Lockhart? pondered Rose. Haven’t I heard that name somewhere?
Malfoy elbowed Al aside, grabbed Rose by the forearm, and yanked her out of thecell with the disgrace one might show to a badly behaved dog. She gasped and stumbled because of her injured leg. Gritting her teeth together, she deftly caught a hold of his wrist and twisted it painfully until he was forced to release her. “Now, now, Malfoy,” she said coldly, massaging the bruised spot on her arm. “I hardly need you dragging me to see the captain. I go of my own free will.”
“Would you like Lorcan to come along?” Al asked her in a mutter, avoiding Malfoy’s glaring eyes.
“Yes, thank you!” Rose said in delight.
“Potter!” Malfoy barked. “Who gave you the authorization?”
Al looked at him sharply and fingered one of the badges on his lapel. “I did, Malfoy, as the other lieutenant on this ship.”
Malfoy’s mouth thinned.
In moments, Lorcan had been brought out from one of the brigs further along the bottom of the ship. Rose gave him a quick go over with her eyes, and exhaled in relief. He was battered, his clothes covered in dried blood, but it didn’t seem like he suffered any physical injury. “Red!” he breathed, approaching her with a cautious air. “Are you alright?”
“Just swell,” Rose said, giving him a wry smile. “Whose blood is that?”
Lorcan shrugged. “Some bloke.”
Al regarded Lorcan curiously, and put a hand on his shoulder. “You have changed a lot, old friend.”
Lorcan grinned. “Touché. So, lieutenant of the Glorious, are we? I have a higher rank than youuuuu! Hahaha!”
“Shut your mouth, pirate!” Malfoy said irritably. “Potter, you can catch up to speed with your dear friends later. The captain is waiting!”
“Oh, stop being such a pompous prat, Malfoy,” Al said, walking past him. “Ro—Red, Lorcan, please follow me.”
They walked up the stairs to the main deck. Rose kept her head low, not wanting to attract the attention of the sailors. She didn't want the scene from earlier to repeat itself. Al led them up a few more steps, and knocked twice on a wooden door with a plaque that read: Gilderoy Lockhart, Captain. A bright voice said from inside, “Come in!”
The door opened, and Rose was shoved in. A man was standing in the far corner of the cabin. Hearing them come in, he whirled around in a flourish of purple cape and rewarded them with a cheery, very white smile. “Hello, hello, Miss Weasley! And is that Mr. Scamander, as well? I’m charmed!”
Rose surveyed him carefully. He was a tall, middle-aged man, somewhat handsome, with a head full of wavy blond hair. His purple cloak billowed behind him, even though there was no outlet for a breeze in the cabin. It was the irritating smile that made Rose feel wary.
Captain Lockhart gestured at two chairs in the room. “Please, please, sit down.”
Lorcan shot her a look; his suspicious expression perfectly matched her own. Cautiously, she sat herself down in a plush-lined chair. Lorcan, however, remained standing at the side of the chair, not unlike a guard dog. Behind them, Al and Malfoy took up position beside the cabin door.
“Care for some wine?” Lockhart rummaged around in cupboard and held up an opened wine bottle. “Or maybe perhaps a smack of gin would suit your fancy?”
Rose gritted her teeth. “Captain. May I ask why you are being so uncommonly kind?"
Lockhart straightened. “My dear, I have been paid for your safe and comfortable passage. Now, how about some of that wine? Delicious! You must try some!”
Bribes! Of course! “Who was the one who paid it?” Rose demanded, although she thought she knew the answer.
Lockhart paused in the act of drawing out three wine glasses. He raised an eyebrow at her. “Your father, of course. Earl Ronald Weasley, the man famous for amassing a fortune by tracking wizards from the underworld. I haven’t met him in the flesh, of course, so imagine my surprise when an owl comes with a thousand gold galleons and the word to secretly deliver Captain Bloody Red to the Weasley Mansion. Similarly, a day later, I receive another thousand galleons from Lord Scamander with the promise that his son be safely received. With this money, I will gain more status and recognition far beyond any other ship’s captain; now, whenever I step into town, I will be mobbed and pestered for autographs and photos—”
“How much money do you receive from our fathers by the time you reach London?” Lorcan asked, his jaw clenched.
“Or maybe I should start giving out autographs right now!” He furrowed his brow. “Hmm. You’re a smart one, aren’t you, Mr. Scamander? I have the pleasure of receiving another two grand from your daddies! Now, the wine, hmm?” He giddily thrust two glasses toward them.
Rose didn’t take it. “So, we don’t get hanged?”
Lockhart winked. “Of course not, m’dear! No one knows that we’re shipping you back into the country! It has been done in complete secrecy!”
Her stomach went cold. Lorcan slowly asked final question, “And what happens to the rest of the crew of the Griffin?”
Lockhart smiled humorlessly. “Their fate does not concern you, young man. They are heading straight to the gallows in three day’s time.”
“Louis!” Rose shrieked, standing up in horror.
Father obviously doesn’t know that Louis’s been traveling with us! That would explain why Uncle Bill didn’t send a bribe for his safe passage… They probably think that he is dead along with Victoire!
“Louis?” Lockhart furrowed his brow. “Who is this 'Louis' you speak of?”
Rose stared hard at her lap, not daring to look at him. Louis would be hanged along with the rest the Griffin’s crew!
Then, another thought entered her brain.
But, being a loyal captain, I should fight to save my WHOLE crew!
“Lockhart,” Rose said in the coldest voice she could muster, “will you or will you not release my men?"
“But, of course, I cannot. Unless…”
Rose knew what he meant, and she pounced on the opening. “Gold. You want gold, right? How much? Name it!”
Lockhart definitely looked amused now. “Do you have the money on your person, Miss Weasley? I require a thousand-galleon start-up payment for every person you wish to free.”
“I—I—” Rose stuttered. Nobody had that kind of money! The Griffin had about thirty crew members! Then, she had no choice. She had to save Louis. “Very well, I agree to your terms. You will receive the money when we get to London.”
“Start-up payment?” needled Lockhart.
“I don’t have the money on me!” she yelled, suddenly enraged. “Can’t you bloody wait?!”
He raised his eyebrow. “Then we have no deal, Miss Weasley. If I do not have money right now, I cannot be positive that you’ll pay me later.”
Rose opened her mouth, but she couldn’t find the right words.
“Gold,” continued Lockhart, “is the only way I’ll ever be famous. And being famous is the only way to get mobbed for autographs. That is my dream, you must know.”
Rose stood up in anger, hissing, “You snake!”
He eyed her with some exasperation. “Lieutenants, please escort them back to their appropriate cabins.”
“Good riddance!” Rose screamed, knocking the wine glass out of Lockhart’s hand. It shattered on the floor, splattering dark red liquid over his shiny black boots. She pushed Al’s arm out of the way, and marched out of the cabin, breathing heavily.
The three men appeared behind her. Al carefully closed the captain’s door behind him. “You shouldn’t have done that, Cousin.”
“THAT LILY-LIVERED, SON-OF-A—” Rose let out a string of curses that would have made any decent sailor blush.
“I’m hungry,” complained Lorcan.
Rose rounded on him. “HOW DOES THAT FIT INTO ANY OF THIS?”
"Don't worry, Red," Lorcan said to her easily. "I'll owl me dad, and you do the same to yours. Ask them for the bribe money, and Louis'll be set free. Jus' like that!" Rose's mouth fell open in disbelief. She couldn't owl her father! She hadn't talked to him for years an' years! Her pride would go down the drain! But before she could say any of this Lorcan, he had turned to Albus and asked: “Oi, Al, any grub ‘round this place?”
Al clapped Lorcan on the back. “C’mon, I’ll show you the galley.”
And just like that, they went down the stairs and disappeared out of sight.
“Well, well, well,” Malfoy said, his breath tickling her ear. “Seems like Mr. Sweetheart cares more about food than you, my dear.”
“You—! Lorcan would never!” Rose swung her fist around, but Malfoy caught her wrist before she could slam it into his nose. He yanked and Rose found herself stumbling against his chest. “You!” She whacked her hand against his stomach. “What do you think yer doing?”
“Miss Weasley,” he said icily, staring down at her with frosty gray eyes, “care to join me in my cabin?”
“Oh, ho, ho! What’s going on here?”
They jumped apart in alarm. Rose’s eye alighted on a figure standing on the deck, arms crossed. It was a young lady, clad in a splendid blue gown that was most certainly unfit for a navy ship. “Ruby—you’re okay!” Rose’s voice cracked in relief. She leaped forward and threw her arms around Ruby’s neck. “You…you…you can’t believe what’s just happened…Ruby, Ruby,” Rose shuddered as the tears fell down her face. “They’re gonna to hang him, Ruby; they’re gonna to hang him!”
Ruby stroked her hair consolingly. “Don’t cry. You’re safe, Red.”
“Ye don’t UNDERSTAND!” Rose screamed, propelled herself backward, out of her arms. “I FAILED EVERYONE! I HAVE NO REASON TO LIVE ANYMORE!”
“Weasley!” Mafloy caught her arms from the behind. “Quiet down! You’re making a scene!”
Ruby stepped forward and swatted Malfoy’s hands away. “Bugger off, Scor! Can’t you see the girl’s crying?” She bundled Rose into her arms and resumed stroking her hair. “Louis will be fine, Red, he will be fine. I swear this on my birth as a Castellan.”
“Ruby!” Malfoy said in a warning voice.
Rose felt her breathing slowly go back to normal. “Ye swear?”
Ruby held her hand. “Yes. Now, stop crying. It’s a disgrace.”
Rose wiped her tears away hurriedly and avoided looking at Malfoy. She didn’t know what to say. He had seen her sobbing. What would he think?
“Ruby,” said Malfoy, “Since when are you and Weasley such bosom friends? Last time I remember, you two wanted to shave each other’s hair off.”
Ruby folded her arms. “We’re not. After these months at sea, Red and I just share…a bond. Isn’t that right?”
Rose nodded stiffly. “Ruby and I are friends by no means, Malfoy, so shut yer mouth.”
“Speaking of which,” Ruby asked curiously, “since when have you and Scorpius developed an intimate relationship?”
Rose and Malfoy made noises of surprise and outrage at the same time.
“Oh, I see,” Ruby raised an eyebrow, “so it is just coincidence that you two were staring into each other’s eyes like entranced monkeys?”
“WHOT?” Rose and Malfoy said simultaneously. They looked at each other with chagrin. “He grabbed my wrist!” Rose tried to clarify hastily, at the same time as Malfoy said, “She tried to hit me!”
“Ah.” Ruby smirked. “I see.”
Rose glanced at Malfoy uncomfortably. “Say, er, Ruby, could I stay in your cabin? It’s hell having to share wi’ this monster.”
Malfoy rolled his eyes. “You have to bunk with me, Weasel, like it or not. Captain’s orders. And I have to doctor your bullet wound.”
“Which you gave me!” Rose spat. She still couldn’t put much pressure on her left leg without wincing in pain.
“Say, Red,” Ruby drew in close and whispered playfully in her ear, “seems like Scorpius is quite eager to check up on your leg.”
Rose hit her on the shoulder. “What are you saying?”
Ruby smirked. “Just wondering, but aren’t those Mr. Malfoy’s clothes are you wearing?”
She frowned. “Malfoy’s, but that’s just ‘cos I—” Then the meaning hit her. “OI, WE DIDN’T DO THAT!”
“Ruby, busy yourself with something else other than dreaming disgusting fantasies,” Malfoy said in an aggravated tone. He raked blond hair out of his eyes. “Meanwhile, Weasley, you come with me.”
“Ta!” Ruby waggled her fingers cheerfully in their direction, and then floated off toward her cabin. Rose watched her go, her face sagging with disbelief.
“So, we still in the same cabin?” She didn’t dare look at Malfoy.
Rose reluctantly followed him back to his cabin. She stared at her at her boots the entire way, careful not to meet the eyes of any curious sailors. When they were finally alone, she blurted, “Yer not touchin’ my leg!”
He was in the act of unbuttoning his long, blue, navy overcoat. He raised an eyebrow. “Excellent. Once it starts festering, I’ll make sure I get the cook up here to chop it off with his meat knife.”
Rose paled. There was a good chance that he wasn’t joking. “The Navy is tha’…uncultured? Whatever happened to cleanly amputating with a wand?”
“Not here,” Malfoy drawled with a relish. He sat down on a wooden-backed chair. “Old Chipper uses the same blade for everything—slicing pork, chopping vegetables, killing pirates during an invasion…”
Rose stared at him in alarm. Her left calf suddenly gave a distressed twinge. The pain must’ve shown on her face because Malfoy said grumpily, “If it’s hurting that much, you better sit down.”
“Forget it!” she snapped back. “I want to go back to the brig!”
Malfoy rolled his eyes and moved forward. Next second, Rose found herself pushed onto his bed. “Ow,” she groaned, feeling her wound throb again.
“Are you okay?”
“What’s with all the manners, Malfoy? It doesn’t suit you.” Rose narrowed her eyes. “I suppose you got your heart set on that promotion, eh?”
Malfoy smirked. “Exactly. I’m glad you’re not misunderstanding my motives. If we were in London right now and I found you lying half-dead in some dodgy side-alley—”
“Let me guess, you wouldn’t even care and let me bleed to death?” Rose rolled her eyes.
Malfoy snorted and stood up, looking down at her darkly. “I would finish the job and put you out of your misery, that’s what I would do.”
Rose clutched the bed sheets angrily. “Thank you, I feel very appreciated. Now, bugger off, you abominable cretin. Your face is giving me a headache.”
“As much as I’d love to let you die, I want that promotion even more, and thus, I still need to tend to your wound, Weasley.”
“No! Go somewhere—else!”
“That bullet wound is going to fester and then it will rot all your muscles,” Malfoy told her matter-of-factly. “Do I need to show you Chipper’s saw? He hasn’t washed it for two months.”
“You must be joking.”
“Am not. Jenkins, that moron who was whistling earlier, had the last two fingers on his right hand amputated by Chipper. By the end of the week, his whole hand had to be chopped off because of some infection contracted from the dirty saw.”
“Liar.” Rose didn’t bat an eyelid. “You’re saying that your Mr. ‘Chipper’ doesn’t know about sterilization?”
Malfoy smirked. “Oh, he knows every kind of sterilization. Just not on his knife.”
Rose blinked, and then she decided that she wouldn’t try to figure out the explicit meaning of his phrase.
“Fine, fine!” Rose growled bad-temperedly. She pushed back the bed covers and painfully straightened her left leg. “…do what you have to.”
Malfoy slowly he began to raise the pant leg up. His callused palm grazed a length of her skin, making her dig her fingers into the bedcovers with a grimace.
“Don’t flinch,” he warned in a low voice. His face was wiped of any emotion.
“I’m not!” snapped Rose. “If I told my father about this, he would have you hanged! I’m not even married!”
Malfoy snorted. “Hanged? Forget it, Weasley. My family still commands some respect—”
“You’re saying that you have the permission to run your hand up the leg of a decent girl from a high-class family?”
Malfoy paused in the act of unwrapping her bandage. “Decent? You’re a pirate and you have the guts to call yourself decent, Weasley?”
Rose pursed her mouth. “I haven’t killed that many people.”
Malfoy shook his head.
He undid the bandage completely, and Rose saw her wound for the first time. It was a splotchy, bloody affair on the underside of her calf, and it throbbed like hell. She had been to sea for over a year, spending most of the time learning how to control her unruly wizarding-pirate crew. She had seen much, much worse bloodshed, indeed she had once seen a rogue pirate getting his head clean chopped off (courtesy of Lorcan), and she hadn’t batted an eyebrow. But this…
“Oh, Circe,” she muttered.
“The great Bloody Red, fainting at the sight of blood.” Malfoy shook his head. “I knew all that stuff about ‘hundreds of men killed’ was mere propaganda.”
“But it’s true! I’ve killed LOTS of people! You watch out, Malfoy!”
Malfoy leaned back, rummaging around inside his desk for something. He brought out a roll of white gauze. Then, he put his hand on the underside of Rose’s thigh, raising her leg up so he could wrap the bandage around properly.
Rose was blushing now, blushing a deep, crimson red.
“Blood hell! In London, if I showed my shin to the boy I fancied, I’d get jailed for being a goddamn prostitute! Now, look at where you’re touching me, Malfoy! If Teague’s still alive, I’ll get him to skin your sorry hide—”
She saw Malfoy grit his teeth; he lowered the offending hand to her knee. “Weasley, two things. One, this—isn’t—London! You can show me your”— he named a vulgar body part—“and nobody’ll give a damn! Two, your little pirate bastard friend J. Teague isn’t here to save you!”
Rose gave him a whopping slap across the cheek.
“Don’t!” her voice shook with the effort to stay calm. “Jonah is our brother, our father, our angel. Without him, I would be dead! Wi’out him—” her voice cracked, “I—I would be gone, dead, trapped in some brothel..”
Don’t cry, don’t cry! Malfoy’s watching you!
Malfoy had finished rewrapping the wound. Now, he stood up, throwing the sheet over Rose’s legs. His face was terrifyingly stony. “Go to sleep.”
“I said go to sleep.”
Without another word, Rose curled up under the sheets, hiding her face. They smelled exactly like Malfoy: piney, musky, a little salty. She wanted to rip the sheets apart in a fit of rage. Instead, she found her shoulders shuddering violently.
Jonah, you damn bastard, why—why aren’t you alive anymore? You would tell me how to—you would always just knew perfectly how to cope! But, I’m sorry, I’m so, so, so sorry…I just give up…sometimes, I can’t help but wonder, how can life be worth all this hell?