Harry leapt to his feet and dashed to the doorway where Cho stood, her pale face was full of frustration and worry. He gripped Cho's arm, afraid she would collapse. She shook him off and tugged him back towards his desk. She laid out several pieces of parchment and jabbed her finger at the writing on it.
"Here,-And I'll repeat my riddle thrice. and here, The Dark Lord hid behind his name, An appellation from one of shame.. They are hints about how to solve the riddle." She looked to Harry's bewildered face. A flash of mild annoyance flickered in her ebony eyes. "Look at the only part repeated 'thrice'… it's a bloody anagram."
Harry studied the line again. To the merry Jaspar "Just tell me the damn answer, Cho. I don't have time to play games." The weariness echoed in his voice.
"It’s you, Harry. The answer to the riddle is Harry James Potter." Cho spoke softly. "It is a letter to you."
"Bloody Hell." He muttered as he reread the entire riddle taking in each line as a blow to his heart. After rereading it, he sank into the chair behind his desk and ran a hand through his already messy black hair. "He murdered that girl to get at me. Her blood is on my hands." He paused before continuing almost inaudibly. "Her name was Holly. Holly Raferty. She was only 23 years old."
An uncomfortable silence filled the air, until Cho spoke again, this time with trepidation.
"That's not the worst of it, Harry." Cho paused as Harry's eyes sharpened. He grabbed the paper again and looked at the riddle once again.
"There will be more murders." He muttered angrily as he reread the letter. Cho nodded her head almost imperceptibly. "Cho, I need you to help me with this next riddle. I need to know what he is telling us so I can stop him." Harry jumped up and stuck his head out the door. Michael Corner was walking by.
"Can you get Creevy to send me that picture immediately? It’s important." Michael looked at Harry for a moment and then hurried off to find Colin.
Harry turned back to his office. Cho was looking at the letter again.
"Harry," she started. "Who would want you to suffer like this? They have to know this is the best way to hurt you." She watched him to see what his response would be.
"I have loads of enemies, Cho. Any of those who followed Voldemort, any of the dozens of those I have helped to put into Azkaban over the last five years, Merlin, it could be anyone who was ever in the Slytherin house." His voice trailed off. She could see by the look on his face something had dawned on him. However, before she could ask him what it was, a thick envelope soared into the room. Harry snatched it out of the air. Cho was forcibly reminded of the way he looked grabbing the snitch out of the air during their years of competing in Quidditch at Hogwarts. She was quickly brought back to the present when he thrust a muggle photograph into her hands.
Kxm o cbwwcm baoebfowbzf oft o xslbfpcbfe zi eckm,
Oft kxm wnm izcczvbfe qckmx - nmlm'x vnow wz tz.
Wnbfp zi o vzlt izl o xbfecm tmqmswbzf,
Ott wnm xmqzft zi wnm wvmfwr xby izl smlimqwbzf.
Wnmf wnbfp zi o vzlt izl xnzlw xksscr
Oft ott o gkmxwbzfbfe cmwwml ilza wnm abttcm zi wnm mrm
Fzv eckm bw wzemwnml, otdkxw wvz ibiwn'x, bi rzk slmiml
The jumbled letters charred onto the blue wall glared at her. She pressed her mind past the circumstances and thought only about the code in front of her.
"Alright, it looks like a basic cryptogram. The key to figuring these out is starting with the one letter words they can only be 'a' or 'I' then we move to the two letter words 'an', 'as' 'at', 'in', 'is', 'it', 'on', 'or' or 'of' then we start to work out the other letters from there. Finding the little words will give some letters to start with. Then we figure out the others from there." She sat at Harry's desk and grabbed a quill. She quickly started working on letters. Harry stood beside her occasionally suggesting ideas or questions. He quickly realized that he was hindering rather than helping, so he stayed quiet and let her work. As he watched her, he thought back to the time when they dated briefly in his fifth year at Hogwarts.
Looking back on that time now, he realized what a tremendous strain it had been on her after Cedric died. And while he was trying to deal with terror and trauma from being the one to watch as Cedric was killed, he had had no idea on what to do and what to say to comfort her. They had both made mistakes and neither of them had handled it well.
He took a seat on the chair she had occupied hours earlier when they had arrived at the ministry, his mind going back over the letter that had been addressed to him. He had spent a lot of time worrying about the safety of others around him, and had feared the worst would happen… and that it would be his fault. That's how he had pushed Ginny away.
After Dumbledore's funeral, he told her why he needed to put their relationship on hold. She had been furious, but she understood why he was doing what he had done. They had kept their distance from each other until he had faced Voldemort.
Harry had murdered the dark lord and in that instant, he changed dramatically. He knew everything about Voldemort; what he stood for and what he intended to do to not just Harry and his loved ones but to anyone who was unfortunate enough to not have the proper lineage. Yet it didn't lessen the effects of what murdering a man did to Harry. He pushed everyone away. Claiming to need time and space. After a couple of years of waiting for Harry to wrestle his demons, Ginny grew tired of waiting and she found love and happiness. The two things Harry didn't think he was capable of giving her.
He had mourned their relationship when she married Dean, but he was glad that she had been able to find the contentment and joy that he would never have been able to give her. They were pleasant to each other now at Weasley family gatherings, which he still attended, but the closeness that they had shared ten years ago was gone. After Ginny married Dean, Harry began to pick up his life and joined the Aurors' Academy. He devoted his time to his career. He dated infrequently and spent most of his precious time off reading.
"You are right. It's another riddle, Harry." Her frustrated voice interrupted his thoughts. He took the paper that she held out to him. He read the deciphered riddle for the first time.
Use a little imagination and a sprinkling of glue,
And use the following clues - here's what to do.
Think of a word for a single deception,
Add the second of the twenty six for perfection.
Then think of a word for short supply
And add a questioning letter from the middle of the eye
Now glue it together, adjust two fifth's, if you prefer.
"Ok, let’s break it down." Harry started with a rush. His senses leapt into high gear with this new break in the case. "Single deception…well that could be a ruse, con, lie or maybe trick. Second of perfection…. E. "
"No, not the second in perfection, Harry read it again. It's the second of the twenty six so it has to be the letter B. Con-B, Ruse-B Lie-B" Shaking her head in frustration. She looked at the next line. "Short supply. Needed? Wanted? Few?"
"Rare? Odd?" Harry paused. A look of dawning comprehension filled his green eyes. "Lie-B-Rare-Y…library!"
Cho reread the puzzle and nodded. "He is giving you a location, Harry. Maybe that's where he will strike next. A library."
Colin Creevy chose that moment to rap sharply on the door to Harry's office. He opened the door and stuck his head in.
"Harry, there has been another murder. Hogwarts." The tension was apparent in his voice. "Meet you in Hogsmeade." There was the familiar popping noise as Colin apparated.