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Chapter 6: Chapter 6
I expected Snape the next day so I wasn’t surprised by the knock on my bedroom door that afternoon. However I was surprised to find Dumbledore and not Snape on the other side. I hadn’t slept, my mind was even busier now that I was worrying about Draco and Narcissa, and I wasn’t exactly feeling patient at the moment. I don’t think telling Dumbledore to bugger off and come back at a better time would go over too well though. Plus he’d probably become worried and drag Snape here to speak to me. Better to just get this over with.
“Miss Lestrange,” Dumbledore greeted.
“Professor Dumbledore,” I replied, moving aside so he could enter. “You can have a seat on the chair if you want,” I offered, closing the door. “Sorry it’s not as plush as your office chairs.”
“I must admit it is rather odd being the one offered a seat. It seems of late that I have been the one welcoming others,” Dumbledore said pleasantly as he sat down.
“Maybe you need to get out more,” I suggested, sitting down on the bed. “Or maybe not,” I added in an undertone when Dumbledore picked up the copy of the Daily Prophet I’d been reading earlier. It was open to a story about Dumbledore being demoted from Chief Warlock on the Wizengamot for his speech about the Dark Lord returning.
“Journalists always have a unique way with words,” he commented as though we were talking about something as trivial as the weather. “‘Doubtful he can even remember where he left his wand in the morning,’ that is a new one.”
“You should save it, frame it even, and ask them about it after they wise up and realize Fudge is an idiot.” Dumbledore looked up at me, amused by my suggestion.
“I can see now why you and Severus get along so well.”
“Because we’re both sarcastic, grudge holding jerks?”
“Perhaps I would not phrase it that particular way.”
“That’s because you’re too nice. Personally I would have stunned then hauled all the free Death Eaters into the Ministry and forced them to chug a liter of Veritaserum so they would tell the Wizengamot everything. That’s just me though.”
Dumbledore considered this before speaking. “I do not believe Severus would have approved of the misuse of his stock.”
“Good point,” I conceded. “He is very picky about those sorts of things.”
“Severus and I had a rather interesting discussion the other day.” Let me guess, Shacklebolt?
“Really? I find I have rather interesting discussions every time I talk to him. I assume you were hinting at Shacklebolt.”
“I was surprised you suggested him.”
“Why? He’s competent, doesn’t blindly follow Fudge, and is an asset to the Order. He’s probably your best asset at the Ministry since everyone knows Mr. Weasley is loyal to you.”
“There are other reasons you suggested him besides his importance to the Order,” Dumbledore said, intently watching me over his half moon glasses.
“The Death Eaters don’t have anything to gain by Shacklebolt joining the Order.”
“I was not speaking about the Death Eaters.” Something about Dumbledore’s knowing look sent a spark of annoyance through me.
“I don’t have anything to gain either.”
“No,” I replied stubbornly.
Dumbledore observed me for a minute before speaking again. “You should ask him.”
“Ask him what?”
“That is something only you can know the answer to.”
“You ever get bored of the wise old wizard routine?” I asked with an edge in my voice.
Looking slightly perturbed, Dumbledore didn’t respond right away. “Should I fetch Severus?” he finally asked.
“I don’t need Snape for everything,” I snapped back.
“I do realize that,” Dumbledore said calmly. “However you have been rubbing your shoulder for several minutes now.” I immediately lowered my right hand.
“It’s a habit,” I muttered, choosing to stare into my lap instead of at Dumbledore.
“If you’re in pain –”
“I’m not,” I said firmly.
“Not all pain is physical.” I gave Dumbledore a hardened glare.
“You and Snape both think I’m some ticking time bomb. Maybe you should focus on the person who actually is just waiting for the right minute to explode – Potter. He watched someone die last month, he watched the Dark Lord return. That’s not something you get over after a couple weeks. And now he’s become the punch line for the Daily Prophet, how do you think he’s going to react to that? How do you think he’s going to feel when he learns you’ve left him in the dark about what’s going on, not to mention the people you’ve got tailing him twenty-four hours a day. What exactly do you plan to gain by having Potter think you don’t trust him?”
“I trust Harry –”
“Really? I must have missed that part while you were deliberately telling his best friends not to tell him anything,” I said sarcastically.
“I don’t expect you to fully understand my choices, but I assure you I am working with Harry’s best interests –”
“‘Best interests?’ All you adults are the same. You think children have to be sheltered, protected from the evils of the world. Not everybody is some fragile piece of glass waiting to shatter at a moment’s notice.”
Dumbledore surveyed me critically without speaking. The silence made me realize just how quickly and badly I’d become annoyed with the Headmaster. Maybe I did need Snape but my pride wouldn’t let me admit that out loud.
“Perhaps it would be best if I left you to your thoughts,” Dumbledore said, standing up. “I trust you are steadily working on Minister Obolensky’s project. I loaned several books to Severus that should be of assistance to you.” Considering a couple of those books were sitting on my desk, Dumbledore didn’t feel the need to wait for an answer before heading to the door. He paused before turning the handle. “You should speak with Shacklebolt. It would benefit you both.”
After Dumbledore left I felt agitated and started pacing. I couldn’t stop the anger and annoyance flowing through me. Less than twenty minutes, that’s how long it took for me to go from fine (albeit tired) to this. All because of bloody Dumbledore. In a burst of frustration I kicked the chair Dumbledore had been sitting on, sending it flying onto the floor several feet away.
I started rummaging through my trunk, making a mess. I could clean that later, right now I was focused on finding one thing – an unbreakable glass bottle filled with Dreamless Sleeping Potion. Something from Snape who told me to use it only when I really needed it since the last thing I wanted was to get addicted. Right now though, that bottle was looking pretty nice. I didn’t want to feel angry, sleeping was a much better alternative.
I sat down on my bed and removed the stopper. Three very large mouthfuls later my vision started fading. I didn’t like how relaxed my body was becoming, it felt very unnatural, but at least the anger was ebbing away.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
I was slowly coming around. My eyes weren’t open yet but I could tell I was in bed, lying down properly with blankets covering me. I could also smell food. My stomach growled and I started to move when a voice broke through.
I turned on my side and opened my sleep filled eyes. “How long have you been here?” Snape sat down the book he was reading and turned towards me.
“Only a few hours.”
“Don’t you have anything better to do than watch teenage girls sleep?” I asked, rubbing my eyes.
“Actually I was becoming quite intrigued by your book.” He must have noticed my confused expression because he held up the book he’d been reading and showed me the cover. It was the teaching tips one.
“Aren’t you supposed to read that before you become a teacher?”
“I may have skipped over it.”
“You don’t say,” I muttered, sitting up. “Is that for me?” I asked, spotting a platter of food on my desk. Snape stood and retrieved it for me. It was full of food – bacon, eggs, sausages, muffins, toast, a bowl of oatmeal and half a dozen pancakes.
“Not exactly house elf service but I’m sure you’ll manage,” Snape said as he sat back down. Personally I thought it tasted great or maybe I was just that hungry.
“She may be overbearing and meddling, but she does make a good meal,” I remarked in between mouthfuls. Snape gave me a look of contempt. “Want a muffin?” I asked a bit cheekily.
“No,” he responded, sounding revolted.
“When’s the last time you had a nice home cooked meal?”
“Last night. When I made myself dinner.”
“I don’t think a cold can of tomatoes count.” Snape raised an eyebrow at me. “That’s what I imagine you eating during the summer when you’re not at Hogwarts.”
“Not even remotely close.”
“I make a rather impressive braised lamb.”
“Really?” I asked laughing.
“No,” Snape answered sharply, glaring at me. “Did you drink this?” he questioned, holding up the bottle of Dreamless Sleeping Potion.
“After Dumbledore left?”
“Are you asking or telling me?”
“After Dumbledore left,” I repeated firmly while rolling my eyes.
“At four in the afternoon?”
“Is that what time Dumbledore left?”
“How much did you tell me to take?”
“Snape.” He gave me a very dark look. “A couple sips.”
“Define a couple and a sip”
“You know, Dumbledore and I were just talking about this. You’re very…fussy when it comes to your potions.”
“Really? Just talking about it, were you?” There was something about his tone that confused me.
“Dumbledore was here two days ago. Actually a little over two and a half days ago.” I froze. Two and a half days? “It took considerable effort to convince everyone that you were not trying to harm yourself after a fight with Dumbledore and were in fact, just unimaginably foolish.”
“Two and a half days?” How the heck does a sleeping potion knock you out for that long?!
“Your knight in shining armor took it particularly unwell.”
“Do you have another waiting in the wings?”
“What happened to Fred?” I asked, instantly worried.
“Unsurprisingly, walking in here and finding you seemingly not breathing tends to go over badly. Add an open potion bottle beside your body and you can see where this is going. It took Lupin and Black, along with two of his brothers to pry him away from your body so I could examine you. After he regains consciousness you should work on reminding him that you are fond of living, despite your actions. Considering your attitude when you awoke, I’m assuming that you were not trying to injure yourself, no matter how angry Dumbledore made you.”
I was feeling guilty and very confused now, yet one part of Snape’s words jumped out at me. “Regains consciousness?”
“Yes,” Snape answered, looking miffed that this was the part I questioned first. “He was looking dreadful and hadn’t slept for two days. His parents approved of slipping him something to bring an end to his unnecessary guarding.”
“You drugged him?!”
“I hardly think I’m responsible for what people use my potions for. Especially when I tell them one small sip will suffice,” he said, pointedly glaring at me.
“Well I didn’t think it would matter if I –”
“Didn’t think it would matter?” Snape held up the potion bottle again. “Does this look like an ordinary Dreamless Sleeping Potion to you?”
“It’s. Not. Purple.”
“Are you kidding me? It absolutely looks purple –”
“It’s lavender,” Snape growled.
“Those are the same –”
“No, they are not,” he snapped, cutting me off. “I told you one small sip and you go and down half the bottle then wonder why I’m constantly worried about you.”
“I didn’t think you were going to try and poison me,” I muttered bitterly.
“There wouldn’t have been an issue if you would have listened.” I shot him a glare but kept eating. We were quiet for a few minutes until, “What’s at Nettilling Lake?”
“Nettilling Lake. You were muttering in your sleep. I couldn’t understand most of it but you kept saying Nettilling Lake.”
“I don’t even know where that is.” Snape stared at me, like he was trying to figure out if I was lying.
“It’s in Canada,” he said at last. “Near Greenland.”
“Never heard of it. What’s there?”
“Snow and ice.”
“Well that’s really useful,” I mumbled sarcastically. “I don’t remember dreaming about it.”
“Dreamless Sleeping Potion. You’re not supposed to be having any dreams.”
“Then you explain it.”
“You’re the one dreaming, you tell me.”
I rubbed my head trying to think back. Had I ever come across Nettilling Lake before? Maybe it was only mentioned once in a sentence I’d read years ago. “Anything even slightly interesting there?”
“I don’t think you understand what interesting means.”
“As far as I can tell, there is nothing interesting there. There’s barely twelve thousand people on the entire island. Certainly nothing I could find that would draw your attention.”
I picked up on the way he said ‘your’ and guessed his reason for bringing it up at all. “What about a Death Eater’s attention?”
“I considered the idea of Karkaroff heading there.”
“Wouldn’t he be better off in a populated city? He’d blend into the crowd.”
“That would be an option. Not the one I believe he would choose however.”
“Yeah, isolate yourself until you’re surrounded,” I scoffed. “Great plan that is.”
“Feeling compassion for him?”
“You think he deserves to be killed?”
“Yes,” I answered, remembering what Karkaroff had done, what he’d paid to have done.
“No sympathy for those who blackmail you, I see.” So that’s where he was going with this.
“Some people don’t deserve sympathy.”
“I remember you telling me Viktor Krum and irreconcilable differences were the reason for your dismissal.”
“Which is essentially true.”
“Blackmail is something entirely different.” I let out a sigh. “Does he know?”
“Do not take this lightly. If he knows and the Dark Lord finds him, Karkaroff is a cockroach with an uncanny ability to survive, he will tell the Dark Lord to save himself.”
“He doesn’t –”
“Do not underestimate him either. He didn’t get this far by being a bumbling idiot.”
“Even if he had the slightest inkling about something being off, there is no way he would trace it back to you.”
“Karkaroff? No. The Dark Lord would though. I need to know, have we been compromised?”
“No,” I answered firmly even as my mind drifted to Dimitri. He wouldn’t tell, I was sure he never would but I doubt Snape would have taken my word for it.
“We should discuss Dumbledore.” I let out a low growl. “Still annoyed with him?”
“He’s so…” Weak. “I don’t approve of how he’s handling things.”
“Which things in particular?”
I let out another sigh as I crossed my legs and leaned back against the wall. “Everything?”
“I’m not sure you realize everything he’s doing.”
“He’s working with the misfits, oddballs, loners, and outcasts of the wizarding society, meeting in secret every few nights and having Potter tailed. If this is the best he’s got I’m not exactly sensing a favorable outcome.”
“That’s not all he’s doing –”
“He could have had the Minister on his side.”
“Fudge is an idiot, you know that.”
“Why not show him Potter’s memory? Surely Dumbledore’s got access to a Pensieve. You’re telling me not once did the idea of showing Fudge that the Dark Lord was back come to mind?”
“You are not the first person to suggest that –”
“Then why not? This just plays perfectly into the Dark Lord’s plans.”
“There is something Dumbledore does not want the Minister or public at large to know –”
“Anyways, it has already been too long for Fudge to accept a memory of it. He would simply claim Dumbledore and Potter concocted it.”
“He should be doing more. Most of us are just cleaning a house for Merlin’s sake.”
“What precisely do you think you should be doing?”
“Learning how to fight –”
“You’re not even of age –”
“I bet I could beat over half those blokes in the Order. You’ve got the Weasleys, Hermione, and Potter. That’s not even counting others at Hogwarts who are smart enough to know the Dark Lord is back. We should be doing something, anything more useful than this, but we’re not.”
“You want to train children to fight Death Eaters?”
“Don’t say it like that. I’m not talking about some dewy eyed first year.”
“No one would ever approve of their child –”
“Approve? A Death Eater isn’t going to ask for approval to kill someone underage. They’re not going to wait until you have a permission slip signed before attacking you.”
“We’re not anywhere near that point –”
“That’s exactly why Dumbledore should be starting now. He should be –”
“Building an army?”
“You realize that’s what Fudge believes is already happening?”
“So? It’s not illegal. You and I both know that’s what the Dark Lord is doing. Dumbledore should be –”
“Dumbledore is recruiting overseas.”
“I understand that you feel…under utilized here. At the present time it is necessary. I’m certain the Weasleys, Granger, and Potter will find a way to assert themselves into a fight. And I’m even more certain that you will, despite any warning I give you. But for now, this is what you need to do.”
I let out an annoyed huff. “I hate it when you’re being so reasonable.”
“Oh I know,” he mocked.
“I still don’t approve.”
“I’ll be sure to pass the message along.” I’m betting it was taking all of Snape’s will power not to roll his eyes at me. “As reluctant as I am to anger you –”
“I’m not angry.”
“As reluctant as I am to annoy you, I feel obligated to ask about Shacklebolt.”
“How are you not bored of that yet?”
“It is my responsibility not to become bored of these things.”
“Such a worrywart.”
“It’s pure selfishness,” I confessed. I could see now that Snape was never going to lay off unless I told him. It had already been going on for far too long. I didn’t have to give him all the details, but I could tell him this. “I am selfishly trying to figure something out about Shacklebolt.”
“Whether he’s guilty,” I answered, rubbing my shoulder.
“Letting me go live with the Malfoys.”
“It wasn’t his decision.”
“Guilt isn’t rational.”
“That’s an understatement, especially coming from you.”
“He shouldn’t feel guilty. He has no reason to.”
“Then why do you care?”
“I don’t know,” I muttered. Why did it really matter if Shacklebolt felt guilty? It didn’t change anything.
“Perhaps you already know the answer but are unwilling to admit it to yourself.”
“Thanks for the insight, Dumbledore,” I grumbled sarcastically.
A/N: The information about Dumbledore is from Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by JK Rowling, Chapter 5, The Order of the Phoenix.