From where she sat at the abandoned dinner table Narcissa could hear her son's bellows. The words weren't clear, no, but the agony behind them had been. Some moments later she heard footsteps. Draco passed her and the table, paused for a moment and muttered, "Sorry, Mother." After that he left. Narcissa sat for just a moment longer before having two house elves attend to her needs. She finally moved after that and went in search of her husband. When she found him he was uncharacteristically slumped on a chair in the lounge. She also noticed a half empty bottle of liquor next to him on the floor.
Narcissa cleared her throat.
Lucius looked up at her and immediately felt guilty. His dear wife had put so much work and thought into this evening and it had been completely shattered. He sighed and urged her with a tilt of his head.
"Are you going to yell at me as well?"
"Oh, Lucius," Narcissa tutted. "A lady never yells. Something of which I must point out Hermione exhibited very well tonight."
Lucius held in his snort. Much like the etiquette regarding women and yelling, the same held true for snorting of any kind. It was utterly classless.
A sudden pop! assaulted the air and a house elf appeared at Narcissa's side with a small trunk.
"Nutley has prepared your trunk as you asked Mistress Malfoy."
"Very good, Nutley," Narcissa smiled. "Have my room ready and leave my trunk there."
"Yes, Mistress Malfoy!"
Lucius had grown wide-eyed at the exchange and sat erect once the house elf was gone. "Room? Where are you going, Narcissa?"
Narcissa let her gaze roam her husband's face. It was interesting. He displayed the same expression of loss and regret the day he had been sentenced. Yes, she was furious with him, but a soft calm settled in her heart knowing how empty he was without her. A well-deserved punishment.
"Our son is distressed," Narcissa said simply. "His wife, also upset, is most likely consoling him. That leaves three children unattended while their parents are slaves to their uncontrolled emotions. They are in need of their grandmother, and I will oblige."
Lucius swallowed, having no choice but to nod to his wife's actions. He would be signing his death warrant otherwise. "For how long?"
"However long it takes."
Narcissa walked over to her husband, gave him a chaste kiss on the forehead, and then turned on her heel to leave. As Lucius sat in the room alone, realizing that he was now in this house alone, he determined that his son was right. It may have been better to still be in Azkaban.
August 26th, 2018
Both Draco and Hermione knew how much Narcissa loved her husband, and so it had been quite the surprise when she had moved herself into their house without so much as a warning. What was even more surprising was for how long she stayed. It was going the second week now which solidified thoughts on Narcissa's character that were already known: Never upset the Malfoy Matriarch.
That wasn't to say that Narcissa didn't speak to Lucius. She Floo Called him every morning, afternoon, and evening. And despite his best abilities to whisper, her husband could be heard, quite plainly, asking her if she was finally coming back home. Hermione believed, wholeheartedly, that her mother-in-law chose to amplify his voice to broadcast his shame and begging.
Draco certainly got a kick out of it. However, it wasn't enough to reverse his decision: his father was to never step a toe into his house. He had even banned Aiden, Caelum, and Nysa from going to his mother's home if Lucius was there. Despite not being pro-Lucius, Hermione thought his approach to be excessive. However, she knew when to argue and when Draco's mind could be swayed. Now was not the time. She only wished that their children didn't have to be caught up in this mess.
"You guys looking forward to boarding the train?" Victoire asked. She was back at the house again performing babysitting duties while her Uncle Draco and Aunt Hermione were at a benefit fundraiser. Aiden and Caelum (with a bit of arm-twisting) were helping her get dinner ready.
"More than you know," Caelum answered her. "The tension in this house has been brutal."
"Oh, yeah," Victoire frowned. "Your mum told me that it hasn't been easy with Lucius back."
"Not to mention having our grandmother here, period," Aiden piled on. "Don't get me wrong. I love her to pieces, but do you know what it's like living with a high society pureblood woman? If she tells me to straighten my back any more I won't be able to bend it!"
"And she's been giving us more lessons since she's here," Caelum added which prompted a puzzled expression from Victoire.
"Lessons? What is she teaching you?"
Curses to cast on families that last through generations this week…
"Etiquette," Aiden swooped in with the save. "Posture stuff, tableware, you know…"
Victoire eyed them both before chuckling to herself and using her wand to gather dishes from the kitchen to set the table.
"Right," she smiled knowingly. "Why don't you two grab Nysa for dinner? I can finish up here."
The boys nodded and went upstairs to their sister's room. Nysa had been playing, but that hadn't lasted too long. Toys were only fun to play with when you had someone to play with you.
"Hey, Nysa, dinner is ready," Aiden said once he and his brother reached her room. Nysa sighed.
"I want to play with Grandma Cissa."
"You can't," Aiden said. "She's in France with friends, remember?"
"Oh," Nysa replied with a frown. She stared out the window from where she could see her grandmother's house. Although she wasn't home, she could still see some sort of glow in one of the upper windows. "What about Grandpa Lu… Lu…" She sighed. "Grandpa Lushits. Did he go with her?"
Caelum laughed. Despite being able to speak well most of the time, there was something about the elder Malfoy's name that his little sister just couldn't get.
"It's Lu-shus. And no, she left without him."
"Rightly so," Aiden added as an afterthought.
Nysa frowned even further and continued to stare out of the window. "Do you think grandpa's lonely by himself?"
Aiden snorted. "Cold-hearted people don't get lonely, Nysa. And stop calling him 'grandpa.' He's not our grandfather."
Nysa finally turned herself away from the window and tilted her head towards her older brother. "What do you mean? He's daddy's daddy, isn't he?"
"Technically, yes. But just because that's true it doesn't make Lucius family. He hates us. Mum too. Remember that."
"Aiden's right," Caelum told her with a shrug. "Even dad doesn't want to be around him, and that should tell you something. Now, come on," he smiled as he put a hand on her shoulder. "Dinner is waiting for us. And when we're done we'll ask Victoire if we can Floo Call grandma for you. You can't play with her, but you can at least talk to her."
Nysa's brothers left her room first and she followed after them. When they reached the bottom of the stairs they headed towards the kitchen where dinner was, but she stalled. She looked towards the back door where she could she her grandmother's house even clearer. With one look back at the moving heads of her brothers and cousin, Nysa quietly slipped out of the house through the back door and made her way along the path to the house on the opposite end of their massive yard. She wasn't supposed to walk this path alone. Especially not at night. But she thought it would make it better if she ran the way and soon she was safely at her second favorite house.
Nysa didn't need a key to get in. Her grandma did some kind of spell to make it so that she and her brothers could come in whenever they wanted. She walked in and found the house bathed in darkness. No matter though. She knew this house just like her own and didn't need lights. She headed straight for the stairs and bent over as she walked to find the room with light under the door. When she found it she turned the doorknob and entered without knocking.
"Do you want to play with me?"
Lucius had been in the study peacefully reading. He had been enjoying the quiet. Well, sentenced to it was more like it. With his wife holding a grudge and his son beyond angered with him, he had no choice but to make the quiet his friend. And so, the sweet, yet high-pitched voice that had assaulted his ears had startled him enough to drop his book. Nysa ran over quickly and picked up the book.
"Do you want to play with me?" She asked again.
Lucius might as well had been petrified. He had seen this girl once since being released and he had only shaken her hand. And here she was looking for a playmate?
His eyes gravitated to a window to his right. It was pitch dark outside, the lights illuminating the pathway from the girl's home to his own barely making an impression. He looked back at her and his face set up in a frown.
"Did you walk all the way here by yourself?"
Nysa nodded. "Uh-huh,"
"Don't do that again," Lucius said sternly. "We are surrounded by the woods and who knows what dangerous creatures may be lurking in there. Understood?"
"Okay," she replied innocently. She stuffed her grandfather's book into his hands and asked, "Are you going to play with me or not?"
Lucius was floored. "I…" He cleared his throat and motioned to the book in his hand. "I was reading."
"Oh. Can I watch you read then?"
An absurd request, but if it would stop the awkward then he would give in. "Fine."
Nysa grinned happily and sat down at his feet. Lucius had to fight to keep his confusion at bay. Instead, he swallowed and found the page he had been on. Reading, however, was proving to be difficult while being watched by a little girl.
"Can I ask you a question?"
Lucius flicked his eyes over his book briefly before restoring them to their original position. "If you insist."
"Are you lonely here without Grandma Cissa?"
Lucius glanced at her again. It was unexpected, her question, much like her previous one, and very inquisitive to say the least. "I have spoken to her several times today," he said before turning to his book again. "So no, I don't miss her. Not really."
"That's good. Can I ask you another question?"
Lucius sighed. "Go on."
"Why do you hate my brothers and me?"
This time Lucius had to do more than peer at her over his book. Instead he lifted his head in pure surprise at how such a harsh question had come from such an innocent girl.
"Who told you that?"
"My brothers did," Nysa answered honestly. "And that I shouldn't call you 'grandpa' because you hate us and that doesn't make us family."
Lucius swallowed deeply. He hesitantly closed his book and set it on his lap so he could properly look at this child who was, undoubtedly, his granddaugher. Despite having some resemblance to her mudblood mother, that resemblance began and stopped at the young girl's curls. Her hair was blonde like her father's. Her eyes were grey like her father's. She had a delicate smile like him too, and an innocence about her that was, Lucius had to admit, quite endearing. This child was what he had expected his and Narcissa's daughter to look like had his wife not miscarried some three years after having Draco.
No, he didn't hate her, nor her brothers. He simply hated the union that had brought them into this world. There was a difference, but perhaps difficult for a child to realize it. However, what was more upsetting was that she shouldn't have had to worry over such things to begin with.
"I don't hate you," Lucius told her eventually. "Neither you nor your brothers."
"Or mummy?" Nysa added hopefully. Lucius struggled to keep his cringe internal.
"With your mother, it's...complicated. However, my feelings towards your mother have nothing to do with you."
"I hope you like her one day," Nysa told him as she rocked forward and back where she sat. "She's a really good mummy and she makes daddy really happy."
Before Lucius could even fathom something to say in reply, voices could be heard outside. He immediately recognized her brothers and a third voice that must've belonged to that veela-child calling Nysa's name.
"You didn't tell them you were coming here, did you?"
Nysa guiltily looked towards the ground. "No."
"Next time ask for permission."
Nysa's face lit up at that and she nodded vigorously. "I will! Promise!" She grinned as she got up from the floor. She had turned on her heel to leave and was nearly gone, but she stopped at the door and swung back around. "Can I call you Grandpa Lu? I call Grandma 'Grandma Cissa' because her name is hard. Your name is hard too. So, can I?"
Lucius desperately wanted to say no. However, aside from the fact that the shouts for her were grating on his nerves, Nysa had somehow perfected wide eyes and a pouty mouth to make a man throw away his riches.
He knew he was going to regret this.
"Yes, but only when you and I are alone."
Nysa squealed in delight. "Okay! Bye bye, Grandpa Lu!"
The little girl finally left his study. After several passing seconds Lucius rose from his seat and walked over to the window. It was the perfect location to see the land that separated his house from his son's, the walkway that connected them, and Nysa being reunited with her brothers and babysitter and heading back home.
It made him shiver at the thought of it. It also, he hated to admit, made him smile.
September 1st, 2018
If Lucius could fathom the future events of his life, none of them would have included a three and a half foot shadow.
So he had heard, Nysa had done as he had told her and asked for permission to see him. The very next day, as it turned out. Draco had quickly forbade it, but leave it to Lucius' blessed wife to intervene. And so, every day this past week for an hour or two before dinner either her mother, father, or a brother would walk her over to her grandparents' house. On the days that it was his son escorting her, Lucius could plainly see his disgruntled expression as he watched them walk along the path.. A stark contrast to the glee of his daughter. The only reason Draco agreed was because his mother had returned home. Lucius doubted very much that he would let Nysa visit if she wasn't there.
As it stood now, everyone was at King's Cross Station to send off the two eldest to Hogwarts. Fifth and Fourth Years, if Lucius recalled correctly. He took the opportunity of a quiet house to invite Roland, his cousin, to visit.
"I'm sorry that I haven't come to see you sooner," Roland apologized. "I travel far too much for my work."
"Understandable," Lucius nodded. "We do what we must. Tea?"
"Yes, thank you."
A house elf that was waiting patiently by poured the tea for them and disapparated from sight once Lucius had waved him off.
"How has it been since your return?" Roland questioned with a raised brow. Lucius tutted.
"Must you ask? It is one thing to be told of the changes that have happened over the course of twenty years, but to live it? It is...quite disconcerting."
"I can imagine," Roland nodded, his eyes glancing around the room they were in. "A subdue home compared to the Manor, yes, but lavish enough, I suppose."
"My son's choice," Lucius informed him. "His taste is rather immaculate."
"Not so immaculate. We musn't forget who his choice was for a wife."
Lucius huffed quietly to himself. "I can hardly forget."
"Do you see the mudblood often?"
"I haven't seen her since the day of my release," Lucius admitted. "None of them." He paused to take a sip of his tea. It was a bit too hot for his liking, but he drank it just the same.
Roland shook his head at the news as he drank from his own cup. "While no care is given to the mudblood, and the adoptee to a certain extent, at the very least Draco should make his presence known. You're his father for Merlin's sake."
"Oh, I think he cares very little about that," Lucius mildy frowned. Although their one-sided screaming match had been two weeks ago, his son's voice was still ringing in his ears. "However, there is at least one consolation prize," he smiled. "Nysa, my granddaughter. She's taken a liking to me. Haven't a single clue why," he added as an afterthought.
Roland, too, smiled a bit. "Daughters, grands included, always favor the males in their lives. How is she? What is she like?"
"Exceptionally bright for a child who's yet to be seven. Inquisitive. Eager to learn. A tad reckless, but proper etiquette and training will correct that over time."
"Hmm, a dead ringer for Gryffindor, I'm afraid," Roland sighed. Lucius had never thought about it before, but yes, he supposed he could see the traits he had just described belonging to the House of Gryffindor. Merlin forbid she make the second Malfoy to wind up in that House.
"Lucius," Roland said earnestly. He had set his cup of tea down and leaned forward in his chair. "Now that you have been set free, perhaps you will be able to do what you were unable to behind Azkaban's walls."
Lucius' fine, blond brow rose with his cousin's words and he set his tea aside as well. "And that is..?"
"You recall that contract your son had me and several others to sign?"
The contract. No, Lucius couldn't have forgotten that. It had angered everyone and he had been sent a record-breaking number of owls with letters displaying their discontent. And while he, too, had been put off by what Draco had done and had written Narcissa about it, only a fool would deny such a prideful moment where magic was concerned. An Unbreakable Vow in a contract? While magical contracts were binding on their own, what his son had done had been sheer genius.
"I do," Lucius replied. "What of it?"
"What do you intend on doing about it?"
There went Lucius' brow again. "Do about it?"
"Of course!" Roland insisted. "Set us all free of that bloody deathtrap."
"As I was informed, it wasn't meant to kill."
"Does it matter?"
"Perhaps not." Lucius stroked his chin once and let his eyes roam over his cousin's face and body posture. The man looked tense. Persistent as well. Lucius could only imagine what his prolonged silence was doing to the man. "Say that I do something about it as you suggest, what would your intentions be once it was gone?"
"Rectifying the situation, of course," Roland replied nonchalantly.
"Surely you don't mean a permanent method of rectification, do you?"
A dreamy expression crossed Roland's features as he let slip a happy sigh. "I haven't decided yet."
"I see," Lucius mused. He leaned back in his chair and pressed the bottoms of his palms together, his forefingers coming to a point as he said, "Has it escaped your knowledge that since Draco was the one to create the contract that only he can amend it?"
"He won't do that," Roland grumbled. "You have to persuade him to."
"I can do many things, but swaying my son's mind to or from anything is not one of them. And even if I could, I wouldn't."
"What?" Roland's jaw dropped. "Why not? Lucius, she doesn't belong with us, and you know it."
"Of course I know it. Seeing her makes my skin crawl and knowing that decades upon decades of Malfoy and pureblood tradition has gone out the window makes me ill. However," Lucius paused, "there is the fact that she is still a Malfoy. Revered by many, cherished by my wife and grandchildren and, most importantly…it would destroy my son."
Roland huffed. "He would get over it."
"I assure you that he wouldn't," Lucius calmly argued. "That boy can hold a grudge longer than anyone I know. So can my wife," he added with a chuckle. When his laughter died he sighed and reached for his tea that he had previously set down. "I live to protect my family, Roland. Always have. Know then that every action I take is to continue on that trajectory."
Roland snorted loudly. "Protecting the mudblood then, are you? She is family after all."
"Yes," he admitted. "As much as it pains me to say, and I will do so for my son's sake. And...his family's as well."
"You disappoint me, Lucius," Roland grumbled mercilessly.
Lucius would have shrugged if his upbringing had allowed such a thing. Instead he sipped his tea before replying, "Is that supposed to hurt me? My actions have a habit of leaving a trail of disappointment. One more trail won't make a difference."
Author's note: Flashbacks of my growing up with my grandma kind of hit me when Lucius watches Nysa travel between houses. My grandma used to watch me as I left her apartment and to the elevator, and then she would walk to her window and wait for me to walk far enough down the street until she couldn't see me anymore. I'd always stop at a certain point and wave even though she was on the 6th floor and I couldn't see her. I knew she could see me, though. I do miss her :(.
BUT enough about me lol. Obviously the story hasn't ended yet lol. Possibly on 64, maybe...65. Who knows how this brain of mine works *happy sigh*. No, Lucius isn't about to do a complete 180 (I said that to a couple people in a reply to their reviews). But I'd like to think that he did get at least a little bit hurt with what Draco said. That's what prompted the chapter title. Still cold, aloof, and stubborn, albeit slightly amendable. I'd also like to point out the similar characteristics between him and Narcissa regarding Hermione. Of course she loves her now, but in the beginning she had her reservations about Draco not being with a pureblood witch, but she sucked it up for Draco's sake. Again, when Hermione was in her depressive state when she first got cursed, Narcissa was mad at her/stopped her from her continuous sleeping draught mixtures because she didn't want her to die and cause Draco pain. Everything they do is for Draco's/their family's sake. It may not always be right, definitely questionable, straight up horrible at times, but it's there.
Replies to guests
Guest1: "Their confrontation..." Thank you! I worked so hard on that scene and I'm glad that it panned out well. Draco definitely needed to get that anger out and Lucius was, well, himself haha. And leave it to Hermione to be classy ;)
Tia: Lucius is one tough nut to crack. And you're right, he hasn't changed in terms of personality/viewpoints, but he's not about to go round up Deatheaters and wreak havoc with the crew again. That's what got him out, and pretty much Harry's point while he was on the fence. The family, namely Draco, does have a rough ride to deal with.
Guest2: "Can't wait for more.." Thanks! I hope that you liked this chapter as well :)