A bit of random fluff (or is it pre-fluff?) between Lucius and Narcissa in the early days of their marriage. Strictly speaking I messed with the ages a bit, but for the purposes of this piece it makes sense for Lucius to be that bit older than Narcissa...

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Disclaimer - I own nothing, but if I could, I'd like Bellatrix *flutters eyelashes at JK Rowling*

Lucius sighed to himself as he closed the heavy front door to Malfoy Manor. It wasn't as if he didn't enjoy serving the Dark Lord, and he certainly thought that it would reap numerous rewards in the future, but did he really have to be kept out until the early hours of the morning? And in a thunderstorm? Disgustedly, he took out his wand and performed a quick charm to dry his robes and hair. After only three weeks of marriage, he had already learnt that the quickest way to upset his young wife was to make any kind of a mess in the house. Other than that, he had found that he knew remarkably little about Narcissa. Unsurprising really, as she had been four years below him at Hogwarts, and somewhat more timid than her elder sisters, refusing to push herself into the limelight.

He had noticed her even so, had thought it impossible that anyone would not, with her long blonde hair like spun silk and huge blue eyes. But he had had a reputation to uphold, a gaggle of admiring Slytherins who hung on his every word and just would not have understood if he had wanted to date someone four years his junior. Would not have understood him wanting to date anyone at all, if the truth were known. Girls at that time were chattels, there to serve one purpose and one purpose alone. So he had put little Narcissa Black out of his mind and enjoyed his life of pleasure. Until a year ago.

It had been at a dinner party that he had heard of the scandal. Andromeda Black, almost the most rebellious of the sisters, at least in the Slytherin sense of the word, had run away with a Mudblood. Druella was beside herself, not only with anger at her middle daughter, but also with fear for the youngest. What self-respecting purebood wizard would marry Narcissa now, with this shame hanging over the family? He had leapt at the chance. The very next morning an owl was dispatched to Druella and Cygnus, and within a week the betrothal was finalised. No-one seemed to care that the bride and groom had never exchanged more than a couple of words.

Only now did he realise that it was a problem. In these dark and troubled times long engagements and honeymoons simply did not happen, so they had been flung from the grand, but nonetheless awkward, affair of their wedding straight into the everyday struggles of married life. At first, Lucius had been simply euphoric to have what he had always wanted. And Narcissa was not only the beautiful girl he remembered, but also the very essence of a perfect pureblood wife. She socialised, organised dinner parties, managed the household, and performed the other duties necessary to her role without complaint. But he did worry, and it was not often that Lucius worried about anyone other than himself, that she was unhappy. It was not that she seemed it, she was a Black after all, and would have been schooled from birth not to display such emotions. It was more that she was distant. This concerned him, that she felt the need to hide her emotions from him, her husband.

Ascending the stairs, he mused to himself that he would have to talk to Narcissa about the distance between them, in the morning perhaps. Outside, the storm was worsening. The gale howled and great thunderclaps and bolts of lightning seemed ready to cleave the sky in two. But as he approached the door to the master bedroom, another sound could be heard, though so quiet it was barely audible above the roar of the storm. A woman crying. Uncertainly, he pressed an ear to the door. Those were definitely sobs, though from the distorted sound, Narcissa was muffling them as best she could. Whatever could have happened? Perhaps her father...? Lucius knew he was ill, he had looked distinctly age-worn at the wedding, perhaps he had finally passed on...

He hesitated a moment outside the door. Narcissa's sister Bellatrix had been in his year at school and she had not been opposed to hexing people when she was upset, or angry, or...well to be honest she had just enjoyed hexing people. He was really hoping that this particular character trait did not run in the family. Bellatrix took tea at the Manor every Thursday and Lucius always made sure he was otherwise engaged and tried to ignore the ever-increasing number of scorch marks appearing on the expensive wallpaper in the parlour. But as Bellatrix was now also a Death Eater, tempted in by her husband Rodolphus, he supposed he may actually have to start acknowledging her every once in a while.

Another clap of thunder jolted him out of his thoughts, and as the sound died away the sobbing from within the bedroom seemed to intensify. Nothing for it but to go in, Lucius supposed, putting a tentative hand on the knocker. As he entered, his wife leapt up in bed, hurriedly wiping her face with her hand. The sobs, he noticed, had instantly stopped, and her expression was now the cold, blank mask she so often wore.

"Lucius." She greeted him, somewhat perfunctorily. "How was your evening?"

He waved away the polite enquiry, knowing that unless he cut straight to the chase he would lose his nerve. (Lucius Malfoy, nervous? Whispered a small voice in the back of his head. What has this girl done to you?)

"Narcissa I heard you crying. Is everything alright?" Inwardly he cursed, as the attempted tenderness came out stilted and altogether less smooth than usual.

"Crying..." Narcissa hesitated, clearly unwilling to talk about what was bothering her, but unable to lie and say she was fine when Lucius had such blinding evidence to the contrary before him. But before she could decide on an adequate choice of words, there was another thunderclap, lounder than before, and a tremor ran through her small frame as a look of utter terror passed across her face.

Lucius suddenly understood. "Is it the storm, darling?" He asked, his smooth demeanour returned to him somewhat now that he was not completely in the dark. Narcissa nodded, the faintest hint of a blush colouring her pale cheeks before a massive lightning bolt forced her to curl into a ball, burying her face in her knees.

Relief swept through Lucius, at finally being privy to something, anything, that his wife was feeling, along with another, more complex emotion. Something like compassion, and the fierce urge to protect her, something completely alien to Lucius Malfoy, at any rate. Still slightly hesitant, he sat down next to Narcissa on the bed, and gently wrapped his arm around her shaking shoulders. Her reaction, practically launching herself at him and burying her face in his chest, showed him that this had been the right thing to do. Relieved to note that she was not longer crying (he may have wanted her to be more open with him, but tears were something no man should have to deal with!), he held her like this until the lack of trembling, and slow, even breathing, told him that she was asleep. Gently, he laid her into a more comfortable position on the bed, before slipping under the sheets beside her. As he fell asleep, thinking that maybe that discussion would be a little easier after this experience, he realised something. That the strange foreign emotion which he had felt earlier...that was love.