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Title: The Words of Hestia Pitt
Author: iulia_linnea
Character: Lucius Malfoy
Rating: PG-13
Word Count: 1366
Summary: "Lucius knows that it is weakness to doubt himself, and so he does not doubt; he takes steps."
Warnings (Highlight to view): For character death and violence.
Disclaimer: This piece is based on characters and situations created and owned by J.K. Rowling; various publishers, including, but not limited to: Bloomsbury Books, Scholastic Books, Raincoast Books; and Warner Bros., Inc. No money is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended.
Author's Note: Thank you, eaivalefay, for beta'ing.

June, 1996

The device is so ancient that the runic representations carved into the silver basin have been worn down by frequent handling, but every Malfoy scion knows what they mean: power, and more than that, the power to forget and remember at will, for all Malfoys have had need, over the generations, to safeguard their secrets. Lucius Malfoy is typical of his bloodline, but the Pensieve is something more to him than a treasured heirloom, or a magical oubliette, as some of his forebears have made it; it is the means by which he will protect his sanity.

Lucius knows that it is weakness to doubt himself, and so he does not doubt; he takes steps.

Preparation, he thinks, is that greatest of virtues in preventing failure.

He knows that it would be one to disregard the counsel of Wiltshire's late haruspex, who had been the seventh daughter of a seventh daughter, she who had never borne false augury to him. No, the crone had served him well, and when she appeared before him in his garden as he strolled through it with Narcissa that morning, he was annoyed by the interruption, but he heeded her words.

"You will be bound by the bearded one, bound and held fast, bound and removed from your happiness, bound and removed from all hope," the witch had told him, laying one clawed hand across his wrist before hissing, "Bottle up your hope, boy, and be quick about it!"

Standing here in the private room of which Arthur Weasley remains pathetically unaware and cradling the evidence of his family's skill and greatness, he does regret the unpleasant scene which followed the exchange with Hestia Pitt.

It is rare that Narcissa puts a toe so far out of line, and I despise having had to chastise her. Such as she should not be made to cry. . . . But the crone has bred herself fertile offspring, and they, the same. "Let us hope that Pitt's children's children behave better than to provoke the next Mrs. Malfoy."

Still, Lucius finds the haruspex's words troubling, indeed. For if he should fail the Dark Lord in retrieving the prophesy . . . .

No, no—she did not say that I would fail, he considers. She implied only that Dumbledore would bind me. Should I be taken to Azkaban, it would only be a matter of time before I were freed.

It is galling for such a wealthy and noble man to contemplate himself being bested by a Mudblood-loving fool, but Lucius contents himself with the knowledge that his condition will be temporary, and prepares to survive his certain future circumstances. He has come to obey the counsel of a dead woman. He has come to "bottle" his hope.

Laying the Pensieve down on the pedestal in the center of the room, he draws his wand and calls forth his happiest memories.

The first is of his grandfather. Tapping his wand to his head, he draws out the diaphanous strand containing his thoughts and deposits it into the swirling mist of the basin before entering the memory and finding himself in Abraxas' study in the attics.

"Lucius, come tell me a story."

"A story, Grandfather?" his younger self asks, walking proudly toward the man who has fascinated him for longer than he can remember.

In this memory, Lucius is nine-years-old. He tells Abraxas the tale of the new bride who was lost on her wedding day during a game of hide-and-seek, her bones found years later in a chest with a lid that had been too heavy for her to lift.

"And what is the moral of this tale?" his grandfather asks.

Lucius' younger self represses a smile as he replies, "That Mudbloods think they're too clever by half—but they'll kill themselves off easily enough."

Abraxas laughs.

Even now, decades later, the sound of his grandfather's laughter makes Lucius feel such mirth, such joy, that he can barely contain himself, for Abraxas never laughed—not that he ever saw—not for anyone but him.

The feeling of power this knowledge gives him is like the veriest hope. It may just be the thread of happiness he will need to wind about himself as he waits in Azkaban. But before he emerges to select another, he watches his younger self light up at his grandfather's response.

"Easily enough, perhaps—but not fast enough, eh? You," the older wizard says, leaning down to punch the boy lightly on the arm, "will have to see what you can do to help them."

The second memory is of his first kill, which was done to complete the Rite of Marking when he was twenty-one-years-old and new to Lord Voldemort's circle. Lucius circles around the ring of Death Eaters and peers through the spaces in between their bodies to watch another hooded and masked figure, himself, crouching over the nude body of a Mudblood sow; her skin, pearlescent, suddenly erupts into a network of finely wrought, magical whip-marks, shallow enough to bleed beautifully, deep enough to drain her of her ill-given life. He revels with the younger man he was while they watch the sacrifice being passed from one Death Eater to another.

Narcissa, he knows, would not appreciate this memory, but it warms him as few others do.

"She won't look into the Pensieve," he tells himself, as he readies the device to receive another candidate for the preservation of his faculties.

The third memory is of the day Draco was born. Lucius watches his son emerge from between his wife's thighs and immediately begin to howl lustily.

His pride in his line is complete in this moment. He sees it in his twenty-six-year-old visage. I knew then. I knew that we would win, he thinks, drawing out once more. "I knew that my son would be strong."

It remains a heady thought. It creates in him a feeling of invincibility, and for a moment, Lucius thinks that Hestia Pitt deserved his wife's curse of death for misleading him.

But the reserve he practiced so assiduously for Abraxas returns, and he decides that what is most important is that he ensure his service to the Dark Lord continues.

"I must have all three," he says, and spends but half a minute extracting them from his mind.

He feels somewhat lessened by the activity. No, deflated, as if it's all gone flat, he tells himself. "I know what I am doing, but I wish that I could keep these memories—whatever they are—so that I might enjoy them."

He climbs the ninety-seven steps from his private sanctuary to the secreted door behind which lies his study and pauses, one hand on the knob, one hand holding his Pensieve.

Can I trust her?

Doubt. It is anathema to a Malfoy. It is a weakness. Lucius scruples not to feel it. Instead, he spells open the door to find his wife waiting for him. Narcissa's meekness gives him a triumphant thrill, and he smiles. She does not blame him for his earlier correction of her.

"I will do as you ask, my husband."

"Yes, there is no doubt that you will be permitted to visit me if, as the haruspex indicated, I am caught."

"You will not be caught!" Narcissa insists, her voice shrill.

"You disbelieve the woman who prophesied the very hour of our only son's birth after being so painfully correct about the moments of death for our other children?"

"Never speak of that, please," Narcissa asks faintly, the familiar expression of grief shining from her eyes to frame them with that vaguest hint of the madness to which her line is heir.

And because she has been understanding this day, Lucius, too, is generous; cupping the flawless porcelain of her face in his hands, which feels as smooth as the venerable metal of his Pensieve, he lies, "My heart, I was careless. Forgive me."

It is a command, so Lucius is not surprised when Narcissa does, any more than it did not surprise him that his wife would kill an old woman for her inadvertent insult to his person.

But Lucius does not admit to himself that he was and is surprised by the words of Hestia Pitt.