Hogwarts and the Wolf in the Fold

Voldemort puts a spy into Hogwarts.
Set during the year of the Half-blood Prince.

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8. Lord of the Manor

 Lord of the Manor

The bedroom door creaked open and David peered over the bed to find Pinky coming in with his breakfast on a tray.
“Why is Master apprentice hiding under the bed?” She asked him.
David looked at her a little sheepishly and picked himself up.
“Fell off my broomstick.” He said, without thinking. Then felt even more stupid when he realised what he had said.
Pinky blinked and the side of her face began to tic. She had to turn away as she filled up with silent giggles and her shoulders began to heave.
After a minute she seemed to gather herself up and turned to face David again. He just lay there with a look of blank bewilderment on his face.
“Master apprentice must dress soon and come downstairs. Pinky has just received a message from her true Master.” She said this with a slight hesitation, as if she were not sure if this was a good or bad news.
“Master Rodolphus will be returning here this afternoon. Pinky must make preparations.”
David jumped up at this news. Another wizard coming to the house? It looked like he would be able to find out more about the wizarding world and maybe even his parents too. But how would the house-owner react to finding David living under his roof?
He quickly dressed and suddenly the thought struck him that he had only set of robes and he had been wearing them for days on end, yet they always smelled clean and fresh each morning. He was used to having his laundry done for him, but there was usually more than one pair of trousers and a shirt in the wardrobe.
“Pinky, have you been washing my clothes in the night while I’m asleep?”
“Of course, Master. It is the sign of a good house-elf that she does the housework without being seen or heard.” She looked at him with pride.
“Then you must be one of the best.” He said.
“I’ve never woken up once!”
Once again Pinky’s face turned a bright crimson as she curtsied and pattered out through the door.
David spent the morning flicking through the books he had been given, but now the spells in them seemed familiar and ridiculously easy. All he needed was a wand to try them out. He was itching to create more light inside the room so that he could brighten the place up a bit. It all seemed so gloomy and old-fashioned.
It wasn’t too long after lunch when there was a commotion in the hall outside and David stood up in anticipation.
The door opened and Pinky crept in looking very happy but also behaving very prim and proper.
“Master apprentice is waiting here for you, sir.”
A tall man wearing dark, well-cut wizarding robes entered briskly. He was good-looking, with short black wavy hair and a neatly trimmed goatee. He looked like he had not eaten very well for a long time and there was a slightly haunted look about his face.
He didn’t acknowledge David at first, but looked around the room taking in every detail. He seemed to be trying to remember something, maybe checking to make sure that it was real.
He blinked a tear away and hung his head down on his chest, breathing deeply. David said nothing, but stood and watched this strange behaviour.
Then, with a dignified look he raised his head and looked at David with a genuine smile on his face.
“I believe you are the new apprentice. Allow me to introduce myself.” He walked towards David and shook his hand vigorously.
He had a slight French accent, but spoke in a soft correct manner as if he had been brought up to be well-educated. There was definitely something aristocratic about the way that he held himself.
“My name is Rodolphus Guillaume Sebastienne de L’Estrange.”
“But you can call me Rodolphus.” He said.
“I have not been told your name, or your story. The Dark Lord commands that I do not ask you more than I need, but to instruct you in the art of defence and duelling.”
“Duelling?” Asked David.
“Do you have swords here?”
Rodolphus laughed at this, but in a kindly way. But then he looked at David curiously.
“I should not ask you questions, but I’m intrigued to find that you did not know what I meant. You are a wizard are you not?”
David didn’t know how to answer this, but yes he supposed he was a wizard now.
“No matter.” Said Rodolphus.
“We will begin after dinner. That will give us some time to get to know each other a little better. Before that, I will take some time to look around the house. I’ve been away for some time.” He added.
“Err, pleased to meet you anyway.” Said David.
“I’ll take a walk outside. I’ve not been into the garden yet.”
David thought it might be time that he got a little fresh air for a change. He left Rodolphus, who walked over to the fireplace and put both outstretched hands onto the mantelpiece.
David went out of the front door and was pleasantly surprised to find that there was brilliant sunshine. It warmed his face and he held up a hand to shade his eyes. In the distance were thick woods with the gravel path from the house heading towards it.
The gardens were large and consisted of tidy lawns edged with low trimmed hedges. The divided grassed areas were very rectangular and had round flowerbeds dotted here and there.
David wondered how Pinky had the time to keep both the house and the gardens in such a tidy state. But the answer came almost instantly, as he saw a pair of house-elves coming around the corner of the house, to his right.
They were rushing to keep up with a lawn mower whose handle they were only just able to reach on their tiptoes. The mower must have been using some kind of magic to make it move on its own, because it was obvious that the elves would not be able to push it along, given their tiny statures.
Before long, one of the elves tripped up and fell flat on his face. The other was unable to hold back the mower on his own and he had to hold on grimly as he was dragged off the lawn and down the path towards the trees.
David grinned as the other elf got to his feet and chased after the runaway mower, which was eventually swallowed up in the darkness amongst the trees.
It was a pleasant walk around the house, in a wide circle and David wished that he had done it days earlier. He intended to spend more time outside in the future and enjoy what was left of the summer.
He also wondered if there was a broomstick he could borrow and have a tour of the house from the air.
When he returned to the house David was pleasantly surprised to find that dinner was ready and Rodolphus was sat at the table waiting for him.
“I hope that Scooter’s cooking is as good as it was when I was last here.” He said.
“Scooter?” Asked David.
“Don’t you mean Pinky?”
“The elf chef is called Scooter.” Said Rodolphus.
“Oh, I didn’t know there were other house elves living here until an hour ago. I saw two others mowing the lawns. Although I did wonder why Pinky sometimes says ‘we’ instead of ‘I’.”
Rodolphus smiled.
“This is a very old chateau and has been in the Lestrange family for fourteen generations. The house-elves have been here for just as long. There used to be quite a big family living here all together in the past and they needed a small army of house-elves to take care of them.”
“There are still four of them living down in the cellars. Pinky the housekeeper, Scooter the chef, Ralf and Igor the gardeners and odd job elves.”
“There are also Jevon my personal valet and Maisie the handmaid of my wife Bellatrix. Those two are currently doing service in my brother-in-law’s house in England. Their own house-elf was given clothes and thrown out because it was no longer suitable they tell me.”
David was interested to find out this information, but also surprised that he hadn’t seen any of the others until today.
“Pinky speaks very good English.” He said.
“That would be because she IS English.” Rodolphus explained.
“All the best house-elves come from England, or Transylvania. Between themselves they have their own secret language that they never use in front of wizards. My valet Jevon is French, as is Maisie.”
Pinky arrived with the food on a trolley and laid it out on the table. She then dashed out to fetch the wine, returning with two dusty bottles of red.
Rodolphus’ eyes lit up at the sight of the wine.
“Ahh my favourite, the Auberges Elf-made ‘72. I’ve looked forward to this for fifteen years!”
He opened the bottle with a flick of his wand and took a long deep sniff of the cork. With a look of joy he poured a small amount into his glass and swirled it around, holding it up to the light to view the colour.
He then inhaled the aroma of the wine in the glass and then took a mouthful. After moving it around his mouth to savour the taste, he swallowed and closed his eyes.
“Perfect.” He said.
He poured a large glass each for himself and David.
“Why do you not live here any more?” Asked David.
Rodolphus gave a small shudder as he seemed to recall some dark memory.
“My wife and I are working for the Dark Lord and this means that we must spend much of our time away on business. It has been difficult for me to return here. My wife is very dedicated.”
David got the impression that Rodolphus was not so happy with the situation and that maybe he was under the thumb of his wife.
They had an enjoyable dinner, with the food being better than anything David had eaten there before. Rodolphus was an engaging host and he kept David enthralled with tales of his family’s deeds during the war with the giants and his own tasks on behalf of the Dark Lord.
He made it sound like he and the other death-eaters were fighting against the forces of an anti-wizard coalition. He heard about how ruling ministries of magic were being subjugated by muggle governments.
He also learned that there were secret groups also intent on keeping the wizards under the rule of muggles, such as the Order of the Phoenix.
He caught the odd name here and there. Dumbledore, Moody, Fudge, but they meant nothing to him really. He wasn’t particularly interested in the reasons for fighting these people, but he enjoyed hearing about the magical duels and battles that they had.
He also was impressed that Rodolphus spoke so highly of the Dark Lord, who sounded like a great leader and garnered a lot of respect from his followers. He resolved to try to impress him and earn some respect for himself too.
There was a strange thing though. There seemed to be a discrepancy in time between some battles and more recent events, as if Rodolphus had not been active for some years. Maybe he was doing something that was secret and he couldn’t tell David about it, or he was doing a job so mundane that it wasn’t worth mentioning?
After the meal they sat by the fire and talked about the kind of things that Rodolphus was going to teach David.
“Before we start, there is one thing that I need to give you.”
He walked over to a cabinet standing against the wall near the entrance door and opened one of the drawers. From within he took out a wooden box, about twelve inches long and two wide and high.
He brought it over to David and opened it up. Inside the red velvet-lined box was a wand.
“It was my father’s. Eleven inches made of rosewood and with a unicorn’s tail hair for the core. You can borrow it until you get a wand of your own. It should work well for you.”
David breathed heavily and with a trembling hand he took the wand from out of the box. Immediately he felt a surge of energy flow through his hand and the wand vibrated momentarily.
“Give it a try.” Said Rodolphus.
David licked his lips and thought of a spell to cast. There was only one, the first that he had performed successfully at Beauxbatons.
 He pointed the wand at the two wine glasses on the table and with a swish and a flick he said the charm.
“Wingardium Leviosa!”
The glasses floated up from the table and smoothly made their way to the hands of David and Rodolphus.
“To the Dark Lord!” Said Rodolphus and emptied the glass in one swig.
“The Dark Lord.” David imitated.
 

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