How the Malfoy Wealth Was Won (London, 1860)
When I Ruled the World (France, 1917)
Portent (London, 1943)
The Greatest Generation (London, 1945)
It Came Upon a Midnight Clear (New York, 1959)
The Ill-Made Knight (Yorkshire, 1960)
The Setting Sun (Surrey, 1963)
Conviction (London, 1974)
(Baby Don't) Fear the Reaper (London, 1979)
A Woman's Place (Surrey, 1979)
Chronology (Surrey, 1980)
Spy Games (London, 1981)
Only the Dead Have Seen the End of War (Surrey, 1982)
A Handful of Dust (Surrey, 1994)
Cash is in bed with his cousin Eileen when his father walks in. He hasn't seen Abraxas since the old man threw him out of Malfoy House two years before. He was half expecting never to see him again. All he can do now is squeak, “Papa!” and help Ei drag the sheet up so that it covers her breasts. They weren't doing anything, thank Merlin, because if they had been he thinks he probably would have melted the floorboards out of sheer embarrassment.
“Cassius,” his father says with a sneer. “Still quite the revolutionary, I see.” He hands Cash a dressing gown he's pulled from thin air. “Get up. I want a word with you.” And then he stalks out of the bedroom, closing the door behind himself.
“Was that-- your father?” Eileen demands, half hysterical. “In my flat! Cash, what the hell--.”
“I wish I knew,” Cash says, pulling on his trousers and an old wool jumper, and ignoring his father's dressing gown. He ties his hair back as tidily as he can, kisses her on the forehead, and goes to find out.
Abraxas is going through Eileen's books. Cash sloshes firewhiskey into two of the cleanest glasses on the end table, and says, “Come and have a drink, Papa.”
Ei has a particularly fine copy of John Dee's Monas Heiroglyphica, and his father puts it down reluctantly. Abraxas has a terrible reputation among academics, but he is one of the best-read men Cash has ever met. Still, he comes over to the sofa, and takes the glass Cash offers, accepting it like the peace offering it is. “Is that Patrick Prince's daughter? She certainly looks like a Prince.”
“Cassius. I'm sure she's a lovely woman-- from the neck down.”
“Papa, tell me you didn't break into Eileen's flat solely to catch her with her clothes off!”
Abraxas sighs. “Of course not. I used a Location Charm on you, my boy. How was I to know you were having an affaire with Pat Prince's daughter?”
Cash had just gone to sleep when his father interrupted. His head aches with tiredness, and despite the jumper, he's cold. And his father drives him mad, he always has. He sinks down on the sofa and waits for Abraxas to get round to the point.
“Grindelwald is surrendering,” Abraxas says finally, when it's clear Cash isn't going to speculate about how he could have known this was Pat Prince's daughter's flat. “They'll announce it tomorrow.”
Suddenly Cash isn't so tired. “That's magnificent, sir! Congratulations.”
“Thank you,” Abraxas says, as if he actually were personally responsible for the armistice coming about. “The Minister is quite pleased, I needn't tell you.”
“I should think so,” Cash says thinking of the six long years of war, of the thousands dead. All of it, over. He can't quite believe it, not yet.
“I want you to come home,” his father says.
For a moment, Cash doesn't think he's heard him correctly. But of course, this is Abraxas Malfoy, who has made self-interest an art. If the war is over, Cash is no longer a political liability. He wants his son back. And Cash is tempted by it. He could go back to Hogwarts, get his N.E.W.T.S., and then go to the Sorbonne or Bologna or anywhere a couple of Apparition points from Surrey. He's only nineteen. He's tired, and the money he inherited from his mother is gone. And the war is over. Nothing he does now will make it less stupid, or his brother less dead.
If he goes home with Abraxas Malfoy, one of them will be dead within a week. Whatever patience Cash once had, whatever tolerance he mustered, the war has burned away. “I can't,” he says, “it wouldn't work. Not the way you're hoping. I can't go back to being--.” Your son, he could say. Trapped in that house with you, subject to whatever mad whim strikes you at any given moment, worth less than the Malfoy name. “I can't,” he says again, when he can't think of anything else.
“You won't, you mean,” Abraxas says, tossing back his drink, and wandering back to the bookshelf. He runs his fingers down the spine of a beautifully illuminated Ars Magica that Cash has always suspected Portia Malfoy liberated from the library at Malfoy House when she eloped with Harold Prince. He doesn't, thankfully, open it. Cash loved his father once, and after that he hated him. Now he feels only an exasperated sort of fondness, as if Abraxas were the child. The old man, with all of his foibles, alone now that Emily and Philip are dead and Cash is gone. His Tarot cards and star charts, and his old-fashioned certainty in his own infallibility.
“The government is going to fall,” Abraxas says, and Cash smiles into the sofa cushion. “The signs point to a catastrophe. There will be riots. The Malfoy name may not be enough to keep you safe.”
After Cash spoke out against the war, they sent him yellow flowers, a drawerful of yellow flowers, because yellow is the color of cowardice. Some of them were anonymous, but some of them were from his mother's friends, his father's colleagues in the government, the parents of children he'd gone to Hogwarts with, dead now in the war. The Malfoy name is not enough, has never been enough. If they come for the blood traitors, neither Cash nor Eileen will be safe.
His father is wrong as often as he is right. “Why should the government fall now? The war is over. They'll be heroes.”
“They should have ended it three years ago,” Abraxas says. “They had Grindelwald on the run after Russia, and they let him slip away. They could have saved a thousand lives. And now the people will want blood. They will want Grindelwald's head on a platter, and Dumbledore won't give it to them.”
“He won't?” Cash asks, sitting up. “What does he have in mind, then? Confiscating his wand? Setting him to write lines?”
“Nurmengard,” Abraxas says. “A life sentence. For myself, I might almost prefer execution. Or even Azkaban. Better the Dementors than half a century of boredom. But the people won't stand for it, and if they can't have Gellert's blood they'll have someone else's.”
Yours, he does not say, but then he doesn't have to. Cash is one of the most hated men in England. “Dumbledore agrees with me,” he does say, and that is a surprise. Abraxas is notorious for having said at Philip's Hogwarts leavetaking that he wouldn't piss on Albus Dumbledore's beard to put it out, if it were on fire. “That's no guarantee,” Cash says. “You know that. Merlin knows Dumbledore's been wrong before. If he hadn't let Grindelwald go in 1918--.”
“It's useless to speculate,” Abraxas says hastily. Particularly if it doesn't serve his ends. And Dumbledore had let him go, too, after an expensive and embarrassing trial. “You aren't safe in London, Cash. The news will be out by morning.” And for once, he looks like Cash's father, saying it.
There are so many ghosts between them. Philip, in Russia, and none of Abraxas's charms or divinations strong enough to locate what was left of his body; Emily in the street in London, outside the ruined house, her empty eyes turned toward the sky. All of the others who had come after, in the war Abraxas had done nothing to stop. And of course, none of them really matter, not next to the blood he and Abraxas share, the weight of family and duty and magic. “Papa,” he starts to say. He starts to surrender.
“My mother has family in New York,” Eileen says from the bedroom doorway. She's dressed, hastily, in her neat dark robes, with her hair in an untidy braid down her back. Her face is red, marked by temper or embarrassment or sleep-- Cash doesn't understand her well enough to know which. “We can go there.”
He's been in her flat six months, and her bed nearly as long. But he hardly notices her. She's quiet, clever, and convenient. Seeing her now, through his father's eyes, he is struck again by her plainness, the squareness of her jaw, the size of her nose, the lack of grace. He knows she loves him, has loved him since they were at Hogwarts, and he hasn't been kind to her. He told himself the war was more important. He might even have been right.
He can tell his father is taking note of these things, and he feels a brief stirring of guilt. He can justify using her this far, and no farther. If he goes to America with her, that will change everything. He will owe her something he might not have to give. Not his heart, which she will never ask for, but loyalty, kindness, consideration. Fidelity. Here she is little more than a furnishing, but in America, in New York, she will be as essential as his wand. There will be no more pretending that she is doing this because she believes in his cause.
It is another form of surrender. No, it is the same: Eileen and his father, both of them want the same thing from him. Both of them want him to be someone he isn't, and both of them want to be something to him they aren't. He looks at them, between them. The old order and the new world, and freedom if he chooses neither.
He wonders what his brother would have done, and realizes that he doesn't know. Philip was not much more than nineteen when he died, and his choices died with him. Abraxas's face is complacent, Eileen's blank. He is expecting Cash to come with him, and she thinks he will go. She is not the kind of woman men fight for, and she knows it.
Seeing that, seeing them, Cash chooses being loved over freedom, over family. He crosses to Eileen and puts his hand in hers. “I've always wanted to see America,” he says, and feels her fingers close around hers like a trap springing shut. He is a Malfoy, and he was never meant to be free.