Chapter 1 : Chapter 1
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On paper Sirius Black and I probably seemed very similar. We were both from old pureblood families who had generations of Slytherins. We were both sorted into Gryffindor, both disowned, both judged on our last names. We were unjustly treated because of situation that nearly everyone didn’t have the true facts about. I will admit twelve years in Azkaban for murder is much worse than being expelled from three schools. Still, there were so many similarities. We were related too, and not like fourth cousin’s aunt twice removed. My mother and Sirius Black were first cousins. We even shared a few physical features. We should have gotten along, right? Too bad Black was an obnoxious, arrogant, hypocritical git with a holier-than-thou personality. Yeah, twelve years in Azkaban for a crime he didn’t commit was brutal, but if he didn’t shut up I was going to punch him in the face.
You’re probably wondering how I ended up with Black. That was one of Dumbledore’s brilliant ideas and to my great disgust, Snape had agreed. I couldn’t possibly spend two months in Bulgaria, what if something happened? What if I had another episode? I’d spent all of ten hours at the Bulgarian Ministry only to be sent back to England and given a room at Number 12 Grimmauld Place or as I liked to think of it, The Most Soul Crushing Bachelor Pad in all of England, Possibly Europe. (It’s a bit of a long name.) My roommates – Sirius Black, Azkaban escapee and currently most wanted criminal in England. Kreacher, a batty old house elf who had a disturbing obsession with me because I looked like my mother, who he was apparently in love with. Lastly, Remus Lupin because there had to be someone to stop the rest of us from strangling each other. Unfortunately the full moon was in a week and Lupin would be gone for several days. Even with the Wolfsbane he didn’t want to risk transforming in the house…prison…whichever you preferred to call it.
Lupin, Black, and I were cleaning up Grimmauld Place, which was actually the Black family home, for the Order of the Phoenix, Dumbledore’s squad of mostly Gryffindor justice fighters. And by ‘justice fighters’ I mean people who met in secret every few days to talk about whatever it was they were doing. I didn’t care what the Order was up to, only two parts concerned me. Was the Dark Lord planning on freeing Azkaban soon and did anyone mention anything about me? Snape would tell me anyways so I didn’t need to spy on Order meetings.
Most of my time was spent in the room that had been set up for me. And when I wasn’t there I was probably cleaning. Grimmauld Place had been deserted for years, besides Kreacher, and it was filthy. Black, Lupin, and I had formed our own routine where Black and I spent hardly any time in the same room. He and Lupin would remove cursed items, junk, or pretty much anything non essential from a room then I would wash, dust, and tidy up the rest of the room once they had moved on to the next room. Considering the awkward, tense and just plain frustrating time we had when the three of us cleaned the kitchen together, this routine was far more ideal. In fact we’d already cleaned four bedrooms and a bathroom. Not bad for a weeks worth of work, especially when Kreacher was fond of nicking items and trying to put them back.
Suddenly there was a knock on my bedroom door. I’d already eaten, so it wasn’t Lupin telling me dinner was ready. “Go away, I’m using the loo,” I called out in a bored voice, not even bothering to move from my laying position on the bed. The door opened anyways and Snape stepped in.
“If you’re going to lie at least make it believable.”
“You’d look mighty foolish if I’d convinced Kreacher to install a bathroom in here,” I replied as Snape closed the door.
“You believe he would do that for you?” Snape asked doubtfully.
“I have to lock the bedroom door every night so he doesn’t try and snuggle with me at two in the morning. Scared the hell out of me the first night.”
“How are you?”
“Alive and conscious so I suppose I can’t complain.”
Snape frowned and pulled out the chair from the desk. Before sitting down he grabbed the black note book I’d left on the desk. It was my journal that Snape would read every few days. He flipped through a few pages before speaking again.
“I can’t help but feel you are holding back,” he cautiously stated.
“I didn’t think you needed two hours of witty internal commentary as I scrubbed the bathtub.”
Snape didn’t look pleased. “You are allowed to show emotion.” Not this again.
“I wrote down a few zingers about Black, couple about Moody too, purely for your benefit,” I responded, ignoring what he’d said.
“Would you prefer I listened to sad music and cried myself to sleep every night?” I asked sarcastically.
“I would prefer if you didn’t bottle everything up –”
“I’m not. Scrubbing walls and floors is very therapeutic.”
“I think I would find it more reassuring if you were acting as if you had a chip on your shoulder,” he said wearily.
“I have full functioning limbs, I’m confident that I’m in control of my own mind, I have a place to spend two months and a few pork chops in my stomach. I don’t have a reason to have a chip on my shoulder.”
“I believed once you were removed from Hogwarts you would deal with things, I can see now that is not the case.”
“I don’t have anything to deal with unless you’re about to tell me Azkaban will have a mass breakout.” Snape let out a frustrated sigh before leaving, taking my journal with him.
I knew what he thought I had to deal with – Fred Weasley. I hadn’t spoken to him since the day of the third task. I’m not even sure how I managed to avoid him for the last few days of term. Sleeping in a classroom for one night probably helped. After that Viktor found me and he offered me a bed on the Durmstrang ship. I didn’t step foot in the Great Hall and I went the longest possible way to class, avoiding everyone but the students I had lessons with. I skipped the Farewell Feast as well, leaving Hogwarts with Obolensky hours before the Hogwarts Express left Hogsmeade. And I most certainly hadn’t gone to Gryffindor tower. I asked Dobby to bring me my trunk instead of getting it for myself. Cowardly? Probably. Effective? Definitely.
I wouldn’t be able to avoid Fred next year though. A little less than seven weeks and I would see him again. What would happen then? He’d likely accuse me of being dishonest to him, which was incorrect. I hadn’t lied to him, didn’t I tell him upfront that I had secrets? Secrets that I could never share? All that had changed was him learning one of those secrets. Nothing about me had changed. I had no reason to ‘deal with things’ like Snape said. Unfortunately no matter how many times I told myself this, I couldn’t stop feeling guilty.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
“Nothing I say is going to change Dumbledore’s mind.”
“React then,” Snape said, irritated.
“Dumbledore’s allowed to do what he wants.” Snape let out an annoyed growl and ripped the book I was reading from my hands, throwing it against the wall. “I was reading that.”
“Do something,” he commanded.
“I don’t know what you want me to do.”
“Throw something! Go down and punch Dumbledore! Scream! Start cursing at everything! Challenge me to a duel! Just do something that shows me you’re still listening!”
“That isn’t going to change anything.”
“I have seen you enraged, fueled by anger, hell-bent on destroying anything and everything around you. And I’ve seen you at your very worst, so lost and trapped in despair that you didn’t even want to live anymore. But I have never seen you like this. This isn’t you.”
“What do you want me to say? That for the first time since I was eight, I was happy? That I had something to look forward to each morning? That I found a reason to like being around people again and I finally thought this was reason enough to face every person who looked down on me? That for a few months I actually believed I didn’t have to spend the rest of my life alone? Is that what you want to hear?” I asked bitterly.
“It’s not over. Twice already you’ve been convinced it’s over and both times you were wrong. Stop giving up so easily!”
As much as I wanted to believe Snape, I didn’t see how Fred Weasley was going to accept this. I was connected to my father, a Death Eater. I could look into his mind and if I wasn’t careful I could even be trapped inside of it. I could be gradually influenced by every Death Eater out there and I always had to worry about latching onto them. Fred would have to be insane to accept it. There was something else though, something I couldn’t get over.
“I don’t want him to be like Draco. I can’t go through that again, I won’t make it,” I muttered, staring down at the floor.
“Draco?! Draco who watches you everyday?! Draco who’s been trying since third year to get you to notice him?! Draco who bites his tongue every time he sees someone insult you?! Draco who even after this many years still sends you a chocolate frog every single birthday and who you do the same for every June?! Open your eyes and look around! You never lost Draco. You just won’t take the risk. You’re too afraid of being hurt that you’ll never take a chance at being happy. You’re a coward.”
“You don’t understand,” I said furiously. “It’s not as simple as that.”
“I want you to ask yourself this, can you live with yourself knowing that you didn’t do every single thing possible to get what you want? Or will you wake up every day regretting it?”
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
I was ridiculously torn. There was no way around it now. Ignoring it until September first would have been fine but Dumbledore, who I was beginning to think did everything he could to aggravate me, had asked the Weasley family to come and stay at Grimmauld Place. Maybe he thought it would stop me and Black from cursing each other while Lupin was away. I guess whatever Dumbledore’s reasoning was, it didn’t matter anymore, I would be facing Fred very soon no matter what. It had been two days since Snape told me and I was no more prepared now than I’d been that night.
Part of me felt like I didn’t need to give Fred any explanation, he could accept what he learned or not. The other part felt like I had to explain. The problem with that was I would have to give him some back story to help put it in context so he would understand why. I also couldn’t stop myself from thinking that maybe, just maybe Fred was safer without me. Of course this was absolutely stupid to think, even Snape would say that. The Weasleys were known Dumbledore and Potter supporters, they’d be in danger no matter what. Snape had been right about me being a coward, I was terrified that Fred wouldn’t care no matter what I told him, he’d be done with me either way.
I shouldn’t even be worrying about this. The Dark Lord was back, the Ministry refused to accept it, there was likely a war coming and any day the Death Eaters in Azkaban could be freed. Not to mention I was still trying to sort out the whole chess game and talk with Snape from last June. Yet here I was worrying about whether or not Fred Weasley was still going to like me. I was pathetic.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Tonight the Weasleys along with Hermione were arriving. Hermione was bright, resourceful, and persistent to the point of being annoying. I knew she’d ask a dozen different questions and after Snape had explained away my behavior during the third task, I wasn’t about to risk saying something that would make her suspicious again. My usual defense against pestering questions was sarcasm or just outright rudeness. I couldn’t risk that with Fred though or it would definitely lead to a fight.
There was a knock on my door and I let out a sigh before letting down my mental barrier to Snape and telling him he could come in. It was kind of sad that I was already able to tell the difference between Snape’s and Lupin’s knocking since they were the only two to ever seek me out.
Snape entered the room, placing the usual spells on the door and walls before speaking. “How are you?”
“Worried.” I would have liked to add a sarcastic ‘isn’t that what you wanted?’ or ‘happy now?’ but I couldn’t bring myself to do it.
Snape stepped over to the small table that was set up in the corner. He examined the Wolfsbane potion I’d been tasked with making for Lupin. “This looks well done for your first batch,” he said, giving me a rare compliment.
“Are you really here to grade my potion making skills?” I asked in a bored voice.
“No, I suppose not.”
“Would you like me to stay for dinner?” I looked up at him skeptically.
“You hate Black.”
“Yes well, he makes it very easy to. I am still offering to stay if you would like.”
I watched him closely, surprised by his offer. Did he want to stay? Probably not. Did I want him to stay? Hmm. “You hate the Weasleys,” I pointed out.
“I don’t hate them. Strongly dislike perhaps.”
I let out a cynical laugh. “The only one you could probably stand was Percy.”
“Actually I found him rather snobbish and nosy. It was quite off putting. And it may be wise not to bring him up around the Weasley parents.”
“Apparently they’ve had a falling out. The young Weasley was offered a position in Fudge’s office and did not appreciate his father pointing out that Fudge was just looking for a spy. And then young and seemingly blind to reality Weasley declared his allegiance to the Ministry.”
“Huh,” I responded while wondering how many other Ministry employees would support Fudge and who would believe Dumbledore. There was one person in particular that came to mind.
“You still have not answered my original question,” Snape said, interrupting my thoughts.
“No. I can handle it,” I replied even though I wasn’t entirely sure that I could. “You’re a bit of a threatening presence.”
“The Weasley twins have never found me threatening despite my numerous attempts throughout the years,” Snape said after scoffing.
“I’ll be fine,” I assured him. A sudden idea popped into my head. “Would you do something else for me?” I asked before he left.
“What do you need?”
“I want you to suggest someone for Dumbledore to recruit for the Order.”
I could easily see that Snape hadn’t expected to hear that. It was a minute before he asked “Who?”
I think Snape was trying to decide if I was being serious. “Is there a particular reason you are suggesting him?” he finally asked.
“I’ve got a good hunch?”
“Not that I’m insulting your choice, however may I ask the motivation behind this?”
“Isn’t being a competent senior Auror reason enough?” Snape was holding back, I was certain of it. “Why don’t you just come out and say whatever you’re thinking?”
“You’re not telling me something.”
“I don’t tell you a lot of things yet you have an annoying habit of figuring most of it out.”
“No, you’re getting better at keeping things from me. I’ve let it slide believing it was just the usual things involved with growing up. I’m becoming more and more convinced that is not the case.”
“You should trust me to keep you informed about the important information.”
“Just because you do not see something as important does not mean it is not. That was the entire purpose of your journal.”
“I’m writing down everything relevant. Internal debates about Fred and me reviewing older memories aren’t necessary for you to read.”
“If some of these older memories are from Death –”
“You can’t be certain about that.”
“I am absolutely, one hundred percent without a doubt certain they are not.”
The sound of people coming up the stairs interrupted our conversation. The Weasleys had arrived and were most likely storing their trunks in their designated rooms before heading to the kitchen for dinner. Snape glanced at the door before turning his focus back to me.
“Trust me.” It felt a bit cheap using the trust card but I couldn’t think of a satisfactory answer for Snape. “I am telling you everything I need to. If I need to tell you more I will. I know you don’t think I’m dealing with everything but I promise I am. Even if it’s a bit slow.”
“Dumbledore is going to question why I brought up Shacklebolt.”
“Tell him I suggested it.”
“He’ll question why you brought it up.”
“Good. I could use a good ol’ vague Dumbledore chat.”
“You’re playing a risky game,” Snape warned.
“Yes, I’m the one risking my life everyday by pretending to be loyal to a psychopath so I can gather vital and life saving information,” I said sarcastically.
“You have an annoying habit of turning obnoxious,” Snape responded, glaring at me. “Please don’t do anything stupid,” he added as an after thought.
“Do I ever?” Instead of answering he just rolled his eyes and headed for the door. “Oi!” I exclaimed, following him.
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