TITLE: Safeguard of the Magical World and Whatnot
AUTHOR: Roseveare, t.l.green@talk21.com
RATING: PG-13
LENGTH: 1300 words
SUMMARY: Sometimes the memory plays tricks and, well, Christopher Chant's had a busy life. A minor error of recollection could obviously happen to anyone.
NOTES: Challenge fic from Livejournal. Ravurian requested Chrestomanci/Lucius Malfoy. I've never written either fandom before, and I know Chrestomanci rather better than Lucius, which probably shows.
DISCLAIMER: Chrestomanci belongs to Diana Wynne Jones. Lucius Malfoy belongs to JK Rowling. Not mine, no profit, yadda, yadda, yadda...

Safeguard of the Magical World and Whatnot

"Your son would certainly appear to be magically gifted." Chrestomanci prodded at the dragon's head mounted on the wall, but it had clearly been dead for far too long to make a fuss about. Vaguely disappointed, he turned his attention back to his host.

...Who was sneering. "Of course he is, Christopher my good man. He's a Malfoy."

His voice, Chrestomanci had always thought, was the aural equivalent of trying to eat whole lemons, with more or less the same effect. The sourness soaked inward through the ears and settled in the mouth, and made it damnably hard to suppress the corresponding smushed-up expression of disgust.

Lucius had not changed a great deal since the days when Gabriel de Witt had decided to bring him to Chrestomanci Castle for tutoring at a belligerent and scrawny fifteen. A disproportionate amount of the change had been of a vertical nature, and while Lucius wasn't a lot taller that he was, Chrestomanci still could not help but feel it was all somehow Not Done, quite aside from the novel and irritating experience of being called by his given name when nobody had done that in years, including his wife.

The man also, he knew now, was a dark or at least extremely muddy sorcerer in six of the seven incarnations that had thus far come to his attention, and he wasn't entirely without suspicion with regard to this one. He felt his lip curl belligerently downwards of its own accord (they had been something of a matched pair in that respect, at fifteen, too. Poor Gabriel de Witt, God rest his soul, had never made a decision he regretted more. Youthful misdemeanours and all that. Chrestomanci reflected that it was probably fortunate for his present state of reasonably amicable matrimony that Millie's time at boarding school had corresponded to Lucius' stays at the castle).

He pondered carefully on his next words. He had no doubts that the boy he had just assessed was as much the father's miniature in personality as in appearance. However, he could hardly proclaim that he would not school the boy upon suspicion of him being a little bugger of the highest calibre who would get up to all the kinds of atrocious things his father once had, which he, Chrestomanci himself, knew about by virtue of the fact that he had, himself, gamely done them with him.

"I shall, of course, have to discuss it with my tutors," he hedged with the sort of pomposity that usually sent all the potential objections scattering for cover. Michael, he thought, with a great, warm rush of faith. Michael would listen for approximately half a minute before declaring that he would be enjoying ice-cream sundaes on a nice sandy beach in Hell before he tutored a Malfoy. He smiled - yes, maybe a little smugly - and congratulated himself over the many benefits of choosing subordinates of large and predictable Character.

"I do hope they arrive at the correct decision," Lucius said silkily, which - oh dear - wasn't how things were supposed to go at all. "I assure you, there is no other school, Christopher, to which I would rather trust the education of my son. Malfoys have been taught by the Chrestomanci himself for generations without fail, since the destruction of Hogwarts. My family is accustomed to only the very best."

Chrestomanci frowned, as his brain pulled this way and that the vague idea that that might have been intended as some kind of threat, then discarded it out of hand for its absurdity. Lucius was a game fellow with a spot of magic, somewhat known for his temper and imaginative line in cruel humour, but surely not insane. Well, not that insane. "Yes, yes," he said testily. "Well, we shall just have to wait and see. It is the tutors, after all, who will be doing the actual teaching. Hrrm."

If they were up against Tradition... Blast. Scratch relying on Michael to say no outright.

Cat, he reminded himself, as Lucius eyed him narrowly and he felt the twinges of Guilt and Obligation. The boy had already experienced far too much of the Wrong Kind of Influence without throwing Malfoy the next generation into the mix. Millie would have apoplexy. Dear God, he would be sleeping in his workshop for a month...

But even Gabriel de Witt had not tossed a Malfoy scion out on his ear. He winced as the knowledge jostled to the front of his brain that if he said no to Lucius, he was going to feel the pressing inadequacy of having Turned Down a Challenge, and it would annoy him for ages. Well, for weeks. Maybe a day or so.

He wandered distractedly, letting his legs follow his attention, and studied the pictures on the walls of the Malfoy sitting room, chewing on the idea that since every Malfoy since time remembered appeared to have been identical, the family might in fact be some form of self-perpetuating demon he could in easy conscience kill off or magically banish, banishing the problem permanently from his thoughts at the same time...

"Alistar Malfoy," Lucius said from his elbow. "My sometime grandfather. I forget quite how many 'greats' I should tag onto that. Six or seven, I should think."

"Very, ah," Chrestomanci faltered, concentration elsewhere, "astounding, the resemblance in your family. I shouldn't think your folks were ever in want of portraiture when times were lean, eh? Just change the label and Bob's your uncle Frederick."

"Christopher," Lucius berated. He paused and chuckled. "You know, my father always did say you were the worst kind of influence."

...Of course, he had at certain times known Lucius rather closely... those closer occasions requiring a care more akin to international espionage to achieve, in order that de Witt wouldn't find out by the simple expediency of interrogating the furniture (or any other inanimate object to hand. And his face rather wanted to redden, but he irritably persuaded it against the idea). Anyway, the fact was that he had known Lucius entirely too closely for any nine-lived Enchanter worth his salt to miss hints of demonic origin, which would seem to count against the theory as...

Lucius last remark settled into his thoughts with a nasty 'click'.

"Really?" Chrestomanci said in faint horror. He grimaced. His voice, he reminded it severely, did not squeak. Ever.

Lucius, still hanging a half-step behind him, was gifting him an amused sideways look that he knew all too well. "But obviously, Christopher. And you know he was always the first to say that a spirited lack of regard for the rules was an essential and praiseworthy character trait of any Malfoy. You were, you must surely realise, the most appalling child." He laughed. "I always found it immensely ironic, given the role you were being trained up for. Even vaguely comforting, to a certain degree. Do you remember the debacle with the chimneys?"

"Chimneys?" Chrestomanci pressed his fingers to the bridge of his nose, and peered irritably at the damnable man through the gaps between them. "Ah. Thank you so very much for reminding me, Lucius." And was it possible, said a voice in his head, that he had mixed up, all these times, who it had been that had said 'Let's...' and who had willingly followed? "Aargh." He changed the sound into a pretence at clearing his throat.

Unconvincingly. "Headache?" Lucius asked. "Fancy. I didn't think you could get those, these days. All that power at your fingertips; safeguard of the magical world and whatnot." He frowned as Chrestomanci rubbed his head again and mumbled something incoherent in place of a reply, and then somehow Lucius managed a smile that was less nasty than usual, an ability Chrestomanci hadn't known he possessed. "What do you say, Christopher, to a drink or two for old times sake?"

As it happened, he said absolutely nothing, being far too busy reflecting upon the cursed uniqueness of the feeling when Lucius led the way, assuming a yes.

END