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Chapter 22 : Chapter XXII: Showdown
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It consumed her.
Evie’s head throbbed as she blearily opened her eyes. Her vision was blurred and she blinked a few times before it became clearer. Everything ached. Her side felt completely shattered and her ankles and wrists hurt. When she tried to move them, she found that she couldn’t. She grimaced. Slowly moving her head to her feet, she saw ropes binding her to something. A quick inspection of her wrists showed the same predicament. She was trapped.
Evie felt sick. She groaned as her stomach seemed to flip and turn, making her nauseous. Her heart was beating unusually fast as the fear quickly crept up on Evie. Where was she?
At this, the memories of the night came flooding back. The archives. Her father. The Hunter. She swallowed a gasp. Dread hit her like a ton of bricks.
Evie tried to look and see where she was. She seemed to be suspended in mid air, bound by thick ropes which kept her in place. Looking round, she saw the huge fountain and marbles archways which belonged to the main hall of the Ministry. Her gaze finally settled on two men. Fear settled in her stomach and her eyes widened. The Hunter was standing there alongside Hector Mutegi. They were smiling.
Hector looked calm and composed as he smiled, his black eyes glittering. Whilst the Hunter towered over Hector his presence was not nearly as intimidating. He looked smart and refined with crisp emerald green robes lined with what seemed to be expensive jewels. He looked every inch the dictator. He spoke.
“Miss Archambeau, welcome.” His voice sounded rich and captivating.
Evie found it within herself to reply. “That’s not my name.” Her vocal chords sounded scratched and raspy, but she willed herself not to crack. Hector merely continued to smile.
“Come now, you and I both know that isn’t true. After all, you did come here with the intent of finding out about your true birth parents, did you not?”
This threw Evie. How did they know that she was here in the first place? Were her defences not as strong as she originally thought? Hector laughed at the confusion that crossed Evie’s face as she thought.
“Our Auror team saw you the moment you arrived. After your little stunt at Mr. Potter’s abode, we couldn’t have you running amok now Evie, could we? Of course we’ve invested in the very highest security systems we could devise. I’m afraid your attempts at remaining undetected were rather poor. A magical face mask, wasn’t it? I could pick those up in a joke shop.”
“If you knew I was here, then why didn’t you come and catch me?” Evie finally asked. She tried to not let the tremor in her voice show.
“I thought it were best to let the events... play out,” Hector said. He clasped his hands behind his back and continued to smile pleasantly. “It all worked out rather well for us, don’t you think?”
Evie couldn’t help but agree. The Ministry had her right where they wanted her. The Hunter smirked at her lack of answer. He was twirling his wand absent-mindedly between his fingers. Hector spoke once again. “Now, Evie, do you know why you’re here?”
“Let me take a wild guess: because I’m a Squib? Because I’m worthless to society? I’m sure you treat all of us like this,” Evie answered hotly. She felt the anger boiling up inside, mixing with the fear. Hector looked shocked at her answer.
“Of course not, my dear girl! Do you really think we give people of your kind the courtesy of being allowed to talk before they die? To try and worm their way out of it? No. We dispose of them without a second thought. You, Miss Archambeau, are special.”
“My name is NOT Archambeau,” Evie growled. “It’s Hart. And please, do enlighten me as to why I’m here if my guess is wrong.”
“You are here, Miss Archambeau, because of your parents. You are unique; a hybrid that the wizarding world has not seen before.”
“Cut the crap and just tell me.”
The boldness of her words surprised even Evie herself. Hector raised his eyebrows and the Hunter took a step towards Evie, a murderous glare etched onto his face. Hector stopped him with one hand raised, his gaze trained on Evie. She felt uncomfortable at the intensity of his soulless black eyes.
“Very well. It is time you knew about your father, and exactly who he was.” Despite her predicament Evie couldn’t help but feel interest at the mention of her biological father. She was finally going to find out the truth.
“Your father was a very famous man, Evie Archambeau. His name was Jeremy Whyte. He was born into a muggle family with no previous signs of magical ability, and showed no exemplary skills within the usual allotted time of magic presenting itself. Your father lived his normal muggle life, until when he turned twenty seven. It was at this age that magic presented itself within him.”
Evie mind was already running through a thousand questions. Noah had told her the usual age for a wizard or witch to demonstrate magical abilities was at a young age, maybe four or five – so why was her father so late?
Hector seemed to read her mind. “Your father’s sudden magical ability remains unexplained. It is, shall we say, a natural phenomena. There has never been such a recording, then and since.
"Your father met your mother, Julianna Archambeau, who belonged to a pureblood family dating back centuries. It was a tale of the princess with the beggar boy. Their rather fleeting love affair produced an unwanted outcome: you.” Evie narrowed her eyes, but made no further reaction, ignoring the pain in her stomach. She didn’t want him to get the better of her. All the while the Hunter continued to pace, and Hector kept his focus on Evie. “You were shown to be a Squib, but instead of your mother handing you over to the Ministry as is protocol with Squib babies, she decided to take her chances and run. She did well, too. We didn’t know you existed until you showed up right under my nose.”
“So what has this got to do with me? I’ve shown no magical ability. I’m a Squib, remember?” Evie couldn’t control the bitterness that showed through. Hector smiled once more, but this time with intent.
“You, Evie, are the key to the Ministry’s dreams.”
Evie’s understanding stopped at this point. Her eyebrow raised and she contemplated what on earth he could possibly mean. At this point, Hector turned on his heel and started walking towards the giant statue at the centre of the Ministry.
“Your father showed magical ability aged twenty-seven. Your mother showed hers at the age of six. According to genetics, you will begin to show the same magical ability in the near future, if you haven’t already.”
Evie felt her heart stop for a second. Her? Magical? Her mind raced through all of the strange occurrences that had happened ever since she turned seventeen. Hector must have seen her alarm. “Have you ever had something strange happen that you couldn’t explain, Evie? Perhaps you were angry, or scared?”
“No,” was her reply. “No, I haven’t.” He mustn’t know the truth.
Hector turned abruptly towards her. “You’re lying,” he called out from across the hall. “I can see it in your thoughts.”
Evie didn’t understand how it was possible, but kept silent. She tried to show an air of nonchalance, but felt as if she were failing miserably at it. If he could read her mind, did it matter?
Her chest was heaving at all the new information. She was magical. Did this mean she wasn’t truly a Squib? Evie suddenly remembered that he said he could read her mind, and so tried her best to keep her mind as blank as possible.
“I’m afraid that it isn’t all peaches and cream, however,” Hector added carelessly, continuing to pace. The Hunter watched him, still smirking. “I’m sure that whilst you were in the archives, you saw that your father’s official cause of death was a boating accident. The reality is actually very different. Poor Jeremy couldn’t handle the sudden influx of magical powers to his system. His condition began to rapidly deteriorate, until he died less than six months later. It was a national tragedy – your father was quite a favourite with the papers. But you, Evie, have an advantage that your father didn’t – a pureblood mother.”
It hit her. Evie suddenly understood why she was here.
“You want to use me. My magic.”
“You do catch on ever so quickly,” Hector beamed as if he were applauding a small animal for performing a trick. “Yes, we wish to use you, or more specifically, your blood. The things we could do...”
A new wave of fear washed over her. “And what is that exactly?” Hector stopped his pacing and paused to look at Evie. She cringed under his glittering gaze.
“You really want to know?”
“We can create a new breed of wizards, so powerful that the rest of the world will be begging for mercy.” Hector smiled serenely once more, the look jarring with the venom dripping from his voice.
Evie gasped out loud at this. A new race with her blood would mean... “Their powers would increase!”
“Correct. The theory has been tested and it has been proven that if we mix your blood with those who are magical, they will become stronger. We will be able to bring the muggles to their knees and we will be able to stop hiding once and for all. Our race will become the most supreme on the planet. Don’t you want that, Evie? For the greater good of our kind?”
Her response was instantaneous. “You’re crazy. There’s something seriously wrong with you. You’re messed up!”
At this, Hector laughed out loud, his entire body shaking with mirth. “No, Evie. I merely wish to right what had been wronged since the existence of man. We are instinctive creatures, you know – and our instinct is to survive. You are how we will achieve it.”
“No!” Evie cried, struggling at her bonds. The Hunter snarled at her as she kicked and pulled with all her might. “I’ll never help you! I won’t do it!”
“Who said we needed your permission?” Hector asked. His smile had disappeared. “I am a man who always gets what he wants, Miss Archambeau. Always.”
The two began to inch ever closer. Evie tried to mask her fear with the hatred bubbling in the pit of her stomach. “Well I suppose there’s a first time for everything, Mr. Mutegi.”
She had overstepped the line. Hector practically flew towards her, grabbing a fistful of Evie’s hair. She cried out in pain. “You Squibs are pathetic. Thinking you know better than those who are superior! You fools didn’t even notice the undercover Auror we sent!”
It was true. Evie didn’t need to know who it was – Eden had betrayed them. She was never one of them in the first place.
At this point, a window smashed and a screaming blonde figure came soaring through it, landing on her feet with incredible finesse. Hector and the Hunter whipped round to look at the intruder – it was Eden.
“Ah, speak of the devil!” Hector was back to the pleasant smiles and open arms. “I was just telling Miss Archambeau about your rather fascinating role in the little group of hers.”
Eden quickly looked over at Evie with guilt written all over her face, to which Evie narrowed her eyes in response. She would never trust her again.
“It doesn’t matter about that, Hector,” Eden replied coolly. Her wand was raised, pointing directly towards the Hunter. “What matters is that I’ve learnt what’s wrong and what’s right in this world. You were wrong about everything!”
“Then please enlighten me as to how I was wrong, Miss Mallaby.” Hector waited patiently for a response. Eden looked positively murderous.
“The Squibs are good people! They aren’t like what you tell to everyone, with your miserable lies and deceit. They’re humans, just like us, and you’ve persecuted them until there’s nothing left! They were never the aggressors, they were the defenders!”
With this, Eden shot a spell at Hector, but he produced a shielding charm so quickly that it bounced off and flew to the ceiling, sending shattered glass to the floor. All Evie could do was watch helplessly and attempt to shield herself from the raining glass as a duel began between Eden and the Hunter, who had instantly sent a curse flying in Eden’s direction at her initial attack. Hector simply stepped back and watched the two fight to the death, curses and spells flying in all directions.
Evie thought about what Eden had said. Was she simply trying to cover herself? She highly doubted it as Evie was the one tied up and not the other way round. That left her with one conclusion: she truly meant it.
A small flicker of hope sparked in Evie’s heart. However, it was soon distinguished in a matter of seconds. Eden shot a final spell at the Hunter, who collapsed on the ground, motionless. Her cry of triumph was short lived as Hector’s smile vanished.
He raised his wand and cried, “Avada Kedavra!”
Eden crumpled to a heap on the floor, dead.
Tears sprang to Evie’s eyes as she took in the scene before her. Her heart seemed to stop. “No!”
She thought that seeing Adam’s body was bad enough, but seeing someone she had believed in and fought for killed right in front of her brought on a new level of emotion that Evie didn’t know she had in her. She began to cry silently, lamenting the loss of the woman who could have helped Squibs in the battle for freedom. A sob escaped her lips. Hector turned his attention to her. His cool composure was now lost.
“Enough of this!” he cried, reviving the Hunter quickly. He looked groggy and disoriented as he stood shakily on two feet. Evie felt a small surge of bittersweet happiness that Eden had managed to defeat him in her final moments as the tears continued to roll down her cheeks.
The two men advanced on Evie. She tried to struggle but to no avail; the bonds that held her seemed to only become tighter. The Hunter conjured several vials and some sort of IV drip before Evie’s eyes. She began to struggle even harder, shying away from the objects, snarling as if she were a wild animal.
“As I was saying, Miss Archambeau, I always get what I want.” Hector stood in front of her, where she could see the depth of his onyx eyes. There was not a hint of mercy in them. “I will have your blood for my own. Emerson, if you please.”
The Hunter grinned manically at Evie before lifting the sleeve of her top up. He readied the drip and went to attach the needle. Evie closed her eyes, preparing herself for a long and drawn out death.
There was a huge explosion.
Evie heard Hector scream as the bonds that were keeping her magically imprisoned disappeared. She fell to the ground before being covered in a giant wave of rubble and dust, large chunks of debris assaulting her being over and over again until she was buried. Then, there was silence.
“EVIE!” a voice roared, echoing off of the walls. Evie feebly attempted to open her eyes and move, but found that she couldn’t. The voice continued to call for her, getting more and more frantic. It was getting closer. A small part of Evie’s brain recognised that the voice belonged to Noah. Her hand fluttered upwards, her fingers moving out of the rubble.
Large, strong hands encased her own and she was hoisted out of the rubble. Her eyes stayed closed, wondering whether this was all a dream. Am I awake? Am I even alive?
“Evie, no, please wake up, please, I’m sorry about everything, I really am, just please wa-“ Noah stopped mid-rant as Evie’s eyes gradually opened. She looked at him blearily, smiling at the relief on his face. She groaned in pain. Evie felt herself be set down so she could stand, and found herself in Noah’s arms.
“Noah,” she whispered, “I’m sorry.” It was all she could manage for now as she rested her head against his chest. She felt safer than she ever had before. Noah tilted her chin up to face him.
“I’m sorry too. Although doing all of this really wasn’t a good idea you know,” he chuckled. “We could have helped.”
“No, this was something-“ Evie started weakly, but Noah silenced her with a gentle caress of her cheek.
His smile softened. “I’m going to do something that I’ve wanted to do for a very long time, Evie.”
With a final smirk, Noah brought his lips down to Evie’s in the sweetest kiss she thought she’d probably ever have, mixed with the confusion and anguish of watching her friend die. Evie felt torn as his lips moved against hers in a dance of love and passion.
Their time was short-lived. Evie and Noah broke apart at the sound of a groan, with the faint echo of distant alarms setting in. An arm emerged from the rubble accompanied by a body as Hector and the Hunter emerged from the chaos.
“We need to go,” Noah said hurriedly as he grabbed Evie’s hand and pulled her in the direction of the gaping hole that was a result of the explosion.
“How did you...?”
“No time to explain!” he called as the rest of the group came in to view. Each face showed determination mixed with fear. Xavier’s expression was unreadable. Behind them, several loud calls and footsteps could be heard. The Aurors were coming.
“Run!” Noah called out to them, and they took no haste in sprinting away from the scene. However, Evie was slowed down considerably by the pain in her side and lack of energy, so much so that she collapsed into a heap on the floor, hitting the cold marble hard. Blood filled her mouth as Robbie scooped her up and hoisted her over his shoulder with ease.
“We seem to do a lotta runnin’ these days,” he said wryly.
However, it seemed that the Aurors had learnt from their mistakes. Evie could soon see their forms hot on their heels, throwing their spells with renewed vigour. It was a sight to behold as the spells flew off and ricocheted off of the walls, bouncing around and creating shattering the walls as tiles and plaster began to rain down. Evie screamed as she saw a spell headed straight for her. Robbie quickly darted out of the way and the spell hit the wall, melting part of it away.
“GET THE GIRL!” she heard Hector scream, as the Hunter bounded towards them, faster and stronger than any of the others. His eyes were blazing with the thrill of the chase. He snatched forward towards Robbie, but fear seemed to motivate him to escape the Hunter’s clutches by mere millimetres.
In front of them, a large gate quickly dropped down in the middle of the tunnel, forcing them to stop. Issy wasn’t quite quick enough and slammed into the metal grill, crying out in pain. They quickly turned left, but the same thing happened. For the second time that night, Evie was trapped. There seemed little hope of escape. The group knew what they had to do: fight, instead of run. They readied themselves.
When the Aurors turned the corner, shots and spells were instantly fired, the sounds of cries and victorious yells. This setting had become all too familiar to Evie, who had her hand on the gun that she still had with her. She hesitated as she fingered the holster. An Auror saw her moment of weakness and sent a curse in her direction, which she quickly dodged. Her newly found reflexes were helpful in these situations.
Noah was sticking close to her, defending both her and himself as well as sending out attacking shots as often as he could. It was hard to see through the haze of smoke as the two sides battled relentlessly. Evie ducked and dodged her way through Aurors and those of her team alike, quickly pulling Issy out of harm’s way when an Auror nearly got the better of her. Issy quickly shook herself out of Evie’s grip and grunted a quick “thanks” before joining the fray once more. Robbie seemed to be holding his own with five Aurors on him at once. It didn’t matter. The more Aurors they took out, the more they seemed to be coming from every angle. Xavier seemed to be fighting a more personal battle with the Hunter, his lip curled back in sheer ferocity as he lunged at the equally huge man. They were soon grappling on the floor.
A strangled cry of pain made Evie whip her head round and see Noah fall to the ground, clutching his arm. A large burn had appeared, causing a red blistered mark to appear and begin to spread. Two Aurors closed in at once, sensing their prey’s weakness.
Evie realised that Noah had sustained the injury covering for her because she couldn’t do it herself. It was time for her to grow up and face the facts: she needed to look after herself if she wanted to survive in this world.
The comprehension gave her power. She approached the two men with her gun raised, and pulled back on the trigger slightly, hearing a click. As the Auror raised his wand with the fatal strike, Evie fired a shot into his foot. He crumpled to the floor, howling in pain. There was not time to contemplate. This was for Noah, for Eden, for Adam. Evie moved towards another Auror and promptly punched one in the stomach. He doubled over and sank to the ground, winded. She quickly elbowed the other in the face and heard a crack as he clutched his nose, howling. The onslaught of guilt threatened to overwhelm her, but she pushed it back. This was a matter of life or death. These men wouldn’t hesitate in killing her.
Out of the corner of her eye, she saw Hector Apparate away from the fight. She knew she would be seeing him again soon. Her hesitation cost her this time as she was hit with a stunning spell that sent her soaring into the air, landing on her front. Evie coughed and spluttered as she rolled over to face her attacker, tripping him over and delivering a blow to the head as she knocked him out. She thanked Eden silently for teaching her that move. She looked around her desperately. More and more Aurors were closing in as each member of the group looked increasingly panicked. Issy was suddenly bound in ropes and cried for help. Evie ran over to free her. Noah lay on the ground, trying to fight with his good arm, grimacing in pain. The amount of men that Robbie was fighting had since doubled and he had resorted to barrelling into them. The fight between the Hunter and Xavier was still going strong, but it looked as if the Hunter was winning.
“Stop! Everybody STOP!”
Evie flung round and was shocked to see Hector once more, who clearly only left to gain an advantage. He had returned to the midst of the fight and had grabbed the injured Noah, and was now holding a wand against his throat. Noah, despite being taller, struggled against his iron grip. His face twisted in pain as Hector had a hand on his burnt arm. “Now let’s just everybody calm down.”
The Aurors stopped what they were doing but retained their grips on the Resistance; they were trapped. Evie had nothing else to do but face Hector, whose glittering eyes bore into her.
“Evie, the answer is simple. I think we all know how much this... vermin here means to you. Give yourself up, and the boy goes unharmed.”
“No!” Noah yelled, but he quickly recoiled in pain as Hector gripped his injured tighter. A silent spell later and his voice was gone. Evie remained quiet.
“And if I don’t?” she answered, defiance in her eyes. Hector smiled.
“Well, plenty of this will happen.”
In an instant Noah was on the floor, writhing in pain and screaming. Evie looked on in horror; seeing someone being tortured never became familiar, but seeing Noah so powerless when he was normally her rock made something crack. A tear snaked down her cheek, followed by another as the Cruciatus curse was finally relented, leaving him panting and grimacing more than ever before. “The decision is yours, Miss Archambeau. Life, or death.”
Evie desperately thought of what to do, dropping her arms to her side and angrily wiping the tears away. It was pointless. They were vastly outnumbered. Her hand brushed against her pocket, revealing the orb that she had picked up on the archives. She didn’t know how she hadn’t noticed before, but it seemed to be pulsating, as if sensing the battle. She pulled it out of her pocket and saw that it had changed to an angry red colour, alive in her hand. It was getting hotter and hotter by the minute. Hector’s eyes widened as they took in the now threatening looking object. He seemed to know what it was.
As a last attempt, Evie threw it towards the Aurors.
The mother of all explosions erupted from the tiny orb, engulfing the entire corridor in flames. Everyone was thrown back several feet; Evie landed hard on the floor once more, blacking out for a second. Hector Apparated away immediately with several Aurors tried to do the same, but were blown away with the force of the explosion and were engulfed by the flames. Even the Hunter’s eyes were wide with fear. The group ran away from the flames as fast as they could, followed by the Hunter.
“This isn’t over!” he shrieked as he Apparated away whilst running, leaving the group alone and victorious.
The flames continued unremittingly until they made it into the main entrance of the Ministry. There they jumped into the water at the fountain and quickly dipped their heads under as the flames went right above them. Eventually, the giant explosion petered out, leaving the Resistance soaking wet and injured but alive. The chaos around them was unimaginable as Evie resurfaced; windows were smashed everywhere and several parts of the Ministry were on fire. It wouldn’t be long before the rest of the wizarding world arrived. Evie did a quick head count to check they were all there. They were. They’d done it.
Xavier was the first to speak as the silence hit them. “We need to move.”
Nobody argued with the instruction. Wounded and broken, they activated the Apparators and hastily disappeared.
A/N: Hopefully this has answered a lot of questions! The final chapter will come next week... be prepared!
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