Chapter One: No Good Deed Unpunished . . .
***For Mamacat B-day, sorry for the delay***
Disclaimer: Hamilton owns AB, Rowling owns HP.
Spoilers: Up to CS for AB, and HBP for HP.
Summary: “They speak of hollow victories-wins that mean nothing. But our wins meant something, and therefore they could never be hollow. Yet, the feeling persists, that something is not right. It’s a malaise of sorts. I’ve been fighting a winning war for eight years, Miss Blake, and yet at the end of each day, I am hollow. We all are, and we can’t shake it. It’s maddening.”
Dedicated to Mamacat, who asked for an AB fic for her birthday.
Chapter One: No Good Deed Unpunished . . .
She had been in the middle of raising her third and last zombie of the night when her pager went off. She didn’t have to stop and look to know it was the police. Only Dolph would page her on a night when he knew her to be busy with work. And he was the only one who ever got away with it, because he always had a very good reason to be interrupting her.
Too bad his good reasons usually consisted of corpses.
She considered it a good sign that when she hopped out of her jeep at the crime scene that there was only one body bag. It obviously wasn’t a good sign for the occupant of the body bag, but she always felt better when the body count was kept to a low number. Normal people would consider any kind of body count to be a bad thing, but she wasn’t like normal people. She was the Executioner, and for her, one body was way better than seven.
However, the low body count was where the good signs ended. There was a huge crowd surrounding this crime scene, consisting mostly of young people. No doubt there had been a house party of some sort nearby, there usually was on the weekends in the suburbs. Her chest pinched a little when she thought of the likelihood of a teenaged victim. She hated it when the bodies were young ones.
The press was also out in force, with the police force present barely keeping them back behind the scene boundaries. There had been a small explosion in flashbulbs the second she had shown her face and it took a lot of willpower for her to not starting cursing profusely. Dealing with the media was not her favourite thing in the world, especially not when there was a murder involved. She dropped her eyes, forcing herself to ignore the calls of the reporters as she clipped her federal marshal badge onto her belt and made her way into the crime scene. She was waved past several clusters of patrol officers, detectives, forensics, and paramedics, her eyes on the lookout for Dolph. He spotted her first, and immediately began calling her over. She was at his side in minutes, and finally got a good look at the mess in front of her.
The traces of magic were unmistakable. She felt her eyes widen as she gave the surrounding area a good look over. There were several scorch marks visible on the ground and on nearby plants and trees. Some of the plants looked like they had been burned; others simply looked like they had exploded. There were leaves, twigs, petals, and dirt in random bunches all over the area. It looked like a war zone.
And there was magic in every nook and cranny of it. She couldn’t be certain what kind of magic it was, but she knew it was there. There had been a magical battle or something at this murder scene, and was probably what caused there to be a murder in the first place.
But they were in the middle of the suburbs. Who on earth would chose this to be the appropriate place for a magical showdown? Might as well have started throwing around magic just outside the police station, because there was no way that something like this could have gone unnoticed in a neighbourhood like this. Even if it were a surprise attack, whoever was doing the surprising should have thought up a better spot for it.
“Dolph?” She made it a question.
“One body, one witness, and one suspect,” was the response. Dolph nodded towards the body in question. "You took a long time getting down here, so make it quick. Too many people and way too many reporters. Got a call to take all the pictures necessary and then move the body the hell out of sight. The commissioner’s already having an ulcer over this one.”
Wonderful. “What the hell happened?” she asked next, squatting down to take a look at their victim. Dolph handed her a pair of latex gloves and she pulled them on almost absently. She gazed into the blue eyes of one very dead man and frowned. “Two witches decided that they hated each other, picked out a wonderfully visible spot in the middle of the suburbs for a magical duel, and went at it?”
“If that’s the case, then these are unlike any witch that I’ve ever encountered,” Dolph grumbled. “Reynolds is having a fit over this crime scene. Claims this isn’t like any magic she’s ever seen before. And her first meeting with our suspect didn’t do wonders for her mood either. Apparently our murderer’s a bit frustrating.”
Anita arched an eyebrow, but said nothing on that. Her eyes moved over the man's face, taking in the long black robe and strange hood he was wearing. Long black robes might be an indicator of some sort of ritual, but there was nothing else here to suggest something like that. Her eyes fell to his midsection and the blood that was pooled around there. He had fallen onto his back, head turned to the right, one hand clutching his stomach while the other was laying at an awkward angle from his body. He had taken a wound in the stomach, but that wasn't all he had taken. He had a collection of cuts and scrapes, not to mention the scent of magic all over him.
“What we do know is this,” Dolph continued, his voice very grim. “There was a house party just four houses down that way. Mostly teenagers, all who claim that they heard the sounds of explosions and screams just after midnight. The music was turned down and a few kids went investigating. What they found was one of their female classmates, having hysterics in the middle of the road. And a little further down the way, they found our suspect, standing over our victim, bloody knife in hand. By this time, some adults in the neighbourhood also noticed the hubbub, came outside to see what was going on, and once they saw what was happening, three males took it upon themselves to stop any sort of escape by the suspect by tackling her to the ground. The call was made to the police, and just an hour later, the RPIT was called in. The hysterical girl in the middle of the road had calmed down enough to shout something about witches and magic, and that brought us down here. Reynolds got onto the scene, determined there had been heavy magic use prior to the murder, and that I’d better give you a call.”
He stopped there. She looked away from the body and gave him a strange look. “Stabbing? When they had been using magic like no tomorrow, she up and decided to use a knife?”
“Looks that way,” Dolph replied, the scowl on his face telling her he disliked that discrepancy as much as she did. “Victim is an unidentified white male in his early twenties, brown hair, blue eyes, medium height and build, and was wearing what looked like black KKK uniform at the time of the murder. Suspect is an unidentified female in her early twenties, much shorter and slimmer than the victim, and asking us very politely to call her ‘Luna’. She was found in normal clothes, though she was handling the bloody knife and was found with a holster strapped to her right leg.”
“She was armed?” Anita shook her head.
“With a stick,” Dolph said calmly.
Anita gave Dolph an incredulous look, which he met with a serious one. “She had a stick in a gun holster?” She felt silly even having to say it. She was beginning to think that Dolph’s suspect might be a tad bit crazy.
“Oh no, not at all,” Dolph’s words were breezy, but his face most certainly was not. “She had a stick in a holster that looked to have been designed for the sole purpose of holding a stick.”
Anita was feeling more lost by the second. “She had a stick holster?”
Dolph nodded silently.
“Was it a sharp stick?”
“Long, and not so pointy at the end,” was the reply. “Certainly not pointy enough to be stabbing anyone with. It’s a piece of wood, whittled and sanded, with a special ivory handgrip that our suspect did not want to give up so easily.”
Anita pinched the bridge of her nose and tried to push back the headache that was threatening. “Okay, why am I here? Looks to be a clear cut case, if not slightly weird. But you have the suspect, the witness, and the body. So why am I here?”
“I wanted to know if this was a ritual murder or something,” Dolph answered. “Our witness didn’t stumble upon this scene by chance. She was there when the magic started flying, but we haven’t calmed her down enough to get any solid answers out of her. So we don’t know if this woman with a stick was the one hurdling magic at the victim, or whether the victim was the one with the magic and she just used that knife in self defence. Tammy said she couldn’t get a good reading on the magic used here, only that she knew that it had been used. She can’t say if the magic was black or not, but considering the state of the surrounding area, we’re thinking not.”
“And she can’t tell if that woman used magic on the victim in order to kill him,” Anita finished for the tall man. “You need to know what to charge her with.”
“Misuse of black magic, causing death-it’s an automatic death sentence,” Dolph’s voice was as stern as she had ever heard it. “We have to be sure before we charge her.”
Anita knew this; she was well familiar with the law. She had been accused of the crime herself not too long ago. There was no room for error in cases like this. There would be no other sentence other than death. No appeals, no waiting on death row. This woman, if found guilty, would be executed swiftly.
“What did Tammy have to say about the magic on the body?”
“That’s a problem, she can find magic used on him, and on the suspect, and on the surrounding area. But she can’t figure out where that magic came from. And that’s got her feeling very uneasy. You two should talk.”
Anita nodded absently, her eyes raking over the crime scene. “Well, I can’t see any signs of ritual, dark or otherwise. There’s no runes drawn, the body wasn’t placed in any particularly significant spot, no bowls, candles, or other paraphernalia. It doesn’t look like a crazy cult killing gone wrong, if that’s what you were thinking.”
Dolph scowled. “I don’t know what to think. That’s the problem.”
She didn’t have an answer for that, well not one that wouldn’t agitate the man further. She just shut her mouth and continued to look around her, hoping that maybe something would pop out at her. Nothing did. It looked like a war zone; there was magic everywhere, and a dead body to top it off. But other than that, Anita was getting squat.
“We’ve got to wrap this up,” Dolph murmured. “The press is getting too damned excited about this. It’ll be all over the papers tomorrow, which means the commissioner’s going to want an answer before that. We have to know how we’re charging her.”
Her stomach turned slightly at the thought of such a task. Charging without sufficient evidence meant that they ran the risk of executing someone innocent of the exact crime in question. Dawdling was also not an option; too many people knew about it, and scores more would know by morning. People tended to get riled up over the idea of a renegade witch on the loose. There would be cries for the woman’s death long before they could get a conclusive answer about any of this.
“Now we head back to the station, he has a date with the coroner, you talk to Tammy, and we interrogate the suspect,” Dolph squared his shoulders. “Circumstances aside, this is still a homicide, and we’re going to treat it as such.”
She bit her lip thoughtfully. “How long until we get the coroner’s report?”
“Not too long, hopefully. I already called the morgue, and they’re waiting there to perform the autopsy. By morning, we should have it.”
She nodded slowly, her eyes still scanning the ground beneath her. “I’ll meet you back at the station,” she murmured in way of farewell. Dolph nodded and immediately turned away from her to start barking orders. Forensics appeared and immediately took to the task of capturing a final series of photos before actually bagging the body. Anita backed away from the crime scene, unable to keep a frown off of her face as her mind raced frantically for some sort of idea or theory. She was coming up short in that department as well.
The petite animator stomped her way over to her jeep, hopping into the front seat while pointedly ignoring the media frenzy going on around her. She started the car and pulled away from the scene, her hand reaching for her cell phone as she headed in the direction of the police station. She pressed a number on her speed dial and waited for the person on the other end to pick up.
“Hello? Micah? Hey, I’m sorry but I’m not making it back in time . . .”
When Dolph said Tammy had found the suspect to be a bit frustrating, Anita had thought that meant the woman was surly and stubborn. Those kind of suspects were the worst, unwilling to budge on anything and quite abusive in the process of not budging. But the suspect that they had taken from this scene, the one called ‘Luna’, was not surly or stubborn. In fact, she seemed oddly calm for someone being held for murder.
She was young, most likely younger than Anita herself, but not by much. Her hair was most definitely blonde, though a pale shade of it and quite natural from what Anita could see. Her hair was long, down to her waist perhaps, tied up in a long ponytail that swung down her back. She was of medium height, and very slender. Dressed properly in a pair of jeans, a blue tank top and a brown leather jacket, she looked pretty normal.
But appearances could be deceiving, and were so in this case. Her face was delicate, cute even, with large blue eyes and very faint eyebrows. Blonde bangs fell into them, obscuring them every now and again, but she was quick to push them back. She was not using her hair to hide. No, this woman wanted to look at her interrogators head on. There were a few smudges of dirt and blood on her face. Some of it had to be her own, because she was sporting a couple of nasty looking cuts above her eyebrows, across her neck, and over her arms. There was a large bruise forming over her right cheek, and her lips were probably pink and pearly at other times, but were now cracked and split.
“She put up a hell of a fight,” Anita muttered to herself.
“Yeah, well so did he.” Tammy Reynolds was standing to Anita’s left, looking a bit unhappy to be hiding behind the viewing glass and not inside the actual interrogation room herself. But Dolph had insisted on it. He wanted both Anita and Tammy to observe the suspect during questioning, and so he did the interrogation himself. It was usually a good idea, considering how intimidating Dolph could be. That sort of thing worked in their favour in most interrogations.
Not so much in this one.
“Please state your name for the record,” Dolph ordered.
The woman leaned back in her chair, blue eyes wide and calm. “I already told you that my name is Luna.”
Her accent was most definitely British, and her voice was almost dreamy in quality. But even from behind the glass, Anita could see the awareness in her eyes.
“State your full name,” Dolph raised his voice just a bit, maybe in hopes of frightening her a tad bit. It didn’t seem to work.
“Luna will do for now.” The woman tilted her head to the side. “Tell me Mr. Storr, how long do you think I’ll be kept here?”
Dolph looked momentarily stumped. “You’re being charged with a murder. It’s safe to assume that you’ll be here for some time. It might go by faster if you start cooperating. Tell me what happened tonight.”
Her mouth turned downwards and for a second, Anita saw a look of pure exasperation on her face. But it was gone quickly, and that calm, serene expression was back. “If you’re really charging me with murder, then I must assume that you already have a good idea about what happened tonight. Why should I repeat what you already know?”
“There are some holes that need filling,” Dolph replied, his voice getting deeper. The Sergeant was getting very angry. “Fill them.”
Luna just looked back at him, her face almost contemplative. “Don’t I get to use the telephone? I haven’t done this before, but Ronald tends to enjoy watching the fictional series on Hermione’s television at home, and those fake policemen always give the criminals a chance to use the phone. Would I be able to use yours?”
Anita didn’t know whether to snarl or laugh. Dolph looked like he was heading towards a snarl. “We’ll work on that, but right now, I want to know why the hell you killed that man!”
“All due respect, Mr. Storr, but you wouldn’t believe me if I told you.”
“Is that so?” Dolph was looking downright pissed. “Well, how about we take a look at the situation as it stands? You are facing murder charges, and most likely a misuse of black magic charge. Are you familiar with American laws on the misuse of magic?”
There was a flash of worry, and then it was gone. “I am. Honestly, do you people really think execution will solve anything? Anyone evil enough to deserve being put to death will most certainly not be caught by any policeman for the misuse of black magic. You’re not really getting at the heart of the problem here.”
“She can go on like this forever,” Tammy grumbled suddenly. “This girl talks in circles.”
“No, she talks around the issue,” Anita corrected her. “She’s doing everything she can to not talk about the victim. She’s not pleading self-defence; she’s not making any sort of attempt to cover her ass. She’s just sitting there, chatting it up with Dolph like they’re old friends meeting for a cup of coffee.”
“It’s just Luna, thank you.”
Dolph snapped his mouth shut and Anita could see a faint red blush starting to move its way up his neck. Luna was officially on the man’s last nerve. “Luna, this isn’t getting us anywhere. Why don’t you tell me what happened? I probably will believe it; I’ve seen my fair share of strange things.”
Luna just smiled serenely. “May I please use the phone?”
Dolph hung his head and then stepped back from the table. He levelled angry eyes at the young woman sitting demurely at the table. “Fine, have it your way then. Luna Whatever-your-last-name-is, you are officially being charged with the murder of a John Doe. This officer will be taking you down to booking. After that, you can see to your phone call.”
And with that, Dolph stormed out of the room. Luna remained seated at the table, her eyes on the door Dolph had just exited through. Her face was thoughtful as she gazed at that door and Anita wondered briefly what she was thinking.
But then she swung her eyes to the viewing glass. Anita swore and backed up a step. Tammy was right beside her. “Is it just me, or is she looking right at you?”
Anita didn’t answer. She just moved a few steps to her left, swearing once more when Luna seemed to follow her with her eyes. Anita stopped moving and stared back at her. Luna remained still, and then she gave a small smile before rising to her feet and allowing herself to be moved out of the interrogation room.
“How the hell could she see you?” Tammy demanded. “Who is this girl?”
Anita didn’t have an answer. She just watched as Luna was led from the room, head held high and faint smile still on her face. She waited for a moment, and then left the viewing room herself. The hallway was clear when she stepped into it, Tammy right on her heels. Anita tossed the coffee cup she had been nursing for the past twenty minutes into the nearest trash bin and immediately headed for Dolph’s office.
Looks like she was in for another long day.