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Chapter 7 : In All Seriousness
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This is a more serious chapter. Sorry, it is a serious matter after all. ;)
Please review and tell me what you think!
fantastic chapter image by wishaway. @ TDA
Lysander Scamander came by again the next day and the day following that. I don't know what the two of them talked about while he visited, for he didn't come into the cottage at all, and I didn't go outside to find out. He and Rose would just either sit in the garden of the cottage area on the lush grass or in a hammock or they would stroll the beach together. They always seemed to be in deep conversation, bonding over whatever was being said. If they weren't, then they were sharing a few good laughs.
How do I know that? Because I'll admit that I'm a creeper and would peer out through the windows of the cottage and watch them from afar. Not for too long, of course. Not for hours on end like the stalking sort, but only for a few short minutes or seconds here and there to get the gist of what was going on beyond my reach.
Sometimes I did worry about what Rose was sharing with him. I wondered if I should intervene and stop anything from happening, if I should keep her from saying anything about our whereabouts. I wasn't worried for Rose; I was worried for what Lysander's visit would do to the vase, if it would throw a curve ball into the entire thing.
But Rose couldn't help it. From her knowledge, she believed there was nothing wrong with visiting with the Scamander kid. She thought we were being kept safe while the ministry tried to solve the case.
I'm supposed to be collecting information and relaying it to Peakes and also to the Wizengamot. It could change the outcome of the case. It could ruin any chance for an alibi or lead to sufficient evidence against Rose's case if the wrong things were said to Lysander. I could lose my job for already breaking my contract so many times over. Because I don't know the kid, there's no knowing who he would open up his mouth to. Alice Longbottom, a girl working at the Ministry, that's for sure.
But I know I couldn't allow Rose to unintentionally throw her case down the drain. I had to help her case and hope for a positive outcome, not hope she gets thrown in Azkaban! So I decided I had to speak to either Peakes or Harry and ask for their opinion on the matter.
That's why, when Lysander appeared for the third day in a row, I blasted some smooth jazz music from the enchanted record before Rose went out to meet him, and I locked myself in my bedroom. I shut the drapes to my windows, and I felt my body returning to my own appearance. I scrambled into some better fitting clothes and was out of there in the next second.
Soon I was walking the halls of the Ministry of Magic, and once again, it was good to be back amongst the hustle and bustle of the place. I caught sight of Hermione across from the main atrium, and she paused in mid-conversation with her brother-in-law, Percy Weasley. She touched his arm and motioned in my direction. Percy turned to see who she was motioning to, and I inclined my head to the both of them. I didn't think it would be very smart of me if we were to speak in person, so our communication from a distance was enough for now.
There was a mutual understanding the three of us shared together with that nod, and I moved along.
There were actually quite a few Ministry workers who spotted me, did a double-take, and debated saying something to me as they tried to figure out why exactly I was there. I guess word had spread that I was apparently in Egypt working on Rose's case, for I was quite surprised at the workers who were stunned to see me.
I headed down to the Auror department and spotted all the familiar faces. In the Auror lounge, Harry was kneading on the coffee mug in his hands and Ron was sitting next to him with his feet propped up on the nearest chair. Then, to my surprise, I was not expecting to see the guy who plopped down in between the two of them. Harry's son, James, dropped down into one of the chairs with a sigh and a heavy groan. He tossed his long, raven hair about and looked to be in a sense of full tranquility.
I wondered what on earth James was doing here in the Auror department. Perhaps just a visit, was my guess, but I don't know how James had time for a visit these days. Especially at this time of year. He was a Chaser for the Cannons, and they were currently on tour for the World Cup, making their way to - hopefully - play for the Quidditch World Cup. His team had had much success during the new season, and I was sure that their team would go far. He was in America two weeks ago when this whole mess arose, and I hadn't seen him since before that.
Also in the lounge were a few of my Auror friends, but none of them I trusted with seeing me with my god-father and his family. I only trusted Max to not open his mouth and tell Peakes that I was speaking to Harry, so I knew I couldn't risk getting in trouble by talking to them in public. Luckily, they were sitting at the table nearest the door, so I poked my head into the doorframe and whistled low under my breath. "Oi, get out here."
Thankfully, the three of them turned around, and they all gave a start. Harry jumped as he held the mug of coffee in his hand, and some of it splattered onto his hands and his pants. Ron muttered his signature phrase of "bloody hell" under his breath, and I had to give James a wary expression to keep him from shouting about my presence. He was the first to leave his chair. Seeing that they were rising, I backed away from the door and immediately set off down the hall to keep a good distance from them. I only looked over my shoulder once to make sure they were still on my tail, and then I slipped into Harry's office.
As soon as James entered, he grinned and nearly tackled me to the ground. James played rough; always had, and ever since he joined the Cannons two years ago, he had grown even more so. Those Quidditch boys had worn off on him.
"You!" he said with a tease as he jumped on me and rubbed my head.
I chuckled as Ron and Harry filed in, shutting the door behind them, and I pushed James off of me. He was a big kid. Well, not really a kid anymore. The twenty-one-year-old had been fortunate enough to inherit the Weasley height and not his father's, but he did inherit Harry's black hair. James was tall, standing over even my own height, and he was broad and built to go with it, the perfect build for being a professional Chaser. "Wotcher, Jamie," I said with a wink.
"Purple hair, purple hair!" James demanded, and I laughed under my breath before the roots shot a deep purple. He clapped his hands together. "Nice. Very feminine. So you, don't you think?"
"You idiot," I snorted and shoved him.
Harry chuckled at the two of us and approached me, slipping me a manly hug. "Enough rough-housing, you two. Ted, how are you?"
"Doing all right, Harry," I nodded. "How are things here?"
"The same," Harry nodded along. "Or at least for Ron and I. We're not too sure of the things we've missed. What, with us being all out of the loop and what not."
"Right. Guess you two aren't the right person to ask about that, huh," I muttered under my breath.
"How is Rosie doing, Ted?" Ron asked me, dropping into an arm chair. I spun around, deciding where I wanted to plant myself. James had already kicked back in his father's lounge chair, but Harry walked around to the other side of his desk and dumped James out of the chair and onto the floor. I snickered and just decided with sitting on Harry's desk while James went to the other chair across the room.
"She's doing well, Ron," I said. "But that's all I can tell you about that. Unless you want to have the conversation we had last time."
"No," Ron sighed and looked down to his lap. He fiddled with his thumbs and had a disappointed expression on his face. I had the sudden urge to tell him, and it made me not really give a damn about my contract on the case at all. But I resisted as best I could. I glanced to Harry, and he was organizing the items on his desk as he watched us. I could tell he was trying to make sure we followed the rules. His eyes would move to the two of us as he appraised our exterior, trying to decide if we would break the rules.
I couldn't bear to look at him anymore; Harry made me nervous when he did that. He was such a good guy when it came to things like this. Apparently he was always a rule breaker, but when it came to the Auror department and, I guess, the future of his niece, he didn't want any rules being broken.
I looked to James in the arm chair. He was sprawled about all over the place; his limbs were so long he hardly fit in the chair. In fact, he looked like a giant sitting in a little kid's chair. His hair was so long that, with his head tilted down, you could hardly see his eyes. He was currently bewitched with tugging on the ends of his hair. Why exactly he was doing that, I have no idea.
I sighed and had to rid my thoughts of Harry. "So what are you doing here, James? Thought you were in America on tour for the month."
"Yupp," he said, straightening up and adjusting his Cannons shirt. "Was. Until we had all our games. We would have been in America longer if we had lost to Fitchburg Finches; that would have put us in the bottom bracket of the World Cup. But of course, we didn't lose. We won. So we play Puddlemore United in two days. I was just dropping by to visit because we're checking in at the campsite this afternoon as a team."
"Ah," I said and kicked my feet about.
Harry sighed, still watching the focus on the tension in the room on the subject that was at the back of all of our minds. He began to talk about anything other than the case. "So what are you doing back at the Ministry, Teddy?"
"Just dropping in with Peakes, and I'm gonna try to catch up with any other news. I just thought I would drop by," I rolled my shoulders.
"Right. Well, maybe you should go drop in with him. I know you're temptin Ron and I..." He faltered and looked at me hopelessly. I got the memo that he wanted me to leave.
I pursed my lips together. "Oh, right. I'm sorry."
"Hey, it's okay," he said, and I looked to Ron. He looked disappointed in Harry; I knew Ron was nowhere near Harry was. Ron wanted to know what there was to know. "I understand. I know what's going on, and I know you're tempted to ask. You're just doing what's right."
"Yeah, but keep in touch. Owl us every once and a while," Harry urged.
"I will," I said and then dismissed myself. I did notice on my way out, however, that James was particularly disappointed that I was leaving without giving him any news. Actually Ron was as well. With Harry behind me, I gave them both a look that clearly meant I would tell them whatever they wanted to know after my meeting with Peakes if they came to find me.
I left the office and headed towards Peakes'. I knocked before entering, and when he spotted me, he dropped all of his work and looked particularly pleased to see me. "Lupin! I was hoping you'd take the time to drop by today."
"Oh...?" I said in more of a question and not a statement. What the hell did Peakes want me for?
"You're stopping by at the perfect time too. Come, you're now a witness in the case and Scorpius Malfoy begins his trial in Wizengamot in a half hour."
"What the...?" I had to brace myself to keep from yelling fuck at the end of that question, but no matter how hard I tried to refrain my words, my mind was blurting the F-bomb all over the place.
Seriously, a witness? Why?!
"Uh - I..." I spluttered about everywhere, lost and thoroughly irritated. "Why?!"
"Because you've been with one of the defendants, you idiot! You've - I'm sure - learned valuable information since you entered confinement with Weasley. I'm sure you have something beneficial to the case to say."
"I..." I faltered, and really, I had no idea how to get myself out of this hole. "No, I really don't."
"Mmmm," Peakes disagreed. He grabbed the collar of my shirt and hauled me out of his office. "I disagree. There's got to be something in that head of yours that will benefit the case in some way or other, and they need you in Wizengamot simply for formalities to go down on permanent record."
As we entered the hall, Ruckman rounded a corner and blanched. He then seemed to approve of Peakes having me by the collar of my shirt. Obviously Ruckman knew what Jimmy was at. When we passed in the hall, I inclined my head to Ruckman. "Johnny boy."
"Lupi - hey!"
I snickered, but before we had the chance to say anything else to one another, Peakes tossed me into the elevator and we were headed towards the Wizengamot. He began to give me the laydown of what would happen down there. "Because your information may be so useful if we put two and two together, you are allowed to ask Malfoy questions. But be smart, Lupin. Think on your feet and only ask questions that will either convict or release Scorpius Malfoy. No beating around the bush in here."
"But I don't know if he's guilty or innocent! And I'm sure as hell not a lawyer," I defended.
But Peakes didn't care. He hauled me right on down until I was stumbling into the Wizengamot. The chamber was full, and I always hated it you entered a room and all eyes turned towards the new comers. Well, that's exactly what happened, and then I felt as if I were being judged by everyone. But more importantly, I felt as if I were some key part in this case. The way everyone looked at me made me feel as if I had the key to the entire thing.
Why did I accept this case?! I hate the looks I get, and let's face it: having purple hair for the time being wasn't really helping my situation.
I kept my head down and let my roots shoot a natural shade of chocolate brown. My eyes quit being a flamboyant aqua and became a cool green. At least that was more subtle.
"Ah," I heard Geoffrey Sondheim, the Acting Minister for the moment, say from the front of the Wizengamot. "Mr. Lupin. Thank you for joining us."
"Listen, I don't really think I'm qualified for this," I said humbly, but Peakes dumped me in the center of the Wizengamot and went to stand on the edge of the stands, assuming his proper position. I looked to him as he slouched against the wooden side of the stands, and he inclined his head towards me. "Go on then."
Grinding my teeth together, I looked to Geoffrey Sondheim. He motioned to the chair behind me. "Wizengamot calls Ted Remus Lupin to the stand. Sit please."
I let out a grunt as I backed up into that godforsaken chair in the center. It was cold and definitely too large for anyone who would sit in the thing. It made me feel like a child being reprimanded by a bunch of strangers.
"State your name for the record, please," he instructed me.
I was not comfortable in this chair in the least. If the looks weren't enough, I felt like I had become one of the ones to be hated in this case. Like I had something to do with the murder. Just from being in this chair for ten seconds, I have certainly received that vibe.
Why did I have to state my name for the record? He just said it bloody fifteen seconds ago...
"Ted Remus Lupin," I huffed.
"And what is your current form of involvement with defendants Scorpius Malfoy and Rose Weasley?" Sondheim asked, tapping his wand against the wooden railing before him. He looked utterly bored in a good and powerful sense of the word. If he were to win the campaign for Minister of Magic, he would definitely enjoy the position. That much is for sure.
"I am an Auror that has been assigned to the case. I have no involvement with Scorpius Malfoy, but I have been assigned to live with Rose Weasley in confinement for the purpose of discovering leads until further notice."
"And have you had any success?"
"I wouldn't call it success, sir," I said as I fidgeted.
"What have you learned from Rose Weasley concerning the relationship between the two defendants?"
"There was no relationship between the two, if any, until now. The now being me pretending to be Scorpius Malfoy."
"Can you clarify?"
"Yes, sir. I would assume completely that Rose and Malfoy had little to no contact between their completion of Hogwarts and now. Rose had no prior knowledge as to Malfoy's lifestyle these days. Being in confinement and pretending to be him, Rose Weasley has no reason or obligation to lie to me. So I can only conclude that it is the truth that they weren't in contact before the murder and, therefore, they did not conspire the murder together."
A hushed murmur hit the chamber, and I could only assume that this caused a drastic turn in the case. I had just ruled out any possibility of the two working together. That led either Rose to be the criminal. Or Malfoy. Or neither. Which, for the sake of their futures, I hope it is neither.
In all seriousness, I would help in any way I could. I now understood that I had information that others didnít quite have access to. I could provide an outlet to solving the crime by piecing it together one by one. I realized this as the chamber whispered and fidgeted in their seats, trying to place mental wagers on who committed the crime, if either of them did.
Neither of them deserves Azkaban. Even if one of them did do it, there must have been a motive behind it all. I refused to believe that either of them would do it out of their own free will. I don't know where this case will go or who will be innocent or guilty, but I do hope for the best for the both of them. With the eyes of the members of Wizengamot upon me, I realized just how crucial a part I played in this case. No matter how badly I wanted out of it all.
I didn't wish to be a part of this at all anymore. Someone would be hurt as time and the case progressed. Either Malfoy would be thrown into Azkaban, or Rose would and I couldn't even begin to imagine the reactions she would receive from her family. Not to imagine the reaction I would get when she found out it was me all along. Nothing good could come out this anymore except for the clearing of Rosie's name, and that was my ultimate goal in this whole fiasco.
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