When Lucius Malfoy brooded, the whole of Malfoy Manor seemed to brood with him. And Lucius was brooding now. Sunk deep into a black leather armchair in his study, he stared darkly into the fireplace, where a venomous green fire crackled and hissed fitfully, appearing almost as angry as Lucius himself.
He had reason to be angry. A party of Aurors had arrived at the manor with a warrant that morning and had spent the better part of the day carefully combing it for illegal dark objects. Several of Lucius's favorite possessions had been confiscated, and he was sure to face a heavy fine. At least they had found nothing serious enough to be grounds for arrest- and he could plainly see that they had been itching to arrest him. At least they hadn't found his potions lab. Thank the Dark Lord for small favors, anyway. Oh wait, that's right, the Dark Lord's DEAD. He could do Lucius no more favors of any kind. Well then FUCK HIM. His face suddenly contorting with rage, he hurled the empty brandy glass he had been holding into the fireplace, where it exploded in a shower of bright, poison-green sparks.
He then turned his attention to the object clenched in his other hand; a crumpled copy of the evening edition of the Daily Prophet. Yes. No sooner had the Aurors left, than this had been delivered, to add insult to injury. He glanced to his left, where a crumpled little heap of brown feathers lay just inside the open study window. Stupid bird had actually had the gall to wait around after making its delivery, clicking its beak at him and expecting payment for bringing him this- this- atrocity. Now, on top of everything, he would owe the newspaper for a new post owl.
Returning his attention to the paper in his hand, he smoothed it out and read it over yet again, jaw tightly clenched, face pallid, two bright fever spots blazing furiously, high on his cheeks. Having re-read the article for the umpteenth time, he flipped the paper over and stared once again at the full-page photo that graced the back. It showed Draco, his son, his fucking ingrate SON, standing on a dais in the Great Hall of Hogwarts, flanked by Potter and the youngest Weasley boy on one side, and that mudblood bitch Granger on the other. All four were wearing the same ridiculous pajamas he had seen on them in the hospital room, and had huge medals hanging around their necks- he recognized the Order of Merlin, First Class, of course- and were grinning ear-to-ear. And- this was the final kicker- this was what caused a red mist to descend over his vision every time he looked closely at the photo- his…son (he could hardly even think the word without choking on it) was HOLDING THE MUDBLOOD'S HAND.
Then there was the caption beneath the photo- "Gryffindor Four" it read.
Without being consciously aware of it, he had actually bared his teeth while staring at the picture, his lip curling back into a snarl of unadulterated wrath and hatred. Now, with a sudden, furious roar, he crumpled the paper a final time and threw it into the fireplace as well, where it curled, blackened, and was gone.
He sat for a long moment at the edge of his seat, breathing hard, hands clenching and unclenching spasmodically, looking as though he was about to lunge forward and throw himself into the fire as well- and truthfully, the idea was not without its appeal.
Then he sank back into the chair once more and bellowed, "NARCISSA!"
A moment later his wife swept regally into the room, a pale beauty resplendent in long black robes of the finest silk, which trailed behind her on the highly-polished floor. Giving the dead owl near the window a wide berth, she settled herself serenely in the chair opposite him and regarded him with one raised eyebrow. The many house-elves that inhabited the manor may have been cowering in the pantry at that moment, in mortal terror of Lucius's temper, but Narcissa was not the least bit intimidated. She was her husband's match in every regard.
"You called, my love?" she asked softly, completely unruffled.
"Yes," Lucius ground out from between clenched teeth, "indeed I did. Were you aware, Narcissa dear, that we now have a- a- Gryffindor-" he spat the word as a muscle in his cheek twitched- "for a son?"
"Why, no, darling," she replied calmly; "in fact, I was not aware that we had a son at all."
"Ah," Lucius said, a faint smile twisting his lips; she was a piece of work, his wife, he thought- "touché." And he closed his eyes, bringing up one hand to massage his temple with his fingertips, a gesture Draco had picked up from him.
After a moment's silence, the rustle of silks told him that Narcissa was on the move again, and in the next instant she had settled herself on top of him, straddling him easily in the oversized chair. Leaning down so close that their noses almost touched, enveloping him in a shimmering curtain of platinum hair, she murmured, "I think it's time we got to work on a new heir, don't you?"
Again Lucius smiled, and allowed her to begin kissing him deeply. But a moment later he broke the kiss and pushed her away. "In case you've forgotten, Narcissa," he spat out, "we no longer have anything to offer an heir. We were prepared to give Draco the world on a silver platter, and in return, he destroyed us. We have nothing of import left to pass on, because wealth-" with one hand he made a dismissive gesture that encompassed the richly appointed study- "is useless unless accompanied by power. And without the Dark Lord, we have no power, as our little visit by the Ministry today should have amply demonstrated to you."
"Lucius, Lucius," Narcissa purred, "silly man. You still haven't realized. Don't you wonder why the Ministry is so desperately eager to arrest you right now? It's because they are afraid, and they should be. A position has very recently come open that I think you are just the man to fill. The Ministry sees it as well, though they fail to share my enthusiasm for the idea. No, they are frantic to lock you away before you have a chance to step into this vacant position, which, to my mind, will suit you to a tee."
"Oh?" Lucius asked with a raised eyebrow. "And what position is that?" He was beginning to understand what she was driving at, but wanted to hear her say it just the same. Once he heard the words actually leave her mouth, spoken in that low, sensuous drawl of hers, the concept would begin to seem real to him; something that he could then start working and striving toward immediately.
"Why, the position of Dark Lord, of course," she said, smiling. "Think, darling- Draco would have been the son of the Dark Lord's second-in-command…but our new heir will be the son of the Dark Lord himself. If that's not power-" she leaned down and whispered seductively into his ear, "what is?"
A slow smile spread over Lucius's face; a bone-chilling smile that would have terrified his hapless house-elves far more than his earlier ranting and raving.
"Well, Narcissa," he drawled out, "this IS an intriguing proposition."
"Our Lord's followers are in a state of complete disarray," she said, sounding suddenly breathless with excitement. "They need someone to step forward and take the reins, and naturally they will look to you, since you were second-in-command. The only possible obstacle to your rise in power, as far as I can see, is that some of them may think to question your authority in light of the disgraceful actions of our erstwhile son. We will simply have to make it known throughout our circles that we do not tolerate Draco's defection; we will have to bring him home somehow…and make an example out of him."
Lucius's smile widened further, and a manic gleam came into his eyes. "I like the way you think, darling," he said, "but that will prove easier said than done. I received an owl last night from Dumbledore, damn him, informing me that he will henceforth be alerted the moment I set foot on Hogwarts grounds. Apparently he guessed the true purpose of my visit yesterday."
"We can work around that, my love, if you were to portkey in to a strategic location within the castle- Draco's dorm, shall we say- and then back out again in under a minute. Even if the old fool WERE immediately alerted to your presence, there is little he could do in a minute's time."
But Lucius was shaking his head. "There's more," he snarled. "He's placed a charm on Draco that the boy is not even aware he is carrying. If I set foot in the same room as him, anywhere in Hogwarts or even Hogsmeade, I will instantly be rendered Stupified."
"I see…" Narcissa fell silent for a long moment, pondering. Lucius let her think. She was brilliant, his wife. Surely she would come up with something…
Finally, just as he was getting ready to shove her off his lap in order to begin pacing the room, a triumphant gleam lit her eyes and she exclaimed, "Aha!"
"Well, love?" Lucius prompted.
"None of Dumbledore's spells can prevent Draco from coming home voluntarily," she said simply.
"And he would do that why, exactly?" Lucius asked skeptically.
"Because, my darling, we will have something he wants!"
"And that is?"
"Come now, Lucius, THINK! Draco may be well protected from you, but there are no such protective spells on-"
"The mudblood!" Lucius cried. And now the expression on his face was downright diabolical. "Darling, its genius! We'll make them both pay; Draco for betraying us, and the mudblood for corrupting our only child. Oh yes…how they both will PAY…"
TO BE CONTINUED…
(OK so there you have it…look for my sequel which I believe I will call "Sometimes When We Touch", in probably about a month or so. It will continue the story as the "Gryffindor Four" face a new threat, (yeah, um, see above…) and will also address the issues left unresolved at the end of this fic; and I do absolutely acknowledge that there are loose ends, loads of them, not least of which are Hermione's ongoing trauma stemming from the rape (she never really had time to think about it in You Gotta Breathe- what with everyone being in mortal peril pretty much the whole time- but what will happen when the routine returns to normal, for a while, anyway, and she has a chance to dwell on it? Hmm…) and the fact that Ron is still desperately in love with her, though he tries to hide it by putting on a brave face. I knew these loose ends existed when I wrote the last chapter, but hey, that's what a sequel's for!)