leveltwomods: (mod level two)
[personal profile] leveltwomods posting in [community profile] hd_level_two

Wednesday
6th September, 2006
West Lulworth, Adrienne's home


Adrienne was a fragile looking old woman with a surprising spring in her step and twinkle in her eye. Her home was the family home, she informed Harry while pushing Malfoy into a deep reclining chair.

"It is very lovely," Harry told her. He chose to take a seat on the sofa before Adrienne could put him anywhere near the other reclining chair. Malfoy looked half swallowed by the chair and somewhat murderous.

"Thank you, dear," Adrienne said, paying no mind to Malfoy. "You wanted to talk about my sister?"

"Ah, yes…" Harry glanced over at Malfoy, who said nothing, and opened his notebook. "We are looking into the case again. Is there anything you could tell us about Julienne and Rosa?"

"Well, I don't know about that," Adrienne mused, seating herself in the other reclining chair. She did not disappear into it like Malfoy had. "It's years and years ago, you know. They were very close."

"Were they in a romantic relationship?" Harry asked.

"Dear me!" Adrienne clutched her bosom, then leaned closer to Harry. "We don't say such things aloud!" she whispered, the volume of her whispering louder than that of her speaking voice.

"I'm sorry." Harry cleared his throat, then whispered. "Were your sister and Rosa in a romantic relationship?"

She nodded gravely, then burst into giggles. "I apologise," she said. "I wasn't supposed to know about it, I think. Julie never spoke of it, but I knew." She sighed. "She was very much in love. It shone right out of her, and it was all Rosa. Or Rosie, that's what Julie used to call her."

"They were happy together?"

"I think so. Of course, it was war times, so nobody was much happy. We created our own little pockets of happiness when we could." Adrienne smiled. "I was very young then, but I understood these things."

Harry smiled back. "I know how that goes."

"Did you know they were our only casualties during the war?" she said. "A couple of the boys volunteered, but they all came back. But Julie and Rosa…" She cleared her throat. "Well. No use getting all teary now, is it?"

"I have a handkerchief if you need it, Miss." Harry dug into his pockets. Malfoy snorted from somewhere inside the chair, but Harry ignored him.

"Mrs.," she scolded, but she was smiling again. "Keep your handkerchief, young man."

"All right." Harry put the handkerchief back, then looked over his notes. "There is just one more question, and then I think we'll be done here."

"Oh, shoot!"

"We...er, we have reason to believe that Rosa might still be alive -" Harry stopped short at the look on Adrienne's face.

"You're one of those magic folks, aren't you? Like Rosa and Julie and my father?"

"Erhm, yes," Harry answered, embarrassed.

"Smooth, Potter." Malfoy sounded more smug than he had any right to be, the bastard. Harry glared at him.

"You had that look about you," Adrienne said. "And you've got your wand poking out of your pocket, boy."

Harry flushed red.

"The saviour of the world, ladies and gentlemen," Malfoy said. He was still half buried in the reclining chair. "I would make a terrible wand joke right about now, but we are in polite company so I shall refrain."

"Shut up, Malfoy."

"I still talk to old Marcus, you know," Adrienne said. "After my father died, he's the only one left around here. It's nice, talking to him. Sometimes he shows me tricks."

"Uhm…"

Malfoy gave him an exasperated look and then heaved himself out of the reclining chair. It took considerable effort and his hair looked strangely flat except for where it stuck up at the back. "The point is, Mrs. Moore, Rosa might've used magic to save herself. We are trying to find her."

Adrienne was silent for a long time. "I don't know that I can help you with that," she said eventually.

"You knew your sister well," Harry said. "Did she and Rosa have any plans to travel? Any dreams to see certain places? Anything at all would be helpful."

"Julie…" Adrienne paused. "She liked Sweden. But I don't know that they had plans to go there… Julie never went there, she just thought she'd like to someday. Maybe because of the war. I don't know. It's so long ago."

"Thank you." Harry made a note in his notebook. "One last question, then."

Adrienne nodded.

"Did Julienne and Rosa have any close friends? Anyone who might still be around today?" Harry asked.

"Not very many," she answered. "There's Sarah. But no one else, I believe."

"Sarah Langley?" Malfoy asked.

"Why, yes!" Adrienne exclaimed. "Did Marcus tell you? He's still got such a schoolboy crush on her, poor guy. Thinks Lyn would mind if he asked Sarah out! There's a silly thought for you."

Malfoy chuckled and Harry smiled.

"Thank you very much," Harry said. "I think that was all." He stood up.

"You have been of tremendous help," Malfoy added, finally extricating himself completely from the reclining chair. His hair still stood up in the back. "Oh, no, don't get up. We'll see ourselves out, it's no trouble at all."

***


Wednesday
6th September, 2006
West Lulworth, Sarah's doorstep


"Sarah is our last lead," Harry said. Adrienne was observing them through her living room window and Malfoy waved at her.

"Afraid it won't lead anywhere?" Malfoy turned back to face him, eyebrow raised.

Harry shrugged. "I would like to be able to close the case. Find Rosa."

"Ring the doorbell, then." Malfoy gestured towards the green door in front of them. "Or are you afraid this is the end of our quaint adventure in Scratchy Bottom?"

"Scratchy Bottom is the valley behind Marcus' farm and this is - you know what? Nevermind." Harry stepped away from him and pressed the doorbell.

"It'd be a quick end to a hopeless chase," Malfoy offered, stepping up to stand beside Harry.. "And I can go back to not wasting my time."

Harry turned to glare at him, preparing a scathing retort, when he noticed the twinkle of amusement in Malfoy's eyes. He shut his mouth and turned back to look at the door. "Think she's home?"

"Adrienne seemed to think so," Malfoy said.

Right on cue, the front door opened and a woman even older and more fragile looking than Adrienne opened.

"Sarah Langley?" Harry asked.

"Yes?"

"I'm Harry Potter and this is my partner Draco Malfoy. We're here because we're looking into the case of Julienne Honeybourne's death and Rosa Dubois' disappearance. You were a friend of theirs?"

"I'm not really his partner," Malfoy said, giving the woman a charming smile. "I'm more like a tag-along."

"Malfoy, do you want to wait in the car?"

"You wouldn't!"

"I would."

Harry and Malfoy glared at each other, but Malfoy's eyes were dancing with merriment and Harry was finding it hard to keep the laughter in.

"Gentlemen," Sarah said, pulling them out of their little stand-off. "Maybe you should come inside." She stepped back, holding the door wide open.

"Oh - of course, yes. Thank you." Harry walked in, not without sending Malfoy a quick glare first.

Malfoy followed, taking great care to wipe his shoes off on the mat. Sarah closed the door behind them.

"The sitting room is just through here, if you'd please," she said. "I will be with you in a minute."

Sarah Langley's sitting room was small but comfortable, with soft and cushy looking rose patterned chairs and needlework on the walls. Harry carefully chose a chair that didn't look like it'd swallow him whole, while Malfoy chose to not sit at all and rather took to surveying the needlework.

Harry wondered how long it would take before Malfoy realised his hair was still mussed up in the back.

"What do you think?" Malfoy said, looking at a large embroidery of red roses and black kittens.

"Exquisite," Harry replied. Malfoy shook his head.

1


"Not what I meant," he said, but didn't get to complete his sentence. Sarah had returned, carrying a large tray with a teapot and cups and a plate of cucumber sandwiches. Cucumber sandwiches. Meticulously prepared, it looked like, and she'd been gone but a minute. This woman either possessed some serious ninja skills, magic, or had been prepared in advance.

"Sit," she told Malfoy and her voice was pure steel. Malfoy sat. She put down the tray on the small coffee table and directed Malfoy to pour the tea. "Now," she said, pausing only to sit down herself. "We talk."

"Ah, yes," Harry coughed, pulling out his notebook and pen from his pocket.

"I do have one question," Sarah said, "before I tell you a single word."

Harry paused, looking at her. Malfoy straightened up.

"What is it?" Harry asked.

"Is Rosie going to jail?" She asked and the question threw Harry out of the loop for a second.

He glanced at Malfoy, who was frowning. "Is there reason for us to put her into jail?" Harry asked carefully.

"Of course not!" Sarah chided. She put sugar into her tea and her hands were shaking minutely. "She didn't kill Julie. It was an accident."

"We are aware that it was an accident, Miss Langley," Malfoy said. "What makes you think we want to put Rosa in jail?"

"Rosie blamed herself for what happened. Believing you did something is sometimes half a confession, isn't it?" Sarah put the spoon down, but didn't pick up the cup. "I watch those crime dramas on the telly, so I've learnt a thing or two over the years."

Harry smiled. "I can assure you, we are not going to put Rosa into jail unless there is a very good reason to, coupled with some cold hard evidence."

"Oh." Sarah let out a breath of relief. "That's good. You had me really worried there. There's been talk of you two going around town talking to people, so I reckoned it was only a matter of time before you came to see me."

That was an unexpected turn of events. Harry glanced at Malfoy, who seemed to think the same, but then suddenly turned to Harry. "Cucumber sandwich, Potter?" Malfoy said, offering him the plate. "They're very good."

"Thank you," Harry answered, taking a sandwich in confusion. He attempted to communicate this confusion to Malfoy through an elaborate eyebrow dance, but Malfoy seemed to not speak this obscure language, and simply continued to eat his cucumber sandwich and compliment Sarah.

"Miss Langley," Harry said, ignoring Malfoy for the time being. "We are trying to close this old case and the remaining piece is Rosa. We are trying to -"

"Sweden," Sarah said. "She went to Sweden."

Both Harry and Malfoy froze. Then Harry put down his as of yet untouched cucumber sandwich.

"It's what you came here for, isn't it?" She said. "You want to find Rosie?"

"Well, yes…" Harry blinked. "You know where she is? Are you in touch with her?"

"I haven't heard from her since she left. I got a postcard from her a week after she left, but she hasn't contacted me since." Sarah sipped her tea. "She came to me, soaking wet and shivering, in the middle of the night, crying her heart out. It was terrible."

"Did she tell you about the accident?" Malfoy asked.

"Not in so many words. It was all a mess, really. I didn't hear about what had happened in full until the morning. By then Rosie was gone - I gave her some of my clothes and lent her some money, or gave her, as I never really saw it again, but that's neither here nor there, and then she left."

Harry looked up from his scribbling. "You are positive that she went to Sweden?"

"She and Julie had always wanted to go there. She said she wanted to go for Julie. She said she could never go back home again. I found out later that she and Marcus had fallen out with each other. At the time, Sweden was probably the best bet, things were ugly then, and it was neutral ground." She sighed deeply. "The postcard she sent me was from Stockholm. Post mark and all. That's the last I heard from her. I don't even know if she's still alive. We're all old now."

"If she's still alive, we'll find her," Harry said.

"These cucumber sandwiches are really good," Malfoy said and Harry frowned at him.

"Thank you very much, Miss Langley," Harry said. "Is there anything else you could tell us that would make finding her easier?"

"Honestly? No." Sarah shook her head. "I'm not sure Rosie is the same person she was when we were young. I know I'm not. And these things, they change us. Age changes us." She smiled. "I'm afraid I can't help you."

"You've been fantastic," Harry said. "Thank you for everything."

***


Wednesday
6th September , 2006
On the A31, in the shiny black ministry-issued car


Once in the car, Harry fell quiet, trying to focus on the road and not the thoughts in his head. Beside him, Malfoy was quieter still.

"Thanks," Malfoy said suddenly.

"Hm?"

"For today. It's been nice."

Harry looked over, surprised into stunned silence.

"Oh, shut up," Malfoy said and Harry grinned. He returned focus to the road.

"You better pack your bags, Malfoy," he said. "Because tomorrow we're going to Sweden."

Malfoy huffed, but Harry was still smiling. The silence that fell over them was comfortable.

***


Thursday
7th September , 2006
London, the National Archives


Going to Sweden wasn't that simple. The Portkeys - both ways - had to be ordered, forms had to be filled out and a whole lot of protocol ensured that they got thoroughly covered in dust for the majority of the day. Harry and Malfoy went over the emigration registry - naturally, without luck - in both the ministry and the Muggle National Archives. Admittedly, Harry wasn't too keen on going through the National Archives, but they had to cover their bases.

"So, if there's no record of Rosa Dubois leaving the country, how can we be sure she left in the first place?" Harry groaned, then glared at the offending records.

"These things aren't perfect," Malfoy replied. He seemed a lot less annoyed about the state of things. Good for him. "If she never notified any officials that she left, it wouldn't have been recorded." Malfoy looked up. "Not to mention, if she had, then she wouldn't be missing, would she?"

Harry narrowed his eyes at him. "So what are we doing here then?"

"Following protocol," Malfoy answered simply. The corner of his mouth lifted minutely and his eyes twinkled. "Although I do believe the protocol is somewhat vague about how thorough one needs to be at this stage."

"What are you proposing?"

"That we go to Sweden, pose as muggles looking for a relative and use our cover to poke around their immigration records."

"Now?"

"Now's as good time as any other," Malfoy said, full on grinning now. Harry couldn't help but grin back. He knew their portkey was waiting for them.

Back at HQ, Harry had a brief chat with Parvati while Malfoy went to fetch his suitcase.

"That was quick," Parvati commented, eyeing the suitcase in Harry's hand. "Honeymoon already? That boy recovers fast."

"Ha ha," Harry said, but then frowned. "Recovered from what?"

Parvati shook her head with a smile, giving Harry a fond look. "Never you mind about that. How's the case going?"

"Dusty," Harry answered. "Hey, while I've got you here - is there any news regarding the Wilfing and Leach cases?"

"None, I'm afraid." She shrugged, then winked at something behind Harry's back.

"Huh," Malfoy said, coming up next to Harry. "I would've thought."

"I'm sorry, boys." Parvati smiled. "I've gotta run, you two have fun. Did you know that Stockholm is often referred to as the Venice of the North?"

She grinned and before Harry could ask what exactly she meant with that, she was gone. It was a real talent of hers, it seemed, and not one Harry was particularly fond of. He scowled but shook his head when Malfoy gave him a questioning glance.


***


Thursday
7th September, 2006
Stockholm, next to a lot of water


From the portkey office in Stockholm to the hotel Malfoy had booked for them on the ministry's dime, there was only a short walk. The time difference, little as it was, made it out to be later in the evening than Harry would've liked it to be, and he was wondering whether there would be anywhere that still had their kitchen open at this hour.

"Chin up, Potter," Malfoy said. "The hotel's got room service."

"Huh? What?" Harry looked over, having been preoccupied not only with the grumblings of his stomach but also the city around him, which was so very different from anything he'd seen before. Harry'd never been to Venice, but he knew there was water there, and there was definitely a lot of water here.

"You're wearing your hungry face," Malfoy said with a soft smile. "We'll get food as soon as we've checked in."

"Oh. Okay. Yes. Let's do that."

They wound up sitting on Malfoys bed with a large plate of various cold cuts, fruits, cheeses, vegetables and little bowls with various sauces, between them. It was finger food at its best, though Harry wasn't sure they were all things that strictly went together. He'd never seen a tapas plate that looked like this, anyhow.

"So, what's the plan for tomorrow?" Malfoy asked and crammed a little stuffed red pepper into his mouth.

"We check in with the local auror office," Harry said, staring at Malfoy's fingers. "Check their archive, see if we can dig something up on Rosa in their files."

"We won't find anything," Malfoy said and went for a piece of cheese so questionable looking that not even Harry had tried it yet. He dipped it in cloudberry jam before bringing it to his mouth.

Harry swallowed and looked down at the plate, picking something absentmindedly. "I agree," he said and licked his fingers. "But let me into your head for a minute. Why do you think so?"

"Well." Malfoy shrugged. "If she went to the trouble to leave her home and come here… She clearly wanted to disappear. She was also clearly running from something." Malfoy eyed a ham and asparagus roll critically before biting into it. "If it were me, I wouldn't make myself known to the wizarding side of things."

"You'd go Muggle?" Harry looked up.

"If the situation required it," Malfoy said. "I think Rosa would've. She grew up in a close-knit community that consists of mostly Muggles, her girlfriend was a halfblood with a Muggle sister and Muggle mother and their best friend was a Muggle. She would've had the prerequisite knowledge to function in the Muggle world and, I assume, no qualms about it either."

"It makes sense," Harry agreed. "We still need to check in with the auror's office. We're here in official capacity."

"Naturally."

"We should also give their records a look," Harry continued. He tried the questionable looking cheese and the cloudberry jam. "If only for protocol." He chewed thoughtfully, pleasantly surprised by how mild and soft the cheese was and how well it went with the jam.

"For protocol," Malfoy said and smiled broadly. "I think I can deal with that."

Harry smiled back. "We can go impersonate Muggles after."

***


Friday
8th September, 2006
Stockholm, the National Archives


Their visit at the auror's office was brief, so they wasted no time in going back to the hotel to change into Muggle clothing. Finding Migrationsverket wasn't all that difficult, but it did turn out that they had no records extending beyond the early 90s, and were from there referred to the National Archives by a lovely young lady with a charming accent and even more charming smile.

At the National Archives they were met with a language barrier preventing them from doing any of the research themselves and a somewhat grumpy young intern who looked for all in the world like he'd rather be somewhere else.

Well, it was Friday.

"No Dubois?" Malfoy asked dubiously.

"Try that again," Harry said.

"There's no Dubois," the intern said, glaring at them both. "Not that year. There's a Dubois in 1951, but that's a dude from France."

Malfoy crossed his arms in annoyance. "Now what?" he spat, glaring at Harry. Harry held his hands up in defense.

"Don't look at me!" he exclaimed.

"Are you done?" the intern asked.

"No," Harry said, turning to him. "Try one more name, please?"

The intern sighed.

"Could you check Honeybourne, please? Spelled H-O-N-E-Y-B-O-U-R-N-E."

"Why Honeybourne?" Malfoy asked, frowning.

"I have seen Titanic," Harry said.

Malfoy blinked at him and the intern grinned.

"Dude, haven't you seen Titanic?" he asked. Malfoy shook his head slowly, eyes narrowed in suspicion. The intern laughed.

"What the hell?" Malfoy mouthed at Harry.

"Later," Harry mouthed back.

The intern went back to the records, this time chuckling.

"It's a movie," Harry explained. "There's a character in it who gives the officials her dead boyfriend's last name instead of her own."

"And you think that's what Rosa did?"

Harry shrugged. "Do we have anything to lose?"

"Fair point."

After some waiting, during which Harry threatened Draco with the prospect of forcing him to suffer through all three hours of it back at the hotel, the intern returned a slip of paper.

"There was a Rosa Honeybourne who entered the country in July 1941," he said. "Do you think that's the person you're looking for?"

"The chances are high," Harry said. His stomach did a happy little dance and he glanced at Malfoy, who looked hopeful.

"Well, I photocopied the entry for you," the intern said. "It won't be of much use to you, so you should head over to Skatteverket, it's the tax centre; they have a complete person register over everyone in Sweden, so you should look her up there. They can tell you if she still lives here and where, or if she's dead, or whatever." He shrugged and handed the slip of paper to Harry. "You need to show them that thing."

"Oh, thank you! That's very helpful." Harry smiled at him. "Do you have an address for the tax centre?"

"I can look it up for you on the computer on the way out."

***


Friday
8th September, 2006
Älvsjö (Stockholm), in front of what is presumably Rosa's house


"Should've have called in advance?" Harry asked, looking down the driveway at the house. It was built in white brick and white painted wood, the wooden part seemingly a part of the house that was added later. It was small and unassuming, but the windows were ornate, the garden was spacey and there was a terrace that went from the side of the house to the back; it looked rather homey, and if he had to say it, Swedish.

"You were the one who didn't want to scare her off," Malfoy pointed out. Harry conceded.

"We can't forget that she is technically still a suspect," Harry said. "She's got the last pieces of the puzzle and they might not be as innocent as we want them to be."

"Mhh," Malfoy agreed. He then turned to look at Harry. "So?" He raised an eyebrow and gestured towards the house. "After you?"

Harry narrowed his eyes at him, but stalked up to the front door. Malfoy followed him at a more sedate pace. There was a knocker on the door in brass shaped like a lion's head. Harry lifted the knocker and brought it down on the door hard, once, then twice.

There was an ominous feeling in his gut he couldn't quite shake, though he couldn't tell if it was because the case was nearing its end or because it wasn't going to have the end he was hoping for. Not that he had any way of knowing how it was going to end, the facts added up to a conclusion he was certain of, provided everyone had spoken the truth.

They had. It was just a thing he was certain of.

Malfoy nudged him and Harry straightened up. There was a small sound on the other side of the door and then it opened to reveal an elderly lady too pale and blue-eyed to be Rosa.

"Ahhh," Harry said. "We are looking for Rosa Honeybourne? Does she live here?"

The lady looked between both of them, clearly confused. It occurred to Harry that she may not speak English.

"Rosa?" he tried again.

"Rosa," the woman repeated, although she pronounced it differently. Harry nodded uncertainly. "Yes!" she said and turned around, leaving them on the doorstep. They heard her call out to someone and Harry thought he caught Rosa's name in the flurry of Swedish.

"Should we…?" He nodded towards the door, but Malfoy shook his head.

"Wait till she comes back," he instructed.

The sound of conversation reached them, however blurrily, and soon two figures made their way to the door. There was the lady from before, and another elderly woman who Harry thought must be Rosa. She carried a striking similarity to Marcus.

"Hello," Harry said. "Are you Rosa Honeybourne?"

"I am she," Rosa replied, enunciating clearly. An air of apprehension hung over her.

Harry cleared his throat. "I'm Auror Harry Potter and this is my partner, Draco Malfoy. Do you mind if we ask you some questions?"

And then the weirdest thing happened; Rosa's face crumpled and she leaned on the doorjamb heavily for a second. Then she composed herself, stood up straight and proud and drew in a deep breath. "If you're here to arrest me, I will go willingly." The other woman gave her a concerned look, but said nothing.

Malfoy's eyebrows rose in surprise and Harry... well, he stared.

"We're not here to arrest you," Malfoy told her gently. "If, however, it turns out there is something to arrest you for, then we will. Why don't we talk first?"

Rosa gazed at them, but then seemed to come to a decision. "Yes. We will talk. Please come inside - this is my wife, Saga," she said, then said something in Swedish. Harry assumed she was repeating her words for Saga's benefit; it was now confirmed that she did not speak English.

"Hello, Saga," Malfoy said pleasantly and shook her hand. Harry did the same, taking his cues from Malfoy. He was unsettled, and the language barrier was only making him feel even more out of his element.

They were lead to a sitting room with wooden walls and large windows, overlooking the garden. There was a swing in a tree, Harry noted, and a white garden shed in the same style as the house. Rosa gestured for them to sit, said a few words to Saga, who then left them alone.

"Saga will bring us something to drink," Rosa said. "I'm afraid we have no tea as neither of us likes it very much, but we made juice and pie from the apples in the garden yesterday." Her English sounded funny - or not funny, exactly, but she sounded like she'd not spoken English in a very long time. Some of the words were faintly accented.

"That's all right," Harry said quickly, drawing out his notebook. He glanced at Malfoy, but he seemed okay despite the lack of tea. "I, ahh…"

"Why don't we wait with the questions until after the refreshments have been brought to the table?" Malfoy suggested, elbowing Harry subtly. "You have a very lovely home, Mrs Honeybourne - or should I say Dubois?"

"I haven't gone by that name for a long time," Rosa answered. "Honeybourne is fine, but please call me Rosa. I have grown used to being addressed by my given name."

"Very well, Rosa." Malfoy smiled charmingly. Rosa relaxed visibly, smiling back to him.

Harry was suddenly very grateful that Malfoy was with him on this case. It was Malfoy's charm and intuitive understanding of social situations that had enabled them to not only speak to their witnesses, but also extract the information they needed without having to resort to magical means or devices. Rosa was skittish; she was clearly worried and was expecting them to arrest her. Harry was reserving judgment until after he'd heard her version of events, but it was clear to him that Malfoy was going to be of crucial importance. If he could set her at ease, they were more likely to get the straight truth.

"You have a swing in the garden," Malfoy commented. "For your grandchildren?"

"For Saga's grandchildren," she corrected. "Though one could say they are just as much mine. Saga's daughter was a toddler when we met each other, and her son was in preschool." She smiled. "They are of course all adults now. The youngest grandchild just graduated from...I believe the English equivalent would be college. Around the same age as wizarding folks pass their NEWTS," she clarified, at the look of confusion on Harry's and Malfoy's faces.

"Congratulations," Malfoy said, leaning forwards in his chair, arms resting casually on his knees. Harry secretly took notes. "You must be very proud."

"I am." She smiled. Saga returned, carrying a tray with a large carafe with a golden brown liquid in it as well as generous slices of pie already on cake plates.

Malfoy grinned at the sight. "You know, this one is very fond of pie," he said, indicating Harry. Harry blushed. "Thank you very much. This looks delicious." Malfoy beamed at Saga, who smiled in return. Some things were simply universal, it seemed.

"It's a family recipe," Rosa supplied, distributing the plates.

Harry dug into his pie. "It's delicious," he said, which made her smile even more. Malfoy looked at him and somehow seemed to understand that he was given free reign to talk. Harry reckoned Malfoy may have finally learned to speak his special brand of eyebrow dance.

"We were wondering," Malfoy started, keeping his tone even and gentle, "whether we perhaps should start from the beginning? Maybe if we tell you what we know, you can fill in the blanks for us?"

Rosa nodded, her anxiety back in full force.

Malfoy gave her a reassuring smile, then grabbed the notebook from Harry's lap. He didn't need it, Harry knew he remembered every detail of the case, but this way he had somewhere to put his hands.

"We know that on the evening of eleventh July in 1941, a car with you and Julienne Honeybourne went over a cliffside and crashed in the sea. Julienne died and you disappeared." Malfoy looked up from the notebook. "The Muggle authorities, or perhaps local gossip, said the car was faulty. Is this true?"

"No." Rosa shook her head. "I don't think so." She shook her head again. "I was driving, did you know that? Julie didn't know how to, and Marcus had taught me. I lost control of the car. I was angry and upset and suddenly we were going the wrong way...I saw the cliffside, but I panicked. I lost control, I couldn't stop it from going over."

Harry observed her quietly, plate of pie sitting on his lap. Rosa was upset, but it was a decades old upset that was coming over her; one that she'd already processed. It didn't make the hurt any less real, he guessed.

"Julie and I both had our wands with us. Julie was faster than me and had her shield charm up before I did. I don't know what went wrong. Maybe her charm was weaker. Maybe she bounced off the shield. Next thing I knew was that the car was broken into pieces and there was water all around us, and Julie had her wand through her throat." Rosa closed her eyes, drawing in another deep breath. Her hands shook minutely. "I was unharmed. Julie was...dead. It was dark and I remember thinking, and it was so strange, but I remember thinking that it was so odd that in the dark the blood had the same colour as the sea."

"I'm sorry," Malfoy offered quietly. "That must've been a terrible thing to go through."

Rosa set her hands on her thighs, holding them still. Malfoy took the carafe with juice and poured her a glass. He handed it to her and then poured himself and Harry a glass of juice as well.

"Thank you," Rosa said. "It was terrible. I will never forget that night so long as I live." She took a sip of the juice, but didn't put the glass back on the table, and instead cradled it in her hands. "Marcus and I had fought that evening. I don't remember what the first argument was about, but I was angry already when I went to see Julie at the ball. Do you know about the ball?" she paused to look at them. When Harry and Malfoy both nodded, she continued. "Marcus came to find me there. We fought again. I know that he was only trying to look out for me, and Julie too, even if he didn't approve of our relationship, but I was young and angry."

"You shouldn't blame yourself for what happened," Malfoy told her. "It was an accident." He regarded her, the look on his face that of contemplation, then continued. "When one is angry, afraid, upset… We do things we regret later. Our judgment is impaired. We don't see clearly. What happened," he said, looking into her eyes, "was an accident. You mustn't blame yourself for it; you weren't in control."

Harry swallowed, his throat tight, and quickly took a sip of juice to make the pie slide down easier. He knew what Malfoy said was true; could even think of quite a few instances to which his words applied. Maybe Malfoy wasn't thinking of the same ones, but Harry felt shame burning in his gut. The war was long over, but some things would never be forgotten.

"It is very kind of you to say that." Rosa spoke up. "I was driving the car and I should've known better. I should've let Marcus take us home. I should've cast protego over both of us. I should've… I should've done so many things differently that night."

"It was an accident," Malfoy said, his tone gentle. "Could you tell us what happened next?"

Rosa nodded. She sipped her juice, then looked up. "I was in the water, inside the car, and Julie was dead. I was...I was so upset at first that I didn't know what to do. I knew I couldn't go back home. I didn't want to see Marcus ever again, and Julie was dead, so I didn't want to stay at all. I had one good friend, a girl I knew I could trust. She's a Muggle, but very sweet, we grew up together and she knew about magic. I apparated to her house. How I didn't splinch myself is still a mystery to me…"

"Sarah?" Malfoy asked.

"Yes. Did you speak with her?"

"Yes we did. She's alive and well." He smiled. Rosa nodded, seemingly relieved.

"Sarah, bless her heart, didn't ask any questions. She gave me some dry clothes - at that point I was so upset I couldn't remember how to perform a simple drying charm - and some Muggle money. I...said goodbye. And then I walked to Wool. It's a five mile walk, and the night was balmy, I remember that. I caught the first train away. I got off in one of the port towns, I don't remember which anymore, and got on a ferry. I disguised myself with magic when I could and probably broke a couple of laws that way, and finally made my way to Sweden."

They were quiet, all three of them, for a while. Harry looked at Malfoy, Malfoy looked at Rosa, and Rosa looked at her glass of homemade juice. The sun shone through the windows, painting the room in gold and warmth and Harry thought that it looked so out of place.

This was no happy chat.

"Rosa," Harry said, finally speaking up. "Your case…" He cleared his throat, not quite sure how to say what he wanted to say. "It was quite complicated, and I appreciate your honesty. The case can finally be solved and closed for good."

"Are you going to arrest me?" she asked and Harry was so startled he was lost for words.

"No," Malfoy answered for him.

"But…"

"You didn't kill Julienne," Harry said. "And if a couple of laws were broken when you fled the country, I think that can be forgiven. We won't press charges." He gave her a small smile. "Your case was a missing person's case with a couple of loose ends. You are no longer a missing person and we have confirmation that Julienne's death was an accident. Your name and your brother's name are cleared."

"My brother's?" She frowned. "Why would his name not be clear?"

"You must understand, that your brother was a suspect in your and Julienne's murder case."

"Harsh, Potter," Malfoy said.

"Sorry." Harry took the notebook back from Malfoy. "Obviously your brother didn't kill you, and he also didn't kill Julienne, so all's good."

"Oh," Rosa said. "Oh."

"He sends his regards," Malfoy said. "He wanted me to tell you that he's sorry. I believe he wants to reconcile with you."

"Marcus?" Rosa shook her head. "I'm sorry. It's been quite a day."

"I understand." Malfoy gave her a sympathetic smile. "He still lives by Scratchy Bottom, in your old family home, as I've understood it to be. If you want to contact him again."

"Thank you." Rosa put her glass away, then reached forwards to clasp Malfoy's hands in hers. "Thank you."

Malfoy only smiled. It was a warm, affectionate smile, and Harry...wasn't jealous, exactly. No, the feeling in his gut was something else entirely.

"Rosa, if you don't mind," Harry started, "could I ask you to give us your statement? I have a Quick-Quill with me for the purpose, if you'd rather not write it down yourself. It's all we need to close the case."

***


Friday
8th September, 2006
Stockholm, their hotel room


The sun was setting when Harry and Malfoy made it back to the hotel. It painted the inside of the room red, pink and orange, and the sun gleamed off the polished headboard of Harry's bed.

He threw himself onto the bed face down.

"Want me to order food up while we do the paperwork?" Malfoy asked, staring down at Harry. Harry knew Malfoy was staring at him, he could feel his eyes on him.

"Can't we do it later?"

"If we're quick, we can be back in London by ten," Malfoy pointed out. Harry had to admit that it sounded tempting.

"Don't want to spend another night in a hotel with me?" Harry asked, rolling over onto his back and folding his hands behind his head. He winked suggestively.

"I'm afraid if we do I might not be able to control myself," Malfoy said, his eyes sweeping over Harry's body. Harry reddened, not quite sure if Malfoy was joking or not. The look in his eyes seemed genuine, but his tone was extremely dry. Maybe a bit of both. "Also, you snore."

Harry snorted. Joke, then. "Right back at you," he said. "Well, bring it on. Let's get this done."

Malfoy picked up the phone and had pizza brought up. Like the evening before, they sat on Malfoys bed - Harry maintained it was because Malfoy's bed was pushed against the wall, so he could lean against it and be comfortable, but really he was just excited about sitting on Malfoy's bed.

It was also comfier.

Aside from the parchment sometimes straying a little too close to the pizza box and catching a few red grease stains, the evening progressed without incident and without comment.

"What are your plans for the weekend?" Harry asked, when about an hour and half had passed and he felt both sated and restless. The silence, except for the scratch of quills against parchment, was getting to him.

"Mmh, none that matter," Malfoy answered, not looking up. Harry could've sworn there was a hint in there somewhere. Maybe. "Why?"

"Just thought we might have drinks after," Harry said, attempting a careless shrug. "If you want, that is."

"What, tonight?" This time Malfoy looked up, his brow furrowed. He didn't look confused, exactly, Harry said to himself, more like intrigued and, okay, confused.

"Yeah."

Malfoy studied him. "Are you asking me out?"

"Yes," Harry answered, then his brain caught up with his mouth. "No! I mean - I just thought it would be nice. Have drinks, celebrate the closing of the case." Harry attempted a casual shrug. "Just drinks? When we get back to London?"

"Sure. Yes, I'll have a drink with you." Malfoy gave him a smile. "Finish your paperwork first or we won't get going at all."

"We could get drinks in the hotel bar if it came to that," Harry pointed out, but received only a stern look from Malfoy. "Okay! Drinks in London, it's cool, I'm on it."

The paperwork was wrapped up at exactly seventeen minutes past nine, and their suitcases were packed three minutes later, and they were on their way to the portkey office, weaving through Muggles on their way out for a night in town.

"I know this nice place in Muggle London," Harry said as they waited for the staff to activate their portkey. "It's quiet, there's a pool table, decent beer on tap…"

"And private?" Malfoy asked, knowingly.

"Well, I haven't yet met another wizard or witch in there," Harry answered. "I used to go there a lot just after the war, before I started going to the Golden Hind. But it's really nice, I swear."

Malfoy chuckled. "I believe you."

Harry opened his mouth to say something, but the portkey activated and his words were swallowed by the vacuum. He stumbled and nearly toppled over his suitcase when they touched ground in London, but managed to not fall over.

The bastard Malfoy had of course managed to go through the entire portkey experience with not a single hair out of place.

"You were saying?" Malfoy said and Harry, seeing an out when it was put right in front of him, took it and ran with it.

"I'll side-along you," he said, offering Malfoy his hand. Malfoy smiled, but instead of taking Harry's hand, he crowded close to him and snaked his arm around Harry's waist.

"How gentlemanly of you," Malfoy said, close to Harry's ear. "Are you sure you can get us there safely?"

"Positive," Harry replied, putting his hand on Malfoy's shoulder. He looked straight into Malfoy's eyes, and then grinned, unable to keep the low, bubbling happiness in his belly away. This was what he wanted, though he hadn't wanted to say as much; as far as he knew, Malfoy and Benjy were still a thing, even if they were having a spat of sorts. Maybe. Harry didn't technically know if they had a spat; that was all conjecture on his part. "Hold on tight."

The alley was dark and their suitcases scraped against the ground. This time Harry might've stumbled a little on purpose, only to get closer to Malfoy, feel the press of his body against his own. Malfoy's breath was hot on his cheek and Harry turned, just so, so that if Malfoy turned his head -

ep5b


"Is that a person?" Malfoy asked sharply and drew away. Harry'd drawn his wand within seconds, ready to perform a memory charm if need be, and whirled around.

It was indeed a person, but it was an unmoving one. Harry took stock of their surroundings and performed a quiet homenum revelio, muttered under his breath. It revealed nothing but the two of them and the person on the ground, and the street beyond the alley was quiet. Next to him, Malfoy also performed a spell, but he seemed to draw a blank as well.

"The area's clear," Harry said, stepping over to the person.

It was a man, looking to be in his sixties or seventies, and he was...strangely underdressed, wearing only trousers, shoes and an undershirt. Harry crouched and felt for a pulse, but found none and the man's skin was cold to the touch. Harry ran his wand over him quickly, but the man was still as dead as he'd seemed the moment before.

"Dead body," Harry informed Malfoy, who'd stepped up next to Harry. He was looking down at the body with a mixture of disgust and intrigue.

"What'd he die from?" he asked curiously. "Want me to check?"

"Not yet." Harry checked his pockets for a wand. There was no wand, but there was a wallet and inside the wallet there was a Muggle driving licence and ID card. There were also a credit card and a library card and an unmoving photograph. "The man's a Muggle."

Harry put the things back into the wallet and the wallet back into the man's pocket. Just as he was about to stand, he noticed something on his upper arm, and leaned closer for a better look. There were marks on his arm that looked a lot like the ones he'd seen on Wilfing's body. They looked a lot like puncture wounds.

"Crap," Harry said and stood up. He turned towards Malfoy. "I, uh," he said, running a hand through his hair. "I need to call this in to the muggle police; I think this is a murder case."

Malfoy narrowed his eyes at him. "That's not all, is it?"

"Well, no," Harry admitted. "I'd like to stay behind, under the Cloak, see what becomes of this. I've got a suspicion… I want to hang around for a little while, watch the proceedings." He gave Malfoy a sheepish smile. "Can we do a raincheck on the drinks?"

"Are you serious?"

"Yes. I'm sorry," Harry said. "I really am. But this is important too."

Malfoy huffed. "If that's what you want." He glared at Harry.

Harry felt a stone drop in his stomach. "I'm really sorry, Draco," he said. "We'll have drinks later, tomorrow maybe…"

"I'll see you, Potter," Malfoy said and grabbed his suitcase. Then he was gone.


TO BE CONTINUED NEXT WEEK...

Date: 2013-10-04 08:28 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] iwao.livejournal.com
Oh no!! Not again! Leaving us hanging like that is just cruel!! And when I thought Harry and Draco were heading towards... something! This is so good, the plots, the drawings, the slow getting together. I'm absolutely loving it. Thank you! <3

Date: 2013-11-18 09:24 pm (UTC)
nerakrose: drawing of balfour from havemercy (Default)
From: [personal profile] nerakrose
I'm sorry for leaving you hanging! Though I hope you agree it gets better in the end ;D

^^

Date: 2013-10-04 09:38 pm (UTC)
gracerene: (Default)
From: [personal profile] gracerene
just keeps getting better! I loved Malfoy in this one, his ever changing moods and getting to see a few more sides to him!

Date: 2013-11-18 09:24 pm (UTC)
nerakrose: drawing of balfour from havemercy (Default)
From: [personal profile] nerakrose
Thank you! :)

Date: 2013-10-04 09:55 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] helenadax.livejournal.com
Oh, damn! I understand why Harry wanted to know what was going on with that body, but now Draco's angry :(

It was a great chapter and I love to see the way their relationshiop is growing. Harry looked pretty smitten this time ^^ And I wonder why Draco was in a bad mood.

Date: 2013-11-18 09:25 pm (UTC)
nerakrose: drawing of balfour from havemercy (Default)
From: [personal profile] nerakrose
I know, poor boys <3

Thank you! Shouldn't Harry's default state with Draco be smitten? XD And I hope you found out why Draco was in a bad mood ;D

Date: 2013-10-04 10:45 pm (UTC)
capitu: (Default)
From: [personal profile] capitu
Oh, COME ON! Harry! ^^ He really needs to sort our his priorities. ^^

Really though, another intriguing case with lovely, beautiful.

I loved the banter and the teasing here. They were officially flirting! <3 But that ending nearly killed me! :D

Amazing work, people. Thank you! I can't wait for next week. :)

Date: 2013-11-18 09:25 pm (UTC)
nerakrose: drawing of balfour from havemercy (Default)
From: [personal profile] nerakrose
He really does, doesn't he? :D

Thank you! Glad you liked it. :)

Date: 2013-10-04 11:22 pm (UTC)
eidheann_writes: (Default)
From: [personal profile] eidheann_writes
gah!

Noooo! *flail*

I'm glad Harry has an idea on the case side, because he's got NONE on Draco.

(Loved this. Everything was touching and wonderful. And I love Parvati lovelvovelove)

Date: 2013-11-18 09:26 pm (UTC)
nerakrose: drawing of balfour from havemercy (Default)
From: [personal profile] nerakrose
*flails with you tbh*

HahahahahaYES that's spot on. :D

(Thank you! I had such fun writing Parvati <3)

Date: 2013-10-05 06:46 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] khalulu.livejournal.com
Aarg, what bad timing to interrupt a date! Really enjoyed the OCs and Sweden. And Harry being excited to sit on Draco's bed.

Sad for the young lesbian lovers. I'm glad Rosa found a good life in Sweden with Saga.

Date: 2013-11-18 09:26 pm (UTC)
nerakrose: drawing of balfour from havemercy (Default)
From: [personal profile] nerakrose
Totally bad timing :D Glad you liked it ^^

Yes <3

Date: 2013-11-19 05:57 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] khalulu.livejournal.com
Oh, it's you, writing the Scandinavian goodness! Okay, I'm going to friend you now, hope that's okay. I feel quite sure you don;t know me in real life.

Date: 2013-11-19 08:23 am (UTC)
nerakrose: drawing of balfour from havemercy (Default)
From: [personal profile] nerakrose
Haaha yeah, that'd be me XD I can't resist. There was the time I wrote an epic R/S fic that started in Greenland and ended in Norway (with some stopovers in England, Makedonia and Babylon)... But yes, feel free to friend me. :D I'll friend you back. :D

Date: 2013-10-05 10:37 am (UTC)
nerakrose: drawing of balfour from havemercy (Default)
From: [personal profile] nerakrose
ohh, i love the drawing of them in sarah's living room with draco's hair sticking up in the back :D well done. but the last one is pretty too. silhouettes <3

Date: 2013-10-09 08:04 pm (UTC)
birdsofshore: (Default)
From: [personal profile] birdsofshore
This case was full of twists and turns! It was satisfying to watch them unravel it.

I love the art of them standing by the car. Harry's face in profile is so handsome, and I love Draco's clothes. This went so nicely with this description which I really enjoyed:

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?

The art of Draco with his hair mussed at the back - HAH! Perfection. Love the pictures and decor, too.

I'm enjoying Parvati, and the trip to Sweden was great. The flirting in the hotel was verrrrrry interesting. And LOL at

Harry maintained it was because Malfoy's bed was pushed against the wall, so he could lean against it and be comfortable, but really he was just excited about sitting on Malfoy's bed.

I definitely like the boys' growing closeness, but a bit concerned about Benjy. I am guessing he and Draco have split up, but I am uneasy about Harry and Draco getting together until this is confirmed?

I really enjoyed the cliffhanger. Hah! Make us wait for it. The sketchy art from the alleyway was very atmospheric, nice work!

Date: 2013-11-18 09:27 pm (UTC)
nerakrose: drawing of balfour from havemercy (Default)
From: [personal profile] nerakrose
Thank you! :D Seems like Harry being excited about sitting on Malfoy's bed was a real hit XD

Date: 2013-10-13 08:21 pm (UTC)
ext_90630: (Default)
From: [identity profile] nonajf.livejournal.com
Ah Harry! Not smooth, though I suppose Draco will have to learn to love that about you - or at least tolerate and accept it.

Date: 2013-11-18 09:28 pm (UTC)
nerakrose: drawing of balfour from havemercy (Default)
From: [personal profile] nerakrose
When have you seen Harry be smooth let's be real :D Thanks for commenting ^^

Date: 2013-10-14 07:04 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] serilla.livejournal.com
Oh Harry - what are you doing. Tell Draco what you think is going on with the dead muggle. Great story that gets better and better. :)

Date: 2013-11-18 09:28 pm (UTC)
nerakrose: drawing of balfour from havemercy (Default)
From: [personal profile] nerakrose
Silly Harry :D Thank you ^^

Date: 2013-10-15 01:30 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] fantasyfiend09.livejournal.com
Because of course something would have to interrupt their sort-of-date before it even began! Sigh. I'm excited by the puncture wounds, even if the timing was poor.

I loved the tragic story of Rosa and the new life she made with Saga. The whole tale was very moving.

Parvati was adorable and I do hope she helps guide these idiots together. I think they might need assistance, even though they were doing pretty well pre-corpse. She clearly knows what had Draco in a funk. Harry and Draco's banter is so enticing. I loved Harry bribing a good mood out of Draco with tea.

The art is so great! Just when I think the story can't get better, there are wonderful illustrations and I feel so incredibly spoiled by this whole community!

Date: 2013-11-18 09:29 pm (UTC)
nerakrose: drawing of balfour from havemercy (Default)
From: [personal profile] nerakrose
Hahahaha of course :D

And Parvati is a goddess, for putting up with both of them. <3 Thank you ^^

Date: 2013-10-21 02:41 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] icmezzo.livejournal.com
Another great episode! I loved that you included a lesbian couple in the mix, by the way, even if young love ended in tragedy. Harry's pie consumption was a fun touch and it's good to see Harry starting to realize what he wants with Draco, even if his priority is clearly still work, as shown by his move at the very end. I wonder if he'll begin to reprioritize in the coming episodes...

Date: 2013-11-18 09:30 pm (UTC)
nerakrose: drawing of balfour from havemercy (Default)
From: [personal profile] nerakrose
Thank you! I'm so sorry about the tragedy, but I like to think that Rosa got a real fairytale happy end with Saga despite of it ^^

Date: 2013-11-09 09:00 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] omi-ohmy.livejournal.com
I really enjoyed the layers to the story, the way the overarching story and themes blended with the individual mystery. This was a lovely bittersweet tale, perfect for bringing out the developing mutual respect between Harry and Draco, along with old regrets and reflections on the past. I always enjoy older characters looking back on their youth, and that was done beautifully. Most of all though, the romantic on me thrilled that Harry had become so quietly sure of his interest in Draco. Just lovely. :)

Date: 2013-11-18 09:31 pm (UTC)
nerakrose: drawing of balfour from havemercy (Default)
From: [personal profile] nerakrose
Thank you! I'm glad you liked it :D

Date: 2013-11-11 05:21 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] dark0feenix.livejournal.com
Finally they are getting somewhere and then Harry decides to investigate a murder. :( Anyway, loved the flirting and the pretty art!

Date: 2013-11-18 09:31 pm (UTC)
nerakrose: drawing of balfour from havemercy (Default)
From: [personal profile] nerakrose
Wouldn't be them if they didn't get interrupted, eh? XD Thank you. :)

Date: 2013-11-25 07:10 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] micehellhpdm.livejournal.com
I need more!!!! Good story!