(1939-09-29) The Malfoy Gambit
Details for The Malfoy Gambit
Summary: Abraxas Malfoy seeks advice on career choices, and the situation at Hogwarts, from Professor Arcadius Lestrange, with interesting results.
Date: 29 September 1939
Location: Defense Against the Dark Arts Classroom, Hogwarts
Plot: Headmaster from Hell

Abraxas has been busily organizing the classroom and doing other student aide sort of things. He has made sure that everything is in order, and then pauses and, taking a deep breath, straightens his tie. He walks up to the office door and knocks, "Professor, do you have a moment?" He runs a sleeve over his silver prefect badge a bit self-consciously.

The door opens almost immediately, and Professor Lestrange emerges. "Oh, Malfoy. Yes, what can I do for you, lad?" He holds out a stack of books in his hand, and gives his wand a wave to send them levitating over to his desk, presumably for the next day's lessons.

Abraxas seems nervous and says, "I was hoping for some advice, actually, Professor, on a couple of things. I don't know exactly how to put this… But Prince was talking about some of the things they taught at her old school - things that, well, we don't teach here. And I've been thinking that, well… when you were in that part of the world… I mean… I don't know how what they do other places compares to the /real/ magic we do here…" The young Malfoy doesn't usually get tongue-tied, especially in the presence of a usually sympathetic professor, but he doesn't seem quite able to spit it out.

Lestrange folds his hands before him, leaning up against a table bearing a number of mysterious artifacts. He chuckles softly. "Ahh, so you think they don't do real magic elsewhere? What is it you're getting at, Malfoy. Come, come now. Spit it out."

"I've always figured a career with the Ministry was what I wanted to do. But I was thinking that maybe something where I could, you know, make a name for myself. And maybe… learn some of those things. You know, for a few years first. Rather than just pushing law papers" Abraxas says, by way of explanation. "There's power in knowing things others don't. But you've been there, I was hoping you could tell me if I'm being daft."

"What are you saying, lad? That you wish to be a Curse-Breaker?" Arcadius lifts his brow inquisitively. "Not every Curse-Breaker makes a great name for himself. In fact, I am more the exception than the rule. But you can earn yourself credibility in any profession. It sounds to me as if you are more interested in the kinds of things they learn at Heka."

"That's some of it, but the books say there's forgotten magic locked away all over the place. And a lot of them /do/ make names for themselves. I'm interested in /knowing/. It's obvious from the way things are going here. The muggle-borns aren't just going to lay down and let us assume our rightful places. It seems to me that a wise wizard would want to be prepared for anything he can." Abraxas explains, starting to sort out his own thoughts. "By rights, those magical legacies belong to those of pure wizarding blood anyway, and we can certainly make better use of them than the savages who've forgotten them in some stinking jungle somewhere." He nods at the first question about possible career choices, "That's what's on my mind, Professor, yes, at least partially. Though I do worry about someone thinking a Malfoy would be doing it…" His lip quirks a bit, "for the money or something." Because fame is far more important for a family with uncountable riches anyway.

Lestrange regards Abraxas with an indecipherable squint. "I feel that you appreciate unfiltered honesty, so I'm going to be blunt with you, Abraxas. I don't think you have the temperament to be a Curse-Breaker. A man doesn't last long in foreign cultures if he treats them as inferior. That said, I think some world travel might do you some good. You need to experience life beyond England."

Abraxas pauses for a moment. Almost balking. He grits his teeth, his hand closing and opening. But then, after a moment, he says, "I'm trying to learn to hide it. My cousin tells me that I need to be able to deal with others better." He /almost/ snarls, "But it's so /hard/, when I know I'm right. I try to remind myself that someday, things will be put to rights, and all my debts will be paid with interest."

"Things will be put right if we make them right," Arcadius adds. "Right now, your job is to learn all that you can, to prepare for the day that you can fully join the fight. Knowledge is the map to wisdom, and wisdom the key to enlightenment. If you do wish to be a great Curse-Breaker, you will need a more enlightened perspective."

"Then what do I do?" Abraxas asks, though matter-of-factly, rather than in a whine, "The… what's the expression? The natives are restless. And when we brought some of the mud… muggle-borns up to Professor Flint for throwing Eibon's things off the tower, Professor Black seemed concerned." Abraxas is no fool, at least, and he's starting to learn about power politics, though he certainly hasn't learned how to keep his mouth shut, "How do I prepare myself? I'm starting to think I might need to protect myself sooner, rather than later."

Lestrange nods sharply. "That's good. An hour of preparation can save you a lifetime of regret. So, you've noted Professor Black's hesitation? That's astute, Malfoy. Tell me, what do you make of it? Speak freely, I want to know your thoughts."

"Maybe the Head is pushing too hard, Professor. When it was just subtle things to keep the muggle-borns in their place, then it was something that the people outside weren't going to act about. But take too much, too fast, and… well, you get this. Open disobedience." Abraxas pauses, and rubs his chin, "I thought I might have overheard him saying something about Professor Dumbledore, too. But I'd be more worried about Professor Viridian. I don't think he'd… well, he's a muggle-born, sir. I wouldn't think to second guess the head, but I feel like I would have done some prep work first, like getting ready for a test. I heard Professor Viridian likes to turn students into chickens or something, and I don't think the board would stand for that. I read once that you don't leave an enemy behind you." He grumbles, "All I know is that we're on eggshells in Charms class."

Lestrange nods along with Abraxas's assessment, without exactly confirming anything. "You're developing a fine sense for political tides and tactical thinking. Remember what you've observed, and choose your moves carefully. Right now, Hogwarts is like a chess match. Every bit of maneuvering can have a profound impact on the endgame…and the pieces may not all be who you think they are."

"But being too cautious to move just leaves pieces trapped." Abraxas says, "Sometimes you have to sacrifice a piece to create an opening." The young Malfoy looks thoughtful for a moment, and adds, "And sometimes, you have to hide your gambit many moves deep. Thank you, Professor. I'll… think about what you've said. Maybe it's time I asked father to let me travel a bit. I'll be sixteen soon."

Lestrange grins warmly, clapping Abraxas on the shoulder. "You show greater wisdom than I gave you credit for, lad. I apologise for underestimating you. If you like, I'll recommend the same to your father. He and I go back together. I'm sure he'll be agreeable to the notion."

Abraxas smiles at the praise, "I'm not so sure I'll like it, Professor, but I'd be a real fool to come and ask you for advice and then not at least try to follow it. Thank you for talking to me. And I'm sure Father would be grateful to hear from you. I'll send him an owl as soon as I can. Maybe I can do something over the holiday, at least dip a toe in." He nods, reassured and with at least a plan of attack in mind.

Lestrange nods. "Indeed. We'll start you with something simple. Though it would be best to keep you far from the conflicts on the continent. Perhaps South America. There are hidden tribes in those jungles with purer blood than you can imagine. Well, time enough to think about it, anyhow. Now, finish straightening up those bookshelves, and you can run along for today."

"Of course, Professor. Thank you." Abraxas says, with another nod, and then turns to go and do just that.

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