|Under the Surface (Abraxas/Orion, PG)
||[May. 29th, 2012|09:00 pm]
Title: Under the Surface
Pairings: Abraxas Malfoy/Orion Black
Word Count: 1,780
Warnings: um...canonical character death of natural causes?
Summary: For better or worse, Abraxas and Orion go through their adult life keeping certain things hidden under the surface.
Notes: Written for the hp_beholder fest. I was kinda nervous about signing up for this one but it turned out so well. I'm so awed and flattered by all the reviews and recs this got!
“Sometimes it feels like the world is falling apart,” Abraxas says in a strange sort of monotone, giving the glass tumbler in his large hand such a squeeze that Orion, who sits in the armchair next to his by the fire, wonders if the vessel might break. “That is why I wanted to study in India for the next few years. Get my thoughts together.” He pauses and looks down at the remainder of brandy in his glass. “Instead, I’m staying here. Getting married.”
The corners of Orion’s mouth turn up slightly. “You’re running from your marriage? I thought you had some assignment from Tom. Didn’t think your reasons would be so banal.”
Abraxas sighs and looks over at the other young man with some exasperation. “Dear Merlin, Orion. What assignment could Tom possibly give me in India. Although, they do brew good poisons there I hear. But Tom can make his own just fine.” He looks away and into the fire, his eyes tracing the engravings on the mantel, familiar to him since childhood. “I’m not running from my wedding. I’m sure Isabella Lestrange will make me a happy man.”
Orion takes a quick drink of his own brandy as to have something to do with himself that doesn’t involve staring or choking or doing something else inappropriate. “Who will be your best man?” he asks off-handedly.
“Rodbertus. He’s my friend, her cousin. It makes perfect sense.” Abraxas tries to not meet Orion’s eyes. They hadn’t touched on the subject of his betrothal even back at school. They’d pretended like the wedding wasn’t looming over their heads, drawing closer and closer the older they got. He didn’t enjoy nudging the topic around now either.
“Rodbertus…” Orion draws out thoughtfully. “Why not me? You were my best man.”
Abraxas rolls his eyes and stands, walking over to the fireplace. He places his glass on the mantel and looks down into the flames. They light up his blonde curls that are still thick and soft with youth. By the time his heir is born only a few years later, they will flatten and straighten, forcing him to wear his hair sleeked back, and by the time Lucius starts Hogwarts, there will be premature grey in his hair. “Everyone knows your marriage is a farce, Orion.”
“Oh please, you’re not going to tell me that you feel great love toward your wife. It’s for the sake of blood purity, it all is. I just don’t understand why you were rushed into the thing.”
Orion smiles bitterly and shrugs, setting aside his empty glass. “You’re right. But Walburga is older than me and it was time she married – child bearing age and all, as you well understand.”
Abraxas nods but doesn’t look up. He does not want to meet those dark, bottomless eyes. His bride’s eyes as just as deep and he sometimes pretends that she is Orion when they are intimate and the guilt eats at him constantly. “I’d rather you not come to the wedding,” he says finally. “It would be easier for both of us.”
“No.” Orion stands and walks over to his friend, invading Abraxas’ personal space. They are almost chest to chest. “I’m coming, ‘Brax. You can’t make me miss something so important. Not even if it hurts us both.”
“Don’t call me that.”
“Alright.” Orion reaches out and runs a hand through Abraxas’ curls.
Malfoy takes a deep shaky breath and his lips twitch. “Don’t.”
“I have to keep control and I can’t do that when you…when you’re…” He leans his head sideways and into the palm of Orion’s hand.
Orion smirks fondly at him. “Learn to, mon cher. You have an entire lifetime of pretending ahead of you.”
Abraxas is not as good at pretending as Orion. He’s far more blunt and his emotions always live somewhere near the surface. Sometimes this is not such a bad thing, like when little Lucius is born. Sometimes it’s uncomfortable, but sometimes it’s completely insensitive and inappropriate, like when Walburga’s first pregnancy ends in a miscarriage and the second in early labor and a stillbirth.
“It would have been a girl,” Orion says, drawing strange figures in the dirt with a long stick. He and Abraxas have been wandering the Malfoy woods for the past hour and Orion has not been responsive to any of his friend’s attempts at conversation. “Could have been Lucius’ bride.”
Abraxas rolls his eyes. “Please, Orion. Lets not talk about this. You will still have time for an heir. Family life doesn’t suit you anyway.”
“Doesn’t suit you either,” Orion snaps, his eyes flashing dangerously. They look at each other for a long steady moment. Abraxas finally reaches out and takes the stick from Orion. He tosses it aside, then folds his arms across his chest, head cocked to the side. “We’re not kids anymore, Abraxas.”
“I know.” Even being kids hadn’t helped them much. “Tom has been in touch. He’s been away and he says he’ll stay away for some time, but his letter…what do you think?” Abraxas takes out a long roll of parchment and hands it to Orion.
Black unrolls the scroll and reads. His forehead creases and his eyebrows draw together. “I don’t know what he’s playing at, Abraxas, but some of this sounds far too radical. I don’t like it. It makes me think…”
“Is that bad?”
“If Tom…you know he could. He has the talent and the charisma. Do we really need another war?”
Abraxas takes the letter back and tucks it away into an inner pocket of his robes. His ice-grey eyes slide over Orion’s face for a few moments, then stop on his lips. “People need to fight for something.”
“But not like this, not at this cost.”
Isabella dies the year before Orion’s heir, Sirius, is born. Walburga bears him another son a year later. Around this time, Tom returns from abroad and begins gathering political forces. Rosier, Mulciber, Lestrange and a fellow named Ivan Dolohov – the father of one of Lucius’ friends from school who disappears mysteriously shortly after Abraxas meets him – come to Malfoy Manor on what most resembles a recruitment mission. Abraxas feels torn and he almost allows himself to be pulled in. The last few years had been so chaotic for the both of them that he and Orion rarely had any time for intimacy as of late. But every time Abraxas closes his eyes, he can clearly picture Orion’s dark ones and that image seems to be the only thing that keeps him from giving in.
There is guilt there, however, deep and bleeding. The guilt of a man who has left his friends to the will of Merlin when he had once sworn to always stand by them. And didn’t they all live for and desire the same thing? So when Lucius, finally of age, declares his decision to join Riddle’s Organization – become a Death Eater, as the media would term it – Abraxas advises caution but does not object.
When the first curses fly, Abraxas has a horrible, unfounded fear that Orion, in his passivity, will ultimately turn against them. He shows up at Grimmauld Place and makes demands that are foolish and boyish, a wave of misery kept inside for too long spilling outward and onto Walburga’s rich, dark carpets.
“Don’t be a fool,” Orion clips, pulling the blond into his personal space and brushing a feather-light kiss over Abraxas’ temple. “Why would I ever join the mudbloods?”
Abraxas has no answer other than a ragged, thankful kiss.
They keep their emotions under the surface. They always had, they always had to. Pureblood society demanded marriage and childbirth, continuing of the lineage. Polite company never sought to gossip about what some suspected may lie between the elder Malfoy and the elder Black. It was enough that they did their duty and upheld appearances. Isabella died too early to suspect anything, and that was her fortune. Walburga may have been better informed but she cared little. Although when Sirius runs away, she tears into Orion with the might of a wounded ox. It was his fault, his latent – or not – perversions, his raising, his son, his fault, always his. He does not object to these accusation, only accepts them quietly and then says, “When shall we hold the Ritual, dear?” When Sirius’ name is burned from the tapestry, Orion wonders, briefly, if Potter means to his former son what Abraxas means to him. After all, Sirius had never been good at keeping things under the surface.
Severus Snape, Lucius’ protégé, is at the manor again to borrow a book. Abraxas likes the boy well enough. He may be a halfblood but he is clever and talented and shares Abraxas’ love for books and potions. They get on, especially now that Snape is an adult and they may speak as adults.
Severus is about to leave when Lucius and Regulus come through the floo. Lucius has his hand on Regulus’ shoulder and the first thing Abraxas’ notices is that Regulus is wearing mourning.
“Father, there is some bad news,” Lucius says. He looks over at Regulus who swallows and looks up at Abraxas. He’s a lovely boy, but he doesn’t have Orion’s eyes. In a moment, Abraxas becomes very grateful for this.
“Mr. Malfoy, my father passed away this morning,” Regulus says in a monotone.
Abraxas will suppose, later, that in that moment he feels a lot of different things. The one emotion that stands out, however, is regret.
What exactly it is that he regrets, Orion’s ‘Brax does not deign to know.
They lose the war.
The only thing Abraxas feels is relief. His caution and his advice of caution to Lucius has spared his family the grief that many other families – the Rosiers, the Lestranges, the Mulcibers, to name a few – had to go through.
Abraxas enjoys playing with little Draco in the warm summers and snowy winters. It’s a calm and peaceful happiness, far removed from what he had thought to be happiness when he was a boy. He comes to the conclusion that the meaning of happiness can change as life goes on and sometimes one has to put reins on his happiness to be rewarded in the end.
Sometimes, as he watches Draco zoom around the hedges on his toy broom which barely rises a couple of feet above the ground, Abraxas mutters softly to himself, “Thank you, Orion. Thank you for being the reasonable one and keeping it under the surface. I wonder if you ever knew just how much you saved me.”