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Chapter 10 : Between A Rock and A Hard Place
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Disclaimer: I, sadly, do not own the lovely world of Harry Potter or its characters.
absolutely stunning chapter image by wishaway. & TDA
When I left Rose's bedroom, my actions surprised myself. She could tell me all she wanted that it was a nightmare, but I wouldn't believe it. There was no way it was a nightmare. She had even slipped up a few times. She almost admitted it to me. Clearly it was something more; she was just too scared to say so.
That meant that someone was after her. Someone was hurting her, harming her, frightening her, and when I left her bedroom, anger took over the calm tranquility that had quickly taken over in her room. I ran to my room and bolted the door behind me, blasting the smooth jazz once more. She couldn't fool me. I would let her believe that it was a nightmare all she wanted, but two could play that game. Two were already playing that game and she wasn't even aware of it.
Rose is a smart girl. I can only begin to comprehend what she is playing at.
All I know now is that someone is trying to hurt her, and I feel like it is my duty to make sure nothing happens to her. With my door locked and my music blaring, I changed back to my normal appearance and yanked on a pair of jeans that fit properly. I apparated directly into Peakes' office. He gave a jolt, throwing his dampened quill into the air, splattering ink on a few pieces of parchment. "Merlin!" he blurted out and looked up at the intruder. He sighed and patted his chest, falling back into his chair behind the desk. "Shit, Ted."
I didn't even take the time to apologize. Hell, I wasn't sorry. "Someone is lying," I said firmly.
Peakes just looked at me for a few moments. What? Is he stupid? I gave him a harsh stare, and he finally reacted. He leaned forward and questioned me to explain myself. I only replied simply. "Someone is lying. Rose or Malfoy. One of them is lying."
"What's happened, Lupin?"
"One of them is lying," I huffed, nostrils flaring and everything. I don't remember the last time I was this angry, this defensive. "One of them is lying, and I'm going to find out who."
I turned abruptly on my heels and left the office. Peakes followed in my wake, pestering me with questions about what had happened to make me give such an accusation, but I said nothing. I was on a mission; I was determined to speak to Malfoy. If I said anything to Peakes, they wouldn't give me clearance. So I just went for it. I was suddenly running down the halls of containees, my anger just building up inside of me. I knew I would regret acting so harshly and on impulse later on, but for now, I couldn't care less.
I finally reached the room Malfoy had been relocated to. I walked right past the guards, and I threw the door open. There he was, relaxing on the thin mattress of a bed he had been provided. He sat up right quickly, surprised at the intrusion.
"Lupin?" he asked quickly, and when he knew I was coming for him, he put his hands up in defense as if they would stop me.
I grasped him by the collar of his shirt and pulled him from his sitting position. He made an odd noise and beat weakly at my hands in surprise, trying to ward me off. I gave him a violent shake.
"Tell me what you know!" I ordered. Malfoy cringed, and noticing that I was having an effect on him, I barked again, "I said, tell me what you know! NOW!"
I didn't even look over my shoulder. Peakes had finally caught up with me, and he was behind me, pulling me off of Malfoy. I was still shouting, wiggling around in Peakes' arms. He was restraining me, and I was vaguely aware of him shouting for the guards to come help. Finally three men were pulling me off of Malfoy, and I was still shouting. The things leaving my mouth were a mix of obscenities and demands. I think I even threw a punch in there until Peakes had my arms restrained by my side.
He hauled me out of the cell, and the last thing I saw before the door slammed shut again was Malfoy's petrified face as he scrambled off of the ground, readjusting his shirt that I had stretched to a ridiculous extent.
"He knows something!" I could finally comprehend my words. "He has to! He knows something!"
"Lupin, calm down this instant!" I heard Peakes shout in my ear. "You're making a fool of yourself."
With Peakes and the guards restraining my arms, I quieted and nodded "All right," I said quietly.
When he believed me, the three of them finally let go and backed away. I stood up straight and adjusted my askew t-shirt. Swallowing down my heavy pant, I turned to Peakes. When I met his infuriated gaze, I only relized what I had done. I had made a scene. I had been seen bolting across the Ministry of Magic like a mad fool. Luckily, they didn't know where I was going or what I was up to. The containee hall was relatively empty, so that was a plus. But I had evaluate myself. What had I just done?
I didn't rage very often. I only ever recall being furious one other time. It was back when Victoire and I were still dating. We were on a date and had gone dancing. I was utterly appalled when some pervert had slapped Victoire's bum. I punched him square in the face without thinking twice. I only got furious when I felt protective of someone or something. Granted, I also did tend to have a shorter fuse when the full moon was around. So that is always a part of it, but I never liked to blame the moon for any rages I may have.
But in this situation, I didn't think I had a choice.
I swallowed and stuttered out quickly, "Sorry. That was rash. Full moon this week and all."
My attempt at jumping Malfoy made me realize how protective I had grown of Rose. It made me uneasy. I loved that I wanted to protect her. It meant that I finally felt closer to her after all these years, but my reaction just now unnerved me.
"You bet your ass it was rash. Now, are you going to tell me what's going on?" Peakes questioned. The guards finally backed away and resumed the job they were being paid to do.
"When I came back, there was someone in Rose's room, and they weren't being nice either. She seemed genuinely scared, like they were threatening her. She wouldn't let me in; I had to break down the door, and once I was in, she was alone, but still scared. She tried to convince me it was a nightmare, but I know better than that. She was lying to my face. I have no doubt in my mind that it had something to do with the murder. "
"And the first thing you choose to do is try to start a fist fight with Scorpius Malfoy?" Peakes didn't seem to understand my train of thought. What wasn't he getting? I understood it perfectly.
"Well, yeah. Well, okay, not the fist fight part. But my first thought was to get Malfoy to talk. Rose was scared. Someone who sounds like that shouldn't be capable of murder. After hearing her like that and seeing her like that, of course I ruled her out. But there was no other reason for someone to be after her. There were only two sets of DNA found; that leaves Malfoy to be a player in this murder."
"I understand your reasoning, Lupin, but you can't just go jumping the containees!" Peakes groaned.
Okay, so he was right about that. Yeah, I shouldn't have acted like I was out for Scorpius Malfoy's blood or something.
In that next moment, I didn't quite know what to do next. I had done the first thing that came to mind, and that was corner Malfoy. In retrospect, I don't know what I expected. What was he gonna do? Fess up that, yeah, he was behind the murder or someone had forced him to do it. That he had framed Rose and that it was all a mistake that she had been pulled into this. What was I after? I guess thinking about Rose and her pain sends me over the edge.
But what was supposed to be next now? Where did we go from here?
Exhaling and still catching my breath, I put my hands on my hips and said in a firm voice. Ah, here's where I get my professional sense back. "We need to get both of them into Wizengamot as soon as we can."
"Look, Ted," Peakes tried to convince me right off the bat. "We can't use Veritaserum. Other than the fact that you simply aren't supposed to lie in court, it's still easy to do so and we would have no way of telling. Either of them could be guilty, but we have no way of forcing the truth from either of them, and I don't think someone's about to fess up. Until we have gained sufficient evidence, enough to convict someone, there isn't a rush."
"There is a rush if Rose's safety is being threatened! I don't know how he found us, but he did!"
"A he?" Peakes asked. I think I was temporarily taken aback by the question. I didn't think it was relevant at all, but then I came to the agreement that, really, anything would help right now.
"Yes," I nodded. "I'm positive it was a guy."
"Thanks, Ted," Peakes said. I don't know what he was trying to do exactly, but it was clear that his goad was still to cool me off. He didn't want to spur any more anger from me. I think that's why he was remaining so professional because, let's face it, Peakes isn't professional. He will just do whatever he needs to get ahead in his job placement. That's why he's so desperate to do good as Acting Head in his case. No matter what the cost. Honestly, I think he's after Harry's job, but everyone knows Harry's the only one for that position as long as Harry's alive.
If he wasn't trying to stay professional and keep me from raging again, he would be screaming his head off at me. Just like he was about to do moments ago. Good thing he's smarter than that.
"You've done enough, and you've told us everything you can. There isn't anything more you can do. I'll take this information to the lawyers and the members of Wizengamot, and they will decide what to do with it from there. It's not our department."
I think he was already trying to convince himself with those words that he had done the best he could, more so than convince me. I just nodded and he kept on going.
"But you can't give away anything to Weasley. It's vital that you keep your cool there. We can't relocate you; it would be too suspicious to the Weasley girl. You can't blow your cover, so for now, we can't do anything. The only thing you can do is go back there, set up those charms and keep everyone possible out. Also, talk to her. Get closer to her. Then maybe she'll open up to you."
I didn't say anything. I was thinking over his words to me. Become her friend so she could confide in me? Become her friend just so I could help Peakes get ahead in the case and help solve it? Yes, it would be wonderful to find everything out, and I've always wanted to be able to call Rose my friend, but I wish that it wouldn't be under such forced conditions. I felt like I was breaking a whole new level of trust.
He kept on going. "Become her confidant. She'll have something helpful to say, no matter which direction it goes. She might have leads. She could be the guilty one. If she confesses to you, we can convict her."
I felt my chest puff out in anger again. I held my breath, keeping all my rage inside with it. How could I do that to Rose? Use our new friendship like that? This was wrong on so many levels. If she was guilty, Rose would rot in Azkaban for the rest of her life, loathing me for betraying her. Her family would probably hate me too for throwing their daughter into Azkaban. But even if Rose is innocent and isn't put in Azkaban, she will certainly learn eventually that it was me all along, and then she would hate me forever for betraying her trust like that.
This wasn't going anywhere good. What had I gotten myself into?
I want to quit. Right here, right now. I know Rose will never trust me again, despite whatever outcome. Let's face it, her trust had already been thrown down the drain, but I also felt as if I had a moral obligation to see this case through. I was vital to this layout of confinement. I could find out the exact information we needed. I was just letting my emotions get in the way.
I exhaled and looked Peakes in the eye. He had been staring at me for quite some time. Drowning in my tormented thoughts, I just hadn't noticed. He was waiting for some kind of reaction from me. I finally spoke, voicing other worries, but on a bigger scale, my words were no comparison to my feelings of losing Rose as a friend forever after this case. "I'm doing my best. Keep in mind that I still have to act like Malfoy. I'm doing my best to be him while trying to warm up to her.
He pressed one more time to make sure I got the point. "I don't care. You better make it fast. Malfoy and the Weasley girl have their hearing in two weeks, and I want this case closed by the end of that hearing. No more extensions. Become her friend, become someone she can trust. Become her lover for all I care. Just get her to fess up to whatever she knows."
"And if she knows nothing?" I asked.
He turned on his heels and headed down the corridor. His ambiance gave me a rotting feeling in the pit of my stomach. I didn't trust Peakes. He was up to no good. His words made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up, made me feel obligated to see this case through even further for fear of Rose being harmed by Peakes himself. "Then that is a different matter that I will tend to," he said with a smirk.
He left me to stand in the containee corridor in shock. I slid against the wall to recuperate for a few moments as I thought things over.
I know Peakes wants Harry's job. But does he want it so badly to the extent that he would break the law? His words were not pointless; there was a deeper meaning to them that I had yet to understand. If I didn't do my job, if I didn't wiggle the truth free from Rose, would he force it from her? Would he hurt her? Shove Veritaserum down her throat?
The thoughts made me cringe. I was suddenly felt as if I were between a rock and a hard place. Torn between my want to whisk Rose away to some place where no one would ever find her, to turn Peakes in and call it quits. Then I was torn to see this case through to protect Rose from Peakes, to do the job and prove my thoughts that Rose had to be innocent. I had to show the world this was a huge mistake taken from a few hairs found on the Minister of Magic's dead, rotting body and tested by a few wands. Rose was innocent, and I had to prove that. I had to protect her from Peakes, but I knew I couldn't turn him in. No one would believe me if I ranted on about something that was just conjecture drawn from a snide comment.
Hell, Peakes is a big guy. I even feared he would hurt me if I opened my mouth even a centimeter.
When I finally knew what I had to do, I came out of my thoughts and realized that I was shaking. My breathing was rapid, and my palms were clammy. I finally pulled myself off of the ground and wiped my sweaty palms on my denim jeans. I stood up taller and prepared myself to perform outstandingly, to exceed Peakes' expectations. I had to do it myself if I wanted it to be done the right way.
I prepared myself to apparate back to the summer house, thinking only one thing: I have to gain Rose's trust. No matter the cost, no matter what it takes.
Back in my bedroom at the summer house, I changed quickly back into Scorpius and disposed of the jeans that I was now tripping on. I put on the correct pair, shut off the music, and crept out into the hallway. As I expected, it was deserted and the door to Rose's room was still shut. There was no doubt in my mind that she was still in there. Part of me said to leave her alone, that she had had a rough day and I should leave her alone, but I reminded myself that I had two weeks. Two weeks. That was the shortest amount of time I had ever been allotted to gain someone's trust.
I knocked weakly. I didn't want to get a rejection from her, but I also had a feeling that she was attempting to sleep. So I tried to be as gentle as possible. Her door wasn't locked, so I pushed it open and popped my head in. Sure enough, she was curled up in the large bed, drowning in the goose feathers of the plush duvet. Her hair was a mess about her head, and I couldnít tell if she was conscious or not. She didn't move or respond though, so I crept further in and shut the door behind me.
When I was fully inside, I realized I didn't quite know why I was there? What was I going to do? I was just full of spontaneous actions for the day, I guess.
I slowly approached the bed where her still form laid, and I bent over to tell if she was actually asleep. Her eyes were shut and her breathing was steady. I think it was safe to say that she was asleep. I quietly kicked my shoes off and made up my mind. Gently, I pulled back the covers and slid in next to her. I wrapped my arms around her and pulled her close. Involuntarily, she made a pleased grunt and nuzzled into my side. She buried her face into my neck, and I sighed with relief as my hands settled on her back.
She smelt of the flower she was named after mixed lightly with honey. It was pleasant, and I only smiled, allowing myself to sleep as she was.
I didn't really know what I was doing just yet. I was moving blindly and vicariously into this. If she awoke to find Scorpius Malfoy holding her, I didn't quite know what I would say. What my excuse would be. At least she wasn't waking up and shoving me out of her bed, but perhaps the shoving was just delayed by a few hours. Clearly she had willingly accepted my presence, even if she was unconscious. But if she woke up, freaking out, I could use that to my reasoning as to why I was in bed with her. Perhaps I could throw in the fact that she was saying Scorpius' name in her sleep. Clever, yeah? At least I had something to use as leverage.
But I did know what I was trying to be to her, what I would always be to her even after the day when she wouldn't trust me anymore. Her protector. I wasn't going to let anything hurt her. So I drifted off in to sleep.
I could think of my excuse later on as to why Scorpius Malfoy was holding her so tightly.
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