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Chapter 5 : innuendo, ballfoot and the collapse of a plan
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-Rose: the Penthouse, London.
Tuesday 19th October
I Apparated into a quiet corner of the lobby of the apartment block, and caught the lift up. Louis would never know! But I had to cut it out- my ribs felt like they’d been replaced with red-hot pokers.
I was in the middle of a massive, pain-filled coughing fit by the time the lift finished, and practically had to crawl into the apartment.
Everyone was sat around, waiting, and did a round of applause when I stumbled in.
“Blame him,” I said, kicking Hugo’s house of cards over. “He didn’t wake me up, and instead just left without me.”
“What was I supposed to do? Drag you out while you’re sleeping? You can’t Apparate and there was that bloke...” he trailed off suggestively.
“How long have you been up, Red?” Lucy carried on, “You’re not even dressed yet!”
I laughed along with them then threw my shoe at her.
Louis frowned. “I told you no-”
I threw my other shoe at him. “I didn’t sleep with him! I met the guy last night! Jeez, gang!”
I attempted to retain a professional air, but Dom stalked forwards, and threw herself dramatically onto a chair. “Now everyone is here,” she said, throwing me a look that would kill a lesser being. “I expect you’re wondering what last night was about.”
I resisted the urge to make a smart aleck remark- I was already in their bad books.
“The gargoyle we tried to get from Hogwarts was admitted into Gringotts yesterday morning,” she continued.
Lysander held up his hand, and Dom shot him a withering look. “What?”
“Have you lost your fucking mind?”
“Funnily enough, I seem to be in full control of my mental state, which is more than I could say for you,” Dom snapped.
Even across the room, I could smell Lysander’s perfume of stale booze.
“I’ll take over,” Lily said hurriedly, standing up. “Once upon a time, when Gringotts was purely for goblin use and goblin rebellions raged up and down Britain...”
I sank backwards into a chair. Lily was a fantastic storyteller- she could scare even Uncle Harry shitless on Halloween, and he’d killed Voldemort, faced off Dementors and half-successfully broken into Gringotts himself.
I don’t count blasting out of there on a dragon successful, just FYI. It rather draws attention to the fact you just broke into Gringotts.
Lily cleared her throat. “The goblins feared that the wizards would try to invade Gringotts, so as well as them employing the first curse-breakers and developing some of the more intricate and complicated early warding spells, they also built an escape route- they couldn’t guarantee their treasures safety against a full-scale wizard attack.”
She paused, checking we were all enthralled. We were- even Dom, and her middle name was ‘uninterested’.
“This escape route was a tunnel stretching through the middle of Gringotts, winding its way through the vaults and providing an easy getaway. But it was never needed- the wizards were too wary to mount an attack, and the goblins with their gold remained secure.
“The existence of this tunnel had remained a secret, forgotten and lost, until approximately 4am yesterday morning, when I found it on a 13th century schematic of Gringotts.
“I managed to locate the actual tunnel yesterday lunch time, pretending I doing a scheduled report of the area of vaults- now this tunnel is long, treacherous and dangerous, and I have no idea where it finishes. However, at one point, it runs directly underneath the vault of one Madeline Hemstitch. About three feet of solid stone in between us and inside.
“The passage now is flooded as well- the stupid Muggles drilled a borehole straight through it- and they also blocked off the outside end- which is the gate Rose unlocked last night.”
She paused. “Any questions?”
Lily took a bow, laughing as we burst into raucous applause.
We might actually have a shot at this, I thought, and I could see my glee reflected on everyone else’s faces.
“The plan is to blow a hole in the ceiling of the tunnel, therefore creating a hole in the floor of the vault,” Hugo said, waving us silent. “The only problem is the only thing this does is gets us past the security on the main floor and into the vault complex themselves. The vault we actually need to get into is a little way away.”
A ‘little way’ in Hugo-speak does not mean the same as when you or I say it.
Louis took the floor. “Now, I absolutely forbid Rose taking a main part in this- although we kind of do need her. Therefore, she’s basically in charge. She needs to pick and train someone to do her job, and she’ll be on coms the entire way, directing the whole team. We’re breaking and entering, and she’s gone and picked the worst possible time to be ill.”
It was a glowing report of me until then. But I didn’t have to do anything!
“But we’re going to keep another dry suit handy in case we do need Red,” added Hugo.
The job was taking place on Saturday night- in three days’ time. I was hoping to be super super organised so I could plan it all out and still go to Richie’s ballfoot match. Or whatever.
I had never been involved in the planning before, and it was exciting. I’d picked Lucy to be my replacement, and I taught her the basics of lock-picking. She was about my size, and as a Ministry-gal, she already knew the layout of Gringotts. I spent that night and the night after breaking into different places with her, making sure she got the hang of every door, window and rooftop. She also did yoga and was pretty confident she would make an alright grease-man.
For the team on the inside I also sent in Lorcan, James and Lily. I usually did break-ins with Lorcan- he’d be great for Lucy, Lily was needed for the traps and James was confident he could work the goblin’s carts.
Freddy was blowing up the floor, but I was keeping him back in the first vault, and Molly and Louis were back-up’s back-up at the entrance to the passage.
Vic was sitting this one out with me, so she and Hugo were on coms, while Teddy was collecting intel on the goblins which worked there.
Albus was making sure that no Muggle police came near our warehouse and disregarding the suspicious sounds coming from Roxanne’s flat- she was producing a wet-start explosive with the same principle as Filibuster’s Fireworks, and Lysander was globe-trotting in order to acquire what she needed.
Behind all of this was Dom and me- I never appreciated how much work she did before, co-ordinating our half-formed plans and gelling them effortlessly together. Together we worked out timings, equipment, and although she kept disappearing to make mysterious phone calls and Floo’ing to obscure locations which I was far too busy to comment on- leaving me to try to sift through the mess, it worked out fine.
-? The Ministry of Magic
The phone rang yet again, and the man lazily ushered his assistant out. After the door was shut tight, he picked up the receiver.
“It’s sorted. Your move,” the familiar voice said quickly.
He replaced it back in its cradle and steepled his fingers. It was his move- and he was going to make it a violent one.
-Rose: Greenpark Football ground.
Saturday 23rd October
Richie and I pulled up to the playing field and got out. The rest of his team were already there, warming up in a Slytherin green kit, which I managed not to point out.
“What’s your position again?” I asked.
“Midfielder,” he said with a grin. It must be at least the third time I’d asked him. And I still have no idea what a midfielder does. I am truly my mother’s daughter when it comes to sports.
“OY!” a voice bellowed. “GET YOUR ARSE OVER HERE, RICHARD!”
“Sorry,” he said, squeezing my hand. “That’s my captain. I’ve got to go.”
“That’s Scorpius Malfoy,” I said, my mouth open. “Since when did he play ballfoot?”
“It’s football,” he corrected with a sigh. “You know him?” he said, looking surprised.
“He’s a friend of my cousins, and I went to school with him. I know him relatively well,” I said, still shocked. Scorpius Malfoy and Muggle sports?
“You have a lot of cousins...” Richie said wonderingly.
I rolled my eyes. “You have no idea.”
Scorpius ran over. “RICHARD,” he bellowed, “GET YOUR ARSE INTO GEAR- Rose?”
“Hello,” I said icily.
“Hey... erm, Richard, go... go do some warm-ups.”
Richie kissed me on the cheek and ran off. Scorpius shuffled his feet.
“You play football?” I said casually.
“Don’t tell my dad. You watch football?” he said, equally suave.
“Evidently...” Ah, I’ll just come clean. “No. I’m just here for Richie.”
“Rose,” he began, jamming his hands into his pockets. He carefully looked around. “Listen, I heard about the Hogwarts disaster,” he said, abandoning all attempt at small talk.
“I’m not surprised, seeing as it was you who got the Fraternity in, as revenge,” I said, staring him down.
“Well, Albus said he very nearly got killed, so don’t you think I would have tipped off my best mate?” he snarled.
I merely shrugged.
“When Albus told me, I already knew. A memo was left on my desk at the Ministry.” He paused, and I noticed a sheen of sweat on his brow. “Red, someone is onto you.” He began to talk quickly. “There’s no reason for someone to tell me about it- I don’t even work in the Auror or Crime Departments. I’m a pen-pusher for Sports. But this was addressed to me. Personally. Someone is onto you- onto us.”
I snorted. “You’re just paranoid.”
“I’m not. Tell Albus this, and no-one else. Not Hugo, or Dom. You don’t know who you can trust.”
“So why do you think you can trust me?” I asked. If Scorpius was right, he should really keep his suspicions to himself. Unless he is double-bluffing and trying to cover his tracks?
“You’re...” he hesitated. “You’re honest.”
He sounded sincere, but that was the stupidest thing he could say. “I’m a thief, Scorpius. I’m lying to Richie, I lie to my parents, I lie to my boss.”
“You know what I mean,” he said, shivering suddenly. “Enjoy the game. Oh, and if you want some advice- stay away from Richie.”
“You are not the first girl he’s brought to football, and you won’t be the last.”
“I met him four nights ago. I’m not going to marry the guy!” Images of me in a wedding dress, get the hell out of my head.
He held up his hands. “I’m just saying that if you want anything that will last longer than tomorrow morning, Richie is not the bloke for you.”
He jogged off backwards, eyebrows raised. Smarmy git. He could take that football-thing and shove it- my murderous thoughts were cut off by my phone ringing.
“Rose?” someone croaked.
“Bogeyman?” I answered, checking the caller ID. It was Lucy, being an arse.
“When was the last time you cooked something?”
Richie waved to me and I cheerily waved back. He pointed at Scorpius, who was walking shakily back, running his hand through his hair. What have you done to him? he mouthed, and I stuck my tongue out in return.
“Just answer the damn question,” Lucy coughed, and I heard her spit. Gross.
I struggled to remember. “Wednesday? No, Tuesday. I’ve been living out of a takeaway box, I haven’t had time to eat my greens. Why?”
I held the phone away from my ear as a heaving sound crackled down the line. “We’re ill.”
“We’ve been poisoned,” she groaned. “We’re all upchucking, it’s disgusting, I managed to get to the toilets to call you, you...”
A bout of retching cut off her no doubt colourful insults.
“Are you okay?” I asked worriedly.
“Dandy,” she half-snarled. “The Healers don’t think its life-threatening, but Louis got it too. Listen,” she croaked, “Get to our houses and ditch all the food. We don’t need anyone poking around our houses.”
“Where are you?” I asked.
“St. Mungo’s, they’re trying to cure us.” Lucy said. “Look, I’ve got to go.”
“As soon as I’m done, I’ll come over,” I said, attempting a sympathetic tone.
I glanced back at the pitch. They hadn’t started the game yet, and then I saw the reason. Scorpius was kneeling on the side-lines, his body racked with shudders.
I quickly relieved three confused guys of babysitting duty, telling them that I’d take him to hospital.
“There’s a lot of these bugs going around at the moment,” I called, steering an ashen-faced Scorpius away. Richie looked less than happy, and I wasn’t best pleased either. I hadn’t actually been able to have a good time with him without being spirited away.
“I feel like shit,” Scorpius groaned.
“You’ve been poisoned,” I said matter-of-factly.
He swore. “It wasn’t me who tipped off the Fraternity!”
“And it wasn’t us who poisoned you,” I said, rolling my eyes. “If we were going to have revenge, we’d steal your cat or something.”
“Bitch, don’t you dare steal my cat.”
I didn’t even know he had a cat.
“Promise you won’t vomit on me?”
“I’m going to Apparate to St. Mungo’s,” I said, leading him behind a bike shed, away from Muggle eyes.
Not one word about what goes on behind bike sheds.
He let go of my supporting arm as another bout of retching took over. “No promises,” he said weakly.
“This is why I wasn’t a Healer,” I said, earning myself a rare smile.
But he did look really pathetic and a bit like a lost Golden Retriever puppy. I’ve really thought that simile through. He has the right eyes; big and brown.
I turned on the spot, dragging him with me.
-Rose, St. Mungo’s
We apparated together straight into the foyer, and the Welcome Witch on the front desk took one look at the pair of us and passed me an inter-Apparition token. Apparating between wards in Mungo’s was impossible unless you had one of the special tokens; an invention of Professor Longbottom’s. Once he had become Headmaster of Hogwarts, he thought up a way to allow teachers to Apparate within the school boundaries, and since then it spread into most public buildings.
“They’re on the second floor,” she said, wincing at Scorpius’ pained expression. “Magical Bugs and Diseases.”
“Please hurry up,” Scorpius moaned.
I grasped the blue wooden star and his arm and Disapparated again.
The second floor staff were not happy that I added another to their already extensive list of patients. I helped Scorpius into a bed and found him a bucket, trying to ignore the death glares of everyone else.
Scorpius? they mentally screamed at me. Scorpius?
They looked terrible. We were seriously going to have to reconsider the plan for tonight. Dom looked awful, a witch with a round face was holding back her hair for her. Teddy was sat next to Vic’s bed, holding her hand as she coughed into a bowl, her other hand caressing her stomach.
“When will they be okay again?” I asked Healer Harrington, a tall, kind-faced wizard.
He grimaced. “We don’t know what has caused this yet, Miss, and therefore we can’t find a cure. All we can do is try to make them as comfortable as possible. Our usual techniques don’t seem to be working.”
With these sombre words, I left. A witch had come to look after Scorpius, so I walked along the corridor to the lift- the token was only good for one use.
-? St Mungo’s
The man had come to gloat. There was no way he would be recognised, and he had been gratified that nearly all the Clan had been incapacitated. At the very least, they would have to delay their Gringotts break-in. And all he needed was time.
And if a couple of them died along the way, then he wasn’t going to waste a tear. It would have been nice to see it through to the end with all of them, but maybe staggering their downfalls would make a larger impact? Increase the feeling of helplessness?
As he strolled along to the lift he took out his leather bound notebook and a pencil, writing in his new idea in his perfect calligraphy. He stepped inside and pressed the ground floor. The doors started to close.
“Sorry, can you just stop the lift?” a woman’s voice called out, and instinctively he pressed the ‘open doors’ button.
A breathless witch with curly red hair dashed in. “Thank you so much,” she said, hitting the ground floor button, and flashing him a smile.
“It’s Rose Weasley, isn’t it?” he said after a second, marvelling at how calm he sounded. “I work with your parents.”
“Yes,” the witch said, another smile leaping to her lips.
“They’re not ill, I trust?” he said, feigning concern.
“Not them, but my cousins and brother are,” she said, shrugging it off. “One of those bugs going around.”
The lift ground to a stop on the first floor, and a bald man with his arm in a sling got in, nodding at the pair and shuffling to one side.
“I’m sorry to hear that,” he said, his voice measured.
“They’ll be better soon.”
“Well, sometimes these bugs are more harmful than you think,” he said, raising his eyebrows.
The lift reached the ground floor and they both stepped out, the man with a sling barging past.
“Goodbye,” Rose said, as she turned to leave. “I’m sorry; I didn’t catch your name?”
“Abner Carrow,” he said, and tipped his hat. “Nice to meet you, Rose Weasley.”
A/N: be honest, did you expect that? Review please! I love you all.
EDIT: sorted out the mess which was the way to get into Gringotts. Thanks to CambAngst for pointing it out, and also to NaidatheRavenclaw and SamMalfoy93/TheHeirOfSlytherin for helping me hash out something half-decent... hope you like Lily's story! :D
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