A/N: Hope you like it!
Draco tugged his boots on at the front door, quietly aware that Anna had been keeping an eye on him from the moment he had stepped out of the bathroom. By then it was morning. Five o'clock. Although the citywide curfew was still in motion, he and Thomas had made plans to go out on a supply run before sunrise, in the abandoned part of the city.
As it happened, it was easier to sneak past checkpoints in the dark.
"I think you're forgetting something," Anna interjected, nodding to the flask in Draco's pocket.
Tensing as he remembered, Draco swiftly took the flask in his hands. The same flask from which he had been drinking a small sip of anti-magic everyday for the past three months. When Anna had first suggested that he start, not only to conceal his magic but his identity as well, the results had left him writhing in pain. But he had since developed a tolerance for the sensation.
All that mattered to him now was survival.
Without so much as a flinch, he swallowed an entire mouthful, allowing the liquid to swarm his insides and take with it his magic. It wasn't enough to take a different name and to dye his hair a different colour. Not anymore. There were magic detection devices at every turn and in the hands of every Black Coat in the city.
In the world.
"Still taste like shit?" Anna asked, after a beat of silence.
Draco pocketed his flask. "Like a cocktail of shit, bleach and Horklump juice."
Lifting an eyebrow at the last bit, Anna shook her head as if to decide that she wasn't even going to ask what that was. Instead she glanced down, her expression changing a little. "I, uh … I think I'm going to head down to the library today."
"Does Thomas know that?" Draco asked, the smallest twitch of knowingness on his face.
"Does he have to know?"
"He's your boyfriend."
"So, he worries for you, Hayes."
Anna frowned. "I'm more than capable of going out on my own."
"The number of checkpoints have doubled in the last week."
"I know my way around the city," she reminded him. "I grew up here."
"It's not the same city."
"It is if you know where to go and when."
Exhaling deeply, Draco simply looked at her from across the apartment. "Listen, I'm not going to tell you what to do. You're an adult. Just … just be careful out there."
Anna fell silent a moment, the rigidity in her expression fading a little. "Take your own advice."
"I'm always careful."
"Then why do you sit up on the rooftop every night like a complete —"
"You two have got to stop arguing like this every morning," Thomas interjected, stepping out of his and Anna's bedroom in all black, dressed for the day ahead. "We're supposed to be keeping a low profile. That means shutting the fuck up when we know the neighbours are home."
Draco didn't say a word, choosing instead to shift his attention to the far window as a piercingly loud scream came echoing in from the streets below. The scream of a woman. Chest clenching in his coat, he nudged past Thomas and Anna and darted to the window to find exactly what he had feared.
"Again?" Anna asked, hurrying over for a look. "That's the fifth one this week. How the fuck do The Collective keep finding them?"
Ignoring the question, Draco focused on the scene below.
There was an old woman pinned to the ground in just a nightgown, five Black Coats surrounding her as if they had dragged her out of her home in her sleep. She didn't appear to be a magical, but then again none of them did. Unlike the old days, the dangers of being caught were too high. Not only did Muggles know about magic now, the majority of them also believed that magicals were murderers and manipulators and that they deserved to be thrown into those camps for the sake of research.
Any Muggles who felt differently were removed their homes like the woman down below.
Swallowing firmly, Draco hovered by the window long after the woman had been taken away in the back of a vehicle.
"What do you think they're going to do to her?" Thomas asked, after a moment of silence.
Anna gulped. "The same thing they always do."
"Give her a choice," Draco finished, turning away from the window after. "The camps or the Red Steps. I know what I would choose if I were her."
Exchanging a quick look, Thomas and Anna said nothing. At some point in the past three months they had learned to just let Draco speak that way. It was better for him to let it out.
It was better for all of them.
Corvus eyed them from across the campfire, a knowing glimmer in his gaze as he redirected it to the food that was cooking over the flames. In the months since they had left Vancouver, he had somehow returned to the same old duties. Cooking, minding his own business and doing what he was told, because apparently Ron and Psyche knew better.
Pressing his lips into a frown, he continued stirring the soup. It was mostly just water, only a few pieces of meat and potatoes thrown in, but it was better than nothing.
That was what he had told himself everyday since they had arrived in the mountains.
"I'm going to the bathroom," Psyche announced, zipping up as she climbed out of Ron's tent, the same tent where she had presumably spent the night.
Chopping wood as he did every morning, Ron spared no more than a glance as Psyche vanished into the trees. Only then did he notice that Corvus was glaring at him from the campfire. Sighing with annoyance, he had only a few words for the younger wizard. "Something on your mind?"
"You tell me."
"How am I supposed to know what you're thinking?"
"You could read the situation for once," Corvus uttered back, sharply. "That's my sister, idiot."
Ron stopped, his eyebrows flicking up briefly. "So?"
"So, whatever it is you're doing, it's only going to get in the way of the mission."
"I didn't take you for an overprotective brother."
"What makes you think Psyche is the one I'm trying to protect?" Corvus asked, before he could stop himself. "I-I just mean …"
Glancing to him in silence, Ron suddenly understood. "She's still in there," he offered, the usual annoyance in his voice having faded a little. "Somewhere deep down. The sister who found you and raised you and whose only concern was making sure you were safe when she was tied up in that wood shed."
Corvus swallowed the lump of confusion in his throat, looking down now. "She's dangerous."
"She's your family."
"Of course she is," Ron countered, plainly. "You may not have grown up together due to the age gap, but she's still your sister, Corvus."
Tensing at the sound of that, Corvus couldn't help the words that came out next. "Not by blood."
Ron fell silent, his face screwing before Psyche returned to camp, unbeknownst to the discussion that had taken place just moments prior.
"Okay," she interjected, brightly. "Who's ready to hike up these mountains in search of an anti-magic cave that might not even be here?"
Ducking into an abandoned pharmacy as a patrol vehicle came towards him, Draco flattened his body to the floor to keep from being seen through one of the broken windows, shattered glass crunching under his weight. By then the skies had started to brighten, the citywide curfew still in motion for another fifteen minutes. Although they were running out of time, the list of supplies that Anna had given them was fairly short.
Canned food of any kind.
With one look through the nearest window as the patrol vehicle turned onto another street, Draco spotted Thomas across the street, hiding behind one of many abandoned cars. They were usually good about staying together on supply runs, but the patrol vehicle had caught them off guard, and so they had been forced to separate at the last minute.
Waving him over, Draco waited in the dark of the pharmacy as Thomas quietly and quickly made his way across the street. It was still dark enough outside that he couldn't be seen. Not unless he cut his leg open as he jumped through the broken window and shouted in pain, which he did.
"Shit!" Draco blurted under his breath, helping Thomas behind one of the shelves as one of the Black Coats positioned on the rooftops flashed his light in their direction. "What happened to knowing when to shut the fuck up?"
Thomas winced, his leg bleeding out on the floor and through the black of his jeans.
Only then did Draco realize how badly the bouncer was hurt and that a jagged piece of glass was stuck in his leg, just an inch or two above his knee. "That … doesn't look good."
"Oh, do you really th-think so?"
"Magic," he decided. "I have to try and use my magic. It's the only way."
"Y-you can't," Thomas urged. "The detection devices will p-pick up on it."
"Fuck the detection devices. If we don't extract that glass and clean the wound, you're going to bleed out right here and Anna will cut my head off for letting it happen."
"Th-then do it the non-magical way."
"What, you mean … with my hands?"
Thomas glared at him, throat clenching in pain and sweat clinging to his forehead. "I'll walk you through it. J-just don't be a pussy and do exactly as I say."
"No, I'm a man. Are you?"
Narrowing his eyes, Draco set aside the discomfort in his stomach. "Have it your way."
"You mean the only way," Thomas furthered, releasing a short laugh through the pain. "We're in the right place. Grab as much gauze as you can find, a pair of tweezers, gloves, antibiotic cream … and possibly some surgical sutures if you can find it. Water and soap, too."
"I only know half of what any of that means."
"Just go before my leg falls off!"
"Okay, okay!" Draco uttered back, rising to his feet and rushing to find everything he needed.
Anna brushed her fingertips along the spines of what few books remained in the library, slowly but surely making her way up to the rooftop of the old, abandoned building. From there she could see what had become of the city. What had become of the place she had called home from the moment she had been brought into the world. Thoughts of her parents slowly crept up on her. Back when she had been trapped in the warehouse, she had told Yash that she planned on seeing them the moment she was out. At the time she had said that under the impression that she would eventually die there, in those walls.
But she had somehow survived.
With a deep, heavy feeling in her chest, Anna climbed up the steps and onto the rooftop, the few candles and flowers that she had managed to extract in the months since the warehouse, resting in exactly the same place she had left them.
Swallowing the rush of emotion that had suddenly shot the length of her throat, she grabbed the lighter out of her back pocket and lit the candles one after another, the sun slowly starting to rise above the horizon.
"I … I'm sorry I didn't make it down last week," she began, sitting now. "It's getting harder. The guys think I'm crazy for always wanting to sneak up here. I guess I could tell them why it's … so important to me, but … I know what they would say. That there's no point to it and that I should move on. And maybe they're right … I don't know anymore. I just … this is the only thing that's keeping me going right now. And by this, I mean you, Yash. I … I think about you everyday. I … I think about what happened and what you said to me and … it breaks my fucking heart that I'm here and you're not. We were supposed to get out of that place together. Don't you remember?"
With a few quick swipes, she caught her tears on the sleeves of her coat. The memories all came rushing back. Everyday that she had spent with him in the warehouse, locked up and without the slightest idea if they were ever going to make it out of there in one piece. Through all of the pain and torture, he had always managed to stay calm and focused. It was as if he knew even then that he was living his last moments.
The thought of it grappled at her heart so tightly, she could hardly suck in a breath, let alone say another word.
"I-I'll find her. Th-the friend that you told me about," she managed to get out, after a moment of just letting her tears fall. "I'll find her and I-I'll tell her that … there was a guy out there who … who loved her so much that he didn't even fight it when she chose to be with someone else … b-because to him, all that mattered was that she was happy. I-I'll let her know, Yash. F-for you."
Allowing Psyche to lead the way for once, Ron slowed his pace, glancing back at Corvus as the younger wizard came walking past. "Mind telling me what you meant back at camp?"
Corvus ignored him, fixing his eyes on the ground.
"We can do this all day, but I'm going to get an answer out of you," Ron furthered. "You can't just say something like that and expect me not to ask questions."
"Ask as much as you want. I'm not giving you any answers."
"Were you adopted? Is that it?"
"Drop it, Weasley."
"Do you know your real parents? Their names? Anything at all?"
"My real parents are the ones who were killed by Death Eaters."
"You know what I mean."
"No, I don't know what you mean. Because in case it isn't obvious to you, what I said none of your fucking business," Corvus snapped. "You wouldn't know how to process the truth even if I do tell you, which I'm not going to."
Ron lifted an eyebrow in response. "In my line of work —"
"This has nothing to do with your line of work. Believe me when I say that."
"What if I ask nicely?"
"What if you respect my privacy for once?" Corvus countered, earning Psyche's attention now.
Within seconds the two wizards separated, pretending as though no words had been exchanged. But of course, it was too late to pretend. She had already heard raised voices.
"What are you two arguing about back there?" Psyche asked, waiting for them now.
Ron was the first to speak. "Your brother seems to think the cave doesn't exist."
Glancing at the young wizard, Psyche gave him a look as if to say she understood his frustration, but also that they had to keep going. "We'll find it. I know we will. It's got to be around here … somewhere."
"Will the two of you just leave me the fuck alone for once?" Corvus requested, earning surprised looks from them as he nudged. "This shit is tiring enough without being treated like a child."
Without sparing a moment, Psyche snapped a look at Ron. "What exactly did you say to him?"
"I already told you."
"Clearly not. I've never seen my brother like that before."
Ron shrugged. "Well, we have been hiking through these mountains for months. I'm surprised he didn't break sooner."
"How stupid do you think I am?" Psyche asked, folding her arms. "I know my brother. He would never speak like to anyone. Not unless …"
"Not unless what?"
Her eyes widened. "He told you, didn't he?"
"Told me what?" Ron inquired, a beat too fast.
Psyche opened her mouth to explain, hesitating in the seconds after. "You say it first."
"No, you say it first."
"Why don't we say it together?" she suggested. "On the count of three."
"Works for me. One, two, th —"
"You guys!" Corvus interjected, from a distance. "I think I see something! Just up ahead!"
Both Ron and Psyche darted their attention away from each other and over to Corvus, exchanging just one quick look before rushing over to him as if everything depended on it, which in a way, it did.