"Apres Moi Le Deluge"
Someone's always coming around here trailing some new kill
Says "I seen your picture on a hundred dollar bill"
And what's a game of chance to you, to him is one
of real skill
So glad to meet you,
Picking up the ticket shows there's money to be made
Go on and lose the gamble, that's the history of the trade
Did you add up all the cards left to play to zero
And sign up with evil,
Don't start me trying now.
Cause I'm all over it,
I could make you satisfied in everything you do
All your secret wishes could right now be coming true
And be forever with my broken arms
No one's gonna fool around with us
No one's gonna fool around with us
So glad to meet you,
--"Angeles" by Elliot Smith
The box is sitting in the floor of the front hallway, propped against the wall, next to the door, as if it, too, were anxious to leave. It's filled to the brim with various objects, gathered in the span of our four years together.
I sit calmly at one of my leather chairs, stirring my Firewhiskey absently, enjoying the musical tinkling of the ice against the side of my glass.
I was torn between distress and gladness when I first noticed she was taking certain things with her. Both because they express her desire to retain some remembrance of our life together, and because her taking them means I will not be able to preserve such mementos myself; I confess to being decidedly more sentimental than most people imagine.
I rise from my seat slowly, glass in hand, and saunter to the bedroom, where she is currently at work gathering the last of her things.
I am generally admired for the fluid elegance of my movements, but no one, not even her, knows that ever since I was a child I've moved deliberately, as if there were thousands of eyes pinned on me, permanently, and only I could see them. Perhaps such eyes exist, and they really watch me, unblinkingly. It would certainly explain the uptightness I've always felt, even in my own company, which translates into a sternness others interpret as strength of character. The world is a curious little thing, and life is more than just a bit ironic, I've learned.
Leaning with conscious grace against one of the elegant, if, perhaps, overstated, columns that adorn the entrance to our –my- room, I watch mutely as she packs the last of her bags, disdaining the help of our House Elf, even when moving the first two suitcases to the foyer.
This, I note dryly, certainly means she was not bluffing when she said she was not coming back.
"And what would I come back to?" she inquires calmly, her burgundy colored eyes meeting mine, just before turning back to zipping up the smallest of the bags.
Her striking, blood-red hair falls over her shoulder as she leans over the suitcase, and she brushes it away impatiently, flipping it over, only to have it fall back again.
"What, indeed?" I murmur, smiling coldly.
She looks back at me again, and her face, smooth and rosy with still fresh youth, remains completely expressionless as she looks at me, though I see the flash of something in her eyes.
I do not know, but I'm certain this frigid stoicism that shields her now she has picked up from me. I know, because it is the same I am displaying, the same I've been displaying, since the moment she announced she was leaving.
She has finished now, and I watch her flick her wand over the bag with that exquisite wrist movement I've had little opportunity to admire since the end of the war.
The bag levitates in the air gently, and we follow it to the foyer, where it comes to rest by the others, across from the box I noticed earlier.
I once again inspect its contents openly, my eyes falling on the hand-woven cushion I brought her back from my last trip to India,which still holds the scent of myrrh that pervaded the temple outside of which I bought it, now mixed with the scent of her.
The opera records she gave me last year are cramped in a corner of the box. She's taking those, as well, and I again wonder what right she presumes to have over them. Still, I have not commented, merely giving them a meaningful glance as I walked by the box earlier, to which she responded by blushing like a Weasley.
Still, she pretended not to notice my censure.
I'll let her take them. She thought she hated opera, before me.
Now her eyes fill with tears when she listens to Turandot. Will she ever be able to listen to it without thinking of me? If I am honest with myself, though I would never tell her so, I sincerely hope not.
I read somewhere, once, that the best way to become a part of someone is to teach them something.
If that is the case, she will never be able to forget me, to rip out the part of her that is me, despite her fervently whispered vow to do just that.
She looks around calmly now, but I can see the heat blazing in her cheeks, which bears testimony to the state of turmoil her emotions must be in. Still, she pretends to be calm, and her hands don't even tremble when she rings the bell that will summon Tabby.
This is it.
I set my drink on the coffee table, and fold my arms over my chest, watching her with an amused little smile that I should like to slap away from my face, if I were her.
I contrive to feel superior, dressed as I am in faded jeans, and a white oxford shirt rolled at the elbows, and hanging over my waistband, with my silvery blond hair hanging loosely over my shoulders.
I am barefoot, and for some reason this gives me, I am aware, the appearance of being at ease. You are leaving, and I will not so much as put on shoes to honor this occasion, I seem to be saying. I, Master of My Abode, Master of Myself.
I look at her condescendingly, as I would a child who had just announced that no one would make them take their bath.
Her three-inch spike heels cannot hope to make her my equal in height, nor can they, or the richness of her clothes in contrast to the simplicity of mine, give her any sort of edge over me, I let her know, smirking in a way she despises.
I know she finds it alienating, for the associations of her unhappy school years that it brings her. It reminds her of my son. It reminds her of who I am, and that she is different from me, in spite of her…evolution.
Who is she, now? She's not like her family, not anymore, and she's not like me, though she has tried to be. She's not like anyone. She floats in a limbo, and I wonder if she'll be able to ever find her place again, if she ever had one to begin with.
I wonder if she will amble about listlessly, like a ghost, like a memory.
Such a fascinating creature, she is. So fascinating and undeniable was the bond between us, since the moment I conspired to end her life with that tasteless piece of Tom Riddle trash; a diary, how quaint.
I knew her then, and she knew me.
And what will she do without me? What will she be without me?
We look at each other in silence now, and I wonder at the lack of moistness in her eyes.
I expected tears, or perhaps choked sobs, like yesterday.
There are none. She looks at me calmly, and then turns away.
"Please transport my things to The Burrow," she commands the House Elf, in the tone of one who has had such servants all her life. She has learned quickly, and well.
Tabby Disapparates instantly with a loud pop, taking the luggage, and the box, with him.
I look at her, and several things cross my mind.
"The Burrow". What an absurd name for an absurd place, in which, it's no surprise, I've never been welcome. Nor would I be caught dead setting foot there, if I had been.
But that's where she's going, and "her things" with her. The Weasleys shunned her while she was involved with me, but they are quick to welcome her back, their own little black sheep, their errant child, their prodigal daughter.
She is leaving.
She is really leaving.
Because I cannot love, she says, because I keep my emotions locked away inside of myself, in places she cannot hope to penetrate.
This is not true, and she knows it. The real reason for her leaving is infinitely less tragically romantic and lofty. The real reason is, indeed, more mundane.
She wants a ring, she wants a piece of paper, signed by the both of us, to state that she is mine, and I hers.
She wants children.
"I am already married," I told her coldly -when she first brought it up, after all these years together- though I've been divorced and estranged from my wife since before the end of the war.
But, in a way, it is true; the bonds of twenty years of marriage cannot be destroyed because a civil servant says they are, even though my former wife never drove me mad, like she does. And there are, I know, so many forms of madness.
But I digress.
I also added, with a slight sneer I know she detests, "Children? I have a child. I don't need more." This was said coldly as well, to make clear the subject was closed, and I was not willing to discuss it further.
I realize now this was an error in judgment, and I confess I never expected she would leave me, not over this.
She stayed when I went through the Wizengamot inquiries, when I was slandered by the press, and shunned by society. She stayed when I was declared fit to be part of said society once again, and the novelty of loving a scoundrel, and a rogue, wore off. She stayed when she found the piece of cheap lingerie, the first and only time I strayed.
But she's leaving now.
It will not be difficult for me to replace her, and I told her as much when she first announced her intention.
But where will she find someone like me?
I have taught her everything.
I have made her, I have revealed her to her herself.
I have given her the taste for the fine wines she so enjoys, the clothes she wears so well, with the casual elegance that, in spite of being the mere imitation of mine, she has by now made entirely her own. The taste for music, and literature. The awareness of the differences between supermarket quality olives, and the ones I have, imported from Spain.
Where, pray, would a girl such as the one she had been learn the pleasures of sailing over the Mediterranean in the sunset, of riding briskly on a purebred steed through autumn fields, as leaves fall, if it hadn't been for me.
She thought herself anorgasmic, until she met me. I taught her how to die the small death, and come back, peering at me from behind wild, unfocused eyes.
I realize I sound catty, and perhaps somewhat bitter, but it is true and she knows it as well as I do.
"Goodbye, Lucius," she says calmly, meeting my eyes, which I know are cold and pale as ice.
"Goodbye, Ginevra," I reply, smiling pleasantly.
The blush in her cheeks intensifies, and my heart beats loudly as she walks out, but she remains oblivious; the clicking of her heels against the marble floor is the only sound in the flat. My secret remains safe, thundering away in my chest.
She closes the door behind her, and I watch through the window as she walks outside of the anti-Apparation barrier. Her back is very straight, and the pale sun is making her hair sparkle, like new copper.
I hope she will turn to look at me, one last time; I want to see the fire of defiance in her eyes. "I can."
But she does not look back, nor did I expect her to.
She owes me so much, I wonder if a day will go by without her remembering me.
The thought that she might not be coming back flashes through my mind, and I realize it is more than likely.
I choose to wonder instead how long it will take before she comes crawling back to me.
And I wonder if I will be able to walk up to her calmly, as I see myself doing in my mind's eye, and spread my arms magnanimously for her, or if I will be, simply, too paralyzed by relief.
Note: "After me, the flood." Words of a king, and they seem fitting for a fic about Lucius Malfoy. This is a pairing I've always loved, but never tried writing before! I do so love writing Lucius, though. :)
Thanks to Error-in-G for her impromptu beta-reading work of sorts, as this was one of those impulsive posts.
Please review! ;)