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Oblivion by Slide
Chapter 35 : We Are Not Angels Here
Rating: MatureChapter Reviews: 6

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We Are Not Angels Here

Investigating a shipwrecked freighter in a frozen land of eternal night was not one of her brightest ideas. But Rose was far beyond believing in coincidence; they’d been in Helluby one night and already a Muggle ship had deviated from its course and crashed into the shore. If it really was all about her and Scorpius, she was far beyond ego, too.

‘Does this happen sometimes?’ she asked the heavyset fisherman who’d set off to investigate at the same time. ‘Muggle ships maybe get confused by the charms protecting the village -’

‘No,’ he said, lips barely moving under his impressive beard. ‘And that ship? Not an icebreaker. Shouldn’t be so far north.’

They stayed silent after that, because he wasn’t talkative and she didn’t want to voice her apprehension. Believing in coincidences was foolish, but the alternative was a little crazy. So they strode across the solid ground, past jutting chunks of shattered metal from the ship’s hull that had broken loose and now tried to stab the ice, until they reached the main body of the freighter. It loomed above them like a colossus, the port side rent open for a gaping hole of twisted steel that led to only darkness.

A flash of colour in nearby debris had Rose hunkering down next to a patch of wreckage. It turned out to be a satchel that had caught her eye, solid leather she recognised as dragonskin. She flipped the flap open and swore.

‘What is it?’ said the fisherman, eyes on the freighter.

‘This definitely wasn’t an accident. The metal’s burnt, not just torn; something blasted the hull. Maybe knocked it off-course, but definitely made sure the hull breached. With magic.’

‘How do you know?’

Rose hefted the satchel and stood. ‘Because this is full of imbued runestones. Just a couple of these could probably blast that hull. This looks like a reserve that didn’t get set off, maybe got blown onto the shore.’ She slipped the satchel into her magically enlarged backpack. That many runestones could blow them both to kingdom come. Even if dragonskin was solid protection, it would take only the wrong magical discharge at the wrong moment and their day would get worse. ‘Someone did this,’ she said, crunching towards the freighter. ‘A wizard, on purpose. But why?’

And then she saw, amid the wreckage, white move against white on the ice and snow.

Three years ago, she would have assumed it was tumbling frost. Three years ago, she would have gone to investigate. Three years ago, she would have ignored the scream in her gut as her every instinct told her to run - told her that she was prey, and a predator was nearby.

She stopped short, which was why the Inferius who lunged from the upper decks of the shattered freighter landed on the fisherman and not her. He screamed, the most noise she’d heard him make in their ten minutes’ acquaintance, a strangled bellow of fear and pain punctuated by a gurgle.

And the white snow was stained with blood.

They were not the only townsfolk to come and investigate. People had come in their ones and twos, and while Rose and the fisherman had been amongst the earliest, others were clambering up to the main deck, peering through gaps in the hull into the darkness beyond. But they all heard the scream, and all saw the movement, and definitely heard when Rose stumbled back, wand flashing out, and bellowed, ‘Run!’

Her scything blast of magic took the Inferius’ head almost clean off, and it collapsed atop the fisherman. He lay flat on his back, clawing at the mass of gore that was his neck and upper body, not yet dead.

Then from the inside of the shattered freighter came the rumbling of thudding footsteps, and the low hiss of frozen breath torn from rasping, dead throats.

Rose stared at the fisherman. If he died, he’d be one of them within a minute. But he wasn’t dead yet.

‘Shit,’ she hissed, and lunged for him. The cold dark air around her was erupting into screams and panic as the twenty or so townsfolk of Helluby began to run or start climbing down from the freighter. Up on the deck, through the gaps in the hull, she could see flashes of bone-white flesh moving.

The fisherman was croaking something in his native tongue, the meaning plain enough even if the words weren’t. But she was unsure if he wanted mercy or salvation, nor if she could give him either.

‘Shit,’ she swore again. A swish of the wand put a simple healing charm to work on his throat; nothing brilliant, but it might stem the bleeding and ease the breathing, and her next swish of the wand was on herself. The world became lighter, easier, and when she hauled the big man over her shoulder, it was like he weighed no more than a feather.

When she straightened, the gloom of the gash in the freighter was no longer quite so dark. It was, instead, peppered with slivers of white, a dozen or more Inferi lurking in the entranceway, coiled and poised for action. Stood amongst them, a tall, imposing epicentre of darkness, wearing one of those masks she now knew to fear and hate, was a human figure in long, black robes.

All the Thornweaver did was lift a hand, no wand in sight.

With a hissing shriek that was like a stab of terror in her gut, the Inferi bounded forward, and by sheer instinct her wand snatched up. Wind billowed past her, freezing and biting and hurling up the ice and snow from her feet and at the oncoming charge. It wouldn’t drop them, but it was enough to make them stumble, which was all she needed to turn and run.

Frozen ground slipped underfoot, frozen air tore at her lungs with every gasp, and the fisherman thudded against her shoulder at every step. All around her now was screaming, panic, as the Inferi burst from the freighter and set about the townsfolk. Some of them had started running even before her, tearing across the ice and snow back towards Helluby.

Some of them had not, and most of the screams behind her were not of fear.

Her strength-enhancing spells were fading from her limbs by the time her feet thudded not on ice and snow, but the gritted paths of Helluby, and Rose staggered as the full weight of a burly, injured man bore down on her. If she cast again, her body would be drained and worn when the spell expired, and if she wasn’t out of danger that meant collapsing in the middle of a crisis. She couldn’t carry him any further, and almost collapsed trying to set him down on the wooden path. He’d passed out in the flight. Levitation, Rose thought. Or I get help

She lifted her head. The Inferi hadn’t reached town yet, but the screams from the freighter had roused Helluby. Every building had a light on. Some of the townsfolk poured into the street, to investigate or to flee. At other doors she could see flashes of magic as they barricaded themselves in.

Lock him in somewhere, she thought, and wrapped her hand around the man’s collar. Pump some healing spells into him, barricade him in, and then find Scorpius. You can’t save everyone. She straightened, looked around for some shack or storage hut, and began to drag the fisherman across the icy path towards the waterfront.

Which was when the Inferius she was dragging sank his teeth into her calf.

She screamed, yanking her leg back and whipping around to face the remains of the man who must have perished as she’d run. Already the transformation was setting in, his skin going paler, eyes going sunken and dark. But still there was flesh on his face, more than most of Lethe’s Inferi, and this allowed the monstrosity - for he was no man, not any more - to snarl and glower.

Rose rammed her wand under his chin and let loose the most powerful blasting curse her pain could summon. Any blood on the snow that had been hers was immediately drowned, but her leg throbbed, wobbled under her. A quick healing charm staunched the bleeding, dulled the edge of the pain, but she didn’t have time for more. It wouldn’t bleed out. She wouldn’t pass out. Anything else was a distraction.

And when she looked up to see the wave of Inferi loping across the ice and snow to bear down on Helluby, she knew she had no time for distractions. Or, most likely, saving anyone else.

Scorpius. I have to find Scorpius. He’d gone for Jorgen’s shop, and the quickest way there was along the water-front. Hobbling, she rushed as best she could down the gritted path towards the pier, towards the wooden walkway that ran along abandoned fishing boats, barricaded or emptied shop fronts, nets of fish or barrels of chum that had been knocked over in the panicked flight of the townsfolk.

The screams of Helluby hit a whole new pitch behind her as the Inferi reached the settlement, but she didn’t stop. Running too fast meant risking falling, her leg throbbed enough to make her head spin, and in the darkness and confusion it was hard to be sure she was going the right way.

But she was going away from the Inferi, so that would do.

The wooden pier shook underfoot, and Rose stumbled as she looked over her shoulder. Half a dozen Inferi, loping along the waterfront in hot pursuit - and they didn’t struggle on the slippery ground like she did. They wouldn’t die if they fell.

And they were faster than her.

Rose let herself collapse against a fence, breath burning frost in her lungs, and shook her head to clear it. You don’t get to die here, Weasley. If you die, who saves him?

Her wand shot out towards the Inferi. ‘Aguamenti!’

It didn’t reach them, of course, because the spell summoned a jet of water and not a fire-hose. But it was enough to coat the walkway for a good ten metres, which would do if only she could concentrate -

But when she waved her wand at the sodden walkway, nothing came but sparks. Her head spun, her leg burned, and all she’d done was stop to dampen a path and let the Inferi gain precious yards on her.

Run. You can’t do it. Run.


A bout of cold air burst past her, enough to chill her to the bone - and enough to freeze the damp walkway. The Inferi hissed as they slipped on the ice, stumbling and falling or at least slowing, and the sight of the loping monstrosities suddenly turned so ungainly would have been hilarious had she been capable of laughing.

Then Scorpius’ hand was at her shoulder, dragging her in his wake. ‘Come on!’

‘Scorp, you -’ She gritted her teeth and forced her injured and exhausted legs to run, forced her pain-addled mind to focus. ‘Where the hell are we even going?’

He’s still sorted our sleigh.’ Dimly she realised Scorpius wasn’t alone, that the bloodied and wandless form of Jorgen was running beside them. The disgust in Scorpius’ voice was almost palpable, but she couldn’t think about that just yet.

She didn’t look back as they ran. ‘The town -’

‘There’s nothing we can do, Rose, we can’t turn back a tide of them.’

‘I know, but they’re going to -’

‘We have to go, Rose!’

It wasn’t that she had a better idea. But as they broke through the narrow streets of Helluby, out onto the open southern stretch towards Jorgen’s shop, she knew they were leaving a lot of people to die.

And then a cluster of Inferi, mouths and claws bloodied by the hunt, burst out from a street several houses down and broke into loping pursuit.

Go!’ Scorpius urged, pushing her onward. He flashed his wand back to send another burst of frozen air at the Inferi, the same trick she’d used at the freighter, Methuselah’s trick. This didn’t slow them down much. ‘The sleigh’s ready, the elks are harnessed, just jump on board and go…’

There was a note to his voice she didn’t trust, but Rose was in no state to argue, in no state to do anything but put her head down and run. Her blood hammered in her ears with every step, every crunch of her boots on snow, her breath rasping through her throat. Jorgen seemed just as pained and panicked, speaking in a babble to Scorpius she couldn’t quite catch, but his desperation was clear.

The sleigh loomed ahead, more like a hut on rails. The quartet of Ice Elks - huge, hulking creatures of frosty blue coats and antlers that shone as if made of ice - hoofed the ground, looking like they’d bolt the moment they got the chance, even magical creatures like them knowing to fear the stench of blood and death in the air. But it was far away - too far away - and the Inferi were too hot on their heels.

Scorpius’ hand was at her back again. ‘Go, go,’ he urged. ‘I’m right behind you, I’ll -’

‘If you say it, I will kill you, Malfoy,’ she swore, and for a heartbeat she almost meant it. But she didn’t argue, limping onwards, not daring to look back.

‘I wasn’t going to,’ came Scorpius’ answer from over her shoulder, a little more distant. And then she heard the flash of magic, heard Jorgen’s scream. She didn’t look back until Scorpius was at her side again, hauling her across the icy stretch towards the sleigh. She didn’t want to slip, but more importantly she didn’t want to see what she knew she was behind her.

Jorgen lay on his back in the snow, clutching his leg, trying to staunch the blood pouring from a vicious gash at his thigh. But his screaming didn’t last very long, because then the Inferi were upon him, and if they could not be stopped by ice, they could be stopped by blood, and by prey vulnerable and defenceless before them.

They didn’t take long lunging on his corpse, biting and clawing and raking as their instincts demanded. But they took long enough for Scorpius and Rose to make it to the sleigh. He shoved her onto the driver’s bench before hauling himself up after her, and then there was a whip of the reins, snorts from the Ice Elks, and they were moving.

Rose clutched her seat as she looked back. Their Inferi had given up as the sleigh drew away, loped back towards the town. Someone had done what someone always did when the Inferi attacked, which was start a fire. The Inferi did what they always did in the face of fire, which was try to kill the source, which meant that fire had spread. Screams filled the air, smoke filled the air, and in the land of eternal night, the only light came from the blazing, burning houses.

The flames played across the ice like rippling gold, shimmering on the snow, and shimmering on the bloodied mass that was the remains of Jorgen.

Leg throbbing, head spinning, Rose turned to Scorpius, who was urging the sleigh and the elks out into the open, wide, frozen expanse inland. ‘What did you do.’

He didn’t look at her, cold eyes on the horizon. ‘They were going to catch us -’

Despite herself, her grip on her wand tightened. ‘Jorgen - what did you do, Scorpius -’

‘He was working for the Council!’ Scorpius spat at last. Frozen winds howled across their faces as they surged into the darkness, but she could barely feel it through the pain and disbelief. ‘He was paid, paid days ago to send a Floo to them if anyone from outside came to town and wanted to travel inland. And he did! Last night, after we gave our names and checked in!’

Rose sank back on the bench, shoulders hunching in. ‘There was a Thornweaver on board that ship. They filled it with Inferi and crashed it into the shore - they set them on a whole town of people - just to kill us.’

He betrayed his own people to the Council. He sold us out. He had to know they weren’t just going to send a gift basket!’

‘They knew we were coming.’

‘I don’t think so,’ said Scorpius. ‘He was paid off before we even knew about Baffin Island. I think Raskoph knew we were chasing down Cassian’s path and made preparations. So that’s one good thing.’

What’s one good thing?’

He looked at her only out of the corner of his eye. ‘It means we’re on the right path.’

The pain in her leg had her silent for long heartbeats after that, the only sound the whistling wind as they rattled across the icy plains beyond Helluby. But it didn’t last. ‘You knocked him down.’

Scorpius’ shoulders hunched in. ‘Yes.’

‘You left him to die.’

‘To slow the Inferi. So we could get away. Yes.’

She looked down at her leg. Blood had soaked the entire lower trouser leg by now, the work her brief healing charms had done already worn out. Carefully, weight on her good leg, she got to her feet. ‘I’m going inside,’ Rose said, light-headed by pain, blood loss, and horror. ‘I need to patch myself up and rest.’

Scorpius didn’t look at her, gaze still on the path. ‘You should,’ he said. ‘I’ve got Cassian’s map. I can set us on the right route.’

Ice Elks, Rose knew, were smart. Once they’d been set a direction, they would keep heading that way of their own accord. They didn’t need monitoring. But she didn’t discourage him from staying up there, in the ice and cold, while she clambered onto the roof of the sleigh and let herself into the cosy, comfortable interior.

She needed to rest, she needed to mend her leg, but above all, with the screams of dying Helluby and dying Jorgen still echoing in her ears, she needed to think.

* *

‘I’m fine,’ Matt said for the umpteenth time, massaging his stumpy right arm. ‘We’re both fine. Thanks to Selena.’

‘You’re lucky, is what you are,’ said Auror Savage, perched on his desk in the Auror Office. ‘A Thornweaver agent attacks you in the middle of Britain -’

‘It’s not my first fight with a Thornweaver.’

Savage looked at where his right arm ended, less discreet in his gawping than most. Matt didn’t know if he should feel annoyed by the staring or relieved that Savage wasn’t trying to pretend. ‘Could have been your last,’ the Auror then said, and Matt decided he was too frustrated to care.

‘But we’ve told you everything,’ said Selena, getting to her feet. ‘And the stringiest little Thornweaver is in a cell, and I’m sure he’s got lots to tell you about Thornweavers in Britain, so can we go?’

Savage looked between them. ‘You’ve got no idea how he knew you’d be there?’

‘You know, the first five times you asked that, I wasn’t sure.’ Selena’s voice was a drawl, but he could see her eyes flash. ‘But now you mention it yet again…’


‘No!’ Selena went to Matt’s side. ‘We’re going to go.’

‘I’m posting you a specific security detail,’ said Savage. ‘Young Jennings can watch you.’

‘I assume,’ Matt said quietly, ‘you mean watch her, not me.’

Selena’s eyes narrowed. ‘Matthias Doyle is handling the research of the Chalice of Emrys. He’s far more important to keep in one piece than me.’ He tried not to wince as she said, ‘one piece,’ but neither were looking at him anyway.

‘And you’re the daughter of the leader of the wizarding world. So, I know who pays me,’ Savage pointed out. While he was sardonic, like he knew the realities in play more than he pretended, it was enough to make Selena roll her eyes.

Fine. Then I suppose he and I will have to stick together so your people protect us both.’

Savage shrugged, but he didn’t stop them from leaving. Selena kept her hand on Matt’s arm, and he had no choice but to let her guide him down the line of desks of the bullpen, towards the corridor lined with office doors that would eventually lead to the transport chambers.

Then they rounded a corner and walked flat into Hermione Granger. Matt’s cringe was more by instinct, because it was one thing to run into his ex-girlfriend’s mother, and another thing entirely to run into his ex-girlfriend’s mother with his new girlfriend. ‘Ms Granger -’

‘What’s wrong?’ That was Selena, taking one look at Hermione and blurting this out, and Matt remembered she had far more experience of receiving grim news from that face. Even if it had looked like an otter a lot of the time.

‘I heard what happened,’ Hermione said instead, voice tight as she looked between them. ‘You’re unharmed?’

‘We’re fine, what’s going on?’ Selena’s grip on Matt’s arm tightened almost enough to hurt.

‘I was looking for you. There’s news.’

‘From South Africa?’

Hermione grimaced. ‘The situation continues there. Durban’s overrun and so is the Department Headquarters. We’ve heard nothing about Albus or Saida.’

‘They’re resourceful, they’ll be fine,’ said Selena, a little like she was trying to convince herself.

‘What’s the news?’ Matt pressed, because this was nothing new and would not be the root of tension, now so taut in the air he could almost taste it.

Hermione looked away for a moment, then back. ‘Helluby - the magical fishing village Rose and Scorpius Portkeyed to - has been attacked by Inferi. A full-on wave as bad as Hogsmeade. The IMC is scrambling support units, but there’s not yet any word of survivors.’

Matt swallowed on a rising knot in his throat. ‘But it’s too early to tell, right?’

Hermione’s lips thinned. ‘Quite.’ She drew a deep breath. ‘I’d heard of the attack and thought I should check up on you - and inform you. At the least, Selena, your mother will want to hear more directly that you’re well.’

‘I’m alive, it’ll do,’ Selena drawled, but not with much conviction to her wryness.

‘We should - we’ve got work to do,’ Matt blurted.

Hermione nodded, still with that tight, controlled expression he realised he didn’t want to look at any more. ‘Then I shall let you be about it,’ she said, and left promptly.

Selena looked at him. ‘You’ve got actual Welsh experts going over the Black Book. There’s literally nothing to do in the meantime.’

‘Then we should rest,’ said Matt, pulling his arm away. ‘It’s been a long day.’ By which he meant, he was utterly exhausted after taking a Stun to the back. Far more than he’d ever been, hours later, and it ached even more to be reminded of how his body was weaker, more prone to failing him.

He saw her expression flicker, and he knew they were due a conversation. Knew he was due questions and she was due answers, but with Hermione’s news about their friends it was just one more vulnerability, one more weakness. And right then, he felt like lingering would bring all of his defences, all of his supports, crashing and crumbling apart and sink him into the abyss.

Once, he’d not feared the abyss with her, because she’d been down there too. But that was a long time ago.

‘I’ll see you at the office tomorrow?’ Selena managed, voice rather small.

‘Yeah,’ Matt croaked, trying to not sound as drained and guilty as he felt. ‘Yeah. Tomorrow.’ And without another word he turned for the exit, because he needed to drag his broken and weakened body away from her before it failed them both completely.

* *

‘We’ve only got ten minutes,’ said Pretorius in a low voice, just as the voice of Erik Geiger wafted through the communication crystal.

Saida, you better pick up.

There was a note in his voice, some fresh tension that made her insides seize up as she reached for the crystal and saw it light up at her touch. ‘This is Saida. We’ve still got ten minutes -’

‘Correction. You had ten minutes. Now you have no time and I have Albus Potter.’

Something warm and hopeful went away inside, and the cold certainty that slithered into its place was as familiar as it was unwelcome. It did, however, make sure her voice was calm and controlled when she answered. ‘I don’t know what you’re talking about.’

It wasn’t that she thought he was bluffing, not really. Her bones knew he wasn’t, and this went beyond combat instincts, even beyond a pessimist’s caution. This was cold fact and hard truths. He’s got him.

I’ll spare us both the posturing,’ said Geiger, and there was the sound of mumbling and footsteps. ‘Say hello, Potter.

There was no doubt the next voice was Albus’. ‘I’m in the main lobby, there are -

A thud, a shout of pain, and the cold crawled up to Eva’s heart. ‘Enough,’ she said despite herself. ‘I believe you.’

Not only do you believe me,’ said Geiger, ‘but you lied to me before, so we’re not friends any more, Saida. You had ten minutes. That was before you tried to backstab me. So now you have no time and a simple, one-time offer. I suggest you take it.

Pretorius’ shoulders hunched up. ‘There is no way this ends well,’ she muttered.

‘No shit,’ Eva growled, before lifting the crystal again. ‘I’m listening.’ It wasn’t as if she had a choice.

You surrender. All of you. You disarm yourselves and march on up to the third floor lobby, and we will choose who gets to live and who gets to die, and in return, the people who live will include Albus Potter. Or you refuse, and everyone - everyone - will die. Starting with Albus Potter, right here, right now.

‘He is going,’ hissed Pretorius, ‘to kill a lot of innocent people if we surrender.’

And if we don’t surrender, thudded Eva’s bones, Al dies. His life, for all of their lives. The icy thorns tightened around her heart. That’s a deal I’d take.

He wouldn’t.

‘You know I can’t make that call right here and now,’ she said instead. ‘I’ve got bureaucrats down here, people who think they’re still in charge who care more about their own hides than one hostage - give me a chance to talk to them -’

Talk?’ Disdain rolled off Geiger’s voice. ‘If you want something to happen, Saida, you know you can make it happen. This is the offer. Take it or leave it.’

‘I want to take it,’ said Eva. She felt Pretorius’ eyes on her, could feel the other woman’s disbelief, and knew her allegiance was being doubted because even she didn’t know if she was lying. ‘I just need time -’

I gave you time. No more time.’ A burst of magical energy, a crack, and now a scream she knew, knew was Albus. ‘How clear do I have to be, Saida?’

And the cold inside her coiled like barbed wire. ‘You’re perfectly clear,’ she said, frustration flushed from her voice, icy control in its place. ‘So let me be clear. If you do anything to him, I am going to march through all your Inferi, all your Thornweavers, all your fury and might and I will keep coming. And by the time I’m done with you, you will beg for me to kill you.’

Big words from someone under siege. I’m not quaking, Saida. This is your last chance. Walk everyone up here now, or I’m throwing everything I’ve got at you.

She could feel Pretorius’ eyes on her, feel the blood in her veins turn to ice, feel what remained of her heart pumping into her with every beat, Do it, do it, do it. It came from deep inside, that instinct which had guided her every step for years, for her whole life, and never, ever steered her wrong because it kept her alive, whatever the cost.

He wouldn’t. He wouldn’t.

Eva lifted a hand to Pretorious, urgency in her eyes as she spoke again into the crystal. ‘Alright, Geiger. Alright.’ It wasn’t difficult sound exhausted, defeated. ‘I’ll make it happen -’

Like hell. You’re just saying whatever you think gives you time. This only ends one way, Saida, and surrender is the best option, but just so there’s no doubt that I’m serious -’

Frozen fingers wrapped around her throat. ‘Geiger, don’t you dare, don’t you dare -’

Avada Kedavra!’

The flash of energy. The thump. And silence. Pretorius had rocked back at the words, but Eva stood there, gaze fixed on nothing, motionless. When she did react, her voice came from a long way away, flat and impassive as she talked into the crystal. ‘I’ll be seeing you soon, Geiger.’

Then she put down the crystal, and didn’t even take a beat before she looked up at Pretorius. ‘We need to move. We need everyone to move.’

Pretorius stared at her like she was a bomb that might go off, which a tiny part of Eva almost found laughable. An explosion required fire. She had nothing. ‘What did you have in mind?’

‘We need to get everyone up to International Transportation.’

‘That takes escorting a lot of civilians -’

‘That’s your job.’ Eva’s wand slid into her hand. She’d never had her own wand, one bought to match her and her temperament, but she’d always more than made do because she’d had to. For the first time, the wand in her hand felt like it belonged, properly belonged, was an extension of her being and of her will, because she didn’t need a connection.

She needed the void.

‘What,’ said Pretorius as Eva turned around and started for the exit, the way Albus had gone, the last place she’d seen him alive, spoken to him, ‘is your job in all of this?’

Eva didn’t look back as she left. ‘I’m going to clear the way.’

* *

The Thornweaver who’d brought Albus in was glaring daggers at Geiger. ‘There is no way they’re going to take you seriously if they realise -’

‘They’re not going to find out. But this rattles them, and a rattled enemy is an enemy that makes mistakes. Go get the Inferi and the others and get ready to storm the building, level by level. They’ll be planning something.’ Geiger looked down at the sprawled form of Albus Potter, flat on the lobby floor. ‘But they are not worth throwing away the son of Harry Potter as a prisoner.’

And with the blackened singe-marks of where the Killing Curse had impacted just inches away from his head, air burning in his lungs as he drew every agonised breath, Albus wasn’t about to say or do anything that might make his mixed luck turn even more sour.

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