Warning: This chapter gets a bit… bloody.

I swear I have no clue where these are going until I start writing.

Previously: 'Draco smirks ever-so-slightly. "Haven't you learned by now, Potter? I'm full of surprises."'


Draco slips off his cloak and goes to hang it on the peg in their office — musing as he does so that that's a strange, foreign turn of phrase: their office. They have an office, not just a couple of desks stuck in the corner of Waters' office. A proper office, with two proper desks and trays and organisers and pegs for cloaks. Not a big office, no, not as first year Aurors, but an office that is theirs, nonetheless. It's a strange feeling, but a pleasant one — one of progress, of movement upward. He smiles slightly.

Before he can manage to hang the cloak properly, though, Harry says, "You really needn't bother. We've got a case." He stands, gesturing with the file he must've found on his desk when he walked in.

Their first solo case. A thrum of something that might be excitement shoots through Draco and he wonders how long it will be until the novelty of promotion beyond Trainee status wears off.

Harry's face is grim as Draco slides his cloak back on and takes the file. Harry plucks his own cloak off the peg and waves the lights off absentmindedly. "Man found dead this morning. Someone severed an artery with a Cutting Curse — made for quite a… gory scene," he says soberly. Draco flips through the file, noting from the page of notes that the man is still unidentified — wizard, though, as he still had his wand on him. Gory, he finds, is a somewhat apt description of the scene. It's one of the worst they've seen in their year, and he thanks Merlin for that.

He's learned enough about human beings in the last year to know why — arteries, apparently, have stronger blood flow, because they're where it's still going away from the heart. By the time it gets to the veins it's slowed down a bit.

Muggles, apparently, all got this sort of education, though Draco still cannot fathom why. What if one were to become an accountant or something of the sort? Waters told him it was about knowing things for knowledge's sake, not for their usefulness — after all, he'd said, what does a shopkeeper need with Herbology?

Draco hadn't had an answer, but he's still not sure why in Merlin's name a man who deals nothing with the body would need to know about such violent things as blood.

He flips through to the last photo and he knows his eyes widen. "I know this man," he says carefully. "His name is Phineas Burke. He was an… associate… of my father's. How have they not yet identified him?"

Harry looks up at him, startled, but then something resembling mirth enters his eyes. "I suspect the Auror that took the call wasn't a pure-blood."

The corner of Draco's mouth twitches. "I suppose so."

"Draco," Harry asks as they step into the elevator. "How do wizards identify bodies? That is, when they don't know?"

Harry and Draco have only worked three cases where the victim was dead, and in all of those he or she was found by someone who knew the victim, someone who could identify him or her.

Draco shrugs a bit. "I suspect in this case they'd have taken the wand to Ollivander. He remembers every wand he's ever sold; he'd know whose it is. Beyond that… I'm not actually certain. I know magical signature is unique, but I'm don't know whether or not that lingers after death."

A year ago, the words wouldn't have come out of his mouth. He wouldn't admit a lack of knowledge to Potter, an enemy. But Harry isn't an enemy anymore. He's an ally, a partner, and Draco has found that trying to pretend he knows things he doesn't is effective at preserving his pride and not so effective at solving cases, and while that still doesn't mean it's easy, it does at least mean that it's possible for him to admit.

"Why?" he asks, suddenly curious. "How do Muggles do it?"

Harry shrugs. "Something called DNA. Don't know much about the details of it, but I do know that everyone's got it, and everyone's different, so they can match it." He shrugs again. "Aunt Petunia liked to watch crime shows. I'm not sure how accurate they were; I never really trust things I see on the telly to be entirely scientific. They need a piece of blood or hair or skin or something like that, a piece of you."

Draco wrinkles his face. "That's somewhat disturbing, you know."

Harry shrugs again. "Wizards put hair in potions and then drink it. I can't say that that's any less disturbing — frankly, I think it's more so."

Draco tips his head, conceding the point. "I do wish you'd stop shrugging, though. It's so… plebeian."

Harry laughs. "You do realise that that isn't an insult, don't you, Draco? Not to me, at least."

Draco tips his chin up haughtily just as the elevator stops. "Yes, well, that isn't my fault that you don't know what's proper."

Harry rolls his eyes, still chuckling a bit as they step out into the Atrium. "We're horrid at decorum, d'you know that?"

Draco lifts an eyebrow at him. "I have no idea why in Merlin's name you would use the word we there. I happen to be perfectly excellent at maintaining decorum, as you well know."

"Oh, yes, well. On the outside. Come on, Draco. We all know you're laughing on the inside." He smirks. "627 Market Lane. Know it?"

Draco nods, and Harry takes his elbow, relaxing instead of tensing. Draco nods approvingly and they pop out of existence.

Draco watches Harry land steadily and smiles a bit on the inside. It took about two weeks of randomly Apparating Harry without warning, but the man had finally learned how to land smoothly and immediately ready for any situation.

"627 Market Lane." He nods at the house. "Burke lived here. I've only seen it once, and I've not been inside — Father was stopping by to collect something, I don't know what, and he had me wait there." He points to the bench underneath the streetlamp two houses down. Not visible from 627. Why Lucius hadn't wanted Burke to see him, Draco has never known.

He flips the file in his hands open. "Neighbor found him, then?"

Harry nods. "He was trying to collect on a loan Burke had borrowed some time prior. Knocked on the door to no response, got a bit angry. Said Burke doesn't go out much, so he figured the man was just trying to avoid him."


"I think so. File doesn't quite specify, does it?"

Draco shakes his head in reply. "How exactly did a Muggle manage to break down his door?"

"Well, he can't exactly have had Muggle wards, can he? Not in this neighborhood."

Draco looks at the house, at the door hanging half off it's hinges. "That door is solid oak. Expensive, and more importantly, heavy."

Harry shrugs — unabashedly, which makes Draco want to grin and reprimand him at the same time. "Maybe the hinge was faulty?"

They've been getting closer as they speak, and Draco shakes his head as he catches sight of the neighbor fidgeting in the entryway. "I'm not sure it had to be. "

The man is over six feet tall and probably broader across the shoulders than Harry and Draco combined. The sleeves on his T-shirt look displeased to be restraining his biceps.

"That answers that question then, I suppose," Harry says flatly. Draco nods, unable to resist a wry twist of his lips.

"That it does," he murmurs as they step through the door. "That it does."

Finnigan is standing with the man in the entryway — apparently they've pulled first response this shift, but they must be about to go off shift, or they'd have worked the case themselves.

"Hey, Seamus," Harry says. Draco nods at him. Finnigan grimaces in reply.

"Better you than me on this one, I'd say. Dean's through there. I…" He shudders, which Draco takes to mean that Finnigan couldn't handle the mess. He's scornful, until he steps through the doorway that Finnigan's gestured to.

Far worse in person than in pictures, as usual, as Draco had expected, but still, he hadn't been expecting this. Dean looks up from where he's kneeling, inspecting the body. He nods at them, his face carefully impassive — but only just. Draco is actually mildly impressed.

"Carotid artery is always… forceful," he says soberly. "But this…" He trails off, but he doesn't need to finish the sentence. He gets up and carefully steps around the patterns on the floor, shaking his head as he does so. "I'm not certain I want to sleep tonight." He doesn't have to elaborate on why.

"Off shift?" Harry asks softly.

Dean glances at his wristwatch and then nods heavily. "Yes. Thank God for that." He follows them into the entryway, them to interview the neighbor who found the body — the six foot plus ox is trembling like a leaf in the wind — and him to join his partner and leave. Harry sighs, and Draco empathises with the sentiment. It's going to be a long shift.