Lucy couldn’t quite understand how she ended up wrapped tight and unable to move in Albus’ large fluffy purple blanket twice in the same week. Then again, she also couldn’t understand how someone had succeeded in hanging a large dead man from her rafters, while she was in the same building.
“Stepladder.” She said calmly.
Always calm. She needed to be calm she reminded herself. Scorpius looked at her questioningly.
“They must have used the stepladder. Behind the door.”
Harry immediately directed one of the many aurors that had flooded her shop to check behind the door. Scorpius was watching her like a hawk as Harry arranged for the aurors to get up the stepladder and cut down the corpse. Almost as though Scorpius was afraid that she was going to spontaneously combust. Lucy was pretending it didn’t make her uncomfortable, him watching her like that.
“Malfoy, if you want to be useful, release me from this blanket.” She said, injecting some of her usual firmness back into her voice.
Scorpius looked at her with eyes narrowed thoughtfully. “I’m not convinced you don’t need it.”
“I’m going to keep it on, but if you don’t release the charm I’m going to have a panic attack.” Lucy said, not entirely sure whether or not she was joking about the panic attack.
She was feeling dangerously close to one. She was looking at everything except the dead man they were now lowering to the ground. Scorpius removed the charm with a smooth movement of his wand.
Her Uncle Harry was watching the procedures with a dangerous look on his face. He’d identified the corpse as soon as he had arrived on the scene with Scorpius. Walden McNair. Formerly executioner of dangerous animals for the ministry of magic, also a former deatheater and a murderer. One of those open vacant eyes was in fact a glass eye, replacing the eye he had lost at the Battle of Hogwarts. Scorpius also figured that he was most likely a quenwood addict if the pattern in these murders persisted. And it hadn’t been the rope that killed him. It was freaking tea messing up with the chemicals of the quenwood. Tea! The British staple. How twisted.
Lucy could quite honestly say she didn’t care. She had never seen the man before, and she never wanted to see him again. She just wanted it out. Far away where she couldn’t see it.
Harry glanced at Lucy and his eyes softened. “Scorpius, take Lucy downstairs and give her a calming drought. Albus said there should be some in the cupboard over the sink.”
Scorpius didn’t ask twice, just wrapped an arm around Lucy’s shoulders and led her down the stairs. The kitchen was small, but organised. As Scorpius looked it over while getting the potion for Lucy he realised it wasn’t just a kitchen. It was a potions lab. It had the telltale sign of charred circles on the small kitchen table, the stack of different sized cauldrons in the corner and more stirring rods in the draws then forks and knives. Fascinating. Hobby or production line he wondered.
Lucy took the calming drought without a fuss. Not even a twisted face at the taste. Scorpius had to give it to her; she gave his mother and grandmother a run for their money in frosty classiness.
“So why do you have two separate doors?” He asked casually, leaning against the stone kitchen counter.
“I sell drugs out of my Knockton Alley door.” Lucy said calmly.
Scorpius figured his eyes must be bugging out of his head. “Seriously?!”
Lucy rolled her eyes, and for a moment she looked so very much like Lily that Scorpius couldn’t help grinning.
“Of course not. I’ve already informed you I do not deal in that sort of thing. But having two doors does mean I get customers from both alleys.” Lucy replied frostily, as though he should have been able to reach such a conclusion himself.
Scorpius looked relieved. “Thank goodness. I wouldn’t put it past you. With the flying carpets and all.”
“You haven’t proved they fly yet. I do sell wolfsbane potion on the side though.” Lucy added, her voice less cold, more like how she spoke with her own cousins.
Scorpius looked at her funny. Unsure of whether or not she was joking.
“Wolfsbane? You have a license for that?” He asked, strongly suspecting she didn’t.
“Goodness no,” Lucy exclaimed “have you seen the price of those things? They cost about as much as I earn in a year. Nope, no license means I can sell it much cheaper you know. Means more can afford it. Very few can you know.”
“You sell wolfsbane without a license?!”
Scorpius wondered if it was the calming drought that made her spill these things to him, and wondered if it were possible for him to get calming drought down her throat more often. Or maybe get her drunk. Maybe she was more forthcoming when she was drunk. And less cold and composed as well. He wanted to imagine her as a funny drunk, but he was struggling to imagine her drunk in the first place.
“I could slap you with a massive blinking fine for that which would make the license look cheap.” Scorpius muttered.
Why on earth did he have to end up dealing with the one single Weasley girl who seemed to have a total disregard for rules and the law? She was Percy-freaking-stickler-for-regulations-Weasley’s youngest daughter. How had he created this little monster? Every other Weasley he knew were good and proper law-abiding citizens. Even if some were prone to pranks and an absurd level of inventiveness. A decent amount of them were in the auror department in some form or another. For goodness sake, wasn’t her younger brother currently close to graduating from auror training?
“That would be stupid. I’m providing a public service. Cheaper wolfsbane means that the average werewolf can actually afford it, use it, and therefore more people stay safe at night. I’ve heard werewolf attacks are a messy business for the auror department. You should thank me really.” Lucy said, her voice back to the coldness.
She wasn’t looking at him anymore either. As though her composed disinterest had slid back into place. Scorpius figured he should probably not have mentioned the possibility of fining her.
“How long do you think they’ll take upstairs? I need to water the plants.” Lucy said.
Scorpius shook his head. “Lucy, your shop is a crime scene. A murder scene. We’ll probably want to tape it off for at least a few days.”
“You’re going to let my plants die?”
Though she kept her voice calm, he could hear the strain in it, and she couldn’t hide the stricken look in her eyes. So Lucy Weasley did care about something. Her plants. He wasn’t quite sure what to make of that. She seemed more upset at the idea of her plants dying of thirst than her shop burning downstairs, and surely the antiques were far more valuable.
“I won’t let them die.” He promised.
They stood in silence for a while. Silence with which Lucy seemed completely comfortable. Silence however that chafed at Scorpius like an ill-fitting collar. He wanted answers. Answers which he felt he was perilously few of on this case.
“What’s the significance of the rope?” He asked suddenly.
“Pardon me?” Lucy inquired, startled out of her own thoughts.
“The rope. The other staged weapons had some kind interesting background story. Does the rope? Or is our murderer losing his touch?”
“It is supposedly the rope used to hang Garold the Grusome, a wizard who committed several awful murders in the late medieval era. He was supposedly hanged with the same rope three times in three different cities before a young witch layered it with charms all aimed to stop him from manipulating the rope in any way. The charms also caused the rope to choke him to death before they even hung him the fourth time. Not sure how much of the stories are true, but it is definitely from the late medieval era and is layered in several charms, one of them the one that keeps it like new.”
“You sell things like that?!” Scorpius asked incredulously, though he supposed that it was a stupid question considering the flying carpets and unlicensed wolfsbane and Merlin knows what else. He was struggling to figure out where Lucy Weasley’s borders between black and grey were.
“I keep it in the back for special interest costumers.” Lucy replied with a shrug, tugging at the hem of the fluffy purple blanket.
“Special interest customers?”
“Most antiquities collectors collect within certain confines, categories or themes. Such as the former Miss Yelena Rosier’s interest in non-charmed dinnerware. I have a costumer who is particularly interested in instruments of historical murder, one who is particularly interested in objects linked to martyrs and one who collects artefacts relating to political executions. Either of them would have had a potential interest in that rope for all it looks like nothing.”
Scorpius was busy wondering how on earth she found these ‘special interest’ customers and how she obviously kept track of them in her head.
“And you? What attracts you to all these things?” He asked curiously.
“Their stories. The idea that so many stories can be contained within one object fascinates me. Not really the objects themselves. Rather the fact that something so mundane can have such stories embedded to tell. Which is probably why I don’t earn better money on it. I only buy the antiques with stories. The others bore me. No matter how pretty. I’m in it for the stories.”
Scorpius mulled over her words, watching her with badly disguised interest which she found unnerving, though she didn’t let it show. This time Scorpius seemed comfortable with the silence and it was Lucy that struggled to suppress the urge to fidget.
Gustav stuck his head in round the doorframe, still clutching his camera.
“Potter says Milly’s come back early from Azkaban and suggests you take Weasley back to the department and get her to look over the candlestick and dagger in person with Milly. He wants you to get Albus to look at the corpse.”
Scorpius nodded and extended his arm to Lucy with a flourish. She took it, navigating her hand around the fluffy purple blanket, and they apparated back to the auror department.
Scorpius sat on a stool in the morgue with a quizzical look on his face, eyebrows drawn together, while Albus examined the corpse of Walden McNair with drawn pinched features and a scowl. Typically Scorpius would demand he examine a corpse every now and again, perhaps once every other month. He was cursing Scorpius for this particular affair which was definitely using up his personal annual quota of interaction with dead people. It was making him more irritable than normal.
“Do the whole Weasley-clan just turn a blind eye to Lucy Weasley’s quasi-illegal dealings?” Scorpius asked.
“I suppose we trust her to not do anything stupidly illegal. And she’s sensible enough that she never mentions it.” Albus said quietly shrugging his shoulders. “Its quenwood and tea. Just like the others. Killed not all that long before he was ‘staged’ in Lucy’s shop mind you.”
“Does Percy Weasley know?”
“About the quenwood?” Albus asked confused as he started to clean up.
“No, about Lucy’s little grey area.”
“Of course not. In fact he believes of his three children she’s the best off, because at least she owns her own business. He’s still upset none of them work at the ministry despite his best efforts.”
Scorpius nodded thoughtfully, not really paying much attention to the large ugly bulk of Walden NcNair.
Tori walked in, her heels clacking on the stone tiled floor. “Milly Brandon’s out there saying she wants you up in your office as soon as possible.” She said, helping Albus pack away the body again in its body bag.
“Fine. Come on Albus.” Scorpius said, getting off his stool and tapping his foot impatiently and Albus finished up with Tori.
Albus scowled. “Healer. Not an auror, remember?”
“Does it matter? Anyway, Lucy still has your blanket.”
“Playing cards?” Scorpius asked, looking at the three evidence bags. One from each murder scene. “I thought you were supposed to be looking at candlesticks and daggers?”
“We did. Their in the same condition that Lucy sold them in. The playing cards are much more interesting. It doesn’t seem important does it, except all three bodies have exactly three cards in their pockets. It’s only obvious as a pattern now that we have three murders. Looks like their from the same deck. But apart from that they don’t seem important at all. Except Lucy noticed something odd about them.”
Scorpius looked up into Lucy’s large brown eyes expectantly. She was still wearing the ridiculous large fluffy purple blanket wrapped around her shoulders like some absurd royal cloak.
“They’re enchanted. A glamour charm.” Lucy said with calm efficiency. “You can see it here at the corners. Glamour charms always have a slight difficulty attaching themselves properly to corners. This dis-colourisation here is actually the real card underneath.”
Milly looked at her with glee.
“Isn’t it brilliant? Lucy, if I wasn’t straight, I’d kiss you. Scorpius will have to do it for me thought. I’m sure he’s a better snog then me anyway.”
Scorpius struggled to reign in the blush that threatened to turn his face into a beetroot. He would not blush like a silly schoolboy in front of Lucy-freaking-Weasley.
“I’d prefer if Scorpius not kiss any of my cousins.” Albus said with a look of mild disgust on his face.
Milly rolled her eyes and grinned. “Who else is he supposed to end up with? He’s always hanging around you Potter-Granger-Weasley’s.”
That was not a line of questions that Scorpius wanted to descend down today.
“Call a cursebreaker in Milly. We can’t afford to lose the evidence. If someone cared enough to hide the real card, there must be some meaning behind it.”
“My sister is a cursebreaker.” Lucy piped up, still studying the corners of the cards intently.
“Of course she is. Why don’t I just surround myself with more Potter-Granger-Weasley’s?”
“You love us really.” Albus chimed in, and Scorpius glared at him, successfully imparting to him his deep desire to shove his head down a toilet.
Albus merely smirked. The Malfoy smirk that he had perfected while they were both in school. Scorpius was beginning to think that it had been rather sensible of his parents to never indulge his desires for younger siblings. Imagine if he had to cope with more than just Albus and Lily Potter.
Molly Weasley did indeed turn out to be a professional cursebreaker from Bill Weasley’s team which were typically consulted for auror cases when necessary. She asked minimal questions and was efficient. Scorpius couldn’t help but watch her for similarities with Lucy. Only marginally taller then her younger sister. Longer hair. Same unruly curls, but tamed by the weight of the length. Same calm composed efficiency. But while Lucy was cold, Molly was warm. Interesting.
Most importantly however was that she left an interesting set of cards in her wake.
In Fitz Rosier’s pocket: A card with a ballroom, a card with a dagger, and a card with a character called Mrs Peacock.
In Amycus Carrow’s pocket: A card with a kitchen, a card with a candlestick, and a card with a character called Professor Plum.
In Walden McNair’s pocket: A card with a conservatory, a card with a rope, and a card with a character called Miss Scarlet.
“It’s cluedo! It’s a massive game of cluedo!” Milly exclaimed in excitement, leaping up onto her feet and narrowly missing elbowing Scorpius in the face.
“What the heck is cluedo?” Scorpius demanded, moving out of the reach of Milly’s limbs and looking at the cards thoughtfully.
“A muggle board-game. My brothers and I would play it all the time.”
“You’re telling me these murders are based off a freaking muggle board-game?” Scorpius asked.
“Pretty much.” Milly replied with a shrug.
“That is sick.”
“But it also means we know the clues and the rules of the game. Come on, we’ll do research.” Milly said gleefully, bounding out of their office, already demanding quill, parchment and an owl from Lily Potter.
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