As a pure-blood, Lucius Malfoy never thought he would be susceptible to the ravages of ageing. Though only in his late forties, he looked considerably older than his father did at his age. He discarded his hair brush—leaving copious strands of grey trapped within the bristles. He briefly massaged the puffy sacks under his eyes, though he neglected the coarse beard that irritated the skin on his face. He shook the ash off of his velvet evening jacket and put it on over his shirt; the top button remained undone for lack of a proper tie. Satisfied, he gave regard to the elf, who waited patiently by the door, and he commanded, "Send him in."
The elf obeyed and exited the parlour room. A moment later, a young man with blond hair walked through the doors. He was Lucius' spit and image from twenty years ago, and Lucius eagerly shook his hand when he approached.
"Father," Draco greeted. "You're looking rested."
"Thank you." Lucius noticed that Draco had not bothered to remove his gloves. "I was just about to have dinner; the elves would be happy to set you a place at my table."
"Don't trouble yourself, father. I shan't be staying long," Draco said. "I'm here on a matter of business, actually."
Lucius arched a curious eyebrow. "What sort of business?"
"You're probably not aware that I'm applying for the Wizengamot internship program—"
"I am aware." Lucius was quick to interrupt.
Draco nodded in apology. "Then you should know that, in spite of my best efforts, I have been unable to broker a sponsor to fund my continued education."
"Then by all means, take whatever you need from the family vault at Gringotts."
"It's not that simple." Draco averted his eyes, unable to look at his father directly. "I suspect that I haven't been able to secure a sponsor because my last name is Malfoy."
"I see." Lucius lowered his head, pondering the completeness of his failure as a father—to learn that his name had become a liability to his son.
"I was hoping you could persuade one of your foreign subsidiaries—preferably one of which you are a silent investor?"
Lucius smiled at his son's ingenuity. If there was one thing a Malfoy understood, it was prudence. "I'll send an owl first thing in the morning to one of my American enterprises. You'll have a sponsor by week's end."
"Thank you, Father."
The two men stood in silence, neither one knowing what to say next—or if further discussion was even necessary.
As the elder of the two, Lucius put the onus upon himself to break the silence. "Are you sure you won't stay?"
"Sorry, but mother's waiting for me back at the manor. She doesn't know I'm here."
The two said their goodbyes, and Draco departed without further pretence. Lucius removed his jacket and retired to his study. He locked the door and searched his pockets for his lighter, preferring candlelight to bright incandescent bulbs. As such, he lit the candelabras at his desk and poured himself a generous amount of Firewhisky. He swished it slowly in his glass so as to let it breathe.
"Pity that your own son can't stand to be in the same room with you for five minutes."
Lucius, startled by the unfamiliar feminine voice, dropped his glass; it shattered upon striking the floor. "Who's there?"
"It is I."
The response was unsatisfying and cryptic. He retrieved the revolver from his desk and pointed it at the ominous shadow standing next to the window. "Show yourself, or I'll shoot!"
"That won't be necessary, my slippery friend."
The mysterious figure stepped into view. Her face remained concealed under a cowl, so the first things Lucius noticed of this uninvited guest were her bare legs. They were long, smoothly muscular—like a dancer's—and were painted an ethereal pallid hue by the moonlight shining through the windowpane.
She removed her hood, and her red hair floated down to just past her shoulders. The intensity with which she regarded Lucius made the gun in his hand tremble. In stark contrast, her gentle familiar features were without blemish, save for a blood-stained bandage wrapped around her forehead.
Lucius' eyes narrowed in recognition. "You're Weasley's brat! What are you doing in my home?"
"Oh, Lucius, have you fallen so far that you fail to see beyond the flesh?"
The colour drained from Lucius' cheeks, and the gun fell at his feet. It was indeed a woman's voice; however, it was spoken with the inimitable meter and inflection of someone who he thought long dead. Thus spake the former Death Eater, "Is that you, My Lord?"
The Dark Lord's reply was a dull wicked smile. He extended his puppet's arm, and the gun levitated to her waiting hand. "Such a crude and useless implement… Why have you not replaced your wand after all this time?"
Lucius averted his eyes. "No wand will have me." He fell to his knees in shame and prostrated himself before his former master, using his own tears to wash her feet and his own hair to dry them. He kissed her perfectly manicured toes, painted red as blood, before he was bidden to rise.
"There is nothing more damaging to a wizard than for him to lose his self-respect. Poor Lucius, how have you managed to live with yourself in such a state?"
"I don't know."
Lord Voldemort placed a gentle hand on his disciple's haggard, unshaven cheek. "You used to be so beautiful, Lucius… like an angel." He sat Lucius down in the chair. A wand was drawn, and various implements from around the house magically gathered onto the desk. From among them, a small brush was selected that was then whisked into a bowl of water mixed with powder. The resulting frothy solution was liberally applied to Lucius' face using that same brush. "It is a shame that shaving has become a lost art. It remains as one of the most elegant demonstrations of the limits of magic, for to be done properly, it must be done by hand." He then opened the desk drawer where he knew Lucius kept his dagger. He wetted the cursed blade in the wash bowl, stood behind his former pupil and slowly shaved off a small section of scruff.
Lucius sat still but objected, "You mustn't do this, My Lord, for you are greater than I."
"How can I be greater when I myself have never served?"
"I don't understand, My Lord. I have failed you… betrayed you."
"And you were right to do so, dear Lucius."
Lucius closed his eyes. The clock on the mantle ticked the seconds away quietly, supplanted only by the intermittent sound of sharp metal scraping skin. The woman's hands were skilled and gentle, and she smelled strangely of antiseptic.
"My magic and cunning has kept me alive all this time, yet I persist in a state that has rendered me a mere spectator to the events of recent history. The piece of my soul, trapped as an outsider looking in, has had the unique opportunity to witness the folly of my designs…" Voldemort paused to regard his reflection in the mirror across the room, and he scowled. "However, it has been a challenge to sift through the perceptions and feelings of this… limited female that houses my essence."
The Dark Lord laid the knife atop the desk and came about to stand before him. "Verily, it is I who have failed you. Will you forgive me, Lucius?"
"O-of course, My Lord."
Voldemort smiled playfully and removed the travelling cloak his body was wearing.
Dressed solely in a hospital gown, the candlelight accentuated her skin's fleshly tones and served to reveal the silhouette of her perfect figure underneath the sheer fabric. She lowered herself onto Lucius' lap and retrieved the blade to get at the last piece of scruff under his chin. Her hand, guided by the will of Voldemort, expertly removed the last of Lucius' unkempt beard.
Lucius continued to grip the chair's armrests tightly, sure that at any time, the Dark Lord could easily slit his throat. Yet, he would welcome such a fate so long as this supple young body remained pressed against his. It had been so long since his wife had left him that he had forgotten how warm and inviting it was between a woman's legs. Yearnings long dormant now started to rise to the surface, making it painfully evident just how simply shaggable a nineteen-year-old woman could be.
Lucius' natural reactions to his Lord's ministrations were not lost on Voldemort. The master sneered and whispered seductively,"Does this 'shell' please you, Lucius?"
"Y-yes, My Lord."
"I regret that I don't have much time before my host regains consciousness. Otherwise…" Voldemort beckoned Lucius' hands to explore underneath the gown, and her young body shuddered at Lucius' competence. "Do you remember when I loved you best, Lucius?"
"I remember, My Lord."
"That is because you served me like no other." Using a cold wet towel, she started to clean his face. "Serve me again, and we can both start anew. We will redefine the limits of all magic... together. "
"Forgive me, My Lord, but I still don't understand how you survived."
"That is what I need you to suss out for me." She put her finger to Lucius' lips, shushing him from further inquiry. "It is up to you, Lucius, to find the key to making me whole again—to making us both whole again."