybe she went a little overboard.
The sight of Lucius glancing over her towel-clad body as she closed the bathroom door nearly caused her to scream.
"Oh, would you look at that…there's a woman under there," he drawled teasingly. She had half a mind to mention that he'd grabbed her ass twice before seeing her clean, but decided to forgo anger in lieu of silent dignity. She crossed to the bed where he sat and her gown lay.
"Good choice, by the way," he commented, keeping both eyes on the bottom hem of the towel which brushed against her thighs with each step.
"By that do you mean I'll look nice or that Narcissa will flip when she sees me?"
"Both," he answered, that hint of meanness which was ever-present in his eyes growing a bit brighter.
She stood before him, wearing a towel and grasping his ex-wife's gown in her hands. The ridiculousness of the scene hit her in one dense wave. She thought she should ask him something. Ask him what was going on. How her near-nakedness somehow wasn't cause to blush or run away. How she'd wound up being sentenced to a fancy party rather than jail. Was this normal? Hell, she couldn't know what normal had become over the past few years.
Some snide voice in her mind told her that this wasn't normal. That Lucius treated her like this not because it was the social norm, but because she was unworthy of the social norm. Of course. She was an urchin; unimportant and inferior. And she needed him.
"Lucius," she started coyly. His eyes lifted to hers, albeit via her exposed collarbone.
"You do realize it's not proper to be in a room with a half-naked woman, don't you?"
"Oh, I do apologize, milady," he bowed his head in a sarcastic apology which poked further holes in her ego, "I didn't realize you had such high social standards."
"Look, just because I don't live in a huge house or…or go round to balls doesn't mean I'm inferior to you!"
"Yes, but I think you'll find that the fact that I am the only thing keeping you out of Azkaban rather does." A smirk of her own covered up her anger.
"Ah, but have you considered that I am the only thing that ensures that you get what you want tonight? Not to mention, you've been dead chuffed at the idea of Narcissa seeing you and I together. I could make things go rather roughly…"
"You do that, and you'll be in Azkaban in no time."
"Look. I know, you know, that I'll be getting you your documents no matter what. But," her smirk grew sly, "what about giving your lovely ex-wife what she deserves? That's going to cost extra, mate."
That last line surprised her a bit; she sounded almost like Hadrian. But it had worked, she could tell. Lucius looked at her with a conspiratory glint in his grey eyes.
"So here's the deal: you be nice to me, and you'll get exactly what you want."
Lucius lifted himself from the bed in a brusque movement. Eurydice jumped; perhaps her confidence had been unfounded.
"Get dressed," he said as he went to leave the room, "the deal's on."
She lifted her head in triumph and dignity – well, as much dignity as possible while wearing such a short towel – before walking back to the bathroom.
"But one more thing," he blurted before she closed the door behind her. He proceeded after Eurydice gave a happy 'yes?'
"You might want to stick to one fragrance next time. Tea and coconut are hardly compatible, are they?"
He graciously flicked his wand at her, removing the stew of scents from her skin. A sardonically gallant bow preceded his exit. Eurydice rolled her eyes.
For some stupid reason, she expected Lucius to be waiting for her at the bottom of the stairs, arm crooked and ready for her own arm to link into it. But when she carefully navigated down the steps, regretting her choice of 4-inch heels with each sway off balance, she found no trace of him.
"Lucius?" she called, hearing her small voice echo across the grand foyer.
"Ah, Eurydice," he acknowledged as he came out of his office. Four eyes traveled over faces, shoulders, chests, hips, legs. She had to admit, he looked dashing. Even more than usual. His straight platinum hair was pulled back, revealing a pale neck which grew into broad shoulders covered in the fur mantle of charcoal grey robes. Underneath it, she could see long legs encased in tailored black trousers.
"W-wow," she breathed, trying her damndest to look nonchalant, "You pull out all the stops, don't you?"
"Whenever I can, yes," he looked more self-satisfied than ever. Eurydice could feel his eyes travel once more over her own self. She really hoped it was up to par. The seafoam green silk of the gown clung to her curves before finally fanning out at her knees, creating an elegantly simple train. She hadn't the courage to ask him for any jewelry, choosing instead to show off her creamy skin – finally dirt-free, although chapped. She would have done something with her hair if she'd had a wand, but now it lay in random and kinked waves around her face.
He seemed to approve everything but the hair and her bare face. A flick of his wand fixed her auburn hair into a French twist, another transfigured one of his cufflinks – emerald, she noticed quickly – into a tube of crimson lipstick. He took her chin in his fingers – surprisingly carefully – and began to apply the tint to her bottom lip. She feared that the rest of her face was turning red as well.
"Hmm, that's more like it," he murmured as he tapped the tube with his wand and fastened his returned cufflink once more.
"Was that a compliment, Mr. Malfoy?" she said coyly.
"Was that an attempt to flirt, Miss…" His retort was ruined by the fact that he'd forgotten her surname.
"Yes," Lucius said quietly. He turned her chin to look at her reflection in a mirror set on the marble wall. She looked complete, and felt it too. How long had it been since she had looked at herself and smiled?
"Time to go." He said into her ear. His long, workless fingers grasped her upper arm before she felt her bellybutton pull towards her spine.
With a loud crack! They arrived in front of a grand mansion, grander and more intricately built than Lucius' in England. A faint strain of classical music reached Eurydice's ears from where they stood, surrounded by trimmed hedges and charming rosebushes. White pixie lights danced from between the branches of a large cypress tree.
"Come," Lucius said as he took her arm in his, starting toward the entrance.
When they entered, her self-confidence took quite a large dip. She'd admired herself in the mirror just a minute ago, but here in the midst of far classier and more elegant ladies she felt like a street urchin again.
"You look lovely," Lucius said, with a slight air of impatience. She nodded absently, still struck by the beauty which filled the place.
The first twenty minutes were tremendous tax on Eurydice's nerves. Lucius milled about, shaking firm hands and kissing powdered cheeks. Eurydice was introduced as "my friend"; a statement which caused quite a few raised eyebrows from ladies and knowing looks from men.
But this phase ended as a flawless platinum coif came gliding towards them, cutting through the crowd like a shark's fin.
"Ah, Narcissa," Lucius drawled. Eurydice couldn't make out any change of emotion in his face, which she had to admire.
"Lucius," she replied, with a sideways look at Eurydice. That look turned into a double-take, Narcissa's eyes raking over her own gown gracing the young redhead.
"This is Eurydice Jaeger, my date. Darling," he looked down at Eurydice, willing her to go on with the act, "this is our hostess, and my ex-wife, Narcissa Black."
"Miss Black," she smiled vacantly, a nifty expression she had learned after just twenty minutes at the party, "What a lovely home you've made here."
"Yes, it's a shame it won't be hers for long," Lucius said softly, his complacent smirk still perfectly in place. Narcissa's smile was likewise unshakable, though perhaps a bit clenched now.
"Oh, your humor hasn't changed a bit, Lucius," her eyes glinted in a challenge, "Now, tell me about Miss Jaeger. Where has she been hiding? I've never heard of her before."
Lucius seemed to realize that this was a sort of insult, as his nod was accompanied by a slightly nasty chuckle.
"Ah yes, she's an intern at the Ministry. We meet every so often in the tearoom," Eurydice smiled indulgently in Narcissa's direction as his arm snaked around her waist.
"How sweet. Lovely dress, by the way. Very daring; seasons old, but not old enough to be vintage."
Eurydice froze. Where was her witty comeback? There was no lying to Narcissa; it was her bloody dress!
"Well, my Eurydice can pull almost anything off. That's an advantage to such…youth." He looked pointedly at Narcissa, who blanched noticeably.
"Lucius, may I have a word?" Narcissa tossed Eurydice one last aspartame-coated smile. Lucius himself gave her a reassuring look before he followed his ex-wife through the crowd.
"Now to business," Eurydice said to herself, as she too melted into the crowd.
Well, she didn't melt. Not necessarily. She did try, but word of Lucius' new plaything had spread round the party faster than the hors d'oevres.
"Oh, so this is Lucius Malfoy's date-"
"Jaeger, Jaeger…I'm not familiar with the name-"
"Ah, you're from London. Well, never mind, I've heard more common accents than yours-"
"You. Come 'ere." A hard voice stopped Eurydice in her tracks. She turned to see a striking woman, perhaps a year or two younger than herself. Her poker-straight black hair contrasted with the soft, floaty cream gown she wore.
"Eurydice Jaeger," the woman hissed in her ear, "Hadrian's been waiting for you. Not to worry though, 'e's not expecting you back."
The woman had taken Eurydice's arm in an iron grip and was leading her into an empty corridor. She kept talking.
"See, I'm your replacement. The boss's been getting suspicious, see; 'e figures you either got caught or that you've turned on 'im. And, as a result of that, 'e don't want you comin' back and screwin' 'im over."
"B-but," Eurydice started, beginning to panic, "look, I did get caught. I did. But I've struck a deal, see? I'm just helping some guy screw over his ex-wife and if I do, he's promised to let me go. I swear."
The woman laughed, yet her eyes stayed icy.
"Well that's great news, luv. But, see, we can 'ardly trust your word. 'Ave you forgotten 'ow it works over just a few days? Sorry, but that's no excuse."
Eurydice, at a complete loss for words, had no choice but to simply roll her eyes and turn away. She walked further down the hall, about to search for the office where Lucius said Narcissa would keep the house deeds, when the woman called out to her.
"It's a shame you're out, y'know. This place 'as swag like you wouldn't believe."
A small wave of fear hit Eurydice as she turned away again. Where was she meant to go after tonight, then? Just…fuck. Fuck.
Fearful and depressed thoughts whirled around in her brain until, finally, she came across the office which Lucius had described. Rifling through the drawers quickly, she scanned page after page of documents to no avail. But then – yes! There they were; the deeds to Malfoy Manor, drawn up in 1645.
She tucked them into the back of her gown and went to leave the office when she saw the doorknob open from the other side. She froze for a second, then recovered with enough time to hide underneath the sturdy wooden desk. Whoever it was strode into the room, looked around, stayed quiet.
"Damn," he said. Lucius?
"What are you doing? You scared the hell out of me," Eurydice hissed.
"I was making sure you'd found the office."
"Well, I have. Now as the more experienced thief of the pair of us, I suggest you get out of here before she wonders where we've gone off to –"
"Yes, I thought of that. We might have to think of an alibi. Now, Miss Jaeger," he was walking towards her from the center of the room, "what might a man and his lovely date be doing away from the party, in an empty room?"
Eurydice felt a bit stupid for not realizing where he was going with this until his fingers were wound in a lock of hair that had fallen loose from its updo. She looked up at him.
"Lucius," she spoke through a clogged throat, over a dry tongue, "our deal – "
"I believe it was 'be nice to you, and I'll get exactly what I want'. I suggest that next time you make that deal, you know exactly what's wanted."
She opened her mouth to argue, but couldn't get around her flawed compromise. His fingers were tracing something on her collarbone. She couldn't get past her mind's strange urge to grasp his collar, to pull him to her. Merlin, woman, she thought, take what you can get. You haven't gotten any in years.
So she did.
When her fingers curled around his collar, she saw open lust in his face. Only briefly though, because soon her eyes fluttered closed as he brought his head down to kiss her parted lips. The taste of fairy-brewed port flowed from his mouth to hers as their tongues collided. She could hardly call this kiss gentle. One of his hands slipped down her silk-clad back to hold her bum. The other roughly caressed her shoulder as he pushed her into the wall. Her own hands were spoilt for choice; they wandered to his tied hair, down to his shifting shoulder blades and over his arms.
He pulled away.
"Wait a minute, what're you –"
"We need to get back. Come," he said. Quite unfairly, he didn't sound nearly as breathless as she. He took her hand – for appearance's sake, she knew – and made for the darkened corridor.
"Wait," he stopped and she bumped into him, her nose smashing into his shoulder. He turned to her, raising his eyebrows slightly at the sight of her clutching her nose in pain. Then he reached over and mussed her hair until the French twist it was in was barely recognizable.
"Oi!" she yelped. He was too busy undoing the first button of his shirt and mussing his own hair to notice.
"A picture's worth a thousand words," he smirked, "And let's hope every one of them gets back to Narcissa."
She was beginning to admire his capacity for mischief more and more. And, she couldn't help but remind herself, his capacity for giving her a good seeing to.
When they rejoined the glittering crowd, they both smirked inwardly at the glances that were being shot from guest to guest. They relished each look, but none more than the piece of glorious, nuanced beauty that was Narcissa Black's face. A bloody piece of art it was; a pathetic attempt at passivity. Her shock and fury were betrayed by her twitching left eye, her jaw which looked mannish when set, and her upper lip which threatened to curl into a snarl.
"Excellent party, Narcissa. Be sure to get the place cleaned up tomorrow morning."
The two of them Disapparated once Narcissa's face was out of sight.
They reappeared in an unfamiliar room, one whose purpose was all too clear after a moment. His bed stood, in all its inviting grandeur, to her side.
"I still haven't gotten everything I want," Lucius said. He was already unbuttoning his shirt.