Teddy and I spent a good part of the day chasing down every possible person connected to Mrs Walton and Ray Scraton. No one could specifically remember them interacting in their school days, but a few did remember seeing them talking around Diagon Alley or the Ministry. Nothing too damning, as those could easily have been innocent conversation.
Unfortunately, however, I rarely believed in innocent conversations where investigations were concerned.
I looked up from the piles of papers that littered my desk, all accounts of various interviews, to see Kat leaning against my cubicle, her arms crossed.
I sighed, knowing immediately why she was staring intently in my direction. I’d dropped her a note to have drinks after work, but Kat, of course, couldn’t wait.
“Why’d you want to have drinks?” she said hurriedly, barging into my cubicle and taking Teddy’s empty seat carelessly.
I groaned slightly, and put my quill down.
“Can’t we just leave it till later, Kat?” I pleaded. I didn’t really want to get into the real reason in the middle of the office – partly because Teddy was only just over at the kitchen, and, well, I didn’t want him hearing.
“Give me a hint,” she said, her voice rising slightly, bordering on a whine. I groaned. Both Kat and Bobby must have realised that I had history with Teddy, it was impossible to hide it. I decided to use that knowledge to my advantage, there was no way in hell I’d say it out loud.
I tilted my head slightly, nodding towards Teddy, waiting for the kettle to boil. It took Kat a moment, but we were trained to pick up on details and body language like this, and I saw her eyes widen slightly. With a smug smile, she slunk away again, and I winced. She probably thought something had actually happened between the two of us lately. That was most definitely not the case. I needed to get him out of my head, that was all. To do that, I had to spill some of my emotions out to someone, and Kat was that person, it seemed.
With another groan, I let my head fall to my desk in defeat. I was tired, stressed about what the case could possibly lead to, and on edge about Teddy’s presence. I still hadn’t had the guts to talk to my sister, or any of my family, if I was being honest. I wasn’t sure anyone other than Harry and Ron knew he’d returned – it was really none of my business, but I was curious. There was probably an upcoming family dinner in the works, as soon as we all got a break. I’d find out then what exactly they knew about his return – or indeed, what they knew about his last departure.
I jumped slightly at the sudden voice, my head flinging back as I sat upright, staring at Teddy. He was standing beside my desk, clearly back from making coffee, with two cups in his hand.
“I made you coffee,” he offered, placing said cup on my desk, before taking his seat. I blinked. He’d made me coffee, even when I hadn’t asked.
Damn it. Part of me melted as I took a sip, eyeing him in what I hoped was a subtle manner. He’d been my first love, that was just a fact. He still probably knew me better than anyone.
Well, parts of me, anyway. I’d changed since he’d left.
“Any other leads?” I asked, breaking the silence between us, and hoping to disguise my thoughts. Whilst we’d had a hit with Maddison Walton, there were many other avenues for us to explore. I couldn’t exactly say that I had any leads clear in my mind; I hoped to hell that he wouldn’t throw the question back at me if he came up blank.
“Well,” he started, “for one, I don’t buy the story that he had no friends, like all the D.O.M. employees are saying.” He paused, and my mind started to race with all the possibilities.
“A few of his co-workers knew about his research, they’re probably the ones he would have confided in,” I started, thinking out loud, “not to mention, if they did kill ‘im over the memories, they’ll also be in danger.” I paused as well, thinking back over our interviews with the vic’s closest co-workers.
In interrogations or even innocent questioning sessions, more often than not body language told us more than words did. It’s a lot harder to lie with your body than it is with your mouth. I tried to remember anyone who had acted strangely – nervous knuckle cracking, biting lips, grinding teeth, high and breathy voices, not much emotion, too much emotion. I made a grab for the session notes, my hand landing on the pile only to find a hand already there. Warm skin on warm skin, I jolted, my body flinching – but my hand didn’t move, attracted to the warmth.
I saw Teddy startle out the corner of my eye too, and it was only when he turned his face to stare quizzically at me that I realised my current place, and moved my hand away faster than if I’d had it in a dragon’s mouth, mentally kicking myself.
He scooped up the files, and I gritted my teeth. The bloody idiot made me twitchy and jumpy at the worst of times. Yet I often felt more comfortable and, well, like myself in his presence than I did with anyone else. It was a conundrum. No matter how I looked at it, he knew me. We fought like children, and we both had scars that would never heal, but he still had a fraction of a hold over me.
Focusing again, I saw that he was flicking through the files, sending the rejected ones my way. I picked a couple up and scanned, not that there was much point – he’d rejected these for a reason. My mind quickly turned to other things – namely, him. I was having a hard time focusing on anything to do with work when memories I’d tried to kill for years were popping up in my mind. He’d leave after this case, and that was what I had to focus on. Solving this case was the important thing.
I leant forward, shaking my head a little. If I wanted to get out of here at a respectable time to have drinks with Kat, I’d need to get some actual work done.
“Alright, he’d have to have some connections from school other than Maddison as well. No one goes through life without at least some acquaintances.” I stopped talking, closing my eyes as I thought over the facts. They were all scattered, unorganised. I hated this part in cases, where you had too many things to remember, too many scattered details. Recalling one thing incorrectly could be disastrous.
“I’ll make a list,” I said with firm determination as Teddy nodded, immersed in the notes. We’d find something. Soon.
I slammed my palm down on the dirty table, frustrated. Turned out, we hadn’t found anything new. As far as I could see, Scraton really didn’t have anyone in his life who had extreme motive, or even extreme insight into his life. He was an Unspeakable, after all, I should have expected it.
I had half a mind to say to Teddy that there was probably someone higher up covering for him, but I wasn’t quite game enough yet. I was running out of ideas, and that was the absolute last thing I’d try.
I’d left the office before Teddy had, a rarity these days. Drinks with Kat seemed much more appealing than the frustrated dance I was doing around our evidence, and, to a lesser extent, my feelings for Teddy.
We definitely had history. A lot of it, if I was to be honest with myself. I’d never opened up about my past relationship to my co-workers, I’d never seen the point. Watching Kat on the other side of our table in the Leaky Cauldron now, I sighed to myself. There was no way she wouldn’t pick up on the vibe between Teddy and myself, we were trained to pick up on such things. I needed someone to talk to, anyway. I’d thought briefly that Dominique was that option, but I hadn’t managed to bring myself to head over to her apartment.
Hence, Kat. I eyed my friend carefully. The dark skinned, dark haired girl was probably the closest thing I had to a friend, despite the fact that she was a few years younger than me. I hadn’t bothered to keep in close contact with any of my Hogwarts friends, preferring to throw myself into my career in a post-Teddy depression phase.
“So, um, Kat,” I started, rolling my shoulders a little to prepare myself. It wasn’t like I was going to tell her everything - just enough to make her understand, and help me out a bit.
“Yeah?” She said, her head flicking up so she was looking at me. She’d been drinking, not much, but more than I had. Biting my lip, I continued on. I was Victoire Weasley, for God’s sake, I could handle spilling this secret.
“Well, I’m guessing you’ve realised by now that I’ve got a bit of a history with Teddy,” I started, looking at her for confirmation. Other than a slight glint in her eye, she didn’t react, so I continued on, slightly unnerved. “We….well, we sort of grew up together. He teased the heck out of me for most of our childhood, actually.”
I couldn’t help but smile at those memories. They might have been hell at the time, but looking back, his antics amused me. Teddy had always been light hearted and a bit of a comedian, even from the age of five.
“When we got to Hogwarts, well, there was one occasion where he threw a shoe at me,” I rolled my eyes at that, a left over reaction from my teenage years. Kat was looking at me, perplexed, so I shrugged by way of explanation. “He was a brat.”
Yes, he certainly was a brat. I hardly ever thought about the early years, before we were even friends. We’d been almost siblings then. He’d teased me to know end, but I’d run crying to him more often than not in my first year, homesick. “We became friends, over the years. He was like a brother to me in many ways,” I summarized, leaving out the gory details. Besides, the whole point of my speech was yet to come.
“We….we sort of ended up dating,” I mumbled out after a moment’s pause. That was the crux of the tale right there. I saw Kat nod slightly – she’d been expecting that. I scratched my nose, feeling awkward. The next part was the hard part.
Thankfully, Kat took it upon herself to speak.
“You guys obviously broke up eventually, right? And it ended badly?” She asked me, and I blinked. I shouldn’t have been as surprised as I was. We were Aurors, after all, trained to fill in the gaps.
“Yeah, pretty much,” I admitted, taking another swig of my firewhisky. I’d gone for the hard stuff tonight, and I had a feeling I’d need it.
“It was me, I ended it.” Part of me wished I could say that I regretted that decision. More than anything, I wished that, yet I didn’t regret it, not one bit. Given what he’d said to me, and what he’d asked of me, I couldn’t stay with him.
Kat’s question made me close my eyes. I knew the answer to that. That moment was one I replayed in my head often, one that haunted my dreams. I’d never had a serious relationship after Teddy, and I was at a point in my life where I was wondering if the memory of my love for him would stain everything for the rest of my life. I may be dating, but I wasn’t an optimist. It wouldn’t last. Nothing ever did.
He’d thought my relationship with him was going to last, but I hadn’t thought that far ahead. I’d been focused on myself, and on my first years as an Auror. He’d been focused on me. Funnily enough, it didn’t last, and that was the start of my pessimism.