Train Station, Paris, France
Dubois Estate, London, United Kingdom
Frank stared at the umbrella stand. They were on the edge of the concourse, their train had come and gone. It had been nearly four hours since Frank changed his mind about going after their newfound enemies. However, his newest conclusion was that Paris had lost his mind. "This is our portkey?" He asked, looking past Corinna (who was also staring at it) to look at Paris.
"A portkey can be anything stationary," Corinna replied and tapped the bottom of it with the toe of her shoe. It rocked slightly and settled back in its place. "Does it go to London?" she took looked over at Paris.
"It does," Paris said, staring down at his watch intently, counting down the seconds until the Portkey activated. "It goes to an empty room in my mother's summer home in London. I know for a fact the house will be empty as I visited her a week ago here in Paris."
Frank sniggered lightly. "Mother's summer home." He looked at Corinna. "Did I mention my summer home in Jamaica?" He eyed Paris, arching an eyebrow.
"Will you stop?" Corinna hissed at Frank. She looked back at Paris. "Will you stay? In London?"
"Mock me all you like," Paris said with a sigh, and then held up a hand. "Thirty seconds." He glanced at Corinna and said in an apologetic tone, "I wish I could, but I can only stay for a few hours. Better grab on, or you'll be left behind," he said to Frank, as he reached out for the stand.
Frank shot him a stare, making a show of being annoyed at his rebuttle and grabbed the top of the umbrella rack. "Corinna...now!" He hissed.
Corinna, who had been watching a mother and child across the way, realized quickly and grabbed both the umbrella stand and Paris's arm. She felt a pull in her stomach, and then she squeezed her eyes. In a quick second, all three were pulled into some sort of void and popped out of space, leaving the lone umbrella stand where it was.
Frank felt the hard floor first, and then let out a groan as his shoulder seemed bruised. He opened his eyes, closing them was always force of habit when using a portkey, and found himself staring up at a mural of animals and a forrest. A few blinks he realized it was on the ceiling. "Wow," he murmured, standing up as he stared upwards.
Corinna found herself sitting on a comfortable couch, although covered in the same plastic it was originally purchased in thirty years earlier. She opened her eyes and looked around, seeing a lavishly decorated room, even a grandfather clock ticking away. "P..paris?" She called out, looking past the gilded tea tray on the oak table.
Paris stepped away from a painting he'd been staring at wistfully, and turned around, smiling ruefully at them. "Welcome to the sitting room of the famous Dubois Estates manor," he said in a quietly dignified voice, spreading his arms out as if to legitimately welcome them. "You may perhaps have heard of it, I'm sure."
Frank, who was rubbing the back of his head, walked in from the other room, one of many that displayed artworks. "Dubois Estates?" He said, his voice echoing off the walls. "As in, patron of the Royal Museum of Art Dubois?" He stared at Paris. "And the music scholarship I had when I was eight?"
Corinna moved to stand, and started to touch the dainty tea set when Frank walked in. "Wooow..." she breathed in quietly.
Paris' eyes lit up at that, and a wide, delighted grin split his face as he said, "You DO know of us then! Yes, that would be it, quite right! Wow, you got the scholarship? You must be very talented." Walking over, he beckoned to both of them and added, "Follow, I'd love to hear you play something, if you're up for it.."
Frank sniggered a laugh. "We just traveled thousands of miles and you want me to play piano?" He followed him anyways.
Corinna immediatly put the tea server down and followed them, leaving her white jacket behind. "Don't...suppose you have anything I can change into?" She asked as she followed them past an elaborate dining room. She stopped, stared, and then quickly followed. "It was raining."
"I'm sure he has a mink fur coat or two," Frank joked, actually more out of a light heartedness for the man. "I was chosen from 1200." He started telling the sotry of his auditions for the scholarship, a story he's told hundeds of times.
Paris let the man talk, and led them into a large room with a grand piano, and a few other instruments, including an impressive collection of violins and cellos locked away in various display cases around the room and then said, "Wait here, and I'll find you something to change into."
Frank let out a laugh, more impressed than anything. "This is..incredible," only he said it French without thinking of it. "This isn't real..." he laid his hand on the white grand piano, and lifted the keys cover. As he did, he let out an orgasmic breath.
Corinna immediatly started to chuckle. "Frank, are you going to get off on this?" She said, arching an eyebrow as she walked towards the piano.
Frank opened his eyes and stared at her and then rolled them. "You have no idea." He sat down, cracked his knuckles, and pressed the keys, hearing the chords vibrate. "beautiful," he breathed and played a climbing ladder in chords before starting a Bach piece. "beautiful," he said again, eyes closing as he played. It had been...too long.
Within two minutes, Paris was back in the room, holding out a few different items of clothes to Corinna. He himself had changed, too, into something more befitting the elegant surroundings, but still a little bit casual for them as well. "I figured you might want a selection," he said softly to her, not wanting to interrupt Frank's playing. He smiled, nodding a bit to himself and set a separate bundle of clothes down on a chair, going over to one of the display cases of violins and pulling a key from his pocket to open it, selecting the smallest one in the case and testing the strings carefully. He then picked up an unstrung bow, and strung it, making a few testing passes over the strings before starting to play quietly along with Frank's, frowning to himself until he found a good harmony for it - and then he let the sound soar over the rest of the room, mingling with the sound of Frank's piano.
Frank had been staring up at the guilded muraled ceiling when he heard apiano sing out. He arched his neck and turned, staring at Paris, his eyes wide. He then made half a grin, as if approving of his violin. Frank asked him if he wanted to play something, speaking the french title, and changed the tune half way to something else, this time by George Bizet, a 1th century composer who composed 'Carmen' and "The Pearl Fishers," both tradgesiues but had many uplifting complicated numbers.
Corinna picked through the gowns, and held them each up to herself, holding the skirt from herself. "Gorgeous!" She cooed, and stroked a fur mink coat. She laughed at Paris taking Frank's comment literally. "Where can I change?" She asked.
"Out the door I came in through, the next door on your right, it's a lavatory," Paris said with a small grin, and nodded at Frank, listening for a moment before he recognized the piece, and started playing along with it. "You, my friend, deserved that scholarship. Magnifique! "
Frank chuckle dlightly. "No, I mearly play what's already written. I can't compose anything." He watched Paris, playing without even looking at the keys.
"I was going...going to talk to Severus. She about recording but...well...I guess you can see what happened." Frank added, switching to a faster tempo, a bullfighter's song from "Carmen!" to test Paris.
Corinna slid out of the room, and emerged a few short minutes in an chocolate silk toupe gown, 1940s in style with a square cut neck and high waist. She tried to walk daintly, and then spun around. "What do you think?"
Paris shook his head, chuckling to himself as he switched up his playing as well. They went on like that the whole time Corinna was gone, and then when she came back, Paris glanced over his violin at her when she spoke, and laughed delightedly. "Beautiful, ma petit, you look a masterpiece."
Frank was determined now, and kept changing the song something more complicated, darker, lighter, or even sad. He was changing it every ten minutes now, and was standing. "Yes, pretty," Frank replied and smirked. "Paris, you sure you can keep up?"
Corinna rolled her eyes. "Do you have any wine?" She asked, feeling she should live up to how she looked and drink wine like a proper lady at a party.
"Ah! Alas, I must admit defeat for now," Paris said, laughing a bit as he put up his violin and shaking his head. He went about unstringing the bow, and making sure everything was in it's proper place in the display case before turning to Corinna and grinning slightly as he made a rather formal looking bow, reaching out for her hand. Yes, he knew it was corny, but he sensed delight in the trappings, and desire to play it out somewhat - and besides, this was what he did best.
Corinna laughed and took his hand, letting him guide her.
Frank shook his head, and turned in his seat to watch them. "Should I play a waltz?" He asked and started plucking at the keys with his right hand, soon joined by his left as his foot tapped.
"If you like, my friend," Paris said, a hint of smugness to his tone as he lead Corinna towards another doorway. "Or if you prefer, you can always... come along."
Frank dropped the top of the cover down and stood up. He flexed his fingers, rubbing them as he walked towards them. They felt numb but he felt his heart pound inside his chest, excited at just being able to play again. And on such a grand piano. Frank stopped and looked back at it, the white waxed finish, the gold accents. It was definatly French, making him think of Louis XIV's court. He grinned and quickly covered ground to come up behind them. "Have you any...sisters?" Frank asked, half joking. "Single sisters?"
"Frank! That's rude!" Corinna shot back, looking behind her at him.
"One older half sister, who is already married, so no," Paris said, glancing back at Frank, even as he stopped in front of an open doorway. "It is quite fine, I am not offended. She is not such a big, aaah... connoisseur of music, though, so your interest in her would probably be less than for a music lover. My oldest brother is - sorry, half brother - is quite talented at piano, as well, and quite famous around London for the rare performances he gives nowadays."
Frank froze and then arched his eyebrows. "Do I know of him?" He then stepped foreward again. He felt himself being drawn more and more to Paris, an opposite reaction to hours earlier when Frank was ready to run away.
"Frank, thought you were already romantically involved," Corinna replied.
"Ended, just like everything else did." Longbottom replied in a mumble to her.
"He's divorced, too." Corinna told Paris.
"You're a hopeless romantic, Cor." Frank told her. "Always have, always will be. I am just hopeless. I'm giving up on women all together." He joked, but he didn't sound too joking.
"That must have been hard," Paris said quietly, leading them down another hallway now. "However, I would advise you to never give up on women or love altogether. You have far better chances of getting back on your feet and finding the love of your life than myself, anyway."
"Paris...have you.." Corinna started to say, looking at him with her wide green eyes.
Frank stopped in the hallway, staring out a large window. "Cor...maybe that's not something he wants to talk about." Frank said, trailing off. He saw the illuminated buildings of London, Big Ben, and the bridge not to far off in the distance. He followed the dotted lights, looking in the direction of his mother's house, his home. He looked back, only to see them further down the walkway.
"It is alright. What were you going to ask me, cherie?" Paris asked, stopping now outside a locked door.
"Have you been in love?" She asked him, and stood by him, but glanced back down there at Frank, who seemed to be staring out a window.
"Once," he said quietly, fishing another more old fashioned looking key out of his pocket and inserting it into the lock. "But I fell for the wrong woman. And I paid for it more dearly than you can imagine." Opening the door, he watched her with sad eyes now, and beckoned her in, then looked down the hallway towards Frank.
Corinna stared at him, and then a saddened expression crossed her face. She opened her mouth to say something, to ask, and she found herself staring at his pale hand, long fingernails. She then looked back at him, an almost odd sense of..familiarity come over her. "I'm..sorry" She said quietly.
Frank took in a deep breath and exhaled. He turned from the window. "Its getting late," he told them, his voice echoing off the wall. "Maybe I should...call the boys. Let them know I'm back, we're back. Safely." He started to walk towards them. "Then we can continue to celebrate?"
"There is a phone in here, feel free," Paris said, as he reached out to place a hand lightly on Corinna's shoulder, a small smile on his face to show her he was alright with everything.
Corinna stared at Paris, looking him over. "Are you..?" She asked and then stopped.
Frank walked over to where Paris pointed and icked up the guilded receiver. It was a Victorian style, witht he mouth piece mounted on the wall and Frank had to lean into it, jamming the ear piece to one ear with his hand. He heard an operator's voice, and he asked to be connected. In the far off distance, he heard the phone ring. He glanced back at Paris and Corinna briefly.
His eyebrows raised slightly, and then Paris' expression became slightly more serious as she hesitated. "Yes?" he prompted quietly.
Corinna felt slightly embarassed, so she leaned up on her tip toes, placed a hand on his shoulder, and whispered her question into his ear, regarding if he was a part vampire or not.
Frank leaned his forehead on th e mounted box, hearing the phone ring now six times. He counted.
The phone was answered by a tired sounding male voice - older, with a faint hint of a French accent. "Hello, Lupin household, may I help you?"
Frank's head shot up. "Yes. Hello...Bonjour!" Frank tried to sound happier than either he or the person on the other end sounded. "Is..Can I speak to Remus please?"
That came as only a bit of a surprise to Paris, and he pulled back to look at her appreciatively. "You are very perceptive, my dear," he said with a rueful smile. A sigh escaped him in the next second, and he said softly, "Unfortunately, no... No, I suffer from the full disease."
"May I ask who's speaking? He's finishing his dinner," the man said, sounding mildly curious now.
She stared at him, her jaw going slack. She raised a hand and placed it against the base of her neck, protectivly. "You aren't going to..to.."
Frank grinned slightly, forcing himself too. "Longbottom. Frank, sir. He went to France with me and Dearborn." He started twisting the cord in his fingers.
"No, no, absolutely not," Paris said, shaking his head. "I've learned to control it. You are perfectly safe."
She ducked her head down, and then looked back at him. "He was one," she told him, not saying who he was. "Only..I don't know..he said he isn't but."
"You are speaking of Severus, non?" At her reaction to that, he smiled and nodded, saying, "Yes... it's possibly confusing to explain, but I did feel a... a familiarity... the first time I saw him. He can never truly be fully human again, but the part of him that was poisoned with it before has been... neutralized, I think is the best way to put it."
Frank waited, pressing the earpiece more, trying to distinguish if he heard Remus in the background. "Could I..speak to him?"
"Yes, forgive the wait, he is coming to the phone now. Yes, Remus, Frank Longbottom - here." There was the sound of rustling and voices speaking for a moment, before Remus' voice came over the line. "Frank? Are you back? How did everything go??"
Corinna looked from him to the open door and back. "So it is...a disease and not welcome immortality." She stated. "What do oyu mean, not fully human? He can...hurt me again...or whoever he's with?"
Frank grinned. "Hi..Oh yes! Just a little while ago. Look, I got Corinna back too." He said, and then swallowed hard. He hadn't exactly given either men details, nor had they parted on extremly friendly terms.
"Well, there is much speculation as to the true nature of vampirism, whether it is in fact a disease, a medical or genetic condition of sorts, or some sort of transitional state to true immortality as some believe, but in my experiences over the last... eight years of dealing with it... I see it as a disease much like... consumption, or laryngitis, to name a few. Something contagious." Paris shook his head and added, "Don't get me wrong, some people choose it willingly, but not everyone. And no, please do not misunderstand me. He can never hurt you again the way you mean. I merely mean that he cannot be considered truly human after having lived as part vampire. The disease changes the biological structure in profound ways, and the change back, as he obviously found a way... it cannot be perfect." Paris frowned a bit to himself, thinking over what he'd just said, and then asked, "Does that make sense to you?"
She simply nodded her head. "Wine. I think I need wine." She said and stepped into the other room. She did look back at him. "If he did find a cure...as you said, then maybe he can help you?"
"I don't know if that's possible for someone who has died to be.. cured," he said quietly, now coming in behind her and walking over to a small wine rack. "Choose your favourite, ma petit."
"Really? I thought you.. hadn't found her yet, you were only there for an extra day," Remus said after a long moment, trying hard not to sound skeptical and wary about that.
Frank forced a laugh and then frowned. He turned so his back was to the open door. "Look, I found her at a student hostil. We...we were attacked." He kept his voice low and glanced over his shoulder a few times. "Two men, older. They...they tried to kill us, Remus." He whispered into the phone.
Corinna had no idea. She randomly pointed to a bottle. "Are you really..dead?" She asked him. "Was it a woman named Burke?"
"Burke?" Paris frowned as he took the bottle from it's compartment, and then shook his head. "The name.. no, it is not familiar to me. Why?"
"That's the name that...of the one who..did it to him." Corinna told him as she leaned her head against the wine holder frame. "She was a teacher, potions Professor, and she poisoned him somehow. I don't know what came of her."
"A hostel? You were attacked at a hostel?" Remus hissed, having to keep his voice low. "I thought there wasn't going to be that much risk! Do you know who they were, where they were from, why they attacked you? Anything? God, Frank, that's - that's serious stuff!"
Frank breathed hard into the phone. "They wore all white...and one..black hair..other..brown..And they had wands. They..she..threw a fireball at one. I saw..green hexes. Almost like the killing curse. We only escaped because the fire escape fell, and I apparated us to the hotel. Then Paris told us they were after her, and about the Object I told you about." Frank was rambling, hardly making any sense. The more he talked the more scared he sounded. "I almost went back after them. I could of died."
Paris nodded, and then said, "Perhaps someone else knows. Who knows, oui?" Pulling a wine cork from a small hidden space, Paris moved away to set down both that and the bottle on a small table, and then looked to Corinna. "Glasses, or non?" He seemed to have picked up on her penchant for drinking straight from the bottle, and was just giving her the choice.
"Well, I'm glad you didn't, sounds like they were probably worse than the... uh..." Remus' voice got even lower, almost as if he were huddling into the phone and near whispering at the same time. "The Death Eaters. But you two are okay? Where are you?"
Corinna laughed. "Non," she said and grabbed for the bottle.
Paris laughed at that, trying to ignore what he could hear of Frank's conversation.
"Maybe they WERE," Frank said, his brows furrowing. "I have learned of a great deal of information from a new source. Like always, I can't reveal who..but he's let us stay with him. In London. And we're fine. Fine. I need to speak to you and Caradoc immediatly. Do you know where he is?"
Corinna took a swing of the bottle and then handed it to him. "Its very sweet, i like it a lot."
"Oh, um.. he's actually.. supposed to be coming over in a bit - should be here any minute, actually," Remus said, sounding a bit odd, like he'd been put on the spot or something.
Frank arched his eyebrows. "Excellent, I'll come right away. Alone." He glanced over at the wine room.
"Yes, this is a particularly good wine, if I do say so myself," Paris said, finding it rather endearing, actually, that she was so enthusiastic about drinking. He only took a small pull of the wine, and then handed it back to her. "I should let you enjoy it. Too much wine right now will not be good for me."
"Wait, you're leaving Corinna alone?" Remus asked, eyes going wider at that.
Frank paused and stared at the phone box. "She's with someone. Its safe...." He then stopped himself and realized what an idiot he sounded like. "No you're right. Then...we shall meet some other time then?"
"Why, you can't get drunk can you?" She asked and took a few more sips fromt he large bottle.
"Not as fast, no, but I CAN get drunk," Paris said, settling down into a chair and leaning his chin against his hand in somewhat of a feminine seeming way. "That isn't even it, though. If I'm at my full strength, gotten the rest and nourishment I need, then there's nothing wrong with drinking a few glasses. But if my energy and nourishment levels are low, drinking too much will make me lose the self control I do have, and I don;t want to hurt a delightful person like you."
Corinna made a snort laugh, and then slapped a hand over her mouth to cover it. Her cheeks were pink partially from the wine, partly from. She leaned foreward slightly. "Do you really think I'm delightful?" She asked, grinning more. "I think I'm just obnoxious."
"All - uh, alright. Tomorrow? I don't have to help at the store tomorrow, if that works," Remus said, finding himself overall confused and trying to figure Frank out. He'd never really been this spacey.
Frank swallowed hard. "Sounds like a plan. Tommorrow." Frank quickly hung up, his knuckles white. He took a breath. He had ot be careful. He didn't want to tell them anything about Severus's involvement, or Paris. But Frank had to sort things out. He then picked up the handset and had the operator dial another number.
"You think badly of yourself, and that will only make other people think badly of you," Paris said, a surprised expression on his face at what she'd said. "Surely you know many people would find you beautiful?"
Corinna stopped making a funny face and then shyly grinned. "I've heard," she said and then put the bottle on the table. The green glass matched her eyes. "Its just been a long time since I...well he was in Paris briefly, but it wasn't for very long. Maybe I'm just lonely." She looked back at Paris and gave a small half grin.
Frank drummed his fingers on the wall. He listened to it ring.
"Bridget Jones speaking, goddess of everything Bridget." Came her voice, cheerful, ont he other end. This made Frank's head perk up. "Bridge!" He said into the phone.
"Frank!" Bridget exclaimed. "Are you still in Paris? One sec.." She put the phone on her shoulder and threw a bit of pizza crust at Severus, who had parked himself in front of her tele, playing with his cat. "Severus!" She hissed.
"What? I miss my kitty, let me alone!" Severus complained at her, ducking the crust she'd thrown.
Bridget rolled her eyes. She pulled the phone back up. "So how's the rain over there?" She joked, turning her back to the living room.
"No rain, we're back in London." Frank told her.
"Oh Lovely...was it you and the boys, right? Did you bring me anything?" She went about pouring herself some orange juice from the fridge.
"I'm sorry," Paris said quietly, reaching out to her and resting his hand over hers again. "No-one should have to feel lonely. I'm sorry that you do."
"No...look, the boys went back before me. I found her though. I found Blackwell. She's here, with me." Frank said, scratching his head.
Bridget froze, overfilling her cup and then let out a loud curse, moving her cup to the counter.
She moved her other hand to cover Paris's. "I bet you are." She said quietly, watching him. "Tell me you aren't."
"Bridget?" Severus pushed himself up, and scooped Joey up in his arms (who promptly protested and climbed up to half lay on one of his shoulders), appearing in the doorway to the kitchen a moment later. "You okay?"
Bridget stared at him, her mouth moving but nothing coming out. "Its...Its...Frank.."
Frank pressed his mouth to the mouth piece. "Hello? Bridget??"
"I never said I wasn't," Paris said, and shook his head slightly. "I never said I was. I don't tell people the truth about that, generally."
"Frank? From Paris? How is everything?" Severus asked, eyes widening as he stepped forward, reaching out with one hand. "Is it okay if I talk to him??"
Corinna tilted her head slightly and stared down at his hand, and lightly rubbed her thumb on top of iit with her other hand. "Because you'd think someone might want to change that?" She looked up at him, her eyes staring at him, but softly.
Bridget gave Severus a funny look. "Frank's in London." She then handed the phone out to him.
"Briiiiidgeeeeeet..." Frank groaned into the phone, and could be heard.
Paris just looked at her for a long moment, eyes fluttering half closed as if they wanted to close all the way at the unexpected feeling of a soft touch on his hand. "Perhaps because I'm afraid of doing to someone what was done to me," he corrected quietly, finally finding the will to speak it. "I couldn't bear the thought of hurting you in any way.. quite possibly the one thing that makes me different from the men I work with."
"Fraaaaaank," Severus mimicked, leaning against the counter and unable to quash the hopeful feeling that went through him at the fact that Frank was apparently home.
"You have self control," Corinna said quietly, now looking down at their joined hands and then back up at him, her eyelids partially closed as she watched him. She swallowed hard. "But that's very nice of you to be..concerned." She already knew in her head, or rather, convinced herself nothing would come of it, and once again she would be alone. She gave him a small reassuring grin and squeezed his hand with her top one gently. "If you ever change your mind..."
Frank's eyes opened. "Severus. I got her!" Frank said as fast as he could, his words running together. "ifoundherandbroughtherback to LONDON." Frank then back a huge heaving breath of air.
"Right ON," Severus said, heaving a big sigh of relief. "Are you guys okay?"
Frank made a confused sound and then stared at the earpiece for a moment. "Wait..Severus..did you not hear what I just said?" Frank scratched his head.
At that same moment, Bridget started talking to Severus, asking him.
"I fear that I wouldn't hold your true affections, ma cherie," Paris said quietly, giving her a half smile. "No-one can take that spot, no matter what. I've known this for years now, many encounters, all of them less meaningful simply because they are devoid of any real affection. I wouldn't want to do that to you."
'Maybe love isnt what Im looking for,' her thoughts came to her as she continued to grin and nod like she was understanding him. 'Its not. Just want to be held. To be kissed.' She moved her hand from his and took the bottle, bringing it up to take a long sip.
"Severus, I really think you should let me keep the cat," Bridget was saying to him at the sametime.
"What? Hang on Frank - Bridget, what?? No, I - Sorry, Frank, what was that?" Severus said, trying to talk to both of them at the same time.
Frank sighed. "I said I brought her back to London with me," Frank replied flatly, rubbing his hand over his eyes.
"Yeah, okay, that's awesome- Bridget, why do you want to keep my cat! I never get to see him as it is," Severus said to something else Bridget had said.
Frank forced a small grin. "Yeah...Hey..I have to go.." Frank said and hung up before they could say anything else. Frank moved away from the phone and back towards the window. He crossed his arms over his chest and stared out, thinking.
Bridget laughed at him. "Let me talk to Frank again," and tried to grab the phone.
"Ah... he just... hung up on me," Severus said in disbelief, staring down at the phone, then handed it to her anyway. "There you go. Come on Joey, let's go back and watch the telly."