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!”
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