You are viewing a story from harrypotterfanfiction.com
Without a Trace by ad astra
Chapter 2: Statues
“How’s Michael?” Genevieve asked Terry the next morning as he made his way to his cubicle, coffee in one hand and Muggle newspaper in the other.
“Great.” Terry tossed the paper onto his desk. “Having another kid, believe it or not.”
“Give him my congratulations.”
Terry grunted, swallowing a mouthful of coffee and vaguely wishing it was something stronger. “What am I doing with my life, Gen?”
“Bugger all, you work here.” She jabbed a finger at the latest file on his desk. “Gave you that one, seeing as you knocked off early yesterday.”
“Why, what is it? Another of our favourite crackpots? Who’s the one not being detained right now?”
Terry groaned. “He’s the worst of them all.”
“Oh, man up and go bring him in. He’s eighty-seven, how much damage can he do?”
“You’ve never been on the receiving end of one of his Stunning Spells, evidently,” Terry replied, flicking through the report. “Hang on, this was in a graveyard.”
Terry tossed the newspaper over to her. “Read the front page. Bunch of Muggles have gone missing from this graveyard.”
“What were you doing buying a Muggle newspaper anyway?” Genevieve asked, already scanning the story.
“Boycotting the Daily Prophet as a protest against tabloidisation.” Terry leaned forward eagerly. “Hey, if you join me, maybe we can get somewhere with this…”
Genevieve dismissed his prattling with a wave of her hand. Terry was always finding something to protest about – the dumbing down of the media was a particular favourite of his. She got the distinct feeling he only did it to remind himself he’d once been an opinionated and articulate Ravenclaw, before the Ministry sucked the life out of him. Tragic, really.
She picked up the incident report she’d given to Terry, scanned it again, and frowned. “This is suss, Terry.”
“It is the same graveyard. Roughly the same time. I don’t think old Barnabas Billesby’s been making people disappear.”
“He’s a bit funny in the head,” Terry argued. “Spellwork gone wrong, maybe…”
Genevieve just looked at him.
“Oh, all right,” he conceded. “Maybe there is some funny stuff going on. But this is the most interesting case to cross our desks for a long time, can we maybe not give it straight to the Aurors?”
“Don’t you think you might be getting a bit…out of your depth?”
“Nah,” Terry said confidently. “Seriously, we’re not dealing with the next You-Know-Who here. It’s just statues. ’Sides, if it was connected with the disappearances, you’d think the Aurors would already know, rather than let the Muggles bumble along and get nowhere.”
“If you’re so sure,” Genevieve said dubiously. “Just don’t get killed on the job, okay? There’s a hell of a lot of paperwork for me if you do that.”
Terry had learned a long time ago the value of a good Muggle police uniform when it came to dealing with various incidents. He dressed in it now, along with the fake ID that introduced him as ‘Sergeant Terence Blakely.’ He had insisted on keeping his first name – it made remembering himself easier and it wasn’t very often he got to introduce himself as Terence, which sounded far more impressive than Terry.
He hoped there would be no Muggle policemen around – though he’d trained as an Obliviator, it was compulsory for everyone in the Misuse of Muggle Artifacts office – he was never a fan of wiping people’s memories or using a Confundus Charm. One of the drawbacks of being the only Ravenclaw in the office – he had a serious problem with meddling with anyone’s minds, for the simple reason he couldn’t bear the thought of someone doing it to him.
He focused on the image of the cemetery on the file, choosing an out-of-the-way corner to Apparate into. Once he arrived, the sound of his Apparition carefully muffled, he glanced around the cemetery and his heart sank.
The whole place was swarming with Muggle police officers.
Well, Terry reasoned with himself, At least I’ll be able to blend in.
Trying to look as nonchalant as he could, Terry sauntered towards the nearest statue.
“Who’s that man?”
John glanced around, trying to follow Sherlock’s gaze. “What man?”
“That one, over there. He wasn’t here before.”
“Dunno, just another cop.”
Sherlock narrowed his eyes. “What’s he looking at the statues for?”
“Maybe he’s found a clue?” John suggested.
The man glanced around him, as if assuring himself he wasn’t being watched.
“Or maybe…” John trailed off as he realised Sherlock was already several feet away, striding towards the man.
“Morning, officer,” Sherlock said to the man, offering his hand. The man jumped, but recovered quickly enough.
“Morning,” he responded, shaking Sherlock’s hand. “I’m Sergeant Terence Blakely.”
“Sherlock Holmes, and this is my colleague, Dr John Watson. Found anything on the statues?”
“Trying to,” Terence said with a small smile. “Not a lot to go on, is there? Sorry, I didn’t catch your rank, Mr Holmes?”
“Oh, I’m not,” Sherlock replied. “I’m a consulting detective. Well, I’ll let you get on with your work.” Sherlock offered Terence a smile, which disappeared, as usual, the moment he turned around.
“So?” John prompted, scrambling a bit to catch up with him. “What did you find?”
“Oh, nothing much,” Sherlock replied. “Just that Terence Blakely is a fraud.”
“So, go on,” John began once they were seated in a small café five minutes’ walk from the cemetery. “How did you know Terence Blakely’s a fraud? If he’s a fraud.”
Sherlock gave him a withering look. “Obvious, John, you can always tell when someone’s lying. He never once made eye contact, with you or with me. He hid something inside his sleeve as we approached and he was fiddling with it the entire time. His uniform was brand new, hardly ever worn, but the style of the jacket is at least five years old, there have been subtle changes over the years to the police uniform. It’s okay, I wouldn’t expect you to notice. And he was staring at that statue, inspecting that statue, but he said he didn’t find anything. He’s either lying – in which case why would he lie, if he hadn’t found something he wanted to hide – or he didn’t notice it at all, which means he was looking for something else entirely.”
“Hold on, hold on. He didn’t find anything wrong with the statue? Sherlock, I didn’t notice anything with the statue. And I know what you’re about to say, but I’d rather not be called an idiot today, thanks.”
“Isn’t it obvious—”
“No, Sherlock, it is not obvious. Could you just take me through it, please?”
“That statue’s several years old. Moss growing on it, discolouration, chipping. Ten, twenty years old at least. You’d imagine, at the base, there’d be long grass the lawnmowers can’t quite get to. That the weight of the stone would have pushed it into the soil so the base was slightly buried, especially after such a long time. But it was crushing grass underneath it; someone had just put it there.” Sherlock straightened up, steepling his fingers. “The question is, why was it moved?”
Terry sighed as he trudged across the cemetery. None of the statues showed any sign of being charmed to do the things the report had mentioned, which made him wonder if this was a complete waste of time. He’d been here two hours, going round all the statues, and was in dire need of a coffee and a raincoat. So much for exciting, suspicious disappearances. He wanted to get out of the Muggle world as soon as possible, preferably before anyone else tried asking him what he was doing. Miraculously, only that Sherlock Holmes had approached him so far, and Terry liked to think his performance had avoided suspicion. Now, however, a lot of the cops had left, and it would only be a matter of time before someone realised he wasn’t who he claimed to be.
He glanced back towards the cluster of Muggle cops, frowning when he recognised the distinctive, coat-clad figure of Sherlock Holmes in the distance. He thought he’d left, and, truth be told, something about the detective’s piercing gaze set his teeth on edge.
After seeing the detective stop to talk to one of the cops, Terry breathed a sigh of relief and turned back around.
Something was wrong.
He peered into the drizzle, trying to figure out what was different about the scene. Was it his imagination, or had one of the statues moved? He could have sworn one of them was much further away last time he checked – either that or he’d just been walking a lot quicker than he thought he had. He withdrew his wand from his sleeve, glancing behind him again to make sure none of the Muggles were close enough to see.
It had moved again. He was certain of it. Several metres closer, towards him. And it had only happened while his back was turned. Terry drew a shaky breath, willing his heart rate to slow down. It was just a charmed statue, he’d dealt with far worse before.
The spell didn’t seem to have any effect, but then again if it had been charmed only to move when someone’s back was turned, he wouldn’t notice the effects immediately.
Still, he had no desire to turn his back on it.
Oh, stop being a sissy, he told himself, blinking rain out of his eyelashes. It’s just a bloody statue.
When he looked up, it was even closer. Only a few feet away.
“Finite incantatem,” he repeated. “Finite…HELP!” he cried, panicked, as the statue’s face twisted into something grotesque, almost demonic.
He could hear footsteps now, far away footsteps running towards him. He had to Apparate, but that would involve turning around – he had no idea what would happen when the thing reached him and he had no desire to find out. Grasping his wand tightly, Terry gritted his teeth and turned on the spot, but the crack of Apparition never reached his ears, and the last thing he saw was the leering statue closing in on him.
A/N: My sincere apologies to those who were hoping to see the Doctor by now, but I promise he will be in the next chapter. Thanks to everyone who's reviewed so far, I've never had a story have such an amazing and positive reception. Please keep reviewing, it makes my day :)