Chapter 3 : Pride
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The horribly long and boring dinner had ended, with the adults acting stupid, and one of the Blacks’ house elves showed me to my room. I didn’t need it, of course. I always stayed in the same place.
“I do hope you’ll enjoy yourself here, Claire,” Mrs. Black said before the house elf whisked me away. “Just treat the house like it’s your very own home.”
“I will, Mrs. Black, and thank you very much,” I replied cheerfully, though very aware that she was threatening me rather than welcoming me. She very well did not want me to treat the Black House like it was my own; she wanted me to watch my toes and keep from crossing any lines.
I wouldn’t. Not with her, at least.
And so the house elf led me up the staircase. The old and dead Blacks nodded at me, sneered at me, curtsied and bowed. For the most part, I ignored them, seeing as they were merely paintings and the worst they could do to me was… well, sneer.
“Your room, Miss Harper,” the house elf said in a small voice and bowed. I thanked him and entered the familiar room. It was the same basic room for guests. I wasn’t interested in anything luxurious or fancy. That room was reserved for my parents. Mrs. Black, that showoff.
I sat on the bed, not feeling very tired at all, and then I remembered the strange reaction Sirius had to Mrs. Black’s stupid joke. He seemed angry, which was strange… because last time I checked, which was granted, two years ago, he always enjoyed them.
Oh, maybe I didn’t get a good enough look.
I sat back on the bed and stared at the ceiling. A week. Seven days. Somehow I knew it would seem a lot longer than it should be, a lot longer than it sounds. And then I’m off to Hogwarts. Great. Wonderful.
“Claire, can we come in?” my mother’s voice came after a knock at the door.
I sat up. “Yes, Mother.”
My mother opened the door and came in, closely followed by my father, who looked happier than usual. Which I suppose was a good thing. Mother sat next to me, while Father stood beside her with his hand on her shoulder.
“We hope you’re enjoying yourself here, Claire, dear,” my mother said with a small smile.
“Are you enjoying yourselves?” I asked, looking from her to him.
They looked at each other, and my father nodded. “Claire, we’ve got news for you,” she said quietly. Father went over and closed the door to the room, confusing me.
I figured I was about to find about her strange interest in Regulus Black this evening. It sticks out to me as the most memorable event of the evening, besides Sirius falling down the stairs, of course.
When I didn’t say anything, she continued. “The Blacks are having a banquet to celebrate a special occasion,” she began. “They have, of course, so kindly invited us to hear their big announcement.”
I blinked. “And do you have any idea what the announcement is?” I asked.
“Oh, no, not in the slightest. But Vera told us that they are very proud,” she replied. Father nodded.
“Well, that’s wonderful, Mum. But…” To be honest, I had no idea why she was telling me this.
“Your mother and I realize the importance of this banquet, and we strongly advise you to be on your best behavior, Claire. We know how hard it is for you to resist a little temptation. And anything you may cause can potentially lose our good graces with the Blacks, which could be devastating. Is that understood?” Father said firmly.
I nodded and smiled. “Completely. Crystal clear, and everything.” He gave me a look, that look, you know. “I understand, Father. You have nothing to worry about.” He didn’t seem convinced, and neither did Mother, but they seemed to accept my answer anyways.
“We hope you’ll be mature about this,” Mother said before kissing me on the forehead and standing to leave. I smiled, and they left together, shutting the door behind them.
I stood up from the bed and began pacing the room. So I could either do something terrible to humiliate Sirius in front of possibly a large group of stuffy purebloods, or I could obey my parents’ wishes and stay out of trouble.
Of course, there were rewards and consequences of both choices. It was a very unpleasant decision. And I bet Father would be severely upset with me, and would probably punish me for quite some time if I were to disobey him.
Ah, how could I resist? The only reason I agreed to come here was to stir up trouble for Sirius in the first place! I’d be going against everything right and holy if I didn’t do what I came to do.
But losing the “good graces” with the Blacks… “Devastating” results… extreme punishment, though he didn’t say it, I know.
Well, I sincerely apologize in advance, Father.
When a pureblood tells you there’s a banquet coming soon, they definitely mean there is a very important and very lavish ball tonight. When told to children, it means if you’re even thinking about messing anything up, you’re already asking for a beating.
My father is a smart man, and he had already realized I was up to something. So he proceeded to force me into wearing a large, uncomfortable dress, hoping it would hinder me in some way.
I ripped off most of the lace and ruffles.
I was walking down the hallway towards the ballroom, my dress a little shoddy, but still a little nice-looking. A pair of handsomely dressed men stood at either sides of the ballroom doors, and they opened the doors for me, since they were getting paid for it and all.
And I’ll even save you the pain of describing the whole scene, because it’s pretty basic. Tons of people dancing, food (lots of that), and incredibly tacky decorations were all I saw.
I spotted my parents, and decided it would be better if Father didn’t see my dress just then. So I made my way through the crowd of people towards the food table, naturally.
I grabbed a plate and stuffed it full with mashed potatoes, vegetables, and chicken, while going through my plan. It had to be perfect; I had to take extreme care.
“Well if it isn’t little Claire Harper!” a voice called out as I sat at a table with my hands full of food.
I grimaced before plastering a smile on my face as Mrs. Malfoy stood next to my chair. She placed her hand on my shoulder, and pressed her bony cheek to mine.
“How are you, darling? I’m quite sure I haven’t seen you in years! Look at you, so grown up!” she exclaimed delightedly.
“I’m doing very well, Mrs. Malfoy, thank you. How are you? And the business?” I replied.
“Oh, you know how that goes, my dear girl!” she laughed. She became a little serious and beckoned me closer. She whispered, “I do think my business is going better than my husband’s! But don’t let anyone else know, of course.”
I nodded knowingly. “Of course, Mrs. Malfoy.”
She beamed. “That’s my girl, Claire! Oh, I must have forgotten! Lucius!”
A tall, pale young man appeared at her side, his face flushed from dancing. He was handsome, sure, but I think I already had my idea about him. He looked exactly like his father.
“This is my son, Lucius. He attends Hogwarts, like you will from now on, am I correct?”
I nodded. “Yes, Mrs. Malfoy.”
“Lucius Malfoy,” he said, bowing. I returned the gesture with a curtsy.
Mrs. Malfoy beamed again. “Lucius will do his best to show you around and help you out, so don’t be afraid to ask for it!”
“I won’t be,” I replied shortly, already tired of her and this Lucius person. “Well, if you’ll excuse me,” I told them, walking quickly away from the table and sadly, my food, too.
Just then, I spotted the unfortunate victim of tonight, typically chatting up a couple of dimwitted girls. I was tempted to do the deed then, but I rather desired a larger audience, so I had to resist. Instead…
“Oh, Sirius, darling!” I yelled out, causing the girls to turn their heads my way. Sirius looked mortified. I strode over to the group and looked at Sirius. He glared at me.
“Yes?” he asked through gritted teeth.
I pouted. “Now is that any way to talk to me?”
The girls looked towards Sirius, puzzled. One rolled her eyes, and they walked off without a backward glance.
He stared after then, mouthing silently; he then rounded on me. “What the bloody hell was that for?” he almost yelled.
I shrugged contentedly. “Couldn’t help myself.”
“You little—” he began, but I had already begun walking away.
I had begun getting seriously hungry by that time, and I was wondering whether my wonderful plate of food had been thrown away or not. Knowing purebloods and their money, it was probably gone because of the large amount of food already here.
Sighing, I sat at an empty table away from the crowd. A loud tinkling of glasses stopped the dancing and music; we all turned our attention towards Mr. and Mrs. Black, who wore proud smiles. I could see Regulus standing behind them, wringing his hands.
“We’d like to thank all of you for your company here tonight,” Mrs. Black began. It was an empty expression of thanks. Purebloods were never allowed to turn down an invitation.
Mr. Black continued, “Of course, we appreciate all the support and… We have a very important and special announcement to make.” He allowed his wife to make it.
“As you all may know, Regulus has already expressed interest in Voldemort and his men—”
I rolled my eyes at the whispers of approval that erupted throughout the crowd.
“Regulus has decided to take the responsibility of terrorizing blood traitors and Mudbloods at Hogwarts, and has taken Claire Harper as his assistant!”
“What?!” I yelled, but the overwhelming applause drowned me out. I stood up quickly, but a rush of icy water fell on top of me, sending goose bumps and chills down my spine, and all I could hear was Sirius Black’s stupid laughter.
[ 10.15.06 -
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