Chapter 15 : The Ultimatum
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Dominique stood at the sink in the master bathroom of her and Teddy's small, cozy home with her toothbrush half-hanging out of her mouth. She was listening to her fiancé’s musings about Al's stabbing, but no matter what he said, she couldn't seem to accept it.
"I just don't get it," she said, gurgling as the toothpaste foamed in her mouth.
Teddy pulled off his t-shirt, opened up the closet, and tossed it into the clothes hamper in there. After he shut the door again, he walked up behind Dominique and placed his hands on her hips as he watched her from the mirror.
"Me neither, but Harry must have his reasons for not telling us anything," said Teddy.
"Like what?!" Dominique demanded to know as she spat out the minty foam in her mouth and took a swig of water.
"I don't know, Dom," answered Teddy in a defeated voice, "but he's Head Auror. He's smart about this stuff. Maybe he's just taking the time to figure some things out."
"Al doesn't have time," said Dominique sourly, and she turned to face Teddy. She wrapped her arms around his neck lovingly. "Al needs phoenix tears now. Harry doesn't have time to think things through. I think he knows who hurt Al, and I think he's purposely keeping that from us."
"Maybe," said Teddy with a roll of his shoulders, "but we have to have faith in him."
Dominique nodded. "I do," she said honestly. "Of course I do. I think I'm more terrified by all of this than anything else.”
Teddy scooped her up into his arms and carried her to their bed in the connecting room. He fell onto the large, plush mattress with her, and together they simultaneously slipped under the covers and wrapped their arms around one another.
Dominique loved this part of the day: crawling into bed beside Teddy. It was always so perfect and comforting; she loved sleeping by his side at night, how they would hold one another, how she molded against him perfectly. She was never one for the mushy stuff, but since their engagement, crawling into bed with him always reminded her of their impending wedding for some reason. Perhaps it was the fact that she would soon be able to call this man her husband.
"Don't be terrified," Teddy soothed as he reached out and ran his fingers through her hair.
"It is terrifying though," she said in a defeated voice. "Al was just walking home, and he was stabbed, and quite strategically too. His attacker has an agenda, and I know it. It's scary. It makes me fear for their safety. All of the Potters. All of us Weasleys. For you, and for me."
"Don't worry, Dom," he whispered, and he kissed her in the darkness of their bedroom. "I will never let anything happen to you."
Dominique savored his words as she laid there, his arms around her and hers around him, his lips moving gracefully along hers and down her jaw as he spoke.
"You know that," he said again. "You should know by now I'll never let anything happen to you. I've saved you before, and I will always, always save you."
Dominique smiled, and she gave him a deep kiss. When she pulled away, she said sweetly to him, "I can't wait to marry you."
"Only a little bit longer, and then you will," he grinned. "Now, stop worrying. Nothing's going to harm you. Go to sleep."
She grinned and nodded. "Fine," she said happily. "I love you, Teddy."
"I love you too, sweetheart," he said lazily as he nuzzled himself into the crook of her neck.
Teddy was always quick to fall asleep. She didn't know how he did it, but he would always be asleep in a matter of minutes when they fell asleep together. When she thought she heard his gentle snore, she turned over and pulled the covers up higher. Just as she was situating herself further into bed, the covers were abruptly yanked away from her. She gasped and scrambled into a sitting position, knowing it wasn't Teddy, but the room was too dark to see anything else.
She looked into the shadows, trying to make out anything. She looked to the duvet, now lying on the floor of their bedroom. Teddy stirred from his asleep, and he lazily awoke. “You always hog the covers; give them back,” he drowsily complained, his hands stretching out to seek purchase on the covers that weren’t there.
"Teddy," she whispered frantically. "Teddy, that wasn’t me! What happened?”
Then there was the sound of footsteps on their wooden floor, and a figure moved from the shadows and into view. It was a man. A man she had never seen before. Standing in their bedroom and approaching them with a menacing look. Dominique screamed bloody murder at the top of her lungs, and both she and Teddy immediately fumbled around for their wands on the bedside tables. The man raised his wand to Teddy and said quickly, "Petrificus Totalus!"
Ted's body was frozen on the spot, and Dominique screamed out in fear, jumping about and trying to grab hold of her wand. But before she could do so, the man pointed his wand at her. "Locomotor Mortis!"
Dominique felt her legs lock together, and she gave out another scream. The man jumped forward and grabbed her about her wrists, pulling her from the bed. With her legs heavy and immobile, they hit the ground and he continued to drag her away from the bed where Teddy lay still. She twisted her torso to look back to Teddy, tears rolling down her cheeks.
"Teddy!" she begged loudly even though it would do no good. "Help me! Teddy, please!"
Even though his body was still, his eyes moved about quickly in their sockets. She met his eyes, and she found them to be apologetic and desperate, filling with tears. She could tell he was trying to move despite how useless his attempts were, and she could hear him grunting within his mouth. The sound made a deep rumble in his chest, and she knew he was trying to scream.
She tried to pry herself from the man's arms, but she knew she couldn't. She screamed out his name one more time as they held eye contact, and then, when she felt the pull in her stomach, she knew her abductor was taking her away from her home, away from her fiancé. She felt tears roll down her cheeks as she looked to Teddy, and then the world she knew with the man she loved faded away from her.
"I don't understand," commented James as he sat on the couch in the living room of his childhood home. He braced himself with his elbows on his knees, his hands clasped together with the tips of his fingers rubbing his forehead.
It had been a long day. The longest James had ever remembered. The hours had dragged on and on as he had sat by his brother's bedside. The wait for his father to bring back the phoenix tears had been excruciating, and now he found himself waiting once more. After being shoved out of Clancy's flat, he had returned to his home to fill Norah in on what had taken place. After he had shared, they had come to the agreement that this needed to be shared with Harry.
Since then, both he and Norah had been at the Potter home, waiting for the owl from Clancy that would give them some sort of hint. The hour was late, and it was well into what James knew Clancy would have considered 'evening.' A million different scenarios, all ending badly, filled his head. Was she all right? Had he hurt her? Deep down in the pit of his stomach, James knew the worse to be true. Parker had hurt her. Or he was planning to at least.
James finally jumped up from the couch, aware of the eyes of his girlfriend and father on him. "I can't take this any longer," said James harshly. "I should have heard from her by now! I can't wait any more. I'm going to see her."
"James, wait," said Harry quickly, rising from his spot across the room. "You can't just barge into the flat of a sociopath who has a vendetta against all of us!"
"I can if he's hurting my client!" blurted James.
Harry fumed with his lips pursed together and his nostrils flaring, his mind trying to take hold of an idea on what to do. His mind had been everywhere today. He had to think strategically at work, to telling truths he never thought he would have to say. All in one day. It was a lot to handle; it was almost too much strategizing for him. He thought he was beginning to work out a plan with the Auror Department, but this was something else. This wasn't a part of the Aurors work. This was personal with James, but Harry still had the right to implement his thoughts as an experienced Auror.
Harry pinched the bridge of his nose as he tried to sort out his chaotic thoughts. "I know you'll go over there even if I tell you not to. So what's your plan?"
"I don't know. I just need to see if she's okay..." admitted James in a defeated voice. He was aware of Norah looking tense about the situation from where she sat, but James tried not to let that bother him. And despite how tense she may feel about James worrying so much over the woman, Norah knew she couldn't complain and also felt guilty for being so on-edge; the woman's safety was truly in danger. Luckily, though, Harry didn't know about James' history with Clancy, nor did he notice how uncomfortable the mention of Clancy's name made Norah feel.
"Fine, then," said Harry. "You can see if she's okay, but I'm coming with you."
James bit his lip. He didn't quite want his father to come with him, but he knew it was the best idea. He wouldn't win this one, so he just accepted that. "Agreed."
"Then let's go," said Harry without another moment's delay.
Harry went to stand by his son's side and he took his arm. James gave Norah a grateful and understanding look before apparating himself and his father outside Clancy and Parker's flat. When they steadied themselves, James raised a hand and knocked loudly on the door. After many moments of no answer, he tried again. Unsure, he looked to Harry for a notion of what to do next. Harry jerked his head towards the door, and so James took it as a sign. He reached for the handle and pressed down. He was fairly surprised when he felt the door give way from the pressure. It wasn't locked.
It swung open, and the two peered into a dark and empty flat. They stepped in, closing the door behind them to avoid any curiosity from any neighbors, and switched on the lights. Seeing that it was empty, they wondered about the flat, James calling out for Clancy. He found the bedroom quickly, and when he felt that deep and despairing feeling reach his stomach again, he headed for the closet. When he yanked it open, he knew his intuition was right. It was completely empty.
"Dad," James called to his father as he looked elsewhere in the flat, "she's gone."
"How do you know?" called Harry.
James turned and left the bedroom. "Her things are gone."
"Of course she's gone," a third, unexpected and cool voice joined in.
Both the Potters gave a jump and quickly ran to the source. They entered the living room where Parker Namken was relaxed in an arm chair. He had his feet propped up and his hands folded in his lap; he actually wore a smile on his face.
James felt the purest hatred he had ever felt quickly surge through his veins. "You!" he snarled, and before he could think, he leaped forward with his hands outstretched and the intentions of mauling his face.
But Harry snagged onto James' elbows and pulled him back before he could do so. Parker chuckled and nonchalantly rose from the arm chair.
"Let me go!" James demanded of his father. "Let me at him! You bastard!"
"Now, now," cooed Parker, "listen to your daddy, James."
James glowered but stilled. He fought his urge to attack Parker right there on the spot and instead turned to face the matter of helping those who could be in danger and those who already were.
"Where is she, Namken?" breathed James.
"She's safe," Parker commented. "You can trust me on that."
"Can I?" snarled James.
"Of course you can," said Parker, his voice all too comfortable and happy for such a matter with his enemy in front of him. "Because here's something we have in common, Potter. We both have feelings for her. Well, you used her as a one night stand. I, on the other hand, happen to love her. So yes, of course she's safe. I would not harm her."
James grew still and felt his face grow hot. He could feel his father's surprise as his gaze moved to him. He tried to ignore Harry's surprise. He didn't need his father knowing that. Parker was wrong in one thing though: he didn't hold the feelings for Clancy that Parker assumed he did. James only cared for her; his infatuation with her had been a momentary thing.
"I think you would hurt anyone to get what you wanted," said James.
"You're quite right," agreed Parker with a roll of his shoulders. "There are but two exceptions."
"And let's see, one of them's your mother. You momma's boy," snarled James. "And oh, wait, we've already got her."
Parker was clearly taken aback by James' taunting in that moment. His hands dropped to his side, and his mouth fell open. In that moment, both Harry and James could see his humanity peak through his dark exterior, for the concern for his mother was evident in his expression.
"You're lying," dared Parker.
Harry watched James carefully; James clearly wasn't one to strategize before speaking, but Harry knew this was a delicate situation. They had to work it the right way if they were to best him in any way. Harry didn't know where James was planning on going with his taunting, but the mention of the capture of Pansy clearly pulled Parker's humanity to the surface, and so Harry let James continue to play the cards.
"We're not," snickered James. "She was picked up this afternoon by the Aurors. Seems like you left too large a breadcrumb trail, Namken. Really, how idiotic was it of you to show your face to Scorpius and Lily? You know Scorpius of all people would recognize you. Considering the fact that your plan's only been activated for less than 24 hours and we're already got your mum, it seems like you're doing a pretty poor job with this whole revenge thing."
"You shut your fucking mouth!" roared Parker. He didn’t need this taunting. Besides, he did have his reasons for showing himself to Scorpius, and they would be revealed in good time. "Don't test me. Do not push me. I am the one calling the shots here, Potter. Or do you need reminding? Shall I remind you that your brother lies in a hospital with no means of being saved? Need I remind you that I am the only one who has the power to save him?! I'd be careful what you say, because all I have to do is stab another family member - perhaps leave the wound a little deeper this time - and they'll be wiped off the grid like poor Albus soon will be."
James gave a snarl but had nothing to retort. This seemed to satisfy Parker, for he sneered. "Exactly, so not think yourself so high and mighty. Do not think that you have power over me. Do not think that you can best me. In fact, let's see how you cope under some real pressure."
Harry and James both tensed at that statement. What did he mean by it? Parker's lips tugged up into his perfected smirk, and he pulled a coin from his pocket. He rubbed it twice with two fingers, and it began to glow in his hand. Only a few moments later, the familiar crack of apparation sounded the arrival of another party, having been summoned by Parker's coin call.
A man with long brown hair appeared. His clothes were mangled, and he needed a shave, but neither the Potters could worry about the man's appearance or the Dark Mark blazing on his left arm. What mattered was Dominique in his grasp and on her knees in front of them. She had tears running down her cheeks, and they could tell she was magically bound for seeing the way her legs were contorted beneath her.
"Jamie!" Dominique cried out, but before she could say another word, the man who had taken her captive silenced her with a wave of his wand. She frantically looked about her surroundings to take in where her captor had taken her. When she recognized, Parker, she tried to give a wild scream even as her mouth was magically clamped shut. She thrashed and tried to get away, but it was to no avail.
"What are you doing with her?!" roared James. "Let her go! She isn't a part of this! Leave her out of it!"
"I don't think so," suggested Parker. "In fact, I think we'll keep her for a little leverage."
"What sort of leverage?" asked Harry. "What do you want form us? We're willing to negotiate if your terms are reasonable."
James shot Harry and incredulous look, wide eyed, and his mouth agape. "Like hell we are, Da - "
Harry raised a hand and gave him a stern look to silence him. Bewildered, James clamped his mouth shut. Parker, however, quickly interrupted them.
"No," said Parker quickly, shaking his head. "This is not a negotiation. There are no terms to negotiate in this. This is revenge. This is me taking back what you damn Potters owe to my father! This is me in charge: no negotiating, just the plan, and just those in your abundance of loved ones whom I have condemned to die!"
At Parker's last statement, Dominique let out a muffled cry, sinking further to the ground and squeezing her eyes shut as her tears escaped. James hated seeing her like this; she was one of the fiercest people James had ever known, strong and courageous. He thought nothing could scare her, and so seeing her truly terrified was a genuine reality check.
"Here is where you have a choice," suggested Parker. "You can give me back my mother, and I'll give you back the Weasley here. Or you can give me back my mother, and I'll show you the way to the phoenixes. Either way, you’re giving my mother back to me. You just have one choice to make, so which will it be? Al's life? Or Dominique's?"
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