Although Harry and Lucius both tried to be in each other's presence as little as possible, and then only when other people were nearby, tonight they found themselves alone at the dinner table. The places were set, but Narcissa had excused herself to see to the elves, who were still losing their feral nature, while Severus remained upstairs tending to Draco's flu with potions. Harry would have been by Draco's side if Snape hadn't chased him out, and even then he left only because Draco swore he couldn't stand to have Harry see him coughing and miserable.
Which left Harry alone with a man he'd once considered a mortal enemy, now his father-in-law. They looked at each other, grumbled under their breath and looked away again.
At least drinks had already been served. As Lucius tossed back wine faster than he should have, Harry cautiously sipped his own. He wasn't used to drinking alcohol yet, but he'd discovered the pleasant, soothing effect it had on tense family dinners. Sometimes he wondered what his life would have been like if he'd married some nice Gryffindor girl. A big family, a cozy house, in-laws that welcomed him with open arms and warm smiles, no irritable blonde snapping at him in bed--the image always crumbled when he thought of losing Draco from his life.
A potentially homicidal father-in-law was a small price to pay. Or at least it had been a small price when the rest of the family was there to keep the conversation on business. On opposite ends of the table, both Harry and Lucius regarded each other like serpents sizing up their opponent.
Finally Lucius sighed and looked away. "I think we can put away the hostilities, if only for one evening."
Slowly setting down his wine, Harry sighed and gave a weary nod. "Draco would hate it if we fought."
"At least there we agree." Lucius glanced at the door and wondered if Narcissa would return, or if this was one of her schemes to force him and his son-in-law to talk. He normally considered his wife an intelligent woman, but these occasional tricks sometimes made him wonder at her sanity.
"And how is life with my son?" he asked. "Worth the enmity of the Ministry?"
Harry didn't pretend not to know what Lucius meant. Ever since the wedding, indeed ever since he had agreed to marry Draco at the negotiations after the Battle of Hogwarts, he'd felt the stares and disapproval of the rest of society. He'd been stared at before, but they were different now. Heavier, filled with suspicion and disappointment. Friends gazed at him in anxious pity. The Boy Who Lived was not supposed to grow up and marry himself to the dark.
"Draco's worth everything to me," he said, staring into his wine. "Besides, everyone was always afraid of me or angry at me anyway."
"Mm. There was a time when the Prophet published your name more often than ours," Lucius said. "A rare occurrence."
"That was partly Draco's doing," Harry reminded him.
"Yes, he excels at lies and hearsay." Lucius said it without a touch of shame, and although Harry never forgot what kind of family the Malfoys were, it still jarred him when they took pride in something he considered dishonorable. "So much so that he occasionally fools himself."
No one ever mentioned the amulet Harry wore under his robe. His and Draco's name, bound with their hair and submerged in honey, merely a useless, sentimental charm without magic. How much had Severus told Draco's parents, and how much had he held back? Harry never dared raise the subject. He didn't feel safe talking about it now. To his relief, Lucius let it go.
"Afraid or angry..." Lucius mused. "I doubt your marriage will make them feel any different. Especially since you're learning our magic."
If Ron's explosion at Hermione for learning dark magic was any indication, the rest of society probably felt the same. Sometimes Harry wondered if Ron thought he was turning evil because of the Malfoy's magic. Ron had grown distant as Draco grew closer.
"You are still learning our magic, yes?" Lucius asked, leaning forward slightly. "Draco said he was teaching you."
"He is--I am," Harry stammered. "We haven't had much time since the wedding, but we go out in the evening. In the forest. He's taught me a few more spells."
Lucius sat straight, his eyes widening slightly. "You mean that's what you've been doing in the woods? And here we thought you were extending the honeymoon a bit."
A blush spread over Harry's cheeks, and he gulped down the rest of the his wine. True, they'd done other things under the moonlit sky, but it wasn't something he wanted to discuss. He heard Lucius chuckle once and glared. The Malfoys all had a bad habit of teasing, nipping at the lion in their midst trying to make it roar.
"A few spells, then," Lucius echoed. "And what has he told you of our traditions? What has he told you about dark magic?"
"He's told me about where your spells come from, the old languages from before Rome invaded, and about Morgan and Mordred," Harry said. He hesitated before adding, "I know a little about wyverns now, too."
Lucius raised an eyebrow but didn't say anything. He knew Severus had withheld a few secrets about Harry's time with Draco, secrets he had yet to weasel out of him, but at least Harry could be trusted to keep quiet. Even amongst the family, their shape-shifting was only referred to in the most oblique manner.
"Is that all?" Lucius asked. "He must have told you more. After all, you're now...you're..."
"Part of the family?" Harry finished for him, unable to stop a smirk as Lucius glared.
"And what do you know about our family?" Lucius demanded in a soft voice. "Your education was as poor as any other blood traitor's. I doubt you know anything about the family you married into beyond what you learned from Dumbledore and his pack of hypocrites."
Harry almost snapped that they weren't hypocrites, but as he opened his mouth to reply, he realized that Lucius was baiting him. Draco had warned him that his family might do that, might make him angry to avoid talking. Slowly closing his mouth, Harry sat back in his chair and took a breath, noticing now that he'd clenched his wine glass so hard that it was in danger of cracking. He forced himself to relax and looked back at Lucius.
"I only know about a few Malfoys that Draco told me about," Harry admitted. "Melusine. Jeanine who drew the dragons in the grimoire. He mentioned an ancestor running from a mob in the snow..."
"Alfador," Lucius said readily, having had the same dream. "When we lived in France."
"How long did you live in France?" Harry asked.
For a moment, Lucius said nothing. He glanced at the door to see if anyone was coming and sighed when he heard no one. Plenty of time to laboriously explain. At least his son in law was sincerely curious. He didn't think he had the patience to tell the story if Harry interrupted him all the time to bristle at insults.
"We lived there for centuries," Lucius began. "After the Battle of Camlann, we fled England, and most of us arrived in Avernon. Morgan had learned her magic in the convent there, and the sisters helped us settle in return for our protection from werewolves, vampires, heathens..."
His voice trailed off as he noticed Harry's growing confusion. "What is it?"
Knowing he was treading on sensitive ground, Harry swallowed his unease and plunged ahead. Lucius, like his son, was willing to take time to answer his questions, rather than dismissing him with a grumble about reading a book. He hoped this question wouldn't make him irate.
"You said you went to a convent," Harry said. "But I thought they hated magic."
"Ah. But we summon no demons," Lucius said. "We use no familiar spirits. They had the same reverence for blood and sacrifice as we do. Especially after we left our old gods--well, they left us," he amended. "But the sisters didn't care. We, at least, weren't Merlin."
Which raised even more questions in Harry's mind, questions that Lucius knew from answering them for Severus many years ago, and then again retelling the story to Draco. A moment passed, and Harry recognized the distant look in Lucius' eyes, the same as Draco's when he remembered something from an ancestor's memories.
"If you only think in muggle terms, you won't understand. It wasn't Merlin and God versus Morgan and the devil. It was magic versus magic, and each side used muggles for their own ends. Merlin helped his kings and knights slaughter our kind, and Morgan used the convents and early churches to hide us and strike from within Arthur's kingdom."
"You took help from muggles?" Harry asked.
"At the time, many of the sisters were also witches," Lucius said. "Merlin only used Arthur's religion. We adopted it. In a war between magic, even those few missionaries who didn't approve of our spells needed us to keep their fledgling religion alive. While we lived in exile, the ties between the dark and the church became strong then."
"So why did you come back?" Harry asked. "If it was safer in France, why leave?"
A sigh. Lucius stared at the flickering candles on the table. Although the family could have used lumos charms, nothing came close to the gentle light of small flames twisting in the air. Firelight gave the room a warm glow and threw shadows against the wall like reminders of the cool, sheltering night just beyond the house.
"Sometimes..." Lucius murmured. "Sometimes I envy your kind."
Harry didn't answer. He had a feeling that he shouldn't, that Lucius might never start talking again if he interrupted.
"You don't have to live their deaths," Lucius said, his voice dripping with disdain. "Muggles. Disgusting creatures, like rats. Harmless on their own, but in packs...they began burning themselves, hanging themselves for politics. Oh, they called it religion, but money and land and power, that's all they worshipped. The Ministry used the opportunity to continue the war on us, guiding muggles to our homes to kill us or burn us in their terrible auto-de-fe. Dozens of wizards and witches burning for hours."
He noticed Harry's look and misinterpreted his silence, nodding in disgusted satisfaction. "Yes, your history books lied. Blood traitors regularly went around being arrested and giving their inquisitors names of dark wizards they knew about. Dark families were caught without their wands, or the muggles had been warned to snap them."
"Draco told me about that," Harry said softly. "That parents died so their children could escape."
Lucius paused. The question didn't have to be spoken. As the patriarch of the family, he was bound to uphold their traditions, but circumstances made any relationship with his son in law strained at best. Harry wasn't just insufferably smug -- the boy had actually gotten him sent to Azkaban.
But Harry had also married his son. If the family came under attack and they couldn't all escape, could Lucius sacrifice himself for the Boy Who Lived? He look up at Harry again, growling under his breath.
Fortunately, they both received a reprieve. Food appeared on the table just then, followed by Narcissa as she shooed elves back to their cleaning. A few seconds later, Snape helped Draco drag himself down the stairs to sit beside Harry, his eyes half-closed and his breathing still a little congested.
Lucius looked around at each of them, his family of mismatched blood. Snape looked like he'd been brewing all day, his hair once again ruined from too much time enveloped in smoke and steam. Narcissa gave him a disapproving look but said nothing, although from Severus' wary look in return, he knew better than to try any sort of sarcasm before he had a shower.
On the other side of the table, Draco leaned against Harry's arm, drowsing as he ate. Doing his best to keep him from falling over, Harry murmured quiet comments in Draco's ear, making him laugh and forcing him to stay awake. Not once did his spoiled son complain or beg off to go back to bed. Whatever feeling existed between them, it drew them closer and closer until they seemed like they might melt into each other.
For all his grudges against the boy, and he had several, Lucius knew Harry would never leave Draco's side. For all of Lucius' grudges and misgivings, Harry was part of the family. And family meant certain obligations. If the time ever came, Lucius owed his son his life. Both of his sons.
The thought called for a lot more wine.