Chapter 11 : In the Three Broomsticks
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“Tarantallegra!” I shouted, setting some man’s feet to dancing before he could open his mouth with a curse. I watched with satisfaction as he flailed futilely for balance, hands smacking those people nearest him as he tripped over his own feet. There was a hard shove against my arm and I staggered sideways into the crowd. “Protego!” The spell was pure instinct. I turned to see who had pushed me and faced Logan’s angry glare.
“Audrey, get lost!” No sooner were the words spoken than Logan swivelled his wand in a sweeping arc. I gaped wide-eyed as he and Regulus were surrounded by a ring of golden flames.
“Logan, no!” I yelled. My heart thundered in my chest as those that had been closing in took an instinctive step back. The fire hovered dangerously above the ground, protecting Logan and Regulus but keeping the many that attacked at bay.
“Aguamenti.” Streams of water came from the crowd but it had no effect. Almost every surface was wood; what had Logan been thinking? Yet bizarrely, the flames emitted no heat. That couldn’t be normal… From the midst of the fire Regulus cast every defence he knew as Logan threw a torrent of spells into the crowd. People were panicking now and I spotted James Potter forcibly heralding people out the back door. Under the cover of spells Logan and Regulus inched towards the front door, striving to get beyond the Pub’s anti-Apparition wards.
“Incarcerous!” I recognised the voice. Gertrude Beck was in the midst of the crowd and I felt a welcome surge of relief as she fought for Logan. The men either side of her had been restrained with thick ropes and –
“Expelliarmus!” I called just in time to disarm the woman aiming for Beck. Then a sharp pain ripped through my back; my startled cry went unnoticed as I crumpled to the ground.
“My god.” My heart was thudding, mouth dry and palms sweaty. Nonetheless, I held tightly to Lily’s hand as she tried desperately to rip it from my grip. “Lily we have to go!”
“Then leave, Ara.” She finally succeeded in tearing her hand from mine and spun to face me with raised wand. “I have half a mind to claim a thousand galleons.” Over her shoulder she shot Logan a look of such loathing that I could almost believe she was serious. He and Regulus were towards the front of the Pub, holding off those that had taken up Malfoy’s challenge. Apart from them, Gertrude Beck alternately duelled a straggly-haired lady and threw curses into the crowd that surrounded Logan.
“Tell me you’re joking.” Someone was casting hexes from beneath a wooden table that had people temporarily scattered and throwing blind curses all around. Worse – I couldn’t see Sirius…
“Protego!” Lily cried. I jumped in alarm, swivelling to face her as a table exploded nearby. Lily didn’t even flinch. “He deserves everything he gets. If it weren’t so obvious that Malfoy’s up to something, I’d be first in line to serve up a little justice.”
Logan and Regulus were still surrounded by that ring of golden flames but it had begun to flicker and flounder as Logan hexed everyone in sight. He edged his way carefully to the nearest door, while Regulus’ face remained one of harsh concentration.
“He’s going to set the building on fire,” I murmured, transfixed by the flames.
“Don’t be silly,” Lily replied absently, eyes darting sharply around the room. I felt my senses come alert, just knowing she was planning something rash. “It’s not that kind of fire. Haven’t you noticed none of the hexes getting past?”
At Lily’s words I took a second look and sure enough, though dozens of people had made to actively attack, Logan and Regulus remained unharmed. They presented a disturbing picture – backs to the wooden bar that ran part of the length of the room, a crescent of armed wizards closed in on all other sides. Beyond this huddle was where Gertrude was battling. Even as I watched, she danced out of reach of an oncoming curse and stupefied the woman she’d drawn from the crowd. Other patrons hovered on the fringes of the skirmish, reluctant both to get involved and to let the strange opportunity pass.
“Come with me!” It was these people James Potter was targeting. He grabbed the elbow of a nearby man, holding tight as the man tried furiously to disengage himself. “I’m doing this for your own good…” James evaded the man’s jabs as he pulled him bodily towards the back door.
“Impedimenta!” The man spluttered in annoyance, missing James by a whisker. “Mobilicorpus!”
“Now look here,” James finally yelled, twisting the man to face the front of the Pub. “Does that look like a man about to shell out one thousand galleons?”
I followed their look to see Lucius Malfoy, back against the front door as he surveyed the scene warily. Yet – so outnumbered – it was surely only a matter of time before Logan was captured. He regarded the scene with unease and hesitance and I realised with a start that the door Logan was moving towards was that same one.
“No it does not!” James continued. “So all that’s going to happen is you’ll accidentally get hit by a badly aimed hex and manage to find yourself in the middle of a full-scale riot.” His voice rose with agitation. “Do you want to find yourself in the middle of a full-scale riot?”
A second pair of hands came to help James, as he and some Ravenclaw pushed the man out the back door. The back door was wide open. It was wide open. Beyond the walls of the Three Broomsticks came the cracks of Disapparition as even more people scurried away. Why the heck were we still here?
“Everybody!” Heart racing, I turned desperately to the amplified voice and found James Potter scrambling atop a chair. Lily mumbled something into my ear. I nodded vaguely, not really listening as I shifted my attention to James. I waited expectantly, pathetically grateful to have him take charge. James fervently waved his hands and those not part of the mercenary crowd or fleeing through the back door, paused to listen. “Don’t be fools. He’s not paying anything. Get out of this place or answer to Magical Law Enforcement. I guarantee they’re on their way…” While James reasoned with people, the Ravenclaw gave them no choice. I recognised him from the Quidditch team as he forced everybody out the back door. “Be smart, guys. Just get the hell – ”
“Woah!” I threw my hands up to cover my ears, recoiling as a fearsome crash resounded throughout the room. “Oh my God.” I looked back up to see the remnants of a shattered table spill over the ground. Missing Logan – the intended target – it had instead smashed against the panelled walls.
My heart leapt in my chest as I finally glimpsed Sirius. Part of the mayhem, he was fighting to clear a route for others’ escape. As I watched, he led a group of nervous third years safely through the Pub, stopping only to drag an agitated Peter Pettigrew with them. I looked once more to Gertrude, engaged in yet another fight but this time ducking a hex too late. Regulus and Logan were still under fire and had Logan really tried to kill Malfoy? The blood rushed through my veins, so fierce it seemed an audible thing. From among it all, my fear transformed into a steely resolve and I was filled with a fresh sense of purpose. Forget escape. I wouldn’t – I couldn’t – just leave these people to their fate. Here was utter chaos; we needed help.
I turned to Lily. I could make her see sense:
There was nobody there.
“Get off me!” Face down on the floor with a mouth full of dirt, my cry went muffled and largely unheard. “Get off!” I yelled, shaking my leg furiously as I was dragged bodily across the ground. I threw up my arms to shield my head from stamping feet, as the grip of fingers tightened ominously around my ankle. “Get – ”
Before I could finish the sentence a hand was locked tightly around my mouth. I gritted my teeth against the pain as the Striking Hex I’d suffered earlier smarted uncomfortably against my back.
“Shut...up.” I stopped struggling as the familiar voice hissed into my ear. His mouth was so close, his breath so warm and moist against my cheek I had to resist the childish urge to scrub away germs.
“Mulciber!” I snarled, as he dragged us under the nearest table. I dislodged him with a hard elbow to the gut, then spun around hoping my eyes spit murder. “What do you think you’re doing?”
He shot me a look of equal disgust as he rubbed the ribs I’d attacked and took up position against the wall. We were under one of the tables where there was barely room to kneel, so I faced him settled in a wary crouch. I shoved my wand into his face – pleased to see it spitting sparks – and watched in satisfaction as he flinched cautiously away.
“What do you think I’m doing?” he asked, that look of loathing never leaving his face. “I’m saving your Pureblood neck.”
“I didn’t need saving!” I fumed, aghast at the bizarre logic.
“Kindly remove your wand from my face.” I only narrowed my eyebrows, not willing to be ignored. Finally, Mulciber scoffed in disbelief. “Fine! Get back there, then.” He inched forward, hand outstretched as if to shove me back out.
“Get off!” I yelled, batting his hand away as James Potter addressed the crowd.
“Okay…” The smug tone of his voice was appalling. “But you owe me.”
“I wouldn’t count on it,” I jeered. “I was never in any danger.” But now was not the time to trade barbs. So I turned my back on him, swept a quick look through the Pub and ignored the pain that small movement shot through my back.
Loathe as I was to admit it, Mulciber had found a good position. I had a perfect view of the people crowding Logan and Regulus but was concealed beneath the table. Mulciber might want to stay secreted away but I had better ideas. From this vantage point I could curse unseen, whilst retaining some measure of protection.
“Well, that’s not the way I’ll tell it…” Ignoring Mulciber, I silently blessed James Potter. His clearing of the rabble would make my job a lot easier. It was much simpler to hex the right people when spectators didn’t get in your way.
I caught the man mid-curse and whistled a sigh of relief when his spell sailed harmlessly over Regulus’ left shoulder.
“Nicely played.” I threw another curse at a man approaching Logan and levelled my wand to take down another. “What? No ‘thank you’?”
“Mulciber, I don’t have time for this,” I snapped. Logan may be a talented dueller, but all that stood between him and scores of people was one (admittedly complex) shield. If any of them managed to penetrate that… Regulus and Logan would be overwhelmed by sheer force of numbers and I didn’t fancy seeing my brother in Azkaban. He was innocent of Lucius’ accusations but when you carried the Dark Mark people tended to assume the worst. “Either help or be quiet.”
“What happened to those pretty manners? And why should I get involved?” I was barely listening; my attention was caught as I stared across the room – right into the eyes of Daniel Winters.
“Then leave. Door’s open.” Winters was crouched beneath his own table, eyes alert and curses firing. I swivelled my head, trying quickly to determine whose side he was on. In my moment of pause and inaction, there was an almighty crash.
Logan ducked as a table went sailing over his head. It shattered violently against the wall. The moment stole his concentration and I watched the last flames of the protective ring sputter and die. Immediately, Logan’s wand was moving in a rough pattern as he erected a translucent shield of protection. But whereas the fire had guarded both he and Regulus, this shield served to protect only Logan.
“Boyfriend’s in trouble…” My throat was suddenly tight as Mulciber leered towards me. The kind of magic it would take to create another shield that strong was beyond Regulus’ experience. Logan could do it but Logan was busy fending off his own veritable swarm of attacks – and truthfully, I wasn’t convinced Regulus ranked high on his list of concerns. “If it makes you feel better, I’m pulling for your brother. Maybe. At least Malfoy never spurned me.” And in the mean time, Regulus was remarkably exposed.
I urgently assessed the situation. Near the back door, James Potter and the Ravenclaw beater had almost emptied the room of spectators. The floor remained littered with a multitude of men and women, their unconscious forms sprawled over the wooden boards. Some had tried to attack Logan and been successfully neutralised while others simply found themselves on the wrong side of a stray spell. Logan was drawing ever closer to Lucius Malfoy as Regulus ducked for cover behind the mahogany bar.
Sirius stood not far from James. His gaze fixed on the confrontation at the front of the room, motionless for the first time that day. Sirius had been as much a feature in the evacuation as James, defending both friends and spectators from rogue curses. Now he merely surveyed the scene, face impassive and eyes hard. His wand hung loosely between his fingers but there was no mistaking the vigilance of his stance. I followed his gaze to where Regulus ducked for cover behind the bar, occasionally jumping up to offer Logan help. Then Sirius caught sight of somebody behind me and his expression rapidly changed.
“Ara?” She was beyond my line of vision but I had a clear view of Sirius. His face was patterned with disbelief as he took a single step forward. “What are you doing here?” He gestured to the door, voice tinged with frustration. “Why haven’t you left? Peter thought you’d gone!” He took another step toward her, expression concerned and tone accusatory. I looked to the front of the room, where Logan had almost drawn level with Malfoy. Regulus jumped up behind the bar, surprising those nearby with quick-fire curses. Sirius took another step forward – bringing him inches towards me – and I seized the opportunity to jump out from the table.
“Carville!” I ignored Mulciber’s cry as I dove toward Sirius, grabbing quickly onto his arm.
“Sirius!” He shook his arm furiously as my fingers tightly encircled his wrist. “Sirius, it’s me!” Digging my heels, I halted his progress. I refused to be dislodged as he looked determinedly towards Willis. “For Merlin’s sake…” Finally, he recognised my voice. Sirius turned heatedly and regarded me in shock.
“What are you doing?” He shrugged his arm to release my grip but I only held on more tightly. Initially Sirius had been merely annoyed but now his mouth pinched with anger. “Ara, get out of here!” One glance showed me Arabelle Willis, perfectly healthy but gawking like a dunce. Her gaze moved from Sirius to me then back to Sirius again.
“I’m fine,” she assured him. “I’ll keep safe.” Her smile was apologetic as she added in her most pacifying tone, “I just have to go find someone.” Then Willis darted away before Sirius could respond, scurrying across the room into the torch-lit corridors that led off it. I watched after her, stunned. What on earth?
“What?” Sirius growled, echoing my thoughts as he stared after her. Clearly he was as unconvinced as I about Willis’ ability to protect herself. His entire body tensed as he prepared to rush after her but honestly – that simply would not do.
“Sirius.” Under my fingers I could feel the sinewy strength of his forearm as I spoke in my most no-nonsense voice. I tugged hard at his limb forcing him to turn and meet my unyielding gaze. “She’s fine, Sirius. You saw that. Nobody’s after her; nobody’s going to hurt her. There’s not even anybody there.”
Sirius’ eyes bore into mine, pupils dilated with fury. The intensity of his expression took me aback and I wondered briefly if I had misjudged. There was zero compromise in those features and I was abruptly aware of how close we were standing. In that moment I felt absolutely dwarfed. I blinked away the feeling as Sirius began to speak – a slow drawl that rippled with anger.
“What do you want?”
In answer I let my eyes drift to the front of the room, where Regulus threw curses at the crowd surrounding Logan. Three wizards detached from the group, eyes travelling until they landed on Regulus’ battling form. He stood behind the bar but this time Regulus didn’t duck for cover. He cast up the best shield he could and readied to fight as the wizards stalked fixedly towards him. I saw something flash briefly across Sirius’ face – concern? Anger? Then his gaze moved to Logan and lingered for a long second. When he turned back to me his jaw was set with defiance.
“I won’t help a Death Eater.”
“I’m not asking you to,” I replied, not surprised he knew the truth. Our eyes locked together and I didn’t look away. The rest of the sentence hung unspoken between us.
“Let go off me,” Sirius ordered. There was no indication my words had had any impact. His gaze moved to my hand, still settled comfortably against his skin then raised back to my face. Embarrassingly, I flushed. Sirius didn’t wait for me to comply but yanked his arm determinedly from my grip. I felt a flash of dismay; would he run after Willis? I squared my shoulders and prepared to defend Regulus but as I approached, his expression brought me to a stuttering halt. I hadn’t misjudged at all.
Regulus snarled viciously as Sirius spoke cheerfully to the three advancing wizards. Though I missed what was said, the three men came to a momentary halt. Sirius offered them a gracious nod as he turned swiftly to his brother but even as he did so the wizards were again taking aim. The older Black seemed not to notice.
The winning smile on Sirius’ face was an obvious counterpoint to the terse expressions around us. He looked to his brother with an indulgent smile and ignored Regulus’ answering scowl. With a flourish of his wand and an incline of the head, Sirius Black taunted in his most charming voice:
“Don’t worry, Reggie. Big brother’s here.”
We were going to win, I could tell you that. I’d known it for a while. It was easier because for us, victory didn’t mean defeating everybody. All it meant was getting Logan out the front door and in two minutes, that’d be done. The only obstacle left was Lucius Malfoy and he hadn’t even drawn his wand. As Logan drew closer to Malfoy very few people tried to stop him. They wouldn’t risk cursing Malfoy in their haste to claim his money. So really, this was only getting easier.
It was bizarre how little thought had gone into defending Logan. I had been pissed off at him – he’d ditched me to argue about Narcissa Black – and his behaviour today had been all around shabby. Then there was the fact that at the end of our last date he hadn’t even tried to kiss me goodnight. Still, the moment Malfoy had set up the situation and tried to corner Logan, I’d had my wand out fighting by his side.
I Stupefied the latest wizard I’d been battling and disarmed him for good measure; when he finally regained awareness I didn’t want him to launch into the fray. I cast a perfunctory look about the room and sighted a female figure slipping into the corridor that lead to private quarters. I stared after her, frowning in puzzlement. The figure had been small, blonde and distinctly familiar. Then from the corner of my eye I caught sight of another familiar presence and a smile jumped to my face. Sirius was close by.
It was more than I’d hoped that he would get involved but there he was – defending Regulus and so indirectly Logan. Another glance showed me James Potter as I’d known it would – he’d never let Sirius risk himself unaided – and our victory was even more assured. Audrey Carville drew towards me and continued forth, coming to a stop at Lucius Malfoy’s side. I wasn’t necessary here, I could see that; Logan cast spells quicker than my eye could follow and he was in touching distance of the door. But an uncomfortable feeling gnawed deep in my chest and I considered the possibility that I was needed elsewhere.
I slipped away from the crowd, shooting curses as I left. On the ground, people glared at me from tightly bound ropes and it occurred to me that I was the one that had put them there. I disarmed them as I passed (just in case), adding to the collection of wands in my pocket as I made for the corridor. Until now everything had been a daze, my actions instinctive as if I fought without thought. But as I stood in the entrance looking down the corridor I felt my senses prickle awake.
The corridor was long but brightly lit, the floors made up of a thin, white carpet. Along the walls were periodic sconces, emitting a sharp, yellow glow. There were no windows to let in daylight and the walls were made up of a rough, grey plaster. Importantly, the hallway was empty and though there were many doors leading off the passageway Ara would have no reason to enter. At the very end the corridor turned off to the right and I wondered if she had simply continued walking. Maybe she had got lost or scared even – yes, I could imagine that of Ara. I took one step forward and then another, picking up pace as I hurried along.
“Oof!” I came to a sudden halt at the female voice from behind a door. There was a loud thud and a happy chuckle and I instantly raised my wand. I drew immediately to a door on my right and when I turned the handle it flew easily open. “Oh!” The woman looked up, startled as I burst in. She was leaning against the mantle of a large fireplace, soot dusting her clothes as she massaged her right foot. “Think I did my ankle in. Never was much for the Floo,” she explained, with a nod to the marble fireplace behind her. “Especially with these heels. Tell me, is the room really spinning?” With that, she let out a throaty chuckle and I offered a wary smile in response.
The room I had burst into was large and plush, with thick red carpet springy beneath my feet. There were two large sofas on either side of the fireplace, and a large bookcase lining the walls. “So,” the woman said, eyes narrowed at me. “Who are you?” She was young, mid-twenties maybe, with thick dark hair that fell below her shoulders in waves. Her shrewd eyes regarded me with suspicion the longer I remained quiet. “Well?” The clang of the door swinging shut behind prodded me into speech.
“Sorry,” I said, recovering quickly from my surprise. “I was just looking for someone.” The sounds of shouting filed in from the bar and the woman drew instantly upright.
“What’s going on there?” I shook my head; I didn’t have time for this. I turned back to the door but her voice cut me off. “Wait! Where’s my Aunt?”
“Who?” I turned back around to see the woman moving gingerly forwards. The sounds of running came from outside the door. It might have been Ara but the footsteps didn’t sound like just one person. Before I could investigate, the woman was speaking again.
“Lottie. My Aunt. She runs this place… I’m Rosmerta.”
Lottie was probably the barmaid who’d set them all on Logan to start with. If she was, she wasn’t too bright; she’d just got her Pub trashed. I suddenly felt a whole lot less charitable towards the niece. I shrugged.
“Well, what’s that?”
“What’s what?” I snapped, fed-up of the questions. I followed Rosmerta’s gaze to the long, cream sofa set to the right of the elegant fireplace. Nothing looked out of place. But then my eyes fell to the carpet and I knew exactly what she meant. Dropped on the carpet, peeking out from behind the sofa was a dainty, red shoe. “How very Cinderella,” I murmured, moving forward to pick it up.
“I think that might be Aunt Lottie’s,” came Rosmerta’s voice. “Bring it here – I’ll have a look. Don’t suppose you know any Healing Spells while we’re at it?” I came to a stop, frozen. The shoe clutched tightly in my hand and dimly, I was aware of Rosmerta still talking. “My ankle twinges and I have a shift in ten minutes. And sounds like it’s a rowdy bunch…” Her voice continued as if from afar but everything else had muted. I couldn’t hear, I couldn’t think. I couldn’t even speak. I could only look – watch and stare and gape wide-eyed and try to figure out how my eyes might be wrong.
“What is it?” Rosmerta’s voice was suddenly nearby, and I became abruptly aware of the shoe heel digging into my palm. Her Aunt, I remembered. My heart pounded in my ears. Her Aunt’s shoe. Rosmerta regarded me curiously, lips puckered in concern. “What is it, darl?”
“Rosmerta,” I began hastily, hand outstretched to prevent her progress. My voice cracked and I felt utterly useless. “I’m not sure you should come here.” She merely plucked the shoe from my hand, sparing it a glance before nodding.
“Rosmerta,” I protested but again she ignored me.
I knew the exact moment that she saw the body.
Rosmerta’s cry was an awful thing. No more than a whimper, broken and silent, still it swallowed the room in its grief. She fell to her knees, angry now as she fumbled for a pulse.
“What are you doing just standing there?” she yelled, face red and eyes blazing. “Get help!” I knew it wouldn’t help, just like I knew she’d find no pulse but there was nothing else to do. Rosmerta cradled the unmoving body. She moaned softly to ears that had long since stopped hearing. In her niece's arms, Lottie resembled nothing so much as the most precious china doll. Her cherry lipstick was too bright against her starkly white skin and her unblemished features had become serene in repose. “Get out! Why aren’t you moving?” Most of all, she remained absolutely lifeless.
“Daniel!” A voice called from the hallway. I spun around as the door was pushed open. Some Ravenclaw stood in the doorway. Wait – I recognised this girl. “Gertrude Beck?” she demanded. “What are you doing here?” Claryce Turner hadn’t yet noticed the body and I rushed forwards, for some reason wanting to spare her the sight. “Never mind. Have you seen Daniel?” I quelled the urge to punch her self-involved face as Lily Evans appeared at her side.
“Get out of here. Get some help!” I ordered, turning pleading eyes to Lily. “Anybody.” They stared blankly back at me then turned curious gazes to Rosmerta. I heard her stifled sobs as she mumbled uselessly to herself. “Out!” I demanded, not wanting her grief to become a spectacle. “Out!” I shoved them both backwards through the door.
“Wait a minute.” Lily stumbled in the corridor, gaping at me in outrage. “Who the hell do you think you’re talking to?”
Questions – I didn’t want questions. I felt my eyes become wide and suspiciously moist.
“Please.” I forced a calm I did not feel. “Get some help. Anyone.” Lily’s emerald eyes met mine and seemed to understand much more than I’d said.
“Someone’s hurt,” I murmured, looking between them both. I gulped away the knot in my throat and avoided Lily’s gaze. “Someone’s dead.” There was a sharp intake of breath and I looked up to see Turner’s face grow pale. For a moment Lily was unnaturally still. Then she gave a sombre nod.
“Okay.” Her voice took on a note of authority as she looked to the room where Rosmerta still hunched. “I’ll stay with her. Claryce – Be discreet. Don’t cause a massive panic but go and get help.” Turner backed to the main room, nodding her agreement.
“But Lily, we – ”
“For God’s sake, Clar!” Lily glared her annoyance and Turner broke off in surprise. “Nothing is as important as this right now. Go!” Turner went. When I turned back around, Lily was already hurrying to Rosmerta’s side. I stood for a moment, shell-shocked in the hallway only feet from each end. My gaze moved toward the main room and I remembered that a fight was supposed to be ongoing. I had just enough presence of mind to wonder why everything had gone silent.
“One more curse and I blast Malfoy’s head off!”
Logan gripped tightly to the back of Malfoy’s coat, holding him by the scruff of the neck so he was unable to move. Malfoy’s jaw ground together in anger but he made no move to free himself. “I warn you. Anyone so much as raises their wand, I blast his head off. So who wants to find out whether Malfoys truly are made of galleons?”
The room had fallen silent as everybody broke off from their duels. Remus Lupin looked up from his crouch on the floor, where he was tending to a man that seemed to have lost control of his limbs. Fun curse. He and Lily Evans had burst in not long ago, Claryce Turner only minutes behind them. Evans and the Ravenclaw had disappeared but Lupin – foolish, saintly Lupin – was actually making sure nobody was hurt. Logan stood with his back to the front door, Lucius Malfoy a shield in front of him. From next to them, I glared around the room but stayed close enough to hear Logan’s hissed words.
“Looks like this is over, doesn’t it Malfoy?”
“Do you see me resisting?” Malfoy snarled back. His eyes were fuming and his teeth clenched together, but it occurred to me Malfoy hadn’t struggled at all. “Just get the hell out.” Malfoy’s voice was lowered for only Logan to hear but I inched forward, determined to be the exception. “I won’t be blamed for your incompetence.” Logan gave a low laugh.
“Oh you won’t squirm out of this, Malfoy. We have a mission tonight that I am to lead. If I had been arrested?”
“Then I could have done it!” Malfoy exclaimed, forgetting to lower his voice. Logan tightened his grip on Malfoy’s neck and Malfoy fell quickly silent.
“You fool.” Somehow Logan managed to fill the whisper with acid mockery. “Is that why you did it – jealousy? Resentment? I believe you were to lead one soon, show Him your many talents.” Logan’s lip lifted in a satisfied smirk. “I’m not sure that will happen now.”
“While this all looks very romantic,” came Sirius’ bored voice, with a nod toward Logan who had been hissing in Malfoy’s ear. “There’s a bunch of people baying for your blood.” Logan’s eyes flashed up as he glared venomously towards Sirius.
“But they will not move,” he reminded everybody, “or Malfoy disappears and with him the money.”
“Well, well!” James Potter looked utterly delighted – he even rubbed his hands together in glee. “He does make that sound tempting.” Sirius gave a bark of laughter.
“ ‘Killing two Death Eaters with one curse’, as it were.” I felt my face harden at the offhand remark. There was a ripple of uneasiness and Logan abruptly released Malfoy.
“That’s defamation,” declared Lucius Malfoy, eyes narrowed at the schoolboys.
“Enough!” interjected Logan. “Malfoy – tell these people there’s no reward. There’s no money. It was just a little joke between old school friends.”
Malfoy looked around at the rumpled faces, broken tables and shattered glasses. Only he remained untouched by the mayhem and his lips pursed together in visible disgust.
“Of course there’s no money,” he scoffed, nose turned up at the entire room. He tugged carelessly at his shirt cuffs, straightening them in a deliberate gesture. “Why would I need my affairs dealt with by these…villagers? It was an amusing experiment all the same.” Then with a dry laugh and an amused shake of the head, he opened the door and slipped casually out.
The silence didn’t last very long. It was broken by one portly wizard, who pointed an accusing finger at Logan.
“You still tried to kill Lottie, though. Shouldn’t have done that.”
Logan looked as if he kept from rolling his eyes with great effort.
“How about if I promise never to do it again?” His tone was quite transparently sarcastic but many people nodded their approval. Logan spared me a disbelieving glance and I stifled my amused smile. In that moment, he was my big brother again.
Then his attention was caught by something ahead and I followed Logan’s movement to see Claryce Turner. She spoke a few words to Remus Lupin, who looked at his watch and gave a confident nod. Magical Law Enforcement would be here any minute now – maybe that was what they were discussing. Feeling threatened, were they? I held back a laugh. Next to me, Logan moved forward and I realised he hadn’t been staring at Turner at all. Framed in the corridor behind the Ravenclaw was Gertrude Beck. My eyes widened at the expression on her face, the entire situation suddenly a lot less amusing. Logan moved swiftly forward, grabbed a hold of Gertrude’s hand and made fixedly for the front door.
“Logan, no. I can’t – ” Gertrude’s tired complaints fell on deaf ears as Logan persisted in dragging her forwards. Sirius frowned after them, perhaps wondering whether to intervene as dozens of eyes watched their progress. Gertrude spluttered in protest, gesturing to the empty corridor behind but Logan ignored it all. Making relentlessly for the door, he stalked straight past me and swung it open with a hex. Logan plunged so quickly into the bright sun outside that a helpless Gertrude was forced to stumble in his wake.
A/N: So very many apologies for the delays with this chapter :( With exams, work and writer's block everything seemed to go wrong. I know it means you may have forgotten a lot, I mean - does anybody even remember Mulciber? :P
I umm'd and ahh'd about posting this, actually as I'm definitely not happy with it. But then I realised I'd never be happy with it and I'd rather go on to chapter 12 (and re-do this when I've got a bit more practice under my belt). Anyway..
Thanks for everybody that reviewed and to all that are still reading! I can't begin to tell you how encouraging that is :)
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