"Looks almost peaceful, doesn't he?"

"Peaceful? You've got to be out of your bloody mind."

They stand there looking at him, and they don't know anything about him, that blonde man lying in the cage. Azkaban was too good for him, they said. He shouldn't be allowed to go insane like all the common criminals. He was already insane, they joked. What could Azkaban do to scum like him?

He didn't have time to put up a fight before they drew their wands and knocked him out with a few incapacitating spells – for a moment he had frighteningly put up a fight against logical odds, surging forward and lunging for one of the two before being hit at almost point blank range in the face.

He'd jerked, and fallen backwards, motionless, black robe fanned out to either side of him in a position like that of a child, making a snow angel. His head was peacefully to one side as if he'd just fallen asleep, gray eyes closed – the eyes that for one, strange, startling moment, had looked at the two aurors...in a way... that was indescribably... the opposite of what they had ever expected to find in the eyes of someone like Lucius Malfoy, a cold blooded killer.

He lay there on the floor, a black angel, with the two standing over him.

"Looks almost peaceful, doesn't he?" one murmured to the other, angling his head towards his companion and trying to let go of the tension of being shocked by the unexpected resistance to the spell.

"Peaceful?" the other retorted. He never wanted to see that man lunging for him again. Ever. It was a good thing that he was being killed. No one like that should ever be alive. "You've got to be out of your bloody mind."

They watched him through the bars as they approached, wand in hand, warily.

He was sitting cross-legged in one corner with his eyes closed. His long hair was still startlingly white-blond, and his head was bowed. There was an aura of intensity that was unique to him – they had never seen it before with anyone else. The fact that it was there proved that he was awake.

"'Ello, Malfoy," one said casually, trying to get himself to stop sweating.

He opened his strange eyes. There was only strange, cold, intelligent hunger there. "You hide your fear poorly," he remarked.

"We've had conversations of the like with your kind before," the other said lightly, almost cheerfully. It was discordantly out of place, and shouted fear.

Lucius' lips twisted slightly. It was difficult to tell what it meant.

"Now, you're going to tell us something we want to know," the first one said.

The Death Eater's face became significantly closed, coldly shutting them off completely behind a wall of hatred. A well born, Pureblood hate. It was the same expression they were familiar with, and they almost expected to hear the words, 'filthy Mudblood' from him. It was a more intense look, deepened, hardened.

They waited.

Suddenly, a smile twisted his lips. Demonic, they would call it later. Pure evil. "Then why don't you just take it?" he said casually. But his voice was transformed by that smile. It was a spitting, cruel defiance.

He stood.

In response, swifter than even the other auror, watching, could see, an arm lashed out and threw a spell, somehow oddly corresponding to the moment Malfoy came to his full height.

The blue light hung for a moment as his head snapped back, and then he crumpled. The light was gone. He lacked grace, that time. A mess of black and white. The already fair skinned man was pale, gothic against his robe. His hair was no longer combed. Each strand seemed to have a mind of its own, flowing out over his shoulders.

The dark haired auror curtly nodded at the body. "Pick 'im up."

The other clenched their jaw shut, refraining from a comment, settling for merely giving a look before bending down. He quickly reconsidered, and remembering, muttered the mobility spell. He tried not to wince.

"The orders were to escort him awake," he said, trying not to look at the floating, unconscious body.

The other man was sweating. He said nothing.

The boy was pale. Paler than his father. Suddenly his thin frame made him look small, and afraid. His eyes were widened. Far past their usual half lidded state.

"Don't cry," the blonde man commanded. He was tall, and strong looking in his black robes, as though he were in command of the situation and they might as well have been home, because he was in command everywhere.

But it wasn't true, the boy thought, anguished. The attempt to comfort him wouldn't work. Not this time. It couldn't. He held onto his resolve and knew he had to be brave enough to do it. Perhaps, if he did it, they would rethink things, he thought desperately. They didn't give him much hope. Their expressions were just masks put on them, and it was so obvious when they did it. They were standing guard, watching them out of the corner of their eyes, constantly.

He squeezed a few tears out of his eyes, forcing them to come out in defiance of his father. He rushed forward before he shrank from it and awkwardly tackled the tall man. His body felt unfamiliar in his arms; and his father had not often been so close.

Draco wasn't quite as close as he could be. He was still keeping away, keeping a thin line of air between himself and his father, steeling himself for whatever he might do. "Are they really going to kill you?" The terrified words came out of his mouth, looking straight up into his father's face, going utterly, transparently, agape.

There was only one thing to do. You're shying away, boy. This is the last moment you'll ever have with me. Isn't that important? Where's that courage? He looked down at his son sharply and hugged him closer, firmly, stately, without desperation, treasuring what he had. Eliminating that gap.

Draco suddenly found a faceful of something musty, and black, and blindly clung to his father's arms.

Are they going to kill me? That isn't truly what you're asking, is it? Lucius thought. He bent down and murmured in his son's ear, "You will be a powerful person whether I live to see you grown or not." He straightened and gave a nod, as if to say, rhetorically, 'Isn't that so?'

Lucius looked over his head, and Draco let go, and backed away, sensing that it was his mother's turn.

The aurors tightened their grips of their wands, knowing that if anyone would do anything suspicious, or try to save Lucius, it would be Narcissa. She always seemed a step too clever ahead of everyone else. She never let anyone else think otherwise, anyway, with that haughty face of hers and that look in her eyes.

They shared a passionate kiss, and Draco looked away, not sure he wanted to remember. Not sure he wanted to look back and see an image of his parents having one last kiss, the both of them knowing that it had to last the rest of their lives, and making it long, just holding each other as close as possible without being just one person.

There was something holy about it, and if he looked, he knew it would be burned into his brain and he would remember, forever.

His eyes flicked back and forth from them to the carpet.

When they parted, she attempted to give him a crystalline vial of amber perfume. The aurors kept him from closing his hand around it. They pulled the two away. Lucius looked at her, and it seemed as though his high and mightiness was seriously shaken, and his eyes were desperately holding onto hers as if to take her back, and take her back with him. He was pulled out of the room, and the connection was broken.

His eyes were on the floor, last connection shattered by a closed door.

"I always knew you would be the one to poison me," Lucius said, smiling a somehow bloody smile, coming close to the bars and speaking in a strange, spider web, whispering voice, keeping it down out of dignity.

Severus was on the other side. Sallow, making an ill expression, and sweating. Lucius could tell that he was terrified. He smiled. Common emotion these days.

He held a vial and looked as though he had been trapped somehow into being the messenger. That, given the choice, he never would have come. His pained eyes looked into Lucius' haunted ones. They shared the knowledge in that gaze that Severus was a betrayer and that when it came down to it, a line would be drawn, and they would be on opposite sides. He'd been a double-edged blade all along, Severus. But there was one last thing he would do.

Lucius looked down at the potion.

"Veritaserum," Severus' voice said dully.

Lucius' eyes flickered wide with surprise.

The sallow man's pain became more pronounced.

Voldemort drew his wand and pulled him gently close, red eyes thinning to slits he would swear were full of private amusement. "You will be the key to our victory," his hissing voice whispered.

"How do you know?" He asked, his mouth running dry and his heart beating faster, faster. He was allowed to ask such questions, was tolerated that much.

"You will," Voldemort reassured him.

He shook slightly, in spite of himself, feeling as though his lord was measuring what was left of his soul.

"In the event of your capture..." the dark lord whispered, raising his wand.

His throat tightened.

"You will carry these memories..."

The ground below him was spinning when he awoke, and he felt as if his head were going around while his body was lying still.

Go to the Ministry... he thought sluggishly.

The pain had been different from any other spell – fierce, splitting aches inside his skull, as if it were suddenly very soft and someone was trying to mold it like clay.

He propped himself up with one arm, and then stood, his blonde hair flowing down his back.

He calmly walked down the hall with his escort, measured and graceful, retreating into himself to where he was relaxed, telling himself to trust. One auror was at each arm, and further, there was one in front and behind him. They were leading him to the room.

The door was opened, and a chair stood alone in the bare room. He stared as a flutter of memory from the back of his mind compared it to a chair in a court he'd seen...


He smiled a mellow smile and summoned his self-control in order to surrender, as they forced him to sit down, but not sooner had he calmly decided to do so than his reflexes, his survival instinct, lashed out at them. He was fighting, trying to survive, to kill, and there was a moment where he was pushing them back before they subdued him.

The back of his head cracked against the hard metal back of the chair.

The haze in his vision was brief, but had not quite cleared when a lone figure entered the room, wand in hand. Twelve inches, Lucius saw hazily...

He closed his eyes when he felt the presence inside his mind. His body jerked in spite of himself, trying again to get free. The restraints were solid. He barely moved.

Lucius found himself thinking of things so vividly he was almost there... and then he was swirling further and further down to someplace dark.

They were satisfied with what they found. An execution day was set.

"This will help us defeat the Dark Lord," they said to each other, grimly but determined.

Lucius overheard.

He sat there waiting on a stone bench, hands clasped in his lap with aurors on either side pointing their wands at him.

"What're you smiling for? This isn't anything to smile about," one said roughly. Angrily, as if maddened that Lucius wouldn't give him any gratification, even now.

"Do you think your Dark Lord will get you off or something?" another demanded nastily, eyes narrowed. "He can't save you this time."

He doesn't have to.

Contemptuously, he smiled. "A far worse death awaits you," the blonde haired man assured them, looking at them each in turn. His expression made their blood run cold.

"He was like an animal; no conscience, I tell you, no conscience! Killing was the only thing he was good for," they would recall later.

They cried. They didn't matter; it could have happened to any of them. But miles away, they cried, with others, or in private, and it only seemed right when it rained that night.