Chapter 3 : It's Just Another Brick in the Wall
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“You look like you could use a drink.”
His lips curled into a familiar smirk as she stands in the doorway. Her dark hair settled carelessly on her shoulders tickling her pale skin. She wore a light cotton dress today – most unlike her, but he suspected she planned on him coming over. It barely covered her knobby knees, but thoughts of what might be beyond it caused a light flush to rise up his neck.
“I always do,” he replied at last, leaning into her for a brief embrace.
Her lips brushed his cheek like a soft burst of wind, and as quickly as he leaned in, she pulled away. He followed her inside the flat, closing the door behind them. His feet took him to the small sitting room where he unceremoniously sank down in the squashy armchair which creaked in protest at his weight. She sat across from him on the sofa, curling her long legs under her. Her dark eyes observed him curiously, taking in his black robes and dusty boots trampling her carpet.
“Siobhan,” her murmured.
“Lucius,” her reply was soft; her lips curled upwards revealing a shy smile.
“How was it?”
Lucius sighed, running his hands through his white blond hair. Giving her a bemused smile, he sat forward. “Not quite how I imagined it in the end,”
“How so?” she asked.
“I expected typical pure-blooded solemnity, emotionless, and bland,” he began, “But instead I saw one of his daughters run out of the ceremony screaming, and her sister running out behind her,”
Siobhan smiled, “Not everyone can be your family, Lucius. Those girls clearly loved their papa.”
He nodded his head in assent, the jibe bouncing off his chest and striking the adjacent wall. “Touché,”
“How was it for you?” Her voice dropped its mirth, replacing it with a seriousness he never came across too often with her. When he did, it was for good reason.
How was it?
It wasn’t the ideal question to ask. Funerals could never be bad or good. He supposed he could be neutral and say it was all right, but that wouldn’t really answer the question at all. The truth was he hated funerals. He hated what they represented, and what they reminded him of. The notion of death terrified him. It took him back to places in the past that he had barely broken free of. For a young man of his station, funerals reminded him once again of the responsibility placed on the ones left behind. It was their job to clean up the mess. Not anyone else.
“It reminded me of my Father,” he decided he would settle with that for now. Nothing more had to be said; she understood him completely. With an arch of her brow, she nodded silently to herself.
“Tell me more about the girls?” she asked, hoping to change the topic which he readily accepted.
“I only met two of them, I don’t know if you remember Narcissa Black from Hogwarts?” he asked, sitting back in his chair.
Siobhan’s forehead creased as she tried to draw the name from the dark corners of her mind, “I think so, and she was in Slytherin too, wasn’t she?”
Lucius nodded. “She’s a quiet girl though, thoughtful, but somehow I think she knows what’s in store for her. She has that air about her,”
“A bit like you, you mean?” Siobhan probed.
“You think so?” Lucius frowned at her admission, “I didn’t, maybe not then anyway.”
“Maybe,” she mused, glancing down at the print on her dress, “She has two more sisters, doesn’t she?”
“Oh, yes,” Lucius continued, “Bellatrix is the youngest, but she has another, the middle sister – I think her name is Andromeda, I haven’t met her yet,”
“You might like Bellatrix though,” he added.
“She agrees with you that Livia is bloody awful,” Lucius grinned.
Siobhan sat up with her mouth hanging open, “She didn’t,”
He nodded slowly as his companion’s riveting laughter filled her tiny sitting room.
Lucius laughed, shaking his head at her. “Strange how a Ravenclaw remembers them, but I don’t ever recall seeing those girls,”
“All depends on what you wanted to see,” her voice was quiet, stirring up more emotion in him that he thought those words could.
His gaze fell to her carpet, and he examined its pattern where swirls of blue met grey. Damn her and her Ravenclaw logic. Over the years that he’d known her, she hadn’t changed at all. She was still as sharp as ever, and strangely mysterious. Her words often held a deeper meaning, and she had the odd habit of speaking in metaphors. He could feel her stare boring into the top of his head.
“Ravenclaw logic, right?” her voice broke the silence that shrouded them, and he smiled.
“Something like that,”
She rose from her seat, and marched over to his side. Opening his arms in response, Siobhan settled in his lap, wrapping his arms around his neck. Her long fingers trailed across his cheek, and he captured her hand, placing a soft kiss on the inside of her wrist.
“I’m sorry, my love,” she muttered against his chest.
He met Siobhan MacDougal when they were still at Hogwarts. It was a few weeks after his father died, and he returned to Hogwarts alone despite his mother’s protests of him ‘not being ready’. The fact is, he would never be ready, so it made no sense prolonging anything when he would feel the same way.
He sat in the library distracting himself with a Potions essay – four and a half feet of ‘The Complications of Extracting Basilisk Venom’. Slughorn had been relentless with his homework assignments to the point where the students had half a mind to lock him in his own supply cupboard for a week. It was late, most of the students packed up their things and left. Madam Pince already passed his table twice and strongly hinted that she wanted him out, but he ignored her. After a few more attempts, the young librarian marched away with her nose in the air, leaving him to his thoughts and wasted parchment.
He occupied a small desk near the Restricted Section which cried out under the weight of the ancient Potions tomes he lugged off of the shelves hours earlier. They sat in the same place he placed them when he sat down, completely untouched. He made several attempts to start, but the balls of parchment around his desk told the sorry tale of failure – the most he’d done since then was to write his name.
Lucius scowled, dropping his quill in its inkwell where it splattered black droplets across the desk. He sat back in his chair which creaked loudly in the dead silence of the library, and blew forcefully through his nose. This would not do at all.
The candles flickered, and he glimpsed his hunched outline on the wall. Instinctively he straightened up, stretching a little too much so that he heard a soft pop come from his back. He turned his gaze back to the stack of books, and flipped open the first one his hand landed on. He knew these tomes well enough to find what he was looking for – the sight of the great snake on the page wasn’t all that hard to miss.
“Are you going to turn the page soon, that thing is horrifying,” a low voice came from behind him, startling him.
He sat up straight in his chair, craning his neck around to see who his visitor was. A tall, pale girl stood grinning at him with her hands resting lightly on her hips. His eyes trailed down her lithe frame, and by the time his gaze returned to her face, a dark eyebrow was raised. Like him, she was still in her uniform, but the green and silver of his school tie was replaced with blue and bronze. The golden eagle of the Ravenclaw crest sat proudly on her sweater. He frowned.
“Can I help you with something?” It was late, and he found it hard to keep the ice from his voice.
“No, but maybe I could help you,” her voice was soft; a familiar Northern lilt filled his ears. At his confused look, she gestured to his blank parchment, “You’ve been sitting there since this afternoon, and you haven’t written a thing,”
Lucius’ eyes narrowed. “Have you been watching me?”
The girl snorted, helping herself to the vacant chair across from him. She spun the open book around, wrinkling her nose at the sight of the basilisk and flipped through the pages. “No, actually you were disturbing me,”
Lucius stared at the girl in disbelief, and for a moment he couldn’t quite find the words to say. In the end, he found himself laughing at her nerve.
“Yes, with all that bloody huffing and puffing like a constipated hippogriff,” she glowered up at him, her dark eyes glittered with delight.
Laughter erupted from his chest, and to him it felt good. It had been months since he felt like this, since he felt anything.
“Who are you, anyway?”
The girl stuck her hand out, “Siobhan MacDougal, you?”
Lucius took her hand without hesitance, “Lucius Malfoy.”
The morning found the young heir seated behind the desk of his father’s study - his study. The sun rose two hours earlier, and at its height, rays of light seeped through the heavily draped windows casting light upon the parchment strewn across the desk. An ink well sat half empty by his arm, quill poised in his right arm and a bill clasped in the other. He glowered down at the spindly handwriting of his estate attorney dictating his monthly allowances. Fifty galleons per week for the gardener, another 250 for food, set aside at least one hundred for Mother’s weekly extravagances, and tea parties. Felix got his own clause – Lucius decided to include it after his brother bought the flying carpet. Last, but not least, was the solicitor’s fee – 300 galleons per hour. Louis Smythe may be slippery in his ways, but he was the best – he made sure of it.
He was up for the past two hours sifting through the documents, sorting them according to dates and meeting times. He was never quite sure where or how his family accounted his wealth. As far as he knew, his father never worked a day in his life. The portrait behind him sniffed as if his thoughts were suddenly made known. Of course, he wasn’t being very fair – after he came into his inheritance he found that there was just too much to do. As much as he tried to juggle, most days he wanted to get away from it all, and do something he wanted. But what did he want to do with his life?
A sharp rap on the door caused him to sit up straight in his chair. “Come in,” he answered.
The large door opened to reveal his mother standing in the threshold. Her face smiled as she swept into the room with the long train of her shimmering blue robes trailing behind her on the carpet.
“Good morning,” she observed him through slits of silver, much like his own.
“Good morning, Mama,” he tried to smile, but only stared at the curious expression on her face. “What?”
His mother sat down in the green chintz chair on the other side of his desk. Her eyes scanned his workspace critically – from the precariously placed inkwell to the heaps of parchment stacked in front of him. With a loud sigh, she leaned back in her chair with her hands clasped tightly on her knee.
“You know, your father used to keep this desk tidy,” her tone was light, but Lucius sensed something more malignant in her meaning. Her eyes flickered to the portrait above their heads for a brief moment before settling on her son.
He felt the flush creep up his neck, but concentrated on his own neat script etched over the surface of the paper he held in front of him. It was a copy of an old letter he’d written to Smythe – irrelevant and useless – but she didn’t know that.
“You disappeared after the funeral yesterday,” she began again, realising he ignored her baiting.
“Did I?” he responded, not taking his eyes from the parchment.
“Lucius,” Adeline paused, drumming her fingers against her bent knee.
He placed the paper purposefully on the table and stared back at her. “Could you blame me?”
She smiled sadly at her son, and silence fell between them. “No, I suppose not,”
Lucius sat back in his high backed chair, the leather creaked ever so slightly at the shift in his weight. He knew she wanted him to ask about the visit to the family’s mausoleum, but he wasn’t ready to talk about that. He didn’t think he ever would. He met her eyes, and saw something flicker there. Regret? Sadness? He wasn’t sure.
“What time did you get in last night?” she changed the topic completely, but not willfully.
“Late, I suppose.” He muttered, “I didn’t check the time,”
She nodded slowly. “Did you go to the club?”
He raised an eyebrow, she never asked him all this before. “No,”
She frowned. He could see the wheels spinning in her head now, because this wasn’t the way she wanted this to go. She planned this from the moment she stepped into his study – something she hadn’t done in months.
“I went into London for a while, I needed a little break.” It wasn’t a lie, but it wasn’t the whole truth either.
She nodded slowly; her eyes peered over his head once again at the portrait. Her face was bent into a frown; it was as if they were having an unspoken argument between the two of them. Her cool eyes flickered back and forth until she finally broke away. Lucius watched her all the while with an expressionless face, but his mind raced.
After a momentous pause, Adeline Malfoy spoke again, “Lucius, you are twenty-three now,” she began. “Your father and I – we thought it might benefit you to establish yourself in society,”
She sat stiffly in her chair, raised to her full height and a grave expression etched on her ageing face. All the while, her eyes focussed on a spot on the wall behind his ear.
“Establish myself in society?” Lucius repeated, sitting forward.
“Yes, we’d planned by now that you might have a job,”
“A job?” Lucius scoffed. “I already have a job!”
He placed his hands on his knees, so that she wouldn’t see them shake. Six years he’s been gone, but still nothing ever changes. She continued to bend to his every whim.
Adeline shook her head, “This isn’t a job, Lucius. You took it upon yourself to do it.”
“Who else was supposed to take care of you, Mother?” he snapped. “You, and his house,”
“Lucius,” her voice raised an octave, “Please keep your voice down,”
“Mother, he left it all to me,” he curled his hands into fists.
She raised a hand to stop him, “While that may be so, my dear boy, I’m perfectly capable of taking care of myself. And you know, you’ve always had an eye for politics, why not start there? The Ministry is often looking for young people to do that sort of work,”
Lucius rolled his eyes, “Only as an observer, Mother, nothing more.”
“Yes, but what girl will want to marry you if you haven’t got a job,”
Of course, he thought, this is what it was about in the end. “Isn’t my money enough?” he gave her a grim smile.
She glared at him, her lips trembled with more emotion than he ever expected from her. “This is 1977; most girls don’t like men who just sit on their bums doing nothing.”
With that, she gathered her extensive robes about her, and swept from the room leaving her son to stare after her in surprise. Above him, the man in the portrait cleared his throat, but whatever he was about to say was lost to the weight of the curtains that suddenly covered him. Lucius slammed his wand down on the table with a scowl. The papers blew across the desk nursing singed edges, but he ignored them. His mother’s words struck a chord in him as they replayed in his mind. Not because they made him think of Siobhan, but it made him wonder for the first time in his twenty-three years about his parents’ marriage.
Author's Note: Thanks to Amanda, Laura, and Missy, and everyone else who has read and reviewed so far. I really appreciate it. If you have any questions, feel free to drop me a line :)
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