THE PREVIOUS CHAPTER HAS BEEN EDITED AND ADDED TO! WITHOUT READING THE NEW ENDING THIS CHAPTER WILL NOT MAKE SENSE TO YOU. amen.
sooooo hello. thanks for reading. new chapter. yay. although its short and its not edited, so... sorry!
– CHAPTER ELEVEN –
DEATH IS A FEARFUL THING
Narcissa was struggling. Cadmus had watched throughout the weeks as she grew more and more distant of Lucius, as she broke off their engagement, as the rumours about Abraxas Malfoy and the investigation into his involvement in the retirement of the first ever Muggle-born Minister grew and festered.
Lucius, too, looked forlorn. Ever since Cadmus had denied attending his Christmas party, everything had gone up-hill for Cadmus and down-hill for Lucius. Now, everyone saw Cadmus as some omniscient wise-ass who had predicted the shame that would come upon the Malfoy family; even the purebloods that had hated him just a few weeks ago, now revered him because "he had known the Malfoy family was dirt before everyone else."
So, Cadmus had efficiently risen to the top of the Slytherin social ladder. Within a few months. People were impressed, but others – say, Dumbledore – were… intrigued, it seemed.
By not attending the Malfoy party, Cadmus had effectively severed himself from one of the families Dumbledore knew was utterly and truly on the side of the Dark. And yet, it had been revealed, Cadmus had a snake…
"GET THAT THING AWAY FROM ME!"
Tilden Toots ran down the stairs of the Boy's Dorms, Cadmus and Gaspard hot on his heels.
"Don't be such a baby, Tilden, it is only a snake–"
"Wow, wow, wow," a Sixth Year Ravenclaw stood from the sofa, looking perplexed, "What do you mean, snake?"
"Well," said another, "he could be referring to the slithery thing wrapped around that Slytherin's shoulders, Clarence, you turd."
Selene huffed indignantly. "That 'slithery thing' is in fact one of the rarest magical snakes on this Earth, I'll have you know!"
Cadmus tried hard not to snort.
"I'M BEING SERIOUS, I HATE SNAKES, WHY COULDN'T YOU BE NORMAL AND HAVE AN OWL OR SOMETHING?"
Clearing his throat, Cadmus shared a look with Gaspard and shrugged. "Snakes are more fun. My family, proud Slytherins, were extremely happy for me to have a snake as my familiar…"
"And that isn't just any snake," said the turd, Clarence, "that's an Iridescent Shieldtail, isn't it?"
Cadmus nodded, and Selene hissed, "And aren't I gorgeous?"
"Wow, she is?"
"Have you taught him any tricks?"
"What's its name?"
"Is it really your familiar, or just your pet?"
"My familiar," assured Cadmus. "And she can do a great many things. Care for a demonstration?"
It took only one nod, and then everyone in Ravenclaw had grown trunks in the place of noses, had their hair dyed all sorts of colours, and had fireworks bursting to life above them.
Clarence was the first to speak up, colour cast upon his cheeks. "Cool," he said. "I wish I had a snake."
And the sentiment, it seemed, was shared.
This little display went down very well with the rest of the school and Selene was very pleased to no longer be hidden in Cadmus' overly hot gown, but Dumbledore looked upon the snake dubiously. Dumbledore obviously did not yet trust Cadmus, he had no reason to. But, slowly yet surely, Cadmus would win him over. One way or another.
It was only a couple of months before the end of term when Cadmus entered his room in the early afternoon when everyone was at lunch to find Narcissa Black sat elegantly on his bed – but she was clearly distressed.
"Cousin," said Cadmus warily. "To what do I owe the pleasure?"
"Enough," she said, "My Lord, I need your help. Lucius needs your help."
Cadmus scowled. "I'm nobodies Lord, Narcissa."
"Please, Cousin," she said.
Cadmus remained posed for a moment, then sighed and sat opposite her on Gaspard's bed. "I don't know what I can do for Lucius."
"Of course you do," she said, "Thanks to him, and your efforts in school, you are at the top of the Slytherin social ladder. You can raise him back up. You can extend the arm of friendship. You know they won't find anything to convict Abraxas, Cadmus, let alone send him to trial! If anything, it will help you; they will continue to see you as some manner of omniscient god, and you will be upheld as the man who… exonerated a socially outcast Slytherin."
It was true, thought Cadmus, and he had hated seeing Narcissa upset. For all her misgivings, she was a truly good person, deep down, who only wanted to protect and love those closest to her. "I have wanted to help you ever since I saw how much severing all ties with Lucius has affected you," he said, slowly starting to smile. "Albeit, maybe there is something here to gain for myself, but seeing a woman in misery is something I cannot abide. And Lucius' attempts to regain your attention have been a little sickening to watch I admit."
Narcissa laughed, and her hair was undone and it fell into her face, and that was the sign of a suffering aristocrat: dishevelled hair.
"Done and done," she said, looking shiny and new. "Thank you, Cousin."
"You owe me," said Cadmus.
Her smile was sharp. "Oh, do I?"
Family never owed Cadmus anything. It was almost as though she knew.
It took a few weeks. Slowly, he spoke to Lucius; both in dark corners in hushed tones as if they were discussing something truly important, and down in the Common Room with a few well-placed Silencing Charms. With each encounter, more and more people watched and wondered, and gave Lucius a few doubting looks.
A week after Cadmus had cemented his alliance with Lucius, news broke: nothing could be proved, Abraxas was innocent, and the Malfoy name was restored to rights. Narcissa took him back in a heartbeat. And Dumbledore, ever watchful, wondered.
"May I have some bacon today?" asked Selene glumly, "I am tired of this fasting."
Cadmus snorted as he shrugged on his robe that morning. "I am not starving you, I am trying to stop you from having a heart attack."
"I am a magical snake, we do not get fat, ugly, or ill."
"Nice try," said Cadmus. "Tell that to your gut."
Selene bit him and Cadmus laughed. It was good to have a friend.
"How did your father respond to your news?" she asked. Cadmus draped her across his shoulders. He did not leave her alone, ever, for fear she be snatched from him.
"Well, I think he did. I hope he did." Cadmus rubbed tiredly at his eyes. "Truly, he has been distant. I don't know what has happened. I fear a repeat of Christmas."
"Do not fret. He loves you."
"Does he?" asked Cadmus. "I suppose that is why he gave me a purple necklace?"
Selene looked displeased. "You have no idea of his sufferings."
"Selene, my dear, I know of his sufferings better than anyone." He closed his eyes. "Some days, I still wonder how this all came to be. Why I'm here."
"Don't ask such nonsense or your head will burst. Although… maybe if you gather the Hallows…"
"No. I will not face Death again."
Selene hissed unhappily. "You won't, will you? Then stop complaining and get me some bacon. I'm hungry."
"You're dreadful," replied Cadmus but he acquiesced, and headed for the Great Hall. However, not two steps outside of his dorm, Gaspard ran into him.
"Where are you off to in such a hurry, Gaspard?"
"To find you! Lucius has gone… mad… he's telling everyone–"
There was no need to hear anymore; Gaspard ran as fast as he could to the Great Hall, where Lucius was smirking at his peers as they all crowded around him, amazingly interested. Cadmus had presumed such displays were against the Slytherin Code of Modesty – but he had a feeling this gossip was worth the indiscretion.
"A Parselmouth?" one asked. "Are you sure?"
"On my mother's life," said Lucius smoothly. "He told me himself."
"You must mean a great deal to him. Does he hold you in high regard?"
"Oh, the highest. It was I that showed him the ropes around here, you know. I'm certain he owes me many favours."
"Truly? Imagine what he could do for you…"
Self-serving Slytherins. Lucius was a bigger idiot than Cadmus had thought and he had thought he was overestimating Lucius' idiocy. In fact, sometimes, he had thought Lucius was wickedly clever - but he was just another hungry fool.
"Lucius," Cadmus' simpered but it was like knives, and Lucius looked pleased to see him. He shouldn't have. "Lucius, what indiscretion are you sharing today, after I so modestly helped you and your father win your case and prove his innocence?" A lie. Lucius wouldn't deny it though.
"I had thought you would like your fellow Slytherins to know just how glorious you are." More like how glorious Lucius was; trying to prove he knew all, had all, and had under his thumb a very powerful Parselmouth. "I know you told me this in confidence but it is a gift to be shared. Surely you are in agreement?"
He was greedy, and devious, and wanted the fame and stature that Cadmus would eventually rise to. He knew threatening to reveal Cadmus' second language would not work - when he had worked that out, Cadmus was unsure, but Cadmus would have never cared if everyone found out he was a parselmouth - and so he did it to make it seem like he was something worth being friends with. A powerful ally.
Lucius prided himself on having friends in high places.
"Should I have wanted them to know, I would have told them," said Cadmus, "but I am sure you know best, Lucius." Humble and able to be underestimated, but still a person to admire, and a Parselmouth. Cadmus would lose no respect for this. "Well, then, I am sure I will see you at my ancestral home this Summer to share a few more secrets with you!" Cadmus winked like it was all fun and games. "Perhaps I will let you meet Selene properly. For now, though, she wants bacon. I shall speak to you later."
Lucius did not look wary. "Later, Mr. Black," he said.
Of course, Dumbledore had listened to the whole affair. He was hiding it well but Cadmus could see the cogs turning in his head; he would be vehement now that Cadmus was Tom Riddle's son and so Cadmus would do little to disprove it. There was no point. Now that trust had been stripped away, it was simply a matter of building it back up.
But not yet. Right now, Cadmus had to feed a snake some bacon, and prepare for the letter he was to write to his father. The End of Year Feast was fast approaching and Cadmus did not want to go home and be greeted with his father's luminous ire for the second time this year.
He wondered why it still hurt to think about, even long after the bruises had faded.