Where? The Lestrange's dodgy flat, somewhere in Southwark
Rated? PG-13 to R, because it's not THAT squishy.
Rabastan unfolded the crumpled piece of parchment in his hands for the umpteenth time.
I'm coming - 11AM, it said; unsigned and hexed for his eyes only. He recognised the spidery writing as Narcissa's; far more elegant than his own scrawled reply he had sent off (I'll just have to wait). With slightly clammy hands, he massaged the bridge of his nose and swore under his breath. Part of him thought that this was a terribly good idea - and the other part – the logical one – screamed at him to pull out now. He'd already disregarded the sanctity of marriage.
Narcissa arrived quite punctually, which was not surprising for her, all told. She'd picked up a bit of a tan during her stay in the south of France, much to her dismay, and her nose was even slightly pink from the sun. She carried one suitcase which had seen better days (it was a relic from her childhood that she refused to give up); her hair had grown out a bit and was much messier than she normally tolerated it, but she didn't really care. She was on holiday, even if it was a rather strange one - as far as Mrs Avery knew, she'd gone off visiting another one of their school colleagues, her husband still apparently thought she was in the south of France, and in reality? Well, in reality she'd come back to London, to visit Rabastan, of course.
Rabastan heard Narcissa before he saw her. He had grown quite accustomed to solitary confinement and the noises he associated with it; the cooing of the pigeons, trucks and cars, the quiet chatter of his neighbours. This sound was something new - footsteps up the garden path punctuated by a muffled thud. He moved towards the front door and poked his head around the lace curtains. Sure enough, Narcissa was there, struggling with a suitcase. Rabastan's eye twitched. He swore again. The last thing he needed was another nervous tic.
She set her suitcase down and rang the doorbell, using one hand to fuss with her hair and make a token attempt at neatening it. She really should have taken more time to ready herself, she thought...a haircut would have been nice...but there wasn't time for that, not when you were busy being impatient and struggling to keep your alibis all in line.
He wrenched the door open with such urgency that he surprised even himself. Narcissa had been caught in the act of tousling her hair; Rabastan, the socially defective, let his lower lip go limp. The door banged against the wall and smacked him in the rear. His eye twitched again.
"Um. Hello," he offered.
"Rabastan!" Narcissa said, with a bright smile. "I...hello! I made it right on time and everything, although I was half-afraid I'd end up keeping you waiting. I had to invent a fictitious gala that Mrs Avery was unfortunately not invited to, which was a little tricky, but all in all it worked and I've made my great escape!" She stooped, picked up her suitcase, smiled at Rabastan again.
He smiled and took the suitcase from Narcissa and suddenly had the feeling of being very off-balance. Despite its size, the suitcase was really quite heavy.
"Merlin's beard - what have you got in here?" he asked, amazed.
"Honestly, Rabastan," Narcissa cooed at him, "Do you think I'd ever leave home for any long period of time without bringing any books?" She grinned, again. "It's mostly books and not nearly enough clothing, but hopefully you won't mind if I re-wear things? I left everything but the essentials chez Mme Avery."
"Books… right," he said, silently relieved that it wasn't shoes. "I'm afraid you might need them here. As you can see, it holds nothing to what was formerly known as Lestrange Manor. My dear brother bought this place for a song. Or rather, a couple of crates of my best liquor."
"Your liquor? That's so very like Rodolphus, isn't it?" She sighed. "I'm afraid he and my sister are far too suited for one-another, aren't they? If there's anything you'd like to borrow, you may for as long as you like -- of my books that is, not my clothes, not that you'd want to," and she actually giggled, because it was an amusing mental picture. "Oh, but it's lovely here, lovely company, anyway. It's so dull and lonely at home and even in the south of France."
"My God," exclaimed Rabastan, feigning shock. "Narcissa Black Malfoy, not enjoy the company of Wizarding society's most esteemed and prestiiiiiigious ladies? And in France, her spiritual home, no less!" He shook his head and clucked his tongue, shooting her a mischievous glance.
"And who's to say I wouldn't enjoy a stint in your clothes?"
Narcissa giggled again. "Oh, honestly, Rabastan, it was dull as anything. And I tanned, although I was trying not to...apparently my sunblock charm was off and out of practise. And look at my nose, would you? I'll have to put aloe on it or something." She paused, and then she giggled. "Most of it's too small for you, you goose, although if you wanted my nightgown, I suppose you'd be more than welcome to it."
"Ha," he laughed, "I thought I might look simply divine in your delicates, my dear. And there's nothing wrong with a bit of colour in your cheeks. It happens to most of us commoners as we toil away in the sun."
She wrinkled her sunburnt nose. "Oh, dear, you've hit it right on, commoners. It's dreadful. As is my hair, and I would have fixed that before I'd come, only there wasn't time and I thought - egoistically! - that you'd end up just happy to have me here, mess or no."
"Hardly a mess, Narcissa. Perhaps it's the lack of oestrogen in me, but I like your hair."
She smiled, reaching up to touch her hair with one hand. "You always did prefer it long, didn't you? Maybe I'll give up and grow it out, once and for all."
"That's the stuff," he replied, "surrender to your inhibitions."
Narcissa laughed at that. "Oh, dear, that's so easy with you, isn't it? It always has been, anyway."
"No. That would be surrendering to inebriation, for me."
"Hmm." Narcissa frowned, for a moment, pondering this - one hand still occupied in fussing with her hair. "Surrendering to inebriation versus surrendering your inhibitions. It all has the same end result, doesn't it? And - as I recall - surrendering your inhibitions had to happen before the drinking could occur. I think." She'd assumed an expression of concentration, as she puzzled over this.
"You think too much," laughed Rabastan. "Well. I suppose that's easy for me to say. I think too little."
Narcissa smiled at that. "So together, it evens out? Or something." She nodded, and then wondered "Might we sit down? It's just...been a long past few days."
"Of course. You have your wide choice of several moth-eaten sofas."
"Oooh, that's...well, even that sounds nice right now. And honestly, Rabastan," she reassured him, softly, "I'd rather have your moth-eaten sofas than any velvet chaises at Mrs Avery's."
Rabastan smiled at her and collapsed onto a dusty lounge with a sigh. He rubbed his nose; he could feel the beginning of a headache coming on. He hadn't slept for days.
"So tell me. What kind of interesting gossip did you glean from the Death Eaters' Wives Club?"
Narcissa sat down next to him, crossed her legs neatly. "Oh, honestly darling, it was just all so dull. Half of their husbands are either in Azkaban or on the run and it was all one big giant soap-opera gossip-fest. ...but it did provide the necessary excuse to get me out of my house, and for that I'm grateful," she added.
He laughed harshly. "Wives of fugitives and jailbirds. Sounds like a WWN radio drama to me."
"That's it, exactly! ...it is, I suppose, fitting company for me, these days, but...oh, it's just...they were so dull. And I was dying to run off to you the whole time -- I'd have liked to have done that originally, and then Mrs. Avery mentioned something about talking to Lucius and so I couldn't."
"Mrs Avery… if she's not a gossipy bat, I don't know who is." A look of concern passed his face. "And Lucius?"
She shrugged, neatly. "Is busy, as always. I think he was glad to get me out of the house, you know?"
Rabastan frowned. "I see. He's probably off with my brother and your sister, no doubt." He hesitated. "I got an Owl from my brother. Next week, I'm supposedly meant to go - well. I'm meant to go and help them."
Narcissa actually flinched. "Oh. Oh, of course. It'll...give you something to do, at least, so that'll be good. Dear, I should have come to visit you sooner."
"I'm sorry. Really, I am. I mean," He looked over his shoulder, something very much like sadness flickering across his drawn face, "sometimes - often - I regret ever getting into this whole thing. But there was Rodolphus and mum and dad… and I guess I was still reeling from Paris." He shrugged.
"Carpe diem, though, I suppose. Best make the best of a bad situation."
Narcissa flinched again, and then reached out and took Rabastan's hand. "I...I'm so sorry for that, you know? I was just...I was young and I was stupid and I thought you fancied Bella, and I was angry with you, furious and Lucius was so dashing and I was pregnant and..." Well, that part she hadn't meant to say, but too late now. "Anyway, marrying someone because you're upset with someone else is foolish, so we both do stupid, stupid things we're not proud of, don't we?"
"Pregnant?" he asked before he could stop himself. He quickly waved his hand dismissively. "I'm sorry, prying. And yes. I suppose we do."
"Yes," and she smiled, a bit sheepishly. "Premature baby, oldest story ever told, isn't it? But...that's all in the past and...I'm still sorry. For everything."
He laughed and waved his hand. "Me too. Care to forgive me?"
"Of course I will," she said, with another brilliant smile.
"Well that's a relief. My conscience feels lighter already. Maybe I should apologise more," he smiled.
"Oh, but don't waste your apologies on the undeserving," she chided him, and then winked. "Feel free to apologise to me any time you like, however! And fussing and complimenting is very nice too."
"But that comes naturally, my dear! I needn't try to do all that for you."
"Ha! I like to hear it anyway," she confessed, with another smile.
"Isn't that the case with most of you women?"
Surprised by this analysis, Narcissa laughed. "Oh, that's too true...probably why I hate most other women...!"
Rabastan chuckled. "I'm just a mere male. Compliments get me everywhere."
"Is that why I'm so fond of you, then?" Narcissa wondered.
"Because I'm a mere male? Or because I compliment you a lot, you beautiful thing?" He stuck his tongue out at her.
"Oh, both, of course," she replied, attempting -- and failing! -- to look supremely innocent.
"Well then, aren't I lucky?" he asked, also trying on the innocent look for size.
She tried to take him seriously -- for about thirty seconds, and then she burst out laughing, almost hysterically. "Oh.....dear..." she said, gasping for breath around her hysterics.”Just listen to us!"
He joined in on the laughter. "My dear, I think this is youth trying to get past middle age."
"We do it well, though, don't we?" Narcissa wondered, grinning at him and scootching closer on the sofa.
Rabastan's face suddenly became very hot. "I'll have you know it's taking all of my decent British reserve to maintain decorum, Miss Black."
"Decent British reserve, hmmm?" she wondered, with a grin, and then started humming 'God Save the Queen' under her breath.
He became very aware of the tapered finger stroking his wrist in time to the national anthem. "I'll have you know I'm a proper and upstanding English gentleman, thank you very much," he said, trying very hard to be serious. His voice cracked.
Narcissa smirked. "Oh, of course you are. There's nothing of the bohemian Frenchman about you anymore, is there?"
"Course there is," he pouted a little, "I still speak French, too. See? Je ne veux pas cousher avec toi ce soir." He paused. "Oh, wait. I mucked that one up. I meant the opposite. And I bet my accent's horrible, too."
"Ce n'est pas si horrible," she murmured. "Especially if you meant the reverse of what you said."
"To tell you the truth, I'm not entirely sure what I said."
Narcissa grinned, rather evilly. "Should I tell you what you said, then, mm? Or just let you wonder?"
"Don't keep me in the dark!" Rabastan exclaimed. "Did I make a fool of myself?"
She raised one eyebrow. "Depends on where you want to be sleeping, rather."
His face fell a little. "I mucked it up, didn't I?"
"Depends on what you meant, doesn't it?"
It slowly dawned on Rabastan. "You just backed me into a corner! That's not fair!"
"Oh, am I supposed to play fair?" She winked.
He pouted. "I thought it was 'all's fair in love and war'?"
"Or is that nothing's fair in love and war? And oh, don't pout like that, that's very unfair!" Narcissa exclaimed.
Rabastan continued making a puppy dog face at her. "Two can play dirty, thank you."
"You're horrible," she informed him. "Oh, and what do I have to do to make you stop pouting, then?"
"Oh, I don't know. I rather like this expression."
"Well...I don't! Would you like it if the shoe were on the other foot?" she wondered, and then blinked at him, rather pathetically.
"Hmm," he thought about it for a second. An evil little smile crossed his face. "I don't know. Maybe I like it when you make this face."
"Aha! You stopped pouting!" She said, and clapped her hands and grinned. "I win!"
"Or do you?" he asked, and tickled her mercilessly.
This resulted in rather a lot of Narcissa shrieking, giggling, and very ineffectual attempts to slap him away.
"Still ticklish. Now there's something that hasn't changed," Rabastan laughed, pinning her to the couch and jabbing her ribs.
"Vicious, vicious, vicious man!" Narcissa exclaimed, laughing - again, hysterically - and seeming rather helpless.
He took her moment of stillness as an opportunity to - sit still and open and shut his mouth, rather like a perplexed moray eel. He really hadn't put much thought into this bit.
"Ha!" she said, reaching out in an attempt to capture his hands in hers, which was a rather difficult matter, as her hands were much smaller. "I win. Again."
"Blasted woman." He threw his head back in a moment of melodramatics. "Can you never lose?"
She smiled up at him. "I suppose I must be able to lose somehow."
"How?" he asked, still very much engrossed in his drama, "Thou hast no Achilles' Heel!"
"Oh...I might have one somewhere," she informed him.
"There you go, hiding things from me again," he sighed. "For God's sakes, do something to make me shut up before I shoot my mouth off again."
She blinked for a moment, and then leaned up and kissed him quickly. "Like that?" she wondered, innocently.
"Maybe," he shrugged in his best imitation of nonchalance. "But I was thinking of something more like this." He returned the kiss, harder and deeper - and almost forgot to breathe.
It... had been far too long since she'd done anything like this, and certainly anything like this with Rabastan (their exploits involving the fountain were almost entirely forgotten, of course) and that was a shame, Narcissa decided, because as it turned out, she really, really liked kissing Rabastan.
Paris in the springtime, Rabastan recalled. His days as a callow youth. He really had missed this; feelings he wasn't quite aware existed since his days in Azkaban bubbled to the very top and he was rather overcome. So he did the only thing he could - kiss her some more.
She'd really missed him, really quite a bit, and she informed him of this, between kisses...and she was half-tempted to apologise for all of it again - getting jealous of her older sister, upset with Rabastan, having her head turned by Lucius, getting married, Draco even (and she was oh-so-glad that he took after Lucius, be it on account of nature or nurture). But she'd already said all that, of course.
Not deterred in the slightest that he might actually be about to have sex with his sister-in-law's (married) sister on his brother's fold out couch for the first time in over a decade, Rabastan pressed a little more, chiding himself for not doing this sooner or more often. He missed living out his youth almost as much as he had missed Narcissa.
Yes...nostalgia was a great part of it on Narcissa's side too, at least to begin with. But she really had missed Rabastan - it had been foolish to have let him go out of her life so easily when she was younger and sillier, and she'd fretted over him the whole time he was in Azkaban - oh; she'd been so relieved when she'd heard he'd escaped. She loved Rabastan, she'd missed him, she'd been rather lonely and neglected by her husband as of late - and there were obviously several vestiges of the old bohemian spirit remaining, as it didn't seem to matter much at all that she was a married woman. No, she was not troubled by it in the least, come to think of it.
Lucky for Rabastan. For them both.
Rabastan had never noticed that there were cracks in the ceiling before. This was probably because he had never made it a point to lie on his back on the floor (which was inevitably where he ended up, on some kind of sharp implement, no less).
It was...just like old times, either that or completely nothing like old times, although Narcissa wasn't quite sure which. It didn't seem to matter. "I really did miss you, you know," Narcissa informed him, propped up on one elbow and blinking down at him.
"I don't doubt that for a moment," he replied, feeling a little self-conscious, "I missed you, too."
"It's been so lonely, especially lately," she continued, softly. "I mean, since...that night in London, months ago, I mean..." and she realised she was babbling, and sighed, softly.”I'm just glad...I came to visit, is all."
"I'm glad you came, too. I mean, really. I thought I was going bonkers. And London - I couldn't get you off my mind."
"Oh, I know," Narcissa informed him, meeting his eyes and smiling. "And I was afraid...everyone knew and was going to find out and... and then I didn't care, because I don't and Lucius wouldn't dare divorce me or anything and if he did? That would be all right." She nodded there, and then settled against him, comfortably.
"Well, I suppose someone knew," Rabastan shrugged. "Not that it's important. I made a promise and I broke it and was a little worse for wear -," he paused as Narcissa's cool hands traced the path of several new scars,"- and I see now I don't really care. How's that for bravado, hmm?"
"You've always been brave," she told him, softly. "I always fancied myself brave, but not nearly like you are. One of the loveliest things about you, you know? Yes." It was strange, feeling calm and peaceful and happy. Not like normal at all, but that was all-right.
"Brave?" he couldn't help but scoff a little. "I'm hardly brave. Maybe a little mad, but hardly brave."
"Mad, brave...it's all the same thing," she asserted, and then she smiled and kissed him again, just because. It was nice to be allowed to, after all...well, sort-of allowed, anyway.