Disclaimer: I do not own 'Arry Potter, just this plot AND Miss Cassidy Valeska, a few well kept secrets, and the hot and sexy Troy Malfoy. I really would like to buy Draco too, but you know… he's worth more than I have.
This is the chapter you've been waiting for! A lot of you have
said "Where's the action in here?" and went all pissy on
me… okay, maybe like, TWO PEOPLE, but HERE IT IS. This is
where things get sticky and her life goes EMO! YEESS. This is where I
have fun… as weird as it sounds…
Chapter summary: With Draco gone, lessons with Narcissa and absolutely nothing to do otherwise, all Cassidy can do is sulk around in the library when she can, musing on the encounter she had with Draco over vacation. But when she hears and important conversation, spies an important message from a mysterious falcon, and sees the blueprints it bears, Lucius Malfoy gets angry, very angry. With new punishments in store and with the master of the House "working" out of his home, Cassidy learns why keeping it all inside was so important… even if it means her own death.
of Drawn Shades
Her Rightful Place
And in time, it would. But for now, since he had left, things would go steadily downhill. Lucius would, in turn, shift all attention towards her, and would not be kind in the least about it. It was time to show her the lowly position she was in, and only the highest dose of pain and humiliation could show her such.
But for now, she had to wait. Her fate was coming quicker, and there was nothing she could do to stop it.
It was only a week that had gone by, a week in which Cassidy gazed at pages and pages of books but took in not a single word. A week where all she did was contemplate Draco's actions and his angry words, the way he seemed to despise his father so and love his mother (though subtly) unconditionally. A week where Cassidy questioned herself.
Draco had kissed her, kissed her. She was stunned that he would come onto her like that, so straightforwardly, so soon, but he had, and she had been outraged. But why? Why was what made her think, what made her wonder what was so bad about Draco, why she shouldn't just let him kiss her.
Dignity, her mind huffed angrily. It was dignity.
But was it?
Cassidy, when she first met Draco, seemed to be familiar with him already, as if she knew that he was smooth, clever with his words and quick-witted. She thought that perhaps meeting him would make an everlasting impact just by looking at him, but she seemed to already know him, to already recognize his face.
Was it his parents? Draco had the exact facial build as Lucius, it seemed, but he had Narcissa's shapely lips and eyes, however silver they were.
But still, he might've inherited Lucius' and Narcissa's features, but just because she knew that did not mean that she would know him. She knew what he looked like; there was no doubt in her imagination, nothing to change, nothing to ponder about, because a week seemed to be long enough for her to remember every shape, every contour, every curve, every feature that he could hold.
She was almost positive that she had known him before she had woken up. But Draco had no idea who she had been, so how in the world did that add up? His face and attitude was so familiar that it bothered her to a point where she would do nothing but scowl for minutes on end about it. She knew him, plain and simple.
She just didn't know how she could've.
And thus started her personal mystery of figuring out her memory and scanning every bit of it for Draco Malfoy.
"Yes?" Cassidy asked politely, looking up from the pages of her book.
Narcissa was hovering over her, her blue eyes narrowed in a kind of condescending contempt. She made a little impatient noise, and Cassidy immediately corrected her mistake.
"Yes ma'am? Is there anything I can do for you?" Even at the fact that Narcissa still looked unsatisfied with her polite words, Cassidy felt the urge to roll her eyes greatly; there was no satisfying this woman!
"I wasn't aware you were a servant, girl," Narcissa answered her coldly. "You do not ask to do something, but instead you are told, and you do it. You are not a House-Elf, and degrading yourself as such implies that your life demands you to act that way. And thus saying, it is insulting the Malfoy name."
Confused, Cassidy continued to look silently up at Narcissa, clouded thoughts fogging her brain. Although the words of the Malfoy wife made sense, they seemed stitched with dangerous insinuations, and the young girl had no idea what she meant by it.
"Now," Narcissa started. "I came here to inform you that I'll be continuing with my lessons with you in an hour or so, and later this week, my husband will also tutor you."
Arching an eyebrow, Cassidy asked why. "I mean," she said hastily. "What for? Why have another tutor me if you already are?" There was a tense silence, and Cassidy added "Ma'am?" rather awkwardly.
"Academics… and other things," Narcissa said slowly, a hand placed on her slender waist, and the other under inspection; Cassidy thought this action of Narcissa's was in vain, or to cover up for her own confusion because the Malfoy had perfectly manicured nails.
"What do you mean, other things? What sort of other things?" she asked Narcissa suspiciously. What else could be taught except for the (rather stupid) things Narcissa trained her in?
Narcissa continued to examine every inch of her perfect nails, while at the same time Cassidy noticed the very faint line deepen in her forehead, as if in confusion. This caused the girl to stare suspiciously at Narcissa, thinking quickly herself.
What did she know about Lucius Malfoy? He was married to Narcissa, had a son named Draco (who seemed to know his way with the witches), was immensely wealthy and powerful, and overall, despised Cassidy for absolutely no reason, but seemed to think her a walking plague.
So, if he was wealthy, why not hire a tutor to teach Cassidy instead of wasting his own precious time (Merlin knew he was going to blame it on her when they started anyways!) with his own life? And why teach her himself when he bloody hated her?
Now, she thought, putting aside all of these very obvious things, there was something that was actually more important than why he wanted to teach her: what he was going to teach her.
Academics? The thought did not sound very promising, or very authentic. What could be taught to the girl? She wasn't stupid; she surely didn't need to be taught any schoolwork.
But then what? The question echoed the cavern of her mind. What could Lucius be educating her about? Something for the future? More about the Malfoys, so she wouldn't be so clumsy, such a screw-up?
No, she thought firmly to herself. If he's got to do it himself, it's got to be something extremely important to him… or to me, for me. But what?
"I don't know what other things, I didn't ask," Narcissa snapped, extending her hand and admiring the shine of her nails. Cassidy started, breaking out of her reverie, and looked back up at Narcissa. She was tempted to ask that, maybe, possibly, could Lucius be training her for something, rather than teaching her?
It cannot be what I'm thinking of, but something much bigger than I imagined, she mused. It was not memorizing spells and recalling dates, but something that had to be more vital than that… but she could not fathom what it could be.
"Are you sure its academics?" Cassidy questioned slowly, hoping she could imply without seeming to be. "Could it be, I don't know, something other than what I could learn in school?"
Cassidy dropped her eyes, knowing her words were too blunt, and that Narcissa would pick up that she was implicating something other than, well, academics.
Narcissa's eyes were narrowed when Cassidy returned her gaze. "What exactly do you mean?" the woman asked sharply.
Look at the corner you're in, her mind moaned. "I err, I meant that, well, I'm not stupid, I don't think I'd need a tutor for schooling, or—or anything," she answered anxiously, hands twisting the hem of her dress. Now she had to answer Narcissa, who would nit-pick every single word she said until she discovered the answer.
"So? You've only gone through six years of schooling, not the required seven. He will be tutoring you in academics, as well as other things. Things that you have no right to question about, understood?" she growled.
…Or maybe Cassidy wouldn't have to sit through a nervous interrogation, for it seemed that Narcissa sensed the direction of the girl's thoughts, and did not want to tread into that territory.
Narrowing her eyes at the girl, Narcissa drew her wand in a fluid motion and held it, letting the tip rest in her opposite palm. Cassidy glanced between Narcissa's unreadable face and the wand nestled in her hands; what would be happening today?
"Now moving from Lucius to myself, I've decided that since training you in miscellaneous subjects in no particular order is not the proper thing to do, I've created a schedule. I decided that I'll be educating you in six mandatory subjects: dining, speech, fashion, dancing, music, and if I feel as if I'd like to give up my Saturday afternoons, miscellaneous things," Narcissa listed in a drawl, sounding extremely bored at having to explain.
"Well," Cassidy hesitated, not exactly sure whether her response was to be positive, or negative, or questionable. "How—how long are these tutoring sessions, exactly?"
"12:30 after lunch until 5 o'clock before dinner. You'll have one 20 minute break 'round 2:30. The rest of the day, and before we start, belongs to Lucius and his training. Some days we may agree to alternate and you shall belong to myself or to him all hours until time to retire," she drawled, both hands delicately on her waist, her thin eyebrows arched superiorly.
"Alright," the girl agreed quietly, still confused. A thought occurred to her: "But what are the hours I train with Lucius—" Narcissa started in fury and opened her mouth to snarl at Cassidy's great error, but she corrected herself hastily; "—Mr. Malfoy, I mean. What are his hours if I spend the majority of the day with you?"
"I'm not aware of his schedule yet, but I can deduce that it would be relatively early, and proceeding when I'm done with you," she sighed, clearly bored. Cassidy frowned at the woman, but asked nothing more.
Narcissa's lessons would take up most of the day, leaving the precious few hours of daylight to Lucius. But at this time of year, sundown was round 5 or 6 o'clock, near the time Narcissa's teachings ended. Would Lucius stand to train in the dark? And if he actually would, how long into the night?
Wait, did she say relatively early? That meant that not only would Lucius handle the night, but the morning too? She wasn't sure, and she wasn't sure if she really even wanted to know. If Lucius Malfoy could only have a few hours into the dark, then he would take all the daylight and the morning twilight too… and only Merlin knew how many hours that was.
"Now, since today is Wednesday, I'll be starting you on fashion. Now, first I had only introduced speech and dining to you, partly because they were mandatory to learn quickly, and relatively easy to teach," Narcissa drawled. "But because I will have your undivided attention—" Cassidy looked up from her book and at Narcissa innocently; "for multiple days on end, you should pick up these skills, and enthusiastically so.
"And I warn you, it will not be easy, not at first. Not in anything I will teach to you will you automatically know what you're doing and do it with grace. You must learn, remember, and practice the basics, which vary to numerous different things. Every one of them will be difficult to remember, but with the circumstances you will be under, you will remember them," she told Cassidy, somewhat grimly.
The slightly ominous attitude changed abruptly when Narcissa clapped her hands sharply, barking "Up! Get up!" at Cassidy, who hasted to get out of her chair. She felt very awkward, somehow, standing in front of the elegant Malfoy woman.
"Fashion is something that can tell you literally hundreds of different things about a person. It can tell their wealth, their status, their popularity, their fashion sense, and other significant facts about them," the Malfoy listed. "Firstly, I think I'm going to test you a bit because clearly you have no sense in fashion at all, and if you do, I would like to know about it."
"Alright," Cassidy agreed slowly, not particularly sure what was going to happen.
"Tell me, what kinds of shoes can you wear with trousers?" Narcissa asked delicately.
There was a long silence in which Cassidy racked what little knowledge she had of fashion; how in the hell would she know what kinds of shoes to wear? Why in the hell would she care what kinds of shoes she could wear? Really, it made no sense to the girl, but Cassidy knew that if she provided a wrong answer, the Malfoy wouldn't be too happy with her.
"All—all kinds?" she responded cautiously, cringing when Narcissa glared at her.
"Certainly not! There are many different aspects to consider before choosing. If the trousers are long, then perhaps any kind is alright," she snapped. "It still depends on the color, the style, the place you are attending, and who will be in attendance. If you plan to do a lot of moving around, then that should be an influence on your choice."
"Oh," Cassidy muttered, embarrassed at how easily Narcissa corrected her, how much more she knew. The girl knew for sure that she would never let Narcissa beat her so easily again; she would study before her lessons the next time.
"Don't you see, girl? There are so many different aspects to consider for anything you do, that every step that you take must be planned with painstaking care or you have set yourself up, walking straight into the Chimera's den. You cannot be ignorant about anything… it will do you great harm if you are," the woman warned ominously.
"Even with fashion?" Cassidy asked incredulously, and knew a split-second too late that asking in disbelief was a huge mistake.
Narcissa slammed her hand down on the table, the crack! echoing so sharply that Cassidy jumped. Narcissa glared at her, her perfect, shapely face twisted up in fury.
"Stupid girl!" she shrieked so loudly that Cassidy threw her arms up in defense, startled. "Have you not learned anything from what I have taught you? You idiot, I cannot believe that you, as determined as you are, would be as pathetic to test my limits by asking the obvious!"
"I—I—" Cassidy stammered, shocked and at a loss for words.
"Narcissa, what's all this yelling for?" inquired a silky voice. Both girls turned to the source of the voice, and Cassidy felt her heart drop a little in worry at the sight of Lucius.
"Her!" Narcissa screeched. "That idiot girl! I can't stand her!" she cried, pointing an accusing finger at Cassidy.
"Calm down Narcissa, no need to throw a fit over nothing. It can be taken care of," he assure lightly, taking his wife in his arms for a moment.
"No I will not—" Narcissa snapped, but Lucius shushed her.
Cassidy was too bemused and mesmerized at the kind behavior of Lucius Malfoy to notice him approaching her. When she did, he had grabbed her by the scruff of the neck and started dragging her towards the Library doors.
"Hey!" Cassidy protested, struggling. "I'll leave myself, but just please let go of me!" she cried, very uncomfortable. He had the cloth of her collar fisted so tightly that she was nearly being strangled, and the steady loss of light-headedness was preventing her from getting to her feet, therefore preventing her to stop the strangling.
Lucius paid no attention to her, and when he got to the doors, he wrenched them open and threw her so harshly out that she slammed against the opposite wall, bending her arm at an odd angle. The pain that consumed her limb did not allow her to notice the sharp slam of the library doors.
The little bolts of pain subsided eventually, but still, there was a dull ache flickering through her nerves that made her cringe each time she felt it. Cradling her arm, she pushed herself from the wall, and after throwing an angry glance at the library doors, she set off in search of... well, something. Chances were, she would get lost. She would settle for the main foyer, or the ballroom, or that little tea parlor or something.
Her mind set off in a storm, not paying attention in the least to where her feet were guiding her, but to the little details that her mind provided, the ones that could be clues, hints, secrets to what was so important. Of course, what was important to her, at the moment? She wanted to figure out what influenced Lucius to make the decision to teach her himself, instead of hiring a tutor. She wanted to find out what made the father injure his own son. She wanted to find out what they had been implication, the secret under the veil they wore.
She was nearly desperate to know, but what clues did she have? Nothing, except that Lucius had stabbed his own son, and even still, Draco had covered it up, claiming it to be a Hippogriff injury. And his mother actually believed that? Even Narcissa, as prissy as she was, could've caught the anger between father and son.
Unless they're like that all the time... that way, she would have paid no attention to it at all! Cassidy sighed, dropping and bending her arm to see if the pain had gone away.
Abruptly her arm set on fire, and with a surprised gasp, it bolted down her arm in feathery patterns and set her fingers aflame.
"What in the hell?" she cried, waving her hand about, hoping to cool it down. It was no use, and just as well, because her other hand was just as charged up as its partner.
Clenching her fingers in pain, she pressed her hands between her knees, squeezing hard, willing to try anything that would stop the sudden bout of fire. Both hands were hotter than ever, each tip set aflame more than the rest. Pain jolted up and down her arm in bolts, setting her nerves up in a flurry of panic. She dropped to her knees with a tense cry of pain as the fire suddenly struck down her spine, rendering her defenseless. Her hands were taut and claw-like, the ridged tendons abnormally large and strained.
A growl of suppressed pain rose in her throat, and she fought it with all the concentration she had, trying to focus on keeping under control as the fire gripped her spin and nerves, forcing her body to twitch randomly and twist more fire into her bones. It stumbled out of her throat in a hoarse cry, and she slammed down her hands to the expensive carpet, gripping the little loops of fine material, wrenching them out as her body seized up again.
She tumbled over as her body was set into another painful dose of fire, and she slammed into the wall. She wailed out, clutching what she could of the paper, and pulled her body up slowly, stopping as she fell and stumbled as she fought what was overcoming her.
"Help," she managed to croak out. "House—elf—anyone—please!"
Her pained begging, although weak and very faint, did not go unnoticed. There was a crack, (oh, the heavenly sound) and a house-elf was suddenly standing before Cassidy.
"Is Miss alright?" the elf squeaked.
"No," she choked out. "Water—ice—anything cold."
"Yes, Miss. Winnie will return shortly Miss," the elf squeaked, and dissolved into air again with a sharp crack. Cassidy gasped as fire pervaded her lungs, rising up in her throat, but it died only a moment later.
Another sharp crack echoed, followed by two others. Three house-elves, together holding a giant bucket, looked uncertainly at Cassidy. She beckoned them with difficulty, and when they were close enough, she plunged her arms all the way until they were crushed by the bottom.
The sudden freezing water against the blazing hot of her arms caused her muscles to freeze and numb up, and she sighed, lured into false relief. The cold, however, did not stop it. The fire flared much harder, as if determined to sting even worse now that she had tried to subdue it, and she shrieked when the water started boiling, despite being nearly frozen only minutes before.
She snatched her hands out of the water, the house-elves darting away from it and standing before her gingerly. Her hands stung like salt on an open wound, and she shook them furiously, stressed, hurt tears swelling in her eyes.
"Can we do anything more for you Miss?" one of the three elves squeaked. Cassidy shook her head, biting her lip to keep from sobbing in frustration at the odd behavior of her body.
"No, thank you," she managed, wringing her hands about.
"We is welcome, Miss. T'was a pleasure to help, Miss," they squeaked, and they disappeared as soon as they had arrived.
Great, Cassidy thought miserably. The pain had dimmed, oh yes, but now it was throbbing like a fresh bruise, and she was stuck nursing it until the throb was faint enough to ignore.
She shifted back and crawled to the wall, placing her back against it and staring down at her hands in wonder. What the hell had provoked the sudden fit of fire on her hands? What sort of function in her body could even do that? It was understood that twitching and stabbing pains could occur randomly, and more severe pain when the body was sick or injured, but for God's sake, nothing like this had ever happened to her before!
Nothing? The whispered echoed her mind, and she narrowed her eyes in thought. Her eyelids fluttered closed… and she remembered.
She was still unconscious even as she fought desperately to get away from the pain. Searing, blinding pain had slowly consumed her fingertips, washing over her hands in threads of agony and delicately working its way up her arms in feather-like strokes. Her fingers clenched, but they felt as if thumbtacks were being forced on every inch of her skin. Her body was numb.
Cassidy opened her eyes with a startled gasp, her lungs suddenly devoid of any air. She sucked in her breath, hard, and realized it had happened once, only once before.
When she woke: she had such a clouded memory of her awakening, what had happened around her, why it had happened. All she knew… the pain she knew then, it was worse, a thousand times worse. It affected not just her fingers and arms, but her whole body. Everything in her skin and flesh and bone. All of it.
She knew what it was now. The pain that had suddenly swallowed her today was some kind of aftermath, or some kind of continuation of what had happened then. So violently it had taken her, scarring her memory, despite her efforts to recall just the tiniest detail. She could remember the whole thing, she knew it all, but she did not know the reason. And what could it be?
Her eyes slowly slid shut, as if falling on their own will, and she was sucked into something that was no quite a part of her.
…Pain seeped through her veins and showered her with random hot pangs through her arms and fingers. She was drifting in and out of the terrible pain, and each time her fingers twitched she was more acutely aware… the throbbing grew horribly intense in her palms and fingertips.
"Stop it!" she yelled suddenly, and was startled at the hoarseness of her own voice. She sucked in a shuddering breath, her body trembling, and clutched the wall behind her. She felt as if something was missing, something that was terribly important but something she would never understand, when she realized what it was: the pain.
The pain had stopped.
Standing, and stretching her cooled fingertips, Cassidy sighed in thought: now she knew what had happened before, what had caused this, but never would she understand what the flashes of images had been about…
Not for another nine years, anyways.
Breakfast the next morning at 8:30 (too early, in Cassidy's opinion) could only be described in one word: unnerving.
Well actually, that wasn't true. It was a tense, silent meal. The house-elves served the food, and when she politely thanked the Elf (Cassidy reasoned with herself that it was the thing to set him off) Lucius was furious. He said nothing, but as soon as the words slipped from her mouth, the Malfoy positively radiated with fury.
She knew that he was disgusted and livid at her actions because she had glanced at him, just looking around the room for something to occupy her empty mind, and his enraged, silver eyes pinned her down.
She didn't quite understand why Lucius had to get so mad over a damned Thank You, but he had, and undeniably so. She had been polite to a creature that most considered inferior, but not her. They were living beings, they could think, they could create life, they could follow directions and understand things. They were born with the right to respect and equal rights.
And apparently, she was the only one who thought of them that way.
Still, the majority of the meal, Cassidy worried about Lucius' natural anger towards her. She had done nothing, really. There was only one incident, and it was the previous day. It was actually Narcissa's fault, because the woman had complained about Cassidy and Lucius had created a solution: throw the girl out into the hallway without considering the possibility that she would just leave if he told her to.
No, the man was simply blinded by his rage.
Narcissa was silent through most of the meal, understandably. She was reading the newspaper that had come at the beginning of breakfast, and seemed engrossed in the text. Numerous times Cassidy had glanced at the woman to see a line in her forehead deepen in thought.
At one point, she folded the page and flipped to the front, scanning the story. Cassidy caught the bolded letters for just a second before Narcissa dropped the paper.
Mysterious death of whom? Cassidy asked herself, recalling the headline.
"Lucius, what are they doing about the Mudblood now? I heard the Muggle-loving fool is fighting to keep this case open," Narcissa inquired. Cassidy, listening in boredom, did not register the words she had said until a moment after.
"I don't know," he sighed. "No doubt the old man is going to go onto a world-wide crusade, or something equally ridiculous. Really, she's been taken care of, and I don't understand why the Prophet can't let the fact die down," he drawled.
"Do you think they'll proceed to Poland, eventually?" Narcissa asked, skimming over the article again. At the mention of the country, Cassidy looked up.
Draco had said something about Poland, but what was it? …"You know what mass destruction in Poland? It was a revolt led by you, you filthy little murderer!"
She blinked at remembering his words, and stared down at her plate, listening intently to the exchanged words.
"They would never be able to identify the link between the Death and the Revolt. They have no evidence," he assured her quietly.
"But what about Gra—" Narcissa started, but Lucius cut her off suddenly.
"Enough, Cissa," he said firmly. At this point, the girl's eyes rose to view their silent exchange: Narcissa opened her mouth to continue, but Lucius gave her a pointed look, his eyes darting to Cassidy for just a second.
A second in which they both realized that she had been listening.
"What do you think you're doing?" Lucius snarled at her, his hands clenched and her jaw taut. Narcissa was glaring at her too, and Cassidy suddenly felt very small
Eyes timidly darting between husband and wife, she shrunk in her chair and dropped her eyes to her plate, feeling as if her listening had been a major intrusion.
Lucius was still glaring at her, she could feel it.
The silence spiraled horribly, and Cassidy tried to ignore the dreadful feeling that suddenly decided to drape itself over her. She shifted the food on her plate, and forced herself to recall other things, not just the fact that she was so angrily hated by Lucius, Narcissa and Draco.
The silence was blissfully broken by a house-elf appearing out of thin air, making Cassidy jump slightly. Humbling the creature approached Lucius.
"Yes? What is it?" the Malfoy sneered.
"A Mr. Nott is here to sees Master," the elf informed him. "He is informing Donnie that he is here because of importance, Master."
Cassidy frowned at the elf, but did not allow Lucius to see her look.
Narcissa looked to her husband. "Theodore? What could he possibly want?" she asked.
"I know what he's here for, don't worry," Lucius replied grimly.
"Well, what is it?" Narcissa asked again, her voice firm and demanding.
"Halloween," he replied brusquely, pushing out of his chair. He threw the napkin that had been tucked into his robes onto the plate. "I'll only be absent a minute, Narcissa. Don't look at me like that," he added indignantly to Narcissa's penetrating look.
Once he left the room, and his footsteps no longer echoed off the marble, Narcissa scowled and threw her napkin down too.
"These men and their damn business," she muttered angrily to herself, storming out of the room after Lucius.
Once she was sure that there was no one near the dining room at all, Cassidy voiced to no one but herself, "Well, that was certainly interesting."
She pushed the food around on her plate and allowed herself to dive into thought again. The only thing that was majorly significant on her mind was the exchange between Lucius and Narcissa. Obviously, the woman was in the dark about something, especially with her questioning about Lucius' friend that had appeared.
Poland, she thought suddenly. Lucius had mentioned the Revolt, which apparently she herself had led. Now that was a thought hard to believe, but she knew it to be true.
The death, the murder: of whom? And in which way were they connected? Cassidy knew they had something to do with each other because Lucius had said it himself.
Wait, murder? Cassidy frowned at her own thought. It had never been said straight out that it was a murder, but then, why did it feel accurate to claim that it was?
"… She's been taken care of, and I don't understand why the Prophet can't let the fact die down…"
Lucius. Lucius had said that, had mentioned that the victim had been taken care of, which meant murdered, no doubt. But how would he know that, if the rest of the world believed it to be a death?
Maybe he had a part in it, Cassidy thought suddenly. The idea of a man like him helping to murder someone… well, it wasn't a completely surprising thought.
Assuming that Lucius had murdered someone, Cassidy decided she wanted to know who had been murdered. Had there been any clues?
Yes, her mind decided instantly. Narcissa said "Mudblood" at some point. And almost, she almost said the surname. What could "Gra" turn out to be?
Cassidy said there for a moment, biting her lip and drumming her fingers on the table, thinking harder than she ever could've. She sighed, after a moment, and closed her eyes to focus better.
"… But I thought it would've been the Granger girl, Lucius."
Her eyes flew open in realization: Granger. The surname of the girl who died was Granger.
Not that it solves a lot, Cassidy thought wryly. But what else do I know about a girl named Granger? Absolutely nothing. All I know is that she's dead, and she's Muggle-born.
She opened her eyes again, sighing in frustration, and closed them again. She cupped the tired lids, and another memory of hers entered her mind.
"…That wand belongs to a girl who is dead…"
Cassidy had completely forgotten about the wand that she had owned for mere minutes before Narcissa had snatched it away from her. But what the woman had said didn't make sense.
If this Granger girl was dead, and the Malfoys had their wand, Lucius surely had a part in the murder and both Narcissa and Lucius knew more than she did, why the hell wasn't the family being investigated?
Because they're wealthy, she thought cynically, frowning as she realized it was true.
She sighed and closed her eyes again. "… She was on our property last before her death, and her wand had not left the premises… It belonged to her, and now, it belongs to us. Not to you, but to the Malfoy name…"
So did that mean that Muggle-born Granger had been murdered at the Malfoy Manor?
That means there must be evidence somewhere in this house, Cassidy realized, excitement pouring into her.
But then… "… no, you don't understand, 'Cissa… some last minute changes… couldn't afford to use the Mudblood… understand, don't you?"
But that fragmented memory implied that the murder had not taken place, as they could "not afford to use the Mudblood." If they had indeed killed this Granger girl, who else could they be talking about?
Comprehension dawned on her, and a terrible thought crossed her mind: what if I'm Muggle-born too?
Before she could question herself any farther, there was a loud tapping noise to her left. She started out of her deep thoughts, and looked out the high windows to see a falcon hovering, holding a large bundle of parchment. Cassidy immediately left her seat and opened the window, allowing the bird to fly in.
It perched automatically at the Head chair of the table, its sharp talons gripping the carved wood of the throne-like chair. It opened its beak to Cassidy's curious look and gave a high noise, causing her to blink a few times in wonder.
She moved forward to remove the parchment tied to its claw, but the bird made a menacing peck towards her hand, and she flinched and snatched her hand away. Obviously, the parchment was meant for another.
Deciding it was best to sit and continue her breakfast, she closed the window and moved for her seat. As soon as she sat, however, there was a loud hoot and another loud rapping noise.
An owl was perched on a branch outside, holding a letter in its beak. Cassidy sighed and went to go open the window again. The bird entered, flying a silent lap around the room before it descended near the head chair.
Before she even knew what was going on, there was a loud squawk! Shrill, high screams and angry wings reverberated through the room, and Cassidy shrieked and dove for the floor as the fighting birds flew around, circling each other like a courtship dance.
The owl dived for the falcon's chest, and the swift bird moved fast enough to escape injuries, but not fast enough to preserve the parchment it had been carrying. Ripped in half, torn slightly in some places, the bundle drifted slowly through the air, and Cassidy caught it before it could hit the ground.
Placing it on the table, she watched in bewilderment as the birds continued to fight. Feathers flew, high indignant noises following, before the shredded letter fell from the air. The owl swerved up and did a loop, the falcon fast on its tail, and in a deadly chase, the birds pursued each other out into the air.
Cassidy stood silently for a minute, gazing at the spot where the birds had fought and flew away. She frowned, and turned to look at the torn parchment the birds had dropped.
One of them was a large scroll with a bluish tint to it. It had a large grid to it, rectangles and shapes placed neatly over its surface. There was curvy, script writing marking things, question marks and horizontal lines skipping across the page. Circles fell off the paper, and onto another piece of parchment below it.
Cassidy gingerly moved the top piece and looked at the next, which seemed to be only a floor-plan. Frowning, she lifted it and gazed at the next, which was even more detailed than the last.
Placing the blue-print-like scroll of parchment back onto the table, she glanced at the letter for a second, just observing how badly it was ripped, and if anything could be read despite it being shredded so badly.
The blue-print scroll was no doubt more interesting than this letter, so she reached for it again.
Curiosity had certainly gotten the best of her, because she was reading the parchment she had in her hands, looking through it, without thinking of any consequences she might face if she were to be caught. It was invading privacy, reading someone else post.
And it wasn't just anyone's post.
It belonged to Lucius.
Her eyes were glued to the labels on the rectangles; Elite floor, Initiation Hall, High Torture Chamber…
What is this? Cassidy asked herself, bemused. Torture Chamber? What exactly is this a blue-print of?
Confused, she lifted the letter to her eyes, lowering the blue-print. She only caught a single sentence (… You know what to do with Granger) before the (undeniably) worst thing occurred.
The doors to the dining room opened, revealing a bickering husband and wife. Cassidy looked up at the sound, not realizing how badly it looked to see her reading someone else's post.
Narcissa stopped in mid-sentence and gaped at the girl, who was staring back, too surprised at their sudden entrance to move.
"Narcissa? What—" Lucius turned to see what was so horrible that it rendered her speechless, and then he laid eyes on Cassidy.
Only for a moment, his expression was wide and blank with confusion. Then, his eyes narrowed to slits, his lips lifted in a furious snarl, and his face twisted into seething anger.
Cassidy, wide-eyed and gaping, dropped the parchment and backed against the wall as he angrily strode for her. He was absolutely furious, his body tense and ridged with anger, a bestial snarl clawing its way out of his throat, his livid silver eyes pinning her against the wall with all the danger and strength he had within him.
She only managed to blurt "It was the birds!" in her self-defense before he struck her so hard across the face she flew back into the wall and dropped to the floor.
Still with shock, she touched her cheek slowly, suddenly feeling the shooting, stabbing pains that were blooming across her face. Blood dripped down her cheek, the open wound stinging fiercely, and before she knew what she was doing, she was fleeing out of the room and down the hall, crying noisily.
The door slammed behind her, and Lucius let out a raw snarl of fury. He stormed for the door to chase after the stupid girl, but Narcissa stepped in his path calmly and gripped his shoulders.
"Get out of the way!" he growled at her. She refused to move, and had a very dry expression on her face. "Do you have any idea how important those documents were?"
"If you get her blood on any of my fine things, you will be in trouble," she warned him. He let out a jagged, raging breath of anger, and Narcissa stepped out of his way.
He grabbed the handle and slammed the door shut, storming up the hallway. His knuckles were ridged and white as he clutched his silver snake-headed cane.
Cassidy, wherever she was, was in trouble.
I deserved it, she told herself miserably, examining the large bruise that had blossomed across her face. I read his post. How stupid can I get?
She sniffed the few stray tears away, and lightly running her fingers over the dark bruise, she discharged a worried sigh. Now that she had gone and done something as idiotic as she had, Lucius would surely have it in for her.
She sniffled one last time, testing the sore tenderness of the bruise, before glaring at herself and exiting the loo. She shouldn't be feeling sorry for herself when she had been stupid enough to read his things.
With an anxious sigh, she softly closed the door and ambled slowly down the hallway, thinking darkly of the rage Lucius would surely display when she was in his sight again.
She turned a corner slowly, dragging her fingers along the wall, her eyes cast downward. She became still for a moment, confusion entering her mind when she found herself looking at a pair of very expensive shoes.
She could not control herself: horrified, she looked up into the eyes of Lucius Malfoy, murderous and angrier than ever; his teeth were bared, his knuckles taut against his cane.
She let out a squeak of surprise and stumbled back, but in a second he had a vice-grip against her neck and slammed her face-first into the wall. She let out a noise of fright, but it was soon swallowed in the seething bellowing of the Malfoy.
"You stupid, foolish piece of scum!" he snarled, holding onto her neck even tighter; her body shuddered, unable to move at the shock of the grip he had on her spine. "How dare you invade my privacy like that! You've been making stupid mistakes since you first woke up, you cretin! I'm sick of dealing with your idiocy! I've have enough!"
He withdrew his hand from her so swiftly, she nearly fell back at the lack of it. Her body was rejoicing at the sudden freedom, but a moment later, it was screaming in pain.
Rearing back his arm, he brought down his cane brutally on her shoulder-blades, so hard and so fast the air sang. The crack that occurred echoed the hallway, drowned by Cassidy's painful shrieking.
She clawed at the wall, burying her face into it, screaming into the expensive paper as he continued to beat her. Little strips of fire rose in her back, purple welts that would not be there for long, areas of pain that would remain pressed into her memory.
Her trembling legs gave way beneath her, and she fell, curling slowly together, crying softly at the horrible pain, pain that was worse than her fingertips on fire, pain that was worse than Narcissa's cuffing, accompanied by angry words.
Pain that was worse than anything she ever could've imagined.
She doubled over, dry heaving and coughing spasmodically when he kicked her swiftly in the stomach. She rolled feebly to her side, desperate to get away from the torture when his toe struck her harshly in the back. For a moment, she was still, her muscles seizing up quickly, an odd sound creeping out of her throat, and her mind wiped totally and completely blank.
The grey seeped into her vision, and suddenly the breath was stuck in her throat, a dry knot that she could not swallow. A desperate noise escaped, followed by the screams that proceeded to get louder. She was being dragged by the crown of her head, and as painful as it was, she could not do a thing about it. Her limbs were still frozen in shock, only able to shift clumsily.
Growling, Lucius came to a halt rather abruptly, staring down at the flight of stairs before him. A cruel smile spread across this face, and without hesitation, he stood back and shoved the girl tumbling down the stairs.
The sensation of flying rose immense fear in her chest, but suddenly she was rolling over and over, edges sinking into her, striking her face and body so quickly that she had no time to scream out. Her legs were tangled, her arms bent around her abnormally as she tried to stop herself, but the only thing she accomplished was forcing herself to summersault down the stairs and fly into the opposite wall on the landing.
Her legs were shoved against the wall, her body resting on her neck and shoulders, before she slumped down, her body sprawled. She was drifting through misty unconsciousness, the searing pain nothing but a sharp memory.
She reached out weakly, trying to pull herself up, away, somewhere, but she did not get very far. There was a second of sweet bliss before a strong blow to her temple sent her reeling into darkness.
Lucius glared down at the wounded person at his feet, too disgusting to call a witch, and too hideous to call a female. To him, she was the monster that lurked inside every nightmare, the creature that would destroy them all.
She would not be spared, not in the least. He was going to put her through absolute hell, orders or not. If she was here, then he would've made her miserable anyways.
The little wench was going down.
He would see to it himself.
When Cassidy woke, the first thing she realized was the cold. It seeped into her lungs, making them seize up, and her first reaction was to cough.
She stopped suddenly, and a painful noise rose from her throat when her body was seared up in flames. Wounds throbbed, reminders of her punishment for the obvious stupidity she had. All over, tender areas were calling for salvage, but she could not help herself.
Her eyes slid open, dazed and out of focus for a minute, when she realized she was staring into inky darkness. It was a large cavernous room, it seemed, but she could not be sure: she could hardly see anything at all.
She arched, withering on the cold, damp floor, trying to suppress the fierce throbbing that was covering her whole body. She tried to move, but she could not; she tried to call out, but she could not.
Restraints, rusty and unctuous, held her down. Metals links, old and rotting and heavy, clamped onto her wrists and ankles, and surely, around her neck. There was some strong hold around her throat, forbidding her to draw a deep enough breath to rid herself of the light-headed feeling she had. She pulled her wrists, dragging the loud chains around with her, and tried to find some sort of clasp that would release the choking object on her throat.
It was thin, and tough, whatever it was. It seemed to travel around the back of her neck without any indentation or tie that held it all together. The only difference she could feel from the rest of it was in the hollow of her throat.
She ran her fingers over it slowly, concentrating on discovering her release than allowing herself to identify the agonizing pain. She could distinguish nothing at first but a shape; smooth, triangular and small, it was tight and penetrating against her skin, and she thought that perhaps it would be the clasp to release the choker.
She tugged and twisted it around, pushing in certain places and pulling in others, but nothing she did would force it to come undone. It was if whatever choker was on her neck would remain there forever.
There was a noise above her, so sudden that she jumped. Immediately she wished that she hadn't, for the throb that seemed to ache from her heart hurt even worse. Footsteps followed, leisurely and calm, dropping down the stairs high above her.
Fire rose again in her, and all she could do was groan feebly and arch her neck to see who had entered. The footsteps stopped in front of her, followed by an amused noise before a bright light lit up the room.
It was cavernous, she was right. Cobblestones plastered on every inch, shackles hanging in periodic spaces across the wall, multiple doors stationed at the end. The ceiling was dripping, the green fungi that was growing on every niche too moist to hold onto anymore water.
"Do you enjoy it down here, you miserable little wretch?" echoed Lucius' cold, silky voice. Cassidy swallowed the whimper in her throat and glared up at him. "You'd better, because from the way that you act, you piece of filth, you'll be spending all your time down here."
The girl remained silent, but she could not deny the ominous feeling that caused her heart to race.
"Never again, Valeska, will you have the freedom you had before. You are living under my roof, and will obey every single one of my rules. And now matter how hard you may try, nothing you do will be fit to my standards," he drawled, his voice hard and cold.
"There's no doubt in my mind that you've detected the restraint on your neck. It's a collar, and I though it very fitting for you. You're an annoying little bitch and nothing more than a piece of property now," he spat.
"That's not true!" she coughed suddenly, shudders racking her body.
"Oh, it isn't? Then tell me, why are you all tied up like some scrounge picked up off the streets?" he inquired, the cold, feigned curiosity in his voice unnerving.
"Because you tied me up, you murderer," she accused him in a hiss.
Lucius was silent for a moment longer than necessary, and she knew he was trying to pick his next words with painstaking care.
"And what evidence do you have against me, girl?" he growled in a low, quiet voice.
"You killed Granger, you plainly said it before," she whispered, eyes narrowed. An odd look came over his face; he looked suspicious of her, scrutinizing her with all the will he had in his body, but still, he looked furious suddenly.
"Things as absurd as that will not go unnoticed in the future. Lying is intolerable, and any punishment I find fit for you is acceptable," he replied quietly. "And you have lied, girl. Now you shall suffer the consequences of your actions."
He drew his wand slowly and held it over her. The cold, deep lines in his face lifted as a cruel smile crossed his mouth.
Lucius Malfoy was right, and she knew it. Any freedom of speech and of action that she had before she had met him had been taken away. No longer could she imply, no longer could she voice suspicions, not even to herself.
And no longer would she be allowed a mind of her own.
Author's Notes: okay, I'm sorry that took so long to update. I've been writing up a storm the last few days though, so I wanted to finish this chapter before I went on vacation again.
Anyway, this chapter is riddled with clues. I hope you find some!
Thank you for sticking with this story despite the long wait for the next chapters.