AN: Well here is the next installment. I will be away from all internet for the next three weeks so it will be the end of the month before my next post.
Chapter 12: In Italy Once Again
Lio looked at the blond next to him and blushed lightly. Ever since the four Brits had arrived earlier that week, Lio had felt different. Before he had always felt very comfortable in Draco's presence, now he didn't. It wasn't that he felt uncomfortable, it was just that when he looked into the grey eyes he felt flushed, and when Draco lightly stroked his hand he had a hard time breathing.
For the past month Draco had been sending him extra letters. Apollo still carried what Lio labelled as the "normal" letters. Letters in which he talked about what was going on in his life, letters Lio responded to. However, he also received letters that he didn't know how to respond to. Draco used an international post owl to send those. In them Draco told him what he liked about him, and how much he was desired.
The letters awakened something in Lio, and it confused him. Just thinking about them caused Lio to feel jittery, like there were butterflies inside him. He dropped his gaze. They weren't really talking about anything of importance, which was a good thing since for some reason he was having a hard time concentrating. He just hoped that he would regain his wits before their date at the end of the week.
Lio glanced at his family and noticed that those that watched them had amused expressions on their faces. He knew that as soon as he was alone with his family there would be comments. It was never mean spirited, but part of being in a large Italian family was gentle teasing.
He then looked over at Hermione, who was playing with two young children. He sighed in sorrow at the proof that not all stories can have happy endings. When the church's investigation had discovered that Hermione's former priest was the son of a squib with a grudge against the wizarding world, Lio had hoped that it would lead to a happy reconciliation between Hermione and her parents. It didn't turn out that way. His papa and Pablo had tried explained to the couple, but the damage had already been done. Instead of changing their mind they stubbornly held onto the idea that their daughter was of the devil.
The situation became worse when a casual scan showed that Hermione's younger bother and sister also showed signs of being magical. Just like with Hermione the Grangers had rejected their two younger children. They were going to simply drop them off at the local council building, but Giuseppe had intervened. Little Eleanor wasn't quite two, so it would be a year before it was certain that she would qualify as a witch, but he had refused to leave her behind. It had required some quick thinking and perhaps what they had done hadn't been completely legal, but Eleanor and Richard were now wards of the Zabini family. It would only be a problem if the British ministry demanded the children back. With their current attitude towards muggleborn orphans that didn't seem likely.
In the three weeks that they had been in Italy, Eleanor was settling in rather well. Children at her age were so resilient, and it had helped that Juliet came over a couple of times a week to play. Richard was having a harder time. He was old enough to understand that for some reason he wasn't going to be going home to Mummy and Daddy. They answered his questions as best they could, but how do you explain to a four year old that their parents don't want them anymore?
When she had first heard what had happened, Hermione had been frantic. She had wanted to meet and take care of her two siblings, but she still had two months left of school. Obviously her plan to travel after school had been abandoned, but there had been a slight disagreement over what she would be doing instead. She had insisted that she should take a job straight away, while Giuseppe and Maria told her that she needed to continue her education. His Papa had waved away her concern that she couldn't afford to do that by informing her that all three of them would live with them while she attended an Italian school.
At first she had baulked at the idea of accepting charity. Giuseppe had got past that by assuring her that it wasn't charity, but an investment toward the future. After all, as a Spellcrafter she would have a much higher income, which would lead to her paying higher taxes. Hermione had laughed at his statement, and seemed to accept the fact that she wasn't going to win. She reluctantly agreed, but had insisted that he accept the remainder of her inheritance.
He had taken it, but Lio knew that his Papa wouldn't touch it. Instead it would be put aside as either her dowry or something to help her get started once she finished her education. Lio had had to hide his smile as he watched his Papa negotiate around the witch. While what he had said was true, it wasn't the real reason. Lio might not be the matchmaker Chessie was, but he wasn't blind either. Indeed Lio believed that the only reason Marcus hadn't acted yet was because he was still trying to figure out who exactly he should talk to. Officially, Hermione would be viewed as a ward of the Zabini family, but asking his own father for permission seemed too bizarre. It was best not to dwell on the fact that technically he would be courting his sort of sister.
Draco shook his head in exasperated amusement as he watched the instructor fawn over Lio. For their third date, Draco had arranged for them to have a cooking class with a famous French chef. He had thought that his talents in Potions might carry over. He had hoped to impress Lio. His plan had worked somewhat. His Potion abilities had helped him, and the chef had praised his efforts, but apparently Lio was a natural.
"Does everything you touch turn to gold?" Draco asked Lio once the instructor left. The humour in his voice removing the sting from the words.
"What?" Lio asked, while Marcus chuckled.
"It just seems like you succeed at everything you attempt. I was just wondering if there is anything you can't do," Draco answered with a smile.
Lio blushed lightly at Draco's words. "I have faults just like everyone else."
"Yes he does, and if you want an example, just ask him why he started playing the violin," Marcus added helpfully.
Draco turned curious grey eyes back to Lio. This was a story he hadn't heard yet.
Lio rolled his eyes as they sat down to eat what they had cooked. His family loved teasing him about this! "All prep students are required to take a music class. It is one of the ways we are taught magical control. As I had never had any musical training before, I chose to join the choir. Unfortunately, I can't carry a tune so the vocal instructor didn't allow me to continue."
"Si, it is a school record. Lio is the only person to ever be kicked out within ten minutes of the first class," Marcus teased.
"Thank you oh so much brother," Lio replied sarcastically.
Draco laughed. In the past few weeks Lio's letters had shown a lighter, playful side, and Draco loved seeing his love so carefree. Wanting it to continue he responded, "So your one flaw is not being able to sing? Well seeing as you more than make up for that with your violin, that just isn't going to cut it. I am convinced. You are perfect!"
As Draco had hoped, Lio burst out laughing. "You sir are a flatterer."
"You think I am a liar?" Draco asked in mock horror.
"I think you exaggerate."
"A Malfoy never exaggerates!" Draco answered pompously.
"Hmm," Lio replied, struggling to keep a straight face. "Than perhaps you are just biased."
"My my, first you imply that I am a liar, and now that I am delusional. You are truly flowing with the compliments tonight aren't you?"
Lio lost the battle and laughed lightly. "I don't know what to tell you. I know that I am not perfect, yet you declare that I am. We can't both be right you know."
"You wish to challenge me on this? I feel I must warn you, Malfoys are excellent debaters," Draco said, mischief dancing in his eyes.
"Incredibly modest too," Lio replied. "Perhaps I should. What shall the rules for our verbal duel be?"
"Simply that you must show that you have a real flaw or fault. Something that restricts your life in an important way. After all, I can't dance ballet, but as that has no impact on my life, it isn't a flaw."
"You make it too easy. There have been classes I haven't done well in."
"Oh come on. I have seen your academic record. Not getting a perfect score in a class does not qualify as a flaw!"
Lio smiled. "My record isn't an accurate representation. I have always been a very good test taker due to my inheritance of a rare family magic."
Draco knew that his face must have shown his shock at Lio's casual mention of a family magic.
"What did I say that surprised you so much?" Lio asked.
"Are family magics normally spoken about so openly in Italy, or do you just really trust me?"
Lio looked surprised at the question. "Both I suppose. I do trust you, and family magics are well known in Italy. I take it from your reaction that that isn't true in the UK?"
"No, the exact opposite in fact. Most families magics are kept secret. My mother didn't even find out about the Malfoy magics until after the wedding."
"Wow, in Italy there would be no way for such secrecy to exist. Most of the families are so interconnected that everyone knows everyone-else's business."
"So what is this family magic that gives you such an advantage?" Draco asked, unable to contain his curiosity.
"You know how some people have photogenic memories? Well, I have something similar. I remember everything I have ever experienced."
"You have a perfect memory? That is amazing!" Draco exclaimed. He then smirked before continuing. "See, I told you that you are perfect."
Lio laughed. "Perfect memory is both a blessing and a curse. Sure it makes tests easier, but I don't just remember the useful information, I remember everything. If I think about it, I can tell you what I had for breakfast two years ago. Also, just because I understand something doesn't mean I can do it. There's a reason why I stopped taking transfiguration as soon as possible."
"You have trouble with T-fig? Has it caused you problems in other areas?" Draco asked, knowing that a problem with one of the main branches of magic could carry over.
"It had the potential to do so. There are some magical paints and pigments that use transfigured ingredients. Since I can't make those ingredients, I can never become a master artisan in that field. Fortunately, I have always wanted to be a master wand artisan so it isn't a problem."
"Hmm, well then I don't know if I can say that it is a real flaw. It has the potential to negatively effect your life but it doesn't, so according to the rules of our debate it doesn't count," Draco grinned smugly.
Lio rolled his eyes. "You are stubborn aren't you?"
"Persistent," Draco corrected, glad that Lio didn't seem bothered by their conversation.
"Semantics. Well, since you insist, than fine, it doesn't effect my future career, however it does still frustrate me in one major way. All Potters are born with an Animagus form. It is the primary family magic. I have a form, and through meditation I even know what my form is, but I am unable to access it. Sure it might not be all that useful of a form, but it is still frustrating that I have it and can't use it."
"Fine you win," Draco grumbled. "So what is your form?"
Lio blushed deeply. "Never mind."
Marcus laughed, reminding Draco that he was there. "Good luck finding out. He refuses to even tell the family."
"Oh come on it can't be that bad," Draco wheedled.
"Fine, I will tell you once we are alone," Lio conceded.
"But..but we aren't allowed to be alone until after we are married," Draco complained.
Lio smirked at him. "Your point being?"
Draco groaned, and forced himself to accept the fact that he would have to wait well over a year for the answer.