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Chapter 2: The Plan
It was like chaos in the Department of Magical Law Enforcement; the Aurors who had answered the prison had helped to successfully get the remaining prisoners back into their cells, but one was now empty and an escaped prisoner was roaming free. Everyone was rushing to give and receive orders, to collect freshly printed wanted posters, to contact the media with his name and image and ask for information, to know what to do. Because their boss wasn't doing anything.
Harry Potter, the Ministry's Head Auror and the man in charge of the escapee's both supposed and known cases, leant stiffly against his desk, the case file closed at his side. The name 'Wolfe, Ashley Jackson' seemed to scream at him in huge red letters, but he didn't move to turn it over. Harry's eyes remained glued to the floor as he tried to figure out what Wolfe's next movements would be, so he could know what to do next. He knew Wolfe better than any member of law enforcement outside, except perhaps his nephew. Louis would be the best source of information, a great help, except his friendship with the man made him unreliable and the suspicions the Ministry had, that even Harry had, made him less than trustworthy in getting to Wolfe.
No answers came to him, no clue as to why Wolfe would suddenly decide to escape when the man's lawyer had come to Harry about early release just yesterday was visible to him, and he knew what he had to do next. It was probably going to hurt, the man would make him suffer to get his help eventually, but he had to do it.
"Harry, everything's a mess," a senior Auror said suddenly, not even bothering to knock and wait. Harry looked up; it was the only confirmation that the other man had been heard. "We need you, sir."
Harry didn't reply, his mind was turning, trying to play out scenarios between him and the man he needed to talk to, but he nodded and it was enough to calm the younger Auror down. Harry followed him out, work-mode kicking in the moment he was in public; he held up his hands and called for silence.
"Will you please calm down?" he commanded. "I know that it's rare for a prisoner to escape, but it has and can happen, and we will stay professional. Posters have gone out to the public, the press knows and the Hit Wizards have everything they need. So, until I have more information to give, please go back to your other cases; unfortunately, he's not the only criminal we have in this city."
Slowly, order started to show in the department, people went back to work and normal work-place chatter took place instead of the high levels of noise Harry had zoned out before. Satisfied with the way he'd handled his staff, Harry ducked back into his office to grab Wolfe's file and made what felt like the longest walk of his life to the office he needed.
He knocked once, waited for the quiet reply that allowed him entrance and stepped inside.
Theodore Nott glanced up from one of his files, nodded once and went to it. "Harry. What do you want?"
It was a few moments before either spoke, but it felt like an eternity to Harry; he didn't know what to say, Theodore was just waiting. He didn't know why it was so hard to ask his friend, but Wolfe's case almost seemed like a touchy subject for the man in Harry's eyes; he couldn't remember him ever taking Wolfe's case personally, he always gave it to Louis. It was supposed to be Harry's touchy subject; the escapee in question was his niece's ex-fiancee and the father of her child after all. He was essentially arresting family and that didn't sit well with Harry, but he had a job to do and he did it professionally.
Theodore's reaction just confused him.
"What do you want, Harry?" Theodore asked again.
Harry decided in that moment to just come out and say it; he'd deal with the man's potential wrath later. He dropped the file on his friend's desk. "Priority case, goes straight to the top. He's all yours, so don't go giving him to Louis."
Theodore took the case file and flicked through it, but he showed no interest and let it fall from his hands. "This is my area, my job, and I will give my cases to whomever I like. You have no say in what I can and can't do."
He went back to his paperwork, dismissing Harry from his office. Harry didn't go anywhere; he pushed the file back into Theodore's line of sight and waited for him to look up. The man's eyes were dark, almost dangerous, but Harry didn't care. He'd known Theodore since Auror training, his daughter was even engaged to Albus; he wasn't afraid, he was pissed off. He wanted this over with quickly, he wanted Wolfe back in custody before Lucy could worry, or Cameron could hear that his daddy had escaped from jail.
"There's no running from this case, Theo," Harry spat. "He's a priority case and you are the lead Hit Wizard. If it was a matter for the Aurors alone, he'd be mine and I'd take it no matter how I felt; you are no different. Do your job, don't jeopardize it over nothing."
Theodore stood up so fast that his chair almost toppled over. He glared down at Harry, taking advantage of the fact that he was quite a bit taller, and grabbed the case file. "Don't you dare say that I'd ruin my career for a criminal. I give his case to other people because he is a thief, not a murderer, not a member of La Oscurità, just a thief. I have more case files on my desk than I'd like, I have my priorities. I don't care that he's escaped, I will not stop looking for far more dangerous criminals for a thief. But I do not give him to Louis for kicks; I don't want him to go through the pain of arresting a friend and I do worry that he'll help him somehow, but Louis is my best."
"You can't give it to Louis and you know it," Harry argued back.
"Louis knows Wolfe, he's our best chance at finding Wolfe, and I will be looking over his shoulder every step of the way to make sure that Wolfe ends up exactly where he should be." Theodore moved around the desk, pushed past Harry and opened his office door. "I always have been. So, stop thinking that just because I don't take Wolfe's cases personally that I'm not there at all."
He stepped out, Harry in tow, and called Louis' name, repeating it a little louder when he didn't receive an answer. Louis came jogging down the hall, ready to accept whatever his boss wanted him to do until he saw Harry. He ran a hand through his messy blond hair and smiled nervously.
"I didn't do it."
"Nobody's accusing you of anything, Theodore sighed, rolling his eyes and giving Harry a look. He handed Louis the file. "Find him."
Louis tucked the file under his arm, not bothering to look inside just yet; he'd seen it too many times to count, could tell them what was in there from memory. He hadn't wanted to believe it when he'd heard; AJ had had no reason to escape, not when he had been so close to being freed. But he had and it both angered and saddened Louis; his friend would have his sentence increased, meaning that little boy of his would go more years without his father.
He'd find AJ no matter what, but he'd get answers before the Ministry took him.
"I'm on it," he promised. "Just don't ask questions when he comes back inside black and blue."
"I didn't hear that," Harry muttered. Turning to Theodore, he whispered, "I hope you know what you're doing."
"Have a little faith, Harry," Theodore replied. "There's only so many places he'd want to go to."
After a few more words with Theodore, Louis officially agreed to take the case and bring in AJ, then left the ministry. His first stop was his house; he had things he needed to do before he joined the search with the team Theodore was putting him in charge of, people he needed to wait for.
The walk to the fireplaces felt like the longest in his life; everyone knew about the escape now and everyone knew of Louis' friendship with the man in question. They watched him like he was a contagious disease that they had to stay away from, like he was just as guilty for the crimes and needed to be put away, too. But Louis held his head high and continued to walk confidently; they didn't know the full story, they didn't know him.
At home, he was met with silence; no sound came from the television or the radio, no footsteps could be heard in the kitchen. "Ally? Alejandro?"
Louis tilted his head to the ceiling, then left the living room to climb the stairs. He found the man lying on top of the bed, still in his pajama bottoms and light t-shirt, his eyes were shut and his breathing was so light that Louis thought he might actually still be sleeping. Louis crept closer and lay next to him, on his side of the bed, then he poked him, opening up the case file as he did so.
"What?" Alejandro muttered, his Spanish accent, though not as strong, was still evident, despite his years in England.
"Did you sleep through the news?" Louis asked, amused.
Alejandro shook his head, his eyes still closed, and let his hair fall untidily over his eyes. "I heard it on the radio, just turned it off. Should we expect a visit?"
"From AJ? Who knows?" Louis shrugged. "But a couple of Hit Wizards are stopping by soon, making sure AJ isn't here already. It's just routine, then the case is all mine."
That did make Alejandro open his eyes; he sat up, focusing on the file for a moment, before he turned his brown eyes on Louis. Both confusion and amusement shone in those eyes. "They actually gave you his case?"
"They gave me the case," Louis grinned. "If AJ doesn't come to us, well find him. I'll break his nose, ask him why he escaped, maybe send him back. I haven't decided on that yet. I have your mind if I decide not to, though; I'm sure you'll come up with a good reason to get him out and me off the hook. But, like I said, I haven't decided yet."
"We'll find him?"
Louis put his finger to his lips. "As long as they don't find out, you'll be alright. Go underground, yeah. Find him that way."
"Will do." Alejandro removed the file from Louis' hands, letting it drop onto the floor, and pulled him closer, so that Louis was underneath him. "Just like old times, bebé. I've missed this."
"Once a criminal, always a criminal," Louis sighed, moving upwards to kiss him.
"You love it," Alejandro pointed out, murmuring against Louis' lips. "You miss it."
He didn't receive an answer, there was no chance to. The knock on the door forced them apart. They shared a look, both guessing who it would be, before Alejandro got up. It wasn't AJ, he wouldn't knock on the front door, so it had to be the Hit Wizards - they couldn't force their way in because Louis wasn't under arrest and they couldn't legally get in any other way.
Louis jumped off the bed, knowing that with law enforcement in their house Alejandro would disappear for a while. They both came down the stairs and as soon as he was out the back door, Louis opened the front door.
"Hey boys. Ma'am," he added as soon as he realized that the second Hit Wizard was in fact a woman. They were both older than him, but neither had higher positions than him. They didn't work as hard, he'd say. They didn't like him. "He's not here. He'd be stupid to come. And since he evaded capture for as long as he did, then successfully broke free, he's doesn't seem that stupid."
"You know we have to look anyway," the man, Jones, pointed out. "You know it's routine and you've already agreed, so why are you making our job difficult?"
"For fun," Allen answered, her mouth twisted into what Louis thought would be a smile if she didn't hate him so much.
"You got me, Amy," he grinned, opening the door for them to enter. "Hurry up and do your thing; I have work to do, remember?"
Louis stayed in the hall as they checked the house, hoping that if he stayed out of their way they'd finish faster and he could find AJ. He craned his neck to look out of the kitchen's window every so often, but Alejandro was no where to be seen. He was either hiding somewhere in the garden or he'd actually left the house; either way he couldn't be found.
The search took almost half an hour, which Louis thought was too much considering the house was not that big. They met in the hall, stopping in front of Louis, and agreed that Ashley Jackson Wolfe was not, nor had he ever been, in the house.
"Man, were you thorough," Louis said, shaking his head. "You better not have gone through my things."
"I guess you'll never know," Allen winked. Louis grinned, trying not to show his surprise; maybe she didn't hate him as much as he'd previously thought. He wasn't wrong about Jones, though. The glare sent his way was enough to make any one else shrink back. Maybe he was wrong about the man's hatred being about business, though. Jones was so close to making things personal.
"See you at work, Louis," she continued, too smart not to notice the friction between the two men - she just didn't seem to care. "Say hello to Wolfe for us."
She walked out, Jones following and slamming the door closed. Louis scoffed and went to the living room window, making sure they were long gone before he went into the kitchen and opened the back door.
"Ally?" he called.
"Here," Alejandro replied, stepping inside.
"Come on, Ally, get ready. It's time to find AJ."
Alejandro smirked, placing his hands on Louis' chest and pushing him backwards. "Bebé, we don't need to go anywhere. Your first guess was right."
Louis stopped before his sentence was even out, eyes widening when another figure stepped into his house. He looked completely out of place in clothes that were too big and fishing boots, but he was there and he was okay. For now.
"What the fuck, AJ?" Louis demanded to know. "You just escaped for no reason. You were so close to getting out and now you've fucked it all up. And I'm the one who has to take you back."
AJ held up his hands, silently pleading for a moment to explain everything. It was the look of desperation on his face that stopped Louis from following through with his earlier threat to break the man's nose.
"First, do I have any spare clothes and shoes here? I can't be in these for another moment."
"Yeah, I'll get them," Alejandro murmured, stepping back. "Stay in the kitchen."
"I'm suddenly thankful Lucy's kicked me out enough times for me to have some stuff here," AJ chuckled nervously; Louis was still narrowing his eyes, as though he was deciding which punch would cause the most damage. "I didn't plan it, Louis. I Saw it."
"You mean -"
"Yeah," he nodded, saying nothing more until Alejandro was back, also dressed, and AJ had changed into his own clothes.
Once he felt more comfortable and less like the escaped convict he was, AJ sat at the breakfast bar with his two best friends and told them everything; his vision, his decision to go back and his want to see his son.
"Lucy will never allow that," Louis said apologetically. "Before she didn't want you near him until you were free. Now she's not going to want you near him at all. I haven't spoken to her today because I'm actually afraid of what she'll say."
"Coward," Alejandro joked; all three knew that he'd never go to Lucy either.
"Will you help me, Louis?" AJ tried not to beg. "Help me figure out what I need to do, then you can take me back. I'll go willingly, I promise."
"I'll help you." Alejandro cleared his throat. "We'll help you. Where do we start?"
"I need to wait for my next vision. I know it's coming, I can feel it. Until then -" AJ stopped, hesitating, then he tried again. "Until then, you have to get me to Lucy."
They considered that the hardest part of the plan.
A/N: Woo! New chapter. I hope you enjoyed, please let me know what you think, :)