a holiday story dedicated to Llewellyn McEllis
Lucius could hear the jingling of bells. The sound rang through his eardrums and echoed through his brain. It continued as whoever was in possession of the bells passed by his bedroom door, the bells clanging and jingling the whole way. From the rhythm of the footsteps and the out-of-tune humming accompanying them, there was only one creature who would dare make such a noise on Christmas morning.
With a groan, Lucius rolled over and squinted at the clock on the wall, its ticking conveniently silenced. The short hand pointed towards the seven, causing Lucius to bury his head in the pillow. He cursed every house elf in existence who’d dare to don bells while its master and mistress were trying to sleep.
The jingling continued as the elf bounced past the bedroom door, quietly singing carols under its breath. Of course the creature got all the words mixed up and was terribly out of tune, rather like the time when Perdita Parkinson decided to lead carols at the previous year’s Christmas party. It was a total disaster, which was why she had not been invited for this year.
Finally, the sound died away and Lucius let out a sigh of relief. He glanced over at the form of his wife, her curves accentuated by the thin sheets covering her. She had pushed away the thick duvet during the night and now the very sight of her was going to drive him to distraction. Her hair, shining in the dim morning light, was spread across the pillow. Her face, so flawless in its structure, was entirely at peace. One of her hands lay upon her chest and the silver ring upon one finger caught the light, reminding the world that she was the wife of Lucius Malfoy.
Lucius reached his hand beneath the covers, planning to give his wife an early Christmas gift. His fingers had just grazed her hip when a series of loud cries erupted down the hall. The high-pitched sound caused Lucius to wrench back his arm and wish that the bed would swallow him whole. As the seconds ticked by, the cries grew louder, turning into bloodcurdling wails. The images of dying mudbloods flashed through his mind. They were the screams of the tortured and the helpless, the screams of those who were not worthy of breathing the same air as a Malfoy.
They were also the cries of a very spoiled infant.
As there was nothing that could block out the sound of the child’s wails, Lucius threw back the covers and reached for his dressing gown. From the bed, Narcissa made a small sound and opened one eye.
“I will handle it,” Lucius said, grabbing his wand from the bedside table.
Narcissa smiled and went back to sleep. Lucky witch.
The hardwood floors were cold on Lucius’ bare feet as he walked down the hallway towards his son’s room. The nursery was as far from the master bedroom as Narcissa would allow it, yet no closer than Lucius wished it to be. Even an ex-Death Eater could only take so much. Before reaching the nursery door, Lucius pondered taking a long business trip to someplace far away until the child was old enough to follow his commands. He smiled in a cruel, very Slytherin-like way. Yes, having a son would be very convenient indeed.
Another scream shot through the air, its volume so great that it vibrated the wood under Lucius’ feet. Jingling bells added to the din as the house elf inside the room attempted to distract the infant from crying out again.
“Nice little master mustn’t make so much noise. Here’s a pretty toy...”
Lucius sighed at Dobby’s unsuitable way of treating the infant and opened the door, only to get hit in the nose with a very wet soother.
The expression that crossed Lucius’ face is one that even a mudblood would never receive. Although their blood stank of muggle, they were often not slimy and covered with the remains of yesterday’s late night snack. It would certainly not be the first time that Lucius had caught the house elves sneaking sweetmeats into the nursery. The bloody child was spoiled enough by his mother. Draco did not need the rest of the world falling at his feet, not while his father was still about.
“Master!” Dobby turned from the crib and fell to his knees. “Oh please forgive poor, pathetic Dobby for waking Master from his most deserved rest! Please do not hurt Dobby. He tried to make the little master stop, but he won’t listen to a poor pathetic house elf.”
The bells jingled as Dobby crawled forward to lean over the hem of Lucius’ dressing gown.
“Away from me, you fool,” Lucius snarled, kicking away the grovelling house elf. “Can’t you see that you are only making it worse?”
Dobby sat back on his heels. “Oh Master, Dobby was only trying to help. Please do not hurt Dobby. He will punish himself for making master angry. Oh poor, poor Dobby.” He ran to the nearest wall and began slamming his head against it, sending the bells jingling even more annoyingly than before.
“Get out. I should have gotten rid of you ages ago.”
Moaning in a most pitiable manner, Dobby crawled out of the room and began to bash his head with the string of bells around his neck. Clang. Clang. Clang. All the way towards the stairs the sound echoed against the portraits and priceless art, the walnut side tables and the bronze light fixtures. Lucius raised his wand, aiming for the house elf. A simple Crucio would do nicely, the perfect cure for a creature with a fondness for being completely and utterly annoying.
A cheerful babble from behind him distracted Lucius. Draco was standing, holding on to the rails of his crib, staring wide-eyed at the wand in his father’s hand. The incantation that had been prominent in Lucius’ mind receded into the darkness from which it came.
“What is it, Draco?”
Draco clapped his hands together and laughed, eyes still fixed on the wand.
“Ah, so you like the magic? Very good.”
Lucius stepped closer to his son, holding out the wand. Draco reached out for it, but his arms were not yet long enough. His face settled in a pout, his cheeks quickly turning a ghastly shade of purple. Any moment now, his screams would once more fill the room, or rather, the house.
“You cannot always have what you want, Draco. That is the first thing you must learn.”
Draco’s mouth closed and some of the colour faded from his cheeks.
“Yes, I know that you understand. You are a Malfoy, after all.”
He smiled at the infant who grinned back in return.
“Now do not forget this, Draco. You will one day become master of this house. You will become the patriarch of our noble family, leading it on as our ancestors have done for centuries. You will also become a leader of our kind, keeping the blood of wizards pure and unblemished by those disgusting muggles.” He paused, proudly staring at his son as he envisioned the future. “You, my son, will finish what the Dark Lord started.”
Once again, Draco reached forward to try and grab the wand, but Lucius continued to hold it just out of reach.
“Not yet. Not yet. You still have much to learn.”
Lucius strolled over to the window and held the wand up to the light, as though examining it. The cold, dark wood did not shine in the morning light, nor was it a pretty object. Lucius remembered how surprised he had been when he first saw it, the ugliest wand in the shop. Yet it had done him exceedingly well for all those years. A lieutenant of the Dark Lord, they had called him. It was his rightful place as a Malfoy, one of the most pureblooded and powerful wizarding families in all the world.
“There are times when getting what you want means deception and trickery, lying to your friends and keeping with your enemies. The Dark Lord always got what he wanted eventually, even if he had to kill his own–”
Lucius stopped when he realised just what he had been going to say. He looked back at his son, who sat calmly in the crib, listening to the sound of his voice. Lucius hoped that he had been wrong, that Draco did not understand what he had been saying. The Dark Lord’s greed had been immense – it had caused his destruction – but Lucius had escaped persecution. He had omitted some things and exaggerated others, making himself appear wholly innocent: just another victim of the imperious curse. He wouldn’t have to worry about the Dark Lord anymore; he was a free wizard and the only one of the highest-ranking Death Eaters not sent to Azkaban. The only person Lucius now answered to was...
... an infant by the name of Draco Malfoy.
From somewhere not far enough away, the jingling of bells filled the air.
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