Fig twirled a strange object in his hands, standing over Harry’s desk with an air of unease. The item was in the shape of a marquise and small enough to fit snugly in his grip. It was filled with light blue colored smoke. “It’s my MoodMyst—do you like?”
“What is it?” Harry took it, the smoke changing to a murky blue.
“Keeps my mood in check—or supposedly. If I’m getting angry the thing emits a nasty smell—it’s to make me aware that I’m mad so I can stop . . . being mad. Erm—” He reached in his back pocket, pulling out the leather bound manual. “If I’m happy then it is supposed to emit a faint glow, letting everyone know my mood. If I’m depressed it emits a sweet scent—if I’m feeling spiteful or envious—”
The next words were drowned out by a squelching noise. Harry couldn’t understand why he ever bothered to keep Fig around as a friend. He was too nice a person, perhaps. The MoodMyst had sprayed Harry with a very foul smelling mist. Opaque in color, Harry coughed it from his throat, looking up at Fig with unabated fury.
“And . . .” he began slowly, the page dropping in front of his eyes, “if you’re feeling spiteful or envious it sprays you with a nasty liquid to punish you for your negative thoughts.”
Harry handed the object back.
Fig pulled out his wand. “You—er, want me to put it back . . . the way it was?”
“Put what back?” Harry snapped, taking an accidental whiff of himself. He thought quickly for any self-help charms he knew offhand.
Fig smiled knowingly. “Do you want me to take care of it?”
“What? The smell?” Harry said mutinously, inching away from his green-haired friend.
“Well—” Fig looked like he was going to continue, but fell silent after another thought. After a few moments he found his voice again. “Erm—well, I came over in the first place to give you something.”
“I don’t think I want a MoodMyst thanks.”
Fig almost laughed, catching himself and coughing awkwardly into his fist instead. “No—something else! Something to help you never forget anything ever again.”
“Don’t want a Remembrall either, Fig.” Harry turned back to his work.
“Will you just listen to me? No! It’s something completely different.” Fig rummaged around on his person, pulling a small notepad from somewhere and presenting it proudly to Harry. “Remember how all I got you for Christmas was a sweater? Well—I wanted to get you something better! And here it is! A Date Saver!”
“A date book?” Harry took it, looking it over back to front. It looked like an average Muggle calendar. “Thanks—Fig.”
“Ah—but you haven’t tried it yet! Watch this.” Fig took the book from Harry and opened it. “Hey Harry, want to go to dinner tonight? It would be at nine o’clock tonight,” Fig waited a few seconds for a reply.
“And viola! Look!” Fig turned the book around, showing Harry the miniscule writing that had appeared under January the third.
“So it . . .”
Fig nodded fervently. “Yup. Anything you agree to do—it’ll put it down in this book and remind you about it a good half hour or so beforehand to give you time to either get to your destination or cancel your plans. You’ll never be late to anything again! Date Saver.”
“Were you just quoting their tag line?”
Fig shrugged. “Oh—God! what’s that smell?” He sniffed a few times. “What—oh. Yeah.” He laughed.
Harry nodded, ripping the Date Saver from his friend’s hands. “Thank you.”
Fig snapped his fingers. “I think I might have something in my desk for your rank stench, matter of fact! A potion I keep on hand for . . . incidents like this! Hold on, I’ll be right back okay?” Fig hurried away down the aisle, stumbling shortly than rising again, looking back to Harry apologetically and disappearing into the crowd.
Harry grinned as the man left. “But wait!” he called after him. “Can’t you just use a spell?”
Harry turned to see Rachael coming up. She was grinning too and he got the impression she’d been waiting for their shape shifting friend to take his leave.
“Some awful contraption of Fig’s.”
“How do you—?”
“It’s why I was staying at a safe distance. Here.” She pulled out her wand and Harry let her fix him. For the first time since she took him under her wing she didn’t tell him the spell and how to perform it afterward. Harry was surprised. “Let’s go.”
“Darwin and Locke’s—we have too much work to do today.”
Harry shook his head, crossing his arms. “Not yet. Who is Alexander the Great?”
Rachael sighed. “I’ll tell you. I’m not the authority on Alexander the Great or anything, but I do know ‘stories’ about him.”
She nodded seriously. “Yeah. Come on though, we’ll walk and talk.” She led Harry up and toward the exit. “See, we don’t really know if he’s real or not. Stays in the shadows mostly, but it’s more the idea behind him. Alexander is thought to be the crime lord of North America. Richest wizard in the world, making money of every single transaction in the country—so the stories say. He controls the Wizarding underworld. But no one’s ever seen him, so he could just be a myth—I don’t know. Some of the crooks taken into custody claim to work for him. They get off the hook, somehow, and are back on the streets again. He isn’t to be trifled with. And if this business venture at Darwin and Locke’s is under him, well, I don’t know if two measly Inspectors could never hope to take it down.”
“So what?” Harry curled the Date Saver in his hands. “We can’t stop Douglas?”
“Well, if Marquee is right, which is—believe it or not—usually the case—it’ll at least be hard. But not impossible. Douglas and Alexander are two different people. The thing is—we just need to make sure that Douglas doesn’t catch wind that we are after him.. We need to be subtle and make sure that we gather the proper evidence. Capture him all at once so he doesn’t gather the necessary legal support to play the courts.”
“That . . . so that’s easy, right?”
Rachael shrugged. “That all depends.”
The store was as busy as any other day. Doug was just as angry as all the other times, but Harry and Rachael took it for what it really was now. Doug wanted them out of his shop for fear of being discovered as a crook. The Inspectors nonchalantly observed the store’s patrons on the grounds that they were scanning for the criminal. They spoke in hushed tones about very different motives, hovering near a deserted part of the store, pushing magical fertilizer in the middle of winter.
“There has to be a log.” Rachael said suddenly, looking enlightened.
“Yeah, Harry. Something where the store keeps tabs on everything they’ve sold and bought. We’ve been given copies off the thing, but with Doug suddenly becoming suspect, I don’t know how much of it we can trust. We need to get our hands on the real one—or at least poke around to see if there is another.” Rachael shrugged.
“We could just ask him for it.” Harry shook his head, joking.
“Doug’d think something was up,” Rachael explained impatiently. “We can’t draw any suspicion if we want to take him down, and if we tell him we think the log he gave us was fake, well, he’d definitely know something was up, right?”
“Right, why is that, exactly?”
“He’ll close up—take extra precautions. Maybe pawn the thefts off on someone else—hell, maybe he’d even come forward and confess, knowing he’d be back on the street in no time. If we have proper evidence it doesn’t matter how much weaseling they do—they can’t beat the system.” Rachael pulled out her wand. “And on that note—I have an idea. You remember that spell you mastered recently?”
Harry raised an eyebrow. There were quite a few he had mastered recently. As a matter of fact, he could now magically make waste disappear. He was still lax on the theories behind it—where the unwanted materials went—but at least he could cast the charm. He could also cast a rather potent Memory Charm, but as he still had trouble discerning exactly how much of one’s mind he erased, he hardly considered himself a master of such a spell.
“Disillusionment Charm.” Rachael was slightly impatient.
“Right. I’ll distract Doug and you take a few peaks around the back of the store—see if you can find anything that might incriminate Mr. Livingston, can you do that?”
“Can you distract Doug?” Harry pulled his wand out, ready to comply with Rachael’s plan.
“You know me.”
“I do.” Harry smiled. “So now?”
“Dissimulo!” Harry brought his wand to the top his head and instantly felt a cool egg broken over his entire body. Double checking his hands, Harry put his wand away and followed Rachael silently to the front desk. He concentrated hard on remaining one with not only the background, but with the shadows too. It helped him to stay unseen when he kept his eyes closed, and he could usually only manage the spell for a few minutes before he lost focus. Hopefully a few minutes would be more than enough. Rachael struck up a conversation instantly, consisting of, from what Harry could tell, suspicious employees. Doug was instantly exasperated by her questions and she quickly garnered all his attention. Harry slipped quickly by him and through the movable door into the dark, crate-filled stock room.
It was a warehouse behind that door, all sorts of boxes containing all sorts of useful and useless items that Harry knew better than to look through. A couple employees lurked near a few chairs and Harry got the impression they were on break. He ignored them, checking every surface for any kind of book. The shipping log was his goal, but he knew better than to keep a closed mind about any potential leads. Near the far back of the store, unmistakable in black paint and intricate designs, stood a very tall cabinet—it was a cabinet he had seen a few times before in his life. He put his hand up to it, noticing something slightly different about this one than the other two he had seen before. There was a crest near eye level on the front of the door. An embroidered gold and silver ‘D’ and ‘L’ sat in quartered shields and crossed with wands. He looked it up and down, putting his hand thoughtfully to the painted mahogany. With a jolt he realized that he could see the hand that touched the mahogany. Looking at both hands, Harry quickly began to panic—glancing hastily to the two workers that had been taking a break. There were gone—he breathed a quick sigh of relief—though the room had gone eerily quiet. His sigh of relief bit back up his throat as he realized they might have seen him and gone off to tell Douglas of the news. He fumbled for his wand, ready to try to cast the spell again.
“You! It’s you!”
Harry jumped in his fright, accidentally sending his wand across the room. It was Sheila.
Harry turned around, surveying Sheila as she played anxiously with her collar. “Yes, it’s me.”
“The morose one.”
Harry nodded, biting his words down.
“It’s good that you have come. I was worried no one would come. Do you recall when I told you about that thing I knew about? Well, not I exactly, but do you recall when you heard about that thing that I knew?” She wrung her hands together as she spoke, leaning forcefully forward and glaring into what felt like Harry’s soul. Thoroughly irritated, Harry turned away from the employee, intent on finding his wand and figuring out a way to escape the treacherous circumstances in which he found himself without getting caught.
She followed him closely, continuously wringing her hands as she stuttered out words. She struck Harry as unnaturally nervous.
“Because—I’m really—I know that—it’s just a matter—of time—really.”
“What are you talking about?” Harry turned at last after retrieving his wand from under a small chair.
Sheila looked around quite a few times, her eyes darting so quickly around their sockets that Harry had to look at something else. “I know something.”
“And what is it that you know?”
Her eyes instantly fell to her feet. “No. I can’t tell you. It’d be wrong to tell you. But if you meet me at three fifty three tonight—it’ll be a Revolution.”
Harry smiled politely, unable to tolerate the crazy any longer. He held his wand firmly over his head. “Dissimulo!” The wand tip cascaded a cool sensation over his body and he stood no more—Sheila scratching her head in surprise.
“Von Grierson! What are you doing back here? Get back out on the floor! Some kids spilled a big tub of Moccasin’s Amazing Bubbling Bubbles—clean it up!” Doug had poked his snarling head through the door.
“Yes, sir! Right away, sir!” Sheila stiffened at once, casting a wayward glance to where Harry had been standing and bustled out after her boss, Harry at her heels.
Not a few moments later he found his way into a bathroom stall. There was a man there, dressed in a red blazer, washing his hands. Careful to step silently, he tried to trek his way into the far toilet, but the man still washing his already very clean hands suddenly reached out.
“You aren’t stealing are you?” His voice was dull and monotonous.
Harry looked about—himself invisible, then, with his concentration shattered—suddenly visible. He shook his head. “I am an Inspector.”
The man in the blazer laughed. “An Inspector? You think that matters around here? No law enforcement title has any weight. So—since you didn’t answer my question—are you stealing?”
Harry did his best to look affronted—as he actually was. “No. I’m not stealing.”
“You know the Disillusionment Charm is forbidden in places of business?”
“I am an Inspector,” Harry said, his temper flaring.
“So you are.” The man finished washing his hands and exited, a small smile on his face.
Breathing a sigh of relief, Harry left, finding his partner overseeing the aptly named ‘Bubbly Aisle.’ Was that man the same he’d seen countless times around New York—and it was once too in South Brewer, too. He looked the same.
In the Bubbly Aisle, however, Harry saw Sheila popping stray bubbles furiously with the end of a rake near its end. The Inspectors gave her a wide berth as they spoke quietly.
Rachael kept her eyes trained on Sheila. “And you found?”
“Not much. Shouldn’t we have checked his office? I think I saw a vanishing cabinet back there.”
“A vanishing cabinet?”
“Yeah—something that allows you to transport things between cabinets.”
“I know what it is.”
“Then why’d you say that?”
“I was just thinking out loud!”
“I mean I was—Harry, do you think that could be what he’s using—to steal?”
“What do you mean?”
“Well—nothing’s been stolen from the premises—the wards have seen to that. But things are still going missing. That has to be the reason—not some powerful Dark Wizard breaking protective enchantments.”
Both Inspectors were silent for a few moments. Harry thought back to Sheila catching him where he shouldn’t have been. He didn’t think she would tell Doug Livingston where he had gone. She seemed to have forgotten he was even there—that she was even speaking to him. “I don’t think that Doug’ll know I was back there,” Harry said quietly.
Rachael’s eyes narrowed. She stayed silent for only a moment, giving Harry enough time to get the wrong impression, but get worried all the same. “You don’t think? I shouldn’t think either—why, though? Did someone catch sight of you?”
Harry knew he had dug his own grave. He just hadn’t realized he’d need it so soon. “Well, not really.”
“Harry,” he could see that she was fighting to keep calm, “if you don’t elaborate I feel I’m going to have to hurt you.”
“Sheila Von Grierson caught me.” It only occurred to Harry that, after he said this, this might have been something rather incriminating. So he spoke again. “Well, not exactly caught me. The Charm sort of ran out a bit early, and she was the only one back there—and she just sort of told me there was something she had to tell me but didn’t want to.” He hoped that made more sense.
“You were caught?” She glanced down to the end of the aisle where Sheila was hopping around madly, trying to catch one last stray bubble.
“I said sort of.”
Rachael took a deep breath, obviously to keep from making a scene in the store.
“Rachael. Please, you know how crazy she is.”
“But. If she hints. If.” Rachael was doing a surprisingly good job of keeping her voice down, though the anger was flooding through and nearly drowning him.
“Doug’s already suspicious. If he catches wind. Sheila. Unpredictable!” If Harry was not frightful he might have laughed; she was turning darker shades of red with every word she spoke.
“I understand. But we have to keep on like nothing’s happened. There’s nothing else that we can do.” Harry’s voice was stronger than he felt, but he wasn’t about to stop. “Now, since we know about the Vanishing Cabinet and its uses for the thefts—do we have enough evidence now? To bring Doug in? I mean, it won’t even matter that Sheila—”
Rachael quickly shook her head. “No. We know how he’s doing it, but that doesn’t help us with linking him to the thefts. While we know it’s Doug, the attorneys don’t. And a ghost’s, no less a criminal ghost’s—testimony won’t be much help. If we brought him in now, and if he really is protected by Alexander—or some other corrupted attorney at the MLED, well, he’ll be out rather quickly.”
Neither said anything for a moment. Rachael looked to Sheila and Harry’s eyes followed. Sheila was watching them, not working, her mouth agape. Smiling awkwardly, Rachael pushed Harry away toward the entrance where the crowds of people kept them hidden.
“So what now?” Rachael’s question was whispered.
They both thought for a moment before an idea came to Harry. “Well, Doug’s stealing with a Vanishing Cabinet, isn’t he? That means there has to be another one somewhere. His home, maybe?”
“I’m not so sure. He’s annoying, but he isn’t very stupid. He’s a manager of a very prestigious magical supply shop, so he’s got some amount of brains. But you’re right—he would have the other one somewhere close by. Somewhere he could get to . . .”
They hit another wall. At first they threw around the idea of perhaps relatives and close friends. Then they traipsed back to the idea of the other cabinet maybe being at his apartment. But even so, if it were at any of those places, they would need a Writ of Plausible Cause to enter the homes. Something they couldn’t get on the sole basis of suspicion. They’d need more.
“I’m going to go take one last, desperate look around to see if I might find something,” Rachael said half-heartedly. “Let me know if you think of something, okay?” She went on her melancholy way, up the spiral staircase, her eyes frantically flying about the premises.
Harry leaned against a rack of magical screw drivers, all able to take the shape and fit of whatever screw or bolt you might need to turn, and started running over all the facts of the case in his head one more time—it helped him think.
Harry started and put a hand to his heart, his face turning sullen. He rounded on the cause of the disturbance just off to his left. Sheila seemed to have shrunk in the last half hour of Harry’s surveillance. She stared at him, her bottom lip jutted out as though she were indignant about something and shuffling her body back and forth. It gave Harry the vague impression she expected a response.
“Why are you so morose? I’ve something to tell you!” She motioned frantically with her fingers, but at what, Harry couldn’t tell. Daphne soon passed them, and Sheila glared at her as she walked by—making Harry think that maybe it was she the old woman was angry about. “See? Did you see?” She thrust her face as close to his as possible, her short legs causing the tip of her nose to brush against his chin. He pulled away instantly, feeling slightly disgusted.
“Ms. Von Grierson.” His voice was reproachful. “I really would like you to stop following me around. You have nothing helpful to add to my case. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go find my partner.” If not for an excuse to leave, he had no real reason to say that. He brushed past the custodian, but she caught his arm.
She looked unabated by his words, pointing her wrinkled arm into the air above her up toward the ceiling. There Harry saw the store’s crest. “Do them proud!” Below it hung the manifesto of the proprietors themselves. Harry read it for the first time.
“To those of you shopping with us today, Misters Charlie DARWIN and Barnaby LOCKE would like to extend a hand of thanks and a well-wishing not found at any other merchandise peddling establishment. Enjoy your days.”
He read it a few times through. Misters Chuck DARWIN and Barnaby LOCKE . . . that last name struck a bell with him. It sounded like he might have heard it before. He looked down again, to Sheila, but she had gone. Checking the immediate vicinity, it was as though she had vanished. He really didn’t like her. Deciding to go bounce a few ideas off his partner, he made for the spiral staircase. As he walked away he could have swore he heard his name whispered amongst the dull roar of the many customers. He looked around but saw no one addressing him. Feeling slightly unnerved, he took the stairs two at a time to find Rachael.
Strangely, she was searching a rack of magical light bulbs. Everburners, said the packaging. Harry didn’t quite like the sound of that. She pulled away from them quickly, looking a bit put out.
Harry spoke before she had a chance. “Rachael—does the name Barnaby Locke mean anything to you? It reminds me of something, I just can’t put my finger on it.”
Rachael looked impatient. “Yeah—Darwin and Locke’s. We’re in it.”
Harry ignored her. That name struck a chord. He knew it was something important. Locke wasn’t hitting much, but that first name—it wasn’t exactly a commonplace name. Barnaby. Barnaby.
“Wait a second.” Rachael looked as though she’d been hit in the face. “I remember now. When we were looking back on the Warlock’s Bane. It was Barnaby that had originally owned it. Barnaby Locke. But you don’t think—they could be one in the same?”
That was definitely the Barnaby Harry was fighting to remember. “He was the co-owner of Darwin and Locke’s?”
Rachael shrugged. “Didn’t really check his personal file, only the criminal record of his actions. And besides, how does this help us anyway?”
Harry stared. “Okay, right. Look, Barnaby was a well-known wand thief, supposedly criminally insane and died in prison a few years back—well, at one point in time he was very good friends with a man named Chuck Darwin.”
“They were the Darwin and Locke. The co-founders of this store. Well, and the co-owners right? Can’t we tell Darwin what’s going on? Go straight to the owner?”
Rachael gave Harry a few moments and then shrugged. “I guess it’s worth a shot. We’ve got no other option so far as I know, do we?”
It took them only a little while to find the proper address to Mister Chuck Darwin’s suburban abode. He owned a mansion on the outskirts of town, living lavishly at a summer home most would die just to have for a week as their vacation home. It took what felt like a half hour just to get from the gate out front to the front door. He had a lush security detail. They were supple young women and when Harry’s jaw dropped in surprise at the sight of them, well, Rachael decided to jab him very hard in the ribs with her elbow. Shrugging in mild indignation, Harry led the way behind the security mistresses. Rachael scowled.
“So you just wish to talk with Mr. Darwin?” asked one of the guards. Her voice was light and welcoming. She had a very bright smile and bleach blonde hair.
Harry nodded. “About the thefts that keep occurring at his store.”
“Oh, how horrid!” cried the other, also a blonde, although she didn’t smile, so Harry couldn’t be sure if they were exactly alike.
“I do hope your visit today is fortuitous,” began the first.
“Most fortuitous,” cooed the second.
“Oh,” Harry chuckled, “so do we.”
Rachael rolled her eyes. They continued to chat back and forth as they made their long way up to the front door of the manor. As they began to take the few marble steps up to the entryway, the front door opened, and all four stepped back to allow this man a path through.
“Evening, Inspectors,” Doug said, winking. He continued on his way without looking back.
Harry, though, felt his stomach sink away. He wasn’t exactly sure what it meant that Doug had visited Mr. Darwin before them, but the fact that he still seemed to be behind the counter as they took their leave, yet managed to get up to the front door far faster than they, well, something gave Harry the heebie-jeebies. He chanced a glance at Rachael. Her face was steely.
They were shown inside and bid a happy farewell by the guards and as the door shut behind them they got a good glimpse of a magnificent house. It had all the expected furnishings—bright pale colors, dark deep colors, golden doorknobs, marble tiles and a distinctly pretentious air. There was no butler to show them where to go, but a booming voice called out to them from somewhere deeper within the cavernous abode. “I’m in the den! Just follow the sound of my voice! To your left, I do think!” The man had a powerful tone, and both were sure this voice was that of Chuck Darwin, the only surviving founder of Darwin and Locke’s Magical Supply Shop.
When they found him he was grinning. He had a glass of bronze liquid sloshing around and filled with ice. He looked a bit pink in the face and sat with his feet up on a stool. Harry and Rachael introduced themselves as the local Inspectors Potter and Roberts. Chuck said he had heard of some of their exploits and then asked a few very understandable questions. “To what do I owe the pleasure of your visit?”
“We were wondering if we might run a few ideas by you about these thefts that keep happening at your store.” Rachael was very official and straightforward, wasting no time.
“Shoot. I’m all ears! You wouldn’t believe the revenue I’m slowly losing from the place.”
“Good, because we think we know who might be behind the thefts.”
“Why aren’t they in prison yet?” he roared, not angrily, but almost bemusedly.
“Well, sir, that’s just the thing.” And so Harry went into detail, Rachael helped and they told Chuck the whole sordid affair. They told him about how they suspect Doug and how a reliable source told them he was fencing stolen merchandise. They told him very politely and without missing a detail, and were sure, by the end of their story, that they would most certainly have the owner on their side in the future while working on this case.
The first thing that Chuck Darwin did was stand up. He stood with an air of power, slightly taller than both of them—a larger man, with a great white beard Ahab might chase down. His eyes were specs on his face behind his glasses, and neither was really sure what they were doing—surveying them or heralding them or reproachful, they didn’t know.
“Get out.” His voice was a controlled calm. They didn’t move. “Get out! Get out!” Still nothing. “If you do not get out I will file a complaint with the MJD! How dare you come in here and accuse my nephew of stealing from me! I should be livid! But I’m not. Only disrespected. By Inspectors, no less. I expected better from such highly regarded individuals! I guess I wasn’t smart enough: I trust what I read in the papers, but never again!” He was pacing slightly, Harry and Rachael standing in his wake like a deer in the headlights.
“We’re sorry . . .” is all Harry could muster out.
This caused Chuck to laugh, a raucous, mirthless laugh that told the two Inspectors just how welcome they were. He nearly pushed them out the front door, slamming it in their faces. Rachael was beginning to get angry, and the arrival of Connie and Bonnie to escort them from the premises did not help her mood any. Luckily for Rachael they were not as friendly to Harry as they were the first time. They seemed to have suddenly turned sour and were none too talkative. As soon as they were through the gate and on the other side the door was shut loudly behind them, Connie and Bonnie staring at them from the other side, eyes blank and angry at the same time.
Rachael said nothing, grabbing Harry’s hand and Apparating the two of them back to Four-Fifths. The second their feet hit the ground Rachael threw his hand away, more frustrated than she’d been in a long time. Harry gave her a bit of space, hoping to be able to steer clear of the debris that might come flying his way.
“If he wasn’t onto us before,” Rachael began, more downhearted than anything else, “he definitely is now . . . oh, this is bad . . .”
Rachael nodded. “He had to have said something to Chuck. Maybe Chuck’s in on the whole thing. That was such a bad idea. The moment I saw Doug coming out of the door I knew. We should have turned around. We can’t go back there, not to the store.”
“So what do we do?”
Rachael checked her watch. “I don’t’ know. I really don’t. I need to think . . . Revolutionary?”
Harry thought for a moment then shrugged. “We haven’t gone in a few days, I guess.” Walking a bit down the street and they were pushing through the double doors to the bar. The snow flurried as they entered. A few people looked up at them from the tables, instantly returning their eyes on their drinks when they discovered it was not someone they knew. Harry and Rachael went up to the bar. Harry got a Butterbeer while Rachael asked for something only a little bit stronger. Harry didn’t feel like reprimanding her.
“There’s never a dead end,” she whispered bitterly before taking a deep swig of alcohol. Harry remained steadfastly silent. She spoke for a little while about a few things. She kept drinking though, and Harry remained on his one Butterbeer. More than once she tried offering her drink to him, saying very earnestly that he surely needed to loosen up, too. She wasn’t drunk—she knew better, but she was woozy, probably not from the alcohol, but she was definitely coping with her anger in a different way than the first time.
“I want to show you something.” Rachael reached inside her back pocket.
Harry raised his eyebrows, unable to think of one thing she might want to show him—but then he thought she might pull out her silvery knife. Though he already knew all about that, perhaps she forgot. She did retrieve it from her pockets, but she placed it thoughtlessly on the counter, digging for something else.
“This is a very interesting strip of paper.” Rachael had pulled out a small piece of what looked like actual parchment. Two words were written on it. “Claudius Aerobeccus,” she read aloud.
She nodded. “He had something to do with the murder of my father.”
“What?” he asked incredulously.
“Yeah. I can’t remember where I got this, but Sergius told me that this man was all he could find on the vampires that killed my father. All that searching . . . and this was it.”
“Do you know anything about him?”
“About Claudius?” Rachael laughed harshly. “Not a thing. No one’s ever heard of him. I’m not surprised. Vampires usually keep in the shadows. I’ve almost given up hope of ever finding him.”
Harry tried to think of something to say, but nothing came to mind.
She nodded, taking a deep swig of mead. “See—I guess our case is like this one,” she gesticulated with the paper, “going nowhere slowly. Yeah, no way in either case.”
“There has to be something we can do with this one!” Harry said sincerely.
Rachael laughed. “Throw out some ideas—come on—lemme hear them!” And for the next two hours the pair spent it shooting down each others’ theories and plans to bring Doug to justice. It was hard. If Alexander’s lawyers were really in play they would need serious evidence to even hope to put Doug away. If Chuck was in on the scheme that evidence would be extremely hard to come by—and the only way to cut the legs off the beast would be to arrest Alexander—something Rachael insisted was impossible.
“I just don’t understand it!” Harry shouted around six o’clock. “It’s stupid. Why would Chuck steal from his own company?”
“Maybe he’s sick of it.”
“Of the company?”
Rachael nodded. “I mean, his partner is Barnaby’s daughter, Keegan Locke. Maybe he doesn’t like her, and this is a play to run her out of business.”
“That’s another thing!” Harry snapped. “Keegan doesn’t seem to know anything about this whole thing! Shouldn’t she care about her own livelihood?”
“I don’t know,” Rachael contended reasonably, “I mean, her daughter didn’t seem to worried about it. Granted, the things stolen aren’t exactly diamonds or rubies. It’s barely hurting profits.”
She didn’t have an answer to that.
They went back to the precinct not long after. Filing paperwork until around nine or ten—Harry wasn’t sure—they went their separate ways just after eleven. Fig kept them chatting for a little while, letting them know a little bit about his day.
When Harry got home around midnight he couldn’t even see where he was going. He didn’t bother with the lights in his apartment and fell upon his bed, completely wiped out from the day and willing sleep to engulf him as soon as possible. His wish was granted, but not a moment after he fell asleep he woke up to a very loud and annoying noise. It sounded like some sort of alarm—but that was impossible. He destroyed his alarm clock already. He was sure of it. He opened his eyes disdainfully, noticing the sound was coming from somewhere near his midriff. He started feeling around groggily for the source of the noise. He found something suspicious in his coat pocket. His teeth clenched. “Date Saver!” He sat up, noticing it was still completely dark outside. There was a reason it was going off, he just couldn’t give it one—trust Fig to give him a faulty gift. Probably a prank, purposefully meant to give him hell late at night. He turned it to the page that was giving off the noise. It was January the fourth at three fifty-three in the morning. Under that rather esoteric time slot was a hastily scrawled note: “Meet with Sheila von Grierson in the fourth room of the Revolutionary Inn. Don’t be late!” A small colon and left-facing parenthesis followed the exclamation point. Harry’s brow furrowed. He recalled instantly the time Sheila asked him to meet with her, but he hadn’t taken her seriously. Apparently this little thing did. He sighed, sitting on the edge of his bed, playing the ‘won’t-go, will-go’ game in his head, weighing his options and lying back down on his pillow, throwing the Date Saver onto his night stand. He wouldn’t go.
Not five minutes later the thing went off again. Harry swore, sitting bolt upright in bed and ripping the magical thing off his night stand. It flipped itself open to that same page. “You’re going to be late if you don’t leave now! Better hurry!” A greater than sign, followed by a colon and accented with a right-facing parenthesis came after the exclamation point. If Harry didn’t know better, he’d think the thing was mad at him. He grimaced.
“Fine. I’ll go.” He shut the Date Saver and chucked it on the bed. “Just stop ringing!” He found his wand still in his pocket and lit the tip, staggering here and there to the exit. While he made his way downstairs he couldn’t help but think how profoundly creepy apartment complexes were at nighttime.
Once outside into the unbelievably cold air, Harry concentrated on a mental picture of the Revolutionary Inn and in not a moment stood outside it, a few lights still lit inside. His stomach had lurched and he cursed. It was too late to be Apparating. The snow billowed angrily as he came inside, avoiding the beginning of a blizzard. Only three people were inside the bar. A man that looked vaguely like Robespierre stood behind the counter, but he was slightly younger and had more color in his face.
“Evening,” he said lightly, “Name’s Augustin. Call me August. I’m Robespierre’s brother and I run this place when he can’t.”
Harry smiled. “Nice to meet you.”
“Indeed.” August’s eyes went down to his bar top. He was cleaning it. The other two patrons in the pub made no notion they had noticed anyone else enter.
“Anyone know what time it is?” Harry asked hesitantly after a few moments.
“Er?” August raised his eyebrows. “A quarter to four.”
“Thanks. Erm—mind if I go upstairs?” Harry took a step nearer the stairs and point above him.
August shrugged. Harry took that as an ‘ok’ and hurried up the steps. He decided that everything was creepier when it was nighttime. Ignoring the dining area, Harry counted inn rooms until he found the fourth. It was the only one closed. He knocked. At first there was no response. Growling, Harry knocked again—noticing a watch on his left wrist. Feeling a jolt of stupidity come over him, he checked the time. Ten to four. Was she really going to make him wait three minutes before she opened the door? He waited. This was very stupid.
Before he knew it the door opened and he was yanked inside. “What the—!”
“Quiet! And listen!” Sheila had all the lights extinguished and instantly began talking. Harry was a little freaked out at first, but soon stopped thinking and just listened. Doug was a bad man, according to what she had to say. He was working for someone named Guillame—someone very scary. Sheila was worried that Giullame was watching them at that very moment so she needed to be hasty. “I found this. This is important.” She fought out, handing Harry a very large leather bound book. “They’ll know it’s missing. You can have it. I don’t care.”
Harry lit the tip of his wand, jumping when he first noticed how close Sheila’s face was to his. This was the log that he’d originally been searching for—this documented every theft that Doug committed. Harry’s eyes turned as wide as the bright moon above. “How’d you get this?”
“Doug thinks I’m an idiot. Just crazy is all. Or when I want to be is all. I had to be extra special careful. I almost lost this! Doug almost got away—but he had to go put Chucky under the Imperius instead.” Sheila spoke very quickly. “Must leave. Too long here already.” She was gone in a whip’s crack.
Knowing where his partner was, Harry left as well, his watch reading three fifty-nine. He knocked on her apartment door rather loudly, knowing she would be fitfully asleep. But she wasn’t. Not a few moments after he knocked the door was pulled ajar for him to enter. He caught a glimpse of the kitchen table littered with all sorts of papers and that piece of parchment on the pile’s top. She moved in front of his gaze lazily, her white pajamas blocking his view. “What?”
Harry showed her the book.
“I can’t believe he really has one of these.” She took it with a wide grin. He was given a hug and promptly thrust out back into the hallway. Cursing his partner and his luck, he returned home, knowing he’d have to be up in three hours. His bed was calling his name, and he knew with the Date Saver satiated he could return in full regard.
Write a Review And the American Svengali: Part Two: The Many Different Uses of Disillusionment