phoenix ashes
the path of the serpent (chapter 7)



     by Ejab

Breakfast time was definitely one of his favourite times of the day. From where he sat, Lucius could see the sun rising from behind the trees at the far end of his estate - a view that never failed to amaze him. That and the absolute silence in which he and his wife always enjoyed their breakfast. A good start of any day.

This morning was even more enjoyable, musing about Severus and the little trick he had played on him. Undoubtedly his lover would have been cured of his 'inconvenience' by now but how and by whom? The possibilities intrigued him. As Severus always intrigued him. Still. Even after all these years, Severus was the only person he could not always read successfully.

Something that both frustrated and fascinated him at the same time. That was the main reason why he enjoyed those mindgames they regulary played on eachother. Because that was really what that little hex had been all about - a mindgame. He had given it careful thoughts and could now only hope that he had made the correct calculation and that was that none other than Remus Lupin would have helped Severus out. It would be the ultimate humiliation for Sev - having one of his arch-enemies coming to his rescue. How would he deal with that? How did it make him feel? Ashamed? Angry? Resentful? And what would he do with all those feelings? Would he lash out? And how? And at whom? And what would he do to get back at him?

Ah yes, playing with Sev's mind always gave him so much satisfaction. Especially because his dark angel was truly a worthy opponent. And a dangerous one too. And Merlin knew how hard they were to be found. It would be a very wise thing to stay vigilant. Even more than normal.

He quickly scanned the Daily Prophet and stood up from the dining table. It was time to go and lay the first foundation for the plan he had been preparing for too long already.

"Narcissa." He said his goodbye to his still eating wife with a curt nod, left the room and Apparated into the hall of the Ministery.

"Mister Malfoy, I was already looking for you!" As soon as he had Apparated, he was being spoken to by a very nervous apprentice. Wasn't this one of Fudge's office-boys? Mitch or Mickey or Daniel or something like that.

"Well?" He gave the young man an impatient and cold stare.

"The Minister sent me to inform you that he is not able to meet you at the pre-arranged time. But he will be able to meet with you at nine o'clock, if that is at your convenience?"

Forty minutes. Yes, that would give him a good start.

"Very well, nine o'clock it is." Ignoring the young boy, he walked towards the crowded lifts, stepped in and left again at Level Two.

He started to slowly walk up and down the corridor, making sure to look very bored and irritated.

"Mister Malfoy? Is something the matter?" It didn't take long for one of the co-workers to notice him. Well, of course not.

"It seems that the Minister is somewhat delayed" Lucius drawled, giving one of his best significant looks of aversion while looking up and down the busy corridor.

The man was fast in the uptake and didn't hesitate a second. Mister Malfoy was, as everybody knew, very important and influential. Not to mention highly appreciated by the Minister. Helping mister Malfoy could also maybe help him with his own career.

"Maybe you would like to wait in my office?" He pointed at a small room.

"How very kind of you. Yes, thank you." Heaving a mock sigh of relief Lucius quickly followed the eager man into his tiny office and sat down on the chair opposing the desk which was barely visible. Stacks of paper everywhere. Clearly a case of overworked staff and severe arrears.

"Can I get you something? Tea perhaps?" The man beamed. Imagine, Lucius Malfoy, here! In his office! Normally he would only see this powerful wizard from a distance, let alone speak to him! As just a co-worker one did not approach or talk to Mister Malfoy. That was not becoming.

"No, thank you." Lucius smiled faintly and looked around the room. "You seem to be a busy man, Mister eh, excuse me but what is your name?"

"Cri - eh Clive, sir. Clive Addams." He asked his name! He just asked his name!

"You look like a very busy man, Mister Addams," Lucius smiled, leaning both hands on top of his cane. "Tell me, what does your job require you to do, that you seem to be so indispensable?"

"I don't know about being so indispensable" Clive grinned shyly, "but people hand me their bill or maybe just a article of the law that they try to change or even amendmentsI check them to see if they are completely legal and not in conflict with our constitution before it can be processed any further and discussed by the proper authorities. It's usually pure routine, though. But it has to be done."

"Oh? Never a new bill that gets you excited?" Lucius gave him a sympathising look.

"No sir, not really." Clive smiled.

"Not exactly inspiring nor challenging for a young man like you, isn't it? Maybe you should consider a change of career in stead of wasting your talents here in this dusty office. Or perhaps you don't have other ambitions?"

"Oh yes, sir, I have. But I also know that it's very hard to switch jobs these days. You know, with the coming back ofYou-Know-Whothe Ministry is very reluctant to have changes. They make them very nervous." Clive sighed. "I guess I'm just stuck here. Sorry sir, I don't mean to - "

Lucius shook his head and held up his hand for a moment to silence the man.

"Don't worry, I completely understand what you mean. Like I said, it has to be very disheartening for a man of your talents to work here. But that does not mean that you can't change it."

"But how w"

"Perhaps make your own bill? Surely there must be something you feel very strongly about? Why not make a new bill about that? It could even, if you really want to get noticed, maybe be about something as controversial as saving our own kind! I suggest you don't waste your energy on little changes, if you indeed want to get noticed."

"Save our own kind?" Clive stared at his important guest and felt somewhat taken aback.

"Forget about it. That is just one of my eh pet subjects." Lucius waved his hand as if to say that it was of no importance at all.

"No, sir, please! Do tell!" The co-worker looked very eager and excited now. Good, bait taken.

"Very wellas you may be aware, the numbers of our kind are slowly but surely declining. There are not many real wizards and witches, and by that I mean those of us who are of pure blood like you and me, left. For generations that has forced us to marry even within our own families. I am sure you understand the dangers involved there - a smart man like you would be fully aware of the concept of inbreeding and genetics." Clive shaked his head vigorously.

"So you can understand that our changes to marry diminish with each generation. We dig our own graves, so to speak. So why not allow and acknowledge marriage between same sex couples? Merlin knows we certainly have our share of homosexuals! We would immediately increase the canditates with considerate numbers. And with the help of magic men can get pregnant and give birth too."

"Why, that's very eh progressive thinking, Mister Malfoy!" Clive nodded. He was impressed!

This man was said to be rather old fashioned and reserved but so far he proved to be anything but!

"Thank you - I am just very concerned about the future of our kind." Lucius cast him a worried look and sighed. "I just wish the right people would see the dangers involved."

"So why don't you introduce a bill yourself, if you don't mind me asking?"

"You know how people are, mister Addams. Before you know it they will accuse me of using my influences or having entangled interests it is of the vital importance but unfortunately most fail to recognise it. I'm afraid that not everyone is as intelligent as you are."

"And if I was to introduce that bill myself?" Clive asked carefully. He tried not to show his excitement. "Would I have your support?"

Lucius took his time to answer the question and gave the impression to think the matter over very thoroughly before finally replying.

"Yes, Mister Addams, you would have my full support."

"Even against the Minister himself?"

"I already gave you my word, Mister Addams. That should be sufficient. A Malfoy always keeps his word." Lucius ' eyes dared the man to not push any further. Clive saw the warning and was smart enough to leave it at that.

"Wonderful! I will introduce the bill myself then." What an unbelieveable change! A bill that would rock the wizarding world and definitely get his name known and not only that - he also had the support of none other then Lucius Malfoy! This was almost too good to be true! Talk about oppertunity!

"I admire your courage and shared concern in this matter, Mister Addams." Lucius praised him with a content smile. This was just so easy, so soporifically easy

"Mister Malfoy? I was looking for you - the Minister can see you now." The same office-boy as earlier that morning knocked on the door. Ah yes, that Ronald. Or was it Rory? Roger?

"About time." Lucius stood up and nodded his head towards Clive. "It was a pleasure meeting you, Mister Addams." And with those words he walked to the Minister's office where Fudge, as soon as he saw him, apologised for letting him wait and the fact that none of his employees had had the decency to offer him appropriate waiting accomodations for the time being.

"It is indeed not a treatment I am used to nor one I take kindly to. I suggest you learn your employees about proper etiquette soon, Fudge." Lucius gave him the cold treatment. "Unless, of course, you have no further interests in doing business with me?" His hand casually glided over the pouch that was hanging from his strap. The unmistakable sound of jingled Galleons was heard.

"N-never, my dear friend! Never!" Fudge felt cold sweat break out on his forehead and hastened to reassure his valuable source of substancial income. Lucius didn't quite listen. He knew what was to come; at least fifteen minutes of severe apologies and sucking up. So enchanting. So bloody boring.