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Lucius Malfoy was stuck.

He had first noticed her a year ago at a dinner party at the Blacks’ home. The Malfoys and Blacks had socialized in close company since before Lucius had been born, but his mother had not begun to impress the seriousness of choosing a bride upon him until his fourth year at Hogwarts. Suddenly, the quiet, delicate youngest daughter of Cygnus and Druella, who often shyly chose the safety of sitting between her older sisters at dinner, became quite salient to him.

Narcissa was perfect. Unlike many of the other Slytherin girls, she didn’t babble on about celebrities over her morning toast, nor did she seem to be overly concerned with her makeup and clothing. In fact, he was half convinced that she just woke up with her mascara on and her hair impeccably coiffed and rolled out of bed in the morning, because he had never once caught her slipping into the ladies’ room between classes to adjust her uniform or re-apply her lipstick. She seemed to do well in classes, or at least she didn’t complain about her grades openly. She kept company with the right sort of people, but she also spent enough time alone that he felt confident that they would have lots of time to themselves once she finally woke up and decided that she wanted to be his girlfriend. From what he could tell, she didn’t eat too much or sleep too much, and what he could see of her well-dressed physique was attractive to him. In sum, she met every one of his mother’s qualifications for a future bride, and he found her tolerable at the very worst.

They were meant to be. So why in the world was she being so difficult about the whole thing?

He had continued to watch her at Hogwarts, and for several months now, he had been trying everything he could think of in an attempt to win her affections. He had taken her to Hogsmeade, even suffering through the pink hell that was Madam Puddifoot’s, but his constant talk of his father’s business associates seemed to bore her. He had brewed a perfectly good batch of Amortentia, but unfortunately Slughorn had smelled it inside his robes on the way out of class and confiscated it from him. He had even asked Bellatrix to put in a good word for him, but she reported that Narcissa never seemed interested in talking about boys, most likely because of the value she placed upon her own modesty.

Lucius ran a hand through his short blonde hair, looking down at his half-finished Charms essay. In all his thinking about Narcissa, he had forgotten about the Slug Club meeting he had in an hour, and he absently wondered if he could convince Severus Snape to complete the essay for him if he ran out of time. He became distracted momentarily by the thought that the new broomstick his father had promised to send him was at least a day late in arriving. He was still considering this with a frown when a group of the aforementioned babbling girls, Narcissa not among them, entered the common room noisily. He looked up, annoyed by their pointless chatter, and saw that they were fawning over an issue of Witch Weekly. He heard one of them mention someone named Stubby Boardman with a high-pitched giggle.

What a ludicrous name, he thought to himself, turning back to his essay. Still, it seemed familiar. Where had he heard it before? Ah, of course – another evening at the Blacks’. Andromeda, Narcissa’s other sibling, had been talking about a wizarding band called the Hobgoblins that had recently come out with a new record. He remembered Bellatrix trying to look like she wasn’t paying attention while concealing a girlish smile, and Narcissa had asked Andromeda if they could listen to it once she purchased a copy. As he later gleaned from trite dinner conversation, Stubby Boardman was the lead singer of the group, and he was quite good-looking and talented.

He put the essay down. Snape would definitely have to take care of it at this point.

Once, after another unsuccessful date, Lucius had done the gentlemanly thing and offered to walk Narcissa up the stairs to her room. Though she asked him to pause at the door, he had clearly seen a large poster featuring a slender wizard with long blonde hair on her wall. He remembered it for a while afterward, having felt offended at the way the man had waggled his eyebrows at him suggestively, and it came back to him again now.

Stubby bloody Boardman.

He scratched an itch that erupted at the base of his neck, feeling the ends of his hair. It was beginning to get a bit long, and his mother would surely chastise him for not stopping in to get a haircut if he came home like this at Christmastime. As he considered the many potions he’d seen for sale at the shop, however, his mother’s anger faded to the back of his mind. The brightly colored bottles advertised growth formula, strengthening solution, permanence potion for color-treated locks, curling concoction, and much more. Surely, through some combination of these products of modern magic, he, too, could look as ridiculous and yet somehow attractive as one Stubby Boardman.

He made a note to look into a proper hat to cover up the ragged ends of his hair for the holidays, and then he hurried down the corridor, already late for Slug Club but smiling broadly anyway.

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