Chapter 9 : Standing Ground
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I didn’t have any doubts about what I was doing when I stepped into the fireplace on that Friday. I was going to tell my mother once and for all that I wouldn’t be babied, I wouldn’t accept her acting as real any longer, and that if she wasn’t truly in love with this man, I wouldn’t have anything to do with her anymore.
I hated the idea of never having that mother-figure in my life, but really, I hadn't had one for the past six years of my life, what made this any different. I hardly heard from her, I hardly EVER saw her. This would be the first time I would see my birth mother in the last two years. Strange though that I hadn't had the compulsion before this moment to call her out on her shit and tell her that this wasn’t a real mother-daughter relationship. If she wanted me in her life, as her daughter, she had to take me in more than just small doses.
I saw my father more often than I saw my mother, and I would rather see a lot less of him. It would be a much less stressful way to live my life, though I doubted my mother’s life was any less hectic. She was an actress and actresses’ lives were always busy, whether they wanted them to be or not.
But still, my mother would find the time to see me this weekend or she would lose all future experiences with me. I didn’t want to be my parents’ estranged daughter, but if they pushed me away who was I to push back. I just hoped that I didn’t regret that loss one day. There would probably be times when I wouldn’t like being without a mother, but it would be better than her popping in and out of my life unexpectedly, and probably at the most inconvenient times.
If I was arriving at an inconvenient time for Madalynn Corey then maybe she’d know how I felt every time she swept into my life at random moments.
I took a deep breath as I stepped into McGonagall’s office fireplace and then dropped the handful of Floo Powder, saying my mother’s Australia address and then POOF I was off.
I reached my destination in mere seconds and stepped out of my mother’s fireplace (a necessity in every witch’s household, even if she didn’t light fires) and then through the Clean Screen (also a must-have to any fashionable high-society runner). The floors were a cool white tile that covered the entire expansive open-concept house. To my right was the living area with red and black sofas with matching pillows, expensive oak furnishings and décor to match. To my left was a half wall that lead into the kitchen of black and stainless-steel appliances that I’m sure my mother never touched. I walked past both to where the sliding-doors were opening out onto a large flag-stone patio that encompassed a large oblong pool that glittered like crystal in the late Friday afternoon sun.
I slid the screen door and walked out. I could see my mother lounging on a chaise lounge underneath an umbrella and then just past her was the wet-bar, with a tall man standing behind, mixing up what looked like martinis. My mother’s favorite drink.
Neither one had noticed my entrance, but since I had been there before—once—the alarms hadn't gone off alerting them of my presence. So I stood there, willing myself to not tap my stiletto heel on the flagstones (shoes I had worn specifically because they made me taller than my 5’7” mother by an inch and a half. I waited.
The man behind the bar, whom I could only assume was Flynn Casey, my mother’s intended, looked up then and nearly sloshed the drinks all over the bar when he jumped at the sight of me. I bit my lip to stifle my laughter.
“What’s the matter, Flynn?” my mother’s voice drifted to my ears as she spoke. She saw Flynn’s startled look and then turned herself to see exactly what had startled him. Me. “Sadie!” she exclaimed, clearly as startled as Flynn had been. She flung to her feet and started towards me. Immediately I saw her annoyance flash into a bit smile. She was acting again.
“Mother,” I greeted her, not moving a muscle. She looked exactly the same as she had two years ago when I’d seen her. Her brown hair, the same shade as mine, was fashionably cut and I knew behind her sunglasses were the eyes that I had inherited from her. I was almost the spitting image of my mother only several years younger of course. While my mother didn’t exactly look her age, she did in fact look twenty years older than me, as she should.
She reached her arms out, “How lovely to see you!” She embraced me lightly, as if I were going to get germs on her or something. I made not gesture to hug her back. “Flynn,” she said, stepping aside to present me, “this is my daughter, Sadie.”
Flynn had since set the glasses down and come to stand on the other side of the bar. Then he came forward, out of the shade and I got a really good look at him. His hair was black with grays coming in on either side of his temples. He had a narrow but shapely nose and curved lips. He was tall, probably about 6 feet 2 inches with broad shoulders and he was by no means lean or chubby. He had nice features and I immediately distrusted him. Nobody that good-looking could be real. He held out his hand to me, and out of courtesy I took it. “Sadie, it’s nice to finally meet you. Madalynn always says she has a daughter but I was beginning to think she had made you up.” His blue eyes twinkled behind his dark lashes.
“She talks about me?” I inquired politely, briefly pondering over the fact of what else my mother could possibly have made up about me.
He inclined his head, “Every now and again. There is also a picture of you on her bedside table. You were younger then of course, about ten or eleven, but still, the resemblance is remarkable.”
Well now that was surprising. I guess I had missed that little artifact when I was here two years ago. A picture of me on her bedside table? When had my mother gotten so sentimental?
“Do you live here?” I asked Flynn, disregarding polite small-talk and getting right to the balls of the matter, as it were.
Flynn chuckled and I sneaked a sideways glance to find my mother looking rather uncomfortable. Good, I hoped I made her sweat a little bit. Flynn shook his head, “No I have a place in the city. It doubles as my production studio at the same time, so it’s very convenient.”
“Mother said you’re a director?” I asked, still trying to get a feel for this guy. He was unusual and not at all how I had pictured him. He was also just wearing a short-sleeve polo-T and blue cut-off jeans. Definitely not my mother’s thing.
“Yes, I direct, but I dabble in pretty much anything with regards to the stage or fine arts. I’m also a successful painter though only locally.”
Interesting. While it should sound like bragging, it didn’t sound like that at all. I would reserve my judgment until later about Mr. Flynn Casey, until I got to know him better, but I was getting good vibes, and that was a good start. But still my mother looked uncomfortable.
“What’s wrong Mum?” I asked sweetly.
Her eyes snapped to me and I saw a moment’s panic (I was getting much better at reading her) before it smoothed over and she lied through her teeth. “Nothing dear. This is just such a surprise. Shall I make up the spare room for you? Are you staying the night?”
“Yes please. You aren’t busy right?” I watched closely for tell-tale signs of her lies and caught a few; the vein pulsing in her temple, the shaky smile that quivered up and down when she didn’t say anything.
She was confident in her acting however, which made her such a good pretender. “I actually have a gala tonight I must attend, but you’re free to stay the night. I suppose Flynn and I will be back tomorrow morning some time,” she looked at Flynn for affirmation…and yet got none.
“Madalynn, you don’t need to attend tonight. It will probably bore you anyway,” Flynn told her calmly, coming over and putting his arm around her, making her look much smaller than she actually was. “Stay here with your daughter—catch up—I’m sure you two have lots to discuss.”
I raised my eyebrows as I saw my mother first twitch at the idea but then settle into Flynn’s big arms. Brownie points to Flynn Casey, I decided. Here was a man who tore at my mother’s cool and collected exterior and poked and prodded at her gooey interior. I knew my mother had always been a softie, I was exactly like her in that sense, but I had never actually witnessed it before.
She turned from looking at him to looking at me again. “Of course I’ll stay,” she nodded. She looked upset about it, but said nothing more on the subject.
Oh mommy-dearest, what have you gotten yourself into? I thought. She had been all excited about marrying Flynn when I talked to her last Saturday night, and now she looked extremely nervous. It was time for me to poke and prod at that exterior and see what I could draw from her.
Racquel saw the dark and foreboding look that Draco was casting across the Great Hall at her and rolled her eyes. He had been looking over her way every five minutes for the last hour, no doubt looking for Sadie who was obviously not going to show up. She didn’t know what his problem was, but he was starting to irritate her. Didn’t Sadie tell him she was going away for the weekend?
Come to think of it, Sadie hadn't mentioned anything about Draco the last few days before she left. It was like the night she had spent with Racquel had erased him from her memory. And yet…Racquel knew Sadie was sneakier than that. She must have been hiding the fact that she and Draco had had a fight. Secretly Racquel was smiling, but outwardly she was frowning. What had Draco done to Sadie?
She got up, said goodbye to Hermione, whom she had been lunching with in Sadie’s absence, and glared at Draco as she walked out of the Great Hall. With any luck…
There, the fast-paced thump of shoes on the floor behind her alerted her to his presence. She spun around in a little alcove to face him. “What did you do to Sadie?”
Draco glowered at her. “What did I do to HER?” he scoffed. He was clearly upset, Racquel noticed. But he was also frustrated.
She crossed her arms in front of her chest. “She’s really gotten you all worked up, hasn’t she?”
“No!” he lied.
She couldn’t help herself, but she soon found herself smiling at him. “You can’t lie worth shit,” she pointed out. “But that’s fine. I’m sure you’ll work it out.”
“I don’t want to work it out!” he yelled and pushed Racquel up against the alcove wall. “She’s a bitch!”
Racquel was taken aback but she it took her a second to recover and she pushed him right back. “Listen, Malfoy, don’t push me. Nobody pushes me!”
“Ugh, you’re just like Sadie,” once he’d regained his footing from Racquel’s little shove.
It dawned on her just then what was really going on. Draco had probably pushed Sadie, if not physically then mentally, and knowing Sadie, she pushed right back. Now instead of feeling sorry for the bastard for being bitten bad by the love-bug, she was pissed at him for trying to shove her best friend around.
She grabbed onto the front of his robes and whirled him around, his full body weight heaving into the stone wall that had initially been behind her. He spun and had his wand out in seconds. Racquel was quicker however and had her wand pointed at his temple. “Listen, scum, Sadie has lived her whole life under her parent’s thumbs, and I thought that you, of all people, would understand what that felt like! But I guess like father, like son. You are no better than him, constantly pushing people down, trying to control them! And while I’m glad you finally met your match in Sadie Morris, I also know that if you continue to be such an ignorant asshole you are never going to win her!”
“Who says I want to win her?!” he flung back at her.
Racquel moved her wand-tip from his temple to underneath his chin, forcing him to look directly into her eyes. “I may be blond, Draco, but I’m not stupid. You have been looking for her, even though she told you to get lost. Well she’s not actually on Hogwarts grounds right now, so good luck! But when she gets back and she finally tells me what went down between you two, if she doesn’t want you, I don’t want you near her. And you can bet your skinny pathetic ass that I’m going to stand behind her every step of the way, got it?”
His eyes flashed something akin to surprise though it was too brief to make any measurable dent in Racquel’s fierce anger. “She didn’t tell you about our fight?” Draco muttered.
Racquel rolled her eyes. Draco really was pathetic sometimes. “No, she didn’t. I took her away from you that one night and you flipped shit, didn’t you? And when you did that she wriggled free and flung every back at you. She’s gotten her act together and has gone to see her mother this weekend.”
“Yes, her mother, not that you need to know. But because I think you’re feeble right now, I’m going to tell you.”
“I don’t wanna—”
“Well that’s too bad, because I’m gonna tell you. Her mother is a fake; a liar, and for her entire life, Sadie has been force-fed crap. She’s never known anything true in her life except for this place. Her father is a manipulative bastard, which I’m sure you’re aware of, and she hasn’t had it all that easy. She doesn’t have to choose between life and death like you, but she knows what it’s like to feel as small as humanly possible. So, thumb off, and treat her with a little respect. Because you, Malfoy, are the only person who knows what it’s like and actually gives a damn!”
“I don’t—” he started.
“Oh shut up!” Racquel interrupted, pressing her wand over his grim lips. “Don’t lie to me! I am Sadie’s friend. So don’t lie to her either, or I will find you.” She took the wand away from him and took a step back.
“Threatening me, Laroche?” Despite the comment, Draco almost smiled.
Racquel gave the slightest smile in return. “Making a promise, Malfoy. There’s a difference when it comes to the people you care about.”
“Is that so?”
“Damn straight. Now get out of my sight, I’m sick of looking at you.” She stepped aside to let him pass and even as she said the harsh words she gave him a knowing look.
Nodding his head he walked past her and pocketed his wand. He wouldn’t cross her, no matter what demons he was fighting, both with his parents and with Sadie. Sadie meant too much to both of them and neither would let her get hurt.
A/N: Well, what did you think? More to come from Sadie and her Mum, and more to come from Draco, and Racquel of course. I'm really enjoying writing the characters of Sadie and Racquel. Having a lot of fun playing around with the character traits and exactly what makes them tick. Hope you're enjoying it and don't forget to leave a small little review. Also if you find any spelling mistakes, let me know, because I miss them even though I try not to. Thanks a million guys! ~K :D
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