(1939-02-04) I've Got a Theory!
Details for I've Got a Theory!
Summary: In which Rena and Hugh, aided by Shelley, Susan, and Cyril discuss theories relating to recent crime
Date: 1939-02-04
Location: Magical Law Enforcement, Ministry of Magic
Related: Preceeded by The Wand Did Nothing in the Nighttime

One particular corner of the Aurors office appears to be on fire, for behind a large pile of folders and documents can be seen a steady plume of blue smoke. Beyond that it's hard to tell what's going on, save that the only thing visible on the desk are a pair of shoes, whose owner has seen fit to use the space between stacks of documentation as a footrest, presumably whilst set on fire.

Just another day in the office at MLE.
"What the bloody 'ell!" Rena exclaims upon sighting the outlandish amount of smoke. She drops a folder she had been holding tight to her chest while walking through to reach her desk. Fortunately, the papers don't scatter too far, but the young woman is decidedly unsettled by the apparent fire inside of the office. And rightfully so.
Panicked, because the Ministry doesn't keep fire extinguishers around like normal people do, her wand is brought out in an instant, and she runs toward the desk in question, ready to freeze the fire with a spell… unfortunately, she also manages to trip and fall forward, practically faceplanting into one of the stacks of paper on Hugh's desk.

Hugh removes the pipe from his mouth (incidentally, he seems to smoke a particularly revolting shag tobacco). "Auror Lee, by any chance?" His feet remain resolutely up on the desk.

To be perfectly frank, given how there is now a redheaded woman half-sprawled on his desk in scattered papers… Hugh is right to assume that this particularly clumsy person is Irene Lee. Things like this just never seem to happen to anybody else.
Rena's feet drop back onto the floor, and she pushes herself back into an upright position. Blushing furiously, she takes in the mess she's created. Stammering apologies, she is then seized momentarily by a fit of coughing due to the smoke. "I… *cough-cough* am so.. *cough* Sorry, sir! Yes - Lee."

Hugh puts the pipe to one side, "Oh, sorry, is it a bit thick?" His legs swing down, "No sir involved. Just an initiate myself! Carruthers! Hugh Carruthers! Been reading your files, amongst others. Care to have a little walk, whilst I pick your brains?"

"I… uhm… glad to meet you, Mister Carruthers, I'm sure." The young woman murmurs, still quite dismayed at the spectacle she's made of herself and trying to straighten her clothing and hair once more.
B-but- but-" Rena begins to protest, motioning at the mess of scattered files. She's caused a veritable catastrophe in the office - not that this is anything particularly new in her case. However, this Hugh seems to be of a determined personality, and she gives a little helpless shrug before answering in the affirmative: "S-surely."

Hugh picks up a coat, "Don't call me Shirley." And yes, it's HIS joke. He's making it 40 years before anyone else. "And I like your file system."

Rena blinks at Hugh in a slightly bewildered fashion. His jokes aren't lost on her. She just doesn't know what to do with it, exactly. A nervous laugh escapes, but it is most definitely one of those uncertain ones. "Thanks - I think."
She can pick up her own coat when they pass by her desk as they walk toward the door. "What do you want to pick /my/ brain for?" Rena can't help but ask with a wary sense of curiosity.

Hugh puts the pipe back in one corner of his mouth, albeit without relighting it, "Because you wrote the files on the Willis case. And I'm wanting to cross check."

The young woman's already worried features fall slightly - if that's even possible. She seems to be of such a nervous and timid disposition, at times like these, it's hard to understand why she's even /in/ law enforcement.
"It's a very sad and worrisome case." Rena remarks somberly. "I'll do anything I can to 'elp you with your cross-checking."

Hugh gives a nod, "A half blood and a muggle born, I think. And their daughter, and retainer."

Remaining quite sober, Rena nods in agreement with the facts stated, only adding: "Yea, that's the 'ead count so far." Given how many people have already lost their lives in this messy situation, there's little reason for her to believe more won't die. The witch even tried to use the killing curse on /her/. And that is something that one doesn't forget very easily.

You say, "But Prewett was left unharmed?"

One eyebrow arches at Hugh, and the young woman gives him a rather incredulous look: "I wouldn't exactly call being thrown out of a second story window and landing on the ground 'ard enough to break bones /un'armed/. But if you mean she didn't die - of course not. Unless she's a ghost and I just don't know it."

Hugh puffs at his pipe, "Hard enough to break bones, and be rendered out of action, if someone HAD wanted to killing curse her, then. Is that a decent summary?"

"I would say so, yes," Rena answers, still casting a glance at Hugh that seems a bit on the apprehensive side. "Which, I suppose, is rather odd," she goes on to muse out loud. "Seeing as 'ow the situation I was in was considerably different. That one meant to kill - and no question about it."

Hugh nods, as he strides on, then turns, "Did you have her wands examined? Prewett, I mean?"

By this time, Rena has snatched her coat up from near her desk. Having to trot in order to catch up with Hugh once more, she answers hurriedly: "That ain't my job - but they were, yes."
One arm goes into the coat. "The only spells that 'ad been cast with it recently were stupefy and the focus charm. Everything right, proper and innocuous." The other arm slips into the sleeve.

There's a little nod, as if something were being confirmed, "Alright. I see two theories then. You've just thankfully made the third rather unlikely- although not impossible if she has a third wand. But that strikes me as excessive."

Although far from annoyed, Rena finds her walking companion somewhat confusing. Her brow furrows and she glances at Hugh pointedly whilst doing up the buttons of her coat: "If you've got theories, would you mind cluing a poor girl in?"
For her part, pathetic as it may be for an Auror, Rena has been largely casting about in the darkness about this whole disturbing situation.

You say, "Alright. Why isn't Prewett dead? It makes _sense_ for her to be dead. Don't leave witnesses alive. You're going to Azkhaban anyway, if we catch you, so what's to lose? What's one more death on your conscience when you've killed four, one of them a child?"

Rena struggles momentarily against the expression that wants to slip out. The last thing Shelley would want or need in this life is pity. Understanding - perhaps - but not /pity/.
"Shelley ain't exactly the most reliable witness," Rena remarks quietly, trying to keep her voice as low as possible. "What with her episodes and spells and all… if this person knows anything about 'er, they might just think nobody will take 'er word for whatever she saw. Or else, that she won't remember correctly anyway."

You say, "Maybe. But in that case they _know_ her. Or at least know _of_ her. But I'd suggest a difference in both the fatality incidents involving her. She was Pure Blooded. All the casualties were not."

Rena gives a little "Hrmph" under her breath, tugging her coat cuffs straight rather viciously. "You may be right." Hugh has a point. All of the casualties thus far in this disturbing case have been people sullied by muggle blood. That might easily explain why the witch tried to kill /her/ but not Shelley.
Hugh and Rena are making their way though the MLE office toward the front, discussing the recent troubling deaths of the Willis family.

Hugh is puffing at an unlit pipe, and looking… bohemian. If not Bohemian. "Precisely so. That is the generality of who she is. The alternative is that she is alive because she is, specifically, Shelley Prewett."

"She's alive because she's a jumped up little Welsh shit with a jumped up little name and a fucking sympathy vote from the sodding peanut gallery for losing both legs, all her vital organs and her brain which is not, to her, a vital organ, in the line of fucking duty now get the fuck out of my way," Susan manages, all in one breath without pause, as she storms in through the door and past the pair, heading for her own desk over to one side.

"Well," Rena admits with a nonchalant shrug: "I ain't got a name worth saving and that's a fact, sure enough." As she is only a Muggleborn with an extraordinarily disconnected and insignificant name, purists have little trouble finding reason to grind the likes of her into the dirt with their heels.
"But all that being said, we don't know what the artifact is that they're after. Other than what the diary said. And that's not much to go on."
The young woman's train of thought is well and truly disrupted by Susan's abrupt appearance. Her torrent of insults and flaming language cause her to stop dead in her tracks with her mouth dropped open. She ought to get out of the way, but truth be told, she's too stunned to do anything but stare and stammer: "…The 'ell?"

Hugh strikes a match, and relights his pipe, before removing it from his mouth, "Pardon, Constable?"

"Sympathy," Susan explains herself, settling at her desk and pulling open a drawer with the sort of force that implies that the drawer may not have long to live as a drawer and may soon be repurposed to a box for tipping shit all over the floor. "They're not going to fuck with a fucking cripple, are they? What kind of fucking story does that give to their cause. What next? Gain support by shitting on puppies and setting little old ladies on fire? No, they'll target the faceless masses of oppression. But not if they've got a name. Too much shit, then. Murder a few ministry halfbloods and the point's made, but it's not as though the sacred fucking twenty eight are going to put down their round of mutual self gratification to go and do anything more than fucking tut about it. Where's my fucking quill?"

For her part, Rena is bewildered and completely taken aback by Susan's brutal assessment of the situation. Dark eyes pass between the woman at the desk and the man puffing his pipe beside her. Finally, she manages to close her mouth with a quick snap, only to open it once more. This time, however, she does speak up: "Now, look 'ere" a pause and a glance at the name on the desk plaque, "Constable Menzies. I can't say as whether your theory 'as any grounds in reality or not - but there's no need in talking abusively about your fellow ministry workers." She foolishly admonishes.

Hugh removes the pipe, to puff a cloud of smoke towards Susan, "Frankly, I have not the slightest idea where you left your fucking quill. Do you not find it rather narrow for the purpose though?" And then he chews on the pipestem a moment longer, "I don't think that will stand as a theory twice. Pity rarely stays the hand of someone willing to kill four times. And attempt a fifth. Kill the witnesses. Azkahban can only take you once."

Susan levels her gaze on Rena, hands stilling in their hunt for writing equipment. "First, it's pronounced Menzies, and second, let's not just single her out then. She can't help being a fucking Welsh twat who's as much use as a marzipan dildo. And it's not fucking pity, you great big sack of lubricated horse shit, it's propa-fucking-ganda."

To say that Rena is nonplussed by the interaction between Susan and Hugh would be a massive understatement. For all intents and purposes, she looks like someone caught in the middle of a verbal boxing match; and trying to play referee is more than her job is worth.
A glance is spared the name plate on Susan's desk once more as Rena checks herself. She was absolutely certain that she pronounced the name correctly… "You might make more sense, Constable /Menzies,/" she enunciates carefully, "If you kept a more civil tone and used better language. Why do you think they would use Shelley - who isn't even an active Auror - as propaganda?"

Hugh lets out a big plume of smoke towards Susan. "Excellent. They left her alive. Twice. Because she's a Pureblood." A pause, "Which means they know her."

"They left her alive because she's a cripple," Susan argues, finally finding her quill and running her fingers along the end. "And if you don't like my tone, sweetheart, go back to your nursery, get your nice warm blankie out, and have a little fucking nap until the nasty words go away."

"But they were more than 'appy to try and kill /me/ without so much as batting an eye. If we're being perfectly honest, doing something to /me/ is good propaganda since I've been a thorn in the side to some certain people for months now. Make an example of me. But if it comes down to it, they've left me completely alone since the first incident - and I ain't exactly been 'iding my 'ead in the sand!" Rena objects with some fervor, glaring at Susan without adding commentary to her remark about taking a nap. She's not going to be baited.

Hugh shakes his head briskly, "No. If that was their game, they'd have let the child live. Nor would it have applied in Prewett's other dice with death. I find your theory unconvincing, Constable. Do you have another?"

"I can't for one moment imagine why," Susan notes drily towards Rena, pursing her lips and leaning forward in her seat to begin filling out paperwork. Joy. "Motive. Opportunity. And not being a complete fuckwitted bunglecunt. That's all you need for a murder."

A moment of deep silence ensues between the trio of ministry workers. Rena narrows her eyes at Susan, seemingly counting to ten within her mind before drawing a slow, steadying breath. Apparently calmed, somewhat, the young woman turns to Hugh with a slow blink: "Mister Carruthers, did you 'appen to read the diary fragments located by Shelley? I don't know that they'll prove useful or not, but they might." If she has no means of controlling her temper with Susan, she's going to make an attempt at avoiding unleashing it.

Hugh shakes his head, "I'm yet to reach that point. Are you in a position to summarise? And I have a number of theories. Of which only one has yet been reduced to unlikely."

"Well, I feel safer already just knowing you two are out there," Susan remarks, scratching away with her quill. "I can see now exactly why you get paid so much more than simple fucking grunts like us. Of course you've got fucking theories, you overbloated donkey dick, now go out and get some fucking evidence! Bring some people in and get a damn clue out of somebody."

Rena nods soberly to Hugh, folding her hands before herself primly: "Diary was penned in Latin. Made mention on one page fragment of an Evelyn, stating that as long as she lives under their roof, there are rules - no matter 'ow old she is." There is a pause as Susan gets another jab in, and the young woman merely swallows and raises her chin slightly. "Second page was from June 17th, last year. Spoke of Abram (the man I saw murdered) 'aving returned from Ollivander's at last, excited. Stated that /The Amplifier/ will work. Apparently not pleased, the woman writing this diary complained of the bills not being paid, etc. She wished that the fire at Lima Press 'ad destroyed everything, and that the "crazy" invention would've never wandered into 'is 'ead."

You say, "You see, this is why you're still a constable, Mingis. One gets some clues, as people have, and then these make what we call a _theory_, and then one tests those theories by looking for refuting or confirming evidence. Are you with me so far, or do you need help with some of the longer words like 'we'? Right. Anyway, at present I am still at the 'theory' stage. If you have any theories which fit even the existing evidence, I do encourage you to chip in."

"Aw, did your mummy let you loose with a dictionary again, sweetcheeks?" Susan mocks lightly, glancing up from her paperwork. "Son, I don't even know which case you're getting such a fucking hardon over. But I'm so pleased to see that it takes all the fucking aurors in the city to chase it down. Good thing there's no other crimes going on, eh, oh wait a minute! Yes there are! But if they're not fucking glamorous enough for you, I suppose it'll be the regular workers who get to deal with them. Constables like me. I've arrested more fucking criminals than you've had quiet, lonely wanks in the tub, sunshine. You have fun with your theories. I'll be doing my job and getting fucking scumbuckets off the street."

Hugh's eyes narrow, "You unSPEAKable Bitch!" What exactly pressed his buttons is unclear, "Good day, Cuntstable."

Hugh's abrupt outburst directed at Susan causes Rena's eyes to go wide. She's rather stunned by the suddenness of his losing his cool in that way. For her part, she can't even tell what part of the woman's speech was any different from the rest that it could cause him such anger.
"I… uhm" Rena struggles, backing away from the emotional conflagration. "Good d-day, Constable," she stammers. It seems wiser to leave before anything else can happen.

Hugh stalks away from the C…onstable. "Sorry about that, Lee. I never knew my Mother." That's all the explanation that seems forthcoming.

Rena's expression softens somewhat. Now that they are away from the abrasive constable, she slides her hands into her pockets, taking on a far more relaxed demeanor. A hint of sympathetic sadness enters her eyes as she looks at her fellow Initiate, and she smiles wanly: "I'm so sorry, Mister Carruthers. I can understand that. I never knew mine either. She died a little while after I was born. Always was frail, dad said. She survived giving birth - but the flu epidemic was going 'round."
Rena's head lowers now. Really, nothing more needs to be said with regard to that. Even healthy people failed to survive the 1918 flu. Her mother never stood a chance.

Hugh gives a slight nod. "Right. Back to business. We should go back to the house. And to investigate this machine, of course."

Rena gives Hugh a slightly measured look. He makes no further comment on the subject of absent mothers, and it seems best to leave the subject lie.
"Well, we could," she remarks with regard to returning to the burned remains of the Willis house. "But my biggest fear is that whatever the invention is - this "Amplifier" mentioned in the diary fragment - 'as already been stolen by the murderous perpetrators of this 'orrid crime spree."

Rena and Hugh are walking through the office, leaving behind a very irritable looking constable Susan Menzies who is dealing with paperwork at her desk. Maybe that's her natural state, though.

You say, "Well, that is a possibility. And I suspect we need to trace what precisely it is."

Speaking of absent mothers, the newly be-childed Cyril Malfoy finds his way into the Law Enforcement office, hands tucked into the pockets of his slacks. He gets a slightly annoyed look on his face as he looks at where Edwarlinda would normally be sitting, only to find her empty chair. He curses a bit under his breath and has a look around.

Shelley steps out of one of the meeting rooms, a file in her hands that had - until recently - been spread far and wide on the large table inside. As she closes the door behind her, she looks up to see Rena and Hugh, greeting them both with a brief smile. "Lee," she says first. "Carruthers."

"Magical machines and artifacts aren't exactly my cup of tea, I'll admit," Rena remarks as an aside to Hugh. "I wish I knew what it was we were looking /for/ exactly. But I don't even know what an Amplifier would look like."
Shelley appears, and the young woman gives a startled jump. "Oh, 'ello Shelley - didn't expect to see you." Her eyes catch sight of Cyril nearby, seemingly searching for Edwarlinda, and her head tilts to one side slightly. "I believe she's working on the Sykes Gala case, sir. She's not likely to be in the office much." Rena can at least offer some help in that direction.

Hugh gives a nod, "Might be one to bring in someone from another department for practical aid with. But I think we should take a look at…. Ah, Prewett! Good to see you in work!"

Cyril nods to Rena and sort of deflates, his hands slipping out of his pockets and coming to perch on his hips, "Yes, well, thank you." He looks around for a moment more before turning his eyes back to Rena, "You don't perhaps know where she would be? I'm her brother and I was looking to see if I could be of some help in regards to the case."

"Where else would I be, Carruthers?" Shelley asks in a dry voice. Well - probably battling a horrible hangover, is the other option.
"As for the Amplifier - all we'd know is the size of the case that Narelle - if that is her name - was carrying. We didn't find anything like that case in the ruins." Of course it could have been consumed in the fire - but she doubts it.
Her attention goes to Cyril as she adds in a dubious tone, "We don't generally share the details of cases with /family/ members, sir."

Shelley is right, of course. But, Rena always seems to prefer taking the overly polite route when asked questions like that. "I'm so sorry. I'm afraid I don't know, Mister Malfoy," she replies with a kind smile. It may be presumptuous, but it's fairly easy to assume that the man's name is Malfoy, given how he /is/ Edwarlinda's brother.

Hugh shoves hands in pockets, puffing away at that abominable pipe. Oh yes. Puff puff.

"Oh, no doubt, ma'am. I was merely going to share my knowledge of small-cell terrorist organizations with her," remarks Cyril with a shrug, "But if you think it best that I not, I will be on my way."

Shelley nods to the man at his explination, offering a more politic, "I'm sure she'd appreciate the input - but I'm not sure where Malfoy is right now." Aside from the one standing in front of them, of course.

Cyril dips his head to Shelley and remarks, "You have marvelous hair," before he has one final look around and says, "Maybe she's a Tasseo. I shall check there. Anyway, thank you for your time." With that, the brick house of a man that is Cyril Malfoy slips away to go find his sister.

Hugh gives a brief nod to the other man, clearly waiting for him to withdraw.

The man has information on a terrorist cell, and everyone just acts nonchalant about it as though it were nothing. Rena, for her part on the sidelines, opens and closes her mouth like a fish out of water. How could they just let him slip away like that? Now the young initiate is thoroughly ready to end up beside herself. She wants to bury her face in her hands and scream at this point. Why is EVERYONE in the office being so exaspirating today?

Hugh relents, "Lee, go after him, and see what the insufferable fellow wants. I just want to have a little chat with Prewett."

Shelley raises eyebrows, looking at Hugh and planting one hand on her hip. What new accusations did he want to level /now/?

Hugh puffs away at his pipe, and then finally says, "Your wand analysis confirmed what you told me, of course."

Seeing as how Rena is fairly on the brink of wanting to pull her hair out, she is quite glad to be assigned the task of attempting to chase down Cyril and ask a few polite questions that will likely get her nowhere. With a small nod and a faint smile, the younger redhead slips away from the scene, leaving Hugh to discuss things with Shelley.

"Of course," Shelley responds. And it supports her memory of events - once she'd manage to sift out fact from fiction. "Can't blame ya for wanting to check. I keep tellin' Cohen his /blind/ faith is foolish."

Hugh gives a nod, "So. I'm left with two main working theories, one of which involves you being important to the killer, and one involves you being known as Pure Blooded by the killer. What do _you_ think?"

"I don't know. There's no one in my life - past or present - who I'd suspect of being a dark wizard. I keep a pretty tight circle. And I didn't /recognize/ either of them." Though her memories of the wizard are pretty sketchy. Her mind was pretty far gone by the time he'd arrived. "And there are literally hundreds of wizards who might know me as a Prewett." Given that they all went through Hogwarts together. "I /want/ to believe the second theory, but that doesn't necessarily make it true, does it?"

Hugh gives a brisk nod, "Quite so. You agree the logic, at least? I'm working on the assumptions that, firstly, the killer is sane, and secondly they had some purpose for not killing you. Twice."

"No one in my family would have killed Alis," Shelley remarks quietly. Alis had been welcomed into their family. "I wish I had the answers. I really do. It's a good theory - it's sickening, but it's a good theory. Especially with all this Grindelwald vitreol."

You say, "Including your extended one? You were… very close, afterall… and some people might not approve of that."

Shelley gets a sick feeling in the pit of her stomach - and it shows on her features. "It wasn't like that…" she protests. But enough people /thought/ it had been. "I… I'll have to think about that, Carruthers." That is one sick and deeply disturbing thought, however. Perhaps even bring it up with her mother and see what she has to say about the extended family.

Hugh gives a little shrug, "It was thought to be so, when we were at School. And you moved in together afterwards. And she wasn't Pure Blooded." His tone is mild. Perhaps slightly apologetic.

Shelley's expression is tight, the white of her knuckles showing as she grips the file in her hand. "I know it was," she confirms grimly. "I'll… I'll think on it," she promises, before moving to walk past him.

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