Sunday, June 16th 10.30pm.
The blonde woman stood in the dark alley, shivering with the cold. She had been waiting for nearly half an hour and was close to giving up on her date and returning home to the warmth of her small flat. Considering it was the middle of June it was bitter cold and now it was starting to drizzle with rain. Pulling her flimsy jacket around her body she checked her watch one final time before deciding to head home.
As she pulled her umbrella out of her bag, a noise from behind caught her attention. Twirling round to discover what the noise was she came face to face with the man she had been waiting for.
"You scared me. I thought you weren't coming." The woman said, a large smile breaking out on her face.
"Sorry, I got held up." The man shrugged.
"It doesn't matter, let's get out of this rain." The woman said.
"I don't think so," The man said, an evil glint in his eyes. "I've got you exactly where I want you."
Before the woman could respond in any way, the man whipped out his wand and pointed it straight at her.
"Crucio." He cried, causing the woman to fall to the ground writhing in agony.
Once he was satisfied the woman was too weak to cause him any trouble, he lifted the curse. Turning her over onto her back he pinned her to the floor with his larger body and ripped her jacket and blouse off her slender body.
"Silencio." He cast on the defenceless woman, before drawing a knife from his pocket.
The petrified woman saw the knife and began to struggle uselessly against the man who was holding her down.
"Petrificus Totalus." He said, causing the woman to freeze. The only part of her moving was her eyes, which frantically darted from side to side.
Satisfied the woman was now immobile, the man moved off her body and squatted down beside her.
"It's nothing personal, you just work for the wrong person." The man told the woman.
Calmly, the man brought the knife to the woman's stomach and started carving into her firm torso. The woman's eyes filled with pain as she tried unsuccessfully to scream and struggle at the excruciating pain she was feeling.
Five minutes later, the man stopped the carving and stepped back to admire his work. His message was clearly visible on the woman's body, her blood giving it a chilling finish. Glancing at the woman, he saw she had passed out with the pain. Quickly he checked her pulse, she was still breathing but only just.
Pulling his wand back out of his pocket he undid the two spells that were on the woman. Stepping back he pointed his wand at her for one final time.
"Avada Kedavra." He shot the prone woman's body with the killing curse.
Checking he had left no evidence of his identity, the man apparated away with a sharp crack.
Monday, June 17th 11.00am.
"Auror Department." Harry Potter said, flashing his identification to the Magical Law Enforcement officer that stood at the end of the alley.
Ron Weasley followed suit, flashing his Auror badge to the officer as well. Together the two best friends headed into the alley and towards the crime scene.
"What have we got?" Harry asked, as him and Ron approached the scene.
"Young female, suspected use of the killing curse." The officer standing beside a tarp cover said.
"Let's have a look then." Ron said, moving to the tarp and pulling it back.
Harry and Ron started down at a young woman with light blonde hair that hung below her shoulders. Her shirt was missing and her torso was exposed, there were deep knife wounds and dry blood was covering a large portion of her stomach. Harry pulled out his wand and waved it over the body.
"Definitely the killing curse." He said, when a green light surrounded the body. "Does she look familiar to you?" He asked Ron.
"I don't know, it's hard to tell." Ron replied, looking at the woman's face. He often found people looked extremely different once they were dead.
"When was she found?" Harry asked the officer who was standing nearby.
"The alley backs onto a restaurant just off Diagon Alley, the owner found her when he opened up for the lunchtime shift."
"What time was this?" Ron asked, making notes with a magical quill.
"Half ten, we arrived at quarter to eleven." The officer said, looking pale.
"Write up the details and make sure we have it, so we can follow up with the restaurant owner." Ron told the officer.
"Are you alright?" Harry asked, noticing the officer was looking peaky.
"I'm fine, it's just we don't deal with dead bodies very often." The officer replied, not wanting to look unfit for service.
"It's something you get used to, unfortunately." Ron said sympathetically. Dealing with death on a regular basis was something Ron had found difficult to cope with when he first joined the Auror department.
Harry had turned back to victim while Ron was sympathising with the officer from the Magical Law Enforcement team. Walking around the body, he looked for anything that might be vital in their investigation.
"Ron, come here." Harry said solemnly, stopping at the dead woman's feet.
"What is it?" Ron asked, moving to stand beside his friend and partner.
"Look." Harry pointed.
From the angle they were standing the knife wounds made a pattern. Or more accurately they formed two initials.
"No, it doesn't mean… it can't." Ron stuttered, not wanting to believe his eyes.
On the woman's torso, very clearly carved were the initials H.G.
"I think it does. The woman, I know who she is now." Harry said. "She's Hermione's secretary."
Ron looked more closely at the woman, Harry was right. The dead woman was Hermione's secretary. Melanie, Melissa, something like that.
"Harry, this is clearly a message. Hermione's in danger." Ron exclaimed.
"Don't worry, we'll make sure nothing happens to her." Harry assured his friend, in truth he was just as worried as Ron.
"Oh god, Ryan." Ron said, paling at the thought that had appeared in his mind.
"Ron, it'll be fine. We'll send someone for him when we get back to the office." Harry said, placing a calming hand on Ron's arm.
Ryan was Ron and Hermione's six year old son. While Ron and Hermione's marriage had been over for nearly three years, they were still good friends and Ron was a dedicated father to his eldest child.
As Ron was panicking over the safety of his son and ex-wife, the second part of the team of Auror's arrived to secure the scene. Each team of Auror's consisted of four people, each working in two teams of pairs. Harry and Ron were the first time, they led the investigation and handled the witnesses and clues. The second team, which were Cho Chang and Terry Boot, dealt with processing the scenes of crimes and analysing the evidence. Cho was also a qualified Healer and performed the medical examinations of the bodies.
"Hi, Harry. What have we got?" Cho asked, snapping her protective gloves on.
"Female, killed by the killing curse." Harry said, as Cho bent to get a better look at the body. "It's Hermione's secretary."
"Melinda. She was a sweet girl." Terry said, leaning over to get a better look.
"Are you sure?" Cho asked.
"Ninety nine per cent. I'll wait for you to confirm it of course." Harry said.
"Oh God. Hermione's initials have been carved into her torso." Cho exclaimed.
"I know, we need to get back to the Ministry so we can talk to Hermione." Harry said, running his hands down his face. "Let us know when you're back and we can hold a meeting, I have a feeling this is going to get ugly."
"Fine, are you okay Ron?" Terry said, noticing his colleague looked slightly shell shocked.
"Yes, I'm fine." Ron said, nodding at Terry.
"Come on, let's get back." Harry said, taking his friend out of the alley.
Monday, June 17th 11.45am.
Harry was explaining the situation to Kingsley Shackelbolt, The Minister For Magic, when Ron entered the room.
"Is everything okay?" Harry asked.
"Yeah, Mum went and picked Ryan up from school. He's at The Burrow now." Ron said, sinking into a seat next to Harry.
"Will you be alright on this case Ron. I can reassign it if it's too hard for either of you." Kingsley said, knowing that Harry would be just as affected as Ron by Hermione's involvement.
"I'll be fine. As long as I know Ryan and Hermione are safe, it's okay." Ron said. "Where is she? I thought you were going to get in touch with her?" He asked, turning towards Harry as he was speaking.
"She's in court. She's fine." Harry reassured his friend.
Hermione was a lawyer for the Ministry and specialised in prosecution. Harry had already wondered if someone she had prosecuted had targeted her for revenge.
"When she's finished, I've left a message for her to come here." Kingsley explained. "How much are you planning on telling her?"
"Everything." Harry said, causing Kingsley to raise his eyebrows in shock.
"She'll only be mad if we don't keep her fully informed." Ron said, knowing how feisty his ex could be.
"Besides, we might need Hermione help to solve this case." Harry said. "Knowing Hermione she'll insist on being part of the investigation team, I planned on letting her if it's okay."
"That's fine with me." Kingsley said. "Have you thought about protection for Hermione and Ryan?"
"They can stay with one of us or at The Burrow." Ron suggested, causing Harry to pull a face. "What?"
"No offense mate, but I doubt Hermione wants to stay with her ex-husband and his new wife and baby." Harry said gently, not wanting to upset Ron.
"Fine, what about yours or The Burrow."
"Pretty much the same idea. If she stays at The Burrow, it's staying with her ex in-laws. And if she stays with me she's staying with her ex sister-in-law."
"But Hermione's still part of the family, mum and dad would be happy to have her as would Gin." Ron protested.
"How about we provide security so Hermione can stay at her own house, that would be best I think." Kingsley interrupted. "Besides if Hermione's safe then you two can concentrate on your jobs and solving this murder."
"That's fine, what did you have in mind?" Ron said, knowing Kingsley's solution was the best answer to Hermione's safety concerns.
"The Ministry's Elite Security Unit." Kingsley said.
"Aren't they just for visiting dignitaries?" Ron asked, his nose crinkling in distaste at the idea.
The Elite Security Unit was a specialist team that provided security for any high profile person that was in need of it. Kingsley himself used the team whenever he was in a foreign country on business, as well as occasionally in this country. The team was constructed of wizards who were highly skilled in defensive and protective magic. The team were experts at warding buildings and performing rare and difficult security charms.
"No, they provide security for however is in need." Kingsley said, having a good idea of Ron's reluctance to use the specialist team. "Is it the use of the team you protest to or the head of the team?"
"Neither, I'm just not sure they're the best solution." Ron grumbled.
"I hate to admit it Ron, but Kingsley's right. They are the best in the business and Hermione would be really safe in their protection." Harry said. "Despite the team leader being a git." He couldn't resist the dig at the end which caused a smile to appear on Ron's face.
"That's settled then, I'll call Mr Malfoy and arrange for him to come and be briefed on his new assignment." Kingsley said.
Harry and Ron shared a look as Kingsley left the room to send a message to Malfoy. Despite being a very different man from the bully they went to school with, neither was looking forward to working with the blond.