Chapter 6 : Manipulation
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Anyway. Hope you guys like it.
You want to visit him?
The words appeared in front of me onto the parchment I was staring blankly at. As soon as my eyes had read the words, they disappeared. I blinked twice, sat up straighter from my previous position that had me slouching a little in my seat; trying to decide whether I had imagined the scribbling or did it really vanish from the surface of my parchment. But I had recognised the writing, I knew it well. I looked up as I felt someone’s relentless gaze upon myself, and sure enough, Michael was looking my way from two benches ahead.
I sat beside Madeline Crabbe, out of the corner of my eye I saw her still engrossed in reading the assigned text, occasionally scribbling onto her own piece of parchment. Now sure that she wasn’t paying me any attention, I picked up my quill, the text about veritaserum disregarded as I replied to his message.
I saw the ink seep in and disappear, much like it had just seconds ago.
Okay. I’ll tell father you wish to visit him too.
I appreciated the effort, but Mike seemed to have missed out on a very obvious, teeny tiny detail.
I need permission from a parent or a guardian, I can’t leave premises whenever I desire.
You leave that to me.
The final words appeared in front of my eyes, affirmative. Leave it to the Kanes to bend around a few rules whenever they wished to.
The sound of a throat clearing forced me to look up from the parchment. Even when I was immersed in my thoughts; I knew my face gave nothing away; a skill I had mastered long ago.
I looked up as I saw Professor Huckleberry staring at me, her lips pulled into a thin line. She picked up the parchment placed in front of me and tapped her wand to it. It only produced a spark and a loud bang. The resulting ashes were now what covered her face and hair. A few students sniggered in response, I kept my face completely straight.
‘Explain?’ she demanded.
‘This doesn’t belong to me. This is obviously a product from the Weasley joke shop.’ I wrinkled my nose to keep up the act. ‘I clearly have nothing to do with it.’
‘And it just happened to be at your desk?’
‘Landed a few seconds before you approached me.’ I stated, in a matter of a factly voice.
Professor eyed me wearily for a while until she turned away, clutching the parchment in her fist.
‘Who does this belong to?’ She asked the class. Given how no one wanted to be put in detention, as no one was guilty, no one responded. Her keen gaze kept scanning each pupil to find a weak link.
‘Fine, have it your way then. 4-foot long essay debating the legalisation of veritaserum by next class.’
Collective groaning echoed around the walls of the class.
The bell finally rang and I motioned to collect my books as I climbed off my bench. Everyone else started to file out of the room too. I followed suit. As I exited I fell in step with Michael and Charlie. They had seemed to have taken over as my personal guards as of late, my last breakdown had put them both over the edge, one would constantly be found by my side.
‘I don’t know how you’ll manage it.’ I told Michael as the three of us continued our way down the corridor.
‘You have no idea what I had to do to get permission for Hogsmeade visits.’ I internally shuddered as I recalled the memory. My father and his twisted machinations always seemed to exceed my expectations. In the end, I had to forge his signature onto my permission slip. I’m pretty sure that McGonagall knew I faked it. She probably hasn’t ever said anything because she feels sorry for me. Because who wouldn’t. I’m a walking definition of rich girl with daddy issues.
My mind was still buzzing with the knowledge that the attack on Ed was meant for James. That someone related to me in one way or another was already out to harm him, that the manipulations had already been set into action. It was all I could think of. Michael threw his arm casually around my shoulders, squeezing it a little as consolation. This was uncharacteristically odd of him; nothing about him was ever casual, not in public for everyone to see, at least.
Things really are different this year at Hogwarts.
I trailed off, staring at the inanimate object before me. Today was a Tuesday, following the Saturday night (Sunday morning?) of Ed’s Accident, which meant we both had second period free. After leaving the advanced potions classroom Mike had dragged me here, in the midst of thick foliage and damp grounds.
‘A portkey? Yes.’ Mike confirmed any suspicion that may have been swimming around in my head.
‘But...’ I tried voicing my jumbled thoughts.
‘How did you...’ Attempt number two
‘When did you even...’ Attempt number three.
I licked my lips, shaking my head to and fro, jerking my brain for coherency.
‘How?’ Monosyllabic it shall be, I thought. This was all I could muster up as I stared at the tiny coin placed at the soft gravel under our feet. It shone occasionally in the morning sun, its shiny surface glaring out at me to grab it, making my hands itch.
‘Because I’m Michel Kane.’ He offered as a way of explanation.
I wrapped my arms tighter around my chest; despite the fact that the summer days were still warm and bright, I felt a shiver crawl down my spine. The sun was immersed in the sky behind the massive trees of the Forbidden Forest, the gravel crunched under our feet as we had strolled to the place where we now stood; where the portkey had been. I knew without a doubt that Michael had called in favours and pulled around a few strings to have this moment happen, I knew without a doubt that this portkey was available at our disposal illegally.
Now the question remained how desperate was I to see Ed. I would be skiving classes on a whole new level if I agreed to leave the premises like this; there must be charms that were securing the castle and its periphery. I was all for breaking the rules like the dare devil I was, but never at the cost of getting caught. I have never gotten caught. Ever.
‘Merlin Liz! We won’t get caught!!’
I stared disbelievingly at him as he answered my contemplations. He rolled his eyes, letting out a frustrated sigh.
‘You’re thinking too loud.’ He explained. ‘It’s written all over your face.’
I couldn’t help but compare Michael with Ed. While Ed would choose to let me drown in my own misery and be a sad sap, Mike would tell me to get my act together and knock sense into me. Edward was my breathing space, he let me go with my own flow of things; Michael liked to get things done at his own pace.
‘You really want to see him, no? Come on Liz, now’s your chance.’
The sound of his voice jerked me out of my monologue. My eyes came back to focus towards his palm as he held it out in front of me, the coin placed in it, waiting for me to grab it.
I uncrossed and crossed my arms again, trying to make a decision about what I wanted. The silence between us was unnatural as he awaited my answer. My curiosity was at play again, getting to the best of me.
‘Fine.’ I said finally. I let out a breath that I didn’t realise I had been holding.
‘But there’s someone else who needs to see Ed more than I do. And we cannot go without them.’
I dragged Michael with me from the forest back to the castle. A few minutes later, he and I stood in a deserted corridor outside the Transfiguration classroom.
I spared a peek into the hall, just as Professor Wilderson turned from the front of the room.
‘Are we spying?’ Micheal whispered beside me. I shushed him with a wave of my hand.
Soon enough the bell rang, people started to file out of the room. Amongst the crowd, I tried to find her. I spotted a head of strawberry blonde hair instead, going the opposite way. I called out after it.
On cue, Dom turned at the sound of my voice, her hair flipping, eyes bright again.
‘Lestrange.’ She gave Mike a nod.
‘Is Wright in this class with you? I couldn’t find her.’
I nodded in response.
‘No. But Rose might know better. She went that way.’
Sure enough I saw a head of bright red hair. I called after her, Michael hot on his heels behind me.
‘Rose Weasley.’ I said as I reached her.
‘Merlin. How many of these are in here?’ Mike muttered under his breath, only loud enough for me to hear. I chose to ignore him.
‘Hi. Do you know where I might find Hannah? Hannah Wright?’
‘Yes. I think she has Ancient Runes next.’
‘Alright. Thank you.’
As told by James Potter.
She had disappeared again. To where, I had no clue. I last saw her in Potions, guarded by Kane and Malfoy once again. The two seemed to be attached to her at the hip by either side. Ever since Sunday morning, when she’d entered our dorm covered in blood, they seemed to be at her guard. At dinner and lunches; before, after and during classes today and yesterday, one or the other surely was attached to her side. Another course of jealousy rang through my blood. Obviously.
As the day grew to a close, I had seen Freddie walk out the classroom along with Emma Goldstein. I knew where Matt was off to, no questions asked there.
I rounded another corner, effectively wanting to lose the auror that had been following me around. Ever since Lowell’s accident, security had been tight around the castle. The attempted murder had ensued more and more bullshit to go around the school. Now aurors dotted the corridors here and there. Matt wasn’t particularly happy, it meant less sneak out time for him with my darling cousin.
The pitch was the worst. The changing room, the bleachers, the office; all were on guard. Due to some fucked up reason, the aurors seemed to be under the impression that if another attack may happen, it would happen at the pitch. Again.
I had gone for another fly, right after Defence, the summer air was cool, the auror were fucking frustrating. The idea of being constantly watched by them put me more on the edge than relax me. Soon enough I had flown down and disbanded the idea altogether.
As soon as I had dismounted my broom and exited the stadium, an auror standing at the corner started following me. I wanted to punch a wall or him, whichever way I lost my patience first, but my morals got the best of me. I sped up a little, walking down one corridor after another, purposelessly twisting and turning at wrong turns in hopes of losing the fucker. This went on for half an hour, until I finally reached the bottom of the staircase to the Astronomy Tower. I took two steps at a time, exhilarated to have lost my personal guard. I really hated being Harry Potter’s son sometimes.
I doubled over in laughter when I reached the top, gazing down the stairwell to check whether the idiot had figured out where I was or not, when suddenly a voice diverted my attention back to the opening of the Tower.
‘It’s funny. Isn’t it?’
I turned around abruptly, quidditch reflexes taking over, trying to locate where the voice had come from, I could not have been imagining it.
And sure enough, there she was, seated on the floor of the tower, her uniform askew and wrinkled. Her sleeves unbuttoned and rolled up, her tie hung loose around her neck, her robes nowhere to be seen.
She stared ahead into the horizon and the fading sun, the sky tinted with oranges and purple. Her knees were tucked into her chin, she sighed quietly.
‘When we are at Hogwarts, we tend to ignore the outside world. We only care about matters confined within these castle walls. Who’s more fit? Who’s dating who? The petty fights, grades, exams, quidditch matches.’
She paused as she gazed ahead; she pushed herself off the ground walking towards the railing.
‘And the minute we step out, we realise what a silly dream this all has been. That this, this place is just purgatory and hell awaits us. That’s when reality comes crashing in.’
She said, walking towards me. I drank in her presence once more, her eyes were bloodshot, and they seemed to be gazing far away, until she reverted them back onto me.
‘One moment. Just one moment is all it takes to change everything. Right?’
I could only nod in response. Her gaze held me in place. A slight smiles forming at her lips, tugging at the corners and lifting them up a little. She reached up, her hand touching the side of my face ever so slightly. It was cold against my skin, yet it left a hot trail in its wake, I leaned into it a little.
‘You’re a good person James. Don’t let anyone ever convince you otherwise. It’ll be such a waste.’
And just like that she was gone. I stood dumbstruck, rooted where I had been for a while. Trying to make sense of what had happened. Had I just imagined Isobel Lestrange talking me to, touching me? Had she just called me James? Reluctantly, I touched my cheek where her fingers had been, her scent was clouding my senses, lavender and strawberry. I turned towards the doorway, perplexed, wondering whether she had just exited through it or not. If I had thought Isobel had been a mystery first, she was much more right now.
A/N: So, what did you guys think? Isobel has been controlled by her father all her life and now Mike seems to be replacing him.
Who do you hate?
Who do you like?
Let me know.
Also, since I already have parts to chapter seven written, here’s a sneak peak:
‘What? No insult? No demeaning remark? Am I growing onto you Lestrange?’
I scoffed to show how absurd I found his comment, keeping up the charade.
‘So you’re just going to ignore me then?’ I felt him whisper next to my ear. I was very well aware of the alcohol on his breath; it mingled with the scent of his perfume and aftershave, the resultant fragrance clouding all my senses with heat.
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