Chapter 2 : Snarky Meetings
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With my arms entwined behind my back, I paced around the dorm while Al threw a quaffle up in the air, oblivious to my plotting mind. He wasn’t going to like my plan. I decided to broach the subject frankly.
“We need Louis,” I announced, wincing at the death glare that Al sent my way.
“No. We do not need the help of my pampered, pansy cousin,” dismissed Al with a familiar edge in his voice that slipped in every time the subject of Louis was brought up.
“I know you don’t like it, and trust me, neither do I, but it’s the only plan I have. We need to infiltrate Rose’s organization and you know she only hires family,” I reasoned. Al sighed in frustration, shoving his free hand through his hair in a sure sign of irritability.
“I could do it,” he volunteered with haste. I gave him a look that screamed ‘Really?’ and shook my head.
“You know that won’t work. Everyone knows that you work for me. They’ll suspect an investigation, which is exactly what we don’t want them to know. Use your head, Al.”
My friend gave me a glare before continuing with our conversation.
“He’ll blow it. Louis is a goody-goody-two-shoes mummy’s boy who can’t even bend the rules, much less break them, and to him, lying is considered breaking the rules. Deception is not in his vocabulary, Scorp. Get a new plan,” Al growled.
“Fine,” I stated confidently. “Who else could we ask in your family? Enlighten me.”
Al faltered, glaring at the top of his emerald draped bed in frustration. I could envision the synapses in his head working at full speed.
We both knew it; everyone either worked for Rose or didn’t go to school at Hogwarts anymore. Louis was the only person who didn’t fit this Weasley/Potter family stereotype because of his straight and narrow attitude.
“Are we agreed, then? You’ll let us use Louis?”
Al nodded with extreme reluctance, looking resigned and unhappy.
“Good, I’ll get Midna on him right away,” I told Al, whose face tightened more.
“I can talk to him,” offered Al angrily.
“You’re getting too close to this, Al. Do I need to remove you on this case?” He shook his head. “Besides, you know how Louis feels about Midna. He thinks that bloody pixie could do no wrong. If she asks him to spy on Rose’s organization, Louis will jump at the opportunity, but if you order him about, he’ll refuse and end up with another broken nose.”
Al smirked with pure pride.
“I wouldn’t presume to put the blame on myself. How was I supposed to know that he was going to shriek like a small child instead of duck like a normal bloke would have? If anything, the fault is his for being a coward,” he countered with an innocent expression on his face that appeared very unfamiliar and overdone.
I couldn’t help but snicker. Louis deserved it anyways. That was what you got when you flirt with the girl that Al fancies. It was too bad that she worked with us, or I would have encouraged Al to ask Midna to Hogsmeade.
Dating in the workplace was off limits to both employees and clients. Though a sacrifice, I had that rule to keep things from getting out of hand. Revenge could be very devastating, especially when we dig up dirt on people daily. I would be the first to admit that blackmail was more than tempting in certain situations.
“Listen, Al, I’m not trying to be a tosser, yeah? We can’t jeopardize this case and I don’t want you to get hurt, all right?”
Al nodded with understanding.
“I know, Scorp, but ever since… well, you know… you’ve been more controlled. You’re too strict, up tight. Let loose, mate, you might like it,” he advised. I slumped onto my bed and massaged my temples.
“I know, Al,” I said quietly. “I just… I can’t get that whole case out of my head, you know? Every time I start something new I think about her. She won’t leave me, even after she left me.”
My mate just nodded and pity was written all over his face.
“You need to let her go, mate. She’s forgotten about you already. Move on.”
“Shit, I know, Al," I cursed, running my hands over my face and then massaging my temples. ",but every time Crane so much as looks my way, he smirks wider than you and I feel like Azkaban could be a cozy place as long as I murdered him.” Al laughed uncomfortably.
“Scorp, I understand that things ended badly with her after—,” he tried, but I couldn’t bear to hear him say it. I hurriedly changed the subject.
“Well, I’ve got to meet your cousin for more details on this case, and I was going to let Midna know that she needs to have a chat with Louis, but, if you want to escort her there…,” I hinted to him.
Al rolled his eyes and mumbled a few curse words at me before leaving to find Midna in an effort to keep her from spending too much alone time with his spineless cousin. After he left, I rummaged through my trunk to find my Quick-Quotes Quill and a piece of parchment so that I could meet up with Rose in the library.
I found my employer sitting criss-cross-apple-sauce on a wooden chair while studying a thick, slightly dusty book. I slid into the seat directly across from her and folded my hands together, letting my fingers come together conspiratorially.
“Tell me what I need to know, Rose.”
The redhead smirked without moving her eyes to meet me.
“I thought we were keeping this official, Malfoy. What is this ‘Rose’ business?” she mocked with a quiet chuckle. I sighed inwardly.
“If you hadn’t noticed there are a few other Weasleys at Hogwarts. For my files sake, I need to separate all of your relatives from each other, so it was either Rose or Red. Frankly, I enjoy fully functional digits,” I explained wiggling my fingers as I remembered the pain.
Rose just smirked wider.
“It served you right.”
“Enough with the small talk. This isn’t a social gathering, this is business. How do you know that you have a snitch?”
Rose gave me a befuddled look.
“What snitch? I’m not a seeker,” she jested lamely. I wasn’t amused.
“I’m completely serious, Rose. I’m here to gather information, not toss less than witty remarks back and forth,” I told her with growing annoyance.
“Oh you’re no fun. No wonder Hestia left you,” she observed with a snicker. I gritted my teeth together, but tried to hide all signs of my anger.
“We’re not mentioning her. Just get on with it, Red,” I ordered, my knuckles turning white as I dug my newly trimmed finger nails into my palms.
My attempt to annoy her was rendered useless as the smug look just grew wider on her face.
“Touchy, are we, Malfoy?”
I decided not to degrade myself enough to reply.
“Fine, don’t answer my clever repartee. I’ll do this your way,” she said and then leaned in closer to me using a lowered voice. “About a month ago was when my shipments first started being detected. Every single time is different, which is how it could be anyone. Sometimes the goods are found while going through the sensors at the school and others I’m not even able to buy before I’m almost found out and have to abort the purchase. Luckily, whoever is selling me out hasn’t let the professors know about the ring, so they think my family and I are just attempting to keep the items for ourselves, but my costumers are getting antsy.”
“So, what you’re telling me is that your culprit sabotages different phases of the job every time so that he or she gives no hint as to his or her identity?” Roses nodded and went on with the details.
“My problem is that the bloody sneak leaves no evidence, no pattern, nothing at all. Each order has different products, customers are picked at random, and the amount of money varies from a few sickles to a couple hundred galleons at the most. There seems to be no motive for the sabotage except to make my life and Uncle George’s a living hell, but I can’t figure which relative has a hatred for me or him.”
“Basically, you’re saying you have nothing to tell me that’s remotely useful?”
Rose nodded with a grimace while I smiled for the first time since the meeting started, even if it was slightly sarcastic and arrogant.
“I always liked a challenge.”
“I aim to please, Malfoy. What’s your idea?”
“We need an undercover investigator in your institution,” I told her.
“And you’re going to find a new family member to use? There’s no one left. I employ every relative here because I thought they were reliable.” I didn’t say a word and kept my gaze on her.
“Oh, no. You don’t mean…” Rose cringed. I just nodded with a snicker. “Come on, Malfoy, be realistic. Louis wouldn’t do anything for me, and don’t even mention Uncle George. He can’t handle the blatant rule-breaking.”
“I went over this with Al. Even he had to agree with me; there’s no other option. He even let Midna go talk to Louis.” Rose raised an eyebrow.
“Bloody hell, it really is the only option,” she said and then sighed. “What do you have in mind?”
“Well, it involves breaking and entering, a few cauldrons of polyjuice potion, and acting classes.” Rose appeared skeptical.
“The only way we can get into your organization is through family ties. While we can’t have Louis messing up our operation, we need him in on the plan. While Al infiltrates disguised as Louis, he can acquire all of the information, but outside of your business, if anyone talks to Louis, he needs to know how to act. It also might be a selling point for him; he’s not entirely involved.”
“You’re slightly mental and the idea is iffy, but I’ll give you the go ahead. I hope this works,” she said with even more skepticism than before. I pushed my chair back and stood up, feeling a tingle in my just awakened legs.
I gave Rose a nod good-bye and briskly walked out of the library feeling more doubt than I’ve ever felt before on a case.