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Sunset had come and gone when Lucia stepped out of her fireplace to discover Asher curled up on the living room couch. The room’s lamps had lit itself of its own accord once the last remaining sunlight had left the wide windows of the living room. The boy was so deeply engrossed in a book from one of the many bookshelves in her house that he didn’t notice her entrance. She tilted her head to read the cover and was surprised to find that the book was one of her father’s. Not many children found Powerful and Arcane Magic of the Middle Ages interesting—with the exception of herself, Hermione, and now Asher.
“Would you like something to eat?” she asked the boy. “I can have dinner ready in about ten minutes.”
Asher jumped at the sound of Lucia’s voice, and then nodded gratefully once he saw who it was. He went back to his reading as she headed for the kitchen. Just wait until Hermione meets this little bookworm, she thought with amusement as she prepared a quick meat stew for herself and her two houseguests. While the stew boiled on the stove, Lucia rummaged through the potions closet and retrieved a bottle of Pain-Killer and another of Skele-Gro.
When the stew was done, she ladled it into three big bowls. One she set aside for herself; another she brought out to Asher in the living room, who immediately put down his book to eat (a Hermione with Ron’s appetite, she smiled inwardly); and the last she placed on a tray with the potions and carried into the spare bedroom.
The lamp in the bedroom flickered on when Lucia opened the door. She slid the dinner tray on the bedside table next to Malfoy’s untouched wand, cast a Warming Charm on the stew, and stood over the now-sleeping young man. He looked very young and innocent with his eyes closed and none of that familiar sneer on his face. One would never imagine that this was one of the most wanted criminals in the British wizarding world, second only to Snape. Lucia could find no other emotion but pity as she studied his handsome features.
Malfoy stirred and groaned; before Lucia could move, she found herself staring into his gray eyes—she couldn’t help but notice how similar they were to her own. There was a silence as the two stared long and hard at each other. Lucia wasn’t sure if he recognized her from Hogwarts, since Ravenclaw and Slytherin so rarely shared classes together.
Finally, Malfoy seemed to find his voice again. “Where am I?” he asked weakly. “Are you—are you an angel?”
Lucia stiffened. He had used her most private nickname, probably without realizing it, and that gave her an eerie sense of déjà vu. Malfoy couldn’t possibly know the name her father had given her; it was derived from her middle name, Angela, and even her best friends had never known of it. He’s probably just delirious, she reassured herself. But that one question of his made her feel even more bound to take care of him, somehow—almost as if the ghost of her father had sent Malfoy to her.
“No,” she said, a slight tremble in her voice. “I’m Lucia Ignatius.” She thought she saw a glimmer of recognition flash in his eyes; but it disappeared as quickly as it had come. “I’m a Ravenclaw in your year, and you’re staying in my flat for the moment. You’d obviously been through quite a lot when I found you in Knockturn Alley—”
The phrase ‘Knockturn Alley’ triggered a swift reaction. Malfoy suddenly struggled to sit upright and grimaced at the pain. “Asher—gods, where is he?” he asked, the panic rising in his voice.
“Stop it! You have three broken ribs, for Merlin’s sake!” Lucia cried. “I brought Asher back with me. He’s perfectly fine. Please, don’t worry, you’ll only hurt yourself more.”
Malfoy relaxed at this, and he dropped back on the bed, panting and staring at the ceiling. Lucia continued, “I brought you some dinner and potions. I’ll leave them here for you later.” She turned away and would have left, but Malfoy’s voice stopped her.
“Wait.” She turned back and was shocked to discover Malfoy staring at her with tears in his eyes. The boy known throughout Hogwarts as the ‘Slytherin Ice Prince’ was crying? What alternate universe had she just walked into?
“Please,” he whispered, his breath coming in short gasps. “I need you—to warn Mother. Tell her—“ He choked on the words before managing to continue, “Tory’s dead. Death Eaters—Mother must—ignore the summons. Please warn her—I can’t do it, but—she must know—before it’s too late.” The tears overflowed as he finished, and he turned his head away to hide it as best he could.
Lucia didn’t know what to do. “Please…” Malfoy begged her again. He reached out to her pleadingly. “Please warn Mother for me…”
“I—I will, Malfoy.” Lucia finally found her voice. As she opened the door to leave, his reply stopped her again.
“Thank you, and—please—call me Draco.” The last words faded away as he closed his eyes and sank back into sleep.
“I will—Draco,” she whispered, her heart aching for his pain, and she closed the door behind her.
When she came back into the living room, she found Asher asleep on the couch, the book still open on the floor where he had left it. No need to wake him, poor thing…he’s probably had a long enough day as it is. As she grabbed another handful of Floo Powder, she noted the page Asher had left open. The title of the page read: “Temporis Finio: The Time-Freezing Spell.” The author then went on to explain—in an extremely dry and technical style, Lucia recalled from her earlier readings—the workings of this extremely powerful and potentially dangerous spell which could freeze time for any undefined period and which was only performable after a decade of dormancy.
Lucia sighed to herself and shook her head. Asher was definitely as bad as, or worse than, the two infamous Gryffindor and Ravenclaw bookworms put together.
She threw in the Floo Powder, watching the flames flash green and hoping to find Draco’s mother at the only address which she knew was related to the Malfoys. “The Malfoy Manor!”
Lucia stood in the middle of the elegant drawing room of Malfoy Manor, quite unsure of herself. A shrinking house-elf had run off to fetch ‘Mistress,’ leaving Lucia to brush herself off and admire the room around her. A large painting of a pastoral landscape covered one of the walls, and thick velvet draperies blocked the windows from view. The decorations, she thought, were extravagantly flamboyant—even for a family of such ancient background. The Ignatii were as old of a pureblood line as the Malfoys, and perhaps just as rich; but her father had never spent money on crystal chandeliers and embroidered silk cushions such as these. Lucia sighed. It was just as well; she probably wouldn’t have ever figured out how to keep them all dust-free.
Lucia was studying the finer details of the painting when a swishing sound came to her ears. She turned to the doorway behind her, just in time to see a tall, dark blonde woman sweep through, her long robes trailing behind her. She had the same gray eyes as her son, but hers were filled with suspicion as she studied Lucia from head to foot.
“Who are you, and what do you want?” Narcissa Malfoy asked her, not in a friendly way. “I hope this is important, seeing as it’s rather late for a social visit.” The woman sat herself down on a silk upholstered chair with all the formality of a noblewoman.
“My name is Lucia Ignatius,” Lucia began. She noticed Mrs. Malfoy squint at the name, as if she had heard it before, but the woman made no mention of it. “I have come with a message from your son, Draco.”
This certainly got a response out of Mrs. Malfoy. She rose quickly, strode over to Lucia, and grabbed the startled girl’s left wrist. When Mrs. Malfoy had pulled back Lucia’s sleeve to find no Dark Mark on her forearm, the woman stared hard into the girl’s matching eyes, still gripping the wrist tightly. “You--aren’t—a Death Eater,” she said quietly, yet it was enough to get her boiling fury across. “My son wouldn’t trust the likes of you with his life. What have you done with him?”
Lucia winced at the pain in her arm from Mrs. Malfoy’s death hold, but she tried to keep as straight a face as possible. “Your son is trusting me with his life right now,” she said, just as angry. “I found him, unconscious and bleeding, in Knockturn Alley.” She paused, then continued, “Actually, that’s not completely true. Your grandson, Asher, was the one who brought me to Draco.”
Mrs. Malfoy paled and tightened her hold. “And what, may I ask, was Asher doing with Draco in Knockturn Alley, of all places?”
“I’m not sure, ma’am, but that’s not the point,” Lucia gritted out. Her arm was beginning to tingle, and the woman’s behavior seriously annoyed her. “Draco sent me here to tell you that Tory is dead, I think because of Death Eaters. He said to ignore the summons, and that was all he’d say.”
Mrs. Malfoy let out a short shriek and released Lucia, staring wildly at this bearer of bad news and backing off. “No,” she whispered, “no, no, not my Victoria, no.” She sank back into her chair, shaking her head with her eyes squeezed shut. “My darling Victoria—why would they want to kill her? Why?”
Lucia took a step closer. Mrs. Malfoy seemed a lot less dangerous when she wasn’t holding a person in a death grip. “Was she—your daughter?” she asked quietly. “Asher’s mother?”
Mrs. Malfoy nodded, the tears streaming from beneath her closed eyelids. All her haughtiness, all her suspicion had melted away into pure grief. “My first child. My only daughter…Lucius was so disappointed until Draco came eight years later.” She began to sob quietly.
Lucia didn’t know what to say. After another minute of crying, Mrs. Malfoy pulled herself together enough to speak. “It must be true, then, what Draco said.” Her voice was charged with grief and anger now. “I couldn’t bring myself to believe it before. He said the Dark Lord was threatening to kill us all if—oh!”
Mrs. Malfoy bent forward, clutching her left forearm in pain, and glanced at Lucia in shock. “The summons,” she said. It seemed that Lucia had come not a moment too soon.
“’Ignore the summons,’ he said.” Lucia’s mind raced for an explanation. “I think he means…that Voldemort wants you dead, too.” Mrs. Malfoy inhaled sharply at the Dark Lord’s name, but Lucia let it pass. “You’d better go into hiding, and fast. I have a bad feeling that some Death Eaters will come searching for you fairly soon.”
“But—but there is no one I know who would take me in!” Mrs. Malfoy started to wring her hands as her voice rose hysterically. “My friends are all loyal Death Eaters! I have nowhere to go, but—” She calmed herself and drew herself up to her full sitting height, her eyes flashing gray fire. “I’ll be glad to meet my daughter’s murderers and die fighting.”
Lucia sighed. I bet she wishes she’d been more diverse in choosing her circle of friends. If Draco’s mother was killed, Lucia didn’t want to imagine her patient’s reaction—or, for that matter, Asher’s. There seemed little choice left for her to make. “Follow me back to my flat,” she said softly, leaning in towards Mrs. Malfoy to make sure she heard every word. “I’ll let you, Draco, and Asher stay there until it’s safe for all of you to leave. If you don’t come within half an hour, I’m afraid I’ll have to assume the worst has happened to you.”
Without waiting for Mrs. Malfoy’s reply, but still noticing the gratitude shining in the woman’s eyes, Lucia grabbed a pinch of Floo Powder from the box near the hearth and threw it in. “Thirteen Maplewood Place, Room 6B!”
When Lucia got home, tired and completely worn out from her day’s experiences, the first thing she did was to go to the spare bedroom and conjure two beds, one larger than the other, next to the one Draco was currently occupying. Then she went back to the living room, carefully levitated the sleeping Asher onto the smallest of the three beds, and watched both boys sleep for a minute before removing the now-empty dinner tray and leaving for the kitchen.
After wolfing down her late dinner and washing the dirty dishes Muggle-style, Lucia stumbled to the privacy of her bedroom. She immediately collapsed on the bed without changing out of her robes and fell into a dreamless sleep within seconds. She was so deeply asleep that she never heard the soft pop from the living room, nor did she awaken when a cloaked woman stuck a blond head into the doorway and quickly withdrew it.
A/N: Thanks to all my loyal supporters on HPFF! You all make me so HAPPY!! ^_^