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Chapter 10 : Ten.
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Scorpius Malfoy was standing at my door, leaning casually against the doorway. His face was the perfect picture of surprise, his eyebrows disappearing into his blonde hair.
“I doubt it,” he said with a snort of astonishment, and I gaped at him, insulted that he thought that he was my only friend.
“No, really,” I answered, punching slightly on the arm, “I even tidied up the kitchen.” I opened the door further and allowed Scorpius to poke his head in. He nodded as if satisfied before pushing past me and walking straight into the living room. I sighed exasperatedly.
“What are you doing here?”
Scorpius took off his bag, grabbed an apple from the fruit bowl on the table and slumped into a chair, chewing noisily.
“I thought that we could hijack the highly secretive operations of Rose and Noah’s wedding.”
I sat down opposite him and laughed in his face, taking an apple for myself.
“Because you would definitely fit in at a dress fitting. I have always doubted your fine bone structure,” I joked, and Scorpius took another bite of his apple.
“If we kidnap that Esmeralda girl then I’m pretty sure I could take her place.”
“Scorpius! Just because she’s got a slight moustache does not mean she could pass for a boy!”
He shrugged innocently and leaned back in his chair. I smiled at him and a comfortable silence spread around us.
“Do you know who’s going to be best man?” Scorpius muttered casually, but I could tell he was really interested. I stood up to make some tea, completely forgetting that I did indeed have a visitor coming in several minutes.
“He’s not going to have one now. It was going to be Lorcan.” I said quietly.
I had been so busy thinking of other things for so long that my mind had never fully returned to Lorcan and what we had. I had been so preoccupied by everything with Lysander - but all my energies had been concentrated on my hatred for him, and not focused on my grieving or how much I missed Lorcan. Even the whole thing with Noah, Rose and Scorpius had distracted me for a little bit. I supposed that it was a good sign, that it was a sign that I was finally ready to move on, but all I felt was guilt. I still felt the need to think of him constantly and for him to be on my mind all the time. All there was now were these spontaneous bursts of sadness that seemed to engulf me in one second, and then disappear. I didn’t go a day without thinking about him, even if for a moment.
Scorpius stood up too and made his way over to me, pulling me into a hug.
“What’s wrong?” He asked.
“It’s nothing, really,” I said. Scorpius had enough to worry about with his unreciprocated love and having a best friend for a murderer without having to hear me complain. But he still smiled softly at me, and patted me on the shoulder.
“You sure you don’t want me to stay for this mythical appointment that you are so obviously lying about?”
“I am not lying!” I urged, whining like a little girl.
“When was the last time you saw someone who wasn’t in your family?”
He laughed at me, almost choking on his piece of apple.
“I don’t count.”
“Why not? I’m not related to you by blood,” I retorted, saying it slowly as if repeating something to a five year old.
“We still see each other everyday. We’re practically family anyway. We’re ninth cousins or something incestuous like that.”
“Alright,” I said, defeated. I had always underestimated Scorpius Malfoy’s knowledge of his own extensive family tree. Some great-great-great aunt of his had married my great-great-great-grandfather twice removed or something.
I even threw my hands up in the air as a sign of surrender, “you win. I haven’t seen anyone who isn’t ginger in about a million years. Can you please go now?”
I pulled on his arm, leading him towards the front door. He barely had time to pick up his bag as I opened the door for him.
“I’m still up for this undercover-girl-Esmeralda mission if you want. What time does your hot rendezvous finish?”
I laughed again, and pushed him out into the corridor.
“I’ll come and find you,” I said, “I’m guessing you’re going to be skulking around Diagon Alley pining for the love of your life in your depressed, artistic way?”
I saw his cheeks pale, but his smile was still fixed in place, and he placed a hand on my shoulder.
“You know me too well, Dominique Weasley.”
“Perhaps a little too well, Scorpius Hyperion Malfoy.” I smiled as he shuddered at the use of his middle name.
“Well have fun at your abstruse and confidential meeting today,” he said, “I’ll be in Diagon Alley around two o’clock. Perhaps you’ll find me in Madame Malkins.”
“And why is that?”
“I’ll be trying to find an Esmeralda-style dress that suits my physique.”
I pushed him fully into the hallway, and he stumbled backwards and almost fell over as we both burst into a fit of hysterical laughter. It was almost impossible to believe that just a few minutes ago I had been thinking about Lorcan. It was in that moment that I fully appreciated having Scorpius as my friend. He was always there to make me laugh.
I looked to my right to see a smartly dressed man standing in my doorway. While holding out a hand so Scorpius could pull himself up, I continued to stare at the man. He was classically handsome, with high cheekbones, a strong jaw and dark wavy hair. He had a lean, muscular build and wore smart black robes that were obviously expensive. He would have been every woman’s fantasy. The only thing that made this man different was the long thin scar running down his face. It started at his forehead - the beginning even disappeared into his hair - and it sliced his eye in half before continuing past his nose and onto his chin and neck. His eyes were coldest of greys, and even in the eye the scar carved through, the colour still shone coolly out of the skin.
I failed to speak as I continued to look at him. Scorpius nudged me quietly on the shoulder and I dropped out of my trance.
“Yes, that’s me.”
The man smiled. It was surprisingly warm.
“My name is Atticus Debole. I’m here to talk to you about your new job.”
He looked confident. No papers, no briefcase or any sign that he was ashamed of the disfigurement of his face. His voice was clear and convincing and it surprised me because I had been expecting something much rougher - the man had obviously been through a lot.
“Of course,” I said, “go straight in. I’ll be there in a minute.”
Atticus Debole moved smoothly and gracefully into my flat. The hallway was silent.
“Who’s that?” Scorpius said quietly.
“Atticus Debole,” I replied simply. His name was so strange and formal it almost sounded elegant - a remnant of a pure blood era.
“Isn’t he... a bit weird?” Scorpius said, leaning in so he could see Atticus from the hallway.
“Says the man who’s got ‘Hyperion’ as a middle name.”
Scorpius didn’t even laugh, and the mood of the corridor was suddenly strained.
“He’s still strange.”
“Just because he’s got a scar. People didn’t find Uncle Harry weird, did they?”
I took an advantage when Scorpius paused to think about it, and I snuck past him in the corridor and back into my flat.
“See you at two o’clock, Scorpius!” I said quickly, and closed the door in his surprised face.
I turned around to see Atticus Debole sitting neatly at my kitchen table, his hands spread across the wood. They were scared too: tiny white lines criss-crossing across his skin, mingling with the blue of his veins and the soft pink of his perfectly shaped nails. He smiled at me, and it was a kind one. His face softened considerably.
“So, Miss Weasley, you responded to my father’s offer of a job.” Again, it astounded me how calmly and quietly he spoke, the words rolling off his tongue.
I nodded, and the man smiled. The scar bent slightly as his lips twitched. He placed a hand inside his robe and pulled out a parchment envelope.
“Here is your application form if you do go on to the next stage of the acceptation process,” he said as he placed it on the table in front of me, “however I have been told to warn you against the nature of the work.”
“Of course.” I truly had no idea what or who Atticus or Iago Debole worked for. I didn’t know what they did. I was taking a risk allowing this man into my flat.
“As an Auror,” Atticus began, “you must have been trained to a high standard. You must have faced dark wizards on a daily basis. Being an Auror is a dangerous job.”
I felt the urge to laugh. I would hardly call sitting at a desk sorting through thousands and thousands of case files dangerous. Atticus noticed the smile that stretched across my face, and raised his eyebrows questioningly.
“I wouldn’t exactly say my job was dangerous, Mr. Debole,” I explained.
“I’m sure my father wouldn’t have suggested you if he didn’t think you were capable.”
“Capable of what?”
There was a pause as Atticus pulled another piece of parchment out of his robe pocket and handed it to me. This time it was a newspaper cutting rather than a letter. It was a picture of a young man and woman, both with sandy blonde hair and dark brown eyes. The girl was pretty.
“Who are these people?”
“The man on the left is Henry Copperfield. The woman is his sister. The organisation I represent have reason to believe that he is a dark wizard, currently operating in Western Europe.”
I replaced the photograph on the table and breathed heavily through my nose. I knew that Scorpius and Uncle Harry were looking for this man. Atticus Debole knew his name. He and his father must be involved in something far darker than the usual Auror practice.
“He has killed thirteen Muggles to date,” Atticus said, and his voice was colder now and more cutting.
My breathing became sharper and I looked at the photograph again. Any mention of murder or death and the vision of Lorcan surrounded by his own blood flashed before my eyes. All that blood. My eyes flickered to the man’s face. He looked innocent, like a small child, still with his chubby cheeks and slightly piggy eyes. Even in the picture, I didn’t dare underestimate him. I had underestimated Lysander.
“And?” I said quietly, still not quite understanding what Atticus was trying to tell me.
“My organisation has been given the task of hunting down this man. We have proof against him. He won’t have a trial.”
“He’s going to be thrown into Azkaban unfairly?”
Atticus shuffled uncomfortably in his chair, and smiled awkwardly.
“He’s going to be given a Dementor’s kiss without trial?”
The two words hung thickly in the air. Perhaps Scorpius had been right when he had told me that Atticus Debole was a little bit strange. My fingers tapped a rhythm unconsciously on the table.
“You’re going to kill him?”
“I’m afraid so, Miss Weasley.”
“That’s absurd.” The Ministry would never approve of a society that went around killing people. Supposedly Henry Copperfield was a mass-murderer. What if they were wrong? There would be no trial, no chance for him to plead or appeal or defend his innocence. I could see it now, the court scene playing out in my man. Faceless Wizengamot members seated in their raked seats, staring down at the plump little man, his eyes darting to and fro with fright...
“What if you’re wrong?”
“There is no possibility of that, Miss Weasley.”
Of course. The Aurors were always right. They were right about Lysander.
I looked at Atticus again, and I was on the verge of asking him where he got his scars. Had he been chasing after a man like Copperfield? I fingered the newspaper cutting gently, this time looking at the girl beside him. I thought about what she would be feeling when she found out that her brother had been murdered. I thought about what she would be feeling when she found out her brother was a mass-murderer. I supposed she would like I did the moment I discovered that Lysander was a killer. Mostly betrayal.
“Yes. He will be found and he will be killed.”
I expected a professional killer to be more detached, more unemotional. I expected Atticus to sit there with an air of authority and sadism that should have disgusted me. I expected him to act like Lysander had done. Instead, Atticus just looked guilty. I saw his jaw clench and his knuckles turn white as he gripped the table. I was fascinated for the shortest of seconds - he was finally showing some sort of emotion.
But I still felt cold. I thought that I would stand up and order him to leave, finding that killing someone in any way no matter what they did was disgusting and the worst thing to do, but I did not. I sat there and let him continue to talk to me, outlining the details of the mission, and Copperfield’s mindset and previous convictions. I watched his lips move but I did not really listen to them, I kept imagining his face as Lysander’s. I imagined that his voice had a slight tinge of an Irish accent. I imagined that his face was clear of the horrific scar.
Both of them were killers. Both of them I had allowed into my house without any opposition. But strangely, I felt more attached to the man sitting at my table than Lysander, my supposed friend for over a decade.
“And my job would be?”
“You’d be his killer.”
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