Literatti: Fiction By Deslea
Kill To Be Kind
Deslea R. Judd
Fandom: Harry Potter
Characters/Keywords: Lucius Malfoy/Nymphadora Tonks, background Narcissa Malfoy/Severus Snape.
Spoilers/Timeframe: Alternate universe battle scene. Unstated timeframe, but the Trio are under or just barely of age, so around 1998.
Summary: As the Second War comes to a head, two lying lovers find themselves on opposite sides in a world where murder is sometimes the most loyal act of all. AU battle scene.
Disclaimer: Characters not mine. Interpretation mine.
More fic: http://fiction.deslea.com
Feedback: Please. deslea at deslea dot com.
It ends like this, she thinks.
It was his voice that always got her. It was warm, sweet liquid spilling over his lips, languid and smooth, lying and betraying words falling over her, a waterfall that flooded her whole being with him. He used her and she used him but when his voice came over her, none of it ever seemed to matter.
Now, she wonders if it will be his voice that ends it once and for all.
"Nymphadora," he murmurs as they circle each other, her name like a caress. "My dear girl. What an unhappy surprise. But then, you never did know when to leave a thing alone."
"Likewise," she agrees. "I must say, Lucius, it seems like remarkably poor planning on your part to have the final showdown at the Manor."
"Hardly my choice. But like you, my course was set long ago. There's nothing for it but to see it through." His wand twitches then, from her to the young wizards and witches behind her, as though noticing them for the first time.
"Protego proxima," she counters, holding out her hand to stay her companions who might otherwise intervene. The shield comes down around them both. Sealing their magic in.
The sound that escapes his lips then is warm. Genuinely mirthful. "Very clever, my dear. Did you mean to protect them from me, or me from them?"
Both, she thinks, but doesn't say it. Instead, she says coldly, "Does it matter?"
Something flashes grey in those eyes of his, just for a moment. Something like hurt, and that softens her even as it hardens him, as his wand finds her with renewed purpose.
"Narcissa and Draco. Have you seen them?" he demands, his voice suddenly rough and harsh.
She stares straight down the length of his wand, and where it meets his fingers. Remembers those fingers and how they felt in her hair and along her jaw and pressing her thigh firmly to his. She thinks of that so she doesn't have to think about what he is about to do to her. So that she doesn't have to think of deadly power passing through them and exploding out of his wand in a flash of emerald light.
"They made it," she says, her eyes still focused on his fingers. "Severus got them out." She can give him that much. Despite everything.
"Good," he says. Just that.
Her gaze flickers up to meet his. Astonishment passes over her face before she can stop it.
"You didn't believe me, then?" he murmurs, the corners of his mouth turning upwards. Surprise and amusement softening his voice.
She shrugs. "You wouldn't be the first man to spin a tale of a loveless marriage to seduce a witch."
She hears the low intake of breath behind her, Harry and Ron and Neville intermingled, and notes that Ginny's and Hermione's voices are absent. She thinks that women are more prosaic in war than men. Once the disillusion of her young charges would have bothered her. Even minutes ago. Not now. This is their time, Lucius and hers, and it could only ever have ended like this. She realises that deep inside her she knew it all along.
"Hardly loveless," he demurs. "Narcissa and I are great friends. I never begrudged her Severus, or Draco either."
She says, "He's so much like you."
"It's amazing what hair potions will do, isn't it?" he says conversationally. "But blonde isn't a dominant trait. I'm surprised no one questioned why he didn't take after his mother."
She thinks it's because no one can imagine Narcissa loving a man of little means, or Lucius willingly raising another man's child. She had never believed it herself, and she has seen the best and brightest of him as well as the worst.
"So you would be the other woman, then, Nymphadora?" he says with sudden good humour. "I didn't think you had it in you."
She shrugs again. "For a greater cause."
"Ah, yes," he says silkily. "Young Mister Potter." He looks over her shoulder at the young man in question. "Far be it from me to interfere with your budding career as the Order's Mata Hari, but I'd like to put it to you that you have alternatives."
She can feel the heat rising in her face. "You can't shame me, Lucius. You shared my information as I shared yours. We used each other."
"Perhaps that's true," he says reflectively, "but the Order used you more. I experimented in my youth. It's well known. And yet they sent you to get close to me, though there are men in the Order to whom I may have been equally receptive. Men I've been with before, even. You're a half-blooded woman. They're supposed to be on the side of the Light, but to them - like Severus - you're disposable."
This time, it is the young witches who react behind her. Tonks does not. She accepted her mission despite the flawed reality of the Order, with no illusions about its ways and means. She accepted it on her own terms.
"True or not, it really doesn't matter anymore."
"No," he says thoughtfully. The lines between his eyebrows deepen. He seems to make a decision. In a sudden move, he grasps his signet ring with his free hand and pulls it brutally from his finger, still curled around his wand. He steps forward, just enough to reach for her, and presses it hard into her hand. "Nymphadora. With this, my wards will recognise you. All you have to do is take it. You can walk away."
She gives an involuntary gasp. "Lucius," she whispers. Stares up at him. Says unbelievingly, "Your father gave you that."
"Yes, well, he also initiated me into all this, so let's not waste any false sentiment on him at this late date."
Her gaze flickers from his face to his wand, still trained firmly onto her, and back again. "You admit this is not your war, and yet here you are."
His eyes narrow. "My course is set, Nymphadora," he says with sudden, steely resolve. "I will not go back to Azkaban, as I surely will if the Order wins. I'm not leaving this house." He says more kindly, "You can."
Her fingers curl automatically around his ring. "I'm not leaving," she says softly. "My course is set too." She nods her head towards the young witches and wizards behind her, Harry at their centre. "And you will not have him."
"Nymphadora," he says. Voice silky. Cajoling. This voice, she thinks, this voice is the one that made longing pool in her stomach. Shrouded her in something deeper and more decadent than arousal alone. "It doesn't have to be like this. I loved you once."
"And I love you still," she says without a trace of artifice. "But I'm not walking away."
Something in him seems to break at that. He bridges the gap between them and thrusts his wand up into her chin, and she does the same on reflex. His face is close, so close she can feel the heat of his pounding breath. "Go now, Nymphadora. I will kill you."
"Do it, then," she gasps. Holding his gaze. It is the only thing holding either of them to this moment, the only thing holding each back from annihilating the other.
"Do you think I can't?" he demands. His forehead is pressed to hers and their wands are at each other's throats and it's the most terrifyingly intimate moment she's shared with another human being in her life.
She stares up at him. "You could," she says. "I know you could. In the right circumstance."
He sounds like he really wants to know.
Still she stares up at him. Her world is compressed into that infinitesimal space where his gaze crosses hers.
"They say you have to hate," she says, "but they're wrong. You just have to mean it. You can kill to be kind. I'd do it to you, if it came to it." His jaw suddenly seems to give a little. She glances down at his wrist, his Mark half-exposed, and says curiously, "You never let me touch it."
The tendon in his neck flickers as he swallows hard. He says huskily, "I'd kill you before I'd let him near you." And she understands it completely, but what she doesn't understand is how he can make that declaration sound like a caress.
"Why wait?" she says. Tilting her throat up, just a little. Exposing it to his wand. "If you want me out of the way, if you want Harry, all you have to do is say the words. I'll be gone, and so will my shield. Just two little words, Lucius. It's all it would take." It isn't bravado and it isn't that she is certain that he won't. It is only that it is down to her and it is down to him and she knows, somehow, that this thing between them must play out for it ever to be over. It is as inevitable and as necessary as the coming confrontation between Harry and the Dark Lord himself.
His wand is still there in the cleft of her chin, more present than ever. He presses harder, pressing into bone. It hurts and she flinches, just a fraction. His lips part to cast the Unforgiveable and she braces. Waits.
They are poised, agonisingly on the brink, when he breathes out so suddenly that the pressure in the air between them seems to fall away. He clutches her against him, scrabbling for purchase on her hair. His voice shudders, resigned and slightly crazed as he blurts out into her hair, "I can't. Fuck. You know I can't." She sinks into him, gasping out sounds of relief and horror and love and fear, choking out his name and grasping at his shoulders. Her shield dissolves around them as she gives herself over to him, and still he holds on, makes no move on Harry, and that's when she really believes it's true.
He pulls back, just a fraction, his hands gripping her shoulders. That odd hilarity is still there in his voice, and there is an unbelieving, wild look in his eyes, but his words are resolute.
"If I can't kill you," he says desperately, his eyes searching hers, "then I suppose I'm with you."
She nods gravely. Says softly, "But mind you, Lucius, this side of kindness."
"Likewise," he says. Just as grave.
She sees the truth of it in his eyes, the truth deeper than all their lies, that he will live with her if the world is kind, or kill her or die with her if it is not. And she believes.
And so it begins again.