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Chapter 18: Chapter 18
Thank you Severus Snape for teaching me patience because honestly, my first thought was to pull out my wand. Reason set in thankfully, pulling my wand out would definitely not be taken well. I needed to wait, to play this carefully. Yeah, we’ll see how long that last.
“Miss Lestrange,” Dumbledore greeted in a solemn voice. He looked tired, like he hadn’t slept much, which considering the circumstances, was probably true. “Would you please have a seat.” I sat down in the chair he gestured to. McGonagall took a seat beside me, she didn’t appear pleased about the situation. “I should introduce our other guests. I’m certain you recognize Minister Fudge. Rufus Scrimgeour, head of the Auror Department. And Auror – "
“Auror Shacklebolt, I remember him,” I said, cutting off Dumbledore. Shacklebolt was sitting, notebook in hand. The Minister was also seated. Scrimgeour however, was leaning against the fireplace mantel, watching my every move.
“Yes, well Miss Lestrange, you will understand that we’d like to ask you a few questions. Considering the circumstances,” the Minister said, glancing between me and Dumbledore.
The circumstances being that my parents are Death Eaters, making me the perfect scapegoat because you’d never admit that maybe, just maybe the Dementors aren’t as competent as you tell the press they are. I had a very good idea where this conversation was going. I needed the upper hand, how though, that would take a bit. I was willing to patient…sort of.
“You can’t,” I replied in a bored voice.
“Excuse me?” Fudge seemed confused. How did he ever end up as Minister?
“I’m under seventeen. There are no parents and or guardians present, so no, you can not officially question me.”
“Yes, Shacklebolt mentioned you had…extensive Ministry regulation knowledge. I can see that includes Ministry laws also,” Scrimgeour said in a calculating voice. I disliked him immediately. This conversation slipped into a game, one I wouldn’t let the old Auror win.
“Are you requesting a guardian Miss Lestrange?” Dumbledore asked. I didn’t know which side Dumbledore was on, maybe he was just here to referee. McGonagall didn’t seem to be taking sides either. Three Ministry employees versus me? I could handle that, Lucius would only get in the way. So no, I did not want him here.
“I haven’t done anything wrong and I have nothing to hide.” Ok that was a lie. “So unofficially you’re more than welcome to ask away.” Fudge sent a small nod to Scrimgeour, now I knew my main adversary.
“How do you feel about your mother?”
“What?” How did that relate to me allegedly conspiring with Sirius Black?
“How do you feel about her? Would you like to see her again? Do you miss her?”
“I don’t know her. How can I miss her?” Seriously, I’d spent basically zero time with my mother. She wasn't the maternal sort. Most of what I knew about her was from my father's memories.
“Do you wish she was free?”
“She’s a lunatic who tortured people into insanity –"
“She’s still your mother. She gave birth to you, that creates a rather strong bond. Wanting to be with her, it seems natural. Most people would understand that.”
Did he really want to play it like this? It’s awfully amateur.
“There’s no motherly bond there. No lingering fantasies of a happy life with a caring mother because she doesn’t exist. Bellatrix Lestrange is a psychopath who will do anything and everything to get what she wants. She’s exactly where she belongs, where she deserves to be.”
“What would you do if she escaped?”
“What would I do as me or what would I do as you?”
Scrimgeour looked a bit surprised with that answer. “What would you do as yourself?”
“Me? Nothing. It’s not my job to keep criminals locked away, I’m fourteen. I’d be more worried about your efficiency at keeping people in prison.”
Scrimgeour was frowning now and watching me with narrowed eyes. “And if you were me. What would you do?” he asked next.
“Not let another Death Eater escape? Seems like a good place to start,” I responded a bit sarcastically.
“What about your father?”
“What about him?
“Feel the same way about him as you do your mother?”
“You didn’t ask about him when Auror Shacklebolt questioned you during the summer.”
“I’ve already explained that to Auror Shacklebolt. If you want to know, read his notes.”
“I want to hear it from you.”
I really wanted to roll my eyes at him. Annoying Ministry stooges trying to pass the blame. In my most bored voice I reiterated the summer conversation I’d had with Shacklebolt.
“My mother has more reason to come to the Malfoy Manor, my father doesn’t. He’d go elsewhere. The Lestrange Estate most likely. To which Auror Shacklebolt said, ‘You think Madame Lestrange would help him?’ Without a doubt, she’s a bit, you know, touched in the head. She’d probably throw a feast welcoming her precious son home. ‘A bit obvious place to go, isn’t it?’ I’m sure all those years in Azkaban muddled his brain. I don’t really know. I just can’t see any reason for him to come here.”
Scrimgeour looked pleased. Something about that small glint in his eye worried me.
“You’ve attended four different schools, correct?”
“Yes,” I answered unsure of where he was going with this.
“Expelled from three of them?”
“Yes,” I answered bitterly, refusing to break the eye contact between us.
“Why Hogwarts now?”
“There weren’t a lot of choices left.”
“You managed to get into Gryffindor house.”
“I was sorted into Gryffindor house.”
“Remarkable feat after the long line of Slytherins in your family. From your mother’s and father’s side.”
“Well every family needs its social outcast.”
“Your grandmother disowned you. Did that upset you?”
“No, she’s a nutter. I don’t care what she does.”
“Have you made many friends here?”
“I prefer solitude.”
“I don’t think that’s any of your business.”
“Do you want back in your family? To be accepted?”
“As I said, I don’t care what my grandmother does or thinks.”
“Maybe helping Sirius Black would change her opinion of you. Make her feel like you were worthy of the Lestrange name. Maybe if you help Black, he agrees to help you. If he can break out of Azkaban surely he can help your parents. You’d be considered a hero to them, no matter what Hogwarts house you were in. You already know enough Dark Magic to make them proud, you showed that at Salem. You have destructive streak, you showed that at Beauxbatons. You hate authority figures, you showed that at Durmstrang. You didn’t know Black would break out of Azkaban the year you started at Hogwarts, but it benefited you. He’s the means to your goal. Just as you’re the means to his end game.”
“Stop,” I said firmly.
“Why? Do you not like –"
“You’re embarrassing yourself. It’s depressing to watch. Anyone can pick and choose what evidence supports your theory. You want me to be this person, you’ll blindly ignore anything that goes against your view of me. Maybe the reason Sirius Black keeps escaping is because of your incompetence rather than some farfetched idea of me helping him.”
“You are the only one who benefits.”
“From what? Black has nothing I want. There’s no happily ever after, no fantasy of love and praise from my parents. I’m not a naive little girl waiting for mommy and daddy to swoop in and take me away.”
“I never believed for an instant there was anything naive about you. You know the procedures and regulations of the Ministry. You know the laws and you even know the exact spell to fight the Dementors back. Most of the wizarding population doesn’t fully understand one of those things, let alone all three. The fact that you can recite the same speech, nearly verbatim, about your father tells me one thing. You’ve practiced it over and over. Any time you’re questioned about it, you’ll always have that answer, a shield that protects you from suspicion. You’ve slipped up though, three times. Durmstrang, Beauxbatons, and Salem. The shield came down and when they saw a true glimpse of you, they removed you from their school.”
This was the most absolute, ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard. And may I remind you, I’m a Lestrange who lived with the Malfoys nearly all my life. I’m used to hearing some crazy things. How anyone could string this together…well I guess it wasn’t unheard of…IF I WAS A COMPLETE NUTCASE. Unfortunately for Auror Scrimgeour I was not this delusional. Now, how do I gain the upper hand? Snape wasn’t going to like it, but you know what. The hell with it. Let’s go for something unconventional.
“Third cubicle from Moody’s door, right side.”
“Twelve years ago, that’s where you sat. Third cubicle from Alastor Moody’s door, right side. Do you still have that photo of your wife and son at Paris? What about the one with your son at Platform 9 ¾?” Oh look, I managed to surprise Scrimgeour into silence. Too bad I didn’t have anything for the Minister, I did have something for Shacklebolt though. “Shacklebolt, fifth cubicle, left side,” I said shifting my attention to him. “It was raining that day, not a lot but your robes were damp. You were the third Auror to enter the Lestrange house, but the first to find me. I was hiding under the piano in the formal living room. You crouched down, held out your left hand because you had your wand in your right and told me that I could come out. That I didn’t have to be afraid anymore because you were the good guys. I asked about ‘mum and da,’ you told me they were gone and I said thank you.”
“How do you remember that?” Shacklebolt asked, sounding stunned.
“It’s the same reason I know every Ministry procedure, regulation and law. Why I can remember and repeat what I said months ago, verbatim. Every spell, jinx and charm, including the Patronus Charm. It’s also why seeing you at Malfoy Manor made me stop in my tracks, because I knew you were an Auror. And Aurors don’t just stop by to make small talk over tea.”
“You have a photographic memory,” Dumbledore said, sounding like he’d just figured out the last piece to a puzzle.
“Every memory since I was two.” I turned back to Scrimgeour now. “Your whole theory is based on me wanting my parents back, wanting their approval. Do you think I want the people who cast a Cruciatus Curse on me so I would stop crying back? Do you think I ever want to see them again? I saw the Prophet the next day, I still remember what Frank and Alice Longbottom looked like before my parents were through with them. Do you? You think it doesn’t occur to me everyday that if it wasn’t for my parents they would still be a happy family? I don’t want Bellatrix or Rodolphus Lestrange back, I hope they die in Azkaban. That’s what they deserve, along with every other Death Eater, including Sirius Black. And until then I hope they have to relive every bad memory just like I do.”
I kept telling myself I was only saying these things because I needed to. They were half truths, because surely I wasn’t as damaged as I sounded. I’d done the same thing with Lupin, hadn’t I? It was part of some diabolical plan, right? It didn’t matter what I said as long as I got through Hogwarts. I did this to keep the wolves at bay. Keeping the connection safe, protecting Snape, that’s what truly mattered. The knowledge of my photographic memory was a bone for them to chew on. I made myself look helpless and broken so I could slip away. No body suspects anything if I play my role correctly. Manipulation at it’s finest. Even Lucius Malfoy would be proud. And they made it so easy, only weak and feeble minded people are manipulated this easy. Seizing power was easy this way, and I could have so much power. I only needed to break free. Freedom from emotion – then I could have it all. All –
“Miss Lestrange?” Dumbledore’s voice was like being thrown in freezing water.
“Sorry. I haven’t slept yet, or eaten today come to think of it.” I need Snape. Now.
“Understandable. I believe you are finished here. Would you like Professor McGonagall to escort you to the Great Hall?”
“I’d prefer to go alone. I guess finding solitude won’t be a problem after tomorrow. Everyone’s going to know the Ministry thinks I’m helping Sirius Black. Thanks for that,” I said sarcastically as I stood up and faced Scrimgeour. “Friends are overrated anyways, right?”
Leaving Dumbledore’s office, feelings of claustrophobia and fear started setting in, making it hard to walk. I was glad that nearly the whole school was eating dinner. It would have been difficult to explain why I was stumbling around the corridors.
I’m not sure how I made it down to the dungeons. I was sliding down the steps by the end. I just knew I couldn’t risk anyone else finding me and taking me to the Hospital Wing. Near Snape’s office I slid to the floor, desperately sending out a mental call for help.
My eyes closed and I fell half asleep. It only felt like a few seconds had passed before I was being pulled to my feet. Alarmed, I tried to fight the person off.
“Stop,” a firm voice commanded. “It’s me.”
I looked up. It was in fact Severus Snape. He looked extremely worried. I should have said something, explained how I felt, what happened in Dumbledore’s office, anything that would help him understand. I could only manage two words though.
A/N: Huh, fear and feeling closed in. I wonder who’s feeling that right after Sirius broke into Gryffindor tower. Also 3 more chapters, I’m very excited to start posting the 2nd story. Karkaroff, Moody, more good times with the Weasleys. Look for the first chapter within a few days.