It was early the next morning when Narcissa Malfoy strolled out into her gardens to water her flowers. While she could have ordered one of the house elves to do it, but this was something that she liked to do herself every morning. When she was a child, watering the flowers was something that she had always done with her older sister Andromeda, and after Andromeda left, it was a tradition that she had continued.
One that, unfortunately, Draco refused to participate in.
This morning, Narcissa was carefully watering her irises when she saw the peacocks crowding around something on the ground, attacking whatever it was viciously.
She sent an empty bolt of light at them, scattering the birds. It was probably some poor rabbit or gnome that the birds had killed. They could be so violent sometimes. Lucius kept insisting that they were an important sign of wealth and nobility, but Narcissa thought that they were more trouble than they were worth.
"You poor dear," she crooned as she carefully and smoothly walked over to whatever it was, trying not to startle it. "Did those mean old birds hurt y-" she broke off with a scream as she saw what it was.
A dead body lay on her perfect, pristine lawn, covered in peck marks from the peacocks and the tiny bite marks left by gnomes. It was wearing robes, so at least it wasn't one of those filthy muggles polluting her lawn. The body was turned away from her so she couldn't identify it.
She drew back, pulling her wand out from behind her ear and holding it out. "Homenum revelio."
There was nothing. Whoever it was was dead, and had been for a few hours at least.
Narcissa gave a disgruntled sigh. Now the DMLE would be all over them. A dead body being found on the front lawn of Lucius Malfoy would be like Christmas to Amelia Bones and the media.
She gave the body a nudge to roll it over so she could see who the pathetic plebeian was who was going to deface the honour of the Malfoy family.
She let out another scream.
It was the Dark Lord.
She eyed the carcass carefully. A quick spell revealed the cause of death to be asphyxiation, the source of which seemed to be a peacock feather that had been inhaled and then trapped in the gullet.
Narcissa allowed herself to indulge in a quick smirk.
The Dark Lord Voldemort, brought about by a simple peacock feather. It seemed fitting that one who had considered himself above everyone else was brought down in such a simple way, leaving the ones who actually were better than everyone else to solve the problems he had left behind.
Narcissa carefully stowed her wand back behind her ear and walked back to her flowers. There was no rush. She had time to finish watering her flowers before fetching the aurors to clean up.
. . . . .
"Well, Amelia," Alastor Moody said to his boss, "I guess this is the end." They were standing beside each other, watching as the unspeakables swarmed over the carcass of the wizard formerly known as Lord Voldemort.
"It's never the end," Amelia said darkly. "Just wait, there'll be some big disaster in a week or two. Peace never lasts."
Moody nodded grudgingly. "I was trying to be optimistic, but. . ."
"Really? You, being optimistic?" Amelia stared at him in shock. "Are you sure you're not a polyjuiced imposter again?"
He glared at her with his real eye while the fake one continued to observe the unspeakables.
Amelia glanced over to where Lucius and Narcissa Malfoy stood at the edge of the zone the unspeakables had roped off, speaking obsequiously with Minister Fudge.
"What do you think about them?" she asked Moody, nodding over at the aristocratic couple. "Are they as innocent here as they claim to be?"
"I don't believe a word that comes out of Lucius Malfoy's mouth as a matter of course," Moody said grimly, his magical eye whirring around to glare at the two. "But, in the matter of Voldemort's death, I think that they truly know nothing. They're hiding something else, something big, I know that much," he stamped his staff on the ground emphatically, barely managing to miss Amelia's foot, "But his death certainly seems to have been an accident."
Amelia nodded in acknowledgement and agreement.
. . . . .
The next day, Sirius Black sat down at his table, placing his breakfast down. He unfolded his copy of The Daily Prophet on the table in front of him and swore darkly. There, on the front page, was the headline "You-Know-Who Discovered Dead! Malfoy a Hero!"
He crumbled up the paper and threw it on the floor in disgust. After fuming for a few minutes, he relented and picked it up again, this time reading the entire article.
They had acted without him! All that planning that he had endured with Snape and Malfoy, and they went and killed Voldemort without him!
There was a clatter at the fireplace, and then Harry broke into the room with a yell.
"Sirius! Did you see the paper?"
Sirius quickly wiped away his frown. "I did, Harry."
"He's dead and gone!" Harry collapsed onto a chair dramatically. "I am finally free!"
Sirius chuckled. "So what are you going to do with your newfound freedom?"
"Talk Jean into letting me go to that quidditch camp in France next year, probably."
"Didn't she say it was too dangerous with Voldemort still on the loose?"
Harry nodded glumly. "And Hermione wasn't any help at all," he grumbled. "She kept talking about how quidditch is a waste of time and I should spend more time studying, and-"
"Well, studying is important," Sirius interjected.
"More important than quidditch?" Harry asked, the smirk on his face saying he knew what Sirius would say.
"Well. . ."
"Exactly. But anyway, now that Voldemort's gone, maybe I can talk them into it."
Sirius chuckled. "Well, good luck."
He watched Harry leave. It was astounding how much he had changed in the years since they had first met. The shy, broken boy who had been terrified of anything new had grown into a confident, outspoken teenager, yet he still had a sense of innocence that would likely not be there had Harry been forced to stay with the Dursleys. The effect that Jean, Daniel, and even Snape had had on Harry was evident. Sirius had to admit that Harry would be a better man than James had ever been.
Sirius gazed fondly at where Harry had stood for a few more moments before his eyes drifted back to the forgotten newspaper and grew grim again. He stood abruptly. He need to talk to Snape.
. . . . .
That morning, Severus Snape also sat at his table with his breakfast in front of him. He picked up his copy of The Daily Prophet from where it lay in front of him and swore even darker than Sirius had.
He crumbled up the paper and threw it on the floor in disgust. After fuming for a few minutes, he relented and picked it up again, this time reading the entire article. They had acted without him! All that planning that he had been forced to endure with Black and Malfoy, and they had killed Voldemort without him!
He stood abruptly, the newspaper gripped tightly in his pale fist. He needed to talk to Black.
. . . . .
The two irate wizards ran into each other on the street in front of Number 12 Grimmauld Place. After a quick and heated discussion, they came to the realization that neither one of them knew anything about the deadly downfall of the Dark Lord. A few short minutes later they had apparated to Malfoy Manor to confront Lucius Malfoy.
"Lucius!" Severus cried out as he burst through the sitting room door. At the desk below the window, Draco and Ron looked up from their chess game.
"He's in his study," Draco informed them. Severus stormed out of the room without a further word to either of the boys. Sirius followed.
"Lucius!" Severus bellowed again. Lucius Malfoy looked up calmly from his book. "Severus, what a surprise! What brings you here?" he asked, ignoring the presence of Sirius behind Severus.
Severus strode across the room in three quick strides, slamming the Daily Prophet down right on top of Lucius' book. Sirius trailed behind him like a dutiful puppy. Lucius glanced down at the paper, his eyebrow arched inquisitively.
"Ah. Are you referring, perhaps, to the article concerning the Dark Lord?"
"Yes," Severus growled. "The one that mentions his death. At your hands. We agreed on a plan. Why did you act outside of it?"
"I had an opportunity, and so I took it." Lucius was exceptionally calm in the face of Severus' anger.
Severus glared at him in exasperation.
"Lucius didn't kill the Dark Lord," someone interrupted the two Slytherins' impasse. They looked up to see Narcissa come into the room.
"I was watering the flowers early yesterday morning and I found his body. Lucius had nothing to do with it."
"But," Sirius protested, "the paper said-"
"It was Skeeter," Lucius intervened. "You know I have her in my pocket. She'll say whatever I want her to."
Severus seemed to deflate as he considered what the two Malfoys had said. "So you didn't act without us? It was just a coincidence that the Dark Lord happened to choke on a peacock feather on your front lawn?"
"It wasn't the front lawn, it was the flower gardens on the east side."
Severus rolled his eyes. "Whatever. Do you have any idea what he was doing there?"
"Well, the aurors theorised-"
"I don't care what the aurors think; they don't know everything. Do you think he figured out that we knew about his horcruxes?"
Lucius shrugged. "It's impossible to know at this point. But I know of no other reason for him to try and attack the Manor."
"That's what I think as well," Severus said, "But you still should have contacted me as soon as you found the body."
"Us," Sirius interjected. "You should have contacted us."
"I apologize for any inconvenience this little misunderstanding may have caused you," Lucius stated. "It was not my intent to worry you; it just didn't occur to me to inform you." He reached into the open desk drawer and pulled out a bottle. "I thought that perhaps we could celebrate the downfall of our former lord together."
Sirius brightened up considerably. "Oh, well, that's all right then."
Lucius poured out glasses for the other two wizards.
"Narcissa?" he asked his wife, his hand resting on the top of the fourth glass.
She shook her head. "I have better things to do than sit around drinking all day." She left the room with a flare of her robes.
"In other good news, it seems that our formerly esteemed headmaster has disappeared." Lucius raised his glass in salute.
"Interesting," Severus commented sedately.
"Yeah, it is," said Sirius. "D'you think something happened to him?"
"Perhaps," Lucius said slowly, eyeing Severus' calm countenance. "Perhaps someone decided that they had had enough of his machinations."
Severus shook his head slightly at him. "Or perhaps he had too much confidence in his own skills and knowledge and thus acted rashly."
Lucius tipped his head to his friends. "Perhaps."
Sirius remained oblivious, as always.
A year later, Lucius Malfoy stood on the edges of Diagon Alley, watching the shoppers scurry around.
The defeat of the Dark Lord and the disappearance of Albus Dumbledore had left even more opportunities for Lucius to slip into more powerful influences and positions.
It was still demeaning for him to lower himself to associate with mudbloods and blood traitors, but his reputation was the best it had ever been.
The few remaining who were loyal to the Dark Lord were either inconsequential or incapacitated.
He glanced down at his robe-covered forearm. His Mark had not pained him at all the entire year. All was well.