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Chapter 32: Truth Will Out
I dropped into the Wizengamot alone. I had shaken off Peakes in the process, and I don't know where he had been left.
As soon as my feet touched down on the tile of the courtroom, I knew something was wrong. Really wrong. My right side was numb, and suddenly I was soaked. Soaked in what? I looked down.
It was my blood. Everywhere. It coated my entire right side, and I was aware of it coating the inside of my mouth. It pooled beneath my feet, and I collapsed onto my knees with the sudden loss of energy. I couldn't stand; I couldn't move. I only rolled involuntarily onto my uninjured side, holding the radio to my chest with my uninjured arm.
Splinched. I had been splinched in an attempt to apparate here.
I wasn't even aware of the Wizengamot around me until there were hands on me. Prodding, poking, pulling my shirt off. Doing what, I don't know. I had gone numb. I couldn't feel. My eyes drifted shut with the urge to pass out, but I knew I had to stay awake. I was here for a reason; I had put myself through this for a reason.
It was Sondheim.
"What's happened to you?!" His voice seemed to be a million miles away, in a completely different world. He seemed so far away from me as my world began to fade.
"Splinched," I gurgled, choking on my blood. I coughed and spat it all over the courtroom floor.
Then I finally looked around, and the first pair of eyes that I met weren't who I was expecting. I was expecting to look into Sondheim's scared eyes, but instead I found the eyes of the woman I love. Rose. There she was in all her beauty, her weakness. She grew pale at the sight of me, and I could see how frightened she was, how vulnerable she was as she sat shackled to that domineering chair.
My eyes moved from her as I had to deposit another pool of my blood that had formed in my mouth.
"Get me the nearest Healer you can find!" shouted Sondheim, a demand.
He was trying to save me. Is it really that bad? I couldn't move. Not even if I tried. I couldn't see the damage that had been done to me by Peakes, but was it really that bad?
There was some scurrying from near the doors, and I then knew that the security guards had bolted from the courtroom to find me a Healer or the proper medicinal products.
Where was Peakes? If I had managed to apparate here alone, then I knew Peaks would be here shortly. Perhaps he had taken this small amount of time to heal the stab wounds I had inflicted upon him.
"Who splinched you?" Sondheim demanded to know.
Wow, was he really worried about my well-being?
"Jimmy Peakes," I groaned.
The pain was becoming unbearable. I couldn't tolerate it anymore. My world was starting to grow dark around the edges, and my vision blurred.
I could see Sondheim's lips move with another question, but I couldn't hear him. Did he believe me? I tried to push the radio towards Sondheim, but he didn't seem to care about it in this moment. If only he knew its significance! I could tell he was more worried about my well-being rather than anything else.
All I could hear now was a high-pitched ringing. If he wasn't going to listen to the radio, then I would tell him! I said over the ringing, wondering if I was shouting or not, but I couldn't tell. I could be whispering for all I could tell. "Give me Veritaserum. Give it to me. Give it to Rose. Give me Veritaserum!"
"Teddy!" I could finally make out another voice. It was Ron. Ron was coming to my rescue.
He knelt down next to him; I knew it was him from his blur of red hair.
I rambled more about Veritaserum. About the radio, trying to push it to someone coherent and important enough to listen to it and end the case then and there. I was aware of everyone else demanding I receive medical attention, but I shook my head in protest and began to shout more about Veritaserum and the radio. I wanted to reveal the truth! I had to before I went unconscious! I was so close to freeing her. I had all the answers. Only me. If I didn't do it now, no one would ever know!
Ron was prodding at my arm, fumbling with things, and I wondered just what he was doing. I couldn't see the damage; I didn't know how badly I was hurt, nor could I feel it anymore. I could only feel the pool of blood I was lying in.
"Ted," Ron gasped quickly. He had tears in his eyes, and he seemed to be searching for some escape to pull him from this nightmare. "Stay with me. Keep your eyes open, all right? Just keep looking at me. Everything's going to be fine. You can't take the serum now. This is...Don't worry about that. Just stay with me."
"What...?" I moaned in pain. Why? Why was he so worked up? Why wouldn't he let me free his daughter? Why now after everything...?
Then it hit me. It hit me hard in my chest, and I felt what little blood was left in my veins begin to boil.
I whispered with a cry. "Am I dying?"
Ron didn't answer me, and this sent a wave of panic running through me. I asked again, this time louder, demanding my answer.
"R-Ron, am I dying? Am I going to die?"
"No!" he finally spluttered out, but I could see the defeat in his eyes. Oh, he was putting on a strong, brave mask.
Then I knew the truth. My injury was bad. I was dying.
But I didn't have time to think this over. Not now.
There was another loud crack from within the courtroom. Silence fell over everyone like an eerie blanket. From beside me, Ron and Geoffrey looked towards the newcomer. I didn't have to look to know who it was. I knew it was Peakes. Rose let out a scream of bloody murder. I guess now, here in the Wizengamot, with the truth coming out, her fear of him came unchecked. It now made sense to me. How she would quiver with fear around him, fall into silence and appear guarded to her every word and move. She had always been afraid of him, terrified of him, of what he could do and what he had done. How had I not seen it before?
I thought back to that day at the summer house when Ruckman came by to inform us of the trial. He had mentioned Percy running for office, and Rose had been terrified to the core. It now made sense to me. The whole reason for this escapade was for Sondheim to be Minister and for Peakes to be Head. Of course they would have eliminated any other obstacles within their way after Jarvis. Percy would have been one of those obstacles, and as such, Rose knew he posed a threat for running. She had feared for his safety.
It all made sense.
Everyone grew still, speechless. No one knew how to react as bodies surrounded me. I felt like they were trying to protect me, especially Ron as he jumped to his feet and held out his arms to guard me from Peakes. As he shifted from foot to foot, splattering sounds occurred as he stood in my blood.
"You stay away from him!" shouted Ron.
My own protector. Like a father. How I loved him now.
My weak and only mobile hand fumbled around with the radio. I gently swatted the back of Ron's leg with it, grunting. "No, Ron. He's mine."
Everyone looked at me. The expressions on their face showed they thought me crazy, but I didn't care. I looked to Rose, panting and thrashing, beating at her chains to try and stop me. After these days of not seeing her, she still cared. She cared for me. She always had; that much was evident now.
"Teddy, no!" she screamed through her tears.
As I watched her desperately struggle to keep me safe, I mustered my courage and strength. I could do this. I could finish this for good. I had gone through too much to have it end like this. I was so close. Placing my hands on the cold tile in the pool of my blood, I stood. My right side temporarily gave out. I fell to my knees, sliding on the tile in my blood. It was like I was bathing in the red liquid. Ron helped me to my feet, ignoring the blood now getting everywhere.
I shoved the radio into his chest where he fumbled with the thing, looking at me in question. I exhaled heavily, trying to find the strength to breathe.
"Proof," I droned. At first I felt weak. Then, with each word, I felt stronger. I wanted the Wizengamot to hear me, to feel my shock, hatred, and pain. "That Jimmy Peakes tortured Ron Weasley! Framed Scorpius Malfoy, and blackmailed, threatened, and Imperiurised Rose Weasley to do the killing all for Harry Potter's job!"
Ron looked to me in shock, blanching and losing his breath. His hands flew to his ribs, covered by his shirt, and the expression he held showed that he had been given all the answers he wanted.
Jimmy Peakes glared at me, his teeth bared, his shoulders tense with his hatred, his wand between his fingers. He still had the holes in his shirt from where I had stabbed him earlier, the fabric stained, but there were no holes in his stomach anymore. Like I had assumed, he had most likely poured some Essence of Dissany over it to heal what he could.
"You asshole!!" he screamed, and he was leaping forward.
Everyone seemed to regain their thoughts as Peakes jumped for me. They moved out of our way and let Peakes and I have it. My uninjured arm raised and punched him as hard as I could when he got close enough. My fist collided with his jaw, and together we fell to the ground, once again beating at one another with full force. We rolled along the cold tile in my blood. We were sopping, throwing punches, Peakes shouting obscenities while I just tried to maintain use of my body before it gave out.
"You've ruined everything! I'll kill you! I'll kill you!"
"I won't let you get away with this!" I shouted in return, kicking him once with my good leg, and he went flying. "Did you think you could get away with torturing Ron to make Rose do you bidding?! Did you think you get could away with framing Malfoy and forcing her to do it?!"
"It was perfect until you came along!!" he roared and was pointing his wand at me.
"Stop it! The both of you!" shouted Sondheim.
Peakes, in his deranged state with blood pouring out of his mouth and nose, pointed his wand at Sondheim and yelled horrifically. "Silence! Shut up, Geoffrey!"
He gave his wand a flourish, and everyone in the room but Peakes and myself was silenced and forced along the seats lining the Wizengamot. Rose remained chained to the chair in the middle of the room, thrashing and screaming. "Teddy, don't fight him!" screamed Rose.
"Leave it alone, Rosie!" I shouted to her. I couldn't worry about her now. "Let me handle this!"
"You're not risking your life for me!" she screamed.
"I'm dying anyways," I muttered.
This is what it would come down to. Peakes and I.
I raised my wand, prepared to stun Peakes, but the words that left his mouth sent me to the floor.
"Crucio!" Peakes shouted. Apparently his thought process of breaking the law already in front of the Wizengamot court didn't stop him from breaking another. The Unforgiveable left his mouth with no regrets and with the full intention to inflict pain.
I had never had the Cruciatus Cruse placed on me. I had no idea what it felt like. I tried to prepare myself for the pain. Before it struck me, I could see everyone through my peripherals. Rose tried to stand, and her scream tore through the courtroom. I could see Ron, forced to stand along the wall lining the Wizengamot. He was thrashing in an attempt to rush to my aide, and his mouth was open wide with a scream, a look of hate and horror on his face. He would be screaming if he could. Sondheim from beside him put an arm on his shoulder to console him as I was hit in the chest with the curse.
I fell to the floor, collapsing in the large pool of my blood. It coated the back of my head, staining my hair red, and I released violent thrashes. The pain was unbearable. Unimagineable, and the look on Peakes' face terrified me. It was relentless.
"You will die!" I heard Peakes scream, and I believed him.
I had lost so much blood. My entire right side had been skinned completely, exposing flesh, and my clothes were ripped. I could no longer feel my right side. I had given the proof to Ron. He held it in his hands now. Rose would be freed. I had done what I had set out to do. I could die now, couldn't I? With the pain of the Cruciatus Curse drowning me and pulling me under, I wished to succumb to death. I wanted it to take me. I'd accept death gladly.
I could hear Rose screaming, screaming for Peakes to stop, begging for him to lift it, for me to just hold on a little longer. Why did I have to hold on? Ron had the truth. Surely someone would tame Peakes. Sooner or later. He would be brought down. In the end. I was bleeding out, losing consciousness as each second passed. I continued to thrash on the floor, waiting for the moment when Peakes would lift the curse. It had to come soon, right? Either that or death.
With each passing second, I grew more and more desperate. Somewhere, deep inside me, I hoped for death.
Death didn't take me. Not even after I begged for it in my mind. Not yet. There was still a fight left me in me.
Finally he did lift it, and I scrambled for my wand with my only mobile hand. My right arm was dragging by my side as shreds of my skin fell from my arm.
I couldn't hold myself up much longer; I didn't know if I could handle it anymore. I was numb. Numb all over. Why wasn't I dead yet?
I watched Peakes raise his wand, and in that brief moment, I knew I wouldn't last much longer. I couldn't go on. If this continued, I would be dead soon and Peakes would have won. And I wouldn't have that. I had to fight; I had to give it my all. Just one more time.
So I raised my wand, and with a strength I didn't know I had left, I shouted. "Expelliarmus!"
Peakes' wand went flying from his hand, and before he could react even further, my next move was already leaving my lips. "Petrificus Totalus! Incarcerus!"
Peakes fell to the floor, still as stone, and ropes shot out from the end of my wand. They spiraled about the room and wrapped Peakes within their bonds, and he was secured. Immobile and unable to fight back. That was how it was supposed to be. The Wizengamot could deal with him from here.
I limped forward, taking three uneasy steps, and I hovered over Peakes' still body. I had done it; triumph fueled me as I leaned over him. His eyes moved within their sockets, desperate, pleading with me as realized he had failed. I actually snickered, and I hissed to him.
"You will never hurt anyone I love ever again," I spat. "You will never hurt Ron again; you will never hurt Rose again. You won't touch them. I should kill you for what you did, and it would be considered justified and self-defense. I could do it, you know? But I won't. I think the Kiss is a far better punishment for you."
Then, looking at the fear that reached his eyes at my words, I turned away from him. I limped away from him, and when all my energy left, I fell to my knees. Before my body could give out, I raised my wand to the Wizengamot, still pinned against the walls of the courtroom.
"Finite Incantatem," I breathed.
A gush of air left my wand and spread throughout the room. The stiff bodies of those lining the walls exhaled and sighed in relief. Their voices and deep breaths filled the room once more; the door to the Wizengamot flung open with the new privilege to do so.
I left everyone to their own devices. Everything was right. Peakes was restrained; he wasn't going anywhere. I had done it. Rose would be freed, and Peakes would pay for what he did. Ron had been given answers I didn't even know he had been seeking; Harry could get his job back. Everything would be right.
I dropped my wand and fell to the ground, unable to hold myself up anymore. Involuntarily, I rolled onto my uninjured side, my splinched right side facing the cold air.
Everyone came rushing back to my side. The guards who had been sent for help had now returned with a Healer in tow with a large vial of Essence of Dissany. He dumped the entire thing onto my right side, and it slowly attempted to mend itself back together. My senses were beginning to weaken; I watched the Healer's lips move, his face contorted with a worried expression, but I couldn't hear him. I didn't try either. Maybe I didn't want to know.
"Please!" I could hear Rose's voice. Of course I could. I could hear her anywhere. "Let me see him! Let me hold him!"
She wanted to hold me.
Ron cradled my head, and Sondheim touched my cheek with great care. He gave me a desolate look, and then he looked over his shoulder. His voice, though, was clear as day.
"Unchain Miss Weasley!" Sondheim demanded, snapping his fingers and pointing to the chair in which Rose was strapped to as Sondheim held my head.
Oh my god. He's unchaining her; he was going to let her hold me. Happiness filled me; I didn't care about everything else. I only cared about feeling her touch one more time.
The guards raced to Rose, still chained in the center of the Wizengamot. They fumbled with the shackles, and as soon as she was freed of her bonds, she was bolting from that chair. She ran directly to my side, and she fell to her knees beside me in the pool of blood we were all sitting in. She looked frantic. Panic was stricken across her face. She was pale, and tears were running down her cheeks. Shaking, she pushed her fatherís hands away from me and replaced them with her own. She pulled my head into her lap, her fingers going through my hair.
I felt my cheeks dampen, and I realized it was from her tears. The salty liquid ran down my cheeks and seeped between my lips. I could taste them as I panted, desperate to breathe.
"Why did you do that, Teddy? Why?" she sobbed desperately.
"Because I would do...anything...for you," I sighed, searching for my breath.
"You're so stupid," she cried. "So stupid."
"It's done with. You're free," I whispered.
I felt my world grow cold. My vision grew hazy, and my senses diminished. I couldn't hear or see much. I couldn't feel either. This must have registered with those around me, for Rose started shaking me frantically. "N-N-No! No, no. Teddy, look at me. Everything's going to be okay, all right? You'll be okay. I won't leave you. I'm right here. I'm sorry for what I said and did; I was so stupid. I do love you, Teddy."
Relief. I was so relieved to hear this from her. Perhaps seeing me like this had made her realize her true feelings; I knew she had always loved me. There was no way she didn't, and I knew that. I was so happy she had finally realized that.
"I love you, Rose," I whispered in return.
"Oh, Teddy. Why did you do this? Why? N-Now you're...You're...We should be together now that we can! And now that I know I love you! But...but now you're..."
Dying. I wanted to finish for her, but I couldn't find the voice. I'm dying.
"R-Rosie," I choked as she rocked me. I thought back to that day in her bedroom when I told her I could only be her friend and nothing more until I was her first choice. "Do you love me for me?"
"Yes, Teddy," she gasped. "I do. I love you for you, and I'm so sorry I'm too late."
"Never too late..." I coughed out. She kissed my forehead as I turned my head to dispose of another dollop of blood. "Your love is enough."
"I love you with all of my heart," she reassured.
My world was fading all too quickly. All I could do was think of Rose, holding me so lovingly. I could hear only her voice, but it all seemed so distant. I didn't know if she was whispering or screaming, but her tears, frantic breathing, and rocking suggested she was mortified and along the lines of shouting. My eyes closed for a split second, and I wondered if this was the end.
Had it finally come? Was I dying?
Is this how it would end? Me dying in her arms in exchange for her freedom? I'd give my life gladly, but the reality of it all terrified me.
I could feel Rose's panic as she faded from my vision. I could still vaguely hear her screaming my lines and something else I couldn't decipher. Maybe she was telling me she loved me. Oh, what I would give to hear her say those words. Whatever it was, her words finally came to an abrupt halt, and I felt her lips upon mine.
Kissing me. She was kissing me. And rightly so this time. It wasn't me as Scorpius Malfoy, impersonating him, and it wasn't Rose kissing me out of loneliness. She was kissing me for all the right reasons. Because she didn't want to lose me, because she knew now that she loved me.
I wished I could envelop her into my arms and hold her tight until my last breath, for my saving grace didn't seem to be anywhere near, but I couldn't move. My arms were limp by my side. All I could manage was a weak push of my lips against hers.
She kissed me deeper, and I sighed into her mouth. I felt the breath leave my lungs, and I thought maybe this was finally it; I would die with Rose kissing me. But maybe I would just slip into unconsciousness. Maybe I would see her beautiful face again, maybe I would hear her voice again, and maybe I would kiss her again. I didn't know what was happening to me in that moment, but I couldn't do anything other than hope and pray for the chance to live on.
Then I lost all sensation, and my vision faded. I welcomed whatever darkness took over me.