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They All Fall Down by WitnesstoitAll
Format: Short story
Chapter 1: I. Murder the Second
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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 He knew that watches of the sort were terribly outdated, but he found the tradition oddly comforting.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.
Chapter 2: II. Murder the Second (Revisited)
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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...
Chapter 3: III. Murder the Third
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Disclaimer: Nothing that you recognise here is mine. There is another vague description of murder in this chapter. Do not read if this offends or bothers you. Thank you to all you lovely people reading this.
Teddy knocked his knuckles quietly against the dingy flat door. The sound reverberated throughout the dimly lit corridor. He hated this building and hated waiting even more. Impatience overpowering any social propriety, he slowly jiggled the handle. It was unlocked.
The kitchen was a disaster. The sink was full of dirty dishes, and piles of unopened mail sat on the small table. Teddy sighed in amusement. The disorder was a warm and reassuring refuge, a guarantee that he would not find any stress-induced chromatic organisation within the flat. The sound of a dated rock tune wafted out of the sitting room. Teddy peeked around the corner; his face split into a warm smile.
Roxanne Weasley sat with her legs curled under her on the faded sofa. Her chin rested on her chest, which rose and fell peacefully. Photographs and sheets of parchment were laying haphazardly over her lap and adjacent cushion. A bright, golden-yellow quill was poised between her slack fingers.
“You can’t save the world when you’re napping, chief.” Teddy leaned over the back of the sofa, and wrapping his arms around Roxanne’s upper body, planted a gentle kiss on the top of her head.
“Mmm,” She lifted her chin and slowly blinked the sleep from her eyes. “Teddy?” She wriggled out of his arms and turned to face him. “Merlin, what time is it? I didn’t think I was sleeping for that long. Just nodded off.”
“It’s not even lunch time yet.” Teddy walked around and sat on the arm of the sofa. “Harry sent James and I home early, since we’ve been putting in so many hours this past week.”
“Uncle Harry is a smart man.” She grinned up at Teddy and nestled under his arm. “He doesn’t want his two best Aurors burning out before this investigation gets off the ground.”
Teddy laughed and pulled Roxanne closer to his body. “Don’t flatter us, Rox. It’ll go straight to our swollen heads. Harry sent the two of us home so that he didn’t have to open a new double murder investigation in the department.” She rolled her eyes and slapped his knee playfully.
“The two of you may fight like children, but you’d never actually hurt one another. You’re both just a bit hot headed, both damn good Aurors though.” She leaned up towards his face and ran a finger along his jaw line.
Teddy felt the tingle of electricity that he had come to associate with Roxanne race through his body. It had been over three years since she had first grazed her lips over his and held him close to her, but her touch still felt as though it were a novelty.
A buzzing void filled his head, and he did what came so naturally with Roxanne. His lips crashed against hers in a frenzy of need and frustration. She greeted his kisses eagerly and leaned back against the sofa under his practised guidance. The photographs and scraps of parchment that were on her lap fluttered to the floor; the case forgotten in the moment.
Needy frustration ignited into a desperate passion, which burned quickly leaving only warm and comforting embers in its wake. Teddy’s eyes were closed; his face peacefully relaxed in a much needed slumber. Roxanne sighed and rolled away from his bare chest. The clock on the wall was chiming three o’clock. She had given far too much time to Teddy; she had case files to review.
Teddy snored lightly and buried his head further into the sofa cushion.
“–Teddy, you need to wake up. I really should be doing my work, and you’re warm and distracting, not to mention taking up the entire sofa.” She shoved him playfully. His eyes remained clamped shut, but his lips turned up into a grin. Roxanne giggled. “Come on, Ted. Wake up.”
Teddy sat up slowly and rubbed the sleep from his eyes. A smile stretched across his face as he watched her. She finished fastening the buttons of her robe and bent down to gather her scattered copies of the crime scene photographs and notes.
“I really should have been revising these cases.” Roxanne’s voice was light and playful. “You really are a terrible influence, Teddy. Distracting a ministry official like that.”
Teddy laughed. “Then the ministry better stop hiring such attractive Aurors.” He rose to his feet and stepped over the case files on the floor. “But I won’t be distracting you anymore. I need to be going, so I can avoid the wrath of the wife. Who knows, maybe I’ll even get to see my son before she puts him down to bed.”
Roxanne’s heart fell in her chest, but she remained quiet and continued gathering her documents from the rug.
“I swear – Victoire would put John to bed at ten in the morning if it meant she could remind me of what a bad father I am.” Teddy pulled his grey robe over his head and slipped his shoes onto his feet. “And if it’s not my horrible parenting, it’s something else. I come home too late. I care about my job more than my family. I’m moody. I don’t give her enough attention.” Teddy’s voice rose with each of his wife’s complaints. He kicked the table leg in frustration. “Bloody Merlin, a bloke can only take so much. It’s been three years. Three years, Roxanne.” He was shouting now.
“Trust me, Teddy,” Roxanne’s voice was soft. She struggled to keep it from trembling, “I know exactly how long it’s been.” She looked up stared at Teddy’s face. “Every night for the last three years, you’ve left my bed for hers. Don’t think for a minute that you’re the only bloody one who’s inconvenienced.”
“If you resent me going home to my wife at night, you sure have a funny way of showing it.” A little fleck of spit flew through his clenched teeth. “When we found out that Victoire was pregnant, you were all for me marrying her. You’re the first one to remind me of my responsibilities to her, so don’t you go and act like the injured party here.”
It was Roxanne’s turn to yell now.
“I remind you of your responsibilities to Victoire because I pity her. And of course I supported your decision to marry Victoire.” Her eyes flashed dangerously. “You had been dating her for months, she’s part of the family, and she was pregnant with your son. No one even knew we were sleeping together.” She inhaled sharply and lowered her voice. “If you hadn’t married her, I’d have become the black sheep of the family; no one would have forgiven me, ever. And I’m sorry if it pisses you off, but I had to put myself first.”
“Well, then don’t bloody act like the victim, Roxanne.” Teddy’s words felt like ice on her ears. “You have no idea how hard it is to listen to all of Victoire’s complaints and the little comments under her breath, how hard it is to lie next to her at night and only feel contempt at her for ruining my life. She ruined my life. I never wanted to marry her. I didn’t want a suburban house with a manicured lawn. Hell, sometimes I don’t even know if I want John. You can’t even begin to understand, Roxanne, so stop trying.”
“Then leave her.” Roxanne’s words caught him off guard.
“I said, then leave her.” Teddy stared at Roxanne’s face. It was completely serious. “If she makes you so miserable, and is so horrible to you, leave her.”
“And make us both outcasts from the family?” The scepticism in his voice irritated her.
“You don’t have to leave her for me.” Roxanne hissed. “We can keep us a secret. No one has to know, and you could actually be happy for once.”
“You’re so fucking naïve, Rox.” Teddy bent down and grabbed the case file that she had been gathering from her hands and set it on the table. He took her hands in his own. “I won’t leave her, I can’t. I’d never see John again, and even though he’s not convenient, he’s my son. I love him. And you’re the one that said you’d have been the black sheep of the family, well, this is my family too. You can take me or leave me, but I won’t leave her.” He smiled. He knew that Roxanne would continue to open her door to him. “I’m the good guy, remember?”
Roxanne’s face was blank as Teddy stood up and left her flat. He was a good guy. He had given up so much for John, and she knew that he loved her. Her cousin was the problem. She picked the case file back up and resumed her seat on the sofa. She flipped the file open.
James opened his eyes as he felt his feet hit the ground. The neatly manicured lawn of the Lupin residence stretched out in front of him. Bright blossoms accented the symmetrical gardens. This house was Victoire’s dream home. He smiled and began walking up the lane to the front door.
The door cracked open before James could lift his hand to knock. Victoire must have been waiting for him. He smiled, received his cousin’s brief hug, and walked inside. John stood in the hallway smiling. His curly blonde hair stood up at every odd angle and he wore only trousers.
“Jamesie,” John ran over to James and threw his arms around his legs.
“He wanted to see you before I put him down for his nap.” Victoire smiled at her cousin and swung the toddler onto her hip. “But now, it’s time for you to take a nap, my little one.” She pressed a kiss to the top of John’s head. “I’ll be right back, James. You can help yourself to some tea. It’s all set up in the kitchen.”
James made his way into the kitchen. He picked up a mug and filled it with steaming tea. He much preferred coffee, but couldn’t pass on his oldest cousin’s hospitality. He pulled out a chair and sat down. The sound of Victoire singing softly wafted down the stairs and brought a smile to James’ face. He imagined Kara’s voice singing over a tiny cot.
“Thank you for coming here, James.” Victoire’s voice pulled him from his thoughts. “It really means a lot to me, and to John.”
James remained quiet. He took a sip from his tea and studied her face, waiting for her to continue.
“I know that Teddy is your partner, and I don’t want to come between the two of you, but,” James groaned inwardly. She had arrived at the topic she had brought him here to talk about. She did not notice James’ reluctance, and continued her well-practised speech, “but I just needed to talk to somebody that is close to him.”
“Victoire, what is this about?” He bought himself time to muster up a proper reaction to whatever Victoire was about to say.
“Is Teddy cheating on me?” Victoire’s voice was barely a whisper. “Everyone knows that he spent that night in that inn with Roxanne last year, and I trusted him. I trusted that it was necessary for the case they were working, but now I need to know the truth. Is he sleeping with her?”
“Victoire, Teddy is my partner, not my best mate.” James set his mug onto the table. “I don’t know what he does in his limited free time. Have you talked to him about this?”
“He hasn’t said a decent word to me in two weeks.” Victoire’s hand trembled as she poured herself a cup of tea. “He’s been distracted and late every night. He’s been moody and temperamental. Hasn’t even seen John when he isn’t asleep.”
“Vic, in case you haven’t noticed, we’ve been a bit busy at the office.” He couldn’t help the hint of contempt that laced his voice. “Teddy thinks that we have a serial killer on our hands, I’m sure he’s just been tired and distracted.”
“Don’t give me that, James.” Victoire’s voice shook. “Your office is always busy. This is different. I’m his wife. I can tell if something is different with him. He has never treated me like this. Now I want to know. Is he cheating on me?”
“Yes, Victoire, you are his wife,” James shouted, abandoning his attempt to control his temper, “you are his wife, but I haven’t the faintest idea if Teddy is cheating on you. What I do know is that Teddy is tired. He’s tired of your complaints. He’s tired of your questions. He’s tired of your accusations.” He forced himself to ignore the hurt look on her face. He had to finish. “You’re his wife – Teddy is working the potentially biggest case of his career. He needs your support, but all he gets is your criticism. He’s given up a lot for you and John. Teddy is a good guy.”
“He is cheating on me.” Victoire’s words were an admittance of defeat.
James laughed sardonically, “You haven’t heard a damn word I said, have you?” He shook his head and stood up from the table. “If you don’t want to hear what I have to say, why’d you waste my time to invite me here?”
Victoire stared back at him.
“Victoire, I’m leaving. Kara is waiting for me at home. You better straighten this out; it’s not fair to the case for my partner to be distracted by this drama.” James left the kitchen and let himself out the front door.
He inhaled deeply. He needed to regain his composure before Disapparating, before he did something he'd regret.
A hooded figure stands behind the recently manicured shrubbery, eyes trained on the front window. A young woman paces back and forth behind the glass. She wrings her hands and nervously toys with her blonde hair; she is upset.
The hooded figure smiles. Rage courses through the wand in the cloak pocket. It is now or never.
The figure walks briskly up the lane. It is a surprise that that the door is unlocked. A turn of the knob and it swings open silently. The house smells of tea and fresh laundry. The sound of the woman’s distressed pacing demands the figure’s attention. The figure enters the sitting room and pulls the all-too ready wand from its pocket.
The woman turns suddenly and sees the figure. Her eyes are wide. Shock and surprise are fabulous emotions.
The woman’s lips mouths words that she cannot find a voice to say.
The figure raises the wand. A violent swish. Two violent flicks. The woman opens her mouth to scream as she falls to the carpeted floor. The figure casts a silencing charm before the woman can find her voice. Her screams could have ruined everything, and there is no room for foolish mistakes.
The figure smiles.
This had not been a part of the original plan, but a little spontaneity had never hurt anyone. A euphoric feeling floods the figure’s body. The job is complete. The figure turns on the spot and leaves the scene, knowing too well that the Aurors would soon be on the scene.
A/N: Well, there you have it. Dun, dun, dunnnnnn... The murderer strikes again. Now the question is who dunit? I'm not telling. You'll have to keep reading to find out. Now, onto a more serious note, what do you think of Roxanne/Teddy? I found it a bit difficult to write them together, and I hope that it worked out. Thank you for reading this. I'd love to hear what you thought. I'm currently working on Julno, but the next update should be relatively soon. Thanks again!
Chapter 4: IV. Murder the Fourth
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Disclaimer: As with past chapters, this chapter vaguely depict a murder, and contains references to an on-going investigation.
James shifted his weight from his right foot to his left foot and pushed his glasses up his sweaty nose. His mouth was dry. He swallowed roughly despite his throat’s heady protests. The world around him seemed to be moving in slow motion.
Victoire was dead; she had been murdered.
Her body had been found her sitting room not even an hour earlier by her aggrieved husband, now widower. Teddy was still in shock.
James looked over to where Teddy sat. His face was pale and his grey eyes were wide and listless. He repeatedly ran his left hand through his hair, which now stuck up at various angles. John was hugged tightly in his right arm; his small blond head rested over his shoulder. James shook his head. If there was any good in this situation, it was John’s childhood innocence. The horror of the scene would not be remembered.
Law Enforcement officers swarmed the lawn, taking orders from the handful of Aurors that dotted the property. The Aurors spoke privately to one another in hushed voices, as though their volume coincided with increased levels of reality. From what James had heard, they were afraid that their department would be crippled from the inside out. They worried that he, Roxanne, Teddy, and Ron would be unable to keep an impartial mind in the forthcoming investigation and that Harry would not be able to continue running the department.
James drew a deep, rattling breath into his lungs. His cousin had been murdered. Victoire was dead. He’d be damned if he was going to allow his entire family be set aside as the victims. He was an Auror, a hand of the law that was not happy to sit idle. He needed to know what was happening with the investigation. Blowing the breath out of his stiff lungs, James spotted his father in a huddle of Aurors.
“Dad,” James said, approaching the group of Aurors clustered around Harry. The Head Auror’s face was drawn and his eyes were blood shot. “Dad, what’s happened? Do we know anything? Whose case is this?”
“Jones is heading up the investigation.” Harry’s voice was distant, and he did not make eye contact with his oldest son.
“Jones?” James ignored the senior Auror’s look of indignation at his question. “But he’s already been assigned to a case. That first Death Eater that was found in an alley.”
“You know that we’re dealing with a serial killer, don’t you?” James jumped at the sound of Teddy’s voice behind him and turned to look for its source. Teddy continued speaking. “I saw the body, Sectumsempra, just like the others.”
“Teddy –” James’ voice was sharp. “– your wife has been murdered, and you’re still concerned with whether or not there is a serial killer loose in London. How exactly do you explain the connection between two Death Eaters and Victoire? Just give it up already, Ted. There is no serial killer.”
James felt a hand on his shoulder, and knew that his father was right behind him.
“James.” Harry’s voice was low. “Teddy’s right. I do think that we are dealing with a serial killer. And given what’s happened here, I’m pulling you and Ted off of the McNair case. Jones is going to oversee the investigation for all three victims, though it seems that the old Alchemist is our only lead at the moment.”
“You’re pulling me off of the case?” Teddy set John down onto the grass. His eyes welled up and his voice cracked. “Damn it, Harry. I’ve lost Victoire already and now my case too? You can’t do this to me.”
“Teddy.” James patted his shoulder. “Come on, mate. You have to hold it together for John’s sake. Let’s take a walk.”
Teddy hoisted John back up into his arms and eyed James appreciatively. “Thanks James, but I think I need to be alone with my son for a moment.” He turned his back on the cluster of Aurors and walked away.
“James,” Harry said. His voice was soothing to James’ ears. “I’m sorry about pulling you from the case, son, but I knew you’d understand.” James shrugged. “Now before I leave to talk to Bill and Fleur, I have to ask you a question. What time exactly did you leave Victoire alone this morning?”
James eyes flew up to meet Harry’s. “You can’t be serious.” He half expected to see a jovial smile plastered over his father’s face.
“I certainly hope that you have an answer for that, James. The other Aurors will ask you the same thing. Now why don’t you go home? We can’t have you lingering around here or have family members contaminating the evidence.”
Home sounded like a beautiful idea. James gave his father a reassuring nod. He couldn’t help but feel guilty as the taste of the tea Victoire had made him resurfaced in his numb mouth.
Kara paced back and forth across the flat’s tiny kitchen. A crumpled piece of parchment was clutched tightly in her hand. Tears welled up under her eyelids and slowly trickled out, leaving wet streaks on her freckled cheeks. In the eight years she had been dating James Potter, she had never personally received a letter from his father.
Under any other circumstance she would have studied the envelope, nostalgically noting the similarities between the father and son’s untidy scrawl, but this was not any other circumstance. Victoire was dead; she was violently murdered in her sitting room. James had been the last person to see her alive, and had avoided his father’s questioning on the matter.
Kara choked back a sob that threatened to erupt from her body. Surely Harry had just mentioned James’ lack of alibi in casual passing and didn’t actually consider his eldest son a suspect in the murder investigation of his niece. Surely Harry just wanted Kara to be aware of the situation so that she could make sure James was alright when he got home. She took a deep, rattling breath in an attempt to calm herself.
The sound of the flat door opening in the sitting room made Kara jump. She chided herself as James walked into the kitchen and forced herself to smile across the kitchen at him before turning to stir the pot boiling on the stove top.
James could feel the unsettled air in the room. Kara had probably heard about Victoire’s murder. He sighed and walked behind her at the stove, gently rubbing her tense shoulders.
“I’m guessing you’ve heard, then?” James practically whispered. The atmosphere of the room felt as though it would shatter if he spoke too loudly.
She turned to face him. “Were you really the last person to see her alive?” Her voice mirrored James’ in volume. “What did you do when you left there? Merlin, James. Didn’t you think it might be important to answer your dad when he asked you these questions earlier?”
The accusation in Kara’s words stung, as did the fact that his father had written her.
“Kara, come on. You can’t possibly doubt that I had nothing to do with this. I left Victoire’s and went to London. I was checking out the Apothecary. Thinking of going and talking to the suspect on my own, see if I could make any progress with him.”
“But no one can really know that for sure, can they?” Her lips quivered and a tear ran down her cheek.
“No, I guess they can’t.” James stared into Kara’s eyes and planted a firm kiss on her cheek. “Don’t you worry, though. Jones will figure out who did this to her. You watch. He’s the best.”
“You’ll be a suspect, then?” The words felt blasphemous on her lips. “Is that why you got pulled from the case?”
“Of course I’m not a suspect.” James couldn’t help the air of irritation that slipped into his voice. “My dad thinks that we are dealing with a serial killer. He thinks that Victoire’s murder is related. I got pulled from my case because Victoire is family. Jones is overseeing the investigation of all three related murders now.”
Kara’s heart fell in her chest. “James, do they know that you were covered in blood the night McNair was murdered?”
“Kara, I told you. I was dueling Jones and got cut.” He walked away from her and took his seat at the table. “It isn’t relevant to the case. If I was a suspect, my dad wouldn’t have sent me home to you. Love, let’s just eat our dinner and leave the crime solving to the Aurors, eh?”
“You’re right,” she kissed the top of his messy, dark red hair. “I love you. Are you going to be home this evening?” She took her seat at the table.
James frowned. He knew that he had promised to stay home with her tonight, but he had already made plans to meet the apothecist. “We’ll see, love.”
Roxanne sat on the sofa. A large album sat open in her lap. Pictures of the Weasley cousins littered the pages. Birthday parties, Christmases, summer gatherings by the shore at shell cottage, and casual quidditch matches at the burrow stared back at her from her captured memories. In the centre of most of the photographs was her oldest, beautiful blonde cousin whose body now lay lifeless in the ministry’s morgue. Sobs choked through Roxanne’s body. She loved Victoire’s husband, and for that, she was guilty. She slammed the album shut and stared up at the ceiling.
A soft rapping at the door pulled her from her grief. She stood up from the sofa and haphazardly wiped the tears from her face before answering the door. A stone faced, red-eyed Teddy stood in the corridor. A sleeping toddler was clutched in his arms.
“I didn’t know where to go, Roxy.” Teddy’s voice was distant. “I just, didn’t know what to do. Harry told me I couldn’t be at the house while the investigation was going on.”
Roxanne stretched her arm around both Teddy and John. She couldn’t imagine what they were going through. Pulling back from them, she took John from Teddy’s arms and took him to her bedroom. She tucked him into the bed and laid a sympathetic kiss on the little boy’s head before returning to Teddy in the Kitchen.
“Teddy.” Roxanne paused in the doorway. He was standing where she had left him. His arms hung limply at his sides and he stared unwaveringly at the floor. “Teddy,” she repeated a bit louder.
“I heard you the first time, Roxanne.” Teddy voice was distant, his eyes still fixated on the floor. “I really don’t want to talk right now. Let’s just sit.”
“Sure, Teddy.” she reached and grabbed his hand, leading him from the kitchen to the sitting room.
Together they sat on the sofa in silence. Roxanne’s eyes monitored his drawn face. He stared straight forward, at nothing in particular. The clock about the crooked, ragtag bookshelf ticked away the time. The sound was an obtrusive intrusion on the uncomfortable silence that had filled the room. Sunlight that had been streaming in the window when they had first sat down had faded, only to be replaced by the dim light of dusk.
“I got pulled from my murder investigation.” His voice startled her, and she had to blink her eyes to be sure that she hadn’t imagined it. “Damn it. I got pulled from the fucking investigation. How could Harry do that to me?” His voice echoed in the room.
Roxanne could not find anything to say, and stared back quietly at her screaming lover.
“He knew damn well that the idea of the murders being related was my idea. It should be me investigating the serial killer. John’s mother is dead. And now Jones is on the bloody case.” He had jumped to his feet and was pacing the compact room.
“Teddy, I, er –” words swam in her head, but refused to make their way to her mouth. She needed to say something. “Jones is a fantastic Auror. He’ll catch whoever did this to Victoire.”
“Aye. He’s bloody fantastic. I’m sure he will.” Teddy sauntered back to the sofa and sat down. “I’m sorry for yelling, Roxy. It’s been a hell of a day.” He pressed a firm kiss to her cheek.
“I know, babe.” She turned her head and planted a gentle, chaste kiss on his lips. “You can stay here as long as you need to. Why don’t you try to rest a little? I need to pop over to Fred and Dom’s flat. Make sure that they’re both doing alright. I’m stopping at the apothecary on the way there to pick up a few things, do you need anything?” She picked up her hand bag and walked into the kitchen.
“Roxy, you’re amazing. Do you know?” Teddy rose to his feet, smiling weakly after the dark skinned woman. “I don’t need anything, but I think I’m going to take a walk while John’s sleeping. Just need clear my head. I’ll be sure to lock up when I leave.”
The smell of sulphur and other light metals pervades the air. A darkly hooded figure’s nose recoils in disgust. The thought of potions brewing brings nothing but the taste of bad memories to the figure’s mouth. The interior of the cramped shop is dark, allowing the figure to blend into the near silent night.
The dark figure knows that the target is not in the shop. No, it is much too late for the old man to be here. By this hour, he is likely to be upstairs, tucked securely into his bed. Unless of course he was outside, ruining somebody else’s near-perfectly executed murder like he seemed apt to do. A witness is much too large of a liability, especially now that the Auror department was keen to the existence of a serial killer. Being apprehended now, only three, soon to be four murders deep, was out of the question.
Given the appropriate time and another handful of victims, and notoriety will be attained. The dark figure smiles and turns towards the stairwell to the flat above the shop.
From outside on the street, nothing implies that a serial killer is in the process of murdering a fourth victim. A brief flash of red light shines out the Apothecary’s upstairs windows for a bare second. Then, everything is again dark. The only difference is the swelling of pride in the dark figure’s chest and the Apothecary, dying in his bed.
James pulled his hood down from his head and fished in his pocket for his pocket watch. It was time. He knocked on the shop door, granting himself entrance when nobody answered. As expected, the interior of the Apothecary was dark.
He cautiously made his way through the shop to the stairs that lead to the Apothecist’s flat above the shop. The fifth stair groaned in protest, and he jumped at the sound. His heart beat loudly in his chest. At the top of the stairs, the flat door stood ajar. James smiled; his guest had left the door open for him. He slipped in the front door and froze.
The apothecist lay in the narrow, rickety bed in the corner of the minute flat. His torso and face was slashed, and the sheets were soaked with fresh blood.
James closed his eyes. His witness was dead.
When he opened his eyes, he looked over the scene in front of him. The taste of bile filed his mouth, and he doubled over at the waste. The remnants of Kara’s dinner heaved up from James’ stomach and onto the apothecary’s Oriental rug. He knew that he needed to get out of this victim’s flat; he needed to go somewhere and process all of this.
James’ mouth pulled up into a half smile. He knew exactly where he should go to clear his mind, but first he needed to call in this victim.
He pulled a gold coin from his pocket and tapped it with his wand.
“Teddy, Teddy,” James called out into the coin. “Teddy, we have another body.” He slipped the coin back into his pocket and Disapparated from the scene.
A/N: So I've had this chapter written for a long while, and it's been so hard not posting it right away. But now it is posted. Tadah! Only two chapters left... As always, thank you for reading this. I'd love to hear what you have to say about it.
Chapter 5: V. Murder the Fifth (Almost)
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Disclaimer: Anything you recognise is not mine. A big thank you to all the lovely people at TGS for motivating me to finish this chapter and to Melanie (ronsgirlfriday) for reading this over for me. Enjoy!
The small card table shoved in the corner of the cramped kitchen was burdened under the weight of three sets of elbows and at least as many alcoholic beverages. The kitchen lamp flickered, threatening to plunge the room into darkness. The only sound in the air was the occasional tinkle of ice against the glass.
Roxanne washed the bubble of guilt that had been growing in her throat since looking at her brother’s flatmate with a hearty swig of firewhiskey. She barely recoiled as the liquid seared its way down her throat. Victoire was dead, and her murdered cousin’s husband would be crawling into her bed later that night.
Fred’s eyes flitted back and forth from his younger sister to his flatmate and best friend. He helped himself to another beer as he studied their behaviours. Immersing himself in their grief helped him to ignore his own, a trick that every therapist learned very early in their career. His sister looked unsettled, nervous almost. She couldn’t hold her attention nor sit still. She refused to look up across the table at either of her companions. His flatmate clutched his empty glass in shaky hands adorned with stark white knuckles. His face was drawn, and his clear blue eyes were welled with tears that he refused to cry. His virility was all that was left of his thin shroud of composure. Fred sighed and placed his hands lightly on both of their arms.
At Fred’s touch, Dom looked up from the table. He realised that he had been clutching the bottle of Merlot tightly and dropped it. It tottered on the table top before toppling over. The remaining red liquid poured out over the table. Dom quickly reached to upright it, but stopped. The blood-red wine ran over the surface of the table and dripped onto the tiled floor. The tears he had been holding back erupted from his eyes. His sister was dead.
Nobody moved. There were no spoken words that could have consoled any of them. The wine continued to drip. The sound of it splashing onto the floor was the only sound in the room.
A knock against the flat’s chipped door startled the trio. Pulled to their senses, Dom quickly siphoned the spilt wine off of the floor and table with his wand. Roxanne chanced a sympathetic glance at her aggrieved cousin, and Fred rose to answer the door.
Opening it a crack, he could see Teddy on the other side of the door. Fred breathed out a heartfelt sigh and undid the chain latch on the doorway. Roxanne picked her dark cloak up off of the fourth chair at the table and gestured for Teddy to sit down at the table with them. The older man smiled appreciatively and pulled his hood from his head before sitting down.
“Fred, Dom, Roxanne,” Teddy nodded to each of them in turn. The sound of her name uttered so casually from his mouth stung, though she knew she could not be his lover outside the safety of her flat. The others returned nods of greeting. “I didn’t mean to interrupt,” Teddy continued, “but I thought that you should know. There’s been another murder. Roxanne, I think that you should come with me so that we can discuss the details.”
Fred and Dom eyed to two Aurors as Roxanne slipped her cloak over her shoulders and Teddy pulled his hood up over his head. They didn’t envy the Aurors’ task one bit.
“How are they doing?” Teddy asked Roxanne once they were out of earshot.
“How do you think they’re doing, Teddy? Dom’s lost his sister and Fred his cousin.” Roxanne continued walking though he had paused in the corridor. “Shouldn’t we be hurrying into the office? Didn’t you say that we had another murder?”
“We do have another murder.” Teddy nearly whispered. “James contacted me. It’s our witness from the McNair scene. The apothecist, he found him while he was poking around the shop.”
“So what’s the problem? Let’s get going.”
“It’s not that easy, Roxanne.” Teddy took a few steps towards her and ran the back of his hand down her cheek. “We haven’t reported the murder yet. We’ve been pulled from the case. James shouldn’t have been there, seeing as we aren’t allowed to be within a hundred metres of the crime scene.”
“So where’s James at now?” Roxanne’s heart rattled nervously in her chest. “And how does this involve me? I wasn’t pulled from any investigations. You do realise that the department could have both your badges for concealing a murder?” She stepped away from him. “And where’s John at?”
“John’s fine.” Teddy snapped. “I happen to be a competent father, Roxanne.”
“I’m sorry, Teddy. I didn’t mean to –”
“James is gone. Wasn’t at the crime scene when I got there.” Teddy’s words alarmed her, and left her jaw slack. “That’s why I came to find you. Thought you’d want to help look over the scene, or know where James had gone.”
“Teddy, this isn’t good. James is gone and you still want to sneak around and risk you badge?” Her voice was nearly a screech. Teddy recoiled a bit. “I’m going into the department. I’m going to talk to Harry. He needs to know that there’s been another murder and the his son has gone missing after finding the body. Are you coming or not?”
Teddy sighed. He knew that she was right. It was dangerous for him to poke around the scene, to put too much at stake. He pulled Roxanne into his arms and could feel her tense body melt ever so slightly in his arms.
“No, I really should pop back to your flat and check on John. He’s still sleeping where you left him.” He kissed the top of her head. “I’ll write Kara and see if James is there before we make a fuss over this.” He dropped his arms and stepped away from Roxanne. “You’ll be home soon, right?” The word home rang pleasantly in her ears and she nodded.
She watched as Teddy turned on the spot and disappeared into the night before pulling her golden coin from her pocket. It seemed that it was ages ago when she had last used it, but in reality, McNair had been dead for less than a week.
“It’s Auror Roxanne Weasley, off-duty. Rumoured fourth victim found in the upstairs apartment of the Apothecary. Nobody on the scene now.” She slid down the corridor wall to the floor and closed her eyes, earnestly hoping she was doing the right thing.
A soft hooting sound echoed in her head. She must have drifted off in the corridor outside Fred and Dom’s flat. Roxanne stirred and slowly opened one eye; a sharp, stiff pain shot up her lower back. A familiar great horned owl stared back at her and dropped a thin roll of parchment into her lap. It was a letter from her uncle, requesting her immediate presence at his office as soon as possible.
She jumped to her feel. Perhaps the department had been alerted to the most recent murder scene and made some headway in the case. Her hear raced nervously and her mouth was dry. Roxanne shuffled through her cloak’s multiple pockets for a quill and hurriedly scribbled a response for propriety’s sake before turning on the spot.
The world spun and compressed around her. When she opened her eyes, she was standing in the Ministry’s Atrium. Roxanne let out an exasperated groan and broke into a jog. The damn spells that kept the government’s many offices secure were certainly a nuisance to anyone in a hurry to reach any particular department. The lift didn’t appear to be in working order or moving much too slowly for her satisfaction, so she entered the stairwell, skipping down the steps two at a time. Reaching the Auror office, she pushed a few loose strands of hair from her face and struggled to catch her breath.
The only light in the department spilled out of Harry’s office, painting a faint path across the tiled floor. Roxanne followed the path nervously, worried for what news awaited her on the other side of the door. A deep breath of the stale, underground air did not have the calming effect she had hoped it would. She gingerly knocked on the door, though it was cracked open.
“Roxanne?” Her uncle’s voice sounded strained. Something was very wrong. “Roxanne. Please, come in.”
She hesitantly pushed the heavy wooden barrier open and walked into the well-lit office. Her eyes reflexively squinted in protest. Sitting around the lavish room was Harry, Senior Auror Jones, and Uncle Ron.
“Please, sit down.” Harry’s round, wire-rimmed glasses sat on his desk, and his eyes were puffy. Roxanne suspected he had been rubbing the heels of his hands into them. “We need to know how you knew about Mr. Turpin’s murder. You weren’t on the scene when you reported it. How did you know that the murder had occurred?”
Ron and Jones followed Harry’s gaze and stared at Roxanne. Her heart froze, and her voice caught in her throat. She had been the person to report three of the four murders now attributed to the serial killer. Though she had only graduated from the academy eight months ago, she knew how this looked. Perhaps she should have listened to Teddy. Perhaps she shouldn’t have called in the Apothecist.
“You can’t, er, I mean, you don’t,” her mind raced, and her mouth struggled to articulate intelligible sentences.
“Roxy,” To her surprise it was Ron’s voice and not Harry’s that interrupted her inane babble. His voice was not that of Department’s second in command, but of a concerned uncle. “We don’t suspect you, if that’s what you worried about.”
“Of all people, you should know that I understand unfortunate coincidences.” Harry’s green eyes connected to her own, instilling a small comfort to her soul. “But we do have a suspect,” he continued, his voice uncharacteristically grave. “Which is why we need to know how you knew to report this last murder to the department.”
Roxanne could feel her voice trembling. “Well, I was over at Fred and Dom’s flat. We were having a few drinks, and Teddy showed up.” She fought the telltale blush that crept up her cheeks at his mention, having still not perfected the casual demeanour that Teddy had. “He pulled me out into the corridor. Told me that James had found the body –”
Around the room, the men’s heads sunk to their chests and Roxanne’s voice froze dead in her chest.
“How could Harry possibly think that James is the serial killer?” Livid did not even begin to describe Teddy’ mood as he slammed his fist down into the kitchen counter. “Surely Harry has lost his mind. The idea of him believing that his own son has been traipsing over London, committing the most perfect murders this generation has seen is just repulsive I don’t understand how he could possibly think that.” He spat across the room as each syllable articulated from his mouth. The volume of his voice rose with each word.
“Teddy, quiet.” Roxanne whispered from the corner, her voice urgent. “You’ll wake John.”
“Don’t tell me to be quiet, Roxanne.” Teddy paced across the length of the tiny room. “I won’t bloody wake John. I’m his father. I think I know how soundly my son sleeps.” He resented how much she sounded like Victoire right now. Even in her death, his wife hadn’t truly left him.
He paused both his words and his pacing as Roxanne left the Kitchen to check on the tiny blonde boy sleeping in her room. The walls of the flat pressed in on him, feeling more like a prison than the warm refuge they had come to feel like.
“I told you already,” Teddy’s head snapped up as Roxanne re-entered the room. “Kara contacted Uncle Harry. She told him that James wasn’t home the night of the first murder, and that he came home late, covered in blood the night that McNair was killed. She also said that he had fought,” her voice was trembling as she spoke, and tears ran down her broad cheeks. “That he had fought with Victoire right before she turned up dead. And now. Now he is alone and finds the only witness to the McNair murder dead. Doesn’t report it to the office, but to you, and then flees the scene?”
Teddy crossed towards Roxanne. It killed him to see her so distraught. He lifted a hand to pet her wet cheek, but she ducked away from it.
“No, Teddy. Not now.” Her voice was stiff, full of a resolve he hadn’t heard from her before. “I don’t want to believe that James is capable of something like this just as much as you don’t, but we’re Aurors. We have to face the facts, and all the facts are pointing to James right now.”
Teddy watched as she clamped her eyes shut and inhaled deeply. He took the opportunity to run his hand over her hair and down her jaw line to her chin.
“Teddy,” her voice was less severe when she spoke, “I said don’t.” She did not pull away from his touch. “I need my room. I want to review everything from these four murders. You should take John to the Burrow. You know Nana Molly wouldn’t mind looking after him.”
“Aye.” Teddy dropped his hand from her face. “Then I think I’ll go look for James. I have a decent idea of where he may be.”
James breathed in the country night air. How had anything come to this? He looked around the quaint tree house and smiled. It was hard to believe that his mum had also sought refuge from the world within its wooden walls at one time. He very much doubted that whatever she had sought refuge from was quite as serious.
The metallic, irony scent lingered from the Apothecary in the back of his nose trickled down to the back of his throat. The taste of blood threatened to make him hurl. It was all so clear to him now, the struggle for justice and power, for respect and notoriety. He knew what he had to do.
He knew that Teddy would look for him here, but he could only hope that innocent and young Roxanne would never know the truth about any of this.
Two figures stand in a small wooden room. Both draw their wands slowly from their waistbands, the taste of their immanent incantations tickle their lips.
One figure smiles.
The other figure’s eyes close.
Somewhere, across the garden, the sound of a young boy crying halts both figures in their tracks.
A/N: Thank you for Reading. A huge thank you to all of you who have reviewed or favourited this story. One chapter left. dun dun dunnnn. So, what did you think? Any predictions??
Chapter 6: VI. Murder the Fifth (and Sixth and maybe even Seventh)
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Disclaimer: Nothing you recognise belongs to me. This chapter contains some vaguely violent discriptions, please don't read if this bothers you. Enjoy.
Roxanne groaned. The tick of the clock on her bedside table incessantly interrupted her thoughts. The door of the tiny room was pulled tightly shut and the only light was that of a floor lamp. Folders stuffed with parchment were scattered across the top of her bed. One lay open, its contents sorted into two piles. She flipped over the piece of parchment in her hand and moved it to the already-read pile.
She had vowed to review every word of each of the four murders’ case files. Her mind could not wrap around the idea of James as the serial killer. The Aurors who had conducted the investigations had to have missed something, some small detail that would make all the difference. So far, she hadn’t found anything to suggest that her favourite cousin hadn’t killed four innocent people. .
The feeling of failure began to slither out from the dark recesses of her mind and dance a slow, taunting dance over her skin. Roxanne could feel a bubble of frustration rise in her throat and she blinked back the tears that had not already run down her face. She carefully rose from her bed so as not to disturb her piles of reports, interviews, and evidence inventory.
Her mouth was dry from the fire whiskey she had thrown back earlier, and she desperately wished she was still tucked away at her brother’s flat with the rest of the bottle. Life was so much simpler when she was only a brother’s little sister and a large family’s youngest cousin. If she was still a little girl, she’d be an adventurer instead of an Auror, she would be a lover instead of an adulteress, and a most importantly, she would be happy. Alas, she was not a little girl. She was a grown woman thrown into the midst of a murder investigation much too close to her heart.
She sighed. Perhaps a warm shower would help to clear her mind.
As the warm water coursed over her tired body, licks of steam filled the tiny room. Her mind relished the warm moisture, and her thoughts slowed to an almost manageable pace. The images of each crime scene played out before her eyes. Knott Sr., facedown in the alleyway behind the pub, McNair, facedown behind the Apothecary, the Apothecist standing watching the investigation only to become a victim days later in his own bed.
The Apothecist. Roxanne’s mind screeched to a halt and her heart leapt up into her throat. How could everyone have forgotten about the apothecist?
She fumbled with the nozzle to turn the water off and jumped out of the shower. Pulling a robe over her shoulders, she left the steam-filled room. She grabbed a folder from the piles on her bed and shuffled through the numerous documents within it. Finding what she was looking for, her knees gave out and she sunk down onto the side of the bed.
The apothecist was listed as a witness to the McNair case. The Mr. Turpin’s signature appeared on the line above the Auror whose signature had approved him as a witness in the case. The distinct curve of the J and the sharp stem of the P ignited Roxanne’s sense of urgency, and caused her stomach to roll over in her abdomen. The taste of bile entered her mouth, and she resisted the urge to vomit. If James had signed Mr. Turpin as a witness, there was no way that his memory had been modified at that point in time. It was one of the primary rules of dealing with witnesses. Roxanne could picture the page that the rule had been printed on of her Academy textbook. A subject who has had their memory modified in any manner cannot and should not be legally taken into consideration as a witness. Their testimony may still be obtained through other means and used for trial purposes, but never as a primary source.
James would have known and adhered to this ethical code. There was only one person who had spoken to Mr. Turpin after James had declared him as a witness and before the Apothecist turned up with a modified memory. Roxanne’s skin crawled, and her face paled. This time when her stomach turned she did vomit, narrowly missing the rubbish bin.
She fumbled for a quill, penned a note to Harry, and hurriedly dressed. Knowing that she would arrive there before the rest of the Auror department, she turned on the spot and Apparated into the night.
The incantation died on Teddy’s lips. The sound of John fussing from within the burrow carried across the thin night air. The thought of having his son so near while he was working was unsettling, but he reminded himself that Auror is on duty twenty-four hours a day. Afterall, somebody had to prevent James from being falsely incarcerated as a serial killer, he didn’t deserve the notoriety due to the true killer.
Teddy’s breath came in short shallow gasps, and a smile was plastered across his face. James stood directly in front of. He too had his wand clutched in his hand, but his eyes were shut, and his lips were murmuring some silent plea into the night.
The tree house was much smaller that Teddy remembered. As children, handfuls of the Weasley-Potter cousins could sit comfortably on the wooden floor, but now, he was sure that he could touch James’ shoulder if he took one step away from the doorway.
As though James had heard his thoughts, his eyes widened, and he stared across the short distance between the two men, his jaw slack.
“Bloody Merlin, Teddy.” James’ voice was a little more than a croak.
Teddy watched as he lifted his wand higher, to match Teddy’s own stance.
An ugly pang of guilt washed over Teddy, and he paused for a moment. His wand hung in midair, waiting for the completion of its master’s spell.
James heart raced, and his mind ceased to process anything but one thought. Only one of the two men would leave the tree house alive.
Roxanne placed her hands on the worn rope ladder and earnestly hoped that her instincts were correct. The tree house had always been a place of refuge for the cousins. They had each sought its refuge to avoid angry parents, nurse broken hearts, and disappear from the world. Perhaps now as adults, James had sought it for much graver reasons.
At the top of the ladder, she slowly pushed the pushed the creaky, wooden door open. As she had suspected, James and Teddy stood within the tiny square room. They were facing each other with their wands drawn. Intent on pressing duel in front of them, neither seemed to notice her appearance.
She inhaled deeply and swallowed. Emotions could not get in her way. An Auror was expected to be on duty in every situation. She raised her wand and jabbed it forward into the air, sending her stunner flying into the small room.
Teddy crumpled to the floor.
Roxanne’s wand hung limply in her hand and she stared at his motionless form.
She jumped at the sound of James’ voice and tightened her grip on her wand. It was one hell of a time to doubt her intuition.
“So, you’re so sure that I’m not the serial Killer, Roxy?” James’ face was glazed over a mixture of exhaustion and a hint of madness shone in his eyes. “Surely everyone suspects me by now? The cards haven’t exactly been stacked in my favour.”
“No, James.” Roxanne lowered her wand and pulled her cousin into a tight embrace. “I know you aren’t a killer. But the evidence does seem really convincing. You can’t blame anyone for –”
The sound of a curse racing through the air cut Roxanne’s words off. A red light flashed, and she doubled over at the waste. Long, deep gashes covered her torso, arms, and face. She slumped down onto the wooden floor; her breathing was ragged.
“I’m sorry, chief,” Teddy whispered. “You never were any good at stunners. You and your friend James here are the only Aurors who’ve actually done their job. And we can’t have that, can we?” He bent over and stroked the hair back from her still face.
James stared down at Roxanne. The life was rapidly seeping out of her. Teddy had murdered Roxanne. His mind repeated this fact, first as a whisper, but grew progressively louder until his head was ringing. He tightened his grip on his wand and looked up into Teddy’s face.
“And little Jamesie. The department must really be in a bad way if they can really believe you are their serial killer. My crimes have been perfect. I haven’t left a single loose end. I am going to be famous, Jamsie.” Teddy’s eyes shone manically through the dark interior of the tree house. “More famous than your dear dad, even. It’s a shame that the department had to go and make such a fuss about a couple of dead death eaters, and then the bloody family had to go and get involved, why, I –”
“Enough.” James had found his voice. “Enough Teddy. No one will believe that you are the killer with me around. Everything in those case files point to me. So, what are you going to do about it?”
Both men raised their wands. There was a flurry of motion. A green light rocketed across the refuge of the tree hous, crossing paths with a red beam of light, and both men fell, joining Roxanne on the floor.
Molly Weasley stood at her kitchen window; John was sound asleep over her left shoulder where his father had placed him nearly an hour ago. She had been surveying the activity in the garden since then, and her shoulder had since fallen asleep alongside the poor little boy.
Her emotions were mostly numb to the goings on outside of her window. All she knew was that Harry, Ron, and several other Aurors from their department were on scene, sorting out something very bad.
Outside, Harry sat on the damp earth. Approximately thirty seconds after arriving on scene, he had announced his resignation as head of the department and sat down in the spot he was he was still seated. Ron had eyed his best friend warily and hesitantly stood up to direct the investigation.
Harry limply held his glasses in his hands; tears streamed down his face. He had failed his Department. He had failed his family. Roxanne was dead, killed by a sectumsempra curse. Her lifeless body had already been taken to the Ministry’s morgue. Teddy was dead. His wide eyes and unmarred body suggested that an unforgivable had been his downfall. He too had joined Roxanne and Victoire in the morgue. Harry shuddered. James’ body lay at the base of the tree. From the appearance of the gashes and the amount of blood lost, he very much doubted that his oldest son was still alive.
“Oi. Harry,” the sound of Ernie’s voice echoed through the quiet night. The coroner waved his arms over his head towards his old schoolmate. “Harry, James is awake. But, this tonic will only keep him awake for a few –”
James was awake. Only somebody who was alive could be awake. A loud roar filled Harry’s ears and drowned out the rest of Ernie’s words. He scrambled to his feet as quickly as he could and rushed over to his eldest son’s side.
James was covered in lacerations in the very early stages of healing. A bag of tonic ran down and into his arm. He looked weak, and barely noticed Harry’s presence at his side.
“James, son,” Harry knelt down beside him. “Son, everything will be okay. We have Teddy’s wand. We know everything.” He forced an encouraging smile up from the pit of his stomach.
“Dad,” James’ voice was weak, barely more than a whisper. “It can never be okay. Victoire and Roxanne are dead. Teddy’s dead. Dad, I killed him. I did that to him.”
“Son, I’m sure everything that happened in the tree house will get sorted out eventually.” Harry tenderly brushed his son’s dark red hair from his face. “Right now you need to concentrate on healing.”
“I don’t care what the Department decides. I’m no better than he is, I’m a murderer.” James closed his eyes and felt the harshness of the world slip away into a warm, unconscious sleep, free of all pain.
Merlin, how they’d all fallen.
A/N: And that's it. They've all fallen down. I want to thank each of you for reading, reviewing and favouriting this. I really hope that you enjoyed this chapter. This is the first WIP that I have finished, and I'm really excited and sad about it being over. I'm toying with the idea of writing a follow-up. I'm not positive yet. So, What'd you all think?