With a thud, a case file hit my desk, making my coffee cup wobble dangerously. I shot a glare at Putton as he walked away, before turning to sigh at the case file.
“What ‘choo got?”
Bobby Brown, second year Auror, had his head poking into my cubicle, his eyes practically popping out of his head at the thought of a new case.
Bobby, Kat, whose cubicle was on the other side of mine, and I had been partnered together for a year now. Kat’s been an Auror for three years, whilst I’m the team leader with 5 years under my belt. Bobby’s the baby, but you’d never know it from the way he acts. He’ll constantly stick his nose into everyone else’s business.
Kat poked her head around her cubicle as well at the mention of a case. With both of them waiting, I had no choice but to open up the case file. If I was to be completely honest, the last thing I wanted was a case. It was a Friday afternoon, getting a case now almost guaranteed weekend work, which was never fun.
Plus, I had a date tonight, and I’d rather not have to cancel.
I quickly scanned the first few lines of the case file, and involuntarily tensed up.
That one word changed the whole meaning of this case. It wasn’t a robbery on the street, it wasn’t a black magics trade. It was internal, something within the Ministry itself. I’d only ever had one internal case before, and it ended up being a legal mess, with Internal Affairs lawyers from down the hall swarming all over it.
A few other words stood out to me on the page. Murder, Department of Mysteries, Ray Scraton, which was the victim’s name.
I refrained from slamming the case file shut, ignoring my overwhelming instinct to run. This was bound to be messy.
After scanning the first few pages, I handed the file to Bobby, and turned to face Kat, who looked like she had something to say.
“We’ve got a rookie today,” she said, her nose crinkling slightly in disgust.
I can’t say I was all that pleased either. Rookies were the trainee Aurors, fresh out of Hogwarts in most cases. They spent their time either in training sessions, or shadowing us proper Aurors on cases.
“Well, they got lucky, we’ve got a juicy one,” I said, nodding to the case file, which Bobby was now passing over to Kat.
Kat scanned it, her brow quickly furrowing as she moved down the page.
“Merlin,” she said, visibly gulping.
“We better get up to the D.O.M. before they head home for the night,” Bobby said, and I winced. A long night was surely ahead of us.
I heaved myself out of my chair (leather, spins nicely, though occasionally likes to squeak, good for racing up and down the strip between cubicles - funnily enough, that was Uncle Ron’s idea) and looked from Kat to Bobby.
“Where’s the newbie?” I asked, and Kat gestured to small kitchen we had against the wall.
Really, it hardly deserved to be called a kitchen, it was merely a few counters, a sink, a kettle and a bin.
Standing in the ‘kitchen’ was a short blonde, her hair in pigtails, wearing a skirt. Merlin, what self respecting Auror wears a skirt? We almost never wore official department robes in here, Uncle Harry was quite against those. We didn’t have any set uniform at all, but most of us wore respectable work pants. Us women never wore skirts. Whoever this newbie was, she’d sure learn quick.
“Name?” I muttered to Kat, as we headed towards the ‘kitchen’.
“Peakes,” she replied, and I nodded.
When we were only a few paces away, I stopped, and crossed my arms, just to see more menacing and powerful.
“Peakes? Time to go.” I said firmly, my voice carrying easily across the floor.
Peakes turned, and I found myself momentarily stumped. Those of us who were female on this floor never exactly flaunted that fact. It wasn’t sexism, it was simply practicality. We had no need for frills, jewellery or pink.
This girl, however, knew none of that. She had a nice little hair clip pinning her fringe back, her eyes were rimmed in a respectable, but still unnecessary amount of eye-liner, and she’d coated her lips in lipstick.
I blinked a few more times, before recovering. Good God, I felt like a beast next to this girl. I might have been tall, thin and naturally blonde (dyed brunette, I might add), but I didn’t appear feminine. I’d bet my wand that as soon as the first bloke hits on this poor girl, she’ll soon learn the unofficial dress code and lose the feminine accessories. That’d been me, once upon a time.
Her face lit up with excitement at the thought of going on a real case, and I couldn’t help but roll my eyes, just a little. Without another word, I swept out of the office, narrowly avoiding knocking a stack of papers off someone’s desk. Sweeping out of places really did require quite a lot of effort, I must say.
As soon as we were out of the office, the questions started.
“Where are we going?” Peakes asked, her voice high and girlish, exactly what I’d expected.
I didn’t answer, instead pushing the appropriate button in the lift, more than accurately showing her the answer. I couldn’t help but glance at her out of the corner of my eye. She was young, and green. I hoped to high hell that she wouldn’t screw up this investigation for us.
“You’re Victoire Weasley, aren’t you? Head Auror Potter’s niece?” she asked, and I groaned.
That was one of the first things most people asked me when they joined the department. It was also the question that irritated me the most. Working for my Uncle was far from easy, especially considering Uncle Ron was a Senior Auror as well. Over the years I’d had more than one person accuse them of sliding me cases, allowing me to do things others wouldn’t get away with. I’d proven them all wrong in time, of course.
Hell, I’d always proven them wrong. When I’d joined, I was the pretty blonde piece of ass. Now, my blond hair was in a tight bun, my shirts buttoned up almost to the collar, and if anyone looked at my ass, well, I was quite good at casting Aunt Ginny’s favourite Bat Boogey Hex.
“Yes, I am. Now, please shut up,” I snapped, quite aware that I sounded like a bitch, and not at all perturbed by that fact.
I heard Kat snort with laughter quietly behind me at that.
“Department of Mysteries,” the voice announced, and we all piled out into the corridor.
The department was as silent as usual, and I couldn’t shake the bad feeling I’d had ever since opening the case file. This whole floor gave me the shivers.
We headed through the door at the end of the corridor, and I head Peakes gasp at the interior of the D.O.M. The rest of us were at least professional enough to not show our feelings.
There were several employees milling around, one talking to a man in a dark coat over in the corner. Since all the employees here wore Ministry issue robes, I could easily see that the man in the corner was in charge. Without batting an eyelid, I headed over there, intending to interrupt whatever conversation was occurring.
“And the last time you saw him was yesterday, correct?” the man in the dark coat was saying, concentrating on the conversation.
Something in his voice made me pause in my step. My eyes moved from the man in charge to Mr. Dark Cloak, and I took in the dark hair and pale skin that I could see of him. He was facing away from me, so I had no further details.
My biggest concern, however, was that he was questioning my suspect. That would not do.
“Auror Weasley,” I interrupted, sticking my hand out for the man in charge to shake.
He blinked, his attention quickly shifting from the man to me.
“Er..uh, Bertram Walton, Department Head,” he said shakily, grasping my hand in formality.
I smiled grimly at him for a moment, before turning my head to the man next to me, fully intending on telling him to get lost. This was my case, and I didn’t need some bloke poking around in it. I half expected him to be a member of the press, it was definitely the sort of thing they’d do.
This bloke, however, was no reporter. My eyes met his, and I knew, without glancing at the rest of his visage, who he was. I froze, and I heard Bobby mutter to Kat. They’d both noticed my change in stance.
“Teddy Lupin, Auror Office, Investigations Department,” he said, the corner of his mouth quirking up in a smirk, his hand extended out to shake mine.
All I could to was gape at him like an idiot. How professional.
“I believe, Miss Weasley, that this is in fact my case, not yours,” he continued on smoothly, and I didn’t need to turn around to know that Bobby and Kat were watching him floor me with wide eyes.
I closed my mouth after a moment, well aware that Mr Bertram Walton, Department Head, was staring at me, looking slightly confused.
“Unfortunately, Lupin, the case was put on my desk, not yours. Actually, if I remember correctly, you no longer have a desk,” I retorted, blushing slightly because of the hesitation it had taken me to come up with the comeback.
I’d been surprised, but it was still inexcusable.
Lupin narrowed his eyes at that, his gaze zeroing in on the case file clutched in my grip.
He glanced between it and my face a few times, before turning to take in the rest of my team. He cocked his head slightly, and I waited. The ball was in his court, after all.
“Would you excuse us a moment, Mr. Walton,” he said, turning, not to me as I expected, but to the Department Head, and giving him an apologetic smile.
Apologies were not something I’d ever seen Teddy Lupin give easily, so I watched him cautiously as he turned back to me and my team.
“Of course, of course,” Mr Walton said hurriedly, and scurried off to deal with a distraught looking employee.
I locked gazes with Lupin.
“It’s my case,” I said, well aware that I was now standing firm on a case I’d previously groaned about having to take. Trust Lupin to bring out my competitive side.
“I think you’ll find, if we ask Uncle Harry, that it’s my case,” Lupin said quietly, obviously not wanting to draw attention to the fact that Uncle Harry had some say in this case.
Lupin calling Harry ‘Uncle’ made me start a little - as far as I knew, Lupin hadn’t seen any of the family for months. He’d certainly stopped speaking to me several years ago. Being out on assignment, as his role in Investigations had required of him, made it hard to keep ties.
The fact that he was a right jerk hadn’t helped, I might add.
“Why would Uncle Harry give it to you, you haven’t even been here,” I said, my voice dropping in volume. I sensed Bobby, Kat and Peakes shuffle a little closer to eavesdrop.
“I suggest you go ask him,” Teddy said, a smug smile on his face. Whatever was going on here, he was enjoying it. He had the high ground, after all. Clearly, he knew something I didn’t.
I sniffed slightly, thrusting my chin in the air, a defensive gesture I had a habit of doing whenever I felt inferior.
“Fine. But you’re coming,” I retorted, trying my hardest not to sound childish, and failing miserably.
Teddy’s smile didn’t waver at that, and he followed me and my team out of the department and to the lift without complaint.
I hadn’t even questioned a single suspect yet, and this case was turning out to be one of the weirdest I’d ever worked on. Lupin, an investigative officer, back from assignment and specifically given this case? I didn’t like the look of this at all.