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Chapter 3 : Rendezvous
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Another divine CI courtesy of sharkbait. @ TDA
26th December 2026, 1.36pm
Cap d'Antibes, France
Even before the investigation started, Officer Pierre Rénaldi was having an abysmal day.
First, it was his wife, Jeanne. They had had another one of their infamous shouting matches that morning, the topic on fire being whether or not her Maman could come and stay for a month. A month. Then, Apparating to work, he had almost splinched himself. Thereafter, to cap it all off, that incompetenent chierie Jean-Louis had set fire to his work-desk.
Hastily casting an Aguamenti charm, he managed to salvage the expensive mahogany escritoire, and had been fully prepared to verbally attack his imbecile of an apprentice when he had been interrupted by the arrival of the memo. Jean-Louis must be thanking his stars; his superior's rage was legendary.
Now, in the magnificent living room of the Château de Goyle, Officer Rénaldi stood waist-deep in thought while his team went about collecting evidence and recording statements. Often had the pudgy Frenchman regretted the day he got promoted to Head of the Magical Law Enforcement Squad, but never like today. If there was one thing Officer Rénaldi disliked, it was wealthy, aristrocratic, snooty non-natives. And the current denizens of the château were all that and more.
Add to that the fact he had to collaborate with his British counterpart on this case, and you understand why the usually jolly Frenchman had a dark scowl marring his chubby features.
Said scowl deepened further when he perceived Ernie Macmillian, aforementined compeer, marching towards him with all his typical air of pompousness.
“Well, Officer Rénaldi,” the Englishman began, and immediately his French coequal scrunched up his nose in distaste, “Miss Nott tells me that the last time she saw Mr. Malfoy, he had been alone, and had complained about a headache of some sort.”
“Mon dieu! Bien sûr, she does,” Rénaldi snapped. “What do you think she told me when I questioned her?”
Officer Macmillian bristled. “What I mean to say—”
“Surely you are not suggesting, Officier Macmillian, that we are incapable of doing our work?”
“Officer Rénaldi, let me assure you—”
“What I do not understand, Officier, is why you and your troupe—” he waved carelessly to indicate them, “—are, faute d'un meilleur terme, butting in?”
Macmillian drew himself up to his full height. His face, Rénaldi noted with grim satisfaction, was a sort of unattractive crimson usually associated with rotten tomatoes. “You will find, Officer Rénaldi,” he began, “that the reason we are butting in, is because Scorpius Malfoy is an English citizen.”
“Quand même,” Officer Rénaldi stated dismissively, “the gentleman's disparition, if I may call it so, occured here. But if your Ministry feels that the French are not competent enough—”
“Gentlemen.” It was Draco Malfoy, his thinning platinum hair slicked back and steely eyes glinting. He had, presumably, overheard the not-so-pleasant exchange between the two Heads. “If I may ask you to, ah, cease your banter? My wife is distraught.”
Officer Rénaldi was incensed. How dare this man —this foul, crâneur man— insinuate that he, Officer Pierre Rénaldi, Head of the most elite Magical Law Enforcement Squad this side of the Atlantic, was not doing his work properly? His fingers itched to draw his wand, but wisely, he refrained. His mind darted back to the brief flash of the faded Dark Mark he had seen on Malfoy's wrist when they shook hands earlier.
“Very well, Monsieur Malfoy,” he growled, his bushy moustache quivering, and walked away.
Just then, Gregory Goyle bustled over. “Draco,” he said, slightly out of breath, “I just sent Richard to London. I'm positive he can take care of the conference while we're engaged here.”
Draco Malfoy nodded. “Yes, thank you, Gregory.”. He then turned to Ernie. “Officer Macmillian, I hope you found something indicating my son's whereabouts?”
Macmillian shook his head regretfully. “I'm afraid, Mr. Malfoy, that Officer Rénaldi might just have been right.” He paused. “There are no signs of struggle anywhere, no clues whatsoever... Scorpius Malfoy seems to have, quiet simply, disappeared.
Draco's brow crumpled in worry. Goyle raised a meaty hand, and rather awkwardly, patted his shoulder. “Don't worry, Draco,” he said, “We'll find him.”
26th December 2026, 5.09pm
Scorpius had been aimlessly wandering through the maze-like corridors of the cottage's first floor when he heard what seemed like yowls and caterwauls of a very angry cat, drowning out the soothing murmurs of a very human voice. That's strange, he thought to himself, and without further ado, walked into the room from where the cacophony arose.
For a moment, he was completely disconcerted. There was Rose, kneeling in front of a large ceramic bathtub, upto her elbows in the water. She appeared to be trying to coax a glossy black creature out of the tub, but every time her fingers clutched the animal, it slipped out like a greased pig and ducked under the water. This went on for another minute or so, until ultimately, with a triumphant cry, she pulled it out.
“Bad pussy, very bad pussy,” she muttered, delicately stroking what Scorpius finally realised was a cat. A grumpy-looking, throughly wet, pitch-black cat that was mewling mutinously. Before he could say or do anything, Rose looked up, and smiled, pleasantly surprised.
“Oh, Scorpius,” she said, getting to her feet. The front of her ridiculous kimono, Scorpius noticed, was soaking wet. “I didn't realise you were here.”
“I, er... I heard noises and, um, came to inspect,” he replied, somewhat sheepishly.
“Ah...” Rose nodded in understanding, “It was nothing. Just that Colonel Fitzpatrick here—” she indicated the feline, “—tried to drown himself.”
His single raised eyebrow made her hasten to explain. “He has suicidal tendencies. I'm trying to counsel him, make him see the error of his ways—” Suddenly, Colonel Fitzpatrick squirmed in her arms, forcing her to drop him. “—but he just won't listen!” The animal stalked out of the bathroom, and with a sigh, Rose plonked herself down on the edge of the bathtub.
When Scorpius had been in Hogwarts, there had been a pair of boys—twins, a couple years below him, who used to spout all sorts of nonsense about Wrackspurts and Nargles and Crumple-Horned Snorkacks. It seemed to him now that the girl in front of him, studiously inspecting her fingernails, was every bit as eccentric as them.
If his memory served him right, she hadn't been quite this bizzare at school. True, she had had her moments, but...but this was Rose Weasley, it suddenly hit him—his ex-classmate, his dorm-mate Albus' cousin, a Quidditch rival who'd once knocked him off his broom and an occasional Potions partner who always messed up the quantity of ingredients. Never had she ever expressed a burgeoning wish to become a delinquent, at least not in his vicinity...
“You're wondering why I did it,” Rose interrupted his reverie, studying him keenly, “Kidnapped you, I mean.”
Scorpius blinked. “Your friend—Nicole, she, er, wouldn't—”
“No, it's no good pestering her for answers—that girl is one of those eternal misanthropes who despise the world and all its sunshine,” she said. She threw him another sharp glance, then, “What did you tell her?”
“Um, that my father is very rich, and if you let me go, I'll—”
“Your father's wealth doesn't matter,” she cut through again, “because we were never going to place a ransom demand before him for your return, anyway.”
“No?” He was surprised.
“No,” she echoed, “That was not the point of this kidnapping...someone paid us to abduct you. Two hundred thousand Galleons, in fact. They must be very keen to get rid of you.”
Scorpius' brain whirred. Who— He swallowed thickly. “But still—why you?”
She, surprisingly, chuckled. “My dear boy, you should be down on your knees thanking your stars that I kidnapped you. Did you know,” she paused for effect, fixing him with a dark-humoured gaze, “that there are other abduction outfits there, far more ruthless than ours? They would've left you, starving and thirsty, in some stinking rat-hole. Or cheerfully sold-off your kidneys in Knockturn Alley for a few extra Sickles.”
Not having any idea whether or not she was joking, Scorpius just watched silently as Rose got to her feet and walked to the door. At the last moment, she turned to look at him. “I want you to know, Scorpius,” she said, a faint smile on her face, “that whatever I do, it's strictly professional. Nothing personal.” And she left.
When Leo walked into the living room two hours later, he was in for a surprise.
“Whoa!” he exclaimed. “What's going on?”
Rose, clad in a short, skin-tight smoky blue dress, fishnet-stockings and knee-high boots, grinned up at him from her perch on a high stool. Behind her, Nicole was too busy fastening the corset-like garment to reply.
“I wrote to Adrian last night to tell him of the success of our endeavour. I just got his reply,” Rose said, waving a piece of parchment around. “He wants to see me.”
“Ah,” said Leo, dropping down in a couch opposite them. “A rendezvous, then.”
“Yes,” Rose replied, jumping a little and causing Nicole to scoff. “It's all very clandestine and hush-hush, so don't you go warbling about it all over the place.”
Leo laughed. Nicole hissed at Rose to keep still. She muttered something about Rose getting fatter each time she saw her.
“It's called having a curvaceous figure,” Rose snapped, “And just because you're so spindle-shanked, doesn't mean we all have to be.”
“But don't you think that this—” Leo hastily intervened, gesturing at her outfit, “—is a bit too much? Most girls would dress in jeans and a trendy top for a date with their boyfriends.” In the light from the window, he had suddenly realised that Rose's sleeveless dress was pure dragonhide. Swedish Shortsnout, he guessed.
“Oh, don't be daft,” she said, “My rhinestone-encrusted catsuit would've been too much. But this is just perfect.” She sighed dreamily.
Leo just shook his head. Nicole stepped away from the stool, finally finished with her job.
Rose stood up, still beaming. “So, while I'm gone, take care of our hostage and Colonel Fitzpatrick. If either of them dies, I'm holding the two of you responsible.”
Nicole snorted derisively. Rose walked up to the fireplace and threw in a pinch of Floo powder.
“Be good now, both of you.”
“Are we ever anything but?” Leo asked lightly, almost to himself.
“Rarely, but yes.” She stepped into the bright green fire. “Farewell for now, my worthy comrades,” she yelled, then whispered her destination, and was gone in a blur of emerald flames.
26th December 2026, 7.15 pm
Rose clambered out of the marble fireplace, dusting ash off her dress. The apartment was just like she remembered it—ultra-modern, all chrome and white leather and glass, done up by one of London's most fashionable interior designers. The only touches of colour were the exorbitant French Impressionist paintings on the walls, three of which had been stolen by Rose herself.
She walked upto the centre of the lounge, the heels of her boots click-clacking on the marble floor. “Adrian, I'm home!” she shouted, and somewhere from the depths of the house, came an indistinct reply. Satisfied, she was about to flop down on the sofa when something caught her eye. Intrigued, she picked it up.
As she riffled through the pages of the file, her coppery eyebrows arched steadily upwards, until at last they were in danger of disappearing into her hairline. Just as she was about to turn to the last page, she heard a voice behind her:
“Have I ever told you how absolutely ravishing you are?”
Rose whirled around, file clutched to her chest. She smiled. “You might've mentioned it a couple of times, but it's always nice to hear again.”
Adrian Whitlaw let out a light chortle, and walked up to her. It always stole Rose's breath away, the way he looked like a Michaelangelo statue come to life. “And might I just say, you look rather rakish yourself, Mr. Whitlaw.”
He grinned rougishly, cyan eyes crinkling. “I try,” then, “Merlin, I've missed you,” he murmured, and swooped down to kiss her.
When they broke apart, Rose held up the file so he could see it. “Care to explain?”
“Ah, yes, that,” he said, rumpling his dark hair, “just a little housebreaking job. I didn't think you'd be interested.”
“Not interested?” Rose exclaimed. “Adrian, it's in America! Of course I'm interested.”
“But you've just finished a project, Rose, kidnapping that Malfoy boy.” He paused, “Plus, the others must be given a chance, or they're going to think I'm partial.”
“You are partial,” she deadpanned.
“No, I'm afraid I can't, love. Tony Romano specially requested-”
“Oh, come now,” she interjected cattily. “I'm the best at what I do, and don't you deny it. I've seen the file, all those security alarms and electronic safes, they need to be handled by real professionals. Tony Romano's only going to bungle everything up.” She glanced again at the name on the file. “Besides, I'd love a chance to meet an old friend.”
Adrian saw the look on her face, and shrugged, “Well then, if you insist.”
Rose's face split into a grin. “I do!” she cried, delighted.
Adrian laughed. “And now, to celebrate your latest success,” he said, fingering his wand, “Accio Beaujoláis!”
Rose sighed in relief as the bottle of expensive red wine zoomed into his hand. After that ball in France, she'd had enough of champagne to last her a lifetime.
27th December 2026, 12.08am
It was sometime after midnight when Scorpius woke up. For a bewildered moment, he blinked in the dark and flailed about, wondering what had disturbed his uneasy sleep. Then he realised that Rose's cat had been padding about the foot of the bed, purring loudly.
He sighed. It was its mistress' bedroom, of course. The cat must've thought he was her. Usually, Scorpius had the highest regard for any sort of animal life, but forgive him if he wasn't particularly feeling like entertaining a creature that had woken him up in the middle of the night.
He got out of bed, scooped up the feline by the scruff of it's neck, and ignoring the affronted and indignant mewls, took it out of the room and closed the door behind it.
Climbing into bed, he lay for some time listening to Colonel Fitzpatrick scratching the door and meowing balefully. After a while, even that stopped, and everything was silent.
Scorpius tried to sleep in vain, turning about restlessly until the sheets were horribly rumpled and he realised that oh hell, it was no good. He was out of bed and walking down the corridor in another minute.
In the bleached moonlight streaming in through the grimy glass windows, any onlooker could've mistaken Scorpius for a maundering ghost, what with his pale hair, and the woebegone expression on his face. Quite thoughtlessly, he found his feet carrying him towards the bathroom he had encountered Rose in earlier.
The floor was still wet, though there was no sign of any cats attempting self-murder. The age-spotted mirror above the sink reflected an open wooden cabinet opposite, and Scorpius had just been about to turn around and go back to his room when something caught his eye.
Quickly, he walked to the cabinet and grabbed the crystal vial. The liquid inside was clear as water and quite normal-looking, but when he uncorked it and took a sniff, he felt like he had just inhaled a bottle of chloroform.
This potion—he recognised it now. It was supposed to have a strong camphoraceous aroma, but the brewer must've added a sprig of moonlace to counteract that, with the side-effect of surplus strength. An overdose could cause—his eyes widened as he recalled his Advanced Potions classes at Hogwarts—hyperventilation, nausea, dizziness, comatic and dreamless sleep lasting several hours...
He could barely hide his grin as the beginnings of a plan came to him.
Chierie- pain in the butt
Mon dieu- My God
Bien sûr- Of course
faute d'un meilleur terme- for lack of a better term
Quand même- Regardless
Author's Note: My wonderful readers, please accept my heartfelt greetings and salutations. 8D
As always, I take this opportunity to thank everyone who's ever read, reviewed and/or favourited this story. You guys are like Friday evenings to me. :)
If anyone has any opinions to express, concrit to offer or really, just want to fangirl for the sheer awesomeness of it all (!) you know where to drop your reviews. And do drop them, as birthday (8th Dec) gifts for me ;p
See you next chapter,
Edit 12/12/13: Grammatical and spelling errors and stuff. Also, since I'll be able to update only once queue reopens, wish you all a merry Christmas and a happy New Year :D
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