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Chapter 16 : back stories, flirting and Scorpius hates it when I plan.
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-Rose; the White Hart Hotel
Wednesday 29th December, 10.30am
Tracey’s bag, amongst other things, had enough money for us to both check into a small hotel, so we did exactly that. It was about half past ten by the time we reached ‘The White Hart’- I had apparated us away to a village that I’d been to on a job once, and then found a taxi. We’d asked the driver to take us somewhere we could stay that was ‘a reasonably fair distance away’.
By the time we’d reached the hotel, we were fast friends with the taxi driver and I’d made up an entertaining story in which I (Rachel) was Scorpius’ (Samuel’s) mistress and we were trying to find somewhere to have an illicit affair while his wife (Lauren) was out on a short weekend break to a golfing club. I didn’t even know what golf was, but Scorpius had helped me out while I floundered. We’d also made use of the taxi’s rear view mirror to try to look presentable- the taxi driver had leant me a hair tie, which took care of my mane, and then I had to try to get bark out of Scorpius’ hair. All this time, I was chatting merrily about Lauren, even inventing a fictional lover for her, called Morgan, who was Scottish and six foot four.
I was pretty sure the taxi driver didn’t believe a word that I was saying, but I had made Scorpius smile a few times, and at the moment, that was all that really mattered. However, it did help that the driver was so hugely entertained that he didn’t charge us, instead just wishing us luck with our future escapades.
He probably thought we were pathological hitchhiking liars, and the thought made me smile. If we told him the real truth, then he’d probably take us to the nearest loony bin.
Walking into the White Hart, which looked small and unfrequented but pretty, I took control again, shouldering Tracey’s bag and holding Scorpius’ hand.
“Hello,” I said politely to the receptionist. “We’d like a room for two please, and we don’t have a reservation.”
She smiled brightly, and flicked her hair behind her ears. “Of course!” she said cheerfully. A budgie in a cage in the corner squawked in reply, but she waved her hand dismissively. “Don’t worry about him, he doesn’t like couples. And if you come in at night after ten, he swears at you. How many nights?” she asked, tapping some keys on the laptop in front of her.
“Just one,” I said.
The receptionist dazzled me with her white smile again. “Of course! But if you want to extend your stay, just pop on down and I’ll sort it out for you. We’re at a great spot here, very romantic. The kitchen can make you up a picnic as well, if you want to spend the day out. There’s a well nearby that’s supposed to increase love and fertility, if you’re into that sort of thing.”
I forced a smile, but took Scorpius’ hand, bringing it up with mine onto the top of the counter. I doubted that the Aurors would be checking Muggle hotels, and would definitely not be looking for a couple, especially as Scorpius was already a newlywed. I passed her the money, and she gave me a key and a folder.
“In there are some details about the surrounding area, directions to get to the well, and stuff like that. If you could just sign here,” she said, pushing an A4 book towards me.
I wrote the date and then signed with a flourish. She took the book back, and angled it towards her. “I hope you have a lovely stay with us, Mr and Mrs Granger!”
I smiled and thanked her, tugging Scorpius with me to the stairs, glancing quickly at the key. We were in room 48.
“Mr and Mrs Granger?” Scorpius asked as we walked up the stairs.
I rolled my eyes. “I was thinking on my feet, she already assumed we were a couple and the mistress story was too long and complicated to explain to her.”
“Yeah, but Granger? My father still winces every time your mother’s name comes up.”
I glanced sideways at him. “How often does Mum’s name come up in casual conversation?”
Scorpius grinned. “A lot. It’s our primary way to piss him off- recounting the story of when Hermione Granger punched Father.”
“Dad likes to tell that story too- he says it’s the highlight of her achievements,” I said, smiling. It always gets brought up at least once every large family gathering, and sometimes you’ll catch Dad sitting, chuckling to himself. If you ask him what’s so funny, he’ll wipe away a tear and say that he’s remembering the look on Malfoy’s face when Mum punched him.
We eventually got to our room- it was on the top floor- and on the door, in a pink flowery script, it read ‘Honeymoon Suite’. Scorpius stopped dead.
“Honeymoon?” he asked with a voice like ice. “We’re running for our lives, not on bloody holiday!”
I clapped my hand over his mouth, opened the door and pushed him in. “Keep your bloody voice down!” I told him angrily. “We need somewhere to rest, eat and clean up, and a honeymoon suite is better than outside in the freezing cold. It’s a miracle we haven’t got hypothermia yet. It’s December in Britain, not Australia.”
There was a knock on the door, and Scorpius and I froze. There was another knock, and a tentative ‘hello?’, so I strode over to the door, opening it a crack. I doubt the Aurors would knock this time. Outside stood a man wearing a white shirt and black trousers, holding a bottle of red wine.
“I’m afraid it’s the best we’ve got,” he said apologetically. “But anyway, congratulations! Is there anything else we can get you?”
I took the bottle, plastering on a winning smile. “Thank you so much, that’s very sweet of you.” I wedged my foot in the door, keeping it open, and called out. “Honey, is there anything you want?”
“Do they do room service?” Scorpius yelled back from the bathroom.
I raised my eyebrows and looked questioningly at the man. “I’m sure we can get some food sent up,” he said. “The chef’s not in yet, but we’ll do our best.”
My mouth stretched into another wide grin. “Oh, thank you, you’re an angel.”
“Will that be everything, Mrs Granger?”
I leant against the doorframe, thinking. “Could you get us a first aid kit?” I said after a moment’s thought. “I danced so much last night, my feet are killing me,” I said with a giggle, trying to conceal my cut palms.
God, trying to be a happy newlywed was hard.
“Of course, right away,” the man said, nodding.
Scorpius came up behind me, wrapping his arms around my waist and resting his chin on my shoulder. “Thank you,” he said with finality, and shut the door on the man, immediately letting me go.
“You’re not supposed to flirt with people on our first day as a married couple,” he said over his shoulder as he went back into the bathroom.
I scowled at him. “You’ve laid your claim quickly, as ten minutes ago I was your mistress. And I wasn’t flirting,” I added quickly. “Just being friendly.”
“If you were any friendlier with him, he’d be taking my place in the ‘honeymoon suite’,” he called, and I could hear the quote marks around his words. I bit back a retort. He was just trying to wind me up.
“I’m going to have a shower,” he said, sticking his head back around the door. “If I come out and find you in bed with that guy, I’m not going to be happy, Mrs Granger.”
I took off my shoe and threw it at him, but he ducked out of the way. The man soon came back, with two plates of scrambled eggs and bacon, and what looked like the contents of an ambulance. I wolfed down my food while Scorpius was still in the shower, and was just trying to put on bandages with only one hand when he finally emerged, towelling dry his hair.
“You’ll want to do that after you’ve had a wash,” he said, uncharacteristically gentle. “I’ll eat, and then I’ll help.”
When I was clean, Scorpius did help, disinfecting the cuts on my palms and then wrapping them in clean bandages. I flexed my hands a couple of times, getting used to them. I could probably still climb a drainpipe. I cleaned the cuts on Scorpius’ face and arms- from his fight with the Fraternity’s leader. Really, he had got off fairly easily.
“Did you know him?” I asked, putting a plaster on a particularly deep cut on his forearm. “The Fraternity member you were fighting.”
“Went for drinks together a couple of times,” Scorpius said, his face closed off. He stared blankly into the distance. “His name is Marcus, Marcus Copperworth. He even came to a football match once. Probably how he knew Richie.”
I didn’t want to talk about Richie yet- we’d done all we could, and now I wanted to focus on the present, and the future, leaving the past until we had the luxury of time.
“You’re all done,” I said instead. “All clean and bandaged up.” Scorpius had a heavily bruised shoulder- he reckoned a curse had hit him there, and it looked bad, although he said it didn’t hurt. If he was telling the truth, then I was even more concerned. But I wasn’t Louis, and I couldn’t ask him for help.
I tried to push all thoughts of my family out of my head, but they crept back in, like flickering shadows in the corners of my mind. I was aware of them, but I couldn’t dismiss them or help them, so there they lurked, preying on my thoughts.
“Are you all right about Lily?” Scorpius said, as if he was reading my thoughts. I was sat on a chair, and he was at my feet, surrounded by bandages and plates.
“I wish she’d told us, that’s all,” I said. “I wish she’d trusted us enough to tell us. We could have helped, and I doubt she’d want to tell Jean,” I said. Jean was Lily’s French magic-hating boyfriend, who she’d picked up one year when we visited Auntie Fleur’s family, and they’d inexplicably been together ever since.
“It probably wasn’t just that,” Scorpius said slowly. “In the summer, the Fraternity were checking up on known werewolves, and trying to get them to join up. She was probably dreading a call from them if she made it publicly known.”
“What?” Scorpius said, twisting around to look at me. “What’s wrong?”
“Nothing,” I said quickly, not aware I had spoken aloud. My mind was racing, back to when I’d cleaned out Lily’s flat and seen the papers on the Fraternity- of course, that was why she had the details on the papers.
“If you think the Fraternity know that Lily’s a werewolf, I doubt it,” Scorpius said, putting his hand on my knee. “They wouldn’t have tried to attack us on a full moon if they had, and they couldn’t have found out from the Ministry- I take it that her transformations were the reasons she was taken out of the cells.”
But my thoughts were on a completely different track to Scorpius’. The papers must still be in the house, underneath my mattress, or they most certainly would have been brought out at our trial. Evidence we’d been watching the Fraternity? That would have been like pixie dust to the prosecution. And now we knew the Fraternity were directly involved against us- either orchestrating the whole thing or working for someone who was- it was no secret that we were rivals, even if the Clan were more discreet.
They still knew of us, knew of what we did, and the knowledge that we were Weasleys and Potters would not have changed their professional hatred of us. Was it the Fraternity who had ruined our plan at Hogwarts, and not some inside traitor? Had they deliberately thwarted us in order to set us up at Gringotts?
“What?” I asked, surprised. I was damn sure I hadn’t said something out loud that time.
“Whatever the hell you’re planning, whatever the hell you’re thinking about doing, the answer is no. We’re not. We’re going to Cardiff to meet up with Theo, and that’s the end of it.”
I opened my mouth to protest- I only had a half-formed idea in mind, and half-formed ideas are not ripe enough to be shot down- but Scorpius cut me off, kneeling and facing me.
“No,” he said, quietly but firmly. “Back at Theo’s house, I don’t know what the hell happened, but you froze up and you couldn’t move, you couldn’t do anything. Imagine what could have happened.”
The guilt I was trying to ignore swelled, crashing over me like an icy-cold wave. “What could have happened if I hadn’t frozen up, you mean?” I managed to say, barely aware of myself. “You mean, that if I’d followed you quicker, I could have stopped that Curse hitting Richie, is that it?”
Scorpius’ mouth dropped open. “No, Rose, that’s not what I mean, not at all. You did everything you could, it wasn’t your fault!” His voice got more frantic.
“Rose, please don’t cry,” he said, softer, and I hadn’t even realised that I was. I sniffed and wiped my eyes. “I meant I didn’t want you to get hurt.”
“I’m sorry,” I said. The last thing I wanted to be was a snivelling, tearful wreck. Scorpius rolled his eyes, and hugged me, a proper bear-hug. He smelt of the cheap hotel shampoo and the disinfectant we’d used to clean our cuts, and I hugged him back. At least we were together, I thought. I’d go mad if I had to do this on my own.
“What’s your plan, then?” he asked, when I’d stopped crying and he’d released me.
I looked down at him. He was not going to be pleased with this idea.
-Abner Carrow: the Ministry of Magic
Wednesday 29th December, 11am
Abner swept down the corridor, feeling oddly buoyant. His long robes brushed against the green marble floor as he made his way to his office. Today he should be getting the news that six of the Clan and somebody else –unidentified and unimportant- were all dead. Hopefully without loss of his Muggle asset, but if they had, well, it was of no consequence.
He opened the door to his office to see someone already sitting at his desk.
“You have news?” he said, checking his door was firmly shut.
Marcus turned to look at him. He had a bruised jaw and a split lip, and a nasty looking cut along his hairline.
Carrow took off his pointed hat and placed it on a shelf, hanging his outer robe neatly on the back of his door. He walked to his desk, and sat behind it, pulling his wand out from his sleeve and placing it next to his quill. He lit a candle, brushed a few imaginary specks of dust from his writing mat, and arranged his robes. Only when he was completely settled, his fingers laced together in his lap, did he speak.
“What happened?” His voice was quiet and controlled.
Marcus sat back in his chair, stretching out his legs, looking completely at ease in the formal setting, despite his dishevelled and dirty appearance. “We underestimated them. They had the advantage of higher ground-”
“I don’t want to hear your excuses,” Carrow said, cutting him off. “I asked, what happened?”
As briefly as possible, Marcus told him. When he had finished, Carrow leant forwards, steepling his fingers.
“So, a few disorganised children beat you?” Carrow held up his hand, stopping Marcus from interrupting. “You have one more chance. Letting me down again is not in your best interests.”
Marcus stood up, his face twisted in sudden anger. “You don’t own me, nor the Fraternity, Mr Carrow, and threats can work two ways.”
“Stop making a fool of yourself and sit down. You wouldn’t be here if you didn’t need my help, and I don’t particularly need your band of Squibs.”
Marcus sat down, but his eyes narrowed at Abner, smarting at the insult. When this was over, Marcus vowed, he had a score to be settled. Sometimes, just sometimes, Carrow forgot who he was talking to.
“You said that is was Rose Weasley and Scorpius Malfoy who seemed to be the most dangerous?” Carrow said, back to business.
“Then forget about them. Leave them alone. I’ll pull the surveillance on their homes, and I’ll call off the Aurors tracking them. Focus on the others.” He tapped the point of his peacock feather quill on the parchment in front of him. “We know that Dominique and Victoire Weasley are hiding at Hogwarts, with Theodore Lupin?”
It was a rhetorical question, but Marcus nodded again anyway.
“Then you send people up there to deal with them. And we also know about the proposed meeting point in Cardiff from our source, correct?” This time, Carrow didn’t pause for Marcus. “You go there, with a few of your most skilled... accomplices, and watch. I highly doubt Rose and Scorpius will turn up –they seem too clever, but children are inclined to be sentimental, so if they do, I don’t want them meeting up with anyone else. Find everyone you can, and leave those two alone.”
A plan was forming in Carrow’s mind, a twisted web of deceit and evil. Maybe he could have the grand finale that he had always wanted. To look at them, at the end, and explain why they had to die. It mattered to Abner, the why. He needed to show them that he had a purpose, he wasn’t one of those deranged murderers who picked people at random.
He had a right to order their deaths- but, oh, it would be so much sweeter if he could do it himself.
“What’s the plan behind all this then?” Marcus asked, his sharp tones bringing Abner back to reality.
“You don’t kill them.” Carrow smiled. “You bring them to me, to my house in Yorkshire. There’s plenty of enchantments that will ensure their safety with me.”
“And Rose Weasley? Scorpius Malfoy? Are you intending on letting them run free?”
“No, they’ll come to me, once they know where their family are. I won’t be requiring your aid to secure them. It should be simple enough,” Abner said, his lip curling in distaste. He hated having to lower himself to the level of these petty criminals. Break-ins and muggings, that seemed to be all they were capable of. Give them a moderately complex job, and they screwed it up. First Hogwarts, then the caravan park, and now at the house. Werewolf or no werewolf, their incompetence was astounding.
But Marcus was still talking. “So I deliver the rest to you, and what? I get your assurance that they will die?”
Carrow shook his head distractedly, already mentally finalising the details. “By all means, you can look in for a minute,” he said, making it sound like he was hosting a dinner party. He got a fresh thick piece of parchment out from his drawer, poising his quill. “Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have work to do.”
Marcus smiled thinly. A minute would be all he needed. “I’ll see myself out,” he said, and took a handful of powder from the mantle, throwing it into the crackling flames.
No-one talks to the Head of the Fraternity like that.
-Rose: the White Hart Hotel, Room 48, ‘Honeymoon Suite’
Wednesday 29th December, 5pm
Just a note to all you guys who have never been on the run with Scorpius Malfoy: don’t. It’s not fun. He dyed my hair blue.
“What?” he protested. “Who is going to look for the famously red-headed Rose Weasley with blue hair? And anyway, it looks great! I’m seriously good at hairdressing.”
Okay. To be fair, my hair had been cut well. Scorpius had cut it shorter, so it only just hung past my shoulders, which meant I could do an arrogant hair flick like Dom could without hitting someone in the face with my hair, and it was all shades of blue, from cobalt to periwinkle.
I don’t know how he did it, and yes, it did look great, and his logic was pretty sound, but he should have fucking asked me.
He had dyed his hair a normal, light brown colour.
“Why didn’t you go fuchsia or something?” I asked, running my hands through my newly shorn crop.
He looked at me like I was insane. “Because that would have looked stupid- and anyway, dark colours washes me out.”
Oh my god, Scorpius was gay. I did not see that coming. And Louisa is not going to be pleased.
He held up his hands. “Whoa! Louisa said it washed me out when she found those pictures of third year.” He frowned. “What does ‘washed out’ even mean?”
Okay, some man points had been regained.
And I agreed with Louisa, actually. She may be a bitch, but third year, when Scorpius had his obligatory Goth phase along with Albus, his dyed black hair looked awful, like he actually was a vampire.
To add insult to injury, he told me that Muggle hair dye had to be let to ‘settle’ before it could be dyed out.
“Why did you have to get Muggle hair dye?” I whined.
“You can’t get it out with charms, so if for example we got the wrong side of a Thief’s Downfall –unlikely, but possible- we’d be okay.”
I tugged at my blue hair some more, but Scorpius slapped my hand away.
“You can’t pull the dye out,” he told me, exasperated.
“When we get caught because of my ridiculous hair,” I began, and he shot me a withering look.
“We aren’t going to get caught,” he said. “And if we do get recognised, then I’m dyeing your hair white.”
We had better not get caught, because I was never letting anyone but a trained professional touch my hair again.
Scorpius adjusted the straps on Tracey’s backpack again. “Well?” he asked.
I peeked out the blinds again, gazing out at the twilight. “Yeah, probably dark enough now,” I said, switching on the telly, and turning up the volume. “Are you ready?” I asked over the sound of a cooking programme, as Muggles enthusiastically took scones out of an electric oven.
Scorpius shook his head. “Yes.”
I hid a smile. He wasn’t happy, but it was clear that I’d have gone anyway without him, so he’d eventually acquiesced.
I was going home.
This was why the disguises were needed. Although the plan was just to get in the flat, get the papers and get out again, Scorpius maintained that even if we weren’t caught, we would most definitely be seen, and therefore we needed to confuse the Aurors as much as possible. Hence, the hair-dye. Scorpius and I had ventured out earlier in the day with the help of the receptionist’s folder of useful information to gather supplies for our night attack.
I found that making jokes and exaggerating helped- if only a little.
So, the theory was that it could be any random person with blue hair breaking into an escaped convict’s flat at night.
I raised my eyebrows at Scorpius and he swallowed nervously. “Are you sure you’re ready?” I asked again.
He scowled at me, and stuck out his arm and shutting his eyes tightly. “This is a crap idea, can we get it over with as soon as possible, please?” he said through clenched teeth.
I grabbed Scorpius’ arm, and turned on the spot. The familiar experience of being sucked through a velvety tube was relatively short, as I concentrated hard on where we were going. A second later, we appeared on the roof of my apartment block, and Scorpius fell over.
“Really slick,” I said, giving him a hand up, and he scowled.
“At least I’m not vomiting.”
“Well, we do have that to be thankful for.” Our usual banter seemed forced and fake, like we were trying too hard. We were trying too hard to be normal.
I led the way over to the fire escape. ‘Alohomora’ opened it, and I pushed it open gingerly. It creaked, but Scorpius swiftly Silenced it.
“You’re welcome,” he whispered, and I elbowed him as we slowly, carefully descended the rusty stairwell. We lived two floors down, and I went first, my wand out. It was eerily quiet- not even the batty old lady who lived directly above us was at home, although the overwhelming stench of cat piss was still hanging heavily around the stairwell and corridor.
“Where is everyone?” Scorpius asked, and I anxiously motioned him to speak softer. Scorpius rolled his eyes. “Homenum Revelio,” he said with a wave of his wand. I held my breath, but he shook his head. “Nothing. There is nobody here. At all.”
My stomach clenched with trepidation. This wasn’t right, at all. Where was everyone? The Fraternity had a feudal system, with a very distinct hierarchy- thugs at the bottom, cleverer thugs at the top. Petty criminals, muggers, they joined the Fraternity to give themselves credentials, and therefore they had immense manpower.
So where were they?
And there was no sign of Aurors either, I noted. I thought that would be bloody common sense, keeping a watch on our homes. Something wasn’t right. Were they hiding now, watching us?
“I don’t like this,” I said. “At all.”
“We’ve come too far now,” Scorpius said. “Let’s just do this and get out.”
The door to our flat was ajar, and I pushed it open. The kitchen was a mess. Dirty plates were piled up on the sides, and a cup of coffee sat on the side. I wrapped my hands around it.
“Still pretty warm,” I said. “Where have they gone?”
“Can we just get out before they come back?” I glanced at Scorpius. He was standing stiffly, not happy about being here at all.
“I’ll hurry up. Will you keep watch?” I asked. Scorpius nodded, and I disappeared down the corridor. Scorpius looked skittish, and keeping him by the exit would probably calm him down a bit. I opened my bedroom door- and stopped in disgust. Someone had been living in my flat while we were gone, not just using the kitchen. My bedclothes were in a dirty heap after someone had got up this morning, and there were used plates and mugs littered on my windowsill. Clothes were strewn across the floor- mine and somebody else’s. Even I had never let my room get this messy- Hugo would have thrown a fit. I resisted the urge to pick up clothes and shove them in my wardrobe, as years of living with my brother meant that I had an inbuilt instinct to hide mess.
I caught a glimpse of myself in the full length mirror on the back of my en suite door and jumped, thinking there was someone else in the room. I looked so different, and it wasn’t just the bright blue hair. I was skinnier, and my clothes were too big- I’d always hated baggy clothes, they never felt like they fit properly. My eyes had large dark shadows underneath them, and my face was pinched, tired. I wondered when I’d look normal again, how many sleeps until I looked healthy again. I tore my eyes away from the mirror. I doubted even my mum wouldn’t recognise me now.
I picked my way across to the bed, and heaved up the mattress. As I predicted, the papers were still there, wedged in between the mattress and the bed frame. Whoever searched the apartment was clearly an idiot- I was putting my money on my old pal, Ernie. I pulled them out, starting to shuffle them into a pile. There was a lot more here than I read originally- then, I was only scanning for names I recognised. I sat down on the bed, engrossed in the pages. The Fraternity really had got up to a lot. There was immense detail on their meetings with people: some of them werewolves, some vampires, and even people from the Ministry. I rubbed my eyes, reading carefully the who and where and why. The Fraternity must have planned to take us down for months, there had to be some information in here that would be helpful. And then, I saw it. A name that I recognised, and there was an address too-
“Rose? Can we leave please? Like now? I really don’t like this.”
I turned, and saw him standing at the door. “But Scorpius, I’ve just found...”
“Can we please go back?” he said, shuffling from foot to foot. He looked edgy and nervous- and he was right. I could look at these later. It was too risky to hang around here.
“Sure,” I said, folding the papers up and taking Scorpius’ arm.
A/N: another day, another chapter. Sorry for the wait! Hope you enjoyed this- tell me, is it believable still? Or are you starting to wonder if I actually have a plot?
And once again, I can't thank you enough for simply reading my story. You're all awesome, and I love you.
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