It was five thirty in the morning. Scorpius Malfoy stared at the dead man’s face. His skin was tinted a cold stiff blue. He’d been dead for a several hours.
Scorpius could feel his brain trying to catch up. His mind didn’t run at optimal speed at five thirty in the morning.
Fitz Rosier. He’d seen him alive and kicking, with his usual weak wan smile and nervously twitching eyes at his father, Draco Malfoy’s, office only two days ago. Between then and last night Fitz Rosier had been murdered.
Now Fitz Rosier looked like something out of a pantomime. A murderer with a theatrical flair. Scorpius couldn’t possibly think of anything worse.
Fitz Rosier was dressed in black dress robes with elaborately detailed gold trimmings. And he was wearing dress shoes. The kind one might wear to the fancy-pants pureblood events that Draco Malfoy was always dragging Scorpius along to.
Milly Brandon, his partner, informed him they were new dress robes. Apparently bought just the day before at Madame Malkins by Fitz Rosier himself, purchased for the event of his daughter, Desiree Rosier’s wedding to Florentius Selwyn in a month.
Scorpius sighed. Desiree and her twin Circe had been in his year and house at Hogwarts. He had received an invitation for the wedding four months ago, with a plus-one. He still hadn’t figured out whom to bring despite his mothers many suggestions.
He wondered if the fact that he knew them personally meant he should be the one to inform the family of Fitz Rosier’s death, or if he could possibly fob it off on someone else. He hated informing families.
Fitz Rosier was laid out on the floor at an awkward angle. Spread-eagle. His wand placed in his right hand. Which was all wrong since Scorpius recalled that Fitz Rosier was left-handed. A mistake, or on purpose? He took a note, filed away for future reference. An ornate dagger was stabbed through his heart.
Stabbed in post-mortem though it would seem. The blood was all wrong for a stabbing. It hadn’t been the murder weapon. It was simply part of the pantomime, part of the set-up. He hadn’t worn the dress robes when he was murdered either Scorpius figured. He had been dressed in them by his murderer after his last breath.
The large pool of blood that surrounded him was fake, theatre blood, which looked more dramatic than real blood Scorpius supposed. The fact remained though that whether or not the blood was Fitz Rosier’s, Fitz Rosier was still dead, dead on the floor.
Which made it all the more frustrating to Scorpius Malfoy that the corpse of Fitz Rosier was laid out in the dead centre of the Ministry of Magic’s function room where a charity ball had been held only the night before.
Scorpius looked up at the ceiling. It was far too early in the morning for this. Five-freaking-thirty in the morning. His head was screaming at him, pounding at the walls of his skull, informing him less than politely that right now, his rightful place was in bed. Milly Brandon, his auror partner had called him a ten past five and informed him he had to come into the ministry. His eyes were still itchy with sleep.
Merlin, why did it have to be him dealing with this stuff? It would be easier if all murders were all just nice and straightforward. Victim, cause of death, murder weapon, and a murderer with a straightforward, sensible and perfectly understandable motive for murder. And definitely not murderers with a ridiculous flare for the theatrical. Was that really to much to ask?
With a deep sigh he surveyed the scene. Gustav Whitehorn nodded at him, indicated he had taken all the photos of the crime scene they needed, and Scorpius waved Milly over. She passed him a pair of plastic gloves and Scorpius wrinkled his nose in distaste. He hated the way these gloves smelled. Stale. They always smelled stale.
“Who found him?” He asked as he snapped the gloves on with a scowl. The gloves never slid on easily either, and always became sweaty on the inside within seconds, staining them yellow.
“Security guard, Peter Wardi, I took his statement already.” She replied, pulling on her own gloves as Scorpius nodded.
She started from the right of the doors that opened to the large room, and he started from the left. He always started from the left. Like the maze at Hampton Court Palace, if one goes left one gets to the centre. They both combed the scene for every significant and insignificant detail, passing each other in the centre. Everything. They would sort through it later. Better to collect too much data now than to stand with empty hands later.
“Fingerprints?” Scorpius asked Milly as he pulled off the smelly gloves.
“I’ve got Pippin on it. He’s got a good eye for it.” She assured him as she moved to give further instructions.
He grabbed Milly’s arm. “Hollens can do the initial sweep of the body. But then I want Albus in charge of the body. He can do it tomorrow morning.” He instructed, and she made a face at him.
“You know forensics hate it when you do that.” She moaned.
Scorpius shrugged, and Milly nodded before hastily sending a memo to forensics and barking out instructions to Pippin and Ryan. Then turned back to Scorpius.
“I think the knife is our best bet at a lead initially. It looks like a one-off piece, not mass produced. I’ll get someone to track down where it was bought from.” Scorpius nodded, and took one last glance at Fitz Rosier’s face.
He realised the murderer had even applied make-up to the face, and couldn’t help but take another deep sigh. Inside the freaking Ministry of Magic.
There was going to be so much pressure on him and Milly to solve this thing fast. And he’d been hoping for another quiet weekend.
Lucy Weasley stood in front of the back door. A large heavy-looking oak door painted a dark shade of navy. Lucy liked navy. It had no door handle. Only a brass plaque that read ‘Trade Entrance: Contact L.C. Weasley for assistance’ and a single small keyhole. Lucy believed door handles were a waste of space. Door handles suggested that just anyone could go on.
Lucy reached into the deep pockets of her navy duffle-coat and pulled out the key. A heavy iron key, orange with rust that rattled and scraped in the lock. It glowed pale blue, fast and bright in the lock. The sound of no less than twelve bolts sliding into the door frame groaned and moaned mechanically.
She pulled the key out of the keyhole, and drew out her wand, pulling it across the door almost as though she were using a paintbrush to paint pictures on the door. Which wasn’t far from the truth. She was drawing runes. Three layers one on top of the other. Once the third was completed, an audible deep click echoed from within.
Pulling off her left red leather glove, she pressed the palm of her hand against the paintwork. Only then did the door swing open. And even then, if one was observant one would see the series of runes etched all the way around the door frame, carved and activated to catch out the riff-raff.
Lucy Weasley was nothing if not careful about her shop.
She moved into the front of the shop, unlocked the two front doors, and turned the signs to ‘open’. Two front doors, less than two metres between them. One that faced out onto Diagon Alley, and one than faced onto Knockton Alley.
Lucy Weasley quite successfully straddled two worlds where her poky little shop lay on the corner on Knockton Alley and Diagon Alley. Knockton Alley was black. Diagon Alley was white. And Lucy Weasley was most definitely grey.
Outside hung a large sign with a name in cursive. ‘Clearwater Antiques’. Lucy had named it after her mothers maiden name. Her father had been mildly offended that she hadn’t named it ‘Weasley’s’, however that name had far too much attached to it. Also, there was already ‘Weasley’s Wizarding Wheezes’ larger than life only a few shops further down Diagon Alley.
Clearwater had no baggage attached, implied no preconceived values, didn’t represent hero’s and victories.
Lucy liked her little grey area. The walls were covered in various shelves; Boxes were pilled up wherever possible, over spilling with things, pieces of antique furniture and ancient sculptures seemingly sprouting up out of the floor helter-skelter all over the space. Everything shoved in, barely fitting, leaving very little room for manoeuvring.
With a content sign she smiled, and took off her coat and gloves, stashing them behind the counter. She expected a slow, quiet day today.
Scorpius was going through the Ministry visitor’s lists, desperately attempting to narrow down the list of people he needed to quiz about whether or not they had seen anything. The charity ball had finished at eleven in the evening, and everyone had been cleared out by midnight. One would think there was a limit to how many people were present in the Ministry of Magic between midnight and five in the morning.
Scorpius had quickly discovered that that assumption was highly incorrect. Didn’t these people have homes and families to go home to at night? Apparently not. Especially the Unspeakables. Scorpius had always wondered what happened down there. The fact that it was a hive of activity at midnight did not lessen his curiosity. It did however make his job harder.
He sighed heavily and wondered if he could possibly fob off this particular chore on Hooper, rubbing his eyes which stung with exhaustion. A soft knock sounded at the door and Milly popped her head into the office that they shared.
“I got information on the knife. “Guffy says she thinks it was sold from ‘Clearwater Antiques’ on the corner of Diagon and Knockton Alley. I figured you might want to take a break and drop by there before taking a lunch break.” She said, handing him a folder that contained printouts of Gustav’s photo’s of the murder scene, close-ups of the knife, photos of the knife cleaned up and on a white background from various angles.
“Milly Brandon, you are my absolutely hero.” Scorpius said in relief, grabbing the folder and his cloak.
“Want to tell Graham Pritchard that? He might give me a pay rise.” Milly replied with a grin, shooing him out of their office.
Scorpius figured that if he could get at least one solid lead today on the murder of Fitz Rosier he might be able to get a proper nights sleep tonight.
The bell jingled over his head, an echoing chime ringing in the back room as Scorpius opened the door from Diagon Alley into ‘Clearwater Antiques’. He noted with interest that only two steps away an identical door opened onto Knockton Alley. He wondered if she frequently entertained customers from that side of the back alleys of London.
“Can I help you?”
Scorpius suppressed a groan when the shock of red curly hair filled his vision. A Weasley. Why didn’t Milly warn him that the shop was owned by a Weasley? The British wizarding world was freaking flooded with Weasley’s.
In his mind he tried to match her up to a name. Something that ended in ‘y’. Milly, Emily, Molly (no wait, that was her sister, wasn’t it?), Sally, Emmy?
Dash it all.
“Miss Weasley, I’m here representing the auror department to ask you some questions.”
Scorpius held up the printout of Gustav’s photo of the knife.
“I understand this knife is likely from your shop. I need to know who bought this and when, where it is from, any significance it may have, etc.”
“I’m afraid I believe in client confidentiality Mr. Malfoy.” She said snootily.
“Well, I’m afraid that you’ll have to set that belief aside for now Miss Weasley as this is a murder weapon in a current investigation.”
Her eyes flashed and she snatched the photo from his hands, studied it carefully, before handing it back to him calmly.
“That’s not possible Mr. Malfoy. This series of runes here on the pommel are an inlaid spell that stops the dagger from piecing living flesh. It’s from Imperial Rome, they became rather popular among the elite in the wizarding community after the assassination of Julius Caeser. A symbol of goodwill if you like. The runes would lose effect if significantly disfigured, but your photo indicates they are still intact. You’ll have to keep looking for your murder weapon.” Lucy explained snappily. She didn’t much like the idea that anything she sold be used as a murder weapon. And she was pretty confident about this one. She had tested it herself.
“Okay, so it’s not the actual murder weapon, but it is implicated in a murder, it was stabbed through a murder victim post-mortem. The fact remains I need to know who bought it and when.”
Lucy pursed her lips. “Narcissa Malfoy did. About two months ago, 4th September just past noon.”
“Do you need to check that somewhere…” Scorpius suggesting, narrowing his eyes at her.
“I’ll provide you with the receipt.” Lucy said, already turning to her archive. She took great pride in her organisation within her shop. She found the receipt within seconds and with a flourish of her wand, made a copy that she kept before handing the original over to Scorpius.
“I understand that she bought it as a gift for Fitz and Gwen Rosier for their wedding anniversary.” Lucy added.
Scorpius failed to suppress a groan. This murderer had set his stage and set it well.
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