Chapter 3 : III. Murder the Third
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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!
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