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Chapter 1: I. Murder the Second
Disclaimer: This chapter contains the vague description of a murder. Do not read any further if this is not something that you care to read.
Two figures stand silently in the shadows between two neighbouring shops. Both welcome the darkness as their friend and accomplice for their task at hand. The smell of the day’s discarded brews rises from the Apothecary’s rubbish bins and mingles with the odour of the loose waste scattered on the ground. Both inhale and wrinkle their noses in detest. For all intents and purposes, the two are one and the same, save for one critical difference – only one of the figures knows that they are not alone in the alley.
Watching the ignorant figure, the other pulls a wand from the recesses of a robe pocket.
A violent swish.
Two rapid flicks.
The silent curse is executed with awe-worthy precision, and the ignorant figure falls to the ground. Thick trails of dark crimson run out from the fallen figure. The remaining figure suppresses the satisfied grin that dances under the hooded cloak and considers the handiwork lying in the alley.
It was just as training had taught. The hand of the law must always prevail, and sometimes it is necessary for an Auror to kill. This death is necessary just as the last one had been. How many lives had been torn apart by the self-proclaimed Death Eater now lying in the alley? How many families had been shattered by the one lying in the morgue?
It is late.
Surveying the scene one last time, the dark figure turns on the spot, leaving the alley. Yes. Justice will prevail and the wizarding world will finally give credit where credit is due. The hand of the law will be recognised.
James Potter fumbled for his pocket watch. He knew that watches of the sort were terribly outdated, but he found the tradition oddly comforting. He had carried his golden watch everywhere with him since he had come of age nearly eight years ago. Pushing his glasses up his nose, he squinted at the round face and swore violently.
It was late, much later than he had thought it was. Time had run away from him this evening. He sighed and unlocked the door to flat that he and his girlfriend shared. Taking care to move quietly, James made his way through the darkened rooms. He earnestly hoped that Kara was already asleep. This was the second time in the past two weeks that he had come home late, and the look on her face last week still tugged at his conscience. She was sure to have questions; she never did seem to understand that there were some aspects of his job best not explained.
“Lumos,” James whispered. He smiled, and breathed a sigh of relief. A small mound underneath the plush, navy-blue duvet on the bed assured him that Kara Finnegan was indeed asleep.
He gently pushed her thick, blonde curls from her face and planted a kiss on her cheek. She stirred slightly, her lips mouthing words James could only guess at. He knew that he needed to change out of his robe and get to bed quickly if he was to avoid her scrutiny and his own feelings of guilt. Kara had always been a light sleeper.
Hastily, James pulled his Auror-grey robe over his head and opened his wardrobe. The door squeaked.
“James, is ‘at you?” Kara murmured sleepily from the bed.
James froze as the bedside lamp lit the tiny room.
“James Potter, why are you covered in blood?” She sat up from under the blanket; her eyes were wide with worry.
James looked down at his undershirt. It was spattered with blood; apparently his hasty clean-up charm had only worked on his outer robes. He quickly ripped the tell-tale garment over his head and threw it into the dirty clothes pile next to the hamper.
“It’s nothing, really,” he said as he slid into bed next to her and shut the lamp off.
“James, that’s an awful lot of blood for being nothing.” Her voice meant business, and she pressed a firm kiss to his forehead. “Did you just get in? Why are you so late? Your patrol ended hours ago.”
James inhaled slowly.
“Babe, it’s nothing really. I promise you.” He kissed her lips, before they had a chance to protest.
“Nice try, but you know damn well that that won’t work, Potter.” She pulled away from his grasp. “Well?”
“I sliced my hand fairly badly at the office.” The reluctance in his voice made Kara roll her eyes. “It was slow today; a few of us blokes were duelling to pass the time. But I swear; it’s nothing. Jones fixed it right up. I cleaned my robe. Just forgot to clean up my shirt.”
“I wish you’d be more careful, James. I don’t know what I’d do if something happened to you.” Her voice was serious, but the weight of her worry seemed to be alleviated. “So why so late? You do know that you work too hard, don’t you?”
The worst of the scrutiny was over. Kara turned away from him and snuggled into the hard line of his body. James inhaled the scent of her hair.
“I switched duties with Teddy for this evening. The bloody bastard ended up staying out on patrol after shift change, so I was stuck in the office. I only got to leave because Roxanne came in for the late shift.”
“Hmm.” Kara murmured unintelligibly. James could tell she was on her way to being asleep once again. He smiled – he had emerged from the conversation relatively unscathed.
Teddy chuckled to himself – it had been a satisfying evening at the office. Harry had been right, no matter how long he worked as an Auror, the gratifications of the job would never cease to amaze him. He strode up the lane to his front door, surprised to find that all of the front windows were dark. It must have been much later than he intended.
Making his way through the front door and up the stairs, Teddy glanced at the large grandfather clock on the landing. The rhythmic ticking of the second hand mocked his tardiness. He groaned; the sound pervaded the silence, reminding him of the certain war waiting for him in the master bedroom.
It seemed as though every night was its own battle.
He clicked on the light and flung open the closet door. His clean robes hung, sorted chromatically on the left hand side of the closet. Victoire was the champion of organisation when she was irritated. And from the appearance of the closet, Teddy was not ready for his wife’s level of irritation on this particular evening.
The way he saw it, a shower was in order.
He pulled his robe up over his broad shoulders and ambled into the bathroom. The water was a warm and welcomed refuge from the cold emptiness of his bedroom. As it streamed down his body, he replayed his evening at work in his head. It didn’t matter if Victoire was upset with him. He had had a fabulous night at work that was, in his opinion, well worth the fallout. Showers were good for the soul.
“Teddy, do you have any idea how late it is?” Teddy stepped out of the shower to the angry face of his wife.
“Yeah, Vic.” Teddy sighed and reached for his towel. “I do happen to know how late it is.”
“Oh. Well thank Merlin for your accurate sense of time, Ted.” She grabbed his towel and thrust it into his outstretched hand. “I suppose you don’t know what time John goes to bed since you’re never home before midnight anymore.”
“Around eight?” Teddy tied the towel around his waist and brushed past Victoire.
“Eight?” Her eyes were wide. Teddy rolled his. He had guessed wrong. “Teddy, John hasn’t gone to bed at eight since he was eighteen months old – he’s nearly three, in case you missed that too. It’d be nice if he actually got to see you occasionally.”
“Vic, don’t do that to me.” He cleared a circle of dew from the mirror. “You know damn well that I love our son.”
“You have a funny way of showing it.” Her voice trembled. Teddy picked up his toothbrush.
“I said don’t do this to me.” He began brushing his teeth. “Where is he at? I didn’t see his nightlight on when I walked down the hall.”
“He’s sleeping in our bed.” Victoire changed her approach. She moved behind him and laced her arms around his waist. “It’s a big bed and I’m tired of sleeping in it alone.” Teddy rolled his eyes for a second time.
“My job is demanding.” He pulled away from her. “You knew that when we found out about John, and when you decided that you were marrying me. It’s about time you quit acting so damn surprised every time I come home late.” He pulled his pyjama bottoms on under his towel and left the bathroom.
“Teddy. We’re not done talking.” Victoire’s whisper was a hiss in Teddy’s ears. “Where are you going?”
“I’m putting my son to bed.”
Teddy walked to the side of the double bed he had shared with Victoire for the past two and a half years. A small boy was lying amongst the multiple blankets. His white blond hair concealed his peaceful face, and his thumb was clamped firmly in his mouth. Teddy smiled and scooped the little boy’s limp body into his arms. He made his way down the hall and into the bright orange room where he laid John into his bed. Pulling the covers up over him, Teddy ruffled his son’s hair. The small child stirred under his hand.
“Daddy?” He whispered as he opened one eye a crack.
“It’s me little guy. I’ll be here tomorrow when you wake up, so go back to sleep.” John rolled over in his bed, snuggling down into the covers. Teddy leant over him and kissed him on the forehead. “I’m so sorry, buddy. I hope you know I love you.” Giving one last glance to the little boy’s bed, Teddy made his way back to his bedroom.
Victoire was already in bed, though she was not sleeping. Teddy walked by her and crawled into his own side of the bed.
“Teddy?” Her voice was all but a whisper. “Teddy, I’m so sorry. I know that you work really hard, and that John means the world to you.”
Teddy sighed into the dark.
“I just can’t help but let my imagination wonder, and I end up making myself paranoid, given our circumstances.” He felt her hand on his shoulder
“You shouldn’t think too much, Vic.” He continued to stare straight away. “It just causes problems.
“Teddy, you swear you weren’t with Roxanne tonight?” She squeezed his shoulder lightly.
“Bloody Merlin, that was last year. Do we have to keep bringing up old history?” He sat up to face her.
“Everyone knows the two of you shared more than an interest in law enforcement before you and I ended up together.”
“Everyone needs to mind their own business.” Teddy brushed a stray strand of hair from Victoire’s face. “I’m here aren’t I?”
Victoire smiled and pressed a kiss to Teddy’s lips. She turned and snuggled into the blankets.
“I love you, Teddy.” She whispered into the dark room.
Teddy stared at the wall.
Roxanne Weasley’s breath caught in her chest. She slowly lowered her cloak’s hood from her head and shivered as she surveyed the scene in front of her. The alley was covered in litter and the two lone rubbish bins were overflowing with discarded potion bottles. The body of Walden McNair was lying face up on the ground. Roxanne swallowed roughly and waved her wand over the body. There were no signs of life. She felt her stomach heave, and she forced herself to recite her training mantra.
It calmed her nerves and she smiled. After three years of hard work at the academy, her night patrol had paid off yet again. She would make a name for herself yet in an Auror office full of outstanding cousins, famous uncles, and talented friends.
Torn between the excitement of an murder investigation and the horror of it all, she pulled a gold coin from her pocket and tapped it with her wand.
“This is Auror Roxanne Weasley. I have another body. This one’s on the corner of Grant and Knockturn Alley. Looks similar to the victim from Jones’ case last week. Standing by for instructions.”
A/N: This little short story has been in the works for quite a while, it is completely prewritten so I should be updating frequently. Thank you for reading this chapter, as always, reviews are appreciated.