Chapter 17 : Welcome Home
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Bleach the crooked Auror was indicted on about a dozen different charges. Judge Ellery presided over his trial, and sentenced him to fifteen years in Montain. He was being kept separate from the other prisoners in a maximum-security area. Apparently dirty cops don't survive well in the general population.
Anita Shaw had come to before the Aurors arrived and managed to disappear. She and her daughter were gone without a trace. I didn't know where they were, but I hoped Anita was staying out of trouble. Somehow it seemed unlikely.
Dad kept in touch with Hatchcock, who had decided he liked being a field agent after all. He had plans to come visit the London Auror office to meet Uncle Harry and see how things operated across the pond. Mum did a lot of rolling her eyes at this, but Dad wasn't deterred. Dad had the latest books in that Auror series sent to Charles Rocke after all, with his compliments. Charles Rocke may never see the outside of his cell, but at least he'd have good reading, and think fondly of the Weasleys (and maybe give up some more of his ex-associates).
I was still in touch with Mimi, of course. I rather thought we were friends for life after that trip to New York. Her career was going swimmingly (she had two more restraining orders against overzealous fans and seemed to see that as a measure of her success), and she planned to come to London on her next holiday. I was greatly looking forward to introducing her to some of my cousins. I was fairly certain she and Victoire would get along like a house on fire.
Wyn Ellery made it out alive, and after spending three days in the hospital for the point-blank Stunner to the chest, he was back to Congress. He did not serve any jail time. Typical. His brother had not forgiven him for his betrayal, it seemed, because the papers reported that the Ellerys were now estranged. But the judge didn't come out with any statements to destroy Wyn's political career, so apparently what he'd done had been just enough for a cease fire but not enough for a peace treaty.
As for Ambrosia, or whatever name she went by, she was still sitting in prison, awaiting her trial. Between Kid Shaw's evidence and the events at the warehouse, her conviction was pretty much a sure thing, and now she'd been caught, more evidence was rolling in all the time. Greyson Ellery had to recuse himself from serving as judge on that trial, as he was a material witness, but he was throwing his political weight around like a Mexican wrestler, so it didn't look likely that Ambrosia would ever leave Montain. She was expected to serve consecutive life sentences, guarded by the dragon. I had a feeling the Ellerys would make sure she never saw the light of day again.
Yuvia fluttered over to us, dressed in a yellow and pink caftan, her head crowned with a large yellow turban. There was an enormous jeweled pin on the front of it which blinked at us owlishly. Scorpius exchanged cheek kisses with her and I tried not to stare at the turban.
“The show was smashing, just absolutely marvelous. You're a genius, my dear, a genius – and the extra press at the last minute!” Yuvia's eyes rolled in ecstasy. “Genius! Three more paintings sold since yesterday. I wish I'd thought of it.”
It had been two days since we'd caught Ambrosia. The newspaper yesterday morning had a photo of her splashed across the front page, and halfway down a photo of me on the steps of the Ellery brownstone. The caption had mentioned Scorpius's art show. I reckoned that reporter who'd been camped outside the brownstone had gotten himself on the front page after all. I wasn't terribly concerned by the article, since we were going home today, but Scorpius had been rather annoyed by it. Of course, since I'd gone to fetch him from Mimi's and found him hoovering while a wigless Mimi held the baby (she really was a bloke), he'd seemed annoyed by just about everything.
“And Rose!” Yuvia added, sounding far more eager to talk to me than she had done before. Apparently there really was no such thing as bad publicity. “Darling, I had no idea you were here working. I could have played this up more! Think of the sales we could have made with the extra notoriety! I wish you'd told me!” She waved this away before I could answer. “Next time, next time. Well my darlings, I'm so glad you've come, it's been very profitable all around. I must run, our next show is in two weeks and there's so much to do – I doubt we'll get the kind of press you managed, but we can't have everything. Mario will get you sorted out with the remaining unsold works. Ta!”
We watched her trot off out the door.
“Well,” I said.
“Well,” said Scorpius.
“Mama,” said Ramses.
I passed him over to his father, who jiggled the baby lightly, and gave Scorpius my best trustworthy smile. “See, she wasn't angry at all.”
We'd had a small argument on the way over about Yuvia's anticipated reaction to the article in the paper mentioning the Maiden Launch gallery alongside murder, mayhem, and mobsters. I still stood by the fact that it hadn't been my fault. Mum and Dad had already gone home or they would probably back me up on that. Well, Dad would, anyway. Scorpius didn't care whose fault it was, so long as it didn't wreck his art career.
“Apparently not,” Scorpius said, a bit grudgingly. “Sometimes your career is unexpectedly good for mine.”
“Funny old world. Who the hell is Mario, anyway?”
Once the assistant at the gallery, whose name turned out to be Marshall actually, packed up the rest of Scorpius's paintings for us to bring home, we headed for Radio Row. Our Portkey was due in two hours, and I was only hoping we'd make it on time. Getting out of the country was probably going to be just as annoying as getting in had been.
Scorpius, with Ramses still tucked in one arm, took my hand as we went down the disguised entrance in the park to the International Portkey Interchange. “How did you like New York, Rose?”
“Aside from the people trying to kill me, it was rather good.”
I could tell he was trying not to roll his eyes. “They wouldn't have tried to kill you if you had bloody left them alone,” he pointed out, apparently unable to resist. Honestly, sometimes he sounded just like my mother.
“It wasn't my fault,” I retorted. “I couldn't just leave it alone.”
“You never can.” He shook his head and then smiled. “Only you, Rose.”
I decided not to argue further since his mood had improved (selling paintings often did that for him). He never believed it wasn't my fault anyway, so there wasn't much point.
Being back in England felt both strange and good after being in America for a fortnight. The absence of flat American vowels was surprisingly comforting, although at the same time I rather missed the New Yorkers and their accents. There was a note on the door from our landlady, the inimitable and perpetually ill-tempered Mrs. Kochel, saying we'd better stop leaving our dirty wellies in the corridor and threatening the usual eviction, hexing, and calling my mother. I balled this up and threw it in the trash.
“Home again,” Scorpius said expansively, dropping our luggage just inside the door. “It's good to be back. Hang on, how are there dirty dishes in the sink?”
There hadn't been time to wash them before we'd left, honestly. Besides, doing the washing up was his job.
I set Ramses down on the floor and collapsed onto the couch. He scampered off to explore, full of energy. The hours in the Portkey Interchanges hadn't been pleasant with a fussy baby, but now we were home and he'd had a half hour's nap on the tube, he was completely back to normal. I was that frazzled from his crying jags. Now he was giggling at one of his toys as if the meltdown at British customs had never happened.
Scorpius flopped down next to me. “Look at him, like a little angel.”
“The little devil,” I agreed.
“You'd never think he'd been screaming his head off half the day.” Scorpius kicked off his shoes and stretched out his legs on the coffee table. “I'm exhausted. What time is it?”
“It's only gone four o'clock. I wonder if Lydia's in the office,” I mused.
Scorpius let out a groan. “Rose, we just got home. Can't it wait until tomorrow? We haven't even unpacked yet.”
“I'll just pop by for a mo and see if she has anything interesting.” I hauled myself to my feet and grabbed my handbag. I had no intention of unpacking.
“I give up. Go ahead, go, enjoy yourself, you will anyway no matter what I say.” Scorpius shook his head. “We'll just stay here and relax and do the unpacking, won't we, Ramses?”
“Dada,” Ramses said distinctly.
Scorpius did a double take. I'd never seen someone actually do that before.
“Did he just – Ramses, did you just say Dada?” He scrambled to his feet and practically leaped over the coffee table to scoop up the baby, hugging him tightly. “He said it, Rose, did you hear? Ramses, can you say Dada? Dada loves you. Can you say Dada?”
Ramses looked him straight in the eye and said, “Mama.”
Lydia was at her desk when I arrived, packing up for the day, a cloud of blue bubbles around her head from the Drooble's she was always chewing since she'd quit smoking. She looked happy to see me, grinning hugely, and gave me a hug.
“Rose, you're back! How was New York? Did you find that Shanahan bloke you were looking for?”
“I did. Long story, I'll tell you later.” I eyed the files on her desk. “Anything good come in while I was gone? Or did you give them all to Dino?”
Lydia laughed. “Dino won't touch the little bounties that you take, you know that. Angelo talked about hiring someone to replace you, but he would never actually do it.”
“Yeah, no one else would put up with his abuse.” I rolled my eyes. “I had a long day at the Portkeys, I could really use something to take my mind off it all.”
“Avoiding the unpacking?”
She knew me so well.
I reached out to pick up the stack of files on the corner of her desk, but Lydia whisked them away.
“Oh, I've the perfect one for you,” she said, shuffling through the folders. “Your favourite sort of pick-up.”
“Shoplifter?” I guessed.
“Even better. Guess who we have to welcome you home?” Lydia asked in a sing-song voice, grinning widely.
I had a bad feeling about this. “Oh no. Not Parmenter.”
“Oh yes,” she said, and handed me a file.
A/N: Thank you for reading this story, and to all those who reviewed! I greatly appreciate it and hope you have been entertained. Please let me know what you thought of the story!