A Gift of Love


Disclaimer: I do not own HP, I make no money from this work.

A/N: Many thanks go to my lovely helpers, my beta and Brit-picker: talesofsnape, and my alpha: morethansirius, their help and input were invaluable.

Early morning hours of, June 25, 1995.

Lucius was horrified. He was living inside a nightmare with no way out. There had been stirrings for a while. He'd felt—feared really—the Dark Lord's power returning. He hadn't known what it meant, but he did now.

That sycophant, Pettigrew, the filthy rat, had managed to bring back their 'Lord'. Barty Crouch Jr. had abducted Harry Potter from the very midst of the Tri Wizard Tournament so that Pettigrew could use Potter's blood in a ritual to restore Lord Voldemort. One of the very first things the Dark Lord had done following his 'rebirth' was to call his 'loyal' Death Eaters to his side. Failure to respond to the call was a sure death sentence. Lucius knew this to be true.

He had been aghast to learn that, on the Dark Lord's order, the rat had killed Amos Diggory's boy, Cedric, as if he were nothing. The boy had been the son of a long pureblood line, and he'd been dispatched as though he were little more than yesterday's rubbish. If the Dark Lord would order this boy's death on a whim, what guarantee was there that the same could not happen to any of their children, to Draco?

Upon Potter's escape with Diggory's body, Lord Voldemort had been demented in his rage, ordering the Death Eaters present to prove their loyalty by wreaking havoc on the Muggle families of Muggle-born witches and wizards. With little choice in the matter Lucius had followed the mob, but stayed to the fringes, away from the most rabid followers. Before long they broke into groups.

The first house his group was directed to by Crabbe was empty. It appeared abandoned; the family who lived there had long ago moved on. The others were like rabid dogs, ready to tear each other apart in frustration at this point. Then Macnair recalled that there had been a Muggle-born girl in his nephew's class, Ella or Eliza—something like that—Desmond, and he knew where that family lived. He instructed them to Apparate to the nearby village of Ellswick and to meet him at the west end of town. Lucius didn't want to follow, but really couldn't think of a reason not to, at least not one that the Dark Lord would accept. And he knew word would get back regarding his lack of participation if he didn't go. There was no doubt of that. So, reluctantly he went along.

When he arrived it was an easy enough task to follow the trail the Death Eaters had taken as they'd left a path of destruction in their wake: street lights knocked out, windows broken, rubbish bins overturned. Farther down the road leading out of town, far off on a side lane, he heard the shouts of triumph and knew that this time the Muggle family his companions sought had not escaped their fate.

As Lucius walked up the lane he could hear things being smashed and shouts from inside. Soon the sounds of curses filled the air and the screams followed as the torturing began. Lucius' stomach lurched as he stood in the doorway. There were three Muggles in the room who looked as if they'd just been dragged from their beds, a middle-aged couple and a young man. There was no sign of the Muggle-born witch whose family Macnair claimed this was. Macnair and Avery were torturing the males while Crabbe held the woman, making her watch. As he held her Lucius could see he was touching her and whispering things in her ear while she struggled. He was probably telling her what kind of nightmares lay in store for her once her kin were dead, building on her fear and terror.

Goyle stood by the door, looking dumbfounded, as if he didn't want to be here, but like Lucius, he knew there was no escape. Nott looked revolted as well. Avery was casting the Cruciatus on the father, but Macnair preferred blades and was using them on the boy. Looking up with a psychotic grin on his face, he called to the three by the door. "You're missing all the fun, boys. Don't be shy, come, join in."

"You're disgusting, Macnair," snarled Nott.

"I'm doing my Lord's bidding, Nott," he replied. "Will you do any less?"

Lucius sneered, "I don't know about these two, but Malfoys don't sully themselves with this kind of filth. I'll check outside for stragglers and cast the Morsmordre."

Macnair shrugged and turned back to his task.

Nott grabbed Lucius' arm as he went to pass. "Lucius, this is wrong," whispered Nott. "I'm all for blood purity and protecting our world but this is not the way to go about it. This accomplishes nothing."

Goyle nodded in agreement. Lucius leaned close and muttered, "How can we stop it? Are you willing to tell the Dark Lord that, Edward? You, Gregory?" Both men shook their heads in denial. "You heard what happened to the Diggory boy. That could just as easily have been one of our sons. Look, I don't like any of this either, but what are our options? Take our families and run? How far do you think we would get now that He is back? I have no idea how we will get through this, but it seems in our positions, we have little choice at this point. We must protect ourselves and our families." Lucius glanced over the other men's heads and shuddered. "If you can't bring yourself to participate in this debacle—and I know I certainly can't—then find some other tasks as excuses. Goyle, stand outside and guard the door. Nott, search the cellar or out back, say you're looking for others who might be hiding. I'll be checking the perimeter and casting Morsmordre." Saying that, Lucius turned and stalked out the door.

He'd managed to get halfway down the lane before he had to stop and retch in the bushes. After several minutes he stood and wiped his mouth with a pristine linen handkerchief. He then turned and calmly cast a spell. "Morsmordre!"

As the Dark Mark rose above the house he heard a shriek from the end of the lane and the sound of someone running up the path. "Nooo! Mum... Dad... Robbie... No!"

Fuck! It must be the Desmond girl, the Muggle-born witch. Even knowing that he should just let her run by, let her dash blindly to her own fate, he just couldn't do it. Lucius grabbed her, covering her mouth to stifle her cries. He confiscated her wand and dragged her off the path. She hadn't even seen him, his Death Eater robes helping him to blend in with the darkness.

The girl fought like a wild thing, biting and scratching, kicking at him with her heels. He dragged her back into the woods, using his wand to erase their trail. He was trying to put some distance between them and the path, but also to get her as far away from the sounds of her family being tortured and murdered as he could. The girl refused to give up and kept struggling, fighting him. Finally, judging they were far enough away and safe for the moment at least, he sat on a log and cast a muffling spell, both to keep the sounds of her mother's screams out and to keep the girl's cries from carrying too far.

Her attempts to escape were weakening and Lucius simply held her tight to his chest as he spoke softly but urgently to her. "Shhh... You can't help them. It's too late. I'm sorry. There's nothing you can do. You can't stop what is happening. You must protect yourself."

The girl stopped struggling buried and her face in his chest, keening her grief. After several minutes she calmed enough to ask, "Why? Why are they doing this? Why are you doing this?"

Lucius flinched to hear her group him in with the monsters that were in her home right now. Yet why shouldn't she? He was here, and so by his very presence he was condoning it. "I am here because I have no choice. But I refuse to participate in what they are doing."

"But, why are they doing this?" she asked desperately.

"Because the Dark Lord has returned and he sees your kind as an abomination. He wants to destroy you and those who created you." Looking down into her tear stained face, all Lucius saw was a girl. Not an abomination, not some mutant creature, not a threat to anything in his world—merely a girl who had just lost everything she held dear. "You must leave here, now, tonight. You must go far away and never come back. For your own safety, leave now, girl. Go!" He offered her wand back to her, just wanting her gone.

She looked at him blankly. "And go where?" she asked. "I have nowhere to go, I have no one else. Nothing. My only family is up that hill, dying at the hands of your brethren, even as we speak."

She choked on a sob and dropped to her knees in front of him, bowing her head. "Kill me."

"What?" Lucius gasped.

"Kill me. Do it now."

"Didn't you hear me, girl? I'm letting you go, but you must leave, quickly."

"Didn't you hear me, Death Eater? I have no where else to go, and even if I did, my only reasons for living have just been stripped from me. Kill me. You'll be doing me a mercy. Better that than let your friends find me."

Lucius stared at her in disbelief. Then, glancing in the direction of her home, he thought what would happen to the girl if Macnair or Avery got their hands on her. He pulled out his wand and stood. Taking a few steps away he looked back at her. He lifted his wand to cast the Killing Curse. He just couldn't bring himself to do it. His hand dropped uselessly at his side.

Finally, pocketing his wand, he stepped up to the girl, and reaching down pulled her to her feet. Lucius pulled a chain with a small medallion from around his neck and slipped it over her head. "This is a Portkey. It will take you to a safe house I have set up. The house is secret kept; you will be safe there until we can figure out a plan. There is a house-elf who will care for you. Her name is Twink. I will come to you as soon as I safely can, but it may be several days. I'll help you find a place to go, somewhere safe."

She looked up now, pain and confusion in her face. She asked the very same question she had asked minutes before. "Why are you doing this?"

He looked into her eyes, equally as confused as she. "I don't know. I just know I can't kill you. I can't give you to them, and I can't leave you here. This is the only thing I can think of."

Before she could respond he whispered something, tapped the Portkey and, in the blink of an eye, she was gone.