As the feeling of compression lessened, Harry opened his eyes. His office had vanished and he and Cho were now in Diagon Alley. He yanked his arm out of Cho's tight grip.
"Bloody Hell, woman, what were you thinking? You do not drag me along without so much as a word on where we are heading. I need to know so I can be prepared to defend us if necessary." He glared at her, before looking around. "What in Merlin's name makes you think the killer will strike here?"
Cho had been so excited when she solved the riddle she hadn't even thought twice about grabbing Harry and apparating straight away. However, looking at her decision from Harry's point of view she could completely understand his frustration. She held out the photo of the riddle that she clutched in her left hand. Harry yanked it away and looked at it in frustration.
"Harry, I'm sorry. I didn't even think. I should have told you but I just wanted to get here as soon as possible. Take a look at the riddle, it is all there. 'Begin again', 'start again' - A starts the word 'again', 'Start lying' -L. The 'twins' line refers to two L's. 'End any lie' -E. 'And finishes by asking, "Why?"' -Y. A-L-L-E-Y. Alley…it has to be Diagon Alley!" Her eyes sparkled with excitement and touch of trepidation.
Harry glanced up from the paper to stare at Cho, the anger ebbing from his eyes. "Good work…but you can't just apparate me without telling me. What if we had been ambushed? I would have been taken by surprise not just by the killer but by you too." Cho nodded with agreement a chagrinned expression on her face.
"This just doesn't feel right." Harry stated, his eyes searching Diagon Alley. The streets crowded with late afternoon shoppers. A young family coming out the Magical Menagerie, the little girl had her arms wrapped around a big black and white cat. Her parents smiling down at her. A tall blonde man in expensive robes was walking away from Gringott's, his head down counting out the galleons in his hand. A group of young boys raced by Harry and Cho. He could hear their excited voices talking about the Nimbus 3300 broom. "This is too busy and too open for an attack on anyone. The other locations were more secluded."
"I know, but where else could it be? The answer has to be alley." Cho looked around.
"Knockturn Alley!" Harry grabbed Cho's arm and they began to race down the crowded street. Darting in and out of the people milling about. Harry collided with a young man. He hollered his apologies as he raced by, glancing back to see the young man getting up with a scowl on his face. They made a quick right turn onto Knockturn Alley. They slowed down slightly to be able to search the area. "Keep your eyes open, Cho, let me know if you see anything."
The bright day seem to disappear as they hurried through the dark gloomy alley. The buildings were all grimy and close together which blocked out most of the sunlight. There were very few people wandering around. Most of the patrons of Knockturn Alley were not as open about where they did their shopping. As they rushed down the alley they were about to follow the alley around a sharp bend when a distinctive popping noise could be heard. Harry and Cho looked at each other and picked up the pace. As they came around the corner Harry stopped suddenly. He reached out to stop Cho as well.
In front of him, a lanky man lay sprawled out near the wall. The man appeared to be in his late thirties. His black hair was cut short and his eyes a deep brown. However his eyes were glazed over. The man was obviously dead. The wall that he was next to was etched with the code that Harry knew he would find with the next victim. He had hoped to find the killer before there would be a next victim. The markings on the wall were so freshly etched that they were still smoking.
Cho choked back a sob as she check the man for a pulse. Tears streaming down her face, she turned to Harry and shook her head. Indicating that there was none. It was the first murder victim she had ever seen, in fact it was the first dead body she had ever seen. She stepped back, turning her back to the victim. Her shoulders shaking as the tears began to flow.
Harry quickly opened his communication mirror that all Aurors carried with them to alert Hannah of the latest victime. He snapped it shut and looked to Cho. He stepped up behind her and placed a hand on her shoulder. He turned her around and pulled her slight frame into his arms. He just held her as she sobbed against his chest. He heard the popping sound of Hannah and Colin arriving. He gestured for them to begin working the crime scene. They nodded briefly and started to work.
With a deep ragged breath, Cho pulled back and looked up to Harry. She wiped at her damp cheeks. "I'm sorry, Harry. I have never .. I just.." The catch in her voice stopped her from continuing. Harry nodded with a sad half smile on his face.
"I broke down my first time seeing a dead body too." he confided, thinking back to his fourth year at Hogwarts, at the end of the Tri Wizard tournament. He had brought Cedric's body back from the graveyard meeting with Voldemort. He understood the pain of seeing a dead body. Despite the time he had spent during the war and as an Auror, seeing bodies still bothered him tremendously, he had just learned to mask it well.
"Really?" With a steadying breath, Cho pulled away from Harry and turned to look at the code on the wall, she took care to avoid looking at the body. "It looks like a simple number cryptogram. I should be able to crack it in an hour or so. Then we can solve the riddle that is inevitably hidden there and then we can catch this bastard."
Harry quickly wrote down the numbers onto a scrap of parchment and after double checking them, he and Cho apparated back to the office. Without a word Cho grabbed the paper and headed to the boardroom to get to work. Harry took this time to check the memos that were floating around his desk. There were several from Tonks alerting him to the progress on the search for Michael Corner. There had been very little to work with and so far the search had been fruitless.
He leaned back on his chair. With one hand he pulled off his glasses and the other he rubbed the bridge of his nose. The stress and exhaustion from the last several days catching up with him. He hated the waiting. Waiting for Cho to solve the codes, waiting to hear word from Tonks about Michael, and waiting for this murderer to slip up and give them the opportunity to catch him. If given the choice Harry would be out doing something, anything to break the case but he knew that he had to wait. He wanted desperately to be involved in the search for his friend, but after a lengthy argument with Kingsley Shacklebolt, Harry understood that he needed to be working on the riddle case instead.
During the war the DA had become a force to be reckoned with. They fought with heart for Professor Dumbledore. In essence, they really did become Dumbledore's Army. They battled along side seasoned Aurors and Order members against Voldemort and his followers, their presence proved to be the key ingredient to victory time and again.
Lavender, Michael, Luna and Seamus were attacked while on routine patrol through Hogsmeade. Luna and Seamus were killed instantly with Avada Kedavra curses, but Lavender and Michael were outnumbered and were captured by the Death Eaters. Harry had been incensed, determined to find his friends as soon as possible. After several weeks with no leads, Harry had been forced to make an agonizing decision - the decision to abandon the search for Lavender and Michael to focus the DA's efforts in the war towards the fighting of the Dark Lord. He had been wracked with guilt but knew that it was the only decision that he could make. To defeat Voldemort and pray that the Death Eaters would reveal the location where his friends were being held.
After the reign of the Dark Lord was ended, most of the Death Eaters were captured and imprisoned in Azkaban. There were many willing to talk to reduce their sentences. Amycus Carrow, one of the Death Eaters that was involved in the Battle of the Tower on that dreadful night that Dumbledore was killed, came forward and revealed the location that Lavender and Michael were being held. The DA reacted immediately rushing their injured comrades to St Mungo's. Due to the damage that had been inflicted upon the pair during their imprisonment, Lavender died shortly after arriving at the hospital. Michael had survived and spent seven long months recuperating from the injuries.
Harry spent most of his time at the hospital during Michael's recuperation. He was there to try and keep Michael's spirits up during the arduous healing process. The guilt Harry felt is what started his daily visits, but as he spent time getting to know Michael he found that the two shared a lot in common and they became good friends. Once Michael was released from the hospital, he went directly to the Aurors academy and joined straight away.
"Harry, I have it!" Cho's excited voice interrupted his thoughts. Harry slipped his glasses on and looked down to the parchment she placed in front of him. They had been right to assume that it was a riddle.
Seek the answer to this riddle
Chase me - if you can
Keep unravelling, till you find me
The three clues already at left hand.
To those add a sound you often hear
When you cannot find a phrase
Now thing upon it very well
And the answer will you raise.
Those clues, no more, are all you need
And different though they are
What makes them close? It is no game
As you will know, but yet another part.