Title: A Clock of Gold and Pearls
Disclaimer: J. K. Rowling and associates own these characters; I am writing this story for fun and not profit.
Content Notes: Established relationship, time travel, AU
Wordcount: This part 4600
Summary: Lucius knew that, although Harry loved him, he also suffered private doubts over being in love with the man who had endangered two of his best friends in his second year and fought on the other side of the war. Never let it be said that Malfoys don't make extravagant gestures for those they love.
Author's Notes: Another of my July Celebration fics. This will have a second part, to be posted tomorrow.
A Clock of Gold and Pearls
Lucius looked up at the portrait of his grandfather, Hadrian Malfoy, who had a slight sneer on his face as though he despised the painter. He sat in a green chair near the fireplace Lucius recognized as being part of the Rose Drawing Room now. His left hand rested on the head of a tazi, the sleek hunting dogs he had kept as Lucius kept peacocks. His other cradled a clock, magnificently drawn in pearls and gold.
Unlike the other portraits in the Manor, this one had never moved or spoken. Lucius knew why, a secret passed down to his father Abraxas and entrusted to him in a letter among his father's papers when he died unexpectedly. In turn, Lucius would pass the secret down to his own son.
But right now, he intended to use it.
Lucius studied the portrait one more time, finding the clues that pointed in the right direction. Then he turned and strode to the Rose Drawing Room.
It was after another evening when Harry had come home, tired and discouraged instead of energized when talking with his friends, that Lucius had decided.
"You argued about me again." Lucius laid his paper aside. The Daily Prophet rarely had anything worth reading anyway, but Lucius amused himself on evenings when Harry was out by spotting the inaccuracies and spelling mistakes.
"Yeah." Harry took his cloak off and then almost ran across to him and kissed Lucius desperately. Lucius reached up to rest his hands on the back of Harry's neck.
"I know. I think Hermione's ready to accept, but Ron doesn't think it's worth months of his sister being the victim of the diary and you fighting in the Department of Mysteries. He tried to say it didn't make up for Hermione being Petrified, either, but she shot him down. That's why I think she's ready to accept."
"I offered them gold."
Harry groaned and leaned his forehead against Lucius's. Lucius could feel how much the lightning bolt scar had faded, until now it was a truly ordinary symbol, nothing more than that, a line of skin. "I know. That just made it worse. And yes, I know about the old pure-blood traditions that say it would have made up for the lost education Hermione and Ginny had and the wounds we sustained in that fight. But none of them follow those traditions."
"I—have said that you could walk away."
Lucius did not offer that option lightly, but it weighed still more heavily on him that Harry should come home with lines scrawled in his face, that his friends should not accept him dating Lucius even after two years.
"No!" Harry grabbed Lucius and buried his face in his neck. Lucius softly inhaled the scent of sweat from Harry's nape. "I don't want to do that. Ever. It's okay. I'll spend some more time with Ernie and his lot. They're not as close to me as Ron and Hermione and Ginny, but—they understand more. And honestly, right now that understanding is worth more than yet another moral argument."
Lucius nodded, but said nothing, and let Harry talk about one of the stories from the Prophet that he had spotted the same inaccuracies as Lucius in. All the time, Lucius watched his face and the way the lines there never entirely went away.
I must do something to make up for what I did.
Lucius sat in the chair that now stood in the Rose Drawing Room in the place where Grandfather Hadrian's once had, balanced his right hand at the same height and distance in the air that it would be if it was resting on the head of a tazi, and reached out with his left towards the mantel.
He felt a shiver and heard a click. When he turned his head, as he had known it would, the clock resisted in his head. It would never be real unless someone of Malfoy blood sat exactly where Grandfather Hadrian's portrait had sat, in the same position.
And even someone of Malfoy blood could wind the clock only once.
Lucius studied its face for a moment. It was beautiful, the golden numbers shimmering, the pearl-outlined hands pointing to what looked like midnight and three-o'clock. It would take a much closer reading to become aware that words indicating years, months, and phases of the moon were also inscribed on the clock.
Lucius exhaled slowly. He turned the clock over. Out of the back stuck a large key. He would have to wind it with his destination and goals already firmly in mind.
The clock was not a Time-Turner. It would take someone back considerably further and allow them to make changes to the timeline that would be impossible for someone using a lesser device. But it would keep time from cracking and falling apart if the Malfoy was absolutely firm of purpose.
This is what you want? Lucius could almost imagine his father asking him.
It is, Lucius thought, and fixed his mind on the destination. He didn't glance at the notes that lay beside him, notes that translated the time and place he wanted to go back to into the numbers of turns the key would need. He already knew what they said.
He began to wind the clock.
The key stuck at first, and clicked jerkily from place to place inside the clock even when Lucius managed to turn it. Lucius could hear numerous ticking sounds as he made the motions. The flow of the key abruptly became smoother and softer, at the same moment as the world around him began to blur at the edges. Round shapes like falling pearls traveled past his eyes.
It will try to distract you, Father's letter had said.
Lucius kept looking at the key. He had three more turns to go, and it was hot in his hand.
One, and the clock began to vibrate. But walls were fading into being around him, and Lucius could see the shapes of people in robes and cloaks walking back and forth. He smiled in satisfaction.
Two, and the clock began to rotate in place—or try. Lucius didn't allow it to actually do so, as that would have ripped the key out of his hand. Instead, he concentrated, and saw ginger hair on some of the milling wizards, and books on the high shelves around them.
Three, and the world around him twisted. Lucius held out his hand, because there was something in it already, a slim shape pressing insistently down. Lucius curved his fingers and held both the clock and the thin thing trying to escape.
A snap and a shiver traveled through Lucius's body, and he vanished.
And the world reasserted itself.
Lucius glanced around, and nodded. He had come back to Flourish and Blotts on the day of the book signing by that fool Lockhart. He had replaced his younger body for that day, and already, his memories were in flux, banging and convulsing inside his head, trying to make him become the Lucius Malfoy who belonged here, the one who had no foreknowledge of what was to come.
The one who was holding Tom Riddle's Horcrux diary with the intention to slip it into little Ginny Weasley's cauldron, not keep it out.
Lucius clamped down his will on his brain and held it still. The clock would only bring him back for scattered moments in time, not for long stretches. That was fine. This was the beginning of correcting the mistakes he had made with regards to Harry's friends.
He stepped back, out of sight of Arthur Weasley, and slipped the diary into his pocket. Then he turned and strode out of the bookshop as if disgusted with the crowd.
Lucius turned around. Draco had followed him, and he was frowning at him as if he didn't know why Lucius had hurried outside when they were here to buy his schoolbooks. Which, of course, he had no reason to know.
"I am sorry, son," Lucius said, and gave a shudder that felt theatrical, while he studied Draco's face in wonder he couldn't express. It looked so much more real than it ever did in photographs from the same time period. "I could not be around such a concentrated mass of vulgarity any longer."
Draco began to smile. "The Weasleys are the ones who make it vulgar, don't they, Father?"
Lucius nodded, and had an idea at the same time. "Of course they do. But one of the most disgusting things they do is be open about it."
"What do you mean, sir?"
Did I really have him call me that? But Draco would not—yet—have been altered by Lucius's return to the past, so he had to accept that this was a faithful rendition of it. Lucius raised his eyebrows a little. "Do you not think it a touch—déclassé—when a Weasley begins yelling insults at you?"
Draco bowed his head a little, his eyebrows pressing down above his nose. "Well, I reckon. But I thought that's what we were supposed to do, Father."
"The upper class may have an obligation to abide by the customs of their inferiors on occasion." Lucius waved one hand. "This is not one of those we should imitate. We should keep our eyes fixed on our goals and purposes, which do not include struggles with anyone we see as beneath us. Physical or mental struggles," he added, making Draco's eyes widen a little.
"So—I shouldn't fight with Weasley, sir?"
"If one of them attacks you first, then you may of course defend yourself," Lucius decided after a moment's inner debate. "But do think about how it looks to others when they see you sneering at someone that you supposedly hold yourself above, Draco. You are descending to their level. Is that the impression you want to give?"
Draco looked a little ill. "Not at all, sir!"
"Then keep this policy in mind for future confrontations," Lucius said, and studied the books in his son's arms. "You have all the books that you need?"
"Yes, even the ones by Lockhart."
Lucius chuckled and led Draco home, starting a conversation about how Draco might make the best of a Defense Against the Dark Arts class in which he would learn nothing useful. The world was already softening around him again. He had done what he had come to this piece of the timeline to do, and more besides, and the conversation he was having with Draco could easily blend into the one he would have had with his son on the way home, anyway.
There was a single chime that seemed to make his body ripple, and he was gone.
Lucius sighed and wrung his hand for a moment. He had finished writing the last of the letters that he would post to Potter—as he was right now—throughout the school year, letters from a "mysterious friend" who had something very Dark and important and belonging to You-Know-Who to dispose of, but feared to trust the Ministry. The letters were designed to catch the younger Potter's attention and inflame his curiosity, while discouraging him from showing them to any of his friends or professors.
When the right moment came, Lucius would hint at the existence of the Chamber of Secrets. Lockhart was still at the school, so he thought Harry's Parseltongue would still be revealed. Push Harry just a little, from a slightly different direction, and Lucius could convince him that the idea to open the Chamber of Secrets, challenge the basilisk, and meet up with his "friend" to destroy the diary were all his own.
And he could do it without any trauma to Ginny Weasley, Hermione Granger, or the other Petrified Muggleborns at the school in his first time.
Why did I never think of this before?
Because you never cared about them enough before, his own memories reminded him with a rap that felt like a rap his own father might have delivered to his knuckles.
Lucius gave a breathless snort. That was true enough. He gathered up the letters and prepared for the next leap through time. He would post them on certain designated dates, and then leap to others when he could reasonably expect to receive Potter's letters back. He honestly thought he wouldn't have to write very many new ones in response to those letters, only change the phrasing of a pre-written one now and then.
He knew Harry that well.
And he was doing this for him, far more than for his friends.
"You're going to be with me when I go in to fight the basilisk, Mr. Malfoy?"
Lucius had never intended to be anywhere else. He smiled at the young Potter before him, relieved to find he felt no attraction. Harry, his Harry, was simply too different from this scruffy little bright-eyed boy.
"Of course. Do you think a twelve-year-old should face such beasts alone?"
"I dunno, I know some people who would have let me," Potter muttered, and turned to the sink decorated with the small snake before Lucius could remark on that. He hissed. The sink descended into the floor, and the wailing ghost popped out of a cubicle behind them to see what they were doing.
I hate them too, Harry, Lucius thought, and followed the young Potter down into the tunnels beneath the school with undeniable fascination. Harry had described this for him, of course, but not nearly as often as Lucius wanted to listen to it. And it was entirely different to feel the crunch of bones beneath his own feet and stare at a basilisk's shed skin.
And the enormous serpents with emerald eyes that guarded the entrance to the Chamber of Secrets, for that matter. Lucius looked as carefully as he could in the moments before Harry hissed the door open. He wanted to preserve this particular memory in a Pensieve later and study the snakes more closely to see what they were like.
As the doors opened and they stepped into the Chamber, Lucius wrinkled his nose. Seeing the legendary place for himself was one thing, smelling it another.
"Ugh," Potter said as they turned to face the statue that legend said was of Salazar Slytherin.
Lucius felt his lips twitch. There was his own Harry's spontaneous honesty. "Yes," he said. "Well. I see no basilisk in this part of the Chamber. Perhaps it is behind the statue?" He took the diary from his pocket. The cover tried to burn him. Lucius sighed and raised the spells he had learned before he came to this timeline. The Horcrux had tried to seize control of him and Draco when they lived in the same house before. Any Malfoy could protect himself from such effects of Dark Arts.
That I never thought of getting rid of it before…
Lucius flicked the thought away from him. He was here now, and he would accomplish the task he had set himself.
"But how would we make it come out?" Potter was prowling in a slow circle, his raised wand illuminating pillars and the outlines of the large stones set into the walls in flickering flashes. "I mean, I suppose I can't stand here and say—" And he gave a long hiss in Parseltongue that Lucius couldn't understand any more than he had when back in his own time.
The jaw of the statue trembled. Lucius immediately pulled Potter behind him, shaking his head. Of course Harry's younger self would also preserve the same dumb luck.
The basilisk that slid forth was a glittering snake so deep a green that Lucius's eyes nearly refused to comprehend it, and wanted to take it for black. But Lucius's mind was more sensible. From an inner, expanded pocket of his robe, he pulled the Stunned and bound rooster and cast it to the floor of the Chamber.
The rooster clapped its wings at once and lifted its head to crow at the small conjured sun Lucius had set above its head. The sound seemed to go on far longer than it should, echoed by a rising and swelling hiss that was, presumably, the hiss of the dying basilisk.
Lucius felt the floor shake as the basilisk settled to it. He glanced up and blinked, quickly. The snake did lie on the floor in front of him, and it was so much more enormous than he'd ever thought it would be. He swallowed back sickness and turned to face Potter, who was standing next to him with his mouth open.
"Are you all right?" Lucius asked.
"Of course I am. It didn't touch me. I just—I never thought something so big could be killed just like that, you know?"
Lucius nodded, understanding, and moved forwards to circle the basilisk's head. He flinched the first time he saw the dead, staring golden eyes, but they couldn't harm him without the basilisk's will behind them, either. The mouth was open, which spared him having to find a spell that would do it for him. He bent down and slashed his wand sideways, a modified Cutting Curse that severed the connection between the fang and the gum.
He lifted the tooth itself out carefully. Being pricked with the tip might still result in death, especially when he could feel the clamor starting in his head again. This timeline knew he didn't belong here and was trying hard to get rid of him.
When he took the diary from his pocket, the pages began to flip. Lucius smiled coldly. It seemed that the shade within could feel when true death was close. It explained why it had never panicked before when Lucius had it close to a drawing room fire or other ordinary danger.
Lucius tilted his head in response to Potter's question, but continued advancing on the diary. He wasn't going to give it a chance to snare a victim this time.
"Is it fair to kill something like this without talking to it first? You said it can talk. Is it right to just stab it in the back like this? I mean, through the cover. You know what I mean."
Lucius withheld his sigh. One of the things he valued most about his Harry was his sense of fairness and justice. He hadn't thought that would apply to this younger version of Potter and the diary, but perhaps Harry had only managed to stab it with the fang the first time because he was in the midst of battle and on the verge of dying.
Or it could be the Horcrux reaching out to try and find a way to survive. So Lucius didn't answer the question before he stabbed the diary. There was a hideous shriek, and the black liquid that welled up was more disgusting than any blood Lucius had ever seen. He moved a step away and spelled the floor so that the liquid seeped into that instead of his boots.
"Um. Mr. Malfoy?"
This time, Lucius turned to face Potter, and shook his head gently when he saw the almost desperate face the boy tilted up to him. "What you must remember, Mr. Potter, is that artifacts like these are objects, not people. No matter that they might sometimes sound like people, or talk like them. It is no more immoral to destroy them than it is to break a cup or a vase. Do you understand?"
Harry took his time looking back and forth between the book and Lucius, as if he wanted to make absolutely sure that no one was making up his mind for him in a way that could influence him. But in the end, his mouth tightened, and he nodded.
"Good." Lucius squeezed his shoulder for a second, and then tucked the fang into his own pocket. He would let Harry make the decision on taking the diary. He was already reaching for it, and the world around him turning fuzzy, so presumably the timeline was reasserting itself to make sure the diary would be delivered to Dumbledore.
Lucius intended to have the fang hilted in silver and other purifying metals, and then use it as a weapon in some other conflicts. He could already imagine how it would make a difference.
The timeline allowed him to stay until he was in the corridor outside Dumbledore's office, and then he shook Potter's hand solemnly and continued on his way, to become a shadow springing through time with the sound of an enormous tick.
Lucius was a little surprised to find himself coming out of the whirl at the Quidditch World Cup. He had assumed he would surface next in Harry's third year, when he would be more kind and not demand the execution of the hippogriff that had beaten Draco.
But no, he was here, the night he had helped bait the Muggles and recoiled from the sight of the Dark Mark cast into the air—not because he loathed it as he did now, but because it was too soon, and it might cause someone to suspect him. He was standing with his white mask in one hand and Travers staring at him with a wrinkled brow.
"Well? Put it on, Lucius."
Lucius looked up with a faint sneer. "And advertise what we are doing here, Travers? Do you think me that stupid?"
Travers fell back from him with a recoil that made his own mask fall from his hand. "What's wrong with you, Lucius?" he muttered, staring at him from beneath a curl of dusky red hair. "You can't think that we should leave the Muggles alone. I mean, they're Muggles. They don't deserve any mercy."
"I might think that, Travers," Lucius said. He was quiet on the subject of Muggles these days, but honestly, even as Harry's lover, he had to think about them very little. Harry had thrown himself into the wizarding world wholeheartedly and rarely considered returning to the world he had grown up in. "And I might also think that it is a stupid thing to do here, with so many high-ranking members of the Ministry in attendance."
"Why would they care—"
"Including Aurors, Travers."
Travers uneasily glanced around, and the other two Death Eaters, dressed in their robes and masks, did the same. "Well, I mean," Travers said cautiously after a second to listening to the darkness. "None right now."
"If you believe that I will take the risk to relieve your boredom, you are mistaken," Lucius responded, and used his wand to change his robes back to ordinary black ones. "Excuse me."
He turned and walked rapidly away from his old comrades. It could be that the timeline would adjust it so that they would simply conduct the Muggle-baiting without him, but so be it. He was going to be far from here and not even a suspect in the chaos that would erupt in a few minutes. His adjusted memories told him that he had already nodded at Potter in the top box of the Quidditch World Cup a few hours ago.
Potter had given him an earnest look—probably because he wouldn't have seen Lucius since his second year—and then smiled back and nodded a little, too.
Lucius smiled as the world folded around him again. The clock had worked; he only needed to be present at moments in the timeline when he had to make an active choice. Things that would naturally change as a result of his earlier actions simply occurred, and time turned and plunged in the direction of the brighter path he had envisioned.
Loud ticks sounded in his ears as the folding seized him and wrung him like cloth.
When he appeared on his knees in the graveyard, bowing to Lord Voldemort with the silver Death Eater mask firmly clasped around his face, Lucius understood why. Other than perhaps the battle in the Department of Mysteries—which wouldn't happen in the same way in this adjusted timeline—this was the most important moment when he had acted as an enemy to Harry himself.
Voldemort began to pace in front of him and the others, expounding on his methods of immortality and how much he despised them for not actively working for his return. Lucius didn't listen. The ticks of the clock were louder than any of Voldemort's words.
That, and the intense, silent screaming in his ears as his eyes searched the graveyard and found Potter tied tightly to a gravestone.
Lucius had been here once himself, and yet he had somehow missed the utter pallor of Harry's face then, how he struggled against his bonds even when he should have been slumped in defeat and exhaustion, and the burning glare he directed at Voldemort's back. Lucius swallowed. This boy was not his lover, but he had the seeds of the personality that Lucius had fallen in love with.
He clutched his hand around his wand. He couldn't risk changing too much, because that would mean altering the timeline beyond repair and maybe changing the future in ways that would mean he'd never be with Harry. And yet he couldn't leave Harry there to suffer and, if he recognized Lucius, believe that one of his friends was betraying him.
From the fixed gaze he was directing towards Lucius, he believed that already.
Lucius wanted to snort when the obvious solution came to him. Of course. Interfere subtly.
When Harry was unbound and set on his feet, Lucius wove together a braid of grass directly behind Voldemort's feet. Harry darted his gaze at it, but then immediately turned away so that he was looking at Voldemort instead.
That's right. Think about who would do that, who would wish you well.
"Bow to death, Harry—"
Lucius's spine tingled as he watched Harry resist Voldemort's Imperius Curse. That was a sign of such strength that he couldn't believe he had missed it the first time around. Voldemort stepped back in his shock, and his heels became caught up in the braided grass that Lucius had woven together.
He stumbled. Lucius knew he wasn't the only Death Eater watching with open mouths as the greatest Dark Lord since Grindelwald sprawled on the ground.
This young Harry was wiser than the Harry of Lucius's time had been. He immediately leaped over the prone form of Voldemort and raced towards the still body of Cedric Diggory. Lucius felt a distant regret that he hadn't arrived in this moment in time to prevent the young man from dying, but he hadn't caused the death and couldn't be held responsible for preventing it.
Harry snatched the Triwizard Cup with one hand and Cedric Diggory's arm with the other. Just before he vanished into the maze of colors that signaled the Portkey working, Harry turned his head, and Lucius caught his eye.
Harry gave a brave little nod back. He disappeared, and Lucius was left with the bone-deep contentment that Harry had guessed correctly about what his friend had done for him.
The timeline concentrated around him and snapped tight on his limbs then. Lucius was more than happy to retreat and leave his older self, or the new blending of selves that they had become, to live again through the Dark Lord's Cruciatus.