Eusebia Dumbledore, née Dumbledore had her flaws, but no one could accuse her of not taking care of her family. Rather, the clan was her top priority. Yet, she was not like her son, having a short fuse and jumping the gun far too often. She knew that in dangerous times – and no time is safe – one must watch her step. Taking care of the clan meant not just casting curses at the enemies; it meant following your career path reasonably and marrying sensibly. And, of course, one had to take care out of whom you make enemies. Even more importantly – with whom you make friends.
Thus, when she healed after those unlucky oath "incident" – where occlumency exercises and a strong, hot broth both helped – she jumped on her broomstick to pay a visit to her son. She had to talk sternly to him – in the meantime she had heard that he treated the messenger of general Batory rudely. How careless of him! Yet, first, she had to talk to her daughter-in-law. Kendra was – the old witch had to admit that – a more reasonable person.
Eusebia, being an ex-Chaser, knew as well that the timing matters, regardless of whether scoring a goal or opening your mouth was meant. Thus, she chose a Thursday after a full Moon for a visit when Kendra was not exhausted after gathering the plants the whole night. Perceval was at the Ministry and the children visited their Muggle grandfather – so, no one would disturb the important conversation.
Honestly speaking, Eusebia was not too satisfied with Percival`s choice of a wife. She didn`t mind Kendra`s Muggle roots: the Muggleborns, in general, did not have fertility problems and their children were born strong and healthy. A Muggleborn giving birth to a Squib? This was unheard of. Moreover, Kendra`s father was Scottish. Her late mother, well… Well, mustn't complain if you get a witch bearing three healthy children, must you? Kendra was Scottish enough.
The young witch was also hard-working, patient and very thorough. However, she was somehow un-scottishly quiet and timid, a quintessence of good and bad sides of Hufflepuff. Eusebia did not like it at all. A Scottish witch should be able to lift her wand against any enemy and send him to hell with a smile on her lips.
Nonetheless, Eusebia never expressed her opinion aloud. The Dumbledores' were an eccentric and solitary folk. She herself had three sister and was the only one that married and had children.
Her late husband, by the way also her cousin of the fourth grade, had two unmarried brothers and uncles. No wonder that the family tree – once lush and impressive – was dwindling more and more. And the Dumbledores' weren`t the only pureblood Scottish clan fading away…
And, as if it weren`t enough, Eusebia`s daughter, Donaldine, eloped with her best friend. A female friend. Eusebia sent her a Howler; the clan and Scotland needed wizarding children and those two fools just followed a whim! The reaction was predictable, though: this stubborn girl has broken off the contact with the clan. No one even knew where she lived. Thus, when Percival decided to marry Kendra, Eusebia did not express any objections.
`We need to talk, ` announced the older witch simply, still on the doorstep.
Kendra raised her eyebrows, surprised.
`Nice to see you in good health again, Mrs Dumbledore` she gave her a forced smile.
`We, Scottish witches, are tough. We must talk, Kendra. I`ve heard Percival behaved… foolishly. `
`Let me fetch you a piece of cake. `
`That would be great, ` agreed Eusebia, `Is it true that my foolish son pointed his wand at a messenger of general Batory? `
`And he lost it, ` admitted Kendra, `I have never seen him so livid before. And then we realised this man took Albus to Germany… Why? I mean, couldn`t they have talked like civilised wizards? `
`The Gildo Boy, ` snorted Eusebia, `The jackal following a nundu. That was what brought Percival into rage. He was, ` she explained, seeing Kendra couldn`t follow, `A raising star of Quidditch. I played against him two times, if I recall correctly. He was talented, skilful, and brave, to give the devil his due. Yet...` her lips twisted in disgust, `He turned a filthy squib. Followed Dracula… Or rather crawled into the bed of Batory who could have been his grandmother… I mean, she is an exceptional general. Brave. Clever. Sometimes even noble. But she was a horrible man eater. `
Kendra went red.
`Kendra, let us talk like Scots, square and to the point. She was. She had eight or ten children, each with someone else. This Gildo Boy is the great-grandfather of this Gellert who helped Ariana. I think this is why it was him who came as a messenger. He assumed no one would recognise him. `
`Gellert is not responsible for the sins of his ancestors, Mrs Dumbledore. `
`Of course not, ` nodded Eusebia, `Anyhow, being just an offspring of a rascal and a traitor is nothing compared to what others in h clan did. What a family tree, ` she mocked.
`I thought you don`t judge people by their blood status, ` replied Kendra with a dry tone.
`I didn`t mean that. What I thought about is their deeds, their choices. We have to be careful with this family.`
`I thought Scottish wizards stand on the side of their friends, no matter what. In particular, if they owe so much to them, Mrs Dumbledore` replied Kendra dryly. These pure-blood games, all those oaths, vengeances, string-pulling, and violence that seemed to spring out of a Walter Scott`s novel nearly got Albi killed!
`If someone owes something to someone, it is me, ` sighed Eusebia heavily, `Elisabeth Batory not only save me and Albus. She could… should have killed me instead. I would have done that in her place. `
`How could you, in the first place, get involved in something that dangerous? `
`Firewhisky, ` snapped Eusebia, `My cousins, firewhisky, a few rude words, a nasty jinx, hurt pride, stupid revenge, a curse getting out of control… A witch killed by accident. They had to run for it. And MACUSA was, no doubt, happy, to find people desperate enough to jump into the throat of the Jaguar. And old Freeman… she could transform you into a pig and bring you to the butcher. `
Kendra turned green.
`Well, the older I get the more I understand that ` continued Eusebia, `For Muggles she was just that. A hog you could sell or kill. So how could she… Anyhow. When I was younger, I dreamt of killing her. But the more I learn about the Muggle world, the more I understand her. She was a talking tool. Use her, kill her, sell her, she is nothing more than a swine. So, what could she become? A poetess? `
`I know how Muggles live, Mrs Dumbledore. `
`If I had understood… But I was young. I loved my cousins. I thought it was my duty to revenge them. Foolish. I`m not even sure whether it was Freeman. And even if… Batory saved my life. Freeman agreed to sweep the whole matter under the carpet. I mustn't think about the vengeance anymore. Our children should open a new chapter. `
`You mean we should encourage their friendship? `
`This little Preussen traversed all Europe on a rooster to help Ariana. Everyone is wondering how he managed. The Ministry is in uproar, Constance told me. Everyone is wondering how safe our defences are if a boy can circumvent them. Constance Prewett, my school mate. She was a Hufflepuff like you, by the way, ` she explained, seeing the question in Kendra`s eyes, `This is the most powerful magic that exists. We must be careful but we shouldn`t meddle up too much. `
`Percival is of another opinion. `
`Percival! He is a MoM man, through and through. He wants to control everything. When I was a girl, it wasn`t like that. Now, all that matters is safety. Lists and plans. Soon you will not be allowed to have a Kneazle without a licence. `
Some knocked the door. Kendra stood up to open.
`Mrs Bayern? ` she stared at the visitor surprised.
`We must talk, ` said the old witch sternly.
`Right on time. Please come in…`
Lloyd Steward smiled, watching his grandchildren playing. Yet he noticed Albus was strangely pensive.
`What is wrong? ` he asked. Albus pretended everything was all right, but Mr Steward knew better. He also knew it was easier to talk to Aberforth, you just had to give him some time.
`But you are a Muggle, Grandad, ` Albi blurted out, when they went to feed the horses, `You don`t know…`
`So explain it to me`.
`Let me explain, I know better…` Albus butted in.
`First Albi, then you, ` replied to Mr Steward sternly, `Others also want to express their opinion. `
Thus, he listened to a long, complex story – Albus' interruptions did not exactly make it clearer – about how Gellert did not want to swear an oath, about Grandma Eusebia getting sick because of those oaths and so on.
`You should have told me before, ` he sighed. It annoyed him endlessly that the magical folk – even his own daughter - did not bother to keep him up to date.
`May I go? ` interrupted Albus once more. He didn`t like when he had to listen. And he wasn`t a fan of animals that were nearly a tonne heavy.
`Of course, go, ` nodded Mr Steward.
Aberforth waited, biting his lip, and then asked:
`Do you think, Granddad, that Gellert is still my friend? `
`I cannot see his heart. But you see that those oaths are dangerous. Maybe he thought it was foolhardy to pronounce them without much thinking. Maybe he knew more about them than we do and was afraid they could backfire. `
`So… he cared? He could have told me! `
`Not everyone is very skilled with words. `
`I am not. Dad doesn`t like it. `
`You have other talents. `
`So… Could you help me to write a letter to him? `
`If he can read English, yes, because I speak no German. `
`Of course he can! He is as clever as Albi but doesn`t boast so much. `