With consciousness hanging by a scant thread, Harry barely registered that the serpent headed cane had halted its brutal dance against his skin. He did not know if Lucius was just catching his breath for a moment or if the punishment session had concluded. He counted the rapid beats of his heart and prayed that the dark wizard was done, not catching a second wind or preparing to sever his tendons.
Not wanting to leave scars on his concubine's pale skin, Lucius opted to use his trademark cane instead of a strap or whip. Welt after welt erupted as the heavy wood struck flat against the submissive flesh; careful not to strike the same spot twice, a deliberate cross hatch of raised, swiftly bruising, welts decorated Harry's body.
Harry lost count of the blows that rained on his body. He stopped counting after eighty and knew more than one hundred blows had fallen but didn't think the count had reached two hundred. Although the majority of the damage covered his back, buttocks and legs, his chest, thighs, shins and arms also carried the bruised artwork. His wrists and ankles were bruised beneath his restraints. Only his face and genitals escaped the attentions of the cane.
A wadded handkerchief was removed from his mouth. Early into the punishment, Harry bit his lips in an attempt to hold back screams; afraid he would bite clean through his lower lip, Lucius shielded his teeth with the large monogrammed square of Egyptian cotton.
Lucius kissed Harry's forehead, the gentleness a stark contrast to the wizard's previous actions.
"You did well, Pet."
Harry's eyes opened in unfocused confusion as he felt the edge of the mattress dip with the weight of another person. The movement jarred his heavily bruised and swollen body. He swallowed his whimper of pain.
Harry tried to relax as Lucius' cold hands caressed his sensitive shoulders. He was not surprised when his master rolled him painfully onto his back and spread his thighs apart. The young wizard's eyes held a look of resignation as Lucius stroked his lightly bruised inner thigh; Harry closed his eyes.
A memory of Harry's broken form curled up in the stables flickered in Lucius' mind. He had beaten Harry for running away, muffled his magic, and stolen his child; rape would reinforce nothing. The dark wizard felt his erection fading as he pushed the knees back together.
Harry's eyes opened.
"Go back to sleep. I will see you in the morning."
His manicured finger playing with a tiny white blonde curl, Draco examined his half sister. Growing up, he resented being an only child and had always yearned for a sibling. It was ironic that his wish would finally be granted by a schoolboy nemesis.
Rosamond. He liked the sound of the name; it was a pretty name for a beautiful baby, not at all harsh like the dreaded Lucretia.
Rose examined her big brother with her sparkling green eyes. She made several pre-word sounds and blew raspberries at him. Draco smiled.
"Draco," he said. "Say Dray…co"
She made a "d—d—d—" sound. His smile grew wider as he looked quickly around the nursery to make sure no one was watching.
Draco reached to a shelf above the crib and removed a well-loved stuffed dragon he vaguely remembered from his own childhood. Rose's eyes sparkled with delight as her older brother teased her with the soft creature.
A movement from the doorway caught his eye. Without turning, Draco spoke but continued to tickle the baby's rounded tummy.
"Rosamond is very beautiful, don't you think, Mother? She favors both of her fathers."
Narcissa joined her son beside the crib. "Her name is Lucretia."
Narcissa scowled at Rose's teddy bear patterned nightgown. "And who dressed her in those disgusting Muggle rags? I ordered all that rubbish destroyed."
"Oh, and here I thought the incineration of her bunny was an accident due to an overzealous cleaning charm," he snarled. Draco noticed the immediate change in his sister's demeanor. "Has Father decided to take her away from his concubine?"
"Your father has no say in it," she snapped. "I have arranged an audience with the Dark Lord this afternoon. He will decide in my favor."
"Salazar help his half-blood whore if Lucius gets in my way."
Rose let out a howl as Narcissa abruptly seized her from the crib, not shielding her dagger like fingernails.
"Rosamond doesn't like you very much, Mother." Draco's voice held an edge of admonishment.
"She will learn."
A tug of the detested leash at his throat brought Harry's mind back to the present. The leash was an unnecessary ornament; it was all he could do to walk. The increasing pain in his curse scar signaled the slight wizard that he and his master were nearing Lord Voldemort. Would the Dark Lord be satisfied with the degree of punishment Lucius delivered, or would he demand further retribution?
At the door to the Malfoy library, Lucius paused and examined his subservient pet. Harry felt extremely exposed dressed only in a loose pair of boxer under shorts riding low on his hips. The welts and purplish black bruises were clearly visible; there would be no doubt to anyone the Lucius had reasserted his domination.
The door to the library burst open and an infuriated Narcissa stalked out. Lucius sidestepped his wife, surprised to see her, but Harry was shoved into a table, too unsteady on his feet to move fast enough to avoid contact.
Harry's scar exploded as he limped into the library. Lord Voldemort sat calmly in a wing chair; Severus curled up at his feet. The green-eyed wizard was perplexed; why was Rosamond tucked into Severus' lap, calmly sucking on the wing of a stuffed dragon?
Lucius bowed to the Dark Lord and Harry sank awkwardly to his knees; he could feel his injuries pull and pain shot up his spine. He wanted to press his palm against his curse scar to alleviate the building pressure, but refrained.
Voldemort rose from the chair; he looked down at the kneeling concubine. The long white fingers ran the length of some of the welts decorating Harry's back. Harry stiffened at the contact.
"Look at me, little one," the Dark Lord commanded. Cautiously, Harry looked up at the imposing figure, agony exploding behind his eyes. The serpentine man smiled his unpleasant smile. He seemed to be amused.
"Lucius… I have never seen Jacobson's Law carried out in quite this manner before, but I can always appreciate a work of art. What absolute self control to create this intricate pattern in the bruising… and you never once broke the skin. Most impressive… a true master at his craft… pain with no permanent damage… you didn't touch his face at all." Thin fingers cupped Harry's jaw. "Wouldn't want to risk damaging his beauty…"
Harry sighed in relief as he and Rose were dismissed from Lord Voldemort's presence. He still did not understand why Rosamond had been alone with Lord Voldemort and Severus, or why Lady Malfoy had stalked off in a fury, but he assumed they were interrelated. He would ask Severus later.
Cradling his daughter and her stuffed dragon in his arms, he carefully made his way back through the corridors toward his own rooms. His stiff limbs ached as he exercised them; the pain from his curse scar dulling as he distanced them from the dark wizards.
Narcissa was waiting at the foot of the main staircase, her body rigid in anger. Harry tried to change direction, but she blocked his movements. Doors slammed shut, sealing off escape routes. He looked up at her; her wand was leveled at him. She smiled coldly, her even white teeth glittering.
Harry's body seized as the curse hit him; a scream broke from his throat, startling Rose, who joined in with screams of her own. Frantically, he tightened his grip on Rose, trying hard not to drop her. He was surrounded by marble — the foyer floor, walls and staircase were all highly polished stone. There was no soft place to put her.
Don't drop her. Don't let her fall.
Harry was hit with the curse a second time; the blonde witch held this curse longer than the first. Blackness began to play at the edges of Harry's mind as he heard the curse uttered a third time. Rose began to slip from his useless fingers. Don't drop her, his mind screamed, don't let her fall. As unconsciousness overtook him, Harry heard Narcissa cast another curse, a fatal curse.
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