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Chapter 24 : the end (part three)
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“There,” Scorpius said, pointing. Not twenty feet away was Dom, hiding behind an upturned table and looking grimy and tired but otherwise none the worse for her imprisonment.
“Dom!” I called, and she looked up, her face breaking out into a rare smile.
“Get your arses over here,” she yelled back. “I’ll cover you!”
She twisted her arm over the table, firing spells, and Scorp and I took advantage of the confusion by running to her shelter, collapsing behind it.
“You’ve got some cracking bruises coming up on your neck, Rose,” Dom said, ducking down behind the barrier again. “What the hell happened?”
“Some dickhead tried to strangle me,” I said, my hands going to my throat. The skin was tender and it still hurt a little to breathe. “He won’t do it again. Have you seen Hugo?”
“Oh, how are you, Dom? How have you been? I’ve missed you, Dom! It must have been horrible being in prison while I was off playing James Bond with my fancy boyfriend!” Sarcasm dripped from every word, and I supposed I deserved it a little, but it comforted me as well. Dom was her usual self.
I rolled my eyes. “Yeah, it must have been, you look terrible.”
Dom glared at me. “It wasn’t exactly five star.”
“Are you okay though?”
She waved me off nonchalantly. “I’m fine, just messing with you. Hugo is way over on the other side of the room. Last time I saw him, he didn’t have a scratch on him. You want covering fire? Lily is on the next sofa over.”
I didn’t even have time to thank her before she started to shoot over the top of her table, one eye closed for accuracy, a terrible habit that I had tried extremely hard to get her to stop.
Scorp took my hand again and we stood up to run. Lily was only twenty feet or so away, but it might as well have been the Atlantic. A spell came in from the side, like a silver gunshot, trailing white sparks so it looked like a firework. It was too quick for me to deflect it, but it missed me by less than half a metre. Still holding my hand, Scorpius sagged to the floor, nearly pulling me down with him.
I sank to my knees next to him, panic rising in my throat.
He coughed, and there was blood on his lips. “I’m fine, calm down, I’m fine.”
He coughed again, and wiped his mouth with the back of his hand. He saw the blood and his eyes widened. “Okay, maybe not so much.”
“Can you move? We need to get you to shelter.”
“I can move,” he said, and we managed to get behind Lily’s sofa, me dragging him the last couple of yards.
“What happened?” she asked, risking a shot over the sofa. There was a yell as it hit its target.
“He got hit,” I said shortly. “Where’s Hugo? Scorp, where does it hurt?”
Lily pointed across the room. “He’s over there somewhere, with Lorcan I think.”
Relief washed over me like a wave. He was okay. Lorcan would look after him. Scorpius looked confused. Confused and scared. “Scorp, where does it hurt?”
My relief was just as quickly replaced by fear. “What?”
“I can’t feel a damn thing,” he said.
Lily was listening, and knew already who I wanted. “Louis is just there,” she said. “I’ll cover you.”
Scorpius tried to protest, but was cut off by a hacking cough and I was already on my feet, running to Louis’ shelter, behind an upturned table. I slid to a stop, nearly kicking Louis.
“Red!” He enveloped me in a bear hug, before looking at me critically. “You’ve lost too much weight. You look like a ghost.”
“Scorpius,” I managed to get out.
“What is it?”
“Some white, silver spell. It knocked him down and he’s coughing blood but he says it doesn’t hurt,” I said, trying to hold back tears but they were choking me up. We can’t have come this far together with it to end now.
Louis didn’t even look worried. “Don’t worry Rosie,” he said, giving me his big brother half-smile. “Lily?” he called.
“On it!” she yelled back, sending a barrage of spells so quick and fast at the mix of witches and wizards there were a couple of surprise yells.
Louis pushed me to my feet and we covered the metres to Lily and Scorpius easily enough. He was lying flat, one hand on his forehead.
“I’m cold,” he said, and his teeth were chattering, his lips flecked with blood.
“It was white?” Louis said.
I nodded. “And it left a trail of sparks,” I told him, grabbing onto Scorpius’ hand, if only to feel his pulse. Louis lifted up Scorpius’ shirt, revealing a black stain spreading across the centre of his chest like spilt ink.
“What is that?” I asked, my fingers pressed against Scorpius’ wrist, matching my breaths with the pumping of his blood, trying to calm myself.
“The spell. Not so pretty now, is it? I can fix this,” he said. “Kinda.”
“Some help, Rose?” Lily said, and Louis nodded.
“You can leave Scorp to me.”
I registered that Louis was using his nickname, and feeling reassured, turned to Lily. “What’s the situation?”
“We’re screwed, basically,” she said. “There’s too many of them to make a real difference and they’ve got some kind of a barrier protecting them from all the really lethal spells, so we can only hit them with minor hexes and a few charms.”
“Have you tried confringo?” I suggested, my hand still in Scorpius’. “Don’t aim it at them, aim at the wall above them, and try to bring it down on their heads?”
Lily raised an eyebrow. “That’s good.”
“Thank you,” I said, peering above the sofa before arching my arm and shooting a Blasting Curse above their heads. The crash made us cover our ears, but when the dust cleared only the panelling had been scorched off the wall. Behind me, Louis was muttering spells under his breath, his hands hovering over Scorpius.
“Got any other ideas?” Lily asked, sending a Jelly-Legs Jinx at one man’s bald head and hitting him straight between the eyes, causing him to uncontrollably jerk out of sight.
“We need to get behind the barrier,” I said. “How far does it stretch?”
“Too close to them. We tried that already.”
I rolled my eyes. “There has to be a way,” I said, grinding my teeth in frustration. “We can’t hurt them too badly, right? So something that could just knock them out?”
“We’ve tried Stunning, it doesn’t work. What are you getting at?”
“A sleeping charm? Capio dormio?”
Lily looked sceptical. “You want to make them fall asleep?”
“It’s the one Hagrid uses when he has to reset an animal’s leg or something. They’re out for hours, and they don’t feel a thing. Pretty sure my parents used it on me and Hugo when we were younger.”
“Capio dormio?” Lily repeated. I nodded, and she shrugged. “Worth a try.”
Before I could say another word, she had launched the spell. It travelled almost lazily, snaking its way across the no-man’s land, and then a woman with dark hair collapsed. “It worked,” she said, and high fived me. “Cover me, I’m going to tell the others.”
I sent an attack of brightly coloured spells over the sofa, which gave her enough time to get to James and Lysander, who were not far away. I leaned over and called as loudly as I dared to Dom.
“Capio dormio! It’ll send them to sleep!”
She looked as unimpressed as Lily, and sent the spell without even looking at her opponents, but after the wizard slumped over his table and had to be pulled back by his friends she gave me a thumbs up and started to attack with ferocity.
“How is he?” I asked, but Louis didn’t look up.
“It’s tough. Shut up a second.”
I wasn’t saying anything anyway, but I gently held Scorpius’ hand, running my fingers across his scarred palm. A little colour was coming back into his cheeks. Louis sat back on his heels.
“Do you want to try sitting up?”
Scorpius managed it, if a little wobbly. I lifted his shirt up. His skin which had been black was now a soft red, like a fever, except for a small patch of ebony.
“That’s where the spell hit,” Louis said. “You should be fine for a bit, but it’s a kind of poison which numbs you while it corrodes your insides, and some is still in your system. When we’re done you need to go to a hospital straight away, you hear me? I can’t tell how much damage has been done.”
I grabbed Scorpius, kissing him and pulling him into a relieved hug.
“Not that numb, Rosie,” he mumbled into my hair. “Get off.”
I released him quickly. “You okay? You sure?”
“I feel okay. A little unsteady.”
“Is it over?” Louis said suddenly, and I became aware of the silence. Dom shot down a guy trying to run for the door and the thump of his body hitting the floor was the loudest thing in the room. I stood up, helping Scorpius to his feet, and looked around. Sleeping bodies littered the other side of the room.
James’ voice rang out. “Dom, Louis, Lysander, check them.”
Louis rolled his eyes, but got up, crossing the room. Scorpius picked up my hand, and I turned to him, smiling.
“Is this really over?” he said.
“There’s still Carrow to find,” I said. “It looks like it though.”
Scorpius broke into a huge grin, and I kissed him, throwing my arms around his neck. We made it. All of us made it. I hugged him and he lifted me off my feet, spinning me around slightly before staggering and nearly dropping me.
“Whoa there,” I said, laughing, and then there was a yell. Hugo’s voice.
There was a burst of green light and my brother crumpled. From the shadows of the drapery, a figure burst out and sprinted to the door with an awkward, lumbering gait. A poorly fired spell from someone set alight the curtains, but missed the figure and they made it to the door, disappearing from view.
I had left Scorpius before he had even realised what had happened and sprinted to Hugo, falling to the floor on my knees. His brown eyes stared up at the ceiling, glassy. I tried to frantically feel for a pulse, for breath, for anything. Louis pushed me out of the way, and I tried to stand but I couldn’t, my knees weak.
I didn’t realise I was screaming until my throat started to hurt.
Scorpius’ arms were encircling me, tears in his eyes and I knew they weren’t for Hugo, they were for me. I could hardly move, my limbs stiff and it felt like the only thing keeping me whole, keeping me together, was Scorpius. He was shielding me from Hugo, wanting to keep me from looking into his dead eyes, but I needed him almost as much as I needed Scorpius.
My brother. Hugo. The one thing that was genuinely good and innocent in my life of criminality and darkness. It wasn’t worth it. Nothing was worth this sacrifice. I thought about going back to our apartment, alone. Family meals with a spare seat at the table. Distantly, I could hear people crying, and it slowly brought me back to the present, although I felt like I was clawing my way back to sanity.
I gently pushed Scorpius away, and he let me go. Hugo still lay where he fell, Louis’ attempts to revive him unsuccessful. The only person to ever survive the Killing Curse was our uncle.
I moved a lock of his curly hair from his forehead, and kissed it gently, feeling like I was carved from stone. His skin was chilly. Sitting in clumps around him were the rest of our family, eyes red from crying. James was holding onto Lily and Albus, Dom was with Victoire and Louis, Molly and Lucy holding hands. Lorcan and Lysander stood near each other, Lorcan’s face showing that he was aching for my loss, like Scorpius. Even Fred and Roxanne were sat together, his arm around his little sister’s shoulders. There was just me alone, without a sibling. Scorpius’ hand was in mine, his fingers warm and rough. He didn’t say anything, but he didn’t need to for me to know that he was there.
I unlaced his fingers and left the room, striding purposefully down the corridor, but my hands shook. I realised I wasn’t crying. The corridor was dark, but I didn’t need to know where I was going. I just needed to get away.
I started to run, the blood roaring in my ears and my heart pounding. I heard a shout behind me, but I ignored it. Perhaps I could wake up, turn back time, be there for my brother when he needed me, or sacrifice myself in some way so he could live instead.
A silvery creature ran out in front of me, and I skidded to a stop, afraid I’d hurt it, but it was a Patronus, as substantial as smoke. It was a badger, I realised, as it lumbered off down the corridor in front of me, occasionally turning back to watch me. I followed it.
The room it led me to was strange, too big to be a study but too small to be a library. Three walls were stacked high with bookshelves, tall windows opening out onto the Yorkshire moors, the light of the moon just creeping through, throwing strange shadows.
“Lumos,” I whispered.
“Is this the end then?” a voice said, and I lifted my wand to see Carrow. He used his wand to light the candelabra on a large teakwood desk, and turned to face me. He was tall and thin, leaning on the table like his legs pained him.
“Yes it is,” I said, but I made no move to strike him. I was numb.
“What are you going to do?”
“I’m going to kill you,” I said, and I surprised myself with the conviction in my voice. It wasn’t an empty threat.
Carrow merely raised an eyebrow. “Really? No trial, no jury? You aren’t going to take me back to the Ministry so I can be shut up in Azkaban for the rest of my life?”
I stared at him, unblinking. “No,” I said. “I don’t want you to think about what you have done. I don’t want you to repent while you rot in a cell. I want to make sure that you can never touch any of my family again.”
That’s when Carrow’s face changed, and he started to look scared. In his mind, we didn’t figure at all in his plans. Every step of the way, our resourcefulness, our cunning, our continued survival... it was all a surprise to him. We were a means to an end. Our parents were the ones who needed punishing, the bad people. But that was where he was wrong. We were the bad guys too.
He whipped up his wand and shot a jet of green light at me, but I sidestepped it as easily as pulling pints. There was no adrenaline or raised heart rate. I didn’t care if I died. I knew that any one of my family would kill Carrow if I failed.
There were footsteps behind me, and the rest of my family spilled into the room. Scorpius came to stand next to me, his face hard, but Carrow smiled, and I knew what he would do a second before even he had realised, and I brought my arm up and over, wordlessly casting the strongest Shield Charm I had ever made. It blossomed out in front of me, protecting my family, so powerful it was opaque.
Behind me, James raised his wand, and the others followed suit, pointing their wands at Carrow, but he just smiled.
“Share the joke,” Dom spat.
He looked so pleased with himself. “There’s still a traitor amongst you,” he said, leaning further back on the table. “Does your noble little speech still apply, Rose? When there is someone amongst you who told tales and helped bring you in? If you are going to kill me, what are you going to do to them?”
My shield flickered and died, punctured by my sudden lack of faith.
“Do you want to know who it is?” he said.
“It’s me,” someone said, before Carrow had a chance to continue. I turned to see Lorcan, his brown eyes wide and wet. “It’s me,” he said, shaking his head like even he couldn’t believe it. My already sore heart was wrenched apart again, so painful I thought I could hear it ripping.
“I got caught red handed by Carrow a year ago, and there was enough to send me to Azkaban for life, or get deported. The Fraternity was already working for him and he said that if I didn’t help him, then I would condemn you all. I didn’t know what he was planning, I swear, and then when this happened he caught Lysander and said he’d kill him...”
Lorcan trailed off, perhaps realising his excuses would never be enough.
Carrow clapped, the noise echoing. “A beautiful confession,” he said. “But I’m afraid I can’t let you say anymore.”
He shot a spell at Lorcan, tearing through the shredded remnants of my Shield, aiming straight for him, but didn’t count on Lysander, who covered fifteen metres or so to push his twin out the way. The spell caught his shoulder, sending him spinning like a rag doll, but Lorcan fell to the ground unharmed, and Louis was with Lysander immediately.
Carrow tried to run for it, crashing through the window and landing on the flowerbeds outside with a short yell. I didn’t think twice before jumping out after him. We were only on the second floor, and my sore ankle twanged but I stayed upright.
He was trying to get away, get out of the constraints of the Anti-Apparating Charm on the mansion, but he couldn’t run fast enough.
I lifted my arm, half whispering the words, and green light streamed from my wand, hitting him squarely in the back. His arms flung up, almost in surprise, before he dropped to the ground like a stone. I didn’t go to check the body. He was dead.
A/N: That is the end of this story. Well, nearly. There is a one shot planned and mostly written for Rose and Scorpius after this, and two sequels planned also, so keep an eye out. Update: my one shot is now out, called 'Heart Without a Home'.
Thank you so much for reading and reviewing my story. Finishing this was hard and I couldn't have done it without any readers; you made this story as much as I did. Every single review and read is precious to me. I hope you liked it, and I hope you continue to keep a look out for more of my stuff and more from Rose. Thank you.
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