Chapter 3 : III: Beneath
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I think you'll be surprised (or unsurprised), to see that there is one more people in the cast list. Don't expect it to get any shorter, people! I have a lot of OCs and characters in this fic, and they've only just begun to surface. You'll have to see through the clues who is important enough to keep your eyes on.
Rebecca Hall as Clara (pronounced cluh-ruh) Erichs
Heath Ledger as Richter Osborne
Jamie Bell as Fletcher Osborne
Louis Garrel as Toren Ellis
Clive Owen as Albus Potter
Daniel Craig as Scorpius Malfoy
Sean Bean as Martin Grasser (pronounced gray-ser)
Julianne Moore as Lily Potter II
Tom Hollander as Carlton Finley
Bill Nighy as Syndic Deitmar Krueger
Javier Bardem as Syndic Lucio Ramierez
Rachel Weisz as Syndic Ilinca Costin
Gabriel Byrne as Syndic Driscoll Morrigan
Guy Pierce as Izak
Standard Disclaimer: Anything you recognize in the story is not mine, but JK Rowling's. This story was inspired by a number of books, movies and other medias, but most specifically, the Dune Chronicles by Frank Herbert. Thank you Mr. Herbert!
Fletch’s body screamed fatigue and pain. How in the name of Hell did Goram still have the strength to stay up and keep watch? The man was a workhorse, but a workhorse they were lucky to have. After all, you could never be too careful, even if Toren had sent them to an old Death Eater safe house.
Malfoy Manor was not the grand palace it used to be, that was for sure. The fact that the northern conservatory looked like the old Forbidden Forest spoke multitudes on the lack of upkeep this house had received over the years. The plants crawled wild on the floor beneath them, now creeping across the walls. The glass had long been boarded up, leaving the room dark and musty. Not even moonlight could shine through the tight crevices. But it would have to do for now. They would have to wait before regrouping.
“How is he?” Goram turned back and asked him.
“Same.” He just shook his head and kept his eyes away from Goram. Fletch sat crouched beside an ailing Richter in the far corner of the room. Fletch's brother had taken more spells than any of them, the last one nearly killing him. Back in the old days, you would have wondered how a simple stunning spell could do so much damage. But with Cryllians shooting them, Fletch was not in the least bit surprised. He’d done what he could, cast a few quick fixes and managed to get the internal bleeding to stop. He’d used up the last of their Gripner’s potions and that seemed to better things along, but Richter’s fever had not yet broken, and he was still unconscious. It had been three days. They’d considered going out of the Manor to find a Healer, perhaps even take Richter to St. Mungo’s. But they were not that desperate. Not yet.
He ran his hands down his face and gruffly cleared his throat, calling Goram’s attention. “Mate, safe enough to light a fire, don’t you think?” asked Fletch as he stood up and dusted off the grime from his clothes. “Curtains are thick enough. Doubt any light will can pass through them. I’m sure we’ll be fine. Besides, Richter could use the heat.”
Goram stepped away from the windows and drew the heavy curtains. “Alright. I’ll be outside.”
“Adding more wards.” Goram picked up his satchel and slung it on his shoulder.
Before he could head for the door, Fletch blocked the doorway. “Are you mad? This is Malfoy Manor, mate. Probably the safest haven in England, next to Grimmauld Place. Trust me, there are enough wards. Stay in here and keep watch on Richter.”
Goram pushed Fletch away and slammed him on the adjacent wall, sinking the tip of his wand on the Fletch’s neck. “I’m not taking any more chances, Fletch! Haven’t we taken enough risks in the past couple of days? We could have all been killed! Or worse, captured!” he roared. “Now go find something we can burn. Preferably some priceless heirlooms. Malfoy won’t miss it.”
Fletch wanted to take him up on the fight he was offering, but bit his tongue instead. Richter didn’t need to wake up to two friends tearing each other apart. He pushed Goram off and walked away. Let him do what he fucking wanted. God knew they both needed to blow off some steam. Fletch held his frustration in a fist and punched a wall.
Scorpius had never truly liked Martin Grasser. He’d been a school acquaintance, a work relation and a political ally, but never a friend. He’d been useful throughout the years that they’d known each other, and had been on well enough terms when thrown into a conversation, but Scorpius could never bring himself to call Grasser a friend.
He was sure the feeling was mutual.
Which was why he found it quite odd for Grasser to suddenly invite him to his office for a small chat before the Synod assembly. “To catch up,” he’d said, “and some friendly advice.”
It was not the use of the term friend so lightly tossed into the invitation that bothered Scorpius, but the timing of it all. Martin Grasser was never one to invite for anything. If anything, Grasser was an elitist who suffered nothing but being the one invited.
What was more, the third Chancellor was not one to do things without motive. Grasser always had a motive about him. It was just at this instance that Scorpius could find no advantage to their little tête-à-tête, at least for Grasser’s part.
Curiosity was what drove Scorpius to walk three floors up the Synod to meet Grasser that morning. Curiosity fueled his every step.
As he found himself in front of the dark mahogany door, he paused for a moment and lightly laughed to himself. ‘This is bound to be interesting,’ he thought as he opened the door without knocking. He was surprised to see Grasser already seated in his large leather armchair, ready to greet Scorpius with tea and conversation.
“Right on time. Ever punctual, aren’t you?” Grasser gestured to the chair facing his. “I hope you don’t mind. I know you’re only here for a while, but I took the liberty of having some refreshment sent over.”
“How thoughtful of you.” Scorpius didn’t ponder on his warm and oddly personal greeting and took the seat as it was offered. He made himself comfortable, crossing his legs and settling into his seat. It was a matter of hiding his amazement and curiosity. And, being a master of politics, he just hoped Grasser did not notice his charade.
“Milk? Sugar?” Grasser offered as he made himself a cup, “I, myself, like it Irish.” He laughed as he poured a few splashes of bourbon into his own cup.
“I’ll pass on the tea, but I would love a taste of those macaroons.”
“Be my guest.”
The prudent thing would have been to dance like this for at least an hour more, making small talk and indulging in the assortment of prepared treats, but as Scorpius was running on a schedule, the luxury of time was not at his liberty to dispense with. He wanted to get to the point. After two macaroons, he set his plate down on the side table, indicating that he wanted to get into business.
Grasser mirrored his actions, setting his own tea down as well. He sat back on his chair and looked Scorpius in the eye. The man was a politician of the highest class and knew how to read people. He looked so casual while doing it as well. But all he would get from Scorpius was that he wanted this over with.
“How long has it been since you last presided over the Synod, Malfoy?”
“As long as you have, I suppose.” Scorpius subtly smirked.
“If that’s the case, then, it has been a long time indeed. Politics have changed since then. Nasty business, it is.”
“I’m a Malfoy, Grasser. I would know better than anyone.”
“A Malfoy, you are indeed. Your father, far from. ”
A low blow. Even for Grasser. His father was always a touchy subject. Even Albus knew to stray from that topic entirely, but Scorpius took it to the chin. He smiled, a partisan’s smile. “I may not be as great a statesman as my father was, but I did learn what I could. And as much as I’d love to explore this, I know for a fact that you didn’t invite me here for tea and sharing credentials. Tight schedule. You understand?” He took another macaroon.
Grasser shifted his position and rested his head on a propped elbow. Re-evaluating his strategy no doubt. It didn’t take long before a smirk graced his face, and the simmering verbal combat continued.
“I read something the other day that I think you’d be interested in.” He began, seemingly off the topic. Hardly plausible, of course. “At the dawn of time, when man first found his bearing and began living in communities, they discovered fire. The mightiest thing at their arsenal at the time.
“See, fire was a majestic thing. It exuded power. It was a powerful ally, providing protection and warmth, among other things. But you see, it was also the most wrathful of enemies, as when angered, it would consume everything in its path. A force in the truest sense of the word. Loved and feared, it was the first true god on this earth.”
“I had no idea you’d taken an interest in mythology.” Scorpius almost yawned. He was fast growing tired of this. There were better places to be. At first, it seemed amusing, now it simply seemed pointless. Perhaps this was a scheme of Grasser’s to making him late for the assembly, lessening his credibility in the Synod. But Grasser was too smart for that, for any weakness on Scorpius would be viewed as a weakness on the part of the Chancery. But Grasser had been correct. Scorpius was not his father, a master of diplomacy. He hadn’t the stamina for it.
“Fire was the greatest deity of its time. Do you know why?”
“If I had, I would have left when this story began.”
Grasser ignored the remark and smiled, taking a sip of his tea. He seemed amused with Scorpius’s agitated state. “Because divided, it was stronger.”
“I’m afraid you lost me,” Scorpius said, nonchalantly.
“Water, when cut in half, became less of what it was. It was the same with air and with earth, but with fire! It was a miracle that no one had seen. If you divided fire, gave light to another torch, even three hundred more torches from the same primal ember, it would still be as strong as ever. Stronger, now that you had more enemy to battle. Divided, fire was the more powerful enemy. The stronger adversary. The greater threat.”
“What is the point in all of this? Though vaguely intriguing, I fail to see the importance of this piece of trivia. Come to speak of it, I fail to see the necessity in this whole conversation.”
“Not trivia,” Grasser stood up. “Rather, a cautionary tale. The turmoil in the Synod, the entire opposition to Lily’s authority, the squabbling among the Syndics ... all of these were put into place for a reason, Malfoy. We are fire, and divided, we are stronger. I’ve heard from Lily that you seek to put an end to that by your continued presence in the Synod from now on…”
“They need to remember who is in charge of this government.”
“As far as they are concerned, they’re the ones in charge. If ever they were to learn otherwise, the Unification Treaty would fall into shambles, and the Chancery with it. If they learn how they’re being manipulated, they’d pull out of the Synod and we’d be left helpless. We need their money. We need their manpower. We need their support. The only way we can get that is by keeping them occupied with petty disputes!”
“I am tired of your games!”
“Our games. You are part of this Chancery.” Grasser kept calm, moving to his desk. “As long as that Synod keeps occupied, we remain safe. We may have the Cryllians, but they have their own armies. Combined, we would be crushed. As long as they view each other as the threats, and not us, then we live to see our visions come to being.”
“We have nothing to worry about. Consolidated, the Synod would prove to be an advantage to us!”
“You are definitely not Draco Malfoy.” Grasser sighed softly, but vehemently enough for Scorpius to hear. He took a seat behind his desk and picked up his pen. “On the battlefield, you may be the greatest General in centuries, but in the Synod, you are no more skilled than a child in a Chancellor’s robes. Courage and honor mean nothing in politics, Malfoy. It’s time you learned that.”
“We’ll see what Albus has to say about this.” Scorpius abruptly stood up, almost toppling down the chair.
“It is as a favor to Albus that I tell you this.”
Scorpius clenched his fists and slowly turned about, facing Grasser, eye to eye. His face, incredulous.
“He rescheduled the assembly ten minutes earlier. Lily is already down their offering your apologies.”
Scorpius had grown up a Malfoy. Deception and furtive motives were in his blood. He knew how to take it well. If being a general had taught him anything, it was that you should know when to admit defeat. Politics had won over, yet again.
Scorpius turned his back on Grasser and showed himself out.
Clara woke up cursing underneath her breath. Her head felt as if it had been cleft open by an axe. Probably from the fall. She slowly tried to gain her bearings as she opened up her eyes and propped herself up on her arms. The room was spinning, and Clara quickly fell back down to the bed again.
She opened her eyes again, seeing that she was in a dimly lit room, with only a torch on the far side for light, with a slit of streaming light close by it. It wasn't elegant, by far. Maybe a storeroom she had been placed in to rest.
"Toren?" Clara called out, scanning her surroundings, but couldn't find anyone inside with her. Toren wasn't there, but she could vaguely hear his voice. "Toren, where the hell are you?"
She slid her feet off the bed and planted them firmly on the floor. Waiting a moment, she tried to make sure that she had her balance before standing up and walking towards the torchlight. Slowly, she managed to get there. The lamp was near a slightly opened door. Toren's voice grew louder, more audible as she walked closer. Now she could hear another voice in the mix. Raised and heated. They are arguing.
She peeped through the door.
"We had an agreement!" Toren pounded on the table, as he stood up and leaned closer to the seated man across from him. Clara had rarely seen Toren lose his temper so badly. In fact, she had never seen him lose his temper at all. She drew closer to the door, almost leaning her whole body on it as she looked through the small slit, if only to see what was going on.
The man shook his head an poured more drink into his glass. He help up his hand and begged Toren to calm himself down, but he would not persuaded. Toren knocked his chair down in a rage, but the man seemed unaffected. Though the two guards flanking him tensed in alert, he called them down. He remained unshaken. "We said one fugitive, not two. One, yes. Two, we can not accept."
"But I've already paid you!"
"You have, yes, but not for both. We keep you both, you both pay."
"That was not the agreement, Izak!"
"I say it is, Toren. We keep you both, you both pay! Vég - ból - vita!"
"Then go to hell, you bastard!"
"Been there already, Szövetkezik.. It's no good, so I come here." Izak laughed. He stood from his chair, and walked to the now seething Toren. Izak clasped his hand on the other's shoulder and faced him, eye to eye. "So what do you say, ah? Five more?"
Toren grudgingly rolled up his left sleeve and rammed his forearm towards Izak's chest.
He shook his head and cursed violently. "This is not how we do business! NO! She pay for her own keep. Yours, nem jó. No good."
"She can't very well pay you in her condition, can she? Either take mine, or not be paid at all! " Toren once again offered his arm to the man.
Izak hesitated, grabbing Toren's arm and eying it carefully. "You are lucky, Toren. I feel in good mood today. We keep you both for five pints more," he spat, and tossed Toren to his guards, ordering them to restrain him. "Nem enged neki kívül - a látnivaló! Ert!" They took hold of Toren by the arms and dragged him away as he willingly followed their lead.
This didn't make sense. It didn't make sense at all. Clara wanted to run out there and get them both out of this place. She tried, but her strength could not even bring her to push open the heavy wooden doors. She slid down, leaning on the rough wood and took deep breaths. It was good that she was weak right now. Her weakness was protecting her from her own stupidity. She couldn't just barge in their and expect to fight her way through. Besides, she trusted Toren. He was reckless, but not an idiot. Toren should know what he was doing. He should know what he was doing.
After all, these were vampires he was dealing with.
Author's Note, revisited: The unfamiliar phrases you see in the fic are all in Hungarian. Please refer to this translation list for their English Meanings. If there is any wrong grammar, or wrong wording on my part, I blame the online translator. Haha!
"Nem jó!" - "No good!"
"Nem enged neki kívül -a látnivaló! Ert!" - "Don't let him out of your sight! Understand?"
"Vég -ból vita!" - "End of discussion!"
"Szövetkezik." - ally
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