“Do you remember me, lost for so long? Will you be on the other side or will you forget me?” –Tourniquet, Evanescence
The fire crackled in the fireplace as Draco stoked it. Hermione had gone into the kitchen to get a few cups of coffee. Lord knew they were all going to need it. Lucius eyed his son with unmasked curiosity as he sat in a chair near the fireplace. Draco had been extremely hospitable, not at all the welcome he was expecting. He had changed and grown into a fine young man. Not much had changed, except that he had grown more mature. He still kept his hair short, he hadn’t grown too much, and he still maintained the air of a lord.
Draco on the other hand looked at his father and realized how much Lucius had changed. His face was more gaunt and his skin was paler than usual. His usually sharp silver eyes were now more lifeless. His once fair blonde hair was now beginning to silver. He could only begin to guess at what changes had taken place in his mind during his imprisonment. Draco mentally chastised himself. He was not going to judge his father. After all, blood is thicker than water.
“What happened to the house elves?” Lucius asked dryly, breaking the silence as Hermione returned with a tray of coffee and biscuits. She placed it on the table in front of him. Hermione looked at him. “Shouldn’t they be doing this for you?”
“We let them go,” Hermione said simply. Lucius looked shocked.
“Whatever for?” he asked. Hermione scoffed.
“Because it’s slavery,” she said. “I don’t believe in it and I won’t stand for it.” The tension hanging between Hermione and Lucius was nearly visible in its electric state. Draco shifted his glance from his wife to his father. This could get ugly if he didn’t step in.
“They still come back every week to clean the manor,” Draco said, hoping this might help to defuse the volatile situation by showing his father that he hadn’t entirely lost their way of life. Lucius looked as if he was going to say something further, but seemed to think better of it. Hermione handed a cup of coffee to Draco and then to Lucius, who accepted it warily. Ever since he could remember, this girl had been a formidable adversary. He wondered if she was above poisoning his drink if only to be rid of him. He decided not to risk it and kept the cup on the saucer.
Draco cleared his throat, but could think of nothing to say. What was there to say? He hadn’t seen the man in years and he had been presumably dead. Was he just supposed to welcome him back with open arms? Lucius looked at cup in his hand, the tense silence rattling his already shaken nerves. He knew what he wanted to ask, but he couldn’t bring himself to ask it. Instead, he chose another question.
"Where is your mother?” he asked quietly. If they hadn’t been standing so close, it wouldn’t have been audible at all. Draco shifted uncomfortably and cast a quick glance at Hermione.
“She died a few years ago,” he replied. Lucius looked up, shocked. He closed his eyes in grief. He didn’t need any further explanation, nor did he want it. He was breaking inside, but knew that he had to hold himself together for the sake of his pride. He was not about to cry in front of that mudblood bride of his son.
Hermione eyed Lucius with alert eyes. She didn’t feel as though she could trust him. He had been a death eater, and once a death eater always a death eater. As if sensing her thoughts, he placed his hand over his left forearm. She looked up, wondering if he had indeed read her thoughts. His silver eyes were still focused on the base of the fire, as if he saw something that neither she nor Draco could see. She could almost see the words trying to form themselves into sentences as he sat there. She looked at Draco, who looked back at her, puzzled. Lucius sighed, causing them to look towards him.
“Draco, my son,” he began. He didn’t even bother addressing Hermione, which was obvious to all. He seemed to be trying to force the words out, which would have been laughable if the situation wasn’t so serious. “I…have found myself without…erm…lodgings…as of late.” He left the question unspoken. Draco’s brow furrowed in thought. He looked at Hermione, who shook her head slightly. She didn’t like the man from the get go and she was not comfortable being in close contact with one of her sworn enemies. Draco sighed and turned to look at his father.
Lucius’s bearing continued to show his stoic aristocratic nature, but his eyes betrayed the worry that he dared not show otherwise. Where would he go if Draco refused him? No self-respecting inn would take him in. The Malfoy fortune belonged to Draco now. He was penniless and left without the ability of finding a job. Any known death eater had been blacklisted. He looked at his son, almost pleading.
“You are welcome to stay with us,” Draco said, watching Hermione’s expression fall. He knew he was going to hear it soundly from her. Lucius visibly relaxed, the thank you rising to his lips left unspoken. Draco nodded towards the staircase. “Let’s head upstairs,” he said to Hermione, whose glare said that there would be further discussion when they got upstairs. “The green room is ready,” he said to his father. His expression was one of confusion.
“Knew I was coming?” he asked. Hermione scoffed.
“Hardly,” she said. “We always keep at least one bedroom ready in the case of…unexpected guests.” Unexpected was hardly the word that was going to come out and they both knew that, but it was better to show a bit of tact and poise in this case. Lucius inclined his head to suggest a bow.
“Indeed,” he said. “An admirable and thoughtful foresight.” He stood by the foot of the stairs, nose to nose with Hermione. He motioned with a black gloved hand up the stairs, a mocking smile rising to his features. “Ladies first.” Hermione nearly scowled, but restrained herself. Instead, she returned his mocking smile.
“No, no, I insist. Age before beauty,” she quipped. Draco thought for a moment that there might be a brawl between his pregnant wife and his aging father, but Lucius merely smirked and shrugged.
“As the lady wishes,” he said. He cast Draco a look that clearly said that he wanted to talk with him privately. With that, he ascended the stairs with the grace of a man who has been trained to move as though he was gliding, despite his getting on in years. This was something that Draco had never mastered. Draco allowed Hermione to precede him up the stairs as he extinguished the fire and candles with a flick of his wand.
“Draco, how can you let him stay here?!” Hermione demanded as Draco climbed into bed next to her. Draco sighed. He had hoped that this conversation could at least wait until morning. He rolled over to face his wife, though it was the last thing he wanted to do at the moment. Her scowl was enough to make Draco jump to his own defense.
“What was I supposed to do?” he asked. “Say ‘No way, dad. Get out of my house, which was yours and the one you raised me in as a child and your father raised you in as a child.’ I don’t think so, Hermione,” he growled. Her scowl deepened. “I would be the most ungrateful child to walk the planet.”
“He wants to kill me, he hates me,” Hermione said. Draco waved the comment away with a hand. Hermione looked exasperated. “Did you see the way he was looking at me downstairs?” Draco made a noise of dismissal. “He was looking at me like I was a piece of gum under his shoe.” Draco rolled his eyes.
“Now is not the time for this conversation,” he said, rolling over in an attempt to go to sleep. He blew out the candle. Hermione was in no way done with this conversation. With a quick swish of her wand, the candle was relit and Draco was groaning.
“This is the perfect time for this conversation,” she said. He turned to look at her again. “I don’t trust him with our family.”
“He’s not going to curse his own grandson,” Draco said irritably. Hermione sputtered.
“That’s not the point!” she said. “He would have killed me so much as look at me. A leopard doesn’t change his spots.” Draco sat up, now completely engrossed in the conversation.
“Are you saying that a man can’t change who he was?” Draco asked. Hermione knew this was a loaded question and remained silent. Draco rephrased the question after a moment. “Are you saying that because I was a death eater in my last couple of years at Hogwarts that I can’t be sincere in my repentance?” Hermione shook her head vehemently.
“That’s not what I’m saying at all,” she said, frustrated that her husband was missing her point entirely. “I’m saying that you were sixteen and only acting on what your father expected to you. Your actions demonstrated that you didn’t really believe in what you were doing. You couldn’t go through with killing Dumbledore, which was the mission entrusted to you. That means that you were still good at heart. Look at your father. He was sent to Azkaban because of what he did for Voldemort.”
“He’s my father, Hermione,” he said. “I trust him and I would appreciate it if you would have a little faith in him as well.”
“He has never been very civil to me since the day I met him,” she protested.
“You didn’t exactly roll out the welcome wagon, either,” he replied. Before she could respond again, he blew out his candle. “I’m tired. This discussion is over with. I’m going to sleep.” He proceeded to make himself comfortable. Hermione pouted and turned so her back was to Draco.
“I still want him out of the house.”
I hope this came out well and I'm sorry for the delay. I've been a victim of massive writer's block. Any ideas over something that Lucius and Hermione could butt heads over would be greatly appreciated, as would constructive criticism. Thank you so very much for reading.