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They All Fall Down by WitnesstoitAll
Format: Short story
Chapter 2: II. Murder the Second (Revisited)
Disclaimer: Because these are sensitive topics, please be aware that this story contains scenes vaguely depicting murder, victims, and the investigation.
James yawned. The morning sun was not yet beginning to peak up over the roof tops that lined the desolate alley. A reminder of exactly how early it had been when he was summoned from his bed minutes earlier.
He had only just finished consoling Kara and had slipped into a restless sleep when he heard an urgent tapping at his window. His father’s great horned owl hopped through the window, a hurriedly scrawled message tied to her leg. There had been a body discovered on the night patrol, and he and Teddy were being assigned to the case.
James had continued lying in bed for a moment, torn between the penchant for a good murder investigation and the slender, warm body sleeping in his arms. Begrudgingly, he kissed Kara on her head, dressed, scribbled a quick note of explanation, and Disapparated from the flat.
When he had arrived at the corner of Grant and Knockturn Alley, Teddy was already there. Several law enforcement officers were busy carrying out his instructions, establishing the perimeter. To James’ surprise, Roxanne stood outside the perimeter. Her arms were folded tightly across her chest.
James stifled a second yawn that was rising in his chest. He walked over to Teddy and clapped him on the back. The senior Auror jumped.
“So what do we have here, mate?” James shoved his glasses up his nose and glanced around the dank alley. The victim, an adult male, lay face up. It appeared that he had been dead for several hours. Deep gashes lined his face, chest, and abdomen. He lay in a puddle of blood that had begun to dry around him.
“Victim is Mr. Walden McNair. A Death Eater by his own proclamation at a Ministry protest last week. I checked his records.” Teddy turned towards James. “He was sentenced to Azkaban in June of ’98, implicated in the murders of four people – was recently released after completing his twenty-five year sentence.”
“Sectumsempra, I’m assuming?” James leaned over the body, inspecting the wounds more closely.
“Aye. And a damn good one, from the looks of the lacerations. Poor bastard must have lain here until he lost consciousness.” Teddy sat back against a rubbish bin a contemplative look passed over his face. “One hell of a way to go, though, if you ask me.”
“Given McNair’s history,” James swallowed roughly, “it’s hard to remember that no one deserves this.” He stood up and motioned to the nearest law enforcement officer to collect the body. “Do we have any witnesses? I’m assuming that Roxanne was the first on the scene?”
“We do. The law enforcement officer first on the scene found the Alchemist from next door sitting at the end of the alley. Appears to have been stunned, makes me think that he may have seen something.” Teddy motioned towards an elderly man sitting on the dirty alley in a night dress and cap. “Roxanne is waiting to be questioned also – she found the body on her late patrol.”
“I’m guessing that you want me to take Roxanne then?” James did not withhold the judgement the dripped from his voice. “So the two of you don’t compromise the investigation?”
Teddy opened his mouth to defend himself, but thought better of it. Instead he began walking towards the shopkeeper. “I’ll take the old man, then,” he shouted over his shoulder. He shook his head, a smile on his face, as he walked towards the old man’s slight frame. James always thought he knew best.
James shook his head at his partner as he walked towards the corner of Knockturn Alley. Teddy was a senior Auror. He of all people should understand the concept of professionalism, not to mention the concept of loyalty. Pushing his judgements form his mind, he looked up and offered his cousin a reassuring smile. Roxanne was still holding her arms crossed tightly across her chest. She was pacing anxiously back and forth.
She looked up at the sound of James’ voice. “For it only being your first month on patrol, you have one hell of a knack for finding murder victims,” James chuckled.
“Jones was with me when we found the last one, James.” The defensiveness in her voice caught him off guard.
“Roxanne, I’m not accusing you of anything.” James chuckled. “Take it easy.”
Roxanne inhaled slowly. “I'm sorry. Just a little shaken. We always patrol this part of town. If Death Eaters keep ending up murdered here, we’re going to keep finding them.”
“You think that there’s a connection then?” James’ voice was sceptical. “Roxy –”
She glared at him at his use of her childhood nickname.
“– Death Eaters have been killing each other in alleys since our parents were kids. Just because two ended up cursed recently doesn’t mean there’s a connection. Most of their prison sentences are up; they probably have old scores to settle with one another, now that they’re free.” He patted the young Auror on the back. “So did you notice anything peculiar when you first arrived on the scene?”
Roxanne sighed and began recounting everything that she could remember.
At the other end of the alley, Teddy approached their potential witness.
He was a frail, elderly man. His bright blue eyes were magnified to an almost comedic size behind his round spectacles, and his white moustache hung below his chin on either side of his small mouth. Teddy sighed. It would be the department’s luck that their witness be an elderly, demented old man.
“Good Morning, sir.” Teddy stuck his hand out in greeting. “I’m senior Auror Teddy Lupin. I understand that you witnessed the murder last night before being attacked?”
“Aye, that I did. It was horrible, Mr. Lupin. Horrible. I was lying in my bed, minding my own, and remembered that the rubbish bin behind the counter, the one in the shop, hadn’t been emptied at the end of the night, and so I went out into the alley with it.”
“I’m sure it was traumatising, Mr, Mr?”
“Mr. Turpin – the killer was wearing a cloak and had the hood up. Didn’t stop me from getting a good look at the good-for-nothing murderer’s face.” Mr. Turpin stuck his hand out to return Teddy’s shake. His eyes travelled up to the senior Auror’s face, and his mouth opened to recount what he had noticed.
Teddy’s heart raced, he was curious as to what Mr. Turpin had to say, but the old man’s face went slack and his bright blue eyes were blank before he said a word.
The office was a flurry of activity.
Aurors quickly bustled back and forth between desks with rolls of parchment and stacks of photographs clutched in their hands. James was relieved that none of the traffic was towards his desk. The clock on his cubicle wall read 9:03am, and he let out an exasperated sigh. Now that he’d been at work for the past four and a half hours, his day was finally scheduled to start.
He pushed his chair back from his desk and made his way to the department’s tiny coffee pot. It was the general consensus of the coffee-consuming Aurors that the pot’s contents tasted more like sludge than coffee, but James pushed this thought from his mind. Coffee was coffee. He lifted his room temperature cup to his lips and began sorting through his post. There were a handful of thank-you messages from various cases which he hung on his cubicle wall. He smiled, there was nothing better than knowing the public recognised the hand of the law, and appreciated it’s involvement in the community.
There were two other letters. He paused. One was from Kara. He tore open the sweet, flowery-scented envelope. It contained her apologies that he had to leave so early after working so late, a request for him to be careful on his newest case, and promises of what lay in store for him later that evening when he returned home from work. James smiled and cursed his Weasley genes as a scarlet hue crept across his cheeks. He hurriedly tucked the letter into his robe pocket; he wanted to be sure he capitalised on each of Kara’s promises when he eventually left the office for the day.
The final envelope sported a neatly written address, and James opened it curiously. It was a letter from Victoire. He raised an eyebrow; his cousin was requesting his presence at her house when he got off of work. James groaned. He loved Victoire, but if he knew his cousin, she would be fishing for information about Teddy. He hated to play middle man, but knew that he owed it to Teddy and their investigation to put her mind at ease. He folded the parchment into an aeroplane, charmed it, and watched amusedly as it flew into the rubbish bin next to his desk. It looked as though Kara’s promises were going to have to wait.
James jumped as chair rolled up beside him. Teddy laughed at his partner and kicked his feet up, letting them rest on the corner of the younger man’s desk.
“So, how’d the interrogation of old man go?” James pushed Teddy’s feet off of his desk, swallowing back the habitual irritation that had flared up at his partner’s unprofessional and casual demeanor. “Did he see anything useful?”
“No.” Teddy’s face was grim. “He remembers seeing the murderer and the victim in the alley, but it appears that our serial killer stunned Mr. Turpin before wiping his memory clean. The old man can’t tell us anything that happened after he walked into the alley.”
“Serial killer?” James spun around to face Teddy. “Don’t you think it’s a bit early to make that jump? Sure, both our victim and Jones’ were Death Eaters, but Sectumsempra is a dark curse.” James shook his head. “All of the Death Eaters sentenced in the nineties are being released. These two victims probably owed a debt to another Death Eater or something. If the press catches wind of the word serial killer, this investigation is going to be huge. I just don’t think we need sort of attention just yet.”
“You’re so naive, James.” His partner’s words cut him deeply, and James stared across his office at him. “We’ve got two Death Eaters, killed by the same curse at the same time of day, found in similar alleys, with no reliable witnesses. That sounds like a few too many coincidences for two unrelated murders.”
“I’m just keeping my mind open, Teddy.” James’ voice was low.
“Well, your open mind is stifling our careers.” Teddy’s words surprised James. “We have a chance to be the golden boys of this department, to put our faces on everyone’s morning copy of The Prophet. That’s a huge opportunity. Regular murders may get mentioned in the prophet, but nobody remembers them. Serial killers make the front page of the prophet, they catch the public’s attention, and the Aurors on their case become household names, household heroes.” Teddy’s eyes were bright. “Even if we never catch the serial killer, we become infallible. If this is just a murder –”
“If this is just a murder,” James cut his senior partner off, “and we push towards making this case something it’s not, the department will wonder whether one of us is trying to hide something.”
“No one in this department will ever have to wonder if the two of you are hiding something if this argument keeps up.” Teddy and James both jumped and turned to see the Head of the Department standing outside the cubicle. “I can hear you from my office, so I know the rest of the department can too.”
“Harry.” Teddy stood and nodded at his boss and godfather.
“Dad.” James began shuffling his meagre case file into some semblance of order.
“You have been here for far too many hours the past two days.” Harry said, shaking his head at the two Aurors. “Make sure you both get some sleep this evening. I need you to be well rested. I have a feeling that this case is a big one, especially if the public catches wind of it.”
“So you think it’s related to Jones’ case?” Teddy smirked. “You think we have a serial killer on our hands, don’t you?”
“I think it’s much too early to tell what we have, but yes, I think there’s a possibility that the same person is responsible for both deaths.” Harry pushed his glasses up his tired face. He too had worked far too many hours recently. “Now, both of you go home for the day. You’re doing no good for anyone as tired as you are.”
Harry left his son’s cubicle, earnestly hoping that his feeling about these recent murders were wrong. He sighed; his intuition was rarely wrong.
A/N: And there you have it. Chapter two. No murder in this chapter, but hopefully the mystery has continued to thicken. A huge thank you to everyone who has read this! I'd love to hear what you think...