July 4: Morning at Malfoy Manor Who: Lucius and Narcissa Malfoy What: Preparing for an Auror interview and house search When: Early morning, 4 July Where: Malfoy Manor Warnings: Death Eater talk; discussion of the violence and death at Mungo's.
The Aurors were late, and it wasn't simply that they needed time to arrive past the Manor's hair-trigger wards. Lucius looked back into the parlor where their solicitor, Merritt Greengrass, was going over some papers to better prepare himself for the discussions. Lucius waked into the vestibule where Narcissa was watching the baby.
"If the Aurors don't kill Bella, I may. What an exceedingly stupid thing to do. And what an abysmally idiotic way to go about doing it."
"While normally I would protect you from the necessity, in this case I would cede to your right to take care of the matter as a family affair." Lucius never liked having the Ministry at the Manor--they spent entirely too much of their visit prying into irrelevant matters. "I wonder if she did it to challenge Arlo explicitly. 'You told me to lay low and I came to your place and did not lie low.' It's a very … tribal method of challenging a failed leader." He shook his head. "They danced together at our wedding, remember?"
As a distraction tactic, it was successful. "Everyone danced at our wedding, dear. Bella was on good behaviour that day because our parents would have killed her, if I didn't get to her first. No one in my birth family, present or former, is allowed to ruin things for you and me."
Draco didn't like the tone of his mother's voice and began to crawl toward her. Narcissa scooped him up. "You may have to do completely without aunts, Draco. I hope Rabastan will be up to avuncular duties."
"My father thought him unworthy of the Lestrange name, which endears him to me, of course. He'll rise to the occasion, I'm sure. Or perhaps your mother can re-marry and give Draco more aunts and uncles. I'm sure she'd appreciate pressure from us to do her duty to her family." He held out his hand, and the baby squeezed it tightly That always helped ground him.
"I can't decide if the government thinks we're all guilty of whatever Bella did or if they're just convinced that we'd like to hide her in the nursery with the babies. Do you think there's any chance that this wasn't something that she did of her own free will?"
Skepticism twisted Narcissa's lips. "It would be good if we could sell it to the Aurors but the truth is I'm not sure anyone could hold that spell on her save the Dark Lord himself."
Lucius didn't think so, either. "She either had the discipline to avoid leaving the mark, or she was being pursued too closely to raise it. No matter how much I want her not to be responsible for this fiasco, I believe she was.
"I've heard nothing from the diminished triad, of course. They're probably trying to decide if they can protect themselves from her wrath. Has your mother sent a return owl? Or howler?"
"Not yet, but she may not be finished with the DMLE either." That it should, technically, be the other way round was beside the point. Druella Rosier Black was making some Auror's life a living hell today; better the Aurors than Narcissa and Lucius. "Also she knows better than to send a howler anywhere near Draco. He is the last heir of the Blacks, and moreso today than yesterday."
Lucius smiled. "Perhaps your mother is why our visitors are tardy. If Bella keeps this up, Draco will be last heir of half of the great wizarding families, instead of just a quarter. Who's really at risk? Nott, Avery, Potter. Any witnesses she left behind as loose ends, perhaps. Rabastan, if she wants to hurt Rodolphus without actually killing him. Do you have any idea how he provoked that? It's one thing to disagree with your spouse, but hospitalization is something else.
"I suspect your mother will be more concerned about that than about Arlo." Lucius thought for a moment. "I know I am."
"Based on the Prophet and the wireless, she'll have a time with the loose ends. It was most of a full ward." Narcissa shook her head as she dandled Draco on her knee. Draco was still reaching for Lucius, though; she gave up after a moment and moved to hand the child to his father. "Rodolphus has been double-dealing with her for a while, even moreso than I have. We've been trying to keep her quiet but I don't think she's quite absorbed that we're less interested in a master than she is. She loves the Dark Lord, darling. Possibly more than Rodolphus. And if she truly understands that some of us don't want him back--" Narcissa hesitated, and finally settled on "--it might be well for us all if she's out of Britain."
The baby was light in his arms and Lucius played the age-old game of tossing the child and catching him. Draco gurgled excitedly and drooled on Lucius's boot. "It would, but why would she go? She'd either need something to do or something to protect to make that course of action appealing to her. In order to get her on this path, we'd need to communicate with her, in a way that neither brought her focus onto us nor gained us more attention from the Ministry.
"They'll want to know if we can explain why Bella might've wanted to attack Arlo. Since the attack started in Arlo's office, they may be thinking it was aimed at him. Honestly, I prefer that line of investigating. We don't want them to tie Bella to Godric's Hollow when we've told them she was here, recovering from her miscarriage."
Narcissa frowned, concern taking over from displeasure. "Arlo's hardly a midwifery expert but I'm sure we can think of some way to tie it to him. Perhaps he told her something wrong that she believed led to the miscarriage. That would imply she took some kind of severe damage, though, and we've been careful not to report any of her injuries. Perhaps something informal with private duelling." That was the problem with Bella, always: she did things that made it hard to lie around her.
"We should make it as truthful as possible, but I think 'She didn't like something he said to Rodolphus' puts too much pressure on your brother-in-law. I think 'She was particularly fragile after her recent female situation. She might've been having some sort of unexpected potion side effect', could work. And could also explain why she was talking to Arlo in the first place. Family matters are a private thing, so she could well have been seeing a high-ranking healer quietly." Lucius wasn't sure if this was the best option, "Or we could let them come to their own opinion. I'm not sure if we have a best play here, other than encourage Bella to go to ground, far away."
The fact that Bella had left them nothing to do was part of why the situation was so frustrating. "We don't know, so that's all we can tell them. The truth can be a weapon of its own. If we tell a lie, they won't believe us, so why should we go to the effort of making one up?"
Lucius agreed with his wife, even if he liked the mental exercise of considering all his options before settling on a simple and safe strategy. "So, we're to be law-abiding but concerned citizens, distressed at the both the terrorism and the domestic violence that has occured."
Narcissa nodded. "I know it's a difficult role, dear, but you shall be mundane with panache, I'm sure."
He smiled at the compliment. "If I was too mundane, they'd be suspicious. At least Rodolphus wasn't killed as well. If ever we need an alibi for some crime we didn't commit, remind me not to have your sister nearly murder us."
"I'll do my best," Narcissa said agreeably as she took Draco back, "and try not to murder her as well."