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Episode number and title: Episode #6: Whose Bodies?
Episode writer: [livejournal.com profile] raitala
Episode editor: [livejournal.com profile] blamebrampton
Episode summary: Bodies and missing persons are starting to stack up. Never mind old cold cases, someone needs to start sorting things out. It’s time to start looking for new angles. Maybe Detective Inspector Iris Bustamant of the Metropolitan Police can help? Draco is not happy. Is he just sulking or does he have a point?


“I don’t fucking believe it!” Harry slammed through the Auror office, causing Simon Finknottle to let out a little shriek and drop a rack of scrolls.

Draco was lounging in the doorway of the Auror office as he watched Harry storm up the corridor.

“Looking fetchingly furious, Potter. What’s up?”

“Bloody Dawlish!”

“What’s he done now?”

“He’s put a veto on the lead into the body in the alley! I even filled in all those bloody forms properly and nothing! Neither Ron nor Robards know anything about it! It’s not even on the files for the investigation! They’ve got next to no leads on Wilfing or Opal Leach and a perfectly good body with those same bloody marks on it turns up and Dawlish has suppressed it!” Harry fumed.

“Why?” asked Draco, reasonably.

“What?”

“Why has Dawlish suppressed the lead?”

“I don’t bloody care, but I’m going into his office to unsuppress it now!”

“Oy,” shouted Morris Bones over the screen of his cubicle, “don’t go pissing him off Harry. I need him to sign my extra leave forms!”

Draco grinned wickedly and, taking a moment to enjoy the view of Harry’s striding, cloak snapping anger, followed in Harry’s slipstream as he stormed off to Dawlish’s office. With a polite nod to Parvati Patil, he stood just inside the outer office door listening in an entirely transparent manner. Parvati also rose from her desk to listen as Harry furiously outlined his objections to Dawlish’s decision not to follow up the Muggle body.



“What do those forms exist for, sir, if we never consider looking into parallel Muggle police investigations?”

Dawlish’s rumbling response could only just be made out, citing resources and the altered state of Wizarding security in the post-war era. “It’s not safe. We had enough trouble concealing our existence from the Muggle police during the war. I’m not damn well announcing ourselves to them now over one dead Muggle!”

“I’m not asking you to do that , sir! I know there is precedent for discrete joint investigation. I filled out the forms.”

Both their voices were raised now and a couple more Aurors had drifted in to join Parvati and Draco listening.

“Well, we don’t do it anymore!” thundered Dawlish.

“That’s just not good enough!” Harry shouted back. “The Wilfing/Leach investigation is totally stalled. This is a vital new lead. What is more, if we have a murderer operating across both the Magical and Muggle worlds it would be completely irresponsible of us to ignore the Muggle side of the investigation.”

“Are you questioning how I run this department?”

“If you choose to look at it like that! Are you going to reconsider your stance on making inquiries into this case?”

“No I’m bloody not, you insubordinate little shit!”

“Then I’m going to Kingsley. I’m sorry, but this is just too important to let go.”

Everyone but Draco made a token effort to look as if they hadn’t been standing around listening as Dawlish’s office door was thrown open and Harry strode out.

Behind Harry’s back, a hum of chatter immediately broke out as Aurors discussed the latest blow up and Bones bemoaned his chance of getting his extra leaved signed off for at least a week. Only Draco trailed after him, curious to see if he was actually going to storm into the Minister for Magic’s offices and demand an interview.

It turned out that he was and – which Draco couldn’t help finding extremely irritating – he was granted one.

*

“Harry,” said Kingsley, when Harry had finished giving voice to his dissatisfaction with the situation in the Auror department. “Do you think I keep Dawlish on as Head Auror because I think he is a perfect man for the job? Do you think, for that matter, I have Margot Trelawney head up Records and Services because I am overawed by her administrative prowess?

“You know how many valuable Wizards and Witches we lost over the course of the War, but maybe you don’t know how many more refused to come back to work within the Ministry after their experiences here.

“The Auror Department was particularly hard hit. While you were in training the department was operating at 70% staffing levels at best. I cleared out those Aurors who faced criminal charges and those whose wartime record would have fundamentally undermined the credibility of the department. It didn’t leave me with a lot of options. You extend that reality across every department in the Ministry and maybe you will realise why the pace of change and of reform is a little slower than you would wish.

“Dawlish is not the Head Auror I would have chosen if there were other options, but there were not. He is a competent investigator and a sound administrator. He has the respect of the older and, shall we say, more traditional, Aurors in the department and is able to keep them to the new regulations and he has a good enough record to maintain the respect of younger colleagues.”

“I Know he’s not that awful, sir,” broke in Harry, “but it’s frustrating. Some of his decisions I just don’t agree with. Now he’s side-lined me I’m not even able to do what I could as Deputy Head Auror to watch out for those decisions.”

“If you think I am blind to his faults, you are wrong. But Harry, you are just 26. I know you will make a fine Head Auror and it will be one of the proudest moments of my tenure as Minister when I am able to appoint you to that post.”

At this, Harry felt something of a lump in his throat and had to look at the carpet for a bit.

“But you []are[] only 26. And you are a brilliant investigator too. Being Head Auror means hardly leaving the department, hardly leaving your office. It means monthly meetings with Barney Quiggley from the Treasury and having to argue about every hour of overtime your department claims. It means managing relations with all the departments across Magical Law Enforcement and the Ministry at large. It means carrying the responsibility not just for your case, but for every case currently under investigation and for the well-being of every Auror within the department.”

At this Harry stirred again. Kingsley held up his hand. “Just a moment more Harry. It is not that I don’t believe you can carry these responsibilities. Well, maybe not the not shouting one.” And he smiled at Harry in such a fond paternal manner that Harry had to look at the carpet again.

“It’s that I don’t want you to. Not until I judge that the Wizarding World cannot do without you in that role. I want you to do your job, spectacularly, as you do, but then I want you to be able to go home, have a meal out with friends, a game of pick-up Quidditch on the weekend, fly, as far as it is possible for you to fly, beneath the media radar and to have something of the life a 26 year old man should have. I want you to go on dates. You do go on dates, don’t you Harry?”

At this Harry turned a bright red colour and looked up at the ceiling instead.

“Anyway, Harry, as it is I fear it will not be that long before my hand is forced. I agree with you on this issue. We need to revisit department policy on liaison with the Muggle authorities on crimes that cross jurisdictions. Dawlish is right. All that fell into chaos during the first war and hasn’t really been reinstated.

“I don’t know,” said Kingsley, musing, “I’ll have to look up some of the contacts I made in the MoD during the war. It’s always difficult, you know, broaching the subject of Magic.”

“If it’s any help, I know a Muggle police office, a Detective Inspector I think she was, who knows about us already. Her dad’s a Squib. He was a police officer too, involved with the Sirius case.”

“Hmm,” said Kingsley, “that could make things somewhat easier. I’ll see what I can do. Dawlish isn’t going to like this though and your working relationship is going to be under even more strain. I’m going to have to ask you, Harry, to do what you can to work with Dawlish until such times as I judge it unavoidable to appoint you in his place. Do you think you can do that for me?”

“Yes, sir, I’ll try,” said Harry, “and, er, thanks, for, um, explaining everything like you have. I appreciate it.”

Harry hoped that Kingsley could tell that he meant that he appreciated his kindness too. Judging by the way Kingsley came round the desk to give him a hug when he rose to leave, he did.

*

It was only a couple of days later when Harry and Draco got a note through from Kingsley that they were to meet DI Iris Bustamant by the north end of the Blue Bridge in St James’s Park.

“Why in Merlin’s name are we meeting her in the park?” asked Draco incredulously.

“Says here that Kingsley’s predecessors recommended making first contact in a neutral location. Something about establishing the parameters of the cooperative relationship before the Muggle officer is overwhelmed by the flying memos and the Aurors are distracted by the coffee machines and computers.

“We’d better take along some of the basics of the Wilfing/Leach investigation. I’ll go and grab a copy from Ron. Meet you in the Atrium,” said Harry. “At least it’s a miserable day. The park will be quiet.”

Harry was right, and apart from a few determined groups of tourists with their anorak hoods tightly cinched around their faces the park was relatively quiet. Iris stood beneath an umbrella in a raincoat and sensible shoes at the appointed meeting place. She had a look of solidity about her that suggested that she was also wearing a stab vest under her mac.

“Detective Inspector Bustamant, nice to meet you again,” said Harry, holding out his hand, which Iris shook.

“Harry Potter, Draco Malfoy,” said Iris nodding, “I’m afraid I don’t know your official titles.”

“I’m Auror Potter and he’s Unspeakable Malfoy, but please just call me Harry,” Harry replied.

Iris tried unsuccessfully to suppress a snort of laughter. “Seriously,” she said, turning to Draco, “that’s your job title? Is that not, like a pun, where you’re from?”

Draco smiled wryly. “It is and yes, as you’ll probably gather if we end up working together more, the Magical world does tend to favour a somewhat juvenile sense of humour from time to time. But, you can call me Draco too,” and they shook hands.

“And call me Iris. Wait, you’re all dry?” Iris observed.

“Yes, it’s an Impervious charm,” said Harry, “we can extend it to you if you like?”

“Won’t that look weird?” asked Iris.

“Well, we can add a Disillusionment charm on top of that, so no one will really notice us,” said Draco.

Iris took a deep breath. “I’m going to have to get used to all this, aren’t I? OK, go ahead.”

Harry cast the charms and they began to walk slowly towards Horse Guards Parade. Harry outlined his hunch regarding Wilfing and Opal Leach and showed Iris some pictures of Wilfing’s body, which, mercifully for Iris’ magical learning curve, were not moving, on account of Wilfing being dead.

“We’ll need to examine the body you have, to be sure,” said Draco.

“I’m afraid I’m going to have to see the remains of Wilfing and Leach first,” replied Iris. “My orders were very clear. I’m to be 100% sure that this requires joint investigation before I let things proceed any further. You can imagine that whoever sanctioned this on my end is really hoping it will all turn out to be a mistake and we can all go back to knowing that magic doesn’t exist.”

“All right,” said Harry, “we’ll take you along to see our side of things first.”

“It would be much quicker to just let me see your corpse though,” interjected Draco. “We could just sneak in. You know we have ways of not being noticed.”

“No. I am not compromising the security of the station unless absolutely necessary, ” Iris replied firmly.

“But we aren’t a security risk!” expostulated Draco.

Iris looked at him levelly. “Oh yes you are. I’m not a child, to be won over with little tricks like not getting wet in the rain. I have some idea of what those sticks you carry can do. Things I wheedled out of my little cousins when they were staying with us. When they couldn’t go back to their school because their dad was a normal man, not a wizard.”

Draco paled and got the same frozen look on his face as he had when the Longbottoms had refused him entry to their home.

“I know you just want to help,” said Iris, “but we’re already talking about the potential that one of your lot has been offing people from my side. I’ve been detailed to oversee this liaison, assess if it is vitally necessary and ensure that it is progressed with the minimum threat to civilians or fellow officers.”

“What do you mean people?” interjected Harry. “Are we talking about more than one murder here?”

“We could be talking about more than one body connected to this crime. I’ll tell you about it more when I’ve seen yours, OK?”

“OK,” Harry conceded reluctantly. “Do you want us to Apparate you there? That means I take hold of your arm and …”.

“I know. My dad told me. And no thanks, I don’t like the sound of that,” interrupted Iris. “Can’t we go a normal way?”

“Well we can walk and use one the concealed Ministry entrances. The nearest one is disguised as a public lavatory. You have to climb into the toilet bowl and you’ll arrive in the Ministry Atrium,” explained Harry.

“Climb into a toilet?”

“Yeah, well, you know what Draco said earlier about the Magical sense of humour. I’m afraid he wasn’t kidding.”

Iris laughed and took a deep breath. “Apparation it is then. How bad can it be!?”

Judging by the grey tinge to Iris’ complexion when she found her feet in the Atrium, it was pretty bad.

Her slightly wild, wide-eyed, “Holy. Shit. You mean all this is under Whitehall?” “Holy shit, what are those?” (goblins) “Fuck me!” (flying memos) and “You guys really like purple?” convinced Harry that Kingsley’s predecessor had been right about having their preliminary meeting elsewhere.

In the presence of Wilfing’s and Opal's remains though, Iris was entirely professional, paying close attention as the body was displayed. She questioned Mediwizard Barnes about the condition of the corpse and once they had got around the differences in Muggle and Magical world pathological terminology she had indicated, grim faced, that she was ready to leave.

They went along to Harry and Draco’s rooms, where Iris had just shaken her head at the shelves of Magical paraphernalia, but accepted a cup of tea.

“It’s just normal tea, right?”

“Oh yes, quite normal,” Draco had replied, a little sharply.

“Look, I’m sorry all right,” said Iris, sharply in return. “But I am seriously outside of my comfort zone here. This,” she gestured around, “is all just pretty fucking weird and forgive me if I’m having a hard time adjusting to being in a concealed location full of oddballs who carry magical wands that I know could kill me.”

“No one’s going to hurt you,” said Draco firmly.

“Well, excuse me if I’m not entirely comfortable taking your word for it,” Iris snapped back. Draco’s head shot up and he looked away, lips thinned.

Harry shook his head. “Shit, Draco, she didn’t mean you personally! She doesn’t know anything about you.” He reached towards Draco, motivated by some urge to comfort. Realising he didn’t know what he was doing, he let his hand fall and changed the subject. “You were going to tell us about further Muggle victims? You’re convinced now, aren’t you, that there are strong indications of a connection?”

“Yeah,” said Iris, pulling herself together. “The puncture wounds, whatever they are, correspond to those found on the body of Berry. That’s the guy you found, Edward Berry. The pathology on Berry though, flagged up a number of matches with a series of unexplained deaths. All unidentified victims, until this year. Eighteen corpses, roughly matching this profile have been found in the London area since 1999. The match isn’t concrete. Only one of these other bodies had similar puncture marks, but they all exhibited similar features: poor state of health, poor nutrition, organ degradation and multiple organ failure as cause of death. They were all dumped in similar ways, with little effort made to conceal them and none of them, apart from Berry and another two this year, have matched any record for a Missing Person on UK or Interpol databases.”

“Shit!” breathed Harry.

“I wasn’t sure about the connection, because your guy, Wilfing’s cause of death, the neck, doesn’t match up, but the marks do and the poor condition of his organs and tissue. The same with Opal Leach. I think you’re going to have to come down and take a look at what we’ve got.”

“I’ll need to get some things together,” said Draco, still somewhat stiffly.

While he was gathering equipment into his leather satchel, Iris took Harry aside. “Look, I’m sorry about that. It’s just all a bit much. Is there … could we try the toilets on the way out? I didn’t really take to Apperating.”

“I can do better than that,” said Harry, smiling. “We’ve got another entrance that is a defunct telephone box and it’s nearer your station.”

“Oh, thank God!” said Iris, sagging with relief. Harry laughed and ushered the pair of them back to the Atrium.

*

From the phone box, Iris guided them over to West End Central, the station housing the murder team looking at Berry and related homicides.

Draco didn’t know what he’d expected a Muggle police station to look like, but why would paint it that dirty, yellowy-white colour? And what was that odd yellowy wood that clearly wasn’t real wood at all?

Iris flashed her ID at the uniformed officer in a glass booth and keyed in a pin code to get them through a heavy glass door beyond the public areas of the station. Why was there so much glass? Draco thought. Surely it must get broken all the time in the absence of any protective spells? He tried to suppress a shudder of unease as it slid closed behind him, sealing them inside the building.

“We’ll go up to my office first and I’ll take you onto the HOLMES terminal to review what we’ve got so far. Then we can take Draco down to the morgue for the Funny Business.” Iris missed Draco’s frown at the term as she turned to lead them upstairs.

In her office, Iris slung her stab vest over a chair and fired up her PC. “Pull up a couple of chairs. Can you see the monitor OK?”

Navigating rapidly and typing in various passwords, Iris opened up the HOLMES page for the Berry case. “In this file you can see the scene-of-crime reports on location where the body was found. Here is the pathology report for Berry. You can see the state of the corpse seems to tally with key indicators on both Wilfing and Leach. These marks here are flags to other bodies with similar path notes. They are all unidentified.”

“Who noticed the connection?” asked Draco, intrigued despite himself.

“No one did,” said Iris, “that’s what HOLMES is for. Home Office Large Major Enquiries System. Obviously someone fiddled the acronym. With this, instead of relying on an officer on one enquiry stumbling across a coincidental connection to another enquiry whilst talking shop with a friend in a pub, there is a central database into which everything, and I mean everything, pertaining to any major investigation is logged.”

“But how does it work?” asked Draco.

“I don’t know how it works exactly,” replied Iris, “I’m not a software engineer, but I know it is used to track the progress of every major investigation. The Senior Investigating officer uses it to monitor and prioritise resources. See these here, they are Actions that have been allocated to various officers on the team. This is where the chain of evidence is tracked, so nothing can go missing.”

“That is seriously amazing!” exclaimed Harry in awe.

“Yes,” said Iris enthusiastically, “and these here are nominals. That’s everyone interviewed in the course of the investigation. HOLMES can flag up if they have been logged in any other enquiry since the system was set up. It can look for parallels and similarities across all the enquiries on the system. It’s a bitch to keep feeding in the data, but it’s a major resource.”

Harry and Iris bent their heads together over the monitor and Iris took him over the case in detail, while Draco sat, apparently not listening, lost in thought. When they were done they all headed down to the morgue.

“We’ve only got Berry down here of course. They others have long since been released back to their families for burial in the case of the two we could identify, or cremated by the Local Authority, but we have DNA and tissue samples stored.”

“Let’s take a look at Berry first,” said Draco. “I’m going to need the area cleared of Muggles.”

“Why? What are you going to do,” asked Iris, immediately suspicious.

“Nothing!” replied Draco, exasperated. “I can transfigure my wand and equipment to look vaguely like electrical devices, but I’m assuming it won’t fool a Muggle expert for long. They’ll want to know what I’m doing and I can’t tell them, so you’d better get them to leave.”

“All right then.” And Iris unfolded a letter from inside her jacket. “Time to start invoking the name of the Chief Commissioner.”

Once Iris had the lab cleared, Draco was able to start his examination, with his wand transfigured into a small handheld device with buttons and a small red light.



“What’s that meant to be?” asked Iris. “It looks like a TV remote control.”

“It probably is one.” replied Harry, stifling a laugh.

“I don’t fucking know what it’s meant to be. I saw it in a shop window,” groused Draco, “so you better make sure no one comes in, OK?”

“Let’s go and talk about this somewhere else,” announced Harry hours later when Draco had finished his examination of both Berry and the frozen tissue samples that had been ordered over.

“We’ve missed lunch and I’ve spent as much time as I want to in this morgue.”

“We can go to the Burlington Arms over the road,” said Iris. “This time of day, it should be pretty quiet upstairs.”

The kitchen was closed, but the barman said he’d see what he could do and presently they were seated upstairs in a largely deserted pub dining room, with three cheese ploughman’s, two pints and a coke.

“It’s definitely a Wizard, I’m afraid,” delivered Draco as he sipped the top off his Bishops Tipple and gave a sigh of satisfaction. “This is brewed in Wiltshire, you know? Anyway, there’s no trace on Berry of the charms used to conceal the puncture marks on Wilfing and Leach, but there are clear signs of magical imprint on the body. Stomach shows trace signs of a number of similar potions too.”

Iris sucked her teeth. “So we’re definitely looking at a wizard perpetrator then. I wish I had ordered a pint now.”

“Afraid so,” affirmed Draco. “What’s more, the tissue samples you provided all, as far as I could make out, again show traces of similar potions. It’s hard to tell, the freezing process is a lot more detrimental to the sample condition than a stasis spell. I’ve duplicated some of the material and I’ll take a closer look at it in my workroom tomorrow. I’m hoping the other two Muggle victims, Teasley and Cuthbertson, haven’t been cremated.”

“Why?” said Iris, looking up.

“Because if I can get a look at those bodies we’ll have a clearer idea of what we’re dealing with.”

“We’re not getting anyone exhumed!” exclaimed Iris.

“I need to see the bodies to get a clearer idea of what happened to them and to rule them in or out of the enquiry,” reiterated Draco.

“It’s not happening,” Iris responded bluntly. “For one, we’d need Home Office sanction and we’ve got nothing that doesn’t involve Funny Business to put to them as grounds. For another thing, we’d need permission from next of kin and I’m not putting the families through that kind of trauma.”

“Not even to find out what happened to their loved ones?” Draco snapped back and Harry surreptitiously reinforced the silencing charm on their table.

“But they’re not going to find out, are they?” hissed Iris angrily, leaning over the table. “All this! Wizards! If it’s one of your lot, there isn’t going to be a trial. There isn’t going to be a conviction or any closure for the families.”

“Maybe not,” conceded Draco, “but that doesn’t mean they can’t get justice.”

“That is what I’m hoping,” said Iris, reining in her temper but remaining emphatic. “But it does mean having consideration in how the investigation is handled. I’m not going to rake it all up for them again and raise their hopes by digging up their mum or whoever, when, whether we are successful or not, they are never going to know about it.”

“They wouldn’t have to know about it. I only want a quick look.”

“No!” bit out Iris between clenched teeth. “I am not going grave robbing with you!” Turning to Harry and raising an admonitory finger, she continued, “You are not going to let him do anything like that, right!?”

“No,” said Harry, raising his hands in a placatory manner. “Just calm down, you two. Let’s just finish our lunch and then talk about what the next options are.”

Lunch was concluded in a somewhat tense silence. When he’d finished Draco drew his chair back from the table. “I’m going to head back to the office to see if I can’t get a better sense of the potions used from the samples I took. I’ll see you later, Harry. Iris.” He nodded to them both and swept out.

“Unauthorized samples,” muttered Iris, under her breath, though Harry didn’t hear her as he watched Draco leave. He wondered if he should go after him and if there was anything he could say that would ease the rigid set of Draco’s shoulders and the tight, withdrawn expression on his face.

“Um, Iris,” began Harry, but Iris just glared at him. Then she let out a deep breath.

“I’m sorry, Harry. I know these are difficult working conditions for all of us. Look, I need to fill in the Commissioner and confirm that this joint investigation will need to continue. He won’t be happy. Let’s meet for breakfast, yeah?”

“All right,” said Harry smiling ruefully. “There’s a Costa just round the corner from the telephone box, did you see it?”

“Yeah, I’ll see you there at eight. You can do your thing,” and Iris waggled her fingers, “so no one can hear us and we can all talk.”

Iris dropped a twenty pound note on the table. “You’ve got normal money haven’t you?” she queried.

“Yes. I’ll cover Draco and myself,” replied Harry. Iris turned to go. “Iris, could you … could you try not to try not to use the term normal to mean the Muggle world. It sort of implies that we’re …” and Harry gestured to himself and Draco’s vacated chair, “…abnormal.”

Iris blinked, the words “well you’re not normal” hanging unspoken in the air. She sighed again, “I don’t like the term Muggle. It sounds … pathetic, but I take your point and I’m, ah, sorry if I have been offensive.

“You’ve got to understand, there’s a big difference between knowing that Magic exists, in an abstract sort of way, and being confronted with the reality of it, like today.”

“I can understand that,” Harry replied with a nod. “Well. See you tomorrow, Iris.”

“Bye, Harry.”

*

When Harry got back to the Ministry, the door of Draco’s workroom was closed. Harry knocked. He knocked louder and hearing no reply he went in. The extractor fan roaring loudly and Draco was crouched before the Floo.

“What have we got to talk about, for Merlin’s sake?” he was saying, or rather shouting. There was a pause when, presumably, the other person replied. Harry tried to attract Draco’s attention. “Well, I don’t particularly care to,” Draco continued. “I was under the distinct impression that the termination of our relationship would mean we didn’t have to see one another! Now, leave me alone, I’m working!”

Draco slammed the connection closed and turned back to the room. “Oh, I didn’t hear you come in,” he said blandly, the anger on his face swiftly erased in favour of the still, neutral expression he had worn most of the day. That Draco should use his polite, public mask when there was only Harry in the room stung Harry more than he cared to examine.

“You and Benjy broke up?” the words were out of Harry’s mouth before he could think better of it.

“We broke up over a week ago. He seems to have rather a weak grasp of what the process entails.” Draco pulled on a pair of goggles with one magnified lens that made his right eye bulge ominously in a manner strangely reminiscent of Madeye Moody and turned away, effectively terminating the conversation.

“Um, how’s it going?” asked Harry, gesturing at the work bench.

Draco made a noncommittal grunt. Harry pulled up a tall stool. After a few minutes, Draco appeared to forget he was there. His face relaxed into a look of steady concentration, as he wove his wand. Small particles emanated from the glass vial he was holding, some of them glowing gold, others green and blue. The gold flecks were drawn up into the extractor fan, whilst Draco guided the others into further vials. Holding the first of the vials up to the light Draco peered into it, muttering an incantation and the blue light intensified. He began to send the particles sweeping from one vial to another, murmuring as he did so and watching their path intently. A small green quill danced busily over parchment, taking notes.

Harry decided he didn’t spend enough time watching Draco Malfoy work.

Finally, Draco set down the vials, removed the goggles, slumping in a stool. The energy seemed to drain out of him as his concentration relaxed. He rubbed his eyes and sighed. “Well, it’s good news for you, Potter,” he said over his shoulder.

“I thought you’d forgotten I was here?” said Harry, smiling.

“I always know when you’re here,” Draco replied. He quirked a smile, but it didn’t reach his eyes, which remained tired. “The potion combinations in Berry’s stomach are a match for those found in Wilfing and Leach. Nothing dramatic: a few sedatives, nutrition, blood replenishment. Congratulations, your hunch was right. You’ll be in on the murder enquiry, back on live cases, like you wanted.”

“You’ll be on it too,” said Harry.

“I’m not an Auror. I’ll be sent back to Mysteries and this whole sorry charade of a Cold Case Unit can be forgotten about. It was only ever about Dawlish shafting you and now you’ve neatly sidestepped that, there’s no way he can keep you mothballed here.”

“We still need you on the case,” Harry maintained.

“Well, I don’t want anything to do with it,” said Draco frowning. “I think, for once in his life, Dawlish had a point. Opening ourselves up like this to the Muggle world is too dangerous and I can do without spending my working day being treated like a freak.”

For the second time that day Harry found himself reaching out to comfort or reassure. He stuffed his hands in his pockets. He was going to have to get a hold of himself before Draco picked up on his need to pet him every time he got upset.

Instead, his voice came out a touch sharper than he meant. “There isn’t any danger and you need to understand, it’s been a hell of a day for Iris. She apologised after you’d gone. I’m sure our working relationship will get easier.”

“I’m sure it will,” Draco replied snidely and with some innuendo Harry couldn’t place. “You’ll get along better without me. All coppers together. And of course it’s fucking dangerous. You saw her reaction and she’s known about us all her life. You’ve seen her and her father, struggling to accept that there were people who could just erase memories, blow up a street, kill, with a wave of their wand.

“Who else now knows about us? Who in the Muggle Security Forces has Kingsley had to remind about us? If there wasn’t a contingency plan in place to neutralise the threat we pose, there’s one being written now. We’re looking into a case of serial homicide, perpetrated by a Wizard or Wizards on Muggle victims, for Merlin’s sake. All the cases we’ve been working on – the Statute of Secrecy leaks like a sieve. Just what do you think it would take?”

“You’re over reacting,” said Harry, but a part of him had to concede that Draco had a point.

“It’s easier for you Half Bloods. You exist in their world, you could slip back into it if you had to. There are so bloody many of them!”

“Hey,” said Harry slipping of the stool and putting his hand on Draco’s shoulder. He could feel the rigid tension of Draco’s back. “Nothing’s going to happen. That’s why we’re working with Iris, to manage things.”

“She looks at me like I’m a monster. I’m perfectly normal,” Draco protested.

“Draco, you’re not normal,” said Harry fondly, “you’re exceptional.”

Draco snorted, but a small smile, the first Harry had seen all day, began to play over his lips. Harry could practically hear Hermione’s voice in his head. “Harry James Potter, that was a line. You just used a line on Draco Malfoy!” Damned right he had and, what’s more, it seemed to have worked.

“Come for that drink we never managed,” Harry urged.

Draco let out a deep breath and looked up at the ceiling. “I could certainly use some serious application of alcohol after today!” The smile he turned on Harry then was glittering and dangerous. “Come and get wasted with me, Harry.”

“Woah,” Harry laughed happily, “I can’t get wasted, I have to meet Iris for breakfast at eight, but …”

Draco’s face had slammed closed again and he turned to gather up his things. “Well, I’ll call Blaise then. I won’t be in tomorrow. I’ve done what I can with what I’ve been permitted of the Muggle remains. It’s all in the notes. You can take it along to Longbottom if you like, but the ingredients are all fairly run of the mill, I don’t think you’ll have much luck tracing the maker.”

“Draco!” Harry appealed to Draco’s back.

“There isn’t anything more I can help you with, unless a fresh body turns up. There’s something else I want to work on before the Cold Case Unit is shut down and I’m assigned elsewhere. I’ll be over at home if you want me. Good luck with the case, Potter. See you around.”

“Draco!” But Draco had turned on the spot and vanished.

“Fuck, fuckety, fuck! Harry exhaled to the empty workroom.

*

Harry was still in a piss poor mood when he met Iris the next morning.

“No Draco this morning?”

Harry shook his head.

“And what’s the matter with you? Lover’s tiff?” Harry scowled so fiercely at this that Iris held up her hands, “Sorry, sorry! I’m just mucking about. I didn’t sleep too well myself.”

The settled themselves with their coffees round a corner table and Harry discreetly cast a Muffliato around them. Iris slide a slightly battered mobile phone over to him.

“Here. You need a way to reach me during this operation. It’s an old one of my sister’s. I’ve programmed it with my number. You just turn it on and press the down arrow, then the green phone icon, OK?”

“OK. Thanks.”

“I don’t know if it will work where there’s too much magic about. I remember my aunt telling my mum and dad there was no point buying electronic gifts for my cousins. We’ll try it though.”

Harry repeated his thanks and slid the phone into his pocket. “Draco has analysed the potions residue and he’s confirmed the traces are consistent across both Wilfing, Leach and Berry. As far as the quality of the samples allow, he’s also pretty sure they are consistent across all the others, including Teasley and Cuthbertson too.”

“All of them?” asked Iris incredulously. “That’s nineteen bodies on our side, plus Wilfing and Leach on yours!” Harry nodded.

“What the fuck’s going on Harry? Why is there only one Wizard victim?”

“We don’t know who sixteen of your bodies are,” reasoned Harry. “If you’ve got no matches across your Missing Persons files, there’s a good chance that they are Magical too.”

“If they are, then why Teasley, Cuthbertson and Berry?”

“I don’t know. I’ll get Records and Services on to it, but it won’t be fast. Our record systems are not as sophisticated as yours. It will be a real job looking for matches based on the descriptions of your unidentified corpses.”

“Not as sophisticated how?”

“Paper. Shelves and shelves of paper files.”

“Seriously?”

“They’re colour coded,” Harry offered with a shrug.

“No wonder you were so excited about HOLMES,” replied Iris, smiling.

“I’ll probably end up having to send an Auror team to go through the files. That will mean formally enlarging the Wilfing/Leach investigation team, which will mean getting it by my boss, which will basically be a giant pain in the arse. While I get the ball moving on that, I think it would also be productive if we were able to re-interview the relatives of the known victims.”

Iris frowned and Harry continued, “I know you aren’t keen on getting their hopes up and I can understand that. We can be sensitive about it. Call it a review of unresolved cases. Emphasize that we really care, but that we don’t have much hope.”

“OK, so long as we make no mention of new evidence,” said Iris. “We can play up the Family Liaison side of things. Offer counselling. Your lot can pay for that, can’t they? It’s the least you can do.”

“Yeah, we can do that.”

“We’ll need to make appointments. Let’s head into my office now,” said Iris, rising. “What’s happening with Draco? He’s a bit too posh to be convincing as Family Liaison. Or a copper for that matter.”

“He’s, um … I think he’s off the case.”

Iris paused and looked back at him. “I guess yesterday was difficult for him too. He looked almost as uncomfortable down at the station as I felt in your place.”

Harry gave her a rueful smile and shrug.

“I probably shouldn’t have told him about my Taser,” said Iris, guiltily.

“What?” said Harry, his voice rising sharply.

“It was when you left the lab to get us those teas. I think he was trying to apologise or something, because those people were killed by a Wizard. But he was mentioning my cousins too. I don’t know. He was trying to reassure me, I think, but it got on my nerves, like he was implying that non-Magical people were all helpless, vulnerable victims. That I couldn’t look after myself. I have a thing about that. Anyway, I showed him my Taser and told him that anyone pointing one of those little sticks at me was going to get zapped.”

“You did what? Wait, you’ve been issued with a Taser?”

“Well, as far as we’re concerned, you’re all carrying deadly weapons all the time. It’s just for my safety and the safety of the general public. Evens things up a bit.”

“This is supposed to be a friendly joint operation!” Harry protested.

“It is!”

Harry took a deep breath. “Is there anything else you want to tell me, in the interests of full disclosure and a harmonious working relationship?”

“In the interest of full disclosure …”, Iris bit her lip. “After I told the Commissioner about yesterday … there’s an SCO19 unit on standby for the duration of this enquiry.”

“What’s that?”

“It’s … a van full of men with guns.” Seeing Harry’s face, Iris added, “They’re highly trained. They hardly ever shoot anyone!”

The stood staring at one another in the middle of Costa.

“We need to sort this case out fast, don’t we?” said Harry finally.

“Yeah,” said Iris nodding. “We really do.”

*

The next couple of days passed quickly. Iris and Harry re-interviewed the families of the known victims, including Wilfing and Leach. Harry could detect no sign that any of the Muggles were anything other than what they seemed. It was always a depressing business interviewing the bereaved, especially when you had nothing new to offer them and your promises that you would do your utmost to bring the killer to justice rang hollow. Even if it was true, Iris was right, they would never know about it.

Harry saw no sign of Draco. He meant to go and check up on him, especially when Hermione had given him a nudge in the queue in the Ministry cafeteria.

“What’s up with Malfoy?”

“What?” Harry had replied, non-plussed.

“He Flooed my office at 11pm last night. He’s lucky I was still there. He was looking sort of wild and asking some very complex questions about Arithmantic algorithms. He called me Granger and usually he is completely assiduous about calling me Mrs Granger-Weasley. What’s he working on?”

“Well …,” Harry was strangely reluctant to admit that he didn’t know. “Since when did you and Draco chit chat about Arithmancy anyway.”

“We don’t chit chat, but our paths have crossed from time to time. He was very helpful when I was working on the Lycanthrope Emancipation Act. Even when being in the same room as Bill always made him go a funny greeny-white colour.”

“He’s working on something related to the Cold Case Unit. I don’t know how it’s going. I should catch up with him on that,” said Harry.

It was 2am when Harry was woken from sleep by Ron’s Patronus, racing around his bed and shouting at him. He leapt out of bed and through long-trained reflexes began pulling on his clothes, whilst still half asleep.

“Get up Harry! There’s been another kidnapping! An emergency Floo connection to the scene has been established at the department.”

With a crack, Harry turned and Apparated into the Auror department, which was humming with the energy of an emergency response. Morris directed him towards the relevant Floo and Harry took hold of it and stumbled as he was set down in a small suburban living room.

“That you, Harry?” he heard Ron call from the open door of the kitchen extension and he headed over.

“What’s up?”

“Victim taken from here, about twenty minutes ago,” Ron replied, his face grave. “A Squib named Miranda Philpotts. She had her niece, a witch, Hetty Allthwaite, eight years old, staying with her. I don’t think the kidnappers realised. Hetty heard a crack of Apparition and came downstairs. She saw the over-turned chair in the kitchen and couldn’t find her auntie anywhere. She’d read those pieces in the Quibbler about Opal Leach and missing Squibs, so, smart girl, she immediately contacted her mother with her two-way mirror.

“The duty Auror was on the scene within ten minutes. He called me as he knew I was working the Wilfing/Leach case.”

Harry looked about him. It looked like a perfectly ordinary Muggle home. Two clean plates, two mugs and some cutlery drying on the rack by the sink. He could see a single chair turned over and a pot of violets spilling their earth onto the floor. Nothing was new. The kitchen lino had definitely seen better days. He clenched his fists.

“Shit, Ron, they could be anywhere by now!”

“Yeah, well we could be getting a break here,” Ron said and Harry noticed how he was practically bouncing on his heels with suppressed energy. “Hetty’s underage. Robards has gone to drag someone from the Improper Use of Magic Office out of bed. With any luck the Apparition and Disapparition will have triggered the Trace. This is a Squib household in a Muggle, neighbourhood. There shouldn’t be any magic here.”

“Shit!” said Harry, sharing Ron’s excitement. “Shit, we need this!”

“Tell me about it!” said Ron, grinning.

“You’re Harry Potter,” came a small voice from behind him.

“Shhh, come back, sweetie!”

Harry turned to meet the steady regard of bright, rather red-rimmed, brown eyes. The little girl had unruly brown hair and a focussed expression that reminded him of his first meeting with Hermione. The girl’s mother pulled her back against her body and wrapped her arms about her, attempting to usher her back towards the hall.

“Are you going to find Auntie Andy?” Hetty asked.

Harry dropped down onto his haunches, so he could look her in the face. “We’re going to do our very best to, yes.”

“The paper said Squibs who go missing get murdered, like that lady.” Harry didn’t know what to say.

“Daddy says it’s not as if they were much good to anybody. He doesn’t like me staying with Auntie Andy, but mummy lets me come anyway, if I don’t talk about it.”

“Shhh,” said Hetty’s mother faintly.

“But I don’t care that Auntie Andy’s a Squib,” said Hetty firmly, twisting to look up at her mother.

“I don’t care that she’s a Squib either, darling,” said her mother and looked fiercely down at Harry, her face twisted with the effort not to cry in front of her daughter. “Mr Potter and the Aurors are going to get her back for us. Aren’t you?”

“You can rely on us to do our absolute best, Mrs Allthwaite,” said Ron.

“And when we find her,” added Harry, “it will be all down to you, Hetty. You acted very quickly and you gave us the best possible chance of finding your Auntie. I’m sure your mummy is very proud of you.”

At that moment, Robard’s hawk Patronus swooped into the room. “Ronald,” it barked, “I’ve got an address for you …”.

Harry and Ron Apperated to the industrial estate indicated and made their way silently into the building. Ron cast a nonverbal Homenum Revelio and nodded to indicate they should proceed up the line of crates to their left. Cautiously turning a corner, they could see nearby beneath the dim emergency lighting, two burly figures stooped over a slumped form.

Harry turned to give Ron the signal and perhaps light reflecting off his glasses caught the figure’s eye, because before they could move a cry of Avada Kedavra and a jet of green light shot towards them.

They ducked in time to see the first man disappear with a crack of Apparition. The second figure, hampered by his grip on the body in his arms was slower, and even as he too began to turn into his Apparation they were launching themselves across the space towards him.

Harry, with his Seeker’s reflexes, was faster. He felt a touch of sleeve beneath his fingertips, latched on to the arm beneath and threw himself upwards, twisting into course of the fleeing man’s Apparation.

There was the familiar, disorienting blur as the world flew past. Harry struggled to maintain his one handed grip. He heard a shriek of pain, felt the tug and clawed at thin air.

Falling, he had to use every ounce of concentration he had to twist himself back along the path of Apparation to the warehouse.

He landed badly, falling to his knees.

“Merlin, Harry! Are you all right?” Ron’s white face was in front of him and hands tore at his shirt, which, looking down, he noticed was splattered with blood.

“It’s all right, it’s all right,” he gasped, getting his breath back. “Not mine. It’s not mine. I lost him. I’m sorry, I’m sorry. He Splinched himself.”

“Shit, you gave me a bloody heart attack!” said Ron, sitting back on his heels. “Ah, fuck! Well at least you’re all right.”

Ron turned and scrambled back to the body of a woman on the floor a few feet away. Harry dragged himself quickly over.

“Is she dead?”

“No, not dead. I can’t wake her though. I’m calling backup.” Ron’s Patronus raced off.

Within minutes the warehouse was full of MLE and Auror personnel. Harry and Ron were wrapped in blankets and Apparated to St Mungo’s to be checked over. It took a fair while for Harry to persuade the healers in attendance that, despite the blood, he was actually fine.

When he was free, Harry immediately went and tracked down the healers who were looking after Miranda Philpotts. She was still unconscious, but stable. They’d said that it looked like she had been Stunned and then dosed with a powerful sedative potion. It would be some time before she woke up. As far as they could tell at this stage, there should be nothing else wrong with her.

He was thanking the healer when he was knocked back a step by a small figure cannoning into him and flinging her arms around his waist. He looked down into the blotchy, tear-stained face of Hetty Allthwaite, her hair now standing up around her head in a crazy bush.

“Thank you for bringing my auntie back, Mr Potter!”

“You are very welcome, Hetty,” said Harry smiling and setting her back on her own feet. “The healers tell me that they think she’ll be right as rain when she wakes up.”

Hetty beamed damply up at him. “Mummy says Auntie Andy is going to come and stay with us when the healers say she can go. She says, if daddy doesn’t like it, he can move back in with Grandma!”

“Um, that’s, uh, great,” replied Harry, slightly less sure of his ground here.

By this time, Mrs Allthwaite had caught up with her daughter and taking her hand, drew her gently away from Harry. “Thank you so much, Auror Potter,” she said, swallowing hard. “I love my sister and since my marriage I haven’t seen as much of her as I should. And when I thought … well. It puts things in perspective, doesn’t it? Thank you for giving me …” and she stuttered to a halt, biting back tears.

“It’s all right, Mrs Allthwaite, I understand,” said Harry, awkwardly patting her arm. “You and Hetty should probably go home to rest now. Miranda’s in safe hands here.” Mrs Allthwaite nodded vigorously at him, her face contorted somewhere between a broad smile and shattering sobs, and she led Hetty away.

*

Harry managed to make it back to the Cold Case offices without further incident. It was now nearly 7am. Riffling in the draw of his desk, he pulled out the mobile phone, turned it on and tried to remember the instructions Iris had given him.

Iris picked up almost at once. The line was so crackling with static that he could barely hear her. “That you, Harry?”

“Yes. There’s been an incident in the night. Attempted kidnapping. We recovered the victim, but the two kidnappers got away. Could have been the guys we want.”

“I can’t hear a damn word you’re saying.” Iris shouted over the static, “You’re at your Ministry, right?”

“Yes,” Harry bellowed back

“I’ll meet you at the phone box. Give me twenty minutes.”

Harry tried to affirm this, but the phone popped loudly and went dead. They’d have to come up with some other way of keeping in touch.

Harry scrubbed his hands over his face and slumped in his chair for a few minutes. The adrenaline of the night had well and truly left his system, leaving him feeling washed out and light headed. Checking his watch, he made his way up to the phone box.

He could hear the siren of Iris’s approach and she swept up in police car, blue lights flashing. She kept the car waiting as she went over to talk to Harry. Harry relayed the course of the night’s events.

Iris swore under her breath, “I’m assuming it isn’t possible to trace the direction of their onward journey from the warehouse?”

“No, it was only because there was a Trace on the little girl. We’ve got no further leads, if Philpotts can’t tell us anything when she wakes up,” said Harry, dejectedly.

“Bollocks to that. You don’t know what we’ve got yet. I need the location of that warehouse. I’m calling up a team now. You make sure your guys are all out of there. You lot can’t do Scene of Crime for shit. I’m assuming that’s not your blood?”

“No. The guy I had a hold of Splinched himself.”

“Excellent!,” and she leaned back into the car. After some rifling the officer driving the car handed her a clear evidence bag. “Give me your shirt,” Iris directed.

Harry stripped off the shirt and deposited it in the bag. He was left standing, shirtless and shivering in the cold morning light. Iris looked at him critically.

“You can’t go anywhere like that. Go home. Get some sleep. Call me when you’re back in. You look like shit.” She sealed the evidence bag and signed the seal, handing it over to the other officer to do the same. Then she took the address that Harry had written down and got back into the car. Harry didn’t have the energy to tell her about the phone. He’d figure out a way of getting in touch tomorrow, later today, whatever.

Going home seemed like an excellent idea - come back in, in a few hours. He just needed to sign out with Robards before disappearing off. Harry wondered back to his own offices to pick up a spare shirt and opening the door, saw Draco standing over a pile of files, his wand raised, muttering furiously. Either side of his head two parchments floated, with quills busily scribbling across them.
Harry’s entrance startled Draco and his concentration broke. The quills and parchments dropped to the floor and he swore.

“Hi, Draco. Sorry,” said Harry, limply gesturing to the parchments.

“Where’s your shirt, Potter?” asked Draco sharply.

“You’re in early?”

“Is that blood on your face?” Draco cut across him and came swiftly round the table to stand in front of Harry. He swiped his thumb along Harry’s cheek and kept it there, cradling Harry’s face and scanning him for injuries.



“I’m all right,” Harry managed. Draco was standing very close to him, staring at him intently, and Harry suddenly felt a lot more naked than he had standing on that street corner.

“What’s happened?”

“Someone was taken, but the alarm was raised and we got her back.”

“A Squib?”

“Yes, how did you know?”

“Makes sense.”

“I nearly got one of her abductors too. I was so close. I had hold of him, but I … I lost him!” and all the frustration and disappointment Harry hadn’t been allowing himself to feel bled into his voice and he noticed his fists were clenched and his nails cutting into his palms.

“You’ll get him next time,” he heard Draco say in a low voice, “you always do.” He felt arms come up around him and he let himself be pulled against the hard planes of Draco’s chest. Draco’s shirt was so soft and he smelt so nice, Harry just let himself rest his head on Draco’s shoulder and take a few deep breaths.

There was a knock on the door and Simon Finknottle poked his head round and squeaked with surprise. Harry and Draco sprang apart, though Draco managed to give Harry a hearty slap on the back, to underline that they had just been sharing a manly hug.

“Oh, sorry!” Simon giggled, “Only Head Auror Dawlish is in, Harry, and he wants to see you at once.”

“Right oh. Thanks, Simon!” said Harry with forced cheerfulness.

“You need to wash your face,” Draco observed. “And, though I personally find the vision of you without a shirt on brightens my morning considerably,” here Draco’s gaze turned somewhat hooded and appreciative, “I’m not sure it will have the same effect on Dawlish. Here.” He turned to the cupboards that ran along the wall and pulled out a spare shirt.

Harry was going to say he had a spare shirt of his own in his locker, when it occurred to him that Draco’s shirt might smell as nice as the one he was wearing.

“What have you been doing, anyway, these last few days?” he asked, going over to the sink and splashing his face.

“You know the HOLMES system? Well, I’ve been working on the castings that would create a similar Arthimantic framework to allow our records to be searched and cross referenced in the same way.”

“What?” said Harry, staring at him stupidly.

“I’ve only just begun. But elements of it should be possible and it’s got to be better than what we’ve got now.”

“You’re inventing HOLMES for the Wizarding world?” Harry asked, grinning broadly.

“Well,” said Draco looking down. “I had to ask Mrs Granger-Weasley a few things.”

“Were you really so pissed off that the Muggle world had a better records system than ours that you had to go and invent one for us?” Harry teased him.

“Don’t be ridiculous, Potter. There is still a lot to be worked out. Anyway, I thought you … I thought this case would need it.”

“You are seriously fucking fantastic, Draco!”

Draco’s cheeks pinked slightly with pleasure and Harry had the sudden flash, that if he was Benjy, he’d be floo calling Draco every hour on the hour.

Draco was suddenly standing close to him again. Harry’s fingers fumbled the buttons on his shirt and Draco brushed his hands away to complete the job, making more of a business than necessary of straightening his collar and smoothing the shirt across his shoulders and chest. The warmth of Draco’s hands were turning his knees to jelly and he wondered if he could just rest his head on Draco’s shoulder again.

He could see the dark flecks of grey in the lights of Draco’s eyes. He could kiss him now. He was so close.

He swayed and Draco laughed, low. “You’re falling asleep on your feet!” One of Draco’s hands came to rest on his shoulder.

“I need you back on the investigation, Draco,” Harry said, his voice rough. “I’m not mucking about. We’re a good team. I need your judgement. You were right, this case needs to be solved fast.”

“Thank you,” Draco looked down then back up at Harry. “You better go and see what Dawlish wants, then go home and get some rest. We can talk about this later.” Draco stepped away from him and Harry felt chilly and tired again. He tugged his spare uniform tunic out of his locker as he left the room.

Draco followed after him, smiling to himself. A number of Aurors also drifted in the same direction, intent on participating in the now time-honoured sport of listening in on Harry’s meetings with Dawlish. Anthony Budgens had even brought Extendable Ears, which he shared around.

“Harry,” Dawlish was saying, mournfully, “I wish you hadn’t felt the need to go over my head. If you’d explained the nature of your concerns more effectively, we could have sorted this out without bothering the Minister for Magic.”

“I’m sorry, sir,” they heard Harry respond tightly.

“Son of a bitch!” Draco heard one of the other Aurors snort.

“I’ve got your report here now. It seems that, for the present instance, it will indeed be necessary to pursue the joint investigation and I am going to rearrange staffing accordingly. I would like you to head up this investigation and maintain your working relationship with this, Detective Inspector Bustamant.”

“Yes, sir. Thank you, sir.”

“You know I have always considered you a most able Auror, Harry.”

“Thank you, sir. Sir, will I be able to pick my team?”

“Now, Harry, I have oversight of the whole department and its co-operative responsibilities across the Ministry. Your investigation, whilst important, is not the only case requiring man power. I will assign you the necessary staffing to pursue the investigation as I see fit.”

“I need Draco Malfoy. Sir. His specialist knowledge and …”

Dawlish cut across him. “That’s out of the question, Harry. I will see you get the specialist support, as and when you need it.”

“Sir, I don’t think you understand. The nature of Unspeakable Malfoy’s contribution and the delicate nature of this investigation …”

“I understand perfectly well the delicate nature of this investigation. This Squib business is getting political. There have been questions asked in the Wizangamot. I’m not going to have a bloody Malfoy anywhere near this case. That’s hardly going to lend an investigation into anti-Squib and anti-Muggle activity credibility is it?”

Draco could feel the glances of the Aurors around him.

“Sir, that is complete … Sir, Draco Malfoy is one of our finest young Unspeakables. His commitment to a fair and just post-war society is unquestioned. To allow lingering prejudice to …”.

“Enough, Harry!” shouted Dawlish. “I’m making you head of the combined investigation into the Wilfing and Leach murders, the missing Squibs and these Muggles. I’m giving you the authority to lead on these cases, which you’ve been after all this time. Now either you accept or you need to think carefully about your future within this department, at least while I’m Head Auror, do you understand?”

Nearby, Bones huffed and muttered, “Dawlish won’t stand a chance if he pushes this. The Minister will back Harry and he knows it.” Draco held his breath.

“Sir, I’m asking you … I’m begging you to reconsider …”.

“This is not up for negotiation, Potter!” Dawlish thundered. “I will not have you questioning every damn decision I make. Now are you taking this case or not?”

There was a long pause. “Yes, sir. Thank you, sir.”

The door to Dawlish’s office opened and Harry walked out looking hollow-eyed. He searched round quickly for Draco.

“Draco, I’m really sorry.”

“It’s all right, Potter. I know how these things go.” Draco quirked a twisted little smile and turned to walk away.

Harry grabbed his arm. “Draco, I promised Kingsley I would find a way to work with Dawlish. I have to take this case.”

“I said, I understand, Harry.”

“I’m sorry, Draco.”

“It’s not important. Thanks for what you said, but I’ll always be just a bloody Malfoy round here.”

Harry watched Draco walk away, back straight and face set in a familiar frozen expression. He raked his hand through his hair.

He should have kissed Draco when he had the chance. He should have found something else to say. He didn’t know what. All he did know was that it was getting harder and harder to watch Draco turn his back and walk away from him.


TO BE CONTINUED NEXT WEEK...

Date: 2013-10-11 09:04 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] iwao.livejournal.com
NO, not next week!! D: Tomorrow! At the latest!!! Pretty please??

Date: 2013-10-13 12:07 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] calmnla.livejournal.com
I know how you feel! Despite the quick and regular posting schedule, these cliffhangers are making me mental. They're soooo good!

Date: 2013-10-11 09:09 pm (UTC)
birdsofshore: (Default)
From: [personal profile] birdsofshore
YOU ARTISTS ARE KILLING ME. I haven't time to read right now, so I just swooshed through looking at the art, and I am SO HAPPY we've got the three of you again this week, and some absolutely swoony, fantabulous stuff here too. Top of your game, ladies. I shall return with detailed squee soon, but I really would like to marry you all if single sex polygamy were legal in this country, or indeed any of our countries. Can we look into that?

I am also looking forward to the story. C:

Date: 2013-10-11 09:22 pm (UTC)
eidheann_writes: (Default)
From: [personal profile] eidheann_writes
Haarrrryyy! You idiot!

*flail*

Date: 2013-10-11 09:35 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] helenadax.livejournal.com
Oh, that stupid Dawlish, poor Draco! And Harry's right, he should have kissed Draco when he had the chance.

Date: 2013-10-12 04:25 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] valkyrie17.livejournal.com
Excellent...except for the long wait for the next instalment.

Date: 2013-10-12 04:34 am (UTC)
gracerene: (Default)
From: [personal profile] gracerene
omg the ending!!! how will i wait another week??!??

Date: 2013-10-12 08:09 am (UTC)
azurelunatic: A glittery black pin badge with a blue holographic star in the middle. (Default)
From: [personal profile] azurelunatic
At least it wasn't Harry's blood!

Date: 2013-10-12 03:15 pm (UTC)
capitu: (Default)
From: [personal profile] capitu
I loved this episode! :D

I loved Harry and Draco here. I loved Harry's arguments of why they should work with the Muggles, but I loved Draco's reasons of why they shouldn't.

I loved the line. Oh, hell yes it worked!

But, damnit, when they are going to go for those drinks! GOD. XD

And the art. *sighs* I love the art you produce with each episode so, so much, and here was lovely, too. I loved that scene so much, with Draco plainly eavesdropping. :) And the others, too. I loved shirtless!Harry, and the blond head lowering the zip of the body. I love the style. Yeah. Love the art. <3

As usual, you guys kill me with these endings, I end up sitting on the edge of my seat, biting my nails, waiting for the next episode, which is your purpose, I know. Still! CAN'T WAIT.

Date: 2013-12-16 09:46 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] raitala.livejournal.com
Late reply is late. Thanks for all your lovely comments on HD:L2 capitu! I'm so pleased you liked my episode and that I contributed to tormenting you with their on again, off again, never quite getting to kiss one another :D

Glad you enjoyed the art too! ♥

Date: 2013-10-12 05:16 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] khalulu.livejournal.com
ooh, this is so good.

Poor Draco!

Lovely description of him separating out the different colors into different vials, and the Arithmancy project sounds cool.

Yay for the niece acting quick to rescue her beloved Squib aunt!

Date: 2013-12-16 09:46 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] raitala.livejournal.com
Late reply is late. I'm glad you enjoyed my ep and thank you for commenting through all the long process of posting ♥

Date: 2013-12-17 06:40 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] khalulu.livejournal.com
I should have commented more, actually, with more mentions for all the excellent art! So you were writing AND doing all that art? wow!

By the way, thank you again for helping my find dark0feenix to Finn-pick my story for Bookfair, she was great. And my apologies, I think I told you "I remember your picture of…" and one of them was someone else's, oops - but I do remember your haunted looking Draco in the mirror.

Date: 2013-10-13 12:24 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] calmnla.livejournal.com
I just lost a couple paragraphs of comment when I went to check spelling and preview. I am going to stalk off in the direction Malfoy took, I might come back later to try again, after my sullenness is gone.

Date: 2013-10-13 10:17 pm (UTC)
ext_90630: (Default)
From: [identity profile] nonajf.livejournal.com
The plot thickens! As does Dawlish's head.

love, love, love these stories and the universe

Date: 2013-10-17 03:11 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] anabellhenry.livejournal.com
brilliant work all of you mystery writers, artists and creative cheerleaders. it's a brilliant concept so well executed. I can hardly wait for new episodes! thank you!

Date: 2013-10-20 03:04 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] fantasyfiend09.livejournal.com
You just used a line on Draco Malfoy!” Damned right he had

That was so cute and uplifting, and then it was all ripped away again.

He should have kissed Draco when he had the chance. He should have found something else to say. He didn’t know what. All he did know was that it was getting harder and harder to watch Draco turn his back and walk away from him.

That sums it up perfectly. They keep being drawn closer and closer together only to be ripped apart more painfully. It's heartbreaking.

I love Iris and the way she she sort of matches and clashes with Draco. This episode really highlighted how ostracised Draco is in both the Muggle world and his own.

ART - the picture of Harry with no shirt looking so vulnerable as Draco rushed to him with concern etched into his face was so stunning! I could just stare at Draco's outstretched hands and the set of Harry's face. So moving!

Date: 2013-12-16 09:58 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] raitala.livejournal.com
Late reply is late. Thanks so much - I'm really pleased you enjoyed my episode and the art I did for it :D I'm glad you sympathized with Draco's position in this story.

Date: 2013-10-21 03:16 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] icmezzo.livejournal.com
Great job! I loved Draco's attempt to recreate HOLMES. Completely brilliant. I feel bad for Harry, dead on his feet and having to negotiate all of the politics at work while trying not to disappoint Draco, who he obviously is growing to really care for. Oh ,and the art is fantastic. The image of Harry shirtless as Draco reaches for him? Just wonderful.

Well done, team!

Date: 2013-10-24 07:34 am (UTC)
birdsofshore: (Default)
From: [personal profile] birdsofshore
I really enjoyed the pace of this one! It kept me reading and reading. I really liked Draco's voice in this episode.

Got to leave lots of comments about the amazing art. The first drawing with Draco and Parvati, is the most magnificent and pointy Draco I have ever seen! He's so very tall and marvellous and very Malfoyish. I love the teeny bit of colour on their cheeks. You know I like to throw a random comment in, so I must say the shoes are also epic. :D

Iris is a great character and I really enjoyed her reactions to being in the Ministry.

“Holy. Shit. You mean all this is under Whitehall?” “Holy shit, what are those?” (goblins) “Fuck me!” (flying memos) and “You guys really like purple?”

:DDD

The implications of Harry and Draco working with Muggles were very interesting. I loved HOLMES inspiring Draco, and the glimpses we saw of him at work. The picture of his head with his neat hair bending over the body is very pleasing (and slightly macabre).

Thank goodness we know the truth about Benjy!

And then we have:

“Where’s your shirt, Potter?” asked Draco sharply.

*happy shivers*
The art for this was absolutely bloody wonderful. Harry's beautiful torso, and their faces, and Draco's shirt with the sleeves rolled-up aasdfghjkdfghjkl, and his tentative hands reaching (GORGEOUS fingers)

Draco’s shirt was so soft and he smelt so nice

ahhhhhhhh! And then interrupted by Finknottle and Dawlish, ugh! But I adored
Harry was going to say he had a spare shirt of his own in his locker, when it occurred to him that Draco’s shirt might smell as nice as the one he was wearing.

and then Draco was suddenly standing close to him again. Harry’s fingers fumbled the buttons on his shirt and Draco brushed his hands away to complete the job, making more of a business than necessary of straightening his collar and smoothing the shirt across his shoulders and chest. The warmth of Draco’s hands were turning his knees to jelly and he wondered if he could just rest his head on Draco’s shoulder again.

He could see the dark flecks of grey in the lights of Draco’s eyes. He could kiss him now. He was so close.


So lovely! I'm sure we were all waiting for the episode in which we finally get some physical contact between the two of them, but you handled it so beautifully, MA, I really applaud you. You made the moments very meaningful. The combination of that and the shirtless art is very powerful, and the art and text seemed to complement one another especially well this week.

My heart was in my mouth during the meeting with Dawlish. I really felt for Draco, and Harry, too. A wonderful, tantalising place to end things, and I am anticipating the next episode with glee. (and, I got so behind that it's already posted :DD, so yay for me)

Date: 2013-11-10 09:55 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] omi-ohmy.livejournal.com
Oh, oh, oh there was so much to love in this episode. First of all there was Iris - what a wonderful character. So tough and so capable. She really came across as a proper copper - a little gnarly with cynicism but totally dedicated to her job. And it was great to see the intersection between the Muggle and wizarding worlds examined in this way, because it would be frightening to encounter sticks of death.

And then there was all the wonderful Harry/Draco. What fantastic UST! I loved the whole shirtless scene, and the hug, and smelling Draco. Fab.

Finally, the art. We are being totally spoilt with this art - in fact, I am going to return to it now for another look . But I love the Harry and Draco you all have created for Level 2 - pointy, tired; perfect..

Date: 2013-11-11 06:16 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] dark0feenix.livejournal.com
How very frustrating it is to have Dawlish thwart every effort Harry makes with the investigation. I'm hoping he gets what's coming for him in the end. Enjoyed the art as always!

Date: 2013-11-11 09:44 pm (UTC)
nerakrose: drawing of balfour from havemercy (Default)
From: [personal profile] nerakrose
Ahhh the plot thickens! This was so exciting. Loved the sudden kidnapping chase. Iris and draco's reactions to each other's worlds were spot on, as was Iris's language. Great to have her called out on it, too.

Lovely job.

Date: 2013-12-11 08:14 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] wemyss.livejournal.com
(As is the art, of course.) And points for the DLS-derived title. I regret that other business prevented my commenting at the time.