Chapter 8 : A Chaotic Mess
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And Iíll leave it at that! Enjoy!
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I don't know exactly what all I said, but from the reaction of the Wizengamot crew, I did help further the case. I don't know whose side I benefited more, if I benefited anyone with the information I was able to give. I realized that I wasn't quite in the know as everyone else was. Staying at the summer house, I knew little about what was going on the inside the Ministry. And I guess I don't know why I didn't think it all the way through. I should have known that the case wouldn't have stopped just because I wasn't there to oversee it, but it was odd to be filled in on the progress of the case that I had taken on single-handedly. For Rose's side at least.
They hadn't made progress with Scorpius Malfoy himself. Apparently he was still being a complete stubborn asshole, but they had made progress with piecing together the information and trying to come up with an alibi for either Malfoy or Rose. Bits and pieces were finally coming together. I just hoped they would be able to piece together a certain alibi for both of them at some point soon so this whole thing could be expunged.
The Wizengamot continued to ask me ridiculous questions. I don't even know how some of them were relevant, but the members of the Wizengamot knew how, that's for sure.
After they were finished asking me all sorts of questions, I was hauled back to Peakes' office where he asked me a few things himself. He asked me how things were going, if Rose suspected anything, and if anything was amiss at the summer house that he should know about.
Immediately, I thought yes. There is something he should know about, but I debated the better decision on the subject concerning Lysander Scamander. Was I to tell Peakes and keep Lysander from interfering in the case? Or did I say nothing and let things fall into place? If I were to tell Peakes and therefore keep Lysander from coming back, Rose would suspect something was amiss. She would begin to question that someone else was watching over us while we were at the house. All sorts of bad could happen from me telling Peakes, but if I didn't, it could jeopardize Rose's future with Scamander meddling in the whole thing.
And if Scamander didn't keep out, and the right information was passed from person to person, he could learn that there is also a Scorpius Malfoy here at the Ministry while there is also one at the summer house. They could find out my role in the entire case.
Worried and conflicted, I eventually decided on telling Peakes that further precautions had to be made around the summer house.
"Things are going well," I answered after he asked me. "Rose is opening up to me. If she were to know of anything, she may tell me soon. But I think extra precautions should be made around the cottage."
"All right," Peakes nodded and agreed without question. I think I was somewhat caught off-guard by this, but I guess, really, what's wrong with that request? "What sort of precautions?"
"Just actual anti-apparating charms and further protection barriers," I answered. I gave a half-hearted shrug to convince him that it wasn't too important, trying to hide my true reasoning. Luckily, he didn't ask.
"That's fine. You are fully capable of doing those charms yourself. At the summer house, you are in charge of what goes on and can make those decisions yourself," said Peakes in a more relaxed manner.
I was surprised by how easily and laid back he was about the whole situation, but I wasn't going to complain. It was swell that he was more calm than normal; he is usually an aggressive mess when it comes to - just about - everything.
"Is that it then?" Peakes asked me after a moment.
"I think so," I debated, but then shook my head. "Well, no. It occurred to me the other day how close Rose Weasley is with Alice Longbottom. They are fairly good friends, and I know Alice has worked her way up the Ministry latter recently. She has also perfected the art of snooping. I would suggest that she be kept out of the Auror department and when Wizengamot is in session."
"Very well," nodded Peakes as if he agreed with me perfectly well once again. "I'll take your word for it. I hadn't considered the Longbottom girl either, but I believe she is dating one of Potter's boys. So, this decision may be for the best as well."
"I agree, sir," I nodded and then felt proud of myself for effectively avoiding meddling in the case to persuade it in a certain direction.
Peakes spun around in his chair, seeming to space out for the time being. Really, why was this guy put in charge of the case? He couldn't honestly care less about the outcome of the trial and Rose and Malfoy's future. "Good," he finally commented. "Right. Well then, keep up the good work. You've been extremely beneficial to us, Lupin. Ah, and I wanted to remind you that we will need the Weasley girl's appearance at Wizengamot in approximately three weeks. This is when Weasley's first appearance on-stand will be. Don't worry about how you will get her here. John Ruckman will take care of that. Just keep that in mind. Also, your appearance as yourself would be appreciated, but you'll have to work that out however you like."
"All right. I'll think about how to work that into everything. Just remember to keep Malfoy and Rose separated while in Wizengamot. If she says the right things to Malfoy about our times at the cottage and being kept as a stowaway, Malfoy will know nothing of what she says, and she will immediately expect something is amiss."
"Right you are. Good work for today, Lupin," Peakes said, and I took that as a dismissal cue. I rose to leave and made for the door when he threw one last comment out there. "Oh, and for your wonderful help today, you're getting a 1,000 galleon bonus. Well done, Ted."
"Wha - ?" I began to stumble over my words and I didn't quite know what to say. 1,000 galleons was a lot to receive just for happening to pop into the office to go to a hearing with the Wizengamot, but I wasn't complaining. "Oh. Uh, thanks."
He nodded and I left his office then. I started playing my cards in my head, planning my next five minutes. I knew how much Ron wanted to know about Rose's safety, and I had no problem with telling him what I knew. Harry was the one who was against breaking my contract, but I could tell Ron and just leave Harry out of it, right? I mean, I could understand a father's worry for his daughter. Harry was already being stronger as an uncle than I would have been.
I slipped into the hallway and went into ninja-mode as I crept in the doorway of the open offices, hoping no one of the wrong sort saw me snooping around. I slipped into Ron's office and was thankful when I saw him sitting alone at his desk, looking quite troubled. He gave a start when he looked up and saw me there. I sat down before he could object, and I immediately said quite bluntly, "What would you like to know?"
"You're sure...?" Ron asked me uneasily as if I would rat myself out.
Oh, yes, I'd do that to myself. I'd throw myself under the bus. I'd risk my job and any good, future references for a job ever again. Yes, I'd run right to Peakes and shout happily, 'Hey, Peakes! I just told Ron Weasley all about my role in the case and everything about his daughter.' Yes, wonderful plan.
I would do that why....?
Actually, thinking all of that just now nearly made me want to rise and leave the office without a word. What was I doing?
"Of course," I finally said. "Assuming you're not going to rat me out?"
"Wha - " he spluttered. "Of course not! Ted, I just want to know if my daughter is okay. And if you actually think she may have had a part in this."
"She's okay, no worries there, Ron. I haven't been Egypt this entire time. I've been living with her. Scorpius Malfoy is still in confinement here at the Ministry, but higher up people have reason to believe that - due to Malfoy's family - he may have actually been a part of this somehow. But because of the family Rose comes from, being you and Harry, the freaking savior of our entire world, they have a higher initiative to believe that her DNA finding could have just been an awful mistake or she was framed. Seems biased to me, but what can you do? So a break-out was simulated for Rose. John Ruckman came and pretended to break us free of confinement here and he took us to his summer house. Of course, this is all clarified with the Wizengamot and further authorities. Everyone inside on the case knows about it; it's just Rose that believes we have been broken out to keep safe for fear of angry witches and wizards who want to avenge their Minister or some shit like that. But anyways, we couldn't breakout just Rose. Malfoy had to come too, but I just told you he's still here. So, Peakes is kinda taking advantage of my metamorphmagus abilities. He's having me pretend to be Malfoy at the cottage with her. So it's been just the two of us for the past two weeks, and she thinks I'm Malfoy. This is good and bad. I know for a fact that they didn't work together on it, and so far she has been playing the innocent role. I don't think Rose could ever do anything like that, and her actions agree with that. I think things will be fine. It will just take some time to get to the bottom of this."
"Wow. Peakes is having you do that?" Ron asked. He seemed somewhat appalled by it, as if he didn't believe me. His face contorted into this weird, concentrated look, and his skin went a little purple as he made an odd noise. "That's...genius, but mad."
"I know. I understand why. There's so much I can find out being on the inside like this, but I feel like I am completely breaking Rose's trust. If she finds out its me, she won't ever trust me again," I shook my head and felt distressed with myself. The more I thought about it, the more I wished I had quit my job before I was assigned the case. I really was breaking this invisible code of trust between Rose and I.
Yes, we were never truly close. We have only ever had - maybe - six conversations with just the two of us. All have been great, but I never took the time to know her to the full capacity like I know James and Albus. But even if I didn't know here on that level, there was this mutual understanding that there would be this level of trust between us. Just like I could put my trust into Louis, or Lucy. Hugo, Molly. Any of the Weasleys. I look after them, and I would do anything for them.
"Well, let's not worry about that," Ron tried to say encouragingly. I knew he meant well, and it was nice. But with his words, I just felt like he was somewhat beating around the bush. Ron was never good at the whole encouragement front. It was always a little awkward, and the words were never as deep as the inside ran. "It may be she doesn't have to find out. If she does, I'm sure she will forgive you. She would understand that you had to do it for your job."
"Thanks. I hope so," I said weakly, but I then didn't wish to address that subject in any way after that. "But that's my part in the case thus far, and I just found out that they will need Rose at the Wizengamot in a few weeks. So I'll take care of that then."
"That's good," said Ron. I didn't really know what classified as 'good,' but hey, if he thinks it's good, then that's bloody wonderful. "It sounds like you have everything under control."
It may seem like that on the outside, and for that I was glad. But on the inside, I was having a raging tantrum. I had to question my every move, ask myself if I was remaining within my character, if Rose would forgive me when she found out, if I was living up to Peakes' standards. My insides were now a constant mess of things these days. I couldn't wait for the end of this case. So if I was appearing calm and controlled on the outside, then that was brilliant.
Everything else on the inside was a chaotic mess.
"Apparently," I huffed and wiped my palms on my jeans. I rose to leave, knowing I couldn't pass off pretending to hide in my room at the summer house for much longer. I said goodbye to Ron before apparating out of his office and directly into my bedroom at the cottage.
I kind of stumbled as my feet hit the floor, and I steadied myself, straightening my clothes and beginning to hum to myself. I hardly noticed anything was amiss as I began to strip my jeans from my body. It was only when I had gone to my dresser when I noticed that the music from the enchanted player was no longer running. It was quiet within the room. I turned and found the door to the bedroom open.
In my boxers, my mouth dropped in confusion. I blurted out as I bolted to the dresser, yanking it open, "Fuck!"
Not knowing where Rose was, I made my quickest effort in shifting back into Malfoy's appearance. As I felt my hair change in length and my height shrink slightly, I stumbled into the jeans that fit Malfoy's height. I buttoned them and zipped the fly, pulling my shirt back down, and I burst into the hallway. As I entered, I tried to calm myself. As long as Rose hadn't seen me apparate into the room in my own appearance, perhaps I didn't have too much to worry about. Sure, my door was open, but perhaps I could pass off the lie that I had been outside. Not in my room that she must have opened the door to, found I was not in there, and shut off the music. And hopefully she didn't hear me apparate into the room.
With my head popping into the hallway, I kept my eye out for Rose. I asked in a worried tone, "R-Rose? You there?"
I didn't hear her, so I stepped fully into the hall. I entered the living room and found it empty, so I turned back into the hall and made my way towards her bedroom. The door was shut, so I assumed that was where she was, but the noise I heard within it was what surprised me the most.
It was Rose's voice, and at the sound of her first few words, a crash followed. Some object within the room must have been falling, and her words grew frantic. I could hear her quick, heated breathing, and immediately worried, I bolted to her door and pressed my ear against it.
"P-Please!" she gasped. "You don't u-understand. I'm doing my best. You have to believe me!"
I heard something else coming from within the room. I was certain it was a second voice, but as to whose it was, I had no idea. Maybe it was Lysander; that was the only logical explanation. His voice was muffled, and I could determine neither the words nor if the voice belonged to Lysander. I pressed harder, my hands playing out over the wood of the door. I could no longer hear him speak, but I heard a stumbling within the room, a grunt, and then Rose sounded as if she were truly terrified. "Stop! Please stop! I promise! Stop, you're hurting me!"
I swallowed in fear and didn't wait a moment longer. She sounded horrified, and if she was claiming she was being hurt, then I wouldn't stand for that. "Rose?!" I blurted out loudly, making my presence known.
The voices within the room stopped, there was some fumbling around, and I asked again, "Rose?! Rose, are you all right?"
No reply came, but more noises that represented scrambling around sounded. "Rose, answer me!" I demanded.
I got no response once again, and I backed away from the door. I demanded a response two more times before I stated loudly, "Rose, say something or I'm going to break down this door!"
I heard a crack that sounded an awful lot like apparation, and I decided against waiting a second longer. I backed away from the door and prepped up my right leg. I took a big step forward and rammed my right foot into the door. It fell with a loud noise and wood splinters scattering about. With the door down, I bolted into the room and found Rose rising from her bed. She was shaking and had her arms wrapped around her body. I fell short on my journey to reach her, surprised at the sight of her, but I finally managed to come to a stop in front of her.
"R-Rose?" I stuttered and gingerly touched her elbow. She made a terrified squeal and scampered away from me. "Rose, what the hell was going on in here just now?"
I was honestly worried for her. I had no idea what had just gone down, but she had sounded genuinely scared. Therefore, I believed I wasn't overreacting. Malfoy wouldn't want her to be physically hurt in anyway; he wasn't a devil spawn like that. So I assumed I didn't have to worry about remaining in Malfoy's character.
She said nothing. She only continued to rub her arms, her eyes glued to the wooden floor as she paced her room. I swallowed in worry and prompted again. "R-Rose? Answer me."
"I-I'm fine," she managed.
"Who was in here just now?"
"No one," she tried to pass off. I wasn't that stupid. She was lying right to my face.
I followed in her footsteps, and seeing her fear made it hard for me to stay in Malfoy's character. "Don't lie to me," I pressed. Demanding the truth. Sure, that sounded pretty Malfoy-ish, right?
"I was napping," she commented. I glanced to her bed to verify this alibi. Indeed the covers were a mess, but this didn't mean she had been certainly napping. "I had a bad dream."
I caught her arm and spun her to face me. Under her right eye, a small welt was forming, and as much as she tried to play it off as a nap, fear had instilled itself within her. I was getting aggravated with her lies. There was no reason for her to lie to me. If she told me the truth, I could help her. I wanted to help her, and Malfoy certainly didn't despise her enough to not want to do the same.
"Tell me the truth," I said in a low voice. We both stood still. She was still hugging her body to her and staring at the floor, but I had to make some sort of progress in making her tell me. So I gingerly took her chin into my grasp between two of my fingers, and I lifted it so her gaze could meet mine. Her eyes were brimming with tears, and her lips trembled. I could feel my demanding exterior begin to diminish at the sight of her. Seeing her so weak and petrified worried me even further. I had to swallow the lump forming in my throat and shake my head to make sure I didn't lose face.
"Tell me the truth," I urged again in a mere whisper.
Her lips trembled, and no words were able to escape her throat. Her arms retracted from around her body, and in a split second, she was throwing them around my neck. I made a small noise of surprise, but I accepted it. I closed my mouth and patted the back of her head with one of my hands. The other wrapped around her back and pulled her close. I simply held her there as she attempted to regain her composure. Her arms were locked about my neck, and I was not expecting her to let go anytime soon.
I stroked her hair and uttered things of reassurance. It was when I felt her choking back tears against me did I have to gather my bearings once more. I felt the front of my shirt grow damp as she began to cry. Tough Rose. I had never seen her cry before. Uneasy, I put both arms around her and pulled her full against me. "Shh. It's all right," I managed. I rubbed her back and didn't know what else to do except to be there for her.
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