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14 August, 2006 – early afternoon

"I am not doing it."

Potter stood before their desks, arms crossed before his chest, looking formidable and furious in red Auror robes. Draco hadn't even had a chance to explain why he had not come in earlier, or address the issue of Potter having ruined his Sunday morning fuck. He had walked into their office, still trying to figure out Father's machinations, and had found Potter fuming. He was as angry as Draco had suspected but for an entirely different reason.

A slim file was lying on Harry's desk, starkly black, ornamented with cobwebs and broad orange stripes. A murder case (black), murder with the use of magic (orange stripes). A dust case, obviously, or it wouldn't have landed on Potter's desk in the Cold Case Division.

"What is it?" Draco reached for the file.

Igor Karkaroff. The official red Ministry brand that said 'closed' was crossed out and restamped 're-opened' in capital letters. "Karkaroff... How can that case be reopened? Karkaroff was a traitor. He was killed by the men he betrayed. The men who were sent to Azkaban because of his testimony."

Rosier, Mulciber, Dolohov. Nott. Eight years since the end of the war and Draco still knew their faces as if they had been gathering in the Manor's drawing room only last night.

Potter snorted, and it was not a nice sound. "Well, I thought so, too. Turns out, they were convicted only on circumstantial evidence. Mulciber made a statement in his release interview. He claims they didn't do it."

Draco sat down at his desk and opened the file. The transcript of Mulciber's statement was on the first page, added to the file only a couple of days ago. He smelled a rat, some ploy by Dawlish to send Harry Potter on another wild-goose chase into the dusty past. And Unspeakable Malfoy right along with him. Then he saw the signature under the report. Williamson.

"Did you see that Williamson conducted the interview?"

"Yeah."

Potter's voice sounded so raw that Draco quickly looked up. Potter's eyes had that over-tired, bloodshot look, even worse than this morning. He was obviously running on nothing but caffeine and sugar. The right side of his desk was littered with newspapers – a copy of the same Sunday Prophet Mother had been reading at the Manor, the pages pulled apart and left in disarray. He should make Potter go home and sleep it off. Opal Leach would be as dead tomorrow as she was today.

"Yeah, I saw. It means nothing. He's Dawlish's man, too."

"True enough." Draco spoke carefully. Williamson was Muggle-born. The man had no interest in reopening cases when it meant that convicted Death Eaters might be acquitted of a murder charge. And while Williamson was loyal to Dawlish he was also a very good Auror. Paid attention to detail. If he thought this case warranted another investigation, there had to be something to it.

"Here." Potter stepped closer. He looked straight into Draco's face, a bit too directly, as if he was afraid to let his gaze drop lower, below Draco's chin.

Draco inwardly rolled his eyes. He reached for the purple piece of parchment Potter handed him. It was an unfolded interdepartmental memo. Auror Potter, here's your next case to 'dust off', it read.

"From Dawlish."

"Obviously." Draco crumpled the memo up and threw it into the bin where it joined two tall paper cups from the coffee shop. Definitely running only on caffeine, Potter was. He went back to the file and started to read. But after two paragraphs he stopped. Potter was hovering at the door to the potions lab. It was disconcerting, to have Harry Potter stare at one's back. "What is it, Potter?"

"About this morning..."

Ah, finally. This was bound to be interesting. Draco turned around, making the swivel chair creak. "What about it?" He spread his legs at least an inch wider than he usually would.

Potter didn't have a very pronounced Adam's apple but Draco saw him swallow hard.

"I am not apologising", he said, a stubborn tilt to his jaw. "Not for walking in on the two of you. Anybody could have come through your fireplace at ten on a Sunday morning."

The git. Draco was sorely tempted to push his hips forward, just to make Potter even more uncomfortable. Tiny sparks of lust were tingling in his groin, and Merlin, just thinking about Potter all abash in front of the fireplace made him hard again. "So what then, about this morning? When I will not get an apology from you."

"I do apologise. For... well, running off like I did."

Potter's cheeks had a bright pink tinge to them. It contrasted oddly with the tiredness in his eyes. Before the faded grey of the door, Potter's hair seemed to be the colour of the dark blue night sky over Wiltshire. Which was the oddest thought, really. Potter's hair was a mess, a rat's nest, no matter how short he had it cut these days. Draco should not think about bluish highlights that their office's old-fashioned lighting brought out in the tangled strands.

"Why did you run away then?" he asked. "Never seen a circumcised cock?" Really, Draco couldn't help asking.

Potter snorted. "You were not the only roundhead at Hogwarts, Malfoy. Ron had a habit of walking naked to the loo. Before and after his morning wank in the shower. Believe me, I've seen circumcised cock in all its clipped glory."

"I knew you were ogling boys at Hogwarts. But Weasley? Honestly, don't you have any taste in men?"

"I think I do."

If Draco was not mistaken, there was a mischievous glint in Potter's eyes. Not only hiding in the Golden Hind then to merely escape the adoring female gold diggers. "So have you done it? Ever slept with a man?"

Potter gave a low rumbling laugh. "You're awfully curious, Malfoy, for a Sunday afternoon."

"Did you?"

"I may have had a man suck me of."

"And did you return the favour?" A blowjob between mates was not unusual, not at Hogwarts or any of the other wizarding boarding schools. But it was mostly the boys who did the sucking who turned out to be gay.

"That, too."

Muggles. Potter must haven taken his sex life to the Muggle world, or Draco would have heard about it. Interesting... Witch Weekly certainly would love to run an article about the secret love life of their Golden Bachelor.

"And that information is strictly between you and me, Malfoy."

Draco smirked at Potter. "Of course." He turned to the file, making the swivel chair squeak again. Transcript of the trial on 16 December 1998; autopsy report of Karkaroff's body, a blurry picture of the shack where the body had been found, near a village up north named Goathland; reports of the statements given by the accused; testimonies of Muggles who had been questioned by the Aurors under pretence of a Muggle police investigation. The sentence was passed on circumstantial evidence: Rosier, Mulciber, Dolohov and Nott were known to act as a group. A Muggle had seen a group of four men stand in the field behind the shack. Neither of the men had an alibi for the time of death, and there was evidence that tied Dolohov to the scene of the crime. The others had been identified conclusively by a Muggle witness.

A mug shot of Theo's father was attached with a Sticking Charm to his statement. Mr Nott looked frail, his sunken cheeks unshaven and his eyes glancing to the left over and over again. Draco wondered who had sat there seven years ago. "Potter..."

Potter came nearer and looked over his shoulder. He smelled of coffee, sweat and tiredness, with traces of his spicy eau de cologne filling Draco's nose.

"What?"

"Why did you run away? This morning in my flat?" Draco flipped over another page. Antonin Dolohov's statement. Potter leaned in closer and Draco turned his head.

Potter stared at the mug shot where Dolohov kept raising his fist in front of his face, up and up, again and again. Draco wondered what memories Potter had of Dolohov. He himself remembered all too well the twisted face and his signature spell – purple fire slashing through helpless Muggles in the Manor's dungeons. Draco had felt nothing but relief when he'd heard that Dolohov had been sentenced to Azkaban for life.

"I... well, I had not expected to find you... you know... with Benjy." Potter turned another page. Mulciber's statement from November 1998.

Draco skimmed the pages, looking for inconsistencies, contradicting details, anything. He didn't find nothing. Williamson had done his job. There were no conflicting statements from the accused. They all had pleaded not guilty. "And seeing me with Benjy made you run away?"

"I didn't know you are together. Like this, I mean."

"Together like what, Potter?"

"Together like, he stays with you at your place on the weekends."

"Well, he is my boyfriend." Draco said, feeling perhaps a bit too smug about it. Boyfriend was a big word for what Benjy Williams was to him. Boy toy would be closer to the truth. But Potter didn't need to know this. Not when he seemed so deliciously annoyed about Benjy's presence in Draco's flat.

"More your boy toy, I thought," Potter said without even a glance at Draco. He kept pouring over the bloody file.

"He doesn't just suck me off behind some Muggle bar, if that's what you mean."

Potter cringed. A reaction, at least. "Sorry, Malfoy, my apologies. I didn't mean to imply you're –"

"All right, all right." Merlin, something about Potter was driving Draco up the wall. He pushed the file in his direction. "Let's concentrate on this and see what mess Dawlish is trying to get us into."

Potter righted his body and walked to the door. "I know what Dawlish wants. He wants headlines that say Harry Potter is chasing ghosts, Death Eater ghosts, at a time when witches and wizards are killed. But I'm not doing it."

Someone had put a straight backed wooden chair beside the door, for visitors, presumably. As if anybody would visit them back here where dust and spider webs gathered in the corners. And yet Potter pulled the chair close and sat on its edge, his body leaning forward eagerly, towards the file. Not for the first time Draco thought that Potter was a born Auror, heart and soul.

"Right." He sat back and watched Potter read.

"Mulciber denies he was anywhere near the shack when Karkaroff was killed."

Draco nodded. "They were tried on circumstantial evidence only."

Potter turned to the next statement. It was by Greatuncle Caligula. Draco glanced to the bottom of page and found the silvery stamp saying deceased. He sighed inwardly. His family was a den of murderers and lunatics. Hopefully Potter did not know Draco was rather closely related to Caligula Rosier. The image of Briggs stepping out of the lift flashed through his mind. What in Merlin's name was father up to?

Potter pointed at the stamp. "Rosier died four years ago, it says here."

"He was a very old man. I... I never saw him in the Manor. The Dark Lord had never forgiven him for deserting him after he had to go into hiding."

Draco's tone of voice, deliberately casual, must have given him away, for Potter quickly turned to him.

"Could he have been the one who killed Karkaroff?" All signs of exhaustion had disappeared from Potter's face, only his eyes seemed less bright than on other days. "Rosier was part of your family on the Black side, wasn't he? "

Salazar... How in Merlin's name had Potter suddenly become an expert on pureblood genealogy? "Greatuncle," Draco muttered, then said more loudly, "Even if he did kill Karkaroff, there is no substantive evidence."

Potter pointed at a few squiggly notes, written with green ink underneath the official statement. "No Veritaserum used for the interrogation", he read aloud. "Someone did a piss-poor job of gathering substantive evidence." He leaved through the remaining pages, leaning a bit to the side so Draco could read as well.

The file consisted of no more than perhaps twenty pages. One had the results of a Prior Incantato performed on Dolohov's wand. He had cast a Morsmordre above the shack. But he apparently had not killed Igor Karkaroff. The Prior Incantato had revealed any number of Dark spells recently performed but no Avada Kedavra. But what if... "Go back to the autopsy report."

"What do you want..." Potter did not finish what he'd meant to ask but went back to the beginning of the file.

There it was, the report of the post mortem of Karkaroff's body printed on bright yellow parchment, signed by a mediwizard Draco did not know. Barnes' predecessor, or someone from St Mungo's.

"Cause of death: asphyxiation through manual strangulation, accomplished by applying continuous pressure to the windpipe for approximately 3 to 5 minutes." Draco was reminded of Jacob Wilfing and Weasley's insistence that the wizard had not hung himself.

"Karkaroff was strangled," Potter said, surprise in his voice. "By someone using his bare hands."

Draco must have unconsciously leaned closer towards the file, at the same time that Potter brought his bespectacled eyes nearer to the page. They were so close, he could feel the warmth of the man beside him.

"No magic," Potter said slowly.

Draco traced the orange stripe on the thick black parchment. "The case has been misfiled. There was no magic used in the murder of Igor Karkaroff. It doesn't make sense, Potter. Dolohov was an expert on the Adava Kedavra." Draco had seen him kill the Muggles after he'd slashed their bodies open with his purple fire spell. "Why would any of them strangle Karkaroff? With their hands, too?"

Potter blinked, then he rose abruptly. The chair scraped across the floor. "I'm going over to Ron. He and Robards have been re-examining Wilfing's body. Maybe they discovered something that helps us find whoever abducted and killed Opal Leach." The exhaustion was back in Potter's shoulder, in the corners of his mouth, and in his eyes.

Draco rose, as well. "I want to do this. I want to find out who really killed Karkaroff."

Potter looked at him, really looked at him for the first time since Draco had come into their office today. "I thought you might."

His voice was calm and cool, devoid of emotion; he stood upright, arms hanging loosely at his sides. So different from the blushing man who'd stumbled out of Draco's fireplace this morning. And Draco knew what Potter didn't say. I thought you might want to clear some Death Eater's name.

"It's not what you think, Potter."

"Isn't it?"

"You remember Nott. Theo. Theodore Nott?"

"Sure. Tall, thin guy. Slytherin. Pureblood." Potter's voice was laced with disdain.

Draco let it pass. "He... well, he hasn't been well since the war." Two suicide attempts, but Potter didn't need to know that. "He's been in and out of St Mungo's."

"So?"

"It would mean a lot to him if his father was released from Azkaban." There. He said it. It had been on his mind since he saw Mr Nott's mug shot.

Potter blinked again. It had to be his exhaustion showing. "He will never be released. Even if we find out he wasn't the one responsible for Karkaroff's death. He has been a loyal Death Eater in both wizarding wars. He's shown no remorse, Malfoy. I know Nott's father. He was in the Department of Mysteries when your father tried to steal the prophecy." He swallowed. "He was there when your aunt killed Sirius, Malfoy."

They could never be friends, never. The past was always lurking just around the corner, waiting for them in those dust cases, hidden underneath all the good-natured banter, the flirting even. Draco only noticed he was biting his lip when he tasted blood. "It would mean a lot to Theo. Just to hear some good news about his father." It was a helpless plea, and Draco knew it.

Again, Potter blinked. And swallowed. And, oddly, blushed. "Ron is waiting for me," he said.

"I am going up to Goathland tomorrow," Draco blurted out. "I want to at least look at the shack. Maybe I find something."

Potter turned to open the door without a word.

"Are you coming with me?"

Potter stood for a moment, his back framed by the dark hallway. "I'll see you tomorrow, Malfoy," he said and was gone.

*


15 August, 2006 - a Monday

Potter was already in the Portkey Office when Draco got there three minutes to eight. He held a much-thumbed stack of cards in his hands, tied together with a piece of string. Potter was wearing Muggle clothes and he couldn't possibly have combed his hair this morning. But he looked relaxed and chipper as if he had a good night's sleep, something Draco could not claim for himself.

"Portkey to Goathland," Potter said. "We are scheduled to depart in two minutes."

"I'm glad I made it in time then," Draco replied.

"I knew you'd come."

"I didn't think you'd come."

Potter shrugged. "I am not doing this for Nott." He shoved the stack of cards against Draco's chest.

Draco got a hold of Potter's arm and drew him closer. "Why are you doing it then?" he asked, putting his left hand on the cards.

The Portkey Office vanished, the Ministry's polished floor disappeared below their feet. Draco felt the familiar forceful jerk behind his navel, and he instinctively held on tighter to both Potter and the stack of cards between them. They were propelled forward in a whirlwind of greens and blues and a rushing wind smelling of Potter and bee's wax and fresh hay. Draco's feet hit the ground hard, his knees buckled and he was pushed against Potter. The world came to a halt.

"Somewhere out there a murderer got away." Potter's voice was very close to Draco's ear. "He killed an ex-Death Eater, but that doesn't make it right."

So typical. Draco felt himself bristle at the righteousness in Potter's tone. "Don't ever forget that I'm an ex-Death Eater, too."

Potter stepped backwards, away from Draco, the stack of cards still in his hands. Draco might have imagined it but he thought Potter's eyes moved to his left arm, to the faded Dark Mark hidden underneath the sleeve of his cloak.

"I never forget, Malfoy. That's what this is about."

Draco stared at him, then shook his head. Potter really was unbelievable. Still, Draco could not help smiling. He quickly turned away to look where the Portkey had landed them.

The shack where Karkaroff had been killed turned out to be a small hunter's lodge. Four magnificent deer antlers had been mounted to one wall and furs of wild boars covered the floor. The lodge was Muggle, for all Draco could tell. There was Muggle dish soap at the metal sink, and an old Muggle radio stood on a rickety table.

Potter already had his wand out and was searching the lodge. The windows were dusty. The fields surrounding the lodge lay golden and brown in the morning sunlight. A couple of brick houses were visible perhaps half a mile away.

Draco tried to imagine Igor Karkaroff sleeping in the bunk bed that stood in one corner. There was no sign that a wizard had ever been here. Or was there? Draco squinted at a small painting on the left side of the door. The dark frame showed a flower stand with a bouquet of wildflowers. A monocle was lying on the stand.

"Strange, isn't it?" Potter stood beside him.

"It seems... empty."

Potter raised his wand and said an incantation Draco had never heard. It had to be an Auror spell. Nothing happened. Still, Potter stood, listening intently. And then Draco heard it, too. A soft scratching from the wall behind the painting. A tiny tinkling sound from the cupboard.

"Permanent Sticking Charm," Potter said, pointing at the painting. "And this..." He walked to the cupboard, listened again, then opened one of the drawers. The tinkling became louder, and Potter took a spoon from the drawer, a small silver teaspoon. Draco could see that it vibrated in Potter's hand. "This spoon was used for magic. A long time ago."

"Ten years ago, perhaps?" Karkaroff had been killed in 1996, during the summer.

Potter nodded. "Ten years sounds about right."

"Nifty spell."

"It's one that Æthelbert Farrell developed." Potter's lips twitched. "It works well in small, confined spaces. We are lucky this is just a shack and not a house."

"If you show me the spell, I may be able to improve on Farrell's work."

Potter grinned at Draco. "I am sure you can. Improve on Farrell's work, I mean."

"Does it tell you what kind of magic the spoon was used for?"

"No. It just indicates traces of magic. Nothing more."

"I may be able to improve on that as well."

Another grin. Potter, Draco couldn't help thinking, had a very catching grin.

"What do you think about the painting?" Potter asked.

"It's a portrait. But whose I have no idea."

*


15 August, 2006 - a bit later

The stack of cards, it turned out, was a fancy two-way Portkey – spelled with not one but two Portus Charms. It was sitting on the desk beside the radio. They simply had to touch the bottom of it and the Portkey would transport them back to the Ministry.

Potter had used every advanced spellwork taught at the DMLE; Draco had added his own set of secret Unspeakable spells. They had found nothing. The shack had been used by Muggles, but certainly not in the last year. There was the empty portrait and the silver spoon, yet no other trace of magic.

Draco found out one interesting bit: Potter had a thing for vases. Or something. When they searched the kitchen, Draco saw him take a small vase from the shelf and slip it surreptitiously into his pocket. It was a pretty vase, made from blue glass, but nothing expensive or special. Apparently the Saviour of the wizarding world was not above nicking pretty things.

"Let's go back," Draco finally said. If he had the silver spoon in his potions lab, he might be able to detect what it had been used for.

Potter slid his wand in the back pocket of his trousers, and they both reached for the stack of cards.

"Gentlemen," a voice said behind them. "One minute of your precious time, if you don't mind."

Draco jumped so hard his knee painfully hit the table's edge. Potter grabbed him by front of his cloak. They both turned around at the same time and almost tripped over their own feet.

"Salazar!"

"What the bloody fuck!"

A square-jawed witch with closely cropped grey hair smiled at them from the portrait. She stood beside the flower stand, and Draco noticed the monocle was now fixed to her right eye.

"Amelia Bones," Potter whispered.

Draco involuntarily took a step back. He remembered vividly the news of Amelia Bones' death. Father had been tried before the Wizengamot, he had just been thrown into Azkaban. And Draco had had been so angry, so furious about how the Malfoy name and family was slandered by the wizarding world. He had joined the Death Eaters this summer, mere days after Lord Voldemort had killed Amelia Bones. He had been so proud then. And so afraid.

"I am pleased somebody is checking into the death of poor Igor," the portrait of Amelia Bones said. "It's an honour to meet you again, Harry. Mr Potter, I should say. Kingsley tells me you will be Head Auror in a couple of years. We will be seeing more of each other then. " She smiled at Potter, then turned her monocled eye to Draco. "Mr Malfoy, what a surprise. How very strange to see the two of you working together. A fascinating story, I am sure. You will tell me, Harry, one day. But now..."

They must have stared at her, for Bones adjusted her monocle.

"Er..." Potter was stumbling over words again. A red flush was spreading from his neck to his cheeks. And what a fine Head Auror he would make. It was all rather adorable.

"Mrs Bones," Draco said, turning from Potter to the portrait of Amelia Bones. "Can you tell us anything about who murdered Igor Karkaroff?"

*


15 August, 2006 - early afternoon

The shack up north near Goathland, Amelia Bones told them, had been used as a safehouse for the Auror Department during the war. When Igor Karkaroff asked the Wizengamot for protection after Voldemort's return, the DMLE had offered him the shack as a hiding place. Only, Karkaroff had not been safe in the shack. Someone, Bones said, had betrayed their secret. I don't know who; I have no idea. Only the Minister for Magic and myself knew about the safehouse. And Fudge, for all his weaknesses, was no traitor.

But she could tell them the secret of the silver spoon. Karkaroff's Portkey, of course, she said, her right eye twinkling beneath the monocle.

Now they were back at the Portkey Office, searching the records for Portkeys to and from Goathland in the summer of 1996.

It had been Potter's idea. And it was rather brilliant, Draco had to admit. They had already found the Portkey that must have transported Dolohov, Mulciber, Rosier and Nott to Goathland. Two Portkeys actually, one for the journey up north, the other for the journey back.

Potter knew the employee working at the Portkey Office, a big bald bloke named Basil, no last name given. He was wearing a kilt with a plaid pattern of overly bright turquoise and shrill lemony greens. Draco had to squint to not be blinded by the colours. Potter kept complimenting Basil on his dashing choice of attire.

They were pouring over a large, leather-bound tome that had all authorised Portkeys listed since the beginning of the twentieth century. Basil had shown them six more such tomes that listed all the Portkeys issues since the invention of the Portus Charm by an unknown wizard or witch back in the 13th century.

Karkaroff's dead body had been found on 31 July, 1996. It had been a comfortably warm July, and – according to the autopsy report – putrefaction had already set in when the body was discovered.

According to Basil's records, the four Death Eaters had been in Goathland on July 29. When they believed Mulciber's statement from the release interview, Karkaroff had already been dead by then.

"There's only six more Portkey issued in July," Draco said. "And none of them for Goathland."

"And Amelia Bones said she had received an Owl from Karkaroff on July 7, three days before Voldemort killed her."

Draco nodded, staring at the neat letters, written in blue ink. Date of issue, date of travel, charmed object, destination. The ledger did not say who was travelling by Portkey, only whether the Portkey had been used or not.

He glanced at the previous month and inadvertently looked for his birthday, June 5. Someone had used a Portkey on that day, to travel to Scalloway on the Shetland islands. The charmed object had been a book, Wilbert Slinkhard's Occlumentia, a book on medieval methods of Occlumency. It was very hard to find, and Draco only knew the book because Algernon... He sat up. Occlumentia? But...

"Basil, one question."

Potter looked up. "Did you find something?"

"Maybe." This probably had nothing to do with the death of Igor Karkaroff, but it was the oddest coincidence. "Basil, do you remember who used this Portkey. This one?" Draco pointed at the line where it said in blue letters: 'Charmed Object: Wilbert Slinkhard's Occlumentia'.

"Oh." Basil took a deep breath. "That one – that was a mistake."

"A mistake? So the book was never used as a Portkey?"

"No, it was used. That was the mistake. See..." Basil walked into a corner of the Portkey Office and brought out a box filled with broken things – cracked plates and cups, a pan without a handle, rusty cutlery, pieces of cloth, bits of cheap jewellery. Draco even saw a broken Snitch that fluttered weakly amidst the rubbish. "This is what we use for the Portkeys. We charm 'em, set the travel date, and then they are ready to go."

"And this book – someone had left it in a box of rubbish?"

Basil slowly shook his bald head. "Not... exactly. See, sometimes we call on an Unspeakable to charm a Portkey. The two-way ones. The magic is a bit too advanced for me – never was any good at Charms. So back then we had this young Unspeakable come for the advanced Portus. Nice bloke. You probably know him, Mr Malfoy. He's still working for the Department of Mysteries."

"Algernon Dorny," Draco said.

"Yeah, that's the one." Basil flashed a toothy grin at Draco. "Only you know, Dorny is not his real name. Rookwood, he used to be called back then. Like his father." He nodded. "He changed his name after... you know, everything that happened. In the war."

Potter was looking from the tome to Basil to Draco. "Augustus Rookwood?" he asked. There was a glint in his eyes now but no sign of mischief. This was Potter the Auror following a lead that had just turned hot like burning.

Augustus Rookwood, Unspeakable, Death Eater, the Dark Lord's spy in the Department of Mysteries. When Karkaroff made his deal with the Ministry, he had presented Rookwood's name, and Rookwood had been tried and sent to Azkaban. Fifteen years on the Rock. Because of the Russian. Draco seemed to remember that Mrs Rookwood had killed herself shortly after her husband had been locked away. He didn't know Algernon Dorny well, but Draco knew one thing about him: he hated Death Eaters.

Basil nodded vigorously. "That's the one."

"And this Algernon – he is his son?"

"He is. He doesn't like to have it shouted from the rooftops, but yes, he is Augustus Rookwood's son." Basil seemed to realise something was wrong. His voice had lost his friendly cockiness, and he stepped backwards to bring more distance between Potter and him.

"Who," Potter asked slowly, "charmed the Portkey that Igor Karkaroff used to travel to Goathland?"

Basil swallowed. "Well, Algernon, of course. As I said, he was doing all the spellwork for the advanced Portkeys."

Draco already started to turn the heavy pages. "Karkaroff went into hiding after the Triwizard Tournament. When was the last task, Potter?"

"June 24." Potter did not even have to think. His face was a mask, eyes unmoving, lips pressed into a tight line. Cedric Diggory.

The entries were written just as neatly as the one from 1996, only the colour of the ink had been changed to a dark green. Draco scanned the list of authorised Portkeys.

"There," he said, pointing towards an entry from the middle of July. Date of issue: 27 June 1995, date of travel: 4 July 1995, charmed object: silver spoon, destination: Goathland up in the north.

"Algernon left his book here, you see. Forgot it," Basil said, using his large hands to tell his tale. "It must have got in the bin, and well, it's an old book and I didn't think twice about using it for a Portkey. I Portused it and the witch took it. Travelled to Scalloway to visit her brother. It was a normal Portkey. One-way, I mean." He ducked his head as if to apologise. "I tried to get the book back, I honestly tried. But you know how it is with Portkeys. Once used, they're just rubbish. Algernon was pretty upset, though. It is a very expensive book, isn't it, Mr Malfoy?"

"A very rare book. To my knowledge, only three copies exist. One is at Hogwarts, one my father owns, and the third belonged to Algernon. We talked about it a couple of years ago." Draco was watching Potter cast a Patronus. A silver stag was prancing up and down the Portkey Office.

"Ron, I need a couple of Aurors for an imminent arrest. We meet before the Department of Mysteries in two minutes." Potter spoke more clearly to the stag than Draco had ever heard him speak. Then he turned to Draco. "You're coming?"

*


15 August, 2006 - late afternoon

Algernon Dorny, who used to be Algernon Rookwood, sat in the Ministry's holding cell. They had a full confession. He had strangled Karkaroff, with his bare hands, short weeks after the death of Amelia Bones. An act of revenge, on first glance, but underneath there was so much more: A fifteen year old boy whose father had gone from being an esteemed Unspeakable to an inmate of Azkaban. A seventeen year old boy whose mother had killed herself because she could no longer bear the shame. A young man who had to hide his name to be able to get a job and a life in the post-war wizarding world. Revenge, they said, was a dish best eaten cold. The man who had so violently strangled Igor Karkaroff was a bitter man, a man who had let the past rule his entire life.

Potter said, "He reminds me of you. And then again, not at all."

Draco felt oddly lucky that his father was alive. They brought out the Firewhiskey and declared another cold case done and dusted. Weasley joined them, and even Williamson stopped by when he heard the news of the arrest.

That good feeling lasted only for an hour or so. Then Granger came to tell them what had happened in the Wizengamot this morning. There had been a heated debate about the Helena Malfoy trial. Helena had come with a lawyer (Briggs, Draco was sure of it) and claimed that she never admitted to killing anyone. The Muggle boy? She had loved him. Perhaps she'd been disturbed when Auror Potter and Unspeakable Malfoy had questioned her. Perhaps Auror Potter and Unspeakable Malfoy had heard what they wanted hear and not what Helena had really said.

In the end the trial had been cancelled; Helena had been acquitted of the murder charge. Granger said she'd seen her and the lawyer leave the Atrium a couple of hours ago.

Potter was furious. Ever since Draco had seen Briggs in the Ministry, he had had an inkling something like this would be coming. He did not tell Potter but Potter was not dumb.

"You and me know pretty well that this woman was not lying to us, Malfoy. There is only one reason why half the Wizengamot was now so happily inclined to believe Helena's story. That lawyer was bought with Malfoy money, and I bet Malfoy Galleons were trickling into the pockets of some select members of the Wizengamot, as well."

After they'd screamed at each other for long minutes, Draco was back to hating Potter, the self-righteous prick. "That may well be the case. But you know, Potter, Galleons just don't trickle. Corruption is a two-way business: it needs someone handing over Galleons as much as someone taking them. Maybe your great reformed Ministry is still not all that it's cracked up to be."

He stormed out of their office, wanting nothing but fuck Benjy into the mattress all night long. Bloody stupid Harry Potter.

*


15 August, 2006 - just before midnight

Benjy Williams sat on the low stone wall beside the Leaky Cauldron. It was so dark he could barely make out the shapes of the garbage bins lined up at the side of the building. A cat meowed a couple of yards away, up front on Diagon Alley a few late-night patrons walked drunkenly down the street.

It was a perfect night.

Mundungus Fletcher Disapparated half an hour late, as usual, but even this could not put a damper on Benjy's good mood. He kicked one of the garbage bins so the crack of Apparition was drowned in the clatter of the bins and the wild screaming of the cats. A couple of rats scattered.

When Mundungus handed Benjy the small sack of Galleons, the moonlight caught on a ring on his finger. Benjy had never seen the ring before, but he recognised the Malfoy crest at once. The crest was everywhere in Draco's flat, a black ornate M. He wondered where Mundungus might have got such a precious piece of jewellery.

But then he got distracted and forgot about the ring. They had much more important business to discuss: the results of next weekend's Quidditch games. Benjy felt a small sting, because next weekend Puddlemere United was going down. It would not be nice to be on the loosing team. But then he weighed the sack of Galleons in his hand. It was more than enough to make up for a bit of 'bad luck' on the Quidditch pitch.

When Benjy Williams walked down Diagon to finally get some sleep, he came by the office of the Daily Prophet. In the display window tomorrow's headlines screamed in bright red and stark black letters: OPAL LEACH DEAD BY TORTUREwhile HARRY POTTER hunts ghosts of the past!

* * *



CONTINUES WITH EPISODE #4

Date: 2013-09-28 11:47 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] serilla.livejournal.com
So the mystery deepens - wonder if Draco knows about Benjy and Mundungus? Looking forward to more soon. :)

Date: 2013-09-28 01:50 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] helenadax.livejournal.com
Great! I couldn't read this chapter last Saturday because something was wrong, the ending was cut.

The relationship between Draco and Harry was very realistic, I mean, their pasts are so different,...But there's some attraction too, and respect. Well done.

Date: 2013-09-28 04:00 pm (UTC)
eidheann_writes: (Default)
From: [personal profile] eidheann_writes
!!

So much! Gah! *flail*

Date: 2013-09-28 05:45 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] khalulu.livejournal.com
Continues to be very intriguing, and the after-efects of the war on families and relationships is well-drawn. Some lovely bits of description, too - the Wiltshire-midnight-blue highlights in Harry's hair, and this: "They were propelled forward in a whirlwind of greens and blues and a rushing wind smelling of Potter and bee's wax and fresh hay."

Date: 2013-09-28 09:54 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] inulein.livejournal.com
A blue vase?
Homage or a hint on the author?
I let myself be surprised!
Great chapter, I feel things are starting to get interesting!r...

Date: 2013-09-30 09:51 pm (UTC)
ext_90630: (Default)
From: [identity profile] nonajf.livejournal.com
Draco's going to be really upset: Dung is up to something Malfoy-related (and he better not have nicked the ring because Lucius will extract vengeance) and Benjy is a crook.

Date: 2013-09-30 11:53 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] fantasyfiend09.livejournal.com
So exciting! I love how there are more and more players and the way they are related. I suspect Mung had a role in delivering the Malfoy Galleons to Wizengamot pockets. Harry and Draco will have to get more on Helena.

And who is fuelling the Prophet's need to deface Harry? Is it just wanting gossip, or is it part of Dawlish's plan? Interesting that Amelia thinks Harry will be Head Auror soon.

Date: 2013-10-01 02:02 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] dark0feenix.livejournal.com
It was good to see the ending for the episode though it feels like while one mystery is solved, a five new ones appear. :)

Date: 2013-10-02 07:21 pm (UTC)
nerakrose: drawing of balfour from havemercy (Default)
From: [personal profile] nerakrose
well done. interesting that they had to work on karkaroff's case, but even more so how they both reacted to it.

lol at harry flooing in on draco and benjy. XD i'd say it serves him right, but still. poor guy.

Date: 2013-10-03 12:00 pm (UTC)
capitu: (Default)
From: [personal profile] capitu
This was such a brilliant episode. I loved the tension between Harry and Draco, almost as much as I loved Draco's realisation they could never be friends. Of course I don't share this line of thought at all ;) but it was such a powerful moment.

And that ending! Wow!

The art was amazing, and the case super interesting!

Date: 2013-10-04 05:49 pm (UTC)
birdsofshore: (Default)
From: [personal profile] birdsofshore
Some lovely lines here:

Before the faded grey of the door, Potter's hair seemed to be the colour of the dark blue night sky over Wiltshire.

I thought this worked really well:

They could never be friends, never. The past was always lurking just around the corner, waiting for them in those dust cases, hidden underneath all the good-natured banter, the flirting even.

And the UST is ratcheting up nicely.

Why did Harry want the vase? Mysterious...

Very exciting ending! I look forward to finding out more!

Date: 2013-10-04 06:21 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] catsintheattic.livejournal.com
The H/D relationship in this episode was so well done - I liked how each of them tried to come closer to the other, but their past is still in the way. Very moving and convincing. ♥

Date: 2013-11-09 12:51 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] omi-ohmy.livejournal.com
The details of this world continue to delight me - the colour-coded files, and the huge cast if characters. I enjoyed the different PoVs - for some reason I always find Ron very refreshing. The little hints from each perspective work well with the mystery element. And I also enjoyed the UST - yummy!

Date: 2013-11-21 02:38 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] indyonblue.livejournal.com
I love the Harry/Draco relationship here - it's very realistic. They can get on, they work well together but there's always something from their past ready to trip them up.

I'm very intrigued by the mysteries and have some idea as to what might happen...