In Bad Faith Chapter 13 Rewrite
A Harry Potter Self-Insert Fanfiction
Chapter XIII – A Matter of Faith
Lucius' eyes cut to and fro down the hall, wary of any watchers.
It was not a common thing for him to be so paranoid in his own home, but there was a time when the better part of valor is discretion. He smiled inwardly at the truism. Shakespeare did have such a way with words. Pushing aside the errant thought, Lord Malfoy continued at his circumspect pace, his ears primed for any disturbance in the quiet emptiness of his manor, but none was forthcoming. He was not overly surprised at his solitude, either. It had taken some time for him to ensure Draco would be away at a Quidditch game with Vincent and Gregory while his wife was simultaneously busy with some of her acquaintances.
Then there was Desdemona.
His youngest child was a mix of predictability and spontaneity which complicated matters far more than he would have liked to admit. Given that much of her schedule revolved around lessons and study, this meant that she stayed in the manor for the majority of the day, only coming and going for the few occasions which necessitated a personal appearance.
For all that Desdemona Malfoy was the talk of the pureblood community for her precocious genius, she was actually quite the homebody.
It was an amusing thought, but one which gave him no end of trouble in...keeping an eye on his daughter.
He was intimately acquainted with the dangers common to the unique combination of magical study and 'precocious genius.' He had, after all, been seduced into servitude by an individual for whom both descriptions were very apt.
Not that he would compare Desdemona to the Dark Lord, no...the very thought was ridiculous.
Desdemona, if anything, would be far more competent should she fall to power lust.
It was, admittedly, a thought which occupied his mind more and more these days.
Narcissa called his worries foolish, and perhaps she was right, but it was a parent's prerogative to worry over their children, wasn't it? And worry he did, so very often, though he might not show it. Narcissa alone might know the depth of concern for his children...and their futures. As Lucius stepped into his daughter's 'private' study, he eyed the various stacks of carefully categorized and sorted notes, books, and stray parchment sheets throughout the room as if each and every one contained a valuable clue which would reveal the truth of the room's primary occupant.
The adult wizard's eyes grew distant as he absently scanned over what few tomes on the bookshelf possessed titles, though Lucius himself could not read but half of those selfsame titles. Would that his father had purchased language lessons. Most were ancient beyond recall, such that they would have been caked in inch-thick dust save for the diligent house elves of the Malfoy family. Even now, the pages would have likely crumbled under the weight of time without the enchantments which he knew lined the very shelves they rested upon.
The large oaken furniture piece laden with magic had been a gift for his daughter's sixth Christmas after she had complained of having to lug the thick books to and from the library.
Draco had asked for a training broom.
A slight twitch of his lips was all that betrayed his internal amusement.
The pointer finger of his outstretched arm touched a book to pull it free, his selection having been made from a
row which would be of height approximate to his daughter's own stature, when-
-a shrill whistle resounded in the room, filling the space with noise, shooting Lucius' blood pressure through the roof as long-honed instincts left a deadly curse half-formed on his lips, his wand directed at the offending object.
At the last moment, he regained his senses and snapped off a silencing charm.
In the aftermath of that awful din, the room seemed almost alarmingly quiet. Into that silence, Lucius directed his distemper and irritated scowl.
"Don't be so alarmist, Lucius," the wizard mocked quietly, narrowing his eyes, "a sneakoscope is a perfectly innocent gift. Desdemona probably wants it to defend from Draco's little pranks."
He sighed tiredly, shaking his head.
"Even if I agreed with the sentiment a year ago," Lucius whispered, "I still don't understand why my dearest wife had to select the model usually ordered by professional aurors."
"Perhaps because I felt the need to spoil our daughter somewhat, dearest husband. Merlin knows you are free enough with the gold when called upon for new Quidditch gear for our son," a sharp voice retorted from the doorway.
Lucius stiffened as his hand tightened around his wand, but he restrained the impulse to snap the magical focus towards the speaker.
Slowly, his countenance serene and guiltless, Lucius turned to face his wife, a raised eyebrow delicately perched higher than its fellow. "Narcissa...you're home early."
A slightly ironic smile graced her features. "Indeed Lucius, with the children away at their respective engagements today, I felt I would surprise you. We do so seldom get to spend a day alone together."
Lucius swallowed dryly at the smoldering gaze his significant other threw his way.
A long moment passed as they regarded each other.
"Alas," Narcissa bemoaned with an overdone cry, "I arrive home to find you entangled in the affairs of another woman. Wherever shall such a scorned woman turn?"
Lucius, if questioned later, would have denied the entire ensuing conversation took place, but he would have especially denied that he rolled his eyes. "Narcissa, sweetling, you know I'm just concerned about our daughter's reading habits. I don't think the theatricality is really necessary, do you?"
"Theatricality?" Narcissa asked shortly as Lucius winced. "If you'd like theatricality, I'd refer you shortly to your own misstep, Lucius. You are spying on a nine-year-old. You've invaded your daughter's privacy without her consent and are set to rifle through her belongings. Such inanities belong in a bad stage drama rather than our household. How is that for theatricality?"
"Narcissa, even you must admit that there are dangerous books in the library, books that Desdemona-" Lucius began.
"-is very careful not to touch. She contents herself with the moldering histories and dramas stacked away for Circe knows how many centuries. The only magical tomes she cracks are the standard-issue Hogwarts texts, a specific few she has purchased under either of our own watch, or the selected sections of the library which you, yourself, have approved," Narcissa explained painstakingly.
"It is in any child's nature to test their boundaries," Lucius rallied valiantly.
"Which she does," Narcissa sighed, "but not in this specific arena. You know this, Lucius. I am still waiting for an explanation of your true motives."
Lucius shook his head, looking around the room as he tried desperately to find validation of his own gut feelings. Truthfully, he had no motive other than some nebulous and unfocused urge that something was...odd regarding his daughter. Sighing again, Lucius approached the primary work desk of the room, leaving his wife standing in the doorway without an answer. The witch in question growled an inarticulate, aggravated noise in the back of her throat and, with resignation, followed her husband into the room.
Idly, she looked over the carefully ordered chaos of her daughter's workplace.
Although books dominated the landscape, various other trinkets and personal belongings lined the room. Along with six bookshelves and a set of large and comfortable chairs, three different desks were arrayed around the room as well, each of a different model. The desk Lucius stood before was flat and wide, a writer's desk. The other two were a cartographer's desk and an artisan's stationary desk.
The last of these was a beautiful maple construction with an adjustable tabletop, able to change the degree of elevation the individual could work at as well as the angle of the incline. There were clasps in place to hold the parchment flat against the desk's surface as well a large hollow on either side to hold a variety of inks, quills, and other associated art implements.
Currently, a large sheet of extremely fine parchment sat pinned to the top of the desk, covered with extensive designs, lettering, and bold colors. The calligraphy was masterfully straight on the unlined parchment, all of the letters equally spaced and perfectly defined with nary a splotch or smudge on the entire sheet. The page bore a decorative border done in green and black with accents in silver, bronze, and purple. Further decorations containing winding snakes, winged dragons, and the occasional raven perched on great thorny branches that overlaid the entire design.
The centerpiece of the page was an enormous vivid green and black coat of arms bearing a signature 'M' in the brightest silver ink she'd ever seen. The space immediately beneath was likewise a bright silver, with careful black lettering spelling out, 'Sanctimonia Vincet Semper,' the Malfoy family creed.
Further below, the first sentence of the first paragraph also bore an elaborate letter, enlarged far beyond the standard font of the remainder of the page. It was done in the same style as those terribly old books Desdemona liked to read, the ones she'd called 'illuminated manuscripts.' Ensconced within the enlarged 'O' was a robed figure holding a simple crown in one hand, a poised wand in the other, standing before an empty golden throne while smaller figures knelt before the vacant seat of power.
In comparatively simple, though still elegant, calligraphy, the passage read thus:
"Of a family with so rich a history, there is much that can be said. It is the aim of this text to, if not to provide a complete accounting of this family, then at least to give a comprehensive description of its nobility in bearing, the pride of its history, and place within the world in which we live. Beyond these standards, though, is the essence of what it is to be a Malfoy, to stand tall and proud in such difficult times as have felled lesser individuals. It is the hope of she who pens this work that, in putting this history to a less ephemeral medium than transient human memory, that not only shall it be preserved, but also serve to provide an accounting for later generations of the weight their decisions must bear when they take up the mantle of a member of this family. To be a Malfoy is to cast aside all doubt, weakness, and hesitance; to be a Malfoy is to be possessed of purity of mind, body, and action...for in that, Purity Will Always Conquer."
"Lucius," Narcissa breathed, a finger trailing in the air above the page, entranced by the minute detail of the imagery and vivid colors. Even as she stared, she felt the silent presence of her husband step into the space next to her. "Desdemona...she, is this her work?"
"If I recall correctly," Lucius commented in a slightly stunned voice, "It was you who took her to Diagon Alley last month. Didn't Desdemona insist on a stop at Scribbulus Everchanging Inks?"
"It's beautiful," Narcissa crooned. "To think she spent an entire month on this...I had wondered why her fingers were so stained recently. Honestly, trying attend Justinius Harper's birthday with green stains all over her hands..."
"Indeed," Lucius agreed. "I was wondering what form the compilation of her research was going to take, though I hadn't known she was so...talented in the visual arts as well as the musical."
"She did enjoy painting so when she was younger," Narcissa smiled fondly, her eyes distant. "I suppose she's kept up a steady hand at least, with all those runes."
Lucius made a noise resembling a low grunt. Only resembling, mind you, because Malfoys did not debase themselves so much as to grunt. "I will repeat my protest that she is far too young to be learning magic of any sort."
"Lucius," Narcissa sighed, "Let your daughter have her fun. Half the enjoyment she derives from her studies is their furtive nature. Children enjoy being secretive, you know that. If you take her rune studies away from her for no apparent reason, you'll be in danger of causing the very thing you fear. How long do you think until she'll, what was it you said? 'Test her boundaries?' As long as she doesn't injure herself, I think it's far more beneficial to allow her these little 'secrets'."
Lucius sighed, understanding that this was yet another iteration of the same argument which he always lost. Of course, Narcissa didn't win many of the arguments centered around Draco, either. The boy was always asking for new and faster brooms, or the latest set of gobstones, or even the newest deck of exploding snap cards. More seldom, Draco sought him out for Quidditch game tickets, a visit to Diagon Alley, or an interesting new book.
Perhaps they were too indulgent as parents? Lucius would sneer at those lower class twits who criticized their parenting. It was almost pointless to deny a child of their society anything when they would grow to inherit the money to acquire that which they'd been disallowed in their youth. It was more sensible, in his opinion, to let them have all but the truly insane requests and allow them to learn how to deal with the temptations of wealth while they were still young.
Maybe that was why he didn't argue overmuch with Narcissa when she bought their daughter some new book or enchanted toy?
Lucius shook his head and turned back to the large writing desk he'd been pondering over before Narcissa had drawn him away to look at Desdemona's most conclusive proof of her genius yet. If anything, though, the beautifully intricate page resting on the artisan's desk made him more anxious about his daughter.
She seemed to be everything he'd ever wanted as a child, everything he'd ever wished for in a legacy.
It scared him, honestly.
To consider that Desdemona was every inch the wonder-child he bragged she was...did she have no faults? No weaknesses? She was mature, well-behaved, intelligent, cunning, politically savvy...it just all seemed too good to be true. Even the fact she was studying magic ahead of her years, a dangerous undertaking by any means, was proof that she was taking all proper precautions given none of her endeavors had exploded yet.
Perhaps that was why he had invaded her privacy today? To look for proof she had something of a normal child in her rather than the seeming perfection that glossed over nearly every aspect of her identity.
Lucius sighed and pulled free the last drawer of the writer's desk, carefully extracting a bound sheaf of notes before blinking.
The quiet shuffling of parchment filled the next few moments, the lord of Malfoy Manor's eyes flickering through a long list of names and dates tied to genealogical information. Lowly, he began to chuckle.
"Lucius?" Narcissa prompted from where she had pulled a hardbound book free from a shelf and was studying it.
"Severus, Narcissa." Lucius laughed. "I have to hand it to him. I'd heard the ministry was attempting to seize some family's assets, though I wasn't aware his were in danger. I imagine the ministry's office of inheritance has tied him up in months of paperwork and a few truly ghastly fees, all so that they can remove legal recourse for legitimizing his right to the Prince family holdings. They've also cracked down on the usual third-rate hacks a fellow can get to forge a passable family tree for them."
Narcissa stared at him for a long moment before realization flared in her eyes.
"No," she smiled, "surely Severus isn't so desperate as to ask a child for help in something like this?"
"He is somewhat...overdrawn on favors at the moment," Lucius sneered. "I imagine Desdemona was something of a last hope before coming to Dumbledore or myself. I daresay if she does half as well on his as the Malfoy family history she is preparing, it would pass any sort of ministry examination easily."
Narcissa snorted daintily as she looked over her husband's shoulder.
Unlike the exquisite detail and decoration in the earlier page, the document Lucius held in his hands was comparatively plain. Yes, the print was neat and fastidiously perfect, but it lacked any true ornamentation beyond the most basic borders and pictures. Still, the pages held a definite note of professionalism to them, obviously the work of a steady hand and focused intellect.
"Who do you think Severus will contact to officiate it?" Narcissa asked curiously.
"If memory serves," Lucius hummed, "Rosier owes our dear potions professor a certain debt from years ago. I believe Rosier, in turn, has a cousin who works in the department as a clerk."
Lucius sighed and shook his head. His daughter had taken a commission from someone outside their family without consulting either himself or Narcissa. No doubt Serverus had offered a hefty bribe for her services...perhaps he would look into it, perhaps not.
As Lucius placed the sheaf of papers back into their drawer and made sure to remove any trace of his presence, he grinned slightly. So many parents would be angry or betrayed by their child so obviously flouting their authority and not informing them of such a deal. Lucius did not rank himself among those other parents. If anything, it was...relieving to find that Desdemona had done something so...childish and disobedient.
Well, no...it wasn't quite a childish act of rebellion, but for a girl with Desdemona's abilities and intelligence, it was probably the closest he would ever get.
"Oh my," Narcissa said suddenly, looking down at her feet where a folded piece of parchment had dropped from the book she was holding. "What's this?"
"Is that one of Desdemona's journals, dear wife?" Lucius asked, a platinum blond eyebrow raised in curiosity.
Narcissa had the grace to flush. "It isn't as though I can read much of it, Lucius. The better part of it is Old English with fragments in what I think are French and Gaelic. I don't think-" Narcissa's jaw dropped as she stared at the parchment in silence, her mouth working as her eyes grew terribly wide.
"Narcissa?" Lucius pressed, almost instantly alarmed. "Narcissa?! What in Merlin's name-"
Jerking the unfolded sheet from her hand, Lucius's scrolled over the first line and stopped dead.
The first item which registered was the note's readable contents, it being in the proper modern English of the current day. The second thought that came to mind was the comparatively lazy scrawl of the calligraphy. Where the previous examples he had seen of his daughter's script were precise and clean beyond her years, this was obviously written in an absent-minded manner and been, perhaps even accidentally, folded and slid into a journal by near-accident.
Considerations on Becoming a Dark/Light Lady
Recruitment and Indoctrination of Subordinates, Followers, & Foot Soldiers
Magical United Kingdom provides large groups of disenfranchised beings willing to serve a charismatic leader with promise of eventual awards when regime change is accomplished.
Many individuals likely to be wary if certain 'dark' or non-human groups recruited: werewolves, vampires, centaurs, goblins, etc... Utilization of both non-human and wizarding groups on an equal basis problematic and impractical.
Restriction of possible recruits to human wizards/witches disallows for sizable numerical advantage, but limits possible complications in establishment of new regime.
Establishment of Political Powerbase
As noted: Disenfranchised groups looking for leadership in many sectors of society. Groups most likely to accept offers of delayed reimbursement for loyalty are those which see themselves as 'persecuted.'
Purebloods: Rising support for Muggleborn agendas sees removal of traditional 'pureblood' seats of power and ministry positions. Exploitation Possible.
Muggleborns: Lack of upward mobility and 'glass ceiling' for individuals in both ministry and private businesses alienates societal outliers. Exploitation Possible.
Non-human Sources of Political Power: Extensive trust issues with potential human ruler due to historical tensions with human witches/wizards. Additionally, betrayal likely during establishment of new regime and creation of a government based largely or wholly on non-human magical beings problematic in foreign recognition. Exploitation Implausible.
Logistical, Strategic, & Tactical Notations
Magical United Kingdom infrastructure, citizenry, and militarily important locations extensively decentralized due to Statute of Secrecy. Hit and run tactics in previous Wizarding War grounded in feasibility. Use of Covert Collaborators to hold financial, geographical, and population centers remains a sound doctrine.
Standing 'Army' of witches/wizards in violation of 1689 Vatican Treaty and difficulties arise in complying with Secrecy. Likely foreign involvement in case of Secrecy breach creates unnecessary complications.
Military campaigns in current political climate likely to create rapid response in form of auror action. In combination with the previously noted decentralized structure means a military campaign to assume control of British Ministry of Magic would be extremely problematic and unfeasible.
Inability to seize and hold territory would likely lead to prolonged campaign to assure political dominance through shows of magical ability/terror/awe or extended small-scale conflicts. See prior Wizarding War.
Decapitation of Ministry of Magic personnel possible, though new regime faces questions of legitimacy, uprisings, and passive rebellion against authority.
Reactionary Movements, Government Response, & Resistance Fighters
Military action to assume control of region implies substantial casualties, larger casualty counts in extended campaigns correlates with increasing resentment towards newly established ruling class.
Recent Wizarding War establishes plausibility for speedy response of government forces. Attacks on followers and positions of strength allow for disruption of military structure and loss of faith in ruling ability if sufficient allied casualties mount.
Early establishment of political movement to recruit forces may incite political counter-movement. Opposition structure likely to be backbone of support for established government.
Assuming victory, the government faces difficulties in controlling populace and stamping out resistance movements. Terror campaign or totalitarian regime possibly effective at maintaining control, though new complications arise.
Long-Term establishment of educational controls, political indoctrination from young ages, and seizure of public assets high priority.
Political & Ideological Enemies
Opposition movements to both political and combative movements provides opportunity to consolidate aims, goals, and commitment to cause. Utilize tactics aimed at alienating enemies, creating perceptions of 'sub-human' status among non-believers of group doctrine.
Loss of life, particularly valuable intelligent, productive, and creative individuals disruptive to social, magical, and artistic advancement. Other desirable individuals may emigrate to countries not experiencing internal hostilities. Important Drawback.
Media Control and Public Relations: Domination of the Masses
Ability to influence public of high priority to legitimization of both movement and regime. Use of news media to dictate perceptions of both friendly and hostile groups of paramount importance. Seizure of Daily Prophet or elevation of alternative business to a competitive bracket should precede military engagements. Caution towards government interference of media control.
Implications for Long-Term Plans and Goals
Shortest possible successful campaign estimated at eight years. Earliest possible commencement of such a campaign estimated at age of majority. Likelihood of success using these factors and assuming a best-case scenario below seventieth percentile.
Complete occupation of resources for duration of conflict demands a near-complete cessation of all research for a minimum time period equal to hostilities, but probably exceeding a decade.
Personal Desires, Lifestyle, & Obligations for a Ruling Monarch
Occupation of personal time and resources a likely result of extended hostilities. If victorious, administrative duties and marshaling of political forces against terrorist/freedom fighter movements promises to consume near-total sum of free time.
Personal objectives/plans/goals do not necessarily benefit from martial activities and may, in fact, complicate matters considerably. Prolonged conflict implies exposure to extreme mental/physical/emotional stress for long periods which may be problematic to continued good health.
As the initiator of conflict, burden or moral and ethical proof of conflict's necessity rests on my shoulders. Total cost of hostilities measured in lives lost, financial ruin, destruction of personal credibility in many areas ultimately lead to the fact that a military campaign of any sort in the magical world is to be avoided at all costs, let alone a prolonged civil conflict.
Pursuit of Social, Legal, Judicial, Educational, Governmental, & Ideological Reform should be carried out in as peaceable a manner as possible given the final considerations on the difficulties of instituting a totalitarian regime as a 'Dark/Light Lady.'
Lucius closed his eyes for a long moment, took a deep breath, and opened them once again.
The extraordinarily detailed list remained in his hand, the careful script unchanged.
Lord Malfoy's breath began to waver as he took shuddering breaths in and out. Narcissa's eyes slowly shifted to her husband as Lucius' gasping quickened. In moments, the normally reserved and stoic man was desperately laughing loudly, his eyes tearing up. The swirling cloud of emotions within him was too confused to give name to anyone, even as he dropped the sheet to the ground and swept Narcissa into a searing kiss.
Lucius' wife made an awkward and muffled squawk before succumbing to the frenzied affection.
In Bad Faith
Hours later, both Malfoy adults lay in bed, covered only by the thinnest of silken sheets as Narcissa's flushed face rested on Lucius' sweat-bedecked chest. All was quiet in the aftermath of a reenactment of a particularly risque scene of Narcissa's favorite Harlequin romance novels. Into the silence, she had to restrain a giggle.
"I...suppose I should apologize for being so sudden." Lucius suddenly voiced, averting his gaze in embarrassment.
Narcissa snorted coquettishly and playfully slapped her husband. "Lucius, don't be a ninny, that was the most fun we've had in ages."
Lucius coughed slightly and nodded, acceding to the summation of their recent activities.
"You know..." Narcissa started, "Desdemona has been dropping hints that Regulus and his children are traveling to Italy again. It seems as though the mother of my dear cousin's dalliances has been very ill. They are worried she might pass on. Desdemona would like to be there to support her friends, I imagine."
Lucius made a considering sound.
"I'm...not sure it is wise," Narcissa sighed, "given the missive we discovered today, to allow her such liberties. We may also need to see about restricting her reading and-"
"Narcissa..." Lucius sighed, interrupting her. "Do you know why I kissed you?"
His wife blinked, taken aback by the tangent.
"It's because I was, and am, happy." Lucius answered himself. "It's because Desdemona has put to rest a great worry I had. There has been a gleam of intelligence in her eyes from such a young age. It...I was afraid for her, Narcissa. I was afraid she would repeat my mistakes. But, as in all things, our daughter has risen above expectations. She understands that our world cannot face another Dark Lord lest it be destroyed. Draco...he still sees the glory of pureblood dominance, the fragile ideals we held to in our early days, and the youthful fire that compels him to act on them, but he does not have the raw intelligence or the nascent charisma to act on them. Desdemona...I envy her. Would that I had been half as wise when I was twice her age."
"Lucius," Narcissa replied, her tone unsure. "It is not normal for a child to consider things of this nature."
"Perhaps not," Lucius consented. "But would you rather see her follow in my footsteps...or worse? In his?"
There was silence for a time, though Narcissa felt a cold chill sweep over her in that quiet. The Dark Lord's rise, the ensuing war...they had not been pleasant times. To know that your child had even thought about returning to such a terrible era was horrifying. To understand that she had coolly and clinically looked such terrors and temptations in the eye and turned away? There weren't words for it.
"I suppose a trip to Italy would at least get her nose out of those moldering old books," Narcissa sighed at last.