Vonne: First father-son one shot, though it was originally posted on my other account, Va Vonne. Be warned, this is a dark fic. Mind for Implied torture, Mental Illness, and Abuse.


Malfoy Manor is Not Haunted
"The truth is in the dirt on the ground, not in your poison tongue or your acid tears. Let the truth howl in your ears."


I.

Bang bang bang

The Malfoy Manor is not haunted- Lucius Malfoy wants you to know that- and that's just the sound that it makes when the Others arrive at the doorstep.

They are here and he doesn't want them to be here because they can't be here and this is bad, really bad... they should go away now before something horrible happens, before he does something drastic. He waits for a moment before he gets up from his chair in the living room by the fireplace and strides across the grand hallway with his tea cup in hand, fingers curled around the wand that they'd let him keep, even after everything that had happened in the war with all the casualties; so much death. Then he pitches his back against the wallpaper and breathes out slowly, peeking carefully behind the long emerald colored curtains to find that he's right... its them, definitely them.

For a moment he considers his possibilities, considers pretending not to be home, but he's certain they've been keeping some sort of tab on him since the Battle a year ago, so then he decides against it before they lose their patience, banging on the door three more times... bang bang bang. He knows what they're here for, too, because they've been here for the same reason for months and he's had to keep up the lie for so long that he's got his story memorized, which is impressive because they believe him. Still, after everything, they believe him. So he goes to the door and he pulls it slightly open, icy eyes like glaciers as they scan the wreckage of the Ministry officials in front of him and this time, they've sent Potter.

Harry Potter, the one he hates... still hates... even after the War, he still hates him. Harry Potter, the one who started it all and, as everyone knows, the one who ended it all, too. He's seen the boy in the papers ever since he'd got a job in the Ministry as an Auror and he hates it when they decide to send him. But what he has learned to do is to keep himself collected and so he does in the way that he stands behind the door in a proper and poised sort of manner, like a board, or statue, or a rock. And when Potter, fucking Potter, looks past the shadows to say, "Good morning, Mr. Malfoy," in his most professional voice, he manages to give him a curt nod that slices the air like a knife and then its silent again for a few short moments, just like it always is.

But still, he doesn't understand why he's here because its Tuesday and the Ministry isn't supposed to stop by the Manor on Tuesdays. So he takes advantage of how quiet its become and he opens his mouth to tell the Boy-turned-Man-Who-Lived this in a voice that is straight and flat and emotionless. "It's Tuesday, Mr. Potter, your lot isn't supposed to come on Tuesdays."

Potter's brow furrows and he opens his mouth but when he speaks he doesn't sound like a man at all. "Err, well, yes, Lucius, but today is a bit different. The Ministry has uh... well, we've found some..." when Potter breathes in, the other Ministry men behind him exchange sullen looks. "Mr. Malfoy, may we come in? It's... its about Draco."

Draco. Draco. It's always about Draco. It's been about Draco since the very beginning, but Lucius is not worried about Draco because Lucius knows things that these men don't and that makes him superior in ways that they could never understand. So instead, Lucius takes in the men and Potter and the way they peer into his house as if they're searching for something, but they need a warrant for that, and Lucius knows it. "No, Potter, you may not come in."

When Potter breathes out, Lucius Malfoy still sees right through him. He knows the boy and he call tell when he is trying to be professional. What Lucius can sense is that Potter really does suspect something about him. However, Lucius is in the clear because what Potter is lacking is evidence. And until Potter has that then he has nothing. So, when Lucius denies him and his team entry into his house, something flinches about Harry Potter's stature and his green eyes glisten with a flash of frustration before he coolly regains himself and smoothes back his head of messy black hair with a swoosh of his palm. "Right. Okay then. So, when will you be available to discuss the whereabouts of your son?"

Lucius Malfoy stiffens. He's not mad, though, because he has them now and they can't do a thing about it. He doesn't say a word, only just stands there, but then one of the men at Potter's side gives a little twitch. He makes a disgusted face at Lucius and then turns to Dumbledore's favorite student, red and swollen in the face. "Let it go, Harry," he's saying, but every so often his eyes drift to Lucius in a revolting sort of manner that makes him look old and ugly. "It's not proactive to give someone like him the time of day, anyway."

Still, Lucius doesn't say a word because his only objective is to stay still and, really, he just needs them to leave. Certainly they've overstayed their welcome (which was, of course, absolutely nonexistent to begin with) for Lucius wants them gone... needs them gone because, like he'd said, something might happen if they don't make themselves gone. So he stands there and watches them watch him and he lets Harry run through the cliches of his career, all the while letting the door shut ever so slightly until they are just a little slit in the outside world... almost absolutely nothing to him. But then Harry is saying, "Mr. Malfoy, Draco has been missing for a year and, if you'd just talk to us, I think that we would actually stand a chance in locating him," and Lucius doesn't like this; no, not at all, because what does Harry fucking Potter know about anything anymore, anyways?

So then he throws it back in his face, not spitefully, but blankly, emotionlessly, head stuck forward without even the slightest twitch. He's staring at the glass mirror by the front door which leads his eyes down the hallway to the Cellar and Potter almost catches this slip of his focus before Lucius corrects himself and asks the Auror flatly, "What if Draco does not want to be found?"

Then there is silence for a long moment and Potter all but freezes, ignoring the agitation of his coworkers behind him who probably have not been paying enough attention to have heard his comment at all. But Lucius just watches back, happy to have unnerved the stupid boy, who stands gaping and numb and unsure as to what it is he's supposed to say to an odd fucking retort like that. And then minutes go by without another word being spoken before Lucius regains his grip on the door and pushes, threatening to shut it, before sinking back casually to say, "good afternoon, Mr. Potter." For then he actually does it- shuts the door in the boy's face- and he stands stilly in the darkness until he hears their retreating footsteps, his figure leering at the window to watch them as they walk the path away from the Manor and finally, upon reaching the iron gates, Disapparate.

Then they're gone, as they should have been all along, and Lucius turns back to the darkened house, a house filled with so many memories, and places down his cup of steaming hot tea. It's silent now, just the way he likes it, and he stares around the living room, content, before he draws himself further into it. Then his eyes avert to the hallway of the Cellar again and he knows that its not long now until the silence is broken, until the screams start to come.

When they do, they are broken and pitiful- a half-sob-half-whimper that rattles up through floorboards and echoes its way around the large and lovely Manor. Lucius does nothing, however, because these sounds are the sounds of the ghosts and he knows, of course, exactly how to deal with the them. And, besides, he just really does love the house. It's beautiful, just as it had always been, despite the past and the icky things that its walls have witnessed. Yet Lucius can deal with the ghosts, has always dealt with the ghosts, because how does one live in such a house without having to deal with just a couple ghosts? And sure, there are things that go bump in the night, things that slip out from the corner of the shadows, but he's all used to it now... all used to it because sometimes these things just come built in with the floor plan.

That isn't to say that the screams are the same because they're not; they're different, but Lucius, he knows that. Thus, he does not bring himself towards the location of the noise but instead sits back down in the chair he'd been seated at earlier, the one by the mantle and the warmth of the fire. Then he plucks up the parchment of the morning's paper and blocks out the screams because usually they don't go on for too long before they tire themselves out and bring the silence back in again. So he licks his thumb with his tongue and turns the corners of the pages in the paper carefully, eyes slowly passing over the headlines as he reads them slow. He lets his eyes linger over them for moments too long so that then, when he spots it, he can't say that the headline at the front is unexpected. There, in big, bold, and black letters, it reads: "DRACO MALFOY, ONE YEAR MISSING, NOW PRESUMED DEAD".

Lucius' eyes stare down at the photograph of his son, his Draco, blond and bloody and blinking confusedly at the cameras that flash around him. He's got a trail of blood trickling out from the corner of his parted mouth and he looks more like a child than Lucius has ever seen him in his entire life. And he knows exactly where the picture is from and the very moment that it had been taken because, why wouldn't he? He had been there, of course; and the evening was in the last couple hours after the Battle at Hogwarts and everyone had been scrambling for a picture of Potter and Draco... his poor Draco... he'd just been caught in the chaos, really. But this picture marks the last time that anyone in the Wizarding World had seen him and for a moment Lucius can only inquire; why would the Wizarding World want him back? They had never cared much for any of the Malfoys after the War so, really, why act like they cared at all?

Draco is not theirs, Draco is his. And the paper makes him mad because what do they know about any of that, anyways? They're all disillusioned, the whole lot of them; and so they pretend to know when they really don't, and only he, Lucius, knows... not them, and they never will, either. Seated in his chair, Lucius Malfoy steadies himself when he starts to shake and he sets down the paper with the picture of his son face up towards the ceiling because right now, he can't look at him. Not like this.

Though still, it is Draco they're looking for and that's something that Lucius has had to deal with but- here's the real kicker- he's just one large step ahead of their lot.

In his head he hums a classic rhyme with a smile that is as faint as a specter across his pale, pale face. He knows something they don't know.

And that's where to look.

II.

Lucius Malfoy has been around long enough to have heard the stories told in private and he even knows them well. Many people believe that his house is haunted.

Lucius Malfoy doesn't think that his lovely house is haunted. What he thinks is that sometimes there are things that people just don't see and they might see it, too, if only they'd look a bit closer. But Draco didn't think so when they'd first moved back into the Manor after the War ended; he thought that the house was dangerous like the rest of them. Just like the rest of them.

Still, his Draco had nightmares, and that explained a lot. Before he had been considered a missing person, he'd stumble into bed early and burry himself beneath the covers in the darkness and it would take him hours to go to sleep. He'd developed a nasty little dependency for Dreamless Sleep and so Lucius had to take it away from him because all that stuff, it just wasn't good for him in excess. So like an addiction, he'd had to sit them out, those dreams, enduring nights of memories like film reels that didn't end until he woke the whole damned house up with his screaming.

And Lucius had spied on him one night, too; like a child, he'd watched Draco check under his bed and in the closet for the "monsters". It was the same bedroom since the end of the War with the same decorations of Slytherin posters that lined the walls and Quidditch flags near photographs of his friends that were now either jailed, missing, or dead. Draco had told his mother how much he'd hated that room now but Luicus Malfoy didn't know what he was talking about; it was a nice room, with a nice view, in his nice house. Even despite the dreams, Draco should have realized that, but he didn't and because he didn't Lucius then started to worry.

So he explored his son's nightmares on occasion, observing unseen as Draco's cheek pressed into the pillows and his fists tightened in the sheets. The boy dreamt of werewolves and witches and falling old men that met their doom at the bottom of a tower to the sky. He dreamt of a voice that offered him help and a sky that fogged over with skeleton-shaped clouds and snakes that slithered from their very mouths. He dreamt of the color green, not green like Slytherin, but green like death; and when he bolted up from the mattress in a fucking cold sweat, he would cry and cry and Narcissa would come running.

Because Narcissa, his beautiful Narcissa, she just couldn't take it. Often times he'd awake in the morning to find that she was no longer in his bed next to him but instead watching Draco as he slept the dreams off, brows knotted in a furrowed concern as she busied herself with worry and so much of it, too. She said silly things to him at night as she brushed her hair and considered herself in the mirror whispering, "perhaps a change of scenery would be good for him, Lucius...", and when her eyes glazed over he knew she really meant it and Lucius, he couldn't have that. She started filling Draco's head up with such thoughts and soon he started to believe it, too, venturing out into the stretch of emerald that was the magnificent backyard and disappearing for hours and hours only to arrive home looking far worse than he'd had to begin with.

And just like the nightmares, Lucius had followed him at times when he wandered away from the Manor, too. Hidden, he'd gone after Draco passed the brush of trees under the starlit sky with his wand and a knapsack that Lucius wondered why he'd needed at all. Yet the small thing was filled to the top with necessities and when Draco finally reached the end of the wood that led to the rest of the world he stopped. Every time he stopped. Rather, he stood jaggedly at the view of blackness, watching the tiny specs of candlelight that glowed orange and yellow from the windows of the pubs and shoppes in the distance. He suppressed sobs before looking embarrassed and sinking to the ground with his palm pressed forbiddingly over his mouth and his blond hair a complete mess. And the whole while he sat, never seeing Lucius, but instead only managing to get just a bit closer each time to the rest of the world and it was all because of Narcissa.

So Lucius simply had to take matters into his own hands, and Draco didn't like it when he returned home one night to find that his mother had disappeared.

But Draco didn't know what had happened to her because how could he know? He was a child, after all, just a child. His child. His one and only child. And Lucius had to protect him from these sorts of things, had to shield him from the world that was cruel and that didn't understand. So when Draco asked about his mother, Lucius told him that she'd gone on a trip, just a little trip, and that she'd be back soon. But when she didn't, he suggested to his son that perhaps the outside world had got her. Perhaps leaving the Manor was never really a good idea after all.

And Draco never left the Manor much after that.

III.

He buried her in the garden beneath the roses in the night, all while Draco, his Draco, was sleeping upstairs.

She was beautiful, so he dressed her up in something beautiful and placed an amulet around her neck so that she remained beautiful, even in death. He'd struck the shovel into the earth and he'd scooped up the dirt, starting by covering up her lower body and making his way carefully up to her neck. Then he'd let her face stick out from the ground and he'd took in her features one last time, admiring her from afar as he had back in Hogwarts when he was a boy... just about Draco's age, too. He loved her back then, loves her still now, but he had to do what he did because she was trying to take his Draco away from him and he was his son.

Nonetheless, he buried her beneath the lawn of green in the yard, spelling the roses back over her grave so that she was covered up completely. With the dirt he hid her eyes and her mouth, her nose and her chin. Then he tainted her white-blonde hair with the stuff and when he was finished he'd stood back and admired his handiwork. She was submerged completely, nothing more than a dark brown mound in the yard by the pearl-colored flower buds. And then that was it. She was gone and he had done it, rooted to the Manor forever.

But even with Narcissa buried, Draco didn't get any better and this made no sense to Lucius, because he thought he'd got rid of the issue. However, Draco still suffered from his nightmares and, really, they had only gotten worse, so much so that Draco would bring up moving out over dinner and Lucius would have to listen to him talk about leaving and then the roof seemed to cave in and nothing was alright anymore. Still, Lucius loved his son so he sat it out, grip tightening on his fork as he sawed and cut into his supper, eyes flashing up to Draco, who didn't even touch his, but instead stared out the door with an expression that was miserable and tormented and curious. So curious.

And then Lucius knew that he'd acted too late; the disease that had claimed his beautiful wife was going to claim his son. It would spread, it would spread, it would spread. And soon Draco would be infected with things like false illusions, mind clouded by impure thoughts like leaving the Manor and his father, like living in a world that would hate, and despite, and loathe him. But Lucius couldn't let that happen, wouldn't let that happen... not to his son. He would stop it before it claimed him and he made a promise to himself that he would, too.

So, when he spotted Draco in the garden one night his entire world broke into tiny bits and pieces.

His son, his shivering son, was kneeling in the rose bed covered in dirt and he was shaking his head, red and wet underneath the moonlight, wind masked by the sobs that wracked his body and made him weak. And when Lucius broke through the marble balcony to get a better look, Draco's eyes shot up and he was no longer a child, but a demon, like the rest of them, eyes wide and fearful as he scrambled back and tumbled into the corpse of his mother, whose face was filled in with the cracks of rock and grime and gravel. Lucius remembers it clearly, even now, for it was the night that he knew for certain that he had lost his son, but back then he had stood and stared, waiting in the way that Draco's chest rose and fell, panting and hiccuping and coughing.

And then he was shouting, "What did you do to her? What did you do?" And Lucius held his wand out but he wasn't going to use it, not until he explained why. Still, he hated the way that Draco held forcefully on to his, arm trembling as he kept it out in front of his chest- and he had looked like he was going to kill him.

So he'd told him, explaining how infected she'd been, his mother... how she was only filling his head with unrealistic fantasies and that the world out there wouldn't protect him like he could because he was his father and he knew best. He knew how to keep everything together, to make the lot of them 'The Malfoys' again. But Narcissa... Narcissa was just standing in the way of all that. He had to understand that, just had to, but he didn't, because soon he was screaming again and his eyes were leaking like they did so constantly now and his voice was dry as if he'd never used it before.

Lucius insisted, "She's part of the house now, Draco, part of the Manor. She's not dead, son, not really. She lives and breathes in the walls and the windows and the floorboards and even the chandeliers!" With his hands he'd made gestures and he'd sunk down to the level of his Draco, cupping the cheek of his beautiful wife and sliding her hair back against her sagging skull. But Draco wasn't listening and instead he'd looked faint, flinching when Lucius averted his palm from Narcissa's face to his, asking, "Don't you understand? Don't you see? She's safe now, much safer now..."

And all he'd wanted to do was keep her safe.

But Draco had pushed Lucius' hands off of his face and he was absolutely hysterical. In the night he yelled things like, "You killed her! You killed her," and, "how could you kill her?" but Lucius didn't understand... because why didn't Draco understand? This wasn't supposed to happen. Not to his son, not to his Draco; Lucius had loved him so much. And this just wasn't supposed to happen.

He said, "Draco come inside, come with me inside," and he'd promised him that he would make it better, but Draco wasn't listening, not anymore. Instead, he was scampering up from the dirt, tripping spastically over his feet, and Lucius saw him stumble towards the brush where the trees parted at the end of the yard; and he knew. Lucius had been far too late. Draco had been infected.

Lucius didn't want to do it, but he raised his wand because he had to, because Draco was running away from him and Lucius couldn't lose him like he'd lost Narcissa, he just couldn't. The spell,"Stupefy!"shot from his mouth and he'd watched as the curse hit his son in the back and sent his wiry body falling into the earth, face-first into the dewy grass, out like a light in the instant. Just like that.

Then he slowly advanced towards his son's overturned body and faced him to the sky, smoothing his blond hair back away from his face and exposing his lifeless form to the stars in the night and the cruel world that they shined down on. He wrapped his arms around Draco's torso and held him tight as if he'd never let him go. Into his hair he whispered the promise that he would protect him and keep him safe, that he'd cure him from his disease and then he'd be whole again. When he'd finished he'd lifted Draco up from the ground and hauled him into his hands, prying his wand from his curled fingers and placing it in his own robes, for Draco wouldn't be needing silly things like wands anymore. Not until he was better.

And now when Lucius thinks about Draco, he thinks that the process of his cleansing will be a hard one and that's why the Wizarding World can't know. But that's also why the Cellar is the best place for Draco, not his Draco anymore, but the brainwashed Draco, the disillusioned Draco. Still soon he'll have his son back. So, he sits by the fireplace and considers the photograph of his boy, while the screaming from the ground cries out to him and Lucius has learned now to ignore them. He is going to fix him, and then everything is going to be alright again. He's going to fix him and then he's going to have his son back. He's going to fix him because he promised. Lucius isn't going to let the disease spread and he isn't going to lose his Draco to the rest of the world. And when he's finished then no one will think that the house is haunted.

So sure, he has to deal with the ghosts, and the sight of the Narcissa-shaped mound in the garden, and the screams that echo up from the Cellar below. But it's only temporary and Lucius is almost absolutely certain of that.

Then what he does now is wait and wait and wait and wait, and when the grandfather clock against the wall chimes fully in his ear Lucius knows that its time and then he doesn't have to wait anymore.

IV.

He visits the Cellar on a nightly basis and this time, when he does, he's surprised to still hear the wails and the sobs that sound out from the ground below.

He wonders why its possible before deciding that Draco has probably suffered a long night, but its all part of the Healing Process and so he tunes himself out to the racket and steps further into view. But Draco's sobs are cut off and he tries in vain to pull himself away from the man, though his hands are bound to the rusted Cellar bed; his ankles are, too, so he does not get himself far. Its taken a while, but Lucius no longer feels sorry for Draco because pain is just the infection leaving his body and, besides, this isn't his Draco anyway.

His Draco would have never wanted to leave in the first place. His Draco would have never accused his father; his Draco would have understood. And so, because he is certain, Lucius lets suffer the entity that has overtaken his son until the purge is complete. And this he tells the boy as he strokes a steady hand through his hair, hating the way that he flinches and tries to draw himself away from his palm. Yet still, he makes the effort and soon he's saying out loud that this is the only way, and he tells him this every time; "this, my son, is the only way."

"Your mother, she didn't have it in her," he tells Draco and the boy's face is so wet now that it looks like a faucet running or a faulty leak. His body shakes and he constantly looks for a way out of the Cellar but Lucius lets him look because he's already made certain that there's no way out. Only, he wishes that Draco would stop looking because he's only making the process harder on himself, so Lucius tries to calm him down with soothing words, but that still does not stop the daggers of the boy's sharp gray eyes from piercing him so mercilessly. So he says, "You have in it you, Draco, I can tell because you've always been a fighter, just like me, just like your father..."

And it must be that he says something that Draco doesn't agree with because when Lucius looks down at him, he is shaking his head and his blond hair is slashed all over his face saying, "No, no, no, no, no." Still, Lucius takes one glance down at the soiled mattress and its all he can do to contain himself as he tends to the gashes on Draco's ankles and adjusts the restraints that they're in with a quick flick of his wand. When he places the tip of his weapon down on Draco's exposed flesh he watches the shell of his son as he writhes, eyes fluttering back as he tenses, a strangled gag sounding out from his throat as he tosses his head back against the dirty old pillow and sends spit everywhere down his front. He breathes out spastically when the spell is released and then Draco's ankles look like they are barely even ankles anymore, just treads of raw flesh, red and white and wet.

He lets trail his fingers, running them up over Draco's shins and meeting his knees delicately. When he considers these things he ignores Draco entirely, staring down at the boy's thin legs before using his wand to trace over the sharp jets of the bones that rest there. He lifts his weapon and twiddles it in between his fingers, chewing his lower lip. Every so often he flicks his eyes into Draco's and then when he leans forward, he taps the tip against Draco's legs and there's a rather loud crack before Draco cries out, this time arching his back and gasping into the stale air like a fish out of water. Then his back hits the mattress as Lucius lets the spell drop and his eyes are squeezed shut but Lucius wants him to look so he taps him at the side of his face and says, "it's okay, Draco, it's okay."

Then Lucius moves over to his torso and he examines the scars beneath his shirt as he lifts the sweaty fabric of it all the way up and Draco's gotten so, so thin. His ribs stick out from every angle and Lucius thinks that it might be possible to play the xylophone on them. Nonetheless, he regards the flat surface of skin stretched over bone before eying Draco all over again and-

"Please, d-don't..." It's been months and Draco asks him every time not to. "P-Please, dad... please..."

It's funny because when Lucius looks down at the boy on the bed, he does look very much like his son. Granted, he's got the same gray eyes and the same pale complexion. His hair falls in the same overgrown and messy manner just below his earlobes, and when he talks, he does so in the same frightened voice that Lucius had remembered belonging to Draco. But Lucius knows well that this isn't true. He sees the boy on the Cellar bed for what he is- and what he is, is a lie.

Thus, Lucius Malfoy is not fooled by the simple trick of the eye. He's studied the subject far too closely to be tripped up by the begging pleas of the monster that has overtaken poor, innocent, unsuspecting Draco. His son. His one and only son. It angers him when this Draco cries and Lucius smoothes his hand across the top of Draco's head and whispers hushing sounds that do not work in order to calm him. He says, "pain is only the illness leaving your body, Draco," and Draco's breath hitches up a few good measures. "We're going to be happy again. Sooner or later, we're all going to be happy again."

Then he lowers his wand at the surface of Draco's exposed flesh and the tip of it lights up as he mutters the good old, "Crucio," under his breath, and Draco screams and screams and screams and screams. He watches, fascinated, at the many faces that Draco can make under the pressure. At first it looks as if Draco's trying not to cry, but he always cracks anyway, burying as much of his face as he can bring forward into the crook of his own shoulder, drooling all over his front and arching back away from the pressure. Lucius watches the sweat break out on his neck and roll down his chin. His eyes travel down to the faded Dark Mark on the boy's pale forearm; it almost breaks his concentration.

Yet, he's so enthused with the state of the pained boy that he doesn't even notice it when he slams his head against the wall, knocking the pillow to the stone ground nearby, until, eventually, his eyes flutter back and he looks as if he is on the verge of unconsciousness. And only then does Lucius release the spell, blinking into the darkness to the sound of the boy's exhaustedly panicked breaths.

He says, "Shhh, Draco, shhh." And he tells him its all over, that he's been good... so good; and he thinks that the treatment is working very well. Encouragingly, he lifts Draco's head up ever so slightly and rearranges the boy with a flick of his wand so that he, as his father, can wrap his arms around him and hug him tight to make promises of a better future for them all. And he likes the way that Draco's lifeless form falls defeatedly in his grip, his head lulling to one side as he shuts his weary eyes and allows his father to stroke the side of his cheek and thumb away his tears to tell him, "I'm so proud of you, Draco, I've never been more proud."

Draco's response is nothing more than an exhausted exhale and he seems to bury himself deeper within Lucius' warm embrace. He really is just so, so tired.

Nonetheless, Lucius takes the action for what it is and when he reaches up to stroke the boy's hair all over, he almost feels like he's holding his son again.

V.

When Lucius Malfoy dives into the confines of his son's mind, he never ends up liking what he sees.

Memories flash around like race horses and Lucius is beginning to think that Draco's completely lost it, in the broadest sense of the term. Nonetheless, Draco's most thought about memory consists of the night on the Astronomy Tower at Hogwarts and Lucius takes to revisiting the scene often; for he was certainly not there to witness it himself. And every time he discovers something new, though by now he has the night almost memorized. Yet, he continues to watch Draco push through the door of the tower, draw his wand out, and lock eyes with the old man at the top by the starry sky. His name is Albus Dumbledore and Lucius Malfoy has wanted him dead for as long as he can remember.

He thinks, in all seriousness, that this is the night that he first started loosing Draco. He hadn't noticed it then, but now he's quite certain of it; the way in which the old man in his half-moon spectacles talks to Draco is almost sickening. There's false promises in his speech and he delivers them soothingly enough to make the panicked child actually listen when he preaches to him. "Years ago, I knew a boy who made all the wrong choices. Please, let me help you..."

And Draco flinches before he shakily lowers his wand. He doesn't kill Dumbledore... Lucius Malfoy has witnessed the memory over and over and over again and he never kills Dumbledore. So it goes; so it always goes. Yet, when the scene fades, Lucius is left reeling and its all he can do to keep his balance. When he blinks back into the dingy Cellar again, he finds himself exceedingly glad that Albus Dumbledore is dead, despite being thrown off the face of the earth by Severus Snape, instead of his Draco. He hates the man, even in death, because look at what's become of his son. Look what's become of him... Lucius Malfoy. Once upon a time he had everything, you know.

Then the knocks on the front door come again and Lucius pulls himself up from the edge of his son's springy bed and mutters, "Shit, shit, shit," because he hadn't been expecting any visitors. He'd only been tending to Draco for an hour and the knock at the door comes, of course, rather unexpectedly. But Draco is sleeping, so ignorantly sleeping, and Lucius casts a Silencing Charm on him, for he knows that, sooner or later, he'll thrash and writhe and dream again. He checks the bindings on the boy's arms, legs, and neck just in case and then stumbles up the steps to the sound of the knocking just as he is about to run completely out of breath.

He makes his way swiftly across the front of the darkened house and peers out through the drawn curtains to see the figure of a man, a single man, just below the moonlight on the porch. So Lucius reaches into the pocket of his robes and pulls out his wand, whispering, "Lumos," so that the tip glows a light blue and the knob of the front door shines readily at him. Thus, the man glances back at the hallway to the Cellar and lets out a shaky breath when he pulls the door back open. However, what unnerves him is the identity of the figure in the night; when Lucius' eyes adjust to the outside darkness, his heart skips a beat to find that, once again, they've sent him Harry Potter.

"I don't want you here," Lucius tells Potter, whose arms are wrapped around himself and whose chest is covered, not in a Ministry uniform, but in a red knit sweater.

"I'm not here on business," Potter assures him, and his wand is not in his hand, but in his trouser pocket instead. "I just thought I could talk about Draco a bit. We could put together notes. Find out where he's at...". The end of Harry Potter's sentence trails off like a question and his emerald green eyes twinkle up at Lucius inquisitively, waiting for an answer.

Lucius, however, hates Harry Potter. He absolutely bloody fucking hates him. So he says, "I don't want to talk to you, Potter," and prepares to slam the thick door right in the boy's scarred face.

"Wait, please!" When Harry sticks his foot in the door Lucius almost slaps him. However, he snaps his head up just in time to see the desperation in Potter's eyes and he stands there and breathes for a moment, just to let it sink in. "If I can talk to you," Potter says, his voice a huff of panting air and Lucius wonders if he'd walked all the way to visit him. "Perhaps we can clear your name. You... you won't be a suspect anymore."

And this is something Lucius can consider. He doesn't need the Ministry Men knocking at his door and he certainly doesn't need Potter's bloody appearances in the middle of the night. Through the hanging mirror on the side of the frame, Lucius eyes the hallway to the Cellar, thinking that perhaps its not such a bad idea to let Potter in and manipulate him for all he's worth. A quick fantasy envelops Lucius' mind and, for a second, he envisions a world of peace, without suspicion, where he and his son can live like they had before the War... before the chaos. So he stands aside and lets Potter in through the door. Then for good measure, he comments on the irony. "Welcome back to the Manor," he beams with an outward gesture of his hand.

For a moment it seems that Harry is fascinated with the hallways. "It hasn't changed a bit," he says, and Lucius wonders how a boy with such an infamous temper has learned so well to keep his calm. "Is it awful?" he asks, though his tone is not malicious, but instead innocently curious, "Living here with all the memories?"

"Every house has its ghosts, Potter," Lucius instinctively spits and he wants to hex the boy just for staring down the corridors so knowingly.

But Potter simply says, "Right," and his mouth becomes a straight, stiff line, and he says nothing more about the subject. Nothing at all. Rather, he makes his way to the living room set up and sits timidly down at the edge of the couch, pushing his glasses up on the bridge of his nose and sniffing readily. And the boy's got a nice collection of notes with him, too. Stacks of them. He heaves them out from underneath his coat and he wastes no time in filing them out across the coffee table in front of him. He's got newspaper clippings and blond hair samples and scribbles of Draco's old potions essays. He's got fabric from a shock of tattered clothing that Draco had worn in the night of the Battle; its all bloody and crusted and preserved in a clear plastic bag with a label and the date, and Lucius can't help but think that the display is both professional and obsessive.

Potter then brings out the photographs, hundreds of them, all with the face of his son, his dear son, staring back up at him. He's got pictures that Lucius isn't even sure how he'd managed to find; photos of Draco at eight year old, photos of him at Christmas, of him smiling in the Hogwarts Yearbook, of him teary at the flash of cameras that had found him after the War. It makes Lucius' stomach churn. He hadn't honestly expected Harry Potter to have done his homework.

"When the War ended, your son stayed away from the media," Harry is saying and his voice is loud, booming, but he's not looking up from the photographs. Instead, his brows are wrinkled in an expression of heartfelt concern. "I know you don't like to think that Draco could have run away and I agree with you. He didn't want to be out and, assumedly, attacked."

Because he can't think of anything else to say to that, Lucius says the first true thing that comes to his head. "They would have killed him," he confirms and he stands instead of sits. His body blocks the view down the corridor to the Cellar. He doesn't want Harry looking down there. "Draco was a smart boy. He knew that."

"Right," Potter says again, but his tone is morose all over again and he pushes aside the photographs to stare at a certain shot in particular. "Anyway, last night I was looking through old photographs," Harry continued, as if the collection on the desk had not been proof enough. "I found this one to be particularly interesting." With a slide of his hand, Potter gently shoves the photograph towards Lucius Malfoy and studies him timidly in the firelight. But the photo is not one that Lucius had been expecting and the mere sight of him makes him weak in the knees. There, in his hands, Lucius holds a snapshot of Draco, the infected Draco, standing jaggedly at the end of the woods by his house. It's dark out, but the blond hair is unmistakable and the photo plays over and over again the scene of his boy sinking down into the earth, palm pressed over his mouth, before burying his head into his knees. "It just..." Potter says unknowingly, shaking his head, "it doesn't make any sense."

But Lucius just watches the picture roll back and forth before his eyes like some fucked up horror movie and he wonders how long the media has been tracking Draco's every move. He tries to peer into the photograph and see if they caught his own image within the darkness; he breathes out a sigh of relief to find that he is nowhere to be seen. "Where did you get this?" His throat is suddenly very, very dry.

"What?" Harry Potter blinks. He reaches for the photo but Lucus whisks it away, out of his grasp.

He's still staring at the picture when he repeats himself again, demanding, "Where did you get this?"

"I don't know," Harry starts, uneasy, "the Ministry-"

"THE MINISTRY?" If Harry had not expected an outburst from Lucius, then he had another thing coming to him because as the man grips the edges of the photograph he can almost physically feel his blood broil. "You've had your lot snooping... on my property?"

When Lucius glances away from the picture, he stares back down at the boy in the orange glow of light. Potter's emerald eyes are wide and nervous behind the glass of his spectacles and he lifts up his hands, waving them as if surrendering. The action almost makes Lucius feel superior. Almost, but not quite; and the fact absolutely infuriates him. His face reddens with the notion that the Ministry had been snapping photographs of him and his family while they tried to live out their personal life. He wants to tear the picture to shreds, wants to toss it in the fire. But Potter is speaking in hurried sentences and its almost as if he can't get out a single word correctly. "What? No! I mean... it's just... this is all really just standard procedure!"

The blond man's eyes sweep around his house. He wonders what else they've photographed. "I want you out of my home, Potter,"' spits the older man. But Potter is frantic and he scoops up the other pictures, his mouth working to explain the things that Lucius doesn't care to hear because oh God, what had they seen? So he finds the slender stick of his wand in his robes and the hoists it out in the air in front of him, his anger making sparks fly just out from the tip. Teeth clenched tightly, Lucius Malfoy demands, "Now."

And he almost laughs at the way Potter's eyes bulge out of his head. He scampers up his files with his wand and staggers to stand as they fly into their folders in the air before he collects them and shoves them back under his coat. He's sputtering for an explanation, but Lucius directs his wand to the door and, in the night, the big bulky thing flings open and shows him the world outside. "And don't come back without a search warrant, Potter," sneers the man, watching Potter stumble towards the door in a daze, as if he can't quite believe that he'd fucked up his chance so easily. "You might be keen on letting the Wizarding World exploit my family's life, but I certainly will not have it."

He watches the way in which Harry scoots himself out of the door and stops, just behind the frame, to stand stiffly with his hand at the back of his head. He's broken out in a cold sweat and Lucius can't help but think that this visit is going to end up just like the last one had. Nonetheless, Potter clears his throat and manages to sound cool when he delivers his most professional explanation out to him through the rest of the blackened house. "We're trying to work on that now, Mr. Malfoy," he says, "but I can assure you; there are people out there that don't believe your family is any sort of threat to the Wizarding World. Draco included."

But that makes Lucius laugh so he does; its a single a hardened chuckle that sounds so bitter that it might have well have been a scoff. "Let me ask you this, Potter," sneers the man as he makes his way to the front of the Manor. "What are you getting out of this, hm? Is this all some part of that sick little Hero Complex of yours? Why do you give a damn about my son?" And his voice just about breaks when he says it, a force caused by something dastardly and unseen, for it also creates tears in Lucius' eyes and makes his throat clench.

Yet Harry is back right up in Lucius' face and, for a moment, the elder man is proud of himself for breaking down that twisted little facade of his. And then, Potter is out and screaming back, "Because i want things to be right again!" and the moment he says it, he shrinks back away and almost drops his stupid fucking papers all over the place.

And that's rich. Potter- Harry fucking Potter- wants things to be 'right' again. Well so does Lucius, but he knows that their definitions of what was 'right' will differ greatly; so he pushes the tears from his eyes before Potter can see them and laughs. Once again, he laughs, right in the Boy-Who-Lived's fucked up face. Until soon he's saying, "Well, Mr. Potter, then it seems like we're on the same bleeding page now, aren't we? Except you're forgetting one thing. My son didn't want to leave this house. Your meddling lot put those thoughts in his head and made him sick! Absolutely nothing will be right until my son comes home."

Until he's my son again. He doesn't say that part, but instead figures its pretty much implied. Nonetheless, he reaches forward and holds on to the edge of the door to shut it, but something about Harry Potter flinches and, before Lucius knows it, the boy winces and his eyes dart towards one of the man's clingy digits. "What happened to your left hand?" Potter asks, and he doesn't seem to care that the question is rude, but asks it anyway, eyes narrowed and suspicious beneath the glass. "You're bleeding..."

And Lucis falters to look, finding, to his horror, that it's true. It's more than true; Lucius' left hand is absolutely covered in blood, but the rest of his body isn't and he is certain that the red fluid is Draco's, not his, and oh God, how come he hadn't noticed the blood before? It takes him a moment to register it all, though he snatches his hand away, reddening, to shove it back into the shadowy confines of the Manor. Then Lucius spits back nervously, "Don't come back."

To which Potter responds just as heated, "I'll have that warrant next time."

And this time he Dissapparates before Lucius Malfoy can say anything else.

VI.

Sometimes when Lucius Malfoy dreams, he dreams that all of this never happened.

He dreams that he is living with Narcissa again and that Draco is sitting with his head in her lap. She strokes his blond head while he, Lucius, sits in his lounge chair with his legs crossed at the ankle and he and his beautiful wife exchange looks because they know that one day, Draco Malfoy will grow up into a successful man, just like them. Other times, Draco is not seventeen in his dreams, but instead just a small boy, and when he falls asleep Narcissa takes him up to his bedroom where a tiny golden snitch buzzes around the place and they know; one day, Draco is going to be an excellent Quidditch player.

Lucius' favorite dreams are the ones in which he doesn't have to keep Draco locked down in the Cellar. Sometimes he fantasizes that he and Draco are rebuilding the Manor and that their Dark Marks are gone completely. But it's that dream that haunts Lucius the most and, the first time he'd had it, he had done something drastic. And every time Lucius glances down at the inner flesh of his left forearm, he's reminded of the dream and the night he'd woken up from it, drenched in a cold sweat. It was the night he'd gone down to the kitchen and Draco had been screaming so loud that he had to duck down underneath the cabinets with his palms over his ears in order not to hear him.

Then he'd retrieved the knife from the wooden slots on the counter and poked it down just there, right on the edges, to cut away the Dark Mark once and for all. And it had hurt, but not as bad as he'd anticipated, because when he'd finished it hadn't nearly looked as ugly as the black Mark that had rest there. He'd even felt an odd sense of refreshment, too, once he had found himself rid of it, and he wondered what the scar might look like, when it were to heal. Thus, even Draco's screams from the floor below were even made bearable, for Lucius had woken up on the tile on the kitchen in the morning, and Draco was silent and it looked like everything was going to be alright again.

But what Lucius hadn't anticipated was for the spot to start hurting again. It had to be in his mind, though, because the Dark Lord was gone; but something was nagging nagging nagging at him and he thought that perhaps Draco needed for his Dark Mark to be removed too. And he'd done it as a last resort, really, entering the Cellar with the knife and his wand and a saddened look in his eye as if he really didn't want to do it. Nonetheless, he'd entered the darkened room and leaned forward with his body, kneeling down low at the edge of the mattress that he'd given his son to tap him awake. His fingers rapped without rhythm on his sullen cheek.

And he'd pressed a hand over his son's mouth and told him that it wouldn't hurt before showing him that gash on his own arm to prove it. He pushed back the hair from Draco's eyes and planted kisses on his forehead and told him he loved him; what he was doing was just going to make the pain go away, he promised. He slipped a bundle of cloth in Draco's mouth and told him that it would keep him from biting his tongue. Then he lifted the arm along with the bindings and drew his thumb across it in the night. He said, "It'll all be over soon, Draco," and forced the tip of the blade deeper into Draco's pale skin.

He'd carved lightly enough not to puncture any veins; and that had been the most impressive aspect of it all, for when he'd finished, they both had matching gashes where their ugly black Dark Marks had once been. He'd spelled the blood dry with his wand and watched a new scab form; big and possessive, it was definitely going to scar. But the pink lines were to be nothing compared to the Mark and, for that, Lucius was happy. So he'd pulled the cloth out from Draco's mouth and wrapped it around the wound in a tightly wound manner that made the boy's skin blue. He spelled water in the cup he'd brought and helped Draco drink from it, running a wet towel through his hair and brushing the side of his face tenderly. He scooped the drool from his mouth and told him in a voice that was gentle, "you've done so well." He told him, "I'm so, so proud."

It's these gentle moments with his son that Lucius Malfoy misses the most, so he takes advantage of him in his subconsciously weakened state, wrapping his arms around him in a strange form of an embrace before breathing tiredly into his messy blond scalp. And he does it, often, too, just when he's certain that poor Draco isn't going to last much longer within the throws of his consciousness. Thus, its these times when Lucius adjusts the bindings and helps Draco to rest his head in his lap. He acts like Narcissa in his motions, gently stroking him and sometimes- if Lucius is lucky- Draco tells him about his nightmares, too.

And Lucius Malfoy is a good father- a great one, even- so he listens to the slurred recollections of Draco's dreams.

Draco dreams that he's still living in the Cellar and that the Death Eaters are alive and all around him. He tells Lucius this in a voice that's nothing more than a sleepy whisper and he's almost on the verge of knocking himself out, but he pushes through the haziness to finish his sentences. However, he doesn't bother to strain against the bonds and instead lies slack in his father's grip, face buried into the soft spot just above Lucius' knee, to sometimes lean into the soft strokes deliriously. Rather, he tells the man cradling him that the Death Eaters- they're hiding in the shadows.

When he dreams, he says, they crawl out from their hiding spots in the darkness and whisper things into his ear, promising him death like lovers in the night. When he says this his voice gets all mumbled and shaky and he hitches with the onset of newfound desperation, insisting, "I c-can't stay here, dad, p-please... I can't." And then finally he finishes with the sentence that betrays Lucius most of all. "Please..." he says so pitifully that his voice cracks with hiccuped fragments, "please let me go. I just want to be let go."

But Lucius is adamant, for he pulls himself out from underneath his son's lulling head and tightens the bonds at the boy's wrists to prove a point. The hallucinations, he tells him, are all part of the Healing Process; and he slips him a Sleeping Drought as he says so, watching Draco as he shuts his eyes before leaning into the vile defeatedly as he presents it to his lips. He watches the faint lines of concentration fade from his face, softening, softening, softening, until he looks almost childlike and blameless, his bruised and battered face nothing more than a blank slate in the way that he finally succumbs to the blackness.

And when he stands he does so slowly, drinking in the image of the boy's visage to wait until the nightmares come; he wants to witness them on his own. They come, eventually... always come... and soon Draco's face is no longer peaceful but tormented. Tortured moans drip out from his mouth and he writhes on the dirty mattress in the Cellar, sometimes so much so that the concealed wound left over from the mangled flesh where the Dark Mark used to be pools over all over again, but these are the times when Lucius doesn't bother to help patch him back up.

So he leaves him to spit out the demons on his own.

VII.

Lucius Malfoy has forgiven his son for his sins, of course- he'd like that to be on the record, too.

Only, now he just needs to make Draco better and that's where the Healing Process comes in. He just had never expected it to take so long. While he waits, he counts the collection of his son's misdeeds on a sheet of paper, making tally marks that could darken the page for there are just so many disappointments. He forgives the boy for his having always been weak, forgives him for his ignorance, and even forgives him for his rejection. It's only the disease talking anyway, of course.

And besides, his Draco would never have really wanted to leave his father. Lucius has decided it over a cup of tea sipped by the fireplace after he puts the boy to sleep and makes sure he'd be left unconscious for several more hours. His Draco would have realized that Lucis had done so much for him- too much- to want to leave. And really, Lucius asks himself as he crosses and recrosses his legs, there's no reason to want to leave anyway because he, Draco, has got everything that he could possibly ever need right here, right at the Manor. Lucius has given him all the money in the world. He's given him a breathtakingly gorgeous home to inherit. And, most importantly, he's given him hopes for the Cure.

Sure, now Draco thinks that Lucius' methods are a bit bent out of shape, but that's because he doesn't know. That's because he hasn't seen. That's because he's been tainted and Lucius is really just trying to save him from all of that. And Draco should be grateful, if anything, but that's what Lucius doesn't understand the most. When he looks down into Draco's watery eyes, he knows that the boy truly just doesn't get it. And Draco should appreciate all his hard work, but he doesn't because oh God, if he does, he certainly does not bother to show it. But those are the days that Lucius Malfoy doesn't go down into the Cellar at all. He's just that angry with him.

It's those days that he hates him the most- absolutely hates him- and he'd rather die than house the entity that has taken over the body of his son to make him so bloody ungrateful. It's days like the one today, where Lucius tunes out the sound of the boy's screams and instead shuts his eyes and warms himself by the fire. He ignores the seeping way in which the screams slip out from the floor below and echo around the room to run down his back and slide down his spine. In his irritation, he doesn't bring the boy any food for days. He doesn't bring him anything to drink, either. He lets him lie on the mattress without cleaning the sheets. He leaves him like this for all that time and, all the while, Lucius Malfoy can't help but think that, really, the boy has only brought this all on himself.

And so he overlooks the sound of the voice that sounds so much like Draco and so different from him at the same time. He blocks out the cries and instead plays the grand piano in the living room just to drown him out and, when he's finished, retires early to his bedroom and plunges himself under the covers to stare into the moonlight. Then he turns over on his side to stare at the empty space next to him, leveling his eyes back out the window to the rose garden in the yard, and whispers goodnight to his wife, his beautiful wife, for she's fallen asleep before him. Just like always.

Over the sobbing below, Lucius Malfoy- like a good man- says his prayers.

He thanks the Lord for his fortunes and even his misfortunes, hoping to make them better and praying for the time and patience that they might possibly require. He prays for Narcissa, for she had always been a vain little thing, and does two Hail Marys just to be safe, for he does not want her sin to send her to Hell. And, lastly, he prays for his son. Lastly, he prays for Draco. With his hands folded across his chest into a perfectly postured point, Lucius asks the Lord to forgive the boy, promising that, in time, he'll make him better. He asks the Lord to rid him of his demons, for he fears he's been infected with so many of them. He asks the Lord to deliver him and to redeem him, for he knows that he has not been perfect.

And as the screaming from the Cellar floor finally manages to die out, Lucius Malfoy asks the Lord to please... please... help Draco, his Draco, find his way back home.

Then, softly, he concludes, "Amen."

XIII.

When Lucius Malfoy awakes from his dream he is covered once again in sweat and this time, he's really had a horrible nightmare. It's still dark outside and he's absolutely coated in salty wetness and he blinks into the darkness with his heart pounding like battery acid and he knows- just knows- that something horrible is going to happen soon.

It's a dream so vivid that, at first, Lucius can't identify it as a nightmare and, for a moment, he just sits up in the covers with his eyes on the mirror in front of him before he even notices that the gash from his Dark Mark has split violently back open. So on shaky legs, he makes his way to the bathroom and runs the faucet water, staring at his own reflexion in the lack of light, his long blond hair only just visible beneath all that shadow. And he tends to the wound anxiously, a large amount of bile in his throat as he splashes the tap water on to his forearm and hisses when it stings before wrapping it up in a towel and gripping the edge of the sink so tightly that it blatantly creeks underneath the weight of him.

But it is the nightmare that flashes before his eyes and he breathes pantingly as he tries to forget. This one, he decides, has been the worst of them all, for he dreamt that it was the end of the world and that he, Lucius, had acted too late in saving his son. In the nightmare he'd been lying on the mattress, just as he had been before falling asleep, and from his window he'd watched the mound underneath the roses that surrounded his Narcissa in the night. Yet there came a big sound like a gulp and he saw the very earth devour her, a shining light of fire enveloping her corpse before dragging her to the Hell before his very eyes. And then the room had started to shake and Draco, from the Cellar, had started screaming again, so he'd pulled himself from the sheets and hurried down the hallway while the world through the windows lit up in flames and he'd guessed that this was it, this was the end.

Still, he'd seen the ways in which the Outside crept in on him, calling with the sounds of the wind, lashing out their disease in the form of thick black smoke. It had seeped through the cracks of the doors and clouded his house so that he had to duck low in order to find the Cellar, and when he found it, he'd brought out his wand, lighting up the tip of it and prying his eyes into the blackness. Yet when he'd gotten there, he was met by nothingness and his Draco was gone, completely gone, so the world fell apart and the smoke closed in on him and Lucius Malfoy thought he was going to die. And he awoke an instant later, struck in his bed, waiting for the hurricane that never really came, but that hadn't made Lucius feel any better. Not by a long shot.

And now he's out of bed in the instant, clamoring through the blackness of the night down the corridors and the steps, to the living room, and the Cellar. He shakes when he yanks open the door and almost loses his balance on the staircase made of stone, his wand out in front of him while he peers into the dark to check- he has to see if Draco's been damned.

But the boy is there, ignorant and unknowing. His face is sullen in the depts of his sleep and his mattress is dirty and Lucius realizes he hasn't tended to the boy in three whole days. Three long days and Lucius wonders how it is possible that time has gone by so fast without him noticing, but he slumps to the floor and buries his face in the palms of his hands. When he's done sobbing, he inches closer to the bed and oh God, Draco looks so very sick and this isn't good because he was so, so sick already...

In the quietest of tones, Lucius whispers his son's name over and over and over; and he remembers that he loves him again, remembers, even, how he's always loved him. So he scoops up the boy as much as the bindings will allow and he cradles him again in his lap, letting his head lull back against his knee. When he strokes the hair from his eyes, he promises him that he will never, never, never let anything like this happen to him ever again.

IX.

"Harry Potter stopped by the Manor this morning."

Lucius tells Draco this after he finishes the treatments and the boy is just on the verge of passing out like always. It's been a couple hours since the last incident, but Draco wakes up none the wiser. Nonetheless, Lucius takes in the sight of his eyes behind their bruised lids and draws his hand across Draco's face, but the moment he mentions Dumbledore's golden boy, the younger blond's entire posture stiffens. He opens his weary eyes and he looks like he's seen a ghost. But Lucius continues anyway, allowing his hand to linger on his son's face, for it is the first time in a long time that the boy does not try to reel away.

"He came without the others this time," says the older man, smoothing away the sticky blond locks across Draco's forehead and wiping away the trail of blood that lingers there. "He wanted to talk about you."

"Harry Potter?" croaks Draco, as if he's never heard the name before in his life. But Lucius takes advantage of his son's weak state and coaxes him back down to the rusty mattress, putting the bindings back in their usual place and ignoring the look of confusion etched on the boy's pensive features. It's one of the only times that Draco hasn't put up a fight, but Lucius suspects that the news has put him in something of a shocked state; it is, of course, expected. However, it doesn't take more than a moment for the boy to be lured back into place and, when he repositions the pillow underneath Draco's head, the boy is still staring at him inquisitively. "They're still looking for me?" he asks, pitifully hopeful.

Lucius shakes his head. He does so slowly, and in a soft manner that is meant to appear understanding. "No, Draco, no. They're not looking for you. They're looking for themselves. Don't you understand that?"

But Draco's eyes only swell up with tears and he doesn't even look like he's staring at his father anymore, but instead at the stone wall just behind his head. "They're still looking for me," he whispers to himself, and he smiles- almost smiles- with the idea that he might get out of the Cellar sometime soon. But Lucius knows that this is just a fantasy, egged on by the infected like Narcissa, and he catches the desperate expression just before Draco can wipe it off his face. So he takes it upon himself to wipe it off for him.

And that's when everything goes downhill because Lucius is screaming before he can stop himself, his face red with fury and his hair strung about wildly; for he's done so much to help his son and this is the result he gets? "You don't know what you're talking about!" screams Lucius and he lunges forward to seize Draco's chin and yank it up from the pillow. He overlooks the ways in which Draco whimpers to instead dig his nails in deeper to his flesh like a latch. "They're infected with the disease, the whole lot of them," he says, "trying to infect you!"

"Not... infected," murmurs Draco, and his voice is dry from lack of use.

But Lucius can't even believe his ears and he throws Draco's head back down against the pillow to stagger back before leaning in again at a safe enough distance. He's back away from the mattress several impressive feet before he yells at the top of his lungs, "LIAR!"

Still, Draco's face is screwed up and he's crying all over again but Lucius is crying, too, and oh God, he hadn't realized that he'd been crying. But it was all his work for nothing because it had been so long and he still had not seen any progress. And it truly had been weeks and Lucius was doing all that he could but Draco, this Draco, he was nothing like the way he'd hoped he'd turn out because Lucius doesn't know any other way to fix him. He is certain he doesn't know.

"I'm not lying, Draco! You're brainwashed, don't you get it? Don't you see? They're trying to brainwash you! They're trying to take you away from me!" His fingernails scratch at his scalp before he realizes that his hands are in the roots of his hair and he must look like a madman to Draco. So he repeats himself for good emphasis and he watches Draco pull in his bindings so hard that his skin splits open and the boy cries out and then he is sobbing harder than ever. "They're trying to take you away from me!"

"Like you took mum away from me!" accuses the boy, despite himself, choking on the words as he delivers them.

And Lucius' heart twists and he feels like he is going to be sick, so he explains as best as he can that, "She had to go! She was only setting you back! She had to, Draco, she had to go!" And he wonders how things could have fallen apart so quickly? He wonders how could have possibly failed his son so much. He says, "I didn't want you to be like them!" and he falls to his knees with his wand lifelessly in his hand and Draco's staring at the ceiling with his face all twisted and he looks like he wants his mother and Lucius can't look at him because of it. Nonetheless, he struggles to compose himself and he blinks at the ground before breathing out and refocusing himself to look back up at the blond boy in desperation. He feels his hair snap out at the ends. "And I did it because I love you!" he tells him and he hates the way that Draco's face falls with disgust when he says it. "I love you, Draco!" he cries, despite himself. "I love you so much."

But Draco doesn't even look at him and instead burns holes into the ceiling. But the moment seems to go on for hours as Lucius waits on baited breath to hear the words repeated back to him. He wants to hear it... wants it so bad. But when Draco finally speaks, however, his voice is dry and filled with loathing; for he continues to glare at the ceiling when he mumbles back bitterly, "I hate you."

This time, Lucius Malfoy is certain that the world is over.

He sits on the ground in the darkness for a horribly long time as he tries to put the pieces together but nothing seems to fit properly. Rather, Lucius Malfoy wonders how he could have lost track so easily, wonders how he could have failed his son so much. More than anything, he can't believe that its over because there's got to be a way. There has to be a way.

Then his eyes glisten down at his wand and something hypothetical hits him in the head, for he stares down at the weapon curiously for a moment before he places things together.

When Lucius staggers back up and hiccups down his last sob, he considers the wand between his fingers, almost caught up in the glory of it. Back up at him, it almost screams the answer. And he wonders why its taken him so long to figure it out until now. But now he's got it- the Cure- the bloody Cure. Right there, right between his fingers... Thus, when he glances up from his wand and makes his way over to the mattress, he cups the side of Draco's face so gently that it causes the boy to flinch before his eyes catch sight of the wand sitting in the center of his eyes and then his face pales and he looks like he anticipates death. But Lucius shakes his head silently, for how could he kill him? He loves him so much.

So he lets his fingers trail on the side of his son's cheek and presses a finger to his lips when the boy starts to whimper, letting out soothing noises while he steps back and positions himself there, directly at the foot of the mattress.

And he tells him, "I love you, Draco, my Dear, dear, Draco..." and the end of his wand glows bright, illuminating the space ahead of him just before the father casts Imperio on his only Prodigal Son.

X.

Bang bang bang

It's them again, the Ministry Men, and this is the last time they're ever going to be there, for Lucius opens the front door wide and stands staring at Harry Potter, who looks so awfully proud to be holding a search warrant in his hand. But Lucius only smiles and he says, "oh, that won't be necessary, Mr. Potter," and he watches the way in which the boy's face slumps in confusion before he blinks stupidly there on the porch. Nonetheless, Lucius leans up back into the house and he calls his son's name once, for that's all he has to do, and then the slow-paced footsteps sound out around the tile and everything is silent- no more screaming.

And there he is, his son, clad in his dress clothes, looking nice and neat with his messy blond hair slicked back and proper, for Lucius had been expecting guests today, even though it was Tuesday, after all. But he says, "Come and say hello, Draco," and Draco comes towards Potter with an expression so attractive that its almost impossible to tell that its vacant, stopping just in time to meet the spot nearest Lucius, who wraps an arm around his shoulder and squeezes just a little.

"Hello," Draco Malfoy says, and its the first time Harry Potter has heard the boy talk in years.

"Malfoy?" Harry croaks and his fingers slip as he drops the warrant, eyes wide as owls' behind his foggy eye glasses.

"Turns out you were right, Mr. Potter. Draco here did decide to run away for a while," Lucius Malfoy explains, relishing in the ways that Potter's expression morphs, absolutely befuddled. He's not looking at Lucius, but instead at Draco, who looks right back almost sleepily until Lucius gives him the signal to perk up and he does, obediently. "He came back last night on his own accord, but he's back now and he's here to stay."

Harry's face pales. He studies the blond boy ahead of him and his mouth works in ways that amuse Lucius as he tries to think of something appropriate to say. Finally, he settles on, "You ran away?"

Lucius nods while Draco says, "Yes, but that was a mistake," and Lucius is proud, so very proud. "I don't want to leave," he says, "not anymore."

But Harry shakes his head and he looks rather comically confused. "But..." he starts before trailing off. "I don't understand...".

So Lucius asks fondly, "What's there to understand, Mr. Potter? Draco's returned home. Mystery solved."

Still, Harry Potter is frantic and he stares at Draco as if he can sense something is off about him, so Lucius makes Draco stand straighter and he does rather instantly. Yet Potter's eyes scramble all over Draco's stature and, when he spots the bandaged up Dark Mark, his right eye twitches. "Don't you want to get out?" Harry asks and Lucius almost smiles at the misconception. "Don't you want to have a new life? Your own... life? Don't... don't you want to start over? This house," he says, just as he'd said to Lucius, "it has so many memories... so many ghosts."

However, Draco shakes his head and his blond hair falls out of place so Lucius leans in to smooth it away. He says, "Every house has its ghosts," and Harry freezes as if struck by lightning.

He asks, "What did you say?"

And Draco calmly repeats himself in a low, vacant voice that makes Potter blink, but Lucius is far too quick. He pats his son's shoulder before announcing thatperhaps its better for Draco to get some sleep. He tells Harry Potter he's had a rough couple of weeks.

When he ends the conversation, he shuts the door and ignores Potter, who stands on the doorstep for a very long time before moving at all. Rather, Lucius tends to the living room and he sits in front of the fire and he doesn't forget Draco, who lingers at the front door, before he's called to the couches as well. Then he places his hand on his lap and he has Draco lie next to him on the couch while he strokes his hair and tells him he loves him while, this time, Draco says it back; and Lucius is certain he's done it. He son has come home again. He's finally found the Cure.


Vonne: When this was posted under my Va Vonne account, I had many reviewers asking if I was planning a sequel. I just might be, but I definitely need enough encouragement to write a second perhaps happier ending to Draco's fate. Please let me know what you think of a possible second part? Thank you!