Title inspired by: "Doubt, indulged and cherished, is in danger of becoming denial; but if honest, and bent on thorough investigation, it may soon lead to full establishment of the truth." –Ambrose Bierce

Doubt, Indulged and Cherished

It all started when the Dark Lord decided to send a group of his servants to capture the girl.

You were a part of that group, and although you didn't understand why the girl was so important, you were honored to have been selected as the mission's leader. You and your comrades went to get her during the night and found her fast asleep in a thin, revealing nightgown. This, of course, sent your immature fellow Death Eaters into lustful frenzies: "Let us do it, c'mon, Lucius, the Dark Lord will never know!" Disgusted – why would they waste their energy on a Mudblood? – you told them that they were acting no better than halfbreeds, before grabbing the girl's arm and Apparating away.

The other men followed suit, but you had already handed the girl over to the Dark Lord by the time they caught up with you. They took out their frustration by teasing you about caring about her, wanting her to remain 'pure' – or, more likely, wanting her for yourself.

Preposterous, all that, of course. The only thing you wanted was favor from the Dark Lord, who had asked for the girl unharmed. So you had given him exactly that. Your role was done; you didn't give a damn what happened to the girl now.

After all, she was just a Mudblood. She wasn't worth your time.

*(*)*

You weren't surprised to see her at the Death Eaters' meeting the next morning. You were surprised to see her there alive. Very much alive, in fact: well cared for, even, in a dress the same shade as her eyes, that somehow toned down the abhorrent brightness of her hair at the same time.

Most… unusual. What were the Dark Lord's plans for her?

This was made clear by the master himself. "Miss Evans," as he called the girl, had refused his invitation to join the Death Eaters. So he had decided to allow her two weeks to change her mind, living amongst the Death Eaters during that time so she would see that her opinions about them were mistaken. Throughout this and the rest of the meeting, Lily was silent. It took until the end of the meeting and a subtle flick of the Dark Lord's wand for you to realize that he had been forcing her to remain that way.

Somehow you doubted that that would do much to change the Mudblood's mind. Nonetheless you said nothing, choosing instead to greet her – as ordered – with the rest of the Death Eaters.

"Lucius Malfoy," you introduced yourself, giving her a respectful nod. "Pleased to make your acquaintance."

"I wish I could say the same," she replied coldly. "Lily Evans – devoted member of the Order of the Phoenix."

You arched a pale eyebrow. "You would do well to watch your manners here, Miss Evans. Especially around me, without whom you would have lost your virtue, let's say, last night."

The redhead's jaw dropped. Clearly that was the last thing she had expected to hear. Smirking, you bowed your head again and left.

*(*)*

Unfortunately, your comment – spoken rashly, without thinking – instead of giving the Mudblood reason to respect you in quiet awe, as you had hoped, had put her under the impression that you were less likely to hurt her than your fellows. So at one o'clock – the time allotted to her by the Dark Lord to 'socialize' with the other Death Eaters – it was you she called to her room.

She opened the door just seconds after your knock and gave you a small, wary smile. "Hello, Lucius. I see the house elf found you. Come on in, have a seat wherever you like – "

"I'll stand, thank you," you cut her off. "Do you have something in particular you wish to speak of? If not, Miss Evans, then I am a busy man. I have much more worthwhile things to do with my time."

Her eyes widened briefly as she understood how wrong first impressions could be; then, they narrowed.

"You are deeply mistaken, Mr. Malfoy. If I remember correctly, your Dark Lord said that for these two weeks, I am to be treated like royalty. Royalty gets what they ask for, and in this case, I requested your company. Therefore – in the eyes of your master, at least – nothing else you have to do can be more important than what I want right now." She paused. "If you really can't be swayed, then I'll just have to inform your master of your rudeness and your disobedience. Somehow I doubt that would please him very much, don't you, Mr. Malfoy?"

Several emotions swept through your mind at once. Shock. Indignation. Anger. And, most of all, a grudging respect that you were sure the girl had planned.

You sat down. Smiling, the Mudblood sat across from you and began to talk.

*(*)*

She was like a flame: big and bright and desperate to share her warmth with someone. Desperate for the attention that she was so accustomed to – even if it came from you. And you – well, you were only human, and hasn't Man always been attracted to fire? So you fed the flame with what it wanted, fascinated and enchanted, and grew more and more comfortable around the warmth, less and less cautious and afraid. Yet whenever you tried to move closer, the flame would dance away, flickering and trembling, just out of your reach.

You knew, in the back of your mind, that it was better this way, for both you and her: did you really want to be burned? Did you really want to risk putting out that flame?

You never got the chance to decide. That Potter boy came to the aid of his damsel-in-distress the day before she had to make her decision, bringing half of the Order of the Phoenix with him. You fought with the Death Eaters, of course, and caught only one glimpse of your flame before she was whisked away.

Except that she wasn't a flame anymore. She was smoke: more dangerous and even more elusive than before.

You were able to turn back to the battle with ease. You never looked back.

(But you never told the Dark Lord that she was getting away, either.)

*(*)*

This is dedicated to my friend TheGirlWhoLikesBooks, who dared me to write this pairing (a long, long time ago :P), and my friend Inkfire, who betaed this for me. Thanks so much to both of you! :)

Thanks much for reading- hope you like it! Please review!

-Joelle8