Chapter 9 : CHAPTER NINE
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They landed on the floor of their motel room in a heap. Scorpius gasped, releasing her, leaning forward and bracing his weight on his hands and knees as he coughed. “Shit, shit, shit,” Rose muttered, sitting back and pulling at her hair. “What do we do now?”
“Rose,” Scorpius murmured. “I don’t feel so hot.”
She clambered over to him as he sat back on the floor, immediately noticing the wound on his shoulder. “Oh god you’ve been shot!”
He groaned weakly.
“Stay still,” she ordered. “I need to look at you.”
Scorpius did as he was told, wincing as Rose pressed her fingers gently around the injury. She tore his shirt away and he hissed in a painful breath as she jerked the material against his skin. “Careful,” he whispered.
“The bullet is still in there,” she said quietly. The air was filled with the scent of fear and she shivered, unsure of what to do next. All her first aid training, muggle and magical, had flown out the window in the face of her growing panic. “We should find a hospital.”
“No; can’t you accio it out?” Scorpius asked, his voice tight and strained and she shook her head.
“It’ll tear you apart.”
“Just do something, Weasley, before I bleed to death.”
She bit her lip. “I’m going to have to do this the hard way. Once I have it out, I can fix you up with magic.”
He nodded and grit his teeth. Rose helped him sit up so she could work out which side was the best to remove the bullet; she choose the entry site, on the back of his shoulder and fetched the first aid kit from the bathroom. She took a deep breath to calm herself and forced her hands to stop trembling, to focus on her task, noticing with relief that the bullet had missed his bones. She realised with a jolt that if he had not have been standing in front of her in that horrid, dank room, that bullet would have landed between her eyes. He saved her life, without even intending to and she bit her lip, wanting to cry.
She cleaned him up and dressed the wound, helping him lie on the bed, amazed that, through the whole operation, he’d barely made a sound or moved.
“Thank you,” he whispered. His forehead when she pressed her palm to it was hot and sticky with sweat, and he was beginning to tremble.
“Sssh, you need to rest. You’re in shock; I’ll get you a potion,” she whispered back. He nodded and closed his eyes. “You saved my life,” she blurted.
He smiled knowingly. “I did?”
“Go to sleep.”
“Am I your hero?”
“Yes,” she laughed softly. She fetched a Blood-Replenishing Potion from their prepared kit, and when he refused to try and sleep, she made him swallow a Sleeping Draught, watching as his eyes slid closed instantly. She tucked a blanket around him, checked his temperature and sat on the end of the bed, listening to him snore lightly.
Rose stayed awake the remainder of the night, continually checking that the door was locked, that the windows were closed. She cast protective charms over the room. She retrieved their spare handguns from the secret compartment in their suitcase, and sat until sunrise methodically stripping down and cleaning both weapons, loading and reloading them, running over every aspect of each gun until she was satisfied they were the perfect killing machines they were meant to be.
Scorpius woke not long after dawn, groaning. His forehead was hot and Rose made him swallow some more painkillers, take another vial of Blood-Replenishing Potion, made him eat and then, she burst into noisy tears. He let her cry, stroking her hair with a soft hand, until she’d emptied herself of all emotion.
“We’re dead,” she whispered, sitting up and wiping at her face.
“Probably,” he answered grimly. “You have to get out of here.”
“We have to get out of here,” she responded firmly. He shook his head.
“I can’t apparate, Rose, not in this condition,” Scorpius said calmly. “I’m too weak. And I’m certainly not fit for a fight. So you need to -”
“If you think I am leaving you here to die then are mistaken, Scorpius Malfoy,” she snapped, standing up and wiping furiously at her face. “Now get dressed. We’re going.”
“Where? Cass will have the street’s full of her people, looking for us.”
“We’re going home. If we can get out of Marrakech we have a flying start,” she said, quieter now. “We’ve still got our passports and enough money. We just need to make it to the airport.”
He sighed. “This is futile.”
“Just do as I say, please,” she whispered. “I’m calling us a taxi.”
As they waited for the taxi, Rose healed the bullet wound – it has stopped bleeding thanks to the Potion, but he was still weak. She made sure she had a strip of painkillers in her pocket, finding him a shirt and helping him into it. He tried to hide his pain but she saw it anyway. She stashed her gun in the waistband of her shorts, against her spine, and Scorpius did the same. Rose emptied her handbag on the bed, sorting through the contents, putting her wallet, their passports, a pocket knife and what first aid supplies she had in a small pile. The passports and some money went into her pocket; the rest into a small pouch, magically enhanced, which she tied around her middle. She slipped her wand into her pocket.
She looked around the room vaguely, noting her clothes strewn across the floor and two empty coffee cups on the table; the furnishings had lost their colour and she was viewing the world through a dulled curtain of sleeplessness and worry. She was thankful they had never revealed the exact name of their motel to Cass or any of the others, but she knew it was only a matter of time before they were discovered. The Muggle-Repelling Charm she placed on the room would have rendered them invisible throughout the night, but once they stepped out the door, the charm would fail to protect them. Disillusionment was out of the question also – they would need to be visible to get to the airport.
Scorpius was folding maps and other documents, which he handed to her to add to her pouch. He took out the box of vials containing their memories.
“I don’t suppose these will mean anything to anyone other than a wizard but-”
“Destroy them,” Rose nodded. “Just in case.”
He sorted through them, holding out the most important ones for her to add to the pouch and then, slowly, he opened the lid of each vial and they stood back, watching as their memories drifted away like smoke on the breeze. A knock at the door made Rose jump, and then a voice was calling that their taxi had arrived.
As she reached for the door, Scorpius slipped an arm around her middle and pulled her against his chest. He cupped her chin with his spare hand and kissed her. “In case we die,” he whispered, “I want you to know I don’t regret anything.”
Rose took a deep breath. “Me either. Let’s go.”
The taxi was parked outside the motel, its engine still purring, and Rose climbed quickly into the back after Scorpius. “The airport,” she told the driver, tossing some money at him. Their eyes met in the rear vision mirror and she stifled a gasp, but before she could do anything more, he had locked the doors and pulled the vehicle quickly away from the motel.
Scorpius had noticed their driver as well. “Areli, let us go.”
“Please,” Rose added. The Israeli shook his head, his black eyes dancing as he swung the taxi around a sharp bend. The ancient architecture of the Medina rushed past as Rose threw a terrified glance out the window.
“No can do, Rebecca my sweet,” Areli said in his beautiful accent. “Cass wants you and so Cass shall have you. If I didn’t find you, it would have been one of the others. You shall not be leaving this city tonight.”
“Please,” Rose said again, her voice breaking at the end. She turned and lashed out at the window, grabbed the door handle, rattled it, shook it until Scorpius put his arms around her and pulled her back against him.
“Be ready to run,” he whispered and Rose sobbed, not knowing whether her hysteria was real or imagined. She felt out of her body, exhausted, running on adrenalin and nothing more. She needed sleep, and she was hungry and worn out by worry and her emotions. She felt Scorpius slide the wand from her pocket and she tensed, understanding now what he meant to do. In one swift motion, he unlocked the doors, and before Areli realised what was happening, Rose flung open her door.
The taxi careened wildly through the dark street as Areli tried to hold the wheel and reach for his weapon at the same time; the road loomed up to meet them and Scorpius gave her a solid push, and she was falling. Rose tucked her head against her chest, pulled her arms in and rolled, hitting the ground hard and feeling a rib bend. Scorpius thumped against the road a few metres from her, and Rose pushed herself upright, wincing at the sharp pain that laced through her ankle. She flexed and rolled her foot, testing it, before racing towards Scorpius and hauling him to his feet. The taxi had stopped, and Rose nearly screamed as the driver’s side door opened and the tall, sinewy shape of the Mossad agent stepped into the night. A light switched on in an upstairs window, and without waiting another second, they turned and ran, throwing themselves into the nearest alley.
She didn’t know which way they were going, or where. They just wanted to put as much distance between Areli and themselves as was possible. Rose ran until her eyes streamed and her sides split apart, the stitch racing ahead of her, burning into her lungs and throat. When she faltered, Scorpius grabbed her hand, half-dragging her.
As they moved quickly through the darkened streets, empty in the dead of night except for a few stray cats, they approached the vast open space of the Djemaa El-Fna, and paused. Scorpius pulled her into the shadows where they caught their breath.
“Are you alright?” he asked her between gasps and she nodded. “I’m sorry, I panicked. I should have Stunned him, or Imperiused him, or something. I wasn’t thinking straight.”
“Its okay – I think I’ve been panicking since Isobelle was shot.”
Rose slipped her hand in his and they skirted the edge of the market place, eyes darting into shadows, senses on hyper alert. The city was quiet around them, ominous, causing Rose to shiver with an unbridled sense of anticipation. Something was watching them, she could feel it, and she gripped Scorpius’ hand tighter.
“Are you okay?”
“Just keep moving,” she whispered. Scorpius pulled her into a narrow side street, dodging a pile of boxes, and Rose felt her heart stop as something swung at them from the darkness. She ducked instinctively, and Scorpius let go of her hand as he was grabbed around the middle and tackled to the ground. Rose reached for the gun at her back but it was kicked from her hands before she realised what was happening and she had no idea where her wand had gone.
Cass stepped into the meagre light. She was smiling her delicious tiger smile, and Rose swallowed, terrified of the glint in the other woman’s eye. In her peripheral vision she watched as Scorpius landed a blow on Joe’s jaw, the older man’s head snapping back to hit the brickwork behind him. A third person slipped from the darkness and Rose gave a little cry as Scorpius was knocked to the ground.
“Give up,” Cass ordered, and Rose shook her head, her eyes moving from where Scorpius lay to Cass and her predatory expression. “Do it, or he’s dead.” She nodded, and Joe aimed his gun at Scorpius’ head.
“Alright,” Rose whispered, relaxing the fighting stance she didn’t even realise she had taken. Without another word, or any warning, Cass lifted her fist and Rose felt the world collapse.
She woke with a pounding head; her face hurt, her jaw felt like it had been broken and she had a split lip. She was alone in a room much like the one they had found Al in: possibly the same room.
She sat up, wincing at the pain that bit into her shoulder; an injury from the tumble out of the taxi. She put her hands over her stomach, biting her lip and hoping that the baby was okay. She took comfort in the fact that she wasn’t in any pain in that area of her body and turned her attention to her shoulder. Reaching up to rub it, Rose froze, listening to the footsteps outside the closed and bolted door. She heard muffled voices and the door was thrown open. One of the Africans, a tall, dark man with hard eyes, advanced into the room, a rifle in his large hands. It was trained on her, and Rose sat very still, watching him closely. Another man came in, a body slung over his shoulder.
Rose did not move as Scorpius was dropped to the ground beside her, although she wanted to fly at the men and tear their eyes out. They backed slowly towards the door, eyeing her with extreme distaste and she ignored them, turning to Scorpius. She gasped at the sight of him, spinning around and staring at the guards in mortification.
“What did you do to him?” she whispered. They only laughed and shut the door.
Scorpius groaned. His face was a mess and his shirt was torn and there were cuts and bruises on his torso and arms. Rose ran her hands over his body gently, checking for broken bones and other injuries, finding nothing obvious. She shed her light blouse and ripped it up, tending his wounds as best she could, shivering slightly in her singlet.
“I’m here,” she whispered, trying to keep the fear out of her voice.
She choked back a sob. “Don’t talk.”
He nodded slightly but did not open his eyes. Rose lifted his head into her lap, sitting herself back against the cool of the wall, her fingers lightly stroking his hair back from his forehead. Scorpius was silent and she watched the rise and fall of his chest as he slept.
Rose wasn’t sure how long she had sat pressed against the wall; time had lost meaning, had ceased to exist and all that floated through that terrible space was a foreboding sense of doom. Scorpius woke with a groan, attempting to sit up and Rose put her hands on his shoulders, steadying him.
He shook his head miserably. “I couldn’t help it. I’m sorry.”
“They’re barbarians, Scorpius.”
“They know who we are, Rose,” he said flatly, and she swallowed the fresh dread that flooded her stomach. “I told him everything. I had no choice; he threatened to kill you, kill me, our families...”
Rose lent down and kissed his forehead. “It doesn’t matter now,” she whispered.
The door was flung open and Rose heard Cass’s sneering voice. “Isn’t this touching? How’s the honeymoon working out for you? Have you taken lots of pictures to show Hermione and Ron?”
“We’re not married,” Rose answered, glancing up as Cass entered the room, her weapon pointed at them. Fear coiled tight in Rose’s veins as her parent’s names rolled off Cass’s tongue.
“No, that’s right, you’re not. I can’t believe I trusted you,” Cass said after a long moment of simply looking at them. “I let you know our plans, shared things with you and all that time, you were...” she shook her head.
“Doesn’t that tell you something though?” Rose argued gently. “About us? About how we’re no different from you; we’re all people, Cass, human beings.”
“You are not human!” the other woman screamed with such fury Rose was certain she would kill them then and there. “You are a filthy abomination. You shouldn’t exist!”
“But we do,” Scorpius said, sitting up before Rose could stop him. “You know this is pointless, Cass.”
She laughed. “You’re not so tough, wizard, not without this anyway.” In her spare hand, she held Scorpius’ wand. She twirled it between her fingers, watching it with a sick fascination, before she smiled, turning and smashing the wand against the wall, where it snapped in half.
“Put away your toys and say that,” Scorpius snarled, his eyes moving from the remains of his wand to Cass. “I don’t usually hit women, but for you, Cass, I’d make an exception.”
“Shut up,” she snapped, striding into the room. She struck him and pressed the nose of the gun against his temple. “I should just kill you right now and be done with it, Scorpius Malfoy.”
“So you know who we are,” Rose said quickly, trying to stall her, to distract her. “Now what? Are you going to ransom us?”
Cass shrugged. “It’s a possibility, for you especially, Rose. Considering who your parents are...war heroes, the wizard darlings...it shouldn’t be hard to get what I want.”
“And what do you want?”
“Control,” Cass laughed. “I want all filthy wizards labelled. I want to know who you are, where you are, I want you rounded up, locked up. I want you sterilised, so you cannot pollute the world. I want you to pay for what you have done.”
“What we have done?” Scorpius repeated in disbelief. “And what would that be?”
Cass ignored him. “Perhaps I shall just give you to Maria, as gifts. You,” she said, running her fingers through Scorpius’ hair almost playfully, “will make her very happy, I think. She’s not had a Pure Blood wizard to play with yet. Maybe you’re the missing link.”
“Happy to be of service,” Scorpius said waspishly. “Would you like your pound of flesh now, or later?”
“Cute. What’s next? Dante?”
“I don’t believe in Hell.”
“You will.” Cass smiled and shut the door on them.
The night was long and chilled. Rose could not sleep, and Scorpius spent what seemed like hours pacing the small cell until she told him to sit down. They heard the call to prayer some hours later, and knew that it was just after dawn. The bells rang through the city, haunting and sombre, and to Rose, they were a death toll, a dirge, singing for her and Scorpius and all the others who had been killed simply for being what they were.
Some moments later, after the last bell had died away, the door swung open and Sophie entered the room. Rose sat up, startled by the girl’s appearance, a strange and sudden hope swelling inside her. One look at Sophie’s face, however, quickly squashed the feeling. Sophie said nothing, just stared at them, until she sighed in disappointment.
“I’m sorry I had to lie to you,” Rose said softly.
“I can see why you did it,” Sophie replied slowly, “but I cannot forgive you for it.”
“Sophie,” Scorpius began, his voice low and rough. “You know this is wrong.”
The girl shrugged. “Maybe, but I believe what my father believes: you shouldn’t exist. But, unlike my father, I don’t think killing you is the answer. You are here, you’re in the world and yes, something needs to be done but genocide is not the way.”
Rose waited, saying nothing, knowing Sophie had not finished. The girl sighed again, leaning casually against the wall. She was armed, Rose noticed, and once again, it saddened her that a child felt the need to carry a weapon.
“I have tried to talk to my father about you,” Sophie said matter-of-factly. “He won’t budge and you know what? I won’t push him.”
Rose nodded. “I understand, I do,” she said gently.
Sophie shrugged. “I came to say goodbye,” she said. “I doubt I will see you again.”
Without another word, she left, and four heavily armed men stormed into the room. Cass followed them in, Joe close on her heels. His eyes trailed after his daughter, his shoulders tense, before he turned his attention to his prisoners.
“Morning,” Cass sang. “Nice day for a crucifixion, wouldn’t you say?”
Rose felt her stomach turn over. Her eyes found Joe, who held his gun between his strong hands. He would not look at her, casting his eyes to the floor instead.
“Your parents will receive a ransom note soon,” Cass informed Rose.
“They won’t do what you want.”
“Oh I think they will.” She nodded, and the mercenaries edged further into the room. They hauled Scorpius and Rose upright and frog-marched them out of the room. In the street outside Cass’s riad, the sun was blazing and a truck with a covered canopy was waiting, its engine purring contentedly.
Cass gave the signal and Rose and Scorpius were lifted and tossed into the back like sacks of grain. Rose didn’t try to resist. She lay face down, listening as the door to the cage was bolted and locked, and the canvas flap pulled down and secured. Scorpius reached for her, pulling her into his arms. The space was too small to stand in, so they shuffled back until he was able to rest against the rear window of the truck.
As the vehicle pulled away, tyres crunching over gravel, Rose closed her eyes and rested her head against Scorpius’ chest, trying to ignore the animal smell that rose around her body. She figured the truck was usually used for transporting beasts; pigs or goats perhaps. This time, it was moving a different sort of animal and she wondered if she and Scorpius were being given the honour of being the first such passengers, or if many others had come before them.
Rose slept on and off throughout the heat of the day, waking many hours later, and all around her was darkness: night had fallen, and with it came a terrible rush of fear. There was no sound other than the engine and Scorpius’ deep breathing. It was sweltering in the truck; sweat dripped down her spine and beaded her forehead, pooled behind her knees and in her palms. Her cheek where it rested on Scorpius’ chest was slick with moisture and she chocked back a sob, pulling air deep into her lungs.
“I’m okay,” she whispered, wiping at her face. She was dreadfully thirsty.
“I have no idea where we are,” he whispered back, “We’ve not stopped since we left Marrakech.”
“Al will come; the Ministry will come,” Rose said softly, her voice large in the musty dark. Scorpius said nothing so she twisted in his arms and grabbed the front of his shirt. “He will come. He has my memories; when we don’t report to the Ministry, when no one hears from us, they will know something has gone wrong. They will come looking for us.”
“Rose, we don’t know where the camp is,” Scorpius answered, his voice strained.
“Someone will work it out,” she said, feeling desperation begin to creep into her voice.
“I hope so.”
They clung to each other, waiting, breathing out their fear. The truck did not stop, driving on through the night, drawing them inexorably closer to their destination. They were let out of the truck the following day to go to the bathroom, when the sun was directly overhead, scorching their eyes. Rose stared around her in dismay – there was nothing, no landmark, no sign of civilisation. She had no idea where they were, or how far they had travelled. One of the mercenaries shoved the tip of his rifle into her lower back.
“Move,” he ordered her in his musical voice but before she could take a step and crawl back into the semi-darkness of their temporary prison, one of the other men, older and harder than the rest, blocked her path.
“She’s pretty, for a witch,” he intoned and Rose swallowed, a shiver running the length of her body, like an electric current. “Look at that hair, like fire, and that skin. Under the dirt I bet it is just like cream.” He reached out and touched her cheek and Rose recoiled like an unbroken horse. The man laughed, his eyes combing over her and Rose held his gaze defiantly.
Scorpius called her name, his voice desperate and pained. In her peripheral vision, Rose watched him struggle, watched him kick out at the nearest guard and get hit over the head with the butt of the rifle. He was shoved into the truck, still struggling and they locked him in. She closed her eyes, praying that whatever they did to her, it would not harm her baby.
“What do you think you are doing?”
Rose opened her eyes, watching as a tall man in military fatigues appeared from the side of the truck. His eyes assessed the situation critically and his face hardened. “You are not to touch the prisoner: Cass’s orders. Now move!”
The men slunk away to take their varying positions – some clung to the side of the truck, standing on the wide board that ran the perimeter of the tray.
“Thank you,” Rose whispered to the man who had saved her. He unlocked the cage and indicated she get in.
“I did not do it for you,” he said in his heavy Arab accent. “I did it for my men. Allah would not permit them to live if it was known they had consorted with a devil.” He pushed her in the last few steps and shut the darkness on her once again.
“Rose, are you hurt?”
“I’m fine. I’m grateful and everything but will you stop trying to rescue me?”
“What sort of man would I be if I didn’t at least try?” he asked, making her smile sadly. It was lighter in the truck now with the sun directly overhead; Rose could see a fresh cut on his cheek. She dabbed at it with the edge of his shirt, checking on his other wounds at the same time, knowing there was nothing she could do for him if they were infected. Cass had taken her pouch, their ID and their weapons. They had nothing but their clothes.
“Where do you suppose we are?” she asked when she had finished, sitting back on her heels.
He shrugged and pushed the hair from his face. “I have no idea. I can’t even tell which direction we’ve been travelling in.”
“East,” Rose said automatically. “Or south east – it’s the only option. North or west would have put us in the ocean.”
Scorpius closed his eyes, leaning his head back against the bars. Rose sat opposite him, mirroring his pose. The rattle and shake of the truck became an almost gentle rhythm, accompanied by the rock and sway as the vehicle ploughed on over uneven roads. They stopped again, but it was clear they would not be allowed out.
“Hey,” Scorpius shouted. “Can we get some water?” The men outside ignored him. He indicated Rose should move and she scuttled to the other side of the tray as he crept forward, resting his weight on his hands and leaning back. He drew his knees up and kicked against the bars, again and again, until the tip of a rifle emerged through a slit in the canvas and he drew back hurriedly.
“Shut up that noise, boy, or I’ll shut you up.”
“We’ll be dead before we get there,” Scorpius yelled.
“Fine by me,” the mercenary shouted back, laughing.
“Maybe,” Scorpius replied, his voice lower now. “But I don’t think Cass would be too pleased, would she? She wants us alive.”
Rose heard a furious discussion between the men outside and eventually, the gate was unlocked and a bottle of water tossed in. It was mildly warm and tasted like dirt but Rose did not care. She drank deep and passed Scorpius the bottle. “Do you think it would be going too far to ask for something to eat?” he asked.
“I think so.” She sat beside him and he lifted her hand, cradling it between his.
“I’m sorry, Rose. This is my fault; we’re going to die somewhere in the middle of Africa and it’s my fault.”
“No,” she shook her head as the truck started up and slowly rumbled away. “I need to tell you something, now, while I have the chance.” She looked at their joined hands and took a deep breath. “Scorpius, I’m pregnant.”
“Yes,” she breathed, not at all offended by the question, and when he didn’t speak for several excruciating minutes, she glanced at his face, not knowing what to expect. He was staring straight ahead, eyes wide and mouth slightly open. As Rose watched, his eyes filled with tears and he blinked furiously, shaking his head. She bit her lip, reaching up to wipe away the water that slid down his cheek.
His eyes found her face then and she smiled hesitantly, but he did not. His expression was fierce, dangerous. “Don’t let them find out, Rose. Maria mustn’t find out. They can do what they bloody well like to me but if they touch you,” he paused, swallowing, “I will kill them.”
“Please don’t do anything stupid,” she begged him, gripping his chin.
Very slowly, he reached over and placed his hand on her abdomen, just below her belly button. “It doesn’t matter what I do now,” he said so low she had to strain to hear it. “We’re all going to die here, eventually.”
“Albus will come,” Rose said again, putting her hand over his as he cradled her still-flat belly. “He will find us.”
Okay so a lot went on in that chapter. I hope it didn’t drag anywhere and each event moved into the next okay. Reviews are love
23.4: edited chapter image added
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