The taunting words were left half-finished when a silent blue flash from Cassian’s wand hit the Death Eater's chest, throwing the man off the ground to bounce on the tree behind him, and a numbing crack of bones against the bark echoed through the night.
Kay smiled, taking a split second to acknowledge the skills of his long-time friend before exclaiming the same “Stupefy!” to the second Death Eater, landing him face first to the ground. The first man, however, had gotten back to his feet just in time for Kay to notice and yelled a protective spell against whatever curse the Death Eater was casting at them.
The duel ensued with Cassian joining in- flashes of lights were flying and bounced curses destroyed any inanimate objects around them, adding debris to the already chaotic scene. They were so busy dealing with the Death Eater that when Kay felt the dreading, life-sucking cold of the creature he hated the most, it was already too late. He could see the dementors surround them, dark blotches against the starry sky that grew closer and closer and his knees eventually gave up.
“Cass…” he tried to warn Cassian that he might have to deal with both threat alone as Kay succumbed to fatigue and flashes of his childhood memories: too innocent to understand why his parents brought him into a darkened chamber with figures he could never name under hooded robes; the ugly wooden chair they all stood around; a deformed figure he could never forget.
“Cassian!” Kay wheezed out one more time, clutching at the inner side of his left arm to stop the pulsing even though the dark mark was no longer there. The dementors were still closing in. Cassian was still too busy yelling protective spells. The deformed figure wiggled and hissed. A large snake approached the wooden chair. The snake came out of the skull and move into a knot on his skin. Skeleton-thin fingers were in front of his face and, behind it, a hollow darkness where Kay could hear his mother’s screaming all over again...
Life and his senses literally creeped back to Kay when a silvery, feline creature charged and clawed at the dementors around him and Cassian, pushing the evil creature into disarray of shrieking mess. He took a split second to note that the silvery feline was a caracal patronus (and apparently Cassian’s) before pushing himself on his feet again and forced himself to recall the memory of him throwing the Quaffle that gave them the House Cup in order to cast a patronus of his own.
Kay’s own silver fox patronus came to his aid, banishing the last two dementors before running further into the woods, lighting the path ahead before disappearing with Cassian’s.
“You alright?” Cassian asked with an assuring squeeze to Kay’s shoulder.
“Yeah. Sorry I was late to help.” Kay brushed away the dirt from his trousers and pointed the direction where their patronus had gone with his wand, “What was that ?” he asked still with trembled lips.
“Random patrol, I guess. I saw a small settlement to the west earlier so maybe they were just done with an evil deed there, or--”
“I mean the patronus,” Kay specified, raising an eyebrow at Cassian when their eyes met, though the latter immediately looked away.
“We should get going,” Cassian replied half-mumbling, already walking into the woods once again. Kay sighed, and with a last look at the bodies around them, he followed suit into darkness ahead.
They found a good clearing in the middle of the forest, just beside a small river, and decided to make a camp there. Cassian left Kay to do the protective and concealing spells alone (“It has to be done in the right sequence,” Kay repeated and Cassian was too tired to argue), but even after Kay finished and both of them were already under their blankets, neither of them could really sleep that night. It was never easy for Kay to close his eyes after an encounter with a dementor, but he also knew all too well the sort of nightmares the creature always brought to Cassian.
“Your patronus changed,” Kay said in a resolute tone. There was a long pause before Cassian responded by merely rustling under the blanket. “I was there when you cast your first patronus, remember?” Kay continued, “And what I saw earlier was definitely not a hound.”
“We should sleep,” Cassian responded in a very bad attempt to sound tired. “Still have a long journey tomorrow.”
“It’s not unusual for patronuses to change. Two people can eventually share similar patronus shapes because the happiest thoughts, nevertheless, are often associated with memories--or even feelings one shares with the other.”
“Oh, I certainly have feelings for Jyn,” Cassian’s immediate answer almost left Kay choking on his own saliva. “Those feelings are ‘frustration’ and ‘anger’.”
Kay let out a tired, disagreeing sigh but decided not to push.
“Cassian,” Kay called out after a pause, and another rustle was heard proving that they were both still very much awake. “If going after Jyn leads us to finding the next Horcrux, are you also aware that the other side of the coin for that is that we’re walking straight to a trap?”
What Kay needed was a verbal response but since Cassian didn’t seem keen on providing one, he continued. “I mean, if we arrived to wherever Jyn is and she’s already d--”
“She’s not,” Cassian’s answer came sharply, “and that’s why we should find her...no matter what situation we might face later.”
Kay let out another sigh. Looking back, he himself had warned Jyn about going alone, emphasizing his calculation on the possibility of running into anything the Dark Lord had recruited and endangering his own life as well as the other Rebels. Still, Jyn disappeared one night into their journey to find Ravenclaw’s diadem, leaving Cassian in a very ugly mood ever since.
“The possibility of us walking straight into a lion’s mouth is high. It’s very high. There is no logical reason for us to keep going with this.”
“We will be alright,” Cassian replied a little too hopefully. “There’s nothing that Jyn’s can’t handle so I’m sure she’s alright as well.”
“Does that come from your gut or one of your ‘feelings’?”
Even without seeing his face, Kay knew Cassian was giving him a look.
“You’re in love with her. That’s the only reason for your decision, and Merlin’s beard, we’re all going to be bloody doomed.”
“Good night, Kay.”
“Good night, Cassian.”
Weird was that the man who owns and manages Hog’s Head in the quiet and unassuming village of Hogsmeade turned out to be a loyal Rebel with the name Saw Gerrera. Even weirder was that their journey to find Jyn led them here, to Saw Gerrera’s underground stockroom, in front of a huge painting of a dark tunnel which Saw forced them to watch with a bit of longing in his face.
“My sister, Steela,” Saw said by way of explanation. “Bravest woman I’ve ever known, and gone too soon.”
Cassian and Kay only stared at the empty painting, not really sure what and how to respond. Kay noted, however, that Cassian had been changing his weight from one foot to another every now and then, as well as lightly tapping his right fingers against his thigh.
“So do you know where Jyn--”
“If you want to meet Jyn,” Saw cut Cassian with a stern tone, “You must go alone and as a friend. I don’t trust anyone, especially these days, but Steela is better at reading people than I am, so it’s up to her to let you in.”
Hearing this, Kay immediately grabbed Cassian by the shoulders and shoved him closer to the painting while he himself took one step back. Cassian shot him a look, but just as he slowly turned his head back to the painting, a young woman appeared from the tunnel, bending down as soon as she was close enough so that her face and Cassian’s were in equal height.
“Young people and their feelings,” Steela said cheerfully and Kay made a deliberate cough. “Come on now, she’s waiting for you.”
With that, the big painting swung to the left to reveal an identical tunnel behind it. Mumbling a quiet “Lumos!”, Cassian took a deep breath before walking down the path, with Steela’s painting closing in as soon as he was out of the view.
Cassian walked cautiously with his wand in front of him out of habit for self-protection. The deeper he went the harder he found to keep his mind to focus as countless scenarios played on his mind as to how he would react to the sight of Jyn after what felt like the longest month of not seeing her--that is, when she is at the end of the tunnel after all.
He was still busy with his own thoughts when the passage eventually ended, revealing a stone-walled chamber with a high ceiling basking in the yellow lights from the flying candles. It looked so much like all the chambers in Hogwarts (and maybe he was in Hogwarts because who knows where the tunnel had led him), except that someone had turned it into a personal room with a single bed, shelf, and a small table.
And then there she was.
Jyn’s back was towards him, so unaware and maybe too trusting, that Cassian immediately lowered his wand- he shouldn’t have needed it in the first place because “trust goes both ways” like she once told him.
She looked alright, as far as he could see. Her hair was loose, however- the usual bun is nowhere to be seen, and she was wearing a black cashmere sweater with rolled sleeves that revealed small cuts and bruises around her arms.
And then, before he could think of a better choice of words to greet her, Cassian’s mouth betrayed him and he breathed out her name.
It felt like slow motion: Jyn turning her head towards him, eyes widened and mouth agape. Him, standing there almost as if someone had cast Petrificus Totalus on him. He probably looked stupid, trying to determine whether it was acceptable to smile, or let out the anger and frustration that had been gnawing at his mind, leaving him anxious and grumpy. But in the seconds it took him to decide, Jyn had already sprinted towards him, her body colliding with his in a hard thump that knocked out the air in Cassian’s lungs.
Her arms were too tight around his neck, but he felt like he could finally breathe . He buried his nose in the crook of her neck and tightened his grip around her middle, closing his eyes so tightly that they started to hurt, but he didn’t mind. Everything else ceased to matter; the war that tore them apart in the first place was another problem in another universe, because in this one, she is safe, she is alright.
Cassian didn’t realize he repeated the words out loud until he heard Jyn’s muffled voice and felt the slight nod of her head against his own. He felt like he would want nothing but to stay like this forever, but eventually it was Jyn who pulled away, her green eyes lit and alive as they stared back at him.
“I’ve missed you,” Jyn began-- the braver one, as always, even in admitting their true feelings-- “I wanted to send an owl or any message to you but I couldn’t. Saw said it was too dangerous and he was right, so-”
It was never his plan to kiss her.
Over the weeks they embarked on this mission to find her, Cassian had built different scenarios in his head as to how things would go when they finally rejoined.
This was certainly not one of them.
He certainly wasn’t expecting a return gesture; nor the warmth spreading through his body faster than Firewhiskey as Jyn deepened the kiss by pressing her lips firmer against his; nor had he imagined a scenario where he would feel her body sliding up against his in an effort to match his height. The scenarios he built in his head disappeared one by one as soon as he cradled the back of her head with his hand, firmly holding onto the one scenario that ultimately mattered.
“I should have told you a long time ago,” Cassian whispered breathlessly when they parted, keeping his lips hovering close to hers as though he wanted to keep the words for her, and her only.
He should tell her that he found the last Horcrux.
He should tell her that they can finally defeat the Dark Lord.
He should probably tell her that she is the seventh Horcrux, and the consequences that come with it.
Or he should just tell her that he loves her.
But he won’t. At least, not now.
“I’m coming with you,” was what went out of Cassian’s mouth; he always thought that ‘love’ was to be experienced rather than declared, and somehow it feels relieving to finally said that. To finally admit that the reason for his own miserable weeks without Jyn was due to his denial on his own feelings, and a tremendous ego that made him thought he could go his own way without her.
He didn’t know it was possible but Jyn moved even closer, pressing her forehead against his and shut her eyes, relishing the moment. Cassian thought about adding something, now that it really sinks to him that ‘tomorrow’ will be such a luxury when the survival of the wizarding world is currently facing a great threat. But he didn’t. The world and its problems can wait, he told himself. The world had to wait, at least long enough until he could find another word to express what she meant to him.
Mere inches from him, Cassian could feel rather than see the smile that bloomed on Jyn’s lips, brighter than when her caracal patronus saved their lives in the Forbidden Forest during their third year at Hogwarts.
“I know,” Jyn replied ever so softly. He couldn’t help but smiled back at the thought of the last time he casted his patronus to save Kay and himself with the memory of their Yule Ball’s dance.
The patronus he now can create out the memory they just shared.
Just in case one is not strong enough, Cassian thought to himself, so he leaned down to kiss her one more time.