Chapter 5 : Destructuralism
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I stopped in my tracks for a moment.
There was no point Flooing Lydia until morning. I wasn't going to be able to find out a damn thing for a few more hours. I hadn't the slightest idea how to look into him myself, so I gave it up and headed upstairs.
Heckie Shanahan would have to wait, and so would I. I hated waiting.
Scorpius was wearing his best Muggle clothes when I got to the room, pacing and looking impatient, and Ramses was sound asleep. The sitter that Yuvia had arranged for us was also there, a young witch with extremely purple hair. I wondered if she was a Metamorphmagus like Teddy Lupin, or if she just charmed it that colour like my cousin Molly, who often sported green hair.
“Where the hell have you been, Rose?” Scorpius demanded. I took in the button-down shirt and tie, the hair neatly braided down his back, and belatedly remembered that we were supposed to be having dinner with Yuvia Sandstone that evening.
“What time is it?” I asked, grabbing a dress out of the wardrobe.
“You have about ten minutes.” He followed me into the bathroom and watched as I changed and attempted to throw on eyeliner and lipstick. “You forgot, didn't you.”
“Of course not. I'm just running late, that's all.” I swiped on some mascara while trying to give him my trustworthy smile and nearly stabbed myself in the eye.
Scorpius sighed. It was a wonder he hadn't given me up as a bad job already.
“How's the sitter? Does she seem all right?”
He nodded. “She seems responsible. Ramses liked her.”
Ramses probably liked the purple hair more than anything. He was quite fond of that sort of thing. Sometimes Teddy Lupin changed his face and hair to entertain the children, and Ramses always clapped when Teddy did his hair in a rainbow.
“Where were you?” Scorpius asked again, leaning against the doorframe. “You were investigating that murder. Don't bother lying again, I know you didn't go to the store.”
“I might have done,” I pointed out. He gave me a look, so I admitted, “But I didn't. I was trying to find out a bit more about that murder, all right?”
Scorpius watched me apply lipstick, looking as if he were struggling internally over something, and then finally asked, “So what did you find out?”
“Not much really. I found the home of the murder victim and tried to speak to the family. Met the judge, but he wouldn't tell me anything.”
I was going to add that the judge's wife had given me a lead, but Scorpius glanced at his watch and asked if I was ready yet, so I decided to keep it to myself for now. I didn't really have anything to tell him, anyway, I reasoned as we left for the restaurant. The sitter, whose name turned out to be Kenya, pulled out a book as we left and sat down to read. My cousin Dominique's face smiled up at me from the front cover.
The restaurant wasn't far off, and I led the way with Scorpius holding my arm as we Apparated. He'd got his license, of course, but I had always been stronger at Apparition than he was, and he didn't seem to mind. He didn't seem annoyed with me any longer, and took my hand as we walked inside.
Yuvia had a table at the front, right in the window, and waved to us when she saw us. We made our way over and took our seats at the large round table she'd secured. We were the last ones there, but no one seemed at all concerned. Scorpius shook hands with a tall, dark-haired man wearing a bright orange suit, cut with wide lapels; both of them smiled and exchanged greetings. Clearly they had already met.
“This is Yuvia's husband, Quincy,” Scorpius told me then. “I met him yesterday at the gallery. Quincy, this is my girlfriend, Rose Weasley.”
Quincy seemed nice enough, and undertook the rest of the introductions. There was a sharp-faced financier named Nicholas Spitznogle and his dark-haired ballerina girlfriend Bronislava. She spoke with a Russian accent, and Nicholas was holding a martini glass that was clearly not his first of the evening. Next to them sat Paulina Swanscott, a witch in her forties who was apparently a rather famous Manhattan socialite. I thought I recognized her from a few issues of Witch Weekly, and she mentioned several times during the evening how much she adored London and Paris and the pureblood communities there. I didn't much like her. She seemed to quite like Scorpius, probably because his relatives were practically socialites as well.
The other person in our party was a performance artist that Yuvia spent twenty minutes raving about. Haven Lockwood had her blonde hair in long dreadlocks, decorated here and there with a painted bead or a small coin, and had recently spent four days in her underwear locked in a glass box over Radio Row.
“I was demonstrating the postsublimation of the paradigm of sexuality in destructuralism,” she explained to me.
Scorpius coughed into his napkin to hide his laughter. Everyone else looked rather impressed. The waitress brought a round of drinks then, and Yuvia started talking about Scorpius's gallery show, much to my relief. I had no idea what any of those things Haven had said actually meant, but I could probably fake my way through a conversation about Scorpius's art.
“We're all very excited for the show,” Yuvia was saying. “It's going to do extremely well. The perfect thing for the current New York scene. The intricate detail, the fascinating faces, the bucolic landscapes – it's just what we need after the recent trend toward the abstract.”
“One can't simply buy abstract portraits for one's home,” Quincy put in. “They need a Silencing Charm or they keep yelling at you about why their face looks so weird.”
“Bet that makes for a terrible gallery show,” I remarked, and Scorpius winked at me.
“I've never cared for abstract art,” he said. “I always try for the best realism possible.”
“Abstract art is useful.” Haven's face was intense, and she brushed her dreadlocks off her shoulders as she leaned forward, elbows propped on the table. “It can show so much more than realism ever could. It's why art always moves back to the abstract.”
“Realism can have just as much meaning,” Scorpius argued. “Meaning is ascribed by the viewer, not the artist. We can't control how much, if any, meaning is found in our art.”
“Of course we can,” said Haven. “I always hand out pamphlets.”
Scorpius laughed. I listened quietly, sipping my drink, as they went on discussing meaning in realism and the abstract, and watched Scorpius's face. He looked so happy, talking art with other artistic people. Nicholas and Paulina both joined in, and knew rather a lot about art as well. Nicholas was a collector, and Paulina liked to be part of the scene so she bought art. Bronislava the ballerina was quiet, nursing her whiskey sour. Probably she didn't know much about art either.
The return of the waitress derailed the art conversation, and after she'd gone again, Paulina turned to me.
“You said your name is Weasley, didn't you?” she asked. “Are you related to Dominique Weasley, the author?”
Bloody Dominique. “She's my cousin, yeah.”
“I just adored her book. Such a terrible tragedy she went through.” Paulina put a hand to her chest and fluttered her lashes in exaggerated sympathy. “You must be so proud of her.”
“Erm, yeah, she's brilliant. All my cousins are,” I added, not wanting to focus too much on Dominique, since she was probably my least favourite cousin and I couldn't speak about her book without rolling my eyes. I suppose it had been tragic when her husband left her, had his memory erased, and tried to pretend it had never happened, but she'd been so pompous about becoming a famous author that I couldn't entirely feel sorry for her.
“Do you have a large family? I understand the Weasleys are quite a prominent pureblood family in England. Particularly since Harry Potter married into the family.” Paulina regarded me with wide, innocent eyes.
I nodded. “Oh, there's rather a lot of us. I've got eleven cousins, and that's just my first cousins. Uncle Harry and my dad have been best friends for about a billion years. He's married to my dad's younger sister,” I added, because it was expected of me. Everyone wanted to hear a bit about my uncle Harry. Apparently he was even famous in America. At least he wasn't annoying about it like Dominique.
“We have our own prominent wizarding families here in New York,” Paulina told me. “The McCreights, the Armisteads, the Ellerys-”
My heart jumped a bit. I might not be able to find out more about Heckie Shanahan just now, but maybe I could get some gossip about Judge Ellery and his family. Something told me Paulina would be only too happy to share what she knew. “The Ellerys? Weren't they in the paper this morning?”
“Oh, yes. Poor old Greyson.” Paulina's face became a picture of distress, though I noticed she was careful not to arrange her expression in a way that might cause wrinkles to form. “I've known him since I was a girl, you know. His family is one of the oldest and wealthiest wizarding families in New York. Such a shame about young Noah. Lovely boy. All the Ellerys are very well-regarded.”
“Not sure you could say that about Wyn Ellery,” Nicholas put in, tossing back his drink.
Paulina waved a hand dismissively. “Nothing was ever proven. Wyn is the eldest brother,” she added, glancing at me and Scorpius. “He had a bit of trouble not long ago when he won the election, the Magical Congressional Fourth District race, some silly accusations of misconduct-”
“I think the word you're looking for is fraud,” said Nicholas.
“Nothing that anyone who's anyone was concerned about,” Paulina shot back.
“Yes, because dead people voting is nothing to worry about.” Nicholas rolled his eyes. “Not that you purebloods care, always covering for each other. Rumors of mob involvement-”
“Wyn would never associate with people like that,” said Paulina hotly. “All right, he may not be as good a man as his brother-”
“Wyn Ellery is a son of a bitch.”
“Nicholas!” Bronislava slapped the table with the flat of her hand, making the glasses jump. “You promised you would not talk politics at the table. You always fight with everyone.”
“She started it,” Nicholas muttered childishly, but he winked at his girlfriend.
Paulina gave him a baleful eye for a moment, but recovered quickly, and turned back to me with a restrained smile. “Greyson Ellery is a good man, and he's done a lot of good for the magical population of this city. He's put away some of the worst criminals the city has seen. Gangsters, murderers, Dark wizards, racketeering and money laundering – Charles Rocke is serving life at Montain thanks to Greyson's sentencing.”
The others nodded, but I hadn't the faintest idea who Charles Rocke was. Scorpius looked a bit confused too, and Quincy hurried to explain.
“Charles Rocke was a mob boss. All sorts of trouble in the city when he had power. And Montain is the high-security wizard prison in the Upper Bay. It's visible from the Statue of Liberty, actually. The Muggles can't see it, of course. It's where the worst of the worst go. Charles Rocke was definitely one of the worst of the worst.”
“Just the sort of person Wyn Ellery is friends with,” Nicholas added.
“Well, anything his brother may or may not have done is not his fault. We can't help who we're related to,” said Paulina peevishly.
“Yeah, just look at your cousin Louis,” Scorpius joked, nudging me, and I grinned.
“True. My cousin Louis is sort of infamous,” I explained. “He has absolute crap taste in women.”
Scorpius and I spent the next ten minutes telling Louis stories, which had everyone laughing as we ate our dinner. The food was excellent, and not just because Yuvia was paying. Louis probably wouldn't be able to show his face in the art circles of New York after this, but Louis could find his sort of women anywhere he went, so I wasn't bothered. The stories about him eased the tension that had been building, and we were able to finish out the dinner without Nicholas and Paulina getting into another argument. She seemed to take his comments on the Ellery family quite personally, probably because she was friends with them and because her family was the same sort of old pureblood family that they were.
Haven and Yuvia went back to debating art with Scorpius toward the end of the meal. I kept quiet and let them talk, and thought about the Ellerys.
Judge Ellery sounded like quite a good fellow, but his brother was starting to interest me more. Rumors of mob involvement, Nicholas had said. Maybe it was the elder Ellery brother who had somehow caused Noah Ellery's murder. Would the mobsters kill his nephew for something he did? Did he not have children of his own? Or was the judge somehow involved as well? I still thought he knew more than he'd said, but was it that he knew his brother was somehow involved or something more specific? I wasn't sure.
And where did Ambrosia fit into all this? She'd had at least two years to build up a new identity in New York, and somehow I didn't think she was going to settle for the lower rungs of the mob ladder here any more than she had in London. She'd been preparing a hostile takeover of one of the biggest criminals in the United Kingdom's magical population, a top ten on the Auror's Most Wanted list. Maybe she was doing the same thing here. Charles Rocke had been put in prison for the rest of his life. What had happened to his criminal organization? Maybe Ambrosia was taking it over the way she'd tried to do to the Madame's. If Judge Ellery had put Charles Rocke away, was he working with Ambrosia? Somehow I didn't think so, but his brother was apparently a bit crooked. Maybe he was as well.
Of course, Louis was absolutely ridiculous and Victoire was the sanest person I knew, so being siblings with a maybe-crooked politician didn't necessarily mean Greyson Ellery was a dirty judge.
I still didn't know how Heckie Shanahan fit in, either, or why Cornelia Ellery had given me the name. I checked Scorpius's watch, tilting his wrist a bit to see the time. It was nearly one in the morning. By the time we returned to the hotel, I might be able to Floo Lydia and catch her as she was coming into work.
Quincy noticed me checking the time and misinterpreted the reason. “It's getting late, especially for our key-lagged friends here, I think. It must be almost morning in London. We'd better call it a night. You two go on, Yuvia and I will get the check, like we said earlier.”
We said our goodbyes then, and I tucked my hand in the crook of Scorpius's arm as we left the restaurant.
“Are you tired?” he asked. “Or were you just ready to leave?”
“I'm not tired,” I assured him. My head was too full of speculation about American gangsters and crazy blonde murderesses with shovels to be tired.
“Good. Because Ramses will still be sound asleep when we get back to the hotel.” He leaned down to whisper a few suggestions in my ear, and his warm breath sent a shiver down my spine. He brushed my curls off my neck and pressed a kiss there.
“Hold my hand,” I told him. “I'll Apparate us back.”
We rushed up to our room, sent the babysitter home in short order, and jumped into bed.
Two hours later, Scorpius was sound asleep, but as exhausted and happy as I was, I couldn't seem to fall asleep. I sat up and looked down at my boyfriend, who was snoring lightly, sprawled out on his back. He probably wouldn't notice if I got up and made a quick Floo call to Lydia. Scorpius was generally in a near-coma state at times like this. After times like that, I should say.
I slid out of bed, dressed quickly, and went downstairs to the lobby. It was nearly three o'clock in the morning, but there were still quite a lot of people there. I went up to the desk clerk and asked about International Floo calls.
“We have a grate in the guest services office that's set up for International calls,” the clerk told me. “It's two Troys per minute though.”
I wasn't good with currency exchange rates. “How much is that in British wizard money?”
He looked blank. “Um, I think there's about an even rate between Lions and Galleons right now. I don't know how the Troys compare to Sickles though. There are eight Troys to a Lion, if that helps.”
Troys were worth more than a Sickle then, because there were seventeen Sickles in a Galleon. I tried for a moment to do the maths in my head, but gave up. Maths had never been my strong point. I really needed Lydia anyway. Surely we could spare a couple of Troys, however much they were.
Fortunately Lydia was already in the office, setting her things up for the day. She looked surprised to see me in the Floo.
“Hi Rose! Are you all right? How's New York?”
“Fine. This is costing a ton though, so I have to be quick. I need you to look into someone named Heckie Shanahan. Can you do that?” Belatedly it occurred to me I ought to look into the Ellerys more as well. “And Wyn Ellery. Whatever you can find on him and his family.”
She nodded, her face bewildered. “Okay.”
“I'll Floo you back in the morning – afternoon – in a few hours.” I smiled at her. “Thanks, Lydia.”
“Sure, no problem.”
I thanked the desk clerk on my way out and hoped Scorpius was still asleep. When I got back to the room, opening the door as quietly as possible, I slipped out of my clothes and back into bed. Scorpius rolled over and threw an arm over me, pulling me close.
“Mmm,” he mumbled, his lips against my shoulder.
I wiggled a bit to get comfortable, and he snored in my ear.
The next morning, Scorpius poked his head in while I was in the shower.
“I'm taking Ramses downstairs for breakfast. He's getting too fussy to wait.”
“I'll meet you down there,” I told him.
“Want me to make you a waffle?”
“Yes.” I tossed the washcloth at him. “Go away, stop staring at me.”
“I like staring at you.” He grinned and left, and I could hear him chatting to Ramses and then the door closing.
I rinsed off as fast as I could and got dried and dressed in record time. My hair was still damp as I rushed downstairs to the guest services office. The hotel employee manning the room set up the Floo for me for an international call, and I stuck my head in the green flames.
“Angelo's Magical Bonds, London!”
Lydia spun into view, sitting at her desk. She grinned when she saw me and hurried over, a folder in her hands. “Hi Rose! I have a few things for you on those names you gave me. I reckoned this was fastest, since international Floos are pricy.” She handed me the folder, and it flared green as I took it. “Angelo doesn't know I was doing a side project for you, so you better go before he catches me. You know how he is when he thinks we're wasting his money.”
“That's okay, I have to go before Scorpius catches me,” I told her with a grin. “Thanks Lydia, you're the best.”
“I know.” She waved at me. I pulled my head out of the flames and the world swam for a minute as the office spun out of view and the hotel appeared around me. Floo calls are disorienting, especially international ones.
I tucked the folder into my handbag and hurried off to meet Scorpius in the dining area. Ramses was eating toast soldiers when I got there, and chirped “Mama!” as soon as he saw me. I bent to kiss the top of his fluffy red head as I sat down.
“Today is the gallery show,” Scorpius announced, handing me a cup of tea. “But I don't have to be over at the gallery until six to make sure everything is in order.”
The gallery show wasn't until nine. He really didn't need to be there until then. I gave him a look. “I'm sure Yuvia will have everything ready.”
“I know. I just want to make sure, that's all.”
He was nervous, I realized. It was adorable. I smiled at him and leaned over to kiss him. “Everything's going to be wonderful. I bet you sell every painting.”
He smiled ruefully. “I hope so. Thanks, Rose.”
“Let's go see that Muggle statue today,” I suggested. The ferry ride out to the statue would give me time to read the file from Lydia. Scorpius was bound to be annoyed, but there was nothing for it now.
Ramses cheered with glee when he saw the ferry boat. Scorpius didn't look too chuffed, but he climbed aboard anyway. We were surrounded by Muggles, and since we couldn't talk about the usual things we talked about in case we slipped and mentioned magic, we talked about Ramses. After a little while, Scorpius went to change Ramses's nappy, and I pulled the file out of my purse as soon as they were out of sight.
Lydia had written a few pages of notes on the Ellery family. Most of it was things I'd heard last night from Yuvia's friends, but there was more detail on Wyn Ellery's electoral fraud. He'd been accused of everything from bribing the counters to having his cronies vote multiple times under assumed identities. He'd gotten away with it, it seemed, but the general tone of most New York witches and wizards seemed to reflect Nicholas Spitznogle's views: that Wyn was a crooked politician who would do anything he had to do to get elected. He was not as well-liked as his brother. Greyson Ellery tried to live up to a higher standard, to be a better man. He seemed to genuinely love his wife and children, and was known for judging the sort of cases that garnered death threats. He didn't let it deter him, and set his judgements how he felt was best. I rather liked the judge, actually. He reminded me a bit of my parents. That was probably biasing me in his favour, but what Lydia had turned up seemed to support my opinion.
There was a newspaper clipping of one of the judge's ongoing trials. The defendant was an accountant accused of money-laundering for the mob, an accountant named Heckie Shanahan. Lydia had circled his name. He was out on bail pending his next trial date, which was scheduled for next week. It would probably be postponed now thanks to the murder of the judge's son. I wondered if that was why Ambrosia had murdered Noah Ellery. Surely there were better ways of getting a trial moved to a new date. Murdering the judge's family members seemed extreme.
A note stuck on the clipping of Shanahan's trial said that Lydia had been unable to find out much else about him.
“What is that?” demanded Scorpius's voice.
I looked up to see him looming over me with Ramses in his arms. He craned his neck to read the papers. I saw realization settle over his features quickly, and he gave me a stern look.
“Rose, we're on holiday. You're not supposed to be working.”
“This isn't work,” I insisted, stuffing the folder back in my handbag. “Nobody's paying me to do this.”
Scorpius sat down next to me, and Ramses immediately crawled into my arms, tugging on my hair as he pulled himself upright to stand on my lap. “Seeing this statue was your idea, Rose.”
“I know it was. And it'll be fun, I promise.” I pulled a lock of my hair out of Ramses's little fist. “A family day out, looking at famous landmarks, right?”
And while we were out in the Upper Bay, I'd get a glimpse of Montain, the American wizard prison for high-security criminals. Hopefully soon Ambrosia would be seeing it from the inside.
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