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Chapter 8 : Hiding in Plain Sight
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The Law Enforcement department was quieter than usual; most Aurors were out in the field or had the day off. The one's who were still at the Ministry were going through everything La Oscurità left behind; files, pictures, plans. Ron Weasley was one of those Aurors. Since Hugo had become involved three months ago, it had become the only part of the investigation he could take part in. The Ministry were still apprehensive about Ron being a part of the case, but allowed it; there was nothing he could really compromise.
Harry opened the door to the conference room they were using for the case and stood behind Ron. "How's it going?"
"Slowly," he sighed. "The files are all hits they took out, magical objects they wanted; I'm not sure we can use it. The pictures match the names of the victims, I assume the ones that don't are would-be victims."
Ron held up a picture he had found; a picture of Hugo. "He's not dead."
"Mr Potter," a voice called. Harry looked up and followed the voice to a young Auror. "I found this." He held up a file, thicker than others, with no name on top, and handed it to Harry. Harry looked to him, confused, expecting an explanation, but the Auror just stared at the file, a look on his face Harry couldn't quite decipher.
Harry turned the file in his hand and went to open it when shouting and banging was heard from outside. An assistant ran in. "Sir, he won't listen."
"Who?" Ron asked.
Harry and Ron shared a quick look, "Hugo?" Ron got up from his chair and they ran out of the room to see Hugo being restrained by two Aurors. "Let him go," Ron said. "Hugo, what are you doing here?"
Hugo stammered and gasped, tears falling freely, and it was a few moments before he could say anything. When he did, only three words came out: "They took him."
"What?" Harry murmured. "Who took him?" He glared at his nephew, more out of fear than anger. "Where's Lysander?"
"Here in London," he whispered slowly. "They took him - La Oscurità."
There was a collection of gasps from the department at the fact that an Auror, one of their own, had been kidnapped, but Harry, Ron and Hugo paid no attention. The two senior Aurors started asking questions randomly, talking over each other, until Harry held up a hand and spoke calmly. "How did this happen? They should not have known where you were."
"They took him on his way back from town; he needed to go out," Hugo said, not telling them why just yet. He knew it was going to come up. Everything was going to be told now; the whole truth.
"How did they know where you were?" Harry repeated.
Hugo breathed in and out over and over for a few minutes, terrified at what was coming, before speaking. "We went out."
Ron moved forward, hoping he had heard wrong, Hugo could tell. "Come again?"
"We went out," he repeated. "We needed a night out."
"You knew it was dangerous, you both knew." Ron walked away to calm himself, angry at his son for breaking the one rule they had to keep them both safe, scared for Lysander and what he must be going through. He connected the dots. "One of them saw you."
Hugo nodded slowly. "I knew I recognized him when I saw him last night, I just couldn't think where."
"He's the one you saw that night," Harry said, thinking back to why Hugo was in this mess; he was a witness. He was surprised when the man said no. "How many times have you come across La Oscurità, Hugo?" he asked suspiciously.
"Does it really matter?" Hugo exclaimed. "Xander is in trouble and it's my fault."
Ron leaned closer to Harry. "Xander?"
"I'll explain later," he muttered. "If we want to help Lysander, if we want to get him back alive," Hugo winced at the severity of which his uncle said the word 'alive'. "You need to tell us everything. I am sick of your half-truths and your out right lies and you not telling us the whole story. I want the truth, Hugo; what is going on?"
Hugo dropped his gaze to the file still in Harry's hand. "Have you read that yet?"
"No," Harry answered, confused. "How can you know what it's about?"
"It's thicker than the others, isn't it?" Harry only replied with a nod. "You would never believe me if I told you, so read that file after I show you." He let go of a breath and turned around slowly, then he reached up to touch his shoulder and pulled his top down. He stood there for what seemed like forever, but in reality, could only have been five minutes at most, and when he realized no one was moving, he turned back around to face them. Hugo wished he could have the looks on his family's faces removed from his memory. "Are you still proud of me, Uncle Harry?" Harry said nothing. "Don't be. Just help Xander. I won't let him die because of me. I can't lose him."
For over two hours they sat in an interview room and with each hour that past, Hugo's anger grew. He told them everything; how desperate he had become, how he joined without thinking, what they made him do. He told them that Lysander had found out the other day, his reaction, and Harry knew why they had sat on opposite ends of the room that day. Ron had started pacing to calm down.
"You should have come to us," he yelled.
"I couldn't, not after what you said to me," Hugo screamed back. "Your words were the reason I left in the first place."
Harry pushed Ron into the corner gently, saying he wasn't helping. Hugo watched them have a hushed conversation and then Harry sat opposite him. "I understand why you did what you did, though you could have come to me. You know I wouldn't tell your dad any of your business until you were ready." He gave Hugo a look and he knew he meant his and Lysander's relationship, something he had kept out of the conversation. "I don't know what's going to happen. You may have made bad choices for good reasons, but that doesn't mean the law is on your side; you still work for La Oscurità."
Hugo scoffed half-heartedly. "I'm not an idiot, Harry. I didn't think the truth would save me, that I'd tell you and everything would suddenly be alright. I knew you'd know eventually, that I'd have to tell you everything and jail would be a definite possibility from the very beginning. I'm a realist, remember." He ran a hand through his hair. "I wanted to tell you as soon as it happened, but he wouldn't let me go home. He didn't want you knowing where they were, he said if I told I should hope I get to say good bye first. He would have had you killed, my whole family. I couldn't risk that, I wasn't brave enough."
"Like I said; bad choices, good reasons." Harry stood up and led Ron out the door. "Do you have any idea where they could have taken Lysander?"
Hugo shook his head. "I'm not sure. I thought I did, but it was too obvious."
Harry nodded once. "We'll find him. I promise."
Once outside, Ron stopped Harry. "Are you sure this will work?"
Harry turned to the interview room, imagining how Hugo would be reacting now that he was alone. "I know it will."
Inside, Hugo was panicking. He had no idea what was happening to Lysander right now. Every second they wasted was a second closer to... No, he wouldn't think that. He couldn't.
He sat back and thought; there were only so many places he could be. At first, Hugo had thought they would have taken to him to the basement of their nightclub, Hunt, in the centre of London; it was their primary location. But they would have known Hugo would know that. It was the most likely place the Aurors would go, so they would obviously find somewhere else. Wouldn't they?
"Hiding in plain sight," Hugo whispered to himself, thinking out loud. "They'd go there, knowing I'd have told the Aurors it was the most likely place for them to go, therefore ruling it out so Lysander couldn't be found. They are there."
Hugo jumped up and left the interview room; if he wanted to find Lysander in time, he had to go now. He walked to the elevator and left the Ministry. The whole time, he had been so focused on finding Lysander; he didn't notice how odd it was that no one had stopped him.
Skin to skin contact as a hand hit his face and a heavy splash of water jerked Lysander awake. He coughed violently and tried to drop his arms. When he realised he couldn't, he looked up to see them bound to the wall, above his head. He pulled at the restraints and the bounds around his wrists glowed blue. Lysander sighed, realising what they were, and looked ahead.
Lysander narrowed his eyes at the stranger in front of him. "Who are you?"
He laughed lightly. "I'm sorry, Lysander, I've spent so much time getting to know you," he lifted up a file with his name on, "that I feel like I've known you forever. I forget you don't know me. My name's Will."
Lysander raised an eye-brow lazily, trying to ignore the numb sensation starting to grow in his arms. "Sorry, doesn't mean a thing to me."
Will gave him a smirk that didn't reach his eyes; he was more annoyed than amused. "You may know me as the leader of La Oscurità."
Lysander could tell he didn't expect him to laugh. "No shit, Sherlock. Why should I care who you are?"
He watched Will turn his back on him, drop the file onto a table and pull out his wand. "I can just tell you've spent time with Hugo," he murmured. He raised his wand and Lysander tipped his head back and gritted his teeth to keep from screaming as pain covered his body. "How can you be so calm in your situation?"
"You don't scare me," Lysander whispered. "I'm not afraid."
Will stared at him, disbelief on his face. "You're going to die knowing you failed. Your mission was to protect Hugo. You're not doing a very good job tied up here, are you?"
Lysander gave him a small smile. "Do you see him here?" His smile grew wider. "My assignment was to keep Hugo safe. I'm not afraid because if I die, I die knowing I did my job; Hugo is safe."
"I think I know what he sees in you," Will muttered, but it wasn't appreciatively. "Why he would choose you I'll never know."
"You don't know anything about Hugo," Lysander said.
Will laughed, his first genuine laugh since Lysander had woken up. "Oh, I know Hugo very well."
It didn't take long for Lysander to grasp the man's meaning and he glared. "You're lying." Will's silence and the smug look on his face confirmed Lysander's fears and he wanted to scream. "You bastard."
It took him longer than he would have liked to calm down, but he did so. Then he shrugged. "Doesn't matter. He chose me in the end. It'll always be me. How does it feel to know I win?"
He couldn't stop the scream that came as he was hit with the Cruciatus Curse again. He shook violently and breathed deeply in and out as the pain subsided. "Face it, Will," he whispered. "You'll never have Hugo. Even if you kill me, he'll always be mine. You might as well just get it over with; he's not coming."
Lysander let a tear fall as Will raised his wand, thinking of his life; his family and friends, Lorcan and Hugo, but refused to shut his eyes.
Will lowered his wand, grinning, and Lysander shook his head. "No," he whispered. "Please, no."
"You were saying?" He turned to Hugo, who had his wand raised in a defensive position, "Hugo, so glad you could join us. We've been waiting for you."
He nodded to Lysander, but Hugo kept his eyes on Will. "You okay there, Xander?"
Lysander didn't answer. "You're an idiot," he said instead.
"Yes, I am." Hugo lower his wand a fraction. "Let him go, Will. I'm here now; you caught me. No more hiding. Just let him go."
Will tapped a finger on his chin and pretended to think. "No. You got him involved. Now you can both die. But I see why you always liked him." He watched Hugo's eyes widen, then noted Lysander's confusion. "Didn't you tell him?" Will walked across to the young Auror and stood behind him to whisper in his ear. "Did you never ask why he refused to speak to you that Christmas two years ago?"
Lysander shook his head slowly. He kept his eyes on Hugo, who kept looking down. "He wanted you," Will said. "But he was afraid of how you would react."
"You promised no more Ligamancy," Hugo sneered.
Hugo turned to face Lysander for the first time and had to bite his tongue to keep from gasping at his appearance; his left eye was slightly swollen and bruised a deep purple and the side of his face was covered in dry blood from the head wound, where they'd hit him to get him in the van. Lysander realized why he didn't want to look. "I would have told you if you had asked. Christmas never came up, not once."
"I don't care, Hugo," Lysander told him. "It was two years ago. It's not where we are now."
"How touching," Will sneered, glaring. He pointed his wand to Hugo's chest. "I always knew you'd come alone." He glanced Lysander. "At least you won't die alone."
Hugo chuckled and lowered his wand to his side. "I didn't come alone." Aurors swarmed in then, Harry and Ron in front. "It didn't take me long to figure out I was being followed. I learned from the best."
"You're welcome," Will said, ready to fight.
"I was talking about my dad."
Hugo didn't know who fired the first curse, but he didn't waste time finding out; he moved out of the way and ran to Lysander. He grabbed the man's wrists and pointed his wand at the restraints. "You have to admit, magical bounds are better than Muggle cuffs; Aurors can't get out of them." The restraints came loose and Hugo wrapped his arms around Lysander to keep him steady. "You should have known I would come."
"I hoped you wouldn't," Lysander groaned in pain as he stood to his full height. "You knew I wanted you safe, you should have realized you staying would be what I'd want."
Hugo glanced at the fight in front of them; they were too preoccupied with each other to notice the two reasons they were in the basement in the first place. Only a number of La Oscurità had come; they were outnumbered by the Aurors and they all knew it. Some had been stunned and taken away, others could be seen disappearing, running away.
"We save our own skin first," Hugo remembered Will telling him.
He turned back to Lysander, removing a wand from his pocket; Lysander's wand. "I did, but I couldn't leave you. Besides, I think you need this. You left it in the bedroom when you went out."
Lysander took his wand and smiled softly. "Thank you." Suddenly Hugo was pulled back and a curse hit the wall instead. Lysander retaliated, hitting the target in the chest.
"Now I see the Auror in you," Hugo muttered, awed. Lysander just grinned and they joined the fight.
With two more, the Aurors were able to gather the remaining members of La Oscurità and only Will was left in the middle of the room, Hugo just to his left, while Harry, Ron and Lysander were by the entrance they came through.
"So this is how La Oscurità ends," Harry called to him. "The only reason you lasted so long was because you were smart, because combat really isn't your thing. I had high expectations, I thought you'd be good, that it would take more than this to bring you in."
"I'm not done yet, Potter."
It was too late to stop him; he pointed his wand at the ceiling and everything began to shake. The walls began to crumble, glass smashed and parts of the ceiling fell to the floor. The remaining Aurors fled the room, but Lysander watched in horror as Hugo grabbed Will, stopping him from leaving. They stood trapped in the middle of the room. Lysander could see Hugo mouthing something to him, but he couldn't hear the words. He watched Will move to the side and Hugo stagger a little.
Harry grabbed his arm and pulled him back, a piece of ceiling just missing him. The ceiling fell down and both Hugo and Will disappeared, a thick cloud of dust filling the air.
Lysander coughed and covered his mouth to keep from breathing it in. "Hugo!" he screamed when the dust cleared.
He moved forward but Harry stopped him. "It's too dangerous." As if to prove a point, more of the ceiling fell.
"Hugo!" he called again.
His hopes lifted when he saw movement come from the debris. "I'm here!"
Hugo stood up slowly and wiped dust from his face and hair, his hand covering his side. Lysander gave him a smile as he made his way to them, but it dropped when he saw red dripping from between the man's fingers. "Hugo, what happened?"
Hugo looked down and pulled his hand away, bringing a shard of glass with it. He dropped to his knees as Lysander caught him. He barely saw another Auror come in. "He's dead," he called. They knew he was talking about Will.
"I never saw it coming," Hugo murmured. "I'll be fine. I'm going to be fine, baby." He raised a hand to caress Lysander's cheek. "Everything's going to be alright."
Lysander grasped his shirt tighter and let a tear fall as Hugo stuttered the words. "I thought you stopped calling me that," he whispered.
Hugo shook his head lightly. "Still testing it."
He let go of his wound. "No," Lysander demanded, covering it with his own hand. "We have to keep pressure on it."
They barely noticed Harry demand what was taking Healers so long.
"It'll be alright," Hugo murmured. "I promise." Lysander shook his head. Hugo whispered into his ear and more tears fell. He pulled back with difficulty. "I love you."
"I love you too." Lysander wrapped his free arm around Hugo's neck and held him close. He felt Hugo's head fall onto his shoulder and nothing could stop him.
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