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Chapter 60: Must be the Wine
Must be the Wine
The small Italian village of Purezza was an all-magical community right outside of Aosta, near the Swiss border. It was a picturesque scene with small homes, children running and giggling in their yards and a small row of shops and cafés. But beneath the beauty and tranquility, the village held a secret: it served as a dark foothold for Voldemort to gain support from the country. It also served as a discrete training ground to Death Eaters. The only way to arrive was by Portkey because it was so heavily warded one could not simply walk or Apparate in to the village.
“Regulus!” An excited and boisterous voice met Regulus' ears the moment he arrived via his Portkey. A heavy hand fell on the boy's shoulder, directing him away from the landing spot where Bellatrix still stood with his trunk. “My gods, would you look at yourself. You've grown one, maybe two inches since last summer!”
Regulus rolled his eyes in offense, but still smiled up at the man speaking. Over six foot, broad shouldered with a strong, handsome face: Jugson was a powerful looking man. But when he smiled, the harsh nature of his appearance seemed to fade away; his light eyes shined and genuine joy radiated. His laugh was carefree and near infectious as he continued to steer the young boy away from his cousin. Behind them, Bellatrix's insistence for them to stop could be heard.
“Don't worry about it, I've got him from here. Delivery made; you can be on your way now, Mrs. Lestrange.” Jugson refused to look back at the woman, his pace quickening. He ignored her sneered reply and smiled down at Regulus. “Dinner? We can wait until morning to get started. You better not have been slacking.”
“Course I haven't!” Regulus smiled back but he knew better than to let his guard down. Jugson was a friendly man when he wanted to be, but his heart was black with the common hatred of anyone less than pure. The man was ruthless, cruel and borderline sadistic; Regulus never let himself forget that. He took a deep breath and threw one last fleeting glance back at his cousin.
The two settled into a tiny outdoor café, the heat of the dry night air forcing them both the shed their robes. Keeping their Dark Marks covered wasn't a priority in the village; the citizens were all sympathizers to Voldemort's way and showered his followers with attention and praise. To wear a Dark Mark in Purezza assured you near celebrity status.
“Your fan club has been asking about you all week. You shoulda seen the face on Daniela when I told her you were coming today.” Jugson gave a Cheshire grin to Regulus and leaned back in his chair, his eyes trailing off behind the boy in a poignant way. “Never mind, you can see it now.”
Regulus' face fell, a small groan escaping his lips as he hesitantly turned around and spotted two girls. He was quickly flanked by two blondes, both looking at him as though he were going to suddenly vanish from their sight. They spoke to each other in such quick Italian the boy could barely make out anything they were saying. From the way they would look to each other, then to him, he figured they were discussing him, despite not understanding them.
“Look I'm kind of tired at the moment,” Regulus tried, which Jugson quickly repeated in Italian. The grin on the man's face made Regulus wonder how accurately he was translated. “I just wanna have dinner and get some sleep.” He met the man's eyes across the table and silently pleaded for help. “Can you just tell them I'm not interested? Tell them I have a girlfriend or something.”
Jugson gave a small nod, rattled off in Italian and smiled with accomplishment. The girls looked to each other, giggled happily and bounced away without another word. Regulus didn't ask what the man had told them, he really didn't want to know.
“They're very pretty,” Jugson said pointedly.
“Yes, they are. I'm really not interested in them though.” Regulus frowned at the table, not liking the direction the conversation was headed. “I have someone,” he added for a quick save. Not a technical lie, so his face didn't betray him in the slightest.
Jugson hummed his answer; Regulus couldn't tell if it was defiant or dismissive. The man didn't speak again until after their wine came. “You're a bit like me, yes? Maybe too much, I think. You're too picky. Guys like you and me, we can have any woman we want, but we set our standards too high.”
“Not any woman.” Regulus' grey eyes narrowed mockingly. “Don't think I couldn't hear that bitter tone in your voice earlier. You're never going to forgive Bella are you?”
“She made her choice,” the man spat. “Now she has to live with it. If she wants to carry on with that waste of space Lestrange, then she's welcome to it.”
A loud throat clearing cough echoed behind Jugson, making him grin. “I do hope you're referring to my brother and not myself.” Laughter seeped from Rabastan Lestrange as he slipped into a seat at the table. He kicked back, lounging lazily in his chair, a nonchalant smile glued to his lips.
At first glance, one wouldn't think Rabastan to be Rodolphus' brother. In stark contrast to his brother's sheered light hair, Rabastan sported a dark mess of thick locks that looked purposely untidy. His eyes were a light blue; his body well toned. The only real similarity between the siblings was their soft, slightly crooked smile. But where Rabastan had three fold over his brother's appearance, he lacked greatly in power; he could barely hold his own in even practice duels.
Mid-meal, the conversation took its usual anti-Muggle turn. The two men carried on with their insults and jokes; Regulus watched on in silence, sipping his unwanted wine and picking at his less than flavorful meal. The boy laughed when it was required of him and nodded along when eyes met his.
“Regulus, you don't seem in good spirits tonight.” Rabastan patted the boy on the shoulder, giving him a rough shake.
“A lot on my mind, I suppose.” He smiled falsely and gave a shrug.
“Do share.” Rabastan prodded him, his eyes narrowing slightly in a dare to defy.
Regulus gave a forced laugh and shook his head. “Just thinking on all of this, to be honest. I mean, exactly what are we fighting against?” He placed his glass back on the table and leaned back into his chair. “Muggles and such, they're dirty and wrong and....” He waved his hand dismissively and sighed. “I guess I'm just wondering why is all.”
“Why? Why what, Regulus?” Rabastan scoffed, his gaze darting towards Jugson's now-stoic face.
The boy cleared his throat and tilted his head. “Just...why. I mean, why are they dirty and wrong? We hate Muggles right? And Muggle-borns and by extent even Half-bloods. And then we hate our own kind if they don't also hate Muggles and....” He sighed heavily and rubbed his hands over his face. “I guess I just don't understand the why of it.”
“They're a disgrace. An abomination; a plague on our world,” Rabastan answered almost methodically.
Regulus fought off a wry grin; he'd heard that exact line more times than he could count. It was the customary reply for such a question. He nodded slightly before meeting the man's eyes. “But why?” A soft chuckle escaped him at seeing Rabastan's shocked face. “I'm just curious. One could even say that there are more of them, so by logical reasoning we are the...plague, more or less.”
Jugson leaned forward, a tight smile on his lips. “Sounds like someone's had a bit too much wine.”
“He's had one glass,” the other man argued.
“Yes, well he's rather small. And young still.” He slapped his hand on the table, letting out a jovial laugh. “Can't fault the boy for not being able to hold his own.” He stared down Rabastan's defiant expression and got to his feet. “I think it's about we time we got going anyways, isn't it Regulus?”
The boy nodded obediently and stood. He followed Jugson in silence, his eyes locked on the back of the man's head as they walked slowly back to his home. Once inside, Jugson closed the door and turned to Regulus, his lips pursed in thought. He grabbed the boy's shoulder and brought his face so close to Regulus', he could detect every trace of the man's meal.
“Do you know I was in love once? When I was very young; your age.”
“She was a Muggle.” His eyes closed for a moment, his face twisting in a mix of remorse and disgust. “I met her during the summer between my sixth and seventh year. Everything was fine until I went back to school. You see, her father was...a very very bad man. And she used to write to me telling me how much pain she was in, how she wanted to leave and -” he paused to lick his lips and take a long breath “- wanted him to pay for what he did to her. Foolish me, I believed her.”
Jugson laughed cynically and shook his head. “Christmas holiday, I went to her house. Her father was the first man I ever killed. There I was, freeing her from the son of a bitch and she starts screaming. She went completely mental. And that is when I realized that Muggles are ignorant and weak. They don't have magic because they're not strong enough for it. And people like us -” he pushed his finger into Regulus' chest “- it's our job to get rid of the weakness in the world.”
Regulus stared hard into the man's eyes and nodded slowly. He swallowed back his pride and ducked out of the man's grip then headed for the room he'd occupied the previous summer. The boy fell heavily onto his bed, staring around for his trunk, knowing that Jugson's house-elf, Obbedire would have already brought it around. All he wanted was to sleep; he knew that the next day he would pay for his moment of outspokenness.
A Note From the Author: Thank you so much for reading. I know my ANs have been less than talkative lately, but I'm really never sure what to say in them other than thanks for reading. I mean this is chapter 60 and there are still so many readers and I'm still getting reviews, which just makes me really grateful. I'm glad that everyone is reading and enjoying this and even if you aren't the reviewing type, I appreciate that you're still following the story. If you ever have a question though, don't hesitate to ask. I won't give spoilers, but if it's something simple, I can answer or find a way to clear it up. So anyways, let me know what you think of Jugson and Rabastan here? :) --Jenna