(1941-07-18) A Friend of the Family
Details for A Friend of the Family
Summary: Samira visits the Lestrange home for dinner.
Date: 18 July, 1941
Location: Lestrange Home, Northinghamshire
Plot: Zoanthropy Epidemic
Related: Not a Werewolf...Surely Not

Nestled deep in the countryside of Northinghamshire, the Lestrange home might have been picturesque at one time. One can certainly see how somebody once took great care in the design and building of the manor. But time and neglect have caused its walls and grounds to become overgrown, the stones to weather, windows to crack. Local Muggle legends tell of the haunted manse far down a lonely road, where they say a mad woman killed her family, then herself…and still roams the abandoned halls to this day.

The glamers cast over the property only reinforce these tales of terror, masking any sign of habitation and deceiving Muggle ears into believing the wind is a woman's wail, or the call of a bird is a muffled scream of a child. But to the eyes of a witch or wizard, lights can be seen within the decrepit estate, and the disrepair isn't quite as awful.

Such is the scene presented to Samira as the coach stops in front of the wrought iron gates that hang open, leaning uselessly. The coachman, whose face is covered in a scarf and has not said a word, climbs down and opens the coach door, lowering the steps for Samira to descend.

Easing down the carriage steps, Samira stands gazing up at the ominous manor with her arms folded over her belly.Though her young features remain neutral, simply watchful, her enormous kitten ears betray her trepidation, lowered on either side of her head. For her visit with Oberon, and likely his father – her father’s old friend – she wears a simple yet lovely little dress of pale turquoise. Intricate embroidery in bronze thread graces the fabric’s edges.

The door creaks open in anticipation of Samira's approach. Standing on the other side is a house-elf with a wild mane of stringy hair, wrapped in what look like bandages, giving her a mummified appearance. "Mistress Samira," she says in a high, raspy voice. "Come, please. The masters are waiting." Bowing obsequiously over and over, she backs away from the door to give Samira room to enter.

Once inside, the elf snaps her fingers and the door shuts. The interior of the house is far more luxurious than the outside. In fact, one wouldn't imagine it is the same house at all. The elf glances up at Samira, one of her large eyes twitching with a nervous tic. Then she gestures for the witch to follow, and she shuffles down the hall, her bandages wrapped a bit too tight to allow her to take longer steps.

Soon the elf has brought Samira to a dining room, containing a long, wavy table that rather resembles a wet noodle. The table is bears many platters, some of which have steam venting from them. At one end of the table sits a man known to Samira as her Professor of Defence Against the Dark Arts, Arcadius Lestrange. To his right is his son, Oberon. But Oberon is distinctly changed. Coarse hair frames his face and even tufts along his pointed ears. His lips push forward due to his enlarged canine teeth. Most notable are the inhuman yellow eyes, without a spot of white to be seen; those wolfish eyes hone in on Samira the moment she arrives.

"Miss Samira Prince, masters," the elf rasps.

Both men rise from their seats at the introduction, and Arcadius gestures invitingly to the seat at his left. "Miss Prince, such a pleasure. Do join us." He nods to the house-elf, "Wait in the hall in case we need you, Twitchy."

The masters. More than one. Samira her kitten ears lift a bit as the nervousness in her stomach eases. Following the scrawny little creature into the dining room, Samira wears a soft, polite smile. But the sight of Oberon in such a monstrous form freezes her blood. She holds quite still, ears flattened down.

It isn’t until Arcadius speaks that the little one can draw a breath. Her pale-green stare shifts from Oberon to her familiar Defense Against the Dark Arts professor. She manages a faint smile and dips into a curtsy, unconsciously demonstrating her feline grace. “Good afternoon, Professor Lestrange.” Her eyes flit back to Oberon – his true nature in full view. “It’s good to see you Oberon,” she adds, a bit more softly.

Drifting to the chair at Arcadius’ left hand, Samira takes her place. Gaze lowered, she tells them both, “I hope you will accept my apologies for not coming sooner.”

"No apology needed," Arcadius insists as he and Oberon sit. "You have obviously had your own matters to deal with, much as my son has. I must say, your feline qualities suit you well. Qat arramal, if I'm not mistaken. How appropriate. Your dress is quite lovely as well, my dear. Isn't she fetching, Oberon?"

Oberon smiles in what might have been something pleasant, but those yellow eyes and the exposure of his wolfish fangs bring something fearsome to his countenance. "You look beautiful, Samira," he says, his voice taking on a gravelly quality.

Arcadius gestures, and the lids of the various platters lift themselves into the air and hover away — likely the work of Twitchy from her unseen place. "Please, eat until you are sated. We have more than enough for everyone." Ladling himself a bowl of soup, Arcadius gives Samira a warm smile. "You are apprenticing at St. Mungo's, are you not? Surely they must be keeping you apprised of the zoanthropy situation. Are they getting any closer to a cure?"

Hints of gold glint in the sand-colored for of Samira’s kitten-ears as they lift a bit further. The little one looks to Arcadius with a soft smile. At the compliment of her feline features, her smile grows. His use of Arabic reminds her that he is her father’s close friend. But as he continues to compliment her, even directing his son’s attention to how fetching she looks, a hint of warmth kindles in her cheeks. And the subtle blush in her cheeks grows more noticeable as she looks to Oberon. “Thank you very much,” she murmurs.

But as Arcadius reveals the food and redirects the conversation, Samira’s soft smile returns. “Yes sir,” she murmurs, helping herself to a small portion of lamb kebab and rice. “I have had the privilege to work closely with Master Healer Goshawk. He is in charge of the research for a cure. I think that we will begin trials soon. Testing a potential cure.” Her pale-green stare flits to Oberon with a soft, encouraging smile. At least, she has good news to offer him.

"Very good," Arcadius says. "I'm sure you're eager to be done with it. As endearing as your transformation is, it must prove difficult in daily life. The Ministry is in a tizzy about potential breaches of Secrecy."

"To say nothing of the trouble with the idiots thinking this is lycanthropy," Oberon chimes in. "They'd have skinned me with silver knives if I'd given them half a chance. You've no idea what I went through, Samira. Believe me when I say you've had it easy with your…cat thing."

Samira bites her lower lip, looking to Oberon. With a nod, she says, “You’re right. It must have been horrible. And there hasn’t been much trouble for me. Not much. Not like the uproar there was for you. I hope I did well. The constables, the Ministry officials – the reporters too – they wanted to know who the wolf was. But I never answered. I hope once a cure is found, all this will fade and you will have no further trouble.”

Oberon gives Samira a gracious nod and a subtle smile, but something about those eyes adds a shade of menace to his gesture.

"You've shown yourself to be a true friend to the House of Lestrange, Miss Prince," Arcadius says solemnly. "So, I trust that I will not be imposing greatly upon you when I ask another favour of you. I have every faith in the Healers to produce a cure. I do not, however, have faith in the good sense of the common rabble that would like to see my son locked in a cage or impaled with silver. It isn't safe for Oberon in London right now. So far, he has not been confirmed as being afflicted, and I have no intention of allowing that to happen.

"Fortunately for us, we have a friend working at St. Mungo's." Arcadius gestures to Samira. "So when the cure is concocted, I'm sure that some of it will quietly make its way through your hands and into ours. You will be compensated for your trouble, of course. But most importantly, this will further cement the bonds of friendship between our families."

The subtleties in Oberon’s smile register in Samira’s subconscious. Her feline instincts pick up on the hint of malice. Her stomach tightens. Samira peeks at Oberon out of the corner of her eye before directing her attention more fully to his father. With a definitive nod, Samira says, “Of course. And there is no need for compensation. With the friendship between our families I would think to do nothing else.”

Oberon smiles, his fangs showing. "You see, Father? I told you she'd understand. Samira knows the value of loyalty." He gives her a little wink, the subtlest of reminders of where they stand.

Arcadius nods appreciatively, "You were right, Oberon. Miss Prince lives up to her name. Well, we'll see that you are compensated one way or another, Samira. I wouldn't want your father or brother to think I am unappreciative. Speaking of whom, would you be so kind as to extend a dinner invitation to your brother for me? I'd like to meet the man. Would he prefer a more intimate dinner, or a party? Believe me, there are all too many of our friends that are curious about our new ambassador from Egypt."

Samira peeks over at Oberon, head slightly bowed. She offers a small nod, knowing well where she stands. Looking to Arcadius, she smiles softly. “I expect my brother might prefer a small dinner. He is still adjusting to the demands of his new position. I would be glad to convey your invitation.”

"Excellent," says Arcadius. "Of course you will be invited as well. We'll make an Egyptian feast of it. It's been some time since I've had the cuisine of your country. And speaking of feasting, I've been talking your ear off. Please, enjoy the food."

The meal is sumptuous, and far more than any of them can eat — though Oberon seems to have quite an appetite, especially for meat. What few vegetables touch his plate seem to be more of a garnish as he ignores them in favour of his carnivorous urges. The conversation turns to less criminal concerns, discussing a bit about school, the state of the war, and other common topics to fill the evening until the Lestranges bid Samira farewell.

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