The dark haired man paced restlessly back and forth across the width of the small, book lined room, his pale face flushed with anxiety as he watched the clock desperately, his black robes swirling around him every time he spun at the end of a lap. Finally the clock chimed the quarter hour, indicating that it was eleven fifteen, and the man he urgently needed to talk to should be securely ensconced in his study now, with the doors locked against intrusion. He dropped to his knees in front of the fire, and threw in the floo powder that he had been clutching tightly for the last twenty minutes or so.
"Lord Malfoy's study, Malfoy Manor," he stated clearly, waiting impatiently for the floo call to be accepted.
"Severus, to what do I owe the…Sev, what's happened?" the cool, detached greeting faded and concern slid into the silver eyes as the aristocratic blond took in the demeanor of the other man in the fire.
"I think I've done something stupid…no, I know I've done something stupid, I need you Luc," he told him, voice tight with tension.
Mercury eyes studied the visibly flapped unflappable man, and the blond nodded once.
"Give me five minutes to put up the privacy wards so that she thinks I'm working on something confidential, and then I'll be through. I assume the password for the floo hasn't changed?"
"No, no it hasn't changed, see you soon Luc," Severus told him, before pulling back from the fire, rising to his feet, and resuming his pacing.
Precisely five minutes later, the blond stepped through gracefully, vanishing the soot from his robes with a negligent flick of his hand, feeling perfectly secure using wandless magic in front of Severus.
"All right, tell me what you've done that's got you in such a flap," Lucius told him calmly.
"It might be easier if I showed you," Severus sighed, scrubbing his hands through his hair, further disarraying it.
Lucius raised an eyebrow, but followed as Severus led him out of the small library and up the dark staircase to the upper floor. Severus pushed open the door to the spare room, the small bedroom that had once been his own, and preceded Lucius inside.
A small form lay curled up on the small single bed, breathing soft and slow in either unconsciousness or sleep.
"I took him Luc, I shouldn't have even been there, but I was, and I saw, and I took him," Severus whispered disjointedly.
"You abducted someone's child?" Lucius asked, stepping around to get a better look at the tiny boy's face, to see if he could identify a family line, and hissed in shock.
"You abducted Harry Potter?" he amended numbly.
"Strictly speaking, perhaps, but…he's mine damn it, and I don't care what the hell I promised Dumbledore, or Lily either for that matter, when I saw…I couldn't leave him there, Luc, I just couldn't," he told him miserably.
Lucius closed his eyes and blew out a long breath.
"All right, first things first. Yours, you're 100% sure?"
"Yes. The day Narcissa announced she was pregnant with Draco, I got very, very drunk, Lily was out drowning her sorrows after a blazing row with Potter and his horde…I'm guessing you don't need me to spell out the rest. She knew without doubt the baby was mine because she and Potter didn't sleep together until after the wedding. She told me the truth, but made me promise never to do anything that could break up her family, especially considering my rather unfortunate affiliation with the Dark Lord at the time."
Lucius pinched the bridge of his nose and processed that for a moment, carefully putting aside the fact his lover had slept with Lily bloody Evans of all people, that wasn't important right now, especially as it seemed it had happened in reaction to Sev's assumption – erroneous but understandable – that he had slept with Narcissa and impregnated her.
"How does Dumbledore fit in?"
"I went to him that night, after he had been to the Hollow, I told him that Harry was mine and I wanted him. He told me it wasn't safe, that there were too many out there still loyal to the Dark Lord, that he had already made Harry safe with Lily's family under the protection of blood magic. He made me promise not to endanger Harry by going there, but he never made me swear a full oath, I guess he thought I owed him too much for getting me out of Azkaban, for vouching for me and giving me a job."
"So what made you go there today?"
"It's his birthday, his fifth birthday, and I just wanted to see him, to see for myself that he was safe and happy."
Lucius' eyes narrowed assessingly at the small shape under the covers with that reminder of the child's age, judging that he was small, very small, for a five year old.
"I gather that you judged that he was neither safe, nor happy, and that is why you took him?"
In answer, Severus gently pulled back the blankets covering the boy, and Lucius couldn't bite down the low growl that broke free of his iron control. He could see the child's ribs through the holes in the tatty, outlandishly large clothing, he was covered in scrapes and bruises, including what was noticeably a handprint on the side of his face, and a fast darkening black eye.
"He was outside, from when I arrived at lunchtime, to when I finally couldn't swallow it anymore and took him, after dark. That woman, Lily's sister, had him pulling weeds in the garden while his fat blob of a cousin lazed around, demanding sweets, bullying Harry, and deliberately getting him in trouble for this and that non-existent infraction. She didn't take him inside for a meal at any point, she wouldn't let him in even when it was raining in the early evening, and the handprint is his reward for daring to drink a little water from the garden hose."
"It gets dark at past 10 at night at this time of year. You're saying she had a five year old child slaving out in the garden for what, nine, ten hours?"
"Yes, and aside from the bruises, I have other suspicions that this is not an unusual occurrence, several times over the course of the time I was there, Dumbledore's people passed through to look in on him, and they didn't bat an eye at what they saw, so it sure as hell wasn't a shock to them."
"Have you healed any of his injuries or fed him any potions?"
"No, I thought it best to see what you had to say first."
"Good, you need to get a healer or Medi-wizard here; the injuries will need to be documented before they can be healed, for evidence, should it come to that. You're also going to need a paternity potion, it won't hold up in court, being as you're his father, but it should be sufficient to grant you at least temporary custody and get an injunction to prevent anyone removing him from your care, assuming of course, she didn't use a blood adoption potion on the boy?"
"She said not, she spelled his hair to make it look like Potter's, and made sure he was outside plenty so he never got pale, but she needed to do very little really, the birds nest hair and everyone's assumptions was enough while he was small, and she intended to tell him, when he was older."
"Do you have anything in writing from her confirming that?"
"I have a few letters, from while she was pregnant, and one from just after he was born with a picture in."
"Get them together, the stronger the case I can pull together, the better. You call the healer, and find the letters, don't use the paternity potion until after the healer gets here, it will add weight if they verify the potion and witness the administration. I'm going to go and draw up the papers, and call in a few favors to get them signed tonight, I'll be back as soon as I can," Lucius told him.
"What about Dumbledore?"
"Screw him, I don't care if I have to remind every member of the Wizengamot what they owe you, and half of them what they owe me, I'll make sure Dumbledore can't touch you for this. He isn't likely to find out the boy is missing tonight, but just in case, delay him and owl me, and I'll come back, finished or not."
Severus' shoulders slumped as the weight was lifted off them, and Lucius reached out to cup the side of his face lightly thumb stroking over his cheek gently.
"You're not going to be alone through this," he promised him.
"And after this? Will I be alone then?" Severus asked in a low voice.
"You didn't walk away from me after Draco; I'm sure as hell not going to walk away from you after this. You don't get rid of me that easy," Lucius told him softly, brushing a brief kiss over his lips, then he was gone.
Severus quickly tucked the blankets back around the sleeping boy, and slipped quietly out of the room to do as Lucius had instructed, leaving the door ajar in case Harry woke up and was scared or upset.
Severus was dozing fitfully in the armchair beside the fire in the library when the floo roared to life, startling him awake. He snapped his eyes open, hand reaching for his wand even before he was fully awake, but the movement was arrested when he registered Lucius stepping out, less graceful now and looking thoroughly exhausted, tired enough to actually use his wand for the first time in Merlin knew how long, to banish the soot from his robes. He winced slightly as his eyes flicked to the clock, no wonder Lucius looked wiped out, it was twenty passed four in the morning, and knowing Lucius, he had now been awake for the better part of 24 hours straight.
"Are you ok?" he asked quietly.
Lucius waved a hand sloppily to indicate God only knew what, and flopped bonelessly into the other armchair, visibly fighting to keep his eyes open.
"Did you get everything?" he asked tiredly.
Severus pulled the file from the healer he had called out from the side of the seat where he was sitting.
"Full documentation of three years worth of injuries, and documentation that I hadn't drugged or spelled Harry to remove him from the house in Surry, he signed off on the paternity potion, and also signed off that the glass of milk, slice of toast and apple I gave him when I got him here hadn't been laced with any potions what so ever. He healed his injuries, and gave me a list for a potions regimen for him. I also found Lily's letters," he told him, holding up a slender bundle tied up in a black ribbon.
"Excellent, I got the interim custody papers, and the injunction, and they'll get a date for a full custody hearing as soon as they can, although the WCS are probably going to want to talk to Harry first," Lucius yawned, flipping a black leather folder onto the coffee table between them.
"Child Services? Why?"
"To make sure he has no objection to being here, to make sure he doesn't really want to go back to his relatives, but is too afraid to tell you, that kind of thing," Lucius said, smiling faintly at Severus' inelegant snort at the idea the child would be desperate to get back to his abusers.
"I also got you this," Lucius said, sounding more uncertain now as he held out a scroll tied with a green ribbon, and stamped with the seals of the Wizengamot and the Minister of Magic, when he started to unroll it.
"I know you didn't want me to throw my weight around on your behalf to get something like this, but you could trust Dumbledore then to keep you out of Azkaban, even if only in his own self interest. You're not going to have that assurance once he figures out we're going against him…." Lucius stated hesitantly.
Severus stared at the full pardon in shock for a long moment, stunned that Lucius had managed to get the requisite 80% of the Wizengamot and the Minister of Magic to ratify the document at stupid o'clock in the morning.
"You never cease to amaze me, Lucius," he said softly, allowing the scroll to roll up again, and putting it on top of the folders before getting up and walking around to the other chair.
"Thank you," he said, leaning down to kiss Lucius gently.
"Hmm, wasn't so tough, went to the Wizengamot first, they were in a late session, they would have signed over their titles to get out of there by the time I turned up, and Fudge owes me so many favors he was practically falling over himself to expunge a few of them," Lucius smirked faintly, his voice drifting and his eyes shutting slowly.
"Come on, you need to get at least a couple of hours sleep," Severus said, pulling the blond to his feet and wrapping his arms around him firmly when he almost toppled over.
"Sh'd go home, bitch'll be lookin' f'r me in the m'rning," Lucius slurred, almost unintelligible.
"Luc, you try to apparate or even floo right now, and you're going to kill yourself, I'm amazed you made it back here, you're so obviously exhausted. Tell the stupid bint you fell asleep in your office, I'll wake you up early enough to get home," he promised.
Lucius made no further attempts at to disagree, so Severus called it good and assisted (half carried) Lucius up the stairs and steered him into his bedroom. It took a little juggling to keep Lucius upright and strip him, but he had him under the covers in short order, and slipped back downstairs to lock the precious papers in the hidden safe before joining him. Within moments of climbing into the bed, Lucius was wrapped around him, drawn to his warmth, and they were both fast asleep.