Chapter 24

The name Lucius frequently calls to mind the devil, dictators, and evil roman emperors. Perhaps then it would not be unusual that the name has become a signifier for evil. However, the true meaning of the name Lucius might surprise some. Like the names of most pureblood witches and wizards, the name derived from Latin. And it meant, most improbably, "Light".

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"My father." He repeated, blankly.

My father.

The problem was, the man had been in Azkaban for so long, and had been so disconnected from everything that was happening in the Wizarding World, that Draco was surprised to hear about him at all, in the midst of the War, in the midst of Neville Longbottom and Hermione and Hogwarts.

"What the hell does he want?" was his first response, one, that unfortunately, escaped from his big gap before he managed to swallow it in.

"How should I know, Malfoy? But he's looking for you and he won't leave, even when we sent a Bat Bogey at him."

Draco felt the urge to laugh. "You sent a bat bogey. After Lucius Malfoy. And did it hit him?"

The Slytherin looked miffed as she replied, "No."

He turned to look at Hermione. Normal girls would have probably looked at him with shining worried eyes at this point, not his Hermione though. She was staring straight ahead, probably thinking of how this development would affect their plans.

"We should meet him." She said, frowning as she did so. "He could give us some information about Voldemort."

He felt his jaw drop open. "You want to meet my father."

"Well, yes, of course," she replied matter-of-factly. "He might have been in jail for awhile, but he obviously managed to break out. And he's here for a reason."

His jaw dropped the rest of the way to his feet, "There is no bloody reason! He's here because he's got nowhere else to go to! And, that's all fine if he's just here for me, but when he finds out I'm with you, he's going to want to hurt you! He's going to…"

He stopped, slightly out of breath, suddenly realizing that he had been speaking very loudly and that the Slytherin girl, amongst others in the hallway, was staring at him.

Sighing exasperatedly, he pulled Hermione by the arm and marched her away from the onlookers. She had to run a bit to catch up with his great strides. Finally, he stopped at a somewhat private alcove and put his large hands on her arms, bending down to look into her eyes, "He hates you. I don't…I don't want to say this to you, but he…he sees you as a mudblood, Hermione. He doesn't…he doesn't have any respect for you whatsoever. At most you're just a tool for him to use. And if he finds out that his only son and heir is with you…is in love with you….he might just think you too pricey a tool to keep around."

She laughed, to his great surprise, "Well of course I know that Draco. Don't be silly."

He gaped. "I'm being silly."

Now it was her turn to put her arms around him, "Draco. You and I, we are no longer children. Our friends in Hogwarts are no longer children either. Everyone in this castle is our ally. I would say that your father is the brave one for coming here, alone and wandless."

"Or he could be deluded," Draco muttered derisively under his breath.

She laughed, "Well whatever he is, you don't have to worry about me Draco. I assure you that whatever his machinations, I can take care of myself."

Turning, she walked towards Greengrass. "Please Daphne, show Mr Malfoy into Hogwarts. I will meet him in the Library."

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"All I'm saying is, he'd better not have any designs on you." Draco muttered as he walked up the stairs toward the fourth floor where the library was. The sounds of the staircases as they swung from landing to landing boomed in his ears. "Hermione, the man may be old but he's as foxy as they come. You should be careful." They stopped then, standing at the precipice of one of the stairways, waiting for the next staircase to swing towards them so they could continue their climb up to the library.

Hermione laughed, and was most amused indeed at what he was saying; there had been a time when she would have sworn Ron would have cut off his right arm before ever hearing those words from his lips, "Draco, you talk about the man as if he's the most dangerous, untrustworthy person in all of England. And here I remember how you used to boast of him when we were in school. You were always, 'My father this' and 'My father that' and, oh, this is my favourite, 'You better watch out, or my father will get you!'"

Draco coloured as he belatedly remembered his past hero-worship of Lucius Malfoy.

It was strange though, thinking that way and speaking that way of his father. There had indeed been a time when he used to think the sun rose and set on his golden head. Lucius was everything to Draco, he loved him, admired him, wanted to be him. He had thought he was invincible. He was his Light.

Until of course, Lucius got thrown into Azkaban, and all that illusion fell away. And then his mother was murdered. And all the illusion about the greatness of their so-called "Lord Voldemort" and his "Grand Plans" fell away.

And all Draco was left with was a realization of how stupid he had been all these years.

When he thought about him at all, which was hardly these days, it was mostly along the lines of, "Why weren't you there you bloody bastard? You were her husband! You were supposed to have protected her!" And then, when he was feeling particularly pathetic, "You're my father. You were supposed to have protected me."

They pushed open the heavy wooden doors of the Library, and stepped in; and there was Lucius Malfoy, leaning against the table, arms folded, staring nonchalantly at the dusty tomes in the opposite bookshelf as if he had all the time in the world.

Four years in Azkaban hadn't changed Lucius Malfoy very much. His hair, while straggly and dirt encrusted, still shone golden and fell in thick long locks around his shoulder. He walked upright, with an arrogant gait. His eyes lit up upon seeing Draco, and it seemed as if he wanted to rush towards and embrace him. But then he saw Draco's hand on Hermione's elbow, and he frowned.

Before he could say anything however, Hermione gave a brisk smile, and motioned for Lucius to sit down at the table he was leaning against.

Lucius returned the smile with one as sarcastically ingratiating as Draco had ever seen him give, and proceeded to sit gingerly down onto the Library chair Hermione had gestured to him, as if there were some kind of germ on the chair he hadn't already gotten into contact with while at Azkaban. Hermione herself showed no reaction to how he behaved, and sat very calmly on the opposite side of the table. Draco followed her suit.

Lucius beamed silently to Draco once more, and then turned to Hermione and said, coldly, "Miss Granger, as you can see, my son and I are perfectly fine on our own. I must request that you leave the room."

Hermione however gave as good as she got. Smiling almost as ingratiatingly sweetly at Lucius (the latter was nevertheless still undeniably better at giving evil looks, he was of course, much older and moreover had more practice in front of the mirror) she sighed, and said almost regretfully, "Unfortunately Mr Malfoy, as you are an escaped Azkaban convict, I'm afraid I can't leave you alone with your son. After all, I am Commander of Hogwarts, it is my responsibility to ensure that you don't run away again while my back was turned."

If the woman weren't so pretty, Draco would swear she looked a whole lot like Umbridge at that moment.

Lucius stiffened, and said softly and dangerously with a slight sneer, "Young lady, I managed to escape Azkaban, a fortress with 500 guards and four solid walls all around in the middle of the sea; wandless I might add. What makes you think I can't get past you and the little…children you call your fighters?"

"Well, for one, you are speaking to the person who did destroy the Dementors…and, if there are any problems…" and her wand hand moved so quickly Draco didn't even have time to blink, "we do have your son as hostage."

Draco felt the cold tip of Hermione's wand push into the side of his stomach, and, for the second time that day, he felt his jaw drop to the floor.

"Necto Caecus!"

She smiled triumphantly, "And now, Mr Malfoy, you should know this spell. After all, it is quite a dark one I found in one of the books the Ministry had confiscated from you before the Mansion was taken over by Voldemort. The invisible handcuffs. If you try to take Draco more than a mile away from me, he will die. If say, you decide to run away again, perhaps then I will send Draco away from myself, and then, well…we wouldn't want that, do we?"

Lucius's face contorted with rage. "You…" he seethed, "How could you do that? I heard that my son was your own ally! Have you so-called 'heroes' no honour? I should have known you Mudbloods would betray us wizard-kind any chance you could get!"

"Now now, Mr Malfoy, enough with the foul name-calling. If you antagonize me I might just get angry enough and – " she snapped her fingers, and Lucius lunged toward her, barely managing to stop himself when he realized she was merely teasing him – for now.

"– and make a hasty decision without thinking it through," she completed, with a brittle smile on her face.

Checkmate.

Draco tried to keep the expression on his face as neutral as possible. He could barely keep himself from turning on Hermione and asking her what the hell she thought she was on about. He too recognized that spell. It was one the Malfoys of old used to use on their house elves, before the Ministry outlawed it. And she had cast it too, Malfoy could feel something invisible yet clingy settle over him the instant the spell was cast.

But…he trusted her after all, and so decided to keep calm and ask the questions later. Instead, he turned his eyes towards his father, and tried to use all the wiles he had ever been taught by the old man to try to fool him into thinking this was serious, and he should acquiesce for now.

Lucius locked eyes with him for a moment, and Draco was extremely guilty to see that Lucius was actually alarmed and worried at the turn of events. He gave a slight nod to Draco, as if they were the ones collaborating, and not the other way around.

Sitting back in his seat, he gave a grudging smile of respect, "I see the rumours were true. You are a formidable and despicable opponent Ms Granger." He smiled now, a different smile, one that Hermione found herself hard-pressed to define. It worried her for a while, but she brushed it off in the glow of the impending capture of the King.

Lucius continued, "I will try my best to help you however I can. Please remember, however, that I have not been a part of Voldemort's inner circle for some years. I may barely be able to give you the names of his spies in the Ministry, his most dangerous spells, and so on."

Hermione leaned forward eagerly, "That would be perfect, Lucius. Don't you worry, I'm sure we'd be able to find something you'd be able to tell us about. For now…let's start with the location Voldemort was last seen at, Malfoy Mansion."

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"I can't believe you did that Hermione! I'm your boyfriend!" Draco burst out, somewhat petulantly, after they had returned to the Slytherin Dungeons.

After Lucius' capitulation, they had spent the next hour discussing with him the secret passageways into Malfoy Mansion that were possibly unknown to Voldemort. Leaving Lucius under guard in one of the professors' old bedrooms, they had walked back to the dungeons, a journey during which, Draco had on a very stormy expression indeed.

She bit her lip and wrung her hands, "I know! I know! I'm so sorry Draco! It's just that, we really need his help! He knows all the secret passageways into Malfoy Mansion, ones that I'm sure, even Voldemort doesn't know about. If Voldemort is still there, or, if he decides to go back in the future…And I wanted to have something to ensure Lucius' cooperation!"

Draco raised his head skyward, letting out a soft sigh, "Well I know that, but you really scared me for a moment! At least tell me what you were planning to do!"

"Okay, okay, I will next time Draco. It's just that there wasn't enough time to tell you, it was just something I thought of in the heat that moment, and it seems that he did believe my bluff." And here Draco was not fooled at all; he noticed that while Hermione still tried to affect an apologetic gait, she was secretly beaming inside at having bluffed Lucius.

Seeing her so pleased with herself, Draco couldn't help but give an affectionate chuckle.

He reached out to hold her hand, "You know, you didn't really have to cast a spell to keep me with you. If you wanted me beside you always, you could've just told me. No need to go to such great lengths."

He pulled her against him and wound his arms around her, placing his chin on the top of her head, and continued jokingly, "Of course, I am honoured by your actions, I never knew you loved me so much. I mean, there were many girls who'd developed crushes on me during my school days, but none as obsessed as you are to place such a spell on my person, you must find me utterly delicious…"

And that was as far as he got before she shrieked and turned in his arms so she could smack him on his shoulder, but he'd held on to her hands too tightly for that, of course, and turned her around and kissed her on her apple red lips instead.

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Sorry this took so long guys, I hope it was alright. I had originally wanted to make this a longer chapter, but alas kept procrastinating on completing it. I figured it would be better to post a new chapter now then wait any longer.

Thanks to all who had read and reviewed previously! Your comments are very much appreciated! They are, after all, what fuel me to continue writing.