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Chapter 3: The Girl
Malfoy was unable to answer. This was only in part due to my silencing spell, the rest of the problem being his low-hanging jaw. He was beyond the stage of looking like a fish, instead merely appearing unhinged. The girl paid no attention to him, though, her glaring eyes fixated upon my throat, not only because that was the portion of my anatomy at her eye-line, but it also suggested that she could envision her hands squeezing the life out of me.
A very disturbing image, but it was one that suited her general appearance.
She was dangerous from head to toe, the kind of girl no right-in-his-mind detective would want to see strutting into his office, her hair dyed black, the tips a ghastly white, her eyes encircled with black, her lipstick like blood on a vampire’s lips.
No swooning pretty girl here. Not even an eye-batting dame. She was femme fatale all over and it scared me to death.
I opened my mouth, suave answer in mind, but nothing came out.
The girl looked back and forth at us both. “What are you? Mutes?”
I was going to shoot back something witty and charming, but the words died on my lips before they could emerge. The only alternative had come to mind. Two young men, both decent-looking, in a hotel suite, alone, eating lunch. No luggage. No nothing.
I was willing to admit that it looked just a little suspicious, and I certainly didn’t want anyone to think that Malfoy and I were... ugh. Perish the thought.
Not that I had anything against it in itself, but anyone who even remotely imagined a relationship with Malfoy would have to be touched in the head, off their rocker, on the road to Bedlam. He was a conceited little cad who spent his days at Hogwarts seducing anything in a skirt, including a large majority of my cousins, not to mention my sister, and he continued his conquests both in and out of the Ministry, but as he preferred to conquer the female sex, I was assured that, even could he, at that moment, speak, he would be more adamant than myself that we would prefer to be creepers than anything else.
That was a rather long rant, wasn’t it? What’s it that quote by that Shakespeare fellow? The lady doth protest too much?
So I’m just going to stop now and continue with the story.
Regard the above paragraph as exposition, a way of learning about Malfoy’s true character. Now I have to hope that it didn’t reveal too much about my humble self....
“Wait, wait, I get it. You silencio-ed each other, didn’t you?” Her voice had risen an octave, the kind of voice that girls use to talk to children and immature male specimens.
She pointed her wand at me.
“Not me!” So much for being the one in charge. Even a Hufflepuff had more guts. “He’s the only silenced one, and I tell you, it’s for a good reason.”
Malfoy had turned an explosive cherry red, but she regarded him with the same raised eyebrow and unamused lips that she’d given me. She had rather nice eyes beneath all of the eyeliner and eyeshadow, a darker shade of blue that, without the makeup, I think would have been known as cornflower. Highly cliched, but hey, I liked that.
“I prefer to make my own decisions.” She shot the counter-curse at Malfoy with a bit too much relish, and he promptly fell over, his mouth unfortunately opening with a tirade of words so rude that I refuse to make a record them.
She looked at me and we had a moment. Yes, a moment.
After a second she nodded. “Have to say that I agree with you on this one. Silencio!”
He threw a pillow in my direction (idiot), and I ducked just in time. It smacked into the door with a louder thump than I thought possible from something filled with feathers.
“Hey! I so did not do it that time, Malfoy.” I crossed my arms, knowing full well that I was puffed like a peacock. “You should know better than to talk like that in front of a lady.”
She looked impressed, but not at me. This was not to be borne.
“Malfoy? Not that Scorpius kid.”
He stopped raging to look at her. I mean, really look at her, his eyes moving up and down and left and right and even diagonally. It was disgusting.
“The same,” I supplied, kicking at the hassock before going over to the window, hands deep in my pockets, staring down into the street. No activity. Of course not. The activity was all in here.
“You looked older on the cover of Witch Weekly.”
I hadn’t even known that he’d been featured, though it didn’t surprise me.
He was anything but pleased with her comment, which was, in all reality, anything but a compliment. She seemed to be a bit older than us, not that I could recall her age from the file. It hadn’t seemed important at the time. Now, however....
“I’m glad that you can’t reply. I don’t think I want to hear it.”
If I wasn’t so bothered by the fact that she was the subject of our now-failed surveillance, I might have been more amused by her treatment of Malfoy. It was his fault that this was happening. Had he remained by the door, she never would have gotten in and compromised our mission. Now what was I supposed to do? I was supposed to be in charge here, but first Malfoy, then this girl, were snatching any control I may have had away.
It was just like being at home again, wedged between a Greek god of an older brother and a perfect (perfectly spoilt, that is) little sister. I couldn’t help being tossed into the shallow end of the gene pool when it came to looks. At least I had Dad’s green eyes. It gave me someway to charm the ladies, who always loved to gaze lovingly into a pair of emeralds.
But again, I digress. This was how traumatic the situation was for my beleaguered brain. First Malfoy, now this, and seeing that everything comes in threes, I could safely expect another disaster to come strolling in.
“Who does that make you, then? You do look familiar.”
She had turned to me at last after having stared Malfoy down, leaving him a sulking pile of ooze. Wish I could do that.
“There’s no point in me saying if you have to ask.” Point for me. I was finally able to release my inner Cary Grant. “I might just have one of those faces.”
Something twitched in her face; I can’t say that it was only her mouth. It seemed to start there, then moved up across her cheeks to finally reach her eyes, which glittered with a frighteningly malicious amusement, but then it passed on to her eyebrows and even her ears got involved. There aren’t many people in the world who can wiggle their ears.
“I should have seen it sooner,” she said with great relish. “Bogey has your dad’s picture on his wall. He can never forgive Harry Potter for the scar on his arse.”
Bogey?! For all that this was becoming more of a serious matter by the minute– no, the second – any reference to old movies made my skin tingle – who can resist the classics? – but the fact that this gangster fellow had fashioned himself after the Master Gumshoe was nothing short of absolute scandal. I could never watch The Big Sleep again. Not with the image of a big, bad Bulgarian in the way. And this girl was definitely no Bacall.
It was a bloody upsetting sort of thing.
“He thinks it’s funny that your dad’s got the scar on his forehead while he’s got his–”
“Yes, yes, whatever.” I waved her away, turning back to the window. “You shouldn’t even be here. What if your... Bogey caught you with a pair of Aurors?”
“Why in Hades’s name should I be worried about that? He’d probably think it worth a good laugh, especially with you here, Potter.”
I was going to bestow my best glare on her when something across the street caught my eye. A car pulling up to the curb in front of her building. A very nice car, black with chrome in all the right places. Damned if I knew what make it was, but I could still admire it.
“He may be having that laugh sooner than you think.” When I looked back at her, it was only to nod toward the window. “Take a look.”
After hardly a glance, she shrugged. “That’s not him.” She went to amuse herself with Malfoy’s helplessness.
I continued to watch, standing a little behind the curtain, the Omnioculars in hand. A black-clad man whisked out of the front passenger side and into the entryway, which was by this time, conveniently for him, in full shadow. There was nothing that said they were on the lookout for the girl, even less that they were anything but Muggles, but I’d learned from the best, and the best were always wary.
The man reappeared, his face hidden by the wide brim of his fedora and sunglasses. Very cliched, but effective all the same. He leaned into the car window before returning to the front door, something now in his hands. A box.
I could have sworn that Muggle delivery men drove little brown lorries printed with the letters UPS. They did not wear black suits and drive fancy cars.
For a moment, I thought about releasing Malfoy from the curse.
Only for a moment.
He would be too loud, still peeved that both of us had seen fit to rudely revoke his freedom of speech. It would take too long for him to calm down for him to be useful. She, of course, could not be allowed to be useful, not in the present circumstances.
That left me on my own. A lone wolf. Finally in control of things.
Until the bomb went off.
Note: the line by "that Shakespeare fellow" is from Hamlet III.iii.230. And "Bogey" was the nickname of the one and only Humphrey Bogart. I recently came to an understanding regarding the similarities between "a bogey" (meaning poltergeist), a "boggart", and Humphrey Bogart, which will lead to some more playing on words. :P
With thanks to RonsGirlFriday for the inspiration of her story "Hardboiled", and also to those who have supported the writing of this story.