Cold cases are cold for a reason. The evidence is too old to follow, all the witnesses have died, or the perpetrators are too bloody powerful to be caught. There are many different reasons, and none of them are fun. Cold cases are, to most of us Aurors, the bottom of the barrel. We don’t touch them, they’re pointless.
Teddy Lupin was not most Aurors.
Three days after I’d learned of the cold case he’d been chasing, we were still chasing down leads and following up on hunches. We’d questioned the D.O.M workers a few times, but nothing seemed to be coming up.
There was no concrete evidence at the crime scene, fingerprints were easy to manipulate with magic, so they couldn’t be considered reliable. The workers hadn’t seen anything, and no one who’d seen Scraton that day was talking. He’d obviously been in over his head, you don’t turn up dead if you’re playing it safe.
“There has to be something we’re missing,” I muttered to myself, running my hand through my hair. We’d been at work for just over ten hours, and I knew I looked like a dishevelled mess. Teddy looked the same.
He gave me no response, though I had no idea what I’d expected him to say. Groaning, I heaved myself up and over to the ‘kitchen’, flicking my wand at the kettle to set it to boil. I drummed my fingers against the bench, watching as the appliance slowly started to steam.
There was something so irritating about this case. Honestly, it was just a case, I had no reason to feel so frustrated after only a few days. Just because it was a cold case, and happened to bring Teddy Lupin along with it-
I paused in my thoughts, ignoring the now whistling kettle. That was it, it was just another case.
We’d been treating it as a cold case, which it no longer was. We’d been looking for links between the past suspects and the current events when we should have been investigating a murder instead.
“Lupin?” I called, silencing the kettle and walking away.
Unfortunately, coffee would have to wait.
He stuck his head out of my cubicle, his hair ruffled in a rather adorable way, his sleeves rolled up to show off his arms.
I blinked, momentarily floored by the direction my mind had gone in. Clearly, this case was driving me insane, turning me back into a hormonal school girl.
“Yes?” he said, staring at me with wide eyes, obviously wondering why I was walking away from the coffee, and standing about like a fool.
“You’re an idiot,” I said abruptly, voicing my thoughts.
Lupin, unfortunately, didn’t know exactly what was running through my mind, so was rather confused.
“What the hell, Vic?” he said, tilting his head to the side.
My body tensed up yet again, though almost imperceptibly so. The way he was acting, with the head-tilting, the many hours spent together, the use of ‘Vic’ – it was bringing back too many memories.
Merlin, I needed to get this cased closed fast.
I waved my hand at him, already walking down towards the exit.
“We’ve been hunched over a cold case for three days, when we should have been solving a murder. Don’t you get it?” I said in a rush, kicking the door to the corridor open roughly, impatient now.
I didn’t turn to see his reaction, instead all I heard was muttering. We were half way down the corridor, my steps determined, his rather vague, when he cried out.
“Oh! God, Vic, you’re right!” he said, jumping forward a few paces to stand next to me.
The excitement of…well, not exactly a lead, but a new tact had him practically bouncing. He grinned at me, pummelling the elevator button a few more times than strictly necessary.
I shook my head slightly, holding back a laugh. Teddy had always been very well connected with his inner child.
“Ah, you’re the Aurors, yes?”
I glanced at Teddy out of the corner of my eye, and saw him doing the same. This lady, the wife of Bertram Walton, the Head of the Department of Mysteries, had evaded our original questioning. We hadn’t even thought to question her, but after my epiphany, I realised she had, in fact, been in the same year as our victim at Hogwarts.
That was enough of a connection to warrant a visit to her home.
Thankfully, she invited us in, patting her hair carefully as she did so. She eyed Teddy over, not very discreetly, which left me without any doubt that she wasn’t entirely happy in her marriage. Her home, at least what little I could see of it, was well furnished, but rather cold. It had no personal affects or photos adorning the walls or tables.
She was a neat and fashionable dresser, showing that she cared for her appearance. She was probably of considerable social standing, and as the wife of a Department Head, I knew she’d be in attendance at many Ministry functions.
Maddison Walton was not a particularly hard woman to read, it seemed.
“Would you like some tea?” she offered, as we followed her into what appeared to be an expensively furnished parlour, done up in cream and pale green.
Not at all to my taste. Darker colours, clutter and lots of books, that’s what I wanted in a room. I had no use for doilies, whereas Maddison apparently felt the need to put them under every object, and on every visible surface.
Definitely a materialistic woman who cared about appearances.
“We’d love some.” Lupin said, flashing her a smile.
I wasn’t sure if he realised what he was doing or not. The woman practically swooned at his feet every time he looked her direction. Knowing Lupin, he was either doing it for fun, or was completely unaware of it.
There was no way he’d be doing it so that we’d be on her good side for questioning. That was far too practical to be his plan.
She bustled out of the room, batting her eyelashes at Lupin several times as she did so, with a nice wiggle of her arse as she left. I snorted, and Lupin’s eyes turned to me.
“What?” he asked, seemingly genuinely puzzled.
I quirked an eyebrow at him, settling down onto a cream coloured couch as I did so.
“Are you really that oblivious to flirting these days?” I asked slyly, struggling not to laugh as his face slowly morphed into a horrified expression.
“She…you…she wasn’t flirting with me! Vic!” he whined, staring at the door where Mrs Walton had disappeared.
I gave up and let myself laugh, though I kept it quiet. If Maddison Walton walked back in at that moment, I would have had a hard time explaining myself.
“Just go with it, it might help us,” I finally muttered to Teddy, as we heard the clanging of a tea tray moving our way.
I could sense that he was shooting me yet another glare, but I focused on Maddison as she re-entered the room, pasting a dazzling smile on my face. No harm in turning on some charm of my own, right?
We waited for Maddison to get settled down, and pour us our tea. Lupin immediately picked up the cup and took a sip, and once again, I found myself struggling not to laugh as he winced as the hot liquid burnt his lips.
He’d never been particularly patient.
“Letting it cool would be a good idea,” I jibed, smirking at him.
I took a bit of a gamble, acting that way in front of a suspect, but Maddison seemed to be a fairly safe bet. She merely chuckled at Teddy’s reaction, and turned to face me.
“You knew Ray in your Hogwarts days, is that correct?” I started, leaning forward slightly in my eagerness.
“Yes,” she stated, sipping her tea delicately, “I did. He was a Ravenclaw, so we didn’t associate much, but I did know him.”
I nodded, pausing slightly in case Lupin wanted to jump in with a question of his own. Questioning like this, with two people asking, was always tricky and difficult unless you had a good rhythm with your partner.
Good rhythm was one thing Teddy and I did not have.
Apparently, I hadn’t needed to pause, as Lupin merely sipped his tea and smiled coyly.
“Have you seen him much since school?” I continued on, tilting my head slightly to the side, my mind analysing every inch of her body language and facial expression.
You never knew what could give away a lie. Sometimes it was just a small twitch, or dilated pupils. Tapping fingers or feet, a glance to the corner of the room. Often it depended on the subject being discussed.
Sometimes you couldn’t tell at all.
Maddison looked down, into her tea cup, before answering. She was stalling, I wagered.
“I’ve passed him on the street, that sort of thing. Nothing more than that, no,” she said softly, her eyes meeting mine with a smile.
Right. I was almost positive that was a lie. I looked sideways at Lupin, once again. This time, he paid attention, and stepped up to question. I sat back and let him take over, my mind still taking note of every frown, every glance, and every tense muscle.
There’s a lot more to interrogating than people think, I assure you.
We left Maddison Walton shortly afterward. I waited till we were back at the Ministry to confer with Lupin.
“How much do you bet she met up with our vic since Hogwarts days?” I muttered as we entered the floor, making a beeline for the ‘kitchen’.
I saw the corner of his mouth turn up in a smile.
“Could have been an affair, Merlin knows she’s stuck in an unhappy marriage,” he mused in reply, and I stopped dead, his words hitting me like a truck.
“You do realise…” I started out hesitantly, not wanting to voice my thoughts.
He turned to face me, waiting expectantly. I bit my lip.
“If…if you’re correct, that gives the Head of the Department of Mysteries motive,” I said quietly, well aware that there were many people around us capable of eavesdropping.
His eyes flicked to mine sharply – we both knew what that would mean. We had to be completely, utterly sure that Maddison had been meeting up with Ray, and then interrogate her about those meetings, before we approached Mr Walton. This case was a minefield.
He didn’t reply. There wasn’t much you could say, in this case. We moved in unison to the kettle, and waited for it side by side. I shifted my weight from foot to foot, antsy all of a sudden.
I had a bad feeling about this. I was certain Teddy did too, his hair was suddenly a few shades darker than it had been this morning, a tell-tale sign that he was either mad, or worried.
I was surprised that I could still notice the subtle changes about him. There was a time when I’d had his moods dialled, I’d known his every move. We’d fit.
Apparently, I hadn’t lost that completely. Sneaking a glance his way as I poured my cup of tea, I wasn’t sure if that was a good or bad thing.
There was one thing about him that I’d never figured out, and back then, I doubted that I ever would. Maddison Walton had been an easy person to read, her lies were written on her face. Teddy, whilst his hair showed his emotions on occasion, was much harder. He had a well-practiced poker face.
All the years I’d known him, since childhood, and with all the time we’d spent together, I’d never been able to tell when he was lying. It was frustrating, mysterious, and completely compelling. He’d drawn me in back then, and I’d never entirely figured him out. There was always a new corner to round.
Looking at him now, sipping his tea and quietly reading over his interrogation notes, I willed myself to be more mature. I was dating, for Merlin’s sake. I couldn’t freeze every time he uttered ‘Vic’.
It was, I decided, time to consult with others about Teddy. Lately, I’d been largely ignoring the other members of my team, as Lupin had been taking up all of my time. Kat, I knew, was highly curious about my new partner, and I was sure she, more than anyone, would be able to give me sound advice.
I slipped a note into her cubicle, asking her to come round for drinks in the evening. It was time.
Bobby, Kat and the rookie, Peakes, had been working another case these past few days. From what I’d heard around the floor, they were close to closing, so I planned on bringing them on board mine and Lupin’s case as soon as they were. Merlin knew we’d need the help, and I couldn’t deal with Lupin on my own for much longer.
Nodding firmly to myself, I resolved to put the whole mess out of my mind, and focus on working. It was, after all, what I was supposed to be doing. I rejoined Lupin at my – our – cubicle, and took my seat.