A/N – Lucius finally comes to admit that his father may have been right. It is not a particularly edifying experience.
Disclaimer – I don't own Harry Potter or any of the canon characters and concepts. Don't sue me.
Chapter 7 - Disclosure
The next morning, the Aurors reconvened to reassess the matter in the cold and hopefully illuminating light of day. By the number of dark, suspicious glances turned his way, it was easy to see that most of them had made the inevitable connection – but it was also clear that Moody, of all people, did not believe it. The grizzled old veteran was too canny, and the connection too obvious – and he'd been in Azkaban for the first six of the murders, with no way to communicate with anyone, let alone an assassin. That being said, the only other way this could be connected to him was if someone had taken it upon themselves to kill them for him – the obvious suspect being Draco – but that was clearly ridiculous.
Draco was an Auror, and Aurors stuck together – he knew that all too well.
So while there were suspicious looks aplenty, and most of them aimed at him on principle, no-one suggested that he had anything to do with these murders, other than trying to solve them so he could get a free pass out of Azkaban.
Lucius wondered what they'd say if they knew about Michael – and then, incredibly, found himself entertaining the thought of revealing all. He had nothing to lose anyway, and if his old mentor was trying to incriminate him or draw his attention… Years of secrecy and subterfuge warred with a reckless disregard for conventional wisdom –
Suddenly, he felt ridiculously young again.
So, when the talk came around to him again, he cleared his throat and said, "If I may, I believe I have something you might like to hear…"
There was a general sense of astonishment and less-than-polite skepticism. He ignored it.
"No doubt Bill Weasley has told you about the cigarette butt found at the scene, still smoking – and no doubt you're all aware of the implications. Someone was standing there watching us as we investigated."
Moody fixed him with an inquisitive, rather questioning eye, as if he was not sure what he was seeing anymore. "You know who it was? Go on."
Lucius tapped his fingers contemplatively on the table. "When I first joined the Death Eaters," he began, relishing the disapproving frowns, "my first trainer and mentor was a man who called himself Michael." He waved away Tonks' question. "I don't know what his real name was, and I've never found out. But it was he who recruited me, taught me all I needed to know, and then sponsored me into the North African training camps…" he looked at Moody and raised a brow.
Granger scowled furiously. "And you're admitting it?" she ground out. "Just like that, you're admitting it."
"Why not? I don't have anything else to lose, do I?" He shrugged, returned to his story. "One of the things he taught me was how much you could learn of an opponent by the way they behaved when they thought no one was watching. He emphasized the need for thorough surveillance of potential victims, and intense study of how Aurors worked and thought and acted… He would always wait behind after an assassination to see who came, and how they dealt with it."
Some of the Aurors, who had been the investigating officers on many of those assassinations, looked a little ill. He didn't need to say how easy it would have been to kill them, unaware as they'd been.
"So you're saying it was this Michael who was the killer, as well as the watcher."
"Then why would he try to draw attention to you with them?" Draco spoke for the first time.
"Perhaps," he answered dryly, "he hoped to create this very situation. Divide and conquer – it's the oldest and most effective trick in the book."
"For that," Granger muttered under her breath, "we would first need to be united…"
Tonks shushed her. "Why should we trust you?" she demanded, her fair hair and blue eyes so reminiscent of her aunt Narcissa. "Have you ever, in all your life, given anyone any indication that you can be trusted?"
Draco started up from his chair, but his wife put a restraining hand on his arm and he sat back down, scowling at his cousin. Moody looked ironically at Draco, and then under his brows at Lucius. "Well?" he challenged. "Can we trust you, Malfoy?"
Lucius sighed, and wished idly for a cigarette. Here, he sensed, at this particular moment, flippant answers and evasions would not be tolerated. He would have to answer honestly, answer truly despite all the years of misdirection and deliberate deception, otherwise he would lose their trust forever.
His father had once told him that the trust and respect of good men was the most important thing he could ever earn, and by far the most lasting – nothing, he'd said, would ever compensate for its loss, not money, not power, and not success. He'd never quite understood what the old man was talking about – he'd been too arrogant, and too thoroughly indoctrinated by Slytherin's modern credo of ruthless ambition and vicious backbiting – until the day he'd stood in the dock and been sentenced to Azkaban, and not oneof his erstwhile peers and allies hadmanaged to meet his eyes.
He hadn't expected them to, but he couldn't help but remember his father's funeral, when mourners and well-wishers had come from all over the world to pay their respects…
Who had come to watch him step into the darkened halls of Azkaban? Not his wife, not his son, and none of his 'friends' – only Moody had been there, Moody and the team of Aurors who had secured his imprisonment. And even more galling than the gloating satisfaction in the Aurors' eyes had been the faint sense of disappointment in Moody's.
And now here he was again, and these 'good men and women', all of whom would have earned his father's approval, were seeking to find some reason to trust him. For years he had run from his father's teachings, ignored them, mocked them, twisted them –
"In Merlin's name," he said finally, "I will not betray you." He swore not by the Lady, the patron of the High Clan, but by Merlin, who was the patron of the more modern wizarding society, and the creator of the very first ancestor group of the modern Aurors. The Order of Merlin was the preeminent chivalrous order in Britain, and an oath sworn in his name was particularly sacred to all who had ever studied arms at the academy…
"If you think that we'll believe that," Granger snarled at him again, but Arabella Figg, who had remained silent throughout, held up a restraining hand.
"No, my dear, wait. Lucius," she said, turning to him and pinning him with those faded, watery eyes he remembered from dim childhood memories as hot, electric blue, "can we believe you?"
He smiled crookedly, feeling oddly defenseless now that he had dropped all his artifice and shields. "In all my life, I have never sworn an oath in Merlin's name," he said quietly. "I am not that much of a hypocrite."
He held the old woman's eyes with his own, wondering how much she could see of those old, faded memories of a larger than life, heroic father who had picked him up and whirled him round, and then told him solemnly that some oaths were inviolate, and some truths were universal…
And some things were unforgivable.
Severus would have seen, had always been able to see more than Lucius cared to reveal. But Severus had seen too much, one night, and now he would never see again…
Finally she nodded. "Very well."
And it was enough.
"Alastor Moody," said the man known only as Michael, "can it be that you have finally managed to snare him?" There was laughter in his voice, genuine if ironic amusement as he poured himself a drink and considered the consequences of this morning's extraordinary vow.
Magical vows created ripples in reality, the magic sealing the oath-maker to his word. He had known enough Aurors to recognize the feel of a vow sworn in Merlin's name. But this was something new – Lucius Malfoy, it seemed, had thrown his lot in with his old nemesis, rather than taking the first opportunity to escape.
Well, he had always known that old Marcus Malfoy had had entirely too much influence over his son, despite Lucius' avowals to the contrary. Lucius' recruitment had had to be handled with extreme care, lest those ingrained principles reawaken – as long as that ironic detachment had allowed him to stand back from his acts, to think of it as theatre, he had allowed himself to wallow in his own extravagant amorality.
But without that distance, without the irony, he became once again his father's son…
The emotional ties were in place, the father's legacy and the son's choice, and Lucius perhaps relished the thought of turning coat so thoroughly, and being so accepted by the most hardcore members of the Resistance. Whatever the reason, he had made his choice, and soon he would bring his own particular verve and energy to the Ministry and the Order of the Phoenix.
In 1972, Lucius had unleashed the first and most devastatingly effective campaign of the true war, marking the Dark Lord's transition from a troublemaking guru on the fringes of society to a true, dangerous threat to the Ministry. He had struck at key military and government targets, spreading terror and chaos with the creation of the Morsmordre spell, assassinating key Aurors and Ministers. In one day, there had been thirty co-ordinated attacks – by the end of the week, wizarding Britain was on its knees.
And then Lucius' fellow Death Eaters, jealous of the young man's success, had managed to turn the Dark Lord's favour away from him, and command had passed to someone else – the new commander had managed to lose all the ground Lucius had so brilliantly gained, and the Death Eaters had never had such a close chance at victory again. The Ministry forces had been put on alert, the Aurors had been reinforced and given new powers, and the war had dragged on for another nine years, no matter that Voldemort had recognized and remedied his mistake.
If Moody had more faith in his old comrade's son than Voldemort had had in his young protégée…
Well. It would certainly make life very interesting…
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