Just a short little fic that wouldn't get out of my mind. Highly introspective. Takes place after the 5th book; slightly AU, I suppose. Features work from Robert Frost (1874 - 1963).

Review if you like. No flames, please.

miles to go

On practically any given night, should a caller be welcome and should Lucius Malfoy want to be found, one could easily assume that he was at home and enjoying all the splendor of his Wiltshire manor. As with all men of opulence, he was already too easily accustomed to his manor, a rather perfect reflection of the man himself: cold, regal, well-furbished, but rather lacking personality.

However, this night, it was not the cool marble floors and soft candles greeting him; no, it was walls and floors of rough stone with flickering torches to light his way. Tonight was business. Not the kind of business operable from home. And so, with a mild air of distaste for the memories Hogwarts evoked, Lucius had donned his finest cloak and jewels in preparation for that striking first impression.

There was a soft sound in the distance. He was trying to avoid detection, and thus, that one that proved effective in momentarily bringing him back to reality.

His eyes lingered for a moment upon the outside courtyard.

As if from a dream, Lucius could recall the day he had first met his wife: a day that had been just as life-changing as this night would prove to be.

At the age of 11, Narcissa Black had not been much to look at. Indeed, she had first disappointed Lucius, who was already incredibly refined for a boy only 17. And, of course, being the spoilt sole heir to the Malfoy fortune, he was used to getting only the best. For his bethrothed wife, he had imagined someone rather more beautiful, someone to match the looks which were the envy of almost all of Slytherin house.

Critically, he had circled her that one time. For 11, she was short and thin, almost to the point of being bony, with light, lank hair and a thin mouth.

You are to be my wife? he asked, disbelief evident in his voice. He would have liked to say more (really, nothing more was needed than the inflection in that sentence), but he was abruptly cut off. Not by a voice. From Narcissa Black herself.

She had raised her eyes to him then. And so different from the rest of her small, pale form, those eyes had belied all the frost that a true pureblood was brought up to be. Those eyes spoke of power and acclaim and a promise of greatness and Lucius had nearly reeled from the shock. If one could read from the eyes, Narcissa Black might then have been a book for how well Lucius Malfoy knew, at that one moment, that she would be his perfect wife.

And so he had accepted her, waited for her. Seven long years for her to graduate, then another one for him to fall into the Dark Lord's good graces, and yet another one for him to settle into a house he liked and to decorate according to his new wife's wishes.

"Do you like white, or perhaps beige?"

His voice had been dangerously irritable. "Narcissa, I do not care, just choose whichever color is the most expensive and let us be heading home. You should not even be out like this."

"But Lucius, the color of the walls are important. Draco's room must be perfect. He will be in Slytherin, so I was thinking of the dark green carpet, and perhaps...hm...the bathroom in white and gray marble?"

He had acquiesed easily, pleased with his wife's work at preparing the baby room, and simply satisfied in watching the graceful way she would move even while more than seven months pregnant.

At the age of 19, when she became pregnant, Narcissa Malfoy had blossomed into everything Lucius had hoped. She was beautiful, she was smart, she could turn the charm on like a water spigot. And it was surprising how well they got along - much more than Lucius had ever remembered his own parents being.

But of course, as in all things, Lucius Malfoy was smart. The Dark Lord was the means to a power that Lucius would never be able to attain himself; and for this reason only, he would prostrate himself at the man's feet in a way no other woud be able to make a Malfoy. At the same time, he was cautious. In the Dark Lord's inner circle, too much was at stake for error.

And yet, ironically, he knew he was already majorly flawed for being one of the Dark Lord's closest supporters. In all things, the one that the Dark Lord would never understand was love. And Lucius had far too much of it. Not to spread around, but for the one person who completed him.


"Lucius? Is something the matter?"

Lucius cradled his son, watching the wispy platinum hair and the dark gray eyes he knew would lighten with time. "He will be the one. The only Malfoy."

"Only...only one child?" She'd looked troubled at the time, face shadowed and drawn from the pain of her recent childbirth. "But Lucius, what if something should happen to the babe? What if he should turn out a Squib? Of course, there's no possible way he will be," she added hastily, "but if anything else should happen, we - you - will have no heir."

"No. This boy will be the only one."

The Dark Lord would use his family against him, should Lucius displease him in the slightest manner. This was the best way of keeping them safe, to insure that he never had more to care about than just the one. And this way, Narcissa would not have any more pain.

Lucius walked down the halls of Hogwarts castle, vaguely recalling a memory here and there. As he had been in his last year and she in her first when they'd met, there were more memories outside the castle than in, but the ghosts of his past still haunted him at times.

Especially the ghost of a past concerning a certain Ministry incident.

The Dark Lord's wrath at having learned the diary was destroyed was colossal and terrible to behold. Lucius Malfoy had not pictured what he considered this immense overreaction. And then, in front of the rest of his fellow Death Eaters, all his mistakes had been named and ridiculed. Lucius had allowed the prophecy to be smashed, landed himself in jail, smeared the name of pureblood wizards everywhere, and had let the diary fall into unwitting hands - the fact which had ultimately led to its destruction.

The Dark Lord had a fury comparable to no other. Lucius knew that well and true the moment he walked into Malfoy Manor after that horrible meeting. There was something different about the air, he could feel it - different from the almost warm effect Narcissa had on the house.

Dashing up the stairs with a panic unbefitting of a Malfoy, Lucius had reached the upstairs drawing room just in time to see the emerald sparks fly outside the window, the first sparks of a very familiar sign: the Dark Mark.

"Narcissa? Narcissa, answer me! Are you here?"

For a horrible minute he had hoped, almost wished that it would be his son he'd find dead, eyes open and unresponsive. But, of course, it was Narcissa whom he found this way, slumped over her vanity with a brush still halfway through her long blonde hair.

That had been two nights ago. His son had just been informed of the loss this very evening, having had been visiting a friend at the time of the murder. If his son had only been home, then perhaps, instead of Narcissa...Lucius's mouth thinned.

As he had always known, the Dark Lord had struck hard, fast, and unmistakably at the very core of his treasure, that which he had wored tirelessly to protect. What had conspired that night in the bedroom, next to Narcissa's dead body, Lucius would take to the grave. Malfoys were not allowed to let loose their emotion. That was not the regal pureblood way. But in the short few days Lucius had holed himself up in their bedroom, he had thought long and hard - giving this more thought than anything - for once letting emotion rule his decision and the choice of what would happen next.

Because of that, this night, Lucius had donned his finest cloak and jewels in preparation for that striking first impression. His fingers had trembled - surely not? - as he buttoned up his shirt, throwing his cloak about his shoulders. Apparating to the edge of the Hogwarts grounds took less than five seconds, and he strode up the walk, confident in stance but with a heavy heart.

Voldemort was pureblood ideaology. He was the hero, the ideal - the one who would finally right the decaying Wizarding world by restoring pureblood supremacy. He was all for killing the Muggles and for attaining world power and for the destruction of the light. Lucius Malfoy truly believed in this. He'd thrown his son to the Dark Lord, knowing that by doing so, his son would be taken down the right path.

But above ideal and submission, there are some things in the world that you just cannot alter. One of them being what Narcissa Black once meant to Lucius Malfoy, and another of them being what lengths Lucius Malfoy would go to in order to enact his revenge.

Lucius made his presence known outside the Headmaster's office. He knew Dumbledore would feel him, if he hadn't already.

The door opened. He stepped up the revolving staircase, slowly, slowly, forcing one foot in front of the other, and yet somehow feeling all his fears left behind on the ground as he ascended to the stars. Patiently he knocked, waiting to be allowed to enter the Headmaster's office and sit down.

He could see the old man's eyebrow rise. Both of them.

"...well now, Lucius Malfoy. I must say, this is certainly a...surprise."

"I did not come here for idle talk, Dumbledore." He paused, closing his eyes, willing all that private strength he could remember from Narcissa to himself, so that he would not bow out in this private moment of glory.

"You are of the light," Lucius said, raising his eyes to the endless sky. "And I...I have come to tell you of the Dark."

The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

The End