They didn’t go back to For Humanity the following day, choosing to spend it locked away from the world in their suite, watching television. Scorpius asked her did she want to pull the plug, go back to England, but she shook her head defiantly. She wanted desperately to return home, to put their whole experience down to a bad dream, but she knew it was not that simple. They had a job to do and she was determined, now more than ever, to see Cass brought down.
“Alright,” he said softly. “We stay, but once we find out where the camps are, we leave, Rose. Get the Ministry to plan a full assault.”
“Fine,” she nodded, turning back to whatever was showing on the television and let silence sink between them again. The day stretched on and more than once, Rose found herself watching him, wanting to hold him. She craved his touch and it frightened her – she hadn’t wanted to feel anything for him and it was becoming harder to tell herself it was only the situation, the horror of what they had seen and discovered. She had no idea what he was thinking or what he felt and she didn’t ask. There was a certain degree of bliss in remaining ignorant.
Scorpius received a text message from Joe just before dinner, asking them to come to the riad the following evening.
“Did he say why?” Rose asked, lazily picking at a salad. Her appetite had vanished as soon as Scorpius’ mobile had beeped and she pushed her plate away, wiping her hands on a napkin, before changing her mind and reaching for her fork once more. Scorpius watched her curiously.
“Are you alright?”
“I don’t know. You seem...not yourself. Are you sick?”
She shook her head. “No. What did Joe say?”
“Nothing else,” Scorpius answered, still watching her. “Rose...”
“We need to stop this,” she said quickly, stabbing at a piece of tomato. He was silent for a long time, but she knew he understood what she meant.
He sighed. “I know.”
“Right, well, that’s that, then,” she muttered.
“Is it really what you want?” His voice was soft, gentle, and she glanced at him before quickly looking away again.
“What do you want?”
“You can’t answer a question with a question.”
She looked at him, almost angry. “Well, I need to know.”
“What would knowing achieve? This can’t continue. We’re putting ourselves in danger. Do you know I almost called you ‘Rose’ yesterday, when I saw you walking towards me?”
She said nothing, pulling her lip between her teeth and he sighed again, a frustrated sound that annoyed her.
“We’re getting too comfortable with one another, too relaxed,” he continued, and she wanted suddenly to punch him, knowing everything he said was correct and knowing she agreed with him. “I don’t want you to get hurt because I might slip up.”
Still she didn’t speak and when he reached across the table to touch her cheek with the back of his hand, she batted him away, angry now for reasons she didn’t understand. Ignoring the wounded look in his eyes she pushed her chair back and stormed away from him, going to lock herself in the bathroom. Her face when she looked in the mirror was wild, her cheeks red, and her eyes fierce, her mouth set in a hard line.
He knocked on the door. “Rose, I’m sorry if I upset you but I-”
“I’m sorry too,” she said shakily, turning on the taps and splashing cold water on her face, forcing herself to take air deep into her lungs. When she opened the door, he was leaning against the wall outside the bathroom, his face indicating he wanted to talk but she walked straight past him to fall onto the bed and in moments, was asleep.
Scorpius went out the next morning. He didn’t ask her to accompany him and she didn’t mind being left alone in the suite, nor did she ask where he was going. He was away half the day, returning just before lunch, his face blank. He looked at her, sprawled over the bed still in her pyjamas and sighed.
He pulled a hand through his hair. “Don’t fight with me.” When she said nothing he sighed again, stomping across the room to grab her arm. She protested as he made her sit up, shaking him off with an angry hiss. “May I remind you that this was your
“You were the one to suggest we end this, not me. I just agreed with you because I thought it was what you wanted,” he said firmly, his eyes searching her face. “But I don’t know now – the way you’re acting at the moment...were you lying to me?”
Rose snorted, climbing to her feet and moving away from him. She felt strangely close to tears again but she swallowed them away. “Don’t flatter yourself, Malfoy.”
He laughed harshly. “Right. Thank you. That makes this much easier.” He looked at her sadly, folding his arms, his expression tense. “This, whatever it was, is over.”
“Fine,” she snarled.
The silence that dogged the room for the remainder of the afternoon was as heavy as a stone and Rose felt the weight of it hammering against her head. She wanted to apologise but whenever the words made it to the tip of her tongue, they dissolved, refusing to let themselves be voiced. By the time they were preparing to return to the riad, Rose could not stand the silence any longer. Pulling her hair into a ponytail, she cleared her throat nervously.
“Where did you go this morning?”
Scorpius glanced up from the newspaper he was reading. “Just walked around the medina, talked to a few people, played the tourist – nothing exciting really.” Unsaid was what she knew was the truth – he had to get away from her.
“Are you ready to go?”
“Do you want dinner first?”
“No. Let’s get this over with,” she said firmly, heading for the door.
At the riad, Joe was waiting for them, his face alive with excitement, blue eyes twinkling behind the beard.
“What are you so happy about?” Scorpius asked good-naturedly.
“We’ve got ourselves a wizard,” Joe informed them. Rose felt her stomach tighten as Cass joined them, no sign of her remorse over Isobelle’s death present on her face.
“Where is he?”
“I’ll show you,” Cass replied, her grin feral and predatory. She led them down into the weapons pit, through a small door behind the crates, and into a musty smelling chamber in the darkness. Cass switched on a light and Rose blinked, looking around quickly as her eyes adjusted. The floor was hard concrete, the walls dirty and streaked with grime. She immediately felt claustrophobic and found herself wanting Scorpius, wanting his comfort. He was near her and she reached for him frantically, ignoring the puzzled look he gave her. He took her outstretched hand and squeezed, and she wasn’t sure if it was for her or for Rebecca but she didn’t care.
“Through here,” Cass said, pushing open another door on the far side of the chamber that Rose had failed to notice. Gingerly, she stepped through the gap after Joe, swallowing the lump on her tongue. The air in the little room was stale and as Cass switched on yet another light, Rose gasped.
She almost didn’t recognise him. His hands were bound, his clothes torn and his face bloody, but he was her cousin, and she would know him anywhere. She felt Scorpius squeeze her hand so tightly she was certain he had broken a bone.
“What will happen to him?” she forced herself to whisper, unable to tear her eyes away from Albus’ body. He was unconscious and Rose had to bite her lip to stop from crying at the sight of him.
Cass shrugged. “He’ll go to the compound with the others.”
“Got him yesterday,” Joe said proudly, like a hunter displaying his kill. He walked forward and nudged Albus with the toe of his boot. “Found him looking for his girlfriend.”
“Isobelle,” Scorpius guessed; Cass nodded.
“He tried to convince us he was human and we nearly believed him but then, once he found out what had happened to her he went nuts and tried to use his filthy magic on us.” She laughed, and Rose turned away, unable to see or hear anymore. Cass noticed. “Not got the stomach for it, Rebecca? This is war, honey.”
Rose turned back, opening her mouth but Scorpius spoke instead. “She’s fine. She just hasn’t been feeling too well,” he said quickly. Cass looked sceptical. “We think, we hope, that she’s pregnant,” he improvised smoothly, his tone calm and pleasant, as if chatting to old friends over coffee.
“That’s wonderful,” Cass smiled warmly. “The world needs babies; real people, not scum like that over there.”
Rose could only make herself smile and nod, afraid that if she opened her mouth she would vomit. She didn’t say another word, sitting through a quick supper and then the taxi ride back to the motel in silence, feeling Scorpius watching her the whole way.
“We have to save him,” she said flatly when she and Scorpius were alone.
“Rose, how can we?”
“I don’t know – get him out before they move him to the compound,” she said, pacing the floor and wringing her hands.
“That isn’t the mission,” Scorpius said quietly and she rounded on him, flying across the room and grabbing the front of his shirt. He staggered back a step.
“Don’t talk to me about the bloody mission,” she whispered furiously. “He’s my family, Scorpius! We can’t leave him to be tortured and brutalised.”
“He knew the risks,” Scorpius argued, pushing her away.
Rose slapped him across the cheek. “Go to hell.”
He caught her as she turned away, forcing her to look at him. “You think I don’t care? That I’m as heartless as those murdering bastards back there?” She said nothing and he pulled her closer. “I care, Rose. Albus is my friend – I don’t want to leave him anymore than you do.”
“Then help me,” Rose whispered. “Scorpius, please. Help me save him.”
He stared at her for a long time, his eyes flickering across her face and eventually, he nodded. She turned away and went out onto the balcony, closing her eyes and listening to the night. She could hear Scorpius pacing, his footfall gentle but purposeful as he strode around the room. Rose felt the air pressure drop, the now familiar humidity settling in so she went inside, pulling off her shirt as she walked. He glanced at her curiously as she threw her shirt on the bed.
“I’m having a bath,” she announced, her voice tired and weak. She needed to clear her head, try and formulate some plan of action, some way of rescuing Albus, even if it meant exposing herself to danger. She had to try, no matter what.
“Come here,” Scorpius invited, but she ignored him, moving towards the bathroom. He caught her hand, pulled her back and she allowed him to fold her in his arms a moment. He sighed, letting her go, and she trailed her hand across his stomach as she went, feeling the tight muscle and firm skin that she now knew as well as her own. She could feel his eyes on her but she did not look back, and she heard him move away. Unexpected tears pricked her eyelids and she blinked.
In the bathroom doorway, she paused, understanding suddenly why she had been feeling so tired and emotional, so irritable and needy. She turned, her eyes searching for Scorpius. She found him sitting at the small table, his wand held to his temple as he siphoned off his thoughts. She swallowed the great lump that had grown in her throat, her hands fluttering to her belly unconsciously. She gasped and he turned to look at her, his brow furrowed. It was almost as if he had predicted it and it was only then that she realised that in their drunken wisdom, they had failed to use protection.
“I’m fine,” she whispered hurriedly, going into the bathroom and closing the door. She needed no doctor or healer to confirm what she knew was the truth.
She was pregnant.
She barely slept that night and she didn’t speak more than two words to Scorpius, rolling onto her side in bed and curling herself into a ball, her hand holding her lower belly, her brain screaming. Scorpius was restless throughout the night, tossing and turning, getting up several times to pace around the suite while Rose pretended to sleep. She wondered what he was thinking but didn’t ask.
“I want you to teach me how to fight,” she announced over a scant breakfast the following morning. She felt dreadful; worried for Albus, worried for herself and Scorpius and, above all that, worried about how she was going to tell her boss
she was pregnant with his baby. The rational part of her brain told her not to worry, that it was simply stress, but the other part was screaming at her get to a pharmacy and buy a test. She didn’t know how she’d be able to do such a thing without Scorpius wondering where she was and she started immediately thinking up excuses to go out into the city alone.
He glanced at her curiously. “Why?”
“What do you mean why?” she sighed, pushing her plate away. “I can’t rely on my gun, Scorpuis, and you know I’d rather not have to shoot people. I don’t particularly want to reveal myself as a witch either, not in the company we’ve been keeping lately.”
“You think something is going to happen?”
“I don’t know,” she answered in a low voice. “I’ll admit that I’m afraid; terrified actually.” She paused, swallowing. “So will you teach me?”
He looked at her thoughtfully, shaking his head slightly. “You’re so skinny, Rose – you have no muscles at all. I don’t want to hurt you.”
“As if you could,” she muttered childishly, making him laugh. “I’ll be able to take you, Malfoy, by the end of this; you wait.”
He laughed again. “Alright then, as you wish.” His smile was gentle and Rose swallowed the lump in her throat. They had agreed that being lovers was not a good idea, not when they needed to keep their wits about them and stay focused. It was precisely the reason that Rose was not prepared to tell him about the baby. The last thing she needed was Scorpius getting himself killed trying to protect her.
Rose stood up and stretched and before she had a chance to do anything else Scorpius had leapt up from the table, spun her around and pushed her face-first onto the floor. She struggled automatically, lashing out at him, before she stopped, realising what was going on.
“Very funny,” she said to the lush cream rug.
He let her up, eyebrows raised. “Still want to do this?”
In answer, she grabbed his wrist, twisted his arm out and away from his body, forcing his torso around and his arm up, palm between his shoulder blades. She tugged on his hand, hearing him grunt, and let him go, standing back and waiting until he’d turned around. “I’m a little rusty,” Rose said with a shrug.
“Who taught you that?”
He gave her a cautious look as he approached. “Anything else up your sleeve?”
“No; only the standard groin kick,” Rose replied, unable to resist grinning. “But I promise not to do that to you, however much I might want to,” she added with a bitterness he could not understand.
“Hmm I feel much safer,” Scorpius said with mild sarcasm, pulling his shirt over his head so he was naked from the waist up. Rose knew it was so she couldn’t grab his clothing and use it to assist her – James had done the same thing – but she still wished he’d stay dressed. “Alright, I want to show you something.”
For the next hour he taught her how to pull away from an attacker, how to use her fingers, hands, elbows and knees to assist an escape, and how to use her assailant’s weight against them. They worked at it until her muscles screamed and her head hurt. She was certain she’d have bruises but she didn’t care, holding her ground as Scorpius wrapped his arms around her from behind, pulling her tightly into his body. She gasped sharply, swallowing when she realised one of his hands lay beneath her belly button, cradling her womb.
“Am I hurting you?”
“No,” Rose ground out. He wasn’t physically hurting her, not in the way he thought. She couldn’t stand being so close to him, couldn’t think straight with his body pressed against hers. She bit her lip.
“Can you get away from me?” he asked softly; his arms tightened around her and she struggled, trying desperately to break free of his grip, but he held her too firmly.
“So what else could you do if someone had you pinned like this?”
Rose held her breath, feeling faint. She could hear her heart pounding furiously in her ears, a result of physical exertion and the twisted spiral of her emotions. He repeated his question and she shook her head violently, struggling again. She needed to get away from him, needed space and when he wouldn’t let her go, she brought the heel of her foot down on his toes. He yelped and released her, and she stepped away hurriedly.
“Very good,” Scorpius commended. “That hurt.”
“Sorry,” Rose mumbled, folding her arms. She felt strangely vulnerable, exposed and it was making her edgy. She watched from the corner of her eye as he sat down and rubbed at his foot, before he stood and came towards her again. She backed away, and confusion coated his face.
“What is it?”
“I can’t do this anymore,” she whispered.
“I thought you wanted to learn,” he said. “Rose, what’s going on?”
She said nothing, just looked at him, feeling part of herself break in half. His face softened, a spasm of emotion crossing his features, showing he understood just what she was feeling. He stepped closer, hesitantly, and closer still until he was standing right in front of her. She couldn’t breathe.
The silence between them lengthened, deepened and flew into every corner of the room.
“This is hard,” he admitted eventually, his voice low and husky. She nodded, unable to speak. “I just want to kiss you, but I know I shouldn’t.”
“Then walk away,” she whispered, her throat tight.
“I don’t know if I can.”
“Scorpius, please,” she begged. “We agreed...”
He took a breath so deep she saw his ribs shake and before she could look away or say anything more, he slipped one hand behind her head, the other beneath her chin and brought her mouth up to his. She went into his arms willingly, melting against him, the heat of the day slick between them. He kissed her gently, sweetly and with intent, and she wanted to give in to it, to let her desire take hold. Scorpius broke the kiss, resting his forehead against hers, both of them breathing deeply.
“We can’t do this,” she affirmed painfully.
Very slowly, he pulled away, letting his arms fall by his sides. “If we just -”
“No, we can’t,” she said firmly. “We can’t let whatever we feel for each other get in the way.”
He sighed. “What do you feel for me, Rose?”
“I don’t know,” she answered honestly.
“Then I don’t know what you want me to do,” he began, almost angrily. “One moment, you’re acting like...”
“What? Acting like what?”
“Like you give a shit about me, for real,” he shouted suddenly, startling her.
She blinked and took a deep breath. “I do, Scorpius, but what do you want me to say? That I’m in love with you?”
“Are you?” he asked slowly, almost cautiously.
“No, I’m not. Are you...”
He shook his head.
“So what do you want from me?” Rose said hotly.
Scorpius pulled his fingers roughly through his hair, turning and beginning pace around the room. “I want...I need you to...shit, Rose. I just want to get through this and go home and then, we can talk about it, okay?”
“Okay,” she whispered. He didn’t say anymore so she went and lay down on the bed, staring up at the ceiling. She could hear him moving around the suite, and she could not help but wonder how different that conversation would have been if she’d told him she thought she was pregnant. She didn’t know what sort of father he’d be, and she had no idea what sort of mother she’d be, or even if it was right to bring a child into the world in the present climate of fear and hate. She dreaded having to tell her parents: she could see the look on her mother’s face now, hear her words – “Oh Rose, how could you be so irresponsible?”
Rose sighed, rolling over onto her front. She was being dramatic, she knew that too. They may even be pleased, if Rose could show them she was happy with the prospect of being a single mother. She had no idea how to break the news to Scorpius; he’d want to do the right thing and support her, be involved with the baby, even though he wasn’t in love with her. He was that sort of man, and she supposed she should be grateful that he wasn’t going to jump on his broom and fly away into the night, never to be heard from again.
If Al’s rescue mission went awry, she wouldn’t have to worry about finding the courage to tell Scorpius anything about the baby.
They would all be dead.
For the next two days, as hard as it was, they went about life as usual; Rose worked for Cass, updating files, copying hand-drawn maps, emailing geographic co-ordinates, keeping an eye on the world media and doing odd jobs around the city. Cass sent her on an errand, to drop a message at a cafe, and Rose took the opportunity to visit a pharmacy. Sitting in the public loo with her head in her hands, she waited, the test strip resting on her knees.
She wanted to cry when those two thin blue lines appeared; she wanted her mother, more than ever before, but had to consol herself with dropping the stick on the floor and stomping on it until it was nothing but a pile of shards.
Scorpius was out with Joe, picking up supplies, and by the time she returned to the riad, he was still not back. Rose found Sophie in the cache; the girl was methodically stripping down and cleaning weapons, her hands moving expertly over the parts. She looked up as Rose came down the stairs, her pretty face lighting up.
“You don’t know how good it’s been to have a woman around here,” she said when Rose was sitting beside her, helping with the work. “Cass is alright; closest thing I have to a mother at the moment, and Jillian...but it’s not the same as having someone I can talk to. Isobelle was...”
Rose gave her a sad smile. “I can’t imagine what it’s been like for you.”
Sophie frowned. “Don’t judge my father, Rebecca. I chose this life. I could have stayed in England with family, but I wanted to be with him. It’s just been the two of us for so long, I didn’t like the idea of him being here by himself.”
“What happened to your mother?”
“Car accident; I was six. Dad never got over it – until now. This...job has given him something again.”
Rose had to bite her lip from telling the girl just how messed up that sounded. Instead, she asked Sophie how she felt about death, and she glanced across at Rose in surprise.
“You’ve been listening to Areli bang on, haven’t you?” she asked, and Rose told her what the Israeli had said to her weeks ago. “He has a way of making you think too much – ignore him, Rebecca. He likes to mess with people’s heads. But me...I don’t like it. I don’t like the killing, and I don’t think it is the answer. Cass is so gung-ho, like something out of a movie, but I think she is wrong. What happened to Isobelle was wrong, and Jill should not have had to die like that.”
Rose swallowed, forcing herseld to ask after Albus. “Sophie, the wizard we have here...what will happen to him?”
The girl shrugged. “Areli questioned him last night, and the night before...I heard him moaning about how the guy, the wizard, is tough. It seems our Grand Inquistioner has not been able to extract a suitable confession from the prisoner. They want to ship him off to god-knows-where tomorrow morning and then, I don’t know exactly.”
him?” Rose asked in a horrified whisper.
“One of his many talents; it’s the real reason why he is here,” Sophie answered sadly. “He makes me sick.”
Rose wanted to ask her more but they heard Areli’s melodic voice calling out that they were back. Scorpius’ laugh floated down to where she was sitting and Rose felt her face twist. Sophie noticed.
“Is everything okay?”
“I’m just tired.” Rose handed the girl the gun she had been cleaning and made her way back into the blaring sunlight. Scorpius caught her in their customary embrace and she buried her face in his neck, her head filled with the combined scent of him, sweat and the desert. His hand absently stroked her back. She could not look at Areli. She hated to think of what he had done to Albus and she was grateful when Scorpius steered her away from the riad.
They agreed to rescue Albus in the middle of the night, when the guard at the front changed shifts. Cass, Joe and everyone would be sleeping, so it would be easy to get down to Albus’ cell. Getting him out through the front door was something they weren’t sure would be possible.
“He’ll have to apparate out,” Scorpius said, sitting down, his expression weary. On the table in front of him was a half-eaten sandwich, a cup of coffee, his wand and his gun. Rose sat opposite him, her stomach in knots.
“We have spare wands,” she reminded him and he nodded. “I’m giving him the copy of the database, as well as this,” she said, reaching into the wooden box they stored their memories in, and withdrawing a vial with her name on it. “It’s my memories of everything I have seen on the computer, and everything I have heard Maria and Cass say about the camps.”
Scorpius nodded again. “Good.” He paused, giving her a serious look. “Rose, what if he isn’t in any condition to apparate? What if he...”
She shook her head firmly. “He will be. He’d rather risk splinching himself than staying in Cass’s hell hole.”
Scorpius said nothing more and they sat and waited for the clock, Rose ignoring all his suggestions to sleep. At eleven, they began to prepare; they loaded their weapons, stashed wands on their bodies, and then siphoned off their most recent memories of Albus and where he was being held, in case something went wrong. As Rose slipped the USB stick containing the database and the vial of her memories into her pocket, Scorpius cast a patronus and rose watched as the silvery wolf streaked from the room.
“A message for the Ministry,” Scorpius explained.
Rose nodded. She felt sick – fear and adrenalin warred inside her as she realised she had never done anything like this before. She closed her eyes, recalling Albus as she had last seen him – beaten and bloody, and she swallowed, knowing she had made the right choice.
At half past eleven, Scorpius held out his hand and she took it and fifteen minutes later they climbed into a taxi. Rose twisted her neck, staring back at their motel, wondering if they would be returning. They arrived at the riad as the guard was changing; the man taking his position out the front merely nodded to them, still in a sleepy state, having just been woken. They followed the other man inside, waiting until he turned into a room, shutting the door behind him.
Heart in her throat, Rose followed Scorpius down into the weapons pit. At the bottom of the stairs, he paused and she almost ran into his back in the darkness.
“Rose,” he whispered, “The cameras.”
She glanced up at the security camera, knowing they had limited time. The cameras were checked every five minutes. “I don’t care.” She pushed past Scorpius and made her way through the dark to the little door behind the crates. It was unlocked, and it let out a low whine as she eased it open. She could hear Scorpius’ feet on the floor behind her, could hear his breathing and could hear her own thunderous heartbeat. She stopped in front of Albus’ cell, praying he was still in there and Sophie hadn’t got it wrong. Scorpius put his hand on her arm as she withdrew the spare wand.
“This will change everything,” he said in a low voice, and she nodded, quickly unlocking the door. Albus looked up, his face draining of what little colour it possessed when he saw them and realised their intent.
“Don’t be stupid,” he begged as they moved into the room. “Please.”
Rose ignored him, unlocking the chains that bound him to the wall, watching with satisfaction as they fell away. She kept her back to the camera, trying to hide her use of magic, preferring Cass to think them sympathisers, knowing she and Scorpius would both probably die for this. She swallowed her fear – she would gladly exchange her life for Albus’. Her only consolation lay in the manner of her approaching death – as a sympathiser, it would be quick, like Isobelle’s was. She had a moment of quick regret, wishing she hadn’t convinced Scorpius to help her free her cousin and wishing she wasn’t pregnant – maybe Cass would spare her until her baby was born. Rose shuddered, a grim thought crossing her mind: it would probably be better if her child died with her now that she knew the fate that awaited magical children and she had a fleeting moment where she understood what Cass had done to her baby son.
“Get out of here, while you can,” Al hissed, his voice scratchy. He coughed, and grimaced with pain. Rose helped him to stand, passing him the wand, the USB stick with the copied database and the vial containing her memories, which he immediately tried to push back into her hands.
“Take them,” she begged. “Please, Al, there isn’t much time. Get back to London and tell the Ministry everything.”
He shook his head. “And leave you two here to die?”
“We’ll manage,” Rose whispered, dread coiling deep in her stomach. “Just go.”
Heavy footsteps sounded in the distance and Scorpius turned to Al, his expression fierce. “Get out of here.”
“I can’t leave you.”
“You’re in no condition to fight. Do it, Potter,” Scorpius ordered and Rose heard the snap of the air as Albus vanished, whispering to her that he would be back with help. The door was flung open and Cass, Joe and two armed men, one of them the quiet Kimoni, rushed into the room. Rose spun around, her gun jumping from her belt to her hands. Scorpius, she noticed, had done the same. Cass and Joe stood back and the guards came towards them eagerly: hyena’s on a carcass. Their eyes shone with eager fire, their fingers on their triggers. They were smiling and it made Rose feel sick. Kimoni let his gun fall an inch, his eyes sweeping her up and down. Clearly, he didn’t consider her any sort of threat.
Rose swallowed as the big African man came closer. Still hesitant to kill, even in the face of her own death, she moved swiftly, using her gun as a hammer, knocking him off balance. Everything she had learnt in the last few days flooded her mind and she was cool, calmed, her movements fluid as she struck with hands and feet. She was unable to prevent feeling proud when he staggered to his knees but she knew she had had the advantage of surprise. He would have swatted her like a fly if he’d thought he needed to. The other man was already on the floor, out cold and Scorpius moved quickly, finishing what Rose had started.
An eerie, bloated silence filled the room. Cass held her weapon steady and nobody moved for a long minute. “It seems I was wrong, Rebecca,” she said softly, menacingly. “You do know how to handle yourself.”
Rose said nothing, just gripped her gun tighter, every sense in her body screaming and hyper alert.
Cass sighed. “So we took in a couple more sympathisers. I guess I’m to blame, too eager to move forward with everything.”
Still Rose and Scorpius remained silent, poised and prepared.
“Drop your weapons,” Joe intoned, his voice low and filled with disbelief. “Now,” he shouted when nobody moved. The click of the safety being released echoed around the small room, whispering like a living being, taunting them and Joe took a step closer. “Don’t make me kill you.”
“Alright,” Scorpius said, slowly lowering his arm. “Alright.” He bent and put his gun on the floor and Rose followed his action, not taking her eyes from Cass.
“Kick them over,” Joe ordered and they did so, Rose watching with a growing feeling of complete helplessness as her gun slid across the floor. Joe nudged them to the side with his foot but did not move to pick them up. “Was this your intent from the start?”
“Not exactly,” Rose said emotionlessly.
“Who have you been passing information too?” Cass demanded. When no one answered immediately her face hardened. “Who?”
“No one,” Scorpius said, the lie so smooth on his lips. “No one, Cass.”
She laughed bitterly. “You have got to be kidding. Do you think I believe that, Scott
?” She put heavy emphasis on his name and Rose knew that their identity was now as in question as their morals. “Get over there, in the corner, both of you,” she snapped, watching as, without hesitation, they did as she ordered.
Cass stepped back, her eyes never leaving Rose’s face and she could not help but feel slightly guilty. Cass liked her, had trusted her and now, she had betrayed them. Rose shook her head a little, dispelling her remorse. If she knew who they were, Cass would not hesitate to kill them and she forced herself to remember that. Cass and Joe began a furious, whispered conversation, both keeping their eyes on their newest prisoners.
“My wand,” Scorpius mouthed, bending his head towards Rose.
She shuffled closer to him, sneaking a look at Cass and Joe, who were still arguing softly across the room. Slowly, Rose put her arms around Scorpius, burying her face in his chest. It was not hard to force her shoulders to shake and a sob to rise from her throat. She was terrified, could literally smell her own death, and feel it creeping up behind her and she tried to keep one eye on Cass. Scorpius returned her embrace, lowering his face towards her so no one would see his lips moving.
“Shield charm,” he whispered. “I have no idea if it stops bullets but we need to create confusion long enough to disapparate. There isn’t enough time to Stun them all.”
Rose reached her hand under his shirt, thankful he was against the wall, hoping he wouldn’t flinch as she pulled the tape away from his skin. Slowly, she removed each piece, until the wand was free and in her hand. She gripped it tight.
“Right,” Cass said loudly, marching over. Rose spun around, keeping the wand out of sight, noticing that Kimoni had regained consciousness. “We’re keeping you here until we can work out what to do with you.”
Scorpius smiled. “See, I don’t think that is going to happen.”
Rose pulled the wand out; she had a moment to witness the shock on Cass’s face before her shield charm sprung up between them, knocking Cass, Joe and the African off balance. Scorpius grabbed her tight and spun them around. She felt the world tighten and start to dissolve into nothing and before they vanished into the darkness, she saw Cass raise her weapon and heard again the terrible sound of a bullet being released from a chamber.
I sincerely apologise for the evil cliff hanger of doom...
28.1 edited for typos