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Messes of Men by Roonyskatoony
Chapter 32 : Venice
 
Rating: MatureChapter Reviews: 15


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 “Acht, what the hell d’ ya think yur doing wumman!” Sirius cried in a horrible attempt at a Scottish accent.

 

Freaky turned and sent him a withering glare.

 

Much to Sirius and James’ delight they’d recently discovered that Freaky’s last name just happened to be ‘Wumman’. Yes, Freaky Wumman...well I couldn’t be sure her name actually was Freaky but she’d never protested this name.

 

I couldn’t help but snort, shaking my head as I leant back in my seat, tapping my pen as I waited for Professor Moore to come in and put an end to the awful accents.

 

“Ya wee...” James started but it would appear Freaky one to be messed with because moments later (with a show of exceptional speed and spell work) both James and Sirius’ hair had...well...disappeared. Completely.

Hair, eyebrows...even their eyelashes.  

They both paused their laughter, James’ hand making it’s slow procession towards his new shiny bald head, his eyes wide.

 

There was absolute silence for a moment before James gave a crippling cry, Sirius following moments later.

 

Freaky just looked at them, her lips quivering slightly before she did something very rare.

 

Freaky burst out laughing.

 

“MY HAIR!” James cried running his hands frantically over his head.

 

“Well I...I...I th...thi...think...it’s...it’s an...an...improvement!” I wheezed out through my giggling.

 

“MY HAIR! MY HAIR! IT’S GONE!” James cried, jumping to his feet, his eyes wide in absolute horror.

 

Sirius was simply standing there looking a great deal like he was having a heart attack.

 

“Oh...J...Jam...James!” Lily laughed.

 

“No! Don’t look at me!” He cried before sprinting out the room, Sirius following moments later as the room rang with laughter.

 

James and Sirius spent the rest of the morning in the hospital wing, refusing any visitors.

 

“I don’t think they’re over going to come back from this,” I said, still giggling as we made our way down to lunch.

 

“Amazing Freaky, truly amazing,” Hemera wheezed.

 

Freaky just shrugged as she walked ahead, Katy by her side.

 

Freaky had earlier been crowned the Slytherin’s new mascot, Freaky, The Marauder Slayer.

 

She had declined though.

 

...Well...you could never be sure with Freaky because she did do an awful lot of glaring but it was generally taken as a ‘no’.

 

Of course the spell caught on and within hours was being shot through the corridors at random. This rather inconveniently meant having to walk around with a shield charm up which was rather irritating but there was absolutely no way in HELL that I was losing my hair.

 

Not to mention I was also leaving later that day for Venice and more importantly, the dreaded wedding.

Mary had been smugly hinting for the past week or so as to who her, oh so important, +1 was. 

 

I, unfortunately, didn’t yet have one.

 

I would have invited Sirius (before the whole hair loss incident) but, one, it may have been a little awkward considering the whole 'disinherited' thing and secondly, technically he was ‘Mary’s property’ and I didn’t quite have the patience for the grief it had the potential to cause.

 

I had everything ready and packed and...in all honesty I was kind of excited. I’d never physically been out of the country; the only places I knew were around London where I’d grown up and Hogwarts, Venice always seemed like some kind of magical city.

I don’t know who was picking me up, Marie and Francesco had been a little sketchy on the finer details but I knew we’d be apparating there ‘in time for dinner’ as Marie had informed me.

 

The rest of the day seemed to go relatively quickly and both James and Sirius did reappear, sporting hats and sunglasses.

 

I smirked slightly as Sirius sat down next to me in Charms, our final lesson for the day. 



 

“Well don’t you look...” I began but he cut me off.

 

“Don’t. Just don’t Iris,” He said very seriously, taking off his sunglasses although the hat remained firmly in place.

 

I snorted.

 

“So has it been...fixed yet?” I asked.

 

He scowled.

 

“We have a week,” He said morosely.

 

I couldn’t help yet another snort of suppressed laughter and he turned and glared at me.

 

“It’s. Not. Funny,” He said tersely.

 

“I’m sorry,” I said, moving my hand over my mouth.

 

He continued to glare at me.




“Well dear Samson, I’m sure it’ll come back soon,” I said.

 

His brow furrowed.

 

“Huh?” He said.

 

“...Sorry...bible reference,” I said.

 

He looked at me oddly.

 

“They have stuff about hair loss in the bible?” He said. 



 

“...Well...I think it was just a one off. Samson was all strong and crap then he was betrayed by an ‘adulteress’, she asked what made him so strong, he said his hair, then she cut it off while he was asleep,” I said simply.

 

“...that’s not very nice,” He said. 



 

I couldn’t help but laugh.

 

“Well he was asking for it, I means if you’re inhumanly strong and some bitch with a bad reputation comes and asks you why, you don’t go and bloody tell them, do you?” I snorted, returning to my sketches.

 

“Well maybe he loved her,” He said simply.

 

I looked up, the retort fading on my tongue as my eyes flitted across his face, his eyes remaining fixed on mine before he turned away and back to Professor Charles at the front of the class without another word.

Nothing more was said for quite some time as I sat there trying to think for something to say. 



 

“I’m leaving this afternoon,” I said.

 

He looked up from his work, a frown moving onto his face.

 

“Leaving?” He said.

 

“For Venice,” I answered.

 

“...wh...?” He began. 



 

“Not permanently,” I laughed.

 

“Just for a week, it’s Bridgett’s wedding,” I told him.

 

“Oh,” He said looking rather relieved.

 

I laughed.

 

“Oh...the wedding...s’been in the papers hasn’t it?” He said.

 

I nodded before I gave a short chuckle.

 

“Seems stupid, with everything going on, a wedding making the 3rd page of The Daily Prophet,” I said.

 

“Nah, everyone needs something to look forward too,” He said.

 

I snorted.

 

“You’ve never met Bridgett Bridezilla Incarnate,” I said.

 

“I can imagine it though...she’s terrifying as it is,” He muttered.

 

I laughed.

 

“She’s not as bad when you know her,” I said.

 

“I doubt that,” He snorted.

 

I rolled my eyes.

 

“So when you leaving?” He asked.

 

“After class, I’ll probably change when I get there or something,” I said.

 

“Oh,” He said.

 

For some reason the conversation came to a rather awkward halt after that. I don’t know what was wrong, it was either all fine and dandy or just...really awkward.

 

I was therefore a little preoccupied as I moved down to the entrance hall, bags packed and in hand.

It was to my horror that I found Mary standing there...bags packed too, at least 5 in total, the largest being a huge trunk, each getting smaller in size, all in a vivid hot pink...oh great.

 

You know somehow I always managed to forgot that Mary did actually live permanently in this world of ball gowns and tiaras...ugh.

 

I reluctantly moved closer, allowing my wand to lower the case to the ground...and ensuring I was a decent enough distance away to pretend I hadn’t heard her if she decided to speak to me.

 

We stood there in complete silence for over 5 minutes, both perfectly aware of the others presence before, finally, I heard the sound of high heels clicking against the stone floor. I turned, immensely relieved to see Marie, her blonde hair tied into a bun, a few wisps having escaped but somehow, she still looked rather elegant.

 

She may have been mad as a hatter but she did have style.

 

It was easy to forgot now that I knew her, I mean the paper’s went on about her endlessly so did a majority of the girls but...her sanity (or lack of) had always been a more prominent feature to me. 



 

“Hello darling,” She said cheerfully as she moved closer, flashing her usual friendly smile.

 

I opened my mouth to speak when I noticed a dark haired woman moving towards Mary.

 

...they looked EXACTLY alike, simply older versions of one another...and Mary’s mother also looked she’d had a bit of surgery...and was shorter but still.

 

I had just turned back to Marie when Mary’s mother noticed us both.

 

“Maaaaarie,” She said, turning towards her and holding out her arms as if they were the greatest of long lost friends.

 

Marie paused for a moment, looking at her somewhat nervously before she gave a smile.

 

“...Daaaaarling,” Marie cried moving forward before exchanging a series of air kisses.

 

“You look simply wonderful,” Mary’s mother said.

 

“So do you,” Marie smiled.

 

“Oh and this is your adopted daughter isn’t it?” She asked turning to look at me.

 

“Yep, Iris,” Marie said pulling me forward slightly.

 

The look on Mary’s mother’s face was just...well...one of sheer instant loathing to be honest. Not that I could be wholly surprised, it wasn’t like I expected Mary to give me a shining report.

 

“Oh,” She managed after a minute or two, a terribly fake smile returning to her face.

 

“I’ve heard so much about you,” She said.

 

“I’m sure you have,” I smiled back pleasantly.

 

The smile became more strained before she turned back to Marie.

 

“And how’s Francesco?” She asked.

 

“Oh a little...under the weather,” Marie told her.

 

Mary’s mother looked at her for a moment before she gave a little laugh.

 

“I’ve been meaning to talk to you, seems like ages since we’ve had a chat, why don’t we share a carriage?” Mary’s mother asked.

 

I think Mary’s expression of horror probably mirrored mine perfectly.

 

“Well actually...” Marie began but her voice simply trailed off into nothing as Mary’s mother summoned three house elves, ordering them to take our bags before she smiled and began walking.

 

“Marie, I mean this as nicely as possible but I am NOT sharing a fucking carriage with them,” I hissed under my breath as they strode ahead.

 

Marie however simply looked rather troubled.

 

“...last time I spoke to her was when she caught me in bed with her husband...” She said worriedly.

 

I paused and turned to look at her.

 

“...and I can’t for the life of me remember her name,” She said chewing her lip.

 

“...and she was ok with that?” I said slowly. 



 

“Oh no, nooooo not at all, she told me that next time she saw me she’d hex my hair off,” She said matter of factly. 



 

“...why would you sleep with Mary’s father?” I said wrinkling my nose.

 

I’d only seen him once and all I could remember him being rather red and suffering from hair loss.

 

“Well I was drunk darling...he’s an awful letch, not too good in the bedroom departmen...” She began.

 

“Marie,” I hissed.

 

“Oh right...sorry,” She replied, glancing back to see if they’d heard us.

 

“...so why is she acting like you’re bossom chums?” I frowned.

 

“...well she’s trying to pair whatever her name is, off with Antony, get on Bridgett’s good side and have Francesco start designing for her,” She said pleasantly.




I looked at her for a moment, opening my mouth to speak before I stopped, shaking my head as I shut it again, breathing a sigh as we walked out as we trailed after them.

 

I slowed slightly as I passed the thestral.

 

I’d nearly screamed when I’d first seen them at the end of my first year, now however I found them strangely beautiful.

 

I was the last to climb into the carriage, taking my place beside Marie.

 

*

 

I simply can’t express how pleased I was to be out of that carriage.

 

Mary’s mother spent the ENTIRE journey (which admittedly wasn’t that long...) talking about ‘the things she wanted for Mary’...which just so happened to involve a great deal of discussion on Antony.  Neither Mary or I spoke but I came rather close to ‘speaking my mind’ on several occasions. We parted ways (thankfully) when we came to the outer boundaries where we could apparate, both Mary and her mother going straight to portkey while Marie and I went back to hers quickly to ‘pick up a few extra things’ and for me to get changed. We ended up missing the first portkey but someone had obviously already thought of this because there was a second one for the next wave of people.

 

“So is Francesco already there?” I asked.

Marie nodded.

 

“Yup, he’s feeling a little sorry for his self, won’t come out of his room poor lamb,” She said sympathetically.

 

I resisted the urge to snort.

 

“It’s a lovely place you know, simply...DAAAARLING!” Marie cried before bounding up the slight grassy incline a tall black haired woman.

 

“MARIE!” She cried before hugging her tightly.

It then took the next 10 minutes or so for Marie to greet everyone, introducing me to this person and that person despite the names fading pretty much as soon as we moved onto the next one.

 

I was already exhausted and in all honesty simply looking forward to getting into bed as soon as I got there, as antisocial as it may sound.

 

I hadn’t slept well at all the night before and was now practically dead on my feet.

 

I was therefore kind of relieved when it was time to go.

 

We arrived just before dinner with enough time to have ‘freshen up’ (there were a great many people from the fashion industry so these things were ‘simply imperative’).

 

I can’t really say a great deal about my entrance into Venice because...well, there wasn’t one really. The house however, was simply gorgeous.

We were all staying (and by all I mean at least 50 people...with plenty more set to arrive) in an absolutely huge house sitting, of course, right on one of the canals. It was owned by an old wizarding family who was friends of someone who was friends with Bridgett and Bridgett had always been VERY good at utilising any contacts possible. The wedding was to be held in the house’s great hall (which was set aside specifically for big occasions) and there would easily be well over 300 people.

 

I’d take a better look at everything at a later date, after all I hadn’t even really SEEN Venice at all yet despite hearing everyone go on about it.

I climbed up the long marble staircase, towards the 4th floor where my room was supposed to be, pulling the key out of my travelling robe and pushing open the door...to find Francesco sitting there.

 

“...yes?” I said.

 

“Oh darling, finally!” He cried, reaching forward and dragging me further into the room, Marie seeming to arrive seconds after.

 

“Darling...” She began but he cut her off.

 

“Now, as you probably know, some BLIND, IDIOTIC BASTARD(!), has insinuated that my work is ‘overhyped’,” He said, drawing the quotation marks in the air.

 

...I may have heard something about that in the recent addition of Muse...and I’m rather sure they’d discussed it on the radio too...

 

“Darling don’t, you’ll upset yourself,” Marie said moving towards him.

 

“I have therefore, come up with a cunning plan!” He exclaimed.

 

I waited.

 

“Over here,” He said motioning at the desk and the soft pink, circular box sitting upon it.

 

I just stood there.

 

“Darling, I mean it, go and open it,” He snapped.

 

I made my way towards it slowly, unsure of exactly what I’d find.I pulled off the lid somewhat cautiously, placing it gently on the side, undoing the carefully folded tissue paper before coming to a halt, Marie peering at it over my shoulder.

 

“...what is it?” We both asked blankly.

 

“Pull it out,” He said flatly.

 

I did so, simply blinked as I pulled the long evening dress out of its wrappings. I'd seen a great many beautiful things in my time, in fact I'd thought that dress I'd bought for the New Year's Eve party was the most beautiful thing EVER but this was simply...wow. 



I know it may sound a little stupid but I'd never really credited Francesco of much, he spent so much time dramatising everything that I'd thought he was simply 'all talk and no trousers'. 



 

The material was...I don't even know what, but it felt so incredibly good against my skin, soft and cool without being cold. 



 

"Well try it on then. I'll show those bastards, 'over hyped' my arse!" Francesco scowled before shooing me into the bathroom. 



 

"It should fit perfectly although I did do some guesswork, I'm usually right," He told me from the other side of the door as he pulled it to behind me. 



I slipped it on, before turning to look at myself in the long mirror. 



 

...I'd have taken back everything I've ever said about Francesco's melodrama, heck he had a right to be arrogant as far as I was concerned. 



 

"Well?" He said impatiently. 



 

"I swear Francesco, it's like wearing all the best comfort crap ever," I said as I opened the door. 



 

"Oh darling you really have outdone yourself this time," Marie breathed. 



 

Francesco circled round, peering at it from all angles before he gave a huge grin. 



 

"Perfect!" He cried exuberantly before he breathed a sigh. 



 

"I think it could even be my best work yet," He said happily. 



 

"I'd buy it," I shrugged. 



 

He scoffed. 



 

"Darling you don't have to and it won't be for sale. You my dear lovely ladies are going to be my models, I'll have them BEGGING me to do more," He cried gleefully. 



 

...you know I really couldn't help but worry about him sometimes. 



 

"I completely redid Bridgett's dress last night, threw it away! They'll be flabbergasted, I'll start a whole new range, I will MAKE this wedding," He cried. 



 

"...you threw her dress away?" I said in horror. 



 

"It was awful darling, too ORDINARY, I'll show them EXACTLY why I'm at the top and they'll curse the day they ever DARED imply my work was...mediocre!" He cried, his eyes shining now. 



 

"...Darling how long have you been awake?" Marie asked looking slightly concerned. 



 

"3 days straight," He told her matter of factly. 



 

She sighed. 



 

"This is what always happens when you get overexcited about your work, you need to look after yourself," She admonished. 



 

He simply waved her off before turning back to me, grinning broadly. 



 

"Bridgett's dress is in her room. Darling I’m going to make you FANTASTIC! They’ll be begging you to show up in places!” He cried looking more than a little crazed. 



 

"Oh darling, I feel like such a family," Marie said happily. 



 

And that's how Francesco began his 'reawakening' as he later put it. 



 

Believe me, there were LOOKS as I moved down to the dining hall with Bridgett who simply looked smugly around, the shimmering silver dress she was sporting seeming to almost ripple, like water, as she walked.



 

"You my darling, should consider yourself VERY lucky," Bridgett smirked as we walked further into the room, speaking so that only I could hear. 



 

Funny thing is all it really meant to me was a nice pretty dress.



 

"Francesco, darling, you're just...superb!" A man said shaking his head as Bridgett and I sat down. 



 

I think at that table there were more famous people than there were at any amount of award ceremonies. 



I wasn’t particularly bothered by them to be honest, I was just tired by then. 



 

I'd barely slept at all the night before, my visions, although not all disturbing, had been a bit more...aggressive somehow. I was therefore, in all honesty beginning to feel ever so slightly light headed. 



 

I only listened vaguely to the conversation around me, which of course, was mostly based on the dress. There were a fair number of critics and other designers there, as well as a number of people from other profession. 



 

"Marie I think I'm going to bed," I breathed tiredly. 



She looked up before she frowned slightly. 



 

"Oh darling you're looking a bit peaky...are you alright?" She asked. 



 

"I'll be fine," I mumbled. 



 

"Where are you going?" Bridgett asked somewhat indignantly as I got to my feet. 



 

"To bed," I said. 



 

"You've barely..." She began but she was cut off. 



 

"Bridgett darling let the poor girl go...Iris do you need some..." She began but I never did hear what it was she was going to say because that usual burning White appeared, whisking me off in a heartbeat. 







 

I landed in a clear moonlight corridor, funnily enough, the one I traversed nearly every day. 



I was back in Hogwarts. 



I frowned, turning slightly until I noticed a rather tall bloke with a mob of light brown hair. 



I moved forward until I was walking level with them, glancing round at him to see Andy. 






I paused. 






This could only be bad...






The cloisters were empty as he walked down, seemingly at relative ease. 



And then just like that, the serenity changed and he was flying. I looked around in alarm but failed to actually see anyone as he gave a yelp, powerless as he was dragged round the corner with seemingly invisible bonds. 



I followed, hardly daring to look but, as I'd suspected, Cane was waiting, his wand sitting comfortable in hand as he pulled Andy to a stop before him. 





"Now, Kirl," Cane said lightly, as he kept Andy in mid air, the bonds now thicker, showing up as a translucent almost sticky looking substance. 






"What the fuck are you doing?! Let me down!" Andy snapped. 






"You were told to stay away from Hemera." He said coolly. 






"...what's that got to do with...?!" Andy started but he was cut off. 






"It has everything to do with me. My FATHER values her so I do too," Cane told him, his voice and demeanour filled with an air of smugness and self importance 






I moved closer, my eyes running over Cane. 






'My Father', it obviously hadn't taken him long to forget the real one. 






"You don't care about her," Andy scoffed. 






Cane flicked his wand slightly and Andy gave a cry as the bonds flexed and tightened. 






"Well I do now and right now, we're in the way. NO ONE touches her," He growls moving forward. 






...you know it'd be almost touching if Cane weren't a psycho. 






...or maybe not. 






"I..." Andy gasped, his voice tight and raspy. 






"We'll give you a warning...what do you think?" He asked. 






"But ah, wait, see, thing is, is that now, seeing as Hemera is my property and you never asked ME if you could have her, you're stealing and I don't like thieves," Cane told him, before flipping him upside down again. 






"She's...n...no..." Andy struggled to get his words out with the lack of air getting to him. 






"That wasn't up for discussion," Cane snapped before he flicked his wand and Andy let out another cry, the hands by his sides clenching into fists.






"See, you obviously need to learn some manners, but I tell you what, I'll let you go this time...you don't give her up and next time, I'll kill you," Cane said matter of factly. 




Andy struggled to take a breath before Cane finally let go, the sticky tendrils sliding back to the tip of his wand as Andy lay there heaving. 






"Well get up then," Cane told him, smirking as he walked forward. 






Andy ignored him, panting heavily and now probably nursing a few broken ribs. 






Cane shook his head before he nudged Andy onto his back with his foot, digging his foot into his side painfully before he crouched down. 






"My father would die rather than have any kind of association with the likes of you," He spat. 






Andy gave a great wheeze, probably attempting to speak when Cane got to his feet. His wand moving out in front of him. 






"Now for your lesson, I thought we'd start simple, just so you can wrap your head around," Cane smirked. 






Andy rolled onto his side. 






"P...Pl...plea..." He panted, his voice clouded and faint. 






"Oh dear, that's not a very Gryffindor like thing to do, is it now?" Cane said before he struck the air with his wand, a huge maroon flash erupting from the tip of his wand, hitting Andy who let out a high, raspy cry. 



I don't know how long Cane shot spell after spell at him, the look on his face growing darker each time, continuing even after Andy had lost consciousness long ago. 






He did stop himself though, blinking as if he were just awakening again. 






I turned away, pressing a hand over my mouth as I finally got a view of the bloodied Andy, the dull red slipping and spreading out across the stone floor, my stomach turning with it. 






Cane looked at him for a moment before he simply walked off. 






He just left him there. 







I breathed a great sigh before I opened my eyes, finding myself staring up into a whole crowd of people. 



 

"Oh Darling you scared the bejeezus out of me!" Marie cried, laughing slightly as she moved a hand against her chest. 



 

"I'm...fine," I supplied, my throat feeling rather tight. 



 

"Well let's get you to bed or something," Marie said. 



 

I allowed myself to be helped up, steadying myself for a moment before I began walking. I needed to tell Hemera, I needed to badly and yet I had to wait for everyone to finish fussing. I lay in bed for a moment, now in my pyjamas, waiting for the sounds of retreating feet before I rolled over and snatched my wand off the table, conjuring my patronus. 



 

"Hemera this is really urgent, I don't know whether you've seen it or not but Andy's in trouble. Call Madame Pomfrey and get yourself down to the cloisters. 2nd floor, ones branching off from the courtyard with the fountain," I said hurriedly before letting it go, waiting nervously for a reply. 



It came seconds later. 



 

"What happened?" Hemera voice rang out in confusion. 



 

I conjured mine again. 



 

"Cane attacked him, go," I urged. 



 

I didn't hear anything more from Hemera that night or until just under midway through the morning and that was simply to say that he was ‘stable’. 



 

My mind was somewhere else completely throughout the rest of the next day, walking down the corridor, fidgeting somewhat. 



 

"Iris," I heard a voice beside as I breathed a sigh, sitting myself down in the courtyard, glad to feel the cool air nipping my cheeks. 



 

I opened an eye and looked round to see...Frederick?

 

“...yes?” I said. 



 

“I was just coming to see if you were alright, quite a nasty fall you had the other day,” He said.

 

“I’m fine,” I said simply.

 

“Good, it would be a shame not to have you around,” He said sitting down beside me.

 

Great.

 

“Mmm,” I said.

 

He turned and smirked at me slightly, his eyes running over me quickly.

 

...that was quite enough.

 

“Well I’m going to go, it’s a bit cold,” I said.

 

“Oh...” He began but I’d already got to my feet and began walking awa, m hand slipped up to my shoulder, rubbing the back of my neck as if I could rid myself of the feel of his stare. 



 

After that it was just downright awkward. In fact the entire atmosphere was just...tense, the only relief was Marie and Francesco bouncing around the place. Unfortunately however they spent the majority of their time gallivanting off and arriving back at ungodly hours of the morning, 



 

After the 3rd day, I’d simply had enough and simply snuck out during the earlier hours of the morning.



 

"I don't know what's wrong with you people!" I heard Bridgett screech from at least a hallway away, causing me to come to a complete halt, my eyes widening slightly.

 

I waited a moment but there didn’t appear to be any other signs of life from any place other than that room and eventually let out a long breath, wrapping my jacket further around me before slipping down the long elegant staircase to the main entrance hall and then out. It was snowing now and I could honestly say I'd never seen anything so beautiful, the canals were mostly iced over other than the cracks the few boats that had ventured out this morning had made. I wandered across the bridge, the cheeks flushed by the biting cold but I didn't care enough to turn back. This of course ended in me becoming a little...well...lost. 



 

You'd be surprised at just how awful my sense of direction is and seeing as my memory is just as bad...well these things were inevitable. 



 

It was fairly early in the morning and things were just beginning to come to life, it wasn't as filled with tourists as was reputed in the summer months but the lack of people may also have had to do with the time. 



I wasn't particularly bothered, I was already exhausted by the whole wedding thing, Mary was doing her very best to make me look like an idiot which wasn't helped by Sarah's, the oh so feared ex maid of honour, apparent disliking of me. Marie and Francesco were far too occupied being...well as I said before, Marie and Francesco and Bridgett was busy terrorising everyone...and in any case I highly doubt Bridgett would have much sympathy, she very rarely did with these kinds of matters. 



 

"Iris." came a voice behind me as I stopped to take a quick picture; I'd almost forgotten the camera in my bag.



 

I turned, pausing when I saw Frederick. 



 

Oh and there was another problem. 



 

Frederick could have been the greatest person in the world but I don't think I could have trusted him even if I'd tried, Bridgett professed not to care about him but I can tell you one thing, associating with Frederick would be a sure way to get on her bad side. 



 

I'd never been there. 



 

And surely didn't intend to. 



 

"...shouldn't you be...doing something?" I said slowly. 



 

"I thought I'd take a bit of a break," He shrugged. 



 

"...right," I said, lowering my camera. 



 

"You know you don't have to be uncomfortable around me, Bridgett..." He began. 



 

"- has nothing to do with it," I finished for him flatly. 



 

He looked at me before he gave a sigh, leaning against the side of the bridge. 



 

"I'm not a bad person," He said. 



 

I shrugged, pulling the picture out of the camera, flapping it a bit and waiting for it to clear, more than aware that he was watching me. 



 

"I never said you were," I said simply. 



 

Nothing was said for a while as I took a few more pictures. 



 

"You're beautiful, you know that?" He said. 



 

"It's been said before...many a time," I said although I was really beginning to wish I was anywhere BUT there.



 

He gave a chuckle before he moved closer. 



 

"I'm not married yet, you didn't have to hurry away," He said. 



 

I turned and looked at him then, my eyebrow arching as my camera remaining in my hands. 



 

"Then perhaps, if you're going for the 'last day of freedom' thing, you should make it last with someone who would find it attractive," I said flatly. 



He looked at me before his hand started towards me cheek. 



 

"Don't bother trying," I snapped, pushing it away. 



 

He didn't say anything but I could feel the air of dissatisfaction. 



 

You know I can't be quite sure what he expected, for me to suddenly accept him, claim that I loathed Bridgett and adored him...nothing like a bit of fantasy, hey?. 



 

"Ok I'm sorry..." He began as I started to walk away. 



 

"Don't be," I called back over my shoulder before I went into something...well actually, as I was soon to discover, someone. 



 

"Frederick...I could have sworn you were supposed to be in the reception room round about...now," Antony said simply, somewhat coldly. 



 

"...Antony," Frederick said lightly although it was easy to see the slight apprehension on his face. 



 

Antony just waited, somehow seeming to stand quite a bit taller despite there only being a few inches between them. 



 

"Well...I guess I'll go then, I'll see you later Iris...Antony," He nodded before pretty much slinking off. 



 

I watched him go, somewhat amusedly until I heard Antony speak. 



 

"You should be careful of him," He told me. 



 

"I know, I've been told...repeatedly...by a vast number of people," I said pleasantly. 

 

He looked down at me, his demeanour softening slightly as he gave a small smile. 



 

"I'm sorry," He said. 



 

"Don't be," I replied easily. 



 

"What are you doing out this early?" He asked. 



 

I held up the camera. 



 

"Pictures, I thought while I'm here I might as well, you?" I asked. 



 

He shrugged. 



 

"I'm used to getting up early, feels kind of weird when I don't have to," He told me with a slight shrug. 



 

"You know it's a pity you're here, I was intending to use getting hopelessly lost as an excuse for being absent for the morning's round of screeching," I said. 



 

"...well if you like we could kill some time, have breakfast or something then claim to have gotten hopelessly lost?" He offered. 



 

"Hmmm a very good plan," I agreed. 



 

"...Not too late though because I'm beginning to worry about Bridgett's blood pressure," He said as we began to walk, somewhat aimlessly. 



 

I snorted. 



 

"And for the sake of the caterers I think it seems best that you're there, you seem to be the only one capable of calming her down," I said amusedly. 



 

"...today it's back to the flower arrangers," He told me solemnly. 



 

"Oh good lord," I said feigning horror. 



 

"Oh yes and this time; the colour schemes have changed," He nodded. 



 

I gave a gasp and he let out a laugh. 



 

"Well aren't things looking up?" I said sarcastically. 



 

"It'll be over soon enough and you know Bridgett's happiest when she's yelling," He shrugged matter of factly. 

 

"Mmm, I had noticed," I agreed. 



 

"So, hungry?" He asked. 



 

"Wh...?" I began. 



 

"Breakfast, there’s a place just a few streets away," He told me. 



 

"You know I'm beginning to think you lurk around JUST to take me out," I smirked innocently before I smiled. 



 

"But I'm hungry and would therefore love to," I said. 



 

He chuckled before crossing over to the other side of the cobbled walkway, pausing for me to follow. 



 

"So were the suits ever sorted out?" I asked; keen to keep the conversation going. 



 

"Yep, roped in a few contacts, she's still not particularly happy with me though," He said rubbing the back of his neck tiredly. 



 

"Well you can't be everywhere at once, I'm glad you're here though," I said simply before pausing...had I just said that? 



 

"Really?" He said in surprise. 



 

"Well...you're not as new," I supplied eventually. 



 

'You're not as new' what kind of excuse is that? 



 

"I'm not too great with new people really, it usually swings between sarcasm or silence," I said. 



 

That was actually rather true, there was a reason I'd spent the first few weeks of first year emotionally attached to the library. I was fine as long as I was sitting comfortably in my own environment. 



 

"I end up saying stupid things," Antony chuckled. 



 

"I had a thing about clockwork when I was younger...I know it's weird, but whenever I came up against anything I'd just start off loading all kinds of information," He chuckled. 



 

"Clockwork?" I said. 



 

He chuckled. 



 

"Fine I'm a complete geek," He said, holding his hands up in defeat. 



 

I laughed. 



 

"Clocks measure time, there's plenty of interesting things in time," I shrugged. 



 

"...I'll be sure to use that one next time," He mused. 



 

I laughed. 



 

"You don't seem socially inept to me," I said. 



 

"I have to say, neither do you," He said. 



 

I laughed. 



 

"People tend not to really realise that confidence generally comes from acting it first," I grinned. 



 

"True," He said fairly. 



 

"Just take a left here," He added quickly when we almost missed the turning, motioning towards a narrow side street. 



 

"Right, go down the dark alleyway," I breathed sarcastically. 



 

He turned and looked at me, chuckling. 



 

"Trust me?" He said. 



 

I smiled slightly before making a great point of rolling my eyes. 



 

"If you insist," I said. 



 

He smiled before leading me through. 



 

The place turned out to be considerably better than I'd expected, it was small and cosy and more importantly warm, the low hum of chatter sounding through the room, broken by the occasional laugh. 



 

I pulled off my scarf as we walked in, my gloves following moments later. 



 

Antony easily led me through the tables before picking out a table in the corner overlooking the entire place. 



It was nice...and as I said before, more importantly, warm. 



 

"Do you speak Italian?" I asked. 



 

He made a so so gesture. 



 

"It's a bit sketchy, mostly it's thing like 'Profits have risen by...'," He chuckled. 



 

I laughed. 



 

"You?" He said. 



 

"This is my first trip out of Britain," I said simply. 



 

"Really?" He said in surprise. 



 

I nodded. 



 

"Yep, I mean I've seen loads of things in visi..." I began before I stopped, glancing at him. 



 

"It's alright, I'm still holding to that promise," He said gently. 



 

I smiled, looking at him almost cautiously, perhaps a little shyly before I began speaking again. 



 

"I see all kinds of things and all kinds of places but...it's like seeing it through the TV or something, it never seems quite real," I said. 



 

"...TV?" He said. 



 

"Oh sorry, it's a muggle invention, you watch things on it like shows and stuff," I said. 



 

"Oh...yeah I think I must have heard of one of them somewhere along the lines, they make noises too don't they?" He said. 



 

I nodded. 



 

"Yep," I said. 



 

"That must be kind of strange...your visions I mean," He said. 



 

"Strange isn't really the first word that comes to mind when I think of it," I muttered. 



 

"I...it must be kind of difficult keeping that to yourself...I'd go spare," He said. 



 

I laughed. 



 

"I don't, not anymore, a few of my friends know so it's not really too bad," I said. 



 

"I'm sorry I found out about it like that," He said. 



 

I smiled at him. 



 

"Funnily enough, I don't think I am," I said. 



 

...Don't bother asking me why because I simply do not know. 



 

He looked at me before he smiled. 



 

"Ok then, let's make this even then, ask me a question, any you want and I promise to answer truthfully," He said. 



 

I let out an unintentional snort. 



 

"Any question?" I said. 



 

He laughed. 



 

"Yeah," He said. 



 

I just raised an eyebrow sending him a sceptically look. 



 

"But if I so chose I could make this horrifyingly embarrassing for you," I matter of factly, a smile tugging on the corners of my mouth. 



 

"You could," He said fairly. 



 

"And if I were you, I wouldn't trust me not too," I continued. 



 

"...can I call on your good will then?" He said with a rather lop sided smirk...my god he was gorge...wait wait wait, no, no we just won't get into that. 



 

"Oh I'm afraid you'll find my good will disappeared at birth," I told him lightly. 



 

He laughed. 



 

"I feel I should ask something hugely dramatic now, after that build up," I mused. 



 

"Well the only thing I've managed to come up with isn't exactly particularly original or ground breaking," He said. 



 

"And what would that be?" I asked. 



 

"'So....do you like Venice?'," He chuckled. 



 

"Oh that really is awful," I agreed. 



 

"I've been branded with 'lacks imagination' for the greater part of my life," He said fairly. 

 

I couldn't help but snort. 



 

"Appreciation of Venice wouldn't be the first question I'd ask me," I laughed before shrugging. 



 

"Ok, let me keep the question, then before we leave Venice, I'll ask," I said. 

 

He laughed. 



 

"Ok," He said. 



 

"...just don't let me forget because I have memory like a sieve," I said. He chuckled and nodded. 



 

"My flatmate lives off post it notes, I'm pretty sure he'd forget to breathe if he didn't write it down," He snorted. 



 

I laughed. 



 

"Who's that?" I asked. 



 

"David, quidditch..." He began. 



 

"Oh yeah, never really been one for quidditch though," I said. 



 

"Afraid of heights," He told me grimly. 



 

I laughed. 



 

"Wow, school must have been fun," I said. 



 

"That's where it comes from. First year we had this quidditch coach who pretty much pushed us all on brooms then started chucking bludgers at us, I think he was the same mentality as my dad, you know the 'randomly shove you into water to 'get used to it''," He said. 

 

For some reason I couldn't help the rather entertaining mental image that accompanied his words. 



 

"Well that's how I learnt to swim," I shrugged. 



 

"My friend shoved me in...then taught me," I said. 



 

Ace. 



 

I felt a great pang of loss. 



 

He was my best friend, I wanted him back, I'd talk to him, I'd have to before he did something stupid. 



 

Before Cane completely changed him. 

 

We did eventually get round to actually ordering something and, although I couldn’t claim to be a great drinker of hot chocolate, it was probably the best I’d ever tasted.

 

I think we were both a little reluctant to leave and I don’t think I could say honestly that it simply due to the warmth in the place, even if it was what I told myself.

 

I don’t quite know what I found attractive really, he was a little awkward at times, perhaps a little shy at others and seemed more than happy to let me do the talking but...I quite liked it, Sirius was, let’s face it, a moody pain in the arse the majority of the time, Ace was probably rather similar with the added disadvantage of being crude, stubborn and irritating, Antony was...simple and easy going.

He didn’t demand too much, seemed appropriately interested in what I was saying (or was at least suitably good at looking like he was...which I didn’t particularly mind) and he wasn’t ridiculously childish either.

 

I continued to think this as we made our way back, the city considerably more alive than it had been on the way there. The sun was shining meekly onto the thick blankets of white snow, making it almost sparkle and I was just...happy. I liked being there, I liked being with him.

 

“So urm...would you like to do that again...or something?” He asked as we drew to a halt on the small stretch of pavement before the place we were staying.

 

I smiled.

 

“Sure,” I smiled.

 

He opened his mouth to speak when there was a loud voice behind us.

 

“Iris! Darling there you are!” I heard the familiar voice of Francesco cry, his head sticking out from round the door before he pushed it open and made his way over.

 

“I was just...” He began, pausing momentarily before as his eyes drifted between us but when he spoke he didn’t mention it.

 

“I was just looking for you,” He said.




“Ok...urm...bye?” I said glancing over my shoulder at Antony before allowing Francesco to lead me off, somewhat anxious as to what it was he was going to say.

 

He didn’t though.

 

He just began going on about outfits and other such things, leading back to my room where Marie was already sat...you know I did have a lock on my door but apparently privacy didn’t matter much to either of them.

 

“Where have you been?” Marie cried dramatically.

 

“Out with Antony,” Francesco said as he lit a cigarette.

Marie turned and looked at me.

 

“Wh...WHAT?!” She cried.

 

“I got lost, he just brought me b...” I began but I think Marie’s imagination had already started to run off.

 

“Do you like him?!” She asked gleefully.

 

“Wh...” I began.

 

“Yes,” Francesco answered for me.

 

“N...” I began.

 

“Oh darling don’t lie to your Francy Godmother,” He said waving a hand dismissively as he let out a plume of smoke.

 

“You could date! Ooo Francesco! We could have Antony/Iris babies!” She cried happily.

 

“That has the potential for some very good genetics,” He nodded.

 

“If you took her eyes, his hair...I’ve always liked his hair, with her glossiness, his nose, possibly(?) with...” She began.

 

“I WENT TO BREAKFAST WITH HIM!” I snapped.

 

Marie gasped.

 

“So you are dating!” Marie cried looking scandalized.

 

“No, it was just chance,” I said shortly.

 

“Ooo Mary’s mothers going to ring your neck,” Francesco said.

 

“Oh yeah...well who cares, I don’t want that Mary girl as a goddaughter...in law...is that even possible?”Marie said, helping herself to another cigarette having just finished the last one.

 

“...I have no idea darling,” Francesco said shaking his head.

 

“Oh...well either way...her mother scares me,” Marie said.

 

“Well you shouldn’t be sleeping with people’s husbands darling,” Francesco reminded her as he got up, and picked his wand off the table.

 

“I didn’t mean too,” She whined.

 

“He has a point,” I said sitting myself down. 



 

“Oi, you can’t talk, shagging her godson without telling us, scandalous that is!” He said motioning at Marie.

 

“I’m not shagging him!” I said indignantly.

 

“...Oh...well that’s a pity,” Marie said looking rather disappointed.




“He’s a bit older than her though,” Francesco said fairly as he rifled through my wardrobe.

 

...I hadn’t even thought about age.

 

“He’s only 22,” Marie said.

 

“...darling he’s 24,” Francesco reminded her, his head reappearing.

 

“Oh...really?” She said.

 

“Yep, a year older than Bridgett,” He said.

 

“Oh yeah...awww I remember when he was a baby,” She said.

 

I just looked at them before Marie’s expression changed, looking absolutely horrified.

 

“Darling we’re old!” She cried.

 

“No! Darling, we’re not!” Francesco cried reappearing abruptly.




“Oh,” Marie whimpered.

 

“Darling you are 20 something!” Francesco cried vehemently. 



 

Marie gave a sniff.

 

“Ooooooh I’m old,” She moaned morosely.

 

“Don’t make me slap you,” Francesco warned.

 

She looked at him before she took a breath.

 

“You’re right darling, 20 something,” She nodded.

 

He eyed her for a moment before moving off.

Marie later went out and spent 40,000 galleons on a pair of shoes and then bought another house in Morocco.

 

“Darling you already have a house in Morocco,” Francesco reminded her when she told him at dinner.

 

“I know,” She said miserably, poking her fork into her food.

 

“40,000 galleons on a pair of shoes?” I gawked.

 

“I needed them,” She pouted.

 

You see, if there was one thing that Marie was most afraid of, it was old age. She saw it as some kind of disease, claiming that she refused to get past ’20 something...and 1’...only she seemed to know what age this was but no one had the courage to ask.

On the other hand, I went out with Antony several times...despite the 7 year age gap, plus it wasn’t as if anything were guaranteed to come out of it.

I swore both Marie and Francesco to secrecy, more for the fact that, although I didn’t like to admit, I didn’t much like the idea of exactly what Mary’s mother would do to me if she found out.

Plus it didn’t seem to bother him much.

 

He still asked out to Hogsmeade at any rate.





Author's Notes:

Hello again! 

I was going to try and have this chapter up as a birthday present...thing to you guys...but that fell through so you're getting it a day late...ah well! 

I don't know how boring this chapter was for you, nothing fantastically amazing happened and...well...ok if I'm being honest I got bored, hence the reason the ends so abrupt, I have so many ideas for the next chapter and I wanted to start writing it and I couldn't with this chapter nagging at me xD

Now, on the subject of Antony, he's boring, I know...it's why I like him and why he's staying like that. He's the only really ordinary bloke in the story and I think it needs that. He's terribly polite, awkward, a workaholic, a little shy at times, is a pushover and let's people bully him into things (Bridgett *cough*). His character and him and Iris as a couple aren't really about him, it's about how she changes when she's around him. It's all about character devolpement see ;P 

Plus, I think the downtrodden nice guys in stories and books deserve to get the girl every so often! XD

So I think that's it...oh and thank you for all the birthday wishes! They really made my day! :DDDDD Love you all! :P


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