Chapter 19 : Mothers and Their Families
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It was for that reason apparently, that Hermione made an effort to help Apollonia out of her morose lifestyle. For whatever the reason, the Gryffindor thought it prudent to keep Apollonia’s mind off her brother and Draco. That’s the only reason I’m going to this stupid thing, Apollonia knew. Hermione—and even Dad—is forcing me to go to this thing. How the hell did I find myself in this situation? But, in all honesty, she did know. It did happen last week.
Since the encounter with Pansy in the Slytherin common room, Apollonia had taken to spending her free periods in the library. It was really all the young Slytherin could do to avoid the nasty insults that would come her way. Pansy would only cause Apollonia undue distress. Apollonia grimaced and slumped against a wall to go over her homework. The problem was that she could barely focus on anything other than the safety of those she cared about. “Damn it!” she grumbled. “Why can’t I think about anything over than their safety?”
“You care too much. Harry is the same way,” a voice said.
Apollonia looked up to find the only person who really knew her secret to be hovering over her. “What are you doing here?” Apollonia questioned of the Gryffindor. It was made very clear that the two girls could not speak of Apollonia’s true parentage, not even in secret. It was a safety clause the young Slytherin enacted to ensure that no one ever found out the truth, not until Voldemort was destroyed. She had no clue when that would be either. So, there was really no apparent reason for Hermione Granger—Gryffindor’s resident genius and one of her brother’s best friends—to appear before her now.
“We need to talk,” Hermione said.
“Not about that thing,” Apollonia said. “Because I can assure you, I won’t speak of that until Harry fulfills the prophecy. I’ve hidden the fact that you know from my father and I don’t want to take the chance that I must do so with someone else, even if I must conceal the truth.”
“It’s not about that,” Hermione said.
“Then what?” Apollonia had to ask.
“You. It’s just that you seem so depressed. It’s as if all you seem to care about is the safety of the ones you love. You can’t do that. You can’t be like Harry, always trying to protect everyone. It’s not what you were meant to do. If Harry always wants to play martyr he can, but you shouldn’t have to do the same. Maybe that’s the reason Snape hid the truth from you, to protect you from that life. He obviously didn’t want for you to suffer through the same things that Harry had to. I really don’t know, but you shouldn’t be doing this.”
“I feel as if I have to,” Apollonia shrugged.
“As I said, so does Harry,” Hermione explained.
Apollonia laughed. “Dad always did tell me that I was like my mother. What was the story again? Lily Potter died protecting Harry and it was her protection that kept him safe all these years.”
Hermione nodded. “That would be it.”
“Well, that’s exactly my point,” Apollonia warned. “And, since you have knowledge of the truth—the only one to do so—you know that it’s basically my birthright. I have to protect the people I care about most in the world: Harry, Draco, and my father. My mother’s legacy won’t allow me to do anything less than that. All I can do I worry for their safety.”
“You need to stop worrying about all of this,” Hermione stated.
“And how am I supposed to do that?” her companion asked.
“Come with me. I think I have a way,” the Gryffindor grinned.
Apollonia shrugged, not knowing what it was that Hermione wished of her, and duly followed her out of the library. It was a wonder that she actually left. From all the times Apollonia heard Draco complaining about Hermione, it was often done when she was in the library. Even from Harry did Apollonia hear that Hermione was known to spend half her time at Hogwarts in the library. Seeing the Gryffindor not in the library or class was surprising. “So, where are we going anyway?” the Slytherin asked. “You claim you have a way to keep me from worrying about them, but do you really? I really don’t know what to believe.”
“Just trust me. I know what I’m doing,” she said.
Apollonia wasn’t quite sure, but she didn’t voice her concern. She would wait to find out what was going on. Her emerald eyes were kept trained on her feet, for the Slytherin had no wish to see where she was going. A third pair of feet soon appeared causing her to look up. In front of her stood one Blaise Zabini. “Zabini?” Apollonia wondered.
Hermione nodded. “Best thing I could think of.”
“And how do you know him?” Apollonia inquired. “He’s a Slytherin. I’m really the only Slytherin that you’re friendly with. So, why is it that we are meeting here with Zabini?”
“Zabini, why don’t you take this?” Hermione suggested.
“We’re both a part of the Slug Club,” Zabini explained. “That’s the only reason I’m even aware of her. And for some reason, Granger here asked me to do a favor for a friend of Draco’s. It never occurred to me that you were the person she was talking about.”
“I do such a great job at blending in, don’t I?” Apollonia asked. “Surely you don’t even realize that we’re both in Slughorn’s Potions class.” Zabini looked at her in surprise; no, it was more like shock. “I thought not. Now, can someone tell me why we’re here?”
“I’m not really sure how,” Zabini explained, “but Granger here was aware of something that I had not told anyone else. She thought that a solution lay just in front of me, that you could help me with this. So, only one thing remains: will you go to Slughorn’s party with me?”
Before answering, Apollonia glared at Hermione. “That’s your plan! That’s how you intend on keeping me from worrying about them, by using Slughorn’s party.” Her brother’s friend nodded. “I hope you’re right,” Apollonia muttered. She turned to Zabini. “I’ll go with you.”
Thanks to Hermione’s meddling, Apollonia had no choice but to go, though she would have preferred to keep an eye out for Draco. His safety was really all that mattered at the moment. Her brother was safe at the moment; right now it was Draco who needed protecting as there was really no telling as to what might happen to him while he was in Voldemort’s presence. She was made aware of something terrible, something that would force her to stay at school for the holidays.
As she sat in the Great Hall for breakfast, Apollonia’s gaze shifted between four people: her father, Draco, Harry, and Hermione. No one else ever seemed to matter. Her focus was soon forced to shift when a large eagle owl came swooping towards the Slytherin. “That’s the Malfoy’s owl,” Apollonia realized, speaking only in a whisper. “What’s it doing here?” As the owl came swooping right towards her, Apollonia removed the left attached to its leg and unfurled the note, wondering what was so important.
Since you usually spend your Christmas with us, I feel as if I must warn you. DO NOT come back. You’ll be in an immense amount of danger here. It seems as if Malfoy Manor has become the base of operations for a world that your father has been very careful to keep you away from. You may not ever be able to come back here; the Dark Lord is here and I gave my word to your father that you would not get subjected to such an evil.
I hope you have a Happy Christmas, Apolla. It would have been nice to have you here. Your presence in the manor will be missed. You made Christmases at the Manor interesting.
Having read the letter, Apollonia was almost to tears. She couldn’t go back to Malfoy Manor. Just another reason to hate Voldemort. Another reason to wish that her brother succeeded. “Damn it!” she grunted. “Now what am I supposed to do for the holidays, stay here?”
“Hello, Apolla,” a silky voice said behind her. There was no need to turn around. Apollonia knew it was Draco. Only he and his mother ever called her Apolla. They both felt that her name was too long and got into a rhythm of calling her Apolla; actually, now that she thought about it, it was Draco to give the nickname. “What was in the note? A love note from Potter perhaps?”
Apollonia elbowed her friend in the gut. “Ew.”
“You do seem pretty close to him,” Draco defended.
“So?” Apollonia asked. “Just because I’m close to Harry doesn’t mean I’m utterly in love with him. Besides, ew! Draco, you will never understand just how wrong that really is. Maybe one day, but not now. There is no way that you can possibly understand just how terrifyingly disturbing that is.” The thought of dating her brother; it was sickening.
“Then, what do you have?” he repeated.
“A note from your mother,” she sighed, “stating that I can’t go back with you for Christmas.” She continued in a low whisper. “Apparently, I’m not to be around your master or something.”
“Damn it!” Draco swore.
“You mean he is there?” she asked.
“If my mother warned you away, then yes he’s there. And you must heed her warning, Apolla. You can’t get wrapped up in this world. I refuse to allow it. Go spend Christmas with your father. Or even go spend home time with your mother’s family. You don’t talk about your mother, but surely your mother must have family. You can go spend it with them.”
Apollonia grimaced. Her mother’s family. People she never met; people who, according to Harry, hated anything to do with magic. There was no way she could ever spend Christmas with them. “I really doubt that,” Apollonia muttered. “My mother’s family is not all that tolerant of me.”
“Just try,” Draco suggested.
But, there was no way for Apollonia to try. She knew that just couldn’t happen. All she could do was stay here at the school. Even after her conversation with Draco a few days ago, Apollonia could not bring herself to ask her father about what Draco suggested. Even if her father knew of her mother’s family, there was no way that it could be done. Draco, what in the world were you thinking ever suggesting such a thing? Her family would never accept me and I’ve come to know that, through both Harry and my father.
Apollonia grimaced and began getting ready for Slughorn’s party. She never wanted to go, but there was no choice. If Apollonia broke her promise to go, she’d never hear the end of it from Hermione. So, Apollonia solemnly emerged from her room in an emerald-colored dress—to match her eyes—to meet Blaise Zabini for Slughorn’s party. “I can’t believe I agreed to do this,” she muttered.
“Neither can I,” Zabini called.
“How so?” Apollonia wondered.
“Seriously, you don’t know?” he asked.
“Know what?” the young Snape asked.
“I really shouldn’t tell you,” Zabini muttered.
“No, tell me,” Apollonia insisted.
“I shouldn’t. Draco should tell you himself,” Zabini told her. “Draco has to be the one to do it, I’m afraid. So, come on; we better get to Slughorn’s Christmas party. It should be fascinating.”
“Give me a minute,” Apollonia said. “I have something I want to do first.” Upon making certain that Zabini left the Slytherin common room for the Christmas party, Apollonia sat down for a few minutes. It definitely seemed as if there was something more going on with her friend. She just wished that he would tell her instead of keeping it some big secret. “He needs to understand. I have to make him understand somehow.” After gaining her composure, Apollonia stood up and went to follow Blaise. Hermione was right. If for just one night, Apollonia had to let go of her worries and have some fun. Just for tonight, she promised herself as she went to join Zabini. “Okay, we can go to the party now.”
“Perfect,” Zabini proclaimed.
It wasn’t long before the pair arrived at Slughorn’s Christmas party. Apollonia soon realized that two of the people she cared about most in the world were here as well; Harry came with fifth-year Ravenclaw Luna Lovegood and her father came acting as what seemed like a chaperon. Even Hermione was there with some seventh-year Gryffindor Cormac McLaggen. Apollonia slipped away from Zabini and went to speak with Hermione, who already seemed to have ditched her date. “You didn’t tell me that you or Harry would be here,” she noted.
“I never meant to mention it,” the Gryffindor responded.
“But why not tell me?” she asked.
“It might have gotten you here, but you would have started worrying,” Hermione explained. “So, I omitted that fact. Which, by the way, you’re lucky I opted to bring Cormac rather than Ron. That way, Harry and I can speak to you without the dunderhead interrupting and spouting insults at you.” She paused to lean in closer. “Go get your brother and we’ll have a little chat.”
Apollonia nodded and went to grab her brother who was chatting away with Ginny Weasley. She rolled her eyes at the oh-so-obvious flirting that occurred between her brother and the youngest Weasley. If those two are that head-over-heels for one another, it appears as if I might have a Weasley for a sister-in-law. Apollonia mentally laughed at the thought, both remembering what she mentioned either in the year to her brother and the thought of her sharing a room with Ron Weasley. “If a Slytherin such as myself can notice how much those two love each other, I think everyone can.” Apollonia remembered. It was the same way with Harry and Ginny—very obvious. And, regarding Ronald Weasley, the only way she would ever have to worry about that was if Voldemort was destroyed. The young Slytherin tugged on her brother’s arm and steered him towards Hermione. “Come on, lover-boy. We need to have a little chat with Hermione. About what I have no clue.”
“Snape!” her brother whispered harshly.
“Shut up!” Apollonia snarled. “Someone could hear.”
“Only Hermione and Malfoy would really know what we were talking about,” Harry countered. “Everyone else at the party would think I’m referring to our lovely chaperon.”
“Who has no idea Hermione knows,” Apollonia shot back.
“He doesn’t know?” Harry asked.
“Afraid not,” Apollonia replied.
“Well, good luck with that,” he laughed.
“Yeah, I know. Now, to Hermione,” she insisted.
The siblings trooped over to where Hermione stood waiting. “Finally,” the bushy-haired Gryffindor huffed. “I’ve been waiting on you two forever.” She disappeared behind a curtain. “Come on.”
“You sure you don’t know the reason for this?” Harry asked.
Apollonia shook her head. “Nope.” That was the first honest thing Apollonia said to her brother in the past few months. She was too busy hiding Draco’s Death Eater status and her connection to him to tell her twin brother the truth. Under no circumstances was that ever going to come out before Voldemort’s destruction. I won’t let that happen. Not ever.
Once the trio adjourned to behind the curtain, Hermione revealed the reason they were there. “All three of us know something that cannot be repeated around the school. It’s the reason you’re,” Hermione gestured to Apollonia, “now our friend. The question now remains, how do we hide that from Ron and everyone else in the school? We need to come up with something.”
“What can we do?” Harry asked.
“Come up with a way to discuss this discreetly,” Hermione said thoughtfully. “Perhaps we could use the DA coins from last year. Or if not that, something similar to it.”
Apollonia chuckled. “Dumbledore’s Army! Do you know how much trouble that caused Draco last year? I wanted to torment him about it, but given the circumstances, there was no way I could.”
“Someone definitely has a soft spot for Malfoy,” Harry chuckled.
“Yes, who would have thought?” Hermione joined in the laughter.
“Hey!” Apollonia demanded. “Why say that?”
“If a Slytherin such as myself can notice how much those two love each other, I think everyone can,” Harry quoted. “It works both ways there, Apollonia. It’s why he knows your secret.”
“Whatever!” Apollonia grumbled throwing her hands up in the air. “Believe what you want. Perhaps I do have a soft spot for Draco. Maybe I always have, given that he never tormented me like some of my other housemates chose to do. He knew the truth and protected me.”
“Pansy,” Harry stated knowingly.
Hermione looked shocked. “Pug-faced Parkinson hates you.”
“Afraid so,” Apollonia replied. “With a passion.”
“That’s unfortunate,” Hermione said. She parted the curtain and started towards it. “Now, I think it’s best if we part here, think over break about what to do. Somehow we’ll figure this out.”
Apollonia left her brother and Hermione, going to mingle with some of the other guests. She did this for a little while longer before hearing the voice of the Hogwarts’ caretaker. The Slytherin looked up only to be met with the face of a sallow young man. “And there is number three,” Apollonia whispered softly as Filch’s grip on the gate-crasher that was her best friend tightened. Draco, what are you doing here? Why crash the party?
But, the young Slytherin knew perfectly well that she would never find out since all she could do was watch as her father dragged Draco away. The younger Snape followed after them however, after seeing her brother slip under the invisibility cloak she returned to him weeks ago when it became apparent that she could no longer follow Draco. “Harry, cloak,” she hissed once they were in the hall. She quickly felt the cloak being draped around her so they could both spy upon the exchange between Draco and her father.
“What are you doing here?” he asked. “You should be inside at the party having fun. There’s no reason for you to out here spying on your father and the presumed Death Eater. Leave that job to me. I’ll be the one to find out once and for all what’s going on since you never told me.”
Apollonia had no choice. “He’s a Death Eater.”
“What?” Harry hissed.
This was the reason Apollonia delayed telling him; she knew her brother would act like this. “Harry, I’ve known about this for months now. Since my dad first realized your awareness of whom I am. I never told because I knew how you’d react. You’ve hated Draco since we were eleven. That’s what they’re talking about: his task. And don’t even bother trying to ask me what’s going on because even I’m not sure of what his task is.”
“But, if you know he’s a Death Eater, why are you still friends with him?” Harry wondered. “You made it very clear that you care about Malfoy, yet on the light side of the fight. You two are on opposing sides; like Romeo & Juliet. How can you trust Malfoy?”
Apollonia shrugged. “I don’t know. I just do.”
“Still,” Harry reasoned, “you need to be careful. I simply don’t trust Malfoy not to harm you—his own friend—even though you continue to believe in him. So long as you are clueless as to Malfoy’s intent, you must be on your guard and protect yourself, even from him.”
“Well,” Apollonia whispered, “I am quite intent on finding out what’s going on. I know that Draco’s hiding something, even from me, and it’s not anything to do with his task.” There was something very weird going on and Apollonia needed to look into it, without her twin brother hounding her. This was something involving her, no one else. Everything’s connected. I’m sure it is. All I have to do is find out what my friend is hiding from me. Apollonia elbowed her brother and suggested something. “Once their conversation ends, I need to go speak with those two. Maybe I can find out what you want to know from them.”
“Before you do, what’s an Unbreakable Vow?”
The Slytherin stood there in shock at what Harry asked. That must have been how Narcissa ensured that my father would protect Draco. An Unbreakable Vow was cast. Damn it! I wish I knew that beforehand. If Dad doesn’t protect him, I could lose my father even sooner than I thought. “An Unbreakable Vow?” she asked. “Harry, I think you might want to ask your friends about that one. I would answer, but I have a lot to discuss with Draco and my father.”
“I guess,” Harry shrugged.
While Harry slipped back into Slughorn’s Christmas party, Apollonia went after her father to fin out what was going on. She caught him as he was headed to his office. “Dad?” she asked. Her father said nary a word, but rather motioned for her to follow him inside. “Dad?” she repeated. “What’s going on? Why did you want me to follow you in here?”
“I knew you would be watching,” her father declared.
“Of course you did,” Apollonia grumbled. “What is it?”
“Your initial plans for the break have been altered,” her father reminded Apollonia. “And, as I forbade any contact during your schooling years due to the threat your brother faces, it seems there is no alternate but for me to do something I never wanted for you.” His daughter eyed her father, perplexed by what the man meant. “I never wanted you to have to suffer through the torment Potter, Lily, and I faced when it came to Petunia Dursley, or as she was known when your mother and I were growing up, Petunia Evans.”
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