“Miss Lestrange,” was all Lupin said. Something about his tone made me immediately think of Dimitri, which bothered me.
“Professor Lupin,” I responded, standing up.
“Perhaps we should discuss this in my office.” I nodded and silently followed him. I should have spent the walk thinking of a story. It would have been the smart thing to do. There was just something that nagged my mind about him though.
He indicated that I should enter his office first and told me to take a seat. I thought of what I was going to say, Snape said to use pity. It made me a bit uneasy that I would already start lying my first week here but I didn’t have a lot of choices.
“I was told Professor Dumbledore informed you that you would be held to strict guidelines.” That surprised me. Somehow being expelled from Hogwarts after three days for skipping a class hadn’t crossed my mind. Snape had made Lupin sound soft, apparently he was wrong.
“Yes,” I said contemplating the idea that Lupin might not be as easily manipulated as I imagined.
“You have no explanation for this?”
“It was better this way.”
“I hardly think skipping classes is better for you or your future at Hogwarts.”
“Did you make Potter face the boggart?” I couldn’t imagine any decent teacher letting the kid who had been stalked by the Dark Lord face a boggart. Can you say mass panic?
“How I teach other students is none of your concern.”
“Of course not, he’s Harry Potter,” I said bitterly. “I’m just a Death Eater’s kid.”
“Who someone’s parents are does not affect how I grade them.”
“You’re lying.” I knew it was true. It was always true. “You honestly think I didn’t hear the whispers after I was sorted? That I don’t see how adults look at me when they learn my name. Hell, some of them don’t even need a name, you certainly didn’t on the train. Not everyone gets the nice warm feeling in their hearts that Potter does when you’re told how much you look like your parents.” I stopped, I was being too honest. Far more than I wanted to be.
“I imagine your life as been hard, I can understand-"
“No,” I snapped, “you can’t. Nearly every adult I’ve met in this country gives me one of two looks. Pity or suspicion. I am not going to give every student the chance to do the same.”
Lupin looked confused. A part of me was confused too. I was giving Lupin the truth about my second greatest fear. I usually kept these things to myself. Something about not being able to talk openly to Snape about the Longbottoms made me keep talking. Like telling Lupin would help ease the guilt I’d always felt about them.
“I know what they did to the Longbottoms,” I said quietly. “People think that death is the worst thing imaginable, but it’s not true. Never being able to recognize your family again, never watching your son grow up or even knowing you have a son. Losing yourself is far worse than dying. The same hate, same viciousness, the same evil that drove the Longbottoms into insanity is inside me. And it always will be. Nothing I will ever do will change that. When I see a boggart it will be my parents torturing the Longbottoms. My mother will look at me and her eyes will change to blue. So if you’re asking me if Neville Longbottom watching his parents get tortured, everyone else in class seeing who my parents truly are and having to face the fact that I could be exactly like them is worth skipping class and being expelled for, then yes. Yes it is.”
Lupin stayed quiet for a while. Inside I felt raw. I never admitted these things to people. I kept them to myself so people couldn’t use these truths to hurt me. Here I was telling Lupin more than I ever should. Why?
“You don’t have to be like them,” Lupin said quietly. “The sorting hat put you in Gryffindor for a reason. You get a chance to be your own person.”
“Frank and Alice Longbottom loosing everything so I could wear a red and gold tie seems like a pretty raw deal to me.” I said dully.
“Life isn’t always fair,” Lupin responded.
“Second rule I learned in life,” I said dismissively. Everyone always said life wasn’t fair, why do adults think that’s comforting to people?
“What was the first?” Lupin asked curiously.
“Don’t touch Malfoy heirlooms.” Lupin cracked a small smile.
“You’re stronger than you know.” I scoffed, now Lupin sounded like the Sorting Hat. “Most people would have cracked after that Howler. You pushed it aside and carried on with the day. You weren’t put in Gryffindor house on a whim. I imagine being thrown in here while everyone else has been friends for the past two years is difficult. And Mr. Longbottom being in the same house as well is likely making it seem worse. Give it some time, people will see who you truly are. And anyone who can’t look past your heritage, adult or not, isn’t worth wasting time on anyways.”
“It’s easier to say than do,” I pointed out.
“Most things are. You’re smart, I can easily see that. I’m sure you’ll overcome any obstacles you’re faced with in life.”
His sincerity was rather alarming and uncomfortable for me, especially when I’d grown up with people who were always so superficial on the surface. All I could do was mutter a quick “thank you.”
“I understand this is difficult for you, but you should be prepared to face a boggart for finals. I am here to assist you, but I feel you prefer to handle things on your own. I also expect you to be in class. This time I will let you off easier. The homework was for you to summarize the chapter on boggarts to be handed in on Monday. For your punishment I think a two foot paper on the Patronus spell will suffice.”
A two foot paper on something I already knew about? “Thank you Professor.”
I left Lupin’s office feeling rather confused and very wary. I’d been far too honest for sure. I just didn’t feel like Lupin would be sharing it with all the other teachers. There was also the fact that he was intriguing to me. He reminded me of Dimitri, yet there was something else about him that I wanted to learn.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
The next day a new story was making its way around the school. Neville Longbottom’s boggart had changed into Snape. To make the boggart amusing, Neville dressed the boggart like his grandmother. I was torn between anger at most of the school for laughing about Snape and pity for Longbottom. No one should ever be afraid of their teacher that much. I wondered just how bad Snape treated him that would cause so much fear.
The only upside was that my Howler was becoming old news, at least for most of the students. Leaving Gryffindor tower for my next class I ran into Hermione Granger. “Oh, you’re taking Ancient Runes too?” she asked noticing my textbook.
“Yes.” How many classes was Hermione taking? I’d seen her with Divination and Muggle Studies books too.
“We could go together. We’re the only Gryffindors taking it.”
I nodded and we took off trying to find the classroom. It was quiet between us for a few minutes and then Hermione began talking.
“I’m sorry about your Howler,” she said delicately.
“Don’t be,” I said raising an eyebrow.
“Those were awful things to say to someone.”
“She’s a crazy old lady from an old pureblood family and believes 99% of the world is scum. Really not worth the effort in worrying about what she thinks.”
“Disowning you from your family though, that’s horrible.”
“I assure you, being around her and trying to make her like you is worse.”
“What will you do this summer?”
“I don’t live with her,” I explained, realizing Hermione’s false assumption.
“Oh,” she said sounding surprised. “I just thought…”
“I live with my aunt and uncle.”
“That must be more enjoyable. Er…no offense.” I didn’t bother informing her that a choice between Lucius and a nutter old lady was hardly ‘more enjoyable.’ “That Howler, it was from…?”
“My grandmother.” Hermione nodded as we reached the classroom. The first person I spotted was Draco. He was sitting with another Slytherin. Zabini, that was the guy’s name. The rest of the class was filled with Ravenclaws. Hermione headed to the front of the room immediately. Not having many…ok any, other options, I followed her.
“I’ve never had a class with two other houses before,” Hermione said quietly.
“Probably too few of us taking it this year to make two classes,” I responded.
Professor Babbling entered the room and took attendance. “Welcome to Ancient Runes. Over the next three years we will be studying runes from all different cultures around the world. Some of these will be more difficult than others, can anyone tell me why?” Hermione’s hand shot up. “Yes, Miss Granger.”
“The runes will be in the language of that culture.”
“Correct. English speaking countries will be easier for us. As we study runes outside of these countries, we will need to understand parts of their language as well as decode the runes. If you already have knowledge with the language, that will make things easier. How many of you speak a foreign language? Perhaps not fluently, but you understand quite a bit of it.” Hermione’s hand went up again. “Miss Granger?”
“Ah, the most common one, good.” Babbling said while nodding. “Any others for French?” I raised my hand along with a few others. “Miss Lestrange, Misters Malfoy, Zabini, and Boot. Quite a few this year. Any other languages? Yes, Miss Patil?” I turned to see Parvati’s Ravenclaw twin sister.
“I know a bit of Hindustani from my grandparents,” she said.
“Really? Excellent. That will help more during your fifth year. Any others?” What had Snape said? Holding back didn’t benefit me. I partially raised my hand in the air. “Miss Lestrange, you have another?”
“Well you’re well versed aren’t you?” Babbling said looking surprised.
“And Spanish,” I continued. “German, Greek, Latin, Russian.” I kept going. “Mandarin, Japanese, Bengali, Hebrew, and Arabic.” I was sure the rest of the class was probably staring at me now, it was a bit hard to tell when you’re sitting at the front. Professor Babbling looked skeptical though, she obviously didn’t believe me.
“What would you say your proficiency level is?” she asked.
“Fluent,” I said instantly. “In all of them.”
“That’s twelve languages,” Hermione said taken aback.
“Thirteen if you count English,” I added helpfully. Ok it was a bit cocky, still I hardly ever brag, don’t hold this against me.
“Not many teenagers are that well versed,” Babbling said in German.
“I am not most teenagers,” I responded back in perfect German.
“Quite an impressive feat,” she commented, switching to Mandarin.
“I read a lot of books,” I told her.
“Well,” Babbling said, opting for English. “You and Miss Granger will certainly have an advantage on the group projects.” Then she continued with the rest of her first day lecture.
I noticed beside me that Hermione seemed a little put out. My guess was she was feeling a bit down about not being, from her point of view, the smartest kid in class. Not that I considered myself smarter for knowing more languages. I certainly hadn’t learned them to be smart. It was more of a challenge to myself. Facts and memorizing things were too easy for me.
You see, I had what people call a photographic memory. Every minute of every day, of every month, of every year. I could remember them all since I was two. Every moment of my life since my father had given me this curse on my shoulder. That hadn’t been his intention for sure. I wasn’t sure why it had happened either. Snape had looked into it also, he’d found that botched curses could have strange affects on people, though he’d never found anything similar to mine.
I’ve read thousands of books, from charms to architecture. Curses to poems. Potions to Ministry field manuals. History to plants. I remembered them all. The downside? It got dreadfully boring. That’s where foreign languages came in. They were one of the few things that challenged me. Some where harder than others of course, but that made it even more worth the time. With a new language, even more books were available.
It became a cycle. Focus on a new language and when I became fluent I would read more until I got interested in a different language. I was always reading or trying out new spells. I’m sure to most people I would have seemed obsessive, feeling that I needed to know about everything, not being able to put a book down once I started reading.
That’s not why I did it though. Forcing myself to keep reading kept my mind occupied so I wouldn’t have to think about other things. When you remember every minute of your life you don’t just get the good. You remember all the bad. Being the daughter of Death Eaters and living with Lucius Malfoy tended to give you quite a few bad memories. I’ll always remember how I screamed as the curse landed on my shoulder, the pain, the blood. Every time I look at it I remember. I’ll never forget the faces of Frank and Alice Longbottom. I see them every time I close my eyes. Every time I see Draco, that horrific day replays in my mind, the day that changed everything. Every spasm of pain I’ve ever had, all stored in my mind. And if my Occlumency slips at night, every bad memory will play over and over in my head unless I happen to slip into my fathers mind. Neither way is pleasant to wake up in the morning from.
Sometimes even books didn’t help, that’s when the piano and violin came in. If all else failed, I turned to them. With music you had to focus on the notes. It wasn’t entirely convenient to pull out a violin or find a piano all the time though. And then last year, I get contacted by some Japanese Seer, every other night I spend at her estate, training. I haven’t really got a clue what I’m supposed to be training for but it helps. Some days are worse than others but I make it through.
I didn’t expect being at Hogwarts to change me that much. Sure some things would be different, but I was still that loner kid. The one who reads too much and came off as a sarcastic jerk. ‘Bright, but a bad attitude’ that was how most people saw me. Was being under Albus Dumbledore’s rule going to change me? Probably not.