Author's Notes: Written for Round Two of The Writer Competition on the HPFC forum. Special thanks to VivusEtIterum, my mentor for the competition.
Also, I'd like to dedicate this to Macbeth Mouse and Couture Girl, for helping come up with the idea and convincing me to write it.
I put Lucius and Narcissa as the main characters, since they do most of the interacting, but the main pairing IS Narcissa/Rodolphus. Enjoy…
It was during the party celebrating her and Lucius's first year anniversary that Narcissa finally cracked.
She had been standing around, forcing herself to play the happy, perfect wife, and she had seen Rodolphus Lestrange skulking at the back of the room, and she had snapped.
"Excuse me," she told the woman who had been talking to her, and hurried towards Rodolphus. "Rod," she hissed, "Rod, can I talk to you? Alone?"
Rodolphus's eyes narrowed to slits, and Narcissa gasped as he grabbed her wrist and yanked her towards the doorway, dragging her out into the corridor and then the nearest bedroom. He slammed the door behind them and turned on her.
"So," he said, his voice dripping in sarcasm, "You've decided I'm worth talking to now?"
"I- I wanted to talk about… about us," Narcissa told him, trembling a little now, worried by Rodolphus's roughness.
"Us? Us? There's no 'us' anymore, remember, Narcissa? You gave up 'us' when you married Lucius Malfoy."
"That's just it!" Narcissa's voice rose hysterically, tears filling her eyes. "It's Lucius! I can't stand being married to him another day! He's- he's a terrible husband- we haven't- haven't slept together since our honeymoon, he almost never even talks to me!"
"What do you want me to do about it, Narcissa?" Rodolphus demanded, Narcissa shrunk back in genuine fear. She had never heard Rodolphus sound so bitter – not even when she had told him about her engagement.
"What is it?"
"I miss you, Rod… I love you…"
He glared at her. "Good God, you're pathetic, Narcissa," he hissed. "You really are. You're the most pathetic excuse for a woman I know. You can't bring yourself to tell your parents that you won't marry that bastard Lucius Malfoy, you go off with him for a whole year and don't say a word to me- leave me to deal with that sister of yours- and she's always off in God-only-knows what man's bed- and then you come running back to me and tell me that you miss me? That you love me? And you expect me to believe you?"
Tears filled Narcissa's eyes. "I- I didn't mean to upset you," she whispered.
"Well, you did. You should go back to Lucius Malfoy's bed, where you belong."
He grabbed onto her shoulders and shook her hard, so hard that her head snapped back and forth. "Why did you do it?" he practically sobbed. "Why did you have to go get married to him?"
"You're hurting me!"
"Good!" Rodolphus snarled. "I want to hurt you! I want to hurt you as much as you hurt me!"
"I didn't mean to hurt you!"
"Like hell you didn't!" Rodolphus struck Narcissa hard across the face, and she crumpled to the ground, sobbing and pressing her hand to the offended cheek. "If you didn't mean to hurt me, you wouldn't have married–"
"Rodolphus…" Narcissa raised her head, and looked up at him through pale eyelashes frosted with tears. "Please, Rodolphus… I don't want to fight… please, I love you… and…" Her voice caught, "and even if we can't… be husband and wife… we can still… be together…" She blinked slowly, biting gently on her lower lip. "Can't we?"
Rodolphus was silent, not giving any sort of assent, but not disagreeing either. Narcissa's breath sped a little, and she lifted herself up to her knees, slowly crawling towards him. She rose to her feet, trying not to wince at the pain in her body from where he had gripped her frail shoulders or where she had bruised herself when she fell to the ground. "I still want you, Rodolphus…"
His face was utterly devoid of emotion as he pointed her towards the bed, and that was a relief to Narcissa. She knew Rodolphus well enough to know that that stony expression meant he was trying to keep from crying, and that meant that the danger had passed. He would not be hitting her again.
He was rough, and when the act was finally completed, Narcissa could feel the marks he had left upon her. She lay still, listening as he caught his breath, and she felt a small smile crawl across her face. Her body hurt now, but she would far rather have had the intense pleasure coupled with slight pain that Rodolphus could give her than the bland, mild semblance of satisfaction that she had received from Lucius, back when the two of them had still bothered to share a bed.
Narcissa turned over, and met Rodolphus's eyes.
For the first time since her engagement to Lucius, Narcissa saw Rodolphus smile.
The smile seemed sinister nine months later, when Narcissa was in childbed.
Narcissa was grateful for the requisite solitude that she was given after her son's birth. The days and nights went by after the baby had been born, before Lucius was permitted to visit his wife, gave Narcissa time to think.
She was grateful, at least, that the baby resembled her and had none of Rodolphus about it – she dared not imagine the scandal that would have been caused if she had borne a child with the dark hair and strong features of the Lestranges, instead of the pale, delicate complexion that she an Lucius shared.
But, though the public would be fooled by the baby's corn silk hair and pointed features, Lucius would not.
Narcissa could hardly deny to him that it was not his son she had borne – the two of them had not shared a bed for years. She would have no explanation to give him save for infidelity.
Oh, how desperately she wished she could speak to Rodolphus – have him comfort her, tell her things would be all right. Rodolphus would know what to do…
But the last time Narcissa had seen Rodolphus had been months ago, and he had simply been coming to collect Bellatrix. It was not as though Narcissa could ask for him either, not without arousing suspicion.
On the third day after the birth, when Lucius was finally allowed to visit, Narcissa braced herself for a fight – perhaps even for a divorce. She sat in bed, with her son in her arms, and let her face betray no expression as Lucius stepped in and closed the door.
His voice sounded calm, but cold, and Narcissa found herself trembling. She had heard her husband speak with this tone before, and it never boded well.
"Are you well?" He took a seat next to her, meeting her eyes and not looking at the baby.
"F- fine." Narcissa's voice trembled and she paused, taking a deep breath and letting it out slowly. "As well as can be expected."
"And the baby?" Now Lucius's done had passed cold and gone practically bitter.
Narcissa bit her lip, took another breath, and recited the lines she had prepared. "A son. He is very healthy and strong."
There was silence. Narcissa did not want to say any more for fear of seeming too talkative and giving herself away, and Lucius seemed unwilling to speak at all. The two of them sat, stiff and nervous, until Lucius finally said, "Whose is he?"
"The child. Who is the father?"
"I don't know what you–"
"Oh, don't pretend, Narcissa!" Lucius's voice cracked slightly, and Narcissa could tell how hard he was trying to stop himself from breaking down and crying… or from breaking down and cursing her. "I know full well he isn't mine, and things will be far easier if you just tell me whose it is."
Narcissa could not answer. There was a lump in her throat and she could not speak around it – for all her complaints about Lucius, she could not help but feel guilty for what she had done. He was not such a bad man, and he didn't deserve…
"Narcissa." His tone had gone calm and cool once again, and Narcissa looked up at him worriedly. "I… I forgive you," he said quietly. "I will not divorce you. I- I will raise that child as though he is my own."
"What?" Narcissa had never felt so shocked, and she was sure it showed in her face. "Wh- why?" she blurted out. She didn't understand – she had wronged Lucius, she knew that. How could he forgive her?
"Because I love you," Lucius said simply. "And I'd rather have you as my wife, with another man's son, than not have you at all."
Tears sprung to Narcissa's eyes. She did not deserve this – she deserved to be punished, and yet…
Lucius turned away. "Besides," he said. "The scandal it would cause if I left you so soon after the child was born… it is more than either of us should be forced to take."
"Th- thank you…" Narcissa whispered, voice thick with tears of gratitude. She did not care whether Lucius's motivation was that he loved her or if it simply was the threat of public scandal if there was a divorce. "This is- far more than I deserve…"
"We shall speak no more of it," Lucius said simply. "I will raise the child as my own, and no one need ever know of this."
"Y- yes, of course."
"Have you chosen his name yet?"
"Draco," Narcissa whispered. "If… if that is all right with you?"
He held out his arms and Narcissa carefully laid her son in them. Lucius looked down at the child, and forced a smile.
"Draco is the perfect name for my son," he said, and though Narcissa could still hear a twinge of bitterness, it was masked by pride. Lucius truly did sound as though he was willing to convince himself that Draco was his son.
Narcissa felt a flood of relief at that thought, and lay back in bed, smiling at her husband and her – their, she reminded herself, their – son.