My daughters have begged me to not write any more fan-fiction. *sigh* They point out that there's no money in it, no future in it, and the dishes don't get done.
Anyway, this is the last chapter of this book. I hope you've enjoyed my story! Thanks be to God for the wonderful gifts of imagination and creation. Thanks again to J. K. Rowling for the Harry Potter universe, and allowing us free play with her characters, and for the creators and staff of fan-fiction sites for the opportunities to post our stories, and to you who read and review.
The Decisions of Lucius Malfoy
It took less than a second for Lucius to discover for himself that the account of the Dark Lord's return was ungrounded.
A few days later, he was sitting in his place on the board of Governors of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, listening to the reports that Headmaster Dumbledore and Madam Pomfrey gave on the death of Professor Quirrell and the related hospitalization of four students.
If anyone had been aware of the Dark Lord's return, it would have been Lucius, but his arm was as clear from any markings as it had been the day after the Potters' deaths. There had been no word, no whisper, nothing different after more than a decade. It was Dumbledore's word against Lucius's own experience.
Then what was that, that thing on the back of Quirrell's head? Some sort of parasite that the incompetent wizard had picked up on his travels, something a Muggle-born wizard would never recognize for what it was; a creature of Dark Magic. The man had probably been too embarrassed to get help for it, and now the man was dead. The boy Harry Potter was once again proclaimed a hero, Richard and other students had been harmed, and (according to the headmaster's report) the time-honoured artefact of the Stone was now destroyed. If Flamel and his wife hadn't wanted it any more, Lucius would have been happy to relieve them of it. Pity.
Pity, too, that the parasite had been destroyed. It might have been a new discovery, perhaps had some use as a potion ingredient. He would have to talk to Severus about it sometime; maybe he salvaged it and had it in a jar. Perhaps there were more where it came from.
Lucius shifted quietly in his seat to listen to the governor next to him ask the headmaster a totally pointless question.
Quirrell had been an incompetent teacher. Lucius had been annoyed when he'd seen the textbook that he had been using and when he reviewed Draco's papers. If it had been the Dark Lord living on top of his brain, Quirrell would have been a far better teacher. The educator in Lucius was furious: a whole school year wasted by this Muggle-born idiot.
Dumbledore droned on in his sorry excuse of an answer.
Lucius hoped that the next teacher would be able to make up for the lost educational opportunities. In the meantime, he would have Draco tutored during the summer. He knew that Severus would do all he could to make sure that each Slytherin would at least achieve "Acceptable", but it wouldn't do to have Draco have less than an "Outstanding" when the O.W.L.s arrived in four years time.
A question was asked of Madam Pomfrey.
Lucius listened to her answers impatiently as he prepared his own questions.
It was his turn.
"Madam Pomfrey, did Mr. Weasley or Miss Granger see Professor Quirrell that night? Either before or after they were in the hospital wing?" he asked in a bored drawl.
"And where was Professor Quirrell when they were in the hospital wing?"
"Miss Granger and Mr. Weasley came into the hospital wing before Professor Quirrell and Harry Potter were brought in by Headmaster Dumbledore and Professors McGonagall and Snape."
"How and when was Mr. Goodfellow discovered?"
"Mr. Goodfellow's friends had been waiting for him to return from detention, and they sent the Grey Lady to find him. The ghost went to the classroom where he usually had detention, but could not access the classroom."
"Usually? How many detentions did he have that year with Professor Quirrell?" Lucius interrupted coolly as he gave the headmaster a cold stare.
"Governor Malfoy, please allow Madam Pomfrey to complete her statement," the head governor ordered.
Lucius stood, bowed an apology and grimly sat back down.
The school's nurse looked nervous. "Professor Dumbledore had returned by that time. A house-elf reported being summoned to the classroom, but that he was unable to respond. Some of the Ravenclaws, known as Mungos, went to the room. They were attempting to force the door open when it fell open suddenly, and they found Rich-, Mr. Goodfellow, on the floor, apparently having a seizure. The internal Floo Network was not working. One of the advanced students conjured a stretcher to carry Mr. Goodfellow to the Hospital Wing, where he was treated as I have already described."
"When was he discovered relative to the other four being brought into the hospital wing?"
Madam Pomfrey faltered. "I…I believe it was half an hour later. Miss Granger was asleep by then, Mr. Weasley and Mr. Potter were stabilized and unconscious, and Professor Quirrell was already under a Stasis Charm.
"When Mr. Goodfellow was found in the room, was there anyone else in the room, any, ah, ghost or other presence?"
Madam Pomfrey looked puzzled. "None that was reported to me."
"Thank you for your report, Madam Pomfrey," he said, without conviction.
After Madam Pomfrey and Headmaster Dumbledore had left the meeting, the board members relaxed while they continued with the meeting.
Lucius mulled over the history of the Defence of Dark Arts teachers. Something had to change for the better. There had to be someway, some socially acceptable way to remove Dumbledore from the school. The story Draco and his friends told him had more sense than what the headmaster told the governors. After all, it was probably the old coot who had stirred up a relatively harmless resident monster, and who had arranged for the incompetent idiot and the celebrity student to take it on, instead of doing the job himself or leaving the thing alone.
If there was another monster in the school, and if someone else (other than Dumbledore's favorite student) got rid of it, perhaps then the board would demand the old wizard's resignation. A new Headmaster could only improve the quality of the school's education. Lucius thought that Professor Severus Snape would make an excellent headmaster, one who would take his recommendations seriously.
And Lucius knew where to find another monster.
"May I put forth a proposal, that the next Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher be someone with experience in dealing with the Dark Arts, as opposed to the relatively inexperienced teachers that the school has had in the past? Someone who has published research, who has had years of extensive in-the-field training?" Lucius asked. Someone who could control or kill a monster on his own, he added to himself.
"Hear! Hear!" another governor called out. "I've been thinking the same thing - too much book learning and nothing to show for it, just terrible scores on the O.W.L.s and the N.E.W.T.s. And I know just the chap. He's had years of dealing with Dark Creatures, and he's written a book for every case. He's got another book due out this summer. Gilderoy Lockhart would be an excellent teacher, a feather in the cap for Hogwarts! I'll put out the recommendation to Dumbledore myself."
After the meeting, Lucius sat in his study in his home. Outside the windows the summer rain drizzled. Inside, the house was quiet, as Narcissa and Draco were still at Diagon Alley, with the whiny house-elf, Dobby, to attend them. It would be hours before they returned.
As Lucius rested in his favourite easy chair, he mulled over the question of Lord Voldemort's return. The Dark Lord had instructed him to keep Richard safe. The boy had been with Professor Quirrell countless times, alone, and whatever it was on the back of the man's head made no attempt to contact the boy. He was sure that the Dark Lord would not have harmed Richard as this parasite had. The boy was mending physically, but his mental, emotional and magical states were still in serious condition. The Dark Lord would have wanted him whole, and he would have wanted him well - Lucius was certain of that much. It was another strike against the He Who Must Not Be Named Is Back Again theory.
He doubted very much that the Dark Lord would return. There was no reason to continue to wait for him. He would let his sister-in-law, Bellatrix Lestrange, have the job; it would give her something to do while she cooled her heels in prison.
Lucius returned to the question of Richard. The boy was listed on public record as a Merlin. Like the original Merlin, Richard was listed as a boy with no known father and a mother who could not - or would not - recall her impregnation. (Lucius suspected both women remembered more than either would admit.) The wizarding world was very careful about its genealogies and bloodlines and about the responsibilities a father had to his child or children; a son who had been abandoned by his father had an ancient (although now illegal) right to commit patricide. Furthermore, and unfortunately for Richard, fatherless boys were more likely to be possessed than other children.
He would not have Richard harmed again. He knew the boy was safe at St. Mungo's and at his summer job at the Murtlap farm, but he had not been and would not be at school, not while Dumbledore ruled the castle.
He knew what he had to do. He would use a book that the Dark Lord had given him years ago, a key that would unleash an unknown monster inside the school., one that would kill Mudbloods, just Mudbloods; Richard and Draco would both be safe. He decided to give it to someone whom no one would suspect, someone who wasn't a Slytherin; a student, maybe a girl, someone who wasn't rich, who would be likely to use an old, blank journal and be above suspicion. And if this particular student was a Mudblood, and harmed or killed by the monster, well, it would be a small loss in the wizarding world, but enough to get that Muggle-loving Headmaster removed from his office and end his influence in society.
Lucius allowed himself a few moments to gloat. A glance out the window showed that the wind had shifted as the rain pelted harder on the windows, and the clouds darkened. He gave a deep, relaxing sigh, before returning to his favourite train of thought.
Richard was still twelve years old, soon to be thirteen. In four more years he would be of age, and then there would be just ten months of schooling left to finish.
They would go look for the boy's father. Whether or not they actually found him was not in Lucius's plans, but in less than five years, the two of them would leave England and go to Europe, Asia, the Americas, Africa, and Australia - perhaps even take a Muggle ship to Antarctica - just the two of them, together. Or, it could become the ultimate field trip. He could include some of Richard's friends, one or two acquaintances from the Ministry of Magic, perhaps even Severus Snape. For the professor, the trip would be very educational. Because of Lucius' being a governor of Hogwarts, doors would open for them at schools and academies around the world. Surely even the esteemed Baum Institute of Magical Research and Development would allow them a tour! His influence at the Ministry and on the school board would increase.
And when - if! - the Dark Lord returned, then Lucius would have more resources to offer him.
Lucius was still smiling as he accepted a cup of tea from the house-elf, Janus. It was still raining outside as he surveyed the grounds from the window.
There was so much to do in the few years before the boy was out of school.
He could wait. He would wait.
"Yet you never tried to find me, Lucius." - Voldemort in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire