Once again he found himself hidden away behind several plumes of tobacco smoke in the corner of his office. Rocking back and forth, the old man listened to the steady creaks of his antique chair harmonizing with the soft patter of rain and distant thunder, soothing himself to the familiar melody. The colossal stacks of documents and letters piled high on his desk remained unread as the eldest Black continued to stare at the wall in front of him.

As the days had stretched into years the deep wrinkles of disdain etched into the aristocrat's face withered into a mask resembling that of a grieving father. Every so often, trapped tears would glisten in his eyes as he gazed at the descendants he would soon leave behind. The family tree painted on the wall in front of him was littered with outcasts designated by dark blotches of burnt sheetrock and torn wallpaper, often times provoking him to smother his half-smoked cigar in his cluttered ash trey. When thinking of the despised Malfoys and how they would soon outstrip his family's legacy, the stronger sedative of his uncorked firewhisky never ceased in calling for his indulgence.

As a crack of lightning caught his attention, Arcturus rose from his seat and trudged across the broken shards of glass and tobacco ashes scattered across the floor, fetching the unopened envelope he had been waiting for. Breaking the wax seal with a trembling and unsteady hand, he began to read the letter from his former friend and rival.

My Afflicted Friend-

It has been 17 years and one fortnight since our last correspondence, yet your losses remain as my sorrows. I too have endured similar tribulations and agonies since our regrettable departure from friendship, finding the passage of time to be the only cure for such tragedies. It is my hope that you may find some consolation in knowing that we are not too far from depositing our miseries and heartaches into the soil beneath us, as I now await my passing with open arms.

Nevertheless, you and I mustn't depart from this earth without having confessed to one another. I am an old man and decrepit, too old to alter my views of this world. We may only understand together that so long as there is humanely devised rule of the masses there will be politics, and thus disagreement among the lowest and greatest of minds. Yet, our treacherous history together runs deeper than mere difference of opinion... and I admit that it is I that should be named the culprit of our lost companionship. Greed has always been my downfall.

Still, age can humble even the most wicked of men. After all this time I would prefer to die as a forgiven man, my friend, and one that may have offered hope to our diminishing bloodlines. In this hope, allow us to strike a deal in the favor of your family as a token of my apologies.

As you may be aware, my family manor was selected as headquarters for the dark lord just last year. As such, I was the first to know of his downfall - my son being appointed to another assignment at the time. When I sent a servant to inspect the scene at Godric's Hollow, she returned with an unexpected visitor - your great-nephew, Harry Potter.

I will tell you now that when my elf returned with the Potter heir in her arms a few nights ago, I had planned on disposing of the child at once. However, I remembered your letter from the day before and began to ponder the different possibilities. Thus, I ask you to consider the following proposal.

My son, Lucius, has not merely funded the dark lord's cause as I have, but also joined the inner ranks of his followers. Due to his open display of loyalty, he is suspected by the ministry and will likely serve time in Azkaban. While it is true that I have a certain influence over the minister, a father's voucher will not stand in the court of public opinion. Minister Bagnold is well aware of this. She cannot allow a death eater off the hook without ruining her political career either, nor would she wish to. However, if a credible and impartial individual were to come forward and either claim his innocence or claim to have knowledge that he was coerced into carrying out the dark lord's bidding, he could be saved. While many in your family honorably served the dark lord, you were known to have remained neutral - perhaps remaining loyal to Grindenwald's ambitions. Furthermore, we are known to be political rivals, even if we are situated in the same party.

You can vouch for Lucius' innocence. If you were to do so, I would hand over the child. The child is of your blood and you, my dear Arcturus, are badly in need of an heir. Allow yourself to forget his blood status for a moment and consider the power he is likely to command. For that matter he may even be pureblood; there isn't a soul under my roof that believes Lily Evans was a muggleborn. Whether it is pureblood bias or whether Dumbledore truly had a hand in her upbringing hardly matters, as I am sure your family will hold similar views once he becomes a part of your bloodline.

I request that you accept this arrangement as a means of rekindling our friendship. Save my son and give your honorable family a suitable heir. If you do not agree, I will either dispose of the boy or find other means of his usefulness.

Your Friend,

Abraxas Malfoy

P.S. As an incriminating piece of evidence, this letter will burn shortly after being read.

At the end of the letter, Arcturus allowed his bushy eyebrows to narrow as he threw the letter into his fireplace and watched it erupt into flames. Tracing his steps back to his rocking chair, he reached into his inside jacket pocket and lit another cigar. After a thick fume veiled his face again, he sat back down with his chin resting on a clenched fist and scanned his family tree once more. It was almost as if he had missed something after so many years of searching, his squinted eyes resting on his most recently deceased heir - Regulus Black.

Several moments later he rose from his seat yet again, nearing the wall in front of him as he ran his course fingers along the branches of his bloodline until they landed where Regulus' heir should have been.

"Mimsy!"

Arcturus barely had time to put out his second cigar of the hour before a bruised elf appeared before him, responding to her master's raspy holler with a trembling tone.

"M-Mimsy is here sir. How may -"

"Silence elf! Prepare the thestrals, we leave in five minutes."

Taking little notice of the elf's departure, Arcturus walked over to his coat hanger next to the entryway. He fetched his cane, adorned a tall top hat and swung a dark cape of his shoulders before slamming his office door shut with a reverberating echo - surely waking the remaining inhabitants of the Black family manor.