Chapter 7 : Revision
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“Sorry Harry,” Neville panted as he hurried back into the room, cheeks flushed and robes slightly wrinkled. “Got a bit caught up.”
“I’d say…” Harry responded, cocking an eyebrow. “Anyway…let’s get to it.”
Neville plopped down in his chair, still breathing rapidly.
Harry rolled his eyes. “I’ll start then. There’s nothing on Flint. He’s not in touch with any of the more troublesome families. Even holding down a job on an semi-professional Quidditch team. Justin and Hannah were dead ends. Fleur was the real trick.”
“Gave me some information on the Shafiqs in France. It’s all second-hand, but apparently they’re known purists. History of odd events going on around where they lived. Strange magic. The name’s almost died out though from what I understand. They keep marrying here, but they always go back to France. It’s supposedly just a daughter left now.”
“Any real connection though? I mean aside from the purity element.”
“Not that I know of yet, but according to Fleur they never integrated in France. So they’ve been living in isolation for decades, but still with enormous wealth. I imagine money still ties them here.”
Neville looked skeptical.
“Hey…it’s the only thing that could pass for a lead from my group,” Harry defended, raising his hands.
The blonde wizard shrugged. “I suppose I don’t have anything more concrete myself. Got further on Hughes than I did with anybody in my part of the list.”
“Hughes? I thought you already ran that background.”
“I did. Didn’t check the minutes of his hearings though.”
“Hermione?” Harry asked.
“Yeah. Turns out Hughes developed quite the little group of followers over the past several years. Obviously there are a lot of new members these days, but there are twelve who have voted with Hughes every single time since they joined.”
“So what are you saying? They were colluding? Pushing some agenda?”
“Hermione doesn’t think so. Hughes’s positions were too scattered. Her point was someone could have noticed that many votes going in the same direction every time.”
Harry looked upward, rubbing the stubble on his chin.
“It sounded more like something for bribery or blackmail to me,” offered Neville.
Harry suddenly wagged a finger. “Unless that failed. Like you said, Hughes’s positions were scattered. All the information we have on him…he had principles. So he refuses. Whoever isn’t going to take the chance of getting exposed. Or even if he doesn’t turn them in, of losing.”
Neville nodded in agreement.
“Course there is another alternative…” Harry said soberly.
“Hughes had already gone crooked. Somebody finds out about that – same result I’d imagine.”
“Why not just have him removed then or, again, flip him? If he’s no saint then it’d probably do the job.”
“You know how it is. Some things are bigger than politics. If not these reforms, then what?”
Roughly eight hours later, Harry arrived in the staff waiting area at St. Mungo’s. With Ron nowhere to be seen, he immediately approached the wizard on guard. “Where’s Ron Weasley?”
“Just went back that way,” the young man said, pointing down the hall toward Maithwaite’s office.
“Maybe a minute?”
Harry bolted off down the hallway, jogging briskly in hopes of not missing anything. When he rounded the final corner he quickly slowed, already hearing raised voices.
“What do you mean you don’t know who it was?”
“It was an official Ministry memorandum. Everything was in order – the forms, the codes, the delivery,” the squat man protested.
“This might just be the case of your bloody lifetime! One of the most senior members of the Wizengamot! Whose code is this?”
“You know I can’t just–”
“This isn’t just some minor measurement mistake. We’re talking about new evidence!” Ron bellowed.
“I would need my reference book…I don’t feel comfortable…” Maithwaite muttered.
Harry entered the room, his face stern. “I don’t think either of us really cares much how you feel at the moment,” he said evenly.
The Healer reached for the right side of his desk with one hand, while surreptitiously burying the other in his robes. Carefully, he slid open a drawer and reached inside. Stealing a glance at the two Aurors in front of him, he attempted to quickly draw his wand, but instantly felt a wand at his throat. Maithwaite’s body stiffened, his face going pale almost instantly.
“Let it go,” Ron hissed. “Harry?”
Wand also drawn, Harry saw Maithwaite’s hand unclench within his robes. He nodded.
“We’re going to do this slowly,” Ron said. “Harry’s going to come around and take that wand out of your pocket. Then we’re going to have a nice little chat like we always planned on. Any funny business and I’ll let you have it.”
The ashen-faced coroner made no move as Harry dug into his robes and extracted the wand. Tossing it on the desk, he walked back and leaned sideways against one of the imposing filing cabinets.
At the same time, Ron grabbed the older wizard’s wand before pulling back his own. He flashed a hard glare at Maithwaite while their faces were still close together before he eventually took a seat in one of the empty chairs.
The visibly shaken older wizard dipped his hand back into the desk drawer, rummaging for a moment before producing a thin, red book that was leather-bound. Opening it to the appropriate page, he hesitated.
“The code,” Harry repeated icily. “Whose is it?”
“7A-462. Helena Garrick.”
Harry’s brow crinkled for a moment. “I want you to tell us exactly how you got orders to revisit this autopsy.”
“As I said,” Maithwaite began with annoyance, “everything was in order. The red envelope arrived with a uniformed patrol witch. She showed me her badge and left the envelope. The appropriate charms had been used to seal the envelope, with the initialed wax seal in the center. I recognized the code in the top right corner, but I checked it against my book to be certain. There was a valid match, so I opened it.”
“What was inside?”
Maithwaite rolled his eyes and exhaled. “Must I repeat everything? It was an official Ministry memorandum. In the correct form, again with the initialed wax seal and matching code.”
“And what specifically did this form ask you to do?”
“I was directed to re-examine the decedent’s back.”
“And that’s when I discovered them of course. We’re fortunate really. You should both be pleased,” the coroner said curtly. “Storming into my office, ordering me to break standard procedure…”
“Nobody ordered you to do anything,” said Harry.
“Oh of course, yes, it was just a kind suggestion I suppose,” Maithwaite snapped bitterly.
“Last I checked, I just asked you whose code it was,” Ron nonchalantly replied.
“And then you tried to draw your wand on us,” added Harry.
“You know Harry,” Ron began, “what I’d like to know is how such an experienced Healer misses this at the first go.”
“An excellent question,” Harry agreed.
“The markings weren’t visible before. It was only later that they appeared. As I said, we were fortunate that the funeral had to be delayed for a Ministry-sponsored affair.”
“And you’re confident they’re from a wand?”
“Unless you have an indication of the presence of some other object with a similarly small tip that could have been used to prod the victim of a magical killing…” Maithwaite answered dully.
Harry glared at the man.
“Well then,” Ron said, standing as he spoke, “I think we’re done here. It’s been brilliant as always…”
“Kindly leave,” Maithwaite said coolly.
A short time later, Harry and Ron found themselves back in the Auror Office. “So, we ought to go ahead and catch up then I reckon,” Ron ventured, slumping into his chair.
“May as well get it over with,” Harry agreed. “Did you come up with anything?”
“Aside from remembering how much I hate Pansy Parkinson? Afraid not.”
“She was a total waste as well then?”
“Yeah. Deliberately kept me waiting in the rain and then got all pissy because I was interrupting her preparations for her dinner party.”
“Just who you’d expect. Malfoy and his girl. Zabini coming in from France. Oh! There was one odd name. Coming with Zabini…”
“Yeah! That’s it! Adalie I think. Did you come up with something on them?”
“Sort of. They’re part of the reason I was looking into France. They used to be a prominent pureblood family here in Britain until they left in the 1950s.”
“Yeah, well, I asked Fleur about them last night. She could only share stories really, but she said they’re definitely pureblood fanatics. Lots of money. Completely isolated themselves in France, but they keep sending children back here to get married. Name’s just about on the verge of going dead though. This Adalie girl, maybe she was the daughter Fleur was talking about.”
“Well, if she’s having dinner with that lot, she’s bound to be bad news,” grumbled Ron.
“Did you get an idea how long she’d be here?”
“No…but Parkinson did say the travel was all approved by the Ministry. I’ll check the Portkey Office and pull their itinerary.”
“Good idea. Go back to around the murder too. See any of them were in-country – the Shafiqs or Zabinis.”
“What about you?”
“I’m off to confront Garrick about that memo. Then more follow-up on Hermione’s idea from earlier down in the Archives.”
“Right,” said Harry, shaking his head at the oversight. “I got so worked up over this business with Maithwaite…seems there’s a chance somebody was trying to influence Hughes’s vote…or he’d gone crooked.”
“Big surprise…though why kill him? One vote hardly makes a difference.”
“Yeah, well, it’s a bit more complicated than that. Seems he had about twelve members who mirrored his every vote.”
“Hell. I thought Hughes never shared his vote…”
“Did he have to?” Harry scoffed. “You know how they call it. It’s hardly a blind process. We ought to get Kingsley to tackle that next come to think of it.”
“Good luck,” Ron chuckled. “I think Kingsley might be wanting a vacation soon.”
“That makes at least four of us I think. Not sure about Hermione…” Harry joked, glancing sidelong at his red-haired friend.
“Heh,” Ron responded tepidly. “I think I might drop by there before I go scour the portkey records. See if I might convince her to have dinner.”
“Good luck to you,” Harry said pointedly. “Just don’t ask her to the Leaky,” he needled, recalling Ron’s most recent ill-fated attempt at enticing Hermione away from a working evening. “Better odds.”
“Sod off! Git!” Ron barked, tossing a wad of parchment from his wastebasket in Harry’s direction as his raven-haired friend walked away.
A/N: Concrete leads for the team! And even some possible connections! I know it’s taken awhile to get here so thanks for bearing with me. The next chapter will be quite a bit different, but then we’ll be in the thick of it again as we sprint for the finish. Thanks as always for reading! Burning question for this chapter – is this investigation moving too quickly?
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