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Chapter 1: an introduction, a party and the beginnings of a plan
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We are the Clan, and then some.
We are the kids with one hell of a reputation to live up to, and we are also the biggest, brightest and best organised crime unit in Britain. And secrecy is one hell of a problem when our parents are literally the law.
Dom is the brains of this operation. She’s in charge, she’s hell scary, she goes for a run at five every morning and kicks us into shape.
Victoire and Teddy- our resident loved-up couple. They do the reconnaissance and spying- and have literally no morals. They’d bug Uncle Harry’s bedroom if they needed to.
Our overseas contact is Lysander. Basically on an extended holiday courtesy of our profits. But if you needed three Nigerian passports and a Japanese jumbo jet, he’s your man.
Lorcan- our conman. He could sell you your own shoes or the Eiffel Tower if he wanted, and he’s my absolute best mate. I don’t believe he actually knows what a real job is.
Fred is munitions. Need something blowing up? Whether it’s a door or a building, call Fred. Make sure it’s around mid-afternoon though, as that’s usually the only time he’s conscious.
Molly definitely inherited her dad’s brains, but got a heavy dose of creativity in there too. She does our cover ups. When Fred blows up one bridge too many, she’s already picking through the rubble asking if anyone can smell gas. She works part time at the Prophet- who would have guessed?
Louis, Hugo and Lily. Where the hell do you start? On the surface Louis is actually Assistant Head Healer Weasley, Hugo is an architect and Lily is part of the team develops traps for Gringotts. It may be Dom who finds us the gigs, but it’s still these three who are our diabolical planners. They read blueprints for fun, carry around their laser pointers at all times, and could recite our individual percentages of success off the top of their heads.
Scorpius- well, it’s stereotypical of the Malfoy’s, but he’s got the criminal contacts. He only has to walk into Knockturn Alley and it goes quiet. And puts that extra bit of money in when we’ve squandered ours.
Our supplier is Roxanne. She’s the baby of the Johnson-Weasley family, and Daddy gives her whatever she wants. And if he hasn’t got it, she works her scarily good charm on anyone. She’s not even part-veela. Peruvian Instant Darkness Powder, illegally strong Love Potions, she can get it. Or brew it. Whatever you do, don’t eat after you’ve pissed off Roxy.
The Ministry insider is Lucy. She can get information that we can’t wheedle out of our Ministry parents, and has a tendency to abuse their resources, despite winning ‘Model Employee’ for four years running.
Albus is responsible for bringing in Scorpius to our previously family based operations, and voluntarily works in the Muggle world. Odd choice for Scorpius’ best friend, but there you have it. As Al is one of the few who works up-top, he’s in charge of anything we need Muggle-wise. Obviously. We need him loads, as when I say we’re respected all over Britain, I mean it. He works in the Muggle-version of the Aurors.
James is transport. As ex-seeker for the Cannons, you’d expect him to be pretty quick on a broom, but it was fairly surprising that his gift managed to transfer itself to every moving thing on the planet. He got his Muggle driving licence without any lessons, and Auntie Ginny swears he didn’t use magic. If you needed someone to fly the aforementioned Japanese jet, James is your man. And he insists he has ridden a dragon, but I’d take that with a pinch of salt.
Just me left. Rose. I don't like labels. But if you insist- I'm a thief.
What, you thought with our parents we’d be the next generation of wonderful do-gooders, who help the blind, fight the evil and donate to charities? You kidding me? We’re positively badass.
Rose: the Leaky Cauldron
Wednesday 6th October
That's what Hannah Longbottom wrote on my reference when I needed another part-time job. I usually supplement my meagre income with the profits of our racketeering, but it was slow going the other month, because some bright spark had decided to pull off a bunch of high profile crimes in a very short space of time. Aurors started patrolling the streets, everyone bumped up their security- Mum even started up a wizarding Neighbourhood Watch.
I'm very good at what I do, but everything is harder with witnesses.
As I’m twenty-five, and my only career to date is a barmaid at the Leaky Cauldron, I'm the disappointment of the Weasleys. Most of my cousins have decent jobs either in the Ministry or places like the Prophet or Gringotts. Respectable, boring places. Working atthe Leaky is not the most glamorous and well-paid of jobs, but it suits my purposes perfectly. No-one expects the witch behind the bar to be listening to the fact that Fletchers' guard dragon was at the vets, and the only replacement they've been able to find is a sleepy Krup and its alcoholic owner.
I finished my late shift at the pub, waved goodbye to Hannah and made my way into Muggle London. It was Freddy’s twenty-sixth birthday, and we were having a party at our base- a top floor penthouse, which was crammed full of everything we might need. Situated in the middle of London- it’s not bad for nights when you’re not entirely sure you will make it back home, for stashing stolen goods, or for illicit parties that law-abiding citizens are not invited to. I walked through the lamp-lit streets, the summer night closing in. The party started ages ago, but because everyone assumes I have no money, when Hannah offers me extra shifts, I can’t turn them down.
I quickened my pace when I heard footsteps behind me. The street was quiet, and there had been a spree of muggings recently. The doorways were dark and shadowy, and only a few of the dotted streetlamps were working. I’d mug someone tonight. I slipped my hand into my pocket, gripping my wand. The footsteps sped up to match mine- getting closer. I turned around, and my wand jabbed out, sending a ball of light into my pursuer’s chest. He was bowled over, and the guy he was with cracked up laughing.
“Shit the bed! Lysander! You scared me!”
Lysander pushed back his floppy blonde hair, and grinned. “His idea,” he gasped around his laughter.
I kicked Lorcan, who was lying on the ground still, also struggling to catch his breath. “Moron.”
“I didn’t realise you were so jumpy,” he groaned.
I held out a hand to help him up. “I defy any thief not to be jumpy,” I said. “I hate you.”
“No, you love me really.” He took my hand and didn’t let go, his palm warm in mine. Lysander linked his other arm with me, and we started to walk again.
“Were you waiting for me to finish so you could try and jump me?” I accused.
“Lorcan’s idea,” Lysander chipped in.
“Actually, we were sent by Dom so you would hurry your arse up. She’s got an announcement to make.”
We had barely stepped out into the living room before Dom took centre stage.
“Right!” she said, standing on the table in the middle of the room. “Now everyone is here, and before we all get too drunk, and because it is so hard to get all of you in one place, I’ve got another gig for us.”
We quietened down. Lorcan was slightly unsteady on his feet once he let go of me and collapsed into a chair. Dom is teetotal and hates it when people put her off with acts of drunkenness.
Albus fell into the seat next to me as well, and whispered into my hair: “I’m taking notes. I will not remember this later.”
Albus lives with James and Freddy, and they mercilessly corrupt the younger child with copious amounts of pre-drinking. I nodded in agreement, and then he poised an imaginary quill, holding out his hand for paper. Albus is so odd; it’s hard to tell whether he puts this on or not.
“We’re breaking into Hogwarts.”
Dom’s words were met with a stunned silence. The twins wore identical surprised expressions, Teddy’s food fell out of his mouth and Albus’ pretend quill dropped from his fingers.
“We’re going in, getting what we need, and leaving. We need to get a statue from the Room of Requirement. It needs to happen before a fortnight’s gone, and-” she checked her watch “-I’m late for boyfriend’s dinner party with work.” She pulled a face and then blew us a collective kiss. “Ciao!”
Albus slid off his chair onto the floor and closed his eyes.
“We are royally screwed,” Roxy said. “How in the name of Merlin are we supposed get into Hogwarts? It’s impossible.”
Lily grinned, and patted her on the head. “Don’t be afraid to dream a little bigger, darling,” she said. “If Dad can do it, we can.”
Louis grabbed Hugo and dragged him into Hell. Lily followed, her heels clicking on the parquet floor. Hell is the corner that all plans are made in. It’s closed off with high cabinets and I have actually never been inside, but it looks terrifying and extremely complicated.
Teddy stepped up on the table. “Vic and I had planned to make an announcement with you all here too, but seeing as Dom’s left and they won’t notice a hurricane, I’ll tell you all now before any more people leave.” He pulled Vic onto the table with him. “Vic is pregnant. It’s a little girl, and she’s due in seven months.” He grinned widely.
I won’t bother describing the response to that, because no doubt you can imagine all the squealing, half of us declaring we were going to be Aunties/Uncles/extended cousins and such the like, as well as the manly punching of Teddy and declaring that he was indeed, the man.
And then Freddy decided that because it was his party, he deserved some attention, so we all had to tell him he was the man too.
Our parties tend not to end, just merge into the next morning when we all nurse hangovers, and find ourselves littered around the office like scattered leaves. Personally, I don’t drink that much. Working in a pub tends to put you off a bit. However, I did wake up curled up to a shirtless Scorpius. I was pretty damn sure I didn’t fall asleep on him, but I was a famously heavy sleeper and Lorcan probably thought that this was the funniest thing he had ever done.
Luckily, Scorpius was asleep too, and so were most people, except for James, who was tapping away at a computer. He didn’t appear to have noticed, and I certainly didn’t want him too. James was everyone’s big brother, but he hated Scorpius.
I levered myself off the sofa carefully, trying to avoid waking Scorpius and quietly stepped up behind James. He was checking his email on the wizarding web. I watched as he skipped past a service email from OwlMail.co.uk, scanned the newsletter from the Cannons, and then closed that window, checking his online balance at Gringotts.
I nearly choked when I saw his account: G15 million. And as I watched, another payment came through from a PI Jones for G76 thousand. He deleted the browser history for Gringotts.
I took a silent step back, and then a loud one forward. “Whatcha doing?”
He started violently. “N-nothing.”
He was saved from the awkwardness by the planners emerging from Hell. They looked like I felt. I’m often told that I’m a lucky she-devil, due to the fact that after a night on the town, I usually look fairly bright-eyed and bushy tailed, despite that I’m dying internally. However, Lily had screwed only half her hair up, the rest straggling down by her ears, and her shoes were dangling from one finger. Louis had the imprint of a keyboard on his cheek and Hugo’s eyes weren’t completely open yet.
“Hate you,” mumbled Louis.
It is a well-known gem that if we run out of alcohol, Hell has a safe full of firewhisky to sustain the demons that lurk within. They must have made a considerable dent in it last night.
“Plan!” Hugo said, waving a memory stick. “Done.”
Clearly my baby brother wasn’t up to full sentences yet. Lily beckoned me to the elevator, jamming her heels back onto her feet. “Come on Red, we’ll do the hangover run, and get Dom as well. Two weeks isn’t long.”
I checked my watch as we stepped out into the cold morning air. Neither of us felt up to Apparating, and the nearest coffee shop was only a couple of streets away.
“Where did Dom go last night?” Lily asked me.
“Boyfriend’s work do.”
“Ethan has got a job?”
“She’s dumped Ethan. She came round the other night, crying with Molly. I had to make Hugo clear out for a bit.”
My brother and I are actually quite close, and so when he needed to move to London for work and couldn’t find a place quick enough, I let him stay, and he never moved out. Most people think the apartment is his, and the story is good, since a barmaid would never be afford a house in central London.
“So who is her new man?”
“No idea. Last Wednesday, in between tissues and chocolate, she swore she was never dating again.”
Lily went even paler. “Don’t mention food, please.”
We stopped outside Starbucks and played rock, paper, scissors to see who would go in and who would fetch Dom. I lost, so Lily went to get Dom –she only lives over the road- and I pushed the glass door open.
Oh no. New girl at the counter. “Hi,” I said, smiling.
She chewed her gum arrogantly. “What can I get ya?”
“One black coffee, two large mochas, three cappuccinos and two hot chocolates with marshmallows, please,” I said, ticking them off on my fingers.
“Yes, but I’m not finished. Two lattes- one medium, and one large, a white chocolate mocha and two iced teas, one Earl Grey, a small skinny latte and a large peppermint hot chocolate.” I mentally ran through it again. Yes, I got it all.
I looked up at the girl. Her mouth had fallen open, and I could see her gum. “That’s not a very attractive expression, by the way,” I confided.
She scowled, and yelled “Phiiil!”
It is half-seven in the morning. There is no earthly reason to yell. I waited patiently as Phil stumbled, bleary-eyed, out of the back.
“Red!” he greeted me, “Usual order?”
“Yes please.” It always amazes me how, out of my entire red-headed family, I’m the only one with a ginger-related nickname. James once said that it was because Roses are red, but he drinks white chocolate mochas, so who cares what he thinks?
Phil piled all sixteen drinks into trays, and then Lily and Dom came in to help me. Next stop was the pharmacy for paracetamol, and so began the whole charade that happens every time.
“I’m sorry, you can’t buy more than two packets at once,” said the old lady at the checkout. I scowled at her.
“Why?” I already knew the answer.
“Company policy. You’ll also have to show proof of age,” she said, smiled sweetly.
I showed her my Muggle driving licence, which by the way was a fake- I couldn’t ride a bike, let alone heavy machinery- and then leant forwards on the counter. My brain was throbbing. “There are sixteen of us, we all have headaches. There are fifteen pills in each packet. We will each take two. That makes thirty-four, and there are only thirty pills. We need three packets.”
“I’m sorry, it’s company policy-”
This stupid pharmacy, at some point has seen all of us asking for three packets. And they still won’t give it us. The reason I go through this massive barney every time because I have only a little faith in humanity, but I still hope one day it will be restored, by them letting us buy three effing packets. Not even Lorcan can talk his way around the hag.
Fine. We’ll do it my way.
She scanned two packets through the bleeping machine and put them in a tiny paper bag. I paid, and she handed them to me, showing her gums with her smile.
“I don’t see why you don’t just Obliviate her,” Dom says, taking a sip of her black coffee once we were outside.
“Because I can nick them,” I said, twirling the third packet between my fingers.
Lily smiled smugly. “But Dom wasn’t there and Vic wasn’t drinking, so really you only needed two packets.”
I groaned. “Screw you.”
“Who’s the new boyfriend anyway?” asked Lily, carefully checking the road before she crossed it. She’s so cautious, I reckon she mentally does risk assessments before she gets up.
“What are you talking about? I’m single,” Dom said.
“But you said last night you were at boyfriend’s work do,” I said.
“No I didn’t,” Dom said sternly. “You must have misheard me.”
I raised my eyebrows at Lily behind Dom’s back and Lily shrugged back. If Dom wants to play it like that, fine.
We entered to a chorus of waking-up groans.
“Okay,” I called. “Three cappuccinos?” Hugo and Louis lurched over for theirs, while Lily was collapsed onto a table now, drinking hers.
“Two hot chocolates with marshmallows?” Lorcan and Lysander waved their arms, and I levitated them over.
“A medium latte?” Teddy moaned in answer.
“A large latte?” Vic took hers and Teddy’s. How I envied her hangover-free head.
White chocolate mocha was for James. Iced teas- Molly and Albus, Lucy had her Earl Grey, and the peppermint hot chocolate was Freddy’s. Roxy was too busy throwing up for her skinny latte, and I passed the final mocha coffee to Scorpius, taking one myself. Each coffee came with a side order of two painkillers.
“Right,” said Dom, thoroughly bored with proceedings. “It’s time for the plan of action. Everyone, last night didn’t happen, and it will not happen again until this is completed. Get your thinking caps on, because this is not going to be easy.”
A/N: Thank you to inkbutterfly for the title ideas, and thanks to acrules for beta'ing.
Chapter 2: some rain, a traitor and nothing going to plan.
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[Rose Weasley and Scorpius Malfoy]
-Rose: 52 Prince Drive, Essex.
Saturday 8th October.
Sometimes, I hate my brother. I hate him, and utterly despise Louis, and I even mildly dislike Lily. Which is hard, because she’s so nice. But it is their fault that I am trying to get through a lock which seems to have more tumblers on it than in the back room of the Leaky.
And if you didn’t get that, it was a pun about the dual meanings of ‘tumbler’. I was going to make a crack about the website, but that’s spelt differently, and I couldn’t be bothered because it’s raining and icy water has now started trickling down the back of my neck.
But for now, let me take you back to yesterday morning, when everyone was clutching their coffees and stumbling into the conference room.
We are fairly organised for a bunch of barely evolved chimpanzees. Long table, each have our own chair; it’s all very official. (Mine is an armchair with a flappy-up thing so I can put my feet up. IT’S SO COOL!)
Louis, Hugo and Lily stood at the back, their laser pointers on as the screen was pulled down and the projector whirred into life.
“Alright,” said Lily, flicking to the first slide. “We need to get into Hogwarts- unnoticed, find which version of the Room this is in, and nick it,” she said, showing slide two.
It was an unremarkable gargoyle. You know; evil, twisted features, long tongue, horns, hunched over.
“This is over six feet tall,” continued Hugo, looking better after his coffee already. “So: easy to find, hard to move. Our mystery employer has stipulated that we can’t use any charms on it- to get it out, to move it, anything. Can’t even Floo with it, or use a Portkey.”
“So that is going to be difficult, at least,” said Louis.
Molly rolled her eyes. Thank you, Captain Obvious.
“We’re planning this for a week’s time; the fourteenth of October,” Louis said, and then Scorpius coughed.
“What?” snapped Dom impatiently.
“I can’t do that Saturday,” Scorpius said firmly.
All eyes were on him, and we all had identical stunned expressions. You can’t just not do a job.
How I envy him now.
“Why not?” demanded Dom.
“Personal business,” he said, standing his ground.
Dom raised a perfect eyebrow. “Get out then, if you can’t do it.”
That sounded very sinister. Scorpius held her gaze for one long moment.
“It can’t be that important then,” Dom said with a humourless smile.
So Scorpius stood up to leave, nodding at Albus as he pushed the glass door open. I noticed his shirt was done up lopsided.
There was silence as we heard the lift doors ping open.
“That isn’t your call to make,” said Albus angrily, as soon as the doors closed. “You can’t just chuck him out-“
“Yes it is, and yes I can. If you don’t like it, you can follow him,” Dom said, holding up at hand to silence Albus, who slouched down in his seat. No-one wanted to leave. “Where were we?”
Louis coughed nervously. “Um... we were thinking of getting Vic and Teddy in early as substitute teachers or something, but you can’t take Polyjuice Potion during pregnancy, so-”
“So Vic is going to do surveillance of our new employer. Work with Scorp... um, Albus and Lucy to get any info, and find out why this is so special,” Lily continued, wilting slightly under Dom’s death glare.
Albus looked mutinous. This was going to explode at some point.
Hugo clicked to the next slide.
“So, for Teddy to get a job at Hogwarts, there needs to be an opening for him to impersonate someone. Luckily, the Charms guy, Professor Aldertree goes home on weekends to look after his cats. So, Rose, Fred and James, that’ll be your job.”
So that’s how, the next night, I ended up nervously picking the lock of 52 Prince Drive, Essex, soaking wet.
Freddy and James were not being helpful, currently playing I-Spy, while I wrestled with the lock. We all had Disillusionment Charms on, but they were going to be a fat lot of use when we dripped wet footprints all over the carpets.
Finally, with a last jiggle, the door swung open.
“Careful,” I whispered to my two mostly invisible and very annoying cohorts. “If the lock was that hard, expect worse inside.”
They didn’t heed my warning, but then, I didn’t expect them to. They went charging in, setting off a Caterwauling Charm, which Fred immediately Silenced.
“I’m pretty sure he heard that,” I whispered.
“Are you just going to stand there?” James whispered back.
“Yup! I break and enter, you’re supposed to be the ones who do all the other stuff,” I said, sitting on the mat just in the door. I tapped away my D-Charm. They’re uncomfortable to wear after a while, and are often blamed as the cause of Irritable Bowel Syndrome.
No, thank you.
“Fine,” said James, disgruntled. “We’ll go do ‘other stuff’.”
Five minutes, a lot of loud swearing and three loud thumps later, James and Fred came back down the stairs. Their D-Charms had gone too, and they were moaning.
And they stank of burning, and were wetter than before.
“That man is a paranoid old bat. Why would you think that people are going to come and Imperius you in the middle of the night? What sort of crazy idiot thinks that?” said James, waving his hands.
Freddy dismissed my quizzical look. I mean, Aldertree’s fears weren’t totally unfounded.
Fred shook his sopping wet hair and continued the rant. “Who in their right mind has a Thief’s Downfall outside their bedroom door?”
That is a bit OTT.
We dashed through the rain to James’ BMW- he collects cars like normal people collect stamps, or glass paperweights, or Beanos. I managed to call shotgun before Freddy, and slid into the warm, leather interior with a happy sigh.
“So, go on,” I said, as we pulled out of the street, the engine purring. “What did you do?”
Freddy leaned forward, wedging his grinning face between the two front seats.
“If I have to reverse, I’m going to end up breaking your nose,” warned James, despite the fact we were now going at a cool 90mph, in a thirty. James sticks cling-film over his number plates, because he claims it just reflects light onto the speed cameras. At any rate, he doesn’t let us see any speed tickets.
“We Imperiused the old guy so he went on holiday until the sixteenth,” Freddy said. “I suggested some Muggle resort in the Bahamas, and I texted Dom to stick enough money in his Gringotts to have an epic holiday.”
See? We may break into old people’s homes and Imperius them, but we only suggest that they go on holiday, and even give them money to do it.
“And we told him not to mention his absence to anyone, and when he got into Hogwarts to pretend that he hadn’t gone anywhere, so we’ve covered all our bases,” James chipped in, his eyes not straying from the road.
“Poor Teddy though,” Freddy said with a sigh.
“I don’t think that Professor Aldertree knows the meaning of ‘personal hygiene’,” said James, grimacing. “And someone needs to mention to him that joss sticks do not hide the smell of BO.”
-? The Ministry of Magic, London.
A man with greying temples and frizzy hair sat at his desk, his fingers curled around a stout mug of coffee. His phone rang.
Slowly, he picked it up. “Hello?”
“Of course it’s you. Who else calls at this ungodly hour?”
“Demons,” said the caller, chuckling.
“What news of the plan?” the man said; cutting off the laugh. He massaged his forehead with the tip of his arthritic finger.
“The first stage is complete- the Charms teacher has been diverted.” The caller instantly became more business-like. “Are we going to take them down this time?”
“Not this time,” said the old man, hefting a pile of thick manila folders onto his desk. “They were too careful last time, and we need more evidence.”
“We need to do it quickly, before they start to suspect me. We should to arrest them, and get it over with. Can’t you stage a robbery, and implicate them?”
The man’s voice was icy. “Do not presume to tell me what to do. And I will remind you, that if they go down, you’ll be dragged down too.”
There was a second of stunned silence on the line. “You promised-”
“I promised that you wouldn’t go to Azkaban, but your name will still be mud. But if you try anything, if you tip them off, if you show any indication of switching loyalties, I will retract that generous promise. I did you the favour, you are paying me back.”
“Yes, sir.” The caller’s voice was subdued, and heavy.
“Good.” There was a click as the caller hung up. He replaced his receiver in its cradle softly, and opened the first file. ‘Albus Severus Potter’ was printed on the first page in bold scarlet capitals. Every criminal in wizarding Britain had their own folder in his office, but he was only interested in these sixteen for now. The Weasleys, the Potters, the Scamander twins- even a Malfoy.
They thought they were above the law.
They were going to be proved wrong- even if he had to break the law to do it.
What was that saying? An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth...
A child for a child.
He’d lost everything that night in May. His daughters were his world- and they were snuffed out, as easily as barely flickering candles.
Now it was time for revenge, to avenge their deaths, and to make the parents of the most spoiled generation in history feel the way he did.
He allowed himself a small, satisfied smile.
-Rose: the Penthouse, London.
Mainly dry by the time we got back to London, the three of us crashed in the penthouse. Fred and I lived on opposite sides of the city, and James was too tired to drive us. I can’t drive, and James told Freddy that if it was the apocalypse, and the only way to save humanity was to let Freddy drive, he still wouldn’t let him near the wheel of a Ford- James hated Fords with a bizarre passion which none of us quite understood, and were all a bit scared of.
I stepped out of the shower, after finally washing the stink of joss sticks out of my hair. The smell the boys brought back had managed to seep into everything, and James was lamenting the cost of getting his car cleaned. I had to bite my lip in order to keep mum about the amount in his back account.
“Oh damn, sorry Freddy!”
He was on the phone, standing just outside the bathroom door. He jumped about a mile in the air, quickly pressing the red button.
“Are you all right?” I asked.
“Yeah, I’m fine. Totally fine,” he mumbled, attempting a smile.
He was ash-grey, shaking like a leaf and was gripping his mobile so hard he’d cracked the screen.
“You don’t look fine,” I observed. “Do you want me to get you anything?”
He shook his head, his too-long hair whipping around his face. “N-no, I’m okay. Just wanted to use the bathroom...”
He pushed me out the way, and stumbled into the bathroom, slamming the door shut behind him.
Weird hobo creature, I thought, shaking my head, and went to bed.
Thursday 14th October
I didn’t have anything else to do until the fourteenth, and all that actually involved was travelling up to Hogwarts incognito. So I worked, informed Hannah I would need a couple of days off, to which she agreed easily enough. I have to call her up on short notice to cancel my shifts fairly often –I’ve stopped even pretending to be ill- but I’m pretty sure she thinks I’m a part-time hooker or something.
So, I got the fourteenth off as well, and travelled up with Albus, -in style, in first class on a train which made me feel homesick for Hogwarts. We all travel separately, and try not to go with closely related people. You can’t tell that Albus and I are related, at all, especially with his flat cap pulled down over his face.
Albus looks like Uncle Harry. A lot.
“Al!” I said, exasperated, trying to pull the hat off. “We’re on a Muggle train now, no-one knows us, for god’s sake take the stupid hat off!”
“Scorpius gave me this hat!”
“My point exactly. Who wears flat caps anyway?”
Albus tilted his cap away from his face enough to see a party of red-faced, tweed-wearing posh people wearing flat caps walk past our compartment. “They do,” he said, satisfied.
“You’re an idiot.”
He said nothing in return, just pulled on a pair of massive sunglasses. I rolled my eyes.
“I’m going to get a drink,” I said, sliding the door open. “You want anything?”
He shook his head, and yanked up the collar of his coat. Oh for heaven’s sake, why hasn’t he been sacked yet, if this is the extent of his Muggle disguises?
When I got back to the compartment, half-drunk orange juice in hand, he was nowhere to be seen.
Two hours later, I’d read the Prophet twice, filed my nails, gone looking for the twerp three times, and unsuccessfully tried to quash the sinking feeling in my stomach. Still no sign of him.
How do you lose someone on a train?
I eventually fell asleep, charming the door locked first, and woke up when it was dark, Albus shaking me.
“Come on! We’re here.”
“What? Where the hell did you go?” I said groggily, rubbing sleep out of my eyes.
“Go? What do you mean, go? I was here the whole time. Now, come on,” he urged, grabbing my bag and I stumbled after him sleepily, thoroughly confused.
Much later, we were all in position.
Much, much later.
James, Lysander, Hugo, Louis, Fred and Teddy had all flown, pretending to be on a stag weekend. They thought it would be in character to get rat-faced. Dom nearly killed them all. She apparated here- apparently something had come up which meant she couldn’t leave until far too late. Whatevs.
Vic and Lorcan were both staying in London, so Molly had commandeered Vic’s car and had driven with Lily, Lucy and Roxy up to Hogsmeade- getting very lost, breaking down/getting towed, being caught for speeding and earning many sniggers about women drivers.
I can’t even drive, and I helped make them all shut up. Forcibly.
It was fun!
Dom got angry at us, and yelled at us all. She has been getting so ratty recently, it has been doing all of our heads in. We’d eventually forced a sobriety solution down their throats (how Roxy manages to whip up a makeshift potion in about half an hour, I will never understand, nor where she acquires the ingredients from).
But, we were all in position now, and that's the main thing. I was crouched outside the Great Hall with four firsties- Hugo, Lysander, Roxy and Molly. I was lording it over Hugo, because I WAS TALLER THAN HIM and then-
And then there was an almighty crash! and Professor Aldertree fell out of a first storey window.
Oh crap. Dom is going to murder us all. Or turn us over to the authorities.
A/N: Thanks for reading, and I hope you're enjoying it! Any chance of a review? :D
By the way.... what do you think of the caller? Who do you think it is? Also, I am so sorry, but the mysterious old man we see did say 'that night in June'... when in fact, I meant May. It's now fixed, so thanks so much to shadowycorner for pointing that out.
Chapter 3: a fight, injuries, and the failure of a plan
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[James Potter II and Albus Potter]
-Rose: Hogwarts grounds.
Friday 15th October
The short glow of light from my wand had Aldertree running over to me, and by the time he’d reached us, Teddy was back, clutching at his too large waistband.
“What the fuck was that?” said the first-year that was Roxy- it was bizarre to see the tiny child swear.
My earpiece crackled as Dom sighed down it, and I quickly fished a spare out of my pocket for Teddy.
“The Fraternity,” he said, screwing it into his ear.
I turned to see my horrified expression mirrored by the midgets around me.
The Fraternity were our biggest rivals- although, saying that, we don’t actually clash that much. Generally because they’re the brawn, and we’re the brains- they smash and grab and our jobs are delicate, requiring precision and planning. And now they were muscling into our job. This didn’t look too good.
Teddy rolled his eyes at us, and launched into an explanation. “They were all Flooing in,” he said, “and they must have screwed up their contact because they all ended up the fireplace I had opened for you guys. They didn’t realise it was me, so they just pushed me out the way, and when I did my bumbling teacher impression, I got thrown out the window.”
“How many?” Louis asked, his soft voice hissing in my ear.
“Six,” Teddy replied. “Allowing for one on the inside, and two waiting, that’s nine.”
“Dom?” Lucy’s voice was low. “What do we do?”
Then Lily’s no-nonsense tone crackled through. She must be pacing on the leafy ground. “We’ve got two options. Steal it before they do, or steal it after they do.”
“Is there a third option?” I asked, and Hugo snorted with laughter beside me.
“This is what we need Scorpius for,” someone said quietly.
Had a point. It was usually Scorpius who kept an eye on the Fraternity for us.
Dom rounded on them. “It was probably him who put the Fraternity up to it,” she spat. “We’re re-grouping and pulling out. 500 yards into the trees, behind the Three Broomsticks, two minutes. Move it.”
-? The Ministry of Magic, London.
The man rubbed his eyes as the phone rang again. Why had he subjected himself to this Muggle filth?
“Yes?” he answered, curtly.
“There’s a problem,” came a familiar voice. It was panicked.
“Introducing the Fraternity to this melee was your idea.”
“My idea was sound,” the caller said, sounding annoyed. “Since Malfoy has gone, they are completely out-of-touch with the underground. But the Fraternity entered Hogwarts through the wrong fireplace, and now-”
“And now your lot are pulling out.”
“They aren’t my lot,” the caller paused. “But yes. The new plan will be to steal it from the Fraternity.”
“I don’t see the problem.”
The caller sighed, exasperated. “You can only steal from its rightful owner. And would the Fraternity really want to admit that they were robbed? The worst you could charge the Clan with is possession which for them wouldn’t even mean a prison sentence.”
“For them,” the man repeated, his face twisted. The caller had hit a nerve.
There was a nervous cough on the line. “I have another suggestion.”
“Is it going to be as good as your one?” the man retorted, anger flaring in his eyes. “I’m of a mind to throw you to the wolves, so to speak.”
-Rose: 500 yards behind the Three Broomsticks, in the trees.
It had started to rain. Of course it had. No failed robbery in history is complete without some precipitation, making the whole scene dramatic and poignant. And wet. Really, I have had enough of rain. Maybe Lorcan can get me a holiday- he chats up all the travel agents. Even the blokes.
I lit my wand, and held it up out of my face. It looked like most people were here, but Dom started roll call anyway- because we’re all in primary school.
“Lorcan and Vic are in London,” she murmured, “Lucy and Louis are here...”
She glanced at my little group. “Rose, Hugo, Lysander, Teddy, Roxy and Molly...”
Portugal. That would be nice.
There was a grunt of acknowledgement.
“James, Lily and Albus?”
But, I’ve never been to Italy. So much culture... and art... and low security...
“Me and Lils are here,” said James, shaking his wet hair like an overgrown, humanoid dog.
“Albus?” Dom said again.
The woods were deathly quiet, except for the pitter-patter of rain on the leaves.
I tapped my earpiece, but heard nothing. Dom lifted her collar to her lipsticked mouth, the mike clipped onto it beaded with water. “Albus?” she said, her voice sounding extra loud in my ear.
“James, what would Albus do if his communications were down?” Hugo said, pinching the bridge of his nose.
“Carry on with the plan,” James said, his voice hoarse.
Hugo checked his watch. “So, right now, he should be in the Charms corridor, awaiting our signal.”
Even if all of us were here, we wouldn’t stand a chance against the Fraternity. Albus was definitely screwed.
James started to lace up his boots tighter, and I shifted my rucksack slightly. C’mon, Dom.
She appraised us both for a minute. Time’s ticking on...
“James, Red, you’ve got half an hour,” she said, and barely were the words out of her mouth than Jay and I had set off, running.
The quickest way into the castle from Hogsmeade was through the Honeydukes passage. A swift elbow to the glass, and we were in.
Louis’ voice sounded in my ear. “Kay guys, I’m your eyes. Powering up the Marauder’s Map... now.”
Unfortunately, we don’t have a hard-copy of the Map- my mother had confiscated it years ago when she caught Fred and I planning the best way to get into the Slytherin common room one summer. Hugo was supposed to be watching the door. We eventually found it, but it was bloody impossible to make working copies. I appreciate the genius of Teddy’s dad and all, but I wish he hadn’t been quite so clever.
So Albus and a couple of Scorpius’ dodgy friends had come up with the next best thing- a Marauder’s Map program on a laptop, which was almost as good as the real thing. It wasn’t very portable, but it allowed you to track people in different colours and encompassed more of the surrounding area. I added in the colours.
Scorpius had been working on similar ones for other key places- the Ministry, Gringotts, Diagon and Knockturn Alley- even the Burrow, but I guess that’s finished now.
“Well,” Louis said, “I guess you don’t need me to tell you that Honeydukes is empty.”
“Worked that out myself, actually,” James huffed, hefting up the trapdoor. He jumped down first, and caught me as I jumped.
We ran through the tunnel as fast as we could, Lou filling our ears with mindless chatter. He was nervous.
“Okay, there’s a hunk of meat outside the exit... nope, he’s leaving, and gone off to do something. Oh, he’s just pacing. Nice. Just pace, that’s fine.”
“Albus?” James asked, cutting through the babble.
“Hunky dory. Sitting tight, like you said he would. He just moved his foot. WAIT! NO! WHAT DID YOU MOVE YOUR FUCKING FOOT FOR, YOU NOOB?”
“Lou?” My voice was panicked.
His voice went up an octave. “WHAT HAVE YOU TWO STOPPED FOR? FUCKING RUN!”
We fucking ran.
Albus was duelling with three ‘hunks of meat’ in the Charms corridor, and the beams of light from the wands made the corridor light up like a thunderstorm.
I pulled my hood up, and gestured for James to do the same. When your face is famous, you do not want to be caught.
I shot one of Albus’ attackers in the back with a Stunner and he fell with a quiet ‘oof’. Fighting in places you really shouldn’t be? Fight and die quietly. It’s an unspoken rule.
Al shot a Stunner at me, but I managed to dodge it, and flick him the Vs. Quiet protest. I’ll hit him later. The next spell sent a Fraternity guy smashing backwards against a tapestry and James took out the third, then running straight to Albus. I hung back, checking the way we had come for pursuers.
“Nice job,” said Louis. “Now get out before I puke from nerves.”
“What the-” I said, before I was jumped. And the baby whale flattened me. I heard something crack, and pain blossomed in my chest.
“Weasley...” the guy said, his mouth open. Shit. My hood had come off.
I was pinned underneath him, helpless as this tiny bit of saliva dripped down his chin, and his breath stank of onions. He drew his wand, and-
You know a cymbal? Magnify that by about a million, and add in a stampede of elephants, a nuclear bomb and rocket ship taking off. That was how loud the sound of James and Albus’ combined spells to get the guy off me was.
The only good part was that I was drool-free.
“Obliviate,” I said, watching the man’s half-open eyes glaze over, and concentrating on the memory of my face. Once, I got it wrong and erased all knowledge of the Weasleys. I quickly put my hood back up before he re-focused.
“You alright?” said James, as I pulled my hood back up before his eyes refocused.
“Think I’ve bust a rib.” I prodded my chest. I gasped with pain, which in turn hurt as well. “Yeah, I’ve bust a rib.”
“Can you run?” Albus asked.
In my ear, Louis said “Just act normally. James should have some painkillers, and I’ll fix you up when you get out. It’s not a complicated break, but the spell is insane.”
We ran off down the corridor after I had taken a foul-smelling shot of what looked like Calpol- I was bringing up the rear. We made no attempt to be quiet now, but speed was of the essence.
“I take it the plan is off then?” Albus said, his voice measured despite our sprint. He’s supersupersuper fit.
“Dom made an executive decision,” James puffed. Less fit.
I was not talking, because I had a fire in my chest and it fucking hurt. The Calpol was not helping.
I glanced over my shoulder, and saw a blonde skinny guy come around the corner. He ducked back just as I saw him.
They paused as I jogged back, my wand out. There was no-one there. A yell sounded from the way we had come- someone had found the Fraternity, and wandlight bobbed at the other end of the corridor.
I sprinted past the two lads.
“COME THE FUCK ON, BRIDGET!” I yelled.
It hurt, but it was worth it.
But you know what? That blonde guy was too skinny to be a usual member of the Fraternity, and there were no blonde guys anyway, last report said. And he looked so familiar.
If I didn’t know better, I would have said it was Lysander.
-Rose: the Penthouse, London
Saturday 16th October
My ribs were killing. I lay on the floor, trying to relax and breathe normally, but it really hurt and I just ended up taking quick, shallow breaths.
Louis kicked my foot. “Breathe normally!”
He leant over and prodded my ribs, in a semi-professional manner. I scrunched my face up in the pain.
Albus was stirring a mug of tea, leaning against the kitchen worktop. “You big wuss,” h said, taking a swig and burning his mouth.
I stuck my tongue out vindictively. “Ha- OW!”
“Good news, or bad news,” Louis said, standing up and plucking his wand from his pocket.
“Bad news,” James said evilly.
WHY ARE THEY GANGING UP ON ME?!
“You’ve broken at least two ribs. Possibly cracked a third. Just how big was this guy?”
Albus considered, his head tilted. “About the size of a double mattress.”
“What’s the good news?” I asked.
“I can halve the healing time. Unfortunately, no magic in the world is as good as time,” Louis said.
“How long is that?”
“About three weeks?”
“THREE WEEKS?” I yelled, outraged. “Ow, that hurt.”
“I’m going to take you home, do the spell, then you cannot move for about two hours, and then you’ll be off sick for three weeks. And I’ll leave you a list of things you can’t do.”
I scowled. This was all Albus’ fault. He saw me giving him a dirty look, and tried to smile apologetically. “We’ll all come and visit you,” he promised.
I huffed. “Ow.”
Note to self: next time ungrateful friend wants rescuing, someone else can do it.
Half an hour later, I was laid out on my bedroom floor, a straw out the corner of my mouth, drinking chocolate milkshake, reading Louis’ list.
1. No lifting heavy objects. Fine by me.
2. No lifting your arms above your head. That’s trickier.
3. No work. YAY!
4. Don’t breathe shallowly.
5. Stay drugged up.
6. Take deep breaths or your lungs will collapse, and you are not coming crying to me. He’s so sympathetic.
7. No Apparating
8. No cat-burgling. No fun, you mean.
9. No sex. I spat my milkshake all over the paper.
And then there was a knock at my door and I quickly shoved Louis’ stupid rules into my pocket.
“Come in!” I called.
Lorcan stuck his blonde head round the door. “Want some company?”
I smiled, a big genuine grin. “Pull up a pew. Since when did you start knocking?”
He lay down beside me, staring up at the ceiling. “Since you became an invalid. Albus said you cried like a big girl’s blouse.”
“Whatever,” I snorted. “He’s just trying to make up for the fact that we had to go and save his sorry butt.”
Lorcan laughed. “Bless, was he scared?”
“Nah, you know Albus. He knows no fear... he knows no danger...”
“He knows nothing,” finished Lorcan. “I already talked to Louis, and he said you can’t work, so...”
“So..... movie marathon. You, me and Rambo.”
“You, me and Titanic?” I asked hopefully.
YESSSSSS. “It’s a deal. You go get popcorn, and by the time you get back I’ll be able to get off the floor.”
He levered himself into a sitting position, and then stood up. His knee creaked loudly.
“Lorcan,” I said, just as he was going out the door.
“When everyone got back from Hogwarts, did you see Lysander?”
He paused, thinking. “I’m pretty sure I did. Why?”
“No reason,” I said with a smile. I picked up a shoe lurking under my bed and threw it at him. “POPCORN. GO!”
A/N: how's it going so far? Leave a review please! What do you think of all the suspicious acting? Another glimpse into the Ministry..... ooooh.
And if you lovely people aren't on the forums here, get on them. ITS SO FUN! The only thing is, it steals your soul. :D
Couple of credits: "Come the fuck on, Bridget!" is from Bridget's Jones' Diary: Miramax Films, "he knows no fear...etc" is from Jonny English: Working Title Films, Rambo: Lionsgate and Titanic: Twentieth Century Fox.
Chapter 4: tears, panicking and a pathetic -yet successful- dating plan
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-Rose: the Cabin
Saturday 16th October
Our flat has been nicknamed the Cabin due to the exorbitant amount of panelled wood the previous owners put in, and we’re too lazy to take out.
Anyway, we’re picking up after four Rambo films, and Lorcan had been true to his promise of watching Titanic. Hugo was at work, so we had the flat to ourselves, curled up on the sofa with popcorn and chocolate, weeping.
“WHAT THE FUCK?” Lorcan yelled at the telly, tears streaming down his cheeks. “THERE IS ENOUGH ROOM FOR JACK ON THAT RAFT TOO, BITCH!”
I passed him another tissue and mopped up my own tears. “Shut up, you’re ruining it,” I sobbed.
-Rose: the Cabin, about five minutes later
“EEEVRYNIGHT IN MYYY DREEAAMS, I SEEE YOUUU, I FEEEELS YOU!" Lorcan hiccupped, swaying on the sofa.
I joined in. “THAT IS HOW I KNOW YOUUU... GO ONNN.”
The doorbell rang. Lorcan waved a hand at me. “You get it. I’m emotionally drained.”
I struggled to my feet, flicking copious amounts of popcorn onto the floor, and they skittered away on the hardwood. Hugo was going to go apeshit when he came back.
As I left the room, Lorcan turned up the volume and resumed his screeching; “NEARRR, FAAARRR...”
I opened the door, and Lysander stood there, barely controlling his laughter. “You can hear Lorcan from half-way down the street,” he said, dodging past me. “How did you manage to get him to watch Titanic? He hates films that make him cry.”
“I spent about five blood-soaked hours watching John Rambo rip out people’s throats,” I said, rolling my eyes.
“You were named after the Titanic Rose, you know,” he continued. “Something about a more than a teaspoon and your dad.”
I cringed. “That sounds so dodgy.” I followed Lysander into the kitchen. He sighed at the bowls and food strewn around. “Fancy helping to clean up?” I asked.
“I actually can’t stay,” he said, “I’ve got to... got to go see a man about a dog. I just dropped round to give Lorcan his phone- he left it at home and it won’t stop ringing. It’s an unidentified number and I can’t for the life of me unlock it.”
He passed it to me, and I jammed it in my pocket just as it started vibrating again.
Lorcan’s voice reached a crescendo: “YOUUUU’RE HEREEE, THERE’S NUTHIN’ I FEAR.”
Lysander smiled at it. “Have you noticed anything odd, about Lorcan recently?”
“Apart from the fact he knows all the words to Celine Dion, no... why?”
“It’s just that...” Lysander lowered his voice, even though Lorcan was belting it out and wouldn’t be able to hear anything said, “I think Lorcan might like you.”
He raised his eyebrows, and then said, “I won’t disturb him. See you!”
I grabbed his arm. “You do not say something like that and then LEAVE.”
“It’s probably nothing,” he said. “Just me being stupid, but you know he refuses to date girls who don’t like you. And he spends all his time hanging around with you. And he’s offered to take your shifts at the Leaky until you’re better. And he’s watching girly-shit with you. And he won’t stop talking about you. And your birthday present from him is already wrapped. And-”
“Whoa...” I said, holding up my hands. “What’s my birthday present?”
“And he’s bought that ridiculously early- when is your birthday again?”
“Three weeks! That’s not early, that’s thoughtful.”
He grabbed my shoulders. “Have you met Lorcan? He. Is. Not. Thoughtful. I got toothpaste for our last birthday. And how is it even possible to forget your TWINS birthday?”
I was speechless, because you know... Lysander might actually be right.
“When I’m abroad, we talk nearly every day, or Floo or something, and he’ll always start with ‘Rose and I did this’, or ‘Rose was so funny the other day’, or ‘I’m taking Rose out for dinner tomorrow’...”
This was sounding more and more familiar.
“All I’m saying Rose, is keep your distance or you’ll end up breaking his heart.” Lysander kissed me goodbye on the cheek, and Apparated with a crack.
I went into the living room, where Lorcan was huddled with a cushion, crying at the credits. “Rosie, he died!”
I tossed him Inception and his phone. “Watch this, it’s the sequel, and that was Lysander- you’ve had some phone calls.”
He typed in his password, and dialled voicemail, and I dug my phone out of the recesses of the sofa.
“I’ve just got to make some calls,” I told him, and ran into my bedroom, locking the door. I called Molly first. Please pick up...
“Hey, it’s Molly! Sorry, I’m otherwise engaged at the mo, so leave a message and I’ll get back to you!”
“MOLLY! It’s Rose, dammit, you had better get back to me; I seriously need you.”
Okay, try again. “Sorry, but Lily is unavailable. She is so awesome, so she has no time to answer her phone to dumbasses like you. However, if you leave a message, she’ll probably take time out of her extremely busy schedule to call you back.”
“Lily, change your message. It’s Rose. Call back. IT’S URGENT!”
Third time lucky? “Helloo! This is Lucy, and I’m not around at the moment! Sorry! Leave a message?”
“PLEEEAASE CALL BACK. It’s Rose. And you are needed.”
Four. “GUESS WHAT? I’M PREGNANT! Leave a message!”
“Congrats Vic! NOW ANSWER YOUR PHONE. Love you, Rose.”
I felt like banging my head against a wall. This is not fair. I’ve called all my sane female relatives. “It’s Dom, leave a message.”
“WHY DON’T ANY OF YOU HAVE YOUR PHONE’S ON?! CALL ME BACK, BITCH!”
Lorcan banged on the door and I jumped out of my skin. “Are you alright in there?”
“Yeah, I’ll be out in a minute! Start the film without me!”
Okay. Last chance: Roxanne.
Please don’t pick up...
“Rose, what do you want?”
-Rose: the Olive Garden.
Monday 18th October
I was in a restaurant. I wanted to be at home watching TV. But apparently no-one wears pyjamas on a first date, so I was out of luck. I was also very conscious of my ‘Things You Are Not Allowed To Do’ list from Louis.
I had a double-date/blind date merger thing with Roxanne and her boyfriend; Mick, and he was bringing someone for me. I have never felt so pathetic in all my life.
“Stop playing with your dress, it’s awesome,” Roxy said, annoyed.
Notice she wasn’t complimenting me, just my dress. Which I had borrowed from her.
“And this is a really good idea. What would you have done without me?”
Begged someone else to help, and they would have come up with a better idea than go on a date with someone else in order to show Lorcan I wasn’t interested.
“Mick and Richie should be here soon.”
“Richie. Your date.”
I panicked. “You said I was meeting Jonathan.”
“I just said that so you would come. Don’t worry, Richie is so much better than whats-his-name.”
I restrained myself from punching her in the face. I had actually met Jonathan, and he had been really nice, and sweet and good-looking, and he gave me his number and then I went sky-diving and lost it.
I didn’t want to meet Richie.
And then Mick and Richie turned up.
And oh my freaking God he was gorgeous.
An hour later, Richie and I were having a ball. Him and Mick were both Muggles, but it didn’t matter as much as I had spent enough time up-top to know about Muggle-stuff. He played for a local football team, had just finished explaining the rules to me, and invited me to go see the game on Saturday.
Roxy wasn’t doing much talking, to say the least. Or eating, unless you counted Mick’s face.
“So, what do you do for a living?”
“I work at a bar...” I said, realising how pathetic that sounded. He was a journalist. On important political stuff.
I grimaced, and he smiled awkwardly back. “I hate how people seem to forget waitresses are actually people,” he said, after a moment’s pause. “They’ve got lives outside of work, and it doesn’t not revolve around serving drinks.”
Oh Merlin. My hero...
“Like that guy there,” he said, pointing. I followed his finger-
-and saw Lorcan pushing his way through the restaurant, knocking over tables and a waitress with her tray.
“What the hell are you doing here?” I snapped at him as soon as he got within shouting distance.
“What the hell are you doing here?” he retorted, pulling up a chair. “Hey, Mick, Roxy.”
They didn’t acknowledge him, and Lorcan ignored Richie.
“This is Richie,” I said pointedly.
Richie held out a hand for Lorcan to shake, and he ignored that too.
“Why don’t you have your phone on?” he asked me instead.
I narrowed my eyes. “I’m on a date.”
“I’m off sick.”
“We need you to go scuba-diving.”
“Are you out of your mind? I have broken ribs. I could barely get into this dress!” I said, gesturing at the constricting monstrosity I was wearing. “Get someone else to do it.”
“No-one else is as good as you are!”
“No. I am on a date. I am having a great time. I am not going to ruin this by getting pneumonia.”
Beside me, Richie smiled smugly.
“A word? Outside?” Lorcan said through gritted teeth. I glared at him.
“I’ll be right back,” I told Richie.
I followed him outside, and then he grabbed my arm.
“YOU UTTER BASTARD!” I yelled as soon as we landed in a huge warehouse. The floor in the middle had broken through to the Thames and everyone was crowded around it, sitting in deckchairs, sipping tea and surrounded by huge floodlights.
“Get over it,” Lily said, chucking me a dry-suit. “You are the only one who can pick a lock underwater.”
Louis grabbed a bucket of water and chucked it over Lorcan, who yelled in surprise. “I said no Apparating! If Red gets a chest infection then it’ll be all your fault, and you’ll be doing the scuba-diving.”
I shivered in my dress. “Please can Lorcan do the scuba-diving anyway?”
-Rose: the Cabin, the next morning.
Tuesday 19th October
“Rose...” I heard someone say in a singsong voice. “Wake up!”
They shook my shoulder slightly. “Rose?”
“Rose, it’s Richie.”
I sat up and collided my forehead with his nose. “Shit! OW! Crap! HOW DID YOU GET IN MY CABIN?!”
“OW! Hell! CRAP! Your Cabin?”
“Yes,” I said, rubbing my forehead. “Cabin. All the wood everywhere.”
He looked around. “There is a lot of wood around.”
Oh, crap. Morning breath.
“Just hang on a second!” I said, trying to cover my mouth with my hand, and dashed into the bathroom.
I had an en-suite. ARE YOU JEALOUS?
You should be. But it’s still covered in wood.
I squished a whole pile of toothpaste onto my brush. “So how did you get into my Cabin?”
“Some guy let me in, and then went off to work?”
“Hugo,” I called, a bit of toothpaste dribbling down my chin. “My little brother.”
“That’s okay then,” he said. “He’s an architect? We were talking over coffee. He seems nice.”
I emerged from the bathroom. “It depends when you talk to him. If it’s past eight o’clock at night, he gets really cranky.”
He had made my bed. And was touching my wand. “Why have you got a stick?”
“It’s lucky,” I said, snatching it back and pulling on a cardigan. I jammed my wand into my pocket.
“After you disappeared last night-”
“Kidnapped, actually,” I corrected.
“After you were kidnapped last night, I managed to unglue your cousin from Mick so I could get your address off her. How was scuba-diving?”
“Very very cold.” I became aware that I stank of eau-de-Thames. Ew. “And unwelcome,” I added. “I didn’t want to go.”
“Are we still up for Saturday then?” he asked.
What? What was happening on Saturday? It is too early for plans. It must be about half seven or something.
“You said you wanted to come see my football team?” he said hopefully, noticing my blank expression.
“Yes! Yes, I did. I’d love to see you play football on Saturday.”
He grinned. “Great!”
Guess who just got a second date with someone cuter than a kitten? MISS ROSE WEASLEY. I will not speak ill of Roxanne until at least Saturday.
“So, do you want to do anything today?” Richie asked. “Seeing as I’m here? Cinema?”
Scratch that. THREE DATES. I’m on fire!
I smiled. “I’d love to.”
“By the way, your phone has been going off, for almost as long as I’ve been trying to wake you up.” he said, chucking it to me. “i.e. a very long time.”
I opened the text. Conference. 9am. -Dom.
I checked my watch. It wasn’t half seven. It was half eleven. Crap. I was dead.
“Bugger. I can’t... I’d love to, but I’ve really got to go...” I said, pulling on some shoes.
Richie didn’t move. “You really have to?”
“Yeah... work... family... crisis... planning...” I muttered, pulling on a trench coat over my cardigan.
“Work and family?”
“They’re surprisingly interchangeable and extremely tangled,” I said, grabbing my purse and shoving it into my spacious pockets with my phone.
“Are you going out in pyjamas?” he asked.
I rolled my eyes, and messily tied my hair up. “Unless I’m working, I live in pyjamas. And even then I managed to get a ‘Wear Your Pyjamas Day’ at work.”
“Sexy,” he said, and kissed my cheek. “I’ll see you on Saturday then?”
“Yup, see you then!” I hurriedly shut the door in his face, and Apparated. Screw Louis’ list, I was two and a half hours late.
A/N: not much really happening, apart from Lorcan's love and Rose's date! The significance of the scuba-diving will be explained later, and what do you think of Richie? Like him? Hate him? Please review, and tell me your theories on the caller. :D
Copyright: 'Titanic' to 20th Century Fox and 'Inception' to Warner Bros Studios, also the lyrics of 'My Heart Will Go On' to Celine Dion :)
Chapter 5: innuendo, ballfoot and the collapse of a plan
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-Rose: the Penthouse, London.
Tuesday 19th October
I Apparated into a quiet corner of the lobby of the apartment block, and caught the lift up. Louis would never know! But I had to cut it out- my ribs felt like they’d been replaced with red-hot pokers.
I was in the middle of a massive, pain-filled coughing fit by the time the lift finished, and practically had to crawl into the apartment.
Everyone was sat around, waiting, and did a round of applause when I stumbled in.
“Blame him,” I said, kicking Hugo’s house of cards over. “He didn’t wake me up, and instead just left without me.”
“What was I supposed to do? Drag you out while you’re sleeping? You can’t Apparate and there was that bloke...” he trailed off suggestively.
“How long have you been up, Red?” Lucy carried on, “You’re not even dressed yet!”
I laughed along with them then threw my shoe at her.
Louis frowned. “I told you no-”
I threw my other shoe at him. “I didn’t sleep with him! I met the guy last night! Jeez, gang!”
I attempted to retain a professional air, but Dom stalked forwards, and threw herself dramatically onto a chair. “Now everyone is here,” she said, throwing me a look that would kill a lesser being. “I expect you’re wondering what last night was about.”
I resisted the urge to make a smart aleck remark- I was already in their bad books.
“The gargoyle we tried to get from Hogwarts was admitted into Gringotts yesterday morning,” she continued.
Lysander held up his hand, and Dom shot him a withering look. “What?”
“Have you lost your fucking mind?”
“Funnily enough, I seem to be in full control of my mental state, which is more than I could say for you,” Dom snapped.
Even across the room, I could smell Lysander’s perfume of stale booze.
“I’ll take over,” Lily said hurriedly, standing up. “Once upon a time, when Gringotts was purely for goblin use and goblin rebellions raged up and down Britain...”
I sank backwards into a chair. Lily was a fantastic storyteller- she could scare even Uncle Harry shitless on Halloween, and he’d killed Voldemort, faced off Dementors and half-successfully broken into Gringotts himself.
I don’t count blasting out of there on a dragon successful, just FYI. It rather draws attention to the fact you just broke into Gringotts.
Lily cleared her throat. “The goblins feared that the wizards would try to invade Gringotts, so as well as them employing the first curse-breakers and developing some of the more intricate and complicated early warding spells, they also built an escape route- they couldn’t guarantee their treasures safety against a full-scale wizard attack.”
She paused, checking we were all enthralled. We were- even Dom, and her middle name was ‘uninterested’.
“This escape route was a tunnel stretching through the middle of Gringotts, winding its way through the vaults and providing an easy getaway. But it was never needed- the wizards were too wary to mount an attack, and the goblins with their gold remained secure.
“The existence of this tunnel had remained a secret, forgotten and lost, until approximately 4am yesterday morning, when I found it on a 13th century schematic of Gringotts.
“I managed to locate the actual tunnel yesterday lunch time, pretending I doing a scheduled report of the area of vaults- now this tunnel is long, treacherous and dangerous, and I have no idea where it finishes. However, at one point, it runs directly underneath the vault of one Madeline Hemstitch. About three feet of solid stone in between us and inside.
“The passage now is flooded as well- the stupid Muggles drilled a borehole straight through it- and they also blocked off the outside end- which is the gate Rose unlocked last night.”
She paused. “Any questions?”
Lily took a bow, laughing as we burst into raucous applause.
We might actually have a shot at this, I thought, and I could see my glee reflected on everyone else’s faces.
“The plan is to blow a hole in the ceiling of the tunnel, therefore creating a hole in the floor of the vault,” Hugo said, waving us silent. “The only problem is the only thing this does is gets us past the security on the main floor and into the vault complex themselves. The vault we actually need to get into is a little way away.”
A ‘little way’ in Hugo-speak does not mean the same as when you or I say it.
Louis took the floor. “Now, I absolutely forbid Rose taking a main part in this- although we kind of do need her. Therefore, she’s basically in charge. She needs to pick and train someone to do her job, and she’ll be on coms the entire way, directing the whole team. We’re breaking and entering, and she’s gone and picked the worst possible time to be ill.”
It was a glowing report of me until then. But I didn’t have to do anything!
“But we’re going to keep another dry suit handy in case we do need Red,” added Hugo.
The job was taking place on Saturday night- in three days’ time. I was hoping to be super super organised so I could plan it all out and still go to Richie’s ballfoot match. Or whatever.
I had never been involved in the planning before, and it was exciting. I’d picked Lucy to be my replacement, and I taught her the basics of lock-picking. She was about my size, and as a Ministry-gal, she already knew the layout of Gringotts. I spent that night and the night after breaking into different places with her, making sure she got the hang of every door, window and rooftop. She also did yoga and was pretty confident she would make an alright grease-man.
For the team on the inside I also sent in Lorcan, James and Lily. I usually did break-ins with Lorcan- he’d be great for Lucy, Lily was needed for the traps and James was confident he could work the goblin’s carts.
Freddy was blowing up the floor, but I was keeping him back in the first vault, and Molly and Louis were back-up’s back-up at the entrance to the passage.
Vic was sitting this one out with me, so she and Hugo were on coms, while Teddy was collecting intel on the goblins which worked there.
Albus was making sure that no Muggle police came near our warehouse and disregarding the suspicious sounds coming from Roxanne’s flat- she was producing a wet-start explosive with the same principle as Filibuster’s Fireworks, and Lysander was globe-trotting in order to acquire what she needed.
Behind all of this was Dom and me- I never appreciated how much work she did before, co-ordinating our half-formed plans and gelling them effortlessly together. Together we worked out timings, equipment, and although she kept disappearing to make mysterious phone calls and Floo’ing to obscure locations which I was far too busy to comment on- leaving me to try to sift through the mess, it worked out fine.
-? The Ministry of Magic
The phone rang yet again, and the man lazily ushered his assistant out. After the door was shut tight, he picked up the receiver.
“It’s sorted. Your move,” the familiar voice said quickly.
He replaced it back in its cradle and steepled his fingers. It was his move- and he was going to make it a violent one.
-Rose: Greenpark Football ground.
Saturday 23rd October
Richie and I pulled up to the playing field and got out. The rest of his team were already there, warming up in a Slytherin green kit, which I managed not to point out.
“What’s your position again?” I asked.
“Midfielder,” he said with a grin. It must be at least the third time I’d asked him. And I still have no idea what a midfielder does. I am truly my mother’s daughter when it comes to sports.
“OY!” a voice bellowed. “GET YOUR ARSE OVER HERE, RICHARD!”
“Sorry,” he said, squeezing my hand. “That’s my captain. I’ve got to go.”
“That’s Scorpius Malfoy,” I said, my mouth open. “Since when did he play ballfoot?”
“It’s football,” he corrected with a sigh. “You know him?” he said, looking surprised.
“He’s a friend of my cousins, and I went to school with him. I know him relatively well,” I said, still shocked. Scorpius Malfoy and Muggle sports?
“You have a lot of cousins...” Richie said wonderingly.
I rolled my eyes. “You have no idea.”
Scorpius ran over. “RICHARD,” he bellowed, “GET YOUR ARSE INTO GEAR- Rose?”
“Hello,” I said icily.
“Hey... erm, Richard, go... go do some warm-ups.”
Richie kissed me on the cheek and ran off. Scorpius shuffled his feet.
“You play football?” I said casually.
“Don’t tell my dad. You watch football?” he said, equally suave.
“Evidently...” Ah, I’ll just come clean. “No. I’m just here for Richie.”
“Rose,” he began, jamming his hands into his pockets. He carefully looked around. “Listen, I heard about the Hogwarts disaster,” he said, abandoning all attempt at small talk.
“I’m not surprised, seeing as it was you who got the Fraternity in, as revenge,” I said, staring him down.
“Well, Albus said he very nearly got killed, so don’t you think I would have tipped off my best mate?” he snarled.
I merely shrugged.
“When Albus told me, I already knew. A memo was left on my desk at the Ministry.” He paused, and I noticed a sheen of sweat on his brow. “Red, someone is onto you.” He began to talk quickly. “There’s no reason for someone to tell me about it- I don’t even work in the Auror or Crime Departments. I’m a pen-pusher for Sports. But this was addressed to me. Personally. Someone is onto you- onto us.”
I snorted. “You’re just paranoid.”
“I’m not. Tell Albus this, and no-one else. Not Hugo, or Dom. You don’t know who you can trust.”
“So why do you think you can trust me?” I asked. If Scorpius was right, he should really keep his suspicions to himself. Unless he is double-bluffing and trying to cover his tracks?
“You’re...” he hesitated. “You’re honest.”
He sounded sincere, but that was the stupidest thing he could say. “I’m a thief, Scorpius. I’m lying to Richie, I lie to my parents, I lie to my boss.”
“You know what I mean,” he said, shivering suddenly. “Enjoy the game. Oh, and if you want some advice- stay away from Richie.”
“You are not the first girl he’s brought to football, and you won’t be the last.”
“I met him four nights ago. I’m not going to marry the guy!” Images of me in a wedding dress, get the hell out of my head.
He held up his hands. “I’m just saying that if you want anything that will last longer than tomorrow morning, Richie is not the bloke for you.”
He jogged off backwards, eyebrows raised. Smarmy git. He could take that football-thing and shove it- my murderous thoughts were cut off by my phone ringing.
“Rose?” someone croaked.
“Bogeyman?” I answered, checking the caller ID. It was Lucy, being an arse.
“When was the last time you cooked something?”
Richie waved to me and I cheerily waved back. He pointed at Scorpius, who was walking shakily back, running his hand through his hair. What have you done to him? he mouthed, and I stuck my tongue out in return.
“Just answer the damn question,” Lucy coughed, and I heard her spit. Gross.
I struggled to remember. “Wednesday? No, Tuesday. I’ve been living out of a takeaway box, I haven’t had time to eat my greens. Why?”
I held the phone away from my ear as a heaving sound crackled down the line. “We’re ill.”
“We’ve been poisoned,” she groaned. “We’re all upchucking, it’s disgusting, I managed to get to the toilets to call you, you...”
A bout of retching cut off her no doubt colourful insults.
“Are you okay?” I asked worriedly.
“Dandy,” she half-snarled. “The Healers don’t think its life-threatening, but Louis got it too. Listen,” she croaked, “Get to our houses and ditch all the food. We don’t need anyone poking around our houses.”
“Where are you?” I asked.
“St. Mungo’s, they’re trying to cure us.” Lucy said. “Look, I’ve got to go.”
“As soon as I’m done, I’ll come over,” I said, attempting a sympathetic tone.
I glanced back at the pitch. They hadn’t started the game yet, and then I saw the reason. Scorpius was kneeling on the side-lines, his body racked with shudders.
I quickly relieved three confused guys of babysitting duty, telling them that I’d take him to hospital.
“There’s a lot of these bugs going around at the moment,” I called, steering an ashen-faced Scorpius away. Richie looked less than happy, and I wasn’t best pleased either. I hadn’t actually been able to have a good time with him without being spirited away.
“I feel like shit,” Scorpius groaned.
“You’ve been poisoned,” I said matter-of-factly.
He swore. “It wasn’t me who tipped off the Fraternity!”
“And it wasn’t us who poisoned you,” I said, rolling my eyes. “If we were going to have revenge, we’d steal your cat or something.”
“Bitch, don’t you dare steal my cat.”
I didn’t even know he had a cat.
“Promise you won’t vomit on me?”
“I’m going to Apparate to St. Mungo’s,” I said, leading him behind a bike shed, away from Muggle eyes.
Not one word about what goes on behind bike sheds.
He let go of my supporting arm as another bout of retching took over. “No promises,” he said weakly.
“This is why I wasn’t a Healer,” I said, earning myself a rare smile.
But he did look really pathetic and a bit like a lost Golden Retriever puppy. I’ve really thought that simile through. He has the right eyes; big and brown.
I turned on the spot, dragging him with me.
-Rose, St. Mungo’s
We apparated together straight into the foyer, and the Welcome Witch on the front desk took one look at the pair of us and passed me an inter-Apparition token. Apparating between wards in Mungo’s was impossible unless you had one of the special tokens; an invention of Professor Longbottom’s. Once he had become Headmaster of Hogwarts, he thought up a way to allow teachers to Apparate within the school boundaries, and since then it spread into most public buildings.
“They’re on the second floor,” she said, wincing at Scorpius’ pained expression. “Magical Bugs and Diseases.”
“Please hurry up,” Scorpius moaned.
I grasped the blue wooden star and his arm and Disapparated again.
The second floor staff were not happy that I added another to their already extensive list of patients. I helped Scorpius into a bed and found him a bucket, trying to ignore the death glares of everyone else.
Scorpius? they mentally screamed at me. Scorpius?
They looked terrible. We were seriously going to have to reconsider the plan for tonight. Dom looked awful, a witch with a round face was holding back her hair for her. Teddy was sat next to Vic’s bed, holding her hand as she coughed into a bowl, her other hand caressing her stomach.
“When will they be okay again?” I asked Healer Harrington, a tall, kind-faced wizard.
He grimaced. “We don’t know what has caused this yet, Miss, and therefore we can’t find a cure. All we can do is try to make them as comfortable as possible. Our usual techniques don’t seem to be working.”
With these sombre words, I left. A witch had come to look after Scorpius, so I walked along the corridor to the lift- the token was only good for one use.
-? St Mungo’s
The man had come to gloat. There was no way he would be recognised, and he had been gratified that nearly all the Clan had been incapacitated. At the very least, they would have to delay their Gringotts break-in. And all he needed was time.
And if a couple of them died along the way, then he wasn’t going to waste a tear. It would have been nice to see it through to the end with all of them, but maybe staggering their downfalls would make a larger impact? Increase the feeling of helplessness?
As he strolled along to the lift he took out his leather bound notebook and a pencil, writing in his new idea in his perfect calligraphy. He stepped inside and pressed the ground floor. The doors started to close.
“Sorry, can you just stop the lift?” a woman’s voice called out, and instinctively he pressed the ‘open doors’ button.
A breathless witch with curly red hair dashed in. “Thank you so much,” she said, hitting the ground floor button, and flashing him a smile.
“It’s Rose Weasley, isn’t it?” he said after a second, marvelling at how calm he sounded. “I work with your parents.”
“Yes,” the witch said, another smile leaping to her lips.
“They’re not ill, I trust?” he said, feigning concern.
“Not them, but my cousins and brother are,” she said, shrugging it off. “One of those bugs going around.”
The lift ground to a stop on the first floor, and a bald man with his arm in a sling got in, nodding at the pair and shuffling to one side.
“I’m sorry to hear that,” he said, his voice measured.
“They’ll be better soon.”
“Well, sometimes these bugs are more harmful than you think,” he said, raising his eyebrows.
The lift reached the ground floor and they both stepped out, the man with a sling barging past.
“Goodbye,” Rose said, as she turned to leave. “I’m sorry; I didn’t catch your name?”
“Abner Carrow,” he said, and tipped his hat. “Nice to meet you, Rose Weasley.”
A/N: be honest, did you expect that? Review please! I love you all.
EDIT: sorted out the mess which was the way to get into Gringotts. Thanks to CambAngst for pointing it out, and also to NaidatheRavenclaw and SamMalfoy93/TheHeirOfSlytherin for helping me hash out something half-decent... hope you like Lily's story! :D
Chapter 6: keys, the Fraternity and the uncovering of a plan
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Dad and Uncle Harry
-18 Cuckoo Road, London
Saturday 23rd October
I stood outside Lily’s tiny terrace, and looked helplessly at the metal mass I was supposed to find the right key in.
“Bugger it,” I muttered, and did a quick Muggle check. There was only an old street cleaner with his hood up against the freezing wind, so I muttered “Alohamora,” and quietly let myself in.
I started in the kitchen, Vanishing any food I came across, except for a packet of unopened Cheerios which I started to munch. Then I did her bedroom - which held a surprising amount of pasties and a message from her French boyfriend scrawled across the mirror in bright purple lipstick (very clichéd, Jean), and then... it was the turn of the living room.
I know I’m a slob, but I’m a clean slob. I leave clean clothes around the house. I can’t stand breakfasts in bed because I get crumbs everywhere. Plates and bowls are strewn across the kitchen, but at night I’ll clean them all. I might never put them away, but they’re hygienic.
Lily is disgustingly messy. Dirty messy. I had been cleaning as I worked through- her kitchen sparkled now, and the bedrooms and study had been hoovered, but this living room...
It was going to take forever.
Her curtains were half-shut, the midday sun casting an orange glow over the room. I tugged them back, and surveyed the mess in a better light. The sofa was a bombsite of blankets and pillows, her coffee table piled high with books and magazines. The floor- well, you couldn’t see it, and various bits of paperwork were scattered across any flat surface.
Actually, some of it was really interesting. I had read various trap descriptions for Gringotts, how to properly cook a lobster, numerous torn-out pages of Lockhart’s ‘Wanderings with Werewolves’ (for fire-lighting, no doubt) and the dust jackets of books with shopping lists scribbled on the inside. I soldiered on, cleaning away like the good little cleaner-upper I was, alternately saying ‘scourgify’ and ‘evanesco’,
Most of the parchment was charmed to be blank to a Muggle’s eyes. It was easy to tell which ones- they seemed to draw my attention, tugging my eyes away from boring lists of ‘Lily’s Top Ten Favourite Power Ballads’, but then lazily swam into focus. Lily’s boyfriend was Muggle (and French), fully aware of magic and wanted absolutely nothing to do with it.
And then, I came across a brown folder which I at once knew had stronger enchantments. And, in thick red ink across the front was written the words; ‘TOP SECRET’.
And that is just a synonym for ‘read me now, please Rose’.
So I scrutinised the front cover. Lily loved puzzles- there once was a time when she became obsessed with point-and-click-games on the internet- and there wouldn’t be a simple enchantment to open the folder. Eventually, I saw that there was a tiny, tiny black dot in the middle of the right hand side, so I carefully tapped it with my wand and enunciated clearly; “Engorgio”.
The dot grew into a lock. Oh, very clever, Lily. “Alohamora,” I said with a casual wave of my wand, and it blew up in my face.
“Shit.” The bang was incredibly loud, and I waited a second to see if anyone had heard.
Thankfully, the folder was unharmed, and the street undisturbed, although there was now a circular scorch mark around the folder, extending over the coffee table and onto the carpet. Ah well, Lily would never notice if I covered it with enough rubbish.
I needed a key. I thought for a second, my eyes closed. Lily’s house was a mess. There was no way in heaven, hell, earth or Middle-Earth that I was going to find it, so I pulled a hair-grip out of my tangled mane, and slowly inserted it into the lock.
I jiggled the tumblers, thoroughly impressed. Lily had created an entire Muggle lock- with four, no, five tumblers inside a sheaf of papers. She deserved a promotion. However, it was still no match for my good old trusty hair-slide.
The final tumbler clicked into place and I flipped the cover open. It was a folder on the Fraternity, detailing their activities over the past year and a half- it was a seriously thick folder. I skipped through to the most recent stuff- and found a piece detailing their plans to get into Hogwarts. It was dated the tenth of October and a tiny scrawl of writing was in the corner; ‘told Dom’.
My heart thumping, I went back to the start and started to read, scanning for any mention of us at all. It was highlighted in pink that the Fraternity was doing its best to recruit werewolves throughout the summer. Nineteenth of July; Scorpius was mentioned. Twentieth; they’d dealt with Class A Untradeable Goods- as purveyed by Roxy. And again on the twenty-fifth Scorpius was there, and all the way through August and September- his last mention was on the first of October.
I sat down on the sagging sofa, and forced myself to breathe normally. This wasn’t conclusive proof that Scorpius was our poisoner, in fact, it was fairly logical for him to be checking in with the Fraternity (although perhaps not that much)- he was our ears on the street. Roxy- well, that was more suspicious, but when you’re dealing with Untradeable stuff, I doubt she knows who she’s selling it to.
But if Scorpius was our ears on the street, why did Lily have anything on the Fraternity? Did she get it off Scorpius? Or Dom? Did Dom know everything?
What was disturbing was that Lily and Dom (and possibly Scorpius) all knew about the Fraternity’s attempt on Hogwarts, and didn’t tell us. Albus, James and I could have been killed. Was that why Scorpius left? He would rather leave us all than face the Fraternity? This ruled out that Scorpius had set the Fraternity on us as revenge, but opened up a completely new can of worms.
Either way, it looked like Scorpius was right- we did have a traitor in our midst.
I rubbed my face. This isn’t proof of anything, I told myself firmly. Nothing.
Then I heard the softest click as the front door shut.
“Homenum Revelio,” I heard a man whisper, and I threw up a non-verbal Shield Charm just in time. The spell flew past me like a soft breath of warm wind.
“There’s no one here,” the man said after a second.
I recognised his voice, I realised, and then an even more familiar voice said gruffly: “Let’s start looking then.”
It was Dad and Uncle Harry. Bloody hell, was it the Aurors on this now, or just family? I could deal with Aurors. I felt guilty if I attacked family.
I couldn’t Disapparate silently yet, although by Merlin I had been practising, so the only real options were diving out of a window or hiding, but my ribs screamed at even the thought of diving out the window- my only real option was hiding.
My hands were already covering up the burn marks as I thought, automatically covering the table and floor with paper and cushions, and smoothing out the creases in the sofa as I listened to Dad and Uncle Harry’s soft footsteps as they inspected Lily’s apartment.
They got closer, and so I managed to noiselessly slip into a cupboard just as they walked into the living room. I had managed to grab the folder as well. Last thing we wanted them to see was that we’d been monitoring the meanest crime unit in Britain. I sealed the cupboard door with a whispered “Colloportus”, wincing at the slight squelching sound it made, but Dad walked into the door frame of the living room at precisely the right moment, and the sound was covered up. Harry followed Dad into the room, slightly more gracefully.
“It’s very clean for Lily’s house,” said Dad uncertainly. “Are you sure this is where she lives?”
I pressed my eye to the gap between the doors. Dad had sat down on the newly-cleaned sofa. I had a few Galleons in my pocket from that, and he propped his lanky legs onto the coffee table, next to the scattering of magazines and a bowl.
“Of course I’m sure where my daughter lives,” Harry said, rolling his eyes. “Ginny and I came round the other day anyway,” he added. “Maybe she’s got a house-elf?”
I’m a house-elf.
“Are you kidding me? She’s a paid-up member of SPEW, and campaigned to get rid of the new dragon in Gringotts. She’s not got a house-elf,” Dad said.
“Someone’s been here,” Harry muttered, fingering the rim of the breakfast bowl on the table. “There are traces of magic today.”
“They must have left just before we came.”
“So someone cleaned out all her food- because they knew it was poisoned? Maybe we’ll have better luck in one of the other kid’s houses?”
Not likely, old man. I’m a mean, green, cleaning machine.
Harry sat heavily down next to Dad. “This can’t be just accidental magical food-poisoning,” Dad said.
“You think that we’re being targeted?”
Dad had his ‘knowing’ face on. It wasn’t a very common facial expression for him, but it was extremely obvious. He had his eyebrows raised and his nose scrunched up, and his mouth half-open- he couldn’t decide whether to say something or not.
He usually never managed to get it out before Mum said something. She either was completely oblivious to his knowing face or liked to ruin his fun.
Harry noticed the face. “Spit it out Ron,” he said.
Dad dug into his coat pocket. “I got this a few days ago, by Muggle post.”
He showed Harry a piece of A4 white paper, and I could make out typed words, but Harry angled it towards the light, obscuring my view.
There was silence as he read, and then he hit Ron. “Why didn’t you tell me about this earlier?”
“Come off it, we get more death threats than Voldemort did. How should I know that this one was different?” Dad said, but he sounded guilty.
“This threatens our kids, Ron! Not us!”
I barely breathed, I was so tense.
Harry adjusted his glasses as he read it again. “Jesus, they’re even threatening Luna’s kids and the Malfoy’s. What are we going to do?”
“I’ll tell you what we’re not going to do,” said Dad.
“We’re not going to tell Hermione, or Ginny, or my mother.”
Harry nodded. “Good plan.”
I un-tensed a tiny bit with relief. Thank Merlin. It was easy keeping this life from the all the guys. They thought they were so hardcore, being all Auror-ish while Aunty Ginny plays international Quidditch, Mum practically runs the Ministry, and Grandma Molly single-handedly runs our entire clan. It’s keeping it from them that we find hard.
“Why are they threatening the kids though?” Dad moaned, suddenly dropping his head into his hands. “What are they? Criminals?”
Oh Dad. I hated, hated lying to them. I hated it. I’d happily give this life up if it meant I never had to lie to them again, but with the rest of us younger ones, I’d always just be needed to unlock a door, or cover for them at home.
“We should just watch and wait,” Harry said, decisively. “Mungo’s don’t reckon that the kids’ conditions are serious.”
Then Lily’s fireplace burst into blue flames, and a scrap of parchment fluttered through. Harry and Dad both stood up to catch it, but Harry reached it first. Dad sent a pile of books, a mug and a board game flying.
“Mr Potter and Mr Weasley,” he read sombrely, “your immediate presence is urgently required in St. Mungo’s Hospital, with especial regards to Miss Victoire Weasley and Mr Theodore Lupin’s health. Yours, Healer Harrington.”
There was a beat of silence, and then they both grabbed a handful of Floo powder from the flowerpot, vanishing into the still blue flames.
A/N: dear Lord, what do you think is happening with Vic and Teddy? And all the paperwork in Lily's flat... oooooh ;)
I'm sorry it's been so long to update :( Don't hurt me, instead leave a lovely long review. Kill with kindness!
This chapter was mostly written for VioletBlade's Five Elements Challenge; living room scene. Credit to Tolkien for Middle-Earth.
Chapter 7: hospital, accusations and the Gringotts plan
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-Rose: St Mungo’s Hospital
Saturday 23rd October
I Apparated to the hospital as soon as I had taken the folder home and hidden it underneath my mattress. I’d spread the papers around so there wasn’t a noticeable bulge, and dry-swallowed a few painkillers to stop the aching in my ribs.
I took the empty lift up to the second floor, and James met me. “Did you clean out the food?” he asked in an urgent whisper.
“All done,” I told him. “Despite being interrupted by our dads.”
James rolled his eyes. “Nosey buggers.”
I decided against mentioning Lily’s folder- I remembered what Scorpius had said about not trusting anyone, but my stomach turned at the thought of one of my family betraying us. “What’s happened with Vic and Teddy?”
He paused. “It’s bad, Red.”
I pushed past him and into the hospital ward. The bed in the corner that Teddy occupied was surrounded by lime green screens and Vic’s was empty, the covers haphazard. Everyone else was sitting up, looking pale but nevertheless better.
I scanned the beds. Hugo looked fine- he was tucking into a McDonald’s Happy Meal, but Lorcan in the next bed looked nauseous at the fatty meat and limp fries. I saw Mum, and gave her a hug.
“What’s happening?” I asked in an undertone.
Her face was ashen. “Teddy’s worsened. They don’t know why,” she said in a whisper. “They’re doing all they can.”
My stomach clenched, and I thought I was going to be sick. “Where’s Vic?”
“With Teddy. She’s not as ill, but she’s in hysterics. The Healers are worried about the baby.”
Mum took a deep breath, calming herself. Her hair was coming out of its heavy braid, and I tucked a strand behind her ear for her. Dad came up, and embraced me.
“At least you’re not ill, Rosie,” he said, giving me a hug. “I don’t think the Healers could cope with one more.”
I excused myself when I saw Teddy’s grandmother coming over. I felt so guilty. I wasn’t even slightly ill and one of my best friends and closest family was seriously sick.
I saw Scorpius’ parents talking to Harry. Scorpius was throwing up still, set apart from everyone else, so I went over to him.
“How’re you holding up?” I asked, sitting on the end of his bed.
He spat into the bucket, and grimaced. “I’m fine,” he said shortly. “Richie texted me and asked you to call him.”
Crap. I’d forgotten all about Richie. Scorpius passed me his mobile from his bedside table, but I pocketed it. I’d call him later.
The ward was silent as we waited.
-Rose: St. Mungo’s
Sunday 24th October
I woke up, and panicked for a second, not knowing where I was. I sat up carefully. I was sleeping top to tail with Scorpius, and as I looked around the ward, I saw that our parents were mainly doing the same. Luna and Rolf shared one of the twin’s beds; Mum and Auntie Ginny were on borrowed mattresses on the floor, while Harry and Dad slept up against the wall, dark purple shadows under their eyes.
The light in the ward was pale and sickly, but as I squinted through the gloom, I saw Vic shuffling her way down in between the beds.
She was crying.
She passed me without registering that I was awake, and after I checked that no-one else was stirring, I carefully levered myself off the bed and followed her.
Vic walked into the toilets and as I entered, she was washing her face in the sinks, but as she splashed the water on her face, large, silent tears carried down rolling down her cheeks.
She saw me in the mirrors, and attempted a shaky smile. “Teddy’s okay,” she said, her voice choked with misery. “He’s going to be fine.”
I didn’t say anything.
“He’s going to be fine,” she repeated, as more tears fell. “Rosie... I’ve...”
I hugged her hard, wrapping my arms around her so tightly it must have hurt, but she grabbed me equally hard, her nails digging into my shoulders. She didn’t need to finish her sentence.
Her tears soaked into my ratty cardigan, and I gripped Vic even tighter. I didn’t need to say anything- and what could I have said? I’m sorry? They were just pathetic words that were used to often to mean anything anymore.
I was going to find the bastard who did this, and kill him.
A life for a life.
-Rose: the Penthouse
Wednesday 27th October
“You are not being serious.”
Dom looked at me incredulously, but I met her gaze calmly.
“Why wouldn’t I be?”
“Because, Rose, it may have escaped your notice, but the rest of us were just poisoned. We can’t pull this off.”
“I’ve got a plan.”
“Sweet Merlin, Rose! You plan one job, and now you think you’re invincible! We can’t do it. If this plan involves you walking in like Jason bloody Bourne and waltzing out with the gargoyle, then you’re insane. Life is not as easy as fiction.”
“Just listen to my plan.”
“Am I allowed to laugh?” she asked sardonically.
“On your own head,” I snapped.
I wanted to break into Gringotts. And what’s more, I think we needed to. Vic was still in hospital, blaming herself, and Teddy had gone back to work, refusing to see anyone. Louis was working overtime at the hospital, and everyone was doing what they could to find out what had happened.
Lorcan and Lysander were abroad, chasing up leads. Roxy was working on a sample of poison from our food, Molly and Lucy were researching at the Prophet and the Ministry, looking for similar cases and I’d told them about the threat Dad had received. Albus was testing out the Muggle links and thoroughly abusing resources...
I was a spare part. I felt like I couldn’t do anything to help- my skills were practical, not intellectual. I needed this, to make me feel like we were back on track.
Everyone needed this.
“It’s much the same as before,” I said, taking a deep breath. “Hugo and I worked this out. I’d only need me, James, Fred, Lily and... Scorpius.”
Dom stood up. “I’m leaving now. You’re an idiot.”
“I don’t think it was Scorpius who did this!” I shouted.
“You don’t think?” her voice, by contrast, was deadly quiet.
“Is that because you know who did?” Dom’s blue eyes bored into me, like twin chips of ice.
My heart skipped a beat.
Dom stood there, as bold as brass, accusing me.
I took a deep, shuddering breath. “Hear me out, Dom. We can do this.”
She passed a hand in front of her face. “I’m sorry. Take it from the top.”
The plan was simple, and hopefully effective.
“We’ll go in this Saturday,” I began. “The work shifts are the same as we planned, so we only have to worry about the one goblin between 5pm, when Gringotts shuts, until six, which is when they bring in the security troll. That’s our window.”
-Rose: Thames warehouse
Saturday 30th October
“Loud and clear, sis.”
Four pale faces half-grinned at me.
I felt exactly the same. That half-scared shitless and half-excited feeling, the adrenaline pumping through my body, my nerves on end and my mind racing.
My fingers tapped nervously against my dry suit leg. “Let’s go then.”
I strapped in my rucksack, and cast the Bubble Head Charm. Immediately, the world outside took on a pearly appearance, distorted by the oily surface of the bubble.
We were in the same warehouse that we had come to in order to pick the underwater lock, and the hole in the floorboard had been enlarged. All we had to do was follow the same underwater path I had taken, and go through the trapdoor into an underwater room directly below the vault.
Yes, I am aware that this sounds like a spy novel. It’s not. It’s criminal underworld.
Hugo sounded in my ear again. “When you’re ready, Rose.”
I tucked my wand into a side pocket of my rucksack, took a deep breath –out of habit rather than necessity- and jumped into the icy water. I immediately started swimming, registering the four splashes above me as the rest of them followed. I followed the string we’d laid down on the recce, and swam strongly, ignoring the protests of my ribs.
We were late. Freddy had swum ahead, and was placing the explosives in order to break through the vault floor, and if they didn’t go off at exactly five o’clock, then the explosion’s energy would be detected by the guard on duty.
Of course, it was highly logical that it still would be detected, but we were banking on the fact that the guards going off duty would be bored and not watching properly, and single goblin coming in would need a cup of tea/coffee/firewhisky to get him through his shift.
I sighed, not realising I had been holding my breath in anticipation, and glanced around. James looked unconcerned, but Lily was mentally counting seconds and Scorpius was chewing his lip nervously.
Freddy swam towards us quickly, his mouth stretched into a grin. “Done it!” he mouthed, and I relaxed in the water, glad that we weren’t late.
That relaxing probably saved my life, as we were suddenly all pushed backwards as the shock wave from the explosion sent waves through the water. I slammed into Scorpius, who had managed to grab hold of a rock sticking out of the roof, and I dimly saw Freddy crash into the floor, his mouth open in an O of pain, his bubble charm popped.
As soon as I had regained my senses, I grabbed Freddy’s arm, and helped him swim forwards. Scorpius grabbed his other arm, but I motioned for him to go back and check Lily and James. We broke the surface of the water, and I pulled Fred up into the shell-shocked vault, hardly pausing to glance around me.
I grabbed my wand and undid my own bubble enchantment with a wave.
“Are you alright?” I gasped, the fresh air tasting clean and new and so good.
We’d seriously underestimated the force of the explosion, and I could see a dark circle of blood blossoming from the back of Freddy’s head. I pulled off my dry suit, and cut off the arm with my wand, pressing it to the wound.
He looked at me groggily. “We can’t get blood everywhere,” I told him gently- but I felt like screaming at him.
“What’s wrong?” Dom said in my ear. “We’ve lost contact with Fred.”
“The explosion was too strong,” I said shortly. “Fred has hit his head and his bubble charm popped.”
“Dickhead,” scorned Hugo. He wouldn’t have said that if Freddy could hear.
I felt like agreeing, but Fred could hear me. Instead, I looked around me. The vault was large with a domed roof, and gleamed with a dull yellow light, as the gold piled high against the walls reflected the light cast by my wand tip.
Then Scorpius’ blonde head appeared, his wet hair plastered to his skull, followed by Lily and James, who looked fine.
“We just got pushed backwards,” James said, and started stripping off his dry suit. Lily and Scorpius followed suit.
We could move quicker without them on, although it would be uncomfortable to try to shove them back on while they were wet. Underneath we wore dark leggings and soft boots, with a long sleeved top. Lily and I had our hair screwed up into tight buns, out of the way- her eye make-up had run down her cheeks.
“Freddy can’t come with us,” James said in an undertone, pulling out his kit from his rucksack. “We’ll have to leave him here.”
I nodded. “I know.”
I turned to Scorpius. “Give me your earpiece.”
Our earpieces had been protected from the water by our bubble charms, but Freddy’s was now waterlogged and useless. I took Scorpius’ and passed it to Fred.
“Listen to us through this one, okay? If we tell you to get out, then get out. Try not to get blood everywhere, and please don’t hurt yourself more.”
Fred nodded. “Alright.”
I scanned the door. We needed to blow it open, but the piddly bit of explosive we had left would only work if we managed to stick it right on the locking mechanism. Which I had to find. Bear in mind, please, that this door is at least twelve foot across, and twenty feet high. But there are a lot of places which could hold the lock. Hell, the whole door could be the lock.
I carefully pressed my ear to the door. It was strange material, like metal and wood had been grown together. It was cold, and as I tapped it carefully, it gave off a hollow, slight booming sound. I moved around the door quickly- well aware for the need for speed as well as being as thorough as possible.
“There,” I said, pointing at the right hand bottom corner. The hollowness had been replaced by a quick thudding sound, and frankly, if I wasn’t right, then I would be quite happy to just leave. I was wet, cold, tired and I had stopped about three minutes ago to take some more painkillers. “Now, Freddy, do your funky stuff with this door.”
He swayed slightly as he stood, and then tottered over to the vault door, where I’d pointed. He spread this white, sticky substance over it- it looked like a cross between chewing gum and play-dough. It was a different type of explosive to our wet-start concoction- so it didn't get all set off at once.
He took a match, struck it, and grinned at us. “Stand back,” he said, as he retreated. We all ducked behind a pile of gold, and hunkered down. Because the last blast went so incredibly well. He threw the match at the door, and then with a tiny bang and a blindingly white flash of light, the door swung open.
“That was disappointing,” said James, as we emerged into the complex of Gringotts itself. He jerked a thumb back towards the vault, where Freddy had pillowed our dry suits and was looking contented, wisps of pearly smoke still lingering in the air.
Lily led us up along the cart tracks, where she had stored two carts especially for us. We hopped across the slippery wooden slats gingerly, but luckily no-one fell.
“Here,” she said unnecessarily, as we reached the dilapidated carts. The entire left side was missing, and its controls were rusted over. She saw our incredulous looks. “I swear it’s safe. No-one has died on it yet, anyway.”
“Yet?” Scorpius sounded less than happy as James clambered into the first cart, opening up his tool kit and balancing himself upside down, so his head was stuck underneath the controls.
Lily shot Scorpius a dirty look, and rolled her eyes at me. No-one was happy that Scorpius was here- in their minds, he was our traitor. The fact that we had a traitor was the elephant in the corner of the room- everyone knew it was someone, and there were half-veiled accusations and threats, but no-one talked about it openly.
It seemed like I was the only one who thought it wasn’t Scorpius- but they trusted me to get us through this, so they had let me bring him along. The success of this mission balanced on a knife edge.
Surprisingly, Lorcan was the most vehemently opposed to Scorpius’ inclusion. He had called me up from Rio, and hadn’t let me get a word in while he shouted. Mainly about how we can’t trust the “greasy slimeball son of a ferret”.
How Lorcan is Luna’s child, I will never know. She is one of the most laid-back people in the universe, but she has spawned the magical equivalent of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde.
James emerged from the bowels of the cart, covered in oil and grease. “All sorted,” he said. “Hop in.”
Lily clambered in front of James, Scorpius sat behind him, and then I wedged myself in behind him, holding his shoulders with my hands, which had turned into claw-like pincers.
I hate rollercoasters.
With a burning and slightly nauseous passion.
I held onto Scorpius as we hurtled through the halls- the empty cart behind us frequently bouncing high enough that I thought it would take us all to our doom. To Scorpius’ credit though, he didn’t say anything as I pinched his shoulders mercilessly. I was terrified.
We arrived outside the vault with a screeching of brakes and the carts trembling so much I thought they’d disintegrate. The door was short and fat and unassuming- three people could walk through it side-by-side easily. The Fraternity’s vault.
I got out of the cart shakily, my knees threatening to buckle. “Okay,” I said, rubbing my hands. “Remind me what we’ve got here, Lils.”
“The dragon is just around the corner, and there should be a unmanned patrol coming past on the carts in eight minutes, so we need to be inside the vault by then, or they’ll pick up on our presence,” Lily began, counting the hazards off on her fingers. “This door has all the basics; colloportus, goblin’s touch...”
I closed my eyes as she rattled off the list. I hadn’t actually got a plan. I was hoping for inspiration when I got here, but I was feeling less than inspired, and the occasional gusts of hot dragon breath were not helping my concentration.
James went to get off the cart, but it grumbled in protest. “Sorry guys, I’m going to have to stay with the cart,” he said. “The old girl has nearly worked out I’m not a goblin.”
“It’s not a person,” Hugo said in my ear, eavesdropping. “Any ideas, Red?”
And then, suddenly, I had it.
I grabbed Scorpius’ hand, and told Lily to wait with James.
“I’d rather have you on this side,” I told her, and then I stroked my index finger down the goblin’s groove- the indent down the middle of the door which unlocked it.
Faster than I could blink, Scorpius and I were sucked through the door, and spat out on the other side like undigested meat.
We were in.
Getting out though, now that might pose a problem.
A/N: reviews are always appreciated :D
And credit for Jason Bourne to Robert Ludlum. Great films, but I've never plucked up the courage to read the books :)
Chapter 8: success, arrests, and someone else's plan
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VIII) success, arrests, and someone else's plan
-Rose: The Fraternity’s vault, Gringotts
Saturday 30th October, 5.23pm
“You are an absolute idiot,” Scorpius said, fairly calmly, considering I’d locked us both inside a vault.
“I think that’s relative,” I said. “Lumos!”
The light from wand-tip showed piles of gold and various Muggle weapons- but the vault stretched back into darkness. I prodded a gun with my toe. It looked menacing, even as it lay still.
“I’ll find the gargoyle,” Scorpius said, lighting his own wand. “You figure out a way of getting us out.”
I tapped my earpiece. “Hugo? Dom? Lily? James?”
There was no response. I was on my own. Well, with Scorpius. I heard a crash and some swearing. Well, I might as well be on my own.
“Lumos Maxima,” I said, my voice hushed in the quiet of the vault. The ball of bluish light hovered over my head, clearly illuminating the vault door for me.
“There’s always a way out,” I said softly.
And I was right. I’m always right, for one, but getting in was always harder than getting out. But at the moment, blasting out on the dragon seemed like an attractive option.
We’d have to go back for Freddy though- and Lily would complain about abuse.
I shook my head, clearing it of mad thoughts. We can’t escape on the dragon.
I was a thief, and this was a vault of stolen things. “C’mon,” I said to myself. “Think about this logically. Your mother is Hermione frigging Granger. You are the Thief Queen of Logic.”
I waited for an epiphany.
“How the hell did the Fraternity manage to get an eight-foot gargoyle in here without the goblins noticing? It weighs a bloody ton,” Scorpius said, puffing with the weight. He was pushing the stone in front of him, and it ground against the floor loudly.
“I don’t know. Levitate it,” I said shortly.
“Can’t use spells on it, can we? How are we getting out?” he said, collapsing.
“I don’t know.”
“Do you always think things through this much?”
I held up a finger to quiet him. “Just gimme a second...”
How did the Fraternity get an eight-foot gargoyle in here without anyone noticing? With no spells?
“Lumos Maxima,” I said, sending another ball of light to hover above us. “Scor- you’re a bloody genius. Look for a key.”
“I know, I know. Wait- what? Why?”
“Because the Fraternity must be able to get in and out somehow,” I said, scanning the door. I checked my watch. We had five minutes before the unmanned sweeper patrol found Lily and James.
“You honestly think that the Fraternity are stupid enough to have a key to get out?”
I tapped the door, my ear pressed against the wood. “No, I think they’re clever enough to have a key. They can’t move stolen goods in and out of Gringotts under the noses of the goblins, can they? They need their own way.”
Scorpius sighed, sounding annoyed. “Perfectly logical. Well, seeing as we’ve strayed into la-la cuckoo-land, then I suppose this will work- accio key!”
He held his hand out and put his other on his hip, looking a bit like a pissed off Dom.
I shot him a disparaging look. “Don’t be ridiculous-”
A key landed in his outstretched hand. We both gawped at it.
“No bloody way.”
“GET THE GARGOYLE IN THE CART BEFORE THAT PATROL GETS THE WHOLE OF GRINGOTTS ONTO US!”
The unmanned patrol was a box on wheels with an aerial, and was currently whizzing off down the cart tracks, beeping angrily in search for authority. We were busted.
“Jesus, Lils, there’s no need to shout,” James moaned. “I think you burst my eardrums.”
If there is one thing I despise about James, it’s his inability to be serious. Personally, I shout in high-stress situations- like Lily, Dom, Vic, Molly, Roxy, Lucy, Aunty Ginny, Mum, Grandma... like all of my female relatives.
“SCORPIUS MALFOY HELP ME WITH THIS FUCKING GARGOYLE YOU PRICK!”
Scorpius rolled his eyes at James, and I kicked him. “C’mon!”
We clambered off the cart, pulling the gargoyle with us. James waited until the last possible second before jumping off as well, and as soon as he did so, a tiny red light began to flash, and a tinny klaxon sounded.
“She’s figured out I’m not a goblin,” James said sadly, watching the cart as it slowly trundled off, the siren still wailing.
“You’ll get over it,” Scorpius said, dragging James inside the vault. Freddy staggered to his feet, waving at a body on the floor.
“I had to stun him!” gasped Freddy. “He saw me, but I don’t know how to wipe memories...”
“Obliviate,” I said, pointing my wand at the prone goblin form. Poor bloke.
Scorpius and James were bagging up the gargoyle, and attaching buoyancy aids to it. Hopefully, it would stay dry and we would be able to easily drag it back through the tunnels.
I piled our dry suits, rubbish and backpacks up where Freddy had sat. “Not enough time to change,” I panted. “We need to get out fast.”
“Incendio,” Lily said, pointing her wand at the pile- Molly reckons that the Ministry is going to invest in a DNA program, and we really don’t need the hassle.
James jumped in. “Crap. Cold. Very cold.”
“Man up,” Scorpius said witheringly, and lowered the gargoyle down to him, where it then bobbed in the water like a large, ugly, stone duck.
James passed a rope around it, and ducked under, his Bubble-Head Charm rippling as it touched the water.
Scorpius jumped in, his mouth forming an O as he hit the water. “Holy shit, that is really cold.”
“Man up,” Lily told him happily. She was so going to gloat with James later. She cast a warming charm over herself and jumped in, swimming down the tunnel powerfully.
I checked around, one last time, and a movement caught my eye. A man stood in the vault entrance, gawping.
I Stunned him, then and ran over, Modifying his memory as quickly as I could. I checked his pulse- it was fine. He’d be okay. Probably.
“Spirant,” I said, and the bubble grew over my head. I jumped in, shivering at the cold blast of water, and swam away.
The Sunday Prophet- 31th October.
BRUTAL BANK BURGLARY- by Molly Weasley
Two vaults were broken into and two security personnel killed in a lethal attack on Gringotts last night made by ruthless killers.
Last night, a group of highly dangerous and armed criminals broke into two as yet unnamed vaults at Gringotts, killing two goblins and severely injuring another. A wizard was also incapacitated in this bloody and vicious attack. The victims were reported to be in St. Mungo’s early this morning, awaiting Auror questioning.
It appears the thieves managed to tunnel their way into Gringotts using highly advanced Muggle technology called ‘drills’, and from there broke into another vault. It is unknown how the thieves managed to evade the many enchantments and protective charms surrounding the vaults, but Senior Auror Ernest Macmillan ruled out insider knowledge- “the Ministry cannot comment too extensively at this time, but it is not believed that the thieves were intimate with the workings of Gringotts- they had a ‘lucky break’. However, finding the culprits responsible and bringing them to justice is the top priority at the Auror Office- as well as recovering stolen items”.
The thieves’ gold booty has been estimated to top fifty-four thousand Galleons, and the public is being warned to stay vigilant.
-Rose: The Leaky Cauldron
Monday 1st November, 3.58pm
I folded up the paper and grinned, throwing it down on the counter.
“How much do you reckon is true?” Hannah asked, stacking new bottles behind the counter, a checked tea-towel over her shoulder and her cheeks glowing in the nearby fire’s heat.
“It’s one of Molls’....” I said, pretending to weigh it up. “Probably about fifty-fifty?”
Hannah laughed. “That much? I swear the reporters get paid on how much bullshit they write.”
“Fantasy is a popular genre these days,” I said, swinging up to sit on the counter. Hannah hit me with the towel but didn’t make me get down. I mean, it was a Monday, and about four o’clock. Nothing was happening, and the pub was dead. Hannah disappeared into the back- Monday was paperwork day- so I slid down from the counter and started to polish glasses. It made me look industrious.
“...an’ wiv’ the break in at Gringotts,” I heard someone moan from the other end of the bar. I glanced over.
Pansy was attempting to serve him Firewhisky but the strangely familiar bloke was magically enlarging the glass she was pouring it into. And I could tell from the way that she was screwing up her nose she was seriously struggling with how many measures she was pouring in, and trying to calculate the cost.
The guy looked awful, but I wasn’t surprised- it was Pansy serving him. She used to go to Hogwarts with my parents, insisted I called her Miss Parkinson, and since Hannah hired her –she is far too nice-the Malfoy’s won’t step in the pub and more money has gone missing from the till than I think Pansy can count to.
I popped up by her shoulder. “Isn’t it time you took a break, Pansy?” I said, stressing her Christian name with relish. Technically, I was her senior.
She scowled, and even though both she and I knew she’d just come off a break, she passed the bottle of Firewhisky to me and scuttled off into the back. I stuck my tongue out at her retreating back.
“So ‘ow much do I owe?” the guy asked, looking confused and slurring his words. I realised where I’d seen him before.
I smiled winningly. “It’s on the house mate! You look like you need cheering up. Tell me of your woes.”
He pointed a grimy finger at me. “Why iz it that bar folk always listen?”
“Because people have such interesting stories,” I said, leaning forwards. “Go on, spill.”
-Rose: the Penthouse.
Monday 1st November, 11.45pm
I called everyone for an emergency meeting as soon as I got home- thankfully, we shut early on Mondays, because Hannah got fed up- and with the exception of Vic and Lorcan, they all turned up. We crowded around the Pensive as I drew out the thin silvery memory from my temple, and dropped it in the still water. The scene materialised around us, ink-like spurts of colouring our surroundings, and I pointed out what we were watching-
“Because people have such interesting stories,” I said, leaning across the bar. “Go on, spill.”
Hugo hit my arm. “Please do not use your cleavage to obtain information.”
“A girl has to use her natural assets,” chipped in Molly, but Dom hushed her.
“Just listen to Rose’s memory.”
...that sounds so weird.
The guy sniffed, and held out his hand for me to shake. “Gerald,” he said, “formerly of Gringotts.”
I smiled. “Rose,” I said, taking his frankly disgusting hand. “Currently of the Leaky.” I paused. “Why formerly?”
“Bloody goblins. It’s me fault that Gringotts got broken into twice on the same night, they reckon,” he said bitterly, holding up two stubby fingers. “It’s all me bloody fault, they reckon.”
“I’ve seen the papers,” I said, gesturing down the bar. “It’s awful. But it can’t have been your fault? Go on, tell me what happened.”
May I just chip in at this point and say that I would usually be far more subtle, but the guy was tanked and if I didn’t spell it out from him, he’d never understand.
“Vault six-oh-four and vault nine-three-oh,” Gerald recited.
“See?” I said to the gang, turning to face them.
Let me explain. 604 was the vault we blew up the floor of. We expected that to be discovered- it was also where we’d left the wizard and the goblin. But the other vault, 930, wasn’t the Fraternity’s vault. It was an entirely different vault that none of us had been near.
Dom hushed me as Gerald continued.
“Ah was just mindin’ me own business on front door security- lookin’ threatenin’ and the like- when this massive crash came from the vaults, so ah grabbed a couple of goblins and tried to hotfoot it over there- but where I thought the crash came from, wasn’t where the alarms were going off!
“So ah sent a goblin to see the crash, and I took the other two to the vault wiv alarms playing havoc- nine-oh-three, an’ ah didn’t see nuthin’ there, so ah left the two other goblins there, and went to where I thought the crash was, and the whole floor was caved in, and the goblin was knocked out, and then I gots knocked out too! Which is ‘ardly my fault, innit?”
I murmured sympathetically and poured him another Firewhisky.
“Don’t remember a bloody thing till ah woke up, an’ then I went over to nine-oh-three, and seen the two goblins, all stretched out like, and called the Aurors. But the bloody little money-grabbing goblins said ah were neglectful and I should be sacked. Ah walked out before they sacked me. No goblin is gonna sack Gerald. Nones.”
“They shouldn’t even hire ‘umans if they’re gonna dis-crims-in-ate against us,” he sighed. “Ah know it’s to show they don’t dis-crins-i-mate, but they shouldn’t. It’s unfair...”
The memory dissolved into wispy of murky smoke as poor Gerald started to ramble.
“Another vault was broken into?” Louis said, incredulously.
“Whose vault was 903?” asked Dom.
Lily screwed up her face. “Ah, one of the old families with weird names. Like a bird. Sparrow? Crow?”
“Carrow?” Scorpius said.
Lily nodded. “That’s the guy!”
“Abner Carrow,” I supplied. “He was in Mungo’s when you all were,” I said, as thirteen faces looked at me quizzically.
“Is it just coincidence?” Lucy asked.
“Can’t be,” snapped Dom. “The exact same day?”
“We did change the day...” chipped in Roxy, winding a strand of hair around her perfect finger.
“It should be good, though right?” Louis said.
“What do you mean?” I asked, chewing a hang-nail.
“I understand,” said Lysander. “The Fraternity aren’t going to moan that we’ve nicked stolen items, but if the Aurors think that this other team got in and out through our way, then they won’t be looking for anyone else.”
“It’s strange he didn’t mention that we’d set off the patrol cart,” James said, but Lily shrugged.
“Not really. With the alarms in 903 going off, it was probably ignored- those things malfunction all the time. They’re stupidly sensitive- we got a team of Aurors down once for a bat.”
James looked appalled. "So there was no reason to bust my eardrums then?"
Scorpius met my eyes from across the room, and shook his head slightly. Don’t mention the traitor, his eyes pleaded.
I scowled back at him. Even after everything that has happened... I still can’t believe that someone in this room has betrayed us.
-Rose: the Cabin
Wednesday 3rd November, 2.02am
Brrring brrring. Brrring brrring. I rolled over sleepily. Someone’s calling me.
Brrring brrring. And I don’t care.
Eventually, they’ll shut up.
I fell out of bed, my eyes still glued shut, and lunged toward my phone on the dresser. I pressed a button and held it to my ear.
I cracked my eyes open, peering at the too bright screen through slits. My phone wasn’t ringing.
What was, then? And why is it so early?
I rubbed my eyes, and stumbled towards the ringing sound. I opened my wardrobe, and found a cardigan with a bulge in a pocket.
“Hello?” I asked again.
“Scor- Scorpius- is that you? Are you okay? What’s happened?”
I held the phone away from my ear as a hysterical woman screamed down the line. “Mrs Malfoy?” I tried. “Mrs Malfoy, this is Rose Weasley.”
“Rose? What are you doing with Scorpius’ phone?”
No idea. No, wait! He gave it to me to ring Richie in Mungo’s... and I didn’t ring, and I didn’t give him the phone back. Or wash my cardigan, it seems.
“Erm, he lent it me. Why do you need him, Mrs Malfoy?” I said, trying to be polite and abrupt. It was two o’clock in the goddamned morning.
“We’ve had Aurors over! They wanted Scorpius, they said he was involved in the Gringotts break-in, and they were going to arrest him! But he was out for the night-”
My insides froze. I yanked on the cardigan, over my pyjamas. “Mrs Malfoy, calm down!”
I held the phone away from my mouth. “HUGO!” I yelled, trying not to sound as panicked as I felt. “Look, I’ll see what I can do to find Scorpius.”
There was a shocked silence, “You- you will?”
I laced up a pair of randomly grabbed boots, the phone jammed between my ear and my shoulder. “Yes, Mrs Malfoy, I promise. Do you know where he could be tonight?”
“Anywhere- he didn’t say where he was going...”
“Do you think he knows about the Aurors?” I asked. “HUGO ARTHUR WEASLEY!” I screamed.
“Why would he?”
“He works in the Ministry, he might have been tipped off,” I said, jamming my own phone in my pocket, and picking up the house keys. He might have tipped them off, I added in my head bitterly. “Look, I’ll go now, Mrs Malfoy, but I’ll call you if- when, I find him.”
I cut her off, going into the corridor and banging on Hugo’s door. “HUGO! GET UP NOW!”
I heard a grunt, and took that as confirmation he was awake. I went back into my bathroom, and pulled out a packet of paracetamol. My ribs hadn’t fully healed- this was going to be a long day.
There was a banging at the front door. I stepped out into the corridor- my hand over my wand- and then the door imploded. I stood in the corridor, stunned, as four Aurors charged through the cloud of smoke, their wands held high.
Run or stay?
“Yes?” I answered, my voice shaky.
Stay or run?
“What's happened?” I asked. “Is it Mum? Dad? Is everything alright?”
There was no-one I recognised. “Rose Weasley,” a shortish blonde man said catching my arm and spinning me around, plucking my wand out of my hand as he did so, “I am arresting you on suspicion of two counts of murder, two counts of grievous bodily harm and for the theft of goods worth over thirty thousand Galleons.”
He clapped handcuffs around my wrists, patting me down and taking everything else in my pockets too. My face was pressed against the cold wall, and I couldn’t speak for fear and astonishment.
I was being arrested.
Another Auror pushed past me and the blond guy- “Is your brother at home?” he asked me gruffly.
Hugo chose that time to stumble sleepily out of his bedroom, tugging his work shirt on from yesterday and rubbing sleep out of his eyes. “What is with all the banging?” he grumbled. “Who are all these people?”
The Auror stepped up to him and began; “Hugo Weasley, I'm arresting you on suspicion of two counts of murder-”
Hugo’s eyes widened, the last traces of sleep torn away by panic. “Rose!” he shouted. “NO!”
He pushed his Auror out of the way and I tried to kick another away-
-but the blond Auror gripped my upper arm painfully tight, and turned on the spot, dragging me with him, and Hugo disappeared.
A/N: c'mon, this chapter is surely worth a review!
Also, I made 'spirant' up- the incantation for the Bubble-Head Charm. Spirant is actually Latin for 'breathe'.
Also also, I have no idea what Hugo's middle name is, I made that up too :D
Chapter 9: despair, family, and a 'waiting' plan
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The Atrium, the Ministry of Magic
Thursday 3rd November
We Apparated into the Atrium of the Ministry, the Auror keeping a tight hold on me, and my arms were still pinned behind my back. It's no unfamiliar place; when over half your extremely large family work here, you tend to become acquainted with it. The place was crawling with reporters -even at stupid o'clock in the morning- and as soon as we appeared, thousands of flashes went off, as reporters spotted us, and started to holler my name. I swear my Auror looked pleased at the mob.
But I would be damned if I showed any emotion to these sleazes. I pulled myself up, bit back the tears that were threatening to spill, and tried to walk like I was in control. I looked for Molly in the mix, for she would have to be playing her part, but I couldn't see her familiar figure.
My Auror battled against the herds of cattle/hordes of hell, pulling me along with him until we got into one of the elevators. He flashed his ID, and people in the lift left, their mouths open in unashamed gawping.
“Isn’t that a Weasley?” I heard someone say loudly.
I scowled at the Auror. There are plenty of quiet back ways into the Ministry that he could have used.
Not that I’ve used any of them for various illegal activities.
The grilled door shut with a metallic clang and my stomach sank as we shot downwards, into the dark. The Auror was silent as we went deeper than I ever have before; deeper than I knew the Ministry went. And then we stopped. I was unprepared, and nearly fell, but the Auror steadied me, and I managed to awkwardly slip a hand into his pocket, pulling out his ID card, wallet and keys, and tucking them into the massive baggy pocket of my cardigan.
The corridors down here weren't polished marble, but damp, roughly cut stone, flickering torch flames casting shadows over the uneven floor. I shivered. The Auror didn't seem to notice the drop in temperature, and he didn't respond when I asked where in effing hell my brother was, my voice echoing in the silence.
He pulled me along roughly, but not long along the corridor, he opened a thick wooden door, and I found myself in a long room, lined either side with small cells. Most of them were already filled.
With the rest of us.
An old, unshaven man came shuffling towards us, keys clanging against each other loudly in the absolute stillness. “Another one?” he asked gleefully. He opened a door next to Scorpius and opposite Lorcan, grinning. “In she goes!” he cackled.
I went in. Apart from the back wall, it was thick metal bars separating me and my family. The old man shut the door, and smiled; a huge grin which showed his rotting teeth. My Auror was already gone, and then the old guy left too.
No-one spoke until the door shut, and then it was all at once.
“Not you too!”
“This is complete bullshit!”
“They'll have to let us go.”
“How could this have happened?!”
I fumbled around in my pocket, and managed to pop open my handcuffs, stretching and massaging my wrists. I also glanced at the Auror’s ID card: his name was Ernest Macmillan.
Then the noise stopped as the door creaked open again. I quickly put my hands behind my back again, holding my loot tightly. I expected to see Hugo, but it was Dom.
When they'd finally left us again- although we all gave Dom's Auror the dirtiest looks imaginable- Dom stood up. She was in the cell on Lorcan's left.
“Alright,” she said. “Who is here?”
Everyone was- except Hugo.
“I don’t understand how this has happened,” said Dom. We all listened. It was strange how we all slid into our roles. Dom immediately taking control, while we obediently listened. When she was finished, it would be the planners turn to pitch in.
“How can they have arrested us? Why have they pulled us in? All of us? Well,” she corrected, “everyone but Hugo.”
Oh Merlin. Scorpius’ traitor was real... our metaphorical wolf among sheep-
And my brother isn’t here. I glanced at the door, praying for it to open, but it remained mockingly shut.
“They have all of us, on suspicion of murder and theft,” Dom continued. “Us, and our parents, we are the faces of wizarding Britain. Arresting all of us is equivalent of arresting the Minister for Magic. They can't arrest us without a lot of proof.”
Great. So as well as the metaphorical wolf, we also are most probably going to Azkaban.
“What are we going to do?” said a quavering voice. It was Lucy.
“We're going to wait. And watch, and learn. We won't tell anyone anything they don't know. Still keep a few tricks up our sleeves. And as soon as we know what we're up against, we're going to bomb out of here in style. Okay?” Dom sounded so authoritative, for a minute, I believed her.
“Right,” said Dom, taking our collective silence as agreement. “All report. Lorcan? What happened?”
Everyone had much the same story as I did. Woken up at crack of dawn, handcuffed, arrested, Apparated, locked up. No-one had been arrested by anyone they knew, and no-one knew anything much other than what we'd been told when we were arrested.
Vic had been arrested from hospital and Teddy had been working late.
Molly told us that old-jailer-clanky-keys-man was in fact Argus Filch, a Squib who used to be caretaker at Hogwarts when our grandparents/parents were at school. Some people just don’t know when it’s their time.
But Dom grinned. “That's great,” she said. “Squibs use keys, and it'll be easier to escape if we don't have to get past enchantments.”
Teddy had apparently nearly got away by impersonating an Auror and trying to slip out, but now had some sort of heavy metal band attached to his wrist which was blindingly obvious and beeped loudly if he tried to morph.
Scorpius added that he’d been picked up at a Muggle pub.
And then it was my turn. I related events, told how Hugo had been arrested but then I hadn't seen him again, and then held up my free hands. I was duly applauded, and soon the keys had made their way up and down the cells.
We talked, made half-hearted attempts at plans, but eventually the conversation petered out as we fell asleep, shattered. I lost all track of time as I dozed, and when I woke, everyone else was asleep, their soft breathing indicating they were in a happier place.
I sat huddled in a ball, my arms wrapped around my legs and my head resting on my knees in complete and utter misery.
I wanted my brother. I wanted my mum, and I wanted dad. I wanted a bath and a duvet and a hairbrush.
I felt so small. It felt like we had been playing at being grown-ups, thinking we were so clever with our mighty plans and elaborate schemes, and now they’d stopped our game. I felt insignificant and useless.
-Abner Carrow: the Ministry
Friday 4th November
It was done. The first half of his plan, anyway.
It had gone very well- considerably better than expected. All the Clan had been rounded up- like animals, he thought to himself smugly.
All he needed now was to kill them.
The hearings and trials and court dates did insist on dragging on, he mused, steepling his fingers over his mahogany desk.
But he was a patient man.
He glanced towards the picture of his daughters. They danced around a garden in spring, aged about eight and wearing matching lilac dresses. His useless wife bought their clothes.
His heart wrenched painfully as he remembered, and his hands clenched into angry fists.
In an obscure way, he pitied their parents- Harry Potter and Hermione Granger and Percy Weasley and Draco Malfoy- because he knew the agony that they would soon go through, but he would damn well relish it when they cried over their children’s graves.
A paper aeroplane lazily floated into his office, and he snatched it out of the air, unfolding it to read the latest Ministry drivel.
It wasn’t from the Ministry.
The seized assets of ‘the Clan’ are as requested, and Mr Harry Potter requires your immediate presence in his office.
So Potter wanted to ask for his help. He had no doubt that was what his colleague wanted- after all, Abner had made sure that he was one of the most senior officials on this case.
Well, he’d make Potter wait a while. Besides, he had some other matters to attend to- like seeing to the Clan’s money.
He allowed himself a small smile, and glanced over at the monstrous gargoyle hunched in the corner of his office.
Stupid children. Why would anyone want a gargoyle?
“Expulso!” he said forcefully, flicking his wand venomously, and the statue exploded.
-Rose: the cells
Friday 4th November
Much later, nearly everyone was awake, and it was freezing. Lorcan and I were debating the possibility of which would come first: heat, food or death. It was light-hearted banter, but Roxy got really annoyed. After she screamed at us, we settled for squeezing our arms through the bars and drawing a noughts and crosses board onto the dirt-encrusted floor.
Then Filch came back in, scowling, and unlocked James, Lily and Albus’ cells. “Your parents are ‘ere,” he said gruffly.
“We're bailed?” Albus said hopefully.
Filch snorted derisively. “No. They're just ‘ere to see you.”
When the Potters got back, it was the twins’ turn, and then Scorpius got to see his parents and then the Johnson-Weasleys, and then the Delacour-Weasleys, then Teddy's grandparents, and then, finally, it was my turn.
I was led into a fairly normal, official-looking, Muggle-ish room. I'm sure you know the kind. Off-white linoleum floor, and walls of the same colour. I entered through one of two cheap pale wood doors, and saw my parents sitting uncomfortably on two bright purple plastic chairs. Apart from the trademark Weasley hair, they were the brightest thing in the room.
I suddenly felt like I was in second year again, and my parents had been called in because I'd blown up the Potions dungeon with Albus. I hung my head, and shuffled my feet in my filthy boots, and then Mum leaped off her chair and hugged me, and Dad stood up too, and hugged us both.
“You didn't do it, did you?” said Mum, pushing her hair away from our faces.
“Of course not!” I started to protest- and only half-truthfully, but Dad shushed me.
“We just had to check. Don't worry, we'll get this all sorted out, and get you lot out.”
“Have they told you anything?” I asked.
“No, no, no,” Mum said, distractedly. “We'll get you some proper clothes, and food, and stuff. Anything else you need?”
Lock-picking kit, it's in the fourth drawer in my bedside cabinet, under the false bottom.
But I didn't say that. I said the next best thing. “Have you got any hair grips on you? My hair is getting on my nerves.”
Mum smoothed my hair back, and secured it with some of her slides. As well as the curse of gingery, I also had her mane. Lovely curls if I made an effort with it, but after a night in a cell, I looked like I'd been dragged through a hedge backwards.
“What are the papers saying?” I asked.
“Oh, we don't listen to the papers,” said Dad with an anxious look at Mum. Well, that meant they were being perfectly lovely. “Are you all being looked after?” Dad was fussing. Mum was usually calm, collected, normal, and Dad was the worrier. Always was.
“Ugh, it’s horrible. But what is going on at your end? How are you going to get us all out?” I realised that I wasn't acting very worried. I mean, I should be off to Azkaban until I die for murders I didn't commit, but I was okay, because Dom had made this another task, and we were going to get through it. I was in work-mode.
“Harry is going mental, and even as Head Auror he's been taken off the case,” Dad said. I noticed his hairline was receding slightly: Dad was getting old. “Everyone who works for the Ministry has been relegated to Departments that won't have anything to do with the case. Your mother is in the Department of Magical Games and Sports.”
Poor Mum. I'm not sure she knows one end of a broomstick from the other.
“And I’m on the Committee of Experimental Charms,” continued Dad. “I don’t even know what that does.”
“Where's Hugo?” I finally managed to ask.
“Oh, he's being questioned. We saw him earlier! Why haven’t you seen him?”
Then my Auror from yesterday, Macmillan, came in, and announced very officially that our time was up, and could Mum please take back the hair clips. I wasn't allowed anything from ‘outside’.
I thought Dad was going to explode. “Well, you always were a pompous, officious git, Ernie.”
Ernie puffed out his chest. “Well, excess physical contact is prohibited, but I was lenient!”
Dad stands about a head taller than Ernie, and he looked threateningly down on him. “You dare tell me I can't hug my children, Macmillan?”
“And threatening an Auror is an offence too, Mr Weasley,” Ernie said, but his voice was wavering slightly. “I'll let her keep the hair products.”
I breathed a quiet sigh of relief. With difficulty, hair-slides could be makeshift lock-picks, although it required time and a steady hand. But Dad being Dad, was not satisfied with that. He took off his thick winter coat, and draped it around my shoulders.
Ernie didn't dare say anything.
I left the room, with a final, wistful glance at my parents. Mum looked tiny as she tried not to cry. You should never see your parents cry. My own tears were welling up as Dad put an arm around her.
“You’ll be out within the week, don’t worry!” he called.
I was escorted back to my cell, tears falling freely down my cheeks. The corridors were full of official looking people, carrying papers and briefcases, their heavy robes swishing past my legs. I was bumped into by a man- and at the same time felt a drop in Dad’s coat pocket as something was slid in there. I twisted, trying to see who it was, but they were lost in the crowd.
Filch let me in to my cell, unlocking my handcuffs with a grimace. I went and sat in the furthest corner, huddling against the bars and the dank stone wall, wiping my tears with my sleeves, but the familiar smell of home brought fresh tears.
I stuffed my hands in Dad’s coat pockets, my balled fists sinking into the warm material, and then they touched something coarse and greasy- and recognizable.
I gave a final sniff, and looked carefully up and down the cells. No-one was paying any attention to me. My stomach clenched in hope.
I carefully drew it out of my pocket, and couldn’t hide my smile when I saw the familiar blue cloth, secured by a small leather belt.
I unbuckled it quietly, and unrolled it in my lap. My tools shone slightly in the lamplight- greasy, dirty and old, but very much here. I rolled it back up, and shoved it back in my pocket hurriedly, as Filch shuffled down the cells, his nose scrunched up as he peered through bars. Which was dripping quite profusely. It was fairly disgusting, actually.
My fears had been chased away, hope lighting the way. Hairgrips were all very well and dandy if you had half a year to get a lock open- but with my tools, we might actually have a chance.
Someone was on our side.
Saturday 5th November
It was the middle of the afternoon, and the dull November sunlight had retreated around the back of the house, causing the lamps already to be lit inside. The shadows were long and thin across the lawn, and the first tendrils of frost were creeping in the grass, shining white. A cockerel crowed unenthusiastically, and a gnome crept across the bottom of the hedge.
They’d all been unable to sleep since seeing their children, and now the nineteen parents and grandparents sat around the kitchen table, silent and sullen with dark rings under their eyes.
Everyone was there. Luna and Rolf had come back early from their expedition to the Maldives, and Luna’s eyes seemed larger than normal in her pale face. Charlie Weasley, grey streaking his hair already, stood talking softly to the Malfoy’s, who had turned up uninvited- seeking the only other people who would know what they felt. It was clear that Astoria had been crying, but Draco was resolute and hard.
Audrey and Percy sat together in the middle of a wide sofa, looking lost in the expanse of chintz. Percy held her hands tightly in his, and his thumb rubbed up and down the back of her thin hand, in an attempt to reassure her.
Bill and Fleur were sat at the large scrubbed table, also holding hands, and trying not to look at the front pages of the papers in front of them. Condemning headlines were bold across the pages, the reporters dredging up every personal detail about their lives as a picture of a teenage Dom and Louis waved cheerily at them.
George, Ginny and Angelina were methodically washing and drying the stacks of plates on the draining board, the clink of china the loudest sound in the deathly silence.
Molly Weasley was making more tea- half of the adults cradled cold cups in their hands- so she briskly poured fresh tea out of a gigantic china teapot, wanting to be busy doing something. Arthur stood nearby, slowly getting more mugs out of the cupboard.
Harry walked in, flanked by Ron and Hermione. Everyone immediately looked towards them, questioningly.
“It’s no good,” Harry said, sounding, for one of the first times, defeated. “They won’t tell me anything. We tried everything.”
Harry meant what he said. He wouldn’t have admitted it to Ginny or the others, but the three of them had attempted Imperio, and employed every dirty trick they knew to find information on their children, even going so far as bribing an official on the case, a stern-faced man called Carrow.
Ginny crossed to Harry and flung her soapy hands around her husband, the bubbles catching in his black hair. He hugged her back tightly.
The people in the room visibly sagged, despairing at the lack of knowledge and hope. This was completely incomprehensible to them- their children led normal, and in some cases, boring lives.
They worked in hospitals and pubs and joke shops- how could they be thieves and murderers and spies? They had girlfriends, boyfriends and pets, they were kind and annoying and caring- it didn’t make sense to them.
And in their eyes, their children would always just be that- children.
“Don’t worry,” Ron repeated to Hermione, breaking the silence, smoothing her hair back from her face. “We’ll get them out within the week.”
-Rose: the cells.
Wednesday 21st December
I was sleeping a lot lighter in prison, and I woke up as soon as I heard the prison door close.
A month and a half, we’d roughly been in prison. In a month and a half, I’d not seen Hugo at all, seen my parents twice and no-one else.
I was ready to kill Albus for being stupidly optimistic, and I wanted to cry until I had no tears left.
I sat up in my cell, my arms wrapped around my knees. It was so cold, my breath came in smoky puffs, and we’d all caught colds.
I coughed miserably as Filch shuffled down the row, his yellow teeth visible as he grinned sadistically at us. He could smile- he had on a coat and a scarf.
Through various means- we still had some friends in the Ministry- we had managed to get extra clothes and our treatment was a lot better than some prisoners, Teddy had told us. We weren’t in Azkaban, and we’d mostly been left to ourselves.
But it’s hard to be grateful when you’re in prison for murder. We hadn’t even been convicted yet, but apparently it was too dangerous to for us to be bailed. The goblin population of Britain had been rioting in protest of the murders, and Gringotts had been shut down for weeks at a time.
Filch was carrying a large sack, and he pushed some thin grey robes through my bars. “Time to get up,” he said chirpily. “Your trial starts in an hour.”
A/N: slightly filler-ish, but I've dropped hints and developed stuff in here, so it was totally needed.
Thanks so much to Sam/Heir for bearing with my frantic messages all in Caps Lock because I was stressing about the chapters! Lots of love :D
Chapter 10: the trial, some secrets and an escape plan
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-Carrow: Department of International Magical Cooperation
Wednesday 21st December, 8.53am
It was nearly time.
He smoothed out his plum robes, standing in front of the full length mirror in his secretary’s office. It was his first session with the Wizengamot, and he was nervous.
Not bad nervous though- a happy, butterflies-in-stomach, first-date kind of nervous.
He picked up his mortar board style hat, and tucked it under his arm, walking out of the office and towards the elevators, benignly nodding at people he knew. In return, he had smiles and murmured respectful greetings.
This case had elevated his profile within the Ministry to such a degree that even the Head of the Department of Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures acknowledged him as he stepped out of the lift. Feeling puffed up with importance, he strolled gracefully into the Court, and took his seat near the head.
The Minister of Magic had declined the invitation to head the court- and Carrow was hardly surprised. Kingsley Shacklebolt was godfather to Victoire and Dominique, and was a regular at the Weasley family dinners. Shacklebolt’s deputy sat in the too-large chair instead, the purple robe hanging loosely off his skinny frame.
Dennis Creevey had always been deemed as too young to be the Deputy Minister for Magic, but a shiver ran down Carrow’s spine as he saw the stern set to Creevey’s jaw. Dennis was all too aware of his huge responsibility, and he firmly believed in justice, honesty and liberties. He believed in the power of the jury and he believed in equality. His brother’s death in the Battle of Hogwarts had spurred him on to achieve good in this world- by making the Ministry a fairer and more just place.
Abner couldn’t believe he was a politician. Surely people like Creevey were rooted out while they were still office assistants and sent to some obscure department where they believed they were doing good?
With a fond smile on his face, he remembered watching his boss relocate Arthur Weasley. Those were the good old days. But it was more favouritism than corruption, he mused.
Abner looked around the court. Most of the Wizengamot were assembled, so he took his place, smoothed out his robes and was careful to keep his face neutral as the accused filed in.
They still looked somewhat defiant, Carrow noted. Probably because they were convinced of their innocence- but in the eyes of the court that would change, and very shortly.
-Rose: Courtroom Ten, the Ministry of Magic
Wednesday 21st December, 9.59am
I cast a surreptitious glance at the giant clock which hung on the wall to my left, and sighed. Nearly an hour since our court case had begun, and so far they’d finished the introductions and what we were accused of. Which was a pretty lengthy list, and partly true.
We were accused of breaking into two Gringotts vaults; 604 and 930, and stealing goods worth thirty thousand Galleons. We were accused of killing two goblins; Marchday and Greynitt, and seriously injuring a third; Bullwatt, and my old mate the security guard; Gerald Lewis.
It was enough to send us down for fifty years each. More, if they could directly implicate us with the actual breaking-in, and not just planning.
Next to me, Albus shifted uncomfortably. The robes were itchy, and I swear the bench was charmed to be as unforgiving as stone. I already had bruises on my backside. I squeezed his hand, and the corner of his mouth twitched into an unhappy smile.
Teddy was the first to be questioned, and he denied everything. If we admitted to what we had done, we’d have to explain why, and that would uncover a whole nest of other bad deeds we’d rather keep in the closet, thank you very much.
But that meant we had no defence. No alibi, no witnesses, no explanation. Of course, we could all back each other up, but that was equivalent to admitting guilt. Our lawyer, however, was amazing. One of Mum’s friends from Hogwarts, Terry Boot, was constructing a fantastic story from our half-formed answers and to my inexperienced mind at least, it seemed fairly watertight.
But when it was my turn to give evidence, my courage seemed to have run away and hidden. My feet were unsteady as I climbed up to the massive chair in the centre of the room. Terry smiled at me.
“Could you please state your name for the record?”
“Rose Minerva Weasley,” I said, trying to make my voice calm. I was a hands-on kind of person, and talking my way out of a situation had never been my forte.
“Formerly Rose Minerva Dalton?” Terry asked.
My insides froze. That was strictly classified information, which only Albus, Molly, Lorcan and my mother knew. And now everyone in the courtroom knew as well.
“Yes,” I said, my voice coming out as a croak.
Terry rifled through the papers crowding his table. “I have here,” he started, searching and knocking a pile of papers off his table, before plucking the elusive piece off the floor and tilting it towards the light. “Ah, yes. I have here a signed statement by Zachariah Dalton that Rose Weasley was at his flat on the night of the 30th of October, and stayed until midday on the 31st.”
Oh my wizard god. I must be dreaming- no, having a nightmare. There is no way in heaven, hell or any parallel universes that this could possibly be happening.
He passed the parchment to Dennis Creevey, who read it silently, and then passed it back. “That seems to be in order, Mr Boot,” Creevey said.
Terry smiled again. “No further questions,” he said, and I shakily got up and returned to my seat next Albus, who crushed my hand in a reassurance, while I sat in a state of shock. Zach was in London? Zach was covering for me? Unless he was mixed up in this too? No, Zach never intended to hurt me.
“I’d like to call my next defendant, Hugo Weasley, to the stand,” Terry said, despite the fact that Hugo was not in the courtroom.
As no-one moved, Creevey looked up from his parchment. “Hugo Weasley?” he said, as he scanned the courtroom. “Where is Hugo Weasley?”
There was silence.
Terry picked up a sheaf of papers, tied with string. He undid it with a flourish. This was clearly planned. “I have an arrest warrant for Hugo Weasley. I also have the transcripts of four interrogations and I have a copy of a visit permit for his parents. I do not, however, know of his whereabouts.” He glanced up at the Wizengamot, who avoided his eyes.
Creevey raised his eyebrows in disbelief. “Could anyone tell me how have we managed to lose Hugo Weasley?”
His icy gaze swept across the room. “Filch? You have been overseeing the accused, haven’t you?”
Filch coughed and stood up from his seat. “Ah ain’t seen ‘im, sir.”
“Anyone care to elaborate on this?” Creevey paused dangerously, but no-one spoke. The Aurors shuffled uncomfortably in their seats. “Shed some light on what is clearly flummoxed the professionals?”
The pause lengthened.
Creevey moved some papers around. “And why isn’t anyone going to find Mr Weasley?”
I could kiss that man. Even that showed that we had people on our side. Even Kingsley’s absence showed we had people on our side.
-Abner Carrow: outside Courtroom Ten
The Wizengamot were seated around him in a half-circle, discussing the case in low voices. Abner let the conversation flow over him, waiting. He needed to up his game. That ridiculous lawyer- what was his name? Terence Shoe? –he was blasting through the evidence like it was tissue paper. Already that Rose Weasley was practically free. Abner needed to call the vote now, or risk them getting off scot-free. He had a few members of the administration of the courts in his pocket, a few more under the Imperius curse, and more still were working for his ideals. They also believed that the Wotter Clan were too big for its boots, that the Golden Trio deserved to be taken down a step, that the children’s illegal activities were just downright cocky.
He needed the vote to be taken now. If not, and this onslaught of evidence was permitted to continue, then no lawyer in the wizarding world could be trusted to break down the wall of innocence surrounding the children. He gritted his teeth in frustration. Why hadn’t he foreseen this? Why hadn’t he realised that this was a possibility? The Wotters were clever and influential and rich- the best lawyers in the country were available to them. He bit his lip. He needed the vote to be taken now. Before his lawyers’ clumsy attack reinforced their innocence further, before the hard facts of guilt were pushed out of the way. The vote needed to be taken now.
On cue, a young, spotty man ducked into the small antechamber and coughed nervously, his Adam’s apple bobbing. The assembled looked at him expectantly, but only Abner recognised the slight jagged edges to his irises which was a side-effect of the Imperius curse. “Witches and wizards,” he said, his shaking hands making the paper he read off weave about, “Witches and wizards, it has been recommended that you make your judgement now, without the testimony of Mr Weasley.”
A tall woman with an authoritive voice crossed her legs and asked “Have they located Mr Weasley?”
“Ye-yes,” the spotty man stammered.
“Then why can’t we hear his defence?” she asked, narrowing her eyes.
“He is not fit to answer questions at this moment in time,” the young man said, with an anxious glance in Carrow’s direction. “It is advised that you make your decision now,” he repeated, when Carrow didn’t make any move to help him.
Abner hadn’t risked trying to sway any of the Wizengamot- they were generally righteous anyway, but more importantly, each member has to undergo a severe mental examination before sitting on the court. It had taken all of Carrow’s skill in Occlumency to hide his plans, and he hadn’t wanted take unnecessary risks. The voting was already rigged.
Carrow wasn’t at all bothered as each member –grumbling- put their vote into a wooden box. It had been privatised, so that the accused were unaware of who had voted against them, instead of the old-fashioned show of hands. The small box charmed to change the writing on the paper, but in case of failure Carrow wrote ‘innocent’ on his parchment, and slotted it through the top. If something else went wrong, he wouldn’t want to be incriminated in any way.
-Rose: Courtroom Ten
Hugo hadn’t appeared, but a lot of official looking wizards had looked confused and worried- and then the Wizengamot filed back in, looking subdued, and not one of them looking us in the eye.
My heart sank.
"The Wizengamot have cast their votes,” said Creevey, sounding almost as astonished as I felt. He held up a wooden box, and waved his wand over it, sending a tendril of silver through the slot in the top.
After a second, red smoke puffed out. Red.
“The Wizengamot have found the accused guilty, of all charges,” he said, not managing to keep the disbelieving tone from his voice.
This was happening too fast. Something was wrong here, something in the court. This trial should have lasted for weeks, months even.
“This isn’t right,” Scorpius whispered. “What is going on?”
After a beat of stunned silence, and then our families, on the other side of the court leaped to their feet, shouting and yelling. This was not a fair trial. What was happening? Why was this so fast? Our traitor clearly had the resources to influence the Ministry... who could it be? We weren’t even being given a chance.
And where was my brother?
Guards came to escort us out of the courtroom, ignoring the frantic protests of our parents. I was too numb to say anything, just register Mum’s tearstained face before I was led away.
So I was surprised as we were led back into our cells- and even more surprised as I saw Hugo sitting in the cell next to mine, looking battered and bruised, his head in his hands.
“Rose!” he yelped, and I dashed over to him, hugging him as best I could through the bars with my hands cuffed in front of me.
We were left alone by the Aurors, the only sounds being the soft sniffs and tears, and clanking of metal as people rubbed at their sore wrists. And then Filch hobbled in, his face ecstatic with joy. “They can't take you anywhere yet!” he told us cheerily. “The goblins want you all to be punished by them, and the Aurors are trying to stop the rioting! All of Gringotts has gone on strike!”
“How did the goblins find out so soon?” Teddy called after Filch, who was checking we were all locked in securely- he trusted Aurors about as far as he could throw them, as he’d told us many a time.
“Must have inside knowledge,” he said chirpily. The idea of lawful punishment, and the prospect of us being ripped limb from limb by goblins had made the grouchy old man positively chatty. He hummed a mournful tune as he left, his mouth twisted into a gruesome smile.
The door shut with a clang after him, and then Dom stood up. “I think we’ve waited long enough,” she said. “Red? Locks?”
I still had the keys from Macmillan, so I tossed them to Lorcan and he unlocked his own cuffs, and then his twins.
With my picks, it was fiddlier and took longer, but I managed to get my own cuffs undone and my door unlocked before the keys had made their way up and down the cells. Macmillan’s keys only opened handcuffs, so I needed to get and open the cell doors. Speed was essential: I couldn't make a run for it until everyone was freed.
Then the door to outside was opened as the Aurors realised that we were on the point of escape, and they streamed in. I tripped Macmillan over as he started to charge down the aisle. An Auror got past us, but Teddy whacked him the face with his metal band. His nose made an audible crunch as it broke, and he fell to the floor, stunned. Teddy rifled his robes, found his wand, then grabbed the still cuffed Vic and dragged her with him as he turned on the spot, Disapparating with a loud crack.
There was another yell as an Auror said an anti-apparating spell, and the rest of us were stuck. Lily splinched herself -judging from her scream- as the spell stopped her half-way, and she clutched her bleeding hand to her chest. James grabbed her and Albus, and started to barrel through the melee. Anti-apparating spells only have a certain range, and as soon as they were out, they Disapparated.
Around me, it was a manic fight for wands. Lorcan managed to duck a spell, and then punched the Auror in the gut, whose wand dropped out of his hand. It must have been him who cast the spell, because Lorcan grabbed Molly, who was standing next to him, and she grabbed Lucy, and the three of them Disapparated.
The Anti-Apparating spell was renewed, and now there was just eight left. I was still trying to unlock someone's cuffs. They clicked open, and then I was flattened by my dear old pal, Ernie, who seemed to think I was his personal responsibility. But I was still hanging onto the person’s wrists, and they pulled me from underneath him at the same time Hugo held a silver lighter up, clicked it, and all the flaming torches went out.
How the hell did Hugo manage to get Dad's Put-Outer in here?
My rescuer had hold of my hand still, and was pulling me through the crowd in the dark, who were now shooting random spells at anyone. Every time someone tried to yell, “LUMOS!” the ball of light sped into Hugo's Deluminator. One light cast a fleeting beam on a stick on the floor, so I picked it up and hoped it was actually a wand, and not just a twig.
I felt the ripple of the anti-apparating spell as I passed through it, and then I turned on the spot, keeping a tight hold of whoever’s hand I had, and then we came out on a lawn before a giant manor house, where it was raining.
I collapsed onto the grass for a minute, gasping, and then was dragged up by Scorpius, who looked decidedly green.
Bollocks. I get saddled with Scorpius.
“We need to get under cover,” he panted, looking panicked, and I stumbled after him towards the nearby treeline.
Once we were inside the trees, he fell onto all fours, and vomited.
“How can you even have anything in your stomach to throw up?” I asked, disgusted. No matter how many times I see people puke, it is still gross.
Scorpius flicked the V's at me. “I hate Apparating,” he coughed, and sent a ball of spit into the ground. “I can't apparate.”
I narrowed my eyes at his back. He’d never mentioned this before- and it was a very convenient way of getting us both caught.
“Do you know where we are?” he said croakily.
“Nope, I remember the house from an old postcard once. I didn’t think the Aurors would be able to connect this place to me. It’s called Ford Abbey, I think.”
Scorpius was as white as a sheet. “We need to go, right now.”
“What? What’s wrong? How are they going to know we apparated here?”
He beckoned me over, and I helped him up, and more out of habit than any malevolent thoughts, I slipped my hand into his robe pocket, and plucked out a hard, circular object. A ring.
“...Scorpius, what’s this?” I twirled it around my finger.
“How... what? When did you get that?” His face looked outraged, but I rolled my eyes at him.
“Scorpius, I’m a pickpocket. Get over it.”
“When did you get that?” His voice was low and dangerous, and for a moment I saw a flash of someone I wasn’t entirely sure of.
“Just now, I nicked it out of your pocket,” I said, pretending not to notice his small conversion into Mr Hyde. I examined it more closely. The ring was white gold, and simple, but a band of tiny diamonds hugging one edge.
“Give it back.”
“Whose ring is it?” I asked. It had to be a guy’s, the band was too big to fit on any finger except my thumb, but the stones made it look more delicate and feminine. I wiped rain drops off the metal. I didn’t really put Scorpius down as someone who hoarded family heirlooms. I glanced up from the ring to see his shoulders slump in defeat.
“It’s- it’s mine.”
I nearly dropped it into the leaves. “Yours? When did you get married?”
“The night you broke into Hogwarts,” he said, and suddenly I vividly recalled Scorpius in the conference room, telling us he couldn’t do the job.
“You didn’t tell us?” I said, miffed. “Did you even tell Albus?”
“No! Why should I?” he snapped angrily. “It’s not like any of you would be welcome at my wedding.”
I raised my eyebrows, and he smacked his forehead. “Not that I wouldn’t want any of you there, but would my family? Really?” he said, trying to cover his back.
“Who’s the lucky girl then? Or guy, I don’t discriminate,” I said, still a little peeved.
And yes, I know. I had problems sorting out my priorities. We had just escaped from prison, mauling by goblins and a snotty old man with a grudge- but who wouldn’t be pissed that they’d missed out on a chance to get all dressed up?
“You don’t know her.”
I was going to say something witty, suddenly the woods were full of barking dogs, and the shots of guns.
“Muggles,” Scorpius said quickly. “Grouse and partridge shooting, probably.”
I took a few steps closer to him. I did not want to get shot. “Since when did you know about Muggle stuff?” I asked quietly.
“Does she shoot?”
“She’s a Muggle?” My voice was loud and surprised, and the next second, Scorpius clapped his hand over my mouth, and kicked my legs out from underneath me.
I fell straight to the ground, and Scorpius dropped to his knees as well, and rolled both of us into the ditch. It was full of mud, effing cold and Scorpius landed right on top on me, his nose millimetres from my cheek. He lifted his hand away, and put a finger to his lips. Alright, I get the message. I need to stop being so loud. But I did not appreciate being manhandled, so I kneed him in the balls and his mouth formed a silent O of pain. I smiled vindictively.
The Muggles’ voices got closer.
“So, Horace, how’s your daughter?” a very posh, plummy kind of voice said. The kind of voice which belonged to a man who went grouse or partridge shooting.
“Louisa or Polly?” a second voice -presumably Horace- said.
“Louisa, of course! The one that’s just married that convict- what’s-his-name, Malfoy, wasn’t it?”
I had apparated us into Scorpius’ father-in-laws estate. And from his pained expression, he was going to kill me. Possibly because I also bruised his privates.
“We’re confident he will be cleared of all charges,” Horace said, sounding less than confident.
The stupid posh arses seemed to have stopped walking right in front of our hiding place. About three feet, a bush and some mud lay between us and discovery. And we had only one wand. At least I was pretty quick on the draw. Although they had guns. They weren’t odds I was very comfortable with.
“What are those blasted beaters doing?” snapped the first guy.
Beaters? I mouthed at Scorpius, who shook his head. I didn’t know Muggles had beaters! Awesome!
But Scorpius just rolled his eyes.
“Anyway,” the first voice continued, “it’s a bad business. Don’t understand why you encouraged the match, Horace. I’ve not heard of his family. New money? I heard his father was in government?”
Had I suddenly been transported into eighteenth century Britain? He was going to start on about breeding next. Scorpius had an odd glint in his eye, so I grabbed his hand, warning him against moving. Thank Merlin I had the wand.
Suddenly, there was a loud rustling of leaves, and the heavy beating of wings as startled birds took to the air. Scorpius instinctively ducked his head.
There was a beat of silence, and then twin bangs as the two men discharged their guns, followed by twin thumps as two birds hit the ground.
“Good show, Maurice,” Horace said, and they walked off, leaving the dead birds.
Scorpius was immediately on his feet, and pulled me up with him. “Come on,” he whispered urgently, “We need to move before people come looking for the birds.”
We started running, Scorpius leading. He clearly knew exactly where we were going. We reached a small outbuilding, and Scorpius kicked the door open.
“They don’t use this one,” he said, quietly shutting the door behind us. “We can wait until its dark.”
So in silence, on top of an upturned bucket, we sat, cold. I found myself wondering how the others were getting on, and if anyone knew who the traitor was yet. I wasn’t fully convinced it wasn’t Scorpius.
Finally, Scorpius judged it was dark enough to move. I thought it had been dark enough about an hour ago, but hey, I’m not the thief-extraordinaire here, am I? “Wait here,” he told me quietly.
“Wait! We need to take these robes off,” I said. “They’re too obvious.”
He sighed, and pulled off his grey robe, revealing a long-sleeved red top and cobalt blue boxers. He shivered. “How is this any better?”
“Jesus, do they glow in the dark?” I asked, indicating his shorts. He scowled at me. “If anyone sees you, pretend you are drunk,” I suggested. “It’s certainly less weird than this,” I said, brandishing his cast-off robe. “This even has a label saying ‘property of the Ministry of Magic.”
He stuck his tongue out at me. “I’ll be back soon,” he said. “Just wait here.”
I’m not good at waiting. In fact, I suck at waiting. I started to count, already feeling frustrated and useless- but by the time I got to twenty, Scorpius reopened the door. “I can’t get in,” he whispered.
“Show me where,” I said, trying to sound as exasperated as possible.
He led me to the main house -which, by the way, was fucking huge up close- and pointed at a window three floors up. At last, something I can do. I shrugged off my own robe, my boots and socks, so I was standing in only leggings and a t-shirt, and then I wedged a lock-pick between my teeth, flexed my fingers, and grabbed the drainpipe.
At least I’m lighter than usual, I thought, listening to my growling stomach, which was so loud it could easily give me away. I shimmied up easily, no doubt giving Scorpius a lovely view of my backside. The window was one of those old fashioned ones where the bottom half slid upwards, so I carefully levied it up- but it had barely opened a foot before it started to creak.
Bugger. I spat on the hinges to grease it, and managed to get it open another few inches before it stuck fast. Great. I still managed to slither in, landing in a graceful heap in some girl’s bedroom.
Empty girl’s bedroom, thank God. I stuck my head out the window. “How are you going to get in?”
“Is there a rope?” his voice floated up to me.
No, there isn’t a rope. Why would there be a rope? I managed to do the cliché bed-sheets-tied-together though, and hung that out the window. Two minutes later, Scorpius tumbled into the room, at the exact same time as a girl with long brown hair and wearing a dress with pale blue ruffles (yes, you heard me, ruffles) came in.
“Louisa!” Scorpius said, attempting to smooth his hair, and stand up, resulting in him falling over the bedsheets.
“Louisa,” he said again, “Look, I can explain everything.”
Louisa’s cherubic china doll features were scrunched into a scowl.
“Who is that?” she snapped, her voice like ice and her finger pointed accusingly at me. I swear her eyes flashed green.
Seriously? There are two escaped murdering criminals in her bedroom and she gets jealous?
A/N: long time, no update! I'm sorry. This will probably be the last update for about a month and a bit- exams are evil time-stealers :(
So, I hope you liked it- new developments! Tell me what you think please?
And thanks to Heir/Sam and Aguamenti/Olive for helping me with names and words that leave my brain and refuse to return. :P. Also, credit to Eion Colfer for the idea about irises becoming jagged through overuse of the Imperius Curse. He actually uses it for overuse of the 'mesmer' which is pretty much the equivalent of Imperius. Thanks for reading :)
Chapter 11: stories, marriages and being on the run- no plan.
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-Rose: Ford Abbey
Tuesday 21st December, 7pm
Louisa smoothed out the ruffles on her skirt in a huffy manner. The comparison had been annoying me for quite some time, and I finally realised that her dress reminded me of a layered tea cosy. An ugly layered tea cosy. Had her dog dressed her or something?
At the moment, Scorpius, Louisa and I were sitting at a small low sofa in her extensive bedroom. My knees were practically drawn up to my chin, but Scorpius and Louisa seemed perfectly at home. At least Scorpius had managed to stop Louisa calling for tea; I don’t think I could have coped with breakable china. Talk about culture shock. An hour ago, I was in a filthy cell. Now, I was staining Louisa’s chintz sofa with cell filth, trying to persuade the stupid cow not to snitch on us, and Scorpius had crushed my fingers when I tried to nick the wand out of his pocket- long thin things are really hard to steal- so I guessed that meant a memory charm was out of the question.
“Louisa,” Scorpius said, “We don’t want you to lie, we just don’t want you to tell the truth. I promise, everything will work out.”
Louisa’s hands were folded neatly on her lap, and Scorpius’ hands were covering them, as he leant forwards, intent on persuading her.
“How can you know that?” she demanded snobbily, her annoying little voice cutting into my headache like a knife.
“Because I’m a wizard,” Scorpius said patiently, “and we have special knowledge. Remember, I told you?”
Would you look at that poker face? He is giving nothing away. He could tell people the moon was made of cheese and they’d believe him.
Louisa rolled her eyes. “Yes, yes, yes, I know all that, Scorpius. I just don’t see how this will work out.”
Neither did I, but I didn’t think it was a perfect time to mention it. After all, I was a witch, and witches had ‘special knowledge’.
“Louisa,” Scorpius began again, the faints cracks of stress creeping into his voice. “Please.”
“Or we are convicted murderers,” I chipped in. “Who knows what we might do.”
Scorpius stamped on my bare foot, and I bit my tongue in pain, but Louisa’s small eyes opened wide.
“What are you suggesting?” she gasped, her voice cracking .
“I’m not suggesting, dearie, I’m threatening.” I managed to say, before Scorpius could interrupt. “Now, we need clothes, we need food, and we need you not to tell anyone we were here. Alright?”
She swallowed, and nodded, trembling. She was so spineless- but victory is victory, and it still tasted sweet.
Scorpius scowled at me, but didn’t object. I wasn’t surprised. It would be best for Louisa if she kept her mouth shut, and did it really matter why? I crossed to the wardrobe and started to flick through her clothes to find some for me. I grimaced. Louisa liked pastel colours far too much.
Scorpius had gone downstairs –stand on the edge of staircases, and stay close to the wall, I told him- to get food and blankets. I directed Louisa to find some clothes for Scorpius in his adjoining bedroom- I didn’t trust her too far from me. And the upper classes are weird. They were married, and had separate beds. In separate rooms.
I really hoped Scorpius didn’t snore.
It had occurred to me, several times in fact, to ditch Scorpius and make a run for it on my own. But I hated solitude, and if he had been caught, then I would feel immeasurably guilty. Two was better than one- but if it came to a straight chase, I would trip him over easily, and there was no doubt in my mind that he would do exactly the same.
And besides, his criminal contacts might come in useful, and it was highly likely that he had a couple of billion Galleons siphoned off in accounts all over the world. Maybe we could retire to Australia and come out when this was all over?
A girl could dream, I suppose.
Louisa came back in, her arms full of clothes, which I then began to sort through, taking the practical items away from the three-piece suits. For me, I had found relatively little. I pulled on some dark jeans, and in a pile were some dark jodhpurs (the only normal looking clothes she seemed to own) a couple of jumpers and a few scarves. I added jeans and jumpers for Scorpius, underwear for both of us, and found a massive waxed wool coat in his pile which I claimed as my own. Luckily, I fit into Louisa’s shoes, so I took a pair of trainers and pushed boots onto my feet.
When Scorpius returned, successful, we piled the clothes and food and blankets into backpacks, Scorpius at the last minute searching at the back of a drawer and pulling out a couple of thousand pounds of Muggle money.
Louisa watched us, wide-eyed. Finally, I shouldered my bag, and turned to Scorpius. “We should leave immediately. And we can’t come back until this is over,” I said, with finality. “I’ll wait outside as you do your goodbyes,” I added, trying to sound considerate and not like a murderer.
I left the room, shutting the door quietly behind me, but Scorpius wrenched it back open. “That was quick,” I whispered.
“She won’t even notice I’m gone,” he said quietly, and not without a hint of sadness. “And I didn’t want you to run off without me.”
Seems like it wasn’t just me who was thinking about going it alone.
Scorpius led the way through the maze of vaulted halls and thin corridors, until he let us out of a side door, which opened into the stables. It had stopped raining, and the pale moonlight was reflected on the damp stones of the yard. From there, we ran, stooping low to the ground, until we reached the cover of the trees again.
“Where should we go now?” Scorpius said, his eyes boring into mine.
In answer, I held out my hand. He took it, and I turned on the spot, pulling him with me.
We emerged in a garage, and Scorpius pulled me over as he crouched again, looking green. “Where are we?” he asked, trying not to heave.
“The garage of Mr and Mrs Peacock, who are hopefully in America for the winter,” I said. “We should be okay to go in the house, I just didn’t want to Apparate inside, just in case.”
I left Scorpius on the cold concrete floor of the garage, waiting for the nausea to pass, and I scooted in through the inside window, performing a quick Freezing Charm on the alarm system. I knew a whole pile of residences which were sure to be empty at different times of the year- they were helpful in storing goods, or staying a night when we were on the road. Only I knew all of them- Lorcan knew most, while James, Freddy and Dom knew of a few others. I hoped they were making the most of my ‘holiday homes’.
The house was as silent as the grave, but I tiptoed through most of the rooms, checking, before I collected Scorpius and the bags. I led him through the house to a small front bedroom, where we set up camp; pulling duvet covers from the bedrooms and making a sort of nest on the floor, before eating some food we had taken from Ford Abbey. I was so tired, and my head ached so badly, my eyes closed involuntarily, as I hugged a pillow to my chest.
“Go to sleep,” Scorpius whispered. His face looked wan and pale in the dim wand-light. “I’ll wake you at three, and then you can take over.”
I snuggled deeper into the duvets, realising I hadn’t even kicked my shoes off, before falling asleep almost instantly.
When I woke up, Scorpius was writing something on a small notepad. I yawned quietly and checked the watch I had taken from Louisa. The face gleamed in the faint light. It was half-four in the morning.
“I thought you said you’d wake me at three?”
He started a little at the sound of my voice, but shrugged. “I’m not tired.”
I half-crawled over to him, still cocooned in duvets. My nose was freezing, and my head still hurt, my eyes sore.
“What are you writing?” I enquired, half-expecting him not to show me.
Instead, he held out his notebook. “Anything you can add?” he asked.
The page was filled with names. “I’m trying to work out where everyone is now, and who the traitor is,” he said sadly.
James, Albus and Lily
Teddy and Vic
Fred, Louis and Dom
Lysander and Roxanne
It was the groups that people had Disapparated in. I picked up the pencil and scrawled ‘Lorcan, Molly and Lucy’ underneath.
“You didn’t see Hugo then?” he asked me, and I shook my head. “What was that thing he had?”
“Dad’s Put-Outer,” I said. “I don’t know how he managed to smuggle it in, but I had my lock-picks...” I trailed off, as I flicked to the next page.
Hugo: last to get to cells, even though Rose was there. Weird magical device that turned out the lights.
Dom: been lying about petty stuff recently.
Roxanne: whiny cow.
Teddy: a contact said he saw him in Knockturn Alley, buying Acromantula eggs.
Lucy: works for the Ministry, didn’t seem very upset at the ‘trial’.
I was silent. I had almost forgotten we had a traitor in our midst. We couldn’t trust anyone. I couldn’t even trust Scorpius. I glanced sideways at him. His eyes were ringed with black, and heavy with tiredness, his blonde hair grown out and greasy. He pushed a hand through it, and bit his lip worriedly.
“I haven’t got very much,” he said, almost apologetically, “but it’s helpful to know. Anything different you’ve noticed about us?”
“Being a ‘whiny cow’ is not a crime,” I pointed out, slightly amused. “And Teddy could have been buying that for Roxy’s potions, and Lucy is made of stern stuff. She’s not going to break down crying.”
He didn’t say anything, just looked at me expectantly.
I thought for a moment. This was like cheating on your friends. On your family.
“Erm, James has got too much money in his back account,” I said finally.
“How much is too much?”
“About fifteen million Galleons.”
His pencil dropped from his fingers. “Fifteen million? Seriously?” He picked up the pencil before it rolled away and passed it to me. “Write it.”
I hesitated. Writing it had power. It was one thing to think it, and another to put it down on paper.
“Go on,” he urged. “It’ll help us.”
‘James:- G15 million in account. More money came in from a bloke called P Jones’ I wrote, somewhat reluctantly.
“Anything else?” Scorpius prompted.
‘Hugo: last to get to cells, even though Rose was there. Weird magical device that turned out the lights. Put-Outer, you moron.
Dom: been lying about petty stuff recently: eg. Boyfriend’s work party.
Roxanne- whiny cow.
Teddy: a contact said he saw him in Knockturn Alley, buying Acromantula seeds.
Lucy: works for the Ministry, didn’t seem very upset at the ‘trial’.
James: G15 million in account. More money came in from a P Jones.
Victoire: was pregnant. Highly unlikely suspect.
Freddy: dodgy phone call after we got back from Essex, looked really shifty.’
He carefully looked through all my added bits. “Anything else, at all weird?”
“Erm, Albus went missing on a train,” I said, smiling at the memory.
He raised an eyebrow. “Do explain.”
“On the way to Hogwarts, I was making fun of Albus trying to disguise his resemblance to Uncle Harry, and then I went for a drink, and when I came back he was gone. I looked everywhere, but he turned up again when the train stopped, and told me he had been there the whole time!” I said indignantly, trying to inject as much emotion into the story as possible to take my mind off my cold hands and hot forehead. “He clearly hadn’t.”
“Write it down.”
“What? Albus is your best friend!”
“Rose, it could be any of us. Hell, it could be you.”
“Who do you want it to be?” I asked, after a moment.
He rubbed his eyes. “Hell, I don’t know. I want it to be Lily, or Roxanne, because I know them less than I do Albus, or Louis. I suppose I don’t need to ask you.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
“I saw the way you looked when we apparated into the woods. ‘Oh shit, it’s Scorpius’ was written all over your face. And even if you didn’t think it was me, then you want it to be me, because I’m not family,” he said bitterly.
I snatched the pad back off him, and made three new additions.
Rose: highly likely. Is badass and awesome, after all.
Albus: disappearing act on a train. Some seriously spooky shit going down.
Scorpius: far too defensive. Definitely hiding something. Maybe another wife hidden away?
Reading over my shoulder, Scorpius cracked up laughing. I shushed him, hiding my own smile.
“I’ll watch for a bit,” I said. “You sleep.”
He tried to lie down as I moved so I had a clear view out of the window, but after about ten minutes of listening to his soft breathing and the occasional car go past, his eyes flew open.
“I can’t sleep.”
“You aren’t trying,” I told him, not taking my eyes off the window.
“Talk to me about something,” he commanded.
“Sleepovers with you suck,” I said, rubbing my face tiredly.
“Yeah, well, you snore.”
I kicked at him, and my foot glanced off his shoulder. “Liar.”
“I speak nothing but the truth,” he said, but he closed his eyes again and rested his head.
It was only five minutes until he frowned.
“What now?” I asked. I was kind of happy I wasn’t left alone while he slept, or the monsters in my thoughts would grow wildly, but I didn’t want him to be so tired he fell asleep when I needed him.
“What do you think of Louisa?” he said finally. His eyes were still shut, and his hands folded across his chest.
“Shouldn’t you ask that before you get married?” I asked. My hands were trembling.
I sighed. Any conversation was better than none. “You don't love her,” I said.
His eyes didn’t open, but his nose crinkled in a frown. “Sorry, I didn't realise you were the relationship expert, Mrs Dalton.”
I ignored him, staring out of the window, and after a moment I felt a pressure on my foot.
“I’m sorry,” Scorpius said after a moment. “I didn’t need to say that.”
I snorted, and there was a long pause.
“You’re right,” he said, “I don't love her.”
I pressed my forehead against the cool window. I was so hot, but still felt shivery. “Then why did you propose?”
He turned his face towards the wall. “We had a one-night thing,” he explained. “I was drunk, I think, and Louisa- well, I don’t know what she was thinking. She's pregnant now, and, well, you saw her dad. Old-school is too modern for him. Louisa insisted I married her, and when I told my parents, they backed Louisa fully.”
“Because we’re running out of money, and they own most of Wessex. Because the Malfoy's are still pureblood scum and she's a Muggle. Because her family has just been introduced to a wonderful, magical world and they want part of it at any costs.”
“And she knows all of that, does she?” I said. My stomach was churning, and my breath fogged up the window. I brushed at the condensation, feeling light-headed.
Scorpius didn't answer.
“You disgust me, Malfoy. You were drunk, and now you are using Louisa and her child as a purse?”
“Since when did you become her number one fan?”
“The point, Malfoy, is that you are using her.”
“No,” he spat, “my family is using her family.”
“There's a difference?”
“Yeah. I'm might be privy to it, but I don't approve.”
“Complicity is guilt.”
“She's pregnant! I would have probably married her anyway.”
I stabbed my finger in his direction. “You. Shouldn't. Marry. Unless. You. Mean. It.” I spat, jabbing him with each word. “Marriage is swearing loyalty and honesty and love, not some meaningless, simplistic thing. It’s commitment which should be honoured.”
“Are you saying I should have abandoned my child?” Scorpius sat up straight, glaring at me.
“No, I’m saying that you shouldn’t marry her. You don’t have to. You can be a father without being part of a family.”
He was silent for a moment. “What’s done is done,” he said, sounding defeated. “If we ever get out of this mess, I’ll make it right.”
“Are there any more skeletons in the closet that I should know about?” I said, after a moment. I pushed my hair back from my sweaty face. “I mean, you’ve got a wife and a kid. Have you got a flock of sheep or a castle, as well?”
“I wish,” he said. “I’d kill for a minty lamb burger.”
I smiled, but not properly. My head hurt more with every movement.
“Who’s Zachariah Dalton, then?” he asked. I didn’t reply. “Come on, who is he? I told you about Louisa.”
“Zach is the past,” I said. “What’s done is done.” I echoed Scorpius’ words faintly.
“The past which has come and testified at our trial, putting you completely in the clear,” Scorpius pointed out. “Why did you marry him?”
I sighed. “Because he was charming and clever and funny and good-looking and... and he told me that he loved me,” I said finally. My mouth tugged into a smile at the memory of those first weeks with Zach.
“He lied.” I reached up and cranked open the window to cool my raging temperature, and shivered in the blast of chilly wind which whistled through the gap. “Do you remember the summer after seventh year? Albus, Lorcan, me and Molly went backpacking around the world.”
Scorpius nodded, looking interested.
“Well, I met Zach in Asia, and he travelled with us for a bit. He was American, and we eventually settled in the US for a couple of weeks- which turned into months. I don’t know, we were young and in love and when Zach proposed, it was natural to say ‘yes’. Albus hardly noticed that we were so serious because he had found a girlfriend-”
“Her name was Natasha,” Scorpius put in. “She had pink hair and she stayed with Albus and me once, and fell out the window. Not the sharpest knife in the drawer.”
“and Molly thought that it was all very romantic,” I continued, “it just seemed that the perfect time, like the holiday could go on forever. Lorcan wasn’t happy about it, but I was happy, so he swallowed it.”
“And then what?”
“Then Lorcan decided to pay Zach a visit at his flat, and discovered it was a fake address, so then he started to do some more digging. It turned out that Zach Dalton had been born Bradley Collins, and he wasn’t training to be a Healer, and he didn’t have family, and he had lied to me about everything.”
“So you divorced him and came home?”
“Pretty much. Lorcan beat Zach up, yelled at me, Molly and Albus, got us all home, and told Mum. She managed to annul the marriage and keep it quiet, and I haven’t seen Zach again, but he’s owled me a couple of times. No-one else knows. Lorcan reckoned that Zach had done it before- got close to people, maybe marriage through lying to them, and then blackmailing for money.”
“That’s terrible,” Scorpius said finally.
“Mhmm,” I mumbled, my face in the icy breeze. “I’m over it now. But marriage is a hard subject to talk about, and Lorcan is ridiculously over-protective.”
“I thought that was just Lorcan normally,” he said, and I laughed softly, keeping an eye on the street below.
Eventually, Scorpius’ breathing slowed, and it was oddly calming. I felt so ill. I pinched the bridge of my nose, and wiped the sweat from my forehead, but soon, lulled by Scorpius’ huffs of air, I fell into a deep sleep as well.
A/N: hello again! So, I had no internet, so naturally I wanted to update. Thanks for sticking with the story, and I hope you liked the insights into Zach and Louisa. Please review!
Chapter 12: hospital, Christmas and a blasé plan
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-Rose: St. Helen’s Hospital
Saturday 25th December, 6.30am
I dreamt I was in a vast, barren landscape, with knee-high dead grass which rippled in a strong wind that didn’t touch me. To my right was fire, a wall of flames a hundred miles high, and to my left was a giant twister, tearing up the grass as it waved in the wind. In front of me was a crevasse in the ground, a great gaping maw which belched black smoke and slowly ate up the ground as it moved towards me, and behind was a tidal wave, powering forwards, tearing up the ground.
I dreamt that Scorpius, Zach, Lorcan and Richie were there, each wanting to pull me in a different direction. Lorcan was walking towards the ravine, tired of my indecision, while Zach wanted to go towards the water. Scorpius was trying to pull me to the fire, but Richie had hold of my hand, and was trying to persuade me to go towards the hurricane.
If I didn’t move, I would be drowned, burnt, swallowed and swept away. But I couldn’t bring myself to move my feet, terrified of the elements bearing down on me. Then, in front of me, Lorcan tumbled into the crevasse with a terrible scream. I tried to pull Richie towards him, to help, but his hand grew colder and colder in mine, and then Richie shattered into tiny shards of ice which were carried away by the wind. I tried to scream, but I couldn’t. The water was getting closer and closer, and Zach was swept up by it, and was carried past me, tossed around like a rag doll. I was only anchored by Scorpius, who looked utterly calm.
“Come on,” he said, and tried to lead me towards the fire, his legs pushing powerfully through the strong current, while I fell over as my feet were washed from underneath me. Only Scorpius’ firm grip around my wrist stopped me from being swept away on the torrent.
“No!” I tried to tell him, but he didn’t listen, just looked at me with a blank, impassive face, and in his brown eyes was the reflection of the dancing flames.
I wrenched my hand from his, and immediately fell. The water carried me closer into the deep crack in the ground. I managed a last look at Scorpius; he was completely engulfed in flames, and then I was swept over the edge, and was falling.
I woke up slowly, feeling shivery. It was dark. I could feel I was lying on something very soft- it couldn’t be a proper bed, could it? I cracked open an eye. On my right sat Scorpius in a chair, a laptop on his knee, and the wand was lying on the bed, next to my legs.
“Scorpius?” I mumbled, squinting.
He looked up from the screen. “Rose!” he said, relief colouring his voice.
“Seriously, Scorpius? Fire? What the hell was that about?”
Scorpius’ eyes were clear and brown, with no flames tinging them red. I shook my head. “It was just a dream.”
“You’re dreaming about me? Rose, I’m a married man.”
I scowled. “You’re an idiot.” I looked around. “Where are we?”
“Hospital.” Scorpius had turned back to his laptop, the glow from the screen lighting his face.
“You needed medical attention.”
I glared at him. “Please elaborate, or I will forced to show you my repertoire of curses.”
Scorpius looked unperturbed, but he slid the wand from the bed into his lap so I couldn’t reach. “You were pretty ill, and I know the Healer at this hospital,” he said. “Apparently you’ve had some sort of complicated infection with your ribs and hypothermia as well. But you should be all fixed.”
I lay back on the pillows. “How long have I been out?”
“A couple of days. It’s Christmas day,” he said.
Christmas. I should be at the Burrow, being thoroughly spoiled by the relatives. I should be listening to Vic and Lily arguing over bathroom time, and I should hear Nana moaning at Grandad for not wearing a tie. I should be Apparating over to Mum’s parents to spend the morning ripping up wrapping paper, playing with their dogs and then bringing them back to the Burrow with us to eat the biggest Christmas dinner in humanity. I should be having my eyebrows being singed by the crackers and the Christmas pudding exploding all over the room. I should be squished next to Lorcan on the magically-expanded sofa after the Scamander’s come over for the present-opening in the afternoon. I should be laughing and becoming ever more tipsy, until James will stand up, swaying, and announce that it’s time for Quidditch. And then I should be accompanying whoever inevitably breaks a bone with Louis to St Mungo’s, because everyone at the Burrow is laughing about how they would ‘do a Lockhart’ if they had to fix it. It felt like there was a massive empty hole in my chest where my family should be.
I wondered what Scorpius’ Christmas traditions were. Did he have a tree and presents and alcohol and cake? From what I had seen of Draco Malfoy, I couldn’t imagine him wearing a paper hat and a knitted reindeer jumper, and Astoria looked like she’d just walked out of Vogue magazine.
I looked around the hospital room, but there were no decorations on the sparse white walls.
“And the Aurors have caught Hugo,” he added, not meeting my eye.
I sat up straight, my mouth falling open. “Hugo? How?”
“The Daily Prophet says that he gave himself up.”
My heart felt like it had stopped. Gave himself up? What? Why?
“I don’t understand,” I choked out.
Scorpius awkwardly patted my leg through the duvet. “It’s the Prophet. Hugo is probably reading it in Barbados, wondering ‘what the hell’ just like us.”
“But he was left on his own, wasn’t he?” I said. “In that list of groups you made, Hugo wasn’t there- but everyone else was.”
Scorpius didn’t even pull out his book to check, so I knew I was right. “Rose-”
“What?” I snapped. I couldn’t believe I had left my baby brother. I hadn’t helped him. Even if he wasn’t at the Ministry, then he was still alone somewhere. He might be hurt.
“Rose, I’m not trying to be a dick, but you can’t afford to think about Hugo right now. We need to think about ourselves, or we won’t be able to help anybody.”
Scorpius was a dick. But one who was right. I rubbed my temples. “Okay. Fill me in on what’s been happening. How did we get here? How haven’t we been caught?”
“I woke up, and saw you were asleep, and realised something was wrong when you didn’t wake up, so I carried you to the nearest hospital-”
“Bullshit. You never carried me. How did we really get here?”
He held up his hands. “Alright, we got a taxi, but we didn’t even have to pay.”
I knew he wanted me to ask, so I did. “Why?”
He smiled smugly. “Manhandling unconscious people into cars is quite hard, and the driver may or may have not had a look up your skirt.”
My death glare rivalled Medusa’s and Scorpius visibly wilted.
“Later, my dear friend, I am going to seriously make you pay,” I said, in a sweetly innocent voice. “What happened after that?”
“Nothing much. I Imperiused Rob- that’s the Healer here- to keep us a secret, and managed to get us a private room. Basically, just watched you drool.”
I self-consciously wiped my cheeks clean.
“Now you’re awake though, we should get out.”
I nodded in agreement. “Where are we going to go?” I asked.
Scorpius looked nonplussed.
“We should get pretty far away from here,” I said, marvelling that we haven’t been caught yet with Scorpius in charge.
I levered myself out of bed, wincing slightly, and shuffled over to a chair where my clothes were. “Turn around,” I instructed Scorpius, as I pulled my hospital nightgown over my head. “Now, can you drive a car?”
-Hermione Weasley: the Burrow
Wednesday 25th December, 8am
The sun was just rising in the east, sending pale tendrils of light across the horizon. Ron and Hermione stood by the chicken coop, under the pretence of feeding the chickens, but they only wanted to spend some time out of the crowded house. Nobody wanted to leave the familiar security of the family home- Luna and Rolf had opened up their home near Ottery St. Catchpole to Draco and Astoria, but the four of them still turned up about midmorning, usually bearing some unusual type of tea in return for sharing their suffering.
Hermione wondered if they had trouble sleeping as well. Since they had all been suspended from their ministry jobs, she found herself drifting aimlessly without purpose. There are only so many times you can clean a house from top to bottom, and they had reached the limit a while ago.
Today was Christmas Day. Her presents for Hugo had been wrapped since mid-August; he had a new winter coat that she’d bought in France, and a blanket with sleeves that she’d seen in one of those Muggle catalogues. Hugo was like a cat- he liked to sleep, eat and be clean.
It was harder to buy for Rose though- she seemed to have no hobbies, or interests, only going away for holidays and breaks with the family or Lorcan. Not for the first time, Hermione wondered if there had been something going on with Lorcan and Rose. It would have been nice to have the Scamander’s as a proper part of the family- although she doubted Rose would marry again.
She wondered if her daughter was okay, if she was safe and warm and if she somehow knew something that they didn’t. Why had they run? It made no sense- unless they were guilty- and Hermione didn’t even want to think about that.
Whatever Rose was doing, Hermione was sure she was doing the right thing.
-Rose: St. Helen’s Hospital car park,
“I don’t understand how you can know how to hot-wire a car, and not know how to drive one,” Scorpius was saying.
“Shut up,” I grunted. Hotwiring a car in real life is a lot different from movie hotwiring- it involves a lot of fiddling under the bonnet, as opposed to sparking wires by the ignition. I was balancing the bonnet on my head as I leant into the engine, and then finally with a vrrooom, the car revved into life.
And before you ask, of course I was hotwiring the most expensive car in the parking lot. My logic is that they can afford to replace it. I swung myself into the passenger seat- Scorpius had apparently been taught to drive by his father-in-law.
“I bet that was a barrel of laughs,” I commented as we sped away, but Scorpius refused to talk about it. He seemed to block off all knowledge of the outside world, drawing in on himself- and me, I suppose. We were what mattered at this moment in time.
“Where are we going?” he asked instead.
“Get onto the motorway,” I told him, “and take the junction off which is marked ‘Fairview Caravan Park’. I have a caravan rented which is full of useful stuff. Hopefully.”
“Hopefully?” he queried, checking his mirrors to overtake a lorry.
“To be on the safe side, we should assume that the Aurors are one step ahead of us at all times,” I said, and Scorpius nodded in agreement.
“I see,” he said. “So they might know about your hidey-spots?”
“Exactly. I don’t think they’ll know about all of them- hell, I’m not even sure I could list all of them, some of them go back years- but it is a strong possibility.”
With some difficulty, and a bit of swerving, which caused a car in the lane next door to beep his horn angrily at us, Scorpius levered the wand out of his pocket. “If it comes to a fight,” Scorpius said, “I think you having the wand might be the best idea.”
And that, folks, is possibly the closest I will ever come to getting a compliment from Scorpius Malfoy.
We pulled into the caravan park not long after. It was old and dilapidated, the sort of place you come to by mistake. The caravans were uncared for and rusty, some had been parked up there so long that grass reached over the wheel arches. We slowly trundled past the caravans until I told Scorpius to stop. He killed the engine.
“Which one is it?” he said.
I pointed to a small low one with a pink dream catcher hanging in the window. “That one,” I said. The caravan was about thirty feet away, and around were plenty of other caravans, ideal for an Auror to jump out of and arrest unsuspecting fugitives.
“What’s the plan then?” Scorpius said.
“I’m going to get out the driver’s door,” I said, my brain working quickly. “I’m going to pretend nothing is wrong, walk up to the caravan, get the stuff and walk back to the car.”
“I see many flaws with this plan,” Scorpius said slowly.
I smacked him. “That’s because I’m not finished.” I passed him the wand back. “You will have a Disillusionment Charm on, and you will have my back. Hopefully, if any Aurors think it’s just me, then they won’t be subtle about attacking. If I get caught, for the love of Merlin’s most baggy underwear, don’t play the hero, just get out.”
“Why aren’t I the one going to the caravan?” he asked.
“Because any Auror with half a brain cell would work out that someone else is with you. They are probably waiting for me, James or Lorcan to turn up, not you.”
Scorpius nodded in agreement, his face hard. “Alright,” he said. He let the back of his seat down so I could shuffle under him to the driver’s seat and he levered himself over me into the passenger seat. I got a whiff of BO and stale clothes, and for the first time realised what Scorpius had done, taking me to the hospital. He’d taken a massive risk for me, and then he had waited for days with me, leaving himself open to risks and been massively inconvenienced personally.
If it had been the other way around, I’m not sure I would have done the same thing. It would have been tempting to leave Scorpius at the door of a hospital and run away.
“Don’t try to get caught,” he said suddenly. “You couldn’t help Hugo that way.”
I gave Scorpius a quick smile. “I wasn’t even thinking of it,” I said. “Don’t worry. I have no intention of going back to prison.”
I slipped out the car, shutting the door softly. The caravan park was quiet, the grass frozen where it was in the shade of the vehicles. I walked towards my caravan confidently, not bothering to look either side of me.
Not for the first time, I was utterly dependant on Scorpius.
I reached the caravan without incident, and carefully shut the door behind me, turning to the cupboards. I pulled a small backpack out of one, and started to fill it quickly with the necessary documents. Under the sink were the false IDs- passports and driver’s licenses. In a cupboard opposite were some maps, and- a lucky break; one of the old prototypes of the Marauder’s Map- I flicked the CD over to read: ‘Diagon Alley’.
In the fridge were a couple of Roxy’s concoctions- I’d have to check the labels later. I filled my bag with everything from tins of soup to packets of hair dye, and then, just as I was doing a final check, I saw a burst of light through the net curtains, which hit another caravan and it exploded. It rocked my caravan, and I lost my balance, falling to the floor.
“Crap,” I swore, keeping below the counters. I tried to peer out through the bottom of the door, but the frosted glass made the shapes outside dark blobs.
I instinctively ducked again as another jet of light sped in the other direction, causing another giant boom. I peeped through the window to see our car on fire, and I clapped my hand over my mouth to stop any sound escaping. Scorpius...
I picked the bag hurriedly and tried to open the door, but I couldn’t. Even when I shoved it with my shoulder. I took a couple of steps back and ran at the door, but the glass only shuddered slightly.
Outside, another caravan, the one to the right of me exploded. Breathing through my nose in an attempt to remain calm, I lashed out with my foot, hitting the space near the lock- but the door didn’t even crack.
My stomach twisted in terror as another caravan caught fire. I could see the Auror now, through the window. He was looking right at me. He was tall and well-built, with dark hair and a leather jacket. He smiled sardonically, and gave me a small wave.
Lazily flicking his wand, he exploded another caravan, this time to my left.
I ducked back down under the counters and opened a drawer. I needed something heavy to smash the glass to get out. I wasn’t entirely sure that this Auror would arrest me at all- it seemed a likely prospect that this caravan would be my fiery grave.
I couldn’t find anything in the drawers, and ended up grabbing the kettle. It was one of the old-duty hob kettles, but as I swung it at a window, it only bounced off, jarring my wrist. I dropped it with a curse, and picked up the toaster, launching it at the same window, but again, it did more damage to the cupboard it rebounded onto.
I was trapped, and it was a well-thought out, vicious trap. I stumbled as the caravan swayed- the Auror had leant heavily against the side.
“Ohh, Weasley!” he called in a high, mocking voice. “Are you a little bit stuck?”
“FUCK YOU!” I yelled at him. Sometimes, temper just has to get the better of you.
“Now now,” he said in the same annoying voice. “Calm down, or I’ll be forced to come get you before back up arrives.”
I forced myself to calm down, running a hand through my ponytail. If he needed back-up, then it was just him. If it was just him, then I could take him alone. I pushed thoughts of Scorpius away. If he was... gone, then I couldn’t do anything. If he was okay, then I still couldn’t do anything for him.
“What are you planning, missy?” the Auror’s voice had turned harsh and cruel. “You’re not going to get past me.”
Then, on the opposite window, the glass frosted up, as if someone invisible had breathed on it. I held my own breath. A question mark appeared in the glass. I gingerly stood, hoping the Auror couldn’t see me, and looked directly out the window. I tapped the glass with my fingertip and shook my head. The glass fogged up again, and another question mark, over the first, was drawn.
What should I do?
-Abner Carrow: the Ministry of Magic
With no daughters and only a bitter ex-wife who had remarried, Abner usually spent his Christmas holiday working. He didn’t have a Christmas dinner, he didn’t have a tree, and the only assistant who had attempted to give him a present one year had been promptly fired.
He told himself that Christmas was a waste of money, a consumerist celebration of trying to get one-up on your family and friends- but the truth was Abner had no family or friends, only colleagues. He had little respect for those either- the people below him he looked on as inferior, and the people above he viewed as obstacles to his own promotion.
His secretary, a pretty black haired woman sat sullenly behind her desk in the cupboard-like office opposite to him, stapling papers with perhaps more force than was required. Abner felt a perverse satisfaction in ruining her Christmas, as he reclined in his comfortable chair.
His fire crackled green, sending up a flurry of emerald sparks. With a wave of his wand, the door to his office shut, so he could only see his secretary’s blurred outline.
He turned to face the fire as a head appeared there. “Yes?”
“Good day, sir,” the head said. “My name is Ernest Macmillian. I’m sorry for the intrusion, but you asked to be informed on the Gringotts case?”
“Yes, I did.”
“I have just received notice that we have secured Rose Weasley, and we are awaiting a team to pick her up.”
“Rose Weasley?” Abner asked, slightly incredulous. His intelligence had outlined her role in the Clan as a kind of grease-monkey, doing the grunt work. He would have expected her to be one of the last ones to be pulled in, given her experience in the field.
“Yes sir, Rose Weasley. We suspect she was with another fugitive- possibly Scorpius Malfoy, who we assume to have killed.”
One down, then. Abner felt no pleasure, like he thought he would. It was similar to ticking items off his shopping list. “Avoid releasing that to the press. If it’s confirmed, I shall inform his family myself.”
“Very good, sir. And also, merry Christmas, sir,” the Auror said.
“Merry Christmas to you too,” Abner said, and the head disappeared. This Christmas wasn’t turning out to be too bad after all. Briefly glancing at his secretary’s outline through the door, it seemed like she had now found some paperwork to do.
Carrow picked up his personal phone, and dialled a number on it. It was picked up on the second ring.
“You’ve heard about the kids then?” the voice on the other side asked, without a preamble.
“An eager twat decided to blow up a pile of caravans in the hunt for them. He had an ID on Rose Weasley, and he now has her trapped in a caravan. The Aurors are on their way to the caravan park now, and so are my men. We’ll get there first, and sort things out.”
“You had better! And Scorpius Malfoy? What of him?”
“Think that was a lucky shot than killed him.” The off-hand, casual tone of the man only served to infuriate Abner further, his good mood gone once he learned of the mess that had been made.
“When I ask for the Clan to die, I don’t mean that I want you to kill them off one by one in an explosive fire-fight,” Carrow hissed down the phone. “How hard can the Killing Curse be?”
“With all due respect, sir, you are hiring me to kill them, and not doing it yourself. I will be personally taking care of the imbecile that found them, don’t you worry.”
“I hope the rest of this disaster is cleaned up as well, or I shall be forced into personally taking care of some imbeciles myself,” Carrow snapped.
The man on the phone chuckled. “When you want an undisciplined rabble to be caught, you use an undisciplined rabble, but you expect for it all to run as smoothly as your office? The Fraternity is doing all it can with limited resources and hardly any orders. We want to get rid of the Clan as much as you. If your spy could be a bit more forthcoming with information, we’d be faster.”
“You’d be faster if you didn’t blow up caravans. Make sure Scorpius Malfoy is dead, and kill Rose Weasley. Then find the others- quietly.”
Abner hung up and breathed deeply, pinching the bridge of his nose.
In the courtroom, as the ‘guilty’ verdict had been read out, he had thought he had the Clan exactly where he wanted them. He thought his plan had been executed perfectly.
And then all hell had broken loose, and the children had escaped.
His elaborate plan, foiled.
Now he had to rely on criminals like the Fraternity- really, they were no better than pirates. He made a mental note to shut them down once they had done his work.
He let his head fall into his hands. He just wanted the kids dead now, at any cost.
A/N: *ducks* please don't be mad! I haven't updated because of exams, but now my exams are over, I'm actually on holiday, and updating in an internet cafe. That is dedication, and love for you, my wonderful readers.
I hope you liked it, and reviews are always given a loving home with me.
Chapter 13: kettles, death and a lie-low plan
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-Rose: Fairview Caravan Park
Saturday 25th December, 9.30am
“What are you trying, missy?” the Auror said. I could see his hands cupping his face as he tried to peer through the frosted glass door.
Ha. That glass works two ways, dickhead.
I resumed my banging. To be honest, I wasn’t really ‘trying’ anything. I only wanted the Auror to get distracted with me so that the still-invisible Scorpius had a chance.
I slammed the kettle into the floor again, aiming for the same dent I had already made.
The kettle ploughed a hole into the floor, taking me by surprise and I nearly fell onto my face. There was a space of about two inches square, from which I could see the dead grass underneath.
That was unexpected.
I jammed the spout in the hole, and, twisting it, a chunk more floor came up. The Auror had stopped banging on the door, and from his silhouette, it seemed that he was searching in his pockets for something.
Probably a key, and then he would open the door and I’d be done for. Where the hell was Scorpius?
Another hunk of floor came up, and I managed to get my hands in the hole, enlarging it further. It was about a foot wide and getting bigger quickly.
He opened the door, charging in. I was ready though, and swung the kettle at his face. It collided with his nose with sickening crunch at the same time he was grabbed from behind.
I took advantage of his wide-eyed confusion by slithering through the hole in the floor like a rabbit returning to its burrow, pulling my backpack behind me. The jagged floor snagged on my clothes and I grazed my elbows, but I landed in a safe heap under the caravan. There was no way he’d follow me through- he was built like a bloody Beater.
I crawled on my stomach to the edge of the caravan, and then hopped to my feet. The Auror was grappling with a slight haze in the air, and then his head snapped back as Scorpius got in a direct punch to the face. The haze jumped off the Auror, and headed straight for me. An invisible hand grabbed mine and pulled me off to the right, further into the caravan park.
“Are you alright?” I shouted.
"Fine,” Scorpius gasped next to me. “You?”
I didn’t reply, but pulled him behind a caravan and scooted underneath it as the air filled with the familiar cracks of Apparition. The grass next to me flattened as Scorpius lay down too. Up close, his Disillusionment charm looked like water flowing over clear glass, distorting the images you could see through Scorpius.
“What’s the plan?” he asked, his voice barely a whisper.
“I don’t know,” I said, breathless, peering out underneath the caravan. All I could see was feet, pacing. I shuffled forwards slightly, craning my neck. “Where’s the wand? If we could both be invisible-”
“I don’t know,” Scorpius said shortly. “I lost it.”
My head fell into my arms. “You lost it,” I said.
“It’s not like I meant to,” he said, immediately starting on the defensive.
“We’re going to make a break for it,” I said, cutting him off.
“We’re just going to have to run. It’s either getting caught lying down or running. At least if we run, we’ve got a half-chance of getting away.”
The ankles and boots were getting closer, robes swishing over the ground. I pointed behind us, and dropped my voice lower.
“We’ll run that way, into the cover of the trees. Just keep running. Don’t stop, and don’t look back. Okay?”
“Okay.” Scorpius barely breathed the word. “When?”
I waited a second, for the pair of shoes closest to me to turn away. As soon as I could see the heels, I whispered, “Now!”
I shuffled backwards, and Scorpius wriggled back as well. As soon as I was clear of the underside, I stood up and ran, weaving through the caravans. I could hear Scorpius’ feet pounding the ground next to me.
There was a shout behind us as the Aurors saw, and a spell shot past me, sending up a spray of earth. I swerved over to the left, seeing the treeline through the caravans. I could only hope Scorpius was following.
“Wait!” the hoarse shout of the first Auror cut through the other yells. “He’s invisible! It’s not just Weasley!”
Crap. Scorpius should have hit him with the kettle. That sucker broke through a caravan floor. I’m pretty sure it could have knocked someone out for a decent while. The Aurors sent out a variety of spells, aiming wide in an attempt to hit Scorpius too. I twisted my head from side to side, but I couldn’t see the tell-tale shimmer in the air which showed he was running alongside me. My heart was hammering in my chest and my breath came in quick, short gasps, but I still managed to clear the bushes on the fringe of the forest with a single leap. Inside the trees, the sunlight was tinged with green and it was far colder in the shade, making the bursts of light from spells even brighter. Fortunately, it is incredibly hard to shoot accurately while running and most of the spells went wide, although a few came close enough for me to shy away.
I ducked to avoid a low branch, and carried on running. The trees were sparse, so I angled to the right, where I could see the trees were thicker. Since I couldn’t see Scorpius, I trusted that he would follow me. The only reason I was keeping ahead of the Aurors was that they were at a disadvantage. They were trying to run and fire at us the same time, which meant they weren’t running as fast as they could, nor could they aim as accurately. Plus, they weren’t running for their life, which I always find adds an extra burst of speed.
I broke through into the thicker parts of the wood and had to slow down, for fear of tripping. I still managed to run at a decent pace, however, despite my shortness of breath. Behind me, the Aurors also run into the thicker part and I could hear muffled swearing as they hit branches and fell over the undergrowth. A jet of light came dangerously close to my head, forcing me to the right, but I could tell I was losing them as I crashed through the trees.
Finally, I stopped, leaning against a tree to catch my breath. My lungs felt like they were on fire and I took great heaving gasps of air. The noise of the Aurors was distant for the most part, but I could hear one closer to me. I took another shuddering breath. I was knackered. There was no way I could go any further, and definitely not outrun somebody. I needed to hide out somewhere, to get some energy back. Then I could regroup with Scorpius...
Scorpius. Where was he? I strained my ears in the muffled silence of the thick forest, but all I could hear was the Auror closest to me, barging his way through the bushes.
I glanced up at the tree I was leaning on. Make like a monkey, I told myself. I crossed my fingers and touched them to my lips once for luck, a sign I had seen Lorcan do more times than I could count, and then I reached up for a branch, and clambered, slowly, painfully, quietly, up the tree.
I managed to get into the first layer of leaves easily enough. In all honesty, it was easier than climbing a drainpipe- there were more holds, and they were bigger too. I sat with my back to the trunk, hitching my legs up onto the branch. I wasn’t entirely sure how I would get down, but I was pretty sure it would be painful. Then- I held my breath and re-crossed my fingers as the Auror blundered underneath me.
I tipped my head back against the tree, exhaling loudly once I was sure the Auror had gone. At least everyone else wouldn’t be having any problems with the Ministry at the moment, I thought. It seemed like the entire Auror office was in this stupid forest. Seriously? Who even had forests anymore? I twanged an imaginary bow. I felt like Robin Hood, only less ‘giving to the poor’.
I was jerked out of my –quite frankly, weird- thoughts by an inhuman howl of pain. I sat bolt upright on my branch. Scorpius. The noise echoed through the trees, and some birds near me took flight, startled. I watched them fly away as a deep-throated cheer followed the cry. It must have been Scorpius.
I glanced in the opposite direction. Now would be an excellent opportunity for me to get as far away as possible, while the Aurors were distracted. I swung a leg over the branch, so I could slide down and set off again.
What could I do for Scorpius anyway? My own words echoed in my head: If I’m caught, for the love of Merlin’s most baggy underwear, don’t play the hero, just get out... Just keep running. Don’t stop, and don’t look back.
I wouldn’t expect him to help me.
But he would anyway.
He shouldn’t have helped after I’d been stuck in the caravan. He should have left the second the car had been blown up. He shouldn’t have hung around to take me to a Healer. But he had, and it meant I had a horrible guilty feeling at the thought of leaving him behind now.
I swore loudly, and slid down the trunk, landing with a thump and twisting my ankle painfully. I kissed my crossed fingers again, hoping against hope that Lorcan’s stupid lucky charm worked, pushed the horrible feeling in my stomach away, which told me to run far, far away from the nasty bad people, and set off again, treading softly.
-Abner Carrow; the Burrow
Sunday 26th December
He knocked on the door loudly, his knuckles rapping against the peeling wood. There was no answer, so he knocked again. This time, the door opened. Molly Weasley stood in the doorway, her iron-grey hair straggling down past her ears, and sunken cheeks in a pasty face.
“Yes?” she asked, her voice subdued.
Harry Potter appeared behind her. “Carrow!” he said, with slightly more energy than Molly. His hair was stuck up over his forehead, like he’d slept on his face. It clearly showed his lightening scar. Carrow’s insides twisted with hatred.
Abner took off his pointed wizard’s hat, and turned it in his hands. “I’d like to speak to Mr and Mrs Malfoy,” he said, making sure his own voice was low. “I believe they are here? I’m afraid I’ve got some bad news.”
The blood drained from Potter’s face and he swallowed, his Adam’s apple bobbing nervously in his throat. Carrow waited on the doorstep, keeping his mournful expression in place carefully, despite his irritation. A cold winter wind swirled around his legs and tugged at his scarf. He shuffled slightly, and it seemed to snap Molly and Harry out of their shock. Molly disappeared to fetch the Malfoy’s while Harry led Carrow into the small, and at present, unoccupied sitting room.
“Is it- is it certain?” he asked, as he turned to leave, his voice hoarse.
Carrow nodded respectfully. “I’m afraid so. We did everything we could.”
Draco and Astoria entered, and Harry quickly left. Abner heard a snippet of Molly Weasley telling someone to ‘give them some privacy’ in an already tear-choked voice.
He turned his attention to the couple in front of him. They held each other’s hands tightly- Carrow could see the strain in the tendons. They were both very pale, and had black rings of sleeplessness under their eyes.
“I’m very sorry to be here with such news,” Abner began in a sombre tone, folding his own hands on his lap. “But I’m afraid that your son, Scorpius, was confirmed as deceased yesterday afternoon.”
Their faces were hard, unmoving stone; but the lines etched by worrying only seemed to get deeper. Astoria blinked once. “Scorpius?” she asked, her voice barely above a whisper.
“Yes. I’m deeply sorry for your loss,” he said. He studied their faces. Shock, disbelief, denial, it was all there. He wondered absent-mindedly how long until they cracked. Scorpius was, after all, their only son and heir.
“He was hit by a stray spell as he tried to run from Aurors,” Abner continued, forcing his voice to stay soft and sympathetic. “We tried our best to save him.”
Tears had begun to slide down Astoria’s face as she stared ahead blankly. She tried to wipe them away, but they fell faster and faster, splashing onto her skirt.
Draco seemed stunned. He stood up. “Thank you for telling us,” he said. His voice cracked. He had gone even paler; something Carrow didn’t even think was possible.
“I’ll see myself out,” Abner said. “I am very sorry for your loss.” He got up, keeping his sympathetic expression in place, and left them to their immense grief.
“Thank you for coming yourself,” Harry said, leading Carrow to the door.
Abner squeezed the younger man’s shoulder in an act of attempted reassurance. “It was the least I could do.” He shrugged back on his coat. “I’m sorry I didn’t have better news. I don’t want to push them, but they’ll need to officially identify the body, and I’ll try to hold the press off for as long as I can.”
Harry nodded. “Thank you so much for everything you’re doing for us. It is good to know there is someone we can trust.” He sounded so genuine, so trusting, that Carrow pitied him for a moment. But it quickly passed.
Carrow gave a half-smile, and shut the door behind himself, walking away from the ramshackle house, the tails of his coat flapping behind him. Fifteen left.
He wondered how many visits to the Burrow it would take before they learnt to fear his knock.
-Rose: the flat above ‘Tracey’s Boutique’, York
Tuesday 28th December
I sat on the window ledge, looking out over the grey city. Fog hung visibly in the air, and everywhere looked damp and cold, not like Christmas had just passed. In the street below me, pedestrians walked with their heads down and hoods pulled up, looking utterly miserable. I pulled my tatty tartan blanket closer around my shoulders. Tracey, the flat’s owner, was a friend of Roxy’s, and I hadn’t known where else to go. And now, I was just waiting.
I didn’t know what I expected, when I went back to save Scorpius, but I hadn’t expected that. I folded the paper I had been reading up, and tossed it into the corner of the room. It landed headline up; ‘SCORPIUS MALFOY: DEAD’. I didn’t need to reread the article, I already knew it off by heart. According to the Prophet, Scorpius Malfoy had been killed by a stray defensive spell while engaged in a fire-fight with Ministry officials. I hoped that wasn’t what his family had been told, as it couldn’t be further from the truth. At least, I was pretty sure fire-fights didn’t involve one party running away, wandless. Fire had to be returned.
I couldn’t imagine the pain Draco and Astoria would be going through now. I hoped they didn’t know, at least not yet. I badly wanted to see them- at this moment, I wanted to see them more than my own parents. I was distracted from my thoughts by a cough and a groan from the small bed in the corner of the room. I held my breath, looking at the shapeless mass under the grey blanket. I got the colourful one because I could appreciate it.
And then Scorpius sat upright, scaring me half to death. “Merlin,” he groaned. “I feel like I’ve been through four rounds with a troll.”
I couldn’t help myself, I bounded across the room in two leaps and hugged him. He tapped my back.
"It’s hard to breathe, Rose.”
I let go, and smacked him across his head, probably harder than I should have. “You were dead!” I half-screamed at him.
“Ow! God! I was what?”
“Dead! You know, heart not beating, not breathing? Dead!”
He looked at me, eyes wide and mouth open. “Fuck.”
“I KNOW!” I hugged him again, but more gently, feeling the warm, aliveness of his body, his beating heart and breathing lungs.
The pain and confusion and shock and horror that I felt when I saw Scorpius, lying face-down in a clearing, scorch-marks across his clothes and burned into his skin- it was indescribable. They hadn’t even left an Auror behind to guard him, they were so sure he was dead.
I had pounded on his chest and cried and tried to force air into his lungs, surprising myself with the depth of my feelings for Scorpius. Why should I care if he lived or died? I had nearly not returned for him. And then, after what felt like years but in reality was less than a minute, Scorpius had sucked in a large breath, his brown eyes flying open.
That had just made me cry harder, in relief. Scorpius had saved my life twice, and then I had thought I couldn’t even repay half his debt.
“How did we get here?” he asked, bringing me back to the present. I shook my head, trying to rid myself of the evil images which had preyed on me since the woods. “And where are we?”
“We’re above a shop in York. After I... got you back, you were half-awake, and we walked here. When we got here, you crashed and this is the first time you’ve properly woken up. Don’t you remember?”
“Nope,” he cradled his head in his hands. “I have got a massive headache.”
I passed him some paracetamol tablets and a glass of water, trying to act normal despite the fact my hands were shaking. Now I had Scorpius back, it was like my emotions had caught up with me.
“Tracey is a Muggle,” I said apologetically. “So you’ll have to take these until she comes back. She’s out at the moment, trying to get us some wands.”
Scorpius nodded, trying to take it all in. “What’s that?” he asked, pointing to the newspaper I had discarded. The headline was still obvious.
“Dead?” he asked, low and urgent. It was the same voice that he demanded for his wedding ring back, so long ago in the wood. I instinctively took a half-step back. He sounded dangerous. “Do my parents think I am dead?” he said, his words clipped and precise.
Crap. If I said yes, then he’d want to go talk to them. If I lied- well, then I was lying. Fortunately, I was saved from the door opening downstairs. I pushed Scorpius back onto the bed, and held a finger to my lips. He glowered at me, as I picked up the handily placed cricket bat and held it over my shoulder, poised for batting.
“Only me!” called a girly voice, and in slipped Tracey. She was everything I despised about women, to be perfectly honest. Fake boobs, artificially blonde and straightened hair and caked-on make-up. But she was hiding us, and pretty well to be honest, so I’d keep my comments to myself.
She pulled out two wands from her jeans pocket, and presented them to me with a flourish.
“How did you get those?” I asked, astonished. I may have asked her to get wands, but that didn’t mean I expected her to actually do it.
“Oh, I went grave-digging with my mate from up North,” she said, splaying her fingers to show dirt-encrusted nails. “It ruined my manicure. Don’t worry though,” she said, noticing my sudden aversion to the wands. “They were both from doddery old witches who died naturally.”
Tracey went grave-digging? Mother of God.
She turned her attention to Scorpius. “And how are you, handsome?” she asked. “Feeling better?”
Scorpius let Tracey inspect the scorched skin on his back underneath his bandages. To my relief, it looked new and pink and healthy again.
“What can I say?” Tracey said, looking proud of herself. “Roxy taught me all she knows.”
I passed one of the wands to Scorpius, keeping the longer, thinner one for myself. It felt nicer in my hand.
Then the door opened again, and a tall, well-built man entered, his frame blocking the door. After a heart-beat of pure, unadulterated panic, because oh-my-god-it-was-an-Auror-and-he-was-in-the-flat-and-he-had-his-wand-out-and-Scorpius-was-injured-and-I-was-freaking-out- I swallowed down my fear and aimed a Stunning Spell at him, but he deflected it with ease and then my wand and Scorpius’ flew out of our hands.
“Quick reactions,” he said approvingly. “If I’ve found you, then the Aurors must be about four hours behind me. We need to move.”
Scorpius and I just stared at him. He wasn’t an Auror?
“I’m a private detective,” he said, answering my thoughts. “I said, we need to move.”
Chapter 14: detectives, some more secrets, and a Rose-in-charge plan
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-Rose: ‘Tracey’s Boutique’, York
Tuesday 28th December
The private detective –if that was who he really was- didn’t really give us much choice: but I inexplicably wanted to trust this hard-faced man.
“Now,” he said, sounding exasperated. He stuffed our newly acquired wands in his belt, and strode over to Scorpius’ bed. “Can he be moved?” he asked Tracey.
“Most probably,” she answered, not looking at all perturbed at the stranger. She trusted him, it seemed.
Scorpius looked at me, and I half-nodded. The stranger hadn’t killed us yet, although he did have our wands. Scorpius lifted himself half out of bed, and swung an arm around the man’s broad shoulders. He stood shakily, leaning heavily on the stranger.
“I’ve got you,” the stranger said. “Come on, my car is only just outside.”
He gestured at the door, and I hurried to open it for them as he helped Scorpius down the stairs and through the front door. Scorpius winced slightly in pain with every jerky movement. Tracey was already downstairs, and she passed me a large rucksack, which bulged unhealthily. “Just a few things,” she said, looking startlingly different. She looked softer, kinder- sad, almost.
I shouldered the rucksack, and hugged her. “Thank you so much, Tracey. We’d both be dead without you,” I said, and I meant it.
The stranger came back in. “I’m sorry, Tracey,” he said, and he lifted his wand to her forehead, drawing out silvery memories. With a whispered word, she fell backwards, senseless, but he managed to catch her before she hit the floor.
“Muggles tend to tell people things too often,” he said, his voice filled with regret. “She knows she’s helped though, and she’ll do it again, if needs be.”
He sighed. “Get in the car,” he told me, his voice gruff, and I backed away. In the street outside a sleek red sports car was parked up, opposite the shop. Scorpius was sprawled over the back seat, so I opened the door and climbed in the passenger side. We were joined by the stranger seconds later, who adjusted his mirror before speeding off.
“Muggle transport is usually safer- what the Ministry doesn’t understand is hard for it to monitor,” he explained, accelerating still further, setting off a speed camera. I neglected to mention it, as the stranger barely gave it a second glance.
“Okay,” I said finally, when I had had enough of the heavy silence. “Who the hell are you, what the hell are you doing, and where the hell are we going?”
In the back, Scorpius snorted at my eloquence, and the man raised his eyebrows.
“My name is Theodore Nott, and I’m a private detective. Currently working off my own back to help some silly kids that got into trouble, and we’re going to meet the others, who are at a house I’ve borrowed in the Midlands. We’ll be there in about two hours.”
“The others?” I asked, my heart leaping into my throat. Did he mean...?
Theodore Nott gave me a sideways glance. “Yes,” he said. “Currently, I’ve managed to round up all three of the Potter kids, as well as Lysander and Hugo.”
“You have?” I could hardly contain my emotions. This was amazing, this was incredible... my little brother was okay, he was safe, and he was with our cousins...
I felt Scorpius’ hand on my shoulder, and I squeezed it. “Thank you so much, Mr Nott,” I said, my voice slightly breathless with relief and gratitude.
“I’ve also seen Roxanne at Tracey’s... that’s why I thought of checking there again. It was a lucky break to find you. Roxy decided not to come with me though,” he said, trailing off, his brow furrowed in thought.
“How was Roxy?” I ventured to ask.
At this, Theodore Nott smiled. “She seemed as happy as a Niffler in Gringotts when I saw her. She hasn’t seen a single Auror, and she’s managed to keep a very low profile. Even had the cheek to tell me I was doing my job wrong.”
I grinned as well. That sounded a lot like Roxy. I looked into the back seat to check on Scorpius, but he had already fallen asleep, his mouth gaping wide open like a tunnel.
“Since Scorpius was reported to be dead, I’ve been putting all my effort into finding you, Rose. I couldn’t imagine what you’d be going through, and I wanted to make sure you weren’t caught, at least. James would never have forgiven me.”
“Thank you,” I said softly. This man I had never even met was willing to risk his life to help me and my family. Words couldn’t express how grateful I was, and how touched.
“However,” he said, turning sombre, “I’m afraid I also have some bad news. In the past two days, Freddy and Louis have both been caught.”
My hand went involuntarily to my mouth. Freddy, my lazy, layabout Freddy, and clean, crisp and happy Louis- they were back in the cold dank cells of the Ministry.
“My information is a bit better than the Prophet, but I still might be wrong,” he continued. “Don’t give up hope, Rose,” he added. He must have seen how close to tears I was.
I pressed the heels of my hands to my eyes, stopping the tears that threatened. In this warm car, where I felt safe, all the emotions that I had been supressing threatened to rise again.
“I’ll explain better when we get there,” he said, in a softer tone. “You should try to sleep as well.”
The last thing I saw before I closed my eyes was Nott, setting our wands on the dash, within my easy reach. At ease, I allowed myself to relax and drift off.
-Rose: House Pleasant,
Tuesday 28th December, 11.30pm
I sat on the small balcony on the roof, looking up at the stars. Theodore had been right, it was a beautifully clear night, and the full moon was huge and low in the sky. Scorpius sat next to me, his rich golden hair almost glowing in the moonlight. Downstairs, I could hear Lysander and Hugo playing a loud game of Exploding Snap. Their carefree attitude to what was going on was unfathomable.
"This feels weird," Scorpius said next to me, and I knew his thoughts were similar to mine. I hummed in response. Scorpius and I had both nearly died, and now we were expected to lie back and let Theo do all the grunt work. It didn't sit well with me, putting all our eggs in one basket, so to speak.
When we'd arrived, sleepy and confused, it had been a blur of noise and excitement and crying. Now it was still and calm. Scorpius and I had eaten a proper meal, we’d had hot showers, we had clean clothes, and we were both fairly fresh and bright-eyed from our sleeps in the car. We didn’t need to keep watch. I was allowed put down my wand for a second, to take a second to zone out. And it felt wrong.
“I'm going downstairs," I said softly. Scorpius got up from his seat as well.
“I'll come too,”
We walked down together, and then Scorpius went to find Albus. I wandered over to Theo. "Where's Lily?" I asked. I needed a girl to talk to about everything. I had been so desperate that I would have confided all in Tracey, except she scared the shit out of me in a very girly way.
"She's gone out for a walk," Theodore said. "To look at the stars, I think."
From across the room, Scorpius and I shared an incredulous look. Look at the stars? I sneaked a peek over Theodore's shoulder. He was working at a computer with James. I watched as they scrolled across pages and pages of information, eyes flicking back and forth as they searched. It was quite therapeutic, watching them work.
Then James jumped out of his seat, punching both fists in the air with a triumphant yell, the same way he used to when he scored a goal for the Cannons. "You've found it?" Theodore asked, and his voice brought over Lysander and Hugo.
"He's found it?"
"Found what?" I asked, as Albus and Scorpius ran into the room as well, the former's eyes excited.
"James has just found the records for Gringotts.”
I frowned. I failed to see how this was helpful, but Scorpius looked especially interested. “Vaults 604, 783 and 930?” he asked.
“The very same. Alright, so 604 is the one we broke into to get to the Fraternity’s, and then the Fraternity’s vault was 783.”
He pointed at the screen. “See, this shows that the Fraternity visited their vault and didn’t take anything out or in, but the vault registered a difference in weight.”
“Weight?” Albus asked.
“They have to monitor the weight or the spells surrounding the vault can break or lose effectiveness,” Theo chipped in. “In this case, the weight was the Fraternity putting in the gargoyle.”
“So we know the gargoyle weighs three tons.”
I held up my hand. “Wait. Three tons? We lifted that almost easily.”
“Curiouser and curiouser,” said Albus, but Scorpius looked like he’d already figured this one out.
James smiled. “Just bear with me. Now, the other vault that was broken into; 903, also registered a substantial decrease in weight- almost half a ton of gold. That gold was distributed into our accounts and such the like to frame us, but what is interesting is where that statue ended up,” he said. “Through the weight, you can find out where it goes. Myself and Fred dropped it off that night in a warehouse, and by the morning, it had gone.”
James turned back to the glowing screen, and swatted at a moth. “So where did it go? Well, I don’t know everywhere it went, but the night we were arrested, vault 903 registered an increase of three tons. It only stayed there one night, but it was there.”
There was silence. “So the owner of that vault is most probably the guy orchestrating this whole thing?” Albus asked.
Scorpius nodded. “And they lied to us about not being able to use magic on it. We should have worked that out earlier.”
Albus frowned. “No,” he said, “I asked Lorcan about it, and Lorcan said that if the gargoyle already had magical properties, then you couldn’t risk any more spells on it.”
Theo shook his head. “That sounds like bullshit to me, and I’ve heard a lot of it.”
“Anyway,” said James. “Who owns vault 903?” There was a pause. “Red?”
“Who owns it?”
“What? How am I supposed to know?” I asked, confused.
“The night you showed us your memory of the bar and the security guard, you and Lily mentioned the name of the owner,” James said, looking frustrated. I could understand. So close, and yet still so far.
Albus nodded. “I remember you saying that as well.”
“But I don’t remember everything I say!” I protested, but something else was niggling at the back of my mind, something that happened the day after Freddy’s birthday bash. “Wait...” I said slowly, holding a finger up to silence James. “PI Jones.”
James looked at me, his mouth open. “How- what?”
“PI is private investigator,” I said, feeling pretty chuffed with myself for working that out. “Right? You’ve known Theo for ages, and that’s how you knew he’d help you, and you’d be safe here.”
“How dare you!” he said. James looked livid. “You’ve been spying on me?”
“It was an accident,” I snapped back. “I’m not the one who was helping the ‘other side’,” I spat. Those were always James’ words for people who worked in law enforcement. The other side. Even Teddy and Albus worked for the ‘other side’.
Theodore stepped in between us- a good thing, considering my wand had somehow jumped into my hand. “James helped me invaluably with information which didn’t regard you in the slightest. I swear, I never even knew that there was such a thing as ‘the Clan’ before this whole court case, when I did some digging. And I nearly turned James away when he turned up asking for my help, because he lied to me as well. So calm down, please, and let’s focus on the situation at hand.”
I stuffed my wand away, angry with myself as well for rising so quickly. I wasn’t always this quick to anger. “Jones?” I asked, attempting a normal tone of voice.
Theodore shrugged. “It’s a common enough surname, but not too common. Anyway, can you remember the name?”
I rubbed my face. “Won’t Lily know? Can’t we wait for her to get back?”
“I think she might be a while yet,” said Theo.
James had gone back to angrily tapping at the computer, as I narrowed my eyes at Theodore. His nonchalance about Lily wasn’t right, and that just-walked-over-your-grave, sixth sense was tingling.
“Okay, I’ve got the records for the Ministry holding cells as well,” James said, leaning back in his chair and chewing on the end of his pencil. “Really,” he said, “If the Ministry are going to put everything on databases, they need to invest in some better security. Even a basic firewall would be handy.”
Albus politely coughed.
“Oh yeah, anyway. So, here are the records. Look, can you see Hugo’s records show he should have been with us the whole time?”
“And I wasn’t, I was cooped up on my own for a freaking month and a half,” he said, scowling.
“While we had a blast,” I said, elbowing him gently.
“Actually, this isn’t all that interesting,” James said disappointedly. He scanned the screen for a bit longer, eyebrows furrowed. “Rose, did you know you had forty seconds over the allocated time with Auntie Hermione and Uncle Ron?”
“Yeah, I was told by a very pissed off Ernie Macmillian,” I said, squinting at the screen. “Wait- what does that mean?”
James’ eyes followed my finger, pointing at Lily’s name. “It means she was discharged from custody twice.”
“I didn’t notice her leave,” I said.
James shook his head slowly. “Neither did I.”
Scorpius shrugged, and Albus looked worried. “What does this mean?” he asked.
I turned, and looked at Theodore who was shutting the curtains. “Do you know?” I asked.
He shrugged indifferently. “Nope.”
“Liar,” I said, the word out of my mouth before I could stop it. I fixed him with a hard gaze. I was ninety-nine percent sure there was something up with Lily that he knew about.
But with all due credit, he didn’t keep up with the lie.
“I’m afraid that’s not my secret to tell,” he said gently. “And when she gets back from her walk, if she still doesn’t want to explain, then you should respect that choice.”
James’ face went from confusion to worry to scared to relief and then he was back to confused within a matter of seconds.
Theodore clapped James on the back. “I’d tell you if I was concerned about your or her safety. Don’t worry.”
I relaxed. I did trust Theo, I did, but it was hard to have complete and utter faith in anyone. Scorpius and I had fought a little too much for that. Then, suddenly, I froze.
“Did you just hear that?” I said, whirling around.
“Hear what?” said Hugo, who had just set up a new game of Snap.
“Someone called my name.”
Theodore shook his head, and Scorpius and Albus wandered off again. I sat down at the computer, and opened up the internet, but I didn’t know what I was looking for. Then, I heard it again. Theodore put his hands on my shoulders.
“I heard it then too,” he whispered, leaning down. “It was coming from out the front. Pretend you don’t hear it, I’ll go check it out.”
I nodded, and watched him go out of the room by the corner of my eyes.
And then the front room exploded. Theodore staggered backwards out of the room, his arm covering his face. “Crap!” he half-yelled.
I ran forwards and pulled him back, adrenaline already thumping through my body.
“Come out, come out wherever you are!” a familiar voice called. “You should consider that a warning shot.”
I rolled my eyes. Men and their dramatics. “Consider us warned,” I muttered, too low for them to hear me.
Scorpius looked at me in sudden horror and realisation. “That’s Richie,” he said in an undertone.
“Who?” said Theodore, patting at his sleeve, which had caught fire. “There are bloody loads of them out there.”
“Did they see your face?” I asked, pulling back from the windows. Outside had suddenly gone eerily quiet in the aftermath of the fireball. Only a few small blazes remained alight in the remnants of the front room.
Theo shook his head. “I doubt it.”
“And is there anything to connect this house to you?” I pressed.
“You’re taking Hugo, and leaving. Right now. We’ll catch up to you.”
Hugo’s mouth dropped open. “Rose! I want to fight!”
“You are still just a kid, Hugh. I’m sorry,” I said. The sooner I could get him out of danger, the better. Mum would kill me if anything happened to him.
He looked utterly outraged, but that only served to fuel my conviction that I was right. “Hughie,” I said, and hugged him properly for a second, like I hadn’t since we were both small. “You’re a thinker. You need to find out what’s going on. I have every faith in you.”
He set his jaw. “Fine.” He didn’t look happy about it, but I had already thought I’d lost him once. I’d rather have an angry Hugo than a dead one.
“What about Lily?” James asked.
Theo smiled, a quick, tight smile. “Trust me,” he said. “She’ll be fine. And I’ll keep Hugo safe too, don’t worry.”
Albus tested the air with his wand. “They’ve already laid out an Anti-Apparating Spell,” he said.
“Okay,” I said, instinctively taking charge. I might not be the cleverest person in the world on a normal day, but give me a life or death scenario and I’m pretty damn quick. “We’ll provide cover fire so the two of you can get safely out, and then we’ll get out and meet you. You run to the tree line, then Apparate.”
“Where?” asked Hugo.
“There’s an abandoned swimming pool outside Cardiff, to the north,” Theo said. “We’ll wait there every night for five minutes at eight pm.”
I nodded. “Good plan. They’re going to have realised their mistake with Scorp and I at the caravan park- if they muck around, we’re going to get away. So they’ll probably be coming in hard and fast, and we need to be counter them equally as hard,” I said, talking fast in case they launched another ‘warning’ shot. “Now, we’re going to split up. Scorpius, you’re with me, Lysander and Albus, and James, you’re on your own.”
“Why?” he snapped immediately. “I want to be with Albus.”
“If you go with Albus, you’ll get yourself killed trying to look after him, when he’s perfectly capable of looking after himself. Him and Lysander will make a good team. And frankly, Scorpius is the worst dueller out of us all, and I can afford to keep an eye on him.”
I looked at James sternly, daring him to argue with me. Cleverly, he kept his mouth shut.
“Scorp and I will stay down here; James, you’re up on the balcony; Al and Lysander, you’re on the other side of the house on the top floor.”
I tapped a Disillusionment Charm onto both Hugo and Theodore, and then James wordlessly Vanished the glass in the window before he crept upstairs, following Lysander and Albus.
I gave Hugo another quick hug, before crouching down and assuming my battle position. I saw the rucksack that Tracey had given me, and grabbed it, slinging it over one shoulder. I hadn’t yet checked what was inside it, but I was even more grateful than I was earlier.
I breathed in and out deeply concentrating on what was at hand. As soon as Hugo and Theo were out the window and running, we’d open fire.
And then- “Rose?”
It was Richie again. I’d almost forgotten.
Scorpius tapped me on the shoulder. “He’s not bad,” he whispered.
“What?” I hissed.
“I swear to you that Richie is not a bad person. I’ve known him since I was sixteen. He’s not a bad person.”
I felt like slamming my head against the wall. I couldn’t try to factor in Richie. “If we can get him out of here as well, we will,” I whispered back. “But I can’t promise anything.”
Scorpius nodded grimly. “I understand. Thank you.”
“Rose?” his voice sounded out again, plaintive and confused, contrasting heavily with the mocking tone of earlier.
I gritted my teeth and nodded to where Hugo and Theo stood. If I squinted, I could tell that Theodore had his hand firmly gripping my brother’s collar. The air shimmered as they climbed through the window, and I twisted around, aiming at the first Auror I could see.
A/N: another chapter, another fight. I swear, they cannot get a break. (what's up with Lily, do you reckon? AND RICHIE'S BACK!)
Quick note: if you haven't already seen, chapters ten and twelve have been edited and you probably check them out- leave a review if you haven't already... *wink*
The PI Jones which Rose refers to is to be originally found in chapter one, where James gets a lot of money in his account from the mysterious guy.
The character of Theodore Nott is stolen (with permission) from TheHeirOfSlytherin's fantastic fic; 'Her Hero', and I recommend it highly.
And thanks for all your help Sam! I saved Hugo here for you.
Also, the phrase 'curiouser and curiouser' is from Lewis Carroll, 'Alice in Wonderland'. Thanks for reading, and I'd love a review.
Sheesh, long Author Note. Sorry!
Chapter 15: death, wolves and there isn't a plan
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-Rose: House Pleasant,
Tuesday 28th December, 11.45pm
I hadn’t aimed very well, and the spell went shooting past the man I intended to Stun- instead hitting the guy behind, who crumpled to the floor. I fired off another spell, this time getting the same man as Scorpius did, and the combined force of our spells lifted him off his feet and he ploughed into the guy behind him.
I heard a scuffling noise behind me, and glancing back, I could see that Hugo and Theodore were safely through the window and running, their transparent shapes shimmering across the field. They reached the edge of the forest and disappeared out of sight. My brother was safe.
I turned back to our fire fight. We were hopelessly outnumbered- there were five of us and at least thirty of them. But, thanks to Lorcan, I had watched enough war films to know we had the advantage of defending and also the higher ground. All they could do was walk/run towards us, and all we had to do was shoot them. In theory.
I aimed a Body-Bind Curse at a lanky lad with dreadlocks, and scanned the ranks for Richie. I couldn’t see him anywhere. I ducked a blast of purple light, but it went way over my head and instead set the picture on the wall behind me on fire, bright violet flames licking up the wall. By my side, Scorpius seemed to be doing fairly well with aiming and firing, although his curses didn’t vary much from ‘stupefy’ and ‘expelliarmus’.
I pushed him out the way as a jet of green light dove straight for Scorpius, and aiming, quickly incapacitated the caster. This was actually kind of fun, if you took out the near-death element.
And then, I saw him. A spell from upstairs knocked someone out of the way, and I could see Richie. His eyes were wide as he watched the battle, and he looked awful. His face was streaked with dirt and his clothes were tatty and grimy. In a bright flash of light from a spell, his face was clearly illuminated, and I could see one of his eyes was stained purple, and he had other, fading yellow bruises up his arms. Richie was being dragged away from the conflict by a tall man, broad shoulders and severe haircut. He looked evil, and I knew him by sight. He was the leader of the Fraternity.
But I couldn’t tear my eyes off Richie. He had no idea what was going on, what was happening- that much was clear. He looked frightened and lost, stuck in a world he knew nothing about. And it was my fault. I brought him here, by going on that date. If Roxy had never introduced us, he would have never been here- here, where he could die.
I have never been so angry. Sure, in an abstract, twisted way, we deserved to be locked up. Not for crimes we didn’t commit, and I would fight that with everything I had- but Richie had nothing to do with anything, and now he was paying for our actions. And I could never let that happen.
With renewed vigour, I aimed, and fired again, my hatred fuelling the spells I shot off. And then, suddenly, came a streak of green light. I instinctively half-ducked, but then I realised the spell was going the wrong way. It wasn’t coming towards us. Someone upstairs had fired the Killing Curse, and I watched helplessly as it tore through a hastily erected Shield Charm. There was a terrible scream, and then the man collapsed. Someone upstairs was a murderer.
And then I couldn’t fire. I couldn’t move. I couldn’t do anything. All I could see was the man, lying half-hidden in the long grass, eyes glassy and open. Richie didn’t matter, Scorpius didn’t matter, Hugo didn’t matter. Someone in my family was a murderer.
Killing was something the other side did- we didn’t kill. We didn’t hurt anyone. We didn’t ruthlessly attack people.
That wasn’t what we did.
People died all the time- four lives had been lost for us to be set up, but that had been different. I hadn’t watched them die. I hadn’t seen the light fade from their eyes. And while I hadn’t cast the spell, I felt responsible for his death.
Scorpius seemed to realise something was wrong. “What is it?” he said, ducking a spell and shooting off a Stunner in response.
“There was a man-” I managed, collapsing onto the floor and pressing my back against the wall beneath the window. I realised I was shaking.
“Is someone close to the house?” Scorpius said, his eyes wide. He poked his head above the window. “I don’t see anyone... Rose, what’s wrong?”
“Nothing, I’m fine,” I said, gripping my wand so hard I thought I would snap it.
Scorpius shook his head. “That’s a lie. Come on, we’re going to move out. I’ll get the others from upstairs,” he said, disappearing to the bottom of the stairs.
I sat there, frozen. I couldn’t think, I couldn’t move. My brain felt sluggish, and I couldn’t respond to my more practical side, who was desperately trying to get me going. It was like being told again and again to get up from bed, but the bed was too cosy and warm to leave, despite the increasing frustration in your parents voice.
Mum. Dad. Had they killed someone? How would they feel, to know we were now murdering to save ourselves?
Scorpius came clattering back downstairs. “We’ve got a plan,” he said, panting. “Come on.”
With difficulty, I got to my feet, and Scorpius grabbed my upper arm. “Rose, whatever the hell you thinking, snap out of it,” he said urgently. “We need to get Richie out as well as ourselves.”
Richie. The word penetrated through my misty mind, bringing a crack of light. Richie. If I could only save him...
“Alright,” I said forcefully. “What do we need to do?”
Scorpius cracked into a devilish smile. “I’m not too good at subtle,” he said. “Basically, we’re just going to run straight through them.”
I took a look outside. Now our fire had abated, the Fraternity had stopped. It was an unofficial cease-fire, but the Fraternity left standing remained steady, wands at the ready. I could see about eight people barring our way to Richie. He and his captor were nearly at the edge of the forest now, about to disappear into the trees.
Scorpius saw as well, and with an angry curse, he vaulted out of the broken window, and started to run towards the witches and wizards in front of us. He was prepared for anything, and fighting hard as well. With a Stunner which seemed to be more furious energy than magic, he blasted a pretty black-haired girl out of his way, barely slowing down in his race to get Richie.
I stood in the living room for another second, before running and swinging myself out the long, wide, window. My hands crunched down on the broken glass, but I ignored the pain and the slow trickle of warm wet blood and gripped my wand tighter in my slippery palm, shooting a Stunner at the first person I saw.
It was hard to aim and run quickly, so I just blindly fired towards where the spells were coming towards me, occasionally throwing up a hasty Shield Charm for the spells I couldn’t dodge. I broke through the ragged line of people surrounding the house, and cast another Shield Charm, concentrating so hard on it that I nearly tripped. If there was one particular spell I prided myself on, it was my ability to create the invisible shield that would protect me from most spells.
I recovered my footing, speeding on forwards, no longer encumbered by having to try to shoot, I could now put all my energy into running as fast as I could. Scorpius was now nearly at Richie. A spell hit my Shield bang in the centre, but it merely quivered. I glanced up from the ground again, and saw the leader of the Fraternity draw his wand. The action was slow, almost lazy, or was that because I was pushing myself to go faster and faster, my mind now racing, fuelled by adrenaline?
He pointed his wand directly at Richie, and looked back at us, almost smiling. Richie tried to scramble away, limping away from the Fraternity’s leader, but the man just adjusted his aim slightly, his lips moving in an incantation I couldn’t hear. A jet of green light spewed out from the end of his wand, and then Scorpius crashed into the man, knocking him off-balance and the spell went wide.
But not far enough. The green light clipped Richie on the shoulder, spinning him around like a rag doll, and then he collapsed into the grass by the forest’s edge. I changed my direction, running towards him, tears already pricking at my eyes. Richie couldn’t be dead, he couldn’t be dead, there was no way he could be dead. He was so alive. I reached him and sank onto my knees, properly crying. I was right; it was the other side who were the murderers, the cold-blooded, evil killers who didn’t think twice about taking away someone’s life. I lifted Richie’s head into my lap, gently resting my hand over his mouth and nose. There was no breath. I pressed two bloody fingers to his neck, but there was no pulse either.
A spell hit my shield, weakening it slightly, so I grabbed Richie under the arms and pulled him further into the cover of the trees. I just wanted a little more time, a little more time with him. Richie was dead. Richie, who’d called me even after I’d been kidnapped on my date, Richie, who’d tirelessly explained the rules of football over and over to me, and who had the most beautiful smile I’d ever seen. His sightless eyes were open, and I closed them gently, leaving twin tracks of red from my cut fingers.
I heard a shout, and looked to my left, peering through the trees to where Scorpius and the Fraternity’s leader were fighting, Muggle-style. I watched as Scorpius was punched on the jaw, only to spring back and cut the man’s legs from underneath him. I looked back at the house. The ring of Fraternity members had disintegrated, instead coming towards us, determined and purposeful. I supposed that it meant everyone else had got away, managed to Disapparate. It didn’t matter if Scorpius was winning his fight, we were both going to die anyway, be stretched out on the wet grass like Richie was.
My wand lay on the grass a few feet away, the handle smeared with blood, but I didn’t move to pick it up. The first killing curse sent at me was poorly aimed, as I was half-hidden in the trees but the spell still ripped a ragged hole through my shield to the left of me. I glanced over to Scorpius and the man. Scorpius kicked him in the side, and he tried to crawl away. I saw the outline of a wand in Scorpius’ clenched fist. Scorpius could easily kill the man- but then the man straightened up, staggering to his feet, also holding something. He spun on the spot- and disappeared with a thin crack! Scorpius howled with frustration, sounding feral in his anger. Scorpius had known Richie since his early teens, I realised. Scorpius looked up, and saw the horde advancing on us. He half-limped, half-ran to me.
“Rose?” he asked, his voice hoarse.
I didn’t answer. What was there to say? A farewell, an apology?
“Rose, come on,” he said, pulling me to my feet. “There’s nothing we can do for Richie now, we’ve got to go.”
He sent a Stunner towards the mob, and someone in the front crumpled to the ground.
“Merlin, Rose, please do not freeze up again, I need you to Disapparate us away kind of like now!” he said urgently, sending another spell, but it went high. He leaned over Richie and grabbed my wand from the ground, pressing it into my hand. He pulled us back, further into the trees, making sure we were completely hidden from the Fraternity.
Richie lay in front of us, his body merely a huddled lump on the ground; a shapeless dark mass, faceless and anonymous. I didn’t want to leave him alone here, here in these cold woods.
“Rose!” he hissed, shaking my shoulders. “Snap out of it!”
And then there was a terrible, low growl to our left. The blood drained from Scorpius’ face, and he hunkered down, pulling me close. “Don’t make a sound,” he said quietly.
The growl turned into high-pitched cry that shook the trees, and the Fraternity members stopped in their tracks, frozen in terror. I felt blank, empty; my guilt and misery had ripped out my emotions, and being scared was not one I was currently capable of- despite the unmistakeable sounds of a werewolf nearby.
A Fraternity member turned and ran, heading back to the house. The movement triggered the werewolf to bound out of the undergrowth, which in turn made the Fraternity scatter. Scorpius tightened his hand on my arm, as if he thought that I might try to rescue them.
To be honest with you, I had no particular feelings regarding the Fraternity at that moment in time.
The werewolf loped easily forwards, covering the ground quickly. It looked quite graceful, really, an abstract part of me noted. The long, poised arms and quickly moving feet, the neck stretched up to the sky as the wolf howled mournfully- it looked like a dancer. And then it dropped to all four paws again, twisting it’s head this way and that, catching the smells around it as it’s lips were drawn back in a snarl- and a more primal part of me said to run far far away, because this was a killer.
A few people dropped out of sight in the long grass, hoping to hide, and another managed to Disapparate away before the werewolf reached him. But with a swipe of a paw, one Fraternity member fell to the ground, and it wasn’t an act. I could see the red on the werewolf’s claws, and the terrible scream the man gave reverberated through the woods.
Scorpius pulled me to my feet, and dragged me away from the field and the lethal dance of blood and claws. We ran through the trees, dodging branches and leaping over tree roots. I was holding Scorpius’ hand, feeling like if I let go for one second, I would start to scream.
We finally collapsed in a sweaty, panting heap underneath the base of a large oak tree in a clearing. It was deathly silent- we’d come far enough away to not hear anything from the house in the field. I sat with my back against the tree trunk, and my knees tucked up to my chin. I still held Scorpius’ hand, slippery with sweat and blood. He didn’t say anything, merely scooted into a more comfortable position beside me. He seemed to know better than to ask me to Apparate anywhere.
I looked up at the countless stars dotting the clear sky- I could just make out the Big Dipper in between the gently swaying branches. The moon was bright and full on my left. My breath came out in huffs of pearly clouds, and I shivered in the chilly night. Scorpius put his arm around me, and I rested my head on his shoulder. I had never been more glad of his company and, lulled into a false sense of security and bone-tired, I let myself fall asleep.
-Rose: under an oak tree, in a clearing
Wednesday 29th December, 7.45am
I woke up in the same position, the weak winter sun poking above the skeleton trees. I was numb with cold and stiff from sleeping in an unnatural position, but I didn’t move. Scorpius was still asleep, his head lolling back against the tree trunk. I could see the dried tracks of tears on his cheeks, and it was a fresh reminder of Richie’s death, cutting me again like a fresh wound. Everything from yesterday night came flooding back, and I bit my lip hard in order not to start crying again.
Scorpius stirred, and opened his eyes, yawning. “Good morning,” he said.
I straightened myself up off his shoulder, catching his yawn.
“How are you?” he asked.
“Alright, I suppose,” I said, after a moment’s thought. I was alright. Physically, I was fine. While emotionally was a different matter, my heart felt tougher after the events of the night. I could push back the grief and the turmoil, because I couldn’t do anything for the dead. It was the living that mattered, that needed me. Scorpius needed me, and Hugo and the rest of my family.
“And you?” I asked.
Scorpius stood up, brushing dried mud and dead leaves off his jeans. “I think we should go back to the house,” he said.
I got up, massaging the feeling back into my numb legs and stretching out my arms. The palms of my hands stung as the new scabs on them cracked. Scorpius started to slowly walk into the trees, retracing our runaway route from last night. I pushed my hair back from my face and followed.
Scorpius needed me.
He walked ahead, shoulders hunched and hands shoved deep in pockets. I couldn’t let him be swallowed by his sadness, not when I needed him just as much. I caught up to him easily, and threaded my arm through his.
I didn’t say anything as we walked slowly through the trees. The woods looked like something from a Christmas card- evergreens and skinny bare trees. A robin red-breast hopped from one branch to another, trilling a merry tune, and the frosted grass crunched underneath our feet. It was peaceful- but in what seemed like no time at all, we were at the field. The house squatted in the middle of the field, no longer our safe haven.
Scorpius led me around the side of the trees, until we came to Richie. He lay on his side from where we’d left him hurriedly, one arm flung over his face. He looked asleep.
“I’m going to bury him,” Scorpius said, looking at his friend.
I touched his shoulder lightly. “I’ll go see the house.”
“Thank you,” he said, and I set off, trying to avoid the patches of flattened, stained grass.
The house was quiet, and eerily still. I walked in through the back, where only the shell of the conservatory remained. The broken glass crunched under my feet, and my palms itched painfully. I slid my wand out from my jacket pocket, and held it out in front of me. The house was ruined. Ornaments lay broken on their sides, pictures had giant slashes from claws, and the wallpaper curled down the wall. I skirted the sofa, which lay on its back, and went through to the kitchen, but there was nothing there but smashed crockery and some instant noodles and , so I grabbed those.
The house was too still to have anyone alive in it.
I checked every room anyway, but it was in vain. I didn’t see anyone who I could help, and I found no sign of my cousins either. This, I supposed, was a good thing. I did find the bag that Tracey had given us though, and slung that over my back as I made my way to the roof. From there, I watched the silent field, and Scorpius, digging.
The long pale grass waved in the slight breeze, and the tops of the trees rustled. I watched Scorpius’ back move in a steady rhythm as he cracked the hard earth with his shovel. I wondered idly when he’d conjured it up. The sun climbed steadily higher in the pale sky, and I sat where Scorpius and I had stood barely ten hours before. I tipped the contents of Tracey’s bag onto the cold floor, and started to sort through it.
She’d packed us an assortment of things, some stuff that made me smile, and some really useful items. Two penknives, two flasks- one filled with black coffee that was still warm, and a couple of sandwiches, along with some high energy cereal bars and some orange and green tic-tacs. My stomach growled as I remembered sitting downstairs with Scorpius, eating a hot stew with proper cutlery. I put the sandwiches away- I’d share them with Scorpius later. There was a road map and a spare oversized jacket for both of us. I shrugged one on, immediately feeling warmer, wrapping my hands in the ends of the sleeves. My cuts stung, but I ignored them. There was a lot of Muggle money in a thick leather purse, and even a few Galleons and one Knut, as well as a heavy-duty torch. I poured everything back in the bag haphazardly, glancing up to check on Scorpius. He still toiled away, not looking back at the house once.
I only came down when I saw that Scorpius had finished, and he was just smoothing the soil over Richie when I joined him by the grave. I saw that he’d also put a small headstone, which simply said his name, and today’s date.
Scorpius didn’t acknowledge me as I stood next to him, instead staring at his work until I gently put my hand on his shoulder.
“Ready to go?” I asked quietly.
He shook his head. “I don’t think I’ll ever be ready to leave him here,” he said, turning away. He left the shovel lying by the side of the mound, and started to walk. I stood by the grave for moment longer, remembering. I couldn’t let myself lapse again, so I gave into my grief for a second, letting the sadness roll over me, before wiping my eyes and jogging to catch up with Scorpius, Tracey’s rucksack banging against my back.
“What was at the house?” Scorpius asked.
“Hardly anything,” I said. I indicated the bag. “Tracey’s packed us some useful stuff though.”
He forced a smile. “Shall we go then?”
“I think you should eat something first,” I said, leading him to the front porch of the house. We sat down, and I shared out the sandwiches and coffee, leaving the non-perishables I’d found in the kitchen in the bag for later. I also passed Scorpius a knife, slipping the other into my pocket.
When I was satisfied that Scorpius had eaten enough, we got up and started to walk. The change in us both was clear- there was no banter, or teasing. At least the rest of my family were safe, I thought, as we walked slowly away from the house and the field in order to get out of the anti-apparition zone, leaving the tiny headstone alone. My family...
“Lily!” I said suddenly, glancing quickly at Scorpius. “She might be still out in the woods... all alone, she won’t know what happened, and the werewolf...” I trailed off. “What?”
He took my hand and squeezed it gently. “Rose, I think Lily was the werewolf.”
A/N: brace yourselves, this is going to be a long, gushing one.
Firstly, I am overwhelmed, I really am. The amount of love I'm receiving at the Dobby Awards for my little Hattie baby is amazing- she's been nominated for Best Mystery, Best Villain, Best Plot Twist/Make Your Jaw Drop Moment, Best Action/Adventure and Most Original Story.
Please, someone help me pick my jaw up off the floor. It means so incredibly much to me, so thank you everyone who has nominated and seconded me, you know who you are and I love you to pieces. And if anyone decided that they like my Hattie enough to go and vote for her, then I would be even more amazed and may actually faint.
My second piece of news is that Hattie is also getting a sequel, and I'm already plotting it out :P
Thank you so much, my wonderful, beautiful readers. I love you every single one of you so much.
PS. Sorry about Richie.
Chapter 16: back stories, flirting and Scorpius hates it when I plan.
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-Rose; the White Hart Hotel
Wednesday 29th December, 10.30am
Tracey’s bag, amongst other things, had enough money for us to both check into a small hotel, so we did exactly that. It was about half past ten by the time we reached ‘The White Hart’- I had apparated us away to a village that I’d been to on a job once, and then found a taxi. We’d asked the driver to take us somewhere we could stay that was ‘a reasonably fair distance away’.
By the time we’d reached the hotel, we were fast friends with the taxi driver and I’d made up an entertaining story in which I (Rachel) was Scorpius’ (Samuel’s) mistress and we were trying to find somewhere to have an illicit affair while his wife (Lauren) was out on a short weekend break to a golfing club. I didn’t even know what golf was, but Scorpius had helped me out while I floundered. We’d also made use of the taxi’s rear view mirror to try to look presentable- the taxi driver had leant me a hair tie, which took care of my mane, and then I had to try to get bark out of Scorpius’ hair. All this time, I was chatting merrily about Lauren, even inventing a fictional lover for her, called Morgan, who was Scottish and six foot four.
I was pretty sure the taxi driver didn’t believe a word that I was saying, but I had made Scorpius smile a few times, and at the moment, that was all that really mattered. However, it did help that the driver was so hugely entertained that he didn’t charge us, instead just wishing us luck with our future escapades.
He probably thought we were pathological hitchhiking liars, and the thought made me smile. If we told him the real truth, then he’d probably take us to the nearest loony bin.
Walking into the White Hart, which looked small and unfrequented but pretty, I took control again, shouldering Tracey’s bag and holding Scorpius’ hand.
“Hello,” I said politely to the receptionist. “We’d like a room for two please, and we don’t have a reservation.”
She smiled brightly, and flicked her hair behind her ears. “Of course!” she said cheerfully. A budgie in a cage in the corner squawked in reply, but she waved her hand dismissively. “Don’t worry about him, he doesn’t like couples. And if you come in at night after ten, he swears at you. How many nights?” she asked, tapping some keys on the laptop in front of her.
“Just one,” I said.
The receptionist dazzled me with her white smile again. “Of course! But if you want to extend your stay, just pop on down and I’ll sort it out for you. We’re at a great spot here, very romantic. The kitchen can make you up a picnic as well, if you want to spend the day out. There’s a well nearby that’s supposed to increase love and fertility, if you’re into that sort of thing.”
I forced a smile, but took Scorpius’ hand, bringing it up with mine onto the top of the counter. I doubted that the Aurors would be checking Muggle hotels, and would definitely not be looking for a couple, especially as Scorpius was already a newlywed. I passed her the money, and she gave me a key and a folder.
“In there are some details about the surrounding area, directions to get to the well, and stuff like that. If you could just sign here,” she said, pushing an A4 book towards me.
I wrote the date and then signed with a flourish. She took the book back, and angled it towards her. “I hope you have a lovely stay with us, Mr and Mrs Granger!”
I smiled and thanked her, tugging Scorpius with me to the stairs, glancing quickly at the key. We were in room 48.
“Mr and Mrs Granger?” Scorpius asked as we walked up the stairs.
I rolled my eyes. “I was thinking on my feet, she already assumed we were a couple and the mistress story was too long and complicated to explain to her.”
“Yeah, but Granger? My father still winces every time your mother’s name comes up.”
I glanced sideways at him. “How often does Mum’s name come up in casual conversation?”
Scorpius grinned. “A lot. It’s our primary way to piss him off- recounting the story of when Hermione Granger punched Father.”
“Dad likes to tell that story too- he says it’s the highlight of her achievements,” I said, smiling. It always gets brought up at least once every large family gathering, and sometimes you’ll catch Dad sitting, chuckling to himself. If you ask him what’s so funny, he’ll wipe away a tear and say that he’s remembering the look on Malfoy’s face when Mum punched him.
We eventually got to our room- it was on the top floor- and on the door, in a pink flowery script, it read ‘Honeymoon Suite’. Scorpius stopped dead.
“Honeymoon?” he asked with a voice like ice. “We’re running for our lives, not on bloody holiday!”
I clapped my hand over his mouth, opened the door and pushed him in. “Keep your bloody voice down!” I told him angrily. “We need somewhere to rest, eat and clean up, and a honeymoon suite is better than outside in the freezing cold. It’s a miracle we haven’t got hypothermia yet. It’s December in Britain, not Australia.”
There was a knock on the door, and Scorpius and I froze. There was another knock, and a tentative ‘hello?’, so I strode over to the door, opening it a crack. I doubt the Aurors would knock this time. Outside stood a man wearing a white shirt and black trousers, holding a bottle of red wine.
“I’m afraid it’s the best we’ve got,” he said apologetically. “But anyway, congratulations! Is there anything else we can get you?”
I took the bottle, plastering on a winning smile. “Thank you so much, that’s very sweet of you.” I wedged my foot in the door, keeping it open, and called out. “Honey, is there anything you want?”
“Do they do room service?” Scorpius yelled back from the bathroom.
I raised my eyebrows and looked questioningly at the man. “I’m sure we can get some food sent up,” he said. “The chef’s not in yet, but we’ll do our best.”
My mouth stretched into another wide grin. “Oh, thank you, you’re an angel.”
“Will that be everything, Mrs Granger?”
I leant against the doorframe, thinking. “Could you get us a first aid kit?” I said after a moment’s thought. “I danced so much last night, my feet are killing me,” I said with a giggle, trying to conceal my cut palms.
God, trying to be a happy newlywed was hard.
“Of course, right away,” the man said, nodding.
Scorpius came up behind me, wrapping his arms around my waist and resting his chin on my shoulder. “Thank you,” he said with finality, and shut the door on the man, immediately letting me go.
“You’re not supposed to flirt with people on our first day as a married couple,” he said over his shoulder as he went back into the bathroom.
I scowled at him. “You’ve laid your claim quickly, as ten minutes ago I was your mistress. And I wasn’t flirting,” I added quickly. “Just being friendly.”
“If you were any friendlier with him, he’d be taking my place in the ‘honeymoon suite’,” he called, and I could hear the quote marks around his words. I bit back a retort. He was just trying to wind me up.
“I’m going to have a shower,” he said, sticking his head back around the door. “If I come out and find you in bed with that guy, I’m not going to be happy, Mrs Granger.”
I took off my shoe and threw it at him, but he ducked out of the way. The man soon came back, with two plates of scrambled eggs and bacon, and what looked like the contents of an ambulance. I wolfed down my food while Scorpius was still in the shower, and was just trying to put on bandages with only one hand when he finally emerged, towelling dry his hair.
“You’ll want to do that after you’ve had a wash,” he said, uncharacteristically gentle. “I’ll eat, and then I’ll help.”
When I was clean, Scorpius did help, disinfecting the cuts on my palms and then wrapping them in clean bandages. I flexed my hands a couple of times, getting used to them. I could probably still climb a drainpipe. I cleaned the cuts on Scorpius’ face and arms- from his fight with the Fraternity’s leader. Really, he had got off fairly easily.
“Did you know him?” I asked, putting a plaster on a particularly deep cut on his forearm. “The Fraternity member you were fighting.”
“Went for drinks together a couple of times,” Scorpius said, his face closed off. He stared blankly into the distance. “His name is Marcus, Marcus Copperworth. He even came to a football match once. Probably how he knew Richie.”
I didn’t want to talk about Richie yet- we’d done all we could, and now I wanted to focus on the present, and the future, leaving the past until we had the luxury of time.
“You’re all done,” I said instead. “All clean and bandaged up.” Scorpius had a heavily bruised shoulder- he reckoned a curse had hit him there, and it looked bad, although he said it didn’t hurt. If he was telling the truth, then I was even more concerned. But I wasn’t Louis, and I couldn’t ask him for help.
I tried to push all thoughts of my family out of my head, but they crept back in, like flickering shadows in the corners of my mind. I was aware of them, but I couldn’t dismiss them or help them, so there they lurked, preying on my thoughts.
“Are you all right about Lily?” Scorpius said, as if he was reading my thoughts. I was sat on a chair, and he was at my feet, surrounded by bandages and plates.
“I wish she’d told us, that’s all,” I said. “I wish she’d trusted us enough to tell us. We could have helped, and I doubt she’d want to tell Jean,” I said. Jean was Lily’s French magic-hating boyfriend, who she’d picked up one year when we visited Auntie Fleur’s family, and they’d inexplicably been together ever since.
“It probably wasn’t just that,” Scorpius said slowly. “In the summer, the Fraternity were checking up on known werewolves, and trying to get them to join up. She was probably dreading a call from them if she made it publicly known.”
“What?” Scorpius said, twisting around to look at me. “What’s wrong?”
“Nothing,” I said quickly, not aware I had spoken aloud. My mind was racing, back to when I’d cleaned out Lily’s flat and seen the papers on the Fraternity- of course, that was why she had the details on the papers.
“If you think the Fraternity know that Lily’s a werewolf, I doubt it,” Scorpius said, putting his hand on my knee. “They wouldn’t have tried to attack us on a full moon if they had, and they couldn’t have found out from the Ministry- I take it that her transformations were the reasons she was taken out of the cells.”
But my thoughts were on a completely different track to Scorpius’. The papers must still be in the house, underneath my mattress, or they most certainly would have been brought out at our trial. Evidence we’d been watching the Fraternity? That would have been like pixie dust to the prosecution. And now we knew the Fraternity were directly involved against us- either orchestrating the whole thing or working for someone who was- it was no secret that we were rivals, even if the Clan were more discreet.
They still knew of us, knew of what we did, and the knowledge that we were Weasleys and Potters would not have changed their professional hatred of us. Was it the Fraternity who had ruined our plan at Hogwarts, and not some inside traitor? Had they deliberately thwarted us in order to set us up at Gringotts?
“What?” I asked, surprised. I was damn sure I hadn’t said something out loud that time.
“Whatever the hell you’re planning, whatever the hell you’re thinking about doing, the answer is no. We’re not. We’re going to Cardiff to meet up with Theo, and that’s the end of it.”
I opened my mouth to protest- I only had a half-formed idea in mind, and half-formed ideas are not ripe enough to be shot down- but Scorpius cut me off, kneeling and facing me.
“No,” he said, quietly but firmly. “Back at Theo’s house, I don’t know what the hell happened, but you froze up and you couldn’t move, you couldn’t do anything. Imagine what could have happened.”
The guilt I was trying to ignore swelled, crashing over me like an icy-cold wave. “What could have happened if I hadn’t frozen up, you mean?” I managed to say, barely aware of myself. “You mean, that if I’d followed you quicker, I could have stopped that Curse hitting Richie, is that it?”
Scorpius’ mouth dropped open. “No, Rose, that’s not what I mean, not at all. You did everything you could, it wasn’t your fault!” His voice got more frantic.
“Rose, please don’t cry,” he said, softer, and I hadn’t even realised that I was. I sniffed and wiped my eyes. “I meant I didn’t want you to get hurt.”
“I’m sorry,” I said. The last thing I wanted to be was a snivelling, tearful wreck. Scorpius rolled his eyes, and hugged me, a proper bear-hug. He smelt of the cheap hotel shampoo and the disinfectant we’d used to clean our cuts, and I hugged him back. At least we were together, I thought. I’d go mad if I had to do this on my own.
“What’s your plan, then?” he asked, when I’d stopped crying and he’d released me.
I looked down at him. He was not going to be pleased with this idea.
-Abner Carrow: the Ministry of Magic
Wednesday 29th December, 11am
Abner swept down the corridor, feeling oddly buoyant. His long robes brushed against the green marble floor as he made his way to his office. Today he should be getting the news that six of the Clan and somebody else –unidentified and unimportant- were all dead. Hopefully without loss of his Muggle asset, but if they had, well, it was of no consequence.
He opened the door to his office to see someone already sitting at his desk.
“You have news?” he said, checking his door was firmly shut.
Marcus turned to look at him. He had a bruised jaw and a split lip, and a nasty looking cut along his hairline.
Carrow took off his pointed hat and placed it on a shelf, hanging his outer robe neatly on the back of his door. He walked to his desk, and sat behind it, pulling his wand out from his sleeve and placing it next to his quill. He lit a candle, brushed a few imaginary specks of dust from his writing mat, and arranged his robes. Only when he was completely settled, his fingers laced together in his lap, did he speak.
“What happened?” His voice was quiet and controlled.
Marcus sat back in his chair, stretching out his legs, looking completely at ease in the formal setting, despite his dishevelled and dirty appearance. “We underestimated them. They had the advantage of higher ground-”
“I don’t want to hear your excuses,” Carrow said, cutting him off. “I asked, what happened?”
As briefly as possible, Marcus told him. When he had finished, Carrow leant forwards, steepling his fingers.
“So, a few disorganised children beat you?” Carrow held up his hand, stopping Marcus from interrupting. “You have one more chance. Letting me down again is not in your best interests.”
Marcus stood up, his face twisted in sudden anger. “You don’t own me, nor the Fraternity, Mr Carrow, and threats can work two ways.”
“Stop making a fool of yourself and sit down. You wouldn’t be here if you didn’t need my help, and I don’t particularly need your band of Squibs.”
Marcus sat down, but his eyes narrowed at Abner, smarting at the insult. When this was over, Marcus vowed, he had a score to be settled. Sometimes, just sometimes, Carrow forgot who he was talking to.
“You said that is was Rose Weasley and Scorpius Malfoy who seemed to be the most dangerous?” Carrow said, back to business.
“Then forget about them. Leave them alone. I’ll pull the surveillance on their homes, and I’ll call off the Aurors tracking them. Focus on the others.” He tapped the point of his peacock feather quill on the parchment in front of him. “We know that Dominique and Victoire Weasley are hiding at Hogwarts, with Theodore Lupin?”
It was a rhetorical question, but Marcus nodded again anyway.
“Then you send people up there to deal with them. And we also know about the proposed meeting point in Cardiff from our source, correct?” This time, Carrow didn’t pause for Marcus. “You go there, with a few of your most skilled... accomplices, and watch. I highly doubt Rose and Scorpius will turn up –they seem too clever, but children are inclined to be sentimental, so if they do, I don’t want them meeting up with anyone else. Find everyone you can, and leave those two alone.”
A plan was forming in Carrow’s mind, a twisted web of deceit and evil. Maybe he could have the grand finale that he had always wanted. To look at them, at the end, and explain why they had to die. It mattered to Abner, the why. He needed to show them that he had a purpose, he wasn’t one of those deranged murderers who picked people at random.
He had a right to order their deaths- but, oh, it would be so much sweeter if he could do it himself.
“What’s the plan behind all this then?” Marcus asked, his sharp tones bringing Abner back to reality.
“You don’t kill them.” Carrow smiled. “You bring them to me, to my house in Yorkshire. There’s plenty of enchantments that will ensure their safety with me.”
“And Rose Weasley? Scorpius Malfoy? Are you intending on letting them run free?”
“No, they’ll come to me, once they know where their family are. I won’t be requiring your aid to secure them. It should be simple enough,” Abner said, his lip curling in distaste. He hated having to lower himself to the level of these petty criminals. Break-ins and muggings, that seemed to be all they were capable of. Give them a moderately complex job, and they screwed it up. First Hogwarts, then the caravan park, and now at the house. Werewolf or no werewolf, their incompetence was astounding.
But Marcus was still talking. “So I deliver the rest to you, and what? I get your assurance that they will die?”
Carrow shook his head distractedly, already mentally finalising the details. “By all means, you can look in for a minute,” he said, making it sound like he was hosting a dinner party. He got a fresh thick piece of parchment out from his drawer, poising his quill. “Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have work to do.”
Marcus smiled thinly. A minute would be all he needed. “I’ll see myself out,” he said, and took a handful of powder from the mantle, throwing it into the crackling flames.
No-one talks to the Head of the Fraternity like that.
-Rose: the White Hart Hotel, Room 48, ‘Honeymoon Suite’
Wednesday 29th December, 5pm
Just a note to all you guys who have never been on the run with Scorpius Malfoy: don’t. It’s not fun. He dyed my hair blue.
“What?” he protested. “Who is going to look for the famously red-headed Rose Weasley with blue hair? And anyway, it looks great! I’m seriously good at hairdressing.”
Okay. To be fair, my hair had been cut well. Scorpius had cut it shorter, so it only just hung past my shoulders, which meant I could do an arrogant hair flick like Dom could without hitting someone in the face with my hair, and it was all shades of blue, from cobalt to periwinkle.
I don’t know how he did it, and yes, it did look great, and his logic was pretty sound, but he should have fucking asked me.
He had dyed his hair a normal, light brown colour.
“Why didn’t you go fuchsia or something?” I asked, running my hands through my newly shorn crop.
He looked at me like I was insane. “Because that would have looked stupid- and anyway, dark colours washes me out.”
Oh my god, Scorpius was gay. I did not see that coming. And Louisa is not going to be pleased.
He held up his hands. “Whoa! Louisa said it washed me out when she found those pictures of third year.” He frowned. “What does ‘washed out’ even mean?”
Okay, some man points had been regained.
And I agreed with Louisa, actually. She may be a bitch, but third year, when Scorpius had his obligatory Goth phase along with Albus, his dyed black hair looked awful, like he actually was a vampire.
To add insult to injury, he told me that Muggle hair dye had to be let to ‘settle’ before it could be dyed out.
“Why did you have to get Muggle hair dye?” I whined.
“You can’t get it out with charms, so if for example we got the wrong side of a Thief’s Downfall –unlikely, but possible- we’d be okay.”
I tugged at my blue hair some more, but Scorpius slapped my hand away.
“You can’t pull the dye out,” he told me, exasperated.
“When we get caught because of my ridiculous hair,” I began, and he shot me a withering look.
“We aren’t going to get caught,” he said. “And if we do get recognised, then I’m dyeing your hair white.”
We had better not get caught, because I was never letting anyone but a trained professional touch my hair again.
Scorpius adjusted the straps on Tracey’s backpack again. “Well?” he asked.
I peeked out the blinds again, gazing out at the twilight. “Yeah, probably dark enough now,” I said, switching on the telly, and turning up the volume. “Are you ready?” I asked over the sound of a cooking programme, as Muggles enthusiastically took scones out of an electric oven.
Scorpius shook his head. “Yes.”
I hid a smile. He wasn’t happy, but it was clear that I’d have gone anyway without him, so he’d eventually acquiesced.
I was going home.
This was why the disguises were needed. Although the plan was just to get in the flat, get the papers and get out again, Scorpius maintained that even if we weren’t caught, we would most definitely be seen, and therefore we needed to confuse the Aurors as much as possible. Hence, the hair-dye. Scorpius and I had ventured out earlier in the day with the help of the receptionist’s folder of useful information to gather supplies for our night attack.
I found that making jokes and exaggerating helped- if only a little.
So, the theory was that it could be any random person with blue hair breaking into an escaped convict’s flat at night.
I raised my eyebrows at Scorpius and he swallowed nervously. “Are you sure you’re ready?” I asked again.
He scowled at me, and stuck out his arm and shutting his eyes tightly. “This is a crap idea, can we get it over with as soon as possible, please?” he said through clenched teeth.
I grabbed Scorpius’ arm, and turned on the spot. The familiar experience of being sucked through a velvety tube was relatively short, as I concentrated hard on where we were going. A second later, we appeared on the roof of my apartment block, and Scorpius fell over.
“Really slick,” I said, giving him a hand up, and he scowled.
“At least I’m not vomiting.”
“Well, we do have that to be thankful for.” Our usual banter seemed forced and fake, like we were trying too hard. We were trying too hard to be normal.
I led the way over to the fire escape. ‘Alohomora’ opened it, and I pushed it open gingerly. It creaked, but Scorpius swiftly Silenced it.
“You’re welcome,” he whispered, and I elbowed him as we slowly, carefully descended the rusty stairwell. We lived two floors down, and I went first, my wand out. It was eerily quiet- not even the batty old lady who lived directly above us was at home, although the overwhelming stench of cat piss was still hanging heavily around the stairwell and corridor.
“Where is everyone?” Scorpius asked, and I anxiously motioned him to speak softer. Scorpius rolled his eyes. “Homenum Revelio,” he said with a wave of his wand. I held my breath, but he shook his head. “Nothing. There is nobody here. At all.”
My stomach clenched with trepidation. This wasn’t right, at all. Where was everyone? The Fraternity had a feudal system, with a very distinct hierarchy- thugs at the bottom, cleverer thugs at the top. Petty criminals, muggers, they joined the Fraternity to give themselves credentials, and therefore they had immense manpower.
So where were they?
And there was no sign of Aurors either, I noted. I thought that would be bloody common sense, keeping a watch on our homes. Something wasn’t right. Were they hiding now, watching us?
“I don’t like this,” I said. “At all.”
“We’ve come too far now,” Scorpius said. “Let’s just do this and get out.”
The door to our flat was ajar, and I pushed it open. The kitchen was a mess. Dirty plates were piled up on the sides, and a cup of coffee sat on the side. I wrapped my hands around it.
“Still pretty warm,” I said. “Where have they gone?”
“Can we just get out before they come back?” I glanced at Scorpius. He was standing stiffly, not happy about being here at all.
“I’ll hurry up. Will you keep watch?” I asked. Scorpius nodded, and I disappeared down the corridor. Scorpius looked skittish, and keeping him by the exit would probably calm him down a bit. I opened my bedroom door- and stopped in disgust. Someone had been living in my flat while we were gone, not just using the kitchen. My bedclothes were in a dirty heap after someone had got up this morning, and there were used plates and mugs littered on my windowsill. Clothes were strewn across the floor- mine and somebody else’s. Even I had never let my room get this messy- Hugo would have thrown a fit. I resisted the urge to pick up clothes and shove them in my wardrobe, as years of living with my brother meant that I had an inbuilt instinct to hide mess.
I caught a glimpse of myself in the full length mirror on the back of my en suite door and jumped, thinking there was someone else in the room. I looked so different, and it wasn’t just the bright blue hair. I was skinnier, and my clothes were too big- I’d always hated baggy clothes, they never felt like they fit properly. My eyes had large dark shadows underneath them, and my face was pinched, tired. I wondered when I’d look normal again, how many sleeps until I looked healthy again. I tore my eyes away from the mirror. I doubted even my mum wouldn’t recognise me now.
I picked my way across to the bed, and heaved up the mattress. As I predicted, the papers were still there, wedged in between the mattress and the bed frame. Whoever searched the apartment was clearly an idiot- I was putting my money on my old pal, Ernie. I pulled them out, starting to shuffle them into a pile. There was a lot more here than I read originally- then, I was only scanning for names I recognised. I sat down on the bed, engrossed in the pages. The Fraternity really had got up to a lot. There was immense detail on their meetings with people: some of them werewolves, some vampires, and even people from the Ministry. I rubbed my eyes, reading carefully the who and where and why. The Fraternity must have planned to take us down for months, there had to be some information in here that would be helpful. And then, I saw it. A name that I recognised, and there was an address too-
“Rose? Can we leave please? Like now? I really don’t like this.”
I turned, and saw him standing at the door. “But Scorpius, I’ve just found...”
“Can we please go back?” he said, shuffling from foot to foot. He looked edgy and nervous- and he was right. I could look at these later. It was too risky to hang around here.
“Sure,” I said, folding the papers up and taking Scorpius’ arm.
A/N: another day, another chapter. Sorry for the wait! Hope you enjoyed this- tell me, is it believable still? Or are you starting to wonder if I actually have a plot?
And once again, I can't thank you enough for simply reading my story. You're all awesome, and I love you.
Chapter 17: Zach, Marcus and it was Scorpius' plan
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-Rose, The White Hart Hotel.
Thursday 30th December, 8am
I couldn’t sleep. Scorpius lay curled up in a ball next to me, breathing softly, but even his quiet rhythm couldn’t soothe me. I lay on my back, hands clenched into fists on my stomach, glaring at the ceiling. I had been fighting the tears since we’d gone to bed- we were both too tired after puzzling over Lily’s folder to argue over the double bed- and now it was morning. I hadn’t slept one bit.
I gingerly sat up, levering myself off the bed, thankfully without creaking the springs and waking up Scorpius. I padded softly over to the bathroom, the piece of paper crumpled in my hand. The piece of paper I hadn’t let Scorpius see. The piece of paper I needed to get rid of.
At first, the name had only triggered a faint memory that I couldn’t quite place- and then, once we’d got back to the hotel and I’d had time to look at it again, I remembered.
Jack Howard, Bradley Collins, Zachariah Dalton.
Jack Howard was the name on an old marriage certificate, one that Lorcan found and gave to me as evidence of his ‘evil intentions’. That is a direct Lorcan quote, I’ll have you know. He can be a little forceful.
The address there was somewhere in Yorkshire, a large house called Langdon’s End. Zach never told me about it, but I had never even known he’d come to Britain before, and he hadn’t exactly been truthful with me anyway. And now he was in a Fraternity file? The address sounded pretty fancy, and I wondered if we should go. Zach had helped me at the trial; surely he would do it again?
“Rose?” said a half-panicked voice from the bedroom. I poked my head around the door.
Scorpius flopped backwards into bed, rubbing his eyes tiredly. “I’m going to sleep a bit longer,” he said, and then instantly fell back asleep.
I turned back, ripping the paper up into pieces and dropping down the toilet, the pressing the flush. The paper all disappeared in the swirling vortex, and guilt clutched at me. But I shouldn’t have shown Scorpius. It would make things complicated- even more so than they already were- and to be perfectly honest, I didn’t like thinking about my ex-husband full stop.
-Rose, The White Hart Hotel
Thursday 30th December, 12pm
Scorpius sat with a pen in his hand and A3 sized paper spread out in front of him, his brow furrowed. I genuinely don’t think he’s ever planned anything more complicated than a shopping list before, and he was just copying the A-Team.
Nevertheless, I was being patient. I had forced him to come to my apartment, and now he was planning for the trip to Cardiff. He was determined to meet up with the others- and do it his way.
“We’re not going to go tonight,” he said, pulling the laptop towards him and switching it on. I raised an eyebrow, but didn’t ask why. I could see that his hands were shaking as he typed in the password, and as he pushed his hair out from his eyes.
I ran a hand through my own, bright blue hair. It needed washing, but we’d used up all the complimentary shampoos. The receptionist this morning had nearly had a fit when she’d seen me, and I’d tried to explain it away as a drunken dare from Mr Granger. She didn’t look convinced, and I had to admit that it was a weird thing for a newly-wed couple to do. We didn’t act very in love either, but Scorpius was distracted.
Scorpius was grieving. I was just ignoring the fact that I would never see Richie again. It probably wasn’t the best way of dealing with his death, his murder, but it was the only way I could deal with it.
“Are you even listening to me?”
I shook my head. “Not really.”
“Do you think that you could then?” Scorpius asked; the sarcasm heavy. We were just so tired. “We’ll get there tomorrow morning, super early, and then wait on the roof for someone to come. We should be able to hear –or see- anyone who comes.”
He looked at me expectantly, and I smiled. “Sounds good.”
Scorpius nodded to himself and continued, swivelling the laptop over to face me. “This is what the swimming pool looks like,” he said, showing me a satellite picture of a large, disused building. “Theo said that they’d come at eight o’clock at night, and wait for five minutes. Our biggest problem is missing them, because it’s going to be pitch black and they’ll be hidden too-”
“Homenum Revelio?” I asked.
“That’s just what I was going to say,” Scorp said, flashing me a quick smile. He paused. “That’s the bare bones of it, I guess. What do you think?”
I grinned back at him. “It sounds pretty good so far. So, how are we getting there?”
-Rose: disused swimming pool, outside Cardiff
Friday 31st December, 7.59pm
We’d spent all day crouched on the viewer’s balcony at the swimming pool. Most of the roof had gone –something that hadn’t showed up in the outdated photos- so we’d improvised and lay instead in between the rows of seating above the dried out pool.
The swimming pool was eerie. It felt dead and neglect was shown in every cobweb and pile of mouldy leaves blown into corners. Outside, the car park was grown over in weeds, and inside the plants were gradually taking it back, pushing up through the tiles and snaking over the linoleum. I wondered, if someday, all the buildings I frequented would end up like this. Maybe even Hogwarts, one day, would appear like it does to Muggles- a tired, old, ruined building open to elements.
Twas a sad thought.
Scorpius tapped my forehead lightly. “It’s eight o’clock,” he whispered. He was lying just down from me on the same aisle; our heads nearly touching, our feet in opposite directions. It made talking easier, and at least I didn’t have to put up with his feet, and my feet were resting on Tracey’s backpack.
I pointed my wand down, towards the pool itself, and whispered; ‘homenum revelio’, my lips barely moving. I waited a couple of seconds, but nothing.
“Nothing,” I whispered back to Scorpius. He shuffled slightly, putting his hands behind his head, and breathing deeply. He stared up at the night sky- the stars gave us plenty of light to see by.
“Try again then.”
“Scorpius?” I said, not even bothering to be quiet anymore. For a second, I thought that he was asleep, but-
“I really think we should go now, and come back tomorrow. They’re not going to come.”
“What’s the time?” His voice sounded hoarse.
“It’s nearly midnight,” I told him, crossing my arms over my chest in a futile effort to keep warm. If I get the flu or something again, it’s not going to be pretty. And I will blame him.
There was really long pause, until he finally said; “Okay. Let’s go.”
I levered myself upright with difficulty, pulling on the crumbling faded orange plastic seats. I stretched, trying to ease the knots out of my muscles and warm them up. Scorpius stood up slowly, like a zombie, listlessly pulling his thick jumper straight over his shoulders. I bent to pick up the rucksack-
And then suddenly there was a popping, cracking sound, deafeningly loud, and suddenly I was on the floor, Scorpius’ body warm above me, a protective shield- and for a second the big mystery was how the hell had he moved so fast? But the noise continued, familiar yet terrifying.
“What the hell is that?” he asked softly, his breath blowing into my ear and tickling.
My right hand was in front of me, protecting my skull from the concrete floor, and in the face of my watch I could see reflected bright colours and sparks against the night sky. I blinked, and re-checked the time.
“Scorpius, get off me,” I said, half-laughing in relief. I felt him start to relax, but he stayed above me. “It’s only fireworks, Scorpius. It’s New Year’s Eve. Well,” I said, tapping my watch so he would look and see. “It’s New Year’s Day now.”
He awkwardly clambered off me- the small space we’d been lying in seeming even smaller. He stuck a hand out to help me up, and I got to my feet, rubbing my elbow where I’d painfully banged it against the metal seat frames.
“Happy New Year,” he said, brushing some dirt from my sleeve. I was suddenly seized by a new happiness, his words had just brushed away my melancholy like sweeping dust under a rug.
“Let’s go see the fireworks,” I said, and grabbed his hand, jumping over the back of the seats to get to the highest row. Scorpius had no choice but to follow, shouldering the backpack. I let go of his hand as we stood on the top row, and balanced myself on the back of the row of seats. The roof was only partially there, and while in front of me there was the drop to the car park, on my left, the breaking roof met me. I jumped, catching hold of the edge of the roof, and hoisted myself up, the muscles in my arms burning from holding my weight. I stood up, and Scorpius joined me, pushing his hair out of his eyes. I grabbed his hand again, and half-ran across the roof, not caring that most of it had already fallen in, and the weight of two people could easily cause the rest to collapse. It was a slope, up to the V in the centre, and that’s where we balanced, watching Cardiff’s New Year fireworks from a distance.
They exploded in burst of bright colour; the emerald flames of a fire after Floo powder, gold and white like the sparklers from Wizard Wheezes, blue like a summer sky and Weasley-hair style red. They spanned the horizon, from east to west, like short-lived blooming flowers-
-and then, and I’m not entirely sure how it happened, but I was kissing Scorpius.
He tasted of sweat and dust, and his face was so cold to the touch, but the rest of him was warm, so I wrapped my arms around his neck, my palms brushing the rough two-day stubble on his cheeks and feeling the grit under his collar from lying on the floor. I kind of forgot about the fireworks, which was a shame- because when am I ever going to have a chance to see such a display again?- but Scorpius was taking up all my attention, and I was completely fine with that. He tugged me closer, his hand on the small of my back, until our chests were pressed together and I could feel his heart beating the same erratic rhythm as mine-
-and then I heard a dull thump as someone else climbed onto the roof and a familiar voice.
“Am I interrupting something?” Lysander enquired nonchalantly.
We broke apart, and for a second I couldn’t figure out where Lysander was, I was so disorientated. Scorpius kept his arm around my waist, but I didn’t meet his eyes.
I just kissed a married man. A soon-to-be father.
A Malfoy. Dad was going to kill me.
Lysander held up his hands in a surrendering manner. “My bad,” he continued. “I didn’t really expect to see that though...”
Scorpius found his voice. “The meeting time was hours ago,” he said accusingly.
“You’re still here though, so it wasn’t too bad.”
Lysander strode up to meet us, and as soon as he was close enough, he pulled me away from Scorpius and enveloped me in a massive hug. I hugged him back, half-resting my head on his shoulder. I missed the twins. They were like older brothers, looking out for me rather than the other way around, like I had to with Hugo.
And then Lysander whispered in my ear. His breath was warm, but his words chilled me. “They’re watching us. I was caught. It’s a trap.”
He let go of me and I had to work hard to keep the shock off my face. “Where’s Albus?” I asked, keeping my voice even and light. I was happy to see my friend, I told myself, my friend who definitely didn’t just tell me something. “And have you heard from James or Lily?”
“Albus is with me,” he said, as I slowly retreated back towards Scorpius. “But we’re taking turns to scout out the pool for you guys. I haven’t seen James or Lily, and there’s been no sign of anyone else yet either.”
I heard the double meaning behind his words. James and Lily are safe. No-one else has been caught. He had avoided mentioning Hugo as well- which meant that he was safe, surely?- nevertheless, he had probably wanted to keep Theo’s name out of conversation. But Albus had been caught as well.
Scorpius opened his mouth to say something, but I grabbed at his hand, catching hold of two fingers and snapping them back quickly. The crack! they made was easily audible, and Scorpius yelped with pain.
“What’s wrong?” Lysander asked, like he hadn’t just seen me break Scorpius’ fingers.
“He’s fine,” I said, answering for him. “He gets cramp in his fingers at the weirdest times.”
Scorpius looked at me to Lysander, nursing his fingers against his chest, but wisely just nodded. He could see there was something underneath the surface here, and he suddenly smiled at me, as if to say; I’ll go along with anything.
Now all I had to work out was how to get off this rooftop, and not in a body bag.
But then another face appeared at the edge of the roof hole. A face that had imprinted itself on my memory and my stomach twisted in hatred. He still bore the bruises from his fight with Scorpius, and we both simultaneously whipped out our wands, pointing them at Marcus.
“I really wouldn’t do that if I were you,” he said, not even making a move to get his own wand out. Lysander shook his head warningly, and I lowered my wand, motioning for Scorpius to do the same.
“I thought I told you not to give anything away,” he said softly, and Lysander winced. “Never mind,” Marcus continued. “We’re all together now. I have to say, I didn’t expect you two to turn up. Didn’t think you’d be so stupid. Was it Malfoy’s idea?”
He lazily walked towards us, and I took hold of Scorpius’ wrist. I didn’t want to grab his broken fingers, but I didn’t want him to lose himself and launch himself at Marcus. I could see that he wanted to. Every muscle in his body looked tense, and the hatred on his face was curled into an ugly scowl.
“Anyway,” Marcus said. “The honest truth of it is that we have Lorcan, Albus, and now you two. Not quite according to plan, but then, we were planning for people with some degree of intelligence.” Marcus shrugged. “Just in case you were thinking of trying anything, please keep in mind that there is a blanket anti-apparating spell and the whole building is booby-trapped with curses... not to mention I have twenty Fraternity members and a dozen Aurors here.” He shrugged. The number was small, but more than enough for two people. “It seems that the criminals and the crime-fighters have been united with common interests,” he said. “Namely, the end of the Clan. You make everyone look bad.
“I am curious as to how you managed to keep all this from your family, from your friends, from your work colleagues, from the Prophet. Is it memory charms? Confunding people? Or do you just lie, and they mindlessly believe you?”
Marcus was enjoying this, the bastard. Our helplessness, and contrasting that with what we used to have. What we used to have. We used to have a network of informants, bottomless resources and solid alibis. We used to have fun, we used to break the law just to lift the boredom and to live a little, to take a few Galleons off a rich bloke and put it to better use with a party, or extravagant Christmas presents. We used to have each other. All sixteen of us. We were a team, a family, and we were amazing together.
“Oh, and Red, what have you done with your hair? Are you colour-blind?”
“I hate you.” The words fell out of my mouth unbidden, but I didn’t regret them. Marcus just laughed, walking forwards until he was level with Lysander. He stood easily, his hands in his jacket pockets.
“You dyed it specifically to spite me?” he asked, chuckling. But he stopped laughing when a cloud of silver spiralled down on the rooftop, solidifying into a moderately sized bird- a cuckoo, I thought. It perched on an aerial, opening his mouth, and out poured a man’s voice, deep and sounding pleased.
“Dominique and Victoire Weasley, and Theodore Lupin have been secured from Hogwarts.”
Hogwarts. That’s where they had been hiding. I had to admit, it was a good idea. We already had a good idea of how to get in, and Dom would have had a copy of the Marauder’s Map- but we’d already been followed in by the Fraternity once. It must have been easy, the second time.
The bird dissolved into the crisp night air, and Marcus broke into a huge grin. “It’s going to be one big family reunion then!” he said.
“What are you going to do with them?” Scorpius asked stiffly, but Marcus just widened his smile, like a crocodile before it snapped you up.
“Exactly what we’re going to do with you.”
“And that is?” I asked, spitting the words out through clenched teeth.
“Take you up to the boss’ big house in Yorkshire,” he said. “He’s overly fond of theatrics, in my opinion, but he’s enabled me to get rid of you, so I’ll put up with anything while there are still Clan-members to catch. Ooh,” he said suddenly, realising something, “my uncle and granddaddy were Snatchers for Voldemort. I guess it runs in the family.”
And then suddenly Lysander tackled Marcus to the floor, rolling with him down the roof. I was still holding Scorpius’ wrist, and set off running, slipping down the rooftop to the hole. I paused on the edge, looking for Lysander, and saw him wave me away. Marcus’ wand clattered down the slope, spinning off the edge, and Marcus howled in pain as Lysander elbowed him in the face.
“Go, Red!” he yelled, so I tightened my hold on Scorpius, and we jumped together. My right ankle jarred as we landed on the top step of the spectator balcony, but I couldn’t afford to think about that now, so I limped after Scorpius, as he made for the steps down to the main floor. But where the stairs should have been was a thick, sweet-smelling fog. It hung heavily on the floor, occasional tendrils creeping forwards, and then one shot out towards Scorpius, but he jumped backwards just in time.
“Booby-traps,” he snarled, and headed for the balcony instead. “You lower me down,” he said, “and then I’ll catch you.”
“Reparo,” Scorpius said, and winced as his fingers suddenly snapped straight. “That probably isn’t the best solution, but next time you want me to shut up, stand on my foot or something.”
He quickly climbed over the railing, and I leant over, holding onto his wrists and his fingers were wrapped painfully around mine. His own face was screwed up in agony. I hooked my foot around the metal frame for the rows of seats, my muscles burning as I tried to lean as far as I could forwards without falling. Scorpius let go, and fell about six foot to the tiles below, landing heavily.
“Are you alright?”
He picked himself up, taking no notice of me. “The bag?” he asked, and I dropped it over the balcony. He caught it, bending his knees to absorb the weight. There was a yell from the roof, but Scorpius shook his head, tightening the rucksack’s straps on his shoulder.
“Come on!” he told me quickly, looking left and right anxiously.
I swung myself over the railing as well, shuffling down until I was only holding on by my fingertips. “Scorpius?”
“I’ll probably catch you,” he called back.
I let go, and he did half-catch me, but I jarred my ankle again and this time I was pretty sure something snapped. I gritted my teeth and tested my weight- I could walk on it without screaming in agony.
“All the exits are going to be barred,” Scorpius said, and I nodded.
“Try the windows,” I suggested, limping towards one. “Not the ones that have already been smashed.”
Scorpius saw what I meant, and got out his wand. “Wingardium Leviosa!” he said, pointing his wand at an abandoned lifeguard’s chair. It awkwardly climbed into the air, and then he flung his arm towards one of the few surviving whole windows, aiming for the bottom. It crashed through spectacularly, sending a shower of glass down into the empty pool.
I had shielded my face with a sleeve, and now I hobbled across to the window, my shoes crunching the shards. Scorpius ran up behind me, and helped me through the window. He could see I was hurt, even if I wasn’t saying anything. I swear, the only times I am injured is while running away from things. Maybe it’s Godric Gryffindor’s spirit cursing me for not standing and fighting.
I advanced cautiously across the unused car park with Scorpius at my side, scanning the darkness for any signs of the thirty-plus bad guys that Marcus told us about. A shout; and a jet of red light sped towards us. I threw up a Shield Charm, and grabbed Scorpius’ arm, tugging him along. It soon was the other way around, as I concentrated on deflecting and returning fire.
“STUPEFY!” I yelled.
“Christ Red, that was in my ear!” Scorpius moaned.
“Oh, shut up,” I snapped. “CONFRINGO!” I yelled, seeing a tree, and it burst into flames. It was quite interesting to note that in high-stress situations, everyone called me Red. Maybe it was because it was short and snappy; less feminine than the flowery Rose.
Scorpius slowed down running, and I stumbled after him. “I think we can Disapparate now,” he said, and I needed no further encouragement.
-Rose: homeless drop-in centre, Sheffield
Saturday 1st January, 6.30am
I’d Apparated us away to another of the Clan’s drop-off points in Sheffield, the goods entrance to a shopping centre. In the early hours of the morning on New Year’s Day, it was deserted. There, we’d strapped up our broken bones and cleaned any scratches we had, and cleaned up our faces.
And I’ll say one thing for Muggles, they certainly were generous during the festive season. We’d found a homeless drop-in centre, and been accepted in without question. I wondered briefly what Scorpius’ parents would have said to see him huddled over a cup of coffee, an empty bowl of soup next to him, and wrapped up against the biting cold in donated scarves. I shuffled over to him. Someone had given me a parka and while warm, the bulk was really restricting.
“So, I may have screwed up a lot back there,” he said sullenly, wincing as he flexed his fingers.
“It was a good idea,” I said, comfortingly.
“No, it was a crap idea. It was what they were expecting us to do.”
“It was a good idea,” I inisisted. “We’re stronger together, or we’ll just get picked off individually, unless we can keep totally under cover like Roxy.”
“So what’s the next big plan?” Scorpius asked, taking a sip of his coffee.
“We’re going to meet up with the rest of us, and then we’re going to storm the house in Yorkshire to get Lysander and Lorcan and the rest back, and to finish this.”
Scorpius didn’t even look at me. “So what’s the real plan?”
“Scorpius, I’m serious. Think of everything we achieved together.” I lowered my voice as a do-gooder refilled Scorpius’ cup, and when she moved away, I carried on. “Together, we were unstoppable. Now, we’re divided and not one-tenth of what we were. Plus, I highly doubt they are expecting us to launch an attack, so we’ll have the element of surprise.”
I could tell Scorpius kind of liked the plan- it was crazy to the point where it could possibly work. With all of us. “You’re completely mad,” he said, shaking his head.
I grinned. “I’ll tell you a secret; all the best people are.”
A/N: I am so sorry for the massive delay in getting this chapter out :( I truly am a bad person, and it was a horrible way to repay all you lovely people for supporting me in the Dobbies. Every vote meant so much to me, and I am indebted to you all. Thank you. I hope this chapter makes up for it, and I hope you enjoyed it. (Please review!) As you can probably tell, we're nearing the end of Hattie now.
Also, 'all the best people are mad' is a wonderful (adapted) quote from Alice in Wonderland, by Lewis Carroll.
Chapter 18: friends, arguments, and step one of the plan.
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-Rose; Monday 3rd January
Another hotel, Sheffield
I could feel Scorpius’ eyes burning into me, but I didn’t look up from sorting our belongings. We’d acquired some money –don’t ask how, or your opinion of us will go down considerably- and now I’d begun the hard task of properly planning. Apart from stories, things are never as simple as ‘let’s meet up and then crash this party dude’.
“Scorp, can I have some coloured ink?” I asked, spreading the sheets of paper out in front of me. “And crank up the radio. I work better with music.”
I wasn’t going to leave anything to chance this time, and if that meant we were holed up in this new hotel until next week, then that was that. Scorpius turned up the music for me- it was some mindless new Muggle pop music, but we didn’t want to draw attention to ourselves by blasting adverts that promised to re-service your broom for only fourteen Galleons! or listening to A Cauldron Full Of Hot, Strong Love.
Scorpius rolled some bottles of ink over to me, and I uncorked one, a delicious deep purple. My mind works so much better with colours. I glanced up at Scorpius, dipping my quill in.
“So, what do we know so far?”
“You want to do a recap?”
“Yup. So, we’ve lost Lorcan, Lysander and Albus,” I said, trying to be as matter of fact as possible to stop the lump forming in my throat.
“And Dom, Vic and Teddy,” Scorpius said. I wrote their names down as well.
“And we also know that Hugo is safe with Theodore Nott, and we don’t know where James is, and Lily is a werewolf...”
“And Roxy is on her own somewhere, probably having the time of her life.”
“And Theo told us that Freddy and Louis have been caught- presumably they’ll be with the others?”
“Hopefully. If everyone has been separated, then this plan is not going to work.”
Scorpius muttered something under his breath that sounded suspiciously like ‘this plan isn’t going to work anyway,’ but I stolidly ignored him, my nib scratching away at the paper. “So we’ve only got Molly, James, Roxanne, Lily and Lucy to find,” I said.
“Only them to find.”
I flicked green ink at him, and it spattered onto his new checked shirt. “You have got to stop being so negative.”
“What’s the grand plan then?”
“We’re going to check all the safe houses,” I said, writing ‘stage one’ in loopy pink handwriting.
Scorpius craned his head to read upside-down. “But no-one knows where all of them are!”
“Didn’t Tracey give us an atlas?” I asked. “Start marking on the ones you know. I’ll do the same. We’ll start in London and work our way out. I bet someone is in the capital.”
“Who would be stupid enough to stick around in the capital?”
-Rose; Wednesday 5th January
Safe house #I’ve lost count, London.
It turned out, no one was. I’d lost count of how many safe houses we had searched and come up with nothing except dust and a little bit of food.
“Anything?” I called out to Scorpius, who was checking the kitchen of the latest safe house, a tiny apartment flat that you couldn’t swing a Kneazle in, if you felt so inclined.
I scowled a little, but I was still buoyed up by the simple brilliance of my plan. Safety in numbers, right? Together, we’d always been stronger. This was a war, and we needed an army. But no matter how many metaphors and inspirational snippets I could think of, I didn’t know where the others were hiding.
I skidded into the kitchen, nearly falling arse-over-tit on the slick hardwood floor. “What?” I asked when I had regained my dignity and balance.
“Look,” he said, and passed me a small slip of paper. I turned it over, thinking it might be a note, but it was a receipt. I gave him an unimpressed look.
“Look at the date,” Scorpius said, sighing.
I looked at the date. “That’s... that’s two weeks ago,” I said. “Someone’s been here recently!”
Scorpius looked condescending, as he’d probably come to same conclusion a while ago, so I smacked him upside the head.
“We should keep a watch on the chemist,” I said. “We can take it in turns; one watches the chemist while the other checks the safe houses-”
Scorpius cut me off. “We are not separating,” he said in a voice that could cut glass.
I raised an eyebrow. “Why?”
“We aren’t separating,” he repeated, as if that settled the argument.
It didn’t. “Why not?” I asked, making my voice as threatening as I could. I wasn’t great at threatening people, and whenever I needed to, my head started to throw up things like; Scorpius is a whole foot taller than you, and he was pretty good at duelling, and you’re standing very close to him- really, if you fought now, you’ve got 0.00001% of actually winning.
“Because if something goes wrong, then we should be together,” Scorpius said. “I can’t lose you Rose.”
It was the way he said it that killed me. He looked the same as when I’d taken him to hospital for poisoning, or when I’d watched over him at Tracey’s, that same mix of helplessness and determination and trust and good-looking, as if he knew he looked like an adorable puppy. I just couldn’t.
I turned away from him, breathing deeply and doing everything in my power to block out the memory of us kissing on the swimming pool roof, the sound of the fireworks and the feel of his cold, chapped lips under mine... Scorpius came up behind me, wrapping his arms around my middle, his chin resting on my shoulder, and I wriggled out of his grasp and was across the room and down the fire escape as fast as I could, surprising myself with the vehemence with which I pushed him away with.
Scorpius was also pretty fast, and I could hear him clattering on the grilled fire escape behind me, so when I reached the bottom I stopped, and waited.
“Why?” he asked, echoing me, but it most definitely was not about us separating now.
I just shook my head, trying to restore some order to my thoughts.
“You were the one that kissed me on that roof!” he said, trying to keep his voice level.
“What?” I said, outraged. I kissed him? That was not how I remembered it- but now I cast my mind back, I couldn’t exactly remember how...
“I can’t,” I said instead, the words sounding pitiful as they left my lips.
“Can’t do this,” I said, spitting the word out with so much force I left him in no doubt what I meant. “Not now. Not after Richie, not with Hugo missing, not with any of this shit that is going on.”
Scorpius’ face dropped, and I realised that this was what he needed- he needed me, needed some love, some companionship to help him through.
“I can’t,” I repeated, trying to harden my heart against Scorpius. God, I had never wanted to hold someone more in my life, but I knew that if I let myself go enough to do that, then I would break into tiny pieces as well. “I’ll see you back at the hotel.”
I started to walk down the back street, but after a few seconds, I could hear the pounding of feet as Scorpius caught up to me.
“I said I didn’t want us to separate,” he told me softly, and without thinking, I took his hand in mine, and he squeezed my fingers reassuringly.
He wasn’t helping at all, but I didn’t want to be alone either.
-Rose: Saturday 8th January
The Black Cat Café, Priory Road
There was a café outside the pharmacy, and Scorpius and I sat in the window, watching. We must have looked ridiculous- we had baseball caps pulled down over our eyes and one of us was usually asleep, tired out from our nightly checking of the safe houses. It was the only way we could stay together and keep watch on the pharmacy as well. We kept buying drinks, and that’s all the coffee shop owners cared about. It was Scorpius asleep at the moment. He badly needed a haircut- he kept pushing it back behind his ears, but at the moment it was lying over his cheek. I brushed it back for him, and luckily he didn’t wake up, just sighed contentedly in his sleep, as if he was in a four poster bed, and not slouched over a counter with dried ketchup dangerously close to his nose. I debated wiping that away for him as well, but a movement in the pharmacy opposite caught my eye. Someone had ducked in, an orange cap pulled down over their eyes. I elbowed Scorpius sharply.
“What?” he said groggily, wiping the sleep from his eyes.
“I think I just saw Molly,” I said. “She was wearing a Chudley Cannon baseball cap.”
“Molly supports the Chudley Cannons?” Scorpius said, confused. He was frustratingly slow at waking up.
“James plays for the Cannons, moron. We all have support the Cannons. Get up, come on, quickly!”
So when Molly stepped out of the pharmacy, clutching a paper bag, she walked straight into me and Scorpius. She started to say ‘excuse me’ and walk around us, but then she looked up, and gasped.
“Red, why is your hair blue?”
My hand automatically shot up to feel my hair, self-consciously. “It’s a disguise. Can’t you tell? Anyway, blame Scorpius. It was his idea.”
Scorpius smiled, but Molly didn’t smile back. I was confused for a second, and then remembered that not everyone knew Scorpius like I did. Hell, I would be surprised if Albus and Scorpius were closer than we were now. The thought didn’t bother me like I thought it would. He was alright really.
“You probably shouldn’t keep going to the same pharmacy,” Scorpius said, but Molly just scowled at him, and then the penny dropped- last time everyone was together, we were all moderately sure that Scorpius was our traitor.
“Why were you waiting for me?” Molly asked. “It’s safer to be in smaller groups, surely?”
“We’re tired of running,” I said. “We’ve got a plan, but we need your help.”
“Okay,” she said warily.
“Do you want to go somewhere else?” I asked. “We’ve got a hotel room just down the road, rather than standing here.”
She smiled thinly. “I don’t mean to be rude, but we still don’t know who the traitor is. If you really have got a plan, then I’d rather you tell me here and then I can decide if you’re telling the truth or not.”
Scorpius burst out laughing, and me and Molly looked at him in amazement.
“What is so funny?” I asked.
“We’ve blindly trusted everyone, because we assume we haven’t got another choice, and we’ve nearly died so many times.” He wiped away a tear. “Merlin, we could have had it so easy if we’d been like Molly.”
“That is true.”
Molly looked shocked. “You’ve had it bad then? I haven’t seen anyone. Just listened to the radio and-” she cut herself off, her hand over her mouth, and I tried to smile reassuringly.
“Don’t tell us anything you don’t want to,” I said. “But you’ll hear us out? We can just go in the café over the road.”
Molly nodded. “Okay.”
I let Scorpius tell Molly about our adventures so far (except the bit where he was unconscious, I told that). By the end, Molly’s mouth was wide open.
“So you’re telling me that the only people who is still on the outside is us three, Lucy, James and Lily, and Roxy?”
“Yep,” I said, setting down coffees for all of us.
“And you want to try and attack whoever is persecuting us? With seven people? Do you know how impossible that sounds?”
I had to hold back a snort. “Molly, after what we’ve just told you, don’t you think your definition of ‘impossible’ should change?”
“So what’s the plan then?” she asked, taking a sip and grimacing. I passed her the sugar.
“Molly, for all we know, you could be the traitor. Give us something to trust you with, please,” Scorpius said.
I nearly spilt my coffee in amazement until I realised that this was a very sensible idea. Scorpius hadn’t really told Molly anything we wouldn’t want the Fraternity to know- he was vague about Tracey’s whereabouts, and he hadn’t said that we assumed Lily was the werewolf.
Molly grinned. “Alright. I trust you guys now. I’ve been holed up with Lucy, and we’ve been rotating through all the safe houses in London, living as Muggles.”
“What did you need to keep going to the pharmacy for?” I interrupted.
Molly looked down. “Lucy. She’s anaemic. It’s easily controlled with a proper diet, but we haven’t been eating properly.”
I didn’t know what to say, and Scorpius didn’t either, just took a large gulp of his coffee.
“It’s alright,” she continued. “She’s not got badly sick or anything. We’re fine. Erm, we haven’t been in contact with anyone, just tried to gather information as subtly as we can. I’ve broken into the Prophet’s headquarters a few times to see what they knew, but they don’t know squat. The only thing I found out about us was some gossip that they weren’t allowed to print. Someone had stopped them.”
“What gossip? Who had stopped it?” I asked, interested.
“Some guy called Collins. Bradley Collins, I’ve never heard of him while I was at the Prophet- I think he’s some big shot American.”
Under the table, Scorpius grabbed my hand, recognising the name as well. Zach. I swear, when this is over, I’m going to kill him.
“What gossip was it?”
“Stuff that would be harmless enough, if this wasn’t happening. Like, Albus is going out with some Muggle girl, apparently you’re married, Scorp, and Freddie’s a dad, no one is even allowed to use the words ‘Rose Weasley’ and ‘Zachariah Dalton’ in the same sentence, oh and Lily’s a werewolf. I think that was it. It’s quite weird really, because the Prophet are trying their hardest to blacken our names, but they’re not allowed to print that?”
Scorpius stood up. “We need to go somewhere private,” he said seriously. “We’ve got a lot more things to tell you.”
An hour later, we were sitting in the living room of Molly’s current safe house, a small terrace that I’d never been to before. Lucy had been so happy to see us both, and a lot less wary than Molly had been.
“So what is it that’s so secret then?” Molly asked. She looked more than a fair bit worried.
I took a deep breath. “Molls, Zachariah Dalton is Bradley Collins. And Lily is a werewolf. We think. And Scorpius is married. And something to do with Zach is going on here as well as everything else.”
“Wait,” Scorpius said suddenly, holding up his hand. “You don’t think Zach is behind all this?”
“No, I don’t. He’s not behind this. He tried to help me at the trial, and he’s helping us now by keeping all of this out the press.”
“How is it helping?!”
Molly chipped in, holding her hands up to quiet the argument. “It is helping. Because Zach has a cap on this, then he’s stopping the Fraternity from getting their hands on that information. They don’t have anything on what could hurt us- if they tried to kidnap our family, half the wizarding world would form search parties. If they knew about this, then they could find a way to get to us.”
I put my hands on my hips, daring Scorpius to argue with us some more. He sat back in his seat, scowling. Lucy bit her lip.
“What, Lou?” Molly said. “Spit it out.”
“If half the rumours are right, do you think they all could be?”
“That’s a thought,” I said. “Scorp, do you still have that list of dodgy goings on?”
Still glowering at me, he rummaged around in his bag and produced the parchment. To be honest, I was really surprised it had lasted this long. I read the list out.
“Hugo: last to get to cells, even though Rose was there. Weird magical device that turned out the lights. Put-Outer, you moron.
Dom: been lying about petty stuff recently: eg. Boyfriend’s work party.
Roxanne: whiny cow.
Teddy: a contact said he saw him in Knockturn Alley, buying Acromantula seeds.
Lucy: works for the Ministry, didn’t seem very upset at the ‘trial’.
James: G15 million in account. More money came in from a P Jones.
Victoire: was pregnant. Highly unlikely suspect.
Freddy: dodgy phone call after we got back from Essex, looked really shifty.
Rose: highly likely. Is badass and awesome, after all.
Albus: disappearing act on a train. Some seriously spooky shit going down.
Scorpius: far too defensive. Definitely hiding something. Maybe another wife hidden away?”
Lucy looked outraged when I’d finished. “I’m on the list?!”
Molly grinned. “I’m not!”
I ignored them both. “Okay, who can we cross off then?”
“Me and you and Lucy,” Scorpius suggested helpfully.
“I’m not too sure about you,” I said, but crossed us both off. “And it wouldn’t be Victoire, we already said as much. What if the phone call I interrupted was about Freddie’s girlfriend? That she was pregnant? I couldn’t imagine him being ecstatic about it- I don’t think it would have been planned.”
“What, and Albus met his girlfriend with you on a train?” Scorp said, unimpressed. “This makes no sense.”
“It kind of does,” Lucy said, chipping in. “Albus never tells us about his girlfriend’s especially if he’s really serious about them. James takes the piss too much.”
“Well, we can cross James off too. We know where the money was coming in from now,” I said. “And it won’t be Hugo either.”
There was a long pause. “Why couldn’t it be Hugo?”
“Because it’s can’t be Hugo.” I turned to look at Scorpius, incredulous. “Are you really doubting my brother?”
“Who else is there? That knew we would be at the swimming pool?”
“Marcus mentioned Lorcan. Lysander would have told Lorcan anything if he didn’t realise he was a traitor,” Scorpius said.
“And Lorcan had those weird texts on his phone,” I said slowly. I shook my head. “No, it’s not Lorcan, don’t be stupid.”
“Well, then it must be Hugo,” Scorpius said, as if my best friend’s innocence proved my brother’s guilt.
“What about Roxanne?” Molly said.
“What?” Scorpius and I spoke at the same time, and I punched him, just because I could and he was annoying me.
“Well, she’s not been seen. No-one’s seen her. Why couldn’t she be the traitor?”
Lucy nodded in agreement. “It could be her. It’s as likely as it is for Hugo and Lorcan anyway. Anyway. What’s the plan? How are we going to stop all this happening? Debating on the traitor isn’t helping our current situation, at all.”
“The plan is to get the Clan back together, and we’ll be strong enough to take down the Fraternity, and whoever is running them.”
“Yeah, but there is seven of us, and we don’t know where we’re going, apart from Yorkshire. And that’s a massive county.”
Scorpius nodded. “I was going to ask about ‘stage two’,” he said, curling his fingers around the words.
“We’re not done with stage one yet,” I said, not happy with him mocking my plan. “And besides, I don’t want you to shout at me.”
Scorpius didn’t have to say anything, he just looked at me sternly.
Lucy coughed. “Are you going to tell us, or shall we just leave you to it?”
I sincerely hoped I wasn’t blushing as red as I thought I was. “I know where they will be,” I said, perhaps more forcefully then I needed to be. “Well, I think I do. It’s a house called Langdon End.”
“How do you know this?” Molly asked, sounding a lot like a reporter.
“When we broke into my flat, I found a piece of paper with the address on.”
“What makes you think that it’ll be the right house?”
“Well, it’s in Yorkshire... and it had one of Zach’s pseudonyms on it.”
I legitimately thought that Scorpius was going to explode. “What?” he hissed through clenched teeth. “More stuff from Zach?”
“Does it matter where it’s from?” I asked. “Look, I googled it and it doesn’t exist. We know this person could control the Ministry, maybe even is a Ministry employee, so their house is invisible to Muggles.” I sighed in frustration, throwing my hands up in the air in an exaggerated fashion. I realised that both Scorpius and I were standing up. He didn’t want to understand. “Look, this is the only lead we have. And it’s not a bad one.”
“You want me to trust something that he is connected to?” Scorpius snapped.
“No, I want you to trust me!” I yelled at him, finally raising my voice. “Don’t you? I’ve got you out of every scrape, every single thing you fuck up, I’ve been there and sorted it, and now you won’t trust me on one thing because it’s got Zach’s name on it. Do you have any idea how stupid that sounds?”
“Are you calling me stupid? Saying I get myself into ‘scrapes’? What, am I holding you back, Rose?”
“You are when you’re being stubborn, like this! What are you jealous?” As soon as the words left my mouth, I realised it was a massive, massive mistake. Scorpius visibly deflated. He opened his mouth to say something, and then thought better of it.
“Guys, we have a problem.” Lucy was looking out the blinds, checking the street outside.
“What?” I asked, not taking my eyes away from Scorpius’ face, trying to say I was sorry without actually saying it.
“There’s a Fraternity member outside. I think. I’m pretty sure I’ve seen him before.”
Molly stood up, making her way to the window. “He must have followed us here,” she said. She turned back to us, but my hands were already in the air.
“I swear, we had nothing to do with it. We’re not the traitors.”
“Well, what are you going to do about it?” Molly asked, picking up her coat from the sofa and shrugging it on, making sure Lucy’s pills were in her pocket.
“We’ll drive them away,” I said, hopefully sounding more determined than I felt.
“Are you sure?”
“Of course!” I exclaimed. “We’re practically experts at this now. We’ll meet up at ....Nottingham forest. You know the big tree that Robin Hood was supposed to meet his Merry Men? We’ll meet there, two days from now. When you hear us leave now, then you go.”
Molly grabbed Lucy’s hand and pulled her out to the back door. I looked at Scorpius.
“Have you got a plan?” I asked, trying to give him a smile. He gave me a similarly weak one in return.
“Kind of. There’s a motorbike parked at the front,” he said. I peered through the blinds.
“Have you driven one of those before?” I asked, looking in horror at the massive black contraption.
“Well,” said Scorpius grinning, “there’s a first time for everything.”
I must have looked as appalled as I felt, and Scorpius laughed. “Luckily,” he said, “this isn’t my first time.”
He grabbed my hand and pulled me out onto the street. I pulled out my wand and cast a quick Shield Charm to cover us both, shaking my head at Scorpius’ sudden lunacy. “Don’t put the helmet on, we need everyone to see our faces,” he told me.
“What?” I tried to ask, but he’d already taken the helmets from me, throwing them down the street, and jumped on the bike, revving the engine.
A/N: So sorry for the long wait guys, and if you have stuck with me this far, then you are completely brilliant, and I love you all so much. I promise that updates will be more regular now. I am really sorry, and I hope you enjoyed this :)
Chapter 19: motorbikes, arrivals and the continuing of our plan.
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-Rose: Saturday 8th January
Various roads in London
I clung onto Scorpius back, swearing, but my words were ripped away by the wind, and my eyes were streaming. My Shield Charm couldn’t do anything to protect us from the elements- I didn’t know how Scorpius was managing to see the road. We swerved around a parked car and then Scorp accelerated even more, the wind howling in my ears.
“Do you mind telling me what in the name of Merlin’s pants you are doing?” I yelled in Scorpius’ ear.
He looked over his right shoulder, and then quickly swung the bike down a side street, my knee almost scraping the ground as the bike leant to the side. He braked, and the bike jerked to a stop. I felt like I was locked in position, curled up against Scorpius’ back, my legs aching from gripping the bike so hard.
He turned to face me. “We’ve got about three seconds before they catch up and we lose our head start, okay?”
“Then quickly tell me what your stupid-ass plan is,” I snapped, managing to stretch out my legs.
He rolled his eyes. “We need to get the attention of everyone else, don’t we?” he said.
“And this is the way to do it?”
“This is a way to do it, and considering our limited options at the moment, doesn’t escaping on a bike seem like a good idea?”
Whoa, stressed Scorpius was sassy. “What’s going to stop us being caught by Aurors then?” I asked.
“Just the fact that we’re on a motorbike in the middle of Muggle London. As soon as we attract the attention of the Muggle police, then any Aurors are going to have to slack off so they don’t draw attention to themselves.”
It seemed like Scorpius had thought of everything. “Right... wait, what’s stopping the Fraternity from blowing up London? They won’t care about the Statute of Secrecy.”
“They’ll be trying to keep their involvement secret as well, I think.”
“You think?” I said. It wasn’t particularly reassuring, and I didn’t feel particularly reassured.
Around the corner of the side street, the Fraternity member appeared, wheezing and panting. He saw us, and his mouth fell open- he was probably surprised he’d caught up with us. He fumbled for his wand, and tried to say a spell, but no words came out.
I couldn’t help it. I laughed. The guy was knackered; red in the face, doubled over and trying to heave in the breaths. It was hilarious.
And then, around the corner, zoomed two more Fraternity guys on broomsticks. Scorpius’ eyes widened, and he quickly kicked the motorbike into roaring life. I hooked my legs back up, and looped my arms around his waist.
“Let’s see if we can make the six o’clock news,” I said, and Scorpius grinned, our earlier argument forgotten... and then we were off, leaving behind a cloud of black noxious smoke.
Looking behind me, I saw one of the guys stop to pick up the exhausted man, but the other didn’t pause, just kept on after us. I felt the familiar thrill of adrenaline, and couldn’t help but smile.
“Go to the main roads,” I yelled, my mouth close to his ear. He nodded, and then had to mount the pavement to avoid killing a cyclist, and I nearly fell off from the sudden bump. I ducked my head between his shoulder blades, and held his waist even tighter.
Scorp went straight across the centre of a roundabout, leaving a thin line of mud behind him, his wheel tearing up the grass. The first guy had nearly caught up to us- while we had to dodge traffic, he was fine up in the air. I couldn’t believe that he was actually flying a broomstick in broad daylight in London but hey, it wasn’t us breaking the International Statute of Secrecy, and I really couldn’t see how we could possibly be blamed for this.
“WATCH OUT!” I couldn’t help myself, and I gasped and shut my eyes for a second as a Muggle police car shot out in front of us. Scorpius braked, swinging the bike around so hard that my left knee slightly grazed the ground, the tarmac ripping through my jeans and into my skin. He heaved the bike back around, slamming the rear wheel into the police car’s passenger door, and revved the engine hard. With a lot of wheel spin, we started back the way we had come. I chanced a look back. There was a Muggle motorbike edging around the now stationary police car, which was blocking the road, but the Fraternity man on the broom was already back on our tail- he’d swung upwards in the air to do a loop rather than attempt a handbrake turn.
Ahead of us, the road was clear, but in the sky, I could see the other broomstick, with two Fraternity members travelling jerkily towards us. The guy on the back aimed his wand at us, and I prayed my Shield would hold- but I didn’t need to. The man in control of the broom suddenly yanked it upwards, probably trying to loop around like the other broom and cut us off in front, but the combined weight of the two men was too much and it broke clean in half, sending both men tumbling to the ground about fifteen metres ahead of us. Scorpius had already seen, and braked, before turning the bike to the right, using his feet to help steady us. In the three second lull where we were stationary and the wind was no longer howling in my ears, I became horribly aware of an awful, fiery pain in my knee- but then we were off again, and I glanced behind, pushing the pain to the back of my mind. I couldn’t afford to think about that now, not when our lives were in danger. The other broomstick followed like a large angry wasp, hovering just on our tail. I leaned forwards and yelled in Scorpius’ ear.
“WE HAVE TO LOSE HIM.”
He looked around –his other shoulder, fortunately, or he would have broken my nose- and grimaced. We swung into a side street, and then into another, this one so small the handlebars were scraping along the brick walls on either side of us. Behind us, the Fraternity man swooped down low, only narrowly managing to corner well enough to squeeze into the alley after us. The alley’s walls were high and there was no one around-
“GET RID OF HIM,” Scorpius shouted, but I’d already seen my opportunity and got rid of the Shield Charm with a wave of my wand. The guy’s eyes widened when he realised I had twisted around, pointing my wand right at him, and for a moment I hesitated. He looked so young, suddenly, so small and I knew this spell could kill him-
And then he reached for his wand, and I slashed my wand downwards and yelled; “INCENDIO!”
He looked so shocked for an awful second, and then his broomstick exploded from beneath him, and I ducked down against Scorpius as a bit of flaming wood catapulted over our heads. I glanced back. There was a crumpled body on the ground, surrounded by small fires.
I swallowed. My mouth was suddenly very dry, and my heart pumped loudly in my chest. “HE’S GONE,” I yelled, and Scorpius nodded, pulling back out onto a main road.
He took a right at a roundabout, just cutting across anti-clockwise, and a car beeped its horn at us angrily. A few more swift turns, and he slowed down, to the correct speed limit.
“Can you see anyone?” he called over his shoulder. I realised what he meant, and shouted a negative at him. There was no-one around now who could be following us, just a few other cars and a Muggle pushing a pram.
We drove for a little while longer, keeping slow and safe, and then Scorpius pulled into an alley. He swung off the bike, leaning against it with his hips to stop it from falling over as I clambered off as well. I nearly fell over as my injured knee tried to take my weight. Scorpius saw immediately, of course, and tried to help me, but was hindered by the weight of the bike.
“Are you okay?” he asked, his eyes flitting from my blood soaked knee and up to my face. “You’ve gone really pale...”
“It’s fine, I just banged it,” I lied. “Just let me lean on your shoulder a second, I can walk it off.”
Scorpius frowned, clearly not buying it. ‘Walk it off’... maybe if I hadn’t tried to be quite so blasé, he would have bought it. Bugger.
“We should apparate,” I said, looking around and listening. I couldn’t hear any sirens yet, but I didn’t doubt that the Muggle police were coming, and reinforcements for the Fraternity would be close behind.
“Do you feel up to it?” Scorpius said, continuing to eye my knee worriedly.
I sighed angrily. “Yes, I’m fine mother, stop fussing.” I gingerly walked over to where he stood, arms folded.
“You’re not fine.”
I wordlessly held out my arm for him to take, and then wrenched him round on the spot with me- perhaps more aggressively than was actually needed.
-Saturday 8th January
Rose: Bangladesh B&B
“So, what are we going to do then? Hang around in this shitty B&B for two days until it’s time to go meet the others?”
I sighed. “Scorp, the walls are so thin here, the owners are probably sharpening their pitchforks right now.”
“You were the one that apparated here.”
“You are the one insulting them.” Scorpius finished bandaging my knee. When we’d appeared in a wood about half a mile away, and I’d fallen straight over –Scorpius’ signature move- he’d demanded to see how bad it actually was. And then he forced me into accepting a piggyback ride all the way to civilisation, which turned out to be this tiny bed and breakfast. Needless to say, the two pensioners didn’t really take kindly to a couple of twenty-something ‘walkers’ who turned up out the blue, blood-soaked and muddy- but it was warm and clean and dry here, and they’d dubiously lent us some bandages and painkillers, so Scorp could finally stop fussing over my knee. It wasn’t even hurting that bad any more, the fiery pain and resided to a dull throbbing ache.
“How’s that?” he asked, giving the clean, white bandage a final tug.
“It’s fine!” I snapped. He looked slightly hurt. “Thank you,” I said, albeit grudgingly. He still looked upset, and I realised that he probably felt quite guilty for my knee being hurt in the first place.
I hobbled over to the bed, and flopped onto it. The bedroom we had was basic, but okay, I guess. The décor was just... a little chintzy. The bedspread was covered with a yellow and pastel pink flowery pattern, which matched the curtains and the lampshades- and there were dozens of tiny china animals dotted around the room. In the en suite, the toilet seat had a crocheted cover. Yeah, it was definitely chintzy.
“And yes, the plan is just to hang out here for two days,” I said. “And we’re also going to dye this stupid blue out of my hair, because now that everyone has seen me with blue hair, it’s no longer a disguise.”
Scorpius looked disappointed, but my logic was sound, and I was also not going to take no for an answer. I’d had it with looking like candy floss. It was humiliating. I was a badass master thief, not some teenage scene kid.
I was just giving my new, ginger hair a final rinse when there was a knock at the door.
“Can you get that?” I called to Scorp.
“You get it,” he mumbled sleepily. I wrapped a towel around my sopping hair, and padded into the bedroom. Scorpius was sprawled across the double bed, half asleep. I had forgotten it was only this morning that he’d been sleeping on a café table. I checked my watch; it was ten pm. No wonder he was bushed.
The person at the door knocked again.
“Coming!” I called, shuffling across the thin carpet. I opened the door, sticking my towelled head through the crack.
“Hello dearie, how’s your leg?” It was the elderly male owner, who was considerably nicer to us than the old woman, carrying a tray of three plates of what looked like extremely generous portions of steak pie and chips.
I flashed him a grateful grin, my mouth starting to water at the steaming plates. “Fine thanks, we’ve bandaged it up pretty neatly.”
The lines on his face crinkled as he smiled back at me. “I thought you kids might be hungry, so I knocked this up for you, sorry it’s so late.”
“Oh, no, don’t apologise-” I started to say, but then he shifted sideways and I saw that there was someone small and dark standing behind him.
“Hey Rose!” Roxanne said, stepping out from the shadows. “Hope you don’t mind me suddenly dropping in on you like this.”
I tried to wipe my face smooth of surprise, but I clearly failed, judging from Roxy’s mischievous look of pride. But I opened my arms wide and pulled her in for a hug.
“I haven’t seen you in ages Roxy! Oh my god, where have you been? Of course I don’t mind,” I said, squeezing her tightly and slipping my hand into her jacket pocket where she usually kept her wand. She stiffened in my arms, clearly suspicious, but her small wand was already up my sleeve and I released her, grinning as broadly as I could manage.
The old man was clearly pleased with our happy reunion. “Aw, well isn’t that nice!” he said, smiling some more. I nodded at him, keeping my grin plastered onto my face. “I’ll just leave you girls these plates then, I’m sure you’ve got a lot of catching up to do! Don’t you stay up too late!”
“We won’t! Thank you very much,” I said sincerely, taking two of the plates from him and motioning for Roxy to get the third. “Have a good night!”
“You too!” he said, setting off down the corridor as soon as he was unburdened. I waited until I heard his footsteps on the stairs, and then pushed the door open with my foot to let Roxy in. I put the plates down carefully on the low coffee table, and Roxy did the same. On the bed, Scorpius sat up sleepily, rubbing his eyes like a child.
“Who was that?”
“Roxanne,” I said bluntly. “Do you want some pie?”
Scorpius blinked a few times. “Roxanne? Pie? What?”
“How the hell have you managed to not be caught with that?” Roxanne said witheringly, motioning at Scorp with a chip. I glowered at her.
“What do you want, Roxy?” I asked, sitting down in a squishy armchair.
“Traitor,” Scorpius added, getting up from the bed and perching himself on the arm of my chair, balancing a plate on his knee and finding a fork.
“I’m not the traitor,” Roxy said, ignoring her own plate. She shrugged. “Of course, I can’t prove that, just like you two can’t prove that you aren’t either. And I want in.”
“In? In on what?” Scorpius said, his mouth full of vegetable.
“Hang on- how did you find us?” I interrupted, shushing Scorp with a wave of my hand.
Roxanne smiled, looking pleased with herself. “I’ve invented a spell to track apparition.”
Scorpius snorted on his gravy and I patted him on the back, while trying to remain calm. “You’ve done what?”
“Invented a spell to track apparition,” she repeated over Scorpius’ coughing. “It wasn’t that hard, actually. All I need is the place you apparated from, and they showed the alley where you’d dumped the motorbike on the six o’clock news. Then, just say the spell, and Apparate. You just kinda... go with the flow, really.” She smiled.
“So how exactly did you manage to get here?” I asked. I wasn’t just being annoying, I wanted Roxy to slip up in her story, wanted her to be the traitor. At least then we’d know, and we could deal with her- deal with her how? Do what?
“It brought me about a mile away in some woods,” Roxanne carried on, oblivious to my internal worrying. “And then I used Homenum Revelio to find the nearest people.” She spread out her hands. “Which was you guys.”
“You want in on what?” Scorpius said, settling back down after his coughing fit.
“The big finale!” she said almost excitedly, leaning forwards. “There’s nothing really we can do about the traitor now, not if we’ve got the final stand coming up!” She paused, looking at us quizzically. “I’m assuming that’s what your big stunt was about, right? You were trying to draw attention to yourselves, so everyone can get back together? It’s a good plan, not gonna lie.”
I gazed at Roxy, open-mouthed. How the hell had she worked out our plan, when we’d basically fallen into it? She looked back at me almost smugly, settling back into her chair, and jamming her hands into pockets- and then her face fell.
“What? I don’t know why you’re looking so surprised, Roxy. How was I supposed to know if I could trust you or not? I still don’t know.”
“Give me my wand back.”
I pulled it out my pocket, and pretended to regard it thoughtfully. “What’s the apparition-tracking spell?”
Roxy looked at me mulishly for a minute. “Indago,” she finally said, grudgingly.
“Are you lying to me?” I asked harshly.
She shook her head, and I tossed her back her wand. She caught it easily. “Don’t steal my things,” Roxanne said. “I’m not the traitor. All I’ve been doing is hiding out on my own. As a Muggle. I’ve got a job in a newsagents. I wasn’t looking for trouble, I was just sitting on my hands, waiting for you or Dom or someone to call us all back together. I’m not the traitor.”
I wasn’t entirely sure on whether to believe my pint-sized cousin or not. She seemed sincere enough, but to be honest, everyone seemed sincere. Gahhh, my mind seemed all cut up from imagining who was or wasn’t lying.
“You get the benefit of the doubt for now,” I said, deliberately taking my own wand out of my jacket pocket and winding it through my fingers.
“Fair enough,” Roxy said, a small smile playing about her lips. “And I’ll suppose I’ll trust you both for now as well. But if this is a trap and you’re luring us into a trap to catch the rest of us, then, well...” She left the threat unfinished and I had to smile. Although Roxanne was very clever and could be as evil as she pleased, she just didn’t look scary.
She scowled at me. Roxy knew exactly what I was thinking. “What’s the plan for getting the rest of us together then?” she said, trying to sound as professional as possible.
“We haven’t got that far yet,” I admitted, picking up my own dinner and digging in with as much enthusiasm as possible to show that the gaps in our plan didn’t really matter.
“You haven’t got that far yet?” Roxy repeated incredulously. “Seriously?”
“Actually, yes we have,” Scorpius said, with a wink at me. He walked over to the dresser, and picked up an old radio, grimacing slightly under the weight. He plonked it on the coffee table.
“What the hell are you going to do with that?” Roxanne asked.
Scorpius didn’t reply, but held his hand out to me, and I gave him our wand. He started to tap a familiar rhythm on the top of the set, twisting the dials.
“That won’t work-” she started to say, but was interrupted by a blast of the Weird Sisters. Maturely, Scorpius stuck his tongue out at her.
“We can send out a message on the radio,” he said grinning widely. “A coded one. Telling the others to meet us in Nottingham with Molly and Lucy. I can hack the radio waves, I’m sure of it.”
“There’s no way in hell you can do that,” Roxy said disparagingly. “And who will be listening?”
“We’ve been listening to the radio this whole time, looking for news,” I said, interrupting. “And so were Molly and Lucy. It’s a good plan, Scorp.”
“But how is he going to hack airwaves? That’s impossible! It must be!”
Scorpius winked at her. “I’m good with technology. Give me time.”
A/N: Sorry I've been so terrible with updates, and if anyone reads or reviews this, its more than I deserve. Thanks for sticking with Rose and me for this long!
Also, credit to Wistful for naming my bed and breakfast 'Bangladesh' for me.
Chapter 20: friends or foes? and our plan is going well
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-Monday 10th January
Rose: Bangladesh B&B
We did give Scorpius time. If you asked Roxanne, she’d say too much, but no-one was asking her. She got her own room in the bed and breakfast, and spent so much time in there that I took to listening outside her door every half an hour, just to check. There wasn’t actually much else to do. I’d been sitting on my hands for thirty six hours, waiting while Scorpius aggressively played with the radio. I was so bored I was actually counting the hours. Eventually though, we were able to play a recorded message into the wizard channels. There was one advert which was instantly recognisable with a cheerful jingle, offering free three services for your broom when you bought it from Quality Quidditch Supplies- and that was the one that Scorpius slotted our message into. Every time a station played it, we clipped a word onto the end. ‘Robin. Hood. Tree. Twelve. Ten.’ Meet at the big tree in Nottingham forest at midday on the tenth.
It was the best we could do. By the time it was time to leave, all five words had been played eighteen times. We could only hope it was enough. Grasping my wand and Scorpius’ arm tightly, I turned on the spot. We came out in a forest, where thick trunks towered above us, and it was raining. I staggered a little as my feet hit the ground, but my knee held, thank goodness. I hadn’t told Scorpius, but I had done myself a makeshift splint out of some double-thickness toilet roll and a chair leg. I can be very resourceful.
Scorpius threw up.
“Oh for god’s sake, haven’t you got over that yet?”
“Shut up,” he mumbled, wiping his mouth. He’d gone very pale. “I just don’t like it.”
There was another crack, and Roxy apparated so close to Scorpius she nearly knocked him over.
“I told you to get out the way,” she snapped. I rolled my eyes. Roxanne had never been easy to deal with at the best of times and without the buffer of the rest of my cousins, I was about an inch away from cursing her.
I’d made her use the charm to follow us- she’d never been to Nottingham before and I wasn’t confident of my ability to apparate two passengers... and plus, part of me still hadn’t believed the charm was real. Roxy had tried to name it the Stalker Charm, but I don’t think that name would catch on.
“So which direction is the tree then?”
I pointed, and she started to noisily walk that way- I grabbed her arm. “Stop!” I hissed. Christ, it was so obvious that Roxanne could never be a field agent. Forest agent? Whatever. “You stay here with Scorpius. I’ll send a signal if it’s safe.”
She huffed, but agreed, going to stand with Scorp behind a large tree. I made a quick note of it, and then cast a Disillusionment Charm on myself. I wriggled my shoulder blades in discomfort as the cold slid down my back, but adjusting my hood against the rain, I soundlessly slipped through the trees.
When I reached the large clearing, I couldn’t see anyone- not even the tourists had bothered to turn up on a rainy Monday in January. It didn’t mean there was no-one there though. Keeping in the shadows of the trees, I fingered my wand gingerly. I couldn’t risk trying to cast Unveiling spell nonverbally- thinking had never been my speciality, and I wouldn’t know if the spell had worked.
“Homenum Revelio,” I whispered, as quietly as I could. There was a burst of something in the middle of the clearing, near the tree, but the space was empty. Only one person though. And not experienced enough to hide in the shadows, but wise enough to conceal themselves magically. It was either an Auror and it was a trap, or it was one of my cousins. My heart skipped a beat. It could be Lily. Molly and Lucy wouldn’t separate, and James wouldn’t leave himself so exposed. Or it could be a trap. I bit my lip.
“Lily?” I called, and there was a flurry of movement, as the person standing by the tree shifted, looking towards me. I got rid of my Disillusionment Charm, and stepped into the clearing, my arms wide. “Lily!”
The invisible person didn’t even wait to take their charm off, just barrelled into me, pressing their head against my chest and making soft sobbing noises. I tapped her head with my wand, and slowly, her red hair was revealed. I hugged her back, and gently dragged her back into the trees. When we were far enough away, I wiped her cheeks with my thumbs.
“Hey, don’t worry Lils, it’s okay, I’m here,” I said, trying to be kind, but it was about the worst thing I could have done. Her crying got louder, and I looked around worriedly. Someone would definitely hear us. “Lily, you have to be quiet! Do you want to be caught?” I hissed. I pushed her away, and put my hands firmly on her shoulders. “You have to be quiet!”
Lily sniffled and wiped her eyes, smearing dirt on her face. I had to smile, she looked like an orphan from a nineties period drama. “Are you okay?” I asked, keeping my voice down. “Do you think you were followed?”
“I’m okay,” she whispered, hanging onto my hand. She’d never seemed so young, and she was a whole year older than my brother. “And I don’t think I was followed, I’ve been here for three hours already, and I’ve been regularly casting Homenum Revelio.” She sniffed.
“Well done Lils, you’ve done amazingly, you really have,” I said, giving her hand a squeeze. “Now, I’m going to take you back to Scorpius and Roxanne, and you’re going to wait there with them and- ”
There was a crack, and then a flock of birds took flight, cawing as they climbed into the air, above the trees. Lily stiffened, and then darted behind me, her fingers like a vice in mine.
“Expecto Patronum,” I whispered, and a silvery jet burst out from the tip of my wand, and dissolved into smoke. Where the noise had been, it had now gone eerily quiet. I tried to will my heart to stop beating so loudly, and thought of happier times- working at the pub, fighting with Hugo for the TV remote, playing card games when it was raining with Lorcan... kissing Scorpius on the roof while fireworks exploded around us... and then out of the tip of my wand, a huge tiger leapt forwards, its stripes clearly picked out in hues of silver. My mouth dropped open. I’d never ever been able to cast a corporeal Patronus before.
Lily wore an identical expression of surprise. I motioned for her to shush and follow the tiger, which noiselessly padded off through the trees. As soon as they were out of sight, I cast my Disillusionment Charm again, feeling a small pang of loss as my tiger disintegrated when it reached Scorpius.
I made my way back to the clearing, trying my hardest to be as quiet as possible. When I was about ten metres away, I stood behind a tree, and quietly cast the Unveiling Spell again. There were two people this time, and they were across the clearing, hiding in the trees. It could be Molly and Lucy... and it could not be. I felt a whoosh as something low swooped over me; they’d felt mine, and returned it. I needed to move.
I crept around the clearing as quickly as I could, listening out for any movements. I could hear nothing, which worried me. Molly and Lucy would be discussing what to do next. And then- to my left, I heard a scuffle and whispers. I stole through the trees towards the noise, and then there was a voice to the right of me.
I froze instantly, but I recognised the voice. It was Lucy. Moving slowly, I tapped away the charm, and as I came into view, so did she. “Oh thank god!” she said, relieved. “We were worried- where is Scorpius?”
I gestured vaguely. “Where is Molly?” I answered.
Molly came from the direction of the noise. “We split up,” she said softly.
“You’re not alone?” I said, catching the frightened note in her voice.
“We may have been followed,” she said- and then there was a crack of apparition not two hundred yards away from us.
I grabbed Lucy’s hand, and pulled her away, checking behind me. Molly was following. I ran through the woods, not caring about the noise now, just needing to get away. We reached Scorpius, and I turned to Molly and Lucy desperately.
“Apparate somewhere, anywhere. We can follow.”
“What?!” Molly exclaimed. “That’s impossible!”
“Just do it!” Roxanne said impatiently. There was definitely someone else in the woods now, and they would find us easily now.
I grabbed Scorpius’ arm. “You take Lily, okay?” Roxanne nodded. Molly and Lucy Disapparated, and Roxanne and Lily did as well, seconds later. I tightened my grip on Scorpius, clenched the wand, and said “Indago!”.
Monday 10th January
-Rose: a beach in Cumbria.
We came out on a beach, where it was so windy we had to shout to make ourselves heard. “Where are we?” I yelled.
“Cumbria!” Lucy yelled back. “Follow me!”
The rest of us followed her over the dunes as the wind whipped up the sand, forcing it painfully at our legs. The soft sand and the biting wind made it difficult to walk, but eventually we made it over the sand and onto a thin earthy ground, with tufty grass poking out occasionally. The wind was even worse on the flat ground, but there was an old house in the distance, and that’s where they were leading us.
The house was very old. Only two rooms had a roof, and in one of the rooms was a large fireplace which the wind whistled down. I collapsed onto the floor, shuffling so my back was against the wall, and finally relaxed. My knee was in absolute agony and there was a dark stain spreading on my jeans. I poked it experimentally, and drew a sharp intake of breath at the pain. Crap. That hurt.
Scorpius dropped to his knees beside me. “How bad?” he asked, and I shook my head, not trusting myself to speak.
“I’ll sort it later,” I managed, but stayed on the floor. Scorpius sat next to me, and conjured up a small fire in the fireplace, the green flames dancing and sending strange shadows across the walls.
The others stood around awkwardly. Well, except for Roxy, who went and stood in front of the fire, warming the backs of her legs.
“Shove off, Roxanne. You’re blocking the heat,” Scorpius said, and waved at her to move. She did, but only slightly.
“I’m assuming you heard the radio message?” Molly said, and Lily smiled.
“Yeah, I noticed straight away there was something different- it didn’t take long to work out the whole message.”
I smiled back at her. She was exceptionally smart- but had we made our message too easy?
“We should go back,” Lily said. “What if James goes?”
I shook my head, and checked my watch. “It’s nearly midday,” I said. “He would have been there earlier. We can’t go back.”
Lily looked close to tears again. “Please?”
Roxanne rolled her eyes. “No, Lily. It’s too dangerous.”
If I could’ve, I would have kicked Roxanne. “What have you been doing then?” I asked Lily.
Bit by bit, we got out her story- although she skimmed over the night at Theodore Nott’s house. Since being on her own the next day, she had got herself a tiny hotel room in Manchester, and had stayed there ever since, only coming out at night for food, and listening for any news on the radio and in the papers; Muggle and wizarding. Scorpius gave me a sideways glance, but I wasn’t about to ask her about the whole werewolf thing. She’d tell us if she wanted to- but I did do some quick calculations. The next full moon wasn’t for two weeks.
Then Molly and Lucy relayed their tale; most of it Scorpius and I had already heard, but for the past few days had been similar to us- holed up in a countryside bed and breakfast, although they’d settled the bill before they had come to meet us. I felt very bad about that, and vowed to pay the couple back at some point. Specifically, pay the old man. I didn’t care about his wife. Hag. Roxanne and Scorpius filled them in with what we’d been up to, and then the inevitable question came.
What are we doing now?
I tried to sit up straighter. “The plan is...” I paused, and they looked at me expectantly. “We think we know where to go- it’s a house called Langdon End, in Yorkshire.”
Lily looked confused. “No... that’s... I recognise the name!”
“Who does it belong to?” Scorp asked quickly. Out of sight, I crossed my fingers. Not Zach, I prayed, please don’t let Zach be bad, please not Zach. A glance at Scorpius told me he wanted the opposite.
But Lily frowned. “Carrow,” she said suddenly. “That’s his name. Carrow.”
- Abner Carrow, Langdon End, Yorkshire
The end was in sight. That’s all Carrow could think about right now. He hadn’t eaten or slept in days- since he had last dismissed the leader of the Fraternity from his office. But it didn’t matter. The end was in sight. He would continue to send out patrols of Fraternity members, of course, and continue to look for the Clan... but he didn’t need to anymore.
Hunting down the Clan like animals had proved to be too unpredictable, too slow, and Carrow had backed the wrong horses. For all their grandeur and reputation as criminals, the Fraternity had turned out to be nothing more than a gaggle of twenty year olds, playing pretend. Much like the Clan, he thought, chuckling. But the Fraternity had failed him, and his dreams of excelling in the Ministry – maybe even becoming Minister for Magic- had been shattered along with his hopes of capturing the Clan.
Again and again they had foiled him, but not now. Not this time.
This time, they would come to him, and he could get his vengeance. Good old fashioned revenge. He didn’t need all the other things, when it came down to it. He didn’t need the promotions, or the extra twist in Harry Potter’s heart when he realised it was his friend who had been so terribly cruel. He didn’t need to see the tears to know that they were there.
And so the Clan would come to him. He’d hoped that as soon as he’d heard that the Malfoy boy and Hermione’s daughter had turned up at the swimming pool, but the escapade in London, and more recently something had happened in Nottingham... the game was on, and it was his kind of game now. No more sneaking around that had proved so futile, but it was on his turf, and his terms. The Clan was gathering up their members again, and he would let them, and then they would come to him. He didn’t doubt they had already worked out who was behind their persecution... they were, all things considered, quite clever, and everyone leaves some kind of trail.
He’d taken the precaution of securing the members of the Clan who had been arrested at his manor house, and had leaked the information to the underworld that the fugitives were being held at an unknown prison in Yorkshire, as an extra incentive.
Meanwhile, he’d completely left the Ministry. He’d stopped answering Harry Potter’s frantic calls, and stopped turning up for work. The end was so close and keeping up appearances didn’t matter anymore... although as he sat at his desk at home, he missed the presence of a secretary outside his door, and his large, comfortable chair wasn’t quite the same as one that had Ministry backing.
The only thing he didn’t know was how soon the Clan would be attempting to sneak into his house. Within the week, he guessed. They’ll want to get it over with, they’d want to finish his game. They think they can outsmart me, but they don’t know me. They’ve never dealt with me.
The thought of facing the Clan alone... it gave him shivers of delight. Perhaps it is better this way, he mused. Everything else he had planned... they were merely distractions. What he wanted had nearly been completed.
He was so close now, he could almost taste the end.
Tuesday 11th January
-Rose: the house by the beach
I woke up curled up on Scorpius’ chest, a position familiar to so long ago... the morning after Freddie’s birthday. I half-smiled at the memory, how repulsive the idea had been at the time. Now, Scorpius sleepily tightening his arm around me felt comforting. Protective. I slipped back the blanket to see the others, but didn’t dare move in case I woke up Scorpius. Molly and Lucy were sleeping back to back, a thin covering over the two of them, and Lily slept at their feet. Roxanne was sitting in the corner of the room, huddled in a sleeping bag and frowning at the floor.
I settled back down, satisfied, and tried to judge what time it was. Maybe half five in the morning? Six? It was still dark, but I felt rested. Next to me, Scorpius twitched in his sleep and I watched his chest rise and fall. It was so peaceful here, especially now the wind had stopped gusting. It was bitterly cold though, and my breath frosted in the air, although Scorpius was toasty warm. I snuggled closer, and pressed my freezing face against his side, and he flinched away. I smiled vindictively.
“Stop it,” he mumbled sleepily. “I thought people with red hair were supposed to be warm.”
“No-one is warm in January,” I said softly, so as not to wake the others, but Roxanne had stopped frowning at the floor and now was looking discouragingly at us. I stuck my tongue out at her, and she huffed back.
“Go back to sleep,” he said. He hadn’t even opened his eyes. It took twenty seconds for his breathing to relax back into his sleeping rhythm, but I couldn’t go back to sleep now. I was thinking about too many things, thinking about today and tomorrow and what we would accomplish. I thrived on people, and with some of my cousins back and the prospect of meeting up with more, I was feeling more alive than ever.
And now we knew who was behind our persecution. Abner Carrow, Ministry official and friend of the family. We didn’t know why, but we knew it was him. His name had cropped up too many times to be a coincidence now, and soon we’d be going to meet him. The thought made me smile. He’d hunted us all over Britain... now let’s see how he liked it. We could corner him in his own home.
But our first priority was to find James, and to do that, we’d decided to find Theodore Nott again. Added to the fact he should be currently helping Hugo, Nott and James were friends. I was positive that Nott would know where James could be, and then... and then we were ready.
By the time everyone had woken up, Roxanne was contesting the decision to send Scorpius and I to see Theodore.
I was leaving the arguing to Lily. She had come up with the plan, she was one of our planners, and now she had her head on straight, I would trust her with my life. In the end, Lily just threw her hands in the air.
“They’re going, Roxanne. They’re the most experienced, they know who Theodore is. Deal with it.”
She grumbled about it, but handed over the Polyjuice Potion which would transform us into two Muggles, a couple aged about twenty six and nondescript, with brown hair and brown eyes. Not too pretty, not too plain. And then we left, leaving the others behind at the house. I was to send my Patronus to them if we reached any trouble, telling them to leave and hide, but I hoped it wouldn’t come to that. Theodore Nott had an office in a small village outside of Reading, according to Lily and Molly, but neither of us had been there, so we Apparated into Reading, and went shopping. While our faces currently looked normal, our clothes were raggedy and blood stained, and they were certainly drawing funny looks. Scorpius’ clothes hung off his new body- whoever it was clearly didn’t work out.
So, we bought some new clothes, for ourselves later, and for the moment. It felt like a luxury to be wearing clean jeans and a new shirt. We got coats as well, and my hair still felt acceptably clean after the bed and breakfast. It was unbelievable how awesome the clean clothes felt- I could have climbed Everest or sailed across the Pacific in a canoe.
We caught a bus to the village, getting off a few stops early so we could approach on foot, over the fields, getting our new boots dirty. But I had the same sense of immense peace that I had this morning. I looked up. The sky was grey, overcast with clouds, and there was no wind. It was still, and quiet. The calm before the storm?, I had to ask myself. What would happen when we reached the village?
But we weren’t there yet, so I linked my arm through Scorpius’, and cast my Patronus, just reassure myself that I could. Scorpius jumped when he saw my tiger as he paced around us.
“That is big,” he said, astounded. I nodded, and waved ahead of us. The tiger took the hint and prowled before us, scouting out the way. “What are you thinking of?” Scorpius said. “You couldn’t cast one before, could you? What changed?”
The words stopped in my throat. “I guess, I just appreciate what I had before more,” I said, the lie tasting bad in my mouth. I took my arm away from Scorpius, and up ahead, I felt my tiger disappear into nothing. I couldn’t afford to get distracted, or distract Scorpius now.
Maybe... maybe after all this. Maybe... but I wasn’t about to distract myself thinking about that either.
We reached the village easily, and the house that served as his offices, but it felt so strange to walk up to the front door instead of sneaking around the back. Scorpius knocked on the front door, and Theodore Nott opened it. I held my breath, but he just smiled at us both congenially.
“Come in, please,” he said, and dubiously, we followed him in.
Chapter 21: family, help, and step one is complete
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- Rose: Theodore Nott’s house
We followed him into a spacious living room which took up half the bottom of the house, and seemed to serve as an office as well, judging from the wall of overflowing bookshelves and the desk in the corner, neatly laid out with parchment and quills. Nott sat down on one of the sofas, motioning for us to sit in the opposite one, across a low table.
I sat, grateful for the rest of my knee. Even though I was technically not in my own body, I could still feel the injury as it strained. Scorpius stayed standing, our sole wand in his sleeve. There was a noise upstairs, and my heart stopped for a second. Scorpius glanced at me. Could it be James? Hugo? Aurors?
I gave him a quick smile, and Nott looked at us both uneasily. I noticed that his wand hand was fiddling with his opposite sleeve, probably where he kept his wand. “Is something the matt-” he started to say, but I cut him off.
“Mr Nott,” I said, “my husband and I have a quite unusual problem...”
“Stupefy!” Scorpius whispered, and a jet of red light hit Nott in the stomach. He flopped backwards, his mouth open, unconscious. I bent over the table, and felt his pulse- it was steady- talking all the while.
“You see, it’s to do with... our son... Patrick...”
I disarmed Nott, taking his wand from his opposite sleeve, where I’d guessed it would be, and motioned to Scorpius to go investigate the sound upstairs. I carried on talking. Whoever was upstairs would be worried if there was suddenly only silence below them.
There was a crash, a shout, and then a thud as something fell to the floor. My hand unconsciously flew to my mouth, and I stood up, defensively holding Theodore’s wand out in front of me. Someone clattered down the stairs.
Scorpius pushed open the door. “I just stunned a cat,” he said. “It scared the bejesus out of me.”
“Animagus?” I asked, but he shook his head.
“Definitely just a cat.” He looked at Nott, sprawled on the sofa. “Is he okay?”
I raised an eyebrow. “Well, he’s Stunned, but other than that, yeah.”
Scorpius looked at me with concern. I’d slumped back onto the sofa, and propped my leg up on the coffee table. “You alright?”
I nodded, but didn’t move.
“I’ll do the protective charms,” he said, and I nodded again in approval as he started to look slightly more concerned. I grinned.
“Can I have a cup of tea as well?” I asked. “Or a hot chocolate. I’m cool with either.”
Scorpius shot me a disparaging look, but went off to do the charms anyway, and as soon as he left the room, I stretched my leg out and groaned quietly. I hoped to god that Nott would be able to fix this, or I’d be as useless as an aquaphobic mermaid.
By the time we woke Theodore Nott, myself and Scorpius were nearly back to our normal selves, except my eyes and the tips of my hair were still brown, and Scorpius was still growing about a centimetre a minute, but Roxanne had previously warned us that because her Polyjuice Potion lasted longer, it took a while to wear off.
Theodore looked incredibly dazed as he slowly came around, sprawled over the sofa. I hadn’t moved from my seat opposite, both my feet on his table and my fingers curled around a cup of tea. Scorpius was perched on the arm of the sofa, with the soft brown cat on his knee.
“What the hell...” he groaned, and leant forwards, cradling his head in his hands.
“What’s your cat called?” I asked, taking a sip and burning my tongue.
Nott lifted his head out of his hands to squint at me. “What?”
I repeated the question.
“Dusty,” he said, and managed to sit up straight. “Why? Christ, that spell had a kick and a half.”
He got to his feet, slightly unsteadily and tottered over to a cabinet on the wall, pulling out a glass decanter and a tumbler, filling it with whiskey. He downed it, and then filled it up again. He sat back down, looking increasingly steadier by the second.
“Please never turn up to my house as two strangers who stun me again. It put the fear of god into me,” Nott said. “How did you find my offices?”
“It wasn’t that hard,” I replied. Scorpius scratched the cat behind its ears, making it purr loudly. “Mr Nott, can you help us?”
“Finding your brother and cousin?” he said, and took a sip of whiskey, making a face as it burned down his throat. He tilted the glass towards Scorpius and I. “Want one?”
“No thank you,” I said, a little briskly. “Do you know where they are?”
He smiled in a fatherly kind of way. “Of course. You asked me to look after Hugo, didn’t you?” He paused for another sip, and my fingers drummed against his wand impatiently.
“Where are they?” Scorpius asked, wincing as the cat kneaded his legs with its claws happily.
“Hugo is staying with a friend of mine in this village,” Theodore said. “I know the Ministry is keeping tabs on me, and although they don’t do their job particularly well, I thought it would be pushing my luck a bit if he stayed here with me. But I’m sure he’s perfectly safe,” he added when he saw my panicked look at the mention of the Ministry. “I went round and checked up on him the day before yesterday- he seems fine. A little worried about you, but fine. And this village is completely Muggle, it’s as safe as anywhere I can think of. Plus, I’m nearby.”
“And James?” I said, the feeling in the pit of my stomach receding. Hugo was in this village. He was nearby, and safe. I couldn’t be more relieved.
“James...” Theodore paused again. “That’s trickier,” he said, weighing his words. “He checks in with me every couple of days, but I haven’t seen him, and I didn’t want to go looking for him in case I drew more attention to myself. I don’t want any more surveillance on my movements, or I’ll end up being next to useless.”
“But you can get in touch with him?” Scorpius pressed.
Nott grimaced. “Yes and no. Technically I can, but whether he gets my message will be something else entirely. He’s not as good at checking his emails as he used to be.”
I raised an eyebrow, Scorpius looked distinctly unimpressed. “Email? Really?” he said.
Theodore Nott shrugged. “The Ministry are only just coming around to technology. They don’t have the manpower to watch the internet- no one has. They don’t fully understand it yet. They’re not even aware of the existence of internet cafes.” He paused, finishing his whiskey. “What do you want to tell him?”
An hour later, our message to James was on its way, we’d eaten, drunk, Theodore had fished out a couple of spare wands for us and had politely suggested to his Muggle friend that she left the house for a few hours, so I could go see my little brother.
“Gerroff me!” he mumbled, encased in a bone-shattering hug. “Gerroff!”
I carried on holding him tightly- partly to annoy him, and partly because oh my god it was my little brother and he was safe and I had missed him so much.
“You’re such a wuss,” Hugo complained with a smile, wiping tears from my face.
I tried to scowl at him, but I was just so relieved that I couldn’t stop grinning, or stop the tears from rolling down my cheeks. “I’ve missed you Hugh,” I said, and I felt his arms around me tighten.
“I missed you too,” he said. Then he whacked me on the shoulder.
“Ow! What was that for?”
“How worried have you been about me?” he said.
“Um, really worried?”
“Stomach clenching, can’t concentrate worried?”
I nodded, finding a tissue in my pocket to dry my face.
Hugo hit me again. “Then how do you think I have been feeling? My sister has been off playing James Bond and I’ve been stuck in a tiny boring village where I can’t help you and I don’t know what’s been happening!”
“I haven’t been playing James Bond, I’ve been fighting for my life,” I said. Hugo rolled his eyes.
“Is that supposed to make me feel better?”
We ended up all sprawled over the sofas in the living room, nursing firewhiskies as Scorpius and I relayed the story so far, and what we’d recently learnt. I felt guilty about being so warm and full of food and comfortable while my cousins were hiding in a beach shack, but I was so happy to be safe and with my brother and Scorpius, that I nearly didn’t care.
When we’d finished, Theodore looked thoughtful. “Abner Carrow?” he said, and I nodded. “I don’t really know that much about him, to be honest. He kept himself to himself in the Ministry, only really bothering about what his bosses thought of him. He had two daughters I think –don’t know what happened to them- and his wife died. Suicide, apparently, but I know for a fact that Carrow was investigated.”
Scorpius and I shared a look. Interesting, although it didn’t really help us with why he was persecuting us. Although –and I would only ever privately admit this- I didn’t give a damn why. I just wanted him to be stopped. Hugo though, seemed to be a bit more excited than was really necessary.
“So you came to come get me and then we can all storm Carrow’s house together?” Hugo said, his eyes alight. “Awesome!”
This was just the kind of reaction that I had feared. I drained my firewhiskey. “Hugo, I don’t want you to come with me.”
His face fell, and suddenly he looked like a ten year old being told he was too short to go on a fairground ride. But it only served to strengthen my resolve. “You can’t stop me,” he said angrily.
“I could,” I said, “but I don’t want to. I’m asking you Hugh, please don’t come with us.”
“Because you’re young and inexperienced,” I said, getting frustrated that he couldn’t understand. “If you were there I would spend the whole time worrying about you. Just please, let the rest of us deal with Carrow.”
“But it’s my fight too. Our parents were younger than I was and they led a war!”
“But they had to!” Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed Theodore and Scorpius tactfully retreating into the kitchen. “They had the fate of the wizarding world on their shoulders!”
“I have to as well,” Hugo said, lowering his voice. “And why should the fate of my family be any less important?”
I opened my mouth to speak, but nothing came out. I couldn’t think of anything to counter him with. “If something happened I could never forgive myself,” I managed eventually.
“Nothing is going to happen,” Hugo said, and I wished I could believe him.
Nott came bursting out the kitchen, holding up a squareish Muggle mobile phone. “James has emailed me back,” he said. “He’s sent us an address- he’s going to try to make it there by ten o’clock tonight.”
I wanted Scorpius to take Hugo back to the shack, so Theo and I would meet James alone, but Scorpius insisted that I go back with Hugo and Hugo was adamant that he wasn’t going anywhere, so it turned out that we all ended up going to the address to meet James. I was furious. James might not even show up, there might be Aurors there, there might be Fraternity members there- I didn’t know how I could be clearer that it wasn’t safe.
We drove to the address, a house in a small village about forty minutes away from Theo’s. I sat in the back with my brother, silently fuming. Hugo looked out the window and tried to ignore me, but I could see he was bouncing his left knee. He always did that when he was excited about something. Excited. Scorpius was talking very quickly to Theo about cars- apparently this Muggle car was fancy or something- but at least fifty percent of his enthusiasm was feigned to try to cover up my intense ill will. We eventually arrived, and the precautionary Homenum Revelio we cast revealed no-one. We didn’t expect there to be- we were three hours early.
“Me and Theodore will go in and scope it out,” I said, as we parked up, about fifty yards from the house. It was a residential street, with nice houses, clean cars and tidy gardens. We didn’t look out of place, and there were a couple of Muggles milling around.
“Why can’t I come?” said Hugo, and I clenched my hands into fists, although I was hiding them from his sight.
“Because Nott is a private detective and this is what he does for a living, and I am the most experienced out of the rest of us, and I’m older than you and I said so!” I snapped. Hugo visibly wilted. I’d pulled that line far too many times when we were children. “Hugo, hold my hand when we’re crossing the road. Hugh, don’t eat that. Hey, what did I tell you? Don’t talk to strangers! Hugo! Listen to me! Don’t skip school, I don’t care if everyone else does it!”
“Technically, I’m older than yo-” Scorpius tried to say, but I silenced him with a glare. “I’ll stay here with Hugo,” he said, trying to recover himself. I opened the car door and slid out, slamming it behind me forcefully. The tiny car rocked slightly, and Nott didn’t look too pleased.
“Which house is it?” I said as we casually strolled down the pavement.
“The one with the blue door,” Theodore said. I gripped my new wand in my coat pocket a bit harder. I liked it better than the one that Scorpius and I had been sharing- although I’d used it the most, it seemed to prefer offensive spells to defensive, and I knew my Shield Charms could have been so much stronger.
Theodore unlocked the blue door with a whispered spell, and I cast a Shield Charm then, feeling the bubble grow and strengthen.
“There’s no one here,” Theodore whispered, despite his statement.
I cast him a sideways glance. He clearly didn’t know James as well as he thought he did. Through the door, we were directly opposite the staircase, and split up. I went upstairs, being lighter and more confident of my stepping lightly than I was of Nott.
And in the front bedroom, I found James. He was standing in the middle of the room, his back to me and his head cocked to one side, listening intently to Theodore rattling around downstairs. James is taller than me, and his unruly black hair, so much like his dad’s, had grown out, so it was nearly hanging down to his jawline. He’d got a lot thinner too- his clothes hung off his body, and he didn’t look nearly as strong as he used to. All brawn and no brain, we’d used to joke- we’d been proved wrong on both counts. James still hadn’t realised I’d silently entered the room behind him. I coughed.
James spun around and a jet of red light had issued from the tip of his wand before he’d even realised it was me. My Shield easily deflected the Stunning Spell, but it rebounded and hit the wall behind James. We both dropped to the ground at the same time, and the spell went over both of our heads and down the stairs. I heard Theodore swear.
“That’s not a nice way to greet me, cousin,” I said, sitting up and punching him.
James’ face was a confusion of shock and anger. “Please don’t bloody surprise me like that then, I could’ve killed you!”
I grinned. “Doubt it.”
He smiled and I stuck a hand out to help him up. From downstairs, I heard Theodore shout “I assume you’ve got the bugger then?”
“Yeah!” I yelled back. “He’s here.”
James pulled me into a hug. “How’re you doing?” he asked. “How’s everyone else? Have you seen Lily?”
“We’re all fine,” I said, once he released me. “There’s eight of us now, including you.”
James’ face lit up. “We’re going offensive?” he said.
I clapped him on the back just as Theodore came up the stairs. “We’re going offensive.”
Tuesday 11th January, 10.30pm
-Rose: Theodore Nott’s house
“Are you sure this is going to be safe?” I asked for about the billionth time. Theodore looked like he wanted to jinx me but James looked equally worried. Nott was setting up protective spells around his home so that our cousins at the shack in the sand dunes could join us. You can understand why we were worried. All of us together in one place for a long time? It was just asking for trouble.
And that was why James was staring at the wall, tapping his fingers restlessly against his knee. I knew he was running over a million scenarios in his head, working out what to do, where he’d go, who he would protect. I knew he wasn’t worrying about me though- and I was glad. I wasn’t factoring him into any plans I was making either. We both knew that the other would be fine on their own. With all that said and done though, there was no-one I’d rather fight beside than James.
Well, apart from Scorpius, I thought.
I nearly jumped. Where did that come from? I was surprised at myself- I was one of the first to admit that Scorpius was not the most skilled wizard, especially at fighting. But I trusted him... and the realisation that I would rather have him instead of James at my back was extraordinary.
Scorpius sat down next to me, as if I’d called him with my thoughts, and put his hands over mine, prising paper from my fingers.
“What’s this?” he asked.
I shrugged. I’d been shredding it into tiny pieces, my busy fingers keeping away the stress and nervousness. He tipped the pieces onto the table and spread them out, pushing them into an order. I could see the words in an emerald green ink- no, they were names. It was the list of our traitor suspects that we’d made, passed from pocket to pocket. I swept them up and shoved them in my pocket, Scorpius’ eyes going wide when he realised as well.
“Should we say something?” he asked in an undertone. Theodore was in the kitchen, making some food and Hugo was asleep on the sofa opposite us. James had gone to watch the road from the upstairs window.
I shook my head. “Probably not. There’s nothing we can do about them now, if they’re still with us.”
“Odds are, it is one of us though Rose,” Scorpius said, and I thought about who was left of us. I couldn’t believe it of any of them.
Theodore came in from the kitchen, a pile of sandwiches and pasta and rice balanced on a tray on the tip of his wand. It lazily glided towards to the dining room table, plates and glasses and butterbeer bottles following it.
“Sorry there’s not more,” Nott said. “I’ve emptied the kitchen.”
I stood up to grab some food before my cousins arrived. They were coming in the same way as us- Apparating a way away and getting a taxi or a bus to the house. I started to fill my plate before realising the food that he’d made for us. High calorie, filling food. Food you’d want before a fight. Theodore caught my gaze and smiled at me weakly.
My cousins arrived in pairs. Molly and Lucy arrived first, with barely a smile between them, and then Lily and Roxanne. James hugged Lily fiercely, and their reunion nearly made me cry. We were silent for half an hour, while everyone ate and Hugo slept. Then I gently shook Hugh awake, we let the plates gently clean themselves in the kitchen, and the nine of us sat around the dining table, ready.
“Before we start,” said Theodore, “can I just say that this plan is completely mental-”
“Hang on a second there Theo,” James said, interrupting. “Before we really begin... this is your chance to step forward. Admit that you have been...” he broke off and swallowed. “Admit to spying on the rest of us, and that you’ve helped this Carrow.”
He laid his palms flat on the table, and waited. No-one spoke. Scorpius was looking steadily at the ground. I was watching everyone else’s faces, as was James. Lily looked on the verge of tears, and Molly and Lucy seemed to be holding hands under the table. The only one of us who looked unconcerned was Roxanne. Her full lips twitched into a smile. James carried on.
“I know we all have our suspicions of who this guy might be...” James’ gaze swept over us again, fixing on Scorpius. He looked up, and met James’ stare. I grabbed his hand.
“If no-one steps forward, then it’s time to put it behind us. But if I find out that it was one of you and you lied to us now, then God help you.”
James settled back into his chair, and I stood up. James’ face was a picture of utter shock for about half a second before he realised I was only reaching for some maps. I spread them out onto the table.
“This is Carrow’s home, Langdon End,” I said. “It’s in Yorkshire, and it’s a private home. We’ve got reliable intelligence from Nott that Lorcan and the others are being held at a prison in Yorkshire-”
“That’s almost definitely a trap then,” Lily said, kneeling up onto her chair to get a better look. She’d wiped away her tears, and her face was hard. “He’s expecting us.”
I couldn’t lie. “Most definitely.”
“And he’ll know we’re all together, since we were seen in Nottingham,” Lucy chipped in.
“Not necessarily,” Scorpius said. “Myself, Lily and Roxanne were probably not seen, and although they’ll assume that Rose and I are together- that’s still only them estimating our numbers at four.”
“Plus, we don’t know if it was Aurors or Fraternity members who saw you,” Hugo said. “Theo says that Carrow hasn’t been seen at the Ministry in days- if it was the Aurors, he might not have had a report. But worst case scenario is that he has heard the radio message and knows we want to meet up, and that four of us are already together.”
When he spelt it out like that, it seemed so easy. We had the upper hand.
“Regardless,” James said. “It’s easier to defend then attack –hell, we know that from personal experience- and we just don’t have the numbers. And he has time to prepare. He still knows we’re coming.”
“And he’s going to assume there are more than four of us. We’ve spent this whole time on the run underestimating this guy,” Lily said. “From what I’ve heard, we’ve escaped through dumb luck most of the time and we can’t count on that again. He will have people guarding the house and he will know us better to think four of us would even dare to try and attack.”
I narrowed my eyes. Somewhere in the back of my head, a plan was forming.
“So, instead there is only going to be eight of us attacking Langdon End?” Roxanne said. “It sounds like suicide, not a rescue mission.”
“Nine,” said Theodore, but I shook my head quickly.
“Eight. Nott, we need you to go to our parents. Tell them what has happened, what we’re going to do. Tell them everything. If we don’t succeed... then at least they know. And Roxy, it’s not a rescue mission to carry on dancing back and forward with Carrow and the Fraternity. We’re finishing this. Once and for all.”
“Seven,” said James.
“What?” said Roxanne, practically spitting poison, but I didn’t even look up. I knew what he was going to say next.
“Lily, I don’t want you to come,” he said, and I made myself look at Hugo. He met my gaze steadily. He was determined to come, no matter what I said or did. The time when I could stand in front of him and protect him had gone.
“I’m coming with you,” Lily said gently, and I knew she’d get her own way as well. If our roles had been reversed, then I know that I would not have been able to stay behind either, but I wasn’t in Lily’s place and I wanted her to stay with Nott with Hugo and keep safe.
“Please Lils,” James said and I closed my eyes to hear the pain in his voice. “I already thought I lost you once, and Albus-”
He couldn’t finish his sentence and Lily reached across the table to pat his hand ineffectually. “That’s why I’m coming,” she said, with the same quiet resolve as Hugo. I hated them for it.
There was a long silence, broken only by Lily pouring herself a firewhisky.
“Do we even have a plan?” said Molly, looking directly at me.
I coughed, and scratched my head. Scorpius’ face fell. “I’m not going to like it, am I?” he asked.
I managed a grin at that. “Call it payback for the motorbike,” I said, and he rubbed my knee under the table, his eyes alive.
“You can’t lie, that was fun!” I bent his fingers back and his mouth opened in an O of pain.
“What’s the plan?” Hugo asked.
I pulled a face, still hanging onto Scorpius’ hand, but to comfort me this time. His hand tightened in mine. “I wouldn’t say it’s a plan, exactly...” I said. “More an idea... it’s a bit rough around the edges...”
Four hours later, it was nearly five in the morning and we had just finalised our plans. Lucy had fallen asleep on the table and Molly had a protective hand on her back. I was struggling to keep my eyes open and even Roxanne was yawning. Theodore clapped his hands.
“Come on kids, it’s time you all went to bed. Mother of Merlin, when was the last time you all slept? Come on. There are blankets in that cupboard and I’ll light the fire for those of you downstairs, and I have five beds upstairs.”
It took less than ten minutes for everyone to be half asleep in bed. James, Roxanne and Lily were sleeping on sofas downstairs, and Theodore had gallantly made himself a bed from leftover blankets and was sleeping on the floor after recasting the protective spells. I had a strong suspicion he wouldn’t sleep at all tonight, and instead watch over us. I climbed the stairs, and looked into the first room. Molly and Lucy were already asleep, intertwined in each other’s arms. When I was younger I couldn’t imagine being that close with my brother, but I kissed the top of Hugo’s head as he lay on a mattress on the floor. He shifted slightly in his sleep, but didn’t wake up, so I softly closed the door and made my way to the other bedroom.
“I like how he’s automatically assumed we’re a couple,” I said, as I sleepily climbed into the double bed that Scorpius was already in, his eyes closed- but I knew he was awake.
I saw the pitfall in the question and tried to backtrack. “It’s a good job more people don’t know you’re married,” I said instead of answering.
Scorpius groaned. “We’re not talking about Louisa. Not tonight.”
“What do you want to talk about then?” I said quietly, smiling, and he poked me in the side.
“Please shut up,” he moaned. “I’m so tired.”
“What? But I’m not tired at all-” my teasing was cut short by a massive yawn.
Then he heaved himself up onto his elbows, and kissed me, hard and passionately, his hands on the pillows tangled with my hair and I leaned up, sat up to meet him and cupped my hands around his face, his neck.
When we finally broke apart, I was definitely not tired anymore.
He brushed my hair back from my face. “Now will you go to sleep?” Scorpius said, his eyes bloodshot.
“I’m not sure I can,” I muttered, but I settled down next to him anyway, and within no time at all, his heavy breathing had lulled me into a deep, dreamless sleep.
I woke around four the next afternoon. I sat up and stretched, and Scorpius tried to pull me back down into the covers, but I resisted, kissing him lightly on the cheek. My... reluctance to let Scorpius interfere with my emotions and my actions had dissipated, and instead I only felt a pressing sense of time. Time which was running out. By this time tomorrow, I might never be able to see Scorpius or any of my family again. I suddenly wanted to make the most of the time I had left.
I padded quietly down the stairs, and into the kitchen. Theodore was sitting in one of the kitchen chairs, his feet propped up on the table and his head tipped back, mouth open. I watched the rise and fall of his chest for a couple of seconds to check if he was alive, like you would do with an old dog. He was, for the record.
I opened the fridge, and pulled out some leftover pasta from last night and tiptoed out the kitchen and back up to Scorpius.
“Hey,” he said, as I walked in. He was pulling on his shirt, his back to me. He turned with a smile, his eyes heavy with sleep. “Is anyone else awake?”
I shook my head. “Just us. We can leave them for a bit longer, I think.”
I climbed back into the warm bed, and so did a fully clothed Scorpius, and we ate pasta and flicked it at each other and giggled as quietly as we could, but by half four, we could hear the rest of the house waking up. We still didn’t get up though. I think Scorpius was feeling the same as me- that nothing would be the same after tonight, even if we did manage to get through it unscathed.
Wednesday 12th January, 9pm
-Rose: Langdon End, Yorkshire
I felt naked. There was no helpful Louis in my ear, no Dom somewhere with a Plan F should anything go awry, no twisting out of a tight spot with the help of my cousins. I was on a joint mission with no communication. All I had was the hope that the plan would go well. Because right now, there was just me.
Me, and Scorpius.
We stood at the back of the house, where the large flower gardens opened out into less tidy lawns, with orchards of dead trees and crumbling stone statues. It was clear that Carrow was only keeping up appearances. There was a tall wall encircling the estate, but that had been easily climbed, and the security so far was minimal. We had dodged one perimeter patrol and so far the protective charms had been bypassed without a hitch.
I was worried.
Scorpius took my hand, feeling how tense I was. “Relax,” he whispered, although I could hear his heart hammering in his chest.
I rolled my eyes, but I knew he couldn’t see me. We were dressed the darkest clothes that Theodore could rustle up, and had Disillusionment Charms on, but they were running out, and fast. We needed to get inside the house, but the trees and bushes were dramatically thinned out and we had barely any cover. I pulled at my hair, twisting the strands around my fingers.
“Come on,” I said, and still holding onto Scorpius’ hand, I started to jog noiselessly across the grass, keeping to the edge of the flower beds and half bent over. They shuddered in the wind, and I counted on their movement and colours to keep our hazy silhouettes disguised.
It was all going well until I fell over, catching my foot on a rock or something and somersaulting forwards. I didn’t hit the ground particularly hard, but I pulled Scorpius over and he landed on top of me with a yell of surprise, sprawling across the dewy grass. We froze, and a light came on in the house, which was about fifty foot away from us.
Six figures came out the house.
I rolled from under Scorpius as quietly as I could manage, keeping a hand on his back so he would stay where he was, and crawled up to meet him.
“You’re going to suggest splitting up, aren’t you?” he said, the words barely a whisper.
I tapped the back of his hand twice, not trusting my own voice, and I could almost feel him roll his eyes.
We stood up, slowly, quietly. I pushed him towards the left, and he nodded. “Loop around and meet by the door,” he whispered, and I grasped his hand hard in farewell.
The six figures spread out, intent on combing the lawns until they found us. I pulled my wand out from my belt, and it felt heavy and strange in my hand. I didn’t want to fight. I never had. I was a thief. My job was to get in and out before you even realised and if you did, you certainly did not remember. I protected myself, I protected my brother, my cousins, my friends. I did not put myself in harm’s way.
This is protecting your family, I reminded myself. But it didn’t matter that I was not the instigator of this, or that everything I had done since escaping from the Ministry was to protect myself, it still felt wrong and unnecessary.
I adjusted my grip on the handle, and it sat a little easier in my palm, although still not comfortable, familiar. The three men closest to me were even closer now, and I summoned all my courage, before shooting a whispered Stunning Spell at the one nearest. I fell to the ground, hugging the floor as their own spells shot above my head, and just as I heard the yells from the other side of the house, a Stunner from Scorpius dropped another of the men.
Now their attention was divided. I aimed a jinx as I was lying on the grass, but missed. I got another couple of spells in return, but they all kicked up dirt a couple of feet away. Then I was on my feet and running towards them, a Shield out in front of me. It deflected a couple of minor spells, and the only Killing Curse they had time to shoot at me went wide, because then I was on top of them.
I smashed one of them in the face with the heel of my palm, realising at the last second it was actually a woman, which confused me. The Fraternity didn’t employ women... did they? She collapsed, and I managed to turn just in time to dodge a curse thrown by the other guy. I shot a beam of ice blue light at him, my adrenaline fuelling a wordless spell, which hit him square in the chest and threw him backwards ten feet.
“Stupefy!” I whispered to the dazed woman at my feet, who slumped back into the grass. I strode over to the man, and poked him with my foot. He didn’t move.
Satisfied, I made my way to the house, and stuck to the shadows against the wall as I approached the door where I was supposed to meet Scorp. It was all quiet out in the garden, and I waited in silence, straining my ears over the throbbing of blood in my ears.
“Scorpius?” I said, straining my eyes to see him in the gloom, but his Disillusionment Charm had nearly completely worn off. “Thank god,” I said, crossing the short distance to him for a bone crushing hug.
“You alright?” he asked, keeping me close as we slowly edged towards the door.
“Fine,” he answered, but his voice sounded slightly strained... and then we were at the door, yellow light pooling in the doorway. I let my eyes adjust, and then stepped inside, my wand outstretched.
We were in a wood panelled hallway, with dressers and decorative vases and prayer chairs and tall oil lamps lined up against the walls. I swallowed nervously, and reached out for Scorpius’ hand, but his found mine first. The house was silent, waiting.
We were in.
It was quite late when Theodore Nott arrived at the Burrow, and he was almost certain he would be turned away and he wouldn’t be able to deliver his messages after all, but Harry Potter opened the door with a tired smile, silver streaking his hair. “Hello, how can I help you?”
Nott shuffled his feet, for a second unsure how to proceed. “I have a message for you... from James. And Lily. And Rose and Hugo and Molly and Lucy and Roxanne,” he said, all in a rush. “I don’t suppose you know where Mr and Mrs Malfoy are either, do you?”
After reassuring the broken parents and grandparents that this was not a joke, and their children really were alive and safe, Audrey and Percy Weasley were called for, along with Draco and Astoria Malfoy and the Johnson-Weasleys. Once again, they were all crammed into the kitchen, with Molly desperately making tea with shaking hands as Theodore Nott took a deep breath, and began his story.
He told them everything he knew- from the Clan’s beginnings when Dominique roped Teddy and Victoire into a quick robbery of an ex-boyfriends, to the Hogwarts break in and their subsequent arrest. He left nothing out- not Lily’s condition, not his suspicions of the traitor in their midst, not what their children were doing at this very second. Except where.
Ron Weasley went nearly as red as his hair, and his wife had to hang onto his arm to stop him punching Theodore in the face. “What do you mean you won’t tell me where they are?” he thundered.
Nott held up his hands in a feeble attempt at diplomacy. “I am sorry, Mr Weasley, but I don’t know exactly where they are, and Yorkshire is a big county- they could be anywhere! And they specifically asked for me not to help you find them either,” he added softly.
Even if Lily and Hugo wouldn’t obey their older siblings and stay behind, it had been unanimous to leave their parents out of their fight completely. Theodore dug into his pockets and produced letters, written earlier that afternoon.
“They wrote you these,” Nott said, apologising for his feeble offering, “and they hoped you’d understand.”
“We’ve got ourselves into this mess, and we’re going to get ourselves out of it,” Ginny read from James’ letter, while Harry’s tears smudged Lily’s.
Rose tried to make me stay behind, but I have to see this through...
I’ve missed you so much, and I love you...
It’s the only way we can prove ourselves innocent, I really hope you can see...
I love you Mum, Dad, and I’m really sorry we put you through all of this...
Don’t blame Theo, he’s done right by us while we’ve mucked everything up...
I know it doesn’t make it any easier, but I am so sorry...
I’ll see you both soon...
Wednesday 12th January, 11pm
-Rose: Langdon End
This went against everything I had ever done, everything I had ever known.
“Are you ready?” Scorpius said, and my stomach twisted in fear.
“As ready as I’ll ever be,” I said, and he squeezed my hand, and tapped me on the top of the head, my Disillusionment charm washing away with that warm trickle down my back. I did the same for him, although he was pretty opaque now anyway, and quickly solidifying. We waited a couple of extra minutes as the transparency was chased down my arms and off my fingertips, but we both knew we were just delaying.
“Come on then,” I said. We couldn’t put it off any longer.
Scorpius shot a vase and it exploded into a shower of pale dust as we ran down the corridor, feet thundering. I was singing.
“There once was a wizard called Michael Finnegan...”
I twisted and ran backwards, and shot a Blasting Curse at a dresser, but I missed and it only skimmed it, sending up a burst of splinters.
My voice was getting hoarse, but I persisted. “He grew whiskers on his chinnegan...”
I whipped my hand up and shattered a chandelier, throwing up my hands over my head to shielding myself from the falling glass, and Scorpius was knocking lamps and china ornaments off a chest of drawers. He picked up a tiny statue of a phoenix and threw it had against the wall, where it shattered against a portrait of a stately woman in blue with pearls in her hair, who shrieked and ran out of the frame, scattering a few matchstick people and birds from the landscape next along.
“The wind came out and blew them in again,” I half-sang, half-shouted. “Poor old Michael Finneg-”
I was slammed forward as finally someone came to see what we were doing. Our plan was simple, and hopefully effective. Carrow would definitely be banking on Scorpius and I being together, and everyone else together was just hearsay and hopes.
He didn’t know if we’d been successful with meeting up with my cousins, and then, the others could decide not to join us on this mission. And the title of ‘most likely to break into the headquarters of a secret bad man’ had definitely been earned by Scorpius and I through our exploits.
I picked myself up and scrambled behind a grandfather clock.
“CARROW!” Scorpius yelled, twirling on the spot. “Come out come out, where ever you are!”
I dodged a jet of light, and shot a curse back into the gloom. I couldn’t tell if it hit anyone or not. My heart was hammering in my chest and I had never felt more alive. This was so bloody crazy, I told myself. I spread my hands out on the scuffed floor, feeling my fingers tremble. This was crazy.
“Come on,” he shouted. “We just want to talk!”
Basically, Scorpius and I were trying to cause as much of a distraction as we could by blowing stuff up under the pretext of wanting to sort the whole thing out diplomatically, while James and the others were getting in as quietly as possible and splitting up to look for Lorcan and everyone else before meeting up with us. Scorp and I were acting desperate, but then, we were. This was our last shot, our only shot.
“If you want to talk, then why are you firing?” yelled a voice from the end of the corridor. “Put down your wands!”
“You put down yours!” I called back, sending a warning shot over their heads. They retaliated, and their spell exploded against the wall behind us a lot lower than mine had.
There was silence for a minute.
“They’re probably talking about what to do next,” Scorpius said, dropping down next to me. “And marvelling that we apparently don’t care if we die.”
“Oh shut up, you agreed to this,” I hissed.
“I’m calling peer pressure.”
I elbowed him in the side.
“What are they going to do?” he asked, squishing up against the wall next to me. “Jesus Rose, you could have picked something bigger to hide behind.”
“Well not everyone has legs like a bloody giraffe,” I said, noting how his knees stuck out from behind the clock. “If I was them, I’d push on. Try to get us alive, see if we really did want to talk, but no worries if we die.”
Scorpius risked a look around the clock, and clambered awkwardly into a crouch. “I’m going to suggest we keep moving then. Loop around and see how far we can lead them without being caught?”
I thought about it for a second. “I can’t think of anything better,” I said, and stood up, keeping myself in the shadow of the clock. “After you?”
Scorpius launched himself out into the corridor, running as fast as he could. I was close on his heels, my feet pounding. We’d barely gone ten feet when the first spell was sent spinning after us, but I erected a hasty Shield and it merely rebounded off, hitting a couple of pictures who screamed shrilly as their frames caught alight.
The corridor ended in a door, and Scorpius wrenched it open, tumbling through, and I followed, pausing only to slam the door behind us. We found ourselves in a large living room quietly lit with oil lamps, with low, pale sofas and equally short tables, the décor not unlike what I remembered from Louisa’s house- Ford Abbey. I was breathing heavily, and nearly tripped on the edge of a heavy rug. Scorp snatched one of the lamps up and threw it onto one of the couches, and it exploded into flames just as Carrow’s men opened the door. I grabbed Scorpius’ hand and pulled him into another room, curses flying after us- most of which were non-lethal, I realised from the shouting. I was right.
We were in another lounge area, the only difference seeming to me was that this one’s primary colour was green, and it had a piano. Was this all that big houses had? Sitting rooms in different colours?
The door opened and about nine men spilled in, spreading themselves out, wands raised. There was a door behind us, but would we be able to get to it? The slightest movement would get them to curse us- I couldn’t look behind me to see where Scorpius was. I was standing behind a sofa though, and my hands were hidden. I wiggled my fingers to get his attention, and then pointed downwards, and started a countdown. Five, four...
“We just want to talk, that’s all guys,” I said genially, watching their faces carefully. Their wand arms were steady, their faces hard. Two, one... I dropped, flattening myself onto the floor and heard a thud behind me as Scorpius mimicked me.
“Confringo!” I shouted, shooting the spell under the sofa and causing the skirting board to blow up behind them, sending splinters at their legs. Then I was on my feet, protected by the distraction, and still holding my wand out, yelled “Protego!”
My Shield blossomed from the end of my wand, and I grabbed Scorpius from the floor and dragged him through the door. Another lounge. Where the hell are these rooms coming from?
“I don’t think they’re Fraternity,” Scorpius panted. “I didn’t recognise any of them.”
They weren’t part of the Fraternity? We dodged through another door, coming out into a dimly lit corridor. That explained why I’d incapacitated a woman outside, but it only posed the question of who they were. “They can’t be Aurors,” I wheezed back, swinging around a corner and pulling Scorp with me.
“Hired muscle?” he said, catching up and running alongside.
I nodded, too out of breath to agree verbally. These months of being in hiding had seriously taken its toll on my fitness and I couldn’t keep this up for much longer, and by the looks of things, Scorpius was the same.
“We need to find somewhere that we can hold down,” I said. “Somewhere defens-”
My words were cut off as another spell slammed into my Shield, pushing me forwards, but I managed to stay on my feet, and luckily my barrier held. There was shouted swearing from behind us, and I allowed myself a vindictive smile.
“Through here,” Scorpius said, skidding to a halt and opening a door. I barrelled through after him and found myself in a huge library. It was lit softly with gas lamps but their glow was broken up by the tall bookshelves which towered up to the ceiling. The room seemed to leech away the light with the dark panelled walls and stacked with books bound in cracked leather or stained cloth. I took a second to absorb the silence, to try to calm the blood roaring in my ears. Scorpius disappeared behind a bookshelf, and I followed him, my footsteps silent on the floorboards. I’d just lost sight of the door when I heard it open, and people thunder in.
“Where are they?” a gruff man’s voice said.
My mouth spread into a wide grin. This is what I was good at- sneaking around in the quiet and the dark. I listened. Judging from their footsteps, they’d gone down the centre aisle, whereas we’d veered off to the left. I pointed at the floor, indicating for Scorp to stay where he was, and I tiptoed back so I could see the door. There was a hulking shape there, waiting. They’d left someone to guard the door, so we also had to assume there were people on every exit.
“How many is there?” Scorpius breathed in my ear when I came back to him.
“About nine,” I whispered back, but put a finger to my lips.
“Do we have a plan?”
I tapped my lips with my finger, raising my eyebrows. Did he not understand the concept of being silent? Apparently the men did though- no matter how much I strained my ears, I couldn’t hear any footsteps.
“What do you want me to do?” I turned to glare at Scorpius, but he only shrugged apologetically.
“You can shut up,” I whispered, rotating my ankles, checking my shoes. They were laced up tightly, and wouldn’t give me away. “You take out the guard at the door, and then take his place. I’ll go through the library and weed out the guys. By then we should have given James and the others plenty of time.”
“You want me to just stand at the door?” Scorpius said, outraged, and I winced at the volume of his voice.
“No, hit anything that you see moving, and for Merlin’s sake don’t get shot yourself,” I told him, starting to glide noiselessly away. He grabbed my arm.
“What if I hit you?” he said, and I could picture his expression- a worried furrow between his eyes, his mouth slightly open. I kissed his cheek.
“You won’t see me,” I said, and watched him disappear into the gloom.
I stayed where I was for a moment, allowing myself time to calm down. Adrenaline was all very well, but I needed to be silent, deadly. Emotionless. I pushed all my feelings aside, and concentrated. My biggest giveaway was going to be the spells I cast, so I needed to make sure I could get away quickly and quietly. I retied up my hair, pushing a few stray strands behind my ears, and took a deep breath. I had eight to deal with.
The first man was alone, and I crept up behind him easily, my footsteps silent and my breathing light. He didn’t even see me until I was right in front of him, and by that time, it was too late. The second man was a little harder- he held out his wand in front of him, lumos lighting the tip as he slunk around the corners, always keeping his back to a wall. I couldn’t surprise him- his death would be obvious, and surely bring others to his aid.
I had an idea. I scaled a bookshelf, carefully climbing until I reached the top, and then lay down on the wood, keeping my head down to avoid the chandelier. Then I shot a Blasting Curse at the man below me. I ducked back just in time to avoid the debris, and then, I waited. I didn’t have to wait long. It was barely thirty seconds before there were pounding feet echoing, and then three men below me lit their wands. One bent down, and picked up the second man’s wand, the tip of which was still feebly glowing.
“That’s Joseph’s,” he said.
“Shit man,” another said. “He’s been exploded.”
I bit back the revulsion, the guilt, the knowledge that I did that- and dropped another Blasting Curse. I didn’t hide this time, I got up and ran, lightly flying over the tops of the bookshelves, leaping and running away from the havoc and death I just caused. I stopped when the bookshelf ended, and stood at the end for a while. I could see the door, where a hulking figure stood. Scorpius.
As I watched, he moved- only infinitesimally, but I noticed, and then his arm came up and round in a sweeping motion, a silent rope of emerald coming from the tip. It wrapped itself around a figure and knocked him to the ground. Scorpius ran over to the figure and checked his face, before giving the whip a flick. The figure gave a jerk and there was a terrible crack, and then stillness. The rope dissolved, and Scorpius went back to the door, guarding.
I stayed up on the bookshelf for a little while longer, counting on my fingers. Scorpius had two, and I had got rid of... five. The number made me shudder, but there was only two more to go.
The seventh man was easy to find, as I stayed on the bookshelves, using my height as an advantage. I dropped almost noiselessly behind him as he blundered around, his feet loud and breathing heavy. It was almost painful. I got closer, ready to strike the killing blow, and then I was grabbed from behind, a hand over my mouth before I’d even remembered to scream. My wand almost slipped from my grasp, but I managed to shoot a wordless curse over my shoulder, into the last man’s face. He let go with a low growl, and then I was tackled by the noisy man, who knocked me clean onto the floor, my wand skittering out of reach. The silent man pulled me up, punching me in the gut and I staggered backwards, holding my stomach.
“I’ve got her!” the noisy man said, grabbing onto my wrists and pulling them behind my back, holding them tightly, straining my shoulder muscles.
“Shut up,” the silent man hissed. “Her friend will hear you, if he hasn’t already.” He smiled at me. “And you, don’t even think about making a sound.”
The man behind me shifted his grip up my arms, so his hands clamped my elbows painfully together. But at least that meant I had my hands free. He’d hastily jammed his wand into his pocket, so he had both hands free to incapacitate me, and I neatly twisted the wand out and aimed it at his stomach, whispering the first curse that came to mind.
He fell with a thud to the floor, and I barely had time to roll my shoulders before the silent man was there. I punched him, tiptoeing so I could reach his nose and it broke, blood spurting out. I followed it with a roundhouse kick, expecting him to be winded and in a lot of pain, but in return I got a box on the ear, hard enough to knock me back on the floor and daze me. I sluggishly aimed the wand at him, but he twisted away in time. I kicked him, my foot connecting with his groin and he winced, but it didn’t slow him down. Before I knew it, he was on top of me, his hands around my throat, the balls of his thumbs pressed painfully into my windpipe.
“Scorpius!” I wheezed, my hands scrabbling desperately at the vice-like grip around my neck. “Help! Scorpius!”
My vision was going, black spots dancing in front of my face. My lungs felt like they were on fire, there was nothing to breathe, nothing I could do... I was completely helpless. My hands fluttered towards the man’s face, but I had no strength left, I couldn’t hurt him.
“Scorpius!” I tried one more time to make a sound, but I wasn’t even sure if I had said his name. Then, there was a jet of green light, and the hands left my throat. The man slumped on top of me, his chest in my face, and I didn’t even have the power to push him off. He wasn’t breathing. Then the man was pushed off, and Scorpius appeared. He forced me into a sitting position, pushing my hands up behind my head, letting me rest and cry into his shirt. I was as helpless as a rag doll, concentrating only on the flow of air into my lungs. When I had recovered, I tried to find my wand, but Scorpius pressed it into my hand.
“Are you okay now?” he asked.
“I’m fine,” I said, trying to compose myself, but my throat was sore and voice hoarse. “I told you to stay by the door!”
“Yeah, you’re welcome,” Scorpius said, heaving me to my feet and keeping a supporting arm around me. “Homenum Revelio,” he said, and after a pause, shook his head. “That’s everyone gone. We should be able to meet up with the others now.”
He looked at me, concerned. I realised I was gently massaging my throat. “Are you okay?”
I brushed his concern away. “Fine. Let’s go then.”
He started to walk away, his wand lighting the bookshelves and his face, which was furrowed into a frown. I jogged to catch him up, even the slightest exertion meaning I gasped for air again, and slipped a hand into his.
“Thank you,” I said breathlessly. “You just saved my life.”
There was a pause, and then he squeezed my hand, his fingers rough and warm in mine. “I never want to have to again,” he said quietly.
I stopped walking, pulling him to a halt, and tiptoed up to reach his lips, pulling his face down to meet me. His kiss was gentle, his mouth soft.
“I love you.”
For a second, I wasn’t sure who had said it, but then I realised that I had my eyes closed and my heart was pounding and my mouth was dry. Scorpius kissed my cheek, his stubble rough, and I opened my eyes.
“I love you too.”
There was a bang, a horrible crash far away in the depths of the mansion and then a horrendous blood curdling scream. I was still holding onto Scorpius’ hand, and started to run, pulling him with me as I ran, blindless through the dark rooms. My lungs were on fire, and my throat ached, but somewhere someone was screaming and it could be one of my family. We turned a corner, and Scorpius had to hold me back before I ran straight into a firefight. It was a massive ballroom, with a vaulted ceiling painted with murals and chandeliers hanging down, their crystals swinging and chiming. One wall was covered with deep purple drapes and the rest were oak panelled, with empty picture frames, all the inhabitants gone, except for a large painting of a fat tabby cat who looked utterly bored. Low tables and satin sofas were scattered around the room, with people hiding behind them.
“There,” Scorpius said, pointing. Not twenty feet away was Dom, hiding behind an upturned table and looking grimy and tired but otherwise none the worse for her imprisonment.
“Dom!” I called, and she looked up, her face breaking out into a rare smile.
“Get your arses over here,” she yelled back. “I’ll cover you!”
She twisted her arm over the table, firing spells, and Scorp and I took advantage of the confusion by running to her shelter, collapsing behind it.
“You’ve got some cracking bruises coming up on your neck, Rose,” Dom said, ducking down behind the barrier again. “What the hell happened?”
“Some dickhead tried to strangle me,” I said, my hands going to my throat. The skin was tender and it still hurt a little to breathe. “He won’t do it again. Have you seen Hugo?”
“Oh, how are you, Dom? How have you been? I’ve missed you, Dom! It must have been horrible being in prison while I was off playing James Bond with my fancy boyfriend!” Sarcasm dripped from every word, and I supposed I deserved it a little, but it comforted me as well. Dom was her usual self.
I rolled my eyes. “Yeah, it must have been, you look terrible.”
Dom glared at me. “It wasn’t exactly five star.”
“Are you okay though?”
She waved me off nonchalantly. “I’m fine, just messing with you. Hugo is way over on the other side of the room. Last time I saw him, he didn’t have a scratch on him. You want covering fire? Lily is on the next sofa over.”
I didn’t even have time to thank her before she started to shoot over the top of her table, one eye closed for accuracy, a terrible habit that I had tried extremely hard to get her to stop.
Scorp took my hand again and we stood up to run. Lily was only twenty feet or so away, but it might as well have been the Atlantic. A spell came in from the side, like a silver gunshot, trailing white sparks so it looked like a firework. It was too quick for me to deflect it, but it missed me by less than half a metre. Still holding my hand, Scorpius sagged to the floor, nearly pulling me down with him.
I sank to my knees next to him, panic rising in my throat.
He coughed, and there was blood on his lips. “I’m fine, calm down, I’m fine.”
He coughed again, and wiped his mouth with the back of his hand. He saw the blood and his eyes widened. “Okay, maybe not so much.”
“Can you move? We need to get you to shelter.”
“I can move,” he said, and we managed to get behind Lily’s sofa, me dragging him the last couple of yards.
“What happened?” she asked, risking a shot over the sofa. There was a yell as it hit its target.
“He got hit,” I said shortly. “Where’s Hugo? Scorp, where does it hurt?”
Lily pointed across the room. “He’s over there somewhere, with Lorcan I think.”
Relief washed over me like a wave. He was okay. Lorcan would look after him. Scorpius looked confused. Confused and scared. “Scorp, where does it hurt?”
My relief was just as quickly replaced by fear. “What?”
“I can’t feel a damn thing,” he said.
Lily was listening, and knew already who I wanted. “Louis is just there,” she said. “I’ll cover you.”
Scorpius tried to protest, but was cut off by a hacking cough and I was already on my feet, running to Louis’ shelter, behind an upturned table. I slid to a stop, nearly kicking Louis.
“Red!” He enveloped me in a bear hug, before looking at me critically. “You’ve lost too much weight. You look like a ghost.”
“Scorpius,” I managed to get out.
“What is it?”
“Some white, silver spell. It knocked him down and he’s coughing blood but he says it doesn’t hurt,” I said, trying to hold back tears but they were choking me up. We can’t have come this far together with it to end now.
Louis didn’t even look worried. “Don’t worry Rosie,” he said, giving me his big brother half-smile. “Lily?” he called.
“On it!” she yelled back, sending a barrage of spells so quick and fast at the mix of witches and wizards there were a couple of surprise yells.
Louis pushed me to my feet and we covered the metres to Lily and Scorpius easily enough. He was lying flat, one hand on his forehead.
“I’m cold,” he said, and his teeth were chattering, his lips flecked with blood.
“It was white?” Louis said.
I nodded. “And it left a trail of sparks,” I told him, grabbing onto Scorpius’ hand, if only to feel his pulse. Louis lifted up Scorpius’ shirt, revealing a black stain spreading across the centre of his chest like spilt ink.
“What is that?” I asked, my fingers pressed against Scorpius’ wrist, matching my breaths with the pumping of his blood, trying to calm myself.
“The spell. Not so pretty now, is it? I can fix this,” he said. “Kinda.”
“Some help, Rose?” Lily said, and Louis nodded.
“You can leave Scorp to me.”
I registered that Louis was using his nickname, and feeling reassured, turned to Lily. “What’s the situation?”
“We’re screwed, basically,” she said. “There’s too many of them to make a real difference and they’ve got some kind of a barrier protecting them from all the really lethal spells, so we can only hit them with minor hexes and a few charms.”
“Have you tried confringo?” I suggested, my hand still in Scorpius’. “Don’t aim it at them, aim at the wall above them, and try to bring it down on their heads?”
Lily raised an eyebrow. “That’s good.”
“Thank you,” I said, peering above the sofa before arching my arm and shooting a Blasting Curse above their heads. The crash made us cover our ears, but when the dust cleared only the panelling had been scorched off the wall. Behind me, Louis was muttering spells under his breath, his hands hovering over Scorpius.
“Got any other ideas?” Lily asked, sending a Jelly-Legs Jinx at one man’s bald head and hitting him straight between the eyes, causing him to uncontrollably jerk out of sight.
“We need to get behind the barrier,” I said. “How far does it stretch?”
“Too close to them. We tried that already.”
I rolled my eyes. “There has to be a way,” I said, grinding my teeth in frustration. “We can’t hurt them too badly, right? So something that could just knock them out?”
“We’ve tried Stunning, it doesn’t work. What are you getting at?”
“A sleeping charm? Capio dormio?”
Lily looked sceptical. “You want to make them fall asleep?”
“It’s the one Hagrid uses when he has to reset an animal’s leg or something. They’re out for hours, and they don’t feel a thing. Pretty sure my parents used it on me and Hugo when we were younger.”
“Capio dormio?” Lily repeated. I nodded, and she shrugged. “Worth a try.”
Before I could say another word, she had launched the spell. It travelled almost lazily, snaking its way across the no-man’s land, and then a woman with dark hair collapsed. “It worked,” she said, and high fived me. “Cover me, I’m going to tell the others.”
I sent an attack of brightly coloured spells over the sofa, which gave her enough time to get to James and Lysander, who were not far away. I leaned over and called as loudly as I dared to Dom.
“Capio dormio! It’ll send them to sleep!”
She looked as unimpressed as Lily, and sent the spell without even looking at her opponents, but after the wizard slumped over his table and had to be pulled back by his friends she gave me a thumbs up and started to attack with ferocity.
“How is he?” I asked, but Louis didn’t look up.
“It’s tough. Shut up a second.”
I wasn’t saying anything anyway, but I gently held Scorpius’ hand, running my fingers across his scarred palm. A little colour was coming back into his cheeks. Louis sat back on his heels.
“Do you want to try sitting up?”
Scorpius managed it, if a little wobbly. I lifted his shirt up. His skin which had been black was now a soft red, like a fever, except for a small patch of ebony.
“That’s where the spell hit,” Louis said. “You should be fine for a bit, but it’s a kind of poison which numbs you while it corrodes your insides, and some is still in your system. When we’re done you need to go to a hospital straight away, you hear me? I can’t tell how much damage has been done.”
I grabbed Scorpius, kissing him and pulling him into a relieved hug.
“Not that numb, Rosie,” he mumbled into my hair. “Get off.”
I released him quickly. “You okay? You sure?”
“I feel okay. A little unsteady.”
“Is it over?” Louis said suddenly, and I became aware of the silence. Dom shot down a guy trying to run for the door and the thump of his body hitting the floor was the loudest thing in the room. I stood up, helping Scorpius to his feet, and looked around. Sleeping bodies littered the other side of the room.
James’ voice rang out. “Dom, Louis, Lysander, check them.”
Louis rolled his eyes, but got up, crossing the room. Scorpius picked up my hand, and I turned to him, smiling.
“Is this really over?” he said.
“There’s still Carrow to find,” I said. “It looks like it though.”
Scorpius broke into a huge grin, and I kissed him, throwing my arms around his neck. We made it. All of us made it. I hugged him and he lifted me off my feet, spinning me around slightly before staggering and nearly dropping me.
“Whoa there,” I said, laughing, and then there was a yell. Hugo’s voice.
There was a burst of green light and my brother crumpled. From the shadows of the drapery, a figure burst out and sprinted to the door with an awkward, lumbering gait. A poorly fired spell from someone set alight the curtains, but missed the figure and they made it to the door, disappearing from view.
I had left Scorpius before he had even realised what had happened and sprinted to Hugo, falling to the floor on my knees. His brown eyes stared up at the ceiling, glassy. I tried to frantically feel for a pulse, for breath, for anything. Louis pushed me out of the way, and I tried to stand but I couldn’t, my knees weak.
I didn’t realise I was screaming until my throat started to hurt.
Scorpius’ arms were encircling me, tears in his eyes and I knew they weren’t for Hugo, they were for me. I could hardly move, my limbs stiff and it felt like the only thing keeping me whole, keeping me together, was Scorpius. He was shielding me from Hugo, wanting to keep me from looking into his dead eyes, but I needed him almost as much as I needed Scorpius.
My brother. Hugo. The one thing that was genuinely good and innocent in my life of criminality and darkness. It wasn’t worth it. Nothing was worth this sacrifice. I thought about going back to our apartment, alone. Family meals with a spare seat at the table. Distantly, I could hear people crying, and it slowly brought me back to the present, although I felt like I was clawing my way back to sanity.
I gently pushed Scorpius away, and he let me go. Hugo still lay where he fell, Louis’ attempts to revive him unsuccessful. The only person to ever survive the Killing Curse was our uncle.
I moved a lock of his curly hair from his forehead, and kissed it gently, feeling like I was carved from stone. His skin was chilly. Sitting in clumps around him were the rest of our family, eyes red from crying. James was holding onto Lily and Albus, Dom was with Victoire and Louis, Molly and Lucy holding hands. Lorcan and Lysander stood near each other, Lorcan’s face showing that he was aching for my loss, like Scorpius. Even Fred and Roxanne were sat together, his arm around his little sister’s shoulders. There was just me alone, without a sibling. Scorpius’ hand was in mine, his fingers warm and rough. He didn’t say anything, but he didn’t need to for me to know that he was there.
I unlaced his fingers and left the room, striding purposefully down the corridor, but my hands shook. I realised I wasn’t crying. The corridor was dark, but I didn’t need to know where I was going. I just needed to get away.
I started to run, the blood roaring in my ears and my heart pounding. I heard a shout behind me, but I ignored it. Perhaps I could wake up, turn back time, be there for my brother when he needed me, or sacrifice myself in some way so he could live instead.
A silvery creature ran out in front of me, and I skidded to a stop, afraid I’d hurt it, but it was a Patronus, as substantial as smoke. It was a badger, I realised, as it lumbered off down the corridor in front of me, occasionally turning back to watch me. I followed it.
The room it led me to was strange, too big to be a study but too small to be a library. Three walls were stacked high with bookshelves, tall windows opening out onto the Yorkshire moors, the light of the moon just creeping through, throwing strange shadows.
“Lumos,” I whispered.
“Is this the end then?” a voice said, and I lifted my wand to see Carrow. He used his wand to light the candelabra on a large teakwood desk, and turned to face me. He was tall and thin, leaning on the table like his legs pained him.
“Yes it is,” I said, but I made no move to strike him. I was numb.
“What are you going to do?”
“I’m going to kill you,” I said, and I surprised myself with the conviction in my voice. It wasn’t an empty threat.
Carrow merely raised an eyebrow. “Really? No trial, no jury? You aren’t going to take me back to the Ministry so I can be shut up in Azkaban for the rest of my life?”
I stared at him, unblinking. “No,” I said. “I don’t want you to think about what you have done. I don’t want you to repent while you rot in a cell. I want to make sure that you can never touch any of my family again.”
That’s when Carrow’s face changed, and he started to look scared. In his mind, we didn’t figure at all in his plans. Every step of the way, our resourcefulness, our cunning, our continued survival... it was all a surprise to him. We were a means to an end. Our parents were the ones who needed punishing, the bad people. But that was where he was wrong. We were the bad guys too.
He whipped up his wand and shot a jet of green light at me, but I sidestepped it as easily as pulling pints. There was no adrenaline or raised heart rate. I didn’t care if I died. I knew that any one of my family would kill Carrow if I failed.
There were footsteps behind me, and the rest of my family spilled into the room. Scorpius came to stand next to me, his face hard, but Carrow smiled, and I knew what he would do a second before even he had realised, and I brought my arm up and over, wordlessly casting the strongest Shield Charm I had ever made. It blossomed out in front of me, protecting my family, so powerful it was opaque.
Behind me, James raised his wand, and the others followed suit, pointing their wands at Carrow, but he just smiled.
“Share the joke,” Dom spat.
He looked so pleased with himself. “There’s still a traitor amongst you,” he said, leaning further back on the table. “Does your noble little speech still apply, Rose? When there is someone amongst you who told tales and helped bring you in? If you are going to kill me, what are you going to do to them?”
My shield flickered and died, punctured by my sudden lack of faith.
“Do you want to know who it is?” he said.
“It’s me,” someone said, before Carrow had a chance to continue. I turned to see Lorcan, his brown eyes wide and wet. “It’s me,” he said, shaking his head like even he couldn’t believe it. My already sore heart was wrenched apart again, so painful I thought I could hear it ripping.
“I got caught red handed by Carrow a year ago, and there was enough to send me to Azkaban for life, or get deported. The Fraternity was already working for him and he said that if I didn’t help him, then I would condemn you all. I didn’t know what he was planning, I swear, and then when this happened he caught Lysander and said he’d kill him...”
Lorcan trailed off, perhaps realising his excuses would never be enough.
Carrow clapped, the noise echoing. “A beautiful confession,” he said. “But I’m afraid I can’t let you say anymore.”
He shot a spell at Lorcan, tearing through the shredded remnants of my Shield, aiming straight for him, but didn’t count on Lysander, who covered fifteen metres or so to push his twin out the way. The spell caught his shoulder, sending him spinning like a rag doll, but Lorcan fell to the ground unharmed, and Louis was with Lysander immediately.
Carrow tried to run for it, crashing through the window and landing on the flowerbeds outside with a short yell. I didn’t think twice before jumping out after him. We were only on the second floor, and my sore ankle twanged but I stayed upright.
He was trying to get away, get out of the constraints of the Anti-Apparating Charm on the mansion, but he couldn’t run fast enough.
I lifted my arm, half whispering the words, and green light streamed from my wand, hitting him squarely in the back. His arms flung up, almost in surprise, before he dropped to the ground like a stone. I didn’t go to check the body. He was dead.
A/N: That is the end of this story. Well, nearly. There is a one shot planned and mostly written for Rose and Scorpius after this, and two sequels planned also, so keep an eye out. Update: my one shot is now out, called 'Heart Without a Home'.
Thank you so much for reading and reviewing my story. Finishing this was hard and I couldn't have done it without any readers; you made this story as much as I did. Every single review and read is precious to me. I hope you liked it, and I hope you continue to keep a look out for more of my stuff and more from Rose. Thank you.