Amel and Garen fell into step close behind Hermione, effectively shielding the gun from the passerby. They steered her down the busy street, the barrel of the gun never leaving Hermione’s back.
Meanwhile, Hermione’s mind was racing, a million questions burning inside her, but she didn't dare speak. She knew one thing for certain - Garen and Amel were not from the Ministry. They probably weren't even wizards, judging by how they were threatening her with a gun and not a wand.
Her wand. They hadn't taken her wand. Now she was certain they weren't wizards. A Shield Charm couldn't stop a bullet, but it was a large oversight on their part. All she needed was a split second distraction, but she couldn't think how.
A nudge from Amel told her to turn right. Hermione's heart pounded in her chest as they entered a decrepit, out-of-the-way alley. What were they going to do with her?
They rounded a corner into a small lot filled with dumpsters and refuse. It looked even more seedy than the alley, and Hermione couldn't help thinking that this looked like the perfect place to dispose of a body.
Amel split off from Garen and Hermione and started fidgeting with her wristwatch. It looked exactly the same as Garen's, so Hermione assumed it was also a communication device. It gave her no opportuity to escape, though, as Garen's gun was still lodged in her back.
After a minute, Amel was still stabbing at her wrist. "Damn it!" she muttered.
"What's wrong?" Garen asked.
"I can't contact the ship," she said. "It's weird, it's like it's being blocked or something. You try it."
"Here, take the gun," Garen said, holding it out to Amel. In that split second, Hermione seized her chance. She spun around, snatching her wand from her pocket. The gun fired, an earsplitting blast that left Hermione’s ears ringing, but she wasn’t hurt. Someone screamed – was it Garen? Hermione couldn’t tell.
“Expelliarmus,” she shouted, barely registering that she couldn’t hear her own voice. The gun flew away from them and landed on a pile of trash near the corner. Hermione shoved past the shocked Amel and ran, pausing only to use a Blasting Curse on the gun, rendering it a pile of scrap metal.
She turned the corner and ran smack into the man from the café. The blonde girl was right behind him, breathing heavily.
“Ah, good, you got away,” he said. “Love it when they do that.”
“Who on earth are you?” gasped Hermione.
Just then, Amel skidded out into the alley, holding another gun and looking furious.
“Time for that later. Run!” the man shouted, grabbing Hermione’s hand and the girl’s. They pelted down the alley as a spray of bullets pinged around them. Hermione’s ears were starting to clear, and she could hear sirens in the distance. Somebody had called the police.
They burst into the street, Amel close behind them, but at least she didn’t dare shoot with people around. They wove through the crowds, Hermione doing her best not to bump into anybody.
“Where are we going?” Hermione yelled.
“Someplace safe,” the strange man responded, dodging a group of tourists.
“Yeah, and how do I know I can trust you?”
“Well, I’m not shooting at you, am I?”
They were passing a large department store. The crowd of shoppers going in and out made it harder than ever to move quickly.
“Come on,” the girl said, and led them into the store. “We can lose her in here.”
They slowed to a fast walk, trying not to look too suspicious. They weaved between the aisles, passing tired-looking mothers pouring over baby formula, teenagers picking out clothes, and children screaming for toys. After a few sharp turns, they couldn’t see Amel anymore, and Hermione realized Garen hadn’t followed them at all. She remembered the scream. Had he been shot when the gun went off?
At last, the man led them to very back of the store, stopping beside a fire exit. He pulled a strange device from his inside coat pocket and pointed it at the alarm system. It was thin and gray, with a blue tip, and made a high-pitched buzzing noise.
"Won't the alarm go off?" Hermione gasped.
“Not anymore,” the man said with a grin. They slipped out the exit into the alley, and paused, Hermione and the blonde girl still breathing heavily.
“I think we’ve lost her,” said the girl. She turned to Hermione. “I’m Rose Tyler. Sorry about back there. We meant to get to you back in Cardiff, before they did, but we didn’t realize they’d move so quickly, and he landed a day late, as usual.”
“Hey,” the man said. “I’m getting better.”
“Anyway, I’m the Doctor,” he said, shaking Hermione’s hand.
“Hermione Weasley,” Hermione said. She thought she saw a flicker of surprise in his eyes, but it was gone so quickly she must have imagined it. “Now will you tell me what’s going on? Where are you taking me?”
“I told you, someplace safe,” the Doctor said. “We’re nearly there now. This way, if you please.”
Hermione followed them. “Okay,” she said, “but who are you supposed to be?”
“Just travelers,” the Doctor said. “We picked up a disturbance in Cardiff, thought we’d investigate, and found you.”
Suddenly, they heard a commotion coming from back up the alley. They spun around to see the door flung open. Amel burst out of it, followed by several security officers.
“Time to go,” the Doctor said, and they took off running again. Hermione would have stayed and fought, but she didn’t like her odds against the guns. Amel must have convinced security they were thieves or something. They rounded a corner. Hermione glanced over her shoulder, aimed, and yelled “Stupify!” She thought she hit someone, but she wasn’t sure.
She looked ahead again to see that they were almost to the main street, but instead of fleeing to the safety of a crowd, the Doctor made for a small, blue box. He unlocked the door.
“In here!” he said to Hermione. He disappeared inside, followed by Rose. Hermione paused, uncertain. Could she really trust them? She had trusted Garen and Amel, and look where that had gotten her.
A quick look behind her revealed that she had no choice. Amel was gaining on them, gun in hand and a wild look in her eyes. Hermione ducked into the box and slammed the door.