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    Chapter Ten: It Looks at You, the Fog


    Arabella rushed around her room trying to co-ordinate an outfit that was business casual but aloof. She swore when she stepped on a stray quill and then suddenly remembered she couldn’t remember where her shoes were. Pansy stirred from her bed enough to pull one of her curtains to the side a little bit.

    “Have you gone mad?” She drawled, or at least tried to. It was too early for any intonation to be effective. One of her eyes was open and the other was screwed shut, her beautiful blonde hair was in disarray, and there was a scowl on her lips.

    Arabella, who was bent half under her bed in search for this blasted shoe, looked up with wide-eyed surprise. “What?” She asked and then frowned. “Pansy, when did you get up?”

    Pansy rolled her eyes and her scowl magnified. “I’m not awake, you twit. What are you doing racing around at ridiculous o’clock in the morning?” She growled in an entirely feeble way.

    Arabella waved a hand at Pansy and somehow managed to bend farther under the bed. “Go back to sleep. I have to go see the Headmaster,” she said and then poked her head back out. “Have you seen my black shoes?” She asked as an afterthought.

    Pansy looked at Arabella completely disbelievingly. “Would these be the little black shoes that are strangely shoe-shaped or the ones that look like limousines—of course I haven’t seen your bleeding shoes,” she snarled and then fell back into her pillows. Her curtain fell closed and Arabella cocked a bemused brow.

    “Thanks, Pans,” she smiled. “You’re a lifesaver,” she muttered in a softer voice as she turned around in hunt for her black shoes. In a moment of clarity she saw one of the pair sticking out from behind her trunk and she nearly squealed with the rush of success. On her way out the door, Arabella fashioned one shoe to one foot, hopped a few metres, and then deftly slipped the next shoe on. She closed the door to her dormitory behind her and raced down the stairs. She’d said she’d meet Draco in the common room at half-passed eight and it was already forty-five minutes passed. When she reached the landing she spotted him lazing about on the couch, one hand strewn over the back and his legs stretched out like they always were. She frowned.

    “Get up, get up,” she whispered urgently. “We’re nearly late.” Draco languidly tossed her a look over his shoulder. He raised an idle brow and she came up behind the couch.

    “You’re rushing me, are you?” He asked with mild interest. She was cute, sure, but she had striking audacity. “I’ve lost muscle mass in the time it’s taken you to come down those stairs,” he said and she had the grace to blush.

    “I couldn’t find my shoes,” she said weakly. His grey eyes dropped to her black shoes and he smirked. “I have them now, all right, can we go?”

    Draco smiled at her and it was sardonic. “We ought to,” he said sagely. “You know, before I come to my senses or some such reasonable thing,” he drawled. When she’d already taken off for the common room entrance, he rose to his feet, strode after her, and collected the jumper he had left hanging on the couch’s armrest on the way.

    **
    An elder woman in her crème coloured parlour found herself upon another afternoon with another cup of tea. This time, her grandson had done wonders and allotted her one sole sugar. She was grateful. She sipped at her tea and the steam of it warmed her face. She was relaxed. But as it always was with relaxation, it didn’t last long. She set about thinking about the last afternoon she’d spent like this and she very nearly tensed when she thought about thinking about her long gone family. It was inevitable. It was a paradox that plagued her mind. She was bereft and therefore never wanted to forget but she couldn’t forget and therefore she remembered. She didn’t know which would the mightier valour, forgetting or remembering. Both were painful in ways that transcended reason. It was one thing to bear the absence of Collette Thoreau, her expulsion a searing ordeal unto itself, but it was another thing altogether to remember the one girl that started it all.

    She had been the innocent child of the family, the girl had, the youngest and the most doted upon. She had been beautiful as they had all been beautiful but she’d always had a sort of mysticism about her. Jezebelle Thoreau had been stunning, of course, and she had been better off for it because she had had the common sense of an oven handle.

    The elder woman in the gentle-hued parlour snapped her fingers for a house-elf. A doe-eyed creature with softly drooping ears appeared by the entranceway of the room and bowed deep. “Est-ce que je peux vous aider, Madame?” He asked. He didn’t straighten, but merely glanced up from a nearly prostrated position.

    The elder woman blinked at the house-elf. “Oui, Grégoire. Il me plaira si tu pourrais organiser le déjeuner bientôt,” she said smoothly though her natural accent had been dulled noticeably from years of living in England. She had always loved French. It was the easiest language for her to speak and it was the most beautiful to her because it was her native tongue. Nearly a decade had passed since the elder woman had retreated to the Toulousian villa in which she now sat. At first, the move had been forced. That long time ago, when her past had been her reality, she had had need to flea from it and her motherland was a welcomed breath of fresh air. Later, when necessity had ceased to be, she embraced her solitary life in her elegant French villa. She couldn’t say that she didn’t leave Toulouse out of fear for her own safety, but she also couldn’t say that she was unhappy staying. The elder woman watched the house-elf bow again.

    “Bien sur, Madame,” he said. “Je préparerai un plat pour la salle à manger le plus tôt possible,” and then he disappeared. He was a dutiful little thing, Grégoire was. He was simple, he was straightforward, and he didn’t linger where he wasn’t needed. The elder woman respected that and so she respected him.

    Without the prospect of lunch to distract her, the elder woman was once again left with her thoughts.  She briefly wondered where her grandson had gotten to, but that was a guessing game she didn’t have the time for. She didn’t notice when she started to drum her slender fingers against her skirt-covered knee. Jezebelle had shared that habit. The young girl, beautiful and uncomplicated, hadn’t of course meant for anything to happen. She certainly hadn’t been able to anticipate what had come to be nor had she been, in fact, at all clever enough to design the unfortunate circumstances that had followed when she had met the man she had and when she had fallen for him as she had. Naturally, when it came down to it, the motives that had guided her didn’t matter. Purity of intention never seemed to matter when it was overshadowed by fear or terror or regret or grief.

    The elder woman sat back in her crème coloured seat. It was an expensive sofa purchased from Corsica and adorned with lace from Sorrento. It was regal in its minimalism. As she sat back, the elder woman remembered the events her daughter had recounted to her from one of the days whereupon she had met the man who would change everything.

    Flashback

    “Well, perhaps I would rather stay here, did you think of that?” A pale girl with moonlight fair hair smiled demurely and her sweeping light lashes caught the sun. The broad boy regarding her raised a dark brow. None of his attention was on Narcissa Black asking her fiancé not to make a scene in front of such upstanding people over a comment Lydia Doucette made about his parentage. All of the broad boy’s attention was on the pale girl. Indeed, not even she was looking at Lydia scoffing as Narcissa patiently steered Lucius Malfoy away from the patio table. Mrs. Doucette, a daughter of new money, had harboured an ill-fated crush on the proud Malfoy back in their Hogwarts days and lately that crush had magically morphed into blind cruelty. Lucius was not a man to take anything kneeled and cheery, but he heeded his fiancée and brushed a kiss on her cheek.

    “Maybe you should reconsider your decision,” the broad boy shrugged. “It’s a fine day for a walk,” and he gestured to the blazing sun, the stretch of garden behind him, and the lack of a single cloud in the expansive sky.

    The pale girl put a hand over her eyes to shield the sunlight’s glare and looked up at the dark boy. He was taller than some with fair skin and dark, dark eyes. His hair was a deep brown and it was fashioned with a gentleman’s part. He slouched but it wasn’t terribly noticeable. He had fine gloves, but the pale girl couldn’t discern his wealth. Truth be told, he was tight-lipped about where he came from and of what stock he could boast and she didn’t know him that well to boot. Either way, he was handsome and there was an unknowable glint about him, a precarious sort of aura, hat was downright attractive. There was nothing like the forbidding. Hazardous was novel among the aristocracy, hazardous was exciting.

    “It is dreadfully hot,” she said flatly but her aristocratic accent was crisp. “It will appear even warmer should I oblige to walk with you.” The broad boy smirked at her.

    “I stand by my thoughts. I think you’d enjoy a walk with me,” he drawled. Jezebelle Thoreau narrowed her eyes.

    “You think too much,” she said with a wrinkle in her small nose.

    The broad boy looking down at her with bemused eyes couldn’t help another shrug. “I hear such men are dangerous,” and he winked.

    Jezebelle bit her lip and kept her hand up to shield the sun. “You are a very presumptive man, Tom Riddle,” she said in her soft voice. “I have met you not even thrice and you are badgering me already,” she let her eyes sweep the length of him. “What kind of gentleman are you?” She teased.

    The broad boy, Tom Riddle, grinned a toothy grin. He was boyish and he was charming. “I never boasted the part of a gentleman,” he said smoothly. “You seem to me a challenge,” he went on and in some ways the words were a blatant lie. Jezebelle was easily manipulated and her trusting eyes attested to that. In other ways the words were a terrible statement hinting ambiguously to a back-story and an implication that a girl like Jezebelle couldn’t even imagine. “If badgering gets you to walk with me, then so be it. I’ve never met a challenge I didn’t like.”

    Jezebelle arched a brow and her taut cheeks were accented by her half-smile. “Oh?” She tilted her head back farther to regard the broad boy studiously. “And have all your challenges liked you, Tom Riddle? Your presumption is insatiable,” she smiled a ghost of a smile and he laughed an easy laugh.

    “Walk with me, Miss Thoreau,” he offered her a gloved hand and she dropped her beautiful eyes to regard it with mock curiosity. “No challenge of mine has ever lodged a complaint yet,” he smiled. “You have nothing to lose.” But Tom Riddle would easily admit himself that that, too, was in some ways a blatant lie. He was hoping, naturally and eagerly, that the youngest Thoreau would indeed have something to lose and that she would lose it to him willingly and swiftly: her heart.

    Jezebelle looked over at the paved pathway that headed to the east of the Waldorfs’ garden. The grass and general flora was extensive on their lands. Some other guests were sitting on some other benches and some other conversations were being held in some other places. Jezebelle turned back to Tom Riddle.

    “I suppose one walk is nominal enough, Mr. Riddle,” she said lightly but with a coy glance. “Lead the way,” and she took his hand and he helped her to her feet. As they walked towards the east side of the Waldorfs’ garden they passed the hostess herself, the Lady Waldorf, berating a house-elf about the collapsed soufflés. Jezebelle giggled and Tom Riddle shot her a bemused sideways glance. He took the hand he still hand and placed it on the crook of his elbow, encasing her arm in his.

    “Tell me about your family, Miss Thoreau,” he said gently, almost airily.

    Jezebelle blinked. She didn’t want to frown for fear of what it would do to her skin. “My family?”

    Tom was unfazed. He even indulged her and repeated herself, though the effort tangibly reflected itself in his tensed shoulders. “Your family,” he nodded.

    Jezebelle couldn’t help a slight frown this time. “Why would you want to know anything about my family? Surely you know of them all ready?” She asked and it was a genuine question.

    Tom patted the hand of hers resting on his arm. “I may,” he obliged. “But I don’t want to know of them,” he paused. "I want to know everything,” he said after a pause and she didn’t see the flash of his dark eyes. She shrugged a dainty shrug and launched into the detailed history of her family and its legacy.

    “It all started in Toulouse, if you would believe that,” she said matter-of-factly.

    Tom Riddle looked surprised. “I never would have thought,” he smiled and she nodded happily.

    “Oh, yes,” she gushed. “But even before Toulouse, many centuries ago, before France was France, the son of Charlemagne married the most beautiful woman the Franks had ever seen. He was Louis the Fair, you see, and he was a great man,” she smiled a soft smile as though she’d known him. Tom Riddle was soaking in every word he could. He led Jezebelle farther to the east of the gardens and listened to all she could recount until the sun set.


    End Flashback


    The elder lady in the crème parlour set her tea down and frowned. There was no one there to see the gesture and disapprove. Furthermore, she was weathered enough to indulge herself and so she did. She had never forgiven Jezebelle Thoreau for bringing a monster to her doorstep and she never would. Of course that wretch wanted to know more about the Thoreaus. Knowledge was every brand of power to him and he had known it. He had used it.

    The elder lady’s frown deepened. Part of her was almost thankful her family and its legacy had perished. Without them, she was blessedly rid of the rudely eminent Tom Riddle for great lengths of time. Naturally, another part of her was horrified by the very thought but wouldn’t contradict it. You can’t contradict the truth, not matter how terrible. And she didn’t want to contradict it, why would she? The horror of the truth kept her from forgetting her family, from forgetting the life she had before the solitary one she led now, and from forgetting who she was versus who she had become. Just as she was about to settle into a deeper cloud of despair, a soft pop announced the presence of Grégoire.

    The house-elf bowed deeply and spoke to the ground. “Madame, votre déjeuner a servi.”

    The elder lady shook herself out of her reverie and rose from her expensive sofa with a practised and yet inherent ease. She knew even as she followed the house-elf to her dining room that this wasn’t the last of the stream of recollections she’d be revisiting. This wasn’t the last time she’d be drawn back to the memory of the past just as it hadn’t been the first time. In most ways, she was very sorry for that reality indeed because hers was a history filled with sorrow and sorrow begot nothing.

    **Arabella paced the hallway in front of the grand statue that guarded the Headmaster’s office and quarters with as few steps as she could. Nevertheless, she could have burned several footprint-sized holes into the solid ground if she concentrated hard enough. Draco was leaning against the wall opposite the statue with a nonchalance he was practically born with. He was, unsurprisingly, watching the young cerulean-eyed girl work herself into a silent frenzy, deriving as much amusement from the situation as possible before the circumstances in which she’d dragged him became very real and very biting.

    Arabella threw Draco an anxious look. “Is it very terrible in there?” She asked in a collected voice that was only betrayed by her apprehensive features.

    Draco shrugged. “I don’t suppose so,” he said and then he paused. He tilted his head back as though thoughtful and came back to level Arabella with speculative eyes. “I mean, only if you find great and mighty birds exploding into a fire of their own creation at all intimidating,” he drawled.

    Arabella blanched and Draco couldn’t bite back his lazy smile. “You’re a prat,” she told him and his smile waned.

    “That’s the second time in two days that that’s been said,” he frowned. “It’s as though you’re trying to tell me something,” he shook his head. Arabella stopped her pacing to hit him on the shoulder. “Physical abuse, mean words,” he frowned. “Add in some unrealistic ambition, extortion and the employment of some healthy guile and you’ve got yourself the Slytherin creed down to an art,” he muttered.

    Their banter was interrupted by the sound of stone shifting and scraping against itself. Arabella turned on her heel to see the grand statue turn in its place to reveal stairs. Draco raised a brow. He hadn’t summoned the statue or requested entrance. Arabella just looked at the opening with fascination. The curiosity lingering between the two was satisfied when the sound of scuttling footsteps led to the appearance of three cheery Gryffindors. Draco’s mood, already marred by the relatively early hour, immediately soured.

    “Look who it is,” he drawled with a cold sincerity. Whatever laughter the Gryffindors had been engaging in dissipated when they saw Draco Malfoy.

    “It’s a bit too early for you to be crawling out of your hole, innit Malfoy?” Ron Weasley snarled, pulling himself to his full height and slowing in his pace to get a good look at the Slytherin. He didn’t even toss Arabella so much as a glance.

    Draco’s lips curled in distaste. “Don’t be so modest, Weasel,” he said with an offhand shrug. “It’s you who braved the day, what with your face looking the way it does,” Draco gestured to the freckles on Ron’s face with a sympathetic look. Arabella snorted, realised she made a noise, and covered her mouth with affect. Hermione tossed her a disapproving look. Harry Potter looked between the Slytherins with a palpable dislike. His eyes skimmed over Arabella. She accepted this invisibility and she was grateful.

    “That was wonderfully original, Malfoy,” Harry said with sincere sarcasm.

    Draco turned with impeccable grace and raised a pointed brow. “I do agree, Potter,” he grinned a mirthless grin.

    Harry Potter regarded him for just a moment before he broke eye contact wit a roll of his emerald green eyes. Hermione looked at Arabella, then at Draco, then back at Arabella. She nervously worried her lip. “What are you doing here?”

    Draco shot her a deadpanned look. “We plan to set fire to this establishment,” he drawled. Arabella hit him on the shoulder again and gave him a pointed sort of glance. Hermione’s expression soured but before she could say anything callous, Arabella spoke in her silky voice.

    “We just have something we want to discuss with the Headmaster,” she said with a small smile that wasn’t necessarily insincere and unkind.

    Ron Weasley turned to her quickly and looked at her dubiously. “He got you pregnant, did he?” He nudged his head sharply to Draco’s direction and spoke with endearing carelessness. “Hope you realise you may or not be harbouring a monster in there,” his eyes dropped to her stomach. He missed Arabella’s startled look and her disbelieving blink of the eyes. “It could claw its way out at any time, thirsting for the blood of the innocent,” and he shook his head sadly.

    “W-what?” Arabella stammered, paling with a mixture of surprise and horror.

    Draco ran a harried hand through his hair. “For the love of Borgia,” he murmured. “She’s not pregnant, you pillock,” he said as though he were speaking to a child.

    Ron leered knowingly. “Couldn’t muster it up, eh Malfoy?” He baited and Draco clenched a fist.

    Harry’s hand ran towards his wand. “Feel free to shut up anytime before Malfoy feeds the urge to hit you, Ron,” he offered casually and Ron rolled his blue eyes at him.

    Arabella’s wide eyes looked from one Gryffindor to the next to the third. “I look pregnant?” She wanted to shriek but she refrained. It was too early by all accounts for melodrama. “You think I look pregnant?!”

    Hermione patted Arabella gingerly on the shoulder. “Ron’s a few scones short of afternoon tea, if you could believe it,” she shrugged helplessly. Draco exhaled slowly.

    “Enough,” and he grabbed Arabella’s hand. “Piss off, the lot of you,” he snarled. “We have business to attend to,” he tossed over his shoulder and he steered towards the statue, muttered something about an appointment, and watched it shift and turn to reveal stairs for him. He regarded this stairs for just a moment and then began to climb, careful not to tug too hard on the hand he held in his own. Draco had been up these stairs a handful of times on his own, once in particular to receive the instructions that came with the Head Boy badge precariously fashioned to the lapel of his robes.

    “Where are we going?” Arabella whispered loud enough for Draco to hear. Draco glanced at her fleetingly from over his shoulder.

    “Up,” he said and then said nothing more. From behind them he could here the last vestiges of the Golden Trio before they, too, wandered away. Draco and Arabella came upon an ornate door at the top of the stairs and Arabella considered it coolly.

    “That the entrance is it?” She asked with her features pinched as though the thought of crossing the threshold before her left a bad proverbial taste in her mouth.

    Draco looked sideways at her with amusement. “Scared of a door?” He asked lightly and Arabella’s eyes snapped to him.

    “Better you knock on it than I,” she said and he smiled ruefully at her. He knocked on the door three times and waited. There was silence for just a moment and then there was a voice.

    “Do come in, Mister Malfoy,” the calming voice of Albus Dumbledore eased through the cracks of the door, ushering them in. Arabella looked at Draco in surprise. He caught her eyes and shrugged.

    “I’m not one to pretend to understand him, Arabelle,” he said. She followed him as he opened the door and entered a broad, detailed, and mighty office with a silence she couldn’t help.

    **
    Ron watched Draco start up the stairs to Dumbledore’s chambers with a visible disgust. “That’s my day ruined,” he lamented. Harry clapped a hand over his shoulder.

    “We have practice later today. All hope is not lost,” he reasoned and he started to walk down the corridor but stopped when he realised no on was following him. “Hermione?” He asked when he noticed she was still looking at the stairs with mild interest.

    She blinked and turned to Harry as though realising that thee was a conversation she had just missed. “Are we going?” She asked.

    Harry frowned. “Who was that girl, Hermione?” Ron decided that this conversation was taking too long for his liking and so he leaned against the wall nearest to him and crossed lanky arms over his chest.

    “She’s a Slytherin,” Hermione shrugged vaguely, “I don’t know.” Ron laughed aloud.

    “Well spotted, ‘Mione,” he said. “But I don’t believe you for one minute,” he nodded to himself.

    “Ron, she had Slytherin robes on, you’d have to be thick as lead not to piece that one together,” she frowned and spoke sharply but not unkindly.

    Ron sighed affectedly. “I saw the emblem, ‘Mione,” he said slowly. “But I also see the badge on your robes,” he nodded at her Head Girl badge, “and I know you make it your business to know everything.”

    Harry’s frown deepened. “She’s in with Malfoy’s lot so she can’t be that sterling of a character,” he quirked a brow and Ron grinned. “I almost pity her.”

    “I like the way you think,” he said. “But I’m one to knock them down first and pity them later, he shrugged. After a second, he frowned. “That being said, I’m hungry,” he announced and Hermione’s eyes drifted back to the statue that was now righting itself and silently guarding the entrance to the Headmaster’s office.

    “I wonder what she wants with Dumbledore,” she mused. Harry regarded her with momentary curiosity.

    “Why do you care?” He asked. Hermione had hardly told anyone how fascinated she was with Arabella Thoreau. Even if she had, it was hardly like Ron and Harry to keep track of all the plethora of things that caught Hermione’s attention.

    “No reason,” she said and she dragged her eyes away from the stone statue and looked at her best friends with a wide smile. “Did someone say something about breakfast?”

    Ron’s features brightened. “That’s more like it,” he looked pleased. “Let’s go,” he said and pushed off the wall to head down the corridor. Harry and Hermione followed.

    “Harry, remember that we have another meeting with Dumbledore tomorrow,” Hermione said lightly. Harry rolled his eyes.

    “Thanks, Hermione. I can’t wait to sacrifice good sleep for more eerie messages early in the morning,” his voice was devoid of all enthusiasm.

    Ron pulled a face and the three turned a corner on their way towards the grand stairs. “It wasn’t that creepy today. It was just odd.”

    Hermione rolled her eyes. “Dumbledore says nothing uselessly. If he told us to watch the Slytherins most likely to have Death Eater family then he’s told us for a reason. They have Order meetings when you two aren’t around to eavesdrop on them, you know,” she said tightly.

    Ron threw an arm over her shoulders and pulled her close to him with the momentum. “We’re sorry for not taking the warning seriously, ‘Mione,” he said and brushed a kiss on Hermione’s forehead as they walked. She didn’t push him away. She wouldn’t ever, no matter how annoying he got.

    It was now Harry’s turn to frown again. “Yeah, we’ll watch them. Starting with that girl Malfoy was just with, eh? I’ve never seen her before.”

    Hermione restrained the urge to look behind her shoulder at the stone statue that she wouldn’t even be able to see anyway. “You wouldn’t have. She’s new this year. A transfer student.”

    Ron looked surprised. “Malfoy certainly looked cosy with her if she’s only been here a few months.” He, of course, had long forgotten the brief exchange he had had with the cerulean-eyed girl on the Hogwarts Express.

    Harry nodded. “Yeah, they must have known each other from before then,” he reasoned.

    Hermione smiled. She loved it when they tried to do their little detective work. “I think you’re right, Harry,” she said. “But I think we should leave her alone for the time being. We have plenty of other Slytherins to keep an eye on.”

    Harry glanced at her. “Whatever you say, Hermione,” he said.

    Ron’s stomach rumbled and he looked duly sheepish for a moment. “M’sorry. Told you I was hungry,” he muttered and he shrugged. They arrived at the grand stairs and started to descend them towards the Great Hall.

    “Can’t you go a few hours without eating, Ron?” Hermione admonished. Harry covered his smile with his hand.

    Ron looked thoughtful for a moment. “I don’t know,” he said. “Would you love me if I could?” He asked and glanced down at her with an innocent sort of look.

    Hermione sighed. “Somehow, Ron, I think I’d find a way,” she said laughed when she heard Harry laugh. They entered the Great Hall, threw themselves into the bench seats of the Gryffindor table, and appreciated breakfast just as they did every other day.

    **
    “Well, I must say that I am surprised,” Professor Dumbledore’s crystal eyes sparkled brightly over his half-moon spectacles. “This comes a lot sooner than I had previously expected,” he said serenely. His hands were clasped in a steeple and they gently propped his chin up. His time weathered features were trusting and his posture even spoken of wisdom.

    Draco looked startled. “Sooner?” He asked. “Sooner than what?”

    Dumbledore dropped his hands and leaned back in his great chair. “As you well know, Mister Malfoy, your godfather has been in much contact with me and he seems to have thought that your generation of Dark children were ready to think for themselves. He had not, of course, projected such a close date for this change to become apparent,” he paused and regarded his students carefully, “but here you are.” Draco just frowned. He didn’t notice Arabella frowning just as hard but for very different reasons.

    “Severus Snape seeks you, of all people, out as a confidant?” She asked, bewildered. “He’s a spy for the Order?” And she couldn’t believe it.

    Draco winced. “Spy’s a little harsh.”

    Arabella looked at him incredulously and lowered her voice. “He’s a traitorous informant and you never thought to tell me?”

    Draco lazily raised his eyes to the ceiling. “Oh, yes, telling you would be a plan chockfull of tact, wouldn’t it,” and it wasn’t a question. “The daughter of the Dark Lord himself wouldn’t mind a spy at all.”

    Arabella scowled. “Of course I would mind,” she bit out in a whisper. “I have every right to mind. I can’t believe this,” she said.

    Draco shrugged but it was half-hearted. “He’s a progressive thinker doing what he thinks is fair,” he said lightly. “You can’t begrudge him that.”

    Arabella’s eyes narrowed dangerously but she kept her voice soft if not edged. “He’s betraying my father and you’re going to sit there and defend his liberalism?” She asked sharply.

    Draco shot a careful glance to the Headmaster before he leaned closer to Arabella and spoke just as lowly. “Think about where you are, think about what you just said, think about what you plan to do and then we can resume a civilised conversation,” he said not unkindly but there was a sharp and teasing drawl mingled in with his gentle voice. Arabella blushed. He had a point. They both sat back and turned to the Professor anew.

    “This is a most unusual situation, is it not?” Albus Dumbledore remarked jovially. Arabella nodded after a second’s pause. It was a forced movement and it was noticeably strained. She didn’t quite think the Headmaster’s cheery tones were relevant to this kind of apocalypse. “And you, Miss Riddle,” Dumbledore levelled Arabella with clear blue eyes, “you are courting a precarious fate should your will be your downfall.” When Albus Dumbledore spoke, it was evenly. When he spoke, it was easily. His words, though, were poignant, heavy, and sometimes piercing even when there was no malice behind them to speak of.
       
    Arabella, of course, did not know how she should respond to this. Draco, for his part, looked at her and back to the Professor with his usual unreadable eyes. The silence that followed the Headmaster’s weighty words was tense with anticipation. Arabella bit her lip before she thought better of the act. She was unsure what to say to the man who seemed to know everything.

    “I know,” she said finally. “But it doesn’t change my mind,” she added lightly. Dumbledore seemed to smile at this, but it was hard to tell. Draco raised a brow but thought silence was the mightiest valour at this point.

    Dumbledore looked thoughtful, but it was hard to tell if he was amused or not. “And Miser Malfoy, do you understand the gravity this circumstance could involve?” The possibility of them being caught and then the greater threat of death lingered in his question. Draco frowned, looking just as thoughtful as his headmaster.

    “I do, Sir,” he said and he meant it. He leaned back in his chair and surveyed the professor with unreadable eyes, the eyes of his father. After a moment, he deigned to speak again. “But regardless of what will happen, the consequences we could invoke are as of yet,” and as he lingered, his frown deepened, “inconsequential,” he shrugged. He would, of course, deal with what was dealt to him when he was meant to deal with it.

    Dumbledore seemed then to almost smile. “I do not doubt it, Mister Malfoy. For the young, as it always is, the future is a remote and abstract thing they cannot believe in,” he said gently. His sparkling blue eyes dimmed for a moment. “If you both are sure,” and he paused for the nod he expected them to nod, and they did, “then I will not dissuade you.”

    Arabella smiled a soft smile. “Thank you, Sir,” she said. “We want to help the Order,” and the word was out of place on her tongue.

    The Headmaster returned the smile, but it was fleeting in its manifestation. His expression gave little away. “Help a side that is not your own to the detriment of your own loyalties?” He asked but didn’t wait for a response. “Against your father?” And it was a calculated question.

    Arabella started. She opened her mouth to say something but Draco beat her to the mark. “With the Order,” he said in a slow voice that didn’t lack an edge. “Sir,” he added after a moment.

    Dumbledore seemed to accept this. He let his fingers steeple and he dropped his blue eyes to his marvellously organised desk. “Well, then it is not for me to receive thanks but to offer them,” he said and it wasn’t without merriment. “Your intentions can only prove invaluable.”

    Arabella shook her head. Humility was not a virtue she believed too strongly in, but it was modestly that she declined the Professor’s gratitude. “We’re not doing this for thanks,” she glanced sideways at Draco. “Really, we’re not doing this solely for you at all.” Draco returned her gaze and she took comfort in his nod.

    Dumbledore regarded his students from behind his half-moon spectacles. He spoke as though he hadn’t heard the last sentence of the Riddle daughter. “What you offer to do is honourable,” he said. Draco narrowed his eyes and Arabella widened hers. “Moreover, it is admirable to want to give away and not want to preserve yourself with sights set on recognition,” he said.

    Draco frowned and the gesture was easy. “Just because we don’t seek your appreciation doesn’t mean we don’t hear your thanks. We don’t want to perish of the present,” he said in a tone that wasn’t without tone, but it wasn’t strongly anything at all. “This has nothing to do with the glorification of the moment or aspirations for the future. We want to aid your cause,” he added. “We want to take your banner a posse ad esse,” he affirmed.

    Arabella was turned to Draco as he spoke and nodded before turning back to the Headmaster. “You mustn’t misunderstand us, Sir,” she said in a tone that was careful but courageous. “Though we come to you with no complex scheme, there is very little altruism involved in this act of self-preservation,” she said and Albus Dumbledore raised his grey brows in surprise.

    “Indeed,” he said. “Such honesty,” he remarked. The Headmaster chose to simply consider his students for a moment before he spoke with all the weight of life to two who wanted to live weightlessly. “And what is it I can offer you?” He asked. “If it is not my appreciation you seek, what is it that you hope to gain from the Order of the Phoenix?”

    Arabella hesitated. She met Dumbledore’s eyes but said nothing. Draco glanced at her and watched her watch the Headmaster. He spoke simply in her stead. “I ask for safety,” he said and resigned himself to look up at the ceiling of the office with a masked expression. Arabella blinked and turned sideways to Draco again. She wanted to reach out and touch him but she restrained the impulse. She returned her eyes to the Headmaster.

    “Then, we ask for safety,” she said simply and at the same time she wanted to ask for a change. A change in the way death was flippant and hate was easy, in the way darkness was gripping and feeling was forlorn, and in the way justice paled in comparison to the intensity of avarice and vengeance. Albus Dumbledore understood. He understood and he nodded, but he said naught for a while.

    At last he let his hands drop onto the surface of his wooden desk and a sparkle crept back into his eyes. “I can give you safety,” he said but it wasn’t vehemently said. He could give them safety but he couldn’t guarantee it. The Order knew a lot about safety in isolation, but with emissaries that came and went in the business of betrayal, it was impossible to guarantee anything. “That being said, it goes without ado that you, too, must be careful,” he smiled a subtle and sad smile.

    Draco shifted idly in his seat and it was Arabella that spoke. “We will try,” she offered.

    The Headmaster stood from his seat slowly, but with the grace of many years. “I have faith in your discretions,” he said surely. “Brave, unconcerned, calculating—thus wisdom wants us: she is apt and always loves a warrior,” he stepped back from his desk and the two students took this as their cue to rise. Draco rose elegant and Arabella rose carefully. They followed Dumbledore to the door. “Seek out your Head of House,” he added. “I am sure he would be very interested to speak to the two of you,” and he opened the door to his office with a slight wave of his hand. He was certain that Severus Snape would educated these two adept children in the art of what they wanted to do.

    “Thank you, Professor,” Arabella said with a parting sort of nod and left the office. More slowly, Draco trailed.

    “Until later,” he said and he, too, went through the door. The Headmaster chose to stand in his office door’s grand frame and listen to the sounds of young feet paddle down mighty winding steps. When the sounds faded, he closed the door and returned to his desk. The portrait to his immediate right whistled low.

    “Those are some mighty students you have, Albus,” it remarked. A headmaster from seven decades passed regarded Professor Dumbledore with piercing green eyes. Albus turned his head and leaned back in his high-backed chair.

    “Yes,” he nodded. “But I am not surprised.”

    The portrait raised a dark brow. “My dear boy, does life no longer surprise you?” He frowned a shrew frown.

    Albus Dumbledore smiled a half-smile. “No, life, as always, remains a message scribbled in the dark,” he said, “but I have always had faith in the notion that the fate and the changes of the world rest on young shoulders, not experienced ones,” and as he finished his sentence, he was drawn to the window by an all too familiar pecking. An owl awaited entry and the Headmaster obliged the messenger, never once for the rest of the day forgetting about the hopes and aspirations of Arabella Thoreau and Draco Malfoy.

    **
    On the morning after her grand meeting with Albus Dumbledore, Arabella awoke languidly to no sunshine and little noise. She tossed aside her bed curtains and stifled a yawn. There was rain and abstract humanity shattered on her windowpane. She shifted her weight and squinted to look out the window at the storm that raged with unexpected force across the Scottish lands.

    “Oh, awake are you?” The voice of Pansy Parkinson streamed through Arabella’s consciousness as she fought to fall back into bed. She felt a weight on her shoulders and realised belatedly that it felt strange having something important that you couldn’t tell a friend for fear of consequences that could affect more people than just you. When Arabella focused her eyes, she saw Pansy staring at her with a bemused expression. Arabella found it striking that that same blonde girl knew nothing about her yesterday or Draco’s.

    “If I wasn’t before,” Arabella stifled another yawn, “I certainly am now,” she said. There was a teasing element to her voice that would have been more effective if she was properly functioning. Pansy spoke loudly and hardly muted herself for the mornings. She was standing by the same window that was grey with water and fog, her arms crossed regally over her lush chest and her vibrant hair brushed to the side. Her robe was fastened loosely at the waist and Arabella felt a stab of jealousy. Pansy Parkinson, for all her posh talk and arrogant air, was beautiful but it wasn’t the beauty that struck Arabella, it was the curves and the posture of inexorable confidence. Arabella brushed her chestnut hair out of her eyes and pushed her covers away. She stood on careful feet and tried to welcome the morning. She noticed that Pansy was watching her and raised a brow. Pansy smirked and tossed her elegant head.

    “Well, aren’t you right as sunshine?” She drawled.

    Arabella scowled. “Right as rain, you mean,” she muttered and the two turned their heads back to the cascading rain.

    Pansy laughed and Arabella fought another stab of envy. Pansy was easy with her merriment, always easy with her laughter. “Yeah, not much sunshine to speak of is there?” And her red lips curled into a smile that Arabella tried not to catch, so contagious did it seem.

    As it was, Arabella didn’t say anything. She kept her eyes on where she thought the horizon would be if it weren’t veiled by mist. The rain was blatant and sharp. It was getting more pronounced, pouring down heavier. Spiralling in sheets, it rang angrily, greedily, passionately, and yet savagely against the blank window frames of the Hogwarts Castle’s south side. And in the wake of each raindrop lingered the shifting fog.

    A shiver ran the course of Arabella’s spine and the blonde-haired witch beside her turned to look at her for a moment before frowning. “You look so morose,” she whispered, her voice as smooth as ever and as classy as ever. “Do you see something you don’t like?” She asked curiously, turning her light blue gaze to the window and the wet grounds outside in search of something to look at, something that perhaps her friend saw. Arabella shook her head but said nothing as the fog, devious, enigmatic, and unsettling, glided its way over the grey pastures that were once green in sunlight. Pansy raised a sardonic brow. “And you’re just so talkative,” she rolled her eyes and re-crossed her arms. She turned a half-turn until her right side was leaning against the wall next to the window they both stood before and gave Arabella a pointed look.

    Arabella met her eyes. “Aren’t I?” She drawled. Her voice was low from sleep but arrogant by nature. Pansy gave her a very solemn nod in response to the rhetorical question and frowned.

    “Are you not a fan of the rain?” She inquired and not without some incredulity. In all the years she’d known the Riddle daughter, she’d never noticed the girl tense around a little precipitation to date. Arabella looked back out the window.

    “No,” she said, “it’s the fog. I’ve never liked the fog.”

    Pansy, a girl of many talents, wasn’t the most compassionate flower in the bundle. She frowned a little more. “Why?” She asked. “What business does a girl have fearing the fog?” The tone was bemused but overwhelmed by offhand disapproval. Arabella tensed but not that much.

    “Perhaps it isn’t fear,” she said in a more clipped tone than casual.

    Pansy raised her brows. “And now we’re going deeper and deeper,” she said, “to where the truth resides.” Arabella deigned not to respond. Pansy regarded the girl as she watched the rain scuttle along with the fog. “If it isn’t fear, then what is it?” She pressed.

    Arabella shook her head. She looked thoughtful but in an answerless kind of way. “I don’t know,” she said. “I’ve never liked the fog,” she shrugged. It wasn’t a complete lie. She didn’t like the fog because it reminded her of something she’d rather not think about. There was always a fog around when something detrimental happened.

    Pansy pulled her nightgown tighter around her body. Just because it was morning didn’t mean that it was warm enough to disrobe. “Well, like it or not, you can’t avoid it. A burnt child dreads fire but the fog can’t hurt you, now can it?” She sad safely, though she was wondering to herself if while she was talking about the weather, Arabella might be talking about the fog as something bigger than what it was, like as an idea or an abstract associative game.

    Arabella didn’t mean to speak sharply, but she did. “I’m not running from anything,” and she wasn’t.

    Pansy surveyed the auburn-haired girl. “What is it then that bothers you?”

    Arabella’s thoughtfulness lingered. She, too, folded her arms over her chest, and shifted her weight on still-tired limbs. “The fog is cowardly,” she gestured to the field as it was being pillaged by pointed raindrops. “It hides and it misleads, but more than that, it only follows in the wake of disaster,” and Pansy looked out the window to see that in the shadow of every bullet of water, there lingered the mist of the fog. Arabella shrugged. “I don’t like the fog. It’s unified, but it’s solitary and solitude is the playfield of deceit,” she said, “and solitude is a prison.”

    Pansy scrutinised the rain. “You see all that in a little rain and some downcast clouds, do you?” She sighed. “I don’t see what you see,” she shrugged but it wasn’t without sympathy. She turned away from the window and regarded Arabella. “Are you all right, then?”

    Arabella met Pansy’s eyes and smiled a sincere if small smile. “Of course,” she said.

    “Good,” Pansy said simply. “Very good,” and when she went to pass Arabella, she placed a hand on the girl’s shoulder before walking away. Arabella watched the girl leave and watched the dormitory doors close behind her dorm-mate. She went back to her bed, fell into it, and remembered.

    Flashback

    A young girl of eleven years with bright cerulean eyes and striking chestnut hair sat on a cushion in her mother’s parlour. Next to her was a window with old glass panes and tarnished metal frames. The window overlooked the grounds of the House of Grant and the young girl looked through the glass at the rain that seemed to be drilling into the autumn grass. It wasn’t the rain that interested the young girl, but something else mingled in with it. The fog.

    There like a cloud on the ground, the fog followed in the wake of the raindrops, idly chasing away the last vestiges of the sun’s rays until they retreated and hid themselves behind the cover of dark clouds. The fog was an unknowable thing to the young girl. It was like broken rain, scattered along the atmosphere. It was like sky you could touch and it had never existed for her before her mother’s death.

    And this fog she was watching did as all fogs do. It buried the day, it confined the sun, and it wrapped around the grounds of her house until she couldn’t see the grass anymore. She didn’t like it. Its suffocation was unified and nothing good could come of cohesive confusion. There was always a fog around when something bad happened. Her fingers flew to her cheek and she winced.

    The young girl, Arabella Jade, seemed satisfied that the fog could not reach her through the walls of her home and she turned back to the book in her lap. She was meant to be studying, her tutor had told her to.


    Re’em blood is used in fortifying potions. Its properties as an ingredient include strength, vigour, and power augmentation. The blood must be extracted from the Re’em ox’s spine and the potency of even one drop is significant. Potions containing Re’em blood are generally of one colour with the exception of Felix Felicis, which is molten gold, and thus Re’em blood is recognisably present in a potion if the colour is predominately or uniformly burgundy, the boiling point of the liquid is irregularly high, the air bubbles are few and far in-between, and the texture is fluid but thick with a metallic plasma residue. In addition to these recognisable characteristics, the most common test for the presence of Re’em blood is the addition to a simple copper coin. If the coin turns green, it has had contact with the ox’s blood. Re’em blood reacts predictably with most ingredients with the exception of salamander blood and nettles. Mixtures with these items and Re’em blood will be variable in effect and prone to a foul stench or high temperature vapour. It should be noted that Re’em blood can be rarely found in the open market and that the Far East potions corporations have controlled the circulation of the ingredient since the fourteenth century when the dynasty of…

    Arabella closed the book. She didn’t want to learn. The fog was unsettling and she didn’t like it. It preceded and succeeded disaster. That was its nature. She was distracted from her thoughts by the sound of heavy and expensive boots on old wood. She looked up to see a tall and proud man walk passed her mother’s parlour doors and knew him immediately to be Lucius Malfoy. The young girl raised her brows. If Lord Malfoy was at Gaunt House then so too surely would his son be. She tossed her book to the side and forgot it instantly. She slid from her chair and ran up to the parlour’s wooden doorframe. She stuck her head out and saw a young Draco Malfoy trail down the corridor slowly. He seemed to be dusting something off his jumper and his head was bent. When he looked up he saw Arabella and he smiled at her softly as his father, knowing he didn’t have to wait for his son, disappeared up some narrow stone steps. When the smile Arabella returned didn’t quite reach her eyes, he frowned.

    He reached her and scrutinised her with his eyes of nine and one half years. “What’s wrong with you?” He asked. Arabella wrinkled her nose at his tone.

    “Nothing,” she shrugged but she was asking with her word more than stating. She didn’t notice that her smile was dim at all. Draco caught the way she was standing, the way she was leaning very slightly to the right

    Draco looked around the room briefly and saw nothing to assuage his curiosity. He locked eyes with Arabella again. “I don’t believe you,” he said and he said it simply. His gaze wandered to the window and he saw the rain he had just seen from Wiltshire before his father had apparated them both to Gaunt Mansion. Arabella, in front of him, turned to return to the seat she had occupied underneath the window. Draco followed her. “What have you been doing all day?”
     
    Arabella leaned down to pick up the book she’d tossed aside and she handed it to Draco. He raised a brow. “I’m supposed to be learning,” she shrugged.

    Draco looked at her and then down at the book. “But?” He asked.

    She let her eyes drop to the floor. “But I haven’t been,” she admitted. “I’ve been waiting to see what happens.”

    Draco looked up at her with sharp eyes. “What do you mean?” And he was alert.

    Arabella sank down into the chair under the window. “There’s a fog outside,” she said simply. “I don’t know if the worst is over or yet to come.”

    Draco dropped the book back where Arabella had tossed it before and walked the few steps closer to Arabella that he could. He peered down at her face and when her eyes evaded his he took a hold of her chin and forced her to look at him. “What the hell happened?” He asked and then he noticed that she flinched when he touched her cheek. Arabella watched him watch her.

    “I made my father angry yesterday,” she said by way of explanation. “Just because the bruise can’t be seen, doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt,” she smiled wryly but it was mirthless.

    “Stop moving,” he said. “I have to see your face,” and his young voice was crisp as it always was. He had been well raised.

    Arabella let him look at her. “There’s nothing wrong with me, Draco,” she admonished softly. She raised a bemused brow when he set about tracing the contours of her face. She hissed when he ran his thumb along her jawbone.

    Draco looked at her sharply. “As far as you remember,” he spat and she blanched but said nothing. “Tell me you’re all right,” he said surely.

    She blinked. “But you won’t believe me,” and it was a statement. Draco sighed. Arabella smiled at him softly and he moved to sit down next to her.  She looked at him with a sideways glance. “Are you staying here a while?”

    He looked over at her and then passed her at the window, at the rain, and at the fog. He nodded. “I guess so,” he said and he returned his steel eyes to her softer ones. This wasn’t the first time she’d been caught in the mischief that preceded and succeeded the fog, but that didn’t desensitize her and it certainly didn’t dull the fact for him. She didn’t fear anything, but that didn’t mean she’d brave everything. He opened his arms and she smiled. She let him embrace her and lent her head to his chest.

    “Draco?” She whispered to his jumper.

    “Yeah,” he tightened his grip on her. “I’m here.”


    End Flashback


    Arabella was brought back to reality by a familiar pecking sound at her window. She looked up to see a dark owl with piercing and narrow eyes impatiently nipping at the worn metallic frame of the window. It was still raining hard, so Arabella was motivated to quickly slide off her bed, unclasp a lock, and let the owl swoop it. The fearsome little think shook its feathers and drenched Pansy’s bed. Arabella winced.

    She held out her hand and the owl outstretched its leg. A small cube of box fell into Arabella’s open palm. She detached it from the tether that kept it to the owl and placed the box on her bed before turning back to the bird. It looked at her imposingly and she saw a knut on one of her dorm-mates’ side tables. She thanked the girl that wasn’t there and hardly spoke to her anyway and handing the knut to the owl. The bird took it less than graciously in his beak, hooted sharply, and took flight towards the window abruptly. Arabella’s eyes followed him out the window but lost him as he disappeared in the rain. With her eyes drawn back to the wet and obscured landscape, Arabella was reminded of the fog. She thought back to the box on her bed and felt her insides grow cold. Fogs never predicted good things and she didn’t suppose she was looking forward to whatever bad thing could come her way.

    Arabella closed the window and turned to the small package waiting behind her. She sat on her bed and stared at it. It didn’t move, it didn’t speak, and it didn’t make it rain sulphur. She took it in her hands and opened it. A small stained glass pendant fell out and Arabella raised it to the light. It wasn’t opaque, it wasn’t unnaturally cold or warm, and it didn’t cut her. She looked into the box for a note of some sort but there wasn’t one to be found. She was hesitant to wear the pendant, which was attached to a soft linked chain, but she wrapped it around her wrist regardless of what she felt.

    With the glass of the charm against her skin she didn’t feel any different. She didn’t feel poisoned or controlled. She didn’t feel inspired or lustful. She didn’t feel anything so she felt calmer. So instead of worrying over something she couldn’t worry about, she slid off her bed and left her room. She headed down the dormitory stairs and thought about what she wanted for breakfast. But when she reached the bottom of the stairs she was met with Draco Malfoy, just as he entered the common room himself.

    “You’re up late,” he remarked but he was looking at her oddly. Pansy had suggested that he return to the Slytherin centre and he had reluctantly followed her advice. He didn’t know what he was expecting but Pansy hadn’t been smiling. But as he watched Arabella where she had paused at the foot of the dormitory steps, he didn’t see anything wrong. He didn’t stop looking for something, anything, worrying but he allowed himself a sigh of relief.

    Arabella frowned. “It’s not that late,” she said by way of greeting. Draco felt the corners of his mouth twitch in a smile.

    “It’s nearly noon,” he drawled. “You’re nearly always the early riser. I just didn’t know today was the day to break with tradition, otherwise I would have worn a skirt.”

    Arabella looked exasperated. “Your brand of humour is too torturous for someone who has just woken up,” she said. Draco shrugged.

    “Well, I was just about to head down for brunch. Are you hungry?”

    Arabella looked thoughtful. “Actually, yeah,” she nodded and when Draco smiled, she started to walk towards him so that they could leave together. But then her wrist started to sting. The sting escalated to a sharp stab and Arabella’s eyes widened in alarm. Draco frowned sharply but made no movement. Arabella felt very cold and she grimaced with the pain she couldn’t help but feel. Draco started towards her and Arabella clutched at the stained glass pendant tied to her hand. “STOP,” she screamed in a whisper but her voice was hoarse and her throat felt constricted. When Draco was close enough to pull her to him, his hands closed on nothing. Arabella had disappeared from where she’d stood.

    Draco, terrified, yelled for Arabella but she didn’t return. He couldn’t think, he just turned in a circle looking for the girl who had just been there. But she was gone. After a few moments, Draco dragged himself to the Headmaster’s office.



    Fin.
    References:

    1. Est-ce que je peux vous aider, Madame? (How may I help you, Mistress/Madame) - French
    2. Oui, Grégoire. Il me plaira si tu pourrais organiser le déjeuner bientôt (Yes, Gregory. It would please me if you could organise lunch shortly) – French
    3. Bien sur, Madame. Je préparerai un plat pour la salle à manger le plus tôt possible (Of course, Mistress/Madame. I will prepare a plate for the dining room as soon as possible) – French
    4. He thinks too much; such men are dangerous – Shakespeare (Julius Caesar)
    5. Madame, votre déjeuner a servi (Mistress/Madame, your lunch is served) – French
    6. We should knock him down first, and pity him afterwards – Boswell (Life of Johnson)
    7. For the young person, the future is a remote, abstract, unreal thing he doesn’t really believe in – Milan Kundera (Ignorance)
    8. I love him whose soul is extravagant, who wants no thanks and returns none: for he always gives away and does not want to preserve himself – Friedrich Nietzsche (Thus Spoke Zarathustra)
    9. I love him who justifies the future ones, and redeems the past ones: for he wants to perish of the present – Friedrich Nietzsche (Thus Spoke Zarathustra)
    10. A posse ad esse (From possibility to being/actuality) – Latin
    11. Irena gave herself to him with all the weight of her life, whereas he wanted to live weightless – Milan Kundera (Ignorance)
    12. Brave, unconcerned, mocking, violent—thus wisdom wants us: she is a woman and always loves only a warrior – Friedrich Nietzsche (Thus Spoke Zarathustra)
    13. Life is a message scribbled in the dark – Vladimir Nabokov (Pale Fire)
    14. "We're going deeper and deeper," said the lady, anxiously. "To where the truth resides," said Chantal – Milan Kundera (Identity)
    15. A burnt child dreads fire – English proverb
    16. Solitude is the playfield of Satan – Vladimir Nabokov (Pale Fire)
    17. Your bad love of yourselves makes solitude a prison to you – Friedrich Nietzsche (Thus Spoke Zarathustra)
    18. Then the Lord rained down burning sulphur on Sodom and Gomorrah – Genesis 19:24 (Bible)

    Notes:

    1. The House of Borgia was a noble family in Italy of Spanish descent who mucked about with the papacy during the Renaissance Era.
    2. Dumbledore’s remarks about not wanting to preserve oneself are a reference to heroism and the response he got, Draco’s clarification that they didn’t want to perish of the present, meant that just because he and Arabella didn’t want to be glorified in the moment for helping the Light, didn’t mean they were motivated entirely by what future could be facilitated by their actions. What you’re meant to take away from that section of the exchange is that Draco and Arabella aren’t driven wholly by the present or wholly by the future, but by a little bit of both.
    3. It’s cannon that characters cannot apparate or disappear from anywhere associated with Hogwarts. Arabella didn’t apparate or simply teleport.

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