DearestJott, I apologise that you find my description tedious. I admit to being entirely verbose, I actually quite enjoy it. However, if you study the great Classics and writers, you shall find that their description is of the finest detail to add to both characterization and setting. In fact, Hugo indulges his description of the Paris Sewers in around 50 pages in his masterpiece, 'Les Misérables'. Bronte is fond of description of the tiniest detail, not to mention Wilde, Dickens or Orczy. Description is everything, no matter how laborious or mundane because it creates, in itself a characters' essence. I do not try to copy; just emulate the style of years ago because it is so much prettier.
Harry smiled gently at Ginny, taking her hand in his as they strolled down the quaint, cobbled lanes. The sun was setting over the little French town and he was deliriously happy, though mostly these days that was how he felt.
They meandered quietly, speaking about pleasantly inane things and their first year of married life. Harry was turning a corner, his wife's hand in his when he seen something quite startling, familiar yet strange and altogether put of place. He stopped for a moment and motioned his head toward Ginny. She looked confused and then she paled as she seen the curiosity.
From side profile, Lucius Malfoy was still of the same baring, though perhaps he was stooping somewhat. He still clutched the ebony cane that Harry had come accustomed to seeing him with as he faced onto the street, his back to a shop window bedecked in fine black robes. Ginny looked at Harry, startled as she motion towards the infamous Mr. Malfoy with a disgusted look.
They had disappeared just after the second war, the Malfoy heir, Draco, studying abroad and his parents disappearing to somewhere in the Wizarding world. His name rarely appeared in the Prophet now; his wife was rarely quoted or pictured in Witch Weekly.
Just as they approached him (for there was no other direction to go back to their hotel) Lucius Malfoy turned and faced them. After a moment of recognition his face was displayed the same queer interest and shock that was inside Harry at seeing the once strong and powerful - not to mention arrogant and dangerous - man.
His hair was in a neat queue and he still had that strong and overbearing presence, though it seemed somewhat forced. That once shining blond hair was somewhat duller and whiter, shorter and receding. His face was still impassively cold but it was lined and shadowed and in places, hollow.
"Mr. Malfoy," Harry nodded his head, gripping his wife's hand tighter for reassurance of some sort. He was not sure whether it was his own or hers.
Lucius Malfoy looked shocked for a moment, as if he was amazed that Harry had spoken to him but then he recomposed himself and his face became a mask of impenetrable arrogance again.
His tone did not match his arrogance, not as much as it should have, at least. His voice was gruff and deep and though still drawling, sounded tired and weak.
"It has been years," said Harry conversationally as if this man had never once tried to kill him, or indeed indirectly, Ginny. She tugged at his hand, trying to make an exit but Harry wanted to stay, for some oddly perverse reason. He wanted to see what Lucius Malfoy had to say, if anything. Harry was not stupid enough to think that Lucius Malfoy was not an intellectual man, however misguided.
"Are you well?" Harry pressed on and Malfoy looked decidedly uncomfortable, as he tugged the cravat around his neck and raised himself up to his fullest height, as if he were ready to Duel – always on the defensive, perhaps?
"I never thanked you," he said tightly and took a verge in the conversation, avoiding Harry's question.
Harry had lost track at such a quick turn in conversation and he stared vapidly at the older man.
"For telling my wife the truth, for your grace…" Malfoy inclined his head slightly.
It did not seem to Harry that Lucius Malfoy wanted to say this but rather as if he was compelled by some disturbing nobles oblige. His eloquent voice seemed to choke slightly as he tried to let the words fall from his aristocratic mouth; he more or less spat them out with a thin veneer of manners.
"I-," Harry was rather dumbfounded, he didn't want to make this man thank him, he didn't want to gloat, "Thank you."
Malfoy managed a tight smile and a curt nod, "We would have fared worse if we-"
"Lucius, Lucius darling?"
A light, sing –song voice came from behind Mr. Malfoy and he looked momentarily embarrassed by the affectation from his wife. A moment later, Narcissa Malfoy appeared beside her husband and put a long, elegant hand on his arm. She looked up and suddenly stiffened, her hand removed quickly, her face suddenly haughty. She had lost none of her looks, Harry decided and neither time nor wars' had withered her. She was still tall and slim and ethereally beautiful as she stared at him, her eyes displaying a tiny tinge of curiosity mingled with discomfort.
"How is Draco?" Harry questioned, oddly determined to see if Lucius Malfoy had changed at all or his wife, who he realized, he had never thanked.
"He is well," Narcissa Malfoy answered, adjusting her cloak stiffly, "He was married last month. He works in England."
"Yes, I know," Smiled Harry, "I had heard."
"He is doing well in the Family Business," Mr. Malfoy continued, "He runs it well, he lives in the Manor."
"Don't you live there any more?" Ginny, who had been quiet through out suddenly questioned, "Isn't that your ancestral home?"
"Yes, but France is better for my husbands health," Narcissa answered before she could stop herself, almost regretfully, as if admitting this to Harry Potter was sacrilege.
"I don't sleep, I haven't since my time in Azkaban" Malfoy said slowly, as if he was weighing his words in his mouth, "I can do better business here on the Continent too."
Harry suddenly realized as he looked into Lucius Malfoy's face that he could see age and pain in his eyes, that he seemed deprived of the simplest things. He had deserved Azkaban but maybe he had not deserved the following events of the war.
"Mrs. Malfoy," Harry said suddenly, full of pity for these two people, "Thank you for saving me that night."
Ginny shuddered slightly beside him and seemed to wriggle with discomfort at the thought of Harry acknowledging the help of a Malfoy. Though Harry didn't necessarily blame Ginny, in fact he completely agreed that she should not want to thank them but he felt pity for them and he wanted to try to make civil with them.
She sniffed slightly as if she were trying to control herself and Harry seen Lucius Malfoy placing a discreet and mastered, leather-gloved hand on the small of his wife's back as she spoke. A 'thank you' perhaps, a comforting gesture that Harry had realized in his first year of being married was very intimate, very loving.
"Thank you, Mr. Potter," she whispered, "But I needed to save my son, I would have done anything."
At that, Harry noticed Lucius Malfoy hung his head slightly to stare at his expensive shoes and Harry had the distinct feeling that failure hung about him, that his wife was trying to save him from feeling that despair.
He had never seen them like this, he supposed. He had seen them together a few times but he had never seen love in them. Then again he had never thought love could exist in a family like the Malfoy's until that night at Hogwarts. He could see them running through his mind vividly, screaming for their child and he suddenly realized that they were not so monsterous and cruel unless they despised you. They were perhaps so much more in love than anyone had realized – Harry suddenly wondered if his parents would have been like that.
"Well," Lucius Malfoy bowed slightly, inclining his head at Ginny who he hadn't dared look in the face, "I hope life treats you well."
Harry would like to have though this was genuine and he wanted to have faith that it was because he knew from the differences in Lucius Malfoy that he had not been treated well by life.
They left them then, after an awkward and unkind silence, because there was nothing more to say, Narcissa Malfoy returning to the shop with her husband and Ginny and Harry set off down the street.
"You feel sorry for him?" She questioned very wisely.
"For both," Harry answered, "I think he loves her as much as I love you." She smiled as he enveloped her in his arms.
"Does she return it?"
"I think so."
Harry secretly liked to hope that she really did and he had the smallest inclination that that was the case.
Lucius smiled gently at his wife as he sat the parchment in his lap and slipped of his glasses. He stared into the night, the balmy air, sprinkled stars on the velvety sky.
"Are you tired?" She questioned, lifting her tea cup to her mouth and sipping, her eyes still on him. He studied her face, lovely and pale and gentle. She was so beautiful, years had not withered her.
"I think so…" he smiled again, returning his gaze to her, stretching out his long legs, "Draco's letter was highly amusing."
He lifted the parchment to emphasize his point.
"Hmm," Narcissa laughed slightly, "Isn't it a beautiful night?"
"Yes, dear," he said softly, "It is simple and kind."
"But the little things, Lucius," she mocked gently, standing and crossing the moon lit porch to him, "They are so beautiful."
"Only with you," he answered deeply and for a moment his candour, so unusual, took her by surprise.
"Not on your own?"
"I could never be on my own."
"Even if you stopped loving me?"
"But that would never happen," he kissed her hand that was by her side softly.
"You do?" He took her hand again, and studied her wedding ring. She settled herself on the arm of the chair and laid her head on his shoulder.
"Yes" She answered incredulously, "After all these years, I think I have it confirmed…Have you no faith in me, my darling?"
"Oh, but all the faith in the world, all the faith…"
He kissed the side of her neck, biting gently on the soft skin.
"All the faith…"
Oh, I do hate when I finish stories. I hope you liked it though. To all my lovely reviewers, you are so kind. And you make writing worth while.