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Chapter 7 : A Helping Hand
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A hand, pale and cold lay still beneath the rack used for cooling baked goods, its reflection gruesomely reflected back upon itself in the glossy metal. The lines on the weathered hand seemed to have been carved from marble by a particularly talented artist. That was not true, of course, though the gray coloring and bluish lines would suggest otherwise.
A rat scurried forward to investigate, sniffing and nibbling some on the flesh. The hand made no reaction to this. The small scavenger stepped back to wait to see if this meal, seemingly laid out on a silver platter, was good or not.
Whistling filled the space beneath the rack. The sound of approaching footsteps scared the rat away from its potential meal, though the four-legged friend of the hand may have nibbled a bit too much for its benefit. It did not run far.
"Mary!" Someone called as they enter the kitchen. "Mary, we're having a bit of a problem."
There was no response.
"Mary?" The voice asked. A pair of feet, wrapped in trainers, walked past the metal rack, casting a shadow over the hand. For one grotesque moment, it seemed as though the hand was reaching for the ankles of whoever had invaded its space. "Find me! Look at me!" It pleaded. Feet, of course, have no ears, and hands cannot talk. Especially, dead ones.
The hand remained still, and the feet moved away in the direction of the dining hall where their owners found a meal, prepared not long ago by the hand they did not see.
Victoire stared intently at the seating chart she was designing. A quill was pressed between her delicate lips as she paced the ballroom, calculating how many tables she would need. Rose watched her curiously, laughing to herself about the intricacies of weddings.
"Dammit," she swore, when her distraction caused her to smudge the name she was writing on one of the ivory colored nameplates.
Victoire looked up, alarmed.
"No, don't worry!" Rose assured her,” it’s nothing I can't fix.” She replicated another seating card with her wand and beginning again.
Victoire nodded and went back to her seating chart, crossing out words and filling in others. Sighing audibly, Victoire seemingly gave up the process and plopped down into a chair next to Rose.
"No luck?" Rose asked.
Victoire shook her head. "I'm already tired of it; I just can't wait until its over and I'm Mrs. Lupin and back to my normal life."
Victoire smiled. "Which makes me wonder how things are between you and Scorpius?" She inquired slyly.
Rose looked at her cousin incredulously. "Oh, were too young for that."
"Too young for what exactly?" Victoire said playfully, enjoying spinning her cousin into her web.
"Marriage," Rose replied, knowing that she'd been caught.
"What? It's true. I mean, look at you and Teddy...you guys waited, and it seems to be working out..." Rose trailed off, quite aware that she was blabbering.
"Yeah," Victoire sighed.
"Well that doesn't sound encouraging."
"No, no," Victoire interjected, "there is nothing I want to do more than marry Teddy. I was just thinking that one of the main reasons we waited so long was so that we could afford this." She raised her arms up to indicate the room they were sitting in. Boxes of ivory and periwinkle table linens were stacked everywhere, and Victoire had shown Rose the sketches of how she wanted the room charmed earlier. It was elaborate and expensive, considering how many people were going to come. "And now," she added dejectedly, "If people don't start getting along, this will end in disaster."
"I'm sure it will be beautiful," Rose countered, trying to cheer the bride up.
"I hope so," Victoire smiled radiantly. "Were all supposed to be family after all."
Just then, there was the sound of a door being thrown open. Victoire and Rose looked towards it to see Dominique streaming across the room, her hair damp, and an anxious look on her face.
"Sorry, I'm late," she called. "I, er, overslept."
"That's not surprising," Victoire replied, "considering how much of that firewhiskey you drank by yourself...or almost by yourself." She shot her sister a significant look.
"I know," Dominique replied, speaking in French so that Rose wouldn't understand, "Je sais. You don't have to look at me like that."
"Look at you like what?"
Rose grinned, wondering if Dominique would end up spun in her sister's web like she had minutes before.
Dominique just looked at her older sister as if to say, "really?"
"Anyway," she said aloud, "What are we doing?"
"Well, you," Victoire directed, "are going to finish putting together the favors." She picked several large bags up off the floor and handed them to Dominique.
"There's more!" She exclaimed, looking at the bags as though they had personally offended her.
"Putain." Victoire quipped back, gathering her seating chart once again.
"Je t'aime, ma soeur."
"t'aimer," Victoire laughed, tugging on her sister’s wet hair as she walked away in a manner that made Rose wish that she had a sister.
The three women worked in silence for a few moments before the door was opened again. The noise called all of their attention over to who had entered their workspace. Dominique scowled.
"Dom," Lysander whispered urgently as he approached her," can I speak with you."
"There is nothing to talk about," she sniffed. She cut one of the ribbons she was using to tie up a favor with an excessive amount of violence.
Rose tried her best to ignore their interaction, and bent closely over the name cards she was filling out. Victoire, however, was not nearly as discreet and watched her sister and Lysander with squinted eyes.
"Please," Lysander pleaded, turning his body so that he effectively blocked Dominique from both Rose's and Victoire's view. "I wouldn't ask if it wasn't important."
Something about his stress of the last word and his hidden facial expression sparked a reaction in Dominique as she stared up at him. A mix of emotions crossed her face, and Dominique was glad that only Lysander could see them.
"Fine," she conceded, "but only for a minute." She stood and stalked imperiously from the room, Lysander trailing behind her.
"What is it?" She spat as soon as they were alone in the parlor. The sun shining through the crystal chandelier cast odd rainbows around the room.
"I think there is something going on."
"Not between you and me, there isn't."
"Dom, don't be that way. It's not what I meant anyway."
"What did you mean?"
"I think that something bad or strange is happening."
Dominique raised an eyebrow in surprise.
"I can't find Lorcan," he elaborated.
"So...he probably went hiking. He's probably pissed at you and wanted to be on his own for a while. Why is this a big deal?" Dominique rationalized quickly.
"Don't you think...?"
"Think what?" Dominique's voice was laced with coldness.
"Well, haven't you noticed that people have been...not showing up to things lately?"
It was obvious to Lysander that Dominique was confused, so he pressed on. "Like Lucy or your brother. How come he never came last night?"
"I got an Owl from Louis saying he'd gotten tied up at work and had to postpone coming out. And Lucy is gets reclusive around the family these days. She has been ever since--since..."
"Since what, Dominique?" It was Lysander's turn to sound cold.
"Never mind. You're paranoid, and I'm busy. Just leave me alone." Dominique turned on her heel and started to walk away when Lysander grabbed her arm.
"Dom, don't. I need your help."
"Let go of my arm," she seethed, jerking away from his grasp. She shook her head angrily, and walked out of the room.
Lysander stared dejectedly at the floor.
The sound of hurried footsteps on the stairs startled Dexter. Quickly replacing the contents of the drawers that he was rifling through, he flipped his notebook closed, stuck it and his quill into the back pocket of his trousers. If anyone noticed, they wouldn’t think anything suspicious; he was, after all, The Daily Prophet’s rising star, and journalists were always taking notes. Ted wouldn’t be too happy with him, though, but he was thankfully too busy with wedding preparations to notice Dex behaving anymore suspiciously than he normally did. All evidence of his uninvited entry into the darkened hotel room removed, Dex quietly opened and slipped out of the door. He heard the lock click in place just as Dominique came into view.
“Hey,” she greeted, sounding almost surprised as he was made nervous by her presence. “What are you doing here?”
Dex called up his usual cunning and charm before replying, “I’m a groomsman, remember? And its customary for groomsman to attend the wedding to which they are a part of.”
Dominique narrowed her eyes. “I don’t have time for this bullshit.”
Dexter raised an eyebrow. “Well, I guess I’ll just be getting out of your way, Princess,” he quipped haughtily.
“As much joy as that would bring me, you still haven’t answered my question.”
“Wow…Dom…how much firewhiskey did you drink that last night? I don’t remember you being this dim before—“
“I meant,” she interrupted, stressing her words to be heard over his arrogance, “what are you doing by Lily’s hotel room?”
“Oh,” he said, hardly sparing a glance for the room he had just invaded, “the door was ajar, and I came over and closed it.”
For a moment, Dexter panicked because it didn’t look as though Dominique would believe him. Then her eyes and posture relaxed, and he knew he was off the hook, though Dominique continued to look weighed down by some other thoughts.
The two of them stood there awkwardly for a moment while Dominique was preoccupied and Dexter reformulated his tactics for luring her into bed with him. Dominique Weasley was a real challenge to him, beautiful, temperamental, and quick witted, getting her would be the ultimate victory. It was difficult, but he figured a week on an island together could change her mind. He just didn’t count on Dominique to have some kind of long history with that Lysander character.
“May I ask what you’re doing up here when you’re supposed to be helping the other princess with her wedding?”
Dominique jumped she was so startled by his voice. Something really was on her mind. “I was going to check on my cousin, Lucy; she can be a bit reclusive around the family, and I just wanted to see if she needs anything.”
“I’m sure she is fine,” he offered. Worrying about cousins was not a stop on the road to seducing Dominique.
“Yeah,” she responded moving past him to the door adjacent Lily’s, jokingly adding, “But just in case she’s dead or something.” Dominique knocked.
Before there was a response, however, another set of footsteps called her and Dex’s attention to the other end of the hall. Lysander appeared at the end of the corridor; Dom squinted angrily. Dex felt heartened at the exchange.
Lysander, looking defeated and agitated at once, headed off in another direction.
Dominique remained tense.
“So…what was that about?” Dex inquired.
Dominique sighed and looked as though she was debating telling him something. Then, just when he’d given up hope that she would ever speak seriously with him, she opened her mouth and said, “I can’t believe I’m going to tell you this.”
A/N: Hope you enjoyed it! I apologize for the bad French swearing, and my massacre of the word sister. I couldn't figure out how to make the oe one letter. Anyway, thanks for reading; I hope you enjoyed it.
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