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Chapter 26 : Unwelcome Publicity
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Chapter Twenty-Six: Unwelcome Publicity
“I don’t remotely care whether or not you want to hear what I have to say,” he countered. “I promised Remus I would talk to you and I am. So, just shut your mouth, stop interrupting and we can get through this conversation that much quicker. Deal?”
Sirius could feel Draco bristle but he nodded acceptingly. “I know Remus is after you to assist the Ministry in catching the remaining Death Eaters, most notably your father. I’m not here on his behalf asking the same. I won’t ask someone to track down their own father and sentence them to death even if that someone is you. What I am willing to do, however, is make you understand the gravity of your own situation.”
“My situation?” Draco’s eyes narrowed suspiciously, his grip tightening with a mixture of nervousness and disdain. “What do you know of my situation?”
“I know you have straddled a fine line between Voldemort and the Order for many, many years. I’m not calling you a traitor,” Sirius added quickly as he felt Draco’s anger flare. “I’m saying that you are choosing to help the Order and the Ministry only in the areas that don’t affect you personally. I can’t say I blame you, of course. No matter our dedication to the Order, hunting down your own family is a task none of us would relish. That said, there will come a day when you will have to make a choice, Draco. Not for any virtuous reason. I know better than to appeal to your sense of virtue.”
Draco bristled. How dare the playboy of the year that might as well have killed his best friend lecture him on virtues. He straightened to face him. “You--”
“Make no mistake, your father is hunting for you. You betrayed him; you left his side when he needed you most. He will find you and kill you. It’s only a matter of time. Putting him away will save your own life. If you think in some small part of your tiny little brain that Lucius will have any hesitation in killing you, you are not just stupid as I previously believed but delusional as well.”
“Your sarcastic insults aren’t swaying me to your side, Sirius,” Draco hissed, his body tensing under the intense scrutiny. “Perhaps you’ve forgotten the finer points of persuasion.”
Sirius chuckled. “I have no need to persuade you of anything. I could kill Lucius today if I so chose. Thing is,” he smiled faintly, “I have absolutely no reason to do so.”
“No reason? He’s one of the evil ones, isn’t he? Isn’t that good enough for you Order people?” he asked, his voice rising in challenge.
Sirius stifled the laughter welling within him as he watched Draco’s posture change from irritation to near rage. An image of Lucius flooded into his mind, the mirror like version in front of him – so damned proud and undeserving – causing Sirius to rebel instantly.
“The only thing killing him would do is save your worthless life. Fortunately, saving you is a task I’ve not yet been assigned. Nor, might I add, do I ever expect Remus to ask such a thing of me.” Sirius chuckled at the disgruntled look on Draco’s face. “My fondness for you not withstanding, should you decide it in your best interest to locate Lucius, I’m happy to offer you my assistance.”
Draco rose to face him, his back straight but his eyes holding a questioning and hint of fear that Sirius had never anticipated. “And if I choose not to locate him?”
Sirius bit the inside of his lip, suddenly uneasy with the turn of the conversation. He sat his glass down on the parlor table with a plunk, steeling himself before rounding on Draco. “Then your death will certainly make my life much less complicated. Good day, Draco.”
“Tad cold and heartless, weren’t you?” Hermione asked from the kitchen doorway as she watched Sirius pour himself a glass of juice.
“He relates to nothing else,” he shrugged and dropped into a chair. “Eavesdropping again?”
“Seems to be the only way I can learn the truth around here,” she sank down in a chair opposite him. “That’s what Dobby was warning you of, wasn’t it? That Lucius was looking for Draco and if he finds him first…” she trailed off but quickly shook off her concern. “Will he look for Lucius now?”
“I suspect it will take awhile for him to understand just how angry his father is.” He lowered his voice. “I know it did for me.”
He brushed her away. “He will, however, be much more careful and observant in the future. Situations like what we retrieved him from should not occur again.”
Hermione opened her mouth but Sirius put a hand up. “Don’t you dare thank me. If you say thanks I’m liable to strangle the both of you while you are lying naked in each others arms.”
“Sirius Black, you aren’t jealous, are you?” she laughed then squeezed his hand. “No, I suppose being jealous of Draco Malfoy would be beneath you. Still,” she kissed his head as she moved past him, “I’d say you have more important things to deal with than who I might possibly be naked with.” She tossed a folded newspaper across the table to him.
He unfolded it with a sense of impending dread and he wasn’t disappointed. He glanced up at the amused look on her face. In bold black letters across the front page, it read:
Underneath it had a picture of Sirius moving in slow motion as he raised his arms and spread them wide as if beckoning to all. Beside him, Bill and Remus’ steadying arms were barely visible making it appear as if they were worshipping him rather than holding him up.
“Shit? What does that mean?” Juliette asked from the doorway and caused him to blanch. But Hermione was chuckling and ruffled her hair.
“That’s one of those words only adults are allowed to use,” she explained and moved to stand behind Sirius. She let her elbows rest on his shoulders, as she watched the picture repeat itself over and over. She tapped it with her nail and tilted her face to his. “I don’t know, I think you look rather regal. What do you think, Juliette?”
Juliette slid under Sirius’ arm to sit in his lap. She lifted the page to get a better look, surveying the picture with intensity. “I agree.” She nodded with certainty. “Beagle,” she miss-pronounced, causing Hermione to fall into a fit of giggles.
“Can you read that?” he asked pointing at the headline.
Juliette shook her head. “No, silly, I can’t read on my own yet.”
“Thank Merlin,” he murmured and leaned back into Hermione’s laughing arms. “Remus is gonna kill me.”
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