Chapter 24 - Lunch with Auntie

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∞ 24 ∞

LUNCH WITH AUNTIE


Lucius and four others sat silently having lunch at a long table, in a large, high-ceilinged dining room. The room, as well as the rest of the house had an old, French country château style to it to match its outer edifice: august, yet comforting and lived in. Like all of the house, it was decorated in varying tones of grey, milk-white and flax. It was filled with both gilt and powdery-painted furniture; large candelabras; silvery mirrors; cut crystal; soft, pure white linen; fat, feather-filled cushions where there were seats and heavy fixtures of chunky stone, or dark and slightly rusted, curled iron. The panelled walls were painted in a pleasing, chalky, French-grey distemper which nicely framed the heavy, ornately carved, stone mantlepiece in the room. Sunlight streamed in through the tall windows, past the long, celadon green, silk curtains and caught the crystals of the large, shimmering chandelier above the table, casting out pretty rainbow flecks here and there about the room.

Lucius sat at the head of the table. Present with him were: Draco, Draco's fiancée Astoria, who sat across from Draco and Lucius's two aged aunts, who sat much further down the table and so weren't really able to engage in conversation with anyone apart from themselves. "The aunts" were his great aunt Hestia on his father's side and Narcissa's aunt Urania, who was naturally younger than Hestia, but no less horrible. Lucius detested both aunts, so was more than happy to eat his soup in peace, without having to hear from either of them (or from Draco who frankly got on his nerves most of the time with his increasing demands that he felt obligated to meet as a father, in an effort to make up for the disgrace he knew he had brought on the boy). Although he felt more than anyone that he 'owed' his son, the young Wizard milked the situation so badly, the sentiment was wearing thin for Lucius. Astoria was the only one out of them he didn't mind so much, he just didn't feel particularly comfortable with her yet. Annoyingly, Draco seemed to be unnerved by the silence and decided to make inane conversation:

"Doesn't Father look well with his new haircut?"

{silence}

"I tell you, that suit looks glorious," Draco continued and Lucius flared his nostrils slightly, looking down at his soup. Astoria made a gesture at Draco with her eyes (that Draco wasn't sure about the meaning of) and also looked away. Then there were several more seconds of awkward silence.

"Well after all André & Anselm are the best in the business at the moment." Draco added with an forced chuckle. (Lucius couldn't be bothered to say that it was a suit he'd had from before.)

"...Honestly it's ahh lucky I'm taken, or else umm – I'd uhh, I'd have to ahh, watch out for myself. Haha... There would certainly be uhh, a duel over the young ladies. I tell you." With that, he quickly looked over to Astoria, who was looking at him disparagingly and gave her a nervous, placating smile.

Suddenly the same, ever-so-slightly Caribbean, invisible female voice from earlier said: "I liked him the way he was."

"Thank you Auntie," Lucius spoke up in an appreciative tone, directing his words to the side of the room, where the voice came from.

"But I also prefer him shaved and nice and lovely, as he was before."

"Yes – THANK YOU Auntie." Lucius asserted. His expression changing back to one of irritation, he looked peevishly out the corner of his eyes.

There was another long, awkward silence... ... ...

When it seemed everyone had finished their soup, Lucius rapped the table twice with his knuckles and the plates started to vanish. A subtle look of weary resentment came over his face as he did it. The source of the resentment was because in the Malfoy household, as with the majority of Magical households with staff, the staff would normally come into the dining room to collect and serve, but Draco (who was putting up a good show of modernising the family in the public eye, yet doing anything but in private) had insisted that they follow an older aristocratic tradition where servants were never seen. It was an outdated practice mostly only observed in current times at restaurants, institutions, or very formal occasions. Only certain ultra conservative families –and some old fashioned, culturally homogenous families from a few countries where archaic, Magical practices were still prevalent– did this sort of thing now. Even Draco's mother's family the Blacks, who were as close to ultraconservative as a Wizarding family could get, didn't observe the custom at home. But, to please his son, Lucius now had to tap on the table for his meals, which infuriated him.

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