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Someone To Run To (25/32 - Part One)

 
Interlude

"The mistake began when God was created in a male image. Of course, women would see Him that way, but men should have been gentlemen enough, remembering their mothers, to make god a woman! But the God of Gods – the Boss – has always been a man. That makes life so perverted and death so unnatural. We should have imagined life as created in the birth-pain of God the Mother. Then we would understand why we, Her children, have inherited pain, for we would know that our life's rhythm beats from Her great heart, torn with the agony of love and birth. And we would feel that death meant reunion with Her, a resigning back into Her substance, blood of Her blood again, peace of Her peace!"

- - Nina Leeds in Strange Interlude by Eugene O'Neill - -


Part Four: 7th Year

Chapter Twenty-Five, In Which I Have Good, Old-Fashioned Family Vengeance-Seeking


 
On the eve of my seventeenth birthday, three weeks after Remus and Tonks left for the Muggle market to pick up what I needed for dinner and returned without the rosemary I wanted and with a pair of – platinum – rings upon their fingers, I was in the kitchen again. The three kitchen fires were lit, awaiting word from whoever needed to send it. I was the only one at HQ – well, Claudia was asleep in a crib in the far corner by the Russian stove, while Alycone was upstairs in the library with her Sino-Japanese comics and her brother in his room, trying to figure out how to best answer the latest letter Gabrielle Delacour had sent him – and watching the fires mercilessly for any hint of news, while Persephone and Ralph prattled on the WNN's late show.
"…some interesting rumours from the isle."
"I don't know if you can call them rumours. Mr. Cuthbert Mockridge of Suffolk, Deputy Head of the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures and notoriously 'soft' on part-human creatures, has been missing for three days now."
"Still, Persephone, rumour has it that the body found in the Thames just outside of Southend-on-Sea was that of Mrs. Malfalda Rendell Hopkirk of Islington – wife of Taggard Hopkirk, the bestselling murder mystery books The Death of-"
"Yes, Ralph, we know of your passion for mystery novels. Do get on with it. People won't wait forever for the news."
"Anyone who really wanted the news would have listened to it at six. Or ten… Anyhow, as anyone who listened to the news at six or ten would know, a body matching the description of Mrs. Hopkirk, Head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement since the murder of Amelia Bones a year ago, was found west of Southend-on-Sea early this afternoon by Muggle authorities and, shortly thereafter, taken into the custody of the British Ministry of Magic."
"No official word has been given as to the identity of the deceased has been released, though WNN's sources tell us that the decedent was between sixty and ninety years of age, of Indo-European descent, and did not die of drowning, though her body was dredged from the Thames."
"Mrs. Hopkirk, eighty-three, has been missing since Tuesday last. Shortly before her disappearance she proposed to enact Article Five, Section vee-eye-eye of the Reasonable Restriction of…"
I took a ball of pastry dough out of the refrigeration cabinet and began to roll it on the flour-dusted table, where I could watch both the fires and Paracelsus, who in turn lay curled before the surprisingly modern hi-fi, his heads upon his tail, humming along with the radio show's background music.
Hestia Jones, a thirty-something member of the Order whose matronly appearance was entirely at odds with her severe, business-like demeanour, had a deputy position in the Department of Magical Accidents and Catastrophes. She'd called in just after the ten o'clock news to say that the body near Southend-on-Sea was Malfalda Hopkirk's, and they were delaying releasing the news until they could do something so that someone, anyone other then her Deputy, Pius Thicknesse, became Head of that department after her.
Kingsley, Tonks, Sirius, Remus, Bill, and a handful of the other, more offensive-spell inclined of the Order were camped out near likely spots of Death Eater destruction, in case Voldemort decided to start my birthday celebrations early. Severus was too, on Knoctern with a flask of Polyjuice, trying to discern the truth in the rumours running there.
I placed the rolled-out dough on a plate and picked up a knife, setting myself to coring and cutting apples once more. Then frowned. I only had a single apple left, not enough for a pie. Blueberry it would be then.
As I was de-stemming the fruit and throwing it, dejected, into the colander, Acel nudged the volume back up on the radio.
"…morrow, which has some number of British Wizards worried. The disappearances of the Deputy Head of the DRCMC and the Head of the DMLE are only the most… significant of those that have spiralled since the death of the beloved Albus Percieval Wulfric Brian Dumbledore, Supreme Mugwump of the ICW, Chief Warlock of the English Wizengamot, Grand Sorcerer, and member of the Order of Merlin, first class, barely a month ago. How many of these disappearances can be blamed about He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named cannot be made certain."
"What is certain, though, is as time passes-"
"-or comes closer to the birthday of the Girl-Who-Lived, Countess Dover, who has been named in certain papers the 'Chosen One' who can defeat You-Know-Who-"
"-the disappearances, murders, and attempted murders are only becoming the more frequent. "Alexandrie-Margaux Éléonore Henriette Snape, la Baronne de Calais in her own right and Countess Dover through marriage-" My heart rose to my throat at the mention of my name, as if it might bring some dreadful catastrophe upon me with its weight.
"-who – sorry, Persephone."
"-as I was saying, Éléonore Snape neé Potter is to turn seventeen in, oh, twenty-three minutes, but already the hopes of all of England, it seems, are upon her. I'm not an Englishman like yourself, Ralph, so it's not my place to say…"
"Nor are you a man at all, Persephone, but a Hellene witch is still a fine woman, in my book." I snorted and slid the stems from cutting board into the trash, which promptly composted them. I personally thought that Ralph was the sort who thought all women "fine." My heart slid back into its proper place.
"Well," Persephone said slowly over the radio, "I've been looking at the charter for the British ministry, and some things have been made perfectly clear. If their Minster leaves office without designating a proxy to sit until the next election, the Head of the DMLE becomes interim Minster, then the Deputy Head of that Department, and then the other Heads and Deputies in some annoyingly complicated pattern. But Mrs. Hopkirk is missing, presumed dead. Minster Scrimgerour has no proxy. It is unknown whether Mrs. Hopkirk has or not. Which would make Mr. Thicknesse British Minister of Magic, should something happen to Minister Scrimgerour…"
Then, with the comfort only a man currently sitting in the WNN Radio headquarters in Düsseldorf, six happy hours away, could have in these days, "I've no problems with wizards who care for history and seek to keep it from disappearing. I've no problem with those who'd rather associate with others of our kind, not understanding the strange place the Muggle world has become since they ousted the Bourbons and Habsburgs and took to their machines and electricity. I've no problem with those who feel that – within reason – part-humans and others, who could cause great trouble if discovered by Muggles, should be restricted in certain movements.
"But," Ralph said, growing fervent, "What I do have a problem with are those who would hold history higher than the present times and seek to return to what is long past. And I have problem with those who would, rather then live separate from the Muggles – in seclusion, yes, put in peace too, for we may have magic, yes, and have been more powerful than they for many, many centuries, but the Muggles have taken that power into their own hands, and what He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named and others like him fail to realize is that all the magic in the world cannot stop bullets, or bombs. The Wizarding world does not have tanks, I say to them, or ships. We do not have armies or aeroplanes, only our wands. And wands can burn…
"And as for those that would feel that careful precaution is useless, I must say: you are fools. They feel that, rather then protect our part-human – the centaurs, the merpeople, – and humanoid brethren – goblins, giants, hags – should sooner be destroyed rather then protected from those that would harm them. And as for those unfortunates infected beyond their means – werewolves, vampires, – why, they wish to do away with them all together when but one night a month are the former dangerous and the later, through the miracle of modern medicine, can survive off of willingly donated blood without need killing any. By joining up with this latest Dark Lord, these non-human brethren of ours do only themselves a disservice, making the jobs of those of us, sound-minded and tolerant of differences, to convince others of their true nature all the harder. And we do not, my friends, live in easy days."
"It seems to me, Ralph, that with the death of Headmaster Dumbledore – a hero, if you will, of the last war – the British Wizarding world has abdicated responsibility for He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named and his followers until a new hero can step up. I do not know if it is because so much is going on, and the Auror office there can no longer keep order within their borders, or if some one will not let them keep it, only that, were Mr. Thicknesse to become Minister of Great Britain, things will become decidedly worse there and wherever else the Darkness chooses to spread its fingers."
"You're saying that The Countess Dover is the hero the Brits need to restore law before the Muggles take notice of us?"
"Maybe, Ralph. Maybe. Anyone who can, before their seventeenth birthday, be responsible for the death of seventeen and the detention of twenty-one Death Eaters – including the one responsible for the murder of Headmaster Dumbledore, seventeen-year-old Draco Cygnus Malfoy – whilst protecting her fellow students at Hogwarts School is not your average schoolgirl."
"I'd say the fact that she married former Death Eater, Severus Eteocles Snape, who also happens to be one of her professors, would prove that, and, if any additional proof were needed, I'd point to the fact that she took her Defence NEWT last June despite only being a Sixth Year and having young…"
"Lady Claudia-Éléonore Séléné Snape?" the woman offered helpfully.
"Yes, Lady Claudia – for some reason, I must admit, I keep wanting to call her Lady Claire…"
Paracelsus turned down the radio again as it turned to nonsense about the rumour I had decided against Buddhist monks raising my daughter and been looking into instead having mute Tibetan nuns or blind Siamese clerics take her off my hands.
"Mute Tibetan nuns indeed," and I poured the washed and sweetened berries into the pie pan, ignoring the people on the radio calling me to be a hero – to do anything other then stand here in this kitchen, baking pies of every flavour through the night while my friends and family waited on darkened street corners or smoke-filled bars for an action that may never come. For all we knew, Riddle wouldn't try a mass Muggle murder spree like he'd given me for a wedding present, and, like Persephone Sampinos had said on the radio, would go after the Ministry instead; maybe Riddle wouldn't do anything for my seventeenth birthday, just because we thought he would. But, then again, he'd hid his Horcruces across one isle (or so I thought) and made them out of similar things – and save them. But could I? Yes, I had killed seventeen Death Eaters that night. Yes, I had helped to capture the remaining, who were now held in detention facilities in the MoM because Azkaban was no longer certain. I had "contained" Dumbledore's murderer. I'd been nominated for another Order of Merlin – first class, this time – for my actions in the entrance hall. (I could remember it even now, the 'Puff's telling the others as I walked past, how I had told them what was happening and gotten them to safety, how one of the Death Eaters only a year out of Hogwarts had tried to crucio poor Susan Bones and though I'd been trading curses with two others across the hall I sent a Killing Curse her assailant's way before the first syllable was out of his mouth). And yet I was in my adoptive father's kitchen making pies, waiting for news because I couldn't sleep, because I lived through that night over and over in my dreams, and was afraid to sleep. And they weren't only dreams of what really happened that night. They were dreams of him. Harry. Who he was and what he might be doing in my dreams, I don't know, only that he might have been me or something like and that world was all messed up and wrong and Severus was evil and Claudia didn't even exist and it was almost worse to watch his dreams then to see the battle replayed over and over again until I could have sworn blood that head never hit me was staining my hands and drying on every plane of me, sinking into my skin so that their unspeakable evil was added into mine until I was Darker and more cruel then Voldemort ever was…
He who fights monsters should see to it that he does not become a monster. And when you stare into the abyss, the abyss stares back into you.
I couldn't hold it in any more, and broke down, crying shamelessly as I sank to the floor where I stood, knocking the table that held half-finished pie as I did so, causing berries to spill. I crushed a few, and their acerbic smell did little to bring me to my senses.
Either I loose, I thought, and everyone I love dies. Or…
Or I win, and loose myself in the winning. And, because nothing could stop me, because, as much as I wanted to live, I had to protect them, and would gladly give up life and land for them, even if that meant becoming something they'd have to destroy later…
I laughed at this thought, still crying, and this turned into a fit of hiccups that more annoyed me then anything else.
"Are you?"
"Alright?"
"Mère?"
I paused long enough in my hysteria to look upwards from where I lay on the floor. All three of Paracelsus's heads were poking over the edge of the table, looking at me with various levels of concern and/or interest. "It's just stressss." I told them. "And hormonesss. And sleep-deprivation."
Tersely, Sus lectured, "Mère, how do you expect to take care of usss and Claudia if you do not sleep? Sleep is essential to scale-lessss onesss: you become very stupid without it. Sleep now."
"Someone has to watch the firesss," I coughed, feeling sick to my stomach from it all. Even the smell of my many, many pies was too much for me right then, and only trough great skilful skill did I force myself not to be sick.
"I will watch the firesss," said Par practically.
"Only," Sus said with a serpentine sneer, "Mère can understand us-"
Calmly, Acel interrupted as if commenting on weather, "And the evil Speaker."
"And the evil Speaker. So, unlessss Mr. Evil decidesss to pop over for tea, I don't think that's a good idea."
"You don't think anything'sss ever a good idea, Sussss."
"Maybe Susss should get laid." Par, Sus, and myself all turned to look at the middle head of the Runespoor curiously. I think my face, between hiccups that were quickly dissolving into coughs and sputters as sharp, vile-tasting bile threatened to rise in my throat, was a most peculiar shade of cran-apple. "What? That'sss what Mère always saysss about Gran-père. What doesss 'get laid' mean, anyway? Isss it like sunbathing?"
"I like sunbathing-"
"But, what Par isssn't saying, brother, isss that you're an idiot."
The three began to fight amongst themselves, shouting and biting at each other until they woke Claudia, who had lately taken to sleeping through the night. "Now look at what you've done, Paracelsusss: you've woken your sister," I hissed at them, going to my baby in her crib by the stove. "Oh, Claudia, what is it? Huh, baby girl? What's wrong? Mummy's here," I told her, cradling her on my hip and swaying slowly back and forth. "Did your mean brothersss wake you? I think they did."
Claudia gurgled at me, calming down quickly now that she knew the source of the noise. I brushed a lock of thick black hair back from her face and smiled. She smiled back at me, which somehow made everything better. The middle fire roared to life then, and a voice came wafting through, asking, "Operator?"
Trying not to sound as sick as I felt, "What's your emergency?"
"Ely? It's Hestia. Arthur and I managed to file the proxy paperwork for Hopkirk. Back up; we're coming through."
The emerald flames roared higher and only a quick step back prevented me from being bowled over as the matronly-looking woman stepped through, pink-cheeked and cheery-looking despite the severe cut of her dark hair and the steely glint in her eyes. Hestia gave me a curt nod as she dusted herself off, saw my legion of pies on the countertops, and proceeded to rustle up a plate and silverware from the deep and sometimes malevolent drawers. Mr. Weasley, still thin and all elbows-and-knees after nearly five decades, followed shortly thereafter, and the fire calmed itself.
"Éléonore m'girl. And little Claudia," (he paused here to kiss his pseudo-granddaughter on the crown of her head). "Good to see you both. What a night. Is that pie?"
I nodded, slightly abashed, "Peach, apple, blueberry… I think there might even be some ice cream left…" Quickly, I turned the radio down so that the music – Muggle, from the sounds of it – was all but off and grabbed my Runespoor by the tail, stuffing him, to Claudia's amusement, in the pocket of my robes with his string and his interesting stones. "So," trying to ignore the wiggling of snake warfare going on in my pocket, "you said you got the paperwork filed?"
"Oh, yes," Mr. Weasley said, helping himself to a slice of apple pie, "getting it backdated was the hard part, but we were able to get it filed it with the papers from June, so it should hold up."
"Who'd you put down as proxy?"
Nervously, stealing a glance at Hestia, "Well, you see, we've reason to believe that You-Know-Who is going to try to take out Scrimgour." I nodded, waiting for him to get to the point. "He also refuses to name a proxy – calls it 'a defeatist attitude' – so, effectively, whoever holds Hopkirk's proxy will be Minister until elections can be held-"
"Which could be ages," I supplied, shifting Claudia to my other hip, "what with everything going on as it is. But anyone's better then that bastard Thicknesse. So, who? Kingsley?"
"Er, no."
"Oh, please don't tell me you put down Moody-"
"For God's sake, Arthur! Just tell the girl."
"Tell me what?"
"Well… anyone who knew Hopkirk would know how she felt about aurors and hitwizards in charge of anything – she always said that they attacked first, thought second… and we also had to choose someone who could keep the country together, at least at face value… be something of a rallying point, you know, for the legitimate government…"
"Yes, yes, because any case where her proxy actually becomes interim Minister would, necessarily, be a government-in-exile…"
"Which is why we… er… put your name down as proxy."
I about dropped Claudia.
"Congrats," Hestia offered, sliding a slice of pie my way. "You're the Interim Head of the DMLE."

) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (

I don't think I went to bed until the sun rose. Not much hereafter I was cruelly woken, pulled from dazed half-slumber in Severus's arms.
"Happy Birthday!" nearly everyone I knew shouted.
"No it's not," I mumbled, and turned, trying to burry my face in Severus's laughing – and curious dressed – form. In any other instance, I think he might have woken at the intrusion, and maybe he had, but right now I think he was too exhausted to care: though I might have taken up the logistical slack of Dumbledore's death, he still felt the need to try to gather as much information as possible, as if, if he'd been a better spy, none of this would have happened, and he was trying to keep something else from coming to pass that was not wanted.
A few of those annoying birthday whistles – the kind that curl outward when you blow into them and, in this case, sparkled, burst with confetti, and gave forth smelly puffs of smoke too – sounded in the air. "Come on, Ely," said another voice. You've got presents downstairs in need of opening."
"Go 'way," I told them, and pulled the blanket tighter.
Someone, probably Acel, turned on Paracelsus's radio, which was sitting on my beside and blasted thirty volume Muggle music into my ear, singing along as soon as he caught the tune, "…a bit too insane, icing over a secret pain. You know you don't belong. You're the first to fight. You're way too loud. You're the flash of light on a burial shroud. I know something'sss wrong…"
"I'm going to hex somebody," I said, though I doubt if anyone could have heard me over the racket the radio was making, "if you don't let me sleep."
"…Well everyone I know has got a reason to stay; put the past away. I wish you would step back from that ledge my friend; you could cut tiesss with all the liesss that you've been living in…" Blearily, I clutched the blankets to me and fumbled for the radio knob. After a moment, I found it and slammed it off. Acel carried on for a moment, "…and if you do not want to see me again, I would understand…" then turned and examined the speakers as if they'd betrayed him. "That wasss cold, Mére," the middle head of my Runespoor insisted, then curled upon himself and sulked.
Defeated, I summoned my robe towards me and shrugged it on, glaring at the beaming faces crowding the room and most of the hall beyond. "You couldn't have waited until, I dunno, teatime to assault me with balloons and streamers."
"Nope," said Tonks, who was closest and wearing lurid orange hair and a yellow shirt that had the words Auror Line Do Not Cross zooming around it, and clasped me in a birthday hug the moment my feet were touching ground. Her shirt turned bright red where I touched it and let loose loud police sirens that slowly quieted as the red stains faded through orange and back to yellow. "Wotcher, Éléonore."
"Where do you get these shirts?" I asked, trying for the dresser, but being headed off by Sirius, Remus, Mrs. Weasley, and Fleur, the last of whom handed me a medium brown bag and shoved me towards the bathroom.
"A cousin on my dad's side makes them. Third cousin twice removed by marriage, but still," Tonks called through the door as I threw on the short, strapless dress and the shoes with too high a heel for first thing after a long, stressful night. "Old bird lives in Consett. Gotta be ninety if a day. Buys Muggle clothes, charms them, and goes to parties on the continent over the summer. Absolutely insane. You'd like her, I think."
I was trying to charm my hair to do something to make me look presentable, rather then a fancily dressed putain, but paused at this. Would I like the "old bird" because she made bizarre shirts, or because she was insane? Should I be insulted? I shook it off and blinked my leaden lids. Smile, I told myself. Be happy. They worked hard for this; it wasn't their fault that I'd not gotten but what, three, four hours of sleep? I'd no idea what time it was, only that it was too early, whatever time it was. I needed a watch. Normally I'd have been up by now, to feed Claudia. I hadn't heard her when Acel turned on "Jumper," so I assumed Mrs. Weasley or one of the others had moved her into Alycone's room or Oliver's. I tried to tell myself it was okay, that she was among friends and family here, and she was safe. But there was a nagging worry in the back of my head (which, I was certain, was already experiencing the beginnings of an aneurysm) when I couldn't see her, made all the worse because I'd tried to nurse her before bed and couldn't, and was rather worried that wouldn't be able to today, and that I was a failure of some sort as a mother for failing her this way, when she was only three months old.
Out of habit, I ducked down and peeked into the box under the sink that held various feminine hygiene products. The box inside, plain wooden thing, was untouched as always. But still I checked for, inside, lay the broken Horcrux of the Gaunt ring, the fake locket, and the half of whatever remained of Riddle's soul inside Ravenclaw's diadem. I sighed with relief and plastered a smile on my face, heading out to face the party.
No sooner had I opened the door then was I set upon by hands and pulled downstairs, where singing streamers ("…out, dig me in outta this mess, baby out of my head…" went the red, the yellow, "…be paranoid, but not an android. When I am king, you will be first against the wall with your opinion which is of no consequence at all. What's this? I may be…" while the blue, "…feel the snake bite enter…" whenever someone brushed against them, and so largely people tried not to) and balloons that would, at random intervals, spew forth confetti upon the unvigilant, held sway. It was overwhelming, the all the people, who were happy for the first time since Dumbledore died it seemed, and sound and bright, shiny paper filled with presents I still couldn't quite justify myself as deserving. And the cake, so large, and almost too sweet to eat… and all the presents. I couldn't even begin to name them all, or who they were from. Ministers, in the British and French MoMs; friends from Hogwarts; my family; random Light and Grey families I knew only in passing; boards of directors from at least five companies I, apparently, held strong stock in; the knife maker who I'd purchased Severus's Christmas present from; the jeweller who'd made my presents from Severus; The DPNN, WNN, the Mexican Red de la Noticias de los Magos, both major Sino-Japanese news conglomerates, and a Farsi-language paper; and, of course, from the Order. I felt overwhelmed, and told them so.
"Nonsense, Ely," Mrs. Weasley insisted, "You only turn seventeen once," which, I supposed, in her mind, justified this all.
The party went on late until the morning (which was to say, elevenish, when those who'd been up all night, like Hestia and Mr. Weasley, and those who'd gotten little sleep, like me and Severus, were dozing off, and those who'd gotten enough sleep were wanting lunch) before I could get Severus alone and ask him why everyone's doing this for me.
"There are three hundred and sixty-four days when you might get un-birthday presents and only one for birthday presents, you know."
I groaned. "Lewis Carroll? Honestly, Severus, of all the Muggle children's authors you could have chosen to read, you read Carroll? I'm a fan of nonsense just as much as any witch, but you can't tell me more then three sentences in Through the Looking Glass made any sense at all."
"Nor did I," he explained. "Still, people have had precious little to celebrate lately, what with the werewolf and the metamorph-"
"Remus and Tonks," I corrected.
"-eloping like they did, your birthday is the first thing they've had. And, if not a life with a little bit of dancing, a little bit of music and laughing, and the ability to make complete fools of ourselves if we so choose, what then are we fighting for?"
"As for you, Gilgamesh," I told him, leaning against his shoulder and trying not to yawn, "fill your belly with good things; day and night, night and day, dance and be merry, feast and rejoice. Let your clothes be fresh, bathe yourself in water, cherish the little child that holds your hand, and make your wife happy in your embrace; for this too is the lot of man."
"Tell me you're not reading The Epic of Gilgamesh to Claudia while I'm away," he laughed. It was good to hear him laugh. It reverberated in his chest and tickled my ear.
"No. Only stories where, against all odds, the hero lives through defeating the bad guy, marries, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. Lord of the Rings, Sabriel, the Ender's Game quartet… the usual. I figure we should wait until she's old enough to understand the real world never ends that well before starting her in on the tragedies." He laughed at that too, and so did I. It was sleep deprivation, probably, and the downward spiral of the sugar high my birthday cake had given me. Evil cake. Very, very good, but I was beginning to feel sick from all the sugar.
"Alice Liddell was twenty years younger then Carroll," he said conversationally a few moments later, when were on the couch, leaning against each other to stay upright.
"Is that so?" I asked sleepily, already drifting off.
"We have to leave soon," he shook me awake, "and yes."
It took me a minute to remember the reason behind this leaving, and I soured to it. "Is it too late to say I've changed the mind?"
"No. You'd have inconvenienced a few, but whatever you say, they'll do. You're their leader now."
I made a face he couldn't see but knew I'd make. "Just because Hestia and Mr. Weasley fooled the paperwork into thinking Hopkirk named me her proxy doesn't mean I'm anyone's leader."
"You know what I mean. The Order knows Dumbledore shared something with you – the Horcruces – that is crucial to ending this war. You may only be seventeen, Éléonore, but they look to you for guidance. Because you do not go out on missions, you've been able to collate the information we gather and research more then any one else. And, because of this, you can tell us how best to do the missions… in short, you've made it your duty, so you might as well call yourself by the proper title while doing it."
I glared half-heartedly at him and went upstairs to gather Claudia from Winky. We'd a trip to hell to go on.

Chapter Twenty-Five - Part Two.