Chapter 17 : Leaping Lethifolds
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There wasn't a reward. I never have that kind of luck.
Mum was overjoyed to prosecute the Madame for a list of crimes longer than my arm. She was never going to see the outside of Azkaban Prison again. She gave up quite a bit about Ambrosia/Mariana, but it turned out most of it wasn't true. Joseph McBride's involvement seemed to have helped with that, along with various forged deeds and business papers giving control of most of the Madame's holdings to Mariana Peffers, whose existence only came through more of McBride's work. The Organization began to crumble with the Madame's arrest, giving Mum a slew of other criminals to put away. She'd be busy with this for months, and was happy as a clam. Dad and Uncle Harry got all the credit in the papers for the capture of a big crime boss. They usually do. The Daily Prophet loved to talk about Uncle Harry.
Whatever takeover Ambrosia had been planning seemed to have gone up in flames at the abandoned office, and once the Organization began to fall apart, it didn't look like she'd have anything much to take over. She was reported a few days later as leaving the country, but no one managed to catch her, and there was no further trace of her whereabouts. The Aurors list her as Still At Large. McBride's body turned up a week after Ambrosia disappeared. His head had been smashed in with a large blunt object. Dad and I were both betting on shovel.
Andrew kept asking for his wife. He didn't understand why she wouldn't come see him in jail, and finally my dad took him aside and explained to him what he'd done: the girlfriend, the pending divorce, the bribery and corruption. Andrew claimed he couldn't be held responsible for it now as he didn't remember doing any of it – a lawyer to the end. He seemed to fully expect things to go right back to how they were before with Dominique. She refused to take him back and is going through with the divorce. She'd decided she was better off without him and plans to write a book about her experience. I have a feeling it's going to do well.
O'Toole was fine – just a few hours in St. Mungo's and he was good as new. Mrs. O'Toole (I hadn't even known O'Toole was married – everyone but Angelo had been rather surprised by it, too. Guess he'd known all along) had decreed that O'Toole had to retire again, once he recovered from his injuries. He did one last pick-up – a Dark wizard who'd killed two Aurors and seven MLEs while escaping Ministry custody – and then retired. Again. I wasn't so sure it would stick this time. Mrs. O'Toole was bound to get tired of him again and send him back to work.
For once, my mum had swallowed her annoyance at entitled celebrity children and had a word with the Wizengamot on Lenny's behalf. The charges against Lenny were dropped. He got out with a small slap on the wrists for evading capture, and brought me all eight hundred Galleons that he'd promised, so our rent was all paid up, I had a shiny new wand, and we had a kitchen full of food. I even paid Hugo back. No one ever asked about where Lenny had been, so Scorpius and I didn't have to lie about it. Lenny was still clean two weeks after leaving our flat. I didn't know how long it would last, but I hoped it did.
The street was bustling when we arrived at the Muggle art supply store in a rather posh London suburb. Surely there were cheaper paints and canvases elsewhere. Scorpius had grown up rich, his natural default was expensive neighbourhoods. I reckoned he couldn't help himself.
Returning the Muggle portfolio didn't take long. They only gave him store credit for it, sadly, but at least he'd wind up using that eventually. It was better than nothing.
Scorpius was in a rather pissy mood, probably because returning the portfolio was making him think of the bloody agent who'd stolen all our money. I know it was making me feel annoyed with the world. But he took my hand and managed a small smile as we left the store and set off down the street. It was a lovely day, not raining for once, and we set a leisurely pace.
“My parents invited us to dinner tomorrow night,” Scorpius said as we strolled.
Ugh. Scorpius's parents don't like me. The feeling is mutual. “I suppose we have to go.”
“It's hard to dodge them for long,” he agreed. “We haven't seen them in two months. I think it's a new record.”
He was squinting at someone ahead of us, and suddenly increased his pace. I was still thinking of ways we could dodge Mr. and Mrs. Malfoy for another two months, so it took me a second to catch up to current events.
“What's going on?”
Scorpius didn't answer. He let go my hand and grabbed a man walking in front of us and spun him around.
“You!” he shouted.
I was a little taken aback. The man seemed to be too, but next moment his expression changed to fear. Whoever he was, he certainly knew Scorpius. Scorpius's face was quickly turning purple with rage.
“Mr. Barnes?” I asked.
“Bloody bastard!” Scorpius yelled. “Son of a - I ought to-” and he drew his wand, spluttering with anger.
“Scorpius!” I glanced around. “People are watching.” The last thing we needed was for someone with the surname Malfoy to be caught hexing Muggles, no matter how much they deserved it.
Scorpius appeared to regain a bit of control, because he stashed his wand in his pocket again. He kept a hold of Mr. Barnes's collar and shook him like a dog with a rat. “Where's our money, then, you bastard?”
Mr. Barnes was clutching at his neck, where Scorpius's hand twisting his tie seemed to be choking him a bit. “I haven't got it,” he gasped. “It's gone, all gone.”
Scorpius punched him in the face, and he landed hard on the pavement.
“Feel better?” I asked.
“Loads,” he said, and shook his hand. His knuckles were a bit red. “Should we take him to the Muggle MLEs?”
“Policemen,” I corrected him. All the reasons we didn't want to go to the police hadn't changed. There wasn't really any more we could do about Barnes, or whatever his real name was. I gave Scorpius a look and he seemed to understand instantly.
“Yeah, all right,” he said, glancing down at Barnes. “We may as well go, then.”
Barnes was picking himself off the pavement as we walked off. I glanced over my shoulder. Seeing Scorpius knock him down had been quite satisfying, but not satisfying enough.
I pulled my wand from my pocket and aimed it at Barnes, holding it between me and Scorpius so no one would see, and whispered a jinx.
Barnes slipped and fell, crashing back down to the pavement. I grinned.
“Feel better?” Scorpius asked, taking my hand with a grin.
When we got home, there was an owl waiting for us at the window. I didn't recognize the bird, but I recognized the Ministry seal on the letter from ten paces. Great.
“That's bound to be for you,” Scorpius said. I reckoned he could see the seal as well. “You shouldn't have done it.”
I took the letter from the owl and shooed it away without a tip. It looked hurt but flew away. “I couldn't help it.”
He rolled his eyes. “Sure, you wouldn't let me hex him, but it's all right for you.”
“I'm not from a family with a history of Muggle abuse,” I said, feeling a bit annoyed.
“Touché,” said Scorpius.
I opened the letter. It was exactly what I'd been expecting, a summons to appear before the Improper Use of Magic office for using magic on a Muggle. I supposed it could've been worse: they weren't accusing me of attacking a Muggle, after all. Still, I was going to have to call in a favour with Dad and Uncle Harry to get it taken care of. They were still so pleased about the capture of Madame Mihalek that they'd probably only need a bit of cajoling to help me out.
Someone knocked on our door then, and Scorpius said, “You may as well answer it. It's probably the Ministry coming to take you away.”
“Very funny.” I went to the door.
The man standing on the other side – accompanied by a small entourage – was one I knew very well, though he'd gone a bit to seed since the last time I'd seen him. He wore a hairy purple jacket and extremely tight leather pants, and his droopy moustache didn't quite hide the familiar-looking features. Those features had spent the last couple of weeks on my couch, eating all my cheese puffs.
It was Merton Graves, famous cellist in the Weird Sisters.
“Are you Rose Weasley?” Lenny's dad squinted at me. I noticed he wasn't wearing a shirt under the hairy jacket, just a lot of gold chains.
“That's me,” I said, trying to sound cool and not at all starstruck. Merton Graves was in my living room!
So were his bodyguards and other hangers-on. Ten people were standing in our flat now. I was glad Scorpius had picked up the dirty underwear I'd left on the floor.
Merton took my hand and gave my fingertips a damp kiss. His moustache tickled a bit. “Thanks for helping my boy, luv, it was right decent of you. You're a first-rate bird, aren't you.” He kissed my fingers again.
Holy Kneazles. “Um, no problem?”
“Mr. Graves,” one of the hangers-on said suddenly, and pointed into the corner. We all turned to look.
Scorpius's easel was set up there, and the painting of Lenny playing guitar was still sitting on it. He hadn't been sure what to do with it, so it had been sitting there since he'd finished it. I'd gotten used to it now and had sort of stopped noticing. Or maybe I'd just gotten used to seeing the real Lenny in my living room.
“Is that my boy?” Merton dropped my hand and walked up to the painting, squinting at it. One of the bodyguards handed him a pair of glasses, and he slid them on, looking down his long nose. “Leaping lethifolds. That's bloody amazing.”
“Thanks,” Scorpius said. He was grinning proudly now.
“It looks just like him. Look at the way he strums, like his old dad, isn't he. I need to have this. How much have I got on me?” Merton asked, addressing this comment to the room in general.
A small, officious-looking man at the back of his entourage gave a little cough. “Mr. Graves-”
“Give the man some gold, Smythe. I'm taking this home. Cheers, mate.” Merton picked up the painting and handed it to one of his bodyguards. “Rose, luv, thanks again for all you did for my boy. He don't deserve it, do he, all those drugs – well, bloody well done. See you around. Lovely meeting you, and all that.”
And with that, Merton Graves wandered out the front door, his entourage trailing behind him. The officious-looking man named Smythe lingered.
“Is a thousand Galleons enough?” he asked in a low voice.
Scorpius's eyes bugged out. He'd never sold a painting for more than a hundred.
Smythe seemed to take Scorpius's stunned silence as disapproval for a low offer. “Very well. Here.” He pulled a smallish leather pouch from inside his robes. “There's two thousand Galleons in there. Thank you.”
Scorpius took the bag, looking as if someone had hit him over the head. As soon as the door closed behind Smythe, I snatched the little bag from Scorpius's hand – it was much heavier than it ought to be for its size - and he sat down and put his head between his knees while I opened it.
“Oh holy Kneazles,” I breathed, looking at the gold. It was a lot of gold. I was pretty sure I didn't need to count it. Merton Graves probably handed out thousands of Galleons every day, and something told me that little man named Smythe knew every Knut Mr. Graves had. I was willing to lay odds with Angelo's bookie that there really was two thousand Galleons in there. It sure felt like it. Not that I'd ever felt two thousand Galleons before.
Scorpius was taking slow, deep breaths. After a moment, he looked up, his face flushed. “Rose... Is it really...”
“Yeah, I think it is.”
“We're going to have to get a bank vault now, aren't we,” Scorpius said, and put his head back between his knees.
A/N: The end! I hope you enjoyed the story - please leave a review - and stick around my author page, because there's going to be a spinoff coming soon. Were you wondering about Roxanne and her Quidditch player? ;)
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