Rating: PG – 13 for language
Disclaimer: The disclaimer: Not mine. Never mine. Sark=mine. All is JK Rowling’s and I really shouldn’t be touching. Nor should I be stealing characters from other places and shoving them into other worlds, hee hee hee. My loyalties are flexible, but stealing from me is not. No touchy or I go all banner ad on your ass.
Warning(s): Bad language…keep away from the kiddies! Character death as well, so be forewarned. It gets a little tragic.
Author/Artist Note(s): You might recognize certain names from somewhere else (*coughlifeonmarscough*) but in no way do they resemble any fictitious time traveling detectives that might share said name. Honestly.
One last drag on his cigarette as he stared out across the murky Thames. “Bloody London,” he muttered.
It was cold outside the car, the ever present mist settling on him, think and heavy, even through his coat. He pulled it tighter over his shoulders and started to make his way down to the knot of people at river’s edge. A woman in thick black wool broke away and met him halfway up the hill. “Sorry, police only, so you’ll need to step back.”
He pulled out his badge and flipped it open.
“Oh thank Christ you’re here,” she breathed. “It’s fucking freezing out here. DS Gwen Clarke. This all seems fairly cut and dry, so let’s just do this and get the fuck out of here.”
“Nothing. Most likely he’s some drunk who fell in after a binge.”
“No wounds, nothing? Couldn’t be a mugging?”
Clarke shook her head. “Only strange thing about this is that he’s wearing black robes.”
DI Sam Tyler stopped short. “Did you say robes?”
It’s strange, watching this, watching them stand over my body. I want to push them away, tell them not to touch me, but my hands go right through them.
Not that they notice. They mutter bitterly about the cold, so the freezing sensation my hands would usually cause isn’t felt. It’s futile to try and stop them, but I can’t help myself. It’s my body, I want to shout, even though my body is bloated and blue.
It’s the principle of it, I suppose. No person likes to be touched without permission. Even if they are dead.
“Not drowning?” Sam said incredulously.
“That’s what I said.” The pathologist, McCallum, was washing his hands. “He was dead when he hit the water.”
“So what the fuck was cause of death?”
“That’s the thing,” McCallum leaned against the edge of the sink. “I can’t find a damned thing wrong with him. Liver wasn’t in the best shape, but other than that, perfect specimen of health.”
“Except the fact that he’s dead,” Sam snapped.
“Funny man,” McCallum said dryly. “I did my job, friend. John Doe’s all yours now.”
“He’s not a John Doe,” Sam said testily.
McCallum raised an eyebrow. “That’s interesting, because I heard you got zip from fingerprints.” He and Sam turned to stare at the body. “So how…?”
“Well, he’s not missing anymore. Who was he and what happened to him?”
Sam slapped the file he was holding against his palm. “He used to be Draco Malfoy. Now, he’s a homicide.”
Used to be? I take offense. A body dies, the name doesn’t.
I had thought nothing was more disturbing than looking down on my own dead body at the riverside, but I was wrong. Seeing it laid out and cut open…well, it’d be enough that if I was still alive, I’d be retching in the corner for certain.
I never did well with dead bodies.
One of the Muggles leaves and I’m left with the other, the short blond one who knows my name. He’s come back to stand next to me and stare down at my former shell. For one wild moment I believe that he can see me, that he knows I’m there. In the next, I realize how mad that idea is. He stares at my naked, bloated corpse for a long moment before he turns abruptly and leaves.
Instead of moving on, I follow.
Pansy Parkinson – Malfoy lived in an elegant townhouse in central London. Sam found her sitting on a chaise lounge, smoking a clove cigarette and clutching her stomach. She didn’t stand when he came in, shooting him a furious look instead.
“Why did you come here?” she snapped.
“Your husband is dead, Mrs. Malfoy.”
“I know he’s dead,” she wailed. “You…you had the vulgar courtesy to inform me over the phone. Are you here to just make a point?”
“There are questions that I need answered, Madam,” Sam didn’t wait to be asked, but sat down across from her. “Your husband was murdered. I need to find out who wanted him dead.”
“Why do you give a damn anyway?” she said bitterly.
“Why don’t you?” Sam retorted.
“How dare you,” Pansy screamed, jumping to her feet. “You actually have the audacity…Leave! Leave now! And stay away from my family!”
Sam stood up as well. “I’m not stopping my investigation, Mrs. Malfoy. I would think you’d want to know who murdered your husband as much as I.”
“My husband wasn’t murdered!” she said shrilly. “He was drunk and fell of a bridge and drowned-”
“I didn’t tell you we found him in the river,” Sam said quietly.
“I…” Pansy froze, her hands fluttering down to her side. She started to flit nervously around the room, stubbing out her cigarette, moving trinkets around and avoiding Sam’s eye.
“If you have something to tell me, now would be the prudent time.”
“I can’t-” Pansy whispered, her back turned to him. He watched her shoulders shake slightly before they stiffened. When she spoke again, her voice was hard and cold. “I’d speak to Ron Weasley if you want any questions answered. He came to see Draco the night he disappeared.”
“Weasley?” Sam said curiously.
Pansy nodded. “They were still locked up in the study when I went to bed. I don’t know what time he left, and I didn’t see my husband again after.” She choked on the last word and tears appeared in her eye. “I loved Draco,” she whispered. “I didn’t kill him.”
Oh, how loyal my lovely wife is, even to the very last. I’m a little surprised at her reticence; she’s never made it secret that she loved my money more than me. But loads of money means nothing without the respect to go with it, and people barely respect Pansy as it is.
Still, I can’t help but laugh. Her sense of self – preservation always wins out in the end.
It took some digging, but Sam found an address for Ron and Hermione Weasley in Kingston. The house was dark when he pulled up, but as he parked, a red – headed man ran out the front door, heading to the car parked in the drive.
Sam got out quickly. “Ron Weasley?”
“I don’t have time to chat, mate.” He was poking furiously at the side of the car, trying to get his keys in the lock. “I’ve got to pick up my son…my wife is in hospital…look, come back tomorrow, alright?” He finally managed to get the key in the lock and turned it.
“I just have a few questions about Draco Malfoy,” Sam said. That stopped Ron cold. Sam continued. “Specifically, about his death.”
“I don’t know anything about that bastard’s death,” Ron growled. “Except that I’m glad he’s dead. Now, I need to be going-”
“You were the last one to see him alive,” Sam interrupted. “See, that makes me think you know something.”
“You don’t know anything,” Ron shot back. “If you knew what that – that son of a bitch has done, you probably would have sat back and watched him drown-”
“What I’d like to know,” Sam said, “is how everyone seems to know how Mr. Malfoy died.”
Ron jerked. “I didn’t kill him,” he snapped. “I went by to talk to him…something personal.”
“I think we’re past anything too ‘personal’.”
“My wife was attacked!” Ron howled. “And he…that…Malfoy was responsible! And I’ll admit it, I wanted to kill him, but I didn’t.” He took a deep breath. “When I left, he was alive, I swear. I wasn’t the last person to see him alive; his wife was hovering outside his study door when I left. Look, please, I need to go see my wife.”
“How do you know it was Mr. Malfoy who attacked your wife?”
“I just…do. And yes, I reported it. To the proper authorities.” Ron wasn’t looking at Sam again. “And I knew about his death because we have some mutual friends with the grieving widow. Please…”
“Your wife, I know,” Sam said. “It’d probably be a good idea if I talked with her as well.” Ron’s face drained of colour. “But I’m sure it can wait until she’s feeling better?”
“I – Yes,” Ron said, relief showing in his face.
Weasley was always rubbish at lying well. Must be all that idiot Gryffindor influence. I stand behind him while they talk, brushing my hands through his back and shoulders. A little crude, revenge wise, but there’s not much else I can do.
I stand with the Muggle policeman, watching Weasley rush off and for a moment, I feel somewhat sorry for him. The Muggle, not the Weasel. We brought our problems to his world, but he can never cross the line into ours. Which means he’ll never get his answers.
Just wasting his time chasing ghosts.
Sam was finishing the last bits of his report when Gwen Clarke poked her head in. “How goes the Malfoy investigation? Any suspects looking good?”
He held up the paper. “Just finishing it up now.”
“You’ve arrested someone, then?” Gwen was curious.
“No,” Sam signed his name at the bottom and started to put the papers in a file. “Our victim was drunk and fell in the river. Accidental death.”
“And what about the pathologist’s report that he didn’t drown?”
“So he froze before he drowned.” Sam said impatiently. “Why does it matter so much anyway?”
Gwen stared at him. “Thought it mattered to you. You just spent days following this case, and you’re giving it up as an accident? What about the wife? Or that Weasley fellow?”
Sam was quiet for a long moment. “Do you ever have the feeling like you have all the pieces, but you’re never going to solve the whole puzzle?”
“Sometimes,” Gwen replied. “But I keep trying. From what I’ve heard, so do you.” When Sam didn’t answer, she shot him a scornful look. “You’ll never get your answers this way.”
“Maybe I will,” Sam said softly. He waited until Gwen had gone, then glanced over to the other chair. “I could’ve just asked you myself.”
His companion started, then glared. “You can see me,” he stated, his voice hollow. “How…can you see me?”
Sam shrugged wearily. “Just a gift I have.”
Draco’s eyes narrowed even more. “Are you a wizard?”
“No,” Sam said. Draco cocked an eyebrow. “Alright; I’m not anymore,” Sam admitted. “And don’t ask; it’s a bloody long story.”
“No one else could see me.”
“No. Far as I can figure, you’re not really a ghost. You’re an imprint; staying around because you’ve got something to accomplish before you move on, but in the end, you’ll go on…wherever that happens to be.”
This did not seem to please Draco. “So why am I still around? What do I have to accomplish?”
“That’s not for me to determine,” Sam answered. “Maybe so you can tell me how you happened to die. How it all came do be.”
Draco snorted. “Don’t see why that matters.”
“Really.” Sam sat back and fixed him a penetrating look. “So there’s no one that would care enough to want to know?”
Of course there is. I mean, her…that’s what all of this was about.
My life had become somewhat hopeless. Because of my part in the war, I was doomed to be something of a pariah. I was never actually shunned, but I wasn’t really welcome, either. My parents retreated to the Manor and never left, but I tried, at least. I married Pansy, even though I didn’t love her, and I got a job with the Ministry, in the Misuse of Muggle Artifacts Office. Someone was definitely having a laugh there, putting me in Arthur Weasley’s old position.
I hated Pansy, but I did love my son. I tried my best to keep him away from my father and Pansy’s influence; I wanted him to have the opportunity to choose his own beliefs without our distorted ones overwhelming him. I just wanted to be a good father and when Scorpius left for Hogwarts, I was almost lost. It was like my day – to – day life had lost its meaning.
So my usual snarl was somewhat subdued the first time Granger sat with me at lunch.
We weren’t friends; time hadn’t changed that much. In fact, I wouldn’t say it changed at all. Our only current relationship was that we worked in the same office, where she was the beloved champion of magical underdogs and I cleaned up after regurgitating toilets.
She didn’t talk much, other than saying “Good afternoon, Malfoy,” and asking how I was, and I would respond with a non – committal grunt. I thought I would deter her from coming to sit with me again, but she kept doing so, even when her colleagues would shoot her questioning looks.
One day in November, she sat down, said her customary, “Good afternoon Malfoy,” and then asked, “How is Scorpius liking Hogwarts?”
It was as if a dam had burst open. Pansy didn’t seem to care one good goddamn about the boy and no one at work ever bothered to talk to me unless they absolutely had to. So when she ask, I poured out all my pride about my brilliant son: how he was excelling in Potions and Transfiguration, how he took top marks in flying lessons (even beating out Potter’s son; I couldn’t help but mention that) and how he had friends and that he was truly happy…things that were never true about my days at school.
I went on and on and when I realized that I was almost babbling I was embarrassed and angry with myself; how could I have gone on like a total fool? I was ready to walk away when Granger – Hermione smiled and covered my hand with her own. “I’m happy for you, Malfoy.”
She didn’t say anything more and neither did I, but that slight touch warmed me deep inside. It was odd, that someone seemed to care if I was happy. Odd, but…good.
I began talking to her more during our lunches. At first it was just about our children and the woes of parenting, and then gripes about work and home and the world in general. We started talking about more personal topics gradually, and soon lunches were becoming coffees at breaks and drinks after work. There were times I wondered why it was me she had come to, but I never dwelt too much on it; I was so happy to have something…someone right there to care about, to give my life meaning. But I never let it show too much when I was with her. I was so afraid of our tenuous bond that I wanted nothing to destroy it.
It was raining the day she turned to me and asked, “Are you happy, Draco?”
I couldn’t stop myself. “I am when I’m with you,” I said softly.
I expected her to walk away, or give me a look of pity, to gently apologise for misleading me, but instead she took my hand and threaded our fingers together.
I never know how much I could love the rain.
“I don’t think she stopped loving idiot Weasley, but she wasn’t happy, and neither was I and somehow…what we had, that made us happy.” Draco shrugged his translucent shoulders.
“So how long did your affair last?” Sam asked.
“And that whole time, no one noticed?”
Draco gave him a brittle smile. “Of course they noticed. We weren’t stupid, but we were careless at times.”
“So that’s how it all started,”
“Yes,” Draco’s eyes had that sad, faraway look in them again. “Weasley came by that night to tell me he knew I was sleeping with his wife.”
“And I’m sure you didn’t rub it in or anything,” Sam said sarcastically.
“Well, maybe a little,” Draco smirked. “But I tried not to. And then he told me…”
“That she’d been attacked.”
“He thought I had done it.” Draco looked distraught. “He thought I had started it all to hurt her, and I couldn’t tell him that I would never do that, because I love her. He was too angry to see reason. He was ready to kill me, I could see that, but he said he’d rather let the Aurors take care of me. And then he left and Pansy came in.”
“And she knew as well?”
Draco nodded. “Weasley told her. I couldn’t talk to her; the only thing on my mind was Hermione and getting out of that house to see her and that’s when Pansy told me…”
“That she was behind the attack on Hermione,” Sam finished.
The two men sat quietly for a long time, Sam staring at Draco and Draco staring at nothing. Finally he spoke. “There were so many thoughts running through my head: Weasley, Pansy, Hermione, my son…I needed to leave. All I wanted at that moment was to see Hermione for myself, to know that she was all right. Pansy was furious, but I didn’t care. I didn’t believe her when she threatened me, because I knew she’d never leave me and she didn’t have the guts to hurt me.”
“But she didn’t know you had changed your will to exclude her.”
“Which would have given her a reason not to kill me.” Draco smiled in spite of himself. “I didn’t expect it of her, really. She’s not usually one to get her hands dirty. I suppose you’re going to arrest her?”
Sam shook his head. “I don’t have the evidence we need to do anything, but I’ve turned everything over to the Aurors. I’m fairly certain they’ll be able to use it all against her.” He looked carefully at Draco. “And you?”
Draco smiled sadly. “Me? I believe it’s time for me to go.”
Still have one more thing to do, though.
DI Tyler gives me her new address, even before I can ask. I wouldn’t have pegged him as a romantic, but I suppose everyone needs to have hope that the world isn’t as bleak as it seems at times.
She’s moved to a house still in Kingston, but far enough away from her old place and Weasley that she won’t run into him often. That’s one reason I chose it in the first place.
I find her reading in front of the fire and every inch of my being longs to touch her, just one last time. I let my hand rest through her hair, and I see her shiver before she turns to me. Her smile is as warm and beautiful as it always is.
“Draco,” she whispers softly.
“Hello,” I smile at her, and her eyes fill with tears. “Please don’t cry,” I beg.
“I miss you,” she says.
“I miss you more.”
She laughs. “Always need to one up me.”
I laugh too. “I like your new house.”
“I bet you do,” she says saucily. “It’s quite grand. Five bedrooms though? That’s a little much.”
“I’d had plans on filling them all,” I say in the same tone, but I can see the glittering tracks the tears have made on her cheeks. “I’m so sorry,” I murmur. “I never wanted to make you cry.”
“It’s just hard some days,” she cries. “The children get confused sometimes, and my friends…well, I think they’re confused as well.”
“My son?” I whisper.
This makes her smile again. “As brilliant as ever.” She puts her hand next to mine. “He misses you too. He seems to like it here, when he comes home. But he misses you.”
“I miss him too,” I bite my lip. “I love him.” For a long time we sit and just look at each other. I know I don’t have long, but I can’t bring myself to go. I close my eyes. Just give me this. Please.
This time, when I touch her cheek, I can feel her shiver.
“Hermione,” I breathe, my hands cupping her warm face. “I love you.”
“I love you, Draco,” she breathes back, and I tilt my head and I’m kissing her, pouring my broken heart and soul into it, my lips lingering on hers until I fade away.