sparsenicjade
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The note is on paper. Severus once told him about how Muggles would destroy whole forests for the stuff. Draco doesn't see why, it's not nearly as solid as parchment. Draco is afraid--has been, since Severus made him promise to deliver it--that it will rip, or float off, or catch fire. Something. Which is ridiculous, Draco is a wizard. Paper is no match for him.

The paper is eerily white, the color of no tree Draco has ever seen, that's for certain. It has the name Rupert written out in Severus' stately, purposeful scrawl.

Severus, when he was still breathing and whole and perfectly competent to deliver his own notes, said, "There's a task I may very well need you to perform for me."

Draco wants to feel bitter at Severus' manipulation of him, since he was clearly still in the throes of doing just about everything Severus asked at that time in repayment for a certain murder. He does feel it, a bit, but as long as he has the paper in his hands there is a part of Severus still with him. That notion is stronger than any lingering discontent.

Severus handed him the paper. "Keep this safe. There's a phone number that will reveal itself with an ostendo. You do know how to use a telephone, yes?"

Draco hadn't. Severus explained how to find one, and how to use it. "Set up a meeting place close to Diagon, and give the note to him."

The telephone is more complicated than Severus made it sound. Draco feels sick, giving his name to a faceless man through the miles and miles of wire that he can't even imagine, let alone see. Rupert, though, agrees to meet.

Rupert suggests the café, since Draco is not in the habit of going into Muggle London. There are some chairs and tables out front, and in one of them sits a middle-aged, dignified-looking sort of Muggle. He peers up from behind his glasses and then stands, holding his hand out. "Draco?"

Draco considers pawning the note off on him and running back to the safety of the familiar. Severus isn't alive anymore, though, and safety is relative. He shakes Rupert's hand, sliding the note between their palms. Rupert looks at it, his eyes a bit lost. Recovering himself he offers, "I've ordered tea. It comes with a crème brulee that's quite tempting, if you'd care to stay. . .?"

Although Draco can detect none of Severus' bite, this man's formality is comforting in its similarity. "I haven't taken tea yet."

Draco wants to ask, "How did you know him?" He wants to pry into what Severus had to say that was so bloody important. He wants to not talk about it, to never talk about it at all.

Sensing, perhaps, this last, Rupert unfolds the note. He scans it, his eyes slowly crinkling up, until he is laughing, his mouth joining in the fun, his chest shaking slightly. Draco frowns. Severus was not one to make people laugh, not even when he was actually present to attempt such a thing. Rupert looks up at Draco, over the note, and sees his consternation. His laughter peters out, but the look on his face only softens to one of fond remembrance. "Inside joke," he says, by way of a not-at-all satisfactory explanation.

When the tea comes, Draco takes the first bite of crème brulee out of a desire to be as lacking in etiquette as possible. Rupert is right, though, the taste of it is steeped in sweetness, drowning in rich cream, and it's nearly hard to stay upset. Finally, finally Draco breaks his silence to ask, "Was this. . .what the two of you did?"

"Severus preferred their raspberry sorbet," Rupert says.

Suddenly Draco regrets his actions of a moment before. This man across from him is grieving, just not in any way Draco recognizes. It might, Draco thinks, be deeper than anything he has ever witnessed. "This is. . .delicious."

Rupert tucks the note into his breast pocket. Draco can hear the crackle of flimsy paper. Rupert's, "yes," is only slightly louder.


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