nothing gold can stay
“But we’ll find another way. I promise. Look at me. Just – Just breathe, okay? I’m right here.”
“Admit it. We’re lost.”
“We’re not lost, it’s just dark and hard to see the road signs,” Will huffed from behind the driver’s seat of the car, dark eyes narrowed to try and make out the signs that they passed.
Tatiana rolled her eyes beside him and turned the map over in her hands, trying to locate where they currently were. “I think we passed Pennsylvania,” she supplied helpfully.
“We’ve been in New York for an hour,” Will replied shortly, bent over the steering wheel.
“I didn’t know that,” the brunette replied defensively, turning the map over in her hands.
What had started out as an innocent enough trip to America had completely fallen into a disaster when they learned that there had been a problem of the portkey. After an agonizing flight ‘over the pond’ (there had been turbulence and the person beside Will had thrown up on him), most of their luggage had gotten lost, and now they were utterly confused on the road to New York City.
“Why didn’t we just fly right in to JFK airport?” Tatiana complained, not for the first time.
“Because someone wanted to go see fucking Disneyland first.”
“You liked it. Don’t lie to me.”
“There were young children swinging off me. You made me pose with that fox Robin Hood thing. I got Mickey Mouse ears stuck on my head.”
“And you looked absolutely ecstatic in all those pictures I took of you wearing them,” Tatiana added, her voice sing-song as she leaned toward him, nudging his shoulder with her own. He ignored her and continued trying to spot the next sign on the highway, and she pulled away and sighed.
“Haven’t we been driving for hours?” she asked after a moment.
He nodded. “It’s more than eighteen hours from Florida to up here, even if we started yesterday. We should have arrived by now.”
“It’s not my fault that my boyfriend can’t drive to save his life,” Tatiana added.
He shot her a sideways glance of irritation before turning back to the road. “According to your bloody map and your terrible sense of direction—“
“—We should have found the highway again by now.” He was silent, gazing out into the dark expanse of street lit by a few spread out lamps.
The map rustled in her grasp as she turned it again, trying to make sense of it. Despite her protests, she truly was a terrible navigator – but at the same time, she was a pretty bad driver too, so she’d left the more dangerous half up to him.
He turned down another small, dimly lit road, and she straightened up, finally seeing the first sign of life spare for all those pine trees in miles. “There are some people sitting outside that bank there,” she motioned to them, turning her chin that direction. “Shall we stop and ask for directions?”
“I can figure out how to get us out of here,” Will replied evenly.
“You’ve been saying that for hours. Come on, let’s not have this argument. Just slow down and I’m sure they’ll point us back to the highway.”
The man seemed to be considering listening to her, and he slowed down ever so slightly. By the time Tatiana had turned back to the small group of people in front of the bank, however, they were gone.
She frowned. “I could have sworn that they were here a second ago—“
The tap on her window had her squeak and jump in surprise, but when she noticed the face of one of the men outside it, she relaxed slightly. Will reluctantly pressed down on the brake and the car slowed to a halt.
The brunette rolled down her window. “Excuse me, I was wondering if you could help us find where the highway is?”
The man gaped at her for a moment, his dark eyes seeming to scan her. “You’re not from here, are you?” he asked after a moment, his accent harder, rougher.
She chanced a glance back at her companion before turning to the man, suddenly a little more timid. “Er, no, not quite. Would you mind just pointing us in the right direction and we’ll be off?”
She was faintly aware that there were two more men behind the first. They appeared almost identical in the dim light; dark clothing, jeering faces, the shifty grins. She moved away from the window ever so slightly as the man’s gaze dropped from her face to her hand near the window.
“That’s a nice watch you’ve got there,” he added after a moment.
Tatiana glanced briefly of the expensive wristwatch she was wearing. “Actually, thanks for all your help, but I think we can manage it.” She turned back to the side. “Will, let’s go.”
But before the boy could move the car, the first man’s hand was suddenly forced through the window and on the brunette’s wrist, tugging at the watch. She let out a startled shriek and pushed away, but too late, for he emerged with it triumphantly and quickly examined it. Apparently it took him only one look at the jewelry and at the pair before he decided that they were well enough off, and he placed a hand on the window frame. “Get out of the car,” he said gruffly.
The two inside exchanged anxious looks.
They carefully acquiesced, Will moving around the front so that he could stand beside her. She could feel him tensing up beside her, his fingers mere inches from his pocket and his wand – but these were Muggles, and they didn’t seem to be in proper danger yet, so both held back from using any force.
“Empty your pockets,” the first man leered as the second and third approached now, forming a burly wall in front of the two.
Tatiana was quicker to do so. Chapstick, some money, a peppermint, and her wand all tumbled out of her pockets, and one of the men took them and then paused to examine her wand. “What’s this?” he asked after a moment.
She shrugged quickly and after he considered it for a moment longer, shrugged and broke it in half like a twig. She felt the pain as acutely as if her own bone had snapped and flinched at the crack, mouth agape and eyes round as saucers.
Will was trying to avoid the same fate. He sullenly emptied out his wallet and the car keys, but kept his wand in place, sparing her a doleful look after noticing how her own wand had been snapped into halves.
The men noticed. “What, you’ve got one of those stick things too?” One of them questioned, looking almost amused. “Give it here, let’s see what’s so special about them.”
“Fuck off,” Will snapped even as he flinched away, and Tatiana pressed herself close to the car, feeling the open window digging into the hollow of her back as she stood in front of it. The first man descended on the raven-haired young man, roughly trying to turn out his pockets even while Will pushed back against him roughly.
The man fell back gracelessly and scowled at the pair. His gaze drifted from Will to Tatiana and then he grinned suddenly. “Boys, what’s that she’s got around her throat?”
The former Hufflepuff quickly glanced at her boyfriend sideways, hazel eyes wide in panic. His onyx fell from her gaze to the bit of glittering jewelry just under the collar of her shirt, twinkling visibly in the dim star light that illuminated the street. She clutched it now through her fingers, pressing herself even further into the car.
“What, you’re attached to this one? Darling, they’re just diamonds. Hand them over and maybe we’ll let you two keep that ridiculous stick.”
“My mother gave it to me,” she whispered, her voice constricted in fear and in panic as she continued clutching at her necklace.
“So much pain for a twig,” the first man noted, amused, before his gaze drifted between the two of them. He grinned abruptly again and then was suddenly moving forward, his fingers wrapped around her throat. Tatiana gagged under his hold, trying to force his fingers off, but his grip was like iron.
His eyes were on Will now. “Hand over that stick of yours and tell us what’s so special about it or I’ll snap her pretty little neck,” he growled.
Will’s dark eyes blazed as he reluctantly emptied the wand from his pocket and held it out cautiously, his eyes darting between it and the young witch beside him. As the man reached for it, Will suddenly made a sudden flicking movement and murmured a curse. The man screeched suddenly and retracted his arm from the brunette, his fingers steaming from the burning curse that the former Ravenclaw had inflicted on him.
In another quick motion, he did the same to the other two men before grabbing Tatiana’s hand. She gasped as the fingers left her throat and then sprang into action, letting him pull her along numbly for only a moment before she began suddenly stopped, aimed a kick at her former captor’s stomach. She began to run, following the wizard. They had only one wand between them now; they had to make do.
The curse hadn’t lasted too long. Behind them, the men hissed for a few seconds but their anger was apparent now; Will had done more to annoy them than incapacitate them. “Get that weapon of his, and that bitch who kicked me too,” the ringleader hissed at the others.
Tatiana and Will might have been fast, but they were unfamiliar to these parts. The men behind them expertly split up and ran around the buildings, but the English pair could barely tell one street from the other in the unfamiliar dark. They only ran, clutching each other blindly and then relying on instinct.
There was a sudden shout from the right. “There they are!”
Tatiana gasped and then suddenly there was a bang and she felt a slicing pain near her stomach. Letting out a shriek, she slumped sideways into Will’s arms, and he frantically glanced at their assailant and then pushed her none too gently into the nearest building, flicking the wand at the door behind him to barricade it.
He settled her against the wall and she gasped in pain, fingers moving to her side as she tried to assess the damage as well as she could with all the agony of being shot.
“Shit, are you bleeding?” he managed, out of breath from having run so far. Her fingers came away sticky and scarlet, and he stared at them in shock before glancing back up at her.
“He shot me,” she realized with a start, sitting up suddenly and hitting her head on the wall. Will reached out quickly to steady her.
“That son of a bitch,” he scowled suddenly at the door and then widened his eyes before quickly aiming a few more charms at it. There was a dark shape outside, trying to force his way in, and was quickly followed by the other two.
“I don’t know how to stop the bleeding,” she gasped, pressing her hand to her side as if that would staunch the blood flow (it didn’t). “Will, I’m not a healer. Not yet. We just graduated, I haven’t even started training –“
“Focus,” he said sharply, and she glanced up in shock. “Stop thinking about the blood. We’re going to get you out of here.”
“The door is blocked by those goons,” she said flatly.
“I know,” he confessed after a moment, dropping his head as he took a deep breath. “But we’ll find another way. I promise. Look at me. Just – Just breathe, okay? I’m right here.”
“But I can’t stop the bleeding.” Her eyes welled up with tears; out of pain, out of feeling useless, out of sensing the own helplessness in his eyes. “Will, I’m going to bleed out here. You can’t stop it.”
“We can apparate,” he suggested desperately.
“I’ll only bleed out faster,” she replied, rubbing at her eyes with the hand that wasn’t sticky with her own blood. “You’ve only got one chance, and that’s to go without me.”
“I’m not leaving you,” he replied quickly.
“Then you’ll die with me,” she snapped sharply, a bit more harshly than she’d intended. Her gaze softened after a moment, biting down on her lower lip. “Will, get out. Get out now.”
“I don’t want you to watch me die!”
There was silence, and then he dropped down on his knees beside her, pulling her close. She moved her hand from her side to around him, pressing her face into the hollow between his neck and his shoulder, trying her best not to sob from the pain, from the unfairness that she was eighteen and she was too young to die but that wasn’t stopping the fates.
He pressed a dry kiss to her forehead abruptly, arms still wrapped around her. They stayed like that for another minute before she winced suddenly and pulled away, pressing on her own wound again, tears streaming down her face. The pounding at the door continued but they paid that very little attention, too caught up in the matter indoors now.
“I’m sorry,” she added, and she wasn’t sure what for, she thought it needed to be said even as she doubled over. He grabbed her hand, but her fingers were sticky and slippery, and a moment later her fingers slipped of their own accord from his grasp as the light left her hazel eyes.
He stared at her limp body for a moment and then bit down hard on his lip. The door finally burst open with a crash and he turned, glanced back at the brunette, and turned on the spot and disappeared.