The sun had just begun to shine through the windows, but people were up and working, starting their day. St. Mungo's hospital was already busy, healers changing shifts and patients receiving their morning potions.
No one noticed him walk through.
He weaved through the small crowds, nodding politely to each person who glimpsed his way. He was like a ghost, passing through until he reached the elevator. He stepped inside, thankfully alone, and pressed the button down to the morgue. He needed to be sure.
The ride was quick, only one floor down, and he found the room he wanted. He paused, his palm pressed to the door, and slowly he pushed it open, taking a small step inside. The cold, dark room was empty; no fresh body on the table, no Healer Timothy Graham to bump into.
A good day for the doctor; I may have to change that.
He went further inside, faster this time, until he was at what he liked to call the cupboards; the place the bodies where kept until they were ready to be released. He searched the names for the one he was looking for, found it near the bottom, closer to the far right of the room. He knelt down and reached for the handle. He pulled once. And then again. And one more time.
The door refused to open.
"No," he muttered angrily. He was so close to knowing for sure that he had done what he'd needed. He tried the one on the left; it opened easily. So did the next one he tried, and the four after that. But the one he needed to open was locked, bound shut with enough magic to protect a small family. Why?
Another door swung open and then shut, and he spun around, on his feet. He moved away from the cupboards, intent of leaving before he was caught; now was not the time. But it was too late.
"Can I help you?"
He took a deep breath, put on his most innocent look, trying to look weary and lost, and turned to face the healer. "Yeah, I just dropped a few things off for a patient I know and was looking for the restroom before I left, now I'm completely lost and no offense, but this room is kind of freaking me out."
Graham gave him a suspicious look, as though the man were trying to figure him out, his eyes narrowed slightly. He maintained his composure, hoped he still looked lost. Then Graham smiled softly, nodding his head. "A place like this will have that affect," he agreed, pointing to the door. "You were going in the right direction."
"Yeah, I thought it would be best to just go the same way I came in," he chuckled. "Thank you, Healer -"
He paused, waited for a name he already knew. "Graham. And you're welcome, Mr. -"
"Simon is fine," he answered. There were many Simons in London alone; it was fine. "I should go."
He left the morgue, his pace picking up the moment he could no longer be seen by the healer. He had to go back, find the man's address and deal with his new problem. Graham wouldn't be taking care of the next body that came into this place.
Something is not right.
With Ginny in one corner, Ron and Hermione in another and Ted sat on top of the Head Auror's desk, there was more than enough space for Harry to move about. Every time he left to find something, the tension in the room rose alarmingly, reminding each person that they had no idea what to say to the other. When he came back, they managed to hide it. But it was still there.
Teddy had been gone for ten years. Not dead like they had thought, but hiding from a man who had no conscience, no limit to what he could do to others. For years they had wished he could be back with them, imagined all the things they would say to him. Now that they had the moment, they were completely lost for words. Teddy more so; he had never thought about them or what he'd say, never let himself in fear of it being a wasted thought, knowing that he may never see them. He had only thought of Simon and how to stop him. Once he'd known Simon was back in the UK, he'd thought of Harry and how to get his help. Then he'd thought of David and his job; his way in. No one knew what to do.
Harry came back in, opened another file, his back to them all. "The tension in this room is suffocating me; somebody say something, anything please. Just be useful."
"The kids got back to school safely," Ginny informed him quietly. "As soon as Al remembered that it's one of the safest places in the world, he couldn't wait."
"I wish I'd been there to see them off, say good bye," Harry muttered.
"They understand that you have to work," Ginny said. "They said to wish you luck, that they hope you get him. The boys also told me to say hi to Ted," she murmured, turning to face him. "They remember you, they said. They missed you."
"Really?" he whispered.
Ginny nodded. "Really. They talked about pizza night and the den you made in your room with all the blankets. They haven't done that since you -"
She cut off quickly; she didn't know how to end that sentence.
"What are you doing?" Hermione asked finally, before the silence could return.
Knowing what his friend was doing, Harry nodded and focused on the work. He had his wife, his two best friends and his godson; they could end this. "I am running up and down the Ministry, going through the archives and any department that hold records for a Simon Ross." He pointed to the stack of files at Ted's side that he had been collecting since six in the morning; almost three hours now. "Maybe through these, we can find him, or something that could lead us to him. Feel free to look."
"I'll get you some coffee first; you're grouchy when you don't sleep," Ginny said, offering to bring some for everyone. She was barely out the door when another pushed her back inside. "Tim? What are you doing here?"
They all looked up to acknowledge the healer's presence in Harry's office, each wearing an identical frown as they wondered why the man was there. "I came into work this morning to find an envelope on my desk, in it is a picture of a man by the name of Simon Ross and a warning that he is the one you're looking for." Tim pulled out the envelope and opened it up, showing Harry the photo. It was a Muggle photograph and looked recent. Teddy nodded, recognizing him instantly; they had a face. Tim continued his story. "I hear movement in my morgue and there he is. Why your guy is in my morgue, I have no idea, but he's there saying he got lost looking for the restroom. I think he noticed something suspicious because he had this look in his eyes that I did not like before he left. Not being as brave as you Aurors, I picked up the photo, got out of there really quickly using the emergency exit in case he was waiting and came straight here. I remember why I hate getting involved with your cases, Harry."
"I'm glad you came here," Harry answered absently, waving the photograph in the air. "Where did you get this?"
Tim frowned, until understanding seemed to dawn on him; Harry was just as confused. "I thought you sent it, you've done it before. Remember that case a few years ago? I do."
"I remember and you lived," Harry pointed out.
"I survived; there's a difference. But now, instead of helping the living, I examine the dead because they can't hold me hostage and almost kill me," Tim growled. Harry nodded in agreement, apologizing again for what happened that day, though they both knew he wasn't blamed for it. "If you didn't send it to me then who did? And why was he there? What have I got to do with this? I don't want to die, Harry," he whispered honestly. "Thirty is a little too young, don't you think?"
"You're thirty-one," Ginny frowned. Tim shushed her, trying to fake annoyance for being corrected, but he couldn't quite manage to hide his growing fear. "You're still younger than the rest of us, remember that, Tim."
I am. I was," he corrected himself quickly, staring at Ted like he'd only just noticed he was there. "You were dead."
"A mistake I didn't correct," Teddy told him quietly. "I was hiding."
"From Ross," Tim deduced.
"He tried to kill me."
"It sucks, doesn't it?" Tim said, eyeing Harry again. "I put myself in his shoes, on my way here; I tried to figure out why he'd come. If I were him and I had beaten someone to death with just my fists, I'd want to make sure he was dead. Trying to open the door would explain the rattling noises I heard."
"You locked it?" Ron was the first to ask.
Tim nodded once, slowly. He tried to figure out how to put into words why he had done so. "When an Auror is murdered, everyone wants to know about it and their team will stop at nothing to get the one who did it. When a serial killer is out there, it's a similar response; everyone wants to know, Aurors will work around the clock to stop him. David was an Auror murdered by a serial killer; reporters are having a field day, I've had security escort a fair few from St. Mungo's since that night. I locked the door so nothing would be disturbed. I don't trust them. It'll stay locked until this is over."
"Thank you," Teddy said sincerely, clearing his throat to hold back a tear. Finding Ross would help David now, not crying over the loss of his friend. Noting how close they must have been, Tim only nodded. Ted asked for the photograph still in Harry's hands. "I'll go through my file and add this, find out who sent them to us. I'll take a few of these files, too. See if I recognize anything that may lead us to him."
"That's a good idea; you know him better than all of us." Harry sorted through the stack of files, handed a few to Ted, Ron and Ginny. "Since you two won't leave, your presence may be useful, so it's me and Gin, Ron and Hermione; we'll work through these together, see if we can find anything. Tim, I want you to stay with us. I'd hate myself if I let you leave and something happened. If you want to be useful, you can help Ted."
"Good, because I wasn't planning on going anywhere."
They moved their work to the conference room at lunch; the room was spacious, enough room to eat, work and stretch their legs when they needed it. They went through each file with care, wrote down each potential hit, made floo calls to each and crossed off the dead ends. They groaned and they sighed and they tried again. They worked until the sun went down and into the night. Around midnight, Tim quietly gave up, leaving the room for a drink. When he came back, Hermione was fighting back sleep to finish the last few pages of what looked like her last file, while Ron slept with his head resting on her shoulder. Ginny was in a similar position at Harry's side, while the man scribbled in his notepad. Tim returned to his place beside Ted, who was just sitting there, lost in his own thoughts.
"Here," he murmured, bringing Ted back to the room and handing him a glass of water.
"Thank you. You did the right thing, coming here," Ted told him after a pause. "Give him one wrong look and Simon will hurt you. He's crazy like that."
"Last time I ignored Harry's warning, I almost died. I wasn't about to make the same mistake," Tim answered honestly. "Can I ask you a question?" he said, his voice dropped to a whisper. Ted nodded discreetly. "I understand Hermione's help being useful, she works in law enforcement, too. But why is Ginny here?"
"She's a reporter; she notices things, has a keen eye and all that. Harry says she may notice something no one else does, that she always has done. I don't really remember that, though I only came with Harry to work a few times, when Ginny was at work and I had no babysitter," Ted said. He seemed lost in thought again, remembering his childhood with the two couples in the room, Tim imagined. "And why are you helpful?" he asked suddenly, a small hint of a smirk showing; he was joking with him.
"I was an Auror first, I passed top of my class and everything," Tim answered proudly, a smirk of his own showing. He acted as though it was his right to be with them, helping. "But I only stayed for a few months. It ended up not being the job for me. My last case was chaos; people were hurt and dying all around me and medical help couldn't reach them yet. So instinct kicked in and I helped, saving a couple of lives and everything. That's how I found healing. I trained and I qualified and I was the best I could be for three years, until two years ago when I didn't listen and someone I thought was a patient took me hostage and almost killed me. I couldn't face that again, but I still wanted to help and the medical examiner was retiring. So here I am."
"I heard about that case," Ted murmured. "I'm sorry."
"I was lucky," Tim replied, his implication known through his sympathetic tone. Tim looked down suddenly, biting his lip and squeezing his eyes shut. "I'm sorry about David," he said finally.
They both knew that wasn't what he wanted to say.
A/N: So, I think there'll only be one or two more chapters after this. Hopefully I can continue to update rather quickly.