Pardon My French

By Violet Beck

Arc I :: Quelle Chance!

Chapter One :: Happy Holidays

"Mum," I said very, very seriously. "I am not going to Hawaii."

My mother rolled her eyes. "Darling, you've got to," she said, rather exasperated. "The entire entourage is going."

I thumped down on my bed next to the trunk she was diligently packing for me. "The whole entourage?" I grumbled. "Like who?"

"Madame Marian, first off," Mother said.

"Oh, and she's a blast," I snapped. "Stupid seer."

Narcissa paid me no mind. "The Crabbes and the Goyles will be coming together. The Parkinsons are coming, as are the Boots, and Hiboshi Tatsama--the Japanese fellow, he was here last fall. Oh, and Delilah, of course."

"Lovely," was my lone, bitter word of commentary.

"Oh, don't be so dark, Draco," she said, pausing her packing to glare in my direction. "It could be fun."

"And Jarveys will fly out of my butt. Oh, Christ. I can't believe He's doing this to me."

"M'Lord does what he likes," my mother said curtly. "If you don't like it, you're welcome to go speak to him yourself."

"I think I will!" I exclaimed, and leapt to my feet.

"Well, good luck to you!" she yelled peevishly after me.

Grr.

<<<>>>

I tromped down the several flights of stairs to the main floor, somehow managing to sound like a whole herd of elephants utilizing only my shoes and a grand total weight of a hundred and twenty five pounds. Which is rather tricky, but entirely possible. Father loathes unnecessary noise, making the quality all the more useful.

I continued tromping until I reached the main parlor, more commonly known as the Throne Room, and threw open the doors.

There he was, Lord Voldemort, sitting in his elevated silver chair. All around him, some in hoods and some bare-faced, were his advisors and operatives.

His red, impassive eyes glanced up as I made my stormy entrance.

"Ah ha, it's Mini-Malfoy," he said coolly. "Pleasure to see you, Draco."

"The same, my Lord," I said crossly and gave a hurried bow.

"I suppose you're here to bitch about Hawaii?" he asserted.

Damn, I hated when he did that. "You are correct, my Lord," I said respectfully.

Voldemort sneered. "Well then, get started. I was rather in the middle of something." He motioned down to a portion of rather tasty-looking chocolate cake on a green glass plate in his lap.

"Here's what I think," I said, and blew a raspberry.

He considered this for a moment, and then chose to accept the noise as a viable form of alternative communication. "I suppose you mean we should probably go vacation somewhere more inherently evil?" Voldemort translated. "Hm, I'll think about it. No."

"Why not?" I asked angrily.

"I need a tan."

For a moment, I just stared at him with ill-managed revulsion, as did a few of the other occupants of the room.

"Oh for the love of the gods, people," he snapped. "I'm kidding." He rolled his eyes. "Someone light me a cigarette. And find Lucius. And where the hell is Marian!?

"We've no idea, my Lord," some tall, lean Warlock said hollowly.

Voldemort leapt out of his seat. "WELL FIND HER," he bellowed, "or I'll sever your gonads!"

All the males in the room winced and brought their legs a little closer together. This was one of my Lord's favorite threats, and he was rumored to have carried it out more than once. With great vim and vigor.

Trying to not look like I was clenching my thighs too tightly, I reclaimed Voldemort's attention. "Your Lordship," I said, loudly and firmly. "This isn't funny. Hawaii is about the least...suitable place for our people in the world."

He looked back at me as the man with endangered testicles skittered out of the room. "Oh come on, Malfoy, I think everyone needs a nice break. And as much as you all think we should go to some frozen fjord in Norway or an isolated forest in the USSR--"

"There is no USSR anymore, m'Lord," a skinny witch in a purple cloak said. Delilah Crumley, from the foreign relations department.

"Really?" he said. "Well, it's a good thing I don't actually care, then. As I was saying, for all I want, the dark scary places of the world may go sodomize themselves just now. I mean, even we need a nice beach holiday."

"If you say so," I muttered mutinously.

Voldemort regarded me for a few seconds, and cracked the knuckles in his spindly fingers in thought. "Don't worry about your little 'just-died' complexion, love," he teased at last. "I hear Norzle's is making some positively smashing sunscreen these days."

"Oh, sod off," I growled. "May I be dismissed?"

"Dismissed," he said with a limp wave of his hand. "Oh, and go help your mother pack, or I'll tell Daddy Malfoy that you've been bad."

I left the room and took the lift back upstairs since it was already on my floor. I normally don't use the lift because you can hear everything that's going on in the dungeon from inside the elevator shaft, and though torture is rather interesting, I am of the opinion that some of the boys and girls bopping around the Manor take it a tad overboard.

The dungeons were relatively quiet that day. In fact, for all I knew, we hadn't a single prisoner. Things were still rather slow about the organization, thanks to that lovely bungler Fudge who still, a year and a half after my Lord's resurrection, refused to recognize that he was once again a threat.

Fudge, old boy, may you rule forever.

Third floor. I disembarked, and trudged towards my room.

Severus was still off on business in some foreign country. I was reasonably sure he was somewhere in the Americas, but Father wouldn't tell me for certain. Dad had been nothing but a prick since I got home from school. All up on his fine broom and whatnot. Then again, I couldn't quite blame him--after Avaris Lestrange turned up mad from his stay in Azkaban, Father has fallen in as my Lord's second in command.

And then there's the fact that he underwent some sort of bizarre transformation no one quite understands which gave him more power that most of us could ever dream of. Yeah, almost forgot about that.

I walked into my room, and found no one inside, exempting the packed trunk sitting on the bed. Thank you, Mum. I shut the door behind me, and flopped down next to the trunk.

A piece of paper crinkled underneath my back, and I shifted so I could extricate it. On closer inspection, I found that I'd actually been lying on top of two articles: a note from Mum, and a freshly-arrived envelope.

Mum's message was brief.

Stop pouting. Father expects you at dinner. He says you won't want to miss it. Wear your dress robes. The black ones with maroon lace. And Leif Parkinson just owled to say that yes, Pansy will be in Hawaii, so you should have an all right time. And you'd better thank me later for packing your things.

I set that down. Well, at least Pansy would entertain me. But gods save us if her little brother was coming as well. Little demon child. And I could only dread whatever reason Lucius had for not wanting me to miss dinner.

I reached for the letter, wanting to flush the various stupid things I'd been put through today from my mind. I hoped fervently that something interesting was inside. The envelope was cheap and pale and boring, with "Draco Malfoy, Fourth Bedroom, Third Floor, Malfoy Manor, England" scratched hastily in unfamiliar handwriting on the front. Damn, not from Severus. Or anyone else I knew, for that matter. I flipped it over, a bit puzzled. No return address.

Suspicious.

Holding the letter close to my ear, I shook it a few times. No noise other than lightly rustling paper. I sniffed it. No aroma to speak of. Maybe some laundry detergent. Still, I wasn't quite appeased. My eyebrows had barely grown back from the last time Fred and George Weasley had tried to blow me up via owl post, and I wasn't ready to have any part of me singed again.

Cautiously, holding the envelope very far away from my face, I jimmied it open with my pointer finger and upended the contents on my bed.

Nothing more than a folded piece of parchment.

Feeling sort of stupid, I scooped it up and scanned to the bottom without reading the message. It was signed with only initials: HP.

No, way. My heard suddenly fluttering, my eyes skipped down to read the message.

Draco:

Just thought I was obligated to drop you a line. Hope your cat is doing okay and that Death Eater Summer Camp agrees with you. Took me a while to find your address since I don't know any Slytherins. Luckily, Arthur Weasley had your dad on file in his surveillance folder. Never figured you'd actually live in a manor, you brat.

Can't even believe I'm writing this. Doubt you will, either.

-HP.

Okay, so we'd snogged. So he'd said he'd write. I was still floored. I blinked a few times and slapped myself to verify that yes, this was the class A variety of reality. Then I checked over my brain, trying to remember if I knew any other people with the initials "HP" who were erroneously convinced I was attending Death Eater Summer Camp.

Nope. The letter was authentic.

Well this was disturbing. A nice surprise, but very, very disturbing.

I peeked my head out into the hallway. "Here, kitty, kitty," I called, and waited a few seconds before repeating the dreaded cry.

Asmodeus had, without any doubt, lived up to his namesake. I found out, some time after bringing him home, that Pansy (the original owner of my small gray beast) had named him for a satanic beast in the Muggle Bible.

Everyone in the Manor hated and feared my cat. I just loved him.

Right on time, he shot around a corner and pounced into my arms. I scratched him thoughtfully behind the ears as he viciously mauled my robe sleeve. He had just recently started to loose his kitten physique, and the new growth was making him psychotic. All the better.

I put him up on my shoulder, where he promptly went after my ear, and strolled back into my room to find the lacy maroon-and-black dress robes Mum had requested for dinner.

I threw open my wardrobe. It's a veritable rainbow in there, at least when compared to the wardrobes belonging to most of my contemporaries. On the left end, I've got regular black, but I also have a fine array of black-with-blue, black-with-green, black-with-green-and-silver, black-with-purple and black-with-blood-red.

Black-with-maroon, black-with maroon. I found it, rather predictably, between the black-with-reds and the black-with-purples. I pulled it down and held it up to myself. Lovely.

I then sighed and sort of sneered at myself. The only person in the world with froofier clothing preferences than my own is Father.

I stripped off my boring, every-day robes. Asmodeus jumped down to beat them into submission, leaving me free to tug on the new ones, tie the very 17th-century-Muggle neckerchief thing, and button every last tiny black button up the front. My cat had just finished making sure my robes wouldn't come back for more as I tucked the last button into place, and he leapt back to my shoulder to give my ear another beating.

"Enough, you stupid thing," I said, and pinched him on the rump. This only served to make him go after my hand. "I don't know what's gotten into you these days," I sighed. "Now come on, it's suppertime."

He bit down on my ear especially hard at this pronouncement. I knew the feeling.

Chapter Two


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