A/N: I hope you enjoy this story. I know it's an off-beat pairing, but it has been a lot of fun to write. I hope to update this story on a weekly basis. I think Mondays will be the days for updates. Let me know what you think about it. :)
Disclaimer: Harry Potter and all associated characters are the creations of the incredibly talented JK Rowling and I've just borrowed them for a time for a little bit of fun. No copyright infringement is intended and no profit is being made, sadly.
It was the final straw. He had murdered, stolen and gone to Azkaban for his Master, but this was the final straw. It shouldn't have been a total surprise—he knew how brutal his Master could be, but he had never believed the Dark Lord would stoop that low. The Dark Lord had sent Draco to certain death. When the boy had somehow survived, it had not stopped the Dark Lord from venting his wrath on Draco. While he didn't receive much information from the outside, his captors had taken great pleasure in showing him the pictures of his son's mutilated body. Had they not told him it was Draco, he never would have recognized the body.
Draco had failed at a mission that even the Dark Lord had not been able to carry out. This had been particularly hard on Narcissa. With Draco dead and no one to console her – Bellatrix had insisted that Draco had earned his punishment and spurned her sister for showing weakness – she had wasted away. Once again, his captors had been ecstatic about informing him of a death in his family.
When Lucius learned of the circumstances of the deaths of his family, he made his decision. If his Master would nearly destroy one of the oldest, most prominent pureblood families, this was not the man he wanted to follow. He had heard the claim the Dark Lord was a half-blood, but Lucius had not believed it. After losing his family, he began to re-examine all that he knew, and found much of it to be inaccurate.
Now, he sat in a waiting room. They had told him that someone was coming to talk with him. He knew whoever it was would not likely trust him. Why should anyone trust him? He was a convicted Death Eater, one that had already lied once about his past association with the Dark Lord in order to escape incarceration. Surely, they would believe this was more of the same. Even though the chance was slim that he would be permitted to help bring down the Dark Lord, he knew he had to make his offer of assistance.
He looked up when he heard the door open. Minerva McGonagall's stern face was glaring at him. He smiled pleasantly. "Professor McGonagall? What a surprise to see you. I had expected someone from the Ministry, not a Hogwarts professor."
She took the seat on the opposite side of the table from him. "I come as a representative of the Order of the Phoenix, not as a professor. The Ministry has expressed no interest in your services."
"And the Order has? Well, at least there is someone out there with some sense." He was not surprised the Ministry wanted nothing to do with him. They had already informed him that his previous protestations of innocence had embarrassed them, even though it had happened nearly twenty years ago.
She was not amused by his comments. "Mr. Malfoy, you claim you intend to provide information that will be useful in defeating You-Know-Who."
"Yes, I do. Though, I would like a few reassurances."
"You are in no position to bargain, Mr. Malfoy. There is very little reason to believe that you are sincere."
He leaned forward and spoke in a low, serious voice. "I assure you, I am quite serious. I was misled and confused by the lies spun by the Dark Lord. Ever since the murder of my son and death of my wife, I have recognized his words as the lies they are. I will do whatever I can to see that he does not achieve power. I can give you the names of thirty society Death Eaters. I can tell you where the giants are being kept. I can tell you what werewolves Fenrir Greyback has recruited and where their base of operations is. I will give you one piece of information to prove that I am trustworthy. All I want is to be out of this dismal prison. I will consent to house arrest. I am not asking for my freedom."
Minerva considered him in silence for several long seconds. She then conjured a map and spread it on the table. "Show me where the giants are. If your information is accurate, I will see what I can do about having you released to my custody."
He pointed to a remote section of Wales. "They are either here," he moved his finger to northern Scotland, "or here. As for my release, it would, of course, be best if it were kept quiet. If the Dark Lord or his followers were to learn of my release, they would surely change anything that I know."
"Don't worry about discretion. No one will know that you aren't here. If your information is correct, I'll be in touch."
He watched her leave. He knew it was unlikely the giants had moved. There just weren't many places you could hide giants. Smiling smugly, he knew she would be back.
A week passed, and Lucius once again found himself in the waiting room. He smiled confidently as Minerva entered the room. "Ah, Professor, how good to see you again. I trust you found my information accurate?"
She didn't look entirely pleased as she took her seat. "I did. The Ministry was able to capture most of the giants. A few escaped." She frowned as she looked at him. "I have arranged for your release."
"You have my deepest appreciation."
"As you can imagine, it is a conditional release. You will be confined to Order Headquarters."
"It will be based on your cooperation."
"As I have said, you have my complete cooperation."
"And naturally, you will not be permitted to have a wand. When it's over, members of the Order can testify on your behalf, if they choose. Your cooperation may convince the Ministry to pardon you."
"I am your servant," he said smoothly.
Once again, she gave him a disapproving frown. He seemed sincere, but you could never tell with someone like him. "Your release is being processed. You will be taken to the dock, and from there I will transport you to Headquarters. You will be expected to contribute to the upkeep of the house by cooking and cleaning."
"Excuse me?" he asked, not sure if he had heard her correctly. Malfoys did not do chores! Then Minerva gave him a meaningful look, and he realized he had to stay on everyone's good side. He was at their mercy. "Of course. I understand completely."
Since he did not know where they were going, he was forced to suffer through Side-Along Apparition, not his preferred method of travel. Even though it was dusk, he could tell that they were in a run-down section of London. He recognized the street from his youth. If memory served, the Black house was on this street, but he didn't see it.
Minerva turned to him and said, "The headquarters of the Order of the Phoenix can be found at Number Twelve Grimmauld Place, London."
He watched as the building squeezed into existence. "Ah, yes, the Fidelius Charm. Very wise decision."
She glared at him before leading him up to the house. Rather than risk him learning how to unlock the door, she knocked on the door. After a few seconds, the door opened. "Miss Granger, show Mr. Malfoy to his room."
"Yes, Professor," Hermione replied politely. She headed up the stairs, not waiting to see if he followed. They had all known Malfoy would be arriving and none of them were looking forward to it.
Having been stuck in prison for more than a year, Lucius couldn't help but admire the way her jeans hugged her backside. True, he was old enough to be her father, and she was Muggle-born, but that wouldn't stop him from admiring a beautiful, young woman, and that's exactly what she was. As he climbed up another set of stairs, he continued to think about her. She was quite intelligent, despite her heritage. If she was staying here, he would have to get to know her better. Draco had talked about her, and not always disdainfully. It seemed his son had had some respect for her. He wanted to know why.
She stopped outside a small attic room on the fifth floor. He immediately recognized it as servant's quarters. There was a small bed, desk and wardrobe. While Spartan, it was more than he had had at Azkaban.
"The washroom is at the end of the hall," she said as she pointed at a closed door. "Follow me and I'll show you the kitchen and laundry."
He raised his eyebrow at the mention of laundry. He had not expected that to be one of the chores. "Of course," he replied politely. Patience, he reminded himself. I must exhibit patience to earn my freedom.
As they walked down the stairs she said, "Do you even know how to cook?"
"I know many things that would surprise you, Miss Granger."
She glanced back at him and was surprised that he was not being smug. McGonagall had already warned them that Malfoy seemed to be acting overly cooperative and that she did not entirely trust him. Once in the basement, she pointed at the far side of the room. "The laundry is back there. If no one is around to do it magically, you will have to do it manually. Obviously, this is the kitchen. You can start on dinner."
He tried to maintain a pleasant demeanor. "Of course. Miss Granger, I was wondering if you could give me a hand this evening, just so that I can learn where everything is kept."
She looked at him suspiciously, but decided that it wouldn't hurt to help and that someone should keep an eye on him.
Lucius decided that biding his time and being polite was in his best interest. If they chose to think he was up to something, then that was their prerogative. After months of inactivity at Azkaban, he found it refreshing and relaxing to cook dinner. He noticed that the stores available were incredibly basic. If he was going to cook, he would require better supplies. "Would it be permitted for me to make a grocery list?" he asked.
"Why?" she asked cautiously.
"Despite what you may think about me, I am trying to be helpful. You may not believe it, but I have always had an interest in the culinary arts, despite growing up in a home with house-elves."
She tried to judge his sincerity. "Fine, make your list."
He bit his tongue, holding back a scathing remark. He knew that they all had their reasons to hate him. It would take time to earn their trust. "Thank you," he replied politely. This would not be the first time he had to been forced to flatter people for personal gain.
Lucius sat on his bed; the chair was incredibly uncomfortable. He considered the last two weeks. They had been a long and tense. The Order members didn't allow him at their meetings. Instead, they brought him down when they had questions and then sent him away. That was really the only contact he had with anyone. They ignored him most of the time. Of course, because they ignored him, it allowed him to overhear a lot of information. None of it was tactically interesting, but he was able to learn about interpersonal relationships.
On more than one occasion, he had heard Granger arguing with the youngest Weasley boy. He had learned that at one point, they had been a couple, but the stress of their search for a way to defeat the Dark Lord was taken its toll. This could work to his advantage. He knew that he had to attach himself to someone respectable, and while she was young, he was sure that her association with Potter would make her incredibly respectable.
It would take time to earn her trust, but he had nothing but time. Besides, he was truly happiest when he was scheming. Ingratiating himself to Granger would give him something to do with his time and he thought it would be quite the challenge.
Hermione was packing up for school. Thankfully, she, Ron, and Ginny had been able to convince Harry to return to Hogwarts. They all knew that Voldemort was interested in the founders of the school and thus the school itself. She had convinced him that there was ancient magic in the school and that if they could unlock it, it might be useful in defeating You-Know-Who. Besides, there was the possibility Dumbledore's portrait had woken up. He might have the knowledge that the headmaster had been trying to teach Harry last school year.
Picking up the last of her dirty laundry, she headed down to the basement. When she opened the door to the laundry room, she paused at the sight of a bare-chested Lucius bent over the laundry tub. She had not expected him to have such a well-defined physique. "I, er," she started, but found herself unable to complete the sentence.
He looked up and gave her a warm smile. Pointing at a basket, he replied, "The dirty laundry is over there."
"Right," she replied quietly. Even after putting her laundry in the basket she remained. The lamplight in the room was reflecting off the sheen of sweat on his chest. "I could, er." She pulled her wand out of her pocket. "Here, let me. I had planned on doing it anyway."
Obligingly, he backed away from the washtub as she cast the spell to magically do the laundry. "Thank you," he said sincerely. He picked up a towel and dried himself before slowly putting his shirt on. He was keenly aware that Hermione was watching him. Noticing that she was washing her school robes, he asked, "Have you decided to return to Hogwarts?"
"Yes, it's for the best. Education is very important." She found herself wishing that he would leave, but instead he started folding the already clean laundry.
"A good education is the foundation for a solid future. In addition, I think it is best that as many as possible remain at Hogwarts to protect the school."
"What do you know about You-Know-Who's plans for Hogwarts?"
Lucius chuckled softly. "Nothing, unfortunately. All I know is that he has an interest in the school and its connection to the founders. It was one of the many things he had us researching. Unfortunately, very little exists outside of Hogwarts. I think we all know that very old magic is resident there, magic that the Dark Lord hopes to tap."
"Yes, you would know all about that," she said snidely.
He sighed. "Yes. I regret that decision. At the time, I thought it was for the best. I'm not the same man I was then. I know that none of you believe that. I have tried to apologize to Miss Weasley, but naturally, she has been unwilling to listen to my apology," he said sadly. Out of the corner of his eye, he could see that Hermione's expression had softened. "I was wondering if you might answer a simple question for me?"
"Go ahead," she said warily.
He smiled warmly. "It's nothing of any real importance. I was just wondering if the information I have been giving has been useful? I am quite understandably restricted from your meetings, but I would like to know whether or not I am having a positive impact. I know that nothing I tell the Order can atone for my reprehensible behavior, that nothing can bring back my victims." He paused, giving time for his words to sink in. "For now, I am nothing more than your humble servant."
She considered him carefully for several seconds. Surprisingly, he seemed sincere. "It is making a difference." She was unwilling to give him any more information.
"That's good to know. If you will excuse me, I must deliver the laundry." He gently brushed against her as he exited the cramped room.
Hermione watched him leave. It seemed so… impossible. Lucius Malfoy was willingly doing chores. He had been nothing other than helpful and polite since his arrival. For the last two months, she had been waiting for him to do something deceitful, but he had not. Could he really have changed as he claimed?
With Hogwarts back in session, Lucius found he had a great deal of time to himself. At the beginning of his confinement, Remus Lupin had been a permanent resident at number twelve, Grimmauld Place. They had never interacted much, but at least there had been another person around. The idea of living under the same roof as a werewolf had been distasteful at first. Over time, he came to realize Lupin was not much different from a normal person. While Draco had never spoken highly of Lupin as a teacher, his son had grudgingly admitted the man was competent, unlike their other Defense professors.
Lately, he had not seen much of Lupin. When he told the Order where the werewolves were based, they did not seem to be surprised by the information. He could only assume that the Order was using Lupin to spy on the werewolves. That was what he would have done.
He sat in the drawing room, staring into the fire, lost in his thoughts. The members of the Order came from diverse backgrounds, yet they had come together for a common cause. He had learned they were a decent and honorable group. They were also a family. He found he was jealous of the closeness he saw. While he had always looked down upon the Weasleys, he now saw that he had been wrong. Arthur had been right in choosing family over riches. Of course, Lucius hoped to one day have both.
He looked up when he heard someone enter the room. It was his niece. "Tonks, is there anything I can help you with?"
She glared at him. "Nope." She sat the desk, intent on ignoring him. She refused to acknowledge him as a relative.
"There's something I think you should know."
"You can tell it at the next meeting," she replied shortly.
He rose from the chair and moved closer to the desk. "It's nothing to do with the Order. It's personal." He waited for her to look up at him. "It's about your mother. I know that Andromeda was disowned from the Black family. What you may not know is how much that hurt Narcissa. My dear wife loved her sister and regretted that she was not able to see her again."
Tonks snorted. "I doubt that."
Lucius pulled up a chair. "Please don't. Narcissa always admired and looked up to her older sister. She told me of many wonderful memories she had from their childhood. When she learned of your birth, she wanted to go to Andromeda, to congratulate her, but I would not let her. Now, I wish that I had let her go in secret. There are many things I wish I had done differently. I just thought you would like to pass on to your mother that Narcissa never stopped loving her."
"It's all a lie. You're just telling me what I want to hear so that I will trust you."
He shrugged his shoulders. "Believe what you will. When this is over, I will give you Narcissa's diaries and you can give them to your mother." He returned to his seat by the fire.
Over the course of the rest of the year, Lucius reached an uneasy truce with the adult members of the Order. From time to time, he was able to read a copy of the Daily Prophet and could see that the tide was turning against the Dark Lord. He wasn't sure how much his information was contributing, but he knew the giant threat had been largely removed because of his actions. He had made at least a small contribution.
As winter break approached, he put the finishing touches on the bedrooms. It had been decided that it would be safest for Potter to spend the Christmas holidays at Grimmauld Place. He paid special attention to the room Hermione and the Weasley girl would be occupying. If only he had a wand, he could have conjured some flowers. The room looked better than it had. It should after the hours he had spent scrubbing the grime off the wallpaper. He doubted anyone had suspected there were flowers on it. The room now looked very feminine.
Having finished preparations for the new arrivals, he retired to the parlor to read. He found that he was running out of books to read, as the Black library was not very large. Perhaps there was something he could do to change that? All he needed to do was to devise a way to convince them to let him return to his manor. He frowned, knowing that could prove extremely difficult.
In the middle of that afternoon, he heard the front door open. Moody and Tonks had gone with the elder Weasleys to escort the four children, no, they were hardly children anymore, young adults from King's Cross. True to form, Tonks knocked over the umbrella stand and set off Mrs. Black's portrait. He wondered (not for the first time) why they simply didn't remove the umbrella stand. Nobody had an umbrella.
As they tramped upstairs, he heard a conversation coming from the hallway.
"Dinner smells good. What is it, Mum?" asked Ron.
"It does smell good, but it's not my doing," replied Mrs. Weasley.
"What? You mean Malfoy cooked dinner?"
"Oh, come off it, Ron. He did a lot of the cooking this summer, but since you never pay attention to anything you wouldn't know that," Hermione chided.
As their voices faded, Lucius smiled. He was pleased that it seemed like the two of them were still at odds. And even better, she had defended him. His thoughts the last few months had been filled with plans to earn her trust. Of course, whatever he did, he couldn't make it seem as though it had been planned.
At first, he did his best to make his presence as unobtrusive as possible. The second day, he was doing laundry and had the door to the laundry room cracked. He heard Ginny and Hermione in the kitchen.
"Did you see that wallpaper?" Ginny asked.
"I know. The room looks so much better. I never imagined there were flowers under there. If I had, I would have cleaned it myself."
"Like Mum ever gave us the chance. We didn't have much time for our room with all the other cleaning we were doing."
"That's true..." replied Hermione.
"Why did he do it? I mean, who would expect someone like him to actually do chores. I'm sure he's never worked an honest day in his life."
"Who knows? Maybe he was bored. Well, at least he's done something productive." Hermione thought back to the year that Sirius had spent here. She knew that Harry had been close to his godfather, but Sirius hadn't done much with his time here. Of course, Sirius had been an unwilling prisoner. For Malfoy, this was much better than being at Azkaban.
"Yeah, who would have believed that he would actually be helpful?"
"It is a little surprising, isn't it? I guess he actually did care for his family. Did you hear what Tonks said about Narcissa?"
He continued to work quietly as the two girls devolved into gossip. Yes, the small things he had been doing were starting to pay off.
After dinner, Lucius was reading in his usual chair by the fire. The others had stayed in the kitchen, talking with each other. They had maintained polite conversation while he was there, but he could tell they were still not entirely comfortable with his presence.
He noticed a subtle change in the lighting of the room and glanced around. Hermione had picked up one of the lamps and was examining the bookshelves. "Might I be of some assistance?" he asked as he rose from his seat.
She jumped slightly. "Oh, I didn't see you there."
"I am here most evenings. I take pleasure in reading and I find my room rather confining. As I have had time to go through most of the books here, perhaps I can help you find what you are looking for," he offered.
"Well, it's nothing specific. I just thought I would see what sort of books on Dark Magic were here."
He reached over her shoulder, lightly brushing against her, and pulled a book of the shelf. "This is one of the better ones here. I have found that most of them are sub-par and even inaccurate. If you are interested in researching Dark Magic over the holidays, I have an offer for you." He could not believe his luck. She had provided him with the precise opportunity he needed.
She took the book from him and held it protectively against her chest. His brief touch had caused her pulse to race. "Oh?" she asked cautiously.
He moved back to a non-threatening distance. "As you can imagine, I have quite the collection at my manor. I offer that collection to you and the Order."
"Why haven't you offered this before?" she asked suspiciously.
"No one has expressed any interest in conducting research. I've noticed most of the others prefer action."
"Thank you for the offer. I'll pass it on."
"Oh, but, no, it's not possible, really…." He watched her raise her eyebrow inquisitively. "You see, I would have to accompany whoever goes and I would need my wand to pass through the gates. That is certainly out of the question."
She considered him for a few seconds. So far, he had been nothing other than helpful. "I don't see why that would be a problem, so long as you swore to give up your wand when you entered."
"I wouldn't dream of doing otherwise, madam."
"All right, then. I'll tell Professor McGonagall."
He pulled a few more books off the shelves. "These should provide a little light reading this evening." He returned to his chair, pleased that she had not outright discounted his idea. He knew of her love of books and learning and that his library would be irresistible to her.
After breakfast, Hermione held the other members of the Order back. "I've had an idea." She thought it would be best if it seemed like her idea and not something that Malfoy had offered. "We've been looking for information on the spells that led to You-Know-Who's current state. The Restricted Section at Hogwarts hasn't turned up much, and the books here aren't very helpful either. Malfoy was a Death Eater and we know he's been fascinated with the Dark Arts. Last night, I learned from him that he has quite a collection of books on Dark Magic. I think we should see if there's anything useful in his library."
"Sounds like a good idea," said Moody. "The more we can learn about the enemy, the better."
"Who's going to go?" asked Ron.
She began nervously, gaining confidence as she spoke. "Well, I thought I would. After all, I'm better at research than anyone else. Of course, I would welcome any help."
"I think you're the perfect choice," replied Ron. His disdain for books was well known.
"There is one thing, though. Malfoy would have to come along to let me in the manor."
"Makes sense. The Ministry's been trying to get in there since Narcissa died, to give the place a thorough search, but no one's been able to get in. To the best of my knowledge, no one's been in there since her funeral. I guess with Malfoy still alive, the gates won't let anyone else in," replied Moody. He thought for a few more seconds before adding, "He'll probably need his wand, too, though."
"That's what he said," Hermione replied.
"You're going with an armed Malfoy, alone, to his house?" asked Ron incredulously.
Hermione was exasperated. "Oh, grow up, Ron. You didn't seem interested in coming. Besides, we can charm his wand so he can't perform any offensive spells and he's agreed to give it up once inside. Anyway, I think he's proven himself to be quite trustworthy."
Molly chimed in her support. "He has been incredibly helpful. Not only with providing us information to use against the Death Eaters, but he's done a better job keeping this house up than…anyone else." Even though Harry wasn't there, she didn't want to say anything bad about Sirius. While they hadn't gotten along well, she had realized he had been through a lot.
"Molly's right," Moody added. "I've spent a lot more time with him than you have Ron, and I have to say I trust him as much as I ever will. I think Hermione will be fine with him if we charm his wand. I'll bring it over after lunch."
After lunch, Hermione found Lucius in one of the upstairs toilets, cleaning. She watched for a few moments in silence. His hair was tied back, but a few locks had come loose. A part of her wanted to brush them behind his ear. She banished that thought and focused on what was before her. Here was a formerly proud aristocrat, seemingly content to do mundane chores that most avoided. "Excuse me… Mr. Malfoy?"
He turned to face her and noticed her eyes had caught sight of the Dark Mark. He angled his body so that it wouldn't be visible. After quickly washing and drying his hands, he rolled his sleeves down. "How may I be of service, Miss Granger?"
Forcing herself to regain her composure, she announced, "We are going to your library this afternoon. I'll meet you in the drawing room when you are ready."
"I shall been down momentarily," he replied. Once she was gone, he smiled smugly. Phase one of his plan was complete, and with much less trouble than he had anticipated. Hopefully, the rest of it would progress as smoothly.