Who: Lucius and Narcissa Malfoy What: Bills have come due When: Night of 21 June Where: Malfoy Manor Warnings: Horcrux talk and discussion of other DE-type deeds.
When Lucius returned from his meeting at OWLS, Narcissa presented him with the letter that he had received from Edward Nott. She hadn't opened it since it was addressed directly to Lucius, but she could guess what it contained. One look at Lucius' face when he read the missive inside the sealed envelope confirmed her suspicions.
"He wants the book, doesn't he?"
"Yes," he replied, attempting to control his demeanor. She'd still be able to read him, of course. The same approach they had with Rodolphus. 'I had hoped you would prove to be more prompt or more resourceful and not require additional prompting.' On the one hand, their underestimation just hands me power, on the other, we have to respond in a way that avoids them arriving in force and assaulting the manor."
Narcissa arched her perfect eyebrows. "I'm going to be exceedingly cross if he deals with you as he did with Rodolphus."
Lucius grinned, ferally. "I'm going to be exceeding pleased." He pulled a faceted ruby on a chain from his waistcoat pocket. "I've found the key to reactivate The Star of Mogok, and it will work as a curse-absorber/reflector. If it comes to that, though, it will mean an immediate war. I think I'll need to keep that in reserve." He poured himself a tall draught of water and offered to make Narcissa a drink. "We need to finalize our plans and turn the book over to them."
With a nod, Narcissa accepted the offer, and, a moment later, the crystal tumbler. "After my last outing with dear Bellatrix and Rodolphus, I won't be sorry to have the thing out of the house. I think it's only a matter of time until Bellatrix tries to steal one. I'd rather it was from them--Nott and Mulciber--than us."
He drank deeply, knowing he needed his head clear tonight. "Your dear sister might be more motivated to restore it than even the esteemed Misters Nott and Mulciber. But I agree. Would you like to check the enchantments again? Nott may give me the benefit of the doubt when I suggest they're my father's protections, but I don't know that Mulciber will care."
Narcissa emptied her own glass and set it aside, moving to the secretary desk and opening it with a drop of blood from her finger on the lock. From one of the drawers, she produced a set of crystal lenses. "Let us look at the wretched thing, then. And may they find no joy in it." She extended her arm for Lucius to take her down to the workroom where the artefacts were kept.
Lucius took her arm and waited for her to hold on to his waist. He looked into her eyes, fighting against the distraction of her closeness. It was a battle he wouldn't have minded losing. "May they find much that is not joyful indeed." Lucius pulled out his wand, quickly lit it, and apparated the two of them to the secret basement. The tables and workbenches of a dark artificer filled the place, along with cabinets and chests of equipment.
A permanent protective circle was in the central position on the worktable, where Lucius had placed the multiply cursed writing book. It was one of the few places that Lucius had taken completely over from his father. It was also one of the few places that had been truly his father's. Lucius had been restricted to a lab in the old garconniere on the grounds. He'd moved his best gear from there the day after he cleared his father's working tools out. It had been cathartic, like having Dobby clear out the old man's desk.
With some regret, Narcissa relinquished her hold on Lucius and stepped away from him, toward the bookstand. She drew out her own wand and cast several spells of detection and sight on it, using the lenses she'd brought down from the library to complete her review. "The concealment charm is working," she told Lucius, "and I believe the charm that ties the book to the Manor is as well. They'll certainly spot the one that leaves the possessor greedy for the thing once he takes it out of here, but they may miss the cursed disease. And since the tracker is concealed under all that, they'll have a hard time finding it.
"If Nott passes it to Mulciber, they'll end up dueling for it, and whichever of them recruits Avery--probably Nott--will survive," she pronounced.
"Yes, We want them to find the possessiveness curse. It might make them stop looking. We'll have to take the tie to the Manor off if the cursed thing survives, since we don't want it hurting later generations. I still intend to go with 'my father did his best to keep this from me and everyone else' and let them think I couldn't outcast the old fool. They'll probably assume the greed curse has me as well." He looked over at his wife, admiring her delicate, precise, and accurate wand work. "Is there anything you can think to add?"
"Just enhancing the greed curse so they don't want to pass it to each other." Narcissa shrugged. "It might be gilding the lily, though."
"Not if we're careful. A light touch of paranoia to that one, and let them work out how to implement it themselves."
Lucius turned back to the book in the protective ring, determining the best way to enhance the curses as Narcissa suggested. Artefact work wasn't the same as spellcraft. A skilled artificer had to balance the forces of the spell so that they would trigger only when they should, he had to keep the powerful forces suspended without breaking down indefinitely, and he had to keep the power from destroying the vessel.
He had always considered artificery to be a higher form of magic. He was happy that places like Hogwarts left this kind of training to experts--there were far too many poorly made artefacts as it stood, without introducing student-quality work to the pool. Once Lucius was ready, he began to manipulate the bindings. A few quick passes with his wand caused the spells to appear, like glowing spiderwebs. He set to work, pushing and pulling at the connections and metaphysical intersections.
"That should do it. I added a bit of aggressiveness to the possession charm and I added a bit to the protective spells to keep that aspect suppressed. It's not like they don't already despise each other. Let them prove it," he replied, smiling. Triumvirates were inherently unstable, and moreso when the triumvirs were not particularly stable to start with.
Narcissa nodded. "I'll give it one last pass. Then let's go upstairs and write back to Nott. I look forward to seeing him--the back of him, anyhow."
Lucius returned to his wife, ready to apparate back to the warmer, more comfortable realm of the living room. "We'll wear our finest to his funeral."