Pardon My French

By Violet Beck

Arc I :: Quelle Chance!

Chapter Eight :: Operation: Steal Stuff

 

I had this dream while I was waiting for Pansy. I was just sort of lying there in the dorm, half-participating in a conversation about stupid things with Crabbe and Goyle, when my mind drifted away and it just came to me.

I was myself in the dream, but quite a few years older. I was taller, and my chest was wider, and I had darker skin from more sun over more years. My hair still fell into my eyes the way it should, though, so I wasn't too put off by the otherwise new appearance. It was still me.

I was kneeling on the floor. It was a hard stone floor, sort of damp with all kinds of small wet mossy impurities making their sick little homes between the cracks. I was pretty sure I was in a dungeon.

I sat straight, my body a perfect right angle from my lower legs. I didn't know why I was sitting straight, though, because I'd been sitting like that for a very long time. My hands were tied expertly behind my back with something smooth and taught--leather, perhaps. It was cold in the dream, but I was sweating. The rock beneath my knees was starting to make my legs bleed. I struggled pointlessly, biting my lips. My lips bled. Someone had left me there, alone, and I knew it. My brain was charged with betrayal.

End dream. Back to reality.

At that particular moment, I was being reminded very much of my infuriating dream-predicament. What a fucking bind I was in.

"No, seriously," I told the Animated wooden lion, "Snape wants the Nundu fur. He sent me." I heard Pansy heave a very annoyed sigh and flop down on a wooden work bench behind me.

"Boy," the lion said in a scratchy cedar voice behind me, "it's one in the bloody morning. Do you honestly expect me to believe this tripe?" He sounded like Snape.

"Yes!" I exclaimed, staring down the cabinet's small guardian. "That's why Severus sent me! He's very busy tonight! Erm...emergency potion making! The Headmaster's doing!"

The lion yawned: a small, crackling noise. It then proceeded to close its eyes and Deanimate, melding back into the cabinet wood as just another carving out of many.

"Hey!" I snapped. "Come back! Come back here, you stupid lion! I was talking to you!"

It didn't move, and Pansy was sniggering her heart out behind me. I whirled upon her to find her sitting cross-legged on the thick wooden table, her hood fallen down to reveal her froofy blonde hair and flushed face. When she saw my angry glare, she started laughing even harder.

I felt very, very hopeless.

"I hate you," I told her, but I didn't put the proper heart in the statement so she didn't take me seriously. I came and seated myself at her side, and leaned into her, relaxing my aching back. I needed sleep. Bad. But that damn lion had me all riled and it looked like insomnia would probably have its bloody way with me tonight. Insomnia is an ugly whore and a sore adversary.

Yawning, Pansy jumped off the table, leaving me to slump down on my side. Owie. "Can I go now?" she asked sleepily.

I sighed, rolling my eyes, and turned onto my back. "Sure, fine," I groaned. "But you're still my slave tomorrow night."

"Good enough," she said, and stalked out.

Asmodeus was still far away on my bed, sleeping where I rightfully should be. I somehow didn't want to go back, but whether this was because of Blaise or that damn cat I couldn't tell. I stared at the dark, vaulted ceiling, and let the light from my wand go out and plunge me into nothingness.

I'd been avoiding Blaise: that was a fact. Don't ask me why, because I don't goddamn know. Maybe I was blaming him for my wanting Potter. Yeah, that was it. Because that made a whole lot of sense, after all.

Mental head slap. Ugh. I rolled off of the table, re-lit my wand tip, and left the Potions dungeon to roam the school.

The dream, though. There was another thing that put me off, and kept me from my bed. Somehow, it disturbed me. I don't dream a whole lot about being tied up, but even when I do it's all very weird and dumb and involves cute little dominatrix outfits and riding crops. This dream, however, had just been...wrong. Kind of painful, even. And I'd been wearing stupid robes. Like something Father would have worn--burgundy velvet. Torn at the hem from some sort of scuffle.

It had just been too damn...real...for comfort.

I found then that I'd drifted towards the library, so I just continued to allow the drifting and spent all my energy on watching my surroundings--I wouldn't want to be caught wandering about, or anything inconvenient like that. Best to keep my eyes open and mind vigilant, just in case there were some other prowlers out.

The library is a safe island in Hogwarts's vast sea of nocturnal creepiness. Dark, musty, endless shelves of books stretching pacifically to all sides; green and amber glass reading lamps sitting here and there, making themselves boring and inconspicuous on purpose. It's peace embodied; a sanctuary to the midnight marauder like myself.

I found soft lights shining from a few remote corners of the place when I walked in, pinpointing the locations of older students who had stayed up to study. Really, people, don't kid yourselves: there is such a thing as too much effort. Here's your proof.

Smirking, I decided I should go and torment the poor obsessive-compulsive little scholars for fun.

Iduun Gaal (catchy name, I agree) was holed up in a haven of ancient tomes near the first little light I came upon. She's a Hufflepuff, and an all-around moron. Her mass of insanely blonde hair was what I identified her by; everything else was obscured by books.

Like the Angel of Death, I did my thing and passed over. She didn't even notice me--she's so oblivious to the world around her, she probably wouldn't even noticed me teasing her. Oh, and by the way, can you tell?--I picked up that Muggle "Bible" thing during Potions yesterday. That book's not too shabby--in it, the gods kill a bunch of people in a lot of cool ways, while spreading their word of peace and destruction or something. Very inventive, all of it.

But anyway, I kept on walking, and seven rows later I got lucky. Really lucky. Hermione Granger was hanging over her books like a weary hawk, quill flicking back and forth, taking careful, minute notes which spanned about three feet of parchment so far. She looked like she'd been at it for hours.

"Hey, Mudblood," I hissed, seating myself on the edge of the table.

Her lips immediately got thin, and she slowly looked up. "Malfoy," she said distastefully, as though she'd already guessed who it was, and glanced right back down at her notes. "Go away. I'll hex you if you bother me tonight--I've got to take the exam in Defense Against the Dark Arts tomorrow."

"Oh dearie me," I said in a falsetto voice, "I'm so sorry, I had no idea you were busy. I guess I'll leave now." I stood, walked over, and sat on the table beside her just out of punching range.

She stared down at her work, completely ignoring me.

No one ignores me.

Suddenly, I had a very, very brilliant idea. Oh shit, the world said unanimously.

Shut up, I mentally told the world, and got started.

"Why aren't you studying back in your common room, Granger?" I inquired innocently.

"I didn't want to," was the terse answer.

"Are you avoiding Weasley?" I asked, making my voice passable for sympathetic and my eyes hard as diamond.

Her gaze darted up. She looked like a scared deer. "How'd you find out about that?" she hissed urgently, her brown eyes wide.

"Dunno," I said vaguely. "But I can fix it."

"Sod off," she growled. Her eyes were growing red--was she about to cry, or sprout fangs? "You can't do anything, and I wouldn't let you, either. Leave."

"No," I hissed. My nimble fingers slid the heavy lead ring off of my hand, and I held it in my closed fist, contemplating my next move. This was riskier than Australian Indoor Quidditch. "No...I'm not going anywhere. Because I need some help on a few little spells, Granger, and you're the only one I know who's smart enough to break them."

"I said leave!" Hermione snarled, and I almost fell off the table backwards. I'd never seen force like this in her before.

"Do you really want him back?" I persisted, leaning towards her. I pretended she didn't scare me, and it sort of helped. Scratch that, no it didn't. Butterflies were fucking attacking my stomach. I think they were having convulsions or doing violent mating rituals or something.

Her lower lip trembled slightly, and she bit it to stop the movement. "Of course I want him back," she snapped once she'd properly regained her composure. "I--I just don't see how the hell you think you can help."

In an instant, I was dangling the ring in front of her in my pale fingers, all caution in the wind.

"Do you know what this is?" I breathed, a smile quirking my lips as I watched her eyes grow to the size of saucers. She made a quick grab for it, but I pulled it out of reach. "Nuh-uh-uh!" I taunted, holding it back.

"Please, Malfoy!" she gasped, standing, still reaching. She was unexpectedly desperate for it. "Omigod, please--I need that!"

"Only if you do my favor!" I growled harshly, and shoved her back into her seat. She looked ready to slap me, but held her peace for the sake of the ring. Her eyes were bleedin' glued to it.

Oh baby, I had her. I had her good. She'd swallowed it sink, line and hooker. Or something. I don't fish.

"That ring, Malfoy," she groaned. "That stupid thing could solve all my problems." Suddenly, her eyes focused and darted back to my face. "How much do you know?" she inquired.

"I know that it works," I said smoothly, sending her a toothy smile.

"No! Not that!" she said. "I mean...about...the fight."

I snorted. "I don't give a damn about your stupid fight," I said sharply. "All I care is that I get what I want, and then you can have the damn ring."

"It's Ron's," Hermione said softly, and I stopped dead.

When I finally spoke, my voice was incredulous. "What? What's a poor boy like that doing with one of these!?" I waved it in front of her as though it were evidence or something.

"He found it," she said weakly. She couldn't stop staring at it; the ring was almost mesmerizing her. "Ron found it at the beginning of the year, tucked away in a corner of the Third Years' dorm. I--I was wearing it one night, to detention--I told the guys I needed the luck--and I lost it. Oh gods, Harry and Ron haven't spoken to me since! I need it back, badly!" Her eyes implored me.

Oh, this was rich. Enter the big, fat, involving twist, which completely dropped her defenseless, unprotected social well-being into the middle of my lap. Lady Luck, how I love thee.

"Then maybe you wouldn't have too big of a problem helping me get into Snape's storage closet," I murmured.

"Just give me the ring and I'll do anything you ask," she said franticly.

I examined her helpless, pinioned eyes, and knew instantly that she was telling the truth. Stupid Gryffindors and their stupid honor--it hurts them more than it helps. I presented the ring to her on my open palm.

///SSSSSTOP///

The word hammered through my brain, and the ring spilled from my fingers as every muscle in my body suddenly spasmed from shock. I made a grab for it, mindlessly heeding that hideous grating cry inside my head, but she snatched it clean out of the air and slipped it on before I'd even really moved.

"Thank you," she said, staring down at it with utmost joy on her face.

I paid her no mind.

What the fuck was that? I thought, rubbing my head. Was I hallucinating? Or did that ring just...just try to keep me from...

"You said something about Snape's cabinet?" Hermione prompted, her voice once again as business-like, clipped and controlled as it always was.

I recovered quickly. "Oh...oh, yes. I need something inside. And a main condition is that you won't tell anyone a bloody thing. Or I'll repossess it, I swear to gods."

You're imagining things, Draco, I convinced myself as I spoke, and bent over so the Mudblood could sketch directions for me on a piece of torn parchment.

Imagining things, indeed.

Chapter One | Chapter Three


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