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Chapter 2 : New Places, New Faces
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I whirled around, looking for the voice. It was most definitely coming from behind me.
My eyes fixed on a young man with sandy blond, wavy hair calling my name from across the train station. When he saw me looking, he began waving his hands and jumping into the air like an idiot. A grin crept onto my face.
“Henri! It’s so good to see you again,” I called back, squeezing through crowds as I made my way over to him.
Eight years had passed since the Final Battle, as they were calling it now. Eight years since the name “Draco” had been used when addressing me. I was unrecognizable. My hair was long and a deep brown, my eyes dark blue. Both done with magic, of course. I had to remember to renew the spell every second Friday. The one time I had forgotten, my hair began to rapidly change color as I sat in a restaurant, and I had to run terrifies into the bathroom to renew the spells. I noticed only because I was sitting in front of a mirror, but I never forgot after that incident.
I hadn’t missed my old life even once. It was almost completely wiped from my memory. I was happy with this new existence. No one ever looked down on me. Or call me “traitor”, “filth, “Death Eater”. And I was loving every moment of it.
I had been busy, these past eight years. I traveled all through Europe. From France to Spain to Italy to Romania, and back to France again. And many more after that. I had been to nearly every country in Europe.
Along the way, I had met and trained with some of the top Aurors and Hit Wizards in the world. To be honest, some of them scared the crap out of me. Some of the Aurors were so scarred with the remnants of countless battles. Especially the older ones. They never felt safe, never took anyone at face value. I had to be sure to hide my dark mark at all times- it was very faded and hard to see, so I didn’t worry so much around others, but the Aurors would take notice of it. I was sure of it. It made me pity Potter, in a strange sort of way. Wow, imagine that. Even after all these years, I couldn’t bring myself to think of him as anything but Potter.
The Hit Wizards were better. They were tough, fierce, but not as broken. They were kinder too, gentler. Meeting them was like meeting an old friend. Meeting an Auror was downright scary most of the time.
I realized, after meeting so many, that I could never be an Auror. It’s not the physical ability. That, I could gain easily. It was the mental toughness that each and every Auror must have. As much as I wished it wasn’t true, I knew that I would never have that ability.
After that realization, I stuck to meeting with hit wizards, the less elite force. I strived to become one of the best, and I did just that. After all, I was still a Slytherin, still ambitious. I became widely known, known as the wizard who would never settle down. I had declined offers from three separate Ministries of Magic: Romania, Turkey, and Portugal. I refused to join their ranks. Those countries never felt like home to me. I was happier traveling on my own.
But if I traveled so much, you might ask, how did I meet Henri? How did I make a friend when I never stayed too long in one place?
Henri was the secretary of the very first Hit Wizard I ever met with in France. When he met me, he took a liking to me. Actually, that’s an understatement. He latched onto me. Like a helpless little puppy, he followed me as I traveled through France. I had found him extremely annoying at first, always following me around, eager to please me. But he grew on me, becoming my only friend in this new life. It helped that he could speak English, too. He was my translator. And though I was reluctant to admit it, he was the main reason I regularly visited France. He offered to come with me on my travels, but I was happier doing that alone. So I came to France every few months, enjoying the presence company once more before I left again. Today, I was just getting back from a two month long trip to Poland and Germany.
I was ecstatic to see him.
“Will! I ‘ave ze best news!”
My grinned widened. Damn, it had been a while. “Is that right? Well…?”
He smirked. “Let’s go to ze ‘otel first.”
“Hold on a minute; you’re driving me? No, I refuse to go with you. I’m not interesting in holding my breath the entire way to the hotel. Your driving will never change.”
“Oh, come on. Eet’s not zat bad.”
“Yes, yes, it is. You drive. I’ll apparate to a back alley somewhere.” I turned to my left, looking for somewhere quiet to disapparate from.
He pouted. “I never even said zat I was driving.”
I stopped, looking mildly surprised. “Well, are you?”
“No. Zat brings me to ze first part of my news.”
“Er, okay.” I waited apprehensively, wondering if he had found a magic carpet or something. Maybe he won the lottery and hired a chauffeur.
Henri turned slightly, motioning behind him. The place was packed, but I didn’t see a man in a suit, nor did I see a carpet flying towards me.
That is, until a gorgeous French girl with silvery blond hair strutted up to us. She looked like the French girl, Fleur Delacour, from our fourth year. No, scratch that, she was even prettier than Fleur. Her eyes were a milky brown, flecked with gold, and they called out to me. “I’m vulnerable,” they seemed to say. “Come help me.”
My mouth nearly fell open. Who was she?
But it was nothing compared to the shock I felt when she kissed Henri’s cheek lightly and draped her arm over his shoulder.
He grinned sheepishly, squeezing her free hand in his own. “Will, I’d like you to meet Odette… my wife.”
This time, I was unable to keep my jaw from dropping. Married? I spluttered nonsense for a minute, trying to reconnect my brain with my mouth. “What the hell?” I said finally.
Henri looked slightly affronted. “Well, erm…”
I waved him away, regaining my bearings at last. “Sorry. It’s just that I go away for two months, leaving you single and loving it, and I come back to see you MARRIED?”
I rolled my eyes, turning instead to Odette as I remembered my manners. “Hello,” I said as calmly as I could. “I’m Will. It’s nice to meet you.”
She stared at me blankly.
“Oh, sorry, I forgot to tell you zat she doesn’t speak English,” Henri broke in. He said something to her in rapid French, which I assumed was a translation of my words. He could be telling her tomorrow’s weather for all I knew, but I caught my name in there. She replied in equally quick French, with a voice to match her beauty. It was clear and melodic, like the trill of a bird.
“She says zat she’s ‘eard all about you, so it’s nice to meet you at last.”
I raised my eyebrows, talking to Henri this time. “Is that true?”
He grinned at me. “I may ‘ave mentioned you one or two times… per day.”
I rolled my eyes again, but this time at delight of being back with him. I really had missed him while I was gone. Remembering what we were talking about before this, I changed the subject. “So what does this have to do with driving?”
“Oh. Well Odette some’ow agrees wiz you about my driving skills, so she always drives when we’re togezer.”
I breathed a sigh of relief. “Thank god! Shall we go then?”
Henri said something in French to his wife. The word felt strange. I still couldn’t get used to saying that. She nodded, making yet another comment that I couldn’t understand.
Bloody hell, that was going to get annoying. Note to self; learn French. Wishing I knew the language, I waited for her to start walking, then grabbed Henri and pulled him back a few steps and whispered in his ear.
“Is she a witch?”
“Of course. I met ‘er at ze Ministry.”
Relaxing, and slightly confused as to what kind of job a woman like that would do, I began walking. I hated trying to hide magic. It made life bothersome and I had to use so much more effort to do simple things. Not to mention that was about eighty percent of any chance of conversation gone.
Several minutes later, the three of us were lounging in plush leather armchairs. I only stayed in the very best of hotels, no matter where I went.
How was this though? I didn’t work. I didn’t earn money. So how was I still living in luxury?
My mother and father still supported me. When I first decided to leave, I simply had my name added to the Gringotts List of Owl Orders. The Goblins would send me fifty galleons each month, which I could then convert to Muggle money if I needed- I had become quite good at using it. Of course, even my money supply wasn’t everlasting. So after seven months, my money was getting dreadfully low, and I was starting to worry. But on the first day of the eighth month, two hundred galleons were transferred into my account. I was shocked. After using some connections and asking around, I found that it was from my father’s vault.
I was immensely grateful. Don’t get me wrong. But I never wrote to thank them. In my defense, they never wrote to me either. Afterwards though, every four months, another two hundred galleons would be transferred into my account. This suited me perfectly. I never had to worry about getting a job, and even better, I saved about ten to fifteen galleons each month. Enough that I could live on it for a while if the money ever stopped coming.
So I still lived in luxury. Quite honestly, I couldn’t imagine living any other way.
I ordered a bottle of champagne from the hotel’s extensive menu for us to celebrate with. The conversation was extremely awkward in any case. Henri had to translate between me and Odette, making the conversation feel strangely broken and disrupted.
Gradually, Odette drifted away from the conversation and let me and Henri catch up. I couldn’t help but be glad. She was a sweet enough girl, but I had missed Henri and really just wanted to talk with him.
Even so, we ended up talking about Odette. She came in looking for work, and of course was given a job. Who wouldn’t hire a girl like her? It just so happened that she became Henri’s personal assistant. And he fell hard. Again, who wouldn’t? Surprisingly, she fell for him as well. They dated for a month and a half, and Henri decided to propose then and there. He didn’t want to wait, not when they were that in love. It was a quiet affair, in a small church in the heart of Paris. It was over in less than an hour.
I couldn’t deny that I was happy for them. Odette made Henri so happy. His entire face was different. Even the smirk he got when she laid her hand on top of his or touched his foot with her toe spoke of pure joy. I could almost feel the love radiating from every pore in his body. Just by looking at them, you could tell that they were in love.
After sipping champagne in silence for a while, Odette excused herself to use the bathroom. She slinked past us, planting a kiss on Henri’s forehead as she went.
He grinned at me. Actually, he had never stopped grinning through the evening.
“Blimey, mate,” I said weakly.
“She’s great, isn’t she?”
“S’pose so. Gorgeous, that’s for sure.”
“I know. And she’s all mine.”
I hesitated, finally deciding to say what I had been holding inside all this time. “Y-You don’t think you just married her because of… y’know… because of-”
“ ‘er looks?” He finished for me, his voice attaining a slightly rude tone. “ ‘ow could you even zink zat? She may be beautiful, but she’s also sweet and kind. I love ‘er with all my ‘eart.”
I raised my hands in a gesture of peace. “Sorry. It’s just that it was so quick.”
“Just drop it. Okay?”
We sat in silence for a few more minutes, the air in the room suddenly feeling much colder, until Odette returned and turned to face Henri. She bent near his ear and whispered something, her lips trailing against his cheek.
I fidgeted uncomfortably. I didn’t even see the point in being so secretive. I couldn’t understand what she was saying even if she screamed it in my face. It just made me feel excluded- like they were whispering secrets about me. I looked away, trying to focus on something else, though the arrogant Draco part of me wanted to make a snide comment. The Will part of me pushed it down though. It always pushed the Draco out of the way.
Henri turned to me apologetically. “Odette was just reminding me of a dinner commitment we made a while back. We should be going now. She thanks you for ze excellent champagne and company.”
I tried to hide my disappointment. I hungered for friendly company. He had known I was coming back today the day I left. So why would he make other plans? I racked my brains for something to get him to stay. There had to be something.
“But didn’t you have some other news to tell me about?” I said finally.
Henri’s face lit up briefly, until he looked at his wife, and then it fell. He sighed, seeming to understand that he couldn’t tell me all about it. He took an envelope from an inside pocket of his coat and handed it to me.
“This is it. I urge you to just think about it. Please. It shouldn’t be like the others.”
The others? What?
Henri looked awkwardly between me and Odette, finally taking her hand and avoiding my gaze. He raised a hand in my direction, opened his mouth to speak, then closed it again, swallowing heavily. He led her out, not looking back.
“Bye,” I said softly, my eyes shifting to the envelope in front of me. It was plain white, with no indication of who or where it was from. Only my name was written on it in a curly script. I vaguely heard the door shut as I ripped it open and took the letter out.
It was from the French Ministry of Magic.
A/N: Hi guys! First of all, let me say that I was ecsatic at the reception I got on the first chapter of this. You guys are amazing, and thank you so much to everyone who gave me those fabulous reviews. There was definitely a change in style in this chapter, so I hope everyone liked that. But I won't know until you tell me. :P So thanks again to everyone who read this, and I hope this chapter lived up to your expectations!
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