Where:Train Station, Paris, France
Frank tapped the train tickets against the counter and nodded to the cashier behind the glass. "Thank you," he said, in English. He stepped away from the line and shuffled them in his hands as he walked back to a long row of hard wooden benches. His shoulder bag was slung over one side, bumping as his legs moved. Frank stopped and stared up at the large electronic board detailing arrivals and departures, and watched people as they walked around. He saw a couple hug and kiss each other, lovers reunited after many months. This made his stomach turn and he moved away quickly. He weaved between people, passing some windows that showed the sky growing dark, the lights of downtown paris lighting, including the Eiffle tower in the far distance. It was a breath taking sight, and Frank had to stop and stare.
Corinna approached him, seeing him come around the bend of the corridor. She held onto her white jacket in one arm, her bag also drapped across her shoulders and closed in the space towardshim. "Pretty isn't it?" She asked him, looking at the window over his shoulder. She turned her green eyes up to Frank and then back at the glass, and her eyes went wide. There had been a shimmer in the glass, a strange reflection that made her step back and look around. There was no-one behind them, but her heart was pounding. She looked to the left and right.
"Corinna...wha...?" Frank said, looking at her and then glanced back, seeing travelrs walking along, with luggage or jackets for the rainy weather.
It had taken him forever to find the girl, this Corinna, and he felt a stirring of relief that she hadn't left yet. Thankfully, he'd remembered to dress in something a little more fitting for a person traveling, and had even donned a hat to hide his... rather distinctive hairstyle... before leaving the hotel. Now, he stood against the wall very near where they were, seemingly perusing an abandoned newspaper and checking the white gold wristwatch he wore (he had a newly developed allergy to silver, unfortunately), looking like any other tourist as he watched them discreetly. He needed to find a way to initiate a conversation with them, but he'd much prefer doing so out of major public view so that it wouldn't cause an uproar if they immediately became defensive.
Frank glanced around, momentarily looking at a tourist in a hat nearby, and then placed a hand on her arm. "You're doing it again," he told her, more like a warning.
Corinna held her hand to her cheek and then looked at Frank. "I don't mean too. I thought I saw him. Again." She sounded alarmed but kept her voice low.
"Let's get you something to eat. Maybe something more than crackers." He gave her a tug on her sleeve, wanting her to walk with him. He refused to call her crazy, as much as her mentions of this 'shadowed person' she claimed to have seen several times.
Corinna stared around and then turned to follow Frank. "I know what I saw..." she told him, as she walked along side him, tugging at the leong sleeves with her fingers. Her hair had finally stopped dripping from them rushing there in the rain but still hung in damp tendrils around her face and shoulders.
Paris snuck a glance off to the side in the direction the two were walking, and was relieved to see that there was a small tourist cafe. He glanced up at the board with arrivals and departures, and then checked his watch again before carefully folding the paper and setting it back down on the bench, starting off after them at a leisurely pace for now.
"Look, here's a nice cafe. I'll get you some tea..a sandwhich." Frank told her and placed a hand lightly ont he small of her back to direct her to sit down at a table. "And then, very shortly, we can leave this place forever." He grinned at her, wanting desperatly for her to smile back. She hadn't smiled since he first arrived and found her. And now, her saddened look haunted him. "I'll be right back," he said softly, and resisting touching her any more, turned and walked up to the counter to order.
Corinna stared down at the table, with its fake flower in a glass vase, and pictures of France stamped on the metal table. Her hair had made the shoulders of her shirt damp, and she drew her hair onto one shoulder, raking it with her fingers. Her white coat, the one she wore for the photographs she, in desperation, signed away to be sold for something or another, laid like a limp fish on her lap.
Only a moment later, a shadow fell over her, only to pull away as Paris pulled up a chair and sat down beside her, looking at her and already saying quietly, "Before you panic, please try and stay calm, I don't want to hurt you... Just talk to you."
Corinna's chin came up and she stared, her mouth opening and made a small start of a sound and then went silent. Her wide green eyes said it all.
Frank read over the menu, and then made a horrible attempt at reading the french as he ordered, oblivious to what was going on behind him.
"You are... Corinna Blackwell, am I right?" It was obvious from his accent that Paris was a native of France, and he tilted his head slightly at her, silently willing her to hold his gaze, if only to keep her calm. He wasn't trying to bespell her, after all.
She stared at him, her eyes moving from his for mearly seconds until looking back. She silently nodded. There was a strange sense of...familiarity. As if meeting him before, but not in a fearful sort of way.
"Este....este el say poi-sson?" Frank asked, squinting at the menu. "Je..je no vou...pas..le..le..sandwhich..a..de...po
"Before I say anything else, I need to give you this," Paris said, willing her to understand that he was trying to help her as he pulled the postcard Daniel had given him from his pocket and put it on the table top, picture up, showing a beautiful shot of the Niagara Falls, all lit up at night.
Corinna hesitated, and then picked it up, staring at the photo of the falls. The back had Severus's tight cursive handwriting, and she ran her fingers over the glossy front. She then started to put it back down when she saw the reflection int he table, causing her to turn it over. She gasped, her green eyes reading.
Frank started for the table holding two to-go cups and a paper bag when he saw another man sitting there. "Hey! HEY!" He called out, and dropped the cups, starting for them. "Corinna!" Frank pulled out his wand, dropping the sandwhich bag at the sametime.
Corinna yelped when Frank was between them, his and pointing at the young man who just handed her the post card. "Frank..Frank no.." She said, holding up the card. "Look! LOOK! Its Sev..Severus's handwriting! He's...he had it..." She waved it to him.
Standing up slowly, Paris said quietly, "I'm here to help. That will do no good with me, anyway, all you risk is exposing yourself to these... people. Please, put it away."
Corinna stared at Frank, her eyes wide. "Frank..people are..staring!" She hissed.
Frank looked around, seeing one or two people looking towards them. He let out a breath and pulled the wand back, and then stuck it up his sleeve. "Its gone.." he told her, showing empty hands. He then leaned down. "Man...I lost the tea.." he picked up the bag, shaking off the spilt tea on it.
"I will buy you more, you have my word," Paris said, reaching out a hand to Frank, as a way to show that he was willing to put himself at possible risk, even though there was very little this Frank could do to harm him unless he knew how to harm or kill a vampire.
Corinna sat back down, looking a little wide eyed, but at least she was attempting to keep control ofher feelings.
Frank furrowed his brows and looked at her. "Do you trust him?"
Corinna twirled her hair around her finger and blankly nodded, staring at Paris.
Frank hesitantly took his hand, shook it loosely before pulling an empty chair up. He sat down, and gave Corinna a cautioned look. "Who are you?" He asked, looking dorectly at Paris, and wondered why he didn't look wet.
Sitting down again, Paris took a deep breath and let it out, closing his eyes for a moment, going utterly still for that same moment. "Paris Dubois," he finally said, and then looked up at Frank again, staring levelly as he reached up and tugged his hat off, revealing the unorthodox white blond and black streaked hairstyle he'd managed to mostly conceal. "And truthfully, you have on reason to trust me. Except for this. I know who came after you two tonight. I know why all this is happening. And quite honestly, I wasn't entirely sure what to do about any of it until this afternoon, and by then, I was ordered to stay out of everything and leave it up to the big boys, in a manner of speaking."
Frank wrinkled his nose, not at his haircut but at what he said. "And what is exactly going on?" he asked, not actually believing him. Frank was a skeptic.
Corinna looked remorseful and leaned in. "Why are they trying to kill me?" She asked, her voice sounding like it was going to crack.
"Kill you? They aren't trying to kill you, dear, though I would think you would probably prefer that to what they plan for," Paris said quietly, shaking his head. "You see... I found out tonight that they were going to essentially kidnap you. Originally, it was to take you to Greece to marry my... uncle.... as part of a deal to give someone an object my uncle possesses, but it seems that between when I saw them this afternoon, and when they showed up back at the hotel, that changed to a plan to hold you for ransom in order to get a settlement from my uncle."
Frank was the one who blurted out. "NO!" He stood, looking ready to attack. "I mean, we thwarted that. The marriage thing. And..and.." he couldn't bring himself to say how he knew or why, and instead sat down. "We are leaving. NOW." He stated and grabbed his and Corinna's bag.
"Corinna, would the initials L. S. happen to belong to a Severus Snape?" Paris said quickly, standing up and spreading his arms to the side, as if to prove that he wasn't armed in any way.
Frank froze, his eyes wide and he looked at Corinna. "Don't say anything." He told her.
Corinna held a breath. "Oh god...how did?"
"I saw him recently, probably before your friend here knew to come find you," Paris said, eyeing Frank for a moment, studying him. "He told you what was to happen to her, didn't he?" He directed the question at Frank.
Corinna started to ask him again about severus and stopped, turning to stare at Frank, her eyes wide still.
"He's the one who wanted this stopped, wasn't he?" Paris asked quietly.
Frank unset his jaw and then glanced from him to her, and then down at the table. He inhaled sharply and looked back at Paris, just giving him a hard stare. He knew Paris was right.
Frank sniffed in some air and arched his eyebrows. "He told me." he finally said.
"You saw him? Frank, you...he told you to come for me??" Corinna said, starting to look upbeat ofr the moment. "He wanted to rescue me after all?? Is he meeting us?" She still remained slightly clueless.
"I imagine he didn't tell you everything, did he, Frank? Told you he wanted his involvement kept a secret? Did he tell you why?" Paris pressed it, knowing that he was getting through somewhat.
Frank grit his jaw more. His hand slid over and draped on Corinna's, and squeezed it tightly. "Because he's helping us. Because," he looked down and then nodded, looking back at him. "Because he's being forced into something against his will and wants to do the right thing."
Corinna grinned slightly. "He's so brave," corinna said quietly, looking at Frank. "He's helping the Aurors stop the bad people," she added, looking at Paris. She only knew what Frank had told her.
He wasn't about to shatter their illusions. he'd seen the young singer in the company of the very 'bad people' he was trying to stop. He knew the boy was a part of it, whether he liked it or not. But he also knew... "He still cares very much for you," Paris said quietly. He pointed to the postcard and added, "That proves it. That is what decided it for me. Before I could not figure him out. Now I think it is wrong to separate you two, whatever happens. And believe me, my uncle would not let you have a life outside of him once he got his hands on you. I've personally seen it, in his past three wives, and in his hirelings. I merely wanted to speak to you both to let you know that the men you stopped? WILL come after you again. Ma petit, you are going to need to keep a low profile once you get home." The French endearment was a little strange coming from him, considering he was shorter than both of them, but it seemed to fit well enough. "Frank?"
Frank was staring at Corinna during all of that and then shot a look over at Paris. He arched his eyebrows up, looking helpess.
"Do your best to keep her safe." He pulled out a slip of paper with a mailing address on it, and seemingly random initials. "If either of you ever are in need of help, write me there, and I will be ready to help out in any way you require. Now, I believe I owe you two replacement teas?"
Frank took the paper, and read it upside down. "Wait," he said, before Paris could get up.
Corinna looked heart broken. "Severus did want to rescue me, right?" She asked.
"I believe he feels trapped by his situation... from the little time I was able to observe him," Paris said quietly. "I sensed a great deal of frustration and worry, and helplessness from him, and I got the distinct impression they were not new feelings."
"How is THAT going to help us get home? I can't even get us a portkey back, and we are forced to travel by boat. That could take days." Frank said to him, partially ignoring Corinna even though he was tightly holding her hand.
"He sounds so depressed," corinna said, and then nodded. "I'm..I used too..know..sense something." She said quietly.
"I am positive that from what I know about him, that he would have wanted to be here if he could to 'rescue you', ma petit," he added with a small, reassuring smile, wanting more than anything to make that heart breaking expression go away. He glanced at Frank and held up a hand as if to try and calm him. "Look at it this way. If he had said nothing, Frank would not be here. If he had not tried to help you, you might have been on the streets, or worse... on your way to Greece. Perhaps that is the case, but he still did something. And that is why I am helping you. Now tell me, how much do you require for a Portkey to leave tonight?"
"That isn't something you can buy, at least..not legally." Frank otld him, wondering if he even knew what one was. "But thats besides the point. Are you saying...Severus did this..out of his own selfishness...and desire for her..and and not to help me and the Aurors?" Frank asked rapidly, as if the heartbreak expression transfered from Corinna to him.
"Oh my god..that means...that means he still loves me!" She squeaked, her hand flying to her chest as she smiled wide. "Oh! Thank you!" She said to Paris.
Paris didn't know what to even say to that. He smiled at Corinna and nodded before looking at Frank and studying him for a long moment. "That is not what I'm saying at all, and if you truly call yourself his best friend, you wouldn't immediately assume the worst about him," Paris said quietly. "I get the sense there's more to it than that, but I did not spend enough time around him to know every detail of his motives, so I cannot tell you anymore than I see now."
Frank repeated what he had said, mostly saying "best friend?" mutely to himself. He then looked confused, embarassed, and slid down to sit ont he chair. Corinna had long wiggled her hand free and seemed absolutly delighted, hugging the post card to himself. "I'm going home, I'm going to tell him..Ooo. I just can't wait!" She said, the more joyful she got the worse Frank seemed to be.
Paris kept studying Frank for a long moment, slowly coming to realize just what he'd done. All he had wanted to do was help. "Ma petit, excuse us for just a moment, please?" he said quietly, touching her arm lightly.
Corinna looked at Paris. She nodded.
"I'm not letting her out of my sight," Frank stated harsher than needed, and grabbed for her hand. "Corinna..."
Corinna gave Frank a "stoooop" look. "I'll just be over there..." she pointed at the counter.
"I just want to speak to you privately for a moment," Paris said, a hurt expression on his face.
Frank furrowed his brows. "Its nothing..its nothing personal." He told him, holding his palm out.
"Well, I'm going to get a brownie, so.." Corinna said, turning her nose up. "I'll be right there Frank." And she turned, still clinging to the postcard, and walked the few feet away, out of earshot but stayed with sight.
Frank watched her go, his jaw seting and resetting as he did. He seemed to stare more at her hair.
Paris held up his hands as if to indicate surrender and said very very quietly, but still loud enough for Frank to hear him, "I know you probably hate me right now, but I truly just want to help. I don't need any sort of recognition if that is any comfort to you. Please just let me help. I can get you both home tonight with your pursuers none the wiser, and all I need is the knowledge that you two have made it safely."
"Its not you I'm close to hating," Frank whispered back, leaning in towards him, one hand on the table. "You're simply the messenger." He glanced back at Corinna, who was looking back over her shoulder and grinning. Frank took a deep breath and looked back at Paris. "Get her home. To England. And get her home safely." He grabbed her coat, shook it out and handed it to him, with the train tickets.
Paris just looked at him, his young seeming face twisted in a confused expression. "And... you are not going with?" he asked skeptically, fearing the man would try to do something stupid.
Frank held out Corinna's bag. "Nope." He then pushed his hand towards him, as if wanting him to take it.
"Why?" he asked sharply, brows coming down sharply at that and stepping back.. He refused to take anything until he knew what Frank was planning.
Frank tightened his grip on the strap. "I'm going after those men," Frank told him, looking serious. "I have to do fullfill my duty."
Corinna came back, and made a funny look at Frank holding her bag up. "Frank..?"
"NO, you are NOT," Paris said, frowning hard now as he reached out to grab Frank's arm with a surprisingly strong grip for such a small person. "You do NOT know what you are dealing with. You were lucky to get away last time, but to go against them by yourself is suicide! You do no good if you are dead - and they will kill you with absolutely NO remorse."
Corinna gasped, and grabbed Paris's other arm. "Whats going on!?"
Frank tried to jerk his arm away, finding the man, who he guessed had to be his age or younger, had an immense bit of strength. Also, staring at his eyes, Frank felt something..something inside of him telling him to let go. "Are you lieing to me?" Frank asked, his held arm shaking slightly.
"Lieing?? Whose lieing??" Corinna asked, confused and grabbed her bag.
"I am not lying, what reason would I have to lie? If you go after them, you stand no chance of ever defeating them, they are older and much more experienced than you, and they could hex circles around you, I swear this to you on my very honour," Paris hissed, a thread of very real fear in his expression now, willing Frank to let this go and just go back to England while he had the chance.
Frank stared hard at him, and then his gaze seemed to jerk to the side, noticing Corinna. "Then..perhaps..I shouldn't." He said, feeling uneasy but his mind changing. "I'm sorry Cor. I must of ...been.." He didn't finish his setence but moved away, running his hands through his hair as he stepped away to breath.
Corinna looked at Paris, her eyebrows up as if asking what was going on.
"Your friend almost made the stupidest decision of his young life," Paris said, the only hint of explanation he would give her, putting a hand to his chest as if just getting over a scare.
Corinna looked concerned and quickly moved over to Frank, putting her hands on his shoulders. He shrugged them off, instead pointing back at Paris, as if motioning for her to go back. She turned and came back to Paris. "He said you're finding us a portkey?" She looked hopeful.
"Yes," he said simply. "But first, I made a promise. What do you want to drink, ma petit?"