Chapter 9 : Chapter 9
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As the Weasleys and Hermione ate lunch on the other side of the room, Harry and Sirius remained beside the tapestry, looking over the Black family tree. Sirius scanned the names, telling Harry about the typically less than pleasant members of the Black family. Harry was shocked to hear that Sirius was related to Tonks.
“Her mother, Andromeda, was my favorite cousin. She was blasted off after marrying a Muggle-born, Ted Tonks.” Sirius informed Harry, pointing to a small burn mark.
Harry was more interested in the names beside the small burn. On one side was Narcissa Black who was connected to Lucius Malfoy by two golden lines. A vertical line in between them led to the name Draco Malfoy. On the other side was Bellatrix Black who was connected to Rodolphus Lestrange, with a vertical line leading down to Jade Lestrange.
“You’re related to Jade!”
“All pure-blood families are related in some way. There aren’t many choices when you’re only allowed to marry other pure bloods.”
“But –” Harry wanted to ask why Sirius and Jade seemed to hate each other when they were so closely related and to be honest, quite similar. The answer came to him quickly – Snape. Sirius and Snape loathed each other and based on what Ron and Hermione told him last night, Jade and Snape were very close.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
I wasn’t sure if it was because Harry was here or maybe Black and I had run out of insults, but life at Grimmauld Place was running a bit smoother. It was almost on the verge of being pleasant…as long as I didn’t run into Black too often. There were times I would catch Harry watching me but I pretended not to notice. I also had to finish this whole bloody school reform idea for Obolensky since I would be returning to Bulgaria in a couple weeks. I still didn’t think I was the right person to be suggesting ideas, Obolensky should have been asking Dumbledore. Besides teachers possessed by the Dark Lord, a Basilisk petrifying students, Azkaban escapees, and Death Eaters disguised as other people Hogwarts was…well it was ok. Maybe not perfect, but you know, no school really is. It was better than the other three schools I’d been at, alright.
I was sitting in my room working on ideas, taking an occasional glance at Dumbledore’s books when there was a knock on my bedroom door. “Come in, Fred,” I called out as I kept writing.
“That was definitely not my regular knock,” he complained, walking in and closing the door behind him.
“Nobody else tries to knock in a jingle except you.”
Fred let out a comical huff as he stood behind me, looking over my shoulder. “That’s a very well thought out idea indeed,” he said in a posh accent. I smiled and shook my head.
“Learned how to speak Bulgarian, have you?”
“I’m afraid I don’t have any turnips at the moment,” Fred responded, not having a clue what I’d said.
“Go sit down,” I told him, laughing.
“Not the right answer?”
“It was very close,” I teased. I heard Fred plop down on my bed a moment later.
“Nearly done with that?”
“Not really,” I admitted, frowning. “There’s a lot of information and rules to read through. So many rules.”
“Me and George must have broken nearly all of them,” Fred said proudly.
“Actually I’m sure you’ve hardly broken half of them. They have rules for nearly everything. ‘Students are not permitted to use peach ink.’ Does anyone even sell peach ink?”
“I am most certainly buying a bottle of it for next year. I may need to import it though.”
“Expelled for excessive peach ink use. That will be quite the story.”
“All made possible because of you.”
“No you don’t,” I declared. “I will not be dragged into this.” Fred laughed as I continued writing.
“Any other fascinating rules?”
“You and George want to go on a rule breaking spree, don’t you?" I accused. "Only one year left to break the rest of them. ‘Students are, under no circumstances, permitted to bring a Chimera onto school grounds.’ That’s one you two can’t break.”
“That’s entirely prejudice. What have they got against Chimeras?”
“I’m going to assume the whole viciously murdering everything that crosses their path is the main concern.”
“There is that,” Fred said thoughtfully. “Would it be selfish of me to ask you to stop writing and come sit with me?” I turned around to look at him and he patted a spot on the bed beside him.
“Alright,” I agreed, setting down my quill and joining him. He intertwined his fingers with mine as soon as I was beside him. We sat there for a minute before Fred spoke again.
“Can I ask you something?”
“Er…something personal?” A spasm of worry shot through me before I answered.
“Why exactly do you and Sirius Black not get along?”
“Because he’s an obnoxious git,” I said immediately.
“That’s not really the best answer considering you’ve said the same about me,” Fred replied cautiously.
“He’s annoying,” I responded, trying to bite back the frustration in my voice.
“You called me annoying when I was trying to snog you last week.”
“You’re not like Black,” I said impatiently.
“He’s your cousin –”
“Lots of people are my cousin. Lots of people are your cousin. That’s how it works in pureblood families.”
“He’s related a lot closer to you,” Fred continued. “Like Tonks, but you dislike them so much.”
“Tonks is…ok,” I admitted. She’d spent a lot of time at Grimmauld Place and yes, to be perfectly honest, I did find her decent enough to be around. That didn’t mean we talked to each other and I never would have chosen her over Draco. She seemed cheerful like Fred and George, and kept everyone entertained with her metamorphic skills.
“So, what’s the issue with Black?”
I knew what the issue was, but that didn’t make it easier to explain. I didn’t want to lie to Fred though, and I couldn’t say nothing. Fred deserved the truth, not once all summer had he asked about Snape. He hadn’t even said one insulting thing about the Potions master while I was around. Odds are Snape was always going to be part of my life and I really wanted Fred to be too. Eventually we would have to talk about Snape, why shouldn’t it be now?
“He doesn’t like Snape.”
“I gathered that…very quickly actually.”
“Well I do. It’s a bit of a deal breaker with Black.”
“Black and Snape hate each other so you’re –”
“Taking Snape’s side,” I finished. “I’ll always take Snape’s side.”
“I didn’t know he meant so much to you.” Fred was trying to keep his voice level but I could hear an edge of bitterness in his words.
“I know you don’t understand –”
“You never gave me the chance to understand.”
“Nobody but the Malfoys even knew I knew Snape. It wasn’t directed at you.”
“I know. Guess I just thought…I don’t know, I was different–we were different.”
“You are. You really truly are.”
“Then tell me why. Why does he mean so much to you?”
I wouldn’t lie. Telling the complete truth wasn’t an option either. Would there ever be a time when I didn’t rely on half truths?
“He was there for me when nobody else was. On more than one occasion, really. You have such a big family, a loving family who you can talk to and share things with. A family who helps you. Lucius was never like that. It’s better to keep your mouth shut and your head down.” Too bad I was rarely like that, ending up on the wrong side of Lucius’ anger on more than one occasion. “Snape was there when I needed him the most. For that I’ll always be grateful. I know he’s not the…warmest or nicest person, or the most pleasant to be around. And Merlin knows he can be an annoying git who makes you want to throttle him for being such an insensitive jerk, but I trust him, more than anybody I’ve ever known. When he tells me to do something, nine times out of ten I’m going to listen. I might not always like it or agree but I genuinely believe he knows what’s best. Even if he is a bit snarky, well a lot snarky…constantly snarky.” Fred couldn’t help but smirk. “I know with every fiber of my being that Snape is not a Death Eater, he definitely isn’t the man Black thinks he is.”
“Only you could make Snape sound so decent,” Fred stated. “At least I know why you’d rather face him than my mother.”
“He threw me to the wolves that day,” I muttered darkly. Fred started laughing and wrapped an arm around me.
“You have the most…peculiar taste in people.”
You don’t even know the half of it.
“Am I allowed to ask you a question?”
“Why wouldn’t you be?”
“Whatever happened with the World Cup bet?” I asked curiously.
“Oh that. Well he wasn’t backed by Gringotts.”
“Who?” I wasn’t sure if Fred would tell me or not.
“Ludo Bagman,” Fred confessed.
“Bagman? Tournament judge and Ministry employee Bagman?”
“That would be the one.”
“Is that why you and George were always trying to talk to him?”
“Was it that obvious?”
“I didn’t think it was for money. He really didn’t pay you? Wait, yes he did after the match. I remember Percy looked furious.”
"Of course you remember. Nice to know even with dozens of other people around you still can’t take your eyes off me,” Fred said smugly. He leaned in, possibly for a kiss but I stopped him.
“Finish the story.” He looked a bit disappointed but continued.
“He paid us in leprechaun gold.”
“That slimy git,” I muttered, narrowing my eyes. “Do you want me to curse him?”
“As entertaining as it would be, I doubt it would do much,” Fred said, amused. “We weren’t the only ones he ripped off. A whole horde of goblins weren’t pleased either, plus now they think the Ministry’s trying to cover it up.”
“They probably are.”
“Probably,” Fred agreed.
“What about your shop? You and George needed the money to start it up and –”
“We’ve got enough money now.”
“Er…anonymous donation,” Fred said awkwardly, making me worry.
“Fred, you really shouldn’t accept random people’s –”
“We know who he is. I’m just not sure if he wants everyone to know he gave us the money.”
I bit my tongue. I didn’t need to know where Fred and George had gotten the money. Yet I couldn’t help but propose another idea. “Accepting other donations?” Fred stared at me curiously before a look of understanding came over his face.
“I don’t want your money,” he said firmly.
“So other people are allowed to donate, but not me?”
“It’s one other person.”
“I’m not allowed to lend you more?”
“We don’t need more.”
“Shops are expensive,” I pointed out delicately.
“We don’t need more,” Fred repeated, making me frown. He leaned in for a quick kiss before I could stop him. “Really, we don’t need more,” he assured me. “We have a whole plan ready for our last year. We’re going to use it to test products and see what people want from a joke shop.”
“You’re going to use your last year as market research?”
“Such fancy words,” Fred teased. “That is the idea though. We already have a few inventions to sell, the Extendable Ears for one. We’re still working on the Skiving Snackboxes. Still trying to perfect the Fainting Fancies, Puking Pastilles, and Nosebleed Nougats.”
“When do you come up with all these ideas?” Fred and George’s wild ideas always impressed me.
“Usually in the shower.”
I snorted and rolled my eyes. “Of course,” I said sarcastically.
“Know what else –” Fred began suggestively as he leaned towards me.
“Behave,” I warned.
“You don’t even know what I was going to say.”
“I have a very good idea,” I replied, raising an eyebrow. “What would your mother think if she walked in here?”
“You’re annoyingly good at killing the mood,” Fred complained, scowling. “Next time,” he promised, swiftly pecking my cheek.
A/N: A couple more chapters and we’ll be back at Hogwarts. Wow, the before school stuff sure took up a lot of time.
The quotes from Sirius and Harry’s conversation are from Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by JK Rowling, Chapter 6, The Noble and Most Ancient House of Black. And Fred’s revealing of what Bagman did is from Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by JK Rowling, Chapter 37, The Beginning.
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