Disclaimer: Not my characters. I haven't attempted much French, but I beg your pardon if the title is incorrect!
Summary: AU, set in 18th Century Paris - Already the people were edging further into the latter half of the century and things were beginning to shift, new angles and views were being drawn and idly remarked on. But slowly, very slowly. You could not rush discontent.
Then give me health, wealth, mirth, and wine,
And, if busy love entrenches,
There's a sweet, soft, page of mine
Does the trick worth forty wenches.
Paris, mid 1700s
A golden haze was settling comfortably over the city, soothing the doves into the eaves of warmly-lit buildings and slowly drawing the night creatures out of their daytime burrows. The streets of Paris were always alive, and as the traders packed up their wares and headed for home, street traders of a different nature took their place, circling lazily and chattering amongst one another like starlings.
Already the people were edging further into the latter half of the century and things were beginning to shift, new angles and views were being drawn and idly remarked on. But slowly, very slowly. You could not rush discontent.
The city was affluent, and for the moment it was a charming place for the aristocracy to play their meaningless games and live their sparkling lives. Below the smooth and delicious-looking upper crust dwelt social circles quite apart from those that skittered from theatre to restaurant to glittering soiree. In the sleazy cafes and back-street boarding houses, a particularly distasteful type met and laughed and kissed one another’s cheeks, whispering snatches of gossip before they pulled apart and sashayed onto the next.
Lucius Malfoy strode past these twittering crowds of mindless mollies, lip curling as several tried to catch his eye.
“A coin for a suck, sir,” they muttered to him in their coarse French. He simply sneered and brushed them aside when they drew too close.
Some were more smartly dressed, their cheeks delicately rouged and their eyelashes curled. They rarely opened their mouths, but their eyes that were layered like fondants spoke of warm sheets and warm thighs. Lucius ignored them all equally. He had a far more pressing engagement than some dolled up boy, almost turning twenty. They knew they were past his notice now, and they knew why they were on the street instead of behind the curtain that he went to that evening.
It was intolerably hot inside the establishment, and Lucius was immensely glad of his private box. He thought of the cramped rows of seats below him and smiled contentedly to himself. Not for a Malfoy.
He took his seat and thumbed through his program, immaculate black gloves sleek and expensive on the centime-dull grey paper. He glanced up as the lights were dimmed and the level of inane chatter quickly dropped to hushed whispers concealed behind elegant fans and crumpled programs. Lucius’ eyes flicked to the stage and as the curtains began their slow majestic rise he settled into his seat to watch.
A single figure clad in white danced out into the centre of the stage. Lucius heard a woman whispering in the next box, saying oh wasn’t she such a tall slender thing. He smirked and wondered idly that men would even bring their mistresses to the ballet, particularly to a place such as this. Most uncommon practise; employing the smallest of the boys and dressing them as girls, but then it did seem to bring in the money. The dancer stood perfectly still for a few seconds and then seemed to fall sideways, catching himself as he tilted and gracefully tossing his weight to the side, pirouetting and twirling neatly around, spinning faster and faster until he reached the centre once more and was joined at once by a troupe of dancers, swirling around him like a swerving drift of snowflakes.
Lucius watched with mild interest. The dancer who had first taken the stage was good, very good in fact, but plain. A sweet delicate face and a slim figure, but not what he wanted. He wouldn’t consider the others of course. They were mere support. Certainly not worthy of a Malfoy.
He watched the performance somewhat absently as it continued. Satisfactory, he thought to himself, but nothing more. Were it not for the fact that he believed in getting what he paid for he might have left, but then another figure took the stage and all thought of leaving was immediately flung out of his mind. The boy – girl? Lucius wasn’t even sure. He had silvery pale hair and he moved like smoke across the stage. The light caught his white skin and his shimmering hair and costume and made him appear no more solid than a ghost.
Lucius realised he was leaning forward over the balcony, straining to catch a glimpse of the boy’s face, but he moved so quickly, twisting and whirling in a haze of shifting fabric and swirling limbs and so pale. He was poise and control and yet utter wild freedom all in one heart-rendingly beautiful moment. Lucius caught himself and sat back into his seat, frowning slightly and straightening his cuffs, though his eyes never left the beautiful lithe figure on the stage.
Suddenly the boy’s movements slowed and he stood stock still in the centre of the stage, slowly drawing his right arm out to his side, fingers arranged just so, his left arm hooking up over his head, right knee bending and the other forming an angle to his body, toe pointing into the solid dark of the stage. He glanced up, silvery wisps falling out of his pale pointed face and eyes that looked directly at Lucius for a split second before they slid away and the boy was twirling, shifting and swirling and dancing away from him once more.
Lucius’ gloved fingers slowly uncurled from the edge of the balcony and he watched, emotionless, as the boy was joined by the original dancer and they whispered around one another, limbs twisting but never quite touching. They looked as if nothing in the world could possibly touch them. It wasn’t true of course, and soon the little snowflakes flurried onto the stage and circled the two dancers who stood motionless, gazing serenely at one another as the music drew to a close and the curtain fell in a slow dignified release.
“The boy, what’s his name?”
“The blond one? Sorry, he’s not for rent.”
“I’m sorry, I can’t have made myself clear.”
In such a society, men in dark cloaks with a jangling handful of gold command respect. Not to mention discretion.
“Follow me, sir.”
Lucius was led to a comfortable dressing room; of course, anybody with a handful of gold could not be expected to mingle with emaciated performers in dingy corridors.
“If you’ll just wait here, sir.”
The boy looked calm and detached when he padded softly into the room; one front in front of the other, toes pointing with each slow deliberate step. He was still in his stage costume, corset tightly fastened around his narrow chest, heavily darned ballet shoes still laced up over his ankles. His hair still seemed to shimmer in the faint light as he bobbed in a modest curtsey and walked slowly towards Lucius with his pointed nose held high.
Everything about him was points and angles. Sharp pointed features, thin jutting knees and elbows and ankles. Thin wrists and fingers and pale pinched skin. The boy was clearly starving.
“What is your name?” asked Lucius firmly.
“My name is my own, your grace,” replied the boy coolly, folding his hands neatly behind his back. There was a slight rough edge to his accent but clearly he had tried to disguise it.
Lucius smirked playfully. “I see. Well, may I trouble you for your age instead?”
The boy looked thoughtful for a moment. “I arrived seven years ago. They tell me I was five years old then.”
“How long have you been dancing?” said Lucius, closing his black silk fingers around the boy’s too-thin wrist and gently pulling him forwards.
“Since I came here,” he replied simply, allowing himself to be pulled onto Lucius’ lap and delicately arranging his skirts around his knees.
“Why do you dance?” Lucius pressed his lips against the boy’s pale neck. The wildness that had intermingled with his delicate grace when he danced was lost now that he was still, and Lucius longed to draw it out of him once more. To flush those pale cheeks and mark the beautiful skin.
“What else would I do, your grace?” The boy was deferential, allowing Lucius to take what he wanted, but his poise never faltered and he remained detached.
“And how often have you done this?” muttered Lucius, pulling the boy to him and coaxing him to wrap his slender legs around his waist. The boy paused before he whispered his answer against Lucius’ cheek.