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Chapter 5 : Kung-Fu Grip
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Thanks so my skype group who helps me though all the writer's block and provides me with many good laughs. Thanks to Lee (Sun SationGal 07), Len (DarkLadyOfSlytherin), Leslie (onestop_hpfan18), Mikayla (kalkay), Lily (LilyFire), Marina (tell_me_what_the_truth_is), Molly (SnitchSnatcher), Jenny (Erised), Gina (justonemorefic), Annie (gingersnape), and so many more! You guys are wonderful.
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I should have known that after the talk in Harry's office, Draco would want to speak with me. Soon after Harry spoke in riddling terms yet again, I got the vibe that that was the end of our conversation. So I had hugged my god father, a manly hug mind you, and clapped Ron on the back before leaving the office. Draco followed in my footsteps, and he eventually picked up the pace. When he was next to me, he muttered into my ear before walking in front of me, "My office."
I ground my teeth together. I knew I was partly okay with breaking my contract for Harry and Ron. If you wanted to get all technical, Harry wasn't quite family. Ron wasn't, for sure, but they all felt like family. And I would do anything for them. Even if that meant breaking my contract and risking my job. Granted, I wouldn't just throw my job down the drain. I get paid too well for that, but I would at least try to not get caught.
Breaking my contract with Malfoy was a different thing entirely. I had known him well in my younger years, but now not so much. I don't know what put me on edge about it; I could put my trust in him, definitely. I knew Malfoy wouldn't do anything to jeopardize his job or mine. Really, all he wanted to know was the safety of his kid. I guess it was seeing Harry and Ron's slight discomfort with him still to this day that made me worry.
But I told myself I could trust him. I knew I could.
But what was even worse was that I actually don't know much about what's going on with Scorpius Malfoy. I've been with Rose...pretending to be him...Not actually with him in his confinement here in the ministry.
I followed him through the main atrium and up to his floor. There weren't many eyes upon eyes. No one seemed to pay any close attention to us, and that was good. We didn't want any attention of the wrong sorts. It would be bad if those who would immediately assume the wrong thing saw me with Malfoy. They could potentially assume what is in fact true and could blab to Peakes. And that's the last thing we want.
We reached his office, and he closed the door behind us. Once in his office, I could tell that his shoulders dropped as he relaxed slightly. I knew he was stressed and paranoid, and so I knew he understood the importance of keeping this conversation confidential, of what it could threaten for the both of us.
He looked at me with his lips pursed. He appeared to not know quite where to start. He finally decided with simply asking, "H-How have you been?"
"All right," I nodded. "This case is stressful."
"Yes, it is for many," Draco agreed. He sat down at his desk. His office was fairly similar to Harry's, only Draco's was a little smaller. He had a few pictures of his wife and Scropius on his desk and a few wizard objects as well. "I would just like to know if he's all right. What are they doing to him? Do you know anything?"
"I don't know as much as you think I may know," I began. "Harry mislead you. He isn't on the case for the same reasons you aren't. He knows I'm on the case, therefore, I think he believes I know more than I do. I don't know much about Scorpius. Rose has been my focus on the case."
"Oh," he said. Disappointment filled his eyes, and he looked down in longing. "Then does Rose Weasley know anything about Scorpius' involvement?"
"Not from what she has told me," I said, shaking my head in reassurance to Draco. "She could, but I don't know it yet."
"Have you seen him at all?"
"Only a little," I answered as vaguely as I could. I wouldn't elaborate to any extent unless he asked me.
"When? And where?" Draco asked uneasily.
I should have known better. Of course he would ask for the details.
"A few times at the beginning of the case, and here at the Ministry. He's in confinement for interrogation."
"Interrogation..." muttered Draco as if the word were acid on his tongue.
I immediately felt bad for him and wished I knew more than I did so that I could tell him and give him so peace of mind.
"He's okay," I spluttered out quickly. "I assure you he's all right. I saw him the day he was brought him. He's in a cell here at the Ministry and is being questioned."
"Do you know how he's holding up?"
"He was all right when I saw him," I answered. "He was mad to be there, clearly, and from that it made me believe he is innocent. I don't think he did it."
"So what do you think is going on?" he continued to ask me, and I wondered when the questions would stop.
"I honestly don't know. Perhaps they are being framed, but as to why, I don't know."
Draco pursed his lips and entered silence for many moments. He was in deep thought as he twiddled his thumbs, and he finally looked at me with a curt nod. "All right. Thank you for telling me, Ted. I'm sorry I had to ask, and I understand you have put your job on the line. But it is just good to hear that he is all right. Astoria will be relieved."
"I understand," I said, and I got antsy in that little chair. As I glanced to my watch, I realized just how long I had been gone for. I was pushing two hours. I noted how I wasn't the one who had been all locked up in my bedroom. That had been Rose. Not once had I gone to hide in my room and cut myself off from her if she wished to speak. I hope she didn't find my choice to now cut myself off from her to be odd, and I hoped that she wouldn't try to go into my room to find that I wasn't there.
Even more on top of that, I hoped I could rely on that old, dingy record player to still be running when I apparate into the bedroom shortly to drown out the sound of that really irritating crack.
Guess we will have to wait and see...
"Well, I'm sorry to take you away from your work for the day. I should let you go before anyone spots us and grows suspicious," he finally said.
I nodded in agreement, but before I rose to leave, I remembered one more thing I wished to inquire about. "Oh. With my placement in the case, I've been somewhat cut off of all the news going on. Has there been any news as to who the next Minister will be?"
Draco nodded, scratching at his hair before he answered my question. "Yes. Right now Geoffrey Sondheim is Acting Minister because he was his right-hand man and is most informed about Jarvis' politics, and for now his decisions will do. But actually, Percy Weasley and Sondheim have begun campaigning for Minister. The campaign will be on a fast scale, as we need a new official Minister as soon as possible. We're expecting to have a new Minister of Magic in office in about two weeks."
"Brilliant," I said.
I always thought Percy would make a good Minister of Magic. He definitely had the knowledge to do so, and from my vantage point, I believed he had good views and would make the right kind of choices to lead the English wizarding world.
"Well thanks, Draco," I said and rose.
He thanked me one more time before I apparated directly out of his office and into the bedroom of the cottage once more.
Thankfully, once in the cottage again, the record player was still running, and a jazz sound filled the room. I was sure that it had drowned out the sound of my return, but I wasted no time in shifting back into Scorpius Malfoy. I felt the pant legs of my jean lower past my ankles as I grew a few inches shorter, and my blonde hair lightened and grew longer. I could feel my face changing shape, and my jeans go loose on me.
Knowing I was him once again, I kicked them off and slipped into a different pair that would fit in my second body. I ran my fingers through the blonde hair that appeared flat on top of my head, giving it a little bit of volume. Shutting off the music, I slipped out of the bedroom and went into the living room.
I was surprised to see Rose there, sitting on the floor in a lazy manner. Her legs were sprawled out, and one arm was resting on the couch she was leaning on as she tossed playing cards at a vase. I could see that she had been most unsuccessful. The deck of cards in her hand was getting low, and there were easily more cards sitting on the carpet around the vase than there were actually in it. I smirked and tried not to laugh at her.
If I laughed, she would have most certainly taken it offensively rather than the jesting manner I would have intended it to be.
I sat opposite her, leaning against a leather arm chair, and I picked up a few of the cards nearest to me and joined in with her. I'll be honest, my first three attempts did not go well, but I got the fourth card into the vase. It took all of my power to not yell out, score!"
All right, so I got a little over excited, but hey. There isn't much around this place that is exciting in the least.
Rose finally looked at me and said as she continued to toss the cards. At this point, she wasn't even aiming. "Look at you. Being the little hermit now instead of me."
I rolled my shoulders, for I didn't quite know what to say to that. I wasn't necessarily being a hermit. Which, by the way, is just about the oddest phrase I think I have heard in my entire life, but I guess the description fits.
I had left. Granted, she didn't know that. So to her I guess I did look like a hermit.
"Bored," I decided to utter. "I didn't think you were out here anyways."
"Well, I can rarely sit still, and I can only entertain myself with a small number of things for so long. I've about hit that point in time where I'm bored out of my mind. If you're the only one here, we might as well have each other to talk to," said Rose. She didn't seem too angry or flustered as she said this. I took this as a good sign and that she had gotten off her high horse and decided to suck it up.
I wasn't Malfoy, so maybe I wasn't being his true character, but from Rose's point of view, she could easily think that he had undergone some sort of 'change' during the two years between their graduation at Hogwarts and now. Draco Malfoy went through a change; I as well as Rose know that very well. As far as she's concerned, she had no reason to believe that Scorpius had the potential to be any different.
Maybe she could suck it up and give me someone to talk to as well. I was just as cooped up as she was, and even though I was getting paid to be here, I honestly felt as if I were being punished with so little to do and no one to talk to besides Rose.
Nothing against Rose, of course. She's brilliant. It's just that if she continues to hold that grudge to Malfoy, I might snap.
"Good," I agreed with her. "That was my point from the very beginning before you went and locked yourself in your bedroom. I told you you could talk to me."
"I might have to take you up on that offer. At some point," she stated with a sigh. She gathered all the cards from the floor, yanking the ones out of my hand in the process, and she began to shuffle them. "I can't keep everything to myself. When I finally go crazy from this place, I will need to rant. And I won't want anything from your smart mouth. I will just want you to sit there and listen."
"Fine," I agreed, trying to stay in character. I knew very well that Rose didn't do well with eating up her emotions. She had to let them lose. I could remember countless times when she would pull either Albus, Molly, or any of her other cousins away from me so she could blow off some steam. "As long as you do the same for me."
Her eyes moved to me curiously as she began to deal out the cards. As to what we were about to play, I still didn't know. Her nose wrinkled with her curiosity, and it got a cute crease at the top of it. "Scorpius Malfoy wanting to share emotions? That's unheard of."
"I'll go crazy in this place just as well as you will," I scoffed.
She made a noise of acceptance, and her shoulders quirked up with her mischievous grin. I knew she was smirking, but it was a mix between a giggle as well. An odd response. I looked to the cards she had just finished dealing out, and I tried not to let out my sudden excitement.
I immediately knew what we were going to play. It was a card game the kids at the Potters and Weasleys always played when they were bored and were asked to keep the wizarding pranks and what-not to themselves. I had played multiple times with them, and it was honestly one of the most fun card games I had ever come across. Those damn muggles sure know how to make life good without magic, yet I knew that if I were in their shoes, I would be miserable and bored all the time.
Just like I am here. Bored!
I loved this game, and I was a beast at it. A beast, I tell you. But I knew for a fact that Rose was as well. Rose had been a chaser in her years at Hogwarts, and this card game required the fast reflexes, and quick eyes to acknowledge the cards before your opponent.
But I figured it wouldn't be very much like Malfoy if I know to play the game. Molly was the one to discover how to play the game when she went with her father to a work convention. Molly had played with a few of the other bored children there and brought the game home, teaching it to us. Malfoy probably wouldn't know how to play it. I held back my grin and looked at it in confusion.
"What are we playing?"
Easy. I knew the answer to that. A game called Egyptian Rat Screw.
"Egyptian Rat Screw," she answered and began to lay down all the rules for me. I only acted like I was listening, nodding along when needed. I knew exactly how to play already. I knew all the important things like the sandwich, doubles, the rules for the face cards, and the rules for the slaps.
I want to play already!
This game could go on forever. It went on until one player had the entire deck in their hand, and whoever held the whole deck won. I could win. My only other competitors when I played at the Weasleys and Malfoys were James and Rose. The others just couldn't slap down at the cards fast enough.
The game was simply one card being laid on top of another by different players of the game, and your goal was to slap the cards that were laid down in doubles, like two 10's next laid on top of another, and then sandwiches, things like 3, 8, 3. Whoever slapped it first, got all of the cards that had been laid down
"You got it?" she inquired after she finally finished going on and on about it.
"Got it," I nodded, and she laid down the first card.
We went through the first few cards, one laid down by her, the next by me. The first few slaps I saw come across, things like two threes being right next to each other, I let slip. I noticed them right away and I had the urge to slap them, but I felt like I needed to act like I was still new to the game. So I did, and I quite didn't like it.
Let's be honest; I'm just as competitive as Rose. She teased me when she saw my slow reaction to the cards, and I wanted to show her what I was all about. She had the majority of the deck in her hands when I finally picked up the pace and I got most of the slaps. Soon it was a pretty even game, and I don't even know how long it went on for. We had a great time playing the game, the both of us getting into it.
Every now and then we would slow down between each card being played so that we could better have a focused conversation. I don't even know how the topics we talked about arose, but we talked about anything and everything. I think Rose forgot she was sitting with Malfoy, for when her eyes moved to the cards and we just played the game, I felt like she was talking to her brother or one of her friends or cousins. She had this light back in her eyes, this happy cheer in her voice. I don't know if she was getting more comfortable, if she was more comfortable with Malfoy, or if she had just forgotten everything that was going on. She told me about her favorite Quidditch matches, ones she thinks I had watched her play from the stands, so I would have to nod along as if I remembered.
She talked about her job as a Curse Breaker and the great places she had visited, places I had already heard from her about and seen the pictures from, but it was nice to hear her go further into detail about it. I was glad she could be herself with me. It made me feel more comfortable with myself, and it also made me pleased to see that she wasn't exactly miserable.
She just talked and talked, and I had a happy smile on my face as I listened in perfect contempt, until she realized that I was beginning to have the majority of the deck in my hand. After she realized this, she threw her hands up and let out a distressed squeal. "No!" she roared humorously. "Quit distracting me, Malfoy! You're making me lose."
"Naw," I chuckled and waved away her ridiculous accusation. "That's all you!"
"You liar," she giggled and slapped down her next card.
It was a 7. I thought back quickly; the two previous cards were a queen and then a 7 as well. A sandwich. I slapped my hand down immediately and the sandwich, but Rose had moved just as fast. My hand was on the card for part of it, but Rose's had somehow wiggled her hand under there as well. I tried to snatch the cards from here.
That deck was so mine!
She flipped as I did that and she dropped her own cards and pressed two against the deck, declaring they were hers. "No! Those are mine. That's my hand on the bottom!"
"But mine is too," I retorted. "They are so mine!"
"They are not," she blurted with a laugh and lunged forward as I tugged them away. I swear, she was now lying on the ground with her hands practically attached to mine as I tugged them away. Even though the competitive side within her, I could tell a different side of her was coming forward. Her face was contorted with this girly smile, and this squeamish scream left her throat as I tugged her further away, laughing all the while with her.
I didn't quite know what this side of her was. I had never seen it before, but I ignored it. We were having a good time.
I wiggled away from her on the floor, and we were practically twisted together along the floor, the cards in our hands above our heads. This girl won't let go! She has a kung-fu grip. Kung-fu grip!
Confirmed Fact #2: Rose Weasley is the most competitive girl you will ever meet when it comes to games, and she has a grip like no other.
I looked to our side where I spotted her empty hand lying unattended on the floor, and my eyes filled with an epiphany. I let go with one hand, and I quickly made to grab for her cards just lying on the floor. My arm twisted over her, and I grabbed hold of her other cards. She paused briefly and made a stuttering sound to comprehend what was going on, and that reaction was exactly what I was hoping for.
It was just enough for her to lose focus on the cards in both of our hands for me to grab hers and make it away with the entire deck now in my hand. I rose and darted away from her, waving the cards above my head. "I win, I win, I win!"
She sat on the ground in a defeated manner with this smug but cute and enjoying grin on her face. Rose folded her arms across her like a cute little child, and she shouted with a laugh as I ran around the room. "Cheaters never win! And if they do, they don't deserve it!"
Oh, boo-hoo. I was having too much fun to care.
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