Chapter 28 : Chapter 28
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“Severus, I asked you last summer about Miss Lestrange. You assured me she was stable enough to spend the summer at Grimmauld Place without constant monitoring, that she was not a danger –”
“I’m sure your precious Potter will be perfectly fine,” Snape retorted bitterly. Of course, Potter’s safety was first, all anyone ever cared about was whether bloody Potter was safe.
“It is not Harry I am worried about!” Dumbledore said sharply. “She was left alone for five hours. Only five hours. In that time, she nearly died. If Molly Weasley hadn’t woken up early, Miss Lestrange would have been dead. And what happens when she returns to Hogwarts? At any time she could wander off alone and there is a chance she may not return. I will not take that risk.”
“She doesn’t need a babysitter,” Snape said roughly.
“She needs someone to make sure she does not harm herself!”
“She isn’t crazy. I will not let you treat her like some mental patient.”
“Severus,” Dumbledore said angrily, “she carved a Dark Mark into her forearm! She nearly bled to death from it. If you can sit there and tell me she is perfectly fine then you are blatantly ignorant to the reality of the situation!”
Hardly surprising Dumbledore would take on the ‘holier than thou’ attitude, acting like he alone cared about Jade’s wellbeing, like Snape was brushing aside the incident. Did Dumbledore really think Snape was that cruel? That he wouldn’t have traded anything to go back to three in the morning when he’d woken up and felt the desperation and pleas for help coming from Jade? He would have done anything to go back and travel to Grimmauld Place to help her. But no, he’d been angry, more than that, he’d been furious and he’d blocked it out. He’d shut Jade out, turned over and went back to sleep, leaving Jade to fight the demons on her own.
Snape had always told her whenever she needed him, all she had to do was ask and he’d do everything in his power to help. Then one of the times she’d needed him the most he’d done nothing. No, claiming he’d done nothing was too kind, too guilt free. She’d been drifting towards the edge for days. Snape had seen it even if she hadn’t. Maybe at first his intentions had been good, but in the end he’d been the last piece, sending her into the madness with his parting words.
It was a sickening feeling, knowing what he’d done, knowing he was responsible for what Jade had done to herself. Worse was being called out for it, someone else voicing his mistake, especially when that person happened to be Remus Lupin. And the absolute worst feeling was knowing whenever Jade saw him again, she’d be thinking the exact same thing.
“I kept my distance,” Dumbledore continued. “I allowed you to take the lead with Miss Lestrange. I believed the trust you’d built up with her all these years would be enough, that should something go wrong, she would come to you first, confide in you. It has become clear that it is not enough. This was not the result of one fight or a few days of fear. Something has been gnawing away at her for some time now. She needs someone trained in dealing with the problems she’s facing.”
“And you’ve already got somebody picked out.” Of course you do.
“Madam Pomfrey is the best choice. She knows enough of Miss Lestrange’s condition to help and will be discreet.”
“The fact that you think she’s going to open up to stranger and discuss what she’s feeling shows you have absolutely no idea what kind of person she is.”
“You would prefer we did nothing?”
“I’m not saying that at all.”
“Then what do you suggest Severus? I doubt she will come to you.”
Draco would know what to do. For years Draco had been her rock, keeping her happy and unburdened by pain. Snape had tried to pick up the slack after it ended, but when you only saw someone twice a year it was impossible to fully help them. He’d managed the bigger issues as best he could, probably not with ideal results but she’d survived. Then Durmstrang came. She’d changed, not quite back into her old ways but she’d gotten better. Viktor Krum helped chip away the rough exterior. Someone had gone even further though. Someone had made her as happy as Draco had. Someone had known what to do or say to bring back the child he’d known years ago, the smiling, witty, unburdened, albeit obnoxious girl he’d known.
“Use Weasley,” Snape muttered.
“You are going to have to be more specific.”
“Fred Weasley,” Snape said, his pride taking a hit.
“You want a boy who is barely out of childhood himself to deal with an issue this serious?”
“She needs someone to talk to. He’s one of the few she’ll actually open up to.”
Dumbledore sat back in his chair considering it for several minutes until the clock chimed. “Remus has requested a small meeting, only a few others will be there. It is beginning shortly. He’s already spoken to Miss Lestrange. We’ll also discuss Mr. Weasley there.”
“Lupin has made his views very clear. I doubt he would approve of me returning.”
“Yes, he had mentioned that. However, you will be with me and I expect you will not agitate the situation.”
Honestly Snape would have preferred to remain at Hogwarts. He could think of a million places he’d rather be than the kitchen of Grimmauld Place. He didn’t want to remember the blood or Jade’s pale skin let alone be in the same room where it happened. Bloody hell, he really was a coward, but he could tell by the look on Dumbledore’s face that this wasn’t a request. There was no way he was getting out of it. He let out a sigh wondering what fresh insults Lupin would have ready this time.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
It was definitely the smallest Order meeting Snape had attended. Less than ten people sat around the kitchen table, those staying in the house, along with Mrs. Weasley and Bill. Dumbledore being there silenced Black though he did glare down the table in Snape’s direction. Lupin wasn’t there yet, it was unknown whether he was even aware of Snape’s presence. That left the last of their group, the three Aurors.
Moody, who Dumbledore had likely contacted to keep an eye on Jade. Shacklebolt, being a seasoned Auror, knew enough about healing that he’d been summoned when they found Jade. He’d arrived before Snape and thankfully had not started casting healing spells or health scans. Tonks though, Snape could see no purpose for her being here. Her eyes drifted over to Snape several times but he didn’t care enough to bother using Legilimency. No, Snape preferred to sit there and mindlessly pass the fifteen minutes it took for Lupin to join them.
When Lupin did finally come down to the kitchen, he cast a look at Snape but his expression was unreadable. He didn’t say anything, merely sat down between Black and Tonks.
“Remus,” Dumbledore greeted in a grave voice. “How is Miss Lestrange?”
“She refuses to eat. Or sleep. Or talk. Or even move. She can’t keep going on like this or she’s going to end up on nutrient potions.”
“I’ll speak with Dobby when I return to Hogwarts. Perhaps he will be of some assistance.” Snape internally cringed, after using Dobby to drug Jade’s food, he doubted she would accept anything from the house elf.
“Dobby?” asked Bill.
“A house elf who formerly worked for the Malfoys. He knows Miss Lestrange well enough, it’s possible she would eat something from him.”
“Are we really just going to ignore the hippogriff in the room?” Black asked in disbelief.
“Sirius,” Dumbledore warned.
“So we’re going to pretend that the reason we’re even having this meeting isn’t here? That he didn’t push her into this?”
“Severus is here because I requested that he accompany me.”
“If he hadn’t showed up at all maybe she wouldn’t have tried to off herself in the first place.”
“She didn’t,” Lupin said calmly.
“What?” Shacklebolt asked quickly.
“She wasn’t trying to die,” Lupin informed them.
“You’re saying she nearly died by accident…twice?” Moody said skeptically.
“It wasn’t an accident –”
“She cut herself, yes, but she wasn’t trying to die.”
“She…had a nightmare,” Lupin explained. A knot formed in the pit of Snape’s stomach. Nightmares this destructive weren’t a good sign.
“Nightmares don’t make you slice open your arm,” Moody growled.
“This one did.”
“What happened, Remus?” Dumbledore questioned. “What did she tell you?”
“Obviously she thought it was real, she dreamed Voldemort was here –”
“In this very room.”
“Why the hell would she ever believe Voldemort was here?” Black asked wildly.
Lupin let out a sigh before answering. “Because in her nightmare, you let him in.”
“You made a deal with him –”
“I would never make a deal with Voldemort,” Black cut in, darkly.
“I know that, we all do. In her dream though, you did. She was trapped with Voldemort and a few Death Eaters.”
“Why? What did they want?”
“Voldemort knew about her, he wanted her to join him.”
“So she cuts a Mark into her forearm?” Moody callously assumed.
“No,” Lupin said sharply, sending Moody a glare at the same time that Snape did. “She refused. Several times.”
“He…he told her if she didn’t join him, he would torture and kill Fred Weasley.”
Molly Weasley let out a gasp of shock, looking scared for her son’s safety.
“Molly,” Dumbledore said soothingly, “Voldemort is too focused on Arthur’s attack and Harry. I doubt he is concerned with anything besides them. Fred and the rest of your children will be kept safe. Remus, please continue.”
“She said she wanted to protect him. That it was the only way. That he shouldn’t have to die because of her.”
“All she wanted to do was save him,” Bill muttered.
“Maybe we should be questioning why she felt pledging herself to Voldemort was the only way,” Moody grumbled.
“Best guess?” Lupin said. “She felt alone, isolated from everyone, that she didn’t have anywhere or anyone else to turn to. Although I’m betting being told she was selfish and should have let Fred go and walked away didn’t help either,” Lupin added roughly, pointedly glaring at Snape.
“You told her she –” Shacklebolt began, scowling at Snape.
“It doesn’t matter anymore,” Lupin cut in. “Right now we need to figure out where to go from here. It’s been too long to pretend she didn’t leave school grounds. A cover story has to be planned.”
“Umbridge isn’t going to fall for any story,” Shacklebolt said. “She’ll want witnesses and proof of whatever you tell her. And you can bet she’ll report it all back to Fudge.”
“True,” Dumbledore agreed. “But even proof may not be enough.”
“It’s a start,” Lupin said. “Tonks and I came up with something. We’re going to need someone in Hogsmeade though. Would they accept Aberforth’s statements?”
“Highly unlikely,” Dumbledore admitted. “He could still be of some use if you have others collaborating with his statements.”
“That’s all we need. If he says she was there for a couple of days, the people of Diagon Alley will do the rest.”
“The Ministry might not believe Aberforth, but they aren’t going to be suspicious if a dozen different people tell them they saw Jade Lestrange.”
“I see where this is going,” Moody guessed, his normal eye fixed on Tonks.
“If I look like her and come to the Leaky Cauldron, rent myself a room and let a few blokes get a look at me, who’s going to know the difference? I check out the morning the train leaves and she’s back to Hogwarts.”
“How would she have left Hogwarts’ grounds in the first place?”
“Through the forest,” Lupin answered. “If you go far enough around, you can get out a couple of miles from Hogsmeade.”
“She could still be expelled,” Dumbledore pointed out.
“That’s a risk we have to take. At least this explains where she’s been.”
“If Lucius Malfoy takes her back to Malfoy Manor we will not be able to help her before she’s taken to Voldemort.”
“Then we get her before Malfoy gets the chance,” Shacklebolt said, leaning back in his chair. “This is the best plan we’ve got, we don’t have much of a choice.”
“Alright,” Dumbledore conceded.
“There’s something else,” Lupin said. “Even though Jade understands it was a nightmare, her fear of something happening to Fred is very real. She needs to do more than spend two weeks locked in a room worrying about him.”
“I agree,” Dumbledore stated. “It would be beneficial for her to talk to someone.”
“I’ve tried,” Lupin claimed. “I can’t even get her to acknowledge me anymore.”
“Perhaps Fred Weasley would be a better choice.”
“He’s still a kid himself,” Moody said. “You really think it’s a wise decision, Albus?”
“She might open up to him, certainly more than she would any of us. Keeping her isolated isn’t going to help her either. Let Mr. Weasley have some time alone with her, but he should know he needs to be patient and supportive.”
“I’ll make sure he understands,” Bill offered.
“She should be allowed out of the house,” Remus said. “Not continually,” he added before Dumbledore could protest. “Let her go to St. Mungo’s on Christmas. It will be good for her. It also adds to her cover story and she’ll be less likely to worry about Fred’s safety if she sees that he’s fine.”
“She can’t be seen coming or going with the others.”
“I’ll take her,” Tonks blurted out. “Before you leave I’ll take her and trail behind enough that I don’t look suspicious. I can wait outside while she goes in.”
“She can spend a bit of time there with everyone,” Remus said. “Molly or Arthur can wait until a Healer gets within ear shot then ask why she’s there and if her uncle knows. She makes a flimsy excuse and leaves before anyone can stop her. After that Molly can write a letter to you, Dumbledore, asking about it. Since Umbridge is checking the mail, she may even read it herself.”
“It adds to the cover story,” Moody said approvingly.
“The Healers are always checking in on Arthur, I can question her when one of them comes in,” Mrs. Weasley offered.
Snape said nothing. It wasn’t as if they would have listened to him anyways. While he agreed that Jade shouldn’t be left alone, the idea of her going to St. Mungo’s with only Tonks as protection was too risky for him. Dumbledore didn’t look completely convinced either.
“Alastor, I want you to go with Molly and the others. Watch Miss Lestrange as well, make sure she meets up with Auror Tonks.” Moody let out a grunt of confirmation. “Alright then, explain the plan to Miss Lestrange to see if she will agree. If there’s nothing else, I should –”
“Actually,” Lupin interrupted, “there is one last thing. Jade mentioned something else, something offhand. I don’t think she realized what she was saying.” Snape’s insides clenched for a minute before scolding himself. Jade wasn’t that reckless, she never would have mentioned that. Even at her worse she never would have confessed to anyone. “I think it’s partially why she felt it was her responsibility to protect Fred. She said she couldn’t let it happen again. That she didn’t want to lose him too.”
“Too?” Dumbledore asked confused.
“That’s what she said.”
“She didn’t give you any hint of what she meant?”
“No,” Lupin answered. “I think she was more muttering to herself than anything.”
“That is very peculiar,” Dumbledore said thoughtfully.
“I don’t suppose Severus knows what she meant?” Lupin questioned, watching Snape intently.
He could easily explain this. It was none of their concern what she’d meant. “No idea,” he lied. “She was likely confused and rambling. It’s not unheard of in moments of…distress.”
Lupin shared a quick look with Tonks and Snape felt a spark of annoyance at the werewolf for his meddling.
“You’ve known her for over ten years and you know absolutely nothing useful then?”
“I’m not a diary,” Snape snapped. “I don’t hold her hand so she can make it through the day. If you think it meant something, go and ask her about it. Oh wait, that’s right, she won’t speak to you. I suppose you’ll have to save the mollycoddling for another time.”
“Severus,” Dumbledore warned “Eno-”
“You know what?” Lupin cut in. “I expected you to respond that way. Right down to the snarky insult at the end. You know what else? I think you’re lying through your teeth.”
“Remus,” Dumbledore said, in an effort to stop what would surely escalate into a fight.
“I’m sorry Dumbledore, but not this time. I should have listened to Sirius months ago –”
“Yes, let’s hear the wisdom of a man who’s been locked in Azkaban for twelve years,” Snape responded sarcastically. “I’m sure it will be enlightening.”
“He saw something in the way you looked at her and for months I ignored it. I’m not going to pretend I didn’t see it the other night.”
“Your evidence is that I looked at her?” Snape asked scathingly, crushing down the worry that Lupin had caught on to the truth.
“You did more than look at her. You knew exactly which buttons to press in order to get the reaction you wanted. You weren’t surprised when she lashed out, it didn’t even faze you when she pinned you against that wall.”
“Unlike certain individuals, I’m able to keep my emotions under control.”
“You just have an excuse for everything, don’t you? Not this time though, this time I want to hear the truth. I want to know who and what she was talking about when she said she didn’t want to lose Fred too.”
“I don’t know,” Snape snarled.
“And if I asked Draco Malfoy, would he be able to tell me?” Snape glared at Lupin with a look of complete loathing. “It was him, wasn’t it? The one she couldn’t help, the one she blames herself for. Something happened to him and she was never able to get past it. That’s why she has his wand, why it meant so much to her, because Draco means that much to her.” Furious at Lupin and annoyed with the headache that was quickly forming, Snape sat there unable to respond.
“Remus, you even said yourself that they don’t talk to each other,” Shacklebolt said. “They definitely didn’t when I was at the Malfoys.”
“I don’t think it was always that way. I’m guessing once upon a time they were very close. And then something happened, something drew them apart. I also think Severus knows what that was.”
“I don’t have to answer to you,” Snape replied forcefully.
“This is the man you trust?” Lupin asked Dumbledore. “A man who lied to you, who continues to lie to you, to all of us?”
“You’re one to talk, how –”
“Don’t you try and weasel your way out of this Snape!” Lupin said furiously. “For years you knew her, you knew everything about her and you said nothing. Are we really supposed to sit here and trust you?”
“You have no right to know,” Snape shot back, rubbing his temples as his headache steadily grew.
“You don’t get to decide that!” Lupin shouted. “She is a child and you have been manipulating her for years, making sure she becomes dependent on you!”
‘Manipulating,’ a livid voice in the back of Snape’s head said, fury growing. Manipulating?!
“What did you do when Potter died?” Snape asked in a low, steady voice.
“What did you just say?” Lupin asked dangerously.
“What did you do when Potter died? When Black was taken to Azkaban and Pettigrew was dead? What. Did. You. Do?"
“Don’t you ever mention James, Snivellus,” Black said threateningly.
“You left,” Snape continued, ignoring the others. “You ran away like a coward. You ran so you wouldn’t have to think about them, isn’t that right? Not everybody gets that luxury. Some people don’t get to leave and pretend everything’s perfectly fine. They have to spend every day reliving that horrible moment, remembering the day that changed everything. Stop deluding yourself into thinking you’re helping or that you only care about her. The only thing you care about is satisfying your own curiosity. As for questioning Draco Malfoy, I will stop you before you’re anywhere near him.”
“Severus,” Dumbledore chastised as Snape stood up angrily. Snape whipped around to glare at him harshly.
“Don’t start,” Snape warned. “You’re just like them. All that matters to you is your own schemes. I am the one getting my hands dirty, but as long as Albus Dumbledore gets what he wants nothing and nobody else matters. I don’t know whether he can’t admit this to himself or whether he thinks too highly of you, but I don’t have a problem telling you this myself. You need me more than I need you. And while you may think I don’t see what you’re doing, I assure you, I do. I will grovel at the Dark Lord’s feet and tell him whatever you want while you play your little games with him, personally I don’t care. But if you ever come near Draco Malfoy, I will make sure the world knows what you’ve been doing for years. Don’t look so surprised, I’m not as naive as you think I am, I caught on a long time ago. And I know you don’t trust me, you haven’t since the first time I sat down across from you in your office, but did you really think I would trust you? Maybe you’re the naïve one?”
With that Snape swept out of the kitchen and out the front door, apparated to Hogsmeade and briskly walked towards Hogwarts, still angry with the lot of them. ‘Manipulating,’ how dare Lupin? At least Black was constantly a git, you always knew he was going to be an annoyance, but Lupin? He was far worse, acting like he was the noble one, like he only cared and wanted what was best. It was nauseating. Lupin would never understand, none of them would, and Dumbledore, condescending as always.
Snape let out a huff knowing too much had been said. They’d probably all be thinking Snape was a Death Eater now. Threatening Dumbledore hadn’t been the wisest choice but Draco wouldn’t be dragged into this. It was stupid to have used his wand against her, why did you ever do that? Especially in front of all those people. You’re supposed to be smarter than this, stop making these foolish mistakes. “Diabolical Slytherin,” Snape muttered sarcastically, approaching the castle doors.
There was no way Jade would open up about the nightmare now, surely she must have realized what it was. Snape couldn’t even go near her with Lupin’s meddling. And after tonight Dumbledore would probably be trying to separate them as well. Now Snape had to wait and hope Fred Weasley could step up and not make things worse.
It was taking its toll, keeping these stories straight between Dumbledore and the Dark Lord while trying to protect Jade. Draco and Narcissa knew too much as well, if the Dark Lord ever questioned them Snape would have a lot of explaining to do. Snape also had to watch Nott or who knew how far he’d push Jade. And the bloody elves, Merlin forbid that nutter at Grimmauld Place ever caught on to what was happening.
What Snape needed right now was a rest, a very long, undisturbed one so he could make it through the rest of the holiday without strangling somebody (Lupin). In the dungeons, Snape grabbed the bottle of sleeping potion, only taking a small amount before carefully putting the bottle back in exactly the same place.
“You won’t even notice in the morning, will you?”
Moving to the chair, Snape’s eyelids started to fall, sleep taking over. Hands rose up to rub away the headache. The anger with Dumbledore and Lupin nearly all faded.
In the last moment of clarity before he fell asleep, Snape looked around his room, confused.
When had he left Grimmauld Place and come back to Hogwarts?
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