Tangible Schizophrenia


The Black Road V: The Bed You Made

Author: Guede Mazaka
Rating: R. Violence, some semi-noncon groping.
Pairing: Harry/Lucius
Feedback: Good lines, typos, etc.
Disclaimer: These characters are J. K. Rowling’s, not mine.
Notes: AU. Does refer to all the books up to HP:HBP, and does not draw on the movies except for visuals (because the only one I ever saw was the first).
Summary: Switching allegiances is a messy business.


“Therefore have I poured out mine indignation upon them; I have consumed them with the fire of my wrath: their own way have I recompensed upon their heads, saith the Lord GOD.”
--Ezekiel 22:31

* * *

As it turned out, Draco wasn’t the only one who’d been graced with a visit from very-not-dead Harry. While Lupin was gravely explaining his encounter, the wards rippled and everyone tensed. A second later, Fred Weasley walked in and of course then they had to hear his story.

“I don’t know what he is, but…I didn’t feel right around him,” Fred finished. He slumped in a chair next to his brother Charlie and shakily reached for the mug someone handed him—George, Draco belatedly recognized. Fred’s twin had several more scars than he’d borne the last time Draco had seen him.

“I fear he has little in common with the Harry we knew.” Lupin rose and stared out the grimy panes of the tiny kitchen window. His hands kneaded the edge of the sink. “The wolf was afraid of him. Afraid and…so are the people standing in this room the only ones who’ve seen him so far?”

Draco rattled his cigarette pack: he was down to two or three. No chance that any of the others carried the brand he preferred, or that he’d be able to continue purchasing it, but he’d have to get something. Giving up Voldemort and whiskey in the same night already were more than enough sacrifices for his system to handle. “You, Fred, George, me…I have the impression Harry’s dropped in on my father and Avery, but I don’t think Voldemort will let them spread the word.”

“Hermione was with George, but she’s having a…” Fred winced and rocked his hand from side-to-side. “Be a while before she starts talking to people again, I reckon. She’s in the books now.”

“Then I suggest we keep this under wraps. Harry seems to have his own agenda, and until we know what it is, we can’t chance contact with him. We’ve got too many people at risk,” Lupin said. He pushed away from the sink and poured himself a glass of water from a dingy white china pitcher with a cracked lip that trickled all over the table. “Draco. Are you sure you can’t go back?”

Lack of cigarettes be damned. There was no way Draco was getting through the next few minutes without some kind of comfort, and nicotine was currently it. He lit one up and pretended he wasn’t worrying about the impending withdrawal period. “Even if Harry keeps his mouth shut—which he’s got no reason to do that I can see—my father’s in deep disgrace with Voldemort now. He’s worried. He tried to banish me to the Manor, and you know once I’m there, I’m past your reach.”

“Well, you can’t stay here,” George snapped. His eyes flicked to Draco’s arm. “It’s a wonder Voldemort hasn’t already used you to raid this place.”

Draco blew a perfect smoke ring in Weasley’s face. George made an aborted step towards Draco, but was held back by his brother. Before he could shake himself free, Lupin had interposed himself between Draco and them.

“You will have to go,” Lupin quietly said. “We can offer you other safe-houses, but you can’t use any that we use. If we knew how Snape managed to keep Voldemort from using the Mark to track him to Order Meetings when he—when we thought he was on our side—”

Oh, bloody typical. For all that they claimed to be the good, upstanding, rally-round-the-fort side, the resistance was just as quick to fall back on self-preservation as the Death-Eaters were. It wasn’t surprising, but it still stung. “That’s fine,” Draco drawled. “I need to pick up some more fags anyway.”

George rolled his eyes and stage-whispered something about double meanings and slumming aristocrats, which Lupin drowned out by virtue of taking Draco by the arm and hauling him into the hallway. He stopped them near the door and glanced slowly around before he released Draco. The light was dim, but Draco still thought he saw Lupin’s nostrils flaring.

“I suppose they’re upset I left their baby sister in my father’s clutches. Well, do remind them that I offered, but she turned me down flat,” Draco said. He knew perfectly well that snarling wasn’t going to be of any use, since Lupin would just neaten up everything before he relayed the message, but it still made Draco feel a little better.

“Harry didn’t…try to injure you at all?” Lupin asked. Apparently he wasn’t even going to bother with politeness; he’d simply ignore all the unpleasantness.

Draco shrugged and flicked ash at the scraggly potted plant by the door. “He wiped all the whiskey from my blood. Some people would consider that an injury.”

For the first time, Lupin showed a modicum of impatience. He blew out his breath and his eyes were briefly tinged with yellow. His fists curled, then uncurled at his sides.

It’d just been the full moon, so even if Granger wasn’t around to keep the leash on the werewolf, Draco wasn’t in any danger. Still, he found himself taking a step back. “No, he didn’t. Fred interrupted, and then…I don’t know, maybe Harry was late for his next appointment.”

“Which is why he sat down and stole your cigarettes, as you so pointedly told us,” Lupin dryly commented. He glanced down the hall again, then slipped his hand into his pocket. When he took it out, he was holding a ring so blackened with grime that it was impossible to tell what it was made of. He passed it to Draco in a very curious manner, holding it carefully by the stone or seal decorating it. “Black family heirloom.”

Draco took it just as delicately from Lupin and scratched at it till he’d uncovered the glint of gold and the Black crest. He wrinkled his nose. “Checked it over, I’d hope.”

“It’s a Portkey.” Lupin put both his hands in his pockets, but instead of assuming his characteristic slouch, he straightened. He always appeared too thin, but now the threadbare nature of his clothing momentarily strained over whipcord muscles, a reminder that he wasn’t quite so frail in truth. “Of a kind, anyway. It’s something Hermione came up with the last time she—after her parents were killed. It’s thought-activated, so you can wear it. It’ll take you somewhere neither the Death-Eaters nor we should be able to reach.”

“Number Twelve Grimmauld,” Draco suddenly realized. He nearly dropped the damn ring. “I thought Harry destroyed it rather than let it fall into my aunt’s hands.”

Shaking his head, Lupin took a step back. He half-turned, then retreated a little further. “No, he…there was no time. He meant to, but all we could manage was to lock it down. Then he died, and the house seemed to disappear. Hermione made this in an attempt to get access to it again, but it didn’t work.”

Which begged the question of why Lupin was now giving it to Draco, but one possible answer was fairly obvious. “But you tried it again and it works now.”

“In a way. It’s too unwelcome a place for us to use.” The shadows of the hall slid sideways and then snapped back as somewhere outside, a car went down the road. It should’ve been well into morning by now, but the light half-barring Lupin’s face still had the hard cast of artificial bulbs, and not the wan softness of dawn. His eyes, for all their coolness, were far brighter. “There’s something else. Someone’s been there—”

Draco raised his eyebrow. It was a reflex, because the rest of him was spectacularly staggered with disbelief and thus was unable to produce any more appropriate reaction. “So you’re expecting me to go to ground in a hellhole even you can’t stand, in hopes of…what? Talking some sense into Potter? Why don’t you—well, I can understand you not wanting to go there, given how I understand your relationship to Black was, but you could always drag in Gran—”

Lupin produced a sound. Actually, it would’ve been more accurate to say he produced an effect, because the low, rolling snarling didn’t make itself heard in Draco’s ears so much as through the way it vibrated his bones. The other man’s eyes flashed yellow. “Draco, you’re on your own. This and the house in Whitechapel are the only places you know where to reach us, and I doubt Voldemort will take you back this time, even with your father’s influence. Go there or live on the street till he finds you.”

For a moment Draco stared. Then he became aware of the fact that his cigarette had burned down dangerously close to his lip, and he hastily snatched away to put it out. The small breather allowed his sense of gallows humor, by now very well-developed, to catch up with him. He snickered to himself. “Don’t tell me you expect me to spy on Harry for you. That’s absurd.”

“So is this entire world, but we still live in it,” Lupin said. He leaned one shoulder against the wall and pushed at his hair, looking tired. “He obviously didn’t intend to see me or Fred or George—those were accidents. He deliberately visited you, of all people, but didn’t injure you. I expect you were your usual self then, and don’t expect you to do anything else.”

“I’m flattered, really, but I don’t think that’ll bring back the old Harry,” Draco replied. He fumbled out his last cigarette and stared at it. The likelihood that number twelve Grimmauld Place would have any source of nicotine was very, very slight.

He lit up. If one couldn’t be short-sighted when the known world was being ripped from the walls to expose the void behind, when could one?

“That wasn’t what I had in mind.” Lupin was so very clearly lying; werewolves might be Dark creatures, but the desperate hope shone from him like candlelight refracting off a steel bowl. “You’re not useful standing around here, Draco. I don’t know what your reasons for helping us are, but I do know that we can afford no allowances for waste.”

That hurt. It hurt, but at least it pointed Draco in the direction of what to do instead of simply excoriating him because he wasn’t living up to some unknown standard. And he supposed he was curious himself about Potter’s actions. He also retained a reasonably strong desire to live, but only if he could do so in a way that would make something of him. Dying while trying to learn about the greatest Dark power since Voldemort probably would fit the bill.

“I don’t suppose I could have some supplies before I go, or am I to fend for myself in that respect as well?” Draco finally said.

“I restocked the place, and did a little cleaning. On the off-chance that…” With a shrug, Lupin turned completely around. Apparently he believed Draco would go.

Draco was tempted not to, and furthermore to aim his wand at Lupin’s exposed back out of sheer perversity, but that was an old habit whose back had been broken during the past years of living in disfavor. He restrained himself to sneering once at the other man before he slid the ring onto his finger and signaled for it to take him away.

* * *

Over the past week, Lucius had feverishly ransacked his library for even the smallest references that might elucidate horcruxes or Harry Potter’s resurrection. It was slightly calmer than walking out to deal with his wife, who was stepping up her attempts to distance herself from him in Voldemort’s eyes, or his sister-in-law, who was carrying on a near-war with Greyback. The werewolf hadn’t merely escorted Lucius home, but had also installed himself in a ground-floor guestroom. When asked for an explanation, he’d referred Lucius to Voldemort and Voldemort had silkily informed Lucius that Greyback would be “guarding” him till further notice.

Draco wasn’t home, and while Lucius more or less knew that his son had gone over to the resistance, he hadn’t the slightest clue where. He was allowed to request any book he wanted from any library within Voldemort’s territories, but he was carefully kept in the dark as to current developments. Even Narcissa, who was absolutely incensed at Draco’s defection, never let slip any news during her rants.

Lucius chose to take that as a good sign. If Draco had been found, they would have been sure to rub that into Lucius’ nose as further evidence of how he’d failed as a leader.

Nevertheless, the lack of information was maddening and only provided him more impetus for throwing himself into his research. And finally, finally he picked up an obscure reference that sounded familiar, and managed to follow it till he found something.

Horcruxes. Containers of divided souls. As long as one part remained on the earth, its owner was not truly dead—so this was Voldemort’s idea of defying death. If Lucius had known sooner, he would have made some very different decisions: the entire concept was utterly crass, obviously rooted in the mudblood peasant personality. It was like the immortal version of penny-pinching.

Lucius threw himself back in his seat and stared blankly at the page till his vision blurred. He knew Voldemort was keeping tabs on his progress, as Potter had intended. Early on, Lucius had left the library to sleep and returned in the morning to find his notes and books rearranged; since then he’d Transfigured the library couch into a bed, but he still sometimes woke to find short, coarse grey hairs scattered on the parchment sheets.

There was little he could do about that, save try to find out as much as he could during the day so he might have a chance of acting on it before he had to sleep and his minders came to look in on his work. Horcruxes were very obscure black magic; how to create them was in none of the books Lucius looked through, and so he guessed that piece of knowledge had been what Voldemort had traded his soul for: Lucifer must have been laughing at the idea that someone could cut a deal with him for a way to free themselves from that deal.

Harry had said three Horcruxes had been destroyed, one of them himself—which explained why he had appeared before Lucifer when he’d died. Lucius hazarded a guess that one of the other two had been Tom Riddle’s diary, given Voldemort’s fury when he’d learned what Lucius had done with it.

The last of the three might have been whatever Dumbledore had found at the Gaunts’ ruined house. Shortly after the headmaster had visited the place, Voldemort had ordered Macnair to lead a team there and had been enraged when they’d come back empty-handed. And afterward, Draco had noted to Lucius that Dumbledore’s hand appeared to be crippled.

Lucifer’s collecting also explained why Voldemort hadn’t simply been able to create new ones and had thrown such fierce rages after one was destroyed. But then, if Harry was one…Severus’ point about Voldemort letting the Death-Eaters kill him still presented an irregularity.

Unless—Lucius pulled the book towards him and rapidly flipped through the heavy vellum pages till he reached the one dealing with effects of making horcruxes out of living creatures. The soul-shard would remain active and independent, but there was always the possibility that it would merge to some extent with the soul of its host. Especially if the host-soul shared similarities…and attempting to bribe Lucifer with the soul of an innocent was a common motif in folklore concerning wizards and witches who tried to gain extensions on their contracts with the Devil. In which case the irregularity was explained, and Lucius was rather astounded at how stupid his chosen leader had been.

“Lucius!” The library doors burst open and banged into the walls so hard that a tremor went through the shelves. It was quite an accomplishment, given that each door weighed several hundred pounds. “Lucius, I cannot stand that mangy—”

Even with a full snit propelling her, it would take Bellatrix several minutes to make it through the maze of shelves and mysteriously-shifting ladders. That was more than enough time for Lucius to send the books he’d been reading back to their places and silently exit through one of the large bay windows.

He walked briskly across the lawn, while behind him Bella’s shrieking slowly faded. Some days he wished that the aristocratic tradition did not include offering hospitality to certain members of the extended family. Rodolphus had been killed in an unusually successful resistance attack several months ago, and Bella crippled in another attack a few weeks later, which left her on Lucius’ hands. Personally, he thought the damned woman was too excessive and should have been dealt with years ago.

“Out for a tour of the grounds?” Greyback slipped out from behind a bush, wearing his usual feral smile. His eyes glittered as he fell into step besides Lucius.

“You’ve upset dear Bella,” Lucius said, withdrawing as much as he could. He glanced towards the house, but Narcissa was not in any of the rooms on this side.

The other man laughed. He moved with a peculiar lope, sometimes going ahead of Lucius only to try and circle back behind. When he tried that, Lucius was always careful to change their trajectory so Greyback had to settle for beside. Lucius still wasn’t positive that Greyback was here to assassinate him if Voldemort deemed that necessary, but he thought it a good possibility.

“That bitch doesn’t know what she’s missing. Funny, you purebloods—you’ll do whatever you like, but someone asks if they can share in the fun and if they’ve not got the right parents, you’re horrified,” Greyback rasped. He rolled his head about in a strangely liquid manner, like a beast stretching its muscles before diving at its downed prey. “Thought she might want some comforting, what with her husband dead and all.”

The disgust Lucius felt at the idea of it was almost palpable. Crack-brained as Bellatrix was, she still was a Black by blood and a Lestrange by marriage, and this creature was contemplating…but there was no point in giving Greyback the satisfaction. He’d probably done it with the expectation of their revulsion. “Bella’s held her head up through worse.”

“As she took great pleasure in informing me. Still, pity.” Greyback laughed again, his red tongue coming out to flick lewdly about his lips. He abruptly slid his eyes towards Lucius. “And how are you, Malfoy? Wife seems a bit cold nowadays, son’s run off to be a little traitorous bastard…”

Lucius felt his jaw tighten at the mention of Draco. He pointedly looked away and over the grounds, walking towards their edge. Fairy rings were springing up all over the farther reaches; Narcissa had been keeping a slacker hand on the gardeners. If that weren’t immediately rectified, Lucius would have a damned pixie infestation on top of everything else.

Then again, perhaps it wasn’t Narcissa’s fault. Something thin and twisted that was poking out from a bush, like a moldy branch, caught Lucius’ eye and he went over to investigate. When he pushed aside the leaves, he found the mangled remains of a house-elf.

“Your great victory over Potter’s been turned upside-down…I do wonder how you sleep at night,” Greyback drawled, sauntering up beside Lucius.

“I would appreciate, Fenrir, if you would refrain from abusing my household staff. You and I seemed to be on good enough terms in the past for you to respect them.” That was an understatement. The goddamned hairy monster owed his life several times over to Lucius, but of course that had been conveniently forgotten. “Though the concern over my sleep is quite kind of you, I am fine. I’m rather preoccupied with carrying out the duty Voldemort’s assigned to me.”

Lucius let the branches snap back in place and continued on in a direct line for the very boundary of his lands. He soon outdistanced Greyback, but he knew better than to think that was due to anything on his part. But since he was interested in drawing out Fenrir’s true mission here, he played along for the moment.

He had to admit he was also frustrated and unwilling to deal with close-range contact right now; he was used to being able to roam at will, to be at the center of any great movement, and this enforced isolation grated on him. He didn’t even know how Severus’ half was coming along—or if Severus was in fact obeying Harry. Circumstances were such that Lucius’ best chances lay with Potter, at least for the foreseeable future, but Severus never had such a straightforward personal agenda.

When Lucius stopped, putting his cane down just inside of the grounds’ boundary, he stood behind a small stand of trees that blocked most of the manor from view. He unclipped his wand from his cane and checked on Greyback’s position: the werewolf was ranging around about two hundred yards away, probably terrorizing the wildlife while he left Lucius to sulk. Which Lucius had no intention of—

--he lifted his hand, then stumbled back so hard that he bumped the end of his cane against a half-buried rock. It jogged up against his palm before bouncing completely out of his grip and falling across the boundary.

Harry stooped and picked it up, casually tossing it from hand to hand. “’lo, Malfoy. Where’re the legions of hellhounds and trolls that are supposed to keep non-purebloods from getting within a foot of this place? Or was Draco just making that up?”

Lucius still had his wand, however much good that might do. He backed up a yard so he was out of lunging distance. “The hellhounds wouldn’t pose much of a challenge to you now, would they?”

“Oh, your sense of humor’s back,” Harry said, a dangerous laugh bubbling up through his voice. He planted the cane on the ground and leaned on it till he was almost over the boundary line. “What? Not going to ask me in for tea while we’re at it?”

“Return my cane and I might consider it.” The first thought that ran through Lucius’ mind was that if he invited Harry onto the grounds, Greyback might come in time and then Lucius would be restored to Voldemort’s good graces, though he’d have to share the credit. The second, saner thought he had was that even if that worked, Potter probably would kill him before the fight was over.

The jagged, malicious humor faded out of Harry’s face. “I’m not a child, Malfoy, and I’m certainly not stupid.”

No, thinking about Voldemort was merely old habit. The Dark Lord no longer was a viable option. “Fenrir Greyback is only—”

“Actually, he’s smelled something odd and should be along shortly.” Harry made a face of exaggerated disgust and waved his hand in front of his nose. “Phew. Though he really has nowhere to stand on when it comes to that.”

Lucius couldn’t help but look over his shoulder, but he still didn’t detect anyone. He probably could if he tried a spell, but he wasn’t certain Harry wouldn’t take that for a brewing attack. “If you’re going to kill him, I’d appreciate knowing. I’ll need to contact the gardeners for proper disposal of the body.”

Harry laughed again; his hair fell before his glasses in a way that would’ve been attractively rakish, if he weren’t capable of spinning Lucius’ world like a top. His amusement gradually died away again, and he cocked his head to look up at Lucius. “Christ, you’re actually serious about that. Now I see why Draco’s still such a prat.”

“You’ve seen Draco?” Lucius blurted. He caught himself and brought a hand up to press against his breastbone; his heartbeat was entirely too quick. “What have you done to him?”

After a moment, Harry drew himself up and plucked the cane out of the ground. He hiked it in his hand to wipe the dirt off the bottom. “Nothing much.” He glanced up at Lucius with raised eyebrows. “I’m telling the truth here.”

“What, exactly, does ‘much’ mean with you?” Lucius took a shaking step forward. “If you’ve—”

“Another step should do it,” Harry observed, looking at Lucius’ feet. When Lucius stopped, suddenly aware of what he’d been on the verge of doing, Harry gave him a crooked smile. Then he flipped around the cane and held it out, head-end first, to Lucius. “Come on. You want this back, right?”

Lucius eyed him, trying to read any kind of clue in Potter’s face. The cane was tantalizingly close, but he didn’t lift his hand to it. “What are you doing here? Status report? I’ve found out what a horcrux is, but I don’t know anything else. In case you’ve not noticed, your little diversion has worked perfectly—Voldemort has me watched so closely that I don’t know a damned thing.”

“Yeah, but I’m also supposed to have a strange fascination for you.” Harry’s voice dropped and thinned out in an imitation of Voldemort so accurate that Lucius nearly recoiled. Either Harry had some way of spying on Voldemort’s inner chambers or he had a frighteningly deep understanding of Voldemort’s mind and habits; neither prospect sat well with Lucius. “Wouldn’t be convincing if I didn’t show up to get at you once in a while.”

The grass at Lucius’ feet abruptly riffled. There was a slight breeze, but it was blowing in the opposite direction as the way the grass bent, which should be pointing towards the approaching Greyback. “You’ve a point.”

“And you’re taking this too well. Is that all you found out?” Harry suspiciously said. He leaned back so the cane dropped and stared at Lucius. “What are you trying to do? You’ve had a week and even if you’re being spied on…Severus hasn’t found out much either.”

“Well, Severus is probably busy,” Lucius snapped. Then he remembered, and shut his mouth while he tried to calculate what effects that piece of information would have on Potter.

Harry’s eyes narrowed. His hands twitched and Lucius reflexively stiffened, but apparently whatever rules kept Harry from crossing the boundary also kept his magic from doing so. Nothing happened.

“I do happen to know where Draco is,” Harry abruptly said. He pushed his glasses up his nose and leaned forward again. “And it’s somewhere I can get to him. He’s spying for the resistance, you know? I think Voldemort does. I think he’d be very happy to see Draco.”

Lucius’ mouth dried out. “If you did that, nothing would keep me from coming after you.”

“Except for the fact that I’ve already been to hell, and there’s absolutely nothing you could do to top what was done to me there.” Potter sounded almost bored, but the next moment he was leaning forward with burning red eyes and lips peeled back from his teeth. “Come here.”

The bastard. The coldblooded little snake—and yes, Lucius recognized the irony even as his temper seethed and he stiffly slid his wand up his sleeve. Then he walked forward so Harry could lift one hand towards him. Harry curled his fingers so only the fingertips touched Lucius’ shoulder, then stroked gently upward to graze the side of Lucius’ jaw. The cuts he’d left there had completely healed, without a trace, but when he touched the spot, parallel lines scorched down from the hinge of Lucius’ jaw to his chin.

“You just sucked in your breath,” Harry murmured. His hand moved back to twist in Lucius’ hair, drawing the long tail over Lucius’ shoulder so it fell down his chest. “You—”

Harry’s eyes didn’t even flick over Lucius’ shoulder. He gave absolutely no warning before he suddenly fisted his hand in Lucius’ hair and used it to throw both of them to the ground. Lucius broke his fall with his elbows and thrashed about to see that he’d fallen half-over the boundary; the hand in his hair yanked again so he slammed against the ground and something long and thin and hard: his cane. He grabbed it just as something roared very near and a hot, stinking wind passed over the top of him.

Then he was free. Wasting no time, Lucius rolled back over to the safe side of the boundary, then tossed his hair out of his face. He looked up just in time to see Harry bring his curled fingers down in a slashing motion at a snarling, spitting-mad Fenrir, who was stretched out beneath Harry. The sun was out now and plenty of shadows were about to hold Greyback down.

A mist of red spurted into existence and only gradually fell; Fenrir’s roar turned to a sick gurgle and then to silence.

Moving awkwardly, Harry got off the still-twitching corpse and staggered upright. He flapped his hand a couple times so chunks of gore flew from it, wandering back towards the boundary line. “All right, I’ll give you a bit of help. Dumbledore was close to figuring out what the horcruxes were when Snape killed him. There were six: two of the outstanding ones are a locket that belonged to Salazar Slytherin, and Helga Hufflepuff’s cup.”

Lucius pulled himself into a sitting position. He felt lightheaded and shaky, and had to lay his cane beside him because his hands were trembling again. “If you’re here for Voldemort, why kill the others?”

“Because they’re murderous bastards that’ve hurt me and my friends.” By now Harry had regained his usual grace. He flopped down on the other side of the line and idly picked at the shreds of flesh stuck beneath his nails. “And because my lord Lucifer never minds a bonus. Why’s Snape busy? What’s going on?”

“Voldemort’s not going to like having top Death-Eaters of his killed. He might think I’m not worth the bother and simply kill me if you keep on like this. Especially if his plan works,” Lucius finally said. He slowly turned over and went down on his elbows, twisting the rest of himself around as he crawled part of the way over the boundary line. His lightheadedness was turning to a strange…he’d like to call it determination, but acceptance also applied.

Two wet hands curved around his cheeks and smeared clammy stickiness down beneath his chin; he felt drops of blood falling onto his collar. Harry bent down as well and whispered across Lucius’ cheekbone, the slightest flicker of tongue feathering over Lucius’ skin. “What is his plan?”

“He’s bringing back your godfather,” Lucius said. He slid his hand beneath himself and dug his fingers into the grass on his side of the property line.

Potter was very still, but his hands didn’t tighten around Lucius’ neck like he’d expected. “Still think we’re playing your game,” he finally replied. “I see.”

“No! This is the tru—” Before Lucius could finish, one of Harry’s hands had jerked down to encircle his throat. The other closed on Lucius’ free wrist, and Harry nearly had him over the line before he stabbed his fingers deep into the earth and held on. The grounds pulled back—they didn’t recognize Harry as their master—but it wasn’t going to keep Lucius back for long. “He is! He thinks it’ll sway you, or at least keep you preoccupied—”

“And you weren’t trying to use that to bargain with me?” The fingers around Lucius’ throat flexed so he gasped, and when his lips parted, in coiled Harry’s tongue. A searing moment later, Harry was roughly mouthing the line of Lucius’ jaw. He bit into it, then ducked down to nuzzle almost affectionately at Lucius’ arm, where the Mark was. “You can relax, Malfoy. He won’t be the one to kill you, I promise.”

And suddenly Lucius was dropping again. This time, he let himself hit the ground. He waited several seconds before painfully dragging himself back onto his grounds. Harry was gone, of course, and the flies were beginning to circle Greyback’s corpse. Lucius pulled himself up and absently brushed hair out of his face, then froze. He jerked his hand down, saw the red smear and briefly panicked before he remembered it wasn’t his. It was…he sat still for a while, staring at his fingers and feeling the mixed blood and spit dry on his skin.

Then he got up and sent for Narcissa and Bellatrix. Next time, he mused, perhaps he could lure Bella down. He ignored the edge of hysteria to his thought.


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