Chapter 22 : 22. All Fall Down
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It was a typical Sunday, exactly one week before the Big Day (codename for the christening), when everything seemed to come crashing down.
It all began the moment I opened the Daily Prophet, with a slap-happy Goose slobbering on my knee, I choked on my coffee.
Our eager and talented reporter, Rita Skeeter, has once again revealed yet another shocking truth; the truth about an illegitimate daughter he abandoned as he succeeded with his own career. 'No comments' and 'I will not discuss this matter with the press!' are the two sentences the Minister himself has said, leaving the people to doubt his way of dealing with things. With the election coming up, is this the way the Minister wants to campaign? The true identity of the illegitimate daughter is yet unsolved, but speculations are flying wildly around - is this the reason the Minister (voted as the 'Magical Bachelor' three years in a row) and Miss Felicia Hunt recently broke up?
Is his political career ruined forever along with his blossoming love life?
I stared at the article in shock. I knew most of the things Rita Skeeter wrote were absolute rubbish - but this was too close to the truth.
In fact, it was quite head-on.
But surely it wasn't the reason he broke up with Felicia, right? Surely she didn't know about me, surely she--
Nick wouldn't have--
He couldn't have--
No, don't be ridiculous, Susie.
I dropped my cup of coffee, making Goose run out form the kitchen in fright. Theo blinked a few times, as he quickly scanned the article in front of me. He sighed heavily, shaking his head. "Vultures," he growled.
Suddenly, the doorbell rang, and both of us glanced at each other. "I'll get it," Theo finally said, as I remained frozen in my seat. After a moment, Theo re-appeared in the kitchen, looking harrassed, and followed by a sturdy man. His hair was dark and long, his eyes even darker. The moment he saw me, he smiled a polite smile, making chills run down my spine.
Who was this man?
"What's going on?" I demanded, my eyes flying from Theo to the man, and back to Theo.
"Marcus Valois," he introduced himself before Theo could utter a word. "The Minister of Magic has provided me for your protection."
"What, like a human shield?" I snorted, shaking my head. "Thanks, but no thanks - I don't need protection, I'm quite capable of--"
"Yes, yes, yes," he said, waving my comment off with his hand. "I'm sure you are capable - the question is; is your son capable of protecting himself?" I stared at him in shock for a moment, as a smug smirk appeared on his handsome face. "Don't forget that you're protecting two rather valuable individuals."
And just then, a baby's cry cut the tense silence, making all of us jump in fright.
"Ah, that must be the little devil himself," Marcus said, already moving towards the crying baby in the bedroom.
I didn't even realize how quickly I had moved, but before I knew it, I had the baby in my arms, and glared daggers at Marcus.
"Take one more step closer," I warned him, narrowing my eyes. "And I will put the dog on you!"
Marcus glanced at Goose, who sat obediently next to me, drool dripping on the floor. He looked back up at me, as Theo ever so smoothly shoved himself past him - accidentally.on-purpose giving Marcus a hard shove - and placed himself in front of me, his wand already pulled out.
"I think you should leave," he said shortly.
I peered from behind Theo to look at Marcus. "Tell my dad that he can shove the whole protection thing up his arse."
Something flickered on Marcus' face - maybe amusement? - before he nodded, and took a step back. "Consider it done, miss," he murmured, giving a short nod. "We'll meet again."
Theo and I both watched in silence, as Marcus left the apartment. We didn't dare to move, not until we heard the door close behind him. I rested my head against Theo's tense back, letting out a sigh of relief. "Merlin's beard..." I sighed, shaking my head.
"My thoughts exactly," Theo agreed, slowly putting an arms around me. "It's fine now, though..."
I glanced up at him. "Were you really going to hurt him?"
Theo looked down at me, before a huge grin appeared on his face. "To be honest, I couldn't think of a single hex!"
I grinned back, and the baby let out a small giggle. We both looked down at the baby, completely astonished. "Did he just--" I stammered.
"I think he did," Theo whispered, as the baby grabbed my index finger, giving it a squeeze.
"He's a smart one," I cooed, smiling at the baby. "Oh yes, you are, yes, you are...!"
"Remember the other day when you told me to let you know when you're starting to become one of those people who talk to a baby like it's stupid?" Theo said calmly.
"Yeah?" I said, unable to look away from the baby.
"Well, it's happening right now."
"Oh, bugger off, Theo!"
"She's not going to do it."
"Sure she is - did you see the amount of coffee she drank this morning?"
"Five galleons that she'll bail at last minute."
"Ten galleons she won't!"
I was painfully aware of my friends actually betting over my courage right behind me. Em was dead sure that I wouldn't actually burst into the Minister of Magic's office, yell at him like a crazy person, and then finally hex him to oblivion. Theo, naturally, believed I would go through with my threat.
To be honest, I didn't look forward to all those years I would sit in Azkaban for killing the Minister of Magic. But it probably would be totally worth it, all considered. I mean, yes, I would probably make a bad example of how a parent should behave, yes, but I'm sure I would be understood if I could make my point clear. Theo and Em would take care of the baby, I--
I stopped so suddenly that Theo and Em both bumped into me, giving me a startled look.
"What's--" Theo began, following my stare. "Oh," he merely said, as he saw what I had seen.
There he stood, all dashing and charming, leaning casually against the wall next to the elevator. Ernie sat behind his desk, as always, looking grim. He eyed Marcus with a look of distaste, before greeting us with a small nod. He then turned back to his paper, which had the latest news and gossips of Nick and his 'abandoned child'.
"What are you doing here?" I demanded, as I walked briskly towards Marcus, not even glancing at him, as I punched the elevator button angrily.
"Is this him?" Em said, following me with Theo hot on her heels.
"Yes," Theo and I chorused, exchanging a quick glance.
"Wow, he's hot!" Em hissed to me, her eyes wide.
Leave it to Em to ignore the obvious problem and only concentrate on superficial things such as--
"I'm here to witness a grand mistake," Marcus interrupted my thoughts, shrugging.
"Oh?" I said, as the four of us entered the elevator. "I can't wait to hear this!"
"You're planning on parading into your father's office, go all nuclear on him for hiring me for your own protection, and then leave the scene without a scar, correct?"
I stared at him, my mouth open. "How--"
"You forget that I know everything," he said smugly, shrugging again.
I wanted to rip off his shoulders, and--
"Also, you're very predictable."
"What do you expect me to do? Just sit calmly in a corner and smile?"
"What exactly do you expect to get out of all this, then?" he shot back, looking down at me. "I'm sorry, Miss Susan, but you're a very dense girl."
"OI!" Theo called out, as Em gasped.
"Oh no you didn't!" she said.
"People are more than curious about the Minister of Magic right now," he said calmly, looking right into my eyes. "What conclusion do you think they will make when you waltz into his office, make a huge scene, and leave like the diva you think you are? Life is not as simple as you think, Susan!"
I know he's right. I know people would make their own conclusions - and probably hit the right one, too! As much as I hated Nick's decision to order a bodyguard to stalk me, I hated the fact to bring more trouble on him even more.
"Fine," I finally said, narrowing my eyes. "What do you suggest I do instead, then?"
The elevator reached the right floor, but none of us dare to move.
"Go home, Susan," Marcus said quietly, and I felt Theo putting a hand on my shoulder.
"Maybe you should listen to him," he said. I sighed, knowing he was right - what good would it do anyone if I went through with my plan? I would be the only happy one, that's for sure.
With a shock, I realized the true reason; I was a mother now, I shouldn't be doing stupid things like this.
"Fine," I eventually said, as the elevator doors closed again. "What's your plan, then?"
A/N: I send all of you loyal readers lots of strawberries and sunshine! ^_^
- Lily xxx
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