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Lucius turned his collar up as he rounded the corner into Knockturn Alley. His current set of robes had a very impressive collar – long enough to screen his face up to the eyebrows – but his white-blonde hair was quite distinctive enough on its own. He knew he would be recognized. It was unavoidable. Knockturn Alley was his street. It was where his soul had been forged. There hadn't been the time, or the conditions, to forge it at home. He knew every street-trader and shopkeeper along these cobbles. And, thanks to the regrettable excesses of his youth, he knew every barman and dancing girl.

But he, in turn, would recognize them. He would take notes and observe. He would stride through the street like an inspector, and, while they were bowing and simpering and looking sheepishly at their feet, he would move amongst them invisibly and go wherever he pleased.

The most important thing to remember, his father had told him, is that a Malfoy never flinches. Wherever you go, you must look as though you have a perfect right to be there. Whatever you do, you must look as though nobody but you has the ability to do it. A confident tread will open every door to you.

You do not ask permission. You are a Malfoy. That is your permission. And so Lucius strode purposefully wherever he went, and obstacles melted out of his way. Or at least, they did if they knew what was good for them.

But, for all the purpose, his feelings of weariness and disgust increased with every step. Every ruddy face and sycophantic bow made him sick. He felt as though everything he could tolerate about the world was slipping away. And soon, there would be nothing left but the disgust. It would wrap itself round him protectively, to keep him from going mad, and dissolve him from the inside out, until the protective wrappings were all that was left.

At times, he wanted this to happen. It would make him stronger. People would fear him if he was a walking embodiment of righteous anger. They feared him anyway, of course – but with an air of calculated prudence, rather than superstitious terror. Prudence didn't keep people awake in the middle of the night.

But then he would remember Narcissa and wish to be alive again, simply because it allowed you to feel. She stirred up so many sensations – like thousands of tiny ice crystals biting at his skin, raising goose-bumps, making him shiver. The exhilaration of that was worth the churning nausea he had to endure the rest of the time. He could watch a filthy, gawping muggle-born schoolboy boarding the Hogwarts Express with barely a sneer, if he knew he could go home to those biting ice-crystals.

Knockturn Alley got narrower the further you walked down. The upper storeys of the houses on either side gradually closed over the pedestrians, until they joined overhead to make the street into a kind of tunnel. Here, you could find the kind of establishments that even the residents of Knockturn Alley were a little ashamed of. The places which peddled flesh, both living and dead.

Most unusually, it was the former which had enticed him here. Well, enticed was the wrong word. He would have given anything to avoid coming here – the memories of this place churned his stomach – but Narcissa didn't have much time. And the coronet was here; Burke had been quite unequivocal about that.

"I sold it," the old man had said, flicking dust motes off the cuffs of his sulphur-yellow robes, "to Magi."

The sentence was left hanging in the dry air of the counting house, and it was a while before Malfoy trusted himself to pick it up.

"She couldn't afford it," he protested.  

"I sold it at a… lenient price."

There was a pause, while Malfoy tried to dismiss a thousand disturbing mental images. Magi was a sort of courtesan – except that the word 'courtesan' generally implied a more up-market woman of that type. Magi was as common as a muggle pig-farmer. But, for all her hanging consonants and glottal stops, she was gifted in a way that a muggle could only dream of. She was a Metamorphmagus. She could become anyone for her clients: an old lover who'd rejected them, a yearned-for paramour they'd never possessed, an intimidating authority-figure they wouldn't dare try to seduce in real life – basically any shape or size, colour, gender or species you could think of, and all at a bargain price.

But Burke didn't have the energy to be one of Magi's clients. He was a desiccated wreck. If he tried anything too adventurous, bits of him would probably crumble off.

Finally, Malfoy said: "No. It's not for the obvious reason, is it?"

"I couldn't say," said Burke, with a raised eyebrow. "What is obvious to one man may be a far-flung impossibility to another. I can only suggest that you talk to Magi about it." He paused. Something on Malfoy's face must have announced that he would rather do anything than talk to Magi, because the old man went on, with a slight smile: "I do think you will get the coronet from her. She was always fond of you. But you will have to use all of your considerable skills of persuasion. And, needless to say, I will be watching with interest."  

Reluctantly, Malfoy left him. It was easier to extract information from giggling courtesans than mummified old men. Easier, but not nicer. Malfoy knew Magi of old. He knew her high, tinkling, nerve-grating laugh. He knew her freckled flesh and butter-beer breath. And he knew that she knew too much about him to be pleasant company.

She was, in some ways, a safe confidante. She had split personality disorder, and therefore, if you confided in one of her personalities, the other ones would not remember when they next took over her mind. But a Metamorphmagus with split personality disorder was a startling sight. Each new personality meant a new face, a new body, even sometimes a new gender. As a younger man, Malfoy had had an affair with five of her seven personalities. The others were male, and that wasn't just a question of spitting and refusing to talk about your feelings.  A Metamorphmagus who believed she was male had all the trimmings.  

Her true form – as far as Malfoy knew – was that of a dumpy little woman, with curly brown hair and a round face set in a permanent grin, like a split apple.

She wore a velvet corset that was always brimming over with freckled flesh. She was forever nudging people and winking. And that laugh – throaty and hearty and pitched as though you'd said something filthy, even if you'd just offered her an innocuous 'good morning'. Although that was unlikely, because Magi wasn't available for business in the morning. If you were saying 'good morning' to her, it was usually as a parting gesture.  

Malfoy hesitated at the narrow end of Knockturn Alley. There was an opening to his right, leading down to a set of cellar steps and a world of unpleasant recollections. He took a deep breath and dived in.

Down the wet steps, to a doorway which was being guarded by a hunched and surly-looking troll. Clearly, it was a troll who'd been taught to recognize wealth, because it stepped aside for Malfoy. The well-tailored robes, the silver-topped cane, the clink of gold galleons in his purse, were all indications that he belonged inside, ordering drinks and spreading the wealth around. Even a troll could work out that much. It was even possible, thought Malfoy, as he gave the creature a haughty look, that it recognized him. From the old days. His stomach gave another lurch and his lip curled into a sneer. Well, the old days weren't getting him back. He would get them back. He would make his shameful, hedonistic past work for him – and, more importantly, work for Narcissa.

Inside was a cavernous hall, with a brightly-lit stage at the far end, and a sea of tables arrayed in front of it, sunk in cigar smoke and gloom. A thousand bare, powdered arms caressed his shoulders the instant he came through the door, but he shrugged them off and headed towards the dressing rooms with an air of purpose. The churning nausea in his stomach was getting stronger now. The air was warm, and thick with perfume and powder. Everything in here was soft – from the lighting to the feather boas – to mask how hard these women could be, especially in their professional dealings.

For Malfoy, however, they had not been hard enough. They had given him whatever he asked for – let him do whatever he wanted. This wasn't unusual, as such: obedience was what he'd come to expect from everyone he encountered. It was only proper. But, in women – that was to say, in young, flirtatious women – obedience turned his stomach. He had seen where it could lead.  

All women eventually became that way for Malfoy. They might be cold, snooty, virginal and virtuous to begin with, but they soon lost their reserve. They just wanted him too much. It was a repellent characteristic to him now.  If they wanted him for his looks, then they were lewd, uncontrolled savages, and if they wanted him for his fabulous wealth, then they were servile and artificial.

They were soon laughing that high, tinkling laugh, and brushing feathers playfully against their cheeks.

He shuddered.

There were men in here he recognized – hiding in the shadows, or wearing hooded cloaks to safeguard their reputations. Others were too shameless – or too proud of their fine robes – for hiding.

It was disgusting, thought Malfoy, as he moved between the tables, watched by every pair of jewel-bright eyes and fluttering eyelashes. Dallying with these women while magic was dying out. Chuckling obliviously as loose women tickled their chins, or brushed their cheeks with feather boas. And these men were pure-bloods – some of them were even Ministers. Ye gods, some of them were teachers. What were they thinking?

And yet he still had something of that recklessness. It had driven him here, against all sense and reason, to retrieve the coronet for Narcissa. If he had cared too much about his reputation, or the future of magic, he never would have come.

The dressing-room was full when he arrived. Ten women, wearing black bodices and red, ruffled skirts – caked in powder and rouge – looked up at him hungrily. But then someone clapped their hands twice, and the hungry vipers scattered.

Magi was the only one left when the swishing of skirts and clatter of heels had died down. She was in her dumpy, grinning form, and grinning more broadly than Malfoy had ever seen her.

"Dear Mr. Malfoy!" she exclaimed with delight. "Please come in and put yer feet up! Social call?"

"Hardly," said Lucius.   

Magi laughed. Powder rose in clouds from her bosom as it shook. "Dear Mr Malfoy, I 'ave missed you! They say you're be'aving these days. Settlin' down. When the girls read about your engagement in the Prophet, there wasn't one of 'em as didn't cry!" Magi winked. "Not me, though. I reckons I knows you well enough. I dint believe a word of it."

Malfoy resisted the urge to shout, but he couldn't resist the urge to sneer. It was in his blood. "I'm genuinely astonished to learn that you and the chorus girls can read."

"We went to school, you know. It couldn't make us honest, but it made us smart."

"Well, I hope you will continue to be smart, Magi," said Malfoy. "You can start by handing over the coronet Burke sold you."

The flirtatious grin faltered for a moment, but it was replaced with an expression just as artificial. She pouted. Her thick red lips converged and swelled like blood clots. "You can hurt a girl's feelins, dispensing with the small-talk like that," she crooned. "Is that the only reason you came to see ol' Magi?"

"You assumed I came here to reminisce about old times?"

Magi shrugged. "We 'ad a lot of old times, as I recall."

Malfoy raised his eyebrows. "You don't recall four fifths of them, believe me."

"You was always one of my favourite young gentlemen."

"A business transaction for you, and an unpleasant memory for me," said Malfoy. "Nothing more. I am here to reclaim my property."

"Burke said 'e got a receipt from you," Magi replied churlishly. "I wouldn't've bought no stolen property, you can be sure o' that."

Lucius leaned forward. "It was stolen, Magi. But believe me when I tell you that a visit from the Department of Magical Law Enforcement is the least of your worries. I will ask you nicely, once, for what you might term 'old time's sake', and then I will start dismantling your pitiful life piece by piece."

There were no giggles or grins now. Magi was scowling at him. Her eyes had become two slits in that round, freckled face.

"Pitiful, is it?" she breathed. "Weren't so pitiful when you were crawling after me on bended knee."

"Yes it was," he said solemnly. "It always was."

Magi considered him for a moment, and then crossed to one of the wardrobes that were lined up along one wall of the dressing room. This one, he noticed – because advanced nausea makes the perceptions incredibly clear – had carved, clawed feet.  

What she took out was small but eminently noticeable – an artifact so beautiful that it made every shiny, tasseled, sequined object in the room look pale and embarrassed. Malfoy felt a twinge of pride for his family's heirlooms. He couldn't believe he'd thought the tawdry furnishings and close atmosphere of this place would tarnish the coronet. The coronet could make the unworthy collapse in shame.

"Is this what you're after?" she asked, holding it at bosom-height.

Malfoy knew better than to reach out for it. No doubt there would be some sleight of hand and her bosom would get in the way.

"I can tell you why Burke sold it to me too," she went on coldly. "And then you can tell me whether you think you'll ever get it back again."

"It belongs to the Malfoys, Magi. It will always come back to us."

"Funny you should say that," she replied. "Its powers only work for a Mrs. Malfoy, Burke said. And there aint no Mrs. Malfoys anymore – although, Lord knows, it weren't for want of tryin'. But I can be a Mrs. Malfoy if I wants to, whatever Mr. Malfoy says. Burke knew that. So 'e gives me this crown and says: for ten Galleons, Magi, you can 'ave this, provided you puts it on and shows me what it can do."

"You mean you - ," Malfoy hesitated, but only for a fraction of a second. "You had the effrontery to assume the shape of one of my ancestors?" he went on smoothly.

"The only one I ever seen," said Magi, shrugging. "Your mum."

There was a silence, in which the singing and stamping of chorus girls could be heard emanating from the stage.

"What powers, Magi?" he asked, in a leaden voice.

Magi bounced up and down on the balls of her feet. It made her bosom quake like a blancmange. "I'm so glad you asked me that! Let me show you!"

And, before he could do anything to stop her, she was morphing into the likeness of his mother, and placing the coronet reverentially on her head.

The late Mrs. Malfoy was tall and willowy, so Magi had to grow by nearly a foot. Her brown curls lengthened, lightened and smoothed, until they were straight and blonde. And then there were the eyebrows. He knew them so well. Dark and bushy and standing out starkly in her pale face. Lucius's mouth dropped open in horror.

"Sit down," said his mother, and Malfoy sat. He couldn't help himself. He could feel his knees bending without the intervention of his brain. It was just one of those voices that commanded instant obedience from every muscle.

"This is what the coronet does, my dear Mr. Malfoy," she said smoothly. "It makes you obey. It makes anyone obey. It's like a portable, legal and fashionable Imperius Curse. If I want to keep it, there aint nothing you can do to stop me. But maybe there's somethin' I want more."

Lucius tried to think. It made sense, he realized, in a horrible kind of way. His mother had been a quiet woman – practically a mute next to the spitting, rage-fuelled volcano his father had been. But, if there was ever something his father couldn't handle – if there was ever someone he couldn't persuade – he would always turn submissively to his wife and say: "Could you have a word with them, dear?"

And it would get done. The Malfoys would get their way. Oh, it was usually down to charm and the compelling force of their personalities, but, if all else failed, Mrs. Malfoy would handle it. If one of his teachers was giving him bad grades – or if the Minister for Magic took leave of his senses and decided to raid their manor house, Mrs. Malfoy would pat her son on the shoulder and say: "Not to worry, little thing. Leave it to mother."

"Magi, that…" Lucius hesitated. This was an entirely new feeling to him. He was used to being angry but, this time, he was bewildered and angry, rather than angry and angry. "That's my mother."  

"Meet me tomorrow night," she whispered, and it was sickening, watching Magi's grin invade his mother's face. "Meet me tomorrow night and maybe Magi gives it back to you. Treat 'er nice and you never know what she'll do."

But Malfoy did know. That was the problem. Treat her nice and she would do anything. There were no depths to which she wouldn't stoop; no boundaries she wouldn't cross. She could assume the shape of his mother and demand to be kissed. And that was soft – that was practically respectable – for one of Magi's perverted ideas.

Still, he said he would meet her, because she was wearing the coronet, and his lips were moving without his volition.

If nothing else, it would buy him some time to think.


The drive that led up to the Valance house was at least a quarter of a mile long, and Severus could swear it was lengthening under his impatient feet.

He had spent the night under the close, stifling clouds of Mapledurham, and the morning breathing potion-fumes in the dungeons. The sudden openness out here in the countryside was disorientating – he wouldn't go so far as to call it a relief, because enemies on broomsticks could swoop down on you from an open sky, probably with gerbil-like grins on their pampered faces – but it was… something – it was just something – to see a sky over his head for once.

He was trying not to think, but that was always a losing battle. He was trying not to dwell on the fact that he felt… free. Almost optimistic. He mustn't feel optimistic. He couldn't afford to relax. And, above all, he couldn't afford to think that everything was going to be alright, because every time he did, the world – or, most likely, James Potter – delivered some crushing blow that left him sprawling, face-down, in the dirt.

But it was tempting, all the same. He'd mastered the Liberus Charm this morning, and there was no thrill on earth like getting a potion absolutely right – unless it was the thrill of seeing Lily again after two weeks of nervous, exhausted separation. Both thrills at the same time were almost enough to wipe the perpetual frown off his face.

Almost, but not quite. Open skies, remember? Plus, you don't know how she'll react under the Liberus Charm. She doesn't need you now, and please remember that, because, if doom is going to come from any direction this afternoon, it's going to be that one.

Don't expect anything, he told himself. Don't imagine she'll be happy to see you. And, once you have – because you never listen to me anyway – don't follow those imaginings down any stupid paths, like the path where she sneaks into your room tonight and takes all her clothes off. Just don't, OK?

The front doors finally loomed into sight, but the sound of singing made him swerve away from them, and walk past endless French windows and gothic porticoes to the side of the house. There was a stream there, shrouded by weeping willows, and standing underneath them, singing in absent-minded bursts, and dappled with sunlight and shade, was Lily.

She was working in a kind of garden on the bank of the stream. She looked so similar to the Lily he'd seen in the forest of thorns that he half expected her to don a pair of gardening gloves and start hauling these plants up by the roots. But she was smoothing them in, not hauling them up: flattening the soil around them with a trowel, and occasionally showering them with a burst from the watering can on the bank beside her.

Severus moved forward silently, noting with relief that she wasn't covered in scratches, and tried to gauge how much things had changed.

She was singing to herself, in little bursts. From what he could work out, it seemed to be a disordered medley of Beatles songs, and he wondered whether she was still trying to embrace her so-called 'muggle' existence with masochistic ferocity.

But the singing was happy, if slightly off-key. She looked luminous and adorable in the patterns of sunlight filtering down from the willow-boughs. Severus didn't usually get on well with 'luminous and adorable' but, at this point, in this shape, it was perfect. And, despite the thudding of apprehension in his chest, he was pleased to see her in a garden. It was surprising – given how much time he spent skulking around indoors – but all the happiest moments of his life had occurred in gardens.

She noticed him then, and smiled. The world seemed to stop holding its breath. "Hello, you," she said.

And that was it. No biting her lip, or shrugging with indifference. No diplomatic curbing of her exuberance, either. She grabbed him, planted kisses as liberally as she'd planted flowers, and then chattered at him happily, asking him if he'd been getting enough food and sleep, asking him what was happening at Hogwarts. Were Alice Mae and Junius Crawford still together? Did Mary get through her clarinet recital OK? How were Gryffindor doing in the House Cup?

That last one was the only question to which he hadn't replied: "I don't know."

"They've got 432 points, and Slytherin have 473," he said, trying – but not very hard – to keep the triumph out of his voice. "They're clearly suffering from your absence."

He hadn't meant it to sound sarcastic, but it was difficult to be taken seriously when sarcasm was your default mode of expression. Lily gave an outraged laugh, pulled him to the ground amongst the willow-roots, and clambered on top of him.

"I'm sure they are!" she protested, pinning his wrists to the ground. "But they'll get back to the top, with or without me. Spectacular last-minute victories are a Gryffindor speciality."

Severus grimaced. He felt as though the clouds were thickening overhead, but he tried to fight it. "What is this place, anyway?" he asked, before he could think too much about James Potter.

"Bruiser calls it the muggle garden," she said. "Nothing grows here by magic – just natural principles." She lifted one of the hands that was pinning his wrists to the ground so that she could hook her hair behind her ears, but it swept forward again instantly. It was too thick for ears to keep it in check, and Severus could feel it brushing against his cheek, trailing the scent of oranges and spices.

Clear skies again. It was amazing how quickly they could clear when she smiled at him.

"Ah," he replied, nodding sagely. "That's why the blossoms are late, and slightly pathetic."

"It's why the garden isn't infested with gnomes, horklumps and doxies," she corrected him, with barely a pause.

"You know, magic isn't unnatural, or morally wrong," he said. "It's just nudging nature in the right direction, like a muggle putting fertilizer on his crops."

"I didn't say it was unnatural. It's just nice to get away from it all sometimes and remember what nature can do on its own."

She repositioned herself slightly, settling her body on top of his, so that she was pressing her pelvis against a prime example of what nature could do on its own.

Well, that was the last straw. "OK," he said, rolling them over so that he was on top of her, and pinning her wrists to the ground. "You asked for it, little Gryffindor minx." He got out his wand, waved it, and watched the willow roots underneath her twist around to capture her wrists in place. "You lie there and think of England."

Lily giggled. "This is the muggle garden!" she protested playfully. "You're not allowed to do that!"

"What are you going to do about it?" he asked, with raised eyebrows, while she continued to giggle.

Lily wrapped her legs around his waist and drew him closer. She was a lot less gentle under the effects of the Liberus Charm, but gentleness was overrated in Snape's opinion anyway.

But then she loosened her grip on him, alarm flooding her face. "Listen!" she hissed.  

Severus groaned and drew back. He could hear the jangling of a collar. Elsa's terrier was padding towards them and, when it arrived, it started snuffling at Lily's ear.

Lily shrieked and giggled. She couldn't push the little dog away, because her hands were being pinned to the ground by willow roots. "Sev!" she managed, between squeals. "Let me out!"

Severus pretended to consider it, while the terrier licked her cheeks with enthusiasm.

"I thought you said no magic in the muggle garden," he replied.  

"Severus!" she shouted, her voice hardening. It was now tickling her neck with its wet nose. "That dog means Elsa's coming. What will she think if she sees us like this?"

"That you did something to annoy me?"

"I will not be a party to the traumatizing of an eight-year-old!" Lily declared, in the haughtiest voice it is possible to muster while a dog is snuffling at your neck. Severus gave in.

As soon as Lily was free, she shoved him backwards, struggled to her feet, and managed to smooth her hair down by the time Elsa came hurrying round the side of the house. She still had grass stuck to the back of her blouse, but Elsa either didn't notice, or was too excited to comment on it.

"You're here!" she squealed at Severus, bouncing up and down on the balls of his feet.

"It looks that way," said Snape, still annoyed about her timing.

But it was hard to be angry with Elsa, no matter how much practice you'd had. She led a lonely life, locked up in the Valance House. She didn't get many visitors. She wasn't allowed to meet new people because, as soon as she met them, she had unlimited access to their nightmares, whether she wanted it or not.

"You look tired," Elsa declared mischievously. "Have you been getting enough sleep recently?"

"Not untroubled sleep, no," said Snape.

"Everyone sleeps well after one of Silversmith's suppers," Lily supplied, grinning. "He's making lamb casserole with roast potatoes tonight. And chocolate cake, since a Slytherin's coming."

Severus gave her one of the exasperated half-smiles he reserved just for her. "You've finally found something to like about him, have you?"

In a voice that was both wounded and triumphant, she said. "You wait until you try his cooking. Even you couldn't dislike him after that."

It depends whether he's stopped following you around like a twitchy, goggle-eyed stalker, Severus thought. But he was wise enough not to say it. Getting close to Lily was all about judiciously not saying things.

"Come inside and see dad!" Elsa commanded. "He likes to know who's in the house, so's he can plan the security arrangements around their weaknesses."

"He's been planning for a long time," Lily whispered, as Elsa hurried away. "I think he's been enjoying the challenge."

"What a shame all that effort will be wasted," said Snape, with an air of cheerfulness that he didn't even have to feign. Lily took his hand - because she wanted to, not because she needed to - and they walked slowly up to the house.
Continuing from Tabula [link]

I thought, if I'm going to leave this story for a month, I might as well leave Sev and Lily some place nice!

(Didn't exactly do the same for poor Lucius and Narcissa, but I will be coming back to them after Nanowrimo, I promise!)

Thank you for reading! :)
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:iconpolkadotpeony:
polkadotpeony Featured By Owner Nov 10, 2011
"Well, that was the last straw. "OK," he said, rolling them over so that he was on top of her, and pinning her wrists to the ground. "You asked for it, little Gryffindor minx." He got out his wand, waved it, and watched the willow roots underneath her twist around to capture her wrists in place. "You lie there and think of England."

That last line seriously made me LOL. Uh... yeah. This was a very sexy Lily/Sev chapter. Too bad Elsa had to go and interrupt. But it's also kind of cute to see Sev with a little girl. Makes me think of him having a little girl. Of course that future would be vastly different from Boggart-Lily's future. ;)
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of-all-the-people Featured By Owner Jan 5, 2011
LOVED!
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:iconls269:
ls269 Featured By Owner Jan 6, 2011
:w00t: :hug: Thank you!
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SamanthaLenore Featured By Owner Oct 18, 2010  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Sorry it took so long for me to read this. I loved it, though! The first part, seemed rather more gritty than your usual stuff. Not that I'm saying that is a bad thing at all, I just found it interesting. Maybe your style is slowly changing over time.
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:iconls269:
ls269 Featured By Owner Oct 18, 2010
Thank you! :hug: Oh, I hope my writing's changing that way, I've always wanted to write gritty fiction! :heart: (Sometimes I fear that I stray too far towards candyfloss! ;)) Maybe I can write gritty candyfloss...

You don't need to apologize for not commenting earlier, I know you've been busy. Besides, you're my original reader - if you hadn't encouraged me at the beginning, I probably wouldn't have written more than five chapters of this story! (So it's all your fault! ;) :giggle:)
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SamanthaLenore Featured By Owner Oct 19, 2010  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Aww, thanks. I'm glad I could encourage you to keep on with something so amazing.
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thesonge Featured By Owner Oct 18, 2010
Brilliant Cold Comfort Farm reference :D

And I'm so glad that Sev finally managed to get the Liberus Charm to work - and that Lily still wants to be with him!
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:iconls269:
ls269 Featured By Owner Oct 18, 2010
Oh, you mean: "Is this what you're after?" she asked, holding it at bosom-height.

You know I think I wrote that without realizing it! Cold Comfort Farm has brain-washed me! ;) :giggle:
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FlameoftheWest7 Featured By Owner Oct 17, 2010
My dear, these recent Lucius/Narcissa plot developments have made for the most exciting HP fanfiction I've experienced since the prolific pre-Deathly Hallows years! I LOVE what you are doing with Lucius' quest and I am keenly anticipating the next installment. Magi was fascinating--what a great character! She is such a beastly nightcrawler but is devious and unpredictable enough that even Malfoy is on edge. The dramatic tension was really palpable in those last few paragraphs! I love Lucius' sense of revulsion in these slovenly environments, and his surprise when he realized the coronet shone with more brilliancy and purity among the refuse.

His thoughts of Narcissa are becoming (appropriately) more worshipful as he matures and is increasingly disgusted with the world. This bit was great:

He could watch a filthy, gawping muggle-born schoolboy boarding the Hogwarts Express with barely a sneer, if he knew he could go home to those biting ice-crystals.

I love the adamantine strength of the bond between them. The attraction, shared history, common goals, and mutual admiration are only the beginning--I think that for each of them, the sense of entitlement and superiority has been so strong for so long, that when at long last they found another person worthy of equal respect, any time spent outside of each other's company was an exercise in frustration :) I love this couple!! Thank you for writing them so well!!!
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:iconls269:
ls269 Featured By Owner Oct 18, 2010
Yay, thank you, I'm so happy to hear that you liked this one! :) :hug: (You know the Narcissa and Lucius chapters are written predominantly for you!) I love the idea that their snobbery fuses them together, because they can't endure the company of anyone less worthy. It's kind of love and narcissism at the same time. Who says narcissism is always a bad thing? ;) If it creates such a strong, exclusive bond between two people, it can't be all bad!
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:iconflameofthewest7:
FlameoftheWest7 Featured By Owner Oct 18, 2010
Haha, yes! And it makes them so fun to write. :) Lucius and Narcissa can get away with things I would never dare attempt, so it's highly diverting to channel them while imagining a story!
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:iconwearesevenstudios:
WeAreSevenStudios Featured By Owner Oct 17, 2010  Professional Artisan Crafter
Yay for pre-November plans! :D It's fantastic to see an unadulterated nice moment between these two. :love:

As to Lucius and Narcissa, I must admit I'm coming to admire Lucius even in his will-controlled states (which he seems to get himself into with fair frequency, as he did in the later books as well). The titled got a squee out of me. I really enjoy the way you write this couple.

Prudence didn't keep people awake in the middle of the night.
Malfoy words to live by, I think. ;)
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:iconls269:
ls269 Featured By Owner Oct 18, 2010
Thank you! :hug: I love writing about Narcissa and Lucius (for some reason, Knockturn Alley and the Malfoys seem really Victorian to me, so it was fun writing a Victorian 'den of iniquity', with lots of corsets, petticoats and bared ankles! ;))

It was fun writing an unadulterated nice moment between Sev and Lily too (heaven knows, they've earned it!) It's so unusual for Narcissa and Lucius to be the unfortunate couple in this story - usually, everything is so much easier for them than it is for Sev and Lily. I wonder if that means I'm letting go of my principles where this story is concerned... Oh, well, it was fun to write anyway! :)
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