A/N: I have no idea where this came from. I got the urge to write Regulus, and the plot sprang fully-formed to my mind like Athena from Zeus' forehead. No idea how long this will be, but enjoy while it lasts?

Disclaimer: Everything's property of the lovely Jo Rowling, whose talent I can never hope to match.

Chapter 1

Lucius Malfoy, Regulus knows, is a shirt-lifter.

There is absolutely no denying it. The man is simply too pretty to be a heterosexual, all that long flowing blonde hair and the dainty way he walks with his little stick. The serpent head at the top is a desperate attempt to make it manlier. It is unsuccessful.

Lucius Malfoy was one year graduated from Hogwarts when Regulus was a first year, but while they never attended school together, they did meet on several occasions. Being the heir to the prominent Malfoy family, it was common for Lucius, as well as his parents, to appear at Black family events, and it was just as common for Regulus and Sirius to be forced into their best dress robes and carted off to Malfoy family events.

Regulus recalls his first meeting with Lucius Malfoy. He was ten and Lucius was seventeen, and Regulus walked into the bathroom to find Lucius with his hand up Regulus' cousin's skirt. Narcissa had giggled in a typical girlish fashion — she was only sixteen at the time — and playfully smacked his hand away.

"Reggy," she said, patting his head, "be a dear and keep this quiet from your mum and Auntie Druella, won't you?"

Regulus had nodded, then promptly ran off and told Sirius, who proceeded to tell their aunt, who found Lucius Malfoy and gave him a good, hard slap to the face.

"Sweet little cousin you've got," Lucius had said to Narcissa later, tossing his head in Regulus' direction. "Pity he's the second born."

Regulus had given him a defiant glare, stomped on his foot, and hidden behind his mother.

Now Regulus is seventeen. It has been three months since he became a Death Eater, and already he finds himself hating every inch of it. He's always thought wizard blood to be superior to that of Muggles, was raised to think that way — but rather than inspiring group think, the twisted joy his fellows get from torturing the innocent has made him realize something.

Pureblood supremacy is a load of bullocks, he thinks, and Lord Voldemort is nothing more than a madman with a bit more magical talent than the average bear and the ability to make compelling speeches. He is Grindelwald reborn, except he doesn't hide behind false compassion for Muggles. Regulus' parents have exalted Grindelwald in the past, but Regulus knows one thing: Grindelwald could be defeated, and that means so can Voldemort.

Regulus is in as good a position as anyone else. He is on the inside. He has access to information the Order of the Phoenix can only dream of getting.

But he's going to do this on his own.

Lucius Malfoy is high enough in Voldemort's ranks, and he is, of course, an enormous shirt-lifter. Regulus can see it in Lucius' interactions with his cousin. They are mechanical, forced; they are married not because of love but because of obligation. When they make love, Regulus thinks Lucius imagines a man just to keep his dick hard.

Regulus is going to make Lucius think of him, his cousin and his dignity be damned. This is bigger than any of it.

It starts at the annual Black family Christmas party. Aunt Druella is hosting this year, so while Narcissa is being chatted up about her marriage and her new life at Malfoy Manor, Lucius wanders about, inserting himself into every conversation he can — making connections, Regulus notes approvingly. The man knows what he's doing, but of course, being an heir, he was brought up to act like one.

Regulus snags him eventually, at the drinks table, pouring dark red wine into a bulbous glass.

"Mr. Malfoy," he says, holding out a hand. "I don't know if we've ever been properly introduced."

"More times than I can count," Lucius says in his drawling voice. "I do recall you attended my wedding."

"Yes, yes, and at meetings, but they're much too formal."

Lucius gives him a sharp look. "Watch your tongue, boy. A certain level of discretion is required in our… line of work."

"Of course, of course. But you know, Mr. Malfoy, I've been hoping to get to know you a bit more personally. We relate somewhat, after all, don't we?"

"Do we?" Lucius raised a pale eyebrow. "How do you figure?"

"Well," Regulus said cautiously, "both the heir to a prominent pureblood family… now that dear Sirius has gone the way of the Weasleys, that is."

"Nearly everyone with whom either of us associates is the heir to a prominent pureblood family," Lucius said coolly. "So why don't you tell the truth."

Sharp. I like that in a man. "The truth, is it? The truth is that I find you a particularly intriguing man, I suppose, and do I need a better reason to want to get to know a person?"

"I am twenty-four years old, you know, and you're hardly out of childhood. You're still pubescent, for goodness' sake. Why don't you find someone your own age to knock about with?"

"Like I said," Regulus presses on, "I find you intriguing. I realize, of course, that there is a very good possibility you will find me obnoxious — you seem like the sort to find most anyone obnoxious — but I'll do my best."

Lucius doesn't look convinced.

"We're family now, after all," Regulus says. "We're stuck with each other at these bloody parties for the next thousand or so years. Nice to have someone to talk to whose arse you don't have to kiss, innit?"

"I believe you're doing that already," Lucius says evenly, and Regulus laughs.

"Trust me, if I were kissing your arse, you'd know."

He invites Lucius to dinner at some ritzy place that only serves wizards — one of the last in England that does, and Regulus knows they're among people like his parents, people who think old Voldemort's got the right idea. The thought of it makes him queasy as they're seated, but he tries to hide it and thinks he does a good job. Lucius doesn't seem to notice, in any case.

"Have you been here before?" Regulus asks, glancing over the menu idly.

"Of course. You?"

"First time, actually. I hear good things, though. Recommend anything?"

"They have fabulous pasta here, if you're in that sort of mood, and it's paired with a nice dry white wine. Or if you'd like it a bit heavier, their filet mignon is the best I've ever had."

"A connoisseur, I see. Are you a regular?"

"With the staggering number of Muggle patrons in most wizard-run restaurants, I find myself rather confined to a select few. This is one of them." He gives a small sweep of his hand around the place, the corners of his mouth lifting into an expression of supreme smugness. "Not a Muggle in sight."

"And excellent food, apparently," Regulus adds. "Do you know, I think I will have the filet mignon. You've talked it up, and I'm quite in a steak mood. What wine would you suggest, then? I'm thinking Cabernet."

"A good choice. And to think this is your first time out all on your own. You're doing so well." Lucius' tone is sarcastic, but with the lightest hint of playfulness that lets Regulus know he's moving in the right direction.

"I never said it was my first time at a restaurant," Regulus says defensively. "Though I won't deny it. Have I been obvious?"

"Not entirely. Mostly you're seventeen, after all, and not even finished with school yet. I can't imagine you've had much time to be out and about."

Regulus scowls. "Must you keep bringing up my age as if it's some crippling disease?"

"I hardly think it can be anything but."

"So I take it you were unable to be a functioning human being when you were seventeen as well?"

"Aren't we all?"

"Well," Regulus says, "apparently I'm functioning enough for… the activity we're mutually involved in."

"You're being trained for said activity," Lucius said, a bit sharply. "There's a distinct difference between that and actually doing it. Don't get to thinking you're a hotshot because you've got the Mark."

"Oh, I wasn't thinking that at all. I just think that if I were wholly incompetent, I wouldn't have the Mark at all."

"Unfortunately, we do have some wholly incompetent people among us."

"Make the rest of us look better by comparison, though, don't they?" Regulus grinned. "Some nutters in there too, aren't there. Dear cousin Bellatrix has lost any marbles she ever had. Raving, the woman is. I'm not speaking as a… well, a you-know-what, but as her cousin, so I'm allowed."

"You're toeing a line, and you'd better hold your tongue around He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named. Bellatrix is practically his right hand."

"Oh, really?" Regulus blinks innocently. "I thought you were his right hand."

Lucius stares at him for a good ten seconds before he gives a short bark of laughter. "Now you're kissing my arse."

"Maybe a bit," Regulus replies.