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Chapter 2 : Descending Hogsmeade Snow
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Apparently my eyes are noticeably distracted from my table, as I get a nudge from Lucius Malfoy sitting beside me, on my right.
“Regulus, eat you’re food. It’s getting cold. You don’t want to wait until dinner to eat again, do you?”
I blink away from where Annabelle is sitting and turn to give Lucius a hesitant, but strong look. He’s right, my lunch is getting cold. “No, Lucius. I don’t,” I say politely. Narcissa, who is seated on the other side of Lucius, leans over to face me.
“How was your day?” she asks me, with a small smile on her lips. Narcissa is always the one to break the silence at the Slytherin table, and it’s a quality that I find endearing.
Although, the silence that hovers over our table once and a while does not really bother me. In fact, I sometimes welcome it. I don’t mind if she starts small talk to prevent empty conversations from becoming awkward, it’s understandable, but it would be a relief if she could resist from trying to include me. I don’t find the need to engage in conversations, it’s not as if there aren’t enough opportunities to talk outside of the Great Hall; if I want to speak or reply, then I’ll do so politely. But other than responding with respect, I rarely speak willingly until I’m finished eating. Some say it’s because I’m an honorable Black with good manners, or because of my poise which attributes to my being a gentleman. Call it what you will, I honestly couldn’t care less. It’s not something I learned from the Slytherin role models seated near me. I just don’t like speaking during meals.
Which is quite ironic, because at the moment I haven’t eaten a thing off my plate.
“My day so far has been…standard. We’re working on the study of Veritaserum in Potions,” I respond. I think about how I had bumped into Annabelle. And then I let the thought leave my mind immediately.
“Oh, well it isn’t as boring as it sounds. I remember working on it in my Fifth Year. Lucius was my partner,” she casts a quick glance at her boyfriend, “and it was pretty easy to concoct. The ingredients aren’t too difficult.” She rubs his arm affectionately before dropping her head on his shoulder. Lucius kisses her forehead. I’d say they were a match made in heaven, but that wouldn’t seem suitable. I always sensed that they loved each other more than they let people to believe. Not a lot of people have the patience it takes to look at them together from an angle and see the way they look at each other. Lucius is seen as intimidating to most girls, but Narcissa’s always seen him differently. Ever since I could remember, Narcissa always had the ability to make him soften up. And Lucius never softened up, which was why they were so compatible. But don’t be fooled, Narcissa can be as cunning and cruel as Lucius. When Narcissa is angry, her eyes can light up in a smolder of fire. It must run in the Black family. Except Bellatrix likes to act like that more than Narcissa, which isn’t surprising.
Someone as tough as Lucius needed someone as elegant as he, as graceful as he, as strong as he, with the same pureness of blood as he. Narcissa was always popular, always stealing the hearts of guys from numerous upbringings. But she was never fazed, and still isn’t. Lucius and Narcissa only have eyes for each other. That, which I failed to notice when I was younger, is a surprisingly nice quality to share. Since all hope will be lost when they graduate and become death eaters, they at least have something good to look forward to with each other. But even when that time comes, I wonder… will there be anything left for them alone? What will be salvageable and what will be lost?
“Besides that,” I say, “nothing’s really new in any of my classes. But Charms and Arithmancy are becoming a bit more difficult, I think.” I try to not drone or sound bored, and I seem to be doing a good job.
“It won’t be too hard this year, Regulus, I promise. Just wait until NEWTs,” she finishes.
Its simple conversations like these that make me question how someone as genuinely sweet, and popular, as Narcissa could have their life planned out to serve something that was nothing but cold and heartless. Not that I have a say in the matter, we are all following the same path. We all have our secret pretenses for becoming death eaters.
Took me years to get my mind around it, but the truth comes down to this – us Slytherins all just hate to disappoint in the most darkest of ways. We challenge ourselves to the point where it becomes unhealthy. But the determination can’t be tossed aside. You can’t toss things that have been passed down from generation to generation. It’s like turning around and spitting into the faces of those that fed you.
There’s an odd gloom casting over the ceiling of the Great Hall. With a bite of my broccoli, I look up to the dim-stricken sky hovering above me while I chew. Sometimes I think this sky reflects what I’m thinking. I know, it’s a ridiculous thought, but that’s all it is: an innocent and completely ridiculous thought. I’ve taught myself to let go of those kinds of thoughts quickly. Almost as fast as to not repeat them out loud; being the object of ridicule for my ‘immature thoughts’ was something that happened a lot when I was younger. Now, I’ve learned to not share everything with those whom I eat with everyday. The four around me now would laugh and pity me on how I think; how I see things as if everything is as it seems, like how a child would see things, but with a wondrous kind of feel. I’d be the subject of a cruel joke to Rodolphus Lestrange if I even whispered a word about anything of the sort (who happens to be sitting in front of me, next to Bellatrix).
Rodolphus looks behind him hastily, while he adds a bit of what looks like rum into his pumpkin juice. Meanwhile, Bellatrix stares at him in both adoration and annoyance.
They are a strange couple, Bellatrix and Rodolphus, to say the least. Not compatible in the slightest, but too much like each other. It was indefinite for me, to tell whether they first got together because of their parents’ plans for them and their marriage… or if they truly adored each other but didn’t display it like Lucius and Narcissa did. A little voice in my head told me that it was a combination of both. I must say – Rodolphus and Bellatrix’s relationship seems more messed up than put together, though no one speaks of it.
Lunch becomes a blur. Finishing my meal, I talk to Rodolphus about Christmas plans and Lucius about going to Hogsmeade tonight. I’m not sure if I paid attention during all of it, but I made sure my face showed it.
It was almost like second nature to me, acting interested.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like they’re boring people to be around. Quite the contrary, really. I’m sure many people would love to be a fly on the wall while the elite group of Slytherin conversed. But the thing is – I can’t tell if what they’re saying is what they mean anymore. When I was younger I looked up to them, wanted to be like them. But there came a time when I couldn’t decide if it was really them speaking, as individuals, rather than programmed robots. And it almost made me mad that I thought about them like this. Bellatrix, Rodolphus, Lucius, and Narcissa took me in as their own. I was the miniature version of them. I was not yet tarnished with information about my future like I was now. They deserved so much better placement in my thoughts, but I couldn’t help it sometimes. And I always felt guilty. Which added to me being even more responsive and respectable… and more tolerable of everything that surrounded them. I sneak a glance back to where Annabelle is sitting, but disappointment washes over me when I find she isn’t there.
There’s something about her that I find intriguing, but I just can’t put a finger on it.
As the Great Hall clears out, I’m stuck firmly to my seat with no will of getting up. While students are picking up their books and adjusting their bags around their shoulders, I rest my elbows on the table and prop my hands up near my mouth. My thumb grazes my bottom lip while I think. And then I stop.
I stop and get up, angry that I’m letting myself think about things ahead. Angry that I’m thinking things through like I have a choice in anything anymore. Angry that I think I have the right to a different future.
Down the Great Hall near the doors, my cousin Bellatrix looks over her shoulder and eyes me with curiosity, before turning around to leave with Narcissa.
Angry that when the time comes to graduate, I’ll be just like them.
The streets of Hogsmeade are filled with happy people. Snow hasn’t arrived yet but I’m sure everyone walking outside feels like it has. I see random people, smiling faces, looking at me, and I look away from all of them.
The day so far had felt like a blur until now, and as soon as I stepped outside with Lucius, the cold wind nipped at my nose and woke me up from a kind of mental slumber.
I fasten the first two buttons securely on my pea coat and shove my hands into my pockets, while trying to keep up with Lucius. It is just him and I this evening. Rodolphus left early with one of his cronies to take care of business in Nocturne Alley. Something illegal I suppose. He always does this during Hogsmeade – it’s the only time of the year where people are allowed outside of Hogwarts, and his friends can cover for him. How he manages to get there and back here in time without getting caught, is just beyond me. Bellatrix and Narcissa are off on the other side of the village doing some shopping, having their own little girls’ night.
“You seem a bit bitter,” Lucius tells me. “Something wrong?”
“Nothing at all. Just a bit bored.”
Lucius opens the door to the expensive jewelry store. “I know this wasn’t what you had in mind… following me around on a Hogsmeade visit. But you know that I trust you more than Rodolphus.”
I’m not sure if its the nicest thing he’s ever said to me, or the nastiest.
“Don’t be ridiculous, Lucius. I’m a bland individual, I find everything boring,” I tell myself, even though I’m speaking to him. He gives me a little smile, agreeing with me, as he continues to browse the shelves of the jewelry store.
Why does he trust me more than his supposed best mate? Do I seem more obedient? Or do I just have fewer skeletons in my closet than Rodolphus does?
He likes it when I follow him around like this. Lucius Malfoy has no brothers or sisters, so I can understand the sibling fill-in that I provide for him. He likes people to look up to him; whether they see him with fearful or respectful eyes, it doesn’t matter.
The jewelry store’s cashier eyes us warily, probably wondering why suspicious Slytherins are wandering around in his store. Lucius picks up a box from one of the shelves and turns to me. He brushes back a lock of his long blonde hair and gives me the box from his hands.
“How about this?” he asks.
I open the box and find a pair of charcoal earrings staring back at me.
“Their crystal,” Lucius mentions.
I nod in admiration, and ask him, “Does she like earrings?”
“I have no idea.”
Lucius was always spending money for Narcissa, getting her extravagant gifts. I remember one Christmas, I think in my Fourth Year, where he had gone to one of the couture houses with Rodolphus in London. He had bought her a seamless dress robe that, no doubt, had cost somewhere in the thousands.
But that’s what they do, the children of the death eaters. They prepare for their arranged marriages. They neither accept nor deny who they marry. It is what their parents say it is; absolutely no room for whining.
I know I’m next. Before Sixth Year rolls around, mother will find someone. Probably from Beauxbatons, because no other school nearby (including Hogwarts) has any other single pureblood dark-magic induced Slytherin girl...There are so many things wrong with that sentence.
You could say that it was the reason I didn't date, knowing I'd have to marry whomever my mother chose. It's not the only reason - but it's the only plausible one at the moment.
“May I assist you young men?” The cashier asks us.
“Yes, actually, I was looking for something black. The person I’m shopping for likes dark colors. They contrast with her skin,” Lucius tells him.
Just like light contrasts with darkness.
“We have just the thing. It fact, it arrived yesterday.” The man leads us over to the glass counter, pointing to a necklace in the display.
My eyes grow a bit wide as I look at the huge pendant that dangles from the leather cord. And the price doesn’t help. It’s so expensive that the price tag is in Euros. It’s an international piece of jewelry.
“It’s a bit costly, but it’s the most original dark piece of jewelry in this store,” he tells us.
The pendant is a thick, dark heart. It has uneven dents on the surface, and when the light hits it, it replicates the different shades of green hidden in the cracks. The heart has diamond and crystal shards, all broken off into pieces, floating inside of it. It is Lucite and you can see everything inside, like the diamonds and crystals between the cracks are suspended in green air.
“Money isn’t an issue,” Lucius says smoothly.
I raise my eyebrow uneasily.
“Maybe something else might be nice. Something more…suitable for Christmas,” I bargain.
He silences me and asks the man to take the necklace out of the case to get a better look.
“It seems completely appropriate, Regulus. It has her name written all over it,” he says, annoyed.
“The design is too cold. Why not get her something more suitable for an anniversary?”
Something about this necklace is making me queasy. Does Lucius really have to buy the most expensive thing in the store? As I look again at the necklace that Lucius is now inspecting in his hands, I notice how appropriate and fitting it really is. This makes me even more worried than before. This necklace is gargantuan, for crying out loud. He’s really pushing his dignity with this one.
“I don’t understand the big deal,” he snaps. I fall back and put my hands back in my pocket. Lucius Malfoy’s want and desire for all things dark with be the death of him.
I blink, and look out the window before I can even catch on.
…Did I really just think that?
I mentally scold myself and come back to reality, my eyes setting on the necklace which is now being wrapped. I don’t know why this necklace bothers me so much. I shouldn’t be repulsed by this beautiful piece of jewelry, but it makes everything else seem like a reality. Like it’s really happening.
I just can’t explain it.
When Lucius is done purchasing the necklace, he hastily pushes the door open, and I quickly follow him outside.
After a quiet minute, Lucius speaks to me again.
“There’s a reason I wanted to get you alone tonight, Regulus.” I stop pacing and run into his halting back. He pulls me inside the doors of a pub, which we just happened to walk past by accident.
As we walk in, I look around the room. Rodolphus is surprisingly early from his trip and is seated in the back, with his gargoyle-like friends. The boy has interesting mates, I'll give you that.
Markus Dinton is sitting on his left. Lucius once said he wasn't that large, but in my opinion he was just large enough to keep a piece of falling furniture from landing on Rodolphus. And I'm saying that lightly.
Then on his right, there’s John Blout. He’s a Sixth Year whose parents are supposedly really close with…the Dark Lord. If he wasn’t closely knit to Him, John wouldn’t have had a chance to hang around Rodolphus. The two boys surrounding him now are like his bodyguards. Compared to his other cronies, John and Markus are the most muscular. The rest of the long table is filled with other members of Slytherin. Each seat is occupied with some important member of his gang. There are eight full blokes sitting at the one cramped oval table.
Lucius nods to Rodolphus and sits near a table in the corner, closest to the windows. I take the seat across from him, after glancing over at the other testosterone filled table. I hate it when they travel in packs. They cause people to feel disturbed, with their mumbling words and beady eyes. Rodolphpus gives me a sly smile and I don't know what to think of it.
Lucius gives me a stern look, resting his hands on the table. They’re folded. When Lucius Malfoy’s hands are folded, he means business. But what kind of business, I’m sure I’ll find out about soon.
“You’ve been with us for a long time,” he says to me, referring to the four of them. Or the five of us.
The popular Slytherin bunch. The dark elite. The lifeless robots-
“We’ve trained you with enough knowledge about how things are run, and we all think it’s time for you to realize where your loyalties lie... forever.”
My eyebrows furrow.
My life is already bargained for, I want to say. This isn’t an option.
Why is he speaking to me like this?
“We serve Him. He is quickly rising in power, and we need to know who to count on. Rodolphus does work for Him, Narcissa and Bellatrix plan things for Him, and I – I speak to Him. I report back, telling Him of our progress.” Lucius Malfoy says this slowly to me, but it takes my brain ages to fully understand what I've just heard.
No! My brain screams. And I don't know why. Because this shouldn't be news to me.
My face turns into stone and I look Lucius straight in the eyes. He seems to be very smug by the fact that he’s talked to the Dark Lord.
“What?” I whisper. It’s going to take me a while to get this through my head: Lucius has spoken to Him. I shake my head repeatedly and say, “Lucius, what are you saying?”
“It’s time for you to join us on one of our missions, Regulus. We have to get you prepared for your future deeds. The right time to begin training you is now.”
Before I can mumble a word, Lucius continues. “The Century Ball is coming up, and we’ll all be attending.”
I’m confused by the random information. “What does that have to do with-?”
“It will start at the Century Ball, boy. We’ll all do our part… but we need you for this one. The person we’re following, and the one we will hopefully turn in to the Dark Lord, will need to be watched until then. I can’t tell you much now, but you need to follow him.”
“You… you guys want me to spy on a student,” I spit out in mumbles. The Century Ball was celebrated every hundred years at Hogwarts, and this year, everyone from First Year and up is invited. It’s apparently the biggest dance every hundred years, and the school goes all out. They made the ball years ago to help celebrate ‘centuries of unity’.
“You need to watch this guy before the Century Ball. When the time comes, we’ll take care of him. But we need you for this one mission, Regulus. We really do. He’s onto us.” He almost looks sincere.
My throat gets dry. I’ve never done this before.
I can’t think and I can’t speak.
“His father works for the Ministry, and he’s tipped his son to keep an eye on us. He needs to be taken care of. Him and his father… his whole family,” Lucius says in spite.
I swallow a dry lump I didn’t know I had in my throat. Do I know him?
That's all I can think about.
Who the poor bastard is and if I know them.
“Keep tabs on the boy. He’s in Hufflepuff, Seventh Year; Aiden Winthrop. Brown hair, blue eyes, on the tall side. Tell us what he does. We can’t spy on the kid because that’s what he’s trying to do to us. Winthrop doesn’t know you. He wouldn’t suspect it, so it’s perfect. I’ll tell more later, but for now… let’s have something to eat.” He lifts his hands up and motions over one of the servers and the lady orders our drinks.
My first mission. I never thought I’d have to do something like this. Everything…my future…it was all set in stone. Now I have to prove it? My mouth has gone stale. I look out the window and try to focus on the snowflakes falling outside. The tiny pieces of snow, all individually cut, all ready for landing, are just slowly making their way to the ground. Down, down, down, they go.
Author's Note: Alright, so this chapter is a bit longer. I hope it wasn't too dull or annoying to read, I just need practice in getting some feelings and emotions to come out right. So please review! Let me know how I'm doing, and what you are foreshadowing!
Sorry about the lack of Annabelle in this chapter. But there will be more of her, promise ;P
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