The Sugar Quill
Author: rocky (Professors' Bookshelf)  Story: Journey to Reality  Chapter: Chapter Two: Escape
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Chapter 2:

Escape

 

"So everyone’s clear on this? There can’t be any mistakes, or the whole thing could be ruined." Fred looked at the serious faces around him. "All right. We’d better get dressed, the Guards will be here soon."

Fred and George had woken the other members of their barrack before dawn. This brought many grumbles from their friends at first, but when they found out why they were being woken up, their complaints turned to rapt silence. Even Draco listened carefully to the plan outlined by the twins. It was simple. Usually the best plans were simple. When the moon rose high enough so they could see it through their window, Hermione would cast a Silencing spell on the room. Remus would then perform a simple Breaking charm on the window. Their window faced east, so after climbing through the window all they had to do was head in the opposite direction to go west. With any luck, they would be well beyond the Corporation’s reach by sunrise.

Fred regretted having to tell his roommates so early about the plan. It would have been better to tell them that night, but that would leave little time for mental preparation. Telling them early was a risk though. He knew they would be jumpy all day, thinking about the getaway that night. Would the Guards suspect something? Secrets leaked out quickly in the Corporation. And there was another thing tickling the back of his brain. He hadn’t figured out how they were going to get through the fence. Digging would take too long, and they would be lucky to climb over in one piece, what with all the barbed wire lining the top of the fence. He could only pray a solution would present itself before that evening.

Fred forced these thoughts out of his head as he arrived in the mess hall for a late lunch. He took a seat next to Harry and glanced down at his near-empty dish. A piece of bread and flaccid carrot adorned the plate. Harry smiled at the look on Fred’s face. "Cheer up now, Fred. Remember, I supposedly eat like this at the Dursley’s all the time." Fred returned the grin and took a bite out of the bread, which turned out to be rather stale.

Someone pulled out the chair next to Fred’s place. Glancing up, Fred saw Oliver sitting down. Oliver placed his hat down on the table, a blue baseball cap with his number, forty-eight, on the front in green stitching. "’Lo, Fred," Oliver said, glancing up and down the table. Fred could tell he was agitated about something.

"What’s up?" he asked softly, taking a bite from his limp carrot.

Oliver leaned in closer, still glancing around. "Fred, are you sure we can’t take anyone else? I’ve been thinking, and all these people—we can’t just leave them—I mean—"

"You don’t think it hurts me to leave so many behind?" Fred interrupted. "Hell, Oliver, I’m leaving behind family. But we can’t take anyone who’s not in our barrack. How would we manage it? It’s tricky enough as it is. Look, how ‘bout taking a walk with Harry and I outside? Clear your mind up a little bit." Oliver took a nervous glance over at a Guard before nodding his consent.

‘Outside’, the small area between the Corporation building and the barbed wire fence, was in reality a bunch of mud with a workbench in the middle. Various tools were kept at the small workbench, and Characters were encourage to build things in order to "amuse" themselves. Of course, the workbench was under the constant supervision of a Guard, so no Character would be tempted to steal or build a tool that would help them escape.

Fred, Harry, and Oliver walked around the building, careful not to trod in the muddy puddles scattered across the area. Eventually they were on the west side of the building. The three men watched the sun sinking slowly into the horizon. The barbed wire fence was eerily silhouetted against the blood red sky.

"Just think," Harry whispered. "By this time tomorrow we’ll be over that fence, who knows where."

Fred was about to reply to this when a loud shout made all three jump. "Hey!" It was a Guard, running towards them. "What do you think you’re doing?" he yelled, stopping barely a foot away from them.

Fred shrugged nonchalantly. "Just watching the sun set. Last time I checked that wasn’t a crime."

The Guard scowled. "You’re number Thirty-two, aren’t you? I’ve heard about you. Always giving cheek to us Guards. Well, I’ll teach you to show a little respect. You’ll get no meals for the next twenty-four hours. Now get into your barrack! You two also, get a move on," he said, looking menacingly at Oliver and Harry before stalking off.

Oliver sighed. "You shouldn’t have done that, Fred."

Fred laughed. "And why not? I’m not going to be here in twenty-four hours anyway. Listen, you two go on to the mess hall, grab a bite to eat. I’ll see you back at the barrack."

Fred’s stomach growled as he entered the barrack room. He let out an exasperated breath as he took his fedora off his unruly red hair. Just as he was about to lie down for a few hour’s rest, George and Sirius burst in the room, looking very excited about something. Fred raised an eyebrow at them.

Sirius let out a gruff laugh. "No need to be suspicious, Fred. Look what George uh…liberated."

Fred walked over to where his friends were standing, and George opened his hands to reveal a gleam of metal. Fred drew in his breath sharply. Glancing at the doorway to make sure no Guards were listening, he said quietly, "George, where did you get it?"

George’s eyes sparkled as he turned the wire-cutters over in his hand. "They were just sitting there on the workbench. What was I to do? I figured they might come in hand tonight…"

Fred looked from George to Sirius, a broad grin on his face. "You bet they will."

*

Night had fallen deeply over the Corporation. Wind pounded against the barracks, seeping through cracks in the wood. Remus glanced up at the window. "Storm’s comin’."

The ten people sat silently in the cold barrack. After an attempt at playing cards and a short scuffle between Ron and Draco, they had all succumbed to sitting in tense silence, occasionally glancing out the window. Fred seemed the calmest out of them all. He lay on his bed, fedora over his eyes, looking for all the world as if he were having a peaceful slumber.

"I can’t take much more of zees," muttered Fleur dramatically, nervously twirling her hair in her fingers. "Zee anxiety is not good for me--"

"Oh, Fleur," cut in Hermione irritably. "We’re all in the same spot as you, and we’re all handling ‘zee anxiety’ just fine."

"Why you—" began Fleur, but she stopped abruptly as Fred sat up and stared out the window. The room seemed to stop breathing. After several seconds, he said calmly, "It’s time."

*

The mess hall looked slightly ominous after dark. The long tables cast eerie shadows across the floor, and the high windows let in very little moonlight. Amid the darkness and shadows, one could barely see the Guard sneaking off to the kitchen.

He was supposed to be on watch duty outside. But, as he figured, why bother? No one came out there at night anyway. He’d just grab a bite from the kitchen then sneak back to his post. No one would ever know he was gone.

As he was stealing quietly back out from the kitchen, a loaf of bread tucked under his arm, he spotted something on one of the tables. Curious, he drew closer. It was a single blue baseball cap, with green stitching on the front reading "48".

The Guard chortled. Not only did he get a midnight snack, but he got to yell at a Character for "being careless with his personal belongings." Silently complimenting himself on his good luck, the Guard started sauntering towards number Forty-eight’s barrack.

*

"There you are, Hermione. Sirius and Ron are on the other side to help you down." Fred let go of Hermione’s hand as she dropped to the other side. Fred congratulated himself silently. Three down, seven to go.

The plan had gone incredibly smoothly. Hermione had cast the perfect Silencing charm, and Remus had successfully broken the window. Sirius, Ron, and Hermione had gone through the window with no problems whatsoever. Fred glanced out the broken window. Rain was starting to come down, softly at first, but slowly gathering force with each raindrop.

"All right, Draco, you next," George said quietly. "Ron and Sirius—"

"I don’t think I shall need help climbing out a window," Draco replied coldly before slipping out of sight.

Oliver and Remus easily succeeded in climbing outside. Fleur managed, although not without many dramatics and much persuading by Fred and Harry. Soon only the twins and Harry were left in the tiny room.

George put his hands on his hips, breathing heavily. "Finally! I thought we’d never get Fleur through. The way she was acting, you would have thought we were trying to get her to commit suicide!"

Fred smiled, turning to Harry. "You go next. We’ll follow. After that, we’ll head around to the west side of the building. Get the others ready." Harry nodded and climbed nimbly out the window.

George looked at his twin. "Well," he said, smiling. "This is it."

Fred gave a mock bow, grinning. "After you."

George chuckled, preparing to go out the window. "Why, thank you number Thirty—"

A loud banging sounded on the door. Fred and George stopped, frozen. Suddenly, the door bashed open. A Guard stood there with a blue baseball cap in his massive hand. He looked around the near empty room, slowly taking in the broken window and the two men standing by it, one half way outside.

All at once, it clicked inside his brain. Dropping the baseball cap, the Guard turned and sprinted out of the room, bellowing at the top of his lungs. "Breakout! Room sixty-five, escape!"

Lightning broke through the driving rain, illuminating the room and the twins’ pale faces. Fred shoved George out the window. "Go!" he yelled, scrambling through after him. He landed heavily on the ground, splattering mud everywhere. He took one glance at his bewildered friends before saying urgently, "Come on, they’re on to us. Around to the west side, hurry!"

Forgetting all thoughts of cautiousness, the friends dashed around the Corporation, mud flying behind them. A siren started blaring from inside the building. Hermione stumbled, but Harry grabbed her by the arm and dragged her upright.

Sirius caught up with Fred, panting. "Fred! They’re following us!"

Fred glanced over his shoulder and felt his stomach melt. Guards were storming out of the grey building, pounding hard after them. Thunder and lightning split the night sky. Tearing his eyes from the fearsome sight, Fred dug the wire-cutters out of his coat pocket and tossed them to Ron, still running hard.

"Ron, you’re the fastest, run up ahead and cut a hole through that fence!" Ron caught the wire-cutters and, barely able to breathe, started sprinting towards the fence.

Abruptly, a gunshot exploded through the night. Fred heard someone behind him cry out. Turning, he saw Oliver fall, a dark red spot growing on his side. Fred doubled back, yelling to George, "Get them through the fence!"

Fred ducked down and grabbed his wounded friend. "Come on, Oliver, can’t leave you behind," he grunted, pulling his friend upright. Oliver gave a gasp of pain but did his best to run alongside Fred.

By the time the two of them reached the fence, Ron had managed to cut a small hole in it and George was sending people through. "Quick," said George, wiping water out of his eyes. "Get Oliver through." With Hermione pulling on the other side, Oliver managed to slide through the gap in the fence, leaving a trail of blood behind him. Fred glanced over his shoulder. The Guards were quickly gaining on them. He spun back around and forcefully shoved Draco through the hole. Only three left. Another gunshot was fired, barely missing Harry’s shoulder, who scurried through the fence, calling over his shoulder, "Fred, hurry up!"

Fred didn’t need to be told twice. Ignoring the mud mixed with Oliver’s blood, he dropped down on his stomach, trying to wiggle through the hole. It had looked much bigger just two seconds ago. Sirius and Harry grabbed his hands on the other side and pulled, sending Fred shooting out. He tumbled into George, but quickly stood up, grabbing Oliver by the arm. "Come on, let’s go!"

Disregarding the storm up above, the friends ran towards the woods beyond.

*

It was about an hour before dawn when they finally stopped. The woods had grown in thicker around them, masking their trail. Fred would have liked to go on further, but he was near exhaustion. He could tell his friends were, too.

They stopped in a small open space by a stream. Fred intended to stop for only ten minutes, but before ten minutes had gone by, they had all fallen into an exhausted sleep.

Fred woke several hours later by the sound of hoarse coughing. Sitting up, he saw Oliver lying a few feet from him. His side had stopped bleeding, but Fred still thought he looked extremely pale. Careful not to wake the others, he crawled over to Oliver’s side.

"Hey," he said softly. "How’re you feeling?"

Oliver gave a weak smile. He started to say something, but a coughing fit came over him. When he finally stopped hacking, there were flecks of blood on his cheek.

"Not bad," he whispered. "But I don’t think I’ll be able to make the rest of the journey. Fred, I--"

"What are you going on about, Oliver." Fred frowned. "Listen, I’ll wake up Hermione, she’s good with healing charms, and—" Fred was stopped by another of Oliver’s coughing fits.

"No," Oliver muttered. "No, it’s too late for that now. Fred, I wanted to…wanted to thank you for getting me out. I have a feeling…I know you’ll make it. It’s out there somewhere…somewhere…" Fred could barely hear him now, his voice was so faint.

Fred fought back tears. "Oliver, you’ll be fine, just wait a second and—"

Oliver let out a weak laugh. He seemed to be breathing with less difficulty now, although a thin trickle of blood was running from the corner of his mouth. "You can do it, Fred," he whispered hoarsely. "Take care of them…" Fred was about to reply when he saw Oliver’s eyelids close and his face relax. "Oliver?" he whispered. There was no response.

Fred sat in the green glade among the sleeping Characters, shedding silent tears for his lost friend.

//
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