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)
Shadow of the Day (Spinner's End, 1979)
A Woman's Place (Surrey, 1979)
Chronology (Surrey, 1980)
Spy Games (London, 1981)
Shadow of the Day (Surrey, 1982)
Only the Dead Have Seen the End of War (Surrey, 1982)
A Prophet In His Own Country (Surrey, 1984)
A Handful of Dust (Surrey, 1994)
“I can't go to Azkaban,” he says, and he does not even care if he sounds desperate.
“You mean won't,” his father corrects, his voice gentle and his eyes amused. “Or more precisely, you mean that you would prefer not to go. They have built a prison that has held Gellert Grindelwald for thirty-five years. They can certainly manage to hold you.”
He is eighty years old, and still Lucius is too afraid of him to hit him across the room as he would like to do. Despite himself he finds that his right hand has closed around the end of his wand, and he is holding it so tightly that his fingers ache. His father's mouth turns up a little. He is laughing.
Lucius could beg. He could weep. He has a son he's never seen; he is not yet thirty. He does not want to spend a century in Azkaban. His father might live fifty years more and remind him of this every day of it.
“You are right,” he says, as if it is nothing. “There are worse things.” He turns to go. It is a bluff. It is entirely a bluff, and his father knows it.
His hand is on the door. “Wait,” Abraxas says.
Lucius turns. “You've forgotten your cloak,” his father says. He holds it up. Lucius goes to get it. His hands are shaking, and he is afraid it shows. He never thought it would come to this, that he would have outlived Lord Voldemort, that Azkaban would be a serious possibility.
“Thank you,” he says, taking the cloak.
Abraxas smiles. “Do you know,” he says, “I believe there may be something you can do for me after all.”
Spinner's End, 1979
Lucius Malfoy is exactly the sort of man Severus's father most despises. He is too well-dressed, and he uses words as weapons where Tobias would use his fists. And he is a wizard, and a member of a group of wizards that believe Muggles are less intelligent than farm animals.
And yet, Lucius is sitting at the kitchen table with Tobias Snape, drinking coffee and laughing at whatever it is Tobias is saying. And Severus is outside in the garden with Bellatrix Lestrange, smoking a cigarette and trying not to watch through the window as Lucius charms his father.
“Look at this,” Bellatrix says for the fourteenth time, approximately, spinning in place among Severus's mother's rose bushes. “To think people live like this. <i>My</i> father wouldn't keep pigs this way, never mind his wife.”
In the kitchen, Severus's mother is doing the washing up, as one does after one cooks breakfast for one's son who has dropped in unexpectedly with six of his closest friends, several of them wounded and all of them on the run from the Aurors. Only, she is doing it without magic, even though she is a damned powerful witch in her own right. Rabastan appears beside her, a bandage around his head, and begins to dry.
Severus drops his cigarette on the flagstone and steps on it to put it out. “Shut up,” he says to Bellatrix, before he goes back inside.
There is only one thing at which Lucius Malfoy excels. He had thought he had left it behind when the war ended. “There is someone I need you to kill,” his father says, and proves otherwise. “Do this, and I make all of it-- the charges, Azkaban-- go away.”
Lucius watches him talk, and wonders if it is worth it.
Spinners End, 1979
None of them even look up when Severus comes in. Lucius is leaning forward, using the salt cellar and two apples from the fruit bowl to explain some obscure quidditch play to Tobias. Severus played for Slytherin for six years, and his father never saw a single game.
“Do I put the plates here?” Rabastan asks, and Mum actually smiles at him as she opens the drawer for him. Rabastan hasn't smiled since Rosier died, but he smiles back.
Straightening up, Mum catches Severus's eye. “Maybe you and Mrs. Lestrange could walk to the market and get some things for dinner, Severus,” she says. “There's some money in my purse.”
Lucius fumbles for a moment with his good hand and finds a scrap of parchment that becomes a handful of pound notes before it reaches the table. “Please, ma'am,” he says. “Let's let the Dark Lord pay to feed his soldiers.”
Tobias should be furious-- at his presumption, at the magic done under his roof-- but he just smiles and claps Lucius's shoulder lightly. It's all so friendly Severus can barely stand it. He snatches the money. “I think it's best if Bellatrix stays here, actually.” They all turn to look. She's still in the garden, making horrid faces at the shrubbery.
He meets Regulus in the hallway, and takes him instead.
“The gun?” his father asks.
He has it with him. He draws it. Its familiar weight is comforting, now when everything is changing. He passes it to Abraxas, who breaks it open to check that the chamber is empty. He handles it well, better than Lucius expected, like a man who is not unfamiliar with such weapons. The Beretta was made in London, by a master gunsmith, shaped to Lucius's hand and with the Malfoy crest etched on the barrel. He casts the bullets himself, of silver and blood and wormwood, power enough to take down a dragon.
It is not a wand, not quite, but it is so close as to make no difference. He does not like seeing it in his father's hand.
Tobias Snape murdered his wife, and neither the Ministry nor the Muggles are willing to convict him for it. This is justice. The gun has been used for worse, and on better men.
Lucius always liked Snape.
He does not want to go to Azkaban.
Spinners End, 1979
Regulus looks around, wide-eyed and curious, while Severus buys meat and cheese and bread and fruit, biscuits and a carton of cigarettes and his father's brand of bottled beer. “Did you never want to be one of them?” he asks, when he and Severus are walking back, weighted down by their purchases.
“Does it matter?” Severus demands. “I never could have been.” Even at nine, ten, he had struggled to pass for normal. And now there were two worlds he didn't fit into, not one. “It wasn't that simple,” he says instead. Regulus is staring at a woman in a polyester leisure suit and platform boots, and doesn't respond.
The job last night was an utter disaster, and Severus isn't sure why. Somehow Lucius's plans, while undeniably clever and showy, are never very successful. Lucius is never particularly upset about it, either. It's anyone's guess why he's the Dark Lord's favorite. Bellatrix has an extremely unpleasant theory she can never resist bringing up.
Since Rosier died, whatever loyalty they had toward one another seems to have broken. Bellatrix and Lucius are at one another's throats. Rab and Regulus are drunk more than they are sober. Rudolphus has never had much to say. And Severus-- he is tired of them, all of them. He walks faster, so that Regulus has to trot to keep up.
“Your parents are lovely, Sev,” he pants. “My mother would go off if I just turned up like that in the middle of the night with you lot, all bleeding on the rugs and covered in mud. My dad too, probably. He never had much use for me.”
The last thing he wants to hear is Regulus Black singing his Mum and Da's praises. Severus has seen Black House. The rug in the entry alone probably cost more than every stick of furniture Severus's parents own. Mrs. Black, while indisputably horrifying, is at least a pureblood-- as presumably the late Mr. Black was.
“Yeah,” he says. “They're bloody fantastic. Course, you're seeing them on their best behavior.”
“Maybe,” Regulus says. “Still, that bread your mum made was pretty amazing.”
Abraxas points the gun at Lucius, and though Lucius knows it isn't loaded-- although he checked it himself before he gave it to his father, and although he watched Abraxas check it, he still flinches as Abraxas pulls the trigger. There is no sound, not even the hollow click a gun usually makes, fired dry. The night Evan died, Lucius fired thirty rounds from that gun. It was empty then, too. He has shot down a helicopter with it, thestraals, a Snitch, targets so small he can barely see them.
“Lovely piece of work,” his father says. “Let's see what you can do with it.”
The Malfoy portrait gallery is, impossibly, three times the length of the rest of the house, vast and echoing and bare of any furnishings but unlit sconces at intervals. Abraxas flicks his hand and lights them all at once, and the portraits come to life and begin at once to fight bitterly amongst themselves.
The lamps at the far end seem impossibly distant, as far as the moon. There are a handful of bullets in the pocket of his cloak. He loads the Beretta with shaking fingers. He was very young when he learned how to shoot, so small that he needed two hands just to lift the gun. It was Tobias Snape who taught him, whose hands steadied him that first time.
He stands, gun in his hand, arm at his side, waiting, until Abraxas says, sharply, “Get on with it.”
Lucius brings his arm up, and without aiming, without really even looking, fires. There are three sconces at the far end of the hallway. He puts them all out, one bullet for each. The ancestors cover their ears in alarm.
John Malfoy, whose portrait is closest, says something unprintable before he wanders to the edges of his frame. “Clean shots,” he calls to Abraxas, “blew the wick right off each of them. Shame it wasn't your head, you murdering little weasel--.”
“Perhaps you should have been a wandsmith,” Lucius's father says, ignoring his own father's insults. “Certainly you have no particular gift for Arithmancy.”
Spinner's End, 1979
When they get back, fingers aching from the weight of the grocery bags, Severus's father is in the drive, showing Rab and Rudolphus how to change the oil in the automobile. It strikes Severus as mad. The Lestranges are from a wizarding family so traditional it makes the Malfoys look liberal. Severus isn't sure they know what a car is, let alone why it needs the oil changed. Rudolphus still looks a bit fuzzy, but the bandage on his thigh is clean and he's standing upright, so the charms must have begun to work.
“Is it a Rolls?” Regulus demands, dropping his packages on the step and joining them. “Is that petrol?”
Severus sighs and hauls the marketing in by himself. His mother is still in the kitchen, sitting at the table and drinking tea with Lucius. “And your father?” she asks, as Severus comes in. “He's well?”
Lucius stares into his mug as if he's inherited his father's fondness for divination. “I expect so,” he says tiredly. “I haven't seen him for a bit.”
“I suppose you don't get on with him,” Mum says. “Your brother Cash never did either. And even Sev doesn't, not really.”
“That's because he's a nasty old bastard, right, Severus?”
Despite himself, Severus grins, depositing his bags on the counter. Abraxas Malfoy is a nasty old bastard, for sure. Not only that, but he's disinherited Lucius, although it isn't widely known. “He has his moments, certainly.”
“Adopt me, Auntie Eileen,” Lucius says. “Raise me right. Teach me not to be so lippy.”
Eileen Prince has never really liked Lucius, but she smiles at him now and squeezes his shoulder. “Too late for that, I'm afraid.”
“Besides,” Severus admits, “all that discipline didn't do much to stop me.”
Lucius smirks. “No. You never respected your betters at Hogwarts, and you don't now--."
There is a sound from the doorway, not quite a cough: Bellatrix, of course. She makes a habit of eavesdropping. It's served her well. "Neither of you respect the Dark Lord as you ought. He marks it, and your time is coming. The time for all your kind is coming, for the cowards and the weaklings and the blood traitors."
"Oh, dear," Lucius says. "They say you can choose your friends and your life's work, but your in-laws are inflicted on you as punishment for your sins."
"My sister won't marry you," Bellatrix sneers. "How many times have you asked her now? Six? Seven? She laughs at you behind your back, Malfoy, and if you weren't such an idiot you'd realize." She turns her dark, haunted eyes to Severus. "You shouldn't laugh, though, Snape. Malfoy's not the only one in love with a bitch who won't have him." And to Eileen: "You're a disgrace to your race. If my husband spoke to me the way yours does you I'd break his arm."
Her cloak is hanging on the back of the door with the others. She takes it and puts it on, and turns back. "Thank you for your hospitality. I'd rather be caught by the Aurors and burned alive than stay under this roof a moment longer." The pop of her disapparation makes the windows rattle.
"I was at school with her mother," Eileen says dismissively. "They're all half mad, that whole line. You're better off, Lucius."
"Right." He doesn't sound relieved, though. No more than Severus would be. He wonders how much Bellatrix actually knows, and how much she only guesses. "It's not her family I love Narcissa for. The Dark Lord won't have her father at the meetings any more-- says he got tired of watching him foam at the mouth."
Severus laughs at that, before he can catch himself. Cygnus isn't the kind of man you laugh at, even behind his back. People have died for less. "She'll come around," he says instead. "Maybe." Narcissa is sane-- probably the only sane one in her entire branch of the Black family-- but she's also clever and self-interested and unlikely to fall for Lucius's particular brand of shite.
"What about Severus?" he asks, when Abraxas has carefully explained the details of the job.
His father raises an eyebrow. "They called you the Executioner, not him," he says. "Besides, I understand he's in Azkaban awaiting trial."
"You won't do anything to help him?"
"I owed his mother," Abraxas says. "She's dead. The boy can fight his own battles."
There has been gossip for as long as Lucius can remember, that Severus is Abraxas's bastard, a love-child conceived in secret and never acknowledged. Lucius has never believed it-- Abraxas and Eileen Prince act more like old rivals than old lovers-- but he has wondered. There were times when Abraxas was kind to Severus, or kinder than he needed to be. But maybe that was only another elaborate move in the game he played with Eileen.
And maybe Abraxas would rather save Lucius. Maybe this is the closest his father comes to love. "Fair enough," he says tiredly.
Spinner's End, 1979
After dinner they go with Severus's da to open the pub. When Severus was small the pub was a treat, and later it was an embarrassment, and later still a place to filch liquor from. Tobias runs it with his mate Mark, the man he flew with in the RAF during the war. They were shot down together and imprisoned together and released together, but Mark is shy and nervy where Tobias is dour.
He sits in a corner booth with Lucius, watching them sweep and set the tables out. "He's a hard man, your father," Lucius says after a while. "Still, you always know where you are with him."
Severus blinks. "You think so? I've never understood a single decision he's made."
"You're too alike, is all. He has his own code, the way you have yours. And you neither of you are willing to deviate."
Tobias's hands are still strong and sure on the broom handle. He's closer to sixty than fifty, but he's aged well. He looks ten years younger than Uncle Mark. "I don't think so," Severus says. He grew up pretending to be someone else's son, waiting for his secret father--who would be a powerful wizard and wealthy and a famous quidditch player-- to step forward and acknowledge him. But it never happened. That doesn't mean he doesn't still have hopes.
"Understandable," Lucius agrees, but he doesn't understand, not really. His father is one of the richest and and most respected men in Britain. Abraxas Malfoy is legendary, for his magic, for the crimes he committed under Grindelwald, for the country he saved afterward. Severus's father is a drunk, and a mean one, and his mother is a joke.
"Do you ever wonder if we're going to grow up to be our fathers?" he asks instead. He can see Tobias Snape when he looks in the mirror, in the shape of his chin, the arch of his nose.
"I'm more afraid we'll grow up to be our mothers," Lucius says wryly. He doesn't smile, though. Maybe he means it: maybe being Pyrite Malfoy, and dying for love, is the worst thing he can imagine.
Spinners End, 1982
He doesn't use magic. He owes Tobias that much. He bangs on the door and Tobias opens it, and asks him in. There is a dark stain in the hallway between the kitchen and the sitting room, and the carpet's been taken up to reveal the dull wood of the floorboards. It still smells faintly of bleach.
Lucius steps over it, on the way into the kitchen, and takes the whiskey Tobias pours. He expected things to to be different, and they aren't, which shouldn't surprise him. His own father murdered his mother, and if Abraxas ever felt a moment's guilt, he hid it well.
Lucius expected more from Tobias. "Have you heard from Severus?" he asks.
Tobias frowns. "Should I have?"
"He wrote me last week. They haven't set a date for his trial yet, and they're holding him without bail."
They might be talking about someone else's son. They might be talking about anyone. "Your lot certainly are strict when it suits them."
Tobias had quite literally got away with murder a month ago. "Yes. Well, things have changed since the war ended. The new government."
"They let you go, though."
It was an observation, not an accusation. It still stung. "Yes."
"Your father bought your way clear, I suppose?"
It is only the truth. It is also the truth that Lucius is repaying Abraxas in full. One life for another. "I'm trying to get Severus out," he says instead. "I want you to know that. I love him, and I'm going to everything I can for him. It's just--it may not be enough."
Tobias shrugs. "He made his bed. We all did."
"That must have been a hell of a war," Lucius says, hard and cold and angry. "The one you fought in. The one my father fought in. I have a son, too, did you know?"
"Congratulations," Tobias says, with impressive irony.
"There is nothing that could happen to me, nothing. Nothing he could do or say or be, that would make me turn my back on him. There is nothing I will not save him from," Lucius says, and shoots Tobias cleanly between the eyes.
Tobias falls back against the dresser, his eyes already glazing. Lucius shoots him again, in the heart. He sets the gun down and hauls Tobias up onto the table. There's a great deal of blood, but it doesn't matter. There are spells for that.
He lays Tobias flat on the table, and folds his hands on his chest. He puts the the third bullet through the folded hands.
"May your God forgive you," he says, looking down at the dead man. "May he grant you the peace you never found at the bottom of a bottle."
It isn't what his father told him to say. His father wanted Tobias cursed. But Tobias was kind to Lucius sometimes, when he hadn't had to be, and Abraxas had never been kind.
He goes home, and Narcissa is there, with Draco, waiting for him, willing to talk. There's a copy of the <i>Prophet</i> with Severus's face on the cover: Dumbledore's had the charges dropped and he's been released.
Lucius uses a Disappearing Charm on the gun before he washes the blood off his hands. He doesn't smile when Abraxas congratulates him. He kisses his wife, and he holds his son for the first time, and he promises himself that things will be different for them.