Lucius lay sprawled across the dark leather settee of the Slytherin common room, scowling. It was late. He glanced at the ornate clock on the far side of the room, dismayed that the time read half past midnight. He was alone in the darkened chamber, eyes tracing a miserable trail from the timepiece to the entryway, over and over again. Something was wrong.

His entire body was held stiff and rigid, the muscles of his broad shoulders tightened and his knuckles white. His jaw was clenched and, despite his best efforts, his could not force his breaths to be steady or even. Futilely, he fought to locate the easy languor that usually held him, searching in vain for the calm veneer for which he was so widely known. He shifted uncomfortably, trying to relieve the aching tension that gripped his body. He didn't understand it- she would be back soon, and he truly had no cause for concern. Just... He looked at the clock once more. It was so late.

He closed his eyes, inhaling raggedly. She was always in the castle before now, always. She would come back early, bid her hapless suitor good night, and then curl up with Lucius on his bed, head propped helplessly on his shoulder, as she bemoaned how dreadful the evening had been. He would pat he back and tell her not to worry, and begrudge the boy no hard feelings. Really, it wasn't their fault that she deserved only the best, and none could live up to her standards. He'd always told her to never settle.

His head snapped up at the grating sound of the common room door scraping open. He was on his feet in a flash, rather unsure of why his hands were balled into fists, and a beautiful blonde slipped in, giggling.

Lucius allowed himself only a moment to admire his best friend. Her long, straight hair was disheveled, and the fabulous robes that he had unwillingly helped her choose seemed mussed as well. He'd insisted that the plain black school uniform that she normally wore would suffice, but she'd declared otherwise. And now, that exquisite blue gown she'd purchased hung carelessly off one shoulder, and Evan Rosier stumbled in behind her, curling an arm around her waist and dipping his head to whisper something in her ear. She tilted her head back, laughing again-

Lucius saw red. He couldn't understand the knotting of his stomach, nor justify the sickening rage that threatened to overwhelm him, and he didn't recognize his voice as he called out her name.

"Narcissa!"

Her head twitched in his direction at the sound, and she gave him a look of utter shock.

"Lucius? What are you still doing up?" she asked, not angry, but wary.

What was he doing? What was HE doing? "I always wait up for you, Cissy," he replied carefully, struggling to keep a grip on his temper. This was unacceptable; he was Lucius Malfoy. He was always in control. He shot a baleful look at the Rosier boy (who he'd never liked anyhow), before adding, offhandedly, "So we can go to bed together."

Narcissa's eyes narrowed as Lucius glanced up innocently- much to his glee, Evan looked betrayed and furious.

"That's not what- that is, he's not saying what you think, Evan," Narcissa assured him quickly. "Were you, Lucius?" she snapped pointedly. Lucius shrugged.

"Obviously not. I mean, she always goes back to her dormitory to sleep once we're done."

Two bright spots of color appeared on Narcissa's cheeks, and she grabbed Evan's sleeve, as he was backing slowly away. "Hang on, just a second," she pleaded. "I have to speak with Lucius for a moment." She headed briskly across the stone floor, heels tapping. Heels? He distinctly remembered telling her the not-sexy shoes, the plain brown ones, would be fine. Had she not listened to him?

"What in Merlin's name do you think you're doing?" she snarled under her breath when she reached him. He stared at her critically, and reached out to pointedly right her sleeve.

"I think the question is, what have you been doing?"

She turned an appealing shade of pink, but would not be deterred. "I don't understand why you're acting like this!" she hissed, poking his firmly muscled chest emphatically. Lucius glared right back down at her- he had taught her everything she knew about intimidation, and while she might be able to make other boys and younger Slytherins cower, the teacher would forever be the master over his student. Narcissa swallowed hard, and dropped her eyes to his set shoulders. Frowning, she reached out.

"What's the matter with you?" she demanded, fury mingled with concern. Something wasn't right- he was shifting restlessly, and his icy pale skin was uncharacteristically flushed. She pressed cool fingertips to his cheek and, despite himself, Lucius felt the twitch of a smile at her touch. Immediately, she jerked her hand away.

"Don't you do this," she commanded, voice low and dangerous. "Don't you dare do this now!"

He didn't ask what she meant. His entire being rebelled against the thought of Rosier touching her, and his stomach tightened. It wouldn't happen. He wouldn't let it.

"Come to bed with me, Narcissa," he blurted, grasping her wrist and pulling her close. Her eyes widened in shock, and she attempted unsuccessfully to wrench herself away.

"I told, you, no! The date went wonderfully, and I don't need you right now. Let me go!"

She didn't understand. "I need you," he replied roughly, wondering how he had never seen it before. He saw it now- it hit him like a lead brick to the gut. How could he have been so stupid, so utterly blind? "Narcissa," he continued meaningfully, his gaze intense and voice husky as he repeated, "come to bed with me."

Color flooded Narcissa's face, and she seemed at a loss for words. This simply could not be happening, not tonight. Tonight, of all nights! She'd waited so long...

Narcissa had long been told that men were dense, and wholeheartedly agreed with the adage. Lucius performed brilliantly in all of his classes, had a sharp wit and grasped any presented concept with a prehensile mind, but... the number of times she'd tried! The moment she'd met Lucius, in her very first year of Hogwarts, she'd decided herself smitten with him. He'd found her amusingly flighty and petty, and tucked her contentedly under his wing. He'd shown her around the castle, and defended her from harassing upperclassmen, and in return, she'd worshipped him unquestioningly. However, as the years went on, their relationship had balanced out and become something much different- a friendship. They'd been best friends from about the same time Narcissa had realized childish affection had grown into almost unbearable desire and love. However, Lucius's first romantic relationship had emerged at almost the same moment, and while it was a short lived affair, it marked the birth of an entirely new Lucius- one that was suddenly, too intensely male, one that kept Narcissa like a sister and companion and held no other sort of interest in her. She hated seeing him with other girls, hated the way she would prance unsuspectingly into a deserted corridor and find him pressing some classmate or another against the wall, hands under the hussy's shirt, and she hated the nights when he'd slide an arm around her waist, place his lips to her ear and whisper, "Don't come visit tonight, sweetheart. I'll be otherwise engaged."

It was not for lack of trying! Narcissa dolled herself up every day, insisted that they go to Hogsmeade together as often as possible, entirely abused the physical proximity he allowed... and nothing! Not a thing! She'd gone on date after miserable date, hoping that someone else could make her half as happy and comfortable as Lucius, to no avail.

But tonight- she'd had so much fun! She couldn't remember the last time she'd laughed so much, and Evan had kissed her and she kissed him back and dared to think 'what if'. But now Lucius was changing his mind? Did he finally realize...?

No. He couldn't. He was simply jealous- and his possessiveness knew no bounds. If she were to go with him, it would probably be the best night of her life- but in the morning? What then?

Narcissa closed her eyes, swallowing hard. Their friendship would be over. He would know she was in love with him, and he would see that he did not return the sentiment.

"No," she choked, placing both hands on his chest and pushing back firmly. He didn't budge. "Lucius, no."

"Evan, get out of here," he barked, ignoring her resistance, eyes never leaving her face.

"I was the one she went on a date with," Evan shot back, glowering. Lucius expression turned murderous, and he tore his gaze from Narcissa at last.

"You think I'm fucking kidding, Rosier?" He was already reaching for his wand. "I swear if you're not out of my sight in three seconds-" Evan had sprinted to his dormitory before Lucius could finish the sentence. Chuckling darkly, Lucius shoved his wand back in his pocket. "Bloody coward- Cissy!" For the first time, he saw the tears of frustration bright in her eyes. "What's wrong?"

"'What's wrong?'" she echoed incredulously. "'What's wrong?'" Her voice was reaching a dangerously shrill pitch. "I'll tell you what's wrong, Lucius Malfoy! You are a bloody moron and you're ruining my life-oh!"

Whatever she planned to say next was lost as he crushed his lips to hers, dragging her against him.

For a moment, Lucius's head spun with heady bliss. All these years wasted on friendship and talking, when he could have spent hours, days, just enjoying her lips. What had he been thinking? Protecting her from filthy-minded boys, when he should have been corrupting her himself?

This thought only had vague form, as he was struggling with any cognition at all. He gave up quickly, pinning her struggling body against his and holding her head uncompromisingly still so he could delve deeper, flicking his tongue over her lips, which were pressed tight to refuse him entrance.

"For Salazar's sake, Cissy," he grumbled, pulling back and placing a finger and his thumb on either side of her jaw, considering the idea of forcing her to open her pretty little mouth to him. "Kiss me back."

"I won't!" she cried, still trying to squirm from his grasp. "You're a dreadful human being," she gasped, turning her face away to avoid another onslaught of kisses. "Let go of me! Lucius, stop it!"

Her distraught tone finally cut through his mindless, lustful haze. He released her, albeit reluctantly, and she stumbled back, chest heaving and eyes wide.

"What was that?" she demanded, somewhat fearfully. Lucius shrugged, looking both defiant and sheepish.

"Well, whatever it was... it's just ruined our friendship."

Lucius knew she was right. There was no way he could ever again have her curl up in his bed without being consumed by thoughts of ravishing her; he could never listen to her talk about another crush without murdering the other boy out of jealousy.

He knew he should give her time to calm down. He should step back, tell her to sleep on it, and have a rational discussion in the morning. She needed space and he knew it. However, he didn't care. He had needs, too, and he wanted them gratified now.

"I've thought it over," he announced, rather pompously. "I think you're right."

A pained look flashed over her face, and she ducked her head to hide it from him.

"However," he continued loudly, "I don't think that should stop us..." From pursuing a relationship? Too formal. Being lovers? No, too married-with-a-mistress. Getting married? Probably a bit early. Spending time together? Too weak; it gave the wrong impression. From having sex? Certainly the worst option. Also, the one he chose to vocalize.

"What?"

"That came out wrong. What I mean is, just because we can't be friends, doesn't mean that we still shouldn't be together."

"'Be together?'"

"Well, yes. We shouldn't just cut one another out of our lives," he suggested flippantly; adding, in the same offhanded tone, "You know, just in case it turns out that I love you, or something like that."

"'Just in case?'"

"Yes."

"You are incorrigibly arrogant."

"You are correct."

Narcissa rolled her eyes, a defeated grin creeping over her lips. "What if I don't love you back?"

"Well, you will."

"And why's that?"

"Because I'm Lucius Malfoy."