EPONINE: The Last Black Heir
Book II: The Chamber of Secrets
An Unusual, Lonely Summer
La, la, la, la…
Singing. The words were too mumbled to hear. A warm, pink blanket. A man with black hair and grey-blue eyes, smiling at her. No! Eponine didn't want to wake up. It was too nice. This was too real to be a dream…
Soon, Voldemort's face appeared.
"I'll find you and get that Stone from you!" he said, grabbing her arm.
She woke up, screaming. She found herself, lying in her bed in her tiny attic of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. It was barely light out. The clouds in the sky were dark and grey. Of course, it was going to rain today. The rooster crowed outside where Hagrid's hut was and the clock struck five times. It was 5 o'clock in the morning. It meant it was time to get up. Time to get up and do work. She had a list of things to do. The new students were coming in a few weeks and that meant lots to do: wood to chop, dusting, windows to be washed, floors to be washed (for the thousandth time this month), and so forth and so on.
Since she had spent the summer doing nothing but work, she was bored. Snape gave her chores to do even though she did them again and again, thousands of times. Snape still claimed that he couldn't see his reflection on the floors or the tables.
"If this doesn't shine like a mirror, your backside will," he would threaten.
All month, she was lonely and bored. The castle was quiet enough to hear a pin drop. She kept her ears alert though for Snape's footsteps. She knew what they sounded like whenever he was coming. She decided to use her powers to help her clean faster whenever Snape wasn't around. If he did, she would do them all elbow grease. She felt a bit braver to use her powers since the incident in the dungeons with her, Harry and Voldemort and Quirrell. Yet, she promised that she would not risk the exposure of her powers.
She didn't get any messages from any of her friends. The mere thought of them forgetting about her was painful. How could they forget about her? They promised at the end of the term that they would write to her, just to check to see how she was doing.
"Send your letters at night," she wrote when they were gone. "It's the best time for me and I'll reply that night."
She checked with Camille, her screech owl who lived in the rafters of her attic. No mail.
It was heartbreaking to not get any mail this summer. Eponine sobbed a bit while she was on her hands and knees, scrubbing the floor. She hated being alone! It was miserable to live in an empty castle with no one to talk to. Her friends were gone. She had nobody. Not even an ounce of love from anyone.
Hagrid tried to cheer her up by inviting her to tea. It helped a little, but not much.
"They haven't written to me in months, Hagrid," Eponine said, near tears. "Do you think they forgot about me?"
"Codswallop!" said Hagrid. "Of course they haven't forgotten you."
Even the house elves tried cheering her up by making her a birthday cake on her birthday, which was a bit dilapidated and messy. Still it didn't cheer her up. She missed her friends. It wasn't the same having them here.
After a long days work of scrubbing the floors from top to bottom, her knees ached and were scabbed from kneeling on them all day long and her hands were sore from scrubbing. Snape was standing in his room when he saw her come in.
"You," he said. He never used her real name; he always referred to her as either 'you' or 'girl' with some kind of insult in front of it. The only time he used her name was to call her if she were far away or if he was really angry.
"What is it?" she replied, flatly, uninterested in what he had to say.
"Don't speak in that tone, girl," he replied.
She apologized quietly.
"I'm organizing papers for the new term. I want you to go to your room and be quiet. I don't want any distractions while I'm working."
"Sure," she replied, flatly again.
She went up to her tiny attic in hopes there would be mail for her to read…only there wasn't any mail…there was laughter. There, on her bed, jumping was a house elf; she knew all the house elves at Hogwarts, but this one she didn't recognize. The house elf had large, bat-like ears and bulging green eyes the size of tennis balls. It had a long, thin nose and it was wearing an old pillowcase, with rips for arm-and-leg holes. Eponine knew that all house elves wore clothes like that: it was the mark of its enslavement. Eponine understood how they felt: she herself was abused, threatened and insulted all the time. The house elves that worked in Hogwarts wore clothes of whatever they could find that the students had left behind.
"Eponine Black!" said the house elf in a high-pitched voice Eponine was sure it would carry down the stairs of her attic to Snape's room. "Such an honor it is to meet you."
Eponine looked out her door to make sure Snape was not there, listening. She closed the door.
"Who are you?" she asked.
"Dobby, Miss. Dobby the house elf."
"Not to be rude or anything, but this is not a good time for me to have a house elf in my attic," she said. "My master will beat me if he finds out that I have a house elf in my room."
"Oh, yes, Miss," said Dobby. "Dobby understands. Dobby shares Eponine's pain, miss. Dobby gets beatings all the time. Dobby has come to tell you, Miss…it is difficult…Dobby wonders where to begin…"
"Well, why don't you sit down?" she gestured to the bed.
"S-sit down?" he stammered. To Eponine's horror, the elf burst into tears…noisy tears.
"Dobby, shh!" Eponine whispered, panicked that Snape would hear. "I'm sorry! I didn't mean to offend you."
"Offend Dobby!" it choked. "Dobby has heard of your greatness, Miss. But, never been asked to sit down by a witch—like an equal…" He fixed his great eyes on her with watery adoration.
"I suppose you haven't met any decent wizards," she replied, trying to cheer him up.
"Oh, yes." Then, he paused. "That was an awful thing to say." Then, without warning, he walked towards a bureau with the legs missing and began to bang his head furiously, shouting, "Bad Dobby! Bad Dobby!"
"Don't!" she hissed, springing up to pull him away, panicked that the noise would make Snape come charging up.
"Dobby had to punish himself, Miss," he said. "Dobby almost spoke ill of his family, Miss…"
"I see," she said, trying to be understandable.
"If Dobby's family ever knew that he were here…But Dobby had come to ask for Eponine's help… …Dobby has come to tell you that Harry Potter will not listen to Dobby. Dobby has warned Harry Potter not to go back to Hogwarts of Witchcraft and Wizardry this year."
"But why?" she asked.
"There is a plot, a plot to make most terrible things happen this year. You, Eponine, must prevent Harry from coming back here."
"But why? And what is this plot? Who's plotting these terrible things?"
Dobby made a funny choking noise and grabbed his ears and pulled them frantically down hard.
"RRR," he said, between clenched teeth. "Can't…say…"
"Alright," she said, trying to keep the elf quiet. "I understand why you can't tell me, but…"
Suddenly, Dobby grabbed a rusted candlestick and started beating himself over the head with it. Eponine struggled with Dobby, trying to wrench it out of his hands…soon, there were pounding footsteps approaching Eponine's attic.
"Get in there!" she said, dragging Dobby to a broken armoire, shutting him inside. "And be quiet!"
Soon, the door flung open and Snape's angry face poked in: his black eyes glittered, his teeth were gritted, and his sallow face was a nasty, brick red.
"What the bloody hell are you doing up here?" he said between his gritted, yellow teeth.
"Um…I was just…" Eponine stammered.
"Dammit, you worthless girl! I'm trying to get all my papers organized and ready for the new term. You're distracting me with your noise."
"I'm…sorry…" she stammered.
"One more sound and you'll rue the day you were born. Savvy?"
He slammed the door in her face; the furniture rattled. She let Dobby out of the closet.
"Why do you think I should stop him?" asked Eponine.
"Dobby has heard of Eponine's powers about how she drove He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named away years ago," he said. "Dobby has also heard from Harry Potter how Eponine and Harry Potter defeated He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named last year. Harry Potter is in grave danger and he mustn't come back to Hogwarts."
"No!" she said. "I won't let you prevent him. He's my friend."
"A friend who doesn't even write to Eponine Black?" said Dobby, slyly.
"Well, I expect…" suddenly her voice trailed off. "Wait a minute. How do you know that my friends haven't been writing to me?"
Dobby backed away, shuffling his feet.
"Eponine Black mustn't be angry with Dobby. Dobby thought that if her friends had forgotten her, she might help Dobby stop Harry Potter from coming back to Hogwarts." He nimbly pulled out a thick wad of envelopes from the inside of the pillowcase he was wearing.
"Give me those…now!" she said, angrily. Some furniture trembled as mind waves pounded through her brain.
Before she could move, Dobby darted to the door and sprinted down the stairs to Snape's room. Eponine's mouth was dry and her stomach tossed and turned, she sprang after him, trying to avoid any squeaky steps from her attic. Snape was sitting at his desk, going through papers. She saw Dobby standing just at the entrance of her attic.
"Dobby, get back here!" she said, softly but firmly.
He shook his head and snapped his fingers. A stack of Snape's neatly organized papers levitated only slightly off the floor.
"Don't do this! Please! He'll kill me…" she replied, desperately.
"Eponine Black must say she'll help Dobby stop Harry Potter from coming to Hogwarts," he whispered.
"I can't. Harry's my friend. I won't betray him."
"Then, Dobby must do it, miss. For Harry's own good."
Again he snapped his fingers…the papers levitated higher. Eponine tried using her powers to save the papers from being flung all over the place…soon there was a noise that sounded like fingernails being dragged across a blackboard…she winced and gripped her head. She tripped on a loose floorboard and suddenly, all the papers that Snape had neatly organized burst like fireworks into the air. They fell like snow. She found herself at the feet of her master, who glared angrily at her.
She saw that Dobby had snapped his finger and disappeared like smoke before her eyes before she could say anything.
"YOU STUPID, CLUMSY GIRL!" he yelled. "How dare you! You've messed everything I had neatly organized!"
He grabbed her by the hair to have her stand and he boxed her ears, hard. She let out a shriek of pain.
"Clean up this mess!" he yelled, shoving her on the floor; her face bumped the desk leg slightly. "Then, you will be soundly lashed. I hope you're happy that you've ruined everything that I've organized."
She got on her hands and knees and began picking up the papers. Snape directed her to which paper went in which pile. She felt a dull, throbbing pain in the corner of her eye from where her face bumped. After she organized all of Snape's scattered papers, Snape lashed her with a leather strap and sent to her room, locking her inside for the remainder of the night. She sobbed quietly with a sore back.
Stupid Dobby! She wished she had kicked him or something, maybe used her powers to snatch the letters out of his hands…no! She was an idiot not to think about that at the time!
Yet, what just happened when she tried to use her powers…it was as though something was preventing her from using them. That strange noise she heard in her head and that splitting headache to follow. What had happened? She thought she had control over them. She had worked so hard over the summer to get them in control and now they acted as though when they first appeared.
She was too sore to even think of answers right now. She lied on her bed, trying to dream away what had just happened…