Disclaimer: I do not own 39 Clues – and this has spoilers for book seven.

A/N: This is not my usual fandom, so I apologize if I get anything wrong. Hamilton Holt gave Amy a slip of paper in Book 7, and I looked several times and never found a reference to her looking at it. So this is my version of what would have happened. If I missed the actual reference, imagine this is an AU.

Once Amy was sure that Dan had actually fallen asleep, she was finally able to process what she had just learned about her parents.

Madrigals.

Everything she had come to believe over the past few crazy months had just been turned upside down. She had been told that Madrigals were the enemy – the people trying to destroy the Cahills. She had imagined them to be cold-blooded killers, ruthless and brutal. And that certainly didn't fit with her memories of her parents who had been loving and kind. She had tried to hold on to her happy memories of her parents, but if she was honest with herself, those memories were starting to fray around the edges a bit.

The look on Mrs. Thembeka's face when the older woman had seen their father's fake passport photo kept flashing through Amy's mind. How had the librarian described them? Murderers and thieves? People who committed brutal crimes without motives? Exactly what Amy would have expected of Madrigals, but nothing like how she remembered her parents. Was it possible for someone to be a loving, suburban mother or father and a ruthless killer? Once upon a time, she would have said no, but the hunt for clues had changed her perspective on what was possible. Irina could threaten them with her nails of death one day and sacrifice her life to save them the next. Ian could save her from a falling boulder only to leave her trapped in a cave only minutes later. Allistar could play the doting uncle one day and disappear the next. No one was what they seemed to be; even Nellie, who she desperately wanted to believe in, had a mysterious side. The only person she could trust was Dan.

Even as she was thinking that, though, someone else popped into her head – someone she thought that she just might trust. Someone unexpected. Someone she realized had never betrayed her or let her down.

Hamilton Holt.

He had swooped in (literally and figuratively) to save her several times now without asking anything from her. She thought about the last time she had seen him, seconds after she had thought Dan was going to blow them all up. He had helped them escape and handed her something.

And then she froze. The paper.

The last time she had seen him, he had given her a slip of paper, and she had never even looked at it. Her face flushed with shame, and she dug into her pockets hoping it was still there somewhere. She was relieved when she located it. She opened the note and read,

Amy –

Be careful! South Africa is Tomas territory and you don't want to mess with them. I can't always be there to save you.

Hamilton

She was flooded with a sense of gratitude – he had tried to warn her. She read the note a second and third time. Out of all the shocking and bizarre things that had happened to her recently, this new look at Hamilton Holt, protector, might be the strangest.

At first glance, Amy had figured the stocky boy was a brainless bully like the rest of his family, but he kept proving her wrong. He had risked his life and his father's anger on more than one occasion, and he had never asked her for anything. She had learned the hard way that Cahills always had an ulterior motive. They never did anyone a favor without expecting something in return. But even though Hamilton had claimed he would cash in the favor she owed him, he never had. He'd just kept helping her – unasked.

Reaching for her phone, she sent a quick text, hoping he was still using the same number. Her phone buzzed almost immediately.

Herd you crashed the training center. Are you OK? - HH

Her first thought was that the Holts really couldn't spell. And then she registered that his first response had been to ask how she was.

We're okay. You? – AC

She held her breath waiting for his reply. She half expected him to text her back and demand to know about the Tomas clue. The Holt family wasn't known for their intelligence – maybe Hamilton had kept her alive so he could milk her for information he couldn't get any other way. That would make sense.

Were good. Glad your safe. – HH

Amy tried not to wince at his grammar. She bit her lip, trying to decide if she should ask the question plaguing her. She wanted to know why he kept saving her, but instead of asking that, she went for an easier one.

Are you mad at me? - AC

He replied instantly.

Why would I be mad? – HH

She shook her head in disbelief.

We broke into the Tomas stronghold and stole a clue. – AC

Only after she sent it, did it occur to her that if he hadn't been angry before, he might be now that she had pointed out what she and Dan had done.

Nah. Holts running things? Scary! I'll leave that to brainiacs like you. – HH

The message wasn't romantic or anything, but it still made her blush. Before she could compose herself enough to respond, she had another text.

I'm doing my best to keep you safe, but try to be careful. Don't want anything to happen to you. – H

She began to type, "I'll try" and then stopped and frowned. Somehow it didn't seem like enough. Ian had seriously damaged her faith in guys, and her short interaction with Kurt hadn't been enough to fix that. She didn't want to send Hamilton the wrong message, but he definitely deserved more than a simple thank you for everything he'd done for her. She continued typing.

I'll try. Thank you for being my knight in shining armor. – AC

Even though it was pretty cheesy, she thought he would like it. She hit send and waited. For a moment, she thought she'd done something wrong because five minutes passed before her phone beeped again. This time she turned beet red when she read what Hamilton had written.

Any time, beautiful. TTYL. – H

Snapping the phone closed, she collapsed onto the couch with a sigh. People were still trying to kill her. Her parents were probably Madrigals. She had no idea what to do next.

And yet somehow the world didn't seem as desolate as it had only a few minutes before.