A Summer to Remember, Part II
A Summer to Remember – Part II
Disclaimer: Nope. Still not mine. Even the OCs belong to my amazing beta, vidicon.
A/N: *blows the dust off the keyboard* Well. It's been FAR too long since I managed to crank out something workable, and then this came to me. Hopefully the next dry spell won't be so long. To everyone who's still with me, thank you all, I appreciate all the wonderful feedback I get from you, my readers.
Despite her brazenness to Lily about ‘having’ Severus at her first opportunity, Jocelyn withstood the temptation for nearly three weeks, due to certain other considerations. Not the least of which being the Malfoy family Midsummer celebration, which, unbeknownst to Severus, was exactly when she’d been planning to be their first night together. Her parents always threw a lavish ball, and this was to be no exception. Moreover, her father had commissioned a new family portrait to be painted in honour of the event.
Severus, to his shock, was instructed to sit for his own portrait, as Jocelyn’s intended. To his chagrin, Lucius bought him another set of formal robes for the event.~flashback~
Severus woke to a sharp knock on the door of his room at Malboral. Rising with a spine-cracking stretch, he padded to the door and opened it, blinking in slight confusion at the sight of Lucius, standing there in fashionable deep green robes, including a double caped cloak to stave off the rain he could hear drumming against the window.
“Lucius? What brings you here? I thought you were staying in the London townhouse this summer while you studied the running of the exchange.”
Lucius gave his friend a small smile. “Mother called me home to sit for a portrait, and mentioned that they had informed you that one would be made for you as well.” Eying Severus’ worn nightshirt with faintly visible distaste, he added, “I’ve come to take you shopping for appropriate attire.”
Severus scowled. “We talked about this after the Christmas Ball last year, Lucius. I don’t want you buying me clothes.”
“Yes, and as such, I’ve already had to stop the House elves from discarding certain bits of your clothes and simply replacing them, as is their habit when something of mine or Jocey’s gets worn through.” He sighed. “Sev, I know that you would prefer to mend your own things, and only buy new things with money you earned for yourself, but there are times when you would do well to remember that as a Malfoy, Jocelyn is expected to meet a certain standard in society. Is your pride more important than her, Severus?”
Severus glared. “Lucius, if you weren’t my friend, I would hex you for that. It doesn’t matter how you dress me up, nobody in ‘society’ is likely to forget who I am, and if it weren’t for your sister, I would not be forced to put up with the barely masked disdain and pity that is always aimed at me during one of your family’s social events. I love her enough to tolerate such things, because they make her happy. That does not change the fact that I don’t want your charity.”
Lucius frowned, twin spots appearing high on his cheeks as he began to get angry. “Severus, you are my friend. Moreover, you are in a courtship with my sister. If I choose to buy you a gift, it is not charity. One day, you will be my brother-in-law, and as a member of this family, you will have to at least appear respectable, even if you don’t wish to take full advantage of the resources at your disposal. Today, I am taking you shopping for a robe that will be appropriate to wear for a sitting for a portrait that will hang on the walls of this keep for so long as the Family endures. If you argue with me, I shall tell my mother about it, and leave you to her capable hands.”
Severus blanched. Lady Ermingard intimidated him almost more than her husband. For all her sweet, motherly ways, the Lady had a spine of goblin-wrought steel, and if she decided that he needed new clothes, he could only imagine the shopping trip that might ensue. He’d already seen her and Jocelyn come through the Floo more than once nearly obscured by parcels from every fashionable Wizarding shop in Europe.
Lucius smirked slightly. “I will meet you in the foyer in twenty minutes, shall I?”
Severus sighed, and nodded. “Twenty minutes. I’ll be there.”
Closing the door after Lucius left the room, Severus groaned, scrubbing his hands over his face in irritated resignation. The things he did for his beloved.
In the end, circumstances being what they were, Severus allowed Lucius to take him shopping for the robes, and wore them well, if somewhat uncomfortably. Despite more than a year and a half of Jocelyn’s gentle pressure to refine him, and Lucius’ slightly more open campaigning to make him acceptable to the upper class of Britain’s Wizarding community, Severus still felt as though he were being measured and found wanting every time he attended one of the Malfoy family functions.
When Bitsy, the House elf who’d been assigned to look after him whenever he stayed at Malfoy Manor or Malboral, collected him for his sitting before the portraitist, he was perfectly turned out. He was also judiciously fortified with a very moderate nip of Firewhisky, which had conveniently been left in his rooms, along with a note, from Lord Malfoy, enjoining him to “Relax, and just be yourself.” Severus was slightly unsure how to respond to the note, but he appreciated the thought. Bitsy led him to a conservatory nestled against the south face of the Keep, where he was bemused to notice Jocelyn helping her mother tend to a small but lush planting of Angel’s Kiss in one of the window boxes at the western end of the conservatory. The House elf coughed quietly, and led him to the other end of the conservatory, where he was pointed toward a dark brown velvet upholstered chair, and left alone.
He hadn’t been in this room of Malboral Keep before, as it was part of Lady Ermingard’s private domain, settled just below the personal apartments of the Family. He studied the black-painted ironwork frames and the glazed windows with interest. It was rather unlike the conservatories he’d seen in Surrey, or London, where space was at a premium. At a guess, he rather thought the Malboral conservatory by itself was nearly the size of his own home at Spinner’s End. It appeared to be more or less Victorian in design, though he hadn’t seen one shaped exactly like it before. More that it seemed as though someone had built two large identical Victorian conservatories, and put them up side by side, leaving out the adjoining walls. In the middle was a small tiled pool, and the roof appeared to open above the pool, not unlike a Roman atrium and impluvium. He watched the women, working with the plants and talking quietly, as he waited for the portraitist to arrive. When Lady Ermingard walked sedately to the shallow pool of water and dipped up a pitcher by hand, he realised that it was an impluvium. He returned her smile with a nod and a small one of his own.
As Lady Ermingard returned to her gardening, he turned his attention to the large stained glass section in the roof of the conservatory. Something about it drew his eye, and when he stood and walked to stand beneath it, he realized why. The stained glass depicted, in what must have been hundreds of segments, the Malfoy Family Tree. The base was a bit of black volcanic glass labelled “The Malfoi”. Stretching across the window from that point was a most beautiful array of glittering, jewel-like glass ‘fruit’ within the generally green window. Each fruit was labelled with a name and date – Severus assumed a date of birth – beautifully scripted in pewter. The colours seemed to follow some form of order, though he was uncertain as to its full meaning. The males were generally depicted in red or orange, females in bright purple or dazzling aqua blue. After a few minutes careful study, he realized that individuals who married into the family were depicted in yellow and mother-of-pearl. The overall effect was stunning.
“C’est magnifique, non
?” The question, issuing from behind him, caused Severus to startle, and he turned sharply on his heel to find a middle aged man placing a blank canvas on the easel that had been standing in the corner of the room when Severus arrived. The man offered a self-deprecating smile, and gestured toward the stained glass. “Eet ees most beautiful, no?”
“Oh, yes. It’s quite impressive.” Severus found himself slightly discomfited by the artist’s sudden appearance, and shifted awkwardly from foot to foot for a moment, before skirting around the man and sitting once more in the brown chair.
“Ze creator of zat window was a true artiste. Such flair, such elegance... it is ze very reason I chose zis spot to create for you a portrait. See, it does not alter ze colour in ze room because ze sun is past, and shining in through ze other side of ze roof, but ze beauty remains, an inspiration! I have done paintings here for young Monsieur Malfoy, and his beloved Amelia already, and your Jocelyn as well.” Pressing his fingers to his mouth for a moment, the man looked Severus over, and shook his head. “Non, zis will not do. You wear such dark colours, you will disappear into zat chair. Up!” Severus blinked as he was summarily ousted from the seat, and watched, bemused, as the artist, who had yet to give his name, pulled a wand from his palette, and waved it at the brown velvet chair, Transfiguring it into a lush green and ivory Victorian brocade. “Zere. Now, we will not lose you in ze darkness of your seat, young man. Sit.”
Feeling a bit like a lapdog, Severus sat stiffly on the richly coloured silk, and resisted the urge to scowl. “Sir, if I might inquire as to your name...? I’m afraid nobody mentioned it.”
“But of course! Where are my manners today. I am Phillipe Henri DuValle,” the artist replied with a formal bow.
Severus cocked a curious eyebrow at him. “THE Phillipe DuValle? Somehow, I’d expected you to be a bit... older, sir.”
Phillipe laughed, and shook his head. “Non, mon ami
, I am only forty two, although I have had such a busy career that one might imagine I’d been painting grand portraits of witches and wizards for much longer. I take my art very seriously, but of course, ze nobles and ze royals, zey would not want to be immortalised by one who did not, oui?
Ze paintings, zey bear a bit of your magical essence, and it would be a travesty to put part of yourself into an imperfect image. Wiz magic, ze process is much less tiresome and time consuming zan if you were being painted by a Muggle artiste, of course, but zat means much greater skill is required. Now, we begin!”
Severus blinked in surprise when Phillipe picked up a tiny cup and a small silver knife. He eyed the knife warily as Phillipe moved to his side. “What-?”
“Ze painting requires a few drops of your blood, and one of your hairs, to bring it to life. You will never see zese materials, of course, as zey are mixed with ze priming potion for ze canvas. It will be a tiny cut, on the tip of ze index finger of your wand hand, please. I will close ze wound before I begin working on your portrait.”
Severus offered his hand, not flinching when the cut was made, and waiting until Phillipe had mixed the ingredients with the primer potion before he asked, as he watched the rapid brushstrokes applying the primer to the canvas, “Why didn’t you ask for my blood and hair before? Wouldn’t it have been simpler to prepare the canvas before bringing me down here?”
Phillipe snorted. “Of course not! Ze primer must be supremely fresh for ze magic to take hold. If I collected ze blood and hair, zen primed ze canvas while you were still dressing, and zen arranged both you and ze setting, ze magic would be sapped from ze canvas before I ever laid down a single stroke of paint. Ze magic is very finite, and must be affixed to an image for it to last more zan a few hours. I can have ze portrait finished well before ze potion expires, but only if I begin immediately once it is applied to ze canvas. Fortunately, ze potion’s longevity is increased wiz each additional magical essence zat is incorporated into it, or family portraits would be impossible to complete, n’est ce pas
Severus was intrigued. He’d never heard of such an application for potions magic. He opened his mouth to ask another question, and Phillipe pointed his finger at him severely. “Until I finish, you must be quiet. I do not talk wiz my subjects while I paint, it is too much distraction.”
“Oh. Of course. My apologies.”
For the next three and a half hours, Severus sat very still. Phillipe allowed him to stand and stretch his muscles twice, but he was quite stiff by the time the diminutive Frenchman stepped away from the canvas and smiled. Looking over his shoulder, Phillipe called out, “You may come in now, Mademoiselle Malfoy.”
Jocelyn stepped around the impluvium and hurried to stand beside Phillipe and look at the portrait. Her face lit with pleasure, and she beamed at Severus. “Come look, Sev! You look wonderful!”
Warily, and a bit awkwardly, Severus stepped around the easel to look upon the canvas. His own unsmiling visage looked back at him, cocking a faintly amused eyebrow when Severus rolled his shoulders – causing his spine to crackle and creak. “I suppose it’s fortunate that I’ll never have to worry about getting a stiff back, isn’t it?” the painting smirked.
Severus resisted the urge to roll his eyes, and asked Jocelyn, “Does he meet your expectations, my love?”
Her eyes sparkled. “Absolutely. Shall we introduce him to my portrait?”
“Please do. I would prefer not to be away from my beloved longer than I must, now that Monsieur DuValle has finished with me.”
Phillipe frowned. “You may bring your portrait into this room, Jocelyn, but she must stay on her own canvas, and you must remain upon yours, until you dry properly, Monsieur Snape.” He scowled. “I will not make new paintings of both of you because you damaged each other in your youthful impatience. If you leave your canvas, or another comes unto it while you are not properly dry, ze magic will be ruined, and you will cease to live in ze portrait when your paint dries.”
Jocelyn blanched. “I’ll tell her... me. I’ll make sure she doesn’t damage Sev’s portrait!”
Phillipe and Severus watched Jocelyn leave the room, and the Frenchman smiled. “She is a good girl. ‘Er grandmere is very proud of ‘er. You are a fortunate young man. I wish you both ze best.” Then, he turned away from the young wizard and began cleaning up and packing away his supplies.
Severus raised an eyebrow. “You know Dame Hélène?”
Phillipe smiled. “Certainement
. She is my wife’s aunt. My Elise is a DuBois by birth. ‘Er father is ‘ead of ze family.”
Severus blinked. He hadn’t considered Jocelyn’s French grandmother having her own connections. He wouldn’t have guessed that the most famous portraitist in Wizarding Europe might be related to his intended. It did explain the number of DuValle portraits in the Malfoy family collection.
As Phillipe was finishing his clean-up, Lady Ermingard and Lord Abraxas strolled into the room, moving to stand before the painting. They studied it for a moment, then Lady Ermingard embraced the Frenchman, and smiled. “Thank you, Phillipe. It’s outstanding, as always.”
“Only ze best for my family, ma jolie
. You will invite us to ze wedding, oui
“Of course.” Ermingard stepped away from Phillipe, and reclaimed her husband’s arm.
Abraxas smiled. “Give Elise our love. We expect to see you both at the Midsummer ball this year.”
Phillipe nodded, and hefted his carefully packed case of paints onto his back. Pulling his wand from his sleeve, he pointed it at the chair he had Transfigured.
Ermingard put a stilling hand on his. “Don’t. It looks much better in that fabric than the brown.”
He smiled. “Very well. I must be going. I have another sitting to attend to zis evening.” He tipped his hat and walked out of the conservatory.
Abraxas smiled at the teens. “Well, then. I presume Phillipe warned you not to cross canvasses until Severus is properly dry?” When the painted images both nodded sombrely, he gave a short nod of approval. “Good. Then we will leave you two to talk. Oil paints can take several days to dry, so you have plenty of time. Severus, Jocelyn, come along. We have something we wish you to assist us in arranging.”
With a last look at his portrait, which was scowling mutinously at the news that he would be trapped in his canvas for several days, Severus followed his intended’s parents from the conservatory, Jocey on his arm.
They walked through the house, and were joined by Lucius and Amelia as the elder Malfoys led them to a formal drawing room on the second floor. Spread across a table were decorator’s catalogues, and assortment of fabric swatches, and a selection of wines and various hors d’ oeuvres were set out upon another table.
Jocelyn looked at her parents in hopeful inquiry. “Mum, Dad, is this...?”
Abraxas smiled. “After your mother and I had a bit of a talk, we’ve decided that this Midsummer’s Night , the ball will be your formal debut into society, if you do not object. Since you’re of age for a debut, and you’ve already chosen a husband, we thought it would be appropriate to present you to the peerage before announcing your engagement. If you don’t object to sharing your debut with one of our standing traditions, Jocey.”
Jocelyn beamed at her parents. It might be a bit old-fashioned, but she had hoped they would offer her a debutante ball. It was a once in a lifetime event, and she would have been disappointed not to have one. “Of course I don’t mind, Daddy. But oh! The ball is next week! That’s barely enough time to get a dress made!”
Ermingard smiled indulgently. “Which is why we have a selection of fabrics for you to choose from. Your grandmother’s seamswitch, Esme, is waiting in your room to measure you for your gown. We will also need to discuss decor, and you will be selecting the menu this year.”
Severus fought to hide is discomfort, even as he watched his beloved practically glow with joy. He met Lord Malfoy’s eyes, and swallowed down his fear. He knew that if Jocey was the belle of the ball, he would be in the eye of every member of the noble class, as her escort for the event. He straightened and schooled his features to mild interest, and smiled at Jocey when she turned sparkling blue eyes on him.
“You’ll help, won’t you, Sev? What colours do you like best for me to wear?”
“Erm...” Taken aback by the sudden demand for fashion advice, Severus looked at the creature wearing his love’s face. A muffled chuckle drew his eyes to Lucius, who was pressing his fingers to his mouth to keep from laughing at his friend’s plight. Amelia was smiling indulgently at Jocey, who was clearly very excited. Glancing at her parents, he noticed that Abraxas’ eyes were twinkling with mirth, and Ermingard was pressing her lips together rather firmly. Clearing his throat, he looked back at Jocey, and replied tentatively, “Perhaps we should look at the samples your parents have provided?”
She smiled, and dragged him to the table. Giving the display a cursory once-over, she pulled a dozen swatches from it in very short order, and held them out to him for inspection. One in particular caught his eye, and he smiled. Lifting the material gently between his fingers, he rubbed it slightly as he said, “This would look magnificent on you, Jocey.”
His choice was a delicate silk, exactly the colour of her eyes, shot with silver and gold threads, giving it a shimmer that would reflect the beauty of her golden curls and alabaster skin to perfection. Returning the rest of the samples to the table, she handed the silk swatch to her mother. After a moment’s consideration, she plucked a pearlescent swatch of the same weight and weave from the selections, and handed that to her mother as well.
Ermingard gave the two swatches an approving look. “Pearl underdress, blue gown?”
Jocey nodded. “It’s perfect. I can wear the pearls Nana Abbott gave me for my last birthday with it.”
Ermingard smiled at her daughter. “That will please her very much. You do know that Granddad and Nana will be coming to the ball this year?”
“They will? Oh, Mother, that’s wonderful! They’ve been away for so very long!”
Hugging Jocey, Ermingard replied, “Well, you know how Granddad likes his hunts. And Nana has been doing charity work in Africa while he’s been busy.”
Abraxas shook his head. “I never thought your dad would follow in Sir Herbert’s footsteps when he retired from the Ministry.”
Ermingard smirked at her husband. “Well, Grandfather always did say that the best way for a man to keep from getting old was to stay active, and that hunting things that could eat one was the best activity in the world for keeping the wits sharp.” The smirk became a shark-like smile. “At least Dad doesn’t hunt... Dragons.”
“Hmmphm.” Severus blinked at the distinctly Scottish sound that suddenly emanated from the Head of the Malfoy Family. Abraxas was turning an unusual shade of red, and looking fixedly out the window. Severus had a feeling there was a story there, but Jocey distracted him with a gentle pull on his arm, as she towed him to the table of foodstuffs. Dutifully, Severus tasted everything she put in front of him, and the menu for the ball was decided in remarkably short order. Had anyone asked him an hour later, he would have no idea what had actually been chosen, beyond a rather tasty summer salad made with grilled chicken breast, walnuts, and grapes. He did know that both Malfoy vineyards would be represented at the table that night, though Jocey was disappointed when her parents turned down her suggestion of Chateau DuBois. He made a mental note to ask her why later.
The discussion regarding decoration was lengthy, as for once, Jocelyn encountered resistance. By the time any decisions were made, more than an hour had passed, and eventually Lady Ermingard put an end to the argument with a gentle smile, and a firm tone. “We’ve agreed upon the colours, and I believe the House-elves will be more than capable of designing the decor. Jocelyn, you have a dress to be measured for. Severus, you will allow Abraxas to take you to his haberdashery to have appropriate attire made for you as well. Take these, so that Armand does not make you clash with Jocey. You will be spending most of the evening at her side, after all.”
Severus sighed, and accepted the two swatches of fabric – identical to those Jocelyn had taken with her the moment her mother ordered her off to her fitting. “Yes, Lady Ermingard.”
Ermingard smiled. “Don’t worry, Sev. Armand will make you something that will look smashing on you. Possibly in a dark blue. You’ll be fine.”
Severus nodded, and followed Abraxas out of the room. Lucius and Amelia remained behind with Lady Ermingard, and Severus could hear her giving them instructions as well. He hesitated a moment, before he asked, “Lord Malfoy?”
“Do call me Abraxas, Severus. You’re going to be marrying my daughter in a few years, you may as well get used to being part of the family now.”
“Erm... yes, sir.” Severus took a long moment to organize his thoughts, then asked, “Would you tell me about Lady Ermingard’s family, sir? I don’t want to make a bad impression on Sir Nigel, and his wife.”
Abraxas smiled, a bit wryly. “If you’d asked me that very question twenty-four years ago, I would have told you to ask someone else, and to let me know what you discovered. Ermy’s father and grandfather made me nervous as an unbroken yearling with a snake in its path.”
“Why is that, sir?”
Abraxas smiled ruefully. “Let it be enough to say that my courtship of my Lady began in a somewhat... unorthodox fashion, and I was very worried by Sir Herbert and Mr. Nigel Abbott’s reactions, should they discover the details thereof.”
Severus cocked a curious eyebrow at his intended father-in-law. “Might that worry have had to do with the fact that upon choosing Miss Abbott for a wife, your infamous string of conquests came to a sudden end, sir?”
Abraxas laughed. “It would not go amiss to say so, no.”
Rubbing his chin thoughtfully, Severus asked, “That could not have been a comfortable prospect. I don’t imagine I need have the same fear of you, sir?”
Abraxas smiled, and clapped Severus on the shoulder. “After talking the matter over with my wife, I’ve decided to let Jocey decide when she is ready for such things, although I would appreciate it if you would not make me a grandfather before I’m at least forty-five, if you please?”
“No sir. Lucius is far more likely to do that than I, sir.”
“Just so. Severus, as long as you treat my daughter with the care and devotion I’ve already seen in your every gesture toward her, you will never need fear my wrath, nor that of my wife. If we did not wholly approve of her choice of husband, you would have known long before now, son.”
Severus offered Abraxas a small, grateful smile. “Thank you, sir.”
Abraxas cleared his throat, and offered Severus a slightly ironic look. “Of course, it’s not so much Mr.
Nigel, or even Sir
Herbert that you have to be worried about. If you are concerned about gaining the approval of my Lady’s family, it’s her grandmother and mother, Lady Ambrosia and Mrs. Gertrude Abbott, you have to impress.” His look became a touch mischievous as he added, “My mother will be in attendance as well.”
Suddenly, Severus was worried all over again.
*stretches* Well, that's one more down. Yes, I will be writing out the Midsummer Ball. I'm already plotting out a number of things for that.
See you soon!