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A/N: All characters/names/objects belong to JK Rowling. All lyrics belong to Led Zeppelin. The lyrics in [ ] are my substitutions so that the song would best fit with the story.

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A shrill clanking noise echoed throughout the dungeon awaking the weary men within the cells. For these prisoners the redundant banging of metal on iron bars was all too familiar. It was the sound that woke them each and every morning at five o’clock. The sound that reminded them that no matter where they were in their dreams they were still in Azkaban.

The guard was in his mid thirties and the size of a steer. No one knew his real name but since he was always the one who woke them in the morning and shut the lights out at night he became known as, “Mum.”

“Rise and shine parasites!” hollered the guard.

Lucius Malfoy groaned and rolled on the moth eaten mattress. It had taken him ages to get to sleep that night and he loathed the idea of getting up so early.

As mum walked past Lucius’ cell he peered in and shot him a disapproving look. “Oi! Goldie! Still in bed?” growled the pudgy guard on the other side of the door. When Lucius didn’t stir fast enough Mum bashed the bars with his metal rod, until he finally sat up from the unsatisfactory mattress.

As Lucius streatched his back he felt a sharp pain strick his spinal column. He let out a weak moan and somehow knew the pain wasn’t just from aging. Sleeping on such a cot every night couldn’t have been good for the back.

His eyes had just barely opened when he noticed the warden pacing outside of his cell. Up and down the stone hall he walked until all the inmates were aware of his presence. Lucius stood up in awe of this rare occurrence and peaked outside the bars. Usually the warden never came down to the prisoner’s cells. After all, why would a man of his prestige bother coming to a group of criminals?

No one was sure of the warden’s name either. After the Dementors fled Azkaban a new warden was put in charge. His name had never been said so the nickname he earned was Keeper, since he was the “Keeper of the Keys.” Keeper was a ripe old man, bald as a thumb and equally as short and stout.

The elderly man stopped pacing and held up a scroll. He hadn’t got around to unraveling it just yet since murmuring broke out amongst the prisoners. Clearly, they were all just as baffled as Lucius.

“Silence!” shouted the guard. When the murmur ceased the guard motioned to the warden as though signaling him to begin.

The warden unraveled the scroll. He cleared his throat and finally began: “By the order of Minister Rufus Scrimgeour,” he began, “In order to ensure that there will be no more mass escapes from Azkaban Fortress, and to make room for newly captured prisoners, all former Death Eaters are to be executed by hanging before the end of next week…”

There was absolute silence among the captured Death Eaters. Every one of the prisoners on that particular roe bore the Dark Mark on their left arm. Not a twitch nore even a breath could be heard aside from Keeper.

Some were in such a state of shock that the only thing they could hear was “…executed by hanging.” Others, such as Lucius, grasped on to every word in desperate hopes that what they heard was a mere misunderstanding.

“…Executions will not be private. They are to be held in the precincts of Azkaban and will take place at the stroke of dawn starting tonight. You will be randomly selected unless your behavior displeases us,” Keeper looked up from the scroll and gaped at the Death Eater who were now trembling the their cages. “May God have mercy on your souls.”

It was more than evident that this line had not been written on paper.

It wasn’t long after the warden finished the speech that the relentless shock lifted from the prisoners. One by one men began to holler in anger and bang at the bar doors. They shouted and cried refusing to cease when Mum threatened them with his wand.

Through the gaps between the iron bars Lucius watched and willed himself not to join in the sundr;y cries. That didn’t stop his body from revealing all the visible gestures of fear. Lucius backed away sloly from the door and foundered on his bed. A spring stabbed his quadracept but he hardly felt it.

He forced himself not to scream and beat at the stone chamber walls like what hisand the other prisoners were doing. Were they really doing this out of terror and rage? Or were they making a futile attempt to escape?

Suddenly in a foreign cell of the malice dungeon an inmate stood up and began to beat the walls of his cell.

“You can’t do this to me!” he screamed. His voice drowned out the others. He grasped the bars and shook them violently as he shouted, “I have a wife and a son. For the love of God I have a family! I have a life! I am needed in this world! You can’t take that way from me! I’ll…”

From out of nowhere came a flash of red light and the half insane man was thrown to the back of the cell.

“One more outburst and you’ll be bumped up the list!” roared a guard who he’d only seen a few times before.

Lucius shot open his eyes and he found himself on the dungeon floor. He was sweating profusely and his back was in more pain that it had ever been. Horror struck through his heart when he realized that he was the crazed man. He had a wife and a son…

It was so strange. When he was yelling it was as though he was still on his bed listening to someone else.

Tears began to well up in his eyes. The fear of death had already corrupted him now the fear of insanity added to his list of burdens. He’d been pushed to his breaking point and beyond.

Lucius pulled his knees close to his chest and wrapped his arms around them, tightly as he listened to the infinite number of men fall into madness. Their horrific screams and mournful cries had brought him to tears.

*

Alone in the cell of stone he thought of his son, Draco and his wife. Lucius knew full well why they hadn’t talked to him since his arrest and it wasn’t because they didn’t miss him. They were afraid. The Dark Lord hated him, and so his family must hate him.

Deep down, Lucius was glad they hadn’t visited or sent an owl. After all, if He found out they would both be dead.

Despite their absence Lucius thought of his wife, Narcissa, every day. He reminisced the warmth of her skin and the unvarying softness of her golden hair. How he missed her beauty, sass, and doting devotion to Draco and he.

Following Narcissa he thought of Draco. His son, his only son, he spent day an night doing everything to live up to his father’s standards. It was a shame that he couldn’t go to Durmstrang but other than that Lucius thought he did a fine job of raising his boy.

Didn’t he?

Sure Lucius was strict, he yelled and occasionally struck him but it was all for his own good. Draco was always obedient and loyal to him and Narcissa, and was a fine scholar and athlete. He made lots of friends, the teachers were fond of him…

“Who are you fooling Lucius?” he thought, “Those things… those trivial things… they’re not what make Draco happy.”

Suddenly, Lucius came to a horrid realization.

He hadn’t done a good job of raising Draco. Lucius never showed him how to play Quidditch, never framed a picture he drew, never took baby pictures, never sat down and listened to his son. In fact, he never really cared whether Draco was happy or sad, just as long as he was living up to Lucius’ standards.

His wife was also given the same neglect. Did he really love her as much as he thought he did… or did he just marry her because she lived up to his expectations also? Attractive, rich, pureblood… sounds an awful lot like what he usually expected.

She weighted on his hand and foot, yet he scolded her for not being perfect. His outbursts were always directed at her and for what? For making his son attend Hogwarts?

All his life he’d been a failure as a father and a husband. He had many chances to change his ways in the past, but now it was far too late. Neither Draco nor Narcissa would know his utter remorse.

*

The next morning there was no wake up call.

A man two cells down from Lucius wailed in horror as four men dragged him out of the hall. Lucius leaped out of his bed and clung to the iron bars of the jail cell. He watched as the terrified man was forced passed his cell. Lucius squinted his eyes. The man was just a little too familiar.

“Crabbe!”

Hangman, hangman, hold it a little while
Think I see my friends coming,
Riding a many mile.
Friends did you get some silver?
Did you get a little gold?
What did you bring me my dear friends to keep me from the Gallows Pole?
What did you bring me to keep me from the Gallows Pole?


His old friend darted his head to Lucius’ chamber.

“Malfoy!” he hollered, “Don’t let them take me! Malfoy! Help!”

Lucius grasped the iron bars and shook them with all his might even though he knew that nothing would save his friend now.

Still he stuck his arm out the door and tried to reach for the guards so that he could pull them off Crabbe.

The sight of one of his oldest friends being dragged out the metal door became too much for him. Lucius gave up trying to save him and coward into a corner of his cell.

When he sat down he took one last peak out of his cell and saw a man follow behind the terrified Crabbe. He was cloaked like a Dementor, but had the bulk of a skilled athletic champion. Although Lucius didn’t see his face he took notice that the man looked into his prison. That’s when Lucius realized that he was staring into the eyes of the Hangman.

The Hangman took a long look at Lucius, as though they had been friends once. This was a quick connection and then the Hangman slowly followed the prisoner he was about to execute.

Lucius shivered as he watched the Hangman walk away and listened as Crabbe screamed for mercy all the way to the gallows. After a while he put his hands over his ears, the sound was unbearable.

Through his clasped hands Malfoy heard one last sickening scream and then silence. Which was more terrifying was impossible to tell.

For a long moment, he shuddered in the cold corner of his chamber. He was both fear stricken and mournful. Although he probably should have been grateful that there were no longer any Dementors that would have doomed him and Crabbe to a worse fate.

But suddenly, the fear was gone and the old Lucius Malfoy returned. There was no way he would just sit and wait for death. The fate would come to him one day for sure, but not like this, not now.

Persuasion and bribery had always been his strong suits. It saved him from Azkaban once, and surely now it would save his life.

I couldn’t get no silver, I couldn’t get no gold.
You know that we’re too damn poor to keep you from the gallows pole.


The rest of the day, Lucius schemed on how to escape this unacceptable providence. It proved more difficult than he first initiated since the bridges he once had with the Dark One and the Ministry were already burned. He also remembered that if he escaped Azkaban he was doomed anyway.

Even so his father once told him, “To live in the shadows was still to live.” This couldn’t have been more true, and there was no way his death would be through the shame of execution.

Suddenly the door at the end of the hall slammed open. Lucius braced himself for the guards to pull out another victim and prayed that he would not be next.

The guard’s footsteps echoed down the hall and as they neared closer and closer to Lucius he grew increasingly tense. Then four guards stopped right in front of Lucius’ cell.

The ex-Death Eater quivered and clung to the stonewall. He watched in absolute horror as the guard unlocked his prison.

“Come with me Lucius,” he said as he swung open the door. Two other men followed him in the chamber.

One grabbed his arm but Lucius fought back.

“You frightened Malfoy?” hissed one of the guards. Lucius couldn’t control himself any longer. He lifted his knee and struck the guard between the legs. The other guards grabbed his shoulders and held him down as Lucius kicked and fought them.

“Settle down termite!” said the guard pinning down his right shoulder, “Your time hasn’t come!”

Lucius stopped fighting.

“What?” he gasped.

The two guards lifted him up and helped up the guard who Lucius kicked down. The man stood to his full height which was nearly a foot taller than Lucius. The guard gave him a sour look and then returned the kick in the exact same spot.

“Bloody hell,” grumbled the guard as he watched Lucius fumble in pain.

“You alright sir?” asked one of the guards as he dragged Lucius’ limp body out of the cell.

“I’m fine!” he snapped, “Move along! I don’t want this meeting to last longer than it has to.”

Although still in pain Malfoy’s mind pondered over what the guard meant by “meeting.” Was he referring to a meeting with the Hangman? A meeting with the Minister? What?

Lucius decided to keep his mouth shut as the guards dragged him through the stone hallways. They came up to a room with tiny windows near the ceiling, which was bliss in itself since Lucius hadn’t seen the sun in over a year. There was a single cage with no stonewalls. The cage didn’t have a bed, but a wooden plank hanging on chains from the bars.

The guards shoved him in the oddly luxurious cell and left the room.

Lucius sat in awe, but only for a moment. From the same door that the guards just left entered a man, almost a reflection of Lucius. Behind him came a gorgeous woman with soft golden hair.

Lucius dropped to his knees when he realized who he stared at on the other side of the bars. There was an awed silence in the small room and then Lucius spoke.

“I must be dreaming.”

Hangman, hangman, hold it a little while
I think I see my [son] coming, riding a many mile.
[Draco] did you get me some silver?
Did you get a little gold?
What did you bring me my [son], to keep me from the Gallows Pole?


“Lucius!” cried the woman who Lucius instantly recognized as his wife. She too fell to her knees and jutted her arms through the openings in the bars. Lucius took them and slowly pulled himself into her embrace.

He rested his cheek on hers still in shock. As he slowly began to realize that he wasn’t in a dream he gave her a light kiss on the cheek. If he never loved her before, he surely loved her now.

His eyes darted up to the man behind her. It was actually Draco, he knew that but somehow it was unbelievable that he had grown up so soon. Draco now stood taller than his mother, and his build was of a man Lucius used to be.

Lucius stood up with his wife still in his arms, but his eyes still fixed on his son. His face was as stiff as stone, not a tear, not a grin could be detected. If that was how Lucius taught him to be he regretted it madly. He wouldn’t even look into Lucius’ eyes.

“Draco,” Lucius cooed. His gray eyes lifted from the floor and for a moment he locked eyes with his father, but quickly forced them back to the stone floor. It was plain that Draco was a little afraid of him still.

“Don’t fear me Draco,” begged his father, “You’re not the one behind these bars.”

Draco remained surprisingly still, as though he heard nothing Lucius said.

Narcissa finally pulled away from her husband and wiped the tears from her cheeks.

“Lucius,” she sobbed, “W-we just received an owl… from the ministry,” she paused to dab her eyes with her sleeve, “They’re… they’re…”

Lucius pressed his finger against her lips, “I know.”

He turned his gaze back to Draco, still as tranquil as he had been since they arrived.

The woman in his arms planted her head on his shoulder and sobbed. As Lucius rubbed her back he wished that he could have some time alone with Draco, just to tell him all the things he never said.

“Oh darling what are we going to do?” Narcissa cried. Her voice was muffled by his collar.

Patting her quivering back her searched the depths of his scheming mind. His eyes kept flicking over to Draco and then back to the dusty stone floor as he tried to get back into the state of mind he was in that morning.

Then it hit him.

Lucius had it in his mind from the beginning that he would bribe the Hangman. Bribing with money had always worked out for Lucius and up until that moment he had full confidence in it. But in this case it just didn’t seem feasible that such a man would be easily swayed by money.

Even so, the next time he looked at his son he said, “Draco.”

Draco finally looked his father in the eye.

Lucius sighed, “Take out a sum of gold from Gringotts. Divide it into three and pay the executioner one third of it. Tell him that you will pay him the other two thirds after my release.” He spoke soft and slowly so that every word could be comprehended.

Draco nodded, “I’ll do it right away Father.”

And he was true to his word. He turned towards the gigantic door keeping his eyes to the ground. His hand barely grasped the circular bar when he turned and asked, “How much shall I offer?”

Lucius didn’t even need to think about this one.

“Offer,” he began, “as much as my life is worth to you.” Draco’s slightly awkward look indicated that there was more to be said. Lucius continued, “Not how much you think I or your mother want you to offer. What do you think my life is worth?”

The prisoner’s son gulped and his hands might have started shaking. Rats. That’s not how Lucius wanted it to be perceived. The reason why he had put it such a way was to show his son that he trusted him enough to make such a decision on his own. It was quite disheartening to realize that he had taught Draco not to trust him.

“It’s not a trick question,” Lucius assured, “If you don’t want to tell me right now then I won’t oblige you.”

Draco shuffled his feet nervously, “You won’t be disappointed Father.”

Without another word Lucius watched as his son left for Gringotts.

[Father], I brought you some silver,
I brought a little gold,
I brought a little of everything to keep you from the gallows pole.
Yes I brought you to keep you from the Gallows Pole.


Now the moment had come which Lucius dread subsequent to execution.

He pulled away from Narcissa to stare into her deep-sea eyes and brought his lips unto hers.

When the kiss ceased she said, “If there’s anything I can…”

Lucius hung his head. This was what hit him along with the idea of bribery. If the executioner wouldn’t sway to money he would surely sway to this. What Lucius was about to ask of Narcissa went against everything he believed in. Sacrificing his love, defying her vows, he almost convinced himself not to do it…

But then he remembered Crabbe.

With a rueful sigh he leaned in to his wife’s ear and whispered, “This is what I want you to do…”

Hangman, Hangman, turn your head a while
I think I see my [wife] coming riding a many mile, mile, mile.
[Narcissa] I implore you, take him by the hand
Take him to some shady bower, save me from the wrath of this man.
Please take him, save me from the wrath of this man, man.


With tears draining down her cheeks Narcissa clung to her husband and cried on his shoulder.

“Lucius. I don’t think I could,” she admitted. Her voice quivered and she broke into a heavy sobbing fit.

Nothing he could do would comfort either of them. “Please,” he said, “Don’t make me convince you… it’s hard enough convincing myself.”

It was now Narcissa’s turn to fight her morals, after the battle she decided that she loved her husband unconditionally and if this was the price of his life then so be it.

Lucius kissed her one last time before she left him sobbing into her hands. He too could not believe his own desperation.

After the guards brought him back to his cell Lucius rested relieved and yet lonesome on his bitter excuse for a bed. Being so close to death had changed him in a way. Besides making him pathetic and desperate he found that his morals were changing all together.

Why didn’t he tell Draco what he really wanted to tell him? He had the chance to tell him everything he should have said long ago. It was only by luck that his family hadn’t abandoned him, and they put themselves in danger just to come to his rescue. After all had He found out…

Lucius wouldn’t let himself think it.

He couldn’t have been more fortunate to have this second chance and he wasn’t going to waste it. Lucius promised himself that as soon as he was feed he would assure Draco that he wasn’t mere chattel or a building block for prestige. He would tell Draco how proud he had made Lucius and that he really did love him. Those alone were only a handful of the many things he never said.

He promised himself that he would never loose his temper at his wife or son again. There were many times that he said and did things that he gravely regretted. His family was first now, not his status. After all, it was not his friends who came to save him.

For the first time in over a year Lucius smiled for joy. He was brought into Askaban a monster and as soon as he stepped out he would be born again as a real man.

Hangman, hangman, upon your face a smile,
Pray tell me that I’m free to ride,
Ride for many mile, mile, mile.


The next morning Lucius woke to find the Hangman standing outside of his cell. His hands were in his robe pockets and his hood was still up. Only a smug smile on the bottom half of his face was visible.

Lucius stood up in hastily without fear.

The hooded man took out something from his pocket and reached through the bars to hand it to Lucius.

He didn’t even need to open his hands for Lucius to realize exactly what it was. A fraction of soft golden hair slid out the sides of his fist.

Had the circumstances been a little different the Hangman would have been mutilated the instant Lucius saw the token. Instead he labeled the man as a couper de naut.

Lucius took the lock from the Hangman’s gloved hand. He admired its softness by rubbing it between his fingers and longed for its owner to be with him.

With tears glazing his eyes he said, “And so you have accepted my offer?”

He said nothing.

Growing nervous he added, “If you are not satisfied… I could give you more…”

Nothing.

Lucius began to tremble.

“You are going to let me go…”

Nothing.

The tension became too great. He fell to his knees and clapped his hands together as though about to pray.

“Oh please,” he almost sobbed. What he gave up- what he sacrificed he couldn’t be hanged now. He was a new man! Better in fact. Couldn’t he get the chance to show the world?

The hangman’s smile grew slightly, although it was impossible to tell whether the gesture was sincere- or cruel.

Oh yes you got a fine [woman]
She warmed my blood from cold,
Brought my blood to boiling hot to keep you from the Gallows Pole,
Your [son] brought me silver, your [woman] warmed my soul.
But now I laugh and pull so hard and see you swinging on the gallows pole.

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