Characters: Lucius Malfoy, Narcissa Malfoy, Draco Malfoy, Severus Snape, implied others
Warnings (highlight to view): For implied non-con and murder.
Word Count: 2570
Summary: Of what was done to Lucius Malfoy in Azkaban, he would not speak, not even obliquely.
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, the_flic and Shog, for beta'ing.
Of what was done to Lucius Malfoy in Azkaban, he would not speak, not even obliquely. It was not a subject to cross the lips of any man, let alone a gentleman, and whatever else he was, whatever he'd become, during that dark sojourn, Lucius resolved to remain gentle for his lady and to his son. For Narcissa and Draco, he would feign the necessary social forms; to the world, appear haughty, remote: this was not such a great change, for there had always been that within Lucius which could only be called hard. Glimpses of his core, several people had seen them, but the diamond centre of his being was something only the dying had witnessed; Lucius had retreated into that place of blinding white light as he'd stood over their bodies, and felt nothing.
That filled space was where he'd spent most of his time in Azkaban, cracking shards from his essence to record in invisible runes the names of those for whom doom would fall by his hand.
Indeed, he'd thought to seek their pain, their fear, their awe, but, sitting in Narcissa's rose garden and reflecting upon the anniversary of the Dark Lord's defeat, he found himself desirous of merely removing from existence those excrescences who had plagued him. Quickly. Cleanly. Yes, and with no mark left upon their bodies to explain their deaths.
Lucius' eyes glittered, more glass than steel, as he remembered the reason for his hatred.
He sipped from his teacup and allowed a more human light to shine upon Narcissa as he gazed at her, willing himself to favour her with a tight smile.
"The Parkinsons are . . . enthusiastic about the ball, rather too enthusiastic."
Lucius set his teacup in its saucer and raised an eyebrow. This indicated to those familiar with his expressions that he was amused, and it had only been the work of a few days' consistent practise to again perfect.
"Draco doesn't love Pansy."
Narcissa blinked. "Are you saying that we shouldn't move forward with the negotiations? After all the work—"
"I say only that which is true," Lucius replied gravely, cursing himself for his over-formality. He leaned forward, reached out a hand to take one of Narcissa's, and murmured, "They must come to the ball, but they may not take my . . . our son's name or fortune if Draco doesn't want their daughter." He squeezed Narcissa's hand. "Do you disagree?"
Slowly, Narcissa withdrew her hand from his, her visage smoothing into a mask as alarming in its blankness as had been the one Lucius had once worn.
Only I set mine aside, and she—
"I'll speak to Draco. He's . . . been spending time with the Lovegood girl."
Lucius actually smiled at that. "So many happy thoughts," he murmured, neglecting to hold Narcissa's gaze.
When he raised his eyes to seek hers again, she was gone.
The night of Lucius' return to Malfoy Manor after his escape from Azkaban, he'd taken Narcissa with an unforgivable harshness. She wouldn't have said as much, but then, his wife had been bred to please. Lucius knew what he'd done, however, and it pained him, even if he had needed . . . . He'd needed to . . . .
I simply needed.
Months passed, but Lucius didn't touch Narcissa. The act of "homecoming" to which he'd treated her would not be repeated, no matter his wife's entreaties.
Black family pride—it must have stung when she begged for my touch and I refused her, Lucius realised. No wonder she wears the mask.
He doubted very much that he'd ever be forgiven for his rejection of her.
Narcissa's source of strength was ill-defined in Lucius' mind, but he felt more than knew that it was formed tall, unhealthily thin, and dark-haired.
Lucius refused to think of avenging his wife's honour. For one thing, Severus had not taken it from her, of that, he was certain; for another, his protégé had spent his own time in hell.
And any man who can survive such a place might take what he may.
His thought was odd, but Lucius didn't begrudge it. It was what he felt, one glinting shard of feeling wrapped with words and reminiscences. It was enough to spare Severus.
"—didn't even come to see us, after, not for months! She didn't return my letters. She didn't—"
Sighing, Lucius turned a well-practised, stern gaze upon Draco. "That's all very well," he said, affecting near-boredom, "but what has it to do with your feelings for Miss Parkinson? Do you want her, or not?"
Draco appeared almost stricken, as he had for some time in Lucius' presence, and he didn't speak.
"It's your decision. Marry her. Don't marry her. It's your life to lead."
With those words, Lucius left his son standing near the hearth, looking so pale that, were it not for his dark robes, he could have been mistaken as a feature of the marble.
A masked wife. A statue for a son. You bastard. What have you done to your family?
The repressed rage within him slithered and shone, almost obscuring his inner clarity, but he regained his control quickly enough after a brief lapse—he'd never enjoyed those paintings in the East Wing in any case.
The canvases bled paint, and the house elves could not be consoled.
Narcissa went to stay with her sister; Draco, with the Lovegoods.
Lucius finally permitted himself to wear his true smile, and, shortly thereafter, paid his first "call."
It was reported that the Aurors had found skin, and something writhing within it. The man, for even an empty shell of skin and hair might be called a man, had been liquefied and "eaten." There were no marks, and the horrifying prospect of the "serpent" had not been realised upon further examination of the remains.
Lucius was dissatisfied. Quick it had been, but had it been truly clean? He'd spent too many hours, perhaps, perusing old tomes, ones that the meddling Arthur Weasley had never found, ones of whose existence a man like that could never have conceived.
My creativity implies a level of involvement in this process that is . . . unseemly.
Still, the hex was so old as to be untraceable, and Lucius had grandchildren—or would have, eventually—to consider. Nothing he did could ill-reflect upon the Malfoy name.
Yes, by his accounting, the "numbers" would all be nothing soon enough, but it was time to pay his respects to his wife.
"Andy" was obviously not pleased to see him, but Narcissa's mask was gracious and only a tad chill, and it did Lucius good to see her, however she elected to present herself to him.
Jewellery, several intimate dinners, and kisses that did not feel like promises—at least, not to Lucius—these gifts led Narcissa back to his bed.
He could sense Severus' touch upon her skin but did not recoil from it. He'd learnt early in life not to do so childish a thing.
Azkaban. . . . One's down. Six more will be put down. It will be done.
Draco refused to bring Luna home. He insisted that they meet at a London establishment. Narcissa was wiping away tears even as they entered the private dining room. By chance, Two happened across Lucius' path as he excused himself later that evening. Two had been, apparently, dining with Five, and it was the work of seconds, persuading them to seek out a quiet room to "reminisce."
From the animated, veritably unstrained conversation flowing freely across the table upon his return, Lucius could almost believe that he'd not been missed.
Upon the following morning, no one failed to notice the "work of Dark magic" that Lucius' research had come to be called.
When Narcissa read the story aloud from the Prophet, Lucius appeared properly horrified.
He'd been practising the expression for just such an occasion, and the emotion behind it was not quite as remote as once it had been.
Narcissa's pregnancy almost ended Lucius' process, but the Healer who attended her during her early examinations was the brother of Seven, and the resemblance was remarkable. Given how nervous Narcissa had always been in pregnancy—and with her past difficulties, Lucius couldn't blame her for feeling as she did—it was a simple matter to persuade her to see another Healer, a female one, from a family entirely unfamiliar to them.
All Lucius asked for was competence and a pleasing, soothing manner from the Chang woman; he was not disappointed.
He laughed when Narcissa took Miranda into her arms.
Lucius laughed, and then he briefly left his family to see to Three. The loss of those seven minutes of his daughter's young life was regrettable, but the process demanded alacrity: Severus was due to arrive, one month hence, and Lucius desired to be at his best.
And quite unpreoccupied.
"You're looking well."
From Severus, the words could have meant anything. Lucius nodded, repaying the man's circumspection in kind.
"Narcissa tells me—"
"What?" Lucius snapped, an emotion he couldn't quite define spilling like liquid light into those parts of his mind from which it needed shielding.
Taking a cue from Severus, he stoppered the wave of unbidden emotion, smiled, and shook his head.
"Forgive me. Miranda is a wakeful child, and I find myself not leaving her care entirely to the elves."
Only a slight quiver of one eyebrow served to betray Severus' surprise at this intelligence. But it was true, and Lucius wished Severus to understand his feeling because it was evidence of the undeniable: he and Narcissa couldn't be separated by a mere dalliance; they were parents again.
He was still lord of his manor, a husband to his wife, no matter the . . . guests she may have received in his absence.
Severus' next conversational gambit was disappointing; Lucius' old pupil, it seemed, had lost much of his subtlety by linking his fate to Potter's. They were clearly in each other's company too often.
"You've heard of the hexings, I trust?"
"Disturbing. Old magic. Not quite so old as love," and here, his voice took on a sharp, telling edge that Lucius couldn't like, not while in Severus' presence, no matter how dulled had become his wits, "but almost as difficult to combat, nonetheless. If such things were taught, even to a select few, we'd know how to manage the sort of . . . creatures who would dare employ such power in peacetime."
Lucius was almost certain that Severus had failed to see the signs of his performance. Almost.
"You're happy, then, with . . . your family. Content?"
Lucius' smile was blinding, he knew, as it spread over his countenance—a beacon of pride, of joy, of hope. "Family is everything. I have my wife, my son, my daughter—my life and those of my friends—how could I not be anything but ecstatic?"
He very nearly was, later that night after having excused himself from dinner for a time, when a bolt of champagne-coloured magic sizzled through Six in only forty-seven seconds.
Eternity in under a minute, Lucius thought, as he returned to his family and guest, somewhat on edge to realise that he could now define what he was feeling as fear.
Months passed, and the only sense of presence that lingered on his wife's skin was his own magical signature. To say that Narcissa had become accommodating would have been an understatement, but Lucius was too much the gentleman to consider her behaviour anything but.
And he liked her again.
His enjoyment of Narcissa was genuine, and their happiness, the result of his process.
Lucius' fierce practises had yielded a mask that even Severus couldn't penetrate, and Lucius knew it then: He was almost free.
Draco and his pregnant bride, Luna, had become frequent visitors. To see his son happy pleased Lucius. To know that Narcissa felt she knew her husband again brought Lucius peace.
To sense Mrs Draco Malfoy's eyes on him did give him pause, these bettering days, these days in which he didn't dwell within himself to watch the shrinking diamond of his rage glittering like a serpent's eye and hissing demands for the hollow sack of flesh that, by rights, Four should have been long ago.
Diamonds have an eternal quality about them, but Lucius refused to remain in thrall to his own inner gem. It would be done. He wanted a hole in his heart where his scarcely containable rage had lain for so long. He craved the emptiness of its absence, for in that free space, he could envision crafting a place of calm, a place in which he could nurture those necessary aspects of his will that had been abused by hands and teeth and—
Of what was done to Lucius Malfoy in Azkaban, he would not speak, not even obliquely.
Nor will I think upon it.
Four was so much soup.
Miranda was almost two-years-old when the attempted abduction occurred. No one blamed Mr Malfoy for his actions. They believed the man would live. A Squib, he was. Parents killed by Death Eaters. Apologies.
The words ran together in Lucius' mind until he was blinded by the light they made—a pure, crystalline light that led him away from the pleasures of his life to that vow, nearly broken, he'd made to himself. Vows made in Azkaban mattered; they were the tenuous, spider-silken skeins of strength that kept one bound to one's soul. Happy memories helped, but vows were better.
One broke them at one's peril.
Lucius was "needed at the Ministry" the evening after the inquest, and he promised Narcissa that he'd be careful.
He'd never understood why she bade him do so upon taking his leave of her; did she truly believe that he'd be careless?
He shook his head while fond thoughts almost overshadowed what remained of his rage and departed: the end was nigh, but not for him.
Four still stinks of it, Lucius thought, at once disregarding it.
He'd read enough to know that it was all in his mind, the pain, the fear, the helplessness—the sense memories. He could ignore them, remake his world and himself; that had been the goal of his process from its inception.
There were children in the house. Of this, Lucius was aware. They weren't his, however, and it was his children he'd come to protect.
The hex spilled inexorably towards the beast from his lips, thick, sticky, and writhing. It took shape, struck, and made astonishingly short work of the mongrel.
It was done.
So why can't I move?
He'd never been here, in this house, with these filthy people. That was the reason. He needn't leave a place he'd not actually entered, he told himself.
It was a trick of the mind, but it worked, even if it meant that Lucius consigned to embers the emanations of his guiding rage.
Oh, they might be tended, but Lucius would not be a servant to any useless emotion, not when he had a stronger one flourishing in his breast.
Thoughts of Narcissa led him home.
When he stepped into the shelter of his wife's arms and found that no effort on his part was required to be gentle with her, that was the moment he knew: he was once more Lucius Malfoy—proud, unassailable, and worthy of Narcissa Black.
As man and wife, they spoke together of everything that mattered, and all was well.
Later, alone in the post-coital peace of their bedchamber, Lucius' eyes glittered, more steel than glass, as he remembered the reason for his love.