|SIYE Time:4:13 on 23rd June 2018|
Only the Best
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Category: Alternate Universe
Characters:Harry/Ginny, Hermione Granger, Nymphadora Tonks, Other, Ron Weasley
Genres: Action/Adventure, Romance
Warnings: Death, Disturbing Imagery, Extreme Language, Intimate Sexual Situations, Mild Language, Mild Sexual Situations, Sexual Situations, Spouse/Adult/Child Abuse, Violence, Violence/Physical Abuse
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.
Hitcount: Story Total: 4033; Chapter Total: 470
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.
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