Poor Unfortunate Soul

Title: Poor Unfortunate Soul
Author: excentrykemuse

Fandom: Harry Potter Series
Pairing(s): Harry Potter/Lucius Malfoy (if you squint)
Secondary Pairing(s): Lucius/Narcissa (canon), Draco/Astoria (mentioned)

Wordcount: ~2k

For: TVRN
Prompt: Oohh! I’ve been thinking about Little Mermaid AU where Lucius helps out Harry for a price 😉 or generally merman!Harry is totally my jam!
Summary: Lucius had a niche on wish magic, until he granted the wrong wish and found himself haunted by a triton who refused to speak.  Twist on The Little Mermaid in a Harry Potter convergence of random acts of Enchantment.

Warning(s): political marriage, manipulation, extortion, miserable Harry, merman!Harry, underage (if you squint), slash (m/m) (if you squint)

I.

Lucius Malfoy rather prided himself on – what could loosely be termed – wish magic.  It was, he admitted, a niche market.  With the fall of the Dark Lord Voldemort, there had been certain restrictions, but Lucius was still the best in the business … and the most prominent members of society (and, well, the most desperate) always found their way to the door of his Wiltshire Manor.

If Narcissa Black wanted a handsome husband and a child who would inherit money, well, it was only providential for her to marry him – even if that had been a little artistic interpretation of her wish.

If Sirius Black wanted freedom from the Black name – well – certainly the name was worth nothing once his mother went mad, his brother was murdered, and Sirius was all but removed from the idea of being a Black when he was incarcerated without trial.

If Bartemius Crouch Sr. wanted his career to be unencumbered by his wife and son (who demanded too much attention and time), it was his fault for not specifying what he meant.  His son was conveniently discovered to be a Death Eater and his wife died shortly thereafter.

If Barty Crouch Jr. wanted to get out of Azkaban, he should have perhaps thought to mention he wanted to be found innocent of all crimes.  His nonspecificity resulted in his incarceration in his father’s home under the Imperius Curse.

If Nymphadora Tonks wanted to hide the fact that she found (secretly, privately) having a Muggleborn as a father shameful, perhaps she shouldn’t be so ashamed of her Muggle features that she was able to change them so that no one remembered what she looked like (not her bloodtraitor mother, not her father, not her friends) – except for herself.

If Amelia Bones wanted to rise in the Ministry, then she should have specified she wanted to be more than a spinster aunt to accomplish such a feat.

If Cornelius Fudge wanted to be Minister, he should have specified he wanted the ideas that could translate into office.  Instead, he became a puppt, backed by the wrong wizards and always for the wrong reasons.

If Bill Weasley desperately need to get away from home so badly … but Lucius would admit he was bored with that one, and if Gringott’s cursebreaker owed him more than a favor, well, Lucius could see the upside in such an arrangement.

If little Hermione Granger wanted to be special, she should have thought harder whether all social understanding of her peers (both Muggle and magical) was really worth it.  She never graduated from Hogwarts, sadly.  The Granger girl (filthy Mudblood that she was) was killed by a troll less than two months in, but she was special in her death.

If James Potter wanted Lily Evans so badly, perhaps he should have told Lucius that he wanted to grow old with her.

If Severus Snape wanted Lily Evans’s love so badly, perhaps he should have asked Lucius to whisper in her ear instead of complaining about the unfairness of life without condescending to ask for anything at all.

If Albus Dumbledore hadn’t pissed him off so much, Lucius Malfoy might not have put a baby in a basket and placed it on the Thames … never to be so much as thought of again …

… until one night there was a wish, and Lucius found himself smiling into his tumbler of firewhiskey.

II.

He was a boy, certainly, except for the fact that he wasn’t.

Seashells adorned his neck, pebbles in his messy black hair.  His bottle green eyes squinted in the light, as if he wasn’t used to the sunlight at all.  His skin was pruned and wrinkly from being submerged in water and yet was so pale, nearly stained green from the water.

As Lucius drank him in, cane in hand, the boy didn’t quite look at him, but didn’t look away either. 

His hips were narrow, boy’s hips, but covered in black scales, harsh against the whiteness of his skin, flowing into a fish’s tale, fins shivering as they dipped in and out of water.

“I cannot breathe,” the boy seemed to sing, his lips opening and yet no air moving inside.

Lucius carefully moved forward, looking at the sliver of a boy, this beautiful creature, his gills sucking at the air around him and yet finding no suction.

“I wish to breathe,” he begged, tears in his eyes, and Lucius’s soul moved for the first time since he conceived a trade for a granting a wish at the age of seven.

The boy—the triton—had somehow washed up at the mouth of the River Thames, had been cast out of the water, far enough away so that he could not crawl back again.  If he could see in the sunlight, perhaps he would have known which direction the seagulls were flying toward.  If his brain were not starved for oxygen, perhaps he could think clearly.  If he knew the land (and not the sea) he would know that moving toward the pavement was the undeniably wrong direction.

For the first time Lucius wished that he hadn’t granted Narcissa’s wish over a decade before.  He could never wish away Draco – and he had been a wish granted carefully, with meaning, with Lucius’s own ego in mind – but he could wish away his wife and any loyalty society would have him hold for her.

“I wish,” the triton murmured, now barely a wisp of ocean song in the air – and Lucius couldn’t help but lean down and place his fingers in the triton’s waterlogged hair.

His thumb caught on an old scar on the triton’s forehead, almost like a lightning bolt, curious, indeed.  A symbol, perhaps, of life below – but the triton’s bright green eyes (squinting, haunted, and desperate) drew Lucius closer.

“You must promise me one thing,” Lucius whispered, “and then you will breathe.”

The triton nodded, weak, pruned fingers grasping at Lucius’s cufflinks.

“You must promise,” Lucius intoned, “never to leave me.”  And he kissed the boy, giving him his air, knowing that in a matter of moments the scales would smooth to skin, and the triton would walk as if he had always been a wizard, never to return to the Thames or the sea ever again.

Lucius, perhaps, thought that he should regret it.  To take away the sea from such a haunting creature was to kill him softly, and yet when the triton’s eyes blinked and he sucked in his first breath on land, Lucius found that – at least this time – he would ensure the triton was content with his wish and did not suffer for it.

III.

The triton did not have a name as it seemed names were unneeded in the sea, but Lucius begged it from him nonetheless.  At first he thought the triton did not quite know how to speak, but then Lucius remembered the wish – the words – but the triton, since gaining his legs and standing upon the ground for the first time, would not utter a single sound, would not whisper a word … and it broke Lucius’s heart.

The triton never left, but always lingered – and Lucius found himself content with that.  At least, that’s what he told himself.  Every time he gazed upon the triton, dressed in casual robes, a book between his fingers (Lucius could never determine if he could read, but he always seemed to like books) – his heart broke a little more.

One day, not long after, Lucius doubted he had a heart any longer, except for the pain that seared through him as he watched the triton sleep nearly submerged in a bathtub or listening to the sound of seagulls.

If Narcissa noticed that his attention was never on her and rarely on Draco, even as their son graduated from Hogwarts, married, and had children of his own, then she never complained.

Lucius still granted wishes, but the joy was gone from them.  He would cut and would be cruel to those who asked for his help, but only because he could not bring himself to blame the triton for his silence.

The world turned and grew darker, but for the light of the triton’s bright green gaze.  He never smiled, but Lucius would dream of such a possibility.

Soon his grandson – who had a name, but what did names matter when Lucius did not know his triton’s name? – married and had children of his own, and Lucius looked into the mirror for the first time in years to see that his reflection had turned gray and haunted.

He walked through his empty manor, Narcissa having died from boredom, and yet he could not find what he was searching for.

He found the triton in the dungeons after days of looking, in the cold and damp, pressed against the stone and letting the trickle of moisture bleed into his pale skin.  The triton looked as young and beautiful as he ever had, and yet Lucius knew it had been years.

“I wish,” Lucius gasped, “I wish you did not make me love you so. – Will you not tell me your name, beloved?”  The wish as so hopeful and yet like a deadened weight in the damp of those dungeons were so many had languished in the centuries before.

Now it was Lucius who languished, haunted because of the favour attached to a wish, given so long before.

Of course, Lucius did not expect an answer.

How could there be one?

And yet (after an eternity or just a single moment in time), with a sigh, the triton looked up at him and whispered, “My name is Harry Potter.”

The truth fell upon Lucius like an avalanche of curses, the triton looking away and pressing his webbed fingers against the cracks in the stone wall.

… With horror Lucius realized that he loved the triton even more, the one true wish he had dared to whisper in his life having been denied (not the desire for a name that meant nothing, but for his own love to relinquish him forever).

IV.

At some time past, when Nerys Malfoy went to visit his great-grandfather, he found that the family manor was nearly in ruins.  All the taps had been turned on and the home had been flooded, the house elves having been ordered to let the water run, the nearby lake nearly dry despite replenishing charms.

When Nerys asked the house elves what had happened, one whispered, “He was giving his wish.  Master wished, and it was so.”

It became a mystery that no one could answer and was set down in the family annals to be pondered and wondered over.

If there was a tunnel, carved out of stone, from the dungeons to the sea, no one ever found it.  No one ever found anything ever again … even if they closed their eyes and wished, and wished, and wished.

The End.

Published by excentrykemuse

Fanfiction artist and self critic.

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