Chapter 48 - Back Against the Wall

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∞ 48 ∞

BACK AGAINST THE WALL


Lucius was back from a disastrous Lupercalia. At the Constantine's fête, he received papers that his cousin Apollonius was suing for rights to occupy Malfoy Manor. The grounds for the lawsuit were preposterous claims that Lucius's father Abraxas had taken an oath of adoption toward him and –being two months younger than Lucius– as the 'second son', he was technically entitled to the house if Lucius wasn't going to make use of it. The suit was preposterous not least because both Apollonius's parents were still alive and to his knowledge, Mr Doucereux had never disowned his son!

Although Malfoys had lived in the house since it was first built in the 11th century, Lucius was far less concerned than one would have expected about letting the home go to a non-Malfoy. (He was more worried about what Apollonius would try and claim next!) He had few happy memories of the house in the first place and with the taint of terrible things that had happened there during the war, now out of the house, he realised he had no interest in ever returning. He knew Draco however, would not be so yielding. As Lucius had done when he married, Draco planned on setting up his own household and had naturally chosen the Manor. Draco was brooding quietly about the matter, but Lucius knew if he didn't do something to counter Apollonius, he would lose what little relationship he had salvaged with his son. Worse still, he had a feeling this was just the beginning of Apollonius's trouble making which had been brewing for years. He was tired of the constant onslaught from aggressors and it was tough to be strong and responsible when he just wanted to crawl away and hide.

Lucius was taking some quiet time brushing down his favourite horse Sugar, when Socrates came in urging him to take her tears. He knew what it was about. The best thing to do was keep away – which is what he had done. He didn't see the harm in letting Socrates look in on the girl – if that's what Socrates wanted to do. It was up to the Castlefinch what she did in her private time, but he himself had far more important things to worry about and was rather content that he no longer saw the strange girl...

Lucius finally obliged after Socrates persisted.

Socrates had been concerned for good reason! The girl looked in a terrible state! He could see through her bedroom window that she was dressed in many layers of clothes, as if she were the one sitting outside. She sat up crouched in her bed, apparently in terrible pain and then got up feebly, nearly collapsed and vomited into an enamel basin on the floor. It seemed to take all her strength to get up off her knees and she returned to her bed, walking slowly with her eyes sealed closed. Then her eyes opened suddenly and she turned back with some urgency, missing the basin so that the vomit spewed out onto the floor which obviously frustrated her greatly, but she left the mess there and crawled back into bed. She curled into a padded, shuddering ball and then after a while, stretched out flat as a board, writhing around arching her back and clutching at her stomach and chest. She looked to Lucius like a different girl than he had seen at the market that day. Even through all the layers of clothing and graininess in Socrates's tears, he could see she was painfully thin. The usual circles under her eyes were very dark and puffy; there were sore, red cracks at the corners of her mouth; her whole face was swollen fat, in stark contrast to her meagre build. She looked almost as if she had been beaten. Her hair was messy and the rest of her looked very unkempt too, as did the room. At first Lucius thought she had been poisoned, but realised the likelihood of a Muggle being poisoned was extremely remote.

It was good of Socrates to alert him, the girl really did look shockingly bad! He very much felt sorry for her, but... What could he do? SHE WASN'T HIS BLOOD... It was not his responsibility. It was too bad, but he had more than enough to worry about.

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