Chapter 10 : The Hero and the Villain
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Lucy leaned against the balcony in her room, staring out at the fading sunlight. She couldn’t bear to wait inside the house with the rest of the family. Some of the other guests had arrived, but she didn’t care to go down and speak with them. Finally, she saw him approaching in the distance, his usual black ensemble visible for miles. She breathed a sigh of relief.
Severus, along with several of his friends, had been invited by Lucius to have dinner with the Malfoy family. On the surface, it appeared to be a casual evening with family associates. Lucy was no fool, though. The young men in attendance had surely been carefully chosen, as per the terms of Lucius’s mission from the Dark Lord. Tonight was just another attempt at recruitment.
Wearing a little black dress, her usual uniform for the few times a year she lived at home, Lucy came quietly down the stairs, brushing past Avery and Mulciber to greet her boyfriend. She immediately took his hand, earning a curious glance from her mother and father, to whom she still hadn’t broken the news about Sirius.
“Glad you could make it.” She said quietly. She meant it more seriously than it sounded.
“Yeah, of course.” His soft reply soothed her nerves slightly.
Crabbe and Goyle, two extremely large and ugly boys from Lucy’s year, entered the room, signaling that it was time for dinner. Everyone sat down around the long dining table as the French onion soup was ladled into small bowls and placed at each setting. Lucy sipped from her spoon, keeping one eye on Severus as the dinner conversation commenced. Lucius took turns quizzing each gentleman on his traits and talents, taking a moment between interviews to eat a bite or two and try to commit the details to memory for his report to the Dark Lord.
“Severus, I heard you were apprenticing under Jiggers.” He began.
Severus glanced up from the chicken he’d been slowly working on. “Yes, that’s right.”
“Severus is quite skilled in Potions, among other things.” Lucius explained to his parents. “He’s been working with Jiggers for a year, and he’ll continue this year. It’s quite prestigious.” He looked back at Severus. “Think you’ll make a career out of it, then?”
Severus looked at him blankly. “Yes, that is the goal.” He stated. Wasn’t it obvious?
“Not a lot of money in that, though.” Abraxas Malfoy commented, glancing at Severus disdainfully. “You’d be better off looking for Ministry work, like Lucius.”
Undaunted, Severus took a sip of his drink. “Perhaps, but my work with Jiggers will pave the way for me to find a number of valuable career opportunities.” He said. “My skills will be incredibly marketable. When it comes time to select a position, I can choose a high-paying one.”
“How long have you and Lucy been together?” Drusilla Malfoy cut in.
“Mother.” Lucy said quietly, but the woman shot her a cold look.
“Erm…” Severus looked like he might faint. “About a year and a half, now.”
“Really?” Drusilla trilled. “So funny, we thought she was going to marry Sirius Black.”
Lucy scooted back a bit in her chair. “Excuse me.” She said softly, standing up and escaping upstairs to her private bathroom. Once there, she leaned against the sink and stared into the mirror, taking deep breaths and attempting to slow her racing heartbeat.
Suddenly, Lucius’s image appeared in the mirror, where he stood behind her.
“Having a good dinner, sis?” He smirked, coming to stand next to her.
“Can’t you just leave me alone?” She hissed, glaring at him.
“Oh, what’s the matter?” He smirked. “I think they like him.”
“I don’t care what they think of him. You, either.” She looked back at the mirror.
“You’re right. It doesn’t matter.”
She turned, looking surprised.
“I mean, once he hears all the dirty things you did with Black, he won’t want you anyway.”
“Stop!” Lucy grabbed his arm, preventing him from leaving. “Please.”
“You take your hands off me.” Lucius growled, his eyes growing dark. But he never gave her the chance. With a swift motion, he knocked her to the ground. She felt her body hit the expensive marble floor, shattering the corner of a loose tile, and then everything went black.
“Can you hear me?”
She could hear his voice, but it sounded so far away. As he continued to query her, it came closer and closer until she finally opened her eyes. Severus was sitting right next to her.
“Hey.” He said softly. “Are you okay?”
She groaned in response and tried to sit up, but the pain in her body brought her back to bed.
“Don’t try to move.” He added. “Give the pain potion time to work.”
Lucy laid still obediently, but her eyes still roamed around the room. She didn’t recognize the faded cream curtains or brass furnishings. There was another bed on the other side of the room, and next to it, an old lamp rested on an end table. There were two doors, one closed and the other cracked open just enough to reveal that it led into a tiny bathroom.
“Where are we?” She asked finally.
“A hotel.” He said, applying a warm cloth to her arm.
She felt a sharp pain and looked down, startled to see purple bruises beginning to appear.
“You were gone for a long time.” He explained without being prompted. “I went upstairs before dessert to check on you and caught your brother slapping you around. I tried to get your parents to help, but they didn’t seem to care. They just excused their guests so as to avoid a scene.” His expression darkened. “I told them I wanted to take you with me. They agreed to it.”
She blinked, looking at him. Suddenly, she remembered Lucius’s warning. Either he hadn’t been told any of the dirt Lucius supposedly had on her, or he simply didn’t care. Why else would he still be there?
“We can stay here for a couple of days and then catch the train back to school.” He continued. “I’ll sleep over there, and you can stay here. I’ve got enough money to get us meals at the pub downstairs, so don’t worry about that. And I’ve got all your things from home here too.”
Lucy glanced over at the closet, where he had left her schoolbag and a trunk of clothes. She then looked back at him, watching him diligently tend to her wounds. “Thank you.” She said softly.
“You’re welcome.” He replied. “It’s no trouble. I like having time away from my family, too.”
She offered him a slight smile, which he returned.
“Potion must’ve kicked in.” He joked gently. “Come on, now, try to get some rest.”
She drifted off to sleep, and didn’t wake up until the middle of the night. She looked over to see him relaxing in his bed, flipping through a textbook. “Hey.” She called quietly.
He glanced up, getting out of bed and coming over to her. “You okay?” He asked.
“Yeah, it’s just—” She stood up gingerly, and he allowed it, though he watched her carefully. “I’m a little cold.” She whispered, and then she pressed her lips to his. As they kissed, he hesitantly held her waist, but Lucy, having more faith in her strength, pulled him firmly back toward her bed. It wasn’t really big enough for two, but what did it matter?
The moment his lips moved from her mouth to her neck, the pain in her body disappeared.
This time, the daylight greeted her as she stirred, the sheets twisted around her slender form. She brushed a stray piece of hair out of her face and looked around, putting one foot carefully on the floor. As soon as she put weight on it, however, the pain returned. Groaning, she turned to the sleeping boy next to her. “Think you might go down and get breakfast soon?”
He turned over in his sleep, and she saw an ugly black mark on his left arm.
She wasn’t stupid. She knew what it was. Her father and brother both had them.
He opened his eyes slowly to find her staring at him in horror. “What?”
“I thought he was trying to recruit you.” She said, shocked.
“What?” He followed her eyes to his tattoo. “Lucy, it’s nothing—”
“Nothing?” She almost shrieked. “Do you even know what that means, Sev?” She gathered the sheets up around her, as if physically covering herself could protect her from the mark.
“Of course I do.” He said calmly, and then he sighed. “You’re right. It’s not nothing.”
She didn’t move.
“Don’t freak out, please.” He reached for her hand, and she very hesitantly let him touch her. “I know you think it’s awful, but he can protect us. I’ll take care of you, I promise.”
“What makes you think he would ever want to help anyone?” She spat.
“Lucy, I’ve been afraid my whole life.” He said firmly. “Afraid of my father, afraid of Black and Potter… this is my chance to actually make something of myself.” He looked at her. “I need this.”
She continued to stare at him, but she saw something different now. He was trying very hard to be defiant, to lay down the law with her, but his vulnerability leaked through. She could see him struggling to make her trust what he was saying. She could see the fear he spoke of in his eyes now, fear about losing her. She could see how desperate he was. I need this… I need you, too.
“Okay.” She whispered, warily taking her eyes off the tattoo and moving into his arms.
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