Chapter 1 : the futurist.
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And the difference between what you want and what you need,
Is if you're heart’s not safe at night,
It's much harder to sleep.
—The Futurist, Something for Kate
Redemption. You read the word in all its fragility, as fine as a unicorn hair, yet the meaning is strong. It’s versatile. The definition unwinds and twists and turns between people, changing and morphing into something beautiful to achieve. It is a goal; it is a trait, and a representation of a person.
But not for him.
Lucius Malfoy was not a man who sought redemption; as far as he was concerned, there was nothing to redeem. He did what was right—what was expected of him after a long family line of impressive, dark wizards. Redemption. He read the word, in all its prejudice. The meaning was feeble and his face barely acknowledged anything past its already neutral expression. As far as Lucius was concerned, you would only need redemption if you felt regret.
And he would never regret.
Lucius’ warning comes too late, and he is thrown across the room from the explosion and sent tumbling some metres away. He feels himself slipping in and out of consciousness, a tangled mess of bloody robes and limbs, but he tells himself that it is just his physical form. With shaky arms and deep breaths, he forces himself onto his hands and knees.
A few seconds pass as he tries to regain control of his situation. All he can hear are shouts and screams around him; all he can see is the dark swallowing him. The smell of burning flesh and smoke fill his nostrils, and it causes his head to spin and stomach to churn. His lungs are filling with the putrid air and he begins to retch, coughing up a thick brown liquid.
A rough hand grabs a handful of his robes from behind, jolting him to some form of consciousness and dragging him behind a large oak table that has been turned on its side. He is thrown down on the floor, the cold stone hitting his cheekbone and sending painful shockwaves across his face.
Stars are swimming before his eyes. A groan escapes his lips and he tries to lift himself up off the floor. Above the screams and shouts, he can hear the man who grabbed him calling his name over and over. It sparks something inside of Lucius, and he finds the strength to lift himself up, finding a place to lean his back against the table. It shakes and cracks loudly from the number of curses hitting the front, but for the moment, he is safe.
He looks over to see the worried black eyes of his brother-in-law staring back at him. He breaks into an evil grin when he sees that Lucius is awake.
“Your wand.” Rodolphus shoves a long black stick into Lucius’ chest, winding him temporarily. “I don’t know what the hell that explosion was.”
“Muggle ‘grenades’!” a man on the opposite end of the room shouts. His voice is barely audible above the din. “Shoulda known the Order would play dirty!”
Lucius’ grey eyes sweep across the end of the room he and his fellow companions occupy. Since the explosion, they have turned over numerous tables for cover and taken refuge behind fallen pillars. It is strange for him to see this once-normal, organised and proper office building completely destroyed. It is chaotic, and he despises it.
Taking a deep breath, Lucius temporarily moves from his cover and flicks his wand, not uttering a sound. A witch who had been standing some metres away, barraging their table with curses, is hit with the bright green light and she crumples unceremoniously to the floor.
His heart jumps a beat at this sight, and he feels the adrenaline scream its way through his veins. The pain he previously felt leaves him, and he breathes heavily with renewed vigour.
“How many of us are left?” he yells at Rodolphus.
“Uh.” Rodolphus is caught off-guard by the question with his head above the table. A curse shoots past his face, missing him by centimetres and ruffling his hair. “Not enough.”
“How many?” Lucius yells, barely pulling himself back in time as another curse flies towards them.
Rodolphus hesitates again, and Lucius brings his wand under the giant man’s chin threateningly. His grey eyes flash dangerously. This is not a time for games, they seem to hiss. Rodolphus knows he would not hesitate to curse him, no matter what family ties they hold.
“How. Many,” Lucius repeats. His voice is a whisper, but Rodolphus can hear the intimidation clearly above the chaotic noise.
Lucius curses loudly in response to this, taking his wand away from his brother-in-law’s face. Rodolphus jumps up immediately and continues to throw curses across the mezzanine, but Lucius remains down. His mind has already planted the seeds of doubt, and he leans with his back against the table and sighs.
He never pictured himself dying like this. He is not a man who sought an honourable death, where he fights for his cause to his last dying breath. In fact, at the young age of 25, he hasn’t given much thought to death at all before now. That is—and always has been—his wife’s job; there is nothing Narcissa loves to do more than to fret about his safety.
A curse from across the room causes the table sanctuary to shake violently, and a loud snapping noise sounds behind him as a crack forms diagonally across the desk. Rodolphus yells in fear, and a few other Death Eaters shout proclamations of surprise. It is not long before the desk will collapse, exposing him and Rodolphus to their deaths.
“We need a plan!” somebody shouts. “Malfoy, you’re the boss!”
Lucius’s head snaps up, just in time to watch as the man who called him fall rigid on the floor, spell hitting him square in the chest. He swallows heavily as he sees a witch run up to the body, grabbing his hand and pressing her fingers into his wrist. She is still for the moment, until she shakes her head sadly and drops his hand. She doesn’t move from his cover, crouching by the dead man and wiping away her tears.
It is only then that Lucius realises they look exactly alike.
The twin’s agony is enough to pull him out of his melancholy, and Lucius straightens himself up. They may not be getting out alive, but he’ll be damned if the Order of the Phoenix do as well.
He quickly sweeps further down the mezzanine, dodging curses and taking place up the back behind a large, marble pillar. Others see his intentions and follow his path. The group of Death Eaters huddle together, some casting protection spells and others sending curses this way and that. They are all waiting for his orders, like puppets. He almost feels sorry for them, blissfully unaware of his suicidal plan.
A quick head count reveals six, minus himself and Rodolphus. It’s not much, but he really has no choice.
“Plan?” a woman asks, buckling under the force of curses hitting her shield-spell.
“We’ll split up, into pairs.” Lucius cast his eyes over them, seeing that they were already relatively paired off. “You two cast protection spells, walking towards the Order, as these two follow behind throwing all the curses you can. Rodolphus and I will take the left side, and the two that are left take the right. We’ll hopefully be able to flank them... Understood?”
“That’s ... Suicide,” the woman who spoke before manages.
A few nervous glances are exchanged at her words, but no one is willing to take a stand against Malfoy—The Dark Lord had given them strict instructions to listen to him, no matter what the cost.
With some half-hearted nods, the Death Eaters take off in their respective pairs. Rodolphus and Lucius crouch low as they make their way across the mezzanine, keeping close to the wall and staying out of sight.
Rodolphus is fuming. “You’re sending us all to our deaths, you know?” he spits. “Including yourself.”
Lucius stops, turning around and sneering at him. “Do you have a better plan, Lestrange?” When Rodolphus doesn’t reply, Lucius lets out a small, satisfactory laugh. “Let’s go.”
Gripping his wand tightly, he turns back around, mind racing with thoughts. However, only one is consistent: Narcissa. He had not said goodbye to her before he left, choosing to take the night’s task in secret. He hadn’t wanted to worry her; to hear her pleads for him not to go.
Now he would never hear her voice again. He curses himself inwardly—he should have just seen her before he left. Told her that he loves her, with every fibre of his being...
They are about to continue down the room, when a man from the Order unexpectedly flies out from behind the stone pillar in front of them. He hits the wall with such force that he ends up falling through the other side, revealing a shadowy corridor in the walls interior. He lay completely still on the ground, clearly dead.
After a few confused glances, Lucius slowly straightens himself, pressing up against the wall and sticking to the shadows. He makes sure that nobody is watching as he peeks down at the man, not willing to be caught off-guard with a curse. It is some time before he realises that he did not fall through the wall at all. There had been a door there—a door to escape.
Lucius hesitates. He is aware that the Death Eaters still need him, but the notion of his family has him grabbing the front of Rodolphus’ robes and dragging him into the corridor without a secondary thought. Ignoring his brother-in-law’s angry protests, Lucius closes the door quickly and lights up his wand in the dark. The sounds of the battle are cut off, and the two Death Eaters are plunged into a stifling silence.
Rodolphus stares at him. “They can’t possibly live without us!”
Lucius disregards him, taking to a light jog. His muscles are searing from the pain, but he pays no mind—he needs to get away from that door before somebody realises where they went.
He is nearly at the end of the corridor when Rodolphus catches his arm, preventing him from entering the next room.
“You butchered them all, for your own gain.” Rodolphus’ eyes are full of distaste. “The Dark Lord won’t like this.”
The blonde man glares at him, grey eyes flashing dangerously. “And he won’t ever find out, will he, Lestrange?”
Before Rodolphus can answer, Lucius wrenches his arm from his grasp and is gone with a loud crack. The man stands there for some time, shaking with anger, before he, too, disappears.
17 years later::,
Once the clock strikes three in the morning, winter descends on Malfoy Manor. With all the inhabitants asleep, it is as if the giant building rests itself after a long day of August sunlight and visitors. To walk through the hallways at this time of night takes effort—the darkness and silence are so thick, the action of movement is reminiscent of swimming in a lake. There is no fear, though—the home is safe and familiar, hidden away from the dangers of the rest of the world.
A sixteen-year-old boy slips out of his room, hissing loudly when his feet touch the cold marble outside. He knows that his room is reasonably warmer than the rest of the house, as it greedily hogs most of the day’s sunlight through the large ornate window; but he did not realise just how cold the rest of the mansion was. He contemplates retrieving his socks, but he knows it would waste the precious seconds that he needs.
Ignoring the burning ice tiles beneath his feet as best he can, Draco Malfoy takes to a quick walk, trying to stay as silent as the house he was in. He is doing his best to keep up with his father’s retreating figure, staying a steady five steps behind him at all times.
He knows he is doing something wrong. He should not have been up in the first place, yet ever since Harry Potter’s proclamation of the Dark Lord’s return, Draco has been curious. At first, he thought Potter was just being his delusional self, babbling about things that were way beyond his—and even Draco’s—understanding. But ten nights ago he had heard his father sneak out of Malfoy Manor’s master bedroom in the early hours of the morning, gripping his forearm tightly and hurrying for the door.
Every night since then, his father has done the same thing. Tonight is the night Draco will find out the truth.
The light from Lucius’ cane guides them through the Manor and down the flight of stairs, where Draco stops to crouch on a step and watch his father through the bars. The man takes his robes off the coat rack, donning them over his suit in one swift movement. He is no more than a black shadow now, looking as harmless as a man who is ready to attend a business meeting.
But he is not. It is three in the morning, on a Saturday.
Lucius Malfoy turns to the large door on his right, ready to open it and leave the Manor, blissfully unaware of the vigilant eyes watching him. Before he can leave, however, Draco stands up, confidence and curiosity encouraging him to question his father, despite every fibre of his being screaming that it is a bad idea.
“Where are you going?”
The sound of his son’s voice causes Lucius to spin around faster than Draco had ever seen him move. There is a long silence, in which Lucius regards him very carefully, face a perfect mask. He is a rabbit in the wandlight, but the man’s usual dominating and fathering demeanour towards his son does not falter.
“What have I told you about things that don’t concern you, Draco? Go back to bed.”
His tone reminds Draco of the reprimands his father would give him when he was younger, and the teen is annoyed that Lucius still thinks it will work on him. He is not a child anymore, and he is making sure his dad doesn’t leave without an explanation.
“Does mum know?” Draco asks as Lucius turns back to the door. The man freezes at the question. “This isn’t the first time you’ve done it this week... Does she know about those other times too?”
Guilt weighs itself heavily on Lucius’ chest. No, Narcissa did not know. When she had asked if the Dark Lord was truly back, Lucius had lied to her, knowing that a better opportunity to break the news will arise. She is too emotional about his safety, and he cannot stand seeing her upset.
He knows that she is becoming suspicious, though—Lucius’ eyes are purple-rimmed due to lack of sleep, and he is constantly touching his own arm where the Dark Mark burns in his skin. The woman is too smart to ignore the signs.
And, apparently, so is his son.
“What I tell you mother is, again Draco, none of your concern. Go. Back. To. Bed.”
He empathises every word, and there is a real anger behind them; a warning.
Silence ensues, heavy with secrets. The manor itself shudders at Lucius’ words, and the guilt crushes his chest, as if Nagini herself has a hold of him.
“Father...” Draco pleads, breaking the stillness. The previous curiosity and confidence in his voice left as if it had never been there, and he takes a tentative step down the stairs.
Lucius bows his head, closing his eyes momentarily. He can feel the cracks showing—the once powerful, egocentric and confident man is now fighting inner daemons that he could not possibly win against, or even comprehend.
He knows what it is; the question that is on his, Narcissa, and Draco’s minds. The choice that would determine his fate; his family’s fate. The difficult and agonising choice between the Dark Lord and the ones he loves.
He knows the answer. And he is not—and will never be—powerful enough to change it.
“Get some rest, Draco. We’ll get your school books tomorrow.”
Lucius exits the house, leaving his son standing in the cold dark, alone in more ways than one. The word regret is twisting and turning through Lucius’ mind, and he find himself swearing upon every higher power and Malfoy ancestor that he will never, ever leave his son alone again.
He had hoped that he would never have to step foot in Azkaban. The place is colder than any winter he had seen, and the dread sets heavy in his chest with the weight of a dragon. Fortunately, there are no Dementors around, but it doesn’t appear to provide much solace.
Lucius turns to the shivering group behind him.
“Head that way,” he says, waving to the door behind him. “Release all you see that have been left in here, chained. Leave my family to me, though.”
He says the last part with force, and the Death Eaters all nod before disappearing. It isn’t long before he takes after them, robes fluttering behind him with his determined pace, mind on Rodolphus. He has not seen his brother-in-law since that night, and Lucius is ready to show him that he did make the right choice. Those Death Eaters died for the cause of the Dark Lord, just how they wanted it.
Like how he wanted it—before Cissy. Before Draco.
He stops outside Rodolphus’ cell, surprised to see that the man keeps his head bowed despite the loud footsteps echoing through the prison. Worried about the time they have left, Lucius clears his throat impatiently, tapping the cell door with his wand loudly.
Rodolphus now looks up. His eyes are blank; souless. “The butcher of the mezzanine,” he rasps.
Lucius raises his eyebrows. “Is that what you call me now?” he replies coolly. “Dramatic, Lestrange—it doesn’t suit you.”
“Leave me in here,” Rodolphus says, bowing his head again. “I can make my own way.”
“Don’t be childish,” Lucius snaps, sweeping inside and unlocking the prison chains on Rodolphus’ wrists. “Come on.”
Rodolphus stays kneeling on the floor, and Lucius’ patience is waning.
The prisnor speaks, voice echoing down the silent halls of Azkaban. “Do you save me now, Lucius, for redemption? For those lives you sacrificed for your own?”
Lucius is already out the door, barely glancing Rodolphus’ way as the haunting words follow his path. His reply is final.
“I sacrificed their lives for reasons you could never understand, Lestrange. And I do not need redemption for it.”
The rain begins to pour in sheets across the cemetery, and the forty-year-old man breaks into a quick jog in response. His boots slip slightly in the mud as he veers off the gravel path, weaving in between gravestones and tombs with all the swiftness of a flying phoenix. He seems to have no regard for the dead he passes, not taking his stony gaze off the black, square building ahead.
The space between him and it closes fast, and he steps up to the crypt, barely glancing at the giant ‘M’ that adjourns the large black granite doors as he takes the handle. He pushes it forward with some effort, and they open reluctantly. The unwelcoming smell of dust and cold air rush out towards him, but anything is going to be better than the storm that rages on the outside.
Taking a quiet step inside, he closes the door and lifts up the cane he was holding in his hand. He pulls at the golden snake head on its handle to separate it from the body, and a long, thin stick pulls out. The man gives it a small wave, murmuring to himself under his breath. The wrought iron chandelier that is above him ignites with a woosh, casting an eerie glow across the dark room. It swings on its fixture, and ominous shadows dance across the walls in response.
The man looks at his surrounds. Coffins are neatly stacked on shelves, ranging from elaborate marble to a deep red mahogany. Most of them are covered in a fine layer of dust: save for one.
The man puts his cane back together, hiding his wand once more, and steps up to the newest coffin. It is a large, black marble box, with a golden plaque on its top engraved delicately with a name and date. The stone glitters in the light.
The man lifts his free hand towards the coffin, but hesitates slightly as the emotions steadily cloak him. With his back to the candle chandelier, he is bathed in a shadow, but the tears still manage to catch what bit of light they can as they trickle down his face.
He bows his head as he finally places his hand on the coffin, chest constricting with pain from the memories.
It is cold to touch. Lifeless. But he can feel the energy radiating from it—the power of a man who was once his idol, his teacher, his friend. A strong dark wizard and gentleman, who commanded respect and worship of those who surrounded him.
And it above all, the love of a man who was his father.
Lucius Malfoy may not have ever talked of regret or redemption before he died, but as his son Draco stands in the cold, empty crypt, hand unmoving from the coffin, the world shifts. It is changing, morphing, and revealing a beautiful legacy of love and protection that was left behind—that was started before Draco was even born.
And though there is not another soul alive in the whole cemetery, as Draco Malfoy stands there, he does not feel so alone.
A/N: Thank you so much to MadiMalfoy at the forums for her awesome beta-ing!