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Chapter 10 : Chapter 10
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“Try not to look so guilty.” Harry jumped, probably because he hadn’t expected me to be sitting on the stairs in the dark at five thirty in the morning. His eyes found me and he gave me a look of confusion. “You need to give off the impression that you haven’t done anything wrong, that there’s no reason for you to be expelled,” I advised. “Confidence while still being respectful is the key.”
“Haven’t you been expelled from three schools?” he asked hesitantly.
“I like to think it was more impressive being accepted to three schools after being expelled from the previous ones.” Harry considered that but I could see he was still worried about being expelled from Hogwarts at his Ministry hearing today. “Improper Use of Magic Law thirty seven, Article three, Section J.”
“If you do get expelled, and that’s a very big if, just tell them you’re going to file for home schooling. Since your cousin already knew about magic, you didn’t break any secrecy laws so they can’t destroy your wand. And since you didn’t gravely injure or kill anyone, you’re still perfectly fit to continue your magical education. Worst case scenario, you end up back here with Lupin teaching you and never have to attend another boring class again.”
“They’d allow that?”
“It’s the law, a very specific, written down law they aren’t about to break.”
“It sounds a bit…er, dodgy,” Harry said, sounding unsure.
“The proper term is loophole and considering Fudge is doing everything in his power to convince people you’re a nutter, you really shouldn’t hesitate using one of his own laws against him.”
Harry nodded and turned to continue down the stairs. “Thanks,” he said, sounding sincere.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Harry returned for lunch with the unsurprising news he’d been cleared of all charges. Fred, George and Ginny began doing a small jig, chanting “He got off, he got off,” as everyone congratulated Harry. Hadn’t they all been reassuring him he wouldn’t be expelled? Well they certainly seemed quite relieved now that it was official.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
In two days I would be headed back to Bulgaria for the last days of summer vacation. There was still no Hogwarts school list so I wasn’t sure what I was supposed to do about that, but at least I was finished writing about schools. There was a lot more to it than I imagined. If Dumbledore had to deal with this on top of everything else, well that was pretty damn impressive. I thought I’d done a decent job with my suggestions though a few of them may have been more ideal than practical. Obolensky could use whatever ideas he liked, I suppose, I’d done my part.
“Mum wants us downstairs,” Fred announced, suddenly poking his head in the room.
“No idea. She’s told everyone else to hurry up too.”
I nodded and followed Fred down the stairs. Hermione and Ginny were in front of us, George, Ron, and Harry behind. As we passed Mrs. Black’s portrait Ginny glanced back.
“Any idea what’s going on?” she asked.
“Someone arrived about ten minutes ago,” George answered. “No idea who it was.”
We made our way to the kitchen to find Mr. and Mrs. Weasley, along with Lupin, Black and to my surprise, Snape.
“Professor,” Hermione said meekly, freezing. While Snape was frequently at Grimmauld Place, he usually avoided any contact with the Weasley children, Hermione, and Harry. Something they seemed only too happy to oblige with. This sort of direct contact was a bit of shock to them. Snape, who’d been staring at the large fire on the opposite end of the room, turned to glare at Hermione. Something in his eyes was different though, it worried me instantly.
“What happened?” I questioned.
“Nothing,” Lupin responded. “We need to discuss some finer details is all.”
“Sit down and stop asking questions then perhaps you’ll find out.” I was taken off guard by Snape’s brisk and impatient answer. I’d gotten much too used to Snape over the summer. I guess this was his way of settling back into the role we’d take up during the school year. At least I hoped that was the reason behind his mood. Instead of being difficult I walked over to the table and took a seat, facing Snape. The others moved to sit around the table was well. Fred was going to sit next to me but was stopped by Snape’s next words. “You two sit apart,” he ordered.
“You aren’t together anymore.”
“Why not?” Fred asked boldly.
“Because that’s how you ended the year and that is how you are going to act when you go back to Hogwarts.” Fred looked at me, then back at Snape before moving two seats away.
“Why does it matter how they act?” George questioned. Snape gave him a withering glare.
“The Dark Lord,” I guessed, still watching Snape.
“What does Vold-” Harry began.
“You have recently entered the forefront of the Dark Lord’s mind,” Snape told me. “More so once he found out how close to the Weasleys you were. He is not pleased Lucius sent you away, despite Lucius’ attempts to convince him that Obolensky could be an ally.”
“Obolensky would never side with the Dark Lord.”
“I know he wouldn’t,” Snape said impatiently. “Dumbledore knows he wouldn’t.”
“How does you-know-who even know about Jade and Fred?” Hermione asked. “Draco Malfoy?”
“And you,” I muttered, understanding why Snape seemed so off.
“There were not a lot of options.”
“It’s fine. I should have expected it sooner or later. Why now and not before?”
“The Dark Lord and Lucius were not aware of your…relationship until recently.”
“I thought Malfoy told his dad everything,” Ron blurted out. Snape sent me a quick glance. Snape and I both knew that wasn’t true.
“Draco is not the primary source of information.” I couldn’t stop that little bubble of hopefulness deep inside of me. My Draco was still there and he would never be reporting information back to Lucius.
“That still you then?” Black asked rudely.
“There are other Death Eaters trying to gain favor with the Dark Lord,” Snape sneered. “The Notts being one of them.”
“Nott was the one to bring me up?” I asked suspiciously. Although I hadn’t spared more than a passing glance or two at Theodore Nott since I entered Hogwarts, I had met him on a few other occasions. He was arrogant with an entitled attitude I loathed. He was also a firm believer in the ‘proper pureblood’ way where girls were expected to loyally follow their father and husband’s commands. And this was nearly ten years ago, I could only imagine how obnoxious he’d grown up to be.
“I assume his initial displeasure was due to –”
“Shut up,” I snapped at Snape, sending him a glare.
“Due to what?” Fred asked instantly.
“While jealousy is always a possibility –” I let out a growl. I really should have known better than to tell Snape to shut up.
“Jealous of what?” Fred questioned before Snape could continue.
“I believe he’s more offended. You dealt a severe blow to his ego.” Snape finished, ignoring Fred.
“Offended by what?” Fred asked loudly. I looked at him, internally wincing. Even the idea of voicing the reason made me cringe.
“I was…betrothed to him,” I admitted in disgust.
“WHAT?!” Several Weasleys and Harry shouted.
“You’re fifteen!” Hermione exclaimed.
“Well I was five when the idea was planned.”
“The joys of being an acceptable pureblood,” Snape ridiculed
“He’s offended by you?” Fred asked me, confused.
“By you,” Snape corrected.
“What has Fred done?” Mrs. Weasley asked sharply.
“Being passed over for a Weasley was more the issue. The Notts are very proud wizards.”
“Annoying wizards,” I mumbled.
“I assume your past exploits have also not been forgotten.”
“Past exploits?” Fred questioned.
“I may have been…less than impressed when Nott told me I needed to follow his orders,” I confessed. “And may have –”
“May have?” I glared at Snape again.
“Alright, I pushed the pompous git into a pond.”
“You pushed him into a pond?” Fred asked incredulously.
“He was very annoying.”
“Bloody hell,” Fred said in awe. Mrs. Weasley scolded him but he didn’t seem to care. “You’re like the perfect woman.”
“Now I’m going to be sick,” Snape muttered sourly.
“Why would a five year old have an arranged marriage?” Lupin cut in. “What do the Notts have that could benefit the Malfoys?”
“It wasn’t Lucius. My grandmother set it up with Mr. Nott ages ago. They’re old friends and it wasn’t the first time they tried to connect their families. Catherine Nott, Theodore’s much older sister was supposed to marry my uncle, Rabastan.”
“What happened?” Ginny asked.
“She ran off,” Black answered before I had the chance. “Made quite the scandal.”
I eyed Black for a moment, surprised he knew the story. “Australia,” I said, turning back to Ginny. “Supposedly she went there. That’s why the Notts had Theodore, who was groomed by his father much more carefully since it was the Nott name that would continue on,” I explained. “My grandmother wasn’t impressed by the Death Eaters who avoided Azkaban, Mr. Nott being one of them. Eventually a few years later they reconnected and rehashed the old marriage plan again. So I met the Notts and well, wasn’t particularly thrilled.”
“So they called it off?” Hermione assumed.
“Er, not exactly –”
“They likely voided the arrangement once you were sorted into Gryffindor,” Snape interrupted.
“Yeah, probably,” I agreed. “Oi! That’s how she found out, I bet!” Everyone else looked confused except Snape. “The Howler. Lucius certainly didn’t tell her about me. Huh, well that explains that. So little Theo’s going to be watching me this year?”
“Yes. Do not underestimate him,” Snape warned.
“You say that about everybody,” I replied, raising an eyebrow.
“Because you tend to believe you are smarter than everybody,” he snapped back.
“Not everybody.” Snape glowered at me. “Fine, Fred and I are not speaking,” I said, frowning.
“I assume the two of you can rebuild your blooming romance. Merlin forbid either of you be unhappy. Just make it believable,” Snape spat out. “Make this one instruction you are capable of following,” he told Fred harshly.
Instead of glaring at Snape or giving a typical Weasley twin response, Fred nodded and in a level voice said, “Alright.” Snape hadn’t been expecting it to be so easy and gave me a look that showed he was appalled by Fred being so compliant.
“You three,” Snape continued, facing Hermione, Harry, and Ron, “act distant. She wasn’t talking to you before summer and she isn’t now. Since you all seem to be under the impression that you and you alone are more knowledgeable and therefore must run in and play the heroes, blatantly ignoring any person or rules in your way, I imagine it shouldn’t be too difficult.”
“I don’t think Harry, Ron, and Hermione need the extra commentary, Severus,” Lupin said firmly, cutting off Black. Next Snape turned towards Ginny and George.
“You can follow his lead,” he told George, gesturing at Fred. “I don’t care what you do as long as you manage not to act like you spent the entire summer with her,” he instructed Ginny.
“I trust you all understand how important this is?” Mr. Weasley asked, glancing around. He received nods from around the table.
“What happens at Christmas?” Hermione questioned in a small voice, looking around the room. There was an awkward moment before Snape spoke.
“As long as he hasn’t heard any odd news about Miss Lestrange, the Dark Lord will likely be distracted by then. Hence why it is necessary you follow your role.”
“Likely?” Fred asked, sounding worried. “What if –”
“Nothing is going happen if you control yourself,” Snape said curtly.
“Worst case scenario, I slip away at King’s Cross and disappear for two weeks,” I added. This didn’t have the desired result I’d expected.
“You’re not spending two weeks on the streets of London,” Fred said instantly.
“Of course not,” Lupin said calmly. “She’d be here if it came to that.” Black and I both looked at Lupin in alarm. Then I turned quickly to Snape with a look that clearly said ‘that is not happening.’
“It isn’t going to be necessary as long as you all keep your mouths shut.” Fred and Hermione didn’t look fully convinced but Snape switched gears, looking directly at me. “Have everything ready to leave early Thursday morning.”
“What about my school list?”
“It will be mailed to Narcissa. You should find her before the train leaves.”
“And Lucius,” I muttered.
“Letting him see you with Obolensky will be better.”
“Yeah, yeah,” I said unhappily. Then Snape reached into his robes and pulled out a letter, dropping it in front of me.
“That arrived in Bulgaria for you.” I picked it up, looking at the handwriting. Only one person wrote my name like that. I could feel Snape’s eyes on me so I forced myself not to react or let anything slip through the link. “Recognize the handwriting?” he asked almost casually.
“Yeah,” I answered smoothly, stuffing the letter into my pocket even though I was dying to rip it open.
“I do actually have a couple of those,” I said, looking up at Snape. He seemed to be mentally debating something and his eyes flickered over to Fred for a fraction of a second.
“An American friend?” He knows. Of course he knew…well I suppose he didn’t know the real reason for the letter, but he knew it was from Dimitri, or at least the Dimitri I’d invented a back story for. “Wait until you’re in Bulgaria to mail a response.” Now I was feeling quite thankful we were in a room full of people or Snape certainly wouldn’t have given up that easily. Instead he swept from the room, Lupin and Mr. Weasley following him. I waited until just enough time had passed for Snape to leave Grimmauld Place before standing.
“Good chat,” I said flippantly. “I’ll be heading upstairs now.” Before anybody had the chance to respond, I was gone. I passed Mr. Weasley and Lupin as they were locking the door and went straight up to my room, closing the door behind me. I probably wouldn’t have much time before Fred came after me so I quickly opened the letter. It was from Dimitri and written in Russian.
Rumors of your home’s possible though likely severe infestation have reached me. Along with news that our common slippery friend has not returned home. I hope you have been separated from both, however no visible evidence has presented itself. I would like to hear from you but my first two owls appear to be confused. A timely response would be appreciated or I will feel compelled to seek out your close friend.
I let out a frustrated groan. Dimitri had heard about Karkaroff not returning to Durmstrang and the Dark Lord being back. He was also trying to find out more information, like if something happened to me. ‘First two owls’ meant this wasn’t his first time writing, probably making him worry more. And if I didn’t send a response soon, he was going after Snape for answers. That was the absolute last thing I needed right now.
A/N: About Nott, while I did randomly add him in here, I think having him makes a more complete story. Also, god I love writing him. He doesn’t need to be nice or put on any mask, he can be a pure and selfish jerk. He’s not like Draco, he doesn’t have that more humane side. And he’s everything Jade hates about purebloods. He’s just great. I think I spent more time on Nott then even Umbridge.
The information about Harry’s trial and the reactions when he got back to Grimmauld Place is from Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by JK Rowling, Chapter 9, The Woes of Mrs. Weasley.
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