"James Potter and Deimos Greyback escaped minutes ago. I can do nothing; I'm assigned to Azkaban and Azkaban alone. Get your men on it, Travers. Those two are highly dangerous. Greyback's a lunatic and Potter, well, Potter could take the resistance and make them into a credible threat. We need them taken out now. Get them back here in Azkaban now."
NOTE TO CAESAR TRAVERS, HEAD OF THE DEPARTMENT OF MAGICAL LAW ENFORCEMENT, FROM AUGUSTUS ROOKWOOD
It wasn't usually like him, but he was expecting the worst. They were falling nearly forty stories toward jagged rocks and cold, restless water. Jets of light that varied in color, though the vast majority were green, flew past as they drew closer to the water below. James was confident that this was the end. He had trusted Deimos Greyback and already it proved to be a mistake. Then it happened.
They apparated, and James swore as the water and jagged rocks were replaced by a rooftop. He swore again as the two of them smashed right through it and slammed into the wooden floor below. They heard a scream, a string of profanities that included some words James had never heard before, and then they heard movement.
He recovered first, thankfully, as he doubted that Deimos was a people person.
An elderly woman opened the door into the room, followed by a young man who had his wand out and looked ready to use it at the slightest indication of a threat. James had his hands up in surrender, not ready to have spells flying his way yet again.
"Who are you and what do you think you're doing?" the young man hissed, looking at their robes with disdain. "Just because you're Death Eaters doesn't mean you can do whatever you damn well please!"
The elderly woman glared at him. "Marius! Show some respect." She then turned her glare on to James and Deimos, the latter of which was still lying on the floor. "Now what the bloody hell do you think you're doing, crashing through my roof like that?"
So much for respect, James thought. "We aren't Death Eaters, mam," he replied, first trying to clear up the misunderstanding. They were still wearing Runcorn and Lynch's robes.
"Like hell you aren't." She paused, examining James' face more closely. "Give me your name, boy."
"James Potter," he said immediately.
The younger man scoffed. "And I'm Albus Dumbledore."
"I wasn't aware Dumbledore had such a big mouth," the older woman mumbled, nodding at James as she watched him frown at Marius. "And who's your friend?"
James wasn't sure if honesty was the best policy here, but he went with his instincts and told her the truth. "Greyback."
"Deimos Greyback," interjected the werewolf, rising from the floor. "And I'm no Death Eater either."
As Deimos rose Marius hurriedly hid behind the woman, who chuckled at his cowardice. "I know you, Potter, and I knew your father, too. You don't recognize me, I suppose. You haven't actually visited me since your third year at school."
James finally looked around the room they were in. Robes were scattered around, covering tables, chairs and the floor itself. Other materials were scattered around as well, but once he saw the robes he already had a pretty good idea of who this was and where they were. He turned away from the woman and looked through the only window in the room. Outside he saw Diagon Alley.
"Miss Malkin, could I-"
"Yes, get out of here. Go see if those robes fit you," said Madam Malkin, ushering Marius out of the room. She turned back to James and Deimos as soon as she was sure that Marius was out of earshot. "How did you escape from Azkaban?"
James glanced at her, surprised by the question. "How did you know we were in Azkaban?"
She smiled. "I didn't. You just told me."
Deimos rolled his eyes, though he said nothing. James shrugged. "We outsmarted the Death Eaters, took some of their robes and then blasted a hole in the wall and jumped out of the prison, fell a good thirty stories and then apparated into your lovely store." He paused. "It wasn't that difficult, really."
Deimos smirked. "Yeah, it was simple. I wouldn't mind doing it again."
Madam Malkin frowned at them. "If you're being serious, I-"
"We're not being serious. At least, I'm not. I can't speak for Greyback."
Greyback considered it for a moment before he replied, "I think I was serious."
Malkin ignored him and focused on James. "You can't hide here."
He nodded. "We need somewhere to hide until we can make a plan."
The shopkeeper ignored him once again, instead thinking of a place for the two to hide. "You could hide anywhere in England, really. The Death Eaters are in control of the country, but they mostly stick to the big, crowded areas. Cities, essentially. Or you could join with the resistance."
Resistance? What resistance? James voiced both these questions.
"They're fairly well known, but they haven't really done much at all. The Death Eaters laugh whenever they're mentioned. I, personally, know nothing about them aside from what the Death Eaters are willing to tell us."
"And what's that?"
"They're a bunch of idiots masquerading as heroes."
"Where can we find them?" James asked. Deimos stood silently, listening intently. He expressed no desire to join in on the conversation.
Malkin pointed left. "They've usually got some bloke in the Leaky Cauldron. Recruiter. The Death Eaters don't even bother with him; that's how little a threat they consider the resistance to be. They'll just harass him a bit and then get drunk."
"Do you know his name?"
She thought about it for a moment and then nodded. "Kenneth, I think. Kenneth Abercrombie."
"Bloody hell... why hello, my good sirs! What can I do for you today? Considering joining the resistance?"
"We're Death Eaters, you bloody moron. Ain't that right, Derrick?"
"Damn straight, Wilkes!"
"I can see the two of you are incredibly drunk, so I won't bother offering you a drink."
"No, no, please do! You can never have too much... er... bloody hell, lost my train of thought. What was I thinking?"
"Tha's it! Exactly! What a smart kid! You sure you ain't a Death Eater, with a mind like that?"
"I'm positive. Let's get you those drinks, eh?"
James recognized the name immediately. Kenneth Abercrombie. Aidan's younger brother by one year. He had last seen Kenneth in the Great Hall, among the crowd with Albus and Rose, moments before Aidan had been... killed. The memory was not a pleasant one, and his thoughts lingered on it for only a moment before he brought them back to Kenneth. He had known the younger boy quite well. He had been in Gryffindor with James and Aidan, and James had talked with the boy quite a bit. He had been braver than Aidan; whenever his brother hadn't been willing to do something stupid, James could always count on Kenneth to do it. In a way, he had been the opposite of Aidan. Aidan had been cautious, levelheaded and patient. Kenneth was reckless, impatient and temperamental.
The name brought back memories, many of them good, a few of them more recent, and all of them painful. Aidan was gone. Even after nine months, he still hadn't gotten over it. His best friend was gone.
Deimos spoke as James lost himself in his memories. "This guy will lead us to these resistance people?"
"Yes, to those 'resistance people'," said Malkin, her tone mocking. "Just go to the Leaky Cauldron and ask around. Everyone knows who he is. You'll find him."
Deimos nodded and, grabbing James by the arm, dragged him down the stairs. They were followed closely by Madam Malkin, who was surprisingly agile for her age, taking the steps two at a time.
Marius waited in the room at the bottom of the stairs wearing his new robes. They were too big. Malkin took him by the arm and dragged him over to a rack of robes, where she hurriedly searched for a different set, ignoring the other two all the while.
Once they had stepped outside and shut the door behind them, Deimos spoke immediately. "I'm not going."
This snapped James out of his thoughts. "What? Why?"
"These are the good guys, Potter."
"Exactly," James said slowly, as if trying to explain it to a young child. "So that's why we're going to them. Because they won't kill us on sight."
"They won't kill you on sight. They'll murder me the first chance they get." He paused. When he was sure that James wasn't entirely convinced of this, he added, "I'm a Greyback, Potter. I don't have the advantage of your last name."
James ignored Deimos' arguments, certain that whoever was in charge of this resistance would either accept Greyback or, at the very least, not kill him right away.
It was not a long walk from Madam Malkin's to The Leaky Cauldron, but along the way James could tell the difference nine months had made in Diagon Alley. Many shops were closed, and those that were not looked rundown and a complete mess. The windows that were not boarded up were broken; James could see inside several shops and could tell that there was not much sitting on their shelves. All of the shopkeepers that saw him and Deimos glared at him; some made rude gestures while others swore under their breath and closed their doors.
He frowned at the Death Eater robes that he wore. "We should have gotten new robes from Madam Malkin."
Greyback shrugged. "I like them. They're comfortable."
"That idiot Lynch probably didn't wash them."
James smirked, though he said nothing else. They neared their destination, and perhaps seven minutes after they left Madam Malkin's Robes for all Occasions, they were standing in The Leaky Cauldron.
Unlike the rest of Diagon Alley, the pub hadn't changed much. The only differences he could see from the last time he had visited were that Hannah Abbott was no longer present, instead replaced by a tall, bearded man who looked quite unpleasant, and there were numerous posters on the walls; propaganda for Voldemort. It was not as crowded as usual, though it was still just as loud. The loudest people in the pub, however, were three men sitting at a table on the opposite end of the room. James recognized one of them immediately. Kenneth.
He moved to approach the three, though Greyback held him back and indicated that they should wait a moment. James could see from their robes that the other two were Death Eaters. Kenneth looked uneasy, while the other two were clearly drunk and having an excellent time.
"But tell me this," said one, pointing his finger at Kenneth as he spoke, "do you really think your little resistant... resist... resistance, tha's it, do you think your resistance really stands a chance against us Death Eaters?"
Kenneth, James could see, had a difficult time not laughing. "I think we stand an excellent chance."
"Hear that, Wilkes?" the Death Eater cried, looking as though he were about to fall off of his chair, "he thinks he stands a chance against us!"
"Ha! I'll show 'im. Lemme find my wand and..." Wilkes searched for his wand for a moment and, when he could not find it, frowned. "Derrick! Where'd I put my wand?"
Derrick frowned as well, and then turned his attention to Kenneth. "Where'd you put his wand, you git?"
James decided this was the time to intervene. He walked over, Deimos following a short distance behind, and was quickly noticed by both Kenneth and Derrick. Wilkes was still searching for his wand.
If he had not been completely drunk, Derrick may have recognized that these were not Death Eaters, but James Potter and Deimos Greyback. However, he was completely drunk and therefore did not. Kenneth recognized James immediately and forced himself to hide his smile.
"Excuse me, uh, Derrick, is it? And you, Wilkes? We-"
"Who the bloody hell are you?" Derrick cried, nearly falling out of his chair as he did so. "Where did you two come from?"
James did not reply quickly enough, and so Deimos spoke first. "Azkaban."
James winced; that had not been the answer he would have given. Derrick, however, thought this over for a moment and said, "You two were guards there, then? Reassigned or somethin'?"
James nodded, going with the lie. Derrick shrugged. "C'mon, Wilkes, these two are taking over for us." He paused. "Right?"
It was not so much a question as it was a demand. James nodded again. "That's what we're here for."
The two Death Eaters stumbled out of their seats and proceeded to leave the pub. When they had exited, Kenneth burst out laughing. "That was excellent, James. You and your friend were very convincing. Well, not really. But they were drunk enough to believe anything."
James laughed as well, but it wasn't as believable as the younger boy's. It was as though he had merely laughed because Kenneth had. He stared at the former Gryffindor for a moment. Everything about him reminded him of Aidan.
"Kenneth, what do you know about the resistance?"
Kenneth's expression turned more serious at the question; for a sixteen year old, it almost looked too serious. As if he had been through far too much for his age. "I can't talk about it here, James. Let's get going and I'll tell you on the way."
James nodded. He trusted Kenneth like he had trusted Aidan. They left the Leaky Cauldron, but not back into Diagon Alley. Instead they stepped out into Muggle London, and Kenneth informed them that they would be apparating.
"I can't apparate," James said quickly, looking slightly worried. He wasn't all that eager to do side-along apparition with Deimos again.
As if he had read James' mind, Kenneth told him what he didn't want to hear. "Then you'll have to apparate alongside your friend here." He told Deimos where they'd be apparating to, and the werewolf nodded.
Before they apparated, James asked, "How can you apparate, Ken?"
Kenneth shrugged. "When you're on the run from the most powerful Dark Wizard of all time, you need to be able to do things like that."
Then they apparated.
They appeared in front of what appeared to be an old, abandoned subway station. Kenneth lead the way, walking quickly and confidently, obviously aware of where he was going. James and Deimos followed close behind. They stopped at an ordinary looking door; Kenneth tapped his wand against it twice, and a voice called out from the other side.
"Name and password!"
"Kenneth Abercrombie," said Kenneth, frowning at the door. "And there is no bloody password. Open the damn door, Finnigan."
The door opened and Kenneth walked right through. James followed and spotted a young, sandy haired boy who looked just a bit older than himself.
"That's Cillian Finnigan, James," explained Kenneth. "He keeps watch at the door, because he's bloody useless anywhere else we put him."
Cillian glared at the young boy though said nothing, instead just waving them off. They walked down a long hallway, and Kenneth glanced over his shoulder. "You wanted to know a bit about the resistance, well, why hear it from me when you can hear it from somebody in charge, eh? I'll get you to the number one guy around here."
James nodded and then asked, "How do you keep Death Eaters out of here?"
"As far as we know, they don't have any clue we're here. But if they did find us, the door back there would lead them to an empty room instead of this long hallway. It's charmed or something, I dunno. Anyway, here we are. Main headquarters."
He opened another door and they emerged into a large room with a fairly low ceiling. It was sparsely furnished, and there were not a great deal of people in the room. Two, however, noticed him immediately.
"James! Hell, I didn't think we'd ever see you again!" cried Lysander Scamander, running up to his friend and giving him a tight hug.
Madeleine Creevey stood behind him, obviously not about to greet James in the same fashion, though she smiled faintly and said, "Good to see you, James."
The two had been present at Hogwarts nine months ago, when the Death Eaters had somehow managed to bring back Voldemort. James had assumed that the two had been captured or killed. He had assumed that of everyone.
"It's great to see the two of you as well," he said, smiling at the both of them. "How is everybody else doing?"
Lysander replied first. "Lorcan is here; mum and dad are out in Scotland doing something for the resistance."
Madeleine spoke next. James noticed that Kenneth had disappeared. "I assume you're worried about your family more than your friends from school."
James nodded. It was all he could do to keep himself from demanding any news about his family.
"We don't know where Albus is, or what's become of him. Lily and your mother are in France right now, in hiding. They're alright."
He breathed a sigh of relief. It was then that Kenneth reappeared in the room. "James! There's somebody you need to meet!"
He glanced over his shoulder. "Who's that?"
"The leader of the London branch of the resistance."
He watched as a tall, pale young man entered the room. He recognized him immediately. The pale blonde hair gave him away. The leader of the London branch of the resistance looked at James and smirked.
Scorpius Malfoy, smirk remaining on his face, spoke. "Nice to see you again, Potter. Here to help us save the world?"