Title: When You've Ceased to Believe
Prompt: "As part of a new "rehabilitation" program, Lucius Malfoy is assigned a volunteer buddy, someone to hang out with, and do good things with, to show him the error of his ways through friendship. Whether or not it works or has any impact at all is up to the author. Bonus points for Narcissa's and Draco's reactions to all this, and double points points if Lucius is plotting something evil at the same time as forging a strange friendship with Luna" on hp_friendship on LiveJournal.
Characters: Lucius Malfoy, Luna Lovegood, Narcissa Malfoy, Draco Malfoy
Word Count: 1,600
Author's Notes: hp_friendship is a fest celebrating non-romantic relationships, and I honestly want to write a whole novel based on his prompt... which I plan to do in future.
"A friend is one who believes in you when you have ceased to believe in yourself."
This whole thing had been a terrible idea.
When Narcissa first brought up the rehabilitation program that the Ministry of Magic was hosting for former Death Eaters, Lucius had thought she was joking. When she had left a pamphlet containing details about it on his desk and told him to look through it, he had thought that she was mad. And when she marched him into the foyer of the Ministry and told the man who was organizing the whole matter that Lucius was to be joining them, he had thought that she hated him.
"Narcissa!" he snarled through gritted teeth, trying to pull out of her all-too-powerful grip, "surely you can't really be serious about this!"
"Oh, you had better believe that I'm serious." Narcissa handed four galleons to the wizard who had been taking down Lucius's name and personal information, and he scurried off down the hall and disappeared through a door, supposedly to find a suitable partner for Lucius.
Lucius did not think that he had ever heard his wife sounding so grimly determined.
"You are not getting out of this, Lucius," she continued. "I am not going to let my husband continue to mope around about how he's lost his credibility. You are going to become a normal, functioning member of society again, Lucius, do you hear me?"
"And how do you expect me to become a normal, functioning member of society at a rehabilitation program for former Death Eaters?" he hissed.
"This program seems very effective," Narcissa told him imperiously. "And you will not argue with me anymore."
Lucius scowled, turning away from her. He had married Narcissa in the first place because he assumed that she would be easy to bend, but oh, no, on the contrary. She was a wretched, stubborn little–
"Sir," said the man who had taken down Lucius's information, rushing back towards them. There were beads of sweat on his forehead, and if Lucius had not minded his handkerchief being stained by someone like him, he would have whipped it out and blotted his skin on the spot. Disgusting. "One of our volunteers has specially requested to work with you. Will that be all right?"
"Of course it will," Narcissa said, before Lucius could say a word. "Why don't you take him in to meet him."
"You aren't coming along?" Lucius demanded of her.
She shook her head. "I promised the Greengrasses that I would bring Draco to see Astoria for tea. You'll have to go in on your own. I'm sure that you can manage it," she added, with a condescending little smirk. "You're a big boy, after all."
Lucius glared at her, and she tittered, fluttering her fingers at him as he followed the sweaty young man down the hall and towards the door that he had disappeared through. He did not want to do this. He wanted to go home and brood in his study, not flutter around the city with some naïve little volunteer who hadn't even been involved in the war.
When the door was opened, Lucius fully expected to come face-to-face with some gawky boy, too eager to be partnered with Lucius.
Instead, he was immediately met with a girl. A petite, blonde girl with large, silver-grey eyes not unlike Lucius's own, wearing radishes dangling from her ears. Lucius was so transfixed by those, wondering what on earth would possess anyone to make such an absurd choice of jewellery, that he was barely aware when she spoke to him.
"Hello, Lucius Malfoy," she said, and he jolted a bit. "It's ever so lovely to see you again. Perhaps you remember me. I'm Luna Lovegood."
If Lucius had been quicker, less dumbfounded by the presence, and the utter serenity of a girl who he had only ever met when she was locked in his cellar, he might have been able to tell the wizard who had put them together that he absolutely would not have Luna Lovegood for a volunteer companion, but by the time Lucius had found his ability to speak again, he was alone with her and she was smiling up at him with a bright and absolutely serene expression.
"Miss Lovegood," he managed to say, trying to sound as calmly unconcerned as possible. "What a… surprise."
"Yes, I was rather surprised to hear that you had signed up for the program," Luna said mildly. "I imagine that Narcissa wanted it for you, didn't she?"
"How did you know?" he asked suspiciously. Merlin, if she knows Occlumency…
"Oh, I just assumed, really," Luna told him. "Seeing as Narcissa was really a bit of a mess last time I saw her, I thought that you would probably want to do anything to keep her from getting into that state again. Isn't that right?"
"I…" Lucius was lost for words. "When… when was the last time you saw her?"
"When I was locked in Malfoy Manor, of course," she explained, blinking innocently. "When else would it have been?"
"But that was years ago! Narcissa isn't at all a mess anymore, I will have you know."
"But you still remember it." Luna tilted her head slowly to the side, considering him. "You still remember what it was like when she was doing rather poorly, and you don't want her to get upset again like she was then."
"Don't tell me what I want," Lucius told Luna icily. He should have slapped the impertinent girl, but he restrained himself. Restraint is of greatest importance at all times, Lucius.
"All right," said Luna. "What would you like to do?"
"I beg your pardon?"
"Well, would you like to go for a walk?" she asked. "Or perhaps go help clear nargles out of someone's attic."
"I… beg your pardon?"
"Anything you'd like to do, really," Luna concluded, with a little shrug. "When I volunteered to help, they said that what was important was to make you happy."
"Merlin," Lucius said, his nose wrinkling slightly, "are most of the 'former Death Eaters' involved in this project under the age of ten?"
"No, they're all about your age – I would have thought that that would be obvious."
Lucius did not respond to that. He looked away, trying to avoid Luna's penetrating, infuriatingly innocent expression. This was all Narcissa's fault; he would give her a piece of his mind as soon as he was home.
Or, perhaps he wouldn't. He didn't want another fight.
"Why don't we sit down?" Luna suggested, stepping to the side and indicating the couches that lined the room. It was empty, though a few cloaks and bags had been strewn carelessly around, clearly left by other volunteers who had already left with whichever poor men had been forced into this program. "We can talk if you'd like."
We can talk.
That was not something that Lucius heard often – or that he had ever heard often. Talking was something that was done only when it was needed, not for pleasure or leisure. Conversations were about political matters or money, not simply what one did with other people.
Talking would, he supposed, be a good deal better than having to go out on a walk with this girl and listen to her prattle about – what had she called them? Nargles? – and pretend to anyone who might see them that he had good reason to be out with her. At least if they stayed here to talk, they would have some privacy.
"Fine," he said, trying to sound as much as he could as though he did not care. "Then we shall talk."
Lucius lost track of time, talking to Luna. The girl certainly had a great deal to say, he thought. The bulk of it was pointless drivel, no doubt quoted verbatim from the articles that her father published in his magazine, but it was not unpleasant to listen to. He had, in fact, found himself quite engaged in her stories about how Cornelius Fudge was plotting to kill goblins.
By the time Lucius got back to Malfoy Manor, it was dark out, and Draco and Narcissa were sitting at the dinner table, waiting for him.
"How did it go, Dad?" Draco asked, and Lucius was quite sure that he was trying to hide a smirk. Surely, Lucius thought, his son was expecting some story about how unpleasant it had been, or else a curt, It was fine, with a note of warning not to press further.
Narcissa had a stern expression on her face, glaring at her husband as though to say, You had better take a positive attitude to this, Lucius. I don't ask much of you, this isn't too difficult, and it was clear enough that she expected exactly the same thing as Draco did. Perhaps they had even been discussing it before Lucius came in.
Well, they were quite wrong.
He sat down at the table, keeping his expression impassive.
"It was quite pleasant," he said, and then, ignoring the looks of shock on Draco and Narcissa's faces, "I shall be going to another session on Tuesday."
"On Tuesday?" Narcissa looked quite stunned. "I… well, that's excellent."
"Who's your volunteer partner, Dad?" asked Draco, all curiosity. "Is it anyone that we know?"
"It is, as a matter of fact." Lucius was doing his best to hide his own little smirk. Oh, but he had been looking forward to sharing this part of the story with them.
"Who?" asked Narcissa.
"Luna Lovegood," Lucius said, all nonchalance. "And Draco, would you go get a bottle of wine? I feel that this merits a celebration."