Author's Notes: Written for Round One of Mrs Bella Riddle's Death Eater Multiple Round Competition with the character Lucius Malfoy and the prompt "Malfoys do not cry".

)O(

Lucius did not like to visit Alice in the hospital.

He was generally able to avoid it – he could come up with plenty of justifications as to why he couldn't go see her: it would attract attention, he was too busy keeping himself out of Azkaban, Narcissa would start to ask questions – but sometimes the knowledge that she was there, lying in bed, as unresponsive and mindless as a dead woman and yet not dead became too much for him.

"Lucius," Narcissa would whisper, so sweet and tender – she had been even sweeter and more tender than usual since the Dark Lord had fallen – when he found himself in a state of moral agony over what had happened to Alice, "you should be happy right now. Everything is all right now. The Dark Lord is fallen. Everything that happened in the war is behind us."

She did not know.

Lucius knew that his wife's heart had broken when Rodolphus Lestrange had been taken away to Azkaban, but Narcissa knew how to conceal a broken heart. She could pretend that she was not hurt, despite any circumstances. Lucius was not so skilled. He did not know how to hide his feelings under a veneer of carelessness, as Narcissa was so talented at doing.

So she knew that his heart was broken, and yet she did not, could not know why. She had been well aware that he and Alice Longbottom had had an affair, but she had never known how deeply he felt for her. Narcissa – bless her innocent little soul – seemed still to be convinced that Lucius had only gone to Alice in order to relieve his frustrations, in order to, perhaps, punish Narcissa for her own infidelity and for not being a good enough wife.

She did not and would not comprehend the idea that Lucius had loved Alice.

She did not and would not accept the thought that her husband could ever love anyone but her.

And so she did not and would not understand what was going through Lucius's mind when he brushed her off and told her to get away from him whenever she tried to extend her sympathies. Her eyes would fill with tears and she would whisper that she was only trying to help. And he regretted making her cry, but he felt nothing but irritation at her when she draped herself over him and whispered what she thought were sweet and comforting words in his ears. He wanted to slap her away when she did.

But he did not. He restrained himself and reminded himself that Alice had liked Narcissa – had respected her, at the very least – and that she would not want Lucius to slap her.

So Lucius pretended to enjoy his wife's comfort and sympathies until such time as he could convince her to let him be. And then, when she retired to the bedroom to sleep, he would steal out and go to St. Mungo's.

Go to Alice.

The nurses knew Lucius Malfoy, and they knew to keep their mouths shut about his regular – far more regular than he cared to admit, even to himself – trips to the long-term damage ward. They knew that it was best not to mention to his wife or to anyone at all that Lucius spent hours sitting at Alice Longbottom's bed and staring down on her, watching her still, empty face for any flicker of emotion.

Sometimes, Lucius thought that Alice could meet his eyes. Sometimes she did turn her head a little and sometimes he thought that he was able to see a little bit of the old Alice deep inside her, when he stared hard enough, but then she would turn her head again and it would be gone.

Lucius should have known better than to fall in love with Alice Longbottom in the first place. He should never have even talked to her. He should have left her alone and ignored her very existence – it would have been easier for everyone if he had.

If he had, maybe this wouldn't have happened.

Perhaps it was self-centred of him to believe that his affair with Alice had somehow led to the state that she was in now. Perhaps it was foolish to think that he had somehow set in motion a chain of events that could lead to such a horrifying outcome. But, if nothing else, Lucius knew that if he hadn't loved Alice, he wouldn't have cared that his own sister-in-law had tortured her into madness. If he hadn't loved Alice, it wouldn't matter to him in the slightest.

Morally reprehensible? Perhaps.

But he would not have cried for anyone except Alice.

Malfoys do not cry, after all.

Except for people who they have the misfortune to fall in love with.

)O(

Fin