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Chapter 50 : An Expose
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Continuing with the trend of changing the POV with every chapter since 46, but be assured that we'll be returning to Katie soon (cough*nextchapter*cough). Please enjoy.
PS. I would like to point out that I am aware that in the chapter image it said ‘an eexpose.’ Obviously, it’s supposed to be ‘An Exposé’ (as in ex-po-zay, not ex-pose) but I couldn’t put in a ‘é’ thingy. Ce la vie.
Disclaimer: I don’t own anything you recognise. All rights go to the respective owners.
50. An Exposé
It seemed that, within the hours of their latest-Sabriel-facilitated plan, Albus was far less inclined to hit things. Fred Sr., despite being unable to actually visit his picture, had reported that in the few minutes he'd seen her following the Felix Felicis she'd been walking better, she hadn't been falling over, and her luck may have been turning.
He wasn't going to be jinxing anything today—not something that could go wrong so easily.
Sabriel sat beside Todd now, obviously having been crying tears that weren't just for show. She'd just lost her best friend to the person sitting beside her--and for a moment, Albus thought about what it would feel like to lose Scor, Fred or Rose.
He shook the thought out of his head quickly. He wouldn't think things like that. Not when losing Katie was suddenly not so hypothetical.
To observe her progress in the first step of their plan, on the way to the breakfast hall the four seventh years had discussed seating arrangements, so that they could remain subtle as well. Of course, upon arriving, they'd forgotten all plans and instead of sitting facing each other as they would have done normally, Fred, Rose, Scorpius and Albus sat in a snug line facing the Slytherin table.
James slipped himself into the empty four person space opposite them.
"Smooth." He observed lightly, rolling his eyes as he lifted up a fork and stabbed the numerous things that struck his appeal. Placing them on his plate, he looked back to his younger brother and rolled his eyes. "Thank Merlin you don't want to be an Auror."
Despite the seriousness of the situation, Albus frowned and looked to his brother. "Oi," he protested. "You said you'd see what you could do."
James smirked. "No, I said I'd get Tilly to see what she could do."
Albus cleared his throat hastily. "Why would I want Tilly's advice?" he scoffed, more for Scor and Fred's advantage than his.
They weren't listening anyway.
Rose made a sarcastic noise, not removing her eyes from Sabriel as she sat beside an overly sensitive Todd Williams. "Come off it Al," she sighed. "We all know you want to work at the Daily Prophet." They all continued to watch as the sobbing girl practically threw herself at Todd Williams. "God, she must want to punch him," she observed.
Scor was glowering at Todd. "She's a tough one, Sab is," he said, not quite able to keep the snarl from his tone.
James rolled his eyes, and lifted his hand. Snapping his fingers in front of them, he caught their attention.
"You guys are going to give your whole plan away before it begins. If you've got Sab on the case, than she'll do her job—let her."
All four students turned to the young Auror with bashful looks on their faces (while Scorpius convinced himself that James Potter calling his little sister 'Sab' wasn't a huge problem). James continued as he was going.
"Now," he ordered. "I need two of you, over here." He beckoned to the seat beside him.
It became quickly obvious that neither Albus or Scorpius were going to move. Quickly obvious to everyone, that is, except James Potter.
"Oi," he said, catching the blonde's attention. "You, over here—now."
Scorpius squared his shoulders, acknowledging that he was the only one at the table that wouldn't have James Potter looming over his family ties for the rest of his life.
"That," he said, gesturing towards the Slytherin table, "is my little sister, James. I don't know if you noticed but she's trying to drug a guy who we already know has no issue murdering sixteen year old Slytherin girls. I am not moving."
Running a reassuring hand over Scor's clenched fist, Rose quickly stood, with Fred following after her. She seemed to realise that walking the long way around the large table would leave far too much time for James and Scorpius to butt heads, and decided in that instant that she would go under the table.
"So," she said from beneath the table, still able to quickly change the subject. "You said that Tilly would talk to the people at the Daily Prophet?"
James sighed and put down his cutlery. Despite the large pile of food on his plate, he hadn't touched it at all.
"I did say that," he stated slowly. "But it looks like it's not going to happen." He watched his younger brother apprehensively for a reaction, but Albus's eyes remained glued on the scene at the Slytherin table. "Tilly and I have decided to part ways," James continued.
Rose, obviously the most human of the people seated around him, frowned slightly. "Oh, James that's terrible. When did this happen?"
James let out a noncommittal shrug, reaching splitting the roll on his plate and reaching for the butter. "Right before I grabbed Tyler and came here."
Rose's frown deepened. "So you haven't seen her since?"
Now, James was the one to frown, as he turned a raised eyebrow to his supposedly intelligent cousin. "Rose," he said slowly. "I had to swap jobs with Tyler. I have to tail you until this whole murder thing goes away."
Fred decided to join the conversation here. "Tyler was tailing us?"
James, who had continued buttering the roll, finally dropped the knife and lifted the food to his mouth. Taking a large bite, he nodded his head and grinned. "He was a bit more subtle."
His mouth was full, so it didn't come out as eloquently as he'd intended, but it got the message across.
"Oh Merlin," Albus groaned.
Instantly Rose and Fred moved to spin around, to see what it was that Albus had reacted to. Before they had the chance, James's arm had shot out and flattened against their backs.
"Subtle, guys." he said again. He turned to Albus. "What is it?"
“The crying chick just snogged our psychopath.” Scorpius explained bluntly.
James turned around to check it out.
“What happened to being subtle, you hypocrite?” Rose asked dryly, raising an eyebrow at her cousin.
James brushed her off with a shrug of his shoulders. “I haven’t been staring at them in unison for the last half hour,” he said. “Sides, everyone’s looking.” He moved his hand in a general loop, and upon examination, Rose noticed that most of the eyes in the Great Hall were indeed watching the girl snog Todd.
“Merlin,” she heard Sam Finnegan mutter to his brother, “I would really like to go over there and punch that guy in the face.”
In fact, a lot of people at the Gryffindor table looked to want to do that very same thing. Rose (who was certainly one of those Gryffindors) decided to shift her attention to see how Sabriel was dealing with this new development.
It seemed, passing the initial shock, Sabriel was using the moment to her advantage. Casually, she reached across to grasp Todd William’s cup—the cup was close enough to her that she didn’t look particularly dodgy to the people who was ogling the kiss—and pulled it towards her.
Aware of the people watching her, Sabriel paused for a moment before, with a fast slip of her fingers; Rose saw the flash of black liquid and a glass vial. Sabriel shifted in her own seat, leaning back against the backrest and mixing the contents slightly before moving to replace it.
“Damnit—what’s he doing now?”
Hearing Albus’s second observation, Rose looked to Todd, who had abruptly pushed the girl—a sixth year Slytherin that Rose now recognised. It appeared her friends hadn’t.
“Who is that?” James asked with a frown, watching the dark haired girl as she began to speak to Todd.
“Julie Moncur.” Fred said quickly. “We hooked up last year.”
Momentarily distracted, Rose turned her furious gaze to her cousin. “Her name is Judith Monroe you disgusting pig.”
Fred flashed her a smile.
“How’s she going to get the cup back?” Scor said urgently. “If he catches her and does anything to her I swear to god I’ll kill him.”
James whipped his head back around. “You’re dosing him with something?” he demanded.
Everyone ignored him.
Fred instead focused on his irate blonde friend. “You’re sister’s smart, you idiot. She’ll turn the situation around.”
Sure enough, Todd noticed the cup in her hands moments later, and Sabriel responded so casually convincing that she might have well been saying ”Oh, sorry, I was just dosing your drink with a potion that will expose you as a psychotic murderer.’
Then they were lifting their drinks and cheersing to something.
Williams downed the entire contents of the drink in seconds. Sabriel did the same, the trademark Malfoy smirk only barely hidden by her cup.
“You do realise that I’m an employee at the ministry, don’t you?” James demanded in a hushed whisper as he stormed after his brother, two cousins and Scorpius Malfoy. “That I could lose my job for letting you drug someone?”
The rush towards the Quidditch pitch had began with Professor Wood’s whistle indicating the half hour mark for players to warm up. As the huge herd of student pushed and shoved their way to the Quidditch pitch, it was all James could do to keep up, much less hear what was really going on.
“He’s an evil, psychotic murderer.” Albus said, as though he was the elder brother. “Don’t youwant to prove that he framed Katie?”
James scowled. “If the way of obtaining evidence is illegal, then the evidence is proved null and void. And I’m pretty sure, that vial Sab slipped him is illegal.”
There was a pause that confirmed James’s suspicions.
He let out an exasperated groan. “Guys,” he implored, “this is bad stuff. They tainted the potion black so everyone would know what it was. We’re not allowed to give it to people, anymore. It violates rights, and stuff.”
Albus rolled his eyes. “This is murder, James,” he said quickly. “This is the murder of an underage witch, by an of-age wizard on the ground of Hogwarts—and he’s also framed another underage witch for the crime. If you want this guy to go away, you’re going to have to give us some leeway.”
James let out an annoyed huff.
Emily and Eric caught up to them at that stage, both obviously having run to find them. “We saw,” Eric wheezed, as he slowed to a normal pace. “We saw her give the stuff to Williams.”
Albus nodded his head hurriedly. “We saw too. It’s time for stage two.” He turned his head quickly to Emily. “Did you convince Ty to let her come to the game?”
Em shook her head quickly, and hastened to explain herself. “He said that we should keep in mind that, no matter the actual evidence, she’s under suspicion of murder and we can’t just bring her to a Quidditch Match.”
Rose picked up the lead then, nodding with a smile. “It was really only to be expected.” She said. “I didn’t have high hopes for getting her out here—luckily, her presence isn’t necessarily required for this stage.”
James let out a groan at realising that this (now illegal) plan had more than one stage.
He was stopped voicing his protests, however, as Sabriel bumped into Rose’s shoulder harshly. Turning to snap at her, Rose barely stopped herself before realising that at Sabriel’s side was one Todd Williams.
“Scor,” Sab caught her brother’s attention, obviously her excuse for coming over to talk to them. “I’m going to sit in the box with Todd, is that alright?”
Every muscle in Scor’s face and body showed that that was bloody well not alright, but with everything on the line even he knew that this wasn’t something he would stop. If something was ruined at this stage, then Katie might not get another chance.
“Whatever,” Scor said, maintaining their brother sister relationship for show and shrugging her off. Sabriel rolled her eyes but backed off, turning and following Todd towards the teachers and commentators stand.
“Look at it this way,” Rose reassured her fuming boyfriend. “Now we don’t have to sneak Al or Fred up into the box—she got herself invited.”
Scor let out a sort of growling noise.
James let out another frustrated noise. “You’re using the best friend of the deceased to do this? Isn’t that a little—”
Scorpius silenced him with a furious look. “James,” he said coldly, “her name was Indiana. Don’t call her ‘the deceased’.”
Recognising that he may have been able to act a little more sensitive, James swallowed. “If I stand here and listen to any more of this, I’m going to lose my job,” he said throatily. “I’ll be in the box with Professor McGonagall if you need me.”
He quickly turned, leaving his brother and cousins (and Scor) in favour of the same path that Todd Williams and Sabriel Malfoy took just a few steps ahead of him.
“Thanks for sitting with me, Sabbie,” James heard Todd say to the youngest Malfoy child, as she walked, surprisingly casual, beside him. “It really helps to know you’re there for me.”
James felt the distinct urge to punch this kid in the back of the head—and it didn’t take a genius to realise that he was the last in a long line of many who felt the same way. One of those people being the blonde girl who’d harboured a not so secret crush on him for a long part of James’s own Hogwarts experience.
James frowned at the thought, deciding to instead focus on the girl that was walking ahead of him at that very moment.
The girl who, if he wasn’t mistaken, was knee deep in a mess that not many of these students really understood.
“That’s alright,” Sabriel simpered back to Williams. “I need you around as much as you need me.”
James withheld the sarcastic cough that was practically dying to get out and make itself known.
The walk to the teacher box was surprisingly faster than usual, James thought, attributing it to the multitude of other things that were on his mind this morning. After what felt like seconds he’d made his way to the wooden benches reserved for guests of the school—just near the Headmistresses place.
He sat down, making sure that he was close enough to Williams and Sabriel that he could hear what they were saying and see them both clearly.
“So,” Sabriel asked him conversely, “are you like stuck here?” She asked curiously. “Indy told me that you weren’t allowed to leave the box until the game was finished.”
Williams shook his head. “Kind of,” he replied, “I’m allowed to leave now—but if I’m here when McGonagall arrives and the box gate closes, then I’m here until the end of the match.”
Sabriel looked to be mulling that over carefully as she sat back in her seat.
James swallowed nervously.
Momentarily halting the eldest Potter in his eavesdropping came with the appearance of Professor Daniel Wood—an old classmate and friend of James’s. Daniel slapped a hand against his friend’s back, limping to his seat. Since the incident at the Malfoy mansion, the destroyed mass in Daniel’s leg had been gradually returning—but it was taking time, and it didn’t seem to be an easy process.
He looked visibly relieved as he sunk into the seat beside James.
“Hey mate,” he greeted him with a grin as he relaxed into the back of the chair. He grimaced once he was calm, pausing to send James a sympathetic look. “Its bad stuff, isn’t it man?”
James considered telling Daniel that now was really not a good time to discuss this—with the
ex-boyfriend and best friend of the recently deceased student (he would not be addressing her by her name, no matter what Scorpius Malfoy felt.)
Instead, he decided to just change the subject. With a grim smile the full extent of his answer, James looked to the still open gate of the Professor’s/Commentator’s box. “Does the game start as soon as McGonagall arrives?” James asked him.
Daniel’s brow furrowed. “It’s supposed to,” he said, “but it usually take the players a good ten minutes to get themselves organised and ready.”
James nodded, and frowned slightly. It would seem, if Sabriel was that interested, that the next ten minutes would be the ones he had to remain on high alert for.
“So,” James endeavoured to keep the conversation flowing so to remain inconspicuous. “How far away is the wedding?”
Daniel seemed grateful that James had chosen such a broad subject. With his wedding to Dominique only weeks away now, the murder couldn’t have come at a worse time. Most of his friends had gone on to become Aurors, and half of the guest list was made up of Weasleys, Potter and Malfoys. And with the lead suspect also possessing an invitation, he and Dom had seriously considered postponing the entire event.
Ultimately, they’d decided that that would only extend the sad phase that everyone was going through at that moment, and that it was better to stay with the original date.
“You have no idea, mate,” Daniel said, taking a deep breath. “I don’t think I’ve ever been more terrified in my entire life. You and Tilly are still coming, right?”
For the second time that morning, James flinched as he was asked about his recently ex-girlfriend. “I’ll be there,” he said, “but Tilly won’t.” At Daniel’s puzzled face, he expanded. “She and I have decided to part ways.”
The awkward silence that always followed a statement like that ensued for a moment, before Daniel sighed. “That’s too bad, man.” He frowned, patting his friend on the shoulder again.
James nodded, not quite sure how to respond.
“But hey,” Daniel said, recognising the awkwardness and attempting to fix it, “Ella’s coming. Maybe you’ll see her again and sparks’ll fly.”
James thought to his bad tempered, on-again-off-again, high school girlfriend for almost all of seventh year. They’d broken up when he’d gone to America for Auror training, while she’d gone to Germany to work on her Ministry portfolio.
“Yeah,” he said softly. “Maybe.”
He was interrupted in his unprofessional musings by the appearance of the headmistress. Ever elegant, Professor McGonagall had entered with Professor Levett, as they both discussed something in hush tones.
The gate snapped close.
James leaned forward, now not even attempting to listen to his friend as he craned to hear what Sabriel would do next. She was obviously ready for something, as her back straightened and she leaned forward.
“So, Todd,” she began slowly.
“Yeah?” The young man responded distractedly.
“Can I see your megaphone?”
Obviously not seeing the plan beneath the request (because who would have thought that it was secretly espionage?) Todd nodded, reaching under the seat and pulling out the large red megaphone and handing it to her.
“How does it work?” Sabriel asked innocently.
“It’s a charm that was done ages ago,” Todd said quickly, “when they started doing Quidditch Games here. Basically, it works in the same way as its muggle counterpart—but the magic makes it far clearer.”
James paused, frowning at the extensive description. Todd seemed slightly confused as well, but Sabriel didn’t pause to consider that.
“Right—and how do you make it broadcast?” She asked.
“You just twist that little knob just there,” Todd pointed to the specific point. “But it wouldn’t work for you. It’s specifically tuned to my voice—so if you said something into it, it won’t pick it up.”
“Why does it do that?”
“To prevent buzzing from the background. That’s why it’s gives a sound far clearer than a muggle megaphone.”
Sabriel paused to consider that, giving Todd the time to think about what had just happened, and giving James the chance to observe. Todd seemed confused, as he looked at his own body. It looked like he hadn’t meant to—
James winced as realisation dawned on him.
They’d given him bloody veritaserum.
Not only was the unknowing dispensation of said potion illegal in Britain, it was also illegal in most of Europe, parts of Asia and all of Australia. Even the creation of the potion had to be registered to regulate its usage.
James frowned slightly.
This would definitely lead to him losing his job.
He thought to his little brother—who he could see only faintly, and only because of the seeing tools that he’d been given to complete his task of protecting him. He was watching the box intently. He obviously knew what ‘stage’ they were at now.
But before he got angry, James thought about Katie. About all the time Al had gushed to him about her in his letters—about the moment she’d actually been introduced to him, thanking him for naming her little pygmy puff.
If losing his job meant that Katie didn’t go to Azkaban, he’d go down gladly.
It didn’t look like Todd, who’d obviously just come to the same conclusion as he had, was as invested in Katie’s future as he was.
Sabriel didn’t give him much time to vocalise his fury.
“Did you really think that I’d let you get away with it?” she hissed, matching his fury with her own. “That I’d let you frame some Hufflepuff moron for what you did?”
Todd let out an angry growl.
“You don’t know what you’ve just done.” He snarled at her.
She rolled her eyes.
“I know exactly what I’ve just done, you stupid son of a bitch. I’ve just given my best friend the justice she deserves.”
Todd let out a derisive laugh.
The laugh itself sounded insane enough for James to push himself to his feet. Keeping himself low, so as not to spook the angry man, he began to edge himself out of the row and towards the row two in front of his.
“But you haven’t, have you?” Todd scoffed. “No one knows, and no one’s going to know.”
“You don’t have anywhere to go. You’re stuck up here until the match is closed. All I have to do is ask you the question and everyone in this box will hear.”
It was only because of his Auror training that James saw Todd’s hand whip a wand—not his, because they hadn’t found that one yet—and flourish it. Moving quickly, James put himself between Sabriel and Todd and deflected the hex.
With wand out, the exchange was suddenly the centre of attention of the entire box. The rest of the school was still laughing and talking loudly—creating a dull background noise that was drowned out by the pounding in James’s ears.
But Sabriel wasn’t finished. As McGonagall and all the other teachers fell silent to watch and listen, pulling their own wands out should they be required, Sabriel smirked at the commentator.
“Get over yourself,” she hissed. “I’m a Malfoy. If I want something done, I’ll bloody well do it. Tell me Todd, what happened in the Slytherin common room three nights ago?”
Despite the obvious effort on his part, the word eventually made their way out of his mouth. “Indiana Stephens was killed, as Death Eaters tried to get into the castle.”
Everyone stopped. Even Sabriel, as we all heard the new information that we’d had no idea about. No one paid attention to the words that had been picked up by the megaphone, pushing the sound around the space an amplifying it to meet every ear.
There’d been Death Eaters in the castle?
Regaining her footing quickly, Sabriel went to ask another question. “Right,” she said. “And did Katie Dalton kill her?”
Again, Todd fought valiantly to keep himself quiet, but his resistance was futile.
“No,” he said through clenched teeth.
Sabriel narrowed her eyes at her. “And did —?”
The quick shield charm Sabriel put up saved her voice, but sent it spinning towards James. As his shout was cut off, Sabriel finished her final question.
“Did you kill Indiana Stephens?” she asked her voice suddenly deadly quiet.
The words were still ricocheting around the circular Quidditch pitch as James, Daniel, Edmund Levett and Ernie Macmillan all launched themselves at the Slytherin boy, bringing him to the ground.
I thought, in the end, it should be Sabriel who asked the questions. I get that Albus and Fred and Scor and Rose are all fighting to get Katie’s name off the line, but Sabriel was fighting to avenge the death of her best friend. I also thought that James was a good, third person character we could follow as an observer.
I hope you liked it. It’s different to my normal cliff hangers, and I feel slightly odd not finishing with something to motivate you guys to read the next chapter. For the moment, you’ve come this far, so I assumed you’ll make it to the next one (which, will be the last, my friends.)
I hope you enjoyed this chapter. (Also, sorry for the confusion regarding the Veritaserum.)
Please review and give me your thoughts.
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