Chapter 1 : Professor Peach
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It all started when Professor Peach was found dead in the library, lead piping by his side.
A shelf had fallen, hovering over the body, dust filled books smattered on and around the cadaver. The victimís eyes were wide, open, but not seeing. He still wore his customary tweed robes that didnít fit in with muggle or Wizarding fashion. The brogues on his feet were glossy and well cared for, not a scuff mark etched on the tan leather. Professor Peach looked normal from the neck down, if you didnít take into account his carrara cold exterior.
The cause of death was not as obvious as it seemed. He had been hit, repeatedly, shown clearly where there was a hole on the back of the head- the brain was visible, pierced with shards of bone and lead. †Blunt force trauma meant a fractured skull, but the petechial haemorrhaging suggested asphyxiation. The Wizard Forensics team called out to the scene were confused, the corpse seemed to clash with itself, as if it was unsure how it wanted to have died, which was a silly and irrational idea, as corpses were inanimate objects and canít dither over decisions.
The reasoning behind the death was not so obvious either. In fact, it was finding hard to produce even a semi likely motive for the brutal killing of the well known Professor. The latest theory was that the murder was committed by a student who was angry after being handed a detention.
And so the gossip started to accumulate, a giant game of Chinese whispers echoing through the halls.
The tradition of rumour spreading was entrenched deep within the Wizarding community and the teenage thought process, and as Hogwarts was a school of magic, teenagers and wizards were certainly in surplus.
Never in the history of the school had a teacher, a revered Professor, a figure of authority, ever been killed. Never had the school been handed such a morbid mystery to solve. †The greatest scandal Hogwarts ever had was when a muggle-born was found dead in the girlís toilets on the second floor.
That was over 20 years or so ago, and since Moaning Myrtle returned to the world in translucent form, it was a Ďbig dealí trivialised. It was seen as an inconvenience, since you couldnít really use the toilets due to Myrtleís watchful eye and an annoyance, as Myrtle was oversensitive and would wail at any given chance.
The death of Professor Peach was different however. Every single person within the castle, be they man, woman or child was capable of magic. Magic, that could kill with a simple flash of green.
There was no green this time. Just a single piece of lead piping with congealed blood on the end.
James Potter vomited the first time he saw the body. The second time he retched and nothing came out, the third time, he repressed bile back down his oesophagus.
The Head Boy handbook (which was not myth, that was a misconstrued rumour, no, it was an actual book handed to each new Head Boy by his predecessor, though whether each Head Girl gained a similar item was unknown) did not cover this. Violent murders were most certainly not part of the job description, not that James had to apply for the title of headship, nor did he think he would receive it with his reputation for raising Cain. His mother, poor dear, almost fainted from the surprise, much in the same way she did when she found out she was pregnant.
He stared down at the Professorís frail body, lain face down into the carpet. Professor Henry Peach was 69, almost 70. He was going to retire at the end of the summer. It seemed, however, that he would not reach that far. The life of patios and holiday homes was not one for Professor Peach. Somebody had decided that.
Thick, dark blood had coagulated at the base of the old manís neck, staining his fluffy white hair red at the ends. Not a day had passed since James had seen him alive, teaching Ancient Runes with such vigour and passion. He was still in a state of shock. The professor, was quite literally, life personified, always beaming. How anyone could possibly have a vendetta against him... mystified him. In addition to this, Professor Peach reminded James greatly of his own father, an elderly kind man in his late 60s. If someone could murder Professor Peach, then surely someone could also murder his dad in cold blood too... and that haunted his every thought.
There were half motives for the killing- the Professorís optimism was slightly annoying when youíre having a bad day and yes, having the surname of a fruit didnít exactly help matters, but for someone to kill him in a vulgar, violent manner for that? No, not even a Slytherin purist could do that- they were cowards and wouldnít be able to end a manís life upfront. Besides, Professor Peach was a pureblood through and through, with not even the hint of a squib in his bloodline. James was certain that his murder had nothing to do with the current war that was waging outside the safe walls of Hogwarts.
It was something different altogether.
And Hogwarts was certainly not safe anymore.
James shivered outside the library, standing guard by the doorway. Someone he knew, someoneís friend, someoneís son or daughter had become a murderer that night. Someoneís laughter had become a callous act.
The sun set and the corridor, previously bathed in orange, turned jet black and drafty. Dust motes wafting in the air before had disappeared. There was no moon tonight, no light for comfort. Slowly, magic started to turn the candle lights on with an invisible hand. Shadows grew from objects, torch holders and suits of armour, elongating as the light gained more power.
Then, for one second, no, one millisecond, such a brief moment James was sure his eyes were mistaken, the shadows flickered and died, before coming back to life.
He shivered, though there was not a goosebump upon him, before he walked away.
A/N: This is so different to what I usually write, but I have to say, that I enjoy this better!
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