Chapter 4 - The Shakes

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Lucius went upstairs to his bedroom. He couldn't be bothered with having dinner in the dining room with the others and instead called his little House-Elf Bibsey, to bring him some nettle soup and toast. He didn't show it as much as he could have, but Bibsey was his favourite Elf ever. She and her brother Bobsey and their forebears had been in his family for millennia. When Lucius got married, he chose the two Elves as a present from his parents to go with him and Narcissa in starting their new family. Then when his father died and his mother came to live with them, she also brought their four and then there were two that belonged to his Intergenti and childhood nurse, who owned the house they had all decamped to. (Narcissa had also brought two House-Elves with her from her family –one of whom he lost during an unfortunate incident in the years between the two wars– but that still made nine, which was an extraordinary number for any household, even by old blood standards.)

House-Elves were exceptionally rare magical beings, who were bound to live with and serve the few families they belonged to forever and were something like a mix between willing slave, confident, parent, child, exterior subconscious, and pet. They were fantastical looking beings: about three feet tall with gangly little arms and legs, bulbous heads, enormous eyes and bat like ears. Small and make-believe looking as they were, House-Elves had their own potent magic which didn't require the use of wands as Wizards generally used. Possibly (like Lucius) they had simply evolved into not using wands out of necessity. Unlike Lucius, they and all the other non-Homo sapiens Magical species of their world, had been forbidden as long as anyone could remember from having the magical instruments (forbidden by Witches and Wizards, who somehow thought themselves superior to all other species and had somehow gotten away with it). This was probably because elves were the only species to have magical power equal –although different– to that of Wizards. While most other Magical species viewed Magical Homo sapiens with tinges of spite and distrust, incredibly, House-Elves welcomed being reigned over. And this was due to the to their dependency on Wizard kind, for as a species, House-Elves could not emotionally and mentally flourish without being permanently bound in service to a Wizard family. Even within a family, each Elf usually had one particular Wizard they loved above all others, and would happily serve and cleave to until death. It was an Elf's foremost desire that their "master" should be well looked after and happy. If their Wizard half was unhappy or ill, then they would become unhappy and ill – because to an Elf, their Wizard's consciousness was an integral part of their own consciousness. Even though it was completely ordinary that Elves needed, doted on, were unwaveringly loyal to and slavishly supportive of their Wizard masters in order to live, little Bibsey's expression of devotion toward Lucius was on an exceptional level.

When he was sent to Azkaban prison a few years earlier for his unfortunate involvement with the Death Eaters, the family thought she might die from pining for him; even Lucius's lifelong animal familiar, Socrates –a Castlefinch who was born on the same day and destined die on the same day as he– was not as upset. The situation became so dire, the Committee for the Preservation of Rare Magical Species got involved and the Ministry of Magic finally had to make a special dispensation to allow Bibsey to go and stay with Lucius in prison. Considering the seriousness of what Lucius had been sent to prison for and the fact that House-Elf magic could break a person out of even a high security jail – that Bibsey was still allowed to go to Lucius, was a testament to how grave a state she was in without him... Now, little Bibsey was such a wreck over Lucius's current lack of wellbeing, he found himself assuring her at least once daily that he was quite well (not true of course) and he found himself trying to think of positive thoughts in order to boost himself up just for her sake. On this night, he had to promise her that he was: "entirely happy and it is only that I cannot bear the terrible aunts at dinner," (which was true) and that: "I am actually looking forward to an early night to catch up on reading," (which was somewhat true). In any case, his mind was too weary to concentrate on scientific work, or to worry about his impending bi-monthly Faith Agreement Progress Review and he had nothing better to do.

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