Author's Notes: Written for the 2H option of Lady Phoenix Fire Rose's One Hour Competition on the HPFC forum, with the pairing Narcissa/Rabastan and the prompts "What!" and "I'm hungry".
Warnings: Contains references to various types of incest, and to anorexia. Compliant with Les Étrangers.
Narcissa had hoped that Rabastan would be the one to answer the door at Lestrange Manor when she knocked. It would have been so much easier that way – if she hadn't had to see Rodolphus.
Just her luck, of course – he was the one who greeted her.
"Cissa…" he murmured, pulling her inside and instantly pressing her against the wall, his lips barely inches from her ear. "So good to see you… my parents are out – we can go right up to my room…"
"I'm not here to see you, Rod." She put her hands firmly on his chest, pushing him away. "I've come to see Rabastan. Is he home."
"Rabastan?" Rodolphus's eyes narrowed. "What do you want to see him for?"
Narcissa sighed. She had known that she would have to explain things to Rodolphus at some point, but had hoped it wouldn't be quite so soon. "Rod… it's about… well, Rabastan was engaged to Andromeda, you know–"
"Of course I know that! What's your point?"
"Well, he was engaged to her, and… and, well, now she's gone, and Mother and Father think that your parents would be angry…"
Rodolphus looked positively nauseous. "Oh, I see. Well, if that's what it's about, then fine. Go talk to him. He's in the kitchens." He shoved her away roughly and stormed off – probably going up to his bedroom to sulk. If Narcissa had had a little more patience, she would have followed him, but no, she had neither the time nor the energy to try to convince Rodolphus not to be angry at her.
She was going to have a hard enough time convincing Rabastan.
Narcissa sighed. If there had been some way out of this – other than running away…
But of course there wasn't.
She turned resolutely away from the stairs that led up to Rodolphus's bedroom – oh, how she yearned to follow him – and stamped down the stairs, positively fuming.
It's not fair.
She flung the door of the kitchen open, kicking aside the Lestranges' house-elf when it tried to approach her, and glared at the table, where Rabastan was sitting, picking listlessly at a piece of rather stale looking chocolate cake.
"That looks positively vile," Narcissa said, before she could stop herself. She winced – oh, now there's a good first impression to make.
Rabastan glared at her. "I'm hungry," he snapped irritably, "and I don't much care what you think, Narcissa."
Narcissa snorted. "Oh, I'm sure you don't," she said. The damage was done already, and there was no possible way that this meeting was going to go even a little bit well. She might as well be honest. "You're just the picture of good self esteem, especially when it comes to food. I mean, it's not like you're… you know… anorexic, or anything."
Rabastan's face paled. "Don't even say that," he hissed, setting down the cake.
"I've seen you eating at Christmas parties – or, rather, pushing the food around and slipping it into a napkin under the table when no one's looking at you." Narcissa smirked triumphantly. She knew that he thought that no one knew his habits about food – oh, how very wrong he was. "Don't think for a minute that you can fool me."
"I don't like meat," he hissed viciously. "And everything that get's served at Christmas time is meat. Just because I don't swallow everything within reach, that doesn't mean…"
"Of course it doesn't." Narcissa's lips twisted and she shook her head at him. She had already won – there was no need to push the matter any further. She pulled out a chair at the kitchen table and sat down, watching him and raising one eyebrow a little, wondering if he would be able to eat now that someone was watching. If the look on his face was any indication, she suspected that the answer was no.
"Go on and eat, then," she prompted. "Just hurry up and finish so that I can tell you what my parents wanted me to."
Rabastan looked at his plate, then shoved it away angrily and turned to her, crossing his arms protectively over his chest. "No, that's fine," he snapped at her. "Go on. Tell me what your parents wanted you to say – I've rather… lost my appetite."
"Fine, then," said Narcissa, with a careless little shrug. "My parents wanted me to ask you whether you would mind if I wore Andromeda's wedding dress, or if you'd rather they make a different one for me."
There was a beat in which Rabastan's expression changed from angry, defensive and defiant to confused. "What?" he asked slowly. "Andromeda's wedding dress? What are you on about?"
"Andromeda's wedding dress," Narcissa repeated. "You know, the one she was going to wear when you and she got married. The seamstresses finished it just before she left you–"
"She didn't leave me!" Rabastan cried. His voice rose several notes, and his eyes blazed angrily at the mere suggestion. "Don't say that, not ever! I don't know why she ran away, but it wasn't because of me! It wasn't!"
"Mm, I'm sure…"
Rabastan slapped Narcissa across the face. His open palm made a satisfying cracking noise against her flesh, but aside from making her jump, more from the sound than the feeling, it did not the slightest bit of harm to her. If he had been stronger, she might have screamed and had her parents come running in to drag him away for daring to lay a hand on their precious little girl, but as it was, she just laughed at him.
"God, I can hit harder than that," she told him with a sneer, touching her cheek. "You're such a girl, Rabastan. Anyhow, Mother and Father wanted to know if you'd mind me wearing Andromeda's wedding dress–"
"I don't give a fuck what you get married in!" he told her, still sounding slightly hysterical. "You could get married wearing a dress made out of curtains for all I care! Why should it matter to me?"
"You're not letting me finish," Narcissa said impatiently. "I was going to say that they wanted me to ask you if it would be all right for me to wear her wedding dress for our wedding–"
"Our wedding?" Comprehension dawned slowly on Rabastan's face and he shook his head slowly. "Our wedding? You can't mean…"
"Yes, our wedding." Narcissa had to restrain a smirk at the look on Rabastan's face. "Mother and Father thought that it would be rude for us to leave you with a bride now that Andromeda's run away…"
"What?" Rabastan demanded, looking outraged. "No! Absolutely not! I'm not going to- to let you replace Andromeda! Who do you think I am?"
"It's not who I think you are," Narcissa said frostily. "It's who my parents think you are, and believe me when I say that if I had a choice, you and I would most definitely not be getting married."
"I won't marry you!" shouted Rabastan. He leapt to his feet and started backing away, as though he was expecting Narcissa to grab him and force a wedding ring onto his finger. "Never! Do you think that I'm out of my bloody mind? Andromeda's only been gone a few days, for God's sake! She's going to come back!"
"No, she isn't." Narcissa's patience snapped. "You're talking like marrying me is the worst fate that you could ever come to – do you not realize how many men would kill to sleep with me? Kill to marry me?" Your brother included, she added in her mind, and though she didn't say it, the way in which her mouth twisted into a derisive sneer probably gave her away.
"Well, I'm not one of them! I was happy to be marrying Andromeda – I'm not going to just turn around and marry you!" he shouted.
"She turned around and married that Mudblood Ted Tonks without any regrets," Narcissa pointed out delicately. "I don't see why you should want to be so faithful to her."
"You can't be- you can't be serious!" Rabastan's voice rose, and he actually clutched at his hair in sheer frustration. "You can't really want to get married to me – what about Lucius Malfoy; weren't you supposed to marry him?"
"Mother doesn't want me to," Narcissa said with a careless shrug. "She won't bother to tell me why, so don't even bother asking, but she gets all tearful every time it comes up. I think she's positively thrilled to have me marrying you instead."
"That's really vile," Rabastan hissed. "You don't care about anyone, do you?"
"Oh, I care about plenty of people," Narcissa snapped, quite insulted. She liked to think of herself as the empathetic one of her sisters – not that she had any real competition, given how Andromeda had run away and how Bellatrix was… well, Bellatrix. "Just not about Lucius, and not about you. It's nothing personal," she added.
"You disgust me – you really do!"
"And, funnily enough, I don't care about your opinions at all. And, unlike what you say when you tell me that you don't care what I think of your eating habits, that's the truth."
Rabastan turned away. "Just get the fuck out. I don't even want to see you."
"Yeah, well, you'll have to soon enough," Narcissa all but sang. She couldn't think of anything she wanted to do less than marry Rabastan, but she had to admit that she was having a good time tormenting him. It was just so easy. "You'll have to see me, and kiss me, and bed me–"
"…Which I imagine isn't going to be too terribly fun for you, if what your brother says is true…"
"What?" Rabastan turned back, and now his eyes were wide and wary and he was giving Narcissa a look as though she was about to pounce on him and rip him to shreds. "What are you talking about? What has my brother said?" And when Narcissa didn't answer immediately, he shouted, "Tell me what he's said about me!"
"Oh…" she said, rather carelessly, "just that you don't have much of a taste for girls."
His eyes flashed and he flew over to her, shaking her. "What do you mean? What did he say? Tell me what he said!"
"It might be fun for us to get married, actually…" Narcissa continued, in a high, sweet, innocent little voice. "We could discuss men… who do you reckon is better, Rab – Lucius or Rodolphus? Lucius has size on his side, I suppose, but it's not much good if he doesn't know how to use it…"
"Are you… insinuating…" Rabastan was struggling for words, and Narcissa could tell what a terrible time he was having trying to find the right ones, "that you think I've- I've bedded them?"
"I don't think you've bedded them, Rabastan, darling," Narcissa said, drawing out the last word and batting her eyelashes innocently. "I know you've bedded them. Rodolphus told me, you see, about how he walked in on you and Lucius… and I know all about you and him…"
Rabastan fell back swallowing and wiping his brow hurriedly, apparently trying very hard to find the proper words. "He's- lying…" was all he could manage.
"You don't have to be ashamed, you know… not with me…" Narcissa had the upper hand now, and she intended to exploit it for all that it was worth. "So, this makes me wonder… what did you fancy so much about Andromeda? Was it that you knew that she wouldn't mind if you slept around on her?"
"No! I wouldn't have been unfaithful to Andromeda!"
"But I know that you fancy men… so…?"
Rabastan's face was crimson, and he just barely managed to say, through gritted teeth, "It's possible to love someone without wanting to sleep with them, you know – or, rather, no, I suppose that you don't know, do you? Because you've slept with everyone who you're meant to love…"
The blood drained from Narcissa's face, but she managed to keep her voice from trembling, and simply said, "I don't know what you mean."
"Oh, don't you?" His face twisted into a perverse sneer. "I think you do."
"If you mean me and my sisters," she hissed, dropping her voice so that, if anyone happened to be listening (God forbid that Rodolphus ever hear about this), they would not be able to hear her words, "you can't talk, what with your little affair with your brother."
"I didn't mean your sisters." He looked positively cruel now, and Narcissa found herself becoming more and more nervous. If he didn't mean her sisters – if he knew something even worse about her than that she had spent a few nights in Bellatrix's and Andromeda's arms…
He couldn't know. No one knew.
"Incest between siblings is one thing, you know…" Rabastan said slowly. "I've thought about it, and it's really just a natural outgrowth of closeness and affection… nothing much to be ashamed of. No more than sleeping with your best friend…"
The way he was talking… Narcissa's heart thumped nervously. He doesn't know, he doesn't know, he doesn't know…
"Incest between parents and children, on the other hand…" he breathed, and Narcissa was sure that she was going to faint, "that's a whole other matter. It's a power play. It doesn't come from closeness like a friend's or a sibling's. It's… well… it is something to be ashamed of."
"Parents are people who you're supposed to love but you're not ever, ever supposed to sleep with…"
"God, Rabastan, if you don't shut your mouth right this minute…" Narcissa said shakily, feeling her stomach knotting up and bile rise in her throat.
"And you, Narcissa," he said in a sweet, light little purr, "you seem to have a bit of trouble grasping that."
She swayed on her feet, clutching the edge of the table. "Rabastan Lestrange, if you mean–"
"Oh, you know exactly what I mean."
Narcissa had to gasp for air. Her heart felt like it was going to break her chest open. It took every ounce of strength she had to pull herself up and make her way towards the door.
God, he knows, he knows – what if he's told someone? God…
"Oh, and Narcissa?"
She turned back to him. He had an insufferably smug little smirk on his face, and he knew – and she knew that he knew – that he had won.
"What?" she asked. Now she was the hysterical one, and all that she wanted to do was get away and maybe steal a bottle of firewhiskey to calm her nerves.
"I presume that you won't be saying anything to anyone about my… preferences… I'm sure you understand that the matter of you and your father will get out if you do…"
"For what it's worth…" he said, sounding perfectly composed and calm, "I think that Rodolphus is much better than Lucius… since you asked."