Literatti: Fiction By Deslea
Deslea R. Judd
Fandom: Harry Potter
Characters/Keywords: Lucius Malfoy/Narcissa Malfoy
Spoilers/Timeframe: After Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.
Summary: Narcissa will make sure Lucius hangs on to his mind in Azkaban - whatever it takes.
Length: Approx 1100.
Disclaimer: Characters not mine. Interpretation mine.
More fic: http://fiction.deslea.com
Feedback: Please. deslea at deslea dot com.
Narcissa visits Azkaban every week.
It's an expensive business, visiting that often, even by Malfoy standards. It is a rare expense that makes a visible dent in their vault, but this weekly line item on the books exceeds all their other expenses combined.
Because it isn't just the bribes for the Warden. It's the Flookeeper at the Ministry - the only Floo with a connection to the jail - and the two closed departments she has to pass through to reach it. It's the steady supply of Felix Felicis. She has to take it before she goes, or else she could never withstand the Dementors and do what she has to do there. Then there are the antidotes and remedies for its after-effects. Felix is not meant to be taken with such frequency.
She tried to do it without the Felix at first, but it had been both fruitless and crushing. Devastating to look into Lucius' dead eyes and try to make him remember her. To try and fail to awaken his fading mind, the Dementors sinking their hooks into her soul almost as completely as his, misery immobilising her so that the jailer had to manhandle her into the Floo to leave.
He didn't think she'd come back after that, but she did. She isn't sure which of them was more surprised.
Getting Lucius to wake is a long, hard journey of desolation and exhaustion, trudging through a snowstorm in a wintery desert, fighting forces that want to drive her down and drive her back. It's salt in her throat and dry ice on her cheeks and screaming out into a wind that cannot hear.
And that's with the Felix.
It takes hours. Hours of coaxing, of talking, of touching, of stroking. They are very nearly thankless hours. He tolerates her attentions, but does not return them. Like a child starved of love from birth, fundamentally unable to respond in kind. He has retained his cognition, and understands that she is his wife, but he no longer knows why that matters.
It is usually somewhere around the fourth or fifth hour that he finally starts - starts - to re-learn how to love her. It seems to occur to him, with an air of vague curiosity, that he could squeeze her hand when she squeezes his. He tries it out, like a child, and she has to plaster a patiently approving smile on her face, when all she wants is to smother him with kisses and demands.
By the ninth hour, she has usually cajoled him into laying down with her on the floor. (And that's another bribe, for fresh straw). By now he has accepted her as a part of his environment, something with which to co-exist. She touches, he touches. She talks, he talks. She looks him in the eye, he does the same. He has learned the reflexes required to awaken.
It is another hour or more before the shift occurs. An hour of touching him, of stroking his face and having him touch hers, not because he desires it, but because it's been conditioned into him, gently yet relentlessly since the dawn. An hour that is tender and sweet and yet completely lacking in soul.
On the tenth or eleventh hour - usually as the moon begins to rise - there is a glimmer. Just a glimmer.
His hands seem to awaken first. They seem to become more curious, more restless. No longer drifting, but searching. She wears the most elaborate clothes she owns, because the search itself seems to bring him awake. He searches with interest. Remembering, perhaps, that beneath the clothes is his wife, and somehow, for some reason, his wife still matters. He strokes her skirt up her thigh and unlaces her bodice, and his hips start to roll into her, and that's when she risks dipping her head and touching her lips to his.
On bad days, he parts his lips for her, but recognition doesn't come until later. But today is a good day; her kiss draws him up and out.
Draws him awake.
"Narcissa," he gasps into her mouth, like he's emerged from underwater, and she falls into him, choking with agony and heady, swooning relief.
"Lucius," she whispers, over and over. Feeding on him desperately as he threads urgent, shaking hands through her hair.
Released from her patience and her restraint, she wants to straddle him and take him into herself, but she doesn't. She needs part of it, just one part, to be all his doing. So when he eases her onto her back, she collapses into the floor, all at once in perfect surrender. Gratefully, she gives herself up to be taken rather than take.
"Cissa," he says in wonder, "you're my Narcissa." As though seeing her for the very first time.
His wonder is what does it, brings the heat and salt rushing to her face, marking her war between joy and despair. Joy that he sees her. Despair that he forgets.
"Yes," she whispers, "I'm your Narcissa." She reaches up and cradles his face, moonlight falling on eyes that are awake and alive, and chokes out, "Please-"
His mouth descends on her, and his body a second after that, and she gives herself up to the crashing waters of agony and ecstasy and relief, and the deep undertow of terror that next time, next time he won't wake up at all.
Somehow the long days must impress themselves on him too, because he takes a long time, longer than at home, slowly yet relentlessly riding out her desperation and his own. At home, the long, slow repetition would annoy her. Here, it's what holds her together, taking her hurts and driving them off, shrouding her with an exhaustion for which she is grateful. They are not so much lovers here as a force of nature, a pair of waves that roll together, waxing and waning against each other. The rolling is monotonous and relentless and it keeps them alive.
Their climax is an act of defeat, finally giving way to a world that insists they should part.
She holds him then, exhausted, her beautiful clothes ruined, her heart asunder, her mind a bloody wreck. Holds him as he says her name, over and over, trying so hard not to forget.
They both know that he will.
"Don't let me go," he says as he begins to slide over the cusp between waking and sleep. "Don't let me lose you."
Tears sting her eyes, and she's too tired to blink them back. "I'll hold on. Whatever it takes."
When he finally slips away from her, down into sleep, she rises. Rights her clothes. Fights down the wracking sobs that threaten; those she will release when the Dementors are far away. She summons the jailer.
He casts an interested eye over her doubtless wretched appearance, and says curiously, "How is he this week, Madam Malfoy?"
She says only:
"He's still here."