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SIYE Time:16:55 on 17th May 2022


Midseason Murders: Down The Pub
By sapphire200182

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Category: Post-DH/AB
Characters:Harry/Ginny
Genres: Action/Adventure, Drama, General
Warnings: Death, Mild Language
Story is Complete
Rating: PG-13
Reviews: 20
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.
Hitcount: Story Total: 2448; Chapter Total: 470







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Chapter Two



There were, of course, speeches.

The President of the Holyhead Harpies Fan Club introduced herself as Mrs Bethany Bevan. She was a plump middle-aged lady in a green twinset, bottle glasses, and a Harpies scarf wound comically round her neck. First she thanked the guests of honour for gracing the occasion; five former Harpies, two longtime club sponsors, Seeker Tabitha Lewis, and of course Chaser Ginny Weasley and ‘notable fan’ Harry Potter. Then she gave a quick summary of the Druid And Daffodil’s history, and its recent financial troubles.

“Dear old Gerry, Carrie, Owen and young Daphne’s family have hosted us all most graciously all these years,” said Mrs Bevan in her lilting Welsh accent. “I’m sure we all have many fond memories of the times we spent here, especially on match days, and I know we all feel the Daffy’s like a real home away from home. So let’s all pitch in and see if we can save the old girl. Tonight’s a good start, and we have more activities and fêtes planned for the rest of the year which I’ll talk about later. But for now, let’s tuck in!”

Harry and Ginny shared a bowl of leek and potato soup, prawn salad, cod and chips, and a lamb roast with new potatoes. The dishes were satisfyingly portioned, and Ginny attacked her plate with true Weasley appetite. Harry focused on his dinner as well, in no small part to avoid addressing the elephant in the room, the spectre at the feast - the Malfoy at the table.

The seating arrangement had been obvious of course; Astoria and Daphne flanked Ginny and Harry respectively, so the Greengrasses formed a demilitarised zone between them and Malfoy. Everyone present knew that was the only layout that stood a chance of making it through dinner without hexes flying. The one disadvantage was that every time Harry looked up, Malfoy was directly across the table, himself concentrating on his plate and only occasionally shooting glowering glances his way.

Git.

On her part, Ginny was having a good time. Astoria was a friendly girl with whom Ginny had had a few words, usually when passing by each other in the Hogwarts library or greenhouses. Astoria was mad for plants, as Ginny had discovered when her dorm-mates dragged her to a meeting of the Herbology Club once and she’d talked both Ginny’s ears off. In turn Astoria had taken a cordial interest in Ginny’s Quidditch and congratulated her when she’d won the game - and Harry - that memorable fifth year, as well as when she was recruited by the Harpies.

Besides, this evening they both had something else in common to bitch about: boyfriends.

“He hasn’t said a word,” muttered Astoria angrily.

“Mine neither. It’s like Hogwarts all over again.” Ginny rolled her eyes.

“Acting like first years. Boys!

“At least yours has an excuse, he’s all the way over there. Harry hasn’t so much as asked Daphne to pass the cruet.” Ginny hesitated. It wasn’t as if she and Astoria were that close. But she reasoned it was a very natural thing to ask, and since they were on the subject, and she was terribly curious… “How are you and Draco getting on?”

Astoria’s pale cheeks coloured a little. “Rather well. Draco can be kind and attentive, when he wants to be. He just occasionally needs a little...”

Ginny couldn’t help herself. “Bashing over the head?”

Astoria smiled. “...needling, I was going to say. And how goes it, being the girlfriend of the great Harry Potter?”

Alright, I deserved that, thought Ginny. “Tiresome, occasionally. We don’t see each other as often as we’d like. Harry is… very keen on his Auror work. And so protective.” She rolled her eyes.

“So is Draco, sometimes.” Astoria smiled wickedly and meaningfully. “It’s not always a bad thing. It can be rather sexy, can’t it?”

Ginny laughed.

Harry wondered what his girlfriend and Malfoy’s could be whispering so animatedly about. He glanced over, and caught Ginny’s eye. Ginny’s eyes flicked quickly to Harry’s left, and she gave him the do it or you’re going to pay afterwards glare. Harry sighed inwardly, and turned towards Daphne Greengrass.

“So, Daphne, I’ve heard you’re the fourth partner in the Druid And Daffodil,” said Harry. “How did that come about?”

If Daphne had any grudges against Harry, she didn’t show it, plunging eagerly into this fairly safe table topic. “Our quarter-share in the pub has been in the Greengrass family for centuries,” said Daphne. “Daddy decided last year it was time I tried my hand at managing a business, and deeded me the pub. I think Astoria might get part of a farm for her own next year.”

The Greengrasses, Daphne explained, owned a lot of farms across Britain, mainly in dairy and magical herbs, as well as a few odds and ends such as the Druid And Daffodil. Preston Greengrass was teaching his children to take over the family businesses, and one of the ways he did this was by giving them a small business to manage for themselves, once he judged they were capable enough. It was test and training and reward all in one; if the business did well, they kept the profits.

“Our brother Caerus mucked up his first business, and Daddy had to step in,” said Daphne. “But he got lots better at it, tried again, and now he’s got two hundred head of Friesians and fifty Mooncalves of his own.”

“Why did you choose this pub, in particular?” asked Harry.

Daphne blushed a little. “I didn’t really think it through,” she admitted. “I met Gerry and Owen and the Wilsons at one of Daddy’s dinners, and thought it would be a low-risk enterprise to try my hand at.” She grimaced. “I didn’t know it would be such a bloody mess.”

“So I’ve heard,” said Harry. “Owen says he would rather just walk away from it all, no matter what people like Mrs Bevan seem to think.”

“Owen and Carrie are far too involved in the day-to-day running of the business to take an objective view,” said Daphne.

Just then Carrie Wilson came by, a half-drunk glass of ale in her hand. “Daphne, you haven't seen old Gerry around, have you?” she asked. “He’s missed half the dinner already, and he’s supposed to be giving a speech before pudding.”

Daphne shook her head. “No, I haven’t seen him all evening,” she said.

Harry noted her tone was coolly polite, the kind of tone people adopted when they disliked the other but was keen on pretending nothing was wrong. Harry got quite a bit of that at the office. Even Aurors were human...

“Right. I’ll send out the search parties,” said Carrie dryly.

A young, rather good-looking man in a shirt and smart knit sweater came up behind Carrie. “Will you please relax, Carrie. You know Gerry’s never on time. And you’re not supposed to be drinking,” he chided gently.

“Oh, quit nagging for a second and make yourself useful,” snapped Carrie, before storming off, the young man at her heels.

“That’s Hugh Wilson,” said Astoria.

“Really? He looks young,” said Ginny, watching his receding back.

“He’s twenty-seven to her thirty-six,” said Astoria. “Fit, isn’t he? I don’t know what he sees in her. I don’t think she knows what she sees in him, either.”

“That’s sad,” said Ginny, with genuine sympathy.

The sight of the arguing couple was getting Harry down as well. He reached over and took Ginny’s hand. She turned her bright brown eyes on him, and Harry sort of willed her to understand. That’s never going to be us. I love you.

Ginny smiled. Did he realise he’d actually mouthed those three words? Drunk Harry was adorable. He’d do and say a lot of things he usually kept fiercely private. How many drinks had he had, three? He was such a lightweight. Ginny mouthed back, I love you too, and squeezed his hand.

“Gerry is running late, even for him,” muttered Daphne. In answer to Harry’s questioning look, she said, “Gerry Yaxley’s the senior partner, does the book-keeping and all the paperwork. He’s a bit of a curmudgeon, very set in his ways. He’s the main reason why the pub looks like this.” Daphne gestured at the walls. “He refuses to spend a single Knut, refuses to change a single fixture, would rather keep it the way he’s remembered it for sixty years.”

“And what’s your take?” asked Harry.

Daphne grimaced. “Neither Gerry nor Carrie are entirely wrong, given their lights,” she said. “The Daffodil might just tick on another few years just the way it is, but it’s a slow and sure death. If we want to turn it around, Carrie’s right, we do need gold. Just not from the goblins.” Daphne flicked her head elegantly at the Harpies fans. One of them was standing up on a bench and was conducting with a glass of beer a rude song about the Caerphilly Catapults, the Harpies’ most hated rivals. Twenty fans were gleefully roaring out the chorus. “This place is mainly for them, isn’t it? Maybe they should help out more with the expenses.”

...and when he finished on the bitch, she cried out loud and flooded the pitch! So Caerphilly, Caerphilly got the Snitch!”

“I suppose,” said Harry. He was about to change the subject when sweet old Mrs Bevan got up in front of the dining room again.

“I trust you all have had a lovely dinner,” she said a little tipsily. “Before we move on to pudding however, I have a surprise for one of you. In honour of one of the biggest Harpies fans to join our club, let’s have another song! Everybody together now!”

The lights dimmed, and Owen Griffiths came in levitating a massive birthday cake, iced in Holyhead Harpies green-and-gold and dozens of candied Snitches with sugar-spun wings that flapped and fluttered realistically.

Led by Mrs Bevan, the entire pub chorused exuberantly: “HAPPY BIRTHDAY, HARRY POTTER! Happy birthday to YOU, happy...

Harry saw red. He shot a glance at Mrs Bevan, and caught the pleased look she gave the reporters, who were hastily digging out cameras. He looked around the table at Daphne’s uncomprehending, congratulatory face; at Malfoy’s thin-lipped scowl; Astoria, who had sensed something amiss and was watching him with narrowed eyes; and then at Ginny. And then he swallowed, and tried his best to take control of his own rising temper.

Because Ginny was absolutely livid.

And only Harry would be able to convince her not to start hexing.

* * *


“Once again, for the hard of hearing and thick of skull, we did not, repeat NOT, agree to a birthday celebration!” raged Ginny. “No, I do not give a flying five-finger fuck what you thought, we were explicitly clear! NO! BIRTHDAYS! Which part of that did you not understand?! No, it’s not ‘just a little cake and a sing-along’, and you damn well know it! Nasty? Oh you want to try for nasty, do you? Shall I tell you what I really think about your Galleon-grubbing sack of sycophants and your STUPID SODDING publicity stunts? No, wait, shall I tell the press? They’re right outside in the dining room! Yes, that sounds brilliant, please give me a moment! Oh, really? Now? Get away with you! You lot make me sick!

Harry sat, brooding, in the back offices of the Druid And Daffodil. Out in the dining room, the members of the Holyhead Harpies Fan Club were enjoying ale, cake, and summer berry pavlova. Ginny was in Owen Griffiths’ office, along with Hugh and Carrie Wilson, Daphne, Mrs Bethany Bevan and three other Fan Club committee members, ostensibly for privacy, although whatever muffling charms were on the door were obviously no match for Ginny in full fury. Astoria and Malfoy sat on the sofa opposite him, talking quietly and watching him warily.

Mrs Bevan had tried to press him for a speech, of course. Harry had coldly declined, and Mrs Bevan hadn’t pushed her luck. Ginny had let the party go on for five minutes and then had them all brought in here, and then proceeded to rip into the Fan Club committee.

The door slammed open. Ginny stormed out, her long red braid mussed, and stood there eyeing everyone else beadily as they shuffled out of Owen’s office and into a larger, mahogany-doored one further back. Mrs Bevan was near tears. Everyone avoided Harry’s eye.

He thought it was time to try and calm Ginny down. Harry stood up and took hold of her hand, and guided her down onto the chair next to him. She perched on the edge of the seat, back rigid, arms crossed, fingering the wand sticking out of her jacket pocket. Harry put one arm very loosely behind her, and patted her shoulder lightly.

“They’ve decided they want a private meeting with Gerry Yaxley,” said Ginny scornfully. “How they think that’ll help, I can’t imagine. I’ve words for him, too, if he had anything to do with this!”

Gradually Harry felt her relax, or at least lean back stiffly into his arm. He pulled her closer, and buried his face in her flowery-scented red hair. “They’re just a bunch of idiots looking for their undeserved five minutes of fame,” he said quietly, “and they can all rot in bloody hell for all I care. This is nothing. The fans and the papers will do what they do, and we’ll do what we do: ignore them and get on with life. It’s only you I care about.”

Ginny looked up at him, scowling still. “They’re always prying and snooping! They’re like hyenas feeding off what isn’t theirs! And that woman! Pretending to care about you, when all she really wants is to take advantage of all you’ve done for her own bloody self!”

“Oh, don’t worry,” said Harry grimly. “We’ll get Hermione to think of something nasty and legal we can do to them, she’s good at that. I just don’t want you hexing anybody and giving them more mud to sling at you and ruining your Harpies career.”

“You think I give a damn about my career, compared to this... this tawdry opportunism?!” Ginny fingered her wand, and mused, “What would I get for a couple of good hexes? Maybe a two-match ban... that’d be worth it though...”

“Maybe you think it’d be worth it,” said Harry. “And I love that you’re willing to do this because they tried to take advantage of me. But I don’t want you to sacrifice even a single game of Quidditch, Ginny, even if you think it’s worth it. I’ve never seen you happier than when you’re on a broom making the Tornados cry, and I love that. It feels like this was everything we fought for - so that we could live our lives to the fullest. That’s what I want our revenge to be.”

Ginny sighed. “That doesn’t make it right, Harry.”

“I agree. But none of this really matters, in the big scheme of things.”

“Stop being all noble and forgiving, Harry, you know you hate them as much as I do.”

There it was, a hint of Ginny’s temper finally receding. Harry began smoothing her messy braid, tucked a wayward strand of hair behind her ear, his thumb running down her cheek. “You know what matters?” he murmured barely audibly, “When we’re done here, I’m taking you away. Just the two of us. We’re going to go to some remote muggle island beach nobody knows the name of and just be ourselves for a few days. Nobody to snoop around, nobody to distract us, and you’ll have all of me, one hundred percent.”

Despite herself, Ginny’s focus on imagining the jinxes she could cast on the Fan Club Committee wavered. “Well, that’s nice, we’ve talking about going on holiday for ages, but...”

“I mean it, Ginny,” said Harry, pulling her close. “Robards owes me a lot of leave, and I’m calling it in. The moment you can clear it with Gwenog, we’re gone. One whole week. We’re going to fly and fish and swim and,” his voice dropped even lower, “you’re going to wear that tiny bikini of yours that even Hermione can’t bear to look at all day and we’ll make love on the beach, by the fire, all night until neither of us can walk.

She could see that he meant it, every word. And whatever Harry said he’d do in that tone, he did. The images Ginny’s mind conjured up set a different kind of fire burning inside her. “That does sound good...”

“We’re going to have a glorious time, and it’s going to be just for us. And there’s nothing Mrs Bevan or the Daily Prophet or Snitch! can do about it, but weep bitter tears that they don’t have what we have.”

“And I hope she chokes on them. I should have known the team had good reasons for steering clear of this lot,” huffed Ginny. She sat back a little more relaxedly, her anger tamped down now to a low simmer at the bottom of her chest. Suddenly she hated this stupid pub and all the people in it and all the trappings of professional Quidditch; all she wanted to do was to get away with Harry and forget about all of this.

At this point, however, Astoria broke in. “I’m sure Daphne didn’t know what they were up to,” she said. “I don’t think she even knew you were attending tonight, she would have mentioned it to me. They’re always conveniently ‘forgetting’ to let her know things.”

A terse “I hope so” was all Ginny could bring herself to say. She wasn’t sure how culpable Daphne was, and she didn’t want to offend Astoria, who was after all Daphne’s sister.

There was a strange look on Malfoy’s face. Finally, looking at Ginny, he said the first words he’d addressed to them the whole evening: “It must be upsetting, having one’s private life intruded into,” he said slowly. “And by so-called ‘fans’ of your Quidditch team. I hope it will not have any ill effects on your popularity.”

Ginny tried to work out if Malfoy was trying to be insulting, but beside her, Harry flared up straightaway. “Back off, Malfoy. If you want to know about intrusion, I can give you plenty. The Auror Office would love to have another poke around Malfoy Manor sometime.”

Ginny expected Malfoy to come back with a scathing retort, but instead he merely blinked as if surprised. It was Astoria who stepped in and said quickly, “Draco didn’t mean anything. We do know what it means to have people nosing about our private lives. We hate it as much as you do.”

Ginny could see Harry was about to blow up. All the restraint he had shown earlier had disappeared when Malfoy put his oar in. For Astoria’s sake, Ginny decided to give Malfoy the benefit of the doubt, and to say something to head Harry off. She said quietly to Malfoy, “Birthdays have always been something special to us, for celebrating with family and friends, with people who actually wish us well. It’s not something we want to share with people who are just sucking up or playing a role so they can get publicity.”

Malfoy nodded. “I... empathise,” he said.

A high, shrill scream cut through the air.

Harry leaped to his feet, wand out. A moment later, Ginny had hers out, and then Malfoy and Astoria.

Habits learned in war-time died hard.

The scream cut through the hubbub from the dining-room, stopped, and then set up again, as if the person had only paused for breath. The noise from the partying Harpies fans had stopped, so this one seemed even louder, as it echoed around the now silent pub.

“It came from the back office,” said Ginny.

Harry immediately advanced on the door through which Owen and the rest had gone. Ginny followed, clutching her own wand. She glanced back over her shoulder; Malfoy stood protectively in front of Astoria. He made no move to follow them. Astoria was pale with fear but gripped her own wand determinedly.

The office door slammed open, and Ginny jumped. Owen Griffiths stood in the doorway, breathing heavily. He didn’t seem to register the four wands pointed at him.

“It’s Gerry Yaxley. He’s dead.”

“Who screamed?” asked Harry.

“Mrs Bevan. She found him in his private toilet when she went to wash her face. She’s had rather a shock.”

Harry nodded grimly. Raising his wand above his head, he swept it in a wide circle, and intoned: “Disapparation Inhibeo.” To Owen, he said, “Don’t let anyone touch the body, and don’t let anyone leave the pub. Show me to your Floo, I need to contact the Magical Law Enforcement Patrol.”

* * *


Gawain Robards, Head of the Auror Office, sat in front of his office Floo in evening dress robes. “The Night Squad is on a call-out up north, reported Dementor activity,” he informed Harry brusquely. “We’re very short-handed. I’ll see if I can send you a couple of the freshies, but right now you’re the most senior Auror I can spare. Alright lad, the case is officially yours. You know what to do.”

“Got it.”

“I’ll tell the Floo Office to secure your Floo and get someone to man it on this end. Ruined your party, has it?” said Robards suddenly, with a nasty chuckle.

Harry sighed. “The party wasn’t much fun anyway, sir.”

“Aye, I hear that. I’d come in myself but I’ve got to stick with this bloody boring diplomatic do at the Ministry, and I’ve had a few drinks anyway, I’ll probably end up trampling all over your shop. Well, hold the fort till morning, then I’ll swing Morgan or Strathclyde on it. Give me an update by, oh, say eleven tomorrow morning.”

That was Robards to a tee, thought Harry as he closed the Floo connection and contemplated another sleepless night on the job. Although gruff and apparently uncaring, he was a good boss underneath. That didn’t change the fact however that Harry was looking at a long night ahead, and probably for some time to come. This was going to be a high-profile case, as wizarding murders were blessedly rare nowadays, and that was another left-handed sign of Robards’ favour: he had made Harry the official Auror in charge, which meant that if he solved the case there would be a very good mark on his record.

If.

Harry went back to the Druid And Daffodil’s executive office toilet, now guarded by a DMLE Patrolwizard. Gerry Yaxley-Seymour lay on the lavatory tiles with his arms at his side, as if laid out at a wake. Harry had done the spells that revealed the use of the Killing Curse and that he had died about six hours earlier, sometime in the afternoon. While everyone was getting ready for the party, someone had killed him and put him in his private toilet to reduce the likelihood of the body being found... until when? Why? To make a getaway?

To establish an alibi.

Harry felt his pulse quicken. Reason said not to rule out any possibilities. Experience cautioned further not to jump to conclusions. But instinct told Harry this: the murderer was someone very familiar with the pub, most likely one of the staff... or one of the owners.

“Hello, Harry!”

Harry looked up and smiled. Knowingly or not, Robards had detailed him his two favourites of the new Auror intake: Elizabeth Peasegood and Gordon Cresswell. They were both clever and dedicated, with their own personal reasons for joining the Aurors - Lizzie for having been abused by the Carrows at Hogwarts, and Gordon for losing his father, Dirk Cresswell, to Voldemort’s regime.

“Hello, you two. That was fast,” he said.

Lizzie Peasegood managed a sleepy half-smile, her hair still wet from showering; Gordon said with a grin, “It’s no matter, only a fine Saturday night lie-in with wine and my girl you’ve dragged me from.” He was wearing a very non-regulation Weird Sisters T-shirt and jeans under his Auror uniform cloak.

Harry quickly filled them in. “We don’t have much time,” he concluded. “There are around eighty patrons out there in the dining room and ten staff. There’s only the three of us from the Auror Office and I can only spare three Patrolwizards to help. You’ve learned the interview procedure in training, right? I want everyone to give a statement detailing their activities since, oh, say midday. Ask them if they knew Gerald Yaxley, and if they did, the nature of their relationship, when they last saw him, and if they knew anyone who might want to kill him. Use the private offices and the empty guest rooms as interview rooms. There are four Fan Club committee members in there, divide them up between yourselves. Oh, and do Prior Incantato on all their wands.”

“The Reverse Spell only shows the very last spell performed by the wand,” said Gordon. “If Yaxley was killed in the afternoon, the killer’s probably done loads of spells since then. Apparated away, at the very least.”

“You never know, you might get lucky,” said Harry. “It’s better to cover all angles rather than miss the obvious because it was too obvious. And the pub staff have always maintained an Anti-Apparation Jinx on this pub, I myself had to Floo here this evening. I’ve put up another Jinx though.”

“Why?” asked Lizzie.

“I didn’t want the killer lifting their own Anti-Apparation Jinx and getting away,” said Harry grimly. “Because I think the killer is either one of the staff, or one of the owners. Which is why I will be interviewing them myself.”


* * *
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