Pardon My French

By Violet Beck

Arc I :: Quelle Chance!

Chapter Three :: Business as Usual...Maybe


I summoned my books while standing in the entrance hall. Not that I care, but this is an act usually frowned upon by the teachers; one too many students has gotten a nasty lump on the acme from a copy of The Complete Idiot's Guide to Transfiguration flying down the hall in midair.

This is why I'm glad I'm not a Muggle. Their lives are so...well, boring. I mean, for them to get hit in the head with a book, someone would actually have to throw it.

Anyway, once I had by book bag in hand, I decided to get a start on everyone to Care of Freaks, and trotted out the door. It's always fun to torture the great stupid beasts a little bit extra.

It was a pleasant day for early June, breezy and bright with thick gray-and-white clouds floating briskly through the sapphire-hued sky. I shook my hair compulsively out of my eyes, and let my gaze sweep over the scene from the morning sun-soaked steps where I stood. An erratic strip of ripples slithered across the far side of the lake, and I guessed that the giant squid thought the day was a good day as well. End of term in less than a week. I was definitely pleased.

A sudden gust whipped my loosely-draped cloak half-off my shoulders, and I had to dodge to the left to keep it from falling into the dirt. Call me fruity, but I put a lot of stock in my clothing. Everything revolves around appearance. Well, appearance and absolute evil.

At this particular moment, a green waterfall of semi-gelatinous bubbling stuff plummeted from the sky. If I hadn't just taken the step to the left, I surely would have been doused in it. The limestone steps where I'd just been standing didn't fair too well; there was about an inch burned out of them when by the time the green goo had atrophied and disappeared.

I looked up, quite murderous, to find Fred and George Weasley looking sheepishly down at me from a parapet, brooms in hands.

"Sorry, Malfoy," one of them said. I took a fair guess and decided it was Fred.

"We didn't see you there," his brother finished, smiling winningly.

"Bullshit!" I yelled up, but I found my anger fading in spite of my valiant struggle to keep at a simmer. The twins are of a rare breed; for entrepreneurial reasons, they've managed to basically make a friend of every single human being at Hogwarts. Well, aside from the teachers. Though the Magical Freaks giant seems to be quite partial to them and their bag of tricks.

Mounting his broom, Fred came spiraling down beside me to inspect the state of the steps. He knelt, ran his hands over the brand spanking new indentation, and chuckled disapprovingly.

"This is not going to work as an Invisible Skin potion, George!" he yelled up to his twin, basically ignoring me.

The other redhead shrugged, grinning. "Well, I was half right: it'd sure take your skin off."

"Ha, ha," I said grimly, recapturing Fred's attention. "And also end up on the Ministry's Unforgivables list with a couple of my father's inventions."

"Oh, stuff it," he said, smiling. "But that reminds me of something. We're paying you for something your dear old dad has yet to produce."

"Sorry, sorry," I said, lowering my voice quite a bit. It is never a very good idea to discuss illegal potions ingredients in ready hearing distance of the more reputable folk of Hogwarts. Seriously, I would know.

"Nundu fur is not easy come by," Fred reminded softly, leaning close so I could hear.

"Damn straight," I growled back. "Dammit, why don't you just hit Ollivander on Diagon up for some? This is getting incriminating."

"We already tried that," the twin hissed. His joking eyes were gone; this was his business face. "Trust me, Malfoy old boy, I wouldn't touch you with a ten foot pole if I didn't have to."

"I'm flattered," I sneered. "Ugh, fine, you disgrace, I'll get them to you in a month."

"A fucking month? You've got to be kidding."


Fred scrutinized him for a rather pissed off second, or at least until George's cry from above interrupted his scrutinizing. Which was a good thing, because I thought he was either about to curse me or attempt to scrutinize me to death.

"Oy, hurry the hell up, or I'll tell people you've been snogging blondie there!"

"Shaddap," Fred growled, and remounted his broom. In a swirl of black robes, he was into the air, and I was back on my way to Care of Freaks.

As I walked steadily through the drying, ankle-high grass of the great lawn, I contemplated what an extreme stroke of luck it was that I was still in full possession of my face, seeing as the twins had tried to go to work on me.

They'd make world-class mobsters. Or maybe just world-class businessmen. Same thing, really.

And suddenly, it hit me like the Skin-Searing Potion really should have: luck.

Today, all of a sudden, I was the luckiest man alive. Sex, chairs, pissing off Gryffindors, avoiding orange juice, avoiding mutilation--it was all there. Someone had put a spell on me.

It was an unnerving feeling, knowing that someone had done something to you without your consent. It was even more unnerving seeing as they'd done something nice. My experiences so far have told me that when someone does something nice for you, they want something in return. And that something's rarely pretty.

Calm down, calm down, I told myself as the first little tendrils of panic started to curl around my stomach like Devil's Snare. Come on, you probably just did something to yourself by accident.

I quickened my pace to try and drain the adrenaline from my blood. what had changed since last night? Blaise was really good in bed this morning...okay, but Blaise was always really good in bed. He'd been taught by the best, after all. There had been two explosive fights involving Slytherins, but that was less than usual so I decided it didn't count. Granger had ears and a tail, but I sometimes thought she had horns so that didn't count, either....

My hand felt heavy, and then I realized I was the biggest idiot in the world. It was the ring.

A smile crept to my face, and I gently slipped it off. I rolled it over once or twice in my hand, and glanced down.

It was so plain that it looked like it could very well throw it in the fire and melt it away to nothing, but this somehow made its power all the more attractive. I honed my senses in on it, and I found the dull vibration of trapped magic humming oh-so-softly in between my fingers.

Why, hello there, little spell, I thought, and my smile widened. It's no trick, sensing magic. It's just a helpful little trait among the many scattered through human and wizard kind; some people can tell which way is North, and I can tell if something's enchanted. Father says Granddad could do it, too.

I'd reached Hagrid the Giant Freak Keeper's hut and the neighboring corrals and whatnot for dangerous things by this time.

Oh, god, there's nothing in the pens, I groaned mentally. I bet the big oaf's got Flobberworms...again.

I'd never quite forgiven myself for that one. I'd meant to get the moron sacked over the hippogriff attack, not incur the wrath of the Flobberworms!

My plans are sheer's only on the execution that I screw up. I'm working on it, though. Just stick a "work in progress" sticker on a fat manila folder and you have the basic walking summary of my existence.

Heh, maybe the sticker should say "I'm doing it," because that would work on two levels...hehehe.

Moving on.

Ring. Luck. Absence of animals. Okay, so maybe it wasn't Flobberworms. I wished really, really hard that it wasn't Flobberworms. In fact, I screwed my eyes shut and crossed my fingers and said a couple of little rhymes I'd learned as a child.

I must have looked like a complete ponce when the giant found me.

"'Ey, Malfoy," he bellowed, making me jump out of my hopeful reverie. "You're 'ere early."

"Erm...yes," I said, trying to keep this 'conversation' thing to a minimum and edge away. He ignored my rather obvious efforts, however, as he unlocked the door to his hut.

"I need some boxes carried, gimme an 'and," he commanded, and I really had no choice. I followed him warily into his hut, and watched as he bent and tenderly scooped two large boxes up under his arms. They ended up looking like shoeboxes in his gargantuan grasp, but I knew I was definitely going to have trouble with them.

"Jus' get the las' one," he grunted to me, and stomped back out the door with his load.

Humph. Easy for him to say. I pulled out my wand and muttered "Wingardium Leviosa." It worked quite well, and the box and a few stray books were hovering in a moment. I forcefully pressed the books back onto their overcrowded shelf with a spare hand, and proceeded in directing the large box out the door.

I banged it a bit against the sides of the portal, which caused the giant to huff and puff a bit at me. "Be careful," he exclaimed heatedly. "Tha' thing's fragile!"

The rest of the Slytherins and a knot of Gryffindors were coming down the golden green of the sloping Hogwarts lawn, so I made extra sure to bang the box really badly and make the giant roar. Can't be hurting my image with a few good deeds or anything like that.

"Malfoy!" he barked, seething. "I'm teachin' with what's in those boxes, now mind 'em well!"

"Sorry, sorry," I said, really not meaning it.

I set the box down none too gently, and by this time everyone was coming down the green properly. I winked at Blaise and motioned that Crabbe and Goyle come and join me. They were bickering good-naturedly about something or other. I made the executive decision to not tell Goyle that he had a little porridge in his hair yet.

"What's going on?" Crabbe asked as the pair of them joined me.

"Nothing much. Worms in boxes." I was distracted, not to mention quite pleased with myself: Granger was nowhere to be found. Oh, I'd cursed her good. Well, not really, but the badly cast curses are always the hardest for Pomfrey to break. And you just know I'm masterful with those.

I checked up on Potter and the Weasel, just to make sure they weren't sneaking up from somewhere to kill me. Nope--I knew they weren't that interesting. They were just walking slowly behind the main crowd of Gryffindors, speaking intensely about something which was probably boring--well, it obviously wasn't me, at least. If it was me I'd be getting their shifty little Potty-Weasel glares by now.

Pity. It was always so fun when Potter got all pissy and righteous with me. And it was about time I beat his ass in a duel....

Our beastly, half-blooded creature-teacher was bent over the boxes with a gargantuan hammer, prying up the lids. He was remotely reminiscent of the mural of Thor that Father had painted on the far side of the banquet hall. Except Thor has a way better job. The great thunder god cares not for Flobberworms. Well, maybe he kills them for fun, but who doesn't?

I wrinkled my nose, suddenly remembering how I was about to spend the next hour. God damn Flobberworms, I thought vehemently.

The first box opened, and instead of sluggish slimy gray things, I caught a glance at something very golden and very still lying inside on a bed of straw. There were two of them. They were nesting. They were undeniably beautiful, and completely fragile.

My eyes lit up, and one word floated through my Quidditch-obsessed brain: snitches.

Oh, this was the best bleeding day of all time.

Chapter Two | Chapter Four

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