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Chapter 23: Chapter 23
I paced around the dormitory for hours mentally cursing Snape and trying to figure out where to go from here. Now, even more than ever, I knew I had to be at Grimmauld Place. Something was horribly wrong. Everyone was in danger. And Snape didn’t give a damn. He thought I was paranoid. He thought it was for something as trivial as spending Christmas with Fred. He didn’t understand, he didn’t care how much danger the Weasleys were in.
Why would he? He never cared about them.
No, he hadn’t. He treated them with the same indifference he treated everyone. Actually, he treated them worse for being Gryffindors. He only tolerated Fred because of me.
I couldn’t stay here, not while Fred and the rest of them were in danger. I wouldn’t just sit here and do nothing. I wasn’t going to be useless. It wasn’t going to be my fault if something happened to them. I was going to London.
I stuffed every stray belonging I owned into my trunk. I’d head to Hogsmeade, take one of the pub’s fireplaces to Diagon Alley, and then walk across London to Grimmauld Place. The hardest part would be getting through the Hogwarts gates but I was confident I could manage.
I shrunk my trunk and slipped it into my coat pocket before moving towards the door. I cast one last look around to be sure I had everything. Dobby’s breakfast tray was still here, cold and long forgotten. I’d never touched the glass of juice beside my bed. I did have everything I needed though, that was what mattered.
I twisted the doorknob to leave, imagine my surprise when it didn’t open. I rattled it, trying to get it unstuck because surely that’s what was wrong. Still it didn’t open. I tried the same technique I’d used on Snape’s door. That didn’t work the first time or the tenth. I ran through every unlocking charm I knew to no effect. I even kicked it, yet it wouldn’t budge. As a last resort I sent a Reducto at it. The spell only bounced back and struck Lavender’s bed, damaging one of the bed posts.
A pop sounded from behind me – Dobby. He was standing close to the wall, watching me fearfully. Suddenly it dawned on me why I couldn’t get out.
“Dobby, open the door,” I demanded.
“Dobby cannot,” he said, shaking his head.
“I’m ordering you to open the door,” I told him viciously.
“Dobby is sorry –”
“Did he tell you to do this?!” Of course he did, this screamed Snape intervention.
“Miss must stay at Hogwarts,” Dobby pleaded.
This was the last place I wanted to be at the minute. Well if I couldn’t get through the door, I would find a way out the window. I sent a vanishing spell at it and nothing happened. Furious, I started casting several other spells that merely bounced back and struck the walls and sometimes the beds in the dormitory. When physically hitting the glass didn’t work either, I turned back to Dobby.
“Open the door,” I ordered him, shaking with anger. He shook his head frantically. “Open it!” I shouted, fury taking over.
“Open it,” I whispered dangerously, looming over him.
“Dobby will not. Miss is safe at Hogwarts.”
“Leave,” I commanded.
“Dobby is protecting –”
“I said to leave.”
“Miss is –”
“LEAVE!” I roared, causing Dobby to jump and pop away.
In a fit of rage, I tore off my coat, throwing it on one of the beds. I slid down to the floor, my back against the wall. This was because of Snape. I was trapped here because of him, like some animal in a cage. He was manipulative and controlling. His stupidity was going to get the Weasleys killed. Instead of trying to warn them he had locked me in here, rendering me useless. Didn’t he understand that this was an emergency?!
This was an emergency!
Why hadn’t I thought of it before?!
I scrambled over to my coat and ripped my trunk out to expand it. I frantically searched through the right compartment before I found the small, flat box. Worried that Dobby might return, I moved to the bathroom, securely locking the door before I sat down on the tile floor.
I carefully opened the box and stared at the medallion Tsukino sent me nearly two years ago. The note said ‘for emergencies’ and this certainly felt like one now. I removed the medallion from its case and flipped it over in my palm while mentally repeating ‘I need help,’ as per the instructions. Finally I set it sideways on the floor and spun it.
There was a burst of flames in front of me and a phoenix appeared. A gold and white phoenix. My mind drifted to my wand core. This couldn’t possibly be…I mean even if it is a rare bird, the odds…it couldn’t be the same bird…could it? Then another thought hit me – this is how she did it. This is how Tsukino sent and picked up letters and packages without me knowing.
The phoenix let out a gentle trill, reminding me he was still there and waiting. I grabbed the medallion and stood up, trying to think of how to communicate with him. Would just talking work?
“Er…hi,” I said awkwardly. He let out a few notes that I hoped was a greeting. “Can you…well I was wondering…I need to go to London.” The bird tilted his head at me. “Can you do that?” I asked unsure. “Someone I care about is in danger and I can’t leave my dormitory. I need to be in London so I can be sure nothing happens to him or his family over the holiday. Do you know where London is? London, England?” Fantastic, now I was rambling away to a bird. He flapped his wings impatiently. “Oh!” I exclaimed, finally realizing the issue. “Number Twelve Grimmauld Place,” I clarified. The phoenix flapped his wings again, this time floating up. He circled above me twice before stopping with his tail in front of me. “Er…ok?” I reached out and carefully wrapped my hand around his tail feathers. The next moment there was a flash and we were gone.
It was very warm traveling this way and impossible to see anything. Thankfully the trip didn’t last long and my feet touched down on a firm surface. It was the room I’d spent the summer in. The only difference was a layer of dust.
“Thanks,” I told the phoenix who had landed on the back of the chair at the desk. He let out a few soothing notes and rose up again, disappearing in a burst of flames.
I stuffed the medallion into my pocket and headed out the bedroom door. I was listening closely for any sounds. The Weasleys were all supposed to be here, right? Then why was it so quiet? There was light coming from under the door of Fred and George’s room. I crept in that direction.
When I was a foot from the door it swung open and Ginny nearly ran into me. She let out a surprised gasp and jumped before she realized it was me. “Jade?” she asked, confused.
“What?” one of the twins said from inside the room. In seconds both of them were behind Ginny, looking shocked.
“Hi there,” I greeted uncomfortably. Fred pushed past Ginny and pulled me into a hug before planting a kiss on my lips.
“Ugh,” George said in disgust. “We might was well leave, Ginny, Merlin knows how long this will last.”
Fred pulled back though, and gave me an appraising look. “What’s wrong?” he asked, sounding worried.
“What? With me? Nothing.” He didn’t look convinced. “Really, nothing,” I assured him.
“Then why do you look so awful?” he questioned, frowning.
George shook his head in disbelief as Ginny rolled her eyes and muttered “Idiot.”
“I’m ok. How are you guys?” I asked cautiously.
“Dad’s ok,” Ginny answered. “Mum and Bill spend a lot of time at St. Mungo’s and we visited him the other day. He seemed ok.”
“We’re supposed to go back Christmas day,” George added.
“That’s good,” I replied truthfully. The more time they spent at Grimmauld Place the better.
“Are you sure you’re ok?” Fred was still looking me over, slightly frowning.
“I’m better now,” I told him.
“How’d you get here?” George asked. “We asked mum and Lupin if you could come but Lupin said Dumbledore didn’t approve.”
“Er…” In the rush to get here I hadn’t actually thought of a way to explain my sudden appearance. I doubted ‘I borrowed a Seer’s phoenix’ would work, even if it was the truth. “Where there’s a will, there’s a way?” All three Weasleys raised an eyebrow at me.
“Did you sneak out of Hogwarts?” Ginny asked incredulously.
“I…I fancied a quick pop in to check how things were,” I said defensively
“You did!” George said with a laugh.
“You’re going to be in a load of trouble,” Fred pointed out, although there was a mischievous smirk on his face.
They were so carefree, so at ease, I couldn’t tell them. I couldn’t admit the real reason I risked breaking out of Hogwarts was because they were in danger. They wouldn’t understand if I told them. They’d think I was mental.
“I’ll handle it when I get there,” I said offhand. Fred pulled me into other hug before wrapping his fingers around mine.
“Come on,” he said, pulling me towards the stairs. “You really look like you could use a few meals.” Yeah, I probably could. Maybe it would help ease some of my anxiety. At least there was some relief in being here and knowing that for now, the Weasleys were safe. And according to George they were spending their holiday at Grimmauld Place and wouldn’t be leaving again until Christmas. That was still four days away. I would figure something out before then.
“What’s going on?” a voice asked as we stepped down onto the next floor. Ugh – Black.
“Jade?” Hermione said, confused. She was with Harry, Ron, and Black. “What are you doing here?”
“I’d like to know the same thing,” Black said, glaring at me.
“She’s staying for Christmas,” Fred answered instantly. Black gave him a dark look, the look he usually used on me or Snape, making me think I had missed something between them.
“Stay here,” Black ordered before walking down the next flight of stairs and disappearing into the kitchen.
There was silence before Harry spoke up. “You ok?” he asked. I was surprised to see he was talking to me. When I realized why, I immediately lowered my hand off my left shoulder.
“Fine,” I muttered. For a second it felt like I was being tugged back and I cast a glance behind me, finding nothing.
“How did you get here?” Hermione questioned.
“I think that’s what we’d all like to know.” Black had returned with Lupin.
“Magic,” I answered sarcastically. Lupin looked at me disapprovingly as Black scowled.
“Sirius says he never opened the door and neither did I,” Lupin stated. “I was only asking how you entered the house. If there’s a weakness we’d like –”
“If there’s a weakness? That’s really the best excuse you could think of?” I cut in. “Try for a bit of honesty and ask the real question you want an answer to.” Lupin was looking less and less pleased by the minute. Black’s gaze drifted over to Fred. “He didn’t let me in,” I said angrily. Lupin turned to glance at Black who was now watching me with narrowed eyes.
“How did you open the door?” Lupin asked politely.
“Doors are overrated,” I scoffed.
“Miss Lestrange,” Lupin started before Ginny interrupted.
“Dumbledore probably sent her. He sent us, didn’t he? The front door’s not the only way in.”
“Dumbledore was very adamant about her staying at Hogwarts,” Black disagreed.
“Did Dumbledore send you?” Lupin asked curiously.
“Most definitely not,” a new, bored voice said. It was from a painting of a wizard who was wearing Slytherin robes. “You seemed to have caused quite the uproar, Lestrange was it?”
“Phineas, what’s going on?” Black demanded. The portrait raised an eyebrow.
“Most Headmasters do not approve of their pupils breaking out of the school. Though I suppose Dumbledore is the least of her worries. Professor Snape looked much more furious.”
Again I felt the tugging sensation but my anger over hearing Snape’s name made me brush it off. “He’s probably just peeved I outwitted him,” I said bitterly.
“Outwitted?” Phineas said sarcastically. “Oh yes, an illegal Portkey, how truly witty indeed.”
The others looked at me in alarm but I let out a mocking laugh. “Joke’s on him. Didn’t need one.” Phineas narrowed his eyes suspiciously.
“Then how –”
“Wouldn’t you love to know,” I cut in. Phineas observed me with a calculating look on his face. I was annoyed that I couldn’t use Legilimency on a portrait so I would know what he was thinking.
“Well,” he said at last, “if that’s really the case, you wouldn’t mind handing over your wand to be checked.”
“You know, I think I’m going to have to pass on that,” I replied, amused by his weak attempt to get me disarmed. “I think I’d prefer to keep it on me.”
“This is why I detested children,” Phineas stated. “You are all so arrogant –”
“Don’t you have to report back to Dumbledore?” I asked rudely. “That’s why you’re here, right? Aren’t you just a messenger boy?”
“Why you insolent –”
“And if you think you didn’t like children, imagine how much they absolutely loathed you. Hogwarts’ least favorite Headmaster, wasn’t it? Why if it wasn’t for that, I’m betting you wouldn’t even be worth remembering at all.”
Phineas let out an insulted huff and gave me a look of contempt before marching out of his current frame and appearing in the next.
“Oi! What are we supposed to do about her?” Black called out.
“Professor Snape will arrive later this evening!” Phineas shouted before disappearing.
“Let’s go,” Lupin said with a sigh. “You can eat before Severus gets here. You look like you could use it.” Everyone followed Lupin downstairs where Mrs. Weasley was in the kitchen cooking dinner. She looked at me before turning curiously to Lupin. “Miss Lestrange will be joining us for dinner,” he explained. We all sat around the table, Fred beside me. “Severus will be along later to take her back to Hogwarts.”
“I’m not going,” I said simply.
“Yes, you are,” Lupin replied forcefully.
“No, I’m really not,” I reiterated with the same force.
“You need to get back before Umbridge notices you’re gone.”
“I can handle Umbridge,” I said, feeling insulted.
“You risked expulsion. There’s still a chance you could be expelled unless –”
“She won’t,” Fred cut in. “Umbridge is an idiot, Jade can –”
“Fred!” Mrs. Weasley warned.
“What?” he asked annoyed. “How come she can’t stay? Harry and Hermione are both here –”
“Their uncle isn’t Lucius Malfoy.”
“What has that got to do with anything? She can lie about where she was. They wouldn’t know –”
“Fred, Umbridge controls every punishment and Jade is already on a short leash,” Lupin tried to explain. “She can be expelled for this. If Lucius takes her back to Malfoy Manor we will not be able to help her –”
“I don’t need the Order’s bloody help,” I said darkly, glaring at Lupin. “I know how to handle Lucius fine on my own.”
“And Voldemort?” Black asked cynically, causing most of the table to flinch. Your name should cause that same amount of fear. “What about half a dozen Death Eaters? You think you can handle them?”
“Yes,” I said stubbornly. Black let out a humorless laugh, infuriating me. Show him.
“Arrogance is a family trait, eh?” Show him the meaning of pain.
“Sirius!” Lupin snapped.
“She’s the one who wants to go recklessly duel them!” Black exclaimed. Don’t let him speak about you like that. “Go let her.” Teach him to fear you. “You heard her, she doesn’t want the Order’s help.” You know all the spells. “Why are we even bothering?” He’s nothing.
“We are not going to send a fifteen year old to Voldemort,” Lupin said angrily. Show them all.
I rubbed my head trying to block out the thoughts. Black’s not worth it, I told myself, he’s just an idiot with a big mouth.
“What?” Lupin asked sharply. I looked up and found him watching me. “What did you just say?”
“You said he wasn’t worth it,” Lupin said, his hand slowly moving off the table. Dammit, I had said it out loud and not even realized it. “Who were you talking to?” Lupin asked suspiciously.
“No one,” I replied, annoyed by Lupin’s accusing tone. It wasn’t completely unheard of to mutter something to yourself in a moment of stress.
“Molly, take everyone upstairs,” Lupin ordered, his eyes never leaving mine.
“Upstairs, now please.”
“No,” Fred cut in. “What’s going on?” Heck, I was wondering the same thing. Actually everyone, even Black looked confused. Too curious now, I used Legilimency.
I couldn’t help but feel annoyed when I learned why Lupin was acting this way. He thought I was…tethered to some Death Eater and communicating with him.
“I was talking to myself,” I said impatiently. “Not some Death Eater.” Now Lupin looked shocked.
“You’re a Legilimens!” Hermione blurted out before covering her mouth, looking embarrassed.
“A what?” Harry asked.
“Working on that one for a while now?” I questioned lazily. “Here I thought you’d figure out the photographic memory first.”
“I knew it,” she said triumphantly. “I knew it was something like that. There’s no way you could have done all those essays and never opened a book.”
“Wait,” Ron interrupted, “isn’t a photographic memory where you –”
“Remember everything you’ve ever done, read, or learned in your life?” George finished. “Pretty much. Are you all really just catching on to this now?”
“You knew?” Ron asked.
“Course we knew. I mean you can only watch her write so many three foot essays without opening a book before you get a bit suspicious.”
“Did you know she was a Legilimens?” Black asked distrustfully.
“I don’t even know what that is,” George answered. Everyone’s focus shifted towards Fred.
“It may have popped up once,” I said, knowing Fred was about to lie although it wasn’t necessary.
“You never thought to mention this?” Lupin asked sternly. I was still feeling quite vindictive towards Snape and also didn’t want Fred to get in trouble, so I had no qualms about my next response.
“Maybe you should have asked a certain Potions professor. It’s not my choice what he tells or in this case, doesn’t tell you.”
“Snape knew?” Lupin questioned, frowning.
“But was does Legilimens mean?” Ginny asked.
“It’s like a mind reader,” Hermione explained.
“The mind is not a book,” Fred corrected. “You can’t open it up and read it. You don’t have one solid memory of your life. There are bits and pieces that make up your collective memories.” I couldn’t help but feel impressed remembering that I had told Fred the same thing over a year ago. “It makes more sense if you use food to explain it.”
“Huh?” Ron said, looking even more confused.
“Shh,” Lupin cut in. “Sirius, that’s Phineas.” Both Lupin and Black exited the kitchen.
I had a feeling about what would happen next. I shoved a roll into my mouth and mentally prepared myself. I was not leaving Grimmauld Place. I would not abandon Fred, the other Weasleys, Hermione, and Harry because Snape and Dumbledore refused to see the truth. I wasn’t going to let Snape manipulate me into returning to Hogwarts, expulsion or not, some things were more important than school. And I absolutely was not going to make eye contact with Snape and let him force me into following his orders.
Lupin and Black came back a couple of minutes later. Everyone but me turned towards them to hear the news.
“Severus is on his way,” Lupin announced.
“I can hardly wait,” I replied sarcastically.