Chapter 7 : hospital, accusations and the Gringotts plan
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-Rose: St Mungo’s Hospital
Saturday 23rd October
I Apparated to the hospital as soon as I had taken the folder home and hidden it underneath my mattress. I’d spread the papers around so there wasn’t a noticeable bulge, and dry-swallowed a few painkillers to stop the aching in my ribs.
I took the empty lift up to the second floor, and James met me. “Did you clean out the food?” he asked in an urgent whisper.
“All done,” I told him. “Despite being interrupted by our dads.”
James rolled his eyes. “Nosey buggers.”
I decided against mentioning Lily’s folder- I remembered what Scorpius had said about not trusting anyone, but my stomach turned at the thought of one of my family betraying us. “What’s happened with Vic and Teddy?”
He paused. “It’s bad, Red.”
I pushed past him and into the hospital ward. The bed in the corner that Teddy occupied was surrounded by lime green screens and Vic’s was empty, the covers haphazard. Everyone else was sitting up, looking pale but nevertheless better.
I scanned the beds. Hugo looked fine- he was tucking into a McDonald’s Happy Meal, but Lorcan in the next bed looked nauseous at the fatty meat and limp fries. I saw Mum, and gave her a hug.
“What’s happening?” I asked in an undertone.
Her face was ashen. “Teddy’s worsened. They don’t know why,” she said in a whisper. “They’re doing all they can.”
My stomach clenched, and I thought I was going to be sick. “Where’s Vic?”
“With Teddy. She’s not as ill, but she’s in hysterics. The Healers are worried about the baby.”
Mum took a deep breath, calming herself. Her hair was coming out of its heavy braid, and I tucked a strand behind her ear for her. Dad came up, and embraced me.
“At least you’re not ill, Rosie,” he said, giving me a hug. “I don’t think the Healers could cope with one more.”
I excused myself when I saw Teddy’s grandmother coming over. I felt so guilty. I wasn’t even slightly ill and one of my best friends and closest family was seriously sick.
I saw Scorpius’ parents talking to Harry. Scorpius was throwing up still, set apart from everyone else, so I went over to him.
“How’re you holding up?” I asked, sitting on the end of his bed.
He spat into the bucket, and grimaced. “I’m fine,” he said shortly. “Richie texted me and asked you to call him.”
Crap. I’d forgotten all about Richie. Scorpius passed me his mobile from his bedside table, but I pocketed it. I’d call him later.
The ward was silent as we waited.
-Rose: St. Mungo’s
Sunday 24th October
I woke up, and panicked for a second, not knowing where I was. I sat up carefully. I was sleeping top to tail with Scorpius, and as I looked around the ward, I saw that our parents were mainly doing the same. Luna and Rolf shared one of the twin’s beds; Mum and Auntie Ginny were on borrowed mattresses on the floor, while Harry and Dad slept up against the wall, dark purple shadows under their eyes.
The light in the ward was pale and sickly, but as I squinted through the gloom, I saw Vic shuffling her way down in between the beds.
She was crying.
She passed me without registering that I was awake, and after I checked that no-one else was stirring, I carefully levered myself off the bed and followed her.
Vic walked into the toilets and as I entered, she was washing her face in the sinks, but as she splashed the water on her face, large, silent tears carried down rolling down her cheeks.
She saw me in the mirrors, and attempted a shaky smile. “Teddy’s okay,” she said, her voice choked with misery. “He’s going to be fine.”
I didn’t say anything.
“He’s going to be fine,” she repeated, as more tears fell. “Rosie... I’ve...”
I hugged her hard, wrapping my arms around her so tightly it must have hurt, but she grabbed me equally hard, her nails digging into my shoulders. She didn’t need to finish her sentence.
Her tears soaked into my ratty cardigan, and I gripped Vic even tighter. I didn’t need to say anything- and what could I have said? I’m sorry? They were just pathetic words that were used to often to mean anything anymore.
I was going to find the bastard who did this, and kill him.
A life for a life.
-Rose: the Penthouse
Wednesday 27th October
“You are not being serious.”
Dom looked at me incredulously, but I met her gaze calmly.
“Why wouldn’t I be?”
“Because, Rose, it may have escaped your notice, but the rest of us were just poisoned. We can’t pull this off.”
“I’ve got a plan.”
“Sweet Merlin, Rose! You plan one job, and now you think you’re invincible! We can’t do it. If this plan involves you walking in like Jason bloody Bourne and waltzing out with the gargoyle, then you’re insane. Life is not as easy as fiction.”
“Just listen to my plan.”
“Am I allowed to laugh?” she asked sardonically.
“On your own head,” I snapped.
I wanted to break into Gringotts. And what’s more, I think we needed to. Vic was still in hospital, blaming herself, and Teddy had gone back to work, refusing to see anyone. Louis was working overtime at the hospital, and everyone was doing what they could to find out what had happened.
Lorcan and Lysander were abroad, chasing up leads. Roxy was working on a sample of poison from our food, Molly and Lucy were researching at the Prophet and the Ministry, looking for similar cases and I’d told them about the threat Dad had received. Albus was testing out the Muggle links and thoroughly abusing resources...
I was a spare part. I felt like I couldn’t do anything to help- my skills were practical, not intellectual. I needed this, to make me feel like we were back on track.
Everyone needed this.
“It’s much the same as before,” I said, taking a deep breath. “Hugo and I worked this out. I’d only need me, James, Fred, Lily and... Scorpius.”
Dom stood up. “I’m leaving now. You’re an idiot.”
“I don’t think it was Scorpius who did this!” I shouted.
“You don’t think?” her voice, by contrast, was deadly quiet.
“Is that because you know who did?” Dom’s blue eyes bored into me, like twin chips of ice.
My heart skipped a beat.
Dom stood there, as bold as brass, accusing me.
I took a deep, shuddering breath. “Hear me out, Dom. We can do this.”
She passed a hand in front of her face. “I’m sorry. Take it from the top.”
The plan was simple, and hopefully effective.
“We’ll go in this Saturday,” I began. “The work shifts are the same as we planned, so we only have to worry about the one goblin between 5pm, when Gringotts shuts, until six, which is when they bring in the security troll. That’s our window.”
-Rose: Thames warehouse
Saturday 30th October
“Loud and clear, sis.”
Four pale faces half-grinned at me.
I felt exactly the same. That half-scared shitless and half-excited feeling, the adrenaline pumping through my body, my nerves on end and my mind racing.
My fingers tapped nervously against my dry suit leg. “Let’s go then.”
I strapped in my rucksack, and cast the Bubble Head Charm. Immediately, the world outside took on a pearly appearance, distorted by the oily surface of the bubble.
We were in the same warehouse that we had come to in order to pick the underwater lock, and the hole in the floorboard had been enlarged. All we had to do was follow the same underwater path I had taken, and go through the trapdoor into an underwater room directly below the vault.
Yes, I am aware that this sounds like a spy novel. It’s not. It’s criminal underworld.
Hugo sounded in my ear again. “When you’re ready, Rose.”
I tucked my wand into a side pocket of my rucksack, took a deep breath –out of habit rather than necessity- and jumped into the icy water. I immediately started swimming, registering the four splashes above me as the rest of them followed. I followed the string we’d laid down on the recce, and swam strongly, ignoring the protests of my ribs.
We were late. Freddy had swum ahead, and was placing the explosives in order to break through the vault floor, and if they didn’t go off at exactly five o’clock, then the explosion’s energy would be detected by the guard on duty.
Of course, it was highly logical that it still would be detected, but we were banking on the fact that the guards going off duty would be bored and not watching properly, and single goblin coming in would need a cup of tea/coffee/firewhisky to get him through his shift.
I sighed, not realising I had been holding my breath in anticipation, and glanced around. James looked unconcerned, but Lily was mentally counting seconds and Scorpius was chewing his lip nervously.
Freddy swam towards us quickly, his mouth stretched into a grin. “Done it!” he mouthed, and I relaxed in the water, glad that we weren’t late.
That relaxing probably saved my life, as we were suddenly all pushed backwards as the shock wave from the explosion sent waves through the water. I slammed into Scorpius, who had managed to grab hold of a rock sticking out of the roof, and I dimly saw Freddy crash into the floor, his mouth open in an O of pain, his bubble charm popped.
As soon as I had regained my senses, I grabbed Freddy’s arm, and helped him swim forwards. Scorpius grabbed his other arm, but I motioned for him to go back and check Lily and James. We broke the surface of the water, and I pulled Fred up into the shell-shocked vault, hardly pausing to glance around me.
I grabbed my wand and undid my own bubble enchantment with a wave.
“Are you alright?” I gasped, the fresh air tasting clean and new and so good.
We’d seriously underestimated the force of the explosion, and I could see a dark circle of blood blossoming from the back of Freddy’s head. I pulled off my dry suit, and cut off the arm with my wand, pressing it to the wound.
He looked at me groggily. “We can’t get blood everywhere,” I told him gently- but I felt like screaming at him.
“What’s wrong?” Dom said in my ear. “We’ve lost contact with Fred.”
“The explosion was too strong,” I said shortly. “Fred has hit his head and his bubble charm popped.”
“Dickhead,” scorned Hugo. He wouldn’t have said that if Freddy could hear.
I felt like agreeing, but Fred could hear me. Instead, I looked around me. The vault was large with a domed roof, and gleamed with a dull yellow light, as the gold piled high against the walls reflected the light cast by my wand tip.
Then Scorpius’ blonde head appeared, his wet hair plastered to his skull, followed by Lily and James, who looked fine.
“We just got pushed backwards,” James said, and started stripping off his dry suit. Lily and Scorpius followed suit.
We could move quicker without them on, although it would be uncomfortable to try to shove them back on while they were wet. Underneath we wore dark leggings and soft boots, with a long sleeved top. Lily and I had our hair screwed up into tight buns, out of the way- her eye make-up had run down her cheeks.
“Freddy can’t come with us,” James said in an undertone, pulling out his kit from his rucksack. “We’ll have to leave him here.”
I nodded. “I know.”
I turned to Scorpius. “Give me your earpiece.”
Our earpieces had been protected from the water by our bubble charms, but Freddy’s was now waterlogged and useless. I took Scorpius’ and passed it to Fred.
“Listen to us through this one, okay? If we tell you to get out, then get out. Try not to get blood everywhere, and please don’t hurt yourself more.”
Fred nodded. “Alright.”
I scanned the door. We needed to blow it open, but the piddly bit of explosive we had left would only work if we managed to stick it right on the locking mechanism. Which I had to find. Bear in mind, please, that this door is at least twelve foot across, and twenty feet high. But there are a lot of places which could hold the lock. Hell, the whole door could be the lock.
I carefully pressed my ear to the door. It was strange material, like metal and wood had been grown together. It was cold, and as I tapped it carefully, it gave off a hollow, slight booming sound. I moved around the door quickly- well aware for the need for speed as well as being as thorough as possible.
“There,” I said, pointing at the right hand bottom corner. The hollowness had been replaced by a quick thudding sound, and frankly, if I wasn’t right, then I would be quite happy to just leave. I was wet, cold, tired and I had stopped about three minutes ago to take some more painkillers. “Now, Freddy, do your funky stuff with this door.”
He swayed slightly as he stood, and then tottered over to the vault door, where I’d pointed. He spread this white, sticky substance over it- it looked like a cross between chewing gum and play-dough. It was a different type of explosive to our wet-start concoction- so it didn't get all set off at once.
He took a match, struck it, and grinned at us. “Stand back,” he said, as he retreated. We all ducked behind a pile of gold, and hunkered down. Because the last blast went so incredibly well. He threw the match at the door, and then with a tiny bang and a blindingly white flash of light, the door swung open.
“That was disappointing,” said James, as we emerged into the complex of Gringotts itself. He jerked a thumb back towards the vault, where Freddy had pillowed our dry suits and was looking contented, wisps of pearly smoke still lingering in the air.
Lily led us up along the cart tracks, where she had stored two carts especially for us. We hopped across the slippery wooden slats gingerly, but luckily no-one fell.
“Here,” she said unnecessarily, as we reached the dilapidated carts. The entire left side was missing, and its controls were rusted over. She saw our incredulous looks. “I swear it’s safe. No-one has died on it yet, anyway.”
“Yet?” Scorpius sounded less than happy as James clambered into the first cart, opening up his tool kit and balancing himself upside down, so his head was stuck underneath the controls.
Lily shot Scorpius a dirty look, and rolled her eyes at me. No-one was happy that Scorpius was here- in their minds, he was our traitor. The fact that we had a traitor was the elephant in the corner of the room- everyone knew it was someone, and there were half-veiled accusations and threats, but no-one talked about it openly.
It seemed like I was the only one who thought it wasn’t Scorpius- but they trusted me to get us through this, so they had let me bring him along. The success of this mission balanced on a knife edge.
Surprisingly, Lorcan was the most vehemently opposed to Scorpius’ inclusion. He had called me up from Rio, and hadn’t let me get a word in while he shouted. Mainly about how we can’t trust the “greasy slimeball son of a ferret”.
How Lorcan is Luna’s child, I will never know. She is one of the most laid-back people in the universe, but she has spawned the magical equivalent of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde.
James emerged from the bowels of the cart, covered in oil and grease. “All sorted,” he said. “Hop in.”
Lily clambered in front of James, Scorpius sat behind him, and then I wedged myself in behind him, holding his shoulders with my hands, which had turned into claw-like pincers.
I hate rollercoasters.
With a burning and slightly nauseous passion.
I held onto Scorpius as we hurtled through the halls- the empty cart behind us frequently bouncing high enough that I thought it would take us all to our doom. To Scorpius’ credit though, he didn’t say anything as I pinched his shoulders mercilessly. I was terrified.
We arrived outside the vault with a screeching of brakes and the carts trembling so much I thought they’d disintegrate. The door was short and fat and unassuming- three people could walk through it side-by-side easily. The Fraternity’s vault.
I got out of the cart shakily, my knees threatening to buckle. “Okay,” I said, rubbing my hands. “Remind me what we’ve got here, Lils.”
“The dragon is just around the corner, and there should be a unmanned patrol coming past on the carts in eight minutes, so we need to be inside the vault by then, or they’ll pick up on our presence,” Lily began, counting the hazards off on her fingers. “This door has all the basics; colloportus, goblin’s touch...”
I closed my eyes as she rattled off the list. I hadn’t actually got a plan. I was hoping for inspiration when I got here, but I was feeling less than inspired, and the occasional gusts of hot dragon breath were not helping my concentration.
James went to get off the cart, but it grumbled in protest. “Sorry guys, I’m going to have to stay with the cart,” he said. “The old girl has nearly worked out I’m not a goblin.”
“It’s not a person,” Hugo said in my ear, eavesdropping. “Any ideas, Red?”
And then, suddenly, I had it.
I grabbed Scorpius’ hand, and told Lily to wait with James.
“I’d rather have you on this side,” I told her, and then I stroked my index finger down the goblin’s groove- the indent down the middle of the door which unlocked it.
Faster than I could blink, Scorpius and I were sucked through the door, and spat out on the other side like undigested meat.
We were in.
Getting out though, now that might pose a problem.
A/N: reviews are always appreciated :D
And credit for Jason Bourne to Robert Ludlum. Great films, but I've never plucked up the courage to read the books :)
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