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People look at them when they go places. People shout questions at him, at Ron. They don't shout them at Narcissa anymore. Not after what Ron did to the last reporter who tried. Not after Ron walked away from the mess, gait cavalier, expression equally so.

Viktor sometimes worries that the destruction of the last horcrux left damage nobody ever found in Ron. Sometimes, but mostly not, because what nobody but he and Narcissa saw was the way Ron moped after that, drank the entire bottle of Narcissa's good gin and then choked on his own words trying to apologize.

Narcissa had taken the empty bottle before he could break it in his fingers and said, "More where that came from, darling."

Sometimes Viktor worries that Narcissa thinks Ron stays with them for their money.

Ron wakes up the next morning, sicks up, and asks, "She do that thing where she pretends like she's too old for us?"

"Maybe like we're too young for her." Viktor's smile is gentle, and only slightly ironic.

"I shouldn't have--"

Viktor puts his hand over Ron's mouth, because he did, and Viktor is pretty sure he would have done something if Ron hadn't. It is not that Narcissa cannot defend herself--she has a particular way with rune-based curses--but rather that she often chooses not to. The loss of her husband and son and even sister has left her somewhat adrift--guilty and powerless all at once.

They are unlikely people for her defenders. They are unlikely people for her lovers. But Ron, as much so as Harry, has a thing for saving people, and Viktor has rarely met anyone so in need of saving as Narcissa was that first time they caught her watching. It was in the hall of the Ministry, minutes after Snape had been cleared of charges. A quick congratulatory kiss from Viktor to Ron, a quick recognition of all his years aiding in the post-war cleanup. Nothing more.

She had been standing with Snape, and Viktor had felt the cool slide of her stare. When he'd broken off to look back, Ron was already locking gazes, and she was already looking away.

She never looked away for long.

It was Ron who finally challenged her, finally walked across the room at Minerva McGonagall's retirement party and asked, "See something you like?"

To this day, Viktor is surprised she left off of subtlety long enough to say, "Yes."

To this day, Viktor is surprised Ron left off of possessiveness and prudishness long enough to say, "Oh."

Narcissa is a gorgeous woman, and Viktor, although not much of an opportunist, knew better than to turn chance away when it came begging for a moment of his time. They let her watch.

In the morning, Viktor found her in the kitchen with the paring knife halfway along her wrist, the red garish along her long, pale forearm. He said, "That's. . .Muggle of you."

She said, "Charmed not to hurt. Death curses are so very hard to perform on one's self."

Ron padded in behind Viktor, took the knife from her, ran her arm under the tap and said, "Grab the epistitch potion from the cabinet, would you?"

She said, "I knew I should have magically induced sleep."

Ron said, "But you didn't."

They kept her for the day while the wound healed, and then the day after that when she was more than better enough to take to bed and enjoy. After that they kept her indefinitely until the day when Viktor asked, "Why did you--" and she cut him off with, "I thought I wanted something I couldn't have."

"Try to kill yourself every time you don't get your way?" Ron asked.

Quietly, she said, "No, that's a recent habit."

Ron makes it up to her by defending her to reporters who want to pry into their deviance--their cross-generational, bisexual, polyamorous deviance--because he is bad at just saying, "sorry."

Then again, Viktor knows, so is she.

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Skin by egelantier, photo by microbophile