A/N: this is a bit of a putting pieces together and characterization chapter, which I blame the wordiness on nano. Thoughts and comments appreciated, can't wait to upload more!
Chapter 2 - A Gloved Magic-less Suspect
Dominique’s spoon unnecessarily chinked against his mug as he turned his finger for it to keep turning. The smoke had long stopped dancing above his tea, but his thoughts where still whirling in the air.
It should never be subject of surprise for someone to be left with numerous unanswered questions when around Teddy, but Dominique had never been particularly troubled by him. Yet and despite the good looking Hit Wizard’s haughtiness, it was true the case didn’t seem to be one of much complexion, and that there hadn’t been a real need of calling a consultive detective.
But it had been Uncle Harry’s decision to bring Teddy in the case, and with all the family’s anecdotes, Dominique was mostly certain that his recklessness had faded with time. So maybe this was just part of the training? A lesson to not being attached to the victims and their families probably. But how could that ever be possible, Teddy himself being the family to war victims...
A soft knock on the door was enough to get him out of his pondering, leave his creaking chair with numb hands of holding a cup for too long and head to the door. A cold waft cut his breath short as the guest started, taking a step down before looking up.
“Dominique,” he sighed.
“Don’t worry, I haven’t seen Vic in a while. She mentioned some ‘Strawberry Hill’, but I’m not sure if the loud crack I heard was her apparating, or managing to take out a book from her dusty abandoned library,” he laughed, obviously enjoying his reading a detective’s mind.
“Of course,” the other chuckled, shaking his head and mechanically shaking snow off his boots. He didn’t know, but it rarely snowed in Shell Beach, if ever. “Can I...?” he nodded forwards.
“Never,” Dominique mocked him, stepping aside to let him in the warmth of Shell Cottage.
He took his cold tea and pulled a chair from the chimney back to the table near Teddy.
“No thank you, it won’t be for long,” he said, looking through the window to the dark sea of silver snowflakes, shining with the moon.
Dominique, who was already in the kitchen, walked back to him and softly leaned over the door-less doorframe. He started warming his tea again with wandless magic as he inspected the guest.
“My parents are with Louis, visiting some friend of his,” he ventured, curious as to what had brought him there that night.
“Well then I guess I should just come back later,” he smiled, still not fully looking at Dominique. “Unless...”
“Unless?” he pressed. “You know I’d love to help you.”
Teddy shook his head again, but took the seat Dominique had previously offered him, causing the latter to internally jump in excitement.
“I,” Teddy started, tiredly resting his head on his boney hand. “I shouldn’t get you into this,” he decided.
Dominique frowned, but before arguing he sat down in front of him and carefully placed his full mug on the table. He raised an eyebrow as Teddy furrowed his, then crossed his arms over his chest. One did not simply win an argument with a Ravenclaw, he needed conecntration.
“Maman can’t keep me in a safe sugary shell forever, you know? I’m of age and, besides, this doesn’t seem all that dangerous.”
He didn’t mention the possible psychological wounds of dealing with a psychopath, but after all, it was what he feared more for Teddy. He had thought Teddy had abandoned his medical career for fear of responsibility, carrying a life over his shoulders when he already had to carry with his parents’. But when he had tried to enter late Auror training, it had been a raising eyebrows moment for not only him, but all the Weasleys. His hair had lost color, and though some called it a sign of maturity, Dominique suspected of something more.
“Harry said I wouldn’t need help.”
“I bet he said that so there weren’t any Aurors bugging you,” Dominique smiled, hoping to hear his chucking again.
“Actually, I believe it was so Wood didn’t join, and he’s a trainee. While you, dear,” he pointed an accusatory finger to Dominique, “haven’t even finished Hogwarts.”
“But,” Dominique rose his finger to emphasize in an always mocking manner, “I’m a Gryffindor, and Wood was a Ravenclaw, which would have only been too much over-thinking and arguing. And I, for once, know the place better than you do, and its scarce habitants.”
“Which reminds me that,” he let his finger in the air, like a very light mighty sword, “I came here for information.”
Teddy eyed Dominique suspiciously, as if debating whether or not it was a good idea to trust him on the case. He couldn’t be the killer anyway, and was of age after all. There was nothing to loose in asking for a second opinion, or any sort of help for that matter.
Dominique leant forward, listening intently to his report and taking in every word he said, as if they were details in a painting, spots of color that couldn’t be one without each other.
There had been two bodies, first a woman, then a man, both around their fifties, found dead in the sea shore, with obvious deterioration from being transported by the tides and their salt. Both bodies had some peculiar marks on their necks that marked the way they had been killed. Fingers, strategically placed had pushed deep in the victims’ necks, had left permanent marks on the skin, like the holes swirls create in calm seas.
There weren’t any fingerprints found, but traces of dragon skin rustled against their skin were evident. Detective Lupin was searching for someone who’d risk not using magic, and use a superhuman force instead that could leave crucial hints behind. Someone who either wasn’t really careful and professional, or wanted to be known -in some psychologically concerning way.
And despite all evidence proving the criminal to be a rookie, there was the fact that the strong hand had not only precluded the victim’s breathing or screaming, but had also managed to squeeze an important artery which demonstrated some major knowledge in anatomy, or fighting.
There was a long silence, and Dominique couldn’t help but notice the snow had stopped falling to let the fire cracking on its own. He took a sip of his tea, but its coldness only left a bittersweet in his mouth and he grimaced, a memory forming in his head.
“I don’t know of any half-giant, but there is however this Squib, living on the other side of the bay. I don’t know how he could have made the bodies cross the sea with the current as is, but he’s the only one I remember of possessing such strength. As children, we used to go there with this sort of cable cabin, something of the muggles. It was like the biggest of adventures, though sneaking off to go there was really complex.
“Anyway, so this terrible thing happened, I never got to hear a word of it, but our small village decided to put it down, and no one ever crossed there again. I wonder how he gets food, it was a pretty deserted place, -some say he deserved it. I can’t imagine how someone would ever deserve that, it’s like a death sentence. He was a squib after all..” Dominique finished with his eyebrows raised, and took his mug again with both hands to heat it up. It was a little habit he strangely enjoyed and couldn’t spend a day without heating his tea with his hands on the morning. Summer had never been a stopper to him.
After what could have been considered as a weakly repressed shudder, Ted somberly nodded, and the circles under his eyes danced between dark and darker with the tickling shadows of the dying chimney. Dominique could clearly remember him at school during their first years, and his eyes had always been clear and shining. Something about him had changed, but it wasn’t the moment to ask giving the matters treated. The murderer was to be found, before any further harm could be accomplished.
“That would explain the lack of magic use, yes,” he mused to himself more than to Dominique.
Dominique smiled, but then a frown tensed his features as he spotted a misplaced puzzle piece. Irrelevant, another would have said, but he knew better than to discard scenarios for pure convenience and simplicity.
“What about the dragon skin? Do you think a squib, and one that has been insulated from the wizarding community, would possess such gloves?”
“Well, I believe you said he was the only habitant of that zone across the bay?” Dominique nodded in agreement. “Then he must have at least a luxurious mansion, some sort of inheritance from his wizarding ancestors, gloves aren’t much after all. He doesn’t even need to have a mansion to wear some, and that would cover any fingerprints.”
Dominique nodded again, sipped some more tea and cracked his knuckles, letting a thin smirk curve his lips in delight.
“Then we should meet tomorrow to apparate there, first thing in the morning? Or are you the film noir style, and would prefer a moonlight investigation?”
He ignored Teddy’s mouthing ‘film noir’ and furrowing his eyebrows at the sound of the muggle word, instead standing up -for an answer was imperative. Teddy shook his head.
“Oh no, no, you’re not going there dear,” he pressed his finger over Dominique’s chest, making him step back only slightly, but more of surprise than from his pushing. “This isn’t some kind of game. You think I’ll let you drive me to the psycho? You think I’ll survive Aunt Fleur’s fury at my taking you in a mortal visit to a casual murderer? You said it, he’s dangerous.”
Dominique let his jaw drop and resisted the urge of pouting.
“I never said that.”
“Oh but something terrible did happen, didn’t it? It’s a superhumanly strong squib we’re talking about, who had to live amongst wizards without possessing any magic himself. The metaphor of a living mistake, who is additionally suspected of serial murder of war victims. As if the Death Eaters’ torturing hadn’t been enough for them!”
Dominique crossed his arms and refrained from scowling, sending a burning glare to Teddy, who had by then not only stood up, but gained territory towards the chimney, and Dominique’s safe place.
“Which I’ll let you know doesn’t scare me at all. He probably had his motives. Maybe he just wanted their tortured souls to rest.”
“So you reckon death is peace? I’m not questioning your bravery mister, but I’m not taking you there. If anything, the lad was upset by their misuse of magic during the war or some nonsense of sorts. Or maybe he believed in all that stealing magic thing and got mad when the victims didn’t give some to him...”
“Ted!” Dominique let his arms fall by his sides, balling his fists in horror. “All those neo-Death Eaters Uncle Harry and Uncle Ron fight against, for you to say someone would actually be stealing magic? For you to say those criminals are right?” as he spat the words, a little corner in his mind realized that maybe the Weasley temper rumors at Hogwarts weren’t just stereotypes.
Teddy turned his back and walked to the window nearest the main door. He stopped to talk, not fully turning his head and barely cocking it down. Dominique was regaining an even breath, hands hurting by his sudden nail pressing against his palms. He remembered why he hated silence so much, and therefor avoided libraries, much to his parents’ dismay. Why he wasn’t like his ‘perfect’ sister he couldn’t know, but was glad nonetheless.
“I’m barely considering all the possibilities. Loneliness can do terrible things to people, and I don’t want to even think what he could do to you. You must stay here while I go interrogate him, you must promise to stay safe. Promise me.”
Dominique couldn’t help but soften at his concern, and let the whispered words bathe him in warmth. But he had been taught to fight for the right thing, and of course, what he wanted. He wouldn’t back down, and he would stand still, if not stepping forward.
“Teddy, you know I can’t make such promises,” he tried to lower his voice as well. “How do you think you’re getting there on your own, anyway?”
It was obvious that he wouldn’t ask for anyone else to apparate him there. He liked to be independent, and he liked to be right. There weren’t any definitive conjectures, only suspicions made out of fading hints, and he wouldn’t bother anyone with empty results and a trip to a deserted mansion.
“Flying probably,” he sighed.
“Are you nuts? With the wind as it is?”
But Teddy was already opening the door, ready to walk back to wherever he was staying and freeze in the way.
“Why did you come here? Why didn’t you just asked some other villager for information?” Dominique didn’t want him to go.
“I wanted reliable sources,” he answered from the doorstep.
“I won’t always be there,” Dominique smiled, trying to diffuse the tension.
“Of course you will.”
Teddy smiled to him and for a moment, their eyes locked, until a loud crack coming from upstairs made them startle. Victoire had arrived.