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Common sense is the collection of prejudices acquired by age eighteen~ Albert Einstein
Wednesday, August 2, Afternoon

Sitting on the veranda, Lucius called the elf back to him, picking up the plate of scones the creature had set there moments before and chucking it back at him. "These have been baked to death," he said coldly, wondering if it wasn't time to weed out the creatures. "Return with fresh ones before your Mistress arrives."

The elf had barely disappeared when Lucius saw Narcissa exiting through the French doors. Rising to his feet, he stepped over to greet her with a brush of lips against her cheek. The pass few days were certainly reminiscent of their first week together when they were newly married and he found it more relaxing than he dared admit.
It would be much too embarrassing to owl Severus for some fresh healing salve, Narcissa decided before using what she had in stock. Having taken a long soak in the bath, Narcissa had finally dressed for the day and went to join Lucius on the veranda. She was loath to admit to him that she was a bit - sore from the vigorous homecoming as she had quite enjoyed it and looked forward to more of the same.

When he rose to kiss her cheek, Narcissa put an arm around his waist and leaned into him. "Good afternoon, darling," she purred softly before kissing him lightly on the mouth, another thing she would not have done before. The years without him by her side had taught her a painful lesson. When she wanted to - and as long as they were alone - she was going to touch him, kiss him - molest him whenever she wanted. And she wanted - therefore the arm dropped to his arse for a quick squeeze before moving away and toward the table.

"When I woke up, you were gone and I was afraid for a moment that it was merely a pleasant dream."
Lucius' brow arched lightly at his wife's forwardness; it was unlike her, or perhaps it was really like her and she'd withheld it for all those years. He decided he preferred this new attitude, especially since the long years apart had awakened a youthful randiness in him and for a moment contemplated the strength of the patio table.

"It was no dream, Cissa," he said softly, pulling out the chair for her and allowing his hand to graze over the soft swell of her bum as she sat. He kissed the side of her neck before returning to his own seat, a satisfied smirk on his face. "I sent the scones back and if the insufferable creature does return forthwith I believe I shall engage in a bit of sport tonight and we will be short one elf."
Narcissa smiled as he sat down, more than satisfied at his response. One eyebrow lifted as she mentally counted the number of elves in the household. Several could be spared, but she did hope it wasn't the one that managed to keep the flowers in the rear garden in order.

"If you do - please include Bella. She would enjoy it so. I'm afraid she's been - rather bored lately and a bored Bella is never good."
Pinching the bridge of his nose, Lucius reached for his tea with his free hand. Indeed, a bored Bella was...trouble. "Have you not settled your sister into some activity befitting a woman of her, ah, breeding?" he asked, knowing full well that the witch in question was beyond being satisfied with simple tasks. No doubt elf torture would garner a yawn from her.
The light trill of sound that was Narcissa's laugh echoed briefly off the walls behind them. Sending Lucius a look from under her lashes, Narcissa reached for her own cup of tea and glanced at the elf bringing the fresh scones.

"My sister has always formed her own standards, Lucius, as have I to some degree. According to the dictates of those before us - I should be embroidering dainty little cozies to cover the furniture and keep the various charities fully stocked. Can you imagine either of us doing those sorts of 'activities'?"

Leaning forward slightly she brushed her thumb over his lower lip.

"And the wife was supposed to meekly submit to her husband at all times and never, ever enjoy the experience if I recall correctly," she advised in a mock schoolmarm voice with a heavy dose of sarcasm. "Not acceptable at all."
"I would have Bella embroidering cozies, darling, not you," he drawled, nipping at the soft pad of her thumb, catching her hand and drawing her wrist to his mouth, breathing in the soft scent of her perfume. "You said she was bored, Cissa, and I'm afraid the activities that would interest her would bring the authorities down on her" Our "head. Unless she has changed greatly."

And I will bet my manhood she hasn't changed that much

He paused in his soft caress of her wrist, his eyes growing smoky with amusement. "Whomever suggested a woman should not enjoy a man in her bed was no doubt cursed with someone with less than acceptable appendage."

Now might be the time to bring up a little something that might 'interest' him.

"Poor mother, she never did look very happy," Narcissa said with a smirk, in no hurry to have her hand back. She was sure after he'd been 'home' for a time, the attentions might start to slow down.

I'll have to make sure they don't, she decided with a wicked little gleam in her eye.

"There is an area where we might help in keeping her amused. She seems to be under the impression that the Dark Lord has taken up residence in Mr. Potter. As far as I know, she's not positive yet, but it might provide a few hours of amusement to help her confirm or disprove it."
"Potter? The Dark Lord?" Lucius laughed dryly, picking up a fresh scone with his free hand. "That is truly rich and only your insa..sister would come up with such rot."

He released her wrist and broke open the scone, looking thoughtful. "There were those that believed that Potter was the new Dark Lord when he survived as a child." A wicked smile grew on his face. It might be fun indeed to encourage Bella in this line of thinking.
A tray had been brought to her at teatime, but Bellatrix had sent the elf away with a glance.

Though she was late, she would venture out of the dungeons for her tea this day. A charitable viewer might even think cords of familial feeling drew her forth.

In any matter, Bellatrix stepped onto the veranda and inclined her head in greeting. She sat, and dangled a black velvet pouch in the air before setting it by Lucius' cup.

"For you, dear brother-in-law."

A former colleague, a jeweler, had set Croaker's eye, properly charmed, into a ring.

It was said there were doors in the Department of Mysteries that only an Unspeakable's eyes could see. Should Lucius ever decide to revisit the ninth level of the Ministry of Magic, perhaps with Croaker's help things would fare a touch differently.
"Bella, how pleasant that you have decided to join us," Lucius said, his eyes sliding over to his wife's, their conversation playing foremost in his thoughts. His gaze moved to the velvet pouch and his brow lifted ever so slightly. A gift from Bella could be anything from a bag of scorpions to a vial of poison.

He picked up the bag carefully, offering his sister-in-law a polite smile as he opened it, shaking out a ring into his hand. A carefully schooled expression settled on his features as the eye looked up at him. "How very...interesting."

His fingers itched to draw his wand, to cast the spells that would reveal what properties such a gift was imbued with for he had little doubt that there were some.
"Its original owner would have been beyond delighted to be at this table, once."

Malfoy Manor, after all, could be even more impenetrable than many of the Ministry's Mysteries.

"How sad that he no longer is in the position to appreciate the honors done him."

Bellatrix watched an elf pour a measure of milk into her teacup. It quivered, but the china did not rattle. They had learned.
If Narcissa though the gift - bizarre in any way, shape or form, she kept it to herself as she sipped from her cup.

"How thoughtful of you, Bella. I'm sure Lucius will treasure it."

I wonder what she did with the hand and the ear missing from the corpse?

Souvenirs for herself?

"Does it need any special 'care'?"
It is a talisman to last the ages, not a pet to be fed and watered. There was only one of those she would ever think of bringing into this home, and it as of yet remained outide of her grasp.

"No indeed. Lucius may ignore it or use it as he sees fit. It is but a simple gift — if finely crafted — with no further obligations attached."
Nothing was simple when it came to Bella, at least from what he knew about the witch. He supposed he should be cautious to where she'd gotten the 'adornment'. "It is appreciated, Bella," he said simply, replacing the ring into the pouch, waiting for further investigation of its properties until he was alone.
With the exception of Draco not living at home any longer, Narcissa was currently quite happy with the living arrangements. Taking a sip of tea, she reached for one of the fresh scones on the table.

"What shall we do today?" she asked the pair with the light of mischief in her eyes. "A stroll down Diagon Alley to let everyone know our family is complete again?"
They'd had too long to think they'd triumphed, after all. The Mudbloods and their friends.

Was it gloating, to want to show them all that all their efforts had been in vain? So be it. They could look, and perhaps the knowledge that their current debased mode of life could yet be corrected would seep into skulls.

"I do feel a bit restless; a constitutional sounds delightful."
He considered the women for a moment, having no desire to go amongst the commoners that inhabited the alley, yet it would be amusing to watch their faces when they saw the pureblood family, those they thought were out of sight and out of mind, for awhile.

"I believe your suggestion has merit, Narcissa," he said slyly. "I would be honored to accompany two beautiful, witches on an outing."
Narcissa didn't try to hide the pleased smirk on her face while they were strolling down Diagon alley. One hand was holding onto the arm of her husband and the other was clutching a small purse. The reactions from the shopkeepers alone had been worth the time it had taken to change for their outing. The new items she'd purchased had been nice, but the sweet, sweet amazement and sometimes horror on the faces of those that saw them fed the smirk. Looking first at Lucius and then over at Bella, Narcissa almost beamed.

"Isn't it a wonderful day?"

We've spoiled it for so many others, it's simply magnificent.
"Most acceptable," Lucius remarked, a smug superior smirk on his face that matched his wife's as the simpering fools gaped openly at the small entourage. Fools, did they think they could keep his family down?

The streets were crowded, many families out doing the preparatory school shopping evident, and he reminisced fondly of the first time he'd taken Draco into the shops to prepare him for Hogwarts, not that the school had proven fitting for his only son.

"Shall we stop of repast at the dismal excuse for a eating establish or are you quite fed by the looks we are receiving, my dear?"
Not all of the rabble were fools. Some few — too few, but they would be joined by others in time — tipped their hats from the shadows, discretely. A shopkeeper or two had eyes that gleamed from more than mere avarice when they entered certain places of business.

It was heartening to see some commoners still valued their betters; Bellatrix noted each face.

"Does such a place deserve our custom?"

Mayhaps however their presence there would turn other would-be diners away and thus discomfit the proprietors. Also an acceptable eventuality.
Unwilling to cut their outing short, Narcissa considered and then nodded.

"Today of all days, would be a good one to impart to all that there are no constraints on our persons."

Giving a gentle hug to Lucius' arm she added, "Besides, after my feet rest a little - I'd like to visit a lot more shops and see if we might run into any of our old 'acquaintances'."

Looking over at the Quidditch Supply Shoppe, she asked, "Wouldn't you like a new broom, darling? I'm not quite sure where any of your old ones are and I'm sure they've come out with several new ones that might take your fancy."
Lucius was in good humor and nodded in ascent to Narcissa's suggestion. Every shop in Diagon would be aware of their presence before the afternoon was finished and his accounts much lighter.

"There is no harm in looking," he agreed, holding the door open for the women, a devious smile curling his lips when many in the crowded shop stared and began whispering amongst themselves.
Nervous mothers herded their children out of their way.

Bellatrix, having no interest in Quidditch herself and not wanting to relive what she remembered of Rodolphus' playing days, stood aloof near the door of the shop, arcing an eyebrow at those who murmured to each other. Soon the shop was quiet, but it did not empty out completely — to leave, the timid would have to step right in front of her, and Apparating out was not allowed to prevent shoplifters.

Narcissa was right. This was amusing.