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September 22, 1991 - Godric's Hollow
Once again, Lucius found himself traveling down that old and dark paved road leading to the humble cottage resting uphill. This time; however, the late morning sun cast its warm rays of light on his silvery feathers in sparkling flashes as he flew beneath the calming shade of abundant and passing trees.
This particular morning was quiet and soothing with its pleasant echo of chirping birds and buzzing bush-crickets. And if it wasn't for the pounding of the adamant headache screaming in his ears—he might have actually taken a moment to enjoy it.
But no, the insufferable thing had refused to leave him in peace, only growing stronger in its perfect crescendo of pain as the days went by. Potions were ineffective, alcohol was a waste—so what was he left with?
It had occurred to him two nights prior that he might have been approaching it the wrong way; instead of searching for ways to lessen the pain, why not find its cause to get rid of it permanently? He had called for his personal healer, but the balding wizard could find no offending abnormalities to write home about, in fact, he could find none at all, he thought haughtily.
So what could be the source of his unfit suffering? He had retraced his footfalls to when the vexation first arose, and consequently found nothing but darker than black hair and emerald eyes.
But of course, it had been the boy. His mind had been trying to tell him that he should not brush the brother of the detestable Boy-Who-Lived aside, but turn around and take another look. He was a curious individual by blood, as he suspected his Draco to be as well, and to not gratify that curiosity would be unnatural.
Thus, he was forced to satiate it.
And now, nearing that same hut-barely-a-house, he noticed a hunched over figure with its back facing him. Puzzled at the unmoving form sitting off to the side of the cottage, he swooped down onto the same yew tree from that night seemingly long ago and settled himself gracefully on a high branch. He watched warily from above for a bit, but the boy did not move an inch from his spot on the trimmed grass.
Several minutes passed by and still naught. Becoming irritated, he threw caution to the wind and nearly landed on the little twit but a last minute change of mind descended him onto the lawn next to the boy instead. He peered up cautiously from his place and watched as a smile spread across the young wizard's face, his eyes resting closed on his sunken cheeks.
"Pretty Man." he stated, not turning to look at the perplexed Animagus.
Lucius watched, fascinated, as the boy finally opened his eyes and brought a hand up, a blade of grass snapping from its earthy confines and following the invisible trail. As it did so, it became crystallized and with an opening gesture from its creator's hand, the crystal blade grew and unraveled into a sparkling rose.
Even in this state, the Malfoy Head could feel his beak drop open in sheer shock.
Levitation. Transfiguration. Intentional. Wandless.
Lucius found himself needing to resist the instinctive reaction to fly away from potential danger like before and instead, stared with fixed eyes as the small wizard plucked the shimmering flower from midair. His eyes followed the movement of pale hands and was caught off guard when the boy turned to him jovially, offering the newly formed crystal.
"For Pretty Man." he whispered with that same excited smile reminiscent of their last meeting, though it seemed more subdued and weak; the boy's eyes half-mast and trying their best to fight off the exhaustion.
Lucius's eyes narrowed, but took a few dubious steps closer anyway. He was rewarded with a happy sigh from the boy, who gently lowered the flower to the grass so as to allow easier access. The older wizard paused when the distinct perfume-like smell of roses wafted around him. Intrigued, he brought his beak closer to the crystal flower, completely being encircled by the rich scent that emanated from it.
'How delightful.' he thought, looking to the pleased boy from beneath his feathered lashes appraisingly.
It was during that calming moment the two shared in relaxing quietness that the Animagus realized his headache was no more. He felt gratified at the fact he had been right in his assumption that his thirst for knowledge was what was causing the problem in the first place. Deep down; however, the part of him that was purely primal, the part he himself refused to acknowledge, grunted in disagreement.
Suddenly feeling the boy tense, Lucius looked up from his thoughts, only to be shielded by the larger body of the small wizard, the crystal rose dissolving into the unimpressive blade of grass it was born as.
"P-Papa." the boy stuttered, obviously trying his best to look as inconspicuous as possible. Lucius would have snorted at his blatant attempts, but listened in on the interaction nonetheless.
James had his arms crossed, his mouth pulled tightly into a frown. "Boy—who were you talking to?"
The raven-haired child looked anywhere but his father before finally deciding his lap was the most interesting thing in the world. His very dainty fingers played with the ripped holes of his shorts, picking and pulling at the stray pieces of thread.
"Harry..." his father's voice was low and threatening.
Harry remained quiet, continuing his now nervous ministrations with the wreck of his bottoms.
The Malfoy Head jumped back with open wings when James angrily grabbed a hold of Harry's curls and pulled him to his feet. The boy let out a whimper, his trembling hands snaking up to grip onto the offending appendage. Harry tugged in hopes of freeing himself, but that only seemed to infuriate the older man more. He grabbed his son's face with his free hand and forced the boy to look at him, his finger's digging into the fragile jaws.
"Look at me when I talk to you, nasty little squib!" the man snarled viciously.
Silent tears of pain were streaming down pale, sunken cheeks, but Harry stood rooted, his mouth clamped tightly together.
It was then that Lucius realized Harry, as they had so 'eloquently' named him, was doing all this; taking the pain of being manhandled by his own father, his blood, for him. It was all that had kept the Animagus from simply flying away from the appalling display. It was what made him react so very unlike himself.
James released Harry and gave out a pained hiss when something sharp flew into his eye. Harry fell back with a 'thump' and watched in horror as his friend dug its claws into his Papa's closed lid. The thin spikes were much too small to do any real damage, but the young wizard was afraid of what might happen if his father got a hold of the tiny bird.
With one final tired and tortured look, Harry wished and wished as hard as he could for something that would distract his Papa long enough for the little canary to escape without harm. He bit his lip, concentrating, until he could feel himself rip the supple skin of his reddened mouth—his eyes not once blinking or leaving his father's angry form.
And there it was, that soft crackle of ignition and the subtle plumes of smoke coming from the bottom hem of James's slacks.
A relieved, drained breath gurgled from Harry's throat before he shook his head to throw off the waves of exhaustion. His half-lidded eyes took on an expression of determination, then changing into one of what he hoped looked like horror.
"P-Papa!" he squeaked, adding a notch of trembling worry to his voice.
When James and Lucius both looked down, they saw Harry's startling green eyes wide with terror, a shaking finger pointing below the elder Potter. James's eyebrows furrowed in confusion before he looked down and gave a start, cursing profusely. "What in Merlin's name—"
Harry relaxed tiredly and gave his new and only friend a soft smile, inclining his head ever so slightly.
The Animagus flew in place for a few moments in his hesitation to leave like the child was practically begging him to with those weary eyes of his. It aggravated him more than anything that he had gone out of his way in lending a very exceptional hand, only to have the pathetic illusion of a boy bail him out in the end.
Lucius never attempted anything but flying in his Animagus form, as well as the occasional spying, so it might have come out as awkward when he responded with a short trill that promised his return. Harry seemed to understand, because he returned his limited form of communication with a heavy sigh sounding suspiciously like relief.
A few weeks flashed by in that same rhythmic routine of Lucius visiting the boy, each time hungrier for the knowledge of what else Harry may be hiding...and how it could be of use to him.
He was beyond captivated by the raw power the young wizard of only eleven possessed. It was seductive in its pull, healing at its touch and ruthless in its intent. Had it not been for his tight control over the knocking beast within, he would have already succumbed to it; mindlessly and completely.
In those far few days in which he spent with the unassuming boy, he had discovered that any living being, including plants, who came close enough to the general vicinity of Harry would be subsequently healed almost instantaneously. The magic that emitted from him was a constant current, never seizing, but endlessly flowing outwards in the accompaniment of healing properties; unlike most wizards who simply illustrated a halo of magic around their bodies. Lucius supposed that had been what took place during his first visit, and while he hadn't paid much thought to it the first time—it certainly made more sense now, though he hated to admit that the miraculous healing hadn't been of his own doing. Lucius had never heard of such a thing as a presence that could cure, but then again, he had never heard of anyone like Harry.
Unfortunately, those healing benefits didn't seem to extend to Harry. The child still continued to deteriorate by the day. His body hunched further, his smiles became laced in somber and his eyes drooped to nearly closing. Judging by the sunken cheeks and sharp collar bones that peaked from beneath the threadbare, over-sized jumper—he suspected extended starvation was the cause.
If Lucius was to exact the plans that had been formulating in his mind in recent days, he needed the boy to be alive and glowing in health.
So, he acted like the good spy he was and watched for an opportune moment in which he could visit Harry undisturbed, without the wretched Potter around to pop in at any moment. That's when October 21st, an early first Quidditch game of the year, came with excellent timing. After hearing that Potter's little spawn made Seeker, he was sure the man would be racing out to watch his mongrel play.
Glaring from his now usual spot and according to him, 'his tree', he followed James's figure with mercury eyes when the wizard stumbled excitedly out the front door and quickly Disapparated with a resounding crack.
Triumphantly, the Animagus set out to find Harry. Today was the day he would present himself as Lucius Malfoy for the first time and gain the boy's trust fully—he needed Harry to depend on him absolutely and exclusively if he wanted his long-term plan to work.
It will work, of course. After all, he was the pitiful child's only light in this world of oh, so dreary darkness. He would feed and return the affection the boy was so desperately starved of. Would dress him and nourish him—make him into someone of high society, someone who others looked at in envy, in fear. Refined, poised, beautiful, and powerful. More power than the world had ever seen.
And then, he would be woven so deeply in the web of Harry's mind and soul, the child would not think twice about doing whatever Lucius asked. Together, they will rip the world to shreds.
Lucius continued his search for that familiar pumping of magic as he rounded the side of the house into a more shaded and vegetated area. He glided blissfully in the air, feeling the headache that would latch onto him whenever he left melt away completely.
He presumed that the wards surrounding the house only reached as far as the front porch, seeing as he was able to fly around without difficulty. He expected the same could be said for his true form.
The Animagus slid close to the grass, ready to transform, when he was suddenly thrown aside by an invisible force just as something long whizzed by him. He stopped and looked over to see a medium-sized snake slithering to a turn, ready to lunge at him. The bloody thing was trying to make him its lunch!
Lucius bristled in anger. How dare that putrid, overgrow worm! 'I'll show you; ruddy, little–'
He froze when a familiar, seductive hissing filled the air around him. Every other sound seemed to lower to a muteness, only the hypnotic song of serpentine whispers echoed throughout the atmosphere.
Lucius turned, believing unreasonably that he was going to be met with the translucent pallor of his Lord, only to have the bolt of shock strike him still. Emerald eyes were blazing a poison green glow as they glared viciously at the coiling snake in front of him. Lips moved and pursed while shoulders shook in fury. Magic heavy and dense, almost to the point of suffocating, cracked in thousands of whips around the tiny form of Harry, snapping into curved arrows ready to be let loose in a storm of magic.
He had never seen a more beautiful sight.