Title: ‘till the windmills answer
Summary: “You could be right there,” he says, reaching out impulsively to brush a stray tendril of hair behind her ear. “But you know, it could have been worse – it could always be worse. I mean, it could be raining.”
Characters/Pairing(s): Narcissa Black/Rabastan Lestrange, background Lucius/Narcissa.
Word Count: 1663
Disclaimer: None of these people are mine: anybody with a name you recognize belongs to the incomparable J.K. Rowling. The title comes from the Coldplay song “Don Quixote.”
A/N: Prompt used was “a kiss in the rain.” Written for sirmioneforever in the rarepair_shorts 2014 Summer Wishlist Event. I hope you like it, doll! :)
It is the spring of 1972 and there is an unmistakable roll of thunder crackling overhead as Rabastan makes his way down the high road from Hogwarts, collar turned up against the sudden chill in the air. Hogsmeade is busy today, busier than usual for the last day of Easter break, and he sidesteps a group of third-year Hufflepuffs outside the sweetshop as he mentally runs through the list of purchases he needs to make today – new quills, fresh parchment, three scoops of beetle eyes and a new Rune dictionary. It is good to be outdoors, even if the weather leaves something to be desired; he left his half-finished NEWT practicals spread out over a table in the Slytherin Common Room and Rabastan shudders as a cold wind rips through him, thinking of the hours he’s spent studying when a voice rings out from a ways down the road, clear as a bell and calling after him to stop.
“Rab!” There’s a hand waving, the hem of a cloak fluttering out in the breeze. “Rab!”
He turns, squinting as the distant figure shouts, and when he finally sees who could possibly be chasing after him all his other plans for the afternoon immediately disappear: Narcissa Black does not share her time with petty errands, forced camaraderie. When she approaches, smiling wider than he’s seen in ages, Rabastan knows that his day is now hers and honestly, he doesn’t mind the shift in plans. She hugs him deliberately, her body a quick, gentle press against his, but it is done with a casual familiarity he is unused to from her; Narcissa is not generous with her affection, and it is rare that she is so open with it in public, common as a Muggle as she links their arms at the elbows, steers him down the high street toward the Three Broomsticks so that he can buy her a drink. He’d heard what happened to her sister over the holidays; he’d like to think that at the heart of all that trouble, she missed his company the most.
“Good Easter?” he asks, and she stiffens beside him, only slightly.
“Same as every other,” is her impassive response, and Rabastan’s eyes search hers for the truth; Narcissa’s gaze is steady and blue, he is the one who looks away first.
“Mother dragged us to church,” she continues, leaning into him as they walk, “Hours of confession, you know, and then a dreadful luncheon with the Witches’ Auxiliary. Bella spent the whole time in a snit – I thought she was going to hex the waiter’s eyes out when he brought her a garden salad instead of a Caesar.”
Rabastan nods. “My brother mentioned something along those lines. She’s – well, we’ve always known that Bellatrix can be a bit of a handful.”
“I don’t think ‘handful’ is the right term – in this case, I think ‘shrieking harpy’ might be a better fit.”
He laughs and they slow to a stop. “You could be right there,” he says, reaching out impulsively to brush a stray tendril of hair behind her ear. “But you know, it could have been worse – it could always be worse. I mean, it could be raining.”
Lighting cracks somewhere overhead and the sky seems to open up above them; water pours hard and fast over their heads and they are both struck dumb by it, at first. Rain splashes over his glasses as Rabastan tips his head back, and in his peripheral vision he can see Narcissa do the same; the line of her neck is long and smooth, white as alabaster. There are pearls at her throat – a gift, he remembers idly, from his mother two Christmases ago – and her sweater is a green cashmere that darkens as the raindrops splatter across it.
As far back as Rabastan can remember, Narcissa Black has always been there. When they were children their families used to summer together: long, drowsy weekends in the Lake District, months spent in old family villas in Lourdes and Delphi, Rome and Ravello. There were always parties, then, hosted by their parents in grand ballrooms, spilling out into smoky parlors and exquisitely landscaped gardens, but it was always the handful of them who had the true run of the kitchens in the end: the house-elves knew them by sight, eagerly set up trays of sandwiches and canapés that could be spirited away at a moment’s notice. Those summers together were real magic, Rabastan is sure of it: Rolph and Bella in the lead, lifting champagne in slim flutes from levitating trays as they cut through the ballroom and always smelling like smoke, like trouble; Cissa and her vanity mirror, her ceaseless chatter, curling up in cramped attic spaces with Rabastan as they delved through old trunks, winter wardrobes, dusty love letters long forgotten in desk drawers. Her cousins were always there – tiny Reg and rowdy Sirius – the two of them always underfoot, scraping about like little street urchins at the end of it all, and Andie, oh, Andie, their Pallas Andromeda rising above it all, always tucked away in corners with books from her Muggle-loving uncle – it hurt to think of her now, after what happened.
The rain drenches them both in seconds and he doesn’t know where he leads her, only that Narcissa’s hand is small and cool in his as Rabastan pulls her under Pottage’s empty awning, the two of them already soaked straight through to the skin in the half-minute it took to run to the shelter outside the cauldron shop. Rabastan fumbles for his wand, trying to remember the proper movements for a Drying Charm, while lightning flashes over their heads and thunder rumbles over every roof and road. The day has turned too dark too quickly, the road around them has emptied: everyone else has gone back to the castle, has fled to safety indoors. They could be the only people left in the world.
“He asked me,” she says, quiet and sudden, pulling him back to reality, and Rabastan lowers his wand. He is still holding her hand as she lifts it to his line of sight, an ornate silver band resting heavy on her ring finger. “After ‘Dromeda – I mean, before we left London. Lucius asked me.” She breathes in sharply, a quick inhale, and then: “I said yes.”
“Cissa,” he says, his free hand falling to rest firm at the bend of her waist. Rain is still pouring down in sheets around them, falling steady and hard to the muddy road they’ve escaped from. His mother’s pearls are at her neck and Lucius Malfoy’s ring is on her finger and the rain has plastered her hair to her head, their wet clothes dripping onto the wooden slats of the porch, and all he can think of is the rainy summer they were fourteen, the year Rodolphus and Bellatrix announced their engagement; he thinks of a lazy afternoon drinking gin out of teacups on the divan in her mother’s drawing room and listening to Bella read out sections from Struggles of the Blood. He’d wanted to kiss her then, the bitter taste of evergreen filling up his mouth until he couldn’t take it, Narcissa’s profile beside him nothing more than shadows and embers in the light from the dying hearth. There is so little distance between them now that with the way they’re standing, he and Narcissa are the same height – eye to eye, mouth to mouth. He tries not to think about it and fails, because here is the truth: when he looks at her he thinks of long days laid out in tall grass, of night skies lit with stars and wandsparks, of drawing room windows thrown open wide enough that the breeze set their long white curtains waving. He looks at her and thinks of summer storms.
His eyes flick down to her mouth as Narcissa starts to speak and he moves before she can, slanting his mouth over hers and there is surprise there, he thinks, surprise and fear and a little bit of wanting, too, as she grasps the front of his shirt in her trembling hands. He drops his wand and sparks fly out, he holds her face between his palms and kisses her hard and deep. Narcissa is motionless before him: unmoving even as she returns the kiss, her teeth sharp against his bottom lip. She tastes like something dark and sweet and Rabastan knows that this is the last time, the only time – there will never be another moment like this between them again.
He’s breathing hard when they part, hands still cradling her face, and Rabastan rubs his thumbs over her cheekbones, brushing away what might be tears, what might be rain, as Narcissa smoothes out his robes, carefully avoiding his eyes. “What I wanted to say,” she starts, a distinct quaver in her voice, “Was that Lucius would like you to be a groomsman. He wants to strengthen the bond between our families, you know, especially after – after what happened with Andromeda.”
Narcissa swallows hard and steps back, Rabastan’s hands falling back to his sides as she does so. Rain still patters heavily against the roof as retrieves his wand from the ground and casts a quick Drying Charm over the both of them, transfigures an errant piece of wood into an umbrella they can share. Narcissa looks every inch the proper witch when he’s finished: her clothing neat and pressed, hardly a hair out of place as she joins him under the umbrella and walks back out onto the street. He might as well have imagined it all.
“I’d love to be there,” he tells her outside the Three Broomsticks, “I’d be honored to be a part of it, Cissa, I mean it, really,” and Narcissa gives his arm a gentle squeeze, graces him with a small, sad smile as he opens the tavern door and lets her lead the way inside.