Who: The Malfoys What: Gala aftermath When: Sunday 31 March Where: Malfoy Manor lawn, aka where the weather is always perfect and the peacocks are always white. Warnings: Malfoys being Malfoys, aka bigoted horrible people.
Dobby had brought a somewhat satisfactory breakfast out to the lawn where Lucius and Narcissa were enjoying it. Lucius' eggs were insufficiently runny; he liked them over medium. Dobby had never quite got the hang of it. One more way in which he was just not the house elf they really wanted. Kreacher was a proper house elf, and Narcissa aspired to get him away from Aunt Walburga.
Meanwhile she would make do. She dandled Draco on her knee while Lucius perused the Sunday Prophet. "How is the gala coverage, darling? When you're finished, you can take Draco for a turn and I'll read up." She was hoping that Lucius' dance with Lily Potter had made some sort of splash. There had to be some good coming from it.
"Quite acceptable, other than the quality of the writing. Millie said something about Wizards and Witches enjoying themselves in the new era, so we are definitely on-message with the Ministry. And I haven't received a note from Hogwarts, so I didn't cost us any house points."
Lucius folded the newspaper over, and read a few choice sections to his wife. "Acting Director Priam Parkinson dances with guest performer Celestine Warbeck," he read. "Priam likes popular music, so there's that." He put on his glasses. "Co-chair Narcissa Malfoy of Wiltshire announced that the fundraiser had broken all previous ICLE and CLAMS records and that the auction was thirty percent over expectations. 'As we move into a new and brighter era, it's humbling to know that the community has joined together to support the children who have lost so much in the recent war through CLAMS and ICLE. Children are our future and wizarding Britain has again risen to answer the call to help those less fortunate.'.
"Well said, dearest." Lucius flipped to the gala photographs. "Warbeck, Warbeck, Greengrass, you, Warbeck, Prewett, two quidditch people, ah yes, the dance." He held the paper up and looked at the photo, then read the caption to his wife. "'Lucius Malfoy, chair of the Sophia Malfoy Foundation, dances with donor Lilly Potter of Godric's Hollow.' Of course, they can't even spell the poor girl's name," Lucius tut-tutted. "It's the second spin and by some feat of luck it looks graceful. They probably threw away a lot of not-very-good photos, or I hope so. I know that woman can count, she apparently never thought to apply it to music or movement." He looked over the top of the paper at his wife. "The goblin clipping service has emailed me the coverage in a few specialty papers, but I think the real excitement will be in Witch Weekly or The Quibbler. I haven't seen their latest editions."
"Witch Weekly won't be out until Tuesday, dearest, and I saw their photographer out and about, so there will be something from them. And unless The Quibbler decides I'm an lizard woman again, I don't care what they think. Noooo," Narcissa cooed at Draco, "Mummy doesn't care what silly people think. Unless they call you a lizard baby again, in which case I'll hex Lovegood's mouth shut permanently."
She looked back up at Lucius. "I will be interested in what Le Monde Magique and Der Magischspiegel have to say, though. If we're to revive post-war finances, we need to improve the confidence of our trading partners again."
Lucius nodded. It was his concern as well. "There's a reason we were liberal with the wine for the foreign press. I told Madame Potter that Witch Weekly might spin up some tale about how we were both leaving our spouses for a love-tryst, abandoning our children and homes, and such. And that she should ignore it if it came out. I'm vaguely tempted to leak such a story to them, but it might be too much work. And you'd probably hex both of them and me with your Lizard Magic in any case."
"If I want another one--" Narcissa kissed the top of Draco's head, and he giggled "--I think I'd best leave the pride of the Malfoys intact, don't you think?"
"The Pride appreciates that." Lucius pushed the society pages over to Narcissa and picked up another section. It wasn't well-written, but it was useful. "Rodolphus may be stopping by after he returns from France. We may need to help him do some research. Depends on how his trip down to see old family goes."
Narcissa glanced up from her perusal of the pages Lucius had just handed her, all humour fled from her tone. "Is this to do with whatever the old men are up to?" Her hand on Draco tightened a little, and his laughter stopped.
Lucius' lips tightened. "They're going to get someone killed." He put down his paper. "They think the have a lead on restoring things to the way they were before, and they're not above sacrificing everyone but themselves to do it."
He sighed. "Your brother-in-law has his orders, I have mine. We have allied ourselves with Rudolphus, as is fitting, to the extent that we are sharing information. The old men are not people with something to lose here, so we have to be cautious about what they do. The Lestranges are fetching some sort of cup or vessel from the catacombs and I am looking for a book that my father were entrusted with."
"We need to find the nature of the enchantments to see what risk we're facing."
Lucius paused. "And decide what we shall do with that knowledge."
None of this pleased Narcissa any more than it had Lucius. Abandoning any pretense of attention to the paper, she frowned thoughtfully, gathering Draco to her bosom. "Do you have your instructions? I know it's technically your task but if it's in the library, I'm equally likely to know where to find it, if only by a process of elimination." Her plate, equally abandoned, had attracted Draco's attention, though it was out of his reach.
Lucius waved his wand at Draco, getting his attention with the motion and distracting him, momentarily, from the plate. "It's not in the library. Apparently, father kept a precious artifact of the dark lord's from his time as a student. A plain, empty muggle diary, as if he were a schoolgirl."
"So the task is to find where in the house the old fool would keep a muggle item that was secretly of immense value and needed to be protected and not shown off." Lucius shrugged. "I've looked in all the obvious spots, so the question is where did he store it that was not so obvious?"
"Clearly a round of redecoration is in order and I'll have to go through the entire house and grounds." This time Narcissa's sigh was more put-upon. "And the excuse should be enough to ensure I don't get any offers of assistance that aren't helpful. I know you have plenty of ladies among your number but other than Clarissa, few of them are interested in the more homely and civilised arts."
"I am steeling myself up to ask Dobby where his old master didn't let him go. I think it's high time we dispensed with the last of Abraxas Malfoy's secrets. I swear I'll have that elf dredge the Frome if he makes me reason with him about control of my own house." Lucius was rehearsing the argument in his head, and it was not something that pleased him. He turned to Draco to calm himself, and lightly lit the tip of his wand. The boy seemed to enjoy that.
"I must admit, I am not very pleased with the … quality of our allies. So few of them are subtle at all. One begins to think that they can be divided into two groups, and that some pure families are, in fact, degenerate."
"I could have told you that a long time ago." Narcissa straightened and let Lucius distract Draco while she stole a bite of fresh berries. "While I will always align myself with purity and tradition, I don't believe in failure. And we're seeing the signs of failed leadership here."
"We need to assure that the damage caused by the collapse of our leadership does not engulf us. Too much of history is written by the victors, and they neglect to mention that during their shining age of golden victory they had no idea what they were doing, their children were incontinent in public, and their cousins were plotting to throw them in the Frome. A hundred years from now, this will be a single paragraph that Professor Binns teaches about in a day on the failures of the Ministry in the second half of the 20th century. I don't intend for us to be associated with the losers." Lucius stopped there, although the colored light never stopped distracting his young son.
"I certainly hope we've pried that old fool Binns out of the History chair by then," Narcissa said in a tone that was too clear to qualify as grumbling. "But in any case, I agree. The House of Malfoy will not fall with the Dark Lord and certainly not with his sub-par lieutenants. Even if they call themselves by a more impressive rank."
"Things are dire for them. If anyone turns, they are the bigger fish to be caught, and they are all known to all members, so any treason implicates them. And once they are exposed, everyone who is not exposed will work to eliminate the threat that they will soon become so. Arlo Mulciber is acting as if he is dangerous, but it is the danger of a cornered and frightened beast. He knows the trap he's in. Too many people's safety depend on his demise." Lucius paused. "One isn't supposed to write history to settle old scores, but I hope, fifty years from now, to be the author of the story of our times. To set the record straight."
"And I will gladly make sure it's properly disseminated," Narcissa told Lucius.
Technically one did not toast with tea, but she raised her cup to their future success. "Because nothing so small as Avery and Mulciber and Nott can possibly stop us as long as we keep them from achieving their aims."
Lucius raised his glass to meet hers. "To our aims, and our family, and our success," he toasted.