Chapter 25: The Madness Within
Draco thought what she was saying was sheer madness! Her cousin’s closest confidant could never be responsible for the harm that was inflicted upon her. That thought was not credible. “Do you mean to tell me that you think Remus Lupin is responsible for your abduction and torture?”
“No... I mean, I don’t know,” she said, her words jumbled. She felt only despair. She did not know what to think, or feel, or what was real and what was not real. She ran toward the door, but he reached it first. He stood in front of the door to block her exit. “I don’t know who stunned me in the woods or who cursed me. It was not Mr. Lupin. I had a blindfold on, but I heard the man’s voice. Nonetheless, Mr. Lupin was the one who pointed his wand and Obliviated my memories! He took me to the outskirts of town and started my way back. I recall that. I do!” She was still murky on the finer details.
She continued, “He removed my blindfold, and said a healing spell for the pain, then he said that Lord Potter knew by now that I was missing, and so did you, and for me to think of you one last time, before you ceased to exist for me.”
Draco asked, “How can you recall this event so clearly, and precious few other memories?”
“I do not lie!” she shouted, clearly agitated that he would not believe her.
“I do not say that you lie!” he shouted back. “You might be confused.”
She pushed him away from the door, which any other time he might have found amusing, but at that moment he was becoming as frustrated as she was.
She opened the door, and said, “If you do not even believe me, then I know that my cousin shall never believe me! All hope is lost! I am alone and abandoned. I shall stay here in your home at that man’s mercy. I fear what he will do next.” With a swoosh of her skirts, she ran from the room, down the hallway to the library, and with much drama, she slammed the door shut.
Draco thought even under her distressed state that such an act was rude. He went to find his butler, but the man found him first. Draco said, “Do you know where Mr. Lupin is?”
“He has stepped out, and informed me that he will not be joining you for dinner,” the man said with a bow.
Draco found that odd. Was she telling the truth? Did Lupin suspect she knew? Draco found her memory to lack credibility. As far as he knew, Remus Lupin had only ever been her friend. He seemed to have real, genuine feelings for the girl. He knew him only as a beacon of diligence and one who always upheld the highest morals and values. Miss Granger had to be mistaken. She had to be.
Draco called back to his butler and said, “When did the man leave?”
His servant replied, “He left right after your godfather arrived. They left together.”
That new shocked Draco to his core.
Severus Snape was an unhappy man. As long as he could remember, he had been unhappy. What reason would he have for happiness? He had no wife, for the only woman he ever loved married another. He had no children, and the one person he thought of as a son now held him in contempt. He had his profession, but he did not even derive pleasure from that. He made many sacrifices in his life, all for others, and he was never compensated. No one understood what he gave up during all those years working for the Dark Lord, but also working as a spy for the light side. No one remembered these things. No, they would rather malign his character.
Remus Lupin was a lonely man. He had been lonely since he was a child. He was ostracized and vilified, because of an infliction over which he had no control. He never married nor had children. His three best friends in the world left him. All were dead. Two died fighting against the Dark Lord, and one fighting on the side of the Dark Lord. All he had in the world was his best friend’s son, and he was afraid of losing him as well. When Harry discovered the truth, he would truly cast him aside. He had to do what was best for the greater good, but Harry and Hermione may not see it that way. He could do nothing about it now but pray for forgiveness, and try to carry on the best he could.
Harry Potter was a troubled man. He felt conflicted. He loved the young Miss Weasley, but she showed that she was not to be trusted. That was how his whole life had been. He could never trust anyone. No, that was not true; he trusted his late godfather, Sirius Black, his father’s former best friend, Remus Lupin, and his dear, sweet cousin, Hermione.
After his parents died, he was taken to an elderly aunt and uncle’s house, from his mother’s side. The same aunt and uncle had raised his mother and her sister. He was miserable there, and was treated like vermin, like a scar on society. He had no idea he was the son of a viscount until he went off to school. After that, his godfather, Sirius Black, took him in and raised him at Potter’s Hall as his own son. Sirius died during the war against Voldemort. From age eleven, Harry was told that he was meant to be the saviour of the wizarding world. That was a lot to put upon the shoulders of such a young man.
Still, he did all he was told to do, with many sacrifices. After he finally defeated the Dark Lord and his Death Eaters, he thought his life would be easier. All he wanted was to bring his only living relative, Hermione Granger, to his home, marry Miss Weasley, and finally have some happiness, which every man deserves. Every man except Harry Potter, it would seem.
Draco Malfoy was a confused man. Raised proud and boastful, he lived his life with a certain arrogance, which he felt was his birthright. He evoked envy from all whom made his acquaintance, and he felt that was as it should be. He was raised to believe things were a certain way. There were no shades of grey. There was right and wrong, black and white, purebloods and the rest. He was raised to believe the lies of the Dark Lord.
To this day, deep inside, some of those lies, which were so deeply embedded in his soul, would resurface. He wanted to change. He did. He wanted to find a sweet girl to marry, one who was intelligent, with a sparkling wit, beauty, and compassion. He found that in Miss Granger, but alas, he was not free to marry her, because he was proud, and not ready to give up all that he had ever had or had ever known. Maybe someday he would. He would die for her, but not give up his name. What did that say about him? He was confused.
Hermione Granger was an intelligent woman. She was also a dreamer, but not so much that she had her head in the clouds. She was often described as levelheaded. Still, she felt that everyone deserved redemption, and that though everyone had good and bad in him or her, it was what he or she did with their choices that made the difference.
She stored away everything she had ever learned or discovered for future reference. She felt every living thing on the planet had a purpose, a reason for being, and a reason for living. Everything influenced everything else. She was a woman who believed in first impressions, but was not afraid to change them upon closer inspection. She was often thought to be wise and shrewd, and a good judge of character. If that meant she was ignorant to the real purposes of the harsher things in life… she would be ignorant.
No one could tell her she was not every bit as good as the next person was. She felt they were as good as she was, so she must be as good as they are. Now, she just had to convince everyone else of that.
Severus Snape met Remus Lupin at Malfoy Manor, and from there they Disapparated outside of the village, in a small hovel that Lupin often used when he was under his transformation. Snape roamed around the room as Lupin sat by the fireplace, where there was not even a fire.
Snape roared, “This is not good, Lupin! My own godson just accused me of having something to do with Miss Granger’s disappearance!”
Lupin, who continued to stare at the floor, said, “Well, you were involved, were you not?” He finally looked up at the man. “Did you have anything to do with the death of the downstairs maid from Potter's Hall?”
“Of course not! How dare you ask me that?” Snape bellowed. “And you know I had nothing to do with Miss Granger’s kidnapping and torture. That was never supposed to happen. What if someone else saw her with me that day? What if someone saw me at the house? You were supposed to make sure no one was aware!”
Lupin, who kept a steady voice, stood up and said, “Well, it would appear nothing happened the way it was supposed to happen. You were supposed to speak kindly to her, try to convince her to go to Hogwarts, where she would be safe and under protection, and without revealing our true intentions, but you never were one for civility.”
“You should have handled it yourself, then!” Snape scold him.
“Yes, in hindsight, I see you are correct,” Lupin said steadily. He rubbed the bridge of his nose and sighed. “You do realize that I only Obliviated her short term memory. She will remember soon. What will happen then? She will want answers, and I cannot give them to her.”
“You were wrong to Obliviate her in the first place, Lupin! I expected better judgment from you!” Snape said. He sat down in the seat Lupin had just vacated and used his wand to start a fire.
“I know. You are right. Perhaps we should just tell everyone the truth,” Lupin said.
“And what truth would you tell them?” Snape asked. “The one you told me, or the real truth.”
“I don’t know what you mean.” Lupin was tired, so very tired.
“I wonder,” Snape began, “if there is not more to the story you told me. It makes some sense that you wouldn’t tell me the whole story, after all, you never fully trusted me.”
“We could never be certain whose side you were really on during the war,” Lupin explained, “Therefore, your statement holds truth. I never told you the whole truth for that very reason. I never fully trusted you, and I still do not.”
“What would it have mattered if I had told the girl the truth as I knew it? Would it really have been the end of the world?” Snape asked.
“It would have been the end of her world,” Lupin surmised. “I wanted to spare her pain. I also thought I could wipe out the memory of her being tortured. Do you swear to me you had nothing to do with it?”
“I swear, man! I would never have tortured a young girl!” Snape scoffed. “I merely took her to the woods, as a ruse, to try to convince her to go to Hogwarts. It went badly. She was too enamored with Malfoy by that time. I had no idea that the true culprit would appear. I now realize that she ran right into his clutches. I looked all over for her, but she just disappeared. As soon as I got back to Spinner’s End, Marcus Flint told me of the man’s plan. It was when I realized that the young miss was with the bastard that I told you where you could find her.”
“Yes, and when I found her, I Obliviated her memory, because YOU told me that you had told her the true circumstances of her birth. Therefore, I thought I had no choice! I made sure she was safely on the road back to the village, and that someone would find her. It was all I could do,” Remus pointed out.
“Well, I lied, did I not? I never told the girl a thing!” Snape said, standing once again. “I told you that I confided to Miss Granger merely to cause you distress! I might remind you that you lied too, did you not? Did you think no one would ever find out the truth?”
“How would you know the truth?” Remus asked.
“From the girl’s own adoptive mother, and right before she died. I went to the woman, in Kent, in the hope that she might recognize me from when we were younger, and she did. She confessed it all on her deathbed, the poor woman. Why did you see fit to lie to me, Lupin? Did you think it would make a difference? Did you think I would not help hide the child, if I knew of its true parentage?”
“There was always that thought, yes,” Remus said. “Still, you should have told me you knew the 'real' truth. You should not have run off like a wounded puppy, spouting revenge, and claiming you were going to tell the girl your version of the truth, when you already knew the real story. It was badly done on all of our parts. She will never forgive me, once she starts to remember, and neither will Harry.”
“And that is sad why?” Snape snapped. “Who are they really to you? You told me years ago to hide the child, because she was your own, but that was the lie, was it not? You told me that she was the child of yourself and Andromeda Black, which would make her a pureblood, and also make her Draco’s cousin. You told me that after Andromeda died in childbirth, you were afraid of Lucius Malfoy’s wife staking a claim on your child. You told a lie, Sir! And I see no reason for it! How did Andromeda really die?”
“That is not important at this time. Her family would have killed her anyway, if she had not died. It was a convenient, however heartbreaking, happenstance,” Remus said sadly.
“The girl’s mother... was she at least a pureblood? I have to know!” Snape asked.
“The truth is not far from that,” he said.
“Not far! There is a great and vast difference from a pureblood and one that is not!” Snape said. "WHO WAS HER MOTHER? WHO WAS HER FATHER?"
“It makes no difference now. The only difference is that if you had known who her father was, no matter who her mother was, you would not have helped me. Telling you that Hermione was mine was the only way to get you to help me all those years ago. You do not hate me, no matter what you want people to believe, but you did hate her real father."
"Futhermore, I cannot help but think that you would like to dispose of her, because if she is a pureblood, your godson would be free to marry her, without reproach or fear that he might lose his estate. You were thinking of that, perhaps, when you tried to force your ward on him,” Remus concluded.
He walked over to the window, as the sun was setting low in the sky, and said, “It is over. The lies, as well as the reasons for the lies. I don’t know why we kept the farce up this long.”
“I think you do know why,” Snape said. “If you think you can make the real circumstances of her birth public knowledge, and not hurt someone, mostly her, you are mistaken.”
“She said she thinks of me as her father,” Remus said, wistfully.
“There’s the rub, man,” Snape remarked, “Apparently, you are not. No matter the lies you told yourself or me all these years that you are, YOU ARE NOT! I feel I know who her real father was, especially as you said it was someone that I hated. It was Potter Senior, wasn’t it? No, don’t answer, I know Potter was her father, but my question is, who was her real mother?”
Lupin laughed and said, “If the lies no longer matter, I see no reason to cleanse my soul. That story will go with me to the grave.”
“You know there are still those who mean to do her harm,” Snape reasoned. “You and the rogue Sirius Black worked so diligently during the war to protect her. You made Harry Potter do the same during the second war, and in the end, she is still unsafe. Even without the knowledge of who her mother is, she is unsafe, and do you want to know why? Because she IS James Potter’s daughter, and the people who wanted to do her harm will still want to do her harm, no matter who her mother was.” Snape started to leave.
He turned back and told Remus, “I wash my hands of this. I can no longer help you. I have risked too much. I only helped you in the beginning because of the prophecy. Now that the Dark Lord is vanquished, and her enemy is someone unknown, I know not how we can help her. I know there are more people involved in this than just the man Flint gave up. However, those things are unimportant, because someone might have seen me with her that day, and suspect me, as Draco does.
“Therefore, I must leave here to go back to Hogwarts, were I belong. This is a turn of events over which I have no control. Good luck keeping her safe. You will need it, but I shall not help you this time. I cannot bear the thought of losing my godson’s affection.”
Snape turned to leave the little cottage, his cape bellowing out behind him. As he reached the door, Remus asked, “Would you change your mind about protecting her, if you knew who her mother was?”
Lord Malfoy went to the library, where Hermione was sitting at the desk, writing a note, fast and furious. The quill broke when he entered.
“It is just me.” Holding up his hands, he asked, “What are you doing? Are you composing a letter?”
“I am writing you a goodbye letter,” she said.
He laughed at her. “You are not leaving, so save your goodbyes.” He meant to make light, because he did not want her to know that he was secretly worried that there might be truth to her story, especially with the news that Lupin left with Snape. He did not want to cause the young Miss any more alarm, and he wanted an air of contentment around her. “Now, go changed into something pretty for my eyes to feast upon for dinner.”
She threw the letter she started on the ground. He thought she was a spitfire. That was certain. She made to walk past him, but again, he blocked her way.
“Let me leave this place, Lord Malfoy, for when Remus Lupin returns, I will be unsafe,” she pleaded. She ran past him out the door, and down the hallway, and he reached out, but his hand merely skimmed her skirt. She ran up the stairs and he waited at the bottom. She had nowhere to go. He knew that and he knew that she knew it as well. She was merely afraid of what she had uncovered.
Draco finally ran up the stairs and down the long, dark, cavernous hallway to the east wing. He found her standing against the wall, outside her bedchamber door. He pulled on her arm, spinning her around to face him. When he turned her around, he saw she was once again crying. “Miss, listen to me! You have nowhere to go! You may not even know what you are saying is true! You may be remembering another event. Your memory may be sketchy.”
She bent her head, in silent contemplation, and in a voice that was barely audible, she said, “I know what I saw. I know what I remember.” She shook her head back and forth. “I trusted him. I loved him as a father.”
Malfoy’s heart was breaking for the girl. She stood with her back against the wall and her arms to her side. Her chest was heaving with each tear shed.
He watched her chest rise and fall, with anguished sobs, aware of a pain in his own chest, a steady presence, which was more than pain. What was this odd feeling he was feeling? Could it possibly be empathy? He had never felt empathy like this before. It was more than sympathy for he actually felt her hurt. If only he could look inside her mind and discover if what she remembered was true. He knew nothing he said to her could mitigate her distress. He only knew one thing to do.
He approached her, and placed first his right hand beside her head on the wall and then he placed his left hand on the other side. He leaned his forehead to hers, his added height causing her head to lean back against the wall. She ventured her gaze into his eyes. Her eyes were red and shadowed. Bringing his hands quickly to her cheeks, he leaned his face down to press his lips upon her forehead for swift kiss.
“Hermione. Sweet, sweet girl.” With each word mumbled he kissed her right cheek and then her left. He quickly pulled her to him, and swathed her in his embrace. His Hermione. His love. His cherished one. He lifted her from the ground, standing his full height, her body pressed intimately against his, her feet off the floor. He murmured soothing words in her ear, as his arms held her tightly, her arms arms tied around his neck. Her pain was almost too much for him to abide and the notion that she was still in danger troubled him even more. He placed her feet back on the floor, but his hold remained steadfast.
Her sobbing finally ceased, and she was completely hushed and somber. He lifted her from the floor completely, his arms around her back and under her legs, went to her door and kicked it open. Her lady’s maid approached.
“Is something wrong, Milord?” she asked.
“The lady is unwell. Send someone to fetch her cousin, Viscount Potter, immediately.” He still had her in his arms. He laid her on the bed, and knelt down beside it. She turned to her side, and closed her eyes, and her tears began again. He brushed the hair away from her face.
“I will protect you from harm,” he said in hushed tones. He leaned against the bed, and placed a kiss in her hair.
“I have no hope,” she said without effort. It was how she felt.
“There is always hope,” he countered. Seeing her misery pulled at every fiber of his being. His soul was screaming anguished cries right along with hers, yet he was powerless to help her.
“Lord Malfoy, I remember it all. I remember being stunned, and tortured, but not only that; I remember my life since I came here. Most of all, I remember that I love you. I do. And you are not free to love me in return, so when I say there is no hope, then I mean that there is no hope.” She sat up, and in her effort to leave again, she pushed him, causing him to stumble back, and to fall to the ground from his kneeling position. She ran down the stairs, near hysterics.
At the bottom of the stairs was Remus Lupin. From the look on her face, he knew she remembered. He just knew. She saw him and ran back up the stairs, past Lord Malfoy. Remus and Draco both followed her, where she ran into the upstairs lounge, both men at her heels. She threw open the double doors that led to an upstairs veranda, and without further ado, or a fare-the-well, she Disapparated away.
Remus looked at Draco, who stared at nothing. He merely stared into the space where she once stood. She was gone - just like that. When Draco changed his wards, he did not think to change them so that SHE could not leave!
Draco said, “At least she remembered how to Apparate!”