Pardon My French

By Violet Beck

Arc I :: Quelle Chance!

Chapter Six :: Humuhumunukunukuapua'a

"We should get down to dinner," Severus said, taking a glance at the clock on the wall. "I've heard there's a veritable mandate of god binding you to the occasion."

I made a barely audible grumbling noise in reply to this statement. I was still inspecting my eye in the window.

"Oh, Draco," Severus said with an exasperated sigh. "Don't hate him. He doesn't mean to be so horrible. He only wants the best for you."

I looked back to give him the Look of Death. "And bulls defecated merrily on that statement."

"Honestly..." Severus said. He stood, and started washing a cauldron that was sitting in the sink. "You'd think five years at Hogwarts and a schooling in the Dark Arts would leave you with a bit of maturity, but nooo...of course not."

"Die," I snapped.

"Later," he said. "Now, dinner. Stand up." He surveyed me. "You're not wearing that, are you?"

I looked sheepishly down at my rather wrinkled robes. "Maybe?" I hazarded.

He flicked his wand in the direction of the closet, and some slightly-oversized but far more presentable robes hit me in the chest. "Change," he said. "I'll see you in the dining hall they've set for us. And don't even think about bringing your cat."

With a thin pop, he'd Disapparated.

I inspected the robes, and shrank them a bit. Okay...so at least they weren't froofy. That'd show Father.

Oh, sure, right. He'd probably laugh his ass off.

<<<>>>

The Huoala Inn's executive dining hall was lavish and cool. Impressive shades of silver silk had been drawn down to dim the morning sunlight streaming through glass walls, and crystal chandeliers hung icily above, glittering under the persuasion of the odd refracted beam. The air smelled of fresh fruit and spicy meat.

Sitting amongst the finery in her stunning evening wear, my mother looked like an angel. Her hair was pinned up and her neck was festooned with diamonds. She smiled at me, and waved me over to my place beside her at the highest table.

"You're early," she said, eyebrows raised.

"You know me," I drawled. "Mr. Punctuality."

She fussed with my collar. "Where on earth did you get this robe?"

"Sev lent it to me."

"Severus lent it to you?"

"Yeah, yeah." I grabbed a piece of fruit from the centerpiece and chomped into it. I had no idea in hell what it was, but it sure tasted good.

With a shuffling and the low groaning of chairs being pushed too quickly from tables, the dining hall stood. I clambered to my feet and helped my mother up beside me as Lord Voldemort entered.

Lucius and Madame Marian we behind him, arguing, and Crumley was at his elbow, hurriedly taking down some dictation.

"Good evening, everyone," he said grandly, and we took this as a cue to seat ourselves. M'Lord and those with him joined our table.

I took another glance around the dining hall once I'd settled back down, and was quite surprised by how generous this 'everyone' was. Picture a...Death Eater convention, if you will. From the various looks and languages of those in the room, I had the sneaking feeling that members of the organization throughout Asia and the States had been invited to this little meet-and-greet.

"Draco," my mother said through gritted teeth, drawing me back to the conversation at the table.

"...And my son," Father was saying, "Draco."

"Very nice to meet you," the stranger said.

I smiled coolly at him, one big sexy pantomime of interest. "The same, sir," I said. He was sixty, perhaps. His hair was long, gray and well-kept; his features were flat-nosed and his skin was dark tan. He wore impeccably stylish Muggle formal clothing.

"This is John Skycloud, the Ambassador from the Native American Magic Federation," my father furnished smoothly.

Mum and I smiled and nodded appreciatively.

"And of course," Father continued, "you both know Mr. Tatsama?"

"Yes," mother said. We had the same smile, all teeth and no eyes. "Fantastic you could come with us again, Hiboshi."

My Lord addressed the trio, momentarily dividing their attentions, and I took this opportunity to lean towards my mother.

"You didn't tell me how many people were going to be here!"

"I didn't know!"

Annoyed, I snapped open a menu and tapped on the description of the seared swordfish with my index finger. It appeared quickly--as has most of the other dishes, by that time--and I began to eat.

The food was good, but the conversation spoiled it.

"How have you enjoyed Hawaii so far, Draco?" Madame Marian asked not a minute into my dinner, patronizing and cheerful altogether horrible. She and Hiboshi Tatsama hung over Mum and I like a couple of conversation-eating predators.

"Just fine, thank you," I answered.

"Gone out to the beach yet?"

"Ah...no. I've been...enjoying the hotel's amenities."

She smiled. "Ah! The pool."

"Yeaaah," I said. "The pool. It's just lovely, isn't it?"

"Lovely."

I paused to shudder at the thought of Marian in a swimsuit.

"And you, Mrs. Malfoy?" Hiboshi Tatsama inquired of Mum, pretending he didn't have a horrible accent.

"Oh, I'm having a wonderful time!" she enthused. "Positively couldn't wait to come, you know."

Madame Marian snorted. "Oh, please, Narcissa," she said, saccharine and smiling, "I Saw you packed your cigarettes. You know you only smoke when you're angry. Just say you're having a bad time! No one minds. It's just a business trip."

My mother blinked, and then smiled as warmly as a pixie in a blizzard. "Really, Marian," she said, her voice the pleasant veil for a growl, "I like it here quite a bit."

Marian clicked her tongue and smiled Knowingly into her white wine. "If you say so," she patronized.

My mother's eyes flashed.

"So!" Hiboshi Tatsama said. "How's that swordfish, Draco?"

"Smashing," I drawled, giving it a bitter glare.

"You're eating too fast, dear," my mother chided for the sake of having something to say.

I held back a very spirited 'Am not!' and looked across the table to where Lucius and my Lord were quietly debating something of debatable importance, Delilah Crumley was hastily rereading her notes, and John Skycloud was calmly consuming a salad.

"What's your particular business in Hawaii, Mr. Skycloud?" I asked.

He glanced up. "Just having a look around, for the Federation," he explained pleasantly. "There's been a lot of talk about joining. We're voting tomorrow. If the people say yes, I'll be staying the rest of the trip with you all."

"Fascinating," my mother said, happy for the diversion from Madame Marian.

"Oh, very," Skycloud agreed dully. I was about to continue my rounds of hideously boring chit-chat when I saw him wink.

Or I thought I did. No matter. A second later, any fleeting vestige of comfort or sincerity had vanished once more.

<<<>>>

I walked into Severus's room without knocking. "You weren't at dinner," I called, tone accusatory.

He looked up from where he was being excessively productive over a cauldron. "Pressing engagement," was his only excuse.

"What're you making?" I asked.

"Pepperup. Everybody's favorite Seer has a wee head cold, apparently. She sent in the order an hour ago."

"Hm. Speaking of whom, she pissed Mum off at dinner."

"Oh?"

"It's been rather a recent occurrence, of late. Gods only know why. Marian just seems to have it in for her."

Severus raised his eyebrows. "Why would someone dislike your mother? She's probably the most amicable one out of the lot of us."

I shrugged. "Well...sounds like enough reason to me."

Severus smiled wanly. "Get me a gram of oxblood feathers from my suitcase, will you? I need to keep stirring this. Oh, and the cayenne pepper."

I walked over and obliged.

"Got any ideas how to keep her off your scent, yet?" I whispered to him, as though this would somehow protect our counsel from prying eyes.

"None." His hand twirled methodically over the mix; the spoon churned it through like clockwork. "I'm just going to bite my lip, close my eyes and be a good little Potionsmaster. It could work."

"Could," I muttered, and handed him the powdered feathers. "Why are you risking your life like this? Couldn't you just...." I trailed off, and meaningfully dragged an index finger across my pale throat.

Severus looked down at me for a moment, and then judiciously looked back to his potion.

"The cayenne, Draco," he said, much more quietly than before. "And nothing more."

Chapter Five | Chapter Seven


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