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 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?”
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