Swimming Against the Tide
On Wednesday afternoons Lucius Malfoy liked to go for a swim. He found that it helped calm him, once he had located the right swimming baths. Lord Voldemort’s war had taken a definite toll on the Malfoy family, and each of them now pursued their own methods of relaxation.
But of course it could never be fully forgotten, not entirely. Even moving out of Malfoy Manor – something Lucius never thought he, or any of his line would ever do – had worked. Still the nightmares came, still the memories haunted him.
It had been nineteen years since the fall of Voldemort and his Death Eaters, and as Lucius changed out of his robes and into his bathing suit he was glad of the distraction that swimming brought. A decidedly Muggle pastime, Lucius wondered, as he hung his towel on a peg on the wall by the pool, why swimming had never caught on in the Wizarding world. Pride, probably. There was so much snobbery and disdain for all things Muggle back in the dark days, at least amongst the company that the Malfoys used to keep, that anything created by a Muggle was instantly looked down upon as inferior.
But this was wonderful, thought Lucius, as he slipped gracefully into the water and began his first length. Bravo to the Muggle who had first come up with the idea. Not even Hogwarts or the Ministry of Magic boasted a swimming pool. But they should, he thought, as he moved through the water with comforting ease. They really should. He could feel the cares of the day washing off of him as he swam. In here – his own private sanctuary – he was safe from the world, safe from his world. Many of the so-called “pure blood” families who had supported Voldemort before his defeat had found it difficult to go on after the war had ended. Many fled to other lands to start anew, some stayed and shut themselves away in their dusty mansions, too afraid to do anything else.
That had been the Malfoys for a while.
In his own mind he could admit that his heart had never truly been in it. His overblown sense of entitlement and his ingrained arrogance, not to mention a healthy dose of mind-numbing terror, had gone along with Voldemort and his insane plans for domination of the Wizarding world. Lucius smiled a wry smile as he finished another length, marvelling at how time and circumstance could change a man. The old Lucius, puffed up with pure blood frenzy and the unshakeable belief that what they were doing was right, would never have dared to question his devotion to the Dark Lord. But that was then, and this was now. Now there was no threat from Voldemort, as there was no Voldemort. And, the victors of the war had shown themselves to be magnanimous, something Lucius did not see at first. As he swam, his mind took him back to those early days after the war had ended, and how the fear of what the ones calling themselves Dumbledore’s Army could do to them seemed to outweigh even the fear of what Lord Voldemort was capable of.
But they didn’t do anything.
Lucius stopped at the end of the pool to catch his breath. He looked out across the clear water as it moved in the wake of his presence, and thought. He could not remember exactly how long it had taken for the doors of Malfoy Manor to open again, but the days before they did were some of the worst that Lucius had ever lived, and that included the time when their family home had been co-opted by the Dark Lord for his own ends. It had taken time, but eventually it became clear that no reprisal was on its way. No Aurors came blasting the doors off the hinges and dragging them off to Azkaban. Those who were left from Voldemort’s side after the war was over were given the chance to re-enter decent Wizarding society.
Decent Wizarding society.
Lucius allowed himself a little chuckle at this thought. He was grateful, most definitely grateful, that his family did not have to live in the shadows, but again he thought about what his former self – the old Lucius – would have made of all this. He was prideful to a fault, that he remembered all too well, and he knew that had he let that same pride continue to strangle him then he would have spat on the hand of friendship. He would have condemned his family for the sake of saving face. It all seemed so ridiculous now.
It really was amazing what a good swim could do for you.
Lucius finished his lengths and climbed out of the pool. He always felt so refreshed after his weekly swim. He would come more often, but the conditions for the perfect swim had to be just right, and coming too often might raise some questions.
A droplet of water landed in the pool with the merest of sounds.
Lucius looked up and smiled an old smile.
Decent Wizarding society, indeed.
A dozen or so feet above the water, suspended and silent, were several Muggles, all in their swimming attire, and all of them frozen. Their mouths, rictus-like and unmoving, sat below wild staring eyes that swivelled around madly. There were parents and children, elderly people, and young couples, all of whom would have ruined Lucius’ swim had they been permitted to use the pool at the same time as him. He knew it was a risk, but he had picked up quite a nice line in untraceable spells back in the day, and after all, he wasn’t hurting them. Times may have changed, and Lucius may have lost a lot of the old arrogances that carried him when he was a Death Eater, but some habits were hard to break, and Muggles, though ingenious, did tend to get in the way. There was enough of the old Lucius left not to pity them too much as they hung in mid-air while he enjoyed his swim, but not so much that he would leave them there, or simply drop them back into the pool once he was done. No, he would lower them gently back into the water and Obliviate their minds so that they had no recollection at all. Still, he thought, as he shouldered his bag and made ready to leave, it was fun to let them know what was going on whilst it happened.
He had changed.
But not completely.
Lucius thought some more about what exactly decent Wizarding society meant, as he replaced the Muggle bathers in the water and made his exit from the baths.
Marvellous pastime, swimming, he thought.
Keeps a man decent.
- November 2016
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