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Chapter 1 : On The Hoof
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I think there's some kind of disconnection or something somewhere in my brain, because while I can write papers really well, and remember spells for a test, I can't seem to actually do anything with them, when it comes right down to it. Maybe I'm just lazy about applying myself like my mum always says. None of those jobs she wanted me to do after school were at all interesting, though. I'm pretty sure all that magical knowledge fell out of my head at the leaving, anyway. I know all the potion recipes did.
I got a respectable number of O.W.L.s and N.E.W.T.s and lovely letters of reference, and yet here I am, sitting behind a rubbish skip outside the home of a petty criminal, for the third evening in a row, hoping he'll come home before I fall asleep behind the bin.
I did try to get this guy at work, and at home during the day. But he's really fast, and has surprisingly good wards on his flat. It's not right, I tell you. I prefer my criminals lazy and slow, but what can you do. Someone's got to pay the rent.
It wasn't going to be my boyfriend, that was for sure. Scorpius Malfoy and I had been living together for a few years now, but during that time he'd only had a real, actual job for about a month or so. This arrangement was actually fine by me, because Scorpius really enjoyed keeping house, and I am, shall we say, probably actually as lazy as my mum believes me to be. At least when it comes to scrubbing the kitchen sink on a regular basis and things of that nature.
Honestly, I didn't even know one was supposed to clean under the refrigerator.
So Scorpius stayed home and puttered around and did the cooking and washing-up and whatever other domestic chores had to be done, and I went out and fought criminals (if I couldn't hex them from behind first) and brought home the occasional paycheck.
Lately, that had been very occasionally. It was a dry spring, what can I say.
When Lydia Agnelli offered me a felon she might normally give to her cousin Dino to bring in, I jumped at it. He wasn't violent (much), but he had a criminal record as long as my arm, so the bounty was higher than I normally took in, which made it worth the effort.
Maybe not the smell, though.
I looked up at the rubbish bin and wrinkled my nose. It smelled like something had died in there a few weeks ago. I hoped it wasn't my felon, because I didn't want to have to climb in after him. And the paperwork for finding a dead body is really a pain. I hate police paperwork.
I'd been a bond enforcement agent for Angelo's Magical Bonds for several years now, thanks to a series of drunken boasts that continued to bite me in the arse on a daily basis.
Or that could be the fleas. I scratched at my bum, wondering if there was a spell that repelled fleas. My cousin Victoire Lupin was bound to know; her kids had gotten a puppy for Christmas. If I didn't catch this idiot tonight, I was going to have to ask her.
I had just cycled through my usual surveillance routine (stretch toes, get cramp, swear, wish had something to eat, wish had brought Victoire along for company, consider cutting hair, discard as short hair looks awful on me, foot asleep, wish could scream over pins and needles, stretch toes, etc.) when I heard the sounds of someone coming down the street.
I leaped to my feet, realized my left leg was still asleep, and stumbled into the rubbish skip with a loud bang, whacking my knee against it.
My felon, Sikke Hoof, leapt backward and yelled a swearword that would have caused my grandmother to soap his mouth out. He stumbled back and landed on his backside, skidding a bit in the refuse on the street. I scrambled forward and grabbed his ankle, and he tried to kick free of my grip, but I had a pretty good hold on the hem of his pants, my fingers digging into the fabric.
“Let go, you crazy bitch!” Hoof bellowed.
“Crap,” I said as my knee began to throb from the impact of the rubbish skip. “Hold still, damn it.”
Hoof managed to scramble away, and I let out a squeal despite myself and looked down at my hand. Yep. Broke a nail. I got up as quickly as I could and took off after him.
I was supposed to tell him why I was taking him into custody at some point while actually taking him into custody, so I huffed out while I ran after Hoof, “You are in violation of your bond agreement, Sikke Hoof, and I am legally empowered by the Ministry of-”
“Bugger off!” he yelled over his shoulder as he ran. “You'll never take me alive!”
I hate when they say that. It never ends well.
We were two streets over from where we'd started, and the neighbourhood was going downhill in quality as fast as I was losing the ability to chase this idiot. My knee hurt, and my broken fingernail hurt, and I didn't like running. I'm not very athletic. That's why wizards have wands, dammit, so we don't have to run, but we were in Muggle London, I couldn't very well start shooting hexes at him.
I really hate taking people into custody in Muggle areas. I'm much better at catching bad guys with a wand than without it. And since I'm not very good at catching bad guys with a wand, that should tell you how bad this could go if I couldn't use my wand.
I jumped at Hoof again and managed to catch hold of the hood of his jacket. His head snapped backward, and it slowed his pace enough that I was able to wrap both arms around his torso, knocking him to the ground.
“Oof,” Hoof said as he hit the pavement. I agreed; that had not felt particularly good for me, either. I think I just twisted my ankle.
“Oi, there. Wot's going on?” People were beginning to gather, and as always with a mob situation, there was a bloke with a low-rent accent and an overinflated sense of self-worth.
“She's a maniac,” Hoof yelled.
I went to pull my wand automatically to restrain him and then remembered this was Muggle London, and we were surrounded by a growing crowd of Muggles. I couldn't put a Body-Bind Hex on him in front of all these people. What did Muggle bounty hunters do when they caught a skip and had to restrain them? I had no idea.
“I'm a bounty hunter,” I said, looking around and hoping nobody would stone me or something. “He missed his court date and I have to take him in to the uh, authorities.” I hoped that sounded sufficiently vague. I wasn't sure what Muggle bounty hunters did exactly, if it was the same as what wizards did. For all I knew, they might have to wear uniforms.
“I didn't know bounty hunters could be girls,” one young man said in the back of the crowd.
“You should be at 'ome wif your children,” another man, this one at least fifty, said severely.
“I don't have any children,” I said, annoyed.
“Then you should be at 'ome doing housework,” he retorted, and I scowled at him.
“I have a boyfriend for that.”
“Get off me!” Hoof was still struggling, trying to kick me. I really needed these Muggles to go away so I could get him Body-Bound and Apparate to the Ministry and turn him over to Magical Law Enforcement. That was just a whole lot of things to do that would utterly violate the Statute of Secrecy if I did them in the middle of a crowd in central London.
“'Ere, how do we know she's a bounty 'unter?” asked the first man. “Wot kind of proof do we 'ave? She don't look like one. Maybe she's just some crazy bint. We ort to search 'er for some kind of identification. Stands to reason.”
There was a general murmur of agreement from the rest of the crowd.
Oh, holy Kneazles. That would not end well. They'd find my wand if they searched me.
“It seems to me,” said the man whom I was now starting to hate, “that she ort to prove she is wot she says. I wouldn't feel right letting her take this bloke away if she's some crazy murderer or wotnot. 'Is body could turn up in a ditch tomorrow, am I right?”
The murmur was growing. My wand felt like it was burning a hole in my pocket. The urge to flee was starting to make my back itch. This situation was going downhill fast, and I was beginning to think magic was my only way out.
Hoof twisted underneath me and gave me a feral grin. He was sure he was about to get away thanks to a bunch of Muggles. I put my knee into his back, making him groan in pain, but at least it kept him from running long enough for me to pull my wand. This was going to suck royal hippogriff, but I couldn't see an alternative.
I aimed my wand at the crowd and hoped I could do this spell en masse. “Obliviate!”
Thankfully, a blank look slid over the faces of the crowd, and I turned to the other side to catch any stragglers, casting the Memory Charm again.
“You're going to be in so much trouble,” Hoof chortled. “Casting spells at Muggles!”
No kidding. I hoped my dad could get me out of any problems that might come from the whole 'Obliviating a crowd of Muggles' thing. If he couldn't, maybe my mum could, or Uncle Harry. It was handy having family in positions of power in the Ministry. Not that I would, you know, ask them to abuse their power. Unless I couldn't get out of trouble on my own. Then I totally would.
“It was your fault, you drove me to it,” I told Hoof.
“Yeah, I'm sure they'll believe you down at the Ministry. Here now,” Hoof added, twisting around to look at me again. “What's your name? You look familiar.”
“Well, I am a Weasley,” I said. “We all look alike.”
“I got arrested by Ron Weasley two years ago,” Hoof said in an almost conversational tone. “Nice bloke. Punched me right inna face, but I had just tried a nasty spell on him, I'll give him that.”
“That's my dad,” I told him proudly. “I'm Rose Weasley.”
“Pass my compliments to your dad then, eh?”
Man, my job is weird sometimes. “Yeah, okay.”
Hoof suddenly jerked, trying to escape again, and I dug my knee further into his back.
“Ow!” he complained loudly, looking hurt, as if he hadn't just tried to evade capture again. “You're Ron Weasley's daughter, right enough. Going to punch me inna face now?”
“No. Just Body-Bind you.” I aimed my wand at him. “Petrificus Totalus!"
He went rigid, and I relaxed a bit. Whew. I glanced around to make sure the crowd was still out of it, and Disapparated.
A/N: Hi! Welcome back to the world of Just Another Midnight Run. This is my second NaNoWriMo novel for this month, so I'll be attempting to get 50k words into the story by the end of November. I'll start editing and posting new chapters starting December 1st, but I couldn't resist putting this one up right away.
As always, I do not own the Potter-verse or its characters. I do own the many random OCs Rose interacts with and the plot. This story is inspired by Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum series.
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