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Chapter 11: A Hell of a Request
I took Dad to Anita Spiker's flat first, but as expected, no one answered. Dad looked around briefly to check the coast was clear and then pointed his wand at the door. It popped open immediately, and we slipped inside.
We spread out to look around. Dad was better at searching a place than I was, but it wasn't a large flat so it only took a moment to determine there was no one home. The few personal things I'd seen around the flat when we'd brought Gee back were now gone. There was a distinct air about the place of being abandoned.
“She's skipped town,” Dad said, poking through the bare kitchen cupboards. “Look at this place. No one's living here any more.”
“Yeah.” I tried to hide my disappointment. I'd known she was probably leaving town, but part of me had been hoping to find something here.
“All right then.” Dad flipped a cupboard door closed. “Let's go visit the bookie.”
Tanny Jack didn't look any happier to see us than he had to see Mimi. He recognized me immediately, let out a squawk, and once again made as if to run away. Dad, who is an experienced lawman and quick on the draw, cast a quick spell that slammed the trick door in Tanny Jack's face before he could escape.
“Ow!” he said, rubbing his nose where he'd bumped the wall. “What do you want? Haven't you caused me enough trouble already?”
Dad grinned at me. “I take it he knows you.”
“We want to ask you a few questions,” I told the bookie. He looked even more unhappy at that than the sight of us had left him.
“Why the hell should I tell you anything?” He shook his head and muttered rather loudly, “Freakin' bounty hunters, think they're cops or somethin', I tell ya...”
“This is my dad,” I said, gesturing. Dad waved to Tanny Jack. “He's an Auror.”
Tanny Jack groaned loudly. “First a bounty hunter, now an Auror? I'm gonna kill Mimi for bringing you people into my life, I dunno what that broad was thinkin-”
“We won't bother you for long,” I assured him. “Just a few questions.”
“Dammit,” said Tanny Jack, which I took for agreement and ploughed on.
“Do you know anything about a man named Heckie Shanahan?”
“Accountant. Laundered money for the Rock, does freelance work. Was up for trial but murdered day before yesterday. Never met him myself. He wasn't a gambling man, I guess.” Tanny Jack looked a little wary.
“And the Ellery family?” Dad asked. “Noah Ellery, Wyn Ellery, Greyson Ellery?”
“Murdered kid, crooked politician, straight as a ruler judge. The kid was killed to try to force old judge Stoneface to cooperate with the new ruling powers. Wyn, he's always cooperated of his own free will. Guy's a lowlife who grew up with a silver spoon in his mouth. If he'd been poor, he woulda been robbing liquor stores and selling drugs, but he's rich so he went into politics. Not a good person. Close personal friend of the Rock. Rumor is they worked together, but the Congressman's a slippery devil. No one's ever been able to prove anything with him.”
“And who are the new ruling powers?” I asked. “Anastasia Leatherby?”
“That'd be the one,” Tanny Jack said uneasily. “I don't want to get involved with all that though. I'm an independent businessman, you know? I keep it small, but I like to be my own boss. I got employees. People depend on me. I don't wanna be found out at the racetrack, okay?”
“Out at the racetrack?” I echoed.
He looked worried and said out the side of his mouth, “You know. Where they dump the bodies.”
“Mob hits,” Dad said, and Tanny Jack nodded.
“That Leatherby woman, she's taking over everything the Rock used to control when he was out. Some of his people had a few enterprises at first, but they're folding like a house of cards. She's stone cold ruthless. Kills anyone who gets in her way.”
Didn't I know it, too. Tanny Jack looked like he was genuinely scared, and Dad was rubbing his chin thoughtfully. I was picturing a racetrack with piles of bodies out the back.
“Everyone knows she's got some crooked cops on her payroll,” Tanny Jack went on. “Her guys, they don't get arrested, and when they do the cops drop the charges. I don't know how it is for you over there in England, but that ain't how this works here in America. Least it didn't used to be. She's got a territory and it's turning into a stranglehold. Just about any kind of illegal stuff going on down lower Manhattan, she's getting a cut. Drugs, weapons, paid violence. I lost a lot of customers to her bookies over in the wharfs. I'm trying to stay independent, but I might be moving to the outer boroughs to get my own piece again.”
It sounded like business as usual for Ambrosia. She'd tried a hostile takeover of an existing criminal organization back home, but had been unsuccessful and had to flee the country. This time around, Charles Rocke's imprisonment had made it easy for her. His organization had been left without a head, and she was there to step into his shoes.
I could tell from Dad's face that he had something on his mind still. Tanny Jack was more focused on Dad at this point. Probably because he had a badge and I didn't. Must be nice.
“Tell us some more about Heckie Shanahan,” Dad said.
It was amazing, his voice was quite mild, and he didn't look threatening, just standing there with his Auror face on, but Tanny Jack responded like he'd had his heels burned with a brand. I needed to learn to do that.
“He used to run numbers for the Rock, and when the Rock went up the river, old Heckie needed a new client. He always liked his money, so he looked for the biggest game in town. At the time, that wasn't so obvious, so he was working for a couple people. Then when this Leatherby broad started taking over the rackets all over the place, Heckie made sure he was a part of all that. Wanted his slice of the pie. I think he wished he'd retired to Florida when he realized she'd kill him as soon as look at him. The Rock wasn't like that. He was a proper crook. Wouldn't think of stabbing you in the back. It was all a straight Killing Curse to the temple with him. Stand-up guy.”
“Nice,” I said.
“Yeah, but Leatherby, she's not like the usual run of bosses. She's like a shark. Like...” Tanny Jack thought for a moment. “Like a Wall Street type. No conscience. Not like the old kind of mobsters.”
“Hmm.” Dad was rubbing his chin again. I gave him a moment, expecting him to have more questions, but instead he held out a hand to Tanny Jack, who looked surprised for a moment, then uncertainly reached out to shake Dad's hand. “Thanks for your help. We appreciate your cooperation.”
We went outside and walked slowly down the street. Dad was still deep in thought, his eyes fixed unseeingly on the pavement. I had to grab him to stop him walking into a light pole.
By the time we reached the end of the block, Dad appeared to have come to a conclusion. He stopped at the corner.
“It's all hearsay and rumors so far,” he told me. “We need to go to a source, an actual witness. Original knowledge. Heckie is dead, it looks like Anita's left town, and there's no evidence of wrongdoing on the part of the judge. Your mum and I don't have the political clout here to lean on him, and we don't have anything specific yet to take to him that might get him to talk of his own volition. And the only one found alive at the pier to take into custody was you.”
None of that sounded very good, especially the bit about me being the last one standing at the pier. My stomach started roiling. “So what do we do?”
“We need to talk to Charles Rocke.”
My mouth dropped open. “Dad, he's... he's serving a life sentence in Montain. It's like Azkaban. We can't just go there.”
“I've been to Azkaban in the course of my duties,” Dad said.
“Yeah, but this isn't like that,” I pointed out. “We're not at home. You haven't any jurisdiction here. We can't just go to Montain.”
“So let's get some jurisdiction. Come on, we're going to the Auror office.”
Feeling slightly exasperated, I followed Dad up the stairs to the office of the young Auror we'd spoken to at my arrest. Hitchcock, or Hatchcock, something like that. Rather to my surprise, he'd been willing to meet with us as soon as Dad asked. Dad didn't seem surprised. Probably he was used to people jumping at the chance to confer with him. Mostly they avoided me.
Hatchcock had a very small office with only one very small window. It did not have a view: all I could see was the brick facade of the building next door, across a narrow alley. He was obviously new in town if not at the job, because there was hardly anything personal in there, and a few boxes were stacked in one corner. I had practically grown up in the Auror Department back home. This wasn't the usual way their offices looked.
After greetings were exchanged, he invited us to sit, and Dad leaned back in the chair as if he were making himself at home. It was almost as if Dad were interviewing Hitchcock in his own office.
“I apologize if Agent Bleach offended you,” Hatchcock said. “He's a little singleminded sometimes.”
I thought Bleach was a big fat jerk, and Jessup too. Singlemindedly.
“He was just doing his job,” Dad said magnanimously. “Commendable, really.”
Easy for him to say, he wasn't the one who'd sat in a cell overnight.
“Hatchcock, was it?” Dad said then, and honestly, the man simply lit up.
“Yes, sir. Not a lot of people get the name right.”
Dad smiled, as if it were the most obvious thing in the world. “When your name is unusual, you notice other people's unusual names. Weasley isn't a common surname.”
I had gone to school with eleven other Weasleys. I had piles of relatives. There were so many Weasleys I couldn't even keep track of them all. Gran had an encyclopedic memory for them, and would point out third cousins twice removed at large family gatherings or if we happened across one in Diagon Alley, or tell a story about a distant Weasley relative who died fifty years ago as if we ought to know who they were. But sure, we had an unusual name.
Okay, so I knew what he was doing, and even managed not to roll my eyes at his attempts to ingratiate himself with Hatchcock. He wanted that interview with Charles Rocke. And to be honest, he was really good at this. The guy was warming up to Dad faster than a kettle on the boil.
“What can I do for you, sir?”
Dad leaned forward in his chair, giving Hatchcock a man-to-man look. Man, Dad was good at this. “Well, I need to speak with someone, and it's going to be a difficult request. I was hoping you could make it happen for me. Charles Rocke.”
Hatchcock's eyes widened. “That's a hell of a request.”
“I know.” Dad nodded.
Hatchcock looked apologetic now. “Sir, it's very difficult to get visitors at Montain. Normally only law enforcement and legal services see the prisoners. Even family has to have a judge's approval for the maximum security cells.”
“And Charles Rocke is in maximum security.”
“He was the biggest crime boss in the city.” Hatchcock ran a hand through his hair. “Why do you want to speak with Charles Rocke?”
“I think he can give us information on what's really happening with the case my daughter has been working. Anastasia Leatherby's activities. We believe Charles Rocke knows who's working with her.”
Neither of them looked at me, or mentioned my arrest. It was strangely fascinating watching Dad interact with an Auror who was neither one of his underlings nor my uncle Harry. It sort of reminded me a bit of how he talked to my brother Hugo and a bit of how he talked to my uncle George. I didn't really remember the days when my dad wasn't one of the top Aurors in the department, so I wasn't sure if he'd always been this good at getting to people, or if it was something he'd learned.
Maybe I could learn it too. Seemed like it would come in useful.
After a few minutes' silence, Hatchcock said, “I'll see what I can do. I can't promise anything, though.”
“Thank you.” Dad held out a hand, and they shook on it.
Once we were out on the street again, Dad started to smile.
“We're going to get that interview,” he told me.
My heart jumped a bit. Was I going to get to see the inside of Montain after all? “How do you know? Hatchcock said it was hard to get into Montain.”
“Because he wants to talk to Charles Rocke as much as we do. I could see it in his face when I mentioned Ambrosia's new alias.” Dad reached out to ruffle my hair. “You were awfully quiet in there.”
“Seemed best to just let you get on with it. Auror to Auror.”
“He's young. He responds well to a superior officer treating him like an equal instead of a rookie, like damn near every other young Auror or MLE. I get the feeling he hasn't been here long, isn't used to having friendly conversations with the locals. Reminds me of the Internal Affairs sorts when you're nice to them.” Dad sighed. “He seems like a decent kid, though. Hopefully he won't get in trouble for us. Come on, we'd better get back and do some sightseeing with your mum while we wait to hear back. Otherwise she's going to strangle me in my sleep for helping you track down criminals instead of telling you to let it go.”
“I don't like letting things go,” I admitted.
“Neither do I,” said Dad.
Mum was not happy with us when we got back. Dad took it with aplomb, because he's known Mum for over forty years and is quite used to her not being happy with him for various reasons. Despite being a grown-up and a mum myself, I still didn't like my mum being annoyed with me. I was used to it, since my life choices had annoyed her for years, but I didn't like it. This was why I usually didn't tell her what I was doing.
Scorpius was also not happy. In fact, the only person who seemed happy to see us was Ramses, who clapped his hands and yelled, “Mama!” It was immediately obvious that he was actually addressing my dad.
“Can you say Granddad?” Dad cooed at him, tickling Ramses under his chin. Ramses immediately lunged at him, practically leaping out of Scorpius's arms in a kamikaze bid for the freedom of his grandfather. Dad scooped him up and pulled a sweet from his pocket. Ramses left a big slobbering kiss on Dad's face and then gobbled up the sweet.
“Ron, you don't need to give him those every time you see him,” Mum said severely.
“He loves them. Don't you?” Dad asked him. Ramses only blinked at them both, the sweet still making his cheek bulge.
Scorpius sighed and got a cloth to clean the sticky drool from the baby's chin.
“We thought we'd come back and do some sightseeing,” I told Mum with the most cheerful voice I could manage. “Spend some family time. There's a ferry to the Muggle statue in the river, we can go visit it. You know how Ramses loves boats.”
“Are you stuck in your case?” she asked.
“Until we hear back from the Aurors, yeah,” Dad said. He'd put in a quick Floo downstairs to Uncle Harry, who was going to look into the Russian for us. Dad had decided it was best if Mum didn't know we were involving Uncle Harry.
“Does this mean we can finally go and see a musical?” Scorpius asked as he emerged from the bathroom. He mopped up Ramses' face, and Ramses screeched at him. “Shh, it doesn't hurt. Rose, you promised we'd go and see a Broadway show.”
“I know.” It was already afternoon, so it seemed unlikely that we would get to visit Charles Rocke today, even if Hatchcock was able to arrange the visit. There wasn't really anything else to do to chase down leads, so I reckoned I might as well placate my boyfriend. Erm, that is, spend some time with him.
“I wouldn't mind seeing a show,” Mum put in.
“What kind of shows are these?” Dad asked suspiciously. My father was not a fan of musical theatre, or any other kind of theatre, really. He quite liked Muggle action films, though.
“I heard 'The King and I' is playing,” Scorpius said to Mum.
She smiled like a teenager on her first date. “Oh, I love that one. The songs are just beautiful, and it's very romantic. And based on a true story, you know.”
Dad groaned. “Are you punishing me, Hermione? A musical?”
Mum frowned at him, and Dad let out a loud sigh.
“Can we at least get dinner first?”
We spent the rest of the afternoon wandering around the Statue of Liberty (again, though actually I didn't mind the repeat visit). I pointed out Montain to Dad while Mum was distracted taking photographs of Ramses.
He gave it a long, assessing glance, and then muttered to me, “Reminds me of Azkaban.”
Mum gave us a long lecture about the statue, about which she knew rather more than I'd expected. Apparently it was designed by the same Muggle who built the Eiffel Tower. Honestly, the irrelevant information she retained never failed to amaze me. When I was a little girl, I'd thought that Mum knew everything. Now I knew she only knew about eighty-five percent of everything. Possibly ninety percent.
Scorpius pulled out his sketchbook and dashed off a lovely view of Mum holding Ramses, which was lucky because I hadn't found anything to give her for her birthday yet. I'd just convince Scorpius to make it a painting when we got home, and we'd be set. Dad strolled around with his hands in his pockets and pretended to listen to Mum while shooting glances at Montain off in the distance whenever she wasn't looking at him. He also managed to sneak two more sweets to Ramses.
After the statue, Mum and Scorpius dragged us off to see the wizarding memorial at the World Trade Center, and then some other historical site that Mum wanted to see. Dad managed to sneak off to a pub across the street at this last stop, and Scorpius was dispatched to go fetch him back because Mum said she didn't trust me not to join Dad.
By the time we picked up our tickets to the evening's show (Dad grumbled heavily about the price, but picked up the tab for all of us anyway), everyone was tired and hungry. Mum graciously allowed pints for Dad and I in the restaurant we stopped at for dinner.
Ramses fell asleep while we were getting our seats, and slept through the entire show. I had to take him out of Dad's arms and settle him on my own lap when Dad dropped off as well.