Embracing His True Self

Chapter 105

"Do you honestly want to be part of Hermione's life?" Harry asked, staring pensively at Lucius, as if the wizard had gained contours that Harry hadn't expected. Not just the wizard either, but life itself. Honestly, Harry was so good at reading people. He'd had to be in order to survive the life he'd had with the Dursley's, it had been so ingrained by the time he got to Hogwarts that he'd continued that facet of his personality. He'd had Lucius' character down solid with just a single meeting. Or so he thought.

Vain, arrogant, powerful but believing himself to be more powerful than he was, had a lot of political clout, mostly through blackmail, reputation too blackened to be a real threat in the political arena. Dangerous, willing to do whatever it took to come out on top.

Now he was beginning to see new facets of Lucius' character, ones he most certainly didn't expect. Why? What had caused that shift that Lucius now felt he could express himself more with comfort? His mind latched onto the torture of Dumbledore and seeing all these powerful wizards bowing before him, in respect, in reverence, in awe, as their Lord Consort truly, for the first time. It couldn't be something simple like that could it?

Lucius glanced up, startled to see that Harry was still in the room, the Dark Lord himself was gone. Presumably escorting Weasley down to the cells until Grant could look him over. He hadn't been needed, but he often wasn't, the Dark Lord plans do often go off smoothly, he was a very strategic thinker now that his mind was no longer hindered. "I've spoken to Barty about her at length, she could do anything she wished, don't you agree?"

"For the most part, she's actually quite like Draco to be honest," Harry conceded, sitting down next to him, a twinge of surprise at the lack of reaction consumed him. "She's demanding, wants to know everything about everyone but actually refuses to share much of herself. While Draco believes wholeheartedly in you and Narcissa as parents, for Hermione its professors and adults in general. They both believe they're right and nothing can stop them once they get that into their heads. She like Draco believed the sun shone out Dumbledore's and your asses respectively. They aren't good at making friends, and they're actually bullies, Draco more obvious than Hermione's because Hermione bullied her friends, from bullying to do homework when she wanted us to do it, and to getting to the Great Hall, in classes and Draco just bullied everyone he didn't like."

Lucius' lips twitched into a smile he was fighting desperately, "Sounds just like me at that age," unfortunately, you grew up, Draco wouldn't always be this way, he may have let him off with too much, but he wouldn't remain the same. He certainly hadn't, and he knew his son wouldn't be either.

"Then how did you get on with Severus?" Harry asked curiously, not only had Severus been piss poor but honestly? With a Muggle name and being a half-blood in Slytherin? He was like a walking neon sign.

Lucius smirked wryly, "He might have gone by the name Severus Snape, but he was a Prince, you could see it. He looked very much like his mother, bless her soul, but more so like his grandfather. He was far more intelligent than the teens I spent most of my time with. You have no idea what it was like to be stimulated, challenged, and the fact it was an eleven-year-old doing it…I knew he was going to be extraordinary. Severus may well have been…the first real friend I had. We remained in touch; Severus was too proud even then to accept much help. I wish I could have imposed it upon him, the rumour mill at Hogwarts was always ridiculous but Severus confirmed a lot of what I thought to be false as truth." It didn't bear thinking about.

"Must have helped that he didn't care about your name or money," Harry said quietly, seeing Lucius in a new light.

"Or connections, or connecting to me for my parents, yes," Lucius agreed, standing he made his way to the panel in the bookshelf that held alcohol, raising a bottle in silent query.

"Go on then," Harry shrugged, who knows how long they'd be here.

"It's very rare to have a genuine and real friendship in the wizarding world," Lucius continued, walking back over, giving him the crystal glass. "Even people your own age, with status and just as much money doesn't really help. There's always more power to be had, always more money to be gained, they've been weaned on it from birth. I'm not sure where it ends, but I realized a long time ago that it doesn't matter."

"You mean when you became a father?" Harry easily deduced.

"Seventeen months after I became a father," Lucius corrected, there was a reason he hadn't even attempted to look for the Dark Lord. The revelation they'd had that night had been…overwhelming. He had learned humility, fear, terror, facing an earth-shattering revelation and at a young age of twenty-six. Not as young as those who had died, twenty-one, they realized, twenty-one years old they'd been when they died. He still believed in the Dark Lord's goals, always had, never stopped. Just not enough to have his son end up an orphan or his wife a widow. No cause was worth that, no power was worth it.

Harry huffled a little at the date, he knew Draco's birthday was sometime in June, "Go figure,"

Lucius just smiled tightly, surprising himself by how relaxed he was in Potter's presence, especially after watching him work.

"Can I ask you why you never approached Hermione?" Harry asked, sipping the wine at last, and was surprised by the taste, it was lovely. Then again, he shouldn't think anything less for a pureblood who probably had taste drilled into them from far younger than they ought to be.

Lucius shot him an inscrutable look as he daintily drank some wine, "You should recall your not-so-subtle threats,"

Harry itched his scalp for a few seconds, "Okay, since when would you pay attention to it?"

"Since you turned my sister-in-law into a squib," Lucius' wit was dry enough to make you feel the need for water.

Harry grinned, "I can sort of see why you and Severus get along now." the witticism, sarcasm and how it oozed from a wizard could hurt most people's feelings, but those that can appreciate the art? Find it refreshing, amusing and funny oddly enough. "I don't regret it." his amusement fading to seriousness, it was true Harry didn't regret it, even if it hurt people's feelings like Narcissa.

Lucius tightened his fingers on his glass, "I have no doubt about that." He wasn't sure why but Harry could wind him up like nobody else. Severus indicated that it wasn't just him, that he was an acquired taste. Which sounded absolutely disgusting, but luckily, he knew what the wizard meant. The fear for Harry had truly set in then, but the respect had only recently come to pass. He was beginning to understand what Severus meant.

If he didn't know any better, he'd actually say Severus cared about Potter as if he were his son.

"Look, I'll get her to get the test done, the rest of Hogwarts is getting it done anyway," Harry said leaning forward, swirling the wine about the glass. "She won't get in touch with you. She'll assume how Draco felt about 'Muggle-born's' is how you and Narcissa will feel. Which fair enough, is exactly how you felt until you knew she was blood. Even if she does know she might not want anything to do with you. Do you know she's wanting to hyphenate her name? She wants to prove herself on her own merits, on her so called 'Muggle blood'."

Disbelief warred with immense pride; he couldn't believe someone wouldn't use every advantage they had open to them. To pave their way much easier ride to do whatever they pleased. He wasn't sure he would have been able to do it should their roles have been reversed. Draco, he knew, also wouldn't have been able to do that. "I assume you're about to suggest something," he said, sitting back, crossing one knee over the other, sniffing the wine before taking a drink, the Dark Lord always made sure to have at least one bottle of his favourite wine. It came with being in the inner circle.

They were favoured and for good reason, they did good work.

"Don't try and give her advice until she trusts you, no matter how good and impartial the advice would be." Harry said cocking his head to the side, "She'd just do the opposite just because. Hermione has always…had her own set of rules."

"Meaning?" Lucius asked, narrowing his eyes, trying to gauge what Harry was going to come out with next.

"Meaning that during our first year she attacked Severus, set his robes on fire, could have really hurt him. When I cast a disarming charm, admittedly overpowered and caused Severus to go flying, she got on at me for attacking a teacher. Cheating is all sorts of wrong…but Hermione has actually cheated a time or two. Not to mention…she also broke rules by getting into a physical fight." Harry slyly said causing Lucius to startle, lip curling at the very idea of Muggle fighting.

Cleary, he didn't know just whom Hermione had unleashed her temper on. Taking on too many classes, had caused her temper to unleash on Draco Malfoy, comments that usually wouldn't have bothered her.

"Harry, please tell me you haven't stunned Lucius," Severus sounded surprised and exasperated as he walked into the room, he hadn't expected them to be there.

"I haven't stunned him," Harry said in mock defensiveness. "Honestly, what do you take me for? Do you think I'd stay here and let myself be found?"

Severus glanced between them, noticing the drink, the somewhat peaceful atmosphere and their relaxed postures. It seemed ludicrous but true, he never thought he'd see the day where they could be in the same room without Harry annoying Lucius into reacting stupidly. He wondered what had caused this, and where it had come from…Lucius' honesty earlier? He had told Lucius a time or two, honesty would go a long way of making them – Harry and Lucius – allies.

"Are you busy?" Lucius asked, it seemed like forever since Severus and he had been able to talk for longer than just a few minutes.

"Not at the moment, Grant isn't due for at least three hours." Severus replied, glancing at Lucius, was he feeing that uncomfortable that he felt the need to have him there to help? Or did he just honestly want to spend time with him? One could never really tell with Lucius.

"Only three?" Harry asked in surprise, as Lucius moved to get Severus a drink, which again, surprised him, then again, they weren't at his manor, it wasn't considered polite to have your own attending you from another's territory. "I saw the list, how is he going to get ten procedures done in three hours?" some require at least an hour between potions, otherwise it would be extremely dangerous.

"Only four really require his presence because of the level of potions the patients are required to take," Severus explained, sitting down, accepting the whiskey given to him by Lucius. "The rest of the progress can be overseen by Medi-witches, which I do believe he's about to see two qualify to being healers within the next two months."

"Wait, he's got two apprentices?" Harry asked startled, "He's never mentioned that." At least not to him. He knew how difficult apprenticeships were, especially for the Master trying to teach healing to one apprentice let alone two.

"Why do you think he's hardly ever around?" Severus asked Harry, lips twitching in amusement. Even Lucius was watching and waiting on an answer.

"It's always been that way, I just thought it was how it was." Harry shrugged.

"Its true enough, to go through the Medi-course and Healing requires five years, it's very intense," Lucius conceded Harry's explanation.

"More intense if you double your workload, and entirely possible," Severus agreed, he'd done that, it's why he'd become the youngest Potions master in the world.

"Not everyone has your dedication and determination." Lucius prompted, but he had been very proud of Severus when he learned he'd passed is Potions Mastery. He'd given Severus a set of cauldrons as a congratulatory gift, each size, and different texture, pewter, gold, bronze the works. Severus had completed five and a half years work in three years.

"Or know what they want to do," Harry added, "Just because you're good at something, doesn't mean it's what you can see yourself doing for the rest of your life." he was brilliant at potions, creating spells, but it wasn't all he wanted to do with his life…but the problem was…he didn't know what he wanted to do.

"Indeed," Severus inclined is head, "Lucius was one of the best students in Ancient Runes, in fact she still talks about him frequently to new classes without naming names. He could have gone on to make a difference to the subject, but unfortunately, he decided against it, because like you said, just because you're good at something, doesn't mean you want to continue on in that subject."

"And you with Arithmancy," Lucius agreed, "He's brilliant at it, he can make conclusions that make my head still spin."

"I agree, Arithmancy is bloody difficult," Harry nodded vehemently.

"Hardly," Voldemort said, as he joined the three of them, going straight for a drink for himself, he used a spell to ensure nothing was wrong with it, before he sat next to Harry, who leaned against him.

"Is he still alive?" Harry asked, may as well have just been asking about the weather for all he cared. Which, to be fair, he didn't, he'd done as expected of him and endured.

"Of course, he is," Voldemort didn't even bother from refraining from rolling his eyes, sometimes its like Harry thought he had no restraint.

"I wouldn't have blamed you," Harry offered up, sniggering under his breathe. "He has a unique way of getting under your skin, while coming off as the victim."

Lucius snorted derisively, his stance and thoughts on the Weasley's was well known. He detested Arthur Weasley, his fascination with muggle stuff was below every single wizard. If the Weasley's had been significantly wealthy…everyone would just consider him 'eccentric' and ignore his penchant for Muggle items. Unfortunately, the Weasley's hadn't been anywhere near 'rich' for quite a while, the only reason Arthur had any money to buy his firstborn things, he reckoned, was due to his mother's money, the Black's. Septimus' brother – Lord Weasley – had entirely diminished the Weasley coffers. He'd gotten it all, his brothers were dead but the Weasley dynamics weren't known to him.

"He has not regained consciousness, and I did not revive him," Voldemort offered up, drinking the more than generous allowance of Firewhisky he'd poured in the glass.

"Probably for the best," Harry said, leaning further into Tom.

"Do you honestly think he's acting on Dumbledore's orders? That he weaved compulsions into him?" Severus asked, giving Harry a pensive look. He himself wasn't sure what to believe, he could see either scenario as clear as day, but he was a suspicious wizard so not a lot actually surprised him. "If he didn't touch Granger…" he trailed off, it was very unlikely he touched Weasley.

Harry let out a breath, "Probably not," shrugging, "We suspected we had people out there though, prepared to do whatever need to be done if he couldn't. His goddamned bloody backup plans had backup plans, and we're never going to know the extent of it." Dumbledore had obliviated a lot of information out of his mind, information that Tom hadn't been able to get out of him by torturing him. He wasn't a pathetic wizard like Crouch Senior and Bertha. "Does it really strain credulity that he'd use Ronald Weasley?"

"It fits a little too well," Voldemort conceded, "If it were me, I'd use someone you'd least expect, someone from a neutral family or better yet…a dark family." not ones that openly supported Dumbledore, or where it was known he spent time at, everyone 'knew' he spent time at the Burrow.

"Only cowards use children to fight a war," Harry said darkly, a bitterness that was well deserved – and earned – deep in his voice. "And Dumbledore has been creating 'hero's' so much so that they'll risk their lives for what's to come instead of being smart." Merlin, he wished he could make sure they all just surrendered but the recklessness and rebellion Dumbledore had bred into them.

"Indeed," Severus muttered distastefully, Merlin, it didn't bear thinking about.

"It's why the main changeover is being done before Hogwarts ends, during which the potion that reveals their magical heritage. It will see that they're distracted and hopefully many that would have otherwise fought, desire to know their newfound family more." Voldemort declared, his mind such as it was, could see hundreds of outcomes and always chose the best outcome for himself, naturally.

"Arthur Weasley will no doubt know his son is in trouble by now," Severus stated, "That infernal clock…"

"Was destroyed, they didn't bother creating another," Harry chimed in.

"How did it get broken?" how on earth did it survive seven children but get broken…by whom?

"I think someone fell back into it when they were dying," Harry shrugged, "They repaired it but the delicate magic that went into it was gone."

"You keep in touch with the Weasley's?" Voldemort asked, not sure why he was so surprised.

"The twins mostly, and Bill," Harry nodded, "Not too often, but they've kept in touch since they figured out, I warned them about Arthur. I wouldn't be surprised if they suspected my part in keeping the lot of them alive."

"Have you reached a decision on whom to make Minister for magic?" Lucius asked, a little too eager, but who could blame him for the desire to be the most influential wizard in the magical world?

"You really have been out of the loop, huh?" Harry said surprised that Lucius didn't know, he was pretty sure that the whole of the inner circle knew. "Tom's going for it himself, for the first three years at least, then he's going to pass it on to someone else trustworthy."

"Someone the public will trust," Voldemort corrected automatically. "So, should you desire to become Minister, then you will definitely need to work on your public profile." Lucius had done the bare minimum to correct his 'reputation' after being outed as a Death Eater. What bare minimum he'd done was soured by his personality and his decisions and clear bribes within the Ministry itself.

Lucius' eyes gleamed, lighting up in sheer delight at the challenge being presented to him. Slytherin's didn't come outright and say what they meant, at least those who knew better. This was his Lord's way of saying he was essentially at this moment first pick when he chose to retire in three years. A frown crossed his features, public profile, that was not…going to be easy at all.

"Pick someone who knows what they're doing, they'll give you suggestions and I suggest you heed them," Harry offered up, "Trust me, with your reputation, you're going to need it." and they'd have their work cut out for them.

"You mean a publicist?" Lucius blanched, as far as he recalled the business had been set up by a Muggle born, a generation ago, no self-respecting wizard needed someone else to tell them what to do.

"Yeah, your ideas didn't exactly work in the past, have they?" Harry pointed out.

"If they could see you now, talking to Harry, they'd trust you soon enough," Severus chuckled, standing up, he moved to get himself and Harry a second drink.

"Very funny," Harry said wryly, "More likely to think I've been compelled."

"No, the newspapers now know for certain that you cannot be compelled," Voldemort refuted that statement. "Severus raises a good point; it would raise Lucius' profile drastically." A scheming and 'innocent' look on his face.

"Don't even think about it," Harry said causing Tom to grunt when he elbowed him. He didn't need to know what he was thinking to know it would be something he'd dislike.

"We'll discuss it later," Voldemort said hastily, finishing his drink, the sting of it going down his throat wonderful.

"Does Rodolphus know how soon we attack after his return?" Severus asked, "I kept meaning to ask Rabastan." But he didn't want to worry him. hopefully the wizard knew to sleep before the return Portkey, they had less than an hour before the actual takeover.

"Even if he isn't aware, Luna probably does," Harry said, shifting his head so that he could see Severus properly. "I wouldn't be surprised if she doses him with a sleeping draught before they come home." Laughing a little, the rumbling passing through to Tom's chest, causing him to shift a little. He pressed his hand and arm against his chest, and absently rubbed back and forth.

"Indeed," Severus said wryly, knowing Luna he wouldn't bet Harry on another alternative.

"Speaking of which, the Lestrange estate, is it finished?" Harry asked, when they'd paid someone to update the place, they hadn't replied on weakened roofs causing a whole load of damage. Luckily, the library and most of the rooms that were in use had been safe from the destruction. It still made the property uninhabitable.

"Two days, the wards will have settled by then," Severus revealed. "I have been…invited to stay," he added, frowning a little still not entirely sure how to feel about it, if he was entirely honest. He wasn't a young boy anymore; he wasn't desperate for somewhere to live.

"I'm sorry but there's no way Rabastan's going to stay in Spinners End," Harry smothered his amusement into Tom's chest, before peering out, green eyes filled with glee. "After growing up in a manor? Nope, definitely not happening…he'd have magic exposed within half a day."

Severus blinked, grimacing a little, he'd already figured out that Rabastan wouldn't want to live there thank you. However, he hadn't thought about the magic aspect of it. Rabastan was used to being able to do magic whenever he liked. Out of all restrictions, not using his magic whenever he pleased, would definitely be the most difficult part for him. however, he had long since grown out of 'adult supervision' and that's exactly what Lord Lestrange would be, he'd rather have somewhere of their own…but he knew Rabastan would rather stay with family. He had missed out so much due to Azkaban.

"Agree to his demands," Lucius told him simply, "He will grow tired of the lack of privacy, and he'll grow out of the 'family picture' quite quickly. He only wants it because he didn't, couldn't have it. He'll desire independence sooner rather than later."

Severus thoughtfully cocked his head to the side. "That would work?" his tone full off doubt.

Lucius made a noise of agreement, "Yes, it might take a few months though. I recall Avery going on about it, the complaints the school year after Rodolphus left. It lasted a few months before Rabastan got used to it, and actually began to enjoy it." Severus hadn't really been friends with any of the Slytherin's until the later years, much to Evan's disgust.

"Sounds about right," Severus replied, he could vaguely recall complaints around that time on his way rushing out of the common room.

Voldemort listened to them talking, very rarely contributing but more content than he had been in a long time. It wasn't at all to do with their looming takeover, but oddly enough, the hand absently moving back and forth. They continued their discussion – and had one more alcoholic drink before switching to coffee – well until Grant made his entrance.

"I'll show you down," Harry said, making to stand.

"I've already done the necessary tests," Grant said, hand up stopping Harry from advancing. "If you're sharing, I wouldn't mind one." Noticing the glass with a small measure of wine left in it.

"That bad?" Harry asked, standing to get it, but Severus nudged him back down, and retrieved Grant's drink himself. Harry would need to get used to his place sooner or later, and if he had to remind him now and again? Well, he'd be quite happy to do that.

Severus poured way too much into it, but luckily not over the rim.

"No, not at all," Grant said, "Thank you," accepting the glass and making his way to a seat that Lucius specifically set for him.

"Then you found nothing?" Harry asked, not sure whether to feel relieved or not.

"I did a very extensive testing, every single one I could find, and if there are any spells on him, then they are unknown." Grant explained, his tone professional.

"Guess you were right," Harry said to Tom dryly, "Might want to check everyone in my year though."

"Perhaps," Voldemort replied, not quite willing to dismiss Weasley entirely, at least not yet. "I think it's time you and I paid a visit to him. Do you have Veritaserum handy, Severus?"

"My Lord," Severus murmured, swiftly removing his potions kit, he didn't need to rummage around, he went straight for where he knew the vial of Veritaserum was stored. It was in a green vial, he handed it over to the Dark Lord without question.

"Well, somehow it surprises me and doesn't surprise me how shitty a friend he was." Harry grumbled as he followed Tom from the room.

Grant just watched them go with a peculiar look on his face.

A/N – have you ever read a story – a good one – where there's a 'takeover' subtle or otherwise? I'm sort of blanking on how to go about it, so I was thinking maybe reading a few stories would help me get into the right mindset for it and give me a few good ideas on how to go about it 😊 I'm just blanking when I try to think about how to go about it…but I wouldn't be surprised if when it's time to write it, the scene writes itself out 😉 it wouldn't be the first time lol and oh my gosh muse! What do you think you're doing? I do not want to feel sorry for Lucius Malfoy! heh anyways there's the next chapter for you all to enjoy R&R please