They say I look like him when he was my age. They say I have his brown wavy locks and deep brown eyes, of course they also say I sound like her. Her wit, her charm, her way of making him laugh. All I can do is believe them; I never got to meet her. They say she went away on a sabbatical and never came back. I’m not that naïve, I know he killed her.
The first time I met my father, I was fourteen. I had been living in Barcelona when we got the owl. My lessons had ceased immediately for us to gather essentials. A private line from the Flu Network had been set up for us to travel to England. I hadn’t been to England since I was very little. Rumors of my birth had the Ministry in an uproar, so for my protection, handlers had me relocated to several different countries to be raised and taught. I remember squeezing Freya’s hand as we stood in the fireplace, preparing to leave. Freya was the only constant thing in my life; she raised me, named me even.
“Artemis, don’t be scared. Be excited, it’s finally time to come home!”
“Freya, what if he hates me? What if he thinks I’m a prat?”
“Arty! He would never! Yes he’s rough and yes he can be cold, but he’s your father. He’ll love you!”
“Freya, the Dark Lord doesn’t love.”
“Coming Father!” I bounded down the staircase, curious to see what he wanted. Usually when he had time to be at the manor, he ignored me, leaving Narcissa to handle me. To be honest that was perfectly fine with me, the air was lighter and more breathable, when he was gone. It seemed that we could all smile and laugh. I stopped just in front of him, waiting.
“When you leave today, you’re expected to be on your best behavior. As this is your final year, I’m allowing you to make the trip to Diagon Alley with only one guard, Draco.” I rolled my eyes, cursing that Draco had been the chosen one for this venture. We had met the day after Freya and I had returned. At fifteen, he hadn’t grown into his height, that’s to say he looked painfully skinny and awkward. We had gotten on just fine until it was time to return to school. Then his airs returned and I was left to fend for myself.
“Please, can I just go by myself? Draco get’s handsy when no one’s there to keep him in check.” This wasn’t entirely true. Last year, I had tried to help him on his mission. One night as we were working on the Vanishing Cabinet, I lost my footing and fell against him. We had kissed, I felt so embarrassed. Did it mean something, what if Parkinson found out? What if our parents found out? Or worse, Blaise. That night stayed our secret.
“Draco will behave himself, and if not,” he shrugged his shoulders, “you’re not defenseless.” That was funny, not once in the past three years has my father given me any form of a compliment.
“Thank you Father. Is there a specific time you’d like me back?”
“No. No I believe you have earned a certain amount of freedom.” He looked at me for a moment, pondering something. “Artemis, there’s one week left of Holiday. Enjoy it.”
With that, I was dismissed to freshen up for the afternoon. I headed towards my room. The manor had three wings, the east for the Malfoys, the south for headquarters, and the west for me and other guests. As I reached the top of the stairs, I turned left making my way to my room. The nice thing about staying with the Malfoys was that I had my own space. When it had just been Freya and me, we had to live within our means, two bedroom flats and second hand clothing. Here I have my own bathroom and a walk-in closet! I had decided to change out of my sweats and put on jeans. I left my t-shirt the same. As I ran a brush through my hair, a knock came at the door.
“Come in.” Draco poked his head into the bathroom grinning. “Do I even want to know what the shit-eating grin is for?”
“Nice. No, it’s a surprise, so hurry up.”
“You know I hate surprises. They give me a rash,” I started scratching my neck, “see it’s already starting so spill.”
“No way. You’ll just have to wait and see.” He walked over to my bed and lay back with his hands folded under his head.
“Draco, when we get to Diagon Alley can we split up? I’ll get books, you get ingredients, and we’ll meet up for robes. It’ll go so much quicker.”
“Not today Arty. This is my first body guard detail and I’m not screwing it up.”
“Oh, like the Order would do something to me in public. We’ve kept my identity secret for the last three years; I don’t think anyone is going to figure it out.” That wasn’t true either, my first year at Hogwarts, Dumbledore called me to his office. He knew instantly. From then on he had set up sessions with Snape, filled me in on everything I had missed. I walked out of the bathroom to grab my pack.
“Yup, let’s get this over with.” We left the west wing and down the stairs to the front door. Narcissa was there waiting to say good bye.
“Okay loves, be safe, be smart, make good choices-“
“Yes Mother, we’re leaving.” Draco stepped around his mother and out the door.
“Good bye Arty. Try not to let him bully you.”
“I won’t.” I stepped out the door and continued down the drive and passed the gate where Draco was waiting. We disapperated together and appeared outside Florish and Blotts. Our list this year wasn’t that long, Muggle Studies, Dark Arts, Potions, Charms, Transfiguration, and the only class to myself Divination. We purchased our new texts and left for the apothecary.
“Merlin’s beard Artemis; a newt’s eye is a newt’s eye!”
“Forgive me for giving a rat’s tuckus about the quality of my ingredients. If it bothers you that much go get your robes fitted.”
“Oh no you don’t. Just hurry up, it smells like dung in here.” I rolled my eyes and made my purchase at the front. Our last necessary stop was Madame Malkin’s. I loved coming here, the feel of the fabric against my skin, my second favorite shop.
“Hello Madame Malkin!”
“Why hello Artemis! Is it that time of year already?” She came forward and gave a quick peck on each of my cheeks. With our pleasantries out of the way, we quickly got down to business. Within twenty minutes we were done, our robes would be sent to the Manor later this evening.
“Thank the Goddess that’s done.”
“I thought you loved that shop Artemis.”
“Oh I do, but I really felt suffocated in there, too stuffy.” We walked down the street towards the Leaky Cauldron. I stopped in my tracks grabbing Draco’s arm. “Ooooh! Can we go into the Weasley’s new joke shop! It looks like so much fun. Please please please!!!” Draco wrinkled his nose but relented to my begging. I half ran to the shop, skidding to a halt when I reached the door. The shop was filled with people. Shelves reached from floor to ceiling filled with different tricks and jokes. Draco agreed to wait outside, it’s marvelous his dislike for the Weasley’s. I wandered around and tested the things that caught my eye.
“Well would you look at that. Hey Fred, look at who we got here.” I turned around to see two guys with red hair and matching magenta robes gazing at me smiling.
“George! Fred!” I rushed to give them both hugs, hoping Draco couldn’t see me. “How are you? Business looks like it’s going well.”
“It is; it’s booming actually. The Malfoy’s finally let you out of the house eh? It’s good to see you Arty.” Fred gave me an extra squeeze. The twins were the first people outside of Slytherin house to talk to me. I learned my best jokes from them.
“Yeah, but I can’t stay to long. Malfoy.” I jerked my thumb back at the door as explanation.
“Hmmm… Well write us when you can and we’ll send care packages.” George patted my shoulder and I left. They really are the best.
The sunlight blinded me for a moment as I stepped back outside. I took my packages from Draco and we headed towards the Leaky Cauldron.
“So how are the Weasels?”
“They’re good. Business is booming I guess. Are we staying for a drink or going straight home?”
“I suppose we could have one butterbeer before we leave.” We took a seat in the corner and Draco went to grab drinks. When he came back to the table we were joined by some of his friends, Blaise, Crabbe, Goyle, and to my disgust Flint.
“I’m going to use the bathroom.” Draco nodded as I got up to leave. I did my best to skirt around the crew, unfortunately not far enough. Flint reached out and gave my bum a pinch.
“What the hell, Flint?”
“Oh c’mon Artepuss, you know you like it.” It took all my self control not to punch him square in the jaw.
“Flint! Keep your hands off what’s mine.” My head snapped around to Draco. His? Who the hell does he think he his!
“I don’t think I heard you right, your’s? I don’t think so.” I stormed out of the pub not stopping to grab my school things. I spun on my heel and appeared at the end of the drive. I ran onto the grounds holding back my tears. I burst through the front door not pausing to say hello and straight to my room slamming and locking the door. This was exactly why I was afraid of going with him. He sees his friends and I’m no longer a person, I’m chattel. There was a knock at the door.
“Arty?” Cissa’s voice floated under the door gently. She tried to open the door and when she couldn’t, charmed it open. “Are you alright, dear? What happened?”
“His friends, I hate them, especially that troll Marcus Flint!” I wiped my nose on my sleeve. “I don’t get it! Do they not comprehend all I could do to them?”
“Arty, oh honey.” Cissa held me close; she’s the only one to realize how much I miss Freya, how lonely it is for me. “Don’t let them fool you. They behave like that because they fear you. Remember who you are, remember who your father is. Tell you a secret, in four days time, we’re holding a ball for you, a soiree just for you.”
I sniffled and looked up at her, “Really?”
“Yes really. And I’ll deal with Draco; I’ll go talk to Lucius and your father now.” She left the room and I kept sniffling and wiping my eyes.
An hour later I was called down to the study in the south wing. This couldn’t be good, nothing positive comes from having a discussion in the south study. My breathing came faster and faster as I started to hyperventilate. Calm your shit, lady! Pull it together; you never let them see you sweat, damn. I gained my composure as I knocked on the study door.
“Come in.” My father’s voice reverberated through the hall. I crossed the threshold to stand in front of the desk, not bothering with the arm chairs beside me. “You left him.”
“Yes sir. I lost my temper.”
“I don’t respond well to being groped and referred to as property.” My father gave me a considering look. Finally he dropped his gaze, turning to look at Lucius.
“I see, however you disobeyed a direct order, and for that there are consequences. I have given young Master Malfoy another mission. I am aware you offered your services to him last year. I’ve made the decision to assign you to this mission as well, not as his partner, more as an assistant.” My jaw dropped. He can’t be serious, that is seriously all kinds of fucked. It’s bullshit, no more like pisse de chat! I looked from my father to Lucius. Lucius looked like Christmas came early. I bet the bastard came up with this stupid idea. Always looking for ways to climb the ladder. Why doesn’t he just get on his knees already?
“Doesn’t that seem a little extreme to you, Father?”
“No, it doesn’t.” I glared at him, in that moment I wished I had Medusa’s wicked gaze.
“Alright,” I kept my voice even, I’d be damned if I’d let him see my reaction, “I believe I’ll be excusing myself now, if you don’t mind.”
“You may go.” I returned to my room, dreading the moment Draco was told of the recent decree.