A Dragon and a Phoenix

Chapter 32

Malfoy Manor

"What do you mean gone?"

Narcissa stood at the doorway to her son's room. He was still wearing the clothes she'd seen him in the night before. Rumpled and smelling distinctly of firewhiskey, he blinked blearily at her as if she were speaking a foreign language. She wondered what else had transpired in the night, but quickly dismissed the question in lieu of more important matters.

"I mean exactly what I said. Kimberly has vanished. She nearly destroyed part of the manor in some fiery curse she aimed at her mother and then just disappeared. Thankfully, the damage was minimized by the antipyretic charms built into the manor, but Amaranth didn't fare nearly as well. Marcus has accompanied her to St. Mungo's. In the meantime, he isn't aware that she's missing. I went to find that bloody little twit and have her repair the guest rooms she left in shambles, but she wasn't in her room. I knew I should have locked her in the dungeons instead of leaving her free to roam around the manor."

The pounding headache wouldn't subside and I was sure she had to be mistaken. There was nowhere else she could be but here. "Surely the house elves can locate her. There's no way she left the grounds, especially not in the middle of the night."

With an exasperated sigh she frowned at him, "What kind of fool do you take me for? Of course I've already had the house elves search the manor and grounds for her. She's not here, and she shouldn't have been able to leave by Floo since I've had every fireplace disconnected from the network save mine."

"Mother, I don't care if you can't find her. I was going to tell you when I woke up, but since she's gone and run off, I can go ahead and get it out of the way. I'm not going to marry her. I don't care what mad expectations you have, or what you think they can do to repair our social status. The Malfoy name still commands enough respect to see us through this, and eventually people will remember why. We're one of the wealthiest, oldest wizarding families in the world. So whatever arrangement you've put together with her parents, you can just forget it. Now, if you don't mind, I'm going to shower and get some more sleep."

As I turned, closing the door, Mum grabbed it and shoved it back open. I glanced back in mild shock to find a severe look on her face. "Now you listen, and you listen well, I didn't go through all of this for naught. The Malfoy name commanded the respect and even fear of the wizarding community of old, but the current state of the world has left us with barely a leg to stand on. Ministry hounds scrutinize our every move, and your father is in no position to protect us. The Dark Lord expects us to bring in new Death Eaters, and what better way than to kill two birds with one stone. You marry the girl and regain some respectability and the ministry hounds relent, and then the new additions to the family can be brought in and Marked. The Dark Lord is interested in Amaranth and Kimberly's strange abilities. So I expect to see you downstairs in ten minutes ready to help search for her." She turned and left without further opportunity for protests.

I turned and stalked back into my room glancing around for my wand. Picking it up off the table where I'd left it when I dragged myself to the bed to pass out in the wee hours of the morning. Sitting next to it was the box containing the cuff links that Kim had given me before all hell had broken loose. I picked it up absently, wondering why she had even bothered considering how much she despised me. Flipping the lid open I stared at the glittering emerald eyes of the tiny dragons as if they could answer my questions. Scoffing at my own folly, I made to close the box and saw the small piece of parchment folded and wedged into the lid.

Draco,

Neither of us could have imagined we'd be here right now. Although I never would have chosen this for myself, I've come to know a side of you that I never would have dreamed existed. I know you didn't want this either, but I'm glad we're together now.

Yours,

Kim

The parchment clutched in my hand, I fell heavily into the chair. My head was spinning from the excess drink last night, and the startling revelations of the morning. The note was just more than for which I'd been prepared. She really had meant it when she said she sees me for who I really am. She'd been honest, and I'd ignored and yelled at her when she'd needed me. What an arse I'd been. Now she was gone and I had no idea where to even begin looking for her. Dragging myself out of the chair I headed for the en suite to get a shower. At the very least I could clear my thoughts and wash away the smell of firewhiskey.

Showering and dressing with inattentiveness, I grabbed my cloak and headed downstairs. While in the shower, it occurred to me that one place Kim might have thought to go was the labyrinth. It was one of the few places on the grounds that the weather and time had allowed for us to visit.

On my way down, I stopped by the rooms the Daniels' had been using. The room was in shambles. A couple of house elves were busy cleaning up the mess, but it was evident that if not for the protective charms against fire had been in place that there would have been extreme destruction.

Stepping away from the scorched room, I proceeded down to the foyer, swinging my cloak over my shoulders as I hurried down the stairs. Mother was waiting, impatiently, for me to join her.

"Where do you think you're going? We have to find that little bitch!" she shrieked as I walked past her.

"I know!" I shouted back as I slammed the door behind me. The morning air was frigid, and there had been more snowfall last night. Thankfully, it had been light and I could still make out the footprints Kim had left.

Back tracking her steps, I found myself imagining her walking back to the manor. She and her mother had had quite the row. I'd heard enough to know that Amaranth had been plotting with my mother from the start. She'd lied to her husband and used her son as a pawn in her plans to get rid of her daughter. She was a real piece of work, that one. Despite the tradition of Dark Arts and fixation on blood status, my parents were always hell bent on protecting me and elevating my status even further. I couldn't imagine having my own family betray me the way Kim's had. Sure, my mother had gone behind my back and arranged a marriage that I'd wanted no part of, but she didn't set me up with someone that she knew I hated. Quite the contrary, she'd managed to put me with the one girl that I'd chased after for years. "And then I went and turned my back on her just like her bloody mother," I muttered angrily.

I stepped through the entrance to the labyrinth and absentmindedly walked toward the center, still lost in thought. Although Mother had said she'd had the house elves check the grounds for Kim, I wanted to be sure for myself that she wasn't out here after tracing her footsteps all the way back. The garden at the center was warm and free from snow. I sat on the bench wondering where in the hell she could have gone.

She hadn't gone home, of course. Her father had checked there as soon as Mother had realized that she was missing from the manor and grounds. Though it's doubtful she'd do something as mundane as go to her friends' houses, it couldn't hurt to check there. The only problem with that was the fact that they both hated me. How the bloody hell was I supposed to explain that she was missing when they had no idea that she was even supposed to be here with me in the first place? That would take entirely too long to go through.

Apparating with a small pop, I double checked the address that I'd written down before knocking on the door. A tall, plain looking witch answered the door and looked me over with a politely curious smile.

"If I'm not mistaken, you're Lucius Malfoy's son, aren't you?" she inquired. He looked remarkably like his father. Pale blond hair neatly trimmed, expensive fur lined winter cloak with silver fastenings, but something in his eyes was less than the usual Malfoy haughtiness. Though the rest of his face was schooled to perfect control, that piercing gaze said something was troubling him.

I nodded curtly, "Yes, I am. I need to speak with Sara for a moment."

"I'm afraid Sara isn't available. Her sister was only home for two days this year so we celebrated Christmas a few days early. She's already gone to spend the rest of the holiday with Kat. And I'm sure you don't mind me asking, since you showed up knocking on my door, but what are you wanting with Sara? I recall she said you were dating Kim?" she bluntly asked.

"I am. That's why I'm here. Kim and her mother had a bit of a disagreement, and her father contacted me this morning looking for her. She wasn't with me, and we're trying to find her," I lied. Well, only part of it was a lie.

A look of concern crossed her face. "We haven't heard anything from her. Let me get you the address where they're at in Paris. I'm sure Kat invited her too; maybe she just went to meet up with them. Come in and wait right here while I go get that for you."

I stepped inside the door, shutting it quietly behind me, as she hurried out of the foyer further into the house. I really hadn't expected her to be here, but it was damned frustrating to chase empty leads.

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