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Chapter 11 : stories, marriages and being on the run- no plan.
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-Rose: Ford Abbey
Tuesday 21st December, 7pm
Louisa smoothed out the ruffles on her skirt in a huffy manner. The comparison had been annoying me for quite some time, and I finally realised that her dress reminded me of a layered tea cosy. An ugly layered tea cosy. Had her dog dressed her or something?
At the moment, Scorpius, Louisa and I were sitting at a small low sofa in her extensive bedroom. My knees were practically drawn up to my chin, but Scorpius and Louisa seemed perfectly at home. At least Scorpius had managed to stop Louisa calling for tea; I don’t think I could have coped with breakable china. Talk about culture shock. An hour ago, I was in a filthy cell. Now, I was staining Louisa’s chintz sofa with cell filth, trying to persuade the stupid cow not to snitch on us, and Scorpius had crushed my fingers when I tried to nick the wand out of his pocket- long thin things are really hard to steal- so I guessed that meant a memory charm was out of the question.
“Louisa,” Scorpius said, “We don’t want you to lie, we just don’t want you to tell the truth. I promise, everything will work out.”
Louisa’s hands were folded neatly on her lap, and Scorpius’ hands were covering them, as he leant forwards, intent on persuading her.
“How can you know that?” she demanded snobbily, her annoying little voice cutting into my headache like a knife.
“Because I’m a wizard,” Scorpius said patiently, “and we have special knowledge. Remember, I told you?”
Would you look at that poker face? He is giving nothing away. He could tell people the moon was made of cheese and they’d believe him.
Louisa rolled her eyes. “Yes, yes, yes, I know all that, Scorpius. I just don’t see how this will work out.”
Neither did I, but I didn’t think it was a perfect time to mention it. After all, I was a witch, and witches had ‘special knowledge’.
“Louisa,” Scorpius began again, the faints cracks of stress creeping into his voice. “Please.”
“Or we are convicted murderers,” I chipped in. “Who knows what we might do.”
Scorpius stamped on my bare foot, and I bit my tongue in pain, but Louisa’s small eyes opened wide.
“What are you suggesting?” she gasped, her voice cracking .
“I’m not suggesting, dearie, I’m threatening.” I managed to say, before Scorpius could interrupt. “Now, we need clothes, we need food, and we need you not to tell anyone we were here. Alright?”
She swallowed, and nodded, trembling. She was so spineless- but victory is victory, and it still tasted sweet.
Scorpius scowled at me, but didn’t object. I wasn’t surprised. It would be best for Louisa if she kept her mouth shut, and did it really matter why? I crossed to the wardrobe and started to flick through her clothes to find some for me. I grimaced. Louisa liked pastel colours far too much.
Scorpius had gone downstairs –stand on the edge of staircases, and stay close to the wall, I told him- to get food and blankets. I directed Louisa to find some clothes for Scorpius in his adjoining bedroom- I didn’t trust her too far from me. And the upper classes are weird. They were married, and had separate beds. In separate rooms.
I really hoped Scorpius didn’t snore.
It had occurred to me, several times in fact, to ditch Scorpius and make a run for it on my own. But I hated solitude, and if he had been caught, then I would feel immeasurably guilty. Two was better than one- but if it came to a straight chase, I would trip him over easily, and there was no doubt in my mind that he would do exactly the same.
And besides, his criminal contacts might come in useful, and it was highly likely that he had a couple of billion Galleons siphoned off in accounts all over the world. Maybe we could retire to Australia and come out when this was all over?
A girl could dream, I suppose.
Louisa came back in, her arms full of clothes, which I then began to sort through, taking the practical items away from the three-piece suits. For me, I had found relatively little. I pulled on some dark jeans, and in a pile were some dark jodhpurs (the only normal looking clothes she seemed to own) a couple of jumpers and a few scarves. I added jeans and jumpers for Scorpius, underwear for both of us, and found a massive waxed wool coat in his pile which I claimed as my own. Luckily, I fit into Louisa’s shoes, so I took a pair of trainers and pushed boots onto my feet.
When Scorpius returned, successful, we piled the clothes and food and blankets into backpacks, Scorpius at the last minute searching at the back of a drawer and pulling out a couple of thousand pounds of Muggle money.
Louisa watched us, wide-eyed. Finally, I shouldered my bag, and turned to Scorpius. “We should leave immediately. And we can’t come back until this is over,” I said, with finality. “I’ll wait outside as you do your goodbyes,” I added, trying to sound considerate and not like a murderer.
I left the room, shutting the door quietly behind me, but Scorpius wrenched it back open. “That was quick,” I whispered.
“She won’t even notice I’m gone,” he said quietly, and not without a hint of sadness. “And I didn’t want you to run off without me.”
Seems like it wasn’t just me who was thinking about going it alone.
Scorpius led the way through the maze of vaulted halls and thin corridors, until he let us out of a side door, which opened into the stables. It had stopped raining, and the pale moonlight was reflected on the damp stones of the yard. From there, we ran, stooping low to the ground, until we reached the cover of the trees again.
“Where should we go now?” Scorpius said, his eyes boring into mine.
In answer, I held out my hand. He took it, and I turned on the spot, pulling him with me.
We emerged in a garage, and Scorpius pulled me over as he crouched again, looking green. “Where are we?” he asked, trying not to heave.
“The garage of Mr and Mrs Peacock, who are hopefully in America for the winter,” I said. “We should be okay to go in the house, I just didn’t want to Apparate inside, just in case.”
I left Scorpius on the cold concrete floor of the garage, waiting for the nausea to pass, and I scooted in through the inside window, performing a quick Freezing Charm on the alarm system. I knew a whole pile of residences which were sure to be empty at different times of the year- they were helpful in storing goods, or staying a night when we were on the road. Only I knew all of them- Lorcan knew most, while James, Freddy and Dom knew of a few others. I hoped they were making the most of my ‘holiday homes’.
The house was as silent as the grave, but I tiptoed through most of the rooms, checking, before I collected Scorpius and the bags. I led him through the house to a small front bedroom, where we set up camp; pulling duvet covers from the bedrooms and making a sort of nest on the floor, before eating some food we had taken from Ford Abbey. I was so tired, and my head ached so badly, my eyes closed involuntarily, as I hugged a pillow to my chest.
“Go to sleep,” Scorpius whispered. His face looked wan and pale in the dim wand-light. “I’ll wake you at three, and then you can take over.”
I snuggled deeper into the duvets, realising I hadn’t even kicked my shoes off, before falling asleep almost instantly.
When I woke up, Scorpius was writing something on a small notepad. I yawned quietly and checked the watch I had taken from Louisa. The face gleamed in the faint light. It was half-four in the morning.
“I thought you said you’d wake me at three?”
He started a little at the sound of my voice, but shrugged. “I’m not tired.”
I half-crawled over to him, still cocooned in duvets. My nose was freezing, and my head still hurt, my eyes sore.
“What are you writing?” I enquired, half-expecting him not to show me.
Instead, he held out his notebook. “Anything you can add?” he asked.
The page was filled with names. “I’m trying to work out where everyone is now, and who the traitor is,” he said sadly.
James, Albus and Lily
Teddy and Vic
Fred, Louis and Dom
Lysander and Roxanne
It was the groups that people had Disapparated in. I picked up the pencil and scrawled ‘Lorcan, Molly and Lucy’ underneath.
“You didn’t see Hugo then?” he asked me, and I shook my head. “What was that thing he had?”
“Dad’s Put-Outer,” I said. “I don’t know how he managed to smuggle it in, but I had my lock-picks...” I trailed off, as I flicked to the next page.
Hugo: last to get to cells, even though Rose was there. Weird magical device that turned out the lights.
Dom: been lying about petty stuff recently.
Roxanne: whiny cow.
Teddy: a contact said he saw him in Knockturn Alley, buying Acromantula eggs.
Lucy: works for the Ministry, didn’t seem very upset at the ‘trial’.
I was silent. I had almost forgotten we had a traitor in our midst. We couldn’t trust anyone. I couldn’t even trust Scorpius. I glanced sideways at him. His eyes were ringed with black, and heavy with tiredness, his blonde hair grown out and greasy. He pushed a hand through it, and bit his lip worriedly.
“I haven’t got very much,” he said, almost apologetically, “but it’s helpful to know. Anything different you’ve noticed about us?”
“Being a ‘whiny cow’ is not a crime,” I pointed out, slightly amused. “And Teddy could have been buying that for Roxy’s potions, and Lucy is made of stern stuff. She’s not going to break down crying.”
He didn’t say anything, just looked at me expectantly.
I thought for a moment. This was like cheating on your friends. On your family.
“Erm, James has got too much money in his back account,” I said finally.
“How much is too much?”
“About fifteen million Galleons.”
His pencil dropped from his fingers. “Fifteen million? Seriously?” He picked up the pencil before it rolled away and passed it to me. “Write it.”
I hesitated. Writing it had power. It was one thing to think it, and another to put it down on paper.
“Go on,” he urged. “It’ll help us.”
‘James:- G15 million in account. More money came in from a bloke called P Jones’ I wrote, somewhat reluctantly.
“Anything else?” Scorpius prompted.
‘Hugo: last to get to cells, even though Rose was there. Weird magical device that turned out the lights. Put-Outer, you moron.
Dom: been lying about petty stuff recently: eg. Boyfriend’s work party.
Roxanne- whiny cow.
Teddy: a contact said he saw him in Knockturn Alley, buying Acromantula seeds.
Lucy: works for the Ministry, didn’t seem very upset at the ‘trial’.
James: G15 million in account. More money came in from a P Jones.
Victoire: was pregnant. Highly unlikely suspect.
Freddy: dodgy phone call after we got back from Essex, looked really shifty.’
He carefully looked through all my added bits. “Anything else, at all weird?”
“Erm, Albus went missing on a train,” I said, smiling at the memory.
He raised an eyebrow. “Do explain.”
“On the way to Hogwarts, I was making fun of Albus trying to disguise his resemblance to Uncle Harry, and then I went for a drink, and when I came back he was gone. I looked everywhere, but he turned up again when the train stopped, and told me he had been there the whole time!” I said indignantly, trying to inject as much emotion into the story as possible to take my mind off my cold hands and hot forehead. “He clearly hadn’t.”
“Write it down.”
“What? Albus is your best friend!”
“Rose, it could be any of us. Hell, it could be you.”
“Who do you want it to be?” I asked, after a moment.
He rubbed his eyes. “Hell, I don’t know. I want it to be Lily, or Roxanne, because I know them less than I do Albus, or Louis. I suppose I don’t need to ask you.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
“I saw the way you looked when we apparated into the woods. ‘Oh shit, it’s Scorpius’ was written all over your face. And even if you didn’t think it was me, then you want it to be me, because I’m not family,” he said bitterly.
I snatched the pad back off him, and made three new additions.
Rose: highly likely. Is badass and awesome, after all.
Albus: disappearing act on a train. Some seriously spooky shit going down.
Scorpius: far too defensive. Definitely hiding something. Maybe another wife hidden away?
Reading over my shoulder, Scorpius cracked up laughing. I shushed him, hiding my own smile.
“I’ll watch for a bit,” I said. “You sleep.”
He tried to lie down as I moved so I had a clear view out of the window, but after about ten minutes of listening to his soft breathing and the occasional car go past, his eyes flew open.
“I can’t sleep.”
“You aren’t trying,” I told him, not taking my eyes off the window.
“Talk to me about something,” he commanded.
“Sleepovers with you suck,” I said, rubbing my face tiredly.
“Yeah, well, you snore.”
I kicked at him, and my foot glanced off his shoulder. “Liar.”
“I speak nothing but the truth,” he said, but he closed his eyes again and rested his head.
It was only five minutes until he frowned.
“What now?” I asked. I was kind of happy I wasn’t left alone while he slept, or the monsters in my thoughts would grow wildly, but I didn’t want him to be so tired he fell asleep when I needed him.
“What do you think of Louisa?” he said finally. His eyes were still shut, and his hands folded across his chest.
“Shouldn’t you ask that before you get married?” I asked. My hands were trembling.
I sighed. Any conversation was better than none. “You don't love her,” I said.
His eyes didn’t open, but his nose crinkled in a frown. “Sorry, I didn't realise you were the relationship expert, Mrs Dalton.”
I ignored him, staring out of the window, and after a moment I felt a pressure on my foot.
“I’m sorry,” Scorpius said after a moment. “I didn’t need to say that.”
I snorted, and there was a long pause.
“You’re right,” he said, “I don't love her.”
I pressed my forehead against the cool window. I was so hot, but still felt shivery. “Then why did you propose?”
He turned his face towards the wall. “We had a one-night thing,” he explained. “I was drunk, I think, and Louisa- well, I don’t know what she was thinking. She's pregnant now, and, well, you saw her dad. Old-school is too modern for him. Louisa insisted I married her, and when I told my parents, they backed Louisa fully.”
“Because we’re running out of money, and they own most of Wessex. Because the Malfoy's are still pureblood scum and she's a Muggle. Because her family has just been introduced to a wonderful, magical world and they want part of it at any costs.”
“And she knows all of that, does she?” I said. My stomach was churning, and my breath fogged up the window. I brushed at the condensation, feeling light-headed.
Scorpius didn't answer.
“You disgust me, Malfoy. You were drunk, and now you are using Louisa and her child as a purse?”
“Since when did you become her number one fan?”
“The point, Malfoy, is that you are using her.”
“No,” he spat, “my family is using her family.”
“There's a difference?”
“Yeah. I'm might be privy to it, but I don't approve.”
“Complicity is guilt.”
“She's pregnant! I would have probably married her anyway.”
I stabbed my finger in his direction. “You. Shouldn't. Marry. Unless. You. Mean. It.” I spat, jabbing him with each word. “Marriage is swearing loyalty and honesty and love, not some meaningless, simplistic thing. It’s commitment which should be honoured.”
“Are you saying I should have abandoned my child?” Scorpius sat up straight, glaring at me.
“No, I’m saying that you shouldn’t marry her. You don’t have to. You can be a father without being part of a family.”
He was silent for a moment. “What’s done is done,” he said, sounding defeated. “If we ever get out of this mess, I’ll make it right.”
“Are there any more skeletons in the closet that I should know about?” I said, after a moment. I pushed my hair back from my sweaty face. “I mean, you’ve got a wife and a kid. Have you got a flock of sheep or a castle, as well?”
“I wish,” he said. “I’d kill for a minty lamb burger.”
I smiled, but not properly. My head hurt more with every movement.
“Who’s Zachariah Dalton, then?” he asked. I didn’t reply. “Come on, who is he? I told you about Louisa.”
“Zach is the past,” I said. “What’s done is done.” I echoed Scorpius’ words faintly.
“The past which has come and testified at our trial, putting you completely in the clear,” Scorpius pointed out. “Why did you marry him?”
I sighed. “Because he was charming and clever and funny and good-looking and... and he told me that he loved me,” I said finally. My mouth tugged into a smile at the memory of those first weeks with Zach.
“He lied.” I reached up and cranked open the window to cool my raging temperature, and shivered in the blast of chilly wind which whistled through the gap. “Do you remember the summer after seventh year? Albus, Lorcan, me and Molly went backpacking around the world.”
Scorpius nodded, looking interested.
“Well, I met Zach in Asia, and he travelled with us for a bit. He was American, and we eventually settled in the US for a couple of weeks- which turned into months. I don’t know, we were young and in love and when Zach proposed, it was natural to say ‘yes’. Albus hardly noticed that we were so serious because he had found a girlfriend-”
“Her name was Natasha,” Scorpius put in. “She had pink hair and she stayed with Albus and me once, and fell out the window. Not the sharpest knife in the drawer.”
“and Molly thought that it was all very romantic,” I continued, “it just seemed that the perfect time, like the holiday could go on forever. Lorcan wasn’t happy about it, but I was happy, so he swallowed it.”
“And then what?”
“Then Lorcan decided to pay Zach a visit at his flat, and discovered it was a fake address, so then he started to do some more digging. It turned out that Zach Dalton had been born Bradley Collins, and he wasn’t training to be a Healer, and he didn’t have family, and he had lied to me about everything.”
“So you divorced him and came home?”
“Pretty much. Lorcan beat Zach up, yelled at me, Molly and Albus, got us all home, and told Mum. She managed to annul the marriage and keep it quiet, and I haven’t seen Zach again, but he’s owled me a couple of times. No-one else knows. Lorcan reckoned that Zach had done it before- got close to people, maybe marriage through lying to them, and then blackmailing for money.”
“That’s terrible,” Scorpius said finally.
“Mhmm,” I mumbled, my face in the icy breeze. “I’m over it now. But marriage is a hard subject to talk about, and Lorcan is ridiculously over-protective.”
“I thought that was just Lorcan normally,” he said, and I laughed softly, keeping an eye on the street below.
Eventually, Scorpius’ breathing slowed, and it was oddly calming. I felt so ill. I pinched the bridge of my nose, and wiped the sweat from my forehead, but soon, lulled by Scorpius’ huffs of air, I fell into a deep sleep as well.
A/N: hello again! So, I had no internet, so naturally I wanted to update. Thanks for sticking with the story, and I hope you liked the insights into Zach and Louisa. Please review!
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