Chapter 6 : Entrée par effraction
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"Merde, merde, merde," Camille swears as her feet hit the floorboards of the apartment. Uncaring of Johanna or Jean's sleep patterns, she waves her wand over the table, sending its contents flying neatly to the ground, and hoists Xavier up on it instead. She cannot hear him breathe anymore.
Gingerly, she unbuttons his dark shirt to reveal his wounded stomach, and her hand flies to her mouth immediately. Blood is everywhere, seeping through the various layers of fabric and onto the table.
"JOHANNA!" Camille roars as she goes to the sink and washes her hands. Her friend stumbles in, wand raised and hair down, and she lets out a shriek as she sees Xavier.
"Shot," Camille replies shortly, examining the wound more closely now. The bullet doesn't seem to be lodged in too deeply, which is a relief. "You're the one who deals with wounds here, what do we do?"
"Tweezers," Johanna flicks her wand, "bandages, alcohol, a clean dishcloth, a knife." As she speaks, the objects float across the room and settle on the table next to Xavier. "Use incendio on the blade, it'll sterilise it."
"Where is Jean?" Camille questions as she does as instructed.
"Out. Went to Mme Lucille's place."
"For the girls or for the drinks?"
The corners of Johanna's mouth, despite the situation, curl up in amusement. "Neither, of course. Espionage mission. Apparently tonight is permission night for a couple officers, who went to Lucille's to have fun, and Jean is paying for the drinks in the hopes of them saying something." Then her eyes flicker back to Xavier and she ties her hair back wearily. "I need you to petrify him. We have no pain reliever, so this is going to hurt, and if he thrashes about it'll be even worse."
Once that is done, Johanna winces, grasps the knife tightly, and gently presses it to Xavier's body. Swiftly, she makes a small incision, and begins poking about carefully.
"Drench the dishcloth in vodka, will you?" she orders Camille. "I wish we had medical disinfectant, but this will have to do. Aha!" With a triumphant cry, she extracts the bullet with the tweezers, and holds her hand out, briskly snapping her fingers. Camille promptly slaps the cloth soaked in cheap alcohol into her waiting hand, which Johanna uses to disinfect the wound. She then presses the tip of her wand to it. It glows a bright white, and she hastily wraps a bandage tightly around it.
"His stomach wasn't touched, thank God," she breathes. "A surgeon would have done a better job, but I think he'll be alright. What he needs now is a double dose of Sleeping Draught, which I'll go get right now. Can you lift the spell? He needs to be conscious or I'm afraid he'll choke on the potion."
Johanna leaves the room as Camille uses her wand over Xavier's body once more. His eyes snap open and he lets out a howl of pain. She takes one of his hands in hers, and he immediately tightens his grip around it.
It kills her knuckles, but she doesn't move. "Just one more minute, and then I swear it'll stop hurting," she soothes. "Don't pass out before Jo comes back, okay?" He nods, teeth clenched, and Camille allows herself to fall into a nearby chair, still holding Xavier's hand. Johanna is back minutes later, a vial in hand. She feeds Xavier two spoonfuls of it, levitates his body to the couch, and plops down next to Camille, wiping her brow.
Camille stares pointedly at the table, and Johanna follows her gaze to the blood stains. She bites her lip, but nerves take over and she lets out a short peal of laughter, which Camille responds to immediately. They mutually trigger each other's laughter until both are holding their ribs and shaking in their seats. After a few deep breaths, Camille manages to stop wheezing.
"Shall I clean and you tend to him or the other way around?"
"I'll clean," Johanna decides. "I know you can't keep your hands off him anyway."
"That is not true," Camille protests weakly. Johanna spares her a sceptical glance.
"It wasn't until recently, but your attitude to him is changing, and that isn't something you can deny. I've seen you with him when you were engaged: you're falling back into the same relationship, minus the physical intimacy." As Camille opens her mouth to retort, Johanna smiles. "When I say you, I don't mean just you. I mean both of you."
Flustered, Camille shakes her head, before making some sort of sneezing noise and throwing her hands up in surrender.
She knows I'm right, Johanna smirks to herself as Camille removes Xavier's bloodied shirt and covers him with a blanket. She knows; it's only a question of time before she admits it.
When Camille comes to sit back down, the table is clean and a mug of steaming tea awaits her.
"Right, so what exactly did Jean say about tonight? Does he even have his wand with him?"
"No he doesn't, he thought it'd be safer. And I'm not actually sure, but from what I understood he was going to try and get the fritz to drink more than they should, in order to get classified information out of them."
"And if he gets caught, what are our options?"
"Explode the Kommandantur, of course."
Camille spits out her mouthful of tea, scanning Johanna's face for a hint of humour. She finds none. "Mais il est fou! There's no chance of us pulling off something like that!"
"Of course not," Johanna sniffs with disdain. "Which is why if it doesn't work, we're going to have to get him out according to our own rules."
"Which we'll have to improvise, I suppose?"
"I'm afraid so…"
"What do you suggest?"
"Decoys. Or the Imperius curse."
Camille ponders this for a moment. "I'd say a bit of both. We'll need Imperio, but I don't think it'll allow us to act fast enough."
"Imperio one of the soldiers then, Petrify him, and Polyjuice to do the trick? Do we have any left?"
"Enough for this, yes, but I'll need to brew more afterwards and I don't know where I'll find the ingredients. Back to the subject on hand though, when do we need to kick into action?"
"It's four in the morning. If by eight Jean isn't back, we'll have to do something about it." She lets out a wide yawn. "I'm going to bed; try to get some sleep as well."
Camille just nods. "Not tired yet. Bonne nuit, Johanna."
"Jean isn't back. It's half past eight."
Camille hoists herself up with difficulty. "Where am I?"
"You fell asleep slumped on the kitchen table. I made you some coffee."
This gathers Camille's full attention. "How the hell did you find coffee?"
"Stole it from some rich bastard who paraded into the épicerie with rationing tickets and pushed everyone out of his way. He probably passed a lot of money under the counter as well. Now drink up, we've got a Nazi base to infiltrate."
The beverage is scalding hot, burning Camille's throat as she gulps it down, but it is the first time in months that she has had a proper coffee, and while she would like to savour it, she is unable to.
"So," Johanna lays a piece of paper flat on the table, "this is an approximate drawing of the zone surrounding the Kommandantur. There's only one entrance, therefore only one exit."
"Limited. Prisoners are held on the ground floor or in the basement, and there are guards everywhere."
"One of us infiltrates the building, with the cover of a Nazi officer. He's here to take Jean away to Paris to interrogate him because apparently he's included in a bigger scandal."
"That's never going to work: we don't speak German, we have no idea who does what…"
"We don't have a choice, do we?"
Camille sighs. No, they don't have a choice, and they knew what they were signing up for. The group functions like a pack of wolves: protect the others, even if it means putting your life at stake.
"What are our chances of making it out alive?"
"One out of ten, probably less," Johanna answers quietly.
Camille lets out a low whistle.
"I know, I know… How do we do this?"
Camille looks back down at the approximate map, gnawing on the inside of her cheek. "You use Imperio, yours is much stronger than mine. Make sure the solider won't be a nuisance afterwards –"
"Permanently or temporarily?"
"Temporary for now, though we might need to dispose of him afterwards."
"Right. I'll go for an officer then. Who's going to impersonate him?" Camille hesitates, and Johanna cuts her off before she can say anything. "No matter. We need to complete phase one first."
There is a faint pop, and Johanna disappears.
Without a moment's pause, Camille raises her wand. A vial of Polyjuice Potion comes zooming out from underneath the sink, followed by a heavy book that trundles heavily about and smashes a teacup as it lands. Rapidly, she flips through the pages, her fingers lightly trailing across the pages as she searches their content.
"Aha!" she mutters victoriously as the words Infusion du Linguiste jump out at her. "Salamander blood, armadillo bile, belladonna, ginger, ground scarab beetle, powdered dragon claw, and one jobberknoll feather. Brewing time, one hour. Let's get this done."
A jab of her wand turns a dinner plate into a cauldron, and another has a fire crackling under it. With precise, rapid movements, she slices, grounds and chops her ingredients, tossing them in one after the other.
The potion simmers, hissing and fizzling as Camille adds three drops of armadillo bile. It turns a vivid shade of red, coughing out a few puffs of crimson smoke; then she adds the feather, the last one she has, causing the mixture to dull to a blue-tinged grey paste that shrinks rapidly.
"God damn it!" Johanna swears loudly, hitting her elbow against the wall as she reappears inside the room, thus making Camille scream. "Sorry."
"Do you have the hair?" Camille asks, heart thudding in her ribcage.
"Yes. What's this?" She points to the frothing brew.
"This will make us speak German for about an hour. Same effect length as Polyjuice, if you will."
Johanna beams. "Excellent. Now we need to decide who'll be infiltrating."
"You want to go, don't you? Thrill of adventure and all that."
Johanna looks slightly bashful, but nods.
"Alright then, that much is settled. Now, here's what you're going to do. Impersonating a soldier, you're going to get into the building. Keep a low profile – if no one talks to you, you head directly to the cells. There are probably anti-Apparition wards up, most likely on a one hundred meter radius, which means you need to run that far. I don't think you'll have a problem getting in, nor finding Jean. The complicated part will be running away."
"Which is when you're going to come in. I looked around just now for more spatial details, and there's an old car in the opposite right corner. I need you to set fire to it, or even better, to use this."
Johanna rolls a grenade, seemingly appeared out of nowhere, onto the table. Camille's jaw drops.
"Where did you get this?"
"Leftovers from Xavier's last raid. You know how to use it, right?"
"Who do you think I am? Of course I know how to use it."
Next to her, a cloud of steam erupts out of the cauldron, and Camille hastily points her wand at it to cool it down. A small grey lump lies at the bottom, which she gingerly fishes out.
"I'm going to give you this only once I've explained how it works. You'll understand German, you'll understand French, but you won't be able to speak French, understood? Whatever you need to say in German, think it in French, it'll spontaneously come out as German, as soon as I've added a drop of Polyjuice potion with the hair inside. Once you've drunk, we have one hour."
Johanna drops three fine strands of blond hair into the vial of Polyjuice Camille hands her. It turns a light shade of peach, which she downs rapidly. Camille throws a small chunk of the grey substance into the last few drops, and Johanna swallows that too, pulling a very sour face.
Her hair shoots back into her head, turning much fairer; she sprouts upwards, her hands become larger and more weathered.
As she evolves, Camille waves her wand, transfiguring her friend's clothes, and when the transformation is complete, it takes every gram of self-control in her body not to murder the Nazi standing in her kitchen. She rapidly changes his hair colour and jaw shape, just so that he is unrecognisable. Polyjuice Potion gave Camille the canvas to work on, but she is the artist.
She does not understand the response, so she nods, Accio'ing her coat to her.
"Go," Camille orders, sliding a spare wand into Johanna's pocket. "Here's Jean's wand. Apparate away, and do whatever you need to come back alive with him."
The Kommandantur has set its quarters inside the hôtel de ville, the Nazi head sealing off all the entrances but one. It has taken Johanna almost three quarters of an hour to find access to the basement. She is halfway down on the way to the cells when a loud shout interrupts her.
"Hey you! What are you doing?"
"I'm here on Paris' orders. I'm to take the terrorist you arrested last night with me to the headquarters for interrogation." Thankfully, her German seems to be fluent, as the other man does not comment on it.
"We haven't received any orders about this, nor sent out any information."
"Perhaps that is because it does not concern the sub-officers, but only the officers such as me."
His eyes narrow as he looks at Johanna more closely, and she concentrates on maintaining a normal breathing rate. Suddenly, he pulls a pistol out of his belt, pointing it straight at her.
"Your badges aren't on the right side. Who are you?"
Swearing in her head, Johanna whips her wand out and Stuns the man across her before he can say anything, then clatters down the stairs. He is only stunned, so she has three minutes before he starts alerting everyone else.
Keeping a tight hold on her wand, which she has now stashed into her pocket, she slows down to avoid raising suspicions. It is apparently inefficient, as the soldier guarding the corridor leading to the cells raises up a hand.
"Petrificus Totalus!" she hisses, satisfied as he freezes. Roughly, she shoves him out of the way after stealing his keys and begins to run down the stone hallway, peering into each prison for Jean.
She finally finds him at the far end, but as she unlocks the door to his cell he throws himself at her, desperately punching every part of her body he can access.
"It's me, it's me!" she cries, momentarily forgetting that he cannot understand her. "Johanna!"
The look on his face as he realises who this is would be priceless in any other situation, but in these circumstances it is not.
Raising a finger to her lips, she flicks her wand, making a pair of shackles appear around his wrists, and grips him by the arm. He winces in pain – it seems to be broken, Johanna realises in horror, but she has no choice.
Apparently though, there is no need for their cover, as German reinforcements start filling the corridor.
"Putain," she hears Jean mutter, and she can't help but agree with him. She magically removes the shackles and hands him his wand, which he holds with difficulty.
"Bombarda Maxima!" Johanna roars, pointing her wand straight at the human wave in front of her. Without another moment's pause, she pushes Jean forward into the space she has just cleared, and they run straight out, up the stairs, and through the main entrance, running past Nazi soldiers who have yet to fully understand what is happening to them.
They tear out into the street, and as they leave the plaza she hears a huge explosion, followed by flames that erupt from a house just next to the Kommandantur. Apparently, Camille has settled for something more dramatic than just a car.
Nobody notices as Jean and Johanna streak by in the middle of the screams, smoke and gunshots; nor do they notice as they reach the corner of the street and vanish in midair.
Jean collapses onto the floorboards as soon they hit the floor of the apartment, and Camille who has popped in seconds after her two friends runs for Pepper-Up Potion.
She directly tips the bottle to Jean's mouth, forcing him to gulp three mouthfuls down. Meanwhile, Johanna grabs a chair and helps Camille sit Jean on it. He splutters because of the potion, but his eyes are clear.
"I don't understand," he croaks, "how with two girls like you around people still manage to tell tales of damsels in distress."
They smile, but the sound of footsteps in the street below makes tension rise up again like a flare.
"Were you followed?" Camille demands. "I know there are enchantments on the flat, but is there any chance we're being tracked?"
Johanna shakes her head. "If we're being tracked, it's not linked to this. We took the necessary measures, and they're all dead."
Her friend lets out a deep breath. "Thank God. Could take care of Jean's arm while I check on Xavier then?"
"Not my arm, my wrist. Those boots are thicker than I thought," Jean murmurs, eyes closing slightly. Johanna slaps him across the face.
"No falling asleep."
It takes Johanna fifteen minutes to fix his wrist as best she can, and then Camille sends everyone to bed. It may not even be midday yet, but the day is over for them.
A/N: I AM SO SORRY. Exam revision took all my time (but it paid off, I passed!), then I was off with no Internet except on my phone and I couldn't update. Hopefully, this chapter makes up for the delay? The next few chapters are written up already so I hope to get them up reasonably soon, though other stories are in desperate need of an update as well.
Now, I also have an insane list of people to thank, so unfortunately this note is going to be a while longer.
First of all, thank you to Kiana for getting the fiftieth review, ChaosWednesday for getting the sixtieth, Calypso for the seventieth, and EnigmaticEyes16 the eightieth! (THIS IS REALLY TOO OVERWHELMING TO HANDLE.)
Then, thanks to Lottie for review bombing and fangirling because of the House Cup (and because of super Sophie).
Finally, thank you to everyone who nominated Reason to Fight in the Dobbys (MissMdsty, teh tarik, AlPotterFan, siriusly89, Jchrissy, Shazalupin, soufflegirl99, my_voice_rising and CalypsoJenna) and who voted for it! This really means a lot to me, and I can't properly express how thankful I am ♥
And just a special mention to my lovely Ral, who though she has exams, still found the time to nominate this both as Most Original Story and as Gryffindor Story of the Month. You are amazing and I love you!
Mais il est fou! But he's crazy!
Bonne nuit. Good night.
Infusion du Linguiste. Linguist's Infusion
Hôtel de ville. Town Hall
Fritz. Derogative term referring to the German.
Entrée par effraction. Breaking in.
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