The fourth chapter of The Return of Harry Holmes! Please leave a review at the door, let me know what you think!
THE DOLL MAKER STRIKES AGAIN!
Harry sighed rather loudly as he sat with Neville in the sitting room of 221B Diagon Alley. The young Lucy had turned up, dead. That was the fifth victim of the Doll Maker... Neville had to admit, not much made him feel sick these days, being a Healer and companion of Harry Potter, but this case truly made him want to vomit. Apparently, the Doll Maker was getting more and more violent, as this girl was apparently mutilated to the point of hardly being recognizable.
"Once again, the Ministry shows its incompetence," Harry said, slapping the newspaper and dropping it to the floor. The two sat in silence as Harry grumpily picked up his violin and started strumming it, the notes reflecting his foul mood.
After a few minutes, Harry put down the violin and reached for the floor, picking up the file on the Doll Maker and handing it over to Neville.
"Tell me, Neville, can you see a pattern?"
Neville looked through the articles in the file, shaking his head.
"All of them eleven, all of them mutilated, and all of them wearing the same style of dresses," Neville said. "Other than that, nothing."
"Ah, you see, but you do not observe. You fail to see what isn't there."
"And what isn't there?"
"A motive, a reason for these kidnappings."
"So... no motive, no reason, no apparent connection with the victims..." Neville muttered, humming. "Are we dealing with a psychotic?"
"So it would seem," Harry said, nodding as he leaned back in his armchair, stretching out his legs as had become custom for him ever since he returned to Britain. "Her Modus Operandi is clear, but her kidnappings are random, sporadic... She kidnaps her victims on a whim... Walworth, St. Luke's, Hoxton, Pentonville, Westbourne Green... She follows no predictable pattern, which makes her all the more dangerous. This case would be very amusing, were it not so sickening..."
That evening, Harry and Neville were summoned to South Kensington, where another kidnapping had taken place. They were met by Kingsley and Hit Wizard Wright, a grim-looking, older man, who was on the verge of balding, his gray hair showing his age.
"Mr. Potter, Mr. Longbottom," Wright greeted, shaking both men's hands. "Glad you could make it," he said as they made their way onto the playground where the kidnapping had taken place. "The victim's name is Elsa Gibbons, age eleven, like the others, due to start at Hogwarts in September."
"Neville, do take notes," Harry suggested, though unnecessarily, as Neville had already started writing down the details regarding the victim as soon as Wright had spoken. "The parents saw nothing?"
"Not a thing," Wright said, shaking his head.
"Naturally... Ah, high-heeled, square-toed boots," he said, no doubt noticing a track on the ground. "Same woman, same M.O. Hopefully, we'll be able to get to this one in time, provided that the Ministry finally decides to give me free reigns?"
Harry glanced at Wright and Kingsley with a raised eyebrow, only for the two of them to start fidgeting nervously.
"Well, sir, if it were up to me, I would gladly allow you free reigns," Kingsley said hesitantly, "but Scrimgeour... he has decided that we only want you as a consultant in this case."
"Are you mad?" demanded a voice from behind them, and they spun around to see a middle-aged couple walking up to them, looking quite distraught. The man, who was the one who had spoken, looked outraged. "This is Harry Potter, the greatest detective this country has ever seen, and you won't let him do whatever it takes to find our little Elsa?"
"Sir, if it were up to me-" Kingsley started, only to be interrupted by Mr. Gibbons, who looked to Harry.
"Please, Mr. Potter, find her! I will pay you whatever it takes, just find her!"
A hint of a smirk made its way onto Harry's face, and he lit a cigarette, taking a long drag, before looking to Kingsley.
"Well, it appears that my services have been acquired by someone other than the Ministry. A shame, but I cannot help you."
"Too bad," Kingsley said, and he looked relieved to know that Harry was on the case, as he should. "Well, I wish you the best of luck. We will do our best on our end, as well."
"Best of luck to you too, Kingsley," Harry said with a nod, and with that, the two turned their backs on each other, Kingsley walking off with Wright, while Harry focused on the Gibbons. "Now, Mr. and Mrs. Gibbons, you saw nothing?"
"No, nothing," Mrs. Gibbons said, her eyes glistening with tears. "One second she was there, and the next, she was gone..."
"I am certain it took a lot longer than a second," Harry said, "but I get your point. Thank you, I will do my best to make sure you can embrace your beloved Elsa once more."
Giving a bow of his head, Harry walked off, and Neville followed.
"So?" Neville asked, seeing a glint in his partner's eyes.
"I have noticed something, something I failed to take into account the last time," Harry said. "Have you noticed something about the tracks?"
"I can't even see the tracks, let alone notice something odd about them," Neville said with a shake of his head. "Why? What can you see?"
"I can see tracks," Harry said. "This woman doesn't Apparate away with her victims, but instead walks away with them. Why would she do that?"
"Because she doesn't want to attract attention?" Neville suggested. Then, his eyes widened when it clicked. "Or... because she can't Apparate?"
"An adult who doesn't know how to Apparate?" Harry said, raising an eyebrow. "Unheard of, no?"
"A Squib, then?"
"That's what I suspect."
"So, maybe she murders these children out of jealousy?"
"One might think so, but I doubt it. If a psychotic kidnapper wanted to murder someone out of jealousy, why dress them up? Why attempt to sew them back up after she's done with them? No... I think there's more to this than that."
"Well, it took some coaxing, but I finally got Kingsley to release the list of recorded Squibs in Britain," Neville said as he entered Harry's flat. He set down a huge pile of parchments on the table between their armchairs, and Harry looked down at the pile, then up at Neville.
"We're going to need some coffee..."
And so, the duo found themselves going through the list of Squibs, writing down female names and cross-checking them with older articles from the Daily Prophet, to see if they could find some sort of connection. It was a bit thin, in Neville's opinion, and as he suspected, they didn't find anything.
It was infuriating, how little progress they were making, while a little girl's life was at stake, and it never ceased to surprise Neville how calm Harry remained throughout it all.
"Hello," Harry said, looking through a twenty-year-old copy of the Daily Prophet, "what have we here?"
"Hm?" Neville, taking a break and sipping a cup of coffee, hummed, raising an eyebrow. Harry handed over the newspaper, and Neville took it.
ELEVEN-YEAR-OLD LISA GIBSON FOUND DEAD!
A London family was shattered today, when the body
of eleven-year-old Lisa Gibson was found in a park,
mutilated beyond recognition. In her despair, the mo-
ther, Erica Gibson, committed suicide, leaving her hus-
band and oldest daughter on their own...
"Merlin's beard..." Neville muttered, and Harry nodded, going through the Squib list.
"Ah, here we are... Fifty-year old Greta Gibson, a Squib," Harry said with a triumphant chuckle. "Well, I'd say the pieces are falling into place quite nicely."
"Is she trying to fill the void left by the loss of her sister?" Neville asked, setting down the newspaper while watching Harry, who was putting on his frock coat. "Or is she trying to recreate her sister's murder?"
Harry grinned. "Let's ask her," he said pleasantly, and together the two left 221B Diagon Alley.
They appeared with a crack in front of a rundown old house. It looked just as badly taken care of as the Lestrange manor. As they approached it, Harry kept his eyes on the ground, giving small hums here and there. Neville, however, focused only on the door that was getting steadily closer.
They reached the door, and Harry raised his hand, knocking three times. A muffled voice was heard from inside, and though it was muffled, they could still hear that it was sharp and angry. Following the voice was hurried footsteps, and the door opened to reveal an older woman, her face gaunt and her black hair a mess. Her eyes were bloodshot, and she was staring straight into Neville's eyes with a soulless gaze that sent a shiver up his spine.
"Yes?" the woman asked sharply, obviously wanting nothing to do with them.
"Are you Greta Gibson?" Harry asked pleasantly, but his tone was commanding, and Neville thought he could detect a promise of pain behind his words.
"Yes?" the woman repeated suspiciously. "Who are you?"
"How refreshing to be asked that question," Harry said, smiling, though the smile was a dangerous one. "I am Harry Potter, and this is my friend and partner, Healer Neville Longbottom. We were wondering if Lisa is home?"
Greta's eyes narrowed suspiciously. "What do you want with Lisa?" she asked, glancing from Harry to Neville, then back again. "If you're here to take her away..."
"We are," Harry said simply.
Immediately, the woman withdrew from behind her back a very large kitchen knife, and swiped at Harry, who immediately jumped back, having no doubt been prepared for it, and the two men drew their wands. With a flash of red, the woman hit the ground, unconscious.
"Lisa?" Neville asked, raising an eyebrow as they stood over the unconscious Greta.
"You were right, Neville," Harry said simply. "She was trying to fill the void left by the loss of her sister. When the victims refused to cooperate, she no doubt flew into a rage, killing them, and when she came out of it, she tried hopelessly to 'repair' her victims."
Humming, Harry reached into his waistcoat and fished out his watch, looking at it.
"And if my owl arrived on time, we should be getting a visit right around... now."
At the last word, cracks were heard as several Aurors appeared on the scene, accompanied by none other than Rufus Scrimgeour himself.
"Potter!" Scrimgeour barked as the Aurors charged into the house, two of them picking up the unconscious Greta and carrying her inside. "I thought my orders were clear. You were to stay out of this case!"
"Hm, if I did, you'd be cleaning up another corpse, and chasing a rumor," Harry said calmly, smirking at Scrimgeour. "Besides, Elsa's parents hired me, not the Ministry. Why they thought you'd need any assistance is beyond me, though."
Scrimgeour bristled, glaring heatedly at Harry.
"Be that as it may, in the future I expect you to obey my orders!"
"I don't work for you," Harry said, his smirk disappearing to be replaced with a cold frown. "Now, now, Scrimgeour," he said, making his disrespect clear for anyone listening to hear, "don't let your pride get in the way of success. You need me a lot more than I need you, it just hurts too much to admit it."
Scrimgeour didn't retort, but his glare didn't let up. On the contrary, it intensified, which in Neville's opinion was only helping him prove Harry right.
"Well, in any case, London can breathe a sigh of relief," Scrimgeour said after a moment of silence, his glare letting up, no doubt actually thinking about just what Harry had accomplished.
"Indeed," Neville said happily. "Thanks to the excellent work of the Ministry of Magic's Department for Magical Law Enforcement, with the help of London's only consulting detective."
"Bravo, Mr. Scrimgeour," Harry said, patting Scrimgeour on the shoulder.
"Gentlemen," a woman's voice said, a woman easily recognized as Rita Skeeter. The three turned to see the venomous reporter herself, standing next to her cameraman Bozo, who was ready to take a picture. "Cheese!"
With that, the flash bulb went off.
Rarely have I ever seen beauty like Fleur's, except that of my own wife's. During the wedding, I could tell that all eyes were on her as she came walking down the aisle with Monsieur Delacour, who was bouncing and beaming, not at all the lazy man Neville had grown accustomed to. Fleur was wearing a very simple, white dress, and seemed to be emitting a strong, silvery glow. While her radiance usually dimmed almost everyone else by comparison, today it beautified everybody it fell upon. Gabrielle and a veela cousin of Fleur's, both wearing golden dresses, looked even prettier than they had before, not to mention my own wife, who looked like a goddess. Harry, who had looked tired and a bit weary, looked as strong and healthy as ever before, standing tall and proud.
"Ladies and gentlemen," Dumbledore said, once more handling the wedding, just as he had with my own. The speech he gave was almost the same one he gave at my wedding, though the joy he with which he spoke the words made the speech seem very original. He was beaming at Harry and Fleur, as if he had never seen a more wonderful couple.
"Do you, Harry James, take Fleur Isabelle...?"
In the front row, I could see Fleur's mother sobbing quietly into a scrap of lace, and Monsieur Delacour was amicably patting her on the hand, whispering soothing words, I suspected, into her ear.
"...then I declare you bonded for life!"
Once more, Dumbledore waved his wand high over Harry and Fleur's heads, just as he had done at my wedding, only this time golden stars fell upon the two, spiraling around their entwined figures.
"Ladies and gentlemen! If you would please stand up!"
Soon enough, the happy couple was out on the dance floor, moving to the rhythm of the song that was being played by the band, The Weird Sisters...
One autumn night, a few months after the capture of the deranged Doll Maker, Neville was seated by his own hearth, smoking a last cigar and nodding over a novel, as his day's work had been an exhausting one. His wife had already come upstairs and gone to bed. He had risen from his seat and was putting out his cigar when he suddenly heard the clang of the bell.
He looked at the clock. It was a quarter to twelve. This couldn't be a visitor at so late an hour. A patient, evidently, and possibly an all-night sitting. With a wry face, Neville went out into the hall and opened the door. To his astonishment, it was Sir Harry Potter who stood upon his doorstep.
"Ah, Neville," he said happily. "I hoped that I might not be too late to catch you."
"My dear fellow, please come in."
"You look surprised, and no wonder! Relieved, too, I fancy! Hum! You still smoke Old Toby's cigars of your bachelor days, then! There's no mistaking that fluffy ash upon your coat. Could you put me up to-night?"
"You told me that you had bachelor quarters for one, and I see that you have no gentleman visitor at present. Your hat-stand proclaims as much."
"I shall be delighted if you will stay."
"Thank you. I'll fill the vacant peg then. Sorry to see that you've had the British workman in the house. He's a token of evil. Not the drains, I hope?"
"No, the gas."
"Ah! He has left two nail-marks from his boot on your wooden floor just where the light strikes it. No, thank you, I had some supper at Waterloo, but I'll smoke a pipe with you with pleasure."
Neville handed him him pouch, and he seated himself opposite to Neville and smoked for some time in silence. Neville was well aware that nothing but business of importance would have brought Harry to him at such an hour, so he waited patiently until he should come round to it.
"I see that you are professionally rather busy just now," he said, glancing very keenly across at Neville.
"Yes, I've had a busy day," Neville answered. "It may seem very foolish in your eyes," he added, "but really I don't know how you deduced it."
Harry chuckled to himself.
"I have the advantage of knowing your habits, my dear Neville," he said. "When your round is a short one you walk, and when it is a long one you Apparate. As I perceive that your boots, although used, are by no means dirty, I cannot doubt that you are at present busy enough to justify the Apparition."
"Excellent!" I cried.
"Elementary," he said. "It is one of those instances where the reasoner can produce an effect which seems remarkable to his neighbor, because the latter has missed the one little point which is the basis of the deduction. The same may be said, my dear fellow, for the effect of some of these little sketches of yours, which is entirely meretricious, depending as it does upon your retaining in your own hands some factors in the problem which are never imparted to the reader. Now, at present I am in the position of these same readers, for I hold in this hand several threads of one of the strangest cases which ever perplexed a man's brain, and yet I lack the one or two which are needful to complete my theory. But I'll have them, Neville, I'll have them!" His eyes kindled and a slight flush sprang into his thin cheeks. For an instant the veil had lifted upon his keen, intense nature, but for an instant only. When Neville glanced again his face had resumed that red-Indian composure which had made so many regard him as a machine rather than a man.
"The problem presents features of interest," he said. "I may even say exceptional features of interest. I have already looked into the matter, and have come, as I think, within sight of my solution. If you could accompany me in that last step you might be of considerable service to me."
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