Only the Best by Celtics534
Summary: Metropolitan Police Inspector Harry Potter was having an amazing twenty-four hours. He slept a full eight hours, had a good pint, and met the most incredible red-headed woman. Of course, that was all nulled by the dead woman lying in Whitehorse Road Park.
Categories: Alternate Universe
Chapter 1: Chapter 1
Chapter 2: Chapter 2
Chapter 3: Chapter 3
Chapter 4: Chapter 4
Chapter 5: Chapter 5
Chapter 6: Chapter 6
Chapter 7: Chapter 7
Chapter 8: Chapter 8
Chapter 9: Chapter 9
Chapter 10: Chapter 10
Chapter 11: Chapter 11
Chapter 12: Chapter 12
Chapter 13: Chapter 13
Chapter 1: Chapter 1
This is a Muggle AU. Set in modern day London. Also, want to say thank you to Arnel for being super helpful and being an awesome beta.
“I can’t believe you were in jail for a whole night!” Ginny Weasley sniggered at her brother, who was scowling. They were sitting in a small London pub, eating fish and chips and sharing a pint. Ron, her youngest brother, had just explained why he wasn’t at Victoire, their niece’s, birthday two days ago.
“It’s really not funny, Ginny,” Ron hissed at her, “prison isn’t all it cracks up to be.”
Ginny gave a small laugh. “Out of all my brothers, I would have thought the first to be arrested would have been Fred and George.”
Ron snorted. “Yeah, well, I always wanted to do be first at something.” He took a long drink. “What did you think I would be first at?”
“First Weasley to eat an entire pie in under a minute.”
Ron’s indignant noise was cut off by the tinkle of a bell over the door. Ginny watched her brother’s eyes roam over to the noise, then saw his face drain of color. She turned in her seat to see what had spooked Ron. A man had walked through the doorway. He was wearing a pale blue button-down shirt and black jeans. His black hair was unruly, going every which way, something Ginny found incredibly sexy, but it was his eyes that hypnotized her. They were a beautiful shade of emerald that seemed to glimmer in the low lighting of the pub.
The man seemed to do a quick survey of the room, as if checking for danger. When his eyes landed on Ron, Ginny could have sworn the stranger’s eyes lit up with humor. He made his way towards their table, scooting around the patrons standing around watching the football match on the television in the corner. Once he reached their vicinity he gave Ron a cheery smile. “How are you doing, Mr. Weasley?”
Ron refused to make eye contact with the man, instead he looked down at his half-eaten plate. “Fine, Detective Inspector Potter.”
Now, Ginny never prided herself on being the smartest person, but even she could add two plus two. “Wait,” Ginny’s drawled, looking between the two men, “is this who…”
Ron gave a quick jerk of his head. His face was steadily taking on the attributes of a tomato. Ginny started to shake with suppressed laughter. What were the odds that Ron’s arresting officer would go to the same bar as him?
Ginny held out her hand to the man. “Nice to meet you.”
Inspector Potter, as Ron had called him, gave her an appraising look and shook her hand. “Like wise, Miss?”
“Weasley. This dope,” she pointed at Ron with her thumb, “is my older brother. So, Inspector, Ron didn’t tell me why you arrested him. What did he do?”
The Detective Inspector gave a small chuckle. “Public intoxication and public indecency.”
Ginny’s eyes went wide as she turned quickly to her brother. “Ron,” her voice was filled with uncontainable amusement. “What would Mum say?”
“Oh, don’t tell Mum,” Ron moaned pitifully. “She would make me move back home.”
“You would deserve it. Clearly your too immature to be away from your mummy,” her voice was dripping with humor. Ginny turned her attention back to the black-haired man. “Would you like to join us?” Ron let out a destressed moan as she gestured to the empty chair next to her. “I would love to hear your side of the story. I’ll even buy your pint, as payment for this future blackmail.”
Potter let out a derisive snort, but took the empty chair. “Alright you have yourself a deal, Miss Weasley.”
“Excellent! What will you have?” Ginny asked as she stood up to head over to the barkeep. Harry listed off a local brand and she quickly ordered it. When she returned she placed the cool tankard in front of the inspector.
“Alright,” Ginny started reclaiming her own seat. “I know the basics. Ron was arrested after a few pints with his mates, but he hasn’t said anything past that.”
Their new companion took a sip of his lager, before saying, “I would say more than a few pints. He was a BAC level of point one hundred and twenty by the time I got him into the station.” Ginny shot her brother an alarmed look. Ron usual was pretty good about not getting to out of control.
“What did he do before you took him in?”
Ron groaned again as his arresting officer continued, “He was pissing on the side of the bar when I walked by. I called out to him to stop and he turned to face me and… well…” the Inspector’s cheeks darkened slightly.
Ginny rounded on her brother, her tone full of disbelief, “You pissed on a Coppa?” Ron placed his head in his hands as Ginny started to laugh. Even Potter gave a few chuckles.
“I’ve been on the force for years now, but you are the first person to do that to me,” the Inspector claimed playfully, making Ginny laugh harder.
“Look at that, Ron, another thing you’re first at,” she told her brother, cheerfully slapping the man in question’s arm in mock celebration. She turned back to the Inspector. “I’m surprised you’re not madder, Inspector Potter.”
Harry waved her off. “Nah, it could have been worse. Also, call me Harry. I mean, I’ve already seen a lot of your brother, you and I should be on a first name basis.”
Ginny snorted. “Alright, Harry, but that means I’m Ginny.”
Harry shot her a quick smile. “Deal.” Then he turned to Ron. “Can I be on a first name basis with you, as well?”
Ron slowly removed his red face from his hands. “Might as well, you know me better than some of my mates.”
Harry laughed and raised his beer in a salute. “Great, to knowing way too much about Ron.” Ginny laughed while raising her glass. All three took a long drink. The three started talking as if they had been friends for years, even Ron once his initial embarrassment was over. They discussed the Weasley family and what it was like to have so many brothers. Harry talked about being apart of the Metropolitan Police. The time just seemed to run, till most of the patrons had vacated the bar and only a few tenants were left nursing their drinks.
“Well,” Ron said as he stood up and stretched, “I’m heading home. I’m sure Lavender is worried sick about me.”
Ginny rolled her eyes at Harry. “His girlfriend,” she told the confused looking man in an undertone. Harry nodded his understanding and stood himself. He offered a hand to Ginny, which she took with a laugh. “Not that drunk, yet, Inspector.”
He chuckled and shrugged. “You don’t need to be drunk to accept a gentlemanly action.”
They walked out of the pub into the crisp, night autumn air. Ron pointed his thumb down the street to the left. “This is where I leave. Which way are you, Harry?” Harry pointed the opposite way. “Alright, well, you’re the same way as Ginny. Have a good night.” He gave them a quick wave and deserted them.
“Where are you off to?” Harry asked rubbing the back of his neck.
“Sudbury Hill,” Ginny said, pointing to the tube station a little down the way. Harry snorted. “What?” she asked semi-defensively. There was nothing wrong with living where she lived. She had a nice little flat that wasn’t too noisy at night. Not to mention the fact that it was only a twenty-minute bus ride to Wembley Stadium where she worked as press agent for the Tottenham Hotspurs Football Club.
Harry continued to chuckle as he said, “That’s where I’m going as well.” He stuck out his elbow and offered her his arm. “It would be my honor to escort you, Miss Weasley.”
She took his arm, but shot him a skeptical look. “Really?”
He started to lead the way towards the station down the road. “Oh yeah, I’ve lived there for… must be five years now, since I was twenty.”
“I would have thought you would have wanted to be closer to Scotland Yard.”
Harry shook his head. “No, I hate how loud it can get in the middle of the city. I prefer the quiet just outside life.”
As they entered the station Harry pulled out his Oyster card and payed for his way in, Ginny did the same in the adjacent booth. Together they made their way up the set of stairs that would lead towards their final destination. As they waited for the next train they continued one of their conversations for earlier.
“So, who is your favorite brother?” Harry asked gesturing to a bench. They sat side by side. He gave her a sly grin. “You can tell me, Ron won’t be offended anymore.”
Ginny laughed. “They’re all my favorite for different reasons.” Harry gave her a blank look so she explained, “Bill was always there when I needed guidance. Charlie was always there for exciting adventures. George and Fred were always there when I needed a laugh. Ron, being the closest to my age, was a good playmate.”
Harry counted on his fingers. “That’s only five. Ron mentioned earlier that you have six.” Ginny must have scowled because Harry quickly backtracked, “You don’t have to tell me about the last brother.”
Ginny shook her head. “No, it’s fine. He is just such a git. We haven’t heard from him in almost ten years. He walked away from the family, because my dad gave him an opinion he didn’t like.”
Harry gave her a cognitive look. “And he hasn’t tried to reach out?”
Again, Ginny shook her head. A clear male voice called over the speaker that their train would be arriving in one minute. Harry stood up and offered his hand to her for the second time that night. “Keep this up and I’m going to have high expectations,” Ginny joked.
Harry gave her a lopsided grin, that made her stomach flutter. “Only the best for you.” The train pulled in to a stop with a loud screeching noise. The doors opened rapidly spilling out passengers. The pair waited for the line of riders to leave before they hopped on.
The train was almost completely empty, being such a late hour. They took two seats in view of the door. The clear voice from before reminded them to “mind the gap” as the exit slid shut. The train then started to move, pick up speed.
“What about you?” Ginny asked, breaking their comfortable silence, “You never mentioned your family.”
Harry stiffened slightly but said, “No, I didn’t. I don’t really have a family.” Ginny felt guilty. She had just met this man and had clearly asked way to personal of a subject. She started to apologize, but Harry waved her off. “No, it’s fine. I was raised by my aunt and uncle. They never really wanted to deal with me, so as soon as I turned eighteen I was out of there.”
Without thinking Ginny placed her hand on his arm. “I’m sorry.”
He gave her a noncommittal shrug, but faced her with a small smile. “No harm, no foul. Now tell me what’s it like to work with the Tottenham club.” Ginny explained all about some of the incidents she had dealt with over her the last year of working with the club. Harry was an excellent listener. He asked good questions and laughed at all her bad jokes.
It was only a thirty-minute ride, but they had one transfer from the green line to the blue. They kept talking until they reached the exit of the final tube station. Again, they were in the cool outside air. She pointed in the direction of her flat. “I’m going this way.”
Harry jerked his thumb the opposite way. “I’m down that way.” They both stood in silence, neither seeming to want to be the first one to leave. Ginny really had enjoyed Harry’s company. He told good stories, listened to her, and if she was honest with herself, she enjoyed looking at his dapper face.
“What are you doing for breakfast?” Harry asked, rubbing the back of his neck.
“Uh, I assume I’m eating it,” Ginny said mischievously with a grin. She was thinking he had the same thoughts about her, as she did about him.
Harry snorted. “Well, would you like to eat it with me?” He pointed to a café down the road a little from the station. “I tend to pick something up there in the morning before work, but if you want to join me we could sit in their dining area.”
Those butterflies from before returned to Ginny’s stomach as she nodded her head. “That sounds nice. What time?”
“How about half past seven?”
“Perfect,” Ginny pulled out her phone and navigated to the contacts screen. She past it over to Harry, who looked confusedly at her. “Put your number in.”
Harry made an understanding circle shape with his mouth and pulled out his own phone. He clicked on the screen a few times and handed it to her. “Fair is fair,” he told her as he placed in his number. Ginny shrugged her agreement and added her info. Turning off the screen with the button on the side, she handed him back his mobile.
“So, I’ll see you tomorrow?” Harry double checked as he stuck his device back into his pocket.
“Bright and early,” Ginny told him, and then she boldly pressed a kiss to the Inspector’s cheek. “Have a good night, Harry,” she said as she turned around and headed towards her flat. As she walked she counted to five, at the final number she looked over her shoulder. Harry was still standing in front of the station watching her as she walked away. She caught his eyes, making him blush and he gave her a little wave and turned around and headed away.
Ginny returned her attention to the direction she was walking, a smile forming on her lips as well.
Harry buttoned up the collar of his shirt. He had another ten minutes before he was supposed to meet Ginny at the café. The café was only a five-minute walk from his flat, so he took decided to try to tame his hair one final time, a lost cause as always.
Never in a million years would Harry have expected running into the guy who pissed on him in a pub. Never in another trillion years would he have thought he would be asking the guy’s sister on a date for breakfast. The world loved its twist and turns.
He had really like Ron and Ginny. Ron was sarcastic and seemed to be loyal to people he cared for, which he proved when he stood up for his, as Ginny put it, bitch of a girlfriend. If they had met in school they would have become fast friends. Ginny… Well, Ginny seemed to have the full package. Humor, beauty, and overall personality.
When he had entered that pub last night, when he scoped the room for potential threats, something he always did, he had instantly noticed her. Her long red hair had reflected well with the soft light of the room. Her face was covered in freckles, something Harry had never known he loved till he saw it on her. When she had looked towards the door she had on one of the most incredible smiles he had ever seen. Overall, Harry was surprised his jaw hadn’t dropped to the floor when had seen her. He had gone over to their table, under the pretenses of mocking Ron, but really, he had wanted to see her up close.
Harry made sure he had his keys, wallet, and phone, before leaving his flat locking it behind him. He walked at slow pace. As much as he wanted to get there and see Ginny again, he didn’t want to seem too anxious. Really though, he was thrilled she had agreed to meet him again.
As he rounded the corner of the street which was attached to the café, he could see Ginny’s red hair bobbing along in the throng of people, coming from the other direction heading towards his recommended dining choice. She was wearing a pair of dark jeans and white blouse with a brown leather jacket unzipped covering her arms. Even in something so simple Harry thought she looked really, really good.
“Hello there, Detective Inspector Potter,” Ginny said comically, as they reached their destination at the same moment. She was smiling at him. That same smile that had drawn him to her last night.
“Good morning, Miss Weasley. Are you hungry?” Harry asked in an over the top dapper voice.
Ginny gave a hearty laugh. “First thing you get to learn about us Weasleys is that we are always hungry.” She led the way into the small building. For a weekday morning, it was almost empty. Just a few couples and families scattered around eating and chatting.
They went up to the counter and each ordered a coffee and a few pastries. Harry pulled out his card and paid for it before Ginny could even get out her wallet. She gave him an appraising look and said, “Still ever the gentleman, I see.”
As Harry signed his name on the tablet screen he responded, “Only the best for you.”
Ginny picked up their order and headed towards one of the free tables in the back of the room. “Is that your favorite response?”
“I want to make sure my new favorite red-head is treated right,” Harry told her as they sat opposite each other.
“New favorite, huh?” Ginny raised an eyebrow as grab a Danish. “And who would be the first?”
“Oh, Ariel from The Little Mermaid. Have you heard her sing. Also, have you seen that outfit? That shell bra looks fantastic on her.”
Ginny spluttered into laughter, choking slightly on her drink. “Ah, and fashion is something you learned on the force, huh?” she said once she could speak again.
Harry gestured down to his outfit. It was a simple white shirt that held all his epaulettes with black tie and black trousers. “I mean I think this speaks for itself. It’s our main focus.”
“Ah, yes, that where all my tax pounds go, your outfits.”
“And I can see you don’t regret it.” He sent her a comical flirty wink across the table, making her snort.” So, what are your plans today?”
Ginny took a sip of her coffee and took a bite out of her Danish. “Two of the boys were out way too late last night drinking. Let’s just say they put Ron to shame. Ironically they are a few of his old classmates.”
“Where did they get up to their hijinks?”
“Southern London. Have you heard of the Hogshead?” Harry shook his head so Ginny continued, “It’s a beat up old pub. The barkeep is a little temperamental, and well, Thomas and Finnegan are quite a duo when drunk.”
Harry nodded his understanding and took the a croissant and gestured for Ginny to take the final Danish, which she did happily. “So, how do you deal with something like that?”
“What you would expect. Call the media to ask them not to print the articles that are surely written. Then call the pub and try to calm the old man down.”
“Not that I’m trying to part from your company, but shouldn’t you be making those phone calls now?”
Ginny smiled at him, sending his stomach for a loopy loop. “My colleague is finding out which papers have bought the rights to the story. I get to call the pub. Abe and I have dealt with each other a few times now.”
“Ah, had a few drunken nights with Abe yourself, huh?”
Ginny snorted. “If only. No, Finnegan is always getting in trouble with his drinking.” She gave him a sly look. “But now that I’m friendly with a certain Inspector…” she batted her eyelashes in a mock flirty manner.
Harry couldn’t contain his snort. He smiled sweetly at her. “Only the best for you, luv.”
“Already at the nickname stage I see, darling.”
Harry laughed. He looked down at his watch. There were ten minutes before the train was scheduled to reach the platform. “Are you heading towards the inner city? We could ride the rails together.”
Ginny chuckled. “As romantic as that sounds, I’m taking the bus to the stadium today. I plan on working from the office today. I have no desire to have this conversation in person with Abe today.”
“Fair enough,” Harry said as he stood up. He offered her a hand, making her roll her eyes at him but, smiling all the same. “Allow me to walk you to the stop then, Miss. Weasley.”
“My hero,” Ginny said playfully batting her eyelashes and lacing her hand on her heart. They walked out of the café laughing and standing closer to each other than polite company would dictate. In the end they reached the station just as Ginny’s bus arrived. She gave Harry his second kiss on the cheek as she boarded, swiping her payment as she went. Harry watched as she took a window seat and gave him a little wave as the bus started to move.
Harry walked to his designated train platform. As his ride approached he felt his phone vibrate in his pocket.
‘My companion isn’t nearly as cute as last night’s.’ Harry couldn’t contain a snort as he read Ginny’s text.
He quickly typed back a response, ‘Maybe if they had on a sea shell bra…’
Harry boarded the train as he received her answer, ‘You’re right, here let me ask him.’ Before Harry could more than let out a snort she sent another message. ‘He says he’ll pass, but maybe next time.’ Another bubbled note appeared. ‘Maybe you could request a change in uniform? Though, I bet more crimes would be committed, just so they could see you in that nice little get up.’
They continued their flirty banter till Harry arrived Scotland Yard. Before he walked in the front door he asked her what time she would be getting off work and offered to chivalrously take her to dinner. She informed him she should be done with everything, hopefully, around half past five and asked if he wanted to go to a little Indian place a few blocks from Sudbury Station. He agreed and offered to meet at the station around six, time for him to get back to his flat and change into civilian clothes. Claiming that was perfect, she told him have a fun day being on fashion patrol.
As Harry walked into his office, the first thing he noticed was a note from his Detective Chief Inspector, telling him to go to his office. Following the order, Harry headed right to Moody’s office. Alastor Moody was a gruff looking man who had lost his leg in an explosion. He had a fake eye, that tended to roll around in its socket, which made people call him Mad-Eye. With a quick knock at the door, Harry was granted access.
Mad-Eye was sitting at his desk going through some paper work. “Good, Potter,” he said not looking up from his work, “You’re heading out to Stepney. A woman was murder out there a few hours ago. I want you and Tonks on the case.” Moody looked up quickly from his desk.
Harry nodded his assurance, making his chief grunt. “Alright, then,” the grizzly man said, “I’ve already informed Tonks and she should be waiting for you by her desk.” Again, Harry nodded and left the room. He quickly stopped in his office to grab his coat, then made his way to where his partner for the case was supposed to be.
Nymphadora Tonks was a fellow Detective Inspector. Harry had worked a on a few cases with her in the past. She was personable and funny. She loved to change her hair different colors, making kids think she was the best officer ever. The big wigs upstairs weren’t overly fond of it, but Harry thought it was great. As Harry approached the first thing he checked was her hair, which was her favorite shade of bubblegum pink. Once Tonks noticed him she tried to wave, but knocked over her coffee cup in the process. Tonks was the clumsiest person Harry knew.
She flushed as she took a rag and wiped up the mess. “Hey, Potter.”
“Morning, Tonks,” Harry replied in a cheery manner, “You ready to head over to Stepney?”
She nodded as she finished cleaning up the puddle of brown liquid. “Yeah. Do you mind if I drive?”
Tonks was able to get them to Whitehorse Road Park in one piece, though there was a moment when someone wouldn’t get out of her way, and Harry thought she might run through them. Fortunately, that didn’t happen. They parked the car at the walking entrance of the park near the back end of some houses. Yellow tape was posted around the walkway, blocking many curious people from entering.
A constable stood guard, keeping the crowd in line. When Harry and Tonks arrived, they pulled out their warrant cards, making the guard nod them entrance.
A busy scene greeted them as they ducked under the tape. The area was crawling with officers inspecting the ground. In the center lay the victim whose body was covered with a sheet. Even at this distance, Harry could tell the victim was a woman. A gloved woman knelt next to her inspecting her feet. She wore the trade mark coat of a medical examiner. He glanced about, spying a photographer who was taking pictures of various details on the ground.
Harry glanced at Tonks, who nodded and walked towards the photographer. Harry went to speak with the examiner. She was Harry’s age with brown bushy hair. Another person Harry had worked with in the past. Hermione Granger was an over-organized woman, which made her extremely efficient at her job.
“Hermione,” Harry called as he reached her.
She looked at him over her shoulder and gave him a quick nod. “Harry.”
Harry pulled out a notebook. He always made sure to carry something to write in. He liked to take notes, including any thoughts he may suddenly have. “What do you have so far?”
Hermione stood and turned to face him. “Female. Late twenties. She was discovered here by a jogger four hours ago, though the temperature of her body suggests she has been dead for longer. No clothing was found on the body, her handbag, however, was slung on her shoulder. No ID was found in the bag.” She took a breath before continuing, “No visible wounds other than what appears to be rope marks around her wrists. No cause of death yet.”
Harry followed along taking down his notes. “How was the body lying when it was found?”
“On her back.” Hermione moved in closer. “I found a small bit of writing on the inside of her wrist. It looks to be written in lipstick, the same kind I found in her bag.”
“What does it say?”
“It’s looks like the number one,” She gave him a worried glance. “My worry is that this is a start to a message, but that would mean it a possibility to more bodies.”
Harry gave a curt nod. “Possibly, but as of right now it’s just the one. How soon can we find the cause of death?”
“I need to get her to the station, but from there hopefully a few hours. I wanted to wait, so you could look at the scene, find something I may have missed.”
“Okay, thanks, Hermione.”
The woman gave him a wry smile and walked over to another member of her team who was looking over the contents of the bag. Harry knelt at the dead woman’s head. He slowly removed the drape from her face and let out a surprised noise of recognition. Harry couldn’t believe what he was seeing. Dead at his feet was his ex-girlfriend, Cho Chang.
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Chapter 2: Chapter 2
Author's Notes: Huge thanks to Arnel for her diligent eyes and gryffindormischief for her awesome comments and thoughts!
“Not much has been found on site,” Sargent Boot explained. He was standing on the edge of the crime scene. Nymphadora Tonks, was taking notes down on her phone. “In her bag we found a basic lipstick and compact mirror, a romance novel, and a broken energy bar. No wallet which means no ID.”
Tonks nodded her acceptance to his claim. “So, we have a Jane Doe?”
“Not quite,” Harry’s voice was strained as he approached. His face was pale, making the unique lightning shaped scar on his forehead stand out. “I know her. I dated her, must be four years ago. Her name is Cho Chang.”
Surprise wasn’t a strong enough word for what Tonks felt. “Shit,” she muttered, then speaking to Harry she raised her voice, “I’ll do a search on her. Do you know if she has any priors? It will make it easier to find her in the system.”
Harry shook his head. “Not as far as I know, but I haven’t seen her in years. We kinda just,” he rubbed the back of his neck, “drifted apart.”
“Okay, well, I’ll go through the DVLA first; if she doesn’t have a history it would be easier to find out who to contact through her license.”
“I know her parents, or at least I did. A lot can happen in four years.”
“Alright?” Tonks had to ask. As much as she enjoyed working with Harry, she needed to make sure he was in the right mind set. She couldn’t risk him becoming too emotional. Even though he called Chang an ex, it didn’t mean he didn’t still have feeling towards her.
Harry nodded and took a deep breath. “Yeah, it’s just shocking when it’s someone you knew.”
Tonks could remember when she had discovered Remus had been murdered. Remus Lupin had been her target of desire for years before he died. He refused to accept her advances. He claimed he was too old for her, and he was too problematic for her. She never did find out what he had meant by the latter. Her mother thought he might be abusive or ill, but Tonks had never cared if he was sick. She had fallen hard for him, and then he was gone. She had taken two months off from the force, trying to keep her head on straight. Harry seemed to be handling it better than she had, making her think his feelings for Chang were never that strong.
She placed a hand on Harry’s shoulder. “Just let me know if you need off the case.”
Harry shook his head. “It won’t be an issue, really,” he paused, sighing deeply. “What was in the bag?”
Tonks could tell he was moving on, ready to work. That was something she had admired about Harry since they'd first begun investigating together. He seemed to be able to push distractions to the side. Some might say it made him slightly robotic, but in their line of work it was more than useful.
She explained what Boot had told her. He nodded as she spoke, writing things down in a small black leather-bound notebook. “What did medical examiner tell you?” she asked once she finished her spiel.
He took a moment, jotting down a final few facts, then he looked up from his writing. “Not much, to be honest. There is no sign of a fatal wound, just some marks around her wrist that would signify she may have been tied up. Also, there is a small mark on her inner wrist that was written in what Hermione assumes was her own lipstick. It looks like a number one.”
“A number one?” Tonks felt puzzled. “Why would someone put a number on someone’s wrist?”
“Hermione has a theory that it may be the start of a counting…” Harry’s eyes shifted around the field, checking for any unwanted listeners. “My gut is telling me something similar, but for now it’s a standalone case.”
Tonks let out a sigh. If a mark was left on the body, it very well could be a calling card. Simply leaving a number? What kind of message was that? Tonks shook her head, she should dwell on what could and can, but focus on the facts that were right in front of her.
“Alright,” she said slowly, “you want to try and reach out to the parents? They might take it better from someone they are familiar with. Have you already looked over the body?”
Harry nodded. “Yeah, I have looked her over. Nothing on her other than the rope marks and the lipstick, like I mentioned. She looks like I remember, maybe a few wrinkles I never noticed, but I would say it is Cho Chang.” He licked his lips nervously. “We could go speak to her parents now,” he pointed towards the area they came from. “They live around three blocks from here.”
Martha and Adam Chang were completely devastated to hear about their daughter. When Harry knocked on their door, at first, they were thrilled. They had always liked Harry, even if his relationship fizzled with their child. When Harry asked to come inside with his police partner, they were understandably confused.
Harry sat them down in front of the fire. Pleasantries and chitchats were had, while Martha made them all tea. Once the biscuits and mugs of strong drink were passed around, Harry explained to them what they knew so far. Martha had let out a heart-wrenching sob and put her face into her husband’s shoulder. Adam kept eye contact with Harry, but his eyes were misty.
“Do you have any suspects? Shouldn’t you have someone…” Adam’s voice broke.
“I’m sorry, Mr. Chang,” Tonks said, “We have no evidence towards anyone right now, but maybe you could help us. Did your daughter ever complain about anyone? Maybe someone she disliked or someone who disliked her?”
Mr. Chang shook his head. “No, Cho was well liked by everyone. She never really complained about anyone…” he paused. “Well, okay, she complained about her boyfriend, but who doesn’t do that?”
“What kind of things did she complain about?”
Adam made a derisive gesture with his hands. “This and that. I mean, lately they had been fighting a lot. She wanted Michael to commit more, but he kept procrastinating.” He looked between Harry and Tonks. “But that’s normal in relationships.”
Harry nodded. “How long had they been seeing each other?”
Mr. Chang let out a long sigh and shot Harry an awkward glance. “I would say right after you two ended.”
“Four years can be a long time without commitment,” Tonks muttered under her breath, then spoke louder, “Do you know where we might find this boyfriend?”
“Yeah, I have his address written down somewhere.” Adam looked down at his wife. “Martha, dear. I need to give the inspectors Michael’s address. Afterwards, how about we go see your sister?”
Harry watched Adam extract himself from his wife and head into another room. He could hear rummaging and then Adam was back with a small piece of paper. Written on it was an address and the name Michael Corner. He handed it to Tonks. “Anything else I can do for you Inspector Tonks? Harry?”
They shook their heads, and as one rose from their seats. “Unfortunately we do need someone to come down and confirm that the woman we found is your daughter. I know it’s hard, but if one of you could come down to Scotland Yard? Tonks asked.
Adam let out a deep sigh, and quickly glanced at his wife. “I’ll come down before we head to Martha’s sister.”
“Thank you, Mr. Chang. Again, we are so sorry for your loss,” Tonk said. She and Harry walked to the front door and closed it shut behind them.
“So, going with ‘the boyfriend did it’ stereotype?” Tonks joked as they walked down the hall, back to the street.
Harry snorted. “No, just because I don’t want to be typical.” Tonks laughed. “But really, we do need to talk to him.”
“Yeah, we can head there now.”
“I agree, but I want to call Hermione first. Maybe she has some new information about cause of death.”
“Alright, make the call from the car.” They left the tall brick building and walked towards the squad car in silence. Harry pulled out his phone and found Hermione in his contacts. He quickly pressed the dial button.
On the third ring she answered, “Harry.”
“Hermione,” Harry said as he opened the passenger side of the car and hopped in, “Any new information?”
“Nothing as of right now, but I am running test for all the normal toxins. I am going to be doing a full autopsy. The body only just arrived.”
“Okay thanks, Hermione. Keep me in the loop.”
“Will do,” Hermione’s line went dead, as she hung up.
“So, nothing new?” Tonks asked as she merged into traffic on the A11.
“No, but Hermione is on it,” Harry said as he placed his phone into his inner jacket pocket.
Tonks snorted. “No doubt. That girl can figure anything out, I swear.”
Harry couldn’t help but agree. Hermione was just as stubborn as he. They both wouldn’t stop until they figured out the answers. Tonks drove along with the flow of traffic, heading towards their next destination. The car was filled with the sounds of radio calls, the usual afternoon chatter for traffic-filled London.
It took them forty minutes to travel from the Chang’s to Michael’s house on Lamble Street. He lived in a small semi-detached brownstone building. Cars lined the street as the two officers parked among the stationary vehicles. Tonks led the way to the front door, ringing the bell. They stood together on the stoop, waiting. No one came.
“Maybe he is at work,” Harry offered, as he looked in the front window. The sitting room was filled with comfortable looking armchairs and bookcases that lined the walls. No signs that anyone was home.
“Most likely,” Tonks nodded. She checked her watch. “It’s half past twelve, so he may even be away from work for lunch.”
Harry scrubbed his face with the palms of his hands. “Okay, how about we go back to The Yard, we can see if we have any information about Corner. Maybe even get his work address and pay him a visit.”
It turned out Michael Corner had no priors, making their search much more extensive. Around two, Harry received a text from Hermione calling him down to her office. He informed Tonks about where he was going and followed the narrow corridors towards the morgue. Hermione’s office was placed before the double door that led into the medical examination room. The harsh smell of chemicals was always strong in this area of the building, making it Harry’s least favorite place to visit.
He knocked on the office door, getting a call to come in. Hermione sat behind a large dark wooden desk, flicking through paperwork. “Harry,” she called as he walked in, “take a seat. I’ve already had the Changs identify the body. It was indeed Cho Chang, but we have some things to discuss.”
Harry did as she said, taking the stiff-backed chair placed in front of her. “Have you found cause of death?”
“Yes, I have,” Hermione’s tone was acerbic, “According to my results, Ms. Chang has been deceased for fifteen hours. I believe she died from milk poisoning.”
Harry felt nonplussed. “What? How was she killed from milk?”
Hermione passed a sheet of paper to him. It showed her assessment after the toxicology screen. Nothing had come back as positive. “Okay,” Harry said slowly, “how does this help me?”
“Well, first off, it shows the death of Ms. Chang was not from a normal drug abuse. After I received those results I checked her stomach contents. She had been eating, she had been receiving water, and she had drunk a lot of milk. I would estimate about ten liters in the last five days.”
Harry nodded his understanding so far, so Hermione pressed on. “I thought it was a little odd to have drunk so much milk, so I tested some of the remaining amount from her stomach. It was laced with ageratina altissima.”
“Okay, pretend I’ve never heard of ageratina altissima,” Harry said, “what is it?”
“It’s from a plant commonly called whitesnake root. It’s from the eastern side of North America.”
“What does that have to do with milk?”
“If a cow eats whitesnake root, its milk becomes a poison of sorts. If drunk in a large quantity it can be fatal, which is what I believe happened here.”
“So, you think she just drank the milk unsuspectingly, then someone dumped her body?”
Hermione gave him an acidic look. “I think someone made her ingest large quantities of milk, knowing it would kill her.”
“How long does it take for this ageratina altissima plant to kill someone?”
“According to my research, two to ten days.”
Harry blinked at her. “So, that would explain the rope marks. She must have been tied up, but if she was missing why didn’t anyone report her?”
Hermione spoke in a deadpanned tone, “Isn’t that your job?”
Harry could prevent a snort from coming out of his nose. “Yeah, you’re right. Thanks, Hermione.”
She nodded at him as he stood up to leave. “Good luck, Harry. I’m going to keep search for anything that may help.”
Harry related the findings to Tonks. She was had been confused by the term milk poisoning as well, but she had nodded when he finished. “Well, that’s kinda dark,” she muttered as she sat back in her chair, “killing people with something everyone drinks.”
Harry ran a hand through his hair. “What I want to know is why she wasn’t reported missing? It takes at least two days to kill someone with ageratina altissima. You would figure someone would have missed her. Her office, her boyfriend, her friends… Someone.”
“We really need to meet this Michael guy,” Tonks claimed with earnestly. She gestured to her computer screen. “While you were with Hermione, I found out where he works. We should head there, maybe we could split up and one of us head to his house.”
Harry agreed, “I’ll go to his office. You take the house again.”
“What do you want to do if he isn’t at either?” Tonks asked grabbing her coat off the back of her chair.
“Hopefully that won’t be an issue, but if it is… we can play it by ear.”
Corner worked at Barclays, one of London’s most popular banks. He was a part of their legal department. When Harry arrived at the headquarters, the receptionist was less than cooperative. She said she was unable to give out any information and Harry would have to speak with a representative. He asked her to call one, and she did, someone she had named Bill.
Harry waited in one of the many stiff-backed chairs around the room. After a quarter of an hour, a tall, red-haired man came out from the employees’ door. His hair was pulled into a long ponytail, and he was covered in freckles. Harry felt like something trickled down his spine. There was something familiar about him.
The man approached with a smile and hand out. “Hello, sorry about the wait. I’m Bill Weasley.” Harry felt a shock as the realization hit him. Weasley. Bill had many similar traits Harry had admired on Ron and Ginny. The freckles alone were damning.
Harry took the outstretched hand. “Hello, Mr. Weasley. I’m Inspector Harry Potter. By chance are you related to Ronald Weasley?”
Bill’s gripped tighten. “Yes, did something happen to him?”
Harry quickly shook his head, making Bill loosen his hold. “No, he isn’t why I’m here. I just ran into him last night at a pub. Him and Ginny.”
Bill let out a relieved sigh and dropped Harry’s hand. “Oh, good. You had me worried there for a second. Yeah, I’m Ron’s oldest brother.” He made a gesture for Harry to follow him through the door he had just exited. Harry followed Bill through winding halls, until they reached a large room. The door was labeled W. Weasley. Bill opened the door and let Harry enter first. They took seats opposite each other, a desk separating them.
“What can I help you with, Inspector Potter?” Bill asked once they both had settled.
“I’m looking for someone from your legal department, Michael Corner.”
Bill started typing on a keyboard in front of him. “Michael Corner,” He muttered, then spoke louder, “Yes, Michael Corner does work here. He is currently away in America, dealing with some translation issues on a contract with one of the companies in the States.” Bill looked away from his screen, towards Harry. “What do you need him for?”
“How long has he been gone?” Harry asked
“It says he’s been gone for a little over a week. He left last Monday.”
“When should he be back?”
“I don’t have the kind of information, Inspector. There is no definite answer. He is there until all the issues are worked out.”
Harry nodded and stood up. “Thank you, Mr. Weasley.”
Bill stood up with him and offered him another handshake. “Out of curiosity, are you the one who Ron pissed on?”
Harry laughed. “He told you about that?”
Bill shook his head with a smile. “No, it was Ginny. She called me last night and told me all about Ron’s night in jail. She claimed she wanted to make me feel better about him missing my daughter’s party, but,” Bill let out a laugh, “she really just wanted someone to laugh with her, and I’m the least likely of the brothers to mock Ron.”
“Yeah, that was me,” Harry admitted laughing with the man, “she did seem to get a kick out of the story last night.”
“Oh, it wouldn’t matter which brother it was, it’s funny to us all. I’m surprised it wasn’t one of the twins.”
“That’s what Ginny told me, too.”
Bill led the way back to the entrance. Once they reached the receptions desk, Bill said, “Here call me if you need anything, Inspector Potter.” He handed Harry a card. “If you like I can give you a call once Corner is on his way back.”
“That would be a huge help, Bill,” Harry handed him his own contact information. “Thank you.”
“Of course, I hope he hasn’t done anything wrong.”
“You and me both.”
Harry called Tonks from his car, explaining what Bill had told him. “Well, fuck,” Tonks cursed through the receiver. “So, we have nothing now.”
“For now,” Harry said, as he watched cars passing him as he remained stationary. It was four in the evening, people were starting to get out of work. They might have plans for dinner or to just lay about their house. “Hermione will have a complete autopsy done by tomorrow, and I figured we could go back to the Chang’s and ask about some of Cho’s friends. Maybe they saw her within the last few days.”
Tonks was silent for a few moments, then said, “That sounds like a good plan, but let’s wait till tomorrow to talk to the Changs. They had enough to deal with today. Another visit from us might throw them over the edge.” Tonks paused again, her breathing the only noise heard through the wireless. “A little dodgy that Michael happens to be in the States, isn’t it?”
Harry grunted his agreeance. “Yeah I would have to agree, but let's not go around assuming. We will wait till he comes back and check out all the links, yeah?” Tonks let out a long sigh but agreed. “Okay, ten in the morning seem like a reasonable time to call upon the Changs?”
“Yeah, that would be fair. Hopefully, Hermione will have everything done before that,” Tonk said with a hopeful tone.
Harry agreed with her and said he would see her tomorrow. He started the car as he hung up the phone. Arriving back to the car park at half past four, Harry decided to leave for the day. He quickly went into his office and made sure he had everything he needed to bring home. The tube was crowded at the center of the city, but as he made his way to the outskirts the train cleared.
He arrived at his flat a forty-five minutes later. Hopping in the shower he started to get ready to meet Ginny for six. Swapping his professional clothes for a casual pair of jeans and a loose fitting button up, Harry was soon walking back towards the station. His watch told him he arrived with five minutes to spare, so he took a seat on a nearby bench.
He tried to wait patiently, but he seemed to check his watch every minute. One minute before six, Harry saw Ginny’s red hair flowing through the many people loitering on the street. She smiled as she reached him. “Hello, Inspector Potter. Can I interest you in some delicious butter chicken curry?”
Harry stood up and returned her grin. “I could be persuaded.” Before he offer his arm, in his gentlemanly fashion, Ginny grabbed his hand.
“I figured it was my turn to be genteel,” her voice dripped with sarcasm, “I wouldn’t want to disappoint my mother, and all that.”
Harry laughed as they started to walk away from the station. “Oh, no,” Harry said making his voice filled with mock surprise, “you figured out your mother’s plot. I was supposed to be undercover.”
Ginny let out an un-ladylike snort. “And don’t you forget it. I can sniff out any plots against me.”
“Are you looking for a new job? I have an opening in the canine unit.”
“Only if I’m at the top of the food chain,” Ginny laughed. Harry followed her example. They continued their ribbing all the way to the restaurant, which was on the ground floor of a small building. The front window had pictures of some of the dishes and an intoxicating smell of spices wafted out the open door.
Harry and Ginny approached the counter. At first Harry didn’t know what he wanted to order, there were so many options that sounded delightful, but that may just have been because he hadn’t eaten since much earlier in the day. In the end he went with the butter chicken, the dish that Ginny had also chosen. Harry, again, paid before Ginny could do anything. They found a table and waited for their order to arrive, all the while chit chatting idly. Finally, after a disgruntled man delivered their food, there was a comfortable silence between the two as they ate. Ginny hadn’t been lying that the butter chicken was incredible.
“So, what happened with Thomas and the other one?” Harry asked as he cut a piece of chicken in half.
Ginny rolled her eyes as she swallowed her food. “It could have been worse. All they did was piss off the barkeep. No fights or taking a married woman back to their place.”
“Does that last one happen a lot?”
“Yeah, actually. As sad as it is, some women will take off their ring when they meet a professional football player. I deal with that situation more than I would like.” Ginny paused as she took another bite of chicken, then said, “What about you? Anything interesting happen on the streets of London today?”
“Well, my ex-girlfriend was murdered, so that’s something,” Harry blurted. It took him only two seconds to realize he should not have done that. “Sorry, can you just pretend you never heard that?”
Ginny was wide eyed, but snorted. “Does that mean you did it, and you don’t want me to say anything? I’m good at keeping secrets. Like I never told anyone Ron use to snuggle with a teddy bear till he was eleven.” She placed a hand over her mouth. “Oops,” she said with mock horror, “forget I said anything.”
Harry couldn’t help but laugh. All those things he had seen in her last night were still there and prominent. She put her hand on top of his, across the table. “Don’t worry I won’t say anything,” she said honestly. “Are you okay? I would think that would be more than a little shocking.”
“Yeah, I’m fine,” Harry let out a sigh. “It’s just, we are already running low on leads and that’s never good within the first twenty-four hours.”
“I would think not,” Ginny said, then she something in her eyes changed. There was a glint that Harry could only place as mischievous, like a cat about to knock over a vase. “So, what was this girl like? Do you have a type I should be worried about?”
He was surprised at her boldness. There was also a bubble of excitement in his gut. Did that mean she had a thing for him, too?
He let out a derisive snort. “If you’re trying to make it so I never talk to you again, she could be your inspiration.”
“Perfect! Is there an instructional audiobook I can buy?”
“Not yet, it’s going to be released within the next week,” Harry spluttered though his laughter.
“Great, I’ll pre-order when I get home, but until then,” Ginny gave him a radiant smile, “you’re stuck with me, too.”
“I’m okay with that.”
They finished their meal and walked back towards the Sudbury station. Again, their hands were adjoined naturally and they were talking back and forth with ease. Once they reached the bench where Harry had sat earlier they, again, stood and did nothing. Just like last night, Harry didn’t want to leave Ginny’s company.
“Have you seen Sherlock?” Ginny asked. She was looking at him, a small smile gracing her lips.
“No,” Harry admitted, “but a lot of people rave about it.”
“So, I’ve heard,” Ginny claimed, “I was thinking about watching it for the first time tonight on Netflix’. If you would like, maybe we could lose our Sherlock virginities together.” He stared at her for a few moments before she continued, “That isn’t an invite for anything else, mind you, but think it’s a shame that two of England’s finest haven’t seen such a revolutionary show.” Ginny placed her hand over her heart as if it hurt her.
Harry chuckled. “I guess that depends.”
“Do you have ice cream?”
Ginny choked out a laugh. “Of course, mint chocolate chip.”
Harry let out a happy groan. “Perfect. My favorite.”
Ginny smirked up at him as she guided him in the direction of her flat. “Only the best for you.”
They arrived at Ginny’s flat after a short, five-minute walk, having chatted about everything and nothing. Ginny could help but admire how easy Harry was to talk to. She felt like she could tell him almost anything and he wouldn’t judge, he would just make a sarcastic comment. A man with her own values.
She had never intended to invite him back to her place, but she just was so content in his company that she figured: what the hell. She unlocked the door to her flat, which opened up into a spacious sitting room. “If you start up Netflix, I’ll go grab us each a bowl of ice cream,” she told him handing him a remote from the coffee table. “Just turn on the TV and then turn on the PlayStation. The Netflix app should be the last thing opened.”’
Harry nodded and did as requested, while Ginny entered her small kitchen. There wasn’t much to her apartment. Just a nice sitting room, kitchen, bathroom, and decent size bedroom, but Ginny loved it. It was her first place of her own. Away from all her brothers, away from her mother. It was great.
She dished out two large helpings of ice cream and drizzled chocolate sauce over it, because who doesn’t love chocolate sauce? Grabbing two spoons from the drawer, she headed back out to the sitting room, where Harry was lounging on the couch flicking through her game collection. “See anything you like?” she asked setting the bowl in front of him on the table.
“You have good taste,” Harry said holding down the button to head back over to the Netflix’s app, “LA Noire and the Last of Us are two of my favorite games.”
Ginny took a large spoonful of her slowly melting treat and stuck in her mouth. Once she was over the initial cold she swallowed and said, “I’m not surprised you like LA Noire. How similar is that to real police work?”
Harry took a moment to consider as she took the controller from him and started Sherlock. “It has its moments,” Harry finally claimed, “but I will say not enough people have bar matches, so I can find out where they frequent.”
Ginny laughed and they settled into the show. Something Ginny was always wary about when watching something with new people, was if they were talkers. She personally liked to discuss things that were happening on the screen. In the past she had been shushed and told to stop too many times, so she tried to be quiet when enjoying a film with others.
Harry, it turned out, was a talker too, because when Sherlock suddenly knew everything about John just by looking at him, he let out a low curse in surprise. “How did he do that?”
“You’re the Inspector here, not me. Shouldn’t you know?” Ginny said comically turning her head to the side.
Harry laughed and looked at her. “If only. It would make everything so much easier. Though I will say I have a pretty good internal lie detector.”
“Do you? Care to test it?”
He gave her a cocky, slightly lopsided grin, which Ginny found way too attractive for her own good. “Bring it on, Weasley.”
“Alright, I’ll give you two truths and a lie. You have to figure out the lie,” she paused to think out her claims. “Okay, one: I only bought the mint chocolate chip ice cream because they were out of Neapolitan. Two: I hate the Star Wars series. Three: my favorite album of all time is Night Visions by Imagine Dragons.”
Harry stared at her for a full minute leaning towards her, looking directly in her eyes. They were now sitting close enough she could smell his cologne, a woodsy kind of smell. Like the scent of a cricket bat. She decided at the minute mark to wink at him, making his cheeks turn pink, but he leaned back with a smile. “The first one is a lie,” He claimed with confidence.
“Why do you think that,” Ginny made sure to give nothing away.
“Because no one goes into a store looking for Neapolitan, unless it’s a kid’s birthday party.”
Ginny laughed. “You’re right. That inspectors badge is well deserved.”
Harry chuckled. “That’s how I got the badge, don’t you know. My boss quizzed me on all his favorite ice cream flavors.”
In the last few minutes they had seemed to move closer to one another. They were now sitting facing each other, their knees touching one another, both leaned slightly forward. “Can you tell what I’m thinking right now?”
Harry gave her another lopsided smirk. “I’m not a mind reader, but I bet I can guess.” He put his pointer finger to his temple. “I see a man… devilishly handsome…black hair… snoggable lips.”
Ginny snorted loudly. “Oh, yeah, let me give it a go,” she placed on hand on the side of his face. He leaned instantly towards it. “You are thinking about something… Ah a beautiful temptress… Long flowing red hair, to die for brown eyes. Am I close?”
Harry visible swallowed, making his Adam’s apple bob. “Yeah,” his voice was husky, “right in one.”
Ginny would never be able to figure out who moved first, but the next thing she knew her lips were latched onto his. Her hand combed through that chaotic messy hair, which she had found so incredibly appealing when she saw him for the first time. Harry’s hands were at the back of her head, pushing through her own locks.
Time seemed obsolete as they intertwined with each other. Harry leaned her backwards on the couch, keeping their lips connected. After an unknown amount of time Harry pulled slightly back, placing his forehead against hers. “What happen to ‘not an invite for anything else’?”
“I changed my mind. Any problems with that, Potter?”
“No complaints from me, Miss Weasley.”
Ginny chuckled and pulled his lips back on to hers.
Back to index
Chapter 3: Chapter 3
Author's Notes: Throwing in some twists and turns! Just want to thank Arnel and gryffindormischief for their awesome edits!
A week with no answers was never satisfying. All of Harry’s leads fell flat. He had talked with Cho’s parents again, sought out some of her friends. Not a single one had seen her in the last month. Harry had found out Cho had been recently fired from her job, making it so none of the workers at her old office had seen her either.
It didn’t make sense. Why had no one talked to Cho in a month? Harry remembered her to be rather talkative. Nothing he was interested in, but she still held a conversation. Harry couldn’t imagine her not talking to someone for more than a week. Of course, Harry still hadn’t had contact with the boyfriend, but he had spoken with Bill Weasley often enough to confirm that Corner was still in America.
He and Tonks had set up a whiteboard to try and figure out connecting lines, but there was nothing. Everyone seemed to have a legitimate alibi. Harry felt like everything they did led to another dead-end, something that rightfully angered him. The only thing he had going for him was the fact that he was seeing Ginny on a regular basis.
After that night on the couch, they had come to conclusion that they should continue to have dinners with each other and see where it led, for scientific purposes, of course. Harry had learned so much about her in seven days. She apparently was one of the top football players in her secondary school, she had seen every episode of Grey’s Anatomy, and she had once narrowly dodged being arrested at an underage party during her A Levels.
Harry, in turn, had told her stories about him. He told her about when his uncle’s horrible sister and how her dog had chased him up a tree when he was eight, his explanation of his first kiss had her in tears of laughter, and Ginny had given him the sweetest kiss after he showed her a picture of his parents, who had died when he was only one.
The last one had only been two previous night, but it made Harry feel so much closer to her. After a year of dating Cho, he had never told her that, he never felt comfortable enough with her. With Ginny, everything felt simple. There were no nerves, it was as if he had known her forever.
Now sixteen hours later he was sitting with another woman whom he was comfortable with. Tonks was currently staring at their white board, seemingly trying to will it into giving up an answer. “That plant,” Tonks seemed to be muttering under her breath, repeating the sentence repeatedly. Finally, she turned away from the board and looked at Harry, eyes alight with excitement. “That plant!” She exclaimed.
“That plant?” Harry parroted her. “What about the plant.”
“How did it get here? It’s native to the United States correct?”
Harry nodded. They had this discussion three days ago. Ageratina altissima had become a common word in their office.
“So, plants traveling across countries isn’t that normal, right?”
Again, Harry nodded. Tonks just continued to stare at him with her eyes shining. Harry didn’t want to be the one to bring her down, after days of failed trails, but he didn’t want them to get distracted by this train of thought again.
“But, it would take too long for the plant to travel and still have all its nutrients and be alive. Then it might not have the same effect on the milk, if the cow eats it after it's been plucked from the ground.” Tonks turned her head to the ceiling, disappointment emanating off her. Then suddenly she tilted her neck into place, looking at Harry again.
“What if they are importing the milk?” Tonks sounded exhilarated by her epiphany. “That wouldn’t be extremely common, now would it?”
Harry thought about if for a moment. No, it wouldn’t be normal to import a product they already they had in the country, would it? “Can we get that information?”
“We can try to talk to the Department for International Trade,” Tonks was practically bouncing on her feet in excitement. Harry could feel his own bubbling to the surface.
“Great. You try to reach them. I’m going to give Bill Weasley another call.”
“Another dead-end,” Harry said as he placed two plates down on Ginny’s kitchen table. Ginny was tossing a salad, while her shepherd’s pie baked in the oven. She glanced over her shoulder to look at Harry’s dispirited face.
“Well,” Ginny drawled, as she brought the salad over to the table, “At least you keep gaining leads, right? I bet it would be worse if you had nothing at all.”
“I wouldn’t be much of an investigator if I didn’t at least have some theories, now would I?” Harry’s voice dripped with sarcasm. She came up behind him and wrapped her arms around his waist, pulling him back into her. After such a short amount of time together, Ginny already felt close to Harry. Something that was shocking to her, because usually it took her a while to become comfortable with someone. Somehow, Harry had already wormed his way into her small collection of favorite people.
She placed a kiss on his shoulder blade, through his shirt. “Have you heard anything about the boyfriend?”
Harry shook his head as he seemed to give into her warmth. “No, your brother hasn’t heard anything from him in a few days. Which makes it…”
“Dodgier, you’re right,” Ginny interrupted.
Harry turned in her arms and pressed a quick kiss to her lips. “I was going to say makes it more difficult to get answers, but I like your enthusiasm.”
Ginny grinned at him and returned his gesture, though this time it lasted much longer. The timer for the pie rang throughout the kitchen, drawing Ginny’s attention back to the task at hand. She grabbed a hot mitt and pulled the steaming dish out of the oven. Harry went over to the silverware drawer and pulled out forks and knives.
They took their seats and started to eat, both seeming to be in their own mind. Ginny, for her part, was trying to figure out how to help her new boyfriend. Within a week his case had seemed to flop about more than a seal in a show at the zoo. She didn’t have any experience with crime, other than a couple episodes of Midsomer Murders.
Harry was the first to break the silence. “So, how was your day? Any meetings with good old Abe?”
Ginny laughed as she speared a tomato. “No, we have gone five days without incident. Making my days rather boring.”
“Is boring good or bad?”
“Good, until noon rolls around and I’ve already played an hour of pinball on my computer.”
Harry nodded his head while laugh. “I can see your predicament. Pinball is only fun for forty-five minutes max.”
“Exactly,” Ginny gave a melodramatic sigh. “But I guess it could always be worse.”
“I could be stuck playing solitaire.”
Harry almost choked on his bite of steak, as he began to laugh. He coughed for a few seconds, then cleared his throat before saying, “You’re right it could be worse.”
Ginny gave him a grin and nodded with mocking seriousness. “You should get use to saying that. Next time make it easy on yourself and just say ‘yes, dear.’”
“And they say you can’t train an old dog to do new tricks,” Ginny laughed and stood up from the table, grabbing his and her empty plates. When she walked by Harry she gave him a kiss on the cheek. Ginny decided that her way of helping Harry was by distraction. He needed to remember there was more to life than his case, she didn’t want it to consume him.
She could tell Harry was the kind of person who would wrapped himself so tightly in something he wouldn’t be able to anything but the all-consuming issue. Placing the used dishes on the counter, she started to fill the sink with soap and water. The water had only just reached optimum temperature, when two arms encircled her waist and a warm kiss was placed on her neck. Ginny tilted her head to side to give the mouth more access. Hot breath was next found right at her ear. “Leave those for me later. Right now, I say we go finish Sherlock, maybe even start another show?”
“Hmm, and what show, pray tell, did you have in mind,” Ginny muttered as she leaned into Harry’s body tipping her neck so she could see him slightly better.
Harry pressed a kiss to her jaw and then her cheek. “Does it matter?”
“You have a point there. Maybe we should re-watch Sherlock and find out what has happened from season two on?”
“Whatever you would like.”
“Only the best for me, huh?”
Ginny laughed and turned in Harry’s arms and gave him a proper kiss. Then she retreated and went over to the fridge and grabbed two beers. She popped the tops off on the side of the counter, handed Harry one, and led the way to the sitting room.
Harry woke to his phone ringing. Trying to quickly blink the sleep from his eyes, Harry looked at the caller ID-- Bill Weasley. Hastily he slid the bar over to answer the call. “This is Potter.”
“Hello, Detective Inspector Potter, it’s Bill Weasley from Barclays. I just wanted to let you know that Mr. Corner should be back by half past one this afternoon.”
Harry nearly let out a sigh of relief. “Great, thank you, Mr. Weasley.”
“No problem, let me know if you need anything else.”
“I will. Have a good day Mr. Weasley.”
“You as well.” Harry hung up the phone and texted Tonks to tell her the news. He checked the clock on his bedside table. It was ten minutes past seven in the morning. His intentions were to leave for nine so, he decided to get up and take a shower. By the time he finished cleaning Tonks had responded with confirmation that she would meet him at Barclays at half past one later that day.
Outside the window, rain poured down sideways. That ruined any ideas of going out for a jog. He texted Ginny, hoping she might be up and want coffee. For once, luck seemed to be on his side because Ginny responded almost immediately, saying that she had just started brewing a pot.
“Of course, only the best brand for you,” Ginny texted, “Tesco.”
Harry sent a message telling her not to drink it all, he would be there in fifteen minutes. He grabbed his wallet and keys from the table next to the front door, and donned his rain jacket.
As he locked his door behind him Ginny sent another message. “Yes, dear,” making Harry snort as he pulled the cowl of the jacket over his head. The rain chilled him to the bone within the first minute of walking, so by the time he arrived at Ginny’s flat he wanted to curl up next to a fire and cradle his cup of coffee.
Ginny answered the door at the first knock. “Hello there,” she looked him over leaning against the door frame. “Wow and here I thought it was a bright sunny day.”
“Ha, ha,” Harry said with a humorless tone, but his smile ruined the act. “Care to let me in?”
“Do you have a warrant?”
“No, but I do have witty personality and charming smile.”
“Oh, I do swoon over a pretty smile. Do come in,” Ginny moved out of the doorway. She headed into the kitchen and came back with a steaming mug of intoxicating liquid. “Here you go, your new lord and savior.” She handed him the mug and together they walked over to her couch.
Ginny picked up her own mug from the coffee table set in front of them. “What’s your plan today big, bad, Inspector?”
Harry took a sip of the hot liquid, slightly burning the roof of his mouth, but considered it worth the warmth spreading through his body. “Your brother finally called to tell me Corner will be back later today. So, Tonks and I will meet there this afternoon.”
Ginny gave him a cheery smile. “That’s great!” She held up her mug in a cheers motion. “Here’s to hoping he has some answers.”
They knocked mugs together with a satisfying noise. Harry took another swallow of his drink. “Even if he can just enlighten us about why Cho hadn’t spoken to anyone in so long, it will be better than nothing.”
Placing her mug down on the table, Ginny turned her body so she was facing Harry better. “What happens if you can’t find any more leads?”
Harry copied her motions. He then ran a hand through his hair, making it even messier than before. “Well, as bad as it sounds without any leads we are basically trapped in a corner of a pit, attempting to claw our way out.”
“Bloody hell! So, what, you just keep hoping for some new evidence to come in? Do you just sit around waiting?”
Harry snorted. “Sorry, I don’t get to play pinball at work. No, I place it as a temporary unsolved case and then work on other cases. Then, if something new comes it, I get to reopen the original case and try to find the answers. “
Ginny picked up her mug again and nursed it. “I’m guessing you hate doing that?”
He gave her a startled smile. “How did you guess that?”
“You’re not that hard to read there, Potter,” Ginny claimed with a dismissive wave, “You don’t like leaving things unfinished. You like having the answers.”
Harry gave he a bashful smile, but nodded. “Some say I get slight obsessed, but what’s the point of doing something half-arsed?”
Ginny let out a melodious laugh. “You got that right.” She looked down at her watch. “I need to leave in an hour, but I have to take a shower first. Feel free to stay and watch something.”
Giving her a coquettish smile, Harry leaned forward and breathy asked, “Do you need a hand? I’m more than willing to come in to help.”
Letting out a throaty laugh, Ginny ruffled Harry’s already disheveled locks. “Oh, I think you’ve already had a shower, but,” she let her voice drop, “if you were to cook us dinner tonight I might be willing to…” she moved in close and whispered into his ear.
Harry’s felt his cheeks turn the color of Ginny’s hair as she pulled away smirking. “So, six o’clock work for you?” he croaked. Ginny chuckled and nodded, then headed into the bathroom. Harry turned on the television and watched the morning news, trying to ignore his thoughts about the currently disrobing red-headed temptress just a mere doorway away.
Suddenly the sound of the water from the bathroom was louder, as Ginny opened the door slightly and threw her knickers in Harry’s general direction, amazingly, having it land right in his lap. “Just a preview,” Ginny called as she shut the door again.
Taking the lacy black cloth in his hand, Harry laughed. Bloody hell, was he ever looking forward to six o’clock.
Tonks was standing underneath a shaded part of the building when Harry approached. He had on his black standard issue raincoat. “Ready?” he asked once he reached her. She checked her pocket watch. It was exactly half past one. Normally, she would have given the Michael more time to settle, but they needed answers.
She nodded at her partner and together they walked in through the double glass doors. Harry approached the receptionist, having already been acquainted before. She called Corner and told the pair to wait chairs placed in the room. Within five minutes Michael came out from the employee door. He was scrawny with short, clean dark hair.
“Hello, I’m Michael Corner,” his voice was slightly posh, as he held out his hand.
Harry shook the man’s hand. “Hello, I’m Detective Inspector Potter and this is my partner Detective Inspector Tonks.” Tonks shook Corner’s hand as well. “We are here to discuss an open case with you, if you have an office?”
Corner nodded and led the way through the employee door. It was a short walk to his small office. There was no window inside the room, but a decent size desk with two straight back chairs placed in front of it. A leather luggage set sat in the corner.
Michael took the seat behind the desk and gestured for the Inspectors to sit in the two before him. “So,” his voice was nervous, “what can I help with? I’ve been in The United States for the last few weeks, so I do not have much knowledge to what has been happening around here.”
Tonks nodded at Harry, gesturing for him to talk. “Mr. Corner,” Harry said, making eye contact with the legal guide, “I’m afraid that the body of Cho Chang has been discovered eight days ago.”
Tonks stared at Corner’s eyes. The light that had been illuminated in the hazel orbs seemed to die. An honest reaction, if you asked her. He seemed to pale as well. “W-w-what do you mean been discovered?” His voice seemed to raise an octave higher as it trembled.
“Miss Chang was found deceased in Whitehorse Road Park. We currently have no one in custody, but we are hoping you may have some information about Miss Chang’s lifestyle in the last month.” Harry kept his voice candid.
Michael was taking deep breaths, trying to keep his composure. “Whatever I can do to help.”
Harry nodded and took out his notebook. Tonks did the same with her phone. “When was the last time you spoke to Miss Chang?” Tonks asked. She decided to keep it simple, something that could help him get his head back on straight.
“Uh, about three weeks ago… maybe three and a half. We had a fight before I went off to America,” Corner had started to run a hand through his hair, making it nearly as messy as Harry’s. “She was annoyed at me for not showing enough dedication in the relationship… maybe I didn’t, but anyways, she wanted to get married. I wasn’t ready…” he paused to collect himself before continuing, “I wasn’t ready then, but when I was in America I realized I-I did want to marry her. I bought a ring while in New York…” Michael seemed to have a lump in his throat as he opened his mouth, but was forced to close it.
“I’m sorry, Mr. Corner,” Tonks apologized, but pressed on, “Do you know why she hadn’t been talking to any of her friends?”
Michael gave a slow nod. “Yeah, she was embarrassed about losing her job. She didn’t want anyone taking pity on her or something.”
Tonks saw Harry give a slight nod, seeming to acknowledge Cho would behave as such. Harry then asked, “Had she been behaving oddly?”
After a couple of blinks Corner nodded. “To be honest, yes. She had been going out more… spending a lot of time at some club.”
“A club?” Tonks asked, vigorously taking notes, “do you know the name of the club?”
“She called it The Ministry, but I don’t know if that is its real name.”
“Great, thanks, Michael. One final thing, did Cho ever talk about someone disliking her?”
Michael let out a small snort and shook his head. “The only person Cho complained about was my ex-girlfriend, who I haven’t seen in like six years. As far as I know Cho never met her, but she was constantly paranoid about her, claiming she was afraid she would steal me back. So, really no.”
“What’s your ex’s name?” Harry asked. “We want to check any lead. It’s possible your ex could have been doing something without your knowledge.”
Michael shrugged. “I doubt it. I met her in uni and we only went out for a year. She thought I was sexist and I thought she shouldn’t focus so much on football, but we split amicably.”
“Her name, Michael,” Harry requested again.
“Ginny Weasley.” Tonks saw Harry give a little start and nearly drop his pen. Giving him a curious look, Tonks tried to silently question her partner. Did he know this Ginny Weasley? Harry gave nothing away so Tonks turned back to the distraught man.
“Thank you, Michael,” Tonks stood up, Harry mimicked her motion. She pulled out her card and handed it to the man across the desk. “If something comes to your mind feel free to call me.”
Corner nodded. “Can I see her?”
Tonks hesitated with her hand on the doorknob. “We are still running some tests, but once we release her to her parents I’m sure they will be more than happy to let you see her.”
Michael’s head dropped, but he agreed. Harry and Tonks left the office, heading back towards the watery world outside.
“Do you know this Ginny Weasley?” Tonks asked as they reached the entrance.
Harry took in a deep breath. “Yeah… I’m k-kinda seeing her.”
Tonks let out one chuckle, then two, then she was full belly-laughing. Harry watched her with an annoyed look. “That’s great,” she finally said once she had control of herself. “First you dated the victim, and now you’re dating a person of interest.”
For his part, Harry only rolled his eyes. “I’ll look up this Ministry place if you want to go talk to Ginny, though that might be a waste of time because I doubt Ginny even cares that Corner was dating her.”
“And I’m sure you know where I could find her, hm?”
Harry placed his hood over his head, but muttered, “She works at Wembley.”
Tonks arrived at the famous Wembley Stadium in record time. Last time she had been there she had seen Green Day in concert. Now she was here to talk to her partner’s girlfriend, about her ex-boyfriend’s lover… Life loved its ironies.
She received directions to Weasley’s office, no issue. Knocking on the designated door, a pleasant female voice promptly called for her to come in. Tonks entered and did a quick check around the room, as she was trained to do. There was a lounge area with comfortable looking chairs and a couch. Miss Weasley was sitting at her desk, typing rapidly on a phone screen. She looked up and gave a quick smile. “Sit where ever you like.”
Tonks took the chair closest to the door. Weasley placed her phone down on her desk and came over to sit in the other chair. “Sorry about that, just needed to finish that text to the team manager. How can I help you?”
“Hello, I’m Detective Inspector Nymphadora Tonks. I have a few questions for you about an ongoing investigation.”
Ginny looked puzzled, but nodded. “Sure, happy to help, but what can I do?”
“Do you know a woman named Cho Chang?”
“Isn’t she the woman who was found in Whitehorse Road Park?”
“Yes, but did you know her personally?”
“No, never met her… Should I know her?”
Tonks smiled. “Not really, but she was dating your ex-boyfriend, Michael Corner.”
“Michael?” Ginny snorted. “I haven’t seen him since I was in school. Why would I know his girlfriend years later?”
“Cho apparently was afraid you were going to try to quote ‘steal Michael back’.”
Ginny started to cackle. “Why in the name of the hot lord would I want that tosser back? He was a sexist, masochistic git.”
Tonks couldn’t contain her own chuckle. “Michael said you would say something like that.”
“Well, if the shoe fits,” Ginny stopped laughing. “No, I never wanted him back, and we honestly split on fair terms. I didn’t even know he was dating this woman.”
“My partner thought as much.”
A light tinge of pink graced Ginny’s cheeks. “I’m guessing your partner is named Potter?” Tonks tapped her nose in a right-in-one gesture. Ginny laughed. “Why didn’t he come with you?”
“Conflict of interest, but I will say this, you picked a good conflict.”
Ginny snorted and gave her a humorous smug smile. “And don’t I know it.” If Tonks had met Ginny in a pub or at a football match they would have become fast friends.
Tonks’ phone lit up signaling a text. Taking a quick look, she saw Harry had found a place called The Ministry. A dance club near the Thames River, maybe thirty minutes from Westminster Abbey. Harry told her they could meet there. “Alright, Ginny,” she said standing up, “If something changes and you suddenly know Miss Chang, please give me a call.” She handed out her second card of the day.
“Sure thing,” Ginny claimed easily. They shook hands. “You going to be seeing Harry?” Tonks nodded. Ginny’s face lit up with a mischievous grin. “Wanna make him blush?”
“You mean break cold, hard Potter?” Tonks asked. “Hell, yeah!”
“Ask him what he’s is doing at six tonight. I bet his cheeks turn as red as a bus.”
“So, do you know who we’re talking about?” Harry asked the bartender of The Ministry. While he had waited for Tonks to come back from talking with Ginny, which had led to nothing as he expected, he did some basic research on the club. It was a popular place to go, and had been around for only a few years. When Tonks had finally arrived, the pair went onto the deserted dance floor.
There was a man preparing for the crowds behind the bar. Harry asked if he was the regular barkeep. He claimed he was, so Harry asked about the last month. He pulled out a photo of Cho Chang to help the man recognized who they were asking about.
“Actually, yeah.” The man, who called himself Ben, wiped a glass as he talked to them. “She’s martini without an olive.”
“How often did you see her?” Tonks asked excitedly.
Ben placed down the glass and smiled up at her. “At least four times a week. I only work four nights. Sam works the other three.”
“Do you have his number?”
Ben’s smile dropped as his brow furrowed. “Why do you need her number?”
“We are trying to keep track of this woman’s movements over the last few months. Has she been in within the last three weeks?”
“Uh…” Ben thought long and hard. “Yeah, the last time I saw her was three Fridays ago.”
“Was she with anyone?” Harry asked feeling a bubble of thrill from in his stomach. Finally, they were getting somewhere.
The barman scratched his head. “I don’t think so. It’s kinda hard to tell. Someone may come in alone, but leave with someone, you know what I mean?”
Undeterred, Harry pressed on. “That’s fine. Do you have cameras? If we could get an image of her leaving, it would be helpful.”
“My boss will want a warrant of some sort,” Ben admitted with an awkward, apologetic smile.
“Okay, sure.” Tonks’ voice was acerbic, but she gave the barkeep a small smile. “We will be back soon, but until then I would like Sam’s number. What’s her last name?”
Ben took a piece of paper from under the bar and wrote down the phone number. “Sam Fortune.”
Tonks took the paper and shook the man’s hand. “Thanks, Ben.”
Harry pulled out his contact card. “If you think of anything…”
“Of course, have a good night Inspectors.” Ben gave them a cheery wave as they walked to the exit.
Once outside, Tonks paused before entering the downpour, hiding under the large sign. “What do you think?”
“Maybe she went home with someone… I mean, she and Michael were fighting. She wouldn’t be the first or the last to have a one-night hookup.”
“And if she didn’t go home with anyone?”
“Maybe a camera outside picked her up and can give us a little direction.”
“We’re basically blind, Potter.”
Harry couldn’t contain his snort. “I’m used to that. I do wear contacts.”
Tonks laughed. “Okay fair. How about I go make a call for a warrant? If luck’s on our side we should be able to get it for tomorrow. You want to give this Sam woman a call?”
Tonks handed him the slip of paper with the phone number, then looked down at her phone. She looked back at Harry with a smile, that with all honestly, he didn’t like. “Only an hour till six… Ginny told me you have something planned for six tonight. Still have time to make that call?” Harry could feel heat spread up his face like wildfire. “Someone call the fire brigade,” Tonks said gleefully. “Ginny wasn’t kidding, you do look as red as a bus.”
“I’ll go make that call now,” Harry claimed, walking towards his car and trying to ignore the burn of his cheeks, while listening to Tonks laugh.
“Knock, knock,” Ginny’s voice rang through Harry’s flat. “I’ve brought beer.” She let the bottles in the six-pack clatter together. “Where are you, Potter?” Harry came out from the kitchen and leaned against the doorway. “Ah, what’s cookin’, good lookin’?”
Harry made a disgusted face, that was ruined by his twitching lips. “Now that was just bad, but I’ll tell you anyways, beef stew with some toasted Chorleywood bread. A good meal for a rainy day.”
Ginny nodded her head in appreciation and walked towards the kitchen. As she passed Harry, she patted his cheek a few times, his face twisting as if he'd bit a lemon. The aroma of the stew was incredible. Something that Ginny found impressive about Harry was his cooking ability. He could make some amazing dishes. Four days ago, he made treacle treat for pudding, which was to die for.
“So, what’s the plan for tonight?” she asked as she placed the beers on the counter.
“Isn’t dinner and Netflix’s enough,” Harry asked in a mock hurt tone.
Ginny tapped her finger to her chin, as if deep in thought. “It might be too strenuous; you sure you can keep up?”
Harry came and wrapped her in his arms, pressing a kiss teasingly on her lips. “Trust me, darling, I’ll keep on top of things.”
“Good, because I only accept the best.”
He chuckled. “Yes, dear.” Ginny laughed and leaned up and kissed him. She ran her tongue along his bottom lip, eliciting a moan from Harry. Backing them slowly she pressed him against the counter.
“I thought it was dinner, then dessert?” Harry questioned hoarsely as he moved his lips to her neck.
“I’ve never been a stickler for rules,” Ginny claimed as she tilted her neck to allow him better access, her eyes shutting on their own accord. Harry took one hand from her waist and reached for the knob on the stove, lowering the heat to a simmer. Then he returned his hand to Ginny, using it to switch their positions.
“I’m willing to break the rules occasionally, for a good reason,” he told her, keeping his attention to her neck.
“Trust me, this is a good reason,” Ginny assured him, as she grabbed his chin and brought his lips back to hers. Harry moved his hands down to her tailbone and lifted her up allowing, her to wrap her thighs around his waist. Harry carried her towards his room. “I told you cooking for me would be beneficial to you.”
“Yes, dear,” Harry said as he shut the bedroom door behind him.
Back to index
Chapter 4: Chapter 4
Author's Notes: Just want to say thank you to Arnel and gryffindormischief for all their help!
“Come on, Ginners,” Fred all but whined, “tell us who your new boy toy is.” They were at their childhood home, The Burrow. All the Weasley children were sitting out in the garden, enjoying the cool, end of autumn weather, wearing their Christmas jumpers from the previous year. Somehow, they had started on the topic of relationships, due to the fact that the eternal bachelor Charlie, was visiting from Romania. Fred and George claimed there were too many ‘birds’ out there to settle for one. Bill was already married. Percy still wasn’t talking to the family, so his dating habits were unknown. Ron was still with good old Lavender Brown, so that just left Ginny. She had no idea when she let it slip she was seeing someone, but the twins were now interrogating her with their best tactics.
Not that she was going to tell them, but her new “boy toy” had much better technique. “It’s really none of your concern there, Freddy,” Ginny drawled taking a swig from her beer bottle.
“We just want to make sure he is good enough for our precious, little sister,” George claimed, hand over his heart, “What if he can’t protect you?”
Ginny snorted. “Protect me from what? I don’t need any protection.”
“Protection from all those slippery, sneaky snakes that move down the streets of London.”
“I don’t know if you’re trying to make a reference to my childhood fear of snakes, or the actual people of London.”
Fred put an arm around her shoulders. “Can’t it be both?”
Despite herself Ginny laughed. “All right guys, thanks for the concern, but I’m fine. I’ll tell you he is a good guy.”
“Just give us a hint on what he does for a living,” George plead, placing his heads together like he was praying, kneeling in front of her dramatically.
“Don’t make him beg more,” Fred said, mimicking his twin, “It’s pathetic really.”
“We’re all kind of curious, Gin,” Bill claimed from his seat next to his wife, Fleur. Fleur shook her head at all the bothers, but said nothing.
Ginny shifted in her seat awkwardly. If she told her family one fact, they would eventually nag her into telling them everything, and they wouldn’t want to know everything. Especially, her mother. There was no getting around it now though, with all her brothers watching her, waiting. “Fine,” she said slowly, “but I am only willing to answer three questions. No names or questions about how far along our relationship has gone, deal?”
The twins jumped to their feet. “Deal!” they exclaimed as one. Twenty something years later and it was still scary how they did that. They put their heads together and started muttering.
“I’ll ask the first question,” Bill spoke over the twins, “How long have you been dating?”
Ginny had to think about it for a few seconds. It felt like they had known each other forever. That wasn’t accurate though. “A month, maybe a little more.”
Bill nodded his satisfaction. Charlie was about to open his mouth, but George cut him off. “Hold on Charlie, Fred and I have a good one.”
Charlie gave an indignant snort. “You don’t even know what I was going to ask.”
“Probably something about his nature habits or something. No, we have a question that will help to narrow him down,” Fred claimed with exuberance. “What building does he work in?”
Inwardly Ginny sighed. That really did help them narrow things down. “Scotland Yard.”
It was never easy to surprise the twins, but both Fred and George’s jaws dropped. “Your dating a coppa!?” George asked awestruck.
Ron to looked flummoxed as well, but then it was like a lightbulb lit over his head as he glared at his sister. “No way,” he looked irate, as if Ginny had started to date Harry just to annoy him.
“What, Ron?” George turned from his discussion of police jokes with Fred.
“I want the last question,” the youngest son claimed. “Do I know him?” The remaining Weasley brothers all looked at Ron as if he had lost his marbles.
“Don’t listen to him Ginny,” George said, “That’s not our real question. What we really want to know is if — “
Ginny cut off George, never taking her eyes off Ron, “Yes.”
“Say what now?” Fred said stunned. All of Ginny’s brothers looked at Ron, equally stunned. Except for Bill. He was looking back and forth between his sister and youngest brother. Then it seemed to click, he smirked and sat back in his chair.
“You have to tell us who it is!” George cried excitedly. He moved over to Ron and placed his hands on either side of his face. “Come on Ronnie. How do you know Ginny’s new boy?”
Ginny snorted. “Yeah Ron, tell them how you met my new boy.”
Ron glared at his sister, then shook his head. The twins, if anything, looked more thrilled by Ginny’s comment. Again, they spoke in unison, “Now you have to tell us.”
Ron just shook his head again. Ginny smirked. If she was going down at least she was taking Ron down with her. “Alright, well, I’m going home. I have a date tonight,” Ginny stood up from her lawn chair. “Have a good night, boys.”
She walked into the small, but clean kitchen to say farewell to her parents, giving her father and mother each a hug. They told her to visit back soon. “Maybe bring that boy you were mentioning to your brothers,” Molly said innocently.
“Mum, were you eavesdropping?” Ginny asked.
“It’s not eavesdropping, if your voices carry in through the open window, now is it?”
Despite herself, Ginny laughed. The twins received their twisted ways from someone, and it wasn’t Arthur Weasley.
“Good night, Mum,” she called out once more as she walked out the front door, towards the lineup of cars. Her mother cried out asking her for Harry’s shirt size. She hopped into her Volkswagen Polo and started the engine.
It was at least a three-hour drive back to her flat. She said she would meet Harry at half past six. Four hours. ‘Plenty of time,’ Ginny thought to herself as she reversed from her spot and started down the dirt road, back towards the main village.
Harry couldn’t help but be infuriated. It had been a month and three days since Cho Chang had been found dead and every lead they had followed led to nothing. The cameras from the club showed nothing, other than her dancing with a few people. They had all been questioned and said they never even knew her name. All alibis checked out. Cho had left the club alone, so the outside cameras were no help. The other bartender, Sam, claimed she didn’t see Cho during her scheduled time, and the cameras backed up her claims.
Now here they were, stuck with nothing. No more clues, no more suspects. Literally, the well was bled dry. Moody was not happy with the lack of progress. Harry wasn’t either, but Tonks kept a positive attitude. She was optimistic that something would come around, but there had been nothing more. The scene had been examined with a fine-tooth comb, the body had been checked over thoroughly.
As Harry flicked the light to his office off, leaving to head home, his mind drifted to these disappointing thoughts. Ginny wouldn’t let him brood, though. They had plans for the night, and there was no way Harry wanted them ruined by his bad mood.
Never had Harry had a support system like Ginny; typically, he could have just sat in his flat contemplating things and being generally pissed off at the world, but Ginny wouldn’t hear of that. She had been incredible over the last month. Taking him out of his own head, which was something he needed.
Tonight, Harry wanted to make it something slightly special. He had never been one to care about anniversaries, neither was Ginny, but Harry wanted to take her out just because she had been so great. The plan was to head to a nice restaurant and just enjoy their evening, maybe go back to his place after. He didn’t need more than the start to a plan with Ginny. Everything just seemed to flow.
He arrived back at his place with fifteen minutes to spare. Quickly changing into a decent shirt and trousers, Harry started walking to Ginny’s flat. About fifty feet from his destination, Harry spotted a little flower shop.
Just because we’re not making a big deal about it doesn’t mean flowers wouldn’t be nice, Harry thought to himself. He entered the small, yet potent shop. He asked for half a dozen white lilies. Simple yet elegant, just like Ginny. The sales woman wrapped them in a pretty red bow, upon Harry’s request.
Harry arrived at Ginny’s only a few minutes late, but she accepted his apology with a light kiss on the cheek and took the flowers in to the kitchen to find a vase for them. “You really didn’t need to get flowers, Harry,” she said as she cut the stems to fit their new home.
“Yeah, I know, but I wanted too,” Harry told her wrapping her in his arms, from behind, “I’ve been excited for this all day. It was one of the only things preventing me from ripping out my hair.”
“Well, that’s a good thing, because I like your hair.”
“I do, too, so the flowers are a small token to say thank you.”
“If I didn’t know better I would say you were getting sappy on me, Potter.”
Harry pressed a kiss on the side of Ginny’s neck. “And if I was?” he muttered, as he moved slowly up the side of her face.
“Well,” Ginny choked out breathlessly, “I’ll have to mock you.”
Harry continued his ministrations. “Worth it.”
“If you keep this up, we will never make it out of this flat.”
“Again, worth it.”
“Fine, but your cooking later,” Ginny claimed as she grabbed Harry by the hand, leading him away from the kitchen, forgetting all about the nice restaurant.
Whenever Harry’s phone rang before three in the morning, he knew it would be a long day. It just so happened that today was going to be one of those days. His basic jingle went off at a quarter past two, waking both him and Ginny up.
“What’s goin’ on?” Ginny asked in a groggy voice.
“Don’t worry about it,” Harry told her pulling the covers off himself and silencing the ringer, “go back to bed.”
“If you insist,” Ginny said rolling back on to her side. Harry walked out of the bedroom and shut the door behind him before he answered the call. The ID said it was Tonks, meaning one of two things. One she was drunk and wanted to discuss the meaning of life, it happened once, or there had been a development in their case. He could only hope it was the latter.
He slid his thumb over the little green circle and raised the receiver to his ear. “Potter,”
“Wotcher, Harry,” Tonks’ bright tone was lost at such an early hour. “How has your night been?”
“Uh, fine,” Harry’s brain felt extra sluggish on only two hours of sleep.
“That’s good. I’m sure it’s better than this woman’s. We have a twenty-four-year-old dead in Springfield Park.”
“You have that right, mate, but get ready for the kicker. Not a mark on her other than what we think are rope holds on her wrists and letters scrolled across her stomach.”
“Yeah, H, E, T, G. I can’t make any sense of them.”
Harry rubbed the sleep out of his eyes, and shook his head trying to make his brain speed up. “Were the letters written in lipstick, again?”
“No, blue ink. It works well with her skin tone.” There was the sound of someone reprimanding Tonks. “I’m not wrong, Moody. Anyways, I’ll take point from here, if you want to meet at The Yard around five.” Tonks’ voice became muffled, “Can we get her back by five?” There was the sound of agreement. “Yeah, meet at five?”
“Sure, Tonks,” Harry told her. “I’ll be there.”
“Great.” Tonks then paused. “Get another hour sleep next to that charming red-head of your, yeah? For me?”
“See you at five.” Tonks hung up her end of the call. Harry quickly opened his clock app and set an alarm for ten minutes before four, only an hour and a half from now. He went back into the bedroom and saw that Ginny was sitting up, leaning against the headboard.
“What happened?” She asked once he closed the door behind him.
Harry let out a deep sigh. “Another woman found dead in one of London’s many green spaces.”
Ginny blinked once, twice, then a third time, before letting out a low, “Fuck.”
“That’s what I’m saying.”
Ginny gestured for him to come back onto the bed, which he happily did. She wrapped her arms around his neck, using her knees to keep level with him. “When do you need to be in by?”
He leaned in resting his chin on top of her head. “Five.”
“Well, then, you need some sleep. Do you have an alarm set?” Harry removed his tired head from his resting spot and nodded. “Okay, then, let’s try to get a little more sleep.” She tilted their bodies so they were laying wrapped in each other’s arms. Ginny pressed a quick kiss to his lips, then removed her arms from his neck and turned so her back was snug against his chest. Harry draped one arm over her waist and the other pillowed her head.
Normally Harry would have just stayed awake after a call like that, maybe do some pushups or watch early morning television. Oddly though, he felt able to fall back asleep. Typically, his mind would have been reeling, unable to settle down, but there he was drifting away from reality instead of making assumptions and overthinking what could be. No, Ginny fooled his workaholic mind, something he could get used to.
“I’ve already started to search her through all our data bases,” Tonks said as Harry hung his coat on the back of his chair. “If she has so much as stole a piece of gum we will find her.”
“Only if she was caught,” Harry reminded her with a wide yawn.
Tonks shrugged. “Fine, hopefully she was caught.” She handed him her phone. The screen was set to a photo of a woman with black braided hair. Maybe long enough to reach the small of her back, unwrapped. She was pale, and looked slightly blue in the lighting.
“That’s what she looked like when I arrived on scene,” Tonks told him. She reached over and flicked the screen. It now showed the girls torso. Written in large blue block letters were the letters H, E, T, G. The letters were written up her stomach and above her breasts. They looked as if they were taken from a child’s stencil.
“It looks like it was a magic marker…” Harry felt baffled. “Why the hell did they use magic marker?”
“Why did they write seemingly four random letters, I have no clue.” She looked around his office, as if she was afraid of being overheard. “Do you think this is the same person who killed Chang?”
Harry tilted his neck till it cracked. “I don’t know. I don’t want to assume -”
“Half of our job is assuming.”
“But the MO is so similar. It could be a copycat, but we never released any details about the writing or what killed Cho. We need to wait till we get the autopsy results back. When does Hermione think she will be done?”
Tonks gave a small shrug. “She says by nine, if and I quote ‘everyone leaves her alone’.”
“Okay, so while we wait for Hermione we should check if anyone with this Jane Doe’s description has been reported missing within the last few weeks.”
Harry took South of Manchester, while Tonks took North. It was dull and grueling work, searching through all the missing persons. The new deceased didn’t have many distinct features, such as tattoos or piercings. She was average build and normal hair color.
Hour after tedious hour passed until nine rolled around and neither Tonks norHarry had found a name for the woman. Harry was about to head out for a leg stretch, maybe buy a cup of coffee from one of the café’s down the way, when Hermione texted him an invite to come and check over the body with Tonks. Grateful for any hard facts, Harry responded immediately, claiming he would come down.
Tonks decided to join him in the cold morgue. When they arrived, Hermione was standing over the woman. A cloth draped over her midsection. Her legs, arms, and head exposed. “Hello,” Hermione called as they walked through the heavy double door.
“How are you, Hermione?” Harry asked politely.
“I’m fine, thank you.”
“Better than her at least,” Tonks muttered to Harry, leaning in close to him as she pointed at the dead body.
Harry bit the inside of his lip to avoid laughing. “What do you have for us, Hermione?”
“Well, we have a twenty-four-year-old female. Cause of death milk poison, same as the Chang case. I would say she has been deceased for eight hours, maybe nine. She must have only been in the park for an hour before she was discovered. Who discovered her?”
Tonks let a snort. “A couple of randy teenagers. They snuck out of their houses to meet in the park and find a nice quiet spot, instead they found our lovely lady. They were more than a little freaked out when I questioned them.”
“I would be, too, if I was just trying to get stiffy and instead I found a stiff.”
“Harry,” Hermione cried in indignation while Tonks laughed.
“Sorry,” Harry said, though honestly, he wasn’t sorry at all. “Anyways, can you tell us anything about the writing?”
“Yes. I sent a sample to our lab for scrutiny, and it’s just a regular marker. Something a child might use to color with.”
“Wasn’t that a little risky?” Tonks asked.
“What do you mean?” Harry turned towards his partner.
“Well, clearly this is meant to be a message, right?” Harry nodded his agreement. “Okay, what if the body hadn’t been discovered within an hour. The writing could have been washed off, maybe by rain or morning dew.”
“You make a fair point, Nymphadora,” Hermione said, while Tonks glared at the brown-haired woman for the use of her first name. If Hermione noticed, she showed no signs as she pressed on, “They may have been keeping an eye on the area.”
“So, you’re saying,” Harry spoke slowly, making sure he was connecting everything correctly, “that our killer possibly watched the body, in the dead of night, till two kids trying to get a leg over showed up?”
“In layman terms, yes,” Hermione had a faint blush on her cheeks, but she stood straight.
“I have such a twisted sense of humor, I kinda find that funny.” Tonks placed three fingers to her temple. “I’m just imagining a man in a mask standing behind a tree as those kids are snogging up a storm as they fumble through a field in the middle of London.”
“Thanks for that image, Tonks,” Harry said sarcastically.
She grinned. “You’re welcome. My mum taught me sharing was caring, so I care for you and all that.”
Harry couldn’t prevent his snort from ringing through the deathly quiet room. Hermione looked scandalized, as she said, “Really now. Any other real questions?” Both inspectors paused to think about the request, then as one they shook their heads. “Alright, if I find any other useful information I’ll text you. Good luck.”
“It just doesn’t make sense,” Tonks complained as she spun her chair in a circle. They had been going over all the facts they had about Jane Doe for the last three hours, but nothing had come of it. They had Hermione’s facts about cause of death, but there were no particles on her skin to show where she had been before the park. All they could make were assumptions. Tonks had been joking about it early, but that was half of the job, really all of the job today. “What is with those letters? The number one was semi-hidden. Those letters were bold and right in your face.”
Harry leaned forward, resting his elbows on his desk while he placed his head in his hands. “It’s like we’re playing a game… Almost like hangman. We know the letters, but we don’t know how many spaces there are.”
Tonks dug her heels into the floor, stopping her repetitive motions. “Wait,” her eyes were alight, with the look of thrill she had whenever she made a connection. Harry lifted his head to look at her. “Maybe that’s what’s going on. Maybe the killer is spelling something out to us.”
“With letters and a number?”
“Yeah, maybe their name… or a place.” Tonks started rubbing her hands together.
Harry shook his head. “You may be right, but that means that more people are going to turn up dead, at least till we reach the end of his message or find them.”
Tonks ran her hands through her short, colorful hair. “We’re stuck playing their game…”
A knock at the office door, pulled them out of their miserable theory. “Come in,” Harry called. Ginny Weasley opened the door, looking slightly apprehensive. She was holding a bag of something that smelt delightful.
Harry jumped out of his chair to greet her. He gave her a quick kiss on the cheek. “What are you doing here? Did we make plans?”
Ginny shook her head, her red braid swinging with the motion. “No, I just figured you would be too busy to think of food today and I was in the neighborhood.”
“You’re incredible,” Harry claimed giving her a smile that Tonks would only describe as “love drunk”.
“Tell me something I don’t know,” Ginny smirked. Then she turned to look at Tonks. “I assumed you would be here as well, Tonks, so I got enough to feed an army.”
Tonks laughed. “Harry’s right, you are incredible. If you weren’t already dating this git,” she pointed her thumb at Harry, “I would try to get with you myself, well, that and if I swung that way.”
Harry looked at Tonks flabbergasted, but Ginny laughed and said, “If I did swing that way, you would be at the top of my list, Tonks.”
“It’s the hair, isn’t it?”
“That, and your sexy body.”
Tonks snorted and went over to the little couch and armchair tucked in the corner of the office. “Well, come sit down. I’ll let you love birds share the couch.”
Harry flushed while Ginny laughed. They sat down and Ginny pulled Chinese cartons from her magical bag. “I got a variety of things, so take what you want,” Ginny told them. Tonks was more than happy to take the spicy noodles. In a compatible silence they ate their food.
When Tonks was on her third spring roll, Ginny decided to break the silence. “So, you guys looked stressed when I walked in, is everything okay?”
“Other than another murdered woman, I’m hunky-dory,” Tonks said her voice oozing with sarcasm.
Ginny snorted. “Is this case better than last time?”
“If you mean we have leads, then no. We have no name for her. We can’t find her in missing persons and Harry didn’t date her, so we’re up a creek without paddle.”
Harry let out an indigent noise, while Ginny raised her chopsticks in a mock salute. “Amen to that, sister.”
“Is this my life now?” Harry asked to no one in particular. “You two teaming up against me?”
“Yeah, we don’t want you getting a big head there, Potter,” Ginny smiled at him and pressed a quick kiss to his cheek. “Well, I have to leave. I have a meeting in thirty minutes. I’ll leave all this here with you guys,” she gestured to the leftover food. “In case you want to nosh on something later.”
“Oh,” Tonks threw her head back. “Leave him for me, Ginny, my darling. You’re too good for him.”
“Sorry, Tonks, sweetheart, but I’m going to keep Harry around for at least a little longer. You’ll be my first call after though.” Ginny grinned at Tonks and grabbed her bag.
“I’ll walk you out,” Harry offered as he went beside Ginny. “I’ll be back in five minutes, Tonks.”
“Pish, I know you’re going to go snog for like ten minutes in some deserted corridor, so see you in fifteen.” Tonks stood and started to close all the remaining containers.
Harry blushed, but Ginny took it in stride. “Well, now make it twenty, just for your cheek.”
“And not a minute more.”
Harry pulled off his glasses and rubbed them on the hem of his shirt. “How is that after ten hours we still don’t even have a name.”
Tonks scratched her ear. “She wasn’t a criminal. She hasn’t had anyone come looking for her. There is nothing more we can do. We’ve already gone over the scene ten times. Harry,” she leaned in close, “what the fuck are we goin’ do?”
Violently he shoved his glasses back on his face. “I really don’t know. She was dropped in basically a dead zone. No cameras nearby. Without any idea of who she is, we can’t try to retrace her steps. All we have is an assumption that she killed by the same person as Cho.”
“Assuming makes an arse out of you and me, mate,” Tonks muttered annoyed.
“That’s half our job,” Harry mocked. He continued to scroll through reports. Missing people, possible incidents from the previous few weeks. Anything that might have some sort of connection with their victim.
“Is that why most people dislike us?”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about. I’m lovable.”
“Whatever helps you sleep at night, Potter.”
“That would be a red-headed woman and nice sheets.”
Tonks snorted and sat back in her chair. “Nice. Anyways, is there any connection between the two places? Whitehorse and Springfield.”
“I’ve already told you, no. The only linking factor is the fact that they are both green spaces.”
Tonks let out a low moan, “Fuck!”
“You can say that again,” Harry moaned as he slumped in his chair. Then his phone started to ring. He checked the caller ID before answering. It was Moody. He put the receiver up to his ear, “Hello, sir.”
“Potter,” Moody’s voice seemed gruffer over the phone, something Harry didn’t think was possible. “I have a name for your girl.”
“Really, sir!” Harry sat up from his slumped position in excitement.
“Yeah, but don’t get to eager. It turns out it the niece of one of our own, Amelia Bones.”
“Shit,” Harry said before he could stop himself, “you mean — “
“Lead to our legal department, yeah. She has gone down and identified the body. The girl’s name was Susan Bones. You and Tonks need to solve this case fast.”
“Yes, sir.” Moody hung up the phone before Harry even finished his sentence.
“What’s going on?” Tonks asked. She had put her laptop to the side so she could focus on the Harry’s call.
“We have a name. Susan Bones.”
“Bones, as in…”
“Amelia Bones, one in the same. She was Susan’s aunt.”
“Holy shit,” Tonks muttered under her breath, “when can we talk with Amelia?”
“As soon as you make an appointment.”
Susan Bones lived near Tower Bridge on a little street called Jacob Street. Her first-floor flat was in a brown-stone building with little to no parking. It was small, but comfortable with only three rooms; bedroom, toilet, and sitting room with a small kitchen area. Susan kept it organized, it was obvious from the minute Harry walked it.
It wasn’t unnaturally clean or anything, but everything was in the correct place. Almost to a point of compulsion. Movies were alphabetized, books were kept in order of series, and bins were color coordinated for knick-knacks.
Amelia had explained about her niece. Susan had worked for tech company, working on software for select apps on mobile phones. She was well liked, according to her aunt, but that made Harry question why no one reported her missing. They knew milk poisoning took time, so why had no one tried to talk to Susan in that time?
They started their search in the sitting room, finding nothing out of the ordinary. The loo was the same, organized and standard. It was the bedroom where they saw a sign of defect in Susan’s normality. Shopping bags lay across the bed. Something completely average for most, but not someone as ordered as Susan.
“She must have been in a hurry,” Tonks said examining the contents of the bags labeled with the store brand. Nothing odd, just some new blouses and socks. Something you could pick up from any department store. “Everything else in the flat is placed meticulously. I have a feeling that she wouldn’t leave something out of order unless there was no other option.”
“I think so too. Maybe someone followed her? Maybe she was frightened,” Harry started making speculations.
“Yeah possibly. We need to head over to store and see if something happened when she was there.”
“We’re going to have a lot of footage to go through,” Harry told her, “We have no idea when she was there shopping.”
“Actually, I bet we will have a date and a time.”
Harry looked at her puzzled. “How?”
Tonks groped around in the bags, searching for something. Then her face lit with triumph, as she pulled out a long piece of paper. “Sales people love to throw your receipt right into the bag,” Tonks smirked at Harry as she looked over the paper. “Ah, wicked. This says she was there a week and a half ago at two in the afternoon.”
“That’s more than enough to get a search warrant for that day.”
“You make the call, Potter. I’ll go warm up the car.”
Harry leaned back in his chair as he watched the footage from the T.K. Maxx for the fifth time. Susan had appeared on tape a total of seven times. Most of it was just her debating an item. This pair of jeans or the one of almost the same color.
He and Terry Boot sat with the head of the tech wing, as he guided them through the many shoppers. Only two moments stood out to Harry. One when Susan was re-folding a blouse a man had walked over to her and asked her something. She had responded with a kind expression and the man shook her hand and left. From the white hair they had to assume it was an older gentleman and without audio there was no way to know what was asked. It didn’t help that the man has his back to the camera the whole conversation and then walked away from the camera. They had tried to follow his route though the store, but he had seemed to disappear from any other camera.
The other moment had been when Susan had returned from one of the fitting rooms, as she walked back towards the clothing racks. A couple had stopped to talk to her. Susan had a frown on her face the entire conversation, but responded to them. This was after the man had asked his question. Twenty minutes later she left the store.
“We need to see if we can’t figure out who that couple is,” Boot said as he chewed the top of his pen.
“And that man,” added Harry, “we should try to figure out who he is as well. How did he not appear on any more cameras? Even when he left the building he should have been caught on one.”
“Are there any other exits?”
“Not for customers,” Harry said. He had asked the manager for a layout of the store. “There is a back door that employees use to take out garbage, but he would have been picked up on that camera as well.”
“There was that woman nearby when that couple stopped Susan,” Boot said as he pointed to the screen before them. While the man and woman talked to Susan, another shopper had passed them. “Can we try to talk to her?”
“Yeah, you head back to the talk to the store manager. See if you can’t get any information about her from her payment method. Then we will contact her and ask some questions.”
“Sure thing, Boss.” Boot rose from his chair and left. Harry continued to stare at the screen, watching in silence as people just walked around Susan, not even noticing her. It was odd to think about, but this woman was going to be found dead in a week and a half after this video taken. These people could have possibly been the last people to have ever seen Susan Bones.
Back to index
Chapter 5: Chapter 5
Author's Notes: Huge thank you to Arnel and gryffindormischief for checking over this chapter… well every chapter so far. Their ideas and comments help a whole lot.
“According to everyone’s descriptions, Susan was almost a hermit. She didn’t go out drinking or to parties. She would stay home and play games or read. She had many friends on her PlayStation account, but most have never met her in person,” Harry muttered under his breath. He had constructed a chart on a large cork board photos and pieces of paper with facts across the landscape. Not only did Harry have Susan Bones information, but he had added Cho Chang’s as well,re-reading it for what felt like the hundredth time.
Though technically the cases weren’t confirmed to be linked, both Tonks and Harry had agreed that the likelihood of having two killers use milk as their weapon was unlikely. How many people could be sneaking in a poisonous concoction from North America?
He'd set the board up in his office which meant infinitely more foot traffic though the sparse room as everyone came to look at least once. Many suggestions came out of the numerous investigative minds. Some thought the markings were a distraction. Others thought the killer was going to leave a message in the stomach contents. That was where Tonks drew the line. “That would just be sick.”
“And killing people by making them over-drink milk, isn’t?” Harry had asked when she had exclaimed her disgust.
Now here they were, a week later working on finding any and all connections. There were some small things, the unity of the lettering on both bodies, the discovered locations and how the body was positioned. It was the lack of connection between the girls that confused Harry the most.
Typically, a killer would have a trait… a rhyme to who they choose, but Cho and Susan were nothing alike. Cho an outgoing woman who enjoyed parties and dancing. Susan a homebody who enjoyed playing video games. They didn’t go to the same pubs, they weren’t from the same neighborhood, there seemed to be nothing linking them together.
“I feel so useless stuck in here, just looking at that board over and over again,” Tonks groaned for the third time that day. “We’ve looked over all the facts we have, and nothing has made a connection. Harry, we should come up with something else.”
Harry wheeled around to look at his partner. “Like what? We can’t patrol the streets, we don’t know what we are looking for. We can’t place a stake on a building because we have no hint to where the next strike may be. I don’t know what else to do,” he didn’t yell, or sound mad, just tired.
“I know!” Tonks, however, did raise her voice. She was clearly aggravated, not with him just the situation. She looked down towards her feet and repeated herself, “I know. I’m just going spare here, mate.”
“Well, I’m not particularly chuffed about it either,” Harry reminded her as he sat on the loveseat in his office.
Tonks had placed herself in the armchair, knees brought up to her chest. “We need something soon, but nothing is panning out. That couple in the store, nothing! They just turned out to be ‘old family friends’, and Amelia confirmed it. That man… that man we can’t find him anywhere. No one saw an elderly gentleman near her.” Tonks placed her head down onto her knees, making her voice muffled, “We have nothing again.”
Tonks was usual the glass half full person and watching her slowly turn to the dark side made Harry snap into action. He jumped from his seat and stared intently at the cork board. “There must be something linking the two girls,” Harry had taken to muttering a lot within the last few weeks. “Something…” He went over to his desk and placed Cho’s and Susan’s files right next to each other.
Susan grew up near Leeds, while Cho was from the South side of London. Cho worked for a book publishing company… Susan a tech. Cho graduated from the University of London, and Susan went to the Imperial College in London. The last location Susan was spotted in was a retail store, while Cho was last noticed in a club. Harry was tempted to push the papers from his desk in frustration. Nothing on their files were correlating, unless someone had an issue with London universities.
Tonks, who had been silent though all of Harry’s searching finally lifted her head and said, “We’re stuck playing their game, Harry, and there is no telling what this person is going to do next.”
Harry wanted to object. He wanted to deny how lost they were, but he couldn’t. They seemed to be stuck at the bottom of a pit with a grate placed over the top. They could see the light, but there was no way out and their masked culprit was pouring water all around them, rapidly eating up space and air.
“So, Moody has decided me and Tonks need a break. To take some time and come back with a clear head. In other words, a mandatory holiday,” Harry took a sip of his pint, feeling the condensation on his fingertips. He and Ginny were sitting at a table in one of the local pubs near their flats, forgoing a home cooked meal in favor of something hearty and professionally prepared since both had had a long day. Ginny had dealt with a slight, possibly career ending, scandal for her keeper, while Harry was still unable to make any progress on his case a fortnight after the second murder.
“Maybe it’s not such a bad thing,” Ginny tried to console him. “I mean how long has Moody been working in this field?”
“Since before I was even a thought, as he tells me often.”
Ginny let out a small laugh and continued her train of thought, “So, he might know a thing or two. Take a break come back with a clear and fresh mind. Sometimes your best conclusions come when you’re not trying hard to think of them. Besides he’s going to have someone else continuing to work up the case, right?”
Harry nodded and let out a deep sigh. “I know… It just sounds much better coming out of your mouth, as opposed to Moody’s.”
“Well, I’m sure that’s true about a lot of things.”
Harry shrugged and picked up a chip moodily. Ginny rolled her eyes, but let him have a minute to brood. When she had enough of his sulking, she reached across the table and thumped him on the back of the head.
“Ow!” Harry complained as he rubbed his injury.
“Well,” Ginny insisted sitting back, “you’re being ridiculous. Just listen to Moody. Take the week, go somewhere nice, maybe somewhere with a beach. Get a nice tan, so that way I can admire that scorching body of yours.”
Despite himself, Harry laughed. “Yes, dear.”
Ginny smirked and grabbed his free hand and held it. “Good, now that is settled, do you want pudding? I’m really feeling a sticky toffee.”
“It’s not quite settled,” Harry claimed with sudden inspiration.
She shot him a quizzical look. “What do you mean?”
“Well, I don’t really want to sit on a beach all alone, now do I? So, maybe you know someone who’d fancy joining me? Preferably, someone with red hair and who would look great in a swimsuit.”
Ginny grinned at him. “I don’t think Ron can get the time off, though to be honest he doesn’t look that good in his swim costume, but…” She paused and tapped her chin in mock consideration. “I might be available.”
Harry placed his hand over his heart. “Well, I guess I can make do,” he smiled at her. “Moody is giving me another week before my ordered holiday, could you get the time?”
She batted her hand at him in a who-do-you-think-I-am gesture. “Please, they owe me some time off for fixing the problem today,” she batted her eyelashes theatrically at him. “So, where are you taking me, Inspector Potter?”
By Friday, a week after Harry’s dinner with Ginny, there still had been no boundless additions to their leads, meaning Harry was going on holiday to a mix of emotions. Ginny had volunteered to plan the whole thing, letting him focus all week on the case, not that it made much difference. It did mean Harry had no idea where they were going, though. All Ginny asked was to visit her parents’ house the day before they left, because it was Bill’s birthday the day after they were scheduled to go and she wanted to celebrate with her family.
Harry was fine with it, but butterflies started to settle in his stomach as they approached Ginny’s childhood home. Ginny had talked about her family numerous times, hell, he had already met two of her brothers, but it was still unnerving to meet her entire family.
“You look like you’re going to sick-up, my dear,” Ginny told him from the driver’s seat. She had a small smirk tickling her lips as she turned down a one-lane road. “Is it because of the long drive or because you’re basically going into the lion’s den?”
“See, calling it a lion’s den doesn’t help…” Harry told her, closing his eyes with a wince.
She chuckled. “Sorry, you’re right — “
“Can I get that in writing?”
“I should call it the lioness’ den because it’s my mother you have to worry about.” Harry groaned, making his girlfriend laugh. “Really, Harry, you’ll be fine.” Ginny took one hand off the steering wheel and placed it on Harry’s leg. “My mother will love you, trust me. She will claim you’re too skinny and rush off to get you something to nosh on.”
Harry took a deep breath and grabbed her hand, turning it over and intertwining their fingers. Apparently, contact was all he needed. The fluttering in his stomach calmed to a feeble flapping. Ginny made a right turn, allowing another car to pass them first, going in the opposite direction. The road was bumpy and filled with holes that could pop a tire.
“Is this really the best way to get to your house?” Harry asked as Ginny swerved around a crater in the road.
“Yeah, actually this is the only road leading to the house… Well, really, it’s just a long driveway to the house. It’s about two kilometers to the end of the road,” she glanced over, hands still connected. “Who knew meeting the Weasley family would scare big, bad Harry Potter.”
“Well, you do have a lot of brothers, who I’m sure wouldn’t like what we do in our down time.”
Ginny snorted. “And that’s why we don’t discuss that topic, with them… or my mother for that matter.”
Ginny had never placed much stock in the idea of fortune telling or the ability to see the future, but after Harry was introduced to her mother, she thought she might just have the power. Molly had taken an instant liking to the detective inspector. When he had put out his hand and offered to shake hers she pulled him into a strong hug and immediately led him to the kitchen.
“Looks like mum’s gonna fatten up your new beau,” Fred called across the yard. He and George were walking around the side of the house, clearly coming from the back garden. Once they reached Ginny they each placed a hand on her shoulder. “So, how does Ronnie know that strapping young man in there?”
Ginny felt her eyebrows raise. “He still hasn’t told you?”
George shook his head. “No, and you know how much we despise being out of the loop. So, Gin-Gin, Ginny, our beloved younger sister, will you bring us into the inner circle?”
The beloved sister in question scratched behind her left ear unconcerned. “I don’t know. I wouldn’t want to betray my brother. Sibling loyalty and all that.”
“But Ginners — “
“Why would I ever want to help someone who calls me that?”
George continued his plea as if she had never spoken, “Don’t you want to see Ron’s face turn the color of his favorite vegetable.”
“Okay, first of all,” Ginny said putting up a finger, “Ron’s favorite vegetable is potatoes not tomatoes, so unless you’re going to wipe his face in the dirt…” She added a second digit. “Secondly, he hasn’t done anything offensive enough to make me want to spill,” she added a third and final finger. “Lastly, Harry tells the story much better that I can. Treacle tart is his favorite pudding, by the way.”
The twins smiled at their sister gleefully. “I knew you took after us,” Fred said with a laugh giving Ginny’s back a hard slap. “Come on Georgie, we have a coppa to bribe.” Together they trailed after their mother and Ginny’s boyfriend.
‘I might regret that later,’ Ginny thought as she made her way to the back of the house. She figured she would give her mother a few moments to try and interrogate her boyfriend. It wouldn’t be right if she didn’t. The back garden had a large screened tent, with a nice wood floor, that Arthur had placed a space heater in so people could be outside during the cold season. Bill was holding Victoire and Fleur stood beside him, talking to Arthur. Ron was lounging in a chair, while his date, Lavender, talked his ear off. Charlie couldn’t make it because he was back in Romania, so almost the whole Weasley gang was present.
Ginny headed over to Bill so she could say hello to her niece. Bill smiled at her as she approached, he whispered something into his daughter’s ear making her giggle. Victoire was only two, but a clever two. Ginny pressed a kiss to both Bill’s and Victoire’s cheeks.
“How are you two doing?” she asked as took Victoire from Bill’s arms and gave the little toddler a hug. Both responded to her and Victoire set off in her baby speak, tell her favorite aunt all about her day. Bill smiled, watching his daughter enjoy the attention of her aunt, who made the best shocked faces.
Ginny placed the child down and whispered something in her ear. Victoire giggled and ran, the best a two-year-old could, towards her uncle Ron, who was still stuck with Lavender. “You set her on Ron, didn’t you?” Bill asked his sister.
“I have no idea what you’re talking about,” Ginny claimed innocently. She watched as Lavender squealed when the little one reached her. Ron hated when Lavender spoke to the baby, everyone but Lavender knew that. He loathed the baby voice she favored when dealing with anyone below the age of eight.
“Sure, you don’t?” Bill drawled, winking at her. “So, did you bring Harry with you?”
Ginny looked at her oldest brother in surprise. “You know?”
The man in question nodded, laughing slightly. “I figured it out when Ron mentioned he knew him.” He gave her an appraising look. “Not a bad choice, sis.”
She smirked at her brother. “Trust me, I know.”
“Where is he, by the way?”
“Oh, Mum has him locked in the kitchen somewhere… Not to mention Fred and George are trying to bribe him to find out Ron’s story.”
Bill chortled. “And let me guess, you suggested the object to bribe with?”
“Once again, I have no idea what you’re talking about.”
“Anywho, I should probably go save him from being overfed. I won’t want him to upchuck in the car, now will I?” Bill smiled at her as she walked towards the back door. The kitchen was almost set up like an interrogation room,Harry sat on one side of the table, alone, while the twins sat across from him. Molly hovered by the stove, clearly listening.
Ginny had suspected the scene might look like this, but what she didn’t predict was the awestruck look on the twins faces. “Nah, you’re taking the mickey,” George proclaimed while Fred nodded in agreement.
“No, it happened, but really it was just dumb luck,” Harry told them.
Ginny approached them, taking the chair next to Harry. “Did you tell them about Ron?” Ginny asked her boyfriend after placing a chaste kiss on his cheek.
Fred shook his head, still looking at Harry captivated. “Why didn’t you tell us your boyfriend was a hero?”
Cocking her head to the side, Ginny invited someone to explain. Harry spoke up, “Actually I’ve never told Ginny the story.” Leaning in close he whispered, “It’s not really pillow talk.”
Ginny snorted but waved her hand to signify an explanation. Harry sighed but launched into his tale, “Right after I joined the force there was a man trying to take power… trying to gain an army. Do you know the name Gellert Grindelwald?” When Ginny shook her head, Harry pressed on, “That’s fine, most people don’t. We tried to keep it under wraps. He just wanted power, basically like a kids’ super villain. He wanted to rule the world.”
Harry took a breath and continued, everyone engrossed in his story, “What happened was I became a part of a small team to infiltrate a suggested hideout. Well, it turned out the information was good, but we didn’t know that till we were already in. We split into two teams of three and scouted the floors. Team one to the ground floor, while the team I was a part of took the first floor. We came into a fork, so I went left and the other two went right.” Ginny couldn’t believe that all this had happened to Harry. It sounded like something out of a movie. Molly had stopped pretending not to listen and turned to focus on the inspector. “It turned out both ways led to the same spot. The other two were presented with Grindelwald before I was, so they were in a stalemate. Grindelwald had some prisoners and a detonation switch that would work with the C4 attached to their chests.”
Harry looked around at his audience. “It was just dumb luck I was able to enter the room from behind and sneak up on the man, knocking the switch away from him,” he smiled at Ginny. “Everyone returned home safely. That was the case that put me on the map, which is why I have risen through the ranks so quickly.”
Everyone in the room was silent just looking at Harry, until Ginny, knowing he must be hating the attention, snorted. “Oh, yeah, well, I once score the winning goal in the championship game when I was six.”
Fred and George snorted as one. “For the other team,” Fred reminded her, turning away from Harry to mock his sister.
Ginny waved her hand in a dismissive gesture. “Details. I still made a team win.” From that moment on everyone seemed to forget about Harry’s heroic deeds. Molly went back to cooking while the twins argued with Ginny that scoring for the other team didn’t count. Harry took her hand and gave it a squeeze beneath the table, a signal of his thanks.
The day went by peacefully, with all of her brothers surprisingly on their best behavior around Harry.. In fact, Ginny was quite certain her family was smitten with the boy.
Arthur liked to discuss Harry’s motorbike, enjoying the idea of tinkering with it. All her brothers enjoyed Harry’s police stories, especially Ron’s arrest which left everyone in stitches, except for the man in question and his mother, who reprimanded him. Molly, as expected, loved to pile food up onto Harry’s plate, complaining that he must not be eating right and sending a glare at Ginny in the process. Ginny, for her part, appreciated the fact that her family all loved her boyfriend.
She had never brought a boy home before. Everyone knew she had dated Michael, but she had known he wasn’t worth bringing home. Then there had been Colin, who she never really clicked enough with in a romantic way. Finally, there had been a few dates with Dean, before he was signed to Tottenham. That had been a train wreck, just because he was so overbearing. Harry, however, seemed to fit right into every part of her life.
The night came to a close after cake, Bill’s arms weighed down with countless gifts and his increasingly overtired daughter. All the Weasley children started to leave after the elder brother, first Fred and George headed back into London to their flat over their joke shop. Ron and Lavender bid everyone farewell shortly after the twins, leaving just Harry, Ginny, and her parents.
Ginny offered to help her mother do the dishes, while Arthur started to discuss Harry’s opinions on different exhaust pipes for bikes. Molly washed while Ginny dried, a system they had perfected when she was a child.
“So, Harry seems nice,” Molly started casually, scrubbing some gravy off a plate.
“Yeah?” Ginny decided to match her mother’s tone, giving nothing away.
“Mmmhmmm. I think your father really likes him,” a mischievous smirk appeared on Molly lips. “And I think Harry really likes you.”
Ginny could feel the smug smile grace her face. “Oh, yeah, the boy is besotted, no doubt about it.”
Molly turned to look at her daughter, pausing her wash. “I think it’s mutual, Ginny dear.”
Placing down her towel down, she leaned to kiss her mother on the cheek. “Again, no doubt about it.”
The holiday in Florida had been just what the doctor ordered. Ginny loved being in the bright sun, laying on the beach outside their small cottage. It wasn’t completely private, but it was still incredible to be able to walk along the waves hand and hand with Harry.
Between late mornings in bed and long nights cuddling, watching the waves crash against the sand in the moonlight, Ginny couldn’t have been more relaxed if she tried. Harry seemed to be the same. He didn’t mention the case once, and now on the day before of their return Ginny decided to bring up one of the small reasons she picked Florida.
“So, you remember how you told me White Snakeroot could be found in America,” Ginny asked as she cut some fruit for them to eat throughout the day.
Harry nodded from his position of flipping pancakes. “Yeah, why?”
Ginny cut an apple into perfect slices. “Well, it just so happens there is some in Florida and I may have asked around and found were we could get some.”
Her boyfriend stared at her, stunned. “Why?”
Ginny couldn’t prevent her eyes from rolling. “I thought you might like to take some home, maybe have one of the lab people do some tests on it. You were saying that you didn’t know how the plant worked…”
Harry gaped at her. Smoke started to rise from the bottom of the pancake, distracting Harry as he flipped the now burnt cake. He threw out the questionable breakfast option and instead of pouring more batter on the skillet, Harry went over to his girlfriend and wrapped his arms around her from behind.
“You are,” Harry placed warm kisses along Ginny’s neck, extracting a moan from the redhead, “the most,” the kisses trailed up towards her ear, “incredible woman I have ever met.” He lightly nipped on her earlobe, drawing a pleasurable groan out of the woman in his arms.
Ginny set her knife down and turned in Harry’s arms, leaning back against the counter and pulling Harry in close by his shirt. She lowered his head to hers, connecting their lips. Harry happily returned the pressure, slightly opening his mouth to grant her access.
She broke from his lips and started to mimic his previous actions, kissing his neck, sucking lightly on a pressure point that sent shivers running up Harry’s spine. “Tell me something I don’t know,” she murmured in between kisses moving along his jawline.
“I love you,” he softly blurted out, making Ginny stop her actions, so she could look into her boyfriend’s eyes. She saw surprise, but truth was in his dark green orbs as he studied her back. “I know it’s soon,” he told her quietly, “but it’s true.”
‘Yeah, it is soon,’ Ginny thought wildly. They had only been dating for two months, just under two really, but unbidden into her mind came the image of her walking down an aisle. Her friends and family lined up in chairs, standing and watching her walk towards the other side of the passage, her arm wrapped in her father’s. There at the end, was the emerald-eyed, blacked-haired, awkward, handsome, Harry Potter. His smile lighting her way.
She felt as if her heart had expanded and crawled into her throat. She had never had those thoughts previously. Never with any of her other boyfriends - none them had ever felt right standing there waiting for her. No, Harry was right. Was that love though?
Then she remembered what that scene signified. A wedding. A marriage. Having a family together. Being with each other for the rest of their lives. Did she want that? If she did, it would be with Harry, man who she felt more comfortable with, who made her toes curl, who made her laugh, and set her heart at ease more than any other person in her life.
She steeled herself, preparing to admit something she never had to any other man, at least not to the same degree. For a while she thought she had loved Michael, but really it was just childish love. The idea of being in love, really, but Harry… There was nothing childish about it.
Harry was looking directly into her eyes. “You don’t need to say it back or anything,” he told her in an undertone, “I know it’s way too fast, but — “
“I love you, too,” Ginny cut him off. He stared at her for a few moments, eyes wide, as if waiting for her to retract her sentence.
When she didn’t, his lips twisted into a goofy smile, making her grin like a maniac as well. “Yeah?” he asked.
She nodded and he closed any gap between the two of them, pressing his lips hard on hers. ‘Yes,’ Ginny thought as Harry directed them towards the bedroom, twisting the knob to the stove off as he went, ‘this is what love should feel like.’
“Good idea, Potter,” Moody said as he sat behind his desk, “going to a place where you could get access to the poisoning ingredient. We’ll have Snape check it over, see if they feed the plant while it’s alive or if it can be given to the cow after it’s been plucked.”
“Thank you, sir,” Harry nodded to his superior. “It was actually my girlfriend’s idea to go to Florida.”
Moody gave a half smile. “You have a good woman there, Potter.”
“Don’t I know it.”
“Well, dismissed, Potter. Tonks should be here by ten. Boot and Bell will update you both on their lack of progress when she arrives.”
Harry left the office and headed to his own. Never had he felt this relaxed. When he was a child he was always stuck dealing with his horrible aunt, uncle, and cousin. Then there was always some case that would be driving him batty. Now, after a week on holiday he felt loose. His head didn’t feel encumbered by too many facts. The pressure of discovery felt easier on his shoulders. And he was inclined to think it might have had more than a little something to do with the amazing girlfriend he traveled with.
Taking a seat in his stiff-back chair; Harry looked at the cork board still present in the room. He kept his eyes trained on the side by side photos of Cho and Susan. They had nothing in common, but then, Harry felt as if he’d earned a light bulb lit over his head. What if that was the point?
Harry stood and started to pace back and forth in the room. What if this person was purposely choosing victims who had no connections? Chaos theory at its core. At first there seems be no method to the madness, but there was something… Something that brings everything together. Maybe it’s the opposing traits of the women that made the killer choose them.
Being so lost in thought, Harry didn’t even notice Tonks slip into the room. She didn’t speak, she just took a seat in the armchair tucked against the far wall and sipped on her tea, patiently watching Harry walk around and around, a smirk on her face. “So, have a good holiday?” Tonks finally asked, breaking Harry from his reverie.
He jumped and stopped moving at the sound of her voice. “Tonks,” he asked, “when did you get here?”
“I would guess about sixty paces into your walk,” Tonks picked at an imaginary string on her sleeve. “So, what’s on your mind?”
Harry pointed at the board. “Chaos theory.”
“Okay, add some more words to that sentence.”
“What if the reason our killer picked Cho and Susan was because there was no visible pattern? What if they were picked so there would be no definite formula?”
Tonks placed her tea down on a table beside her. She stared at her partner, eyes narrowed. “If that is the case, what can we do to prevent anything happening?”
Harry ran his hands through his already messy locks. “I haven’t figured that out yet.”
“Well, I guess that’s better than having nothing.”
“It’s only a theory, but it’s the one idea that I’ve had that makes any sense.”
Tonks stood from her chair and walked beside Harry, placing a hand on his shoulder. “It has merit, there is no doubt. It just means… It just means we have nothing to work with, like before.”
Harry closed his eyes, trying to get his mindset back to discovery mode. “I know, but at least it helps us reason the way the killer might.”
“In conclusion,” Tonks said pointing her finger at Terry Boot, “you found nothing.”
Boot shrugged, accepting defeat. “No matter what lead we followed we found nothing. We talked to all of Susan’s and Cho’s friends again, zip. Both their families, zilch. We re-examined the footage from the club and the store, nothing conclusive.”
“What about inconclusive?” Harry asked looking at Katie Bell, who had shifted awkwardly at the mention of the recordings.
Boot glared at Bell, but she leered right back. “I thought I saw someone with a similar feature at the club and then again at the store,” Bell told them, turning to look at Harry.
“Wait, really?” Tonks questioned, sitting up in her chair. “We looked over those tapes numerous times, but saw nothing.”
“It was small, and I may be wrong, but one of the men dancing with Cho had the same ears as the man who talked with Susan.”
“No offense, Bell, but why would you be so adept at recognizing ears?” Harry asked, trying hard not to pass judgement.
“My father is a plastic surgeon,” Bell explained. “When I was young he liked to point out distinct features on people. The crook of a nose, the dent in a chin, maybe the way a certain line of freckles falls on someone’s arm, things like that. The man in the retail store has a little indentation on the top of his ear. If you go to thirteen minutes past midnight in the club tape, the person with Cho brushed his hair behind his ear showing off a very similar notch.”
“Boot pull it up on the computer side by side,” Harry commanded, pointing at his desktop. Boot followed his orders. Once he placed the videos beside each other, he paused at the moments Bell mentioned. Bell took the mouse from her partner and zoomed in on both tapes, and sure enough, both men had a small little cavity on the top of their left ears.
“No shit,” Tonks muttered, clearly seeing it as well. She pointed at the club image. “But this man dancing with Cho has dark brown hair and the man in the store had pure white.”
Harry wanted to slap himself in the forehead. “Wigs,” he told the group.
Katie nodded. “That’s what I thought, as well, but there is no proof.”
Tonks turned to her partner and smirked. “Good thing most of our job is assuming, isn’t it?”
Back to index
Chapter 6: Chapter 6
Author's Notes: Thanks to Arnel and gryffindormischief for their amazing beta skills!
“I just… I just don’t know what we can do anymore,” Harry moaned, all but slamming his head on the worn wood of Ginny’s kitchen table. It had been another three months since Susan Bones had been discovered murdered. Ginny had invited him over for dinner, knowing full well he was going to be melodramatic. She’d learned quickly he sometimes acted like this, especially if a case in another sector was successful.
She let out a long sigh. “You’re such a drama queen,” Ginny couldn’t help but mutter under her breath as she pulled lettuce apart. “Even Queen Elizabeth would curtsy for you.”
Harry lifted his head. “Does that you make my king?” Ginny snorted at him. So dramatic.
Ginny moved over to her distressed boyfriend, running a hand through his hair. “Harry, when was the last time you had any new information?”
Giving her an exasperated look , he admitted grudgingly, “At least a month.” Ginny kept carding her hand through his hair, attempting some sort of comfort. Harry was clearly not someone who liked to quit, but this case was driving him batty. He needed to let something drop, but that seemed to be against this instinct.
“So, what do you think you should do, Harry?”
Harry’s eyelids drooped from her ministrations. He pinched the bridge of his nose. “I don’t know. Moody wants us to move on. He thinks we’re chasing a ghost, but if he’s wrong and someone else is murdered…” He let his voice hang of into space, eyes now completely shut.
“That didn’t answer my question,” Ginny claimed as she moved her attention to his shoulders, kneading out hard knots that had formed.
The inspector let out a content groan, as Ginny hit a particularly tight spot. “I don’t know,” he admitted for the second time, “I want to find the guy, but we have nothing to, ‘roll with’, as Tonks keeps saying.”
Ginny pressed a kiss to the side of his neck. “So, maybe work on something else for a while. I’m sure you would feel better if you had something else to occupy your mind. Sitting around trying to connect dots with nothing could drive anyone mental.”
Harry turned his head so they were face to face. “I know you’re right, but it’s hard to let go.”
She gave him a small smile and connected her lips to his. “I know,” she told him pulling slightly away, “but start small. How about you and I spend an entire night together without talking about the case.” Straightening up, she walked back over to the lettuce.
“Okay,” Harry nodded. “I’ll give it shot, but there should be a forfeit if I speak about… you-know-what.” Intrigued, she gave him a quizzical look, making him explain. “If I don’t talk about it, then maybe we could do that thing in the bedroom I’ve mentioned.”
“Oh ho, and what if you lose?”
Harry stood from his chair, walked the small gap between the table and counters, and wrapped his arms around her waist, positioning his mouth close to her ear. “How about I’m stuck doing that thing you’ve been wanting to do.” Intoxicatingly slow, he started placing warm kisses down from her ear to the pulse point on her neck.
“Not much of a loss for you either way, Inspector Potter,” Ginny managed to say.
“Damn, such a flaw in the system. Oh well, I guess we’ll just have to -” the sound of knuckles rapping on the door interrupted Harry’s attempt at seduction, drawing a groan from the man in question and a laugh from Ginny.
She disentangled herself from his arms and pressed a quick kiss to his cheek. “Hold that thought,” she whispered, running her hand along his arm, as she walked to the front door. Taking a quick look out of the peep hole, she saw red. That made the possibilities limited, but made it less inviting. With a calming breath, she opened the door to reveal the freckled, tall form of Ron.
“Hey, Ginny,” her youngest brother said with a small awkward wave, “How’s your day been?”
“It was going great, till a surprise visitor interrupted my evening plans. What can I do for you, Ronnie?”
Ron was shifting from foot to foot. “Would it be alright if I took your couch tonight?”
Feeling real worry, she ushered Ron into the sitting room. “Why?”
He took a seat at the end seat of her sofa, his hands fidgeting in his lap. “Lavender and I… we are… we’re fighting.”
“About?” Ginny took the seat opposite her brother.
Ron pressed his large fists over his eyes, cutting any light they may have been seen. “She thinks I’m cheating on her.”
“What!” Ginny couldn’t stop herself from yelling. A crash echoed from the kitchen as Harry hurried out, taking in the scene with wild eyes. When his brain seemed to comprehend it was just Ron and they weren’t in any real danger, Harry’s body seemed to slacken.
“What’s going on?” Harry questioned, glancing at Ron then to Ginny.
“Why is he here at such a late hour?” Ron asked glaring at the inspector.
“First of all, it’s not that late. It’s only half past six. Second, I invited him for dinner, not that it’s any of your business what I do. Finally, we were talking about you cheating on Lavender,” Ginny leaned forward and flicked her brother in the center of his forehead.
“Ow!” the red-headed male complained, knocking his sister’s hand away. However, he had the wisdom to look abashed. “You’re right, sorry. You are a twenty-four-year-old woman, but sometimes it’s hard to keep my brotherly instincts at bay.”
“Thank you. Now explain.”
“Right, so I arrived home late, because I… I might have gone out to the pub with a few mates.”
Ginny snorted. “Because that’s ended well for you in the past.”
Ron ignored her. “And I met one of my old classmates. We talked for a while and when she left she gave me hug. It meant nothing, but Lavender said I smelled like another woman. She started going mental, screaming at me. I’d never seen her that angry.”
Harry took a seat in one of the comfortable armchairs watching Ron with peaked interest. “And did you try to talk to her?”
Both Ginny and Ron made a face. “You can’t reason with that woman,” Ron proclaimed, throwing his hands up in the air. “She barmy.” His sister nodded her agreement.
“Really, Harry, she can be a little… melodramatic,” Ginny explained, turning her attention to Harry then back to Ron. “What happened next?”
“I left,” Ron slumped down, his chin basically resting on his chest. “I didn’t want to fight, but clearly she wanted to hash something out.”
Harry raised his eyebrows at Ginny, she knew they were thinking the same thing, that if either one of them acted like that, there would be hell to pay for later. “How about,” Ginny started, sending a quick look over at Harry trying to gauge his feelings, “we all go for a pint down at the pub?” Harry gave her a nod.
“Yeah, that sounds nice,” Ron said, slightly dazed. He stood from his spot on the couch and offered Ginny a hand up. “Bet I can outdrink you.”
“Please,” Ginny laughed. “I’m as much Weasley as you are. If anyone is gonna lose, it will be inspector Potter over there.”
“But why,” Ron moaned, spilling some of his beer, “would she jump straight to cheating?”
“Because she an irritable toe-rag that has no self-decency and loves drama,” Ginny couldn’t refrain muttering. When she had offered the idea of getting a pint, she figured Ron would just want to talk about the most recent football standing, but no. Here she was stuck talking about his feelings. Since when had her brother gone all… emotional? Ron was always the kind of bloke who ate his feelings.
Beside her, Harry snorted. Clearly, he heard her comment, and even with his limited exposure to Lavender, he evidently agreed. He moved his mouth close to her ear, and whispered, “Jeez, Gin, tell me how you really feel.”
“Ron,” Harry said, moving his lips away from Ginny, as he took a chip from their share basket, “I’m sure by morning she will realize how… irrational she’s been and call you.”
Ron tilted his drink in Harry’s direction, sloshing some across the table for the fifth time that night. “You don’t know Lavender like I do, Harry.”
“Thank God for that,” Ginny just was unable to contain her cheek tonight.
Ron seemed to pay her no mind, as he continued his rant. “She’s pushy and demanding, which sure can be great in the bedroom — “
“Ew,” Ginny claimed as Harry made a pained face.
“But she doesn’t listen to me. I swear she gives me no respect.”
“Me either, most of the time.”
“Have you talked to her about all this?” Harry asked, concealing his smirk from Ginny’s latest comment behind his glass.
Ron considered Harry, his eyes slightly glassy. He was clearly past the point of no return. “Well… no, but I’m her boyfriend, shouldn’t she respect me?”
“Do you do things to earn respect?”
Ginny’s brother looked flabbergasted. “What do you mean?”
Rolling her eyes, Ginny left the two boys to grab another pint for her and Harry, maybe a glass of water for Ron. After placing her order, she turned her back on the bar. She leaned against the cool counter, watching her brother and boyfriend. It was odd to think about, but without Ron’s drunken night with the lads, Ginny may have never met Harry. Now here they all were, drinking together, discussing Ron’s bad love life.
“There you go, miss,” the barman said, sliding the three drinks towards her. He was an older gentleman, maybe late fifties. Long, dark hair bracketed his face. He gave he a smile, showing slightly pointed teeth. “Do you want a hand carrying them over to your friends?”
Ginny shook her head; her Uni days hadn’t been for naught she perfected the ability to juggle multiple drinks without spilling a drop and she was more than able to put those skills to work as she transported the precious cargo. When she dispersed the filled glasses between them, Harry nodded his thanks while Ron sulked, nose nearly dipping into the foam. Harry must have said something that Ron didn’t like. She shot a glance at her boyfriend, silently asking for information.
“Ron doesn’t like the fact that snogging isn’t a decent form of communication.” Harry informed her, taking a sip from his pint.
Ginny looked at her brother. “Let me guess, you’ve haven’t had a real talk in a long time.”
“What qualifies as a real talk,” Ron asked sarcastically.
“Well, how much you respect you have for one another comes to mind.”
Harry snorted, but he took pity on the Weasley brother. “Listen, Ron. You need to actually talk to her and see where you stand, because if she trusts you that little… to think you had an affair. You need to talk to her.”
“Easier said than done,” Ron mumbled, drawing shapes in condensation pooled on the table.
“No doubt,” Ginny agreed, taking a sip of her beer. Ron groaned and rested his head against the table. If Ron had been saying these things a year ago, Ginny would have been right there with him. Skeptical about how much talking could really do in a relationship. Most of her boyfriends were like Ron who thought snogging could solve all their issues. Harry, on the other hand, was not like that at all. They had a fair few of fights in their limited time together - both being stubborn people- complete with raised voices and unflinching opinions. But eventually, after plenty of back and forth someone would back down. The longest it took was a day, but in the end, they always arrived back onto the same page. The more Ginny thought about it, the more she appreciated Harry.
“Ron,” Ginny said putting her hand on her brother’s. He lifted his head to look at her. “Talk to her, and if things don’t go well, then maybe it’s time to move to bigger and better things.”
Ron looked at her beseechingly. “Yeah?”
She looked at Harry and smiled. His eyes were twinkling, showing his agreement. Twisting to look at her brother again, she confirmed. “Yeah.”
“Potter, I know you want to solve these cases, but it’s been too long since you’ve had any new developments. I’m placing an official recommendation to let the cases drop,” Moody put a hand on Harry’s shoulder. “To be clear, this is not you being demoted, there are just better ways for you to focus your energy.”
Harry nodded. He had seen this coming, but still, every fiber in his body wanted to deny Moody’s words. The desire to find who killed Susan and Cho had been fueling him for so long, without that… what was his drive? Deciding Moody would want a verbal answer, he said, “Yes, sir.”
“Alright, now that we have that settled. There has been a call about a missing woman. Her sister reported her missing an hour ago, claiming she hasn’t seen her since last Wednesday.” Moody’s words hit Harry hard. Missing woman, more than a few days… Could it be another link to his original case? Harry’s boss seemed to know what he was thinking. He gave a quick nod and muttered, “Constant vigilance.”
“So, did you find the woman?” Neville Longbottom asked. He and Harry sat in their favorite pub, a short fifteen minute walk from Scotland Yard. Harry had known Neville for years now, since they had met back in the police academy. Neville had joined trying to impress his grandmother, hoping to finally gain any approval from her. Unfortunately, he had been rather unsuccessful within the academy; however, he had discovered his love for plants during the wildlife lessons and found a greenhouse to work at instead. Over the years Harry had made sure to keep in contact with Neville.
Neville had been the first person Harry had talked to about Whitesnake Root. After the lab had run all their tests on it, he had sent it to Neville, who confirmed the theory that the plant needed to be alive to have its poisonous qualities.
“Yeah, it turns out that she had just gone on holiday with her boyfriend without telling her sister,” Harry rolled his glass of whisky around.
“Why would Moody send you on a case like that?”
Harry watched the ice in his drink bump into one another, making a satisfying clink against the glass. “If I had to put money on it, I would have to say he was hoping for a connection between that and my murder cases.”
Neville nodded. “I bet you’re right,” he cut of a piece of his fish and put it into his mouth. Around his mouthful he asked, “Do you have a name for that killer?”
“No… I mean it’s not like he’s the next Jack the Ripper, right? If we give him a name, that would just create fear.”
“Maybe, but he should have some kind of name…” Neville paused with a chip halfway to his mouth. “What about the Milk Murderer?”
Harry snorted. “At that rate we may as well call him the Milk Man.”
Neville laughed. “That’s actually kinda funny. I say you go with that.”
Raising his glass in a mock cheer, Harry said, “Here’s to the Milk Man. May he leave London the fuck alone.”
“How was your pint with your friend, Neville, was it?” Ginny asked as Harry entered her kitchen. She had an open beer sitting next to her laptop. For the last hour she had been responding to claims that Thomas and Finnigan were out of line and needed to be brought down from their “party days”. Basically, she was trying to calm a shit storm, not her favorite hobby, but after the last few nights those boys had… Well, let’s just say she wasn’t shocked; however, it did put her on damage control duty.
“Good. Yeah, Neville was alright.” Harry pressed a chaste kiss on her cheek as he walked by her to grab a glass of water. “We reminisced about the ‘good ol’ days’ like the old men we are.” He took the seat opposite her. “What about you? Everything go alright here?”
“The best it can, I’d say. Dean and Seamus are going to be put on suspension for a bit. Coach Wood wants to make sure they learn a lesson this time.” She closed her laptop, allowing her to look directly at Harry. “I doubt it will work. I know Dean pretty well, and if anything, he and Seamus will want to head out more during their ‘time off’.”
“Have you heard from Ron?” Harry asked. It had been three days since their pub night with Ginny’s brother.
“No, but he will call when he’s ready… He may be drunk, but he will call.” Ginny stood up and stretched. She hadn’t realized how tight her muscles had become while working. “I’m ready for bed. You staying here tonight?” Though she asked the question, she knew the answer. It was rare for them to sleep alone anymore.
“Yeah, I’ll come with you now. It’s been a long day.” He placed his empty glass in the sink, claiming he would clean it in the morning. They walked in companionable silence and started getting ready for bed. They moved in sync, completing all their tasks as if they had been working around each other and with one another for years. While Ginny brushed her teeth, Harry would remove the extra pillows from the bed. If Harry was changing Ginny was plugging in both their phones to charge.
For the second time that week, Ginny appreciated her relationship. It felt so simple. She had watched many of her friends have issues. Lazy bastards, bitching bastards, even cheating bastards - you name it she, had a friend who had the issue at one time or another, hell a few times it was even her. Now though, it felt so right. So stable. If Ginny was a pessimist she would say something bad was about to happen, but she had no encouragement to think like that.
Once Ginny turned off the bedside lamp, Harry rolled next to her, placing his body close. Simple, Ginny thought as his arms closed around her, somehow making the bed feel like that perfect temperature. That light kiss he placed on her neck, making her feel content. With ease, she drifted off to sleep.
If only everything else in Ginny’s world was going as smoothly as her love life. Her mother requested that she visit home more often, her boss wanted her to override the articles about Finnigan and Thomas, and to top it off her bag’s strap broke while she was walking into her office. Now a week after the scandal of Dean and Seamus, things finally seemed to be getting back on track.
Coach Wood had forced her to have a meeting with both the boys, to discuss their image. Seamus had met with her yesterday, Dean, however, was two days late. He was supposed to meet with her on Tuesday, but as Thursday ticked by, Ginny had doubts he would show up.
She had talked to Seamus to see if he knew where his drinking mate was, but he claimed he hadn’t heard from him within the last few days. Messages were left on his phone and she had emailed him, but had received no acknowledgement. Best case scenario: he was away from England, thinking his suspension meant he could go on holiday. The worst case… well, Ginny had been hanging around an coppa for a while now, fueling her imagination.
On Friday, Oliver Wood walked into her office, taking the seat directly in front of her desk. “Ginny, have you heard anything from Thomas?”
Shaking her head, Ginny finished typing her sentence on her computer before looking at the coach. “Oliver, you know I would have texted you if I had talked with Dean. It’s part of the deal; I keep you up to date and you only contact me when you need me. I’m basically Batman.”
Wood shook his head. “This isn’t like Dean,” he rubbed the back of his neck. “He would have at least told Seamus where he was going.”
“Have you been watching too many crime movies again?” Ginny asked, opening her email for the tenth time that day, still seeing no messages from Dean. “I’m sure he just found a party spot and his phone died. This has happened before. Remember the horror stories of Duke Mason? He would disappear for weeks at a time, then come back expecting his spot to still be available. Whoever let him keep coming back had less backbone than a jellyfish,” Ginny finished off her rant with a perfected eye roll.
“Yeah, but Dean…” Oliver bit his bottom lip. “I just don’t know, Ginny.”
“Alright how about this, we give him till Monday morning to reach out to anyone. If he remains silent, I will head to his flat and see what’s going on,” Ginny closed her laptop and slid it into her bag carefully. She didn’t want any more issues this week and having her laptop die, might just do her in.
“What if he isn’t at his flat?”
“We can call the police, report a missing person. I’m sure he’ll show up ten minutes after I make the call.” Ginny reached across the desk and placed a comforting hand on Oliver’s arm. She had never seen the man so anxious. He was a “win or die” kind of guy, not much room for showing fear. “If it comes to it, I can talk to Harry, and see if he can figure things out.”
“Harry?” Oliver asked.
Ginny couldn’t help but smile. Oliver never listen to any gossip, all he cared about was football and his team. “My boyfriend. He is a detective inspector for Scotland Yard. Typically, he works homicide, but at least he might be able to get us the inside scoop.”
Wood nodded his acceptance. “Alright… Alright, thanks.” He stood from his chair and walked to the door. With his hand on the handle he turned around and said, “I hope it doesn’t come to that.”
“You and me both.”
Monday was a sullen rainy day, and Dean’s Belmont flat seemed to be right in the thick of the downpour. Neon lights of gold and red shone bright against the grey backdrop of foggy London, beckoning Ginny toward the best Chinese takeaway in the city. She resisted, finding the staircase that led to a small flat tucked in a back alleyway.
The smell of the restaurant was overwhelming, as she stood by the peeling green door. Ginny had knocked four times already, waiting for any sign of life from within the flat. Nothing. Looking down at her watch she saw that five minutes had passed since she had knocked the first time. If someone was home they would have come to check the racket by now.
Huffing out her annoyance, Ginny unlocked her phone with her thumb. First, she texted Oliver, letting him know Dean wasn’t home and that she would call the police. Next, she texted Harry and asked how she should go about reporting a potentially missing player. This wasn’t something she normally dealt with, but it was clear Wood wanted her to take care of things.
She started to walk back towards her car, which she had parked by the convenience store down the road. Before she even reached her door, her phone started vibrating. Looking down she saw the picture she had set for Harry. It was him intently focused on trying to pick up a piece of rice with chopsticks. For the life of her she couldn’t figure out why he struggled so much using chopsticks, but it did give her great entertainment.
Sliding the little bar to the right she moved the receiver to her ear. “Hey,” she greeted, “I figured you would just text me the correct number to call.”
“Nah, I’ve been doing some missing person cases, so really you already had the number,” Harry voice was slightly lower on the phone, something Ginny appreciated. She had never really liked the idea of “phone sex”, but if she was gonna do it, she would want Harry’s voice to be on the other end, for multiple reasons.
“Okay, I can work with that.” Ginny unlocked her car and pulled open the door, escaping from the rainstorm. Rain thudded against the roof of her car, making her need to increase the volume of the call.
“Alright, so I need a description, the last time you saw him, last time you know anyone saw him, his address if you have it, and a number so I can try to reach him.”
“I can text you the address and number, but I last saw him I would say a week and a half ago during his dispensary meeting. Seamus Finnigan claims he saw him last Monday, out drinking. No one has heard from him since.”
“Okay, I need Seamus’ number if you have that, as well please.”
“Sure,” Ginny had seen that request coming. She then described Dean. On the other end of the phone she could hear a paper ruffling. Harry must have been taking notes.
After a few moments of silence, Harry said, “Alright perfect. I’ll pass this information out so everyone will keep an eye out.”
She could practically hear his smile. “Of course. You’ll be the main contact I reach for when we find something.” He paused for a moment. “Well, I’ll start processing this. Do you want to meet up for dinner?”
“I just reported a missing person and you want to make a dinner date?” Ginny asked sarcastically.
“Seemed like the time,” Harry laughed.
“Well, I could pencil you in for… let’s say half past six tonight?”
“Perfect. I get out at five tonight, so I’ll cook. What would you like?”
“Oh brilliant! I didn’t want to cook anyways.” She thought for a moment. “That baked chicken was really good last week.”
“Only the best for you, my lady.”
“And now seems like the right time to hang up. See you tonight.”
“Till then, my fair maiden.”
Ginny snorted and hung up her phone. She quickly texted Dean’s number and address along with Seamus’ number. Placing the key in the ignition, she started her car. Before she took to the streets her phone vibrated, showing a text from Harry. Don’t worry. It shouldn’t be too hard to find a popular football player. Love you and see you tonight. Smiling to herself she looked behind her before merging into traffic.
“And when you find him tell him me ma’s gonna kick his arse for missing supper on Friday,” Seamus Finnigan’s Irish accent came though Harry’s phone.
“Thanks, Seamus. You were very helpful. I'll leave the arse kicking to you and your mum,” Harry said, placing his pen down on his desk. Though it had been hard at first to follow everything Seamus had told him, Harry was sure he had enough information about Dean to write a book.
“Aye,” Seamus seemed to agree with the idea he should get to make his mate see the error in his ways.
“Okay, so if I need anything else I'll give you a call. Have a good one.” Harry hung up the phone and placed it down next to his notes.
Seamus had last seen Dean on Monday at a bar called Bloodstream. Dean had apparently taken a fancy to some girl and spent the night chatting her up, in the end leaving with her, while Seamus had been in a self-created drinking contest… containing only one player. Seamus, unfortunately, had no idea what the woman's name was or even what she really looked like, other than “not his type”.
Having a name for the bar was good enough for Harry, however. Maybe the barkeep had seen her ID or maybe she was a regular and he had to order her a cab before.
The bar wasn't too far from the address that Ginny had given him for Dean’s flat, so Harry decided to hit two birds with one stone, checking out the flat first. He rapped his fist against the green door. Giving any occupant a few moments, to reach the entryway. He waited. When no one came to his aid, he knocked again.
“Hello! I'm looking for Dean Thomas!” He waited after his call, but no sounds could be heard, other than the bustle of the streets nearby. Giving it up as a bad job, Harry left the peeling green door and made his way towards the bar.
It was two in the afternoon, but there were already patrons sitting at the counter, nursing their drinks, snacking on pretzels. No one seemed to care that he entered the establishment, all eyes seemed to be glued to the telly in the corner, broadcasting an old West Ham match.
Harry breezed his way to the bartender, who was entrapped in the game like the rest. “Excuse me,” Harry said once he was standing in front of the man. He must have been six feet with dark, clean cut hair. When he turned to look at Harry, he revealed sullen eyes, as if he never slept a day in his life.
“What can I do you for?” The barkeep asked, seeming slightly annoyed at having his entertainment interrupted.
Pulling out his ID card, Harry started to explain. “My name is Harry Potter. I’m a Detective Inspector at Scotland Yard. I’m looking for a missing man, named Dean Thomas. He was here on Monday night. Dark skin with shaved brown hair. Brown eyes. Plays for Tottenham Hotspurs Football Club. Anything ringing a bell?”
The barman scratched his left ear. “I wasn’t working Monday, but if this Thomas guy was famous I have a bet who was chatting with him.”
Harry nodded, feeling elated. “Do you know her name?”
“Romilda Vane. I’ve always said her name was fitting. Anyone remotely famous walks through those doors and she is on them like glue.”
“Do you happen to know where I might find her?” Harry asked, pulling out his notebook and writing down the woman’s name.
“Eh?” The barkeep yawned, as one of Manchester City’s forwards scored. “She will most likely be back in here within a few hours. She tends to arrive about five.”
“Great, I guess I’ll just wait here for a bit, if you don’t mind.”
“Nah, it won’t be getting busy till six anyways. Want a drink?”
Harry found a nice corner table to sit and wait. The barman, whose name was Patrick, gave him a basic description of Vane. Long, curly brown hair and with brown eyes. Patrick claimed he would notice the “look of crazy” before anything else. Of course, Harry couldn’t put that in the official report, but when the door to the bar opened Harry understood what Patrick meant.
The woman who entered had that look that made Harry want to run in the opposite direction. She kinda reminded him of the villain from One Hundred and One Dalmatians. Harry was damn glad he wasn’t famous. This was the kind of girl who would stop at nothing till she captured her prey.
Locking eyes with Patrick, the barman nodded, letting Harry know that he had indeed found his person. Waiting till she ordered herself a drink and sat down, Harry approached. “Hello, is this seat taken?” he gestured to the empty spot across from her. Vane gave him a once over, clearly appraising him.
“No, it’s wide open for you.” Vane had one of those sickly-sweet voices that made Harry want to plug his ears. Anyone who spoke like that always felt fake to him. He pulled the chair so he was sideways, ready for a quick getaway in case she decided to run.
“Can I ask you a few questions?”
Vane smiled, showing overly white teeth. “But of course. We should get to know each other better, mister?”
“Potter. Detective Inspector Harry Potter,” Harry felt smug satisfaction as Vane’s jaw dropped slightly. He pulled out his ID and showed her. “I’m looking for a Mr. Dean Thomas and I have reports you saw him on Monday night.”
“Of course, sir,” Vane recovered from her initial shock and resumed her original tone. “Yes, I met Dean here and we spent a lovely evening together.”
“And you left together?”
A flash of annoyance showed in Vane’s eyes. “Yes, does that matter?”
“Everything matters until it’s proven unimportant, Miss. Vane. What time did you leave the bar with Mr. Thomas?”
“Oh, I don’t know…” Vane looked around the bar, taking in the scene hungrily. She really was like a huntress, and the men in the bar were her prey. “Maybe half past ten.”
Harry took out his notebook and started recording facts. “And where did you two go?”
“Back to my flat. I live two doors down.”
Harry jotted down the address. “Alright, and you two spent the rest of the night together.”
Vane gave him a sultry look. “Why? Are you interested.”
At the speed of sound, Harry shook his head. “No. I’m just gathering a timeline. When did Mr. Thomas leave your flat.”
Romilda pulled out a tube of lipstick from her bag and reapplied the vibrant red to her mouth. “I would say about midnight.”
“Did he tell you where he was going?”
“Actually, that was the odd thing,” Vane twisted the bottom of the cylinder making the coloring component disappear. “He said he needed to go get milk.”
“He needed milk at midnight?” Harry’s brow quirked upwards.
“I thought it was a little odd, but I didn’t really want him to spend the night anyways.” Vane placed the tube back into her bag, snapping it shut.
“Did he seem normal?” It could have just been an excuse to leave, but it was an odd one.
“I didn’t get to know him that well,” Romilda claimed derisively.
“He just grabbed all his things and left?”
“Alright,” Harry placed his final thoughts into his notebook. Then he pulled a card out of his jacket pocket. “If you think of anything else, please give me a call, Miss Vane.”
“Will do, Inspector,” Vane drawled, batting her eyelashes. Harry figured it was time to leave. He stood and walked towards the door. It wasn’t much, but at least Harry could check with the local late-night shops and see if Dean really had gone out to buy milk after midnight. If it was just an excuse then he was back to square one.
Harry decided that Tonks needed her own ringtone on his phone, that way he wouldn’t answer it before three in the morning. Of course, that didn’t help him tonight when his stereotypical ring echoed around his silent bedroom. Jumping at the noise he quickly answered, without looking at the caller ID.
“Morning, Potter,” Tonks said before Harry even greeted the caller.
“Tonks?” Harry tried to get his brain to catch up. “What’s going on?”
“Well, apparently, John down in legal is having a fling with Sara in traffic, I mean we all knew they had a thing for each other, but he’s married. The bastard! I would cut off his — “
“Tonks,” Harry cut off his partner, “what’s going on right now that made you call me at…” He looked at his watch on the bedside table. “Quarter till three?”
“To be fair, the affair is happening now, but I guess that can wait till after four.”
“Tonks, I will hang up.”
“Well, someone’s clearly not a morning person. I’ll cut to the chase. We have another murder… In a park… With rope marks on the body.”
“Really?” Harry sat up so fast he felt his head spin. “Does she have any writing on her?”
Harry was starting to lose patience. It was way too early to beat around the bush. “Do we have an ID.” He could hear Tonks shuffle around on the other end of the line. “Come on, Tonks.”
“Yes, we know who it is.”
“What’s her name?”
Harry almost dropped his phone in shock. “Bell? As in…”
Back to index
Chapter 7: Chapter 7
Author's Notes: I would like to thank Arnel and gryffindormischief for their amazing edits and suggestions!
“2, D, L, O,” Harry read, hovering over the lifeless form of Katie Bell. To say he was stunned was an understatement. One of their own… murdered, or at least assumed murdered. After Hermione had run all the tests she confirmed copious amounts of milk within her system, ingested within the previous seventy-two hours. The letters and numbers were placed in an unusual order. The number on her forehead, the D, L, and O lined up just over her breasts. “What the hell is going on?”
“I have no idea.” Tonks stood off in the corner of the room, avoiding the body set in the middle of the chamber. She had never enjoyed observing dead bodies. When she had been forced to dissect cadavers during her training, she had hated it. There had been a small moment where she had almost quit, but she pushed through her disgust. Now, here she was, dealing with murders left, right, and center. Bloody murders.
“It just… Why Bell?” Harry’s voice sounded as if a frog had crawled into his throat and made it a home. Tonks was in the same boat, really. No one could have ever expected…
“I don’t know, but I say we head to her flat. That seems like a good place to start.” Tonks started walking towards the exit, giving Katie’s body a wide berth. Harry took the sheet that was covering Katie’s lower section, and pulled it up over her head as well.
“How did none of us notice that Katie was missing?” Harry questioned angrily as they walked towards the car park. Tonks had looked up all the victim’s information before they went and looked at the body. “I mean she worked with us, for fuck sake. We should have noticed her missing for more than a few days.”
“That’s the thing.” Tonks was rifling through the sheets of information as they walked, trying to find the circumstance she had noted earlier. Walking and talking was hard enough for Tonks, her mother always said God gave her two left feet… and cursed one to forget how to move-so trying to walk, talk, and read was out of the question. She tripped, sending the papers flying everywhere. Harry sighed and helped her collect their data.
“What were you saying before?” Harry asked, once they gathered everything and started walking again. Harry kept ahold of their info.
“Oh, yeah, right. I think it said somewhere in there,” Tonks pointed at Harry’s handful, “that she was on leave… Something about helping her mother.”
“What are the odds that she takes a holiday at the same time she was murdered?” Harry asked rhetorically. Tonks felt no need to respond. They were both clearly bothered by that fact. What were the odds?
“What about her mother?” Harry asked. “Did she not find it odd that Katie never showed up to visit her?”
“Ah, well, her mother is a mental patient in Bethlem Royal Hospital,” Tonks explained as they entered their patrol car.
“So… she had no idea Katie was supposed to be there?”
“Not as far as I can tell. The person I talked to on the phone claimed Katie showed up whenever she could, but sometimes Katie would go months without seeing her mother.” Tonks turned the ignition on and backed out of the parking spot. Harry sat in the passenger seat, scanning the reports on Katie.
“So, why would Katie take a leave to see her mother? Did someone call her and say something was wrong?” Tonks could practically hear the gears in his head turning as he tried to understand.
“That’s one of the million-pound questions, now, isn’t it?”
“Did the person you spoke to have any idea if someone called?”
“I asked, but she said she had no idea. She claimed that they don’t call patients’ families unless something was extremely wrong, and Mrs. Bell was apparently stable for the last few months.”
“So,” Harry drawled. Tonks chanced a glance over to him. He was facing her and his eyes alight. “We have something really odd going on here… maybe something that will give us a new lead?”
Tonks shifted her shoulders, popping them. “Your guess is as good as mine, but honestly…” she tried to keep her voice level, methodical, but that was never her style. “I think we might be on to something.”
Katie Bell’s flat was in what Tonks would describe as an average London building. Three stories, brick exterior, the kind of place most Londoners lived in. It was in Balham, just a few streets away from the public library.
As they approached the first floor where Katie’s flat was located, Tonks remembered that they hadn’t talked to the landlord to get a key yet. Just as she was about to remind Harry, he turned the knob and the door swung open. A state of disarray met them. Furniture was overturned, papers and books were scattered across the floor, broken china lay like mines.
“What the hell?” Harry said as he walked in, dodging an upturned end table. Tonks followed her partner, trying to make sense of the scene. To the left of the front door was a hallway, the doorframe streaked with spots and slashes of red.
“Harry,” Tonks pointed over towards her observation. Harry nodded and walked towards it. He stared at it, his face so close his nose nearly touched the stains.
“Looks like blood,” Harry claimed finally as he pulled a pair of disposable gloves from inside his jacket and put them on, “dried as well. I would guess it’s been there for a while, most likely over a week.” Pulling out his phone, he made a quick call to the Forensics department, requesting they send someone in. After ending the call, he looked around the corner and let out a low whistle. “The bedroom is just as bad.” He walked off, leaving Tonks to start taking inventory of the living room. She noted all the broken items, the ruined furniture, and stains, of what she also thought, must have been blood that peppered the wood floors. She pulled on her own gloves.
“Hey, Tonks,” Harry called from across the flat, “remember how Katie was really good at identifying people?”
“Yeah?” Tonks started walking towards the sound of Harry’s voice. He was in a little study, across from the toilet. The moment Tonks walked in she understood Harry’s call. The room was trashed just like most of the house, but in here was a board, a board filled with ripped photos from their case. Tonks recognized the top half of the security image from the Susan Bones case, only the legs of the people remained. Then there was a map with red pins, connecting the two parks where Susan and Cho had been discovered.
“She was trying to figure things out on her own,” Harry said looking at the board himself. “And I have a feeling that whoever killed her might have been a little mad about her trying to figure out the case.”
“I would be too,” Tonks said moving closer to the board. She studied some of the handwritten notes Katie had made. “Do you think the person who trashed this place only ruined the facts that were correct? Because look here, this note is left untouched but the photo is ripped.”
Harry nodded. “I think so, but we can’t be certain. Maybe they missed something that could be useful to us.”
“I’m going to take photographs of the rooms,” Tonks said, pulling out her phone. “I want to remember how everything looked before we start going through things.”
“Good idea. Try not to touch too much, the blokes from Forensics should be here shortly.”
Tonks started to snap photos while Harry made a call to Moody. They waited until the crime scene crew arrived setting up a quarantine. Harry and Tonks took the opportunity to avoid the organized chaos and slipped outside to talk to the neighbors. No one claimed to have heard anything odd within the last few weeks. When the two inspectors arrived back to the flat, the crew had already taken prints from the living room, some of the smashed glass, and the computer in the study.
“We left that for you,” one of the crew told Tonks, “We figured there may be something on there, but it’s password protected.”
“Okay, thanks,” Tonks went into the study and opened the MacBook. The screen lit up and asked for a password instantly. Though Tonks had always liked Katie, she never was close enough to her to know what she may use for a password. The only hint that was given was the word “Oli”.
“Do you know if Katie knew an Oliver?” Tonks asked Harry as he checked over some of the scattered files.
“Eh?” Harry responded, clearly only half listening. “No… not as far as I know, but to be fair I never really talked with Katie.”
“Do we know who some of her friends were? Maybe they know…”
“Boot was her partner, we should talk to him about her personal life.” Tonks nodded and placed the laptop into a plastic bag the crew had left. They wanted to take it back to Scotland Yard to check for any unusual conditions, maybe removed blood.
Tonks and Harry checked over all of Katie’s notes. She had many hypotheses, but each one less likely than the one before it. She had all the hard facts placed in the front section of a notebook, but there was nothing new for Harry and Tonks to take from her notes.
“We’ll keep it,” Harry claimed, placing it in another bag and setting it on top of the laptop. “Let’s head back to The Yard and talk to Boot.”
“So, what you’re telling me is,” Ginny drawled, trying to keep a level head, “that you were gone for just over a week and you can’t remember anything?”
Dean looked sheepish. “Yeah, I mean, I remember getting a drink with a bird at a bar, then going back to her place… then, nothing until I woke up this morning.”
Oliver Wood shook his head. “Dean that… that’s a large gap. A week and two days.” He turned to look at Ginny. “Have you already called the police?”
“Yes, I informed them he arrived this morning. The officer I spoke to said it wasn’t completely uncommon for people to go on a bender and forget things,” Ginny explained to the coach. “But when I mentioned it was over a week, he advised me to have Dean get a psych evaluation.”
“Well, that’s a given,” Oliver snorted.
“I agree, but Dean… where did you wake up? Was everything normal?”
“Yeah,” Dean was nodding profusely. “I was in my own room and I just figured I left that broad’s flat early in the morning and passed out in bed. My head hurt, but it wasn’t the worst hangover I’d ever had.”
“And you just thought it was the next day?”
“Yeah, until I looked at my phone and saw thirty missed calls, fifty missed texts, and the date.”
Oliver scrubbed his face with his hands. “Alright, I’m gonna call someone in from Nightingales… Have them come check him over.”
“Are you sure? I think this may be longer than a quick check up,” Ginny advised, “maybe we should have him go in and see someone for a full eval.”
“Is that really necessary?” Oliver practically moaned, “They may only need to talk with him for ten minutes…”
“Do you really think the conversation will only last ten minutes?”
Dean was watching the two argue, his head whipping back and forth. Finally, he decided to throw in his two pennies. “I think I should go in and talk to them for a while.”
Both Ginny and Wood turned to look at him. “Are you sure?” Oliver questioned.
“Yeah,” Dean nodded. “I think something must be wrong if I forgot an entire week.”
“I agree,” Ginny said taking out her phone. “I’m going to start working on the press release. This is going to be a tricky next few weeks, Dean. So, my advice is to lay low… don’t go out on benders or anything extreme. Maybe have Seamus come over, watch a film or something. Just… keep a low profile.”
“Oli?” Terry Boot’s confusion didn’t bring hope to Harry. Back at Scotland Yard, Harry and Tonks had sat down with Terry, asking anything they could think of about Katie’s personal life. When they inquired about the name Oli, Boot seemed to draw a blank.
“Nothing?” Tonks asked eagerly. “It was the password hint on her computer.”
“I mean… yeah, she’s mentioned the name a few times,” Boot looked between Harry and Tonks. “To be honest, I kinda… blank out when she started talking personal to me.”
“Shit,” Harry couldn’t help but mutter. Who else would know anything about this Oli?
“We could talk to her dad,” Tonks suggested, “Oli could be her brother or something.”
“No, I don’t think so,” Boot was scratching his chin. “I think he was a boyfriend or something… I remember she mentioned football and his name.”
“Oli… football,” Harry murmured, trying to make his brain make any connection. “Oliver… football.”
Suddenly Tonks gasped. She looked excitedly at Harry, practically bouncing in her seat. “Harry, isn’t one of the coaches from Tottenham Hotspur Football Club named Oliver?”
Harry thought for a moment, trying to remember Ginny mentioning anything about an Oliver. “Actually… yeah, I think so, Ginny mentioned something about an Oliver Wood.”
“Holy shit!” Tonks proclaimed, looking between Harry and Terry, “We need to talk to him.”
“Yeah, we do,” Harry agreed standing. “We should also speak to her father again, because this is a long shot.”
Tonks seemed to deflate. “Okay, I can see that point. How about you talk to the father while I meet with this Oliver Wood.”
“How about I meet with Wood. I have a connection into the stadium. Not to mention I was the person searching for their missing player till he came back.”
Tonks glared at him. “Why should I be stuck with the old doctor and you get the good looking ex-football star?”
‘Because I already have an in, like I said. Besides you don’t know if the doctor is old. He could be like one of those doctors on Ginny’s show… Mc-something-another. Okay I can’t remember names, but Ginny claims that they are all, and I quote here ‘Sizzling’.”
“Been watching Grey’s Anatomy with your girlfriend, there Potter?” Terry teased, clearly holding in laughter at his two superiors.
“Why do you know the name, Boot?” Harry retaliated, wiping the smirk off Boot’s face.
“Fine, I’ll go talk with Doctor Bell,” Tonks agreed still begrudgingly. “But I’ll be miffed if he isn’t, quote ‘sizzling’.”
“Mr. Wood is currently in the middle of a practice. Can I request that you wait until after? He should be done within the next hour,” the flirty receptionist claimed, as he looked at Harry over the rim of his glasses.
“The sooner the better,” Harry told the man. Why did receptionists like to flirt with him? Well, I may as well use it to my advantage Harry thought. “I would greatly appreciate it if you would give him another call,” he made a show of looking at the nametag pinned to the vibrant colored shirt. “Richard.”
Richard blushed profusely, instantly assuring he would do his best for Harry and grabbed the phone on the counter to make the call.
“If I didn’t know your sexual preference from… personal experience, I would be worried about our relationship there, Potter,” Harry spun around to see the lithe form of his girlfriend. She was giving him that mischievous grin that he adored so much, as she walked out one of the side passages.
“Just thought I’d give it a go,” Harry claimed as he met her halfway. He wrapped his arms around her petite frame. Harry would have been more than happy to stay in her embrace all day… really every day, but he was there for business not pleasure, no matter how pleasurable it was. “I think I’ll stick with you, though,” he murmured into her hair, before releasing himself from her hold.
“Just what every girl wants to hear,” Ginny laughed, then peering around him to see what Richard was doing, she asked, “What are you doing here, Harry?”
“As much as I would like to say I came here to sweep you off your feet,” Ginny snorted, but he pressed on. “I came to talk to Oliver Wood.”
Ginny’s head cocked sideways. “Oliver? Why do you need to see Wood?”
“Just a couple of questions…” Harry felt bad. He couldn’t discuss the case with Ginny, not when she was close to a potential friend of the deceased.
“I’m guessing it won’t have to do with his famous game winning penalty kick, now will it?”
Harry gave her a modest grin. “You may never know.”
She snorted, but seemed to know better than to push the matter, at least while in public. “Well, Oliver tends to run practice until at least four,” she paused and gave him a sly grin. “If you want you can come wait in my office. I’m sure I can find a way to occupy your time.”
Harry couldn’t help but chuckle. He pressed a quick, but meaningful kiss to her lips. “As tempting as that offer is, I think it would be better if I keep myself busy with other matters. If you’re interested, however, I would love to go get a cup of coffee. Is there anywhere nearby we could go?”
Ginny looked pleased with his suggestion. “Oh, yeah, I basically live in the coffee bar here in the stadium.” She turned to look at Richard. “Hey, Rich, when Oliver is ready call my mobile. Inspector Potter will be with me until his meeting.”
Richard glanced up from his computer, looking slightly put out over the fact Harry was leaving his lobby. “Sure thing, Miss Weasley.”
Grinning, Ginny led Harry away from the office portion of the stadium and towards their destination, small talk flowing between them as they walked.Not awkwardly, Harry had to admire that. No matter the situation, his conversations with Ginny always felt… well, right.
They went up to the counter and each ordered their drink, Harry, of course, playing his gentleman’s card and paying for both drinks. By this point in their relationship, Ginny had moved from verbally objecting to just rolling her eyes. They waited to the side of the counter, happy just to be in each other’s company. Finally, their number was called and they grabbed the two steaming cups and walked over to a table.
“So, how bad is it this time?” Ginny asked as she blew on her coffee, making the brown liquid ripple.
“On a scale from one to ten… I would say an eleven,” Harry claimed as he slowly stirred sugar into his cup.
“Well, that doesn’t mean that much, seeing as you’re always so overly dramatic,” Ginny tried to lighten his mood, which he appreciated, but really Harry couldn’t get his mind to escape the hole it was in. If he had caught this guy before…
“Stop blaming yourself,” Ginny’s angry voice drew him out of his reverie. She was giving him a blazing look, as if she was trying to set him aflame. Despite his self-deprecating mindset, he couldn’t help but find her glare, sensual. “I may not know the situation, but I know you are not the cause of the issue.”
Harry couldn’t keep meeting her eyes. The logical part of him knew she was right, but… his heart just couldn’t agree. If he had figured out who was kidnapping these people… who was murdering them. He could have saved Katie. He had three months since Susan had been found, why couldn’t he figure out who was doing all of this?
Because he was wallowing in his own self-pity, Harry didn’t notice Ginny’s right hand come flying towards his left arm, until a stinging pain hit him. “Hey!” he protested, glaring at the red head.
“Well!” Ginny fought back. “Stop thinking it was your fault. It was the lunatic’s fault.”
Harry couldn’t prevent his eyes from dropping again. “I know you’re right, but…” his voice trailed off.
“But you can’t help it.” He nodded, unable to speak due to a sudden swelling of his throat. “Harry,” Ginny prompted softly, “look at me, please.”
He did. Green met brown. “It’s not your fault, love,” she told him with conviction, “you can’t figure everything out… especially without all the information.”
“But it’s my job to get the information,” Harry couldn’t stop his mouth from protesting.
“Yes, but how can you collect all the info without anything to go on?”
Harry rubbed the back of his neck, still looking into her eyes. “I just…”
Ginny moved from the chair across from him, to the seat directly at his side. She turned her new chair so she was facing him and grabbed his shoulders so his gaze locked with hers. Then, jaw set,she enwrapped him in a fierce embrace, warmth loosening the tension from his body. They remained like that for a while, their drinks becoming tepid.
“Feel better?” Ginny asked as she finally pulled away.
Again, his voice seemed to have left him. He settled for a quick nod.
“Good,” Ginny claimed as she took a sip from her cooled coffee. “And don’t worry, I won’t tell any of the lads you needed a hug. Wouldn’t want you to look weak.” Her wit was never far from her.
“Thank you, Gin,” Harry choked out, not really caring if the entire world knew he was comforted by Ginny Weasley. No, he was thankful for the unrelenting solace he found in her presence.
“Don’t mention it. Now, let’s talk about something more cheerful than murder. I know it’s hard to do, but we should try.”
Harry knew that he had found the one, right then and there. Ginny Weasley was the only person who had ever been able to bring him back from such a stupor. As they talked about mindless things like her brother’s shop and the latest standings in the football league, in the back of Harry’s mind was the repeating thought of how incredible Ginny really was.
Eventually, Richard texted Ginny, letting her know Oliver was ready to meet with Harry, which he had almost forgotten about. She told him to go ahead, she would bring their mugs back up to the barista. Before he followed her orders, he pressed an almost searing kiss to her lips, trying to convey the depth of his feelings for her, impossible though the task may be. As he walked out the door he looked over his shoulder to see a smirking Weasley. She winked at him, knowing full well he couldn’t resist a quick look around. Smiling to himself, Harry went back to the lobby to see where Wood’s office was located.
“So, you’ve dated Katie off and on for the last five years?” Harry asked as he wrote the information down. Oliver Wood sat across from him, his leg bouncing.
“Yeah,” Wood confirmed, “we met back at Uni and really hit it off… I was in my final year and Katie was only starting out.” His eyebrows rose. “You still haven’t told me what this is all about.”
“What would you say is your current status?” Harry asked, he wanted to ask his final questions before possibly making Wood become unresponsive.
“Uh…” Wood started to tap his fingers in time with his leg. “That’s kinda personal, isn’t it?”
“It’s my job to get personal, Mr. Wood.”
“Right, sorry. I would say on again.”
“For how long?”
Wood blushed. “Maybe four weeks… maybe six. It hasn’t been that long.”
Harry nodded and continued to write down any useful information. “How well do you believe you know Miss Bell?”
“Pretty well, I guess,” Wood’s eyes started to shift towards the door.
“Do you have somewhere to be, Mr. Wood?” Harry asked quietly.
“No, it’s just…” Wood turned to look Harry in the eyes. “The last time an officer came to talk to me was because my sister was found dead. It just… I makes me antsy, I guess.”
Harry let out a deep sigh. “That’s understandable, Oliver, but please try to remain calm.”
“Back to my previous question, because you know Katie well, do you think you could help us log into her laptop?”
Wood looked stunned. “Isn’t that an invasion of her privacy?” he questioned angrily. “What reason could you possibly have to hack into her computer?”
“Technically, it’s not hacking, Oliver — “
Wood interrupted Harry. “Still, you could just ask her… unless,” Oliver visibly paled.
“I’m sorry, Oliver,” Harry said, words he was all too familiar with. “Katie Bell was discovered murdered in Clissold Park in the early hours of the morning. I’m extremely sorry for your loss.”
Oliver placed his head in his hands, resting his elbows on his desk. His body started to shake. Harry knew he was either trying to prevent tears from falling or they had escaped. He allowed Wood to have a moment. Harry could understand the need for a minute. The need to collect oneself.
“Oliver… may I ask you a couple more questions?” Harry asked softly. This was a technique Harry had picked up over the years. If someone needed more time, the quietness of his voice allowed them to pretend they hadn’t heard Harry. Wood lifted his head, his eyes rimmed red, but he gave Harry a nod.
“Thank you,” Harry shuffled himself and his notes slightly, giving Oliver a few more seconds. “On Katie’s laptop the only hint towards her password was the name “Oli”. I was wondering if you may have any suggestions.”
“Her password is Woody21015,” Wood’s voice was husky as he gave a little sniff.
“Are you certain?” Harry asked taken aback.
“Yeah, I was there when she set it.” Oliver rested his temple on his wrist.
“That’s… thank you, Oliver.”
Wood just continued to stare. Harry knew the signs… Oliver was clearly trying to come to terms with his friend’s death and it wasn’t going well. Honestly, how could it? Harry thought bitterly. What kind of person took death well?
“Do you know anything about the time she just took off?” Harry pressed. He needed to know about her timeframe, and a boyfriend or lover would be the most likely candidate to know her schedule.
Oliver lifted his head slightly to give it a little shake. “No, I didn’t know she took any time off.”
“When was the last time you saw her?” Harry’s least favorite question. It always felt so inconsiderate, but he needed to know.
Wood closed his eyes, a small tear glided down his face. “I would say a week and a half ago,” he took in a large breath. “I left her flat on Monday morning to go to work.”
“And you didn’t talk to her all week?”
Again, Oliver shook his head lethargically. “No, well, I texted her, but no, we never talked on the phone and we didn’t meet this week.”
“When was the last time she responded to your text?”
“Last night… I assume before…” Wood choked up, but Harry’s mind was reeling. From his understanding their culprit would tie up his victims… no room to text. Did that mean the kidnapper was texting people, acting as if he was the victim. In today’s society, no one called each other… and all this person needed to do was read some previous texts to understand how their victim wrote. If they used emojis, their shorthands… really, it was so convenient.
“Would you be willing to release your texts into my custody?”
Wood ran a hand through his hair. “Yeah, if you think it could help.”
“Yes,” Harry said, finally feeling as if something was going well in this case, “It would be a great help.”
“I want someone trying to trace her phone, right now!” Harry told Terry Boot as they walked through the corridors of Scotland Yard. “I also want a specialist trying to figure out if the killer used a different texting style, try to find out something about this guy.”
“Yes, sir,” Boot proclaimed as he hustled away. Harry continued towards his destination, Evidence. He needed to go get Katie’s laptop and see what she had been working on. If she had any idea about the case… Well, he needed that computer.
Once he had collected his bundle he went back to his office. He had texted Tonks and told her to meet him there thirty minutes ago, once she was done with her discussion with Katie’s father. She had told him she would be there soon.
In fact, Tonks was waiting for him, lounging in his desk chair, her feet resting on the desk itself, while her fingers twirled a pen. “There you are, Potter,” she called, “What did you find out from Wood? Is that the laptop? Did he give you some suggestions for the password?” she questioned him in a rapid-fire method.
“Whoa there,” Harry put one hand up in a stop-all motion. “First of all, get your nasty feet off my desk. Secondly, yes, Wood knew the password, so I went and grabbed the computer. Finally, tell me what you learned from Bell’s father before we work on this.”
Begrudgingly Tonks placed her feet on the carpet as she launched into her tale. Winston Bell was still distraught over their earlier conversation about Katie’s death, naturally. Ever since his wife’s sanity had depleted he had relied heavily on his daughter, and now she was gone as well.
Tonks claimed that he had no idea what the password may be, but he did offer help to try to detect any identifying marks on their future suspects. “But clearly you have had more success than me,” she claimed, glancing at the laptop Harry had placed on the desk. “So, Katie Bell knew Oliver Wood, huh?”
“They had a thing for each other,” Harry explained as he booted up the MacBook. He then went on to explain the relationship between Wood and Bell. “And Oliver says the password is Woody21015.”
“Huh, interesting password,” Tonks said, tapping her pen on the desk lightly. “Do you think the numbers represent a day in their lives?”
“I don’t know, Tonks.”
“Hey, maybe it was the first time Bell saw Wood’s Woody.”
“Jesus, Tonks,” Harry bemoaned, shaking his head. Finally, the screen asked for a password and Harry followed Wood’s instructions. The result was immediate, logging him into Katie’s profile. As the computer warmed up, programs began to open. A music application, Word processor, and her documents folder.
“Brilliant!” Tonks exclaimed as she leaned closer to the screen. Harry decided to start in the Word document, finding only a blank page. Then he moved to the files. Katie had clearly been one of those people who did not care about organization. Everything was placed into one file and some of the documents didn’t even have real titles.
“Jesus, this will be like searching for a needle in a haystack,” Tonks groaned leaning back in her chair, well, his chair, and placing her hands over her eyes.
“We can start with the most recent files and move from there,” Harry claimed, changing the sorting method as such. The document placed at the top was labeled ‘Untitled’. Hoping it wasn’t anything to personally, Harry opened the Word file. Completing a quick skim over Harry felt shocked.
“Tonks,” Harry managed to say, “have a look at this.” Tonks leaned forward and read over the document.
“No way,” she muttered, “no fucking way.”
Harry couldn’t help but agree with that sentiment as he stared helplessly at the words written in black and white before him.
February 9th, 2018
I have been informed that you noticed my little ear problem. Didn’t anyone ever tell you it wasn’t nice to point out defects in people? Never mind, I won’t hold it against you, because you seem to notice things others have not, I’m going to test your skill. I have attached a file for you to solve, and if you do, it will give you a name and number. We should have something to call one another, right? When we meet for the first time. I hope you do not have a date for Valentine’s Day yet, because I really would like to meet before then. Call me.
A Secret Admirer
P.S: Before you bother trying to respond I am using a public computer with a never used email address, so feel free to trace message to its source.
P.P.S: I would like to keep this between you and me… we wouldn’t want dear Oli getting hurt because of our new-found relationship, now, would we?
Harry scrolled down the document and found a complicated code, but Katie seemed to have failed as she had only typed five digits to a seven-digit number system, and only three letters for the name.
“How did she solve all of this?” Tonks asked looking over the cipher as well.
“I have no idea, it kind of reminds me of the code the Zodiac Killer used over in the States. My question is why Katie?”
“I have no idea, but shit, Harry, this is bad. He’s contacting people. He really is making this a game.”
“He’s targeted an officer on his case,” Harry muttered running an agitated hand through his messy hair. “How did he know Katie noticed his ear? It was only you, me, Boot and Katie in that room.”
“I don’t know, but I have a really bad feeling about all of this. I mean who in their right mind does something like this?”
“Clearly this person isn’t in their right mind, Tonks,” Harry loosen his tie, suddenly feeling as if it was suffocating him. “And I have a feeling that this is really on the beginning.”
Back to index
Chapter 8: Chapter 8
Author's Notes: As always, this was edited by the incredible Arnel and amazing gryffindormischief!
“Thanks, Gin,” Ron muttered as he sat in the passenger seat of Ginny’s car. He placed a medium sized bag behind him in the backseat.
“No problem, Ron, but what happened?” Ginny asked as she merged back onto the street, heading towards her flat. Ron had called her at ten that morning, asking if he could stay with her for a while. It had been a month since their pub night, when Ginny had advised her brother to back away from his current relationship. Now here they were, him kicked out of his own flat, by his still overdramatic girlfriend.
“I may have brought up the idea of taking a break,” Ron claimed as he closed his eyes. He took a deep breath before continuing, “And Lavender may have assumed that meant I found another woman. I tried to explain to her I haven’t, but she wouldn’t listen. She just kept screaming, calling me a ‘cheating bastard’.”
Ginny started to tap her fingers against the steering wheel. If she knew Morse code she would be spelling out the word bitch, but unfortunately she didn’t, so she settled on the beat of the song Fuck You. Really, all Ginny wanted to do was tell Ron to run while he could. To get the hell out of there, but all his junk was at their flat and she doubted Lavender would let him grab his stuff.
“Okay, can’t say I’m surprised,” she admitted, “So, what do you want to do?”
Out of the corner of her eye she saw Ron turn to look at her. “I’m done,” he held up hands in defeat. “I just can’t deal with her anymore. I figured we could fix it… and clearly we fucked that up.”
“Well, you can stay on my couch till you find a place,” Ginny placed a hand on her brother’s knee in a show of support.
They rode in silence, the radio gently crooning in the background. It took a little over an hour for them to get to her flat. They stopped at department store to grab some basics for Ron. Toothbrush, comb, more than two pairs of pants and trousers. The moment they walked into Ginny’s place, a smell of spices assaulted their senses.
“Did you make us lunch before you picked me up?” Ron asked as he set his bags down next to the door.
“No, I wouldn’t have left food out,” Ginny told her brother, rolling her eyes. Why would she have prepared lunch at ten? “Harry?” She called out.
Harry poked his head around the door jamb. “Hey,” his hair is more disheveled than usual. “I’ve made some chicken curry, you guys hungry?”
Ron had no issue getting over his initial shock of someone in his sister’s flat at the mention of food. He walked purposely towards the kitchen, patting Harry’s shoulder as he passed him. Ginny, however, waited a moment before going to grab a plate. She stopped in front of her boyfriend, leaning against the doorway.
“That was nice of you, Harry,” Ginny told Harry, giving a chaste kiss on the cheek. “I’m guessing you saw my note?”
Harry chuckled. “Yeah,” he made his voice go slightly higher, “Harry, Ron’s girlfriend is being a bitch again and I’m gonna go save him, see you later. G.” He looked over his shoulder. “I figured with Ron coming by, food was the best idea.”
Ginny nodded methodically. “Too true.” Harry offered her a hand, which she happily took, and together they joined her brother. Once everyone was situated Ginny decided to try to understand Ron’s strategy better. “So, Ron, what are you gonna do? How do you plan on getting your stuff back?”
Ron shrugged as he took another mouthful of chicken. “I don’t know, honestly,” he claimed around his food, spitting some onto Ginny’s clean table, making the woman in question glare. “Sorry,” Ron swallowed. “I mean, it’s not like she can hold onto my stuff, right? I own it…” he looked towards Harry. “Right?”
“If you paid for it, then yes, you are the rightful owner. Now, if you paid for it together then it becomes more complicated,” Harry took a sip of his water. “If you want, my mate Neville has a truck we could use to move things.”
Looking pleased, Ron nodded. “Yeah, that sounds alright, but where will I keep it all? It’s not that much, but I do have a wardrobe full of clothing and a few other things.”
Harry shrugged. “You can keep it at my flat if you want. I have an extra room I use as a study, of sort. If you want you can keep your clothing there. It might even be big enough to fit a camp bed.”
Both Weasleys looked at the inspector in surprise. “Really?” Ginny asked, placing her hand on top of Harry’s. “You would be okay with Ron staying with you for a while?”
Again, Harry shrugged. “Yeah, why not?”
Ron shared a glance with his sister. “Well, it’s just that, you haven’t known me for that long…”
Harry waved his hand dismissively. “Your Ginny’s brother, you can’t be that bad. I’ve met your mother, she wouldn’t let you be a complete slob.”
Ginny snorted. “You’d be surprised.”
Harry smiled at her. “Not to mention, I really don’t spend that much time there,” he shot Ron a sly look, then turned back to Ginny. “I must be there, what only one night a week, if that?” he asked innocently.
Ginny bit her lip, to avoid laughing. She chanced a glance at her brother, who to her astonishment, was not glaring at her boyfriend. No, he was nodding at Harry. “You would be alright with me staying there, by myself most of the time?” Ron asked, his voice much more level than Ginny would have predicted. Who was this and where was her brother?
Nodding, Harry reached into his pocket and grabbed a key ring. He went to a small silver one and spun it off. “I was gonna give this to Gin, but for now, it makes more sense if you have it,” Harry claimed as he handed Ron the key.
Ginny’s eyes went wide. Harry had gone out and made her a key for his flat. Damn he was ready to start taking some big steps, not that she was complaining. On the contrary, she was ecstatic. They had never talked about the future, but letting her brother stay at his place and making her a key…
“Would you want to stay here, Harry?” Ginny asked, making both men give her their full attention. “I mean, I can share my cupboard space.” Ron looked between his sister and her boyfriend, Harry, however, smiled at Ginny. “It’s like you said,” she clarified. “You’re here six out of seven nights of the week. Why not just make it seven?”
She held his eyes. Neither one turning away, admitting doubts. No, they were on the same page, they both could tell this might amount to more than just a few nights or weeks. “That works by me,” Harry spoke slowly, beaming at her. “I’ll text Neville and ask when we can borrow the truck.”
“Hey, Tonks,” Harry called as he walked passed his partner’s desk. She was clearly focusing hard on something, leaning forward, eyes moving rapidly back and forth. Harry backed up and looked to see what had drawn Tonks in.
Harry could see the email that had been sent to Katie, two months ago, open on her desktop. Next to it was an email, Harry had never seen. “What do you have there?” he asked.
Tonks didn’t look away from the screen, but she said, “Terry Boot just received an email from the same account as Katie.”
Harry’s pulse seemed to quicken. “What?”
“Yeah, that’s what I said, except add ‘the’ and ‘fuck’.”
“What does it say?” Harry asked, stealing a chair from another desk and wheeling it over to sit beside Tonks.
Tonks cleared her throat dramatically. “Good Morning, Terry. I hope you don’t mind such an informal greeting. I feel as if we already know each other… Actually we have met, but I doubt you remember. That’s fine. I’m not a very memorable person. Just your average Joe, really. Anyways, I hope we can meet again soon. Oh, and feel free to share this with all your little friends. I’ll be in touch with them soon enough.”
Harry stomach seemed to fall from a twenty-story building. “He’s fucking playing with us!” Harry’s rage burst from him like a faulty pipe. It had been three weeks since Katie had been found murdered. Harry and Tonks had been working tirelessly, trying to find any evidence that could amount to a lead, but clearly this madman was clever. There were no fingerprints left at Katie’s apartment. No cameras from the local area picked Katie up. The email user information had brought up a fake identity.
Despite the absence of any damning evidence, Harry and Tonks had not given up hope. They had gone back to the previous girls and searched through their emails. In the end they had discovered neither Cho or Susan had received any suspicious emails. Harry had also request to have the email address in question be opened to them. He and Tonks were still waiting for their appeal to be pushed through.
“I know,” Tonks agreed, rolling her neck around in a circle, light cracks being heard. “But what do you suggest? We still have no way to get this guy. Hell, we still have no idea what this guy really looks like, except for the ear thing.”
“Which he knows we know about, so he is most likely hiding it,” Harry interrupted, running a hand through his hair. “So that leaves us with practically nothing. Why hasn’t our request to see the entirety of his email gone through yet?”
“I don’t honestly know,” Tonks admitted, checking her own email for any updates. “Moody has been pushing for us, but oddly nothing has happened…” Tonks voice trailed off as she looked over her computer screen.
“Tonks?” Harry asked cautiously. It wasn’t often that Tonks zoned out, that was more his department.
“Harry,” Tonks whispered, as she turned to face him. “What if our guy has an inside man?”
“Like someone here in the department?” Harry couldn’t even fathom the idea. He trusted all these men and women. He had known most of them for years now. Meet their significant others and children. The idea that one of them was a mole…
“I don’t know,” Tonks bit her bottom lip, but her eyes were hard and determined. “It’s just odd how well informed this guy is… Not to mention how hard it seems for us to catch a break. Maybe someone in the station is — you know — working against us.”
Harry shook his head. “I don’t wanna think like that until we have proof… We can't start distrusting each other. We need to work as one.”
Tonks held up her hands in surrender. “I agree. It was just an idea.”
Harry looked over his shoulder. No one around the office seemed to be paying them any attention. “Let’s just go to Moody and see if this email can make our application process faster.”
They stood together and walked towards the staircase to the upper level, where the higher ups worked. As they moved, Harry couldn’t stop himself from thinking about Tonks’ suspicions. What if one of their own was in league with the killer?
Harry had never known the joys of living with someone until he spent the last week at Ginny’s. Sure, he had spent the night with people, and yeah, at the academy he had used the barracks, but this was different. There was no agenda between him and Ginny. They could spend the night watching Netflix, playing video games, or just sitting in each other’s company reading books. To be fair he typically did spend most nights at Ginny’s already, but there was always a small part of him that figured it was questionable. He had his flat and she had hers, but this last week had been different. They had taken to calling it “theirs”, something Harry loved. It had only been seven days, but they had been an amazing seven days.
Now on this Saturday afternoon, they took control of the sofa. Harry sitting up, his feet resting comfortably on the coffee table while Ginny used his lap as a pillow.
“What is the point of leaving the movie off there?” Ginny complained, sitting up, as the credits rolled. “I mean honestly, the book didn’t end there, so why should the movie.”
Harry laughed and pressed a chaste kiss to Ginny’s cheek. “It’s all about money, Gin. Apparently, it makes the world go round.”
Ginny huffed out her annoyance. “Yeah, well, now I need to wait another two years to see the conclusion.”
“But you already know how it ends,” Harry protested.
“Yeah, but I wanna see how they mess it up. I can’t think of a single movie that follows the book to the letter.”
Harry shrugged. “Directors want to make sure the movie isn’t too slow.”
Ginny flicked his nose in mock irritation. “Stop playing the devil’s advocate and just say I’m right,” Ginny deadpanned.
“Yes, dear.” Harry gave her a sarcastic salute.
Ginny laughed. “Good, now to make up for your indiscretion you should —“ Harry was unable to hear the end to Ginny’s request due to his phone, which was resting next to his feet, lighting up and playing the loud stock ringtone. Both he and Ginny looked over at it.
“Hold that thought,” Harry said as he grabbed the noise maker and slide the green bar. “Potter.”
“Wotcher, Harry,” Tonks voice came through the receiver. “How are you?”
“Hey, Tonks,” Harry said slowly. “What’s going on?”
“Oh, that’s good,” Tonks acted as if Harry had never spoken. “I’m personally out to go buy a couple avocados. I’ve been told it they can help make a mean salsa.”
Harry’s breath hitched. She used two of their code words. After Katie’s murder they decided to come up with some warning phrases for things such as “being followed” or “possible suspect”. This time it was the former.
“Oh, really?” Harry tried to keep his tone light. “Where do you tend to buy your avocados?”
“Oh, do you know of The People’s Supermarket? Down on Lamb’s Conduit Street?” Tonks’ voice remained calm and collect, which Harry had to admire. Sure they were trained to act a certain way, but that didn’t mean they could handle it when the situation arose. He quickly rose out of his seat and started putting on his trainers.
“Oh, yeah, I love that place,” Harry made a fake cheery laugh. Ginny’s eyes were watching him, confused and concerned. “You know what, I need to get some avocados too. Wanna meet up in about ten minutes?” He knew he was much further than ten minutes away, but if Tonks’ follower was listening he may get scared by the idea of another person arriving.
“Yeah, ten minutes sounds perfect,” Tonks claimed. “How about I wait for you in the front of the store. I know the clerk, so I’ll just chat with her for a while.”
“Wanna chat until you get there? I have a great new Ginny story for you,” Harry said, since he needed to keep the conversation going.
“Oh, I have a story for you. Remember Cole?” Tonks started to ramble. It was another technique they had come up with. If the person who was being followed was still feeling uneasy, they would tell a story. That way the stocker would think everything was normal, just friends talking. Harry quickly muted his side of the call, letting Tonks talk.
“Ginny, Tonks thinks that someone is following her. I’m going to head over to her.”
“Oh, shit!” Ginny exclaimed, getting off the couch. “Is she alright? Can I help? How are you going to get there in ten minutes?”
“I have to go grab my bike from my flat,” Harry explained as he seized his coat off the wall hook. Ginny’s head was cocked to the side, so he felt complied to explained. “it’s unmarked police motorbike, so I can move through traffic quickly.”
“Do you want me to text Ron and ask him to meet you halfway? I’m pretty sure he’s at the flat.” She had already pulled out her phone.
“No, the keys are in my pocket. I’ll be back as soon as I can.” Harry closed the door behind him and immediately started sprinting down the corrid.
Tonks had become accustomed to having people watch her over the years. She often dyed her hair crazy colors, she had been known to punch out grown men, and not to mention, her legs went on for days. This, however, was different. She had been returning home from the gym when the hairs on the back of her neck stood on end. A chill ran down her spine and taking a quick glance behind her, as if checking out a shop window she had just passed, she saw a man staring at her.
He was about twenty feet away, his attention focused on her. Tonks had quickly turned her head back to look in front of her. The decision to call Harry was immediate. After what happened to Katie, she wasn’t taking any risks. She had chosen a shop that was two kilometers away to meet at, but she needed to really see if he was following her.
She remained on the main streets, mindlessly making small talk with Harry’s phone. He hadn’t spoken for a while, allowing her to seem busy to the people of London. Following a bend in the pavement, she stopped in the alcove of one of the shops that lined the way, waiting with bated breath.
The man walked by her, seemingly not noticing her. She waited. Two seconds… five seconds… at ten she peered around the alcove. The man in question had stopped walking and was staring into one of the windows farther up the street. From her sideways view, Tonks could see he was wearing sunglasses, which were unnecessary with the darkening sky. His dark hair was tied a long ponytail, but she turned her attention to the ear she could see. Large black headphones covered over the entirety of the ear, making it impossible for Tonks to see if the ear was whole.
The street around her continued to bustle, but she kept her well-trained eye on her suspect. Taking her phone, she snapped a few images, capturing the side profile. Just as she was about to leave her hiding spot, the man turned. He pulled his glasses down his nose, revealing, dark grey eyes. They seemed to be trying to penetrate her mind. Then he flashed a straight tooth grin and moved back into the busy street.
Tonks stayed frozen in place for two seconds, then tried to follow, but she had lost him in the crowd. Swearing under her breath, she started to follow the direction the perpetrator went, while returning to her call screen. “Harry, I’ve lost him. He’s making his way South down Lamb Conduit Street.”
The silence from Harry’s side was broken by howling wind. He must be on his bike, Tonks thought.
“Okay. I’m about two minutes from the shop. Did you ever get there?” Harry’s voice was muffled and full of static.
“No, I was able to duck out of the way,” Tonks explained as she moved down the street. “He walked by my alcove, but he stopped a little way in front of me. I was able to take a few pictures, but I wasn’t able to take one when he turned to look at me.”
“What did you see?”
“Grey eyes, black long hair, straight teeth, pale skin.” Tonks moved around a couple holding hands in the middle of the pavement, but she still couldn’t find the man. “I can’t find him, Harry. He disappeared. “
“Fuck! Okay, meet at the supermarket.”
“The way he smiled at me…” Tonks hesitated, looking between Harry and Moody. “It’s like he knew who I was and was thrilled to see me.”
“That’s just fucking messed up,” Harry complained as he rested his chin on his hands. He had picked Tonks up at the supermarket and instantly taken her to Scotland Yard to get a sketch artist. It hadn’t taken Tonks long to get a basic drawing in place. As clumsy as she was, Tonks was great with faces. They now had a APW out on the sketch. Not to mention the side profile photos. “Why would this guy let you see his face? He’s been dodging cameras left, right, and center, but he lets you see him… It makes no sense.”
“I agree with Potter,” Moody said as he fiddled with the collar of his shirt. “Why would he want you to see him?”
“I don’t know,” Tonks groaned as she placed her cheek on the cool top of Moody’s desk.
“Do you think you’re his next target?” Harry asked cautiously. He didn’t like the idea, but he couldn’t think of many other reasons to why this guy was scoping Tonks out.
“If that’s the case, I need you to be on high alert, Tonks,” Moody claimed. “We believe Bell was taken from her flat directly, so I recommend finding somewhere else to stay for a while.”
“I can go stay with my mother, but she lives pretty far away… All the way up in Scotland.”
“I would offer my flat,” Harry said looking at his partner, “but Ginny’s brother is already staying there. I mean, maybe, you could stay with Ginny and I’ll just stay with Ron.”
“You’re living with Ginny?” Tonks demanded, “why wouldn’t you tell me something like that? I thought we were friends.” Tonks brought out her bottom lip, making Harry roll his eyes. She used humor to hide most things, but Harry could always tell.
“We’ve had more pressing issues,” Harry reminded her. “Besides it isn’t that big of a deal. I spent most nights with her before Ron started staying at my flat.”
“But this is an everyday thing?”
Tonks beamed at him. “Moody, look at little Harry here. He’s growing up so fast.”
“Stuff it,” Harry glared at the brightly-haired woman.
“Would you be alright if I stayed at your place with Ron?” Tonks asked. “I mean I’m no neat freak, but I don’t leave dirty dishes in the sink.”
“If you’re okay with it and Ron is fine with it…. Then, yeah. I have no issue with it.”
“Alright, check with Ron now. I can bring a camp bed over or something.”
“No need. Ron is staying in the spare room with a camp bed. You can have my bed. I’ll just give you some fresh sheets and you’ll be all set.” Harry pulled out his phone and started typing, sending a message to Ron.
“Perfect… so tell me about this Ron.”
Tonks had adjusted to sharing flats with people back at uni. She and three strangers had rented a place fifteen minutes from campus. However, sharing with Ron at her partner’s flat was a little bit odd, even for her.
Harry had set up a dinner at the flat, so they could meet each other comfortably, through their connecting link, Harry. Tonks had also invited Ginny, because she figured it would make sense for Ron’s sister to be there as well. Not to mention, she figured Harry would have invited her anyways, and she thought it would be hilarious to beat him to the punch.
The meal went swimmingly. It turned out both she and Ron enjoyed The Great British Bake Off, so they had that going for them. They discussed how much they loved to watch the puddings being made, but how badly they failed at baking themselves.
Harry and Ginny had left around nine, telling them that if they felt awkward they could always switch, but Tonks didn’t want to do that. As she observed the couple during dinner, she could tell how much they enjoyed being in each other’s company, but they seemed slightly off, as if they were having a silent fight. Tonks could still tell that they wanted to be with one another, but clearly there was something more going on with them.
Ron seemed to notice as well, but he said no comment. No, instead, he watched his sister walk out of her boyfriend’s flat, hand and hand with the man in question, a small smile gracing his lips.
“They’re good together,” Tonks said once the two of them were alone.
“Yeah, Harry is a decent bloke,” Ron admitted as he sat back on the couch, flicking on the television.
Tonks to the chair set diagonal to the screen. “You’re alright with them essentially living together?”
Ron shrugged. “Yeah, I mean, they basically were before. This way I’m able to stay here until I find a place.”
Tonks nodded knowingly. “And you think they’re good for each other.”
Ron smirked. “Not that I would ever tell them.”
“Of course not,” Tonks laughed. “We wouldn’t want them to be to content with themselves.”
On the way back to Ginny’s flat, Harry resumed their conversation from before dinner. “I really think it would be for the best, Gin.”
Scoffing, Ginny kept her focus on the pavement in front of her. “Really, Harry? You think locking me up in my parents’ house is a good idea? Why in the name of Jesus Christ would I do that? I haven’t even been threatened.”
“Yet!” Harry persisted, “you haven’t been threatened yet. This guy is deranged, Gin! He threatened Oliver. Now he may have stalked Tonks… I may be his next target, which in turn means you.”
Ginny rolled her eyes. “Or you’ll catch him before he does anything else insane.”
Harry stopped dead in his tracks, grabbing her arm stopping her as well. He turned her to face him. She could see the panic present in his face. “You don’t know that,” his voice was deadly quiet. “I can’t let him harm you, Gin.”
Ginny had never witnessed Harry so frightened. Clearly this had been plaguing him, but her pride wouldn’t allow him to win. She was a grown woman, who shouldn’t be shipped off to her parents’ house off in middle of nowhere. It was the pleading look in his eyes that softened her, however. “Harry, I understand what you’re saying, but I can’t just go hide. I have a life here in London: a job, friends. Hell, I have a coupon for ice cream at Jimmy’s that expires next week.” She grabbed his hand and gave it a sharp squeeze. “Come on, let’s go back to the flat.”
They walked in silence for the remainder of their trip, which was only a few minutes, but it seemed to stretch for days to Ginny. Once they unlocked the front door, the couple immediately headed for the sofa, taking opposite sides, facing one another. Ginny had pulled her knees up to her chest, resting her chin on her kneecaps. She took a deep breath before speaking, “Harry, I understand what you’re saying. I really do, but it’s impractical.”
Harry shook his head, his hands carded through his messy tresses. “I don’t think it is. This guy has no qualms about hurting people. I’ve lost everyone I’ve ever cared about, Ginny,” his green eyes looking at her beseeching. “And I can’t —“ Harry voice ended as he choked up.
Ginny knew that talking about feelings was a challenge for Harry. He had explained that during his childhood, his abusive aunt and uncle had refused to truly care for him, making his understanding of love, family, and emotions rather twisted. For a child, exploring emotion and talking with loved ones is so vital, but instead Harry was shut in a small cupboard.
Then at the age of thirteen he had been reunited with his godfather, Sirius. Sirius had found him in one of the local parks, explained he was James’ best friend, bringing proof in the form of photos. Harry had told Ginny it had been the best few weeks of his life. Sirius would meet him every day at after two in the park and tell him stories of his parents, which until that point he hadn’t even known their names, Lily and James.
Sirius had explained that Lily and James had been murdered, unlike the story of the car crash his relatives claimed. Evidence had pointed towards Sirius, but really it had been Peter Pettigrew, another friend of James from school. Sirius claimed he had escaped prison to clear his name, but he wanted to meet his godson.
Thirteen-year-old Harry had been ecstatic. If Sirius cleared his name he could adopt him, help him escape from the Dursleys. Then one night, uncle Vernon had a little too much to drink, he had started to beat Harry, calling him a pathetic waste of space, unwanted, everything no child should hear. Sirius had been nearby and heard Harry scream. He had rushed into the house, violently throwing Vernon off his godson. Aunt Petunia had called the police, claiming everything was Sirius’ fault. Harry had watched in horror as his only connection to his parents disappeared in the back of a squad car. Two years later, Harry received a letter informing him his godfather had passed away in prison. There hadn’t even been a chance for Harry to say goodbye.
At the age of eighteen he received the will of his parents and Sirius. He had been left a substantial amount of money by both parties, but Sirius had also left Harry his motorbike. Harry had never told anyone that story before, which touched Ginny. She was more than happy to hold him as grieved for the family he never had the chance to really know, allowing him to feel close to someone.
Death was a common thing for Harry Potter, but it took a heavy toll on him, and if it was someone he loved, it cut him deeper than most, his guilt complex making him blame himself. Still, she couldn’t do it. She wouldn’t live her life in fear until the killer was caught. Hell, she didn’t even know if this guy knew about her.
She scooted up the couch, kneeling right in front of Harry. “Love,” Ginny kept her voice calm and soft. She cupped his face in her hands. “I’ll be fine. What can we do to make you feel better?”
Harry’s eyes seemed to shut on their own accord as he took a deep breath. “You won’t go stay with your parents?” he gave it one last effort.
Harry’s head sagged down slightly, making his chin come closer to his chest. “Well, even after Ron leaves my flat… I would like to stay here with you. I want to make sure that you’re not grabbed in the middle of the night.”
Ginny moved her thumb under his chin, tilting his attention back up to her face, not the sofa cushions. “Alright,” she agreed easily. She had been thinking about it anyways. She had adored the last week together. “Anything else?”
Slowly, Harry opened his eyes, allowing the green to meet brown. “Would you be okay with a tracker being used with your phone?”
Tilting back slightly, Ginny took in the full form of her boyfriend. “Excuse me?”
“I would like to have your phone’s tracking information, so if you go somewhere that makes no sense, I would be able to get to you…” Harry’s voice was pleading, “I know it sounds extreme, but we believe this guy keeps his victim’s phone to text loved ones with. That way there is less suspicion.”
Honestly, Ginny wasn’t a huge fan of the idea. It felt like a breach in her privacy, but it would only be temporary. Not to mention, if it brought Harry a little peace of mind it would be worth it. “Alright,” she consented, “but only until you find this guy.”
Harry nodded fervently. “Of course.” He held his arms out wide, clearly needing to be physically assured. Ginny moved into his arms, wrapping her own around his waist.
“It will be okay, Love,” Ginny muttered into Harry’s ear. She saw goosepimples rise on his arms, as he turned his head, pressing his lips to hers.
“I can’t lose you, Gin,” he whispered, his breath tickling the tip of her nose.
“You won’t,” Ginny connected their mouths again, moving her arms up his back, towards his neck. She scooted her backside backwards, then tilted their bodies down, so she was laying on her back. Harry above her. She pressed feverish kisses along his jaw and down his neck, stopping in strategic places to give more attention.
Harry’s body pressed into hers as he focused on that spot right near her ear. Ginny moved her hands down to the hem of his shirt, allowing their bodies to separate slightly as she pulled it over his head. As soon as he was free from his confines, Harry helped her free herself as well. His lips made their way down her body, starting at her neck down to just above the waist of her jeans. No words were needed between the two of them, as actions really did seem to speak louder.
Back to index
Chapter 9: Chapter 9
Author's Notes: I would like to thank Arnel and gryffindormischief for their help on this chapter, and every chapter in this story! Both do incredible work, which I highly recommend.
“So, you think it was just a scare tactic?” Tonks clarified, her hands gripping the sides of her chair tightly. Moody had called her and Harry into his office at nine that morning to discuss the last eight weeks. It was eight weeks since Tonks had suspected that man with the cold grey eyes had been following her. Eight weeks of living with Ron at Harry’s flat.
Not that Ron was bad or anything. No, on the contrary, they had become fast friends. Ron had talked about his brothers and sister, while Tonks relived some of her best cases on the force. Three weeks into their friendship they had even gone on a double date. Ron had set her up with his brother Charlie, who was staying in England for the next two months, while Tonks had dragged Hermione Granger to the restaurant. She and Charlie had really hit it off. Ron and Hermione, however… well, they seemed to think foreplay involved arguing.
Professionally, within those eight weeks, Harry and Tonks had gone over every possible route they could for the stalker. They figured this man was connected to their case somehow, but it was as if he had vanished into thin air. They checked multiple shop cameras, talked with vendors along the pavement, but the result was always the same: zilch. After that, they had gone back to their primary focus - the emails from their supposed killer. There had been radio silence since Terry’s communication. Even after they finally received access to the account, the sender had only written out the two emails. No drafts, nothing in the trash, there wasn’t even spam.
A crew watched the email, waiting for it to be logged back into, but after a month no one, other than the crew, had accessed it. Now here they were, Moody telling them that the potential stalker was a scare tactic.
“I mean,” Harry rubbed his temple, as he looked at his partner. “It is a rather effective maneuver. Not to mention it did distract us from focusing on other aspects of the case, if that was their ploy.”
Moody nodded his agreement. “That’s what I’ve been thinking as well, Potter. It took up some resources for the department and messed with both of your minds. Throwing you off your game.”
Tonks’ grip tightened making her fingers turn white. Harry, who had been watching her gently extracted her death grip from the chair. “So now what?” Harry had turned his head towards his superior. It wasn’t often that he asked help so directly. That alone seemed to clear the fog from Tonks’ mind. If Harry really had no idea what they needed to do… well, they were in a really bad situation. Not that she didn’t already think that, but this just solidified the idea in her mind.
Moody ran a hand over his stubbled chin. “To be honest, Potter. Tonks. I have no idea. There haven’t been many cases that stumped me like this, but this one…” His voice trailed off as he closed his eyes. Tonks and Harry locked eyes. It wasn’t often Moody showed any signs of distress.
“Moody,” Tonks said hesitantly, “have you heard back from the profiler?” Though both she and Harry were trained in profiling, they had requested an outsider to see if there was anything they may have missed.
The grizzly man grunted. “Yes. He said he would respond with his report by Monday morning. Apparently, he is rather busy with his own case… git.” Moody’s voice became harsh, even for him. “It would take a few hours for him to go through it all.”
“Why are we using him then?” Harry asked.
Moody shrugged and rolled his neck, trying to loosen the knots. “He’s the best, according the Americans. He helped solved some of the most challenging cases across the pond.”
“And that just makes him have a big head,” Tonks commented picking at a nail. She hated dealing with overconfident people. They were always such pricks.
Grunting, Moody nodded. “Well, for now I guess —“ Whatever Moody was going to suggest was interrupted by Harry’s phone. All eyes turned to look at the black-haired inspector’s pocket.
“Sorry,” Harry said as he reached for the distraction. He quickly checked the caller ID, then answered. “Hey, what’s up?”
Tonks could hear a higher pitch voice talk on the other side. A woman clearly, and Harry had answered casually, making Tonks assume it was Ginny.
Possibly-Ginny was talking fast. Tonks could see her partner’s face drain of color as the voice continued to explain something. Then he finally responded, “Okay. Don’t worry. I have it covered.” Then he hung up the phone.
Both Moody and Tonks watched Harry, expectantly. “That was Ginny,” Harry explained, placing the phone back into his pocket and standing. “Dean Thomas has gone missing again.”
Harry looked around the crowded parking lot of Brawny Brute Fitness Club in Belmont. Based on Ginny’s information the last place any of Dean’s friends had seen him was at this gym. Apparently, Dean and his mate, Justin, had been coming here for years. Since before Dean was a professional football player, at least.
He and Tonks made their way to the front counter where a small, but strong-looking woman sat typing something out on her computer. Harry approached her, trying to smile. Something he learned a long time ago was that a smile went a long way, especially with women.
“Hello,” Harry made sure that his voice was direct, showing he meant business. He pulled out his ID card as well, placing it on the counter. “I’m Detective Inspector Harry Potter. I called earlier. Mr. McLaggen should be expecting me.”
The woman regarded the ID, then nodded. She grabbed the phone on the console and dialed a number. “Hello, Mr. McLaggen. A Detective Inspector Potter is here to see you.” The other side responded quickly. The receptionist looked up at Harry and Tonks. “Go through that door to the left. Head up the stairs. Third door on the left.”
“Thanks,” Tonks said as they followed the instructions. McLaggen’s office was large, and overly cluttered. Trophies lined the walls on shelves, photos of McLaggen hung around the room. The man himself was seated behind a small desk that sat in the center of the floor, eating some grey, foul smelling dish.
Once he noticed the inspectors, McLaggen stood and offered his hand to Harry. “Hello,” his voice had a slight Irish accent to it. “Name’s Cormac McLaggen, but you know that already.” He sent Tonks a flirty smile. “Call me Cormac.”
“Mr. McLaggen,” Tonks said as she positioned herself in front of him, “We are looking for a missing person. Dean Thomas. He is a regular here. Have you seen him lately?”
McLaggen scratched the back of his head as he sat back down. “Yeah, I know Dean. He’s one of the few blokes I will stop to talk with. He’s a professional football player. Though,” he sent Tonks another coquettish smirk. “I’m better than he is. I can play any position really.”
“That’s great,” Harry had to resist rolling his eyes. He could tell he wasn’t going to like this guy. “When was the last time you saw Mr. Thomas?”
Glaring, McLaggen looked over at Harry. Clearly, he would rather focus on the female in the room. “I would guess about three days ago.”
“Do you have cameras here?”
“Yeah, of course. Why?” McLaggen clearly wasn’t the brightest light in the attic.
“Can we look at the footage of Dean?” Tonks requested, pulling out her phone to take down notes.
McLaggen leaned back in his seat, an eyebrow raised. “Why? My word isn’t good enough?”
“Your word is fine, but we would like to see who else he may have spoken with, what time he left, those kinds of things.”
“What’s in it for me?”
Harry couldn’t prevent the snort from coming out of his nose, making McLaggen scowl at him again. “How about we help you dodge being arrested for suppressing evidence?”
McLaggen’s eyes went wide. Harry felt immense pride at scaring the bugger. He was clearly used to getting everything he wanted and Harry loved being the one to ruin his streak.
“Alright. Alright. I’ll pull it up on my computer.” It took only a few minutes for the footage to be displayed on the screen.
“Thanks,” Tonks said as she rolled McLaggen’s chair away from his desk, giving the man in question a push out of his seat. “Can you bring up some water for me and Potter?”
Harry and Tonks leaned towards the screen while McLaggen hustled out of the room, muttering under his breath. There were seven different tapes to watch, all in black in white. They sat side by side, all within the same time frame. It took them a moment to find Dean, but eventually Harry found him on tape four. They watched as the man lifted weights for some time. Then he moved through the different tapes. Going from four to six, where he stopped at a vending machine. Dean bought a water and as he took a large sip a dark-haired woman approached the area. Harry noticed a visual response from Dean, as he stiffened. The woman put her money into the system and bought her own drink. They couldn’t see the woman’s face, as she was facing away from the camera. Dean suddenly leaned against the side of the machine, and started chatting to the woman.
“Who is that?” Tonks asked as Dean and the woman walked away from the area together. She paused the tapes giving them a clear view of the lady. She had heavy-lidded eyes and a strong jaw. Harry would have called her pretty if she didn’t look so haughty, a trait he couldn’t stand.
“No idea. We’ll ask if McLaggen knows her later. Check where they go,” Harry said. Tonks clicked play and they followed the couple as they left the gym together, talking away, water bottles clutched to their sides. Just as the door shut behind Dean and the woman, McLaggen walked back into his office.
“Mr. McLaggen,” Harry gestured him over. “Do you know who this woman is?”
Cormac took a moment to observe the image before, the full display of the woman’s face. Then he shook his head. “I’ve never seen her before.”
“Do you keep track of when members come in and out?” Tonks asked.
“No, not by name or anything. They just need to swipe their tag and they can run any of the machines.”
“Would the tags contain personal information?” Harry pressed.
“Uh… I can ask my IT guy.”
“See that you do,” Tonks said, making McLaggen move quickly out of the room.
“So, he vanished after talking with a woman,” Harry started to formulate. “Just like last time… He has bad luck with ladies.”
Tonks snorted as they waited for McLaggen to come back with their possible lead.
“Ginny, dear, are you alright?” Molly Weasley’s voice broke through Ginny’s hazy mind like a fog horn. “You look peaky. Have you been eating enough?”
Ginny could barely contain her eye roll. “Yes, Mum. I’ve been eating. I’m just stressed…” Ginny voice fell as another wave of nausea crashed over her. Ever since she had arrived at her mother’s home, Ginny had felt ill to her stomach.
Molly had requested all her children come to the Burrow on Friday, because finally they were all in England, well, every child except for Percy. Ginny had left work early to make it. Wood was left in charge of the “Dean hunt.” Dean… Dean was the cause of her anxiety.
He had gone missing again! No one from the stadium had seen him since before Monday. He had been scheduled for a meeting with Oliver on Thursday, but Dean never showed up. So, Ginny had called Harry instantly. She was not dealing with this missing person bullshit again.
She had called around to some of Dean’s known friends and finally, Justin had told her they had gone to the gym on Tuesday. Now here she was sitting in her mother’s spotless kitchen, head resting on the polished wood of the kitchen table, while her mother interrogated her about her eating habits.
“Do you have a fever?” Molly asked, leaving her guard over the stove to feel Ginny’s forehead.
“A slight one,” Ginny admitted, raising her head ever so slightly from the cool wood. “I checked it before I came, but it’s also the warmest day we’ve had in a while.”
“What other symptoms do you have? You may have the flu.”
Ginny inwardly sighed. This is why she wasn’t going to say anything. She didn’t need to be mollycoddled. Her mother, however, wasn’t going to accept anything but a list of all her symptoms now. “I don’t know, Mum,” Ginny looked up into the eyes she had adopted. “I’ve been tired and…” Ginny tried to remember how she felt when she woke up, “and like I’m swollen or something.”
Molly’s red eye brow rose inquisitive. “Swollen?”
“Yeah,” Ginny moved sat fully up and rolled her shoulders around, trying to make her body feel slightly more alive. “I swear I felt like a balloon this morning.”
“Huh,” Ginny’s mother tapped her fingers against the table. “Have you been sick?”
Ginny thought back over the week. “No,” she admitted, “but I have felt like I would be.”
Molly’s eyes lit up with what Ginny had to call excitement, which was odd seeing as they were discussing her illness. “Really, and when would you get this feeling?”
Her mother’s voice was starting to become smug, something that annoyed Ginny to high heaven. “I don’t know,” she said trying to keep calm and not yell at her mother. That never went well, if the past was anything to go by.
“Maybe when certain foods are being cooked?”
“Yeah, I guess…” Ginny couldn’t understand why Molly’s smile was growing rapidly. “What, Mum?”
Molly placed a hand on Ginny’s shoulder. “Ginny, dear, is it possible that you may be pregnant?”
“No!” Ginny objected instantly, making her mother smile more.
“So, you’re telling me you and Harry are practicing abstinence?” Molly’s diabolical smirk was well in place by now.
Ginny had to fight hard to prevent blush from creeping onto her cheeks. Oh, this was a topic she never wanted to discuss with her mother. She settled on glaring, that seemed to be the least incriminating approach.
However, Molly Weasley could read her children like books. She knew that a glare from Ginny meant she didn’t want to admit the truth, but it was more than likely the answer that was less favorable. “I’m assuming you’ve been using protection?” Ginny just continued her silent war, but she did nod. “Well, nothing is one hundred percent,” Molly laughed at the look of fear and annoyance that flashed on Ginny’s face. “Oh, dear. We Weasley’s are a special bunch. I mean, your father and I were pregnant three out of the six times while using protection.”
Ginny visibly flinched. Oh, how she hated discussing or thinking about her parents’ sex life. Molly seemed to take pity on her daughter. “How about you run to the village and grab a test or two. If you hurry none of your brothers will have arrived.”
Jesus Christ! Her brothers… They did not need to know anything about this discussion. Ginny rushed to the door, grabbing her bag and keys while moving as fast as her legs would take her. The drive to the local village only took ten minutes on a regular day, but today it took hours. Then trying to decide which brand to buy was nearly impossible. Ginny had never done this before. She had no idea which were the most accurate. Settling on the three most expensive, she tried to ignore the clerk’s sideways glance at her left hand. The trip back to her childhood home was even longer than the trip to the village, taking nearly a week.
After turning off her car, Ginny rushed through the back door, not stopping to talk to her mother, who was still positioned in the kitchen. Ginny went up to the only toilet in the house and followed the awkward instructions on the back of the boxes.
Never had time dragged so slowly to Ginny. The instructions said to wait five minutes, but really it was a month before the timer on her phone dinged. Oddly though, Ginny couldn’t lift herself from her uncomfortable makeshift seat on the edge of the bathtub. Those three white sticks sat on the sink, waiting to possibly change her life forever.
She wasn’t ready. Plain and simple. How could she be a mother? She went out with her friends often, she had no experience with babies, being the youngest, not to mention she wasn’t married, and Harry! Harry was always at work, he drove a motorbike which certainly wasn’t the family vehicle of the year… How could they be parents?
A knock on the loo door made Ginny jump, nearly falling back into the tub. “Ginny?” Molly’s voice came muffled through the wood. “Can I come in?”
Without looking towards the sink, Ginny went over to the door and opened it for her mother. Molly walked in and her eyes instantly looked at the three little sticks. Her face gave nothing away as she placed a hand on Ginny’s back and guided her to sit on the seat of the toilet. “Have you looked yet?”
Ginny shook her head. How could she look? When as long as she didn’t check those three little sticks she could pretend everything was the same. Molly smiled at her daughter, clearly knowing the young woman’s thoughts. “Ginny, dear, would you like me to tell you what they say?”
Eyes shutting on their own accord, Ginny nodded. It would be much easier to have her mother break the news. Hell, maybe if she was pregnant Molly would be willing to tell Harry, because Ginny sure as hell didn’t want to.
“All three say positive.” There it was, Ginny was pregnant. What the fuck was she going to do? She and Harry had never discussed children, hell, they never even really discussed marriage. Sure, they loved each other, and Ginny knew she would want to marry him, but did he feel the same?
“Maybe you should go talk to Harry.” Molly’s soothing tone made Ginny open her eyes. Her mother’s brown eyes were filled with tears. Happy tears, Ginny hoped. She knew how much her mother loved grandchildren, but out of wedlock? Then she was pulled into an almost bone breaking hug, while Molly let tears flow. “My baby!”
Ginny let her own emotions free. Tears sprang to her eyes, then cascaded down her cheeks. She was having a baby. An unplanned baby, but the image of a black-haired, green eyed, toddler came into her mind. Chubby cheeks and tiny fingers. Little booties and small blankets. Yeah, this baby was unplanned, but Ginny already felt connected to him or her. Love, Ginny realized. She already loved her baby, before even seeing him or her.
Molly released her, and Ginny stood wiping the tear tracks off her cheeks. She needed to go back into London. Hopefully Harry would be off work by the time she arrived. They had a couple of things to discuss.
“Had Dean ever mentioned a Bellatrix Lestrange?” Harry asked Oliver Wood and Seamus Finnigan, as he, Tonks, and the two football professionals sat in Wood’s office. The IT bloke from Brawny Brute Fitness Club hadn’t been able to find any information on the woman who left with Thomas, but fortunately for Harry and Tonks the woman apparently had a rap sheet. They had sent in a photo of her to be searched through The Yard’s database and Bellatrix Lestrange had appeared.
There hadn’t been much on her, but that one traffic ticket had given them plenty to start. However, Bellatrix was no simple woman. The address listed for her was a vacant lot. Any numbers attached to her name, disconnected. That left them with talking with Dean’s mates, checking to see if he had ever talked about Bellatrix.
“No,” Seamus claimed, “is that some bird he was with?” Harry inwardly sighed as Wood shook his head as well. So, either Dean had never met Lestrange before the gym, or he had never mentioned her to anyone.
“We’ve been granted permission to go into Dean’s flat and search. We plan on checking his computer. Do you know his security password?”
Seamus looked around the room awkwardly. “I don’t think I’m supposed to say.”
Tonks nodded. “Normally you shouldn’t, but we need to check to see if he sent any emails that would tell us where he went with Ms. Lestrange.”
Wood placed a hand on Seamus’ shoulder and nodded. “It could help find him.”
Letting out a deep sigh, Seamus grabbed a pen and paper and wrote down the passwords and usernames to his main accounts.
“Thank you, Seamus,” Harry said as he stood. He offered his hand to both men. “If we have any other questions we will call.”
“What do you think happened?” Wood asked as Tonks followed Harry’s lead.
Shaking his head, Harry pulled on his jacket. “I have no idea. We can’t come up with any reason for Dean to vanish. We’re hoping to find some answers at his flat.”
Oliver let out a deep sigh, but nodded. “Good luck.”
Harry and Tonks left the office and started down the long passageway towards the car park. Harry’s basic jingle started to echo off the walls. Reaching into his pocket, Ginny’s face was lighting up his screen. She had set the picture so long ago. She was holding the phone up high in the air, sticking her tongue out at the camera, while Harry was asleep on the couch in the background.
“Hey, Gin,” Harry said once he slid the green answer bar. “What’s up?”
“Hey,” Ginny’s voice was hesitant and slightly lower than normal, the first and second warning signs to Harry. “I was just wondering when you would be home.”
“Eh, well, we need to head to Dean’s flat, but probably after that. Why? Did something happen?” Tonks’ head turned to observe her partner.
Harry counted five seconds before Ginny answered, sign number three. “Yes, but nothing that can’t wait.”
Tonks rolled her eyes. She reached towards Harry and took the phone away from his ear, placing to her own. “Hey, Ginny, it’s Tonks. Harry will be there in ten minutes.”
Harry couldn’t hear Ginny’s response, but he noticed Tonks’ brow raise. “Yes, I’m sure. I can head to the flat on my own. Harry and I will meet back up later to discuss what I’ve found.”
Another muffled response then Tonks said, “Alright, see you then.” Then she hung up Harry’s phone and handed it back to him. She looked at her partner. “You’re gonna go talk with your girl. Something’s wrong, I could tell from her voice alone.”
At first Harry wanted to object. He should stay working on the case. He may catch something that Tonks would miss at Dean’s flat, but the look Tonks gave him quelled any thoughts of protesting. “Alright, let’s go.”
Tonks left Harry at front door with an ominous “good luck.” Before entering, he silenced his phone; he had feeling this was going to need his undivided attention. He found Ginny resting on the couch once he walked inside. A cup of water was placed in front of her, looking untouched, while the television played softly in the background.
“Hey, Love,” Harry said as he walked over towards her. He placed a chaste kiss on the top of her head as he rounded the corner of the couch and took the empty seat cushion. Ginny watched his progress with a cautious smile.
“Hi, Harry. How’s the case going?” Ginny decided to start off with small talk, well smaller than what she needed to tell him.
Harry raised an eyebrow, but explained what they had found so far. Ginny barely listened. She would feel bad for not caring about Dean later, but right now she couldn’t stop thinking about what she needed to tell Harry. Not to mention how to tell him.
“But let’s talk about something else,” Harry said quickly. He started rubbing her arm, trying to comfort her. “What’s wrong?”
Ginny resist the urge to run. Running and hiding would be so much easier. Instead she cleared her throat. “Harry… do you want to…do you want…” She couldn’t finish her sentence. Harry’s eye brows knit together in concern.
“What is it, Gin?” He scooted closer to her, wrapping his arms around her. “You can tell me anything, you know that.”
Ginny rested her head in the crook of Harry’s neck, breathing in his comforting scent. After letting out a long breath, that most likely tickled his neck, Ginny heard a voice just like hers asked, “Harry do you want children?”
She could basically hear his mind trying to work out what was happening. “Yes,” he admitted slowly, “why are you asking?”
His breath was coming out shallowly. Clearly, he had a guess at what this was about, but he needed her to say it. Hell, she needed to say it for herself. The entire drive home from her parents’ she had tried to say the word. She took in a finally lung full of his scent and said, “I’m pregnant, Harry.”
Ginny had heard many stories of how significant others discovered a pregnancy. Some people faint, some freeze, others cry, but Harry just continued to hold her, breathing in and out. Nothing was said for what felt like eternity. Ginny needed to know what he was thinking. Was he happy, mad, scared, excited?
“Harry?” Her voice was timid to her own ears. She tried to pull back so she could look at his face, but he held her tight. She allowed another minute of silence between them, before gently extracting herself from his arms. This time, he allowed it. When she could finally see his face, she fell more in love with the man than she already was.
Harry James Potter was beaming at her, his eyes brighter than normal. “How far along?” His voice shook.
“I don’t know yet. I haven’t been to a doctor, but I took three tests. All were positive. I called one of Fred and George’s friends who is a doctor and she agreed to meet with me on Monday morning. It’s at nine if you want to come.”
Harry looked at her like she had lost her mind. “If I want to come? Of course, I want to come!” He pulled her tightly to his chest again.
“So, you’re okay with this?” Ginny asked, her anxiety getting the better of her.
“Okay with it?” Harry’s voice was still trembling, which was more intense as she was pressed to him. “I mean, we didn’t plan it, but Ginny it’s wonderful.” He pulled away to so he could kiss her. First on the forehead, then her nose, cheeks, and finally her lips.
“We should find a place together,” Harry started to ramble, once he tore his lips from hers. “Maybe someplace further from the city. Someplace with a garden. Oh, I should try to get better hours. More baby friendly hours. What are baby friendly hours?”
Ginny had never appreciated Harry more than she did in this moment. Some men would have retreated if their girlfriend of less than a year told them she was pregnant. Others would insist for an abortion, but Harry… no, he was talking about finding them a house with a garden, whether they should get a dog or cat for the child to grow up with. Harry truly was the most amazing man she had ever met.
“I say we get one of those play structures,” Harry was sit rambling. “My aunt and uncle built one for my cousin. They never let me play on it, but it looked like a lot of fun. I say one with a swing and — “
“Marry me,” Ginny interrupted. She had no idea what made her say it, but she knew she wanted it. She wanted to marry Harry. She wanted to have this baby with him. To raise their child with all Harry mentioned. To be each other’s family.
Harry looked at her stunned, but slowly a smile crept onto his face. “One second.” He rushed off towards the bedroom. Ginny had no idea what he was doing, but he returned thirty seconds later. His left hand was clenched in a fist. He grabbed her left hand in his right, then looked up into her eyes. “Yes.” Opening the fist, he revealed a diamond ring.
The silver band worked well with the mid-size diamond that sat in the center. Ginny watched with surprise and adoration as he slid it onto her finger. It fit as if it had been made for her.
“It was my mother’s ring,” Harry explained as Ginny stared speechless at the addition to her hand. “Sirius gave it to me before he was arrested again. I’ve kept it all these years.”
“But how — how does it —“ Ginny wanted to know how it fit her so well, but words were not her friend right now.
“How does it fit so well?” Harry asked. He just seemed to know her so well. “I took one of your other rings to a jeweler’s and had it resized to match. I did it about two months ago.” He gave her a hard-loving look, as her eyes opened wide in surprise. “Gin, I knew this was it. I knew you were it. I don’t want to just get married because we’re having a baby. I want to marry you, because of you.”
Ginny wanted to cry, and if anyone asked, she would blame it on pregnancy hormones. She didn’t even know if the hormones were already present, really though, even if she hadn’t been pregnant… if Harry had told her those things… She was a goner. Pressing her face into his neck, she let her emotions bubble over, Harry rubbing her back, lovingly whispering nonsense words of comfort. She wanted to tell him it was all his fault, but she couldn’t. Her throat felt like it was six times its normal size.
They clung to each other, both emotionally unstable. Eventually, Harry moved them so they lay side by side on the couch, Ginny still tucked into his chest. He pressed a kiss to the crown of her head. Ginny let his arms comfort her as the fatigue that had been plaguing her pushed her into sleep.
Tonks parked the car at Scotland Yard and headed for her desk. After searching Dean’s flat for over three hours she had found nothing about Bellatrix or leaving the area. Nothing out of the ordinary for the average football star.
She had brought in his laptop to be search more thoroughly, but as far as she could tell it was another dead end. As she settled into her desk chair, her mind drifted to Harry and Ginny. She hadn’t heard from her partner since she had dropped him off. Tonks had hoped it would be a simple conversation and Harry would have called her to get back to work, but no, apparently it was as big as she feared.
Tonks opened her email and started responding to the usual messages. After about thirty minutes, she received a text from Moody calling her into his office. She went instantly, hoping they finally got something for the milk case.
“Good, Tonks you’re here. Where’s Potter?” Moody grumbled as Tonks walked into the man’s office.
“He had a private matter to attend to, sir,” Tonks explained. Moody had always been accepting to personal lives, though he lacked one of his own. He never wanted anyone to be lonely. More than once he and Tonks had gone out drinking together, discussing everything from the latest scores to love.
Moody nodded and sent another text, most likely to Harry. “Alright, we will start without him.” He picked up a dark yellow package container from his desk. “This arrived five minutes ago.” He showed her a typed letter and a basic smartphone.
“Who sent it?” Tonks asked uneasily. She had an assumption, but she didn’t want to be right.
“We have no name, but we have a strong reason to believe it’s the person who murdered Bell, Bones, and Chang.”
“Does the letter mention them?”
“Yes, with specific detail.” Moody grabbed a pair of glasses and roughly pushed him onto his nose. “He also mentions how the next person will be the ‘bell of the ball’.”
“Holy shit!” Tonks exclaimed. “Do we think Bellatrix Lestrange?”
“Possibly,” Moody confirmed, “but it’s the final paragraph that… well, it says ‘maybe next time I should go for a feisty red-head. They do have their merits, don’t they, Mr. Potter’.”
Tonks became a statue. “You don’t think…?”
Moody nodded gravely. “I want to get Harry and Miss Weasley to a secure location. I’ve had Boot call every minute since I’ve read the letter.”
Tonks grabbed her own mobile and called Harry. It instantly went to voicemail. She then tried Ginny, at least this time it was ringing.
“Hello?” Ginny’s voice sounded as if she had just woken up.
“Ginny!” Tonks practically yelled, “Where are you? Is Harry with you?”
“Yes, we’re at my flat.” Tonks could hear shuffling. “Do you need to speak with Harry?”
Air could be heard as the phone moved from one ear to the other. Then Harry’s voice, also sounding as if he had only just woken, came over the line, “What’s going on, Tonks?”
“You and Ginny need to come to The Yard,” Tonks explained to her partner, “We’ve received physical letter that ties directly to you and someone whom we assume is Ginny.”
Harry was silent for one second… two seconds… then finally he spoke, but not to Tonks. “Gin, go pack some clothing and all essentials you’ll need for a few days.” Ginny’s response was muffled, but she could pick up Harry’s reticence easily. “I don’t know yet, but we’re gonna go find out. Tonks?”
“We’ll be there soon.” Then the line went dead.
Tonks looked up at her boss and saw a rare smile twisted on his face. “Good thing you have Ginny’s number.” Letting out a deep sigh, Tonks agreed. Then she turned her attention to the other item from the package.
“What’s with the phone?”
Moody handed it to her. The display showed only three words. The black backdrop making the white letters stand out: “Come Find Me.”
Back to index
Chapter 10: Chapter 10
Author's Notes: Huge thanks to gryffindormischief and Arnel for their help on this chapter. They both have contributed a lot of time and effort to this story, and for this I thank them.
Moonlight shone through the thin curtains of the Scottish lake house Harry was currently residing in. The small, yet efficient bedroom of their safe house was warm, giving off the impression of safety, or maybe that was only because Ginny’s body was so close to his. After all the emotions he had experience within the last twenty-four hours, Harry welcomed the feeling of security.
Yesterday had been like any other day on the force. Going to talk with business owners, trying to make connections within a case. Then, Ginny had called and she had flipped his world upside down. She was pregnant… pregnant with his child. Not to mention she asked him to marry her. Lord, how he loved her.
He had been thinking about it for a while, the idea of becoming Ginny’s husband. She seemed to understand his almost obsessive attitude when it came to his work, his past held no importance to her, and hell, she loved playing games, watching movies, and yelling at the referees’ blindness in football matches just as much as he did. Ginny Weasley was his ideal woman, there was no doubt in his mind that she was the woman meant for him.
Then… then after he had received the best news of his life, he had read the worst of his life. That crazed maniac had threatened her… his world. Not by name, but Jesus — that bastard — clearly identified Ginny in all but name in that fucking letter.
Unable to stop himself, Harry tightened his arms around Ginny as she slept. Her head was cradled in the crook of his neck, a small smile pressed into his skin. Harry loved the feeling of her close to him, but at the same time… They wouldn’t be in this mess if it wasn’t for him. His name had been written in that letter. His name was the one that loon had singled out, out of everyone in the world, everyone in the department, it had been Mr. Potter and because of that Ginny had been thrown into the mix.
If Harry were stronger he would have separated them. He would have pretended to never have known her, so maybe that lunatic would never think she was vital to his existence. Fool the killer into believing that this red-head had no importance to him, then Ginny would be free from the looming shadow that was hovering over them. Sure, he would still have a target on his back, but Ginny would be safe. She would be able to continue her life as she pictured it, not stuck in this cottage in the middle of nowhere. But Harry couldn’t do it. This was the woman he loved, his child… their child was currently growing in her. He couldn’t pretend as if they meant nothing, even if it meant saving them.
Having grown up with no family, no one who cared for him… this was everything to him. Did it make him selfish to want to keep it close to him? Yes, but Harry couldn’t let go.
Ginny sighed in her sleep, her body somehow pressing closer to him. Harry took the arm that was not constrained by her form, and gently pushed the hair out of her face. She looked peaceful, even though her world was crashing around her. She hadn’t panicked once. Not while Moody explained the letter. Not while driving hours into the night to reach the safe house. No, Ginny Weasley was calm in a storm, which was just another reason to love her, in Harry’s opinion.
The sound of the bedroom door creaking open made Harry’s skin crawl. Looking fast, he saw Tonks’ figure leaning on the wooden door jamb. In the pale light, he could see her hand moving, gesturing for him to follow her. Slowly he disentangled himself from Ginny, rising out of the warmth and comfort to trail Tonks.
The three of them had driven for hours after Harry and Ginny had arrived at Scotland Yard. Moody had shown him the note, which was like having a knife stabbed into Harry’s gut. The Detective Chief Inspector had used a tone Harry was unfamiliar with, having become gentle and almost soothing. A vast change from his normal gruffness. Moody had told the three to head to the undisclosed safe house (the address written in a sealed envelope) and stay there until he sent word.
Normally, Harry and Tonks wouldn’t have been sent out of the target’s zone, but this case… Moody had almost pleaded with them. Harry hadn’t wanted to leave. Hell, he wanted to catch this bastard more than ever, but it was the look Ginny had sent him. It wasn’t fear, per say, but there was a vulnerability in her eyes that made him back down. She was worried about him, not herself. A trait Harry knew all too well. Tonks had protested, but Moody hadn’t backed down. However, he had agreed to let Harry and Tonks take the phone and try to understand why it had been included in the package. It had already been scanned for any dangerous material, but Harry had a suspicion there was going to be more to the message.
Tonks led Harry into the sitting room, where two cups of tea rested on the center table. “I figured you could use a little pick me up,” Tonks explained as she took a seat on the sofa. “It’s been a long day.”
Harry smiled gratefully at his partner. Tonks was one of those few people who could understand Harry’s moods without asking. She probably felt his brooding throughout the entire road trip. He took the empty armchair, which sank under his weight. “Thanks,” Harry blew at the steam emanating from the mug he had picked up.
“How are you doing with all of this?” Tonks asked staring intently at him. She knew how much he valued family and loved ones. There was no doubt she understood how much this all upset him.
Harry closed his eyes, letting out a deep breath. “To be honest, not well.” Harry didn’t mind admitting his weakness to her. Tonks was a trusted confidant. He trusted her with his life every day; hell, he trusted her with Ginny’s life, not to mention his unborn child’s life, and there was no higher praise in his mind.
Tonks nodded. “How about Gin?”
“She’s strong,” Harry felt a small tug at the corner of his mouth. He looked around the room, as if he was afraid of eavesdroppers, then he said, “She told me she was pregnant yesterday.”
“No way!” Tonks voice seemed to fill the room.
“Shhhh,” Harry whispered looking over his shoulder towards the closed bedroom door where Ginny hopefully continued to rest. “Don’t wake Gin.”
“Sorry,” Tonks guiltily returned her voice to a normal level. “But Jesus, Harry, that’s great! It is great, right?” Her expression had shifted, showing worry.
“It’s the best news I’ve ever heard,” Harry assured. He could feel a goofy smile spreading across his lips, but he was too enamored with the idea to care.
“That’s incredible. Little Harry having a little Harry…” Tonks’ smile dropped as another thought seemed to come to her mind. “Oh, fucking Christ! Gin’s pregnant and some fucking manic is threatening her.”
The smile fell from Harry’s face as Tonks reminded him of his current situation. He nodded, unable to speak as his throat had seemed to close upon itself.
“I wondered why you gave in so quickly to Moody,” Tonks mused, “I figured you and I would fight his request tooth and nail, but after you relented I knew I was doomed to follow.”
“Sorry, but I…” Harry wanted to explain himself to her. He wanted her to understand every thought that had been going through his head over the last day, but his damn throat just won’t allow it.
It seemed Tonks didn’t need him to talk, since she waved a dismissive hand. “I would have done the same thing in your position. Besides, this gives us a chance to see what is going on with that phone.” That phone… halfway to the safe house the phone Moody had sent with them had started to play a jingle, a happy sound that should have filled Harry with joy, but instead struck him with fear. The message that had previously been displayed had faded, and instead had been replaced with blank lines. There were six sections, all of which were separated by empty space. It was like a hangman board, just without the hangman’s stand.
“I haven’t slept,” Tonks admitted, reaching forward and grabbing some papers that lay on the table. “I’ve been trying to solve this puzzle.”
She passed him the messy pieces of paper. Tonks had re-written the lines from the phone all over the page. Letters spread over the lines. None of which really spelt out anything familiar to Harry.
“My thought was that those letters and numbers that have been left on the bodies are hints to crack this,” Tonks explained grabbing a new sheet and pen, drawing out the lines again, then she passed it over towards Harry. Harry stared at the disconcerting empty lines. Four on the first section. Two for two. Five, then nine, four again, and finally eight.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
“And do you have any definite placements?” Harry asked, continuing to study the page.
Tonks shook her head. “Not really, no, but I keep thinking this guy wouldn’t just give us these blank spaces… no, there is going to be something else. I just don’t know what yet.”
The something else established itself when light had risen. While Harry and Tonks filled page after page of paper with random words, the phone’s display lit up while that oxymoronic jingle played again. Tonks reached the device first. She stared at the screen for at least ten seconds, before she scoffed, “What the hell is wrong with this bloke?”
“What?” Harry pulled the mobile from her grasp and looked at the updated puzzle. In the first two sections ones and a two had been added, making it now display:
1 _ _ 1 21 _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
At the bottom of the puzzle another message had been added: Two Hours.
“What?” Harry repeated. He couldn’t understand. Two hours until what? What was this guy playing at? Giving them this phone, creating this hangman. Then a realization hit Harry, this person had given them a hint… he really did want them to find him.
“A one and then another one with two more spaces in between,” Tonks muttered, “and twenty-one… What the honest to God shit is this?” Her voice oozed with anger, and Harry had no answers. He wished he understood. He wished he could solve this damn riddle, find the guy and end this twisted game.
Two hours can pass quickly, especially when you’re trying to solve a murder, Harry thought, when that haunting jingle sounded from that blasted mobile phone. Harry was able to grab it first this time. The screen showed all they already knew: the two ones and the twenty-one. Slowly two R’s and two O’s formed on four different lines, presenting him with a little more to work with.
1 _ _ 1 21 _ _ r _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ o _ _ _ r _ _ _ _ _ _ _ o _
It wasn’t much, but anything was better than the blankness of before. Then, another message below the lines appeared. One Hour.
“We have one hour before the next clue,” Harry threw the phone over to his partner. She caught it and took in the new formation.
“Some R’s and O’s… great, not enough to have any real words form,” sarcasm dripped from Tonks as she took a new sheet of paper and updated her possible solutions. “What do you think this is? Is it a place? Is it his name and age? I just can’t figure it out.”
Harry rolled his pen between his fingers. “I really don’t know,” he stared at the third section. An R in the middle… after two numbers… “The date!” Harry’s voice rose above normal decibels in is excitement.
“Huh?” Tonks looked up in confusion from her work. “It’s the twenty-first.”
“Yeah,” Harry agree, poking the paper he had been working on, “the twenty-first of April. April could fit in that third section.
Tonks looked down at her sheet, then back at Harry. “Holy shit! Does that mean whatever this hints at… is happening today?”
“I would have to guess so,” Harry didn’t like being so blind when whatever was happening would happen within the next twenty-four hours. “If I had to make another guess, I would say the first section is a time frame, and that means we only have around four hours before half the day is gone.”
Ginny woke in an unfamiliar bed, in an unfamiliar room. The morning light was streaming past the burgundy curtain, making the room have a red tinge. She sat up as the previous day’s events came into her mind. Pregnancy, proposal, maniac potentially after her… all in a day’s work, Ginny thought sarcastically, but Jesus Christ. Now I’m stuck in a safe house with my brand-new fiancée and his work partner, hiding from a loon.
“What the actual fuck!” Tonks’ voice came muffled through the bedroom door. Ginny had no idea what was going on, but she had to assume Harry was there with Tonks, seeing as he wasn’t still in bed. Deciding to brave the hardwood floors, Ginny threw the covers off her and left the comfortable bed.
The safe house wasn’t very large. Five rooms: two bedrooms, a toilet, sitting room, and a kitchen. Before going to sleep last night, Harry had wanted to check over the layout of the building. Harry… He was clearly upset about all of this and if she knew him like she thought she knew him, he was blaming himself for her being threatened.
Opening the door slowly, Ginny took in the scene in the sitting room. Paper was thrown everywhere. Harry and Tonks both sat in the middle of the chaos, writing rapidly.
“What happened here?” Ginny couldn’t help but ask as she walked into the room. Both Harry and Tonks jumped, shuffling more pages around. They turned towards the new noise.
“Wotcher, Ginny,” Tonks greeted from her seat, her eyes bleary as if she hadn’t slept in days. Harry, however, stood up to greet her. He walked in front of her, pulling her into a strong hug.
“Morning, Gin,” Harry whisper in her ear, his breath tickling her.
“Morning,” Ginny held him close to her. Though she kept her face steady last night, panic had set into her as the three inspectors had described their suspicions about the mad man’s letter. Harry was a welcomed comfort. His arms somehow made her feel safe.
She tried to pull away, but Harry kept her tightly to him. Yes, she was right about how much this upset him. He had told her more than once he was no good at using his words to explain himself, so he resorted to actions. This action showed he didn’t want her out of his sight.
“Luv,” Ginny made sure her tone showed she understood, but needed him to follow her orders. “You can let go now.”
He did, slowly. It seemed to pain him slightly, but Ginny couldn’t let him start to become too clingy. It would only allow him to panic more if something small happened. Harry finally let his arms fall to his sides. Then his eyes grew wide and he started to ramble, “Oh, you must be hungry. I can go make you something. Eggs, bacon, French toast — “
“No, I’m fine,” Ginny pressed a hand to his chest, stopping his rant. “What are you two up to?”
Tonks, who had pressed her nose back into her work, looked up. “The phone is sending us a game of hangman.”
Ginny’s eye brows knit together. “I’m sorry, what?”
“You know that game with the empty spaces and letters,” Tonks explained as if Ginny were six.
Ginny rolled her eyes. “Yes, I know what hangman is, but why is the phone sending it to you?”
Harry placed his arm around her waist and walked back towards his vacated seat. “It’s giving us some sort of clue on what this guy is planning,” he sat back down, pulling Ginny into his lap, something she would never protest. “Every so often he is sending us a hint.” Ginny looked down at all the scattered pages around her. She could see six sections of lines with various letters filled in.
“What do you have so far?” Ginny asked.
Harry grabbed a piece of paper from the arm of their chair and handed it to her. “This is the most recent.”
Ginny saw six different letter and number combinations spread throughout the page.
1 _ _ 1 21 A _ r _ _ H a _ _ _ _ _ o _ _ a r _ _ _ _ _ h _ o _
“Jesus,” Ginny muttered, her brain trying to make any sense of the various letters before her. “So, you currently have no idea what any of this should be spelling?”
“Not officially,” Tonks corrected, “but we think that the third word is ‘April’ and that the first word is actually a time.”
“A time?” Ginny asked, “how do you get that?”
“We’re thinking it must be some time in the afternoon,” Harry explained as he used the arm of the chair as a table, writing letter in the previous blank spaces. “Something like fifteen forty-one.”
“So, something is happening today… sometime after noon?”
“That’s right,” Tonks agreed.
“Do you know where?”
“That’s what we’re thinking the rest of it is,” Harry crossed out a G from the forth word. “Unfortunately, it’s kinda hard when we have literally no idea where it could be.”
Ginny could see the predicament. They were on a time clock, with no idea where in the world these letters would take them. Taking a deep breath, she hopped off Harry’s lap and sat on the floor with her back against his legs. “Someone hand me a piece of paper and pen.”
The trio worked in silence. About thirty minutes after Ginny had joined them, the mobile went off again adding a three and oddly enough an F, making the puzzle read.
13 _1 21 A _ r _ _ H a _ _ _ _ _ o _ F a r _ _ _ _ _ h _ o _
Writing below the enigma warned them that they needed to wait another thirty minutes for the next message. “Okay,” Ginny started tapping her pen against her leg. “We’re assuming it goes: on the twenty-first of April at thirteen something-one, yeah?”
Harry nodded. “And that the location is some sort of farm based off the fifth word.”
“But there are a lot of farms in the world,” Tonks complained, “Really it could be anywhere. Not to mention we only have about two and a something hours until the time is up. Not to mention we aren’t getting another clue for thirty minutes, and who knows if the hints will be helpful.
“Okay,” Ginny said, “we know we are looking for a farm that starts with ‘Ha’.”
Tonks let out a deep sigh. “Yeah, in some unknown village… There are so many unknowns.”
“But we assume we’re in England, right?” Ginny pressed, pulling out her phone and typing something into her search bar. “So, how many towns have eight letters with an O and a H in those select places?”
Harry thought about it for a moment. “She has a point, Tonks. We search towns in England that have eight letters and try to find one with an O and an H in the same spot as our hangman… there can’t be to many like that. Genius!” He leaned to kiss the top of Ginny’s head. “Not to mention we still have G, L, E unused from those written on the bodies.”
“Okay, I found a site that is used for crosswords, but it’s towns and villages in England. There are one-hundred and seventy-nine to sort, but I’m sure not all of them even have an O as the second to last letter, not to mention an H,” Ginny showed Harry her screen.
“Alright, Ginny you work on making a list of possible places. Tonks, maybe check out to American towns… We know that white snakeroot grows there naturally, so this farm could be there as well. I’ll try to figure out the fourth word.”
It was slow, meticulous work. They couldn’t risk missing one town that could be the possible answer. It took a little over a half an hour to go over all of America’s and England’s, but the end result was all too promising. Within that time the phone had given them the P and L in April, warning them the next clue would be sent at noon.
“Brighton!” Ginny waved her page around. “The only place between both countries is Brighton!” Both she and Tonks were on their feet in their excitement.
“Okay,” Harry stood up with the two women, taking one of the last blank pages from the table. If we go with Brighton we have something that looks like,” he took the page and wrote out their work.
13 _1 21 A p r i l H a _ _ _ _ _ o _ F a r m B r i g h t o n
“One word left,” Tonks muttered, pulling out her pocket watch to check the time, “With only an hour and a quarter left until one.”
“And twenty-five minutes until the next clue,” Harry added. “With our luck it will only contain letters we know.”
“Okay, while you guys figure this out, I need something to eat. I’ll make us some sandwiches,” Ginny placed a quick kiss on Harry’s lips and left the room.
“We can Google search farms in Brighton,” Tonks suggested, “There can’t be to many that start with ‘ha’.”
Harry, who had been trying many names while Tonks and Ginny searched locations, had placements that would make sense for the remaining letters. He looked down at some of his attempts and one of the lines held a light. “Hangleton,” Harry muttered looking towards his partner.
“Pardon?” Tonks asked not really paying attention to Harry, her focus on her own puzzle sheet.
“Hangleton,” Harry repeated, “it’s a neighborhood near Brighton.”
That seemed to catch Tonks’ attention. “Yeah? How do you know that?”
“It’s where Grindelwald was based out of…”
“You don’t think this guy may have been a fan, do you?” Tonks’ tone was cautious. She knew the story of Harry’s rise to police fame.
A chill ran down Harry’s spine. Oh Lord, he didn’t want to think about another Grindelwald. “No… no, I don’t want to assume that. They don’t work in the same manner, besides it’s just a possible name of the farm.”
Tonks had searched something on her phone. “Yup, there is a Hangleton Farm. We are over ten hours away. Fuck!”
“Call Moody. Have them send someone local to the location,” Harry told her. They needed to get someone there!
Waiting had never been Harry’s strong suit. He hated sitting around on his arse, letting others go out and deal with the issues. That’s why he dodged being stuck on desk duty like the plague. Tonks was similar in this regard. She wanted to be out there, fighting the good fight.
Ginny was the only thing keeping Harry sane. She distracted them with tales about growing up with six brothers. It wasn’t until she was telling them about the time George had put crickets into Percy’s pudding, that Harry’s phone rang.
He answered as quickly as his fumbling fingers would allow him. “Potter.”
“Your intel was good,” Moody’s gruff voice spoke kilometers away. “We found the farm and there were cows and a greenhouse filled with growing white snakeroot.”
“Holy shit,” Harry breathed. He placed Moody on speaker, so Tonks and Ginny could hear.
“Here’s the thing. We also found a dead man in the abandoned main house.”
“Do you have an ID?” Tonks asked, sitting on the edge of her cushion.
Moody remained quiet for a few seconds before, “Dean Thomas.”
“What!” The cottage filled with three voices all at once.
“Yes, however, his body wasn’t like the rest,” Harry could hear the toll in his boss’s voice. “Granger says he was strangled. She is going to run some more tests, but she doesn’t even know if this is the same guy.”
“I’m gonna be sick,” Ginny stood in a rush, hurrying to the toilet. Even through the shut door, Harry could hear retching.
“What the bloody hell!” Harry jumped from his seat and started pacing. “Do we think it was Bellatrix?”
“She was the last person he was seen with,” Moody grunted his agreement.
“But the note,” Tonks’ head rested in her hands. “It mentioned ‘bell of the ball’. I was so sure it was referencing Bellatrix.”
“Ah, yes. The body was posed in an interesting outfit when we found him. Our killer decided to place him in a bright yellow dress.”
“Bell of the ball,” Tonks muttered, “A famous football star wearing a ballgown.”
“That’s what we’re thinking,” Moody admitted. “There was also another letter pinned to his skirt. It mentioned you again, Potter, and an important red-head.”
“Fuck!” Harry’s hands balled into fists, as he continued to pace back and forth, practically wearing out the floorboards.
“Tonks, I want you to come back to London. You can — “
“I don’t get it,” Tonks interrupted, “We solved that damn riddle before the time listed.”
“Ah that,” Moody’s tone was hesitant. “At one-minute past one the greenhouse blew up.”
That made Harry freeze. “Like boom?”
“Yes, Potter,” Moody’s voice became its normal gruff self. “The entire building exploded. Three of our men were injured, but no casualties.”
“It was a warning and a trap all at the same time,” Tonks’ mouth was agape.
“It appears so, but we need to focus on this next note. Potter you stay with Weasley. Do you know any other red-heads? Someone who could be important to you?”
“I — I don’t know,” Harry couldn’t wrap his head around it all. “I mean I like all of the Weasleys and they’re all red-heads.”
“Okay, we will start there,” Moody’s voice became muffled as he spoke to someone on the other side of the phone. “I have Boot and Robards making a team as we speak. We will have someone check on all of the Weasleys.” He paused. “Tonks, I’m going to send someone from the local station to come pick you up, that way Potter will have a car if he needs it. I want you back here in London as soon as possible. They will use passphrase seven. Be ready. Potter, you keep an eye on Weasley.”
“Yes, sir,” Tonks and Harry said together. Moody’s end went dead and Tonks disconnected Harry’s phone.
“I’m going to do one more sweep around the area,” Tonks told her partner. “You may want to check on Ginny.”
Harry nodded and walked to the toilet door. It had gone silent on the other side. He knocked lightly. “Gin?”
No sound came from the loo, but the door opened slightly, a sign for Harry to enter. Ginny was sitting with her back against a porcelain tub, her eyes red raw. All the anger that had been fueling Harry, thirty seconds ago, faded at the sight of her. He grabbed a cup on the side of the sink, filling it with the tap water, then he crouched before her, cup outstretched.
“Thanks,” Ginny’s voice was low, scratchy.
Harry pushed her slightly to the side so he could sit next to her. He rested an arm over her shoulders, pulling her into him. “Are you okay?”
She snorted. “Yeah, everything is hunky dory.” She tilted her head so he could see her small smile, that faded slowly. “No… no, I’m not really okay. Someone I know has been killed and there is a threat to me, maybe possibly my family, too. It not — “
“I’m sorry,” Harry cut her off. “If you didn’t know me. If you weren’t with — “
“Oh, bollocks!” Ginny leaned away from him and slapped his arm. “I wouldn’t care if you were the most wanted man in all of Britain.” She leaned her body back onto his and pressed a kiss on the underside of his jaw. “Your worth it, you prat.”
“How can I be worth this?” Harry’s words had a mind of their own.
Ginny flicked the same spot she had just kissed. “Because love is one of the greatest powers, and for some reason I fell in love with you, Harry Potter. Hell, your spawn is currently growing inside me. If that doesn’t show that I like you at least a little, then I don’t know what would.”
Harry felt warmth spread through his chest. “And here I came in to comfort you,” he teased, pressing a kiss to her temple.
Ginny laughed, placing her head on his shoulder. “So, what’s the plan?”
“Moody has people going to see your family, making sure they know what’s going on.”
“And what about us? We’re just supposed to stay here?”
Harry nodded. “Yeah, until Moody says otherwise.”
Ginny let out a long sigh. “Alright, well, if that’s the case, I’m going to go find somewhere more comfortable to sit.”
Harry stood and offered her a hand. “Would you like a cup of tea? Water?”
“Tea would be lovely. Why don’t we all have a cup in the sitting room. Is Tonks staying with us?”
They walked together, hands still joined, out of the loo. “No, she’s going back to London within the next few hours.”
Tonks left the small cottage four minutes after five, promising to keep them up to date on the case. Harry wasn’t used to be left behind. Typically, he was in the throes of the battle. Not that he planned it that way, but sitting back and letting others take the lead was a new feeling for him.
He and Ginny spent the day laying around the cottage, chatting, reading some of the books that remained on the ancient shelf. It was like they were on a holiday in those scarce moments they could forget they were hiding from a killer. Around nine that night, Harry’s phone rang. The caller ID claiming Terry Boot.
“Boot?” Harry answered, “What’s happening?”
“Detective Inspector, I have to report that all but one of the Weasleys are accounted for.” Boot’s words made Harry’s stomach free fall.
“Who?” Harry couldn’t stop the simple word from trembling.
“Fredrick Weasley, sir.”
Harry’s free hand combed violently though his hair. “For how long?”
“According to George Weasley… about fifteen hours.”
“Where was his last known location?” This drew Ginny’s attention, who had been pretending to be reading one of the large tomes they had found. Her eyes were wide with fear, as she stared.
“He apparently went on a breakfast date. Mr. Weasley claimed his brother was supposed to close the shop with him, but he never showed up. He didn’t think anything of it until we mentioned someone may be tracking them. He figured that Fredrick was just extending the date. Apparently, it happened a few times before.”
Harry couldn’t look at Ginny. “Have you already contacted the date? The restaurant where they went?”
“George Weasley said that his brother was going to the lady’s flat and he didn’t know the name of the woman.”
“Well, Jesus, Boot! What do you know?” Harry couldn’t stop himself from bursting. What was he supposed to tell Ginny? Her brother was missing and there were no leads?
“George Weasley gave us permission to search through Fredrick’s room. He had a note with an address on it. When we arrived… well, there was a tablet with a live broadcast on it… and well, Fredrick is tied to a chair.”
“Does he look hurt?”
“No, but he’s just sitting there, he’s awake but just staring at the wall.”
“Is there a mic on your end of the feed?”
“No, not as far as we can tell.”
Harry wanted to scream. They could see Fred, but had no idea how to get to him.
“Sir,” Boot pulled Harry’s focus back. “There is another person that comes into focus every so often. A woman with black hair. She never shows her face, but when she enters the picture, she makes Fredrick drink something then leaves. Sir, I think it may be milk.”
Back to index
Chapter 11: Chapter 11
Author's Notes: Arnel and gryffindormischief have been amazing throughout every chapter. Helping to catch any mistakes, so a huge thank you goes out to them.
Ginny stared out the windshield trying to resist the temptation to cry. She and Harry were driving as quickly as the small Scottish backroads would allow, heading back towards London. She, heading to be with her parents and brothers, well, most of her brothers, and Harry going to meet up with Tonks. Scotland Yard’s team had been analyzing the video that contained Fred for over two hours now and had found nothing. The moment Harry had heard Fred was in danger he told Ginny to pack up and get ready to leave their safehouse. So far, the two hours they had been driving seemed much longer, maybe an eternity.
Though the radio played quietly in the background, Ginny couldn’t hear anything over her own thoughts. Her brother had been taken by a mad woman who had been, presumably, murdering people with milk. Ginny wished she could stopping imagining Fred, tied to a chair, milk being forced down his throat, but she couldn’t.
She looked over to the driver’s seat. Harry was gripping the wheel tightly as he weaved and bobbed around any obstacles that appeared before them. The blue lights above them coated the trees and ground around them.
“Ginny?” Harry’s voice, somehow, broke through her haze. Her throat was too tight to speak, so she waited. Those tears from earlier had broken free, falling down her cheeks silently. Harry’s left hand reached across the center console and positioned itself palm up, waiting. Ginny gripped it gratefully, as if it were a lifeline, trying to gain some strength from him.
“I’ll find him, luv,” Harry said thickly. She could tell this was affecting him as much as her. He was more than likely blaming himself, the self-deprecating prat. Ginny wanted to make sure he knew she didn’t blame him and that he shouldn’t blame himself, but her damn throat wouldn’t cooperate. If she tried to speak the only thing that would come out was a sob, and that wouldn’t help anyone. She gripped his hand tighter, wanting everything to pass through their palms. Her love for him, her belief in him.
The Burrow seemed like a funeral. Unused tissues lay about the rooms, ready for anyone to lose the battle with their emotions. Undrunk cups of tea sat about, too cold to drink and receive the comfort a hot drink could give.
Ginny sat at her mother’s worn, scrubbed kitchen table, George next to her, his head resting on the wood. It had taken twelve hours for Ginny and Harry to reach her childhood home from their safehouse and in that time the Weasley’s had seemed to almost become despondent. When she and Harry had walked through the kitchen door, Ginny’s mother had hugged them so tightly, her tears staining their shirts.
Harry had guided Ginny over to a chair and asked to speak with her parents in the sitting room. George, Ginny, Bill, Charlie, and Ron waited in the kitchen silently. No one seemed to have any words of comfort to share. Typically, it would be the twins who made a situation light, but George was far from the right mindset set to even try and make a joke.
Finally, Ginny’s parents and boyfriend — wait fiancée - came out from their meeting. Every Weasley sibling watched Harry, willing him to speak. Ginny knew the signs of Harry’s stress rising. His eyebrows had almost become one, the little dimple on the left side of his chin had become more prominent as his jaw clenched.
“Okay,” Harry made eye contact with every sibling, finally settling on Ginny. “From what Tonks has told me they are trying to use the video feed to figure out where Fred is being held. He has been forced to drink a liquid that we assume is milk at least five times. He doesn’t seem to be putting up a fight, which is the most concerning element right now.” Harry let out a deep sigh. “I’m going meet Tonks in Winchester, so she can brief me on the rest of the situation.”
Harry moved over towards Ginny. He lowered himself to eye level. His voice became a whisper as his hand came to rest on her cheek. “Stay safe,” he pressed a light kiss to her lips and stood to his full height and spoke to the group at large. “I promise to keep you all up to date.” Then he left, moving at a brisk pace to his car.
Ginny’s mother lowered herself into one of the table chairs, while Arthur went over to kettle and refilled it. Bill was the first one to break the silence. “They’re going to find him.” Ginny couldn’t tell if he was trying to convince them or himself, but her head started to nod as her eyes stung again from unshed tears.
“If anyone can find Fred,” Ginny choked out, her voice gruff, “it’s Harry and Tonks.”
Harry’s head fell onto the table as Tonks paced the small Winchester police station office. They had been watching the live feed of Fred for thirty minutes, unable to see anything distinctive. No windows, no sounds of passing vehicles, only Fred sitting in a chair with his legs and arms bound.
“Why isn’t he fighting?!” Tonks asked again. It made no sense to her. If she were captured she would be trying to break her binds. Maybe break the chair so the ropes would loosen, but Fred just sat, staring at the wall. “Why is he just sitting there?!”
“I have no idea,” Harry’s muffled voice spoke. He raised his head, the bags under his eyes an unhealthy dark shade. “I know Fred, he wouldn’t be okay with this.”
“But, yet, he does nothing!”
“Stop yelling, Tonks,” Harry scolded, “it doesn’t help anything. It just makes us closer to being deaf.”
Tonks looked abashed. “Sorry.”
Harry waved her off and turned his attention back to the tablet. “He kind of reminds me of someone who has been hypnotized.”
“What do you mean?” Tonks had never been to hypnotist show, but she had heard it was crazy the things people would do under the control of the performer. They could make someone become something else… bark like a dog, crawl on the ground…
“Well, when I went to a show with Ginny a few months back, we stumbled upon it, the hypnotist pulled two women to the stage and made one become a cat and the other a dog; however, when they were waiting for instruction… they just stood there, waiting. Kinda like Fred. A blank expression, like no thoughts were going through their head.”
Tonks rubbed the back of her neck. She could see Harry’s hypothesis, but Jesus, that was such a specific idea. “So, you think Bella can hypnotize people?”
Harry shrugged. “Possibly, I don’t know. It’s just a theory.”
“I mean…” Tonks took the empty chair beside Harry. “We have nothing else to work with, so why not, but what can we do with that information?”
“No idea,” Harry shook his head. “Breaking the trance is hard to do. The performer has a code phrase or something that makes the person return to normal.”
Tonks thought about that for a moment. “Do you think the rest of the victims were hypnotized?”
Another shrug from Harry. “It would explain why Cho and Susan left their homes without a fight.”
“What about Katie?”
“I think Katie was a personal attack…” Harry looked at her. “Katie was on the trail of our killer and I think she may have worried them.”
That made sense. Tonks had no counter to his logic. “And Dean?”
“That’s the one that confuses me…” Harry’s voice trailed off.
“The first male.”
“Not just that. He was also made out like a show… like our killer wanted to add some flair. With the first three it was, as bad as it sounds, straightforward. Found in a park, writing on them, but Dean… Dean was placed in a dress and worked into a letter…” Harry shook his head. “I just don’t understand why our killer changed their MO so much.”
It was like a light switch was flipped in Tonks head, an idea rushing forward to be discussed. “What if there is more than one killer?” Her voice was excited, yet quiet.
Harry’s eyes went wide. “Like an original and he has a friend?”
Tonks nodded. “Or maybe a pupil thing… I think Bella may be a new figure to the ruse because you’re right, the MO changed. I think —“ She cut herself off as a female form arrived back on the camera. The newcomer walked over to Fred, checking his pulse then glancing at the camera. Though the feed was in black and white to woman’s hair was clearly blond. She had a slightly haughty expression almost like Bellatrix’s. Then she turned away and walked to the far end of the room and moved a board slightly away from a window. Light streamed into the previously dark room, showing off the dust and dirt.
Tonks tried to take in the small view the window presented, a lake with a small dock out in the middle of it, what looked to be a rose garden off to the left of the lake. Harry’s breath hitched, making Tonks look at her partner.
“Grindelwald,” Harry’s voice was almost so quiet she couldn’t hear it.
“I know that lake and garden,” Harry turned to her, his eyes blazing behind his lenses. “That’s the same place Grindelwald held his hostages… Hangleton Manor.”
“Boot, I want you and Jameson to take the southern part of the house. Michaels, Jones take the northern. Tonks and I will take the upstairs and find Fred,” Harry commanded his team as they stealthily approached the worn-down manor. They had parked half a kilometer away, as to not draw attention to them. Harry wanted to do this quietly. Get Fred out safely and capture Bella if she was in the house.
“As for hostiles. We know of at least two females that have been in Weasley’s room,” Tonks continued the briefing. “We think one may be friendly as she helped to reveal the location. She had blond hair. Lestrange has black, she is our main target.”
The team nodded their understanding. They reached the back door, which showed a kitchen through the window. “Alright everyone is on channel three,” Harry reminded, gesturing to his ear piece. “If you need help the word is Bible. If you see a dangerous object, such a gun the word is tapestry.”
“Why are we using code words?” Boot asked, rolling his shoulder in anticipation.
“We want you to be able to slide it into conversation if you are cornered,” Tonks explained. “Talk about your favorite Bible passage or distract out culprit by talking about the décor.”
Harry looked at his team before taking a deep breath. “Okay, we ready?”
The team nodded, determined looks on their faces. Harry slowly reached for the door knob and turned it gently. The door swung open easily, which didn’t bode well to Harry. An unlocked door usually meant a stupid culprit, or a trap and Bella was not stupid.
Taking a quick look around Harry signaled the coast was clear. The team broke up, everyone going in their directed direction. Harry and Tonks crept up the stairs, checking around every corner they came upon. They knew the lake was on the south side of the house, so they went that way first, checking all rooms they passed.
Then, finally in the last room they came upon, was Fred, still staring blankly, tied to a basic dining chair.
“Fred,” Harry muttered and walked cautiously towards the red-head. He looked for any tripwire or traps around the room, but his well-trained eye spotted nothing. Fred was breathing normally; his pulse was average… Overall, he seemed in fine condition.
“Fred?” Harry whispered again, this time in Ginny’s brother’s ear. “Can you hear me?”
No response. Just that blank, unseeing look.
“Harry?” Tonks’ voice called from the far corner of the room. Harry turned to see her pointing at a bucket, something one might find in a barn. “He’s been getting sick.”
“From the milk, no doubt,” Harry guessed. He turned back to Fred. “Fred, you have to snap out of it.” Nothing. He opened his palm and slapped Fred, with enough force to make the man’s head turn. “Fred,” The red-head just turned his neck to face the front of the room again, showing no reaction to Harry’s violence. Harry keep his voice low. “Fuck!”
“Let’s get him out of here,” Tonks advised, moving over to cut the binds from Fred’s hands, while Harry undid the legs. Once the red-head was free, each inspector grabbed an arm and hoisted the man onto his legs. Still Fred did nothing. He didn’t fight back, but he didn’t make a conscious effort to help them move him away from the manor.
They reached the back lawn slowly, but surely. Tonks and Harry lowered Fred onto the grass, hidden behind a shed. He did nothing, just sat motionless where they placed him. Harry pressed the call button on the hidden communicator. “Weasley has been found and removed from the situation. Status.”
Jones voice came first. “All clear here.” Then Jameson sounded, making Harry’s heart drop into his stomach. “What sort of tapestry did you want to get for this room? Maybe something from the Bible? Maybe a family tree?”
Harry looked at Tonks and saw his fear in her eyes. “Jones, you and Michaels head though towards the south side of the house, using connecting rooms whenever possible. Check for any more dangerous substances along the way.” Jones sounded his approval. “Jameson, you and Boot just hold out a little longer.”
“You and I should head back in,” Tonks claimed re-adjusting her protective vest.
“Someone needs to stay with Fred,” Harry countered. “I’ll go help Jameson and Boot. You try and get Weasley out of that God damn trance.”
Before Tonks could reject his plan, Harry moved back to the house, back though the kitchen door. He didn’t know which room Boot and Jameson had been found in, but he remembered the south side room where Grindelwald had positioned his hostages. The small formal sitting room to be exact, and that’s where Harry would head first.
He moved cautiously, but as quickly as he dared, checking corners as he rounded them. He could hear voices, a high pitch and lower one. Both seemed to make his blood curdle. The higher one, a woman he presumed, seemed to be laughing.
Harry felt the urge to flee. He had no desire to find out what was making that woman laugh so wickedly. He inched forward, closer and closer to the noise. When he was finally right outside the door, Michaels and Jones had arrived on the other side of the corridor Harry signaled for them to wait for his mark.
“I thought we had a deal,” Boot’s normally pompous tones had changed to something more fearful. “You said — “
“You foolish man!” The woman laughed. “Why should we — “
Another voice cut off the conversation. “Bella, there is no need to gloat.” Harry could hear the sound of skin to skin contact, a slap echoing through the room. It was time for Harry to move. He placed up three fingers, slowly letting them fall. When the final one had closed into his fist, Harry and his team moved into the small study that had become a base of sorts: four people were scattered around the room. Bellatrix Lestange and Terry Boot were closest to the door the team had entered. Terry was tied to a chair with a large bruise forming on his face. In the far corner, by another door, a man had his back turned to them as he looked out a window. All Harry could see was the back of his bald, pale head. Finally, Harry’s eyes fell on a body lying on the ground, face down, arms out at an awkward angle. Jameson. Harry’s blood turned to ice. Jameson clearly wasn’t taking a nap. Blood was spilled all around him, a wound on his head prominent.
“Ah, finally,” the man spoke, without turning to look at his new advisories. “You’ve taken your time, Potter. Too late, I’m afraid. I’ve another engagement to attend, so I apologize for my rudeness, but I must leave.” And to Harry’s surprise, the unknown man walked out the door nearest him, without so much as a glance back.
Bellatrix watched her comrade leave, a besotted look on her face. Then she turned to Harry. “I’m sorry to say, Potter, but this will be a first and last meeting.” She gave him a cold, slightly crazed smile as she looked him up and down. “Such a shame too.”
Harry signaled for Jones to start forward on the left, ready to box Bellatrix in, when she pulled out a small device. It was the size of a television remote, only one button was on the console. Many years on the force and multiple courses on dangerous makeshift materials made Harry recognize the homemade explosive switch easily. He placed both his hands up in a stop motion. Harry could see the simple, yet clearly rigged bomb shell in the corner of the room where the man had once been.
“It doesn’t have to be this way, Bella,” Harry knew the best way to talk down a gunman or bomber was to try and relate to them, to try and connect to them. If a gunman had his sights trained on you, Harry had learned to tell him personal stories about himself. Make the shooter feel like he knew his victim. However, the look in Bellatrix’s eyes showed no desire for connection. If anything, if he told her about his life she probably would press the button faster. Instead he decided that if anything would make this woman not press the button it would be the idea that her own life would end too. “If you press that button, you’ll die as well.”
Harry made eye contact with Michaels quickly, he needed someone to move towards Bellatrix and grab the device. Both Jones and Michaels moved slowly. Jones heading towards the bomb, Michaels to Lestrange. Harry kept Bellatrix’s eyes on him. “I’m sure you don’t want to die.”
Lestange snorted. “Do you know what they call someone who does in an explosion? When there is nothing left to find, not even a toenail?”
Harry did, but if this was what Bella wanted to talk about… “No, what do they?”
The smile that curled at the side of Lestange’s mouth gave Harry the split-second warning… The warning that nothing he said or did would stop her. She didn’t care if she died. Harry moved backwards at a fast pace. “Get out!”
His words mixed with Bellatrix’s as she pressed down on the button. “Pink mist.”
It wasn’t a horribly strong explosion, Harry was able to think as he was blasted backwards, covering his face. He could feel the heat, but he could still feel so that meant he wasn’t blown into a million tiny particles the moment the blast hit him. His nerves were still intact. He was thrown out the room and into the hallway. His head collided with the wall painfully and then there was nothing but darkness.
“There was something unknown within the explosion,” a deep voice was saying as Harry’s mind came too. Wherever he was his senses were on overdrive, as he kept his eyelids shut. He could hear shoes squeaking on the floor, pens scratching on paper, and the voices, multiple voices, off in the distance.
“I agree,” a female voice spoke this time, “but we have no idea what damage it has caused. It’s done nothing to his brain activity, or his intestines, we have been able to bend his joints well enough. Minus the obvious injuries, everything seems normal. Dr. Regal, I have no idea what the conclusion of our tests has shown. Mr. Potter seems overall healthy; however, the others…”
“I know,” Dr. Regal, or who Harry assumed was Dr. Regal, spoke again. “I know. What about the family? Have they been notified?”
“Yes, there is a woman in the waiting room. She was his emergency contact. However, no other family was listed other than her.”
“Thank you, Darla. Keep an eye of Mr. Potter and let me know when he wakes.”
“Of course, Doctor.”
The pen stopped moving across the page and the squeaking shoes distanced themselves from Harry. He focused on touch now. He was laying on his back on something that he had to assume was a bed. His eyes were unwilling to open, so he couldn’t even try and see his surroundings. Then a throbbing pain in the back of his head made want to cry out. Instead, he shut his eyelids tighter, trying to mentally block out the agony.
However, his body seemed to reject the idea of staying conscious through the ache, and he blacked out again.
When he woke a second time there was pressure squeezing his right hand. This time his eyelids unglued, and he was able to make out an unclear humanoid shape, the only reason he knew who it was, was due to the vivid red on top of their head.
“G…” Harry tried to call out to his fiancée, but his throat wouldn’t cooperate. It was as if he had taken all the sand within the Gobi Desert and filled his esophagus.
“Harry,” Ginny’s voice sounded hoarse, like she hadn’t spoken for days. Her eyes connected with his, full of concern and happiness to see him awake. She turned to look towards the doors at the end of the room. “Help! Harry Potter is awake.” The sound of movement from the other side of the door could be heard, but Ginny turned back to Harry. “Luv, don’t move or try to speak. You have quite a few injuries.”
Harry started to feel what she was talking about. His chest felt on fire, his head was pounding, and oddly enough his left foot felt as if it had been stabbed through.
The door swung open violently, revealing two women and two men. They all hurried to Harry’s bedside. The first to speak was a bulky, small man, with square glasses. “Mr. Potter, can you hear me? Blink twice if you understand.”
Harry blinked, lethargically, unable to move at a fast pace. Once, then twice.
“Great,” Dr. Regal gesture at one of his protégé’s to take down notes. “Can you speak?”
Harry opened his mouth, but again no full words came out, only a few garbled letters. Dr. Regal nodded. “Darla, go fetch Mr. Potter some water.”
“Right away, doctor,” one of the women said, and she rushed out the room.
“Now, Mr. Potter,” Dr. Regal turned back to Harry. “We are going to run some tests. Expect some pokes and prods. Shouldn’t take more than ten minutes. Nurse Darla should be back with some water in a few moments, which will help that scratchy feeling in your throat. Ms. Weasley, you may stay in the room, but I ask you stay out of the way.”
Ginny nodded, giving Harry’s hand one final squeeze, that seemed to transfer some feeling of comfort into him, then she moved off into one of the room’s corners, keeping her eyes locked onto him. The medical team started to examine Harry. Moving as one, checking various things. They took some blood, one checked his pupils, another examined his toes and legs. The nurse, who had been sent for water, returned quickly enough. She held the cup and tilted a straw into Harry’s mouth allowing him to greedily suck as much of the liquid as he could.
Finally, the team backed away from Harry to converge together. Ginny moved back from her watch post and gripped his hand again, for which Harry was thankful. Just knowing she was there was helpful, but having contact with Ginny seemed to give Harry strength. As he waited for answers, Harry tried to remember everything that had happened… the last memories he had before waking in the, again he was assuming, hospital. Fred… Jameson’s call… Boot tied up… Jameson dead on the floor… Jesus!
Harry could feel the bile rise up his throat. Quickly he turned away from Ginny and released the little contents that had been in his stomach.
“Harry!” Ginny cried, jumping out of her seat to place a hand on Harry’s back.
Nurse Darla turned towards the commotion, moving with haste she came to Harry’s aid. Placing a metal pan to collect the final stream of vomit. She also grabbed the cup of water and prepared it for him. After he finished convulsing, Harry gratefully accepted the water, swishing some around his mouth and spitting it into the pan.
“What happened, Mr. Potter?” Darla asked helping Harry lay back onto his pillow.
“My team?” Harry’s voice sounded as if it came from the other side of a tunnel, hard to hear and faded.
Nurse Darla looked confused, but Ginny took in a sharp breath, making both Harry and the nurse look at her. “I don’t know much,” Ginny admitted slowly, “but from what Moody said… you were the only one to make it out of that room, Harry.”
The urge to vomit almost overwhelmed Harry again as he stared at Ginny, everything still unfocused without his glasses.
“Fred?” Harry asked, barely moving his mouth, sure that if he opened wide he would lose anything remaining in his stomach.
“He’s… alive,” Ginny said, her voice shaking slightly. Even without his glasses, Harry could tell something was not truthful in her eyes. She wasn’t giving him all the information.
“What — “
“He’s… he is in a coma.” Ginny explained, letting a hand rest on the side of Harry’s jaw as she retook her bedside seat. “You and Tonks were able to get him out of the house, but — well — no one really knows why, but on the way to the hospital, Fred lost consciousness and hasn’t woken since.”
“How… long?” Harry’s throat protested at the mere idea of saying more than one word, but he had to know. How long had it been since they had retrieved Fred?
“A week,” Ginny’s thumb moved along his jaw line, passing over his mouth. “You’ve been out for the same amount of time. Tonks was able to pull you out of the building… she said only the one section was wrecked.”
That made sense to Harry, thinking back on it. He could remember how feeble the blast had been, well, weaker than he had expected at least. The bomb most likely ruined the room itself.
Ginny moved her face in close, so he could make out a few freckles scattered across her nose. Her voice low enough that nurse Darla could pretend not to hear anything. “You really worried me, Harry. You promised to be careful.”
Harry thought back to their drive back from Scotland. They way Ginny had looked at him, seeing his determination and asking him to try to come back to her… to them. Harry, of course, assured her he would. He wouldn’t leave his family if he had a choice, but in the heat of the moment… his thoughts hadn’t been on the future. No, he had to try and save his squad, and he had failed. He hadn’t been able to prevent Lestrange from pressing that fucking button, and now… Now they were all dead. Jameson, Michaels, Boot.
Boot… The name triggered something in Harry’s brain. He had talked about a deal with Bella. Had he been a mole? He and Tonks had discussed the idea, but Katie’s partner. Now he couldn’t even question the man, because he been killed with the rest.
Ginny was still looking at him, her eyes blazing with anger, resentment, but love was still present.
“Sorry… Luv,” Harry crocked, vividly aware that Darla was still watching him. “Wanted to… save — “
“I’m sure you had a noble cause,” Ginny interrupted, “but you have another cause… our baby needs its father, Harry. Keep that in mind.” She then gave him a small smile. “I have confirmed it, by the way. I’m about nine weeks along.”
Normally, Harry caused his own guilt trips. He was adept at brooding, but holy fuck had Ginny just sent a stake through his chest. His child had been growing for nine weeks now, and Harry had almost died without ever meeting him or her. Was this why most people who climbed higher up the police’s career ladder had no family? So, they wouldn’t have to think about who they may leave behind? Before Ginny, Harry had never had to think like this. It was just him. Now, however, there was Ginny, their child, himself…
Ginny pressed her lips lightly to his cheek. “Don’t dwell on it now, luv. I want you to focus on getting better.” She turned to the doctors, hands on hips. “Anything?” The resemblance to Molly Weasley was uncanny. Harry had only met her a few times, but Jesus, Ginny was pulling off an extremely impressive impression of her mother.
Dr. Regal turned to look at the red head. “According to our tests… Mr. Potter seems fine, other than the obvious broken foot, concussion, and chest injuries.”
“Then what — “Ginny started to ask, but Dr. Regal continued.
“We are just worried about the toxins found in the deceased members of the…” Dr. Regal sent Harry an apologetic look, that Harry could barely see. “The flesh on the corpses… they had some alarming affects under the basic layer of skin. Mr. Potter was either extremely lucky and was not hit with any direct toxin or it may be a passive agent, until something is triggered.”
“What?” Harry asked, trying to wrap his head around all the medical terms. He had never been fond of doctors, so he never really listened to their mumbo jumbo, but this sounded… scary.
“As far as we can tell, Mr. Potter, you do not have any of the elevated levels of chemicals we found in the deceased, but we want to observe you for a while and make sure,” Dr. Regal moved from his team and placed a gentle hand on Harry’s shoulder. “I would think a few days will do the trick.” He glanced at Ginny. “We are more than happy to make this room accommodating to you and Ms. Weasley, if she would like to stay.”
Ginny nodded. “You bet your sweet bippy I’m staying.”
Harry looked up at his fiancée and felt only love course through him, seeming to dull the pain of his injuries. Never had had someone cared about him this much.
“Love… you,” Harry muttered to Ginny, moving his hand to her forearm with an extreme effort.
Ginny looked away from the doctor and turned her gaze on Harry. Her eyes, though they were hard to see, had a light that burned in them that he would recognize anywhere. “Don’t get sappy on me, Potter. Save that for when you’re dying, many, many years from now.”
Darla snorted. “Well, if that’s the case. I’m going to clean up this mess and bring in another bed for Ms. Weasley.” She turned her attention to Dr. Regal. “Hourly checks for now, I assume.”
Dr. Regal nodded, and he and the other two doctors left the room. Darla turned to look at Harry. “Get some rest, dear. You have sixty minutes until I’m poking at you again.” Then she left the room to go collect cleaning materials.
Ginny smiled down at Harry. “She right. Try to sleep for a bit. I have to call Tonks to let her know you’re alright.”
Harry was about to nod, but then thought better of the movement. Instead he settled for a small smile and closed his eyes. He fell asleep almost instantaneously, but he was able to feel Ginny’s lips rest on his forehead and hear her speak softly, “Love you, too.”
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Chapter 12: Chapter 12
Author's Notes: Huge thanks to Arnel and gryffindormischief for their incredible editing skills. We are getting towards the end of this story, but never fear I have plans for a squeal... If the end of this chapter didn't hint towards more, I don't know what would. Both this story and Fake It should be wrapping up in the next few months. With that being said, I would like to thank everyone for their encouragement for this story. I love reading comments and seeing everyone's theories and thoughts.
Ginny took in a deep breath as she walked into the hospital waiting room. Crowds of people lounged around, waiting to be called for appointments, to find out news about loved ones, or even trying to regain a grip on reality after a drastic change. Ginny was not one of those people. She didn’t need to wait, she knew right were to go, the question was who did she want to see first? Harry was most likely still asleep, seeing as it was early morning and he was still recuperating from an explosion or she could go see Fred… not that he would know.
It had been two weeks since Harry had found Fred and though Harry seemed to be getting better every day, he was still weak. Fred, however, was not improving. He was still breathing on his own, but he hadn’t opened his eyes. Her parents and brothers had all come to see Fred. Her mother had cried. Her father, Bill, Charlie, and Ron had all tried their best to look strong, but she had noticed at least one tear drop from each of their eyes. George… George was the most upsetting sight. He just looked plain lost without his twin and best friend. He had taken refuge in the chair beside his twin’s bed and stayed there silently, just watching Fred’s chest raise and lower.
Ron and her parents had also visited Harry, who had been touched by their arrival. Ron had played a couple rounds of cards with the bedridden man, while Molly and Arthur were more than happy just to be in the room. After they had left, Harry had told Ginny he couldn’t have loved her family more if he tried.
That had been day ten of hospitalization as Ginny was calling it. She was either at work, where her mind would wander, or she was in a stiff hospital chair next to her fiancée or brother. That first week when they had both been unresponsive had been one of the worst seven days of Ginny’s life, at least now Harry was awake and with day fifteen upon them, Dr. Regal was performing wellness tests on Harry to see if he was able to at least go home and recover. Something Ginny had learned about her Detective Inspector fiancée was his hatred of hospitals, and he had no desire to spend any more time in the scratchy, uncomfortable bed.
As Ginny walked through the double door at the end of the waiting room, she decided to go see Harry first, seeing as Dr. Regal might be there with the news she craved. She had cried, which she blamed on hormones of course, over the possibility that Harry may be infected with some skin crawling disease. Harry had assured her every day that he felt fine, well, as fine as one could with broken foot and chest injuries. It had taken only one slap to the arm for Harry to realize that Ginny wanted answers to be longer than just the word ‘fine’ when she asked how he was feeling. Since then, he always included an ‘as one could’ which was just as annoying as just saying fine.
She reached the private room Harry had been placed in and opened the door. Harry was still in the same bed he had been in over the last two weeks, but today Regal was beside him, talking to his patient in a hushed tone. Ginny hurried over, eager to find out what information the doctor had.
“Ah, Ms. Weasley,” Regal nodded at her once she appeared on the other side of Harry’s bed. She instantly grabbed the injured man’s hand, which he squeezed. “As I was just telling Mr. Potter, things seem to be fine in his system. We can’t find any irregular counts in his blood, making us believe the toxin didn’t get into his system, or it has no effect until someone is deceased. Either way, we believe Mr. Potter is okay to head home, if he so wishes, as long as he continues to take it easy and comes in for regular testing for the next month, maybe two.”
“Anything to get me out of this place,” Harry muttered darkly, then he raised his voice. “Sounds like a deal, Doc.”
Regal nodded. “You will need to keep taking the medication I have prescribed and have Ms. Weasley keep an eye on you, making sure you’re behaving normally.”
Ginny cocked her head to the side. “Normally? What do you mean?”
“It’s like I’ve mentioned multiple times, we really have no idea what happened to Mr. Potter during his raid. He may not have encountered any of the toxin, or it may be a sleeper agent. We want to make sure he seems normal at home, and who better than to keep in mind all his good and bad habits than his fiancée.” Regal gave her a comforting smile. “I personally think Mr. Potter is going to make a full recovery, but I would rather be safe than sorry.”
“Right,” Ginny grabbed the bag of extra clothing she had brought for Harry the day after he woke, pulling out a light jumper and pair of trousers and throwing them at the black-haired man. “Strip, Potter and put these on. I want to go home.”
Harry had never been so excited to be stuck wearing a too small pair of jeans before. Seeing as they were the only clean pair of trousers he had left in his hospital bag, he was more than happy to wear them if it meant he was able to leave that God-forsaken place. Okay, he thought as he laced up his trainers, the staff had really been nice, but fuck! I hate hospitals.
Ginny was waiting for him by the door, jingling her car keys lightly. “Ready?”
“More than you’ll ever know,” Harry squeezed her hand as she opened the door and started to guide him through the corridors in his temporary wheelchair. He was placed on crutches for a least the next few weeks, which had already been situated in the backseat of Ginny’s car, but the hospital staff insisted on the wheelchair through their halls Ginny led the way to the car park.
“So, what’s the first thing you want to do when we get home?” Ginny asked halfway to her car.
“Besides sleep in a bed that actually is comfortable?”
“Yes, besides that.”
Harry let out a thoughtful hum. “Well, I know something that would have made that hospital bed much better.”
Even though Ginny was facing forward, Harry could tell she noticed his suggestive smirk. Harry could also tell Ginny was tempted to smack him on the arm, based on the twitching of her hand, but clearly she thought better than hitting a man in a wheelchair.
“That wouldn’t be taking it easy.” Ginny chastised.
Harry let out a over dramatic gasp. “Miss. Weasley, I don’t know what you thought I was suggesting, but I was referring to reading a good novel.”
Ginny snorted. “Oh, yeah, I’m sure your thoughts were completely pure the entire time you were lying there… with nothing to do… with only your wild imagination for comfort.”
“But of course.”
Ginny laughed as they reached the double doors that opened out to the indoor parking. Once they reached Ginny’s car, the red head opened the passenger’s door and helped Harry situate himself, then took his wheelchair back into the lobby.
Once Ginny returned, she went over to the driver’s side and started the engine. It only took a few moments for them to reach the London streets and be forced to enter the city traffic.
“Still feeling alright?” Ginny asked over the romantic ballad that played on the radio. Harry could hear the nerves in her voice; clearly, she was worried he was just pretending to be fine, so he could leave the hospital. To be fair, that would be something he would do, but really, he did feel fine. Sure, his foot hurt and his chest sometimes pained him, but he had dealt with much worse.
He reached across the console and laced his hand with the free one Ginny had on her lap. “Luv, everything is going to be fine.”
Harry could hear the shudder in Ginny’s breath. “I was scared, Harry,” she explained quietly.
“I’m not used to feeling like this,” Ginny continued as if Harry hadn’t spoken. He could tell she needed to get this off her chest. Clearly, it had been plaguing her for some time. “There was nothing I could do, and I don’t like that feeling.”
“I know it was something you needed to do, but Jesus… if I had lost you, not to mention Fred…” She cut herself off, taking in a deep, shaky breath. “I’m not saying you shouldn’t go out and save people,” she pressed as soon as she regained control of her breathing. “But I just need you to know what’s going through my mind as I sit at home, waiting.”
Harry kept his eyes on the car in front of them as they made a left turn. He did get it… at least now he did. He had never had someone, but now he did. Harry needed to take into account what Ginny was dealing with every time he walked out that front door. He could be attacked, kidnapped, hell, officers were killed often enough to make anyone worry.
“I’ve been thinking about it,” Harry started slowly, turning his gaze over to Ginny. She continued to watch the road, but he could tell she was listening to every word he spoke now. “Moody has been looking for a trainer at the academy here in London. Someone to focus on detectives getting into the mind of a suspect, which is something I tend to excel at. It would mean a lot less field work and more paperwork, but I’ve always been rather good at teaching. I was a teacher’s aide in secondary school. I was told I was brilliant.”
Harry could physically see Ginny’s breathing speed up as she started to comprehend what he was saying. He pressed on. “It would be much more regular hours too. Even what I would call baby friendly.” She let out a shaky laugh at his joke. “I would be home for dinner and around to read stories and all those parenting things…” He let his sentence trail off and settled on just staring at Ginny.
“And,” Ginny started slowly. “You would be okay with that?”
“Well, I would miss some of the good parts of being in the field,” Harry squeezed her hand. “But I would still get to be involved in profiling culprits.” Harry decided to fully disclose it all, every reason he had for even considering changing his position. “Gin, I want to make sure I’m there for you… for this baby. If that means I’ll be grading papers instead of writing reports, it will be worth it.”
Harry could see a few tears roll down Ginny’s cheek. “Oh, Harry,” Ginny’s voice was thick with emotion. “you would do that — “
“I would do anything for you, Ginny,” Harry interrupted. “When I say only the best, I mean I will do anything for you.”
Ginny pulled the car into her vacant parking spot at her flat, just in time for fat, thick tears to fall. She put the car in park and turned to face Harry. “I didn’t want to ask…”
“You didn’t have to,” Harry released her hand and rested it on her cheek. “I want to do this. I want to complete this case and then I’ll tell Moody I’ll take the teaching position.” He used his thumb to brush a final tear off Ginny’s cheek.
“Jesus, I hate becoming a hosepipe,” Ginny sniffed, as she tried to reel in her tears. “I want to blame the hormones, but I’m not quite sure that’s the reason this time.”
Harry laughed. “You can blame it on whatever you want, luv. Even I know better than to argue with a radiant pregnant woman.”
Ginny sniffling was now replaced with a sharp snort. “Good to know you won’t be one of those men who call their pregnant wife a whale in their third trimester.”
Leaning his torso across the console now, Harry pressed a light, yet promising kiss to Ginny’s slightly chapped lips. “Trust me, it won’t matter to me if you’re the size of a house or a twig, you will be the most beautiful woman in any room.”
Ginny shook her head. “Keep those cheesy lines up, Mr. Potter, and we won’t be able to follow the doctor’s orders about keeping you calm and relaxed.”
Harry gave her his best coquettish smile. “To be fair, Regal did say to try to make sure I acted normally, and I have to hope that includes our more robust activities.”
The laugh that Ginny let out seemed to remove any remaining tension she had. She gave him one final loving kiss before she opened her door and walked around the car to help Harry into the house. It was at that moment Harry knew he had made the right decision in considering the training position. If it helped Ginny feel better about everything, then it was worth every disastrous problem he would have to deal with. Worth every overconfident trainee he had to reprimand.
“So, how is Harry, dear?” Ginny’s mother asked as she placed a mug of tea in front of her daughter. She had taken to caring for people more than ever, since Fred had been kidnapped. She would cater to everyone’s needs. Grabbing blankets if someone so much as shivered, making too many cups of tea, everything to distract her from the remembrance of her son being unable to wake.
Ginny rubbed her neck as she watched the steam billow from her mug. “As well as one can expect,” She took the small jug of milk her mother offered with a nod of thanks. “He’s the worst patient in all of England. He just won’t sit bloody still.”
“Language, Ginny,” Molly reprimanded automatically. She stirred the milk into her cooling drink as she continued, “That’s not surprising. Harry seems to be an active body, doesn’t he?”
Ginny had to give her mother that. Harry was not someone to wait around. He was the kind of man who ran to the front lines, ready to go. “He’s going to leave the field,” Ginny still couldn’t believe it herself, the words still foreign to her tongue.
Molly’s red eyebrows shot up into her hairline. “Really?” Her voice matched the surprise her expression showed.
Nodding, Ginny blew on her tea, the liquid rippling beneath her breath. “Yes, he says after this case is closed he’s going to talk to Moody.”
“Did he explain why?” Molly asked, her surprise being replaced with understanding, even before Ginny fully explained. Mother’s intuition and all that, Ginny thought, wonder when that kicks in.
“He says for me and the baby,” Ginny ran a hand through her hair. As much as she wanted to be thrilled over the idea of Harry being safe, well safer, at the academy, training new recruits, her stomach was unsettled by the idea.
Molly knew her daughter well, recognizing the signs of distress. Giving Ginny a small smile, Molly said, “And you’re worried he will hate his new position, and resent you or the baby?”
Ginny’s eyes shut on their own accord. Was that the reason her gut was full of winged beasts? If she was being honest with herself, yes that was it. Harry was in his prime, still agile and great at the work he did, so why would he want to give it up? She knew the little speech she had given to him in the hospital had affected him in a way, but she was hoping he was going to take less life-threatening cases, but instead he had decided to back off completely. Would he begrudge her for making him feel guilty, making him feel like a poor father before their child was even born?
A hand touched Ginny’s shoulder lightly, making her eyes open. Molly was still giving her that soft smile, that smile of understanding. “Did you give Harry an ultimatum? Did you give him no other option but to leave his post?”
Ginny shook her head, so Molly pressed on. “Then it sounds like Harry made the choice on his own. He’s a strong-willed man, and he knows what will make him happy, and it sounds as if he knows that you will make his life the happiest. What will he be doing instead?”
“Training recruits,” The knots that had been pulled so tightly in Ginny’s stomach seemed to lessen as her mother comforted her.
“I believe he would make a great trainer. He has patience and a level head. It sounds to me he will find joy in this new position, and this way he will know you are comfortable and happy. The old saying goes ‘Happy wife, happy life,’ and though the two of you are not married, it seems Harry has the correct attitude.” The sly look Molly sent her daughter went unnoticed by Ginny. Her current state of distress and confusion caused Ginny to have tunnel vision.
Ginny wanted more than anything to believe what her mother was saying, but it was hard to even imagine that someone found her this important. The idea that Harry would change everything for her… it completely bowled her over.
Again, Molly seemed to know what Ginny was thinking before any words were spoken. “You are an incredible woman, Ginny. Never let anyone stop you from seeing that. Harry sees it. I see it. Your father and brothers all see it.”
Everything Molly said started to solidify in Ginny’s mind, making her body feel warm, though that may have just been the tea. Then something her mother had said earlier nagged at her. “Mum,” Ginny slapped herself in forehead. “Harry and I are getting married.”
Molly was silent for a count of five before a quick excited squeal exited her mouth. “Oh, my Goodness! How? When? Why didn’t you tell me earlier?” A quickly flash of anger appeared on Ginny’s mother’s face, before changing back to excitement and happiness. Molly grabbed Ginny’s hands in hers. Looking at the diamond now ever present on Ginny’s ring finger. “How in the world could I have missed this? How did he ask?”
“Actually, Mum,” Ginny couldn’t prevent the bubble of joy from leaving her in a laugh, even if she had wanted too. “I asked him.”
Shock flickered across Molly’s face, to be replaced by a bright smile. “But of course, my daughter would refuse to follow tradition. So, he said yes?”
“How could he refuse all this?” Ginny teased, gesturing down her body. She had never taken stock in the traditional mother-daughter moments, but this one was just what she wanted. “Actually, he already had the ring.” She wiggled her ring finger, still held lightly by her mother.
“How did I miss this earlier?” Molly muttered to herself again, as she released Ginny’s hands. “I’m assuming this was after you told him about the baby?”
Ginny regaled her mother in the story of her engagement, letting them both forget all the hardships they were facing in the world. For the moment, they were just a mother and child excited over the future nuptials of the family’s only daughter.
Harry remained on the couch in the flat he shared with Ginny for more time then he wanted. His loving and kind girlfriend had threatened to have a nanny cam stashed in all rooms in the house if he kept disobeying the doctor’s orders. He had been home only three days, but Ginny was getting fed up with his less than decent patient attitude, which meant his attempt at levity by promising to liven up the nanny cam feed with some casual nudity was only met with a reluctant smile quickly followed by a frown. She had told him that while she was visiting her mother, he was to remain resting on this couch, and if he was a - and this was a direct quote - “Good boy,” he would get a treat.
So, he stayed on the couch, not for the treat, but so Ginny’s stress levels wouldn’t rise. She had more than enough to deal with, without him being a piss poor patient. However, he wasn’t just going to sit around with mindless television playing in the background. No, he had invited Tonks to come over, so he could be updated on the case. He just decided to wait for Ginny to be out of the house - again she had enough to deal with.
He had meant what he had said to Ginny. After this case he would leave the field unless the need was dire. A knock on the front door snapped him out of his reverie, he hopped up from his cushion and hobbled over to the entry.
Tonks stood on the stoop, giving him her signature grin. “Good to see you, Potter,” Tonks slapped him on the shoulder as she walked into the flat.
Harry followed behind his partner as she made herself at home, taking a seat in one of the arm chairs that sat around a coffee table. Harry took his previous spot, ensuring Ginny would be none the wiser to his movement when she returned.
“So,” Tonks said, placing a manila folder Harry hadn’t noticed before on the table between them. “The big picture is that Bellatrix Lestrange was confirmed to have been sending messages to Boot, blackmailing him into cooperation.” As she spoke, Tonks pulled out multiple papers with proof on the contact between the late Boot and Bellatrix. “He was how our suspects had so much information on the inner workings of the case from our side.”
She then pulled out a morgue report. “Four confirmed dead at the raid, Lestrange included. Bellatrix Lestrange is thought, however, to have been a part of a bigger organization. We took her phone and accessed what we could from it, which wasn’t much, but more than we knew before. She had three contacts, all of which did not pick up when we tried to call them, also when we traced the numbers and they all led to what we have concluded to be burner phones.”
“So far nothing to really help us,” Harry grumbled. Everything was leading them to dead ends.
Tonks looked pleased to see the good old grumpy Harry was still in there. “Very true, however there were undeleted messages that have revealed some information into our suspects’ minds.” She flicked through a few pages from the folder, until she found what she had been looking for. She shoved the paper into Harry’s hands. It showed a conversation between Bella and someone named V.
They discussed his technique on hypnotizing and how to make sure the victim put up no fight. There were also debates on who to target and when Bellatrix would get to, “Put on her first show.” Between V and Bella, it was decided to target Harry, based on his fame. There were messages from months previous, detailing Harry’s actions. Who he spent most of his time with, who he seemed to care for most, his daily routine. The result had been that Ginny was his weak spot and targeting her would make Harry lose his resolve. They had done a smaller test, following Tonks and seeing how Harry would react. The two criminals had been pleased with the results. There had been a small change in their plans four days before Fred had been taken. At first, they had all intentions to kidnap Ginny, but then V had suggested a change in plan. That had been the final message, with only a few calls after.
Harry’s blood had turned to ice as he continued to read the messages between the conspirators. So, Harry had been right, he had been a target which in turn had ruined the Weasley family by association.
Tonks was watching him carefully. She knew how hard he took things, and this was up there.
“Fuck,” Harry finally breathed. “So, we need to find this V. Do we have any leads on them?”
“No,” Tonks admitted. “They were careful to never use real names and no information other than that one letter.”
“So, this bastard is still out there, basically with a hit list and my name at the top?” Harry asked, keeping his voice calm by force.
Tonks knew the calm tone was false, so she picked her words carefully. “We don’t know who this V is, but we do have an idea on one of the other contacts. L. Remember that woman who opened the blinds in the video feed?”
Harry nodded, focusing on his breathing and making sure he didn’t explode.
“Well, we did a facial recognition and found a name. Narcissa Malfoy, who is married to a Lucius Malfoy.”
Tonks let out a sigh. “We just found out the name an hour ago, so we have an APW out on Lucius now.”
Harry nodded absentmindedly. Tonks looked around the sitting room. “Where’s Ginny?”
“With her mother,” Harry ran a hand through his messy locks. “She should be back soon actually.”
“Okay, well, I suggest keeping an eye on one another for a bit, at least until we find this Lucius.”
Harry nodded again. He was still trying to wrap his head around those messages. They were fucked up, but something picked at him. “Why would the use physical messages?” Harry posed finally, making Tonks stop organizing the envelope. “These two are smart criminals. Why would they leave a trail?”
“I had the same thought,” Tonks admitted. “That’s why I think you and Ginny should stay close to each other for a bit. Maybe you should go see Ginny’s mother as well.”
“They clearly have no issue going after her family,” Harry retorted. Anytime he thought of Fred, his anger bubbled to surface, threatening to boil over. Now that he had physical proof he was the reason for Fred’s state… Fuck these guys!
“True,” Tonks held her hands up in surrender. “Just… think about it.”
The sound of a key at the door may the two inspectors turn the heads. Ginny’s long and vivid hair was the first thing they could see as she entered the flat walking backwards.
“I brought dinner and I even picked up a treacle tart for pudding,” Ginny called as she closed the front door. She spun around to see Harry and Tonks watching her. “Oh, hello Tonks! I didn’t know you would be here, but I have enough Thai food to feed an army, so hopefully you can stay for dinner.”
Tonks stood up, grabbing her file as she walked towards the exit. “Unfortunately not, I’m on the clock. I just wanted to check up on Harry here. I’ll see you both later.” She fled the flat as quickly as she could. Harry couldn’t stop himself from calling her a coward in his head, as she ran. Tonks clearly had no desire to be there when he explained all about Bellatrix and the mysterious V. Hell, Harry didn’t want to be there either.
Ginny had a temper that could flare at any little thing, but especially at large things, and hearing all about those messages, having proof that Fred had not just been chosen at random… Harry hoped the smoke alarm worked, because there was going to be a fire in the house.
Ginny turned her pillow over for the fifth time that night, so her skin was cooled by the new side. Harry’s deep intakes of breath the only sound inside the bedroom. She couldn’t seem to shut her mind off. Harry had explained everything he knew so far about the case, from the messages to what he suspected this V was trying to do.
Create a cult basically, Ginny’s thoughts had concluded after Harry finished his spiel. It seemed to Harry that Bellatrix was just one of many possible people to join this… community, and what a fucking community it was. Becoming kidnappers… murderers, just what the streets of London needed.
Ginny turned her body, so she could see Harry’s face. When he slept, he looked ten years younger. Between all the trauma of his childhood and the cases he was put on, Harry had seen enough to make him twenty years older than he was. His nose twitched ever so slightly as she watched, giving him a rabbit like appearance. Not that she’d ever say that to him while he was awake.
She tried to clear her mind, block out any unwanted thoughts or feelings, but it was impossible as the image of Fred’s unmoving form vividly appeared in her mind’s eye. Those… those… bastards had planned to take her brother from her, in more than one way. What she didn’t quite understand was why they thought hurting Fred would destroy Harry. Her only conclusion had been that the culprits had hoped it would ruin hers and Harry’s relationship. Obviously, they didn’t know her or Harry very well. If anything, it had made her feelings for him stronger, making her want to keep him closer than ever.
They did hurt her though, which in turn, hurt Harry, but it made Ginny fear that there may be more. She still had no clue why they wanted to hurt Harry, but fuck them.
Unconsciously, Harry seemed to know Ginny’s emotions had flared, and he pulled her tightly to his chest, still fast asleep. From her new position, Ginny felt warm and safe, making her temper calm. When Harry had been unconscious in the hospital, Ginny hadn’t been sure how much she could handle. If both Harry and Fred had left her… She had been ready to bargain and plead with a God she wasn’t sure she entirely believed in, but then Harry had awoken. With him Ginny felt like they could take anything the world threw at them, and honestly the world seemed to want to throw a lot.
Tonks stared at the slowing swinging bodies. The APW on Lucius Malfoy had led them to his residence, a fancy manor in a Wiltshire. When Tonks and her temporary partner, Keegan, arrived on the scene a gruesome sight welcomed them.
A muster of peacocks littered the front yard, blood spilled around their corpses. The creatures had been killed in multiple ways. Some seemed to have knife wounds, others snapped necks. The scene had brought a foreboding feeling to Tonks, which had spread throughout her bones. She had knocked on the front door to the manor, which had swung open at her touch.
In the entryway, a staircase sat to the right and hanging from the upper level rafters were two swinging bodies. One male and one female, both with pale blond hair.
They had been able to confirm the deceased were Lucius and his wife Narcissa Malfoy. When Tonks called in for backup a crew had developed around her, quickly and efficiently. The sense of foreboding had increased every minute Tonks was in the house. She had personally wanted to take the bodies down from their nooses right away, but she knew better. They had to examine the scene as it was found.
Tonks tore her gaze from Narcissa’s perfectly manicured swinging toes and started up the staircase. The couple were hung by ropes around their necks. Once they pulled the bodies down, the team would check for a sign of a struggle. If this was the mysterious V’s work… Fucking Hell!
Something was tied to the railing nearest to Lucius. Tonks slowly went over to it, moving her gloved hand to untie a light blue ribbon. For such a horrible scene the ribbon was such a pleasant sight. As the knot loosened a rolled-up scroll fell off the other side of banister, landing on the ground floor. Tonks hurried back down the stairs and opened the note.
“I look forward to our little game. See you at the next show, V 2022.”
“What the fuck!” Tonks couldn’t stop herself from yelling. This bastard was playing a game. It really had been a game to them. Two thousand and twenty-two? Was that a warning for a year? Was he going to disappear and come back in four years? She wished her head could wrap around this case like that ribbon around the guardrail.
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Chapter 13: Chapter 13
Author's Notes: And it's over! I would like to thank Arnel and gryffindormischief for all their help throughout this story. I can't say thank you enough for the support I've received on this story. It's been awesome to read all the comments and reviews. I've loved coming up with the mystery of this story, so don't worry I have every intention of continuing to write within this universe.
Tonks rested her head on the cool wood of her desk. She was, not for the first time, lost in this case. It had been a month - a bloody fucking month — since Lucius and Narcissa Malfoy had been discovered in their illustrious mansion, and nothing… No leads, no new people of interest. All she had was that final note and two bodies in the morgue.
The Malfoy’s son, Draco, had become one of Tonks biggest adversary’s. He would not rest until she was either fired, for being unable to stop the unknown murder, or murdered herself. He had come to the station numerous times to express his disdain towards her and the entirety of Scotland Yard. Harry, seemed to have a more serious feud with the blond-haired man.
The moment Harry and Draco met, they seemed to despise one another. It could have been the way Draco walked into the place, yelling about the disappointing police team, or maybe it was the way Draco seemed to decide that Harry was the reason the murder hadn’t been stopped in the first place. Either way, Harry was not allowed to deal with Draco Malfoy, leaving Tonks in charge of that account.
If that wasn’t enough, Harry was also leaving the field. Moody had given the black-haired man a teaching position, leaving Tonks without her favorite partner. In other words, Tonks was pretty pissed at life right now.
With her head down and skull throbbing, Tonks didn’t notice the footsteps approaching her desk. The moment the pleasant female voice spoke, Tonks’ head shot up to see Ginny Weasley, soon to be Potter. “Alright, Tonks?”
Ginny was wearing one of Harry’s old academy shirts, most likely to hide her growing stomach. Harry had been keeping Tonks posted on his unborn child. All healthy, ten fingers and toes. She had never seen Harry so — for a lack of a better word — peaceful. That was the only reason she didn’t resent her partner abandoning her to teach at the academy. He needed this. He needed to move on with his life and focus on his child and future wife.
“Eh?” Tonks tried to smile at the red head. “I’m not murdered, so…”
Ginny didn’t smile, instead she grabbed a nearby chair and rolled it over to Tonks’ desk. “If that’s the standard of being alright, I’d say most of the population falls in that category.” Ginny put her hand on Tonks’ forearm. “Spill, Tonks.”
It was like a floodgate opened. Tonks told her everything, things Ginny didn’t need to know. Things Ginny probably never wanted to know. She explained the case, her sadness over Harry leaving their partnership, her lack of a sex life (the information that Ginny’s brother, Charlie, had been her shag over had not been left out).
For her credit, Ginny listen calmly, not interrupting, or even making a face about her brother. She waited until Tonks took a deep breath and closed her mouth to say, “Well, I’m going to start with the easiest part of that. Charlie should be in the neighborhood later today, so give him a call and go get a leg over. Next, Harry won’t really be leaving you. He’s still going to be around to talk with about cases. Hell, he’ll probably want to discuss every detail with you. Not to mention he is going to be the lead profiler for you guys, so he’ll be around. I know it’s not the same,” Ginny apparently had already received that motherly ability to intercept an interruption, because she knew exactly what Tonks was thinking. “But you’ll grow to like Creevey. Harry picked him, because he one of the best.”
Tonks couldn’t help but sigh. That was true. Harry would never leave her with a piss poor partner.
“And finally,” Ginny concluded. “It’s like I’m always telling Harry, you can only play with the cards you’ve been dealt. This V bastard seems to know what he’s doing, and as bad as it sounds you can only find him if he slips up.”
“Your right,” Tonks rested her face in her hands, elbows resting on the desk, making her voice muffled, “but fuck, I want to find him.”
Ginny patted her back comfortingly. “I do too, I think everyone does, but you’re doing your best.”
There was no doubt about that in Tonks’ mind. Jesus, she had barely slept since the Malfoy murders. Tomorrow would be her first day off in a month, and that was only because it was Harry’s wedding day.
Ginny continued to rub soothing circles on Tonks’ back. “You’re really good at this motherly thing,” Tonks claimed through her fingers. “Have you been taking classes?”
Ginny snorted. “I wish there was a class to make me feel like an accomplished mother. To be honest, I only know a back rub is comforting to an upset woman is because Harry does it for me all the time. Lord knows I’ve become an emotional time bomb, with an unknown countdown.”
Tonks laughed and raised her head. “Thanks, Ginny,” Then a sudden thought came to the detective inspector. “What are you doing here?”
The smirk that rose on Ginny’s lips could be only described as wicked. “I may have been helping my soon-to-be husband use his office in a not so businesslike manner.”
The derisive snort that came out of Tonks’ nose, made Ginny laugh. “I hope you don’t plan on wearing white tomorrow.”
“What? I’m clearly perfectly pure. The three-month fetus growing inside me at this very moment is proof enough, I’m sure.”
“Whatever helps you sleep at night,” Tonks grin at her friend. “So, I’m assuming you’re hungry? Harry’s been telling me you’ve been eating nonstop.”
“And as I’ve told him, try growing a human life inside of you, and then tell me you aren’t hungry.”
Tonks laughed. “How about we go get some lunch and you can tell me all about that and the wedding.”
Ginny smiled and stood up. “Oh, you’re in for it now. Just wait until I tell you the horror story that is my mother’s bridal booklet.”
Harry nervously straighten his tie for the tenth time that morning. In just under an hour he was going to be a married man. Something he honestly never really considered. He had always been married to the job, and women seemed to come and go out of his life. Not Ginny Weasley, however. No, she was there to stay.
“Harry, if you touch that tie one more time…” Tonks let her threat hang in the air. She lounged in a corner chair. She had come into his room over ten minutes ago and in that time, Harry had flattened his hair five times, retied his shoes twice, and lost the ability to stand once. He shouldn’t be this nervous, the logical part of his brain told him repeatedly. He couldn’t wait to be married to Ginny, and hell, he had faced much more nerve wracking things then standing at the end of an aisle, over the years, but Jesus Christ this was a new level for him.
“You look fine, mate,” Neville, Harry’s best man, walked over from his spot on the small loveseat. He moved in close, under the pretense of brushing some imagine dust off Harry’s shoulders, and whispered. “The anticipation is the worst part, but once you see her walking down the aisle…”
Harry could imagine it. Him stand there, at the end of the carpeted walkway. Trying not to fidget and mess up his hair. All of Ginny’s brothers staring him down because he knocked up their baby sister…
Then the piano would start playing the simple obligato of Pachelbel’s Canon in D. Ginny would start walking towards him, Arthur there beside her, as she seems to glide. Her long red hair falling down her shoulders and back. Even in his own imagination he can’t take his eyes off her. The way she looks at him, as if no one knows anything but them.
Neville patted Harry’s now “clean” shoulder. “It’s time. Come on, mate.”
Neville had been right. Once the ceremony started, everything but Ginny had faded away. Sure, his fingers trembled as he slid the gold band onto her fourth finger, but that didn’t matter, because Ginny’s knowing, understanding, and loving smile kept him grounded. Finally, when he had been allowed to kiss his bride all the cheers and applause faded out as she took a breath and leaned in towards him.
Now, here he was two hours later, comfortably sitting with one arm resting on the small bump that protruded from his new wife’s stomach. Countless people had come up to congratulate them, for both the baby and the marriage, some of the older generation ignored the former congratulatory. Ginny’s Aunt Muriel being one of those people.
In all honest Harry couldn’t care if some people didn’t approve of their situation. Personally, he was on cloud nine, and nothing was bringing him down.
“Look at Ron,” Ginny whispered, gleefully. Harry turned to see his youngest brother-in-law, trying and failing, to dance with Hermione Granger. Harry watched the scene like it was a car crash, unable to tear his eyes away from the horrific event with disturbing interest. Hermione was wincing with every step, because Ron’s uncoordinated feet kept stepping on her toes. Harry could only image the pain she would feel in the morning.
“It’s moments like this that I’m glad I tricked you into taking that ballroom dance class,” Ginny kissed him on the cheek, leaning her body against his. “Our first dance would have looked like that train wreck over there.”
“Oi,” Harry tried to sound indigent, but he knew she was right. He decided to change the topic, to avoid any more blows at his dancing abilities. “Have you seen how cozy Charlie and Tonks look over there?” He pointed to the darken corner, where his ex-partner was attached so closely to Ginny’s brother it was hard to tell where one began and the other ended.
Ginny followed his instruction and snorted. “Jesus, when I said, “go get a leg over” I meant after I had left and didn’t have to see any of it.”
Harry laughed. “You’re helping your brother get laid?”
“Eh,” Ginny shrugged. “As long as I don’t have to hear anything about it, more power to them.” She then pressed a trail of kisses up his neck to his ear. “Speaking of getting a leg over…”
“Don’t worry about a thing, Mrs. Potter,” Harry turned to look at his lovely wife. “I have that covered tonight, you’ll want for nothing.”
“You’re talking some big game there, Mr. Potter.”
“It’s only talk, if I can’t back it up,” Harry lowered his voice and put his mouth right on her ear. “And trust me, I have the credentials.”
Ginny’s breath hitched as Harry moved his attention down the side of her neck and over to her lips, pressing one short, but meaningful example of what was to come.
Ginny lay out some fresh baked scones and tea for herself and Tonks. As she turned around to grab the milk out of the cold box, she swayed ever so slightly. She was having a hard time adjusting to the extra girth of her waist. What once had been a cute, little bump had doubled in size, seemingly almost overnight. Sure, she was at the start of her final trimester, but fuck, she did not like being a wide load.
“So how do you like Dennis?” Ginny asked as she recovered from her lack of depth and placed the small jug of milk next to the scones.
“He’s alright,” Tonks admitted. She had already poured a cup for herself and Ginny. “He’s an okay bloke, so far at least.”
“Has he been able to help with the case?” Ginny stirred in the splash of dairy, watching the color lighten to her satisfaction.
Tonks broke off a piece from her scone. “Actually, yeah. He had the idea of researching all local stage performers, based on the idea that this bastard is some sort of hypnotist. Then we’ve narrowed it down to names that have a V. So, like: Vigorous Victor, The Vital Miscreants, The Majestic Vigilante… stuff like that.”
Ginny nodded her approval. “That makes sense. Has anything panned out?”
“Not yet,” Tonks shook her head. “But honestly, it’s the only thing we have to work with, so I’ll take it. However, it’s been three months, so…” Her voice dropped off before she changed topic. “Enough about work,” The detective smiled at her friend. “How’s married life been treating you? That man better be taking care of you and that baby.”
“Oh, he is,” Ginny laughed. “I’ve had to yell at him more than once for treating me like I’m inept. Just last night he wouldn’t let me carry in my own cup of tea into the sitting room, so to spite him I went out and made two fresh cups and carried them to the coffee table. Then, I didn’t drink either of them because all I wanted was a glass of lemonade.”
Tonks laughed. “Good to know this pregnancy is going to drive you both batty, not just you.”
Ginny shrugged with her laughter. “Those who go mad together, stay together.”
“As long as I’m with you,” A voice startled the two women. Harry had quietly entered the flat, his hair lying flat due to the London rain that had rolled in just over an hour ago. “I’m fine with a little madness.” He moved over to his wife, kissing her chastely on the cheek. “How are you, Tonks?” Harry asked as he gently caressed that baby bump that was now so prominent.
“I’m well enough,” Tonks couldn’t stop the smile from creeping up onto her lips. She adored seeing the Potters together like this, so at ease and happy. Blimey, they made it impossible for her to be bitter about the partner swap. Harry was truly where he belonged. “Creevey and I have been working some new theories.”
“Good!” Harry claimed. He moved over towards the cupboard and grabbed a clean mug for himself, filling it to the brim and taking the empty kitchen chair for himself. “So, I was right picking Creevey for your partner, huh?”
Tonks had no desire to give that git the satisfaction of being correct, so she settled for a glare. Harry, however seemed to know what she was thinking and reached across the table to pat her shoulder. “Your welcome.”
Ginny snorted. “And now he’s going to have an even larger ego.”
Harry smiled at her, shrugging his shoulders. “If I can find Tonks a perfect partner with little to no effort, image what I could do if I truly focused.”
“We’ll find out later,” Ginny smirked at her husband. “When you rub my feet before bed.”
Ginny leaned her head against the plain white wallpaper of the stingy hospital waiting area, shutting her eyes and closing out the world. She didn’t want to do this. She had never thought she would have to deal with something like this. She knew logically this was not how he would want to be, hooked up to tubes and wires. He was always such a free spirit and now…
“Gin?” Harry’s voice was gentle as he lay his hand on her shoulder. “Your mum’s been asking for you. They’re saying it’s time.”
Ginny’s breath shallowed against her will. No, it should never be time.
“Love?” Harry moved his hand from her shoulder and entwined their fingers, tenderly squeezing. Ginny allowed Harry to guide her up from her seat. As soon as she was upright, he pulled her into his chest, holding her as tightly as was possible with her enlarged stomach. She needed a moment. Really, she needed more than a moment, she needed a life time, but that wasn’t an option. Harry placed his lips on her forehead, letting them linger for several heartbeats. Then, he removed himself from her embrace, keeping an arm around her waist. He guided them back towards Fred’s room.
Her entire family was gathered in the too small room, the air thick. The only sounds in the room were the beeping of the heart monitor, the small whooshing from the ventilator, and inconsistent sniffles coming from various redheads crowded around the bed. George sat in one of the chairs closest to his twin. Ginny knew this was killing her brother on the inside. Being the executor of Fred’s will, George was the one who had to say when to turn off the only thing keeping his best friend alive, and Fred had demanded that extraordinary measures be stopped after a month.
Doctor Samuels, the person in charge of Fred’s case from the start, was concluding his speech. “We don’t know if he will start to breath on his own after I removed the machine from his lungs. If he does start to breath we will continue to take steps from there. If he does not begin to breath on his own, his heart rate will start to slow, and it may take a while for it to completely stop. Do you all understand this?”
The Weasleys nodded out of unison, George taking the longest to acknowledge the information. Dr. Samuels took in a deep breath through his nose. “Okay, I am now shutting of the ventilator and removing the tubing from his throat.”
Ginny didn’t really want to watch, but she could tear her eyes away from her brother. Samuels pressed a few buttons on the machine next to Fred’s bed, removing one of the few sounds in the room. As Samuels removed the tube from Fred’s mouth, a small sigh was released from the patient’s lungs. Then there was nothing but the steady beat from the heart monitor.
The family stayed silent as they watched in bated breath, hoping that Fred’s chest would miraculously rise high, his eyes would shoot open and he would be able to send them his infamous crooked grin. Instead, the heart monitor started to slow, going from the steady medium pace, to an erratic slower beat.
Ginny’s mother let out a choked sob and turned to her face into her husband’s chest. Arthur didn’t look much better, his face scrunched painfully. Ginny couldn’t stand it. She moved over to the foot of her brother’s bed and placed a hand on his blanket-covered foot.
“Please don’t go, Fred,” Ginny’s voice was hoarse as she pleaded. “I want you to meet my child. They need to know their uncle Fred.” Tears started to fall unashamedly from her eyes.
Relentlessly, the heart monitor continued to falter. Bill moved from his spot in the precession and joined Ginny. Then Charlie, Ron, and George all placed their hands onto Fred.
If this were a fairy tale, the tears of love coming from Fred’s family would make him come back from the brink. He would slowly blink his eyes open, make a joke about the light at the end of the tunnel and everyone’s tears would switch from sad to happy. However, life was nothing like a fairy tale.
Over the course of an hour and a half, Fred’s heart slowed to stop, making the room echo with an incurable continuous beep. The screen showing the worst sight for any loved one, a solid flat line and a singular zero up in the corner.
Ginny lay in bed, her thoughts pulling her every direction. Fred, her family, her mother’s depression. Since Fred had passed last month, the entire Weasley clan had been in a right state. However, it was Molly and George that took the most drastic fall.
George had started to drink more than what was advised, taking to the pub every night for hours on end. Molly… Molly had stop cooking. Something Ginny never thought would happen. Her mother loved to cook, and the idea that her father was making both their meals destroyed her. Molly Weasley was the strongest person she knew, and losing Fred had proven that a mother’s love was one of the most powerful forces in the universe, and the pain a mother felt losing their child was soul crushing.
The only thing keeping her mind from falling into a dark abyss was Harry and their baby. With less than a month until the birth of her first child, Ginny was in baby overdrive. She made sure the cot was set up in the little nursery off the master bedroom. The house was now completely bare of all moving boxes, not that she could lift any of the heavy material, but Harry had followed her every instruction about where to put their knick-knacks and books.
When Harry had claimed he had found them the perfect home, still near enough to London they could keep their jobs, Ginny didn’t believe him, but he really had. Set in Enfield was a perfect little two-story house with three bedrooms, ideal for their growing family. Still within an hour’s drive to both their jobs, Harry really had outdone himself.
Harry had really been her rock over the past month, comforting her when she cried, making her laugh when she needed it, he was there for her in every way possible. Between setting up the house for the baby, and being just married, she and Harry had become a bubble of contentment whenever together.
Because of her sense of happiness, Ginny wished she knew how to help her mother and brother, but it was hard when the way she gained joy was her husband and baby. She visited her parents’ house every week, and though it was hard, she tried to bring that spark back to her mother. She discussed baby names and gushed about the future hair color and eyes. That would help for a bit, her mother’s eyes with sparkle with anticipation, but it would fade down eventually. Arthur had told Ginny in private that it really was making a difference. After she would leave for the day, Molly would still be slightly perkier than before. Every week was an improvement.
Harry moved his hand up and down her side. “You okay, Gin? Typically, by now your snoring like a truck.”
“I’m not even going to dignify that with a response,” Ginny smiled to herself. Harry seemed to have a sixth sense when it came to her inner thoughts and demons. He just seemed to know when she needed his attention.
The kiss Harry placed to her clothed shoulder made gooseflesh run down her arms. “Do you need some help getting out any extra energy?” Ginny knew her husband’s eyebrows were wiggling suggestively as he asked this.
“Trust me, I’m plenty tired,” Ginny turned to look at Harry, making sure his arm still lay on her side. “Having a baby bounce in your stomach all day is exhausting… I’ve a lot on my mind, that’s all.”
Harry nodded and pressed a kiss to her lips. “Would you like to talk about it?”
She considered his offer, but no matter how much she discussed everything, that wasn’t going to fix things. No, this was something she couldn’t correct. It was time that would heal her family. However, she would love a distraction and she knew just what too.
“No,” Ginny moved a hand to caress Harry’s cheek. “I would love to talk to you about what you’re going to do when our daughter goes on her first date?”
Harry snorted. “First, what makes you think we’re having a daughter, and second what makes you think I’ll do anything?”
“Call it mother’s intuition, and she’ll have you wrapped around her little finger — “
“Just like her mother.”
“And any boy will be a threat.”
Harry smiled and moved them so that Ginny lay on her back and he hovered above her. “Well, they will just have to know the story about the time I stopped a mad serial killer, and no secondary school boy will ever best me.” He stopped using his mouth for words then, focusing rather on clusters of freckles that littered Ginny’s cheeks and now-showing shoulder blades as he pushed the collar of her shirt away from her neck.
“Big bad Potter, huh?” Ginny breath hitched as Harry’s lips found a sensitive part of her neck.
“You know it.” Harry’s hands went down to the hem of her shirt, lifting slowly. “Allow me to give you an example of big, bad Potter.”
“Gin,” Harry’s voice cracked, not for the first time that day. Though he addressed his wife, his attention was solely focused on the small bundle in his arms. Black hair, already unruly like his father’s, Harry’s son blinked at him with a peaceful curiosity. Still that standard ‘baby blue’ but Harry felt sure they’d soon darken to the same shade of brown as his mother.
“Hmmm?” Ginny, for her part, couldn’t stop staring at her newborn son and husband. The way Harry tentatively shuffled his body, as to avoid dislodging their baby. The way Harry was watching every movement their son made, it made her heart soar.
She knew he had been nervous, from the moment she claimed her contractions started, to right before he held the baby for the first time. As soon as their baby was in his arms, Harry’s tension changed from being all nerves to high strung emotions. He had been sitting in the bedside chair for over five minutes just watching their son.
“I’m just so in love…” Harry’s voice was just above a whisper, as he gently rocked his arms. “With you… with him.” He finally turned misty eyes on his wife. “This is everything.”
Ginny knew her hormones were out of sync, but she was one hundred and twenty percent sure that sentence would have turned her into a hosepipe any day of the week. Tears fell from her eyes that she hastily swiped off her cheeks. She scooted her body, ever so slightly, so that she was closer to the edge of the bed, and Harry. Her hand reached out and caressed his cheek.
“Only the best for you, luv.”
Harry let out a quiet chuckle, making sure the baby didn’t bob around too much. “We still don’t have a name for him.”
Ginny did however. She had come up a combination of names she thought to be perfect. “I was thinking — ” She started off slowly. “Maybe, after your father… He kinda looks like a James, doesn’t he?”
Harry, who had turned his gaze back on the baby after Ginny’s use of his popular phrase, spun to look at her. “Really?” His voice had already been hoarse, but somehow his tone became a mere croak.
“Yeah,” Ginny smiled at her husband. “Little James Potter has a nice ring, doncha think?”
All Harry could do was nod, allowing Ginny to press her advantage. “And then I thought the name Fredrick worked really well with James. Don’t eat that James Fredrick! Stop picking on your cousin James Fredrick! James Fredrick Potter, get your bum down here right now!”
“I love it,” Harry met her gaze for a brief moment, before they both looked down at little James.
James seemed to have developed an intuitive radar for important moments, because he decided to start crying. His face scrunching and making it seem as if the sky was falling. Harry tried his best to rearrange James, to comfort him, but he was too tentative. A nurse came into the room to find the cause of the commotion.
“Ah, I’m guessing this one is hungry,” the kindly woman claimed as she come over to the new parents. “Would you like some help feeding him for the first time?”
Ginny was still in a state of shock that she had a baby, and now she needed to feed him… with her breasts. “Yeah,” she admitted, albeit shyly. “If you could — ” The nurse was already on the move, setting up a pillow to help Ginny sit up.
“Have you two decided on a name?” The nurse asked as she helped Ginny move her sore body into a sitting position.
“Yes,” Ginny rubbed one aching spot on her back, as she was righted. “James Fredrick.”
“That’s adorable!” Even if the nurse said that to every new mother, Ginny couldn’t stop herself from gushing over her son’s adorable name herself. Harry beamed with pride as well.
Finally, Ginny was positioned to hold James comfortably as he fed. Nurse Carrie, which Ginny was glad to learn the name of the woman who was talking so much about her breasts, took James from Harry and positioned his mouth right at her nipple. Ginny had no way to describe the feeling, but James knew what he wanted and how to get it. He latched on to her with little to no difficulty and started to drink.
“Well, he’s an easy little babe now, isn’t he,” Carrie admired. “I’ll let you continue with some privacy. How about I go and get James’ birth certificate all set up?” She left the room, leaving both Harry and Ginny to continue to wonder at their newborn.
“Well, I can clearly see the Weasley in him,” Harry smirked as he moved his chair as close to the bed as he possible could. “Look at him go.”
“Just as bad as his father,” Ginny looked up from James’ face and grinned at her husband.
“Can’t say I blame him,” Harry mused, throwing his arm over Ginny’s shoulder and watching his son feast. “Look at what we made, Gin.”
“We do good work, Potter.”
“That we do, Potter. That we do.”
“How is my grandson?” Molly asked for the fifth time that phone call. Ever since the birth of her first grandson, Molly had come out of her depressed state. She constantly was making the baby new booties and winter hats. Ginny couldn’t complain, if this was what helped Molly come back from the brink, who was she to deny her mother the pleasure of spoiling her grandson.
Ginny had to resist sighing for the fourth time, because no matter how much talking about James helped her mother, it did get repetitive in a thirty-minute conversation. “He’s perfect, Mum. He went down easily enough.” Molly had been calling her every other day since she returned from the hospital a little under two months ago. Okay, maybe every two days was an exaggeration, but it sure felt that way.
“He’s great. He loves working at the academy, and he just adores coming home and cuddling James.”
“I knew you found a good one, Ginny,” Molly praised. “I knew he was going to be such a doting father, right from the moment he pulled your father and I aside after Fred was taken.” There was a pause. “He is still doting on you as well, I’m sure.”
Ginny was glad that this was a phone call rather than a face to face interaction, because the blush that was rapidly spreading across her cheeks would show all too much for her mother’s watchful gaze. “Of course, Mum.”
“Good, don’t let the fire die, my dear.”
“So, James did the cutest thing last night,” Ginny changed the topic a quickly as she could. She had another twenty minutes before her mother would deem this conversation long to end, and she had no desire to talk about her sex life with her mother, no matter how good it was.
“So, we have three hundred and twenty-seven potential suspects,” Tonks moaned to Harry, as they ate their lunch. “Dennis and I don’t even know where to start. We’re getting profiles for some of the people, but no one seems to fit the bill.”
Harry nodded, taking a bite from one of his chips, before pointing the fried potato at his fellow officer. “With that many people it’s like finding a needle in a haystack, without knowing what a needle is.”
Tonks ran a hand through her hair. “Moody’s talking about taking us off the case, for a while at least. We’re short staffed and there are more pressing issues than a bloke who disappeared without any sign almost a year ago.”
“Nine months is a long time without any new information,” Harry claimed. “But we’ll be fucked if he does ever come back into the field.”
“I know, but what can I do? Moody has a good point. We have no solid leads, and for all we know these performers won’t help us either.”
“Either way, it’s fucked,” Harry lamented.
“It is fucked,” Tonks agreed, rising her glass in a mock cheer and taking a long draught. “But never mind that buggered shit, how’s little James.”
At the mere mention of his son, Harry’s face beamed with pride and excitement. He then started to reenact a particularly cute moment James had the previous night.
Harry lay James down in his cot, pulling the small blanket Molly had made over his son’s body.
“Sometimes, I can’t believe he’s really here,” Harry muttered quietly.
“Trust me,” Ginny moved from the door jamb, coming close behind her husband. “He’s really here. I did spend over three hours in labor with the little guy, and that made it plenty real.
Harry turned from the now sleeping baby and wrapped his arms around Ginny. “It just doesn’t feel real.”
Ginny smiled knowingly and pressed a promising kiss to his lips. “It’s all real, Harry.”
Harry moved their lips back together, letting them stay connected for much longer this time. “Thank Jesus for that.”
Moving her arms from around his neck, Ginny intertwined one hand with his. “Come on, let’s head to bed ourselves. They say when the baby sleeps, you sleep.” They backed out of the small nursey off their master bedroom. Harry still loved the new home he and Ginny had bought. With a back yard big enough for a swing set and jungle gym, plenty of space within the house for entertaining, and multiple empty bedrooms it was perfect for their small family, even if it grew in size a few more times.
They went about getting ready for bed, taking the extra pillows and throwing them to the side, changing into more comfortable trousers, and turning their phones to silent.
“So, when I was talking with Mum today,” Ginny started once they had crawled into bed, her head resting on his chest.
“A common occurrence I’m told,” Harry chuckled to himself, making Ginny’s head rise with his laughter.
“Yes, well, she mentioned the conversation you had with her and dad, before you went after Fred.” Ginny sat up, so she could look into Harry’s face.
“Yeah. She claimed that’s when she knew you would be a great father.”
Harry blushed, but smiled. “That’s really nice of her to say.”
“What did you tell them?” At the time, Ginny hadn’t thought twice about Harry pulling her parents aside, but in retrospect she wondered what he needed to say that she and her brothers couldn’t know.
“Oh, I told them the truth about what we knew.” When Ginny shot him a blank look, Harry continued. “Well, we didn’t really understand why he was being so submissive, so I wanted them to know there may be some phycological issue. I didn’t want them to think I would be hero of everything and give them false hope. I know it sounds cruel,” Harry rushed to explain. “But I know that if it were my son I would want all the facts, and that’s what I told them. I also figured they would want a moment to themselves after I explained everything, so I pulled them into the sitting room.”
“They were trying to put on a brave face for all of us that night,” Ginny couldn’t forget the entirety of that day, even if she had wanted too. Between worrying about Harry and Fred, her nerves had been shot.
“Your mother hugged me,” Harry ran a hand though her hair, letting his fingers spread apart towards the bottom. “She thanked me for giving her all the facts and your father did the same. I thought they may hate me, because I brought such horrible news, but they were glad to know everything.”
Ginny placed her head back over Harry’s heart. Neither spoke, content just being with one another. Slowly Ginny started to fall asleep, so content with everything in her life at that moment. She could feel Harry drifting as well, his breath becoming slower and steady. This was her best, she realized. As much of a joke it had been when Harry said it the first time, he really did give her only the best. The best life, love, everything in between.
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