Lucius Malfoy And The Gift Of Mercy
"You're so tanned, Ron," was all Hermione could say.
"You're so " Ron struggled. "So naked," he finished, in a strangled voice.
"Well, you caught me at a rather bad time," said Hermione, leaning against the doorframe, casually immodest.
"I can see that."
"Viktor and I were in the middle of a scrabble game. You didn't want to join us, did you?"
"I'm joking. Viktor's away in Bulgaria, visiting his family."
Ron peered around the edge of the door.
"Oh, John's just a slave of mine," said Hermione, following his gaze. "I've another two sleeping in the laundry at the moment. You'd never believe how enjoyable it is to be a bona fide dominatrix. With the money I make out of this, I managed to leave my old job. It's very fullfilling, to be your own boss. Would you like a cup of tea?"
"Actually, no," said Ron. He was now doing his best not to look anywhere but at Hermione's face which meant his head was currently tilted upwards to a fourty five degree angle. "I just dropped by to check I mean, I heard the news about Draco and Harry. Even the papers in Africa carried it on the front page. What's the latest news? Last piece of information I got, Lucius Malfoy had imprisoned them both in his basement."
"It was either that," said Hermione, "or let them be sent to a real jail. This is the worst calamity in wizard-Muggle relations for the past five hundred years, you know. I was very shocked. Horrified, even."
"You look very shocked," said Ron.
"I am," said Hermione, who didn't look shocked in the slightest. "But they're lucky Lucius is keeping them locked up. I wouldn't like to think what people would do to them if they got out. Even Harry's fame wouldn't protect them. I heard that people were burning the two of them in effigy in Diagon Alley. It should blow over soon but right now, I don't like their chances outside."
"What about in Africa?" Ron asked.
Hermione frowned. She recognised a quiet defiance in the subtlety of his question she knew the way Ron's mind worked. "Give me ten minutes," she said. "I'll get dressed, and then we can go somewhere and talk."
Ten minutes later they were airborne.
From the dragon's back Hermione could see the spires of London in the far distance, as they drifted just below the clouds. She was surprised that the breeders Ron worked for had let him take a dragon out for a long, cross-continental flight but apparently Ron was one of their best employees, or so he had hinted, in his infuriatingly offhand way.
She'd never understood what people saw in dragons until now they were far too large, too coarse for Hermione's liking; she was a cat-person, after all. But now, floating above the world, she could understand why Ron loved his job. It suited him, this carefree lifestyle though of course, he couldn't spend all his time in the air. He'd have to muck out those same dragons every day, tend to them, feed them but she supposed to his eyes it was worth it.
"You can't honestly be thinking about trying to break them out of there," she said, quietly. "As I said it's far more dangerous for them on the outside than on the inside. And you know what Lucius is like. Harry says he spoils Draco to death. I don't believe they could want for anything."
"How about freedom?" said Ron.
"With the way they use their freedom," said Hermione, "I think it's rather better they stay locked up. At any rate, all they've done for the past few months is ponder about that damned manor, living off Lucius' money. A waste, really."
Ron stared at her. "I thought Harry was your best friend," he said.
"Oh, Ron, really," said Hermione. "That was in school. I see him sometimes, but not often it's nice to catch up, but we've sort of drifted apart. I have Viktor now.."
"Can he pronounce your name yet?" Ron asked.
Hermione looked a little ruffled. "We're working on it," she admitted.
"Good grief," said Ron, staring away from her, across the dragon's scaley green shoulder. "You know, of all the people I'd expected to give a hand, I felt most sure that you'd stand by me. And Harry."
"Times change, Ron," said Hermione, bluntly. "I can't help Harry any more. I offered once, and he turned me down. It's his life, now. I can't say I don't sympathise with his plight, but I'm not about to drop everything and run to his rescue especially when it's his own fault he got into this mess. I'm sure Lucius is taking care of things."
"He has them locked up!" Ron said, sharply.
"For their own good," Hermione retorted. "Listen, Ron I don't want you to get into any trouble but this is dangerous. I really advise you, very strongly, not to do anything rash."
"For goodness sake." Ron tugged a little on the dragon's ear, guiding it in a new direction. They swung a loop over a thatch of forest, and began to fly off the way they had come. Hermione sighed, playing with the lace of her gloves.
"Nothing I can do to change your mind?" she asked.
"Not hardly," said Ron. "I owe Harry quite a lot, really. Especially after the fiasco with Draco. I'm not going to leave him to rot in Lucius' dungeon."
"Basement," Hermione corrected.
"You know the Malfoys."
"Okay, dungeon," said Hermione, miffed. It was her turn to stare away.
When they reached the corner of Hermione's street, Ron brought the dragon to earth it perched agilely on the edge of the pavement. Strangely enough, none of the regular Muggle commuters appeared to notice it.
"Isn't it a little dangerous, parking your dragon here?" Hermione asked.
"Not really. This dragon's been charmed by our breeders to appear un-dragonlike to anyone who I haven't recognised by name. A new trick they've only just started in Africa we were the first to come up with it. To everyone else, the dragon looks like just an ordinary Muggle contraption a booze bus when landed, and a goodyear blimp when flying."
Hermione raised an eyebrow, but dismounted without further comment. "Will I see you again?" she asked, gazing up at him, and the crest of his red hair.
"Maybe. You can visit Harry and I in Africa."
He took off, wheeling into the air. Hermione waved for a few minutes, and then when he was no more than a speck on the horizon she went back inside.
"You said you'd some connections in the Ministry, last I heard of it," said Lucius, leaning his elbows against the windowpane. He held the dragon medallion between his fingers occasionally tossing it into the air and catching it, in a way Serverus found completely unnerving. "Still trying to elbow your way into a more respectable job? How very middle class of you." There was no malice in his voice; his dusky drawl remained placidly uninvolved.
"I've a few connections," said Serverus, shrugging. "Though if you're going to ask me to pull strings for you well, I'm not interested. I finished pulling strings for people a long time ago."
"Really, Serverus. Do you think I can't pull strings on my own?"
"No. If you could, your son wouldn't be locked up in your basement, without any near hope of being allowed out into the free world."
Lucius' eyes flickered. "It is a shame," he murmured. "People can be so biased, sometimes. If he hadn't been my son, it would be different the Ministry usually listens to me. But I assure you, Serverus Draco would be locked up in there whether the Ministry ordered it or not. Spare the wand, spoil the child. I'm determined that he'll come out of this a better person. Of course, all this publicity hurts me far more than it hurts them."
He seemed to be being honest but with Lucius, you could never tell. Serverus had come to the conclusion that Lucius had only invited him because he wanted Serverus to offer some political backing but apparently Lucius couldn't care less about that, either. Serverus wondered, in a half-worried way, whether or not Lucius might be going off the rails too.
He was desperate to get out of the manor. The threat of the dragons that Lucius was adamant would arrive scared him. Serverus wasn't a large fan of dragons, or anything which was large enough to squash him when it sat. And all those Muggles out there, chanting their songs and waving their torches they'd be toasted, and the Ministry would have an even larger calamity on their hands. Two kids fucking on a broomstick was one thing. But two thousand dead Muggles, burnt to a crisp by dragons? It didn't bear thinking about.
But Serverus found he couldn't leave, not yet. Lucius was leading him along all sorts of puzzling trails, hinting in small ways at something that linked them, deep in their interwound past. Serverus' curiousity outweighed his apprehension. He'd have to wait. He'd have to find out what Lucius was suggesting, in his cryptic way.
"You said you'd done things for me," Serverus said, speaking bluntly if he tried to be subtle with the man, no doubt Lucius would attempt to to sidetrack the conversation into something more banal. "What exactly were you thinking about?"
"I told you I'd tell you later," drawled Lucius, with that smirk of his returning to his pale features. "Or perhaps I won't even tell you later, if you're going to be so impatient. It's the sort of thing people shouldn't know about other people, really. Rather private. But I felt I'm not sure. An impulse, perhaps? I felt I should get it off my chest."
"So get it off your chest," Serverus snapped.
"I don't think so. There are Ministry spies hiding out in the gardens, making sure I'm keeping Draco and Harry under lock and key. I wouldn't want them to hear what I'm going to tell you. As I said it's rather private." Lucius yawned. "We'll have to wait for the dragons."
"About those dragons " Serverus began, and then stopped, short. Over Lucius' shoulder, he could see a speck in the distance, which was ever so gradually moving closer across the span of the horizon. A dragon, Serverus was certain. His heart beat upped a notch. He was torn between leaving and staying; he began to wring his hands without realising he was doing it.
"You have very flexible wrists," Lucius noted.
"All the better to "
"handle a wand." Lucius raised a pale eyebrow. "What ever did you think I was going to say?"
Serverus felt ashamed. "Nothing."
"It wasn't about masturbation, was it?"
"Well, yes no. No it wasn't. My gods, Lucius."
"You've been spending far too much time in that silly little school," said Lucius. "You really need to get out and meet some women." He glanced toward the trapdoor. "I have a couple down there, if you'd like to "
"Veela, actually. They're rather unpredictable. Which is why it's necessary to chain them down. At least, if you aren't used to handling "
"Lucius. Please. Stop." Serverus pressed his hands to his forehead. "I think I'm getting a migraine."
"That's sexual tension, for you."
Serverus looked daggers at him, but Lucius didn't notice he was staring at his perfectly manicured nails.
"I don't know why you're so worried about those dragons," said Lucius, calmly. "They were your idea, after all. Didn't you say that you could clear all the Muggles away with a herd of dragons?"
"It was a figure of speech, dammit."
"Such a shame. I must have misinterpreted you," Lucius drawled. "Too late now. Here they come."
Leaning into the dragon's neck, Ron coasted low over the villages, trying to recall the exact location of the manor. It had been two years since he'd visited England, and he was struggling to get his bearings. Was it East or West? He wasn't certain, and couldn't make out the familiar turrets of the manor. He was about to try East, for the hell of it, when the dragon suddenly shifted it's direction without warning.
The dragon wheeled in the air and began to flap its way determinedly off, at a much faster speed. Ron hung on, pressing his body against the scales. Originally he'd imagined the dragon had seen something edible, which would have been a large problem, but nothing he hadn't had to deal with before. But the dragon didn't dip any lower as it flew. Perhaps it was scared? A fifty foot monster afraid of anything? Ron didn't know. He tried to lull the creature to a halt, but the dragon wasn't listening.
Preparing himself for the worst, Ron raised his wand he'd force the creature to land, if he had to. But then, beyond the whoosh of the dragon's wings, he heard other sounds, the air filling with a sudden shreiking. Dragon cries. Ron turned his head to see four other lizards stream towards him, all heading for the same place.
The medallion, Ron thought, suddenly remembering the odd object Draco had found in the volcano tunnel. As soon as the idea struck him, he knew he had to be right. Nothing else would call so many dragons in, so fast. Someone must have dug up the shiney green disk by accident.. Ron groaned, internally. He wondered why trouble just had to start happening when he came into town.
There was nothing he could do except hope that whoever had the medallion now knew how to protect themselves against dragons. He flattened himself again on the dragon's body, and peered over the scales to scan the ground below. It was getting dark, but he could make out the shapes of the trees, and then a small village, and then
Well, Ron figured, it wasn't such a big surprise to see the manor's towers in the distance. That was where they'd left the medallion and trouble always seemed to circulate around Draco's pretty blonde skull, like some malformed halo of destruction. Ron sighed.
As they grew closer, Ron could make out just below them a scattering of small, red lights, from inside the manor gates. Were they having a party, then? Ron leaned closer, to get a better look. No those weren't candles, they were torches. He could make out faces now, dressed in ordinary Muggle clothes, standing about on the lawns, their faces tinged red in the firelight.
One of the dragons further ahead of him suddenly swooped downwards, a kamikaze dive, heading straight for the Muggles.
Ron opened his mouth to scream a warning, knowing even as he did so that it wouldn't help.
Lucius and Serverus watched from the window as one large dragon reeled away from the flock, and began a nose dive towards the ground. The Muggles scattered, screaming, as it ploughed on, almost vertical in the sky. Serverus pressed his nose to the glass, his fingers tightening into fists of desperation. If only he hadn't waited, if only Lucius hadn't beguiled him with facile conversation. He could have saved some of those Muggles, Serverus knew. He hated himself, passionately, for letting himself be tricked.
But the dragon reared before it hit the ground. It appeared to have bounced off something, an invisible line some four metres above the lawns. Confused, and shaking it's head rather wildly, the dragon tried again, but to no avail. Below, the Muggles were making it off to safety, running out through the gates, and taking their flaming torches with them.
Serverus turned to stare at Lucius, his face whitening.
"Oh," said Lucius. "Did I forget to mention we had some anti-dragon barriers set up? Narcissa is very protective of her roses. After the last time Draco brought dragons home she insisted we get one fixed up. Funny, how these trivial things come in useful."
"You didn't really think I'd kill all those Muggles?" said Lucius. "Hardly. Infact, I'll even go so far as to magick up a sign on the front gate. In very small print, of course but it should be enough to ward off any more complaints from the Ministry. 3D holographic dragon construction or something to that effect, which should explain things quite nicely to the Muggles later."
He yawned. "You'd be amazing what Muggles will believe, if it's written in fine print. And wizards, too. I have a great uncle in broomstick insurance. A distant uncle, I should say. We don't really associate with insurance salesmen. Though if you're interested, I could probably give you an address Oh."
They both looked out the window.
"Well, that was unexpected," said Lucius, finally.
"That was a goodyear blimp, wasn't it?" said Serverus.
"Yes. I think so."
"I'm glad you saw it too. I thought I was going mad."
"It's still there," said Lucius.
"So it is."
They watched the blimp.
"Handles very nicely, for a Muggle contraption," said Serverus.
"Yes. Yes it does."
"It seems to bounce off the barrier," said Serverus. "It could just be a very oddly shaped dragon."
"It has goodyear written on the side," said Lucius.
Lucius looked at his fingernails. Serverus tried not to look at the blimp.
"Anyway," said Lucius.
"Yes," said Serverus.
"You wanted me to tell you about what I'd done for you, Serverus," said Lucius, picking up his conversational stride. "I think while the last Muggles are running for their lives now is a good time to explain it all to you."
Harry ached. He'd been in the box for a week, and his neck, his shoulders, his legs were wracked with cramps, not to mention the fact that his upper body was torn to shreds by the nails. He almost wept at the pain as Draco hoisted him out of the coffin. The Veela, from their ouchie-chairs, applauded as best they could with their shackled hands.
"A reunion. How pretty. Perhaps we will see some sex, now."
"I'm not sure I want to see that," said a second Veela. "What is the point in seeing it if we can't play, too?"
"Perhaps we should ask the little boy nicely to find that stick he was talking about earlier."
"Would you Veela just shut the fuck up," Draco yelled, clasping the collapsed Harry to his chest. Harry groaned unhappily, using all his powers of concentration to will himself to remain on his feet. He gripped Draco's arm for support, unsteadily.
"I don't think I can stand," he gasped, into Draco's shoulder.
"This is good," said a Veela, tossing her long blonde hair. "You will do much better work on your knees."
Draco reached for the nearest thing to him a long pole with a chain attached and threw it at them. The Veelas squealed in unison.
"Look, we have a stick to play with."
"Such a lovely, thoughtful boy."
"I think I'm going to be sick," said Harry, weakly.
"You aren't the only one." Draco muttered. Half carrying and half helping Harry to walk, he managed to manouver the man to the opposite end of the dungeon, out of sight of the Veela, but not out of earshot their high pitched squeaks cluttered the dank underground air. Gently, Draco touched Harry's chest, running his fingers over the sore spots. Harry flinched.
"They aren't very deep," said Draco, finally. "If I had my wand I could heal them in a second. You should be okay. Won't even leave a scar."
Harry leant his back against the wall, and stared up at the ceiling, regarding the array of chains and other odd medieval torture equipment which hung there. "I just want to get out of here," he muttered, in a small voice.
"Let me get you some food." Draco rose, leaving Harry slumped against the wall, and padded back into the centre of the room. Lucius sent down house elves once a day, with bread and water. There was some left, as far as Draco recalled, beside the piranah tank. Draco smirked, slightly, picking up the tray. Obviously, when Lucius said bread and water, he hadn't specified what sort of bread and water to the house elf.
The only bread the Malfoy household stocked was expensive, flavoured when they had bread at all. Yesterday, the elf had brought down croissants and donuts, and today it was cake the closest thing it could find to bread, Draco supposed. It might be dark and damp down there, but they weren't likely to starve.
He walked back with the tray to Harry. "Please don't ask me what the Veela are doing," he said, handing Harry a slice of cake.
"Trust me, I don't want to know," said Harry.
They finished off the rest of the cake in silence. Draco began to figet.
"You know, that cousin of mine I'm supposed to procreate with supposedly looks like a Veela," he said. "Maybe if I throw a stick at her she'll be suffiently confused for me to be able to make a get away."
"Still, you're going to have to do it sometime," said Harry, munching. "If only for your father's sake. After all, you don't want to annoy Lucius any more than you already have."
Draco narrowed his eyes. "Any more than we- already have, you mean. It's your fault as much as mine. More so, actually it was your bloody idea."
Harry sighed. It had been too much to hope that Draco wouldn't bring this up, in the end. "It was joke, originally," he said, quietly.
"A joke? What do you mean, a joke?" Draco made a motion, indicating their gloomy surrounds. "You think this is funny? Why the hell didn't you mention to me that it was a joke?"
"Well, you seemed to think it was such a good idea I didn't want to let you down," said Harry, staring down at his bloody robes.
"No. No. You won't lay this on me, Potter," Draco snapped. "As I recall it, you tried to camoflague one of your many fetishes in the guise of small talk, and I was clever enough to pick up on it. I thought you- wanted it. As if I'd ever be interested in doing anything a Muggle would do."
"Oh? So it's all my fault?"
"Yes. I rather think it is."
"It takes two to fuck on a broomstick," Harry said, glaring myopicly at him. "And Ron, too? Was that my fault?"
Draco shrugged. "Maybe. You ran off, remember?"
"I ran off? Of course I did. You practically told me you were leaving me," Harry said rather louder than he'd intended. "Does this mean that every time I walk away you feel obliged to jump on the first thing that moves?"
"Don't see why not. I'm not getting any younger, right?" Draco smirked. "There's plenty more fish in the ocean, as they say. You want to run away, and hell you expect me to wait up? I don't think so, Harry."
"You " Harry was lost for words. He staggered to his feet, and clambered away.
"Trying to run again, Harry?" Draco teased. "Good luck doing it in here, in your state." He snickered. "I guess while you're walking into walls I might practise a little on the Veela. Got to stay in shape for my cousin."
"You disgust me."
"Watch it, Potter. There's an ouchie-chair in here with your name on it."
"Oh, so you'd tie me up, now?" Harry growled. "You're as bad as Lucius."
That got a rise out of Draco. He stood, bristling. "Don't talk about my father like that," he spat. "After all he's done for you. Fed you, clothed you, gave you a home."
"Yeah. And managed to get me stuck in a room with a basilisk, almost got my friends killed, tried to cast a powerful Dark Arts spell on me, and oh, before I forget, locked me up in a dungeon with his asshole of a son. Gee, I feel so grateful. Excuse me if I don't fall to my knees and thank the gods for the benevolent grace of Lucius bloody Malfoy."
Draco smirked. "The Veela are right, you know," he said. "Falling to your knees and simpering is all you're any good for."
"Fuck you. I'm the Boy that Lived," said Harry, realising how weak the words sounded as they left his lips. "I don't have to take this."
"So run away, Harry," said Draco, stretching ambivilantly. "Because frankly, my dear, I no longer give a damn."
Harry stumbled to the trapdoor, and threw his fists against the wood above his head.
"Lucius!" he screamed. "Let me out now!"
Back in the study, Lucius poured Serverus another glass of wine. Serverus, twitching with curiousity, almost drunk the entire thing in one gulp.
"Well, Lucius?" he said. "What is this all about?"
Lucius smiled, slightly a quaver in the corner of his lips. "Remember our days in Hogwarts?" he asked. "You and me, and Narcissa and the Marauders, of course.."
"Yes, I remember," Serverus snapped. "Come on, Malfoy."
"Do you recall the day the Marauders trapped me on the roof?" Lucius asked. "They had a potion of some sort I do hope you remember."
"Yes Pettigrew said it was some sort of transgender potion. Wouldn't have worked, though. I checked the book Lupin used, afterwards. He'd managed to mix it all up Lupin was never brilliant at potions."
"Wouldn't it have?" said Lucius, smiling slightly. "Oh, Serverus. You would be surprised.."
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