Chapter 4 : Aqua Hypnocia
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27 December 2026, 5.40 am
The city of Shanghai sparkled in the late evening sun, free, for once, from the veil of winter smog. Towering skyscrapers, sprawling streets, the red and gold horizon... Rose turned, grinning giddily with excitement. She'd been to Shanghai once before, and taken in the breathtaking view from the observation deck of the World Financial Center, but it had been chock-full of tourists then. Now, there was only one other person beside her.
“It's beautiful!” she exclaimed, and Adrian, suavely leaning against the glass, smiled at her childlike enthusiasm. But there was something about it...before Rose could pinpoint it, he bent to her ear and exhaled, sending shivers down her spine. He whispered, slow and deliberate, “Yes, isn't it?” And he pushed her.
The three-inch thick glass pane vanished like it had never been there. Heart lodged in her throat, arms windmilling wildly, Rose teetered on the edge. Then she was falling, falling, falling...
Rose shot bolt upright, stomach lurching like she was still hurtling through space. She unclenched her fingers from the sheets she'd unconsciously grabbed, and thought back to her nightmare. Adrian... She turned to look at him, still sound asleep beside her, his jet-black hair falling into his eyes, then shook her head. No. That's preposterous.
She gathered the dark silk sheets around herself and padded across to the bathroom. Shutting the door behind her, she turned, and barely stifled a scream.
There, over the marble sink, hovered a silvery-white Labrador, looking for all the world like it had been waiting for her. Seemingly sensing her presence, it began to speak in Leo's urgent voice. “Rose, we have an emergency. Get back here right now.”
As the Patronus dissipated into mist, Rose frowned. She had never heard Leo sound so ruffled.
Huffing, she returned to the bedroom, picked up her clothes from the floor and put them on distractedly. After retrieving her boots from beneath the bed and zipping them up, she conjured a bit of parchment and quickly scribbled a note for Adrian.
With one last glance at his sleeping form, Rose walked out to the lounge, careful not to make any noise. She grabbed the file from the table they'd left it on last night, tossed a pinch of Floo powder into the grate and stepped into the fire.
This, she mused, her breath clogged with ash and eyes screwed shut against the dizzying emerald haze, had better be good.
27 December 2026, 5.53 am
“All right,” Rose burst out as soon as she clambered out of the fireplace. “What in Merlin's name is the matter?”
Leo and Nicole, who had been sitting on the couch nursing tall glasses of a purple potion, cringed at the ungodly decibel. “Someone please shut her up,” Nicole hissed, clutching her tender head.
“My God, this is unbelievable!” Rose exclaimed, her disgust apparent. “This was your emergency? A hangover induced by excessive consumption of cheap Tequila?”
Before either of her friends could reply, she had turned on her heel, striding towards the pot of Floo powder on the mantle. “I'm leaving. And woe betide you if you dare in—”
“Rose,” Leo's fragile but firm voice made her stop in her tracks. “It's Malfoy. He's done a runner.”
When Justina had given Scorpius the eight thousand Galleon, hand-stitched patent leather dress shoes (alongwith a bottle of Excalibur by Dominique Weasley) for Valentine's Day, he'd never expected he would come to hate them so much one day. In a little over an hour, his feet were aching and, he suspected, probably blistered.
In retrospect, it had all been rather hasty. Failure was in his design. First, he had wasted precious time debating the pros and cons— a should-I-or-shouldn't-I dilemma as if he were contemplating poisoning his kidnappers rather than simply giving them a taste of their own medicine. When he'd finally made up his mind and gathered the necessary courage, he still failed to spike their beer with enough of the sleeping potion. And then, the cherry on top of this hastily-concocted, shoddily-implemented escape plan of a cake— he'd left without his wand.
Cursing his luck and stupidity, Scorpius straggled along the narrow dirt track he had been following for the past hour. He shivered, his clothes barely any protection against the December cold, the chilly wind whipping his hair and stinging his exposed face and neck like a knife. He was tired, cold, hungry...and scared. He had no idea how long the potion's effect would last. If Leo and Nicole woke up before he could get away...
In the darkness of the pre-dawn hour and trapped in his own thoughts, Scorpius almost missed the pub. As it was, what brought his attention to the little establishment was the creaking of the sign above the door in the wind. Yr Moch Gloff, it said, and hardly daring to believe it, Scorpius hurried in.
The place was dark, dank and deserted— understandably so, considering the time. Come evening, Yr Moch Gloff— 'The Lame Pig', did roaring trade, when every village elder and jobless lout from nearby Cfenybedd, with money to spare and gossip to exchange, dropped in for a pint and the occasional bar-brawl. But now, as Scorpius' eyes adjusted to the gloom, he saw the only occupant was an old, pot-bellied, ruddy-faced man behind the bar counter. Nervously, he approached him.
Gwilym, the proprietor, looked up from the tankard he was cleaning with a rag, and grunted in surprise. The young man in front of him was reasonably well-dressed, despite looking exhausted and careworn. Nothing like his usual crowd. Suspiciously, he asked, “Ie? Beth ydych chi eisiau?”
Scorpius had to bite his tongue to keep from blurting out a profanity. The man was Welsh! Desperately trying to control the shaking of his fingers, he said, “I er, need your help. Can you help me? Sir?” He tacked on hastily.
Gwilym's brow furrowed and his draggled beard worked furiously as he muttered to himself. Despite not understanding a word of what the fair-haired youth said, he knew what he wanted. It was always the same; Wales was as beautiful, with her rugged mountains and mirror-like lakes, as she was deceptive, and these moronic nature-loving tourists got lost all the time. Gesturing at Scorpius to wait, he went in to the back room and fetched a telephone.
“Yma byddwch yn mynd, mab,” he said, but Scorpius didn't hear it. With trembling hands, he reached for the receiver. His mind was blank though; he couldn't remember the number. How did it begin? Two-four-six? Four-two-six?
The landlord clicked his tongue impatiently, and Scorpius stiffened. Six-two-four! Got it! He dialled in the number, and waited an eternity as the phone rang.
“Hello?” At last.
Relief surged through his veins like a drug. “Hello. Th-this is Scorpius Malf—”
The receiver was snatched away from his hand with a jerk. He half-turned, and his leaden stomach sank through the floor.
“Mate,” Leo drawled, dropping the receiver back onto its holder, disconnecting the call, “you really shouldn't have tried this, y'know.”
Scorpius didn't even protest as Leo produced a length of rope from his pocket, grabbed Scorpius' wrists and tied them behind his back, tight enough to cut off his circulation. He was just too shocked and could only watch with a horrified, helpless sort of fascination as, without even a glance at him, Rose walked up to the proprietor of the pub.
“Pwy ydych chi?” Gwilym asked, his face growing redder with each word. “Beth ydych chi'n ei olygu drwy hergwd i'r ysgwydd yma fel—”
“—Rydym yn wirioneddol ddrwg gennym am yr anghyfleustra, syr,” Rose cut across smoothly, in perfect Welsh. She then stepped aside, and Nicole moved forward, brandishing her wand straight at the older man's forehead.
“Obliviate,” Nicole intoned clearly, and the last thing Scorpius saw was the stranger's dark eyes drifting out of focus, every memory of their brief encounter wiped clean away like chalk from a blackboard.
27 December 2026, 6.12 am
Cap d' Antibes, France
The last of Officer Ernie Macmillian's team was packing up the equipment for the investigation. Officer Rénaldi and his men had cleared out about ten minutes ago, as soon as they'd received the letter from the French Ministry, ordering the transfer of the case. For someone who had argued so indignantly on behalf of his Law Enforcement Squad's competence, the Frenchman had seemed pretty unfazed to leave.
“All done, Officer,” the chirpy voice of the Squad's junior technical assistant interrupted his reverie.
“Thank you, Miss Robins. You may go now,” he said, watching as the brunette, clutching a large bag full of forensic paraphernalia, Apparated away.
Officer Macmillian turned with a sigh, and was surprised to see Draco Malfoy standing behind him.
“Mr. Malfoy! I didn't realise you were here. You're up early.”
The other man smiled tiredly, “Astoria and I have been simply too worried to sleep, Officer.” Something in his eyes, the defeated slump of his shoulders, roused the Head's sympathy, as well as his guilt. “I'm sorry, Mr. Malfoy, that we couldn't be of more help.”
“No, no, Officer. I don't blame you...” He replied. “It's just,” he paused. “It's difficult. Scorpius is our only son.”
Officer Macmillian nodded. “The team of Aurors will be here soon, within the hour, I think. I will be staying back to apprise them of the facts of the case.”
Malfoy looked up at that. He frowned, and said, “Forgive my curiosity, Officer, but may I ask who?—”
“Not at all, Mr. Malfoy. It is your right to know, after all. The Ministry is sending in their best.” Noticing the businessman's slightly dubious expression, the Head elaborated. “Your son's case is going to be handled by Auror Ronald Weasley.”
27 December 2026, 6.30 am
“So,” Rose stated darkly, pacing back and forth in front of the fireplace. “So.”
Scorpius had the greatest urge to say “So what?” but somehow, that seemed like a particularly bad idea. Especially since with her constant pacing that was wearing a hole in the carpet and that expression of deadly rage, Rose resembled a caged tigress.
Waving the vial of Aqua Hypnocia around, so that the watery liquid inside sloshed gently, Rose said, “So, you drugged my friends. With this.” She thrust the sleeping potion right beneath his nose.
“Might I remind you, you and your friends did pretty much the same to me,” was Scorpius' tart reply.
For a moment Rose stood glowering, and he was sure that any moment now, she would whip out her wand and jinx him into a jelly. Rather surprisingly, however, she just shrugged, and said, “Fine. Fair enough.”
Behind her, Nicole let out an audible gasp of protest and Leo arched a single, thin eyebrow, as if asking, Really Rose?
“I mean, it's true, you know,” she said, and to Scorpius, it seemed like a lame attempt at justifying herself to them. “I would even say we're quits.”
She returned to addressing Scorpius, ignoring Nicole's mutinious expression. “I can forgive you for drugging Leo and Nicole. I will even—though Merlin knows you don't deserve it—forgive you for being the reason I had to cut short my tryst with my inamorato.” Scorpius opened his mouth to say how he wasn't even sure what 'inamorato' meant, but Rose forestalled him. “However, the one thing I won't forgive you for—you locked up my cat!”
Scorpius shifted a little uneasily, noticing Rose's French manicured nails which were poised just too close to his eyeballs for comfort. Her accusation was true; he had shut the grouchy black cat in Rose's attic bedroom, but only because he had no other way to distract Leo and Nicole long enough to dope them.
Rose continued, her blue eyes spitting sparks, “You stand there, cruel and despicable—tell me, how could you do something so heartless? Colonel Fitzpatrick is traumatized! He could've died!” She was breathing hard, and so transfixed had he been by her livid fit, that Scorpius didn't even realise that they were practically nose to nose.
“But of course that's nothing to a spoilt brat like you, is it, Scorpius Malfoy?” She hissed. “No matter how well we treat you—give you timely meals, the best bed in the house—you'll just be an ungrateful little ferret.”
Scorpius was so enraged he could feel his face burning. He was always in control of himself, always calm and composed, but Rose Weasley had worked her way under his skin like a splinter today. Before he could utter a single mordant word, however, Rose whipped back her hair forcefully, and stalked out of the room.
Leo whistled, long and slow. “Wow. Quite a show.”
27 December 2026, 8.54 am
The bright sunlight streaming in through the French windows was what woke up Adrian. Groaning, he shifted, and was surprised to find the sheets beside him cold and empty. He sat up slowly, blinking the last vestiges of sleep from his eyes, and spotted a folded note on the other pillow, written in Rose's loopy, graceful penmanship.
Sorry I had to leave in such a haste, darling. Nothing serious, but I must go sort out whatever it is. Such is life, after all. Anyway, I will see you soon.
Until next time,
With a frustrated sigh, Adrian raked his hand through his raven hair, and threw down the scrap of parchment. He'd planned to laze around in bed all day, perhaps go out for dinner later, but his hopes had all been dashed by Rose's abrupt departure. Pulling the sheets away from himself, he made to get up, but was stopped by a tinny ringing noise emanating from his bedside drawer.
He frowned. Only a handful of his most important...ah, clients had his personal cell number, and he couldn't imagine why any of them would be calling him at this time.
“Hello?” he said, accepting the call.
He heard with rising trepidation and anger as the voice on the other end spoke. By the end of it, his brow was contracted tightly and he was standing out in the balcony adjoining his bedroom.
“Listen to me, Mr. Whitlaw. What happened today can't be repeated. And if it is...it will be your own funeral.”
The call ended with a click, and Adrian lowered the device from his ears. With unseeing dark green eyes, he surveyed the London skyline, his client's words ringing in his ears. It will be your own funeral.
Somehow, he felt his client wasn't merely being metaphorical.
Yr Mochh Gloff- the Lame Pig
Ie? Beth ydych chi eisiau?- Yes? What do you want?
Yma byddwch yn mynd, mab- Here you go, son
Pwy ydych chi?- Who are you?
Beth ydych chi'n ei olygu drwy hergwd i'r ysgwydd yma fel hyn?- What do you mean by barging in here like this?
Rydym yn wirioneddol ddrwg gennym am yr anghyfleustra, syr- We are really sorry for the inconvenience, sir
Author's Note: Hel-looo hpff! How're you guys? :D It really has been too long.
I had a lot of trouble with this chapter- I'm still not 100% satisfied with it, matter of fact. Seems to be a common problem with all my chapter fours :( I've decide to name it 'The Curse of the Fourth Chapter'. But that's just me and my perfectionist self- shoot me your thoughts and opinions in a review!
One more thing: since my final Board exams begin from the 3rd of March, I won't be able to update at least until the first week of April. It sucks, I know, but what can you do?
Thanks for taking the time to read, and much love for the same.
PS. I realise it's rather late to be doing so, but wish you all a very Happy New Year!
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