Pardon My French

By Violet Beck

Arc I :: Quelle Chance!

Chapter Nine :: The Plot Turns Into Peanut Butter

 

Morning's first light must have been surprised when it seeped through the high-placed windows, for it found me in the common room. I was sprawled on the emerald-hued couch by the fire, arms tucked behind my head. A small, warm ball of gray fur was in sweet, safe repose on my slowly rising-falling chest.

As I woke, my mind slowly trickling back into consciousness like molasses into a jar, I remembered finding Asmodeus waiting for me in the common room last night. He'd been sitting on the back of the couch, little pointy ears pricked and paws meticulously placed. He meowed at me as I entered, exhausted and self-satisfied. I marked it as my return to normalcy and ambiguous luck.

Strangely enough, this was welcome. Luck gets creepy very quickly. It's eerie how everything swings undisputedly your way; your mind subconsciously wants to be rid of this unfair advantage.

"Morning," I muttered to Asmodeus, but failed to sit.

"Draco?" someone said from the direction of the boys' dormitories, and I forced myself upright. The cat leapt off of me and re-seated himself on the couch back.

"Oh, hi," I said slowly, finding Blaise looking my way from the hallway door. His bathrobe was wrapped loosely around his thin waist and fell slightly from his shoulders, making a certain sort of hotness twinge involuntarily in my lower stomach.

"Where were you last night?" he asked quietly, walking over to me and seating himself beside Asmodeus.

"I had business to conduct," I said smoothly. This was true enough.

"With who?"

"The Weasleys."

"I see," Blaise said, and I could tell he was appeased. He let himself slip off the couch back and onto the couch. "I missed you," he purred. Asmodeus took the hint and disappeared. My hand played up Blaise's leg and around his waist, while the other made quick business of untying his robe.

He was entirely naked underneath. Score.

Finally, I couldn't help myself any longer. I pressed my mouth to his, my hips to his, and we fell backwards onto the soft green plush, kissing wildly. He writhed beneath me, and moaned softly under my lips. I felt myself growing aroused.

God damn, this was a welcome diversion from the troubles of the world.

My mouth left Blaise's, foraying down his porcelain neck. My tongue snaked out, caressing the ivory skin, and then I sank my teeth in. He gasped, and clutched at my robes, a single word tumbling from his soft, kiss-bruised lips:

"Draco!"

Suddenly, my imagination gripped me and it was Potter under me, Potter crying my name into my ear, Potter's breath coming fast and hot against my neck. I closed my eyes tightly and kissed him full on the lips, a shockwave of pleasure coursing through my body when he made a soft whispering sound of submission into my kiss. My hands stroked that perfect, Quidditch-toned body, and he wrapped his arms possessively around me, just the way he had that night in that broom closet. So innocent then, so different now....

Somewhere very far away, a cat meowed, and my eyes snapped open. I was staring down at Blaise Zabini.

<<<>>>

I tried to drown myself in the bath. I'd made some excuse about hearing someone coming down from the girls' dormitories, and fled like a scared animal. Now I was dunking myself repetitively under the hot water in the prefects' bathroom, my eyes screwed shut, scrubbing the filthy fantasy from my skin with a terrycloth wash rag. I wished I could purge my mind in the same way.

Finally, my skin and my lungs couldn't take it anymore, so I hoisted myself out of the water and sat on the edge of the steaming pool, my legs still dangling in it. I breathed out, long and hard.

"Adelaide," I asked quietly.

"Yes, gorgeous?" the perky voice came, ready at my beckon call.

"You've probably seen your fair share of...shagging, haven't you?"

She tittered, and I turned to face her. "Oh, you bet I have! Happens all the time!"

"Just boys with girls, right?"

"Oh, no. Boy with boys, girls with girls--those two happen pretty often, actually."

I felt my cheeks go warm. "Um...okay then, have you ever seen people who usually hate each other...well, fuck?"

She looked thoughtful, her little oil-paint fins slashing in the aquamarine water below her sunny rock. "Well, it's not unheard of," she said at last. "I've never seen it, per say, but the other portraits talk."

"Thanks," I said, slowly rising from to my feet. "That's really all I wanted to know."

Sweet, bell-like giggling. "Anytime, gorgeous."

<<<>>>

Breakfast. Eek. Oy. Argh. Blaise was obviously angry. He refused to look at me, in fact. That's what happens when you leave a man unsated.

Sausages and scrambled eggs. Not my favorite, and besides, I was giving myself indigestion. There were just too many damn things to worry about.

Granger walked in between Weasley and Potter, smiling and talking like she hadn't a care in the world. I squinted, staring at them.

"Magnus Regardus," I whispered, and suddenly I had a much better view of them. Chuckling about something, Weasley reached up and laid his arm around her shoulder. I easily spotted a small band of black around his ring finger.

She glanced over, quite by accident, and our eyes met. She sort of jumped in her place, but neither of her companions noticed.

"Minimus," I muttered to myself, undoing the magnification spell, and then mouthed the following words across the hall: "It had better work."

She saw this, but no attempt at a response was made. She didn't look nervous, though, and that was a good sign. It meant she was convinced she'd given me sound advice. Either that, or the advice would kill me. Well, we'd find out in the evening, wouldn't we?

"Draco!" Crabbe suddenly said, his voice very urgent. He was attacking my shoulder with his meaty hand, and waving a paper in the other.

I snatched it. "What?"

"How do you give someone the Titallandium Hex!? What's the conductor!?"

I blanched visibly, which is quite a feat when you're as pale as I am. I hadn't done my Defense Against the Arts homework! This was going to murder my grade. Again.

"Um...copper. Yes, copper," I said, relatively sure. My fingers clutched nervously at my robe. Oh god, I'd given Granger the upper hand in grades again! Idiot me. Idiot me. I looked up to Blaise across the table, and was about to beg him for his homework when--

"No," he said firmly, and glared at me before getting up and leaving the table. He hadn't eaten, either.

<<<>>>

Defense, first period. With the Hufflepuffs. I wanted to die. I just sort of curled up in my desk in the back, trying not to be noticed. When no one was looking, Goyle leaned over.

"Is something up?" he muttered in my ear. "Is your dad pissed? You only get like this when Mr. Malfoy's pissed."

"No, he's not," I said bitterly. "But I think the rest of the world is."

At that moment, Bottlegreen walked in, and Goyle snapped to attention. She was directly on time, as usual.

Phyllis Bottlegreen is a very scary person. Not m'Lord scary. Not Severus scary. Not even Father scary. She's scary in the fact that she's absolutely and completely the poster child for anal-retentive disorder. Her hair is pulled into a fussy brown bun at the dead-center back of her head. Her nails are clipped short, unpainted and meticulously filed. Her robes are an unstylish charcoal gray. Her eyes are green and slightly reddened from fatigue. In Professor Bottlegreen's class, every paper gets carefully read, every student is paid their due attention, every note is copied carefully onto the board for extra emphasis, and no one chews bubble gum if they enjoy their freedom.

"Good morning, class," she said in a voice that sounded like someone stepping on a violin. "Please take out your homework."

There was a rustle of papers. Oh, shit.

I pulled a few stacks of meaningless notes and doodles out of my book bag and rustled them around, looking very efficient and feeling very stupid. I moved them to the upper left hand corner of my desk. Upper right. Into the middle. Sigh. If only school could be this easy.

Bottlegreen was clipping up and down the aisles between our obsessive-compulsively arranged desks in her remarkably versatile low-heeled granny boots. Her quill made quick little checks on a piece of roll paper as she passed each sheet of proffered homework.

She was at Minato. She was at Goyle. She was at me.

The fidgety classroom tyrant stopped, her rhythm irreparably disturbed by my lack of waving parchment.

"Mr. Malfoy," she said slowly, as though trying to prevent tears of rage from welling in her eyes. "Where is your homework?"

I think she's going to eat me. "Ah...I forgot to do it, Professor."

Bottlegreen bit her lip compulsively. "What do you mean, forgot?"

She's insane. Insane, I tell you! "Excuse me?"

"Did you get sick? Did you have other, more important things to do?"

I quelled the desire to slap her. "No. I just forgot."

Her left eye was twitching. When she spoke again, her voice was near-hysterical. "Mr. Malfoy--"

She was cut off by the sudden opening of the classroom door. It was Damson Celestinne, Head Girl of Slytherin. I had never been happier to see the Toolbox Queen before in my life.

"Yes, Miss Celestinne?" Bottlegreen snapped, whirling upon the interruption.

As a credit to her, the girl was unfazed. She just flipped her mousy brown hair to the other shoulder, and spoke. "Professor Snape needs to speak to Draco Malfoy."

As I was saying, I'd never been less willing to see the Toolbox Queen, and that's really saying something.

Bottlegreen (the Philistine, say it with me now!) smirked just enough for it to noticeable and not enough for any authority to call her on it. My karma hates me. "Go ahead, Malfoy," she said coldly.

I didn't glare at her as I walked out behind Damson. My stomach kept me occupied with its riveting gymnastics routine.

The second the door clicked behind myself and my escort, I was alive with questions. "Why does he want me?" I asked quickly. "Did he look angry?"

Damson shrugged, indifferent as an iceberg. "Dunno. He's hard to read. You should know that, Draco." She eyed me idly over her left shoulder, meaning in her seemingly thoughtless glance.

Stupid Death Eater obsessed psycho bitch. She probably stalks him. She's probably his groupie. She probably gives great head. I'll have to ask Sevvie about that some time.

That is, if I live through this particular encounter.

All over again, my gut was somersaulting. Something horrible could have happened to Granger, which had pinned the ring on me. Even worse, Granger had 'fessed up for some unfathomable Gryffindor-esque reason, and I was now incriminated. Or maybe Snape had talked to the Animated lion on the supply cabinet I was breaking into again tonight. My gods, the list was endless!

We were approaching the dungeons now. Damson spoke again. "You know, if you do bad things," she murmured, "it would be best to not get caught."

I snapped. "Don't think for a second you can give me lessons, you wannabe quack!" I spat coldly.

Her lip twitched, and she stopped walking. She pivoted on her small, dainty feet to face me. "I give lessons to who I want," she said. Her voice was measured and constantly soft. "I know about these things."

"Fucking poser," I snarled, and suddenly, she'd grabbed me around the waist and pressed me against the corridor wall. To any casual observer, we were kissing. To those involved, there were nails pressed uncomfortably against a vital vein in my neck, and her voice was soft as ever in my ear:

"For your information, Draco," she whispered, and I could feel the anger resonating in her tone, "the Dark Lord has contacted myself and my friends, and is currently utilizing our aid." She leaned away from me ear so our lips were almost touching.

I tried to wrench away, but it was in vain. "Idiot," I growled.

"Shut up," she said, and the nails dug deeper. My body spasmed involuntarily, and then I went still.

"What's the topic, then?" I asked. "What's He getting you to do?"

"All I'll say," Damson murmured, looking very pleased with herself indeed, "is that a very important piece of my Lord's armory is lost, and it's up to me to reclaim it."

And then, suddenly, I was free. She'd taken a full step away from me, and was now at a respectable distance, inspecting her long, very sharp nails.

"Bloody hell," I swore, rubbing my neck. "You're insane. He's using you, you know that!? You won't get out alive. Not you."

"I believe you're mistaken, young Malfoy," she snarled. "I think he's using you." And then, only marginally more lightly: "I think you can find your way to Snape's office of your own accord?"

She didn't wait for an answer. She was gone down the hall. Crazy, crazy bitch.

I got on my way, only slightly shaken. I deal with crazy people every day. I'm a Slytherin, for godsakes.

At the risk of sounding perky, I was only a hop, skip and jump away from the Potions classroom, and I made it there in record time. Severus was waiting for me. He leaned against a table, hands clasped in his lap, eyes dark and calculating. He watched me enter. I faltered under his heavy, unreadable gaze, remembering I was about to be seriously punished for something seriously bad.

"Come closer," he muttered, nearly through his teeth. Perplexed, I obeyed, pondering the occasion for the silence.

"What?" I asked quietly, drawing nearer to him.

"It's...it's your mother," Severus said, unmoving. His eyes were locked on mine. "She's in my office, right now. Draco..." he trailed off.

I was gone. I was half-running. I'd torn open the office door. She dropped her teacup, filled with some sort of calming herb infusion, and it splattered, a hot china and water mess all over Snape's desk. Her pale brown eyes found mine. They were red from tears, and the ivory skin below them was stained dark by worry and many sleepless nights.

"Mum!" I gasped. Severus came silently into the door behind me. Everyone stared at each other.

I didn't even want to know what the hell was going on. I wanted to be frozen in that second in the dark for eternity. My mother once had Severus stewing potions in our dungeons. She once had the Lestranges in the guest bedroom. She had m'Lord Himself as a houseguest more than once. The idea that anything--anything--could shake her to the point she was at now honestly scared the shit out of me.

I wasn't being punished. It was far, far worse than that.

"Darling," she said, and her voice was shaking. Her knuckles had gone white and cramped around the folds of a lavender handkerchief. "It--it's your father. He's gone. We can't find him anywhere."

I felt myself sway slightly from the recoil of this statement. My head spun. "How long?" I croaked. My voice came out stunted and strange.

Mum bit her lip until it looked fit to burst. "Two weeks," came out at last. It was a whisper.

"Oh, gods," I breathed. Two weeks. He'd never, ever left the Manor for more than a week before--Father's connected to our home. He operates out of it. He's got no business anywhere else.

"Close the door," I ordered Severus, and he obeyed without any question. "Can anyone hear us in here?"

"Of course not," he replied. "I have Wards up."

I turned back to Mother. "Has m'Lord spoken to you on the subject?" I asked urgently.

Her soft eyes showed the depth of her loss as she shook her head slowly. "He has not contacted me. My Lord does not require my servitude often--my task is mainly taking care of my husband." She stared at me, her gaze imploring. "You know it, Draco. You know something terrible has happened. It could have been someone else, but my Lord..."

She trailed off. All three of us knew what she was thinking. Father might have very well taken a wrong step for the last time.

Slowly, Snape walked over and inspected his soggy desk top.

"You Malfoys and teacups," he said, his voice as smooth and cryptic as it was the day I met him.

Chapter Eight | Chapter Ten


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