Chapter 1 : Werewolf Capture
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Rachael Codnor fought the urge to rub her temples as she looked at the woman sitting before her. When Adams from the Muggle Liason Office had stuck his head in and informed her that she had a new case, she’d really wanted to smack him.
She was second in command of the Werewolf Capture Unit, and right now she really needed to be focusing on the possible werewolf running around Edinburgh, not sitting here with a muggle who’d seen some people dressed up for Halloween and jumped to ridiculous conclusions.
Rachael did not doubt that the woman was genuinely upset. She was wringing her hands and chewing on her lip as her eyes darted around the room; she was clearly a muggle deeply out of her comfort zone.
That, however, did not make this a werewolf case.
However, Rachael was not going to be the one to dismiss this without at least hearing her out. A waste of time didn’t have the same capacity to come back and bite you in the arse as discovering you’d dismissed a case prematurely did.
“What makes you think that you saw a werewolf?” she asked, leaning forward and trying very hard not to sound condescending.
The woman took a deep breath, but as she opened her mouth to speak, her eyes filled with tears. Rachael handed her a handkerchief, trying to conceal her impatience.
“I’m sorry,” the woman said, wiping her eyes and sniffing. “It’s just been…” she trailed off and looked away.
“Just start from the beginning…” Rachael paused, realizing that she didn’t know the woman’s name.
“Catherine.” The woman gave a shaky smile and pushed her frizzy brown hair back from her face. “Catherine Kingston.” She took a deep breath and began to talk. “I live in Millerston, in Scotland. It—”
“I know it,” Rachael said. The Hogwarts Express passed within a few miles of the village, and one of her friends in school had grown up there. Rachael had only visited it once, but from what she recalled, it was a quiet, lonely little village with an abnormally high population of wizards. Catherine looked faintly surprised, and Rachael added, “Keep going.”
She certainly felt a degree of sympathy for the muggle woman; magical creatures frightened muggles at the best of times, and for good reason. Even a lone pixie could do serious damage if it thought it could get away with it, and werewolves were no pixies. However, she also did not have all day to play nursemaid to muggle women.
Catherine swallowed hard and shifted in her seat. “A few months ago, I was walking home from a friend’s house. It was a bit late, and we’re just outside the village, but it’s really not far, only about half a kilometre, and it’s always been very safe.” She said this all very quickly. “My neighbor had been bitten by a wild dog the month before, but since then there hasn’t been anything, so…” she trailed off.
Rachael frowned. “A wild dog?”
“Yes,” Catherine said. “That’s what she said. She needed stitches and a rabies shot.”
Rachael nodded. She knew enough about the muggle world to vaguely understand the magical equivalent to the treatment Catherine was describing. “Well? What happened?”
Catherine licked her lips. “I heard a rustling in the bushes, and then something jumped out at me. It came at me, it bit me, and I kicked it. Then it ran away.”
For the first time since Catherine had sat down, Rachael’s curiosity was piqued. For any animal – wild dog, wolf, or werewolf – to run away just because a small, rather unimposing woman had kicked it was very odd.
“It looked more like a wolf than a dog,” Catherine said uselessly. “But I wasn’t sure. The light on that part of the path was out, so I didn’t see it very clearly.”
“What makes you think it was a werewolf?”
“Well, it was a full moon, but I didn’t.” Catherine was studying the hourglass on Rachael’s desk that was counting down to the next full moon. “Not at first. My brother is a wizard, you know, but I don’t know much about magic. I didn’t think that werewolves were real.”
Well, that explained how she’d ended up at the Ministry of Magic.
“What changed your mind?” Rachael asked. Maybe Charlie Adams hadn’t sent her a dud after all.
“The bite seemed to take a long time to heal, even with stitches. I still have a scar.” She held out her arm, and Rachael got to her feet and leaned over her desk to look at it.
It was always hard to tell with these things, but to Rachael, it definitely resembled a werewolf bite.
It also looked fairly old.
“When did this happen?” she asked.
“Almost three months ago.” Catherine had progressed to chewing on her lip. “I didn’t know what was happening. I…” she hesitated. “I’ve had some problems before. With hallucinations and blackouts. I haven’t for awhile,” she hastened to add, “but I was afraid that that was all it was.”
This was definitely starting to sound like a werewolf case. She’d have to apologize to Adams.
“But?” Rachael prompted her.
She sighed. “After the second time, I started to worry. It seemed unusual that it would happen at the same time every month. So I mentioned it to my brother, and he started asking me questions. I asked him what he thought, and he said he thought it might be a werewolf.” Her eyes were filling with tears. “I might be a werewolf. I didn’t even know that werewolves existed, I swear. If I’d known…”
“What’s done is done,” Rachael said quickly. The wheels were turning in her head. If this was a werewolf case – and it was looking increasingly likely – there were at least two other werewolves in the area at large: Catherine’s friend and the “wild dog” that had bitten her. The idea that no one else had been bitten, however, in the four or five months this had been going on, seemed very unlikely.
Why hadn’t anyone reported this? There were enough wizards in the area that they should have known.
“I…” Catherine hesitated. “I think I might have bitten someone.”
Rachael suddenly realised what was worrying her so much. “It’s not your fault,” she said. “We don’t hold werewolves responsible for what they do in wolf form unless they clearly acted recklessly, and regardless, you’re a muggle. You couldn’t have known.”
Catherine visibly relaxed. “Is there a cure?” she asked tentatively. “My brother said there wasn’t, but…”
“No,” Rachael said, and Catherine deflated again. “We can give you a potion that will allow you to keep your mind, but we can’t stop you from turning into a wolf, if that is what’s happening.”
Personally, at this point she was all but convinced, but one could never be sure.
After a moment, Catherine nodded. “It’s better than nothing.”
Rachael stood up. “Thank you for coming in,” she said, extending her hand. Catherine took it gingerly and shook. “You’re free to go home. I’ll be coming by in the next day or two with a few of my associates. We’ll want the name of your neighbor and to see the site where the incident took place.”
Catherine nodded, and Rachael saw her to the door. A nervous looking young man was sitting outside, and when the door opened, he jumped to his feet.
Rachael smiled at him. “Thank you for bringing your sister in,” she said. “We appreciate it. We’ll be by in the next few days to follow up.”
The man swallowed and gave a quick nod. He didn’t seem able to speak.
As Rachael watched them retreat down the corridor, she felt a familiar twinge at the top of her head that always seemed to happen before everything all went to hell.
This was starting to seem a lot like trouble.
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