I was losing the battle for self-control right now. This girl brought out the flirt in me. I made her nervous, that much was obvious. I wondered if she could tell what she was doing to me. The way her face turned the same color as her vivid hair mocked me; invited me in.
Sid parted her lips to say something, but was interrupted. Not by me, or anything else in the room. A loud, resonating gong sounded throughout the house. I knew exactly what it was. Somebody had just rung the doorbell. What kind of rubbish would be at my front door at a time like this? If it was another one of those bloody sales-witches I was going to hex her arse into oblivion.
"What was that?" Sid squeaked, sounding afraid and relieved at the same time.
"It's the doorbell," I said. I didn't think it could possibly be anything harmful. Then, it hit me. The reason she would be afraid. Somebody was here. Somebody was trying to get in the house. Sid wasn't safe. We had to get out of here. We had to leave right now.
She was scrutinizing me. "You mentioned something about magical enforcements around the house. If an enemy had gotten through them, I don't believe they'd come to your front door."
That thought hadn't occurred to me until just now. Of course it wasn't him. How foolish could I be? The protections around the house were strictly against enemies. Anyone not wishing to inflict physical harm on us was free to come and go as they please, more or less.
"You're right. I was worried for a moment. I suppose I should go answer that," I told her.
"Should I come with you?" she asked.
I shrugged my shoulders. I didn't know who it could possibly be, so there was no reason for me to say no. However, I had a feeling I should answer the door alone.
"Actually, if you wait in the kitchen, I'll be right there as soon as I find out who's here," I suggested, attempting to sound casual so as not to hurt her feelings.
Sid nodded her head. "Lead the way."
Back through the house we went. Almost all of the heat from a few moments ago had been forgotten. Almost, but not quite. I couldn't help but burn with curiosity at the thought of what she might have said next. I knew I had pushed her one step too far.
I waited until the kitchen until she'd sat herself at one of the stools behind the island in the center. Then, with a brief smile in Sid's direction, I headed for the door. Of course, there was more than just a lock keeping unwelcome visitors from intruding. Most of it done by spell though, and couldn't be seen with the naked eye.
Looking through the peephole, I nearly cursed in shock and fury. What the bloody hell were they doing here? I considered my options. I could ignore this and wait for them to leave. That didn't seem very smart. These people wouldn't back off. I assumed they would wait there all night if they had to. That would be very bad. I had my suspicions that the man from Sid's parents' visitation was watching the house. Or he was having somebody watch it for him. No, they would have to be let in.
I unlocked the door, and relaxed the security spells to open it without a word.
"Drakie!" squealed a deep, but somehow still high-pitch voice. It was as she was trying to make her usually unbearably squeaky voice sound deep and seductive, but she was failing miserably.
"Ms. Horwitz," I nodded my head in her direction, then looked at the younger girl next to her.
"Oh, hello, Mr. Malfoy," she said, popping a bubble with her gum and then twirling it around her finger. I suppressed an eye-roll in her direction.
"Miss Blane," I said.
"Please, call me Kassidy," she almost whispered.
I sighed. "What are you doing here, Pansy?"
She ignored my question. "I believe you know my niece, Kassidy, here. One of your favorite students, I don't doubt."
"I don't choose favorite," I replied before repeating my original question, "What are you both doing here?"
"Well Kassidy was supposed to be staying with me for the holidays. Then, Professor McGonnogal sent me here on an urgent request to check that the girl was still safe and . . . unaware about the situation." Pansy peeked around my shoulder as if checking that we were alone. Or perhaps she was looking for a way to sneak by me into the house.
"She's fine," I said, running my hand through my hair. "And I was told that Professor Longbottom would be checking in at some point later this week. Not you, here, today."
"Oi, Neville - that oaf? Er, I think he's still intimidated by you since you did that full body-bind curse to him back in first year," she said.
I snorted. "Neville and I are mates. That rubbish is in the past. You're welcome to leave now."
Pansy linked arms with Kassidy before traipsing by me into the decor of my foyer. There wasn't much I could do unless I wanted to physically push both females out of my house. I wasn't that kind of bloke.
"I'm on strict orders to see the girl with my own eyes, and make sure you haven't slipped up," she explained. I realized this wasn't going to be easy. I knew Sid was smart enough not to let on that she knew more than she was supposed to, but I didn't want Pansy and her little sidekick scaring her off, all the same.
"I'm going to have to report to the Headmistress that you threatened one of the staff," I told her, trying to keep myself calm, closing the door behind us.
"You think I threatened Neville so that I could come here in his place. Don't flatter yourself, Dray." Pansy said, walking through the house with confidence. Kassidy followed her close behind.
"Her name is Sid, by the way." I muttered after her, just before the three of us entered the kitchen.
Sid choked on the glass of water she'd poured herself as she spotted Pansy and Kassidy. A bad feeling started bubbling up in the pit of my stomach. This wasn't going to end well.
"Right," I clapped my hands together. "Well you've seen her. Sid's fine. You two may both go now."
I began to usher them back through the door they came, but Pansy wasn't having any of that.
"Not so fast. I need to talk to you alone while Kassidy here asks the girl a few questions. She's in on this," Pansy said.
"What?" I yelled. "She's a student, Pansy! All students are supposed to remain uninformed! This is none of her business."
Pansy scoffed. "She's a relative. I can make it her business if I want to. Now come on."
She grabbed my wrist and began dragging me out of the kitchen. I turned my head as I was being lead away and mouthed an "I'm sorry" to Sid, who looked so helpless I felt like a prat.
I sat there, feeling helpless as Mr. Malfoy walked out with Ms. Horwitz and I was left alone with Kassidy.
She popped her gum. "So are we going to go into a different room or are we just going to do this thing . . . here?
After she made it clear that 'here' was not good enough for whatever she had in mind, I stood up. "Er, we can go somewhere else."
I had no idea where I was going, but I figured I'd try the first door we found and see if that would be sufficient.
We walked a little ways until I found a staircase that looked safe. At the top, there was a door just to the right of it. I walked forward as if I knew where I was and tried the handle. Thank Merlin it was unlocked.
When I looked inside, I saw that it was some kind of gym/exercise room. This wouldn't do.
"Oops," I apologized. "This is just the workout room."
Kassidy stepped past me into the room. "This will be perfect."
She dropped her bag by the door and pulled out her wand, waving it above her head in a circle. It took me a minute to realize what the spell had done. Then I noticed that her clothes had changed. She was wearing short little cheer shorts and an extra small tank top.
"There, that's better." she said. "Right, let's cut to the chase."
I swallowed. "Okay."
"All you are to me is a little, ginger, orphan-slut who thinks she can steal the most eligible teacher at Hogwarts for herself," she sneered. My jaw dropped to the floor. "Well I've got news for you Ginger Lou. I've been after Mr. Malfoy since 1st year. And I was this close to having him before you came along. My Aunt Pansy has been after him a lot longer than that, and if neither she nor I can have him, then you sure as bloody hell can't either."
"Excuse me?" I said, not quite sure I was really hearing this. "I don't know wh-"
Before I could finish my sentence, she'd pulled her wand out and launched a hex at me. If I hadn't been expecting something like this to happen, I would have been blasted off my feet. As it was, I jumped out of the way just in time, pulling my own wand out of my robes.
She opened her mouth to utter another curse, but I beat her to it, having already gotten the hang of nonverbal spells. I disarmed her, and caught her wand in my hand, pocketing them both.
I brushed myself off and stood up, pleased to see her shocked face. "Now, I'm not sure how you do things here in London. But back where I come from, in America, we don't make fun of someones lack of parents. And we solve problems with our wands."
"Let me guess," Kassidy mocked. "You civilized yanks use your words, instead?"
I walked toward her, putting on my most innocent face. She was buying it. I clenched my hand.
"Not quite," I said. "We use our firsts."
And with that, I decked her. Right in the nose. I heard a sickening crunch and my knuckles began throbbing. I knew I'd broken it. Nothing a quick healing charm couldn't fix. But satisfying nonetheless.
I saw the blood begin to fall from her nose as she sank to her knees with a high-pitch whimper. I turned my back on her and walked out of the room, calling for Mr. Malfoy.