"A Mudblood?!" Lucius hissed. "What the fuck is Draco thinking?!"
Lucius knew his only son and heir wasn't exactly a firm believer in blood superiority. That had been made perfectly clear quite often, thank you very much. Hell, Draco's tantrum the day after the Quidditch World Cup fiasco made his son's views crystal clear, let alone everything that happened after that. His son had screamed himself hoarse about not giving a shit about how pure his blood was and how Muggles and Mudbloods were the same as them. Draco had been absolutely incensed that Lucius had tormented that Muggle family for no other reason than for a laugh with old friends. Needless to say, that conversation had not gone well.
Then there was the whole Lucius re-joining the Death Eaters conversation. Again, that had not gone well. Draco had begged and pleaded for Lucius to reconsider, to turn his back on the Dark Lord. At the time, Lucius had been enraged. If it weren't for Narcissa, he was quite sure that he would've raised a hand to his own son for the first time in his life, so betrayed he felt. Thank the Gods the Dark Lord wasn't at the Manor to overhear that family row.
To make matters worse, Draco's stance on blood purity was widely known at Hogwarts. Although, according to Narcissa, he never really interacted with anyone outside Slytherin House and so never really interacted with Mudbloods more than very occasionally, his views were well known throughout the school. As was the fact that he had convinced several other prominent Slytherin pure-bloods to share in his views. Not only had Draco become a blood traitor, but he had convinced young Theodore Nott, Pansy Parkinson, Millicent Bulstrode, the Greengrass girls and that Zabini fellow with the famous mother, to become blood traitors too. Publicly, no less. How he managed it, Lucius would never know, but he did. Those children had been raised with either Death Eater, sympathiser, or just plain prejudiced, parents. How on Earth Draco had convinced them to give up the old ways and risk being disowned for their fancy new beliefs, Lucius honestly had no idea and would have been impressed by the loyalty his son inspired in his friends if it hadn't been a slap in the face to everything he had ever believed in. Then again, Draco had been raised the same way, and look how he turned out. While Lucius could've handled the scorn from the old families for his son's views, he had absolutely no way of handling the Dark Lord's disapproval.
And disapprove he did.
As soon as the Dark Lord announced he was living at the Manor, Narcissa had made preparations to have Draco shipped off to Italy with young Nott and Zabini. Though Lucius had been most displeased - and that was putting it mildly - with his son's beliefs and firm conviction that he would never, under any circumstances, join the Death Eaters, Lucius could not agree more that Draco should be sent away, for his own safety. Damn Crabbe and Goyle - both generations - for informing the Dark Lord of Draco's treacherous thoughts.
Both Draco and Narcissa had avoided the Manor like the plague when it became apparent that the Dark Lord was there to stay. Draco spent the summer in Italy and then stayed at Hogwarts for every holiday. Likewise, Narcissa spent a great deal of time - as much as she could reasonably excuse - at any other Malfoy property but the Manor. It had put tremendous strain on his marriage, but Lucius was convinced that joining the Dark Lord was the right decision. He had never in wildest dreams thought for even one moment that the Dark Lord would threaten his wife and son. It was foolish and naive, in retrospect, but that's by the by.
Then Lucius was released from Azkaban, only to find that his Muggle-loving son had been forced to join the Death Eaters to protect Narcissa and himself. The pure hatred and agony in his son's eyes when he had shown him the Dark Mark branded into his skin after he returned from failing to kill Dumbledore, had affected Lucius more than he thought it would and in a very different way. Instead of pride in his son, there was shame in himself, for the first time in his life.
Lucius's homecoming had been the worst kind of torment. His loving wife had repeatedly punched, kicked, slapped, scratched and even bitten him when she had seen him, seemingly so lost in her rage that she had forgotten she was a witch, and Lucius was at a complete loss. Draco had looked at him with complete indifference, as though he wasn't even there, and taken his mother out to her favourite spot in the gardens to calm down. Lucius later found out, from a gleeful Bellatrix, that Draco had needed to be persuaded to join the Dark Lord and acknowledge what an honour it was to be chosen for such a momentous task, especially at such a young age. Bellatrix's persuasion consisted of several rounds of the Cruciatus Curse while Narcissa watched, restrained and heartbroken. When Lucius discovered this, his heart - for it did exist - had shattered. He had always been hard on Draco, distant and cold just as Abraxas was with him. But Gods did he love that boy. And his wife, his loyal, loving wife, the most important person in his life, had been forced to watch as their son was tortured, taunted and humiliated by her own flesh and blood. Lucius knew then that never, for as long as he lived, would he forgive himself for putting his family through that.
Lucius knew, without a shadow of a doubt, that his son was no murderer, and so it was no surprise that he failed to kill Dumbledore. Even to save his own life, Narcissa's life, Draco just didn't have it in him. And that was the beginning of the end. In more ways than one.
The Malfoy family was a disgrace in the Dark Lord's eyes and Lucius was a disgrace in his wife' and son's. For Narcissa, it was anger and resentment for putting their son through all that he endured. For Draco, it was hatred for Lucius's actions. Actions that left Draco backed into a corner, his only choices being to blacken his soul, or risk his family's lives.
Then everything well and truly went to shit.
The Malfoy family's fall from grace was swift. Draco was punished severely for his failure and this time, Lucius was there to witness it too. He and Narcissa had begged on bended knee for their son to be spared but it fell on deaf ears. While Draco kept his life and sanity, largely due to Severus much to Bellatrix's ire, he was still tortured mercilessly. Lucius's son, his heir, was completely bedridden, unable to move an inch because of the convulsions and other after-effects of the Cruciatus, for almost a week. He had struggled to even speak, so when he forced himself to speak past the pain and begged his mother to write a single word on a piece of old parchment for every day the pain and seizures were too strong for him to lift a quill, Narcissa complied, and wrote that one word each night before bed - Alive. Narcissa was completely inconsolable every time, and for hours after. Lucius himself was filled with self-loathing and shame that his son was reduced to marking down each day he managed to stay alive.. Gods..
Everything after that was a blur of pain, self-hatred and shame.
Narcissa insisted on sleeping in Draco's bed with him while Lucius was sentenced to sleeping on the floor. Draco naturally protested at first, being of age and a full grown man, but Narcissa would completely break down whenever either he or Lucius raised any objections, even when they suggested that she at least let Draco conjure her her own bed, and so they quickly acquiesced every night.
Bellatrix was confined to the Manor most days, her insanity truly beyond a joke and sharing in the Malfoys' downfall. And so she vent her frustrations on Draco, hating him and berating him for being a blood traitor and a failure. To survive, Draco became remarkably quick on his feet and a far better dueller than even Lucius was. Though it was still no match for Bellatrix. She was truly gifted at duelling. For her part, Narcissa took to shadowing Draco around the Manor, refusing to leave him alone lest Bellatrix happen upon him. The only peace the boy ever had was down in the dungeons, having hands down refused any company whatsoever for those brief moments each day, and those few minutes in the wee hours of the morning that he would spend writing. Though he never once told his mother what he was doing with that parchment, even when she became hysterical and asked if he was still counting each day they were all alive.
Also, Draco and Severus became even closer. Severus would come up to Draco's room - Narcissa had officially moved in, moving her clothes and toiletries to Draco's room and en-suite, and Lucius was loathe to leave her, even though he had to sleep on a mattress on the floor because Draco refused to Transfigure him a bed and wouldn't let Narcissa do it either - and they would speak in riddles, if they even spoke at all - Draco explained to Narcissa that he and Severus communicated through Legillimency, deeming their conversations 'private'. Now that Lucius knew of his son's true allegiance, and apparently Severus's if Potter was to be believed, he could see why they wouldn't want to discuss anything aloud.
After they lost Potter and his friends, not to mention the other prisoners, Draco never spoke a word unless the Dark Lord himself addressed him. Suddenly, Narcissa became stronger. She no longer cried, no longer clung to Draco as though he would vanish if she let go, but instead seemed to be comforting him, keeping him from falling apart, as he had for her up to that point. Lucius was curious as to why that day changed their dynamic, but looking at his son now fawning all over the Mudblood that Bellatrix tortured, the mystery was solved. Evidently, Narcissa had worked it all out back then. She was always brilliant. Lucius would have to ask her about how she figured it out because he had no clue until a moment ago.
Lucius wondered if she had worked out Draco's allegiance that day too? Unlikely. She was as shocked and terrified as he was, watching Draco duel Death Eaters and deflect or dodge the odd spell from whichever twat in the Order hadn't figured out yet which side they were apparently on now.
But still.. To actually marry a Mudblood? That's beyond the pale!
When Narcissa failed to respond, Lucius looked to his wife to find his outrage matched, though it appeared to be directed at him, rather than their son snogging a Mudblood in public, however distasteful that public may be. Lucius's anger faltered as his wife glared at him murderously.
"Lucius, darling," Narcissa said, her voice eerily calm even as her eyes blazed with rage. "I am going to say this only once, do you understand?"
Lucius Abraxas Malfoy was an admittedly intimidating and terrifying man, but he was also an uncommonly clever one, and he knew that saying something at this moment in time was almost as hazardous to his health as telling the Dark Lord to go fuck himself. He nodded.
"As you know, Lucius, since the day we discovered we were pregnant, my worst fear has been losing our son. Back then, I was terrified of yet another miscarriage. After he was born and as he grew up, I was terrified of silly things like Draco flying too fast, his many Quidditch accidents, and him breaking his neck horsing around with dear Theodore and Pansy.. Then, when the Dark Lord returned, I feared for his life like never before -"
Lucius opened his mouth to say something but Narcissa interrupted.
"If you dare interrupt me, Lucius, I will curse you so hard your ancestors will feel it," Narcissa hissed, her eyes half-crazed.
Again, Lucius Abraxas Malfoy was an intelligent man and so he shut the fuck up.
"As I was saying," Narcissa continued, her voice back to that eerily calm tone that before the Malfoys fell out of favour, had once made Bellatrix pause. "I feared for his life like never before. Our son's opinions on Muggles and Mud- Muggleborns are well known. I knew even before that ridiculous argument you two had, that he would never become a Death Eater. New ideals or not, our son never had that violence in him. There was no way he'd join you.. Except, there was. That monster threatened my life, your life, our son's life, to force Draco's hand and accept a mission that he would more than likely die trying to accomplish. Bella and I went to Severus, as you know, and he made an Unbreakable Vow to protect our son. But still, I lived in fear that Severus would fail, that my Dragon would d-die.." Narcissa took a deep breath but when she spoke again, her voice was wavering and her eyes were bright. "Draco survived, but he failed, and the Dark Lord punished him.. I can't even think about it without.." Unbidden, tears spilled down her cheeks.
Lucius reached out to hold his wife but she glared at him through her tears until he dropped his arm. Narcissa took another fortifying breath and continued, her voice firm even as the silent tears continued to fall.
"My point, Lucius, is that our son has been threatened, tortured, humiliated, attacked. He has been under the Cruciatus - in overwhelming agony - more times than I care to count. He has risked his life for a cause he doesn't believe in.. I have watched him barely hold on to his sanity under torture. I have watched him struggle through the after-effects of said torture. I have watched him put on a brave face for us, then watched him shake as he silently cries himself to sleep. I have watched him - when he thought we were both asleep - cast a silencing charm on himself and completely break down in grief-stricken, soul destroying sobs while writing on that Godsdamn parchment.. I have watched him walk around the Manor like a ghost. I have watched him claw at that fucking Mark on his arm in a moment of desperation, trying to rid himself of it. I have seen the haunted look in his eyes when he comes up from the dungeons.. But do you know what the absolute worst thing I've witnessed is?"
"What?" Lucius whispered, feeling the familiar stirrings of shame in his gut, hearing his wife speak so despairingly about their child.
"The absolute worst thing, Lucius.." Narcissa started, her voice subdued. Her eyes were no longer blazing, but seeing something that wasn't there, lost in a memory. "The worst thing, Lucius, was seeing the look on my son's face when the Dark Lord tortured him after his Muggleborn girl escaped.. He looked.. He looked.. Accepting.. Relieved, almost.. As though he deserved to be tortured, as though he deserved to be hurt.. He was terrified when you and I were at the Dark Lord's mercy, and indifferent when Bella was, but when it was his turn.. Gods help me, the look on his face.."
Lucius sat in horrified silence as his wife struggled to breathe, the tears falling uncontrollably. Blinking rapidly and taking a deep breath, she pulled herself out of the memory a few seconds later. Narcissa shook her head as if to clear it and refocused on her husband.
"Now, Lucius, my worst nightmare isn't losing our son. I would die without him, I truly would, and I will fear anything happening to him for the rest of my life. But it is no longer my worst fear. That look is. That look on his face.. The acceptance, the belief that he somehow deserved what he got.."
Narcissa looked over at her son.
"That is my worst nightmare. That what my baby boy been through has destroyed him so completely, that he hates himself so much, that he honestly believes that he deserves to be so cruelly tormented."
Narcissa turned to her husband and almost smiled at the look of utter disgust on his face, for she knew it was disgust in himself.
"So I repeat," she said, in a tone that conveyed how unwise it would be to argue with her, continuing when she had her husband's undivided attention. "I am going to say this only once.. If our son wants to marry that girl -" she jerked her head towards the couple "- then he will. You will not say a word against it, do you understand? Draco has been through too much. He has been wasting away for the last two fucking years and he will suffer no longer. I forbid it! If Draco wants to marry that girl, then you had damn well better support him, because I'll be damned before I let anything upset my Dragon again."
Lucius simply stared at her and Narcissa could practically see the wheels turning in his brain. On the one hand was the prejudice they'd both been raised to believe in wholeheartedly. On the other, was the happiness of their son and the fact that Lucius was well aware that Narcissa would happily spend the rest of her life in Azkaban for Avada'ing her husband if he upset their son by refusing to accept his chosen bride.
Finally, Lucius huffed, a mightily undignified and un-Malfoy-ish sound that expressed how truly unimpressed he was with this turn of events.
"Fine. Fine. Draco can marry the Mud- Muggleborn," he said, his mouth curving up into an instinctive sneer. He paused before sighing deeply and added, his voice so quiet that
Narcissa had to lean in to hear him, "You're right. Gods know he's been through quite enough.. I confess, I.. I, too, would rather Draco pollute our entire line than spend one more day hating himself for things that were beyond his control. Things that were my fault, not his.."
Narcissa smiled softly, knowing that such a declaration was a testament to how much Lucius truly loved their son, and took her husband's hand.
Narcissa looked at her baby boy, her Dragon, whose all but forgotten smile had returned and was so bright, it could light up the entire castle. And Narcissa found a brief moment of true peace for the first time in three years as she basked in the happiness radiating out of him.
. . . . . . . . . . .