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Beyond the Wall by _DearMyLove_

Format: Novella
Chapters: 13
Word Count: 25,274
Status: WIP

Rating: Mature
Warnings: Strong Language, Strong Violence, Scenes of a Sexual Nature, Substance Use or Abuse, Sensitive Topic/Issue/Theme

Genres: Drama, Romance, Action/Adventure
Characters: Grindelwald , OC
Pairings: OC/OC

First Published: 04/21/2009
Last Chapter: 06/04/2010
Last Updated: 06/04/2010

Summary:
Lovely lovely lovely banner by Bedazzled @ TDA | Lyrics in summary from 'Good Enough' by Evanescence



Shouldn't let you conquer me completely, now I can't let go...I've completely lost myself, and I don't mind. I can't say no to you.


Chapter 1: Chapter One
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Chapter One



London, 1919

The ball was the epitome of elite decadence. Everything was done to excess; wine poured in fountains from solid gold cherubs, masked fools danced crazily, winding through the crowds, and everything was lit with the soft glow of a thousand candles suspended in crystal chandeliers.

The theme was masquerade, and it had been seized upon with enthusiasm. Everywhere you looked, distorted and grotesque faces stared back. Bright eyes glowed through mask slits, laughter screamed through the wide hall and everyone seized the chance to play up the dark sides of their character. The dim corridors surrounding the main hall were filled with every sordid action, every secret fantasy shared by the corrupted and obscenely rich. Clothes lay forgotten on the carpeted floors as people gave into the pleasure that was afforded to them.

About two hours into the ball, the guests were still arriving, packing themselves in as tightly as they could in order to take a slice of enjoyment. One of the late arrivals looked on all accounts to be another wealthy individual, the red cloth of her gown seemingly genuine silk, and her matching red mask suitably adorned with jewels. She waded through the ballroom as though she was the host, and at one time or another every other person allowed themselves a snide glance in her direction. The men watched with interest, and the women with envy.

But Greta Maur had no intention of returning any of the attentions afforded to her. She took her station at the side of the room, returning any drink sent in her direction and politely turning her head away when any conversation grew too flirtatious. And all the time, her eyes were trained on the main entrance, the wide doors which kept swinging backwards and forwards with every new arrival.

She twisted her hands, fingers entwining tightly then loosening, as she waited. Months of planning had gone into this, months and months. And she refused to fail. Excitement caught in her breath and she held it there, delighting in the tingles that went up and down her spine. Tonight, she was finally going to succeed.

The doors swung forward again, and Greta felt a jolt run through her body. Finally, he had arrived. He was instantly recognisable, even through the elaborate black mask he was wearing.

Henry Lowe, Minister for Magic.

Greta quickly moved through the crowds, knowing that she did not have much time. Lowe was notorious for picking up the first woman who threw herself at him, and disappearing almost as soon as he had arrived at a social occasion. Already, she could see his beady eyes darting around to search out possibilities. She was determined to reach him before he was distracted. It was time to put into practise everything she had been preparing for.

As she approached him she did not notice a black mask pointing in her direction, moving through the crowds at a parallel to herself. She was only interested in getting to the Minister.

She reached the cluster of people surrounding him and heard his voice rising above them all.

“I am, of course, terribly sorry to be arriving so late. But God knows I would never miss a ball thrown by one as beautiful as Miss Bulstrode.”

The hostess, Violetta Bulstrode, smiled appreciatively, but the compliment did not worry Greta. Lowe may have been a womanizer, but he knew well to stay away from the future wives of wealthy and influential pure bloods.

She pushed herself forward, until she was directly in front of him and gave a winning smile, curtseying pleasantly. “Minister.”

Lowe blinked obviously, over playing his surprise and pleasure for the amusement of the surrounding guests. He bowed, capturing Greta’s hand and bringing it up to his lips. “My dear, enchanted to meet you. Please, tell me your name. I am sure you know mine.”

Greta laughed at the mild joke along with the rest of his followers, forcing down the urge to snatch her hand back. She allowed him to guide her hand to his elbow and replied, “My name is Greta, sir, Greta Maur.”

“Maur?” The Minister replied, a slight frown caressing his forehead, as Greta had expected. “You wouldn’t be a relation of Theodore Maur, by any chance?”

“Oh no sir!” She exclaimed, pressing her body against his to show her earnestness. “And glad of it, too. I would not wish to be associated with that criminal.”

“Good, good,” he mumbled, staring down at her wide eyed expression. His eyes were alight with desire; no doubt he enjoyed feeling her body so close to his. Greta let him hold her in his gaze for a moment longer, before breaking it and stepping away from him, a blush rising on her cheeks.

“I am so sorry, sir, I’m being too forward. It’s just,” she allowed her eyes to flick back up to his face, briefly; “I have always wanted to meet you. I think you are the best Minister for Magic we have ever had, and…and I have always wanted to…thank you…for the hard work you have put in.” She turned away. “But I must leave you to your friends, now. I am sorry to have bothered you.”

“No!” He exclaimed. Greta smiled to herself, then arranged her face into confusion and turned back.

“Sir?”

Music began floating down from the string quartet stationed on a balcony at one side of the room. Lowe took Greta’s hand back, and put his other hand on her waist, fingers splayed on her back.

“You must give me a dance before you disappear, Greta Maur.”

Greta fixed him with a dark gaze, feeling the tingling of anticipation throbbing through her. She nodded, and let herself be taken by the music.

All eyes watched her, the mysterious woman who had captured the Minister’s attentions with such ease. Aging mothers chastised their own daughters for not being quick enough, and the Minister’s previous conquests watched with a mixture of envy and pity. All wondered whether she knew what she had gotten herself in for.

Only one pair of eyes watched blankly. The man who had observed as Greta introduced herself to the Minister now positioned himself where Greta had been standing. With everyone following the dance between the Minister and his new interest, the man made his way along the outside of the ballroom and out through a secluded door.

The music came to an end and everyone turned to applaud the quartet. Lowe inclined his head to the musicians, his hand still firmly on Greta’s back. Whilst everyone else was clapping, it moved further down, fingers splaying to caress the small of her back.

Greta jumped at the sensation, and although she remained clapping, she parted her lips and let out a little sigh that only the Minister could hear. He was no longer keeping up the pretence of thanking the musicians; his face was turned towards hers. Greta looked up at him and saw him give a slight nod in the direction of a door.

As another tune started, Greta found herself being led swiftly across the ballroom and then out into a corridor. The door snapped shut behind them, cutting out most of the light. The minister was now only a dark shadow, an outline in the gloom.

Taking her hand, Lowe let Greta along the corridor. He obviously knew the layout of the building well and walked with confidence. At a seemingly arbitrary point, he opened a door and the two of them slipped in.

They were in a library, as Greta immediately realised from the shelves and shelves of leather bound books stretching from floor to ceiling. Lowe did not stop to admire the décor. Pulling out his wand, he lit a couple of lamps, bathing the room in a soft glow that still cast shadows across his face. Greta suddenly felt very vulnerable, but forced down any feelings of uncertainty. She did not want to fail; not now she had come so far. She lowered her eyes and twisted her hands behind her back, undoing her mask.

“No, leave it,” Lowe said. It was an instruction, an order, but still spoken with such softness. Greta complied immediately, letting her hands drop back down. A couple of strands of hair fell to rest lightly on her cheekbone.

Lowe sighed. Taking a step towards her, he gently brushed the strand away from her face and cupped her cheek. “You are beautiful.” He leant in, his breath playing on her lips…

Greta stiffened, stumbling backwards. Immediately she regretted her actions. Lowe frowned, hand dropping to his side, his voice hard.

“What is it?”

Thinking fast, Greta mumbled, “I…I feel faint. I’m so sorry, but could I have some water?” It was a poor excuse, but amazingly he bought it.

“Stay right there.” He darted out of the door, leaving her on her own.

Greta stayed perfectly still for a count of five, and then let out a frustrated cry, hands hitting her head as she hissed, “Stupid, stupid, stupid!”

She had been so close! She had almost succeeded, and then her damned conscience had to get in the way. It was laughable, considering it was Lowe who had sparked the doubt within her, had made her think twice about her plan. The man barely had a conscience; if it did exist, it was very well hidden.

Her hands trickled down from her head, fingers caressing her neck and reaching further down, until they alighted on a silver locket dangling just underneath the neckline of her dress. Pulling it up, she undid the clasp with shaking hands and stared at the picture contained within. A tear fell from her eye, splashing on the image of a young man. Then she closed the locket with a snap, all traces of emotion instantly erased and resolve now firmly intact.

The door reopened, and Greta turned to face the Minister, once more with a smile.

“Feeling better?” He asked, handing her a goblet of water. Greta took a sip, nodding. He smirked. “Good, now where were we?”

“I think,” Greta replied, stepping forward so her body pressed fully against his, “Just here.”

She kissed him, wrapping her arms around his neck. His hands went up to her hair and he pulled out the clasp holding it up, letting her hair fall around her shoulders. Greta shook her head slightly, sighing into the kiss as she felt his hands caressing down her back to reach the clasps of her gown.

Slipping one of her hands down as well, Greta gently pulled the hair on the back of Lowe’s head, making him moan softly. He had undone the first clasp. Her hand reached between the folds of her gown, searching. The second clasp sprung free. Greta opened her eyes, grateful that his were still closed, and glanced down as her fingers still searched through the folds of her dress. Just as the third clasp came undone, she found what she had been searching for.

Her wand.

Gripping it tightly, she bit his lip hard and shoved the wand into his side. Or rather, she would have done, if he had not grabbed her arm.

Greta cried out in pain as Lowe twisted her arm around, forcing her to fall awkwardly to the side. She felt the chill of real fear twist through her as her mind caught up with what was happening. She had failed, and what is more, she had allowed him to catch her in the act.

“What is this?” He said evenly, wiping the back of his hand along his bottom lip, which was bleeding. Not waiting for a reply, he grabbed her hand and pushed it forwards at the wrist until the joint cracked. Greta bit her tongue to hide the pain, her fingers loosening and wand clattering to the floor.

“Let go of me, you bastard!” She spat through clenched teeth.

The Minister laughed. “Not so friendly now, are we?” He pushed harder on her hand, and Greta felt tears leak out of her eyes. Lowe’s eyes glinted cruelly through his mask. “So tell, me Greta Maur, you’re name isn’t so much of a coincidence is it?”

Greta could hardly see through the pain, and each word Lowe spoke sent further spikes of pain and anger through her. She shook her head, crying out as the pressure on her hand increased again. As the bone threatened to snap, she felt the horror of what he was doing jolt through her. And still he pressed down, unrelenting.

“Tell me, Maur, what are you doing here? Are you looking for revenge?” He leant forward, shoving his face in hers, and added in a low tone. “He cried, did you know that? He blubbered like a baby.”

“Shut up!” Greta shouted, lunging at him with little success. He smiled at her reaction, which only served to anger her more. “He was innocent!”

“Innocent or guilty makes no difference to me,” Lowe said in an offhand way. Then he reached into his robes and pulled out his own wand, pushing it into her cheek. “You, on the other hand, are quite definitely guilty. I don’t think anyone will care about the death of another Maur, not now.”

He raised the wand. Greta kept her eyes open, looking directly at him. All hope may be lost, but she was not going to give him the satisfaction of seeing her cower as he dealt the final blow.

Stupefy!

There was a flash of red light. Henry Lowe flew backwards, wand clattering uselessly on the floor. Greta fell back with the force of the spell, relief and confusion mixing inside her. She turned her head to the door.

It was a man, whose identity she did not know. He saw her looking at him and smiled in an arrogant way, twirling the wand through his long fingers. The pain in her wrist temporarily forgotten, Greta got shakily to her feet.

“Who are you?”

“It doesn’t matter at the moment,” the man said, “We’ve got to get out of here. Now.”

Chapter 2: Chapter Two
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Chapter Two



Greta stumbled forward a few steps, her head pounding. Automatically, she bent down and picked up her wand. The man was beckoning her to follow him, but she did not move instantly. Turning, she looked at the unconscious body of the Minister for Magic. Her fingers twitched around her wand.

“There’s no time.”

“But…” Greta started towards the body, the locket around her neck throbbing against her skin. A hand rested on her shoulder, attempting to pull her backwards. She resisted, but her wrist began to spasm with pain and she eventually relented, tears stinging her eyes. She turned and followed the man out of the library.

There would be another chance, she told herself firmly, and it would all go to plan then. She was not going to let him slip away peacefully in his sleep. She needed him to be awake, wide eyed and fearful.

Once they were in the corridor again, Greta silently healed her wrist, the warm glow emitting from her wand briefly lighting the man’s face. Before taking another step, she asked plainly, “Who are you?”

But the man only smiled, grabbing her by the wrist and dragging her through the corridor, back in the direction of the ball.

Greta struggled. “I’m not going back in there.”

“You have no choice.”

“I do!” Greta pulled away from him savagely, but he merely laughed.

“The only way out is through the ballroom. So you will go back there, if you want to get away before he wakes and comes looking for you.”

“Let him,” Greta replied sweetly. She tapped her wand against her chin. “I think I could take him.”

“You don’t know what you’re talking about,” the man retorted, making to grab her arm again. Greta pulled away.

“Enlighten me.”

The man snorted. “Oh don’t worry, I will. Just not here. Now come on.”

As much as she disliked being ordered about, Greta was intrigued. Narrowing her eyes, she nodded once. Holding her hands up out of his reach, she let him walk in front of her down corridor. As they approached the door back into the ballroom, the noise of music and laughter got louder and louder. Greta chanced a single look behind her before slipping back through the door and into the throng. She could still see the lamplight leaking out under the door to the library, and she silently promised that she would finish what she had started, as soon as she could.

She felt the man’s hand in hers again, and made to pull away. But the grip was different this time; it was softer, gentler. She looked into his masked eyes quizzically, trying to understand what he was doing. Then she felt his other hand on her waist, and knew what was happening. He was dancing with her.

“Is this entirely necessary?” She muttered as they whirled around, in and out of the other couples. She could feel hundreds of eyes on her; obviously people were wondering why she had exited with the Minister for Magic and re-entered with an entirely different gentleman.

“You danced with Mr Lowe.” The reply was not entirely unexpected, but the light, conversational delivery angered her.

“I had to do that.”

“No, you didn’t,” he replied snappily, a smug smile appearing on his face. “There are many ways to kill a man without getting so…personal.”

Greta shuddered inwardly, but plastered a smirk on her face. Leaning close to him, she said quietly, “But that’s how I wanted to do it. I wanted to see the look on his face when I killed him, up close.” Her smile widened as she saw his jaw tense; he was uncomfortable now. Leaning back again, she continued, “Anyway, I thought we were supposed to be making a quick exit.”

“All in good time,” he said, eyes darting around the room. Greta felt the hand on her waist tighten, fingers clamping down on her flesh. She winced slightly, turning her head so he did not see her discomfort. And then, before she knew what was happening he dipped her down, her muscles tensing as she fell backwards, her descend completely controlled by him.

Shocked, she gasped for air, spluttering, “Let go of me! Now!” But he ignored her. The final notes of the music shuddered to a halt a few seconds later, and only then was Greta pulled back up. She staggered, blood rushing to her head and making her dizzy. But before she could correct herself, the hand still clutching her waist manoeuvred her to the edge of the room. Whilst everyone else was concentrated on applauding the musicians, Greta was led around the side of the ballroom and out through the grand doors.

“A little unorthodox,” Greta commented as she stumbled down the steps of the townhouse, “But it was effective. Thank you.”

The man did not smile at the compliment, or acknowledge it in any way. Unsure how to respond to an abject lack of response, Greta lapsed into silence.

The two of them walked down the London street without a word passing between them. Greta took to staring up at each of the houses they passed, amazed by their bright white exteriors, complete with faux columns and other neo-Classical adornments. The street was deserted save for the two of them, and only the occasional motor car trundled past. Greta found herself wondering how long she had spent at the ball. It all felt as though it had gone very quickly, but she must have been in there more than two hours, at least.

“Two and a half, actually.”

Greta jumped as her partner’s voice cut through the crisp night air. She pursed her lips. “I don’t appreciate people creeping into my head. Especially someone whose name I don’t even know.”

“Tristan Gaillard,” the man said almost instantly. He was looking down at Greta with a strange expression on his face. It took her a few moments to realise they had stopped walking. To their left was a large oak tree, bare branches waving softly in the breeze. As she looked at it, she saw a blackbird land on one of the lower boughs. It stared right at her, clacking its beak.

She felt a hand on hers; a cold hand. Turning back to face Tristan, she frowned slightly, and made to pull her arm away. But then his grip tightened, and she gasped in pain.

But there was no air. She could feel Tristan’s presence, but everything was black. It felt as though she was been squeezed out of her body. She cried out in fear, trying to pull away from him, but she couldn’t. Spots darted in front of her eyes as her lungs screamed for air and she felt herself falling through endless black…

Air flooded back through her, and she fell forward limply. Recovering her strength, she discovered that she was no longer stood on the street. She was in a large room, elaborately decorated. The walls were polished wooden panels, and the carpet was a deep emerald colour. All the furniture was wood, matching the walls, with green and red cushions. The flood of new information somewhat disorientated her, and she gazed up at Tristan through hazy eyes.

“What just happened?”

“Side along apparition,” Tristan replied, taking a step back from her.

Greta nodded vaguely, swaying on the spot. Forcing her legs into action she looked about her again, feeling the warmth of the fire burning at one side of the room.

Then her senses returned to her and she narrowed her eyes. “Why am I here?”

“You needed to go somewhere. I have a feeling that all residences with Maurs as registered occupants are going to be searched tonight. The Minister does not like to be thwarted.” Tristan strode over to a cabinet and opened the door, revealing several bottles. “Drink?”

Greta nodded warily. Tristan reached for a nondescript bottle and two glasses. Whilst pouring, he gestured wordlessly to one of the chairs. Keeping her eyes on him, Greta went over to a comfortable looking armchair and lowered herself into the cushions. Her wrist still ached despite the healing, and she rubbed it, absent minded.

Tristan took the seat next to her, handing her the drink in an offhand manner. Greta eyed it suspiciously, sniffing it before she took a sip.

“I’m glad you trust me so much.” Tristan’s voice was sarcastic.

Greta shrugged. “You haven’t given me a reason to trust you. How do I know you haven’t lured me here as a trap?”

“You don’t,” he conceded, knocking back his drink in one go. “But please, rest assured that I have no intention to poison you.”

“And why is that?” Greta asked, her tone irritable. His apparent inability to explain things properly first time round was starting to irk her.

Tristan smiled, exhaling through his nose condescendingly. “Because, Greta Maur, I saved your life. You now owe me a life debt.”

A chill came over Greta. She shook her head slightly, remembering the way he had danced with her. “I am not going to become your…”

His forehead wrinkled. “No, no, you misunderstand me. I don’t have any intention to take you as some sort of…mistress.” He leant forward, putting the cup down on the floor, and then rested on the arm of his chair. “The simple fact is that I have information that will be of use to you, but in order to receive that information, I want you to work for me.”

“What sort of information?” Greta whispered. Her fingers had dug into the cushion of her chair, and she hardly noticed as her nails pierced the soft fabric.

“Information concerning Theodore Maur.”

“He’s dead.”

A glint flashed over Tristan’s eyes. He smiled widely, showing a row of perfectly white teeth.

“Well, actually, no. He isn’t.”

A whirl of confusion, happiness, shock and fear shot through Greta. Her body quaked, and her breathing became short and erratic. She stared at Tristan, hardly daring to believe what she was hearing. But he continued to smile wolfishly, watching her reaction with obvious amusement. Eventually, she managed to gasp, “What? Tell me…tell me how you know this.”

But Tristan shook his head, holding up his hand for her to stop. “I will tell you, only when you have agreed on your part of the deal. Agree to work for me.”

His hand reached towards her, snaking through the air. Greta did not think, did not consider the consequences of her actions. She instantly put her hand in his, shaking firmly, her thoughts full of her brother and nothing else.

Chapter 3: Chapter Three
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Chapter Three




Instantly, Greta's head was a whirlpool of thoughts, images, possibilities. How could he be alive? How was that even possible? She had seen him walk to his death, or near enough.

But she had not seen him die. Her eyes flicked over Tristan’s face, searching for any deception. It was at that point that Tristan’s voice filtered through her numb mind.

“So tell me, what do you know of Gellert Grindelwald?”

She blinked. “Sorry, who?”

“Gellert Grindelwald,” Tristan repeated in the mysterious air Greta had fast come to dislike immensely.

She took another sip of her drink, letting the sharp tang of whiskey burn her inner cheeks as she swirled it around her mouth. Swallowing, she looked away. “I’ve never heard of him.”

“You will. Soon.”

“What?” Greta snapped, slamming her drink down on the arm of her chair and standing up. Her head was hurting; cryptic words and sly smiles were not helping. She headed for the door. “I don’t need this right now. I’ve got to go. I’ve got to…”

“You seem to be forgetting something important,” Tristan said, also standing. Greta turned, and the empty cup fell off her chair. The tinkle of breaking glass filled in the tense silence. Tristan’s eyes were dark, and a flickering shadow covered his face. “You have a life debt to pay, Greta Maur. If you’d prefer that I took it the old fashioned way, then by all means…” He reached for his wand.

Frozen on the spot, Greta shook her head, eyes wide. Tristan relaxed, his hand sliding off his wand. He beckoned for her to come closer and she obeyed, hating him.

“This cumbersome thing must come off,” he said softly when she was stood directly in front of him. Greta frowned, taken aback by his forthrightness, but he merely gestured to her mask. Reaching behind her head, he gently loosened the ties binding it to her face and let it drop to the floor. The ribbons fluttered as the mask fell and it landed on the ground between them. Greta watched it fall, and then dragged her eyes back up to his face, taking in his entire body as she went.

She could feel the heart beating painfully through the tight bindings of her gown. She also felt terribly vulnerable; her identity was now laid bare, yet Tristan was still masked. Resolved, she reached up to his face, feeling her way behind his head until her trembling fingers reached the ribbons tying his mask on. With one tug, the knot was undone and Tristan’s mask joined hers on the floor, black and red mingling in the firelight.

They stood, facing each other, eyes roving over fully exposed faces. Tristan leaned forward, further and further until they were so close…too close. Greta closed her eyes, heart beat now throbbing from the tips of her toes up to the top of her head. Then she heard his whisper.

“I should take you to your room.”

Her eyes flew open, the sickly sweet feeling that had been spreading through her transforming into coarse, spiky fury. Cursing herself for being so affected, she followed Tristan out of the room, keeping her eyes resolutely on the floor.

They took several turns down dimly lit corridors before they reached a door, which was almost entirely camouflaged against the dark panelled walls. Tristan pulled out his wand, muttered an incantation and pushed the door open. He stood back, gesturing for Greta to go in. She did so, keeping her head high and her eyes off his face.

The room was completely bare, apart from a small, cheap looking bed in the corner, with a little table and lamp next to it. Greta almost laughed at how ridiculous it was.

“You’re not expecting me to sleep here!”

“I’m sorry, I don’t entertain very often.” He sounded almost apologetic.

“No, I can see that.”

“I’ll get something done with it tomorrow, but I’m afraid it is all I have to offer tonight.”

“Well,” Greta replied coldly, “It will just have to do.” She turned bodily away from him, fixing her eyes on the bed. “Good night.”

Amazingly, her tactics worked. Tristan left the room, closing the door with a snap. As soon as he was gone, Greta let out a long sigh. Going over to the bed, she sat down on it, shifting uncomfortably as springs stuck into her thighs. As she sat thinking about what she was going to do, she noticed a faint glow around the lock on her door. It stayed no more than two seconds, and then flared out of existence. Tilting her head to the side, Greta stared a little longer at the lock, confused. And then it hit her.

Bounding over to the door, she rattled the handle, trying to open it. But it would not budge.

Bastard,” she exclaimed, kicking the door. He had locked her in.

What followed was a shamelessly childish tantrum. Greta pulled all the blankets from the bed, ripping them into strips and throwing them about the room. She threw the lamp off the bedside table, and then threw the bedside table at the remains of the lamp for good measure. She even bit the mattress, twisting the springs even further out of line.

After she had exhausted herself, she finally had a rational thought. Pulling her wand out of the folds of her gown, she went over to the door and performed the counter charm. But it didn’t work; of course it wouldn’t. She knew he would have confiscated her wand if any magic she knew would have worked on it.

Still hot with anger, Greta threw herself on the ruined mattress and lay, face down, thinking. Tristan obviously needed her for something. If she was useless then he would have either let her go free or claimed the life debt in the traditional manner; by killing her. He had already given her a titbit of information concerning how useful he could be to her. So perhaps, she realised, lifting her head a little, temporary imprisonment meant little compared to her overall gains. She had been told Theodore was alive; what could be better than helping the one who had given her such a wonderful bit of news? She would simply have to get through tonight and face tomorrow when it came.

Pushing herself off the bed, Greta reached behind and began to undo the clasps of her dress. As her fingers brushed over the undone clasps, she felt a jolt go through her but pushed any thoughts of the Minister as far back as her mind would allow. Undoing the rest of the clasps, she pulled the dress off her, revealing a thin white undergarment.

She slept in her underclothes, shivering on the bare bed and wishing she had not ripped all of the blankets.

~


After he had locked Greta in her room, Tristan went back to the room he had first taken her to. His face was impassive as he took the bottle of whiskey out of the cabinet and carried it over to the chair he had been sitting in. Falling onto the cushions, he took up his glass and poured it up to the top, throwing it to the back of his throat almost instantly. He then poured another, and another, before slumping back into his chair and staring blankly ahead.

It was that moment just before dawn lit the sky when the fire suddenly spit emerald flames. Tristan, still awake and with heavy bags under his eyes, turned his head an inch so he could see the fire. It spurted flame for a moment longer, and then a head burst into life amongst the embers.

The man’s dark hair cascaded down into the fire, bizarrely refusing to burn up. He had a dark stare which transfixed Tristan in his seat, and when he spoke it was with a commanding tone.

“I take it you were responsible for hexing me.”

Tristan inclined his head at the comment, a smile playing on his lips. The face in the fire narrowed its eyes.

“What the hell were you doing, Gaillard? I was dealing with her.”

“Forgive me, Minister,” Tristan replied, getting up so he was closer to the face. “I couldn’t let you be responsible for her death. What if it had gotten out to the papers?”

Henry Lowe pursed his lips, a rogue spark flying in front of his eyes as he considered what Tristan had said. Finally, he spoke. “Well, I hope you’ve damn well dealt with her, now.”

“As good as, sir.”

“As good as isn’t bloody good enough!” Lowe exclaimed. A hand appeared out of nowhere and wiped his brow before turning to point threateningly at Tristan. “I’m going to come over tomorrow, and you’d better have a pretty little corpse to show me, or you’re going to wish you’d never even heard of me, understand?”

“Yes, sir.”

The face suddenly smiled wryly. “Of course you understand. You’d be a fool not to.” And then it was gone, with a rather satisfying pop.

Tristan dropped back into his chair reaching down to pick the whiskey bottle back up. This time, he didn’t bother to pour it into a glass, instead choosing to drink directly from the neck. Swilling the strong substance over his teeth, he stared back at the fire, eyes narrowed and lips pursed.

Chapter 4: Chapter Four
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Chapter Four



Greta slept fitfully, her mind full of ghostly images from her childhood followed by vivid dreams of the night Theodore had been taken from her. She would then wake from her half-sleep, the mattress soaked with sweat and heart pounding. As soon as a tiny bit of light began spilling under the door, like a slowly advancing pool of bright water, Greta got up. She did not feel rested but the thought of spending any more time in bed was not a pleasant one.

There was no wash basin, or toiletries of any kind, but there were some clothes piled in the corner, a new addition to the room. As she rummaged through the surprisingly varied array of women’s clothing, Greta felt a strange chill pierce through her. She had to wonder where they had come from and who the previous owner, or owners, had been.

Pushing unsavoury thoughts from her mind, she settled for a practical pair of trousers and loose shirt. Her red ball gown lay on the other side of the room, crumpled and abandoned. She found herself not wanting to recall the events of the previous night.

She had just pulled the shirt over her head when the door swung open and Tristan strolled in, as though it was any other room. She jumped, turning away from him.

“You could have knocked. I may have been in the middle of changing.”

“But you weren’t,” Tristan replied simply. Greta turned to shoot him a withering look, and noticed the wand in his hand, his fingers curled tightly around it. She took a step back.

“I thought we agreed…”

Tristan blinked, and then looked down at his hand. He seemed surprised that the wand was there, and quickly stowed it away in his pocket. “I needed it to open the door; that is all.”

“I’d appreciate it if you didn’t barge into rooms with your wand raised.”

“You’re not in the position to make demands,” he retorted, but his face softened. “However the point is taken.”

Greta nodded, feeling satisfied at this small victory. Her stomach grumbled and she became aware of how hungry she was. Tristan seemed to recognise this, and he beckoned for her to leave the room. Walking down corridors with him behind her made her feel very vulnerable, but when he touched her elbow to indicate which door to go through, she was suddenly very glad of their positions. The sensation jolted through her entire body like wildfire.

They came to a small morning room which was ravished with sunlight streaming from floor to ceiling windows. The whole room glowed the colour of egg yolk. Greta could hardly believe what she was seeing, having expected another depressing wood panelled room. She walked in as though in rapture, barely noticing as she made her way over to a small table and sat at it.

“Tea?” Tristan’s voice swam through Greta’s amazement. She looked at him with shining eyes, and nodded.

The tea was very good; perfectly brewed. As Greta sipped it, not bothering with checking for poison this time, she watched Tristan. He was holding his tea cup against his lips but not drinking, his eyes focussed on the tablecloth.

Eventually, he put down his cup. “Would you like some food?”

Greta considered, and then nodded. Tristan took out his wand and waved it at the table, making toast and jam appear immediately. The smell made Greta’s mouth water.

“So tell me, what exactly were you hoping to achieve last night?” Tristan said mildly, taking a slice of toast.

Grabbing a slice for herself, Greta stared at him. “What do you mean?”

“Well,” Tristan answered in a patronising tone, “You were never going to succeed with a plan like that.” He reached for the jam with his knife. Pulling the pot out from beneath him, Greta uttered a satisfied ‘ha!’

Scraping as much jam out as possible, she said, “I think I would have been just fine if you hadn’t burst in.”

“Of course,” Tristan muttered under his breath.

Glaring at him, Greta held the jam up to the light to see if there was any left. Confirming its status as empty, she slammed it down on the table in front of him, eyes blazing. “This is all just a fun little game for you, isn’t it?”

“Not at all.”

“Yes it is!” Greta retorted. She could feel a lump form in her throat, just underneath where her locket lay against her cold skin, and suddenly stealing jam and shooting filthy looks felt strangely petty. “Theo may just be a bargaining tool for you, but he’s my brother and what happened to him was a travesty.”

“Really?” Tristan replied, a smile playing on his lips. Greta opened her mouth, but he spoke over her. “From what I heard there was a Ministry Official found dead and Theodore was the only suspect.”

“That is not true!” Greta snapped shrilly, aware he was baiting her but too angry to stop herself. “He wasn’t anywhere near the building when it happened. And besides,” she narrowed her eyes, daring him to find a comeback, “Theo was a squib. He couldn’t have killed him.”

There was a long silence. Tristan’s face remained impassive, but he was looking at her all the time. Greta felt her cheeks flush under his unrelenting stare, and she wished he would look anywhere but at him. And then, finally, he spoke.

“Maybe you’re right.”

“I know I am.”

Before he could reply, the sound of a bell tinkled through the room. Tristan stiffened, hand straying to his wand. Noticing his sudden tension, Greta immediately felt the rush a rush of adrenaline and a stab of fear.

“What is it?”

“Nothing,” Tristan mumbled, his eyes fixed on the door. Getting up, he strode across the room and grabbed the handle. But before he left, he turned back to Greta. “Stay here.”

“I will not!” Greta retorted, standing up.

“Do as I say!” Tristan snapped, as the bell tinkled again. Greta couldn’t believe how sinister such a sweet sound could be. Slowly, she dropped back down into the chair. With a satisfied nod, Tristan left the room, and Greta was instantly back on her feet.

She waited a few seconds before rushing over to the door and rattling the handle. As she had suspected, Tristan had been too flustered to perform the locking spell and it swung open with ease. She slipped out into the corridor, feeling the delicious rush of the forbidden.

He was nowhere to be seen. Taking a few experimental steps forward, Greta noticed a door at the far end of the corridor that was slightly ajar. A smile forming on her lips, she darted towards it, checking through the small gap that all was clear before she went through it.

It was another corridor, this time lined with portraits of various countryside scenes. Greta glanced at each as she passed by them, surprised by Tristan’s taste. As she reached the end of the corridor, though, she came upon a very different picture.

It was a painting of a little girl with very dark hair and eyes. As Greta stared up at her she felt a strange sensation, as though she had seen her before, but she had no idea where or why. She had a pleasant face and the type of innocent smile that could only be received from a child. But her eyes were far older than her years, and she stared out into the corridor with such a mournful look that Greta was utterly captivated

She wasn’t sure how long she spent staring at the portrait, but the next thing Greta registered was the sound of voices, coming closer. Then there was a laugh, and she froze on the spot. She knew that voice, that laugh. But what was he doing here?

Glancing about her in a panic, Greta finally ran to the closest door and rattled the handle desperately. It was locked, which meant more fumbling in her trouser pocket for her wand, which she dropped when she finally found it. Swearing under her breath, she picked the wand up again and hastily muttered a spell under her breath. The door opened with a click, and she fell through into the waiting room with relief.

Pulling the door back instantly, Greta left a small crack to look through. Her hand tightened around her wand, and she waited.

She did not have to wait long. In less than a minute, Tristan rounded the corner onto the corridor, the Minister for Magic following in his wake. Lowe was smiling and looking down at something in his hands. Greta’s eyes widened when she saw what it was.

Her mask.

“I think I shall stow this away somewhere private,” Lowe was saying, “And whenever some idiot’s pissed me off, I’ll go and have a look at it and think ‘At least this one didn’t get away with it.’” He clapped Tristan on the back, laughing hard.

“Very good, sir,” Tristan said, joining in the laughter. Greta watched his face, a perfect show of genuine mirth. But his eyes were cold, unimpressed.

She turned her attention back to the Minister. It would be so easy to jump out of her hiding place and curse him to oblivion, right now. But something stopped her. She could feel Tristan’s presence in her mind, shaking his head slowly. And, amazingly, she felt like obeying him. Yesterday she had been avenging a death, but today was different. She did not know where she stood, and she did not like being on uneven footing. When she killed him-she would kill him, one day-she wanted to look into his eyes with complete resolve and watch as his hope of redemption diminished to a bitter nothing.

Dropping her wand down to her side, Greta gently pushed the door shut. Now was not the time for action. Now was the time for explanation, and she would get information out of Tristan no matter what it took.



Chapter 5: Chapter Five
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Chapter Five



Greta stepped away from the door and turned to look at the rest of the room. She saw that she was in a big room with the same polished wood décor as the rest of the house. There was a fire burning in a grate at one side. It was the only source of light as, bizarrely considering the beautiful day, the curtains were drawn shut. And over in the corner, standing perfectly still, was a little girl.

Greta jumped, which made the girl jump as well. As she stepped forward out of the shadows, Greta was struck by how familiar she looked. And then she realised.

“You’re the girl in the painting. Outside.”

To her surprise, the girl giggled shyly. “It’s horrible, isn’t it? I told Tris not to put it there, but he insisted.”

Greta blinked, stunned by how much older the girl sounded compared to how she looked.

“You must be Greta Maur,” the girl said conversationally. Greta noticed that she was holding a piece of muslin in her hand, with a half sewed pattern on it. As she spoke, she rubbed the edge of the cloth, making it fray.

She nodded, dragging her eyes back to the girl’s face. “How do you know that?”

“Tris told me. Just before he left yesterday he told me he’d be bringing you back.” The girl smiled widely. “You’re going to help me.”

“Help you?” Greta frowned. She felt as though she was drunk; information was entering her head but she couldn’t understand it properly. “I’m sorry; I think you’ve got the wrong person.”

The girl’s smile did not falter. Taking a few steps towards Greta, the girl held out her hand. Taking it carefully, Greta let her hand be shaken. The child seemed satisfied, and stepped back again. “My name is Ellen, by the way.”

“Ellen,” Greta repeated quietly, a buzzing sound filling her ears. Why would this girl think she was here to help her? It didn’t make any sense, and the more she thought about it, the more it hurt her head.

Ellen’s eyes suddenly slid off Greta’s face to somewhere behind her, and she squealed in joy. “Tris! Look, Tris, Greta has come to visit me!”

Blanching, Greta twisted on the spot and came face to face with Tristan. His eyes were thunderous and his wand was gripped in his hand. Holding her gaze, he spoke out of the corner of his mouth.

“Please leave, Ellen. I have to talk to Greta.”

The child obeyed without protest, staring at Greta from under her eyelashes as she walked past. As soon as the door snapped shut behind her, Tristan raised his wand. Greta immediately mimicked him, her thoughts turning back to the conversation she had overheard.

“You are going to answer some questions,” she said, confusion gradually being replaced with the more familiar anger.

Tristan shook his head very slightly from side to side. “I told you not to leave the morning room.”

“It’s a good thing I disregarded your orders, isn’t it?” Greta spat back, sparks spattering from her wand. “What the hell was he doing here?”

Tristan made a noise like a wolf’s growl. “I don’t have to answer any of your questions. You disobeyed me.”

“I am not your slave!”

“You owe me a life debt.”

“I don’t care!” Greta shouted, her eyes wild. She was fed up; fed up of hearing his voice twisting its way into her mind. Stepping towards him until they were face to face, she pushed her wand against his temple and spat, “Tell me where Theodore is. I want nothing more to do with you.”

“No.” Tristan smiled as he spoke; the smile of one who was victorious. She couldn’t go any further than threats, and she knew it.

Greta glared at him, pushing as much hatred into her eyes as possible. “Then at least tell me why he was here.”

“I will only tell you if we can speak like adults,” Tristan replied, indicating the wand currently resting against his head. Greta hesitated, glancing at his wand which was still trained on her abdomen. Eyes meeting again, they both silently counted to three and pulled away.

Composure instantly restored, Tristan gestured to a couple of chairs by the fire. Greta went to one, keeping her eyes on him at all times. Lowering herself into the seat, she pursed her lips and indicated for him to begin.

Rubbing the side of his head, Tristan stared into the fire. For a long time he was silent. And then he leant back in his chair, rolling his head along the high back.

“I work for Henry Lowe. I am one of his aides.”

“I knew it,” Greta said, starting out of her chair.

Tristan stood, wand twitching in his hand. “Will you let me finish? I may be one of his aides on paper, but I have been working for someone else for many months now.”

“Who?” Greta immediately countered, staying up and poised. Then she remembered. “Grindelwald.”

Tristan nodded, a smile stretching his lips. “Correct. I am glad you were paying attention.” He paused, sitting back down, before continuing, “I told Henry that I had gotten rid of you, to save him any embarrassing scandals, and I gave him your mask to prove it. He acted satisfied, but he knows you are really still alive.”

“You should have let me deal with him,” Greta said through gritted teeth.

Tristan looked away into the fire. “I didn’t want to risk it.” He seemed to be talking to himself more than to her.

“The girl, Ellen,” Greta ventured after a moment. “She told me that I was here to help her.”

“Yes.”

“I am?” She frowned, wishing he would look back at her. He was still staring at the fire, half of his attention on his own thoughts. “What do you want me for?”

He shook his head a little, visibly dragging himself back into the present. Greta waited impatiently, finger tapping on the edge of her wand. She was still standing; still ready to strike as soon as need be.

“I need a wand,” Tristan said eventually. At Greta’s confused look, he elaborated, “An important wand. I know its location, but I need an accomplice to help me steal it.”

“And the wand will help Ellen?” Greta asked.

“Ultimately, yes.”

There was another, long silence. Greta sat down slowly, keeping her wand ready on her lap. So Tristan was in the same position as herself, after a fashion. He, too, was bound by another to do whatever was in his power to help them. She looked across to him. He was staring down at his hands, face impassive as always. But the blankness in his eyes seemed forced this time. She leant forward in her seat.

“How will it help?”

He looked up. “We must be going.”

“No,” Greta countered, staying resolutely seated even as Tristan rose from his position. “No, I asked you a question.”

“It is really none of your business,” Tristan said, heading for the door. Greta watched him go, her blood boiling. She stood in a flash.

“I’m sorry to say, but you have made it my business. You were the one who insisted on using this life debt to bribe me rather than letting it slide, or even settling the debt the ordinary way.” She watched as he slowly turned back from the door to look at her. Her breath was coming in short bursts, as though it had to fight through her anger before reaching her lungs. She did not enjoy being pushed about, told information only when it was right for him.

Tristan looked at her coldly. “We must be going. The sooner we get this wand, the sooner you find out where Theodore is.”

“Or I could just hurt you until you tell me where he is,” Greta said, twirling her wand in her fingers. Tristan followed its twisting path with his eyes.

Jutting out his chin he replied, “Try it.”

Greta hesitated, not expecting that reaction. Her mind was full of such contradictory thoughts, feelings and images. Theodore strode freely through her mind, turning his face towards her, his eyes wide. He was shaking his head, but she didn’t understand why. And then she thought of the girl, Ellen. What place did she take in his twisted world? There was something very wrong with the man standing in front of her, and it scared and exhilarated her in equal measure.

She hardly noticed Tristan raise his wand, and barely saw the spell shoot towards her. She only reacted when she was halfway to unconsciousness, and even then all she could do was sigh.



Chapter 6: Chapter Six
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Chapter Six





Greta awoke long before she was willing to open her eyes. Her whole body ached, but her head hurt the most and it was a sharp pain across her temples that first dragged her from unconsciousness. She then became aware of a rhythmic rocking motion gently moving her body from side to side. The movement lulled her back into a fitful sleep, and then she snapped awake fully.

She flicked her eyes open. The first thing she saw was that she was lying in a very narrow bed. For some reason, she focussed on a lamp fixed to the ceiling directly above her. It was swinging in time with her own body’s involuntary movements. With a jolt, she suddenly realised where she was.

She was on a train.

Sitting up with a start, Greta instantly regretted such ambitious movement when her head exploded in pain. Wincing in protest, she brought her hand up to rub her head gently. Gradually the pain subsided. Greta let her hand drop back down to her lap. During the movement, her little finger caught the blanket that had been resting gently on her shoulder, pulling it down to reveal a salmon pink nightdress.

Greta paled, staring at the garment with a mixture of disgust and intrigue. A hot, urgent feeling rushed through her and her hand flew to her throat, fingers brushing the cool locket resting as always against her skin. Relief flooding through her, she looked up as the compartment door slid open.

“Oh, good, you’re awake,” Tristan commented as he pushed himself into the small space.

Greta shook her head slightly. “Please say you used magic to get me into this,” she mumbled, gesturing at the nightdress. The train jolted and the right strap fell down her shoulder. Greta instantly pulled it back up, eyes still on Tristan.

He smirked. “Well, there’s no witness to say I didn’t…”

“Don’t joke with me,” Greta said, throwing the blanket back up to cover herself. “And another thing, this is technically kidnap.”

“You threatened me.”

“That’s hardly the point!” Greta snapped. She looked around the room, eyes resting on the small window by the bed. It was dark outside, and rain spattered the windows. “Where are we anyway?”

“Scotland.”

What?!” Greta spluttered, eyes snapping back to Tristan. Thrusting her hand under the blanket, she desperately patted her legs and the mattress around them, searching for her wand. When she emerged empty handed, she instantly rounded on Tristan.

“Give it back.”

“Give what back?” Tristan asked, still smiling annoyingly.

Greta rolled her eyes. “I think you know very well what I’m talking about.” At his blank look, she elaborated, “My wand!”

“Oh! You mean this?” Tristan said, plunging a hand into his pocket and retrieving the familiar object. Greta breathed a sigh of relief which instantly turned into a frustrated hiss as he began stroking it through his fingers. “Yew, ten inches. I cannot tell the core, but I would suspect dragon heartstring, correct?”

“Does it matter?” Greta said miserably. Tristan shrugged, stowing the wand away in his pocket. The train jolted again, more violently. The lamp in the ceiling swung, flickering.

“How long was I unconscious?” Greta asked, for want of anything else to say.

“Not long. We went by the floo network most of the way. But our ultimate destination is unplottable, so the last few miles will have to be done using muggle transportation.”

“And our final destination is where, exactly?”

“The place the wand is.” Tristan crossed the cabin, which took barely three steps, and sat down on the bed. It was the only seat in the room, but Greta still felt it was a strong liberty to take. She drew her knees up to hug close to her chest, so she was sat as far away from him as possible.

“So we take this wand and then you tell me where Theo is, and I get as far away from you as possible.”

Tristan laughed softly through his nose. “Not exactly.”

“Don’t tell me there’s more!” Greta shook her head, exasperated. She could feel every part of her spirit droop down as far as it could go. This could not be possible. Surely there couldn’t be any more.

Crossing his legs, Tristan took one corner of the blanket and pinched it between his thumb and finger. “We steal the wand, take it to Grindelwald, and then I tell you where Theodore is.” He pursed his lips. “And then you get as far away from me as possible, as you so succinctly put it.”

“Take it to Grindelwald?” Greta repeated, mind racing. “So this is all just a task he’s given to you?”

“Correct.”

“But how on earth is that going to help Ellen?” Greta muttered to herself, eyes fixed on the bit of blanket in Tristan’s hand. He was rubbing it together, making the very edge twitch in a strange sort of dance. A sick feeling growing in her stomach, Greta wrenched her eyes from the blanket at looked back at him. “There isn’t some sort of threat hanging over her head, is there?”

“No, I would not work for someone who would stoop to threaten a child’s life,” Tristan replied instantly. He was wide eyed and genuinely affronted.

Feeling guilty, Greta dipped her head. “I’m sorry. I just needed that confirmed.”

“Of course you…” Tristan began. But he was stopped in his tracks as a screeching sound cut across him. Greta felt herself being pushed to the left as the train slowed rapidly. The lamp flickered again, more prominently this time, and outside the wind began howling even louder.

A frown creasing his brow, Tristan went to the window and pressed his cheek against it, looking as far to each side as possible. Unsuccessful, he turned back and went to the cabin door. Greta watched him, pushing the blankets down and pulling her legs to the side of the bed.

“What’s happening?” She asked as he wrenched the door open and stuck his head out into the corridor. He looked first to the left, and then the right. And then he leapt back into the cabin, slamming the door shut.

“What did you see?” Greta asked, more urgently.

Tristan looked at her, eyes wild. Dipping his hand into his pocket, he drew her wand out again and tossed it to her. There was a clunk and the carriage jerked as the train finally stopped. The wand slipped through Greta’s outstretched fingers and rolled under the bed. She dipped down, reaching under with one hand, as Tristan rushed back to the window.

“What is it?!” She repeated, hand clamping around wand.

“Unspeakables,” Tristan spat, pointing his wand at the window. “Alohomora.” Nothing happened. Tristan hit the window with his fist. “Damn it! They’ve put some sort of shield over the whole train.”

“Wait, what?” Greta said, panicked. She hurried to the window. “Why are there Unspeakables on the train?”

“Lowe’s obviously come to his senses, and sent them to find you,” Tristan replied, averting his eyes as he curled his fingers around the latch and lifted it off. He tugged at the window, but it didn’t budge. “Help me will you?” He spat through his exertion.

Greta nodded wordlessly, fear stabbing through her. Grabbing the edge of the window, she began pulling it as well. Taking a gasp of air, she pulled and pulled with all her strength, willing the window to open. She did not want it to end this way, not on some train in the middle of Scotland.

She could hear the sound of footsteps in the corridor outside, along with cabin doors being slid backwards and harsh voices. On a number of occasions, she thought she heard her own name being said, but she wasn’t sure whether this was only her imagination.

Tristan sighed in frustration, kicking the bed as he strained against the window. Forcing her mind back to the task, Greta blocked out everything else. Slowly, ever so painfully slowly, the window began to slide back, creaking in protest as rusted metal plates slid over each other.

“Keep going!” Tristan said, a note of triumph entering his voice. After a few seconds more of exhausted tugging, the window finally slid back fully, with a resounding clash.

They’ll have heard that, Greta thought, but she did not waste any time talking. Pulling herself up onto the ledge, she slipped one leg around and out of the window. The bitter cold air and rain lashed at her unwisely clad body, but she forced herself on. Closing her eyes to the onslaught of weather, she slid her other leg through the gap and let herself drop.

The track had been set on a small, man made mound, so the drop was further than Greta expected. For a split second, she experienced the terrifying sensation of falling indefinitely. And then her feet hit the ground and her legs buckled underneath her. She fell sideways, crying out as she felt something snap against the ground, and let herself roll naturally down the mound.

She became vaguely aware of shouting, and lifted her head to see several people in the cabin she had just been in. Tristan was half way out of the window and seemed to be wobbling strangely. It took a few minutes for her dulled brain to realise that he was being pulled back in by Unspeakables. Greta found herself willing him to succeed, and eventually he managed to successfully stun one of them and twist out of the other’s grip. He fell much more gracefully, landing on his feet and stumbling down the mound to where she was lying.

“There’s no time, come on!” He shouted, pulling Greta up and hugging her around the waist.

Greta forced her legs into action, gasping for breath. Behind her, there were more shouts and several bright flashes of light. Screaming, she bent over double, knees buckling. But Tristan was ready and, in one swift motion, pulled her back up. When she did not engage her legs in running again, he swept her into his arms and ran for the both of them.

There were more flashes, and Greta saw several spells whizz past the pair of them. Tristan chanced a glance behind him. When he turned back, his face was white.

“There are too many of them.” He looked down. “I’m going to have to apparate, ready?”

Greta nodded. This time, she remembered to take a deep breath before everything-the train, the flashes of spells, the dreadful, dreadful shouting-disappeared into a great crush of nothing.

Chapter 7: Chapter Seven
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Chapter Seven



They reappeared in a dark, cobbled street. Tristan’s knees buckled slightly as his feet impacted on the ground and Greta felt herself lurching forwards in his arms. It was not raining, wherever they were, and a weak new moon spluttered light down on them. The rest of the street was illuminated by a single lamp at one end.

As soon as she was accustomed to her surroundings, Greta struggled in Tristan’s grip. “Let go of me.”

His confidence returned, Tristan only smiled, saying, “I don’t know. I quite like you here.”

Greta pulled her wand up to point it in his face, fully prepared to curse him until he barely resembled a human. But it did not point at him. One half of it, the half she was holding, still pointed in the right direction. But the other half dangled limply, only held together by a thin splinter of wood. They both stared at it, wide eyed.

Then Tristan laughed. Greta joined in, relief at their escape and mirth at the how ridiculous her wand looked mingling together inside her.

Tears dotting his eyes, Tristan stooped to let her down. As her feet touched the ground, she gasped at the cold, realising for the first time that she had no shoes on. It had not occurred to her before; she supposed she had had other things to worry about. Thoughts back on the train, she turned to Tristan.

“Thank you.”

He blinked. “What for?”

“For staying with me. Knowing what to do.”

They stood for a moment in silence. Tristan kept opening his mouth and then closing it, without saying anything. Greta felt the same thing; that she wanted to say something, but she wasn’t quite sure what it was yet. Just as she was getting uncomfortable a cold wind blew down the street, trailing around Greta’s legs and up to her arms, lining her skin with goose bumps and making her hair dance off her shoulders. She shivered involuntarily, wrapping her arms around her stomach and curling her toes.

“You must be cold,” Tristan said blankly, taking off his jacket. Greta gratefully took it, not failing to notice that he remembered to take his wand out of the pocket before handing it over. She pressed the two halves of her wand together and held them tightly in her fist.

“Where are we?”

“Brùraton,” he replied, heading down the street towards the gently swinging lamp. Greta followed, skipping over the cobbles to avoid stones sticking into her tender soles.

“It’s an entirely wizarding town,” Tristan elaborated when they reached the end of the street. Greta peeped out from behind him and saw a wide boulevard bathed in orange light from hundreds of wrought iron lamps. She made to move forward, but Tristan stuck out his arm, pushing her back. “It hasn’t got the best reputation. Stay close.”

Greta complied, although she couldn’t see what was wrong with it. Aside from there being absolutely no-one around it looked like any other town at night time. All the same, she was not prepared to get into some sort of trouble dressed as she was, especially without a wand to protect her.

They walked down the main street for a few minutes, until Tristan turned off at a seemingly arbitrary point into a very narrow alleyway. As Greta followed, she looked up and saw a rusted inn sign swinging overhead. It bore the utterly uninspiring name ‘The Hag’s Eye’ in peeling copperplate, complete with a picture.

Greta tapped Tristan on the elbow. “Are you sure this is the best place we can go?”

“Yes,” Tristan replied, pushing the door open before she could complain further.

Greta was immediately hit by the stench of stale air and alcohol. Wrinkling her nose, she stepped into the inn. It was as she had suspected; grimy in the worst sense of the word. A few people were sat at the bar, cloaks pulled over their faces as they clutched at chipped glasses full of strangely coloured substances. An ancient looking gramophone in the corner spewed out a warbling song. Even worse, the floor was caked with dirt. Greta instantly rolled onto the sides of her feet, preferring to adopt a ridiculous walk rather than get any more dirt on that than was absolutely necessary.

Tristan pointed to a seat at a table in a corner and disappeared to the bar. Greta sat down, curling her legs under her and hitting her feet to get the worst of the dirt off. When she had finished, Tristan had returned with two barely clean glasses

“Firewhiskey,” he said, putting the glass down in front of her. Greta eyed it with disgust, but eventually forced herself to take a sip. It was surprisingly good, and she let herself take a further gulp, feeling it burn its way down her throat and warm her belly. It had the secondary advantage of lifting her spirits.

“So who is this Gellert Grindelwald?” She asked, taking another sip of her drink and letting it rest on her tongue.

Tristan paused, his glass halfway to his lips. “He is a scientist.” At Greta’s confused look, he added, “A sort of wizarding scientist. He pushes the boundaries of magic to the limit to see what will happen. Experimentation, invention, that sort of thing. And he’s rich enough to stay outside of Ministerial control, so the sky’s the limit.”

“What made you start working for him?”

“He made me an offer I couldn’t refuse,” Tristan replied, taking a swig of his drink and smacking his lips.

Greta laughed again, surprising herself. “Do you ever get tired of being so mysterious?”

He did not reply. After a pause, he tapped his drink against the table and said, “What about you? Before all this started with Theodore, what was your life like?”

Greta frowned. It had been so long since she had visited her memories that looking back now felt strange; like viewing a picture through distorted water. “It was…good,” she said eventually, “Just an ordinary life.” Saying the words made her long for that ordinary life once more. Her hand went up to her locket, and she curled her fingers around it.

“You feel as though you are responsible for what happened to him.”

Greta looked back at Tristan, his words ringing in her ears. He was staring at her, waiting for her to respond, and she drank in his stare. Then she nodded. “Yes. I should have protected him. He was so…innocent.”

She watched him take another drink, feeling as though a link had been forged between them. She waited for him to take a sip and then said quietly, “You feel responsible for Ellen, don’t you?”

His eyes snapped back to her but there was no other reaction.

“Who is she?” Greta persisted. “Your daughter?”

“No, oh no,” he replied instantly, a strange smile resting on his face, as though the suggestion was somehow ludicrous. After a moment, he continued, “I suppose she is like my daughter. Her parents are both dead, so I’m the only family she has.” He paused. “But there’s no use in dwelling on the past.”

“I’m sure you’ve done everything you can for her.”

He exhaled through his nose, a sort of half laugh. “You know she’s a squib too, just like your brother. Eleven years old two months ago and no Hogwarts letter. She took that hard.”

“So did he,” Greta said. She remembered the day she had got her letter. Theo had been so jealous; he hardly spoke to her for the entire of the following week. She looked back at Tristan, seeing him in a new light. Or rather, from a slightly different perspective. It felt as though there was a link being forged between them; they were being bound together by shared experiences, shared misfortunes.

“I asked for a room when I was at the bar. Separate beds, of course,” Tristan said. He drained his glass and stared as the remnants of liquid drizzled down the edges in thin tracts.

Greta smiled at his comment. She suddenly felt very tired, although no longer as cold, and was very grateful when Tristan got to his feet and stretched.

They were led by the barman up a very small and rickety staircase that seemed to go on forever, and Greta’s thighs were burning by the time she reached the top. The room was as she had expected, although with the welcome addition of an already burning fire in a surprisingly ornate fireplace to the right. Slipping under the threadbare duvet cover was luxurious and as soon as she lay down, Greta felt her eyelids droop. But before she fell to sleep, she turned over to face Tristan. He was lying on his bad, eyes already closed, and his face was bathed in the flickering firelight.

As she watched, his head dropped down so it was facing her. He looked so peaceful as he slept; there was no hint of arrogance or sadness on his face. Greta fell asleep facing him, still wrapped in his jacket, her arm extended and fingers almost touching his blanket.


Chapter 8: Chapter Eight
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Chapter Eight



Morning came quickly; too quickly for Greta’s liking. She opened her eyes with a groan of protest, and the first thing she noticed was that Tristan’s bed was empty. Fully awake now, she sat up, rubbing sleep from hazy eyes.

Tristan was already up. Noticing she was awake, he held up a brown paper bag.

“You need to change.”

Greta instantly got out of bed, grabbing the bag out of his hands and rifling through it. He had managed to get some clothes; decent clothes. The bag contained a pair of trousers, blouse and what looked like a hand knitted jumper. It was not the height of fashion, but she hardly cared and ached to change out of what she was already wearing.

But before she did, she looked back at Tristan with narrowed eyes. “Leave. Now.”

“I could just face the…”

“No, get out!” Greta exclaimed, shuddering at the suggestion. She pointed at the door for good measure. He seemed to take the hint and left without anything further to say.

As soon as he was gone, Greta ripped the nightdress off and greedily pulled the new clothes on. There was also a pair of shoes in the bag, which she put on with even more excitement. Her feet could not take another day of running around without proper protection. The only thing left was to put the remnants of her broken wand in her trouser pocket, and she was ready.

She called for Tristan and he immediately re-entered. Fighting down the suspicion that he had been peeking through the gap between the door and frame, Greta sat back on the edge of her bed. “So, what are we going to do? Are we anywhere near where we need to be?”

“I think so,” he replied, sitting opposite her on his bed. “Its about twenty miles away, in the mountains. We were closer on the train but…that can’t be helped. Are you hungry?”

The sudden question took Greta by surprise, but as soon as it filtered through her still sleep-addled brain, she nodded.

“We’ll be able to get something downstairs, and then we’re going to have to go,” Tristan said, getting up. Greta led the way out of the room, retracing her steps from the previous night down the rickety staircase, which looked even worse in the daylight.

She became aware of voices drifting up from the bar when they were about halfway down the stairs. Ignoring them, she continued until they were almost at the door leading to the bar and she could hear each word clearly.

“No, haven’t seen them,” came the grumpy voice of the barman, hoarse from a night of having drinks bought for him.

“Are you sure?” The second voice held authority, but was otherwise unrecognisable. “They may have given false names. Here, I have a sketch.”

Greta froze, hand resting on the door. She turned to see Tristan with the same horrified look etched on his face. The moment their eyes met, they turned and went back up the stairs as quietly as they could.

“How did they find us?” Greta whispered as soon as they were back on the upper landing. Tristan shrugged, looking up and down the length of the corridor.

“They must have been going around every inn, hotel and guest house in the town since yesterday. And I’ll bet they’re now tracking apparations.” He darted down the corridor, trying doors at random. “There must be another staircase, somewhere…”

Greta watched him go, a hazy and incredibly stupid idea forming in her mind. Going back to the room they had shared, she tried the handle. It was still open. Slipping in, she went over to the window and opened it, looking out.

“Tristan!” She hissed, and waited for him to appear at the doorway, which he did a few seconds later. Seeing her at the window, he shook his head.

“That is the most ridiculous idea imaginable.”

“But there’s some sort of ledge, below…” Greta said. Rushing over to his bed, she grabbed hold of the edge and started to drag it towards the window. Tristan stood, stunned, as she pushed it firmly against the wall and clambered onto it.

And then, before he could stop her, Greta sat on the wall under the window and swung her legs over. Trying hard not to look down at the dizzying drop, she dangled her feet until they impacted with the ledge. And then, ever so slowly, she twisted around so she was facing back into the room. Shuffling her feet along the ledge experimentally, she glanced to the right. As she had suspected, the ledge carried on until it reached another window.

She beckoned Tristan to follow and then slid along the ledge, keeping a firm hold of whatever came to hand; a pipe, a misplaced brick, anything, until she came to the next window. Looking back, she saw Tristan lowering himself out of the window to follow her. He was muttering.

“There would have been a door, somewhere…”

“Scared?” Greta mocked, laughing as his face flashed with annoyance. She carried on, sliding from one window to the other.

“And what idiocy were you planning on next?” Tristan spat, face shining with the exertion.

Greta looked down. Coming up beneath her was a roof, part of the pub that was not on the same level. Tristan followed her gaze and shook his head firmly.

“They would hear you fall on that.”

“Not with a silencing charm,” Greta said pointedly. She was now directly above the roof. It was a drop of a good few metres, and she steeled herself for it.

Tristan sighed. Grabbing a piece of drain firmly, he slid his hand down the wall to his pocket and reached in. The drain groaned, bending slightly, and Tristan wobbled dangerously. For a split second, Greta felt her stomach lurch as he fell backwards. But then he righted himself, body crashing back into the wall, and pulled the wand out of his pocket.

Silencio.

Taking a deep breath to calm herself, Greta stared at the wall in front of her and counted to three. Then, biting hard to stop herself screaming despite the spell, she let herself fall.

She hit the roof awkwardly, sliding down about a metre before she managed to halt her progress. A few tiles fell off the roof, but the charm stopped them making a noise. She turned just in time to see Tristan hit the roof. He bounced, wincing, but righted himself far quicker than her. Looking to her, he mouthed, “What next?”

Greta selected two well fixed tiles and slotted her fingers over the top of them. Then she let her feet relax. As she suspected, she began to slide down the slanted roof, but at a pace controlled by her arms. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw Tristan do the same.

Once she was as far down as her arms allowed, Greta un-slotted one hand and dug it into the top of another tile. Doing the same for her other hand, she was now ready to go down further. In no time at all, both of them were stood, feet resting on the wide drain connected around the bottom of the roof. Chancing another look down, Greta felt herself relax at how short the drop now was.

She spread her legs wide, bending them so one knee when either side of her. Then, steadying herself, she dropped her hands down and clasped the drain. Now it was only a matter of slipping her feet down, and she would be able to drop.

It was easier said than done, though. The drain was shaped like a U, and her feet were stuck in it. To make things more complicated, her current position was hardly stable, and with each foot movement Greta felt herself sway dangerously. But she eventually managed to get one foot out, and the second then followed with ease.

She dropped to the floor, Tristan following split seconds afterwards. His face was white but otherwise he seemed calm. There was no time for conversation, though, so any thanks he may have had was not forthcoming. Instead, he took her hand in his and pulled her away down a backstreet, leaving only an open window three stories up as evidence that they were ever there.

They ran for a long time, down countless back alleys that merged into one in Greta’s confused mind. Her hand, still clasped tightly by Tristan, began sweating and their fingers slipped and slid against each other. Yet both of them stayed hanging on to each other. It seemed, Greta mused, that they had both unconsciously accepted the fact that they would never survive apart.

Her entire body quacked with rage when she thought about Henry Lowe. She would not fall victim to him; she abjectly refused. She could do everything in her power to avoid him; to keep him from winning. And she would fight to the last, even without a working wand, if it meant a chance to see Theodore again.

“Here,” Tristan gasped, pulling her down yet another dark and narrow street. When they were about half way down he stopped abruptly. Greta had to perform a ridiculous half pirouette to stop herself careering into him.

“You could have said something!” She spluttered between gulps of air. Her legs quivered beneath her, acknowledging they were resting and taking it as an excuse to collapse. Greta let herself drop to the floor and sat, leaning back on her hands and panting. “What are we doing here, anyway?”

Tristan lowered himself down as well. “I thought you might need a rest.”

“Only me?” Greta questioned, almost laughing. She looked behind her, half expecting several Unspeakables to be running down the alleyway towards them. But there was no-one there. “Do you think we’ve lost them?”

Tristan shook his head. “They will keep following us, although it will be harder for them if we refrain from using magic to travel.” He arched an eyebrow. “I don’t think that should be a problem for you.”

“No,” Greta said glumly, patting her trouser pocket with one hand.

“I must say, that will put us at a distinct disadvantage if we are caught.”

Greta glared at him. “It wasn’t exactly my fault. I had other things to worry about than wand protection.”

“Of course,” Tristan said, nostrils flaring. He got up again, brushing his trousers down and looking up and down the alleyway. Then his attention rested back on Greta. “We must get moving again.” He extended his hand again.

Greta took it without hesitation. As he curled his fingers around her, she allowed herself a small smile. She was staying with him for survival, but also because she wanted to. That thought surprised her.

She wanted to.



Chapter 9: Chapter Nine
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Chapter Nine



They walked all day, leaving behind the shining gaslights of the city to blink into the gathering dusk. The mountains, Scotland’s most beautiful and breathtaking landscape, rose up before them, and they both walked in awed silence. Greta had never seen anything more awe-inspiring and looked up with an open mouth, hardly daring to believe what was in front of her.

Man made magic was nothing compared to this natural power.

Motor cars, horses, carts and people passed them both with barely a look in their direction. Greta reflected that they both probably looked suspicious, the way they kept their eyes downturned to avoid any undue recognition.

As dusk gave way to full night, Greta felt her already aching legs move into the stage of exhaustion.

“I need rest,” she said quietly.

Tristan looked down at her almost surprised to see her. Then he gestured to some boulders lying on the edge of the road. Greta gratefully sat down upon the most comfortable looking one, her legs tingling as the weight was taken off them.

“We must be close,” she commented. Tristan sat down too, pulling his wand out and making the end glow.

His face illuminated in eerie green, he nodded. “We are almost there. There is a track, about five minutes walk away, and then a gate.”

“What is this place, anyway? A country house?” Greta said. She felt the familiar shooting feeling in her stomach as her body prepared itself for danger.

“Not exactly,” Tristan replied vaguely.

Greta tilted her head back. “I need to know exactly what I’m getting myself into.”

There was a long pause. Tristan’s face remained impassive, eyes fixed on the light perched on the end of his wand. Then he cocked his head to one side and said in an even voice, “It’s a hospital, of sorts.”

“What do you mean ‘of sorts’?”

“A psychiatric institute. For wizards who fought in the muggle war and who magic could not help afterwards.”

“Oh,” Greta said in a small voice. She looked away distractedly, her throat feeling suddenly restricted. She had been expecting many things, each as distasteful as the other. But this had never crossed her mind. She glanced at Tristan. “Who does the wand belong to?”

“This isn’t anything to do with the patients,” Tristan said immediately. “I wouldn’t steal a wand from a helpless victim.” He sighed. “It in the care of the Warden of the Institute, Horatio Blattus, and he keeps it in his office at all times.”

“Blattus,” Greta repeated. She pulled a face. “Sounds…”

“Unappetising?” Tristan said, with a small smile. “Blattus isn’t a real threat. I just need a distraction so I can get into his office and take the wand.”

“Let me guess who will be the distraction.”

“You are good at drawing attention to yourself.”

Greta pursed her lips and gestured down at her clothes. “I’m not feeling in a seductive mood, to be honest.”

To her surprise, he shook his head. “No, of course not.” He leant forward, peaking his fingers together. “I need all the staff distracted, not only Blattus.”

“All of them?” Greta chewed her lip. “How am I supposed to do that?”

Tristan just smiled. “I’m sure you will think of something suitable.”

~


Greta followed Tristan along the track and through the gate, her mind racing but no coherent ideas forming. Then the hospital melted out of the darkness in front of her, standing out imposingly against the star dotted sky. The soft glow of lamplight from each of the windows bathed Greta in pale light. She felt Tristan tug her on the elbow, and turned to see him jogging off the path and into the surrounding land. He was heading for some trees.

Following him, Greta kept her attention on the house. As she reached the trees, confident now she could not be seen, she saw the front door open and woman dressed in a starched white nurse’s uniform hurry away around the edge of the building. She was carrying a bundle of sheets. Greta watched her go, feeling Tristan’s eyes pierce into her. Turning to him she shook her head savagely.

“I am not doing that.”

“But she is alone…”

“No!” Turning her attention back to the front door, Greta sucked on her bottom lip, lost in thought. Then, filled with inspiration, she began to tug the knitted jumper over her head. “Give me your jacket,” she said hurriedly, voice muffled through the wool.

Tristan hesitated, and then took his jacket off, handing it to her. Greta pulled it on, tugging her blouse until it settled properly underneath. Running fingers through her hair, she tried to get as many of the tangles out as possible, before tucking it behind her ears in an effort to look presentable. She turned to Tristan.

“Do I look alright?”

He nodded, and before he could comment any more, Greta twisted around and looked back at the house.

“Give me ten minutes, and then get yourself in there,” she said to Tristan, before marching towards the front entrance.

She reached the door a long time before she wanted to. But before she could stop herself she pulled the chain, hearing the clang of the bell echo through the house. Stepping back a little Greta set her face in a strong expression, chin jutting out, and though of Theodore and Ellen.

The door opened almost instantly; a young woman appearing behind it. Her fluffy blonde hair was tucked under a neat cap and she was wearing the same starched white uniform as the other nurse.

“Can I help you?” She said, eyeing Greta with mistrust.

Greta smiled broadly. “Yes, please. Sorry for the lateness, but I am from the Ministry. I am here to speak to Horatio Blattus.”

“The Ministry?” The nurse’s eyes widened and she nodded, opening the door wider to admit Greta. As soon as she was in, the door snapped shut and the nurse turned on her heel and started off down a corridor.

Greta hurried after her down the twisting passages, only occasionally glancing up at the plain, whitewashed walls interspersed with wooden doors. Sometimes a door was open slightly, and Greta saw rows of occupied beds illuminated by individual bedside lamps.

“All casualties of the Great War,” the nurse commented, noticing where Greta’s attention lay. “Unlikely to ever recover. It is a tragedy.”

“Yes,” Greta whispered. She thought of Gellert Grindelwald, and what Tristan had told her about him. A wizarding scientist. Perhaps helping Grindelwald would eventually result in a cure for these patients.

“Here we are,” the nurse said, breaking through Greta’s thoughts. She looked up, finding herself in front of another wooden door. But this one had a bronze plaque set into it, reading Horatio Blattus, Warden.

“Thank you.” Greta stepped forward, raising her hand and tapping three times on the door. A voice from inside grunted. Confused, Greta turned to the nurse, who nodded.

“That means ‘enter’.”

Swallowing, Greta took hold of the handle and plunged it down. The door creaked a lot when it opened. When she first stepped into the room, she was certain she had just gone back outside, into the crushing darkness. Then her eyes adjusted to the dim light and she saw a table directly in front of her. And behind the table sat a stooped little man with a rounded body overflowing out of the sides of his chair.

Horatio Blattus gave Greta a narrow eyed look, pushing his glasses up onto his forehead to take another look. When he spoke it was with a rich voice to match the rich diet he was obviously indulging in.

“Who are you?”

“I am from the Ministry,” Greta said mechanically.

Blattus’ eyes widened slightly to blood shot o’s. “The Ministry?”

“Yes, sir. I am here to conduct a spot inspection of your facility. We must ensure that you are providing the best possible care for these unfortunate casualties of war.” She took a deep breath, hoping she sounded professional enough.

Blattus leant back in his chair, laying sausage like fingers on top of his stomach. For a long time he seemed to be considering what she had said, his large head rocking from side to side. And then he nodded and rocked back forward onto his feet. “Of course. We must follow protocol, Miss…?”

“Smith,” Greta replied instantly, only just stopping herself from wincing at the poor improvisation. Blattus’ eyebrows went up upon hearing her name but he seemed convinced. He gestured to the door.

“Where would you like to start, Miss Smith?”

“If you don’t mind,” Greta replied, opening the door for him, “Could we begin in your largest ward? And if all your nurses could gather there, I would be most grateful. I should like to speak with all of them, give them the Ministry’s thanks for their hard work.”

“That will be arranged immediately,” Blattus replied. The blonde nurse was still waiting outside the office, and he gave her a swift nod which sent her skidding off down the corridors ahead of them.

“So tell me,” he asked, heading the same way, “How long have you worked at the Ministry, Miss Smith?”

“Five years,” Greta said, falling into step behind him. She was surprised by how fast he walked, and with relatively little effort.

Blattus nodded, turning a corner. Ahead, Greta saw a steady stream of nurses walking through a set of perpetually swinging double doors. Every one craned her neck around to catch a look at approaching pair. Greta wondered why they were so curious; surely Ministry visitations were not so infrequent?

She felt an involuntary prickle of fear spread from the base of her neck down her spine. Then Blattus’ hand rested on her shoulder and guided her through the doors. Greta pushed her anxieties to one side, concentrating on preserving the illusion.

The ward was certainly large; larger than she expected. There were about thirty beds lining each side of the room, each identical with brass posts and bright white blankets. The patients, all men, were sat upright, having obviously been awakened and warned of the visit. They viewed her with a mixture of fear and curiosity. At the far side of the room, Greta saw several beds with curtains pulled around them. The whole place was lit dimly by the gas lamps on each bedside table, every one on exactly the same setting.

As Greta walked forward, she noticed that the nurses were all lining up, one on either side of each bed. They stood straight upright, not a hair out of place, with their wands clasped loosely in their left hands. She became acutely aware of how much noise her shoes were making, clacking against the severely polished floor. Everything was so cold; so clinical. Straight face and stiff upper lip.

Then she noticed Blattus and realised she was supposed to be talking.

“I’m…thank you for coming away from your duties,” she began uncertainly, all too aware of the Warden’s beady eyed stare. He had positioned himself in front of the double doors, something Greta did not fail to notice. Twisting her hands together, she found herself wondering why it all felt so much like a prison not a hospital, and, more to the point, she was the prisoner.

Coughing, Greta headed for a random patient. He fixed her with a glare as she approached, but she forced herself forward.

“What is your name, sir?”

“Fabian Newbury,” he answered resentfully.

“And…and do you like it here?” Greta continued, wishing she could just melt into the floor. She wondered where Tristan was. It had definitely been more than ten minutes; hopefully he’d already gotten the wand and she’d be able to make her excuses soon.

She realised she was not listening, or even looking, at the patient, and turned her attention back to him. But at that precise moment, the double doors banged open and all eyes turned to see the new arrival.

It was the nurse with the blonde hair. Greta felt her insides curl up; she had not even checked whether everyone was here. She watched as the nurse sidled towards Blattus and muttered something in his ear. The corner of his mouth twitched upwards, but then his face was impassive again.

“Excuse me, Miss Smith, I am wondering how long you are going to keep us here? There are a lot of things to do in a hospital,” he said silkily, his voice far stronger and confident than Greta’s.

Greta hesitated, and then nodded, plastering a smile on her face. “Of course, sir, but please a few more minutes would be preferable.”

“Very well,” he said. At that moment, the double doors banged open again. Greta turned her attention to the new entrants, cursing her own stupidity.

Her heart caught in her throat.

It was Tristan. He was being held by what seemed to be two of the patients. But they were holding wands against his throat and, under long white nightgowns were wearing trousers, and even shoes. Head spinning, Greta stared wildly about her, hardly daring to believe her eyes as all the men threw their covers to one side and stepped, fully clothed, out of the beds. Every single one was holding a wand, and each wand was now trained on her.

She turned her attention back to Blattus, whose eyebrows were arched in mock surprise. Staring directly at her, he spread his hands wide and shrugged nonchalantly.

“You see, we really do need to get back to our duties. All of us.” Greta felt strong hands grip her arms as he continued, “And the next time you try to steal something from a Department of Mysteries facility, Greta Maur, you really should to your homework beforehand.” He nodded to the nurse with blonde hair.

“Take them both to the holding cell. I’ll be in my office, contacting the Minister.” He gave Greta a wicked smile as she was dragged past him. “He will be glad to see you.”

Chapter 10: Chapter Ten
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A.N. If anyone was following this story, I am so sorry its taken so long for me to update. I had a bit of writers block with it. But just yesterday, I signed in after getting back from a holiday and found some amazing reviews from lilyjames which inspired me to continue with the story. So thank you, lilyjames and I dedicate this chapter to you!


Chapter Ten



They were dragged into a small, bare room with no windows and a lock on the outside. Greta lashed out angrily when her pockets were searched by an impassive looking man in pyjamas, who withdrew her snapped wand with a look of incredulity on his face. If she hadn’t been seething with fury, she would have seen how amusing the scenario was. Tristan, inevitably, did seem to find the funny side. Greta did not fail to notice the amused smile plastered over his face as she was searched.

As soon as the door banged shut, she rounded on him, apoplectic.

“You are an idiot. You are a fucking idiot.”

He gave her a long stare. “I don’t see why that language is necessary.”

“Don’t you?” She shouted, hardly breathing she was so angry. “Why didn’t you know this isn’t a bloody hospital? It’s the sort of thing you find out, wouldn’t you say?”

“It is a bit of a snag, I must agree,” he replied mildly, surveying her with narrowed eyes. Greta snarled, amazed he could be so infuriatingly calm.

A bit of a snag?! It’s a disaster, a complete and utter disaster!” When he did not reply, she turned away from him savagely and went back to the door.

A quick look told her there was no way of prising the door open, and even if there had been it was likely to be magically as well as conventionally locked. After a moment of hitting the smooth white painted wood she suddenly felt her zeal drain out of her and she slipped to her knees, still facing the door. Tears appeared on her cheeks, though she couldn’t remember crying them. And then she felt a hand on her shoulder.

She flinched and said coldly, “Get off me.”

The hand remained, accompanied now by Tristan’s voice. It was softer than usual, and if Greta closed her eyes, she could imagine a different man behind that voice.

“Neither of us should be alone, not now.”

For a moment she trembled, caught on the brink of believing the words. And then she stood, replacing the physical barrier between them. Looking up at Tristan, she thought she saw a hurt look in his eyes, but then the unemotional veneer settled again.

“Don’t touch me again,” she said quietly, her anger long surpassing mere shouting. To his credit, Tristan took a step back. Greta toyed with what would happen if she punched him, but dismissed the idea almost instantly. He was not much taller than her, but had already proven himself to be stronger. Instead, she crossed to the wall furthest from him and sat down heavily.

So this was how it was going to end. Months planning the death of Henry Lowe, only to be thwarted at the last second, and now that she had started to let herself believe it could be accomplished again, everything had gone to pot. She would be killed, probably tortured first, by the only man she hated more than anything else in the world.

She eyed Tristan. Well, maybe not the only man.

He had taken a seat against the wall directly opposite hers, but he was not looking in her direction. He stared down at his hands, turning them over and over as though trying to memorise every inch of them. His face, as always, was impassive, but as Greta watched his ever moving hands, she detected a slight tremor reverberating through, from the wrists down to the tips of his fingers.

Well, well, well, she thought. He’s scared. But the realisation did not bring her any satisfaction. She was just as scared as he, and what’s more, she understood the torment he was enduring. Just as she had Theo, he had Ellen. Both their deaths would leave another completely alone in the world. And whilst she knew Theo was already at the mercy of Henry Lowe, Tristan had managed to protect Ellen for the duration of her short life. His death would leave her completely unprotected.

Greta fought down the wave of sympathy and looked away. He had brought this on himself, she reminded herself bitterly. His stupidity had led to them both being incarcerated, and now he was going to be punished just as harshly as she.

Or was he?

Her eyes snapped back to him and she considered the situation again, mouth widening to a small ‘O’ as she thought back over the past few days.

“You’re going to get away with it, aren’t you?” She exclaimed.

Tristan looked up, the ghost of a frown dusting his forehead. “I don’t know what you…”

“You’re his aide…his aide! You’ll put all the blame on me!” Greta struggled to her feet, palms flat against the wall behind her. She felt as though she was trapped in a room with a dangerous animal, not the man who was now getting to his feet in front of her.

“Greta, I…”

Spinning around, hands flying up to her forehead, Greta laughed hollowly. “Oh, you’re good, Tristan Gaillard, you’re good. And I was a fool to follow you, a stupid, blind fool who couldn’t say no, even when every inch of me was screaming…”

Her words were cut short by a sound outside the door. The sound of footsteps. Tristan took a few steps towards Greta but she clenched her fists, which made him hesitate to advance any further. Instead, both of them turned to look at the door. Greta’s heart was pounding against her locket, but she refused to cry. She wouldn’t let Henry Lowe see her cry, not ever. Nevertheless, her whole body trembled. She was as afraid of death as any person, and to die knowing that Theo was still alive, probably waiting every day for a rescue, broke her heart.

There was a clanking sound as various locks were undone on the other side of the door, and then a strange sound not unlike the beating of wings. Even through the rush of relentless thoughts plunging through her, Greta recognised the noise as the removal of a spell. And then, which a great, reverberating creak, the door swung open.

Henry Lowe swept into the room, beady eyes resting on Greta and a triumphant smile stretching across his arrogant face.

But then Greta blinked, and the image dissipated. The Minister was not there at all, another person had opened the door. She stared at the man, feeling a strange sense of déjà vu. Then she remembered. It was the patient she had attempted to interview in the ward. Newson…Newby…she bit her lip, trying to remember.

And then the name hit her. Fabian Newbury.

He was no longer dressed in the pyjamas of a patient, and instead wore simple black robes. His dirty blond hair came down to his shoulders, although it was reclining from his forehead and gave the impression that his head was much larger than it was.

Ignoring Greta, Fabian went straight to Tristan and said in a voice full of urgency, “You are Tristan Gaillard?”

“Yes,” Tristan said. If he was confused, he did not let it show.

Fabian nodded. “The Minister is here already. If you wish to escape, you must leave quickly.”

Greta’s lips parted as the words filtered through her brain. “Escape?”

Fabian glanced in Greta’s direction. “Yes, escape. You must go now.”

“But…”

Tristan grabbed Greta’s arm before she had the chance to formulate a proper sentence. “Come on.”

Wrenching her arm from his grasp, Greta followed him nonetheless. If Fabian truly wanted to help them escape, then she wasn’t foolish enough to let her distrust of Tristan get in the way. If he was just another enemy, then she would die in the corridors of the hospital instead of in a cell.

She followed Fabian up the dark steps and out into a whitewashed corridor. To her left was the route to the ward, but Fabian took a right turn and led the way at a slow jogging pace, his wand held tightly in front of him. At every corner, he stopped and plastered himself to the wall, sliding across until he could peek out and confirm the all clear. Every time Greta felt her heart in her mouth, choking back air until the welcome thumbs up.

At some point, her fingers found themselves intertwined with Tristan’s, but she did not pull them back again.

It felt as though they had been running around the hospital for hours, but it must have been only a few minutes. Greta’s head was pounding and she had long since lost her sense of direction. All three of them were breathing heavily, but the looming threat of death spurs on even the most exhausted individual.

As another corner came into view, Greta felt herself tense once again. Their feet thudded heavily on the floor, and she wondered why no-one had heard them yet. As Fabian flattened himself against the wall she studied him, fearing that he was leading them on a merry dance into Henry Lowe’s clutches. Why would he help them, anyway? She hadn’t even bothered to find out.

As usual, Fabian took tiny steps forward until he could glance around the corner. But instead of giving the thumbs up, he crashed back into the wall, the colour draining from his face.

“What? What is it?” Tristan said quickly.

Fabian shook his head and spat, “The Minister.”

Greta went cold. Tristan stood in stunned silence for barely a second before saying, “Then we go another way.”

“There is no other way,” Fabian replied, beads of sweat appearing on his over-large forehead. Suddenly he grabbed Tristan by the shoulders and shook him. “You serve Gellert Grindelwald?”

“Yes,” Tristan replied evenly, studying Fabian’s face.

The older man nodded heavily. He raised his wand, face set. “Stay close to me.”

Before either Tristan or Greta had the chance to object, Fabian hurled himself around the corner with a bestial cry. Greta screamed as the single voice was joined by countless others. Bursts of light flew at Fabian, all missing him and blowing gaping holes in the wall behind him. Tristan, face set, ran out to join him. Greta swallowed, not ashamed of the fear rising on her breath. She was defenceless and running into a full battle. But she had no choice. Forcing her limbs into action, she rounded the corner.

Across the corridor stood about fifteen men and women, most still wearing the disguises of patients and nurses, all with their wands trained decisively on Fabian. He was shielding himself effectively, the shield extending for about half a metre to either side of him to accommodate Greta and Tristan. His eyes were slits and he was breathing heavily through his nose, all concentration trained on the shield. He slowly moved forward, one staggering footstep after another.

Red, blue, purple and green light flashed around the three of them, huddled against the storm of spells. Every time something hit his shield, Greta felt Fabian gasp as though stabbed. She put her hand on his shoulder and rubbed down his arm, hoping against hope that this one gesture was enough to keep him moving on.

“Greta Maur!”

Greta started, instantly recognising that voice. Face twisting, she snapped her head around and searched out the owner of the voice. Her eyes came into contact with his and she stared him down.

Henry Lowe’s eyes were wild and his face was a picture of utter hatred. He bared his teeth, sending wave after wave of magic pulsing through the air towards her. Greta narrowed her eyes, screaming indistinguishable words over all the other voices, transferring her hatred into her voice as she kept her eyes trained on the Minister. She could see his face go white as he felt the full impact of her emotion, but he did not falter.

There was an almighty crash as a section of wall, weakened by constant bombardment, collapsed. Instantly the entire corridor was full of billowing dust and smoke. The flashes of magic magnified, reflected off the tiny particles spinning through the air. Greta lost Henry and, at the same moment, felt Fabian draw a shuddering breath.

“Can’t…hold…” he spluttered, his wand hand starting to shake.

“We’re almost there,” Greta said, trying to keep her voice as calm as possible. In actual fact, they were only halfway down the corridor. She felt the hope she had previously built up begin to waver, but tossed any morbid thought from her mind. She had to keep him going, but she didn’t know how.

She felt the corner of her jacket being tugged, and turned to look at Tristan. He would have cut a comical figure if they had not been in mortal danger. White dust had settled on his dark hair, which had been shaken from its immaculate coif and hung loosely over his forehead and cheeks.

“Door!” He shouted over the crashing noise. He was pointing behind Greta.

She turned and squinted through the billowing dust at the door he was indicating. A spell flashed past, illuminating the plaque set into it. Greta read it, lips moving to form every word.

Horatio Blattus, Warden.

“Why do we…?” She began, only to be cut off as Fabian dropped, shaking, to the floor. His wand clattered out of his hand.

“Move!” Tristan gasped, sprinting for the door. It opened and he disappeared inside it.

Greta ducked to the side as a well aimed spell came hurtling towards her. She could hear Henry Lowe’s mocking voice coming out of the dusty haze.

“We’ve got you now, Greta Maur!”

Shaking her head firmly, Greta dropped to her knees and picked up Fabian’s wand. Then she hooked her arms under his armpits and got her feet, dragging him towards the door.

It was a miracle she did not get hit as she hurried towards the door. Tristan was waiting for her and took Fabian’s legs. Then, when they were all finally in the room, he slammed the door shut and fell upon the unconscious man, searching through his pockets.

“What are you doing?” Greta shouted, and Tristan looked up, a look of incredulity on his face.

“His wand. We must lock the door.”

In response, Greta strode over to the door and pointed Fabian’s wand at the lock, muttering, “Alohomora.

She turned back, hands on her hips. “Tristan, he fell over. He was hardly going to stow it away in a pocket, nice and neatly, for you to find, was he?” She glanced around the room, ignoring the sounds of spells now trained on the door. “Aren’t you going to find this wand then, so we can finally get out of here?”

Tristan stood up, the look of surprise that had flashed across his face when Greta revealed the wand fading to nothing. “I’ve already found it.”

“What?”

He indicated to the wand Greta was holding. “You have it.”

Greta blinked. Sliding her eyes off his face, she turned to look at the wand in her grasp. It didn’t look different from any other wand. It had the same scuffs, same discoloured wood brought about from use. She wondered for the first time why Gellert Grindelwald wanted this wand. What made it so special?

She looked back at Tristan. He had gone over to the fireplace and was looking through all the pots balanced on the mantelpiece. He was searching for Floo powder, she knew, and she did not bother to help him. Instead, she knelt by Fabian’s prone body.

His face was slicked with sweat and the skin underneath was cold. His eyes stared up at the ceiling, glassy. Dead. Greta felt the tears she had been too frightened to cry begin to spill over and down her cheeks. Some of them dropped on Fabian’s face, rolling down his cheek as though he was crying as well.

“Are you coming?”

Greta looked up at Tristan and nodded dully. There was nothing else she could do for Fabian, and every second spent in the study increased their chances of being recaptured. Already the door was groaning on its hinges, and soon it would lose its fight against the relentless barrage of spells.

She took her place next to Tristan in the dancing green flames, but pushed him away when he attempted to put his arm around her waist. Instead Tristan contented himself with pressing his arm against hers. And then, in a loud and clear voice, he spoke their destination.

“Castle Nurmengard!”

Chapter 11: Chapter Eleven
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Chapter Eleven



The suffocating sting of fire and ash caught in Greta’s mouth and she spluttered uncomfortably as Horatio Blattus’ office swam out of view. Dimly, as though viewing the room through a telescope, she saw the door burst off its hinges and Henry Lowe stagger into the room. But then the scene dissolved into nothing and she clung to Tristan’s arm as both of them flew through the pitch black void.

She felt a welcome cold breeze on her face and blinked ash from her eyes as her feet dropped heavily onto a different grate. Tristan immediately stepped out of the fireplace but Greta hesitated, holding herself back until she had taken in the room in front of her.

The walls were bare uneven stone which jutted out at strange angles and blurred Greta’s perspective of how large the room was. Gilt brackets held burning torches at regular intervals around the room, illuminating a deep purple carpet strewn across the floor. Through the one, small window the sky was black and heavy with clouds, and Greta heard a rumble of thunder tear through the silence as she stepped down off the fireplace.

“How very gothic,” she said dismissively, drawing in her jacket as a cold blast of wind whipped through the room.

To her great surprise, Tristan laughed. He looked happier than Greta had ever seen him. The sight worried her, even more so when he held out his hand and said in a light tone, “We must be going.”

“Just a moment,” Greta replied, not taking his hand. She felt the wand resting heavily in her pocket. “Who was Fabian? Did you know him?”

A more familiar, irritated expression settled on Tristan’s face. “Greta, we don’t have time for this.”

“Well, I think we do,” Greta said obstinately. As if to illustrate her point, she withdrew the wand and crossed her arms, so the tip of it tapped her left shoulder. “He seemed to know about you.”

“I’m afraid I do not know who he was. He was merely in the right place at the right time.”

“He died!” Greta exclaimed.

“That was unfortunate.” Tristan sighed, and all at once he looked like an old man, hunched over by the demands of a lifetime. For the first time, Greta felt no urge to threaten him further.

Her patience was rewarded when Tristan finally, though reluctantly, opened his mouth. “There are many supporters of Grindelwald, scattered across many countries. It is possible that Fabian was one of them, secretly approving of his work but not able to contact him. In Fabian’s case, his particular line of work was likely to put him under extreme scrutiny. Contact with Grindelwald would have been almost impossible.”

Greta pursed her lips. So Fabian had helped them without truly knowing whether he was helping Grindelwald’s supporters or imposters. She remembered how he had shaken Tristan with such urgency before asking him the all important question. You serve Gellert Grindelwald?

She shook her head. “But why did he have the wand? How could he have known?”

She was not expecting Tristan’s reaction. He smiled. “I can explain that. Before I was caught, I made the discovery that Blattus was not keeping the wand in his office. It must have been distributed amongst the men and women guarding the facility, in order to keep it more effectively hidden. And today must have been Fabian’s turn to have it.”

Greta’s eyes widened. “So it was luck?”

“Indeed. Now, we must go.”

As she followed Tristan out of the gloomy room, Greta was torn between laughter and tears. She couldn’t believe that they had been led to the very thing they wanted by pure luck. It was almost too good to be true. But on the other hand, Fabian would never know that he had played an enormous part in aiding the work of the man he secretly admired.

They headed down several darkened passageways, bare stone still visible on the walls and ceiling. Flashes of lightening illuminated the intricate patterns on the carpets laid out under their feet. Greta felt the thin piece of wood clasped in her hand and found herself hoping this was all worth it. She was suddenly struck by the realisation that, in a few short hours, she could be face to face with her brother. The thought brought a lump to her throat but she swallowed it down, refusing to let herself get too hopeful.

She thought of Gellert Grindelwald, trying to picture him in her head. Tristan had said he was a wizarding scientist, whatever that meant. She had certainly never heard the term before; magic and science simply did not mix. Science was a pursuit best left to the ignorant muggle population. Whatever Grindelwald did, though, it was certainly worthwhile, she thought, with a glance at Tristan. She knew he was not the type to blindly follow a person without any reason to.

What had Tristan said, back in the Hag’s Eye? Greta struggled to remember, marvelling that it had been only a day since they had been in the dingy pub. Then it came to her; Grindelwald made him an offer he could not refuse. She’d let the comment slide then, being too tired to question it. But now she started to wonder what the offer had been. In a sickening moment, she wondered whether the offer had involved her, but she instantly dismissed the thought. Her hot-headed accusations had amounted to nothing in the hospital.

Perhaps, she mused as Tristan stopped by an ornately carved wooden door, she should finally resolve to trust him. He had, after all, done his utmost to protect her since the masquerade.

“Let me do the talking,” Tristan said, his hand resting on the door. His face was blank, but by a slight twitch of his eyebrow Greta could tell he was nervous. She put the wand back in her pocket.

“Any reason why?”

The very edges of his lips curled upwards. Pushing the door handle down, he shrugged. “I like to talk.”

The door swung open, and any comeback was blown from Greta’s lips as she surveyed the room.

The bare stone walls had been covered and painted bright white, to reflect the thousands of candles held in two enormous, golden chandeliers hanging from the ceiling. The floor was covered by a plush red and gold carpet stretching from corner to corner. At the far end, facing the door, an ornate marble fireplace jutted out of the wall, filling the room with yet more light.

But it was what was in the room that astounded Greta. Two sturdy wooden tables dominated the space and on them, taking up every iota of space, were glass pots, beakers and test tubes, held in various wooden and metal holders. Each one was full of different coloured liquids. Some were bubbling, some hissing and some pulsating as though alive. The air was full of all sorts of smells. As Greta followed Tristan further in to the room, she smelt sweet perfumes, hot sulphurous odours and fresh natural scents.

She knew Grindelwald was in the room somewhere, but it took her a few moments to locate him. Then she spotted an unassuming looking man bending over the table on her left. His face was covered by a thick leather mask so only his bright blue eyes could be seen through thick glass lenses. He was studying a beaker filled with a luminous green liquid and tapping his chin through the mask with his wand.

Tristan cleared his throat. Immediately Grindelwald straightened up and turned towards the two of them, his wand raised. Almost as instantly, though, he dropped his wand down on the table and opened his arms to take Tristan into a tight embrace, exclaiming, “Tristan…Tristan Gaillard! It is you!” Tearing the mask off, he revealed a handsome, smiling face and a wavy crop of blond hair which was plastered to his face with sweat. Clasping his hands on Tristan’s shoulders he continued, “You have it?”

Tristan nodded, and Grindelwald whooped with laughter, spinning on the spot and almost crashing into the table. “Well done, well done! You are certainly the best, Tristan! Come on, then, let me see it.”

“Of course, sir,” Tristan said, turning to gesture at Greta. “My…accomplice has it for you.”

“Accomplice?” Confusion flashed across Grindelwald’s face as he surveyed Greta for the first time. She felt a blush rise on her cheeks as he gave her a penetrating stare. But then his face relaxed once more into an easy smile. “Welcome, of course, my lady!” Sweeping her hand into his, he bent down and breathed a kiss that sent shivers down Greta’s spine.

She bowed her head awkwardly. “Thank you.”

“You are more than welcome,” Grindelwald said, keeping hold of her hand. Greta was frightened by the intensity of his stare. She felt Tristan stiffen next to her and felt another blush creeping across her face. Grindelwald might as well have been kissing her, she was sure it would have provoked the same reaction.

Finally Grindelwald dropped her hand and the tension instantly dissipated. Having not noticed the atmosphere, Grindelwald clapped his hands together. “Well, this certainly changes matters. I say food now and business later. Don’t you agree, Miss…?”

“Maur,” Greta replied quickly, “Greta Maur.”

If he recognised the name he did not let it show. Offering Greta his arm, he headed for the door. “I think more civilised surroundings are needed. Please allow me to guide you, Miss Maur.”

Greta walked once more through the darkened corridors, her fingers curled around Grindelwald’s arm and Tristan’s eyes burning into the back of her head. Going through another set of doors, she came into another richly decorated room. A long table stood in the centre, already adorned with large plates over spilling with food. Grindelwald directed Greta into a chair at the side of the table, and she gratefully sat down. Tristan sat at the end of the table to her left, and Grindelwald to the right.

“Eat, please. I hate to see my guests go hungry,” Grindelwald said lightly, taking up a plate of chicken for himself.

Surveying the food, Greta suddenly didn’t feel at all hungry. She knew she had to eat something, having not eaten properly for a long time, but her appetite evaded her. Thinking of Theo, she knew the reason.

She stood up, her chair scraping noisily across the floor. Grindelwald looked up quizzically, his mouth full of meat. Tristan paused, fork hovering in the air. Greta cleared her throat.

“I’m so sorry, but I need to speak to Tristan. Alone.” She gave Tristan a pointed stare, bowed her head apologetically in Grindelwald’s direction, and left the room.

She waited, leaning against the wall and staring at her folded arms and fisted hands. Outside another clap of thunder crashed through the roar of the rain. She felt tears begin to dot her eyes. Next to her, the door creaked open. Tristan strode out, first looking the wrong way. He turned back. She opened her mouth to speak, but no words came.

Stepping forward, Tristan stood directly in front of her. As he looked at her, she felt a strange feeling bubbling up from the pit of her stomach. Then he spoke, in a soft voice.

“I have not yet thanked you.”

“What for?” Greta stammered, looking up at his face. She could see every line around his eyes, every hair dotting his eyelids, every shade of red on his lips.

“For making me realise…something.”

“Why do you always wrap everything up in riddles?”

He smiled, putting one hand on the wall next to her head. “You know, I have never understood it myself.”

Greta laughed, caught in the depths of his black eyes, unable to look away and not wanting to in the slightest. He seemed to be falling forward, coming nearer and nearer to her. She wondered when he was going to stop.

Surely he would stop soon…surely


Chapter 12: Chapter Twelve
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Chapter Twelve



Greta sat back on the bed, resting her head against the wall. The room was comfortable enough, though getting there had been quite a struggle. She almost laughed at the memory of following Grindelwald up the spiral staircase, groaning as each step brought fresh pain shooting through her thighs. After all the exercise of the past few days, it was strange that she had almost been defeated by a set of stairs.

The room was situated at the top of a tower, and Greta had to fight back a strange feeling of being unable to escape before thanking her host for his kindness. Her head had still been spinning, and she wasn’t sure if her words had been discernable, but Grindelwald had seemed satisfied. He left her without a single mention of the wand, though she did not fail to notice the metallic click as her door was locked.

Her room was entirely circular and, though it had no carpet or wallpaper, felt quite snug. There was not any room for a fire, but candlesticks floated lazily over Greta’s head as she walked towards the bed, spreading a surprising amount of warmth. She took no time at all in taking off the jacket and trousers, which were crumpled and grimy with dust from the hospital. She shook as much dust as she could from them, trying her hardest not to think of Fabian, and sat back on the bed dressed only in the shirt Tristan had got for her in Brùraton.

Tristan.

A jolt shot through her, and her hand unconsiously reached up to touch her lips. She could still taste him, still feel the movement of his lips against hers. Instantly, she was transported back. She remembered how he had leant towards her; how he had kissed her; how his hand had moved under her jacket, under her shirt, to trace delicate patterns across her aching skin. She remembered how she had linked her arms behind his head; how she had pressed her back against the wall and pulled him closer, so close they were almost one being.

She opened her eyes. Her chest was heaving again, but she had long recovered from the long walk upstairs. With a little sigh, she let herself drop down onto the bed. The motion shook the locket free from under her shirt. She stared at it, and though she still felt longing to see her brother, it was now replaced by a new emotion. Ever since she had met Tristan, she had unconsciously equated finding her brother with losing him. Up until tonight, she had been able to live with that, but now she wasn’t so sure.

Pressing her fingers around the locket, Greta closed her eyes tightly and pushed it back into her shirt. It took a long time for her to go to sleep that night.

~


The morning dawned bright and clear, the last vestiges of the storm blowing themselves out in the final few hours of night. Greta awoke slowly, the dull feeling of tiredness still with her. She had slept dreamlessly and deeply, and yet still did not feel rested. With a groan, she sat up.

“Oh!”

There was mannequin waiting at the end of her bed with a beautiful shift dress draped over it. The dress was a deep purple colour, covered in sequins and came with a matching headscarf and pair of shoes. Greta blinked, actually rubbing her eyes, hardly daring to believe what she was seeing. Getting up, she walked over to the mannequin and hesitantly reached out to touch the dress. When it didn’t disappear, her face broke into a wide grin.

There was no note accompanying the dress, so she assumed it was a gift from Grindelwald. A man as rich as he could certainly afford such extravagances. Although, she mused, he could have borrowed it from friend.

Before changing, she crossed over to the door. It opened at the first attempt, and she wondered briefly whether she had simply imagined it being locked the night before. There was no-one waiting outside, and no sound of footsteps approaching. All the same, she made use of the little slider on her side and locked the door tightly. Then, after gratefully throwing off the shirt, she headed for the dress.

There was a basin across the room, opposite the bed, and Greta took the opportunity to wash as much as she could. Her hair, she imagined, would be a mess, but there was nothing she could do but take advantage of the scarf that had also been left. Then all she had to do was grab the wand from her discarded trousers, and she was ready.

It took a little while to navigate her way back to the dining room. As she rounded the umpteenth corner, though, she knew she was in the right place. That corridor was burned into her memory, and she recognised it even in daylight.

The table in the dining room was once more decked out with food, and Greta felt far hungrier. Tristan was already there, sat in the same seat as before with his back to the door. His head was bent over his plate, and his shoulders sagged.

Grindelwald was stood at the other end of the table, leaning over to spear a few sausages with his fork. He beamed as soon as he spotted her.

“I knew that dress would suit you! You look beautiful.”

Tristan’s head snapped up, and Greta saw his eyes widen as he saw her. But then he looked away, his lips firmly pursed together and his concentration back on the food. Greta felt a frown spread across her forehead, but did not question him. Grindelwald had no knowledge of what had happened the previous night, and Tristan probably wanted it kept that way.

All the same, she felt irked as she sat down. Remembering what Grindelwald had said, she turned bodily towards him and smiled as widely as she could. “Thank you. It was very kind of you to give me some new things.”

“Nonsense, I’m glad to do it!” Grindelwald boomed, sitting back down. His hair was freshly washed, and now bounced like duck fluff around his face. Gesturing to the food, he said, “Now eat, please. You didn’t eat much last night. I do notice these things, you know!” His eyes strayed from her face and came to rest on Tristan, who avoided his gaze and pushed a piece of scrambled egg around his plate with a fork.

Greta watched him for a moment, hoping to get eye contact, but he seemed intent on avoiding her gaze. Giving up, she grabbed a few slices of toast and slammed them onto her plate.

What had she expected? For him to propose? She dumped some bacon on top of the toast, seething. Obviously, he thought it had all been a mistake. Obviously, he was not going to follow through with what he had started.

“Coward,” she muttered under her breath. Tristan heard and stiffened at the insult, but he still did not look at her or say anything. Greta felt a lump grow in her throat, but swallowed it down. There was no way, no way at all, that she was going to cry over him. He was a lying coward, too wrapped up in himself to understand the implications of his own actions. She definitely wouldn’t let her guard drop again.

“So, Tristan was telling me all about your escapades,” Grindelwald said, breaking the tense silence.

“Really?” Greta said quietly, cutting her toast into little squares.

“Sounds to me that you had quite a job getting this wand.”

Dropping her knife and fork, Greta shot Grindelwald another over-large smile. “Oh, it was no trouble.”

“Well, from what Tristan’s been saying, you both helped each other through it.”

Something about Grindelwald’s smile made Greta shudder. She shot a filthy look at Tristan, wondering what he had said, and then replied in an icy tone, “When would you like to see the wand?”

“All in good time.”

Tristan’s chair scraped back noisily. Greta turned to look at him, but he was staring intently at Grindelwald. Swallowing, he said in a strange voice, “May I be excused?”

There was a pause and then Grindelwald replied in a silky voice, “Of course.” Before the words had left his mouth, Tristan had left the room.

Greta stared down at her plate miserably. The toast she had cut up was now mounted with equally small pieces of bacon, but her appetite had completely left her. Nevertheless she forced herself to eat, barely chewing each piece before she swallowed it.

“Any idea what’s bothering him?” Grindelwald’s voice broke through her very conscious chewing.

Greta looked away. “Not a clue.”

“He is a strange one,” he replied evenly, leaning back in his chair.

Greta frowned. Catching sight of her expression, Grindelwald let out a barking laugh.

“You don’t know about his past, I take it?”

“Not a thing,” Greta replied cautiously. “Apart from…he worked for Henry Lowe didn’t he?”

Grindelwald breathed out through his nose, leaning forward. “Yes, you’re correct.” He picked up his knife and started twirling it through his fingers, watching it twist and turn. “Tristan was his closest confidante. Still is, as far as I know, although I suppose Lowe knows that he’s a double agent after catching you both in the hospital.”

“If he doesn’t, he’s more stupid than I thought,” Greta said, forgetting to hide the bitterness from her voice.

“Well, Lowe made Tristan do some terrible things. Though, of course, Tristan enjoyed it. He enjoyed the power, I think, more than anything.” Putting the knife down, Grindelwald fixed Greta with an intense stare. “He’s a dangerous man, Greta. He was half mad when he came to me, and I’m not sure if he’ll ever recover.”

Greta froze as she listened to Grindelwald’s words. Then her hands began to shake. She licked her lips, which had gone bone dry, and shook her head, trying to block out what he was telling her. But all the same, there was a question hanging on her tongue, a question she knew she didn’t want to ask. Clasping her hands together, she said in a ghost of a whisper, “What did he do?”

“Bribery, threats, anything to win Henry Lowe votes and support,” Grindelwald replied. Greta nodded, relief washing over her.

But Grindelwald had not finished. He shifted on his seat, piquing his fingers in a pyramid in front of his face. “There was also…something else.”

“What?” she stammered, but she already knew the answer.

“There was a man, a Ministry Official who was very vocal in his objections to Henry Lowe…”

Greta shook her head. “Tristan…Tristan killed him, didn’t he?” Her eyes glazed over with tears, but she still saw Grindelwald nod his head.

“And then he worked together with Henry Lowe to frame that poor Theodore Maur…” His eyes widened with shock, and his hand flew theatrically to his mouth. “My God…Maur…”

Greta closed her eyes, forcing her breathing back to normal. There was still something else she had to know. “Do…do you know if the Official had any family?”

“Greta, I’m so sorry…I had no idea that Theodore was your…”

“Just answer the question!”

Grindelwald sighed. “Yes. His wife had died in childbirth but as far as I know, his child survived. A girl, I believe, called…”

She already knew the answer, and spoke the name in time with Grindelwald.

Ellen.

Chapter 13: Chapter Thirteen
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A.N. It's been a while. University has taken over my life since beginning last October. I can't promise that chapter updates will become regular again, but I'll try ^_^ Huge apologies for anyone waiting on an update...I get that I've probably lost any readers I had before. And I will answer the reviews soon. But anyway, enjoy :)


Chapter Thirteen



Greta stumbled through the corridor, hardly noticing which direction she was going in. Her head throbbed and her mouth was dry. Running her hand over her forehead revealed a slick of sweat across her cold skin. Feverishly, she turned left and right down the seemingly endless corridors, throwing looks behind her at every turn.

She had seen him.

Straight after Grindelwald had told her the truth, straight after Ellen’s name had shattered her world, she had turned and seen him, standing in the doorway. His face was white but as their eyes met she saw his lips press together in a look of proud defiance. He must have sensed the anger boiling through her for he retreated and closed the door with a snap.

She turned down another corridor and felt a pang of familiarity as she encountered a thick wooden door. With a dark look around her, she seized the handle and pushed.

It was the room they had arrived in only the day previously. The fireplace lacked its previous gothic splendour without green flames licking the intricate ironwork and the room was dark despite the morning sunlight streaming through the high window. Her eyes raked the mantlepiece for a pot of Floo powder but she saw nothing.

She sat down, her back against the door, and tucked her hands under her chin, replaying everything that had happened that morning through her head.

“Greta…” Grindelwald’s voice pushed through her memory. His voice was thick with toast; he had continued to eat despite the revelations. In her mind’s eye, he leant forward over the breakfast table, hands splayed across his cheeks.

“I will kill him,” she had said, voice heavy with suppressed emotion. “I will kill him.” Her hand clenched around the wand.

He stood up then and walked around the table, stopping just behind her. Pressing on hand onto her shoulder, he reached forward and took the wand from her grasp.

“You would not find redemption in killing him, only further pain. Let me take this from you. It is too great a temptation. And it is, after all, mine.”

Greta looked up, brushing the image of the breakfast room out of her mind. She had let Grindelwald take the wand but it had not been a promise to let Tristan go. She would kill him with her bare hands if she had to, but she would kill him. There was no turning back. Her brother had to be avenged.

She pushed herself to her feet, clinging to the door handle for support, and looked around the room for a second time. Her eyes alighted upon a fire poker standing in the corner and, grim faced, she strolled across and picked it up. It was heavier than it looked and was about as thick as her thumb, ending in a sharp point.

She thought back to the masquerade ball and how close she had been to killing Henry Lowe. The same thrilling sense of anticipation filled her now and, though she could not smile, her eyes regained some of their shine. Gripping the poker tightly, she threw open the door and stepped out into the corridor.

A hand thudded onto her shoulder. She tried to spin around but the hand tightened. Another clamped over her mouth.

“Drop it.”

It was his voice. Greta screamed her frustration through his fingers and swung the poker behind her, but he ducked out of the way, still pressing his hand over her mouth. His other arm snaked down until it was wrapped around her waist.

“Drop the poker or I will be forced to incapacitate you.”

Greta felt her skin crawl under his touch. She could hardly breathe but she still struggled against his iron grip and threw all her weight into slamming the poker behind her. Once or twice she felt it impact his side but it didn’t seem to affect him.

“Alright then,” he said, his voice as smooth as if they were talking face to face. He took his hand off her mouth.

“Get your hands off me! Let go of me!

Ignoring her shouts, he grabbed the poker and wrenched it from her grip. Greta screamed as the metal ripped the skin on the palm of her hand. She felt his hand disappear from her waist and immediately spun around.

Tristan’s face was white but his dark eyes glinted with that familiar arrogance. His lips were pulled tight over his teeth and his hair seemed wilder, as though he had been running his fingers through them. He stared at Greta down the tip of his wand, casually twisting the poker around in his spare hand.

He was heavily armed, and she was empty handed. Greta swallowed down the impulse to launch herself at his throat and met his gaze straight on.

After a long silence, Tristan spoke.

“You still owe me a life debt.”

“Fuck your life debt,” Greta spat. It was a pathetic comeback but she was too angry to think properly.

“Very well,” he replied softly. “If you wish for me to kill you here, then I will. You know I will.”

She shivered at his words, knowing he spoke the truth.

“But,” he added after a brief pause, “You will then never have the opportunity to see Theodore.”

Don’t say his name.

Tristan’s eyes widened at the acidity of Greta’s voice. She saw they were bloodshot, as though he had gone many days without sleep.

He lowered his wand.

“Greta, I will be honest with you. There is not much time left to save your brother.”

Save him? You are talking about saving him? You?” Greta stared at him, open mouthed. She could have laughed at the situation if it hadn't been so horrific. "You bastard, talking about saving my brother when it was you…you who…”

“I don’t have to justify myself to you,” he cut across her. Taking a deep breath, he exhaled slowly and raised his wand again.

“Coward,” Greta muttered, staring directly at him down the wand. She saw his hand quiver at the world, and a strange expression fly across his face before his eyes hardened again.

“You wouldn’t be the first to call me that. Now, move.”

For a moment, Greta did not budge. And then she turned slowly, and began to walk. His hand clamped on her shoulder and she jumped at the touch. Turning her head to one side, she could just see the tip of his finger resting on her skin, where the crook her neck reached her shoulder.

“Does Ellen know that you murdered her father?” she asked as they walked. The hand on her shoulder contracted, fingers digging into her skin, but Tristan did not reply.

“What do you say when she asks about her parents? Does she remember them at all? Or do you make sure she never asks questions?”

“I do not hurt children.” His voice was taught; heavily controlled.

“But you’re happy to murder their fathers. Maybe even their mothers.”

There was no reply, but she was shoved roughly through a nondescript door into a blackened room. As her eyes adjusted, she saw a thin, rickety staircase jutting down through the floor. Tristan pushed her towards it.

Greta fell down the first few steps. Help was noticeably absent but in an odd way she was glad. Better to sustain a few bruises on her legs then have Tristan pulling her to her feet. Once she stood up she felt him push the poker into the small of her back. The pressure built steadily but she held her ground until she was gritting her teeth in pain. Only then did she take the second step down. Their progress continued in this slow, painful but oddly satisfying way until they reached the end of the steps.

Lumos.

From the flare of magical light, Greta saw that they were standing in a small, shabby room, at odds with the rich splendour of the rest of the house. There were no windows; the only light spilled weakly down the staircase from the room above. Without Tristan’s wand, she would have found herself in almost complete darkness.

“I expect you want to know what we are doing here.”

“Not particularly,” Greta lied, heading back to the staircase.

In a few steps, Tristan was blocking her path. The light from his wand caught on his face, accentuating the heavy bags under his eyes. “Even if I am forced to restrain you, I will tell you my side of the story.”

Ignoring him, Greta pushed past. She had taken two steps towards the staircase before thick ropes spilled from Tristan’s wand and tightly bound her arms and legs. Cursing, she fell forward but darted forward and caught her before her head hit the stairs. Picking her up effortlessly, despite her struggling, he turned and deposited her on the floor, her back resting against the dark wall.

“Must I continue to restrain you or will you keep still by yourself?”

Greta didn’t reply. Her curiosity was piqued and she hated it. Tristan was staring at her strangely. She saw the wildness in his eyes, then; a glint she had not noticed before. Grindelwald was right; he was mad.

He sighed, crouching down in front of her and brushing his hands against her knees, making her skin crawl.

“I am offering you a chance to see your brother and you are letting your pride cloud your judgement.”

“My judgement is clear!” Greta retorted, kicking her legs out from under his hands. “You clouded my mind, talking about my brother when all along…all along…” she turned her face away from his glinting, feral eyes.

“Fool!”

Tristan stood up suddenly, swinging his fist over Greta’s head, hitting the wall with a sickening smack. He cried out, as much anger as pain concealed in the inhuman noise. The light went out, plunging them into darkness. Greta cowered low to the ground, fear replacing anger, as Tristan punched the wall again and again. She could hear the bones in his fingers crush against the hard stone, could see the torture ripped across his face.

“Stop it!” she shouted desperately, struggling against the ropes. “Stop it now!”

Miraculously he did, stumbling away and turning from her. From her position, now lying on the floor, Greta could see him sat in the far corner, his face in shadow. He was holding his wand in his good hand and clutching the other hand to his chest. As she struggled to sit up she heard him mumble something. Immediately, the ropes binding her relaxed and melted away.

For a very long time she did not move.

Theodore Maur. She began to shake and drew her knees up to her chest, hugging them tightly and pressing her cheek against the floor. For how long had her brother been just a name? How long had it been since she truly believed she was going to see him again? He had been dead for such a long time, and then Tristan had burst into her life full of promises that he was alive. Tristan had saved her life – more than once; she wasn’t going to deny it – and despite his unpleasant behaviour and infuriating mysteriousness she had felt safe in his company. And now, despite every terrible thing she had heard about him, Tristan was her only hope of seeing Theo again. Could she refuse this chance? How would she live with herself if, once again, Theo slipped from her grasp?

Reluctantly, she pushed herself up and leant back against the wall.

“Tell me everything.”



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