It wasn't until just after six am that they finally found something that would help them. Ron dropped a bunch of papers onto the table, abruptly waking Teddy from his restless sleep. He jumped up quickly, removing his head from Tim's knee, and rubbed his eyes before looking up at the man. Harry, Ginny and Hermione quickly followed, so they were all dividing their attention between Ron and Ted. They all wanted to know what was going on.
Ron pointed his finger at the right corner of the first piece of paper. "Do you recognize this?"
Ted removed the last bit of sleep from his eye and took the piece of paper for a closer look; it was an old Prophet photo and after a moment, Ted remembered it. He nodded slowly. "It's an old apartment building where his first crime scene was; it was not long after he'd been expelled. He was still a teenager. He killed a girl the same age as him."
Tim scanned the photo, then looked up. "What about it?"
Ron moved away to grab more papers, returning quickly to show them. "This is the first crime scene in the beginning of October. What do you see?"
Harry pushed himself between Ron and Ginny, getting a closer look, and he pointed into the very corner of the new crime scene photo. "The same apartment building is right across from the alley we found the girl in."
"Is he going back? Killing his victims in the same order as the first time?" Hermione asked.
Ron shook his head. "No, our second second victim was killed in a different place to our first second victim." It took people a moment to understand what he'd meant and Ginny had to roll her eyes at her brother for complicating his sentence. "But he does want us to notice."
"How so?" It was Ted's turn to ask.
"The name," Ron said simply. He pointed to the report on the victim years before and the victim in the beginning of October. "Sammie Taylor, Maggie Taylor."
"Coincidence?" Ginny asked next.
"No." They turned to Harry, who had picked up the reports. He put them back after a moment. "Same parents. They were sisters."
"He killed sisters in pretty much the same place, years apart," Hermione said slowly, summing up her husband's link. Then she asked Ted the question Ron and the others were thinking. "What's so special about this place?"
"Sentimental value," Ted shrugged. "It was his first victim. He was crazy about firsts, made them special." Ted's eyes widened. "He's probably staying there!"
"Put a team together, Ron," Harry commanded, officially on duty as Head Auror. "We leave no later than an hour."
"I'm coming with you," Ted said, standing up. He held up a hand when Harry looked like he was about to protest, speaking before he could, "People seeing me won't be a huge shock now that the world no longer thinks I'm dead, because we both know everyone at that party told. Besides, it's not like I can't do anything. I'm a qualified Auror now, I'm not a kid. Don't try to stop me."
"I won't," Harry replied after a long pause. He knew Ted was an adult now; he had to let go. "Get ready."
The plate smashed into tiny pieces the moment it hit the wall, he threw it with such force. The doctor had disappeared; he hadn't been in his apartment or been seen at work since he'd talked to Graham that morning.
Of course he did. Lupin always managed to get in his way; he had probably shown his picture to the world now that the people in it knew the Savior's godson was alive and well. And he knew more about him than Simon liked. They were just three of his reasons why he wanted the man dead.
Simon grabbed his knife and hid it in the back of his trousers, his mind made up. He didn't care that he would finally be known, maybe it was time the world knew who he was and what he could do, he just wanted Lupin dead and he wouldn't wait for it anymore. So, he would go to Lupin, to the Ministry if he had to.
Loud voices and yells from below stopped him and he changed his direction away from the door, to the window instead. Groups of people he could just make out were waiting for something, pushing people away from the apartment building, groups which looked like police but didn't.
And there in front was Ted Lupin; he must have figured out the connection to the first murder to get here. As though he'd known he was being watched, Lupin looked up to the window. Simon smiled down at him, a new plan forming. He should have known he wouldn't need to look for Lupin.
Lupin was always going to come to Simon.
"He's in there," Ted said to Harry. "I just saw him in the window."
Harry glanced up. "Then we should hurry before he decides to run for it. Come on!" he called to the group of senior Aurors, led by Ron.
They walked through, their pace hurried and urgent, until they got to the apartment number the old lady on the floor below had told them he was in. They divided their group into three - Harry and Ted on the left of the door, Ron and a senior Auror on the right, with two more standing in front and protected by temporary wards. Harry banged on the door with his fist.
"Simon Ross, this is the Auror department. You're under arrest. Open the door." Nothing happened and Harry banged louder. "You've got no where else to go, Simon!"
"I'm not going anywhere," he called back. The door swung open slowly and the Aurors stepped inside, their wands out and pointed at him. Simon Ross stood in the middle of the dirty, old apartment and dropped his wand. Then he raised his hands up into the air and let them rest at the back of his head. "See? I'm all yours."
Without releasing eye-contact, Harry nodded and Ron moved across the room. He took Ross' hands and brought them behind his back, where he bound them together with Muggle cuffs. Then Ron searched him, pulling out the knife but nothing more.
"Come on," he muttered, pushing Ross out of the apartment.
Ted stepped back to let them through and caught Ross' eye. Ross winked and continued walking. Anger burned inside him, threatening to explode. Something feels wrong.
But he followed them anyway, straight to the Ministry and into the inerview room they threw Ross in.
Harry and Ron came back with their case files and a plan of what to say to Ross to see Ted in the exact same place they'd left him - by the door, watching through the glass.
"Something the matter, Ted?"
He turned at the mention of his name and shrugged. "This is too easy. Simon has never been caught, has never wanted to be caught, so why now?"
"Just be thankful he's finally going to jail. He can't do anything here," Ron promised. "Are you coming in?"
Ted nodded and followed the two men inside the interview room. Ross' eyes went straight to his and he smiled again; cocky and arrogant, saying he was up to something.
"Hey, Teddy. Long time, no see." Ted said nothing; he stayed on his feet in the corner and watched as Harry and Ron took their seats in front of him. "Not talking today, mate. After all this time, you don't get to demand answers from me yourself. I'm gutted. I may not want to talk at all now."
Ted almost wished the monster in front of him wasn't bound, would say the things he was saying to his face so he had a reason to hurt him. "Don't call me 'mate'," was all he made himself say.
"Do you miss yours?" Ross smirked. "Do you wish he was here right now, standing with you and rejoicing because the Aurors finally have me, finally know about me I should say. Poor David, I hear he's dead now. Sorry for your loss."
"Let's talk about David," Harry interrupted. "Why did you want him dead?"
"He got in my way," Ross answered, his eyes still on Ted. "He caught me sneaking around school and threatened to tell. Then Teddy here got in the way because he did tell. One down, one to go."
"This is all because of a school grudge?" Ron asked, horrified.
"David and Ted are, sure," Ross said causally.
Harry pushed the first case closer to him. "Sammie Taylor, the girl you killed not long after you were expelled, why did you kill her?"
"I needed her wand. And the guy I killed after her died because I needed money."
"And the third victim?"
"Kill or be killed," Ross said with a shrug. "He thought he could steal from me and when I said no, he tried to beat me to get them. He wasn't as good as me, though. Too slow, too cocky."
Ron moved the old files and replaced them with the new files. "Why did you kill Sammie's sister?"
"A clue," Ross said. "I wanted Ted to understand, to know that I knew he'd come to London for me and I was waiting. I thought he'd find me faster than he did, I'm a little disappointed. So, I stepped it up a notch."
Ross shook his head. "He was just to keep you busy, Potter. No, Ted's was much more entertaining."
"It can't have been David's murder, that was in your plan anyway," Ted said. "The fire."
"History does like to repeat itself sometimes," Ross smiled cruelly. "I was looking forward to seeing who the fire would take this time, since you lived, but considering you managed to get everyone out, the look on your face was enough. Did it bring back bad memories?"
"Why did you kill your family?"
Ross dropped his smile quickly and for the first time, they saw a flash of uncertainty and fear on his face. "That would be telling," he whispered.
"You've told us everything else," Harry pointed out. "Answer his question."
Ross remained silent for so long, they started to think he was choosing now to shut up, maybe even ask for a lawyer. When they were about to give up and change the topic, Ross smiled again.
"Check your files again, compare the murder of my family to everything else I've done. What do you see?" They did so, Teddy moving forward to look to. Ross continued to talk. "You've wanted me for so long that you were blind to everything else, Ted. You didn't see. But you have me now, you can open your eyes, your mind."
"This is different," Ted whispered. He checked the wounds, the causes of death, everything. There were differences. They were subtle, but they were definitely there. The murder of his family was too precise, too experienced, for a barely turned fifteen year old filled with rage over being expelled. There could be no way he'd have learnt to have that much control between Sammie Taylor and his family. Teddy hadn't noticed before; Ross had gotten better as he'd gotten older and Ted hated looking at the poor, little girl. But he could see now. He looked Ross in the eye. "You didn't kill your family."
"Nope," Ross answered, making a popping sound with his lips when he got to 'p'.
"Who did?" Harry demanded to know.
But Ross refused to say. He shook his head and leaned back in his seat. "That would be telling," he repeated. "But I will say that he's worse than anyone you can imagine, even me. How scary is that?"
"Why were you in Tim Graham's morgue," Harry changed the subject, trying to keep his voice steady. But the thought of there being someone worse than Simon Ross out in the world shook him.
"Ah, Graham. Where is he?"
"Safe," Ted snapped. "Answer the question."
"Checking my handy-work," Ross grinned, a bitter edge in his tone was the only thing that said he wasn't exactly happy about having to do so. "I beat him. I needed to make sure he was dead."
"But it was locked," Ron frowned.
"I can only imagine why," Ross glared. "Graham disappeared before I could find him and ask."
David. Ted's eyes widened and he knew, he just knew that it had to be true. No one else had the files and could send people pictures as warnings because no one else knew. Ted ran, ignoring the shouts from Harry and Ron and the remarks from Ross. He ran to the conference room, but it was empty apart from Harry's secretary.
"Where is he?" She jumped and spun around with her hand on her heart, yelling about him trying to scare her to death. "Healer Timothy Graham, where is he?"
"He's gone," she answered. "As soon as he heard that you'd caught Ross, he said he could finally go home to shower and change. He's not a prisoner, he's allowed to leave."
"Shit," Ted growled, his mind thinking of anywhere Tim would go. There was only one place that came to him. "Tell Harry and Ron I had to go to the hospital, but I'll be back."
Ted left the department, ran through the atrium and floo'd to the hospital. He didn't stop until he reached the morgue, letting the door slam against the wall. He only stopped when he was stood face-to-face with Tim, who sat on the cold metal table looking apologetic and cautious.
"You knew," Ted snapped.
"I helped him."
So, Tim told him everything...
"Hello! Healer Graham!"
Tim came running out of his office, thinking there was an emergancy, and was surprised to find David breathing heavily in his office. His face was bright red and he looked as though he was going to faint any minute. "What the hell, David?"
"I was -" He lost his breath and pointed mutely at the door. When he got it back, he dropped his hand and shrugged. "Never mind. I need your help. Promise me that no matter what happens, you'll do as I ask."
Tim stepped back at the forcefulness of his tone and held up his hands in surrender. "No matter what, I promise."
"The guy Harry is looking for, the one who's responsible for your two new bodies, I know who he is and he's after me."
"Then you need to tell Harry."
David shook his head. "No, that's already taken care of. Harry will know soon. But I can't run from his guy any more, he's going to find me. When he does, he'll kill me. I need you to make sure it looks real."
"I don't understand," Tim frowned.
"My death is personal to him, he'll most likely use his fists like he did the first time. I need something that will make me look dead, so that he'll stop before he actually kills me."
"You're serious." David nodded. "Hang on." Tim left for his office again and when he came back, he had a small vail between his thumb and forefinger. "We use this on serious injuries, patients who could die at any moment. You take some and you fall unconscious, your heartbeat slows way down and we need hospital equipment and magic to know you're still breathing, then we can heal you without you feeling any pain. There should be no way he could notice." Tim threw it to him and David just managed to catch it between his fingers. "Take it all, it'll be enough for a few hours. It takes about ten minutes to kick in because it works slowly so you don't come out of it worse than you were, so time it correctly. We don't want you really dead because he got to you before it worked."
"Thanks, Tim," David said gratefully, pocketing the vail. "I owe you one."
"You owe me an explanation," he promised. "They'll bring you here, Harry will come, what do I tell him?"
"That I'm dead, he needs to believe it because he'll freak for reasons I can't say yet, but you can't tell him about this. You've already promised."
Tim nodded, understanding despite hating that he was in this position. "I'll see you later then."
Tim opened the door with his wand and allowed Ted to see that it was empty. A mix of anger and relief filled Ted and he didn't know which he felt more. "He faked his own death and he never told me."
"As soon as Harry left, I finished healing him. When he woke up, he only had a few cuts and bruises - it looked like he'd been in a fight, but no where near dead," Tim told him. "I demanded to know who was impersonating him, but he never mentioned you. He just said that you were a friend and that you'd make sure Harry knew everything. I told him about the door to get out without needing to walk through the hospital and I left. I haven't seen him since."
"Did he tell you were he was going?"
Tim shook his head sadly. "Sorry."
Ted accepted his apology and sat by his side on the metal table. He chose to feel relieved; his best friend was alive and Ross was finally in jail. David would come back and Harry would know the truth, he'd go back to work and they'd deal with what would happen with Ted - it was a criminal offense to impersonate a Ministry official, especially an Auror.
They'd deal with it all.
"Thank you for saving his life," Ted said softly.
They nodded and smiled and Ted stood to leave when a silver stag came through and Harry's voice spoke. "Ross killed the guard taking him to his holding cell. He's gone. He's left you something, Ted."
They froze in place. In less than hour, their lives had gone from safe, right back to hell. They watched as the stag disappeared in the air and Tim swore. "Well, I need a drink. I don't know about you, but I'd rather not remember hearing that a psycho's just escaped, so soon after he'd been caught as well. The press will go wild. Are you coming?"
Ted shook his head. "I need to know what he left for me. And you need to work."
"Don't remind me."
The guard's body was still on the floor, just outside the cell Ross was meant to be placed in. Ted maneuvered himself past the Aurors and stepped inside, standing next to Harry and Ron. The cell was dark, no windows for light to come in and the Aurors were blocking the entrance. He copied the two men and used wandlight, shining it against the cell wall. The blood was still wet, dripping down, but it was readable.
I found you, Ted. I've made it a month you'll never forget. See you soon.
A funeral for 'David' was the next week. His family, friends and fellow Aurors were stood around the gravesite, watching the coffin being lowered. Ted, Harry, Ron and Tim stood a little way back. They were the only one's who knew the truth and they made a promise to keep it that way; Ross thought he was dead, he couldn't know he'd failed.
"Huh, I had no idea this many people liked me."
All four stayed as still as they could so not to attract attention to themselves. They'd talked about David coming - who could resist coming to their own funeral? - and they were prepared. But seeing him alive still shocked them, still had Ted wanting to turn around and hug his best friend.
"Did you get our message?" Harry asked.
"Ross escaped, he's coming for Ted and I'm staying dead. Missed anything?"
"Tim is rejoining the Auror department. He wants to help and he's safer at the Ministry; no body's tried to kill him there. Ted has your job now. They're partners," Ron continued. "People believed you'd come back early. We told them fake you and Harry split up during your interviews, so he was alone when he found the real, fake-dead you. Ted came back when he'd heard about you."
"Plausible, I guess. Good luck in your new job, Ted," David smiled softly.
"Thanks. What will you do now?"
David shrugged. "I've always wanted to visit South America, well, North America, and the rest of the world now that I think about it. But you'll still hear from me and I'll keep listening, I promise. We will get him."
"I hope so."
With one final nod and a wave, David disappeared, just as people began to leave the cemetery. Harry and Ron gave their good byes and went to David's family. Tim balanced his arm on Ted's shoulder and watched him. "What now?"
Ted watched Harry hug David's mother and fought to hide that almost uncontrollable rush of anger that seemed to be just for Simon Ross. He'd caused pain and suffering for too long and Ted refused to let it happen again.
"We get him."
A/N: And the last chapter is finally posted, after over a year. It's an odd moment... I've left a sequel open, but I don't know. Maybe after I've completed a few other stories, I'll come back and think about it.
Until then, I hope you enjoyed this mystery. Please leave a review and let me know what you think. :)