Chapter VII: Of Living and Dieing
“Where are we?” he asked as they sat in the car before a totally nondescript building in muggle London.
She sighed, letting out a deep breath as she held the wheel under a vise grip, refusing to look at Harry in hopes of retaining what was left of her calmness and not falling suspect to nerves. “You know… you know how I told you that it's time to stop living for others, to stop killing yourself because of others?” she slowly asked, licking her lips before grabbing the lower one and biting it.
“Yeah,” he slowly nodded, sending her a quizzical look that she couldn't see but could imagine perfectly in her head nonetheless.
“Well… this is how I propose you start.”
“This?” he asked, his voice filled with befuddlement.
“Yeah,” she nodded. “This is where they hold AA meetings… I picked this one since it's in muggle London, even sort of found a way around the law to get into enrollment records and checked if anyone was a wizard or squib in there… no ties to wizarding London at all…” she rambled nervously, her grip slowly tightening on the wheel more and more as she spoke, a fact that surprised her as she hadn't expected that it was possible to have a tighter hold on it as it was.
“Alcoholics anonymous,” she answered.
“I just… you need to get better, Harry,” she told him, finally releasing the wheel and turning to him. “You deserve more, you can get past this, but I'm not the one that can do it… this—this could help, I really believe it could do-”
“Hermione,” he stopped her.
“Yes?” she weakly asked, shying away slightly.
“Don't try to sell me on it, I'll do it.”
Her eyebrows shot up, surprised. “You will?”
Doubtfully. “You will?”
“I think I already said that,” he smiled weakly.
“You will?” she repeated.
“If you believe it'll help then so do I.”
“Oh, Christina,” Hermione gasped at the sight of a thoroughly tousled and underdressed model opening the door to Harry's flat. “Hi… um… I was just stopping by to talk to Harry about some—some work things,” she rambled, albeit a bit nonsensically for her usual standard of eloquence, eyes shifting relentlessly as she tried to avoid looking directly at the unabashed girl, more than a bit further
embarrassed by the fact that she
was the only one blushing out of the two. “I'll—I'll just go… yeah…”
,” a clearly amused Christina nodded. “It was nice seeing you again, Hermione.”
“You too,” Hermione muttered with a small wave, already making her way towards the lifts, sighing as she heard the door close. “My God!” she gasped, in shock, still trying to wrap her mind around why someone would answer a door in just her boyfriend's shirt… much less when only about three or so buttons were actually buttoned. “Rather slag-like, really,” she murmured to herself, rolling her eyes as the doors to the lift finally opened.
The sound of a door being wrenched open, however, stopped her from stepping through the doors as she turned around in surprise, startled by the sudden sound.
“Hermione, is that you?” Harry asked, running out of the flat in nothing but a towel loosely wrapped around his waist, rapidly scanning the other end of the hall.
“Right behind you, Harry,” she dully told him. “And what is it with you two, does the attraction lie in the fact that you're both such exhibitionists, is that it?” she asked, raising an eyebrow in amusement over her own joke while not even bothering to hide the fact that she did find the sight a very pleasant one… that time.
He blushed immediately, and she thanked the Gods that at least he
showed some sense of propriety. “Sorry about that… or well, this
. It's just I heard the door while I was in the shower and Christina got in before I could ask her, so
She nodded. “Well
, I think I've seen far more than I ever wanted to see today, particularly of Christina, so how about you come by my flat later if possible? Ronald be helping the twins with some shipment and I'll be reviewing the notes so I just wanted to ask you.”
He nodded eagerly, a sweet smile crossing his face immediately. “Sure, I'd love to. Should I bring some food?”
“Well I wouldn't let you in if you didn't, so see you in a few hours?”
“Yeah, I should be over in an hour, just need to change and go to muggle London to that Serbian place you adore-”
“Oh,” she gasped, “you don't have to so soon—I didn't mean to ruin your plans-”
He shook his head, waving her off mid way through. “I want
to, so an hour from now good for you, or what?”
She smiled, biting her lip lightly. “It's fantastic.”
“Good, see you then, love, I'll be sure to bring all the proper accoutrements.”
“How was it?” Hermione nervously asked when Harry yanked open the door to her Mini Cooper and glumly took a seat by her.
She watched him grit his teeth, clenching his jaw as he took a noticeable gulp. “If… if you ask me to go, I'll go… I owe you that much-”
“Harry, you don't owe me anything.”
“But I do," he corrected her, avoiding looking at her and, instead, staring at the building he had just come out of. “If you ask me to go to those meetings, I will, but… but I'm going to ask that you don't… don't make me go, help me find another way, but not this.”
“What happened in there, Harry?” Hermione concernedly asked, twisting in her seat so she could look at him properly, bringing a hand forward to move a stray strand out of his eyes, making a mental note to remind him to get a haircut.
He shrugged. “It's just… I feel like pulling my hair out during the shite, in all honesty.”
Hermione let out a laugh despite herself. “That bad?”
“Not that bad, just annoys me… looks like it works, but annoys the hell out of me.”
“Okay,” she nodded. “We'll find a way; I'll read up on it a bit-”
“You don't have to-”
“I want to so don't be an annoying prat,” she stopped him, leaning forward to peck his cheek lightly. “We'll come up with something, we'll get past this,” she promised him as he turned to look at her, smiling weakly at her.
“I come in peace… and with burek to boot,” Harry announced as he let himself into Hermione's flat.
?” he heard an ecstatic shriek of glee from the other room as he made his way towards the dining room area where he found Hermione setting the table already.
“Also picked up some ice cream,” he added as he placed the bags on top of the table and started unpacking everything, sending the ice cream to the freezer as he focused on opening the various containers of food.
“Well you truly are a God send, aren't you?” Hermione laughed as she placed the forks, knives, and spoons in their appropriate areas. “Merlin, it smells amazing,” she gushed.
“I honestly don't understand your obsession with this; it's good… but not that
She shrugged as she tore off of a meat burek and dipped it into the sour cream Harry had bought. “The mere fact that you can say that shows you have absolutely no taste in food… it's blasphemous, really,” Hermione chastised him.
“The influence Ron has had over you is far too prevalent; you do realize that
, right?” Harry smiled up at her as he worked on opening the package of krofne.
“No, Ron will eat anything
, I, however, just adore eastern European food, huge difference. Mine is an adoration for food, his is one for stuffing his face.”
Harry nodded amusedly. “How could I be so blind?” he asked as he took a seat at the table and placed a cheese and spinach burek on his plate. “So what'd you find?”
“I was able to isolate the four spells, there's the one that I mentioned, relaxo carmen, then for the incision I wasn't too sure at first because of the manner that the markers overlap but I brought in a friend of mine, John Wharton-”
Harry's eyebrows furrowed. “That bloke that's in graphic design?”
“Oh you remember him?”
“He wouldn't get his hand off of your arse,” Harry dully retorted.
“I know,” Hermione cringed slightly. “But when he's not a randy perv he's actually pretty interesting to talk to, and we've been working on limiting the petting, now he only touches it whenever we hug in greeting.”
“I thought you were a feminist, for fuck's sake, shouldn't you be against that?”
“Oh no, don't get me wrong, I abhor it, but he's also amazing with computers and has helped me out on a few cases even though it's not his job and he doesn't get paid for it so I put up with it.”
Harry nodded, snickering lightly. “And you look down upon hookers?”
Hermione sneered, reaching over the table to pinch his arm. “Don't be a prat; it's because of that randy man that I was able to isolate each of the tracers on the computer.”
“And that's good, I take it.”
good,” Hermione corrected. “Especially given that because that I was able to narrow down any possibilities or doubt.”
“Right… so I hate him, but he's helpful so I can't break his hand next time he makes a grab at you.”
“Oh no, you can break his hand, it'll teach him a lesson,” Hermione assured him with a wide beam and a small, conspiratorial wink. “After all, I was always a bit of a violent person, never much of a lover not a fighter sort as it is, so it's not as if it'll do much harm to my reputation,” she shrugged.
“Oh thank Merlin,” Harry gasped. “Anyway, what were the other two?”
“Well the one that he or she used to impede blood loss was probably the most fascinating-”
“I was getting to that, patience,” Hermione chastised him, huffing slightly. “The murderer used decelerate corpus corporis which also explained why in the autopsy it didn't seem as if he struggled at all. From what Alex and I were able to suss out, whoever did this used the spell to slow down the bodily movements to the point at which any action is reduced to this inane amount, about a thousandth of what it generally would be, if my math is right.”
Puzzled. “Okay, so what would that have to do with the bleeding?”
“That's the brilliance in it,” Hermione exclaimed in an astounded wonder. “Well, I mean, you know… in a very bad… evil way, but still, it's genius
. The spell actually slows down every
bodily movement, including the speed at which the blood would escape the body—it goes against time and gravity, really. So, with this, one of those huge
gashes that you saw, quarter of a meter, would actually let out blood at the speed equivalent to that of a three centimeter long cut.”
“Then how the hell was there so much blood?”
“He was being tortured for thirty hours, lots of blood escapes even a three centimeter wound in that time period.”
“Merlin,” Harry groaned.
“Yeah,” Hermione nodded, laughing lightly as she saw Harry scowl. “Anyway, to increase the pain McMullen was just made more sensitive through a simple amplification charm, ampliavi.”
He nodded, letting out a deep breath as he racked his mind to see if he had anymore questions that he was forgetting, well aware of the fact that there were probably well over a dozen that had slipped his mind—as they usually did in the most inopportune of times. “Wait, you said that there were different spells used for slitting the gut, the small scratches all over the body, and everything else?”
“Yeah, same spells apparently, just different ratios, that's why it looked as if they were separate spells when looking at the skin.”
Harry, however, took her by surprise by moaning suddenly. “Am I the only
one that's just tired of this case?”
“Oh come on, you must have had worse than this.”
“But it's so stagnant—and messy.”
“In all aspects too,” Hermione quipped. “But don't fret so much, you'll be able to find who it was, I know you will,” she promised him, reaching a hand over the table and placing it over one of his that was resting on the surface.
He smiled. “Thanks, Hermione; you always know what to say, don't you?”
“Well it comes with years of practice in stroking your ego and keeping morale up,” she teased.
He chuckled, turning his hand over under hers and squeezing back.
The moment, however, was cut short at the undeniable sound of Buckley's personal ring tone on his WiziCell, a noise that made Harry groan in distinct displeasure. “Don't you know the meaning of the term weekend?” he dryly asked the man in greeting.
“Sadly, however, cadavers wait for no man, even if they already have no where to be other than in a coffin or urn,” he dimly noted.
“I already have a case, Buckster
,” he added purely for the sake of annoying the man, deciding that the momentary pleasure in aggravating him with the pet name was well worth whatever backlash from him. “Or did you already forget that you assigned me to one?”
“No, didn't forget… I just got a call in about a crime scene, the report… it's the same M.O., Harry, all of it…”
author's note: Anyway, short chapter to explain some things and a change in the memories, finally a bit less dark and drunk, lol. Hope you enjoyed and please review!
p.s. note: small changes have been made to chapter three so if you're interested you can go back to see that. It's nothing major but there's been a few minor changes I've been dying to make for ages.
Author mentioned in this chapter
and huge thank you to the ever wonderful beta Searcy.