Father, My Father—chapter 1
(A/N: This story is a prequel to my "The Beginnings of a Death Eater", and starts when Lucius' father, Abraxas, is still a boy. I plan to go up through the time Lucius is born, and more. Thanks for reading, and hopefully reviewing! Also, this is dedicated to Lucius's Lover, without whom I probably would not have written it.)
Eleven-year-old Abraxas peered out the window of the Hogwarts Express to see if they'd come for him. It was his first holiday from Hogwarts, his first year there, and he'd missed Mother. Surely she had come. His eyes swung back and forth the length of the platform; he didn't see them. Wait—there he was! An imposing man with short, platinum blond hair moved through the crowd as they seemed to melt away from him, giving him berth. In his right hand he carried a cane, its silver serpent head hidden by the soft leather glove.
The boy jumped from his seat and ran the length of the car, right down the steps, not worrying about his trunk. The elf could deal with that later. "Father!" A broad smile made him look particularly handsome. He bolted across the platform to the man, though he knew better than to cause a scene with tawdry displays of affection. Anyway, his sire wasn't one to display affection even in private. "Here I am, Father."
"Son." Horatio looked down at the lad through half-lidded eyes, appraising him. "How did the semester go?"
Abraxas glanced up at the older wizard, his grey eyes so different from the muted blue of his father's. "Very well, sir. I'm certain I took top honours in most of my classes."
"Most?" The man's voice took on an edge that made his son flinch slightly. "I expected better."
"I'll do better next semester. Where's Mother?" the boy asked, still searching the crowd.
"Preparing a feast in your honour, no doubt," said the man dryly. "She has no concept of rewards earned. We have things to discuss when we get home." He summarily took the boy by the arm and disapparated.
They landed on the front porch of Malfoy Manor. Horatio pushed open the door and called out, "Fancy!"
A house elf wearing a bright yellow dishtowel like a toga appeared; on her bald head, she wore a crown of flowers. Surprisingly, it didn't budge an inch when she bowed so low her pointed nose touched the floor. "Yes, Master Malfoy? How cans Fancy serves Master?"
"Go to the train station and retrieve my son's trunk. Then go to Hogwarts and collect the rest of his belongings." He shook off his heavy coat and hung it on the rack inside the door, while the elf went to do as she'd been instructed.
Abraxas stood very still, in shock. Had he heard what he thought he'd heard? Why would Father want to bring home all his belongings? "Sir, I don't understand. Why—"
"You won't be returning to Hogwarts," said Horatio brusquely. "I've been speaking with your teachers, all of whom confirm that you haven't received a single beating the whole four months you've been gone. Apparently it's too lax, far too little discipline."
"But…" choked out the lad, on the verge of tears. "How will I learn to use my magic?"
"You'll go to a decent school like I did." He ripped the cloak off his son and threw it on the rack. "Durmstrang doesn't cater to mudbloods and other filth. Their professors teach important things like the Dark Arts, they don't pussyfoot around it. And most importantly, they'll keep you in line."
"But I like Hogwarts!" shrilled the boy, at the same time his mind screamed for him to shut the hell up. Too late. A hard backhand knocked him onto his bum on the cold stone entryway.
"Evidently they put up with impudence at Hogwarts, Abraxas, but I don't tolerate it. Perhaps you've forgotten that in your short time away." He lifted the cane over the boy. "Do I need to remind you?"
"No, sir," Abraxas answered meekly, shoving himself to his knees and getting to his feet. "May I go see Mother?"
Horatio shrugged as if he couldn't care less. When the boy ran from the room, he migrated to the main sitting room and settled himself into one of the wingchairs by the fire. Fancy, who'd already returned from her errand, waltzed in with a goblet of brandy spiked with firewhiskey. He took it without a word and leaned back. It had been years since he'd been back to Durmstrang; he felt a thrill at the prospect of going back, even for a visit.
When Horatio entered the Headmaster's office at Durmstrang, he automatically bowed, though he'd not done so since he'd been a boy of eighteen. Old habits died hard, it seemed. He stood upright and went inside, leaving Abraxas standing outside the door; he smiled genially at the dark-haired wizard behind the desk, who at three years his senior had been a sort of classmate in years past. "Otdavna ne sme se vizhdali, Penko. Kak si?" (Penko, it's been a long time. How have you been?)
"Blagodarya, dobre sam. I ti dobre izglezhdash." (Fine, thank you. You look well yourself) replied the man, who stood to shake Horatio's hand. "Kakvo te vodi obratno v Durmstrang? Misleh, che shte si dovolen, che si se otarval ot nego." (What brings you back to Durmstrang? I'd think you'd be glad to be rid of the place.)
"Ne se zanasyay. Tuk sam prekaral niyakoi ot nai-dobrite si godini." (Don't be silly. I spent some of the best years of my life here) drawled Horatio.
"Vremeto naistina e balsam za zabravyane." (Time really does act as a balm of forgetfulness) said Penko, chuckling to himself. "Kolko pati sa te privikvali v tozi sashtiya kabinet za da ti chetat konsko? Bez da broim onezi pati kogato uchitelite te vodeha za raka lichno." (How many times were you called to this very office to be raked over the coals? Not including the times teachers took you in hand themselves.)
"Samo si varsheha rabotata." (Merely doing their job) Horatio said stoically. "Ima li oshte ostanali ot starite daskali? Bih iskal da mina da gi vidya. Nadyavam se che Abraxus she bade v dobri race. Vprochem toi oshte ne govori balgarski. (Are there a lot of the old teachers remaining here? I would like to visit briefly. I hope that Abraxas will be in good hands. By the way, he does not speak Bulgarian yet.)
Grinning at the bewildered expression on the headmaster's face, he turned to the doorway and snapped his fingers for the child to come forth, noting all the while the quizzical expression the boy had failed to hide, indicating he was clueless about the conversation taking place in front of him. Maybe the kid ought to have deduced that his father must have, of necessity, learned to speak Bulgarian to attend Durmstrang. Abraxas stepped gingerly across the floor and came to a halt beside Horatio.
"Headmaster, this is my son, Abraxas. I've decided to pull him out of Hogwarts and enroll him here. Will that be a problem?"
"I don't see vhy it should be," replied Penko in English, his accent pronounced against Horatio's seamless Bulgarian. "Hello, Abraxas."
The lad ducked his blond head and murmured, "Hello, sir."
Horatio poked him in the ribs and muttered, "Stand up straight and act like a Malfoy." In a louder voice he said to the other man, "I've brought his things. Any books or robes he needs can be charged to my account at Gringotts."
The headmaster removed a stack of papers from his desk drawer and pushed them across the desk at the man. "Of course. If you vould be so kind, fill out these enrollment forms vhile I haf a chat with Abraxas. Come along, young man."
Horatio gripped his son's shoulder so hard it made him wince and was sure to leave a bruise. In a clipped whisper he said, "Don't you dare try to f—k this up, son."
Abraxas nodded his understanding and went to join the headmaster, who was already at the door. They exited and proceeded to roam the halls of the chilly old castle, and when they'd gone some distance Penko said, "You do not vish to be here."
The lad declined to respond, lest he say the wrong thing.
"I knew your father vhen ve vere boys," said Penko, and it cheered him to see Abraxas look up in surprise. So the boy truly hadn't understood the earlier conversation. "He vas an unruly student, and he can be very bossy."
Abraxas snickered in spite of himself. Though he'd never risk saying it, it was true. "Yes, sir." He paused, then added, "I do like Dark Arts. He said you teach them here."
"This is true. Is this vhy he vants you to come to Durmstrang?"
"Partly," admitted the boy. "He thinks Hogwarts isn't strict enough because they don't beat me. I guess he's hoping they will here."
Penko adopted a pensive mien as they walked. "Are you a bad boy?"
Another pause, longer, filled with tension. Abraxas finally shrugged. "I don't know. He thinks so. Everything I do is wrong unless it's exactly what he wants." Dread filled him in a rush. What if this man went back and told his father what he'd said? His eyes widened at the thought.
They walked on in silence for another minute or two. At last they rounded the corner on the way back to the office. "Let me put your mind at ease, Abraxas. Ve—the teachers and headmaster of Durmstrang—are strict, but ve do not strive to be cruel. Unless you are disobedient or insolent, or fail to do your vork, there is little reason to fear."
"But…he assumes I'll be treated harshly…" The boy trailed off.
"He is free to belief what he likes, no?" The headmaster smiled down at him. "I vill not tell him differently." He ushered the child along toward the open door. "Let us get you enrolled and settled in, shall ve?"
"There you are!" Nicolette Malfoy picked her way round the Malfoy pond to where her son sat on the bank, gazing gloomily at the fish swimming lazily about. He looked up at her but said nothing. She crouched down beside him, shivering. "It's chilly out here. Where is your coat?"
Abraxas shrugged and shifted his weight for her to sit down next to him. "It's pretty covered in snow. I wish it was winter."
"Let me see." When he made no motion, she repeated, "Abraxas, let me see!"
He held out his left arm, and she pulled back the sleeve to reveal a series of dark purpling bruises, in the shape of fingers. Taking her wand from her dress pocket, she floated it over the limb. "It's not broken."
"This time," muttered the child through clenched teeth. "I hate him."
She stifled a rebuke. He ought not speak so of his father, and yet wasn't it his father who gave him these marks, who gave him nearly all the bruises and welts and broken bones he'd ever had? If anyone deserved rebuke, it was the patriarch, but that simply wasn't done. All her life she'd been brought up to believe in pureblood society rules, among them the notion that men ruled their families and women obeyed. It wasn't ladylike or proper to object to his decisions, and could prove dangerous. "I'm sorry, son. I wish I could protect you."
The boy didn't respond. What was the point? If Mother didn't interfere, he'd be beaten; if she did, they'd both be beaten. Wasn't this better? He tossed a pebble into the pond, watching the rings expand outward, ever outward.
"You go back to Durmstrang soon. Summer is nearly over." She slid down and pulled him close to her in a hug. "I miss you so much when you're gone, son, but I know it's better. At least you're safe there."
"I miss you, too, Mother," he admitted softly. His head leaned on her bosom. "Why can't you leave him?"
Nicolette sat upright as if slapped. "I couldn't do that! What would our friends say? Imagine the gossip among the riffraff!"
"You think they don't gossip now?" he said.
"Abraxas Malfoy, you're too young to understand. One day you'll see."
"If I live so long," he answered saucily, and automatically glanced around lest his father be lurking and hear him.
"You shouldn't talk that way." The rote manner in which she said it held no conviction whatsoever. "When you're married, you'll see that things aren't as simple as you'd like them to be."
"All I know is I'd never hit my wife," he replied hotly. "You're just as clever as Father, just as strong magically. Why should he be the boss and you the slave?"
"It's the way society is." She sighed sadly. "He is physically more powerful, that gives him advantages."
"It makes him a tyrant, but it doesn't make him better than you or me." Abraxas crossed his arms over his chest. "When I'm grown up, I'll take care of you, Mother. You can be rid of him."
She hugged him tighter, stroking his gleaming blond hair, one attribute from his father. But not the eyes, she smiled to herself. Abraxas had her grey eyes, her gentleness inside—the gentleness that was being tested and killed by his sire bit by bit. Would he still be her sweet, kind boy by the time he married and had a family of his own? Or would he revert to the cruelty for which many Malfoy men were famous? It broke her heart to think of it.
"Come in the house, son. I don't want you to catch cold."
He nodded numbly. In a few days he'd return to Durmstrang for his second year, and while he'd be alright, what would become of Mother? He mustn't think of it, must suppress it. "The captain of the Quidditch team asked me to try out next term. He saw me flying."
"That's wonderful!" exclaimed his mother, hauling him to his feet. "Your father will be so proud—why didn't you tell him?"
Abraxas looked up at her, only a few inches taller than himself. "I'd rather wait till I make the team. If he knew, he'd…if I didn't make it…you know."
She nodded. Yes, she knew. "I wish you well, darling. Come on, now. It's nearly dusk and dinner will be ready."
As they walked to the house, he said quietly, "Mother, why don't you go visit some friends in France while I'm gone? Father has to stay here for his business dealings."
"I'll think about it," she assured him, hustling him along. "Now stand up straight and show a pleasant face for your father…"