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Episode number and title: #5: The Curious Case of Scratchy Bottom
Episode writer: [livejournal.com profile] nerak_rose
Episode editor: [livejournal.com profile] inside_the_veil and [livejournal.com profile] mrs_jack_turner
Episode summary: In which Harry did not pick a case because of the location (even if he is still twelve), Malfoy turns out to be a valuable asset in interrogation (Harry absolutely did not snicker at the word asset) and there's pie. There is also a missing girl, a suspect brother and the possibility that a Scandinavian country is involved.


Tuesday
5th September, 2006
London, MoM


Harry had been sent down to The Fifth Room to find them a case - Malfoy's words, not his - and he didn't know where to begin. The room was massive and wasn't going to stop being massive just because he'd have liked a little less complexity. Or a little less feeling like he was going to drown in here.

He'd done the logical thing and picked a box off a shelf at random. He wasn't rifling, exactly, but there were a lot of cold cases to choose from, and he didn't feel it was particularly dignified to do an eenie meenie miny moe. It was stupid, because it wasn't really supposed to be a matter of the cases catching his eye, these were cases. Work.

He sighed, shaking himself out of the funk he was in - fucking Malfoy sending him down here - and decided to just pick a file, determined to get on with it. What difference did it make which case he picked, anyway?

It was then that his eye caught a file that looked different from the others, and he pulled it out of the box. Harry frowned as he looked at it; the case file was striped in several colours, giving it an air of not being able to make up its mind about what kind of case exactly it was supposed to be. He put the box back and took the case over to a nearby desk, then gave it a closer look.

It was a missing person's case, but slightly more complicated than it looked at first glance. The missing person was a Rosa Dubois, daughter of Emmelie Byrne, a Lulworth local, and Olivier Dubois of Moroccan citizenship. Rosa had vanished after the accident that killed her friend, Julienne Honeybourne, though the file indicated that Miss Dubois had been the prime suspect in Miss Honeybourne's murder case, until the murder had been declared an accident. This particular comment was circled and there was a question mark next to it, in different ink.

Miss Dubois' brother was listed as suspect in her vanishing case, but he'd been let go as no evidence could be held against him. That explained all the colours; no one quite knew how to classify this thing.

Harry re-read the file, eyebrows rising. Even if Julienne's demise had been declared an accident, there was still something fishy here - why the disappearance act, if Rosa was innocent? He tapped his pencil against his lips thoughtfully, eyeing Rosa's photograph. She looked an ordinary young woman, smiling at the camera, and Harry had a hard time believing her capable of murder.

Still, he'd seen what perfectly innocent looking people were capable of, so her sweet looks weren't going to affect him. It was a confusing file and Harry suspected that the case had been discarded prematurely - the most recent addition was dated November 19th, 1941, which was just when things had started to go pretty dark in both the wizarding and Muggle worlds.

He stared at the case for a fraction of a second and then started making notes of the people involved. When he could do no more down in The Fifth Room, he went upstairs to look up Marcus Dubois' current address. Harry was pretty pleased when he found it wasn't in a cemetery. It was always a risk with cases as old as these and particularly when three wars came between the past and present.

All right, so the Grindelwald thing hadn't reached British soil, but it still counted.

Harry picked up the file and his notes and went to find Malfoy. He poked his head inside the office and heard the sound of laughter. Malfoy was in there, talking to (and laughing with, Harry's brain helpfully supplied) Parvati. She smiled at Malfoy, said something that had Malfoy laugh again, and something inside Harry made a twist, the sort of sudden and tickling twist that he'd been entirely unprepared for.

"Hello Parvati. Malfoy," he said, taking satisfaction in how fast Malfoy turned around. Harry raised an eyebrow at him. "We've got a case." He waved the file."So, are you coming?"

Malfoy looked at him, completely still save for the way his eyebrows seemed to be in conversation with themselves. Then Malfoy snapped out of it and he offered Harry a minuscule smile. "Where are we going?"

Harry looked down at his notes and at the address he'd scribbled next to Marcus Dubois' name and grinned, because he was still twelve years old goddammit. "Scratchy Bottom," he said. Parvati snorted.

***


Tuesday
5th September, 2006
Lulworth, Scratchy Bottom


"Was the car really necessary?" Malfoy asked for what had to be the third time on the nearly three hour drive down from London.

"No, we're taking the car because I wanted to hear you complain about it," Harry said, turning down an even bumpier road. "We're taking the car because we're going to a mainly Muggle community. Dubois is a wizard, of course, but I'm expecting to speak to the locals as well, and it would be strange if we were to approach them on foot, seemingly from nowhere. So we're following Bustamant's advice and taking the car. We're almost there."

"Hm." Malfoy gave the road ahead a cursory glance, then looked back down at the file and Harry's notes. "There's a question that demands to be asked, you know."

"I'm sure there is," Harry said and took the car round a bend in the road. The car lurched slightly, the bend being slightly too sharp for the car, or rather, Harry's driving skills. Even if it was ministry issue and built to go places normal cars couldn't go. Malfoy made a face. "Shut up."

"I didn't say anything!"

"You were about to," Harry said, glancing over quickly. Malfoy had this look on his face as if he didn't know whether to be affronted or amused. Harry smiled. "Give it up."

Malfoy huffed. Harry smiled wider.

He parked the car outside a small cottage. There was smoke coming up from the chimney and outside the barn there was a somewhat rusty pickup truck. Chickens clucked in the courtyard.

"Ready?" Harry asked, taking the file case from Malfoy.

"Interrogation is really not my thing," Malfoy answered dryly. There was a glint of humour in his eyes.

Harry rolled his eyes. "Come on."

Mr Dubois was an elderly man with white at his temples and a none-too-friendly face. "What do you want?" he asked after Harry and Draco had shown him their IDs. "Is't about those boys from over at McKinney's, because I tell you, they had it comin', ain't nothing a few loose gunshots won't take care of and they won't be comin' over here again, botherin' me like that."

"Ah, no," Harry said. "We're here to talk about your sister, Rosa."

The man quieted and seemed to collapse in on himself. "What you want to know?" He peered at Harry, then Malfoy, then back at Harry. "You that kid from the war, ain't you?" He snorted. "Might as well come in, won't be having Lyn chewing me out for not inviting the bloody saviour in."

"I take it you're not one of Potter's biggest fans," Malfoy said smoothly, stepping in after Mr Dubois. "I'm not either."

"I'm not a fan of anything," Mr Dubois answered, pointing them towards a grouchy looking old sofa. When Harry sat down, he thought it growled at him. Mr Dubois himself sat in a reclining chair opposite the sofa, and Malfoy sat gingerly next to Harry. "My wife died in the war, you know. Only got Lyn left, and she got a mouth on her like you never heard before."

Harry smiled, picking up on the note of pride in the man's voice. "I'm sorry for your loss, Mr Dubois. The war took its toll on all of us." He glanced at Malfoy, then at his hands. "We, ah, hoped you would talk to us about Rosa."

"What about her?" Mr Dubois said, eyes narrowing again. "That's a long time ago, ain't no one cared for what happened to her since… well, since."

"We're working on old, unsolved cases, Mr Dubois," Malfoy explained. "We are currently investigating your sister's case." He indicated the file in Harry's hands. "She disappeared around the same time another girl died. We were hoping you could perhaps tell us more."

"Bloody right she disappeared," the old man grunted. "Saw the car fly right off the cliff myself and I thought, Marcus, they are both done for, ain't nothing you can do. They found Julienne's body, but Rosa was gone. At firs' they say she washed out into the sea, idiots the lot of them, the tide was coming in that night. Then they say I did it, but I tell them I did nothing, but Rosa was smart, got an award and everything, excellent spell work, and I told them she make it happen."

"Make what happen?" Malfoy asked carefully. Harry was noting everything Mr Dubois said down.

"Vanish!" the old man said, bringing his hands together and then apart. "Poof!"

Malfoys' eyebrows went up and Harry paused. "Why would she do that, Mr Dubois?" he asked carefully.

"You think I know," Mr Dubois grunted. "I don't know nothing. Why did she drive over the cliff in the first place, you tell me!"

"Rosa was driving the car?" Malfoy interjected. "This is news to us. Please, tell us exactly what you saw."

"Well," he started, shifting in his chair. "It was in the summer and there'd been a ball over in West, you know, West Lulworth, barn ball deal, used to be Dorothy Doyle who set it up, these days it's her daughter, beautiful young woman she is. Married Booth, the kid knows how to fix a car, you want a good deal on that thing you came in, her engine don't sound no good, you go ask for Bill Booth in town. The ball, it's all music and dancing, but then it was in secret, you see, because of this Muggle war, and around these parts there ain't many wizarding folks. Julienne was Rosa's best friend, see, and her mum's a Muggle, so she, you know. Rosa went to the ball with her without telling me about it and if Dad'd still been alive, he'd have gone after her himself. I went to get her back where she's safe, Mum'd protected our house as well she could, ain't no Muggle bomb could get to us, but Rosa was furious."

He paused, and Harry looked up from his note writing. "Did you argue, Mr Dubois?" he asked, keeping the tone of his voice gentle.

"I ordered Rosa and Julienne into the car, but they refused to go. I got them to get into the car in the end and I drive them back, but up at the bend by the oak tree," he gestured the way Harry and Malfoy had come, and Harry remembered a bend with a small road leading off it a few miles back, "she said, stop the car, and I stop the car and we all get out and we woke Collard's dog and chicken, there's no Collard left on that farm no more, they're all Bishops now, Muggles the lot of them, the Collards all gone in the first war, but anyhow, the dog was making a ruckus and Rosa was shouting and I was shouting and old Collard was shouting, and then Rosa shout to Julienne to get into the car and then Rosa sat in the driver's side and started off, and I shouted to her to stop and she shouted to me to leave her alone." Mr Dubois stopped, then wiped his eyes, before he continued. "She was going down the wrong way, she wasn't going home. I ran after them but she kept going and then there was the cliff and they went right over. I thought they're dead and gone."

"Was that the last you saw of your sister, Mr Dubois?" Malfoy asked.

"Yes," Mr Dubois answered. "Ain't never seen her again."

"You said earlier that she disappeared on purpose. Do you have any idea at all why she would do that?" Harry asked.

Mr Dubois looked at the window, a strange look gliding over his face. "No," he said curtly. Harry kept his own expression in check, but added a notation next to the statement: might be lying.

"Thank you, Mr Dubois. If it's all right with you, I have just one more question."

"Bring it on then," the old man said, looking away from the window.

"This file here says Julienne's death was an accident. Did it look like an accident to you?"

"I suppose," he answered. "Julienne's mother called the Muggles and gossip down at the tavern say the car was faulty, but I don't know nothing about that, 'twas my car and weren't nothing wrong with it."

"Thank you, Mr Dubois. Unless my partner has any further questions, I think we're done here." Harry looked at Malfoy, who shook his head.

"Thank you for your time, Mr Dubois," Malfoy said and stood, extending his hand. Mr Dubois shook his hand, then Harry's. "Actually, there was just one thing," Malfoy said. "Could you give us directions to the place where the accident happened?"

"Hmf," Mr Dubois said. "You just go follow the road back where you came, and when you come to the bend, follow the little road that goes off it. Used to be a farm down there, but it burned when I was a little boy and ain't no one wanted to live there anymore. The road goes almost all the way to the cliff's edge, that's where it happened."

***


Tuesday
5th September, 2006
Scratchy Bottom, top of the cliff


The cliff was unassuming and the burnt down farm nearby was so overgrown in weeds and trees that Harry wasn't sure he'd know it was there if he hadn't been told.

"Do your thing," Harry said to Malfoy, who rolled his eyes at him.

"You overestimate me," Malfoy informed him. "There's nothing here for me to wave my wand at." He gestured at the cliffside. There was an old fence along the edge, collapsed in some places. Right at the end of the road, the fence was lying flat against the ground, half buried by growth and half rotten, the wire nearly rusted apart. "This is obviously where the car went flying."

"So you're telling me I brought you here for nothing?" Harry asked, one eyebrow raised.

"Waste of resources," Malfoy chided and leaned against the car. "Why, if I didn't know better, I'd say you brought me for my dashing company."

"What's to say I didn't?" Harry shot back. And promptly closed his mouth while he contemplated throwing himself off the cliff.

Malfoy stared at him. "That backfired on you, didn't it?" he asked, then changed the subject. "Well, if we're done here, I'm going to head back. There's obviously no need for me on this case."

"Aren't you the least bit intrigued?" Harry asked. "Come on. I know you're curious."

"...Maybe," Malfoy admitted.

"So, let's figure it out."

Malfoy gave him a long look, then something gave. He sighed. "Did Dubois look suspicious to you?" he asked.

"A little," Harry agreed. "But I'm not so sure he had anything to do with what happened, beyond the, well... Being a catalyst for the accident."

"One doesn't just vanish into thin air," Malfoy commented. "If he didn't make his sister vanish, then something else did. There's no magic around here that could've been responsible. Assuming he was telling the truth and she made herself disappear... why do it while flying off a cliff with her best friend in the passenger seat?"

"Fuck me if I know," Harry said, looking over the precipice. The waves lapped against the sand directly below.

He looked back at Malfoy, who was still leaning against the car. His hair fluttered in the wind, but Harry wasn't looking at his hair, he was looking at the long line of Malfoy's body, casual against the car. He wondered what it'd be like to touch him: rigid and cold, or tense but yielding?

ep5a


"Potter!" Malfoy called out, his voice sharper than Harry'd anticipated.

He winced.

"Let's move on."

"Yes," Harry said, feeling half dazed. He looked up, meeting Malfoy's eyes. "Sorry. Got lost in thought."

"I could tell," Malfoy said with a smirk on his lips. It reached his eyes, dammit, and Harry was utterly, and completely screwed.

***


Tuesday
5th September, 2006
West Lulworth, Shirley's kitchen


It took less than five minutes to track down Bill Booth, and ten minutes after that, they were sat in Shirley Booth's kitchen eating apple pie.

"Mrs Booth," Harry tried, for the third time. "We hoped to talk to you about your balls -"

"Smooth, Potter," Malfoy said, which was easy for him as he didn't currently have apple sliding down his front. Harry glared at him, but Malfoy merely smiled sweetly and turned to Shirley. "Exquisite, Mrs Booth. I've never tasted better."

"Oh, thank you, my dear," Shirley answered, glowing smile on her face. "It's Bill's favourite, but don't you worry about that, boys, I've got another in the oven so he won't mind one bit."

"Suck-up," Harry said under his breath, as he attempted to scrub apple residue off his waistcoat. He glanced at Shirley furtively, but decided he couldn't risk using magic to remove the stain. Bollocks.

Malfoy waggled his eyebrows at him and Harry wanted to punch him.

"Mrs Booth," Harry tried, again, "we really must ask a few questions about your social events, if you'd please."

"Oh, of course! What do you boys want to know?"

Harry pushed his plate of nearly finished apple pie to the side. "It's really about one specific event," he said, consulting his notebook. "In 1941 on July seventeenth, there was a barn ball -"

"That was well before my time!" Shirley exclaimed. "My mother would know, but I'm afraid she's fragile in her old age and won't remember a thing."

"Ah," Harry said. Then: "Do you happen to have...any kind of record on who would've visited that ball? If there's any chance that there's anyone alive who was present, it would help us a great deal."

"I'm afraid not," Shirley answered. "I must ask, why are you interested? That was such a long time ago!"

"A person who was at the ball that night disappeared afterwards," Malfoy explained, putting down his fork. "And another died. The case was never solved, so we're looking into it."

"Oh! Is this about that poor girl, what was her name - Julie? She was one of my mother's friends, you know. It was a tragedy, is what it was, left the whole community in pieces. They say they never found her friend's body, is that correct?" Shirley cut another slice of apple pie. Harry hurriedly finished his own in hopes for more.

"We are entertaining the possibility that her friend might still be alive," Harry told her, grinning at Malfoy's panicked expression as the giant slice of pie landed on his plate. "If you know anything at all that could help us, we would be very grateful."

"Oh, I don't know," Shirley fussed, cutting another slice of pie and Harry watched with interest as she picked it up, furtively pushing his plate closer. "We don't keep guest lists, wardrobe lists, maybe, but I'm sure those are all gone." She put the slice onto Harry's plate. She paused, holding the cake server in midair. "There is something, maybe. Give me a minute, boys!"

Shirley vanished up the stairs, cake server left behind on the table.

"Do you think I can vanish this and she won't notice?" Malfoy whispered, indicating the slice of pie on his plate. "I think I'll burst if I eat another bite."

"Give it to me," Harry said, eyeing the slice. Malfoy had only taken two, very small, forkfuls out of it. "I'll finish it for you."

"You're a beast, Potter."

"It's good pie!" Harry protested and demonstrated this by shovelling a large forkful of pie into his mouth. There was a loud sound from upstairs as if something heavy had just fallen.

"Are you all right, ma'am?" Malfoy called. "Do you need help?"

"I'm fine!" came the answer, if a bit shrill. Harry and Malfoy exchanged dubious looks, and Malfoy stood up. Shirley chose that moment to come back, face flushed and slightly out of breath. In her arms was a large photo album. "I got it!"

Malfoy relieved her of the photo album, setting it down on the table, and saw to it that she sat back down. He refilled her glass of water. "Are you all right?"

"I'm peachy," she said, shooing him away. Malfoy found his seat again.

At this point, Harry had finished his second slice of pie and was eyeing Malfoy's. Malfoy gave him an exasperated look, but pushed his plate over anyway. Shirley watched them, an amused smile playing on her lips.

"Now, boys," she said, drawing the photo album near. "This album belongs to my mother. If you boys are lucky, there's something for you in here." She started flicking through the pages, scanning each of them until she was sure there was nothing of use on the page.

Harry demolished his third slice of pie. Malfoy watched him with something like a mixture of disgust and fascination. Harry briefly thought about showing him the half chewed pie in his mouth, but then decided that a) he wasn't five years old and b) it would be detrimental to his as yet unformed plans for wooing Malfoy.

"Oh!" Shirley pulled out a photograph and turned it around to read the back of it. Her smile widened. "Well, aren't you in luck," she said, pleased as punch. "My mother has one photograph from that evening." She showed it to them. It depicted four young people, two women and two men. Harry thought he recognised Julienne, who looked radiant and… alive. "That's my mother, there. The others are Julienne, the girl who died, and this chap here was my mother's first boyfriend." She giggled, then sobered up. "His name's Peter Hudson, he passed away last winter, poor man. Fell on the sidewalk and broke his hip and never recovered. The other handsome fellow is Owen Wheatley, his best friend. He lives over in East, ahh East Lulworth for you non-locals, with his granddaughter, you could talk to him. See if he knows anything."

"Do you have an address for us?" Malfoy asked.

"Don't need no address, young man," she chided. "He lives in the house with the red picket fence. Just up the road, really."

Harry wrote the phrase Owen Wheatly, house with the red picket fence, East Lulworth in his notebook. "Thank you, Mrs Booth. Do you have anything else that could be of use?"

"I'm afraid not," she answered, sliding the photograph back into its sleeve. "Go talk to Owen."

"Thank you," Malfoy said and stood. "And thank you for the pie. It was lovely."

"Very good," Harry said, looking forlornly at the remaining pie. "Thank you very much, Mrs Booth. You've been of great help to us."

Malfoy was already sitting in the car when Harry made it outside, pie wrapped up in a little plastic bag.

"Score," Harry said, sliding into the driver's seat. He put the pie into the backseat, not-so-accidentally brushing against Malfoy as he reached around.

"Beast," Malfoy said again.

"Good pie," Harry repeated.

"It's getting late," Malfoy said. "It's a three hour drive back and I'd very much like to not be late home today."

"We'll come back tomorrow," Harry said. "We need to talk to Julienne's family as well."

Malfoy didn't answer, so Harry started the car, throwing Malfoy a glance. His face was expressionless.

The drive back to London was silent.

***


Wednesday
6th September, 2006
London, MoM


Harry never made it to his office in the morning. He didn't even make it to Level Two. Parvati apprehended him, handing him a giant take-away cup of coffee - Harry could smell caramel - and whispered, "Malfoy's on the warpath, do stay out of his way today, dear." She fixed the lapels of his waistcoat and then slapped his butt. And hurried away.

"We have a case!" Harry called after her. "You hear me? A case!"

"Drink your coffee!" she called back.

He eyed the cup, then Parvati, who rounded a corner just then and vanished out of sight. Harry sighed, shook his head, and turned around, only to come face to face with Malfoy himself, looking for all the world like the devil himself as he strode down the hallway towards Harry. He took a step backwards.

"Good mor-" Harry attempted, but Malfoy only glared at him.

"Let's go," Malfoy said brusquely and took the cup from Harry, brushing past him. "Now, Potter!"

"That's my coffee," Harry said, tailing after Malfoy.

"Not anymore."

"You don't even like it!" Harry exclaimed.

Malfoy didn't heed him, but only proceeded to drink Harry's deliciously smelling coffee. Harry glowered at his back. Idiot.

"Who peed in your breakfast?"

"None of your business, Potter."

"So somebody did indeed pee in your breakfast."

Malfoy whirled around, mouth a thin line. "Are we going to solve this case or not?"

"I...yes?"

"Then shut up and get moving!" Malfoy stomped away. Harry ran his hand through his hair, exhaling. The next three hours were going to be a long three hours. In close confinement. Oh joy. What put him in such a strop? Harry glared at Malfoy's back, but came up blank. Lover's spat, maybe. Jealousy coiled in Harry's stomach and he pushed it down, following Malfoy to the car.

Halfway through the drive, Harry cleared his throat. "So, do you want to see Wheatley first, or Julienne's sister?"

Malfoy didn't answer.

Ten minutes later, Harry pulled into a service station off the motorway. He parked the car near the shop and got out of the car. "Stay here," he said and slammed the door shut. Malfoy didn't say a word.

Harry returned with an iced coffee, and a steaming cup of tea. He knocked on Malfoy's window with his elbow and waited patiently for Malfoy to roll it down.

"So," Harry said. "The way I see it, two things can happen now. One, I give you this," he indicated the tea in his left hand, "you drink it, you love it and you stop sulking and cooperate with me. Two, I pour it out while I drink this," he indicated the iced coffee in his right hand, "and you get to stare longingly at the wet spot on the asphalt. As punishment for stealing my coffee this morning."

"Option two says nothing about sulking," Malfoy observed.

"Well, no, but I reckoned that was a given." Harry shrugged. "What will it be, Malfoy? Are we going to work together nicely today, or are we not?"

"I can't believe you're attempting to bribe me into a good mood with tea," Malfoy said.

"Is it working?"

Malfoy rolled his eyes, but the corner of his mouth quirked up. "Give it here, Potter," he said, grabbing the tea in Harry's hand. "And stop grinning."

"Nope," Harry said.

***


Wednesday
6th September, 2006
East Lulworth, in front of the red garden gate


Harry closed the red garden gate behind him. "That was a disaster," he said. Malfoy snorted. "And a complete waste of time."

"Not a complete waste of time," Malfoy said, pausing by the car. "We did gain some startling new insight into Rosa's and Julienne's relationship."

"We did?" Harry frowned. He looked at his notes. "We didn't."

Malfoy looked straight at him. "Are you kidding me."

Harry scrutinised his notes.

"Wheatley said, I quote, want nothing to do with those deviants." Malfoy raised an eyebrow. Harry blinked. "Oh for heaven's sake, Potter! Do you need me to spell it out for you?" Malfoy gesticulated, then drew in a breath, pinching the bridge of his nose. He muttered something Harry thought might've been Merlin give me strength. "Potter, it is common to refer to homosexual people and people of other non-conformative sexual orientations as deviants."

"So..." Harry said slowly, narrowing his eyes at the notebook in his hand. "Rosa and Julienne were lesbians?"

"Bingo!" Malfoy crossed his arms, leaning against the car. "So, now that we know they were lesbians, and maybe involved with each other, we have to consider the possibility that we're dealing with a hate crime here."

Wheatley chose that moment to open his front door and shuffle out, cane in hand. "Get off my property!" he yelled, poking the cane into the air, despite the fact Harry and Malfoy were standing in the street. Okay, so Harry was leaning against the red picket fence, which was obviously a grievous offence.

"Just leaving, sir!" Harry yelled back, then stalked over to Malfoy. "Let's get out of here."

"Hate crime," Malfoy said, going round to the passenger side.

"Do we want to take this man's word for it?" Harry asked as he started the car.

"Oh, trust me. His disgust was real," Malfoy said, taking the notebook and flicking through it. "And you know, dear old Marcus was pretty shifty yesterday. I see you did notice that." He pointed at Harry's might've been lying comment in the margin.

"I'm not completely oblivious, Malfoy," Harry grumbled and turned the car around. "We're going to see Marcus."

"Not Julienne's sister?"

"She can wait." Harry looked in the rearview mirror. "If this is a hate crime, then Marcus should know something about it."

"Yeah, if he didn't commit it himself," Malfoy commented. "Ladies and gentlemen, we have ourselves a suspect."

"Is it strictly necessary to sound that cheerful about it?"

"I welcome any and all new developments in this case," he said. "Seeing as I don't get to do much else."

"You could just take yourself off the case and go back to the department of mysteries, if you want," Harry pointed out. "No one's forcing you stay."

"You practically begged me to stay," Malfoy countered. Harry glanced over, and sure enough, Malfoy was smirking.

"Did not."

"Did so," Malfoy said. "Anyway, it would be cruel of me to leave now. You need me."

"I don't need you."

"You need my charming personality," Malfoy clarified. "Or else we wouldn't have been able to talk to Shirley at all, yesterday. She didn't even ask to see our IDs."

"You're saying it's your charming personality that got us pie?"

"Yes." Malfoy smiled, pleased with himself.

Harry shook his head, but he was smiling.

***


Wednesday
6th September, 2006
Lulworth, Scratchy Bottom


The chickens ran behind the barn as Harry pulled into the courtyard in front of Marcus Dubois' farm house. Marcus himself came out of the house when Harry and Malfoy stepped out of the car.

"You're back again," Marcus observed. "I ain't got nothing new to tell you."

"We were hoping you might be able to shed light on some new information we've gathered," Harry said.

Malfoy stepped up next to him. "Mr Dubois," he started. "Can you confirm that your sister was a lesbian?"

Marcus' face darkened. "You come here to ask me about my sister's perversities?"

Harry and Malfoy traded looks. "Mr Dubois," Harry said gently, attempting to be delicate. He could feel Malfoy's eyes on him. "We didn't come here to make you angry. A witness claimed that Rosa and Julienne were both lesbians and insinuated that they might've been romantically involved."

"Hmf," Marcus said, reluctant. "I suppose it's true. What do you care?" He glared at Harry, who bristled.

"It puts our investigation into new light," he said, looking straight into Marcus' eyes. "We now have to consider the possibility that you killed your sister, Mr Dubois. May we come in?"

The old man stumbled at step backwards, then abruptly turned his back on them and walked into the house. Malfoy gestured after Harry, who briefly considered telling Malfoy that he wasn't a lady and didn't need doors held for him, but gave it up and followed Marcus into the house.

"I didn't kill Rosa," Marcus said, his left hand shaking on his lap as he was seated on the grouchy couch. He looked like he'd aged ten years in the span of ten seconds. "I would never -"

"Mr Dubois," Malfoy said gently, seating himself next to the man. Harry crossed his arms. When did Malfoy get to be the good cop? "Can you please tell us what happened?"

"Without lying this time," Harry added, only to have Malfoy shoot him a glare.

"They accused me of killing her back then too," Marcus said. "But I didn't!"

Malfoy put his hand on Marcus' arm. "Take a deep breath, Mr Dubois, and just tell us what happened. What did you argue about that night?"

"Does it really matter what we argued about?" he asked. "Those were the last words I ever said to my sister and I've regretted them ever since. She's out there somewhere, and she'll never come back because of what I said."

"You sound very certain that she's alive," Harry commented and the old man snorted.

"Told ya, the tide was in, didn't I?" He gave Harry a look like he thought he was stupid, but then slumped back together. "I didn't agree with her relationship with Julienne back then. Thought it was wrong. We fought about it often. That night wasn't...much different...except...you know. She drove the car over the cliff and vanished and…" He raised his arm but aborted whatever gesture he was going to make, and let it fall again. "I don't blame her for not coming back. I drove her away from me. But I didn't kill her."

"Are you absolutely certain that she is still alive?" Malfoy asked. "If we discard the assumption that you killed her because she's a lesbian -"

"I didn't kill her!"

"- why are you so sure she's alive? You must understand, we only have your word for it. Spell it out for us."

Marcus was quiet for a long time. "I just know. I feel it in my bones, you understand?" He looked up at Malfoy. "Her last words to me were I never want to see you again. I don't think she died with Julienne, I think she ran away. I can feel it."

Malfoy looked at Marcus for a long time, then looked up at Harry. "Do you think he's telling the truth?" he asked.

"Yes," Harry answered slowly.

"Where do you think she ran to?" Malfoy asked and Marcus shrugged. "Is there anyone that might know?"

"Julienne woulda known," Marcus said. "They were always making plans to see places. Maybe Sarah knows."

"Sarah?" Harry took out his notebook.

"Sarah Langley. She was friends with Rosa and Julienne. Muggle girl." Marcus shrugged. "Still lives in town, she's just down the road from Bill and across from Adrienne, that's Julienne's little sister."

"Anything else you want to add?" Harry asked, scribbling in the book.

"If you find her…" Marcus looked at Malfoy. "Tell her I'm sorry."

"We will, Mr Dubois," Malfoy said, patting his arm. "I promise."

Harry closed his notebook silently.

They left Marcus on the sofa, the old man's face set with grief. The chickens were back in the courtyard and Harry was careful to not run any of them over.

"Lunch first?" he offered.

***


Wednesday
6th September, 2006
West Lulworth, The Castle Inn Pub


There were a couple of tourists in the pub and Malfoy was eyeing them suspiciously from their table, Harry could see. He finished the phone call and went back.

"Try to look less hostile," he said, sliding into his seat. "Adrienne is home and will see us this afternoon."

"Mh," Malfoy said. "And Sarah Langley?"

Harry shook his head. "Didn't get hold of her. She wasn't in the phonebook. We'll just have to see if she's home when we've finished with Adrienne."

The waitress brought over their food.

"It's not just me, this case is kind of a mess, isn't it?" Harry said, staring down at his fisherman's pie.

"Eat," Malfoy said, having cut his own fisherman's pie open already.

"Isn't it, though?" Harry picked up his cutlery.

"I don't know." Malfoy shrugged. "I'm sure you've seen messier cases. In both the literal and figurative sense."

Harry made a face. Malfoy snickered.

They were quiet for a few minutes as they ate; the fisherman's pie was very good and a large group of tourists had seated themselves at the table directly behind them.

"Do you think we'll find her?" Harry asked.

Malfoy looked at him. "Not if she doesn't want to be found," he answered. "Eat."

***

CLICK HERE FOR PART TWO
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