Midseason Murders: Down The Pub by sapphire200182
Summary: Auror Harry Potter and his girlfriend, professional Quidditch player Ginny Weasley have been invited to a charity dinner by the Holyhead Harpies Fan Club held at an old Welsh pub. However, the event is interrupted when a body is discovered, and it seems the murderer is still on the premises. To solve the mystery, Harry must unravel the web of lies and secrets linking the owners of the pub... before the killer’s work is complete.
Based on the award-winning TV series Midsomer Murders, and certain tropes associated with British TV police procedural dramas. Canon-compliant. Written for the Harry and Ginny Discord 2021 Birthday Challenge. Complete, updates twice weekly.
Midseason Murders: Down The Pub by sapphire200182
Chapter 1: Chapter 1Author's Notes:
Gerald Yaxley-Seymour sipped his tea and sighed as he looked up from his paperwork out the office window. On his desk sat the remains of his afternoon tea; Welsh bakestones, clotted cream, and summer berry jam. It was a sunny late July afternoon in the little town of Holyhead, on the Isle of Anglesey. The fresh air streaming in the open window brought with it a delightful summertime perfume of ripening apples from the hedge of apple trees outside his window, and the faint salty tang of sea-spray. The very distant roar of the surf from Holyhead Beach, just out of sight behind the trees, brought a faint smile to his lined old face.
When you’re nearly eighty years old and have nothing left to reach out for, these were the little things that truly mattered.
Between the half-dozen offices or the London townhouse where he could be spending his Saturday afternoon, Gerry Yaxley, as most of his family and friends knew him, liked his pub the most, even if it was objectively the one that caused him the most headache. His primary money-maker, the specialty herb import business, was bringing in a comfortable profit. The pub was really something of a private indulgence. None of his other businesses had quite such a view. Besides, he only had a quarter-share of the pub anyway, whereas he fully owned nearly all of his other enterprises.
There was a knock on his door. “Come in,” said Gerry. “Ah, it’s you. It’s a beautiful day, isn’t it?”
“Yes, it is.”
“Do you know, I have a good feeling that tonight’s gala will herald the solution to all of our problems.”
“Why yes, I think so very much, as well. And I’m glad you’re having such a nice last day.”
* * *
In the master bedroom on the second floor of Number 12, Grimmauld Place, London, Harry Potter was grumpily nursing a mug of tea. He was not looking forward to the coming evening. Even after all these years, Harry was something of a celebrity in Wizarding Britain, and tonight especially he was going to have to play up to the role. A role which he hated every part of, especially the attention it gathered, good and bad; from the prying curiosity and unwanted adulation on one side of the coin, through to the baseless hate and the - what was that word Hermione had used, oh yeah, schadenfreude (thanks, Hermione) - on the other. Because that was every bit as big a part of the cult of the celebrity as the adoration, wasn’t it - waiting for him to trip and fall, just so they could say smugly that even heroes were flawed, inside...
Harry was no more comfortable with fame at twenty-three than he had been at fourteen.
He shot a glowering look at the damn sport jacket hanging beside him, that item of social wear that in Harry’s eyes stood for all of the trappings of fame, because he never wore it other than to such functions. But then the indirect reason for this particular social event padded out of the bathroom, and Harry’s scowl softened considerably.
Ginny Weasley towelled her hair vigorously, looking around for her wand to do a Drying-Out Charm. She caught his eye, and the corner of her mouth quirked. “What did that cuppa ever do to you?”
A stupid memory floated up from somewhere in the back of Harry’s mind. “It’s more the fact it exists, if you know what I mean,” said Harry. He downed the tea and stood up. “You look great,” he said, smiling wider as his eyes roamed over her fetchingly damp and clinging T-shirt and shorts.
Ginny snorted. “Bollocks, I just got out of the bath, I look a mess; and no, you’re not getting your hands on any of this, we have to get ready for the party. Eeek!” She batted his hands off her bum, but didn’t resist too much as Harry wrapped his arms around her and breathed in deep, savouring the feel of her lithe body and the smell of fresh-washed her, overlaid with the flowery scent of her favourite handmade bath soap.
She leaned into him for a few tender moments, then turned around in his arms and looked up at him.
“Harry,” Ginny said gently, “I know you don’t like all of this. But at least, this once, you’re using your fame for a good cause.”
Harry’s smile vanished. “It’s just a pub,” he grumbled, but only half-heartedly. “It’s not like it’s the end of the world.”
“It’s not just a pub, it’s the unofficial official fan club pub of the Holyhead Harpies, the team that pays me to play Quidditch. And, remember, love, we talked about this. No, it’s not the end of the world, and that’s a good problem. Cause Harry Potter is done with all that rot.” Ginny pecked him on the corner of his mouth. “You have much smaller problems now.”
That corner turned upwards in a half-smirk. “Yeah, you’re right. I’m just your average ordinary everyday former Chosen One now. Nothing left to do but sign autographs for screaming groupies.”
Ginny swatted him on the chest. “As if! Now we’ve gone all the other way round to self-pity I see, Mister Youngest Auror in the Department.” She pushed him away. “Right, enough, I really have to get ready and so do you.”
“Youngest?! So are Neville and Ron and Sue!” Harry pulled on an oxford shirt.
“Ron and Susan’ve got you beat by a few months, and Nev by one day.”
“Bah, days.” Harry frowned. “What does ‘unofficial official fan club pub’ mean anyway?”
“It means the Holyhead Harpies Fan Club does not actually have an officially-recognised boozer, but everyone’s been going to the Druid And Daffodil for pre- and post-game piss-ups for more centuries than even I care to think about,” said Ginny as she buttoned up her jeans. “But the old Daffy’s come down in the world a little, which in fact means if they can’t scrounge a few extra Galleons they’re not actually going to be around next season. Which would be rather a pity as the fans are quite attached to the Daffy. So they’re throwing a ‘mid-season party’, really a fund-raiser, to which they’ve invited the Harpies’ most famous fan: you.”
“Lucky me,” muttered Harry.
“Lucky Harpies, rather, because all your screaming groupies,” Ginny rolled her eyes, “have suddenly jumped on the Harpy bandwagon ever since your girlfriend got herself promoted to the First Seven. And if at least a few more of them show up tonight, maybe the Daffy will rake in enough Galleons to tide it over. Provided you behave yourself like a good boy, and don’t hide away in a corner and disappear after an hour like you do at all those Ministry events.”
“Oh all right,” said Harry, as he threw on the hated jacket. “I’ll be nice. But just for my girlfriend the Harpy.”
“Oh, thank you so very much.” But Ginny’s smile was teasing, and she let Harry kiss the top of her head - he knew by now better than to smudge her freshly-applied makeup.
When they went to the study to use the Floo, Kreacher was waiting for them.
After Harry had decided to live in Grimmauld Place and invited Ron to stay with him, they had made a few changes to the house. Harry and Ron took over a bedroom each. Ginny and Hermione had two guest rooms, to keep up the official story (which nobody believed) that on those nights they accidentally fell asleep and forgot to go home, they weren’t actually tucked up in bed with their boyfriends. The former drawing room was now a study where the four of them spent most of their free time together, when they weren’t in the kitchen. The other rooms were unused, closed and placed under preservation spells; and the whole house was under even more protective enchantments than ever before.
As for Kreacher, well… despite Hermione’s best efforts, house-elves were still less than clear about the concept of freedom. One particular idea however had penetrated Kreacher’s brain from the piles of literature and hours of lectures that Hermione had given him, even if it wasn’t exactly what she had intended. He had added, to his customary crisp white tea-towel, a black tea-towel cut like an evening jacket and now stood as straight as his bent old body could accommodate. His beloved locket was tucked into a pocket, only its chain visible, attached to the tea-towel tunic. He had left off bowing deeply, and now gave firm, sharp nods instead.
“Master Potter, Kreacher will tidy the bedrooms while Master is away, and prepare the guest room should Miss Weasley wish to stay the night.”
Merlin only knew what Kreacher made of their sleeping arrangements; whatever it was, he regarded it as his duty nonetheless to maintain the charade. This had come in useful on a couple of occasions when Mrs Weasley had visited.
“Thanks, Kreacher, you’re the best,” said Ginny cheerfully. “Don’t stay up waiting for us.”
There was the faintest hint of a smirk on the house-elf’s face. “Kreacher will be in Kreacher’s quarters by seven.”
Harry and Ginny had given up being embarrassed by the bedroom arrangement, but not by being inadvertently interrupted by Kreacher while enjoying a romantic moment in the common areas - or by Ron and Hermione. So everyone co-ordinated their schedules; on Kreacher’s part that meant having a whole room to himself, festooned with elf-heads and Black Family memorabilia, and in which he spent his free time.
“Well, here goes,” said Harry, throwing Floo powder into the fireplace. “Public face on.”
Ginny took the time to admire her boyfriend on one of the few times he could be bothered to dress up, sliding her hand along one firm shoulder. “You look great,” she said.
Harry gave her tight jeans, fitted shirt, and black dragon-hide jacket a slow, appreciative once-over. “You look gorgeous,” he said.
Ginny heard the tell-tale purr in his voice; it never failed to make her stomach swoop. “Later, tonight.”
Harry caught the familiar look in her eye, the one that spoke of banked embers of desire, and grinned. “Tonight.” He stepped into the green flames. “The Druid And Daffodil, Holyhead.”
* * *
“Who… oh, Harry Potter!”
“This way, Harry!”
“And Ginny Weasley, too!”
A couple of camera flashes went off. Harry knew the game by now, so he kept his smile pasted on, kept his movements carefully controlled so he didn’t get photographed making any inadvertent gestures, and slowly scanned the crowd, as Ginny came through the Floo. Yes, there was his arch-nemesis, the gossip columnist from Snitch! , and yes, the girl from Witch Weekly , and even the entertainment correspondent from the Prophet. Oh well. At least they knew better than to approach him for quotes, and Harry knew he was on home ground. There would be no really confrontational types here, not in the heart of Harpies fandom.
“Mr Potter, Ms Weasley, welcome!” Harry recognised the lady striding forward to greet him with hand outstretched, he had seen her pouring drinks behind the bar, the handful of times he had come in on match days. “Carrie Wilson, I’m so happy to meet you.”
Carrie Wilson steered Harry and Ginny to the bar, where she drew them two pints of pale yellow ale. “This is our house special, Druid’s Gold, made with a secret recipe of flowers and herbs. I do the brewing as well as the bartending,” she said proudly.
“Cheers,” said Harry, and tried the beer. He wasn’t really much of a drinker and his favourite was still Butterbeer, but the ale was delicious; refreshing, lemony and flowery to taste, and he said so.
“It is, isn’t it?” said Carrie. “It’s our best seller. It’d be such a pity if the Daffy closed down, we’d never see its like again.”
Carrie looked about thirty-something, with very dark red hair, a few worry-lines, and a wistful expression as she surveyed the room. It was not hard, thought Harry, to imagine Ginny looking something like Carrie at that age, if she was harassed with bills and fretting over a failing business. He began to feel a little better about coming to the pub tonight, and had another sip of ale.
“If the Daffy goes, you could still make this and sell to other pubs, couldn’t you?” asked Ginny.
“Perhaps. Many of the other pubs have their own special brews, and I’d have to sell a lot more to cover expenses. And I don’t know what else we could do. My husband Hugh and I, we’re just a little too old to start over in a new line. But, well,” Carrie brightened up, “who knows, maybe after tonight we’ll have more regulars. Excuse me.” She went off to serve other customers.
Harry and Ginny found a table for two in a corner, and sat down. A few people gave them nods and waves, and two or three young fans who looked barely out of Hogwarts asked them for autographs, but otherwise they were left alone. That was one of the things Harry liked about the Harpies’ fans; once the initial star-struck effect had worn off, most of them had closed ranks around Harry and Ginny, and they discouraged - often with fists and wands - too much intrusion into Harry and Ginny’s personal space. In fact, at this very moment, a couple of tight-lipped fans were shooting significant looks at the Daily Prophet reporter, who was trying and failing to not look over at this corner of the room every ten seconds.
So Harry sat back, relaxed, had another swig of Druid’s Gold, and took Ginny’s hand which was lying on the table between them.
“Enjoying yourself, Potter?”
“Yes,” admitted Harry. “You?”
“They are rather making a point of not bothering us, aren’t they?” Ginny smirked. “I could get used to that. The place does look a tad grubby, though.”
Harry looked around. The Druid And Daffodil was housed in a squarish building made of sandstone and probably nearly as old as Quidditch itself. The beams overhead were black with age, and so were the stone floors and walls. Harpies memorabilia covered the walls; tapestries, posters, portraits, photographs, clippings, Quaffles and Snitches and other Quidditch gear, probably each with its own story of past glories; but a lot of them looked shabby, dusty and uncared-for. The furniture wasn’t quite as old as the building, but looked and felt rickety, as if they had seen too many Mending Charms as well.
“Rather rum sight, innit?”
The man who appeared suddenly beside Harry seemed to be in his mid-thirties, and was dressed like Harry but a little more carelessly, with at least two stains already on his jacket, a sharply-receding hairline, and a bottle of pumpkin fizz in hand. “Owen Griffiths,” he said, sticking out a calloused hand to shake with. “I’m the head cook. Sorry I didn’t say hello earlier, I’ve been making sure the kitchen doesn’t muck up dinner. Thanks a bunch for dropping by, both of you, though Merlin knows if it’ll do much good.”
Harry supposed that explained Owen’s rumpled appearance. “Well, I hope the Druid And Daffodil can keep going,” he said carefully.
Owen snorted as he began assembling and lighting a roll-up with quick, practised movements. “Fat chance. Just not enough punters coming in these days. Oh sure, the Harpies club do their bit, but it’s not enough by a long shot.”
“Carrie was a little more optimistic,” said Ginny coolly.
“Even Carrie thinks the pub won’t survive without a makeover,” said Owen. “She wants to renovate the whole place and get in new fittings, do a proper job of it, not just patching things up with spells. But that sort of thing takes gold, and she wants to go to the goblins for it.”
“You don’t approve?” asked Harry.
Owen made a sweeping gesture. “Do you really think a lick of paint and getting in new tables and chairs will bring in new customers? Would you stake everything you have on that belief? There’s no turning back on a decision like that, you know. Goblins aren’t known for forgiveness, especially where gold’s concerned. Nah. Better to let the Daffy go quietly.”
Harry and Ginny exchanged looks. Owen was right about goblins, at least. Harry, Ron and Hermione had had lots of trouble with Gringotts over the break-in, and it had taken Ministry pressure, Harry paying quite a bit of gold, and the issuance of public apologies to soothe their ruffled feelings. And the goblins still treated Harry like dirt, which was why he avoided setting foot in Gringotts these days.
“Well, that’ll be for the owners to decide anyway, isn’t it?” asked Ginny.
“Oh, didn’t you know? There’s four of us,” said Owen. “Myself, Carrie, Daphne, and old Gerry. It’s me and Carrie who do most of the day to day work. Gerry does the books. Daphne’s lot’s a bit of a silent partner,” he sniffed. “Always have been.”
“You’re a part owner?” said Harry in surprise. “You don’t look...”
“Old enough?” Owen laughed. “The Daffy’s been handed down, generation after generation. I got my bit from my dad, who got it from granddad. He said, ‘Son, you might as well take it off me hands now and see what you can make of it.’ He’s always buried in his work in the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures. Maybe I should have joined him at the Ministry,” he said musingly.
“If you’re not interested in continuing the business, why don’t you just sell your share?” asked Ginny.
Owen chuckled. “Believe me, the thought’s often on my mind. But the Daffy’s ownership contract is a bit funny. People did things differently back in the old days; they wanted to tie things up so that outsiders couldn’t just buy their way in. Any family leaves, their share is split amongst the others. I’d get no gold other than whatever the others might give me out of the kindness of their hearts. That’s the big problem: we’re all locked in together, unless three of us four decide to close the shop. Fat chance of that.” Owen’s smile dimmed. “Hey, you two carry on, yeah? I need to check in on the kitchen.”
“I begin to see why this place is in the dumps,” muttered Harry.
“No wonder Gwenog and the others weren’t keen on showing up,” said Ginny. “They must think it’s practically a lost cause.”
A short while later a waitress came by, and with a practiced flick of a wand, charmed a basket of Glamorgan sausages to fly through the air and land gently on the table. “Compliments from Owen,” she said with a quick smile, and then hurried off.
Ginny pounced on the finger-length breaded cheese-and-leek sticks with gusto. “These are good,” she said. “Ow! Hot!” She spotted one of her team-mates and got up. “Oh hey there’s Tabby, I’m going to go say hello.”
“I’ll get us new drinks,” said Harry.
The pub began to fill up. More people Flooed in; fans, famous people, and former Harpies players. Ginny went a little pink when Gideon Crumb, her favourite Weird Sisters band member, appeared and she insisted on introducing themselves to him, and then chattering away with him breathlessly for fifteen minutes about her favourite songs and his favourite Chaser tactics. Most of the time however, it was Carrie Wilson who adroitly circulated people round to their table. It was dawning on Harry that as he was the Harpies’ Most Famous Fan and Ginny was one of only two other members of the First Seven present, they were the star couple in the room, and being given the VIP treatment.
After a while however, even Ginny began to fidget and sneak glances at her watch. “I hope dinner’s almost ready,” she muttered.
Harry recognised the signs. “Somebody’s hungry. Right, why don’t we have a look at the menu and see if we can get a light snack in first.”
Just then, there was another swirl of people around the fireplace, the reporters hurrying over to get photographs of the new arrivals. Carrie cut through the throng, making a few remarks to the press, then began leading a familiar young lady over to their table.
“Harry, Ginny, I’d like to introduce you to our youngest business partner.” There was just the slightest derisive emphasis on the word youngest in Carrie’s voice, so faint that it might almost be imagined. “This is Daphne Greengrass. In fact I think she’s about your age, perhaps you’ve met at Hogwarts? Daphne, I’m sure you know-”
Daphne’s smile was wholly professional socialite cordiality. Harry pasted on the similar one he had learned to put on over years of having to exchange small talk with people he’d rather not have to meet at events he’d rather not be at. It was true that Harry had never had any run-ins with Daphne through all the turmoil of his school years, as she was not a regular member of Pansy Parkinson’s gossipy gang; but it was equally true that he also had never so much as said hello to her. Furthermore no Slytherin students had fought against Voldemort in the battle at Hogwarts, and even now Harry still had strong feelings on that score.
Carrie was still making introductions. “-Daphne’s brought her sister, Astoria-”
Likewise, Astoria Greengrass was an unknown quantity to Harry. He vaguely remembered seeing her around Hogwarts; she was shorter and slimmer than even Ginny, with a thick head of sleek dark hair, a pixie-ish face, and large hazel eyes. To Harry’s surprise, Ginny perked up, and the two of them exchanged positively friendly smiles and handshakes.
“-and this is Astoria’s date,” Carrie continued, but Harry didn’t need to hear the rest.
Standing behind Astoria, looking almost sneeringly urbane in a crisp T-shirt, blazer and chinos, all midnight black, all screaming expensively bespoke tailoring, was Draco Malfoy.
“Malfoy,” said Harry evenly.
“Potter,” said Draco, with not the slighest hint of a nod.
“Ah, I see you do know each other,” said Carrie brightly. “Excellent. I’ll seat you all together at dinner.”
* * *
And that was the end of the beginning, thought the killer. All the pieces were now in play.
In the kitchen of the Druid And Daffodil, line cooks and wait staff put the finishing touches on steaming serving trays of soups, starters, main courses, and puddings. An army of wine bottles stood on the sideboard. A fresh cask of Druid’s Gold was broached.
As dinner commenced, orders came flowing into the kitchen, and the staff swept their wands over the food. Charmed tureens ladled soup into bowls, starter plates began assembling themselves, long sharp knives carved into roasts and racks of ribs. The wait staff double-checked each order before guiding them to the proper places with sweeping waves of their wands; as many as fifteen dishes at a time orbiting each server as they walked out to the dining room.
The killer gathered a selection of plates, and joined the bustle.
* * *
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