Le Fantôme de l'Opéra
Needless to say, I didn’t get any sleep.
“Malfoy was making woodpecker noises against my wall ALL NIGHT!” I raged the next morning, while checking myself in the mirror. I was a complete wreck. My hair was frizzy and had split ends, my complexion was worse than an Inferi’s, and I had these absolutely hideous purple half-moon bags under my eyes. “THAT BOY IS A PSYCHOMANIAC! I HATE HIM!”
“And what did you do?” Xander asked me in an unnaturally diplomatic tone.
“I pied him in the face repeatedly with different flavored pies.” I shook my head in mock-sorrow. “What a waste of perfectly good pies…”
Zelda clapped me on the shoulder. “I understand your pain, Rose,” she said feelingly. “Las night, after you lot went to bed, Jag crept down to my room and Transfigured all the goose feathers in my pillow into real geese.”
“That must’ve been a lot of geese…” I said thoughtfully.
Xander had started laughing. “What did you do with them?”
Zelda looked slightly abashed. “I let them fly out the window. I didn’t know how to Transfigure them back into feathers! I didn’t even know Jag could do that kind of magic!”
“He’s always been one of the Crow’s favorites,” Xander said grimly.
“I don’t think the Crow has favorites, Xander,” Zelda said with some amount of disgust. “She hates everyone.”
“Look,” I grabbed Zelda by the shoulders, “in comparison to Malfoy, Jag’s the sweetest guy there is. I mean, he might be flirt, he might be girly and potentially gay, he might have a sick and perverted mind, but he’s not a bad person.”
“What about Kai?” Xander put in. “He’s a darling, too.”
“We aren’t even going to mention Kai in the same sentence as these buffoons,” I said, snorting. “No guy in the universe can compare with my darling apprentice’s adorableness. I meant that, within the obnoxious prats who rule our school, Jag’s one of the…sort of slightly better ones.”
By looking at Zelda’s contracted eyebrows, I could tell she wasn’t going to be convinced. “He’s got an abominable attitude,” she scoffed haughtily. “I asked him one little question about his daddy and he freakin’ snapped at me!”
“It is a touchy subject, Zelda,” Xander pointed out.
“I know, but I asked him nicely! Really nicely! And you guys know how hard I try to be nice, right? But he told me to keep my nose in my own business, and then he stormed away having a tantrum like some two-year-old! The nerve of that guy!”
“How is this surprising? He’s got temper issues just like a really manly girl.”
“How many ‘really manly' girls do you know, Rose?”
I grinned. “Excluding you?”
“Shut up, you dumbass!” Zelda stood up on the bed and attempted to squash my head underneath her foot.
“If only we had some sort of clue why Jag is so oversensitive…only if we knew more about his dad,” Xander pondered.
I remembered the tiny slip Astoria had made the other day. “Guys, maybe we do have a clue,” I said slowly. “I was talking to Malfoy’s mum yesterday and she said something about Irene being obsessed about the Phantom of the Opera. Then she mentioned something about Irene meeting the real Phantom of the Opera. You guys know about the Phantom, right?”
“Oh, Phantom of the Opera,” said Xander. “It’s that really popular Muggle show.”
“I’ve never heard of it,” Zelda declared. “A phantom? Like a ghost? And why phantom of the opera? Does the ghost live inside an opera house?”
“Something like that,” I had a vague recollection of Lysander telling me the plotline. “Apparently, there was a girl who acted in theatre, and there a mysterious ‘phantom’ who supposedly haunted the theatre. Then, the phantom fell in love with the girl, but she refused and he killed himself. Something depressing like that. I forgot.”
“And he wasn’t, like, a good guy, either,” Xander added, her eyes round. I supposed that she knew more about Muggle topics than the rest of us. “The Phantom, I mean. He was this creeper who lived underneath the theatre and stalked her. Then he, like, kidnapped her and tried to force her into marrying him, but she said no, and he threatened to burn the entire place down. I think that’s how the story went. Anyway, like Rosie said, in the end the Phantom committed sucided.”
“Okaaaay,” Zelda said skeptically, “that's great and all, but how does this relate to Jag’s family? I know his mum was an actress, but—”
“His dad could be the metaphorical Phantom!”
Zelda faced me. “So, you’re telling me that some creepy dude lived underneath Irene’s theatre and knocked her up when she was thirteen.”
“That explains why Jag’s so twisted,” I snickered a bit. “Genes, you know. Heredity.”
“Great, so Jag’s got bits and piece of creepy stalker guy inside him.”
“And he gets the brilliant acting skills from his mum!” Xander squealed.
“Stop making a face. You know he’s better at performing.”
“He definitely got the dark hair and blue eyes from his dad,” I said thoughtfully, “since Irene looks exactly the opposite…”
“HE GOT CREEPER DNA FROM HIS DAD!”
“Okay. That, too.”
“But we still don’t know who his dad was,” Xander argued. “All we know is that Irene’s drawing parallels from the story to her own life. Maybe the Phantom guy was some bloke who acted in the same troupe as her, or maybe he was the president of the company, or maybe he was her boss —”
“Merlin, you’re making the theories creepier! Her boss?”
“I don’t know!” Xander protested. “I’m just putting some ideas out there! Who said that Irene met him in a theatre, anyway?”
“Irene has about thirty copies of The Phantom of the Opera lying around! That’s gotta mean something!”
“We have to use the book as a reference,” Zelda agreed. “Too bad we can’t read French. My parents can, but I never bothered to learn the crap. What about you two?”
“Not me, definitely. I know German and some Dutch.” Xander said. “Isn’t Al fluent, though?”
“I’m sure he can’t read it,” I told her. “And I doubt he’s good at speaking, either.”
We stared at each other, feeling stumped.
“Malfoy’s mum knows,” I said after a moment. “She knows everything, but she said she isn’t telling.”
“Can you weasel it out of her?” Xander asked me with a wink.
I rolled my eyes. “When the going gets tough, why not just ask the Weasley to put her epic weaseling skills into use? Forget it. I don’t care about Jag that much.”
Zelda was biting her lip. It was obvious, that between the three of us, she was the most curious.
“Can’t we just ask Jag to read it for us?”
“No!” Zelda turned toward her, looking slightly frantic. “He’ll murder you!”
“He can’t be that touchy…”
“Go right ahead, then, if you want to die.”
“Jag’s so bipolar it’s like he’s taking drugs,” I said, only half-joking.
“Maybe he smokes Floo powder.”
“Oh, gross,” Zelda said.
“Isn’t that illegal?”
“I’m pretty sure Teddy does it,” I said, remembering a strange-looking cigar I once found on his desk.
“Oh, if Teddy does it, then it’s definitely illegal.”
“Teddy’s so badass,” Zelda sighed dreamily.
We stared at her.
“Dude, you’re bipolar, too,” Xander told her.
“Was Irene’s Phantom bipolar?” I thought out loud randomly.
“Bigger question is,” Xander said, “did the Phantom smoke Floo powder?”
I giggled. “You want me to write all this stuff down? You know, we could start a list of freaky theories.”
“No way,” Xander said firmly. “You’re totally gonna go Velma Dinkley on us if you do that. Might as well start saying, ‘Jinkies!’ and ‘I think I have hunch…’”
“What are you talking about?” Zelda asked in confusion.
I knew what TV show she was referring to. “Hey, why am I Velma? I look more like Daphne!”
“No, I’m Daphne. Daphne gets Fred—wait, hold up. Never mind. You can be Daphne and Malfoy can be Fred.”
“You suck!” I yelled, hitting her in the face with a pillow.
“Is this some Muggle thing?” Zelda looked exasperated.
Xander bowled her over onto her back. “HOW DO YOU NOT KNOW WHAT SCOOBY-DOO IS? It’s the greatest TV show after Gossip Girl!”
“Um, I’ve never been in a same room as a ‘TV’ before.”
Xander stood up, releasing her. “Oh, yeah. You pureblood.” She turned to me, pouting. “No witch or wizard here knows about Muggle things!”
“And the people who do know don’t want to tell us,” I said, thinking about Ms. Greengrass. “Malfoy’s mum could’ve told me the story of Phantom of the Opera, but no….”
Xander suddenly froze. Her eyes widened and she looked at me and Zelda. “God, you guys, we’ve been so stupid! Who do we know reads old Muggle novels?”
Zelda and I looked at each other blankly.
“Who do we know is obsessed with Shakespeare? Jane Austen? Every classic there is?”
Zelda and I looked at each other again.
A minute later, I sat with a quill and a piece of parchment. They talked me into writing the letter, since I apparently was the one who ‘knew him the best’. With my friends’ heads over my shoulder, I scribbled:
It’s Rosie. How’s your vacation going so far? Ours sucks. Yeah, we’re hardly two days in, and I feel like AK-ing myself. Basically, the girls and I REALLY need your help. You better not tell ANYONE about this, okay? Okay?
“Is it okay to let Lorcan in on it?” I asked Zelda. She nodded.
You can tell Lorcan, but make sure to keep this a COMPLETE SECRET! If Jag finds out, he’ll chop our heads off and stick them on pikes like that vampire dude used to. So you’re wondering exactly WHY I’m being so uptight, right? Well, Zelda, Xander, and I, we’re on a quest to find out who Jag’s dad is—or was. You know the old story—how he never had a father and all that crap—and we’re visiting his house right now, so we thought it’d be interesting to snoop around a bit. You know. Friendly snooping.
A sudden thought rekindled inside my head, and I scribbled it down.
OMYMERLINBBQFUEAS, MALFOY’S LIVING WITH US! JAG’S MUM IS FRIENDS WITH HIS MUM! CAN YOU BELIEVE IT? WE’RE LIVING IN THE SAME US FOR A WEEK AND A HALF! KILL ME! KILL ME! KILL ME! KILL ME! KILL ME! KILL ME! KILL ME! KILL ME! KILL ME! KI—
“Rose, that’s enough,” Zelda said in a calm voice. Xander started laughing.
I stopped myself, taking a deep breath. “Okay. Right.”
Yeah, sorry ’bout that. Anyway, Malfoy’s mum is...well, she’s pretty awesome actually. I know, can you believe it? I just said that his mum was awesome. I mean, Ms. Greengrass is TOTALLY ON MY SIDE! I’m not joking, Lys, when Malfoy and I are arguing like usual, she always agrees with me! AND she likes Shakespeare, Jane Austen, Lord of the Rings, all that stuff.
So, back to Jag. Yesterday, I was talking with Ms. Greengrass about books and stuff and some other unrelated stuff, and she mentioned something about the PHANTOM OF THE OPERA. Apparently, Jag’s mum, Irene, is OBSESSED with Phantom of the Opera, but Ms. Greengrass didn’t tell me why!
So, a few minutes ago, the girls and I were discussing about it. We think that Jag’s dad was the Phantom, and his mum (who used to be and actress on stage) was the girl…like in the book. We can’t ask Irene, (that would be awkward), or Jag (Jesus, the guy’s touchy) or Ms. Greengrass (she’s Malfoy’s mum).
So, we’re coming to you. What do you know about the Phantom of the Opera? Can you help us out here?
REMEMBER, DON’T TELL ANYONE!
Xander took the quill from me.
p.s. Hi Lyssy! It’s Xander! I wanna get some snoopin done, kay, so reply!!!
I gave to quill to Zelda. “You want to add something?”
Zelda’s expression tightened. She took the quill from me and bent over the paper, hiding what she wrote. After she was done, she stood up and walked out of the door, saying, “I’ll see if Irene has an owl to spare.”
Xander and I watched dumbly as she disappeared out of the room. We heard her footsteps receding down the stairs.
“What did she say to Lysander?”
I frowned. “Dunno, mate. Her hand was covering the writing.”
Xander shot me side-look, and then lowered her voice into a whisper, even though there wasn’t anyone around to overhear us. “It’s probably something to do with…you know.”
I got the hint. “Her parents?” I muttered in a quiet voice. “Must be. Lysander’s read plenty of books about girls forced into arranged marriages and the like.”
“They can’t force her. It’s forbidden by the Ministry!”
“Well…” I racked my brains for a good word to describe what Zelda’s parents could do. “They could coerce her.”
“Isn’t that the same thing?”
I rolled my eyes. “Whatever. They could blackmail her, they could—”
“Zelda would never listen to them!” Xander protested indignantly.
I nodded slowly. “I know. She’s too strong to bend to anyone’s will. But I wouldn’t put anything past her parents, though. They’re a sinister lot—”
“Jesus, remember her mum’s hair? I mean, it looked like she was a blond who dipped her head into a tar pit. And she wore way too much white powder on her face. I mean, seriously, do all pureblood woman fancy going around looking like Morticia Addams and-or Cruella De Vil?”
“All the evil pureblood women do.” I pointed out, “Irene doesn’t. And…Ms. Greengrass doesn’t.”
“Malfoy’s mum doesn’t what?” Zelda walked into the room, her hands tucked into her jacket pockets. “I sent the letter with one of Irene’s owls. I nearly had to beat Jag away from reading it.”
“Where’s Al?” I asked, thinking that it was a little odd that Zelda didn’t have to beat my cousin away too.
Zelda grinned. “He’s having a constipated showdown with Malfoy.”
“What—?”I started to demand, but then I changed my mind. “Forget it. I’m going down there.”
I took the stairs two at a time, and made a beeline for the hallway that led to the kitchen. I heard odd noises emanating from inside the kitchen, actually. It sounded like:
I stepped into the kitchen, saw the spectacle, and resisted the desire to roll my eyes.
Al and Malfoy were having a really macho, muscley arm-wrestling match. They were seated across from each other at the granite table. Al was wearing an old white wife-beater, and his biceps were straining and bulging like melons as he gripped Malfoy’s fist in an iron grip. Malfoy had on the same pair of black pajamas he had on last night when I pied him. He grunted as he struggled to keep his fist vertical, battling against my cousin’s brute strength. His arm wasn’t as built as Al’s, but more sinewy and lean.
“Oi, Rose, stop staring at Malfoy and come help me!”
“Hah! So, you need help from a girl to—grrrr—beat me, Potter?”
“Did you just growl?” I asked him incredulously. He ignored me, but grimaced as he put even more pressure into his fist.
“Potty— those melons are so not cool!”
“That’s ‘cos you got none!”
It was astounding how truly sad men creatures could become. Since I really didn’t want a drop in IQ from listening to their brainless banter, I walked over to where Irene, Ms. Greengrass—and a disgruntled-looking Jag—were sitting at the kitchen counter. Sounds of Al and Malfoy’s grunts and growls still reached my ears.
“Whup his ass, Al!” Jag shouted, craning his neck to the current stage of the match.
“Can you not stop them, son?” Irene asked exasperatedly, massaging her forehead. She, predictably, had a mug of steaming coffee in front of her. Jag’s mouth twitched, and he didn’t bother to answer. Ms. Greengrass saw me and smiled.
“Good morning, Rose.”
“How was your night?” Irene asked, sounding downright like a hostess. “Did you sleep well?”
“Er…” I shot a look at Ms. Greengrass, who was now studiously pretending that she hadn’t heard the question. Instead, she was yelled something to Malfoy.
“Scorpius! Give it a break, for Merlin’s sake!”
“Oh, honestly,” I muttered to myself. Hmm, seems like I have to take this matter into my own hands. Malfoy had somehow managed to keep their fists parallel to the table, even though 1) he was red in the face and sweating like he’d just ran five times around the Quidditch bleachers, and 2) Al was stronger and had about a hundred more melons than him. I lit the tip of my wand with a small Inferno Charm, sneaked up behind Malfoy, and poked him in the arm with it. He jerked in pain and surprise, allowing Al to slam his hand into the table. “And the winner is ALBUS POTTER!” I crowed, jumping back before Malfoy could make a swipe at me.
“Nice!” Xander said, giggling as she bounced into the kitchen with Zelda trailing behind her. “So, when are we headin’ to Harrods?”
“Never,” I groaned.
“What?” Zelda asked, looking blank.
“Harrods. It’s this enormous Muggle shopping place,” Xander informed her happily.
“Costs a bloody fortune, too,” I added in a grumble. “We’re not all rich, like you people.”
Irene waved a hand. “Don’t worry. Everything is on me, girls!”
I looked at her in surprise. Xander started spazzing out in delight. “REALLY?”
Al’s eyes had widened. “Do we have to go, Ir—um, I mean, Madam Jagneaux?”
“Watch it, you prat,” Jag scowled. He shot Al a look that clearly said: Don’t call my mum by her first name, moron.
Al tried again. “We don’t have to come, do we?”
Xander fixed him with The Look. “What about ‘All-Girl Shopping Spree’ do you not understand, Albus?”
“Oh, he can come along,” I said decisively. “We’ll dress him up!”
Al exchanged an alarmed look with Jag, and then they both sprinted out of the room at the speed of light.
The girls and I slapped high-fives. “They are so never going to live Halloween down,” laughed Xander.