Lucius Malfoy And The Gift Of Mercy
So it was Lucius who'd saved his life, that day, Serverus thought. He remembered his glimpse of the werewolf in the underground chamber of the Whomping Willow, the way James had grabbed him not a moment too soon and dragged him out to safety. James had risked his life for Serverus because of the things Lucius had told him. Because of the guilt. Serverus recalled that it was at that point that the Marauders quit being the school bullies and started to become genuinely decent people not that Serverus would ever look at any of them the same way again. James had even become head boy.
Old ghosts, and the unspoken past finally coming to light. He stared across the table, in awe of the thin, silver-haired man who sat, quite at ease with himself, and delicately sipped the remainder of his wine, whetting his dry lips after the conclusion of his tale.
"Why did you join Voldemort?" Serverus asked, quietly.
"I wanted a better future for Draco," said Lucius. "I wanted a world where my son could be proud of himself, as a true-born wizard, I wanted a world where wizards would come to respect him immediately because of his name. I was mistaken in thinking Voldemort could provide it." He smirked, wryly. "I'm not completely infalliable, you know. I make mistakes, just like everyone else."
Serverus nodded, faintly.
"I gave too much to Draco, I think. I spoiled him. That was a mistake, too. Which is why I'm taking a firm hand with him now." He paused and Serverus thought, for a minute, that Lucius' perfectly austere facade was on the verge of cracking. There were lines in Lucius' face he hadn't noticed before, worn creases about the man's silver eyes.
"When are you going to let him out?" Serverus asked.
"When the Ministry believe he's ready to be released," said Lucius. "I hope you'll tell them that I don't want to travel to the Ministry again this week. I've had to listen to enough dirty talk about myself; how I've used my political ties to save Draco and Harry's skin. Rumours like that don't go down well they don't look good for our family. But, as you can clearly see, Serverus, I'm probably treating the two even more harshly here than they would be treated in a wizard jail."
He sighed. "This place is crawling with wizard spies and all types and once they realise the dragons are gone, I'm sure they'll be back. We just want to be left alone, Serverus."
This was it, Serverus realised. A sudden euphoria was rising in him he felt released, in some fashion, rid of the binds of the past. All too clearly he understood why it was he was here; what it was he had to do. Had James Potter felt this way too, as he ran through the grounds, searching for Serverus? This incredible need to give back, to show the world that he wasn't heartless.
The gift of mercy to help someone, without any selfish motive, in order that they might survive to help someone else.
Serverus swayed in his chair the revelation had hit him hard. Lucius looked up from his drink, curiously. "Are you alright, Serverus?" he asked.
"I'm fine," Serverus assured him, rising. "Listen, Lucius forget the Ministry. I'll sort out whatever needs to be sorted out with them. You aren't the only one with friends in high places. You can let Draco and Harry out of the basement I'll make sure they aren't harmed."
"..Serverus?" Lucius raised his eyebrows, the closest he'd come to yet to expressing surprise. "Are you sure you haven't drunk too much wine?"
"Look," said Serverus, "boys will be boys, right? I think they've been punished enough for what they did, and I doubt they'll do it again. We should be merciful we should show them that we're not too small-hearted to forgive."
"It was quite a strong wine.."
"I'm not drunk, Malfoy! Listen to me," Serverus said, his voice rising. "It's a gift, right? And maybe later, they'll be in a situation where they'll be able to help someone, too."
"Give me the keys to the basement. I'll let them out."
"Are you sure "
"Of course I'm sure. I'm more sure of this than anything before, in my entire life."
Lucius slipped a hand into his pocket, and withdrew a golden ring of keys. As he began to flip through them, he murmured, "I think my little story might have affected you in a rather overly benevolent manner. I don't want you to regret this, Serverus.." He found the right key, unlinking it from the ring.
"I won't regret it." Serverus extended his palm, and Lucius dropped the key into its centre. His grey eyes were fixed on Serverus' - the first straight look he'd given the man since he arrived. They shimmered with a mixture of emotions, none of them daring to surface completely repressed behind the mask of feigned austerity. But for a moment, a breif moment, Serverus imagined that they were filmed with a moistness, the onset of grateful tears.
He tossed the keys in his hand, a slight weight. "After I let them out, I think I'll be going," he said. "But I should say this now. Thank you, Lucius."
"No," said Lucius; and he was smiling now it was strange how the expression changed his face, and Serverus saw in Lucius' place now the Lucius of the past, a small boy who'd dared to grant his enemies wisdom and clemency in the same breath. "Thank you, Serverus Snape," Lucius finished.
"You know you're welcome to visit me any time at Hogwarts. My room there isn't a patch on the mansion, but "
"I should stay home," said Lucius. "To take care of the boys."
There was nothing more for Serverus to stay. He stepped out of the study, feeling strangely light-footed as he made his way down the stairs.
Reclining on his leather chair, Lucius Malfoy looked outside, silently watching the wheeling dragons, the great monsters tearing through the sky above the startled Muggles. Taking the medallion from the desk top, he rubbed it gently between index and thumb.
After a while, he began to hum.
As the trapdoor opened, one of Harry's wildly flailing fists narrowly missed punching Serverus in the nose. Recoiling hastily, Serverus rose to his full hieght and stared down at the man. Harry was bleeding, he noticed and he'd lost his glasses.
"Please. Snape. Let me out," Harry said, in a strained and quiet voice, his shoulders shivering. He looked utterly pathetic, and Serverus didn't experience the usual twitch of annoyance at Harry's presence. Perhaps because he was repaying yet another debt in setting Harry free appeasing James' ghost.
He extended a hand into the depths, and Harry took it.
"Th-thank you," Harry mumbled, almost collapsing again. He held onto Serverus' arm, steadying himself. Serverus was shocked at the state of the boy up close, Harry was a complete mess, the front of his robe torn and encrusted with dry blood. Reaching for his wand, Serverus murmured a few incantations, healing the surface wounds.
Harry muttered another hopeless word of thanks, and began to stagger away toward the hall.
"Where are- you going?" Serverus asked. "You should get to bed you're in no state to walk anywhere."
"M' leaving," Harry said, in a hopeless voice. "Had enough."
"Enough of what?"
"Of him," Harry howled, suddenly, pausing in the doorway. "Of him, of his shit, of everything. Of this bloody place. I'm leaving!"
"I should warn you that there are dragons outside," said Serverus.
Harry shrugged. "Dun care," he said, and was gone.
Serverus blinked. The boy's tribulations had nothing to do with him but he made a mental note to ask Trewlaney to repay her debt once more. Turning back to the trapdoor, he saw the pale oval of Draco's face tilted up at him, an inquisitive look on his sharp features.
"So, daddy decided to set us free?" he asked.
"No. I did."
"I'm going to tell the Ministry that you two will have to be let go. It's not fair to keep you looked up for such a trivial misdemeanor. You'd no idea what would happen."
"Ohh-kay," said Draco, uncertainly. "Father, er, didn't get you drunk and bully you into it, did he?"
"Hardly," said Serverus, rather resenting the suggestion. "I thought of it of my own accord. It's my duty." He helped Draco out. "Your father told me a story, while I was here. Made me think a little."
"Thank goodness it didn't make you think alot," Draco muttered, squinting against the sudden light of the room. "Half of Azkahban would be free by now."
"Your father actually saved my life a long time ago," said Serverus, refusing to be daunted by Draco's sarcasm. "James Potter was in some trouble, and Lucius well, said that if James slept with him, he wouldn't tell anyone what James and his friends had done."
"Sounds like father. He doesn't like paying for sex when there's an easier way to get it."
"Well, Lucius didn't sleep with James. He told him that he was going to be merciful, and hopefully James would do the same for someone else, some day. And James ended up saving my life," said Serverus.
Draco raised an eyebrow. "That's a bit of a jump, isn't it?"
"What do you mean?"
"Well, my father decides he's not in the mood, and then oh, never mind. I'm out, anyway."
Serverus considered. "Your father worded it rather better than that," he admitted.
"I'd better be going. I'll have to talk to the Ministry in the morning." Serverus glanced toward the window. "By the way, I think Harry left you."
"Yes, he did. It's a bi-monthly thing. He always comes back, though."
"Goodnight then, Draco," said Serverus. "Your father's a good man, you know," he added, thoughtfully.
Draco smirked. "Yes. The best."
Ron had jumped from his dragon earlier cushioning his fall in a patch of bushes. Now he wandered through the grounds, occasionally staring upwards as another dragon's underbelly crashed against the magic sheild. He'd tried the door of the manor, but a sudden electric shock had rippled through his body as soon as he touched the handle.
He wasn't quite sure where to go from here. After checking for any other entrances and exits, and finding them all similary protected, he had no choice but to hang around hopefully waiting for someone to leave the house. And given the presence of the dragons, and the probability of the Muggle crowd returning, he didn't think that would be happening any time soon.
He was kicking at a torch someone had dropped in their flight, stamping out the last embers of the flame, when he heard a wail from the manor doors. Turning, he saw Harry stumble blindly out of the house.
Harry halted on the last step. He wasn't wearing his glasses, Ron noticed.
"It's me, Ron Weasley."
"..oh." Harry didn't seem surprised, but after the ordeal he'd been through, Ron didn't blame him. Locked in a basement, narrowly avoiding being sent to prison.. Harry looked shell-shocked, torn between tears and worry. "Why're you here?" Harry managed, as he strained to get his bearings.
"Flew by on a dragon, and veni, vidi, velcro," said Ron, shrugging. "I came, I saw, and I decided to stick around." He headed over. "Came to save you, actually. I was planning to ferry you and Draco back to Africa. Guess you don't need saving, though."
Harry grinned, in a lopsided, unhappy way. "You're so very wrong," he murmured.
"That right?" Ron wasn't interested in the specifics of Harry's problems. "I got a dragon here, ready to fly. When whoever's nabbed the medallion decides to bury it again, at least. You'd better get Draco."
"Draco's not coming," said Harry, shortly.
"Oh, you split up? Hey, well done."
"Gods, I feel horrible," said Harry, pressing his hands to his temples. "I just but I just can't take it any more, you know. I can't stand it."
"I mean, I've tried so hard to please him. But he never listens to me. And he just doesn't seem to care. I feel like I'm throwing myself against a brick wall. And every time I do, part of me gets broken."
"Sucks to be you."
Harry took his hands from his face, and squinted in Ron's general direction.
"Never become a counsellor, okay?"
"No plans to. I like dragons too much. We going, or what?"
"Ron! I'm leaving the man I've been with for nine years! It just doesn't happen like that!"
Ron shrugged. "Why not?"
"Well " Harry's eyes crossed. "Oh, forget it," he muttered. "Where's your dragon?"
Lucius had passed on the medallion to a house elf, with strict instructions to put it back where it came from. He recalled that whilst the gardens were dragon proof, they weren't dragon-turd proof, as far as he knew. It was better to be safe than sorry. It was better to be anything than sorry.
Making sure that Serverus had left, he wandered downstairs, almost bumping into Draco on his way up. The two drew apart, as if stung by the breif contact of their bodies an unspoken animosity lingering between them. Draco's face shifted through emotions he might be a blank book to anyone else, but Lucius was trained in reading his son, and knew what the twists of Draco's features indictated of the man's current feelings.
"Serverus let me out," said Draco gruffly, apropos of avoiding the issue altogether.
"Yes. I imagined he would." Lucius rested his back against the corridor wall, clasping his hands infront of his waist, and waited.
"You you didn't have to do that," Draco burst out, finally. "You didn't have to lock us up. When have you ever bowed to what the Ministry of Magic wants, anyway?"
"You think I didn't suggest the punishment myself?" Lucius asked.
Draco's mouth dropped open. "I'm twenty five," he said, in a small, bitter voice, staring at the floor. "You can't ground me at twenty five."
"Saying can't to a Malfoy, Draco, is like saying stop to a herd of rampaging dragons," said Lucius. "Of course if you say to a Malfoy You can't stop a herd of rampaging dragons.. well, that's another affair altogether," he added, after a moment's pause. "You deserved every minute down there, Draco. I'm surprised you've the audacity to challenge my authority, after what you did."
Draco had no reply to this. He scuffed his boots against the manor floor, shame faced.
"You'd best stay in the manor for the next week or so," said Lucius. "Until Serverus manages to pull what strings he can to get you and Harry out of this mess. And if you get caught by a reporter afterwards, especially one of those ugly little witches from the Weekly, I do suggest you keep your mouth shut. Even if they promise you an exclusive photo shoot. Otherwise I will permanantly seal up every orifice on your body and I do mean, -every- one of them, Draco until I feel certain you've learnt your lesson. Do you understand me?"
"Er. Yes." Draco chewed his lip. "Um, father about what Serverus said.."
Draco shrugged. "Well, he told me a long story about himself and you saving his life."
"Yes. He probably did. Serverus is how would you say it, in your colourful idiom? ah, yes, a sucker for stories like that. I do think he'd quite willingly offer his soul to the first man who claimed he'd saved his life." Lucius tapped his index fingers together. "Which rather gives me another idea, come to think of it.."
"He said you saved his life by not sleeping with James Potter," said Draco, trying to keep the conversation on track.
"Do you believe that?" Lucius asked.
Draco shifted. "No."
Lucius smiled, and put an arm around his son's shoulders, a motion Draco didn't try to avoid. "You're wise beyond your years, Draco," he murmured. "James Potter couldn't walk straight after that day in the Gryffindor dorm. And every night, during the weeks that followed, he'd beat on the wall of the Slytherin common room, screaming my name in his agony."
"I figured you'd do " Draco began.
"The Transgender potion didn't work, of course. I simply caught James by himself one day and cast a spell which permanantly affixed his penis to his right thigh," Lucius interupted him. "Left him like that for a month. He was too embarrassed to tell any of the teachers, or even the other Marauders. But it did put a stop to his bullying."
"..oh," said Draco, dully.
"The ends, son, always justify the means. Speaking of which, I believe I poisoned your water earlier with a rather potent aphrodesiac. It should begin to work any time now, so you'd best hurry. Your cousin's waiting in your bedroom for you."
"Father!" Draco gasped.
"My goodness, Draco," said Lucius. "What kind of tyrant do you think I am?"
Draco smirked. "The very best kind," he said.
"I am quite the amicable despot," Lucius agreed. "Perhaps you should call Harry. I'll have the elves fix you both a late supper."
"Eh. Harry's left again. Better make it supper for one."
Lucius frowned. "I see," he said. "In that case, Draco "
"I think you'd better go and find Harry," said Lucius.
Draco shrugged. "He always comes back," he said.
"Ever wondered why?" Lucius asked.
"Because he loves me. Duh."
Lucius made a mental note to quietly destroy Draco's Muggle-made video recorder, and his tape of Clueless.
"I meant why he runs."
"Because he's a whining, prissy git," said Draco. "And because it annoys the hell out of me."
"No. Because he's waiting to see if maybe, one day, you'll chase after him."
"He'll be waiting a damn long time, then," said Draco, smirking.
"I think that's very sad, Draco."
Lucius moved to step past his son, but Draco surprised at his father's words reached to grab the tail end of Lucius' robe in passing. Lucius stopped, and turned.
"What do you mean?" Draco said. "What's sad about it?"
Lucius stared at him. "What is sad about it, Draco," he murmured, "is that you continue to bother with something which does not please you."
"He does please me," said Draco, angrily.
"Why? Because he doesn't talk back? Neither do the house elves. Because he's moderately intelligent, and from your loud admissions a decent partner in the bedroom? There are a hundred other wizards and witches who, I'm sure, would best Harry in both departments. The only thing that pleases you about Harry, Draco, is his fame. And if that's all that matters to you, you might as well go ask Voldemort for a date."
"That's not true!"
"Isn't it, Draco?" said Lucius, quietly. "Are you sure?"
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