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Harry Potter and the Manhattan Murders by Panacea

Format: Novel
Chapters: 13
Word Count: 23,218
Status: WIP

Rating: Mature
Warnings: Contains profanity, Strong violence, Scenes of a mild sexual nature, Substance abuse, Sensitive topic/issue/theme

Genres: Horror/Dark, Mystery
Characters: Harry, Draco, Neville, OC
Pairings: Other Pairing

First Published: 07/23/2019
Last Chapter: 05/22/2020
Last Updated: 05/22/2020

Summary:

A serial killer is on the loose, brutally murdering women in New York City.
The Manhatten Ministry of Magic are a team of highly skilled Auror's who face a dead end and every turn.
Famous for always playing the hero, they enlist Harry Potter to crack the case before it's too late.

But ghosts from Harry's darkest moments have found their way into Central Park and it might just be too late this time.



Chapter 1: Prologue
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It wasn’t the most well-lit path home but it was the quickest.

 

The chill and frost in the air attacked Heather's slivers of exposed skin, above her socks and where her woollen gloves didn’t quite meet her jacket sleeve. Her breath hung in the air like a ghost and wafted up to the glowing squares of apartment windows.

 

She wanted a cigarette but couldn’t decide if it was worth taking her gloves off for the nicotine hit. After the long day she’d had working for her tyrant of a boss, hoofing it around the city to run her errands, even pick up her dry cleaning. Maybe she would have the cigarette…

 

The street lamps ahead of her started to pulse, flicker and then died. Perfect, now it was even more creepy as she pulled her beanie further down her head she heard a sound.

 

Just a rat… or some homeless person trying to get comfortable for the long, cold night ahead. Heather decided to skip that cigarette and put her head down and increased her pace to get back to her apartment. She hoped her roommate was home and had left some dinner for her, maybe a glass or two of wine to unwind from the day.

 

That sound again.

 

“You gotta light?” A voice came from the shadows and nearly made her scream.

 

“Sorry, I don’t,” she lied and kept walking.

 

“Why are you lying?” The voice came again, male, a stranger.

 

“None of your damn business,” Heather said loudly, hoping to scare him off, she tried to get a look at him but he was purposefully cloaked in darkness.

 

“That’s not very polite now,” his accent was foreign, British or Australian.

 

“We can chat another time, preferably not in a dark alley in the middle of winter.” Heather took off again, stomping the ground harder to make more noise and seem larger than her petite frame.

 

He hadn’t followed her, just another New York weirdo, probably off his face on drugs or alcohol or both. Heather could see the end of the street; her apartment was just around the corner. Her mind drifted again to a nice glass of merlot and putting her sweats on.

 

The voice again, it was in front of her.

 

“Such a hurry.”

 

“How did you…”

 

“Magic, my sweet,” the voice purred.

 

“I’m going to scream if you don’t leave me alone,” she warned.

 

“No one will hear you,” he smirked, she caught a flash of pale skin and dark eyes, his teeth were even and straight.

 

He waved a stick at her, Heather laughed and quickly realised she made no sound. He watched her eyes grow wide and the panic settled into her simple mind, her mouth wide, she was certainly screaming now.

 

But no one could hear her.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



Chapter 2: One
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Harry thought London’s winters were brutal but New York could rival his hometown any day. His black wool coat buttoned at the neck, his cashmere grey scarf, matching beanie and gloves adorned his body and he still felt the chill to his bones.

 

He breathed into his hands to warm his face as he waited for an associate from Manhattan Ministry of Magic. They had brought him to New York for an unusual case and Harry had been requested by the President, they had put him up in the most luxurious hotel he’d ever seen. The excessive pampering and spoiling made Harry worry, just how bad was this case or were American’s just really over reaching?

 

Harry would be thirty this year, his Auror career was highly respected but of course everywhere he went he was still the boy who lived. At age 21 he was ‘The Boy Who Got Dumped’, front page news when Ginny and he broke it off, at 25 he was ‘The Boy Who Lived Lonely’, after the press decided to print about his love life or lack thereof.

 

After a while and possibly a little nudge from Hermione at the Daily Prophet, the press turned off Harry’s personal life and on his career. Ron worked for the Daily Prophet now as an editor and leading journalist, Hermione a healer at St Mungo’s specialising in children. Which was great as she and Ron had three of their own. Harry was Godfather and head babysitter, he hadn’t been much help of late. He was now Head Auror and was required to travel around the globe, putting out fires (magical and non magical). But it was his first visit to New York City and the city was bursting to seams with celebrity’s that no one even gave him a second glance.

 

Harry had changed his appearance from when his photo was last published, he’d grown a scruffy beard to hide behind and with Hermione’s help fixed his eyesight and no longer needed his signature glasses.

 

Here in New York City he felt like he could breathe a little better, no one was trailing his every move, they just didn’t have time. The city that never sleeps was certainly a way of life here, everyone rushed and zoomed about.

 

A sleek black jaguar rolled up to the hotel driveway and the doorman eagerly opened the car doors awaiting a tip. It cost him a sickle every time someone opened a door, carried a bag or gave directions.

 

“Mr Potter,” a wiry young man stepped out of the car, he was dressed impeccably and had a shock of silver hair for such a young face, his eyes twinkled blue at the sight of Harry.

 

“I am Evan Carlie from the Manhattan Ministry of Magic, on behalf of the Ministry we wish to express our gratitude for you coming here at such short notice. I trust your hotel is pleasant?”

 

“Yes thank you Mr Carlie, it’s wonderful,” Harry shook the man’s hand and received a strong grip.

 

“Please call me Evan,” he smiled, “we’re meeting some other colleagues in uptown, just a casual evening before we get into the serious business.”

 

“Sounds great,” Harry replied, he was itching to know what he was here to do but decided he might as well enjoy the perks while he could.

 

“Very good,” Evan opened the door for Harry and slid in beside him on the buttery leather interior, “we’ll be dining at the Skylark, a very popular hot spot for magical folk, we have a private area set up so you won’t be disturbed.”

 

Harry laughed, “thank you, although I don’t think I need it here.”

 

Evan appeared slightly shocked, “you are a huge celebrity here Mr Potter, we have kept your visit very private but once word gets out…”

 

“Please call me Harry,” he insisted, “it can’t be as bad as London.”

 

Evan hid a tight smile, “you’d be very surprised Harry, us American’s are known for being quite star struck!”

 

Harry watched as the expensive car slid in and out of traffic in utterly impossible ways. It travelled through the choked traffic so smoothly weaving in and out of lanes unnoticed.

The sun was long set but all the lights and neon signs from times square made it seem late afternoon on a cloudy day.

 

Evan opened the door for Harry and they stood outside a derelict and seemingly abandoned shopfront. In peeling, crusty letters the name ‘skylark’ was barely visible, like most places in the Wizardry world it had to go unnoticed to Muggles and Harry wondered what awaited him inside.

 

“Welcome to the Skylark,” Evan announced with a grin, he slid his wand around the fading letter K of the Skylark sign. The ground shifted beneath Harry and before he could even blink everything changed.

 

It was a step back in time, the 1920’s vintage décor, dimly lit candles and lamps created a golden glow around the room. Luxurious carpet and wall paper, everything was expensive and exclusive.

 

Evan led Harry to a slightly raised platform, it was shrouded in gossamer curtains, red velvet chairs and black marble tables. Two well-dressed men sat side by side sipping from crystal glasses.

 

“Tate, Felix,” Evan announced, “this is Harry Potter.”

 

Tate and Felix, stood up rather clumsily and bustled around to shake Harry’s hand. Tate was tall and very handsome, golden hair and piercing blue eyes, Felix was shorter but strong with a shaved head and kind brown eyes.

 

“An honour Sir,” Felix almost bowed to Harry’s embarrassment, “I’m Felix Allan Chief Auror of MMM.”

 

“I’m Tate Norther, Auror from MMM, we are so grateful to have you here,” Tate said sincerely.

 

“Thank you,” Harry replied, “let me buy this round,” he offered.

 

“Absolutely not,” Evan retorted, “you are our guest, what would you like to drink?”

 

“Firewhiskey thanks.”

 

“What’s that?” Tate asked.

 

“It’s an English whiskey,” Felix answered for Harry, “try our white owl whiskey, it’s similar, a little sweeter.”

 

“Felix is our resident alcoholic,” Tate joked, he grabbed the attention of a waitress quickly, she was more than happy to take his order.

 

“Tate is our resident stud,” Felix whispered and rolled his eyes as the waitress giggled at Tate.

 

Harry laughed, “what’s your role here Evan?”

 

“Most civil and well dressed,” Evan replied without a moment’s hesitation.

 

“That’s why he got given the job of picking you up,” Felix laughed, “he’s the most impressive.”

 

“I was impressed when I got to the hotel to be honest,” Harry admitted.

 

“Thanks Dolly,” Tate winked at the waitress whose cheeks burned.

 

“To Harry, coming all this way to save our sorry asses,” Felix announced.

 

They all took a gulp of the whiskey, Harry loved this brand it went down smooth and just a hit of sweetness.

 

“You were right,” Harry said to Felix, “that’s great stuff.”

 

“Easy to drink though pal,” he warned.

 

“Is this your whole team?”

 

Tate looked cheekily around, “there’s one more but they’re still working, undercover for us, you’ll meet them soon enough.”

 

Harry didn’t like the smirk they all gave each other, “should I be worried?”

 

“Not at all, we’re the ones who will be in trouble for not warning them of your arrival,” Evan glanced at Felix again.

 

A few more rounds later, Harry needed to get some food, his head was feeling light and his hands warm and tingling. He excused himself for the bathroom but went to the bar to order food for his new friends as they hotly refused his offer to pay for anything.

 

The giggly waitress took his order, while she rang it up he took in his surroundings. The atmosphere was electric, humming and buzzing full of energy. A small band was preparing to play in the far corner, people chattered and laughed.

 

“You should have one of these darling,” a voice said behind him.

 

A woman with bright red hair, shocking green eyes and porcelain skin handed him a glass of water. Her lips, full and red she wore quite heavy make up accentuating her eyes. Her dress was gold and glittered in the light, she was definitely overdressed for the room but didn’t seem to care.

 

“Thanks,” Harry sipped and the woman didn’t take her hypnotic eyes off him.

 

“Have I met you before honey?” Her voice was like honey, soothing, smooth and sweet.

 

“No and I would remember meeting someone like you,” he said surprising himself.

 

“Oh honey, you are so sweet,” she smiled and placed a hand on his arm, “maybe we could get to know each other tonight?”

 

Harry’s stomach twisted, who knew American girls were so direct?

 

“I love an accent,” she purred and stared at him more closely, “you sure we haven’t met?”

 

“I’m sure,” he smiled and she squeezed his arm gently.

 

“I have to go back to work but find me after?” She ran her hand down his arm.

 

“Where will I find you?”

 

“You’ll see,” she winked and sashayed off, her gold dress twinkling with each step.

 

Shaking his head Harry sat heavily on the barstool and drained his glass of water. The giggly waitress was nowhere to be seen, Harry waited for another drink, his cheeks burned and his head reeled at the encounter he’d just had. He should have offered to buy her a drink, cursing himself he looked to the stage where the band were tuning up. To his surprise the red head joined them, the room hushed and she looked right at him and winked again.

 

The band played a slow jazz melody and she opened her mouth to sing.

 

Sooner or later you’re gonna be mine

Sooner or later you’re gonna be fine

Baby it’s time that you face it I always get my man

 

Her voice was like caramel smooth and rich, indulgent, he forgot where in the world he was and listened to her voice melt into his ears.

 

The more you resist babe the more excites me

And no man I’ve kissed babe ever fights me again

 

Harry could’ve been imperiused for all he knew, the pleasant fog of the alcohol, her brassy flirtation and then this intoxicating voice. The combination was dreamlike for Harry, he couldn’t remember the last time he’d felt so blissful.

 

This time I'm not only getting
I'm holding my man

 

The crowd applauded and a few catcalls were thrown in for good measure, the band continued playing as she exited the stage and headed straight for Harry.

 

“That was beautiful,” he said earnestly.

 

“Thank you, just another girl trying to make it in the big city,” she leaned closer to him, “and what’s your story?”

 

“I wouldn’t want to bore you with the details,” Harry said nervously.

 

“Are you married?” She asked.

 

Harry gulped nervously, “No, I’m single.”

 

“Me too,” she looked at him and smiled, “would you mind walking me home? It’s just around the corner.”

 

“Uhh…sure, I better tell me friends where I’m going,” he stuttered.

 

“Oh it won’t take long honey,” she led him to the deserted cloak room and picked up a white fur coat, “unless you want it to.”

 

Harry’s heart was beating wildly, things were moving too fast for him, his palms were sweating and his collar felt too tight. This gorgeous creature was whisking him away and for once in his life he had no excuse to not take this plunge.

 

“What’s the matter honey?” She asked, “you look scared.”

 

“What are you doing!?” Evan burst into the cloak room with Tate and Felix close behind.

 

“I tried to tell you—“ Harry stopped and realised the woman was also speaking to the newcomers.

 

The red headed woman looked perplexed at Harry and her voice no longer sounded like honey.

 

“What the fuck guys?” She chided, “I had a good lead!”

 

“That’s not a lead Turner,” Felix came forward, “this is our other Auror, Lana Turner.”

 

Tate swallowed nervously, “Turner, this is Harry Potter, he’s come to help us crack the Manhattan Murders case.”

 

Lana strode towards Tate and slapped in square in the face and without a word turned on her heel and left the four men in silence.

 



Chapter 3: Two
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Lana had never in her entire life felt so humiliated. She had barely slept at all last night constantly tossing and turning, her mind replaying the mortifying events from the night gone by.

 

The rest of her team knew she had to work the room for suspicious characters and they knew Harry was suspicious looking, on his own, a foreigner, he looked so out of place at the Skylark. Felix had orchestrated the whole thing so she’d look like a fool, she was meant to flirt with the stranger and see if they were willing to be on their own with a woman, walk her home, see if they attacked and find their killer.

 

But once again the men had used her for their own amusement, it was a boys club in the Auror department and they didn’t like that Lana was good at her job and a woman.

Evan mustn’t have known, he wouldn’t allow it. He was her closest friend and he’d only come out of the closet to her at work and no one else.

 

Now she had to face Harry Potter and the rest of the team, the gossip would have spread quickly of how Lana had tried to seduce Harry Potter.

 

Straightening her back and taking a deep breath Lana entered the Manhattan Ministry of Magic. The Ministry was buzzing with the news that Harry Potter was in the building, Lana even saw some witches wearing Gryffindor scarves.

 

The Auror office was buzzing even louder but all eyes shifted to Lana when she entered paired with sly smirks to co workers. Lana did her best to ignore the stifled laughter and found Evan, he stood up immediately upon seeing Lana.

 

“I didn’t know!” He announced.

 

“I know you didn’t,” Lana smiled gratefully, putting her bag down.

 

“I’ve already spoken to Felix about his discrimination against you and I’m happy to put in a formal complaint,” Evan unbuttoned his impeccable royal blue coat and hung in on his brought-from-home hat rack.

 

“Don’t, thank you but don’t,” Lana sighed, “should I apologise to Mr Potter?”

 

Evan’s blue eyes wandered, “I did apologise on your behalf and explained your job that evening, he was very understanding and said not to worry. He looks very different doesn’t he?”

 

“I suppose he was sick of people always gaping at his forehead, I know I did as soon as I was told who he was,” Lana admitted.

 

Evan shrugged and a wicked little smile teased at his lips, “he was going to leave with you, that’s something to tell your friends about!”

 

Lana rolled her eyes, she appreciated the way Evan turned her embarrassment into a light-hearted antidote, “I think he was scared out of his mind.”

 

“Scared or not he was going to leave with you,” Evan straightened his tie, “ready for our meeting?”

 

Shame slid back down to Lana’s stomach, “Tate and Felix are going to have a field day.”

 

“You know Tate is just jealous it wasn’t him,” Evan squeezed her shoulder and they headed to the main conference room.

 

Harry was observing the photographs of past Aurors, Lana observed him, underneath the beard, it was obvious to her now that he was the most famous wizard in the world, how could she have been so stupid?

 

“Harry,” Evan smiled and Harry returned the smile, “allow me to properly introduce you to Lana Turner our only female Auror at the MMM.”

 

“Pleasure to meet you,” Harry said kindly.

 

“May I apologise for last night,” she said her cheeks blushing, “I was undercover and I sincerely apologise for anything I might have done to offend you.”

 

“Not at all, I had quite a bit to drink, your friends definitely know how to hold their liquor,” he said kindly.

 

“That they do,” Lana grinned awkwardly and was saved by a new face bounding up to Harry.

 

“Harry!” Neville Sutcliffe, a herbologist from the level below embraced Harry like a brother.

 

“Neville!” Harry was obviously just as happy to see Neville.

 

“I can’t believe you’re in New York!” He smiled broadly.

 

“I was going to surprise you after this,” Harry gestured to the conference room.

 

“Word travels fast when Harry Potter is in your building,” Neville glanced at Lana, obviously her story had reached the Herbology department.

 

“I’ll let you get to it but lunch afterwards?” Neville’s long arms embraced Harry once more and he left after making arrangements to catch up.

 

“We went to school together,” Harry explained, “how long has he been working here?”

 

“Mr Sutcliffe, has been here around five years,” Lana explained, ignoring the eyebrow raise from Harry, she had already looked into Neville’s records. He had changed his name after the battle of Hogwarts because of severe PTSD and couldn’t handle the spotlight. He moved to New York to get away from the constant media attention and had since found himself fitting in nicely to the Manhattan lifestyle.

 

The trio entered the conference room and Lana felt the energy in the room shift, Felix and Tate sat up to shake Harry’s hand and offer Lana a smirk. Several other Auror’s sat bewildered in their chairs.

 

Felix cleared his throat as Harry took a seat and looked to Felix to begin the meeting, “thank you everyone for attending this morning and welcome to Mr Harry Potter.”

 

There was a reserve and polite applause, many mouths still gaping open at his presence.

 

“I trust you will all make him feel welcome and show him every kindness,” Felix smirked a little at Lana who glared back at him.

 

“Thank you Felix,” Harry stood, “and if I may, I thoroughly enjoyed my welcoming evening last night and I want to commend you Miss Turner on your exceptional undercover work last night. Your mission was to search for characters that were out of place and you put yourself in a precarious position and I truly appreciate that. It takes guts.”

 

Harry sat and there was a smattering of applause as Lana’s cheeks burned and Evan squeezed her knee under the desk.

 

“Thank you Mr Potter,” Felix had lost his train of thought and it was delightful to see him stumble, “I think you’ll find we have a very dedicated and talented team here at MMM. But now to business, unfortunately we have found body number eight this morning.”

 

Felix pointed his wand and the image of a young woman with brown hair and bright eyes filled the space on the wall, “Heather Peppers, a muggle woman, found tortured and strangled this morning, only a street away from her apartment. No witnesses, no sounds, no evidence as usual.”

 

The team was frantically scribbling every word Felix said, “this is where you come in Mr Potter. We have a serial killer on the loose, we have one witness and eight dead women, muggle and magical.”

 

Tate stepped in, “the witness says he held a stick at a woman’s face and then she couldn’t speak anymore, we have been heavily in contact with the Muggle police chief and we both believe the suspect is magic.”

 

“Where is the witness now?” Harry asked.

 

“She was the next victim,” Evan said sadly, “muggle police have put a warning out to all women not to walk alone at night but alas.”

 

Felix waved his wand and Heather's image disappeared and a map of Manhattan replaced it, “here is where he has struck,” red dots popped up across the city, there was no order, no structure to the murder spots.

 

Lana spoke up and focussed as Harry looked her way, “so far, we can’t find a connection between any of the victims, they’re from different parts of town, different ethnicities it seems to be opportunistic.”

 

“The Muggle police are breathing down our necks, the media is in a frenzy, the President of the Ministry suggested we bring in you but we don’t want the media thinking we brought you here to solve our crimes, the plan is that you’re here on a diplomatic visit.”

 

“Right, so that explains the hotel and the luxuries then? I’m here as a guest, nothing more?” Harry asked politely, but Lana felt an undertone.

 

“We’re not too proud to ask for help,” Felix replied immediately, “we need all the help we can get.”

 

Evan interrupted before he dug himself into a hole, “we don’t want the killer to know Harry Potter is here for him, psychologically speaking that would give our killer an ego boost we don’t want him to have. A confident killer is almost uncatchable.”

 

Harry nodded in understanding, “may I have a day to review all the paperwork so far?”

 

“Yes,” Felix grinned, “I’ll have Lana bring it to your room after lunch.”

 

Lana felt her anger boil beneath the surface but tried to smile like she didn’t have a care in the world. The constant belittling and berating confirmed her already solid plans to leave the ministry and finish her Auror career for good.



Chapter 4: Three
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Eight murdered women, magical and non-magical, that’s why he was here, that’s why they had rolled out the red carpet and spared no expense. Harry felt a little used, pretending he’s out here for another purpose when really, they wanted to have him solve an unsolvable case.

 

Or was it to keep the serial killer in the dark as Lana had said. His thoughts drifted to Lana and how openly excluded she was from the rest of the team, she was clever and threatened the alpha males and she was also beautiful. Without the unnecessary make up and expensive clothes she was striking.

 

“Harry,” Neville beamed.

 

They had arranged to meet in a muggle café, it was bustling and cosy and very hard to overhear another’s conversation. Harry thought finally he would get some answers from the mysterious and hasty relocation Neville Longbottom.

 

“I ordered you one of their famous sub’s,” Neville gestured to an enormous sandwich dripping with mayonnaise.

 

“That’s all mine?” Harry asked taking a seat.

 

“American food,” Neville shrugged and tucked in.

 

“Neville Sutcliffe?” Harry asked taking a bite, it was delicious and challenging to eat.

 

Neville wiped his mouth with a paper napkin, his eyes grew sad, “I just couldn’t stay in London anymore,” he shook his head, “the flashbacks, the noises, I just couldn’t escape.”

 

“I wish you had of said something Neville, we were all going through parallel matters,” Harry said quietly, “we missed you.”

 

“I was just no good in London anymore, after Luna and I… I don’t blame her, I don’t know how she put up with me for as long as she did. I was sorry to hear about you and Ginny.”

 

Harry put down his sandwich, “so you’ve been keeping up with our news then?”

 

“Can’t help it,” Neville smiled tightly, “you, Hermione and Ron are celebrities around the world. I don’t know how you do it.”

 

“I didn’t have a choice,” Harry said ruefully.

 

“You and Lane Turner then?” Neville grinned, changing the subject quickly.

 

Harry shook his head, “that was an accident, wrong place and wrong time.”

 

“She’s a looker,” Neville commented.

 

“She’s incredibly smart,” Harry answered safely.

 

“Must be, there’s not a lot of females on the staff, slim picking’s,” Neville surmised.

 

“Hermione would be infuriated by the lack of females in the Manhattan Ministry,” Harry cracked a smile, thinking of his best friend.

 

“I’ve got to get back to work,” Neville said screwing up his sub wrapper, “how long are you here for?”

 

Harry mussed his hair, “I really don’t know, they’ve put me on that Manhattan murder case but I’m not meant to spread that around.”

 

Neville’s eyes widened, “the Manhattan murders!” He exhaled heavily, “that’s rough, Harry Potter on the case they must be at their wits end.”

 

“Sounds like it,” Harry agreed.

 

“Do they have any leads?” Neville asked.

 

Harry shook his head, “nothing, they’ve got no idea. Why aren’t you doing Auror work here?”

 

“Can’t do it,” he shook his head, “herbology’s always been enjoyable and it relaxes me.”

 

“That’s good then Neville, I’m glad you’ve found your place here.”

 

“I’ll see you around Harry,” Neville embraced his friend and left into the busy, cold street.

 

Harry bundled himself up and braved the cold, his thoughts reeling over Neville. How the man who killed Voldemort’s final horcrux had shut out the very world he saved. Which made Harry seriously consider his own actions, if given the chance would he have moved away and left all the pain behind him?

 

He couldn’t ever leave Ron and Hermione, there was too strong a tie with them, the entire Weasley family, even Ginny. Molly still invited him and Teddy, he couldn’t leave his Godson, he wouldn’t do that to a child.

 

                                                            -------------

 

Harry entered the extravagant lobby of his hotel, gold adorned trims, plush leather furniture. They truly had pulled out all stops to impressive Harry and butter him up to do their dirty work. If he wasn’t so curious and intrigued by a case that had nothing to do with Death Eaters, he might just leave.

“Mr Potter,” Evan called out, his sleek suit looked right at home in the expensive interior of the hotel lobby. Carrying bundles of files was Lana struggling to balance the bulky files and keep her blazing red hair out of her eyes.

 

“Evening, Evan,” Harry nodded, taking some files from a grateful Lana, “let me help. Good timing, I was just heading up.”

 

“Did you want us to come back later so you can relax a little?” Evan asked.

 

“Not at all,” he held the elevator door opened for the American’s ushering them in.

 

“The Ministry asks that you order room service tonight, anything you like, they don’t want this information going public. Even members of our department don’t know all the details.” Evan finished quietly.

 

“Is everyone in the department trusted?” Harry asked.

 

“Of course,” Evan assured, “but the less details people know the less leaks to the media.”

 

Harry nodded in agreement as the elevator slid smoothly up to the presidential suite on the top floor.

 

Lana did a better job of hiding her awe than Evan, he openly gaped at the luxurious facilities his suite displayed. Marble floors, gold and brass adorned furniture, a pristine colour palette of whites, greys and dark wood. But most breathtaking was the view of the Hudson river, the city lights twinkling off its inky surface.

 

“Only the best for Mr Potter,” Lana raised an eyebrow, “when I get sent away for work I’m lucky if I have working electricity.”

 

Evan gave Lana a meaningful stare and busied himself with placing the assortment of files and folders. “We have our eight victims,” Evan began, he shot out eight faces from his wand, their names underneath them.

 

“Amelia Markoff, 32” Lana said, “witch, studying to be a Healer. Found assaulted and strangled outside Central park west exit.”

 

“Elizabeth Hankin, 41 better known as Beth” Evan started, “muggle, worked as a journalist, found in the same way as Amelia but at Central park east exit.”

 

“Callie Thomson, 24 a muggle, studying psychology, found Central park east.”

 

Harry watched as the faces of these young women smiled back at him, the pair continued.

 

“Deliah Demanter, 46 witch a professor at our local school, found in Central Park near the ice skating rink.”

 

“Geneva Tallis, a witch 22, studying to be an Auror and works as a waitress at a muggle restaurant. Her body was found in the East underpass Central Park again.”

 

Harry let the words wash over him and for the first time the short lives of these eight women truly spoke to him and he vowed immediately to solve this case for them.

 

Frieda Souls, 30, a witch in the experimental potions division at MMM,” Evan swallowed hard, “we actually knew her, she was a lovely woman, a mother too.”

 

Lana took over, “Evangelina Garry, 27 a muggle and a part time model, she was found in the ponds of Central Park and finally Heather Peppers, 29, a muggle and part time administration assistant.”

 

Evan and Lana were finally silent, Harry couldn’t take his eyes of the faces of the murdered women. Lana spoke, “I’ve never seen them all next to each other like this,” she turned her head.

 

“It’s madness,” Evan agreed solemnly.

 

“There’s no connection whatsoever?” Harry asked.

 

“No, I mean except one,” Lana finished lamely.

 

“They’re all women,” Evan said.

 

“You know he’s nearly done it alphabetically,” Lana pointed out, “except for Elizabeth, Geneva and Evangelina.”

 

“Hold on,” Harry’s heartbeat accelerated, “you said Elizabeth was known as Beth?”

 

“Geneva?” Evan quizzed.

 

Lana spoke up, “her friend I interviewed called her Eva! Holy shit they’re all in alphabetical order, except for…”

 

“Garry!” Harry announced, “her last name, she could’ve been called Garry for short?”

 

Evan’s mouth dropped, “how did we miss this? How the fuck did we miss this! I’m calling Felix, this is huge. You did it Harry! The first connection between the victims! It’s alphabetical!”



Chapter 5: Four
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Lana stood over the body of Imogen Kenova, the next letter in the alphabet. She wasn’t just another victim she was someone’s daughter, someone’s soulmate and now she was just another letter in this psychopath’s alphabet.

 

Imogen looked early twenties, a puddle of dark blonde hair lay in the snow, her skin was blue and stained with dark red blood. Her throat had a gaping hole and blood stained snow surrounded her still frame.

 

The area around central park east entrance had been cordoned off, not that there were any gawkers loitering about. It had just gone 6am and the air was frigidly cold, clouds of breath rose from her colleagues mouths as they worked out what to do next.

 

Lana tore her eyes away from Imogen and walked away from the official area. She noticed the muggle special forces were also there, communication with the muggles was now unavoidable as the killer had no prejudice for who he killed, they must all work together.

 

“Miss,” a muggle officer called, “Chris Beckett,” he flashed his badge, “special forces, do you think it’s a good idea to be wandering around by yourself?”

 

“Relax Beckett, she’s with the Magi,” an older more matronly woman half jogged towards Beckett who looked immediately bashful.

 

“Officer Jamie Knight,” she stuck out her hand and Lana was overwhelmed by her professionalism and respect she held in front of her male co worker.

 

“Lana Turner,” she replied, “and you need to be careful, J will be the next name he goes after.”

 

Jamie showed a glimpse of a smile, “I am flattered but it seems our killer is only after the young and… vibrant.”

 

“His opinion of young and vibrant may be different to yours, I wouldn’t risk it,” Lana said a little more firmly this time.

 

“Is that why there are no women working on the case from your side?” She asked, raising an eyebrow.

 

Lana fidgeted, pushing her fingers deeper into her coat pockets, “if only.”

 

“What you think about making the alphabet murders public?” She asked, her eyes fixed on Lana’s, who suddenly felt like a child under her matronly stare.

 

“I think for the safety of the public we should warn them not to share their names with strangers so willingly,” Lana answered.

 

“Agreed,” she nodded, and Lana felt relieved Jamie agreed with her, “I’ll get it approved on my end if you work on yours.”

Jamie’s gaze scanned the group on men working behind Lana, “the gay one, is he high up?”

 

She was referring to Evan and in less serious circumstances Lana would’ve laughed at the directness of this woman but Lana nodded dumbly.

 

“Anyone you’re sleeping with that would help?”

 

This time Lana almost choked on the freezing air, “no,” she answered immediately.

 

“Smart girl, target the men that want to sleep with you then.”

 

“Excuse me?”

 

“I want you to imagine that it wasn’t women getting killed but men, would they tell the public then?”

 

Lana didn’t need to answer.

 

“Of course they would,” Jamie replied for her, “they think women will become hysterical and faint on the spot but they underestimate us. You may not think it but you have power over those men you work with and you must be fucking amazing if they let you on their sausage squad. Own your looks and youth now because when you get older you won’t have that to rely on, you’ll just have to be respected and feared all on your own merit, isn’t that right Chris?”

 

“Yes mam,” Chris responded at once, Lana had almost forgotten his existence.

 

“You’re not selling out,” Jamie said echoing Lana’s own thoughts, “you’re upselling. I don’t want to see anymore women’s bodies in this park.”

 

Lana nodded firmly, “I’ll do my best.”

 

 

 

Back at the Auror headquarters, Imogen’s picture had already been added to the now permanent display of victims. Auror’s shed their coats and winter gear, warming up with coffee’s and toasted sandwiches that were laid out on their conference table.

Before anyone acknowledged her presence, Lana ducked into the female bathroom, that practically had to herself.

 

She took of her coat and stared long and hard at herself in the mirror. Working with so many men she rarely worried about keeping up with the latest fashion or beauty trends. As she had no desires to form a relationship with anyone she worked with. But now she had a mission, it was like going undercover she had to put on make up and dress the part.

 

Lana shrunk her oversized sweater so it now fit her properly, she had a good figure and this simply highlighted the fact. She gave her boots the slightest heel, elongating her legs. Now her hair, she always tied it back so it was out of the way and more practical. But now using some tricks she’d picked up from her undercover stings she tied it back with pins and left some of her red locks tumbling down her back. A smear of gloss and swipe of mascara, Lana didn’t look ready to break hearts but certainly felt like more of a woman than she had ever felt in this building.

 

She exited the bathroom, feeling confident and ready to fight the table of men when she crashed into none other than Harry Potter. Instantly she felt foolish and scrambled to put her coat back on.

 

“I’m so sorry,” Lana apologised.

 

“No, no that was my fault, I wasn’t thinking,” his face was tinged pink with cold and snowflakes clung to his shoulders and hair, Lana fought the urge to gently brush them off him.

 

“You just came from the scene?” She asked, as they walked to the conference room.

 

“Yeah, were you there?”

 

“I was around six and left to come here, sort some things out.”

 

“I’ve never seen a wizard kill with so much blood,” Harry said suddenly.

 

Lana didn’t know what to say, the image of Imogen’s bloodied body flashed through her mind.

 

“Even the Battle of Hogwarts, there was carnage but not this kind of rage and blood.”

 

Lana felt a heat flood her veins, he mentioned the battle of Hogwarts, casually and with nonchalance. She took her coat off, only to remember that she had just covered herself up in front of him moments earlier.

 

“Turner, looking good,” Tate passed by with an appreciative glance, “time for the briefing.”

 

Lana didn’t need to shrink her sweater or do her hair, all she needed to do was enter the room with Harry to get the attention of her colleagues.

 

“Now we’re all here,” Felix announced, “body number 9—“

 

“Sorry Felix, I need to interrupt,” Lana stood up and ignored the stares from her fellow Auror’s, particularly Harry, she felt his eyes on her.

 

“What is it Turner?” Felix sounded irritated already.

 

“I spoke to the Muggle special forces and they are going to the media about the alphabet connection,” she felt her resolve kick in, “I think we should to.”

“We’ve been through this, it will cause hysteria,” Felix looked ready to move on.

 

“Women need to know the danger!” Lana protested.

 

“If you’re worried about your safety, we can protect—“

 

“I’m not worried about my safety! I know what is happening, I know after I, J, K it’s L. But other women don’t and they have a right to know, not to give their name to strangers.”

 

Evan cleared his throat, “we want to catch this maniac, we make it more difficult for him to find victims.”

 

“The more the public know, the better, I understand it’s not usually the case but…” Lana began to falter, she was losing them.

 

Harry stood up, “how many of you have told your wives, your girlfriends, your sisters to be careful especially if their name correlates to the next letter in the alphabet?”

 

Felix looked away immediately, he had three sisters and several nieces. Every other male looked to each other, they had all warned their loved ones.

 

“So why not warn the public?” Harry sat, his point made.

 

“Constant vigilance,” Lana said and she felt Harry’s eyes on her once again.

 

“Tate,” Felix said, his usual pluckiness gone, “release a statement to the media, don’t confirm anything but advise them on the recent evidence.”

 

Tate left the room at once.

 

“Let’s grab ten and the results from the coroner will be done by then,” Felix looked to Lana, “Turner a word,” it was a command not a question.

 

Lana followed Felix to his office, “shut the door,” he said coldly.

 

As Lana shut the door, she felt like she was trapping herself in a dead end with a dragon.

 

“I’m pretty sure I know what’s going on between you and Mr Potter but keep your personal lives out of my conference room,” he spat.

 

“Sir, you have my word there is nothing going on between us,” Lana said calmly.

 

“Well then he wants something to happen, he’s buttering you up so you’ll sleep with him,” Felix scoffed.

 

“With all due respect Sir, are you saying Mr Potter isn’t professional?”

 

“Get out and watch your mouth.”



Chapter 6: Five
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Harry had given up for the moment, the faces of the alphabet killer’s victims blinked at him. Were they trying to tell him something? Or were they mocking him for not getting it right?

Whatever it was, Harry was done for now, he made his way to find Neville and what he found was his once shy and sensitive school friend in a pit of deep thought he hadn’t even known he was capable of.

 

“Neville!” Harry almost shouted to get his attention.

 

Neville had been walking to corridors near his office, muttering rapidly to himself, his friend shook off his strange behaviour and his kind eyes found Harry, “sorry about that,” he apologised bashfully, “this case at the moment, it’s completely doing my head in.”

 

“I know the feeling,” Harry grinned, “did you want to grab a drink?”

 

Neville became awkward, “oh…no…uh tonight?”

 

“It’s ok if you can’t, some of the Auror squad are going to the Nox bar?” Harry offered.

 

“Oh yes, all the MMM folk drink there. I might catch up with after I’ve finished some more work.”

 

“No worries, take it easy Neville,” Harry waved him off, feeling somewhat relieved that it wasn’t only him struggling with his work.

 

Harry bundled himself up, his overcoat, scarf and just tugging on his beanie when Felix’s voice boomed.

 

“Harry! Going for a drink?”

 

“Yes, I need a break from those faces,” Harry replied opening the door for Felix.

 

“Hmm… new policy they like here now, have the faces of your victims looking down at you. It’s meant to motivate you but sometimes I think it can send you into a bit of a depression.”

 

The pair stepped out into the cold and walked with their heads bowed, miniscule flakes of snow had begun to fall. The pavement was dotted with tiny puffs of white against the grey concrete.

 

“How are you liking MMM?” Felix asked.

 

“It’s wonderful, truly, the openness you have with your Muggles is really admirable and something I’d like to have more of at home.”

 

Felix seemed to swell with pride.

 

“I meant to ask though, why are there so few women on the force?”

Harry watched Felix’s manner stiffen, “well you know yourself Harry, it’s a very dangerous position, there’s just not a lot women cut out for that kind of thing.”

 

Harry smothered a smile, thinking of Hermione, who would eat this man for breakfast, “I don’t know about that, we have a lot of women on our force.”

 

He let out a bark like laugh, “well of course you do, your generation grew up having to know how to fight. You’d have your pick in Britain, the finest fighters are there, you’ve seen real shit.”

 

“This seems pretty real to me,” Harry mused.

 

“Here we are,” Felix took out his wand and tapped on a rusted fence post, “nox.”

 

 

The Nox bar, was a lot more like an upscale restaurant then a bar. Dozens of circular tables illuminated by candlelight flickered and made the shadows on the wall dance. The interior was all dark purples, chocolate and midnight blue. A larger table in the darkest corner of the bar was crammed with MMM workers. They all cheered when Felix strode up to the table and Harry was met with a mixture of vigorous handshakes and bent heads whispering dramatically.

 

Harry pulled up a chair next to Evan, who looked as though he’d just stepped out of the shower, refreshed ready for the day ahead.

 

“Do you ever look tired?” Harry asked him, noticing his perfectly clipped nails and spotless hands. Harry hid his own nail bitten fingers under the table.

 

“You should see me without make up on,” he drawled, “I’m kidding, Merlin I work in the police force I can’t go wearing make-up. But I’ll share my secret with you,” he leant towards Harry. “I don’t drink like a fish every night after work, I may have one or two. But alcohol inflates the blood vessels in your skin and makes you look puffy and blotchy and I am not about that.”

 

He sipped from his glass, a clear liquid with a sprinkling of herbs, “here,” he transfigured the table’s salt shaker into a replica of his drink.

 

“Cheers,” Harry smiled and took a sip, it was refreshing and make him feel more awake instantly, “that’s great!”

 

“I’m afraid I’ve never been part of the boys club, I’ve always enjoyed more delicate and refined things in life. I always thought I’d fit in better in London, it’s not all larger and Quidditch,” Evan stared sadly into his drink.

 

“Are you alright Evan?” Harry asked.

 

“I’m sorry I tend to get quite self-pitying when a case like this occurs,” he shook his head, as if that would help him shake off the bad vibes.

 

“You’re not the only one Neville in Herbology was out of sorts as well today. This case is playing on everyone’s minds,” Harry said kindly.

 

“That’s right Neville is from Hogwarts, how extraordinary, nothing cheers me up more than a bit of gossip! So his fiancée Luna? She left him I heard?” Evan had perked up considerably, Harry didn’t want to gossip about his friend but was conflicted by Evan’s mood swings.

 

“It’s hard to explain what life was like after the war, we were too young and most of us had lost parents or no parents to teach us how to deal with the grief afterwards.” Harry explained.

 

Evan nodded sympathetically, “of course, I read Neville’s parents were insane?”

 

“Yes, they were tortured, they don’t know who is he anymore, with age it seems they’re getting worse.”

 

“Dreadful,” Evan shook his head, “I followed the war when I was younger, I’d just begun Auror training and we were in this paralytic state. It was quite clear to everyone that Tom Riddle wouldn’t stop once he gained control in London.”

 

“Why do you call him Tom Riddle?” Harry asked.

 

“That is his name,” he said simply and sipped his drink, “I remember our Professors some of the best and brightest trying to gain access to London but he had shut down all the possible Portkey entrances.”

 

“We never knew that till much later, we weren’t even sure what was going on outside our own state let alone the world. He controlled the media, travel everything.”

 

“And to think what he could’ve done with his power if harnessed in the correct way,” he swirled his drink ignoring the guys down the end copying him.

 

“Was Lana still at the office?” He asked suddenly, giving the jokers at the end of the table a withering look.

 

“Uh…no, I didn’t see her since after the meeting,” Harry took a gulp, needing something to do with his hands.

 

“Felix thinks you and her have something going on,” he snickered.

 

“What!?” Harry blustered, “why would—“

 

“Because you’re not a chauvinistic pig and you treat her with respect,” Evan answered for him.

“Oh,” Harry mumbled.

 

“However, if you are interested…”, Evan let the sentence hang dangerously in the air.

 

Another cold gust of wind swept through the bar and this time Tate entered, his broad-shouldered frame making him easy to spot. He was smiling as he approached his colleagues as if he’d just heard a very amusing joke.

 

“What’s the grin for?” Felix grinned back.

 

“Turner,” his grinned widened as he stripped off his coat, “she’s with those muggle police. They’re staking out central park tonight, it’s snowing and everything and those muggles think they can catch him?”

 

“Well at least they’re doing something about it,” Harry stood up.

 

“How will it look if a bunch of non magic’s catch this guy before we do?” Evan stood up alongside Harry.

 

“You’ve told the media Harry is on this case and the MMM is doing everything they can to catch him. The only one doing anything is Turner, shame on you, she is at the most risk!”

 

“Where are you going?” Tate called out to Harry and Evan.

 

“To catch this guy with the Muggles!”



Chapter 7: Six
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The branches of the trees in central park canopied over Lana like jagged cobwebs. All the leaves had withered and died with the winter and an incredibly eerie landscape fanned out in front of her.  While eerie, it was calm and un touched at this frosty hour, only New York’s muggle finest and her patrolled the perimeter of the park awaiting their alphabet killer to strike.

 

Lana had watched and tried to take mental notes as Jamie Knight carried out complete and utter control over her squad. She led firmly but fairly, acknowledging every officer’s query and almost reading their issues from sight.

 

She had only had time for a few brief words with Lana, “no luck with your guys then?” She asked brashly.

 

“No, I’m sorry, I did try,” Lana apologised.

 

“I get it, you sound like me twenty years ago,” she smiled thinly at a memory, “you’re here and that counts for something.”

 

“I want to help however I can,” Lana said earnestly.

 

“That spell you did for the squad’s gloves and beanies boosted morale, I haven’t heard anyone complain about being cold tonight,” Jamie rubbed her own hands together enjoying the warmth from Lana’s heat charm.

 

“I’m glad,” Lana said, wishing she could contribute a little more on the investigative side.

 

Jamie heard her tone, “don’t give me that, boosting morale leads to a better investigation and a quicker result. And just the fact that one of your kind is here speaks volumes.”

 

“Thank you and I’ll keep trying,” Lana promised.

 

“I know you will,” Jamie winked and Lana wished desperately for her to mentor her, even though she didn’t have a magical bone in her body. Jamie didn’t need magic, she was a force to be reckoned with.

 

“Lieutenant!” Chris called, “all the radios have gone to white noise.”

 

“Shit, not again,” Jamie cursed.

 

“It could be from the heating charm, sometimes it interferes with muggle devices,” Lana explained.

 

“Nah it’s been from the cold too, the radio tower is older than my dead grandmother,” Jamie brusquely, “I’ll check in with the patrol car back.”

 

Jamie had only headed a few steps before Lana called out, “you shouldn’t go alone.”

 

Jamie rolled her eyes, “well come on then, you two can escort me.” She made an elaborate arm movement towards Lana and Chris, who obligingly followed her to the patrol car.

 

Jamie was still chuckling to herself about needing protection when a sound made the three law enforcement officer’s heads snap up ahead.

 

“So we all heard that,” Jamie confirmed, the slightest trace of a smile on her face.

 

“Could be squirrels,” Chris offered.

 

“Could be,” Jamie answered, her ears pricked up like a cat, “weapons out, just in case.”

 

Chris and Jamie withdrew their guns and Lana her wand, as the sound came again.

 

“Left or right,” Chris whispered.

 

“Hold on,” Lana did a four point spell but her wand came to no clear conclusion, “I don’t understand, this should show us where the most magic is coming from.”

 

“Could just be a squirrel then,” Jamie still sounded tense, “I’ll go right, you two go left and before you argue, Lana you are much more our killer’s profile than me. Chris keep trying the radio.”

 

Within a moment, Jamie’s strong figure had disappeared into the darkness of the park.

 

“Come on,” Chris kept his voice low and the pair made their way along the left path.

 

Every shadow and every change of light made Lana’s skin crawl, something was not right and a very large part of her didn’t want to find out what it was.

 

A gunshot cracked through the air, Chris screamed into his useless radio.

 

“Shots fired! Shots fired!”

 

“Jamie!” Lana called as the pair ran back through to where they had only moments ago parted ways. The right path streamed in front of them, steam rising from a sudden burst of heat.

 

“Officer down! Officer down!” Chris shouted into the radio.

 

“No, no, no,” Lana cried.

 

Jamie’s body lay ahead dark, blood pooling out of her stomach. Lana pressed her hands to the wound, the blood was warm and slick out of her new friend.

 

His radio useless, Chris fired several more shots into the air, bringing the force running.

 

Jamie was grey, her breaths were so tiny they barely escaped her mouth, “one of yours,” she croaked, her eyes holding Lana’s.

 

“Help is coming,” Lana assured her.

 

“Another girl,” Jamie twitched her head slightly to the left.

 

“We’ll look after it, you stay awake now,” Lana blinked back tears.

 

“He’s one of yours,” she repeated.

 

“Lieutenant,” Chris said softly tears flowing freely down his face, “the squad is coming, you’ll be ok.”

 

“Chris, keep your hands where mine are,” Lana said her voice beginning to wobble.

 

Chris placed his hands on his boss’ abdomen, the blood slowing down. Lana ripped off her blood soaked gloves and found the bottle of Dittany she always carried with her. “Here,” she sprinkled a few drops onto Jamie’s wound, it began to sew itself up and then almost immediately return back to it’s deadly size.

 

“Chris stay back, this is a curse,” Lana sprinkled the dittany on his gloves, in case he had caught some of the curse on his fingers.

 

“We need to stem the blood,” Chris argued, his face twisted in pain.

 

“I’m so sorry Chris, but there is nothing we can do.”

 

“Lana!”

 

Chris swung his weapon around to the running figures approaching, Harry and Evan, their eyes wide with shock at the sight before them.

 

“There’s another body that way,” Lana said thickly.

 

Wordlessly Evan and Harry headed further down the path with their wands out, ready to fight.

 

Jamie had taken her last breath, her body was still, her blood still warm.

 

Chris sunk to his knees, “can’t you do something?” He pleaded looking at her wand.

 

“I’m sorry,” Lana said shaking her head sadly, “I wish I could.”

 

The rest of the squad’s running footsteps could be heard approaching, there was a deathly silence as they approached their boss’ body.

 

“What did you do witch!” One of the officers pulled his gun on Lana.

 

“Sam, stand down,” Chris shouted, “she tried to help, she’s the only one who tried to help.”

 

“How do we know these magi’s aren’t just picking us off,” Sam sneered, flicking his gun towards Lana.

 

“Because if we were doing that you’d all be dead by now,” Harry’s British lilt took the officers by surprise. Harry strode casually in the firing line of Lana and the gun, “gentlemen I am terribly sorry for your loss of your colleague and mentor but Mrs Knight’s stance has always been that we need to unite to capture this maniac, are you saying she was wrong officer?”

 

Sam’s hand went limp and his gun dropped to his side, “no,” he said quietly, “I’m sorry,” he said even more quietly briefly meeting Lana’s eyes.

 

“I have called your station and our own to come and assess the scene for evidence and then get your friend out of the media quickly,” Harry’s voice was confident and warm.

 

Lana felt Evan beside her, he gently looped his arm around her back and she leant into him.

“C’mon you need to get home,” he whispered.

 

“No, I want to help,” she protested.

 

“You’re covered in blood, you need rest and a stiff drink,” he argued.

 

“My suite is closer if you’d like to use it,” Harry offered, dismissing the officers.

 

“I couldn’t—” Lana began.

 

“You’re in shock, you need to rest of you will be no good to us,” Harry said firmly.

 

Lana nodded, if she was being honest she did feel lightheaded and her body ached from a mixture of adrenaline and cold. She let Evan guide her to Harry’s suite, reaching out briefly to squeeze Chris’s hand as he was also escorted by a fellow officer.

 

His boss, his mentor and for a moment Lana’s mentor lay still in the snow in the middle of central park.



Chapter 8: Seven
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Harry slumped against the elevator doors as the slid closed. He was exhausted and despite all the heating charms he was somehow still frozen to the bone. The cold air seemed to leech into any miniscule opening on his clothes. Whether it was an inch of sleeve pulled up or a slither of where his socks met his hem line. The cold crept in and he was desperate for a warm shower.

 

The doors slid opened soundlessly but he could hear raised voices coming from his suite. Rushing in he saw a manic Felix, his face almost purple with rage, Evan stood up to him almost nose to nose his face passive but his eyes burning. Lana in oversized hotel pyjama’s standing hopelessly between them.

 

“What is the matter?” Harry entered loudly.

 

“Felix wants Lana suspended without pay for obstructing an arrest,” Evan’s voice was enraged.

 

“She let the killer go! Staying with that muggle woman instead of chasing him.” Felix roared, “she was that close and let him go, if one of us were out there—”

 

“But you weren’t,” Harry said, “none of us were. In fact at this point Lana has come closer to the killer than any of us and she did it on her own. In my Ministry she would be rewarded, not punished.”

 

Felix tried hard to calm himself but his was so tense when he spoke his mouth barely moved, “we all know that this is the cheer squad for Lana here,” he spat.

 

“I will cheer on anyone who makes a break in this case,” Harry said, his own temper beginning to flare.

 

“She needs to make a statement anyway,” Felix tried regaining his authority, “this is out of my hands now. Minister Nassar will want a full enquiry now.”

 

“I will ensure she gets to the enquiry first thing in the morning,” Harry opened the door to his suite, “now she needs rest.”

 

Felix’s jaw tightened once more and his eyes raked over the three of them, “I’m sure you’ll take very good care of her,” Felix snarled as he left the suite with Harry snapping the door firmly behind him.

 

“I’m sorry Harry,” Evan apologised, “he barged in here like a wild animal.”

 

“Don’t apologise, he’s got to blame someone, after all if he had patrolled his team on tonight the killer wouldn’t have gotten away as he said.”

 

“Because I stayed with Jamie?” Lana said quietly.

 

“No not at all, the victim was still alive, your instinct to stay with her was correct, it’s what any of us would have done,” Harry picked at a cracker from the room service platter in front of them.

 

“Sorry we ordered some supplies when we got here,” Lana said nervously tucking her hair behind her ear.

 

“Drink?” Evan offered a crystal glass of dark liquid, “warm’s you up.”

 

“Yes please,” he sipped and the alcohol burned his throat warming his insides up quickly.

 

“I’m going back to the office to sort out this shit storm,” Evan announced.

 

“Are you sure you’re alright?” Lana asked.

 

“Yeah, Felix just pisses me off and I think that anger was all pent up from a few years of listening to him bitch and moan,” he squeezed Lana’s hand, “I’ll be fine. You enjoy this luxury penthouse.”

 

“Here,” Harry said, he handed him his hotel key, “come back when you’re done there’s plenty of space in here.”

 

“Thanks Harry,” Evan smiled and kissed Lana goodbye with an embrace.

 

“Come back if you can,” Harry said quietly, “she needs you right now.”

 

Evan nodded, “try and get her to eat something if you can.”

 

 

 

“I’m ok you know,” Lana said tucking her legs underneath her, “Evan worries too much.”

 

Harry shrugged it off while privately agreeing Evan had every right to worry about his friend, “that’s what friends do though, the good ones anyway.”

 

“I suppose,” she wrapped her hands around her glass and took a deep drink.

 

“Hermione, she is the constant worrier,” Harry attempted to be conversational, he picked up a delicious looking sandwich from the room service platter hoping it would cue Lana to eat something.

 

“Really?” Lana perked up, “Hermione seems so calm and in control, from a media perspective.”

 

Harry laughed, “maybe now she is, but growing up she was really neurotic, very anxious about school and professors, she wanted all her professors to like her, not so much her peers.”

Lana smiled, “it must have been amazing at Hogwarts… you know before the war,” she shook her head, “sorry I shouldn’t have brought it up.”

 

“It’s fine really, I love talking about Hogwarts, it was one of the happiest times of my life,” Harry said before he could stop himself.

 

There was an awkward pause that followed.

 

“I don’t know why I said that,” Harry put the glass down.

 

“You’re not happy now?” Lana hadn’t let go of that glass.

 

“I was just being stupid, really Hogwarts was the first time I had real friends and I don’t know… I guess a place that felt like home,” Harry couldn’t stop talking, it was like a flood gate had opened, “I finally belonged somewhere and meeting Ron and Hermione, was the first time I felt like I had family.”

 

“Didn’t you live with your Aunt and Uncle?” She asked.

 

“Yes but that wasn’t my family, they made sure I never felt like a part of anything,” he put his face in his hands, “I’m so sorry, I can’t seem to stop talking.”

 

“It’s fine,” she smiled, “honestly, I mean not the same circumstances but I know a little bit of where you’re coming from. My mother died when I nineteen and any semblance of a family died with her.”

 

“Your Father?” Harry asked.

 

“We are estranged, I believe the word is, he remarried and any responsibilities he had with his children are also long dead. My brother too, except we don’t really speak, problems with Mom’s will, it just turned everyone against each other. That’s why Evan is my family now I suppose, we went to school together also,” she put her drink down, “what is in this Veritaserum?”

 

“It must be,” Harry smiled, relaxing further back into the luxurious sofa, “I’ve never said that to anyone.”

 

“Me either,” Lana admitted, “nothing like a near death experience to make you open up,” she shrugged and slugged the rest of her drink.

 

“Try one of these,” Harry handed her one of the sandwiches, “they’re delicious.”

 

He watched her nibble and pick at the sandwich but at least she was eating something.

 

“Seeing as we’re being honest,” Harry tried to sound casual, “why does Felix think we are…uh…”

 

“Sleeping together?” Lana finished for him.

 

“Yes! I mean he seems a little obsessed with it,” Harry felt himself blush.

 

“Are you blushing?” Lana laughed, “The great Harry Potter, as if you don’t have women throwing themselves at you constantly and the thought of an office affair makes you blush.”

 

“Well I just don’t like how everyone assumes these things about me,” Harry admitted, “I’m not like that at all. I haven’t dated anyone serious since Ginny and the press love to make me out like some swinging bachelor.”

 

Lana grinned, “were you or were you not going to go home with me that first night?”

 

Harry’s face turned redder, “those were extenuating circumstances, I promise. That was unusual behaviour, I was in a new city alone, this amazing room and well intoxicated and you were so beautiful and confident. What man could say no?”

 

Lana smiled softly, “were so beautiful, ouch, no wonder you’ve been single for so long.”

 

“You know what I mean, you obviously know you’re very attractive,” Harry said trying to cover up his error.

 

“Yes, obviously I look very sexy when I’m covered in someone else’s blood, sweating and crying,” her face paled at her own words.

 

“Are you alright?”

 

Lana shook her head and rushed to bathroom. Harry heard the retching sound as she was sick just making it to the toilet bowl.

 

Quietly he entered the bathroom, wetting a face cloth with cold water he placed in on her neck, that was hot to touch. He noticed the hair tie on her wrist and gently tugged it off and scraped her hair up into a messy bun to keep it out of the way. He’d done this for Hermione a few times, when she’d suffered post-traumatic stress, shock and also drinking too much.

 

She heaved again but nothing came out, her face sheened with sweat Lana flushed and washed her face in the sink, “sorry, I don’t know what happened.”

 

“You’re in shock, you lost someone you cared about,” Harry soothed.

 

“If only I went with her,” Lana said vexed, “one of us could have—”

 

“It’s no good going through the ‘if’s’, it’s happened and unfortunately we can’t change it but we can catch this maniac and I know you will be the one to find him.”



Chapter 9: Eight
  [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]

“There’s a serial killer on a rampage and our Ministry decides to throw a party?” Lana snorted, picking up her train on her black dress.

 

“He hasn’t attacked in almost a week,” Evan shrugged, “I think he close call made him rethink, he was getting too confident and nearly got caught.”

 

Lana rolled her eyes, “you’re just happy to get dressed up and go out.”

 

“Correct,” he grinned.

 

Lana couldn’t deny it, dressing up and look forward to an elegant night out was perhaps not productive but it would certainly raise morale of what had been a very stressful and depressing few weeks.

 

“Why do you think Harry wanted to meet us early?” Lana asked approaching his suite.

 

“I don’t mean to toot my own horn, but I think we’re becoming friends,” Evan straightened his lapels of his jacket.

 

“I think so too, he must miss his friends,” Lana observed.

 

“I’m replacement Hermione,” Evan claimed.

 

“So I’m Ron?” She feigned insult.

 

“You have red hair, it’s obvious,” Evan smiled and gently nudged Lana.

 

Evan looked handsome in his pressed blue suit, he was always fashionably dressed. He had even picked out the black gown Lana was wearing.

 

“Hello,” Evan called entering Harry’s suite.

 

“Good evening,” he smiled, “you both look great!”

 

“Thank you,” Evan took a mock bow, “you scrub up alright too.”

 

Lana agreed, Harry looked incredibly handsome. A rich burgundy tailored jacket, navy bow tie and black dress pants. He hair sat gently mussed and he looked like he had a full night’s sleep.

 

“Your Minister sent a styling team for me,” he gestured to two pale skinned and well made up women in black, “I thought you guys might like to—”

 

Evan strutted up to the women and took a seat in the make-up chair, “don’t mind if I do!”

 

The women giggled and immediately began working on Evan’s hair and face. Evan appeared very content and relaxed being pampered by two professionals.

 

“Don’t let him take up all your time!” Lana called.

 

“I have the perfect dress for you,” one of the women admired with a thick Jersey accent.

“Oh my God, the teal Fie! You are so right!” Her colleague answered highlighting Evan’s cheekbones.

 

“And this guy,” Fie continued, “he could totally pull off that pocket square and bowtie.”

 

“She’s been dying to get that on someone!” The other woman nudged Evan.

 

“I am in your capable hands!” Evan grinned.


“I thought Evan would enjoy this,” Harry grinned handing Lana a flute of champagne.

 

“You’re not wrong,” Lana clinked glasses with Harry.

 

“Feels a bit stupid, to be honest,” Harry ruffled his neatly styled hair, “a party in the middle of all this.”

 

“I agree,” Lana said taking a sip, “the Minister argues that it will raise morale but I think we should be out patrolling instead of no one being on the streets.”

 

“Your turn doll,” Fie gently took Lana’s arm and led her to the chair.

 

Evan looked amazing, his hair was perfect, face brightened and the deep plum finishes to his suit made him look like a celebrity. He completed the look by taking Lana’s flute of champagne and sipping extravagantly. Lana closed her eyes as the ladies went to work, gently brushing and tracing their tools on her face and in her hair.

 

Lana felt some of the tension that had been building in her shoulders melt away as she enjoyed the feeling of someone pampering her. She could hear Evan and Harry having a laugh, their voices energetic and positive. For a moment she would push the fear of the serial killer to the back of her mind and just enjoy herself.

 

“Wow,” Harry commented.

 

Lana opened her eyes, she had been so lost in her thoughts she hadn’t realised she was ready. She spun around to the full length mirror and her jaw dropped. Her elegant black dress had been replaced by a teal gown, off the shoulder with long satin gloves, the bodice had an iridescent shimmer woven into the fabric that shimmered blue and green when she moved, the skirt was full of ruffles, satin and tulle, shimmering in the lights.

 

“That is the most amazing gown I’ve ever seen!” Evan’s jaw was dropped too, he stood back scrutinizing the gown like an artwork.

 

“Gorg!” Fie clapped her hands enthusiastically and gave her friend a squeeze.

“Wow,” Lana breathed.

 

They had given her a simple black choker with a small green emerald at the base of her throat and matching earrings. Her hair was piled on top of her head with soft curls escaping and trailing down her back.

 

“Do you love it?” Fie asked.

 

“I never want to take it off!” Lana beamed.

 

“You will need your coat outside but make sure you take it off for a big reveal when you enter the room ok?” Fie winked at Evan.

 

“I’ll make sure she makes an entrance,” Evan promised.

 

 

 

Lana pulled her coat tightly across her chest as the trio slid out of their Ministry issued Rolls. It was issued for Harry but Lana and Evan appreciated the ride too.

 

“I think I’ve turned up to this event with the best looking people,” Harry grinned.

 

“Oh don’t fish Harry, you know you look good,” Evan linked his arm through Harry’s and the other one through Lana’s, “we need all this extra goop to keep up with your celebrity status.”

 

Harry rolled his eyes but continued smiling. Camera’s flashed as the trio entered, bombarding him with questions.

 

“Just ignore them,” Harry smiled, oblivious to their shouts, “look like we’re just chatting.”

 

Evan was far better at this than Lana, he turned his head and laughed like he didn’t have a care in the world. They made it into the Plaza hotel, a place Lana had only visited three times on special occasions or to make a bust. Entering the exclusive hotel with Harry was a true treat. Guests nearly broke their necks to catch a glimpse of him, they whispered and pointed, forgetting their manners.

 

“May I take your coats?” A handsome waiter asked.

 

“Thank you,” Lana said slipping her coat off.

 

Now the guests weren’t just looking at Harry, whispers followed the trio as they entered the ballroom. A magnificent room with high ceilings and filled with so much candlelight it could have been late afternoon inside instead of pitch black outside. Golden tiffany chairs trapped black round tables filled with sparkling cutlery and sumptuous food. Crystal glasses and goblets sparkled in the guests hands and the room seemed to hush when Harry entered.

 

“Potter,” a friendly voice sounded from the crowd.

 

A handsome blonde man with startling grey eyes and a stunning brunette in a rose gold gown rushed to Harry, they embraced and obvious to everyone they were long lost friends.

 

“Evan, Lana these are two of my friends from London, Draco Malfoy and Astoria Greengrass,” Harry beamed.

 

“Pleased to meet you,” Astoria gave Lana a kiss, “I love your dress by the way, I noticed that before I noticed Harry,” she laughed.

 

“What are you two doing here?” Harry beamed at his old friends.

 

“We’ve been travelling, sight-seeing but had to do some work for the Ministry this weekend,” Draco said wrapping his arm around Astoria’s waist.

 

“Oh he’s being modest,” she replied swatting at him playfully, “he was a keynote speaker at the dark artefacts conference yesterday.”

 

“My friend went to that, there’s almost ten thousand people there,” Evan commended, “very impressive.”

 

Draco shrugged it off but couldn’t help look a little chuffed with himself, “I heard all about the case they put you on,” he lowered his voice, “that’s rough.”

 

“Mr Potter,” boomed the voice of the Minister of Magic, Navin Nassar, “we meet at last!”

 

The Minister was a loud, charismatic leader, “Navin Nassar and my wife Tora Nassar.”

Navin was a tall, olive skinned, his clothes always bright, this evening a royal blue suit clad his impressive sixty something year old body. His wife Tora was profoundly elegant, tall slender and with caramel coloured skin, she wore a mustard gown complete with a shawl that twinkled as she moved in the light. They were the King and Queen of New York and looked the part at every public appearance. Dazzling guests with their confident personalities and regal fashion looks.

 

“Mr Potter,” Tora beamed, “I am so delighted to meet you!”

 

“She’s a little star struck,” Navin affectionately nudged his wife, “won’t shut up about meeting you. She would have met you at the airport if she could.”

 

“You’re awful,” Tora playfully swatted her husband away. “Before my husband steals you away to talk your ear off, may we have a dance?” She looked to Lana, “if your girlfriend doesn’t mind?”

 

“Oh no, he’s –“ Lana began.

 

“I adore your dress by the way,” she placed a gentle hand on Lana’s dress admiring the fabric.

 

“Behave yourself Tora, Harry if she gets too handsy just hex her,” Navin laughed, watching the pair melt into the dance floor. “Well come on, all your young people should be out there dancing too, off you go.”

 

Navin placed Astoria with Evan and Lana with Draco, no one objected as the Minister seemed so jubilant at his work, admiring all the couples dancing, “very good, get to know each other now! Have fun!”

 

Lana forced a meek smile as Draco placed a hand around her waist, assuming dance position. He could hear Evan already laughing with Astoria and wished she had his easy confidence, much like the Minister.

 

“How long have you and Harry been—” Draco began.

 

“We’re not together,” Lana corrected.

 

“Oh, my mistake,” Draco grinned a little sheepishly.

 

“Dark artefacts sounds like an interesting career,” Lana tried desperately at starting easy conversation.

 

“What’s that supposed to mean?” Draco’s body stiffened.

 

“Just about your conference and all.”

 

Draco visibly relaxed, “sorry, Americans are still very judgemental towards me and my ties with the Dark Lord.”

 

Lana tried her best not to react to the thought, of course she had heard all about Draco, his family legacy and the allegiance to Voldemort. But she had also heard how his mother had saved Harry and Draco had broken the tradition his family had built up. Harry testified for him in the Death Eater trials and it was decided that Draco had been manipulated and brainwashed to believe in what his parents – his father especially had forced him into.

The tipping point was him falling in love with Astoria whose family wasn’t into the pure blood nonsense, once Draco’s family disapproved of his relationship with Astoria, Draco was gone.

 

“Americans are still very judgemental towards anything that requires reading,” Lana joked, “I hardly think that a teenage boy can make life changing choices on his own, our parents are our everything when we’re young and you just wanted to please them.”

 

Draco stared at Lana for a long while, his grey eyes searching and he simply said, “thank you.”

 

“It’s probably not my place to say, but that’s just my opinion,” she had said too much again.

 

“No, really, it’s refreshing to hear, it’s part of the reason I was so eager to come to the States and do these talks. So hopefully people would see another side to me.”

 

“You just have to give it time,” Lana assured.

 

“Thanks Lana,” Draco twirled her around and gently caught her waist.

 

“Hey, not bad,” she remarked.

 

“New York is unlike any place I’ve ever been to,” Draco admired, “it has this energy, that I’ve never experienced anywhere else.”

 

“It’s true, this city is electric, even in a blizzard there’s always people around, shopping, yelling, laughing. I love it here,” she hesitated, “it’s a bit different now with a serial killer on the loose.”

 

“I can’t believe they want Harry to look after that,” Draco mused.

 

“Same, I really thought once he realised what he was brought here to do he would leave,” Lana let Draco turn her out again.

 

Draco smirked, “I have a few ideas as to why he stayed.”

 

Draco caught her again and they resumed swaying to the music, “like what?”

 

“Well, he can’t stand to not play the hero, if he’s asked to fix something, he won’t stop until it’s fixed,” Draco looked thoughtfully and then a mischievous smile spread across his face, “and I daresay he likes staying in New York for other reasons than the energy.”

 

Lana rolled her eyes at his suggestion but couldn’t stop her heart from fluttering faintly with hope.

 

“Draco!” Astoria beamed at her boyfriend, “it’s our song! Would you mind if I cut in please Lana?”

 

“Not at all,” Lana smiled.

 

“Your charming friend Evan, went to the bar, if you want to find him,” Astoria wove herself into Draco’s arms.

 

“Thanks for the dance,” Draco grinned.

 

With a smile and wave she left the loved up couple, with a small twinge of jealousy. They were so happy and had such a beautiful aura around them as they swayed with their eyes closed, they could have been the only two people in the room.

Or even the world.

 

Lana weaved through couples dancing, distinguished guests tipping champagne down their throats, women laughing loudly at men doing their best to impress when she was grabbed around the waist.

 

“Neville!” She was taken aback that someone so mild could have taken her so forcibly.

 

“Sorry for startling you,” his cheeks reddened, “I called out to you but I don’t think you heard…or you were ignoring me.”

 

Lana smiled, “of course not. Would you like to dance?” She asked kindly, raising an eyebrow.

 

“Oh…erm…yes please, you look beautiful tonight,” he stammered, “you always look beautiful though.”

 

“Neville thank you, you are so kind, you look very handsome too. It’s strange seeing all your colleagues dressed up so elegantly.”

 

“I saw you talking to Draco Malfoy,” his eyes hardened, “are you ok?”

 

“Am I,” she laughed, “of course I’m fine, he’s harmless.”

 

“That’s what he wants everyone to think,” Neville whispered into her ear, “he is evil.”

 

“But he was cleared of all allegations, years ago.”

 

Neville scoffed, she’d never seen his face contort this way, “the Malfoy family is loaded, they paid so many people off.” Neville had now gripped her waist harder and Lana saw a sheen of sweat bead on his upper lip.

 

“Neville, you’re kinda hurting me,” she said forcing a smile.

 

He instantly let go, his eyes softening again into that familiar shyness, “I’m so sorry, please. I just really lose my head when he’s out, walking around like a free man, with Astoria. I just forget myself.”

 

“It’s alright, maybe you should—”

 

Neville cut her off, he gentle tucked a few stray strands of her hair behind her ear, his fingers felt clammy as they brushed the side of her face, “it’s not alright, you deserve to be treated with more respect.”

 

“Really Neville, it’s perfectly fine,” she recoiled slightly, alarm bells sounding in her head.

 

“May I cut in?”

 

Harry arrived grinning and clapped his friend, Neville on the back.

 

“Nice seeing you Neville, have a great night,” Lana smiled and gratefully pulled Harry away to dance.

 

She watched Neville turn away, his eyes darkening at the sight of Harry dancing with her.



Chapter 10: Nine
  [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]

Harry watched as Lana seemed incredibly relieved by Harry getting rid of Neville. Or rather, Harry had hoped she was just happy to be dancing with him. He had watched her dance with Draco and he couldn’t help feel a tiny speck of jealousy. He knew Draco was ridiculously happy to be with Astoria but watching Lana have an easy conversation with him and his arms around her, even if it was very platonic, he couldn’t supress the envy.

 

Harry had spent most of the night dancing with fans, important American officials and other nameless faces. He was happy to be welcomed so fully into this country but all he really wanted was to be close to Lana. Heads turned as she danced past couples, her dress, her hair and her eyes were gleaming under the candlelight, she was the prettiest woman in the room, by far.

 

Evan eventually interrupted a dance with a seventy four year old delegate name Dorothy and escorted him to Lana.

 

“Dance with her,” Evan urged.

 

Harry didn’t need much persuading, knowing Neville wouldn’t mind, he finally had his arm around her waist and the other holding her hands, their bodies had never been closer. But she seemed preoccupied.

 

“Are you having a good night?” He asked.

 

“Yes, are you? You’re the most popular man in the room,” the corners of her mouth lifted into a smile and his heart skipped.

 

“Yes it seems to be that way, but there was only one person I wanted to dance with,” he swallowed, the champagne fizzing in his blood making him say things he normally wouldn’t have the confidence to sober.

 

Her eyes gazed up at him, her mouth slightly open in surprise, how could she not know he was attracted to her?

 

“Harry I—,” she began but was interrupted by a loud explosion.

 

Everyone hit the ground, Harry covering Lana with his body, wands were drawn as the smoke and dust began to clear. People screamed and shouted, looking for friends, loved ones through the choking smoke.

 

“Evan!” Lana yelled, coughing on the dust.

 

“Stay with me,” Harry whispered, he laced his fingers through hers, “stay down.”

 

A light blue, swirling mist came from the centre of the room, clearing the smoke and dust, revealing huddles of well dressed guests. Lana caught a glimpse of the people but the smoke and dust quickly enveloped them again.

 

“God Dammit,” it was Navin Nassar, the Minister, an incredibly powerful wizard, who couldn’t make the smoke vanish with his own magic. “Please everyone remain calm and stay where you are, if anyone is hurt send up red sparks or call out.”

 

No one made a sound, but the dread didn’t ease in Harry’s chest, maybe whoever was hurt, couldn’t make sound. Nassar tried to remove the smoke again but as soon as it vanished it covered everyone again.

 

A few whimpers and sobs rang out through the ballroom, Navin and some other people tried to clear the smoke but it evaded their magic.

 

“Please no one else do magic,” Navin pleaded, “you might accidently hit someone nearby.”

 

“This is dark magic,” Lana whispered, “if Navin can’t get rid of it.”

 

“He will,” Harry assured, his heart pumping fast, “do you think he will mind if I try something?”

 

“You’re Harry Potter, I’m pretty sure you can do whatever you like,” she squeezed his hand as he could barely read her expression through the smoke.

 

“Navin Nassar, it’s Harry,” Harry called, “permission to do magic.”

 

“Permission granted,” he replied instantly.

 

“Can you do a patronus?” Harry whispered to Lana.

 

“Of course, you think that will work?”

 

“It’s worth a shot,” Harry concentrated and watched as the silvery Stag bounded out of his wand, his prongs clearing away the smoke and dust. A moment later the Stag was joined by a silvery panther, the creature and it’s slinky body wiping away the smoke, even flicking it away with it’s tail.

 

A few others caught on and there was Draco’s eagle swooping, Astoria’s horse cantering and the Minister’s own Bull stomping through and clearing the smoke and dust.

 

“Nice patronus,” Harry admired watching the graceful cat leap from tables and clear the smoke.

 

“Thank you ,” she smiled watching her patronus leap effortlessly.

 

The smoke cleared and slowly became a foggy haze, figures moved about gingerly, checking for injuries. Some bodies writhed on the floor, clearly injured and in pain. Harry saw Draco gently life Astoria off the ground, both appeared to be unhurt.

 

“Evan!” Lana screamed and rushed to a dark figure crumpled on the floor.

 

“I’m ok,” he groaned, “just some debris caught me.”

He lifted his hand away from the back of his head, his fingers stained with blood.

 

“You’re bleeding,” Lana gasped, quickly pawing through her purse and plucking out the dittany, she dabbed a few drops on his wound, only to have it quickly open up again.

 

“That’s impossible,” she breathed.

 

“What?”

 

Harry watched as she tried again, dropping more of the essence into his scalp, it quickly dissolved – the wound remaining exactly the same.

 

“This is exactly what happened when I tried to heal Jamie,” Lana’s hand trembled, “it’s the same magic.”

 

Evan sat up groggily, “are you sure?”

 

“Absolutely,” she stared hard at the bottle, willing it to agree with her, “the killer was here.”

 

“You need to call it in,” Evan said thickly.

 

Harry grabbed a nearby linen napkin and pressed it to Evan’s head, “I’ll stay with him, go speak to Navin.”

 

“Are you ok Evan?” She asked, not wanting to leave his side.

 

“I have Harry Potter protecting me, I will be just fine,” Evan winked, some colour returning to his face.

 

The pair watched as Lana picked her way through the debris to Navin and spoke calmly to him, his eyes widened and he pulled his wife closer to him. After a lot of nodding, he amplified his voice.

 

“All guests are to remain in the building, no one is to leave,” his voice magnified across the room, “security man the doors we need to perform a roll call and make sure everyone is accounted for.”

 

Lana made her way back only to be accosted by Felix, “what did you say to the minister?”

 

“Just to make sure everyone is accounted for,” she glared back at him and turned away.

 

Felix grabbed her arm and pulled her back, “don’t walk away from your boss, I’m not finished with you yet.”

 

“Is there a problem Felix?” Harry asked helping Evan up off the ground.

 

Felix whispered in her ear before answering Harry, “of course not, just having a chat,” Felix smiled, he hand still squeezing Lana’s arm.

 

She twisted away from him and in one swift movement punched him square in the jaw, sending him a few steps backwards.

 

He held his jaw, a thin stream of blood crept down his chin, “don’t think for a moment you are still apart of this team Turner, you’re fired.”

 

“Firing this brilliant agent?” Navin appeared, “I must have heard you incorrectly.”

 

“Miss Turner, just helped my husband lock down the venue after some very clever detective work,” Tora placed and elegant hand on her husband’s shoulder.

 

“With all due respect Minister, Agent Turner just physically assaulted me,” Felix said earnestly, making sure Navin saw his bloody lip.

 

“Oh shut up Felix,” Evan said, “you purposefully exclude Lana all the time and handle her a lot more roughly than what she just did to you.”

 

“Is this true?” Navin turned to Lana, his eyes concerned.

 

Lana took a deep breath, “yes Minister, I feel that Felix is highly inappropriate with me because I’m a woman.”

 

“He provoked her,” Harry chimed in, “what did you whisper to Lana before she hit you?”

 

“Nothing!” Felix almost growled.

 

“Felix,” Navin said calmly, “what did you say that would warrant your fellow colleague to assault you?”

 

“It’s not appropriate for your wife to hear minister,” Felix averted his eyes.

 

Lana glared at Felix and spoke, “he said if I…fucked him then my job would be a lot easier.”

 

Tora gasped and quickly slapped Felix in the face, “disgusting,” she breathed.

 

“Clear out your office tomorrow, you are suspended without pay and you will have to complete the safe workplace training, before a revaluate you to join the workforce again,” Navin’s anger was quiet and deadly, no one breathed a sound.

 

Felix turned on his heel and stormed out, shrugging the security guards off him aggressively.

 

“In the future Miss Turner, you must report these incidents before they get out of hand,” Navin warned, his tone softer.

 

“Whose HR in the Auror facility?” Tora asked.

 

“One of Felix’s mates,” Evan replied, “to be honest, he has been hiring his mates for the last six years, it’s a real boys club.”

 

Navin pursed his lips, “Evan do you think you could lead this task force until we come up with a permanent solution?”

 

“Yes minister,” Evan did a good job of playing it cool but Harry could see his eyes were hopeful.

 

“Very well, consider it done,” the Minister nodded and left but not before his wife embraced Lana and left with a gentle squeeze on the shoulder.

 

Just then screams sounded, they pierced through the gentle chatter of shell shocked guests.

 

“What the fuck is it now!” Navin rushed past, his wife racing to catch up and pulling out her wand.

 

Harry followed along with Lana and Evan, the screaming was coming from the front of the hotel and growing more and more hysterical.

 

“Oh My God,” Tora shrieked, collapsing on to her husband.

 

Press had begun flocking to the front of the hotel, the bulbs flashing and madly scribbling notes down

 

“Glad I’m not in charge of this shit show anymore,” Felix said pointedly to Lana and skulked off past the reporters slowly shaking his head.

 

“What is it?” Evan hobbled forward and the trio saw between onlookers heads a gruesome and bloody sight.

 

A woman laying on the front steps, at an unnatural angle, her throat was shredded, blood pooled and spattered all over her body and the steps around her. Her dress now looked red as the blood had dried hard in the cold.

 

“Lina!” A voice screamed, a young man crumpled to the floor, his eyes rolled back in his head.

 

Tora immediately went to his side, organising other guests to help him up and get him inside.

 

“If I see any of these photographs in the news tomorrow, mark my words you will have no job,” Navin boomed, “how vile of you, this poor woman’s life ended here and you want to splash it all over the news? Get out of my sight!”

He clapped Evan on the shoulder gently, “this is your crime scene now Evan, good luck.”



Chapter 11: Ten
  [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]

Without anyone being told the entire team assembled at the Auror headquarters. The team still dressed in expensive suits and shimmering gowns. Women’s intricate hairstyles were thrown in to messy ponytails, sneakers replaced spindly heels and heavy earrings and restricting ties were discarded.

 

Tate was more subdued without his buddy to raise him through the ranks, he pouted and still looked devilishly handsome in a seat as far away from Evan as possible. Lana noticed Evan’s nerves, he took a sip of water and with his back to his team stared at all the moving faces of the Alphabet killer’s victims.

 

“Lina Portilla,” he said, “the 12th victim. Our killer is getting braver, he was nearly caught last week and this week decided to mock us all by killing right outside where he knew the entire department was. However, the explosion came from inside the ballroom, only invited guests were allowed in and hotel staff.”

 

“Excuse me,” Iris, a middle aged secretary tentatively put her hand up, “what’s happened to Felix?”

 

Evan swiped at his jaw with his hand, “Felix has been suspended without pay due to inappropriate behaviour with a fellow team member. I am the temporary head until the Minister finds an alternate solution.”

 

Iris nodded, her black hair swinging and Lana noticed she looked relieved, as did most of the team.

 

Leon a dark skinned Auror, “Felix was arrogant, racist and sexist,” he proclaimed, “I hope they leave you as head Evan.”

 

Evan smiled, “thank you, that’s very kind. This isn’t the most ideal situation to be thrown into but I just want to say that as your new head, you can come to me with any problems, if you’re feeling unsafe I want to know.”

 

There was applause and a few cheers thrown in. Lana beamed with pride at her best friend finally getting the recognition he deserved.

 

“I have a few assignments for everyone to tackle in the morning,” he sent envelopes whizzing out of his wand, “Tate and Patrick, I need you to interview the hotel staff and track their whereabouts during the evening. Leon and Ali you’ve got the arduous task of going through the guest list,” he nodded to Iris, “if you wouldn’t mind Iris helping them out and contacting other suspects.”

 

Iris nodded firmly, excited to have a real task.

 

“Excuse me,” Neville appeared in the doorway, his suit crumpled and tie undone, “sorry to interrupt, I just thought I might have some helpful information.”

 

“Of course,” Evan gestured for Neville to enter, “come on in Neville.”

 

Neville took a seat beside Lana and scooted his chair forward, his thigh was an inch away from hers. He smelt sour, acidic, like he had sweated a lot and the fibres of his suit at contained the odour.

 

“Do you all know how long Draco Malfoy has been in the country for?” Neville asked.

 

Heads turned to one another, shrugs were exchanged.

 

“He’s been here for almost a month and told no one, kept it all very secretive,” Neville looked directly at Evan.

 

“Do you think he’s a suspect?” Evan asked carefully.

 

“I think he should be your number one suspect,” Neville said boldly, “he has a vendetta against Americans, a passion for dark arts and I mean we all know his family heritage.”

 

“He does fit the profile we’ve been putting together,” Patrick, their psychological profiler agreed.

 

“He’s handsome enough for women to feel safe and flattered that he’s paying them attention,” Leon chimed in.

 

Neville nodded vigorously, “he’s always been a ladies man, he knows how to charm.”

 

“Hold on,” Harry said, “I know he has a bad reputation here but what he did for the Ministry in London, he single handily put away over twenty Death Eaters, at his own personal risk.”

 

“Yes, well we know you’re old friends,” Neville spat.

 

“Neville,” Harry was clearly shocked at his response, “I know how you feel about him but you left before he truly exonerated himself.”

 

“You have blinder’s on, just like Dumbledore, seeing the good in everyone,” Neville sneered, “I know what he’s really like, you mark my words, he will try and insert himself in this investigation and throw you further off his scent.”

 

Evan interrupted, “I still think it’s an angle we should look at,” Evan glanced at Harry, “just to cover all our bases, Lana you met Draco tonight can you do a little more digging.”

 

“No problem,” she said, offering him a quick smile.

 

Evan looked around at all the tired faces, their extravagant evening wear dishevelled and in various states of disrepair from the explosion.

 

“I want you all do go home, shower, eat, catch a few hours of sleep and come back at sunrise ready to catch this bastard,” Evan dismissed the team and they left with new energy at the prospect of sleep.

 

Lana had no intentions of going home, she had a change of clothes in her locker and a perfectly good shower here. She saw Harry and Evan talking non stop on the way to Evan’s new office and decided to make a beeline for the shower.

 

At her locker, she enjoyed the silence of a nearly empty office, when Neville appeared. He smiled awkwardly and approached her locker.

 

“That was nerve racking,” he leaned against her neighbours locker, “Evan is a good leader, a lot better than that moron Felix.”

 

“Hopefully this will be a good stepping stone for Evan and the entire department,” Lana agreed.

 

“Do you think Evan will really look into Draco?” He asked nervously, “or was he saying that just to shut me up?”

 

Lana shook her head, “if Evan says he’s going to do something, he will.”

 

“I just wish you didn’t have to investigate him,” Neville chewed his lower lip.

 

“I’ll be fine Neville, I can handle myself,” Lana assured him, hoping that was the end of the conversation.

 

“Yes,” Neville agreed, “I suppose you can, just be careful, he’s very charming and women always seem to fall for him.”

 

Lana laughed, “you’re very sweet Neville,” she sobered up, “but I promise you I will be careful. Now I need to go shower and get some rest so I’m ready to look at Draco.”

 

“Good thinking,” Neville nodded, he embraced Lana, maybe a second longer than she would have preferred, “I know you’re going to do great and you’re going to catch this guy.”

 

“Thanks Neville,” she waved him off, finally alone.

 

After showering and changing into comfortable fleece lined leggings, boots and a cosy sweater she felt reenergised and knew sleep would not be possible. Lana made her way to the top of the building, a rooftop with a spectacular view of Brooklyn bridge, she took her steaming coffee up with her and welcomed the early morning chill.

 

The outdoor furniture that scattered about the rooftop looked like glazed donuts covered in frost. She wound her scarf around her neck again and leant on the retaining wall, enjoy the peace and quiet of New York before the morning rush would begin.

 

Clouds of pale violet, blue and orange illuminated by the slowly rising sun swirled above and reflected in the river below. Her coffee was hot, her view was picturesque and Felix was finally gone from her building, it was almost perfect.

 

“Lana?” The rooftop door creaked open and Harry appeared, a beanie pulled over his forehead and parka zipped up to his chin.

 

“Good morning,” she smiled, “did you get some rest?”

 

He shook his head, “not at all. Evan said you might be up here,” he looked out to the view.

 

“It’s beautiful at sunrise,” she said.

 

“Certainly is,” he agreed leaning on the wall beside her, the fabric from their winter jackets rustled.

 

“Evan’s doing a great job,” Lana said, her eyes still on the sunrise.

 

“He is,” Harry agreed, “he will keep this position, you’ll see.”

 

“Neville was a little weird,” Lana said trying to sound casual.

 

“He was always a little weird but really he has a good heart. The torment he received off Draco would make even the kindest person vengeful.”

 

“You don’t think Draco is a suspect?” She turned to look at him.

 

“No, but I respect Evan for looking into every avenue,” Harry tore his eyes away from the sunrise to look at Lana.

 

“I actually had a gift for you,” Harry admitted, looking bashful.

 

“What for?” She asked, genuinely surprised.

 

“Just cause…I saw these in a shop near my hotel and they reminded me of you,” he dug into his pocket and pulled out a small red and gold box.

 

Inside were two small pear shaped emeralds, they winked dark green and blue from their box and Lana immediately put them on, “they are beautiful, Harry thank you so much. How do they look?”

 

“Beautiful,” he leant in closer to see the earrings and Lana pulled him close, pressing her mouth on his. They kissed on the rooftop as the sun rose and for Lana, the moment was perfect.



Chapter 12: Eleven
  [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]

Harry’s nerves hummed as he sat back in the main conference room. He purposefully brushed Lana’s hand as they sat down enjoying the trickle of electricity that seemed to ignite in her touch. Lana pressed her leg against Harry’s under the table and his heart raced.

 

They might have never come off that rooftop if Evan’s message hadn’t come through. Harry felt almost giddy, he’d been with plenty of women before so why did he react so strongly to Lana? Her scent, her smile, her touch was enough to make him lose all concentration and focus.

 

Harry tried to gather his thoughts as Evan burst into the room, his shoulders rigid and his temper on high alert. Harry felt Lana tense and turned her body language away from Harry to focus on her friend.

 

“All of you shut up,” he growled.

 

Harry had never seen him like this, he was obviously trying to contain himself, a vein in his neck pulsated and his jaw clenched.

 

Everyone was dead quiet.

 

“This is Officer Chris Beckett with the NYPD,” Evan said tightly, his eyes raking his team.

 

Harry recognised the officer, he was there when Jamie had died. Chris stayed back in the shadows, keeping a safe distance from Evan.

 

“This is Draco Malfoy,” Evan introduced, his jaw still clenched, “he’s from the London Ministry of Magic.”

 

Harry noticed Draco also kept his distance from Evan and stayed motionless next to Chris who fidgeted non-stop.

 

“Draco bought to my attention that Felix hasn’t been keeping his weekly meetings with the NYPD nor has he filed any of the information relevant to the case that the NYPD has provided him,” Evan’s voice was contrived.

 

He whacked both of his hands on the table causing everyone in the room to jump, “WHY is this only being brought to light now?” He glared at his team, “Draco found this out after one night of drinking with Felix,” Evan paused and tried to reign in his anger, “I know all you boys have your club and your drinks, who else knew about this?”

 

Nobody moved, nobody made a sound, the tension in the air crackled.

 

Tate shifted his weigh and sunk his head into his hands, “I didn’t know he wasn’t attending the meetings but I knew he wasn’t taking their information seriously,” he muffled a groan, “he’d just laughed at their investigation but I never thought he was dismissing it completely.”

 

All the arrogance in his handsome face disappeared, he looked tired and defeated, “I’m really sorry.”

Evan rolled his shoulders back, his anger evaporating as quickly as it surfaced, “I knew Felix was fucking around here but I thought he at least took his cases seriously,” he raked a hand through his hair, “I have already given my full apologies to Officer Beckett and his department and assured them all that as long as I’m in charge we will be working side by side. I brought Officer Beckett here to bring us up to speed with their findings.”

 

Evan stood aside and slumped into chair, his attention still focussed on Chris as he stepped forward nervously, his eyes resting on the floating coffee pots refilling everyone’s mugs, “uhh…thank you Evan for inviting me here to speak to everyone,” he looked around shyly and relaxed into a smile when he saw Lana’s familiar face, “I’ve met some of you before. As you know our commander in chief was murdered by this psychopath so as well as wanting to make the city safe for our people, it’s also very personal for us, my squad particularly.”

 

“Our medical examiner actually had a question for you,” Chris looked to Evan, “what do you use if someone bruises or cuts themselves?”

 

“Dittany,” Evan answered, “but it didn’t seem to work on deep wounds.”

 

“Bruisewort,” Iris piped up, “I use it on my boys, they’re always scraping their knees, getting into fights before school picture day.”

 

“How long does Bruisewort take to clear the bruise?” Chris asked, scribbling in his notebook.

 

“Depends on how soon after you put it on, the sooner the better it can clear it up in a hour or two,” Iris spoke more confidently and managed a quick smile at Chris.

 

“But the tissue underneath would still be inflamed?” He asked, pen poised  ready to write.

 

Iris blushed, “oh I don’t know that, I’m sorry.”

 

“That’s fine,” he smiled at her, “our ME noticed a lot of inflamed tissue, it would normally show up as a bruise but on most of the victims there was no visible bruising.”

 

“What does that mean?” Leon asked.

 

“It means,” Draco announced walking towards Harry, “if I punched Harry right now,” he mocked a fist to the cheek, “and killed him, the area I punched wouldn’t have time to fully inflame as he’s dead. The body stops producing blood, oxygen to rush to the site of the hit.”

 

“So if there’s been time for the wounds to inflame, he hurt them what an hour or so before he killed them?” Leon said grimly.

 

“Well, yes in most cases he has hurt them long before he actually killed them,” Chris looked more uncomfortable now, “except for Heather Peppers and Jamie all other victims were found to have internal injuries, swelling, scar tissue, bleeding.”

 

“All our autopsies deal with magic, we haven’t really looked internally for physical injuries,” Patrick commented.

 

“That’s not our expertise and this is why it’s not important we work together,” Evan said calmly, he anger now a memory. “We miss important findings like this and in the process get more women killed.”

 

Chris held his hands up, “we are no closer to finding this guy than you are.”

 

“But you have made breakthroughs and significant ones at that,” Evan shook his head.

 

“Am I missing something?” Leon asked, glancing around the room, “why are these internal injuries so significant?”

 

Chris sucked in a deep breath and glanced at Evan, who nodded solemnly.

 

“Aside from Heather and Jamie, the rest of the victims seemed to have been tortured for a couple of days before their deaths,” Chris admitted.

 

“What?” Lana gasped.

 

Evan looked up, “our killer is holding his victims somewhere and torturing them to death.”

 

 



Chapter 13: Twelve
  [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]

Lana’s stomach hadn’t unclenched since Evan announced their shocking discovery. Could a monster really be holding women captive? Torturing them and laying them out to die when he felt like it?

The thoughts swirling around her head were gruesome, she tried to focus on the remainder of the meeting as she watched Chris and Evan, two men thrust into leadership try and navigate their way through this mess.

 

“Are you ok?” Harry asked gently.

 

Lana hadn’t realised the rest of the team were gathering their belongings and heading off to their next task and to grab lunch. Lana hadn’t moved.

 

“Yes,” Lana tried to smile, “just a lot to process.”

 

“Absolutely,” Harry shook his head, “it’s eerily familiar to Voldemort and the Death Eaters, the torture and the need to feel powerful.”

 

At the mention of Death Eaters, Lana’s eyes flew to Draco who was shaking hands with Chris and looking like he was a part of our team.

 

‘He will insert himself into the investigation.’

 

Hadn’t Neville predicted this very event?

 

“I’m just going to have a quick chat with Draco,” Harry said.

 

Lana smiled and watched the two familiar friends in deep discussion, they have a bond, a shared history. This must be what Evan and her look like together, although Evan and her were never enemies only allies.

 

“It’s all too perfect isn’t it?” Evan said sitting in Harry’s chair.

 

“Draco?” Lana whispered.

 

Evan nodded, “just like Neville said,” he turned closer to Lana and leant in, “I’m not saying he is our guy, but I want you to do some digging, without Harry around.”

 

“Sure,” Lana nodded, keeping her eyes on Harry and Draco, “do you find Neville a little off?”

 

Evan cracked a smile, “all the herbology guys are off. I think his accusations are mostly from his past but it can’t hurt to check out all our avenues can it?”

 

“Of course not,” Lana agreed, “I’ll spend the next two days on him and if nothing comes up?”

 

“We will drop it and move on,” he looked to Harry, “keep him out of it, he’s got rose coloured glasses on.”

“I’ve got to head off,” Draco called out to Evan.

 

“Sure,” Evan smiled and shook his hand, “I really appreciate you coming to me, you’ve made all the difference.”

 

“You’re welcome,” Draco said cheerfully, “see you all soon.”

 

Evan put his arm around Harry, “I don’t know about you but I could use a drink.”

 

Harry laughed, “sure thing, I’ll get my coat. Lana are you coming?”

 

“Lana has got to cross check the guest list so it’s just you and me,” Evan grinned.

 

“I’ll catch up with you guys this evening,” Lana promised, buttoning up her coat.

 

Harry looked disappointed and a new feeling, a squirming in her stomach that felt something like guilt burrowed it’s way inside of her.

 

“Follow him,” Evan whispered.

 

 

 

It was the best and the worst city to follow someone in, the best because it was all too easy to be hidden amongst the other New Yorker’s and swarms of tourists that choked Times Square and the city of Manhattan. And the worst for the same reason, it was easy to lose your target, especially when everyone was swaddled up in winter layers.

 

It had only just gone lunch but the sky was a blanket of grey clouds, a low swirling mist clouding the tops of buildings. Snow was forecast for later tonight but at this rate Lana would be surprised if snow began falling within the hour.

 

Lana carefully tucked her red hair into her hood, her grey scarf wound around her neck and chin kept her throat warm and served as a plausible disguise. With her head bowed against the icy wind she thrust her hands deep into her pockets and followed Draco Malfoy at a safe distance.

 

Draco walked, head bent to shield him from the cold, Lana now had his gait etched into her retina’s and she could pick him up as soon as she lost sight of him. He moved with purpose and even bent against the wind he had great posture. They had just crossed 32nd street and the crowds were beginning to thin. Lana changed her jacket colour to navy, in case he’d spotted the charcoal grey coat.

 

He’d turned down a few more streets, at every turn the crowd thinned. Draco was nowhere near his hotel and for the first time she thought maybe there was a seed of truth to Neville’s obsession with Draco and his ties to dark magic.

 

Draco stopped at St Holmes, a wizard hospital, a harassed looking Healer met him. The healer was dressed in muggle winter clothes, he was much taller than Draco but weedier and lanky. He was leaning his head down talking to Draco quickly, he seemed keen to escape. Draco was visibly angry, his fist clenching and his eyes narrowed at the Healer.

 

The Healer noticeably flinched when Draco moved his hand to loosen his scarf. Was the Healer expecting a hex? Lana didn’t want to risk getting any closer as there was no one else around, she had pulled out her muggle phone and pretended to look up directions.

When Draco turned on his heel so sharply, Lana thought she had been made but he stormed off and nearly knocked her over in the process.

 

The Healer looked sadly after Draco and slowly shook his head. He returned back inside the building. Lana changed her jacket colour to black this time, as the sky darkened even more, she’d do well to blend in with the impending light fading.

 

Draco was moving fast now, crossing roads without checking the traffic. Lana held back until she saw him turn down an alley, he glanced around before he entered and ducked his head against the shadows in the alley.

 

Bingo, Lana thought, this was it.

 

Lana waited a few moments, took a deep breath and with her hand fastened around her wand entered the alley. Her footsteps echoed on the cement, mounds of rubbish and junk littered the alley. Up ahead was almost black with darkness and she could no longer see Draco’s figure. She moved quickly to catch up, trying to be as silent as possible.

 

A jet of light caught her shoulder, she had ducked to avoid the full blast and slammer herself against the alley wall.

“Expelliarmus,” she shouted.

 

But he was too quick for her, Lana’s spell ricocheted off Draco’s protection shield, he’d performed a non verbal spell, that the English were so famous for doing. Struck by her own spell Lana slammed back into the wall, this time her head smacking tremendously on the brick and caused black dots to swim in her vision.

 

She felt an arm around her waist and another force tug her head back. Lana’s hood fell off, her red hair spilling out of the hood, he unfocussed eyes finding Draco’s face looking straight back at her.

 

“Lana?” He looked shocked but kept his grip firm, “what are you doing here?”

 

Lana winced at the throbbing in her skull, “I should ask you the same question.”

 

Draco loosen the grip off her head but kept his arm firmly around her waist, “were you following me?”

 

Lana remained impassive, she didn’t want to blow her cover so quickly.

“Are you sucking up to Harry to get his money?” He sneered.

 

Lana scoffed, her façade shattered, “excuse me! How dare you!”

 

“Well why are you out here following me?”

 

“I don’t see why Harry has anything to do with this,” she replied, wriggling free of his grasp.

 

“What did you see?” he eyes narrowed.

 

“You at the hospital, getting very angry at a Healer,” Lana held his glare.

 

And suddenly all the hostility dropped, he deflated, his hands covered his face and Lana realised he was crying. Not only crying, sobbing, it was the strangest sight and a myriad of emotions dove through her. Surely this weeping man before her could be able to murder? And if he was he was the best actor she’d ever seen.

 

His sobs shook his whole body and Lana noticed his hands trembling. It was grief, shocking and confronting, a deep grief. Lana had seen it and experienced it herself. It was a physical, emotional and mental response.

 

Sighing she hoisted Draco’s arm around her shoulders, he looked like he could do with some physical support as well as emotional. If he is the murderer, she thought, I’m in big trouble.

But she couldn’t leave him out in the cold, sobbing as though he heart had been split in two.

 

“It’s Astoria,” he managed to say, “she’s sick.”

 

All judgement vanished from Lana as she decided what to do next, “come on, we’re going to apparate to my place and get you out of the cold.”

 

With little to no argument Draco let himself be manoeuvred by Lana, she twisted on the spot and with a pop landed in her apartment.

 

The heating had been on, the loft apartment was toasty, she sat Draco on her overstuffed sofa and placed a blanket over him. A large tabby cat with enormous black and ginger splodges covering his body sauntered to the couch and promptly sat on Draco’s lap, curling up into the folds of the blanket.

 

Rhythmically stroking the cat’s head, Draco calmed down, “that’s Gene,” Lana offered as her cat’s large green eyes blinked softly at her, he had done this to her many times, intuitively known just where to be at the right time.

 

“He’s perfect,” Draco actually smiled, “I’m sorry about that, I just…”

 

Lana held her palms up, “you don’t have to tell me.”

 

“I know, but I did just have a very near mental breakdown,” he muttered.

“We’ve all done it,” Lana waved off.

 

Draco raised his eyebrows, “you’ve broken down in an alleyway after assaulting your friend’s girlfriend?”

 

“Not girlfriend,” she reminded him, although had Harry and her only kissed this morning?

It felt like a lifetime ago, so much had happened.

 

“Did I hurt you?” He asked, his eyes still swollen from crying, crinkled with concern.

 

“Just a bump on the head,” Lana gingerly felt the bulging lump at the back of her head.

 

“It’s why I never finished Auror training,” he admitted, “always to hex happy, suppose it’s engrained in me since…you know.”

 

Lana grinned, “I really don’t know how Harry walks around not jinxing everyone he meets, I’d still be paranoid.”

 

Draco took a deep breath, “Astoria has a blood curse.”

 

“What?”

 

“An ancient blood curse, it was put on her family and some of the signs are beginning to show. We heard there were Healers here who had these new, revolutionary treatments,” he scratched Gene’s head lovingly.

 

“That’s why you’ve been in New York for so long,” Lana nodded comprehending.

 

“You guys have been watching me?” He didn’t sound defensive, just surprised.

 

“After what happened last night, everyone in the room became a suspect, and we had heard you were in the country longer than you had told  everyone, a few people said you’ve been acting strangely,” Lana grimaced, “but now it all makes sense.”

 

“I can’t believe Harry would think—”

 

“Harry doesn’t know,” Lana interrupted, “in fact when your name was thrown in, he laughed it off. He doesn’t know I had to follow you,” Lana admitted.

 

Lana waved her wand and two goblets of White Owl Whiskey appeared, she passed one to Draco, “you need it.”

 

Lana also needed it, she took a large sip, feeling the liquid warm her from the inside and leant back into the teal sofa.

 

Draco admired her apartment, “you obviously don’t need Harry’s money,” he glanced around at the high ceiling’s, large windows, stylish furniture and the view of Manhattan. Everything was polished oak, clean white, dove grey and accented with pops of teal and gold.

 

“I’m not rich,” she corrected.

 

“That’s what rich people say,” he quipped.

 

“I just inherited,” she shrugged, taking another mouthful.

 

“I’m sorry,” Draco said uncomfortably.

 

Lana shrugged again, becoming dismissive to move the conversation elsewhere.

 

“I guess we’re back to square one now,” she sighed again stretching her legs out on the gold metal and glass coffee table.

 

“It’s crazy to think there is some psycho keeping women prisoner somewhere here in New York,” Draco shook his head, “who has magical powers who would need to do that to someone?”

 

Lana leant her head back, “yes, who indeed.”



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