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OFF TO SEE YOUR LITTLE PET?
It was the end of the first week of Lupercalia. Draco was in London with his soon to be in-laws. Lucius had decided last minute he wasn't going for any of the festivities as he was supposed to and as was customary. Draco was of course livid. Lupercalia was the most important holiday of the year and lasted three weeks. Everyone in the Wizarding world celebrated it. Its historic function was as a setting for young Witches and Wizards –as well as single older ones– from all over the world to meet and have a suitable amount of time to find potential pairings. In modern times Lupercalia's traditional function was still central, but it was also an important time when financial and political bonds were made. Apart from wanting his father paired again and married off as soon as possible, Draco expected him to be there 'putting up a good show'. The few people that Lucius liked would be attending of course and some would even be hosting events, but he still had no interest in faking a smile through three weeks of social gatherings – regardless of who was giving them. There would be young upstarts trying to gain his attention in business deals that he had no interest in (or otherwise trying their best to outshine, or humiliate him). No, he really had no stomach for it.
Even with the Ministry's heavy war fines, he had enough gold as far as he was concerned. He also couldn't be bothered dealing with the far-too-young (or otherwise, frankly far too old) Witches being peddled shamelessly past him. Everyone he met had –if not a daughter, a sister, or a Sacrafilia– an old aunt, an acquaintance, or even a granny that needed marrying off. And he had no interest in Draco's tedious insistence that he prance himself around like a show pony, trying to impress everyone and convince them Lucius Malfoy really was a lovely fellow and they had all gotten it all wrong: 'Why, he wasn't an evil, death eating gargoyle. He was in fact a really affable, cuddly, sentimental sort,' Bahh! And in any case, he felt fat in all of his robes... and old. Lucius also felt completely emasculated in public without his wand, even though he could get by very well without it.
It was already well past the time to leave; he hadn't even packed and was half-heartedly making a start with Bibsey and Auntie, when Socrates had flown in and told him something was wrong with the Muggle girl. Helping her with the car and making sure she got in safely, had delayed him further... and then it seemed like a good excuse not to go altogether.
Lucius raced through a late breakfast, checking his pocket watch a couple times as he ate. He closed the paper he had been skimming, put his napkin down and checking his watch once more, got up. Viewing himself in a mirror, he smoothed his hair out of his face, checked his teeth and stood up straight. With an air of seriousness, he checked his little paunch, that looked like it had gone down some and then checked in with Sander, before getting his cloak and setting off toward a small side entrance near the back stairs closest to his apartment.
"Off to see your little pet again today?" a voice enquired. It was Narcissa's aunt Urania, suddenly appearing through a doorway as he was about to take the one opposite.
"I am sure I don't know what you mean Urania," said Lucius, stopping and turning with a purposely vacant expression as he fixed the clasp on his collar.
"Your little goat girl?... Of course I mean the Muggle girl who lives over in the valley," she said in a wicked tone. "I would have thought you learned your lesson with the first pet... but this one is different isn't she? Rather a lot more grown up."
"I do not have the slightest inkling of what you are going on about Urania, but if it amuses you (seeing as you haven't any suitors to entertain this holiday) by all means."
"... in the little stone cottage – with the blue shutters? That is: DIRTY, little stone cottage with DIRTY, blue shutters," Urania continued making it clear to Lucius that she not only knew of the Muggle girl, she knew where to find her. She had managed to position herself in front of Lucius's path.
"Is there a white cottage with blue shutters in the valley? How idyllic."
"My, my, if the world only knew what a gallant H.L.H.O.M really is," she said eyeing the monogram on his cloak and reaching out to touch it.
Lucius lifted his wand arm to Urania as a warning not to touch him."Just because you live under my household, do not mistake our kinship. That is all the time I have for you this week Urania. Now, I will ask you politely to m--"
"I suppose it makes a change from worthy Witches like my divine niece – less of a challenge I imagine. But then I suppose after you ruined yourself and the family--"
"This 'conversation' has finished. I will ask you to move, or--"
"Mind you, this one might be rather pretty, if she put a spark of effort to it – well, for a FILTHY LITTLE MUGGLE, of course. Selfish of you putting her in danger – don't you think? Poor little thing."
"Don't you have some small children that need fattening up? Why don't you involve yourself in something useful, instead of spying on the neighbours and indulging yourself in crude fantasies?" Lucius sneered. "I'll show you how gallant I am. Now move, or be moved!" Lucius commanded and walked past Urania.
"Mind you don't also get this one impaled to a wall like a butterfly," Urania called out viciously as he exited.
Lucius indeed had begun to enjoy his detached visits to the little cottage with the blue-green shutters. But he needed to deny any connection with the Muggle girl for her sake. As wicked as Urania's intentions were, she was right in some respect. It was dangerous for anyone to have a close connection to him. A Witch or a Wizard could handle themselves. The girl (any Muggle) didn't stand a chance if his enemies thought hurting her would hurt him. There was, in reality, no chance of him becoming strongly attached to the girl, but they didn't know that... And who knew what those wicked old hags would cook up; they had nothing better to do than brew their spite and bile. He didn't want them getting the wrong idea and focusing their attentions on the sweet, strange little thing – she seemed to have enough disaster surrounding her as it was. He would have to stop going to look for her – for her own sake. Pity, but for the best. Probably just as well; he had far too much work to do to be wasting time dawdling. He would put some concealing charms on the house ... perhaps even the Furie Hex to be sure. It was the correct and kind thing to do.
Lucius came back after a quick walk around the grounds. He didn't bother to go look for the girl one last time. He decided Sander could have D'Estaing put the charms up and he could check them when he got back. He had had a chance to clear his head and he thought about Draco being in London and he himself not being at the Lupercalia and realised he was being selfish. Draco needed him. He had promised his son (promised himself) that he would do whatever it took to make things good for him – or as good as they could be. He was hardly making a heroic effort.
Lucius left for England and the Lupercalia fêtes that evening.
chapter music selection: "EINE KLEINE NACHTMUSIK" (movt 4) - MOZART
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