Chapter 2 : The Lady of Greengrass Hall
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Lavinia Blishwick had been unapologetically mercenary in her marriage to Felix Greengrass--it had been for money, and she had never pretended otherwise. In that time, and from such an old, esteemed Pureblood family as Lavinia’s, there was little a gently-bred witch could count among her achievements aside from marrying well.
Though possessed of a keen intellect, Lavinia could not be allowed to fall into a life of politics--the Blishwicks did not approve of women in such positions--and the dusty halls of academia would not have called to her, even if it would have been allowed.
Happiness in marriage did come later--Lavinia grew to care for her husband, and Felix positively worshipped her--but she never had much of a domestic personality, and found her role as the wife of an esteemed Ministry official to be a poor use of her talents. The conversation of her peers--women of equal lineage--was insufferably inane, and any insight she might have had on matters of true weight must, according to convention, remain unspoken and unheard.
It could come as no surprise, therefore, that when her skills were noticed by the Death Eaters, they won her loyalty quite easily by offering her enticing employ: Lavinia Greengrass became a spy.
And quite an effective one, for who could suspect the haughty mistress of Greengrass Hall of such affairs? Secrets were spilled before women like seed before birds, most too silly with idle prattle to snatch it up and make use of it.
But Lavina...Lavinia did.
For years she worked, funnelling information to the forces of the Dark Lord. Her loyalty never wavered as she awaited his return, and she rejoiced when, in a crumbling village cemetery in Little Hangleton, her master (and, more importantly, her position) was restored to her.
Until one foggy evening in the air above Little Whinging, her mission complete and the whereabouts of the so-called Boy Who Lived revealed, she was caught by an errant spell and flung from her broom, plummeting three hundred feet to the unforgiving earth.
And that was the end of Lavinia Greengrass.
Back in the long-unused front parlour, her daughter cleared her throat and took another sip of tea. Though it might not have been tea slipping down her throat, but pure poison, for all the venom that was held in her next words. “A most unfortunate incident, to be sure, Mr. Malfoy.”
He pressed his lips together till they turned pale, regarding her with what, if he were human and capable of such feelings, might have been some measure of discomfort. Shame at having to intrude upon her grief. Sorrow for her loss.
But these kind of emotions could not be expected from a Malfoy.
“If you are cleared of charges,” he offered quietly, “it is possible that you may be offered some compensation--”
“That will be unnecessary.”
Blood money was what he was offering her, and Astoria had no intention to collect.
She took another deep breath through her nose, trying to force air into her brain. She needed to calm down. She needed to protect what remained of her family. She needed to lie.
“My mother merely did her duty as a supporter of the Dark Lord. To receive payment for service willingly given would be a disservice to her memory.”
She reached for another cube of sugar and plunked it, defiantly, into her tea. Then she took the china cup into her hands, wrapping her fingers around it and allowing the warm comfort to seep into the tense joints of her knuckles.
She blinked, and smiled up at him.
“Now, you say that you’re here to determine our loyalties, Mr. Malfoy. I assure you that you will find that my family is as loyal as ever. So, if you don’t mind my asking, what is it exactly that you intend to do here?”
Selecting a dainty silver teaspoon from the tray, she swirled it around within the confines of the cup, placing the spoon back on the tea tray before taking a small sip. Still too hot. Taking care not to spill any, she set the cup aside. “I’m afraid I’m a bit ignorant about this sort of thing.”
Her smile was well-practised, teeth a gleaming porcelain white, her azure eyes shining with girlish innocence. Her mother had been raised as a debutante, wielding her wiles to catch men and money. Astoria had been raised as the daughter of a spy, and she knew better than anyone: every expression was a weapon, if only one knew how to use it.
Still, despite her skill, her guest seemed to glimpse something beneath the surface. For a moment, it seemed that he had noted neither her question, nor her charm, as his eyes did not flicker upward from the paperwork in his lap. Then, almost absently, his mouth quirked into the ghost of a wry smile. For a moment, a trace of his characteristic sarcasm bled through as he muttered quietly to himself.
“Honestly, Miss Greengrass, if there is one thing I doubt, it is that you are ignorant.”
Draco Malfoy didn’t realise just how right he was. At least, she hoped he did not.
Lavinia had not told anyone, while she lived, of what she had done, aside from one person.
As a spy, her work was clandestine--though she provided the Death Eaters with their best tips, most of them would never know of her importance to their cause. But Lavinia was a proud woman, and she could not bear for her exploits to go entirely unknown among her own family. While Voldemort lived, she kept her secrets to herself. However, after his supposed death at the hands of a mere toddler, she finally believed it safe to lower her guard.
There was no question of telling her husband--he would not admire her any more nor less for her actions. For someone who so wished to be respected for her achievements, this unwavering adoration was both a blessing and a curse. Her eldest daughter, though it pained Lavinia to admit it, was silly and vain without the brains to make up for it, like most of the chattering, mindless young women of her class.
That left only her youngest daughter, untried and untested, but who had at least not yet been weighed and found wanting. Astoria.
And Astoria had listened. Though her mother did not reveal all to her, only Astoria knew the tidbits that Lavinia did let slip as she regaled her with tales of listening at doors, putting together clues, and paying close attention to every detail that could lead to a secret’s unearthing.
After the Dark Lord had been forced to retreat that night, bodiless, defeated, and largely presumed dead, from Godric’s Hollow, Lavinia had not given up hope. Perhaps because her loyalty had never truly been to the man who had once been Tom Riddle, but to herself. Her work was an exercise in her own cleverness, and she’d hardly give that up just because one Dark wizard was bested by a baby.
She continued to spy, funneling her information to the Death Eater elite. Namely, two families; the Malfoys and the Notts--the only people high up enough (who weren’t in Azkaban) to have been aware of Mrs. Greengrass’ involvement. Lavinia suspected that they would continue the pro-Pureblood movement themselves. Little did she know that, one day, she would be working for her master, himself, once again.
And work for him she did. Until that night when, between one breath and the next, she fell from her broomstick and was snuffed out of the world.
But, as it was in her life, so it was in her death: with Lavinia Greengrass, all was not, perhaps, as it appeared.
The demise of the Dark Lord’s chief spy had been rather singular. It was odd, in the first place, that she had been instructed to be at the scene the night the Death Eaters attempted to capture Harry Potter leaving his childhood home; Lavinia was a spy, not a fighter. She had always worked exclusively in information--never combat.
Odder still that, although the Dark Lord’s forces had been battling the Order of the Phoenix, the Healer at St. Mungo’s who performed Mrs. Greengrass’ exam determined that Lavinia had been dead long before she hit the ground. Avada Kedavra.
The members of the Order of the Phoenix rarely employed the Killing Curse. But Lavinia had been surrounded, that night, by plenty of people who did.
Astoria was clever. She knew that it would be easiest to blame the Resistance--the trouble-making rebels her mother had been tailing.
She also knew that spies had a tendency to make enemies, and that her mother was a very good spy.
It appeared that Lavinia Greengrass had perhaps, in the end, learned one secret too many.
A secret that had gotten her killed.
Of course, the Death Eaters had found out that there had been a leak in information, and it was unsurprising that they had eventually traced the source back to the House of Greengrass.
But the secret that slipped out of their clutches was not the reason for the death of the Dark Lord’s spy. The Lady of Greengrass Hall was dead and gone long before the treachery that had brought Draco Malfoy to their door had ever occurred.
It was not Lavinia--nor indeed any other--who had betrayed the Death Eater’s plot.
It was Astoria.
Two weeks after her mother’s funeral, she had still burned with anger. Anger at her mother, for leaving her too soon. Anger at her sister, who could not be serious for long enough to share Astoria’s grief. And, most of all, angry at the heartless Death Eaters, who had cost her family its cornerstone and done nothing to help prop up the tottering structure now that it was gone.
No condolences. No concerns. No knock on the door.
Just an owl directing them to a body at St. Mungo’s and, months later, a Malfoy on their doorstep.
Little thanks for a life given in service to their cause.
Not that Astoria thought much of the cause to begin with. At the end of the day, neither had her mother. Lavinia Greengrass had been on a search for the honour denied to her by her station and sex, less concerned with dogma than glory.
Which, in the end, she hadn’t got much of, either.
Astoria was not really against Muggles or Muggleborns; she really didn’t care much either way. What were Muggles to her? She certainly didn’t know any, and she wasn’t the type of girl to like or dislike anything based only off the word of another. Though she associated primarily with Purebloods, her time at Hogwarts had shown her clearly that differences in moral quality and intelligence were not defined by blood, but by character.
Until her mother’s death, however, she had lacked any strong impetus to lean her politics in one direction or another.
That night changed everything. The Dark Lord was a menace, not only to the Muggle-lovers, but to his own followers, and she would not be so stupid as to go down that path.
She was bringing the Death Eaters down, in some small way, if it was the last thing she did.
Yowza! Lavinia Greengrass had quite a story, huh? So, now we know where Astoria’s vendetta is coming from. But what, exactly, is it she’s done? Why is Draco Malfoy really there? And can she convince him of her innocence?
Please review! Whether you liked it, or want to give some constructive criticism--either way! Even if you only say, ‘This is a thing, and I read it’, it’s still nice that someone put in the effort. Just scroll down...it’s right there. I dare you to.
(*cough* deliberate challenge that will hopefully get all the Gryffindors).
Thanks for reading!
Coming up next: There were a number of reasons why Astoria settled upon Ginny Weasley as the best choice to get a message to the Order of the Phoenix...
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