Pardon My French

By Violet Beck

Arc I :: Quelle Chance!

Chapter Fourteen :: And That's All She Wrote

 

Potter--Harry, I suppose, for the sake of being "nice" and other such crap--left my room fairly quickly. I didn't so much as touch him after we kissed the third and final time. It was awkward, I was sarcastic, and lo and behold, he said he'd owl me during the holiday.

"Why!?" I asked, eyebrows raised.

"Fucked if I know," he said with a shrug, and a mild grin. I was surprised; though I knew he'd broken several personal records this evening, among them the curse-words-per-minute one, I hadn't expected he'd ever want to speak to me.

In spite of myself, I felt a wan smile twitch my lips. "Ah, well then, I'll see you eventually," I said, as non-stupidly as I could manage. "Though I hope you fall off the face of the earth, first."

"Same to you," Potter said, amount of seriousness unknown, and he left. The door stood open after him. After a few seconds, I got up and closed it. For some reason, I couldn't stop smiling.

I was nuts if I liked him. But what the hell--I'd never been sane.

<<<>>>

I tried to sleep for several hours. Crabbe and Goyle came back to the room around two, and, presuming I was asleep, had a burping contest. I waited anxiously for Blaise to get home, but he never showed up. I supposed, rather bitterly, that he was spending a night with some other lucky guy and doing that thing he does with his tongue elsewhere.

At last, around six, I realized I just wasn't going to sleep at all, and got up. I had one last visit to pay before someone arrived and whisked me away. If it was Dad, if it was Mum, if it was just our driver, it didn't matter: I left early. And I didn't want to leave before I saw him....

<<<>>>

Severus watched me from over the steaming cup of coffee in his pale hands. I could tell he was cold in the dungeon that early morning, but no outward sign manifested itself. As usual.

"Just came to say thanks for saving me last night," I said. "You were definitely, um, there when I needed you."

He shrugged almost imperceptibly. "It's my job." And then, more urgently: "Draco, I'm so sorry for everything."

I shook my head, dismissing the apology as unnecessary. "Life's fucked up," I said simply. "Beyond fucked up." I looked up at him and smiled sadly. "Best we can do is go with our instincts. And if you trust yours, I trust them, too. I mean, you do what you have to."

A sigh pressed through his lips, and he touched my cheek. A rare instance of physical contact. I flinched under his hand, and he quickly snatched it away.

"Take care of yourself until I get back to the Manor," he whispered back at last. "As you so eloquently put it, life is fucked up, and often, it's also out to get you. Watch your back."

I didn't say anything to that. He was right, of course, but I wasn't going to let him get away with it that cleanly.

"How many hours until breakfast?" I asked to change the subject, already knowing.

"One and a half."

"Someone will come for me soon."

Another sigh. "Yes. You should go pack and head outside."

I nodded, but couldn't move my feet. I bit my lower lip.

"How long until I'll see you?" I asked. My voice quavered slightly. I bit my tongue.

"Oh, a thousand years," Severus said sardonically. "Because I never show up around your house, ever."

"Promise you'll come?" I begged, wasting time.

"Of course. Now, though, you're just wasting time."

I bit my lip harder. "Yeah...I know. Guess this is goodbye for now, then...." I trailed off, slowly raising my hand to touch his shoulder. I gave it a light squeeze. "Thanks again," I stuttered.

With a roll of his eyes which clearly said, I can't believe I'm doing this, Severus swept me into his arms and crushed me with a hug.

"Gods bless you, you bumbling incompetent," he grumbled, and slowly released me. With one hand, he brushed a blond lock out of my eyes. "Now get the hell out of here."

A true Severus goodbye.

Something meowed and crawled out from under a table.

"Asmodeus!" I exclaimed joyfully.

"Oh yes, I forgot to tell you he was here," Severus said. "He's been harassing me all morning."

<<<>>>

At a quarter 'til seven I was out on the lawn, watching dust billow behind my father's car from the impeccably groomed dirt road that lead up to Hogwarts. The vehicle was an ancient something called a "Rolls Royce," and it was enchanted quite beautifully. Forest green with chrome. Shone like the moon.

When it reached us, our driver and Mechanical Wizard, Dimitri, stepped out.

"Hi," I called. My voice quavered slightly.

Was Father in the car? Or was he still elsewhere?

"Hello, Master Malfoy," Dimitri said with a curt bow--

And opened my father's door.

He had come.

"Draco," Lucius said smoothly as he disembarked. He was a great deal thinner than he'd been when I'd last seen him, but he radiated a quiet energy I'd never felt around him before.

"Hello, Father," I said, and smiled slowly at him.

He opened his arms, and drew me into a stiff and unnatural hug. "How was school?" he asked.

"Same as ever," I replied colorlessly. "The grapevine tells me that work has been a bit...taxing," I added, hinting that I'd really love to be clued in.

"Oh, it was a tad difficult," he said. And with a smile that showed all his teeth: "Though I think I came out of the other end a better man. I'll tell you more about it on the way home, alright? Ah, yes, and I've got something for you."

He reached into his breast pocket, and I realized with no small amount of horror that his thin, strong wrist had a thick chafe-mark, perhaps inflicted by...a leather strap?

A "dream" from several days in the past came back to me, and I believe I flinched. I couldn't tear my eyes from the bruised mark.

"What did He do to you, Dad?" I asked hollowly.

"Later, son," was the terse reply. Then, in his lighter, faker voice: "As I was saying, I've got something you might want." He offered me a thin letter, which I promptly took. Asmodeus, who had been hiding moodily in my book bag, climbed warily out to regard it haughtily. My father watched him with mild interest, but made no comment on my new pet.

"It's not from you," I said, taking in the Gryffindor seal on the back. It was addressed to "Draco Malfoy, c/o Lucius Malfoy, the Rolls Royce, the Road, England."

"Of course not," Lucius said. "If I had something to say, I'd just tell you. Some owl dropped it with me on the way here."

A little perplexed, I opened it.

Instantly, there was a large, gold and red explosion, and my eyebrows were singed off. Asmodeus howled and burrowed back into my book bag. My father just stared.

By the time I got over the shock of having what little facial hair I possessed obliterated and looked down at my hands, all that remained was a small, crisply-folded note. I gingerly unfolded it.

You didn't think we'd let you off that easy, did you?

Do a better job next time, please.

Hope your eyebrows enjoy their stay in hell.

Explosion courtesy of Weasley's Wizard Wheezes.

I shook my head, sincerely flabbergasted.

"Who sent that thing!?" my father asked, peering uneasily at it.

"Goddamn Weasleys."

He snorted. "Scum. All of them. I'll make you a Howler to send the Mud-lovers."

With a sigh, I stuffed the note into my robe pocket...and felt something else scrape my fingertips. I pulled it out, already knowing what it was with a certain dread.

Yup, my own personal worst nightmare. The ring.

My father looked at it, clearly surprised. He plucked it from my hand. "God, I must have been sixteen when I last saw this," he said. "My Lord had just barely left school then. Pure genius, this ring." He slid it onto his finger and admired it. "This is just wonderful. I thought it was lost forever." He smiled. "One of our people must have had it and lost it at school, all those years ago. It has a Homing Device--must have found you and known you were one of us right away!"

"What luck," I said sarcastically, and Levitated my luggage into the car's open trunk. "Come on, Dad, let's get out of here."

I took one last look at Hogwarts as we drove away. Damn Potter. He must have slipped the stupid thing into my pocket. Dammit, dammit, dammit, dammit. Sigh.

For some reason, I almost laughed at myself.

My life is definitely fucked up, I thought, but at least it's interesting.

Asmodeus meowed.

End :: Arc I

Chapter Thirteen | Arc II


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