Chapter 6 : VI. Grimmauld Place, The Ministry and back again
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The meeting at the Burrow left Scorpius Malfoy with an unsettling feeling. Whatever he might’ve expected from their return, the greeting Hermione Granger Weasley had bestowed upon her daughter was not on his list. He had a strange urge to ask her about it, to persuade her to confide in him, but the presence of Teddy Lupin was a big inconvenience for him. He walked them to the edge of the Weasley’s property and there, with a promise from Rose to call upon his wife, he left for work. Rose grabbed hold of him and turned on the spot, Apparating them both in London, to Grimmauld Street. She was considerably moodier than he had found her in Romania and thought it best to refrain from talking to her more than necessary.
Quietly they passed the piece of paper with Harry’s scrawl on it to each other and before their eyes, a house materialized between numbers eleven and thirteen. Scorpius was careful to check his surroundings before they stepped inside the door, but the Muggles on the street seemed unaware of the tall house that sprung from the ground seconds ago.
The house was old and it was obvious that it had been refurnished some time ago. One wall in particular struck Scorpius as odd, thicker than those surrounding it, painted in red and gold, with a portrait of a man sleeping soundly, his dress robes hanging by his side, his long, dark hair slightly overgrown, a look of peace grazing his elegant features. He stopped to study it, as Rose entered the dinning room and started searching her new surroundings.
“That’s Sirius Black, uncle Harry’s godfather.” she finally spoke, looking at him from the door across the room. “He was the last male in the Black family line. This was his house, left it to Harry when he died.”
Scorpius nodded as he turned to face her “I’ve heard about him. Traitor turned hero, he’s one of the first victims of the Second War.” he recited from one of the books he had read.
“I should hope you’ve heard of him, you’re related to him. He was your grandmother Narcissa’s cousin.” she replied. “Come into the kitchen, I’ll make coffee.”
He followed her into the small kitchen, where she had already started a fire in the corner and was busying herself with the coffee. Finally, he decided to break the uneasy silence.
“That wall looked odd.” he commented, not knowing what else to say.
“It’s been modified. Before, a portrait of Walburga Black hung on that wall, covered by drapes. When anybody undeserving, by her standards, entered the house, she would scream her painted head off. They tried to take it down, but it was stuck there. So finally they decided to close her in, and another portrait was hung in its place.” she explained, not turning to face him. He could feel in her tone that she was still in a fowl mood.
“You seem to know a lot about the history of wizarding families.” he pressed on, ignoring her tone.
“It’s always been a passion of mine. In case you haven’t noticed, I have the strangest hobbies, like wands and dead wizards.” she shrugged, placing sugar and cream on the table and motioning for him to sit.
“I don’t find it odd at all.” he muttered, taking a seat and accepting the cup from her.
“So, what are the terms of this arrangement?” she inquired, finally taking a seat in front of him and stirring her coffee.
“I’m sorry, I don’t understand the question.” he began, his blue eyes meeting her brown ones. Confusion appeared briefly on her features.
“How am I going to get the wands I’m suppose to analyze?” she explained, looking away from him. “It’s not like I can work based off your descriptions, however much you lot would prefer it.”
“Look Rose, I don’t know why you are upset. Quit frankly, it‘s not my business.” he growled, no longer able to contain himself. “But I’m not the enemy here, it’s my job to help.” she was taken aback by his reply and bit her lip, finally deciding to look back into his eyes.
“When can I see the wands?” she demanded, not wanting to let him see that she was surprised by his words.
“I’ll arrange you come to the Ministry and see them.” he said dryly, holding her gaze.
“That’s not possible.” she replied on an equal tone, pushing him once again. He realized then, that she knew it would get on his nerves and he wasn’t going to humor her.
“And why’s that?” he asked, cocking an eyebrow at her.
“Because it’s not something that can be done on the spot. I just don’t go in, look at it and say ‘I know who did it!’. I need them here, with my books and my space and my own time to be able to do a thorough analysis.” she stated, leaning back into her chair and folding her hands in her lap, her eyes not breaking the contact.
“Let me get this straight. You want me to bring evidence of a maximum importance, classified Ministry case and leave it here with you, without escort?” he said, disbelief now obvious in his tone.
“Exactly. I know it can be done so I want you to do it.” she smiled sweetly at him, the smile that graced her lips not touching her eyes.
“No. that can’t be done. That evidence cannot leave the custody of the Auror Department.” he declared. “It’s not even up for negotiation.” he finished, feeling a need to throw his hands up in frustration at her attitude.
“Who says it has to leave custody? You can stay here with them.” she announced. Scorpius almost dropped his cup of coffee at her words.
“Stay here? In this house? With you? That’s going to be very easy to explain to Auror Weasley.” he muttered grimly, running a hand through his hair.
“Oh, but it’s fine for me to just pick up and leave when they start calling?” she snapped, slamming the table with her palm. The gesture made Scorpius jump a little and look at her in shock.
“Nobody forced you to come, you know.” he barked back, getting up from his seat and taking a few steps towards the fire place.
“I know, but if I’m going to help I need all the conditions. Go tell them, I’m sure it won’t be a problem.” she concluded, now getting up herself and taking the cups with her. “After all, I’m sure all Ministry appointed experts have lists of demands.”
Her last sentence made Scorpius turn on his heel and leave the room, not sparing her even a single glance. She heard the front door slam behind him and Sirius’s portrait grumbling, not happy at being woken up.
Scorpius was fuming as he made his way to the office. Who did she think she was? He was a trained Auror, a member of the department and she was talking to him like they were still in school, demanding to have a Hogsmeade weekend changed or something. Event though there was truth in her words, experts did come with lists of demands, most of them involving traveling expenses and fees and hers were minimal in comparison to others he had heard of, the fact that she was forcing him into telling one of his superiors he would be going to live under the same roof as his daughter still infuriated him.
It was obvious that she had some friction with her parents, something the entire family knew about and she was using him to get under their skins, something only a teenager would do. He had worked so hard to build a name for himself inside his office, to prove that he belonged in his chosen profession and she was making a mockery of it all.
With his nerves stretched to their breaking point, he Apparated to the Ministry and slowly made his way up to the office. The scene that met him there was not unusual, taking into account the events of the previous evening. Memos were soaring in the air, landing on desks only to take off moments later, people were running from room to room carrying papers, photographs and other evidence and the team was assembled in the large conference room, possibly waiting for Harry. Scorpius merely nodded as a greeting when he entered and took his seat next to Fred Weasley. He barely had time to look through the report laid in front of him when Harry and Ron entered the office.
“Good morning!” Harry greeted, though they could tell from his tone that it was anything but good. “I trust you’ve all looked over the full report from last night, let’s see what you make of it.”
“First, we were able to determine that the wards surrounding the property weren’t damaged by whatever the subject did to get pass them. However, we took everything down and are currently working on rebuilding them from the ground.” Grantham told him, handing him a piece of parchment with incantations scribbled on it. Harry nodded as he looked over them.
“Sir, other than that, there wasn’t much to go on. It’s a miracle by itself, the fact that somebody was able to get in. We did a search of all your work related correspondence as well, no threats, nothing to indicate this attack or the killings,” Simone told them, her tone flat and defeated.
Scorpius was still skimming the contents of the incident when realization flooded through him and he spoke, his voice louder than he would’ve intended.
“The original wards weren’t damaged, because they recognized the person trying to get pass.” he started and silence fell over the room. “Or rather, they recognized the wand that passed. It’s the same thing with the study. According to this, it’s set to open only for yours or Mrs. Potter’s wand. Because you two cast the charms around it together, am I right?” Harry once again nodded and motioned for him to continue. “But the wards. You cast those alone. So even though there are signatures of other wizards that are allowed to pass through, they always leave a mark. A magic registry that shows who was on the property and when. But this guy, he didn’t leave a mark. Potter, this guy has a duplicate of your wand.”
Ron swore loudly and his voice made the entire team snap out of their trance. They started shouting, talking over each other and asking questions left and right. Harry spoke up, his voice louder than all the others combined.
“Listen up. I want everybody to go back and check reports. Go as far as a decade if necessary. See if we have anything related to contraband goods that might be used in forgery. Look over every suspect we’ve questioned for as far back as it takes to get a lead. Malfoy, my office.” he ordered and got up, Scorpius following him.
Once inside, Harry magically slammed the door and turned to face the blonde Auror.
“How are we on the wand analysis?” he snapped, his voice heavy with worry.
“We’ve got nothing. She wants them at the location and I told her they can’t leave custody. She insists I go there and stay with the wands for as long as it takes.” he replied, struggling to keep his earlier anger from resurfacing.
“Very well then, take them. Go, stay with the wands. I’ll send a memo for you to pick them up right now.” he instructed and picked up his quill, writing something on a piece of parchment. When he finished he tapped it with his wand and it flew out the door.
“Potter, I’m not sure Weasley is going to be a big fan of this idea and technically he is my superior so getting on his bad side isn’t really in my books.” Scorpius argued, his eyes fixed on Harry’s face.
“Mr. Malfoy, Auror Weasley may be your superior but I outrank him. My instructions for you are clear. I expect daily reports. You are dismissed.” Harry commanded and opened the door, a signal that he should leave.
Moments later, Ron entered the office with several folders of reports and handed part of them to Harry., glancing behind at the retreating figure of Scorpius Malfoy.
“I thought we should start here.” he said and took a seat at his own desk, on the other side of the room. “I hope Rose can find a lead on those wands soon.”
“Ron, about that. Malfoy is going to be staying with the wands at Grimmauld. She needs the evidence there and it cannot leave custody.” Harry informed him simply, opening the first folder.
“Why would you allow that?” Ron asked him slowly, pressing on every word. He was trying not to get mad, that much was clear from his chosen words. The situation called for calm above all else, but by the color on Ron’s face, calm was escaping him at an alarming rate.
Harry looked up and replied in the same simple, flat tone he has used just moments before. “Because if my wand has been duplicated, we’re in for some serious trouble. The Phoenix wand isn’t the only one that answers to me.”
The wizard in Magical Evidence had raised a suspicious eyebrow at the young Auror, when he came to collect several bags labeled “CLASSIFIED”. They usually didn’t release anything, let alone things pertaining to an investigation that required high clearance, even within the Auror Department.
“So, what did you do to get Head Auror Potter to release these to you?” the man asked, his tone mocking and his face grave. “It’s not everyday that he releases something like this, let alone to the likes of you.” he told the blonde, making the latter’s face twitch with anger.
“What’s that supposed to mean?” he asked, his voice low and grave.
“If I were Head Auror, I wouldn’t release these into the custody of somebody known to have links with the Dark Arts.” he stated, clearly hoping that Scorpius would react to this and he had a reason to keep his precious bags under his eyes.
“I am a Ministry appointed Auror. I have no prior links to the Dark Arts, Andrews. If I were you, I’d be careful with my words.” Scorpius replied and extended his hand, tapping his foot impatiently. “You know your orders, I know mine, so I hope I don’t have to get Potter down here to retrieve these for me, since you’re obviously so reluctant to carry out orders.”
The man called Andrews growled in response and handed the bags over, which Scorpius placed in a wooden box, enchanted to open only at the touch of his wand. Bitterly, he thought of how little that meant these days, when counterfeit wands ran around in the hands of dangerous men. Exiting the Ministry’s building with the box under his arm, he Disapparated to the door of a small flat, located near Gringotts Bank in Diagon Alley. He figured that, if the girl was to start her analysis, he would be a few days at least and he needed to grab a few essentials before returning to Grimmauld. He entered the one bedroom flat and used his wand to summon a few pieces of clothing and toiletries and whispered a few protective enchantments, before Disapparating once again for Grimmauld Place.
As he approached the house, his thoughts returned to Rose and he found that his annoyance with her earlier behavior was still there. His run in with Andrews hadn’t helped matters either. It was the kind of prejudice Scorpius was trying to fight, the fact that his family name was once on top of Voldemort’s list, that his grandfather and father had been branded and made to serve that man’s delusional dreams of greatness.
Scorpius enjoyed being an Auror, he liked his job and he was good at it. He hoped one day to be a high ranking Ministry official and to rid the family name once and for all of all the prejudice. But right now, he reminded himself with a sigh, he was on Rose duty.
He pushed open the front door and deposited the bag he was carrying, straining his ears for any sound that would give away Rose’s current location. He didn’t have to wait long, because a few moments later, she came out of the kitchen, apron on, a big bowl in one hand and a mixing spoon in the other.
“Oh good, you’re home!” she greeted with a smile. “Wash up, food’ll be ready in fifteen minutes!” she called and headed back into the kitchen.
Scorpius was completely taken aback by this sudden change in her attitude. No longer was she snapping and acting like a spoiled teenager, she was actually cooking? There was definitely something very wrong in her head, he decided as he located the downstairs washroom and cleaned himself up. When he returned to the kitchen, he saw that the long table had been set for two and that something was roasting in the oven.
“Rose, where did you manage to get groceries?” Scorpius asked, taking a deep, calming breath in order to prepare his nerves for what was to come. Had she left the house alone, ignoring all the measures they had taken for her safety? Had she told some unknown third party of the location of the secret house? Her answer surprised him more than all the scenarios he made inside his head.
“Aunt Ginny came by and dropped them off. I guess she knew this house wouldn’t have anything except coffee and tea and she came by an hour or so ago.” Rose replied calmly, mixing salad inside a large, wooden bowl.
“Rose,” he started again, trying to choose his words carefully. “Are you feeling alright?”
The girl turned around and looked at him in surprise. “Yes, why shouldn’t I be?” she asked in surprise.
“Because when I left a few hours ago you were breathing fire like a Norwegian Ridgeback and now you’re cooking. Did you find the Black’s stash of Firewhiskey?”
The last question earned him an oven mitt in the face. Catching it before it fell to the floor, he placed it on the table and waited for her answer.
“I’m sorry I was so nasty to you earlier.” she started, a blush creeping on her creamy cheeks. “They always bring out the worse in me and I guess I just had to take it out on somebody. I’m sorry it had to be you. I understand that you’re just doing your job and that this must be just as strange and uncomfortable for you as it is for me. So, I figured since I was so horrible to you earlier and we did need to eat, I’d cook.” she finished and set the salad on the table.
Scorpius was at a loss for words. He had spent the entire afternoon building up anger inside of himself and determined not to let the girl get the best of him and instead, he found her just as calm and relaxed as she had been just yesterday, when he took her from Romania. So much had happened in under 48 hours and Scorpius was already starting to feel tired.
“Apology accepted, Rose.” he said softly and took out two glasses from the cupboard and took out a bottle of wine. “I’ve got your wands, so you can start whenever.” he informed her, but she shook her head.
“We can get to that after we’ve eaten.” she told him as she took the tray of meat and potatoes from the oven and put the contents on a serving dish. Something in the atmosphere of the room had shifted, it had changed. When Rose wasn’t playing her little ego games with him, she was perfectly lovely and when Scorpius wasn’t acting like a bureaucrat he was a very enjoyable company.
Auror Potter probably wouldn’t have approved of the fact that by the end of that evening, the bottle of wine they opened was finished, as was a second one and that the box containing the wands was still on a table in the hallway, untouched. But what Auror Potter didn’t know was that the two young people currently laughing together at the kitchen table didn’t want to think about death and wands and villains, not at that time. They were both out of place in their worlds, the rebellious daughter of the heroes and the righteous son of the former Death Eater. But in that kitchen, on that cold November night, both Scorpius and Rose felt like they belonged.
AN: Here is chapter 6 of this epic and breathtaking mystery adventure (if I do say so myself). Hope you enjoy it. Once again, a huge thank you to all those who've read and reviewed, especially those of you who have always had constructive criticism that has helped me improve as an author and polish this story off.
Once again, I do not own anything you recognize. It's all JKR's. Next time on "The Mysterious Case of the Twin Wands"? Rose finally gets around to analyzing the wands and her conversation with Scorpius may reveal more than just clues to the killer's identity.
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