Chapter 1 : Incident Reports
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Terry Boot knew he’d been working in the Ministry of Magic for too long when the highlight of his day was getting to try out his new self-inking quill.
“Works brilliantly,” he told Genevieve Winters, who worked in the cubicle beside him. “Inks like a dream.”
“I’m so thrilled for you,” Genevieve responded, shuffling through a stack of parchment. “Would you remind filing the report on those malfunctioning bidets for me?”
Terry sighed. Once upon a time, the absurdity of what he had to deal with at the Misuse of Muggle Artifacts Office was an endless source of amusement. Now, even the distinct mental image of a portly, balding middle-aged Muggle being thrown across a public bathroom due to the abnormal water pressure on a charmed bidet wasn’t enough to raise a chuckle. It was just paperwork. Endless, tedious paperwork that he would have to date and stamp and file and write reports on and send them off through the endless bureoucratic red tape that comprised the Ministry, in exchange for the Galleons at the end of the week that he really didn’t have anything to spend on.
He decided things had really gone pear-shaped when he turned thirty. Everyone else he knew was successful, thriving – hell, even his best mate, Michael Corner, had gotten married – and to one of the hottest girls in Ravenclaw during their time. Terry was stuck with the occasional blind date or temporary hopefulness associated with a new intern at the office.
“Sod this,” he muttered, throwing down his quill in a moment of impulsive rebellion. “I’m going out for a pint with Michael.”
“Have fun,” Genevieve said distractedly. Given that she was his supervisor and therefore concerned with making sure he was doing his job, it would seem that she simply hadn’t heard him properly. In truth, Genevieve was used to Terry’s occasional skiving. He was a good worker the rest of the time, and if knocking off two hours early every few weeks was enough to make him feel like a badass, she wasn’t going to burst his bubble.
Besides, there were plenty of times where she’d wanted to abandon her work and go for a pint as well. Or two. Or three. And never return.
It was generally accepted that Misuse of Muggle Artifacts was one of the most boring offices in the entire Ministry, with the possible exception of some branches of Magical Transportation. There was maybe six months worth of amusement in the comedic value of the incidents they had to deal with (or two years worth for Gryffindors) but Genevieve had been working there for fifteen years and there was nothing even remotely funny about malfunctioning toilets anymore.
Mickey Hayes, the new intern, came by her desk with a piece of parchment. “There’s been an incident in London…” he began, hovering awkwardly by her desk. “Statues. Or something. I think.”
“Stop blabbering and give me the file,” she said sharply, and Mickey tossed it quickly on her desk.
“Well, if that’s all, then I’ll be going back to, uh…” he fled.
Genevieve watched him go with mild amusement. She’d been having a particularly bad day when Mickey started, and he consequently now viewed her with something akin to terror. She wasn’t sure whether she’d bother to dispel the notion that she practiced dark magic on incompetent interns, but at any rate it kept Mickey working well and gave the others something to chuckle about, especially when anyone who knew Genevieve knew she’d been in Hufflepuff and owned five cats and a guinea pig.
She flicked through the file. Seemed somebody had charmed a bunch of statues in a graveyard in the middle of London to move around and pull grotesque faces at people. She’d be willing to bet Terry five Galleons it was Barnabas Billesby, one of a group of overly eccentric wizards who enjoyed causing trouble among the Muggles, and the only one not currently in home detention awaiting trial for minor crimes. The rest of the wizarding community called them “real characters.” Genevieve called them “real pains in the arse.”
She scowled at the report. It would mean going out and finding Barnabas, which would probably take all day. It was only two hours till knock off, and she wasn’t prepared to go overtime. With a slight smirk, she dumped the report on Terry’s desk, told Hannah Macintyre to keep an eye on Mickey, and headed for the Three Broomsticks.
John Watson was a brave man. He was a soldier, an army doctor. He’d seen action in Afghanistan. He’d had his life threatened countless times, he’d been kidnapped, beaten up, held at gunpoint and chased by an apparent giant hound with glowing eyes. But there was one word, spoken by one man, which always made his heart sink.
“Bored,” Sherlock Holmes declared.
It was almost comical, the way Sherlock had turned up out of the blue, moved back into 221B Baker Street and began solving cases again. To most, he’d never even offered an explanation as to where he’d been or what had happened to him or how on Earth he’d managed to fake his own death. John had gotten the full story – how he’d used the scaffolding on the side of Bart’s to break his fall, how Molly had changed his DNA records to match the corpse they’d found, how he’d gone into hiding while John, Mycroft and Lestrade worked tirelessly to clear his name. Posthumously, they’d thought. They were doing it to honour his memory. Little did they know that the moment they’d found the proof of James Moriarty’s existence, proven how he really was a spider in the centre of a web of crime and Sherlock Holmes was all he had been, the man himself would come back from the dead.
For the first couple of weeks, John had been too thrilled by Sherlock’s miraculous return to care about anything else. His characteristically caustic comments. Body parts in the fridge. Bullet holes in the wall. That was just Sherlock being Sherlock, and John would put up with far worse because he had his best friend back when he thought he’d lost him forever.
Now, however, he was reminded exactly how difficult it was to live with a bored Sherlock, and the resentment he’d been trying to ignore regarding Sherlock’s disappearance added fuel to the fire.
Sherlock leaped to his feet, pacing back and forth across the flat. “Dammit, John, I need a case!”
John didn’t bother to reply. It was unlikely Sherlock would notice, he’d talked to an empty room often enough – and John didn’t trust himself not to get frustrated and yell at him.
“There’s been nothing for two days, John, no murders, no disappearances—”
“Speaking of disappearances, I’m going for a walk.”
Sherlock stopped abruptly and spun around. “Where are you going?”
John ignored him, heading for the door and shrugging his coat on.
“You’re not still angry at me, are you?”
“Still angry at you? Sherlock, I thought you were dead. We all thought you were dead. For three years. And all I saw when I tried to sleep at night was you jumping off a building. Do you know what that was like, Sherlock? And then you come back, expecting me to be all fine with the fact that you lied to me, to Mrs Hudson, to Mycroft, to Lestrade, to anyone who has ever cared about you?”
“There was a sniper aiming a rifle at your head, John, there was no other way.”
“There was no sniper after you jumped,” John replied. “Or that night. Or the day after. You could have told me. Molly could have told me. You had three bloody years.”
“And then you would have told Mrs Hudson and everybody else.”
“You think I’m that bad at keeping confidences?”
“No, I know you can’t bear to watch people suffer if it’s in your power to stop it.”
John was lost for words. Occasionally, very occasionally, Sherlock made an observation about someone that showed he actually knew them, and wasn’t just reading them to show off.
In the silence, John heard footsteps coming up the stairs, and seconds later Detective-Inspector Lestrade appeared in the doorway.
“What have we got?” Sherlock asked him crisply, disguising his glee at the prospect of a case.
“Multiple disappearances. Five in the last two days, we’re looking for the connection.”
“How do you know they’re connected?”
“All from the same place. A graveyard. Few witnesses, but who we’ve got have all said they just disappeared in a flash. Didn’t see anyone or anything. Will you come?”
“I’ll be right there,” Sherlock replied. Lestrade nodded, disappearing back down the stairs, and Sherlock threw off his dressing gown with relish, reaching for his coat and scarf. “Five missing people and a kidnapper in a graveyard? We haven’t had anything this interesting since I got back!”
A/N: This is only my take on post-Reichenbach, and I know there are hundreds of thousands of theories out there. Hope you enjoy my new, ridiculously ambitious project, and please let me know what you think in a review :)
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