Arms And The Blood
by Ishafel

"Ah, to be young," Lucius says, "to be going with you." He's kept Draco standing at attention for the last half an hour while he flips aimlessly through his correspondence and makes a number of calls. By the time his desk is clear and the fire is out it's growing dark outside and Draco's meant to be reporting in in half an hour. His new uniform is stiff and uncomfortable and it's difficult to walk without tripping over his sword. He's in no mood for his father's patronizing platitudes, pointless reminiscing about the glories of the first war. He's been reading Muggle poetry about front lines and trenches and he does not want to die.

"I've always been proud of you," Lucius says; he's learned his lines well but he does not say them with much conviction. They are words and they mean nothing measured against the years of Draco's life in which he neither meant nor said them. Nothing you say to your son when you send him away to fight in an unwinnable war means anything. Draco doesn't bother to respond.

"Sometimes I think you aren't happy, Draco," Lucius says, as if anyone could be happy doing what Draco's doing. He's being the son his father's always dreamed of, marching off to fight in the war his father has fought so hard to make happen. His father is happy, his father is getting what he wants, a soldier who will prove himself worthy of being a son or die trying.

"I'm fine," he says, aware that he sounds like a sullen child. "Dulce et decorum est, after all." And he knows it doesn't come out the way he meant it, because Lucius is nodding. Lucius does believe, or at least he pretends to. Lucius did fight, in the first war, when he was Draco's age; he was Voldemort's Second even then. Lucius wasn't sent on useless reconnaissance missions, raids of Muggle brothels, brutal sorties no one survives. Lucius kept his hands clean even then.

"I have to go," Draco says-lies-because there's probably no hurry but he'd rather be anywhere but here. The sooner he goes the sooner he'll be killed or crippled; the sooner Lucius can start trying for another, better heir. A girl this time, brave and fierce and glad to be sacrificed at the altar of He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named. And Draco will never, ever have to hear another soliloquy about the Glorious Cause.

"Ah! Such enthusiasm," his father says, almost fondly. "I shall miss you, my boy."

There's no response to be made to that. Well, he could make a gagging noise, but even he knows how profoundly childish that would be. Instead Draco fumbles with his uniform coat and draws out the packet of letters he's written. One for his parents, one for Professor Snape, one for Blaise, one for Pansy, one each for Vincent and Gregory, one for Vincent's sister at Durmstrang he's always rather fancied. Pathetically few to sum up his life.

Lucius takes them, mercifully without comment, and deposits them in the drawer of his desk. He stands and salutes Draco, and Draco, after a moment's hesitation, salutes him back. It's all too sickening and maudlin, and Draco leaves without stopping to say goodbye to his mother or the house or the servants or the dog asleep on the rug in the library. And Lucius does not watch him go, but when he is gone sits for a long time looking blankly at an empty page in his account book.


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