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Chapter 9: A Rush of Blood to the Head
I don't think there's a single person in the world that likes funerals unless they were the one that purposefully caused it. This wasn't the worst part. When it's your family that has died it is, but when it's your friend, your coworker, the worst part is telling their family. Sampson's mother cried her bloody eyes out when I finally managed to get it out. His father had died years ago, so Sampson was all she had left in the world. It took every professional bone in my body to keep it together, but it was nearly impossible. How can anyone look at middle age woman crying over the loss of her last relative, let alone her son and not break a little? But if I was going to be honest I wouldn't say I broke a little. I would say I broke a lot.
Dressed in all black Auror robes, I sat on my couch with my forearms firmly pressed on my thighs. Pulling my hair back off my face, I mentally practiced his eulogy in my head. I knew the man a month, but I guess when you factor in how much of that time we spent in each other's company that makes me closest to him in our department. The weight of this whole thing has been on my shoulders since I discovered who killed him and now it was beginning to bruise the bones underneath. Could I really do this? Could I really say goodbye to him?
Auror's had the life expectancy of a hamster, but it didn't matter. Anthony Sampson's blood was on my hands no matter what my superiors or the statistics said. No matter what anyone said really. He should have at least made it to thirty. Long enough for him to have a wife and some kids. Long enough for him to really matter. Now only a handful of people will have ever really known him and he'll be dead with his name on the wall with all the other Auror deaths.
"You ready?" James peeked his head out from the church, dressed in his Auror robes looking dashing as usual.
I nodded, and licked my dry lips to give them some moisture. It didn't work. All it did was sting the tender skin I'd been trying to heal. Pushing myself to my feet I followed my older cousin through the room to the podium. The whole room was only a quarter full, any Auror not on duty was required to come and when you added that with a few of his friends and distant family it didn't take up much space. It was sad. This was the last time anyone would ever gather for Sampson and he had such a small turn out. I wondered why. He was a good person, hadn't he had friends back at Drumstrang? Hadn't he had old girlfriends that might want to pay their respects? No matter what Scorpius and I put each other through, and how many years go by I will be at his funeral and I know despite where ever the hell we're at he would be at mine. Did Sampson not have anyone that felt the same way?
As I climbed up onto the podium, his picture stood above his casket and it was like someone had stabbed me deep in my gut with a frigidly cold knife. This shouldn't Sampson, this should be me.
"Mum," I started firmly, "He's back."
As I let the meaning of my words hit her she furrowed her strictly plucked eyebrows as she reorganized her ridiculous book collection. For hours she'd been in her library adding some new books to her 1900's history section and filling her new bookshelf.
"The man who murdered dad."
I saw her throat clamp up and she froze. "How do you know?"
"The cut on Sampson's neck…it was his mark."
"It couldn't have been an coincidence?" She asked her voice much lower than normal.
My eyes guarded, I shook my head as I kneeled down on the floor next to her. "No."
"What happens next?"
"Victoire is too vulnerable. She's the easiest target, so I was wondering if she-"
My mother put down her books, her brown endearing eyes searching my face. "You were wondering if we could make this house an unplottable and use you as a secret keeper."
"You work from home mostly anyway and you could always drop off any documents you need to send in randomly."
Her face straightened in fear. "This is serious."
"He would have killed me if I hadn't escaped, and now he will go after anyone to show up the new government. As Weasley's we are the first on the chopping block, but also because of me he will want revenge…They all will."
"What about you?" She asked maternally, scooting forward and incasing my hands in hers.
"I will do what I have to, to keep all of you safe." I answered vaguely, my face set and determined.
Letting out an anguished sigh Hermione Weasley shook her head. "I don't like it, but I suppose I don't have much of an option…"
"I'm sorry mum, but I don't know what else to do. I know Uncle Harry is going to try and keep me out of it, but he doesn't get that I'm always going to be involved."
She laughed, brown tumbleweed hair falling past her shoulders. "Well if anyone can understand that it should be Harry. We spent our whole lives involved in things we should have been… Why did you dye your hair?"
Deciding to lighten up the subject I put on a teasing smile. "Because I wanted to look more like you mum."
She rolled her eyes in disbelief. "You could get contacts to have your eyes match mine as well and it wouldn't matter. You are your father through and through."
My eyes watered as I realized that she truly meant those words. "I miss him."
"Me too honey," She rubbed my shoulder with her own eyes tearing up.
Coming back to the moment, I sucked in a sharp breath and did everything in my power to hold back anything I was feeling. I told the few people who sat in front of me what a good person Sampson was. How he always brought suspects alive, even when they did everything possible to make him rethink that decision. Of course I left out the part where we had feelings for each other. I also left out the part were we kissed. At the end of the day none of it mattered. All that mattered was that once upon a time Anthony Lee Sampson was alive and did his job well. And now he was gone.
Once I got off the podium, I moved to the back row and sat in between Jade and James. James face was impassive, but I knew better. My cousin didn't wear his heart on his sleeve, but every death near or far from him affected him. Jade on the otherhand didn't even hide the tears rolling down her cheeks. Sampson was her mentor when she first arrived at the Ministry and though that was years ago I knew that she would always feel indebted to him. We always feel indebted to the ones that believe in us.
Subtly as a man I did not recognize rose to speak, James wrapped his arm around my shoulder. He whispered so only I could hear. "You know…no one would judge you if you cry."
Biting my bottom lip, my eyes shinned from the water welling up behind them. "I know."
Squeezing my shoulder, James said nothing more.
I didn't listen to the words the man said on the top of the podium. All I could think about was Sampson. How he used to work on word searches before we started every morning. How he always brought me breakfast or would grab me food if he was getting himself something. How all he wanted was to make the world a better place, but he would never know that the world was already a better place because he was in it.
My tears never fell, but I knew James was right. If I were going to cry right now, no one would say a damn word about it. But I couldn't. I had to keep it together. I had to push all of those overflowing emotions down. If I let them out, even for a single second, I might break, and I can't do that. Not here, not now.
They will come for me now. All five of them are coming. All hell bent on destroying my life and everyone's life around me for the soul purpose of exacting revenge on something that happened over thirty years ago.
This was the last moment that I could really let it out before everything was shot to hell, before everything would be on fire. But I couldn't, all I could think of was a memory. A horrible memory, I spent nights debating whether I should erase or not.
"Dad," I cried, as the shackles of the binding spell dug into my skin making it bleed. "I'm scared… Why are they doing this?"
"They want revenge honey," He told her honestly, his blue eyes were watering with pain, as he looked at his oldest child and only daughter lovingly. "But look at me."
She did softly though it was hard to see him from across the room.
"Promise me, you will make it out of here."
Rolling her eyes even in the situation she wanted to laugh at him and she would have if her throat had enough moisture to withstand it. "Dad, we both will."
He didn't look so sure, but he held on to her gaze. "Promise me Rose."
"Promise me!" His voice was unyielding as tears slipped down his cheeks. "Rose you have to promise me no matter what happens you will get out of here and you will never stop fighting. You have to!"
I frowned, "Dad what do you know? What aren't you saying?"
Heavy footsteps sounded in the halls. My bones ached, my muscles were sore and there were countless lash marks on my back that still hadn't fully healed, but I didn't care about that. All I cared about was what my dad was trying to stay to me. The whole month they rarely left us in the same room unless to torture one of us in front of the other. And now he seemed to know something.
"Dad what aren't you saying?" I repeated, my voice half hysterical. "Dad!"
"PROMISE ME ROSE!" He roared, his red hair disheveled and dark. His eyes were wild with blinding fear. "PROMISE ME!"
I told him, "I promise," as the men entered. As they moved towards my father I cried out, "I promise dad! I swear! I will never stop!"
And then, without another word spoken, a man raised his wand as I starred into my father's panic stricken eyes, so worn from the torture he'd been forced to endure for the past month, and a green light lit up the whole room. It struck my dad in the heart as I slashed against my bindings with every bit of strength I had and even some I didn't.
"NO! DAD! NO!" I sobbed as my dad's body slumped lifeless against the wall. "DAD PLEASE! NO! WAKE UP! PLEASE DAD! WAKE UP!"
But he didn't and the men just laughed. They laughed at my pain. They laughed at my loss. They laughed at my weakness.
"Rose," James whispered from a place that sounded so much farther away than right next to me. "Rose, it's over."
I clamped up.
He was worried, I felt his body tense next to mine. "…Rose?"
Letting out a small breath, I came back to the present. "I'm fine."
"We have to leave Ro."
I nodded though I wasn't really listening. "Okay."
His hands guided me upward. After that his arm wrapped around me and half dragged me to the hallway. Once there he sat me down on a bench, and knelt down in front of me. His dark hair was spiky today, but his coffee colored eyes focused on me.
"Talk to me Rose."
I shook my head slowly, "I can't."
Looking frustrated, he sighed and bared his teeth. "Rose, you can't stay in there forever. You have to open up to someone sometime. It's not healthy to bottle all of it in.."
"I know," I choked out.
James's arms fell to my shoulders. "Well when you're ready. We're here."
Then, without another word, he stood up and left.
A week later, I walked into my parent's house. A lot had changed in a week. I didn't have an emotional break down and I didn't go running to my cousin, but I was temporarily benched from any and all cases until Sampson's death was cleared, which considering who I know killed him was almost indefinitely. This was the time for me to step up and do what needed to be done. This was the time for action.
My mother wasn't home, but I didn't come to meet her. I walked up the stairs to my old bedroom and found James lounging comfortably on my bed. I placed a bag of his favorite bagels and a coffee out for him.
"Come on," I nudged his relaxed form. "It's time for work."
James's smile became teasing. "Oh you've heard of it?"
"Up your arse James!" I spat hatefully.
"Calm down, they just don't have anyone to partner you with." James scoffed grabbing one of the bagels out of the container. "Once they do then they will stop keeping you out of everything."
I gave him a look.
"Okay, okay!" He raised his hands innocently, "You asked to meet to discuss battle plans. So by all means." James gestured to my room.
"The man they are look for is the man that kidnapped me." I told him and I didn't wait for his reaction. I was on a roll. Pacing, I said, "Now they are going to start coming. Sampson was the first strike and we need to figure out his next targets."
James's eyebrows shot straight up. "Uh…Wait what?"
"Just follow along with me James!
"Okay," He looked off into the distance, "I guess …our parents?"
I shook my head as I continued to pace. "They already hit that generation. Now they want to hit ours and they're gonna hit it hard."
"No," I waved that possibility far far away. "Lily has nothing to do with the Ministry. The people they want to get have to be directly involved with the ministry. If provoked then Lily would be their back up plan or their retribution for their plans not going to through." I leaned forward in my chair as I put all of the available options on the parchment on my desk and began to number them. "You and I are the highest possibility for the next hit."
Worry lines creased into James's tan forehead as his black hair swooped downward. "I understand."
"Your father will try to control this by trying to protect us, but it's too far gone for that." I began decisively, "You have to promise me no matter what happens you can't help me unless I ask you to. If they come for me you have to let them take me and you can't go looking for me."
James let out a scoffed of blatant disagreement and put the donuts aside. "Why the hell would I ever agree to that? Rose now you're just being ridiculous."
"No," I told him firmly, "I'm not. I have a reason for asking you to do this and it's not because I'm trying to get myself killed. I just have a plan."
"Well what's included in this so-called plan?" James spat, his voice alarmingly cold as she starred at me like I was crazy.
"I can't tell you, but you just have to trust me. You have to convince your father to overly protect the following people." I handed him the parchment.
James eyes widened, "So I'm just supposed to go along with this blindly?" He eyed me furiously. "Are you mad? Are you honestly insane?"
I let out a sigh and gave him a steady look. "I know how this sounds. I do. But the only way any of this is going to work is if as little people know what's going on as possible and you know that. I'm not telling you not because I want to keep you out of it or because I don't trust you, but so you will act right when the time comes. This needs to be done James…. Okay?"
"This is ridiculous Rose." He told me snappishly rising from my bed furiously.
"I know," I ran a hand through my hair. I hadn't dyed it in a while so the roots were red and the rest of my hair were tinting red. "And that's why I think it will work."
Walking into my own apartment a few hours later, I was surprised to find Lauren and Hugo sitting on my couch. Sure I knew they were together, but they seemed to be waiting for something. Apparently waiting for me. Adjusting my leather jacket, I waited for them to speak. Clearly they needed to say something, so I gave them the time to say it.
"Well," I muttered as I grabbed a cup, filled it and drank some orange juice. I starred at the pair dryly. "This is sufficiently awkward."
"We're both legal adults. There's no reason either of us should have to explain anything to you." Hugo declared quickly despite being unprovoked.
I let out a wild laugh. "Come again? My brother and my best friend have been screwing each other and neither of them bothered to tell me about it for…what? I'm guessing a month now? And I'm not allowed an explanation? That's really rich Hugo."
Lauren looked everywhere but at us. I knew she would rather be anywhere but here but for some reason she stayed, which surprised me. Lauren wasn't the type to stick around for a fight and yet she didn't move from where she was sitting next to Hugo. Sure Hugo was trying to make this big show about how I couldn't control him, but I honestly didn't care. If he wanted to be with Lauren I was happy for them. What unnerved me was it didn't seem like they were just shagging. They're body's curved into each other's even though they weren't talking. It was weird. Even the way they were looking at each other wasn't right. It wasn't how Lauren had ever looked at anyone. She always had boyfriends, but I always knew they were temporary. Lauren never loved anybody. There was something annoying permanent about them that really got under my skin.
"Oh no." I voiced as I stopped trying to open a jar of peanut butter and grimaced. "You're in love aren't you?"
Hugo blushed deeply, but he didn't shy away from my glance. "Yes."
"Oh god." I groaned in agony and then I shot a desperate look at Lauren. "Really? My little brother? Really?"
Lauren's blonde head turned to face me. "Yes."
"Okay…well…Really?" I asked again rhetorically. "I mean when did this start?"
"It's been awhile now." Lauren admitted quietly.
I put down the peanut butter. "Define awhile."
"About a year now."
"A year? A YEAR?"
Leaning back, I gaped at them. How could they have possibly kept this from me for an entire year? Was it because I didn't look too closely into Lauren's romantic life or was it because I was too busy with my own life that I noticed my brother had gotten one? Either way it didn't matter. Even if I was upset I needed to let it go and just be happy for them. This wasn't my call. I had no right to tell them what to do with their lives. So I took a breath and got it together.
"Well…congratulations?" I laughed not sure how else to handle this. "I don't know why you guys hid it in the first place."
Lauren's eyebrows arched in disbelief. "So…you aren't mad?"
I careful examined my thoughts and thought of the most honest answer. "I'm mad that you didn't tell me."
"We thought you'd freak." Hugo said, his face frowning in guilt.
"Well I'm not freaking out." I lied perfectly, taking a step forward. "If you guys want to be together I'm not going to stop you. Neither of you ever stopped me when I wanted to be with Scorpius so…I will respect both of your decisions to be together."
They both looked shell shocked.
I added after finishing off my orange juice. "But if you two are going to screw around for the love of Merlin keep all the fuckery in your room. If I see something I'm not supposed to see I will freak out."
Then I grabbed my bag and left for work.
While I was there, I kept getting stares from the higher up operatives, the ones that would be cleared to know what was really going on. I knew they were all wondering about me. Because we all knew I was the next one to go. The only question was when. So they gave me paperwork to keep me busy, but mostly so they could know where I was. See they couldn't confine me without a reason and my Uncle was doing everything in his power to keep this away from me.
Halfway through my shift, I walked to the filing cabinet. This whole thing was pointless, but I had to play my part. I had to act stupid, like I didn't know. I had to act like when I went to see my partner's body it was to confirm it with myself. They couldn't know why I really went. My body tensed up as I saw Scorpius coming towards me. There's no reason in the world he should want to talk to me. So why was he starring at me like I was a cross dressing racist?
Scorpius stopped abruptly, when he reached me. His arm grabbed my upper arm and haled me into a custodial closet. "Scorpius what are you-" I started bewildered.
His face was impassive, and though his voice seemed calm there was a jagged edge to it. "When were you planning to tell me?"
I honestly had no idea what he was referring to. My back was against a steel shelf, and dust circled around us as I starred at him wildly. "I have no idea what you're talking about."
"I'm talking about five years ago," He began, his words laced with raw emotion, "I'm talking about how you left me and never came back. And now I find out that you were kidnapped and tortured that entire time and somehow no one ever told me!"
All of the air in my body abandoned me. A sadness grew on me as I saw the hurt in his eyes. I looked away vacantly. "Who told you?"
"Who told me?" He repeated softly, before gripping my shoulders and forcing me to look at him. "Why didn't you tell me?"
My mouth opened and closed several times. I had no idea what to say.
"How could you not tell me?"
"What was I supposed to do?" I let out a short humorless laugh. "When I escaped and got my life together you were with some blonde. I didn't want to disrupt your life."
His eyes widened. Scorpius's voice became even quieter as he looked at me in horror. "You didn't want to disrupt my life?"
The anguish in his voice tugged a large cord in my chest. Tears pricked the surface of my eyes, but I fought them off. I was at work. I couldn't do this. Not here. Not now. I had a million things on my mind and I thought we were past this. Honestly I thought if he found out he would feel slighted, but I was shocked that he still felt so angry about it. He'd probably shagged Ms. Blonde-something-or-another what did it matter what happened to me?
"Scorpius, it was a long time ago."
"Clearly not too long for you to feel the need to apologize." He replied cuttingly.
That comment sent me over the edge and finally I couldn't hold back my own anger any longer. "Are you kidding me right now? We are at work! I'm sorry that I apologized! Clearly it was completely inappropriate and I take it back! Does that make you happy? I honestly don't know why this bothers you so much! Yes that happened, but it was a long time ago and I found a way to get past it. If that bothers you get over it!"
"You don't know why this bothers me? Are you serious right now?"
"Yes! I'm completely serious because I don't understand why it matters! I left, and you moved on!" I threw up my hands in aggravation. "Sure I promised I'd always come back, but by the time I did you were doing perfectly fine on your own!"
He was incensed. "No I wasn't!"
"Well it didn't seem that way to me!" I shouted. "So before you try and get an attitude with me, why don't you reevaluate your anger?"
"I'm perfectly justified."
I scoffed and let out a huff of anger. "Sure you are."
Then I roughly pushed passed him and moved as far as humanly possible from him.
Why couldn't I have had just a normal teenage relationship? It could have been this temporary thing that hurt like hell, but taught me momentous lessons for years to come. Why did I have to crash into a meaningful relationship that would haunt me for decades to come?
James was waiting for me at my desk when I got back. He sat on the edge of my desk, with his arms crossed as I slowly walked over. My stomach knotted at the look of him and I became really paranoid. Despite the fact that I spent an hour trying to convince him to do what I asked I still didn't think I got through to him. James could be freakishly stubborn when he wanted to be.
Standing well over six feet, I saw his smug smirk and felt the anger simmering underneath the surface. "I'm going to do as you asked Rose."
I eyed him suspiciously. The way he was smirking, the way his voice clearly defined his anger…. I knew there was something off. "What's the catch?"
"Oh nothing." He told me innocently, "Have you spoken to my father yet?"
"You've been assigned to a new temporary partner."
I tilted my head in confusion; my paranoia growing with every passing second. "Who?"
"Well I figured they could probably use me for a cover or protection detail now that we have a new security risk. So I volunteered my partner for the time being."
My face flashed red with pure hatred. "What?"
"I won't stop you from whatever self destructive plan you have planned," He leaned back farther against my desk. "But Scorpius will."
"What the hell is wrong with you?" I spat venomously gripping the front of his shirt threateningly.
James's eyes narrowed dangerous and his smirk left his lips in a flash. "You want to go off on a renegade mission that's going to fix nothing and get you killed fine. I'm not going to stop you. I've done the best thing."
"How the hell is saddling me with Malfoy the best thing for anyone?" I breathed between my clenched teeth all I saw was blinding rage.
James stood up straight looking remarkably like his father. "Because he's the only person I know that will move hell and high water to make sure you come back alive."
This was so reckless and stupid. How could James have done this? Didn't he realize how high the stakes were at this point? Why the hell would he rope Malfoy into this?
"JAMES YOU CAN'T DO THIS-!"
"Actually," He said as he removed my hands from his shirt coolly and stood up. "I already did."
Over his shoulder, I saw his father walking towards me. My eyes widened and my whole face tightened up in terror. "JAMES-!"
"See you later cuz!" He saluted me.
Everything seemed to happen in slow motion. James moved far enough away from me to where I couldn't kill him and then strutted away from the line of fire. I watched in horror as my uncle stopped at Scorpius's desk and spoke with him briefly. And there was absolutely nothing I could do to stop it. Scorpius was sitting in the middle of some paperwork and he looked absolutely pissed with the information he was getting.
Jade appeared at my side with a chocolate shake casually in her hand. "What's going on? Malfoy looks livid."
"I'm going to kill James!" I spat through my gritted teeth.
Song in the summary and title is Rush of Blood to the Head By: Coldplay. THANK YOU TO EVERYONE WHO HAS READ AND REVIEWED! I'm so glad you guys like this so much! PLEASE REVIEW!