Thursday morning came and like my first two days at Hogwarts, I woke up at 5 a.m. Unlike yesterday though, I wasn’t excessively worrying about Draco. Yesterday, Pansy Parkinson had been fawning over him every time I saw them. After I’d seen that Draco was fine I started ignoring them. I wasn’t on speaking terms with Draco, I needed to stop constantly worrying about him. There were so many other things on my mind, one of them being Neville Longbottom.
During Herbology yesterday, I had learned he was a Gryffindor. I’d been so taken off guard when Professor Sprout called his name that I nearly destroyed the plant I was supposed to be pruning. I had known Neville was a Hogwarts student, even in the same year as me. In the same house though?
That guilt I’d always felt from being a Lestrange came back stronger than before. I tried not to look at him, the few times I had, all I could see were his parents. Now, even sitting at Gryffindor table felt wrong, like I was mocking their memory by being sorted into this house. I kept quiet during classes, choosing to sit alone. At meals I ate quickly and left. I spent the rest of my time in my dorm room, reading and thinking. My homework was quickly building up, tonight I really needed to get some of it done. With that plan in mind I sat down for breakfast.
Looking over my schedule I saw that today I had Potions. That shouldn’t be too horrible. Concentrating on a potion would be good. Unfortunately I also had Defense Against the Dark Arts after lunch. There was still something about Lupin that bothered me. Rubbing my shoulder, I grabbed a few muffins, determined to stay focused on eating first.
Too bad that didn’t last long.
Half way through the second muffin a giant black owl swooped down in front of me. After dropping my mail it took off. A red envelop sat in front of me. ‘Great, a Howler.’ I knew who it was from. Sometime between Draco, new classes, and Neville Longbottom I had overlooked this impending message.
I could see other students noticing the red envelope too. They were telling their neighbors at the table about it, pointing and nodding at me. I could even hear a few whispers. Why did it have to be a Howler? ‘Here goes nothing’ I thought, opening it up.
“HOW DARE YOU!” My grandmother’s voice caught the attention of every person in the room. “THIRTEEN GENERATIONS, THAT’S WHAT YOU RUINED! THIRTEEN GENERATIONS OF OUR PURE BLOOD BEING IN SLYTHERIN HOUSE AND I RECEIVE A LETTER SAYING YOU’VE BEEN SORTED INTO GRYFFINDOR?! YOU DISGUSTING LITTLE BLOOD TRAITOR! IF YOUR FATHER WAS HERE HE’D CURSE YOU SO EVEN THAT MUDBLOOD LOVING FOOL DUMBLEDORE WOULDN’T BE ABLE TO CURE YOU! IS THAT WHO YOU’LL BE WORSHIPPING NOW?! ALBUS A-DISGRACE-TO-PUREBLOODS-EVERYWHERE DUMBLEDORE! WILL YOU BE PLAYING NICE WITH THOSE MUDBLOOD BOYS, PLANNING ON TAINTING THE BLOOD OF THE LESTRANGE FAMILY?! DO YOU THINK I’LL ALLOW YOU TO USE THE LESTRANGE FORTUNE ON FILTHY MUGGLES?! I’D RATHER WATCH THE LINE DIE THAN HAVE YOU EVER SEE ANOTHER KNUT OF IT! YOUR FATHER AND UNCLE KNEW WHAT IT TOOK TO BE PROPER PUREBLOODS! THEY GAVE UP EVERYTHING TO PURGE THE WORLD OF MUGGLE FILTH! I WILL NOT STAND BY AND WATCH YOU DESTROY THAT! YOU ARE DISOWNED FROM THE LESTRANGE FAMILY! YOU WILL NEVER BE PERMITTED ON THE FAMILY ESTATE! IF YOU EVER TRY AND TOUCH ANYTHING IN MY FAMILY’S POSSESSION AGAIN, I’LL MAKE SURE THEY FIND YOU IN THE GUTTER, WHERE FILTH LIKE YOU AND THE MUDBLOODS BELONG!”
The Howler turned to ash and fell onto my plate. I sat there for a minute, glad to be facing the wall. No one was speaking but I could feel all of their eyes on me. Merlin, I hate attention, especially now. Running from the hall wasn’t an option, I wasn’t going to act as if I was distraught from the Howler. So I did the only logical thing I could think of, I swept the ash off my plate and served myself some eggs as I popped the rest of my muffin in my mouth. My movement seemed to wake the others up and whispering spread quickly throughout the Hall. Ignoring it, I poured myself some pumpkin juice.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
The rest of the morning was a blur. One minute I was brewing a shrinking solution, the next I was at lunch, then off to Defense. No one had spoken directly to me all day but I briefly took notice of the stares and whispers that followed me. In fact it wasn’t until our Defense class entered the Staff Room and I heard Snape’s voice that I fully paid attention to my current surroundings.
“Leave the door open Lupin. I’d rather not watch Longbottom destroy anything else, unless Miss Granger is whispering directions in his ear,” Snape said snidely, standing up.
“Actually I had planned for Neville to assist me with my demonstration for the rest of the class. I am sure he will succeed remarkably against the boggart that has taken up residence in the wardrobe,” Lupin said kindly.
My mind narrowed in on the word ‘boggart.’ I cringed and carefully stepped to the back of the room. When Lupin turned around I quickly slipped out the door that Snape had just left through. I quietly closed the door and turned around.
“Bloody hell,” I whispered, jumping a bit. Snape had been about two steps behind me. He raised an eyebrow at me.
“Skipping class already?”
“Boggarts aren’t really my thing.”
He scoffed and headed down the corridor. He turned and beckoned me to follow him. When I caught up he tapped his wand on my head. I felt the Disillusionment Charm trickle over me.
We walked down to the dungeons and into his office. He ordered me to sit as he placed a locking charm on the door and silencing spells on the walls. As he sat behind his desk and I wondered what he would start off with.
“What happened at Salem?” was his first question.
“Isn’t that in my file?”
“I want to hear it from you, not what that dolt of a Headmaster said.” I couldn’t help myself, I smiled. “Why are you smiling?” he asked callously.
“Narcissa’s always telling me I’m rude and brush people off as obnoxious or idiots. Being around you makes me feel like I’m walking around passing out sweets and kissing babies.”
“Most people are obnoxious or idiots,” Snape responded.
“That, right there, is why I enjoy being around you,” I said as I looked around his office.
“Hmm…you still haven’t answered my question.”
“I ran into some obnoxious idiots?” I said turning back to him. He looked even more annoyed.
“More detail, if you will.”
“It’s a bit of a ‘rich kids get away with everything’ story. It’s not particularly original,” I told him while rubbing my shoulder and looking back around the room.
“There are a bunch of rich kids. Of course they’re the most popular kids in school. Most of the other kids try to impress them. Others just try and stay out of their way. Unfortunately some kids get singled out. Their teeth are too big, they’re a bit chubby, or their clothes are old. Something that stands out enough to make them perfect targets for bullying.”
“You were one of those kids?”
“Me? No. I was in the very small fifth group of kids who just don’t give a damn. I kept to myself. Not like I care if a bunch of spoiled rich kids like me.”
“I see,” Snape said, indicating that I should continue on.
“One kid, Eddie Stewart, he was one of those kids who got picked on. Must have had a dozen or so pranks pulled on him. Course they never had enough information to punish someone, so the pranks kept happening. I guess one day he had enough. So he attacked a group of the rich kids. Managed to take down one with a nasty curse. Still though, three against one now, he didn’t really have a chance. So me, being reckless and naive, jumped in. I took out one, but the leader shot a dark curse at Eddie before I got to him. Taking out another one I got hit in the back and knocked out. I don’t know what spell it was, I had planned on looking it up this year actually, but it knocked me out for the day. When I woke up they were all telling the same story. I had attacked them all and used dark curses. It was the only way they could explain everyone’s injuries without them all getting in trouble.”
“Went along with it. Got accepted into the cool kids club actually. Like I said, there was only one way they could explain everyone’s injuries without them all getting in trouble.”
“You didn’t say anything? Didn’t even try to defend yourself?”
“No. I’d watched all year and done nothing. When I do, it all goes to hell. Honestly I didn’t want to be there anymore. They were worse than the kids at Durmstrang and that’s saying a lot.”
“I suppose I can see your reasoning.” Snape sat in silence for a minute before speaking again. “What happened with Lucius?”
I tapped my fingers on the arm of the chair. “He’s Lucius, what else do you expect?”
“I asked you in the past if he was abusing you. You told me it only happened once.”
“You made me an excellent liar, what did you expect?”
“I didn’t teach you Occlumency so you could hide Lucius’s abuse.”
“I’m not afraid of Lucius Malfoy.”
“It’s not about fear. He dislocated your arm. Next time he could break a bone, puncture a lung, give you a concussion. How far does he have to go before you say anything? Or are you trying to die before your 20th birthday?”
“He only dislocated my shoulder because I broke his jaw,” I said defensively.
“You broke his jaw?” Snape asked, taken aback.
“Well probably not broke,” I admitted. “Hit hard enough to make him bleed though.”
“That still doesn’t excuse your injures.”
“There’s nothing else we can do about it. You and I both know we’ve gone too far to get anyone else involved,” I said bluntly.
Snape sighed knowing I was right. “You need to inform me of all injuries immediately,” he said firmly. I rubbed my shoulder knowing he was only trying to protect me. “Are you in pain?”
“Huh?” I looked at him confused.
“You’ve been rubbing your shoulder for the past three days.” I frowned realizing I had, in fact, just been rubbing it.
“Bad habit,” I said putting my hand down.
“Jade, if you’re in pain-“
“I’m really not. I’m actually sort of relieved and rather close to the verge of happiness,” I told him truthfully.
“You have a unique way of showing it,” Snape said dryly.
I rubbed my head as I tried to put my emotions into words. “I’m free. I don’t have to live up to her standards. I don’t have to read her letters about failing to live up to the family name. I don’t even have to see her again. Never step foot in that house again. It’s quite liberating. After me, the line just dies out. There will never be another Lestrange again. It’s a good feeling, being the last one.” I was surprised that being removed from the Lestrange family would have this affect on me.
“You realize the goblins will get all of the gold once your father and uncle die.”
“Let ‘em have it. Money doesn’t matter.” Snape looked me over as though I had taken one too many drinks. “I really feel great,” I assured him, laughing a bit.
“Perhaps you can use this feeling for your next patronus.”
“Look at you,” I said, in what I must admit was a very patronizing voice, “and your clever segues.”
“It’s an acquired skill,” he responded flatly.
“Lupin told Dumbledore?”
“Of course, did you expect different?”
“You have peaked Dumbledore’s interest.”
“That doesn’t sound creepy at all.”
“I assume your mentioning of Neville Longbottom and being sorted into Gryffindor didn’t help matters,” Snape continued like he hadn’t heard me. That familiar guilt of being in the same house as Neville came back. “DON’T” Snape snapped at me. I looked up at him. “You’re supposed to be happy, didn’t you just say that? Feeling guilty over Longbottom is a waste of time.”
“You can have all the empathy you want for him. Guilt however, is useless. You did nothing wrong. You have no reason to be guilty.”
“Were two years old. There is nothing you could have done to stop what happened. You already have your share of unnecessary guilt, stop adding the Longbottoms to your list.”
“It’s not unnecessary to me.”
“Of course, the ‘lone suffering hero.’ How terribly cliché for a Gryffindor.”
“You’re upset I was sorted into Gryffindor,” I said quietly.
He watched me for a minute then scoffed. “There wasn’t any other house for you. Ravenclaw and Slytherin were out for obvious reasons and with your personality, Hufflepuff never would have happened. There’s also the fact that being in Gryffindor is an advantage at the moment.”
“Advantage?” I asked, not understanding.
“Feel free to expand on this.”
Snape looked bored with having to explain himself. “Granger.”
“What about her?” he rolled his eyes. “We don’t all live in a world were we plot diabolical plans at least every day.”
“Don’t let Gryffindor make you soft,” Snape said disgusted. “Your diabolical plans are half the reason I find you so interesting.”
“Here I thought it was my sunny disposition.” Snape rolled his eyes again.
“Hermione Granger never met a question she didn’t know the answer to. She has an annoying habit of regurgitating text books even when you deliberately don’t ask her a question.” Now I rolled my eyes, she didn’t seem that bad, though she did seem very fond of answering every question a teacher asked. “She gets the attention a know-it-all usually receives. I assume with her in all of your classes, you can keep a low profile and your grades will slip by.”
“I could always just dumb myself down,” I suggested.
“That doesn’t particularly help you though, does it?”
“Do you actually mean that or are you looking to knock Hermione down a peg or two?”
“Can’t it be both?”
“You’re jealous,” I said accusingly.
“Hardly,” Snape scoffed.
“She’s smart and in a different house. You could use her to pad Slytherin points,” I teased. Snape looked revolted. “Too many Slytherins with a troll or two lurking in their family tree?” I asked sarcastically
“You have no idea,” Snape said miserably. “I don’t even think half of them can read.”
“Pureblood breeding at its best,” I said laughing.
“Well I’m glad your happy mood is back.”
“Oh,” I said suddenly thinking of something. “The Ministry visited a few weeks back.”
“Yes, I received a visit also.”
“They were watching the house, probably still are.”
“I had assumed they were doing the same for me. Out of curiosity, who came by?”
“Shacklebolt was the only one I knew.”
“He is one of the better Aurors. I assume you were cautions.”
“He nearly tripped me up. I thought it was my mother who had escaped. I covered it well though.”
“Hmm…I would suggest more caution, especially around Dumbledore.”
“I’ll keep that in mind.”
“Speaking of Dumbledore, should you be called into see him or even McGonagall for that matter, I would appreciate being able to witness it. I may be able to see clues in their behavior that you cannot. Of course this is only if you can keep an Occlumency shield up against Dumbledore.”
I nodded. “Do I have to worry about McGonagall?”
“No. You should have something to tell Lupin when you return though. Something pity inducing. That is sure to disarm him.” From his tone I could tell that Snape had less than favorable feelings towards Lupin.
“I’ll think of something to tell him,” I said standing up. “I’ll make it believable.”
“You always do.”
“Always.” I grabbed my bag off the floor. “Hey, who did the Ministry send over to your place?” I asked curiously.
“Rufus Scrimgeour, Head of the Auror Department.” I thought about the name for a minute, trying to place it. I remembered walking by his desk over ten years ago. “Of course you remember him,” Snape said dryly.
“Always,” I said tapping my head.
I left his office and immediately used a Disillusionment Charm. After I made my way back up to the Staff Room I sat on the floor intending to claim I had been here the whole time. I didn’t have much time to think of a story before the class filed out. They seemed wound up and enthusiastic which was the last feeling I’d have after facing a boggart. Thankfully none of them spotted me. I stayed seated on the floor until Professor Lupin entered the corridor.
He glanced around and spotted me easily enough. It wasn’t like I was trying to hide from him. I knew even on his first day teaching this class he would notice a student missing. He frowned and took a few steps towards me.