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Chapter 2: Chapter 2
It had been 2 weeks since I returned to the Manor and I’d spent most of it shut in my room, reading. Draco was back for the summer, though I’d only seen him twice. Nothing had been said between us, that was nothing new. However I did notice Draco spending a lot of time in his room as if he was avoiding Lucius too.
Lying in bed one evening I wondered just what had happened while I was gone. All of a sudden a wild thought popped into my mind. ‘Where’s Dobby?’ Usually he was the one taking care of me, bringing me meals and checking in throughout the day. I hadn’t seen him once in two weeks, definitely something I should have noticed sooner. I got up gingerly, trying not to put weight on my left side. Yes, it still hurt after 2 weeks and copious amounts of pain reliever.
Heading downstairs, I decided to try the kitchen first. If Dobby wasn’t there I could at least find Narcissa or Milly and ask them. I hadn’t even gone half way when I spotted Draco sitting behind a pillar in the entrance hall. Before we could make eye contact he turned his head to look away. I could hear muffled voices in Lucius’ office. I went to sit behind another pillar, out of sight should Lucius open the door.
It didn’t take long to figure out who the conversation was about or who the people talking were. It was an argument between Lucius and Narcissa about me. I had no idea how long it had been going on.
“There aren’t any other options,” Narcissa said desperately.
“There wouldn’t need to be if she had shut her mouth and listened to Karkaroff.”
“I realize that Lucius, but now, no other school is willing to accept her. He might-“
“I refuse to ask that muggle loving fool for anything!”
Ah…so this was about Dumbledore too.
“I’m willing to take her myself.”
“Yes, because that worked out so well last time,” Lucius responded mockingly.
I cringed, Narcissa had been the one to charm the Headmaster into allowing me to attend Salem Institute.
“Lucius,” Narcissa tried again.
“I WILL NOT be in debt to Albus Dumbledore!”
“Then you’d need to hire a private tutor.”
“Oh yes, so I can waste a few hundred more galleons on her.”
“Something has to be done.”
“I will not have any Malfoy groveling at the feet of Dumbledore.”
“I do not grovel at anyone’s feet,” Narcissa retorted curtly. “She was born in England, her name has been down for Hogwarts for years. I hardly think pointing that out to Dumbledore leaves us in debt to him.”
“I’m not going to jump through hoops for him to allow this.”
“Neither will I, but I will need to meet with him.”
After a minute of silence Lucius responded. “If you must.”
I heard the door opening and pulled closer to the pillar so I wouldn’t be seen, Draco was doing the same. It was only Narcissa though. She spotted us after she’d walked a few steps away from the door and beckoned us both to follow her.
“Draco, send a letter to the Goyle’s inviting your friend over tomorrow. Crabbe also, if you wish.”
“Yes, mother,” he said before leaving.
I followed Narcissa into the library, she pulled out 2 pieces of parchment as she sat down. I leaned against the wall, avoiding my left arm which was starting to throb again. I needed another dose of pain reliever. After getting out some ink and a quill, Narcissa started writing.
“You should be ready to leave tomorrow,” she informed me without looking up.
“Shouldn’t we wait until he actually agrees to meet us?” I asked raising an eyebrow.
“I’m not giving him the option to say no,” she stated briskly.
“Part of your plan is forcing Dumbledore to meet with us?”
“Be ready to leave after lunch,” she said ignoring my question.
“Who’s the other letter for?” I asked. She had finished writing what I presumed was Dumbledore’s letter and had started another one. She ignored my question this time too.
“You can go now,” she said in a dismissive way.
If my arm hadn’t been hurting so much I probably would have stayed and asked more questions, especially about Dobby. Instead I left, drinking another vial of pain reliever before I went back to my room to lie down. I could always ask her tomorrow, without Lucius around she’d probably even give me an honest answer.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
When I woke up the next morning my first thought was a long stream of cuss words. My shoulder felt like it was on fire. I must have been sleeping on it during the night. I fumbled around with my nightstand, pulling out a drawer. Inside I found what I was looking for-a small bottle that was nearly empty. It was a bit difficult to opening with one hand but eventually I got it and swallowed everything left inside in 2 sips. The pain faded after a few minutes and I sighed. That was the strongest pain reliever I had and without any more supplies I wouldn’t be able to make more. Perhaps after our meeting with Dumbledore I could persuade Narcissa to take us to get more ingredients.
I was sitting at my desk reading and eating a sandwich when Milly entered to inform me to be ready in 15 minutes. Ugh, time to put on a happy face and be the perfect picture of politeness. Let’s be honest, I don’t have a problem with Dumbledore. In fact, he’s probably a decent guy considering how much Lucius hates him. It’s just the idea of being nice to someone, purely because you want something from them, was far too much like Lucius. I didn’t really have much of a choice though.
15 minutes later, Narcissa and I were walking towards the Manor gates. My shoulder was beginning to ache even though I’d taken one of the weaker potions not even an hour ago. When we were beyond the gates, Narcissa took my right arm and apparated us to a small village, Hogsmeade, I assumed.
My shoulder had a few spasms of pain as we started walking and I reached up to grab it. Narcissa noticed this and stopped to pull a vial out of her bag. She handed it to me after opening it. Internally I sighed, ‘am I really so helpless that she doesn’t think I can open a vial on my own?’
“You should set your pride aside for the afternoon,” she said, taking off down the main road. She’s either getting to know me too well or I’m that bad at hiding my reactions.
“It’s not pride,” I muttered drinking the potion and catching up to her.
“Your pride was the reason you didn’t get along with Karkaroff.”
“The fact that he was a greasy git who would sell out his own mother made me not get along with Karkaroff. How he ever became Headmaster is a mystery to me. Plus he’s just overly obnoxious.”
“You think everyone is obnoxious.”
“Not everyone, 30% at the most. Half the people I’ve met are just idiots.”
“And the other 20%?”
“A majority of those people are obnoxious idiots.”
“Of course they are.”
“Speaking of obnoxious idiots, why exactly is Uncle Lucy in a mood this summer?”
“Jade,” Narcissa warned me.
“Right, right, sorry. Why does kind and dear Uncle Lucius seem to have a bee in this bonnet this summer?” I asked in my sweetest voice. She pressed her lips together as though it was some secret she wasn’t allowed to share. “Draco already knows,” I pointed out.
“He was removed from the Board.” Narcissa said after a few minutes of silence.
“Removed from the Board? The School Board?”
“For…?” When she didn’t answer I tried a different approach. “Does this have anything to do with Dobby?” I asked, though I couldn’t see the connection. “I haven’t seen him since I’ve been home.”
“He no longer serves the family,” she stated briskly, as though the elf’s state didn’t matter to her. Which I reminded myself, it didn’t.
“What happened?” I asked instantly, dreading the response.
“He was removed.”
“Removed?” Was this some sort of crude code for dead? There was no way the Malfoys would have willingly freed him.
We were walking through the school grounds now. If I hadn’t been so worried about Dobby I would have appreciated my first look of Hogwarts more.
Narcissa must have sensed that something was wrong and opened her mouth to explain. “I’m not completely clear of the details. However, Dumbledore and Harry Potter are involved in Dobby’s freedom. Though I haven’t got any idea how. Or why for that matter.”
“He’s free?” I asked hoping it was true.
If anyone deserved freedom from Malfoy Manor it was Dobby. He had served them for as long as I could remember and was always being abused by Lucius. Though I would miss Dobby, he was the only elf who had been kind to me, I was glad he was free. Dumbledore and Potter had earned a bit of respect from me for managing to make it happen. Though I was still curious what had transpired here at Hogwarts last year that would cause Lucius to loose his position of school governor, I decided to put this curiosity aside and focus on my meeting with Dumbledore.
We were inside the school now, heading up different staircases and passing through several corridors until we came to a statue of a gargoyle. After standing there for several seconds Narcissa finally said “Cockroach Clusters” in a disapproving voice. I snorted even though the gargoyle had moved to reveal a spiral staircase heading up. “Be polite,” she reminded me sternly as we stepped on the stairs. “Or you’ll be headed to Uruguay this fall.”
“Uruguay? I hear the weather’s lovely this time of year. And the barbequed beef is amazing.” She glared at me and I relented. “I know, I know. Epitome of politeness. Got it.”
With a last glance at me she knocked on the door.
We walked into a circular room and I found myself surprised. I’d previously been in three different headmaster’s offices. The one thing they all had in common was books. Lots of books. Dumbledore however, seemed to only have a dozen or so, on a side bookcase. Most of the room was filled with different silver instruments. I recognized over half of them but had no clue about the others.
Dumbledore had risen as we entered. He looked exactly like his chocolate frog’s card photo. “Mrs. Malfoy,” he greeted, though I noticed he didn’t shake her hand. “This must be Miss Lestrange,” he said turning towards me. I nodded as Narcissa closed the door. I put more strength into my mental barriers, I didn’t need Dumbledore reading my mind.
“Thank you for meeting with us,” Narcissa began.
“Your letter sounded rather urgent, but please, have a seat,” he gestured to the chairs in front of his desk. “Tea? Biscuits?”
I wasn’t sure if he genuinely offering or just being polite. I shook my head as Narcissa answered with a polite “No thank you.”
“Continue on then.”
“I wished to speak to you about a transfer student,” Narcissa told him.
“Miss Lestrange, I presume?”
“Yes, her name has been down for Hogwarts since she was born. She even received a letter before her first year even though my husband decided to send her to Durmstrang.” She continued delicately, “I realize it is not usual for Hogwarts to accept transfer students, hence why we are here in person to persuade you.”
Dumbledore looked thoughtful as he folded his hands on his desk. He said nothing for a few moments, and then began.
“I feel you are here less for the academics and more so because of the lack of options for Miss Lestrange.” I wasn’t sure how he could have figured out my problem in less than a day.
“That certainly does play a big factor.” I had to hand it to Narcissa, she had a gift for getting people to see her side of things. To charm them into agreeing with her ideas, but Dumbledore wasn’t your regular wizard. I was sure it was going to take more than this to convince him.
“Three schools in two years is quite a record, Miss Lestrange. Why should I allow you into Hogwarts?” he asked, turning his attention to me.
“I under stand your hesitation, sir. I’m sure if I was in your place I would be doubtful about allowing me to enter. All I can do is tell you that I understand my mistakes from the past. I don’t plan on repeating them, sir. If you allowed me to attend, I would of course, follow the stricter rules you would place on me. I would like the chance to prove that I can be a responsible student, but I would understand if you still saw fit to refuse me. Even though I’d appreciate the chance to prove myself to not only you, but the other teachers, as well as my aunt and uncle, if you believe the reputation of this school would falter with me attending, I would accept your decision, sir.”
Dumbledore nodded as I finished my impromptu speech. Well, maybe not impromptu, it was nearly the same speech I’d given at Salem a year ago.
“You have been raised by your uncle to say the right things when you need to.” I opened my mouth to disagree, but he cut me off with a raised hand. “I am not the first headmaster to hear this speech, but I intend to be the last. I will give you the chance to attend Hogwarts, however you will be held to a higher standard. I expect you to follow the rules and will not tolerate any attempt to undermine authority. If you agree with these terms we can set up another meeting to test if you reach the academic standards of a third year student.”
A part of me understood the reason behind this. I would be watched carefully and if I didn’t meet his standards I would be sent home. Somewhere in the back of my head though, was a sarcastic remark, waiting for be voiced. I wanted to test the boundaries, see just how far I could push Dumbledore. I shut that part out immediately. I need to follow his conditions, there weren’t a lot, if any, other options out there. I needed to be accepted to Hogwarts. ‘Is there really anything that you will learn here that you couldn’t teach yourself in half the time?’
Narcissa speaking interrupted my internal debate. “That seems more than acceptable Headmaster, thank you.”
Of course it was, I thought instantly. What had I been thinking before? Here Dumbledore was giving me a chance to attend Hogwarts. I had dreamed of coming here before. Wanting nothing more than to be able to escape Malfoy Manor and be sent to Hogwarts. ‘Dreams change,’ a nagging part of my mind said. I would be here with Draco, would I be able to see him everyday and keep my composure? What about-
It felt like a lump of ice had just formed in my body. Guilt mixed with nervousness, fear, and quite a bit of shame.
“He needs to know,” I said quietly. Dumbledore and Narcissa both turned to me as I repeated myself. “He needs to know.”
“Who?” asked Dumbledore curiously.
“Neville Longbottom. He deserves to know.” I felt guilty, not once had I thought about him. He should have been my first concern, not whether I could abide by Dumbledore’s rules.
Dumbledore was now looking at me thoughtfully, as if he was seeing me in a whole new light. “I was not aware that you knew of Mr. Longbottom,” he stated.
‘Not aware?’ How could I not know about the family my parents ripped apart? Something clicked a moment later and I understood. Dumbledore had expected me to be a spoiled pureblood, someone who felt entitled to everything and ignorant of the past.
“I…looked them up,” I finally said. “My grandmother…she mentioned them before, my parents, not the Longbottoms. I looked them up and found out why they were sent to Azkaban.” It wasn’t a complete lie, but it was the most I could say without causing suspicion.
“I see,” Dumbledore said, slightly frowning. “Do you have much contact with Ethel Lestrange?”
“No,” Narcissa cut in. “There were times when Jade was younger that Ethel wished to see her, but we haven’t seen her in 2 years.” Probably better not to mention that Howler Lucius got when he tried getting money out of her.
Dumbledore nodded, understanding. “If you pass the academic test I will inform Mr. Longbottom of your impending arrival. I feel you should know that he keeps the knowledge of his parents to himself, I would appreciate it if you would do the same.”
“Of course,” I agreed. I had no desire for people to know what kind of wizards my parents were.
“Our next meeting will be in one week. If you could bring your wand, I will clear it with the Underage Use of Magic Department. I assume young Mr. Malfoy has all of the books that will be necessary for you to know.”
I nodded as I stood up even though I knew I wouldn’t need any of Draco’s books.
“Thank you, Headmaster,” Narcissa said as she rose as well.
“Mrs. Malfoy, Miss Lestrange,” Dumbledore said as a farewell.
As we headed out of the Hogwarts gates I reached up to rub my left shoulder. Remembering what I needed to get I opened my mouth to ask about it, but Narcissa had already grabbed my right arm and apparated us away.