.. back for more stories ..
Title: An Elegant Man
Author name: Icarus
Author email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Sub Category: Romance
Keywords: Percy Lucius Romance Slow
Summary: An unlikely friendship built on politics, gossip, and long evenings by the fire takes a turn that anyone but Percy Weasley could have seen coming. Lucius Malfoy, Slytherin Sex God? Well. Lucius thinks so. But Percy learns he's all too human.
DISCLAIMER: This story is based on characters and situations created and owned by JK Rowling, various publishers etc. No money is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended. (c) 2004 Icarus Ancalion.
Author notes: Written for Dana Phearson. Thank you to Cyanei for the quick beta review, and to Isolde, Electric Android, and Velveteen Thestral who mobbed me with bunnies.
An Elegant Man
The Ministry was nearly empty at this hour. Arched windows showed a cool twilight sky, dark blue shading to the last sunset glow. Here and there the golden globe of a lamp still glowed in open offices where someone was bent over a desk, working late.
A slow tap of footsteps echoed down the marble hall, then stopped, outside a particular door.
As usual, Percy Weasley was still there, his paneled office as neat as a pin save for a scattering of scrolls, parchments and unfolded memos on his desk. He talked loudly to the fireplace across the room, glancing up from an unscrolling roll of meeting notes. His waste bin scampered off on schedule, seven o'clock, and his last shot at it missed as it bounced across the floor.
He continued his conversation in an exasperated tone.
"Yes, yes, darling, I'm going to be late again tonight, but I really don't understand this. You know my career is demanding."
The oak door opened wider with a slight whine as his visitor stepped in and waited calmly for the end of the argument. He tapped a pair of elegant riding gloves in his smooth, white palm.
A sharp, feminine voice came from the fireplace. "Percy. I've been patient --"
"Aurora, this is ridiculous! Anyway, he's here now. We'll talk later, I promise."
The floating head in the fireplace turned towards the visitor. Aurora's hair was blonde but her eyes brown with dark brows -- a sure sign the colour was Maribella's Hair Glow. She turned and eyed Lucius Malfoy up and down coldly. "Yes, Percy. We will." Her chin tipped haughtily as the head winked out in a puff of green smoke.
Percy chuckled and smiled at Lucius, shaking his head. "Women. They want to be with a man who's successful, but then can't stand the sacrifices you have to make, the time investment." Lucius plucked Percy's cloak from the hat-rack and tossed it to him. Percy caught it deftly, and pulled it on. "You won't believe the latest she's imagined." He straightened his collar under the cloak as he crossed the room, where he held the door for Lucius politely. "Would you believe," he laughed, "that she thinks I'm having an affair with you?"
"Does she now?" Lucius cast him a toothy smile as they stepped into the long hall.
"Absolutely absurd." Percy rolled his eyes as he fell into step beside Lucius. Those few employees they passed were incurious. It was normal to see the two together. "Anyhow, where are we going tonight?"
"I was considering the Mansfield Inn," Lucius said. His elegant cloak swept the polished marble floor as he walked slightly ahead of Percy. "It is self-consciously 'rustic' which tends to ruin the entire effect, but it does have a very good wine list, and is comfortably private. They have a new chef I think we should try."
"Mansfield? Oh dear," Percy fussed with his robes as they stopped to wait for the lift. He peered in the mirrored doors of this level, but his reflection was little too jagged and small for a good look. "Am I quite presentable do you think? I didn't know until this afternoon we were going out again, else I would have brought a fresh change of clothes."
Lucius' eyes were hooded and smug. "You look fine, Percy."
"Do you think so?" Percy gratefully met his eyes.
"Yes." His voice was tinged with amusement.
"That means a lot coming from you, you know."
A slight smile touched the corners of Lucius' mouth, and he gazed up at the numbers above the lift. "Of course it does."
Fire flickered on the wineglasses, gilding them with dancing flecks of gold. The curtains on the high leaded glass panes swept to the floor in rich burgundy, while soft laughter and the distant clink of expensive china mixed with the snap of young wood. Lucius had selected a table near the hearth, and, his meal done, he slumped back in his chair, eyes hooded and relaxed. He toyed with a glass in his hand, warming the alcohol as Percy chattered about the Ministry and his day.
"You are the most appalling gossip, Percy," Lucius finally observed without malice. He took a careful sip, savouring it a moment before he nodded in approval.
Percy snickered. He was a slow eater and was only now finishing his steak. He wiped his mouth on the heavy cloth napkin and dropped it to the table. "Yes, well, gossip is the chief source of entertainment at the Ministry of Magic."
Lucius tipped his head doubtfully at him. "I would want to see more discretion."
"Oh, I'm discreet." Percy picked up his glass, sloshing the contents in a careless wash of red. It was only his second, but it took very little to bring that flush to his cheeks. His eyes were already rather glassy. "It's just a matter of knowing what you can and can't talk about," he continued in a bright voice. "Most relevant subjects you can't, so it's refreshing when young Mister Thudwattle has an outrageous affair with the undersecretary's daughter." He waggled his eyebrows suggestively.
"I see." Lucius edged his shoulders into the rich upholstery and lowered his eyes at Percy. "Am I 'relevant,' then, do you think?"
"You are more than relevant," Percy said earnestly. "You're the centre of everything."
A house-elf appeared and hovered to take away their dishes, but Lucius waved it away. He took the opportunity to pluck a bit of garnish off Percy's plate, the fresh berry staining his lips. Percy only smiled, his eyes warm and bright.
Their conversation returned to matters of State, over which they had vastly different opinions. They argued comfortably as the candles that hovered over their table burned low and the voices of the other diners gradually dispersed. The Mansfield Inn would stay open for as long Mr Malfoy wished, regardless of its usual closing time.
The logs on the fire shifted, scattering sparks and embers, and the world had reduced to its encircling glow and Lucius' rich, laconic voice, and his elegant fingers that traced the rim of his glass. Percy blinked at him, as if trying to clear his eyes.
"So," said Lucius, refilling Percy's glass again. Percy glanced up at him helplessly, too polite to say no. "What do you think of your… girlfriend's… accusations?"
Percy snorted, shaking his head a bit too broadly. "I do apologize on her behalf. I've no idea why she would think such a thing."
Lucius smiled. The firelight played over his face. "You don't believe that it's true?"
"No! I've never had any interest in men," Percy reassured him.
Lucius' eyes were mere slits as he said over a glass, raised as if in a toast. "Would it surprise you if I have?"
He took a long sip and watched Percy's consternation, glowing with amusement.
Percy spluttered, though he valiantly attempted to recover. "Um, ah, no, no, not at all… not that I really, ah, thought much about it….."
Lucius leaned forward, the table was quite small between them, his wine-soaked breath hot on Percy's cheek. "One should savour life, Percy, and taste all of its pleasures." He settled back in his seat. "To do anything less would be a travesty. Not to mention a sad waste."
Percy nervously steered the conversation to the safer harbors of the historical feud between the Weasleys and the Malfoys.
Over dessert they dissected their various ancestors' failings at length. They concluded that the original dispute was over the boundary between two properties -- ones that neither family even owned any longer. But deaths at the hands of both sides had vastly complicated what Percy felt should have been a simple legal matter.
"You forget," Lucius said in a smug voice. "They did not have a Ministry at the time, nor solicitors to resolve it."
"I have not forgotten, but the families ought to have chosen arbiters rather than choosing seconds for a duel!" Percy said. "And the Malfoys cheated."
"They had an advantage. They made use of it. If that were cheating, the duel would have been rendered invalid. As it was not."
"The judgment on that was made by friends of the Malfoys." Percy paused as he grew aware of the weight of Lucius's gaze, smirking at him. "What are you smiling at?"
"You are so passionate about an event that occurred hundreds of years ago."
"You were, too! You were thinking of hexing me, I could tell." And Lucius laughed outright.
"The thought had occurred to me."
He uncrossed his arms and leaned his elbows on the table. "Those judges were friends of our family a hundred years later. Not at the time. The Weasleys have typically mixed up their family history." Lucius set down his glass. "Besides, the Malfoy twins were no match for old Benazir Weasley and everyone knew it. The 'unfair' advantage was the fact of that old wizard challenging mere boys to a duel that they couldn't win, yet couldn't refuse either."
Percy blinked. "None of the Malfoys have ever said the twins were outmatched."
Lucius gave a slight disinterested shrug. "Who would? They won. That was all that mattered."
Percy was thoughtful. "I'm going to check your facts. Just so you know."
"I would expect nothing less of you. Look closely at the ancient dueling records. The old grouch probably had heads dangling in that mud hut."
Percy shook his head with a soft laugh. "If you didn't call him an old grouch, I probably wouldn't believe you. But I know my family all too well." He laced his hands across the back of his neck, stretching. Percy's eyes took on a faraway look and he let his hands drop.
"I just can't imagine myself doing any such thing."
Lucius gave him a curious glance. "Dueling -?"
"No, no, no. Sleeping with, you know -- men." Percy swallowed. Lucius started to chuckle and Percy blushed, hands gripping the edge of the table. "People would be appalled."
"Not that I've noticed."
Percy leaned heavily on his elbow, chin on his fist. "That's you. People adore you no matter what you do."
"Do they now," Lucius purred at him.
"Of course they do… you're perfect. If anyone says otherwise, it's just jealousy; because you have everything: looks, taste, style, class." Percy gazed at him with clear, innocent eyes, taking another sip of wine. "I can't imagine why the likes of you would ever want to spend time with me."
"I have designs on your virtue."
Percy spluttered out his sip of wine.
"Now. You see, you are only supposed to spit it out if you are at a wine-tasting," Lucius said calmly, his eyes glittering. "Over dinner you're meant to drink it."
Percy blushed, snickering. "Can I add funny to that list?"
They chuckled and sighed, enjoying the crackle of the fire and the silence of the restaurant. All the other patrons had long gone. The fire settled to mere embers and a soft glow and the candles overhead were out. In the distance there was a clatter of dropped spoons and the yelp of a house-elf punishing itself.
Lucius finally stirred. "Well, Mr Weasley, I believe it's time for me to take you home."
"Yes," said Percy, pushing away from the table reluctantly.
He glanced down at his watch and then peered at it again in disbelief.
"Good gracious heavens! It's three o'clock in the morning! Where did the time go?"
Lucius' hand fell on his shoulder as the house-elves brought them their cloaks. Percy fretted, running his hands through his hair. "Aurora's going to be an absolute harpy about this. We're always out later than I plan."
The restaurant house-elves scattered as Lucius swung his heavy cloak over his shoulders. "The price of good company…."
"Indeed." Percy buttoned his collar in the half-light and adjusted his cuffs. He tested his breath and knew there was nothing for it: she would know he'd been out drinking.
"I wouldn't worry about the fate of your relationship with this 'Aurora,'" Lucius was saying. "You ought to abandon that ambitious gold-digger based on her hair colour alone."
"Her hair colour?" Percy laughed as he held the door for Lucius. Outside the fog swirled as white as smoke. With the echo of hooves, the Malfoy carriage pulled up to the front door. A frog-like footman hopped out and bobbed its head as it arranged the steps up into the carriage.
"No one below the age of a hundred ought to colour their hair," Lucius explained as he stepped up into the carriage and eased into the seats. Percy followed. "When one is a hundred years old at least you've the excuse of aging gracelessly."
The carriage rattled to halt outside the tiny flat Percy shared with his girlfriend. Lucius walked him to his door, and steadied Percy as he nearly tripped on the doorstep.
"Sorry," Percy breathed in the dark as he sagged against Lucius. "I don't hold my wine very well."
"I've not failed to notice, I assure you." Lucius' smile was predatory. "I win more of our discussions that way."
"I haven't embarrassed myself, have I?"
"Not at all."
There was a long silence that Percy was reluctant to break as they stood outside the door. Lucius' shoulder was warm against his. Inside, all the lights were off, he noted absently.
"Well," Percy said at last, with a cool misty breath. "Off to face the ravening beast." He glanced up at Lucius, stepping away. "If you were a true knight you would not abandon me in my hour of need, you know that?"
"A knight." Lucius smirked. "With the clashing of their sword-blades make, a rapturous music, till the morning break." He reached out and gently stroked Percy's cheek.
"Oh." Percy stared, dazed. "That's a poem, isn't it?"
"Good night, Percy." He raised his hand in farewell.
Percy turned to watch his steady, confident stride as he left, steps loud on the wet sandy pavement. He didn't move until the carriage door clicked shut, and Lucius rolled away, the strong outline of his profile still visible through the window.
The day had been chaotic. Their former department assistant had neglected to file any of their fiscal year reports before she quit (neglected on purpose, Percy suspected). Then her replacement turned up in ultra-short robes, chewing Weasley Wizard Wheezes Whistling Gum at top volume in a variety of annoying songs. She was a complete disaster by all accounts -- except according the man who'd hired her, who called her "charming." Percy also suspected he knew where she slept. Left to his own devices, he attempted to close a drawer of Ornithology reports. It spat feathers at him irritably.
"What the devil is that horrid sound?" The low voice behind him could not have been more welcome. Percy glanced up with relief and gave the drawer a final kick shut.
"Pop Goes The Weasel, I think. But she has many other tunes with which to delight us."
Lucius winced. "I wouldn't dignify that noise with the term 'tune.'" He leaned an arm against the doorjamb. "Can you escape this afternoon for a few hours?"
"No," Percy said, but a bright smile spread across his face. "I haven't a choice though, have I?"
"No, naturally, you do not." Lucius cast his eyes around Percy's office, restless. "There's an exhibition of wizard fire sculptures by Antonio Rozzini that no self-respecting wizard ought to miss." He ran his hand across the spines of the Encyclopedia of Ancient Spells. "I've already informed your supervisor you have a important meeting to attend."
"What are fire sculptures?" Percy asked, setting down his quill and stuffing paperwork in a drawer. Yellow feathers escaped and fluttered to the floor, which made him nervous as to just what those Ornithology reports were doing. With any luck they were merely misfiling themselves.
Lucius paused in his pacing, and was staring at him, horrified. "You have never even heard of fire sculpture?" He shook his head with a sigh of disappointment. "The depth of your cultural ignorance never ceases to amaze me. If this is the result of a modern Hogwarts education, I'll pull my son out tomorrow and send him to Durmstrang."
Percy swallowed, uncomfortably reminded that Lucius had a son who was only four years younger than himself. But as Lucius waited impatiently by the door, he gathered the little brown package out of his top drawer anyway, and quietly slipped it into his pocket of his cloak. He had hoped Lucius would visit soon.
Behind them, a whistling chorus of Camptown Races had just begun. Lucius quickened his step. Percy, as he skipped behind him, didn't blame him one bit.
The soft slap of water and a sea-tang filled the air. Gulls whirled lazily about Lucius and Percy on the docks, their soft gull-cries sad, yet full of yearning. The rumple of canvas of a ship rattled as it caught the wind, and snapped, as the white sails filled and billowed. As they leaned on the briny guardrail, another wizard ship set out to sea.
The fire sculptures had been interesting, and afterward Lucius had taken Percy for a late lunch and a tour of the docks, which he appeared to know quite well. The wizarding world had never needed to abandon the tall sailing ships for Muggle machines, since a breeze could easily be conjured. The weather witch from a high tower above the port directed Wind Control, and she could be seen swooping in and out of ship's cabins, scolding captains and barking orders in foul language.
Unpredictable wizard-winds made the docks where Lucius and Percy leaned a rather risky place to be, as the winds could suddenly shift and buffet them into the ocean. But Lucius simply braced his feet for balance as if from long practice, and Percy followed suit.
"I always wanted to sail the world," Lucius said. His voice was low and wistful as he leaned his chin on his folded arms. He peered out to sea, following the puffy white dots of distant ships. "When I was a boy I used to stand here for hours and watch them come and go. My family had interests in India."
Percy hummed assent and nodded.
"My father never approved of the 'seedy, underworld' characters I used to meet here." Lucius smirked at the ocean, a tad victoriously Percy thought. Lately he had made the study of Lucius Malfoy a past-time of his.
The wind brushed a strand of hair from Lucius' face. He wore it down today, which was rare for him. But it was how Percy preferred it. It seemed more like him; less the imperious power-broker, and more the headstrong man who wanted more than he could ever name.
"So." Lucius interrupted his thoughts. He didn't look over at Percy. "How did your… girlfriend… react to your late arrival last week?"
Percy made a sound of disgust. "You have no idea. She's not even speaking to me right now! Except when she shouts. Which, frankly, I don't understand why that doesn't count as speaking." He made a helpless gesture. "If one is going to give me the silent treatment, then fine: Be silent."
Lucius shook his head with a subtle smile. A breeze swept his hair off his shoulder, then shifted and whipped around, making a mess of it.
Percy had the inexplicable desire to run his hands through to untangle it. His natural neatness, he supposed. He bit his lip as he cast his eyes back out to sea. "I've no idea why she's so upset. It's not as though I would ever cheat on her."
Lucius snorted. "Surely there are worse things in the world than infidelity."
"Yes. Like being a Death Eater."
Lucius froze, and his face went utterly still. Then he said in his smooth voice, "Best not to joke about such matters."
"Yes, yes, I'm sorry." Percy made an absent-minded gesture. "I'm just very angry with her at the moment, that's all."
He continued in a deliberately casual voice. There would be no better time for this. "By the way, I - ah - have something for you." There was a crinkling sound as Percy dug around in his pockets until he found the little brown-wrapped package. It was tied only in a bit of red ribbon, but it had just arrived.
"For me." Lucius gazed down at it.
"I didn't have time to wrap it properly, but. Go on." Percy leaned against a piling, and tried to hide his pleased expression, tipping his chin up to watch Lucius.
Lucius turned the brown package over his hands. "It's a book."
"Tsk. Unwrap it before you start making guesses." Percy made a fussy gesture. "You must be horrible at Christmas, casting charms to figure out what's inside."
"My father always told us that there was hex which would reduce the gifts to ash if we tried." With a bemused expression, Lucius picked at the red ribbon, and peeled away the brown wrapping. It was indeed a book. The binding was of supple wine red leather, and the pages edged in gilt. On the cover was stamped: W. B. Yeats.
"It's Muggle," Lucius said, turning it over. "And quite illegal for its religious themes." He looked up sharply at Percy with a surprised expression.
"Yes, well, that's ridiculous. We haven't had any trouble with the church in over a century."
"How did you get this?"
"Connections, connections. Yours go up, mine go down," Percy snickered, blushing and well-pleased with himself. "So you like it then?"
Lucius licked his lips and nodded. Once.
"I had a devil of a time finding it. I did a little research on your quote from the other night you see. It sounded Muggle, and it turned out my hunch was correct."
Lucius gazed at Percy, lost in thought. Finally he said, "You're a quick study indeed, my young friend. I will have to keep this out of sight."
"Well, according to my father you shouldn't have any trouble with that."
Lucius started, but Percy winked sheepishly at him. Or tried to. Percy wasn't very good at winking, and could never just wink one eye. Lucius shook his head in a gesture of amazement and gingerly tucked the book into his robes.
The wind blew Lucius' hair again, this time in the opposite direction. Percy raised his hand as if to brush it out of his face, then let his hand fall.
"You look so strange with your hair out of order."
Lucius was staring out once again at the ocean, a knuckle tracing his lips. "I am not always perfect, Percy," he said softly. "Not in the way you see me." He was slightly taller than Percy, and his voice was serious.
"Oh yes you are. And I see you perfectly." Percy's eyes were steady, warm and sincere.
For a long moment there was nothing but the slap of water underneath them. In the distance, a buoy clanged.
Percy smiled slightly, his face turning towards the wind. "You know what is strange? This is the first time I've not wanted to return to the office. I find I don't even care."
"What about when you're with this… what is the name again? Aurora."
Percy frowned as if offended. "Aurora? Don't bring her into this."
Lucius' eyes lit with fire as he turned towards Percy.
"Would this 'Aurora' be too offended if we went to Madame Dominique's party this evening?"
"Oh, I don't care -- sure. I wasn't invited however."
"I'm certain Dominique will make an exception on my behalf." Lucius' lips curled in a half-smile as they exchanged glances. "She's an --" Percy was already nodding and they said it at the same time: "--an old friend."
Percy chuckled, admiring him. "Yes. You know everybody, don't you?"
The soft gray of early evening was interrupted here and there with the starlit sparkle of street lamps. Lights were already on in various windows in Percy's old brick building, displaying silent voyeuristic images. Women washed dishes before dinner, and small children clung to apron-strings or, in a different window, levitated the cookie jar. It dropped with a silent spray of cookies and broken crockery. Another window showed a girl racing past, sleek and wet, clad in only a towel. It was Friday night.
The door to Percy's flat opened, with a bright rectangle of light, and a well-dressed Percy appeared, shouting over his shoulder, "Well I said I was going, and I am!"
He swept his cloak onto his shoulders and slammed the door. A neighbor's dog started barking.
Lucius waited calmly in his carriage, his eyes sweeping the spectacle in amusement. Percy struggled for a moment with the armholes of his cloak, then pattered up to the carriage. Several Muggle automobiles drove by them, seeing only a black limousine parked in front of an ordinary brownstone. Lucius used Muggle-repelling charms, but refused to disguise his property as trash.
"A little trouble in paradise?" Lucius asked as Percy clambered through the door. It was crowded inside, and he nearly bumped his head on the ceiling. Lucius reached up and stilled the small crystal chandelier, which had begun rocking with Percy's entrance.
"Paradise isn't exactly the word I'd use to describe it. I swear she thinks I'm going to my doom rather than to a simple party." He slumped petulantly into the rich fabric of the carriage.
Lucius hands were folded elegantly, and he ran his thumb along the head of his cane. He replied in a smooth voice, "Some women are clearly not meant for the demands of politics."
"You can say that again." He had his hand to his forehead, dispirited, as he leaned against the windowsill.
At the moment, Percy looked every bit his nineteen years. Lucius' eyelashes swept up and down as he took in the berry-red mouth that was slightly too full, too soft, the gestures that were a bit too pretty, and the jut of his slim hips. There were a million little signs that made Lucius smile to himself at such willful blindness, at a worldview so narrow that Percy hadn't considered the obvious.
The carriage jerked forward, and there was a long silence, broken only by the clip-clop of hooves, an affectation for those wizards who were only comfortable flying on brooms. Bits of cloud whisked by the window, orange and yellow from the last of the autumn sunset.
Lucius said at length, "Why can't you simply not tell her?"
Percy adjusted his glasses; his eyes were suspiciously red-rimmed. "You mean just disappear nights? I don't think that would go over very well."
"Hmm." Lucius gave him a fond smile. "But how much does she truly need to know? For example, Narcissa knows that I am attending Dominque's party this evening, but she has not asked with whom, and I have not told her. It is simpler that way, don't you think?"
"I don't know… I've always been honest with Aurora, as communication is so essential to a good relationship."
"Surely this Aurora doesn't know every detail of your life, day in and day out. I've no doubt there are certain matters of your work, for example, about which she need not be informed."
"True enough," Percy said, sitting up a little straighter. "But you're more than just a detail."
Lucius smiled at him. The carriage rocked on an updraft. "You are quite an appealing young man. I can see why she wants to keep you for herself." He turned to face forward. "Even if it does hold you back."
The sparkling Manor echoed with elegant laughter and the distant strains of chamber music. Glass in hand, Percy listlessly paced a long empty hall of portraits, his head down. The drink in his hand was nearly untouched.
He had no heart for music this evening, with his formerly placid love life in turmoil. The portraits gazed at him disdainfully, then turned away with a sniff.
He stopped to adjust his tie in a mirror, and was startled to find the image of Lucius over his shoulder. Lucius caught Percy's eyes; he looked somewhat rumpled and disheveled. Percy blinked, and on second glance, Lucius was wearing only a dressing gown with a subtle brocade pattern in deep green. The hair on his chest was a thick dark blond, and he removed a glass from Percy's hand.
Percy glanced down to see his wineglass still there, and spun around to find that Lucius was not behind him at all. Instead he was approaching from further down the hall. Fully dressed. Percy edged away from the mirror in hopes that Lucius wouldn't see that he'd been staring.
Lucius slid up beside him, draping an arm across his shoulders; he always became more demonstrative with a few drinks in him, though it made Percy tremble after what he'd just seen in the mirror.
Lucius said in his ear, "Are you not enjoying the party?"
"No, no everything's fine," Percy assured him. At the chiding tilt of Lucius' head, he crumbled.
"Oh, all right. I'm afraid I'm just not in the mood for a party," he said with a shy smile and heaved a sigh. "It's… these fights are getting to me I think." His voice turned emphatic. "It's as if she doesn't trust me! And I'm a very trustworthy person. I've never given her any reason to doubt me, but these days she has to know everywhere I go. I'm starting to feel, well, I dunno…"
"Trapped, perhaps?" Lucius supplied, with a knowing cool smile. He leaned a hand against the carved white rococco wall beside Percy.
"Yes! Exactly!" Percy's gesture nearly slopped his wine, and Lucius took it carefully from his hand. "Like… I want to run away -- far and fast."
"Then," Lucius answered, his voice so low it was almost a growl, "Let's go. Now."
"But you'll miss your party."
"To be perfectly honest, Dominique is incomparably dreary." Lucius examined his fingernails. "This was simply an excuse to see you in those fine new robes. They suit you well, by the way."
Percy stroked down the front of the robes. "They're very nice. Thank you for them. But you could have asked me to wear them for you any time and I would have."
"Would you now?" Lucius purred, though he sounded unsurprised.
"Oh, of course."
The lane was dark, shaded by tall pines and slightly rutted as they splashed through moon-bright puddles of water. A wind whispered and shifted the trees, and they approached a broad wrought-iron gate. The Malfoy crest was emblazoned on the stone archway overhead, and the gates opened of their own accord with a slight squeak. The carriage continued onward. The Malfoy estate seemed to be sculpted out of ridges of dark and deep grey in the moonlight and scudding clouds.
"Where are we?" Percy asked, slightly alarmed, though he knew the answer.
"My home. Malfoy Manor. I thought you would be more comfortable here," Lucius said in the dark beside him.
Percy's heart hammered in his chest. He couldn't imagine being less comfortable, actually. "Oh. Ah. I've never been here before." He shut his eyes and died inwardly, cursing himself. If that wasn't the stupidest thing he'd ever said, it was close to it. "It's very nice," he added, feeling slightly out of breath.
Lucius was inscrutable in the dark.
The enormous front door of the Malfoy's was heavy, windowless, and carved with ancient runes. A house-elf took Percy's cloak.
"Drinks, in the upstairs south parlour," Lucius informed it, and the house-elf bobbed its head solemnly.
Percy licked his lips as he glanced about. "Isn't your wife at home?" He wished that his voice didn't sound quite so high.
Lucius shook his head. "Narcissa is out of town," and then added, "as she is often. She is involved in many charities."
"Oh," Percy said. "That's… very good of her."
"It solves many problems," Lucius said cryptically.
Percy was too nervous to respond. He took in the old suit of armour to his left, and the crossed swords over the doorway. Rich tapestries adorned the foyer walls, covering various closets and doorways; carved Asian tables with delicately painted vases nestled in the corners. A very modern broom-rack, designed to prevent any bending or wear and tear on fine brooms, was in-set above a closet. Percy suspected that the broom so casually displayed there would make his brothers green with envy.
The effect was one of elegant splendor spanning many centuries. Percy was just wondering how much of this was really Lucius, and how much was his family, when he caught sight of a bottle with a small fleet of tiny ships displayed in the main hallway.
Lucius motioned for him follow, which Percy did wordlessly, the carpet thick and soft underfoot; their footsteps were as silent as thieves. Lucius paused at a broad stair.
Sleeping portraits and tasseled banners lined the steps, and the banister was of carved dark wood, burnished and gleaming in the dim light.
"I thought we might have a nightcap in my private parlour," Lucius explained, studying Percy closely.
Percy merely nodded.
Apparently satisfied, Lucius went on, and Percy trailed in his wake up the stairs, eyes glued to the graceful shift of Lucius' shoulders. A long blond strand had come loose from the silver medallion that tied back his hair, which Percy watched in fascination. There was a relaxed confidence to Lucius here, one that replaced the wary assurance of all but his most private moments. Percy's heart swelled, and he gave in to the desire to follow Lucius more closely.
In the narrower upstairs hall, Lucius paused at one of the doors and held it open. "After you," he said, and Percy ducked under his arm, uncomfortably aware of the warm brush of his shoulder.
The room was well-lit by an overhead candelabra, and richly appointed in warm wood and wine-soft velvet. A fire was laid, and to the left of it was a small couch. A silver tray hovered in front of the fire, golden light reflecting off of crystal decanters and the soft curve of glass.
Lucius unbuttoned his jacket. "I will return momentarily." He stepped into an adjoining room, the door slightly ajar behind him. Percy heard the tempting shift of cloth.
Percy paced the room, nervous and on edge. The walls, which had seemed grey at first, shifted with movement, and Percy saw that in truth they were the same colour as the carpet, but everywhere he looked they were covered by wizarding snapshots in various sized frames. Most of them featured a small tow-headed boy who looked a great deal like Draco Malfoy, though his clothes were far out of date. Trust Lucius to decorate with pictures of himself; Percy smiled.
"It suits you," Percy said, trying to cover his nervousness. His voice sounded too loud in the empty room.
"Hmm?" Lucius' voice wafted from the other room.
"This place," Percy called out, as he touched a crystal glass. "It's very elegant. But comfortable, too." He poured himself a glass of something, he wasn't sure what it was, wincing at the loud clink as he replaced the cap on the decanter.
"Are you comfortable here?" Lucius' voice rumbled. There was a jingle of hangers.
"Ah -- sure," Percy lied, swallowing around his dry throat. Behind that door Lucius chuckled.
With a pop, a house-elf appeared directly in front of Percy. He nearly dropped his drink.
"Will the master be needing fresh towels and a dressing gown in the morning?" the elf asked him.
Percy blinked. "I'm sorry, ah, I think you'd best ask him yourself." The elf was visibly puzzled, and tipped its head at him quizzically, its long ears twitching.
"Arteous!" Lucius called out from the other room in a firm tone. "Leave us."
The elf scampered away and, with a pop, disappeared. Lucius entered the room.
"They are such incorrigible creatures. I apologise for its rudeness."
He searched Percy's face, but Percy had eyes only for what Lucius was wearing: a smoking jacket in the very same subtle brocade pattern as the dressing gown he had seen in the mirror. What a striking coincidence….
Then he realised he hadn't answered Lucius' question. "Oh, ah, yes well… no harm done."
Lucius relaxed. His hair lay in a smooth fall over his shoulders, unbound. Percy looked him up and down, and his eyes kept returning to it, as Lucius bent to pour them drinks. He took the glass from Percy's hand, and handed him something clear. "I think you will like this better."
"I feel horribly overdressed now," Percy smiled at him.
"But you make a striking picture; as if you belong here, in this room." His eyes were dark and appraising.
"I believe we are forgetting something…" and with a gesture Lucius dimmed the candles. In response, Percy tamped down the fire to glowing red embers; showing off. Just a little. He could do advanced magics, too. Those dark eyes deepened with amusement, as Lucius touched the glass to his lips. There was a satin sheen to the sleeve alongside Percy's, and he was standing so close; his cologne was rich and subtle.
"The red glistens in the firelight." Lucius' hand brushed Percy's hair off his face, cool fingers ghosting over his cheek. Percy shut his eyes briefly with a soft sigh.
"Not as much as you," he whispered, and he could touch Lucius' hair in return, yes, he could, and touch Lucius, who didn't look surprised, not nearly as surprised as Percy felt. Their breathing was heavy in the room, and there was a plush layer of fabric between them, and a warm hard chest that rose and fell against Percy. Those silver-blue eyes still were not surprised as Percy wound his hand in that hair, as Lucius' arm slid around Percy's waist and up his back. Their lips pressed, then slid together, and Percy's eyes widened as he could feel him hard through that robe; and an answering heat went up in him -- unmistakably so, pressed against Lucius.
Percy's lips parted, and he broke the kiss with a breath, aware now that the sound of heavy breathing was himself.
"I begin to think your intentions aren't," he swallowed, "entirely honourable." Lucius pulled the glass from his clenched hand and set it on the mantel.
"I assure you, that I have never deceived you about my intentions." His lips brushed Percy's, tantalizing, pulling away as Percy leaned up for more.
"Undress me," Percy gasped, his hands still wound in Lucius' hair, "because I don't think I can."
"My bedroom's… over here…." Lucius began edging him backward; they were nearly tripping over each other.
Of course it was. "You've thought of everything," Percy breathed, unwilling to let go even to find the bed.
"No, not at all," Lucius' laugh was nearly a growl. "For one thing, I never thought it would take you this long."
That swept the thoughts from Percy's mind. Lucius nuzzled Percy's ear as they managed the last few steps, bumping the door open.
"I'm sorry," Percy whispered, his eyes wide and innocent, feeling like a cork at sea.
The bed was wide and soft, the comforter thick as a cloud around Percy as he fell backwards over the edge. It smelled of Lucius, only Lucius, and faintly Percy realised he slept here alone; there was not a trace of anything feminine in the room. Not like he and Aurora. Percy veered off that thought.
They laughed breathlessly as Lucius struggled with Percy's trousers, complicated buttons and tangled robes. Percy kicked his legs free like a child, his shirt still on and buttoned, as Lucius' hands slid along the outside curve of his bare thighs, cupping Percy's bottom as he shoved him further onto the bed.
Lucius' smoking jacket had only a simple tie and his trousers were more like pyjama bottoms, smooth silk with even softer elastic. Percy pushed them down, slipping over his hips easily. He met hot skin.
"You don't have on any underwear…" he murmured between rough kisses.
Lucius edged his knee between Percy's thighs, and Percy looked up at his pale chest in the dark, daring to comb through the trail of hair on his stomach, gliding down.
"You were here," Lucius sighed. "You knew." His chest heaved as he panted, eyes half-closed at Percy's hesitant progress.
"So I did," Percy confessed, his mind filled with the truth of that, somewhat shocked. Then he made a little surprised sound as he grasped the warmth of Lucius' cock, his curly hair slightly damp. Percy raised up a little to look -- Lucius jutted out so pale but there was more hair than he'd imagined -- and his finger hesitantly traced under his head. His cock bobbed and rose as if asking for more. Percy murmured as he delicately felt down the silky length… the vein, the soft curve of heavy balls which Percy cupped, his other hand exploring hairy thighs. He had thick, strong thighs. Percy liked that.
Lucius gave a long shuddering breath as his eyes shut and he let his head fall to Percy's shoulder as he pressed up into Percy's hand, encouraging, "…harder."
Percy nodded, his mind disconnected as habit took over, stroking him. Lucius - another man! - felt strange, so different in his hand. But good.
Then Lucius straddled him, swinging a bare leg over - my god, all naked - and Percy whimpered and tried to push him off, squirming. He was too heavy. Lucius lifted a little, enough, and began working at Percy's buttons as Percy stared up at him. Lucius had a hairy chest, and masculine, sculpted, beautiful arms, a slight unexpected paunch with a hint of love handles at his rather thick waist… but Percy couldn't even begin to compare to him.
Lucius unbuttoned Percy's shirt, opening it like gift wrap, and Percy was laid bare, first his flat stomach, then at last his smooth hairless chest, as thin as when he was fifteen. Percy's breath turned shallow.
Lucius' hair dangled over him as he scanned Percy slowly, studying him. And Percy saw those bright eyes heat with lust; his teeth bared in a white smile. He hummed a hungry animal sound, and bent to taste Percy's nipple, thick hair like a mane stroking Percy's shoulders. Percy didn't understand, but he was so grateful. He twisted his legs to try to press his cock against Lucius' thigh, arse, whatever he could reach, but Lucius kept him trapped and maddeningly unsatisfied.
He almost had a leg hooked over a thigh, when Lucius rose and crawled up to pin Percy's shoulders with his knees, sinking him down into the comforter. His thighs flexed and in a long, slow, sensual thrust, he pressed his cock towards Percy's mouth, just out of reach. Then moved closer, his hips arching. Percy leaned his head up and licked the tip shyly, disbelieving himself. He was really going to do this.
Percy decided Lucius had an ugly cock as it slid along his tongue. Too pointed and thin for a man of his size. But his balls were glorious. He didn't expect that musky scent, and certainly didn't expect to like it. He sank Lucius into his mouth as deep as he could, a distant voice in the back of his mind trilling that he'd just stepped over an irretrievable line, as he sucked hard and tried to draw him in further, eyes closed.
It was raw and physical and sloppy and not at all what he expected.
Lucius' breathing increased above him, his chin tipped back, hair sliding down his shoulder, and Percy felt him start to pulse. He pulled off.
"Don't come. Please."
Lucius panted in frustration, head dropping; his eyes squinted as if in pain. "Your first… I won't make you… we can just…." he complained, as he rocked towards Percy's mouth.
"But I want you to." Percy mouthed the air as he arched his hips off the bed. "I've thought about it… so much."
"In general?" Lucius asked as his breath slowed in heavy gasps, leaning closer. "Or about me specifically?"
Percy's embarrassed silence answered him, and Lucius gave a throaty chuckle and kissed him enthusiastically.
Sweat cooled on Percy's skin as Lucius rummaged in a drawer beside the bed, muttering intense and vivid curses about house-elves and cleaning as he slammed one drawer and opened another.
Lucius motioned for him to roll onto his stomach, lower lip caught between his teeth. Percy had expected to be taken from the front; somehow that seemed more romantic, but he supposed Lucius knew best.
He shuddered as the first oily finger slid in, not liking the intrusion one bit. His lashes fluttered.
"Press towards me," Lucius said, and Percy glanced back at his look of concentration. He wanted to say, no, never mind, but… Lucius seemed so intent.
Percy's shoulders twitched as Lucius' worked his fingers inside. He clung to a pillow as Lucius went deeper. He winced between heavy breaths.
Then bed rocked around him and he felt Lucius' weight settle on top of his thighs. Percy's mouth opened as he felt the prodding of something, oh, much larger -- that's it then.
He moaned as Lucius forced inside, biting his lip as he felt the snap of something give way, seeing stars for a moment.
"Oh god," he breathed at last, "are you in?"
"Not all the way," Lucius said, and Percy goggled. His body twitched involuntarily as that battering ram continued to force him open, and Lucius began to move as Percy scrabbled underneath him.
He whimpered and gasped, biting the covers as he grasped the pillow, the wind forced out of him. It hurt. His fingers found something hard to clutch, probably the headboard, as Lucius began to slowly rock in and out -- out hurting much more than in.
Percy grunted, breathing hard on each push, "deeper, deeper…" just to get him to stop pulling out, and Lucius grew more excited at his words, speeding his thrusts, making them shorter, briefer.
Which was good. Better.
Percy panted, breathing through it. And had to laugh at his own illusions.
The heat of Lucius was too heavy on his back, crushing him, his breath damp on Percy's neck. Percy was squashed into the pillows; and this elegant, classy man growled like an animal as he sped up, moaning, rocking hard and furious, as he came.
He collapsed, draping himself heavily over Percy's back, drenched in sweat.
"Stay… stay inside…" Percy begged, thinking, at least until the swelling goes down.
Sweaty, satiated, Lucius smiled in his ear. He continued to surge back and forth more gently now, as slowly as waves… and that felt rather nice. It had potential, Percy decided.
Then Lucius stopped, and slowly pulled out. Percy eyes widened as he felt like he was being turned inside out like a sock. Then Lucius sat up and rubbed his face.
The house-elf appeared with hot towels, while Percy scrambled to cover himself -- too late -- with a sheet. Lucius glanced his direction as the elf vanished. "Oh. Are you shy?" Lucius asked absently. "It's just a house-elf." And he began to wipe himself down.
Percy lightly kicked at him.
Lucius turned to him with an eloquent expression of blank surprise.
"Lucius…" Percy leaned up, mouth working, unable to say the words. "So that's it? You're done?"
Lucius reached for a dressing gown -- Percy was unsurprised to see it was the one from the mirror. His hair was a wreck as well. Lucius said in that dignified manner as he tied it, "I'll be back momentarily."
A light clicked on in an adjoining room, leaving a bright line near the floor. Then Percy heard the tinkle of Lucius taking a piss. Percy stood, and strode, naked, into the bathroom. He felt like he was at home, about to face another row with Aurora -- only for once all the facts were on his side. Which was all too rare with her.
Percy had his back up, and Lucius was not going to get away with this.
Lucius gave him another blank stare as Percy invaded the privacy of his bathroom; he looked affronted, his cock soft in his hands. But he was none too imposing dressed in only a dressing gown, aiming at a toilet. "Percy," he snapped. "Do you mind?"
Percy licked his lips. "You got yours, but I didn't even come."
That blank look of Lucius' continued and Percy had a flash of insight. He leaned his head against the cool bathroom tile, looking at his friend who loved ships, still hated his father, had gone slightly to seed… and was terrible in bed. "No one ever tells you, do they?"
Because he was the great Lucius Malfoy….
"Tells me what, Percy?" Lucius shook himself.
Percy rubbed his face against the inside of his arm. "You know. It's better if you don't leave one hanging like that."
"And what would you know of it?" Lucius gave him a sardonic look.
"Would you like your, ah, lovers," Percy shied off the word in connection with himself, "would you like them to return?"
He could tell that struck a nerve as Lucius pupils widened slightly. They didn't come back, did they, Lucius.
"Come to bed," he pleaded. "At least for me? Crossed swords and passion and all that sort of thing?"
Lucius snorted. "You have utterly mangled that quote."
"Well, maybe I could have a look at your book then."
And at that memory, Lucius' pride softened. Though he looked Percy up and down as warily as a stalking cat as he followed him into the bedroom. "Maybe you should."
Eventually, Lucius gave in to a shower, muttering he was bored with the bedroom anyway. Percy gasped in the steam, a thin line of oil trickling down his thigh as Lucius stroked. He was focused, so focused. "Sensualist…" Lucius accused him, kissing his neck, and Percy merely murmured.
"Are you happy now?" Lucius said later, toweling off his hair, his voice dripping with sarcasm.
"Oh yes, very," Percy reassured him, guessing the real reason behind the question. He added a new mental note to his study of Lucius Malfoy: Malfoys speak in code. And needed much reassurance after an embarrassment.
Percy couldn't sleep. A grey light filtered through the milk-white curtains in Lucius' bedroom, trickling across a mahogany dresser and upholstered chairs and a masculine sort of clutter. A beam arced across a globe, and picked out in light the angles of brass wizard sextant, that turned about to scope out the corners as if it were on the ocean. The beam fell across a bookcase filled with surprisingly tattered old books. A stranger's room. Percy had been up all night.
His clothes were scattered all over the floor, looking like the sad remnants of a party.
Beside him, Lucius had one bare arm flung across the pillow, his knee tucked up under Percy's thigh as he snored, his jaw slack. He looked rather young now, except for the angry frown line between his brows that never went away.
Percy sat up, careful not to wake him, and leaned his chin on his knees. He was grateful to recall it was Saturday. But he would have to tell Aurora he spent the night in a hotel… and lie to her? He would have to tell her. He tried to weigh the consequences and shook his head. He had never stayed out all night before, for any reason. She would know something was wrong.
He ran his hand over his face and wondered where his glasses had gone. He thought they might be in the parlour, where this all began.
No. It had begun long before then.
Percy slipped out of bed and gathered his clothes, blearily trying to think. He was in his underwear pulling on his socks when he heard a low, sleep-soaked voice:
"Leaving so soon?"
Lucius blinked at him from the pillow like a weary tiger.
Percy slumped, dropping his head to his hands, feeling very naked in just his underwear and black socks. "I can't… I can't do this, Lucius. This isn't what I am. Or at least, not what I'm meant to be."
He was met with silence. Percy pulled on his trousers, buttoning them, and gently draped Lucius' silk pyjama bottoms over the chair.
"I have to think of the future," he continued, threading his belt through the loops and buckling it firmly. "I can't throw my life away for - for whatever this is." He pulled on his shoes, glancing up at Lucius apologetically.
Lucius was still silent, studying Percy.
Finally he said, "I will respect your decision."
Percy paused, then continued dressing. He didn't know what he had expected. An argument? A promise? But… it was probably best this way.
Lucius directed the house-elf show him the way home. At the front door, Percy thanked Arteous for his help, which left the elf baffled. Then he Apparated from Lucius' front yard.
The following week found Percy Weasley visiting the florist shop after work, bustling through the evening crowd, a box of candies tucked under his elbow. He walked home hurriedly, battling a vicious bouquet of snapdragons, which snarled and breathed little wisps of fire. He tucked in his chin and dodged their attacks. He hated these, but they were Aurora's favourites and the main reason she had purchased fireproof curtains.
Later in the week, Percy poked his head out of his office and insisted to the assistants that he absolutely must not be disturbed during this lunch hour. The door to his office then sealed with many locking charms, and for a change, his lunch-time went over its assigned hour. Inside, Percy could be seen making an anxious long-distance fire-call to his brother Bill in Egypt.
Percy's story was carefully edited, leaving out both the name and gender of his encounter. But it left him much relieved, as Bill had insisted that it would be "incredibly stupid" to tell Aurora about a mere slip. "It happens to all of us, Percy. Don't worry about it. Just don't make a habit of it, all right?" It seemed they were closer for a time afterward, and Bill was oddly proud of his little brother. Which was strange, but Percy was grateful as he picked up the pieces of his life.
All in all, Percy was happy, as his life returned to normal.
There was the soft, steady click of footsteps down the Ministry halls. The last shards of a cold winter light faded over the horizon, patterning the walls in bright squares near the ceiling. The sun set early this time of year. It was still only six o'clock, but as it was Friday the office had empty quickly, somewhat before five.
The light was on in Percy's office, a soft gentle glow. He was working late as usual. Though his office was silent, without even the normal small rustles of parchment and the gentle scratching of his quill.
The man paused outside the door, but hesitated only a moment. The door squeaked as it opened.
Percy wasn't even pretending to work, though his quill was still gripped tightly in his hand. His eyes were liquid and huge. Lucius gazed at him steadily, his eyes appraising. He slowly turned, taking in any changes in the room. There weren't many.
Lucius cleared his throat, then finally said, "I thought the Oxburg Arms might be a nice change of pace."
Percy hadn't taken his eyes off Lucius for a moment. He hardly even seemed to breathe.
Then he answered, "I'll get my cloak."