Chapter 18 : friends, arguments, and step one of the plan.
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Another hotel, Sheffield
I could feel Scorpius’ eyes burning into me, but I didn’t look up from sorting our belongings. We’d acquired some money –don’t ask how, or your opinion of us will go down considerably- and now I’d begun the hard task of properly planning. Apart from stories, things are never as simple as ‘let’s meet up and then crash this party dude’.
“Scorp, can I have some coloured ink?” I asked, spreading the sheets of paper out in front of me. “And crank up the radio. I work better with music.”
I wasn’t going to leave anything to chance this time, and if that meant we were holed up in this new hotel until next week, then that was that. Scorpius turned up the music for me- it was some mindless new Muggle pop music, but we didn’t want to draw attention to ourselves by blasting adverts that promised to re-service your broom for only fourteen Galleons! or listening to A Cauldron Full Of Hot, Strong Love.
Scorpius rolled some bottles of ink over to me, and I uncorked one, a delicious deep purple. My mind works so much better with colours. I glanced up at Scorpius, dipping my quill in.
“So, what do we know so far?”
“You want to do a recap?”
“Yup. So, we’ve lost Lorcan, Lysander and Albus,” I said, trying to be as matter of fact as possible to stop the lump forming in my throat.
“And Dom, Vic and Teddy,” Scorpius said. I wrote their names down as well.
“And we also know that Hugo is safe with Theodore Nott, and we don’t know where James is, and Lily is a werewolf...”
“And Roxy is on her own somewhere, probably having the time of her life.”
“And Theo told us that Freddy and Louis have been caught- presumably they’ll be with the others?”
“Hopefully. If everyone has been separated, then this plan is not going to work.”
Scorpius muttered something under his breath that sounded suspiciously like ‘this plan isn’t going to work anyway,’ but I stolidly ignored him, my nib scratching away at the paper. “So we’ve only got Molly, James, Roxanne, Lily and Lucy to find,” I said.
“Only them to find.”
I flicked green ink at him, and it spattered onto his new checked shirt. “You have got to stop being so negative.”
“What’s the grand plan then?”
“We’re going to check all the safe houses,” I said, writing ‘stage one’ in loopy pink handwriting.
Scorpius craned his head to read upside-down. “But no-one knows where all of them are!”
“Didn’t Tracey give us an atlas?” I asked. “Start marking on the ones you know. I’ll do the same. We’ll start in London and work our way out. I bet someone is in the capital.”
“Who would be stupid enough to stick around in the capital?”
-Rose; Wednesday 5th January
Safe house #I’ve lost count, London.
It turned out, no one was. I’d lost count of how many safe houses we had searched and come up with nothing except dust and a little bit of food.
“Anything?” I called out to Scorpius, who was checking the kitchen of the latest safe house, a tiny apartment flat that you couldn’t swing a Kneazle in, if you felt so inclined.
I scowled a little, but I was still buoyed up by the simple brilliance of my plan. Safety in numbers, right? Together, we’d always been stronger. This was a war, and we needed an army. But no matter how many metaphors and inspirational snippets I could think of, I didn’t know where the others were hiding.
I skidded into the kitchen, nearly falling arse-over-tit on the slick hardwood floor. “What?” I asked when I had regained my dignity and balance.
“Look,” he said, and passed me a small slip of paper. I turned it over, thinking it might be a note, but it was a receipt. I gave him an unimpressed look.
“Look at the date,” Scorpius said, sighing.
I looked at the date. “That’s... that’s two weeks ago,” I said. “Someone’s been here recently!”
Scorpius looked condescending, as he’d probably come to same conclusion a while ago, so I smacked him upside the head.
“We should keep a watch on the chemist,” I said. “We can take it in turns; one watches the chemist while the other checks the safe houses-”
Scorpius cut me off. “We are not separating,” he said in a voice that could cut glass.
I raised an eyebrow. “Why?”
“We aren’t separating,” he repeated, as if that settled the argument.
It didn’t. “Why not?” I asked, making my voice as threatening as I could. I wasn’t great at threatening people, and whenever I needed to, my head started to throw up things like; Scorpius is a whole foot taller than you, and he was pretty good at duelling, and you’re standing very close to him- really, if you fought now, you’ve got 0.00001% of actually winning.
“Because if something goes wrong, then we should be together,” Scorpius said. “I can’t lose you Rose.”
It was the way he said it that killed me. He looked the same as when I’d taken him to hospital for poisoning, or when I’d watched over him at Tracey’s, that same mix of helplessness and determination and trust and good-looking, as if he knew he looked like an adorable puppy. I just couldn’t.
I turned away from him, breathing deeply and doing everything in my power to block out the memory of us kissing on the swimming pool roof, the sound of the fireworks and the feel of his cold, chapped lips under mine... Scorpius came up behind me, wrapping his arms around my middle, his chin resting on my shoulder, and I wriggled out of his grasp and was across the room and down the fire escape as fast as I could, surprising myself with the vehemence with which I pushed him away with.
Scorpius was also pretty fast, and I could hear him clattering on the grilled fire escape behind me, so when I reached the bottom I stopped, and waited.
“Why?” he asked, echoing me, but it most definitely was not about us separating now.
I just shook my head, trying to restore some order to my thoughts.
“You were the one that kissed me on that roof!” he said, trying to keep his voice level.
“What?” I said, outraged. I kissed him? That was not how I remembered it- but now I cast my mind back, I couldn’t exactly remember how...
“I can’t,” I said instead, the words sounding pitiful as they left my lips.
“Can’t do this,” I said, spitting the word out with so much force I left him in no doubt what I meant. “Not now. Not after Richie, not with Hugo missing, not with any of this shit that is going on.”
Scorpius’ face dropped, and I realised that this was what he needed- he needed me, needed some love, some companionship to help him through.
“I can’t,” I repeated, trying to harden my heart against Scorpius. God, I had never wanted to hold someone more in my life, but I knew that if I let myself go enough to do that, then I would break into tiny pieces as well. “I’ll see you back at the hotel.”
I started to walk down the back street, but after a few seconds, I could hear the pounding of feet as Scorpius caught up to me.
“I said I didn’t want us to separate,” he told me softly, and without thinking, I took his hand in mine, and he squeezed my fingers reassuringly.
He wasn’t helping at all, but I didn’t want to be alone either.
-Rose: Saturday 8th January
The Black Cat Café, Priory Road
There was a café outside the pharmacy, and Scorpius and I sat in the window, watching. We must have looked ridiculous- we had baseball caps pulled down over our eyes and one of us was usually asleep, tired out from our nightly checking of the safe houses. It was the only way we could stay together and keep watch on the pharmacy as well. We kept buying drinks, and that’s all the coffee shop owners cared about. It was Scorpius asleep at the moment. He badly needed a haircut- he kept pushing it back behind his ears, but at the moment it was lying over his cheek. I brushed it back for him, and luckily he didn’t wake up, just sighed contentedly in his sleep, as if he was in a four poster bed, and not slouched over a counter with dried ketchup dangerously close to his nose. I debated wiping that away for him as well, but a movement in the pharmacy opposite caught my eye. Someone had ducked in, an orange cap pulled down over their eyes. I elbowed Scorpius sharply.
“What?” he said groggily, wiping the sleep from his eyes.
“I think I just saw Molly,” I said. “She was wearing a Chudley Cannon baseball cap.”
“Molly supports the Chudley Cannons?” Scorpius said, confused. He was frustratingly slow at waking up.
“James plays for the Cannons, moron. We all have support the Cannons. Get up, come on, quickly!”
So when Molly stepped out of the pharmacy, clutching a paper bag, she walked straight into me and Scorpius. She started to say ‘excuse me’ and walk around us, but then she looked up, and gasped.
“Red, why is your hair blue?”
My hand automatically shot up to feel my hair, self-consciously. “It’s a disguise. Can’t you tell? Anyway, blame Scorpius. It was his idea.”
Scorpius smiled, but Molly didn’t smile back. I was confused for a second, and then remembered that not everyone knew Scorpius like I did. Hell, I would be surprised if Albus and Scorpius were closer than we were now. The thought didn’t bother me like I thought it would. He was alright really.
“You probably shouldn’t keep going to the same pharmacy,” Scorpius said, but Molly just scowled at him, and then the penny dropped- last time everyone was together, we were all moderately sure that Scorpius was our traitor.
“Why were you waiting for me?” Molly asked. “It’s safer to be in smaller groups, surely?”
“We’re tired of running,” I said. “We’ve got a plan, but we need your help.”
“Okay,” she said warily.
“Do you want to go somewhere else?” I asked. “We’ve got a hotel room just down the road, rather than standing here.”
She smiled thinly. “I don’t mean to be rude, but we still don’t know who the traitor is. If you really have got a plan, then I’d rather you tell me here and then I can decide if you’re telling the truth or not.”
Scorpius burst out laughing, and me and Molly looked at him in amazement.
“What is so funny?” I asked.
“We’ve blindly trusted everyone, because we assume we haven’t got another choice, and we’ve nearly died so many times.” He wiped away a tear. “Merlin, we could have had it so easy if we’d been like Molly.”
“That is true.”
Molly looked shocked. “You’ve had it bad then? I haven’t seen anyone. Just listened to the radio and-” she cut herself off, her hand over her mouth, and I tried to smile reassuringly.
“Don’t tell us anything you don’t want to,” I said. “But you’ll hear us out? We can just go in the café over the road.”
Molly nodded. “Okay.”
I let Scorpius tell Molly about our adventures so far (except the bit where he was unconscious, I told that). By the end, Molly’s mouth was wide open.
“So you’re telling me that the only people who is still on the outside is us three, Lucy, James and Lily, and Roxy?”
“Yep,” I said, setting down coffees for all of us.
“And you want to try and attack whoever is persecuting us? With seven people? Do you know how impossible that sounds?”
I had to hold back a snort. “Molly, after what we’ve just told you, don’t you think your definition of ‘impossible’ should change?”
“So what’s the plan then?” she asked, taking a sip and grimacing. I passed her the sugar.
“Molly, for all we know, you could be the traitor. Give us something to trust you with, please,” Scorpius said.
I nearly spilt my coffee in amazement until I realised that this was a very sensible idea. Scorpius hadn’t really told Molly anything we wouldn’t want the Fraternity to know- he was vague about Tracey’s whereabouts, and he hadn’t said that we assumed Lily was the werewolf.
Molly grinned. “Alright. I trust you guys now. I’ve been holed up with Lucy, and we’ve been rotating through all the safe houses in London, living as Muggles.”
“What did you need to keep going to the pharmacy for?” I interrupted.
Molly looked down. “Lucy. She’s anaemic. It’s easily controlled with a proper diet, but we haven’t been eating properly.”
I didn’t know what to say, and Scorpius didn’t either, just took a large gulp of his coffee.
“It’s alright,” she continued. “She’s not got badly sick or anything. We’re fine. Erm, we haven’t been in contact with anyone, just tried to gather information as subtly as we can. I’ve broken into the Prophet’s headquarters a few times to see what they knew, but they don’t know squat. The only thing I found out about us was some gossip that they weren’t allowed to print. Someone had stopped them.”
“What gossip? Who had stopped it?” I asked, interested.
“Some guy called Collins. Bradley Collins, I’ve never heard of him while I was at the Prophet- I think he’s some big shot American.”
Under the table, Scorpius grabbed my hand, recognising the name as well. Zach. I swear, when this is over, I’m going to kill him.
“What gossip was it?”
“Stuff that would be harmless enough, if this wasn’t happening. Like, Albus is going out with some Muggle girl, apparently you’re married, Scorp, and Freddie’s a dad, no one is even allowed to use the words ‘Rose Weasley’ and ‘Zachariah Dalton’ in the same sentence, oh and Lily’s a werewolf. I think that was it. It’s quite weird really, because the Prophet are trying their hardest to blacken our names, but they’re not allowed to print that?”
Scorpius stood up. “We need to go somewhere private,” he said seriously. “We’ve got a lot more things to tell you.”
An hour later, we were sitting in the living room of Molly’s current safe house, a small terrace that I’d never been to before. Lucy had been so happy to see us both, and a lot less wary than Molly had been.
“So what is it that’s so secret then?” Molly asked. She looked more than a fair bit worried.
I took a deep breath. “Molls, Zachariah Dalton is Bradley Collins. And Lily is a werewolf. We think. And Scorpius is married. And something to do with Zach is going on here as well as everything else.”
“Wait,” Scorpius said suddenly, holding up his hand. “You don’t think Zach is behind all this?”
“No, I don’t. He’s not behind this. He tried to help me at the trial, and he’s helping us now by keeping all of this out the press.”
“How is it helping?!”
Molly chipped in, holding her hands up to quiet the argument. “It is helping. Because Zach has a cap on this, then he’s stopping the Fraternity from getting their hands on that information. They don’t have anything on what could hurt us- if they tried to kidnap our family, half the wizarding world would form search parties. If they knew about this, then they could find a way to get to us.”
I put my hands on my hips, daring Scorpius to argue with us some more. He sat back in his seat, scowling. Lucy bit her lip.
“What, Lou?” Molly said. “Spit it out.”
“If half the rumours are right, do you think they all could be?”
“That’s a thought,” I said. “Scorp, do you still have that list of dodgy goings on?”
Still glowering at me, he rummaged around in his bag and produced the parchment. To be honest, I was really surprised it had lasted this long. I read the list out.
“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.
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?”
Lucy looked outraged when I’d finished. “I’m on the list?!”
Molly grinned. “I’m not!”
I ignored them both. “Okay, who can we cross off then?”
“Me and you and Lucy,” Scorpius suggested helpfully.
“I’m not too sure about you,” I said, but crossed us both off. “And it wouldn’t be Victoire, we already said as much. What if the phone call I interrupted was about Freddie’s girlfriend? That she was pregnant? I couldn’t imagine him being ecstatic about it- I don’t think it would have been planned.”
“What, and Albus met his girlfriend with you on a train?” Scorp said, unimpressed. “This makes no sense.”
“It kind of does,” Lucy said, chipping in. “Albus never tells us about his girlfriend’s especially if he’s really serious about them. James takes the piss too much.”
“Well, we can cross James off too. We know where the money was coming in from now,” I said. “And it won’t be Hugo either.”
There was a long pause. “Why couldn’t it be Hugo?”
“Because it’s can’t be Hugo.” I turned to look at Scorpius, incredulous. “Are you really doubting my brother?”
“Who else is there? That knew we would be at the swimming pool?”
“Marcus mentioned Lorcan. Lysander would have told Lorcan anything if he didn’t realise he was a traitor,” Scorpius said.
“And Lorcan had those weird texts on his phone,” I said slowly. I shook my head. “No, it’s not Lorcan, don’t be stupid.”
“Well, then it must be Hugo,” Scorpius said, as if my best friend’s innocence proved my brother’s guilt.
“What about Roxanne?” Molly said.
“What?” Scorpius and I spoke at the same time, and I punched him, just because I could and he was annoying me.
“Well, she’s not been seen. No-one’s seen her. Why couldn’t she be the traitor?”
Lucy nodded in agreement. “It could be her. It’s as likely as it is for Hugo and Lorcan anyway. Anyway. What’s the plan? How are we going to stop all this happening? Debating on the traitor isn’t helping our current situation, at all.”
“The plan is to get the Clan back together, and we’ll be strong enough to take down the Fraternity, and whoever is running them.”
“Yeah, but there is seven of us, and we don’t know where we’re going, apart from Yorkshire. And that’s a massive county.”
Scorpius nodded. “I was going to ask about ‘stage two’,” he said, curling his fingers around the words.
“We’re not done with stage one yet,” I said, not happy with him mocking my plan. “And besides, I don’t want you to shout at me.”
Scorpius didn’t have to say anything, he just looked at me sternly.
Lucy coughed. “Are you going to tell us, or shall we just leave you to it?”
I sincerely hoped I wasn’t blushing as red as I thought I was. “I know where they will be,” I said, perhaps more forcefully then I needed to be. “Well, I think I do. It’s a house called Langdon End.”
“How do you know this?” Molly asked, sounding a lot like a reporter.
“When we broke into my flat, I found a piece of paper with the address on.”
“What makes you think that it’ll be the right house?”
“Well, it’s in Yorkshire... and it had one of Zach’s pseudonyms on it.”
I legitimately thought that Scorpius was going to explode. “What?” he hissed through clenched teeth. “More stuff from Zach?”
“Does it matter where it’s from?” I asked. “Look, I googled it and it doesn’t exist. We know this person could control the Ministry, maybe even is a Ministry employee, so their house is invisible to Muggles.” I sighed in frustration, throwing my hands up in the air in an exaggerated fashion. I realised that both Scorpius and I were standing up. He didn’t want to understand. “Look, this is the only lead we have. And it’s not a bad one.”
“You want me to trust something that he is connected to?” Scorpius snapped.
“No, I want you to trust me!” I yelled at him, finally raising my voice. “Don’t you? I’ve got you out of every scrape, every single thing you fuck up, I’ve been there and sorted it, and now you won’t trust me on one thing because it’s got Zach’s name on it. Do you have any idea how stupid that sounds?”
“Are you calling me stupid? Saying I get myself into ‘scrapes’? What, am I holding you back, Rose?”
“You are when you’re being stubborn, like this! What are you jealous?” As soon as the words left my mouth, I realised it was a massive, massive mistake. Scorpius visibly deflated. He opened his mouth to say something, and then thought better of it.
“Guys, we have a problem.” Lucy was looking out the blinds, checking the street outside.
“What?” I asked, not taking my eyes away from Scorpius’ face, trying to say I was sorry without actually saying it.
“There’s a Fraternity member outside. I think. I’m pretty sure I’ve seen him before.”
Molly stood up, making her way to the window. “He must have followed us here,” she said. She turned back to us, but my hands were already in the air.
“I swear, we had nothing to do with it. We’re not the traitors.”
“Well, what are you going to do about it?” Molly asked, picking up her coat from the sofa and shrugging it on, making sure Lucy’s pills were in her pocket.
“We’ll drive them away,” I said, hopefully sounding more determined than I felt.
“Are you sure?”
“Of course!” I exclaimed. “We’re practically experts at this now. We’ll meet up at ....Nottingham forest. You know the big tree that Robin Hood was supposed to meet his Merry Men? We’ll meet there, two days from now. When you hear us leave now, then you go.”
Molly grabbed Lucy’s hand and pulled her out to the back door. I looked at Scorpius.
“Have you got a plan?” I asked, trying to give him a smile. He gave me a similarly weak one in return.
“Kind of. There’s a motorbike parked at the front,” he said. I peered through the blinds.
“Have you driven one of those before?” I asked, looking in horror at the massive black contraption.
“Well,” said Scorpius grinning, “there’s a first time for everything.”
I must have looked as appalled as I felt, and Scorpius laughed. “Luckily,” he said, “this isn’t my first time.”
He grabbed my hand and pulled me out onto the street. I pulled out my wand and cast a quick Shield Charm to cover us both, shaking my head at Scorpius’ sudden lunacy. “Don’t put the helmet on, we need everyone to see our faces,” he told me.
“What?” I tried to ask, but he’d already taken the helmets from me, throwing them down the street, and jumped on the bike, revving the engine.
A/N: So sorry for the long wait guys, and if you have stuck with me this far, then you are completely brilliant, and I love you all so much. I promise that updates will be more regular now. I am really sorry, and I hope you enjoyed this :)
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