I needed to stay calm. That was the best way to get this over with. Unfortunately I tended to have issues controlling myself, particularly when angry. I couldn’t risk that this summer or most especially tonight. I could bottle it up tonight if I needed to, probably not the best solution but I wasn’t going to let the extremes take over and risk some sort of nervous breakdown. Tomorrow I would go back to a healthy balance, even if that meant I had to ferociously scrub a few walls to release some pent up anger.
As Snape and I walked down the stairs I could hear Mrs. Weasley and Lupin talking on one of the floors. It sounded like they were sorting out which rooms people should take. I was busy mentally prepping myself for the dinner conversation. It would be better to get all those awkward/personal questions over with tonight and be done with it. Snape, who was in front, stepped onto the landing as someone came around the corner, nearly running into him.
“Professor!” Ginny Weasley gasped, eyes wide from shock.
“Weasley,” Snape greeted in an irritated tone.
“Play nice,” I muttered in Latin, the only language except for English that Snape knew. He turned around to give me a revolted look, allowing Ginny to see me there.
“Jade? I–I didn’t know you were here,” she said surprised.
Snape looked like he was about to give Ginny a scathing remark but I sent a quick mental message. ‘Don’t. I want it over with tonight.’ Snape gave me an annoyed look in return. ‘Things will go smoother this way.’
“Ginny? Did you ask –?” Hermione came around the corner, stopping as soon as she spotted Snape and me. “Oh, er…”
“Severus?” The four of us looked down the next flight of stairs to find Dumbledore staring up at us. To my, and probably Snape’s, great displeasure, Moody was behind him. “I did not realize you were still here. Is everything going well?” he asked curiously. ‘Everything going well?’ was Dumbledore’s way of asking if I was still sane and not about to fly into a psychotic rage. Dumbledore, always the epitome of politeness.
“Yes,” Snape answered, glancing back at me for a moment. “There was something I wished to speak to you about…privately.” Probably Shacklebolt.
Dumbledore nodded before speaking. “I will be returning to Hogwarts shortly, we may speak there unless you would like to stay for dinner.”
“No,” I answered instantly before Snape had even opened his mouth. Everyone turned to look at me. Snape looked like he was strongly resisting the urge to roll his eyes and I’m sure his thoughts could have been summed up as ‘way to play it cool.’ Well more precisely he was probably thinking along the lines of ‘seriously?’ or ‘you’re an idiot.’ It wasn’t that I didn’t want Snape to stay but like I’d already pointed out, things would go smoother if he wasn’t here.
“Not necessary, Headmaster, I will wait for you in your office.” Snape swept down the stairs and out the door Dumbledore had opened for him.
Moody gave a last look around with his magical eye before heading to the door as well. “I need to relieve Jones,” he muttered to Dumbledore as he left.
“Is everyone settled in alright?” Mrs. Weasley asked, coming down the stairs. She stopped when she saw me, looking surprised. I began to wonder just who actually knew I was staying here.
“Why are we all –?” George stopped talking, seeing me too. I looked up at Fred who was standing beside his twin. Fred was wearing a neutral facial expression and refusing to look me in the eye.
“Perhaps we should all convene in the kitchen,” Dumbledore suggested.
I walked down the final flight of stairs and past Dumbledore, going straight for the kitchen. Black was the only one here and he looked up when I entered only to look away with a slight scowl on his face when he saw it was me. I purposely took the seat farthest from him, something I always did.
Seconds later the Weasleys and others started pouring in. First Ginny and Bill, then Mr. and Mrs. Weasley followed by the twins. Ron entered with Hermione as Lupin and Dumbledore brought up the rear. I was surprised that no one said anything about Black, also mildly insulted. Escaped murderer? Yeah sure no problem, let’s have a seat. Me? Let’s all stop and gawk.
“I imagine you’re all hungry,” Lupin said in an attempt to break the tension. “We’ll start on something to eat then, shall we?” Lupin and Mrs. Weasley, along with some help from Bill started preparing a stew as the other Weasleys and Hermione sat down. No one sat within two seats of me. After everyone was settled down Dumbledore spoke.
“I’m sure you’re all wondering why you will be staying here for the remainder of the summer. This has become the Headquarters for the Order of the Phoenix, an organization created to fight against Voldemort. Because of the Ministry’s stance we are a secret organization. I’m sure you’ll all keep this information to yourselves. As you can see, Miss Lestrange is also spending the summer here. It is vital that no one finds out she is here. There are a few other things you should keep in mind. It would seem suspicious should too many owls be seen flying around this area, so please keep your correspondence to a minimum. There is also the risk of owls being intercepted. That is why I am asking especially Miss Granger and you, Ronald, to not say anything about the Order or Headquarters to Harry.” Hermione and Ron looked up, surprised by this.
“When’s Harry coming?” Hermione asked quickly. “I mean, he will eventually, right?”
“There are no current plans for that.” Hermione opened her mouth but Dumbledore cut her off. “Should that change, you will be informed. I should return to Hogwarts, Severus is waiting for me.”
Lupin and Black showed Dumbledore out, returning less than a minute later. Besides Lupin showing Mrs. Weasley where everything was and Mrs. Weasley directing people to help set out the cutlery and plates, no one spoke. It was definitely not one of those comfortable silences either. It was easy to see the Weasley children and Hermione had questions, they were just to shy too ask.
We were all sitting around the table eating the stew Mrs. Weasley made when Hermione wasn’t able to contain her curiosity anymore. “Why is Dumbledore using this house for Order Headquarters?” Everyone looked up at her and she flushed from all of the attention. “I mean, there’s…well it seems like some horrible wizards lived here,” she muttered.
I unsuccessfully tried to cover a laugh thinking that yeah, Sirius Black was pretty horrible. Everyone’s focus shifted over to me now, especially Black who was glaring at me knowing why I found Hermione’s statement so amusing.
“She’s very observant,” I said, still smirking. The others looked confused but Lupin was frowning, much like he normally did.
“Rather rich coming fr –” Black started.
“Sirius,” Lupin warned. Black did not look pleased but closed his mouth. “This is the old Black family home,” Lupin informed them. “Since Sirius is the last one, he’s allowing Dumbledore to use it.”
“You used to live here?” Ron asked, sounding shocked.
“Yes,” Black answered. “My parents were proper pure bloods, that’s why there’s all of the…dark objects. No one’s lived here for over ten years since my mother died, so it’s been difficult trying to clean things up. It’s the best place for Headquarters though, my father placed all sorts of spells and enchantments on the house and with Dumbledore’s added protection it’s probably one of the safest places in all of England.”
“As long as you don’t get killed by something inside the house,” I added in an undertone.
“Funny, I was thinking the exact same thing,” Black said, giving me a pointed glare.
“Enough, both of you” Lupin said firmly. The Weasleys and Hermione glanced around hesitantly. “As you can see, there was a reason for your presence Molly. Certain individuals insist on behaving like children.” Black and I both gave Lupin a dirty look.
Everybody returned to eating silently for ten minutes before I became annoyed. I wanted to get all of the questions about me over with tonight but no one would pluck up the courage to ask even though I was receiving curious glances my way every few seconds. Hermione was literally biting her lip and I was sure she was dying to ask at least twenty different things.
“Just bloody well ask,” I blurted out, roughly putting down my spoon and facing Hermione. Everyone’s eyes were on me again and Hermione went pink when she saw I was speaking to her. “They’re not going to ask,” I said as I gestured to the Weasleys. “Lupin and Black already have Dumbledore for information. So go ahead and just ask.”
“Perhaps this isn’t the best conversation to have while –” Mrs. Weasley said in a disapproving tone.
“I don’t have a problem with it,” I interrupted rudely. “Let’s get it over with.”
“How long have you known Professor Snape?” Hermione asked quickly.
“Since I was four.”
“Why were you expelled from Durmstrang?” Hermione asked next, surprising me. Anything I said would be reported to Dumbledore, who would question Snape. For now, I was ok with that.
“Karkaroff blackmailed me,” I answered. It was pretty much the truth. Unfortunately lying was usually easier because when you do give someone an honest response they end up gaping at you, like right now.
“Blackmailed you how?” Ron asked before looking worriedly at his mother.
“If I told you, that would defeat the purpose of it being blackmail worthy.”
“Viktor said it was because you and Karkaroff didn’t get along,” Hermione said, frowning. “That you were always in trouble or fighting with Karkaroff.”
“That’s true too. Karkaroff and I have a bit of a love-hate relationship. We absolutely love to hate each other.”
Hermione stared down at her plate before asking another question. “Is…is it really you not liking Karkaroff or…?” she questioned hesitantly.
“Or the numerous Death Eaters who have less than warm feelings for him?” I finished for her. “I have enough reason to hate Karkaroff on my own.”
“Why were you expelled from Beauxbatons?”
“Out of all the questions you could possibly ask, why are you so fixated on why I keep getting kicked out of schools?” Hermione shrugged and I rolled my eyes. Weird random questions. “I burned down their library.”
“What?!” Hermione shrieked.
“That hardly seems like something to joke about,” Mrs. Weasley said disapprovingly.
“Who says I’m joking?” I replied seriously. Mrs. Weasley cast a look at Lupin, likely waiting for him to deny that I’d done such a thing but Lupin, who’d seen my school file while teaching, knew that really was the reason I’d been expelled after less than three months. “It wasn’t the whole library,” I added. “A fifth, quarter max.”
“Why burn down a library?” Bill wondered aloud.
“Well I didn’t do it on purpose,” I shot back rudely.
“What about Salem?” I gave Hermione a suspicious look before answering.
“The downside of being a Good Samaritan.” Hermione looked confused so I explained further. “I intervened in a fight, well tried to, then got blamed for it.”
“But that’s not fair!” Ginny exclaimed. “Didn’t they even look into it?”
“Well after two schools people tend to assume the worst about you. Lesson learned though, never try and do the right thing.”
“Aren’t the Malfoys going to be wondering where you are?” Hermione questioned after a pause. “They wouldn’t just allow you to disappear for two months, would they?”
“I’m in Bulgaria.”
“Bulgaria?” Hermione said doubtfully.
“Helping Minister Obolensky give their outdated wizarding school a much needed revamp.”
“Lucius Malfoy believes you’re in Bulgaria for that?”
“I know, it’s completely mental. I think Obolensky offering him money was pretty much the only thing that convinced him. It’s almost sad how easy it was.”
“You managed to convince the Minister of Magic to lie for you?”
“Shocking that someone might actually like me that much, I know.”
“I didn’t mean it like that,” Hermione amended quickly. “It’s just sort of…far fetched, isn’t it?”
“Fair point. I’d like to think it’s one of those stories so unbelievable that it might actually be true. Or Lucius just really likes money…personally I’m leaning towards the money. Lucius might also think he can get more favors out of Obolensky for this, who knows.”
It was silent again and I waited patiently for Hermione to ask any other questions. “Why did you meet Snape when you were four?” she asked after another minute. I had underestimated her. I thought she would need at least a day or two before she started wondering why I would have met Snape.
“I was very…ill,” I answered, determined to stay mostly honest.
“Why not just go to St. Mungo’s?” Lupin questioned.
“Lucius was…trying to rebuild his reputation, I guess you could say. He was trying to distance himself from the convicted Death Eaters and bringing me to St. Mungo’s while everyone still remembered the Lestrange name, well he didn’t particularly think I was worth it.”
“But he let Snape help?”
“Eventually.” They didn’t need to know the real reason Snape had been called in.
When no one spoke for five minutes I stood up and headed for the door. No one protested so I continued up to my room, closing the door behind me. Hermione, while she did ask lots of questions, hadn’t asked the one I’d been expecting the most. Maybe she didn’t want the others to hear or maybe she just didn’t want the answer. Fred hadn’t spoken at all, I wasn’t even able to see him from our positions around the table. I wasn’t used to a quiet Fred Weasley, the idea that he wouldn’t speak around me, despite living under the same roof, made my heart clench.
Several minutes later there was a knock on my door. Lupin – oh bugger, Wolfsbane. After opening the door I stirred the cauldron, which thankfully would not be ruined by my distracted mind. Lupin said nothing as he entered the room and closed the door behind him. He waited patiently until I filled a goblet and handed it to him carefully.
“Thank you,” he said before drinking it. I gave a quick nod and sat down on my bed. After Lupin swallowed the last of the potion and set the goblet down I expected him to leave. Instead he lingered a minute before speaking. “I realize this must be a strange notion for you, having so many people in one house. You are probably more comfortable speaking to Severus, however should you need someone to talk to, I am here.”
“Thanks,” I muttered, even though I knew I would never confide in Lupin. He moved towards the door but before opening it he paused and glanced back at me.
“It’s not surprising that people like you. Past the sarcasm and rough exterior you’re a bright and remarkably pleasant young woman.”
As Lupin left I couldn’t help but feel that there was only one person I truly cared about liking me at the moment – Fred Weasley.
A/N: The information about Grimmauld Place is from Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by JK Rowling, Chapter 6, The Noble and Most Ancient House of Black.
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