Warning: This story contains some very dark elements. I break Harry down pretty far before I raise him back up. Potential squicks include abusive (effective) incest, prostitution, as well as one character's casual attitude towards consensual incest.
Many thanks to Sobriquet for beta testing, ego boosting, and title
He has considered sleeping in another room-- perhaps on the couch, since the small house has few bedrooms to spare.
It used to be a small but cozy house.
It's not cozy anymore.
And there's not much point in choosing somewhere else to sleep.
It's not the bedroom that's drawing his godfather inside each night.
That would be easy, Harry thinks, visualizing some absurd were-like existence that is based, not on the phase of the moon, such as affects Remus, but a bedroom-centric obsession-- Harry's bedroom, to be specific-- that calls Sirius, siren-like, to enter.
Instead of his godson's sleeping form.
"Sirius? What's wrong?"
No answer. His godfather stands in the doorway, unmoving.
"What is it?"
When there is still no answer, Harry thinks about reaching for his wand. When you're a wizard and you've faced dark magic as often as he has and are still alive, that's how your mind works.
And then Sirius says, "Harry..." in a hoarse voice, and steps into the room, and all thoughts of his wand are abandoned as Sirius sits on the edge of Harry's bed and Harry sees his eyes in the dimness, sees the haunted face just before he buries it in the hands which tremble so.
Harry has not seen his godfather like this since-- well, since ever. The eyes, yes, they had that hollow look back on the night they first met, but even then Sirius's hands did not tremble.
"I hear them," he whispers.
"Who?" says Harry, utterly frightened.
"When I sleep," says Sirius, answering a different question. "I start to dream and they come to me, hissing You've fooled no one, and We know the truth, and You are still a murderer. And I try to tell them that I made a mistake, and they say Tell that to James, Tell that to Lily. Tell that...Tell that to Harry."
Harry's sleeping in a faded old Quidditch jersey that Sirius gave to him the day Harry came to live with him, two weeks to the day after Sirius was exonerated for Pettigrew's supposed murder. It was faded when it was given to him: it used to be his father's.
He pushes the sleeves up over his thin forearms, saying, "Sirius, you know I've never, ever--"
"And they tell me everyone will hate me, does hate me, but that they will always be with me, that they love me, would I like to see how much they love me? All they have to do is give me a kiss."
Harry doesn't know whether to shudder or to snarl. Sirius is free of Azkaban and free of the Dementors at last; he should not have to suffer any longer. Not for a crime he didn't commit; not even in dreams.
Or perhaps especially not in dreams.
"I can't sleep any more, Harry. I...I think I'm going mad..."
Harry puts his hand on Sirius's arm. He and his godfather do not have a particularly demonstrative degree of physical affection in their relationship. Growing up with a complete lack of it, and not coming to live with someone who cared about him until he was a young man of fifteen, has made much of that awkward, now.
With his other hand he reaches for his glasses on the bedside table. But Sirius catches his hand: "No, don't turn it on--" Harry realizes he thinks he's reaching for the lamp.
In this odd pose, Harry says, "Tell me how to help, Sirius."
"I want the dreams to go away. Tell me... tell me you don't hate me."
"Of course I don't hate you! I told you, I never--"
"James... James doesn't hate me, does he? James wouldn't..."
"He would never--"
For all that he insists he needs to hear it, Sirius seems to be incapable of letting Harry finish a sentence. "You...look so much like your father, you know... James meant-- everything to me, you mean everything to me..."
He doesn't seem to know where to go with the rest of this thought. At last he says, "I just... want to be able to sleep. I don't know what will help..."
Fuck Voldemort and fuck the Dursleys, Harry thinks. He's had this thought before, but never thought it with this much passion. He should be hugging his godfather tightly right now, reassuring him how much he means to him. He should be able to say the word love.
Instead all he can do is squeeze the arm that he holds in a way that he hopes is reassuring.
Sirius seems to notice. He blinks once; his eyes turn to look at Harry's face.
Harry decides he should try again to retrieve his glasses. He reaches again, with the other hand.
As he turns, Sirius suddenly pulls Harry to him, almost sobbing, "Help me..." -- and because Harry had been turning toward the table, his shoulder meets Sirius's chest, and it's not the right position for a hug, and as if he is afraid that Harry is pulling away, Sirius arranges himself so that he is actually behind Harry, his arms about his chest, pushing his face into Harry's back with another sob-like sound, and for a moment, the affection that Harry was cursing himself for lacking is real; he feels a fierce protectiveness for his suffering godfather, glad at the turnabout that he is needed as much as he is loved and guided by him. His hands go over Sirius's, as if trying to soothe the trembling.
And then Sirius pulls his face away, and one of his hands moves to the line of bony spinal knobs between Harry's shoulder blades, and he pushes.
It makes Harry arch forward, as pressure right there is wont to do on anyone, and that means there is that much less distance for him to be pushed all the way down to the surface of his bed.
He turns his face just before it hits the pillow, instinctively, for breath. He gets out one consonant: "S- ?"
And the hand between Harry's shoulder blades is suddenly pinning him in place, and the word he is trying to get out simply goes away.
As he freezes.
As he realizes that Sirius's other hand is pulling up the edge of his jersey.
It is as if the hand in the center of his back is crushing all the breath out of him.
Sirius is dressed, not for bed, as if he knew the futility of doing that, with these nightmares that are plaguing him, but still in his daytime clothing, shirt unbuttoned down the front and at the cuffs. Harry feels skin against his own, the other man's chest against his bared lower back, and feels Sirius's other hand now interposed between the remaining cloth layers that separate them, and knows that Sirius is getting his trousers open.
He gets the word out. He doesn't know how. "Sirius--"
There is not even a hesitation. His godfather's hand has a hold of the waist of Harry's boxer shorts, and pulls them down.
Harry gets his arms out from under his body. "No. Sirius--"
And then the hand that was on his back has a hold of one of his wrists. It circles it, deliberately, holds it, not ungently.
Places it on the surface of the bed, next to Harry's shoulder.
Harry doesn't even try to move his other arm. When Sirius takes a hold of that wrist, he lets him.
When Sirius places that one upon the bed, near the corresponding shoulder, as well, he does not try to pull it away.
When Sirius adjusts his position over Harry's back, Harry does not move.
Because if he moves, he knows what he will feel.
Sirius will start to tighten the hold he has on Harry's wrists.
Until it is a grip.
Until he is pinning his godson's wrists to the bed.
Similarly, Harry does not say Sirius's name again. He does not say the word no again.
Because if he does, he knows what will happen.
Sirius will ignore him.
His godfather will hear him saying no, and he will not listen to him.
So Harry cannot say no.
He hears how fast Sirius is breathing. Feels a part of Sirius's flesh that he's never seen pressing into the cleft of his arse.
If he says no, Sirius will hold him down. If Sirius holds him down, Harry will start to struggle, he knows he will.
And then Sirius might hurt him worse.
He cannot say no. He can whimper, as his godfather penetrates him. Can turn his face back into the pillow, to muffle the noise, absorb his tears. Can bite at the pillow, to keep from chipping his teeth against each other as his godfather rapes him.
Cannot, however, keep himself from hearing what Sirius is saying over and over: "Help me... please, Harry, help me... make it go away, make them stop..."
And because Sirius can't even hear him, he does say no before it's done. Says no, and says please, and says please, no. Between the whimpers, the sobs, he says all those things.
And he learns that he was right.
When Sirius comes inside of him, Sirius cries out, not like a beast but like a child, as if he knows the enormity of what he has done after all, but that does not seem to be so, for he makes no attempt to rise after he collapses atop his godson, pulling out but not away, releasing Harry's wrists and instead curling his arms about his shoulders, holding him in a way that seems tender, spooning against him as his face settles against the side of Harry's neck, still murmuring, "Please, let it go away..."
When the murmuring stops, Harry realizes that his godfather has fallen asleep.
And sleeps quietly, through the night.
Harry knows this because he does not sleep that night. Not for a moment.
Nor does he dare to move.
It is not until something like dawn that Sirius stirs. Harry's tears have long since dried, though his nose is still congested. The physical pain is not as bad, not as fresh, as it was last night.
He hears Sirius say, "Wh--"
And feels his body go rigid as he says, "Harry?"
Sirius sits bolt upright with a cry, and then all the hairs on Harry's skin react to the ozone sizzle in the air as his godfather's cry turns into a howl, and the body on his both shifts and shifts, the animagus form hitting the floor on four feet and tearing out the door with a whine, bounding, crashing down the stairs to the ground floor below. Harry hears a door open and then the whines are carried away, away from the house into the pre-dawn distance.
He still doesn't try to get up for a long time.
Sirius doesn't come back. Harry tries to go through some kind of motions, including washing the bedclothes and his sleepwear from last night. It doesn't seem sufficient, and he casts a Scouring charm over them as well.
He uses the same charm twice on himself. Full-body Scouring charms hurt a little. It's about the only thing he feels all day.
Sirius doesn't come back. Harry tries to eat something as the sun is going down.
It is almost midnight before he goes to bed, forced to by an exhaustion that manages to get through the numb feeling, given that he hasn't slept in a day. He goes back to his own bedroom, and his own bed, because that is what he's used to doing when he's tired.
He would have thought he'd have wakened at the first footfall. But obviously exhaustion won, and he doesn't wake until he hears his name, very close: "Harry..."
Sirius is standing by the side of his bed.
Harry sits up very quickly. Not so quickly as Sirius moves, though, and suddenly Sirius is sitting on his bed with Harry in his arms, his godson gathered to his chest, and his face pressed to Harry's shoulder as he weeps into it.
Harry can't say he relaxes, exactly. But he lets Sirius hold him, trying to think how to begin, fearing Sirius will weep and weep until Harry can find it in him to say, "I know it wasn't you," or "You didn't mean to," or "It will be all right..."
And then Sirius says, "I can hear them..."
And Harry freezes again.
"Every night I hear them, when I sleep, Harry, they tell me I'm still a murderer, that I'm all to blame--"
The pulse in Harry's throat is starting to choke him.
"-- that James and Lily hate me, over and over, I can't sleep--"
Sirius doesn't remember last night.
Harry tries to pull out of Sirius's grip. Sirius's grip tightens. He transfers that grip to Harry's upper arms. Starts to turn him around.
"Sirius, no, don't--!"
This time he's thrust down so hard his jaw almost bruises, despite the pillow and mattress under his face.
He cries out into them, still unable to drown out the sound of Sirius murmuring, "Help me, Harry, help me, please..."
He finds he was right. Struggling means Sirius just holds him down. Pleading goes ignored.
So he stops fighting. Tries to stop pleading.
Can't stop whimpering.
But it's better than feeling Sirius's grip on his wrists tighten, in addition to everything else.
The next morning is much like the last, but this time Sirius does not transform into a dog until he is down the stairs. Harry knows that they are not trapped in some time loop; nothing so easy is happening here.
Sirius is using his time in his animagus form to try to purge the memories of what he's done. Until he can bear to become human again.
And sometime after he does, his exhausted human form is falling asleep. And starting to dream.
Harry had gone to sleep in the same jersey he had worn the night before; he'd done so automatically. Today he has to wash it again, use another Scouring charm on it.
He realizes that this is not helping its faded appearance. Soon he won't be able to read the Gryffindor logo on it, if this keeps up. So he'd better not wear it, any more.
That's the thought that makes him cry hysterically, that day, sitting against the wall of the laundry room.
Sirius is gone all of that day too.
That night he pretends not to wake up, when Sirius shows up.
That doesn't work. Sirius shakes him. Shakes him hard. Only when Harry gives up the charade does Sirius start speaking. And nothing Harry says or does has any effect on the events that follow.
He has to get help.
"...you look just like him, Harry... tell me that James wouldn't blame me, that the voices are lying, help me, Harry..."
Who can he ask for help?
It was always Sirius that he owled, when he had trouble. No one else.
"Harry-- oh, dear god, what have I-- nooooo...."
Trying to stop him from transforming and running off never works. Never.
He could hit him with a Stupefying spell, the next time he comes into the room.
And what will Sirius do, then, when he wakes up?
Could he possibly be... worse, after? Do you dream when stupefied?
There are authorities for this sort of thing, Harry knows. He doesn't have to tell it all. Just that Sirius is... not well.
And then Harry will go to live somewhere else.
And where will Sirius go?
Moving to another room will not help. It's not the bedroom that Sirius is seeking.
They will find out.
It's like having his very own Dementors in his head, hissing at him.
They will question you, and question Sirius. And they WILL FIND OUT.
And then Sirius will go back to Azkaban.
Seventeen days and nights later, Harry runs away.
He takes what money is in the house. There's wizard money only. Not a great deal. No muggle funds that he can find.
He doesn't take anything else. A teenage boy with a suitcase would attract unwanted attention.
The flaw in his planning, if it can be called that, is that he is running away, and has not thought enough about running to. But under the circumstances he is hardly to be blamed.
Not yet capable of apparating, he travels by Floo Powder to Diagon Alley. On the steps of Gringott's Bank, reaching for the door handle, he stops.
And why is Mister Harry Potter withdrawing funds from his account without the authority of his guardian?
Oh. Ah. My- my godfather is ill/in hospital/busy/away on business/on holiday in Brighton/Bermuda/France/Deepest Darkest Africa.
Hmm. Very irregular. I'm afraid we will not be able to authorize this transaction until we contact him. You don't mind waiting, do you, Mr. Potter?
Harry's hand falls to his side. He turns and descends the steps of Gringott's.
He wanders through Diagon Alley, thinking about how much money he has, and where he will go.
He can go to the Burrow. Ron would be there for him, and Mrs. Weasley would be delighted to make a fuss over him.
Why, Harry, what a pleasure-- oh, my dear boy, you look so thin! Haven't you been eating? Oh, Arthur, look at him-- what's wrong, Harry dear? You look quite dreadful; what is it?
No. Not the Burrow.
Hermione would be worse. She'd take one look at him and she'd know. He didn't know how she would know, but he knew it like he knew his own name, she would know.
He passes the Leaky Cauldron. He's certainly got enough funds for a few nights there.
Why, look who's come to visit us! It 's Harry Potter, sure as my auntie's got flannel knickers! Look, everyone, The Boy Who Lived is paying us another summer visit!
He keeps walking.
Of course he has his wand. He doesn't even brush his teeth without having his wand nearby. But he's still an underage student.
They track unauthorized magic use.
Someone leaving Quality Quidditch Supplies is carrying a long package that can only be one thing. Harry gives himself a mental kick. He could have brought his broom. He should have brought his broom.
And gone where with it, precisely?
To avoid bumping the person with the package he takes a side turn.
It takes him a few moments to realize where he is. He's only been here once before.
Oh, this...this is better than wandering through Diagon Alley proper. (He's conscious of the pun.) No one wants to meet anyone's eyes here. He doesn't have to worry he's going to run into anyone he knows.
He spends the rest of the day loitering there. No other destination or plan comes to him. As evening comes on, he thinks about signaling the Knight Bus. It would be a place to spend the night comfortably, at least. But what if Stan Shunpike still runs it? Stan'll recognize him right away.
And where will he tell it to take him?
Twilight is falling. It looks even more ominous in Knockturn Alley. Harry's been sitting in the doorway of an abandoned shop for about an hour, keeping his head down, and he has just about decided to take his chances with the Knight Bus and the Burrow when he's pushed-- it's not hard enough to be a kick-- in the thigh by a shoe.
He looks up. There's a boy, even thinner than he is, standing-- no, challenging him with a sneer. The boy is tow-headed; he looks badly in need of a haircut, and his trouser waistband lies about a handspan below the lower edge of his shirt. He may be Harry's age or a bit younger.
"You're in my spot," says the boy.
Harry stares. Realizes too late that if he doesn't want to be scrutinized, doesn't want a fight, he should move rather than stare.
"You aren't one of Jaq's stable. I know everyone Jaquintor brings in, see, and I don't know you, so you're not one of his. So you don't get this spot. Get the fuck out."
Harry mumbles, "I'm sorry..." and starts to get to his feet.
Before he can, though, the boy leans forward, squinting. "Hey..."
Harry knows what he's looking at. He's had this done to him too many times. The boy's eyes are directed at Harry's forehead.
Just what he didn't want.
But he doesn't get the expected "You're Harry Potter!" No, what the boy says is, "That's... that's pretty clever, that is. Jaq never had us try that."
The boy's streetwise face does not soften. He doesn't possess the ability to make that kind of facial _expression. But the challenge retreats, back to a space somewhere just behind the eyes. "You got anywhere to go?"
Harry just looks at him.
"I mean, for the night. You hungry?"
Harry is not stupid. He is traumatized, bereft, and too numb to even start feeling heartsick. But he knows what is going on. He knows what business the boy and the aforementioned Jaquintor are in. He also knows what the offer of food and a place to stay means.
No, he does not need a place to stay that badly.
He can walk until he collapses from exhaustion. Not from hunger, he's got money, that won't be a problem for a while. He can find another doorway, one outside of Knockturn Alley, where he won't be bullied away by a boy hustler.
He can do that until the authorities find him.
And take him somewhere.
And start asking him questions.
"Why exactly did you run away, Harry?"
"What kind of problems?"
One word in Harry's mind, over and over.
He blinks at the boy.
The boy's name is Christian, and Jaquintor is as interested in Harry's scar as Christian thought he'd be. Jaquintor thinks Harry was quite clever to have thought that one up.
"...get the attention of your clientele, very good. They'd like the idea of a little fun with The Boy Who Lived. You even look like him a bit, with that hair. I can see you're a boy who'll go far, ....?"
Harry realizes Jaquintor is waiting for his name in that silence.
"Trevor." Neville's toad. It seems appropriate, somehow.
It doesn't matter what name he chose, it turns out. No one but Jaq and his boys use it.
Certainly not any of the clientele.
Who are... not quite as bad as Harry imagined.
Selling yourself in Knockturn Alley is not really the hell he would have thought it to be, just a handful of days ago. The fact remains the area of business is a series of streets, not a brothel; there are nothing but dark alleyways to be pulled into, which are not really amenable to all the acts of sex that one can think of involving a teenage boy. And he doesn't go with anyone who wants to escort him inside a building; to their rooms, or even outside of Knockturn Alley. Jaq has cautioned him against that; too great a chance that the customer wants, not a quick fuck, but illegal body parts for Dark Magic purposes.
Ninety percent of the customers just want his mouth.
The remainder, who want more and are willing to have it in alleyways, also pay more.
Jaq likes that. Harry figures Jaq is not that bad, as pimps go, having no basis for comparison but weighing what he does know, and what the other boys tell him of experiences with past employers. Jaq never touches any of the boys himself. The rooms they occupy during the day are mostly vermin-free. They don't get beds, but they have all the blankets they need, and you can do a lot to make a floor comfortable with those. And as far as food goes, they're reasonably provided for. Problem there is, Harry recently became one of those teenage boys who can eat their own body weight twice over at a meal and stay skinny; he's probably just about to start a growth spurt. So he's still hungry every day, even though he can't say he really has an appetite. What additional money Jaq gives him, he spends on food, not noticing what it is. Just whatever's cheapest and most filling.
Though Jaq likes him to be thin. Says it keeps him looking as young as possible.
Harry's learning other things about the art of the boy strumpet as well. He knows how to stand now, to make himself seem both unconcerned and approachable. To give the cues to those who are looking for his type of services.
Christian gives him pointers, shows him how to cultivate his own specialty. Christian's is that of the petulant little brat. His stance is more aggressive; sucking in his stomach to make his hips jut out just a bit at passersby. He tells Harry that he will do best with the little-boy-lost act, to have that same look on his face that he had the day Christian found him, the take-me-home-and-feed-me look.
Harry seems to be getting better at it. More of his time at night is spent actually within those dark alleyways, with the ninety percent, as opposed to lingering in doorways.
Or the other ten percent. With those customers, Harry simply presses his face and his hands to the stone walls of the buildings that line the alleys, and blesses the stone for feeling nothing like a pillow under his face.
He could leave. He could walk right out of Knockturn Alley any night, any day. There are no bars to keep him there, not even threats from Jaq.
Jaq doesn't threaten, ever. He doesn't have to. Harry and the other boys are there because they have nowhere else to go. Because they are hiding.
Because some things are more terrible than tricking in Knockturn Alley.
One evening, still early on in the night, someone coming out of a shop that's still open bumps Harry's shoulder.
Harry isn't wearing his glasses. He decided, at the beginning, that there was just too much potential for recognition there. Jaq nixed that, telling him he liked The Boy Who Lived act, and instructed him to keep them on. So now Harry just takes them off and tucks them into a pocket at the beginning of the night, and puts them back on before he reports back to Jaq.
Because of this, the figure who bumps into him is even less distinct. And not only is it twilight, but the cloaked figure has the hood of his cloak up. In fact, Harry can't even be sure that it's a he, but the height and carriage of the figure suggest it fairly strongly.
And Harry's learned how to turn a casual shoulder bump into a business opportunity.
"Sorry about that, sir," he says, and reaches up to brush the man's arm and shoulder, as if the contact had left grime there and he wants to make amends. He lets his hand linger. "Can I help you with that?"
The man starts to pull away. No, thinks Harry, no business from this one tonight.
And then the man has turned his face--still unseen under that hood-- in the direction of Harry's. And he stops.
Pushes the hood back.
And even in the twilight, Harry thinks, I know that color hair.
Has seen it every day at Hogwarts. A distinct pale blotch at the Slytherin table in the Great Hall. In Potions Class, usually atop a boy's sneer.
Whipping in the wind as its owner tries to beat him to the Snitch during Quidditch matches.
But this man's hair is much longer than Draco's.
For a moment, Harry thinks, I'm not wearing my glasses-- I'm thinner-- I'm older-- I look like hell-- he won't recognize me.
Master has given a sock.
You've lost me my servant, boy!
Harry turns and runs.
There are a number of things that Lucius Malfoy needs that can only be found in Knockturn Alley.
Whores, however, are not among them.
Not that he hasn't purchased whores. He has. But the type of whore that a man like Lucius Malfoy would procure would be of such a high class that she or he would not even have the discourtesy to slap your face for calling him or her such a rude word. They would laugh, instead, but you would lose all chances of ever having the privilege of buying the favors of one, not only in their particular house of business but in all the rival ones of their class as well. Such men and women are very like the courtesans of old, and to use any less word would be the gravest insult.
That is the sort of paid entertainment Lucius Malfoy would seek. Many are of the best families, and best education; the wizarding schools Shinomichi, in Japan, and Abramahir, in Syria, seem to turn out quite a number of wizards who are imported into that business in all parts of Europe.
Lucius Malfoy would no more seek out a boy prostitute in the streets of Knockturn Alley than he would eat his dinner off of one of its filthy paving stones.
But when he sees the face of the little street rat pawing his cloak in an attempt to gain his interest in a back-alley blowjob, the retort he would ordinarily make dies away.
No. It can't be.
The boy's living with his godfather now, has been for two years. Impossible to have missed that bit of news, the Azkaban sentence overturned, the saccharine happy reunion of the boy with his pseudorelative.
And then the boy's eyes widen, and he runs.
That pretty much clinches it.
One way he can be sure.
He draws his wand.
"Accio Harry Potter!"
The boy flies back toward him like a trout on a line. Falls in a heap at his feet.
"Well, doesn't that make it rather final."
Lucius Malfoy pulls Harry up by the collar, like an unruly kitten.
"What... in hell's name... is Harry Potter doing soliciting the world's oldest commodity in Knockturn Alley, may I ask?" He sounds too incredulous to be amused.
"Let me go."
"No, I don't think so."
"It's no business of yours! Let me go!" Harry pushes at him, but Lucius's grip is too tight, arranged too carefully in a twist of his collar that makes it hard for him to turn around, and Harry is starting to be frightened of drawing attention to this little scene.
Lucius, on the other hand, is indeed starting to be amused, terribly amused. The boy isn't even trying to deny it. Voldemort's bane, the boy hero, whoring himself in Knockturn Alley! Whatever has brought him to this, it is better than any revenge he could have dreamed up himself.
"What happened to that tidy fortune your parents left you, hmm? Spend it all on sweets and the latest model brooms? Need to find a different source of income? I wouldn't think you'd have much left, after your procurer takes his cut."
"Goddammit, let me go!"
Lucius notices that the boy seems to be less afraid of him, and more terrified of those surrounding them, his eyes darting around almost in panic at the few faces also in the street. Hm. So he's afraid of the authorities finding him.
"I really think you'd be better off at home, boy. Surely money can't be that much of a desperate need."
"I can't go home. Let me go," the boy repeats.
"No? Well, then, I think it's up to me to save the morals of this place from your extreme turpitude, my wayward Harry. I'm sure I saw a Law Enforcement Division Official just around the last--"
"NO!" Harry swings around and Lucius is almost startled by the look in the boy's eyes. But that's nothing compared with what he says next: "DON'T! Take-- oh, my god, Lucius, turn me over to Voldemort, you fucker! Death Curse me here! Lock me in your fucking manor torture chamber-- I don't fucking care! Do it, do ALL of it! Don't--"
But don't fling me into the briar patch of the Law. Lucius hears it distinctly, though Harry leaves it unspoken.
What's the boy done?
"And just why can't you go home?"
Again, he was not prepared for what those eyes can do. "I can't."
Lucius realizes that this is nothing so simple as a sullen runaway. No, he knew that before. What it also isn't, is something as complicated as... oh, the dead body of his godfather stretched out on the kitchen linoleum back at his house, victim of a you're-not-the-boss-of-me argument that got far, far out of hand. No, the boy is not scared for himself. Not trying to cover something he's done. That those remarkable green eyes can convey all that to him is startling, but they have.
And just like that, he gets it.
He stares at the boy.
No. Not something that... petty, that sordid, for The Boy Who Lived. Surely not.
He remembers where they are. And what Harry was doing.
Lovely, he thinks sarcastically. And just how is he supposed to feel about this?
Well, he has always been a man of action, when introspection threatens to take too long.
He exhales. "Fine. Malfoy manor torture chamber it is, then. Apparate!"
"You found him WHERE?"
Lucius repeats what he said in slightly less obscure terms to his son's image, staring at him incredulously from the fireplace. "I found him selling his arse in Knockturn Alley."
"Because his cur of a guardian, Sirius Black, has been fucking his own godson."
"He-- told you that?"
Lucius's look is black. "He didn't have to tell me. It was all over him, like the filth of those streets. What else could have been so bad that he'd come to that? The way he said that he couldn't go home... Well. I was there. I saw his eyes. And... there was what I said to him after. That he couldn't deny."
"So. Not-- mutual, then."
"Not mutual. The boy couldn't take it anymore, but couldn't possibly go to anyone about it. Terrified they'll put his godfather away again."
"You think someone would have had the insight to recognize that a man who's been in Azkaban for ten years might NOT be the best candidate to take in a boy who'd been locked in a cupboard for approximately the same amount of time!"
In the silence that falls, Lucius knows they are both thinking the same thing. Neither has to voice it.
After a few moments, Draco says, "Do you want me to come home?"
Lucius arches an eyebrow. "Are you his friend?"
Draco gives a small snort. "Hardly. I just thought-- if you wanted help..."
"No. I suspect Potter would take one look at you and think, 'Wasn't one Malfoy in the same house as me bad enough?' No, you enjoy Switzerland. I only wanted to let you know he was here because there are bound to be rumors, and I wanted you to have the truth. Not, of course, that you are to share that truth with those otherwise deceived, Draco."
Draco looks affronted. "I'm not stupid, father."
"Oh, touche. Fine, yes, I know, 'Keep it secret, keep it safe' and all that."
"You're confusing me with another long-haired wizard. Keep me appraised of anything you hear, will you?" Lucius picks up some documentation from his desktop.
"Yes, of course. How long are you...keeping him there?"
Another silence, this one shorter, during which both again know what the other is thinking.
"I don't know yet."
Noncommittal mmph from Draco.
"I'll contact you with... developments, then."
"You can use Astarte to owl me. He has no problems with the altitude on the slopes here."
Draco nods his goodbye and disappears.
Lucius turns his attention back to the document in his hand. After a minute or two he takes another handful of powder and tosses it into the flames.
The face this time is of a man of middle age, clean-shaven and well-groomed in a way that says that the fat on his cheeks suggests a lifestyle that is well-off but spent mostly behind a desk.
"Sandleford. I need a favor."
As he heads towards the guest wing he mulls over the two unspoken moments of communication he had with his son.
It's all so contemptible. Broken little Harry Potter and broken conspired-against Sirius Black, caught up in something so base it's an affront.
Not incest. Both he and Draco know that's not it.
Lucius Malfoy has no such squeamishness for that. He is, after all, a Malfoy. His first lover was his own father. But it had been at Lucius's request; his father was, after all, a devastatingly handsome man. And he always had his son's best interests at heart. Who else would Lucius have wanted to guide him in his first sexual experience?
His son is beautiful. Draco has not, however, made a similar request. And unless he does, Lucius will not betray the covenant that a father must have with his son's welfare.
He knows that Draco knows this.
And that is what made the two of them grimace at the thought of what Black has done to Potter.
Not that they like the little brat.
And that was the other part of it.
Word of Potter's presence at the Malfoy manor will soon reach He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named.
Or, as Lucius has come to think of him privately, Fucking Captain Ahab.
It all made so much sense, years ago. Enslave the worthless Muggles. Teach the Mudblood upstarts their place. A commitment they could all drool over.
And now, ever since his return, all it's been is Get that stinking white whale that is the Potter boy.
It's just so fucking tedious.
Lucius knows that Voldemort will expect him to turn the boy over to him. Which might be the best thing for a number of reasons. First, there is the little matter that Voldemort will certainly kill him if he doesn't. Then, if he does destroy the boy at last, they can get back to the more desirable agenda of conquering the Muggle world.
But Lucius doubts it will be that simple. More likely, once Potter's dead at the Dark Lord's hands, Voldemort will then spend the next ten years gloating and reveling in his own cleverness, regaling all who will listen with every detail, again and again. And the next ten years after that he'll probably sink into a depressed funk over the fact that Potter's death means that there just aren't enough challenges anymore. Oh, he can just hear it.
Yesterday, Lucius would have been in precisely the same frame of mind as every other Death Eater, which was, if they'd had Potter in their power, they'd not so much present him to Voldemort with a "Look what I have brought for you, Master," as much as shove him at the madman with a "Take him and shut UP, for fuck's sake!"
Today, the idea of taking that pathetic little thing, reduced to whoring himself to stay anonymously tucked away from those with the power to punish his godfather if they learned the truth, to the Dark Lord as a tribute... well, let's just say he hopes he will always have a little more style than that.
Voldemort will not be pleased.
Voldemort can kiss his pale aristocratic arse.
"Kind of... plush, as torture chambers go, isn't it?"
The boy isn't smiling, even as he says it. Actually he looks terrified. The robe the house-elves found for him is a little large, and combined with the still-wet hair, makes him look even younger than he is.
He looks better for the bath, all the same.
"Yes. Well, the primary one's being refurbished. You'll have to settle for the backup. The bed folds up into an iron maiden precisely at midnight."
Potter glances at the bed, as if he's sure if Lucius is joking but can't help looking all the same.
Lucius is reasonably sure the boy has never been in quarters as opulent as these. And this isn't even the best of the guest suites. That one's just a little frilly; Lucius couldn't see the boy being comfortable there.
Though right now he looks as though he would find the torture chamber more comfortable. At least the suspense would be over with.
The boy swallows. "What... what are you going to do with me?"
Call the Ministry and let them grill you about your disappearance. Melt your bones in the furnace and bake you into a pie. Break you and turn you into a Death Eater. Tear that robe off you and ravish you. Turn you over to my master. Make you wear a turban and employ you as my houseboy.
What he says is, "You're going to stay here."
"For how long? Who did you tell I was here? Did you tell them what--" He stops.
"In reverse order, Harry: third, I have not given details of your activities to anyone in authority. Not where I found you, not what you were doing. Not why you ran away from home. And you know that I do know why."
Harry's eyes are wide, behind his glasses, and his mouth is small.
"So did he have it off on your leg as a dog, or was he actually in human form when he tried to mount you?" Lucius had said.
And the boy hadn't hissed at him, hadn't denied it, hadn't called him a sick evil bastard. Had frozen. And had made a noise in his throat that should never come from anyone over age five.
"Second, I had words with one particular member of the ministry. A representative of mine. And I told Draco, since I didn't like the awkward vision of him returning home and finding you here without warning. He's on holiday in Switzerland. And first, indefinitely. And possibly permanently."
Potter takes a moment to parse the sequence of his questions to that answer. "What does that mean?"
"It means that I've been granted temporary custody of you."
Lucius gives him his best do-be-serious look. "On the grounds that we're related."
"We're not related!"
Ah, that is interesting to see, that that fire of his hasn't been completely dampened.
"On the contrary. I think you'll find that you can make a link between any wizard families that aren't strictly muggle-born. You have to look a bit hard, but my representative Sandleford is good at that. By tomorrow, he'll have the information that you're my great-aunt's grandson's third wife's nephew, or something like that."
"Why did you tell them you needed custody?!"
"Not, as I just got through saying, because your godfather was in any way unfit. What are you trying to do, boy, make me pry each and every detail out of you? How many times, how many positions?"
The boy makes another one of those noises and stumbles back a step. His hands go up to his face.
Lucius is angry with himself. What, precisely was he trying to prove with that?
More quietly, he says, "You will find that most of the ministry, and the wizarding world at large, would think that it would be more advantageous for a Malfoy relative, no matter how distant, to be housed in luxury here, if the head of the house allows it, than for him to live with anyone else not actually of his blood. Unless contested. From what I surmise, Sirius Black will not dare to contest it."
Harry has lowered his hands. He bites his lip. "By your logic, I can prove Sirius is related to me too," he says with something like a little snarl.
Lucius will not lash out this time, he will not let himself. "Why, exactly, are you playing the fool? Of course this is merely a contrivance. I can sever the custody any time I choose. But this is precisely how I intend to keep the authorities from you for the moment, Potter. I'd think you could be glad of that."
The boy does not respond. At this moment Lucius is struck how this boy is nothing like Draco, for all that they are the same age, and strong-willed. Draco would look angry, or at least pout, at being corrected. Instead, Potter stands there unembarrassed to be seen pondering the logic that he hadn't before understood.
Enough of this.
"The house-elves can bring you food. They can bring you most anything you want, actually. Don't go wandering about unless you have one of them escorting you."
And night has fallen, and Lucius has the Potter boy under his roof. In a guest suite, not a dungeon.
What can he possibly tell the Dark Lord?
Why is even wondering about this?
Tear that robe off you and ravish you.
Oh, yes. He had thought that, hadn't he?
He remembers that the decanter of cognac in his room is at least half-full.
He awakens. Thwack.
He knows that sound. That's the sound of a house-elf smacking itself in the head.
"Bad Twizzle! Oh, Twizzle is a bad house-elf, Master Lucius!" Thwack!
"What is it, Twizzle?" he mutters, still not completely awake.
"Oh, Master Lucius, Twizzle did not keep a close eye on the guest, as Master had commanded! Twizzle did not see that the guest had gone out of his rooms! And now--"
Lucius is awake now. "Where's Potter now, Twizzle?"
Thwack! "The Vestibule Trap in the Study, Master Lucius!"
It's not nearly so bad as the house-elf's making it out to be.
The manor's restricted rooms have nothing so simple as locked doors, or Keep Out signs. Instead, each has a Vestibule Trap. Any unauthorized person entering suddenly finds himself facing blank wall before and behind him, doorless, and stuck in that small space until someone who is authorized comes to set him free.
Lucius, using a Lumos to guide him through the hall, approaches the door of the study. He thinks he can hear something from behind it: a voice, quite muffled: mumble-ORA, mumble-MORA. Punctuated by, he's not sure, but he thinks it's a sob.
Alohomora, he realizes. Because of the lack of doors on the inside of the trap, though, that won't work.
Lucius sets his hand on the door handle of the study. "Liberera."
At first he sees no one. Then he looks down.
Potter is sitting on the floor, pressed against the back wall of the Vestibule Trap, wand in hand. He's in mid-Alohomora. He's also crying, and clearly has been for some time. His face is slick with tears and mucus, and the sleeves of the black robe, which he's still in, have big wet patches all along them.
He swipes at his nose with one sleeve, blinking in the sudden light. Lucius can hear the breath hitching in the boy's chest.
Locked in a cupboard for the same amount of time.
"I did tell you not to go anywhere unescorted, did I not?"
The boy doesn't respond. Swipes at his face again.
"Come out of there, Potter."
He doesn't. He turns his face to the side.
Sighing (should have turned him over to Voldemort I was RIGHT the first time), Lucius crouches and extends a hand. "Come out, or I'll use Mobilicorpus on you. Don't think I won't."
It takes the boy a few moments, but at last he reaches for Lucius's hand, and allows himself to be pulled out. Lucius uses the momentum to pull Potter to his feet as well.
Though once there, the boy won't let go of his hand. He's shaking.
Lucius gets him back to the guest suite. Twizzle is following and making whimpering noises, but at least she's stopped hitting herself. And Potter seems to have stopped crying.
At the door, Lucius considers reiterating his warning about being escorted by the house-elves. But he doesn't. He knows why Potter didn't. The boy wasn't interested in the places he could go... only in the places he couldn't.
So instead, he says, "Get some sleep. Tomorrow, if you're so reluctant to bother the house-elves, I will show you the place. Including the exits that will actually let you outside."
The boy gives him a look as if to say You're going to waste your time playing tour guide to me? You must be mad.
Perhaps he is.
Lucius does not act proud of the manor and Potter does not act impressed. It is not a historical tour, it is an orientation. By the end of it, Lucius hopes that Potter has gleaned some idea of what he can do to keep himself entertained, and that, yes, he can get out of the manor if he wants. Lucius saw very quickly that Potter will do nothing but bash himself against the bars of his cage if he is not shown how to open the door.
But he hopes that once shown, the boy will elect to remain, for the moment.
Because if he bolts, Lucius will have to bring him back. He even can obey the legal niceties, now, in doing so.
He hopes Potter realizes that.
When he brings Potter full-circle back to his suite of rooms, the boy makes haste to retreat inside. Lucius lets him.
That afternoon, Lucius receives an owl from Sandleford. He and the boy are actually seventh cousins, he's surprised to see. The line traces, not unexpectedly, through his Great-Aunt Jeanne-Maire, who outlived three husbands and at the age of seventy-eight decided to take a fourth: her nineteen year-old stableboy. It had caused less scandal than if she'd wed a muggle, actually. Lucius has always had a fondness for Great-Aunt Jeanne-Maire.
Something else arrives that afternoon as well. A private communication from MacNair.
"Is it true?"
"Is what true?"
Framed by flames, MacNair looks irritated. "Don't pretend, Lucius. Do you have the boy?"
Lucius knows better than to dissemble. "Yes."
"And you're planning, what, a surprise? Word will reach him soon; he'll want to know why you have not turned him over."
I can hardly give you an answer I don't have myself.
"Not yet. He has information I need."
"What sort of information?"
"There's a sort of... smugness about him, that has me highly suspicious. I think he knows Voldemort's whereabouts. I need to find out how and who else knows."
"And a half-trained boy is keeping that from you? Really, Lucius, that shouldn't even require Veritaserum."
"You forget who this is." He is silent for a moment while he lets MacNair remember that. "We've seen the boy resist the Imperius. They might have him trained to resist Veritaserum as well. I'm trying to use other methods. That will take some time."
"And if our master does not agree?"
"Then he can come here and tell me so. Goodbye, Walden."
It surprises Lucius that he is as unconcerned as his words make him sound. No, he does not really fear Voldemort. Even if Voldemort did contact him directly, Lucius could make his plans sound sufficiently diabolical to please the Dark Lord. "I shall deliver him to you completely broken, with the full realization of how thoroughly he has betrayed those he loves..."
Voldemort would buy something like that. Which is a perfect illustration of how sad the whole crusade has become.
Lucius learns from the house-elves that Potter remains in his rooms for the remainder of the day.
And the next.
And the next.
They reassure him that the boy is eating, some. And sleeping.
And not building any manner of deathtraps over the door to his suite.
The day after that, Lucius finds Potter in an area he did not expect.
Dressed in plain black and grey clothing that looks as though he should be too warm in all those layers, Harry is standing in front of one of the library shelves, two volumes already in his arms, and he's starting to pull out a third.
He starts when he sees Lucius. "I-- you said..."
Lucius nods. "I did. Just try not to spill anything on them."
He is surprised that it is the library that has drawn Potter out. He would have expected the boy to perhaps be in the billiard room, or the stables. From what Draco's told him, the boy isn't the studious type.
But he has left his rooms, at any rate. And looks... not miserable and not terrified, for the first time.
Though more uncomfortable, now that he knows he's under Lucius's scrutiny.
Lucius turns to go. But then he turns back.
"Since you have made it this far from your suite without incident, I wonder if you would like to come to the dining room for lunch." He almost said dinner, thinking to give the boy a few hours to work up his courage, but had the inspiration that lunch would sound like a less formal event, one more likely for the boy to agree to.
He sees how the boy stands there, with the books in his arms. He holds them against his chest like a protective shield.
"What do I have to wear?" he says at last.
"That looks fine. Actually that looks a bit warm. Isn't that heavy for summer?"
"It's cold in here."
It's not. But then he remembers how thin the boy looked.
"Well. It's fine. I'll see you in an hour. Anything you don't like to eat? Or are allergic to?"
Harry looks at him. "Someone tried to make me drink hemlock last year. Didn't agree with me."
Lucius keeps a straight face as he says, "Ah. Well, I'll tell the house-elves not to serve you the quiche, then."
He takes a glance at the books Potter's holding as he turns and leaves. Not light reading, either. All are magic texts.
He sighs inwardly. He may have to have the house-elves increase the number of sweeps for deathtraps in the boy's rooms.
One thing he also did not expect is that this half-mudblood peasant of a child has excellent table manners.
He eats everything he's given, and accepts every time he's offered more, like the adolescent boy he is. Yet he's unfailingly polite (too polite, actually; he's obviously never been waited on at table by house-elves, who nearly drop the serving dishes the first time they hear him say thank you, and burst into tears over the bouillabaisse, salade nicoise, and cheese strata with each subsequent repetition), doesn't wolf his food, and even knows to leave his salad fork on the plate when that course is done. Lucius, who was prepared to be tolerant even if the boy had asked for catsup, cannot resist commenting.
"My... family... that is, my aunt and uncle..."
Lucius nods, exchanging a momentary look with Harry that lets him know he understands he is refraining from calling them that nest of spiders in muggle form.
"...well, they thought I was embarrassing enough just by being around; they wanted to make sure I didn't offend them with my presence any more than I had to, so I got yelled at a lot not to slurp soup, get my elbows off the table, that sort of thing. When they even let me eat at the table with them, of course. When I was eight Aunt Petunia made me read this etiquette book. I think it put me off reading for life."
"That would be a bit much at age eight."
"There I was, reading about the proper composition of a caviar spoon when I was never going to be eating caviar, and wondering why anyone would want to eat something as awful-sounding as fish eggs in the first place."
Lucius finds himself starting to smile. "And now?"
"What did you think of it?"
The boy's missing what he's asking, and Lucius is enjoying prolonging it. "Sorry?" Harry asks, bewildered.
"The caviar. That was it, the gold-colored mound on the toast points."
Harry blinks at him. "I ate fish eggs?"
"You ate everything on the plate, so, yes."
"Oh..." He considers. "I was wondering why the marmalade tasted so salty. I thought it was because of the house-elves crying in it."
The boy reacts to the lemon tart like God himself just anointed his tongue. After Potter's had his third slice, Lucius relents and tells the house-elves to put the rest of it directly in front of the boy. There isn't even a dot of raspberry sauce left on the plate when he's done-- he abandons manners and chases the last line of it with his finger.
Lucius watches the boy licking his finger and closing his eyes in unabashed juvenile ecstasy at the taste.
It's... startling, how much he reacts to that.
Harry stares at his finger like it holds all the secrets of the world. Slowly his _expression fades, loses that look of contentment.
He sits back and stares at his lap. Begins to fidget with his napkin.
Lucius watches that too.
"Why am I still here?" Harry says to his lap.
Lucius maintains a neutral _expression. "Where specifically?"
"I mean why am I here and not already in thirty separate pieces in Voldemort's lair?" he says very quickly. "Why am I sitting here talking about caviar spoons with you at your dining table, like that's all that we have concerning us?"
He considers. "Would you rather be talking about something else?"
Harry still doesn't look up. "What are you going to do with me?"
Lucius has found that the directness of that question is disconcerting. It conjures up possibilities, just as it did four nights ago.
Before he can speak, Harry continues: "Are you going to use me against Sirius?"
Lucius purses his lips. "Why would I want to do that?"
"Because I won't let you," Harry says, not answering the question but continuing his own thought. "I won't tell anyone anything."
"Such loyalty, for someone who betrayed you."
"It wasn't betrayal. He didn't know what he was doing! He--" The boy chokes off the rest of what he wanted to say. "You're... you're probably recording this. You'll put it in a Pensieve and try to use it as evidence."
"I suppose I could. If I wanted to." He hopes the boy is clever enough to understand that he would not speak like this if he meant to do exactly that. He is speaking to a seventeen-year-old, after all, who may not be sophisticated enough for this kind of diplomatic word play.
"What do you want?"
Again, that direct question. Watch you lick raspberry sauce off your fingers.
"Perhaps I find it entertaining to have The Boy Who Lived under my roof."
How odd. He's just told him the unadorned truth.
Harry looks at him, momentarily at a loss. Then: "What happens when I'm no longer entertaining?"
"I said, find it entertaining. I'm not expecting you to dance, Potter."
"Good, because I suck at it." It's said with a little hostility, not meant to make anyone smile.
"You think that, don't you? That I will send you to Voldemort any moment."
"What else am I supposed to think?"
You and everyone else. "True. All you know is that so far I have not."
The boy nods, slowly.
"Nor have I asked you to trust me. Or tried to give you any other excuse. I think you've been through something so vastly dreadful that it was important to just let you be, so far."
"Why should I think that you care? Why should you care?"
Lucius spends a few moments turning the demitasse in front of him around in its saucer before he answers. He has to fight an urge to tell the whole truth. That would be dangerous for him.
"Because I do not like the way that most people would think what I did, when I first saw you: look how far the boy hero has fallen. When the truth of the matter is that you were still doing all you could to play the hero." He lifts the cup and drains the last sip from it. "I think you are a childish fool to want to do so, but... that does not mean that your will is any less."
Very quietly: "I won't let him go back to Azkaban."
"You should still want him to answer for what he's done."
"He needs help."
"Then someone will have to know."
"No. If you tell anyone I swear I'll kill you!"
"Listen to yourself. Making death threats like the child you are." He holds up a hand as Harry starts to speak. "And before you start to protest that you are not a child anymore, I will remind you that that is precisely what you will always be to Sirius Black. His godchild. No matter how old you are. And that is why you cannot make any reasonable decision about this yourself."
He sees Harry trying to calm himself. "If you tell anyone I'll deny it. I'll find a way to turn it against you. I swear I will."
Lucius looks at him. He does not want to bargain with the boy. Not over this. "Harry, I have no intention of telling anyone. I'm not interested in creating scandal, nor do I have any particular history with Black that prompts me to vengeance. I'm merely pointing out that your wish to protect him is misplaced. He should have been protecting you."
"Why should I believe you?"
Lucius smiles. "I suppose you'll just have to trust me."
Harry doesn't smile. But that frantic fury goes from his face. For a moment, Lucius sees something like longing there, as if he wants, very much, to talk about it with someone. But then the boy controls himself.
"So let that be an end to that portion of your fears," Lucius says at last.
He knows he cannot give any reassurance as to the other. Not more than he has. And Potter does not ask.
"Did you find what you were looking for in the library?"
Several heartbeats pass while Potter regards him with a side glance. At last he appears to decide that, yes, he will allow the subject to be changed, will try to pretend that they can be civil. "Not yet."
Interesting. "The house-elves tailored the clothing for you, you know. If there's anything you need in regard to that, riding clothes, other sportive attire, that sort of thing, just let them know."
A murmur. "I wish I had my broom."
"You may borrow one, if you like." Lucius does not say anything like Don't go too far. If the boy chooses to run he will. But having a broom will not make any difference: the boy still must have a place to go, first.
Oh, how those eyes are transformed with just the smallest bit of hopefulness in them.
"You've been inside for days. Go right ahead. It'll do you good."
A little cloud passes over the look in his eyes. "I would like to... I need to spend more time in the library, though."
"Well. It's not as if there are other things pressing on your schedule. You can make time for both."
Harry doesn't say anything, but he appears to see the feasibility of this.
"And while you are under this roof, I would very much appreciate it if you would please refrain from engineering any attempts to get me to present clothing to my remaining house-elves. I might find myself being less than charitable if you do."
At one time, he'd probably have seen a mischievous spark light in Potter's eye at that. Not today. The boy merely nods.
"Is there anyone you do want to let know that you are here, Harry? Or at least let know that you are--" He stops himself before he says safe.
The boy bites his lip. "Not-- yet..."
"As you wish."
The silence stretches on. Lucius is determined to let Potter break it.
The boy picks up an invisible crumb off his plate with his finger. "So when's dinner?"
Lucius looks at the utterly denuded tart plate in front of Harry, and raises his eyebrows at the boy.
"You mean we can have this lemon thing again?" Potter says with deliberate ingenuousness. "Oh, good."
Potter actually spends more time in the library than outside, for the next two days. But then, one of the house-elves, who have been instructed to let Lucius know of Potter's habits and any changes in them, brings him word that the boy has been wandering through the ballroom for a little over an hour, seemingly without purpose. Curious, Lucius decides to check on him.
He finds Potter staring at the portraits on the walls. Great-Aunt Jeanne-Maire is making balloon animals in hers. Try as they might, no one was ever able to get the dear lady to appreciate the refinement of embroidery.
She is showing Harry a particularly fine giraffe when the boy hears Lucius's footfall and turns to see him. Great-Aunt Jeanne-Maire waves and gives the end of the giraffe a twist, and the whole structure deflates and goes thbppting through the air, all around the confines of the picture frame. Harry smiles.
Lucius is struck by how much more natural an _expression that is for him. Which is probably a bit odd, given how little smiling the boy must have done during his childhood.
"She's good at that," the boy says.
"She is that."
Harry turns his head toward the opposite end of the ballroom. "I was wondering... Mrs. Malfoy, is she in Switzerland too?"
The portrait of Narcissa, done ten years ago, shows her staring out a window frame. It has always made him think of Snow White's doomed mother.
"No. No, she's not." Though the custody claim was only a contrivance, Lucius thinks that will simply not be enough of an explanation if the boy is living here. "The year Draco went to Hogwarts, his mother decided that she had done her duty in bearing and raising a Malfoy heir. She and I separated. She moved to Singapore, to be with one branch of the family, as she had long desired to do."
"Oh... That's... too bad."
Potter's awkwardness sounds rooted in sincerity, which surprises Lucius. "We got along, the years we were together. Some arranged marriages have done worse. And she and Draco are fond of each other. Every so often we reunite for civility's sake... family reunions, opera premieres, Quidditch World Cups. It pleases Draco."
"I thought-- it seemed--" The boy tries again. "I can't explain it but the place didn't feel like she was living here."
"No. That feminine decorating touch hasn't been here for years. Even her rooms were redone. The main guest suite, on the other hand, was redecorated to suit her if she ever decides to stay, but she never returned to the manor once she left it." Potter still has a look on his face like this is all very sad. It irritates Lucius. "We've lived apart long enough that either one of us could divorce the other uncontested, if we desired, but it's never seemed important. Don't look so melancholy, boy."
Potter opens his mouth, as if to say Pardon me for existing, or I couldn't care less about your loveless family, or Don't call me boy. But then he shuts it, carefully lets his own irritation at the rebuke fade from his face, and merely nods.
"You hold family reunions in here?" he says, turning away to walk toward the middle of the ballroom."
"Once in a while," Lucius says, admittedly impressed that the boy can choose to make peace himself, for all his youth.
He catches sight of Great-Aunt Jeanne-Maire signaling to him from her portrait. She points at Harry's retreating back, then brings the fingertips of her right hand-- all touching each other-- to her lips and gives a silent Mmwahhh! gesture, splaying out her fingers in appreciation as if Potter is some exquisite chef d'oeuvre. She grins.
Lucius scowls at her.
Harry is looking around as if the idea of a hundred Malfoys gathered in this room is too intimidating for him to contemplate.
Suddenly the room seems too small, to Lucius, for even two of them.
No matter how distant one of them may be.
When the ward breaks two nights later Lucius is aware of it instantly.
No house-elf has to bring him this news. This is nothing so small as a restricted door. This is someone the manor recognizes as intruder, yet who has managed to bypass the outer doors and outer wards, and has only now tripped something deep within. The manor defenses fairly scream in his head.
It's the guest suite.
And yet Lucius knows it's not Potter.
Not Potter's doing, that is.
He apparates just outside the door to the suite.
He knows one set of the sounds coming from within. They are the sounds a human throat makes when it wants to scream, but the pain the human is suffering is so great that no such scream is possible.
He knows the other set of sounds as well. Snarling words in a voice he is all too familiar with:
"...is it that you know, boy, that he is trying to get out of you? Tell me!"
"My master will not be denied any longer! I will take you to him--"
Lucius throws the door open and crosses the room in three strides. His wand is in his hand and he doesn't even think about using it.
He wrenches Pettigrew off of Potter, that silver hand of Pettigrew's on the boy's arm, where the merest touch of it on flesh can initiate the Cruciatus with a thought, and flings him halfway across the room.
He keeps his eyes on Pettigrew as he crashes to the floor, and lies there, and starts to push himself up. "Lucius--" he starts to say.
"You cannot keep--"
Lucius has him by the throat and finishes pulling him to his feet by means of it. "You dare tell me what I cannot do in my own house? I should kill you, Wormtail."
He shoots one look back at Harry-- a quick one, knowing Pettigrew will use any opportunity to strike. The boy had been splayed half on and half off the bed, trying to escape the agony of the Cruciatus; now he is recovered enough to be watching the two men.
Lucius strong-arms the short form of Pettigrew back towards the door. "Come with me, you pathetic little thug." Pettigrew stumbles backwards, trying to get free yet not daring to use the full powers of his silver arm on him, until they are in the hallway outside of the suite.
Lucius pushes him against the wall. Pettigrew screeches, "You bend the rules too much, Lucius! Do you think our master will let you keep his prize from him? Whatever reason you give?"
"You fool." Lucius brings his face close to the other man's. "What I will bring to the Dark Lord will be even greater, greater than a mere victim for torture and death, than you or even he can imagine, but only if you let me finish this! Do you know how much work you may have undone tonight? I swear, Wormtail, if you or any of the rest try anything like this again, I will kill you without hesitation! And yes, I will be increasing the sensitivity of the wards so that even a rat will be incinerated by them without so much as a warning! Get out, you fool!" he repeats, releasing him with a shove.
Pettigrew slides along the wall, out of reach of Lucius. "I shall be reporting this directly to our Lord. Whatever you do intend to deliver, Lucius... it had better be beyond his imaginings. And quite, quite soon. Or all your protests about 'in your own house' will be ludicrous, given that he'll make sure you never see anything beyond dungeon walls for the rest of your assuredly short life." He takes another step away. "Apparate."
He is gone.
Lucius turns back to the door and sees that Potter is standing there, wand in hand. Fuck. How much did he hear?
The boy folds his arms as he starts to shiver. He looks much as he did on that first night: vulnerable, younger even than his years, particularly in bare feet and with his pajama top hanging askew, baring one slender shoulder. Yet he does not seem to be afraid of Lucius.
Harry swallows audibly. Lucius crosses to him, aware that he himself is clad in only black silk pajama bottoms, knowing that this amount of deshabille could work either for or against him in trying to seem less intimidating to the boy. Probably the Dark Mark, visible on his left forearm, doesn't help.
He wants to explain that he said what it was necessary for him to say, that there is no such plot at work here. But how could he prove that?
Instead he says, "Are you all right?"
Harry nods, still shivering.
Lucius wonders that he isn't, as well. For all the attempts at deception, he is aware that he cannot go back. He has made the choice to oppose something Voldemort wants.
It is very hard to be selective, in these kinds of things. You do not oppose just one thing, when it comes to the Dark Lord. You are his or you are not.
Lucius realizes that he hasn't been his for a long time. Neither have most of the others.
So what, exactly, is he supposed to do about that?
Again: where introspection takes too long, act first. His act is to take the boy's arm and lead him back into his rooms.
"I would like to set a house-elf in here, with you, to stand guard for the rest of the night. In the morning I will work on strengthening the wards."
Harry nods again.
"Do you think you can try to get some sleep? I am not sanguine about giving you either a sleeping charm or potion, under the circumstances."
Harry's response is almost swallowed, but Lucius can barely hear: "...'ll try."
"Good boy." He sets his hand under the boy's elbow and gives him a little steer towards the bed. Harry sits on the very edge of it, looking at it as though uncertain how he'll ever get back in it.
Lucius gives him what he hopes is an encouraging nod, and turns, intending to find Twizzle or Yum-Yum or Wubbley, wondering for not the first time why house-elves can't have less embarrassing names to go calling for. (If he ever finds one called Pemberton he will personally kiss its feet.)
He turns back. It's the first time the boy's called him by name; he's not surprised he stumbled over it.
Very quietly: "Thank you."
Lucius looks at him. The boy still hasn't straightened his pajama top; he can see, along with the round curve of his shoulder, the shadow cupped in his collarbone, the crease that marks his armpit. How his thinness emphasizes the split in the two bellies of the neck muscle, leaving him to think he can see the pulse in that space.
What is remarkable is how easily he can ignore all that just to look at the boy's eyes.
He turns away before Potter does, leaves the suite, and goes to find a house-elf.
In the morning, he strengthens the wards.
In the afternoon, he begins to develop the story he will present to Voldemort. He begins with what he told MacNair, and works from there. Some of it is obvious; if he tempts Voldemort with the possibility that it will lead to the weakening of Albus Dumbledore, the Dark Lord must certainly bite. He does not want to make up anything about trying to turn Harry to their side; if Voldemort is not interested in that then there will be nothing further he can do.
In the evening, he has Harry join him in the dining room for dinner. The house-elves tell him that Potter did not leave the suite of rooms all day, and did not attempt to do much while there, not even read the number of texts he's taken from the library. Lucius does not want the previous night's events to drive the boy back into any kind of shell, and so asks Harry to join him in a way that brooks no argument.
He tries to create as much an atmosphere of normalcy as possible at dinner. Not artificially light, but normal. Though if you asked him his definition of normal under circumstances that had him protecting Harry Potter under his own roof, he'd shake his head and agree that the world must have, indeed, gone mad.
The boy is quiet during dinner. Lucius has to initiate every exchange. It shouldn't be any worse of an effort than he's had to make at many a dinner party, but there is the complication that Potter has chosen to wear a grey vest and black shirt that, left open at the throat, emphasizes his pale skin, and shows enough of it to be distracting.
This is getting to be a problem.
He's not disturbed by his lust for the boy. Hardly. He's just going to be bloody frustrated by it.
He remembers Harry's hand on his cloak in Knockturn Alley.
If I had known...
No. He stops that thought. He's not ready to joke about it.
They do share a spontaneously pleasant moment at dessert when Harry discovers the exquisiteness that is creme brulee. He actually tries to steal the candy crust off of Lucius's portion by pointing behind him and saying, "Look! Wormtail's back!"
It's almost worth the loss of half the layer of caramelized sugar to realize that the boy is not so traumatized by the previous night's events as he had feared.
He parts with Harry at the door of the dining room, and is treated to the sound of the boy using his name for the second time: "Good night, Lucius." It sounds almost as if the boy took a deep mental breath before saying it, so as not to stammer this time.
Interesting, to find he'd actually rather liked the stammer.
In midafternoon of the next day, Lucius turns from the desk in his study and almost jumps to find a house-elf standing there in utter quiet.
"Harry Potter wants Master Lucius, sir."
Lucius raises an eyebrow. "Where is he?"
"In the library, sir."
Glad it does not sound like any kind of emergency, Lucius still feels he should stop what he is doing and go now. The boy has never asked to see him before.
Apparating to the hallway outside the library (he tries never to apparate directly into a room where someone already is; too many risks for splinching that way), he enters.
Harry is at one of the far desks, with another heavy tome open in front of him. He looks up as he hears Lucius approach, but says nothing.
Lucius gets all the way to the desk. Potter still says nothing.
The boy just stares. "What?"
"What is it?" Lucius says, unable to keep just a little irritation from coloring his voice.
A pause. "I'm sorry-- I don't know what you're asking me."
Lucius blinks. "A house-elf said you wanted to see me."
Potter's mouth makes a little o, but not one of understanding. "I-- I'm sorry," he repeats, "but no, I- I didn't ask them to fetch you. I'm sorry if--"
The house-elves don't make mistakes like this. Lucius has to bite back an Are you sure?
Instead, he says, "Well. Sorry to have disturbed you."
The boy shakes his head quickly. "You're not. Did you want to--"
"No. I was doing something else. I'll see you at dinner. Apparate."
Back in his study, there is no sign of the house-elf. If Wubbley were there, he'd be getting struck about the head right now. Lucius does not like being interrupted, nor looking foolish.
Nor does he feel like hunting for Wubbley right now. He returns to business.
"Is Master Lucius awake?"
"He is now. What is it, Twizzle?"
"Twizzle is sorry to disturb Master Lucius--"
The universe hated him. "Get on with it, Twizzle."
"Harry Potter wants Master Lucius, sir."
He's awake. "Oh no you don't. Not again. What was all that about earlier, with Wubbley?"
"Did Potter specifically ask me to come see him?"
Twizzle blinks at him. "No, sir," she says after a moment.
"Then how dare you wake me with--"
He stops. It was the bewildered _expression on Twizzle's face that told him. As if what he'd asked had nothing to do with what she'd said.
A house-elf said you wanted to see me.
No he hadn't.
Potter's in the guest suite. So the elves treat him as they do all guests.
Part of their duty is to convey a guest's desires to his host.
If it were not the house-elves, he could say they were using the wrong words. Or that they were reading the situation wrong.
House-elves don't make those mistakes.
Fucking, fucking hell.
Yes. He's very, very much awake now.
Potter says, "Good morning," and slides into his usual chair.
Lucius looks at him. Today the shirt is dark blue, and sleeveless.
"I thought you were cold in here."
Potter shrugs. "Not so much any more."
Lucius turns back to his toast. "You look cold. Go put something else on."
I can't eat breakfast looking at your deltoids like that. And I know what you're doing.
And you don't.
"You're all over gooseflesh. You're cold. I said, go put on another shirt."
The boy's lips part. Then close. Then part again. "What is it?"
He keeps his attention on the toast. "What is what."
"What's got you in a bad mood that you're taking it out on me?" The boy's starting to look annoyed.
And suddenly he blanches.
Lucius notices that. Also notices that Harry is clutching at the edge of the table.
"You're going to do it, aren't you?" the boy whispers.
"Do what?" Lucius says suspiciously, putting down the toast.
Harry looks like he's going to faint. "You're..." He swallows. "You're not going to fight him anymore. Not for me."
"Oh, for..." Lucius says. "No, you idiot boy, I'm not turning you over to Voldemort. Have you not realized that yet? Eat breakfast and don't be so dramatic."
To his relief, the boy's eyes lose that starting-to-be-frantic look. He wonders that Potter should believe him so readily. He knows the boy heard his exchange with Pettigrew the other night.
Potter pushes at one piece of toast on his plate but doesn't pick it up. He's staring down at it.
Lucius sees that his lower lip is pushed out very, very slightly.
That's it. He's never going to make it. He wants nothing more right now than to seize that lip between his own teeth and bite it.
He will not just turn and walk out of the dining room. He will not.
"I will be away for part of the day. It might be best if you stayed indoors. I hope that doesn't disappoint you too badly."
He had meant, staying indoors. But remembering what he knows, he realizes uncomfortably that Potter may take it another way.
The boy looks at him.
Looks back at his plate, picks up the toast, and begins to eat it.
Lucius visits an establishment well-known to him, where an exquisitely lovely boy of Moroccan origin parts his lips and sighs, in several different languages, words of need and satisfaction during the hours that Lucius spends himself on him, making use of his body like an antipyretic, turning him into every position imaginable on cotton sheets with a thread count so high they feel like clouds should feel. The courtesan sheds tears several times and calls him a god.
The image of wide green eyes continues to impose itself on Lucius's thoughts throughout the entire encounter. Perhaps he should have chosen a girl today.
Nevertheless, he is sated enough to be drifting off himself, later in the afternoon, as he listens to the sleepy breathing of the boy underneath him, when he suddenly makes himself wake up fully. For this, he left Potter alone at the manor. Warded, yes, but with no one but the house-elves in the entire place.
He was so overcome by his need for the boy under his roof that he could not even think rationally in his flight.
This does not happen to Lucius Malfoy.
He is never blinded by lust. Before anything can affect his judgment like that, he will have solved the problem by satisfying that urge. And always on the object of that lust.
He rises, dresses, gives the boy a handsome gratuity, and apparates back to the manor.
He expects to find Potter in the library and he does. There is a minute where he can watch him unobserved, and he does that as well.
The boy is turning pages in one particular volume at something of a rapid rate, skimming over each with an obvious increase in frustration. At last he slams the text shut, pushes it away from him like it is food gone spoiled, and buries his fingers in his hair, elbows on the table in front of him.
He sits there like that, unmoving. Lucius does not think he is crying but he looks like he wants to.
At last Lucius makes some noise to call attention to himself. Potter lifts his head.
Neither of them speak at first, then Lucius says, "Are you all right?"
The boy stares, then slowly shakes his head.
"What is it?"
Harry has not looked away. "You..." He does not finish.
Lucius isn't sure he wants him to.
"You ran from me."
No, he definitely didn't want him to.
He is suddenly furious. He does not have to explain himself to this boy. He does not worry about hurting anyone's fucking feelings. He does not run from something that he wants. Ever.
Yet today, he ran. Today, he was obsessed with not hurting Potter.
And now he is overwhelmed with the need to explain.
"You stupid, ignorant child. Who do you think you are talking to?" He crosses to Potter, slowly. "I am not your friend, boy. Not your parent, not your confidant, not anyone with your best interests at heart. This is not some dance of niceties that I will dance with you; if you push in the least I will lash out and you will be left with the aftermath. If you did not know this before, you had better learn it now."
Potter is shaking his head. "I'm not-- it's not a dance. I know what you want. I don't know why you ran."
It takes Lucius a second to break the most important part of that down.
He sneers. "You think it is so simple. You want, I want, and that is all. You have no idea what you want. What you want is comfort, and compassion, and a way to regain all the trust you once had. I do not give those things, boy. And unlike you, I do not confuse them with sex."
"Yes." He seizes the boy by the arms and hauls him to his feet. "Run somewhere else for those things, Harry Potter. From me, you will get none of them."
"I already have!" the boy yells, resisting Lucius's grip on his arms by the way he tenses, yet not trying to pull away. "You're lying and you don't even know it!"
The accusation surprises him enough that he does not speak at first, giving Potter time to continue. "You already showed me I could trust."
It stops him. He is truly glad when it does. He is not sure where his anger would have taken him.
But he is still sneering when he says, "How can you be so convinced of that?"
"Because I'm still here. Not in Voldemort's lair."
"Do you not see how you are so completely a child? That you think it is as simple as that?" he lies, aware that it is as simple as that. "How do you know that this isn't Voldemort's lair? That this isn't the training ground for me to carve you into the shape of another of his devoted Death Eaters?"
"Because I know. "
"You do not know a thing."
"I know you want me." The boy's voice breaks as he says it, and he ducks his face away after he has. "I whored, remember? I'm not completely clueless about those sorts of signals anymore."
"Oh, I'm sorry, I must have forgotten about that. Forgotten that I found you, less than two weeks ago, so frightened that your godfather, who'd been fucking you, would be sent back to Azkaban, that you were well on your way to becoming a skilled little harlot in Knockturn Alley."
"Don't," Harry says, ducking even further.
"Oh, yes, I think I will." Lucius still has his hands on the boy's arms, and now he pushes him back against the wall, his face close to Harry's. "Sodomized by his godfather like any pathetic, powerless muggle child. And like a child, unable to accept that it was betrayal. I heard you say he didn't know what he was doing."
A tear spills down the boy's cheek. "He didn't."
"You infant. You are so fragile you could shatter. Not because you were a whore; no, I told you what I thought of that. It was probably the greatest moment of strength you will have in your life. But now you have decided that I can make you forget."
Lucius goes on as if he has not spoken. "I have many things I want to make you do. Cry. Moan. Feel. Pant. Beg. Bleed. Come. You think you want those things as well. But what you really want is something no one can make you do. Forget. I will no more have you like this than I would give a starving child a banquet carved from soap, no matter how much the child screamed that he wanted it."
He shoves Potter away from him. At this moment, doing this to him, this vicious rejection, is as satisfying a feeling as any he could have from the boy. The satisfaction gorges him, like a huge meal.
He turns his back on the boy and starts to walk away.
"You don't know!" Two arms are around his waist as if the person they belong to would tackle him. Instead, the boy just holds on. It's a very dangerous move; Lucius's instinct is to go for his wand and he has to fight that.
If he turns around, he'll have to face the boy. Instead he forces himself to remain still as Potter presses against his back.
Again, that satiety of pleasure as he sees himself like this, controlled, unmoved. Even by the beautiful desperate figure clinging to him.
"That isn't it at all," Potter whispers. "I don't want--"
The boy stops. Lucius hears him inhale. No, it's more of a sniff. Harry's face is pressed to his shoulder, almost at the back of his neck.
And then he is released. He turns, sees the boy stepping back, his face stricken.
"You-- you wanted me-- you left me to--"
He does not run for the library door. But it is almost that fast.
Lucius lets him. Recalls that no, he hadn't showered after his thorough encounter with the boy courtesan.
Now he doesn't feel satisfied anymore. Potter's distress has robbed him of that somehow.
He knows just how badly I wanted him.
And that I, who never deny myself anything, denied myself him. I sought out another because I would not let myself have him.
Just which one of the two of them is the most fucked-up here?
It seems it's no longer an easy question.
Potter doesn't join him for dinner, or breakfast. This does not surprise Lucius. Nor does he seek the boy out.
He gets another message by fireplace from MacNair. He imagines himself telling the face in the flames that he's done with the boy, that he hasn't the patience to try any longer, that Voldemort can have him at last.
It's something he imagines. Not something he actually considers.
Instead he feeds MacNair some of the details he worked out the previous day. MacNair looks neither skeptical or impressed, but agrees to speak with Pettigrew and give him the information.
Lucius also gets an owl from Draco. The message's tone is deliberately casual; all his son mentions concerning Potter is that he doesn't want "the Gryffindor git" touching his broom.
Lucius does not go to the library, though the house-elves tell him, when he asks, that Potter has not gone outside his rooms all that day, and that he hasn't eaten.
He does go to the ballroom.
Great-Aunt Jeanne-Maire takes one look at him and gives him a severe stare. But she says nothing. Instead, she makes a balloon into the shape of a donkey. She twists the head around, pretending to stuff the head into the donkey's own backside, and shakes it at him meaningfully.
He scowls again. Why did he ever think he liked the old bat?
He looks at his own portrait, done ten years ago, like Narcissa's.
He is always posed, in his portrait. He never reads, or plays solitaire, and never, ever interacts with any observers. Just sits there with his hand on the head of the greyhound, who sometimes noses his hand in a wish to be petted.
Lucius can at least be honest with himself and know that his objections to slaking his lust on the willing Harry have nothing to do with age. He knows he looks hardly any older now than he does in that ten year old portrait. And that he is a piece of work, whatever age, face the result of such careful breeding, patrician and finely made, body more precisely cared for and honed than those of men half his age.
What was it that happened, two days ago, that told the house-elves the boy's desires? Was he staring at this portrait and sighing? Sketching lewd pictures in the margins of the books? The second time was the middle of the night. He imagines Potter lying on his back in bed, left hand behind his head, the other under the sheets... murmuring a name as he comes.
Bloody meddling house-elves.
He retreats to his study. He has cognac in there as well, but the decanter is nearly empty. It would be the work of a moment to have a house-elf bring more, but he seems to feel the decanter's status is some kind of sign that he should not get too drunk tonight. As if he can feel another attack being planned.
His instincts are not completely wrong. Though it's not an attack.
When he leaves the study, twilight just visible out the windows, Potter is waiting for him.
Sitting on the floor in the hallway in front of the door.
He has no idea how long the boy has been there. It could have been hours. Lucius is not sure if he finds this touching or contemptible.
Potter looks at him. "I had to forbid the house-elves to tell you I wanted to see you." A wan smile flickers over his face. "It's hard to make a pathetic dramatic statement in this place."
Lucius opens the study door a little wider. "Come in and sit down."
The boy shakes his head. "If I get up from this spot I'll never get it said."
Lucius considers if he wants to hear it.
Folds his arms and leans against the doorjamb.
The boy swallows.
"You're wrong about me wanting to use you to forget. You're wrong about me wanting to forget at all. I don't know what Sirius is doing right now. If he's still at the house. Or what. But when I left, he needed help. I can't forget that. Even if I wanted to, I can't let myself."
He takes a deep breath. "You're wrong about what you can give me. You gave it the day you brought me here. Somewhere I didn't have to worry about being found. Or being... hurt. I could... think about what to do, about Sirius. There was no room for thinking about that, before.
"And you didn't turn me over to Voldemort. If I'd just been a body to you that wouldn't have stopped you. I saw right away that you wanted me, that way. But you wouldn't have risked Voldemort's anger for just that."
"No. Because then you would have had me, right away. But you didn't. You saved me, there in Knockturn Alley... and you went on saving me, just by every day you kept me here... and then you saved me again, when Wormtail came. But you never touched me." He bites his lips. "What was I supposed to think about that?"
Put like that, what, for that matter, was he thinking?
"I know," Harry goes on in a rush, "that you think I've just... imprinted on you, like I'm some kind of -- baby duckling... But that's not it. You're beautiful." Harry's face is starting to flame. Lucius sees that and wonders that he can continue to stand there, arms folded. "The night you pulled Wormtail off of me-- I thought it was an Archangel that had come. I want you so much. Not for comfort-- you gave me that. Not to restore trust-- you already restored that. If you tell me I'm just influenced because you saved me, then I'll say, hell, yes. Why shouldn't I be?" His eyes are just a little angry; the sound that comes out of his chest just then would be a sob if not for the anger. "You saw it. Yesterday. And you couldn't get away from me fast enough. Dammit, why did you do that?"
"You mean, how dare I presume to protect you once again?" Lucius's mouth twists.
The two regard each other silently for a time. At last Lucius says, "Do you understand what I want to do to you? I want no half-measures from anyone. And certainly not from you. No casual tryst, Harry. No lazy interlude of mutual exploration. I want to consume you. I want to burn myself deep into your skin like a brand. For you to carry the smell of me on you for the rest of your life. For you to weigh every other lover you have in your life against me, and find them all so wanting it makes you weep. This is how I am, Harry. You have no idea what you are asking for. And I would never hold back, once I had begun."
Harry stares back. His lips are parted. He starts to speak, but has to swallow first. "And you think I can't handle that."
"You can't. Not so soon after all you've been through."
Harry gives one, short, derisive bark that could never be called a laugh. "I think it sounds just as demanding for you."
"You presumptuous little brat."
"If I'm presumptuous, then so are you. You're the one who said I would find no compassion or trust from you. Like it'll fuck your reputation up or something." The boy stands up, drawing himself up in front of Lucius as though he is preparing to take flight into the air. "I'm not trying to forget. I do want to be... whole, again. Not what I was. I know that. I'm not stupid. But whole."
He hears the boy say that, and this time wonders, not at the oddness of the choices he has made, but how he missed this. This... force, that is the boy. Not his body, not just his will, but the creature inside both.
Grieving, but not broken.
"If you didn't want me I wouldn't want your compassion as a substitute. If you thought of me as damaged goods that needed a pity fuck I'd just be pissed. I could hardly blame you
but I'd be pissed." He swallows again. "But you don't."
He is waiting for something. Lucius gives it to him. "No."
"That you tell me you want... all of that from me..." A little anger again. "Dammit, if this whole thing is about me being too young I will break your face."
The image of Harry launching himself toward Lucius like a small whirlwind, pummeling anything he can, makes Lucius smile.
But Harry takes it as mockery, from the snarl that draws his lips back from his teeth. He does not, however, launch himself, but turns and begins to storm down the hall.
Lucius looks at his retreating back.
Lifts his hand.
"Accio Harry Potter," he shouts.
The boy freezes, bracing himself for the expected.
Which doesn't come.
Slowly he turns to look back at Lucius.
Who is still standing with his hand outstretched. There's no wand in it.
Just his hand.
Finally, "Don't joke," he says in a shaky voice.
"Be sure," Lucius says quietly.
Slowly Harry approaches. When he gets to Lucius he stops. He looks at the outstretched hand.
Lucius sees him lick his lips. Though it inflames him, he can see there's nothing lascivious intended in it. The boy's gathering his courage.
Slowly he takes Lucius's hand in one of his. Looks at the palm as though he wants to kiss it, but he doesn't.
Instead he draws the hand up to the side of his face. Puts Lucius's fingertips against his cheek.
Only then does he look back up at him.
Lucius moves that hand. Slides it back along the line of the boy's cheekbone, and past his jaw. Cups the jaw in his hand.
Harry doesn't look away.
Lucius bends his head and pulls the boy's mouth into his. He hears the smallest of noises from Harry's throat as he does.
He burns him.
He opens the boy's mouth with his tongue, and Harry's tongue answers. It is not so bold an answer as his words had been, but Lucius expected that; indeed, he would have been disappointed if Harry had no qualms whatsoever about this.
If he thought there was nothing for him to be frightened of.
His arm goes around the boy's body, pulling him in as he deepens the kiss even further. Hears Harry's breathing as it quickens. Another of those sounds, deep in his throat, this one louder, as Lucius explores every crevice in his mouth with his tongue, forcing the boy to yield up every taste, from any food or drink that's touched his mouth that day to the essential flavor of his flesh to the remnant salt of tears that still lingers, stronger than any audible confession, on his lips.
For a moment Lucius wonders who is going to burn who.
Wonders it for longer than a moment actually.
But he needn't doubt himself. Suddenly Potter's weight is on his arm as the boy's knees give out, and their mouths separate just that abruptly, Harry's hands clinging to Lucius's arms, the boy's mouth pressed to his shoulder, the moisture and heat of his breathing dampening the fabric of Lucius's shirt in a way that seems to sear his skin in just the way he imagined.
The idea of Potter's guileless passion-- make no mistake, no matter what the boy did in Knockturn Alley, Lucius knows there is still nothing but innocence there-- consuming him, yet quite differently from the way he intends to send the boy up into flames, is remarkable but feeling more and more like a possibility, leaving Lucius to wonder if there will be nothing left of them but ashes before they even get to a bed.
He could take him here in the hallway, up against the wall, and he could still guarantee it would be the greatest experience of the boy's life, now or to come.
But he doesn't need to.
He has both his arms wrapped around the boy. He could apparate the two of them to his room. But has no intention of missing out on this opportunity.
As if the boy weighs nothing, he sweeps him up in his arms. He hears Potter inhale, feels him tense momentarily, and then melt against his chest.
And then the boy slides his hand to the back of Lucius's neck and pulls him down into a kiss. What it lacks in experience it makes up in need. Lucius lets him return the exploration of his mouth, endearing in its lack of skill, waiting until Potter pulls back, breathless and staring, before he shifts the boy's position in his arms to make carrying him easiest.
Neither of them say a word, all the way to the room. The boy presses his face to Lucius's chest, and again Lucius can feel his breath through his shirt.
Once within the bedroom he does not put him down right away. He lets him survey the room for a moment, the four-poster bed of the master suite twice the size of the one in the guest suite Potter's been in these past two weeks. The light's perfect, dimmed for atmosphere but not low enough to hide a thing.
Lucius doesn't kiss him again, not just yet. He sets the boy down on his feet, puts a finger under his chin and tips up his head to look him in the eyes. "Stand very still. Put your hands at your sides. Don't move unless I tell you to."
He sees how Harry almost nods, then remembers that that would come under the criteria of moving, and stops himself.
Lucius proceeds to undress the boy with a lack of haste that does not disguise his feelings: he has no wish to rush this, either. The shirt is undone one button at a time, and he does not remove it right away, not until he has run his fingertips down the length of the boy's chest, from the hollow of his throat all the way down to his waist. He hears Harry's breath shake as he inhales, his belly already fluttering under Lucius's fingers.
The fluttering only increases when the shirt has been removed and discarded, and Lucius, on his knees in front of Harry now, unbuckles the belt. He makes sure that the edge of it touches the boy's skin as he draws it through the loops.
He sees Harry's hands clench into fists as Lucius opens his trousers. "I told you not to move," he murmurs, and feels Harry shudder at the rebuke, all the more dangerous for its softness. "You'll be punished for that later."
The boy's lips are parted as he breathes, as if panicked.
Or as if he cannot think of any better fate.
He slides the trousers down Harry's legs, cupping each of his calves one at a time to indicate that Harry may step out of them. The boy's in stocking feet, and Lucius removes the socks with the same slow movements, deliberately ignoring the hardness of the boy's erection that juts beneath his briefs.
But only that long. When those are all that he is wearing, Lucius leans forward and lets his lips graze over the cloth-covered head of the boy's cock, rewarded by a groan this time, though Potter does all he can not to move. He appears to know the rules, that even if he likes the idea of being punished by Lucius, he'll only anger him if he deliberately tries to provoke him into it.
When his fingers hook into the waist of the briefs, though, Harry tips his head back and directs his eyes at the ceiling, keeping them fixed there as Lucius draws the briefs down, deliberately stretching the waistband out in front so that it does not catch on his erection, denying him even that little contact.
No. He'll determine when that gets to be touched.
When they're off completely, Lucius stays on his knees in front of the boy, not touching him, without any intention of touching him. All he wants is for the boy not to be able to stand the tension, to look down at him again.
He does, at last. When he does, Lucius stands and in the same motion seizes Potter's wrists and draws them up over his head, transferring his grip on them into one hand. "Do try not to move this time."
Lucius bends and does what he's wanted to do for two weeks: he pushes his lips against Potter's and sucks the boy's lower lip into his mouth, letting his tongue slide over it, then probe along the bony ridge just below the boy's teeth, until he has insinuated his own teeth around that lip, trapping it, just holding on until he gets Harry to make that noise again in his throat, and then he bites, so that the noise comes once more, louder, and bites just a little harder, until he can feel the pull in the boy's arms as he tries-- no, not tries, tests to see if he can pull his wrists free from Lucius's grip, as he otherwise does what he can to obey, even in the face of the small pain about which he has no idea if it will get worse.
Not just yet.
Lucius lets up, beginning to inflict a series of bites which are no more than little tugs of his teeth on that irresistible tender lower lip, and Harry stays very still during this, but for his breathing and the pulse that Lucius can feel under his palm as he places his hand against the boy's throat, tipping his chin up, his head back so that Lucius can feed on his mouth for long minutes without having to do more that bend his head down to Harry's. He feels the ligaments in Harry's hands shifting in his grip, becoming taut as the boy's fingers splay against the air, as if he needs something to claw.
Lucius does not ask him again to be sure. The moment for that has come and gone, and Lucius Malfoy does not give second chances in these things.
He releases the boy's mouth, though not his wrists, and watches him pant, his eyes on the boy's face, holding his gaze with his own, wanting him hypnotized. Harry blinks rapidly but doesn't look away, looking as though he is begging him with that open, panting mouth. So impatient.
Using his grip on the boy's wrists, he propels Harry back, a step at a time, until the backs of the boy's knees catch upon the edge of the bed. From there he pulls him back further, bending over him and tugging on his wrists until he has Harry completely onto the bed, closer to its center. Only then does he let go.
Harry immediately sets his palms down onto the surface of the bed, on either side of his hips, as he shifts his weight back still further, sitting half-upright, his lips still parted. His fingers seem to dig in slightly as he keeps his eyes on Lucius.
Standing there at the side of the bed, Lucius is still in no hurry. He does not throw himself on the boy, or move to undress just yet. Instead he stares at Harry's face, makes sure he still has the boy's mesmerized gaze, and only then lets his eyes drop from the boy's face and begin a slow trek down his body, lingering so deliberately over his examination of Harry's shoulders that the boy shudders under his gaze alone, moaning when Lucius begins his study of his chest and stomach, shifting on the bed as if he will turn away, actually turning his face into his shoulder when that gaze drops further, following the line of dark hairs that arrow down his belly, still without haste, as if each coarse slip of hair leads him only to the next one and no farther, again and again, so that when Harry, his face still aflame, does dare to turn back he finds that not only has Lucius not completed his scrutiny of his body, he hasn't even reached his groin yet. Again the boy moans.
The boy's cock is more crimson than his cheeks, already with a glisten of wetness at its tip, and Lucius sees him shudder as if he's not sure if he's going to lose that erection under that intense, humiliating gaze, or become harder still, which hardly seems possible. Lucius tilts his head quite deliberately, so that Harry can see him studying his cock from more than one angle. Just that, and the boy's hips jerk.
Lucius knows he could make him come this way, without once touching him.
He continues his study of the boy's body, down his thighs, which Harry seems to find even more intense than just Lucius's gaze on his cock alone, from the way a groan accompanies the next jerk of his hips, along the line of his calves all the way down to his feet. The sound of boyish distress, there's no other way to describe it, that Harry makes as he realizes he's curling his toes while Lucius watches, is utterly adorable.
Lucius isn't finished.
He begins to walk around the bed in a slow, languid semicircle, his eyes beginning to make the trip along Harry's body in reverse, so that, again, he can view the boy from every angle, and let Harry see him doing it. At the end of the bed, on that side, he takes his time setting his hand on the post, leaning against it slightly as if he has all the time in the world, scrutinizing the form in the middle of the bed in a way that says he will not be satisfied until he has all but flayed the boy with his eyes, and that the boy has felt himself bared beyond mere nakedness.
His hand shifts on the post; he transfers the grip to his other hand, stepping to the other side of it so that now he is at the end of the bed, defining the semicircle further, letting Harry feel it enclose him as surely as if it were a cage, his eyes still pinning Harry to the center of the bed like a dissecting needle. This is what he wants, to let the boy know the completely transfixing experience of waiting naked in a bed for a lover who will stalk him like this, take the time to trap him even when there is nowhere for him to go.
He knows he does this very well.
The boy is no longer squirming. He is shivering instead. His eyes follow Lucius but there is no other movement any more, as Lucius comes to the other side of the bed. There, he simply folds his arms, as if to leave Harry in a terror of suspense that he might not have found the examination to be particularly pleasing after all.
And then he lets Harry see him part his lips, and sigh.
But he takes a step backward, not forward.
His removal of his own clothing is, by contrast, efficient. As he reveals his own body, he knows that will be enough; he does not need to put on any other kind of display for the boy.
Nor was it ever his intention to make Harry remove his clothing. This sort of seduction should not ever ask for any action on the part of the one being seduced, other than the command to be still. So many who fancy themselves masterful lovers mistake domination for seduction. Control of the situation means to take charge of every single action that occurs in that room, in that bed. Not some softly snarled On your knees or Take me in your mouth as some kind of power display; hardly. The subject is so much raw clay, to be molded as one sees fit, and not a thing to be bullied.
Anyone who cannot tell the difference is no better than the ones who thought they would see the waves retreat before King Canute's royal hand. One cannot command obedience.
It can only be earned.
There is nothing that Lucius does in that room that is not calculated. Including the apparently careless way he allows his clothing to be strewn about the floor as he removes it.
Including the fact that he has been carefully guarding his own level of physical arousal so that when he removes his own trousers and underclothing his cock is only in a half-erect state.
Which he allows Harry to see. Which he makes sure Harry sees rising to full erection, while he himself is staring at Harry again. Which he makes sure Harry knows.
He approaches the bed. Puts one hand on Harry's shoulder.
Pushes him back as he slides onto the bed beside him.
The boy keeps his hands at his sides. He also keeps his eyes on Lucius's, the sound of his breathing ragged, hitching in his chest. And Lucius is barely touching him.
Now he does begin to touch the boy. Begins to learn all of his body with his fingertips in the same way he learned it with his eyes: over every angle and plane, every surface, every change in texture. Some things are always the same on every new lover and yet still a delight to find: the way the skin on the outside of the arm becomes so soft as one moves to the inside surface, the way touching the threefold juncture of jawline and throat and ear, that just accomodates one finger, always brings on a little turn of the head and usually a gasp, the way no one ever can lie still when their navel is touched. Some of Harry is unique: the rose-pale color of his nipples, the few hairs between his brows that will one day threaten to grow together, when he's older, the freckle directly on the knob of bone at his left wrist... The indentation below the head of his deltoid seems perfectly shaped to accommodate Lucius's mouth, and Lucius decides to explore this possibility.
He finds he's right.
Having made this pleasant discovery, Lucius decides that his mouth might as well enjoy a few more of Harry's unique qualities. He removes the boy's glasses and plants a kiss on the bridge of his nose; then he moves his lips to that jagged pale mark on Harry's forehead and kisses that as well. He hears Harry inhale when he does each of these things, but loudest at that last. He wonders if any have done that to him before. Not unless it was a lover, assuming he's had any; the boy's mother, dead a moment before he got that mark, couldn't have.
His impulse though, is not to heal it, but to leave another next to it, one so profound that the boy will never even think about the first.
Lucius pushes his own hair over one shoulder, where it cannot fail to fall against Harry's body as Lucius continues to brush his mouth over the boy's skin, both contacts designed to make the boy shiver. Lucius has, on occasion, used an animate spell on his hair during bedsport, using it to caress or constrict or bind his lover, depending on what he's in the mood for, but for now, he knows that just letting Harry feel that silk weight moving on his skin should be enough to make the boy aware of the infinite possibilities.
Soon, however, it is not enough to be lightly sliding his mouth and his hair over the body's flesh.
He no longer wants to be gentle.
Yet there is still a fierce sweetness in the way his hand reaches for and takes Harry's cock, wanting to ravish rather than bruise, though still nothing that could be called gentle. The boy cries out once, then as Lucius's other hand reaches under to cup the boy's scrotum, the sound he makes is almost a keening noise, and at last Harry's hands rise to clutch at Lucius's shoulders, holding on desperately, and as Lucius begins to work Harry's genitals in both of his hands, all the squirming and trembling and humiliation that the boy would not give a voice to earlier finds itself in one word: "Lucius..."
Oh, he will feast on this boy. He will make a meal of him that will only leave him hungrier and hungrier, he knows. As for the boy, he will steal all memory from him; there will be no thought left to him that could be more unpleasant than the possibility that they might part and never share this again.
A thought that suddenly seems... most loathsome to him as well.
Harry clings and Lucius exults. He caresses the boy's balls and his already-leaking cock, stroking underneath each, fingers pressing both in lines and small circular motions, not too quickly, not wanting it to be over this soon.
Not that orgasm could remotely mean over, tonight.
The cock pulses in his hand, skin like velvet over its rigid core, and he hears the boy moan again: voice breaking, almost sobbing, holding back nothing in his response. Lucius likes it that way.
His hands move to the boy's shoulders and he pulls Harry under him, pushing his mouth against the boy's throat, licking a path down that prominent neck muscle to the collarbone, lingering there and then on down to the nipple, which he bites. Now when Harry squirms Lucius can feel it against his entire body, twining his legs with the boy's, letting his own cock settle against Harry's thigh.
The boy feels that and inhales. Lucius feels the boy's hand move from his shoulder, and move to his own thigh, where he touches, at first with his fingertips only, the length of Lucius's cock. Though he knows Potter has had more experience than the boy must care to remember, with this sort of thing, Lucius also knows the events in Knockturn Alley have no such bearing on this moment for Harry. He presses his body harder against the boy's.
"Go on, " he says.
Encouragement. Not a command.
Harry's palm curves around Lucius's cock, and Lucius lets Harry hear him sigh. Again, there is that lack of guile in the boy's movements as he strokes him, pressing his face against Lucius's shoulder as if afraid he might see something on Lucius's face that would tell him he was doing something incorrectly. Lucius feels something pull at his emotions in a way that is more than lust, to make him realize how perfectly Harry seems to retain that essential innocence, no matter what has happened to him. The boy will be twice the age he is someday, assuming he manages to live that long, and Lucius feels willing to wager that that unblemished center will still be there.
Lucius shifts. Now his hips are directly over Harry's, and he presses his stiff cock into Harry's groin, so that the boy can feel that hard length against his own. He moulds his skin into Harry's, and now their cocks are trapped between them, Lucius letting his weight settle completely into his hips so that there is no possibility that Harry can dislodge him without something akin to violence. To increase the boy's sense of powerlessness he laces his fingers through Harry's and pushes the boy's hands down on either side of his head against the bed, his face just above Harry's. The boy tenses, gasps.
Makes no real move to try and free himself.
Lucius sets up a slow rhythm, rocking Harry's hips into the bed with his own, allowing one of his few smiles of the evening to cross his face, this one wicked in a way that says You are here for my use, for my pleasure only, while all the while he is being extremely mindful of the way he is contacting the boy's cock, wanting to drive him into insatiable eagerness with the leisure of the pace. Harry doesn't disappoint him, moaning, gasping, whining his name again in near-pain, trying to push back in a way that begs Lucius to increase the pace, and which Lucius does not quite ignore... rather, he acknowledges it with his smile, and rejects it.
Every muscle in Harry's hips tries to coordinate itself with the inflexibility of Lucius's rhythm, but this needy boy still does not have the patience to let himself be tamed to it. Lucius does not relent. He waits until the boy is almost sobbing in frustration, waits until he himself is satisfied with his own endurance (he meant what he said, about intending to surpass any lover Harry will ever find, and this is only the smallest beginning), waits until the boy whispers, "Lucius, please...", and even then continues to prolong it.
But finally he lets the rhythm quicken, and now the boy really is sobbing, dry-eyed but there's no mistaking that sound, and again he says, "Lucius..." as he arches his neck back, not even tensing his arms anymore, but finally given a rhythm that he can bear to match, and they grind against each other, Lucius marvelling that nothing he's done so far has seemed to be any kind of negative trigger for the boy, given all that he's been through-- granted, Lucius has been trying to take that into account; this is why he's chosen to start with this particular intimacy to initiate the boy into his bed.
The bared expanse of throat below him is too tempting to resist. He bends his head and uses lips, tongue, and teeth to play over that lovely, complex surface, feeling the way the boy moves his head in little angles with each new spot that Lucius tests. Between that and the rhythm of their hips, Harry's whimpers are increasing. Still the boy keeps his head thrown back, his jaws set together so that each sound has to force its way past that barrier, nothing articulate possible, not anymore.
Yet to Lucius, every one of them is even more delicious than the sound of his name.
Harry begs with every movement of his body, every sound from his throat, and Lucius does not plan to deny him. Each plea is making him equally greedy, and he feels the pulse in his cock throb against the one in the boy's, the contact seeming to smolder, and he makes himself wait, savoring every cry and the way the boy is starting to thrash, not breaking the rhythm but rather riding the storm, and Lucius does not miss the moment of the boy's orgasm, a dead man couldn't miss it, would be resurrected by it, as the boy cannot seem to decide whether to scream or mewl, strangling on the incongruity of the compounding sounds as he tries to go rigid beneath Lucius, but can't, as Lucius continues to drive him in that rhythm, wanting to miss none of it, not the sound nor the _expression on Harry's face nor the sudden hot pooling of wetness on his belly, and only after all three of those things are present tense leaning into past does Lucius let himself lose himself in the feel of the boy underneath him, the triad of Harry's belly and his cock and his sperm overwhelming Lucius's own cock in sheer numbers like a hydra or runespoor or hound at the gates of hell, and his own sound as he comes is that carefully-bred sigh of his that communicates to his lover's ears, You will not take control from me, not even at this moment...but, my dear, sweet-bodied creature, it is a near thing.
His own hips are not completely still for a long series of moments, still shifting minutely to collect and savor every aftershock, letting Harry feel the pleasure of this as well. At last he decides to release the boy's hands, curious as a roulette player to see where they decide to land, and after the moment or two it takes Harry to realize that they are free, the boy moves them, not to Lucius's face or shoulders or arse, the most expected places, but seeks out Lucius's just-removed hands and interlaces his fingers into them again, holding them there as if about to plead.
And plead he does. "Lucius, please... please don't stop... don't stop here," he whispers.
Lucius kisses the boy's shoulder with much amusement. "I have no intention of it."
"I..." Lucius looks at him. Watches the boy's face as he moistens his lips, tries to express what he's trying to say. "I want... I want you to be inside me, please..."
"Are you sure you're ready for that?" Lucius is surprised at himself. He had thought he was not going to ask Are you sure again.
"You said you would burn me. I want you to burn me clean. Please, please do it," the boy moans, pushing his mouth against Lucius's shoulder in turn, hiding his face, his eyelashes brushing Lucius's skin.
His lashes are wet.
Lucius turns the boy's face back to his and kisses his mouth. He will scald every layer of skin from the boy's body, force him to grow them anew.
Already Lucius is getting hard again.
He lifts himself off of Harry, turns the boy's unresisting form over, and settles back down upon him. He gathers the boy into his chest, his arms under him, about his waist.
Lucius presses his face against the space between Harry's shoulder blades, momentarily letting himself take this moment for himself because of the way the boy seems to fit so perfectly under him, even to the way Harry turns his face to the side to make an inviting hollow for Lucius to nestle his own cheek against, if he wants.
"It hurt before, didn't it?" he murmurs near the boy's ear.
Harry doesn't precisely tense, but Lucius can still sense that the boy did not want him to mention that; for all his protests that he isn't trying to forget, he still does not want the memory invoked so bluntly.
Lucius knows it hurt him. He has seen that the display of Harry's pain has been too raw and bleeding for him to be carrying any of the I-asked-for-it or I-sort-of-liked-it type of anguish.
However Lucius knows that to avoid it altogether will not help the boy to deal with his grief either. "This will not hurt. I promise. Though I will show you more than a little of how pain and pleasure can come together, in the future, I promise that this will not hurt you."
And this is really where Lucius shows Harry why he claims the skills he does as a lover. He prepares the boy with almost excruciating slowness, by degrees, to receive his cock, starting just with the attention he pays to Harry's back muscles, deeply massaging from his neck down to his thighs until the boy is boneless and moaning atop the bed, then caressing with fingertips and tongue down Harry's spine until he reaches the cleft of his arse and continues the same careful detail there, forcing gasp after gasp from the boy. He tongues the furled opening of the boy's anus until Harry's cries are a steady whimper of "Ohfuckohfuckohfuckohfuck..." as he chews on his fist, his legs spread wide, shudders racking him from head to foot.
The jar of lubricant in the bedside table drawer is magicked to never run out, to sterilize itself each time, and to stay warmed as well. Lucius palms it seamlessly, Harry never noticing when he does, and uses one well-coated finger to replace his tongue in circling and starting to open the boy's anus.
Again, his progress is so slow as to be almost an exercise in stop-motion photography. Until that finger is deep inside the boy, feeling the heat and the pulse and the tightness of that channel, it is almost impossible to believe there was any movement at all.
He does not remove that finger when he starts to slide a second one inside the boy. Again, the gradual pace and the abundance of lubricant are on his side. Harry moans, still with his fist pressed against his mouth, but never once tries to pull away, never develops that sharp edge to his moans, never says the word no-- and never begs him to go faster, either.
When he has three fingers buried inside Harry's arse, Lucius uses his other hand to turn the boy's chin towards him, and begins to kiss him again. One kiss provokes a moan, the next a gasp, and the next a sigh, and so Lucius takes him through the barest beginnings of the different kinds of sweetness that two mouths together can produce, all the while dilating him open with his fingers in place, and though by most rights that act should have an immediacy that the boy could not possibly ignore, the kissing is so carefully executed that Harry seems to consider it the more overwhelming of the two things being done to him.
Lucius continues the lesson in kissing until he has removed his fingers altogether, again so carefully that the boy almost does not notice, and then he positions himself over the boy again, pressing the length of his cock into Harry's cleft and merely resting there until Harry's buttocks clench around him with sheer impatience, and Lucius slides his hands about the boy's waist and his fingers seek his cock, sliding along it where it lies pressed between the boy's body and the surface of the bed, and Harry presses his hips forward, the boy completely at a loss as to which way to move, and so when the head of Lucius's cock probes the not-quite-so contracted pucker of the boy's anus the sound the boy makes is a perfect sigh of relief.
Slow progress, unstinting amounts of lubricant. From this point that's all Lucius needs to make good on his promise. Harry whimpers under him, needy little whimpers to have Lucius fully inside of him, to stimulate that vague something deep within, of which Lucius barely made him aware when his fingers were opening him. Lucius fills him in a way that he knows will make the boy feel as if any other shape or size cock is just wrong.
And once inside, he does not try to thrust, as much as, he admits, he very, very much wants to. Instead he waits, waits for the boy to start to move on his own, to let the boy's instinct take over that more should be happening here. Yet as soon as Harry does try to shift under him, Lucius does not allow him to move too much, aware that the inexperienced boy is likely to evoke his own pain if he lets him. That won't do.
He pulls his hips back a fraction, but pulls Harry with him as well, one hand on the boy's hip and the other still on his cock, making it feel like more of a withdrawal than it is, without hurting him. Harry exhales like he's been hit in the stomach, the moan at the end of it belying the possibility that it was really pain that provoked it.
Letting himself settle back inside to the full depth he can achieve, Lucius makes the boy's hips push his cock into the circle of his fingers, without Lucius seeming to move his hand at all. Again a ragged gasp from Harry.
The boy's hands are clutching the bedclothes, fingernails nearly tearing into them, arms spread-eagled above his shoulders in a manner that frankly makes Lucius want to tie them in that position. Later. There will be time for that. So much time.
He sets up a rhythm fisting the boy's cock that is far, far faster than the movement of his cock inside the boy, yet still manages to synchronize the two. Harry cries out into the bedclothes beneath him, his hips lifting and falling, falling into the grip of Lucius's fist around his cock, moaning Lucius's name yet again, and again. Lucius leans down to bite at Harry's shoulder, setting his teeth into the flesh there a bit hard because he can; the thick muscle there can take it without distracting the boy with pain, and Lucius feels very strongly that he needs to bite something just now.
The boy dissolves into tears and orgasm beneath him, climaxing into Lucius's hand messily as his hoarse shout echoes off of the near wall. Lucius carefully, gradually, buries himself inside the boy hilt-deep, no longer thrusting, just rocking against the boy until he achieves his own erupting climax, feeling the warm wet cloud of semen melting over his own cock inside the equally heated depths of the boy's arse, allowing his own groan to sound against the back of the boy's neck, where his mouth presses, just under the soft hair at the nape, thrumming into the spinal cord like he prefers to communicate his appreciation directly into Harry's synapses.
Even though both of them settle into stillness for what seems like a very long time, when Lucius finally does shift his weight as though to withdraw, the boy moans, hoarsely, "Don't... please..."
And Lucius, who had thought himself in control here, finds himself powerless to resist that plea.
His left arm about the boy's waist slides up to his chest, cupping against the pectoral muscle. Harry sighs as if his world is complete now.
Lucius closes his eyes.
Lucius, who still believes that he has no instinct for offering comfort or compassion, does know, to the utmost, how to nurture someone as green as Harry through the first overwhelming days of being Lucius Malfoy's lover.
He barely lets Harry leave the bed for an entire day, and that is only to get to the bathroom and no further. He doesn't let him get dressed, not even to swathe a towel around his hips after he gets out of the bath-- which he shares with Lucius, and in which Lucius doesn't even let him do his own washing.
They eat in bed, and Lucius doesn't allow Harry to pick up a single utensil, but makes him take everything he eats from Lucius's fingers, with his mouth. The boy has no appreciation for wine yet, no surprise, but seems to have no objection to having it poured directly into his mouth from Lucius's in mid-kiss. After which, having had quite a number of such exchanges, they learn that Harry has no head for wine yet, either. He proves to be, not a rowdy drunk nor a maudlin one, but a sleepy one.
Fortunately Lucius knows excellent sobering charms.
As he lavishes this attention on Harry, it has the pleasant side effect of making the boy want to reciprocate. Lucius is very careful here. It is three full days before he allows Harry to go down on him, literally making the boy beg to do it, and then, when he finally lets him, and Harry suddenly becomes almost timid, trying to get Lucius to tell him how he likes it done before he begins, he refuses to answer. He tells Harry, not unkindly, that the question is ludicrous, and to use his instincts.
As he suspected he would, he finds the sight of Harry doing that as arousing as the sensation. He caresses the boy's face, but refuses to give him any verbal cues until he at last comes, sighing as his fingers curve around the boy's skull, murmuring, "Oh, yes..." as he gives himself up to the suction of Harry's mouth, the boy groaning himself to hear that bit of completely undisguised, noncontrived reaction.
Which he got without any instruction at all. Lucius intended him to have that satisfaction.
When he takes Harry, Lucius has him face up the greater percentage of the time. He wants to watch the boy's expressions; more importantly, he wants Harry to know that he wants to watch them despite the difficulty Harry has letting him watch. It's easier, clearly, for Harry to push his face into the coverlet and whimper, than to let Lucius see every sensation that he creates in Harry laid out on his face in stark, humiliating relief.
Lucius, however, only sees that as his due. He likes to watch it. Very much.
It's very fortunate that the jar of lubricant has its own renewing spell.
He also makes good on the threat to punish Harry for not being able to keep still, that first time. Lucius has a moment of indecision about introducing this just yet, wondering what the boy's reaction will be, but the truth is, he simply cannot wait a single moment longer when he pulls Harry over his lap, arranges him arse-up and tells him he's going to be spanked for his earlier transgression. The boy comports himself very well. He does not plead no... and, understanding how Lucius wants this, neither does he plead yes. He does say ow, quite a few times before it's done, and his eyes water, and the way he rubs his reddened arsecheeks with his hand when it's over is deliciously endearing.
He also discovers that Harry has a couple of ticklish spots. Not everywhere, just his feet and his sides... but in those places, intensely so. And Harry curses him between howls, and afterward vows utter, bloody revenge... but Lucius finds he cannot possibly resist.
It's the first time he's truly heard the boy laugh.
One evening Lucius simply has the impulse to hold the boy on his lap, curled there like a cat, and stroke his hair until he falls asleep, hearing the boy breathe in slow, deep rhythm, watching all tension disappear from his face like snow in a sudden heat wave.
He cannot believe how beautiful the boy's face is like that.
The morning that he wakes up and finds that Harry has been watching him sleep, he knows for certain that he's in trouble.
Because he finds himself liking it.
The night he binds Harry spread-eagled to the bed and blindfolds him is one of their most intense so far. Harry tries so hard to get out of the restraints the entire time, whimpering at his helplessness, and Lucius decides to prolong it by leaving him in them for the duration of the night, and yet Harry's first action upon being freed in the morning is to seize Lucius's hands in his own and lavish them with kisses. They end up not getting out of bed until late in the day.
The morning after that, Lucius wakes in bed and finds he is alone.
He finds that unsettling.
He finds that intriguing.
He does not call the house-elves to find out where Harry is.
Only later does he think that that was because he had the smallest, slightest...fear... (a Malfoy feel fear? Impossible) that the boy might have run off after all.
Instead, he goes looking. And finds him in the third place he looks.
The library. (He thinks, once he's found him, that this was actually the most likely location, but he still obeyed the instinct to check Potter's suite of rooms, and the kitchen, first.)
Harry is wearing one of Lucius's robes. It's too big for him, and reminds Lucius of the first night he brought the boy here.
He is looking through a text on a table, and though he is again scanning each page rapidly, his face holds none of the despairing frustration it did the last time Lucius saw him here. Instead, he seems transfixed by what he is finding, his lips moving as he bends to look more closely here, trace a passage with his finger there, and Lucius actually thinks he sees the boy's hand tremble as he turns over a page.
This time he does not mean to make a noise announcing his presence. But either he has, or Potter has simply sensed him there, for he looks up suddenly.
He breaks into a grin. "You're up."
Lucius is startled by the huge winged thing that surges up from his stomach, towards his chest, to see the boy smile at him like that.
He folds his arms. Coolly arches an eyebrow. "Is that supposed to be a not-so-subtle dig, Potter, about my sleeping hours?"
"No." The boy closes the book, crosses the room to him. "It's supposed to be a lead-in to, 'Oh, good. Take me back to bed.'" He unabashedly slides his arms around Lucius's waist as he says it.
Lucius decides that he... rather likes Harry unabashed.
He glances back at the table. "Are you sure I'm interesting enough to tear you away from all this?"
Harry presses his chin to Lucius's sternum. "Don't be jealous. I can't get all this done in one go. Take me back to bed, please. Pretty please," he grins.
Lucius is still on the first sentence. "Jealous?!" he almost splutters.
"I like it on you. It looks good."
He's created a monster.
He does take the monster back to bed.
And spanks him again.
A routine is created, over the space of the next ten days.
Harry spends much of each day in the library, researching... something that Lucius cannot make himself ask about. As if Harry's comment about jealousy wounded his pride too badly for him to do anything now but feign disinterest.
They eat together (lunch and dinner; they never get out of bed early enough for breakfast, nor do they want to curb their carnal activities in the morning long enough to have it brought to them), and their nights together begin as soon as they leave the dining table in the evening.
Lucius almost expects this seventeen-year-old boy to betray his age and his attention span by asking something like, oh, a request to do it in every room in the manor, or on the roof, or something along those lines. But instead Harry seems perfectly contented, more than contented, to be taken back to Lucius's rooms each night, to that huge four-poster bed and the Malfoy crest on the wall and the place where he pulled on Lucius's discarded shirt one morning and said he wanted to wear it that day because it smelled like him.
Though Lucius has thought of interrupting the boy in the middle of the day for a brief, intense dalliance, he does not want to do it in the library. There is a part of him that fears that even as Harry responds, the boy's mind might be wanting to return to the texts that surround him.
And that would be too much of an insult.
Yet if the nights are even the remotest indication, he is being utterly foolish. He has the boy addicted to him as surely as if he were purest heroin, needing no embellishments to his lovemaking beyond his body, his kisses, and his words to enslave him. The embellishments are nice; certainly Harry finds them more than just nice, but Lucius knows they are unnecessary.
The boy is his.
Burned, enthralled, defenseless.
Completely, thoroughly, wholly euphoric over it.
Though it is clear that the intensity of it frightens Potter at times.
Which is to be expected, for any drug.
On the ninth day, Twizzle, walking by Lucius in the hallway, drops something. A piece of parchment. She's carrying a stack of it and doesn't notice.
Lucius picks it up. Some sort of illustration.
"Twizzle. You dropped this."
Twizzle jumps, looks at the parchment in her hands and then back toward Lucius and the single sheet of it he holds.
"Oh!" She runs back to him to take it. "Twizzle mustn't lose this! Harry Potter asked for it specifically! Oh, Twizzle is a bad house-elf!"
"Twizzle, stop trying to give yourself paper cuts with that thing. Let me see that again for a moment."
Obediently Twizzle stops trying to slash her wrist with the edge of it and hands it back to Lucius.
It looks like a drawing, but Lucius didn't think that Harry was that skilled an artist. Then he sees a few clumsier lines, and realizes it's a tracing. A figure, very like a knight or samurai, posed with a sword. Some kind of beast outlined on the uniform. Taken from one of the books, no doubt.
He's curious, but hands it back to Twizzle. "Carry on."
To his relief, Twizzle does not assume that means with the self-inflicted paper cuts, and skips off down the hallway.
Lucius goes to his study and composes a letter to his son. It mentions Harry not at all. He cannot think what to tell him about this. So many impossible things to explain. Let alone the concern that it could fall into undesired hands.
Still no word from MacNair, or Pettigrew, or Voldemort himself.
Lucius finds he doesn't even care to worry about it.
And that hits him hard. How can he not worry about it? If he doesn't worry about it he's dead. God. Is he that drunk on the boy? That he couldn't care less if he lives or dies because of this, as long as it doesn't interrupt the sex right at the moment?
He sits and thinks about that for a while.
There's a knock at the study door. He goes to it and opens it.
Harry is outside. Not sitting this time, though Lucius recalls that image and is half-hard just at that.
"Aren't you coming to dinner?"
He looks at the boy's face, wide-eyed, just a touch concerned.
Make that completely hard.
"Would you like to have dinner in the bedroom tonight?"
A smile deepens in one corner of the boy's mouth. "Great idea."
"I have a confession to make."
"I'm really starting to like caviar."
Lucius sits up in the darkness, pulls his young lover under him.
"Brat. Do you have any idea how much Imperial Osetra costs?"
Lucius tells him.
"'Oh'? Is that all you can say?"
"I could say more if you want. And then you could try to shut me up."
"Yes, I think I will," Lucius growls.
The tenth day.
Lucius again awakens alone.
This time Harry isn't in the library.
Lucius does ask a house-elf this time.
He goes to the ballroom. Potter is there. Standing before the fireplace.
Lucius stops and stares.
It's a very good likeness of the sketch. The house-elves have done a remarkable job.
The top is like a long jacket, belted at the waist. The lines of it do look vaguely Japanese, which is what made Lucius think of a samurai. The trousers are loose and tuck into boots. Harry has tied his hair off his face with a headband. It does nothing to hide the scar. The entire ensemble is black.
With the beast detailed on the jacket in gold and green.
At first glance he almost mistakes it for the Gryffindor lion, done in not-quite-right colors. But only the head is a lion. The body is that of a goat, and it ends in the tail of a snake.
Something shifts around in Lucius's head. He knows what that signifies. But he can't quite place it.
On the boy's belt is a scabbard. But no sword is in it. That seems to fit what he remembers as well.
He looks at Harry's eyes.
The boy looks... lost. For the first time in two weeks, lost.
But then he catches the subtle difference. Not lost. Just... at a loss for words.
So Lucius speaks.
"What is this?"
Harry bites his lips. "I need to take care of this."
Lucius tries to keep his voice neutral. "Take care of what."
A whisper: "Sirius."
Lucius is not surprised to feel the little raise of hackles at the back of his neck.
"What is it that you intend."
He sees Harry swallow.
"I have to help him."
Lucius suddenly understands what it means to see the colors drain out of the world.
"You can't help him."
"Yes, I can. I may be the only one who can."
"Harry." My god. He is in danger of losing control. Actually in danger of losing control. "You are the last person who can help him. Who should help him. You cannot possibly deceive yourself into thinking that."
"Lucius, please listen to me. Please, just listen and wait until I'm done."
"I will NOT. You CANNOT go to him."
"I HAVE to. PLEASE listen! I... I couldn't think of how to do it before. Of how even to start understanding what had to be done. But I do now. It's the nightmares, or something posing as nightmares, that... that drove him mad, I'M NOT EXCUSING HIM, LUCIUS!" the boy screams, seeing what is gathering on Lucius's face. "But no one can help him just by banishing those. What he did to me... if he can't be helped past that, he will never come back. That was why it kept repeating, because he knew what he'd done and he was making himself forget, each time. I have to stop him forgetting and then I have to help him on from there."
"And you intend to do this how?"
"By forgiving him."
No. He did not just... hear that.
"I can't make him forget. I couldn't make myself forget, you were right about that. But I can forgive him. And I'm the only one who can, the only one who can give him that."
No. "Harry. You cannot make these excuses. What he did was unforgivable."
"Lucius, I know you're going to call me an insufferable little Gryffindor moralizer--"
"What you are is a deluded CHILD!"
The boy doesn't rise to it, this time. "--but there is no act that is unforgivable. There are only those people who can't forgive. I'm going to banish his nightmare demons, and them I'm going to tell him that he's forgiven. And I'm going to tell him again, and again, and again, until he believes me. And that's why it can only be me."
Lucius wants to grab the boy by the arms and shake him, but there is something about his presence, more than just the clothing, that will not let him. "He needs to pay for what he's done."
"He will." It is said with a coldness that Lucius did not expect to hear, and that is what makes Lucius suddenly decide to hear the rest of what the boy has to say. "Just not in Azkaban. Azkaban made him what he is. I won't let it have whatever good's left in him, to eat that like it took all the rest of him." His jaw is set. "But he's never going to lay a hand on me again."
"Harry. How can you imagine that you can fight him, if he tries? You're the one who doesn't want to hurt HIM; HE has no such restraint. You cannot be the one to DO this." There. That is what he has been trying to say. This boy put himself back together, and Lucius was privileged to be the first to whom he gave his trust. He will not lose that, REFUSES to lose that.
Refuses to lose him.
"Let me do this, if it has to be done."
The smallest of smiles on the boy's face, without humor. "You aren't the one who needs to forgive him."
"But I can make sure he does not hurt you again." Please let me do this, he suddenly wants to beg. Let me do this for you.
"He can't. I've made sure of it."
"The same spells of protection that will let me banish the nightmare demons."
The boy sets his hand on the empty scabbard, and finally Lucius remembers.
Symbol of a Dream Warrior.
That's why the scabbard is empty. The sword only manifests in dreams.
The boy is looking at him, suddenly not larger than life in those clothes, but more like an understudy called to play a role he's not sure he remembers all that well. "You let me become this, you know. Only you."
Lucius is silent.
"I didn't know how to begin. I couldn't save Sirius, because I couldn't save myself. But you... you saved me. Not just from Knockturn Alley, not just from Wormtail and Voldemort. You saved me. I couldn't begin to try to save anyone. You had the texts in your library, but I had no idea how to put it all together. And then you gave me back to myself. You did that when you wanted me but wouldn't let yourself hurt me... and when you showed me that I wasn't just some broken thing needing pity, but someone who was strong enough to be w-worthy of you--"
His voice breaks and he bites his lip again. When he has his composure, he says, "I was starting to speak in past tense there. That scares me."
It takes Lucius a moment to understand him. "This isn't past tense."
"I'm glad." It's a whisper.
"It's not. Do you hear me?"
"Will you let me come back?"
Lucius just stares. Then: "I will drag you back. You will not be given the choice. Do you understand me, you insolent brat?"
Harry's eyes start to squint at the corners, as if he is holding back tears. Then, as if Lucius has said something very different, the boy says, "Me too."
My god. Is he... really going to let him go, go do this, by himself?
It's as if...he has to, to be sure of keeping him.
"How-- how can you be sure of your spells of protection?"
A small smile. "I'm sure."
"Perhaps you should let me test them."
The boy shakes his head. "You can't. You don't want to hurt me."
Yes. Right now... yes, he does, very badly. Wants to lock the boy in his room, keep him there, punish him for daring to have any agenda so important it doesn't involve him.
"How will I know if you're all right?"
Harry shakes his head again. "You already know that. You made me all right."
The boy takes a handful of powder from the jar on the mantelpiece.
Tosses it into the fireplace and murmurs an address.
Steps into the green rush of flame, the gold and green chimaera device on the jacket reflecting the light back at Lucius Malfoy.
And is gone.
The sense of not being alone in the house.
The feeling of being alone in the house.
Putting his wand away as he sits beside Sirius's unconscious body.
Slipping into trancestate.
Sitting in the chair near the fireplace, looking up at the portrait of himself.
His image pets the greyhound and does not look up.
He looks down at his hip.
The sword is there, in the scabbard.
In his study, looking through more documents.
"Sandleford. Do something for me."
His patronus will keep them away from him if he uses it.
He is not the one from whom he wants them to keep away.
At their center, Sirius. In chains.
The dementors regard him. As he approaches, there is something in their attitude that changes. He knows they see the chimaera symbol and know it for what it is.
It's the reason a Dream Warrior bears it.
Nobody wants to fuck with a chimaera.
He draws the sword.
"Lucius." It is a hiss.
Lucius keeps his gaze steady as he meets the red eyes in the fire. "Yes, Master."
The word doesn't disgust him. It just... falls flat, in his mouth. He hopes Voldemort doesn't notice.
"My spies tell me the boy is no longer at your manor. You cannot hide this."
Lucius smiles. "Yes, Master, that is true. It is part of a much greater plan I have for the boy. One that I think will please you."
The charm only a physical thing in dream state.
On a chain. To replace the ones taken from him.
He slips it over Sirius's head.
The canine shadow disappears from behind Sirius.
"Yessssss.... It is twisted. Vile. A fitting fate for The Boy Who Lived. You are indeed one of the most devoted of my Death Eaters, Lucius."
Lucius has to disguise mild nausea. Who writes his dialogue?
"You praise me overmuch, my lord."
"I shall expect progress reports."
"Of course, my lord."
It shouldn't be hard. He can make up nonsense like this in his sleep.
Three days of anguish. And remorse.
"None, Lucius. It should arrive by owl in a day or so. May I ask, if you don't mind, why you--"
"Of course. Terribly sorry to pry, Lucius. Not my business."
"You don't have to do this, you know. I could keep it for you... until you return."
"No. I have to."
Five days after the boy has left.
Lucius is in his study when the wards twing.
A moment or two later, a poof of smoke announces the presence of a house-elf.
"I know, Twizzle. I felt it. The ballroom, yes?"
"Yes, Master Lucius."
He pauses to gather a document from the desk, surprised at how steady his hands are. Then he apparates to the ballroom.
The boy looks as though he slept in the clothes for five days. Or rather, like he didn't sleep in the clothes for five days.
Lucius can tell from the way Harry carries himself that it's over.
Which means he didn't bother to clean himself up after.
Didn't want to wait to clean himself up after.
Just wanted to get back here.
Lucius lets out the breath he has been holding. "Was it worth it?"
The boy looks at the floor. Nods.
"Sirius is...going away. He's leaving the U.K." Harry looks back up. "For ten years."
Lucius waits. Gives him the chance to say it all.
"He's going to live among muggles. Without magic. Without his animagus form. And... he broke his wand."
Lucius knows that for a fully trained wizard to do that, he will usually have to relearn most of what he knows from the beginning, when he selects a new wand. If Sirius Black is really going to live without magic for ten years, he will definitely have to relearn it all.
It still isn't enough.
"He's going to do missionary work in Africa. War victims. Incurable diseases. Hungry children. That sort of thing."
Lucius lifts his eyebrows. "Children?"
The boy nods.
"That... was the hardest thing. There's a curse on him. I put it there. If he ever... tries to harm a child, harm anyone, in the way he hurt me... if he even tries to hurt them in a different way by way of trying to get around that... then... he dies. Just-- dies."
Lucius thinks about that.
Perhaps... perhaps that is enough.
And Harry did it to him. Chose to do it to him.
"Don't." It's almost a hiss, the boy turning away.
"No." Lucius takes a step towards him. "I'm not being sarcastic." Unfortunately, sarcastic is all he knows how to be, sometimes. How should the boy know?
"I am honestly impressed, Harry. I would not have thought you could give him justice. Forgiveness, yes. Not justice. Not as close as you are."
Lucius can hear the tears starting to clog the boy's throat as he says, "What... what if I did it wrong? Lucius, what if I didn't really dispel them? What if they come back? I could have killed him because I didn't do it right."
Lucius Malfoy doesn't give comfort. He doesn't give compassion.
And yet he finds himself saying, "You won't have killed him. You cannot take his actions and make them your fault. And if you let him go, to harm even one other, then you would be guilty. What you did was right."
"Was it?" the boy whispers.
Lucius shrugs. "I would suspect Sirius Black thinks so. Do you think he wants to live with the risk that he might harm another child as he harmed you?"
His eyes on the fire, Harry shakes his head no.
Stop talking about Sirius, Lucius wants to say. He knows that is not fair.
He doesn't care.
"I'm glad you're alright," he cannot stop himself from saying. He says it in lieu of saying the more soul-baring I'm glad you're back.
"You were with me, you know. I saw you, in the dream state. I put you there."
"Really." There seems to be nothing else to say to that.
"You meant more to me than the sword."
When did this child learn to be so profound, even with such plain words?
Or is it something else? Not that they are profound... but that the words come from him.
Or because... he is the one hearing them.
Lucius thinks about the image of himself, strengthening Harry in the dream state. He is glad of it... and yet it also disturbs him.
"There's a part of me that objects to being used that way, you know. Letting you go into danger. Nothing's worth that. Not Black. Not anyone."
Harry shakes his head. "Don't hate him."
Lucius shakes his in return. "How can I do otherwise?"
"If it hadn't've been for him, there would have been no us."
Lucius's eyes flare. "Do you have any idea how completely fucked that sort of logic is?"
"What are you angry at?" The boy's voice is soft. "At the idea of us?"
"No." The word is out before he can stop himself.
Lucius looks at the boy, soiled black clothing and all. He finds himself contemplating the chimaera device.
It fits. Fits all this.
Lion and snake. But not merely combined. Combined, and with something additional.
It is appropriate, given how stubborn they both are.
...No, wait. That isn't goats, that's mules. What the hell is goats again?
...Randy. Oh, my god. He chokes.
"What?" says the boy, seeing his face.
"...Later. Oh, I should tell you, Voldemort thinks my diabolical plans for you are long-term. He likes the gist. So I believe I can keep him strung along for some time."
"Oh. That's... good."
"Unless you would like to become a Death Eater after all. I trust you'll let me know if you ever change your mind about that."
"Um... yeah. I'll... bring it up if I do."
"So... these long-term plans. Do they involve me... staying around?"
Lucius looks at him. He wants to say, Do you have anywhere else to go, or One of the house-elves is quitting, do you want the job, or Well, your school is back in session soon, or any one of a hundred non-committal statements, humorous or matter-of-fact or anything but telling the boy how he really feels.
The document in his pocket is all but burning him.
Harry found the courage to address the question, address him, directly.
And a Malfoy does not feel fear, does he?
(No, but a Slytherin never answers anything directly.)
Oh, for fuck's sake.
He cannot let the boy go. He took every bit of life that was in Lucius, the last time he walked into that fire.
Well, of course he did. Didn't the boy say Lucius had been alongside him, in the dream state?
All the more reason to know that this is what he wants.
He takes out the parchment. Steps toward the fireplace and sets it upon the mantelpiece.
"I asked my ministry representative to take care of this while you were away. He's-- very fast. I'd like you to... look at it." And suddenly all boldness leaves him, as though this boy's gaze has made Lucius revert so that he is only a boy of seventeen himself. "I'll...just step outside, take a walk in the garden while you do, shall I?"
He crosses the ballroom to the French doors that open onto the gardens.
And goes out through them.
Wondering, as they close behind him, if he will hear them open again, and how soon.
Harry watches Lucius exit. Watches his retreating back in a sudden rising panic.
Calm down. Calm.
He takes the parchment off of the mantelpiece.
Of course it's a legal document, Lucius told him so, but it's also full of legalese like multiple repetitions of whereas the party and wherein the undersigned and thereof and heretofore.
But he sees the key words.
Words like Plaintiff Lucius Etienne Malfoy and breakdown of the marriage relationship and qualifying duration of legal separation and uncontested and Judgment of Divorce.
For an eternal moment Harry tells himself he can't jump to conclusions.
And then thinks, What am I saying?
Now he wishes he had taken the time to wash up and change clothes. Because the fastidious Lucius Malfoy (single Lucius Malfoy, he amends) is about to get kissed, and kissed hard, by a kid in a grubby black Dream Warrior uniform.
He all but runs for the French doors.
Jeanne-Maire Malfoy has grown contented with the position of her portrait. Though she had requested to be on a bedroom wall, preferably one belonging to a good-looking jeune homme, it did not surprise her that her request was rejected. But the ballroom has proved a reasonable compromise. From her place on the wall, she can see not only most of the ballroom but has a nice view of the entrance to the gardens as well.
She watches as the tres beau petit monsieur with the deliciously ingenuous green eyes pushes open the French doors and catches up to her handsome if pigheaded grandnephew just in front of the star jasmine. The embrace is so deep she can only tell where one ends and the other begins by the contrasting colors of their hair.
Dark and light pressed against each other like stars in different spectra.
Jeanne-Maire sighs, smiles, and begins making balloon doves. Weddings are her favorite events in the ballroom.
Additional Author's Notes:
The 'Beloved Enemies' Harry/Lucius Fuh-Q-Fest required that 3 plot challenges be selected and woven into one story if you wanted to pick your own. I selected these:
120. Harry is abused by his mentally unstable godfather. Lucius is the one that saves him. (N. Petrenko)
124. Harry gets in trouble in Knockturn alley and Lucius is the one that helps him out. (N. Petrenko)
131. Lucius finds out that Harry is his distant relative and gets custody of him. (N. Petrenko)
To date, I hadn't read any HP fanfic that cast Sirius in anything
a sympathetic light, and could not get number 120 out of my head. The
other two seemed to fit in with the whole idea that was starting to
brew. Many, many thanks to N. Petrenko for the inspiration!
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