I jerked awake from the cold. Colder than I’d felt in many years. I blinked a few times trying to adjust to the darkness of my bedroom. It was warm in here, well as warm as it could be at 3am. Merlin, is it really 3am?
I laid back down to process what happened. It hadn’t been me that was cold, it was my father. Normally during the night I was fine, but for some reason tonight was different. I tried to figure it out without letting down my mental shield.
Dementors were passing, something was different though. No, I was wrong, they weren’t passing. Several were outside of my cell. NO. HIS cell, I reminded myself. His cell. Wizards were there too, an unusual amount of wizards. Were they bringing in someone new? That was the only reason I could think of.
I turned on my side, annoyed that the Ministry had decided 3am was a swell time to bring in another prisoner, and tried to fall back asleep.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
I was woken up by someone pulling on my arm and a voice calling to me. “Miss. Miss must wake up,” Milly was saying.
“Yeah, I’m up. What’s going on?” I asked sleepily.
“Miss must wake up,” she repeated.
“I sort of got that part. What’s going on?”
“Master is expecting miss downstairs in 5 minutes.”
“Why…?” Instead of answering me she disappeared with a pop. “Thanks for clearing that up,” I muttered to my now empty room.
Walking out of my room a few minutes later the first thing I saw was Draco emerging from his room. He looked as tired and confused as I was. We reached the stairs together and walked down them silently.
I heard voices coming from the living room and headed in that direction. If Lucius was in there that meant there were guests. Why I was woken up for said unknown guests was a mystery to me, Lucius usually let me avoid people who were visiting.
As Draco and I stepped into the room I noticed four visitors, three of whom I didn’t know. The fourth however, made me stop in my tracks. “What happened?” I asked instantly. Everyone turned to look at me but I kept my eyes on the familiar face.
“Draco, Jade, come sit down.” Narcissa motioned for us to sit. Draco headed over to the sofa and sat next to her. I stayed where I was until I saw Lucius give me a look that obviously warned me to sit. I sat in a chair opposite to the only guest who was seated.
“These are Mr. Amber and Mrs. Willow. They work for the Department of Magical Law Enforcement.” Two of the guests who were standing nodded when their names were announced. “This is Auror Bell.” The man by the fireplace nodded in greeting. “My name is Auror Shacklebolt.” I already knew that but it would have been just a bit suspicious if I mentioned that, considering it had been over a decade since I’d seen him. “We’d like to ask you all a few questions,” Shacklebolt stated.
“Yes, of course,” Lucius responded at once. “I too am interested in this unexpected visit.”
‘Maybe they found out about your hidden stash of illegal items and you’re going to Azkaban? Probably not the case but a girl can dream.’ I noticed the other three Ministry employees discreetly move. I recognized what they were doing almost immediately.
“Are you expecting us to attack?” I asked incredulously. The three stopped moving as Shacklebolt focused his attention on me again.
“What makes you ask that?” he asked in a calculating manner.
“You’re forming a basic, small scale, crowd control perimeter around us,” I pointed out in a bored voice. I saw the others share a look. Shacklebolt still seemed to be planning his next move.
“Didn’t realize thirteen year olds knew about these kinds of things,” he said at last.
“I read a lot.”
“I can assure you, no one in this house would have reason to attack a Ministry employee,” Lucius said smoothly while sending me a quick glare.
‘Yea,’ I thought to myself, ‘you’re as harmless as a bunny rabbit.’ I resisted the urge to roll my eyes.
“Would you mind answering some questions Mr. Malfoy?”
“Of course not. Anything I can do to assist the Ministry.”
Shacklebolt took out a pad of paper and a quill. “Where have each of you been over the past 24 hours?” he began.
Ok, one thing I’ve learned over my life is that being asked to account for your whereabouts is never a good sign. Also, Aurors don’t just pick a random house to investigate. Sure I bet with all the stuff Lucius was involved with at least half of it was illegal. And yeah, I wouldn’t be surprised if Aurors had shown up to question him. Something about this and my 3am wake up call made me uneasy though. Oh, Lucius is glaring at me again, in fact everyone was watching me now. Bugger, I had zoned out.
“I was here,” I said casually.
“You sure?” Auror Bell asked.
“Very sure. Why does it matter?” I questioned. Instead of answering me, Shacklebolt spoke again.
“No apparition, portkeys, or Floo calls?”
“Draco made a couple of calls to friends yesterday. Nothing more than that,” Narcissa told him
“Crabbe and Goyle,” Draco answered.
“Around what time?”
“Er…2-3 in the afternoon.”
“Besides receiving the paper, yes,” said Lucius, obviously annoyed. “Is there a particular reason for these questions?”
Shacklebolt looked up from his writing. He glanced at Bell before speaking. “Last night there was a breakout.”
“A breakout? Breakout of where?” Lucius questioned.
I froze. Something inside of me felt paralyzed. ‘No, he couldn’t have…’ I opened my mental shield for a fraction of a second. Bars, cell, still in Azkaban. A bit of relief flooded my body knowing my father was still looked away. It was gone a second later when I realized who the escaped prisoner must have been.
“My mother?” I whispered.
Narcissa looked shocked and turned to Shacklebolt to confirm this. He was eyeing me with his calculating look again. I could sense suspicion and just the smallest touch of pity.
“Why do you ask about her first?” he asked.
I paused. Something about his tone felt like a trap. “Because you’re here,” I said carefully. “She has family here. You think she would contact us first.”
“Your father has family here too,” Shacklebolt pointed out.
I realized my mistake. I knew my father was still locked up and had dismissed him immediately, only questioning my mother. Saying I knew he was still in his cell wasn’t an option though. I should have voiced concern over both parents. ‘Come on, focus, that was an amateur mistake,’ I should have been smarter than that. Time to do some quick repair work.
“My mother has more reason to come here, my father doesn’t. He’d go elsewhere, the Lestrange Estate most likely.” That sounded reasonable.
“You think Madame Lestrange would help him?” Shacklebolt asked curiously.
“Without a doubt,” I responded instantly. “She’s a bit…you know…touched in the head. She’d probably throw a feast welcoming her precious son home.”
My grandmother really was a nutter. Thankfully I’d only spent a bit of time with her when I was younger. She adored her sons, believed they were superior wizards for the deep loyalty they had shown to the Dark Lord. She thought the only good muggle was a dead muggle and she wasn’t afraid to voice her pure blood elitist views either. Yeah, she was a real nutter alright. This was part of the reason I’d been sent to live with the Malfoys, even a decade ago someone at the Ministry had recognized that she was unfit to raise me. The years hadn’t mellowed her at all.
“A bit of an obvious place to go, isn’t it?” Shacklebolt asked skeptically.
“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,” I said honestly. I voiced my original question, “My mother escaped?
Shacklebolt glanced up at me. “No.” Ok, now I was as annoyed as Lucius.
“Then why are you here?” I questioned.
“We’re questioning all family or connections.”
“Who escaped?” an irritated Lucius asked.
‘They think Sirius Black….’ ‘Name’s Sirius Black’ ‘Sirius Black is responsible…’ ‘I want Sirius Black…’ ‘Find Black…’ ‘…Sirius…’ ‘…Black…’
I discreetly shook my head trying to clear it. It had been a long time since something like that happened. I focused on the conversation in the room while blocking out the echoes in my head.
“…still investigating the details,” Shacklebolt was saying.
“I see,” Lucius said. “I can assure you that no one in this house would assist Black.”
Shacklebolt said nothing but I had a sense he didn’t believe Lucius. It was reassuring that at least a few people in the Ministry had enough common sense not to trust him.
“You have wards placed around your house?” Shacklebolt asked.
“Would you mind if we had a look at them?”
I had a slight feeling that Lucius would have liked to snap at them to leave. Maybe it was just all my years living here that let me identify his moods. He wasn’t however, foolish enough to flat out deny a request from Ministry employees, especially a pair of Aurors.
“Not at all,” Lucius said standing. “Our house elf, Pip can assist. He tends to the grounds.”
Shacklebolt stood as he tucked his pad of paper and quill away. “If any of you see or are contacted by Black or have any information at all, you will notify the Ministry immediately, correct?”
“Instantly,” Lucius answered. It must have sounded too offhand to Shacklebolt because he continued.
“If we learn about anyone that’s had contact, they will be charged with aiding an escapee and face time in Azkaban.”
Lucius sensed the underlying threat because he turned to directly look Shacklebolt in the eye and told him in a firm voice, “My family will not be assisting Black in anyway. We WILL inform the Ministry should we have any information.”
Both Lucius and Shacklebolt left the room and the two Department of Magical Law Enforcement wizards followed. Auror Bell lingered a bit longer and I felt his eyes watching me. I ignored him and after a minute he left with a quiet “Ma’am” to Narcissa.
Narcissa stood and called for Milly. The house elf popped into the room. “Mistress is needing Milly?”
“Make some breakfast.”
“Yes, Mistress,” the elf squeaked while bowing. She popped away again.
“They’re going to be watching the house,” I commented, looking out one of the windows.
“Yes, most likely,” Narcissa agreed.
I stood up and left the room mentally debating whether I felt more comfortable at Hogwarts with Dumbledore watching or here with the Ministry watching.