Hope you are fine. I am also quite well. The recurring pest infestation in the house has abated, so you can be content that I’m better than ever.
I spoke to your father yesterday. It was difficult, yes, as he is a very busy man, but somehow I managed to take up twenty minutes of his time. He is well and thinks of you a lot. He wants to see you but you know how his work keeps him busy and away from us.
Anyways, we talked about a lot of things, and naturally, you and your future. Your father and I concur that you are still too young to get embroiled in work and career-related issues, and it would be a good idea if you spend some time traveling and seeing the world. You had informed me sometime back that one of your friends is visiting his mother abroad after school, and while we don’t really approve of the lady, we do agree that it is simply too good an opportunity to miss. You can travel with your friend and see a new country. Who knows, in a couple of years, you might like it so much there that you might decide to settle there! Know this, that if you do, we will support your decision. It would be a good idea to leave right after school so you don’t miss out on the wonderful weather there.
In the meantime, concentrate on your studies and avoid any activities that might result in a Howler being sent to us. Your father wishes your team luck in this Quidditch season. I asked him to advise you to stay away from girls, but he laughed and said he couldn’t ask you to do the impossible. I still say he spoils you.
I’ve heard the vault is in need of repairs, so I am going to oversee that for a few weeks. Don’t worry if you don’t hear from me soon.
Nous sommes tous les deux vous aime beaucoup, mon fils, afin s’il vous plaît prenez soin de vous.
[TR:We both love you very much, my son, so please take care.]
He was arrogant, conceited, selfish and totally evil, Sia decided, and she would be a fool to ever think that he had an honest or sincere bone in his body. Not only was he so not worthy to be called a friend, but his concept of friendship was an insult to friends all over the world, she fumed silently. He never lost a chance to show her up, or insult her, and when she tried to control her temper, he was always ready to mock her efforts. Whenever she tried to do something nice, rare as it was, he would raise an eyebrow so eloquently even she would start questioning her motives. Whenever she tried to dazzle him with her superior knowledge of all things muggle, he would simply check his cuticles and then ask infuriatingly, ‘And that is important to me, how?’ Whenever she started saying something about Harry, he would put on a long-suffering expression and roll his eyes, which always succeeded in getting her temperature up. If she ever mentioned Ginny, he would smirk and look at her knowingly. Merlin forbid if she ever mentioned Terry, for then he would start laughing so hard it would spoil her mood for the rest of the day. And so much for his promise of not looking up her skirt! Because now whenever she sported a particularly mini mini, he would start his leisurely perusal from her eyes and end at her shoes, daring her to complain about that! And as for friends having nothing to do with sex, the less said the better! Once he told her she had great legs, and when she had pointed out that it wasn’t his place to even notice that, he had said, ‘ But that’s just a general observation, nothing to do with sex! I see your legs the same way I would see a boy’s, or a giraffe’s, the same way I would see a flagstaff, or a …’ Needless to say, that compliment had given her a headache and she had spent ten minutes in front of the bathroom mirror later that day to see if her legs resembled that of a giraffe in any way. Whenever they were together, he would always manage to find a girl he shared a ‘history’ with, and would never fail to give her a conspiratorial wink. Pah! In a nutshell, Draco Malfoy was an insufferable prat.
On the upside, though, was the fact that she actually enjoyed matching wits with him. Every encounter with him sent a rush of adrenaline through her; she was always on her toes, never relaxing. No matter what the outcome of their interaction, she could never say that she was bored. He could infuriate her to pieces, push her into a temper tantrum, make her want to claw his eyes out, or alternately, pull at her hair, and he could also send her into paroxysms of laughter or inspire her to new heights of witticism or sarcasm. After a boring, dirty hour digging up hideous plants in Herbology, even his greeting of ‘Ah, Raisingh! You look like a flower…that’s been left in the mud for too long!’ lifted her spirit like nothing else. Her reaction depended on her mood. Once when she was feeling particularly wicked, she had hugged him, and he had run off pledging revenge to take a shower. The sight had lifted the mood of the entire class, particularly Ron’s.
And revenge he had taken. At dinner that evening, she hadn’t been able to eat anything because whatever she had touched had somehow turned into a meat dish, and being a vegetarian, she had had to forego it. She had been amazed at first, till she had noticed him smiling cheekily. By the time everyone had noticed and Hermione had looked out of Ron’s eyes long enough to suggest someone else feed her, dinner had been over. At least she had got some pudding, thanks to Harry, after Dean and Seamus had finished squabbling over who would feed her. It had tasted so much sweeter since Ginny had gone purple over watching Harry gently push his spoon past her lips. But the fact remained that she was still hungry and had suffered Ron wondering how Malfoy had managed a spell that couldn’t be put right by Hermione, not that she had tried, being too busy with the love of her life. She had told everyone she was not hungry in any case and had retired for the night with a grumbling stomach, but then, a little before midnight, Zeus had turned up with a bag of chocolate frogs and wonder of wonders, corn chips and salsa, her favourite snack that was decidedly muggle. Attached was a note that simply said Finite Incantatem. Well, she had to admit, Draco Malfoy had class.
Another thing she liked about him was that even when she got the better of him in their frequent arguments and games of one-upmanship, he always laughed it off with genuine amusement. Her cutting edge sarcasm, even when directed at him, never failed to elicit his rich, sensuous laughter. Just take that day in the library when they both had been supposedly working on their homework, but were actually carrying on a whispered conversation about everything under the sun. Just then Lisa Turpin of Ravenclaw had walked by with a couple of books under her arms, winking at Malfoy saucily as she had passed. He had responded with a lazy smirk, letting his eyes travel over her retreating form indolently. Sia had had to literally bite her tongue to hold back the angry remark that would have been, well, excessive, seeing as they were only friends. But then he had made that tasteless remark.
“Excuse me!” Sia had spluttered.
“Ravenclaw girls, you know!” he had replied coolly, his eyes still fixed on Turpin who had then sat down some distance from them, her legs sticking out of her chair for Malfoy’s perusal. “They put their brains to some really exciting uses.”
Turpin had then looked back at him and flicked her hair in what she naturally assumed was flirting gesture, but which made Sia want to gag, particularly when her companion smiled wickedly at the display.
“As though you give a damn about their brains! If brains had been important in your scheme of things you would never have gone near a Hufflepuff. Looks are all that matter to you boys!” she had retorted waspishly.
He had turned surprised eyes at her, obviously taken aback at her tone, but she had been too miffed to notice.
“Looks are important too, of course. I had meant Ravenclaws are more creative and imaginative when it comes to…er…everything. Surely you know about that, going out with a Ravenclaw?” he had raised his eyebrows suggestively at her and she had felt her face getting hot as she caught his meaning. Damn him! “And why saddle boys with all the blame? Don’t you girls flock to good-looking boys too? Why do you think people like Longbottom and Creevey and me are at the opposite ends of the spectrum?”
“Oh! So you think you are so good-looking!…”
“I know I am, Raisingh! Why, would you have agreed to befriend a Slytherin if he hadn’t been my spitting mirror image?”
That had been enough to push her over the edge.
“What good looks are you talking about, Mr. Conceit? Just look at you…white skin, white hair, eyes that turn silver at the drop of a hat…and a wardrobe that’s full of grays and blacks! I’ve never seen a more monochromatic person in my life! I have befriended you because I pity you.” Sia finished on a near-shriek and everyone turned to look at them.
“Shhh!” Madam Pince had glowered at them, managing to make her whisper sound life threatening.
To his credit, he had taken the slight at his much-prided appearance rather well.
“Ouch, Raisingh! I cant remember when I’ve been more wounded emotionally. This slight will leave an invisible scar on my personality forever and I will be cursed to an insecure and blighted existence to all eternity” he had whispered to her.
Inspite of herself, her mercurial temper had fled at his words and her lips had twitched.
“You already have a blighted personality. It’s a pain to be in your company” she had stated with a little smile.
“You wound me, again. However, I would like to point out that my company is much sought after. And there are solid facts to support that” he had refuted, eyes sparkling with amusement.
“Only by girls looking for a snog. Otherwise you are a pretty boring guy” she had whispered with a composed face.
“Being sought after for a snog is in itself a much sought after talent. And I disagree with you; I am not boring. In fact, I find my own company pretty interesting” he had whispered smugly.
“No wonder you are an evil twat, then. You keep bad company” she had twinkled at him, and he had laughed outright. They had again attracted attention and were shot death glares by Madam Pince who had floated over to stare at them malevolently. They had both quieted and settled down to proceed with their abandoned homework, and after a few minutes, the vulture-like librarian had left. Malfoy had shot her an amused smile and continued with his work, and so had she, her mood considerably improved due to their exchange. Also because he had forgotten about Lisa Turpin and her imaginative ways.
Sia sighed, a reminiscent smile on her face as she thought about that day. Careful, Sia, you don’t want to fall for this guy. No, definitely not, Sia decided, she was really not falling for him. She enjoyed his company, sure, same way she enjoyed Harry’s and HG’s. She was not falling for anyone here, least of all Malfoy. Why, she still didn’t trust him so how could she fall for him, she reasoned with her inner voice. Yes, there was a bit of attraction there, after all he was a very attractive guy, but that’s all there was to it. After all, hadn’t she already decided that she would not get involved with him? Now all she had to do was listen to herself.
Draco sat at his chair, his face in his hands, elbows resting on the table. His normally neat study table was full of haphazardly laid books and strewn parchment. An inkwell had even fallen to the floor when he had swiped a hand at the table to clear space for the letter that now rested between his elbows.
He had been working on his Arithmancy formulae in his room when Artemis, his mother’s owl, had come in with the letter. She was still sitting there, drinking contentedly from Zeus’ bowl who was probably resting in the Owlery. The very fact that the letter had not arrived in the morning with other post had made Draco nervous, and he had opened the letter with fingers that trembled slightly. He had read the letter quickly once, and then a second time, and then had simply buried his face in his hands, absorbing everything.
His mother had gone to see his father. In Azkaban. Salazar’s blood! He knew his mother was slowly falling apart in his father’s absence, but this! He dreaded to think how she had managed to even get the permission, and shuddered when he imagined the proud Narcissa Malfoy pleading before indifferent or even rude Ministry officials to let her see her husband. And what about the Dark Lord? Did he know? Of course he would find out, and then there would be hell to pay. He didn’t understand things like love, the reptilian bastard! Thank Merlin she was going to the villa in Rome for a few weeks, but what about after that! Way to go to get in a mess, mother!
But on the upside, he thought as he picked up the letter again, the ministry had let up on the raids, and mother had met father, and he was alright. Or as alright as one can be in a horrible place like Azkaban. And he was concerned about him and his future. And, he frowned as he re-read the letter, he wanted him to go to America with Blaise. That was most probably his mother’s idea, and she had now got his father’s approval. Touched as he was that his parents wanted him out of harm’s way and most importantly, out of the Dark Lord’s way, he wasn’t going anywhere. He wasn’t about to leave his mother, capable witch as she was, alone to the mercy of the Dark Lord’s crazy minions in his father’s absence. A lot of them used to come around to their manor, and while they had behaved themselves in Lucius’ formidable presence, Draco had sometimes noticed them eyeing his mother lasciviously when Lucius’ attention was elsewhere. And his aunt was no protection at all. If she had ever to choose between her family and the Dark Lord’s orders, he had no doubt what she would choose. And ever since she had got out, she had been jealous of his father’s position. Draco was half-inclined to think she had botched up the mission to retrieve the prophecy purposefully to disgrace his father, but of course that wasn’t possible; one just didn’t do such things to the Dark Lord. No, he wasn’t going anywhere or leaving his mother alone. There was also the distinct possibility that Blaise’s nutty mother might rape him in his sleep, imagining him to be his father. Or slip him a Love Potion. Yes, he knew all about her fixation with Lucius, as did Narcissa, and only a perceived threat to her son’s life could’ve moved her to consider sending him to that woman. And he also had the sinking feeling in the pit of his stomach that if he did leave, he would never see his parents alive again.
Draco sighed heavily and perused the letter again. His parents were prepared to not see him again, ever, if that meant that he was safe. Well, he wasn’t prepared for that; the Malfoys would stick together, come what may. And what was that…a Howler? Draco’s mind immediately went into overdrive, scanning faces of his Housemates quickly to figure out who the spy could be. There were many possibilities, and no concrete proof, after all these were Slytherins. But he decided to heed his mother’s warning and keep his eyes and ears open. Because she wasn’t talking about a Howler from Hogwarts, but rather a visit from deatheaters to inform her how her son was not behaving like he should. His rather open hobnobbing with Gryffindors might have resulted in a visit already. He had his answer ready if he were ever asked; he was trying to get to Potter, which was true, in a way. But if they laid a wand on his mother for this, Draco rather thought he might end up killing someone. Or getting killed for his trouble. The thing with the Dark Lord was, if you were against him, you ended up dead, and if you were with him, you lived in fear of death every day and then ended up dead. Sirius Black had been against him, and he had spent thirteen years of his life in Azkaban, his father had been with him, and he too was in Azkaban. His aunt, whom he would’ve suspected to be the Dark Lord’s mistress if he had been even remotely human, had spent twelve years in Azkaban and had ended up a crazy, unstable woman, while his mother, who didn’t sport the mark and had actually been relieved when he had gone the first time, was now living in the shadow of torture and Merlin forbid, death.
Draco knew he had absolutely no wish to join the deatheaters, nor did he want to sign his death warrant by joining the rag-tag Order. He just wanted to go far away from this madness with his parents. It would kill a part of Lucius and Narcissa, he knew, if they had to leave England, for it was their home, but if the chance came they would do so to remain safe and together. And Draco knew it would kill a part of him to never be the lord of Malfoy manor. He had dreamt of one day walking through the manor like his father, owning every inch of it, and had been dreaming of it since he was five. To never see it again, to never walk the halls with generations of Malfoys gazing down at him from the walls, to never see his family’s long and supposedly untainted history in the family tree, to never walk among the whispering tomes in the library that was the largest personal library in Europe, to never have morning tea with his mother in her favourite Sapphire Room, to never play chess with his father in the Conservatory surrounded by exotic plants and flowers, well, it was heart-breaking, but as much as he knew he would always pine for the manor, he also knew he would do anything to save their lives. Which meant he would have to gain Potter’s trust, and fast.
He could also go to Dumbledore and ask for, er, help, but two things stopped him. No, it wasn’t about Malfoys never asking for help, for Malfoys did just about anything to survive and flourish, but the very actual fear that Dumbledore might not believe him, or might try to settle scores; after all, his father had almost got him sacked once and Draco himself had helped in uncovering the profoundly idiotic Dumbledore’s Army that had resulted in the old man’s flight. If the man had even half the sense, he would leave Draco and his parents to rot. Secondly, he still didn’t know what his father might feel about such an action. If he didn’t agree, he might rejoin the Dark Lord and his mother would follow him no matter what she might feel about it, and Draco would’ve achieved nothing except tearing up his family. No, closeness to Potter was the most logical step to take, but the obnoxious git refused to trust Draco.
Draco gnashed his teeth in frustration when he thought about the suspicion and watchfulness that overcame Potter whenever they came face-to-face. What was he supposed to do to make St. Potter trust him, he fumed silently, risk his neck like his foolish sidekicks for no good reason! And he laughed bitterly when he thought that Potter’s distrust had sprung from his supposed friendship with Raisingh! Hah, Potter, if you want to be distrustful, at least focus your energies on the correct witch. All he wanted from Raisingh was a harmless shag, but it was the trust that Granger had placed in him that should have Potter worried. He could make Granger fall out of love with Weasley and in love with him if he so wished, and so subtly that even the brains of the Golden Trio wouldn’t be able to realize it. He could make her want him so much that she might even fight her friends for him. But of course, he didn’t want any of those things, and what Potter didn’t know couldn’t hurt him. Yet.
Raisingh was nothing more than a distraction, and in his current state of mind, an irritating distraction. He wished he had never made that bet with Blaise. If he hadn’t, he wouldn’t be now wasting his time trying to get her in bed and instead could focus his time and attention on Granger and Potter. But now it was a matter of pride, and he had to spend time with the girl. Okay, so he enjoyed her company and actually looked forward to their banter, but his current predicament didn’t leave much scope for enjoyment. Would it kill the girl to simply give in to the obvious alchemy between them and save both of them some time and trouble, he fumed, banging his fist on the table in frustration and startling Artemis, who hooted indignantly at him.
“Calm down, old girl!” he told her scathingly. “Or better yet, go up to the owlery to have some rest. I’ll have your answer ready by night and Zeus will be happy to see you. Go on.”
The owl looked down her beak at him and flew away, and Draco went back to fuming. There was a time when he had thought that bringing the high and mighty Raisingh to the ground and trampling on her pride would be enjoyable. Well, he still thought so, only now he didn’t have the inclination. He had much more important things to worry about, and the slow pace with which things were going with her was infuriating him. Sure, she now got jealous of every girl he looked at or talked about, but that wasn’t enough. There were lives at stake here and all Scarhead could do was play watchdog protecting the nonexistent virtue of a girl who wasn’t even remotely important in the scheme of things! He just wished it would be over and done with so he could move on. To Potter. Not that he wanted him in that way, and inspite of his mood, the thought of it made him laugh. He had absolutely no doubt that if both of them had a different sexual orientation, they would have been having an affair so torrid it would’ve sent Snape and McGonagall for a toss in space. He needed power that Potter’s fame provided, and Potter needed someone who didn’t worship him and could show him there was much more to this world than bloodthirsty wizards, a magic beyond the one the dull teachers taught here. He looked down at the letter at his father’s remark about him and laughed again. Yes, too bad for Potter he didn’t swing that way.
His mood restored, he picked up the quill and took out a new inkwell. He unscrewed it and picked up a common piece of parchment instead of the one bearing his and the Malfoy family crest, and dipping his quill in ink, started writing.
Ne vous inquiétez pas pour moi. Prenez soin, et heureux séjour. J'aime tous les deux vous.
[TR:Don’t worry about me. Take care and happy stay. I love both of you.]
He left it unsigned and sealed it with an ordinary seal. He had to make sure that if anyone except his mother got the letter, they would glean nothing from it. His mother would be so proud, he smirked.
A/N: So here’s another chapter. I had originally planned something else for this, something lighter, but seeing that the story will change directions after a few, opted for this. The good part is, fun will not disappear, and the bad part is, you guys are getting quite miserly with reviews. I’m miserable, people, seriously. How can I write about fun things if I don’t get that happy feeling that your reviews give me! I have to write about that Quidditch game and the result of Hermione’s bet with Draco now. It would be easier to write with a little help from you guys, starting with that little box below. And I do hope my disastrous attempts at French don’t hurt anyone’s feelings. If its too bad, let me know…maybe I should write more about Harry and Ron, then I wouldn’t need to bother about another language. That’s me trying to be funny. Damn, nobody laughed!
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