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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.

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