Chapter 12 : A Lesson in Historical Bias
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Chapter 12: A Lesson in Historical Bias
Under the strict supervision of Morgan and Faye, Ginny spent several days sleeping off the remaining amounts of potion in her system while being dosed with a counter-potion, and despite the myriad of questions and endless labyrinthine thoughts as to what sequence of events had changed her life so drastically running rampant in her brain, she found herself luxuriating in deep, untroubled sleep. She hadn’t been aware of how much pain her insomnia was causing her until a few successive mornings of sleeping right through the night, untroubled by dreams or paranoid fears, waking and almost crying from the relief from the fatigue that had been plaguing her. Despite it all, she was able to think clearly and feel as calm as the situation allowed.
“Virginia, you seem to be feeling much better,” Vincent said, looking up from the intimidating-looking manuscript he was perusing as Ginny walked into his study.
“I feel like a completely different person,” she confessed, with a laugh. Even laughter was coming easier to her. The knowledge that, while the love of her life had indeed tried to kill her, he’d also taken such drastic measures to save her, indicating that he at least didn’t want her to die was strangely liberating to her. “I’m ready to do something.”
“Like what, my dear?” he asked, quizzically. Ginny, after observing his carefully neutral face, immediately felt her sense of ‘Malfoy scheming’ prickle. Draco was an expert at it; carefully proceeding with a seemingly innocent line of questioning until he trapped her into saying something that would force her into a situation she’d rather not be in.
“Well, whatever there may be for an unemployed former diplomat to occupy her time with. I was thinking of continuing some of the research I’d begun into that little treasure hunt of ours – or, there is that other matter of finding out who stole my memories and why and attempting to retrieve them,” she listed off, sliding comfortably into one of the large leather chairs next to the bookshelves.
“Morgan and Faye must have been keeping you fairly medicated – it’s taken you days to come back around to that issue,” Vincent laughed.
“It’s just such a puzzle. What do I know that is so important to someone that they’d drug me to steal my memories? And obviously it’s not something I know that is important, otherwise I would know I knew it. Does that make any sense to you?” Ginny asked, experiencing some difficulty articulating her feelings on the subject. What could have been possibly buried in the recesses of her memory that was so important?
“It may be rather difficult for you to recover what you’ve lost; and finding the identity of those who took them may prove just as difficult. This seems to have grown into a rather large conspiracy, the events of your ‘treasure hunt’ as you call it all seem rather circumspect, and now, the drugging and theft of your memories.”
“We have one name to work with – The Medrautian Order. We came across their work throughout of search for the sword, and considering what happened and Draco’s connection with them, I think they’re the prime suspects right now,” Ginny said, coolly, knowing that this was a potentially touchy subject with her host.
“Haven’t your Auror friends been attempting to track them for months now? Have they turned up any trace?” Vincent asked. Ginny shook her head; despite all the work that Harry, Hermione and Ron had been devoting to it, they had not been able to find anything concrete. “That is because they would not risk revealing themselves unless they have a direct and assured chance to recapture the sword.”
“They’re the only I have to work with right now, Vincent, unless there’s something you know that I don’t – which, I might add, seems to be a bit of a pattern developing here that I, for one, would love to see stopped immediately,” Ginny said, with enough playful sarcasm in her voice to soften the ice behind her words.
“Exactly how much do you know about the Medrauts, Virginia?” Vincent asked with narrowed eyes. Ginny shrugged.
“That they want the sword, they have been working for centuries to gain possession of it and that they would do just about anything to get it. That’s really about all that I was able to get, and most of that was from Ruggiero Ballan,” she answered, and frowned when she saw him grimace.
“I guess that’s all you would have learned from Ballan, he’s a highly biased source and hardly a dedicated historian. There is much more to the Medrautian Order than a simple thirst of a powerful artefact and the desire for power. It extends far beyond that, and their story has been rather twisted by history. Are you aware of the origin of the name Medraut?” Vincent asked. Ginny bit back a smile; his voice had taken on the academic tone that always appeared as he was about to begin a lengthy discussion into some historical matter that he was particularly interested in.
“No, I’m not aware of it. There’s very little information available,” she said.
“That’s because this history is fairly oral, not much has been written, but that could be because history is often written by the victors. Medraut is a Welsh variation on the name of a mythical figure that plays a rather prominent role in the fate of the sword you spent so much time searching for. How well-versed are you in Arthurian legend, Virginia?”
“We had to do quite a bit of research during our search. That was Hermione’s special role but I learned quite a bit. Not to mention, we all grew up on those stories,” Ginny said, prickling at his slightly condescending tone. He sighed heavily.
“Where and how you get your information is very important, I figured someone with your background would know that. Medraut is a Welsh version of the name Mordred. You should have some indication as to his role in the legends,” he said. Ginny was frozen for a moment as she could feel the fuzzy lines of incomprehension in her mind begin to sharpen and grow clear.
“He was the usurper – the one who was left in charge of the country while Arthur was off on some campaign, until he heard that the man had taken over the throne and had tried to steal his wife. He arranged for the scabbard to be stolen from Arthur – the part of the sword that protected him from any kind of fatal blow, so that when they finally confronted each other, he was able to mortally wound him, even though he died himself in the process,” Ginny said.
”What you just said is the usual interpretation of those events. Mordred is classically portrayed as the evil villain to Arthur’s hero. No one’s really clear about his origin – it’s debated about whether he was Arthur’s son or his nephew, and his reasons for wanting to overthrow the king are usually connected to plain ambition or the desire for revenge against Arthur,” Vincent explained.
“Yes, I came across quite a bit of that. There are so many different narratives, it’s hard to figure out which one is true and which one has been distorted through the retelling,” Ginny sighed.
“Regardless, he’s usually seen as evil. However, in some of the earlier versions of the tale, he’s portrayed in a slightly different light that isn’t quite as popular because of the implications it holds for the figurehead of Arthur. You know that his legend – and all those connected to it – are rather revered in our world. Just look at the Order of Merlin as an example. Our greatest recognition for our wizards is tied to a figure deeply involved in the legends,” he said with a pointed look. “History is written by the winning side, Ginny, so a complete picture is sometimes impossible to discern. The Medrauts represent the other side of the story.”
“But they still want the sword, though, right? You can’t expect me to believe that they are simply historians who just want their side of the story to be told,” Ginny scoffed. “If that’s the case, then they’ve done some rather questionable things in the name of history.”
“Of course, guardianship of the sword is their main goal, but that’s because they don’t trust its power to those who may not understand it, or be aware of the power it contains. History and legend has painted Mordred as an evil villain in search of power, but the other side to that story sheds an entirely different light – as a man who was frustrated with a king whose focus was on within the boundaries of his kingdom, but far beyond them, whose campaigns abroad were having terrible consequences for his own people. The expense, both in wealth and lives, were taking its toll on the people, but as long as Arthur possessed the sword that had made him a king, there would be no challenging his authority or questioning of his decisions, even if his people were suffering. There are some who view Mordred’s actions not as that of a usurper or traitor, as you put it, but as a revolutionary who was trying to do what was right for the people in the kingdom,” Vincent said. “But you can see how that version of history would be upsetting to so many, because Arthur is a hero and no one wishes to see the darker side of our heroes.”
“Is this your way of telling me that the Medrauts are actually not that bad, and that I should reconsider my suspicion of them in this matter?” Ginny asked shrewdly.
“Just that you may have judged them unfairly, due to the nature of the accounts that you’ve been given from some such as Ruggiero Ballan. As I said, he has a biased view of the whole ordeal, and that is certainly colouring your judgement, my dear,” Vincent said, his eyes grave even as he smiled.
“Your opinion is not at all biased though, of course, Vincent? Given that the Medrautian Order is connected to the Malfoy family, and that in fact, your nephew is considered a direct blood descendent of the originator of the Order. Darien told me all about it,” Ginny said, with a cold smile. Vincent sighed heavily, and looked away. A long tense silence passed between them before he turned back to her.
“Darien’s judgement has been rather clouded lately, and I know that he has been plagued by guilt for not telling you about Draco’s connection when you first began your quest. But remember what I said about biased sources, Virginia,” he said with a pointed look. Ginny frowned, not quite sure what Vincent meant by that statement.
“Why is it that no one in this family is capable of giving a direct answer or even saying something that isn’t vague and confusing?” she snapped, standing up, starting to pace around the room.
“Why are you so consumed by the desire for answers to every riddle? Aren’t some questions better left unanswered?” Vincent asked darkly. Ginny glared at him.
“Not when they concern my life. I was happy and in love with a man who I was planning to spend the rest of my life, and any chance of that ever happening has now been completely destroyed, and all I have left now are questions. It’s not just a desire to have answers, but it’s a need. I need to know before I can move on and at least try to be happy again,” she cried, the emotions she had been trying to control for fear of breaking down again breaking through her control.
“My dear, we are all sorry about what happened with Draco,” Vincent said uneasily, clearly unsure how to deal with an emotional Ginny – she was usually so calm and collected around him.
“Sorry? I’m not sorry about what happened. I am absolutely livid about it all. That arrogant little bastard, what did he think he was doing? I’m so angry with him, with this whole situation, and if I ever see him again, I swear I’ll kill him!” Ginny declared in a shrill voice, her eyes blazing with the fiery rage that had been slowly burning within her for so long. A sudden jolt seemed to run through her body, a strange feeling of energy settling in her hands, making them feel strange. She looked up at Vincent, confusion evident in her eyes, wondering if he’d noticed the fact that the room seemed to be crackling with unused power and that a strange atmosphere had fallen over the otherwise bright and comfortable room. “Did you feel that?”
“I have something for you. Before I give them to you, I should warn you that it may raise more questions for you, or bring you the type of answers that you don’t want,” Vincent said suddenly, ignoring her question. Ginny did, however, detect a faintly concealed note of foreboding in his eyes, as if this was something he’d been expecting and had feared would happen.
“But what was that?” she demanded, looking down at her hands again. She clenched them into fists, but even this didn’t dissipate the strange feeling that were running through them. It was like the muscles in her hands were straining to do something, to move of their own will, as if they were energized by some other force that was compelling her hands to strain against her own movements.
“You just reactivated an ancient and powerful curse, which previously did not affect you in the way it is now. You are going to feel compelled to carry out certain actions against your will, and unless it is broken, it will only get worse,” Vincent said grimly.
“What?” Ginny snapped, irritably. “What do you mean by ‘reactivated’? How long has this been affecting me? And how long have you known about this?”
“It will take some time to explain, and with your sceptical nature, you probably wouldn’t believe me if I told you. Right now, time is incredibly important, I had hoped that the curse wasn’t as strong as it appears to have become. Instead of explaining things to you personally, I offer you another method,” he said, walking over to his desk drawer. Taking out a number of vials that were filled with a strange silvery substance, he set them down in front of her, and walked towards a portrait that was hanging on the wall. Tapping it once with his hand and muttering some incantation that Ginny couldn’t hear, the portrait then swung open, revealing a hidden alcove. He picked something that appeared heavy, and brought it over to her as well. Ginny had reached out and picked up one of the vials, examining its contents when she looked up and realized what the object in front of her was.
“That’s a Pensieve,” she exclaimed, then looked down at the vial in her hand, feeling slightly put-off as she realized what it might be. “And these are…someone’s thoughts?”
“Since your memories seem to be lacking, I thought it might help you to have access to someone else’s, but someone who could also answer your questions in a expedient manner,” Vincent explained. “These are memories that pertain to some of your questions. But they might not answer them all and leave you understanding less than you do now. It’s your choice whether or not you want to take that risk.”
“But whose memories are they?” she asked quietly, watching as the silvery threads swirled around in their small vials.
“I think you know the answer to that question. Just remember what I said about biases,” Vincent said, with a hint of warning, before he exited the room.
Ginny stared at the Pensieve, still holding one of the vials in her hands. It felt warm to her, and it was a comforting feeling. She took a deep breath, remembering her vow to herself that she would stop crying about the direction that her life had taken, that she would stop hiding from things that she didn’t want to face and that she was going to start fighting back. Open the vial, she carefully poured it into the bowl of the Pensieve, and without any further consideration as to what she might see or how painful it might be for her, she plunged her face in, the desire for answers greater than anything else she could feel at that moment.
More to come soon!
Please note: any references to Arthurian legend is only kinda factual. I did a lot of research, but then tossed it to the wind in order to fit the needs of the story as I imagined it. So take everything with a giant truckload of salt.