Chapter 1 : Prologue
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He made his way along the street, his eyes down cast in an attempt to avoid attention, top hat pulled low on his head. The streets in this part of the city were fairly empty at this time of day. It was at night that people crawled out of the rundown buildings and the place came to life, although he planned to be well gone by then. He didn’t particularly want to be seen. Besides, he didn’t blend in here. His fine suit gave him away; he wasn’t from this end of town.
Ducking off the wide street and into an alley, he continued to wind his way between buildings, careful not to step in any of the murky puddles that littered the ground. He’d be hidden better in the buildings shadows than he would on the main road behind him.
He stumbled over something in the gloom and the coins in his pocket clinked merrily. He froze at the sound, his eyes darting around to ensure nobody had heard. They hadn’t. No one was out this time of day. Releasing the breath he hadn’t realised he’d been holding, he hurried faster through the back alleys, conscious of the time.
He needed to be back soon. His friends would notice if he was late again. He didn’t want them asking questions; this wasn’t something someone of his social standing should admit to. Checking his pocket watch, he decided that if he kept this meeting short – which he had intended to do anyway – then he’d have enough time to get back before questions were asked. Yes; he had plenty of time. He hurried around the corner anyway, shutting the watch with a snap.
He slowed a while later as he entered into a deliveries laneway, a gas lamp flickering at the end of the stretch. It cast eerie shadows on the walls around him as he neared the door below the light. The sun was still low in the sky, but was no help with the tall buildings surrounding the meeting spot.
Steeling his nerves, he checked his pocket again to confirm that the coins were indeed still there, before knocking on the old wooden door once, twice, three times. He drew back his hand, fiddling absentmindedly with his the chain of his pocket watch while he waited.
The door cracked open and a figure slipped out, careful to block any view that he might have of inside.
“You’re early,” Severus Snape said, as he looked him up and down. “Still, better early than late. The boss doesn’t like it when people are late.”
He gulped slightly before pulling the pouch out of his jacket pocket. “Here. That’s the last of it. It’s all there,” he added as Snape weighed the pouch in his hand.
“You’d better hope so. It makes no difference to me if it isn’t.”
He tried not to cringe as the pouch disappeared into Snape’s coat. The coins were gone now and he desperately wanted them back. While this had relieved him of the gambling debt he’d acquired a few months back, he was now living precariously day-by-day in order to afford basic essentials. He’d solved one problem by causing another.
“I’ll be on my way then.” He smiled nervously at the taller man, tipped his hat and turned on his heel, determined not to run as fast as he could out of there, lest Snape sense his fear.
“You’ve got no money, do you?”
He paused, before slowly turning to see that Snape hadn’t moved, still leaning against the doorframe, with a lazy smirk across his face.
“Excuse me?” he said, slightly uncomfortable with this new turn in the conversation.
“You don’t. You owed Riddle a hell of a lot and I know you aren’t making enough to cover your losses.” Severus dusted off his waistcoat despite the fact that it made no difference to its appearance. It was old and faded and the dust had embedded its self in the cloth years ago.
“What is any of this to you?” he asked, anxious to be rid of this place. It was getting darker and he needed to get back before questions were asked. He didn’t have time if all Snape wanted to do was play games.
“Deliver some things for us when we need it and we’ll pay you for it. You’ll make a nice profit on the side and it’ll be enough that you won’t need to sell any more of those side tables.”
He paused, wondering how Snape had known about that, but decided it didn’t matter. He needed to money, regardless of how it was earned. He had appearances to keep up and didn’t want people asking questions.
Speaking of questions…
“Fine. I can do that,” he said sharply. He stomach churned at the thought of further business with these thugs, but beggars can’t be choosers, he reminded himself.
“Excellent. We’ll be in touch.” Snape smiled before slipping back behind the door, leaving him to turn and hurry back down the laneway. People would be out and about soon and he was in the wrong end of town to be seen. He moved as quickly as he could without tripping and getting himself covered in filth. Now he would be late, and people would ask questions.
I should not be starting another WIP, I'm well aware, but I've had this plot bunny for a while now and have been too fond of it to give it away to someone who actually has the time to do it justice. At any rate, here you go - the prologue of my new, and first ever, AU story. The title roughly translates to 'The City of Love' in French. The story is loosely inspired by Moulin Rouge! by Baz Luhrmann, although I've greatly altered the plot to make it my own.
Seriously, I need all the feedback I can get for this, so feel free to leave me your thoughts, good and bad, in the box below. :)
Reviews are better than the Moulin Rouge! soundtrack (and let's be honest, that's pretty hard to beat).
- Adele :)